Right Meets Left

Two posts. First, Richard Chappell notes:

Some people judge that homosexuality is immoral, because they find it intuitively repugnant. They must also be aware that a few short decades ago people thought that interracial sex was immoral, on the same basis. This suggests that such intuitions provide a very flimsy basis for discrimination. Indeed, I find it completely baffling that homophobic conservatives fail to realize that they are the modern day equivalent of yesterday’s racist conservatives. Why are they not humbled by history? What makes them think that their disgust-based moral intuitions are any more reliable than their grandparents’ were?

There are two aspects to this, one fairly trivial. Mr Chappell goes from “Some people judge … because” to “homophobic conservatives fail … equivalent of yesterdays racist conservatives”. The “some people” goes from an adjectival description that (rightly) describes a small minority, while on the other hand to my reading “homophobic conservatives” is less likely to read as an even smaller subset (those in the “some people” category of before who are also conservative) to a notion that of a notion tarring essentially all conservatives as homophobic.

In the comment trail, Brandon argues for repugnance as a basis for other issues such as incest, which Mr Chappell finds acceptable.  I offer two alternative tests:

 Consider abmnemnopaedophilia, that is hiring young children (from poor family backgrounds) so that one might apply a drug which prevents the creation of long-term memory and then “use them” for the purposes of sexual enjoyment. That is, paying a family to give up their child for a night’s “entertainment” (with material renumeration) along with the application of a drug which prevents the child from having any memory (the next day) of nights events. This, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, should have no issue. That is, no lasting or measurable harm is done, the paedophile gets his “reward”, and the family gets some much needed financial assistance. It would seem that the primary argument against is repugnance (or perhaps virtue ethics).

Consider also the following sort of slave trafficking. In this sort of traffic young orphan girls from third world cities, who have been captured by street elements and sold locally into brothels might then re-acquired into first world, say European or American brothels. In those brothels, these girls are still sexual chattel … but they get better clothes, better food, work more reasonable hours and have a substantially improved lifespan and as well, the third world nation gets an influx of captial. Again a utilitarian can offer no complaint.

I would argue that both of these situations are “intuitively repugnant.” As well, one might be able to hoist reasoned arguments why they are bad, however there also utilitarian reasons why they are “good.” However one might ask those who would support either of the two test cases, “Why are you not humbled by history?” Why do you think your utility-based moral intuitions are reliable? Perhaps instead of proving a reason to doubt “repugnance” might we find instead utility a flimsy basis for ethical decision-making.
Mr Schraub asks:

A new ad out tries to force McCain into that question pro-lifers never want to answer: if abortion should be a crime, how much time should women who have them serve?

[…]

I’ve yet to hear a coherent justification (at least, one that isn’t nakedly paternalistic — e.g., women are irrational creatures controlled by their emotions, so they can’t be punished) for why abortion can be outlawed (as murder), but the murderers should get off scot-free. I suppose if someone doesn’t think abortion is murder, but still can come up with a reason for it to barred, they could dodge out of this, but the few arguments I’ve heard on those lines are also pretty paternalistic (it’s a serious decision, and we can’t know if you’re taking it seriously enough unless you’re willing to prove it somehow to the state).

A counter question that “pro-abortion proponents” never want to answer (or offer coherent justification) for is why they are for regulation (are paternalistic?) on virtually every other phase of life/issue, e.g., gun ownership, seat belts, hay rides, retirement, school regulation, and so on …  but when it comes to killing the fetus brook no regulation or oversight at all. Paternalism per se is not a thing from which the left shirks … except in the case of abortion. The “pro-abortion” proponents also fail to offer “a coherent justification” for the notion that the pater, i.e., father, has any rights at all in this matter, which is unfortunate.
Now, the argument for regulation of abortion that I’ve made is not, I think, paternalistic (that is based on the idea that the state is wise but women are “irrational creatures”) but motivated instead by the idea that virtue is the path to happiness and that providing an environment in which virtue can flourish is one of the primary ends of the state. My argument was not singling out young women by any means, but was based on the notion that every serious ethical personal decision that affects society, i.e., marriage, divorce, abortion, and end-of-life issues might rightly be confronted by methods in the public square so that the society might be assured that the person(s) involved recognize that a serious ethical decision is being made. Men or women considering marriage often declaim they would climb any mountain or brave any raging torrent to be with their beloved. Aboriginal American cultures often had such barriers, fasting, vision-quest, or other feats to overcome which one might argue served this purpose. In modern Babylon, i.e., our culture, civil courts currently serve something of that purpose. Currently our courts have a limited set of tools, like prison, fines, and service. It seems likely if we considered the task of the courts to assign barriers to demonstrate one’s resolve, a larger set of tools might be assigned to their disposal, which could then be also used perhaps at a generically higher level, for those who don’t present their case in court.

That is basically a less mocking restatement of the “serious ethical decision” argument. It is one I’d argue for at a local level, so that if/when barriers would be set, they would be made at a micro-scale to be proportionate and be seen as reasonable to those setting them. However, in policy, it is one I don’t ascribe to on a national level. I’m currently of the opinion that these decision of abortion, euthenasia, divorce, marriage, and so on should all be made locally, at the village/precinct level.  At the local level, one response to deciding to forego the regulations put up in these matters is that, you must face the set consequences … or move (preferably prior to breaking the law and facing said consequences).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>