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Jen Roth - Atheist Against Abortion
Posted: 27 September 2010 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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How it can be morally OK to do away with surplus or handicapped newborn babies is beyond ordinary human decency, and, likewise with a third trimester pregnancy.  If you do approve of such behaviour then you don’t have good morals; you may of course have a good rational judgement of utilitarianism and expediency.  Then moral nihilism is a more consistent stance.

I was just following Hitchens and AC Grayling on the morality or otherwise of the various bombing campaigns in WW2, on youtube.  The longer the war went on , the crueller it was waged.  It makes these questions seem very small.  Vidoqo’s thought experiment hints at lifeboat ethics, wherein it becomes expedient to kill and eat the weakest in the lifeboat to maximize the chances of the remaining people on board.

The reason we may have so much hard debate and worse around this subject could be due to there being no actually consistent theory of law, ethics and morality.  We wing it and occasionally have a crash as a result.  My best answer would be that the instinct for survival trumps all other considerations when its down to the wire, regardless of one’s initial beliefs, religious or otherwise.  There are some people one should be afraid to share a lifeboat with.

I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject.  My intuition is that it is insoluble even if all discussion is calm and civil.  Although a firm disbeliever in religion and a rationalist and skeptic, I don’t yet call myself a secular humanist.  But I find elements of ordinary human decency on both sides of the abortion debate.  I have impression from various posters that its heretical to challenge humanistic/ atheistic views that abortion is morally OK.  Away with all dogmas! (except for this one).  Nobody herds me, nor I them.  B9K9 is feline.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Can’t say I quite catch your drift, but I think there are situations when it may be wise, if not morally commendable, to carry out abortion. For example in cases of unwanted pregnancies, where doing otherwise would be to introduce more evil into the world. But besides that, I think it is above all important that abortion be considered as an option in tackling one of the world’s greatest present problems—the over-population problem, which is proving intractable.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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B9K9 - 27 September 2010 09:21 AM

How it can be morally OK to do away with surplus or handicapped newborn babies is beyond ordinary human decency, and, likewise with a third trimester pregnancy.  If you do approve of such behaviour then you don’t have good morals; you may of course have a good rational judgement of utilitarianism and expediency.  Then moral nihilism is a more consistent stance.

I have a greater interest in the condition of the human AFTER it is born. I would like each child born into an environment capable of nurturing it into a socially competent, contributing adult.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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@B9K9
“I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject. “

That’s for sure - you never even made an argument! 

You said that particular behaviors were “beyond ordinary human decency”, or an “expression of not having good morals”.  But you never say why.  You give an example of escalating cruelty in war, yet never argued why 3rd trimester abortion, or the murder of a newborn was cruel.  But why is it?  That is the interesting, and significant question.

It may be that we have no clear answer.  Ethics is like that sometimes (see the trolley experiment).  I’m OK with that.  But it also means accepting that we *have no clear answer*.  I think this is why many simply say that abortion is a personal decision and are fine with leaving it to others to determine.

As for infanticide, I thought I made a somewhat compelling case for why it should be a crime (although I still find it quite squishy).  But maybe you missed that.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Claiming morality is not an argument. There is no standard for morality except what a person individually feels what is right and wrong.

You can’t claim my actions as immoral nor question my morality as, well you can but I don’t care what your concept of morality says, thinks or claims I should do.

You are free to be guided by your personal moral values, just keep them to yourself. Individual morality has little value in a rational argument.

My morality is mine and yours is yours. Just don’t bother trying to tell me what mine should be unless you like wasting your time.

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Posted: 28 September 2010 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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vidoqo - 27 September 2010 04:29 PM

@B9K9
“I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject. “

That’s for sure - you never even made an argument! 

You said that particular behaviors were “beyond ordinary human decency”, or an “expression of not having good morals”.  But you never say why.  You give an example of escalating cruelty in war, yet never argued why 3rd trimester abortion, or the murder of a newborn was cruel.  But why is it?  That is the interesting, and significant question.

It may be that we have no clear answer.  Ethics is like that sometimes (see the trolley experiment).  I’m OK with that.  But it also means accepting that we *have no clear answer*.  I think this is why many simply say that abortion is a personal decision and are fine with leaving it to others to determine.

As for infanticide, I thought I made a somewhat compelling case for why it should be a crime (although I still find it quite squishy).  But maybe you missed that.

Thing is we all have moral intuition and its very variable between peoples and cultures.  If you have different intuitions then we could explore why they are different.  For example William Lane Craig in his defence of OT genocide manages to twist logic and biblical exegesis to proclaim evil as a good when ordered by Yahweh.  That’s why I think he is out of his mind.  My “ordinary human decency” manages to convince me that sometimes what seems immoral wrong and evil is in fact just that.  I don’t find it a very interesting question because it seems so blinkin obvious.  A waste of words if you like.  If you examine various statements on the pro life choice debates (I’m far too kind) you can find humanity and decency on both sides.  That’s my proposition, my “argument”.

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Posted: 28 September 2010 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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asanta - 27 September 2010 02:50 PM

I have a greater interest in the condition of the human AFTER it is born. I would like each child born into an environment capable of nurturing it into a socially competent, contributing adult.

As we all should!

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Posted: 28 September 2010 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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May I recommend an essay written by Rachel Richardson Smith.

click  Abortion, Right and Wrong

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Posted: 28 September 2010 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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B9K9 - 28 September 2010 04:14 AM
vidoqo - 27 September 2010 04:29 PM

@B9K9
“I dislike argumentative attitudes surrounding this subject. “

That’s for sure - you never even made an argument! 

You said that particular behaviors were “beyond ordinary human decency”, or an “expression of not having good morals”.  But you never say why.  You give an example of escalating cruelty in war, yet never argued why 3rd trimester abortion, or the murder of a newborn was cruel.  But why is it?  That is the interesting, and significant question.

It may be that we have no clear answer.  Ethics is like that sometimes (see the trolley experiment).  I’m OK with that.  But it also means accepting that we *have no clear answer*.  I think this is why many simply say that abortion is a personal decision and are fine with leaving it to others to determine.

As for infanticide, I thought I made a somewhat compelling case for why it should be a crime (although I still find it quite squishy).  But maybe you missed that.

Thing is we all have moral intuition and its very variable between peoples and cultures.  If you have different intuitions then we could explore why they are different.  For example William Lane Craig in his defence of OT genocide manages to twist logic and biblical exegesis to proclaim evil as a good when ordered by Yahweh.  That’s why I think he is out of his mind.  My “ordinary human decency” manages to convince me that sometimes what seems immoral wrong and evil is in fact just that.  I don’t find it a very interesting question because it seems so blinkin obvious.  A waste of words if you like.  If you examine various statements on the pro life choice debates (I’m far too kind) you can find humanity and decency on both sides.  That’s my proposition, my “argument”.

So, it all seems obvious to you, even though you can’t come up with a reason why.  And you still haven’t made a single argument.  You’ve simply explained an emotion you feel.  Isn’t that the very definition of unreasonable.  Do you think you’re the first one in history to take such an incurious position?  The first to stomp your foot and say, I’m mad because I know I’m mad?

Actually, I wonder why you bothered saying anything at all if you consider it a waste of words!

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Posted: 28 September 2010 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

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Posted: 29 September 2010 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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B9K9 - 28 September 2010 11:47 PM

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

Well, remember how this began.  I tried to understand what reasons there might be for not having an abortion, and they seemed to have direct consequences for how we view infanticide.  I then made a direct argument against infanticide by appealing to what I called “moral anguish” - not so different from your “gut instincts”.  Yet you somehow missed that and wanted to apply the “moral anguish” argument to abortion as well.  Unless I’m mistaken, you never clarified a separation between the two.

Look, this is a Center for Inquiry forum.  One would hope that we are all interested in examining why we believe/ feel the things we do.  Simply saying something is “evil” is an intellectually vapid statement.  It says nothing.  Why is a 3rd trimester baby any different than a 2nd, or 1st?  You’ve added nothing.  Philosophers and ethicists tackle tricky moral conundrums as a matter of course.  If you aren’t interested in that, you’re contributing nothing to the dialogue.

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Posted: 29 September 2010 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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B9K9 - 28 September 2010 11:47 PM

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

There is IMO no universal good and evil. People just assume such from their culture, upbringing etc. I think very few if any’s intent is to do evil. Most everyone justifies the good in their actions somehow.

You can clam something evil but someone is going to find someway to justify that action as good. Usually an action is good for someone and bad for someone else. Good and evil boils down to a personal POV, not a rational argument.

Too often in the past people have accept something declared as evil by some authority without question. It is time to question ideas about good and evil to determine if there is any rational behind them.

Actually I don’t know if I have any rational behind some of my morals. I accept that sometimes I do what I feel is right. I just don’t expect to justify an argument base on what I feel is right.

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Posted: 01 October 2010 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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vidoqo - 29 September 2010 06:46 AM

Simply saying something is “evil” is an intellectually vapid statement.  It says nothing.  Why is a 3rd trimester baby any different than a 2nd, or 1st?  You’ve added nothing.  Philosophers and ethicists tackle tricky moral conundrums as a matter of course.  If you aren’t interested in that, you’re contributing nothing to the dialogue.

Hey, intellectually vapid? I think not!  Some respected philosophical traditions hold certain moral intuitions to be self evident.  My bold:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Unfortunately philosophers have a habit of disagreeing as do theologians and religions.  I have limited hope of convincing everyone of the validity and truth of these things but sometimes it seems worth stating.

Its can be quite reasonable to hold things disputed by others as an axiom.  Among which, the unalienable right to life, whether endowed by God as in the Declaration of Independence, or agreed by society.  What do you think, does unalienable also mean absolute?  I invite you to acknowledge that a moral axiom (=something one asserts objectively and obviously true, or even “self-evident”) is something to contribute.  Much disagreement can be peeled back to different premises, and I wonder if we have any overlap at that level.  Do you have any moral intuitions or do you reason them all out in the abstract?  Are we starting from anything like the same place?  If we are at cross purposes, lets see if we can identify what they are, before the substantive issues.

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Posted: 01 October 2010 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Gnostikosis - 29 September 2010 10:31 AM
B9K9 - 28 September 2010 11:47 PM

For me, and I suppose many others, some gut instincts about good and evil are so obvious there’s no need to explain them.  And you say that’s unreasonable? Do rational people really rationalise that level?  Some things are axiomatic.  Like do evil if you must, just call it that and don’t call it good.

There is IMO no universal good and evil. People just assume such from their culture, upbringing etc. I think very few if any’s intent is to do evil. Most everyone justifies the good in their actions somehow.

You can clam something evil but someone is going to find someway to justify that action as good. Usually an action is good for someone and bad for someone else. Good and evil boils down to a personal POV, not a rational argument.

Too often in the past people have accept something declared as evil by some authority without question. It is time to question ideas about good and evil to determine if there is any rational behind them.

Actually I don’t know if I have any rational behind some of my morals. I accept that sometimes I do what I feel is right. I just don’t expect to justify an argument base on what I feel is right.

Hi Gnostikosis(is it painful? cheese )
You argue universal good and evil do not exist.  Do you mean objective or absolute?
Try this, is there any action which is never justified?  How about abusing the young?  If one is the type of person who feels such a thing is OK once they can get away with it, and pleasureable as in good to eat, well I think we can safely agree that such a monster should be locked up.  If babies taste good that does not mean that eating one is a right thing to do!

Of maybe my opinion is only as good as the next guy’s because so much of it is a feeling that its all wrong, bad, immoral, evil, whatever.  Could it be that when we talk about feelings we are referring to two totally different classes of emotion?

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Posted: 01 October 2010 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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B9K9 - 01 October 2010 09:08 AM
vidoqo - 29 September 2010 06:46 AM

Simply saying something is “evil” is an intellectually vapid statement.  It says nothing.  Why is a 3rd trimester baby any different than a 2nd, or 1st?  You’ve added nothing.  Philosophers and ethicists tackle tricky moral conundrums as a matter of course.  If you aren’t interested in that, you’re contributing nothing to the dialogue.

Hey, intellectually vapid? I think not!  Some respected philosophical traditions hold certain moral intuitions to be self evident.  My bold:  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Unfortunately philosophers have a habit of disagreeing as do theologians and religions.  I have limited hope of convincing everyone of the validity and truth of these things but sometimes it seems worth stating.

Its can be quite reasonable to hold things disputed by others as an axiom.  Among which, the unalienable right to life, whether endowed by God as in the Declaration of Independence, or agreed by society.  What do you think, does unalienable also mean absolute?  I invite you to acknowledge that a moral axiom (=something one asserts objectively and obviously true, or even “self-evident”) is something to contribute.  Much disagreement can be peeled back to different premises, and I wonder if we have any overlap at that level.  Do you have any moral intuitions or do you reason them all out in the abstract?  Are we starting from anything like the same place?  If we are at cross purposes, lets see if we can identify what they are, before the substantive issues.

Let me start by saying thank you - that’s at least an argument I can respond to.

But I disagree that moral intuition can be axiomatic.  While many of us can respect the idea that “all men are created equal”, etc., I’m not sure there is anything self-evident about it.  God certainly isn’t self-evident, nor are the wishes of a particular society.  It might be a good idea.  But good ideas aren’t axiomatic.  I could just as easily say that all women have the right to abort their fetuses.  But what have I said, other than that you are wrong, I am right, end of story.

I certainly agree that moral intuition is important.  In fact I already said as much more than once.  I’m not sure why you keep ignoring that.  So, no, I don’t reason everything out in the abstract before I accept it.  But I do think I ought to be skeptical of my intuitions.  Moral intuitions are certainly not always correct.  It could be argued that most evil in history has been done by people who were simply trusting their intuitions.  So I think that’s a dangerous way to approach life.

So, back to abortion.  The only thing we have disagreed on has been 3rd trimester abortion.  Why do your moral intuitions get to be axiomatic while mine do not?  You have essentially told me that “it feels wrong to you”.  Yet it does not to me.  The only interesting question to ask next is why?  Maybe we don’t have the answers.  But you can’t simply assert your view as correct because you “feel it”.  That’s ridiculous, right?  I suggest what you consider a moral intuition is less organic than you might wish to believe - that there are historical, cultural and philosophical traditions of which you are a part.  The founders’ statement was simple, to be sure.  But it was backed up by lengthy debate and critical analysis.

[ Edited: 01 October 2010 06:27 PM by vidoqo ]
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