Sunday, December 19, 2021

A case for government regulation



 We might ask the question of why we value human life as something valuable in itself, as opposed to the preservation of life as something that will sustain the overall balance of pleasure over pain. With animals, we consider animal pain to be something to avoid, but animal death is not taken as seriously, even by the likes of Peter Singer.

Strictly speaking, for utilitarians, life is not a value. If you kill someone, and you spare them or the world a pleasure-pain deficit, then it is a good act. If you kill someone, and it hurts the balance of pleasure over pain, then of course it's a bad thing.

so a pure utilitarian could say of the pro-life movement, "The trouble with your pro-life movement is that it places an inordinate value on human life." Someone from Utilitarianland might say "In our society, if there is a homicide, we calculate utilities to see if the homicide produced an overall benefit or an overall deficit. If we determine that the homicide was beneficial, we don't punish it. Why do you punish homicides without checking to see if the homicide maximized utility.

Of course the utilitarianism practiced in utilitarianland is Act Utilitarianism.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

We treat animals differently

We do seem to treat animals differently. We eat them, but some people think they ought to be slaughtered humanely. On the other hand, people who kill and eat other humans are not excused because the people were slaughtered humanely. 

Whoever quotes a movie in the combox will be summarily shot. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The hypocrisy fallacy

 (W)e live in an idiotic age where people believe that the alleged hypocrisy of a critic nullifies the merit of criticism. A parent who smokes is a hypocrite for telling his kid not to smoke—but that doesn’t mean the kid should therefore smoke.--

Jonah Goldberg. 


Monday, December 13, 2021

You play you pay? Probably a bad argument against abortion

 I've never thought the "you play, you pay" argument is very strong. In our male-dominant society men can push women into sex in various ways when they don't really want it, and then avoid responsibility. Some will object to this, but I'm convinced it hurt the pro-life cause to have a pro-life President who bragged about grabbing women by the you-know-what and has never officially repented of the sentiments he expressed on that tape. Whatever you think as a pro-lifer, you probably don't want to say that it is usually the woman's fault if she ends up with an unwanted pregnancy.

Is this the end of American Conservatism?

 David Brooks, a conservative, thinks conservatism is no longer recognizable today. 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Can we stop the slippery slope?

 Where assisted suicide is legal, insurance companies can use assisted suicide as an excuse for not paying for end-of-life treatment. I have trouble seeing how you stop the slippery slope from allowing assisted suicide to pushing people into using it in order not to be a burden.

Death with Dignity???

 Why is assisted suicide a death with dignity? What does dignity mean here, and does using it in this context fit with the ordinary use of the term? (Or is it just a piece of propaganda?)

Are there two kinds of marriage?

 Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.--C. S. Lewis 

Is there an argument for the legality of same-sex marriage along these lines? 

If assisted suicide is legalized, will vulnerable people be less protected

I can understand the case for legalizing assisted suicide. I can. But will suicide be put forward as the preferable option not to save those who are dying from suffering, but for the convenience of the rest of us? It is easy to imagine, for example, insurance companies refusing payment for end of life care because, well, you had the right to commit suicide, and if you don't avail yourself of that, we shouldn't have to make any more payments.

(My trust in insurance companies is extremely limited).

Margaret Battin did a study where she claimed that vulnerable persons are not at risk in assisted suicide. But not everyone is convinced.

Friday, December 10, 2021

The central pro-life argument

The central prolife argument is that abortion is homicide--that the differences between fetuses and those already born are not substantial enough to justify treating those born and those unborn differently with respect to protecting their lives. With those already born, you may be greatly burdened by allowing someone to live, but you still can't kill them expect under special circumstances.

If you believe in the right to abortion, that is the argument you have to come to terms with, first and foremost. Arguments about whether, for example, women get depressed who choose abortion, or whether abortion leads to a higher instance of breast cancer, are secondary.

Ross Douthat's Anti-Abortion Case


Believe it or not, this was published in the eeevil New York Times. 

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

A house divided

 Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

Can we endure half pro-life and half pro-choice? 

Does it make sense for states to determine abortion law? Can we tolerate that level of division?