Thursday, April 29, 2010

Objectivity and Contradiction

One way of testing whether something is objective is whether the law of noncontradiction applies to it. For example, if I say "The cat is on the mat" and you say "the cat is not on the mat:, once we figure out which cat and which mat, only one of us can be right, and the other has to be wrong. However if I say "McDonalds has better burgers than BK," and you say "No, BK's are better," we haven't really contradicted one another, because each is making truthful claims aboout our own taste buds. We can't apply the law of non-contradiction.

What about

"Abortion is always wrong, except in cases where the mother's life is in danger."

If one person asserts that, and the other denies it, does one person have to be wrong? Can we apply the law of non-contradicion?


Dan Lower said...

It seems like we can if we have a common agreed definition of what cases are considered to be 'life in danger' situations.

Mark Frank said...

How about we ar going out to eat together and you say "McDonalds has better burgers than BK," and I say "No, BK's are better,". Suddenly it looks like a contradiction. Moral issues are tied to action.

Shackleman said...

"Killing *wholly* _innocent_ and defenseless people is always wrong except in cases of self defense".

That's probably uncontroversially objectively true.

The trouble with abortion is in the controversy over what exactly a fetus is.

If we all agreed that a fetus is a "person" then there wouldn't be much controversy. Perhaps cases of rape and incest would be the only stumbling blocks?

Victor Reppert said...

Actually that gets tricky, because some would argue that there are cases of justifiable homicide that involve the killing of innocent and defenseless people. You have the whole Thomson bit where you have the right to withdraw your life support from someone who depends upon it, in order to exercise your personal freedom, even if it results in the death of an innocent person.

And then there's the guy that wrote this:

1. I'm entitled to kill anything, and anyone, which is located inside my body, no matter what or who it is. If all the people in the whole world--innocent and guilty, unborn and already-born, great and small, rich and poor, smart and stupid--were assembled somewhere inside my body, along with Baby Jesus, Almighty God, and The Flying Spaghetti Monster, then I'd be entitled to holocaust 'em at will. That's part of the meaning of the word "my" in the phrase "my body".

M. C. Evers said...

Seems like whoever made that statement doesn't understand the absolute nature of the word "always." I think if someone wants to state a position like that (and I am looking at this from a detached standpoint without moral judgment for the purposes of your question), they need to modify the statement to say that "The life of the mother is to be favored ahead of the life of the fetus," because that's what's really going on here.

To state that abortion is wrong except for the case where the mother's life is at risk is relies upon the assumption that an unborn child's life is of inherently lesser worth than that of an adult--or that of a child that has been born. It comes dangerously close to the ridiculousness of something like the 3/5ths Rule.

And while I realize this is a VERY big statement of me to make when I have not yet had is the implications of this reasoning that would make it very, very hard for me to get an abortion even if I were raped, or had complications from the pregnancy that put my life in danger.