Friday, January 12, 2007

About that whole adaptability/stasis thing...

I think it's strange to hear people making the appeal to moral intuitions as if they alone constitute an argument. There's some evidence to show that our inherent repulsion about things like this isn't very deeply grounded in some innate moral wisdom. Rather, it's often full of inconsistencies, and one finds that its roots are in memes long bygone (cf Peter Singer and infanticide). Flitcraft/AlexaBlue from this conversation.

Everything AlexaBlue says here is true. However, sometimes things seem inconsistent because we have not yet discerned an overarching theme that defines commonalities that aren't obvious. Easy to assume irrationality (or, I suppose, purely associative logic), but it strikes me completely discounting intuitive reasoning on the basis of observed inconsistency (as though this is magically free of bias) is arrogant.

Anyhow, I was thinking this is related to what I was arguing about Ghost's question. I can't formulate a cohesive opinion about the actual case under discussion, beyond wanting to validate "gut reactions" to some extent, which puts me into the default position taken by Archaeopteryx in the thread.

There is a certain arrogance reminiscent, however, to situations like forced sterilization of people with Down's syndrome, or compulsory education of native peoples in boarding schools, or arguments that black people ought not be provided a larger context (education) in which to view their lot, because they'd just find it depressing.

Not that the situations are equivalent on relevant dimensions, but that the discomfort we might feel is both valid, and worthy of consideration. The judgments we’re inclined to cast on these parents and doctors is akin to the judgments cast on this child by her parents and doctors. Though familiarity and kinship might certainly provide a clearer image of the picture, proximity can also be distorting, due to the manner in which ones best interest tends to compete with another's comfort, at times.

How would the conversation go if they wanted to give the girl a clitorectomy?

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