Saturday, December 12, 2009
Repugnance and the Formation of a Society's Ethics and Morality.
I finally read that instant classic of bioethics, Leon Kass' "The Wisdom of Repugnance." While its proximate goal is to urge a ban on human cloning, Kass advances a much more general ethical position:[R]epugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond reason's power fully to articulate it. Can anyone really give an argument fully adequate to the horror which is father-daughter incest (even with consent), or having sex with animals, or mutilating a corpse, or eating human flesh, or even just (just!) raping or murdering another human being? Would anybody's failure to give full rational justification for his or her revulsion at these practices make that revulsion ethically suspect?Given my ethical intuitionism and my view that moral theories should begin with simple concrete cases, you would think that I would have to grant his point. I do not. Our two positions are actually quite different. I think people should calm down and think rationally about ethical questions. Kass almost seems to think that people do their best moralizing when they're overcome with emotion. Listen to him try to angry up his readers' blood:People are repelled by many aspects of human cloning. They recoil from the prospect of mass production of human beings, with large clones of look-alikes, compromised in their individuality; the idea of father-son or mother-daughter twins; the bizarre prospects of a woman giving birth to and rearing a genetic copy of herself, her spouse or even her deceased father or mother; the grotesqueness of conceiving a child as an exact replacement for another who has died; the utilitarian creation of embryonic genetic duplicates of oneself, to be frozen away or created when necessary, in case of need for homologous tissues or organs for transplantation; the narcissism of those who would clone themselves and the arrogance of others who think they know who deserves to be cloned or which genotype any child-to-be should be thrilled to receive; the Frankensteinian hubris to create human life and increasingly to control its destiny; man playing God.But the most amazing sentence in Kass' whole piece almost flies under radar:Revulsion is not an argument; and some of yesterday's repugnances are today calmly accepted -- though, one must add, not always for the better.It's quite an admission. Even if his last clause is dramatic understatement, Kass still acknowledges that calm acceptance of yesterday's repugnances is sometimesfor the better. And on reflection, that list is very long: vaccination, girls, dissection, religious toleration, kissing, C-sections, inter-racial marriage, paying for parking, colonoscopies, amputation of gangrenous tissue (double yuck), sex, Indian food, male nurses... Some of these continue to disgust me - I feel faint if I even look at a syringe. Still, if I think I need a shot, I try to calm down and do what I think - not feel - is the right thing.
My point is not that repugnance is less than 100% reliable. 100% reliability is a silly standard. My point is that repugnance is habitually unreliable. In any case, there are several useful ways to test the wisdom of repugnance. Under what conditions do we justifiably discount repugnance? For starters:
1. When the repugnant thing is unfamiliar. In retrospect, new things often seem repugnant merely because we haven't experienced them before. When a hero kisses a heroine in a movie, my sons flee in horror. Once they have personal experience, I predict their views will change.
2. When a repugnant thing involves bodily fluids and the inner workings of the human body. There's no way around it - dissection is gross. Fortunately, some people are rational enough to overcome their natural disgust, secure in the knowledge that (a) the dead feel no pain, and (b) they might learn how to help the living.
3. When other people encourage our repugnance. If a classroom full of kids see you eat a chocolate-covered bug, they'll all go, "Eeew!" in unison. They'd probably be less judgmental one-on-one.
4. When we easily get used to it. While deliberate exposure tends to reduce our negative emotions about almost anything, we get used to some things much more quickly than others. Why? Because we often learn that, all things considered, it isn't nearly as bad as we imagined. Think about how completely we've adjusted to widespread in vitro fertilization. It's a repugnant procedure to describe, but when you see happy parents holding their "test-tube baby," the folly our initial repugnance is plain. Compared to the great good of life, a little yuckiness is nothing.
Frankly, I don't see how Kass could deny my points. He almost surely agrees that mankind has repeatedly done the right thing by putting repugnance aside. I'm equally sure, though, that he'd insist that we should stick with our gut reaction to human cloning.
Yet notice: Human cloning fits all four criteria for when we should discount our repugnance! It's totally unfamiliar; it involves bodily fluids and the inner workings of the human body; other people (like Kass himself) encourage our repugnance; and it's pretty obvious that if clones walked among us, we would get used to them lickety-split. If Kass himself met a clone, I doubt he'd tell him, "You should never have come into existence." And before long, he probably wouldn't even say such things to himself.
Mental Health Advocates or Big Pharma Groups?
According to the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights Internation (CCHRI) – A Mental Health Watchdog group. According to CCHRI, Mental Health Advocacy Groups the following MH organizations are paid front men for the pharmaceutical companies. All the companies in favor of banning a person’s right to defend themselves or others. Their solution — dope them up.
These are groups operating under the guise of advocates for the “mentally ill,” which in reality are heavily funded pharmaceutical front groups.
HOW IT ALL STARTED:
In the late 1970s and 1980s, prominent American Psychiatric Association (APA) psychiatrists, directors and researchers with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) were in need of more government funding, and devised a plan to create a “growth of consumer and advocacy organizations” with the intention of getting these groups to help lobby Congress for increased funding for psychiatric research.[i] Several groups emerged first on the scene during that period: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADDA), National Depression & Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA, now called Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, DBSA) and National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).
In an incestuous relationship, many of these groups were formed by the directors or researchers from NIMH-the very organization that needed mental health advocacy groups to make demands on Congress for increased funding. All of them had board or advisory board members with financial ties to Pharma and the majority of them were heavily funded by Pharma. So this was a brilliant marketing/lobbying strategy – Set up patients rights groups to lobby for the funding needed for psychiatry and big Pharma while claiming to be “advocates” for the mentally ill.
Homosexual Violence and the Church.
Moscow Gets Religion.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For years, the Vatican has suggested that a promising area of ecumenical cooperation was a joint struggle by Christian churches against the moral and social challenges posed by a predominantly secular society.
Now the Russian Orthodox Church has come forward to propose a strategic alliance with the Catholic Church aimed, in effect, at saving Europe's soul from "Western post-Christian humanism."
The offer came in an introduction written by Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion to a book of speeches by Pope Benedict XVI on Europe's spiritual crisis, published in Russian by the Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate. In an unusual move, the Vatican newspaper published almost the entire introduction in its Dec. 2 edition.
Archbishop Hilarion, who is president of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, took a combative tone in his text. He denounced the "militant secularism" adopted by an increasingly united Europe, warned that religion was being closed off in the "ghetto" of private devotion, and urged Christians to confront their governments on issues like abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage -- even to the point of civil disobedience.
Archbishop Hilarion's proposal came as 140 Christian leaders in the United States met in New York and issued the "Manhattan Declaration" pledging renewed zeal in defending the unborn, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and protecting religious freedom. The Manhattan Declaration, too, urged non-compliance and perhaps even civil disobedience when Christians are asked to participate in acts like abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
There were many parallels in the Russian Orthodox initiative, along with one big difference: the Russian Orthodox Church, in the words of Archbishop Hilarion, speaks with the moral authority and practical experience of survival under communism. That chapter of ideological repression has similarities with what's happening to religion in Western Europe today, he said.
"For religion, militant secularism is just as dangerous as militant atheism was. Both tend to exclude religion from the public and political sphere, relegating it to a ghetto, confining it to the area of private devotion," he said.
The archbishop added that in modern Europe the "unwritten rules of political correctness" are increasingly applied to religious institutions, to the point that believers can no longer express their religious convictions publicly because it would be considered a violation of the rights of non-believers.
Archbishop Hilarion said Europe's political unification had brought with it the risk of a new pan-European "dictatorship" that would impose a single model of secular humanistic values on all European countries.
The process has been abetted by the Western media, he said, which focus almost exclusively on the scandals and shortcomings of Christian churches and ignores their spiritual richness and social contributions. He suggested that this may be part of a wider design of intimidation and "progressive marginalization of Christianity from society, up to its complete expulsion."
The Russian Orthodox view is that the religious beliefs of the population of each state should be reflected in its legislation. For Christian populations, that would mean rejection of practices like euthanasia, homosexual marriage, pornography and prostitution, he said.
He noted that the Russian Orthodox Church has taken strong public positions against abortion, surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination and sex-change operations. It's crucial, he said, that churches have the right not only to hold these beliefs but also to profess them in society and influence public policy, without being accused of intolerance.
In case of a conflict between the church's moral teachings and civil law, the Christian must have the right to follow his religious beliefs, Archbishop Hilarion said. In particular, he said, when a civil law contradicts divine law on an essential matter, it "ceases to be law and becomes illegal."
When respecting such a law would force the Christian to commit a grave sin, the Christian is held to denounce it through legal means and, if necessary, resort to civil disobedience, he said.
"Obviously, disobeying a civil law is an extreme measure that a particular church can adopt in exceptional circumstances. But it is a possibility that cannot be excluded in advance, if a system of secularized values becomes the only operating one in Europe," he said.
Archbishop Hilarion noted the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that crucifixes hanging in Italian public schools violate religious freedom. The court's decision, he said, went against the right of each state to preserve its own traditions and identity, and represented another attempt to erase Europe's Christian roots.
"I think in all these areas we can collaborate with the Catholic Church in defending the Christian tradition against militant secularism," he said.
The archbishop said it was a "sad spectacle" to see European churches abandoned by the faithful and turned into pubs, half-empty cathedrals, seminaries without students and empty religious houses. While the church communities themselves are partly responsible for this situation, the disruptive effects of secularism should not be undervalued, he said.
In contrast, he said, the Russian Orthodox Church has emerged from decades of repression with new vigor: new churches are being built, seminaries are full and millions of people are returning to God in a "religious renaissance."
Vatican officials made no formal response to the archbishop's text, but read it with great interest.
At age 43, Archbishop Hilarion is considered a young mover and shaker in Moscow. Partly educated in the West, he has been open to dialogue and recently held extensive talks with Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials.
A Peaceful Death.
Subsidiarity: Catholics abet Tea Bagger Independence.
The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This is one of the basic dividing lines of the two basic approaches to American politics. The Right emphasizes “not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” and “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.
The Left emphasizes “prohibited byit to the States.” Therein lies the dilemma.
Article I, Section 8, gives Congress power “To regulate Commerce . . . among the several states.”
OK, so here’s the thing. I usually praise Medicaid for being subsidiarist, even while I express frustration that one can’t get medical care in another state if one is on Medicaid.
It occurred to me today, and this is just a little change in thought, as subsidiarity and the question of not trusting federal power in general still come into play, but I’m wondering if the Constitutional argument against government run health care is really valid, since health care is most definitely an interstate commerce issue in our society.
For example, if Medicaid were transferable out of state, I could have taken the girls and gone to Johns Hopkins by now.