basis for morality? What morality?

Fri Aug 11 21:33:20 MDT 1995

Post-pre-script? Now that I have written this post, I'm thinking that
it is all too contradictory, to be asked to give a moral basis for
claiming that something is not a moral issue.  Because the one asking
is the one that is claiming that there is or must be a moral basis
for a claim to a right to abort, but can you have a moral basis for
claiming there is no moral issue?  Must one have a "moral basis for
your capacity to decide" on anything, everything, or just abortion?
The issue would never come up if the anti-choice position and the
pro-choice-agonizers didn't make it so.  Good grief, Davies.  Maybe
the short answer is just that I am a person, my body parts are not,
so anything a person should get, I should get, not my body parts.
So, moralize that, if you must.  I'm glad you agree with my political
goal of safe, legal, unharassed abortion, but now tell me just what
all a person ought to be allowed to decide, and what _you_ think the
"moral basis" is for that.

In reply to >>> <daviesj at>  8/11/95, 09:53am >>>

I haven't got a coherent theory of morality to present, and no I
don't necessarily find all morality to be religious, although surely
the pro-natalist "morality" I've seen is all religious.

I grew up in a religion with the very word "morals" often used to
refer specifically to sex, as in "he's got loose morals" i.e. he has
sex outside of marriage.  There were many other rules, of course, but
to me, it was all about other people trying to control my behavior,
and I didn't like it one bit, then or now.

And it is still going on all over the country: the "Religious Rights
Restoration bill," Christian Coalition and Republicans in bed
together, and Democrats like Clinton "compromising" and appeasing,
"nation under god" this, religious "family values" that, prayer in
schools will fix the gangs, National Bible Day, gag a maggot.

So, that is some of the baggage attached to the term "morality".  (I
can probably better stomach words like "justice", problematic as that
may be.)

Yet, I care deeply about what happens to me, to others [already
human/person life], the planet Earth and everything.  I just don't
have handy a way to put that in terms of "morality".  Especially not
without entering that "nebulous world of 'rights'" [in your words],
or even worse for some, invoking respect for "individuals".

I do not and did not claim "that there can be no moral argument on a
marxian basis."  I don't know Marx well enough to make such a claim.
I just asked if there is one, that someone on the list would like to
claim, esp. as a basis for claiming that abortion is a "moral issue".

My formal study of non-religious and marxian/socialist "morality"
will have to go on my reading list; the next opening is about June of
1997.  Until then, I must make do with the list discussion.

I'm not sure what you mean by "a moral basis for your capacity to
decide".  Where is the "slippery slope"?  What is the moral basis for
anyone else to intervene in my decision?  What is any basis for
anyone else to be judging if my reason for my abortion is a "moral"
reason?  I hope you don't recommend distinguishing between "moral"
abortions and "immoral" ones based on the reason for the decision!

If one can find a supportable [moral?] claim to a "moral" basis for
the legal capacity to determine one's own body, and a "moral" basis
for claiming that an embryo is not a "person" then the rest of the
so-called "moral" questions about abortion disappear, as far as I can
tell.  Because then, "it ain't nobody's business if I do" (as Billy
Holiday sang).

Are these "moral" judgements, or positions or claims?
"I have more to gain or lose _of my own self_ than you do, so it
should be my decision."
"My rights to self-determination out-weigh my embryo's."
"My body, my choice."

Something like that I could live with as "morality", I guess.  But
I'm no philosopher of morality.  So why don't you help me out with
it, Davies, now that I have revealed all of my "moral" bankruptcy.


>  I share these views of yours, and I think that recognition of your
 capacity (I won't enter the more nebulous world of "rights") to
determine the basis for deciding how to live your life is one of the
moral stones with which arguments about class emancipation can be
built.  But both you and Carol Cox have wanted to distance yourselves
from looking for a moral basis for your capacity to decide, and I
fear that's a slippery slope.   Surely you don't think it's a purley
pragmatic or practical issue?  Was  the abolition of slavery only an
expedient?  And is *any* reason really moral?

Matt Davies

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