Category Archives: morality

On Wishing Your Mom Had Aborted You: The Wish Test

Can you think of a direct and intentional action done by someone to someone, aside from abortion, that is morally wrong to wish happened, but would not be wrong for someone to have done it to them?

Examples:

“I wish someone robbed you!” is an immoral thing to wish, and if someone were to rob that person, the robber would be acting immorally.

“I wish someone murdered you!” is an immoral thing to wish, and if someone were to murder that person, the murderer would be acting immorally.

“I wish someone raped you!” is an immoral thing to wish, and if someone were to rape that person, the raper would be acting immorally.

I think we have an intuitive sense that it would be morally wrong to express this wish to someone:

“I wish you had been aborted in your mother’s womb”.

Yet, some of us think that had someone aborted your life-stage as a fetus, that person would be acting in a morally permissible way.

Other examples? Aside from abortion? If not, then it may be that abortion isn’t really an exception to the rule, this wish test.

I think you could construct the following argument:

P1) If it is morally wrong to express a wish that someone directly and intentionally act upon a person, then the act, itself, is morally wrong.
P2) It is morally wrong to express a wish that a mother or abortion doctor should have been aborted a person.
P3) Abortion is a direction and intentional action.
C) Abortion, itself, is morally wrong.

 

Now, it is important to note that we are talking about wishing for a person to actively do something to you.  This would preclude the assessment of events or other counterfactual circumstances as being “morally wrong”.  In other words, it may be hurtful and even immoral to wish that certain events had occurred in someone’s life, or that some events of circumstances had occurred in one’s parent’s life, which would have resulted in a state of affairs wherein one does not exist.  So, for example, to express “I wish your parents had never met” or “I wish your parents fell in love with other people and were subsequently prevented from consummating at the appropriate time to bring you about” is not a wish that someone act upon the person directly.  They may be hurtful and even immoral wishes, but they are wishes about circumstances and events rather than actions one wishes to have happened directly to the person in question.  So to clarify, the “Wish Test”, as we might call it, is a test about moral actions done to members of the moral community.

An Intuitive Argument Against Subjective Morality

P1) If a belief is made true simply by mentally affirming that it is true, then it is not worth arguing about the belief.
P2) If subjective morality is true, then all moral beliefs are made true simply by mentally affirming that they are true.
P3) It is worth arguing about moral beliefs.
C) Subjective morality is false.

Defense of premises:

In defense of P1, it could be said that the truth-maker for the belief is immediately intuited by the individual subject. Since each individual will immediately intuit their own mental affirmations, there is no value in debating with someone else what one’s own mental affirmations really are. One need only introspect to discover the truth-maker for the belief, which is merely the affirmation of the belief.

In defense of P2, that is just what subjective moral relativism holds. If you define subjective relativism in some other way, that simply is not my target.

In defense of P3 I point to empirical evidence that moral debates and disputes are held to be among the most worth-while discussions humans have.

The conclusion follows from the premises, i.e. QED.

An Argument Against Subjective Morality

P1. If morality is relative to the subject, then morality is a domain that is a  matter of personal opinion.

P2. All domains that are matters of personal opinion, are domains where facts and evidence cannot determine correct belief.

P3.  All domains where facts and evidence cannot determine correct belief are domains that lack propositions for which it is worth dying before giving assent under coercion.

P4.  Morality is a domain with propositions for which it is worth dying before giving assent under coercion.

C. Morality is not relative to the subject.

P1 and P2 are not too objectionable.  That is just what we mean when we say that morality is subjective.  I think that if you are going to object to the argument, you will object to P3 or P4.