Note: This post has been automatically imported from my old blog. Formatting may be incorrect.
I've had a few people contact me privately questioning my (somewhat tentative, though admittedly strongly presented) negative moral evaluation of the ARI and Dr. McCaskey's roles in the resignation itself, so I've come up with an analogy that I hope gets to the essentials of my concerns:
Suppose you're a young adult who is mature enough to make his own decisions and have his own values, but you're still largely financially dependent upon your parents. Sure, you have a job that brings in some money, but they still pick up significant portions of your rent, give you a food and grocery allowance every month, are paying your tuition, legally own your car and much of your property, etc. The extent of your dependence is such that if they chose to withdraw everything that was theirs, you'd have to start a lot of things over: leave your apartment for a much smaller one in a worse neighbourhood, temporarily drop out of school or take on burdensome loans, take on multiple part-time jobs in addition to your full-time position, etc. One day your parents present you with an irrational or unjust ultimatum (the details of which are left purposefully vague at this point in the hypothetical) that if you don't do what they want you to, they will withdraw everything. Maybe your first response is "I wish I had taken steps to make myself less dependent upon them!", but it's too late. The question, then: when, if ever, are you justified in giving in to their demands?
Are you justified if:
For the sake of the hypothetical, assume that there is no evidence that this is a one-time demand from your parents, nor that you will be independent of them (either through death or your own actions or through them choosing to formally promise their financial support free of conditions) in time for you to reverse the particular action they are demanding.
I'd greatly appreciate any feedback here. I think, depending on your perspective, it's possible to interpret the situation the ARI (and Dr. McCaskey, who had to act in its interests) was in as being like any of the above hypothetical positions. I personally think that any but the first two cases would ultimately be a self-defeating pragmatic sanction, and am not even sure that the second case wouldn't be, but I'm open to arguments on this issue.