I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday, Alfred George talked about the fact that Tradition is full of foolishness, injustice, and irrationality, in addition to whatever truth it may contain, and he showed that this makes it impossible to justify any particular tradition solely on the basis that it is traditional.
Today he treats the question of how much Tradition should be respected.
We will take up our account of his post after the bifurcated twin spiralate orange things.
Mr. George begins by noting that Tradition should only be accepted to the extent that it contains truth and wisdom. If it delivers instead stupidity, injustice, or irrationality, it must be dumped.
This is really just common sense. If you find out that something you’ve always done is killing you, it’s just not rational to continue practicing that habit. So too with Tradition. If there is a practice that is condoned by a long-standing tradition, but it becomes clear that it is harmful to people either individually or collectively, then that practice needs to be overthrown and a new tradition needs to be established in its place.He goes on to say that there is only one useful argument to made against overturning Tradition when it is found wanting, and that is the argument from stability is society. That argument is:
Tradition should not be changed too quickly, for people don’t change overnight. Even if a tradition should be changed, it should be changed slowly, for the sake of societal stability.He points out, however, that, although this argument holds some force, it should never be allowed to paper over a real and harmful injustice.
But this argument should not be allowed to become an excuse for retaining an outdated tradition, especially when it is harmful and unjust. . . .You can read the whole post here.
[C]an societal stability be more important than justice? It depends upon the circumstances. If retaining the old tradition does not severely harm anyone, then a slow adjustment period may be justified. If, on the other hand, people’s lives, property, or rights are being violated by the old tradition, then very little weight should be given to the sensibilities of the less adaptable. In this case, the old tradition was always unjust, and it should be removed as soon as possible. The less adaptable will just have to get used to behaving justly rather than unjustly. . . .
And even if there are circumstances which justify a phase-in period, there should be a clear statement made about the wrongness of the old tradition, and about the length of time it will continue to be tolerated by the decent people of society.
Tomorrow, Mr. George will take up the relation between Religion and Tradition, and will answer the question of how much stability society really needs.
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.