The presupposition -- enshrined for corporations in U.S. law, but not therefore proven to be true -- that corporations and nations are, in some sense, persons does not really address the question of state action and "state actors." Corporations are not "people" (as you note in the first part of this post), but "legal persons," and that distinction is relevant in determining the kinds of things that individual people can do that corporations cannot.It is not a "presupposition" but a proposition, one recognized in civil society going back thousands of years and an argument built on analogy (and Baileywick would find himself arguing in just those terms in order to justify his own personhood to others if he didn't rely on the law--see the Turing test).
Baileywick is demonstrating a dismaying propensity for answering with the semantic dodge technique (point amplified below).
Among other things, corporations cannot vote. If this is not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, it is only because corporations are not citizens, and do not have the rights guaranteed citizens by the Constitution.Again, we see from Baileywick the apparent suggestion that differences erase similarities, just as we saw with his dismissal of valid comparisons to Adolph Hitler.
It simply isn't possible to erase the existence of valid similarities using any number of differences. A green ball filled with helium and a red ball filled with water are alike in that each is a ball. No appeal to coloration or contents erases the similarity. If Hitler were shaped like a ball, I could say that the green ball is like Hitler in that each is a ball, also.
In the absence of a World Government and international law, even if nations are corporate entities like corporations and act in ways analogous to individual persons, it seems nevertheless far more difficult to hold them accountable for their actions.That's dangerously close to an admission that nations are corporate entities like corporations, acting in ways analogous to individual persons. Perhaps Baileywick will reconsider.
The analogy continues to hold.
Where formal governments do not exist, social organization occurs anyway. Social organization abhors a vacuum. Some form of law will exist, even if by default, through the actions of the entities involved. Those actions may be moral or they may be other than moral, just as with human individuals.
Baileywick seems willing to allow individual sovereignty to be trampled for the sake of national sovereignty (for example, it would apparently be wrong, in Baileywick's eyes, for an outside entity to force a greater expression of individual sovereignty over the current sovereign governmental system in Iran).
Am I wrong, or is there a presupposition built into his preference?
That is not to say that we cannot hold them accountable -- maybe we can; I haven't thought it through -- but their accountability is going to be of a radically different sort than that of people.I'll assume Baileywick makes that latter claim in light of at least some thought.
And the criterion by which we hold them accountable, as well as the things for which we make them account, are not very clear.Baileywick should love that. If we're not certain what the criteria are, then our response will undoubtedly refrain from resorting to oppression or violence (unlike those wicked absolutists who tend to oppress and kill).
This much, however, I am pretty sure is true: if there is a good justification for American production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, then there is a similarly good justification for Iranian production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. In terms of national sovereignty, there ought to be no difference between the U.S. and Iran.Uh-oh. Baileywick is sounding like one of those evil abolutists again (his "pretty sure" notwithstanding). If his opinion about how the U.S. and Iran "ought" to have no difference between them respecting custodianship of nuclear weapons is to be taken seriously, then it would seem to have to be something along the lines of an absolute. Otherwise, Baileywick needs to consider that the opposite may well be true (that the U.S. has a right to such weapons while Iran does not--and that does seem to be the case if we bother to consider the NNP treaty signed by both parties), and on what basis would Baileywick elevate his own opinion over that of the one in polar disagreement?
One more thing:Correct. One merely needs to be willing to hold to a self-stultifying position (the one who holds that no one is justified in holding others to one's own moral standards is evidently trying to hold others to his own moral standard).
One need not be a relativist to believe that no one is justified in holding others to one's own moral standards.
The relativist would argue that Ahmadinejad is as justified in believing that the Holocaust never happened as BW is to believe that it did; I do not mean to make this claim, nor ever to deny that I think Ahmadinejad is evil. My only claim in this regard is that my thinking he is evil is not sufficient justification for deposing him and/or attacking/invading his country. If it were, Ahmadinejad would be equally justified inSomewhat a roundabout way for Baileywick to deny being a moral relativist, but I suppose it will do.
his stance toward Israel or the U.S. -- and that would be relativism.
Cleaning up Baileywick's mild ambiguity, it would be relativism if Baileywick's and Ahmadinejad's opposing views were both correct based merely upon the respective (subjective) beliefs themselves. On the other hand, it would be logically possible for Baileywick's opinion to be the absolute universal standard, according to which Ahmadinejad would simply be wrong. It is not, in other words, the justification from Baileywick's own beliefs that produces relativism, but the allowance that the opposite belief could also be the correct belief in an apparently contradictory fashion.
Just because we are convinced of a moral truth does not mean that we are entitled to act as if it is true.I agree that not everything that one believes is necessarily true, and I think that Baileywick's rhetoric is suggestive of a type of paralyzation resulting from epistemic uncertainty.
A paralyzation of foreign policy based on epistemic uncertainty paves a path to ruin. There must be some point at which decisive action may be taken, and at the point the distinction Baileywick likes to make between absolutists and others effectively vanishes. In other words, when one acts as though certain conditions exist even if he is not absolutely certain of those conditions, his actions are indistinguishable from the one who acts as though the conditions exist based on unwavering belief.
This is, perhaps, the first lesson of living in pluralistic societies (whether inter- or intranational in scope).Any society that fails to have significant commonality of worldview is very probably doomed. Theists and deists found a significant common basis expressed in the Declaration of Independence. A society that fails to nurture its common ground prepares itself for Balkanization, division, and eventual downfall.
Case in point, many liberals began talking in apparent seriousness about dividing the country into two parts in the wake of the 2004 election. That talk may only have been suppressed by the prospect of regaining control of congress in 2006. I would expect another loss to bring on another round of that sort of talk, with perhaps an increased degree of seriousness.