Marx and Woman (was Re: Gender & Free Speech)

Sun Mar 26 14:34:08 PST 2000

In a message dated 00-03-26 06:46:38 EST, you write:

<< Justin wrote:

What makes abortion hard is that if

>we want to say it is OK to kill fetuses, it is difficult to avoid commiting

>ourselves to principles that would appear to make it OK to kill newborn


> Should logic be the arbiter of morality, however?

As opposed to what, God?

><The threshold of

personhood has been historically determined, and it cannot be determined


Oh, history. So we should just accept whatever local consensus obtains hereabout? Now you sound like Rorty as hsi worst.

>Why should this fact be unacceptable to a philosopher? Singer

says that "a location of a being -- inside or outside the womb -- should

not make that much difference to the wrongness of killing it" (_Practical

Ethics_ 139), but he never explains _why_ it shouldn't.

Umm, because the thing has pretty much the same intrinsic properties whichever side of cervix it is on at around time of delivery.

> We have to draw a

line somewhere, so why not here? Certainly, birth is a clearer, more

visible, & more commonly accepted threshold than Singer's alternative

(non-personhood for newborns for the period of 28 days after birth).

Sure, and we can day we draw the line there for those reasons, but it does leave a nagging wowrry that if we say late term abortion is OK we are effetiverly OKing infanticide.

> BTW,

in such statements as the one quoted above, Singer reduces a woman's body

to a "location." Even though Singer is pro-choice, he never considers

abortion as a right necessary for women to gain personhood on a par with


This pushes you to the Judith Thompson line, abortion is all right even if fetuses are 100% people from the get go. Unfortunately, her argument depends on the proposition taht no one hasa right to demand the means of life from another. That is not acceptable to socialists. So, what are you gonna give up--socialism, feminism, or rights to life for babies? You see what I meam about the issue being hard?

> Marxists & feminists, however, cannot assume a perspective on

abortion that reduces women to "locations" and fails to consider the

effects of reproductive politics on gender oppression.

If late term fetuses are people, then their rights to life are more important tahn women's rights to be free of gender oppression. Otherwise a woman could kill anyone whose existence or behavior oppressed her. Suresly this houold be obvious.

> Moralizing an issue has a consequence of making it seem like a matter of

private choice & responsibility. Why not politicize it (= make it a

question of social relations)?

Why not both? Anyway, I am not interested in sating, Bad woman, you had an abortion, or Good woman, to exercised your choice. I am interestedin having the politics I support squarew ith the morally right thing to do.

> Also, based upon the logic of

your argument, it seems to me that there is no plausible justification for

making X a moral issue while leaving Y a non-moral one. However,

moralizing anything & everything is impossible; if everything is moral and

equally so, nothing really is.

Huh? I don't get it. Utilitarians _do_ moralize all actions, so it is not impossible ot empty to do so. I am not a utilitarian, but like them I think some issues don't present interesting moral questions, like whether I should eat green beans or carrots tonight. Abortion comes moralized because if you are sentirent and thinka bout it at all, all these questions arise. You can willfully avoid them, but that does not mean they will go away.

>No. "Free thought" protects disagreement, but I think that views are to be

>defended because we think they are true, which means that it would be an

>error to adopt a contrary view, hwoever supple and dialectical. Of course we

>don't know the true views for sure, which is part of the raeson that we never

>get rid of disagreement.

>Sometimes we do. Nowadays, no one believes in geocentrism. What's

politically important must be which disagreements should be tolerated.

No one? There are flat earthers. Hell, therea re probably millions of poor uneduacted people who are geocentrsits. iw ould not, however, want to ban the view even if there are only a few of them. Your last sentence is utterly chilling. Why not assume as the norm that ll disagreementys are to be tolerated?

> Well, there is a historical reason why in ancient Greece there was a

near-universal consensus that slavery was not wrong, while the same

consensus did not obtain in America. First of all, slavery in ancient

Greece was not the same as modern American slavery.

Some of it was worse. Your point?

> Surely you can have burning moral indignation without being committed to a

belief in the existence of transhistorical standards of justice?


Yes, but I don't see why I should go out of my way to find an excuse for saying that slavery might be right in the appropriate circumstances or a suitable point of view. That's what rejection of "transhistorical standards of justice" amounts to, okaying slavery from some point of view. Why does taht have anything to recommend it?


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