Thursday, August 11, 2011


But Pruss didn't "leave it at that!"  If one investigates the link provided by Mr. Hays they can see that Pruss indeed explained further:
“The other example is that of theodicy. God never causes an evil.  However, in order to draw a greater good out of it, He sometimes permits evils. The greatest and clearest example of this was the crucifixion. God did not cause Judas to betray Jesus and Pilate to condemn Him, but He permitted it, in order to bring a greater good out of it. It is essential to the way that sexual union as one body is constituted that while willing the union one not simultaneously unwill the end (reproduction) the biophysiological striving towards which constitutes the union. However, it is not necessary that one explicitly will this end, only that one not will anything contradictory to it. The implicit willing of the unitive meaning of the sexual act, in the absence of a contradictory willing, suffices to make the teleological striving that constitutes the union be a willed striving—and hence a striving of the person, and not merely of the body, thereby effecting a willed personal union.”
It is a bit disingenuous of Hays to say Pruss left it "at that."  Hays even quotes that Pruss says there are "at least two other examples" and then only quotes one of them - and has the audacity to accuse him of "leaving it at that."

i) As usual, this illustrates Scott Windsor’s chronic inability to follow an argument. When I said Pruss “left it at that,” what was I referring to? Was I referring to the fact that he didn’t give examples to illustrate his contention? No.

I spelled out what I was referring to. After saying “It’s odd that someone as astute as Pruss would leave it at that.” I immediately explained what I referring to. As I went on to say: “It’s of course true that the distinction between causing and permitting can sometimes be morally relevant or exculpatory. But it’s easy to come up with counterexamples where that distinction is morally irrelevant or culpable.”

Pruss’s two illustrations fail to distinguish between culpable permission and inculpable permission.  I then went on to give an example of culpable permission, to illustrate my point.

ii) Indeed, it’s ironic that Pruss would cite euthanasia as a case in point, since euthanasia can be permissive rather than casual.

For Pruss to make good on his argument, he’d need to do two things:

a) Distinguish culpable from inculpable permission;

b) Show how natural family planning is a case in inculpable rather than culpable permission.

ii) I also didn’t bother to discuss Pruss’s other example because that would involve me in an irrelevant digression.  But as a matter of fact, his example fails on its own terms.

a) God didn’t merely “permit” the Crucifixion. For one thing, God created Judas foreknowing that Judas would be instrumental in the Crucifixion. Therefore, God intended that result.

b) According to Acts 2:23 and 4:28, God predestined the Crucifixion.

Sorry, but ‘withholding medicine’ which is not an extra-ordinary means of keeping someone alive DOES CAUSE HER HUSBAND TO DIE!

Once again, Windsor can’t follow the argument. What he’s just done is to erase Pruss’s distinction between permission and causation. As Pruss defines it, causation involves a positive action to bring about the result whereas permission allows nature to take its course by refraining from intervention. The difference between action and inaction.

Windsor can redefine causation if he likes, but in that case he’s now in the counterproductive position of defending Pruss’s argument by repudiating Pruss’s argument.

Certainly ‘the cause’ is the underlying heart condition - but if one willfully withholds the medicine from another against his will - that would be murder.  A clearer example of this would be a mother refusing to feed her newborn infant... that is negligence and murder for the mother has caused the death of her baby.  No rational human being with any sense of charity or concern for the helpless/innocent would simply say the baby died of starvation and leave the mother's culpability out of the picture.

This is yet another example of Windsor’s chronic intellectual confusions. The question at issue, as Pruss framed the issue, isn’t murder, per se, but causation as a precondition of murder (or other culpable actions).

Sure, we may rightly say the mother in this hypothetical is culpable, but that doesn’t follow from Pruss’s distinction. To the contrary, that runs counter to Pruss’s distinction. As Pruss defines it, the mother didn’t “cause” the death of her baby.

Windsor can, of course, say that distinction is morally irrelevant, but the moment he does so he nullifies the very distinction that Pruss deployed to exculpate natural family planning.

Windsor is such a blunderbuss.

Clearly in The Little Foxes, Regina does kill her sickly husband by withholding his medicine, which IS Hays' point here - but the point Hays misses is the fact that "planning" to participate in "the marriage act" during infertile times is not the same as "doing it" during fertile times and then killing the seed by some chemical or physical barrier.

Windsor is asserting what he needs to prove. He fails to show how his distinction is morally germane to the issue at hand.

I'm sure that those who condone contraception believe this to be the case, but if the intent is contraception then the couple is in mortal sin.

Catholic couples who practice natural family planning do so with a contraceptive intent: their objective is to preempt conception.

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