The Corner

Point Two

This will be much shorter, I promise. Jonathan says that “true conservatives” oppose government intrusionon ideological grounds first and only secondarily or marginally on empirical grounds. As I suggested below, he thinks this because he’s loaded the definitions to his maximum convenience. For a great, great, great (yes three greats) many conservatives, Jonathan has the causation exactly backwards. They are philosophically committed to conservative economics because that’s where the data brought them, not the other way around. This, after all, is the story of the famous neocons who started out as communists and socialists and finally came around to free market economics because the data convinced them (the same holds true for many of the founders of National Review, many of whom were communists as well). I don’t know enough about Milton Friedman’s biography, but I’d guess he thinks his philosophy cannot be separated from the empirical arguments which support it.

But Jonathan tries to neatly separate the empirical part of the process which makes conservatives conservative in the first place and then trivializes its importance. It’s like saying “‘true surgeons’ are surgeons because they like to cut people open. The fact that they went to medical school and know what they’re doing is mere frosting on the cake.”

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