Sunday, December 04, 2016

A Counterintuitive Answer

From Scott Klusendorf's The Vanishing Pro-Life  Apologist. 

Put differently; is there any reasonable person in America today who would argue that while he personally opposed the enslavement of blacks, he wouldn’t oppose the legal right of his neighbor to own one if he so chose? In fact, when people tell me they personally oppose abortion but think it should be legal anyway, I ask a simple question to audit their core beliefs about the unborn. I ask why they personally oppose abortion. Nearly always, the response is, “I oppose it because it kills a baby,” at which point I merely repeat their own words. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight: You say you oppose abortion because it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies?”

But how does a pro-life apologist answer a straightforward "yes" here. Yes, it's wrong to kill babies, yes, it's equally wrong to make laws against killing babies under these circumstances.

Does the prolife apologist have anything more than intuition here?

14 comments:

Steve Lovell said...

I'm opposed to abortion, and find myself with very mixed feelings about what the legal situation should be.

My issue with making it illegal is roughly that I know my reasons for thinking abortion is "baby killing" are strongly rooted in my Christian beliefs and that most of those under the same legal jurisdiction as me don't share those beliefs. The laws we pass should be ones we can support with reasons which reply on assumptions that non-Christians can be expected accept ... and I'm not sure that's the case here. Are there good pro-life arguments which a secular mind should accept?

Still, as I say, this is uncomfortable ... and I doubt my ability to think objectively about this.

As an aside, what I do find utterly inconsistent is the myriad of people who will campaign for animal rights or adopt vegetarianism on (alleged) ethical grounds but then not see anything wrong with abortion. To me that's simply crazy.

John Moore said...

It's not a matter of morality, but practicality. Everyone knows abortion is bad, but what should we do about it?

Back in 1860, many people personally opposed the enslavement of blacks, but they feared it would take a devastating war and over half a million deaths in order to pass a law against slavery, so that gave them pause. With hindsight we know that the law against slavery was just barely the start, and even today, 150 years later, black people still are not treated as full equals in society.

So for abortion too - passing a law is a mere drop in the bucket. The real challenge is to make people actually stop having abortions. The pro-Life movement hasn't even started thinking about this because they're so blinkered in their focus on passing a crummy law.

Joe Hinman said...

Put differently; is there any reasonable person in America today who would argue that while he personally opposed the enslavement of blacks, he wouldn’t oppose the legal right of his neighbor to own one if he so chose?

these two issues are not analogous. To allow someone to own a human is to support slavery, Those are the same thing,(by definition). To allow abortion is not necessarily "baby killing." that is under dispute,



In fact, when people tell me they personally oppose abortion but think it should be legal anyway, I ask a simple question to audit their core beliefs about the unborn.


personally oppose abortion but think it should be legal anyway is a contradistinction but a position on pro choice is not. We could redefine the issue,l let's say negating the like of a human person is wrong in some sense but but only in case of late in the 4th trimester is it clearly killing a human being, thus first trimester abortion is not necessarily killing a baby, The issue is one of the other's right to choose since her body is the delivery system.

I ask why they personally oppose abortion. Nearly always, the response is, “I oppose it because it kills a baby,” at which point I merely repeat their own words. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight: You say you oppose abortion because it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies?”


I don't I oppose abortion,I say I oppose last trimester abortion and I advocate RU486; but Oppose lastvtrimester abortion the latter the tgerm the closer the fetus will be to personhood, there are medical developmental reasons for choosing the last trimester to draw the line,

Dave Duffy said...

Good Grief, you took one paragraph out of that long argument and ask if there is anything more than intuition?

SteveK said...

Good grief, is a good response. Ugh, is another.

Jo F said...

Not really sure what you're getting at, Dr. Reppert. I don't hang on to "intuition" in determining whether abortion is right or wrong--that suggests moral relativism. Rather, it is a *truth claim* being made when I say "the fetus is in fact alive and human". As with you "SLEDGE" post, I fail to see how any argument could succeed in showing that there is a better way to define life than upon conception, whereby a new and distinct individual is created from its parents. "Size," "Development," etc....are all arbitrary and necessitate a lack of consistency: if a person is only human when he becomes self-aware, then does this mean sleeping people are not human? Perhaps the abortionist will object, "it is upon the first time they gain cognition," to which I reply, "what of those mentally damaged that have never surpassed the 'sentience' of a fetus?" It seems so arbitrary, to me, to deny a person's intrinsic worth as a human being just for size or number of inches from the outside world or whatever.

"I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born." ~Ronald Reagan

If we are willing to go to such an extreme to murder children, then we should be willing to go to every prior effort to avoid the demand for abortion altogether. It is nothing short of the genocide of a race of beings who are being denied their humanity, as were the US's african american labor slaves. This is a human-rights issue and, in the very least, we should postpone *all* abortions until the person in question (the fetus yet to be born/aborted) has been born and can have their say on the matter, seeing as this is a tricky issue and they certainly deserve a word with their life being on the line.

Dr. Alexander Pruss of Baylor University wrote a paper on this (http://uffl.org/vol12/pruss12.pdf) that I think will help you understand where I'm coming from.

"The pro-Life movement hasn't even started thinking about this because they're so blinkered in their focus on passing a crummy law."
This is apathetic. Every step closer to saving their lives counts.

"I don't I oppose abortion,I say I oppose last trimester abortion and I advocate RU486"
I take it you've decided to re-define life to apply only to fetuses that happen to resemble a born baby?

Victor Reppert said...

Here is the thesis in question: "All homicides without moral justification should be penalized criminally." I am asking what, if anything is wrong with the statement "Abortion is murder, but we shouldn't legislate against it." I know someone who held this position, he was an anarchist who thought government should not exist. But apart from anarchism, is this obviously wrong? Too many things slip by in philosophy with an "it's obvious."

On this view abortion is very morally wrong, and we ought to do our best to persuade others not to do it. But legal coercion does more harm than good.

So far as I can tell, the Bible tells us what is wrong, but, apart from the Jewish people, it tells us nothing about what the government should do.

Mr. Green said...

Victor Reppert: Too many things slip by in philosophy with an "it's obvious."

Well, sometimes people try to claim a thing is obvious when actually it isn't. But of course some things really are obvious. It would be foolish to reject "1+1=2" as a premise without regurgitating Russel & Whitehead first, because 1+1=2 is obvious. Are you claiming that "murder should be illegal" is not obvious? In which case do you have any sort of argument to back up such an extraordinary claim?


But legal coercion does more harm than good.

You mean because of the way that the number of aborted babies went down so much when abortion was legalised?

Legion of Logic said...

"My issue with making it illegal is roughly that I know my reasons for thinking abortion is "baby killing" are strongly rooted in my Christian beliefs and that most of those under the same legal jurisdiction as me don't share those beliefs."

I find that interesting, since my very anti-abortion stance is rooted in basic biological fact - a human life begins when the first cell of its body is created. To attempt to define when a human life begins as any other point of development is the same problem that VR's question ("I am asking what, if anything is wrong with the statement "Abortion is murder, but we shouldn't legislate against it.") runs into - the arbitrary nature of such a position.

If abortion is murder, then why does it not carry the same penalty as murder? Does not punishing abortion as murder mean that some types of murder should not be penalized? If so, what are the conditions in which murder should not be penalized, and why?

It's this same arbitrary nature we find in attempts to define human life as beginning at any point other than the first cell - what is it about THAT point that makes an organism a human life, and why?

Joe Hinman said...

If we are willing to go to such an extreme to murder children, then we should be willing to go to every prior effort to avoid the demand for abortion altogether. It is nothing short of the genocide of a race of beings who are being denied their humanity, as were the US's african american labor slaves. This is a human-rights issue and, in the very least, we should postpone *all* abortions until the person in question (the fetus yet to be born/aborted) has been born and can have their say on the matter, seeing as this is a tricky issue and they certainly deserve a word with their life being on the line.



slippery slope fallacy, 'to fundies women have no rights and no say in anything they are just baby luanching machines,'that is denying human rights. Pro choice does not say fetus is not human but it's a question of when it becomes a autonomous being, it's autonomous when it;s cncived and not when it;s fertilized.

RU486 does not kill if its done at the right time, So that would solve the whole issue. The right wing really doesn't want to solve the issue because it keeps the churches working for them

Victor Reppert said...

Legion: But the issue of penalty is exactly where the prolife movement isn't fully consistent. Trump got in trouble with the leadership in the prolife movement because he talked about some punishment for women who get abortions. But even he didn't suggest that women who get abortions should get the same penalty as women who kill their infants, namely, they are at risk for life prison sentences or even the death penalty. He just said some penalty. So the pro-life movement has backed off to a less consistent, but more humane position on this. But prolife logic taken to its logical conclusion does not allow us to be so humane.

Ilíon said...

VR: "But prolife logic taken to its logical conclusion does not allow us to be so humane."

LOL ... you so funny!

The Guardian French MPs vote to ban abortion websites that intimidate [sic] women

As I keep pointing out -- There is *always* a god of the system

Steve Lovell said...

Legion,

You write as though you aren't at all familiar with the concept of vagueness. On an metaphysic which doesn't take seriously the idea of "natural kinds" (except possibly at the level of fundamental physics), I don't see why it should be thought problematic not to be able to name an non-arbitrary point where the "fetus" becomes a "person".

Moveover, if push comes to shove, there would be no incoherence in an atheist just saying that what matters is sentience, including the ability to feel pain. And that (obviously?) isn't there at the point of conception.

So while you say your view is based on biology, I don't think you can read your conclusions off that biology without some kind of interpretive framework.

Now one also runs into logical issues if one believes that the person comes into existence at conception. At that point it is still possible for the fertilised egg to split leading to the birth of twins. Now clearly such twins are not numerically identical to one-another (they are two people, not one person), so which if either of them would be identical to the person who existed at the point of conception? They can't both be, since then by the transitivity of identity they would be identical to one-another, which isn't the case. But then why would it be one and not the other? Surely we have to say neither of them is the identical to who/what came into existence at the moment of conception. But in that case either there was no person in existence at the moment of conception or that person has ceased to exist. The latter seems conceptually weirder than the former.

There is presumably literature about this problem (it relates to Parfit's material on identity and "survival", but that's normally raised in relation to metaphysics and the philosophy of mind rather than in relation to ethics).

I'm no expert on this, so I'm happy to be told what's wrong with any or all of the above ... but (as things stand) it doesn't seem to be just nonsense, which (I think) is what you'd need to show to undermine my original post.

Chad Handley said...

There could be practical reasons. If abortion was made illegal in America tomorrow, millions of women would still seek abortions of the back alley variety. It's possible just as many unborn would be aborted, and tens of thousands of women would die given improper care. The net result could be that more people die of abortions (both women and the unborn) than would if abortion were legal.

I don't have time to find it, but I once read an article that stated that many of the countries in which abortion is illegal have the highest abortion rates. How do they know that? From the staggering number of women who come to hospitals to be treated for botched abortions.