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The Morality of Reproduction (Dawkins & Down Syndrome)

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  • He actually didn't say anything about choice in that exchange. He made a flat statement (was it a suggestion or an order?) to "abort and try again. It would be immoral not to" You are giving him the benefit of the doubt that he meant that as an option for the woman in question and not a duty.

    This has been discuss and explained. He has since posted an explanation of what he said and what he meant due to the misunderstanding. It was a statement of his own moral standing in relation to the decision made in response to one person who brought up the question of the ethical dilemma of whether or not to have an abortion if the foetus had down syndrome.
    I'm saying it's likely that he thinks so. And as you have the right to give him the benefit of the doubt, I have the right to be extremely suspicious of him.
    If that is in fact what he thinks, it is extremely dangerous.

    I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt, I'm simply not inferring people believe and think things that they have not said they think or believe. Saying you think its likely that some person thinks X,Y,Z is utterly pointless. To go further and declare that person is extremely dangerous on the back of that is just simply ridiculous.
    I would love to hear him expound on those topics. Poor old Ryan Tubridy missed the chance to ask those questions a few years ago.

    Poor old Tubridy was too busy playing to the ignorance of the crowd and poking the great non believer to see what blasphemous thing he'd utter next.

    Why not ask him if you are actually interested. You could start by telling him you have already decided he thinks dumb people should be forcefully sterilised for the good of the human race. I'm sure that'll get a response given he'll be curious as to how you came to such a conclusion.




  • Where did I mention a God, or even a spaghetti monster? I didn't.
    You kind of did, through omission. If you refuse to base morality on a rational, scientific principle, what principle remains but the divine? Or if neither, what should morality be a 'slave to'?
    This is about the right of one human being, or even the collective of humans known as society,to decide arbitrarily whether another human being has a right to life based on a subjective assessment of their worth to society as a whole.
    Which is why anything other than very limited eugenics are not a good idea, unless we can be objective. Personally, I'd be of the opinion that it may eventually come about as a mixture of natural selection facilitated by market forces; that is leave it to the parents and like every other creature in the animal kingdom they will seek to choose offspring that are best capable of not only surviving but thriving and will cull those unlikely to be able to.
    We've been here before. And as another poster quoting Dawkins pointed out "IN THE 1920s and 1930s, scientists from both the political left and right would not have found the idea of designer babies particularly dangerous -"
    Already happens. What do you think that postpartum surgery on infant defects is? Our choice to change what nature, often cruelly, intended.
    If Valmont quoted Dawkins correctly, and I accept he may be unsure as to whether that is a genuine quote from the man himself, he (Dawkins) seems to be saying. "OK so the Nazis screwed it up for everyone. But let's try again"

    Can you be so sure that the results next time around will be so much more beneficial than last time?
    Well, I did say no, precisely because we can't.
    In fact I think that might have been the point you were trying to make about eugenics being hard to implement "in practice". I was actually agreeing with you there.
    Fair enough.
    Don't know why you brought the Spaghetti Monster into it.
    See above.




  • If you refuse to base morality on a rational, scientific principle, what principle remains but the divine? Or if neither, what should morality be a 'slave to'?

    .

    How do you base morality on a scientific principal? Science is amoral. I don't get what you are saying.

    There are other principals outside of science and the divine, as in secular values based on compassion and a need for order? God and spaghetti monsters really don't need to come into this.




  • diveout wrote: »
    How do you base morality on a scientific principal? Science is amoral. I don't get what you are saying.
    It's only amoral if you can only frame morality from the viewpoint of your own, different, morality.

    Consider the utilitarian concept of 'the good of the many outweigh the good of the few'. This can lead to many scenarios that we would consider amoral (for example culling rather than seeking to cure victims of a pandemic). But that's only because you're still using your moral position to assess it. From the utilitarian point of view, you've committed a moral act, not an amoral one.
    There are other principals outside of science and the divine, as in secular values based on compassion and a need for order? God and spaghetti monsters really don't need to come into this.
    A 'need for order' is more an end than a principle and can be implemented in a moral framework scientifically or divinely. As for 'secular values based on compassion', you'll need to explain what you mean, because compassion is based on an already existing moral framework, so it's a bit of a circular reference.

    From what I can see, morality tends to be based either on the rational or the supernatural. If there's an other option I'm more than happy to hear of it.




  • It's only amoral if you can only frame morality from the viewpoint of your own, different, morality.

    Consider the utilitarian concept of 'the good of the many outweigh the good of the view'. This can lead to many scenarios that we would consider amoral (for example culling rather than seeking to cure victims of a pandemic). But that's only because you're still using your moral position to assess it. From the utilitarian point of view, you've committed a moral act, not an amoral one.

    A 'need for order' is more an end than a principle and can be implemented in a moral framework scientifically or divinely. As for 'secular values based on compassion', you'll need to explain what you mean, because compassion is based on an already existing moral framework, so it's a bit of a circular reference.

    From what I can see, morality tends to be based either on the rational or the supernatural. If there's an other option I'm more than happy to hear of it.

    I still don't understand what you are saying. Scientific principals are based on the study and observations of nature.... they don't take moral positions.

    When Dawkins makes a statement such as he did, I see it as he has stepped outside the role of scientist and into the role of philosopher.


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  • diveout wrote: »
    I still don't understand what you are saying. Scientific principals are based on the study and observations of nature.... they don't take moral positions.
    Scientific is a misleading term, personally I'd prefer to use the word rational and see the difference largely as an axiomatic one. Rational morality will tend to be based on first principles, such as 'the good of the many outweigh the good of the few' and will strictly apply logic, mathematics and empirical evidence thereafter. Religious, or irrational, morality will start with far more fanciful axioms, such as 'I am the Lord your God, thou shalt have no other gods before me' and it's adherence to logic, mathematics and empirical evidence thereafter will tend to be far more... selective. The two may arrive at many of the same conclusions though.
    When Dawkins makes a statement such as he did, I see it as he has stepped outside the role of scientist and into the role of philosopher.
    All logic is ultimately axiomatic, and as such those initial presumptions will inevitably fall into the realm of philosophy.




  • Scientific is a misleading term, personally I'd prefer to use the word rational and see the difference largely as an axiomatic one. Rational morality will tend to be based on first principles, such as 'the good of the many outweigh the good of the view' and will strictly apply logic, mathematics and empirical evidence thereafter. Religious, or irrational, morality will start with far more fanciful axioms, such as 'I am the Lord your God, thou shalt have no other gods before me' and it's adherence to logic, mathematics and empirical evidence thereafter will tend to be far more... selective. The two may arrive at many of the same conclusions though.

    All logic is ultimately axiomatic, and as such those initial presumptions will inevitably fall into the realm of philosophy.

    Thank you for clearing that up. I used scientific because that is language you used and it made no sense.




  • diveout wrote: »
    Thank you for clearing that up. I used scientific because that is language you used and it made no sense.
    That's because I was originally responding to Snickers Man's claim that "morality is bounded by science, but cannot be a slave to it".




  • It's really funny that you keep referring to the "good of the VIEW." At first I thought it was a typo, but because you repeated it, I wonder is it some kind of sarcastic comment on applying morality to make things look good.




  • diveout wrote: »
    It's really funny that you keep referring to the "good of the VIEW." At first I thought it was a typo, but because you repeated it, I wonder is it some kind of sarcastic comment on applying morality to make things look good.
    No, it's a typo that I copy and pasted the second time :o


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  • No, it's a typo that I copy and pasted the second time :o

    Regardless, it's an apt comment in many contexts. Funny.






  • This is about the right of one human being, or even the collective of humans known as society,to decide arbitrarily whether another human being has a right to life based on a subjective assessment of their worth to society as a whole.

    Think limited resources in an ICU unit. There is no clean answer that makes everyone happy.

    I agree God and spaghetti monster have nothing to do with it.




  • This is about the right of one human being, or even the collective of humans known as society,to decide arbitrarily whether another human being has a right to life based on a subjective assessment of their worth to society as a whole.

    Firstly its not deciding on whether or not another human being has a right to life as at the point we are talking about no such being exists. It is deciding on whether or not another being is to exist at all.

    Secondly this is something that everyone does when they decide in the first place to have a child. They are arbitrarily deciding that another being is to exist. Before the decision is made and until the child is born no being exists.

    Which brings this back to the point of my OP. If people have a right to have a child then surely anything they decide as reason for or against is valid ? If not then surely there is no inherent right to have a child at all ?




  • Firstly its not deciding on whether or not another human being has a right to life as at the point we are talking about no such being exists. It is deciding on whether or not another being is to exist at all.

    Secondly this is something that everyone does when they decide in the first place to have a child. They are arbitrarily deciding that another being is to exist. Before the decision is made and until the child is born no being exists.

    Which brings this back to the point of my OP. If people have a right to have a child then surely anything they decide as reason for or against is valid ? If not then surely there is no inherent right to have a child at all ?

    Can I ask a couple of questions?

    Does EVERYONE decide?

    And can you explain what you mean by ARBITRARILY?




  • diveout wrote: »
    Can I ask a couple of questions?

    Certainly.
    Does EVERYONE decide?

    Everyone may not decide no but I don't see what that has to do with anything as we are talking about the decision are we not ?
    And can you explain what you mean by ARBITRARILY?
    ar•bi•trar•y (ˈɑr bɪˌtrɛr i)
    adj.
    1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.

    Its possible snickers man may have meant something else but my point stands nonetheless.




  • Firstly its not deciding on whether or not another human being has a right to life as at the point we are talking about no such being exists. It is deciding on whether or not another being is to exist at all.

    That is unanswerable. There are plenty of valid arguments to support that it is another being. In my mind, this is a how many angels are on the head of a pin question.
    Secondly this is something that everyone does when they decide in the first place to have a child. They are arbitrarily deciding that another being is to exist. Before the decision is made and until the child is born no being exists.

    Which brings this back to the point of my OP. If people have a right to have a child then surely anything they decide as reason for or against is valid ? If not then surely there is no inherent right to have a child at all ?

    This too is murky. In certain moral contexts, it is not a decision as such, or it is only in so far as it is fulfilling a moral obligation, as in Catholicism. So it becomes more than a right, it becomes an obligation. That is from a religious standpoint.

    From a scientific view point, if we take it for granted that the role of art, science and technology is to compensate for nature's lack or what it screws up on, then the idea of terminating the pregnancy of downs syndrome child becomes legitimate.

    In secular legal terms, to remove the right to have a child, is for the state to stamp all over reproductive rights. I'm thinking of China in this context, or some US states which have forced birth control implants into the women charged with child abuse.




  • diveout wrote: »
    There are plenty of valid arguments to support that it is another being.
    You presume that being a human being gives you an immutable right to life.




  • You presume that being a human being gives you an immutable right to life.

    No never said that. I said there were valid arguments to support that it is a being, said nothing about rights in lieu of that. Read again.




  • diveout wrote: »
    No never said that. I said there were valid arguments to support that it is a being, said nothing about rights in lieu of that. Read again.
    Easy cowboy. If being a human being does not ascribe rights, why raise the point then?




  • Easy cowboy. If being a human being does not ascribe rights, why raise the point then?

    I didn't raise the point. Snickers Man and Awkard Badger have differing positions on it and I addressed it.


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  • What is a right to life, exactly?




  • That's because I was originally responding to Snickers Man's claim that "morality is bounded by science, but cannot be a slave to it".

    I don't know why you have such a problem with that statement. Scientific observation and hypothesis are amoral. It's neither a good nor a bad thing that apples fall from trees due to gravity. Neither is the fact of severe weather, which can be explained, and predicted, and its effects anticipated and mitigated, by knowledge of the laws of physics applied to climatology, a good or a bad thing per se.

    There was a time, of course, when we thought it was. We thought earthquakes were caused by God's displeasure at our disappointing behaviour. That a probable meteor shower striking the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah in Biblical times was clear evidence of God's condign punishment for the gay (in every sense) party atmosphere in those places.

    We thought that earnest prayers, or the sacrifice of a virgin, or a goat or whatever, might affect the local weather to our advantage.

    Now through the gathering and application of scientific knowledge we know what causes thunderstorms, earthquakes, volcanic ash clouds, hurricanes, tsunamis etc. You can pray to God all you like but you have to know, it makes no difference either way.

    But our morality, which governs our behaviour, individually and collectively, is different. If a government agency, with access to the appropriate data gathering systems, knows that a hurricane, say, is about to strike one of the larger cities in its jurisdiction does it have a moral obligation to intervene? And to what extent should it do so?

    Now there's a debate. To what extent does it have a duty to prepare defences in advance, to organise proper evacuation and recovery procedures, to repair damage, to restore industry, to compensate for damages. Opinions will vary on all these topics and I am not suggesting we debate them in detail here.

    But I think to do nothing at all would be immoral. Science has empowered us with the knowledge to anticipate such events and to react how we wish. How we do so is determined, at least in part, by our sense of morality.

    That is what I mean by saying that morality is bounded by science. Science provides us with knowledge that our forefathers never had.
    We must make our moral choices within the limits of that knowledge.

    EG. It's not the promiscuous woman that is causing the tidal wave that's heading our way, it's the oceanic earthquake that occurred a few hours ago which set this force of water in motion. Now what are you going to do about it? There's your choice.


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