Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stupid Political Conversations

Person 1: Why do you believe X?

Person 2: Well, for these reasons.

Person 1: You're so wrong! You're stupid and/or evil! You will never convince me to believe X!
Person 2: ...I wasn't trying to convince asked me.

Person 1: Premise A.
Person 2: No, premise B.
Person 1: No, premise A because of x,y,z reasons.
Person 2: No, premise B because of c,d,e reasons.
Person 1: Yeah, but you've gotta admit...premise A.
Person 2: I have to admit the very thing over which we're disagreeing? Good point. You win.
Person 1: I think we all know that premise A.
Person 2: So...what? We all secretly "know" your opinion, and we're just pretending to disagree to be difficult?
Person 1: If you think about it, premise A.
Person 2: Oh yes, if only I would think. All of your arguments are now logically sound, because you reminded me to think. Thank you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kidney donations and abortion

Recently the Texas Freethought Convention held a debate between a pro-life atheist and a pro-choice atheist. Near the beginning, the pro-choice atheist described this analogy:

An alternate version [of the Violinist], which I much prefer, simply asks if a parent should be legally required to donate a kidney to their child...the parent willingly procreated with the knowledge that there was some nonzero risk of passing on a rare kidney disease that would require this procedure from the parent to save the child's life. Many people might consider that parent a moral monster for refusing to donate that kidney, but I've yet to see any sound justification for legally requiring the donation. The morality of the situation and the legal responsibility are separate issues.
This analogy is meant to illustrate why abortion should be legal. Even if you are a parent and even if you consented to risk procreation and even if your child will die without your bodily donation, you still can not be legally required to donate your body to the child.

Do you think this analogy holds? Do you find it compelling? Why or why not?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

You're either with us or against us.

I have friends across the entire range of the political spectrum. This often means I'm privy to a lot of conflicting perspectives. In the last day or two, I've seen a lot of the following kind of mentality:
A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and Church teaching cannot justify a vote for a candidate or referendum question that opposes the teachings of the Church. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, open to the birth of children, is a matter of established Catholic doctrine. Any Catholic who supports a redefinition of marriage—or so called “same-sex marriage”—is unfaithful to Catholic doctrine. - Bishop Malone
I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.”
It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you “disagree” with your candidate on these issues. - Doug Wright
It irritates me any time I see statements of the form "If you don't vote for my preferred candidate, then you [rotating answer] aren't a true Catholic/atheist/conservative/liberal/or are a bigot/racist/sinner/or are lazy/stupid/selfish or don't care about the poor/our future/our safety..." and on and on.

The truth is there are a lot of factors to consider when picking a candidate, and people weight these many factors differently. I do believe people of good conscience can diverge a lot on both their stances and the weight they give those stances. This means people can have good motivations and vote for a candidate I think sucks.

It's one thing to say "If so-and-so gets elected, I believe these bad things will happen with regard to this issue, an issue I consider very important." That's pretty different then saying "If you vote for so-and-so, then a) you know and agree with me that it will have these bad effects and b) you just don't care about these bad effects because you think/feel/believe these bad things."

Don't assign motivation just because people come to different conclusions than you.