[lit-ideas] Re: Does This Have Wings?

  • From: "Veronica Caley" <molleo1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2012 15:19:41 -0400

Those who grew up penisless could be honored as saviors of the human race and 
accorded great honors and priveleges.

Not quite.  But they were honored and praised for their soprano voices.  This 
was an  opportunity  to keep women out of church altars to sing.

One more example of a truly loving church, don't you think?

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Mike Geary 
  To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Cc: Donal McEvoy 
  Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 5:24 PM
  Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Does This Have Wings?

  I don't know why you guys (and it is all guys) think that logic or morality 
or sociology or economics The Daytona 500 have any thing to to with this.  
Guys, it's all about FUCKING.  How do you put an end to that?  The Catholic 
Church ministery found a way -- fuck the altar boys, leave those women alone.  
My suggested solution is Radical Circumcision.  Oops.  And another one gone and 
another one gone and another penis bites the dust.   Ethnographers can set the 
RC rate.  Those who grew up penisless could be honored as saviors of the human 
race and accorded great honors and priveleges.

  Mike Geary

  On Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 1:39 PM, Ed Farrell <ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

    Friday, July 13, 2012, 8:26:44 AM, Donal wrote:


          From: Ed Farrell <ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx>

          >It's also clear in the arguments of Paul and Donal how utilitarian 
"ethics," constructed as it typically is upon hypotheticals, is less about 
human beings and more about statistical constructs.>

          Whatever I posted is compatible with a rights-based and 
non-utilitarian view, one "about human beings" and not mere "statistical 
constructs": a so-called 'right to have children' may have to be curtailed when 
having too many children undermines other rights (like to survive without some 
conflict to the death between the living). Starvation or drought being faced 
through over-population is hardly merely hypothetical or a 'statistical 
construct': and no morality says anything worthwhile if what it says is 
irrespective of any 'hypotheticals' in the sense of a practical 
problem-situation that is partly determined by 'facts'. 

    Starvation through overpopulation, when presented as a moral club to
    persuade us to large scale programs of enforced birth control, IS a
    hypothetical.  Ehrlich, who Hart cited earlier, was a notorious
    proponent of draconian birth control whose "starvation through
    overpopulation" predictions were notoriously wrong.


          From what I have read elsewhere, the evidence tends to support Chris 
Bruce's suggestion: that when sufficiently empowered and free from poverty 
women will not have more children than is sustainable. But say that empowerment 
does not occur so as to stave off a potentially disastrous expansion of 
population (which may make issues of poverty even more intractable, and lead to 
social instability and even war): it seems to me the 'right to have children' 
does not clearly trump any other rights and that legal restrictions on such a 
right may be justified in terms of the importance of other rights. 

          What matters here is the moral problem-situation which is partly 
constituted by the 'facts'. On my view, there are conceivable circumstances 
when certain restrictions would be justified: and I can even conceive of 
circumstances where forcible abortion might be the lesser of two evils - say, 
if nothing short of such a policy would curtail an expansion of population such 
that mass starvation and social breakdown would occur. This is not necessarily 
only a utilitarian view but one that might be based on the view that there is 
something morally much more wrong in many starving to death than in some 
foetuses being forcibly aborted (as part of a policy needed to keep population 
within sustainable limits). If it comes down to it, I am inclined to think that 
there is something morally much more wrong in many starving to death than in 
some foetuses being forcibly aborted, but of course any genuine moral problem 
of this sort will rarely present in such a straighforward or clear-cut way. 
Nevertheless, what I am inclined to think here is very much "about human 
beings", and the reality of their suffering, and not "about statistical 

    Well, but this "starvation though overpopulation" scenario IS a
    hypothetical construct (and a rhetorical device, of course). It
    is certainly not about starvation and suffering in any unequivocal
    way.  Starvation and suffering are not one-dimensional but the
    'starvation through over-population' scenario is.  We do not
    associate the Netherlands, Japan or Singapore with starving masses
    yet they have far higher population densities than the most
    crowded parts of sub-Saharan Africa. When presented with the
    figures for Japan's population and population density, someone of
    Malthus's generation would have undoubtedly regarded it as
    impossibly over-populated. More that this, population curves are
    not the simple exponential series most "starvation through
    overpopulation" scenarios (pace Malthus) assume, but are in fact
    complex and difficult to account for (here's Japan again, from
    the Eugenics Review of 1966):   



          As it happens, I do not regard myself as utilitarian though I think 
there are many cases where some of the considerations that would weigh in 
certain utilitarian thinking have moral force (though that force need not be 
based on 'utility' but on a sense of right and wrong; and so acknowledging 
their force need not make one utilitarian).

          The suspicion is that over-population is not here offered as an issue 
raising genuine and difficult moral problems - problems we should try to 
foresee; and plan so as lessen the suffering that over-population might cause - 
but in an ideologically driven way to flush out liberals as crypto-fascists [or 
even just fascists] by perhaps showing them up as child murderers if they would 
ever countenance forcible abortion (as indeed I plainly would: though this is 
not a pressing problem for me as there are many ways short of forcible abortion 
by which we might better tackle issues of over-population). The attempt to use 
a morally serious issue in this way is itself morally questionable. The attempt 
to identify my position, with one that prefers statistical constructs to human 
beings, is false. 


    I do not say that you prefer statistical constructs to human
    beings. I do say you are too ready and willing to dictate which
    freedoms and life-choices are available to others.  And while
    some of your willingness may spring from empathy and a love of
    one's neighbor, I would be surprised if self-interest in
    preserving one's own standard of living were not the larger
    factor.  I don't think anyone is immune from the persuasion of
    self-interest, and this should make us particularly cautious
    when we're feeling altruistic, and have the power and ability
    to coerce.       


          On a side-note that is perhaps important: I also share the Darwinian 
view that, despite all the humbug in our culture that hides this, the drive to 
have children is more of a selfish drive than an altrusitic one; and we should 
be wary of such drives especially when they come with a plentiful capacity for 
deception as to their moral character [large families in poor countries may be 
motivated by parents wanting a plentiful supply of children to look after the 
parents in old-age: that may be why removal of poverty lessens the drive for 
large families]. It is the kind of self-deception we have around children, and 
the emotional response we easily can feel, that allows examples such as 
over-population and abortion to be used as convenient tools in ideological 
warfare. But from a Darwinian and global perspective on the possible future, 
and not current circumstances in the well-off West, even forcible abortion 
might be a lesser evil if we do not act to stave off unsustainable population 
growth with its potentially catastrophic consequences.


      ><(((º>¸. ·´¯`·.¸., . .·´¯`·.. ><(((º>
      Edward W. Farrell // ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx

      E d  F a r r e l l  P h o t o g r a p h y

      Plato for Research Management
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