Re: Traditional Xtianity teaches

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Tue Oct 22 2002 - 14:29:40 EDT

  • Next message: Adrian Teo: "RE: Traditional Xtianity teaches"

    Adrian posted (in part): "In all honesty, I fail to see an argument here,
    and don't see how the above statements demonstrate that situational
    ethics is not necessarily an evil. You seem to be appealing to sentiment,
    rather than reason."

    I think the shoe belongs on the other foot, to show situational ethics is
    necessarily an evil. Of course situational ethics can (and often is)
    misused. And I have no interest in defending Fletcher's book.
    " One could also set up similar scenarios with the child abuse as one of
    two options. What all these have in common is that they have no relation
    to real life. In any case, one is in fact able to make an ethical
    decision in your given scenario - choose the lesser of the two evils
    without intending either consequence. A decision is not immoral if one
    does not intend for either of the consequences, but is forced to choose

    All such scenarios are devised to illustrate a point -- nothing more. Did
    the second one actually happen in real life? Did a householder ever lie
    to the gestapo to save a life?

    As for your last sentence, I did not say that either decision in the
    railway car case was "immoral," only that sometimes a decision between
    two terrible outcomes must be chosen. So we do not disagree here.

    "Yes, I have, and they are all very touching and painful stories. But in
    order to think objectively about ethics, one has to rise above the
    emotions and seek truth. In several of the testimonies, the termination
    of life was chosen over the threat to the mothers' fertility. These
    clearly reveal the underlying mindset, which is that of this culture in
    America as well. How many women (and their doctors) would choose to end
    their OWN life rather than lose their fertility? Why then, is it more
    justifiable to end another person's life for the sake of preserving
    fertility? I think these testimonies reveal the depth of the confusion in
    this culture over the making of ethical decisions. Consequentialism has
    taken over as the dominant voice of ethics. Can you imagine the apostles
    and martyrs saying, "Better that I not confess my faith now and be
    killed, so that I can live on and witness to many more people." That's
    the "beauty" of consequentialism - one can use it to justify just about
    anything. "

    Well, first of all a lot of early Xtians did just that, and on the same
    general basis of reasoning.

    Secondly, you speak above that "termination of life was chosen over the
    threat to the mothers' fertility." I just reread the six (actually seven)
    testimonies. In every case, the fetus was going to, if born, suffer
    greatly and die quickly. Some had no brain at all; one had a brain
    growing outside the skull. The seventh testimony, by the husband of the
    sixth lady, Claudia Crown, said "The procedure under assault in H.R.
    I833/S.939 protected my wife's health and possibly saved her life. It
    allowed my son's suffering to end. It allowed us to look forward to a
    growing family. It was the safest medical procedure available to us."
    Similar statements are all over the testimonies. Yes, it is
    consequentialist ethics. And the decisions are tough ones. And putting
    the government police presence into any one of those six situations,
    which the bill would have done, is a moral wrong.

    Thirdly, thanks for at least reading those testimonies. What they say to
    me is that late term abortion laws are morally wrong; what they say to
    you is that late term abortion laws ought not consider "emotional" issues
    but only the unborn fetus. I see also that you prefer to construct your
    personal ethics solely on deontological grounds and never on
    consequentialist or character (virtue) grounds. Am I correct in this?

    If so, we can agree that our ethical reasoning is simply different and
    close the discussion. But you appear to claim more -- that
    consequentialist grounds for an ethical decision are invalid. I don't
    know as that position can be maintained in all situations.

    John Burgeson (Burgy)
            (an eclectic site about science/theology, quantum mechanics,
             ethics, baseball, humor, cars, philosophy, etc.)

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