Monday, September 12, 2005

Eucharistic Sacrifice: Witness of the Church Fathers and the Bible, Part III (vs. "CPA")

By Dave Armstrong (9-12-05)

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia offers an excellent compendium of patristic evidences for the Sacrifice of the Mass:

In the Didache or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles", the oldest post-Biblical literary monument (c. A.D. 96), not only is the" breaking of bread" (cf. Acts, xx, 7) referred to as a "sacrifice" (Thysia) and mention made of reconciliation with one's enemy before the sacrifice (cf. Matt., v, 23), but the whole passage is crowned with an actual quotation of the prophecy of Malachias, which referred, as is well known, to an objective and real sacrifice (Didache, c. xiv). The early Christians gave the name of "sacrifice"; not only to the Eucharistic "thanksgiving," but also to the entire ritual celebration including the liturgical "breaking of bread", without at first distinguishing clearly between the prayer and the gift (Bread and Wine, Body and Blood). When Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107), a disciple of the Apostles, says of the Eucharist: "There is only one flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, only one chalice containing His one Blood, one altar (en thysiasterion), as also only one bishop with the priesthood and the deacons" (Ep., ad. Philad. iv), he here gives to the liturgical Eucharistic celebration, of which alone he speaks, by his reference to the "altar" an evidently sacrificial meaning, often as he may use the word "altar" in other contexts in a metaphorical sense.

A heated controversy had raged round the conception of Justin Martyr (d. 166) from the fact that in his "Dialogue with Tryphon" (c. 117) he characterizes "prayer and thanksgiving" (euchai kai eucharistiai) as the "one perfect sacrifice acceptable to God" (teleiai monai kai euarestoi thysiai). Did he intend by thus emphasizing the interior spiritual sacrifice to exclude the exterior real sacrifice of the Eucharist? Clearly he did not, for in the same "Dialogue" (c. 41) he says the "food offering" of the lepers, assuredly a real gift offering (cf. Levit, xiv), was a figure (typos) of the bread of the Eucharist, which Jesus commanded to be offered (poiein) in commemoration of His sufferings." He then goes on: "of the sacrifices which you (the Jews) formerly offered, God through Malachias said: 'I have no pleasure, etc'. By the sacrifices (thysion), however, which we Gentiles present to Him in every place, that is (toutesti) of the bread of Eucharist and likewise of the chalice Eucharist, he then said that we glorify his name, while you dishonour him". Here "bread and chalice" are by the use of toutesti clearly included as objective gift offerings in the idea of the Christian sacrifice. If the other apologists (Aristides, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Arnobius) vary the thought a great deal -- God has no need of sacrifice; the best sacrifice is the knowledge of the Creator; sacrifice and altars are unknown to the Christians -- it is to be presumed not only that under the imposed by the disciplina arcani they withheld the whole truth, but also that they rightly repudiated all connection with pagan idolatry, the sacrifice of animals, and heathen altars. Tertullian bluntly declared: "we offer no sacrifice (non sacrificamus) because we cannot eat both the Supper of God and that of demons" (De spectac., c., xiii). And yet in another passage (De orat., c., xix) he calls Holy Communion "participation in the sacrifice" (participatio sacrificii), which is accomplished "on the altar of God" (ad aram Dei); he speaks (De cult fem., II, xi) of a real, not a mere metaphorical, "offering up of sacrifice" (sacrificium offertur); he dwells still further as a Montanist (de pudicit, c., ix) as well on the "nourishing power of the Lord's Body" (opimitate dominici corporis) as on the "renewal of the immolation of Christ" (rursus illi mactabitur Christus).

With Irenaeus of Lyons there comes a turning point, in as much as he, with conscious clearness, first puts forward "bread and wine" as objective gift offerings, but at the same time maintains that these elements become the "body and blood" of the Word through consecration, and thus by simply combining these two thoughts we have the Catholic Mass of today. According to him (Adv. haer., iv, 18, 4) it is the Church alone "that offers the pure oblation" (oblationem puram offert), whereas the Jews "did not receive the Word, which is offered (or through whom an offering is made) to God" (non receperunt Verbum quod [aliter, per quod] offertur Deo). Passing over the teaching of the Alexandrine Clement and Origen, whose love of allegory, together with the restrictions of the disciplina arcani, involved their writings in mystic obscurity, we make particular mention of Hippolytus of Rome (d. 235) whose celebrated fragment Achelis has wrongly characterized as spurious. He writes (Fragm. in Prov., ix, i, P. G., LXXX, 593), "The Word prepared His Precious and immaculate Body (soma) and His Blood (aima), that daily kath'ekasten) are set forth as a sacrifice (epitelountai thyomena) on the mystic and Divine table (trapeze) as a memorial of that ever memorable first table of the mysterious supper of the Lord". Since according to the judgment of even Protestant historians of dogma, St. Cyprian (d. 258) is to be regarded as the "herald" of Catholic doctrine on the Mass, we may likewise pass him over, as well as Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) and Chrysostom (d. 407) who have been charged with exaggerated "realism", and whose plain discourses on the sacrifice rival those of Basil (d. 379), Gregory of Nyssa (d. c. 394) and Ambrose (d. 397). Only about Augustine (d. 430) must a word be said, since, in regard to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist he is cited as favouring the "symbolical" theory. Now it is precisely his teaching on sacrifice that best serves to clear away the suspicion that he inclined to a merely spiritual interpretation.

For Augustine nothing is more certain than that every religion, whether true or false, must have an exterior form of celebration and worship (Contra Faust., xix, 11). This applies as well to Christians (l. c., xx, 18), who "commemorate the sacrifice consummated (on the cross) by the holiest oblation and participation of the Body and Blood of Christ" (celebrant sacrosancta oblatione et participatione corporis et sanguinis Christi). The Mass is, in his eyes (De Civ. Dei, X, 20), the "highest and true sacrifice" (summum verumque sacrificium), Christ being at once "priest and victim" (ipse offerens, ipse et oblatio) and he reminds the Jews (Adv. Jud, ix, 13) that the sacrifice of Malachias is now made in every place (in omni loco offerri sacrificium Christianorum). He relates of his mother Monica (Confess., ix, 13) that she had asked for prayers at the altar (ad altare) for her soul and had attended Mass daily. From Augustine onwards the current of the Church's tradition flows smoothly along in a well-ordered channel, without check or disturbance, through the Middle Ages to our own time. Even the powerful attempt made to stem it through the Reformation had no effect.

Furthermore, in my previous paper, "John Calvin and St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Comparative Eucharistic Theology," I chronicled the opinion of leading Church historians (Philip Schaff, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Jaroslav Pelikan) as to the prevalence and prominence of the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Fathers. Here are a few excerpts (reference sources in the other paper, and bolded emphases added):


Philip Schaff:

In general, this period, . . . was already very strongly inclined toward the doctrine of transubstantiation, and toward the Greek and Roman sacrifice of the mass, which are inseparable in so far as a real sacrifice requires the real presence of the victim.

The realistic and mystic view is represented by several fathers and the early liturgies, whose testimony we shall further cite below. They speak in enthusiastic and extravagant terms of the sacrament and sacrifice of the altar. They teach a real presence of the body and blood of Christ, which is included in the very idea of a real sacrifice . . .

The Catholic church, both Greek and Latin, sees in the Eucharist not only a sacramentum, in which God communicates a grace to believers, but at the same time, and in fact mainly, a sacrificium, in which believers really offer to God that which is represented by the sensible elements. For this view also the church fathers laid the foundation, and it must be conceded they stand in general far more on the Greek and Roman Catholic than on the Protestant side of this question.

The term mass, which properly denoted the dismissal of the congregation (missio, dismissio) at the close of the general public worship, became, after the end of the fourth century, the name for the worship of the faithful, which consisted in the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice and the communion.

The ante-Nicene fathers uniformly conceived the Eucharist as a thank-offering of the church; the congregation offering the consecrated elements of bread and wine, and in them itself, to God. This view is in itself perfectly innocent, but readily leads to the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, as soon as the elements become identified with the body and blood of Christ, and the presence of the body comes to be materialistically taken.

. . . The doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass is much further developed in the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers, . . .

. . . 2. It is not a new sacrifice added to that of the cross, but a daily, unbloody repetition and perpetual application of that one only sacrifice. Augustine represents it, on the one hand, as a sacramentum memoriae, a symbolical commemoration of the sacrificial death of Christ; to which of course there is no objection. But, on the other hand, he calls the celebration of the communion verissimum sacrificium of the body of Christ. The church, he says, offers (immolat) to God the sacrifice of thanks in the body of Christ, from the days of the apostles through the sure succession of the bishops down to our time. But the church at the same time offers, with Christ, herself, as the body of Christ, to God. As all are one body, so also all are together the same sacrifice. According to Chrysostom the same Christ, and the whole Christ, is everywhere offered. It is not a different sacrifice from that which the High Priest formerly offered, but we offer always the same sacrifice, or rather, we perform a memorial of this sacrifice. This last clause would decidedly favor a symbolical conception, if Chrysostom in other places had not used such strong expressions as this: "When thou seest the Lord slain, and lying there, and the priest standing at the sacrifice," or: "Christ lies slain upon the altar."

The sacrifice is the anti-type of the Mosaic sacrifice, and is related to it as substance to typical shadows. It is also especially foreshadowed by Melchizedek’s unbloody offering of bread and wine. The sacrifice of Melchizedek is therefore made of great account by Hilary, Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, and other church fathers, on the strength of the well-known parallel in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

From: F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, editors, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford Univ. Press, 2nd ed., 1983, pp.476, 1221:

It was also widely held from the first that the Eucharist is in some sense a sacrifice, though here again definition was gradual . . . In early post-NT times the constant repudiation of carnal sacrifice and emphasis on life and prayer at Christian worship did not hinder the Eucharist from being described as a sacrifice from the first . . .

From early times the Eucharistic offering was called a sacrifice in virtue of its immediate relation to the sacrifice of Christ.

Jaroslav Pelikan:

By the date of the Didache [anywhere from about 60 to 160, depending on the scholar]. . . the application of the term 'sacrifice' to the Eucharist seems to have been quite natural, together with the identification of the Christian Eucharist as the 'pure offering' commanded in Malachi 1:11 . . .

The Christian liturgies were already using similar language about the offering of the prayers, the gifts, and the lives of the worshipers, and probably also about the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass, so that the sacrificial interpretation of the death of Christ never lacked a liturgical frame of reference . . .


Anglican patristics expert J.N.D. Kelly can be added to the list, too (I've added the references in his footnotes in brackets):

. . . the Eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice from the closing decade of the first century, if not earlier. Malachi’s prediction (1:10 f.) that the Lord would reject the Jewish sacrifices and instead would have 'a pure offering' made to Him by the Gentiles in every place was early seized [did. 14,3; Justin, dial. 41,2 f.; Irenaeus, haer. 4,17,5] upon by Christians as a prophecy of the eucharist. The Didache indeed actually applies [14, 1] the term thusia, or sacrifice, to the eucharist, and the idea is presupposed by Clement in the parallel he discovers [40-4] between the Church's ministers and the Old Testament priests and levites . . . Ignatius's reference [Philad. 4] to 'one altar, just as there is one bishop', reveals that he, too thought in sacrificial terms. Justin speaks [Dial. 117,1] of 'all the sacrifices in this name which Jesus appointed to be performed, viz. in ther eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are celebrated in every place by Christians'. Not only here but elsewhere [Ib. 41,3] too, he identifies 'the bread of the eucharist, and the cup likewise of the eucharist', with the sacrifice foretold by Malachi. For Irenaeus [Haer. 4,17,5] the eucharist is 'the new oblation of the new covenant', . . .

It was natural for early Christians to think of the eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfillment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which our Lord invested the Last Supper. The words of institution, ‘Do this’ (touto poieite), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood [1 apol. 66,3; cf. dial. 41,1] them to mean, ‘Offer this.’ . . . Justin . . . makes it plain [Dial. 41,3] that the bread and the wine themselves were the 'pure offering' foretold by Malachi . . . he uses [1 apol. 65,3-5] the term 'thanksgiving' as technically equivalent to 'the eucharistized bread and wine'. The bread and wine, moreover, are offered ‘for a memorial (eis anamnasin) of the passion,’ a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord’s body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection. Altogether it would seem that, while his language is not fully explicit, Justin is feeling his way to the conception of the eucharist as the offering of the Saviour's passion.

(J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, San Francisco: HarperCollins, revised edition, 1978, 196–197)

Kelly also thinks that "Irenaeus's thought moves along rather different lines and does not link the eucharist so closely with Christ's atoning death" (p. 197). This poses no problem for Catholics (assuming it is true), because one can always find exceptions to the general patristic consensus among individual Fathers. The Protestant still has to account for why the sacrificial view eventually completely dominated in the development of eucharistic theology after the 3rd or 4th century, and why, if this is rank heresy, it did so. Can the entire Christian Church fall into heresy? Would not the Holy Spirit protect His Church? Etc. Protestants who attempt to square their views with the Church Fathers, are, I submit, always fighting a distinctly uphill, difficult battle. Hats off to any who make the attempt (at least that is better than being ahistorical), but I don't think it can be done.

For further similar patristic utterances, see the Catholic Answers collection, The Sacrifice of the Mass, Envoy's The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the article, Is the Mass a Sacrifice?, by
Jason Evert.

Eucharistic Sacrifice: Witness of the Church Fathers and the Bible, Part II (vs. "CPA")

By Dave Armstrong (9-12-05)

In this portion, I shall give an overview of what Catholics feel is solid biblical evidence in support of the Sacrifice of the Mass:

The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews is Christ as our High Priest. As such, the "priestly" verses are very numerous (for example, 2:17, 3:1, 4:14-16, 5:1-10, 6:20, 7:1-28, 8:1-6, 9:11-15, 24-28, 10:19-22). The teaching here acquires much more meaning within Catholic Eucharistic theology, whereas, in evangelical, non-sacramental Protestant interpretation, it is necessarily "spiritualized" away. For nearly all Protestants, Jesus Christ is a priest only insofar as He dies sacrificially as the "Lamb" and does away with the Old Testament notion of animal sacrifice. This is not false, but it is a partial truth. Generally speaking, for the Catholic, there is much more of a sense of the ever-present Sacrifice of Calvary, due to the nature of the Mass, rather than considering the Cross a past event alone.

In light of the repeated references in Hebrews to Melchizedek as the prototype of Christ's priesthood (5:6,10, 6:20, 7:1-3,17,20), it follows that this priesthood is perpetual (forever), not one time only. For no one would say, for example, that Christ is King (present tense) if in fact He were only King for a short while in the past. This (Catholic) interpretation is borne out by explicit evidence in Hebrews 7:24-25:

He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

If Jesus perpetually intercedes for us, why should He not also permanently present Himself as Sacrifice to His Father? The connecting word, consequently, appears to affirm this scenario. The very notion, fundamental to all strains of Christian theology, that the Cross and the Blood are efficacious here and now for the redemption of sinners, presupposes a dimension of "presentness" to the Atonement.

Granting that premise, it only remains to deny that God could, would, or should truly and actually re-present this one Sacrifice in the Mass. God certainly can do this, since He is omnipotent. He wills to do this because Jesus commanded the observance of the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19). Lastly, one can convincingly contend that He should do this in order to graphically "bring home" to Christians His Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, and to impart grace in a real and profound way in Communion. The one propitiatory Atonement of Calvary is a past event, but the appropriation of its spiritual benefits to Christians is an ongoing process, in which the Mass plays a central role.

The Sacrifice of the Mass, like the Real Presence in the Eucharist, is an extension of the Incarnation. Accordingly, there is no rational a priori objection (under monotheistic premises) to the concept of God transcending time and space in order to present Himself to His disciples. Nor is there any denying that the Sacrifice of Calvary is always present to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, God the Son. How then, can anyone deny that God could make the Cross sacramentally present to us as well?

Hebrews 7:24: "He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever" is not just a one-time priestly sacrifice of Himself that has no application to His priesthood beyond the time it occurred in history). Yes, we agree that Jesus sacrificed Himself once on the Cross (7:27). But that is a one-time act, in history. Why, then, does 7:26 continue to refer to Jesus as a "high priest" in the present tense, "exalted above the heavens"? It is this paradoxical interplay between the one act and the "present-ness" of Jesus' priesthood that suggests a timeless nature of the sacrifice: precisely what Catholics claim is occurring at the Mass: the one-time sacrifice is being made present to us, because Jesus is a priest "forever."

It makes little sense to me to keep referring to Jesus as a "priest" in the present tense when He is (according to most Protestants) no longer doing at all what a priest does (sacrifice). Jesus sacrificed Himself as the Lamb of God. That was His priestly act (this is stated explicitly in 7:27, so it cannot be doubted).

But if that was strictly a past tense and not perpetual, why keep calling Him a priest after He is glorified in heaven? It would seem much more sensible to refer to His one-time priestly act, rather than continuing to call Him something denoting a characteristic activity that He is no longer performing.

If He is actively saving men -- present and future tense -- (as is undoubtedly true), but is doing so as a priest then He is presently saving by the sacrifice of Himself (i.e., the priestly act) which is an act made eternally "now". Thus we are right to the heart of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the same concept. Jesus saves us as a priest. The sacrifice is of both an ongoing and salvific nature. This is the Mass!

Jesus' Sacrifice is not only present to us on earth, but also in heaven. An "altar" is mentioned as in heaven, in the book of Revelation many times (6:9, 8:3,5, 9:13, 11:1, 14:18, 16:7). Why is this, if altars and priesthood ceased with the one Sacrifice of Jesus? This is after Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension. Nor is it just Jesus at this altar in heaven. We are told that the "prayers of the saints" are being offered there (5:8-9, 8:3-4). Altars are also mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament.

The climactic scene of the glorious portrayal of worship and adoration in heaven occurs in Rev 5:1-7. Verse 6 describes "a Lamb standing as though it had been slain." Since the Lamb (Jesus, of course) is revealed as sitting in the midst of God's throne (5:6, 7:17, 22:1,3; cf. Matthew 19:28, 25:31, Hebrews 1:8), which is in front of the golden altar (8:3), then it appears that the presentation of Christ to the Father as a Sacrifice is an ongoing (from God's perspective, timeless) occurrence, precisely as in Catholic teaching. Thus the Mass is no more than what occurs in heaven, according to the clear revealed word of Scripture. When Hebrews speaks of a sacrifice made once (7:27), this is from a purely human, historical perspective (which Catholicism acknowledges in holding that the Mass is a "re-presentation" of the one sacrifice at Calvary). However, there is a transcendent aspect of the Sacrifice as well.

Jesus is referred to as the Lamb 28 times throughout Revelation (compared to four times in the rest of the New Testament: John 1:29,36, Acts 8:32, 1 Peter 1:19). Why, in Revelation (of all places), if the Crucifixion is a past event, and the Christian's emphasis ought to be on the resurrected, glorious, kingly Jesus, as is stressed in Protestantism (as evidenced by a widespread disdain for, crucifixes)? Obviously, the heavenly emphasis is on Jesus' Sacrifice, which is communicated by God to John as present and "now" (Revelation 5:6; cf. Hebrews 7:24). The very notion of "lamb" possesses inherent sacrificial and priestly connotations in the Bible.

If this aspect is of such paramount importance even in the afterlife, then certainly it should be just as real and significant to us. The Sacrifice of the Mass bridges all the gaps of space and time between our Crucified Savior on the Cross and ourselves. Therefore, nothing at all in the Mass is improper, implausible, or unscriptural.

The Book of Hebrews and the scenes in heaven in the Book of Revelation are suffused with a worldview and “atmosphere” which is very "Catholic.” The Mass, rightly understood, fulfills every aspect of the above passages, most particularly in the sense of Christ as the ultimate Priest for Whom the earthly priest "stands in," and in the timeless and transcendent character of the Sacrifice "made present" at Mass, but never deemed to be an addition to, or duplication of, the one bloody Sacrifice of our Lord at Calvary.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, in an explicitly eucharistic passage, uses language suggesting that he sees the eucharist as a sacrifice involving an altar (hence priesthood, hence the Sacrifice of the Mass): He mentions the "altar" of the Old Covenant in 10:18 and makes a direct analogy with the altar of the New Covenant in 10:21:

You cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
Catholic theologian and exegete Fernand Prat, S.J., comments on 1 Corinthians 10:
Wishing to show to the Corinthians that participating in idolatrous banquets is forbidden, whatever intention one may bring to them, because it is a scandal, a danger, and a formal act of idolatry, the Apostle appeals to their consciences: ". . . Behold Israel according to the flesh. Are not they that eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" And St. Paul, deducing a code of morality from this doctrine, concludes in these words: "The things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God. I would not that you should be made partakers with devils [then the above passage follows]." If the arguments of the Apostle are not fallacious, the eucharistic communion is for Christians what the eating of food sacrificed to idols was for the Gentiles and what the sacred repast was for the Jews. Now the sacred banquet has a religious significance: it constitutes an act of worship in that it is a complement of the sacrifice and unites the faithful with the sacrificing priest, with the altar where the victim was immolated and with the victim itself.
(The Theology of St. Paul, translated from the 10th French edition by John L. Stoddard, Westminster, MD: The Newman Bookshop, 1952, vol. 2 of 2, 268)
Even non-sacramental Baptists and many other Protestants have not completely avoided the language of priestly sacrifice, since they still speak of the "Lord's table"and even an "altar call." What altar? That is the language of priesthood and sacrifice. So Protestants can't help retaining a remnant of New Testament eucharistic and sacrificial, priestly talk. Hebrews 13:10 states that "we have an altar." Again, why, if the old system of priesthood is gone and the only priesthood of the New Covenant is that of Christ at Calvary? This is the New Covenant.

Eucharistic Sacrifice: Witness of the Church Fathers and the Bible, Part I (vs. "CPA")

By Dave Armstrong (9-12-05)

Overview of CPA's Position

"CPA", a Lutheran, has written a multi-part series on his blog about Dom Gregory Dix's book, Shape of the Liturgy:

The Sacrifice of the Mass

Why Do We Need to Eat Christ's Body?

Sacrifice? Could You Unpack That Please?

Dix on the Ante-Nicene Theology of the Eucharistic Sacrifice

More on Sacrifice

In a nutshell: Dix argues that sacrifice was indeed a prominent motif in the Fathers, even in the ante-Nicene period. CPA disputes this. Here are a few of his comments (in green), to give readers a capsule summary of his position (from the last two papers listed above):

Dix first emphasizes, against skeptical critics, that the sacrificial understanding of the crucifixion was not added on later, but the only possible interpretation of the crucifixion that could make sense and allow the continued existence of movement formed around Jesus . . .

. . . in the reading the sources he presents, nowhere do we see the idea that the Body and Blood of the Lord is actually being offered to God by the bishop or church.

we can suddenly notice that the "offering" of Christ's sacrifice and the "re-calling" of Christ's sacrifice are in fact not the same thing, or at any rate, not the same words, and that by his own account, in Clement, Justin, and Hippolytus, the offering of bread and wine are offered and Christ's sacrifice is re-called. Dix himself throughout implies that offering the bread and wine is synonymous with offering Christ's sacrifice (as opposed to the church's own sacrifice of thanksgiving), but without offering evidence that any ante-Nicene father before Cyprian treated the issue in the same way.

When it comes to Cyprian himself, he notes the innovation but adds, "There is no reason whatever to suppose that Cyprian was the inventor of defining the eucharistic sacrifice, or in any intentional way its partisan" (p. 115). But there is not reason to suppose he wasn't either. There appears to be no evidence either way, since the idea that the Eucharist "offers the Lord's passion" is simply unknown in any previous source.

. . . There is more theological meat here than Dix seems to have recognized, meat which clearly aligns Justin's understanding of the Eucharistic sacrifice as a thank-offering for creation and redemption. In fact, Justin is clearly not saying that this rememberance of Christ's sacrifice is a re-presentation, a renewed propitiatory action (to use Tridentine terminology) of Christ's death. So far from being some sort of intermediate between Cyprian's doctrine of the Eucharist as a propitiatory offering of the Lord's passion, and Irenaeus's doctrine of it as a thank offering for creation and redemption, Justin Martyr is clearly simply expounding the Irenaean viewpoint. Assuming, as would seem legitimate, that Irenaeus certainly accepted that the Eucharist was a memorial/re-calling/remembrance of the Lord's Passion, one can thus say that all of the ante-Nicene authors, except Cyprian, understand the Eucharist in a three-fold way:

1) as a thanksgiving sacrifice of created things by the church as a whole to God for the gifts of creation and redemption;
2) as a remembrance/re-calling/anamnesis of the Lord's passion
3) that it is the true Body and Blood of our Lord.

None link sacrifice to anamnesis so as to make it an offering of Christ's sacrifice.

. . . Dix has in no sense proven his point that the propitiatory offering of the Lord's passion, to use a combined Cyprianic-Tridentine way of speaking, is either a part of the pre-Cyprianic Christian doctrine, or that Luther was a bizarre exception in holding to the Real Presence apart from a propitiatory-sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist.

. . . That understanding, that the priest re-presents Christ's passion as a propitiatory sacrifice cannot be found before Cyprian (c. AD 255) . . .

. . . the nature of the sacrifice be understood as a thanksgiving sacrifice, not a propitiatory sacrifice. While the ante-Nicene fathers are pretty vague on this whole distinction, the preponderance of early evidence shows that thanksgiving is indeed the strongly dominant note.

Development of Eucharistic Doctrine in the Fathers

I would emphasize that much of the tacitly assumed "difficulty" in progression of patristic views on this subject can be explained, I think, by the nature of the process of development of doctrine. John Henry Newman, in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, explained how the Fathers' theology built upon what came before, expanding and amplifying it in greater depth (which is exactly what we see with regard to "sacrifice," as with all other aspects of theology):

Doctrine too is percolated, as it were, through different minds, beginning with writers of inferior authority in the Church, and issuing at length in the enunciation of her Doctors. Origen, Tertullian, nay Eusebius and the Antiochenes, {366} supply the materials, from which the Fathers have wrought out comments or treatises. St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil digested into form the theological principles of Origen; St. Hilary and St. Ambrose are both indebted to the same great writer in their interpretations of Scripture; St. Ambrose again has taken his comment on St. Luke from Eusebius, and certain of his Tracts from Philo; St. Cyprian called Tertullian his Master; and traces of Tertullian, in his almost heretical treatises, may be detected in the most finished sentences of St. Leo. The school of Antioch, in spite of the heretical taint of various of its Masters, formed the genius of St. Chrysostom. And the Apocryphal gospels have contributed many things for the devotion and edification of Catholic believers.

The deep meditation which seems to have been exercised by the Fathers on points of doctrine, the disputes and turbulence yet lucid determination which characterize the Councils, the indecision of Popes, are all in different ways, at least when viewed together, portions and indications of the same process. The theology of the Church is no random combination of various opinions, but a diligent, patient working out of one doctrine from many materials. The conduct of Popes, Councils, Fathers, betokens the slow, painful, anxious taking up of new truths into an existing body of belief. St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Leo are conspicuous for the repetition in terminis of their own theological statements; on the contrary, it has been observed of the heterodox Tertullian, that his works "indicate no ordinary fertility of mind in that he so little repeats himself or recurs to favourite thoughts, as is frequently the case even with the great St. Augustine." {367}

Here we see the difference between originality of mind and the gift and calling of a Doctor in the Church; the holy Fathers just mentioned were intently fixing their minds on what they taught, grasping it more and more closely, viewing it on various sides, trying its consistency, weighing their own separate expressions. And thus if in some cases they were even left in ignorance, the next generation of teachers completed their work, for the same unwearied anxious process of thought went on. St. Gregory Nyssen finishes the investigations of St. Athanasius; St. Leo guards the polemical statements of St. Cyril. Clement may hold a purgatory, yet tend to consider all punishment purgatorial; St. Cyprian may hold the unsanctified state of heretics, but include in his doctrine a denial of their baptism; St. Hippolytus may believe in the personal existence of the Word from eternity, yet speak confusedly on the eternity of His Sonship; the Council of Antioch might put aside the Homoüsion, and the Council of Nicæa impose it; St. Hilary may believe in a purgatory, yet confine it to the day of judgment; St. Athanasius and other Fathers may treat with almost supernatural exactness the doctrine of our Lord's incarnation, yet imply, as far as words go, that He was ignorant viewed in His human nature; the Athanasian Creed may admit the illustration of soul and body, and later Fathers may discountenance it; St. Augustine might first be opposed to the employment of force in religion, and then acquiesce in it. Prayers for the faithful departed may be found in the early liturgies, yet with an indistinctness which included the Blessed Virgin and the Martyrs in the same rank with the imperfect Christian whose sins were as yet unexpiated; and succeeding times might keep what was exact, and supply what was deficient. Aristotle might be reprobated by certain early Fathers, yet {368} furnish the phraseology for theological definitions afterwards. And in a different subject-matter, St. Isidore and others might be suspicious of the decoration of Churches; St. Paulinus and St. Helena advance it. And thus we are brought on to dwell upon the office of grace, as well as of truth, in enabling the Church's creed to develope and to absorb without the risk of corruption.

(Part II, Chapter 8, Sections 10-11)

This is how development always proceeds; hence what we see as we examine this subject is precisely what we would expect to find. The earlier writers believe in a primitive form what the later writers develop into a more complex, nuanced theology. That's altogether to be expected, and entails no great difficulty for the Catholic position.

But CPA's view (if I am understanding it correctly) requires the odd scenario of having to believe that no Father before St. Cyprian really taught what he did (not even in kernel form), and then somehow the Cyprianic view (for some strange reason that we are not told) overwhelmed all others and became the status quo (and involved inherent blasphemies and outrageous perversions of true eucharistic doctrine). These corruptions would have to wait for "Super-Fathers" Luther and Calvin to arrive on the scene, to denounce the status quo and received Tradition, and help usher the Church back to the true gospel, which - so they endlessly informed their followers - had been obscured in a sacerdotal, idolatrous haze for the previous thousand or so years.

In my opinion, this outlook is not only implausible; it also trivializes and cheapens the necessary, remarkable theological groundwork of the Church Fathers. It requires one to interpret their legacy as a chaotic mess, often teetering on the edge of severe heterodoxy, or indeed, crossing over into it. Rather than take them for what they are, it too quickly superimposes (or presupposes) later theology which is arguably itself heterodox (in this case, Lutheranism, vis-a-vis the sacrifice of the Mass). But I am getting ahead of myself.

I wanted to lay on the table my ultimate presuppositions: I believe that, as a whole, patristic theology develps consistently, in one direction, and that it culminates in the fully-developed Catholic Church. Protestants, it seems to me, must deny that this was what happened in history. they have to either deny the validity of development of doctrine itself, or argue that the consistent developments all went in the direction of Protestantism, while the corrupt strains of thought formed medieval and modern Catholicism. This is no easy task at all. Cardinal Newman wrote about this general line of thought, in his Difficulties of Anglicans (Lecture 12, Part 7):

No other form of Christianity but this present Catholic Communion, has a pretence to resemble, even in the faintest shadow, the Christianity of Antiquity, viewed as a living religion on the stage of the world . . . You may make ten thousand extracts from the Fathers, and not get deeper into the state of their times than the paper you write upon; to imbibe into the intellect the Ancient Church as a fact, is either to be a Catholic or an infidel . . . it was that Antiquity, instead of leading me from the Holy See as it leads many, on the contrary drew me on to submit to its claims. But, even had I worked out for you these various arguments ever so fully, I should have brought before you but a secondary portion of the testimony which the Ancient Church seemed to me to supply to its own identity with the modern. What was far more striking to me than the ecclesiastical phenomena which I have been drawing out, remarkable as they are, is a subject of investigation which is not of a nature to introduce into a popular lecture; I mean the history of the doctrinal definitions of the Church. It is well known that, though the creed of the Church has been one and the same from the beginning, yet it has been so deeply lodged in her bosom as to be held by individuals more or less implicitly, instead of being delivered from the first in those special statements, or what are called definitions, under which it is now presented to us, and which preclude mistake or ignorance. These definitions, which are but the expression of portions of the one dogma which has ever been received by the Church, are the work of time; they have grown to their present shape and number in the course of eighteen centuries, under the exigency of successive events, such as heresies and the like, and they may of course receive still further additions {395} as time goes on. Now this process of doctrinal development, as you might suppose, is not of an accidental or random character; it is conducted upon laws, as everything else which comes from God; and the study of its laws and of its exhibition, or, in other words, the science and history of the formation of theology, was a subject which had interested me more than anything else from the time I first began to read the Fathers, and which had engaged my attention in a special way. Now it was gradually brought home to me, in the course of my reading, so gradually, that I cannot trace the steps of my conviction, that the decrees of later Councils, or what Anglicans call the Roman corruptions, were but instances of that very same doctrinal law which was to be found in the history of the early Church; and that in the sense in which the dogmatic truth of the prerogatives of the Blessed Virgin may be said, in the lapse of centuries, to have grown upon the consciousness of the faithful, in that same sense did, in the first age, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity also gradually shine out and manifest itself more and more completely before their minds. Here was at once an answer to the objections urged by Anglicans against the present teaching of Rome; and not only an answer to objections, but a positive argument in its favour; for the immutability and uninterrupted action of the laws in question throughout the course of Church history is a plain note of {396} identity between the Catholic Church of the first ages and that which now goes by that name;—just as the argument from the analogy of natural and revealed religion is at once an answer to difficulties in the latter, and a direct proof that Christianity has the same Author as the physical and moral world. But the force of this, to me ineffably cogent argument, I cannot hope to convey to another.
The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia applies this analysis to the subject of eucharistic sacrifice:
Harnack is of opinion that the early Church up to the time of Cyprian (d. 258) the
contented itself with the purely spiritual sacrifices of adoration and thanksgiving and that it did not possess the sacrifice of the Mass, as Catholicism now understands it . . . . .
Were this assertion correct, the doctrine of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, c. ii), according to which in the Mass "the priests offer up, in obedience to the command of
Christ, His Body and Blood" (see Denzinger, "Enchir", n. 949), could hardly take its stand on Apostolic tradition; the bridge between antiquity and the present would thus have broken by the abrupt intrusion of a completely contrary view. An impartial study of the earliest texts seems indeed to make this much clear, that the early Church paid most attention to the spiritual and subjective side of sacrifice and laid chief stress on prayer and thanksgiving in the Eucharistic function.

This admission, however, is not identical with the statement that the early Church rejected out and out the objective sacrifice, and acknowledged as genuine only the
spiritual sacrifice as expressed in the "Eucharistic thanksgiving". That there has been an historical dogmatic development from the indefinite to the definite, from the
implicit to the explicit, from the seed to the fruit, no one familiar with the subject will deny. An assumption so reasonable, the only one in fact consistent with Christianity, is, however, fundamently different from the hypothesis that the Christian idea of
sacrifice has veered from one extreme to the other. This is a priori improbable
and unproved in fact.
Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, writing as a Lutheran (he is now Orthodox) essentially concurs:
The definitive and precise formulation of the crucial doctrinal issues concerning the Eucharist had to await that controversy and others that followed even later. This does not mean at all, however, that the church did not yet have a doctrine of the Eucharist; it does mean that the statements of the doctrine must not be sought in polemical and dogmatic treatises devoted to sacramental theology. It means also that the effort to cross-examine the fathers of the second or third century about where they stood in the controversies of the ninth or sixteenth century is both silly and futile.

. . . As Irenaeus's reference to the Eucharist as "not common bread" indicates, however, this doctrine of the real presence believed by the church and affirmed by its liturgy was closely tied to the idea of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Many of the passages we have already cited concerning the recollection and the real presence spoke also of the sacrifice . . .

. . . Liturgical evidence suggests an understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, whose relation to the sacrifices of the Old Testament was one of archetype to type, and whose relation to the sacrifice of Calvary was one of "re-presentation," just as the bread of the Eucharist "re-presented" the body of Christ.

. . . Great theological refinement was needed before these modes of speaking could be built up into a eucharistic theology; above all, the doctrine of the person of Christ had to be clarified before there could be concepts that could bear the weight of eucharistic teaching.

(The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), University of Chicago Press: 1971, 166-168, 170)


Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Debate: Did I Commit the Fallacy of Appeal to Authority or Call My Opponents "Murderers"?

By Dave Armstrong (9-10-05)

Fallacy of Appeal to Authority

One frequent charge in critiques about what I have written on this topic is that I have committed the "appeal to authority" fallacy (in Latin: argumentum ad verecundiam) over and over again in my replies. In fact, once my perspective is correctly understood, and clarified through example and further argument, the unbiased observer will readily see that I have never committed it at all.

I never once made a statement to the effect of, "my position on this issue is correct, and is logically proven solely because persons x, y, and z said so," or, "I am citing all these authorities to prove my case, in lieu of my own argumentation," or, "believe what I am arguing because persons A and persons B say so." No such thing ever occurred. Nor do I believe any of this - being perfectly aware of what the fallacy is, and desiring (like any fairly able debater) always to avoid it. No one can prove that I am guilty of committing the fallacy. "Much ado about nothing."

The charge has been made simply on the basis that I have indeed cited many people (no argument there!). But the false, unproven hidden premise in the charge is the assumption that my own intention regarding the purpose and function of these citations is in terms of the nature of the fallacy. Failing any real proof that I am committing the fallacy, my critics thus produced no statement like the ones above that could provide actual substantiation of the charge.

Instead, they merely repeated it over and over, as if that is compelling (the fallacy of argumentum repeatum irrelevantum ad nauseum?) and simplistically assumed what they were trying to prove (which is, of course, one of the most famous fallacies).

One can produce citations for many reasons other than appealing to them as alleged self-sufficient "proof" of one's position. Rather commonly, in my writings (anyone who follows them - and this includes my critics - would readily know this), I like to chronicle the opinions of others (something like what is also known in academic circles as "review of the literature").

I have several entire papers which are primarily overviews or compilations of opinion, such as on the subjects of romanticism, or the mind-body question, the ontological argument for God's existence, or nominalism, or the history of views on development of doctrine, among many others. The Internet makes this easy. One can locate information relevant to a topic at hand, that previously would have only been available by visiting a library, doing much research, and making photocopies, etc.

This is a wonderful development in technology and ease of access to information, yet some folks denigrate it as "being a Google scholar." Rather than rejoice in the wonderful opportunities for education therewith enabled, they would rather assume a sourpuss, elitist-type attitude of despising my supposed inability to properly cite sources. Obviously, this process (like anything in this fallen world) can be abused. But whether I have abused it is the question. In any event, it is good in and of itself to chronicle opinion. I did this at length.

In doing so (citing lots of material), one obviously does not intend to convey an impression that one agrees with every jot and tittle of every source cited. This state of affairs is obvious in, e.g., links pages which might offer references pro and con, on any given issue. It's commonly understood that not every link is of equal value, and it's also understood that when laymen and webmasters or blogmasters do this (non-scholars) that absolutely scholarly rigor is neither assumed nor required (though an approximation of that and attempt to approach it insofar as one is able, with his abilities, is clearly a good thing).

That's true in my own case. Not being a scholar myself (though my critics seem to be under the rather odd illusion that I have claimed to be one, or at least an "expert" on topics outside of my range of knowledge), and almost always not an "expert" on the topic I am treating, I will (with, hopefully, the appropriate humility and recognition of my limitations of knowledge) cite many others who have the knowledge and qualifications that I don't have.

To disdainfully call such a process "playing Google scholar" is misguided on at least two grounds: 1) doing such is not making a pretense to being a "scholar" in the first place; thus it is a rather silly, patronizing misnomer; 2) the (in this case, unproven) assumption is made that the person is assuming that all sources are equally compelling or credentialed. "Jordan Potter," a friend who frequents my blog, hit the nail on the head when he stated (paraphrase): "I thought it was obvious that this is a blog, not a peer-reviewed academic journal." Bingo! Expecting a non-scholar to be a scholar in all respects is clearly not a fair - not even a sensible - requirement.

Contrariwise, foolishly acting as if one's own arguments practically reach the level of scholarly detachment and sublime factuality, is equally absurd. In other words, I have been acting as a self-proclaimed layman and non-scholar (thus I cite others a lot, rather than give my own opinion on such momentous issues, which holds no weight at all, standing on its own), and have been accused of playing the pseudo-scholar, while the most vocal and prolific of my opponents acted as if he were on a higher level, when in fact, he has no more standing in academia or credentials than I do.

But before going on further, and debunking the latest ludicrous charges to come my way, let's make sure we understand exactly what this fallacy of appealing to authority, or argumentum ad verecundiam is. To do so we shall consult the most well-known textbook on logic: Irving M. Copi's Introduction to Logic (my copy is the 5th edition, New York: Macmillan, 1978). Copi provides a clear definition and explanation on pages 94-95 (note how what he says in in perfect accord with my own approach to use of sources, and reasoned argument in general):
In attempting to make up one's mind on a difficult and complicated question, one may seek to be guided by the judgment of a genuine, acknowledged expert who can be expected to have studied the matter thoroughly. One may argue that such and such a conclusion is correct because it is the best judgment of such an expert authority. This method of argument is in many cases perfectly legitimate, for the reference to an admitted authority in the special field of that authority's competence may carry great weight and constitute relevant evidence. If laymen are disputing over some question of physical science and one appeals to the testimony of Einstein on the matter, that testimony is very relevant. Although it does not prove the point, it certainly tends to support it. This is a relative matter, however, for if experts rather than laymen are disputing over a question in the field in which they themselves are experts, their appeal would be only to the facts and to reason, and any appeal to the authority of another would be completely without value as evidence.

But when an authority is appealed to for testimony in matters outside the province of that authority's special field, the appeal commits the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. If in an argument over religion one of the disputants appeals to the opinions of Darwin, a great authority in biology, the appeal is fallacious. Similarly, an appeal to the opinions of a great physicist like Einstein to settle a political or economic argument would be fallacious . . . in this day of extreme specialization, to obtain thorough knowledge of one's field requires such concentration as to restrict the possibility of achieving authoritative knowledge in others.
My critic cited one Glen Whitman (no further source given) similarly:
This fallacy occurs when someone tries to demonstrate the truth of a proposition by citing some person who agrees, even though that person may have no expertise in the given area. For instance, some people like to quote Einstein's opinions about politics (he tended to have fairly left-wing views), as though Einstein were a political philosopher rather than a physicist. Of course, it is not a fallacy at all to rely on authorities whose expertise relates to the question at hand, especially with regard to questions of fact that could not easily be answered by a layman - for instance, it makes perfect sense to quote Stephen Hawking on the subject of black holes.

At least in some forms of debate, quoting various sources to support one's position is not just acceptable but mandatory. In general, there is nothing wrong with doing so. Even if the person quoted has no particular expertise in the area, he may have had a particularly eloquent way of saying something that makes for a more persuasive speech. In general, debaters should be called down for committing argumentum ad verecundiam only when (a) they rely on an unqualified source for information about facts without other (qualified) sources of verification, or (b) they imply that some policy must be right simply because so-and-so thought so.
Note the last sentence, which is key. My critics claim I have committed both (a) and (b), when in fact I have committed neither, as will be further demonstrated in due course. (a) is factually-untrue and easily shown to be so; (b) cannot be proven because my opponents cannot produce any hard evidence that I have ever asserted the fallacy or argued as if it were true, and the nature of my argument. So I haven't committed this fallacy at all.

A case could arguably be made, then (though I would not make it myself), based on Copi's and Whitman's own statements, that Whitman is no expert on logic, since it isn't his field (he is an economist); therefore, citing him for the definition is a possible example of the appeal to authority fallacy. As I said, I wouldn't state this, because logic is a basic field that underlies a liberal education and other fields of study. At any rate, however, I cited a philosopher and the most well-known textbook of logic for my definition, whereas my critic cited an economist from an unknown source.

Let me briefly illustrate, then, the utterly groundless charges that my opponents have been making, in terms of this fallacy. As explained above at some length, (b) is not true of my argument. That can be disposed of. If my critics think otherwise, then the burden of proof is on them to produce some hard evidence. Of course they have yet to do so, and thus have been engaging in the fallacy of circular argument, or begging the question, all along, since the mere presence of a bunch of citations does not prove that the person utilizing them was engaged in the fallacy, as properly explained above. I was not.

So we are left with the claims of (a); in Whitman's words: "they rely on an unqualified source for information about facts without other (qualified) sources of verification." Now, my opponents have been trying to build a futile, foolish case that I have relied almost exclusively on unqualified sources to the exclusion of qualified sources. If true, this would clearly constitute an instance of the fallacy. The only problem is that this is untrue, and quite easily shown to be so.

Furthermore, my opponents, being able to read (and presumably, to comprehend an argument) must know this to be untrue by simply looking over my sources (I assume that they have at least read my papers; I don't accuse them of not reading them, as I have been falsely accused vis-a-vis some of theirs).

Leaving aside all the Catholic figures that I have cited, since the debate was largely about how to apply Catholic just war theory in this instance, what military figures have I cited? Well, it's a very long list; among others, I cited the following military authorities or political figures: Eisenhower, Leahy, Hoover, MacArthur, Clarke, Hap Arnold, Curtis LeMay, Halsey, and Montgomery (all opposed to the bombings). Furthermore, I devoted an entire paper to primary documents from Harry Truman and his closest advisers.

Somehow, incredibly, my opponents seemed to think that recourse to Truman's own letters and diaries had no bearing on the act of dropping these bombs, which he authorized. Go figure. Rather than deal with that extremely relevant data (including Truman himself calling the very acts "murder"), they choose to absolutely ignore it and pretend that it didn't exist as part of my presentation. Primary documents relating to the decision mean nothing; Truman's own thoughts are an utter non sequitur and meaningless, according to how my opponents have been acting. But of course this is ludicrous.

I conclude, then, based on the above reasoning, that I have committed no fallacy. The charges against me regarding supposed fallacies I committed, had no basis whatsoever; they have now been completely refuted.

Have I Called My Opponents "Murderers" or Advocates of Murder, or Callous About the Loss of Life, Etc?

I have vehemently denied this accusation, even swearing under God that I neither believe this, nor have ever asserted it. If something I wrote suggests to my opponents that I believe this, then it was either written unclearly, or they have misinterpreted it, or derived an illogical conclusion from it which does not follow. Much of the confusion rests upon the Catholic distinction between subjective culpability vs. objective acts.

I don't believe for a second that Catholic bomb proponents think they are defending murder. Obviously, their position is held in good faith, and they feel that the acts were militarily and ethically justified. Subjectively, then, they do not think it is murder at all; therefore, they are not defending that proposition.

Yet, objectively speaking, opponents of the bombings as immoral believe it to be murder, as that is what immoral killing is. This is no huge revelation; indeed, it is self-evident. It doesn't follow, however, that opposing those who justify the bombings amounts to calling them murderers. Likewise, I wouldn't say that even most women who commit abortion are guilty of "murder" in the full, subjectively culpable sense (the same one that makes a person guilty of mortal sin). They are so ignorant and exploited in many cases, and emotionally distraught, that it is almost meaningless to even apply such a charge to them.

The doctors committing the acts, however,. are definitely guilty of murder, because they know too much. Civil law makes the same distinctions, with, e.g., its categories of different forms of killing or murder, and differential guilt: first degree murder, second degree, premeditated, manslaughter, self-defense, justifiable homicide, temporary insanity, crimes of passion, etc.

I have not impugned my opponents' motives or status as good Catholics, at all. I've also been falsely charged with pretending that my view on this is the only one permissible for Catholics to hold, or that it has been asserted by the magisterium. Again, this is false on both counts. Not guilty as charged.

For my part, I shall go through the papers I wrote on this topic and search for the word "murder" and see if I have ever remotely applied it to them. It won't do for them to simply cite one of my sources which happens to take a different view than I do, because there are places where I would disagree with the one I cite (this being one instance). Some writers I cite apply the term murder or even (in Pope John Paul II's case) genocide to the bombings (e.g., Joseph Sobran), but this can easily be understood as a use of the objective sense, without necessarily implying that advocates are subjectively advocating murder. This is a crucial distinction to always bear in mind.

Furthermore, I have either cited statements, or made several of my own, concerning my view that Truman was not a murderer in the subjective sense, or an evil man, or a "moron" (as one opponent "read my mind" and thought that I concluded), or so forth (even though he himself used the word murder to describe the acts). I've argued that, if I don't think that of the man who made the decision, why would my opponents assume that I think otherwise about them?

Here is what I found using the search capabilities of my keyboard: I used the word "murder" in my paper on double effect, but it was clearly in the sense of an objective description of the act, from my perspective. In the same context (same paragraph), I was careful to assert that "I freely grant the good intentions and good faith of those who disagree with me on this. But I cannot agree with their moral logic." This does not entail calling them murderers and applying the moral opprobrium that this implies. I simply don't regard my opponents on this issue as "bad men," or "monsters," as one of them claimed.

I used the word again in part IV of the first paper, but it was in reference to today's terrorists. Then when I described the bombings in the next sentence I used the word killing. I was making an analogy of sorts, yet this is still in the objective sense and does not entail calling advocates of the bombings murderers.

In the same paper, I wrote: ". . . we went right to mass murder because we had gotten very used to it and comfortable with it by then." It is easy to see (with the benefit of hindsight) how this could be taken the wrong way, and it was poorly and insensitively worded, I freely grant. Yet even here I was describing the objective nature of the act as I believe it to be, not the subjective viewpoint of those who advocate it. That's what I believe, and that's what I meant. In this specific instance, I blame myself to some extent, in the sense described above.

The same perhaps applies to my phrase, "the murder of 200,000 men, women, and children." I am describing my own view of the objective nature of the act. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that an immoral killing is murder. So this is really only stating the obvious. Again, it does not follow that I regard my opponents as murderers, simply because I use the word to describe the acts as I see them.

It would be like applying the word "murder" to the killing of preborn babies by virtue of abortifacient contraceptives. Most people using contraceptives (let's say, the many millions of pro-life Protestants who do) are not even aware that this is taking place. How can they be "murderers" if they don't even know anything about this? They can't. They aren't culpable, if they don't have enough information (having been kept ignorant by a medical community which loves contraception and tolerates abortion itself).

But by the same token I could say something like, "mass murder is taking place by means of abortifacient birth control pills." The two ways of describing the same scenario do not contradict each other, because it has to do with the objective / subjective distinction. My conclusion is objectively true by Catholic moral standards. It doesn't follow that the contracepting women and their husbands or boyfriends are thus murderers or that they desire to murder their children.

So in this instance, I would contend that bomb proponents, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded that the acts that they defend are murder. I'm sure that if they were convinced of that, that they would oppose the acts as I do. In any event, I have not called them murderers, nor do I believe they are, and I am happy to issue my personal apology to the parties involved for sloppy language and insensitivity regarding how such language would likely be received.

That concludes my survey of my use of the word murder. Apart from unfortunate expression (which everyone who writes is guilty of times without number, being human), I contend that, once again, the charges levied against me have been shown to be quite unwarranted.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On the Ethics of Replication of Music, Books, Movies, Software, Etc., Part II

By Dave Armstrong (9-7-05)

Tim Johnson's words are in green. Others are in various colors.

* * * * * 

With the same argumentation, one could say that it is not wrong to travel without a train ticket provided that you wouldn't travel at all if there were ticket inspectors in every train.

No, because that was not the crux of my argument or ultimate justification for these practices; only a secondary consideration, based on the counter-observation that I was depriving someone of what he would otherwise have. The heart of my argument is the various analogies and the reductio ad absurdum. There is only one way to ride a train: you pay for the ticket and get on and ride (or you do the Woody Guthrie / hobo thing and hop a freight train). I can't buy a " used train ride" at some store. Someone can't pass a train ride that they had on to me. I can't take out a train ride at a library. But someone can give me a ticket as a gift (which is closer to my other arguments).

None of this (except the last thing) is true with books and music, because of libraries, radio, TV, VCR's, etc. They are able to be replicated for personal use. If you think that is stealing, are you prepared to say that all libraries and used places, etc., should be illegal?

I think you are way off base on the software and music thing. It is totally different than the book example. With the book being bought, sold, bought, etc. there is only 1 copy of that book in the format put out there by the publisher. You are buying the physical copy of the book, not the contents. With the software you are also buying the physical copy to be used by one person/PC generally. While multiple people CAN read a book or listen to music at the same time, the book cannot occupy TWO LOCATIONS at the same time. Nor can the same CD be played in TWO LOCATIONS at the same time. To do this, you have to MAKE A COPY. You would have to install the software twice (thereby creating a second usable copy), copy the CD or photocopy the book. It is pretty well recognized that copying an entire book at Kinkos is forbidden, though I am not sure what the exact laws are. Not a lawyer.

This is a distinction without a difference, and already dealt with in my paper. There is no difference; in each case, something is being used without the producer getting compensated for it. There could be 100 copies of my books being sold used on That's 100 times I will get no royalties. Likewise, I can use various software at the library or Kinkos, or as part of an old computer someone gave me, and good ol' Microsoft doesn't get more income from it. Thus, the results are the same in each case. But it's very difficult to conclude that this is stealing, because of all my analogies, leading to a reductio ad absurdum. No one wants to outlaw used sales. Yet no one can show me how they differ fundamentally in principle from what they regard as "stealing" or "theft."

So should I be able to make a photocopy (at work or otherwise) of Biblical Defense that I borrow from a friend because I wouldn't buy it otherwise?

I think it stinks, but I can't make a compelling case against it. That's why this is an interesting discussion. We all loan books to people. Libraries loan books. Every time that happens, some author misses some royalties. Your friend could loan you the paperback book to read, or you could photocopy it and read it. I don't see any ultimate distinction, because in both cases the book is read without you putting up the whole price. So it's a bit of a paradox. If it's stealing, then libraries are the biggest houses of theft around. Since no one that I know thinks libraries and used bookstores are immoral and in massive violation of one of the Ten Commandments, then we must conclude that these other things are likewise not stealing, because they don't differ in principle from all this stuff that society has long accepted as perfectly moral and legal.

Should I be able to photocopy it only if I can't afford it otherwise?

Libraries have photocopy machines to be used for some purpose, don't they? I think it is a dilemma that I can't totally figure out myself.

Should I be able to sell my copy when I am done reading it?

I think we can all agree that the principles outlined in my post would forbid selling anything and making a profit. I refer only to personal use. Once you start making a profit, then you are stealing the recompense due to the creator (or publisher, printer etc.). You're not the creator. On the other hand, music stores with used CDs and used bookstores do exactly that: they profit from re-selling something. So it's a paradox again. This is the point at which my friend could no longer answer. He saw the force of my reductio.

I would hope the answer would be "NO!" from you on all three. I would be benefiting from your work by reading it and then selling the copy that I likely didn't pay for myself.

But you can benefit from a library copy. That's the whole point.

So why should Microsoft and musicians have their work copied and passed along to people that use it, benefit from it, enjoy it and possibly even resell the copies they made? It seems like no one would have a right to their own intellectual property this way.

Why is there TV and radio and Internet MP3s, and CD burning and tape recorders and iPods, and DVD recorders, which can replicate all these things? Why are they legal and why are they not illegal, if all copying is immoral? What do you expect people to do with a DVD recorder? Stick to movies of kids playing in the pool only?

That said… I, like almost everyone at one time or another, have not always lived up to the ideals I speak for here. Doesn't mean I don't know I've done things wrong. But I am not trying to justify it anymore. I used to make the same arguments you make about not buying it anyways. I justified it by saying the same thing only with the caveat that I would buy legit copies of stuff I used to make money.

As with Phil, you have not gotten to the heart of my argument, which I have briefly restated in this reply. It remains true, however, that I am not depriving anyone of their profit or royalty if I would never buy the product new in the first place. If I don't buy it new: no profit for the producer. If I get a copy of that which I wouldn't have bought: no profit for the producer. I just think it is one consideration among many. If I take a book off the shelf at Borders, however, and walk off with it, this is stealing, because that particular book (like thr train ride in his example) would have been sold, and the profit made by the store, the publisher, and author. When I obtain a used copy, those people got their recompense from the original purchase, but now someone else is reading it, and they don't get the profit for the second person. Same thing with a library.

The key point was that the government has the right to say what is illegal. It may not make sense to you but they have that authority. You can tell the government they are being logically inconsistent by not making used book stores and libraries illegal. They have the right to pass logically inconsistent laws. Still there is the question of are we morally obligated to obey the law? Are you saying Catholics have no such obligation? It certainly isn't their highest obligation but it is there.

When did I say that anyone should break a law? I argued positively for the law in my post, by saying that Napster has won in court. That was an argument in my favor, not against me. Software is no different, as far as I can see. Someone can give me a copy as a gift. Or they can let me use it on their computer. Or they can give me an old computer with the program on it. Or I can go to Kinkos or a library and use a computer with a program. If I'm the only one who used the gift, then it is no different from the gift purchaser using it. There is a one-to-one correspondence. But in the other four instances, more than one person is using the same program, which is logically and ethically indistinguishable from replication, in my opinion. In all four cases, and with "non-profit" replication, one program is being used by more than one person, and Microsoft is not receiving recompense for any user beyond the first.

I think that it is reasonable to say that public authorities have a right - even a duty - to make culture and education (records and books) available to the entirety of the population, even to the poorest ones.

Of course it should. I agree wholeheartedly. But this is indistinguishable from replication, in result and effect. By acknowledging this, you grant the heart of my argument. The task of someone disagreeing with me is to show how replication is essentially or fundamentally different from libraries and used stuff. You have even brought up the topic of some people being too poor to afford things; therefore, they ought to be able to obtain it at lesser or no cost. Exactly!

So the principle behind libraries and rummages is to allow the less-fortunate to be able to obtain what more fortunate folks can easily buy new. This is only one aspect of my argument (a relatively minor and secondary one), but I'm trying to show how it only helps my case to point this out. This might get into Chestertonian Distributivist territory . . .

One could of course argue that then the authorities should pay the authors, which actually is what they do in many countries.

They ought to do it here, too, then, in some fashion. I lose out when used copies of my books are sold. How about used bookstores giving the creator a cut? I'm all for that. :-) As it is, they make a profit on my book simply because it is used. Why should they make money by obtaining a used book, whereas I, the writer, receive none? This guys with a used bookstore will make even more than I made with the initial royalty (I only get about $1.70 for my new book, which is list price $19.95).

It's paradoxical, which is why this discussion is so fascinating and fun. But you don't see me moaning and groaning (apart from this passing reference) about how I'm getting screwed by amazon or whatever, whereas the rich rock stars and music publishers are going nuts because they might make 10 million instead of 11 million (and even that is disputable, according to some things I've read). I'm at least willing to accept reality: people will buy my book used. I wish they would all buy it new, but it ain't gonna happen.

Actually, I make more money selling 11 books for $25 than I do when one of my paperbacks is sold. That's pure profit for me, and I make the money that I would make when 15 paperbacks of mine are sold. The consumer also gets each book for $2.27, so that is a clear case of the Internet bypassing the "middle men." It's creator right to consumer . . .

I don't, however, say they are "stealing" when they buy my book used. Contrariwise, those who say that Napster is stealing need to show how it is any different from a used book or CD. I see no difference. In fact, Napster would be more ethical according to these critics' own reasoning, because they do pay the artists something, and they have tracks that need to be purchased also.


My argument has been that borrowing is indistinguishable in effect from having or owning a copy. I can borrow a CD and play it 14 times in 10 days. Or I can buy it and play it 13 times in 10 days. What's the difference? I "possessed it" in a large sense more so when I borrowed it than if I had bought it and played it less, because all that is relevant in owning a CD is how much it is played. It's a classic distinction without a difference. So if this is how copyright law works, it is thoroughly confused, in my opinion.


Couple of things… 1. I am not trying to refute your arguments. I am not debating you. 2. I am offering what I see as problems with your reasoning and how things work in the real world.

Another distinction without a difference. :-) How is that NOT debate or critique? :-) I don't bite. This is a fun discussion. I WANT folks to disagree with me and try to overthrow my argument. That's what is the challenge and the learning experience. I haven't totally figured this thing out, either. I'm just trying to look at things clearly, objectively, logically, and ethically.

I don't want to start a back and forth on this because I don't have a lot of time to read and respond.

For all that, you're doing darn good! LOL I'm trying to get back in my pool and I keep getting all these great posts to reply to. :-)

So these will be quick. 3. I am not saying that all copying is immoral. What I am saying is that copying that creates NEW copies without consent of the producer (when the law or the producer says you can't) of the item is wrong.

Okay, show me how it is different from the other cases. This, no one has yet done.

without the permission of the original producer, that would be wrong.

Only if you made it somehow "yours" insofar as the outsider viewed it (say, the logo of your blog or something).

If I take music I have paid for and make a mix CD for my own use or download to my MP3 player, that is not. It's pretty well accepted that this is an OK practice since I am using something I have already paid for.

Private use, sure.

Same with recording TV shows for personal use. These are things broadcast freely over the airwaves or that I pay for via cable.

Yeah, but a lot of these shows (esp. on public TV) have ads at the end where you can buy the thing for $19.95. You have in some sense deprived them of that profit by taping it.

If I record to watch and rewatch, that is generally accepted. Even giving away these generally is seen as OK because of the source. I haven't really thought much about whether giving someone a copy of the latest episode of Stargate: SG1 is immoral. I would say that since society and the law seems to make no bones about it because of its format and transmission (free through the TV) it would be OK.

One of my main points . . . this kind of thing is totally acceptable and is implied by the very existence of recording equipment.

Because books have always been seen as both a physical product and an intellectual one, they kind of fall in the middle I think. You buy the physical product and can do with it as you will. But the law pretty much makes it clear that copying an entire book, article, etc. is not legal. Copying more than a certain amount for specific reasons will get you into trouble because you are creating a new physical (virtual with the internet) product. Passing a book from person to person is an age-old custom. There's no copying. There is no creation of new physical product.

It doesn't matter (not philosophically; whatever the laws — which might be good or bad themselves — might say). The result is the same: the book is read by those who receive it in such a manner without them having to purchase it and without the author receiving what seems to be their just due. If one copy of my book was passed around to 3000 people, I would lose 2,999 royalty payments, or approximately $5098, by the rates for my newest book. This would all be perfectly acceptable, so you say (if it can be passed to five people, it can be passed theoretically to 5000), because it is "an age-old custom." Yet when folks pass around MP3's, it is stealing and immoral? Or if I use Microsoft Word 2000 at a library or Kinkos, I have stolen from Microsoft? See how the analogies are so deadly to this "case"?

When the library loans that book out, ownership has not changed and no new product is created.

That's irrelevant, as shown.

Same with video rentals and even the software rental places that were around about 15 years ago. When you return the book, video or the software, it is presumed you did not copy it.

Yes, but you watched something you might optherwise have paid more money for at a movie theatre or a place which sells new DVD movies. And again, the producer or whomever makes the profit received none from you. Blockbuster did, though, didn't they?

In the case of the software, it was pretty explicitly stated that you did not copy it and that you uninstalled it from your computer. Same is true when you sell software or give it away.

What I'm saying is that such a law makes no sense, seeing that the same software is available at libraries, Kinkos, and in used computers given away.

If I understand your argument clearly, you are equating use (or transfer of ownership) of something with ownership/new purchase of something.

In terms of the relationship of the user to the product, yes. But the relationship of the user to the creator is different, because the latter receives no further profit.

In other words the use of something requires the producer to be compensated for each use or transfer of ownership of that item.

That would be "ideal," as my friend in the initial discussion agreed. But then that "ideal" was a loophole in his argument big enough for a truck to drive through. I think that is when he himself saw that he couldn't refute my objections. He conceded the whole store . . .

In the case of software for instance, license agreements generally state that you can install it on a desktop and a laptop providing that only one copy is in use at a time. It usually says nothing about how many people can use it.

Again, the same ultimately meaningless distinction . . .

Neither does a book, video or CD. That's part of the agreement when you buy. Courts seem to have upheld the license agreement pretty consistently.

This discussion is not merely a legal one, but a philosophical / ethical one, which transcends laws.

Not sure if anyone was ever prosecuted for violating the multiple use at one time thing. I doubt it, so that would likely never have been challenged in particular. Nor is it likely that the particular point of making a single copy of a program for personal use has been prosecuted or challenged. That said, I think it would be wise to assume the entire license is valid and legal.

Yes it is. That doesn't mean that the reasoning behind it might not be inconsistent or nonsensical, given other realities regarding replication and use.

If you make copies of something for personal use of something you already own. I see no issue there. Even if you copy an entire book.


Not sure why you would except to have one you could mark up, but hey.

I have fun making new CDs of existing CDs, like the Beatles and Beach Boys: like "singles with B-sides, in mono," or something like that.

It seems to me that making a copy of something for your personal use that is currently considered illegal would be immoral. It shouldn't matter that you would not have paid for it in the first place. It shouldn't matter that you could rent or borrow it for little or nothing. The point is that you have created something you had no right to. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you have the right or that you should just because you want to.

Of course. But you have to defeat my analogies. No one has yet.

There are CD and DVD burners and recordable audio and video cassette players because you can have legitimate uses of them. I can transfer music I make to tapes and give them away. I can make copies of my home movies and give them away.

That's your own product, which you own in the first place, so there is no difficulty or ambiguity there.

The existence of the technology doesn't justify the usage in ways that you shouldn't.

The nature of the "shouldn't" is precisely what we are discussing . . . we all agree on the general principle. It is how it is sensibly applied, which is the issue.

I would think this would be plainly obvious that you don't take what is not yours.

Exactly. But general proverbs and truisms do not solve our problem. Rigorous examination of the issues is required.

Using a PC at Kinkos or the library is perfectly within the bounds of the license agreement.

Back to the legal thing again . . . it's okay if that is the only way you want to analyze it, but my discussion goes deeper than law, to the ethics and principles ostensibly behind law. What is legal is not always what is right (clearly so).

And borrowing a book is understood to be perfectly normal and has been for hundreds of years.

Which is why my argument is so compelling . . . :-)

Perhaps at one time, someone might not have thought of prosecuting someone for handcopying a book they wanted, because who would have the time? Technology has created the possibility of crimes that didn't exist at one time.

Also, it has made sloppy thinking more prevalent . . .

I am curious why you think making a copy of Biblical Defense from a friend's copy stinks?

Because I don't get any recompense for it.

Under your reasoning, it should be a morally neutral action if I wouldn't have otherwise bought it.

I have stated that this discussion is eminently paradoxical. Instinctively, I believe that I should get a "cut" for every time my book is read. That seems very clear and just. Yet I can't defeat my own analogies that show me that there will be times when it is morally read without me getting paid. Within the framework of my reductio ad absurdum, it is morally neutral . . . until my reductio is defeated, that will be my opinion, but that doesn't mean that I don't feel conflicted about it, or uneasy with that state of affairs. I'm affected by this, as an author. At the same time, I download from Napster, which is perfectly legal, and, I think, perfectly moral. But what I'm trying to do is reason through the ethics, not just lash out with knee-jerk reactions, like many in the music business are doing.

It would seem you would not be harmed by this action.

I am because I make roughly one-third my living off of book royalties. It's not like I am wealthy by other means and have a book on the side. It's what I do. It's my vocation. Every time I am deprived of one of these royalties, I am harmed in a very real, practical way. I gotta pay my bills. I work hard writing and doing apologetics, and am trying to receive halfway decent, just wages for that service I am providing for others. So buy some books, guys! LOL

So why does it stink?

See the above.

I did buy all your books by the way when you ran that $25 special a while back. Great bargain.

Thank you very much. So you are making it possible for me to do what I do, and I will be eternally grateful for that, to you and all others who buy books or make a donation. I can use many more, believe me. I don't beg and plead. I simply make the need known, and hope that people who have already said that they thought my work was valuable, to help make it possible to keep doing it.

OK. So it wasn't really short. :)

But it was FUN. See? No one should be wary of "debating" me. I'm just a big teddy bear . . . :-)


Here's an interesting paper: "Ethics in a Peer-to-Peer World".


I assume once you get your cut from the used book store, you will promptly send part of the money to the distributor of your original book. The distributor will then send some to the publisher who will then send some to his paper and ink suppliers. The paper supplier will then forward a payment to the trucking company that hauled the pulp to make the paper. The trucking company will than send some money to the people who cut the wood for the pulp. The forestry workers will then send some money to the people who own the wood lot. The owner of the wood lot will send some to the government. The govenrment will then share the proceeds with all the citizens since society as a whole made it possible for you to write the book in the first place. All these people helped to make your book possible so why should somebody be able to buy your book as a used item without their being compensated for their work?

Perhaps royalties are set based on an estimate of the number of books that will be resold, copied or loaned. If this is the case and people hang on to your book you actually come out ahead.

The following is from your original post

No to all, in my opinion. I think the ethics depends (largely, but not solely) on whether someone was going to buy a product in the first place.
This can be taken two ways.

1) I have no intention of buying this product so I can copy it for free.
2) No one will ever buy this product so I can copy it for free.

Concerning number 1: I have no intention of buying a lottery ticket. Does it then follow that I can shoplift the ticket from the drugstore counter?

Concerning number 2: It is 5 minutes to closing time. Five of my buddies who along with me have no intention of buying lottery tickets are behind me in the lineup at the counter. Twenty lottery tickets remain to be sold. Obviously the tickets will not be sold before their expiry time. Do I then have the right to shoplift as many tickets as I can?

Good stuff. Your first reductio is fun; however (commonly and legally), it is the author who receives royalties for further copies sold. The publisher, of course, gets an even bigger cut, but has far more expenses. The middle man gets his cut too. So I don't see how your chain (though great fun) can really be applicable to the issue of royalties and compensation for publisher and profit for bookseller.

As for your second part, #2 does not apply to my argument. #1 does, but has to be clarified and modified somewhat. I should modify the relative importance of this factor (my language above in that regard is excessive). This particular line of thought is in response to the specific sub-charge that sales of an item are harmed by copying in various ways, but it's not really central to my argument, as I have developed it and clarified through the challenges presently received.

I made the point that to copy something when you wouldn't have bought the item new, does not deprive the creator of any profit because if you don't buy it new in any event, they don't profit, and if you copy it, they don't profit. Copying has been shown, I think, to be both legal and moral in most cases, by the reductios I have offered, and also by law (for the most part), and by accepted uses, such as tape recorders and VCRs. No one has shown me that libraries don't deprive creators of royalties, just like various forms of replication do. I continue to see no ethical difference in all these examples.

In the paper I linked to above, one interesting fact they showed was that the more someone burned CD's, the more new CD's they bought. Obviously, then, any slump in sales in the music industry can't be blamed on CD burning and MP3's. The cause will have to be sought elsewhere. And one can probably make the case that available MP3s actually create more interest in music and thus more sales. In this case, the effect on music sales (from this sector) would be the exact opposite of what the contention of the opponents of Napster et al is.

Outright theft, shoplifting or stealing off the shelf is not condoned by anyone, of course. This is itself a reductio for a position contrary to my own. The difference is that replication, by definition, copies something already purchased or "put out" for public consumption (such as a TV show or songs on the radio). If it is understood that there are a wide variety of instances where things already purchased can be copied or used by another (in effect — in many respects — the same as copying), then this is essentially different from theft. No one will argue that you can simply take a product off a shelf. But if your brother or friend buys it and then you utilize it in some way, by listening, reading, using, etc. or replicating it (you could, e.g., be in the next room or in the car when he plays his new CD), then that gets us back to my reductios, where it becomes very difficult to want to outlaw libraries and all used sales and "secondary" uses, etc.

There is also the ethical distinction between:

1) not buying, and
2) taking and not paying for

Everyone recognizes that there is nothing wrong with deciding not to purchase some item on the store shelf. But you can't take something without buying it. Once someone buys it, it may be replicated (excluding profitable uses), but someone did buy the item under consideration. It was sold and thus provided as much profit as it individually could. Or if, say it is a movie, it may have been shown on TV, which allows people to tape it. That's clearly not theft because the creator somewhere along the line allowed it to be broadcast.

So it comes down to the nature of sharing "intellectual property." I continue to find this subject a fascinating instance of a profound paradox. I think any position one takes entails conundrums and intuitive "problems."

Dave, first of all, this is very good food for thought. Definitely a perspective I'd never considered before, and it makes a lot of sense.

My one "ethical concern" with the Internet is that it basically multiplies the possibilities of copying music, movies, books, etc. by a magnitude far greater than ever before. How so?

With libraries and video rental stores, they at least (1) have to have bought all of the copies that they loan out, and (2) can only rent each out to one person at a time. Of course, as individuals may make copies of the copies they are renting/borrowing, then the possibilities can increase here as well.

But with the Internet, the possibilities are almost unlimited in comparison. Basically, there seems to be much less control (if any at all) with the Internet and newer technology. I can't say with certainty that this necessarily makes it wrong, but I think this at least explains why many people (including myself) are much more hesitant to support all of the copying and free downloading taking place in this arena.

Going along with this, the concern is also that when such a new and universal easy way of copying/free downloading is available, won't people be more and more inclined to think that they never "really" need or want to buy something, not because they don't want it or can't afford it, but precisely because the free access to it is so widely available?

(Note: I apologize if this has already been said, but I didn't have the time to read everything.)

I think these are serious concerns. I, like you, don't have it all worked out. My main purpose in my post was to rebel against the cavalierly-expressed notion (Dennis Prager's remarks of this sort on his radio show initially motivated me) that almost all replication is stealing, as if it is a simple, non-ambiguous matter. It's not, as I think we all have shown, from all the viewpoints expressed.

It's precisely the intersection of the factor of "increasing possibilities for replication" and the seeming lack of any change of overall ethical principle involved in same that is paradoxical. In other words, at what quantitative point can we say that replication of something becomes wrong? For if it was right in Instance #1, how could it switch over to being wrong in Instance #4,032? Intuitively, it seems different, but at what point did the ethical principle change, and how and why?

The ethical principle (whatever it is), it seems to me, has to be present in the first instance. Thus, abortion is (from the Christian, biblical perspective) wrong whenever it occurs, not just because it occurs 1.5 million times a year in the US. If it's wrong once, it's wrong 1.5 million times (and the numbers increase the monstrous evil, because each instance is wrong, and these are multiplied by the millions; God help us). And if it is essentially right and justifiable, then numbers are irrelevant.

If replication of this sort is wrong, it is (or should be) the first time, and that includes a simple photocopy at a library or a copy made on a VCR or audio replication equipment. But then that seems to take it too far. And on and on the paradox goes . . .

The "mindset" factor that you discussed at the end might possibly be one pathway to resolve this, but thus far, I don't think it's been shown that widespread replication is hurting the music industry. As one study showed, purchases of CD's are positively related to how many CD's one burns, not inversely proportionate. No one in their right mind would say that Microsoft is hurting, as far as that goes . . .