Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some "Moore" on Abortion

Since we've been dealing with abortion as of late...

Scientist Zach Moore opted to step outside his area of expertise and engage Craig Sowder in the abortion debate.

Moore said he wanted abortions, in a "perfect world," safe, rare, and legal. Craig wondered, "Why rare?"

"The rarity I would like to see for these procedures isn't inspired by any intrinsic immorality, but because it's such a difficult choice for women"
Why have a "perfect world" where abortions are rare do to the above rather than one where the "difficulty" of the choice is eliminated?

Moore's done nothing to non-arbitrarily answer Craig. He simply announces what would and wouldn't comprise a "optimal world". But it's subjective. One could get rid of the angst, in the perfect world, and solve the problem that way.

Furthermore, perhaps women should be educated. Why is there angst? They don't have the same angst when "departing" with unsightly moles. Indeed, one could argue that the angst is a holdover from theistic beliefs about the womb and conception. We need to educate the masses. And of course Moore's perfect world would have educated people, people with no holdovers from the ancient, dark times of man's history.

So, why rare?

Next, Moore asserted that all humans, and by implication, women, have complete autonomy over their body, and can do whatever they want with it or any entity residing in it. So Craig rightly wondered if Moore's position entailed that claim that "You shall not murder," as admitting of exceptions.

"Yes, if someone could prove to me that a fetus is a person, then I would still agree that a woman's personal sovereignty takes moral precedence."
So, Moore thinks "personhood" (or, if he will, humanity) doesn't matter for his argument. I beg to differ, for more than one reason:

First, it's not true that all humans have sovereignty over their body and can do what they will with it making what they do ethically okay. They can't (well, shouldn't) strap bombs to it and run into occupied office buildings. Of course, Moore may say that their sovereignty stops just at that point where they are hindering another human's sovereignty over his or her body not to be blown to bits. But of course, as should be obvious, this response rather removes the teeth from his entire position. Indeed, Moore's (radical) libertarianism is undercut since he is now forced to add that some humans (the fetuses) do not have sovereignty over their bodies! It looks like special pleading to dismiss, out of hand, the fetus's sovereignty. Moore just can't think far enough to consider the logic of the case.

Second, Moore basis rights on accidental features of the world, i.e., a person's location. Of course it's completely arbitrary to simply announce that one's location determines whether he has any right to life. Moore's placing the location in the womb is no more arbitrary than Hitler placing the location somewhere in the Middle East. In fact, as almost all ethicists will tell you, morally irrelevant facts shouldn't factor into moral principles. That's one reason why racism is ethically backwoods. It take a non-moral fact, skin color, and tries to make it a basis for moral facts. Skin color, location, size, level of development, etc., are morally irrelevant to questions of morality.

Third, another thing Craig might want to ask, it seems that not only do we have exceptions to murder, but sometimes parents don't have obligations toward their young children. Since we're dealing with a mother taking the life of her child, we have another moral consideration in play. Do we have exceptions here, too?

Fourth, as Moore should know, we can achieve conception in a Petri dish, soon we will be able to bring a child forth that spent all three trimesters in an artificial womb. Assume that Moore doesn't hold to "Petri dish sovereignty," would he then say (remembering that we assuming the humanity of the fetus since it supposedly "doesn't matter either way" for Moore's argument) that no one can kill these babies? What will happen to Moore's support for stem cell research, then?

Moore tries to give an argument from parity, claiming that even Craig believes it morally acceptable commit premeditated murder, to take the life of an innocent person outside of a context war, and usually for the sole purpose that it is believed killing said innocent human will make one's life easier; whether economically, psychologically, or socially.

"Yes, this means that the premeditated taking of human life is ethical under certain conditions. The "Trolley Problem" is a common example, and most people will take a life in that situation."
And of course this is totally disanalogous. The "Trolley Problem" is what's known as an "ethical dilemma" because either way you go, you end up killing people. It's a forced moral decision. It's also not proper to call the decision of the switch-thrower as committing a premeditated taking of innocent life, or, more properly, premeditated murder.

One quick source, Wiki, tells us:


Premeditation, frequently referred to in the vernacular with the term "in cold blood", is contemplation of acting out an intended crime, thinking about, planning, or plotting a crime beforehand[1] and not in a moment of duress[2] or imminent danger.[3] The amount of time necessary between planning and the act to prove premeditation...cannot be arbitrarily fixed.[4] Premeditation in the context of murder describes actions which were planned prior to their being executed. The establishment of premeditation in homicide generally carries with it the inability to argue innocence by cause of insanity.


So Moore's case is just another irrational attempt to justify the obviously wrong.

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