First off, apologies to Robert Miller for having gotten his point not quite right when I restated it in my post.

At the risk of overanalyzing a topic that it is not really edifying to overanalyze (First Thoughts, your one stop shop for hotel porn!) I think it would be fruitful for me to offer the following responses.

1) Miller and Beckwith have both misread my post on one point. I did not say it was a victory that porn use had migrated to a different technological platform. What I said was that this technological change has opened a window of opportunity, if we are smart enough to seize it while it is still open, to score an important victory. We can live in a world where hotel chains phase out porn very slowly and mostly out of the media spotlight, or we can live in a world where hotel chains get rid of porn faster and in a more high-profile way because public opposition to porn accellerated the decision. Which of those two worlds is better for us?

It’s true that you can’t just focus on changing law and institutional policies without changing public opinion. However, you also can’t get much traction on public opinion unless you are fighting to change law and institutional policies. The trick is to pick the right fights.

Focusing public attention on partial-birth abortion was the smartest thing the pro-life movement ever did. We won the legislative fight, but more important, we moved public opinion. We picked a winnable fight and we won it. The subsequent fate of the law in the courts didn’t take that movement of public opinion away.

Steve Forbes summarized the strategy: “You can only change the law by changing the culture, and the way to change the culture is to change the law a little bit at a time.” That’s oversimplified - to change culture you need to be doing a lot of other things besides just changing the law (or in this case hotel policy). But picking the right fights on policy is not optional; you can’t change culture without it.

2) The debate over the basis of democratic capitalism is an old one. Readers of Miller’s post may get the impression that I didn’t engage the question of whether democratic capitalism produces authentic human flourishing by design or only by accidental tendency. But I did: “Democracy is right because it does a better job than the alternatives of cultivating authentic human good in the polity. Capitalism is right because it does a better job than the alternative (note the singular) of cultivating authentic human good in the economy. That they do so is not an accidental by-product; this is their only justification for existing. No one should believe in them for any other reason ” (emphasis added).

We’re not going to rehash the entire debate between teleological and deontological approaches to social ethics here on First Thoughts. But I wonder if Miller would be willing to satisfy my curiosity on one question. If democratic capitalism is not designed to produce human flourishing, on what basis is it designed?

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