Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Catholic, a Muslim, and a secular humanist walk into an abortion debate

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At the 38:20 mark of last week's False Flag Weekly News, co-host Jim Fetzer and I argued about Planned Parenthood, the breakdown of the family, and related issues.

So I thought it would be interesting to bring Jim face-to-face with some even MORE opposing views: Those of Catholic historian-activist E. Michael Jones.

I had hoped for a philosophical discussion of family values issues, using Planned Parenthood as a touchstone. But what I got was mainly an exchange of utterly incommensurable views on abortion.

Catholic historian E. Michael Jones and secular humanist philosopher Jim Fetzer seem to speak completely different languages that go right past each other. Was that because Jim wasn't listening and responding to what he heard, but just reading pre-scripted boilerplate, as Mike said at the end of the show, when things devolved into a shouting match? Or does philosophy require that kind of elaborately organized and outlined approach, as Jim claims?

Listen and decide.

43 comments:

  1. Fetzering

    Noun:

    1. The act of making an unfounded or unsubstantiated claim.
    2. In philosophy, a method of debate or discussion based of the premise of: I think, therefore I am. I think you're wrong. therefore you are.
    3. The act of disagreeing by employing rancor, name calling, ad hominem attacks or straw man argument.

    Etymology: Fetzering began in earnest in the late 1960's, being implemented by a JFK conspiracy theorist and has since expanded it's use in the 9/11 debate arena.
    1. Without evidence your claim is simple fetzering.

    2. He should rely on his data instead of fetzering.

    http://i1192.photobucket.com/albums/aa326/Jefffolkman/FetzerAnimalFarm_zps50a89338.jpg

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  2. Oh come on - where were the women? Michael Jones claiming that he represents the majority viewpoint?
    I was very glad Jim was there but no one told Jim that many abortion clinics will purposely delay abortions to later term so they can get the stem cells.

    All the degradation of family values is a shame but it didn't happen because legislation changed - it happened because culture changed and that all happened on TV.
    Laws allowing gay marriage or not, laws allowing abortions or not will not affect family values barely at all.

    Michael Jones ideas to keep these things illegal shows a real lack of compassion for the down and out. Where is his Christianity? Interesting that the unreligious person had attitudes that reflected the greatest compassion.
    Wendy

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    1. I'll do another show on this issue with Barbara Honegger next month.

      Mike Jones isn't JUST arguing about abortion and gay marriage laws, but also about culture. His magazine is called Culture Wars. Laws and culture often do work together - if something is viewed as unacceptable to the majority of a culture, typically there will be some laws, not just vigilantism, to keep a lid on it. Mike is a big fan of the Iranian approach, where the laws reflect the culture's view that sexuality is a purely private matter (so public dress and deportment, advertising, media, etc. must be modest) and sex is only acceptable within traditional marriage.

      I’m sure he would argue that anyone who’s not trying to restore family values, and is willing to live with the current family-breakdown culture and the unbelievable human suffering it creates, shows tremendous lack of compassion.

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    2. Laws command respect. In the words of mewling beta "old-fashioned guy" Republican John Kasich in response to queered marriage, "The court has ruled, and I said we'll accept it".

      Media is probably the main problem though, which is why we need to take it back from the tiny paranoid hostile alien 2% minority that currently controls it.

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    3. Jones has no respect for the "down and out"? What a laugh. He's protecting the "down and out" - the baby. This is like someone defending Auschwitz, saying that to release the Jews shows no respect for the "down and out", viz., the German shop owners who went out of business because of Jewish competition.

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  3. Kevin, Emmanuel Goldstein is widely believed to be the pseudonym of Judy Wood, who has been running an odd vendetta on me since I asked John Hutchison a simple question about his background and education, which he tossed off by saying he had flunked crayons and coloring books.

    She cut off communications since then and has made many bizarre attacks, such as this absurd definition of "Fetzering" since anyone who has read or listened to my work knows I am precisely the opposite, building cases on logic and evidence, typically which lots of citations to other studies for those who want more.

    I thought Michael "lost it" at the end, where he went ballistic--virtually hysterical. Every point I made was from my own research and publications, where I have written about these issues, including THE EVOLUTION OF INTELLIGENCE (2005) and RENDER UNTO DARWIN (2007). He should check them out and see the absurdity of his claim that I was "giving Planned Parenthood boilerplate". Unreal!

    There are many ways to approach this, but it requires drawing distinctions between LIFE and PERSONHOOD and a graduated theory of rights, where different rights obtain at different stages of development. It seems to me that he was simply not prepared to deal with the issues at this level of detail and precision, which he attempted to cover up by intemperate and emotional expressions at the end.

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    1. Mike's point was precisely that "Every point you made was from your own research and publications," which made us feel like we were talking to a proverbial brick wall.

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    2. Well, even that claim is not true. At the start of each of my four contributions, I responded to the key points you and he had made. You cannot have been listening very carefully to make this claim. In fact. I was laying out the distinctions that have to be understood to appreciate the full conceptual and philosophical dimensions of these issues.

      I began by endorsing the principle of the ethics of belief, which asserts that we are not morally entitled to believe anything for which we are not logically entitled to believe on the basis of sufficient evidence. That includes the kinds of unscientific and untestable religious propositions that you and Michael have adopted. Where did either of you respond to that crucial argument?

      And the distinction between LIFE and PERSONS is absolutely fundamental, insofar as, without understanding the difference, we may be gullible enough to buy into the indefensible claim that abortions are murder or that zygotes, embryos and early stage fetuses are entitled to a "right to life". Where did you are he respond to that crucial argument?

      And I spent a fair amount of time elaboration upon the theory of graduated rights, where human beings in all societies are granted more and more rights appropriate to their age and level of development, where the strongest case that can justifiably be made for a "right to life" is that it beings at the end of the second trimester, where viability and the onset of the capacity to feel pain occur. Where are your arguments attempting to rebut those important arguments?

      The issues involved here a complex and subtle, which is why I went to great pains to lay them out with precision and in detail. Neither of you were responsive to my arguments, which supports the inference that you were simply unprepared to deal with the issues at this level of exactitude. You cannot excuse your and Michael's failure to respond to the crucial aspects of these issues by suggesting that I was "a proverbial brick wall".

      These issues are incapable of resolution between parties who are unwilling to abandon their religious commitments, which are not based on reason or science but upon theology and faith. I knew that, if I did not explain the most basic distinctions with precision and detail, it would be for naught--because you and he would simply rest on your religious beliefs. I am sorry to say, but that is how it played out. I recommend to listen again to appreciate that you and he were unable to come to grips with the issues, which was disappointing but not therefore surprising.

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    3. It is easy to demonstrate logically that the current version of "science," which is by definition value-neutral, can have nothing whatsoever to tell us about questions of values, which are inherently "unscientific and untestable." If we are "not entitled to believe" anything that has not been "scientifically" proven, then we are not entitled to have any values, since they cannot be scientifically proven. Therefore we are not entitled to have any morals or morality. (No wonder the insane fundamentalist religion of scientism has produced a culture of psychopathy.)

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    4. That's a perfect example of a straw man, by exaggerating a position to make it easier to attack. Science has proven itself to be our most reliable method for ascertaining truth and acquiring knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. What would you recommend in its stead? Crystal ball gazing? Random guessing? Consulting "authorities"?

      I would be glad to debate the nature of morality with you and Michael Jones, but I would have no more expectations that you could come to grips with the crucial distinctions in that case any more than you have in the present instance.

      I long since contemplated that there should be objective criteria for establishing the most rational and defensible theory of morality on the basis of criteria that parallel those for establishing the most rational and defensible theory of science on the basis of objective criteria.

      In the case of science they, include the clarity and precision of the language in which they are expressed, their respective scope of application for the purposes of explanation and prediction, their degree of empirical support, and the elegance, economy or simplicity with which they attain that objective.

      The criteria I have proposed as counterparts for theories of morality--which I elaborate and defend in THE EVOLUTION OF INTELLIGENCE (2005) and RENDER UNTO DARWIN (2007)--are parallel.

      They include the clarity and precision of the language in which they are expressed, that they must not degenerate to the corrupt principle that "might makes right", that they classify uncontroversial cases of "moral" and of "immoral" conduct recognized by all human societies--such as murder, robbery, kidnapping and rape, on the one hand, and honesty, candor, integrity and charity, on the other--as "moral" and as "immoral" on the basis of the theory and that they shed light and clarify controversial cases, such as abortion, cloning, and stem-cell research.

      I apply those principles to eight theories, including four traditional theories--subjectivism, family values, religious-based ethics, and cultural relativism--and four philosophical theories--ethical egoism, limited utilitarianism, classic utilitarianism and deontological moral theory--and demonstrate that the most defensible conception of morality is the deontological theory of always treating other persons with respect and never merely as means.

      The uncontroversial cases of immoral acts, such as murder, robbery, kidnapping and rape, for example, are properly qualified as "immoral" on deontological grounds, because they involve using other persons merely as means. And the reasons why uncontroversial cases of morality are "moral" are similarly explained by this theory.

      Most strikingly, it is the only account that clarifies and illuminates controversial cases such as abortion, stem-cell research and cloning. I made several reference to this approach during our exchange, but I knew it would be impossible to elaborate and justify within the confines of a one-hour debate on abortion with Michael and you.

      So you miss the mark again, because while it is not possible scientifically establish the difference between right and wrong as normative rather than descriptive concepts, that does not mean we cannot establish the difference between moral and immoral conduct on other-than-scientific grounds, which are philosophical, as I have shown. Another consequence that follows is that we don't need religion to understand morality and to act as ethical human beings.

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    5. That's a perfect example of a straw man, by exaggerating a position to make it easier to attack. Science has proven itself to be our most reliable method for ascertaining truth and acquiring knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. What would you recommend in its stead? Crystal ball gazing? Random guessing? Consulting "authorities"?

      I would be glad to debate the nature of morality with you and Michael Jones, but I would have no more expectations that you could come to grips with the crucial distinctions in that case any more than you have in the present instance.

      I long since contemplated that there should be objective criteria for establishing the most rational and defensible theory of morality on the basis of criteria that parallel those for establishing the most rational and defensible theory of science on the basis of objective criteria.

      In the case of science they, include the clarity and precision of the language in which they are expressed, their respective scope of application for the purposes of explanation and prediction, their degree of empirical support, and the elegance, economy or simplicity with which they attain that objective.

      The criteria I have proposed as counterparts for theories of morality--which I elaborate and defend in THE EVOLUTION OF INTELLIGENCE (2005) and RENDER UNTO DARWIN (2007)--are parallel.

      They include the clarity and precision of the language in which they are expressed, that they must not degenerate to the corrupt principle that "might makes right", that they classify uncontroversial cases of "moral" and of "immoral" conduct recognized by all human societies--such as murder, robbery, kidnapping and rape, on the one hand, and honesty, candor, integrity and charity, on the other--as "moral" and as "immoral" on the basis of the theory and that they shed light and clarify controversial cases, such as abortion, cloning, and stem-cell research.

      I apply those principles to eight theories, including four traditional theories--subjectivism, family values, religious-based ethics, and cultural relativism--and four philosophical theories--ethical egoism, limited utilitarianism, classic utilitarianism and deontological moral theory--and demonstrate that the most defensible conception of morality is the deontological theory of always treating other persons with respect and never merely as means.

      The uncontroversial cases of immoral acts, such as murder, robbery, kidnapping and rape, for example, are properly qualified as "immoral" on deontological grounds, because they involve using other persons merely as means. And the reasons why uncontroversial cases of morality are "moral" are similarly explained by this theory.

      Most strikingly, it is the only account that clarifies and illuminates controversial cases such as abortion, stem-cell research and cloning. I made several reference to this approach during our exchange, but I knew it would be impossible to elaborate and justify within the confines of a one-hour debate on abortion with Michael and you.

      So you miss the mark again, because while it is not possible scientifically establish the difference between right and wrong as normative rather than descriptive concepts, that does not mean we cannot establish the difference between moral and immoral conduct on other-than-scientific grounds, which are philosophical, as I have shown. Another consequence that follows is that we don't need religion to understand morality and to act as ethical human beings.

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    6. I sympathize with your long winded, complicated position. To justify the killing of infants takes a vast amount of camoflage, and the best method is to accuse your opponent (right off the bat) of anti-Americanism. But of course, it is you, Jim who are no American, because you deny the primary tenet of our rights, viz., that they are God given; that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. So. No God, no rights. That's as subversive and traitorous a position as possible.

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    7. Mr. Fetzer, if anyone "lost it", it was you because you refused to listen to Mr. Jones' objection to the form of your argument, telling him to "SHUT UP" two times.

      For someone that claims to show respect to everyone (as you stated in the program), you profoundly failed to adhere to your own standards.

      Also, appealing to (your own) authority, as you would point out to others, is a logical fallacy. No one doubts that your beliefs are your own, but just because you believe them and have preserved them in book form does not mean they are true, yet you rely on them as if they are unassailable. In this "debate" you did not offer them merely as your position but as fundamental rules that only an obtuse person would attempt to challenge.

      If you were purely relying on science and logic, you would be fully prepared to acknowledge others' contributions to the understanding of an issue, in fact you would actually welcome any engagement that would increase your knowledge and understanding. Certainly you would not dismiss them out of hand, as you so often do; that only reveals the pride and arrogance underlying your position and only serves to detract from the merits of your argument.

      Let me close in stating it this way. The characteristic quality of bulldogged determination is one to be admired, which I certainly acknowledge you possess; however, don't let it degenerate into bullying, for that will only detract from any argument you choose to make.

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  4. Hi, Kevin -- Haven't had a chance to listen yet, but suppose the 'Catholic, Muslim and Secular Humanist' abortion debate was triggered by the Pope's announcement that during 'the holy year' priests can forgive women for abortions? You only need to ask 'What would Jesus do?' to know why. In fact, Pope John Paul believed that Jesus told him to do the same thing. I don't know if you're aware, in the lead up to The Millennium, that Pope 'met' alone with the Shroud of Turin, after which the front page of the New York Times reported that he had kissed the blood on the image of the feet on the Shroud -- as literal a communion as you can get -- after which the Pope announced that the Shroud would be put on public display, during which time women who asked during confession would be forgiven for abortions. The clear sense was that the Pope believed the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus and that His Spirit personally told/moved the Pope to declare the forgiveness for abortions. So it's happened before, and should have long ago -- and not just for a few months, or even just one holy year, at a time. If you wanted a dynamite show, I was the highest ranking presidential appointee for Women's rights in the Reagan White House and Justice Dept., in which I was a relentless and passionate pro-choice advocate surrounded by Christian fundamentalist misogynists -- probably misspelled that. At his request, I researched and wrote up the only argument the chief domestic policy adviser said he'd ever seen "that could change Reagan's mind on abortion." If you'd like to know what that argument, and the data that support it, is, let's do a show ... after the 9/11 Anniversary and a bit of time to recuperate ... Barbara

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  5. "Traditinally marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman"

    Are you saying Prof. Jim Fetzer's marriage is not valid ?. Isn't that discrimination, blatant human right violation ?.

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  6. I listened to the abortion debate just yesterday with great interest. Good interaction. Fetzer appealed to “viability” and “science” to make his case, but I’m pretty sure he knows that there is philosophical and scientific evidence against both. Has he read Francis J. Beckwith’s Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)? How about Christopher Kaczor’s The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice?
    In any event, Fetzer is a reasonable person and has made great points in the past. But his argument here is untenable precisely because it leads to cultural suicide. I mean, just take a look at what has happened to the WASP ruling class in America when they started to implement Fetzer’s ideology. Also, I wonder what Emmanuel Kant would say to Fetzer here. I would highly suggest anyone to pick up Kant’s Groundwork on the Metaphysics of Moral. Kant would have almost certainly reject Fetzer’s point out of hand.

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    1. Jonas, I am dumbfounded. For an intelligent man, you have missed the boat completely. Deontological moral theory is Kantian, where I regard Kant as one of the three greatest philosophers (along with Aristotle and Charles S. Peirce) of history.

      According to the Second Formulation of his Categorical Imperative, we must always treat other persons as ends-in-themselves (as intrinsically valuable) and never merely as means. I have simplified this as the maxim of always treating other persons with respect, but it is based on Kant's conception.

      Not only would Kant not have "rejected by point out of hand", my position is rooted in the work of Kant. You have committed a blunder here by your ignorance of Kantian morality, to which you make an appeal that is not only inconsistent with Kant but even incoherent.

      You cite other sources without explaining what it is about their position that is supposed to matter. The key issue is the distinction between LIFE and PERSONHOOD. Unless they acknowledge the difference, I cannot imagine that they have anything substantial to contribute to this debate.

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  7. Kevin,
    I have decided.
    Not only are you and E Michael Jones imbuciles, but you are assholes, too.
    And the "music";
    another indication of your befuddled brain.
    Couldn't get you off my radio fast enough.
    Sincerely,
    Lucy

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    1. Wrong. Mike and I were defending women/civilization; Jim was defending men/psychopathy.

      Short version: Allowing sex outside of marriage benefits the psychopathic side of men, who crave sexual variety without emotion or responsibility, and harms women, who want a companion and protector.

      Long version:

      Many women I know, including my wife, think “women’s liberation” is slavery, and would prefer the old-fashioned rule that men must never, under any circumstances, be allowed sex except with a woman to whom the have made a sacred promise (marriage) of full lifetime financial support as well as financial support to all of her children.

      Without this rule, men - especially young testosterone-addled men - tend to exploit and discard women.

      Throughout virtually all of human history, the only men who ever had the kind of sexual variety that is commonly available today were emperors with concubines (slaves) and battlefield rapists (who survived enough battles to accumulate a lot of rapes). So today’s rules favor the sexually psychopathic side of men, which is a major reason why we’re seeing so much psychopathic behavior as the civilization declines. Sexual psychopathy leads to similar predatory behavior in economic life and in other areas.

      As for the Sex Pistols, they’re a glorious symptom of the terminal decline of Western civilization.

      -K

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    2. Kevin,
      Some of what you say and e michael said is true.
      But neither of you listened to and addressed Dr Fetzer's points, either.
      In your old age you have forgotten or maybe you never knew the sexual drives of teenagers, both male and female.
      Sometimes it's unstoppable.
      Like slugs on the lawn, it goes on.
      If I want an aborton, you, in your religious rightiousnes,shouldn't be allowed to make me act according to your personal religious beliefs.
      If you don't want an abortion, don't get one.
      Keep your self-rightious hands off my life, Mr Libertarian.
      Sincerely,
      Lucy

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    3. I hear you.

      My argument was not for criminalizing all abortion. I don’t believe in “law” as currently practiced. I think the rules that govern our lives should be religious/spiritual, and should only very rarely be enforced - and then mainly informally by families and communities, not cops and courts.

      My point was that the technological separation of sex from reproduction (like so many other technological “advances”) is destroying our humanity. Jim seems oblivious to the problem. Mike doesn’t.

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  8. By the way, I’ve read Fetzer’s Render Unto Darwin. He has made some good points here and there as an agnostic, and he certainly parts company with people like Richard Dawkins and even Michael Ruse. But there are some fundamental and metaphysical flaws in the book. I was planning to address them at VT, but I aborted the project. If Fetzer is willing, we can do a written interaction, where evidence and logic will be examined.

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    1. Sure. That's a great idea. We could publish it at both VT and VTN. You are welcome to initiate the exchange. Since it was your idea, compose a draft introduction and your first question for me and we can go from there. I like the idea.

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  9. Hello Jim,

    Thanks for the response. I too am quite shocked to hear that your position—and here I am talking about abortion as a moral right— “is rooted in the work of Kant.” If that is the case, then I must insist that you have missed Kant’s overarching point in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Perhaps we can talk about this later in our written dialogue.

    Now, if you insist that “we must always treat other persons as ends-in-themselves (as intrinsically valuable) and never merely as means” (I agree with you here), then the fundamental question is this: Who is going to determine who is and is not a person? Who is making “the distinction between LIFE and PERSONHOOD”? The court system? Fetzer? “Viability”?

    E. Michael Jones has tried to draw your attention to the point that the court is actually irrelevant in this regard precisely because 1) Planned Parenthood preceded the court’s decision and 2) the court has historically “ratified the social engineering schemes of the elites.” This is a historical point, and it cannot be easily dismissed by repeating what the court actually said with respect to abortion, which supports your view. This is perhaps why Jones threw in the towel at the end because you actually did not deal with those two important issues.

    I cited other sources because I would hope you have read them, since you are interested in this important debate. I did not want to write a dissertation in a chat room about those books?

    In any event, I have enough on my plate this fall, but let us plan the written dialogue for the winter, where I will have some free time. I will send my review to you, and we can go back and forth. Leaving this aside, I really did enjoy reading the book. I was really disappointed with people like Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens when it comes to morality. I was quite exhausted with Michael Ruse’s inconsistency and internal contradiction, but I did find some common ground in your book. What’s your email address?

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    1. The Court was right in its determination that the onset of PERSONHOOD corresponds with the end of the second trimester, which corresponds to viability and the capacity to experience pain.

      He threw in the towel because he was simply not prepared to discuss these issues at the level of precision and clarity I was advancing. And that also appear to be true of you.

      It both surprises and disappoints me that you do not seem to understand The Categorical Imperative, especially in its second formulation, but then I am fairly stunned by the positions of Kevin, Michael and (I now infer) you.

      Let's engage in a written exchange when you have the time and opportunity. As for my email address, jfetzer@d.umn.edu. I look forward to hearing from you.

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  10. Prof Fetzer's reference to zygotes etc is disingenuous.The simple physiological point is that this is a human being in process of full development - it doesn't become a frog, an ant, or a whale, but a human being whose negative liberty not to be harmed is grossly violated. That cannot be avoided unless some intervention prevents it. You say that intervention can be allowed but nowhere in science, law or anywhere else can you justify it.

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  11. OF COURSE it is a stage in the development of a human being, but it is not at a stage where it is entitled to a right to life. How can you have so completely missed my key point?

    The debate should not be over whether or not we are talking about stages in the development of a human being. WE ARE! The question is whether that stage has reached the point of qualifying for PERSONHOOD.

    Go back and listen again. I discuss three sources of information to determine the answer to this question: (a) ordinary language; (b) morphology; and (c) law, where I contend that (a) and (b) are insufficient but that the Court had the right idea.

    The Court's determination, as I see it, is equivalent to determining that the end of the second trimester, when viability and the capacity to experience pain set it, represents the stage of development at which the "right to life" initially applies.

    It remains in place from that time forward and can only be overridden by conflicts with the life or the health of its mother. So there was nothing elusive about what I said about zygotes and embryos or fetuses. You just did not understand it.

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  12. Here again you are positing the very point that Jones was trying to refute. The Court has played fast and loose with the facts already. As Jones pointed out, The Dred Scott decision was a classic example. Since The Court was manipulated then by “polite” people, namely the elites, it does not help your cause to continue to quote what they said about the abortion issue at all. One has to go back to the beginning and see what the fundamental issues were in the first place, and this is what Jones was trying to do, and apparently this is where you did not want to go. Jones kept saying “Let’s talk about Planned Parenthood,” but you kept brining in The Court.

    Once again, how do we know that The Court was right or wrong during the Dred Scott case? And if you agree with us that they were wrong then, what are the parameters? Is it because The Court agreed with Fetzer?

    In any event, it will be better if we discuss these issues in a much rigorous way. I am hoping to delve into them either at the end of fall or early winter.

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    1. This is an astonishing response that reflects a complete misunderstanding of my position. I am NOT saying that the Court was right because it rendered its decision in Roe v. Wade, which would be a trivial appeal to authority (though not a fallacious appeal, since the Court is an expert in making decisions; but it is not therefore infallible).

      My point was that, by considering resources such as ordinary language, embryology and the Court, we can search for reasons to draw whatever distinctions are appropriate to gain insight into whether or not the Court made the right decision in Roe v. Wade. As you and others have observed, the Court's decisions are not always right.

      My argument is that, once you consider the crucial distinction between STAGES OF LIFE and PERSONHOOD, the graduated theory of rights and the nature of morality, the Court DID MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION. I am not argument that, BECAUSE the Court decided, it was right, but that the Court's decision WAS THE RIGHT DECISION on the basis of the grounds that I have elaborated.

      Frankly, I am dismayed that you present yourself as some kind of authority in matters philosophical. You say I make some good points here and there, but also commit blunders. An assertion of superiority is not an argument. I have yet to see any argument from you that supports your contentions: none! I hope that you can do better during our written exchange.

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    2. I did not accuse you of saying that “the Court was right because it rendered its decision in Roe v. Wade…” I made it clear that it is pointless to cite the Court’s decision in the early stage of the discussion precisely because there are some fundamental issues that need to be dealt with first, such as how the elites ended up manipulating the Court’s decision.

      Again, this was what Jones was saying, and one simply cannot deny or dismiss or ignore this crucial historical backdrop which has been at the heart of the issue. Once this historical strata is unpacked, then the Court’s decision becomes very easy to understand. And on that note, it is pertinent to bring the following point out. If we are talking about a “democratic society,” can the elites really ignore the opinions of the majority?

      Now, if you want to talk about the metaphysical basis for morality, I think this is where our discussion will be fascinating precisely because in order to make “the crucial distinction between STAGES OF LIFE and PERSONHOOD,” then we are going to be talking about worldviews and the fundamental basis for those worldviews. Like Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Russell and others, I don’t believe you can establish an objective morality on atheism or agnostism. Notice that I did not say that atheists or agnostics can’t be moral. Nor did I say that they cannot recognize morality. This isn’t the issue at all. What I am saying is that on atheism or agnosticism, there are no objective moral values. This is the issue that we will be dealing with at length in our discussion.

      Yes, I said you made some “some good points here and there” in your book, and we will surely talk about this later in the discussion. But I could not help thinking about a statement you made during the discussion. At the beginning of the show, you said that eugenics is a bad thing. Ideologically, Darwin would have disagreed with you. Here is what he said in the Descent of Man:
      “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

      Of course, Darwin was against things like slavery, but he could not support this on his own metaphysical claims, which the eugenic movement quickly picked up and spread all across Europe and America in the 1920s.

      Second, the word agnosticism does not seem to rest well with the position that you were advancing earlier, namely, one can “consider the crucial distinction between STAGES OF LIFE and PERSONHOOD.” As we all know, the alpha in Greek means the negative and ginosko is associated with “to know.” So, how would you defend that position on agnosticism? Moreover, can that position be universal on agnosticism?

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    3. This is bad. Agnosticism about the existence or non-existence of God is not the same thing as agnosticism about the nature of morality, LIFE vs. PERSONHOOD, a graduated theory of rights and the like. I have laid out the foundations of my position with no appeals to religion or theology.

      An obvious point that seems to have escaped your notice, but I was invited to give the opening statement. Jones had an obligation to respond to that, but avoided the issues I had raised--including about the ethics of belief--to advance his own thoughts about Planned Parenthood and the sexual corruption of society. That, as others have observed, was non-responsive.

      I am willing to debate any aspect of these issues. I have published on them all. We have to commit to the policy that, you will make an opening statement to which I will respond, then you will reply and I will respond and so forth. It will then be published exactly as it plays out. Lay out your case then and there and we can carry it out, but I am not interested in here and now. Agreed?

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    4. Agreed. I think this will allow the arguments to be studied more carefully by readers than is possible in oral debates. I may even drop some of my projects to start working on this at the end of fall. With all honesty, I appreciate the interaction. Oh, it seems that we will have to publish the written debate somewhere else. You have said earlier that it could be published at VTN?

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  13. Thank you for your reply.
    Why does it not have a right not to be destroyed when it has within it every active principle DNA etc that will produce a fully formed human being? It has integrity. You deny it even what Berlin called 'negative liberty' the right to to be free from someone aborting it.
    A severely disabled child may not be able to live independently of its mother in any real sense but on your analysis there is nothing to stop its destruction.
    Your 'solution' is based purely on a descriptive analysis. Science can only describe, fine, but it cannot thereby be a source of values, ethics. You seek to derive values from the law but the law has been subverted over the last 40 years.
    The law is an engine of the Revolution and cannot supply a description of rights because in the west we are all free born individuals (800th anniversary of Magna Carta) who need to be granted nothing by governments and their lackeys in the courts. You need to reconsider your view of the law and history. Language can be sharpened, true, but then there very competent people on the pro-life side whom liberal abortionists completely ignore.
    Life is not a continuum. It can show entropy as much as it can show development. This is utter philosophical rubbish. The only argument that holds any kind of water is that life begins at conception which you cannot deny because it has to start somewhere. You then say somewhere along the line that liberals will determine it can in fact be liquidated. This is revolutionary and the revolution consists in liberals who say 'We will determine who shall live and who shall die.'
    The flaws of JSMill-type liberals who seek to overturn what might be called the view of humanity down the ages is astonishing.

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    1. What entitles you to deny the obvious stages in the development of a human being (beginning as a zygote, proceeding to an embryo, then passing through further stages as a fetus) and treat them as though they were morally and ethically the same?

      You have simply staked out a position and are unwilling to acknowledge the crucial distinctions at the core of my position about LIVE vs PERSONHOOD, the graduated theory of rights and the basic principle of morality of always treating persons with respect and never merely as means.

      Planned Parenthood, by the way, is an aside since we cannot determine whether the assistance they provide to women--of which abortion counseling and practices--are only a tiny part. We are a nation of laws, which you and others would upend by imposing your own personal religious beliefs upon others and thereby turn women into reproductive slaves.

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  14. Materialism is a superstitious, unfounded, and irrational belief, and scientific reductionism is a denial of the knowability of and human access to large aspects of reality that transcend the senses, such as knowledge of the human soul, moral truth, and God. Fetzer seems to have embraced materialism and reductionism, and he seems, like an obedient modern academic analytical philosopher, to constrain philosophical truth to linguistic and conceptual analysis of the deliverances of the natural sciences. But true metaphysics (not the counterfeit analytical kind), in the philosophia perennis, is authoritative over physics, that is, there is a hierarchy of disciplines of human knowing, and the natural sciences are among the lowest, for they dear with the indeterminancy of matter of restrict themselves to material and efficient causes, and deny the existence, let alone the priority, of the final and formal causes.

    So, Fetzer is not a "philosopher," in the true, traditional sense, because his thinking is constrained by Enlightenment/modernist and, even worse, post-Enlightenment (hyper-modernist) categories. Both the Enlightenment and the Post-Enlightenment are, in essence, the results of the embrace of nominalism in the 14th century, which is the denial of universal essences in things. The books to read on this are "The Theological Origins of Modernity" by Michel Gillespie, and Chapter 1 of "The Unintended Reformation" by Brad Gregory.

    Fetzer would benefit from reading Rene Guenon's "The Reign of Quantity," the works of Wolfgang Smith against Darwinism, and then the complete works of the great Thomist Josef Pieper, beginning with "The Philosophical Act." And for ethics, the work of Alasdair MacIntyre. He would thereby be introduced to the philosophical tradition of Augustinian Thomism, and I hope he would see that it is a superior tradition, especially in moral enquiry, to his own Encyclopaedic one.

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  15. I wrote these words almost two decades ago before I got my training as a philosopher, so they lack some precision and accuracy, but the overall thrust is right. I hope, Jim, that you take them to heart.


    Part: I

    The universe can not be reduced to the size of our souls without our souls being shrunken in the process. It takes courage to accept the infinitude, mystery, unpredictability, and authority of objective reality. Our souls yearn for these as its very food, but when we become metaphysically cowardly, we stunt the growth of our souls by refusing to eat. Just as our physical stomachs shrink when they become accustomed to a sparser diet, so the stomachs of our souls, as it were, shrink when they imbibe only a dry, de-mystified, reduced universe. Authority, order, hierarchy, purpose, and meaning—the universe is made of these. We can see them in the hierarchical astronomical makeup of matter: stars forming star clusters, star clusters forming galaxies, galaxies forming galactic clusters, and galactic clusters forming super clusters; in the perfect orderliness of mathematical formulas that mirror the cosmos; in the hierarchy of natural being; in the manifold structure of the DNA molecule with layers upon layers of complex structures forming an intelligible architectural language. Man’s soul is a microcosm of the universe, but it takes courage to admit its existence. Instead of admitting the higher life of human nature, we reduce ourselves to the level at which we feel most comfortable.
    Reductionism is essentially the denial of any absolute and objective metaphysical or spiritual truth, and it is the philosophical rationalization par excellence of metaphysical cowardice. Since the sixteenth century, there has been a consistent and deliberate reduction of the metaphysical world, while the physical world as we know it has exponentially expanded. A flip-flopping pattern can be seen, with an oscillation between ideas that emphasis objectivity at the expense of subjective experience, and ideas that support subjectivity at the expensive of objectivity. A consensus about reality in both spheres has grown ever wider as the centuries have progressed. The Protestant Revolt emphasized individual, subjective interpretation of revelation in contrast to the objective, communal authority of the Catholic Church. With the integrity of Christendom sundered through excessive subjectivity, we see a pendulum-like reaction in the Enlightenment’s overemphasis on objectivity through reason alone. For the sake of recreating cultural unity, reality was reduced to whatever could be conceded using only the universal and religion-transcending faculty of reason. The nineteenth century saw the rise of romanticism, which turned once again towards subjectivity with a renewed emphasis on genuine feeling and authentic emotion. The antithesis to this in the same century was logical positivism, which reduced the metaphysical world to an even smaller extent than did the Enlightenment; truth and meaning were reduced to what could be ascertained directly and empirically and articulated in strictly “logical” terms. The gap between the objectivists and the subjectivists is at its widest today, with methodological naturalism positing a thoroughly reduced and intensely objectified world, and postmodernism asserting the absolute of no absolutes and the nonexistence of any purely objective reality. These two disparate philosophies are inherently irreconcilable, yet they are held simultaneously by many today. Being intensely reductionist theories, they are both premised on a thoroughly reduced concept of truth, and although they suggest antithetical ideas about what is real and what is knowable, they both reject enough metaphysical, epistemological, and spiritual truth to belie contradiction.

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  16. Part II

    The reductionist systems of logical positivism, naturalism, and dogmatic relativism brought forth in the Enlightenment have spawned more extreme reductionist systems, such as Marx's economic materialism, Freud's psychology of the unconscious, and Darwin's survival of the fittest. And these paved the way for such pernicious political and cultural trends as radical egalitarianism, the sexual revolution, and cultural narcissism. Each of these reduces some essential metaphysical or spiritual aspect of reality to render it observable, controllable, and systematizeable. Economic materialism separates men into economic classes and reduces all human motives to the pursuit of wealth, an ideological system is built solely upon economic empiricism, and man is explained and controlled through economic manipulation. Freudian psychology reduces all the higher values and strivings of man to neurotic responses to sexual frustration, an ideological system is built solely upon psycho-analytical data, and man is explained and controlled through psychoanalysis and therapy. Darwinian natural selection reduces all of man's motives to the level of survival, a system is built solely upon survival fitness, and man is explained and controlled through genetic engineering and population control.
    We can only reduce the world in our perception, for the world will never change ontologically no matter how much we desire it. We can, nevertheless, try to hide in our perceptions and rationalize away our metaphysical cowardice. Just as there is always a rock to hide under and a path to run to in order to avoid physical danger, so there is always some idea to hide in and a philosophy to run to in order to avoid metaphysical danger.

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  17. Jim:

    You philosophize from within a tradition broadly foundational in the Enlightenment and, it seems, twentieth century analytical philosophy. MacIntyre calls this tradition "Encyclopaedia". I philosophize within the Thomist tradition, but I also accept ways of knowing different from and even higher and more certain than philosophy. Rationalism is not self-evident, and neither is materialism or scientism. These are faiths, and erroneous ones at that, for reality itself proves them wrong. Nominalism is where it all begins (late 14th century), as Michael Gillespie has shown, as well as Brad Gregory.

    Pace your pseudo-scientific determination that Roe vs Wade was decided rightly, contemporary moral discourse is incoherent and produces interminable argument, which ends only with arbitrary decisions of elites that produce sacrificial victims, such as the unborn, the poor, and anyone else chosen by the elite to be scapegoats. Science itself is ideological and agenda-driven, and so is academic philosophy.

    I would recommend reading outside your tradition and do a dialectical engagement with Thomism, as well as the philosophia perennis of Rene Guenon (who destroys materialism and scientific reductionism) and Wolfgang Smith (who destroys Darwinism). As for Thomists, the one I would recommend is Josef Pieper, particularly his essay, "The Philosophical Act." In moral philosophy, Alasdair MacIntyre is the preeminent Thomist, who destroys the ideology of liberalism, to which you seem to be a card-carrying member.

    Kantian ethics is nothing but secularized and rationalized Christianity, and it completely ignores the eudaimonistic part of ethical reality. It is unlivable and based upon a false dichotomy between our noumenal and phenomenal selves. Only an ethics of the Good ordered to supernatural happiness, with a recognition of our fallen nature, sin, and grace, can adequately account for human ethical experience, and can ground political and legal order.

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  20. Mr. Fetzer's final summary was quite revealing when he prefaced his points by stating that only arguments based on logic were allowed (at least by him). Obviously Mr. Jones never agreed to such rules at the outset, so by logical definition, Jim's exclusion of any type of religious or theological argument precluded any meaningful dialogue to occur.

    Even though Jim's rules are stacked in his favor, I will logically argue the merits of "viability" as an argument supporting his case for abortion. Viability, by necessity, requires someone to care for the baby's physical needs. Even if the baby is carried to full term, it will certainly die unless someone is willing to care for it.

    By Mr. Fetzer's definition, viability is the unborn baby's (I will not use the Latin term because it is demeaning) ability to live outside the mother's womb. So then, it necessarily implies that there is someone or something that is able to provide the unborn baby's needs. Well, what if medical science was able to create an artificial womb, just like they have created artificial hearts, kidney dialysis machines, artificial lungs, and the like? Clearly the definition of when viability is attained would have to change.

    Clearly, the idea of viability is not a precise scientific concept, actually it is quite arbitrary and totally dependent on what type of care can be provided for that unborn baby.

    Finally, the concept of "personhood" is just as arbitrary, there is no scientific way of determining when an unborn baby is considered to be a "person". But more importantly, the Declaration of Independence guarantees the right of life, and anyone who denies an unborn baby is a living being is unwilling to see the obvious. It is not complicated, but those that are unwilling to face that simple truth will invent all kinds of "scientific" reasons to obfuscate the matter.

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  21. The point of the ethics of belief is that, at least within the domain of determinations of public policy, only objective information based on logic and evidence should make a different. Subjective opinions, including those rooted in articles of faith, are beyond reasoning and would make resolution of these issues impossible.

    So you have attack a straw man. Moreover, viability is an objective state, not in the preposterous sense you attribute to it (of being able to fend for itself) but in the sense of having the physiological ability to survive out of the uterine environment, which completely different and has a well-defined medical definition, which turns out to depend upon the development of the lungs.

    You don't seem to have ever given the matter serious thought, which explains why your comments are trite and insignificant. Even your use of the phrase, "unborn baby", is a violation of language, where the use of the term "baby" properly applies to the issue of a live birth, not to a fetus in late term, much less early term development.

    The point of the exercise is to find the state of physical and neurological development appropriate to the legal and moral status of personhood. That you think this is arbitrary means you have simply not understood the issues, where I have offered multiple reasons for the concept to first apply at the end of the second trimester.

    There is a convergence at that point of development of the viability criterion, the capacity to experience pain criterion and the beginning of consciousness, an issue I did not pursue here (because of its complexity) but which further reinforces that state of development as appropriate for personhood and "the right to life".

    I would encourage you to listen again to the points I was making about ordinary language, embryogenesis and the Court's ruling, which my argument vindicates. It was not the right ruling because the Court made it but because, when due consideration is given to the relevant factors, the Court's decision is vindicated.

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    1. Thank you for your response, it was again, quite revealing. The best that can be said of your argument is that it is yours, but it still remains the product of your own rules, assumptions, and presuppositions. As such, your position is also anchored in your own belief systems and just because you don't see them as religious, doesn't mean they aren't. The US Supreme Court held that Secular Humanism was a religion in the 1961 Torcaso v. Watkins case. Since you seem to recognize their authority, they held that a man-centered philosophy as you adhere to is no less a system of religious beliefs than a God-centered one.

      I don't see that as being particularly remarkable, but what I do see as astounding is the idea that you can derive a sense of morality from such a belief system. If you would study the origins of your own system of beliefs, you would understand that most of secular humanism's adherents gravitated to it to escape the moral standards inextricably bound to a God-centered belief system. The idea that you can derive your sense of moral standards from science and logic is a fantasy.

      I agree with you that your sense of morality is different than mine, but unfortunately, yours is severely warped. By eliminating God from your belief system, you are raising man to a god-like position - in actuality you are appointing man as the supreme authority and by your own definitions, you are conferring to man the authority to make decisions of life and death, for which man has shown that he is utterly incapable of handling such power without inflicting pain, torture, and ultimately death to anyone that would challenge that authority. Tragically, that is all anyone can expect from such a system because if man's authority is supreme, he decrees what is acceptable and good and if he decrees someone would be better off dead, then so be it.

      I fully understand your points and your position, I have no need to hear them again because they reveal your own belief system very clearly. It is quite rich when you accuse me of creating a straw man, for you, my friend, have created a straw house in which to live. And regardless of how much you wish to reinforce it with the building blocks of science, logic, and secular humanistic "morality", it still remains a straw house.

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