The abortion flap

by Neil Rickert

There has been some recent discussion of abortion, following a statement by Dave Silverman about the secular case against abortion.

My current inclination is to agree with Libby Anne, who points out the secular argument against abortion is just the argument against abortion.  There is nothing especially secular about it.  Perhaps the catholics have a specifically theistic argument, based on declarations from the papacy.  But evangelicals do not.  If anything, their holy book seems to approve abortion in at least some circumstances.

So what am I to make of the post by Massimo Pigliucci:

In that post, Massimo writes:

Of course there are logical, science-based, and rational arguments against abortion.

The argument against abortion is a moral argument.  I’ll grant Massimo that there are rational arguments, because we do reason about moral questions.  But I fail to see that there are logical arguments.  Morality does not emerge from the use of logic.  When we apply logical reasoning, the moral points can be found in the premises, not in the logic.

I really wonder about his comment on a science-based argument against abortion.  Is this the same Massimo as the one who disagreed with Sam Harris’s claim that there is a scientific basis for morality?

My own position

So what’s my position on abortion?  I personally am opposed, except for special cases such as whether the mother’s health is threatened.  But, frankly, this is a cheap position for me, as a male, to hold.  The decision on abortion should be made by the pregnant woman.  Nobody else is entitled to make her moral judgments.  So call me pro-choice.  The best way to deal with abortion is to avoid unwanted pregnancy.  So call me pro-birth-control.

In summary, I’m not sure what the flap is all about, other than politics.  The abortion issue has received far more discussion than it warrants.

 

19 Comments to “The abortion flap”

  1. Very good points Neil. Why didn’t you as Massimo your challenge on his blog? I’d have love to hear the exchange.

    As for me, I think the most important first step is to decide if we think the government should be involved in the issue. In other words, sure, figure out your own personal moral view on the issue, then ask yourself, “Do I want my government to ENFORCE (use force to make others comply to) my personal moral stance (behavioral preference)?

    Most people dangerously blur these two positions into one without realizing they are doing it.

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    • Why didn’t you as Massimo your challenge on his blog?

      The last time that I commented on his blog, my comment instantly disappeared. I suspect that I am banned there.

      As for me, I think the most important first step is to decide if we think the government should be involved in the issue.

      Yes, I agree with that. That is why it becomes a political issue.

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  2. Neil, you stated: “I personally am opposed…” to abortion.

    On what grounds do you base your opposition to the practice?

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    • On what grounds do you base your opposition to the practice?

      Do I need grounds to hold an opinion?

      I may need grounds to persuade others, and even stronger grounds if I expect to force others. But surely, I need no grounds to hold a personal opinion.

      As I also said, I am pro-choice.

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      • Do you commonly form baseless opinions? Most people may not have explored the reasons they hold certain opinions, but that does not mean they don’t have reasons for holding them, does it?

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        • Most “reasons” people hold are post-hoc rationalizations for preferences for which they have no real insight for how their brains made that decision. Ugly fact of reality. Thus, when Neil tells you it is merely an opinion/preference, he may being much more honest and transparent than the person who puts forth their reasons.

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  3. SL, while I agree with what you say for the most part, sometimes when people analyse the reasoning behind their opinions, it either reinforces their opinion, or causes them to rethink and/or change their opinion. Do you not find this to be true?

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    • That is often true. Abortion is an issue I have thought about.

      What I don’t like, is the casual use of abortion for birth control. I don’t think that’s what usually happens, but it does seem to occur. On the other hand, when a pregnant women looks seriously at health risks, at her ability to raise another child, etc, it is not up to me to second guess what she decides.

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    • @Johnspenn,
      I agree that discussing “reasons”, contrived or otherwise, can result in change of opinions — either at the moment, or months later if the brain finds the shift useful. Rarely do people change by mere force of argument unless other parts of their life are offering supporting mechanisms of hold the belief.
      But yes, exploring can be fine.
      Usually, in my opinion, those against abortion are against it because of the simple yuck factor of killing something like them or little ones they have felt are cute. Aborting animals that don’t look like themselves, insects and such, is not bothersome.
      So it comes down to “Yuck”, I’m afraid. Which I think is what Neil was essentially saying.

      Others cover their “yuck” in tons of rhetoric. For many “abortion” means “not Christian do that” — they could give a shit about fetuses.

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      • SL, for some (myself included), the objection to abortion is about the morality of taking an innocent human life without proper justification. One doesn’t have to be a Chrisitan to object to that, do they?

        What is your position on the subject (pardon me if I missed it)?

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        • @ Johnspenn,
          You haven’t shown that you understood what I have already written. I will not enter your ball court of objective morality. And I tire very quickly of such obvious conversations spread hours and days over a thread when neither party is the least bit interested in learning from the other.

          The link to your name leads to a vacuous blog with only a Christian title. My blog is full and I am very open about my background and thoughts — you can read more about my ideas there if you are interested.

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          • I’m here asking honest questions about your views. I want to know what you think and why you think it. I never once mentioned “objective” morality. I don’t want to debate “objective” morality

            I freely admit I’m a Christian, although no one has bothered to ask what I am or what views I hold. I’m not trying to keep any secrets.

            I signed up for a free word press blog, because I like the editing features and use them for articles I write on a website called “The Patch”. Here’s a link since you seem to want to know more about how to slam me- http://woodstock.patch.com/blogs/cross-roads-of-faith?content_subdomain=woodstock

            Listen, if you guys don’t want to have a discussion about your views that’s ok. But maybe you should mention that somewhere. “No Christians allowed” or “Don’t ask too many questions” or “Opposing viewpoints not welcome”. Please accept my apologies for harshing your mellow.

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          • But maybe you should mention that somewhere. “No Christians allowed” or “Don’t ask too many questions” or “Opposing viewpoints not welcome”.

            I am not objecting to your participation.

            The debate over abortion is primarily emotional and political. And that kind of debate leads nowhere. I am not interested in being drawn into such a debate.

            Note that I have not objected to your expressing your own position on this.

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          • I’ve already told my opinion AND I just gave you a link to my blog. You know the standard arguments, I trust. I have no desire to “slam you”. That language won’t help, mate.

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        • SL, for some (myself included), the objection to abortion is about the morality of taking an innocent human life without proper justification.

          The traditional view of protestant Christianity, including Evangelical Christianity, was that life begins at birth. They changed that to “life begins at conception” for what appeared to be purely political reasons.

          In any case, saying it’s about human life just evades many of the issues.

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  4. “What I don’t like, is the casual use of abortion for birth control.”

    Why don’t you like it? What reason(s) do you have for not liking it?

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  5. @johnspenn,
    Yeah, you are right. WordPress is much better than Patch. Patch is too awkward. Good luck getting a WordPress blog going.

    Like

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