Saturday, March 06, 2010

So let's just kill 'em

Seems like marhaban, the only non-troll on my post regarding my unpleasant interaction with the irrational and highly insulting PMLS has it all figured out.  Only not.

marhaban,

But having a child also can cause  severe psychological  harm.

1) So let's just kill them!
2) If you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, why choose to murder the child?  You need to answer this.
3) Of course, one is natural (childbirth) and has been going on for quite some time. A few decades, at least, women have been giving birth to children. 


All the more reason to support good healthcare and mental healthcare benefits for all people.

Fine!  Yes!  Stop acting like this is a good excuse to allow baby murder, please!  Sheesh.  That's not the topic, OK?  Stop bringing it up, and focus on the issue.  Stop. Breathe. Focus.


As a parent who adopted my kids from the foster care system, I can tell you from experience that the system is a mess.

So let's kill the babies we don't think will live "good" lives.  Let's assume we can define "good" for someone else.  Let's assume we know that NOT ONE CHILD that we murder will actually overcome obstacles and live a life that s/he finds to be good.  Let's assume that EVERY CHILD, if s/he'd reached adulthood, would've preferred that s/he'd have been murdered in the womb. 
Are you ready to make those assumptions for someone else, let alone millions of others?  On whose authority?


This option may be great for healthy white babies, but not as great for minorities or kids with any issues such as HIV positive parents, drug or alcohol exposure, etc.

So let's just kill those ones, the ones with more obstacles in their way.  They'll never overcome them anyway.


I'm not saying that they won't end up succeeding in spite of this,

Actually, if you're arguing for the permissibility of murdering the children in the womb and using these statements as excuses for it, you are absolutely doing just that. 


I don't claim that it is better to kill the child. I claim that it is a difficult choice to make.

Why precisely is it a difficult choice?  I don't have all the money I want, but it's not a difficult choice for me to decide NOT to mug the rich guy downtown tonight.  Why?  B/c murder is not an option.  Why is that so hard for you to grasp?


I won't pass judgment on those who do

Do you pass judgment on Ted Bundy?  Charles Manson?  Adolf Hitler? Just curious how consistent you're willing to be.  Please let me know.


How will making abortion illegal help?

If I had my way, it would put every single abortician out of business, and if the abortician performed one more abortion after abortion was outlawed, he'd be summarily executed after a very swift trial.  That's how it would help.


Rich people could get them easily enough.

1) Didn't you just finish tell me how hard off most people with unwanted pregnancies have it b/c they're NOT rich, and therefore seek abortions?  Your consistency could use some work.
2) Let them get them, and their children's blood be on their own heads, but not in the US.  I can't control what goes on outside my country's borders.
3) You know what?  Let's just not outlaw grand larceny and fraud, and murder.  I mean, the people with the means to commit those acts will just do them anyway.  That's what your argument amounts to.


Poor people were stuck with unsanitary schmuck "doctors"

1) Do you have any idea how unsanitary most abortuaries are RIGHT NOW?  You need to educate yourself. 
2) Are you arguing that we should pander to those who'd prefer to murder children for the sake of their own circumstances?
3) If we imprison, try, and execute aborticians, shmuck or not, they won't be stuck with them at all.  There won't be any.



Abortion should stay an option, because the consequences of it not being an option also suck.

Thus spake marhaban.  Sorry, but you need to actually make an argument before you can just summarily pronounce judgment. 

102 comments:

Billy said...

Do you feel that standing by and doing nothing while thousands of children are murdered every year gives you a sound basis to judge other people?

PChem said...

And the standard response appears. Billy, how can you possibly know that Rhology does NOTHING? Perhaps you should ask him before tossing that around.

Rhology said...

It's also a red herring. As if one cannot identify sthg as evil w/o actively doing sthg about it. I can identify the Turkish massacre of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th cent as evil but not be obligated to give money to descendants of the Armenian victims. I can't be everywhere and do everything. I can only do what I can do, and I have to prioritise the expenditure of my powers and resources.

Billy said...

"Billy, how can you possibly know that Rhology does NOTHING? Perhaps you should ask him before tossing that around."

Good point, PChem. Rhology, what do you do to prevent the murder of thousands of children every year?

Paul C said...

"As if one cannot identify sthg as evil w/o actively doing sthg about it."

So if a child was being murdered in front of you and you did nothing about it, you don't think that makes you a coward?

How about if the child was being murdered next door? The other end of the street? The next block? Do you ever feel an obligation to stop that murder?

"I can identify the Turkish massacre of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th cent as evil but not be obligated to give money to descendants of the Armenian victims. I can't be everywhere and do everything."

Well unless you're Turkish it's not obvious that it has anything to do with you; and unless you can travel through time there's nothing you can do about it.

The murder of thousands of children every year, however, is happening right now in your country. And you do nothing about it.

"I can only do what I can do, and I have to prioritise the expenditure of my powers and resources."

So for you the murder of thousands of children every year by the state you live in is not your priority. I'd love to know what your priorities are...

PChem said...

Paul C,

I seem to remember this EXACT same argument from you before. Do you actually expect a different answer?

Paul C said...

It's the exact same argument because it wasn't addressed previously, as we can see here.

I've posed a fairly simple question: when does Rhology believe his moral responsibility to prevent murder kicks in?

If Rhology isn't prepared to answer it, perhaps you could?

PChem said...

I believe I have addressed this in the past on Rhology's blog with you. Maybe you forgot. To recap, I am doing what I feel I should, and my conscience is clean. Of course, there is always more that can be done, but I have to balance this against the other responsibilities I have before God. I certainly do not think what you are advocating is the proper mechanism to stopping abortion, and to be frank, I don't see why you keep at this. I am sure there are things you feel strongly against and have thoughts about how to best address them. Would you go against your best judgement simply because someone else told you otherwise?

Now that I answered your question, please explain why you think it is morally acceptable to permit the killing of an unborn child. Also include what it is that a newborn possesses that grants it a full set of rights so we can clearly see what you think the unborn child lacks.

Rhology said...

PChem has correctly identified that this is a junk argument designed to divert attention away from the horror of murdering babies. The interlocutors feign righteous indignation while ignoring the fact that they support the obvious evil. Shame on you.

I'd simply like to ask what's so wrong about being inconsistent, or a hypocrite. If Christianity is true, I have every reason to prioritise as I've mentioned. Further, even if it be sin, my sins are forgiven in Christ. "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies" (Romans 8:31). If atheism is true, so what if someone is inconsistent? Give an argument, with an objective moral standard identified and demonstrated.


(Paul C, I don't think the link worked.)

Paul C said...

"I certainly do not think what you are advocating is the proper mechanism to stopping abortion, and to be frank, I don't see why you keep at this.

I'm not advocating anything. I'm merely pointing out the discrepancy between what you claim to believe and how you act. And you still haven't answered the question: you've explained that right now you will do nothing, but you've not explained at what point you *do* believe you have a responsibility to act.

If I knew that 5-year-old children were being murdered every day in a known state instituion in my town, and I did nothing about it, then I would have to accept that I was a coward. If I then railed against others for similar inaction, then I would have to accept that I was a hypocrite. I'm just wondering why you don't feel similarly.

"Now that I answered your question, please explain why you think it is morally acceptable to permit the killing of an unborn child. Also include what it is that a newborn possesses that grants it a full set of rights so we can clearly see what you think the unborn child lacks."

I don't believe that there's an absolute right to life, and therefore I admit the possibility that in certain situations abortion is justified. In addition I believe that the autonomy of the individual needs to be maximally respected, which leads me to avoid telling other people how to think or act (including you, incidentally). On admitting these two points, the question is only where I draw the line of acceptability, accepting that the line is never entirely clear. The only sensible distinction I can draw is the viability of the foetus, but that doesn't mean that the foetus has no value prior to that.

Rhology said...

Paul C would profit from reading this, then.
Lame argument. Kthxbye.

Paul C said...

"PChem has correctly identified that this is a junk argument designed to divert attention away from the horror of murdering babies. The interlocutors feign righteous indignation while ignoring the fact that they support the obvious evil. Shame on you."

I don't feel any righteous indignation whatsoever. I don't believe there's any "horror of murdering babies" because abortion is clearly different to (for example) murdering a 40-year-old woman. I'm not sure why I should feel shame for asking questions; on the other hand, I would feel shame if I believed that the babies were being murdered and I did nothing to stop it.

"I'd simply like to ask what's so wrong about being inconsistent, or a hypocrite."

Where does "wrong" come into it? I'm just asking where you think your responsibility for stopping the murder of children begins.

Paul C said...

Since I don't believe that raising a child to be a Christian is child abuse, and I don't call God an genocidal egomaniac, and I don't associate homicidal tendencies with religious belief any more than I associate them with lack of religious belief. So the post you link to is not relevant to me, or to the argument that I'm making.

Rhology said...

If I knew that 5-year-old children were being murdered every day in a known state instituion in my town, and I did nothing about it, then I would have to accept that I was a coward.

Oh, OK. So this is a personal vendetta you have against me, to make me cry. Like I said, kthxbye. But feel free to bring this up if I ever write a post about how awesome and blameless I am.

Paul C said...

I'm not accusing you of anything: I was explaining how I would feel if I was in your position, and trying to understand why you don't feel that way, and how you do feel.

Put it this way: I tend to think that how people act is a better guide to what they believe than what they say. In this case, the difference between the two is quite jarring, and I wonder how you reconcile them.

Rhology said...

And I've explained before that biblically the situation is not as you describe it. I'm sorry you seem not to understand that, but that's not my problem.

Paul C said...

Let's keep it simple then.

I'm assuming that if you were in the same room where a child was being murdered, you'd do what you physically could to stop it, and we know that currently you don't do anything to physically stop it, which tells us that you make a moral distinction between these two points on the spectrum.

So the question is, at what point in between you feel that your moral responsibility to act kicks in? Answers biblical or philosophical are welcome; I really do want to understand this point.

Rhology said...

BTW, since we're talking about hypocrisy, I don't see you going over to the Atheist Experience to harangue them about how they are in fact inconsistent, since THEY *do* consider teaching children Xtianity child abuse, following in Dick Dawk's idiotic footsteps. So I call hypocrisy on you too. You're the one who made it personal; you get to bear the consequences.

The difference, as I've said before, is that I don't have the authority to stand in the way of someone who is exercising their legal right to act. I don't get to assault someone to keep them from buying a lottery ticket. I don't get to kidnap them to stop them from murdering their baby, nor do I get to blow an abortician's head off, tempting though it may be. B/c I have to respect the law of the nation in which I live. If there were no law on the books about abortion one way or th'other, your argument would be stronger, but Romans 13 puts the sword of capital punishment in the hand of the state, not the individual, not the church. So this is me not bearing the sword. I want the state to bear the sword and do what's right, sure, and thus I agitate politically for pro life and vote accordingly. I bother gov't officials about it. Etc. THere's more I can do but I can't intervene violently.

The church's main weapon against abortion is love and the proclamation of the Gospel, not the sword. This world is not Heaven.
THat's the basic rundown. It's more complex than many realise, and I feel the emotional weight of your accusations, I do. Makes me wonder if I really am doing the right thing. Probably the answer is that I'm not doing nearly enough, but I am a weak sinner.

Paul C said...

"BTW, since we're talking about hypocrisy, I don't see you going over to the Atheist Experience to harangue them about how they are in fact inconsistent"... So I call hypocrisy on you too. You're the one who made it personal; you get to bear the consequences."

I don't think this is personal at all, since I haven't made any value judgements about what it means to be a coward or a hypocrite in this context. I'm sure there are areas in my own life where I fall into one or both categories. My interests here are threefold:

1. To understand how you feel able to attack others for their cowardice or hypocrisy or inconsistency when your own positions seem to occupy the same space. That whole "he who is without sin" deal, I guess.

2. To recognise that when you call abortion "baby murder", it's a rhetorical tactic rather than a deeply-held belief. (I doubt that I'll ever be able to persuade you, which I find interesting because to me it's as clear as day.)

3. To try to help you understand that by using that rhetorical tactic, you guarantee that you will not have anything resembling a constructive discussion which will enable you to persuade anybody else of your views.

"The difference, as I've said before, is that I don't have the authority to stand in the way of someone who is exercising their legal right to act... B/c I have to respect the law of the nation in which I live."

I'm afraid this doesn't answer the question, which is where you draw the line at which your moral responsibility requires you to take action - and it's generally agree that this is not an adequate defence, legal or moral, as the Nuremburg trials showed us.

I'm sure if somebody was trying to kill your children you wouldn't use this argument to defend your inaction; so would you use it for your neighbours' children? For the children of Armenians in the Ottoman empire? This is what I want to know: when do you take action?

(And by "action" I don't mean killing abortion doctors - but the fact that both you and PChem automatically assume that's what I mean is interesting in itself.)

Rhology said...

I don't think this is personal at all

Sorry, you didn't escape responsibility for your hypocrisy with this answer. I suppose if you had a blog I'd be fully justified in harping on this all the time and never letting it go even though it's irrelevant to the question of morality of child abuse or something.


To understand how you feel able to attack others for their cowardice or hypocrisy

1) Which I didn't do in THIS POST.
2) There's a difference between attacking others for their hypocrisy and attacking others' hypocrisy. It's unclear to me whether this distinction is beyond your willingness to comprehend, though.


2. To recognise that when you call abortion "baby murder", it's a rhetorical tactic rather than a deeply-held belief.

If nothing else, this blog has served the purpose of demonstrating that your mind-reading powers are not very good.


you will not have anything resembling a constructive discussion which will enable you to persuade anybody else of your views.

Proof is not the same as persuasion. I don't rely on my rhetorical powers but on the Spirit of God.


I'm afraid this doesn't answer the question

Oh, b/c you said so, huh? I'm pricked to the core.


it's generally agree that this is not an adequate defence, legal or moral, as the Nuremburg trials showed us.

Now all you have to do is give some evidence that the Nuremberg standards were a good standard. But we all know that I've asked you for a standard a million times and you've been unable a million.


I'm sure if somebody was trying to kill your children you wouldn't use this argument to defend your inaction

B/c my defending them would be A DIFFERENT SITUATION. Novel concept!
1) They'd be MY children, not someone else's.
2) I wouldn't be constrained by American law to do nothing.
3) It's not legal for someone to kill my BORN children.

You know what? YOU'RE a hypocrite b/c you probably think that raping little girls is wrong, yet I don't think you'd stop anyone from giving a dog a Milk-Bone. You're a hypocrite, you hypocrite, with all your hypocrisy.


And by "action" I don't mean killing abortion doctors

I don't know what action would be better to take, speaking for myself. That's the first place I'd start with respect to lawmaking and enforcement - harsh penalties for aborticians.

PChem said...

Paul,

Well, I turn to the murder of abortion doctors because that was the context where we discussed this last time. I suppose I just picked up from that thread when you showed up on this one.

Now you have said I do nothing. This is simply incorrect. I do the things that I feel are best to stop abortion. If infanticide were legal and operating, I would do the things that I believe are best to stop infanticide. If the murder of 40 year of women were government sanctioned, I would again do the things that I feel are best to stop the killing. The simply fact is that I do not think intervening like you insinuate is the best strategy for stopping abortion. Again, do you routinely go against your better judgement simply because someone else thinks your way is hypocritical or wrong?

You said that there is not right to life but there is a right to autonomy. Does the right to life not extend to fully developed humans? If not, who decides when people get to live? This seems to have echoes of Peter Singer's views. Do you agree with him?

Lastly, why should we maximize autonomy? Certainly you don't think we should maximize autonomy. We don't extend autonomy to some other ethical questions (e.g., forced imprisonment, murdering adults or children, hiding crack pipes in your pants, carrying weapons without a permmit, etc.) I don't follow why this one should be maximized and not the right to life. It seems totally backwards to me. I think we should maximize life at the expense of someone's privacy.

NAL said...

Rho:

How does matter, specifically a delicious Italian meal, exist without space to occupy?

Which raises an interesting question. What is God made of? If matter, then there's the same problem as with the FSM. If energy, how does energy exist without mass?

/The comment section of the FSM post has been disabled.

Rhology said...

Right, b/c the comments are meant to go to the Triablogue cross-post's combox. You apparently didn't read the entire thing. Why am I not surprised?

Paul C said...

Rhology, I wrote a long-ish reply to your questions, but then realised that my answers were largely irrelevant to the point. I am still looking for a simple answer to a simple question:

a. I assume that if you were in the same house where a child was being murdered, you'd do what you physically could to stop it.
b. I also assume that you don't do anything to physically stop the murder of many children in your town.
c. If these two events at opposite ends of a spectrum, then your threshold for physically preventing murder must be somewhere along that spectrum.

My question is - where? This should be fairly simple to answer, shouldn't it - or am I missing a vital philosophical point here?

Rhology said...

b. I also assume that you don't do anything to physically stop the murder of many children in your town.

If you mean I don't physically get in the way of ppl entering an abortuary, yes, that's true.
I don't think the spectrum paradigm is a good one. Either it's permissible or it's not. Either I have authority and mandate to do sthg or I don't. In this case, I have authority and mandate to kill someone who's attacking an innocent, if I have to go so far as killing them to subdue them. IOW, I'm going to shoot for center mass, not the guy's leg.

But in normal cases of after-the-fact judicial punishment, I don't have authority to be judge, jury, and executioner. The Bible says that the STATE bears the sword for the execution of punishment on evildoers. I don't bear the sword. God has instituted the judicial system and the laws the way they are at this time in this nation, and has commanded me to live under those laws except when they conflict with God's law. *I* may not murder a baby, but I have no command to forcefully intervene when someone else is legally going to murder THEIR baby.
It should tell you sthg, however, that most of the impetus behind the pro-life mvmt is Christian - we recognise that the law is what it is, but it is immoral. Though immoral, we cannot just ignore it when it pertains to other people's conduct like this. It's one thing to choose to obey or disobey the law of the land; it's quite another to choose to force someone ELSE to obey or disobey.

Paul C said...

PChem:

“Now you have said I do nothing. This is simply incorrect. I do the things that I feel are best to stop abortion.”

Then I take back my accusation and apologise to you. Can you be more specific about what those things are? I’m curious as to what you consider the proper response to the state murdering children.

“If infanticide were legal and operating, I would do the things that I believe are best to stop infanticide.”

But my point is that Rhology – and I assume you also – believe that abortion is infanticide *and* morally identical to murdering a human of any age. I’m getting very confused – do you or don’t you believe that abortion is the same as murdering children?

“You said that there is not right to life but there is a right to autonomy. Does the right to life not extend to fully developed humans? If not, who decides when people get to live? This seems to have echoes of Peter Singer's views. Do you agree with him?”

I didn’t say that there is a “right” to autonomy, nor do I believe there is a “right” to autonomy; it is merely a value that I seek to maximise for myself and others. I believe that the right to life is a subset of maximizing autonomy, in that taking somebody’s life is the ultimate (literally and metaphorically) infringement of their autonomy.

(I agree with a significant proportion of Singer’s views, although (interestingly) I wouldn’t classify myself as a utilitarian per se.)

“Lastly, why should we maximize autonomy? Certainly you don't think we should maximize autonomy. We don't extend autonomy to some other ethical questions (e.g., forced imprisonment, murdering adults or children, hiding crack pipes in your pants, carrying weapons without a permmit, etc.)”

No, I really do think we should maximise autonomy. I believe this because a) my nature is that it’s a desire that I hold for myself and for others, b) my experience tells me that maximizing autonomy is the shortest route to maximizing well-being and c) my logic tells me that maximising autonomy as a position is a universal which makes many of the philosophical “problems” that plague discussions such as this one redundant.

I think that forced imprisonment is an inadequate response to crime and think it should be reserved for people whose crime involves an attack on the autonomy of others – of which murder is the ultimate example. I think carrying crack pipes in your pants – or taking crack, for that matter – should be fully legal. I think carrying weapons *should* be allowed but that the sort of people who want to carry weapons are exactly the sort that also want to infringe the autonomy of others.

“I don't follow why this one should be maximized and not the right to life. It seems totally backwards to me. I think we should maximize life at the expense of someone's privacy.”

As I said, my position is that the right to life is a subset of maximizing autonomy. Also, you seem to be confusing privacy with autonomy in that last sentence – can you clarify what you mean there?

Finally PChem, can I just say what a pleasure it is to have this discussion with somebody who responds to my questions like an adult. Do you have your own blog?

Paul C said...

“God has ... commanded me to live under those laws except when they conflict with God's law. *I* may not murder a baby, but I have no command to forcefully intervene when someone else is legally going to murder THEIR baby.”

So the legal murder of babies isn’t in conflict with God’s law?

Rhology said...

Yes, it is. So I am not permitted to murder babies.

Paul C said...

Ah, I see - sorry for the misunderstanding.

So if (for example) you were standing next to somebody who was about to murder their baby, God's law does not say that you should stop them.

Would you say it was neutral on the subject of stopping other people from killing their babies?

Rhology said...

It makes a difference that it's against the law of the land to do that. If I were standing right next to them, in THIS COUNTRY as the law stands RIGHT NOW, I'd be obliged to try to persuade them not to. I'd offer to adopt their baby and agree to any conditions within my power, but I can't physically stop them.

Paul C said...

"It makes a difference that it's against the law of the land to do that."

Just as it was against the law of the land for German citizens to prevent the state from murdering undesirables in the 1930s and 1940s. So would it be reasonable to say that God's law says that those who stood by and allowed millions of innocent people - including children - to be murdered during that period were justified?

(As an aside, is this applicable only to your specific state? What if this was taking place in Iran, for example, where presumably you believe the law is not backed by your God?)

Rhology said...

?? I don't believe that THIS nation's law is generally backed by God. But it's better to talk in terms of which laws are in agreement with God, and which aren't. Not "backed by".

Your Nazi question is a good one. The difference is that the unborn baby is inseparable from the body of the mother, whereas a fugitive Jew is not.
And the question of justifiability in this case is impossible to say - we'd need to be more specific than "those millions who had to make decision X in the middle of their highly jacked-up lives in a period of high civil unrest".

Look, this discussion is interesting and all, but it's not one in which an atheist has any justification to be questioning someone who holds to an objective standard of morality. I'd like to see YOu answer these same questions and give any better reason as to WHY YOU ANSWER the way you do than "B/c that's what I personally favor right now based on my feelings, upbringing, and liberal engaging in the naturalistic fallacy".

Paul C said...

"I don't believe that THIS nation's law is generally backed by God. But it's better to talk in terms of which laws are in agreement with God, and which aren't."

Sure, we can do that - but my point remains. Your position that you must abide by the law even when it's in violation of God's law, right?

"The difference is that the unborn baby is inseparable from the body of the mother, whereas a fugitive Jew is not."

Although that difference is certainly logistical, it isn't insuperable; and in any case that doesn't make it a moral difference, which is what we're interested in here, surely?

"Look, this discussion is interesting and all, but it's not one in which an atheist has any justification to be questioning someone who holds to an objective standard of morality."

Are you claiming that the validity of a question is based on the person who's asking it, rather than the question itself? That seems odd.

"I'd like to see YOu answer these same questions and give any better reason as to WHY YOU ANSWER the way you do than "B/c that's what I personally favor right now based on my feelings, upbringing, and liberal engaging in the naturalistic fallacy"."

Which question would you like me to answer, specifically? I'll do my best to answer any you want, as long as you agree to keep answering my questions.

Rhology said...

*I* must abide by God's law first, and secondarily the law of the land. But that is not the same thing as imposing that obedience on someone else, and I think that's the crucial point here.

And yes, the baby's location inside the mother IS insuperable for your Nazi/Jew question. It's a totally different situation. I can't get to the baby w/o dealing with the mother first. Can't teleport the baby out. If I could, that'd be great; it'd be similar to what ancient Christians used to do in Roman society - children would be born but unwanted, so the parents would leave the babies outside their door to die of exposure and the Christians would go by at night and gather them up and adopt them, en masse. If that were possible today, and to an extent it is, it would be the thing to do. Unfortunately, many women don't leave their babies out to die AFTER birth - they go in to have them dismembered in the womb before anyone else can access the baby.

The validity of the question per se doesn't depend, but let's just be clear - you have NO answer for any of this beyond what I outlined.
To illustrate, I'll ask you this: Is it morally permissible for anyone to kill anyone else at any time for any reason? Please also explain how you know the answer to that.

Paul C said...

"*I* must abide by God's law first, and secondarily the law of the land. But that is not the same thing as imposing that obedience on someone else, and I think that's the crucial point here."

Yes, it's a useful distinction to make. Just to clarify, would it be fair to say that you don't believe that imposing obedience to God's law on others can be justified in any situation?

"Is it morally permissible for anyone to kill anyone else at any time for any reason? Please also explain how you know the answer to that."

I'm a moral skeptic, so I don't have any view on whether it's "morally permissible". It's reasonable and acceptable for some people to kill some other people at some times for some reasons, usually based on the autonomy of the individual being killed. So for example, murder is an infringement of that autonomy and thus unacceptable; assisted killing is an expression of that autonomy and so it's acceptable.

Rhology said...

would it be fair to say that you don't believe that imposing obedience to God's law on others can be justified in any situation?

Another good question.
No, that would not be appropriate to say. Let me see if I can think of some examples.
One would be in a case of church discipline - the stubbornly unrepentant apostate/heretic/offender/busybody is asked, then asked again, then called upon to repent, and if they won't, then the church removes them from their fellowship, says you can't come back in here.
Another would be if I were actually PART of the gov't, if I were elected Senator or sthg. Then I'd of course be free to argue for and propose legislation that would reflect God's law. So if I were in gov't, I'd do everythg I could to limit, get around, roadblock, stall, curtail Roe v Wade and its effects. And if I were to be able to get enough ppl to vote with me, I'd amend the Constitution to reflect the Declaration of Independence - that LIFE shall not be taken away at any age.
Another would be if I were a king/monarch. I'd be justified in making laws; in fact, I'd be responsible for making the laws of my land in conformity with God's law. I'd be held acctable for failing to do that. Great power, great responsibility and all that.
I impose obedience to God's law on my children until they reach the age of majority. Hopefully, I'll teach them well and they'll WANT to live like that, but after age 18 or whatever I can't impose it.
So no, HSAT, it's not universal; we'd have to examine every example on its own merits. It's probably that I'm not smart enough to go farther than that.


So for example, murder is an infringement of that autonomy and thus unacceptable; assisted killing is an expression of that autonomy and so it's acceptable.

What does "acceptable" mean? Is it a moral judgment?
How do you know that infringing on another's autonomy is unacceptable? And isn't infringing on another's autonomy and telling them that they can't infringe on your autonomy infringing on their autonomy?

Paul C said...

"So if I were in gov't, I'd do everythg I could to limit, get around, roadblock, stall, curtail Roe v Wade and its effects. And if I were to be able to get enough ppl to vote with me, I'd amend the Constitution to reflect the Declaration of Independence - that LIFE shall not be taken away at any age."

Can you explain to me why the state is justified in imposing God's law on others, but the individual is not?

"What does "acceptable" mean? Is it a moral judgment?"

I don't consider it a moral judgement. It means I find that practice conducive to the sort of society in which I wish to live.

"How do you know that infringing on another's autonomy is unacceptable?"

What do you mean, how do I know? I explained above to PChem the reasons why I find it unacceptable.

"And isn't infringing on another's autonomy and telling them that they can't infringe on your autonomy infringing on their autonomy?"

No. Telling somebody something doesn't infringe on their autonomy, as far as I can tell.

Rhology said...

Can you explain to me why the state is justified in imposing God's law on others, but the individual is not?

B/c the state has been granted that power by God.
Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

But that kind of language is never applied to the individual wrt matters of legal obedience, which is a separate sphere from the moral law and the Gospel.


It means I find that practice conducive to the sort of society in which I wish to live.

So it's pragmatic. What does this kind of statement have to say about those who have contrary desires? A jihadist wants you to submit to sharia law. That's not conducive to the sort of society in which you'd wish to live, but when it comes to two conflicting desires, how can you know which one is better? Do you just assume it b/c you don't prefer (today) to live under sharia?


What do you mean, how do I know? I explained above to PChem the reasons why I find it unacceptable.

No, you explained THAT infringing on another's autonomy is unacceptable. I want to know WHY.


Telling somebody something doesn't infringe on their autonomy, as far as I can tell.

Then I'll rephrase. Isn't infringing on another's autonomy and forcing them not to infringe on your autonomy infringing on their autonomy?

Paul C said...

B/c the state has been granted that power by God.

What if the power of the state rests in a single individual, i.e. an absolute monarch or dictator? That means that an individual is justified in imposing God's law on others - but why is it acceptable for that individual and not any other?

Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.

A governing authority doesn't have to be a state, and not all states are governing authorities. So this sentence doesn't support your contention that the state has been granted power by God.

For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

What does it mean to say that authority is established by God? What if there are two competing authorities over a particular individual - which one was established by God, or are they both established by God?

3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;

Let's assume for the sake of argument that proselytization is good (I assume you would agree), and let's say you're a Christian in China in the 1980s. If you proselytize, you absolutely would not have praise from the governing authorities, so this statement is false.

6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.

Let's say that I become President of the USA. My first action on taking office is to

But that kind of language is never applied to the individual wrt matters of legal obedience, which is a separate sphere from the moral law and the Gospel.

I've got no idea what this means. Can you explain?

What does this kind of statement have to say about those who have contrary desires?

They are welcome to exercise those desires as long as it doesn't infringe the autonomy of others.

when it comes to two conflicting desires, how can you know which one is better?

What do you mean by "better"?

No, you explained THAT infringing on another's autonomy is unacceptable. I want to know WHY.

No, I described three reasons why I believe we should maximize autonomy. Read it again.

Isn't infringing on another's autonomy and forcing them not to infringe on your autonomy infringing on their autonomy?

It's acceptable to infringe on somebody's autonomy to prevent them from infringing on somebody else's autonomy.

Paul C said...

Ignore the incomplete point 6. It was just a thought experiment where the President was a Satanist.

PChem said...

Paul,

Can you be more specific about what those things are?

Sure, I co-founded a pro-life organization in my county to educate local citizens about these issues, to leverage action from our elected officials, and to support mothers who do choose life. Also, I raise my children to know that actions have consequences and the life begins at conception.

I’m curious as to what you consider the proper response to the state murdering children.

But my point is that Rhology – and I assume you also – believe that abortion is infanticide *and* morally identical to murdering a human of any age. I’m getting very confused – do you or don’t you believe that abortion is the same as murdering children?

I do believe abortion and infanticide is equivalent; however, the state does not sanction infanticide. On the contrary, it does sanction the murder of unborn children. This is a crucial difference that affects what actions I think are best to take. While I do grieve over the death of unborn infants, I simply do not think acting in a vigilante style is the best way to stop the murders.

I didn’t say that there is a “right” to autonomy, nor do I believe there is a “right” to autonomy; it is merely a value that I seek to maximise for myself and others. I believe that the right to life is a subset of maximizing autonomy, in that taking somebody’s life is the ultimate (literally and metaphorically) infringement of their autonomy.

Ok, you wish to maximize autonomy. Point taken.

No, I really do think we should maximise autonomy. I believe this because a) my nature is that it’s a desire that I hold for myself and for others, b) my experience tells me that maximizing autonomy is the shortest route to maximizing well-being and c) my logic tells me that maximising autonomy as a position is a universal which makes many of the philosophical “problems” that plague discussions such as this one redundant.

How can you possibly maximize autonomy? To realistically accomplish this you would have to know all of the contingent acts going on across the world as well as their consequences. In this regard, I don't think maximizing autonomy is feasible. Furthermore, what happens when the autonomy of one person (or group of people) conflicts with another person (or group of people). Clearly someone's autonomy will be minimized. Who gets to decide this? The stronger of the two? This is precisely why I do not think maximizing autonomy will lead to greater happiness.

From what I gather, this ethical framework makes abortion okay simply because the "who" that is having their autonomy violated is not strong enough to have it any other way.

As I said, my position is that the right to life is a subset of maximizing autonomy. Also, you seem to be confusing privacy with autonomy in that last sentence – can you clarify what you mean there?

I obviously disagree very much with this. Autonomy should take a backseat to other inviolable rights.

Finally PChem, can I just say what a pleasure it is to have this discussion with somebody who responds to my questions like an adult. Do you have your own blog?

Thank you and yes I do. It is thechemistscorner.wordpress.com. It is just starting out and I haven't decided what direction I want to take it in. Mostly, I have been using it to wordsmith some ideas that I have been having in my head for a while.

As an aside, my son is sick now. I *may* become more sporadic in checking in. It depends if he is better in the next day or so or not. It also depends on how late I want to stay up typing on this, and how much wife can handle of it! :-)

Paul C said...

I co-founded a pro-life organization in my county to educate local citizens about these issues, to leverage action from our elected officials, and to support mothers who do choose life. Also, I raise my children to know that actions have consequences and the life begins at conception.

Those are all admirable things to do, and thank you for sharing your personal life here. Yet somehow they don't seem to be proportionate response to the mass murder of children, to me at least. Let’s say that infanticide was legal - would your response be the same as you’ve outlined here?

This is why I’m confused. In moral (not practical) terms, if you believe this response is appropriate, then presumably you also believe that Germans that let Jews be led off to the concentration camps were justified in doing nothing – and I don’t think you do believe that.

I do believe abortion and infanticide is equivalent; however, the state does not sanction infanticide. On the contrary, it does sanction the murder of unborn children. This is a crucial difference that affects what actions I think are best to take. While I do grieve over the death of unborn infants, I simply do not think acting in a vigilante style is the best way to stop the murders.

I agree that it makes a serious difference, but the limits of that difference are what I want to explore. If you were in the same room where a child was being murdered, you would try to physically stop it; yet if you were in the same room where an abortion was being performed, you wouldn’t solely because the law says abortion is legal?

If the law said infanticide was legal, would you then not intervene while a child was clubbed to death in front of you? Once again, I don’t think you would – and once again, it leaves me confused.

How can you possibly maximize autonomy? To realistically accomplish this you would have to know all of the contingent acts going on across the world as well as their consequences. In this regard, I don't think maximizing autonomy is feasible.

That’s because you’re looking for absolutes where there are none. This is a value which I seek to maximize, but it’s impossible to achieve absolute autonomy for the simple reason that we are social animals. Maximizing autonomy is perfectly feasible precisely because it’s relative not absolute.

Furthermore, what happens when the autonomy of one person (or group of people) conflicts with another person (or group of people). Clearly someone's autonomy will be minimized. Who gets to decide this? The stronger of the two?

What happens in practical terms depends on the social, political and economic systems that are in place, and those vary widely depending on time and place. Certainly power relationships play a tremendous role – for example, between men and women, or rich and poor, or strong and weak – but these are all mediated by social, political and economic systems. Those systems are all constructed by the people involved in them, so we all play a (limited) role in how they develop.

This is precisely why I do not think maximizing autonomy will lead to greater happiness.

I never claimed that maximizing autonomy leads to greater happiness.

From what I gather, this ethical framework makes abortion okay simply because the "who" that is having their autonomy violated is not strong enough to have it any other way.

Can you explain why you believe a foetus has autonomy?

Autonomy should take a backseat to other inviolable rights.

Apart from the right to life, what other rights are you referring to? If you’re only referring to the right to life, can you explain how you can ensure the right to life of the individual without ensuring their autonomy as a prerequisite?

Please wish your son a speedy recovery from the blogosphere!

Rhology said...

why is it acceptable for that individual and not any other?

B/c God set it up that way - He decided that He would institute gov'ts over populations, generally speaking. It means that those who are put in power are there by God's provision and will stay or be deposed or relinquish, also by God's provision. God's not a deist, He's sovereign and active.
When that monarch is the lawmaker, he makes the law of the land, so it's diff from me; I'm not a lawmaker.


A governing authority doesn't have to be a state, and not all states are governing authorities

That's true, but THIS state is, and you've been asking about ME specifically.


What if there are two competing authorities over a particular individual - which one was established by God, or are they both established by God?

That's a question more of HOW ONE KNOWS which authority is established, rather than which one was in fact established. But obviously there have also been times and places when gov'tal control over a certain population has been spotty or nonexistent. That is the result of God's provision too. Now, I've never lived in that situation and I doubt I ever will, but if I did, personally speaking, I would default to the law of God as expressed in the Bible. If I knew of an abortician performing abortions and there were two or three witnesses to that fact, I'd warn the guy and if he didn't stop, I might very well take action, even violent action, against him. And I have every reason (that I can think of so far) to think that it would be justifiable, maybe even obligatory.


If you proselytize, you absolutely would not have praise from the governing authorities, so this statement is false.

I take this psg to be partly prescriptive - the governing authority is to be judged (by the citizen) by its adherence to the law of God. I kind of think Paul knew that, given that he lived in the time of Nero Caesar.
John Gill explains:
That is, to them that do good works in a civil sense; who behave well in the neighbourhoods, towns, cities, and countries where they dwell. The apostle seems to anticipate an objection made against governors, as if there was something very terrible and formidable in them; and which might be taken up from the last clause of the preceding verse; and which he removes by observing, that governors neither do, nor ought to inject terror into men that behave well, obey the laws, and keep a good decorum among their fellow subjects, not doing any injury to any man's person, property, and estate. The Jews have a saying,
``that a governor that injects more fear into the people, than is for the honour of God, shall be punished, and shall not see his son a disciple of a wise man.''

That is, you're missing the point of the psg.
What I meant by But that kind of language is never applied to the individual... was that you'd asked why the gov't gets this power and why I, an indiv, don't. It's b/c the Bible specifically makes that sphere of influence - obliging others to follow its laws - the govt's bailiwick.



They are welcome to exercise those desires as long as it doesn't infringe the autonomy of others.

How do you know that?

Rhology said...

What do you mean by "better"?

I want to know how you decide between these two conflicting desires. If your response is, "I decide by figuring which one does not infringe/infringes less on others' autonomy", I'd like to know how you discovered (decided?) that this response is true and to be preferred over "I decide by figuring which one infringes MOST on others' autonomy".


3 reasons

OK, I think I found them.
a) my nature is that it’s a desire that I hold for myself and for others

How do you know that this is something that you ought to pursue and ought to commend to others, rather than its opposite?


b) my experience tells me that maximizing autonomy is the shortest route to maximizing well-being

1) So you're relying solely on your inductive judgments. This is the formal logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.
2) This woefully underestimates the amount to which humans are interdependent in societies and thus is worthless.
3) How do you know what 'well-being' is? If your answer involves "maximisation of autonomy", how is that not a tautology and again worthless?


c) my logic tells me that maximising autonomy as a position is a universal which makes many of the philosophical “problems” that plague discussions such as this one redundant

1) By running afoul of Hume's Guillotine and committing the naturalistic fallacy?
2) How do you know it's a universal? What % of humans over the course of time and all of Earth have you asked?



It's acceptable to infringe on somebody's autonomy to prevent them from infringing on somebody else's autonomy.

I suggest you read that again and ask yourself how much sense you made.
Anyway, I suppose you're The Judge, deciding from On High who gets to infringe and who doesn't. My guess is that you probably end up getting to infringe a lot more than you'll allow others the privilege to. That is, if you have the power. This is a perfect illustration of how naturalistic ethics always reduce to might makes right.

Rhology said...

Oh, and
They are welcome to exercise those desires as long as it doesn't infringe the autonomy of others.

Are you welcome to exercise your desire to infringe on someone's autonomy in the situation you mentioned? If so, shouldn't you withdraw this statement?

PChem said...

Let’s say that infanticide was legal - would your response be the same as you’ve outlined here?

Yes it would. I pray that infanticide will not become legal, but sadly we may slip further down the slope before my time on earth is over.

presumably you also believe that Germans that let Jews be led off to the concentration camps were justified in doing nothing – and I don’t think you do believe that.

Now this is where you slipped back into the "nothing" category. Yes, doing nothing would be wrong. However, doing everything that you deem to be the best response would be right. I do not think that physically intervening vigilante style is best. I do believe that aggressive and pointed persuassion is appropriate.

I agree that it makes a serious difference, but the limits of that difference are what I want to explore.

I think Rhology did a great job dealing with this. My responsibility is to follow the laws in place concerning abortion set down by the state. I do not see myself as having the authority to act as the police and intervene in those circumstances precisely because God has placed the state in authority over me. On the other hand, I am granted the right to function as the police (for lack of a better word) in the case of the 5-year old.

I do strongly believe that I have a responsibility to do everything I can to remove an immoral and frankly bad judicial fiat that was handed down in the 1970s.

If the law said infanticide was legal, would you then not intervene while a child was clubbed to death in front of you?

Actually, in all honesty, I would probably offer to take the child. I think you can see the obvious reason why doing this for an unborn child is impossible.

PChem said...

That’s because you’re looking for absolutes where there are none.

I don't even see how you can know if you are maximizing it. For all you know, you may be minimizing it through the actions that you are taking. The problem is that its not just maximizing YOUR autonomy. You have to maximize it for everyone. I think its pretty intuitive that one person exercising their autonomy could in a very real way infringe on the autonomy of someone else. Unless you claim to be omniscient, I don't see how you can possibly know the results of all these actions. In this regard, your ethic has a paralyzing effect. How can you possibly make a decision unless you know that it truly is going to "maximize autonomy"? I suppose you can just shoot from the hip, but how is that not totally reckless and basically ignoring your core ethical standard?

What happens in practical terms depends on the social, political and economic systems that are in place, and those vary widely depending on time and place...

That sounds like the long way of saying might makes right. I don't see any other way actually.

I never claimed that maximizing autonomy leads to greater happiness.

Your right, you said well-being. My mistake. Now, how does maximize autonomy lead to greater well-being? And for whom? Different societies have different views on how to achieve this maximal well being and their means of doing so may very well negatively impact another society. How does this get sorted out in any meaningful way? Again, the only way I see is it is the strongest get to make the rules.

The implication of this ethical framework is that you no longer recognize immoral behavior. You clearly see this because you describe yourself as a moral skeptic. However, do you really suspend judgement on all actions both present and past? I find it hard to believe that you don't think some things are simply wrong. I think any ethical framework that cannot recognize that some actions are wrong is fundamentally flawed.

Can you explain why you believe a foetus has autonomy?

(a) I'm not the one that thinks autonomy is the ethical standard. Its up to you to demonstrate that it either does or doesn't.

(b) My standard is that the fetus is a person, and is ontologically no different than an adult human. I have laid out my argument for this in a post on my blog. This is alread long.

can you explain how you can ensure the right to life of the individual without ensuring their autonomy as a prerequisite?

Sure, the difference is that you have unlimited autonomy in view. I would subscribe to a more limited view of autonomy.

Paul C said...

B/c God set it up that way - He decided that He would institute gov'ts over populations, generally speaking.

That wasn’t the question I asked. Governments are made up of individuals – why does becoming part of a government make a difference?

It means that those who are put in power are there by God's provision and will stay or be deposed or relinquish, also by God's provision.

So every government that ever existed – including Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and Pol Pot’s Cambodia (for example) – was in power by God’s provision?

That's true, but THIS state is, and you've been asking about ME specifically.

It was you invoked the general principles in the Bible, so please don’t complain when I ask you about those principles. There are all kinds of governing authorities in this world and not all of them are states. Churches have governing authorities, for example – why do you privilege the state over your church, for example?

That's a question more of HOW ONE KNOWS which authority is established, rather than which one was in fact established.

So how does one know which authority is established?

John Gill explains:

John Gill does indeed explain. One of the things that he explains is that doing that which is good means “complying with the laws of the land, which are not contrary to the laws of God” [my emphasis]. So here we have a case where the laws of the land are contrary to the laws of God, and by complying with them, you are not doing good.

“The apostle seems to anticipate an objection made against governors... which he removes by observing, that governors neither do, nor ought to inject terror into men that behave well...”

“The apostle” doesn’t remove this objection by “observing that governors neither do, nor ought to inject terror into men that behave well...” because governors do, in fact, inject terror into men that behave well and so the original statement remains false.

These comments are getting long, so I’ll split them up.

Paul C said...

I want to know how you decide between these two conflicting desires.

The desire that maximizes autonomy is the most acceptable one. In this case, the imposition of sharia would limit autonomy considerably more, which I why I don’t favour sharia.

How do you know that this is something that you ought to pursue and ought to commend to others, rather than its opposite?

“Ought” is a useless word which I try to avoid using (which is difficult because it’s embedded in the culture).

1) So you're relying solely on your inductive judgments. This is the formal logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.

Please explain how I’m affirming the consequent, since I fail to see it.

2) This woefully underestimates the amount to which humans are interdependent in societies and thus is worthless.

It isn’t “worthless”, as I clearly indicated when I said “it’s impossible to achieve absolute autonomy for the simple reason that we are social animals.”

3) How do you know what 'well-being' is? If your answer involves "maximisation of autonomy", how is that not a tautology and again worthless?

It’s up to the individual to define what “well-being” means to them. Autonomy is simply a means to that end. Since I can’t define what well-being is for other people, and therefore can’t claim to pursue it on their behalf, I seek to maximize their autonomy so that they might pursue it themselves.

2) How do you know it's a universal? What % of humans over the course of time and all of Earth have you asked?

I mean “universal” in the sense that Kant indicated a categorical imperative is universal, not “universal” in the sense that “everybody agrees with me”.

Anyway, I suppose you're The Judge, deciding from On High who gets to infringe and who doesn't.

No, and everything I’ve said here indicates the opposite.

My guess is that you probably end up getting to infringe a lot more than you'll allow others the privilege to.

No, and everything I’ve said here indicates the opposite.

This is a perfect illustration of how naturalistic ethics always reduce to might makes right.

No, and nothing I’ve said here leads to this conclusion. In fact, the opposite is true since maximizing autonomy works against might makes right.

Are you welcome to exercise your desire to infringe on someone's autonomy in the situation you mentioned? If so, shouldn't you withdraw this statement?

I don’t have the desire to infringe on anybody else’s autonomy, so these questions make no sense. If you’re asking whether I should refrain from acting if I see somebody infringing another’s autonomy, clearly not – once again you’re mistaking relatives for absolutes.

Paul C said...

PChem: I find it astonishing that your response to the mass murder of children by the state would be to educate local citizens, lobby officials and support mothers who don’t want their children to be murdered – but at least you’re consistent.

I should clarify that I mean doing nothing proportionate to the scale of the problem. Staying with the example of Nazi Germany, I think most people would feel that what you describe above would not be a proportionate response to the state murder of millions.

My responsibility is to follow the laws in place concerning abortion set down by the state... I do strongly believe that I have a responsibility to do everything I can to remove an immoral... judicial fiat

So you believe that you have a moral responsibility to follow laws that you know to be immoral?

I do not see myself as having the authority to act as the police and intervene in those circumstances precisely because God has placed the state in authority over me.

If the state legalized infanticide and came for your son, would you see yourself as having the authority to prevent them?

Actually, in all honesty, I would probably offer to take the child. I think you can see the obvious reason why doing this for an unborn child is impossible.

Your offer to take the child is rejected. Would you intervene or not?

Once again, splitting this up.

Paul C said...

How can you possibly make a decision unless you know that it truly is going to "maximize autonomy"?

My decisions are always going to be subject to imperfect information, but I don’t see why that is grounds to stop me from acting.

Now, how does maximize autonomy lead to greater well-being? And for whom?

Individuals (generally) make decisions that improve their well-being. Maximizing autonomy means giving people a) a wider range of options for their decisions and b) more information on which to base their decisions. The result will be that individuals will be more likely to improve their well-being.

Different societies have different views on how to achieve this maximal well being and their means of doing so may very well negatively impact another society. How does this get sorted out in any meaningful way?

You live in a society in which it gets sorted out in a meaningful way – in the marketplace, the townhall, the school meeting, the workplace – so I don’t think you need me to answer this.

Again, the only way I see is it is the strongest get to make the rules.

I agree that’s the only way you see it, but that says more about you than it does about me.

However, do you really suspend judgement on all actions both present and past? I find it hard to believe that you don't think some things are simply wrong.

Of course I don’t suspend judgement, but I don’t use the terms “right” and “wrong” either.

(a) I'm not the one that thinks autonomy is the ethical standard. Its up to you to demonstrate that it either does or doesn't.

Autonomy is the free exercise of choice, and as far as I know a foetus in the womb demonstrates at best extremely limited mental or physical capacity to exercise choice.

(b) My standard is that the fetus is a person, and is ontologically no different than an adult human. I have laid out my argument for this in a post on my blog. This is alread long.

Your “ontology” is based on your religious views, which I don’t share. In the public square we have to find other grounds for reaching a resolution –naturally I think individual autonomy is the best grounds. If people don’t want to have abortions, they’re free to avoid them.

Sure, the difference is that you have unlimited autonomy in view. I would subscribe to a more limited view of autonomy.

I’ve specifically said that I believe that absolute autonomy is not possible, so I don’t have unlimited autonomy in view. You still haven’t explained how you can ensure the right to life of the individual without ensuring their autonomy, i.e. their free choice to assert their right to life.

Rhology said...

Governments are made up of individuals – why does becoming part of a government make a difference?

Some gov'ts are just one individual. ;-) And sometimes there's no gov't.
But I get your question. It goes back to the granting and assignment of God. God established the gov't to carry out societal justice and govern; He didn't assign ME.



every government that ever existed ...was in power by God’s provision?

Yes, it would seem so. It's unsavory for me to think about that, but it's the way it is. I recall that Paul was writing this while undergoing persecution from the Jewish gov't when in Judea and from the Roman gov't in other places, under Nero. In Acts, I recall that Paul was before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest ordered that he be struck on the mouth after saying sthg. Paul gets mad and...
Acts 23:3Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.’”

Many ppl blv that Paul suffered from an eye disease, BTW, so that may be why he didn't know the speaker was the high priest. So you can see how he thought of submission to the gov't in that anecdote as well.


why do you privilege the state over your church, for example?

Well, it just depends on the arena. If the state demanded, for example, that my church pay taxes like a business, we would be obliged to obey. If the state demanded, however, that we kill the babies in our nursery, however, we'd be obliged to refuse.


how does one know which authority is established?

It's pretty easy right now, in the West. But I'm not saying it's always easy or straightfwd.
How does a Christian in southern Sudan today obey these verses? Probably by figuring that his village or settlement's authority structure is that which is established by God. I don't know. It's not going to be always cut and dry, not in this fallen world, but God looks at the heart that motivates the action far more than the action itself.



So here we have a case where the laws of the land are contrary to the laws of God, and by complying with them, you are not doing good.

I *AM* complying with them. I have a choice, legally speaking, either to murder or not to murder my baby. I am exercising that choice. I am not obligated biblically to impose the death penalty based on my own authority on someone else who is a capital criminal, biblically speaking. The COMMUNITY is supposed to do that; it's always been that way. And if my community chooses not to do that, I work to change their minds and hearts, but I can only do what I can do.



-

Rhology said...

----

The desire that maximizes autonomy is the most acceptable one.

How do you know that statement is true? Why did you arbitrarily choose maximisation of autonomy over minimisation?


“Ought” is a useless word which I try to avoid using

Oh, I forgot that we've been over that. But I've not forgotten how bizarre it is that you think the concept of "ought"-ness is "useless". You're pretty much alone in the history of human thought, I should expect.



Please explain how I’m affirming the consequent, since I fail to see it.

B/c you appealed to your experience and then drew a universal from it. You have no idea what other factors could possibly be in play. You might be able to figure some of them, but certainly not all, and certainly not all the possible ones that might be beyond your reach of discovery, that might easily and crushingly overturn what you think your experience has been.


It isn’t “worthless”, as I clearly indicated when I said “it’s impossible to achieve absolute autonomy for the simple reason that we are social animals.”

Just b/c you indicated such doesn't mean it isn't worthless.


It’s up to the individual to define what “well-being” means to them.

You don't really believe that.
What if I define "well-being" as "infringing to the maximum on the maximum amount of people's autonomy as often as possible every day"?
What if I define "well-being" as "making sure that every other person's sense of well-being is completely shattered, whatever it may be"?


Since I can’t define what well-being is for other people

Actually, you have - you've assumed w/o evidence that it's strongly tied to their autonomy.



I seek to maximize their autonomy so that they might pursue it themselves.

Again, assuming w/o evidence that it's best to allow ppl to pursue 'well-being' themselves rather than expecting that well-being might come thru some other means.


I mean “universal” in the sense that Kant indicated a categorical imperative is universal

Kant's cat imper has the same flaw as your idea does - it doesn't go far enough in answering the "Why"?s.
So, why SHOULD anyone else agree with your senses of morality? You keep saying that "ought" is useless, so what you're doing is actually irrelevant when we're discussing statements of normativity and prescription, no?
IOW, you seem with one hand to say "you ought to maximise autonomy", but when pressed, you say that ought-ness is useless.
So, ought I to maximise autonomy as much as possible? Ought I to work for others' and my own well-being?



No, and everything I’ve said here indicates the opposite.

If that were true, I wouldn't've concluded that you're the grand judge.



No, and everything I’ve said here indicates the opposite.

And yet you did not deny that it would come down to your decision when I set up the situation of one person infringing on another's autonomy. You arbitrarily chose to limit one person's autonomy and not another's. You have no reason for choosing one over the other.



I don’t have the desire to infringe on anybody else’s autonomy, so these questions make no sense.

Sheesh. Let's say *I* do, then. Am *I* welcome to exercise my desire to infringe on someone's autonomy in the situation you mentioned?

PChem said...

Part 1

Staying with the example of Nazi Germany...to the state murder of millions. and then
If the state legalized infanticide and came for your son

Your comparing apples and oranges. Abortion is NOT the "state murder of millions" a la Nazi Germany, nor comparable to a situation where infanticide is legal and SOMEONE else comes for my son. In abortion, the state is facilitating the death of the children; it is not forcing women to kill their unborn children. The equilvalent would be if *I* participated in the murders in Germany or had my own son killed. These are crucial differences.

I would also like to note that on your own ethical framework, you should remain neutral towards the holocaust. That was what the Nazi viewed as the best way for them to exercise their autonomy and maximize their well being. I personally think an ethical theory that can't say that something like the holocaust is immoral and intrinisically wrong is clearly deficient.

The next few comments are lumped together and responded to in mass.

Maybe I am missing something, but I thought your ethical theory was to maximize well being by maximizing autonomy. I do not think that you have fully grasped what is meant by "whose well being is increased?" and "through what means it is increased?". Are you claiming that the goal is to maximize your personal well being and then sum over all individuals hoping that everyone has a net increase? Or do you not care about the net increase and simply hope to get your personal well being as high as possible? If this is the case, is it "for the moment" or "over a life time"?

How can you possibly know if you are maximizing well being if you have know idea what the net result of the autonomous decisions are? You said that "individuals (generally) make decisions that improve their well-being." Indeed, they typically do. However, we don't live in a vacuum. Our decisions will almost certainly have an impact on others, and those decisions could decrease their well being. Likewise, someone else's decisions, which are geared to maximize THEIR autonomy may actually result in a decrease in YOUR well being. In this sense, I do not think it is intuitive that well being will necessarily increase simply because everyone is given more options to choose from, especially if people are making choices with the overall goal of simply increasing their well being. Furthermore, I think we have all made decisions in the heat of the moment that later in life turned out to have negative consequences. In this sense, I do not see how simply allowing people more options will give them the foresight to make better decisions to improve their well being in the long run.

This is what I mean by your ethical theory being paralyzing. I suppose you could just go on making decisions that suit only your immediate interests, but that seems (a) incredibly selfish because you may be actually decreasing the well being of those around you and (b) in the long run your decisions may actually backfire on you. Avoiding either situation would require omniscience concerning all of your possible actions and their ultimate fate. Of course, you would have to integrate that against knowledge of every other contingent decision and their implications as well. I do see how moral commands from a loving and all-knowing God could provide a sufficient basis for good ethical decisions.

PChem said...

Part 2

Autonomy is the free exercise of choice, and as far as I know a foetus in the womb demonstrates at best extremely limited mental or physical capacity to exercise choice.

Do you extend this to individuals who are asleep? In those circumstances, they certainly cannot make any decisions at that moment.

Your “ontology” is based on your religious views

Indeed, they are.

In the public square we have to find other grounds for reaching a resolution –naturally I think individual autonomy is the best grounds. If people don’t want to have abortions, they’re free to avoid them.

I completely agree, IF you were able to carry the burden of weight to demonstrate that your worldview is correct and mine is false. Under my worldview, people are valuable because they have intrinsic worth assigned to them by God. This worth is not dependent any any functional characteristic that the person may or may not possess. Which worldview do you subscribe to? The issue here that only one of can be right (or we can both be wrong). So, saying that we should just all come together and let everyone do as they please is silly. I agree that if your is correct, then a "to each his own" view is fine, but under my view that would be extremely foolish.

I’ve specifically said that I believe that absolute autonomy is not possible, so I don’t have unlimited autonomy in view.

I didn't say that you believe in absolute autonomy. From what I gather from your writing, you hold that the individual should make autonomous decisions. I disagree with this. I think we are putting the emphasis on different places here. You see it as a person making an autonomous decision to exercise their right to not be killed, but I see it as someone being limited to not killing others. In this sense, their autonomy is curtailed in that they are prohibited from making an autonomous decision to kill another. Again, I would like to reiterate my core criticism of this ethic. If a person views it as in their best interest to kill another human to increase their well being, and the other other human views it in their best interest to not be killed to increase their well being, how does this get resolved without resorting to a power struggle? A pertient example might be the Iran-Israel conflict currently going on. A more hypothetical example might be a person whose uncle abused him as a child and he then desires to extract justice on his uncle by killing him.

Cheers!

PChem said...

Wow, that last post is just chop full of typing errors. I should of given it a good look over before posting.

Paul C said...

Your comparing apples and oranges. Abortion is NOT the "state murder of millions" a la Nazi Germany

In October last year, you said that “The Cambodian genocide is an exact parallel to abortion.” Please can you decide which position you take and let me know so that I can answer it?

I would also like to note that on your own ethical framework, you should remain neutral towards the holocaust.

Please don’t tell me what my attitudes “should” be. I am against the Holocaust since it involved – remembering that autonomy is not the sum total of my concerns – the destruction of the autonomy of 9 million people with no apparent benefit for anybody else.

What’s interesting to me here is that you and Rhology want to claim the moral high ground while simultaneously explaining that you have no obligation to intervene to prevent the killing of children.

At which point I invite you once again to answer my my simple question about whether you’d intervene to prevent a five-year-old from being murdered in a state where infanticide was legal. Why you haven’t answered this question, I don’t know.

Maybe I am missing something, but I thought your ethical theory was to maximize well being by maximizing autonomy.

No. My aim is to maximize autonomy. People may make choices that do or do not maximize their well-being but that is entirely out of my control.

Are you claiming that the goal is to maximize your personal well being and then sum over all individuals hoping that everyone has a net increase?

No. My goal is to maximize autonomy, not well-being, and for everybody, not personally.

How can you possibly know if you are maximizing well being if you have know idea what the net result of the autonomous decisions are?

I’m not seeking to maximize well-being, I’m seeking to maximize autonomy, so this question is meaningless.

Our decisions will almost certainly have an impact on others, and those decisions could decrease their well being.

I fail to see how this is a counter-argument, unless you’re arguing that we shouldn’t consider others in our decisions.

I do not see how simply allowing people more options will give them the foresight to make better decisions to improve their well being in the long run.

It won’t, which is why I specifically said that “Maximizing autonomy means giving people a) a wider range of options for their decisions and b) more information on which to base their decisions.”

I suppose you could just go on making decisions that suit only your immediate interests, but that seems (a) incredibly selfish because you may be actually decreasing the well being of those around you and (b) in the long run your decisions may actually backfire on you.

Yeah, that’s why I don’t make decisions that only suit my immediate interests, and neither do most other people.

I do see how moral commands from a loving and all-knowing God could provide a sufficient basis for good ethical decisions.

Even if such a God exists, I don’t. According to Rhology the moral commands of your God lead you to simply accept genocidal regimes as part of as His provision, and that doesn’t seem to be a particularly good ethical decision.

Paul C said...

Autonomy is the free exercise of choice, and as far as I know a foetus in the womb demonstrates at best extremely limited mental or physical capacity to exercise choice.

Do you extend this to individuals who are asleep? In those circumstances, they certainly cannot make any decisions at that moment.

Are you arguing that people who are asleep are the same as foetuses in terms of exercising free choice?

I completely agree, IF you were able to carry the burden of weight to demonstrate that your worldview is correct and mine is false.

Er, no. While you are welcome to try and persuade me that my beliefs are false, if we wait for that to happen before we make any decisions about our society then it’s very likely that we’ll never make any decisions. So we need grounds for reaching a resolution that sit above any of our individual views. I think freedom of choice is a good starting point, but if you have an alternative proposal I’m all ears.

This worth is not dependent any any functional characteristic that the person may or may not possess.

This is false, since they all possess the functional characteristic of “being a person”.

Which worldview do you subscribe to?

I subscribe to the worldview that says that the concept of “worldviews” is utter bullshit.

So, saying that we should just all come together and let everyone do as they please is silly.

Since I haven’t said that everyone should just do as they please, I don’t care.

From what I gather from your writing, you hold that the individual should make autonomous decisions. I disagree with this.

So you think individuals *shouldn’t* make autonomous decisions?

You see it as a person making an autonomous decision to exercise their right to not be killed, but I see it as someone being limited to not killing others.

No. I see it as a person defending their autonomy, or defending the autonomy of somebody else. Presumably you think it is justified to kill somebody who is trying to kill you, and this is identical.

If a person views it as in their best interest to kill another human to increase their well being, and the other other human views it in their best interest to not be killed to increase their well being, how does this get resolved without resorting to a power struggle?

It might not get resolved without resorting to a power struggle; but since all human relations involve power, that doesn’t really tell us much, and the real question is which side of the struggle we come down on. You and Rhology, for example, side with the most powerful in the form of the government.

Paul C said...

God established the gov't to carry out societal justice and govern; He didn't assign ME.

Yes, I get that, but my question is: what changes about you when you join the government that suddenly grants you authority? Also, is there no difference between the dictator who seizes control of a country in a coup, the local politician who wins a minor election and the village elder in a rural area?

Yes, it would seem so. It's unsavory for me to think about that, but it's the way it is.

a. All governments are established by God’s provision.
b. Some governments go on to carry out genocide.
c. Therefore genocide is carried out by God’s provision.

If the state demanded, for example, that my church pay taxes like a business, we would be obliged to obey. If the state demanded, however, that we kill the babies in our nursery, however, we'd be obliged to refuse.

a. You pay taxes to the state.
b. The state uses your taxes to kill babies.
c. Therefore you pay for babies to be killed.

I have a choice, legally speaking, either to murder or not to murder my baby. I am exercising that choice. I am not obligated biblically to impose the death penalty based on my own authority on someone else who is a capital criminal, biblically speaking.

Indeed. However you seem to be arguing that not only do you have no obligation to impose the death penalty but that you also have no obligation to prevent anybody else from killing somebody.

The same questions to you as to PChem: you’re in a room where a man is about to kill his five-year-old son, in a state where infanticide is legal. Do you stop him?

Paul C said...

How do you know that statement is true? Why did you arbitrarily choose maximisation of autonomy over minimisation?

I’m expressing a preference, so “truth” is irrelevant. I already gave you three reasons why I chose it.

B/c you appealed to your experience and then drew a universal from it.

No. I said that my experience confirmed what I’d concluded from my nature and my reasoning.

You have no idea what other factors could possibly be in play... [some] might easily and crushingly overturn what you think your experience has been.

I agree that new evidence may cause me to revise my conclusions, but until that evidence comes to light I fail to see how that affects the validity of those conclusions.

Just b/c you indicated such doesn't mean it isn't worthless.

The fact that I acknowledged the issue *before you raised it* should give you a clue that I have factored it into my thinking.

You don't really believe [“It’s up to the individual to define what “well-being” means to them.”]

Yes, I really do.

What if I define "well-being" as "infringing to the maximum on the maximum amount of people's autonomy as often as possible every day"?

As I have said, my aim is to maximize autonomy rather than well-being. Since you are seeking to infringe on other people’s autonomy, I cannot accept your actions regardless of whether they are maximizing your well-being or not.

Actually, you have - you've assumed w/o evidence that it's strongly tied to their autonomy.

Previously you accused me of a fallacy of induction - induction being famously based on evidence. Now you’re accusing me of not having evidence. Could you make up your mind which argument you’re making and let me know, so I can answer it?

Again, assuming w/o evidence that it's best to allow ppl to pursue 'well-being' themselves rather than expecting that well-being might come thru some other means.

This is more interesting. What “other means” do you have in mind?

Kant's cat imper has the same flaw as your idea does - it doesn't go far enough in answering the "Why"?s.

Maybe it doesn’t go far enough in answering the “why” for you, but I don’t care about your satisfaction, only your autonomy.

So, why SHOULD anyone else agree with your senses of morality?

There’s no “should” involved. They are welcome to agree with it if they find it reasonable.

you seem with one hand to say "you ought to maximise autonomy", but when pressed, you say that ought-ness is useless.

No. I’ve never said that you ought to maximize autonomy. I’ve said that autonomy is a value that I seek to maximize for myself and others.

If that were true, I wouldn't've concluded that you're the grand judge.

Please point to a single thing that I’ve written here that implies that I believe that I’m the “grand judge”.

And yet you did not deny that it would come down to your decision when I set up the situation of one person infringing on another's autonomy.

Well, it “would come down to my decision” in the sense that I was the person responding to your question. I’m not sure that’s a particularly strong counter-argument.

Am *I* welcome to exercise my desire to infringe on someone's autonomy in the situation you mentioned?

As I said right at the beginning, you are welcome to exercise those desires as long as they don't infringe the autonomy of others.

Rhology said...

Hi Paul,

I'd suggest you differentiate your comments. Like saying "PChem," before you address him.

what changes about you when you join the government that suddenly grants you authority?

Nothing changes about me. The gov't is the institution that has that authority.



Also, is there no difference between the dictator who seizes control of a country in a coup, the local politician who wins a minor election and the village elder in a rural area?

In this limited question, yes, they have more authority than I as an indiv.



a. All governments are established by God’s provision.
b. Some governments go on to carry out genocide.
c. Therefore genocide is carried out by God’s provision.


EVERYthing is part of God's eternal decree and plan. You don't make the necessary distinction between direct and indirect causes, and all that, though.
I don't see where your moral stance gives you the wherewithal to criticise that. After all, the genociders were simply maximising their autonomy.



a. You pay taxes to the state.
b. The state uses your taxes to kill babies.
c. Therefore you pay for babies to be killed.


Sadly, yes. Yet this is a question of intention as well, which you're leaving out.



you also have no obligation to prevent anybody else from killing somebody.

Sure I do, but not when it's against the law to do so.


you’re in a room where a man is about to kill his five-year-old son, in a state where infanticide is legal.

I don't know, that's a good question. You're asking me what I would do - I'd probably stop him. But if that means I would go to jail, etc, and then the father would just kill his son later, and my own family would suffer with me in jail, I should think I'd be justified in not acting.
1) Abortionists love to appeal to the "what if the 1% of cases comes up?" rather than the 99%. You exhibit the same behavior here and it's far from intellectual honesty.
2) Stumping the pro-life chump is a long way from defending the morality and propriety of the baby-murder camp.
3) The father in question would just be maximising his autonomy, so on your own position there's no answer either.



I’m expressing a preference, so “truth” is irrelevant. I already gave you three reasons why I chose it.

You must've missed where I questioned your 3 reasons.



You have no idea what other factors could possibly be in play... [some] might easily and crushingly overturn what you think your experience has been.
I agree that new evidence may cause me to revise my conclusions


Which doesn't answer the challenge at all. You might as well be a 15th century flat-earth geocentrist, since those positions matched the info that guy had. I guess he was right to be a flat-earth geocentrist.



You don't really believe [“It’s up to the individual to define what “well-being” means to them.”]
Yes, I really do.


And where's the evidence for that? (Since you like 'evidence' so much.)



Since you are seeking to infringe on other people’s autonomy

So are you - the baby's. And the murderer's and the thief's.



Previously you accused me of a fallacy of induction - induction being famously based on evidence. Now you’re accusing me of not having evidence. Could you make up your mind which argument you’re making and let me know, so I can answer it?

ALL of my arguments are internal critiques of your position. You need to answer all of them.

Rhology said...

What “other means” do you have in mind?

By means, say, of another person.



There’s no “should” involved. They are welcome to agree with it if they find it reasonable.

So it's not true that anyone, you included, should believe what you are professing here.



I’ve said that autonomy is a value that I seek to maximize for myself and others.

Since this is a question of prescription and obligation, and you have no ought-value to offer, anyone is justified in ignoring it.
Why are you in this combox again?



Please point to a single thing that I’ve written here that implies that I believe that I’m the “grand judge”.

That you have proposed that you'd prefer one person's autonomy over another's. I said that specifically.
And then you say: you are welcome to exercise those desires as long as they don't infringe the autonomy of others.

Said the Grand Judge.
So is it true that I should exercise those desires as long as they don't infringe the autonomy of others? SHOULD I refrain from exercising those desires when they infringe the autonomy of others. Please give an argument why I should, given your statements. If it's not true that I should and shouldn't, respectively, please explain why your statement isn't totally meaningless.

Paul C said...

I will of course try to post a full response in the next day or two. However it seems you've returned to my initial point:

Stumping the pro-life chump is a long way from defending the morality and propriety of the baby-murder camp.

You're still stuck on "baby-murder", obviously. Murder is by definition unlawful killing, but here you've been arguing that you don't physically stop abortion because it’s currently a lawful act. I'm just wondering which you believe - is it lawful, or is it unlawful?

Rhology said...

Don't forget that when I say "murder", I mean "unJUSTIFIED killing", not unlawful killing.

Paul C said...

And who decides whether a killing is justified?

Rhology said...

God.

Paul C said...

So God is absolutely opposed to killing babies?

Rhology said...

God is opposed to humans committing unjustified killings ie murder, yes.

To forestall what you're probably going to say next, and as we've discussed before, see here.

PChem said...

Paul C,

In October last year, you said that “The Cambodian genocide is an exact parallel to abortion.” Please can you decide which position you take and let me know so that I can answer it?

Yes, I did say that, and "exact" is too strong of a description. It is a parallel in that both situations involve a group of individuals not being classified as human and then exterminated. Albeit, the group of humans and the criteria for humanness vary in the situations. They differ in that in one situation (e.g., Cambodia, Germany, etc.) the government was directly involved in the killings, but in abortion the government facilitates the killing. Both are morally wrong and I condemn them. However, the circumstances involved necessitate different responses.

Please don’t tell me what my attitudes “should” be. I am against the Holocaust since it involved – remembering that autonomy is not the sum total of my concerns – the destruction of the autonomy of 9 million people with no apparent benefit for anybody else.

If maximizing autonomy is your ethical guide, then it appears you are being inconsistent in condemning the holocaust. At most, it seems that holocaust should be viewed neutrally; it was just something that happened when a group of Germans decided to exercise their autonomy. To be honest, your comment left me really confused. I thought you have been arguing that maximizing autonomy is your core ethical standard, but this seems to indicate that autonomy is not the only criteria. Instead, these comments seem to indicate that autonomy should be maximized in addition to having a measurable benefit ("autonomy is not the sum total of my concerns"). Could you explain what your ethical theory is since maximal autonomy is not it?

What’s interesting to me here is that you and Rhology want to claim the moral high ground while simultaneously explaining that you have no obligation to intervene to prevent the killing of children. At which point I invite you once again to answer my my simple question about whether you’d intervene to prevent a five-year-old from being murdered in a state where infanticide was legal. Why you haven’t answered this question, I don’t know.

Three things here. First, I did answer this. I would offer to take the child, beyond that I am not sure how I would react. Second, how would you react under this scenario? At best, I can tell maximizing autonomy would prohibit any action to save the 5-year old too. Third, I am claiming that maximizing autonomy is not a useful ethical guide. I suppose in that sense you can say that I claim the moral high ground, but it is because I view this theory as insufficient.

PChem said...

No. My aim is to maximize autonomy. People may make choices that do or do not maximize their well-being but that is entirely out of my control. and later No. My goal is to maximize autonomy, not well-being, and for everybody, not personally. Other comments followed. I am subsuming them into these two summary quotes.

Yes, you did state this, but you then immediately tied it to well-being. Let me rephrase the questions/statements in the context of autonomy, because I do not see how they have been addressed.

I don't think you have grasped what I was saying before. You are claiming this is your ethical theory but when pressed you seem to back off of it. For example, earlier you said that the holocaust is condemnable for reasons other than maximizing autonomy. Here, you seem to argue that we don't really need to know the overall impact of our actions nor their long term effects. Either your decisions maximize autonomy or they don't. I suppose I fail to see the utility of this theory if we disregard the three things I noted above and then import additional unspecified criteria.

You still have to sum over all individuals to know if autonomy is being truly maximized. Otherwise, your decisions may result in an overall decrease in autonomy for the whole. I think it is impossible to perform the sum because (1) our decisions necessarily impact the decisions others make, (2) your decisions now will impact you over the course of time, and (3) the sum is simply too large to handle. On the first, your exercise in autonomy may limit the decisions others may make, thus curtailing their autonomy. These factors have to be known to be sure that you are indeed maximizing autonomy for all. Certainly we always plan for the best, but how can you know that your decisions now will maximize autonomy in the long run? I suppose you can just shoot from the hip and hope for the best but that seems reckless.

I'll get to the other stuff later.

Paul C said...

God is opposed to humans committing unjustified killings ie murder, yes.

Since God is the one who determines whether a killing is unjustified, what you're saying here is that God doesn't approve of killing that he doesn't approve of. Two further questions spring to mind:

1. Isn't your argument here circular?
2. If your logic holds, would you agree that God would approve of killing that he approves of, whether it's killing a baby or otherwise?

Rhology said...

Right, God doesn't approve of killing that He doesn't approve of.
1. Circular to what? Circling back to the command of God? Certainly, just as yours circles back to self-reference; that is, to nothing, to no prescriptive power.
2. Yes, of course God approves of killing that He approves of. And He puts babies to death all the time.

Paul C said...

Longer responses to yourself and PChem are imminent. In the meantime, thank you for clarifying that you don't believe that killing babies is immoral in itself; you only believe that it's immoral when God says so. Would it be fair to say that you believe that nothing is immoral in itself, but only because God says so?

Rhology said...

Yes.

Paul C said...

So you don't think that the genocide committed by the Nazis was immoral in itself, but only because it wasn't in line with God's wishes?

Rhology said...

That is correct.

I'd add that it's always been my contention that, on consistent atheism, the Nazi genocide was neither moral nor immoral. Period.

And on your moral system, there's no way to tell apart who gets to exercise maximal autonomy and who doesn't, beyond Paul C's choice as Grand Vizier, so you have the same problem.

Paul C said...

So you think that if the genocide committed by the Nazis had been in line with God's wishes, it would be moral?

Rhology said...

Yes, and immoral to dissent.

Paul C said...

So if killing your own child was in line with God's wishes, it would be moral?

Rhology said...

In your hypothetical, yes.

I can't imagine how that would ever occur or how I would know that God had commanded that (if we're talking about a young child).

Paul C said...

So in the “is-ought” discussion, here are some of your positions:

- You ought to not physically intervene when a 5-year-old child is being murdered by one of their parents right in front of you (and I assume you would be consistent, so that would include a situation where your child was about to be murdered by your wife).
- You ought to obey any government you live under no matter what their policies involve, even if those policies lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent children (as long as you didn’t have to do any of the killing yourself, because that would be wrong).
- You ought to stand aside as the Nazi government transports millions of innocent people to the gas chambers, because you’re not entirely certain if God approves of the Holocaust or not (but if he does and you try to stop it, that would be immoral).

It's an interesting set of positions to hold.

Paul C said...

Rhology:

Nothing changes about me. The gov't is the institution that has that authority.

Government is made up of individuals. What I’m asking is how becoming part of a government suddenly imbues you with that authority.

EVERYthing is part of God's eternal decree and plan. You don't make the necessary distinction between direct and indirect causes, and all that, though.

A “plan” means that events are specifically directed to an end. That end might be a good one, but it still means that God treats people as means to an end (and is responsible for the Holocaust, directly or otherwise).

I don't see where your moral stance gives you the wherewithal to criticise that. After all, the genociders were simply maximising their autonomy.

First, I didn't criticize it, I merely pointed it out. Second, how does committing genocide maximize their autonomy?

Sadly, yes. Yet this is a question of intention as well, which you're leaving out.

a. God orders you to obey the state.
b. Therefore you pay taxes to the state.
c. The state uses your taxes to kill babies.
d. Therefore God orders you to kill babies.

Feel free to point out which of these steps is inaccurate.

“1) Abortionists love to appeal to the "what if the 1% of cases comes up?" rather than the 99%. You exhibit the same behavior here and it's far from intellectual honesty.”

I think you’ll find that it’s philosophers rather than “abortionists” who like to do that, because it exposes problems that might not be visible in 99% of cases. It isn’t intellectually dishonest, since I’m not pretending that all cases are like this. Also I seem to remember you have used this approach previously with your hypothetical situation of “what would you say to the tribal dude who rapes young girls”. So if I’m intellectually dishonest...

“2) Stumping the pro-life chump is a long way from defending the morality and propriety of the baby-murder camp.”

I never claimed that it was.

“3) The father in question would just be maximising his autonomy, so on your own position there's no answer either.”

How would the father be maximizing his autonomy?

Which doesn't answer the challenge at all. You might as well be a 15th century flat-earth geocentrist, since those positions matched the info that guy had. I guess he was right to be a flat-earth geocentrist.

Can you clarify what “challenge” you think you’ve made? As far as I can tell, you merely stated the obvious – that people draw conclusions based on the information that they have.

And where's the evidence for that?

You want evidence that I really believe that it’s up to the individual to define what “well-being” means to them? Beyond me telling you repeatedly that’s what I believe, it’s difficult to see what evidence I can provide in a blog comment box.

Paul C said...

Rhology (cont.)

So are you - the baby's.

Autonomy is a relative not an absolute value, and I believe that a foetus has little if any autonomy, for reasons I’ve explained in my answers to PChem.

ALL of my arguments are internal critiques of your position. You need to answer all of them.

Since my position is that I have evidence but I don’t rely solely rely on that evidence, I fail to see how an accusation that I don’t have any evidence and that I rely on it too much constitutes an “internal critique” of my position.

So it's not true that anyone, you included, should believe what you are professing here.

First, I don’t see what there is to disbelieve. I’ve said that autonomy is a value that I seek to maximize, and explained why I hold that position. Which part of that don’t you believe?

Second, people should believe it if they find the argument compelling. What other reason would they have for believing?

Since this is a question of prescription and obligation, and you have no ought-value to offer, anyone is justified in ignoring it.

For you it’s a question of prescription and obligation. For me it’s a question of enabling people to make better decisions. My argument is that there are no “ought-values” of the sort you’re looking for; the question you should be asking yourself is why you are looking for “ought-values” in the first place.

That you have proposed that you'd prefer one person's autonomy over another's. I said that specifically. And then you say: you are welcome to exercise those desires as long as they don't infringe the autonomy of others.

When I say “you are welcome”, it’s merely a turn of phrase; I’m not suggesting that your actions are determined by my permission. You have no other evidence that I’m setting myself up as a judge.

So is it true that I should exercise those desires as long as they don't infringe the autonomy of others? SHOULD I refrain from exercising those desires when they infringe the autonomy of others.

There is no should or shouldn’t. The is-ought distinction is a semantic relic rather than a philosophical distinction. If you seek to maximize utility, you will avoid infringing the autonomy of others as much as possible. There may be occasions when safeguarding your own autonomy or the autonomy of others requires you to infringe somebody else’s autonomy. This doesn’t defeat the principle for two reasons: first, because autonomy is a relative rather than an absolute value, and second because there are other values in play (for example, compassion).

Paul C said...

PChem
Yes, I did say that, and "exact" is too strong of a description. It is a parallel in that both situations involve a group of individuals not being classified as human and then exterminated.
I certainly classify foetuses are human, and I assume that many others do as well; and foetuses are not being systematically exterminated. Where is the parallel, exactly?
... it appears you are being inconsistent in condemning the holocaust. At most, it seems that holocaust should be viewed neutrally; it was just something that happened when a group of Germans decided to exercise their autonomy.
They exercised their autonomy by destroying the autonomy of 9 million others. If autonomy is a value that you seek to maximize, the destruction of the autonomy of 9 million others is clearly not neutral.
I thought you have been arguing that maximizing autonomy is your core ethical standard, but this seems to indicate that autonomy is not the only criteria. Instead, these comments seem to indicate that autonomy should be maximized in addition to having a measurable benefit ("autonomy is not the sum total of my concerns"). Could you explain what your ethical theory is since maximal autonomy is not it?
I’m a moral skeptic who does not believe that objective moral truths exist and is uncomfortable using the language of morality due to its history as a means of social control. I define “morality” as the continual negotiation within and between collectives in which individuals seek to position themselves to best advantage. I pursue autonomy as a prerequisite for this process of negotiation, based on a Rawlsian original position in which I do not know in advance what my specific interests will be. Autonomy is a relative and not absolute value; I cannot and do not seek to control the choices made by others, but infringing on somebody’s autonomy appears acceptable where they threaten to infringe the autonomy of others.
In the specific case of abortion: I don’t like it and I would like to minimize its occurrence, but I do not feel as strongly as you do since I believe the foetus to be human but not to possess much (if any) autonomy. The best way to minimize its occurrence is to maximize the autonomy of women, in particular specifically by educating them about the use of and providing access to contraceptives and generally giving them a wider range of options in their lives in which accession to the sexual demands of men and the social demands of child-bearing define their choices less.

Paul C said...

PChem (cont.)

First, I did answer this. I would offer to take the child, beyond that I am not sure how I would react.

I realise that you’re not sure, and that’s exactly why I’m pressing you on it. Rhology would stand to one side while a child was being murdered in front of him – do you think that’s morally acceptable?

Second, how would you react under this scenario? At best, I can tell maximizing autonomy would prohibit any action to save the 5-year old too.

I’d physically stop the person attempting to kill the 5-year-old, killing them if absolutely necessary.

Third, I am claiming that maximizing autonomy is not a useful ethical guide.

I never claimed that maximising autonomy was a useful ethical guide; in fact, I think I said at the beginning that I am a moral skeptic. However autonomy is a prerequisite for any other moral values that you choose, and I want to maximize autonomy so that you can make those choices. You may make choices that I disagree with, and I have no control over that; you may make choices that diminish your well-being, and I have no control over that; but without autonomy you wouldn’t even have the choice.

You still have to sum over all individuals to know if autonomy is being truly maximized. Otherwise, your decisions may result in an overall decrease in autonomy for the whole. I think it is impossible to perform the sum because (1) our decisions necessarily impact the decisions others make, (2) your decisions now will impact you over the course of time, and (3) the sum is simply too large to handle. On the first, your exercise in autonomy may limit the decisions others may make, thus curtailing their autonomy.

An “overall decrease in autonomy for the whole” is meaningless since autonomy is an individual value (although I might be open to counter-argument). You don’t work out autonomy in an abstract mathematical way but on a case-by-case basis, and a lack of omniscience is no barrier to action. Certainly we make mistakes, but we can always learn from those mistakes; we can’t retrofit our decisions to suit our later values, but we can think more carefully about those decisions.

Certainly we always plan for the best, but how can you know that your decisions now will maximize autonomy in the long run?

What maximizes autonomy in the short, medium and long run is people having the widest practicable range of choices and the information necessary to make good decisions between those choices. I find it hard to understand why you think this is difficult to work out in any given situation.

Rhology said...

Given the utter irrationality of your own method for discerning moral/immoral actions, I have to admit I'm not too worried about your critiques.


You ought to not physically intervene when a 5-year-old child is being murdered by one of their parents right in front of you

Where did you get that? I certainly don't agree.



You ought to obey any government you live under no matter what their policies involve

I have trouble seeing this as anythg other than an intentional strawman. Sorry, I've never said anythg like that.



You ought to stand aside as the Nazi government transports millions of innocent people to the gas chambers

...And you just made that up. Wow, that was a fail, in all points.
And of course, even if any of those were true of MY position, prove that yours consistently provides a better option. Show us how your answers to these questions do not lead to selective maximisation of autonomy (certainly not overall maximisation for everyone) based on whatever you decide.



Government is made up of individuals. What I’m asking is how becoming part of a government suddenly imbues you with that authority.

I don't know how else to express the position that God has endued the gov't with certain authorities and responsibilities, that indivs don't have. Don't overthink it.



A “plan” means that events are specifically directed to an end

Quite. Which I believe.



That end might be a good one, but it still means that God treats people as means to an end (and is responsible for the Holocaust, directly or otherwise).

Prove that's an immoral thing on God's part. I don't share your unbelief or irrational morality, so...



Second, how does committing genocide maximize their autonomy?

It maximises the autonomy of THOSE COMMITTING THE GENOCIDE, on a tautological basis - it's what they wanted to do and so they exercised their autonomy.
Your position starts breaking down whenever ppl want power over other ppl. Unfortunately, that's what most moralities are designed to prevent, so yours is patently useless.


a. God orders you to obey the state.
b. Therefore you pay taxes to the state.
c. The state uses your taxes to kill babies.
d. Therefore God orders you to kill babies.


??
Did you forget something? Yep - c2.
c2. The state IMMORALLY uses taxes to kill babies, contra what God said.
So your d. doesn't follow. It's hard to see how that was even a good try on your part. Certainly not in good faith, since you're obviously in a position to know c2.


Also I seem to remember you have used this approach previously with your hypothetical situation of “what would you say to the tribal dude who rapes young girls”.

The situations are not analogous at all, sorry. I am questioning making laws, you're questioning my use of internal critique to show the irrationality and idiocy of a given moral framework. How it can't answer questions.


How would the father be maximizing his autonomy?

There's nothing to prove here. It's a tautology - he is maximising his autonomy b/c he wants to do Action X.


Can you clarify what “challenge” you think you’ve made?

Sure, you'd questioned why I said that you're affirming the consequent and committing a logical fallacy. B/c you appealed to your experience and then drew a universal from it. That's the challenge.


You want evidence that I really believe that it’s up to the individual to define what “well-being” means to them?

Yes. This is another part of the internal critique of your position. You prize evidence very highly, constantly ask for it (if memory serves), and rely on it to discern truth. So I want you to apply it across the board.
If you don't have evidence, how do you know it's true?

Rhology said...

Beyond me telling you repeatedly that’s what I believe, it’s difficult to see what evidence I can provide in a blog comment box.

I'm asking you to SUBSTANTIATE your comments. If you can't, maybe you should drop it and concede the point. And explain how I can do it but you can't, in a blog combox.



Autonomy is a relative not an absolute value, and I believe that a foetus has little if any autonomy, for reasons I’ve explained in my answers to PChem.

Which is nothing more than an arbitrary beg of the question in your favor.


Since my position is that I have evidence but I don’t rely solely rely on that evidence

OK, then how do you know what's true?


I’ve said that autonomy is a value that I seek to maximize, and explained why I hold that position. Which part of that don’t you believe?

The part where you imply that someone else ought to hold that position. Else, why criticise the positions that someone else (like me or PChem) hold?



people should believe it if they find the argument compelling.

What is your argument that ppl SHOULD believe anything for which they find a compelling argument?


For you it’s a question of prescription and obligation. For me it’s a question of enabling people to make better decisions.

1) That's selective of you. For you, SOMEtimes it's a question of prescription, but you go away from that when convenient. You used "should" above.
2) Let the reader judge whether this even approaches the commonsensical definition of morality.

See, this is why atheists should not involve themselves in moral convos. Ever.

If you seek to maximize utility, you will avoid infringing the autonomy of others as much as possible.

That's just the thing!
1) You give no reason to think that I *SHOULD* maximise "utility" (you snuck in a new word, which you've not defined).
2) Or autonomy.
3) And you can't explain or apparently understand how my carrying out my desires to have power over someone else IS maximising my autonomy.

PChem said...

asleep...exercising free choice?

I am saying they are not the same as a fully awake person in terms of exercising free choice. Namely, they exercise no choices at that time. In this sense they are similar to a fetus but not identical--both have a diminished capacity for exercising choice.

we need grounds for reaching a resolution...above any of our individual views.

As if someone's views are not codified into law. This stuff doesn't sit outside of a person's view of the world, but it is deeply entrenched in one. You are espousing a relativistic view of the world and claiming that we should default to that mode until we settle these problems. I see no reason to give special status to non-theistic views simply because they are non-theistic. In the context of abortion, I argue that we should default to a position that hedges to protecting life at all stages until we can demonstrate that it is definately NOT life. This seems like Rhology's oft cited claim that we shouldn't shoot into the bushes until we know it is not a human rustling the branches.

...functional characteristic of “being a person”.

Perhaps you missed what I am saying. I am claiming that "being a person" is something that a human has as part of its ontology. In this regard, a human cannot exist apart from "being a person," and thus it is impossible for that trait to be functional in the sense I am using the word.

So you think individuals *shouldn’t* make autonomous decisions?

Yes

Where is the parallel, exactly?

With regard to life, a fetus is defined by our government differently from an adult or even a child. It only possesses a "right to life" if the mother of the child chooses it to have one. This is categorically different from a five year old who is granted a right to life irrespective of the parent's choice. Because of this definition, millions of children are allowed to be exterminated with the approval of the federal government. In this regard, it does parallel regimes where one class of human life is defined in some fashion as sub-human or in another way lacking characteristics that make it fully human and then permiting the killing of those individuals.

limited capacity for autonomous decision making

Indeed, they probably do have a limited capacity for autonomous decision making, but so does an infant. In fact, a young child does as well. But all three, the child, infant and fetus, represent great capacity to develop into adults who can make a broad range of autonomous decisions. It seems to me that if you truly want to maximize autonomy, you would not favor killing future decision makers. The Center for Bioethical Reform estimates approximately 42 million abortions occur worldwide per year and about 1.3 million per year in the US. How does this not represent a reduction in overall autonomous decision makers since those individuals at least possess the potential to make autonomous decisions under your ethic? At the very least, please explain how the limited capacity to make autonomous decisions should allow a mother to kill her unborn child but not her two-month old infant. Why couldn't a parent kill that child because it too exhibits a limited capacity to make autonomous decisions? This is what I was driving at with the sleep thing, but it hits the point more squarely.

PChem said...

They exercised their autonomy by destroying the autonomy of 9 million others. If autonomy is a value that you seek to maximize, the destruction of the autonomy of 9 million others is clearly not neutral.

So now you are arguing that it is the destruction of 9 million others' autonomy that makes it wrong? I'm sorry, but I am finding this very confusing here since you just reversed yourself. Just before you said autonomy was not the sum total of your concerns and used that to defend your claim that the holocaust is wrong. I realize in the next paragraph that you describe yourself as a moral skeptic, but these statements seem to reflect some level of cognitive dissonance to me. How can you say that you are against the holocaust when it is simply one group of people exercising their autonomy? Granted their autonomous decision did eliminate the autonomy of a large number of people, but all decisions necessarily affect others. Like I said before, nothing happens in a vacuum.

Maximizing autonomy seems to require some meaningful way of gauging how one person's (or a group of people's) decisions impacts the overall autonomy for everyone over the long haul. I find it strange that you claim maximizing autonomy is a requirement, yet you are not bothered that it is impossible to effectively use this requirement to make a decision because the needed information is either lacking or too cumbersome to handle. It seems to me that to be consistent with your moral skepticism you should at most say the holocaust is simply something that happened and there is NOTHING intrinisically wrong with it because there is NOTHING to objectively measure this action against.

As an aside, 9 million people had their autonomy taken from them through death. Would the holocaust then become "moral" if 9 million + 1 Nazis could be found who exercised their autonomy to carry out such an act? If not why?

infringing on somebody’s autonomy

I don't see how any decision won't affect the autonomy of someone else. In this sense, you are infringing on the autonomy of somebody with nearly every decision you make since decisions are not decoupled from each other. Even mundane, seemingly harmless, decisions will affect the immediate decisions available to others in the sphere of influence...threatening or otherwise.

maximize the autonomy of women

I disagree; the best way to minimize its occurrence is to make it illegal. More options does not necessarily equal better decision making. If you deem otherwise, then please provide an argument for it.

I never claimed that maximising autonomy was a useful ethical guide.

See my comments above about the Nazis because you do seem to vascillate on this some. I see how you say that maximizing autonomy will not result in a universal moral code that is adopted by all individuals. You want people to adopt whatever code they choose, whether or not you adopt it. The central problem is that you make moral decisions for yourself and then claim that others who choose otherwise are incorrect. For example, the Nazi thing above and the fact that you are here arguing that my view of abortion is flawed. To put it another way, I am not seeing any consistency. To make your views binding on other people, they need the force of objectivity. However, you deny that moral objectivity exists.

PChem said...

I find it hard to understand why you think this is difficult to work out in any given situation.

This is why it doesn't make sense to me. The claim is we maximize autonomy for all people because this will (1) give them more choices and (2) more information. If we do this, people generally increase their well-being. I am further told that we don't have to concern ourselves with figuring out how our decisions affect the autonomy of other people because such an endeavor isn't mathematical in nature, and it ultimately doesn't matter since autonomy isn't a character of the whole. We also really don't care what happens in the long run (apparently), possibly for the same reasons.
Curiously at the end, I am told that maximizing autonomy is not to be construed as a moral guide.

1. I see no reason to accept that having more autonomy will provide more information. Relating the ability to gather information to the choice that may be made is flawed.
2. I see no reason to believe that having more choices will increase well-being.
3. If each individual's autonomy is maximized with respect to each other, then the autonomy of the whole will be maximized as well. And, I think this is what we would be after anyway if maximal autonomy leads to greater well being.
4. Unfortunately, it seems impossible to maximize autonomy without considering how my decisions impact the decisions of other people. So, yes it does matter. In this sense the goal of maximizing autonomy paralyzes decision making because we do not have the appropriate knowledge of the contigencies involved.
5. Ignoring this problem because we do not have the information or are not intelligent enough is shortsighted because we may be making decisions that actually reduce autonomy.
6. Ignoring the long term consequences is foolish. Sure, we learn from our mistakes, but the goal with this approach is to enhance well being by maximizing autonomy. I argue that if we are in the business of maximizing autonomy then it should be over the long haul. The fact that we can't actually make this assessment counts against this methodology.
7. If maximizing autonomy is not a guide, then what have we been talking about this whole time? It sure looks like a guide to me.

Paul, I've really enjoyed this. I have one last question to explore with you. It seems that you view decision making in a non-deterministic fashion. I am supposing that you hold to a naturalistic view. If so, I am curious to know how you reconcile the two.

Paul C said...

You ought to not physically intervene when a 5-year-old child is being murdered by one of their parents right in front of you.

Where did you get that? I certainly don't agree.

“*I* may not murder a baby, but I have no command to forcefully intervene when someone else is legally going to murder THEIR baby.”

In the scenario I presented, murdering children is legal and you state that you have no obligation to intervene. When pressed you then say:

“I'd probably stop him. But if that means I would go to jail, etc, and then the father would just kill his son later, and my own family would suffer with me in jail, I should think I'd be justified in not acting.”

So any obligation you do feel is clearly not a moral obligation, since you would “be justified in not acting” for purely practical (and not moral) reasons.

I have trouble seeing this as anythg other than an intentional strawman. Sorry, I've never said anythg like that.

“God has instituted the judicial system and the laws the way they are at this time in this nation, and has commanded me to live under those laws except when they conflict with God's law.”

Current government policies on abortion clearly conflict with God’s law, but you continue to live under that government. Therefore the fact that you find government policy X in conflict with God's law does not cause you to stop obeying that government.

You ought to stand aside as the Nazi government transports millions of innocent people to the gas chambers

“*I* may not murder a baby, but I have no command to forcefully intervene when someone else is legally going to murder THEIR baby.”

Substitute “Jew” / “Gypsy” / “Communist” / “Homosexual” / “Mentally Ill” for baby in this sentence.

Show us how your answers to these questions do not lead to selective maximisation of autonomy (certainly not overall maximisation for everyone) based on whatever you decide.

My answers to those questions are: that I would intervene to stop the murder of a child, since murder destroys their autonomy; that I would not feel obliged to obey a government whose laws explicitly minimized the autonomy of the individual; and that I would not stand by as the state destroyed the autonomy of millions of innocent people. None of these answers lead to selective maximization of autonomy.

Paul C said...

I don't know how else to express the position that God has endued the gov't with certain authorities and responsibilities, that indivs don't have.

I understand that you believe that government has an authority that individuals don’t. Can I declare myself the government of my village and magically acquire this authority? If not, why not?

Prove that's an immoral thing on God's part.

I’m not claiming that it’s moral or immoral, particularly since I don’t use those terms. I’m just making your position explicit, that God treats humans as means to an end.

It maximises the autonomy of THOSE COMMITTING THE GENOCIDE, on a tautological basis - it's what they wanted to do and so they exercised their autonomy.

You’re conflating “exercising” and “maximising” - perhaps you should consider the difference between those two. I’m talking about maximizing, so how did murdering millions of innocent people increase the range of choices available to the Nazis? You do exactly the same thing with the father killing his child – how does killing the child maximize autonomy between the two individuals involved, if one of them has their autonomy completely destroyed?

Your position starts breaking down whenever ppl want power over other ppl.

Having power over somebody else means removing their autonomy. Since my position is that I seek to maximize autonomy, it does not break down; it provides a framework that works against those who would seek power over others. Obviously that defence is quite useless against determined violence; but so is any moral framework.

c2. The state IMMORALLY uses taxes to kill babies, contra what God said. So your d. doesn't follow.

Now we have:

a. The state uses your taxes to pay for the killing of babies.
b. God orders you to pay taxes to the state to pay for its activities.
c. Therefore God orders you to pay the killing of babies

Paul C said...

B/c you appealed to your experience and then drew a universal from it. That's the challenge.

Since I’m not appealing to my experience (as I have pointed out, my experience is merely evidentiary support to the conclusions I had drawn through reason) and since I agree that new evidence could quite easily cause me to reconsider those conclusions, I am not affirming the consequent.

This is another part of the internal critique of your position.

The evidence is that I am telling you that this is what I believe. I can point to the evidence of my own actions, but you have no access to those, so you’ll have to rely on my words.

The part where you imply that someone else ought to hold that position. Else, why criticise the positions that someone else (like me or PChem) hold?

I don’t claim that anybody else should hold my position for any reason other than that they find it reasonable. I criticise your positions on the basis of inconsistency. Abortion is like murder! But I don’t respond to it as I would an actual murder. Abortion is like genocide! But I don’t respond to it as I would an actual genocide. And so we watch you build ever more baroque arguments to explain why your actions don’t match your professed beliefs.

What is your argument that ppl SHOULD believe anything for which they find a compelling argument?

You consistently conflate different uses of the word “should”, and I begin to suspect that it’s deliberate. You pretend to be asking for a moral “should”, but there’s no moral “should” to be found; what you have here is a rational “should”, as in “you should go to the store if you need groceries”. There’s no obligation to go to the store, and there’s no obligation to believe my argument – but you’d be acting contrary to your own best interests if you kept going to the auto repair for your groceries.

You give no reason to think that I *SHOULD* maximise "autonomy" (you snuck in a new word, which you've not defined).

Apologies, the word should have been “autonomy”, not utility, so please switch the two. If you can’t follow my reasoning, I agree that you have no reason to think you should maximize autonomy.

And you can't explain or apparently understand how my carrying out my desires to have power over someone else IS maximising my autonomy.

Carrying out your desire to have power over someone else is exercising your autonomy (not maximizing it) while minimizing their autonomy. It should be fairly clear that this is not acceptable in a framework which seeks to maximize autonomy.

Paul C said...

PChem - I've enjoyed this too, but I'm not sure if this is the best place to continue the discussion since it will drop off the page soon... however I will try to answer your questions at the start of next week.

Rhology said...

“*I* may not murder a baby, but I have no command to forcefully intervene when someone else is legally going to murder THEIR baby.”

Right, but I meant an unborn baby. Sorry I didn't make that clear.



In the scenario I presented, murdering children is legal and you state that you have no obligation to intervene.

Well, the question of whether I'd be obligated to intervene is diff from the question whether *I* would actually intervene.
So I'd probably intervene, but whether I'd be obligated for a BORN child is a tougher question. No doubt about it, that is tough.



Therefore the fact that you find government policy X in conflict with God's law does not cause you to stop obeying that government.

The gov't is not obligating anyone to commit baby murder; I think that's the important thing here. If it were it'd be different.



You ought to stand aside as the Nazi government transports millions of innocent people to the gas chambers

1) You whose moral system is based on some ridiculous and inconsistent notion of "personal autonomy" are in no position to tell people what they ought to do. Try rewording it. At most you could say that I'm being inconsistent.
2) The Nazi gov't was imposing sthg, actively, on ppl against their will. The situations are disanalogous at pretty much every key point.


Substitute “Jew” / “Gypsy” / “Communist” / “Homosexual” / “Mentally Ill” for baby in this sentence.

I lost you when you forgot to include when I said "THEIR". The notions of responsibility for a baby vs a Gypsy are totally different. Also, to get to the unborn baby you have to include the mother, and that makes it very diff too.
Nice try, but total fail.



that I would intervene to stop the murder of a child, since murder destroys their autonomy

See? YOU chose to stop one person's autonomy for the sake of preserving another's. But you can't say why you chose one over the other - it's totally arbitrary based on your Reasoning From On High. And yes, see, that's called "selective", you know, when you SELECT.



Can I declare myself the government of my village and magically acquire this authority? If not, why not?

Declare away. If ppl follow you, then so much the worse for them. If they do, then yes, you have authority, and also heightened responsibility before God.



Prove that's an immoral thing on God's part.

I’m not claiming that it’s moral or immoral


Oh, so you actually have nothing to say, then. OK.

Rhology said...

You’re conflating “exercising” and “maximising” - perhaps you should consider the difference between those two. I’m talking about maximizing

How can I conflate when you haven't given a definition for "maximising" autonomy?



so how did murdering millions of innocent people increase the range of choices available to the Nazis?

Duh - fewer ppl to stand in the way of creating their Master Race. Fewer deutschmarks spent on keeping them alive thru charity, fewer mouths to feed, more Panzers. Do you lack imagination or sthg?


You do exactly the same thing with the father killing his child – how does killing the child maximize autonomy between the two individuals involved, if one of them has their autonomy completely destroyed?

The father may consider his well-being and autonomy correspondingly increased.
Prove him wrong. Use evidence, some way of measuring "autonomy", preferably scientifically.



Having power over somebody else means removing their autonomy.

And increasing your own autonomy. If I had a slave, there's a lot of things I could do that I don't have and freedom to do now.



Carrying out your desire to have power over someone else is exercising your autonomy (not maximizing it) while minimizing their autonomy. It should be fairly clear that this is not acceptable in a framework which seeks to maximize autonomy.

Like I said, prove that my gain in autonomy doesn't offset the other's loss of it.



a. The state uses your taxes to pay for the killing of babies.
b. God orders you to pay taxes to the state to pay for its activities.
c. Therefore God orders you to pay the killing of babies


Wow, you just won't stop. The funny thing is that you "don't speak in moral categories", yet it's apparently a mission of yours to prove me inconsistent. I don't believe for a second that "you don't speak in moral categories".
Anyway, you're wrong in that it's not nearly that simple. The state uses my money to pay for a lot of things, and funding Planned Parenthood is one of them, yes, but it's impossible for me, a mere indiv, to separate out the money that goes to PP when I pay my taxes. Sure, the gov't is imperfect, even mostly wicked, but that doesn't stop me from being obligated by God to pay taxes to it.
The syllogism could be used for ANY immoral activity that the US gov't performs, and it'd be strictly true, so it proves too much really. God orders me to pay taxes, and that's the end. I can't do everythg, and I can't change the gov't. It's mostly the gov't's responsibility to spend its money wisely, and that's a wasted hope anymore, but what alternative is there? I have other priorities.



I am not affirming the consequent.

So you don't make any solid conclusions or claims on the nature of reality, then. OK.



The evidence is that I am telling you that this is what I believe.

You're exercising faith w/o evidence. Blind faith. Gotcha.

Rhology said...

I can point to the evidence of my own actions, but you have no access to those, so you’ll have to rely on my words.

Now you sound like a milquetoast Christian - "Jesus exists! Just look at my life!"



I don’t claim that anybody else should hold my position for any reason other than that they find it reasonable.

Presumably that would go for every view you've expressed during this entire combox, like the comparison to Nazi methodology, your syllogisms about my paying for abortions, your implied outrage, etc. Again, gotcha. It's funny how you've so far spent the last half of this latest salvo of responses backtracking on your 1st half. Maybe you should just stop now.



You consistently conflate different uses of the word “should”, and I begin to suspect that it’s deliberate.

Yes, of course it's deliberate since I don't accept your ad hoc rendering of diff kinds of "should" based on nothing more than your personal discomfort with it.



You pretend to be asking for a moral “should”, but there’s no moral “should” to be found

According to YOUR naked assertion there's none. I'm just taking that to its logical conclusion. You apparently don't like it, but my church is still inviting you to come in.



but you’d be acting contrary to your own best interests if you kept going to the auto repair for your groceries.

When will you recognise the obvious, that words like "best" when you deny any moral value is inconsistent?

PChem said...

This comment is exactly what I have been talking about.

Carrying out your desire to have power over someone else is exercising your autonomy (not maximizing it) while minimizing their autonomy. It should be fairly clear that this is not acceptable in a framework which seeks to maximize autonomy.

Not exercising autonomy is effectively minimizing autonomy. Limiting someone's power over another is minimizing that person's autonomy. If they are to truly maximize their autonomy, then such a choice should be a live option. Furthermore, please note that you are making this a math game here by summing the autonomy of two people (the one who lost autonomy and the one who exercised it).

Rhology said...

Thinking that the exercise of autonomy by one person does not affect another's is naive and silly.
So I don't see how it's not a "math game". Are you saying you're unwilling to play out my scenarios? What's unreasonable about them? The fact that they'll show your paradigm is foolish? What besides that?

Rhology said...

(Oh, that was PChem. Oh well, the arguments stand anyway.)

PChem said...

Right Rho. I contend it is a math game in many ways, but Paul seems to flip between performing the sum and not performing the sum.

Rhology said...

For Paul C, an interesting article.