Monday, March 5, 2012

Links of interest

Mark Brumley has had enough of philosophically ill-informed scientists going on about nothing.  So has William Carroll.

Philosopher Paul F. Symington takes an Aristotelian approach to the moral quandary posed by Sophie’s Choice.

Very few Catholics follow their Church’s teaching on contraception, right?  Not so fast.  Our friend Lydia McGrew looks at the data and begs to differ.

Who’s to blame for the Obama administration’s attempt to impose its liberal values on Catholics?  Well, the Obama administration, of course.  But the Catholic bishops must also bear their share of the blame, say Paul Rahe and Rorate Caeli.  (Sounds familiar.)

Academic apologists for baby-killing -- or, as they call it, “after-birth abortion.”  No, it’s not a story from The Onion.  William M. Briggs has the lowdown on these lowlifes.

Is it only a matter of time before something like China’s One Child Policy is mandated under Obamacare?  Fr. John Zuhlsdorf dares you to call him crazy for thinking so.

Fr. Z is not crazy, of course.  Connect the dots: The Obama administration has already shown itself quite happy to force Catholics and others to pay for abortifacients.  As Fr. Z notes, the administration has also made it clear that it regards a reduction in the birthrate as a desirable goal of health care policy.  The legitimacy in principle of “after-birth abortion” is already implicit in existing arguments for abortion, and has been defended by other “ethicists” -- the article cited by Briggs isn’t that novel.  The premises are already in place.  All that is necessary is to draw the conclusion.  It won’t be drawn under this administration, but as with “same-sex marriage,” what is unthinkable today will tomorrow be the “progressive’s” idea of common sense.

If they call you crazy for saying so, that’s a matter of tactics.  Ten or twenty years from now they’ll call you crazy for opposing mandatory abortion (or rather, for opposing it in those cases where the “public good” or “women’s health” or “overpopulation” or some such thing “requires” it).  Count on it.  And remember, I told you so.

28 comments:

Jesse Hamm said...

Edward -- I just discovered your blog; I look forward to reading your apparently delightful book on the new atheism.

"...philosophically ill-informed scientists..."

So many atheist scientists wade blithely into philosophical trouble these days that I have to wonder whether there's any communication at all between the science and philosophy departments at the universities where they teach. Atheistic scientists keep inviting everyone to "come see these pretty flowers I found by the river," while their atheistic bretheren in the philosophy department must surely be shouting,"WAIT! That's where the crocodiles live!"

Atheistic philosophers find their share of trouble, too, but at least there's a circumspection in their work that suggests they know where their opponents will strike. Were I a Richard Dawkins trying my hand at philosophy, I'd be running my ideas by a Michael Martin or somebody in hopes of not embarrassing myself. Why doesn't that option occur to these guys? Has the home court advantage of atheism in the science department blinded them to threats posed by theists in philosophy? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Maolsheachlann said...

I think the last link, "the Evolution of Liberalism (and Conservatism)" is your best post ever. It should be injected into the veins of Oakeshottian conservatives.

But maybe that's just because I don't understand Thomism so well and don't appreciate the others!

Anonymous said...

A little off topic but somewhat relevant. Our scientist gods and philosophers have spoken:

http://news.yahoo.com/people-arent-smart-enough-democracy-flourish-scientists-185601411.html

James said...

“Is it only a matter of time before something like China’s One Child Policy is mandated under Obamacare? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf dares you to call him crazy for thinking so.”

All right. Father Zuhlsdorf, you’re crazy.

I like you, doc, and I’ve learned a lot from your blog about scholastic philosophy. Nevertheless I must point out that one has no sane basis from which to conclude that an insurance mandate for contraception will lead to a policy just about all Americans — yes, even really left-leaning ones — utterly despise. There just is a qualitative difference between “I think health insurance should be available to everyone and that certain hormones should be covered” and “I think the US, which isn’t anywhere close to overpopulated, should begin forcing abortions in order to enforce a one-child policy.”

Do you think that popular opinion will swing so far in a decade or two? Like Fr Z, do you really think Obama “promoted infanticide”? As if he were on street corners handing out pamphlets about the benefits of baby-killing! Buying into this kind of hysteria (hah, that’s a pun) means one of two things: either one is irreparably na├»ve, or else so desperate to paint his opponents as evil that he’ll cling with hope to the merest scrap of implausible evidence thereof.

Sorry to say it, everyone, but most people on the left — Obama included — are wrong but they’re not evil; and I can say something comparable about the right. Only if everyone can realize this (as if!) can we begin to let the better arguments rise to the top.

But no; right-wingers hate women, left-leaners want to kill babies. Right-wingers laugh while stomping roughshod over the poor, left-leaners want to take your money and use it to teach eight-year-olds the best sexual positions. Right-wingers start wars to kill brown people and take their resources, left-leaners hate and envy the successful and enact policy to sabotage them. (And here I am, stuck in the middle with hardly anybody.)

James said...

Postscript: A recurring theme in your contra-atheism apologetic work seems to be that those who argue against religion should attack its strongest arguments, rather than its weakest. How might a dictum such as this apply to those in political discourse who argue against the looniest caricatures of the opposition?

Anonymous said...

I've started using "new bizarre scientific definitions of nothing" as a counterpoint in my classes. Let's just drop the pretense and save everyone a lot of headache. All these scientistic claims reduce to this: the universe is eternal/is past-infinite.

Fine, continue on. But stop calling something "nothing."

Rob

darrenl said...

I can just imagine a conversation with Krauss regarding nothing:

Krauss: "Hey, what did you have for dinner last night?"

Friend: "Nothing"

Krauss: "Wow. That sounds delicious. Did you have red wine with it?"

Anonymous said...

James,
Did you ever see that old Twilight Zone episode, the howling man, where a stranger stumbles into a castle, hears howling, and discovers a cultured and intelligent man in the dungeon, behind bars? The prisoner claims he is being held hostage by a crazy religious sect for kissing his sweetheart in public. However, Brother Jerome explains to the stranger that really, the prisoner is the devil himself. The monk had recognized the devil and saw that he had come to corrupt their town, so he locked him up behind the Staff of Truth, which is actually in reach of the imprisoned devil. The devil urges the stranger to remove the Staff of Truth, because, you know, Brother Jerome is irreparably naive or just so desperate that he has enslaved a completely innocent man.
Of course, the stranger does the devil's bidding and releases him into the world, finding out too late that Brother Jerome was actually correct. To his credit, the stranger then spends his life trying to recapture the devil. But he learned the hard way that the inability or refusal to recognize evil is the devil's greatest weapon.
All that being said, what exactly, if not evil, would you call these actions: voting, twice, that if a baby survives an abortion attempt AND IS BORN ALIVE, he or she can still legally be murdered?
Thanks.
Erin

21st Century Scholastic said...

Thomas Aquinas says, "Creatio non est mutatio" (Creation is not change).

Then why do some thomists (and Aquinas himself, i think) affirm that everything exist "potentially" or "in potentiality" before being created - or, explicitly, that creation is a passage from potentiality to actuality?

Michael Sirilla said...

Edward,

I also just discovered your blog through a link on Paul Symington's blog. Thanks for linking to his post on Sophie's choice and Aristotle's virtue-ethics vs. consequentialism.

William Carroll is doing a masterful job engaging scientists attempting to do philosophy (poorly).

Incidentally, it was great having you out here at Franciscan U. for the conference on science and God.

Nice blog!

Anonymous said...

"All that being said, what exactly, if not evil, would you call these actions: voting, twice, that if a baby survives an abortion attempt AND IS BORN ALIVE, he or she can still legally be murdered?"

Just goes to show that there are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are wingnut factoids. Erin, please don't believe everything you read. I'm not Obama's biggest fan, and I'm not fond of his pro-choice stand, but I have to take exception to libelous statements. You might want to check out FactCheck.org for some unbiased information:

"In discussions of abortion rights, definitions are critically important. The main bills under discussion, SB 1082 and the federal BAIPA, are both definition bills. They are not about what can and should be done to babies; they are about how one defines "baby" in the first place. Those who believe that human life begins at conception or soon after can argue that even a fetus with no chance of surviving outside the womb is an "infant." We won’t try to settle that one.

"What we can say is that many other people – perhaps most – think of "infanticide" as the killing of an infant that would otherwise live. And there are already laws in Illinois, which Obama has said he supports, that protect these children even when they are born as the result of an abortion. Illinois compiled statute 720 ILCS 510/6 states that physicians performing abortions when the fetus is viable must use the procedure most likely to preserve the fetus’ life; must be attended by another physician who can care for a born-alive infant; and must "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as would be required of a physician providing immediate medical care to a child born alive in the course of a pregnancy termination which was not an abortion." Failure to do any of the above is considered a felony."

Tony said...

James: will lead to a policy just about all Americans — yes, even really left-leaning ones — utterly despise.

Oh, boy. James, Ed is not saying it is going to happen tomorrow, or next year. Since (if it happens at all) it will only happen years down the road, the capacity to say "it will happen" is only at most a probable one, based on trends and coincidence of causes and factors. But when you consider the existing trends carefully, the probability of it happening is shockingly high - even if not an absolute likelihood full stop.

Let's take an example: 60 years ago, 98% of people in the west (both Europe, US, and Canada) were quite solidly convinced that homosexual behavior is evil, disgusting, grotesque, and need not be tolerated much less spoken of with acceptance. Just the same as your "just about all Americans- yes, even really left-leaning ones".

50 years ago, due to the sexual revolution, the arguments started to advance separating sex from marriage and children, and intelligent people at the time warned about the problems that would come about, including disturbance in the understanding of what marriage is and who can "be married". They were told "you are imagining it all, that's ridiculous." 15 years ago when the Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws, intelligent people warned that the rationales would inevitably lead to disruption in understanding what marriage is, and that marriage would be opened up to gays. They were told "that's impossible, nothing like that will happen." In addition, most of the people who were willing to "go along with" decriminalization of sodomy were OK with it explicitly believing that we would only be "tolerating" homosexual acts, not supporting and promoting them. Now, at this point, the Obama administration believes that the "Defense of Marriage Act" is unconstitutional, and that gays should be able to get married in all states. Further, you can be prosecuted if you put up an ad for letting an apartment that specifies "no gays". In Canada, it is LITERALLY against the law for a pastor to read the parts of the Bible that condemns homosexuality, and several of them have been arrested for that. Many state education departments are actively requiring pro-gay literature in the classrooms, and neither teachers nor parents can "opt-out" of the programs. In Canada, according to Alberta provincial government, it is against the law for a homeschooler to teach their kids AT HOME that homosexual behavior is wrong.

Now, look again at the trend from the early arguments about abortion being "permitted" when the life of the mother is in danger, to then being permitted for any reason the mother has (or none stated). Then add in Obama's votes in favor of permitting a baby to be killed when 99% born (partial birth abortion) and the current articles in favor of "post birth abortion", and the national health care program that provides mandates for health czars to ration health care. It is clearly ALONG THE EXISTING TRACKLINE to foresee, in 5 or 10 years, a health czar telling a poor young single mother "we won't give you ANY HEALTH CARE for the next 20 years if you don't have this abortion. The nation's health system cannot afford your adding babies to the lists when you clearly cannot contribute to support the added burden put on the taxpayers" Yes, it is insane, but the insanity is in the TREND, not in seeing what the trend actually implies.

Jack "Vaughn" Bodie said...

Anonymous of March 6, 2012 1:58 PM:

The summary you quoted from FactCheck.org is beside the point.

Erin didn't try to define infanticide. Nor did she speculate as to Obama's motivation for voting as he did. She merely pointed out that he voted as he did; FactCheck.org said not twice, in fact, but three times.

From your source of unbiased information:

Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 "born alive" bills as backdoor attacks on a woman’s legal right to abortion, but he says he would have been "fully in support" of a similar federal bill that President Bush had signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade.

We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus, according to an undisputed summary written immediately after the committee’s 2003 mark-up session.


To repeat Erin's question: What exactly, if not evil, would you call these actions?

Anonymous said...

I realize that this is a blog run by a Catholic philosopher, populated largely by Catholics, and as such the majority of people here consider abortion to be evil. I wasn't arguing against this view. What I was was taking exception to was the statement "if a baby survives an abortion attempt AND IS BORN ALIVE, he or she can still legally be murdered." THAT is clearly not the case, and in fact is a libelous statement. I think there are enough things to oppose Obama for without resorting to fabrications.

Anonymous said...

Jack,
Thank you for stepping in and saying what I haven't yet had a chance to say, what with work and the baby and the toddler, etc. I have diligently been trying to figure out to which wingnut factoid I have fallen prey. Factcheck.org is not helping with this. As evidenced in your quote, Obama actually voted against a bill with wording he said he would support.

James,
Anyway, in all cases of his votes, it is evident that Obama is against the idea of considering a fetus that shows signs of life outside the womb (outside the womb because of the attempted abortion, of course) as an infant entitled to legal protection. This is, in my book, evil. Logically consistent, but evil nonetheless.

And while the definition of infanticide was not addressed in my post, I take severe objection to FactCheck.org's claim that "What we can say is that many other people – perhaps most – think of 'infanticide' as the killing of an infant that would otherwise live." I think of infanticide as the killing of any infant, not one that only "would otherwise live." FC.org seems to endorse the idea that since this fetus/infant is going to die anyway, there is no legal or moral obligation to try to save this life. This seems to be a very utilitarian value of life, based not on any inherent dignity of the human person, but on how long that person will live and, by implication, what use they can possibly be to society. I have to wonder, how long does that "would otherwise live" life have to be for the fetus to become an infant, semantically?
Such an idea of valuing life on external criteria is dangerous. Sorry for the rambling -- too many things going at once.
Erin

Anonymous said...

What I was was taking exception to was the statement "if a baby survives an abortion attempt AND IS BORN ALIVE, he or she can still legally be murdered." THAT is clearly not the case, and in fact is a libelous statement."

Ok, in all seriousness, please tell me how this is not the case. Is it because you do not consider that fetus who is born alive a "baby"? Is that the incorrect terminology I'm using? Or is it the word "murder"?

What about "If a fetus is delivered during an abortion and shows signs of life, he or she can still be legally terminated"? Because that is essentially what Obama voted for -- three times.
Erin

DNW said...

Edward Feser writes:

"The Obama administration has already shown itself quite happy to force Catholics and others to pay for abortifacients. As Fr. Z notes, the administration has also made it clear that it regards a reduction in the birthrate as a desirable goal of health care policy. "


Oh, I don't know about that. I cannot imagine anyone actually advocating a forcible one child policy, or forced abortion as a means of population management can you? Oh maybe Paul Erlich, implied such things, but that was years ago when he said stuff like ...

"A federal Bureau of Population and Environment should be set up to determine the optimum population size for the United States and devise measures to establish it." The Population Bomb, 1971

Nowadays no Western liberal would even hint at such an approach, would they?


" ... China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict. The "inconvenient truth" overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are
overpopulating the world. A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate ..."

" The fix is simple. It's dramatic. And yet the world's leaders don't even have this on their agenda in Copenhagen. ... Instead there will be photo ops, posturing, optics, blah-blah-blah about climate science and climate fraud, announcements of giant wind farms, then cap-and-trade subsidies. None will work unless a China one-child policy is imposed. Unfortunately, there are powerful opponents. Leaders of the world's big fundamentalist religions preach in favor of procreation and fiercely oppose birth control. ...China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy."

"The whole world needs to adopt China's one-child policy
Diane Francis, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, December 08, 2009" Canada

Also,
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1615936,00.html

dover_beach said...

It should be injected into the veins of Oakeshottian conservatives.

Why? Its already flowing in my "Oakeshottian conservative" blood.

The Deuce said...

I expect it will start with "soft" one-child policy. That is, we won't go immediately to dragging pregnant women out of their homes and into the abortionist's office. Instead, it will start with "cost-cutting" policies similar to those in Great Britain where a person can have certain treatments denied or delayed if they are a smoker. People who refuse to use birth control will suffer certain "disadvantages." Later, this will be extended such that you can prevent these "disadvantages" with contraception or abortion. The "disadvantages" will become more and more onerous because of the "pressing need to cut costs" until we have an effective one-child policy. Eventually, the power and immunity of the HHS bureaucracy will reach the point that there's no real possibility of Congress and the President dismantling them (we're already laying the groundwork for this, as they've been given special and probably un-Constitutional immunity from Congressional overrule by a mere majority), and that's when we'll see women being dragged to the abortionist.

Susan said...

James,
You are a great writer (I agree with you). Wish you had a blog! Blessed are you peacemakers.

Maolsheachlann said...

dover_beach, my point was that without the kind of metaphysical foundations that Dr. Feser insists conservatism requires (for instance, in his Metaphysics of Conservatism article), conservatism is bound to become situational, relativist and reactionary in the worst sense-- always simply dragging its heels into the next Brave New World. As far as I knew, Oakeshott did not believe in the need for a religious or metaphysical foundation for conservatism. If I am misrepresenting him and his followers, I do apologize.

Dianelos Georgoudis said...

Quoting from Mark Brumley's article:

"Certainly, [scientists] don't mean by "nothing" what careful philosophers and theologians mean."

I have always wondered about the meaning of the phrase "God created the world out of nothing". After all, God was there, no? So it's not actually *nothing* from which the world was created.

Roquentin said...

http://koalavillage.blogspot.com/

dover_beach said...

As far as I knew, Oakeshott did not believe in the need for a religious or metaphysical foundation for conservatism.

The foundations of his conservatism are metaphysical. Anyone that has read his magnum opus, On Human Conduct, could not help recognizing this although someone only familiar with, say, his Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays might.

Maolsheachlann said...

The foundations of his conservatism are metaphysical. Anyone that has read his magnum opus, On Human Conduct, could not help recognizing this although someone only familiar with, say, his Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays might.

I stand corrected!

dover_beach said...

I stand corrected!

No worries.

FrankNorman said...

The real problem is that this sort of outcome is inherent in the logic of the Welfare State - the mentality that no one should ever be allowed to go hungry, that those who can't provide for themselves should always be provided for at the expense of others.
This blatantly gives people a blank cheque to be as irresponsible as they wish, safe in the knowledge that all the bad consequences of their actions will be "socialized" - mitigated by spreading the cost onto others.

But why should other people be held accountable for your wellbeing, if they have no control over your actions?
That is not only morally unjust, in the long run it is also economically unsustainable. The problem with Socialism, as someone famous once put it, is that you eventually run out of other people's money. In the long run it does not save the irresponsible from their bad choices - rather, it enables them to pull everyone else down with them.

So sooner or later, ideology collides with economic reality, since it is in reality impossible to give everyone a free ride at everyone else's expense.

Sooner or later, people will have to be told: "No you can't have everything you want, because then there won't be enough to go around." The Left are fond of preaching this at the middle-class already - usually from the comfort of a lifestyle beyond the dreams of most of the people they are saying it to. (Al Gore comes to mind)
The problem is in the assumption - that all resources must "go around" - that everything gets pooled for the use of everyone.

In a sane world, if a couple wish to have 20 children, then they (that man and woman) are the ones responsible for those children. Not "society". Not "the government". Not everyone else.

But the Socialist crazies refuse to accept this. They insist on trying to make everyone responsible for everyone else. And ultimately this will lead either to economic collapse, or to regulation and restriction of human choice. "No, you may not have another child, The Government has decided that you already have enough."

Bobcat said...

It was painful for me to read that link where Ed discussed the five stages of defining deviancy up (to use someone's--I think it was Charles Krauthammer's--phrase).

I think it was not so long after that conversation that I realized that I don't know as much about anything (excepting my own life and, I presume comedy and mixed martial arts) as Alexander Pruss does.