Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Bit of Philosophy Regarding "Live Action"

Peter Kreeft doesn't need introduction. Here he argues that "Live Action"'s actions were not only not lying--but that they were CLEARLY not lying.

(These are excerpts. You can read the entire argument here.)

The question of method in moral reasoning has a long and heavy history. Beginning with Ockham (Nominalism), exacerbated by Descartes (Rationalism), and even more by Kant (his ‘Copernican revolution in philosophy’), our concept of ‘reason’ has been increasingly separated from experience and narrowed to something more and more resembling what computers do. The Aristotelian and Thomistic (and, more generally, pre-modern) meaning of ‘reason’ is broader. It had to be, to justify the definition of man as ‘the rational animal.’ It included the immediate, intuitive understanding (‘the first act of the mind’ in Aristotelian-Scholastic logic) and intuitive judgment (‘the second act of the mind’) as well as inductive or deductive reasoning (‘the third act of the mind’).

It's useful to recall that "ordering" is important, so "first, second, and third" denote (to some extent) the right-ordering of 'reason' in the Ari/Thomist tradition. IOW, "immediate, intuitive, reasoning" is more weighty to Ari/Thom than is "inductive/deductive".

We moderns have narrowed ‘intuition’ as we have narrowed ‘reason,’ so that ‘intuition’ now means ‘irrational feeling.’ ‘Intuitive reason’ or ‘rational intuition’ sounds to us like an oxymoron. When we read Pascal’s famous saying that ‘the heart has its reasons, that the reason does not know,’ we think he is exalting something else against reason, when he is saying exactly the opposite: that the heart, the faculty of immediate intuition, has reasons. It sees. It has eyes. It is a crucial part of ‘reason.’

...Thus we no longer see ‘moral intuition’ or its application to our moral judgment of concrete situations like Live Action’s ‘sting’ as part of ‘reason,’ as Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas did. (Aquinas called this moral intuition ‘synderesis.’)

This is not simply a case of altered conventional usage, but of real error. Since we are not angels, all our knowledge begins with experience, and our moral knowledge begins with moral experience—experience of concrete cases. Before we reason about these (by ‘ratio,’ the ‘third act of the mind’), we understand them (by ‘intellectus,’ the ‘first act of the mind’) and judge them (the ‘second act of the mind’) by the ‘habit’ of moral judgment. In other words, we begin with the concrete, not with the abstract. Only after experience do we rise to the level of abstractions...

Immediately following that, Kreeft demolishes "Symbolic Logic"--which was inflicted on Phil 101 students at Marquette U a few decades ago, despite the evident distaste for the course by MU's Chair/Philosophy at the time.

Another wonderful digression:

When morally sane human beings hear the very clever and intelligent arguments of a philosopher like Peter Singer for ascribing more rights to whales than to babies and no more importance to your own family than to anyone else, they do not begin by looking for his logical mistakes. They say something like: “That idea is so stupid that you have to have a Ph.D. to believe it.” They have moral common sense.

And: any argument that begins by contradicting our moral common sense is almost certainly going to be wrong

Read the whole thing. It's worthwhile.

12 comments:

Jim said...

"Live Action's actions were not only not lying--but that they were CLEARLY not lying."

Sorry, but the linked article does not support the thesis. All it says is that since abortion is wrong, any action against it is clearly not wrong. Any "live" action which deliberately obscures the facts, misleads people, and falsely accuses is not a lie if the motive is good.

From the article: "The closest analogy I can think of to Live Action’s expose of Planned Parenthood is spying. If Live Action is wrong, then so is all spying, including spying out the Nazis’ atomic bomb projects and saving the world from a nuclear holocaust."

Although many would argue with the tactic, it's not the posing of pimp and prostitute that is the lying to which people object. It is the misrepresentation of the fruit of the "spying" which is not only lying, but CLEARLY lying.

The article fails in its goal.

Dad29 said...

That's your opinion.

In any case, Planned Parenthood will soon be deprived of taxpayer funding.

Let's see how well they do without it.

Jim said...

Let's see how taxpayers will have to pay MORE for health care for the poor once they have less access to health screening like mammograms, pap smears and AIDS testing. Let's see how the number of abortions INCREASES because the poor has less access to contraception, resulting in more unwanted pregnancies.

This de-funding should really should be a boon to Planned Parenthood, shouldn't it, if abortions are the major revenue generator for PP? Because now more women will need to have abortions because they had less access to birth control.

Badger Catholic said...

Agreed on this. To many Catholics are taking a fundamentalists approach to Truth. I think Chesterton would be nodding his head as well.

I totally disagree with "more women will need to have abortions because they had less access to birth control" All the numbers I've seen say just the opposite. The more contraception in a region, the more abortions.

Anonymous said...

Makes me want to abort Capper.

Jim said...

"All the numbers I've seen say just the opposite."

Can you link to some?

Billiam said...

"more women will need to have abortions because they had less access to birth control"

The best birth control is acknowledging that one is more than an animal who must rut because it feels good. We are more, contrary to what many may be raised believing. Thus, we have the ability of self denial. This used to be considered a virtue. Oops! Did I say a dirty word? Thanks Dad! I have enjoyed Kreeft's writing for some time. He is one smart man.

Jim said...

Bill, wake up and live in the third millennium. People have sex even if you don't. Deal with it.

J. Strupp said...

Oh Exactly.

Badger Catholic said...

The obvious one would be the US.

Griswold v. Connecticut 1965
Roe v Wade 1973
1,000,000 abortions 1976

Since Planned Parenthood had even illegally been distributing contraceptives since it's foundation, why didn't they successfully prevent those 1,000,000 pregnancies of 1976? Because people just are too stupid to figure them out? More education starting in kindergarten? They obviously have enough money to promote them. Sorry, I don't buy it. Promoting sexual promiscuity(Eisenstadt v. Baird 1972) is the primary driver of the abortion industry. How could a person explain that in 2011 the US public has more access to contraception than ever before yet abortion numbers are increasing. I can't logically follow the PP argument here. If contraception is so great, why isn't it working?

John Foust said...

Follow the logic? If we have police, why are there still criminals? If we have food, why are there still the hungry?

Jim said...

"yet abortion numbers are increasing."

Really? Your numbers come from where?