Let’s admit it.
Critical self-reflection is a lost art. And I don’t mean finding faults in your physical appearance while trying to take a selfie. I mean intellectual critical self-reflection. We have no idea how to do this.
Yet, it is probably one of the most important things we can do, as seekers of the truth. We have to be able to look at a situation, idea, or event and say, “wow, yea I really have no idea what’s happening here. Maybe I should wait a frickin second before diving into this with my unjustified opinion!“.
Unfortunately, most people don’t do that. Uninformed people make uninformed decisions and this inspires other uninformed people make additional uninformed opinions that none of them understand. And they all get together and pat each other on the back cuz of how incredibly informed they believe they are.
The problem is worse than just a bunch of ignorant people, however. The effect of this inability to engage in critical self-reflection is compounded when paired with our ever-problematic pride.
I’ve experienced this first hand. As soon as you publicly attach your name to a particular ideology, it is very difficult to reverse that decision. Even when that position is obviously wrong! Because not only would you have to admit that you were wrong about something, but you’d have to re-evaluate how you come to your conclusions. And if that isn’t a punch in the pride, I don’t know what is.
This re-evaluation would FORCE you into being the kind of person who doesn’t immediately have a loud opinion he can shout as soon as something important happens!
And that kind of person is so boring! Waiting to understand a situation is totally lame. How else are we supposed to feign being informed for 27 facebook likes and 17 retweets? We want knee-jerk emotional reactions to all things, right away! And we want to form groups of people who have the exact same knee-jerk, emotional reactions to everything, so that we can be isolated from alternative opinions!
Here’s my solution. Be actively thinking about your own self-reflection. You ought to know yourself better than anyone else, other than possibly your significant other. Or your mom.
I have found that when I am ignorant on a topic and someone presents an opinion that I think is wrong, I immediately feel an anger well up inside of me. I have this unrelenting urge to tear them to pieces, but I have no idea how to do that. And my inability to slap them around makes me even MORE ANGRY!
I was presented with a situation like this a few weeks ago. I forget the topic, but I found myself immediately angry. I stopped myself and thought, “wow, ok. So this anger means that I am ignorant about this topic. Instead of publicly declaring my knee-jerk, emotional opinion on this (that I will likely have to revoke later, with my tail between my legs), I should do a bit of research.”
And I’m glad I did.
Turns out, I was wrong. And had I publicly declared my opinion on it, I would have had to defend the false view in order to maintain my pride.
So, if you’re like me and you find yourself angry at a particular topic, follow these steps:
- Ask, “why am I angry?”
- Is it because I am ignorant about this topic?
- Should I delete what I just wrote, or take back what I just said?
- How can I become more informed on this topic?
- What does the other person believe about it, and why?
If we all could just chill out for 1/2 a second before launching into an ideological battle about something we haven’t studied at all… the world would be a better place.
Start with yourself.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
MTV News recently posted a video where a bunch of uninformed, poorly-dressed young people are on a rant about white men, suggesting a variety of ways that this despicable class of people might improve their lives in 2017. You can watch the video here.
Edit: Alright so it looks like they took it down again.
Here’s my upload of the video.
You may think, “LOL is MTV really that oblivious to the world that they would think this is a worthwhile video to make a publish?” Well, MTV News ended up getting basically nothing but negative comments on the video all across social media, so the admins took the video down off of facebook and youtube. I managed to snag the video off of twitter before they deleted it, but they never ended up deleting it. They did repost the video, but with the update: “This video was reposted on Tuesday, December 20 with updated graphic elements” (which was believed by absolutely nobody).
Just speculating here, but my guess is that the video was taken down due to the negative feedback, but the PR team stopped it from being removed everywhere and needed a new reason to post it back up, so that the internet wouldn’t blow up because of their actions. Did they really expect anyone to believe that they reposted it because of the desire for some updated graphics?
I know you haven’t been relevant since the late 80s, but welcome to the internet MTV. You can’t post something hilariously racist, take it down, and expect people not to notice.
There have been a handful of funny responses, so I’m not going to respond to the individual points here. That’s for other people to do. What I want to do is focus on something different.
That is the problem of creating your own intellectual bubble, as MTVnews obviously has.
Its something that I’m calling reverse narrowcasting. It’s like creating an ideological echo chamber.
Narrowcasting is a term used in marketing circles that refers to where you send a particular message. If you’re selling product X, and males between the age of 30 and 45 are the likely buyer (maybe it’s a grill or something), you don’t want to waste advertising dollars sending ads for X out to 15 year old girls creating homoerotic fantasies about Obama and Biden on Tumblr.
You want to send it to a particular audience. That is narrowcasting, or target marketing.
Facebook essentially allows you to place yourself in your own category based on what you like and share; a category that makes it very easy to identify you in a particular category so that advertisers (and facebook itself) can send you targeted ads and content. You can mess around in your settings to see where you’ve been placed, if you want. Its in your settings somewhere.
But here’s my point.
As people attempting to be as objective as possible, it is our duty to avoid placing ourselves in an ideological bubble. Yes, it can be tempting to find a group of people who agree with you on everything and where a taxation is theft comment will get 53 likes, but please… avoid reverse narrowcasting. Engage with people with opposite views. Do your best to understand where they’re coming from.
Not everyone who disagrees with you is a backwards hillbilly racist bigot teapartier or an ignorant snowflake self-obsessed communist. Some are. Ooohh yes, some are. But #NotAll.
If you were genuinely surprised that Trump got so much of the popular vote, congratulations. I know how to cure you. It’ll be tough, but you have to get out of your ideological echo chamber and start engaging with real people who have real ideas. The same goes for all of you who thought no one would support a socialist like Bernie Sanders.
If you can’t answer the question “why does my opponent believe the way that he does?” without defaulting to “probably because he’s an uneducated fool”, you need to end the reverse narrowcasting immediately.
Bring back intellectual integrity.
Hello! Sorry for the late output of this episode, but hopefully the content of the episode makes up for it! 🙂
Click here to listen to it in a new window!
In this episode, I discuss fetal development at 38 weeks, the organization And Then There Were None, and pro-choice arguments from bodily autonomy. Join me next week for an analysis of Judith Jarvis Thompson’s infamous Violinist. I am trying something new out and making the primary topic of each episode into an actual share-able article. So hopefully you’ll be able to reference what I’ve said on Bodily Autonomy (for this episode) without having to listen to the entire episode.
You can find the links I’ve mentioned at the end of this post.
One of the most important arguments in the abortion debate is the argument(s) from bodily autonomy. However, I am not convinced that many pro-lifers actually understand bodily rights arguments. And while many pro-choicers use this argument, they may also not understand exactly what they’re saying when they say “my body, my choice”.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that this argument is popular due to it being presented to freshmen in intro to philosophy classes. The students are presented with the strongest arguments and analogies for abortion, yet (conspicuously), any reasonable response (like the one I’m hoping to give) is left out. The students who were moderately pro-choice going into the class come out with a renewed vigor. And the students who were moderately pro-life come out with their tail between their legs or as newly converted pro-choice students.
The initial response I’ve heard from pro-lifers is that the unborn child is not the woman’s body. And this is an ok starting objection, but ultimately the pro-choice advocate probably isn’t suggesting that the unborn child IS the woman’s body. The ‘my body, my choice’ argument is actually saying something more akin to “whatever is going on inside of my body should be my concern, and my concern alone. You have no right to say what I can and cannot do with my body”.
The common thread is that a woman is the sole arbiter of what goes on inside of her body.
The woman views her body as her sovereign zone. And she is sovereign over her own body, and the woman retains the right to expel the child from her body at any point during pregnancy.
If the child dies because viability has not yet been reached, so be it.
If the child is taken out and can survive on a ventilator, so be it.
If I were to put the bodily autonomy (sovereign zone) argument into a syllogism, it would go like this:
1. Abortion is a woman’s choice to do what she wants with her own body.
2. It is permissible to do what you want with your own body.
3. Therefore, abortion is permissible.
We can grant the first premise because it is essentially just describing what elective abortion is. The key here is to look at whether or not the 2nd premise is sound; can you really do whatever you want with your own body? Let’s explore that further.
Is it morally permissible to take medication and deliberately induce birth defects? Thalidomide was a drug that was used to help pregnant women with their morning sickness. However, it also causes major birth defects in the developing child (symptoms like missing limbs, improperly developed organs, etc). I know of no morally sound argument that would make the case that it is ok for a woman to take thalidomide knowing that it will cause birth defects in her unborn child.
In addition to thalidomide, accutane is a drug that is used to treat acne. Doctors will refuse to prescribe accutane to women who are pregnant, and will require proof of birth control usage for women who may become pregnant. This is because accutane, similar to thalidomide, can cause severe birth defects.
Another fairly obvious example of this situation is the use drugs and alcohol while pregnant.
These examples show that there are real world situations where a woman is not allowed, morally or legally, to do whatever she wants to her own body. The pro-choicer may object and say “but causing severe defects is much worse than causing the unborn to die”, and they may have a point. However, that’s not relevant here. By admitting that the woman cannot deliberately cause birth defects, they are admitting that the 2nd premise of the argument (it is permissible to do whatever you want with your own body) is false.
There are a few analogies that can help illustrate this point as well.
Let’s imagine that we have a “test-tube baby” who was conceived in a lab, placed in an incubator, and is now 23-weeks old. Can we kill this child?
Most would say “well, no. You can’t kill the child”.
But let’s take the child and transfer him to a woman. Can we kill the child now? It seems as though the answer must still be no, because of the kind of thing that is being killed. Just because the developing child changes location doesn’t mean that it is suddenly ok to kill the child. However, the bodily autonomy argument would suggest that we ought to be able to kill the child once the child is inside of the woman.
As David Lee says, “The birth canal has now become the new Mason Dixon line”
One final analogy to help illustrate this point is something I’m calling the Snowed In Mother Analogy. Let’s imagine a woman (let’s call her Keres*) who goes on a skiing vacation in Antarctica with a group of fellow hardcore skiing lovers. Perhaps there’s some super awesome radical slopes there. Keres doesn’t realize that she is pregnant until she arrives but she thinks, “that’s fine. No big deal. I’ll just get an abortion in a few weeks when I go home”. However, a major snowstorm hits and strands the skiers in the cabin for a year. Thankfully, they have enough supplies to survive the year (and Chad is really great at hunting elephant seals), but they do not have any medical access, so Keres cannot get an abortion.
Time goes by, and Keres eventually gives birth to a newborn child.
At this point, she refuses to breastfeed the child. After all, she only consented to sex. She didn’t consent to being pregnant. She didn’t consent to giving birth. And she certainly doesn’t consent to letting the child use her breasts for sustenance. It is her body, her choice.
A month after giving birth, the rescuers arrive. They find everyone is good condition (maybe a little sick of being in Antarctica) except for a newborn baby. The baby has died. After asking how the baby passed away, they discover it was because Keres used her bodily autonomy to disallow the child to use her breasts.
Has Keres done anything wrong? Of course she has, and I don’t know of a single person (outside of possibly the Peter Singer types) who would argue that she has done something morally neutral.
Ok! I hope that helped flesh out some of the moral issues surrounding the argument for abortion from bodily autonomy. Obviously there are a lot more details in the actual podcast itself, so please download and listen to that.
Resources mentioned during episode 8:
Thanks for listening!
Don’t forget to share with your buds 🙂
*Keres is the Greek goddess of death
Holy cow this episode is SO LONG. Click here to listen to it in a new window.
Thanks for joining me for the Fetal Position, episode 3! In this episode, we discuss one of the common pro-life discussion tactics, trotting out the toddler. Trotting out the toddler is when you replace the unborn child with a 2-year-old in the conversation with the goal to move towards the most important question in the discussion: What is the unborn?
Here are the important links that I discuss in this episode:
If you like the show, please remember to leave me a review and a rating, and share the show with someone who you think would enjoy it. Thanks!