Thursday, April 29, 2021

Abortion and stigma

 Supporters of abortion are concerned about women being stigmatized for getting abortions. I wonder if women who refuse abortions and have children under difficult circumstances now run the risk of being themselves stigmatized, i. e., women who choose to carry Down's Syndrome babies to term.

Quite apart from pro-choice, there is a pro-abortion movement that really does encourage people to get abortions. I think pro-lifers put too much emphasis on winning a political battle over abortion laws and even abortion funding. The real abortion battle takes place in the minds and hearts of women making choices about difficult pregnancies. I think the mainstream position at Planned Parenthood is to push the idea that women should never be stigmatized for getting an abortion. In this way they minimize the serious moral decision that has to be made, and I think it's going to have the effect of stigmatizing people who DON'T get abortions when other people think they should. "Well, you had a choice. You knew this was going to be difficult. Why do you go ahead and have the baby?"

This article, by a pro-choice philosopher, illustrates the problem.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

What would happen if you vaporized Planned Parenthood?

 Planned Parenthood does more than abort babies. If you defunded it, or vaporized it, would the abortion rate go up or down? I think Hillary Clinton talked about a county in Texas the defunded Planned Parenthood, and the abortion rate went up. 

Of course, these consequential issues remind me of another question. Is the point of murder laws to prevent murder? What if we lived in a possible world in which murder laws actually resulted in there being more murders than there would otherwise be. Should murder be illegal if that were true? 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

A debate on the argument from reason

 Between Max Baker-Hytch and the Cosmic Skeptic. 


Friday, April 09, 2021

Chesterton on determinism may say, if you like, that the bold determinist speculator is free to disbelieve in the reality of the will. But it is a much more massive and important fact that he is not free to raise, to curse, to thank, to justify, to urge, to punish, to resist temptations, to incite mobs, to make New Year resolutions, to pardon sinners, to rebuke tyrants, or even to say "thank you" for the mustard.

Orthodoxy CW1:228

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

J. R. Lucas on the Philosophical Climate at Oxford

 The philosophical climate in which I grew up in Oxford was one of extreme aridity. The ability not to be convinced was the most powerful part of a young Philosopher’s armory: a competent tutor could disbelieve any proposition, no matter how true it was, and the more sophisticated could not even understand the meaning of what was being asserted. In consequence, concern was concentrated on the basic questions of epistemology almost to the exclusion of other questions of larger import but less easy to argue in black and white terms. The undergraduate who wanted to write essays on the meaning of existence was told to confine himself to the logical grammar of ‘is,’ and was not even allowed to ask what truth was, or how one ought to live one’s life.

Lucas, J.R. (1976), Freedom and Grace, London: SPCK, ix. 

Lucas passed away a year ago yesterday. 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

The least needed Lewis book?

 For Easter.

Christopher Derrick wrote: "Of all C. S. Lewis's books, I suggest the one the world needed least is Miracles." I find this statement strange. Miracles seems to be aimed not at the philosophical community, but at lay people trying to deal with modern biblical scholarship. There you find people committed to evaluating miracle claims with an explicit (in the case of Rudolf Bultmann), or an implicit methodological naturalism, and given the fact that Christianity is founded at its core on certain miracle claims being the case, Lewis, responding to a suggestion by Dorothy Sayers, was making a case against evaluating biblical accounts with a bias against the supernatural. The argument against naturalism fits in in that he is arguing that even the reasoning processes we use to reason about matters such as the miracle claims in Scripture presuppose the falsity of what would eventually be known as the causal closure of the physical, so why assume closure in biblical studies? This is an ongoing issue in biblical studies, and is has come up in Derrick’s Catholic Church, so I find Derrick’s remarks puzzling. However, the argument is also of considerable interest from the standpoint of philosophy, given the widespread presumption of materialism or naturalism in the philosophy of mind.

Lewis on retribution, revenge, and mercy

 For Lewis punishment is about retribution,  which is different from revenge. Revenge is not limited by what someone deserves, and typically when people take revenge, the do more to them than what they did to the other person. When you give someone what they deserve, you can't hurt them more than they deserve, and Lewis is open to saying that courts can be merciful and, for a good reason, give people less than they deserve. 

See here. 

Two Australian penologists responded, here, as did Australian philosopher J. J. C. Smart, here, who in spite of famously becoming an act utilitarian, seems to have been a rule utilitarian at this point. Lewis responded here. 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Materialism and determinism

If we are simply material beings, aren't our actions determined by the laws of  physics? Particles in the brain are governed by the laws of physics, and if this is so, doesn't that mean that the brain is determined by the laws of physics?