The World Is Changing and the Churches Are Afraid

Last week, a Daylight Atheism commenter (thanks, Nathaniel!) pointed out that my post “Aid in Dying” had been cited on a blog on the Patheos Catholic channel, Public Catholic, whose author, Rebecca Hamilton, is a member of the Oklahoma state legislature. Needless to say, she was perturbed:

Last night, when I googled euthanasia, I came across a forever-to-be-nameless blog that was chortling over the rise in public acceptance of medical murder, which polite folk like to call euthanasia. This blogger, who earns his literary bread by selling atheism, went on to say that this public approval of killing grandma pits Christians even more solidly against the culture of what’s happening now. This is, the writer said, an “opportunity” for him and his to gain converts.

The question arises: Converts to what?

Certainly not a disbelief in God, since that question never arises in this or most similar analyses. This wasn’t an argument against the existence of God. It was a smug rejoicing in the increasingly widespread public rebellion against God.

After an introduction like that, I thought it’d only be fair for me to drop by and pay her a visit. I posted this comment:

Hi Rebecca, were you talking about my post from earlier this week? If so, I must say I think it’s impolite for you to not link to it and thereby deny your readers the chance to make up their own minds about what I have to say.

But I’d be happy to answer your question: Yes, I was indeed suggesting that this is a way to win converts to the cause of atheism and humanism. The striking contrast between what most people know to be moral and the commandments of the church hierarchy is a way to drive home the point that religion isn’t necessary for ethical behavior, and in some cases is even contrary to it.

Since I don’t believe in God, it’s obviously a category error to accuse me of celebrating “rebellion against God”, just as it would be a category error to accuse you of inciting rebellion against Odin and Thor. However, I’ll gladly plead guilty to advocating that more people reject the teachings of the church, whose morals aren’t based on reason or conscience.

To my surprise, the author replied. She denied that this was a reference to my post, but refused to say who it was in reference to (“None of your business”). Then she deleted the entire exchange from her comment thread.

You can judge for yourself whether this denial is credible. I think her denunciation corresponds too closely to the structure of my post for it to be about anything else. But whether she was writing about me or not, her post is another example of the tendency of religious apologists to criticize atheist arguments while refusing to name or cite the people who make them. Apparently they don’t trust their readers to make up their own minds if pointed towards a different view.

But what I wanted to comment on was the sense of sheer panic implicit in Hamilton’s post. Just look at some of her other over-the-top rhetoric, like this:

A federal judge in Kentucky killed marriage this week…

It was the week that Western civilization, already weakened by the blood loss from the decades-long practice of cultural self-cutting, was given its death sentence. What we were and what we would like to think we still are is now a dead man walking, waiting for the final woof! of implosion that pushes us back down to the muck from which we came.

Well, I can’t speak for the whole country, but I checked just now and my wedding ring is still on my finger; it hasn’t dissolved into thin air because of the ruling of a federal judge in Kentucky. Nor has the slight relaxation of assisted-dying laws caused civilization to collapse into an apocalyptic hellscape, at least as far as I can tell from my front window.

Somehow, in spite of those marriage-killing judges, it still exists.

I always feel a tinge of cheer when I see religious apologists raving like this, because it points to a creeping realization that the culture war isn’t going their way. Physician-assisted dying is making gains; marriage equality has gone 5 for 5 in recent months, winning court victories in Utah, Oklahoma, Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia; and each younger generation is more secular than the one before it. Clearly, religious apologists feel the world, which they once thought they owned, is slipping away from them; that they’re losing their privileged status as the sole arbiters of morality. You can understand their anger and desperation in this light.

Naturally, the apologists are eager to cast this as a rebellion against goodness itself. The truth is that their view, which is based on blind obedience to decaying creeds, is being replaced with something better: a morality that’s based on reasoned debate and human well-being. The churches and their advocates still command significant power, but they can no longer just assert that something is God’s will and expect to receive deference. If that prospect frightens and upsets them, perhaps it’s because they don’t have any backup arguments to offer.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Daniel Webb

    It sounds pretty dishonest and intellectually stunted.

    Incidentally, when you referenced that many believers don’t like to link or specifically cite atheists whom they’re expressing self-righteous outrage towards–I was reminded of how Ken Ham complains at least once a week about some secularist or atheist is being derogatory or blasphemous. He takes little snippets from blogs (if he quotes them at all) and never links to the main article. Definitely a sign of someone who is insecure in his or her own argument and doesn’t want to let others see legitimate counter-points.

  • cipher

    Naturally, if you were to ask her why she deleted the exchange from her comment thread, she’d tell you it was disruptive or some such nonsense. She probably doesn’t even realize that she’s terrified of confronting any sort of challenge to her belief system. Fundamentalists are the least introspective people on the planet.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I guess my main question for you is why basing things on debate or human reason would be better than “decaying creeds.” I know that wasn’t the main point of the article, but you just left it hanging at the end, and I was wondering if you could expand on that claim a little bit.

  • Nathaniel

    You’re very welcome. I’ve been reading your thoughts since back on your original blog in 2005. I’m tickled that I was able to do something that inspired a whole post by itself.

    And if you want another laugh, go back to that woman’s post one more time. She actually did end up linking to your blog. In the comments section. While being as snide as possible and calling you rude in the most passive-aggressive fashion possible. So apparently your post did have something to do with hers after all.

    You know, I read a bit of a book once. Said something about bearing false witness. I think she might have heard of it. But maybe she skipped that part.

  • SecularPatriot

    She thought it was so important to link back that she buried the link.

  • SecularPatriot

    Hey Adam. Great post as always. Did I get blocked from your site somehow?

  • DavidMHart

    Because testing your ideas against reality and keeping only the ones that pass those tests is a more reliable way of making sure that your beliefs actually correspond to reality than simply believing things because your ancestors believed them.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I don’t understand how this applies to morality though which is what my question was about. For instance, you say that we need to match our ideas against reality. What is a moral reality? How do you go about determining that kind of thing?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    I’ve wasted too much time writing thoughtful and polite comments for Rebecca Hamilton to simply delete. I’m surprised that she deigned to respond to you, but I’m not surprised that she still purges discouraging words from her comments.

    She’s a Democratic representative in the Oklahoma legislature, I believe, though her actions seem way more Republican to me.

  • cheribom

    I suppose it boils down to “causing no/least harm.” (Whereas much religious “morality” treats inconsequential things as “evil.”) Here’s an old guest-post that got into it pretty heavily: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2012/01/morality-is-relative-but-not-subjective/ I’m not sure if that will answer your questions or not… but there are those who can probably answer you much better than I!

  • gimpi1

    In my opinion, a moral reality relates to harm. Do your actions cause harm? Are you creating unnecessary pain? Are you limiting someone’s freedom in ways that aren’t needed? Are you damaging the world around you? If all your answers are no, the action is not immoral.

    If you have a qualified yes, for instance, you are limiting the freedom of some people in some way to benefit another group or prevent harm, you have to weigh up the consequences to see if the action you propose causes more good than harm. If you are, for instance, limiting the freedom of employers to discriminate based on race, you’re taking the freedom to do something that’s pretty silly away from some people, so many other people will have greater opportunities. A net-gain in fairness and freedom, in other words. Therefore, that kind of restriction is moral, I think.

    If, however you are limiting the freedom of people to – for example – change belief-systems, you are limiting their freedom with no gain. You aren’t preventing anyone from being victimized. There’s no tangible harm in someone converting from Islam to Buddhism, for example. Some people lose a form of freedom, with no net-gain for anyone. Therefore, that kind of restriction is immoral in my view.

    Reality really helps in determining morality. Racism, for instance, is based on the foolish and disproved idea that races have actual, profound differences from each other. Knowing that’s not true helps make moral decisions about how we treat other people. People uncomfortable with marriage-equity often cite child-rearing as one reason they disapprove of same-sex marriages. The best information we have says that, as long as children are loved and well-cared for, the gender of the parents is relatively unimportant. That knowledge can break down barriers to marriage-equity.

    Choices about consumption, economics and lifestyle have moral weight, in my view, if they can cause harm or make the world better. Facts and reality are essential in making those decisions.

  • RoverSerton

    For those of you that don’t know bob’s website, it is one of my favorites! http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/

  • HematitePersuasion

    That’s amusing. I do read the Public Catholic blog regularly, as I try to follow the arguments of religious, and I do recall thinking that ‘nameless’ column might have been yours. Sometimes I comment there, but — given the censorius moderation and frumiously twitchy followers — ambiguously. I want to make gentle points, not get caught up in the general fervor of a witch hunt.

    That particular posting was so over-the-top reactionary that there really wasn’t much to say about it beyond ‘really? And what will that look like?’

  • Izkata

    I always questioned the blog moving to this site for this reason – from a comment over there:

    > Problem is they refuse to admit their atheism is just as much a religion as any other (helloooo, they’re on Patheos)

  • Izkata

    As to why, she says this in another comment thread:

    > He was insistent about being linked to from Public Catholic, so I
    obliged. I think his primary motivation is to convert you to
    atheism/euthanasia.

  • L.Long

    When reading anything I always look for the link or reference to some source. If it aint there then I assume they are lying. That is the one point I find very common on atheists blogs, they are not afraid to link to the stated article if one wants the greater detail, religion blogs almost never do so.
    I love it when religious dimwits state…” Problem is they refuse to admit their atheism is just as much a religion as any other…”, because they say atheism is of satan, so religion is bad.
    And I find it ironic that a member of the Royal Catlick Criminal organization is condemning others for harming people.

  • kraut2

    “Public Catholic, whose author, Rebecca Hamilton”
    “rise in public acceptance of medical murder, which polite folk like to call euthanasia.”

    Isn’t it funny – the Catholics never had a problem to kill anybody who didn’t tow the line of their dogma. Or for gain if they were accused of being witches with some property to dispose of. They also had no qualms to support a certain guy named Adolph Hitler with a bevy of bishops in a photo showing how to do the “Hitlergruss” correctly.Or the children vanishing into unmarked graves unfortunate enough to have to attend their schools in Canada, or killing themselves as a consequence of being abused to no end.. Or the victims of the Magdalen Laundries. or the victims of priestly abuse…
    Yes, they call it murder when it is a choice, because they loose power over a victim, they are not the ones doing the killing.
    Fuck the catholic church, I was 14 when I left that bunch of unsavory clowns pretending to be in charge of morality – the morality of a death cult.

  • GCBill

    Your guess is still too charitable. When I asked, she deleted my question.

  • Azkyroth

    Have you tried reading any of the many other things he’s written?

  • Azkyroth

    Acting morally requires not only a subjective value judgment about which states of reality we consider to be desirable, but also a rational and/or empirical determination of what state of affairs any given contemplated action can be reasonably expected to bring about. As I have explained to my daughter on occasion, “if you really want to help, you need to think, and listen to what people tell you, about what will actually be helpful.”

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    Honestly, I haven’t. I just came across this one and was just hoping for a more clarification rather than searching through the archives. I figured that someone here would be willing to help me out.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I am encouraged by your objectivism. I like the fact that you have definite things that are right or wrong. I guess I have to ask in that case why you chose those particular things? Why is freedom by nature more desirable than bondage? I know it sounds silly, but I think it is a legitimate question. Is there any other reason besides the fact that people seem to think so?

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    Thanks for the article! I am not entirely satisfied by the author’s differentiation between relativism and subjectivism, but I am glad that you sent it to me.

  • Izkata

    Because those who prefer it have the freedom to choose bondage. (And some do – for example, there’s a subculture of BDSM based around it)

  • SecularPatriot

    What is a moral reality?

    Great question.

  • Ryan Hite

    This is exactly what I have been saying! This is the twilight of christianity as we know it. This religion will not be the same very soon.

  • reasonous_thinking

    Moral questions are generally questions about quality of experience, potential and actual. Experience occurs within reality, so answers to moral questions are answers about and bound by various states of reality. Once you understand this, it’s no great leap to understanding why rationality is far a superior compass for answering moral questions than dogmatism.

  • ahermit

    Love is winning and the haters are afraid.

  • Leum

    What I find interesting is her equivocation of euthanasia and abortion with same-sex marriage, as if all three are on the same level of immorality. Considering that, if she’s right, two of those things are murder (and in the case of abortion murder on a near-genocidal level), I can’t see how she can justify also discussing same-sex marriage in the same breath. Surely the enormity of euthanasia and abortion would cause ssm to pale in comparison.

  • Donalbain

    Yeah… she has a habit of deleting opposing posts that are polite and reasoned, and allowing the odd post that is insulting or rude. That way she can proclaim that atheists (and anyone else who disagrees with her) are all horrible people.

  • James Stevenson

    I realise I’m probably a bit late to the party here but chiming in anyway.
    Personally, I find the ‘objective’ basis bit a lot of malarkey. Because the assumption is, if we assume a Christian arguing the point with an atheist for the sake of simplicity, the objective basis is a loaded term designed to prop up the Christians point if you say you feel there can be absolutes.

    The reality is that an ‘objective’ basis in morality is inherently unethical as it is unchallengeable. When the objective basis is god, for what reason does society as a whole have to bow down to the Christian god? In that case, gods objective basis for morality is based on two things: 1) his presumed power (as judge, the legitimacy-as-creator argument is almost never played) and 2) that he is real.

    The second point is generally not argued by religious people, but if god isn’t real then his objective basis goes out the window. The reality is that, despite claims to objective morality, everyone makes claims weighing up harm vs benefit which is the best way to approach these things as I see it.

    To use a rather trite example, slavery was moral until people recognised the harm it did to slaves. If slaves were unperturbed by the servitude and there was no unnecessary brutality in it I wonder if it ever would have been seriously challenged. For a rather geeky counter-example to this, check out the Ood in the Doctor Who remake, who enjoy servitude (though mostly because they’ve been lobotomised, if that hadn’t been a plot point I wonder if it would have been ethical to free them as the early argument was they’d die without anyone to serve?).

    Honestly, when someone says they believe in ‘objective’ morality I am FAR more scared of them than someone who says ‘yes I believe we should take responsibility for our own actions’. Such a person is only kept on a leash by their fear of a greater power crushing a boot on them. Were they to convince themselves that god wants them to murder, they would do it without a heartbeat. If they cannot make things based on a ‘relative’ analysis on each persons health.

  • http://www.calgarysecularchurch.org/ Korey Peters

    Your attempt to equate euthanasia and abortion with murder while calling out someone for equating them with same-sex marriage does nothing but inform us you have no understanding of the deeper issues here (or, apparently, of irony).

  • http://www.calgarysecularchurch.org/ Korey Peters

    Hi Zak. May I suggest you start here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/essays/the-ineffable-carrot-and-the-infinite-stick/

    It’s one of my favorite articles of Adam’s.

  • painperdu

    And thus is the malaise of religion. Anything goes. Religion affords people to say and do what in their own mind is justified. They account to no one because they are sanctioned by a mythical being.

  • Tommykey69

    Rebecca Hamilton is quite the drama queen!

  • Azkyroth

    Also, wingnuts don’t consider abortion to be murder. It’s 100% about hurting women to punish them for having sex. Especially for having sex while women.

    Please be smarter and stop promoting this myth.

  • Chuck Farley

    I’ve posted six or seven comments on that thread, and only two have been worthy to get through the moderation process. She actually responded to me too, but it was a tangential post about polygamy. Apparently Abraham wasn’t a polygamist.

  • Trent Horn

    “Physician-assisted dying is making gains” . . . wouldn’t a more accurate term be “Physician-assisted suicide”? Some people who are in the process of dying may be “assisted” by being given doses of morphine that reduce pain and, as a side-effect, shorten their lives. But this seems to be different than a physician prescribing a lethal drug that is taken for the sole purpose of ending one’s life.

  • Lynn123

    I can relate to Christians either ignoring or deleting comments. It’s been done to me by my own cousin. And I’d said nothing bad. It actually hurt my feelings. I decided they do not want to discuss, and they do not want to hear anything but agreement with their own thoughts.

  • http://bit.ly/glUAR7 Calladus

    It has been my experience that religious people tend to speak in walled gardens. They are mostly interested in preaching, and are especially interested in “preaching to the choir”.

    Look at any of the major Christian organizations. Few of them will link to opposing arguments.

    Compare this to atheists – almost all of whom cheerfully link to an opposing argument.

    True discourse is rowdy – it isn’t neat, it isn’t “point by point”. It is a back and forth exchange of ideas where people are able to solidify their positions, or watch them wear away under waves of reason and evidence.

    It is no wonder that religious people refuse to quote the other side – theirs is the more precarious position.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I’m fairly certain Leum was pointing out that this is how religious believers characterize euthanasia and abortion, not personally endorsing that view.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    That’s part of the reason why I wrote this post, so my comment wouldn’t just vanish into the electronic ether. :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    :-)

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    So, you would disagree with Sam Harris then about objective morality existing without the existence of God?

    I happen to agree with you. If there is not some kind of some kind of supreme being or supernatural, you are going to have an awfully hard time finding a grounding for objective morality. That is the main problem I have with Sam Harris.

    However, I am a little bit troubled by your example. You say that slavery was moral until people recognized the harm it did to slaves. Morality is determined by popular opinion? Tell that to a slave on a plantation in the 1850s.

    Finally, I would not disagree that we need to take responsibility for our actions, but how do you get there from subjectivism? How do you get there without the objective statement that it is good to take responsibility for your actions?

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    Thanks for the article!

    I guess a major thing I am troubled by is the fact that Adam makes the presupposition that minimizing suffering and maximizing happiness in that logical order is universal. If it is universal, then there should not be any type of counterexample that I can come up with that is problematic for him.

    For a counterexample, let’s talk about date rape. Let’s talk about a situation where a guy and a girl are out, and the girl drinks a little bit too much and passes out. The guy was not involved with that act whatsoever (she was drinking alcohol under her own free will), but he discovers his girlfriend is unconscious and has some thoughts. The guy might get a lot of physical happiness from having his way with this girl who is not conscious, and it is certainly possible that she does not suffer any type of physical harm from this interaction.

    The next morning, she might potentially not know anything anything had happened. It seems as if she would be indifferent in this situation. She might be troubled that she doesn’t remember what happened last night, but she potentially has no reason to suspect that anything bad happened to her the night before.

    By Adam’s definition, there was not any real suffering here since there was no actual pain or harm. (To discredit my counterexample, find evidence that there are psychological side effects even if the victim is unconscious. I did a little bit of research as due diligence before posting this comment, and I could not find any evidence that if you never know what happened, you still have psychological or emotional side effects. It is certainly possible that there would not be any physical harm even if many times rape does involve physical abuse. All I need for this counterexample is possibility.).

    Therefore, we have no perceptible suffering (the victim would not perceive it), and we have physical happiness on the part of the guy because he feels pretty happy that he got what he wanted, so this type of situation is apparently morally good.

    Conversely, it does not seem to follow that the rape itself is necessarily immoral according to Adam’s worldview.

    That frightens me. I want to know what grounds Adam would have to say that this unconscious rape is wrong. I didn’t notice anything in the article, but feel free to point it out to me.

    PS: I want to be entirely clear that I am being the devil’s advocate here. I am not trying to justify date rape whatsoever, but I am trying to take Adam’s summary of his worldview to its logical conclusion. Even if the girl made a bad decision in this particular situation and had little bit more alcohol than she responsibly should have had, I would argue that her natural rights as a human being trump the apparent “net happiness” that seems to be created in this situation.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I guess I would follow up by asking a little bit more about these qualities of experience. What do you mean by that? Do you mean something like having a “happy” experience is better than having something like a “sad” experience? I guess I am just a little confused by your definitions.

  • http://www.calgarysecularchurch.org/ Korey Peters

    Harrumph. Back in my day we weren’t all subtle about stuff. We just punched each other in the face and then called it a day.

    Leum, you were too clever for me! :)

  • Azkyroth

    Why?

  • http://batman-news.com blotonthelandscape

    Hi Zak, if you’re interested, Dan over at Cammels with Hammers has an extensive archive on the subject of morality.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/

  • GCT

    Because the assumption is, if we assume a Christian arguing the point with an atheist for the sake of simplicity, the objective basis is a loaded term designed to prop up the Christians point if you say you feel there can be absolutes.

    I agree with this, but only because people incorrectly use “objective” and “absolute” as interchangeable words. Objective morality and absolute morality are 2 different things.

    The reality is that an ‘objective’ basis in morality is inherently unethical as it is unchallengeable.

    That’s not true. An objective basis in morality would indicate that it is simply based on some objective facts. Those facts can be challenged as inaccurate, or they can be challenged on how they are used.

    When the objective basis is god, for what reason does society as a whole have to bow down to the Christian god?

    Except god does not make an objective basis. This is Euthyphro’s dilemma. If god makes up the rules, they are not objective, because they are subject to the whims of god. If god does not make up the rules, then the rules are not of god. Xian morality is not objective. They are actually claiming to hold an absolute morality (X is wrong and has always been wrong, no matter what, because god says so – which is also a divine command morality) but that does not hold true either – as your slavery example clearly illustrates.

    I’m not trying to come down hard on you, but it’s a bit of a peeve of mine that people automatically give Xians a pass on their claims to objective morality. I also simply like to point out how faulty their system is.

  • PhiloKGB

    The mere existence of a “supreme being or supernatural” is not a solution to the problem of an objective basis for morality.

  • GCT

    Because raping someone causes harm to that person and violates their right to bodily autonomy, not to mention the dehumanizing aspects of treating an unconscious woman as a sex toy. This is part of Adam’s moral system. Taking an admitted summary of someone’s position in order to discuss specifics that may not be explicitly covered in the summary isn’t playing devil’s advocate. This is especially true when the argument is an argument such as the one you used.

  • reasonous_thinking

    You’re not confused so much as you’re navel-gazing. You indicate a familiarity with Sam Harris above, so I’ll answer by paraphrasing him. When presented with questions of morality, the ground we already stand upon need only be noticed.

    Good/happy/quality/correct/etc: The maximum/minimum possible flourishing/suffering of all conscious beings.

    Bad/unhappy/wrong: The minimum/maximum possible flourishing/suffering of all conscious beings.

    If you think there can be anything better/worse than this definition of good/bad, or think that there are concerns rooted outside of conscious experience worth being considered, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Furthermore, in the absence of a rational explanation of what you’re talking about it is only reasonable to assume that neither do you.

  • reasonous_thinking

    You’re spending lot of time and effort on a faulty setup. At no point did you mention the most important factor here: consent. Without acknowledging the importance of this concept and framing your discourse in its context, it’s difficult to see your line of questioning as anything other than obfuscation.

  • GCT

    Even if the girl made a bad decision in this particular situation and had little bit more alcohol than she responsibly should have had, I would argue that her natural rights as a human being trump the apparent “net happiness” that seems to be created in this situation.

    Yet, it occurs to me that you seem to think that no harm befalls her and no suffering is endured by her being raped so long as she has no recollection of it. This is rather disgusting.

  • http://www.calgarysecularchurch.org/ Korey Peters

    Does not the act of rape harm the man as well? There is also the real possibility that she will learn of the rape later and be harmed by that knowledge, irrespective of any other harms.

    So while, in theory, if you knocked someone unconscious and did horrible things to them that left no physical or emotional scars on ANYONE involved, you could maybe twist the letter of Adam’s proposed morality to make this okay, but in practice this is essentially impossible and absolutely breaks the spirit of what Adam is proposing.

  • Pofarmer

    Same here. I have more or less given up on her, and Father whats his face too.

  • Pofarmer

    If there isn’t a real crisis, one must be constructed! It’s all too common on all sides.

  • GCT

    There is also the real possibility that she will learn of the rape later and be harmed.

    She’s harmed whether she learns of it or not.

  • GCT

    And what constructed crisis has the side other than Rebecca’s come up with lately?

  • Pofarmer

    To be fair(and maybe try to weasel out a little bit) I was thinking more along the lines of liberal and conservative politicians as opposed to strictly Atheist/Theist.

  • GCT

    Even along those lines, it seems like it’s a lot more one-sided from where I sit. Do you have examples beyond anti-vaccination nonsense, which is pretty much the only example I can come up with (and is not strictly confined to the left)?

  • http://www.calgarysecularchurch.org/ Korey Peters

    Sorry, I should have said, “and be harmed by that knowledge, irrespective of any other harms.” I’ll edit.

  • Azkyroth

    “Both sides” is the intellectual equivalent of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

  • Azkyroth

    For a counterexample, let’s talk about date rape.

    Let’s not. Using real people’s lived, traumatic experiences, especially common ones for which there is rarely any recourse or consequences for the perpetrator, as a detached thought experiment shows a severe failure of empathy.

  • katiehippie

    that’s what happened to me. The nicer comment didn’t go through but the snarky one did. The nice ones don’t fit her persecution complex.

  • Pofarmer

    I dunno. Occupy wall street, health care crisis, housing crisis, education crisis, govt shit down crisis. There is always some crisis and politicians on either side trying to capitalize off of it.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I seriously did not mean any offense, and I sincerely apologize if my remarks were taken in that light. I tried to address the topic seriously, and if it seemed like I made light of this type of situation, please know that that would never be my intention. Like I said at the end of my passage, I don’t mean to justify it, and I am certainly not defending it.

    However, morality is lived in real life, and for something like this that terribly happens in real life far too often, I would argue that a moral system definitively needs some way to say that date rape is wrong. That is one reason why I wasn’t satisfied by his moral system because it seemed as if there was no way for him to say what you and I are agreeing on.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    Perhaps not, but it certainly makes it possible that there could be an objective morality based upon a certain type of supreme being.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I am going to respond to both of your comments together for the sake of space.

    My entire post up until that postscript was not my opinion of date rape. I thought I made that clear. I was working on the logical conclusion of what I could gather from Adam’s worldview, so when you say that I do not think there is any harm for the victim, that is simply a misrepresentation on your part of my entire comment.

    Like I said, I believe that she has rights as a human being that would overwhelm whatever potential happiness was created in the situation. Even if my entire counterexample is valid and there is net “happiness” created in this situation, I would argue that it is wrong no matter what. It is still wrong to violate her in that way, and I don’t see how this universal utilitarianism addresses that.

    I guess the best thing I can say to your second comment is show me how you derive the fact that bodily autonomy is a good thing from Adam’s moral system. If he did not explicitly lay it out, we should at least be able to derive it from the foundation that he did provide. You made the claim that it is part of his moral system, so I am wondering how you would go about proving that.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    I want to know what grounds Adam would have to say that this unconscious rape is wrong. I didn’t notice anything in the article, but feel free to point it out to me.

    Here, from my original essay, is my response to that grotesque thought experiment:

    The “potential” part of the formulation is one of the most important parts of universal utilitarianism, and so I believe it bears further explanation. First, it asks us to consider the moral value of our actions as if all relevant parties were fully aware of them.

    The moral value of an action depends on what the people who were affected by it would think of it if they were aware of it, regardless of whether they’re actually aware of it. Denying this principle would lead to the patently absurd conclusion that it’s OK to commit any evil deed just as long as you successfully cover it up. Since that policy would, in the long run, inevitably produce a much greater degree of suffering in the world, UU firmly rejects it.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I guess it could harm the man in this situation, but if you decided to go through with the action, he must have gained more happiness than he lost, if any. If it would have made him less well-off, I would think that the utilitarianism part of this definition would have caused him to stop.

    I don’t think I entirely twisted this. I would argue that I took this argument to a possible conclusion. I am not saying that it is likely, and I am not saying that it is right, but I am saying that it is possible for my counterexample to hold under this moral system, and that concerns me.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I see where you’re going with that, and I agree to an extent.

    However, how are we possibly supposed to know what other people would think about something? Is it based upon what I think other people are thinking? That is awfully open to subjective interpretation. How can I ever know then what is moral or not then with anything short of ESP? Is it something that humans are simply evolutionarily programmed to understand?

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    I had to Google what “navel-gazing” was. I had never heard that expression before.

    I have little bit of familiarity with Dr. Harris, and I know that he puts a lot of weight on consciousness. Like you said, we are talking about conscious beings here. I think that he puts a little bit too much weight on consciousness though. If morality is something that occurs within conscious beings and is not transcendent, then it is certainly possible in another possible world that morality would be entirely different if the nature of human consciousness would be different in that world. That doesn’t fit the definition of objectivity. It feels like it is subjective to the nature of humanity and human consciousness which could be different in other worlds and makes morality not absolutely objective. If we don’t have anything to base objectivity on, then the two definitions you laid out are hard to absolutely follow.

    In response to your final paragraph, I would simply respond with a little cliché. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The fact that I have not told you what I personally believe does not at all logically lead to the conclusion that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    However, how are we possibly supposed to know what other people would think about something?

    I have an unorthodox suggestion: Ask them.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    So, I ask you if action A is moral, and you tell me it is moral. I go to my coworker with the same question, and he tells me it is not moral. Who wins out? Someone has to win if this is objective.

  • Zack Kendall

    Hmm…Adam, politicians aren’t usually “apologists” (except for the legislation and businesses that the politicians support). Nevertheless, I can vouch that actual religious apologists are monitoring sites like patheos, exChristian, and others.

    There is actually a distinction that ought be noted. Many of the lower level Christian apologists are not a part of the Christian church/university establishment. So even to say that the church/university establishment is afraid does not mean that the apologetics community is.

  • Izak Burger

    As I understand it, it is only murder if there is a law that criminalises the act. Therefore abortion isn’t murder. It may however still be horribly immoral (this is what is really being debated), even though socially acceptable, and therefore this is somewhat of a hollow victory in my opinion. Pro-life advocates need to know about this distinction and avoid it, as it only derails the discussion.

    I’m also not convinced that it is 100% about punishing women. I think the availability of abortion also advantages men in many ways, because by freeing women to have sex, aren’t you also helping men with a greater supply of people to have sex with? So without getting into too much detail there, I’ll just say I think you’re 100% is a bit extreme, the matter is not that clear-cut.

  • GCT

    My entire post up until that postscript was not my opinion of date rape. I thought I made that clear. I was working on the logical conclusion of what I could gather from Adam’s worldview, so when you say that I do not think there is any harm for the victim, that is simply a misrepresentation on your part of my entire comment.

    This, in no way, rebuts what I said. You specifically claimed that no harm comes to an unconscious woman that is raped. Are you seriously going to contend that no harm befalls her under Adam’s morality, but that under your morality reality is different and harm does befall her? Secondly, that you made a cartoonish version of someone else’s idea in order to claim that date rape would not be immoral is nothing more than a straw man argument.

    It is still wrong to violate her in that way, and I don’t see how this universal utilitarianism addresses that.

    Really? Then you’re intentionally be obtuse and unserious.

    I guess the best thing I can say to your second comment is show me how you derive the fact that bodily autonomy is a good thing from Adam’s moral system. If he did not explicitly lay it out, we should at least be able to derive it from the foundation that he did provide. You made the claim that it is part of his moral system, so I am wondering how you would go about proving that.

    Well, you could read the OP and the previous post that spawned it where he specifically talks about this concept if you were actually interested in learning about Adam’s position, just for starters. You’re obviously not serious. You simply want to make rhetorical points and are looking for gotchas.

  • GCT

    It’s becoming increasing clear that Zak Schmoll has no interest in honest inquiry and is more interested in trolling than anything else. How else do you explain his penchant to jump to hyperbole? ESP, really?

  • GCT

    I’ve already addressed this. Pay attention.

  • GCT

    What’s wrong with the occupy movement?

    What do you mean by “health care crisis?” Is it not true that the US health care system needs to improve? Is it not true that we still have millions of uninsured Americans?

    What do you mean by “housing crisis?”

    For the “education crisis” this is a bipartisan thing. Both sides are claiming that schools are failing. Remember, it was rethuglicans that put forth the No Child Left Behind legislation.

    The government shutdown was a right wing issue. It cost the taxpayers billions of dollars and was the fault of the right wingers throwing a hissy fit because they couldn’t deny health care to people.

    It’s a false equivalency to claim that both sides are equally guilty. And, you may not be doing that, but it’s what’s implied by your comment that I originally replied to.

  • Azkyroth

    1. Read the link.

    2. Contraception. It’s a thing. Google it.

    3. People don’t stop having sex merely because abortion, or even contraception, aren’t available. Hell, people don’t stop having abortions merely because abortion services aren’t legal.

  • Azkyroth

    Thank you for illustrating the fourth of those.

  • Azkyroth

    At least it beats the endless “HEY! THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ‘BIG THINK!’ WHAT ARE YOU DOING CHALLENGING MY ASSUMPTIONS AND MAKING ME UNCOMFORTABLE WITH MY PREJUDICES?!” bleating at the previous site.

  • Izak Burger

    1. Granted, because I am not an American, I skipped the link because I seemed the borderline derogatory term of wingnut probably refers to someone with a specific political outlook. I still think it is unhelpful when people refer to it as murder, because then you end up chasing a red herring. Present case a perfect example of that.

    2. I know what contraception is. I’m assuming that since we’re so badly in need of abortion, people either don’t use it or it is horribly inefficient. I know the argument that “it fails all the time” is a bad one used by some pro-lifers, so I won’t go that way, which leaves me with only the latter option: We’re doing millions of abortions because people are bad at using contraception. That latter case is most certainly what is happening in my own country: South Africa. People are using abortion as a kind of contraception.

    3. People will always have sex, yes. Not the point. I was contesting the 100% figure. Let me draw a picture. Lets assume that men aren’t the spineless bastards everyone think they are and that they do care about their offspring. In this scenario, we can say that men carry a 50% responsibility towards their children. If abortion is not available, then not only are we punishing the woman (who cannot walk away from the pregnancy), we are also punishing the man (who, assuming he is not weak-kneed, should not walk away from the pregnancy either). By allowing abortion, we are then not only helping the woman, but we are also helping the man. Therefore 100% is the wrong figure. Even if we agree that the woman gets the wrong end of the stick — and she certainly does because even if she goes for the abortion she still has to deal with the uncomfortable procedure while the guy doesn’t — the number is somewhere above 50 and strictly less than 100.

    From previous experience with another pro-choicer, I know that using the word “responsibility” can be problematic. So lets explore the other side of the equation. Let’s say the man has the right to walk away from the pregnancy, and this does not make him a bad guy. In order to have equality, the woman must then also be able to walk away from the pregnancy. This means abortion must be available. But then, once again: Does the man’s ability to walk away without screwing the woman over in terms of equality not depend greatly on the availability of abortion? If we deny the woman the abortion, and we enforce equality, do we not then punish the man as well?

    In short, I’m saying I don’t buy this feeble argument that abortion is a woman’s issue, and that disagreement therewith is therefore 100% about punishing them. Men benefit as much as women do. Without abortion, men are left with two choices: Accept responsibility for the pregnancy, or accept that women aren’t equal.

  • Donalbain

    Surely the existence of a supreme being simply moves the question up a level. Is it REALLY an objective morality if it only depends on the opinions of a magic man in the sky?

  • GCT

    The definition of objective is not the same as the definition of absolute or universal. FFS.

  • GCT

    FTW!

    Oh how I hated that recurrent bullshit.

  • http://achapterperday.wordpress.com/ Zak Schmoll

    From the original post, this morality is claimed to be both absolute and objective…

    “I claim that there is one true absolute, objective, universal moral code, by which I mean a moral code that is the same for all people, that applies equally to all people at all places and all times, and that returns the same results regardless of who performs the evaluation if it is performed correctly.” (Part 1, Paragraph 5)

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/essays/the-ineffable-carrot-and-the-infinite-stick/

    My last question here was clearly challenging the claim of asking people what they think is objective… I agree that absolute and objective are not the same…

  • Azkyroth

    What.

  • GCT

    The evidence shows that it is about punishing women who have unauthorized sex, even if you don’t want to look at the evidence.

  • GCT

    And, he explains what he means by that, which is clearly “objective” not universal or absolute. I agree that Adam was mistaken in his terms, but he explained what he meant and you are ignoring that.

    My last question here was clearly challenging the claim of asking people what they think is objective… I agree that absolute and objective are not the same…

    It clearly wasn’t, nor was it clear that you actually understand the difference between absolute and objective. In fact, the answer that I gave you, that objective is not the same as absolute answers your question.

  • Izak Burger

    Nothing.

  • Izak Burger

    My argument is that it in a truly equal world it also punishes the man who wants “unauthorised” sex. Unless you want to argue that a man is unaffected either way… then yes, outlawing abortion would punish only the woman. But that’s being very unequal.

  • reasonous_thinking

    > I had to Google what “navel-gazing” was. I had never heard that expression before.

    > I have little bit of familiarity with Dr. Harris, and I know that he puts a lot of weight on consciousness. Like you said, we are talking about conscious beings here. I think that he puts a little bit too much weight on consciousness though.

    This is … difficult to parse. What kinds of morality could one ever reasonably care about that did not fundamentally concern conscious experience?

    > If morality is something that occurs within conscious beings and is not transcendent,

    “Morality” is a word in the human English language. Words are symbols. Words are not the actual “things” they symbolize. The collection of ideas being indicated by the human English symbol “morality” arise out of the laws that “make” reality, e.g. the systems we symbolize as physics, chemistry, medicine. Our moral duties grow in parallel with our expanding knowledge about the true nature of reality and our place within it. Morality can only be “transcendent” in that totally understanding or “solving” morality is most likely beyond the scope of human capability.

    > then it is certainly possible in another possible world that morality would be entirely different if the nature of human consciousness would be different in that world.

    You’re well beyond the threshold of what we talk about when we talk about morality. Morality isn’t some kind of fundamental particle or mathematical constant of the physical universe. It would likely help you to try and mentally reframe “morality” as an emergent phenomenon. This is a kind of dynamic system where Harris’ “moral landscape” can be visualized. In the opening to your response you indicated a propensity to dig a little deeper, which is encouraging. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of emergent phenomena, you’re in for a joyful few hours.

    > That doesn’t fit the definition of objectivity. It feels like it is subjective to the nature of humanity and human consciousness which could be different in other worlds and makes morality not absolutely objective. If we don’t have anything to base objectivity on, then the two definitions you laid out are hard to absolutely follow.

    Objectivity cannot be based upon anything other than truth, if the word is to mean anything at all. Lowercase t. As in facts. As in reality. Objectivity is based upon truth *before* you bring the word into “objective morality”. Objectivity is based upon truth, and morality is based upon a concern for the quality of experience of all conscious beings. This is getting esoteric, but perhaps not uselessly so for furthering your specific mind. Read the things I have written here multiple times and please force yourself to be as objective as possible. Read my language as literally, functionally, as possible. Perhaps you will notice the linguistic (and dualistic) trap you keep falling through, and if you do you can simply walk around it. The truth shall set us free, after all ;)

    >In response to your final paragraph, I would simply respond with a little cliché. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The fact that I have not told you what I personally believe does not at all logically lead to the conclusion that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    I wasn’t saying you don’t know what you’re talking about so much as I was saying that any definition of moral good/bad/right/wrong that isn’t an expression of concern about experience just doesn’t seem to make any sense. Please help me understand: how could there be any meaningful definition of morality that is not fundamentally concerned with the nature of experienced existence?

  • reasonous_thinking

    This is a pretty great example of mansplaining. Men can absolutely be affected and suffer psychologically in this situation. Pregnancy is a prolonged, progressive, and painful experience that is exclusive to the female human. What is the biological male equivalent to pregnancy that brings the scales of punishment to a balance?

  • reasonous_thinking

    That the churches are afraid is cause enough for a bit of hope. The “apologists” are much lower priority, and will lessen in numbers as children are increasingly brought up in a world with explanations that fundamentally track reality.

  • Azkyroth

    I repeat: What.

  • Izak Burger

    What do you not understand about my argument? Think about a world where abortion is not available. Does it affect your lifestyle as a man, or does it not? It if will affect your lifestyle in ways you dislike, then you in danger of being “punished” if abortion is outlawed.

    If on the other hand your lifestyle won’t be affected, then you either don’t live in ways that unnecessarily put women at risk of unplanned pregnancies, or you don’t care about women.

  • Azkyroth

    Thank you, that was at least internally coherent.

    Now:

    What is the relevance of this claim? What is it anyone has said that you suppose it disputes?

  • Izak Burger

    I dispute this: “It’s 100% about hurting women to punish them for having sex.”

    I’m being a little deliberate in not showing all my cards, and I’m trying to establish, as a first step, that whatever it is that the pro-life people are trying to accomplish, it is not aimed at women only.

    I attempted to show that you are presented with a somewhat of a trilemma.

    1. You want equality

    2. You want sexual freedom
    3. Abortion should be available

    The problem I am illustrating is that losing 3 necessitates losing one of the others as well, and this “punishes” men by the same extent as it “punishes” women.

    Now why do I say this: Because in terms of equality there are only two ways to get this: Either both parties commit fully to the pregnancy they created, or both parties get to walk away from it. Without abortion, men do not get to walk away without violating equality.

    In other words, men have much to lose, and therefore the loss of abortion would “punish” them to some extent as well.

    However, there is another possibility that I have not yet considered. Perhaps you’re saying that their INTENT is to punish the woman, so that even if I can successfully show that this has an effect on men too, the evidence still shows that “pro life people just hate women”. Well, I would say that’s a false dichotomy.

    Take this for an example: Because someone might be in favour of a abortion-regulatory law that includes exceptions for incest and rape, you conclude from that that they aren’t really serious about the pro-life cause. But have you considered that perhaps we are in favour of such laws because they are a good first step? Because they will end up saving 95% of the “children” that do get “murdered”?

    Because people do not idolize clinic bombers, you conclude that they aren’t really serious about the cause, they just want to punish women. You haven’t considered that perhaps two wrongs do not make a right?

    In fact, just read some of the comments below that very article you linked, and you will see that a lot of the political baggage that comes with “conservative politics” (and once again, I am not an America, so I have a very cursory understanding of what this includes) does not necessarily translate to “pro-life people hate women”.

  • GCT

    We don’t live in a “truly equal world” and anti-choicers know it. So, I fail to see the relevance in what you are saying. Nothing you’ve said has rebutted the notion that anti-choicers want to punish women for having unauthorized sex.

  • Izak Burger

    The relevance is simply this: Pro-abortion advocates love to paint abortion is an issue of equality, and as an issue of women’s rights. The OP’s statement, that it is 100% about punishing woman, is very much within that domain, but it goes further: It excludes any other motivation that a pro-lifer might have for disagreement.

    It is an important distinction I think, because if I can establish that pro-abortion males stand to lose something if abortion is outlawed, that opens the door to asking whether their motives are truly about freedom for women, or sexual freedom in general.

    One thing you are absolutely right about though. This is absolutely about what you call “unauthorized” sex. It is absolutely about a safety net by which we justify a lifestyle of sexual freedom. And once again I’m left wondering if it is only women who wants this freedom, or if men need it just as badly. In fact, I am a man, and I know men. I’m sort of certain that men want it more.

  • GCT

    The relevance is simply this: Pro-abortion advocates love to paint abortion is an issue of equality, and as an issue of women’s rights.

    Because, it is an issue of equality and women’s rights. One side wants women to have equality and equal rights, and the other wants to subject women to patriarchal gender roles and control them.

    It excludes any other motivation that a pro-lifer might have for disagreement.

    When you scratch beneath the surface, it always comes down to controlling women.

    It is an important distinction I think, because if I can establish that pro-abortion males stand to lose something if abortion is outlawed, that opens the door to asking whether their motives are truly about freedom for women, or sexual freedom in general.

    I’ll help you out. We all lose when women don’t have equal rights, so we all have something to gain. We also know that abortion rights lead to healthier and more stable societies, so we all have something to gain there too. I fail to see why arguing for something because it leads to societal or even personal gain is somehow a point for your argument.

    It is absolutely about a safety net by which we justify a lifestyle of sexual freedom. And once again I’m left wondering if it is only women who wants this freedom, or if men need it just as badly. In fact, I am a man, and I know men. I’m sort of certain that men want it more.

    I’m going to read this charitably…

    Consenting to sex is not the same as consenting to pregnancy. If a woman decides to consent to sex, she is not saying that any pregnancy that occurs is also OK. And, so what if men also want sexual freedom? Again, that a person may support something that is also beneficial to that person does not necessarily invalidate their argument. Again I’m left wondering why you think this makes a cogent point.

  • Azkyroth

    I’m being a little deliberate in not showing all my cards

    ….you wouldn’t happen to be a freshman Philosophy student, would you?

    However, there is another possibility that I have not yet considered. Perhaps you’re saying that their INTENT is to punish the woman, so that even if I can successfully show that this has an effect on men too, the evidence still shows that “pro life people just hate women”.

    *slow clap*

    I do believe that is what the “about” and the content of the post I linked to conveys, yes.

    Are we done playing Aren’t I A Clever Freshman now?

  • Azkyroth

    PS: You admit you’re not American and don’t have much experience with American right-wing kooks.

    Why, then, are you purporting to condesplain to someone who is and does?

  • Izak Burger

    I often realise that when we debate things like these, we play a game of trumps. I’m arguing that my life trumps your freedom, if you think about it. It is not that I don’t value freedom. It is not that you don’t value life.

    (For this reason, pro-choice has always been a silly euphemism. Anti-choice is even sillier. We are pro-abortion or anti-abortion, and that’s that really).

    Let me see if I can continue on what you said then.

    When you scratch beneath the surface, it always comes down to controlling women.

    I don’t agree. I suppose there might be pro-life people who are pro-life only because they feel a certain way about women, but this is certainly not my experience. The other possibility, and certainly my own life philosophy, is that once we decide that life is more important, all the choices both men and women make from that point on recognises this fact. This means that not only do we control the women, we all individually control each other and ourselves for what I could call the greater good.

    I’ll help you out. We all lose when women don’t have equal rights.

    You conceded my point, that abortion is as much about men as it is about women rather early on. I don’t think there’s any disagreement left here. We simply differ about what rights both women and men have. My position is that neither a man or a woman really have the right to walk away from the new life they created (not if we take the position that life is more important), at least not without proper justification, and then always as equal partners.

    Consenting to sex is not the same as consenting to pregnancy. If a woman decides to consent to sex, she is not saying that any pregnancy that occurs is also OK.

    Once again, our position is that life is important enough not to deal with lightly, so that we are more picky about when, how and with who we have sex precisely because consenting to sex is also consenting to the risk of a pregnancy. This once again applies to males as much as it applies to females, so nobody is forcing women to be prudes. Instead, I suppose you could argue we’re asking everybody to be more puritan. Sounds horrible, but *if* abortion really is tantamount to murder, isn’t that the only way?

    That really is the crux of the matter, is it not? If it is wrong to stop that little beating heart, is there really any other way to treat women as equals?

    (I don’t know how else to say this other than speak about stopping a very early beating heart. I’ve used other terms in the past and it always derails the conversation, so knowing as I do that the heart starts beating at 35 days, I’ll put it in this factual way).

    But if it isn’t wrong, then men and women really benefit equally, and all this nonsense about it being a woman’s matter really should be laid to rest.

    While I’m writing this I know you’re not buying any of this anyway, but that’s okay. If I can dispel the myth that we’re only out to hurt women, that’s enough for me. It is important to me, because it derails the conversation, and it is quite frankly a false dichotomy: It’s not like the only options here are to either love women and agree with abortion, or to hate women and disagree with abortion.

  • Izak Burger

    In some ways I am glad I am not an American. If I was one, I’d never know who to vote for. Both the big options frankly suck, from my 5000km away viewpoint anyway.

    Scrolling back, it would appear you were really only speaking about American Conservatives. Not me in other words. I doubt all conservatives are like this. They really do make odd choices sometimes, so I think I’ll just agree with you there and call it a day.

  • Izak Burger

    No, I’m not a student. Haven’t been for 15 years. When I was a student, I didn’t even study philosophy, except for an introductory course that was added in at some point for no other reason than to give us science people an idea of what really props up our discipline.

    I have however debated online before, and I know that you have to stick to the point or risk derailing the entire conversation. So this would not be on account of being a “freshman” (I assume that would be a first year student in American slang?), but merely common sense based on experience.

    Be that as it may, I still think the writer of that article commits a false dicthotomy, which is rather glaringly obvious if you just read the comments underneath it by (what I assume to be) Americans. But since I am not qualified to speak about Americans, I’ll once again call it a day.

  • GCT

    Take this for an example: Because someone might be in favour of a abortion-regulatory law that includes exceptions for incest and rape, you conclude from that that they aren’t really serious about the pro-life cause. But have you considered that perhaps we are in favour of such laws because they are a good first step? Because they will end up saving 95% of the “children” that do get “murdered”?

    Because people do not idolize clinic bombers, you conclude that they aren’t really serious about the cause, they just want to punish women. You haven’t considered that perhaps two wrongs do not make a right?

    You’re contradicting yourself. Your “answer” to the second one directly contradicts your “answer” to the first. And, people can comment all they want about how it’s really about the babies, but their actions speak louder than their words.

  • Izak Burger

    I’m confused. Are you saying that “two wrongs do not make a right” contradicts anything in the first answer?

    It doesn’t even really matter that those statements are contradictory, because all I need to show here is that there might be another motive in the mind of the supporter, even if those motives are conflicting.

    Lets assume you are in a position to save 95 out of a 100 generic lives, for the sake of argument. You would really like to save all 100, but those last 5 are more difficult to argue for than the other 95, and while you’re arguing about those 5 even more people are dying. You therefore support a law that would save the life of that 95.

    Someone then comes along and says because you didn’t push for 100% you’re not serious about what you support.

  • GCT

    I’m confused. Are you saying that “two wrongs do not make a right” contradicts anything in the first answer?

    Yes.

    It doesn’t even really matter that those statements are contradictory, because all I need to show here is that there might be another motive in the mind of the supporter, even if those motives are conflicting.

    It’s completely unconvincing if the rationales are contradictory and ad hoc.

    Lets assume you are in a position to save 95 out of a 100 generic lives, for the sake of argument. You would really like to save all 100, but those last 5 are more difficult to argue for than the other 95, and while you’re arguing about those 5 even more people are dying. You therefore support a law that would save the life of that 95.

    Someone then comes along and says because you didn’t push for 100% you’re not serious about what you support.

    If I really believed it was murder, I would have to push for no exceptions. After all, 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

    Let me ask you, would you rush into a burning IVF clinic to save all the “babies”?

  • Izak Burger

    First, I don’t think it matters whether the rationales convinces someone. I’m only out to prove that “you just want to punish women” is a false alternative because there are others available. It isn’t even very hard to think what someone might say if you just asked them why they don’t bomb abortion clinics, or why they don’t go for 100% abolishment.

    When they say: I don’t bomb the clinic cause that ain’t right either, or if they say: I’ll back the law that saves 95% because that will save some lives NOW!… the moment they say any of those things, it destroys the notion that all they wanted to do was punish.

    Now I agree that if something is murder I would _eventually_ have to push for no exceptions. But if someone settles for a lesser position in the mean time, I don’t see how that automatically rules out all motives except for a punishment motive, which is what is being done here.

    I didn’t want to go into this too much, but I’m not your typical pro-lifer. I’m not against contraception. I’m not against the morning-after pill. I’m not against funding for STDs, and one of my family members was involved in the development of a new HPV vaccine. I am against anything that potentially causes pain, my primary issue with abortion is fetal pain and anguish, which means I’m against it for much the same reason as many people are against animal abuse.

    The fetus gains a heartbeat and brain function around day 40. This, in my opinion, is where it becomes unethical. This is so early, that for all practical purposes I’m as pro-life as everyone else.

    But it does mean I won’t be running into an IVF clinic to save babies.

  • GCT

    I’m only out to prove that “you just want to punish women” is a false alternative because there are others available.

    I’m fully aware that there are other reasons that people may state they oppose abortion. It happens all the time. When you scratch the surface, however, it becomes clear that it’s an issue of subjugation of women.

    When they say: I don’t bomb the clinic cause that ain’t right either, or if they say: I’ll back the law that saves 95% because that will save some lives NOW!… the moment they say any of those things, it destroys the notion that all they wanted to do was punish.

    No, it doesn’t. They can state all they want that it’s about X or Y, but the reality is that their protestations do not align with the actual positions and their actions.

    Now I agree that if something is murder I would _eventually_ have to push for no exceptions. But if someone settles for a lesser position in the mean time, I don’t see how that automatically rules out all motives except for a punishment motive, which is what is being done here.

    You’re making the classic mistake of missing the forest for the trees.

    I am against anything that potentially causes pain, my primary issue with abortion is fetal pain and anguish, which means I’m against it for much the same reason as many people are against animal abuse.

    Fetuses certainly cannot feel pain before a certain threshold (usually given as at least 24 weeks), which is well into the pregnancy and well beyond the time that the vast majority of elective abortions are done. You also don’t seem to care about the pain of the mother.

    The fetus gains a heartbeat and brain function around day 40.

    Define “brain function” because the brain bulge is just forming around 40 days. it is quite a long time before we see any sort of brain functioning, and at no time do we see sentience.

  • Azkyroth

    So this is what you mean about not showing your cards. You should have just spat it out to start with. I don’t appreciate having my time wasted, you dishonest little weasel.

    Do you have the right to force someone to donate their kidney?

    Then you don’t have the right to force someone to donate her uterus.

    The only reason anyone even SUGGESTS making an exception for uteruses is because of patriarchal hatred and fear of female sexuality (IE, your disparagement of “freedom”). No matter what lies they tell themselves.

    Next!

    Also, saying men and women benefit equally from abortion rights is like saying that black and white people benefited equally from the end of slavery in the American South. …um, you at least know something about THAT at least, right?

  • Azkyroth

    If you’re not a first year student, then you really have no excuse at all for the pompous, disingenuous, labyrinthine style of argument you’ve adopted. I apologize for giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Izak Burger

    Well, perhaps that is the case in America. Neither me or any of my friends have anything against women. The most pro-life friend I have is a woman. She’s part of a pro-life organisation of which the majority of members are women. I suppose they’re all just brainwashed, too eager to fit in in a society awash with patriarchal hatred and fear of female sexuality.

    (I don’t buy it, it’s just a little too just-so. Here it’s the men who fight for abortion, and the women who fight against it).

  • Izak Burger

    What precisely is dishonest about what I did? Nobody forced you to reply to me, why are you upset about wasted time? It’s not like you lost the argument, is it?

    I had no intent of convincing anyone. GCT at least stayed civil, and I learned some things from him. You were offensive the entire time.

    I come from the country that gave the world apartheid. I actually experienced the system. I was lucky… I’m white. But my parents voted for the wrong political party, so I was ALWAYS called a “kaffer boetie” in school. I know about disagreeing with the status quo. And you know what… white people benefited when apartheid was abolished.

  • GCT

    Neither me or any of my friends have anything against women. The most pro-life friend I have is a woman. She’s part of a pro-life organisation of which the majority of members are women.

    LOL. I’m sure you have friends that are gay/black/etc. too. I’d say that seeking to hijack women’s bodies and force them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term indicates that you do have something against women.

    Secondly, it’s sad but true, people who are most hurt by the privilege in society sometimes try to defend that privilege that is hurting them. IOW, some gays, blacks, and women vote rethuglican as do poor people. Some atheists enforce religious privilege. And, yes, some women stand up for the patriarchy. That there are anti-choice women is lamentable, but not surprising.

    She’s part of a pro-life organisation of which the majority of members are women. I suppose they’re all just brainwashed, too eager to fit in in a society awash with patriarchal hatred and fear of female sexuality.

    A society awash with religious privilege and patriarchy, yes. It poisons minds and sometimes causes people to act against their own interests.

    I’ll note that you’ve completely ignored the fact that your timelines make no sense BTW. IOW, your stated reasons are simply wrong and non-sensical.

  • Azkyroth

    You don’t see why pretending to be neutral or disinterested or only arguing abstract points when you’re actually trying to advance a specific agenda is dishonest?

    I’m not sure I can help you, then.

    Of course white people benefited – that doesn’t mean it’s remotely equal. Removal of a moral hazard is in no way equivalent to removal of a denial of bodily autonomy, FFS.

    Also, you’ve asserted that an entire class of people should be denied the fundamental right of bodily autonomy because some of the ways they use it make you feel squicky. That’s a hell of a lot less “civil” than anything I’ve said, by any meaningful measure.

  • GCT

    I’m arguing that my life trumps your freedom, if you think about it.

    Then you don’t think it would be wrong for you to be forced to donate organs for someone else that needs them, right? Their life should trump your freedom after all.

    (For this reason, pro-choice has always been a silly euphemism. Anti-choice is even sillier. We are pro-abortion or anti-abortion, and that’s that really).

    Incorrect. Someone can be personally anti-abortion and still recognize that ze has no right to tell other people that they can’t avail themselves of the option. IOW, being pro-choice really is about allowing people to make their choices. Being anti-abortion is about telling everyone else that they should not have the choice to do what they want with their own bodies.

    I suppose there might be pro-life people who are pro-life only because they feel a certain way about women, but this is certainly not my experience. The other possibility, and certainly my own life philosophy, is that once we decide that life is more important, all the choices both men and women make from that point on recognises this fact.

    You mean human life and personhood, not just life. Sperm and egg are both alive. In order to make this argument, however, you have to determine that the woman’s life is subservient to the possibility of pregnancy and necessity of carrying to term. It devalues the actual lives of actually living persons.

    You conceded my point, that abortion is as much about men as it is about women rather early on.

    I did no such thing. I conceded that men can also benefit from abortions being safe and freely available. You seemed to be making the argument that somehow being anti-choice is not about controlling women because it also hurts men, and the corollary that men who support abortion rights are doing so because it helps them, which you somehow seemed to think helped your argument. It does not. That a good idea is supported by those that it helps (and it helps everyone) lends no support to the idea that those who oppose it do so for reasons other than what the data shows.

    My position is that neither a man or a woman really have the right to walk away from the new life they created (not if we take the position that life is more important), at least not without proper justification, and then always as equal partners.

    That’s great and all, but in the world we live that’s simply not true. Women are the ones who have to carry the fetus to term, along with the inherent dangers of giving birth up to and including diabetes, C-section surgeries, even death just to name a few. The risk is certainly not equal, especially since we all know the man can simply walk away while the woman is being forced to carry to term (if abortion is withheld from her – although we also know outlawing abortion doesn’t actually make it go away; only more dangerous).

    Once again, our position is that life is important enough not to deal with lightly, so that we are more picky about when, how and with who we have sex precisely because consenting to sex is also consenting to the risk of a pregnancy.

    Going outside can lead to one getting pneumonia. I guess next time that happens we should tell the person who has come down with pneumonia that they consented to it when they went outside knowing it was a possibility? No, consenting to sex is not consenting to pregnancy. The zygote/embryo/fetus is inhabiting a space within the woman and can only stay there with the ongoing consent of the woman involved.

    This once again applies to males as much as it applies to females, so nobody is forcing women to be prudes.

    This policy has not historically worked, so I have no idea why you think it would work today.

    (I don’t know how else to say this other than speak about stopping a very early beating heart. I’ve used other terms in the past and it always derails the conversation, so knowing as I do that the heart starts beating at 35 days, I’ll put it in this factual way).

    People who are brain dead can also have their heart continue to beat, so a beating heart hardly seems like a good place to draw the line. There’s more to being human than simply a heartbeat.

    But if it isn’t wrong, then men and women really benefit equally, and all this nonsense about it being a woman’s matter really should be laid to rest.

    That men gain some benefit does not necessarily entail that the benefit is equal to what women gain from their freedom to bodily autonomy. This is a non sequitur.

    If I can dispel the myth that we’re only out to hurt women, that’s enough for me.

    I’m still of the mind that the anti-choice position is fundamentally about punishing women for having unauthorized sex.

    It is important to me, because it derails the conversation, and it is quite frankly a false dichotomy: It’s not like the only options here are to either love women and agree with abortion, or to hate women and disagree with abortion.

    I’m not so sure you can call it false. How do you “love” women while simultaneously telling them they shouldn’t have equal rights?

  • Science Avenger

    “It feels like it is subjective to the nature of humanity and human consciousness which could be different in other worlds and makes morality not absolutely objective.”

    Of course it is, why would you think otherwise? Morality is not objective. Hume stands. Human morality depends on the nature of humans, and alien morality would depend on the nature of the aliens.

  • Izak Burger

    I admit that I did at one point use the word “equally”. That was a mistake. I stand corrected.

    The position I initially set out to contest was that being pro-life is exclusively about punishing women. I tried to do that by explaining that since both men and women stand to lose something if they lose access to abortion, both men and women would end up being punished.

    This “shared” loss does in no way have to be equal in order for my argument to succeed. I do however lose the argument if the INTENT of those who are anti-abortion is in fact aimed at women. I’ll just say that I am sceptical of generalisations like that. I find it hard to believe that every single pro-life man is exclusively out to hurt women. But I digress.

    Seeing as I now explained my blunder for letting the word “equally” slip in, I hope you will see that I also didn’t mean that white people benefited equally from the abolishing of apartheid or slavery. Once again, it is enough to acknowledge that some good came of it, even for white people.

    Lastly, let me apologise if I offended you in any way. I understand that my cautious approach might come across in the way you describe it, but can you blame me for being cautious and advancing my ideas slowly? I am rather amazed that you thought I had no agenda… why on earth would I disagree with you if I didn’t? Of course I initially kept the argument more abstract, I was attempting to establish common ground.

    I have been in enough debates to know that if you aren’t careful, you get jumped on ten to one by people who disagree with you. This is even more prevalent in atheist land… which if you look up at the title, is where I find myself today. So I did not mean to offend, I tried to avoid being jumped on. I’m beginning to wonder if that is even possible :-)

  • Science Avenger

    OMG, what a cesspool of stupid over there, “atheism is a religion”, and my favorite:

    “The fact is, one of us is right and the odds are 50/50 in either direction.”

    I guess I should buy a lottery ticket today, the odds are clearly 50/50 that I’ll win.

    It’s obvious now why she moderates so heavily. The commentators over there would get eaten alive if those from here were allowed to participate freely.

  • Izak Burger

    At the risk of this appearing like me running away from a good argument, one I started no less: It’s 12AM here and I didn’t get much sleep last night due to a certain 6-month old girl in the next room… so I need to keep this short.

    When I argue with pro-abortion people, it always seems like they are working backwards: They start with freedom (bodily autonomy, sexual liberation) and work logically backward, and arrive at the conclusion that abortion is necessary. They then correctly see that if abortion was tantamount to murder, it would travel down the entire chain of reason and destroy freedom. I think this reasoning is sound up to this point.

    Conversely, if we started with what we know about the life side of the equation, and here I would say: Just search for Alexander Tsiaras’ Video “From conception to Birth” on youtube to see what I mean. Then we will also correctly see that preserving all life, as much as possible, will place women at a certain disadvantage. We would correctly conclude that placing such a high value on life travels down the chain and potentially destroys equality.

    To me it is clear that the two objectives are completely at odds. I have to pick the one that is more important and deal with the consequences.

    This is where I ask about my own motivation. Why pick life? Why pick choice? And this is where it gets interesting. Popular opinion has it that if I pick life, that’s because I hate women. I don’t see how that follows. If I counter by saying: You guys just want freedom because you want to sleep around! Well… apparently that does not follow either.

    Motivation. That is the question. I’m not ready to give up on life yet.

  • Izak Burger

    I’d say that seeking to hijack women’s bodies and force them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term indicates that you do have something against women.

    And I’d agree with you! But you used a very helpful term there: Hijack. That is precisely something that I do not seek. Of course that has certain implications for me :-)

  • GCT

    When I argue with pro-abortion people, it always seems like they are working backwards: They start with freedom (bodily autonomy, sexual liberation) and work logically backward, and arrive at the conclusion that abortion is necessary.

    Because it is about bodily autonomy. Does someone have the right to take your kidney from you, sans consent, in order to ensure that another person lives? This has been put to you multiple times and you’ve yet to even acknowledge the point. Secondly, why are you so seemingly obsessed with “sexual liberation?” It’s almost like you’re really against that and want women to have to suffer the consequences of having sex.

    They then correctly see that if abortion was tantamount to murder, it would travel down the entire chain of reason and destroy freedom.

    Abortion is not murder. It simply isn’t. First off, in order to be murder, it has to be outlawed. Secondly, it’s not a human person that is dying. Lastly, the woman is simply not consenting to having her body violated. That the z/e/f cannot survive outside of her womb is secondary to that.

    We would correctly conclude that placing such a high value on life travels down the chain and potentially destroys equality.

    It’s not life that we should be worried about. Every time you scratch an itch, you kill life – life that has human DNA as well as bacterial life. Your sperm is alive, the egg is alive. If you’re really concerned with all life, then you should worry about every single sperm of yours.

    And, there’s no “potentially” about it. When you value a clump of non-sentient cells over the life and bodily autonomy of an actual human woman, there is no equality.

    To me it is clear that the two objectives are completely at odds. I have to pick the one that is more important and deal with the consequences.

    And, your stated basis for picking which one is more important has been destroyed. Yet, you persist in telling women that they shouldn’t have equal rights for no apparent reason.

    Popular opinion has it that if I pick life, that’s because I hate women.

    Because you aren’t picking “life.” You are no more pro-life than I. You’re picking the side that wants to see women have less equality than men. You’re picking the side that wants to tell women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. You’re picking the side that claims something magical happens when sperm meets egg that gives it more rights than a fully grown and sentient human being. You’re picking the side that shrugs its collective shoulders when a woman dies from childbirth or gets diabetes or is harmed in some other way – or even when the woman dies because of a pregnancy gone wrong with a non-viable fetus that just happens to still have a heartbeat because the doctors won’t perform an abortion to save her life even though the fetus has no chance to live.

    You don’t see how it might follow that telling women they deserve less rights and that they should suffer the consequences of “sexual liberation” doesn’t imply that you want to see women punished? That you hate women? What about the Xian who tells a gay person that they don’t hate the sinner, just the sin while at the same time supporting legislation that turns gays into second-class citizens? How is that situation any different?

  • GCT

    If the nature of aliens is such that they see no problem with slavery and they showed up on our planet and enslaved us, would that be moral?

  • GCT

    If you seek illegalization of abortion, then you do seek that. You would be telling a pregnant woman that her body is not hers to control. That is hijacking.

  • Science Avenger

    Indeed, I submitted two very reasonable and on-point comments and neither made it through the filter. So much for the truth setting you free.

  • Science Avenger

    “I dispute [that] it’s 100% about hurting women to punish them for having sex.”

    Well it sure as hell isn’t 100% about preventing the “murder” of fetuses, because if it were, pro-lifers would be all about birth control, and they are overwhelmingly against it. You’d think they consider sex outside marriage a greater offense than aborted fetuses the way they act. It’s as if they claim they are against emergency room surgeries from motorcycle accidents, but they fight tooth and nail against motorcycle helmets, because what they really want is for people to stop riding motorcycles.

  • Izak Burger

    No. I do not seek to hijack her body. In the light of the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, I therefore don’t sleep with women out of my safe zone (which for me means marriage, but to each his own). That’s the implications I was talking about. My high view of life means I have to keep it in my pants. To me it quite intuitively follows that an unwillingness to keep it in your pants could also be the motivation for having a certain opposing view of (some forms of) life.

    But I think the clearest realisation that has come to me over the past few days is this: For some reason the extreme position that being anti-abortion is because you want to oppress is never questioned. This is a generalisation, because many reasons are involved. But the opposing extreme generalisation, that men want abortion because they want more sex, that is vehemently denied.

    I think this this article actually explains it well (it’s not by someone I agree with):

    Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.

    It boggles the mind why people refuse to admit that this is a motivation, even if not the sole motivation. Allowing abortion is definitely not 100% about helping women, so why on earth should we accept that the contrary position is 100% about punishing her?

  • GCT

    No. I do not seek to hijack her body.

    Forcing a woman to carry to term is hijacking.

    In the light of the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, I therefore don’t sleep with women out of my safe zone (which for me means marriage, but to each his own). That’s the implications I was talking about. My high view of life means I have to keep it in my pants.

    You seem to have a high opinion of yourself.

    To me it quite intuitively follows that an unwillingness to keep it in your pants could also be the motivation for having a certain opposing view of (some forms of) life.

    So, those who oppose you are immoral sex-aholics?

    But I think the clearest realisation that has come to me over the past few days is this: For some reason the extreme position that being anti-abortion is because you want to oppress is never questioned.

    Because it is oppression. Telling women that they do not have bodily autonomy is oppression. Telling women that they had the sex, now they have to suffer the consequences is oppression. Telling women that you value the non-sentient glob of cells inside them more than you value the women carrying those cells is oppression. Telling women that you know what is better for them than they do is oppression.

    This is a generalisation, because many reasons are involved. But the opposing extreme generalisation, that men want abortion because they want more sex, that is vehemently denied.

    Maybe because some of us are realistic enough to know that simply because women have autonomy over their bodies doesn’t mean they will turn into raging sex fiends that continually try to jump on men’s penises.

    It boggles the mind why people refuse to admit that this is a motivation, even if not the sole motivation.

    Would it matter if it were for some delusional people? The fact of the matter is that it’s about equal rights. One group wants to ensure that women have equal rights, the other wants to ensure that they don’t.

    Allowing abortion is definitely not 100% about helping women, so why on earth should we accept that the contrary position is 100% about punishing her?

    This is a non sequitur. Just because there are varied reasons that people support equality does not mean that the opposition is therefore varied. The evidence does not support the idea that it’s about anything other than punishing women for having unauthorized sex.

    And, yes, it’s born of not liking women. One can claim that they love women as much as they want, but it doesn’t fly. You grew up with apartheid, correct? What would you think of someone who said, “I have nothing against blacks, but I just don’t think they deserve equal rights?” Would you take that person’s word that they love black people even though they are seeking to keep them as an underclass? I don’t think you would. I fail to see how that’s any different from claiming to love women but seeking to keep them as an underclass with less rights than men. It’s not love. Not even close.

  • Izak Burger

    I don’t think the analogy to apartheid works. There is no significant physical difference between a black and a white person (racists try to claim that there is of course). There is a however a massive physical difference between male and female.

    Women are blessed — or cursed perhaps — with the ability to fall pregnant. This places them in a vulnerable position. I will not contest this.

    One could argue that her ability to fall pregnant is a rather crucial and important resource for mankind: Without that, none of us would be here. We therefore need to take good care of women.

    One of those challenges in taking good care of women (as they take care of us!) is to treat them as equals, and this is harder than people think, precisely because we essentially have to compensate for the differences.

    I often liken this to a business relationship: If an engineer and an accountant start a business together and go in 50/50, they are equals. They are not drop-in replacements for each other though, and the accountant might have to let the engineer design the bridges and vice versa.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that we’re trying to make women be drop-in replacements for men. I think this is untenable.

    Essentially, you propose a means to get them out of the position. This in itself only improves the equality situation somewhat: They still have to go through the nasty abortion procedure, with the risks that goes with it (which may or may not be lower than carrying to term).

    You say that if I deny them the means to get out of that position, I’m being nasty. I’m arguing that the best way to treat women as equals is not to get them into that situation in the first place.

  • Izak Burger

    Besides, pregnancy is always temporary, whether it lasts six weeks or nine months. You might argue that you have restored her equality by cutting it short at 6 weeks. I don’t think you can ever restore what was lost there.

  • GCT

    I don’t think the analogy to apartheid works. There is no significant physical difference between a black and a white person (racists try to claim that there is of course). There is a however a massive physical difference between male and female.

    It works because it’s about rights. Are you seriously going to contend that the physical differences between men and women should give the state the right to strip away a woman’s right to bodily autonomy?

    One could argue that her ability to fall pregnant is a rather crucial and important resource for mankind: Without that, none of us would be here. We therefore need to take good care of women.

    Seems pretty clear that the best way to “take good care of women”* is by having an egalitarian society with equal rights and equal protections and not hijacking their bodies.

    One of those challenges in taking good care of women (as they take care of us!) is to treat them as equals, and this is harder than people think, precisely because we essentially have to compensate for the differences.

    Do you really think you’re treating women as equals when you push for them to have less rights than men?

    Sometimes I get the feeling that we’re trying to make women be drop-in replacements for men. I think this is untenable.

    From a rights perspective, there’s no reason why we should consider women to be any different from men.

    Essentially, you propose a means to get them out of the position.

    This rhetoric sounds an awful lot like punishing women for having unauthorized sex.

    Anyway, I’m not proposing a “means to get them out of the position.” I’m proposing equal rights. I’m proposing choice. Consent to sex is not tantamount to consent to pregnancy. I’ve said this numerous times and you continue to ignore it.

    This in itself only improves the equality situation somewhat: They still have to go through the nasty abortion procedure, with the risks that goes with it (which may or may not be lower than carrying to term).

    Women are more than capable of deciding for themselves which risks they are willing to take on in regards to the choice to consent to pregnancy or not*.

    I’m arguing that the best way to treat women as equals is not to get them into that situation in the first place.

    So, the solution is to not have sex with women unless you want to have a baby*? Women are sentient agents capable of making choices. And, surprise, some of them want to have sex that isn’t centered about procreation. It’s a human thing, and denying that is rather anti-human.

    Besides, pregnancy is always temporary, whether it lasts six weeks or nine months.

    I guess that means we should be able to take your kidney from you whether you consent or not in order to save someone else’s life, so long as we give it back at some point, right? It’s only temporary, right? Or, how about indentured servitude? That was only (supposedly) temporary too.

    * The asterisks I put in are all related, and I wanted to point out how condescending you sound towards women. Women are people too, people capable of making health care decisions that affect their own bodies, people capable of making choices about their own sexuality, people capable of thinking for themselves. They are not things that are there to be taken care of by men, to be told what to do and what to choose (or to have their choices taken away), or to be locked away until they are ready to be incubators for the human race.

  • Science Avenger

    I meant by “nature” the way we live and function, not that any opinion goes. For example, being mortal, we consider murder immoral. However, beings who were Dr. Who-like and able to regenerate and live again might not.

    Your question lacks the important qualifier “moral to whom?”. We consider slavery immoral basically because we all have a natural inclination to be free of that. It is viscerally revolting to us. But an alien race (say of a hive mind like ants) might indeed see nothing wrong with it. For us it is immoral. For them it isn’t.

  • Science Avenger

    Forcing them to pass and kidney stone the old fashioned way because sonic disrupters make Jesus cry?

  • GCT

    So, it would or would not be moral for hive mind aliens to come to our planet and enslave us?

    Not that far in our own history the “way we live[d] and function[ed]” was based on a slave economy. Was it moral then? If it was moral then, why would it not be moral now for us?

  • Science Avenger

    And an intellectual coward. What’s the point of a comments section if you are only going to allow comments that agree with you? Maybe she’s related to John Davison.

  • Izak Burger

    Do you really think you’re treating women as equals when you push for them to have less rights than men?

    You keep harping on rights. The relation between men and women is asymetric, women have “equipment” that us men don’t. What right does a man have that a woman doesn’t which is corrected by abortion? I’ve hinted towards the answer several times, and I’ve indicated that I don’t think a man has that right either.

    Of course it doesn’t work in practice, because quite frankly men are pigs, and it’s a little hard to legislate against that. I’m not so much arguing that the state should make laws about it. I’d like more parents to raise men.

    Consent to sex is not tantamount to consent to pregnancy. I’ve said this numerous times and you continue to ignore it.

    I did in fact answer it by disagreeing with it. Consent to sex does constitute consent to all the risks that goes with it, including pregnancy. A man and a woman may both agree that they don’t INTEND to have a pregnancy, but what happens after that is a real risk you cannot ignore.

    I mean to say, this isn’t like a contract where we can scratch out the clauses we don’t like, and both sign in the margin to indicate agreement.

  • Leeloo Dallas Multipass

    Being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is only a risk of sex if there’s a bunch of assholes forcing you to carry a pregnancy to term; said assholes do not get to pretend that this is something that just magically happens, like the morning dew.

  • Science Avenger

    “What right does a man have that a woman doesn’t which is corrected by abortion? ”

    The right not to give birth if they don’t want to. It just so happens that for a man this right comes at much less effort than for a woman, but that doesn’t make it any less of a right.

    “I’m not so much arguing that the state should make laws about it. I’d like more parents to raise men.”

    And I’d like it to rain beer and snow ice cream, but in the mean time, we need laws to address how I go about acquiring those things. Sitting around hoping people will become better parents (FTSOA) while ignoring the cost in the mean time is not reasonable.

    “Consent to sex does constitute consent to all the risks that goes with it, including pregnancy.”

    Yes, but then denying them the right to end the pregnancy, is akin to saying that consent to ride a motorcycle constitutes consent to the all the risks of injury that come with it, and then denying them entrance to the hospital to heal their wounds.

  • GCT

    You keep harping on rights. The relation between men and women is asymetric, women have “equipment” that us men don’t.

    I’m “harping on rights” because it’s a rights issue. That women have ovaries does not mean that they should not have the same right to bodily autonomy as men do.

    What right does a man have that a woman doesn’t which is corrected by abortion?

    Bodily autonomy. Just as someone can’t come and hijack parts of your body, no one should be allowed to do it to a woman’s body. Are you in favor of forced organ donation (a question you’ve yet to address)?

    I’ve hinted towards the answer several times, and I’ve indicated that I don’t think a man has that right either.

    Your “solution” I suppose is that men have to be men and be there for the child? Men are not put under the same risks as a woman giving birth. Period. It physically and permanently alters her body, and sometimes includes disfigurement and other issues up to and including death. You don’t get to enforce the chance of death on a woman who does not wish to take that risk.

    Of course it doesn’t work in practice, because quite frankly men are pigs, and it’s a little hard to legislate against that. I’m not so much arguing that the state should make laws about it. I’d like more parents to raise men.

    You do realize that sometimes married couples decide to get abortions, right? And, sometimes the “parents” are too young to actually care for a child, right? Etc. The patriarchal notion of raising “men” is out-dated and doesn’t offer any sort of sensible solution, especially to a case of unequal rights. Men are not being forced to give up their bodily autonomy.

    I did in fact answer it by disagreeing with it. Consent to sex does constitute consent to all the risks that goes with it, including pregnancy.

    And, if one pokes hard enough it always comes out. It IS about making sure that she pays the price for having sex.

    A man and a woman may both agree that they don’t INTEND to have a pregnancy, but what happens after that is a real risk you cannot ignore.

    It’s certainly one that can be treated. By your logic, I should be telling you that every time you go outside, you are open to the possibility of getting sick. Next time it happens, don’t you dare go to the doctor to get medicine for a condition that occurs when you knew the risks and took them anyway.

    I mean to say, this isn’t like a contract where we can scratch out the clauses we don’t like, and both sign in the margin to indicate agreement.

    If she does not consent to having her bodily autonomy violated, it doesn’t matter. No one has the right to use your body against your consent. That should be the case for women too, but you seem to think that women should not be granted the equal right to bodily autonomy. So far you’re rather short on reasons why, as all you want to do is talk about how if the woman has sex and gets pregnant, then she’s got to deal with the consequences and patriarchal men should be patriarchal men. You pointed to the fetal development and got a lot of it wrong, which I pointed out and you promptly ignored. When your reasons fall by the wayside and you end up focusing on making sure the women have babies when they get pregnant because, heavens to Betsy, they had sex, well it looks very much like the idea that anti-choicers are about punishing women for unauthorized sex is QFT.

  • Science Avenger

    It might be moral to them, it’s not moral to us.

    A lot of people thought it was moral then, thankfully most of us don’t now. You are asking me these questions as if I’m defending the notion of objective, universal morality. I’m arguing the opposite. The more fuzzy examples you propose, the stronger my case is.

  • Science Avenger

    A couple of quick questions for you Isak:

    #1 Do you agree that premarital sex that doesn’t result in a pregnancy is preferable to premarital sex that results in an abortion?

    #2 Do you support public financial support for and educational programs directed at birth control?

    If your answers are “yes” and “no” respectively, how do you reconcile the two? Because for me, if I thought abortion was murder, “yes” on #1 would lead directly to “yes” on #2.

    And on a trivial matter, how are ya’ll offsetting previous comments in your responses? Sure beats the apostrophes I’m using. Thanks.

  • GCT

    So, what changed. If slavery was moral then, why is it not moral now? The only thing that changed was societal attitude and our understanding of science. Does societal attitude drive what is or is not moral? If society collectively decided that slavery really is moral, would you agree?

    The reason I’m pushing on this is because we tend to agree that slavery is immoral, no matter how well supported it was in the past. Do you not think those people were wrong to think slavery was moral? Yet, I don’t see how you could defend such a stance. If you claim that it was moral, then you run into the problem above that a change in our present society could make slavery a moral position once again. If you claim that it wasn’t moral then, then we have to ask by what criteria are you basing that?

  • GCT

    Use the blockquote tag with less than and greater than signs around it. Use the forward slash blockquote to end your quote.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockquote_element

  • Science Avenger

    test

  • Science Avenger

    I’m assuming when you ask “what is moral” you mean to me, and that’s based on what I believe about humans mainly through science and introspection, and that isn’t going to change based on when or where I am. What is it I’m supposed to defend about that? That many people less scientifically equipped might think otherwise? So what? There is a lot in that category.

  • Izak Burger

    I suppose I was a bit slow in seeing where you were going with this, but I’m glad that it’s come to the issue of bodily autonomy. I actually think this is the only argument in the pro-abortion camp that carries some weight, specifically in the piano-player argument of Judith Jarvis Thompson (not sure about the spelling, typing from memory).

    The reason why the Piano-player argument is so powerful is because it can accomplish its goal while conceding the not only the life, but the personhood of the unborn.

    There is one problem with the piano-player argument, which is often not mentioned when it is advanced: In order to be analogous to 95% of the unwanted pregnancies out there, you also have to add that the donor was hooked up to the sick piano player with his own consent. The best analogy I can come up with is that maybe, while intoxicated, his friends convinced him that this arrangement would bring him fame and fortune, and that it is no more dangerous than a blood transfusion. Then the unthinkable happened, some or other complication and now he’s a life support system for the next 9 months.

    The question is whether this man, when he wakes up the next day and discovers himself hooked up to the sick piano player, has the right to re-assert his bodily autonomy, thereby killing the piano player.

    The Jarvis-Thompson argument argues that bodily autonomy is so important that yes, he absolutely has this right. Some have argued that he is allowed to “violently” assert his bodily autonomy.

    Personally I think that’s like inviting someone into my home, and shooting him in the head 15 minutes later because “this is private property” (if course I have to assume that the unborn is alive, like my now unwelcome guest is alive, which is beyond question to me and which of course you disagree with on some level).

    Some have also noted that the only analogous situation where you are not complicit in the situation, is rape. Perhaps this also helps explain why proposed laws sometimes have exclusions for rape.

    To change the topic slightly and go back to the issue of rights: You have to remember that pro-life people see abortion is being tantamount to murder, or at least highly immoral. When you assert that it is about rights, then unless you also assume that this contention to be false, you are essentially arguing for a woman to have the special right to kill her own child. So this takes me back to what I previously called the crux of the matter: whether the unborn is alive, human, and enough of a “person” (a somewhat vague term) to warrant protection. So you might think that I’m a bad person for denying that right, but I frankly think it’d be worse if I was a murderer.

    You are quite right though, as I’ve pointed out earlier, that this does go back to sex, what you call “unauthorised” sex. I’m not a complete simpleton, I realise that when you assign value to the life of the unborn, and we acknowledge the high number of unwanted unborns, then it has a direct effect on how we manage our sex lives. Then some “safe” sex essentially becomes authorised and “risky” sex becomes a no-no. This follows quite logically I think. But if we’re going to decide whether the unborn is alive, are we going to do it by looking objectively at WHAT the unborn is, or are we going to make the decision based on our preference for freedom?

    Believe me, it would be so much easier if I could just agree with you. But I cannot get past the clear undeniable objective scientific fact that the unborn is in fact a small human being from very early on. I could, if I had to give you the most “secular” answer I could come up with, draw a line in the sand and say: Now it is clearly human. The problem is just… that line in the sand is rather early, it’s somewhere between 6 to 12 weeks.

    As a bit of interesting extra information Americans might not be aware of:

    1. In South Africa, our abortion law restricts abortions after 12 weeks, but allows for abortions in cases of incest, disability and rape up to 18 weeks. This mirrors the laws in Europe, and is much more humane than the laws in many American states, at least in my opinion.

    2. Something else that might be of interest is the landmark case of state vs. Mshumpa. This is a case where a father tried to kill his unborn child a week before the scheduled C-section by arranging a staged robbery in which his girlfriend would get shot in the abdomen, and to avoid suspicion, for himself to get shot as well. Without going into the details, the state pushed hard for a murder-charge on account of the child, but because there is no law protecting the unborn (and likely will never be, because it could potentially be used against abortion), and because you cannot convict someone on a law that didn’t exist at the time of the crime, they could not do this. They had to be content with charges of attempted murder (based on dolus eventualis, because the hired murderer should have foreseen the consequences) and conspiracy, with a couple of unauthorised possession of ammunition and firearms thrown in.

    3. Since we touched on apartheid: Post-apartheid equality is an interesting beast which actually discriminates (justifiable one might argue) against white males. It not only seeks to treat people equally, but also to right past wrongs. This is another example of how a relationship is asymmetrical, and why perhaps my “right” to be treated equally (in terms of employment) might be subject to something else without that hurting the notion of equality, at least as defined here.

  • GCT

    I submit that “morality” then has no meaning as it’s synonymous with personal opinion. That’s now how we generally use the term, however. Also, if we are talking about moral systems, then your comments seem to not be applicable.

  • GCT

    The reason why the Piano-player argument is so powerful is because it can accomplish its goal while conceding the not only the life, but the personhood of the unborn.

    That may be true, but it’s hardly needed. There is no reason to value a clump of cells over a fully formed and sentient human woman.

    There is one problem with the piano-player argument, which is often not mentioned when it is advanced: In order to be analogous to 95% of the unwanted pregnancies out there, you also have to add that the donor was hooked up to the sick piano player with his own consent.

    IOW, it is about punishing women for having unauthorized sex. Oh, and as has been pointed out by multiple people now, we treat health conditions when they arise, even when people engage in activities that might lead to them.

    The question is whether this man, when he wakes up the next day and discovers himself hooked up to the sick piano player, has the right to re-assert his bodily autonomy, thereby killing the piano player.

    Do people have the right to take your kidney in order to survive?

    Personally I think that’s like inviting someone into my home, and shooting him in the head 15 minutes later because “this is private property” (if course I have to assume that the unborn is alive, like my now unwelcome guest is alive, which is beyond question to me and which of course you disagree with on some level).

    Not. Even. Close. The z/e/f is not invited. It’s also not a shot to the head, but closer to asking the guest to leave. Additionally, I agree 100% the z/e/f is alive – that’s never been a point of contention. It’s whether it has personhood and is deserving of more rights than the woman.

    To change the topic slightly and go back to the issue of rights: You have to remember that pro-life people see abortion is being tantamount to murder, or at least highly immoral.

    Except when you scratch the surface, they really don’t. But, even if we take it for granted that they do, they can’t put forth a coherent and consistent argument for why this is a person and why it constitutes “murder”. They also invariably see no problem with killing intruders, unless the intruder is inside a woman they wish to control.

    When you assert that it is about rights, then unless you also assume that this contention to be false, you are essentially arguing for a woman to have the special right to kill her own child.

    No. I’m arguing she has the right to bodily autonomy and to not be forced to keep another thing alive against her wishes, just as you can’t be forced to donate your organs to others against your wishes. But, please keep ignoring that.

    But if we’re going to decide whether the unborn is alive, are we going to do it by looking objectively at WHAT the unborn is, or are we going to make the decision based on our preference for freedom?

    It is alive. The question is whether it is a person. How will you look at it objectively? The best you’ve tried so far has been to claim that heartbeat = person, which is problematic.

    But I cannot get past the clear undeniable objective scientific fact that the unborn is in fact a small human being from very early on. I could, if I had to give you the most “secular” answer I could come up with, draw a line in the sand and say: Now it is clearly human. The problem is just… that line in the sand is rather early, it’s somewhere between 6 to 12 weeks.

    That’s absolute and utter bullshit. Science does not denote a point at which a developing fetus becomes a person. We can tell what the development milestones are, however. In fact, we know that pain doesn’t develop until the third trimester, not the 40 day mark as you earlier claimed.

    3. Since we touched on apartheid: Post-apartheid equality is an interesting beast which actually discriminates (justifiable one might argue) against white males. It not only seeks to treat people equally, but also to right past wrongs. This is another example of how a relationship is asymmetrical, and why perhaps my “right” to be treated equally (in terms of employment) might be subject to something else without that hurting the notion of equality, at least as defined here.

    I’m going to confess that I’m not up on the latest politics in SA, but this sounds like absolute and utter bullshit as well as white privilege.

  • Izak Burger

    Well, it’s been fun. I think I’ll just comment on this last item.

    I’m going to confess that I’m not up on the latest politics in SA, but this sounds like absolute and utter bullshit as well as white privilege.

    I think you meant to say it is Black Privilege. It has an official name here: BEE, or Black Economic Empowerment. I mentioned this only to illustrate that equality might be defined in ways that discriminate for what one might call the greater good. Really sucks to be a white male applying to study medicine when there are limited positions available, you read stories like that every day.

  • J_JamesM

    My word, get this woman into a Statistics class stat!

    Edit: damn it, I done punn’d again without realizing it.

  • Science Avenger

    It obviously has meaning or we wouldn’t be able to have this conversation. Morality is a set of rules or guidelines we use to live our lives, something we may have an opinion about, but its not opinion per se, any more than art is. My comments may not be applicable to religious moral systems, but they are certainly applicable to secular ones, which is obviously the perspective I’m coming from because I don’t think the religious ones are worth a damn.

  • GCT

    And, we base those rules on guidelines on what? On whim? On opinion? No. We base secular rules and guidelines on what works, on facts and evidence, etc.

  • GCT

    Yes, I’m sure it must suck to not be unquestionably on top of the food chain anymore based on being born to parents of the right color.

  • Izak Burger

    No, you misunderstand. I have no issue with the arrangement. I may have some issues with how it is being abused (a small elite of black people became very rich) but that is another matter. The point is that our definition of racial equality actually discriminates against an entire class of people, but for justifiable reasons.


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