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the choices we make

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 02, 2003

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In Scotland's Sunday Herald, Muriel Gray pooh-poohs the fears of eugenic selection prompted by the abortion of a late-term baby because of her cleft palate:

This case is about the rule and practice of law, and not about what lies ahead for humanity. As a species, we have always controlled levels and types of disability within society, from leaving the less-than-perfect to die in deserts and on icebergs, to finding cures and preventions, and ultimately to accepting the inevitable and struggling to care for those with special needs. For example, cases of spina bifida in Britain have fallen due to education about folic acid intake during pregnancy plus early screening with the option to abort.
So, the guiding criterion of morality is what we have always done "as a species"?

  • As a species, we have always controlled levels and types of desirability within society, from hiring trigger-men to whack the less-than-charming, to instructing children in table manners.
  • As a species, we have always controlled levels and types of homelessness within society, from putting vagabonds and itinerants to the sword, to building new housing to accommodate them.
  • As a species, we have always controlled levels and types of sexual libido within society, from gang-raping semi-retarded dairymaids, to pronouncing and keeping perpetual vows of chastity.
  • As a species, we have always controlled levels and types of nonconformity within society, from burning friendless crones as witches, to publishing alternative literary reviews.

Our species, of itself, has no intellect, no imagination, no will. It has no purposes and makes no choices. The individual human beings that comprise our species make infinitely various and mutually contradictory decisions. It is meaningless to pretend otherwise, and those who speak of an Aggregate Human Will do so, ironically, in order to make humanity a little less humane.

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