Saturday, February 28, 2009

Public Philosophy, Failed Again

On my flight back from that colossally depressing event last week, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a guy who fancied himself a philosopher. He was on his way to my home city to participate in a "workshop for life" (as he called it). At first I didn't get the gist, so I said, innocently, "you mean the workshop lasts until you die?" Not quite...

It was then explained to me that the US government allows-- even encourages-- the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens every year, and that this must be stopped. So I asked whether, in his view, it must be stopped by taking institutional measures designed to lower the number of unplanned pregnancies, and lower the cost (personal, financial, social, etc.) of single-parenthood, and so on. He declared that such measures "might be a part of the solution," but since "good people" shouldn't have to pay for the irresponsibility of others, the real aim was to criminalize abortion, to make the law reflect that abortion is equivalent to murder.

Then I said, "Interesting. Let's say that you're right, and let's say that you succeed in getting abortion criminalized. What should the law do about pregnant women who attempt (illegally) to get abortions?" Astoundingly, he replied, "they should go to jail, like any other murderer." I didn't raise the complication concerning the fact that we were considering a case in which no abortion had (yet) been performed, but instead replied, "So, if you're successful, we'd have a pretty large population of children born in prison. Who would pay the cost of raising, schooling, caring for them? Wouldn't it, again, be the 'good people'?"

"Hmmm..." he replied. Then he asked, "What's your line of work?" I said, "I'm a professor." Suspicious, he replied, "Professor of what?" I said (in keeping with my usual strategy), "Logic." His instantaneous, beautiful, reply: "I figured. Liberal."

The End.

22 comments:

Mikhail Emelianov said...

Did you not know that logic is for liberals? You live, you learn.

Eric said...

Best argument for being a liberal I've ever heard. How was the rest of the flight?

Dr. Killjoy said...

Ah, your mistake is that you assume these babies must be cared for. Everyone knows that there is a huge moral difference between murdering innocent lil' babies and merely letting them die after forcibly removing them from the wombs of their incarcerated mothers. Duh!

Spiros said...

Dr. Killjoy: Genius.

Spiros said...

Eric:

Rest of the flight was pretty quiet. Just after he muttered "liberal," a flight attendant asked for a drink order. So there was a natural break-off point for the conversation.

Krinos said...

Another case of someone using the term 'Liberal' as one of dismissal, but given the context of use, it should be loosely translated as having the capacity to see the consequences of one's actions (antonyms: right wing pigeon from outer space).

Robert Thille said...

Well, reality does have a well-known liberal bias...

j said...

As soon as you say "let's say you're right," you are assuming (for the sake of argument) his presuppositions. One of these is that the fetus is a human being.

So if your question, "who would pay for them?" is only meant to set up the dilemma that one way or another "good people" will end up "paying for the irresponsibility of others," then I have no objection.

But if your question is intended to suggest that because of the high costs, it is better to terminate these pregnancies, then under the assumed premises, you are arguing that human beings who are too expensive to society ought to be (or maybe only "can justly be") terminated.

I realize that this suggestion is in no way logically implied by what you said, but in a casual conversation it could easily be verbally inferred. "Verbally inferred" is a poor term. I mean that although the logic of what you said does not imply it, many people would assume that's what you meant to suggest, and in fact you may have meant to suggest it.

Michael said...

To quote the great one:
Reality has a well known liberal bias.

Anonymous said...

> you are arguing that human beings who are too expensive to society ought to be (or maybe only "can justly be") terminated.

In fact, we do incarcerate human beings who are too costly to society. It's called the prison system. In some countries, there is even a death penalty for those who incur exorbitant costs.

thesuperjesus said...

@j: I don't think Spiros introduced the morally tenuous point of the cost of care and who should pay, his rabidly anti-abortion flight neighbor did. If you have a problem with that line of reasoning you should be upset at the other guy.

It's perfectly fair game to use someones own appallingly faulty logic back against them. You should read the article again, nothing was verbally inferred.

j said...

In fact, we do incarcerate human beings who are too costly to society. It's called the prison system. In some countries, there is even a death penalty for those who incur exorbitant costs.

We jail people not because they're too costly, but because they have violated someone else's rights. So we don't jail the cancer patient on Medicare, even though he costs society far more than the guy who knocked over a convenience store for $475.

So it looks to me like you're equivocating on "costly," then using your faulty argument to justify the idea of killing people who cost society too much.

---------
I don't think Spiros introduced the morally tenuous point of the cost of care and who should pay, his rabidly anti-abortion flight neighbor did. If you have a problem with that line of reasoning you should be upset at the other guy.

I'm not upset with anybody. And though Spiros didn't introduce the point, he accepted the point when he agreed to assume the guy's premises for the sake of argument.

My point is only this: under the assumed premises, if Spiros meant to suggest that fetuses should be killed because they're costly (which he might not have meant to suggest), then he has made an immoral argument.

It's perfectly fair game to use someones own appallingly faulty logic back against them. You should read the article again, nothing was verbally inferred.

I perfectly agree. Spiros did a masterful job of pointing out the guy's inconsistency.

However, it is a curious fact of logic and the English language that often things which are not logically implied are still verbally inferred. For example, if I tell my kids, "If you don't eat your dinner, you won't get desert," I have in no way logically implied the statement, "If you do eat your dinner, you will get desert." But 10 out of 10 kids will infer the second statement from the first, and 9 out of 10 adults will mean the second statement when they make the first.

So Spiros may or may not have meant to suggest that fetuses should be terminated because they're expensive. My argument only applies if he did mean it.

Jeremy Standiford said...

it's strange how conservatives tend to be uneducated.

Anonymous said...

and then you stuck womens sex toys up your ass

Anonymous said...

Jeremy:

I wish that were not true. I think conservative leaders have avoided the difficult task of explaining the issues and have instead broken them down into a faulty dichotomy. Then it's just a matter of asking the right questions.

Anonymous said...

@j

Actually, I believe Spiro suggested that the cost to "good people" would be unavoidable, and that we could lessen the cost through more preventative measures, ie. adequate sex ed, subsidized birth control, and by lowering the cost of single parenthood.

He didn't necessarily suggest abortion, though he didn't rule it out.

The argument was that rather than criminalizing abortion (ie, a "supply side" argument) we might be more effective if we reduced demand.

Michael Drake said...

Criminalize abortion? Sure, that "might be a part of the solution," as you interlocutor would put it. But we can't expect to solve this problem with such half measures. What we need is something more systematic.

The Brooks Blog said...

I only wish I were on your flight to join in the discussion....

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the question of what to do to those who would have illegal abortions seems to stymie anti-abortion folks. Check out this video, for instance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk6t_tdOkwo

Σmpire Photography said...

I just wanted to say that I am truly enjoying your blog.

Nothing better in the morning than a cup of coffee and reading the rants of a cranky intellectual.

Ultra said...

It never ceases to amaze me how blinded liberals are to their own stupidity, while in the same voice they are criticizing this anti- abortionist whose response was not only consistent with the mutually agreed to supposition allowed by the liberal saying: "assuming you are successful in getting abortion criminalized to murder"

Also shows the incredibly short attention span they have forgetting what he just agreed to. See Below:

Here is where his attempt to confuse the argument gets exploited as nothing more than a poorly attempted straw man. The anti-abortion passenger saw right through it and did not skip a beat giving best common sense answer anyone with half a wit would have given.

For those liberals that still do not get it, why saying they should go to jail was the best answer to give, we re-examine the liberals question.

He says and I quote, "lets assume you are successful in getting abortion criminalized to Murder" then he asks, "what about attempted "Illegal abortions" ?

Well if it is murder, would there be any other kind?

Of course not

Why not you ask?

Because he just agreed, it would be murder!

So why then would you expect any other answer than the one the anti-abortion passenger gave?

All Murder is illegal and so is "attempted" murder and adding the word "illegal" in parenthesis would be redundant but liberals wordsmith the English language like this is something we have gotten used to so to summarize,,

Essentially, what the liberal is asking was this:

What should the law do to people who attempt to commit murder? If you are like most of us knowing attempted murder carries a jail sentence and have an average I.Q., you would have said the same thing the anti abortionist said:

Put them IN JAIL!

Therefore, if anyone has said anything stupid here, it was liberal and all the rest of him or her who were stupid enough to agree with his delusional self-aggrandizing idiocy.

As usual, they are oblivious to how stupid they look until one of us dumb republicans has to light a candle for them to see the sun.

If I were the owner of this blog, I would delete this entire conversation just to avoid embarrassment.

- Kent Perry, AZ.

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