Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Just When All Hope Was Lost

Robert P. George, Princeton professor and member of the President's Council on Bioethics has resolved the thorniest political issue of the past thirty years. It turns out that the only three logically consistent positions on abortion are 1. a willfully ignorant inability to acknowledge the moral differences between humans and jellyfish; 2. the dogmatic pro-life position shared by most of his cowriters at NRO; or 3. a somewhat more nuanced view than either (1) or (2), which holds "that some, but not all, human beings have dignity; those who have it possess it by virtue of some quality or set of qualities that they happen to possess that other human beings do not possess (or do not yet possess, or no longer possess)." Unfortunately, the well-intended proponent of the third position will inexorably "find himself driven by the force of logical argumentation into the positions infamously defended by Peter Singer" (which I take to mean infanticide, bestiality, etc).

But wait one minute. I can't speak for the political views of Mr. George, but I'm pretty sure that the National Review long ago capitulated to the mighty logical argumentation of the third-wayers. At least, that's what seems implicit in NR's support for the death penalty (human beings can lose their right to life due to their own actions), the Iraq war and more generally just war theory (human beings in other countries can lose their right to life for a compelling state interest) and even their opposition to the higher taxation levels necessary to support universal health care (human beings' right to life can be subordinated to others' property rights). In fact, I'm pretty sure anyone whose political views have developed since their AP US government class long ago accepted that human beings can lose their dignity for a variety of reasons, and I'm also pretty sure that beliefs with this level of sophistication are a prerequisite for participation in any political system more intrusive than anarcho-syndicalism. But not, apparently, for membership in the presidential bioethics commission.


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