Bloody shovel

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On Ethics 2: Children

Foseti links to Laura Wood’s blog, aptly named “The Thinking Housewife”. She’s a longtime commenter at Lawrence Auster’s, and gives a fresh perspective as a Traditionalist woman, who wants neither to work outside the home, nor vote, nor dominate her husband. Her blog is also much fun because it resembles so much a stereotypical Victorian house, with all those housewives debating moral topics while drinking tea, and the odd wimpish man participating.

Yet on the whole the tone of discourse is just… womanly. Which is to say simple, and prone to long tirades of moral outrage without much argument. Well there is some argument, and she must be commended for it. But its mostly Mrs Wood who does the thinking. Her tea-mates, not much. In  this post (h/t foseti, who I guess makes his wife read that blog?), they comment this news:

ETHICISTS ARGUE IN FAVOR OF ‘AFTER-BIRTH ABORTIONS‘ AS NEWBORNS ’ARE NOT PERSONS’

The news talks about how some ethics experts (not fat guys on suits this time though) argue that, once you think about it, infanticide and abortion aren’t really that different. And abortion is good, so why not kill children? At least Down Syndrome babies. The tests aren’t 100% effective.

Of course the Traditionalist ladies are up on arms. See how Mrs Woods correspondent writes:

At 22 and pregnant, I’m so horrified by this I haven’t much in the way of rational thought to offer, aside from the obvious statements of utter outrage. The reasoning of these “ethicists” points so dramatically to the slippery slope we find ourselves on when we allow ourselves to play God and begin determining who deserves life and who doesn’t. The only thing more shocking is asking yourself the question “what kind of mother would carry a child for 40 weeks, go through the ordeal of delivery and then allow someone to terminate the life of her child?”

I am utterly disgusted.

Ok. You are 22, and pregnant, and horrified. Oh, and disgusted. So what? As a linguist, women’s speech always fascinates me. Fascinates me for the utter pointlessness of it all. Here this women is using some arguably very important news to signal her youth, worth (she’s pregnant, some dude came inside her! Darwinian victory!) and her moral uprightness. Her question didn’t actually want an answer, but I’ll give her anyway. “what kind of mother would carry a child for 40 weeks, go through the ordeal of delivery and then allow someone to terminate the life of her child?”

Well, a fucking lot of mothers. Don’t make me grab examples, just read the damn news. Shit happens all the time. And in some countries it’s actually pretty normal. Loads of Chinese mothers get their baby daughters and throw them into the river. And little teenager nurses help them with the process. Life might be sacred, but it can be very cheap.

In fact it has been extremely cheap for most of history. Chicks get pregnant very easily actually, and without good contraception, you don’t need to do a lot of shagging to get a woman pregnant every year after menarche. Which produces a lot of children. See Afghanistan, arguably the most fucked up place on earth, also the one with the highest TFR. And, you know, excess children get really annoying after a while. It’s understandable that postmoderns, who put all their Darwinian eggs in the same small basket, thing that children are awesome and sacred. They even complain when a kid is killed in a war! Look ladies, people used to cut the throat of their babies just for fun during religious ceremonies. And Rome was founded by abandoned children too. Abandoned children were probably as common as slaves. Sheesh, check the wikipedia article on infanticide. It’s huge. Or if you have some time, read the page on Psychohistory. It’s full of the fucked up things parents used to do to their kids.

Now, it’s true that we don’t use to do that anymore. The Christian Church likes babies. In fact the Church has a weird obsession with numbers. The original prohibition of infanticide was surely a plot to boost early Christianity’s numbers: the Church needed people, and fast. The gamble paid off, after 300 years of  courting woman, slaves and exposed children, Christianity became the imperial religion. And it’s still hanging around. But even after achieving supremacy, they cling to the original natalist instinct. To the extent that you aren’t allowed to even kill a genetically defective kid. Well people should be asking a lot of questions to their omnipotent God for designing DNA with mutations and all that. But having to keep around and feed a totally useless kid is surely too much. Romulus and Remus were exposed for far less.

You see that’s what happens when you try to apply formal logic to ethics. Ethics is a daughter discipline of philosophy. In Europe only, of course. Confucius never thought of using logic with ethics; he talked history. Jews also didn’t play with their law. It was revealed by god, and that was it. It’s a distinctly European tradition, that of pursuing objective morals. Universal morals. Morals that apply to any situation. Hence absurd sophistries like the Trolley Problem. Logic is based on separateness, on identity, on non contradiction. But the real world is never that clear cut.

See children. In my days as a libertarian, when I was a clueless kid, I remember asking my ideological gurus: what about children? When does a child earn freedom? If authority is bad, parental authority must be also bad, no? Where do we draw the line? Those full of themselves Randians would of course shut up, or sputter some convoluted BS. The fact is you can’t draw the line. Any line you draw would make no sense. Not in any logical way. There’s no general difference between all 17 year olds and a 18 year olds. And if you are going to, as libertarian say, give 100% freedom and autonomy to a person, you should damn well decide the exact moment and reason for doing so.

Same thing applies to babies. If the ‘right to live’ depends on being a ‘human person’, well when does that start? When is does the ‘new person’ start? Birth? Conception? Some random point in between? Why stop there anyway? Let’s say, Catholic style, that the person starts at ‘conception’. Well the fact of sex being a producer of persons is quite an elegant solution. But hey, before conception there’s DNA there too. It’s a potential person too (well, half of one). Why not give them rights too? Ban masturbation! Sperm has feelings too.

Ethics used to be situational, created in a decentralized, evolutionary way. People just agreed to norms after trial and error, and a vague sense of a common purpose (survival, for starters). Once in a while a smart ruler would come with better norms, subjected to a not-so-vague purpose (his survival). People would love them for making things easy. But that’s long gone. We don’t accept common sense, localism. Everything has to be universal, divine. It reminds me of the lately discussions in Vox Day’s between him, the feet-on-the-ground Catholic, and the almost Islam-ish, abstract Calvinists. But that doesn’t work. Ethics is about power. Everything is about power. Power is God.

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6 responses to “On Ethics 2: Children

  1. zhai2nan2 March 3, 2012 at 04:43

    “Power is God.”
    I can read this two ways:
    a) Literally:
    It is true that “there is no strength, and no power, that is not of God,” but also, God is more than mere power.
    b) Metaphorically, in the context of organized religion.
    “Social power over worshipers is the real objective of organized religion.”
    Yeah, but that deserves to be said clearly.

    • spandrell March 3, 2012 at 13:55

      Actually neither. I meant that Power decides everything.
      In Theism, God decides ethics.
      In reality, Power decides ethics. At least as they exist in the modern Cathedral.

  2. The Slitty Eye March 3, 2012 at 14:41

    The point that it’s pointless to apply logic to ethics is clear. Same why you can’t appeal to proles with logic reasons. But what I said is that there should be at least one particular logic explanation for the existence of every piece of ethics. This is actually revealed by your post naturally.

  3. Alrenous March 3, 2012 at 17:48

    That links to my homepage, which means it already doesn’t go here:
    http://alrenous.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-prevent-trolley-solutions.html

  4. Pingback: Sola fide 2: The Enforcers | Bloody shovel

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