Monday, February 7

How Not to Split Hairs

David Vellman over at Left2Right in a continuing attempt to codify and explain the left's ethical grounding and principles has brilliantly boxed himself into a corner vis a vis abortion. He writes:
Hursthouse argues that many of our moral intuitions about abortion are best understood as judgments, not about rights and duties, but rather about virtue and vice. In some cases, choosing or performing an abortion is cruel, callous, or frivolous. What makes abortion unethical in these cases, according to Hursthouse, is precisely that it is vicious -- that it manifests the vices of cruelty, callousness, or what Hursthouse calls "lightmindedness". In other cases, however, choosing or performing an abortion can be responsible, prudent, even selfless, and then what makes it ethical, according to Hursthouse, that it is virtuous.

... snip ...

Abortion can be far more vicious than selling organs or desecrating a corpse, since it involves killing. The ability to kill what looks just like a human baby is an ability that we cannot morally afford to have. Such killing can therefore be unethical, in my view, whether or not it kills a person endowed with a right to life.
So as long as it looks different it's ok to kill. Kind how people justified inhuman treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, or inter-racial slavery in other times. De-humanize the victim and you can do whatever you want. Now, in most venues, the left is very sensitive to this kind of argument, correcting our speech patterns to rid us of "incorrect" and "hateful" expression. But since, for whatever reason, abortion and the right to sacrifice children on an altar of convenience is one cause taken up by the left above all others, intellectual honesty must go by the wayside.

(Note: Meta-ethical considerations of virtue ethics in general is another question entirely, and will be deferred to a later time.)

While on this subject, another argument in vogue used to support abortion currently is to recount that 80% of conceptions fail to implant, therefore providing an example of "natural" abortion. Well, some people have heart attacks naturally. That doesn't make it ok, to inject family members or strangers with an overdose of adrenaline causing a heart attack artificially does it? Similarly, I fail to see how the failure of implantation has any bearing on the question of the ethics of abortion.

I will however agree that one can bypass "right to life" when considering the questio of abortion. The correct phrase is "sanctity of life". That is why we don't desecrate corpses (from his example) and why abortion is wrong.