I have been distracted for months but I thought I would look in on UD to see if anything had changed. All is much the same but I was struck by this OP from Barry. The thrust of the post is that Barry is a plain-speaking chap stating obvious ethical truths and anyone denying it is using sophistry and is evil. The particular “obvious truth” that Barry is discussing is:
Anyone who cannot unambiguously condemn the practice of chopping little boys and girls up and selling the pieces like so much meat shares in the evil of those who do so.
I would argue that this gives the appearance of simplicity but hides considerable complexity and subtlety. It also illustrates how Barry, like everyone else, is actually a subjectivist in practice, whatever he might say in theory.
There is one obvious way in which this is statement is too simple. It leaves out whether the little boys and girls are alive or dead. Most people find it morally acceptable to reuse organs from people (including babies and infants) who have recently died.
But also the statement is packed with emotional use of language. (Throughout this I assume Barry is referring to the practice of using parts of aborted foetuses for research and/or treatment and charging for providing those parts).
1) “Meat” suggests flesh that is to be eaten. I don’t think anyone is selling foetuses to go into meat pies.
2) “Chopping up”. Body parts from foetuses presumably have to be extracted very carefully under controlled conditions to be useful. To describe this as chopping up is technically accurate but again has connotations of a butcher.
3) “Little boys and girls”. By describing a foetus as a little boy or girl, Barry appeals to our emotional response to little boys and girls that we meet, embrace and talk to.
4) “selling” suggests a product which is being produced, stocked and sold with the objective of creating a profit. It would indeed be shocking if organisations were deliberately getting mothers to abort so they could make a profit from selling the body parts. If you describe the same activity as covering the cost of extracting and preserving body parts of reuse it sounds quite different (the cost has to be recovered somehow or it would never happen).
What interests me is how Barry has chosen words for their emotional impact to make an ethical argument. If it had been described as:
Reusing parts of aborted foetuses for research and/or treatment and charging for providing those parts.
then it sounds a lot more morally acceptable than
chopping little boys and girls up and selling the pieces like so much meat
If morality were objective then it shouldn’t matter how you describe it. It is just a matter of observation and/or deduction – like working out the temperature on the surface of Mars. But ethics is actually a matter of our emotional responses so Barry has to use emotional language to make his point.