October 15, 2003

Yet Another Post About Abortion 

I think I just blindsided my opponents on the listserv. I posted a refutation of challenges to my argument, and it hasn't been posted yet, but I think they're going to be hard pressed to challenge my position again when they see it. Because I think this is such an interesting topic, I will once again post the text of the message I wrote for the listserv:

I wrote an explanation of my position on this issue last night that I think was needlessly complicated, so I've decided to try and clarify what I meant. Again, my view is that a couple who conceives through consensual sex (Professor Thomas was referring to this and not rape) is always morally responsible for the child, because they caused the pregnancy despite their attempts to prevent it, and since sex is designed to produce children, they have no excuse. I've decided to temporarily set aside the plane analogy, and instead present an analogy of my own that demonstrates moral responsibility on the part of the parents. (note to SIT readers: I used this analogy yesterday on the blog, but this is a more detailed version of it)

Let's say that you and your friends are bored one day, so you decide to play a game of Russian roulette, which you find extremely entertaining (even pleasurable). You've done this several times before, and nobody has ever "lost" a game, so you have a good track record up to this point. Now, imagine that it's your turn to point the gun at your head and pull the trigger. You know there is only a 1 in 6 chance that the gun will fire, so you have a reasonable amount of confidence that you will be safe. However, it turns out that you got the chamber with a bullet in it, and when you pull the trigger, you die.

Now, would anyone deny that you are morally responsible for your death? You knew the risks, and you knew that your safety wasn't 100% guaranteed, but YOU, and only YOU, chose to pull the trigger anyway. Because you were directly responsible for the action, you are morally responsible for the consequences.

Let's take it one step further. Imagine that, to make the game even safer, you used a special bullet that only has a 10% chance of firing. Therefore, you not only know that you may not get the chamber containing a bullet, but you know there is a 90% chance that you will survive anyway. Unfortunately, when you pull the trigger, the bullet fires. You are still responsible! Unless you are 100% certain that you will be safe, you have moral responsibility, because you are in control of your actions and are the direct cause of the event.

This takes us back to the plane example. If you put your son on a plane, you have a reasonable expectation the he will be safe. If the plane crashes, however, it is not your fault, because you didn't cause the plane to crash. In the roulette example, and in instances of consensual sex, you are in control the whole time, and you always have the option to prevent pregnancy from happening by abstaining from sex or to prevent death by not pulling the trigger.

This also comes back to my argument that planes are not designed to crash, but sex is designed to produce children. Think about the roulette example. If you pull the trigger and the gun doesn't fire, then that's an accident! You may be happy with the result, but the reality is that if that gun had been working properly, you would be dead. The point is that if you take an action that is designed for a specific purpose while simultaneously trying to prevent it from accomplishing that purpose, you are morally responsible if your attempts fail.

On the other hand, if you use something for its intended purpose and it fails, you are not morally responsible, because you were not misusing it. I think this is where [my opponent] was confused. I am trying to prove that sex, and not failed birth control, is the cause of pregnancy. As the roulette example shows, decreasing the risk involved doesn't make it morally neutral. Guns are designed to fire, and if you happen to shoot yourself, you are responsible because you knew that ahead of time.

Just to avoid confusion, I should point out that I reject Kant's theory that motivation dictates whether an action has moral worth. I would say that motivation can add to or subtract from the net worth of an action, but that doesn't change the action itself. Sex is the same thing whether or not it is done for the purposes of conception, so the fact that you may not want a child does not exonerate you. After all, if you fail a test, you may not be happy with that outcome, but you are still responsible for the failure. I'll leave it at that for now, and I'm looking forward to your feedback.

So, do you think I have a solid argument? This just got posted on the listserv as I was copying it (I had to transcribe it, actually, which took a few minutes), so I expect the responses to start coming in about an hour or less. Again, I would really appreciate comments from readers about this argument.

I realize that you may not understand some of the concepts I mention (Kant, for example), but the point I'm making stands on its own. If you think I could improve this analogy, or if there is a problem with it that I'm missing, please leave a comment and let me know. Remember, when you write comments, I will see them. I get notified by e-mail every time someone posts to the comments sections, and I will read whatever advice you give me. Your input is appreciated. I think that's it for now.

By the way, they're cleaning the men's bathroom in my dorm at 8:00 in the morning now, which is when I get up. That's strange to begin with, but it's also a female custodian cleaning it, so you can only brush your teeth or fix your hair. You can't take a shower or anything. That's just strange. Later.

Posted by CD on October 15, 2003 01:37 PM
Semi-Intelligent Comments

a professional, fast and reliable wow power leveling and wow gold company has been created for years. cheap wow power leveling, When you first start a game of World of Warcraft, wow gold, you will be taken to your race's starting area. Cheap World of Warcraft Power Leveling, All the races except trolls and gnomes begin in a unique location. wow power leveling Those two races have to share starting locales with the good orcs and dwarves, respectively. wow powerleveling, After watching a brief in-game cutscene introducing your race, you are set loose upon the world.

Posted by: wow power leveling at March 3, 2008 10:22 PM
< MTCloseComments old="10" >