Friday, June 14, 2019

Pacifism and abolitionism

It's been a while since I've commented on AHA, but as I noted in a recent Facebook discussion,  AHA has conflicting principles. The ultimate priority for abolitionists isn't to save babies but to preserve their imagined sense of moral purity. They regard incrementalism as ethically compromised. 

This means that when push come to shove, if the abolitionist strategy resulted in a thousandfold increase in abortions (or infanticides), abolitionists would continue to support it because their imagined sense of moral purity trumps saving babies. It's not about saving babies at all, but keeping their hands clean (as they define it). If incrementalism saved more babies than abolitionism, they'd opt for saving fewer babies or none at all, rather than saving more babies but getting dirt under their fingernails in the process. They will only save babies if they can keep their white gloves pristine. They sacrifice the lives of babies to preserve their puritanical scruples rather than sacrificing their puritanical scruples to save the lives of babies.

There's a direct parallel between pacifism and abolitionism. A pacifist deems it intrinsically wrong to take life to save life. He makes no distinction between the life of a murderer and the life of the murder victim. If he had a chance to shoot the sniper in the clock tower who's gunning down little kids in the park, he will let all the kids be shot to death because his priority isn't saving innocent lives but keeping his hands clean (as he defines it). He will dismiss arguments for the right of self-defense as "pragmatism," "consequentialism," "situation ethics," "moral relativism". He will categorically dismiss the lesser-evil principle or the end-justifies-the-means.

That's directly parallel to abolitionists, only their target isn't the right of self-defense, but incrementalism. Like the pacifist, they'd rather keep their hands clean (as they define it) than save innocent lives. 

7 comments:

  1. Oddly enough, I was just looking into this myself. Someone in an RB group wrote a book that seemed AHA-like, but the author denies it. Hard to say with limited descriptions:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/reformedbaptist/permalink/1857614521004779/

    That said, I noticed that the link to "Abolition of Reason" isn't working for me, just an FYI.

    Finally if it's not a big hassle, could you post a link to the FB discussion?

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    1. https://www.facebook.com/thegospelcoalition/posts/10155870678237723?__xts__[0]=68.ARAevzb-vNNW73z46jrnma-48X4YOHnHEvTVZPSw3IdRlAYotNmqZgT9YKkqKf217CbyB4lnoxD49XDN7QEFg5p8-F8Hex8UsiZXYAtUH46iDimlJhRe4yu0hTnhy9_pdnRXgfF_0-vx9c7ymnksEZut4hAoQVm5N_JHQALYDPMe5FIhnQ1XE2a3u0N8OOwmkdyBA7xUwi8g54Q6zKF8VAK60NlI2IxBwfmDhPCidQf7NdRic35LOaiIcRrcIRZbUkkwdOoDi09ZBQJmc2cHVfuE8H4mALLvuST0fHWSd_om3tTef0L1aAwlAWJ4hLNpD-GT0FtTpyc6IF3-Pw&__tn__=-R

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  2. Is it possible to reconcile the lesser-evil principle or the end-justifies-the-means with moral absolutes?

    In theory any action can be morally legitimate in a given circumstance.

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    1. Not all actions involve moral absolutes. We distinguish between intrinsically right or wrong actions, on the one hand, and actions whose permissibility are contingent on circumstances, on the other hand.

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    2. Yes, but assuming the lesser-evil principle or the end-justifies-the-means intrinsically right or wrong actions do not exist. Therefore, there are no moral absolutes.

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    3. No, that misses the point. The lesser-evil principle and the end-justifies-the-means don't apply in cases where the action is intrinsically prohibited. Rather, they only apply in cases where circumstances are a morally determinative consideration.

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