]]]]]]]]] REPLY TO MR GAEDE ON THE SUBJECT OF ABORTION [[[[[[[[[[ by Oleg Panczenko (9/4/1989) [Brant Gaede's (07656GAED) contributions appear on floors 22 and 20 of this tower. -Sysop.] 1. Mr Gaede argues that a fetus is human but not a person and hence killing it is not murder. (Clearly a fetus is not a person in the Kantian sense: a person is an agent; he is autonomous; he has will and reason; he has rights, obligations, and duties). Scruton (Scruton 1981) gives three common objections to the `not a person' argument: the question of the fetus's personhood is undecided; rights may be possessed by things other than persons; we may have non-contractual, non-voluntary obligations which extend to all human life. We can make the killing of certain non-persons unlawful, just as we make cruelty to non-persons (animals) unlawful. Lastly, infants, the senile and the comatose are also not Kantian persons, yet we consider it impermissible to kill them. 2. One reason why Mr Gaede is ``pro-choice'' is because some arguments against abortion are based on religious precepts (e.g. ``God's will'') and he is an atheist. Because an argument is framed in terms of ``God's will'' is no reason that it cannot be framed in terms which do not presume the existence of God. An assertion is not necessarily false if the line of reasoning leading to it as a conclusion is shown false. For example, Maxwell's equations were derived assuming the existence of a luminiferous aether. It is also ``God's will'' that (putting aside the question of abortion) one not kill, that one not steal, and that one not bear false witness against one's neighbor. Should atheists then be allowed to murder, steal and perjure? Every system of morals needs a `God says so' in one guise or another, for there are no philosophical truths (even if we use as loose a criterion of `truth' as that of agreement by a majority of philosophers). Those who object to `God says so' say `Natural Rights says so' or `Kant's axiom of nonaggression says so', or `Ayn Rand says so'. [On the point of philosophical truths: someone will smugly say that `A is A' (Aristotle's Law of Identity) is an example of a truth. An easy objection: Suppose A changes with time: at time t1, A is A, at time t2, A is no longer A. Neither is such a formulation useful: ``The `is' of identity and the `is' of predication are logically distinct. ... Now the distinction between subject and predicate is basic to thought. A creature who could not understand it, who spoke only of identities, would know nothing of his world; he would know only the arbitrary determinations of his own usage, whereby he is able to substitute one name for another.'' (Scruton 1981, p. 249)] 3. I view abortion as a manifestation of the left's `will to death'. (See Igor Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon (NY: Harper and Row, 1980) on the question of a left death-wish. The application of his ideas to abortion is my own.) I also fear that the left is working to take the horror out of death: fatal soporifics replace beatings, poison gas and bullets. This coupled with an assault on the will to live (and the will to procreate is a fundamental part of the will to live) is a grave danger to mankind. (Note that not all on the `left' believe that abortion is permissible nor do all those on the `right' think abortion is impermissible.) 4. I can make no sense Mr. Gaede's assertion that ``[t]he fetus has no social context, only a biological one''. One does not posses a context, one exists within a context or one is part of a context. The fetus exists in both a social and biological context. 5. In Rhetoric, a `Kiss-of-Death' is the demonstration that an opponent's views are also held by someone reviled. For example, `child-pornographers and the ACLU favor freedom of speech'. Planned Parenthood, in a series of advertisements in Time magazine, tried to link opposition to abortion with `fundamentalist zealotry'. Kiss-of-Death is no counter- argument. Adolph Hitler was very fond of dogs (he had and Alsatian named `Blondie') and once proposed that strays be kenneled at government expense. Are dog-lovers Nazis at heart? 6. We are responsible for the forseeable consequences of our actions. One of the forseeable consequences of an act of sexual intercourse in the creation of a being which, by its nature, is in a state of dependency. Hence we have the duty to support this dependent creature until is achieves self-sufficiency. (This is a precis of Doris Gordon's argument. See Appendix A.) 7. The problem of abortion will not go away with the creation of an artificial womb. It will always be more expensive to remove the fetus and keep it alive (the cost of maintaining it in the chamber) rather than removing it and discarding it. What if the mother can't pay? What if she won't pay? Suppose she prefers to have an abortion. 8. I do not know the teaching of the Catholic Church on the question of artificial wombs and neither does Mr Gaede. He has not mentioned any Roman Catholic teachings which would indicate that the Church would forbid the use of artificial wombs by Catholics. Prefacing unfounded speculation with ``probably'' does not free one of the obligation not to speak when one does not know. 9. Mr. Gaede suspects most anti-abortionists of having a hidden agenda but does not tell us what it is. 10. A concern for the unborn does not imply a conjoint concern for the born, just as a concern that robberies be prevented does not obligate one to also be concerned with how ex-robbers are to make their livings. 11. Mothers who do not want children may give them up for adoption or, perhaps, be allowed to sell them. For arguments for the allowing the sale of children see Richard A. Posner, Economic Analysis of Law, 3rd ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1986), pp. 139-143. 12. Mr.Gaede laments the future of little children of Central and South America. How can he be so certain of their future that he can say that they have ``no or little chance for happiness.'' If life is so unbearably unhappy then people have the choice of self-killing. That a person has little chance for happiness is hardly rationale for another to kill him. One notes that there was little chance for happiness in the Nazi concentration camps yet only a few chose suicide. (Conditions in Central and South America are not as bad.) Yes, the people in Central and South America are poor. But they go on with their lives, they do raise their families and they do find a few happinesses. They suffer not because of large families but because of socialist economies. Appendix A. For non-religious arguments against abortion write to Libertarians for Life 13424 Hathaway Drive, #22 Wheaton, MD 20906 (301) 460-4141 Include $3.00 for a packet of printed matter. The founder of LFL, Doris Gordon, is an atheist and was a follower of Ayn Rand. B. For two good complementary overviews of philosophy I can recommend: Marias, Julian. 1967, History of Philosophy. New York: Dover. Scruton, Roger. 1981, From Descartes to Wittgenstein: A Short History of Modern Philosophy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Intellectual sloppiness and errors in reasoning are common in the debate on abortion. One familiar with philosophical analysis will be able to identify the most egregiously foolish `arguments'. Bear in mind that disagreeable does not mean fallacious. A college text on philosophical analysis written by a libertarian is Hospers, John. 1988, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, Third Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. A most useful work which has brief essays on `abortion', `rights', `right to life', `person', and other concepts important to the question of abortion is: Scruton, Roger. A Dictionary of Political Thought. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982.
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