Monday, August 17, 2020

Regret ≠ Wrongdoing or Illegal Behavior

There's some discussion of what's called "abortion regret" which is, obviously, about some women regretting that they had an abortion. 

There is a book on the topic (which I have not yet read) called Abortion Regret: The New Attack on Reproductive Freedom. There's a recent study that shows that most women do not regret having abortions. 

This type of information is importantsince we should know the facts, whatever they are—but it's fair to wonder why there's been so much focus figuring out these facts and, for some, that the facts are that most women don't regret having abortions. After all, these claims are both obviously true:

  • Just because someone regrets doing something does not mean they have done something morally wrong
  • Just because someone regrets doing something does not mean they have done something that should be illegal
  • Just because someone regrets doing something does not mean they have done something that should be criminalized

These points are just so obvious that I won't give examples to "prove" them since it's so easy for anyone to come up with examples on their own. (It's also true, however, that just because someone does not regret doing something doesn't mean they did something that's not wrong or should not be illegal or criminalized, but that point isn't relevant to much, since nobody is trying to make laws or shame anyone on its basis.) We do, however, discuss some arguments like these in our book in the section on question-begging arguments

So the questions are this: 

  • since it's just so obvious that someone's regretting doing something doesn't mean that what they have done is wrong or should be illegal or criminalized, what's the basis for the focus on this issue? 
  • is there any good reason for the obsession on this issue? 
  • why wasn't this concern just widely-dismissed as irrelevant when it arose? 
  • was it dismissed for the reasons but this obvious critique here somehow fallen from how most people respond to this concern? 

If anyone has any good answers, please share them in the comments. 

(I will also note that this is another example that illustrates the importance of having skills at seeing the structure of arguments and knowing some [literal] logic. If you see the italicized premises above and see that they are just clearly false, then you see that there really isn't a pressing need to find the details on the facts about the matter either since, even if more women regretted abortions, that wouldn't, at least not in itself, show anything interesting about abortions, morally or legally. And you don't have to be a libertarian or a great critic of paternalism to realize this!)

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