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kbg
Where do I go if the person does not see a problem with creating babies for organ donation? Or should I at least acknowledge that they are consistent?
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Lorax
Hi, it seems to be a fair question why exactly this would be wrong. It wouldn't harm anyone and there would be nobody who is treated disrespectfully. And others would benefit from these organs. So this might be a situation where some people would imagine something sinister that doesn't need to be present, and so it's hard to find a great reason to think this would be wrong.
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GoldenHarp
I second Lorax here, what exactly does Kaake believe the “major ethical costs” of such a view to be??
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Elizabeth
I think the major ethical cost is precisely that it's not true that "no-body is treated disrespectfully." The entire project requires treating bodies as mere commodities. In the paradigm of virtue ethics, one has to ask, "What kind of person will doing this make me?". It seems the answer in this case is clear: One who sees living bodies as something to manipulate toward a disposable end.
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Lorax
So there's a famous case "Baby Theresa" that's discussed in many cases, including James Rachels' chapter 1 of the Elements of Moral Philosophy. You might want to look that up. If you can't find it, let me know!
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Anonymous
You could always press further and question whether it would be wrong to create brainless humans for the sake of sexual exploitation rather than for organs. But I think the very last line is pertinent, "You can have your pro-choice view and be logically consistent, but it’s always going to be at a major ethical cost."
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Lorax
I do not usually take this tone, but calling this type of view on philosophy of mind - which is very common - a "weird worldview" only shows that the person saying this just doesn't know what they are talking about: they are a hack for thinking that something like John Locke's super influential - and plausible! - view on personal identity is "weird."
This blog post was not competently done. The author explicitly reveals that he does not know much about philosophy of mind and personal identity (why are we reading someone who says this? "I did more research, and the process by which the commenter believes the mind comes to be actually matches up with a specific philosophical approach to what’s called the “mind-body problem.”) Given that, he should not be attempting to critique views he does not adequately understand.
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Elizabeth
I myself think it is laudable that the author transparently describes his process of coming to terms with these ideas. I don't think a person has to have a Ph.D in philosophy of mind in order to accurately grapple with claims. Instead of critiquing the author's ignorance or use of the word "weird," I would be curious how you would respond to his example objections to emergent dualism; if you are very knowledgeable about the topic I think that would be especially interesting to hear.
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Lorax
Hi, this type of view (of which "emergent dualism" is just one variety) is very common, which is why it is misleading and offensive to call it weird (if people call your views weird, when they are not, that is rude and not productive). There are many ways to get at this type of view, but it's often inspired by, or a version of, John Locke's view on persons and personal identity. But here are some other sources - of different types that present the view:
"When did your life begin"? from the Respect People Foundation:
https://www.respectpeople.org/first-question
Does "life" begin at conception? Biological versus "biographical" life
https://www.abortionarguments.com/2020/10/when-does-life-begin.html
Also see the whole book there.
Discussions of the concept of "brain birth" are relevant:
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1990-03-19-me-476-story.html#:~:text=The%20first%20neocortical%20cells%20appear,on%20human%20fetal%20brain%20development.
Personal Identity and Ethics:
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-ethics/
Jeff McMahan's views are influential here, but there are many others.
On the babies without brains objections:
Abortion, Metaphysics and Morality: A Review of Francis Beckwith’s Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice
https://academic.oup.com/jmp/article/36/3/261/895026
I hope this helps. Thanks!
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Elizabeth
Thank you, I appreciate all the resources.
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joshbrahm
So I didn't realize until just now that this comment was posted here, and not just under the Facebook post where a back and forth happened. If anybody wants to read that, https://www.facebook.com/EqualRightsInstitute/posts/2294793437332524.
I'm pasting Andrew's reply to Nathan, for the record: Nathan I’ve read your comments. You seem to have raised one semi-substantive issue (my use of the word “weird”), and one line of ad hominem attack based on an uncharitable reading of my comment about researching aspects of the mind-body problem. I think Clinton responded fairly effectively to the first point, but my use of the word “weird” doesn’t imply that a view isn’t logically consistent or that it isn’t held by even a majority of professional philosophers. Given that this is a popular-level blog, I’m using words as they are generally understood. Certainly ideas, even influential ones, can be considered “weird.” You use Locke as your example, and seem to assert that I can’t call his magisterial view “weird,” yet I don’t think it’s controversial for me to call his view that theft is tantamount to slavery “weird,” influential though it is. And certainly Freud, arguably the father of psychology, had weird views! Also, given that @August (who also took issue with the word “weird”) admitted that the commenter’s particular view was “unorthodox,” would this entire line of critique be resolved if I switch the adjectives? “Unorthodox” raises the Flesch-Kincaid score a bit, but I’m happy to make that change. And that brings us to the ad hominem. You state that I am a hack comparable to someone who listened to Fauci talk about COVID-19 once and decided to teach people about microbiology. You seem to have somehow interpreted my phrasing, “. . . a specific philosophical approach to what’s called the ‘mind-body problem’” as meaning that I just stumbled upon that idea for the first time, and therefore I’m a hack. Obviously that’s not what I meant. I was explaining it for our readers, many of whom may have been hearing about the mind-body problem for the first time. We’re not writing for philosophy professors; we’re writing for a lay audience. It seems like you should have realized that by now, and this interpretation of what I meant there is so uncharitable as to be fairly astounding. You also seem to take issue with the fact that I did research for an article...odd, considering the entire structure of graduate education is based on learning through research. I wrote this post in a casual tone for a general audience. We aim for a ninth-grade reading level; I managed 10.5 while trying to give people without much philosophical background a basic introduction to the mind-body problem and issues with the way our commenter resolved it. None of this implies that I didn’t know what the mind-body problem was before I began my research, and I think it was actually intellectually virtuous that I delved deeper into the literature in order to best understand the perspective of the commenter and place his ideas within an appropriate philosophical category. I didn’t feel the need to explain Cartesian dualism, the pineal gland (speaking of “weird”), or issues with materialism because it wasn’t relevant to the point of this post. I don’t use big words or flex by demonstrating everything I know because it would weaken my piece and make me look condescending. Your repeated ad hominem attacks in the comment section of a popular-level blog should be an embarrassment for someone who claims to promote better dialogue about abortion.
Having said that, we agreed to change the word "weird" to "unorthodox" which Nathan was fine with. That's partially why I'm posting this here, because now that the post wording has changed, the comments might be confusing to people who come later. To be fair, the early comments happened before we changed the wording.
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