Avatar Placeholder
Does this one actually come up a lot in your conversations?
Hide Replies 8
Thankfully, not often. It came up a few times for me and then a reader asked me how I would handle it, so clearly they heard it too. I wrote the post because it is a more unusual thing to hear, and can be really tricky to navigate well. I suspect that that practicality is one of the reasons why it continues to be one of the most read pieces on this blog every year.
Hide Replies 7
Though i have never said that " i wish i had been aborted", when my mom told me how sick she was during her pregnancy, i told her that "she should have aborted me". I felt bad that she suffered being pregnant with me. I must have been about 10 years old when i said that.
I consider the question a "moot" point. If i would have been aborted i would not know, nor would i be here to care. where is the loss?
I am Pro-choice and consider my mom carrying me to term and giving birth a "gift" NOT an obligation. Her rights and well being came first, and i don't think i had any right to demand she give me life anymore than i can demand it from God.
So tell me what is the loss of never coming into existing or dying before one even is aware of existence?
Hide Replies 6
I'm sorry to hear that your mom had a difficult pregnancy with you. I remember a few years ago several of my friends all suffering from difficult pregnancies. It's rough having a bad cold or flu, but being sick for that long is really tough. :(
Having said that, I'm glad your mom didn't abort you.
I think you and I probably have different views of harm. I think you can be harmed even if you're not aware of it. I think Frank Beckwith makes this point well with this thought experiment: Imagine your rich uncle who you didn't even know existed died and left you millions of dollars in his will. But the executor of the estate realizes that you don't even know he existed and figures out how to steal your rightful inheritance without you ever knowing about it.
Were you still harmed? I think so, even though as you put it, you would not know, nor would you care. There is still loss.
In your last sentence, you say "what is the loss of never coming into existing or dying before one even is aware of existence?" I think there is no loss of never coming into existence, but there is loss of being killed once you do exist, even if you're unaware of your existence because you haven't developed the cognitive abilities to be aware of your existence yet.
Hide Replies 5
i do disagree with your definition of harm. If i never got the inheritance from my rich uncle, i would NOT feel harmed, because i never had to money to begin with. To me the harm would be in someone stealing from me after HAVING it in my possession (the money) and me being AWARE of it.
No i don't consider being killed before i know i existed a harm. Harm in my opinion has to be experienced.
i guess we will have to agree to disagree on the definition of harm and on abortion.
Hide Replies 4
Yes, we may have to agree to disagree on this one, but to be clear, I didn't say that you would FEEL harmed in the rich uncle example. I said that you would BE harmed in the rich uncle example. Do you disagree that harm was done if someone steals millions of dollars from you without telling you?
Another example might help, and I think this one also comes from Beckwith. If a female celebrity ends up in a temporary coma in a hospital, and one night is raped by a hospital janitor, could we agree that she was harmed even if when she wakes up she doesn't learn about it? (Assuming that there is no lingering evidence or pain or anything.)
I can easily argue that she has been harmed, but it seems like, if your view is correct that "harm has to be experienced," then the celebrity has not been harmed. I think that's a problem for your view of harm.
Hide Replies 3
I don't consider it a harm because nothing was taken from me. Since i did not have the money to begin with, how can i be harmed? my lot is no worse for not getting the million dollars.
As far as the rape example, it is hard for me to say, I think if the person NEVER knows and their is no pregnancy or STD, i would say the harm is the knowing or being aware that it happened to you. If it were me, i would NOT tell the person that she was raped if their are no ill effects (like pregnancy, or std). It would be harmful and traumatizing to tell her in my opinion, it would be best for her not to know if it would cause her suffering.
You know that saying, "i wish you would not have told me", the harm comes from the knowing that something happened to you.
I will give you an example. If my husband had a one night stand, he NEVER tells me, how am i harmed? It is in the knowing that i am harmed. If my husband decides it was a mistake and he never does it again, and our marriage continues, i say no harm done.
i am not saying my view is correct, that is my view of harm for the most part. I am open to other views of harm depending on the situation.
Hide Replies 2
First of all, I really appreciate your open-mindedness on this subject. I'm also definitely open to being wrong, and your response here is helpful to get a better sense of where we're probably disagreeing.
You said, "my lot is no worse for not getting the million dollars." That confuses me. It seems obvious that you would be better off if you had millions of dollars. Can you help me understand why you don't think you would be better off with millions of dollars? Is it a "money doesn't bring happiness" kind of view?
You raise an interesting question about whether or not the rape victim should be told about the rape. I think you might be right, that it would be better for her to not know. I would still argue that she was harmed though. There was a taking away her human dignity when the rapist molested her.
So I think this is the main area where we currently disagree. I think you are harmed if your husband cheats on you, although I'm open to the idea that there are at least some cases where you're still better off not knowing. Even if that's the case, your husband has violated his vow to you, he may now be falling in love with someone else, there are all kinds of harm from adultery even if you're unaware of the root cause.
Do you think I'm off base on that? Definitely open to other views of harm.
Hide Replies 1
Interesting discussion, though i agree i would be better off with 1 million dollars, but i am NOT worse off for NOT having it in the first place. I guess my definition of harm is being WORSE of then you were before.
If you promise me to give me a brand new Cadillac, but for whatever reason i don't get it. I am no WORSE off for continuing to drive my old car, nothing gained, nothing lost, that is the way i look at it. I still have my old car .
I agree that adultery is more complicated and the degree of harm depends on the situation and how it plays out. In some cases NOT knowing is better if it could cause more harm to the marriage.
I hope that better clarifies where i am coming from.