Their is an old saying, even a fool can appear to be wise, if he keeps his mouth shut. Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting opened his mouth, and removed all doubt that he is as stupid as it is possible to be while still being alive.
I missed this until late yesterday, but the New York Times offered space on Thursday to Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting on the topic of abortion. Gutting, who also edits the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews for the Catholic university in Indiana, argued that Pope Francis really should get with modern times and show love to women by allowing for abortion. According to Professor Gutting, the lack of “an all-out effort to prevent spontaneous abortions” and the “purely biological” humanity of the fetus means that the Catholic Church shouldn’t really care whether babies get aborted or not.
Small wonder the Times made space for this:
At the same time, the “inviolable value of each human life” does not imply that no abortion can be moral. Here the case of rape is especially relevant. It is hard to claim that a rape victim has a moral duty to bring to term a pregnancy forced on her by rape, even if we assume that there is a fully human person present from the moment of conception. We might admire someone who has the heroic generosity to do this, but talk of murder is out of place. As the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson has noted, if someone kidnapped you and connected your kidneys to those of someone who would die unless the connection were maintained for the next nine months, you would hardly be obliged to go along with this. How can we require a woman pregnant by a rapist to do essentially the same thing?
Other exceptions to the condemnation of abortion arise once we realize that an early-stage embryo may be biologically human but still lack the main features — consciousness, self-awareness, an interest in the future — that underlie most moral considerations. An organism may be human by purely biological criteria, but still merely potentially human in the full moral sense. As we saw, Marquis’s argument shows that killing a potential human is in itself bad, but there’s no reason to think that we are obliged to preserve the life of a potential human at the price of enormous suffering by actual humans.
Another point, seldom discussed, is that not even pro-life advocates consistently act on their belief that any embryo has full moral standing. As the philosopher Peter Smith has noted, they do not, for example, support major research efforts to prevent the miscarriages or spontaneous abortions (many so early that they aren’t ordinarily detected) that occur in about 30 percent of pregnancies. If 30 percent of infants died for unknown reasons, we would all see this as a medical crisis and spend billions on research to prevent these deaths. The fact that pro-life advocates do not support an all-out effort to prevent spontaneous abortions indicates that they themselves recognize a morally relevant difference between embryos and human beings with full moral standing.
There is, then, a strong case for thinking that abortions always bring about some bad results — at a minimum the loss of potential human life — and that for most pregnancies abortion would be morally wrong. But this conclusion is limited in two ways: A woman’s right to control her reproductive life can, as in the case of rape, offset even a person’s right to life; and at least at the earlier stages of pregnancy, the embryo has only the moral standing of potential, not actual, human life, which may be overridden by harm to humans with full moral standing.
The logic so clearly missing in Gutting’s argument is this. It is immoral, unethical, and illegal to deprive anyone of their life without first, charging them with a capitol crime, providing them with the full due process of the law, then proving beyond all shadow of a doubt that they committed a capitol crime for which the sentence of death is applicable.
Both Gutting and Judith Jarvis Thomson attempt to deconstruct the very concept of morality when suggesting that “if someone kidnapped you and connected your kidneys to those of someone who would die unless the connection were maintained for the next nine months, you would hardly be obliged to go along with this”. This totally false analogy is predicated on the notion that a baby gestating in it’s mother’s womb is a parasite, nothing could be further from the truth. It likewise fails the most basic of logical constructs in assuming that a second party to a criminal action can be blamed for actions for which they had no part, but are in fact as much a victim as the original injured party.
Finally, and most egregiously, Gutting makes the fatally flawed assumption that he, as a Notre Dame philosophy professor, has any moral or ethical authority to set, or even make suggestions on the nature of Catholic doctrine. After making an assertion this reprehensible, the only thing Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting is deserving of, is a speedy termination of his employment at Notre Dame, an event, sadly that is extremely unlikely to take place since despite it’s name and former history as a Catholic University, Notre Dame, like Lucifer, has fallen from grace and is about as Catholic as Satan himself is.