Ethics Survey: Ann Althouse’s “Big Question”

Reflecting on an essay in today’s Times, “Future Cringe/One day we’ll look back on this moment and wonder: What were we thinking?” by essayist/novelist Natasha Stagg, my favorite quirky blogger, Ann Althouse writes,

I love the big question, what are we doing now that we are going to be embarrassed/ashamed of in the future? I noticed this question when I was a child and heard things said about people in the past, as if those people were benighted and ridiculous. We are those people to people somewhere out there in the future. How can I avoid being looked at by them the way people today are looking at the people of the past?

One answer is to be more charitable to the people of the past. Realize that some day you’ll be in their position, and don’t you want those future people to be charitable toward you? Embarrassment is over-worried about. Maybe those people in the future are looking back at us and laughing about how prudish and uptight we were to think of them feeling embarrassed about us. That is, one day we’ll look back and be embarrassed that we were embarrassed.

Typical Ann: raising what she calls a “big question,” and almost immediately suggesting it isn’t so big after all, writing, “Embarrassment is over-worried about,” which is also an interesting sentence coming from a writer who is so often a language pedant.

As an ethicist who believes that human understanding of what is right and wrong constantly evolves and usually improves, my initial reaction to Ann’s question is, “What do you mean we?” I’ve been around a while, and I can honestly say that I’m not “embarrassed” by anything I once believed in, or any major reaction to the data life gave me. Individual deeds, words and moments, sure. I have plenty of past moments I wince to think about.

But Stagg is talking about the Wuhan virus freak-out, so don’t look my way. I didn’t freak out, and I did my best to try to keep others from doing so, failing miserably. However, the pandemic is the kind of event one’s response should only be embarrassed about if one knew, or should have known, that one’s response was dishonest, cowardly, or destructive, or if one had a genuine choice and foolishly took the wrong one. The pandemic was a unique challenge, and we were, as Marty Baron ( Liev Schreiber) says in “Spotlight” when a Boston Globe staffer is admitting that he could have blown the whistle on the Catholic Diocese predator priest scandal sooner, just “stumbling around in the dark.”

Yes, I think Dr. Fauci should be embarrassed. Andrew Cuomo should be embarrassed. The New York Times should be embarrassed, and the health “experts” who endorsed the mass George Floyd demonstrations as an exception to their warnings about large gatherings should hide their heads under bags. But for the most part, I think the pandemic is a poor example for Ann’s question. Continue reading

Kamala Harris, Signature Significance, And “The Right Side Of History”

Vice President Kamala Harris, in her speech delivered on the 50th anniversary of Roe v.Wade, didn’t babble incoherently as usual. She just invoked one logical fallacy, rationalization and intellectually dishonest statement after another. The highlight, however, was her claim to the abortion fans in her audience that “we are on the right side of history.”

That’s signature significance. Nobody makes that argument unless they are a con-artist, a demagogue, or an idiot. In Kamala’s case, all three are likely true. Saying one is on the right side of history is just an extraordinarily obnoxious way of saying, “We’re right and everyone else is wrong” without actually making a substantive argument. To quote myself in the description of the phrase (it’s Rationalization #1B. The Psychic Historian on the list):

Every movement, every dictator, Nazis, Communists, ISIS, the Klan, activists for every conceivable policy across the ideological spectrum, think their position will be vindicated eventually. In truth, they have no idea whether it will or not, or if it is, for how long. If history teaches anything, it is that we have no idea what will happen and what ideas and movements will prevail. “I’m on the right side of history is nothing but the secular version of “God is on our side,” and exactly as unprovable.

Abortion supporters have been working hard lately to argue that the Bible supports abortion because it doesn’t expressly condemn it. A text thousands of years old that predates all scientific knowledge about the unborn and the predates modern medicine is irrelevant to the abortion debate. More…

It is a device to sanctify one’s own beliefs while mocking opposing views, evoking an imaginary future that can neither be proven or relied upon. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable… Those who resort to “I’m on the right side of history” (or “You’re on the wrong side”) are telling us that they have run out of honest arguments.

Which nicely describes Kamala, if not all abortion advocates. Here is dishonesty exemplified: Harris, in her speech, said, “We are here together because we collectively believe and know America is a promise. America is a promise. It is a promise of freedom and liberty — not for some, but for all. A promise we made in the Declaration of Independence that we are each endowed with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Continue reading

Ethics Villains: House Democrats

Is there any political issue in American history that was more corrupting than abortion rights? Based on last week’s House vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, I don’t think so.

The bill stated that any infant born alive after an attempted abortion is a “legal person for all purposes under the laws of the United States.” Doctors would be required to care for those infants as a “reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive.” How could anyone who doesn’t endorse legalized infanticide oppose that measure? [You can read the whole bill here.]

Yet the bill only narrowly passed, 220-210, because every Democrat except two voted “no.” (We all know that the Democratic Senate will block passage anyway.)  Only one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, voted for the bill with one other Democrat, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, courageously voting “present.” All of the rest, totally in thrall to the most extreme pro-abortion activists, want doctors to have the option of dashing out the brains of a living new-born who has survived an abortion against the nearest wall. Don’t think they won’t: doctors who botch abortions get sued. But hey, no baby, no problem! Continue reading

Unethical Pro-Abortion Quote Of The Year: Actress Ann Hathaway

“…Abortion can be another word for mercy.”

—Actress Anne Hathaway, revealing her ethical deficits and intellectual limitations while appearing on “The View”

Oh, hell. I’ve always liked Ann Hathaway. Now I have to continue liking her despite knowing she’s a brain-dead, self-awareness-lacking, ethics dummy.

Just so I’m not accused of misrepresenting Hathaway’s moronic and offensive claim, here is her full sentence:

“[In] my own personal experience with abortion and I don’t think we talk about this enough, abortion can be another word for mercy. We don’t know. We don’t know. We know that no two pregnancies are alike, and it follows that no two lives are alike, it follows that no two conceptions are alike. So how can we have a law, how can we have a point of view on this that says we must treat everything the same?”

Someone can only make such an absurd statement by refusing to acknowledge what an abortion is, and that two lives are involved, not just one. If she were arguing for abortion when a fetus is hopelessly deformed or certain to have devastating maladies, that’s a legitimate ethical debate to have. Abortion then might be described as merciful. (But some advocate aborting Down Syndrome babies as similarly “merciful.”) Hathaway wasn’t considering the unborn at all, however. In her warped (but too common) view, it is mercy for the mother to allow her kill the child for her own benefit.

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October Surprise! Ethics Observations As Herschel Walker’s Past Strikes Back…

The first observation is that neither of the surprises should surprise anyone at all. Former NFL football star Herschel Walker is about as vulnerable a political candidate for high office as one can imagine, even in the “Get Trump!” era. I’ve covered much of this already. He’s exaggerated his scholastic achievements, hidden the fact that he has several children conceived without the formality of marriage, admitted bouts with mental illness and a suicide attempt, and vaguely acknowledges committing domestic violence.

Walker has no political experience or relevant achievements that would make him a qualified candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. He’s a local celebrity and has personal charisma; he is also an African-American in a state with a lot of black voters (and football fans). That’s about it. In the United States of America in the Age of the Great Stupid, that can also be enough.

It was irresponsible for the Republican Party to present such a cynically-chosen nominee to the voters of Georgia, incompetent for voters to check his name in the primary, and certifiably stupid for the GOP to store a substantial amount of their chances of taking back control of the Senate on such a shaky vessel.

Yesterday, they all got what they deserved… Continue reading

Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle Rebuts The “Pro Choice” Argument With A Single Word

“Foyle’s War” is one of the very best British TV dramas. A period detective show set during and shortly after WWII, often in the city of Hastings, it was created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV, then ran from 2002 to 2015. “It “Foyle’s War” starred the excellent British actor Michael Kitchens playing Christopher Foyle, a sharp, understated, rye and blunt police detective solving cases often based on historical incidents.

In an especially excellent episode in the second season called “Among the Few,” Foyle, already investigating a petrol-stealing scheme, must solve the murder of a young pregnant woman found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs. All of the suspects are RAF pilots. Foyle interviews the doctor who told the young woman she was four months pregnant (she had no idea) shortly before she died. Learning of her death, the elderly physician expresses sorrow that a young life had ended so prematurely.

“Two,” Foyle says curtly, correcting the doctor.

Case Study: Prof. William MacAskill Proves Once Again Why Philosophers Are Useless And Untrustworthy

 William MacAskill is a philosopher, a professor at Oxford who has a new book out for the riff-raff, “What We Owe the Future.” MacAskill is a key spokesman for the so-called “effective altruism” movement which advocates “longtermism,” a an ethical position prioritizes the moral worth of future generations and obligation of present society to protect their interests. You know where this goes, right? “Longtermists argue that humanity should be investing far more resources into mitigating the risk of future catastrophes in general and extinction events in particular,” writes New York Magazine. Got it. This is a another climate change activist group shill trying to get civilization to shut down based on speculation, scaremongering and dubious science.

Ann Althouse, who has the time on her hands to read the increasingly leftist New York Magazine so I don’t have to, flagged an interview with MacAskill, and had the wit and integrity to note that the philosopher so focused on the value of future lives never mentioned abortion nor was asked about it. Ann, who initially pronounced the Dobbs decision monstrous, does have integrity, and tracked down another recent book-promotion interview  where abortion was raised. Asked whether his movement should be anti-abortion, MacAskill says no, and when pressed on his reasons (admittedly lamely), resorts to pure jargon and doubletalk, ducking the issue: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck”

Tom P. has contributed an inspiring and thoughtful Comment of The Day in response to the disturbing but ultimately uplifting story of how a Russian orphan, abused by her American adoptive parents, not only survived and thrived (that’s Sabrina today with her family, above), but did so without succumbing to bitterness and despair.

Tom’s first line in his comment is especially provocative, I think. When are “we given” that one life we have the opportunity to do with what we can? Isn’t it at the moment a unique genetic being comes into existence, with the living biochemical capacity to develop and grow if others don’t interfere for their own reasons to stop the process? If that is the case, and I do not see any way to deny it with intellectual honesty, how can abortion activists argue their position without dealing with the existence of two lives in the abortion equation, and not only the mother’s?

But the rest of Tom P.’s Comment of the Day on the two-part post, “The Incredible Sabrina Caldwell Ethics Train Wreck,” is equally thought-provoking. Here it is:


We are each given but one life and it is up to us and only us how we choose to live it. In the United States at least, except for our genetics and eventually dying everything else is of our choosing. That is not to say that everything is within our control or that our choices come without consequences. Basically, regardless of the situation each of us can control the choice but not the outcome.

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Learning Curves: The Supreme Court Successfully Teaches Democrats A Crucial Lesson

This is progress.

The lesson is: Legislate and pass Constitutional laws the public supports, and don’t depend on courts to do your job for you.

The House of Representatives, with Democrats being joined by 47 Republicans, voted yesterday to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, 267-157. The bill would codify same-sex marriage into federal law.

Good. That’s the way it’s supposed to be done, and that’s what should have been done with abortion as well, had not the activist Supreme Court of 1973 unethically contrived an abortion right that didn’t exist. Democrats frequently had the votes and White House support to codify abortion in the years between 1973 and 2022, but preferred to use “choice” as a wedge issue to hold on to the feminist vote. Good plan!

Of course, the vote yesterday is being framed in such a way that the public may never comprehend the good reasons to pass laws the old fashioned way rather than wait for a deliberately undemocratic and non-partisan referee—SCOTUS—to rule by edict. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blamed her Democrats having to step up and legislate on a single Justice’s outlying concurrence in Dobbs. “Make no mistake, while his legal reasoning is twisted, and unsound, it is crucial that we take Justice Thomas and the extremist movement behind him at their word. This is what they intend to do,”she said.

I don’t think there is a chance in the world that same-sex marriage will be overturned. One thing about reversing Roe: it didn’t magically undo millions of abortions so there were suddenly all of these unaborted kids running around. Only Thomas (and maybe Justice Alito) are so doctrinaire that they would advocate a ruling that would either undo existing same sex marriages or create the unstable situation where some gay Americans are married with all the advantages of marriage while others are blocked from marriage. Furthermore, the argument for same sex marriages does not rely on the unenumerated right of privacy alone, but also Equal Protection, which was the basis on which several state courts ruled that restrictions on same sex marriages were impermissible.

The speculation is that the new bill will fail in the Senate because of a filibuster by Republicans. Republicans would be wise (and ethical) not to use the filibuster on this issue, but any sentence that begins with “Republicans would be wise” is flirting with fantasy.

Next Up In The Desperate Push To Rationalize Abortion: Attacking Adoption

The couple above and their sign outside the Supreme Court building triggered a series of telling attacks on the option of abortion after a photo of them was tweeted and went “viral.” Mark Hamill, the “Star Wars” star who has supported himself of late by being the voice of “The Joker” in animated “Batman” features, led the way with this incoherent but snarky tweet:

Attacks on adoption and those advocating it as a non-homicidal alternative to abortion are one more manifestation of how the Dobbs decision has unmasked so many of the pro-abortion progressives who had been hiding behind the deceitful “choice” trope. Now we are hearing advocacy for up-to-the-moment-of-birth abortions, and rationalizations for the procedure ranging from economic benefits to the economy and avoidance of disruptions to women’s ambitions, to arguments that children in poverty, with health problems or in unstable families are better off if they never draw a breath. This long-delayed candor will be, in the long run, a beneficial development. Finally abortion ethics can be debated acknowledging the unethical priorities and values that have been used to sanctify it for so long.

I see now that he attack on adoption was inevitable. Examine these recent abortion advocacy pieces: “Conservatives love to paint adoption as the solution to abortion. Adoptees aren’t buying it,” and “The Insidious Idiocy of ‘We Will Adopt Your Baby’ Memes.”

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