Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Engaged Philosophy interview

 I was interviewed for the "Engaged Philosophy" project! The interview is here and pasted below also. Among other things, I discuss Thinking Critically About Abortion and its goals and motivations.

Nathan Nobis is an associate professor of philosophy at Morehouse College, treasurer of the Public Philosophy Network and is a member of the APA’s Public Philosophy committee. He works to make philosophy publicly accessible in content, writing style, and cost.


Much of my public philosophy is motivated by the goals of demonstrating clear, easy-to-read, yet rigorous philosophy and teaching people how to better think about philosophical and ethical issues. 

I teach philosophy at a college, and I also have a small position doing some bioethics activities at a medical school. I also help run 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology, which creates highly accessible, top-quality introductory readings in philosophy. Currently, we have about 115 essays. 

Another thing I have done is created two open-access introductory books, Animals & Ethics 101: Thinking Critically About Animal Rights and, more recently, with my co-author Kristina Grob, Thinking Critically About Abortion: Why Most Abortions Aren’t Wrong & Why All Abortions Should Be Legal.


All these projects have been very successful! 

Readers like students appreciate the essays at 1000-Word Philosophy since the essays are direct, to the point, and free! They can really engage the issues through these materials, and so they learn more and have more fun.

Instructors appreciate them since they are useful for many teaching purposes and, most importantly, students can read and understand them, unlike many readings that are, honestly, just too hard for many readers (and that’s often not the readers’ fault; many historical and contemporary academic writings are just not written with general readers in mind). 

1000-Word Philosophy is on its way to getting about half a million views each year, and we suspect that most of the viewers are students or interested general readers from the public looking to learn more about philosophy. There’s a strong public interest in philosophy, so it’s a matter of having good materials and helping people find those materials: Making this connection is, of course, easier said than done. 

My and Kristina’s abortion book, which grew out of two chapters written for an open-access textbook, has also been very successful, in terms of the numbers of people productively engaging with the book and its spin-off content. The book has a lot of great reviews, including some people claiming it’s the best introductory book on the subject. 

Abortion is, obviously, an exceedingly important issue and it’s one that, honestly, philosophers know a lot about. In particular, they know and, I’ll boldly say, can prove or demonstrate that many common arguments given on the issues, on all sides, are bad arguments. If we can get more people interested in learning why this is so (and many people are interested, although some people—on all sides of the issue—seem unfortunately just not interested in finding good arguments and seeing why bad arguments are bad), we can elevate the discussion and at least move on to the more complex issues: Again, philosophers have a lot to teach here, if people are willing to learn, and so we’ve tried to create a great “unit” on abortion that anyone can learn from. 

And the book’s web page gets a few hundred views every day, in part because I share the book and new, related content online quite often. Much of this new content is inspired by themes I observe in engaging people on these issues: What are common deficiencies in terms of how people conceptualize the issues, the arguments they accept and offer and how they respond to other people (especially when they disagree), and how can people do better in engaging the issues, if the goals are better arguments and reasonable and respectful persuasion? Social media is a good “lab” to make discoveries here, and that can happen in productive, friendly ways: Philosophers can and should rise above the typical unproductive ways of engaging controversies. 


Something unique about these educational materials is that they are all very reader-centric in that they very much begin with how ordinary people tend to see things and try to “meet them where they are at.” 

So the 1000-Word Philosophy essays often begin with some kind of example or observation from daily life, and use that to motivate a more abstract discussion. We try to make things “relevant,” as some say, which just makes everything more interesting and inviting. We do a lot to think about what would more effectively reach people, based on our interacting with them. 

The abortion book begins—indeed most of the book is about—issues that most philosophical discussions skip past: Defining abortion, question-begging arguments, and simple arguments that if you’ve had one just lesson about evaluating arguments you can identify as bad arguments. 

So I think philosophers should do more to listen to non-philosophers and see how they understand issues. What we do and the ways we engage and communicate should be motivated by empathy. We do know a lot, but we aren’t know-it-alls, and we shouldn’t seem like that. That’s not true and that’s not helpful, for anyone. 

Speaking of empathy, another thing I sometimes do is philosophical counseling and consulting. I am certified in something called “Logic Based Therapy,” which basically amounts to helping people figure out the arguments they are accepting that’s leading them to feel how they feel, especially when they are feeling down in various ways. So I help people figure out the literal premises they are accepting that’s leading them to how they are feeling, critique those premises (they often involve a false belief about what “must” be the case) and then find better premises and strategies to integrate those better beliefs. This also often involves helping people think through ethical challenges they encounter in their jobs and family life. Philosophy is often said to be personally relevant and this is one activity that proves that: I encourage more philosophers to look into it since, again, we have a lot to offer, even in using reason to help people feel better.


So my general thought here is inspired by a quote from Howard Thurman: 

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I do, however, want to correct him: we should ask what the world needs. And what the world needs is, in part, philosophy, or good philosophy. Philosophy is a partial cause of many of our problems and it’s also part of the solution. 

Almost every current issue is relevant to philosophy. So, to better figure out what to do about COVID, we need to remind ourselves—as we do when teaching utilitarianism—that all consequences of our alternative possible ways of responding “count” in deciding what we should do. In engaging the “blue lives matter” crowd, they need to be reminded that nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, a basic presumption of ethics and a well-justified belief about human nature. About climate change, the looming crisis that most of us are too distracted to think about, we need to recall that knowledge and expertise matters: Wishful thinking based on made-up “facts” is bad. The too many people who seem to deny that Black lives matter should be taught about John Rawls’ veil of ignorance and reminded of the Golden Rule. And everyone needs to be reminded that honesty is good and name-calling is bad: That’s kindergarten philosophy, but too many people have forgotten. 

So in being part of public philosophy, which includes teaching, we demonstrate fair, honest, and rigorous philosophical thinking in engaging other people and ourselves. If we do that, including online, we are part of the solution. Philosophy matters.

How should we do this? Here I go back to Thurman: Do what makes you come alive! There are so many ways to engage the public that are fun and allow people to use and express their own unique talents. So be creative, experiment, and try something new! If you think something would be cool and help people think better about important issues, give it a try! And, better, find some like-minded people and give it a try together. The world needs philosophy, and since we are part of that world, we need it too.

Nathan Nobis with Stephane Dunn, film studies professor at Morehouse, and Issac Wright, Jr., whose story of a wrongful conviction and prison sentencing is the subject of the ABC drama “For Life” and who spoke to Nathan’s class about his experience.

EngagedPhilosophy readers: If you’d like to nominate yourself or someone else for an interview, email us at

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All other blog posts are available here

Friday, October 23, 2020

What are rights? What's the "right" to abortion?

Many people are concerned about the right to abortion. Some people and lawmakers want to take it away, but others declare "They can't take that right away!"

Can that right be taken away? In general, can we lose rights?

It depends on what you mean by "rights." What do you mean, "rights"?  

There are at least two types of rights: 

  • legal rights.
  • moral or natural rights.
Legal rights are, roughly, what the law allows: you can't get arrested or sent to prison for doing what you have a legal right to do. 

So, to say that there's a legal right to abortion is to say that the law allows abortion: abortion is not a crime. (Other legal rights aren't merely about allowing actions, but impose requirements).

Legal rights, however, can come and go, depending on what the government does. For example, in the US (and many other parts of the world) some people had the legal right to enslave other people, to have full and complete control over them. And many people lacked the legal right to vote. 

The laws, however, changed and these legal rights (to own other people, to prevent people from voting) were thankfully lost. 

What if these laws had never changed though? Would slavery and denying the vote to most people still be wrong? Would people's rights still be violated if slavery was legal?

Yes, because this would violate people's moral or natural rights

People have a moral or natural right to not be enslaved. They have a moral or natural right to freedom. And at least in societies where people vote, every person has the moral or natural right to vote. 

(These rights would often be considered "negative rights": it's a right to be allowed to do something, to not be interfered with. "Positive rights," on the other hand, are rights to some kind of benefit to some kind of assistance: e.g., the right to health care would impose an obligation that others provide health care services for other people. So, there are the concepts of both negative and positive moral rights, and negative and positive legal rights. The initial legal examples above were of negative legal rights.)  

People have these (negative) moral or natural rights even if the law doesn't recognize them. When laws don't recognize or disrespect moral or natural rights, those are unjust laws: granting someone the legal right to violate someone's natural rights, say the legal right to enslave someone else, is unjust. 

So, could people lose the right to abortion?

They could lose the legal right to abortion: that's for sure. 

But if people have the moral or natural right to abortion, then they couldn't lose that right: this type of rights just can't be lost. 

Do people have that moral or natural right to abortion? Why would they have that right, if they have it? Why might they not have that right, according to people who deny there is such a right?

These are important questions, and some of the most important answers are reviewed and evaluated in Thinking Critically About Abortion. If you don't know how these questions would be answered, please read it! That's your legal and moral or natural right*!

* Note: there's a lot more to say about rights; this post is a major simplification. For more, see here

All other blog posts are available here

Does "life" begin at conception? Biological versus "biographical" life

About abortion, it's often asked "when does life begin?" Are fetuses even alive?

People who oppose abortion are quick to argue that "life begins at conception": they even say "science says" that life begins at conception. 

Some pro-choice people ask if fetuses are even alive. Their question can seem silly (since abortions involve killing fetuses, and you can't kill things that aren't alive, so fetuses must be alive!), but it's really not. 

It all depends on what "being alive" means. What is life anyway? What do you mean "life"


One clear answer is that "life" is biological life. So to be alive is to be biologically alive or engaging in the processes of living things: taking things in, putting stuff out, growing, repairing, and so on. 

Fetuses clearly are biologically alive. Again, since abortion involves killing fetuses, they must be biologically alive. You don't need a scientist to tell you that. 


There's another legitimate meaning of "life" though. To see this meaning, consider this example:

Suppose a 20-something was in a car crash 20 years ago. She had been in a deep coma ever since, because her brain was extremly damaged, but her body - which breathed on its own - finally died yesterday.
When did her life end? When did she cease to be alive?

We might want to say that her biological life ended yesterday, but that her what we could all her biographical life ended 20 years ago: the "story" of her life ended at the car crash: the person she was ended then. 


So what kind of "life" are we thinking about when asking "when does life begin?" Biological life, or biographical life?

People who oppose abortion tend to assume biological life, partly because they usually aren't aware of the concept of biographical life. They assume that if fetuses are biologically alive, then abortion is often wrong. 

However, consider these assumptions, which are essential to various arguments from fetuses are biologically alive to the conclusion that abortion is typically wrong:

A. All living things are typically wrong to kill.

B. All living things that are biologically human are typically wrong to kill.

C. All living things that are biologically human organisms are typically wrong to kill. 

(A) is false: plants and mold are biologically alive, but not wrong to kill.

(B) is false: a random blob of living biologically human cheek cells wouldn't be wrong to kill.

(C) is what's at issue. 

Is a premise or assumption like (C) true? Why would someone think it's true? 

Although many people assume that this is true, one can see why it's actually probably false by thinking about why human beings are wrong to kill. Human beings can't be wrong to kill just because they are human beings: there has to be more of an explanation: what are better explanations and maybe the best explanation? Thinking through these questions (and better answers arguably appeal to consciousness, sentient, feeling or awareness) contribute to reasons to think that this premise is not true: while many human organisms are wrong to kill, not all human organisms are like that, and early fetuses are among that "not all." 

So, in sum, that biological life begins very early in pregnancy, and even that the biological life of human organisms begins very early in pregnancy, does not mean that abortion is wrong. There are hard steps to reach that conclusion. 


To return to the rough concept of "biographical life," it's worth noting that it's true that beings with biographical lives are typically wrong to kill. To be someone with a "life story," a person, does mean that they are wrong to kill, unless there's a good reason to do so. 

So if people who are wondering whether fetuses are alive, if the question is about biographical life, then the question makes sense. 

But, no, early fetuses are not biographically alive -- they would begin becoming biographically alive far later in pregnancy when they become conscious -- and so the principle against killing beings that are biographically alive does not apply to them. 


This is just a start of this discussion and these issues are discussed here in this section of Thinking Critically About Abortion and these blog posts, among other sources:

All other blog posts are available here

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Are fetuses "human beings"? Biological versus psychological definitions

Are fetuses human beings?

Many people believe that if they are, then abortion is generally wrong. 

But what is a human being? What do you mean "human being"

There are two broad answers or definitions of "human being":

  1. Human beings are biologically human organisms. 
  2. Human beings are biologically human organisms who are conscious and feeling, with knowledge and emotions and other cognitive, emotional, and social characteristics. 
About definition 2:
  • people who deny that early fetuses are "human beings" generally have something like definition 2 in mind. (Ask them!).
  • biologically human organisms who have psychological characteristics such as being conscious and feeling, with knowledge and emotions and other cognitive, emotional, and social characteristics are usually wrong to kill;
  • but, fetuses are not "human beings" on this meaning of the term (which is better expressed as "human person"), and so the rule against killing human beings in this sense of the term does not apply to them. 
About definition 1:
  • people who claim that fetuses are human beings generally have something like definition 1 in mind. And they are correct: (human) fetuses are, obviously, biologically human organisms;
  • however, that would make abortion wrong only if a premise like this is true:
All biologically human organisms are typically wrong to kill. 

Is a premise or assumption like this true? Why would someone think it's true? 

Although many people assume that this is true, one can see why it's actually probably false by thinking about why human beings are wrong to kill. Human beings can't be wrong to kill just because they are human beings: there has to be more of an explanation: what are better explanations and maybe the best explanation? 

Thinking through these questions (and better answers arguably appeal to consciousness, sentient, feeling or awareness) contribute to reasons to think that this premise is not true: while many human organisms are wrong to kill, not all human organisms are like that, and early fetuses are among that "not all." 

This is just a start of this discussion and these issues are discussed here in this section of Thinking Critically About Abortion and these blog posts:

All other blog posts are available here.
@nathan.nobis What do some people have a hard time understanding that words sometimes have different meanings? Why are they unable to listen to people to understand what they are saying? #meaning #listening #ambiguity #communication #abortion #prochoice #prolife #philosophy #ethics #criticalthinking #polarization ♬ original sound - Philosophy 101 - Prof. Nobis
@nathan.nobis On the different meanings of the term "human being" #abortion #prochoice #prolife #ethics #philosophy #bioethics #meaning #definitions #persons #personhood #humanorganisms #humanbeings #human #extremists #extremist ♬ original sound - Philosophy 101 - Prof. Nobis
@nathan.nobis Replying to @capttim #abortion #prochoice #prolife #whenlifebegins #bioethics #ethics #philosophy #criticalthinking #logic #ethicsinscience #ethicsandscience ♬ original sound - Philosophy 101 - Prof. Nobis
@nathan.nobis if you don't Interact with people you disagree with, then you won't know what and how they think. #polarization #ignorance #bubbles #cults #groupthink #philosophy #ethics #criticalthinking ♬ original sound - Philosophy 101 - Prof. Nobis

Some quick notes on common arguments that result from what ordinary people say about these issues. 

1.      Fetuses are human.

2.      All humans are prima facie wrong to kill.

3.      So, abortion – killing fetuses – is prima facie wrong.

This argument disambiguates in at least two ways:


4.      Fetuses are biologically human organisms. (True).

5.      All biologically human organisms are prima facie wrong to kill. (Why think that?)

6.      So, abortion – killing fetuses – is prima facie wrong.


7.      Fetuses are human beings, i.e., feeling, perceiving, biologically human organisms. (False, if this means all fetuses, especially beginning ones).

8.      All human beings, i.e., feeling, perceiving, biologically human organisms are prima facie wrong to kill. (True)

9.      So, abortion – killing fetuses – is prima facie wrong.



Two logically invalid arguments: the premises do not lead to the conclusion due to using ‘human’ in two different meanings, or an “equivocation” on ‘human’:


10.  Fetuses are [merelybiologically human organisms. (True).

11.  All human beings, i.e., feeling, perceiving, biologically human organisms are prima facie wrong to kill. (True).

12.  So, abortion – killing fetuses – is prima facie wrong.


13.  Fetuses are human beings, i.e., feeling, perceiving, biologically human organisms. (False, if this means all fetuses, especially beginning ones).

14.  All [merelybiologically human organisms are prima facie wrong to kill. (Why think that?)

15.  So, abortion – killing fetuses – is prima facie wrong. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Is abortion "healthcare"? What if it often is not?

@nathan.nobis It's not true, wise, or necessary to claim that all abortions are "healthcare." #abortion #prochoice #prolife #ethics #philosophy #bioethics ♬ original sound - Philosophy 101 - Prof. Nobis

"Abortion is healthcare" is a slogan that's popular with some pro-choice people. Indeed, it's used as something of an argument for, or defense of, abortion

"Abortion isn't wrong; it's healthcare!" 

Here are two fair questions of this claim:

  • Is is true?
  • Is it useful?
How should these questions be answered? 


To determine out whether abortion is indeed "healthcare", we'd need to know what "healthcare" is. What's the definition? 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive definition of the word "healthcare." (Look it up!)

However, certainly, some abortions are indeed healthcare: abortions needed to save a woman's life (and where the fetus will also die if she doesn't have the abortion) are healthcare. Even people who generally oppose abortions are willing to call agree: they'd be willing to call these abortions "healthcare."

What about other abortions, most abortions, "elective" abortions? Are they healthcare?

Really, they don't fit any common definitions of healthcare. (Again, look them up!). 

So, they aren't healthcare, at least how it's ordinarily understood.

By now some people are surely upset. 

But why?

It's not like this is true:
Doing something is morally OK and should be legal only if it's "healthcare." 
And it's not like even this is true either:
Doing something medical-ish is morally OK and should be legal only if it's healthcare. 
For example, it's a stretch to call, say, many instances of cosmetic surgery "healthcare" even though they are done in healthcare settings by healthcare providers (or people who could provide healthcare). 

So it's not like anything hangs on abortion being healthcare: it's not like abortion must be healthcare or else it's wrong or should be illegal. That's absurd.  


So then what's the deal with the insistence, in some circles, with calling all, or nearly all, abortions "healthcare"?

I think it's just this: first, they assume that all healthcare is morally permissible and is or should be legal

Indeed, that healthcare is permissible and is or should be legal is pretty much assumed by any definition of healthcare. Ask anyone what they mean by healthcare: they are going assume that healthcare isn't wrong: that's just part of the concept. So this is a good assumption. 

The next step though is the problem: it's that people who claim that abortion is healthcare are "begging the question," or assuming what's at issue. 

Those who "argue" that abortion is healthcare seem to be reasoning like this:
Abortion is not wrong because it is healthcare, namely something done by doctors and nurses and healthcare providers that's not wrong. And so if they perform abortions, that's healthcare, which isn't wrong.
This comes to this:
Abortion is not wrong because healthcare providers perform them and they aren't doing anything wrong.

Ultimately, this comes to this:

Abortion is not wrong because abortion is not wrong

This is begging the question, which is circular reasoning. It involves your reason for your conclusion being that conclusion itself (e.g., "eating meat is wrong because it's not right to eat meat!"). It's bad reasoning, always.

Here, of course, it involves assuming that abortion is not wrong and should be legal. And that's can't be merely assumed: reasons have to be given, and saying "abortion is healthcare" doesn't provide those reasons. (It's worth noting that even if there are great arguments in defense of abortion [and there are!], that doesn't mean that abortion is healthcare either). 


So, to return to our questions above:

  • Is "abortion is healthcare" true
It depends on the abortion, but in most cases this is false.
  • Is "abortion is healthcare" helpful
No, not at all

This claim is going to be entirely unhelpful to anyone who doesn't already believe that abortion is permissible and should be legal. To anyone who doesn't already believe that, they are going to react that this slogan assumes that abortion is not wrong: it assumes that any arguments against abortion are unsound. (Maybe they are, but, again, that can't be merely assumed).  

These assumptions are unhelpful: merely assuming this gives no reason for anyone to change their mind, or even give anything new to consider. And, for people who say "abortion is healthcare," this slogan doesn't do anything to help them better understand the issues and the why behind their perspective. 

So, why do people say things like this? 

One set of answers relates to groupthink and "virtue signaling": people say what sounds good to their own in-group, without thinking about how outsiders would respond, and people say these things to show people in the group that they are part of the group. 

Is this good? No. 

So, another answer is that many people say these things because of a lack of training and education in what makes for good arguments, both in terms of providing evidence for conclusions and in terms of persuasiveness

What's then the solution here? Training and education about arguments and critical thinking. And that would be good not just for these issues, but all others too. Right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Abortion and the Bible

Many people assume that the Bible condemns abortion. However, but there's a lot of thoughtful discussion available that argues that it does not: in fact, there are passages from the Bible that suggest that abortion is permissible, and certainly not morally equivalent to killing a born person.

Related, people often assume that Christians must, and always have, opposed abortion. Again, there is thoughtful historical and theological discussion to the contrary that people should be more aware of.

Here is the brief discussion from Thinking Critically About Abortion on these issues. (See there for working links too for support for many of the claims made.)

(Also see "What does the Bible really say about abortion?" By John J. Collins, October 16, 2020) “The Bible says abortion is wrong.”

People often appeal to religion to justify their moral views. Some say that God thinks abortion is wrong, but it’s a fair question how they might know this, especially since others claim to know that God doesn’t think that. Some say that “only God should decide who exists and who ceases to exist, who is born and who dies,” yet this phrase lacks meaning and it fails to provide moral guidance. For example, people frequently try to reproduce, which causes people to come into existence, and this is rarely considered immoral. At the other end of the life spectrum, a "hands off" approach to end of life decisions is not just irresponsible, it is sometimes profoundly immoral.

In reply, it is sometimes said that the Bible says abortion is wrong (and that’s how we know what God thinks). But the Bible doesn’t say that abortion is wrong: it doesn’t discuss abortion at all. There is a commandment against killing, but, as our discussion above makes clear, this requires interpretation about what and who is wrong to kill: presumably, the Bible doesn’t mean that killing mold or bacteria or plants is wrong. And there are verses (Exodus 21:22-24) that, on some interpretations, suggest that fetuses lack the value of born persons, since penalties for damage to each differ. This coincides with common Jewish views on the issue, that the needs and rights of the mother outweigh any the fetus might have.

However any verses are best interpreted, they still don’t show that abortion is wrong. This is because the Bible is not always a reliable guide to morality, since there are troubling verses that seem to require killing people for trivial “crimes,” allow enslaving people (and beating them), require obeying all government officials and more. And Jesus commanded loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your enemies and taking care of orphans, immigrants and refugees, and offered many other moral guidelines that many people regard as false.[7] Simple moral arguments from the Bible assume that if the Bible says an action is wrong, then it really is wrong (and if the Bible says something’s not wrong, it’s not wrong), and both premises don’t seem to be literally true, or even believed.

This all suggests that people sometimes appeal to the Bible, and other religious sources, in selective and self-serving ways: they come to the Bible with their previously-held moral assumptions and seek to find something in the Bible to justify them. A quote from the late Christian author Rachel Held Evans gives insight and wisdom here:

There is an interesting and important Biblical connection here worth mentioning though. Some argue that if women who want abortions are prevented from having them, that forces them to remain pregnant and give birth and this is like forcing women to be like the “Good Samaritan” from the New Testament who went out of his way, at expense to himself, to help a stranger in great need (Luke 10:25-37). (The analogy is imperfect, as analogies always are, yet imperfect analogies can yield insight.)

The problem is that in no other area of life is anyone forced to be a Good Samaritan like a pregnant woman would: e.g., you can’t be forced to donate an organ to anyone in need (even to your child or parent [8]); you can’t even be forced to donate your organs after you are dead! Nobody other than pregnant women would be forced by the government—under threat of imprisonment or worse—to use their body to help sustain someone else’s life. (Any “Good Samaritan” laws demand far, far less than what pregnancy and childbirth demand.) So it is unfair to require women to be Good Samaritans but allow the rest of us to be like the priest and Levite in the story who go out of their way to help nobody.

Finally, it’s important to remember that laws should not be based on any particular religion. If you are not, say, a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Rastafarian, you probably don’t want laws based solely on one of those religion’s values. Laws should be religiously-neutral; on that we all should agree.

[7] Appeals to the Bible and any other sources considered to be an authority leads to this dilemma: either there are good reasons to accept what that authority claims or not. If not, then we should not accept what the authority says. If there are good reasons, then those reasons—which we all can discuss and debate—would be why we should accept what it says, not because the “authority” says so. These insights are applied to morally problematic verses of the Bible, since we have good reasons to reject the moral guidance suggested by those verses. For discussion of these issues, which are related to the “Euthyphro dilemma” that Socrates addressed, see Spencer Case’s “Because God Says So: On Divine Command Theory,” at 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology

Friday, October 16, 2020

A Response to Clinton Wilcox's review of 'Thinking Critically About Abortion' at "Secular Pro-Life"

Last year in 2019 an organization called “Secular Pro-Life” posted a partial book review by Clinton Wilcox of Thinking Critically About Abortion. It is over 9,000 words, which is very long for a review. (The whole book is around 13,000 words, and Wilcox doesn't review the whole book). 

I have been unsure about how to respond, given the length and format of the presentation, but I decided the most effective way would be to just add “comments” to it: a "he says they say but I say about what he says about what they say" type of response won't work here. So, with Wilcox’s permission, I cut and pasted his reviews into a Doc and added comments here. I don't, however, offer any "big picture" or summarizing reflections here, for better or worse: I'll leave it up to any readers to step back and reflect on that, if they want.

I sometimes slightly edit his text by adding paragraph breaks to paragraphs with multiple topics to make it easier on any (online) reader.

His initial posts are here: part one is here, part two here, and part three is here.

Also, here is a response to an earlier response from Wilcox to my 1000-Word Philosophy article on abortion.

All other blog posts are available here.