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  1. #33
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    Aug 2004
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    Re: The Cliff: a thought experiment on abortion

    I'm going to address your replies in terms of the cliff metaphor

    1. Whether you are or are not a parent. - Whether or not I already saved a kid from a cliff dictates whether or not I can save another one? That doesn't make sense.
    2. How many people are in your family. - Same as above. "I've already saved five kids. The sixth one gets to drop." Doesn't sound moral to me.
    3. What activities you will spend your time doing. - What activities I have available to me dictates whether I save this kid from this cliff. Nope. Not a moral concern.
    4. The possibility of other children being born. - The only sense I could see from this would be some twisting around where it turned into "if I don't have an abortion then I won't be able to have more kids". I'd be okay with calling that moral but that seems REALLY rare.
    5. Fear of the unknown. - I don't know what might happen and it's scary so it's moral to drop the kid. No.
    6. Changing the priorities you have for the other members of your family. - Other people I love and care about might be highly inconvenienced if I don't drop the kid. Yikes. These are not sounding moral.
    7. The possibility of losing someone you come to care about. - I don't know about you, but if someone said, "Drop that kid off the cliff or I'm LEAVING you" I'd let them walk away.
    8. Hormonal changes. - The chemistry in my body is changing so I can throw the kid off the cliff. Just... wow.
    9. Changes to future health risks. - Again, this one I would call moral AND super rare.
    10. Social embarrassment and stigma - I'm embarrassed to be on this cliff and I hope no one sees me toss this kid to their doom. Ick. No. Not moral.
    11. The decreased ability to find a spouse whom you can marry and raise children with. - If I save this kid's life I might not be able to find a spouse so I had better drop them. Wow...
    12. The loss of friends and family - See 7
    13. The loss or degradation of your professional career - It's another debate entirely as they're not followed so well, but there are laws against that.
    14. The autonomy not to love someone you haven't chosen to love - I don't love this kid. I don't even know them. So it's cool to toss them down the cliff. Not cool at all.

    2 for 14? Not good.

    This is the fundamental thing about this analogy that you guys don't like: you call it a "bad analogy" because you think it doesn't factor in all these other concerns, but that's not what's happening here. What's happening is that it's FILTERING OUT the bad so-called "justifications". It highlights just how little these allegedly big concerns when weighing them against a life. That doesn't make for a bad analogy. It makes for cutting though irrelevant arguments.

    It's like if I were an alcoholic and you told me, "Zhav drinking booze is like drinking poison. You're KILLING yourself with every drink." and I counter with "Well your analogy is bad because it doesn't take into account things like how delicious rum is or how I forget about my problems when I'm drunk or how hilarious I become". The answer back isn't "Oh, you're right it is a bad analogy." The answer is "THOSE DON'T JUSTIFY POISONING YOURSELF". Likewise with this analogy saying "Well, I might get embarrassed about some aspect of this [your number 10]" isn't a moral justification for abortion or throwing a kid off a cliff.

 

 

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