In the contemporary American political scene, it is taken to be a truism that feminism is inseparable from support of abortion. This cultural assumption taken to be seemingly obvious ironically is regularly undermined. “Pro-life feminism” has resurfaced in the political mainstream and with it has come a piece of otherwise suppressed history of the women who fought for the 19th Amendment: the feminist movement historically opposed rather than advocated abortion. Read the rest of this entry »
On the NYT’s philosophy blog, there was an article written about the decision to have children. I didn’t realize it when I first read it, but it was written by notorious pro-abort Peter Singer (and by notorious, I mean that he’s pro-choice even after birth).
But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself. Most of those who consider that question probably do so because they have some reason to fear that the child’s life would be especially difficult — for example, if they have a family history of a devastating illness, physical or mental, that cannot yet be detected prenatally
All this suggests that we think it is wrong to bring into the world a child whose prospects for a happy, healthy life are poor, but we don’t usually think the fact that a child is likely to have a happy, healthy life is a reason for bringing the child into existence. This has come to be known among philosophers as “the asymmetry” and it is not easy to justify. But rather than go into the explanations usually proffered — and why they fail — I want to raise a related problem. How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?
A quick observation will point out that Singer assumes that health is a requirement for happiness, an assumption well refuted by many anecdotes about the joy of those who suffer with illness.
However, I find it amazing that Singer is willing to attempt to determine how “good” a child’s life will be.
One of my favorite historians is Edward Gibbon. I have made my way through his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire several times. I find his style entertaining, his wit dry, and his scholarship, for his time, adequate. Unfortunately Gibbon was also an anti-Catholic bigot, in part a reaction to a brief conversion to the Faith as a teen-ager, which exposed him to considerable paternal displeasure. His bigotry is on full display whenever he treats of the Church, but usually he does not distort the facts. That was not the case in his account of the female philosopher Hypatia, and the fate she met in Egypt in 391 AD. That account, usually in distorted form, is a staple of anti-Catholic and atheist websites. Now Hypatia is the heroine of a Catholic bashing movie Agora. The English trailer of the movie is at the top of this post. David Hart has a superb post at First Things correcting Gibbon and the movie.
The occasion of my misery is the release of Alejandro Amenábar’s film Agora, which purports to be a historical account of the murder of the female philosopher Hypatia by a Christian mob in the early fifth century, of the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria, and (more generally) of an alleged conflict that raged in the ancient world between Greek science and Christian faith. I have not actually seen the movie, and have no intention of doing so (I would say you couldn’t pay me to watch it, but that’s not, strictly speaking, true). All I know about it is what I have read in an article by Larry Rohter in the New York Times. But that is enough to put my teeth on edge.
This video is unsurpassed for conveying in such a brief time, with each minute representing one year, the major events and shifting areas controlled by the Union and the Confederacy during the War. It also graphically portrays the human cost of the War as the seconds roll by and the dead and wounded toll grows ever higher. Read the rest of this entry »