Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Stupid and Evil

In a second very good post, Examined Life looks at the testimony of a doctor opposed to the partial birth abortion ban who says:
"I mean, I know what my purpose empty the uterus in the safest way possible. Yet, this language [in the statute] implies that I have this other purpose, which is to kill the fetus. So, to me, it's like--kind of like there is an elephant in the room besides me and my patient...there is somebody judging what my purpose is in bringing the fetus out a certain way."
Well, yes, my dear, there's definately something in the room besides you and your patient. But guess what, it's not an elephant. Indeed, many of us maintain it's a person.

This brings Carson back to the question that Plato deals with in Gorgias: why do people do evil? Plato held that people only ever seek to do good, however, they often do evil through having a mistaken idea of what 'the good' is. (We often adopt a similar model of thought in describing what sin is: Setting up one's own 'good' in place of God's.) Thus, one might say that in Plato's thinking, no one is truly evil, but lots of people are truly stupid. (Which perhaps explains how stupid this particular doctor sounds.)

However, Carson asks, need it really be so either/or? Could it not, from a certain point of view view, be more a matter of both/and?

Personally I don't see why we have to be so exclusivist about all of this. Why can't some people be both stupid and evil? It's not like the two properties are mutually exclusive, after all. And in the case of this particular physician it seems to me that we actually have firm empirical evidence that the intersect class is not empty. Indeed, there seems to be a class of persons who are both stupid and evil because of the fact that they are arrogant and hubristic. They are evil principally because they are, in Plato's more charitable terms, mistaken about what is right, and they are mistaken about what is right because they are too arrogant and hubristic to consider the possibility that they may be mistaken.

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