I read with sadness but no surprise, the letter by Adm. Leon Edney on last week's Forum page. He is incensed because someone dared to call the program in Ethics and Leadership at the Naval Academy, mumbo jumbo. In retaliation he calls the letter of Gerald Atkinson mumbo jumbo.
Adm. Edney's letter needs to be answered because it is the sincere voice of "useful idiots," as V.I. Lenin would call them. Adm. Edney is seemingly concerned about too much feminism in the military and too much political correctness. But when he has his nose put at the root cause of these deviations, he squeals "McCarthyism" and cannot accept a rational explanation.
It is true that the Ethics and Leadership chair at the Naval Academy is developed and taught by "acknowledged professional academic philosophers," and that's the rub. It is true it is teaching the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. But it is not true that it is teaching St. Thomas Aquinas (please admiral, note the correct spelling) nor Epictetus (please admiral, note the correct spelling) because it would show. And an "award-winning" paper's author could not claim she acknowledges the paternity of Bentham in her thought processes, as she would be honestly admitting of a sham if she had been taught Aquinas correctly.
The last sincere pagan philosopher was Aristotle. Since the development of a monotheist religion with Jewish thoughts and then Christian precepts, most non-religious or pseudo-religious philosophers have actually been attacking Judeo-Christian values. Because, cognizant of these values they would throw them aside in order to offer a better system to explain the world and what is right and wrong about this world and its human being inhabitants. Post-Christian philosophers specialized in offering their own little clever metaphysics and ethics system. That is true for Kant, for Bentham, for Mill, etc.
In the secular universities a course in ethics, consists precisely in teaching all these ethical systems - or pet ideas from very bright and very misled fellows. All these systems deny one another, they are truly incompatible. With the result that students in courses of ethics draw as first conclusion from such courses that right and wrong depends on which system you pick. …