THE LIBERAL VIRTUE OF TOLERANCE

Libertarians are often described (and some, including the current Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson) as being fiscally conservative and socially liberal. What is implicitly meant is that on economics they tend to agree more with Republicans and on social issues they tend to agree more with Democrats. This is often stated for political reasons, but I think it fall so short to correctly explain the differences between how a classical liberal (libertarian) would address social issues, as opposed to how a Progressive Democrat might do so.

Social liberalism is primarily about the increase of the liberty of the individual. Thus, greater liberty for lgbt, women, drug users, etc. Social progressivism, on the other hand, is less about increasing the liberty of the individual, and more about the progression in societal mores that is brought about through inclusion of previously disenfranchised, or oppressed, groups. In the former, progress is seen through the increase of liberty and autonomy for the individual, but in the latter, progress is measured in terms of the acceptance of the lifestyles of the various subgroups by society as a whole.

This can be seen in the current debates that play out in today’s politics. For libertarians, there is much less emphasis on attributing ill motives to those who may disagree with them, for instance, on gay marriage or transgender rights, as opposed to progressives who see those conservatives who disagree as bigots and people who are holding society back. Progress is not about increased freedom, for that would include the freedom of those who disagree to also lead their lives as they best see fit, even if that includes attitudes and behaviors that display their disagreement with progressive opinions. This leaves the libertarian in the position of saying that whether or not acceptance of new groups is moral progress up to the judgment of individuals and groups, while maintaining that there is at least progress in greater liberty. For progressives, gay marriage is progress in morals, leaving them in the position of judge over those who disagree with them. For libertarians, gay marriage is progress in liberty, and whether or not this is progress in morals is up to individuals and groups to decide for themselves.

A related can contemporary example might fit even better. A conservative Christian baker has been by a gay couple to make them a wedding cake for their nuptials. For the baker, this would be to support something that he considers to be a sin and thus refuses to bake the cake for the wedding. Let’s look at how a social liberal and a social progressive might respond in this situation. A social liberal would take the position that for the government to force the baker to violate his conscience is to impinge on his individual freedom and autonomy. The social liberal may think the baker is being a bigot, but that is besides the point. No one should be forced to violate his conscience as long as his conscience isn’t advising him or her to violate the rights of somebody else. However, the social progressive would assert that the baker is being bigoted and discriminating against the gay couple and must be coerced into serving them, regardless of whether or not his individual freedom and autonomy are violated. For the progressive what is important is the progression in the morals of society, and the baker represents a step backward.

Identifying discrimination is significant because I think that is the key fundamental moral of progressives. Discrimination and oppression are the lens through which key issues are viewed. A world with less of each is a better world to live in. For the liberal, these are both secondary to the key issue of individual liberty. It is through individual liberty that moral progress is made because the good is determined through the free interaction of individuals and groups. Different ways of living together are tried and tested. We reason together and discuss issues and because not everyone will agree, we have to tolerate the differences without being coerced into accepting those differences we may not agree with. Society is thus able to morally “progress” in such a way as society finds certain ways of living to be what works best and those who dissent are able to live out there way of living too. Which leaves open the possibility that the dissenters themselves may find there way living eventually adopted by most people should it be seen as the most desirable. Therefore, tolerance is one of the key virtues of the liberal society, and what distinguishes social liberals from social progressives.

OF TRADEOFFS AND EMAIL

It is a firm conviction of mine that there are no perfect solutions in life, there are only tradeoffs, and we try to manage those tradeoffs to make them the best we possibly can. Because of *scarcity*, not just in resources, but in how people are different, and in the wide divergence of issues we face in life, trying to fix one issue, often creates problems to solve in other places. We face these issues in politics, economics, technology, science, and elsewhere. We see it when we study choices that were made in the past. Indeed, tradeoffs are so prevelant in all of life that you will see it as a running theme in many of my posts.

One area I have considered tradeoffs in is technology, and email apps in particular. (There are other tradeoffs in technology I hope I can get to at some point such as battery life vs. the weight and thinness of the phone.) Although I like Apple’s email app, I wanted more and I also enjoy trying the latest apps, the tech nerd that I am. So I have arrived at a solution involving, yes, tradeoffs, which means I primarily use two different email apps. 

Dispatch is the the first app and it is the single most powerful app that I know of for executing actions to send your email to different locations. I can send an email to evernote, create an action in omnifocus, create a new event in fantastical, and many others. It also allows you to export an email as a PDF. I can send an article I want to read to Instapaper, or a video to Pocket. Dispatch makes it easy to get your inbox to zero (not that my inbox is at zero). There are a few downsides to Dispatch that drove me to look for a second emailing app. One is that Dispatch does not do a good job at scaling emails to get the whole message on screen. Often I have to fight with it, and I just don’t want to have to do that. I also find that, although the UI is simple to use, it is aesthetically unpleasant. So I searched for an app to complement Dispatch, and I believe I have found one and it surprised even me.

Dispatch
Dispatch

I landed at Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS, and I think it is fantastic. The UI is both simple, and beautiful. The app also has many functions going for it. You swipe left to archive, and swipe right to schedule it to appear at a time of your choosing (a la Mailbox, by Dropbox). Those that you schedule will be placed in a scheduled folder that Outlook creates for you. There are two primary folders that Outlook has, one is Focused and the other is Other. Microsoft breaks up the emails into what it thinks is important for you to see first, and it puts everything else into Other. You can train Outlook to put the right emails in the correct location to. You do this by moving an email into the folder you desire it to be in, and Outlook will create a rule so it will always put future emails from that address into the correct folder. Or you can just move that particular email into the desired folder without creating a rule. 

Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Outlook

Outlook also contains tabs across the bottom, the first being for mail. The next tab over opens up your calendar view which syncs with your iCloud and Gmail calendars. This is useful for saving dates or reviewing dates right from within the app. Another tab is files. From here you can access all your files with Onedrive, Box, and Dropbox. This is handy for attaching files from any of these, the only downside being if you use iCloud Drive. As of now Outlook does not support iCloud Drive, but I wouldn’t expect that to be permanent.  The next two tabs are for contacts and settings respectively. 

Currently Outlook works with Outlook accounts, Exchange, iCloud, and Gmail. It does not currently support custom IMAP.  

Together, both these apps complement each other for me.  Neither one of them carries all the features I want, and I would love to have one app together with all these features. But I deal with the tradeoffs and try to work my best around the apps that are available. There are plenty of other apps too that I could cover, but space does not allow. Perhaps in a future post I can cover these other apps in detail. 

Download Outlook for free

Download Dispatch for $4.99


  1. If you get a lot of emails, I would recommend the app Triage. It’s great for quickly going through all your new emails and archiving or keeping what you need.

SUBSTANCE AND ACCIDENT

The question is how do Christianity and Science get along.  Aren’t they supposed to be at war?  Isn’t science supposed to be pushing back on all the ancient superstitions that still exist today?  Isn’t science just a cop-out for those who don’t have faith?  The answer to this is plainly no, although there are those who think that is the case, and are militantly pushing for this conflict.  Along with many others out there, this blog will be a place where the two are not at war, a place where Christianity and Science can intersect and live in harmony.  I am by no means a scientist, but I love science and am an avid connoisseur of the subject.  I also love my faith and consider myself a disciple of Jesus.  How do Science and Christianity intersect?  How do they live in harmony?  The question here is not so much “how” as “where”.  To get a picture of where I am going with this let’s consider the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation (I am not a catholic, but the doctrine works for this explanation).  In transubstantiation, the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.  Aquinas borrowed from Aristotle to describe this transformation.  Aquinas refers to the material nature of the bread as the accident, the taste, touch, feel, look, today we would say the atoms and even particles of the bread remain the same.  Aquinas tells us that it is the substance of the bread that changes into the body of Christ.  This I think is the Biblical picture of nature, of reality, of science.  When we study science we are looking at the material reality of the universe.  We are discovering how the natural world works, how it came into being, where everything is going, and everything in between.  Christianity tells us that Jesus is the substance of all things.  “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John 1:3);  “All things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  (Colossians 1:16-17).  Science explores the natural world in all its wonder, and Christianity ties everything together giving us a doctrine of creation, what went wrong in creation, and an eschatological hope for redemption through Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.  By holding onto both I think that we can get a more accurate picture of reality.