Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

September 2004

He said, she said...

He said, "She said that they said that he said that she said that he didn't say it."

But who's to say?

You would think that it should be easy to agree to a set of facts before ripping into each other about politics, ethics, diets and computer operating systems. But no, it's just not in the cards.

Really, since that cool January day when I heard on CNN that Clinton had messed around with an intern, I have not been able to find agreement with anyone about the factual nature of anything. I'm pretty sure that was January 1999. Do you agree?

One of the things that make a discussion of ethics difficult is the fact that there are three basic ethical systems. The first, drawing on the work of Aristotle, holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person's society.

The second, defended particularly by Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from a knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings.

Third, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number. I lifted most of this paragraph off the Web. Was I unethical?

The Atkins diet works like a charm and has been proven to be heart-healthy, easy to follow but not quite as exciting as the South Beach diet. Carbs and calories both count unless you work out like a fiend. The only people who haven't a clue about losing weight don't need to. Don't you agree?

Microsoft operating systems for personal computers marketed as Windows this-or-that are not very well thought of by real computer gurus. They prefer Linux or any Apple Mac to what they call "Windoze." Since I have no idea what an operating system is I would just as soon keep what I've got, whatever it is. Doesn't that make sense? Just because I admit that I don't know what I'm talking about, does that somehow invalidate my opinion?

Can't we just agree that all this disputacious roar that we've been subjecting ourselves to is Bill Clinton's fault?