Monday, April 27, 2015

The triple tiara and the temporal polity

One of my major preoccupations is the reconciliation of at least seemingly incongruent pieces or patches of thought in search of their common truths. I hold it a moral as well as an intellectual exercise: by balancing the meaning and internal logic of various sources the thinker strengthens his cerebral muscle tone, yet it is moral because it is a most certain way to discerning truth. I want to do that here, and so I will begin with the two protagonists above in my title with perhaps the two statements that would most provoke the other.

At the now unused Papal Coronation rite practiced until 1963 and first discontinued by Pope John Paul I, the Cardinal Protodeacon would place the triregnum over the freshly elected pontiff's brow intoning:
Accipe tiarum tribus coronis ornatam, et scias te esse patrem principum et regum, rectorem orbis in terra vicarium Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi, cui est honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum. 
Accept the tiara decorated by three crowns, and know yourself to be the father of princes and kings, the ruler of the world and the vicar on earth of our Savior Jesus Christ, Whose is honor and glory for all ages.
Let us contrast this ritual proclamation with the address of then Sen. John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association now mostly accepted, and for the greater part rightly so:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.   
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. 

I doubt I need to explain the obviously apparent contrast in claims between that of the bishop of Rome as ruler of the world and Kennedy's claim as a Head of State to withhold civil allegiance to him or any prelate. I do intend to repudiate the natural claim that these two entirely or even mostly exclude the other. Pleasurably do I correlatively repudiate both civil and religious fundamentalism, namely that expressed on the one hand by former Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum who claimed rereading Kennedy’s words “made him sick” and the late Christopher Hitchens’s claim that religion and theocracy are conceptually and in substance the same thing.

To help secure success in these matters, I limit my ambition. I am not suggesting the Papal Coronation ought to return. The triregnum was abandoned by Blessed Paul VI; John Paul I refused coronation, and Benedict XVI left the crown from his heraldry altogether. I claim neither that all of Kennedy’s words in his address were precise nor as precise as I hope to make them here. I am less interested too in the entire history of the triregnum, upon which like many liturgical, civil, and other regalia, meanings and symbolisms are sometimes imposed a posteriori. I am not interested here in the offenses of religions and states, many of which I a Catholic would hardly deny; I suggest rather an ideal to secure greater liberty to individuals and polities that I claim results from a resolution between these two pronouncements.

There ultimately is a lesson here. Sensitive as we are to authority, especially concerning religion, morality, and democracy, it is too easy to devolve into fundamentalism. Frustration at the challenges of intellectual rigor posed by values dear to us provokes this devolution, and we are the worse for it. Ultimately we must play the diplomacy of ideas. We desire, most of all, freedom from tyranny, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, democracy, and the like, and these desires force us to mitigate between them. Unlike diplomatic compromise; however, often the corruption of one idea elicits corruption in the other. Ultimately sacrificing one of these to the altar of another results in sacrificing both to attain none. We are fools if we do not see this, and we are greater fools if we blindly cast off this intellectual burden and accuse reasoning interlocutors of trying to deceive us.


The dispelling of tyranny is the major preoccupation of those who, in writing constitutions, distribute political powers. The fear thereof issues many of our own preoccupations; the threat of tyranny in its various forms motivates many of our political acts. Tyranny does not lie within the reach of strict definitions as do some other terms, but many would define it as an unjust and unchecked overreach of a ruler who by so doing oppresses the whole or a group under his power.

Some suppose wrongly that mere democracy solves this problem. This supposition happily is lessoning, yet the fundamental error is strengthening in its adherents. Democracy cannot on its own dissolve or prevent tyranny, as evinced by the parties of National Socialism elected into power in the 1920s and 30s, because majority rule might always oppress some minority or otherwise err. Those who step back from this error, however, often attempt to alleviate by problem merely by giving a megaphone to various minorities.

France’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen succinctly expresses this this error when in Article 6 it says, La loi est l’expression de la volunté général: The law is the expression of the general will. We rightly contrast with an earlier and erroneous opinion that law is the expression of the opinion of some monarch. Indeed as a believer in democracy I admit its procedural verity, but as to the essence of la loi I cannot assent to the theory that the law is just what we want to do and apply as a polity upon ourselves.

To be fair, Article 2 asserts that the goal of a polity is the preservation of certain rights, particularly liberty, property, safety, and resistance against oppression. If so, then the law is not merely an expression of the general will, but an entity with a purpose. Just as the general will may be good or bad: so too the law.

Thus if someone else asserts that the general will keeps those in power accountable, we ought not say that they are merely accountable for representing the general will. If the general will is bad, we would have no means by which to call the law bad. An unjust or otherwise bad law can still represent well the general will, so the law that does this is in fact good. Thus the general will should keep lawmakers accountable to something else. But Article 2 is upon consideration rather vague in what it offers. This is illustrated well if we give them their popular meanings. If liberty is the capacity to do what one wishes without threat of violence, we would without quarrel accept that the law can limit liberty (which is what the law does). Does the law limit property, sure. Safety: you can be thrown in prison, your goods suspect, your actions can place perfectly acceptable legal threats on your the very safety, etc. Any lawbreaker might feel oppressed when held to account for his crimes.

This is not to say these are hopelessly vague; rather to save them we must assert some sort of natural order or natural law to these things. So we could say that democracy is a factor that keeps the rulers accountable to the natural law. If laws violate the natural law, that law is unjust (or following Augustine: no law at all). Yet there are more political machinations that keep polities accountable, within which I argue, democracy fits. There are also the balance of powers and the freedom of speech.


Let us back away from this discussion temporarily and refocus attention to the triregnum, about which John Paul II in his inaugural homily said it was, "an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes." Thus we should say that the triregnum is a symbol of spiritual authority, which above the Roman Pontiff no temporal person can possess. Yet this does not mean that he necessarily has temporal power over other princes and kings.

Jesus Himself affirms the temporal authority of the Roman prefect to whom He said, 'You would have no power over me unless it had been given to you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.' (John 19:11). Wrongly would one interpret this under the manner of the Divine Right of Kings; rather, we should interpret this saying that all power is from God: to exercise any authority or power wrongly is to offend God Who is that power's sole claimant. Not only does one in authority bear an account to God for how well he keeps to the natural law, instilled in him by nature, but for the laws he promulgates by any power vested in him, which power is the sole right of God Himself.

It is clear, at least for a Catholic, that the highest spiritual authority possessed by any temporal person is vested in the bishop of Rome, who himself must also give an account to God, for that authority is Christ's and Christ's alone. Other prelates possess lesser degrees of this spiritual authority and over certain jurisdictions, or certain dicasteries that in the name of Christ's vicar on earth exercise papal authority. These prelates do not possess temporal authority by any Divine right, however, and while it is clear that while someone must possess temporal authority, no one else possesses it by any kind of Divine right.

Yet both spiritual and temporal authority, possessing different functions, are bound by the natural law. We must assert the separation of Church and state not primarily because of freedom of religion, of which every human person is a claimant, but because as much as possible spiritual and temporal authority are different things. This is true on a more micro-level in government, divided into that which legislates, that which executes laws, and that which judges cases according to law. To check these natural powers, our own constitution divides these into branches executed by different elected groups who hold non-overlapping offices. Following this model then, temporal authority should not exercise spiritual authority, and vice versa (excepting, for the protection of this separation, Vatican City State).

Yet each, to repeat myself, is bound by a natural order and answerable to God. One can witness against the other and hold the other accountable to the natural law. No pope or any prelate ought violate the natural law: none should incite their congregations to violence, abuse children, etc. About those checks spiritual authority applies to those temporal powers, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in 2010 at Westminster Hall, said the following:

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.  
Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square.

To answer the issue raised by then Sen. Kennedy, neither the POTUS, nor any person of temporal authority, is answerable to the will of any spiritual authority. Yet as the natural law is shared by both temporal, spiritual authority, and by all persons, that which issues from the dictates of reason and concerning which all men and all persons of authority are answerable to God, both temporal and spiritual powers can possess a corrective and illuminative role on the other.

What then does it say about us when we are alarmed when bishops protest injustices by the state? When bishops excommunicate politicians who legalize abortion and euthanasia, who change the nature of marriage, etc.?

It is by nature, remember, that we are free. By following a natural order, we remain free, and by passing laws respecting the natural order we create legal protections for that freedom. A person is most free when he possesses the virtuous habits whereby he regulates his appetites to an order following the dictates of reason: prudence, whereby he gives to others what he owes and acquires what is owed to him: justice, whereby he commands his own passions: fortitude, and finally whereby he regulates his own sensual appetites: temperance. The free state is the just one, as the state and her laws concern relations between persons. A just law respects nature, for the nature of a person in a way is the person, and any person, entity, or law that does violence to a person's nature does violence to the person. We suppose that any inalienable rights of the person are by definition had by nature.

But what of these bishops? Who will rid us of these meddlesome priests? What of our consigning the violation of religious freedom to these men? What do we do, really, when we insist in order to not be oppressed by religion and her morality, the natural law, have no place in civil law? Liberté! Égalité! Fraternité! we cry, democracy! Freedom from religion! no ascetic priest can impose his moral code upon our heads! Revolution! The people's rule! Etcetera, etcetera! — This is to say our (for now) democratic laws are not bound by the natural law. It does not matter whether they are just or not, so long as they reflect the will of the people. When we shuffle off the coil of the natural law, it can be said that we no longer live in a free society. A state that claims the right, contra natura, to be one where you can kill unborn children, kill the elderly, change the nature of marriage, oppress the poor, etc. is not free. We are the rulers, but we the rulers are restrained by nothing: not nature, not justice, not God.

We do not accept the checks and corrections of religion not because we do not want any spiritual authority as our temporal one, but because we the rulers do not want to account to the natural law. We are hardly fighting oppression: we are embracing it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Disentangling reason and same-sex marriage Part I: the gravity of free choice

It requires an offensively high level of superstition to assert, let alone demand others acknowledge that the native character of any individual kind is changeable or even answerable to the preference or will of any one creature. You will find this position maintained as the centerpiece of the LGBT movement. They will tell you that this is foundational to the commonly held right to individual self-determination. This is superstition. Maybe this resonates with you, but do not give in so easily; they are cheating you of your wits.

Happiness was once high point of reason and humanism. Resolved to this end, it is only he who through reason curbs his passions to this end who was counted free. Only a master of self enjoys liberty. How can one consider the ignorant, those enslaved by passion, or those by form inclined to ill free when they choose against what they naturally most desire? It is fact that no person is free which suffers violence to his self-determining faculty.

The majority fails to understand the importance of free choices or free actions as a special kind of choices or acts. I do not mean the species of choice or action, such as dancing a waltz or drinking a scotch. No I signify the kind of choice that is characterized as free, issuing from a free agent. Even minor actions or processes conducted by the body of a free agent do not fall under this category: digestion of food or the beating of the heart, for these actions are not the choices of an agent, but those of his body. Is it not plain then, that within even those actions that proceed from the agent are those faculty of deliberation governs and the others proceed from the body? Only deliberate actions are free. So chooses the agent, free from compulsion from within his members and outside them, that considering his desire and the means to attain it chooses those means.

Now consider the faculty of reason and its part. It is not widely disputed that a person is often led astray by as much manipulation from within as from without if left deceived to petty and temporal passions and urges. The alcoholic is case and point; there is he who feasts too late and oversleeps ahead of work or of school; there is he who consumes food inordinately to obesity; or he who yielding to fear bequeaths his self to a tyrannical human master. Indeed it is an unremarkable fact that man can be and is often cheated out of his own freedom from within. It is plain enough then that he who yields himself to his own reasoned counsel to discern the means to his desired ends fashions free and deliberate choice. What does that make the choices of him who chooses against his own counsel to bow beneath the lordship of lesser masters? He surely casts his own self into disorder and surrenders his freedom to that which would drive him its slave. So can we classify these choices among the free? Surely no.

From this it is plain that counsel, deliberation, self-mastery, and often self-restraint following law are conditions not on freedom, but for it. Clearly virtue also, viz. the disposition by the will through repeated action of the passions, lower appetites, and the intellect toward a character or species of acts securing the desired end, secures freedom. This is the formation of a habit. Contrarily vice: the disposition of the passions, lower appetites, and the intellect by the will through repeated action toward a character or species of acts destructive of the desired end, ensures a loss of freedom.

All of this says something, namely, that the passions or lower appetites alone apart from reason are insufficient for securing freedom. This implies a few things. First, the will must dispose the intellect or reason to ascertain what is most desirable. This is not equivalent to sending out “feelers”

For example, the impulsive hungry individual at a restaurant might perhaps in a hurry order the first or biggest thing on a menu. Someone who puts out “feelers” might scan a bit and find a dish picture, description, or name that ‘sounds good’ to him, or someone who for fear of judgment from a date orders the littlest or least expensive dinner. Neither of these, though the second cases do in a way employ reason, are what I am talking about. The second cases exemplify cleverness, but the two agents are still governed principally by their passions, and these agents merely move the intellect more cleverly and with more poise than the impulsive. There is he though, who knowing his physical constitution, his ailments and allergies, his dietary needs, the size of his wallet, but indeed also his taste and personal history of culinary preference chooses accordingly. Thus informed and restrained, he orders what is healthy, filling, and pleasant to him. He is free and more easily is so once he as disposed himself to readily, easily, and pleasurably seek such counsel through reason. This is prudence as opposed to cleverness, since he does not merely employ his rational powers to achieve one of many ends proposed by a passion or urge, but chooses something that achieves the proper and suitable end for him. His passions play a role in forming a choice, but their roles are subordinate and non-governing.

From this it is plain that reason partitions acts into those that qualitatively bolster the happiness of the agent in question, viz. good acts, and those that undermine it, viz. bad or evil acts. A good human agent (which is person as a choosing and acting person) chooses well. Well is the adverbial form of good and in this sense describes the verb to choose or to act (since a choice is an act from the will). Thus, choosing well means that that choices of the agent are good choices because they are good acts of the will. A bad, evil, or wicked human agent chooses badly or wickedly, and thus as acts of the will they are constitutionally deviant by undermining the person’s happiness.

Of course, since we do not call choices good, bad, evil, or wicked on account of the goodness or wickedness of the agent but on account of something else as seen above and since we hold that the will’s acts are free, viz. free choice, it follows that a human agent forms himself as good, bad, evil, or wicked by the choices he makes. This may also be ascertained from the fact that most human agents are not accounted wholly good or wicked, but some mingling of the two.

This is a profound responsibility, greater even than that proclaimed by Jean-Paul Sartre, who claimed we fashion even our natures. No, we do not fashion our natures, but the natures we do have place enormous responsibility on us. We are responsible for who we become: over whether we form ourselves as good or wicked people. When we choose and act well, as we are in a way good persons in that moment and all those that proceed in the enjoyment of the good action. When we choose and act wickedly, we are in a way wicked in the moment we choose the wicked deed; and unless we wish afterwards that we had never chosen that wicked deed (we repent) and bear sorrow for that action having been done, our will remains wickedly inclined and we ourselves remain in that fashion wicked. Obviously this does not draw a line between perfectly good or wicked individuals, but we no doubt bolster or mar our characters with each act.

It is as if we carry ourselves like glass. We can mold ourselves into something beautiful and ornate, but in a moment of anger or lust we can shatter our very selves. From a full initial understanding of this fact, an almost certain reaction might entail we only choose and act with grave and extreme caution, carrying ourselves on verge of trembling with overcautious concern for even the minutest placements of our steps. This is a grave responsibility over ourselves and over others, and we are remarkably foolish to dismiss even the most trivially bad willful choice. It is now even at first glance better to suffer an evil than to choose wickedly. To suffer an evil entails no constitutional loss of self; even in death one can end life as whole and himself, as a good person. He dies free who dies well, whole, and as himself. To choose wickedly is to surrender oneself; in a sense he more truly dies who chooses wickedly and continues to live than he who dies but acts well.


Indeed, what we do and how we do that is impactful upon other people and their choices as well, especially children who are very far from being formed. By choosing and acting well we create exemplars, showing that good choices and good acts are desirable things. By acting wickedly we generate scandal: we show that corrupt acts and corrupt choices are in fact are good, desirable, and profitable things when in fact they are not. Indeed we form not only ourselves with every choice: we participate in the formation of others. We can never detract from their free choice, but we may corrupt their reason and make the good easier or more difficult to choose and likewise the wicked easier or more difficult for others by we ourselves choosing well or wickedly.

Part II will focus on the nature of virtue and further explore the nature of the good, Part III on human friendship and love, Part IV on friendship and the body, and finally Part V on marriage and the state. While this is not strictly philosophical prose, like most of this blog I hope to convey certain philosophical concepts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why I think the pro-choice mentality in principle abridges the possibility of free rational expression.

On its head, it would appear to us that sustaining the liberty for a woman to procure an abortion constitutes simply that, further liberty. Consider now the reasons given to substantiate what has been for forty years enumerated a right; ponder their meanings and their implications.

First (1) is the freedom over ones body. For if one cannot exercise self-determination even over the physical body she possesses, how now can one count her strides free within the world outside that sphere? Even if one could sustain the personhood of a fetus from fertilization onward to a joyful birth and with it all its rights, liberties, and standings privy to free persons, we are told even such would still fail to constitute a successful response to the concern regarding bodily autonomy.

(2) Consider further the argument from equality. (2a) In a society where flourishing and success are conditioned by competition, one possessing a disadvantage in opportunity will indubitably possess a corresponding limit to her liberty. A child and prior pregnancy place demands on time and resources upon a woman in a non-elective way, whereas a man is not bound as concretely or in the same way as a woman. This creates a disparity in opportunity between the two sexes, implicitly granting greater opportunity to men and limiting the freedom of women. (2b) It is fallacious, so we are told, to appeal to alternate ways of regulating births other than abortion, including abstinence, for a number of reasons. (2b.1) The first against alternative regulation of births is the possibility of failure or misuse, to which elective abortion would put it right. (2b.2) The second is that many who oppose elective abortion also oppose the use of, proliferation of, or the education concerning contraceptives, and thus limit their effectiveness in alleviating the disparity of opportunity for women. (2b.3) The first against abstinence enumerates a further restriction on the rights of women, viz. that this leaves men free to participate in a natural, pleasurable, and emotionally relieving act unrestrictedly, whereas women must control themselves. This affords to men a luxury not afforded to women. (2b.4) The second is the possibility of rape, namely that we will cause greater psychological and emotional trauma to a victim by proscribing means to eliminate one of the more traumatic effects and burdens caused by such a horrific crime. (2b.5) Some caution us further, not that we will merely cause more trauma; nay, we ourselves would be imposing the burden initiated by the rapist's self-serving and wicked deed.

Thirdly (3), this must be enumerated among the human rights, safe even from the democratic process. Such democratic process and discussion would privy men in the discussion about laws concerning the bodies only of women. In such a way, men participate in a debate and political process where they have little or no vested interest in the implications felt heavily by their counterparts. Such inequality is favorable to men, who then can use it do dominate women and continue what has been an overt and long-held sexist political practice. This is often made clear to us in a more brusque and brute manner, viz. a man does not have a uterus, ergo he must refrain from the conversation and abstain from the decisions.

Fourthly (4) is the freedom of opinion itself, particularly where the opinions or beliefs held concern so intimately the person herself that they regard her loves, her habits, her sexual intimacy and practices (which must be free from all intrusion), her responsibilities, career, and family. One cannot force her to respond to an opinion or a belief that would bind her in all of these ways. She must be left free to take upon herself the burden of these opinions or beliefs or leave them with other bearers who find them as equally bearable as they find them sound.


Let us now consider the implications of these arguments, viz. that all four of these arguments takes a blow at the freedom of rational expression and should not for that reason at all constitute a legal basis for the proscription of abortion. When I use the phrase possibility of free rational expression, I mean all of the following are possible on a given subject:
A) Rational expression means giving reasons for a position supported by premised arguments (with grounded premises), rather than assertions.
B) Free rational expression means a rational expression is not countered or rejected except on the basis of its content, viz. there are reasons to the contrary. In other words, rational expression as such is not rejected.

And now I provide replies that both support my argument and respond to the arguments above:

(1r) This is resolved with its implications clarified in a twofold manner, each with identical implications reached in these two ways. (1r.1) expresses first the necessity of a positive definition of freedom. (1r.2) expresses the implication of continual insistence of (1) within a legal sphere granting the truth claim of (1r.1).

(1r.1) The argument (1) hinges upon the dogma that no positive definition of freedom may be imposed upon freedom, otherwise the negative definition is abridged. The negative definition of freedom consists in defining freedom as the absence of influence from an external determinate. To apply norms to the choice exercised by a kind of individual possessing freedom even through reason, viz. saying a choice is always a choice for some determinate kind when this argument holds, is to apply some sort of restriction or finitude that abridges this freedom by abridging a part of the negation. If this positive definition is not applied, even to the extreme of not assigning the universal predicate, viz. being, to the determinate kind, we are left with no rational basis for assigning freedom to the human agent. If there can be no kind that as a kind determines choice by being its object, there can be no choice (free or not), since choice as an act presupposes an object (an object can mean an action, for example). Therefore, negating the possibility of a positive definition negates also the possibility of freedom, which lies at the crux of the argument. To hold (1), then, is to hold to the simple affirmation of contraries. This eliminates the possibility of reason and ergo rational expression, though which there is no possibility of reasoned debate or real expression on any subject.

(1r.2) To accept (1r.1) then, but to continue to insist that such positive definitions should not enter the legal sphere would then imply that there are simply some topics which cannot be reasoned with or negotiated in law, for no reason. This also abridges arbitrarily the possibility of reasoned dialogue and expression.

(2r):

(2ar) This argument presupposes that the equality of opportunity (EO) is not merely a norm, but is also an normative ideal that trumps our ability to to call an action evil and unlawful for other reasons. For example, as a norm EO should hinder me from passing a law that women can only receive 75% of the salary a man would make in the same profession and business. This law creates an inequality where inequality is per se the rational justification (though the rational justification is inherently false and ungrounded). EO as a norm bars inequality as a rational justification for creating laws that result in inequalities in opportunity. But suppose that fictional race y would be equal to fictional race z if theft was legal, since y are better thieves by nature than z but do not do as well in the workforce as z when theft is proscribed. By the same reasoning, theft in the fictional nation of fictional races y and z should be legal, no matter the ulterior reasoning. This also bars the possibility of giving reasons for laws such as theft in this case. This argument is continued below

(2b.1r) This argument is first answerable by (2ar). The argument continues the idea that the realization of an ideal disallows any reasons that may be given against the means necessary for the ideal. I am not per se arguing against utilitarianism here, but I am arguing that a certain implementation of utilitarianism abridges the rest of us from expressing reasons for sets of positions containing reasons for the proscriptions of these means. (I do not condone artificial contraceptives, but they are included in the arguments, since on principle I am making an argument concerning reasoned debate. This post is not even really a post against abortion or for its proscription, even though that expresses my true opinions, but against a certain set of arguments typically made by the pro-choice lobby.)

(2b.2r) Responded to, see above (2ar) and (2b.1r)

(2b.3r) This is, in addition to being answered by the previous (2r)s, is answered by (1r.1). Further, this represents a despair of the possibility of freedom and self-mastery, viz. that someone can refuse to be mastered by his or her passions to maintain or attain an end. Those expressing reasons for hope instead of despair or dogmatically silenced. 

(2b.4r1) This disallows any reasons given as to how an abortion could do further psychological damage, and that reasons could be given that even in this case abortion should still be proscribed because it constitutes a bad action, period. I, to cautiously add my opinion, pose this scenario. Say that abortion at some point is proscribed on the grounds that it constitutes murder, but we give an exception to a rape victim who conceives a child from her assailant. So we tell the victim, about whom God alone knows what psychological damage and hurt she is sustaining, that while normally we proscribe murder, for you we give an exception. Abortion is this terrible and tragic crime, but because of your injury you may kill your child if it alleviates your suffering, though the child has done you no willful wrong. We tell her it is empowerment and a way she may elect to set at least some things right in her life. Then tell her you are not being condescending in any way whatsoever.

(2b.5r1) These are false alternatives, and they seek to abridge someone's ability to give other reasons for a position.

(3) These premises assume other premises that are harmful to rational expression and reasoned dialogue.

(3r.1) First this might deny that men or the vast majority of men cannot reason without having ulterior selfish and sexist motives. This suspicion denies to men the ability to express reasons on the basis that they cannot.

(3r.2) If (3r.1) is affirmed, then (3) denies the capacity for empathy and extension of the human mind. It basically states that in order to think rationally about issues that regard the female reproductive system but not the man's, you must first have a female reproductive system (not simply know about it). One could say that it is easier for someone who has a female reproductive system to speak to the issues, but from this it does not follow that men cannot say anything at all nor contribute reasons to the discussion. Ergo (3) as stated abridges the possibility of free rational expression. This has been realized to an extreme as written about here.

(4r) This argument is answerable by (1r). In addition, here one asserts that the subject is too intimate for there to be rationally binding norms, much less legal ones. This then dogmatically refuses to listen to reasons that would ground any binding norms on arbitrary grounds, viz. too intimate: what is too intimate? References to a person's body or privacy are also blurred, since privacy and ones body are inevitably going to be affected by laws that few would be willing to relinquish.


Some notes are in order. For one I am not self-refutingly denying anyone the right to give these as reasons, but I am denying that they are inconsistent with an unabridged possibility of free rational expression. One is entitled to believe two inconsistent things, but he cannot by believing them make them consistent. Furthermore, I am arguing that the principle of free rational expression should be a reason to not use (1)-(4) as the grounding for any law. I would not say someone is not free to do so, but they are wrong and inconsistent to do so if they also try to ground laws in the possibility of free rational expression, since now they have denied that reasons need to be given for a position. I also do not claim that these are all the arguments given by the pro-choice lobby: these are merely the most common of the pro-choice mentality per se.

Finally, given that these reasons are typically used to negate the argumentative force behind the norm that killing an unborn child should be proscribed because it constitutes murder, I do think the norm should be enshrined in law.