Rape is Wrong, Therefore Abortion is Wrong

The following is an argument for the following subjunctive conditional: if rape is wrong, abortion is also wrong. Now, abortion is not wrong if and only if rape is wrong, since the entailment would be too strong. (One can think of a multitude of reasons why abortion is morally wrong). All that I claim is that if rape is wrong on a particular ground i.e., that human beings are ends-in-themselves, then abortion, for a particular reason i.e., financial difficulty, is necessarily wrong. On Monday, January 25th 2016, during a Lifeline (Western’s pro-life club) meeting, I thought of this argument and so sent it to an executive member of the club afterwards that evening. ( “[x] is someone’s name, made hidden by me). Here is what I thought of:

Hey,

So during our meeting today I thought of a neat little philosophical argument worth exploring (whether or not it is a good one I am sure you will be able to detect). If you would like you can send it to i.e., [], if you think it worth exploring. It is a way in which one can move from the proposition:
1. Rape is wrong.
to
2. Therefore, abortion is wrong.
Here is the argument (constructed as a thought experiment):
Suppose that you encounter a person who argues that abortion is right if and only if rape is the reason for pregnancy.
You can concede the point (that rape is wrong) and argue as follows:
1. Rape is wrong.
2. Rape is wrong because 1) it violates a woman’s autonomy, 2) does not reflect the correct moral responsibility towards her and 3) uses her as a means to an end.
The last reason (3) might be an area that the pro-lifer and objector might agree on; namely, that human persons are ends-in-themselves. (Philosopher Kant and Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) argue this point). Now, if the objector concedes the proposition:
4. Human persons are ends-in-themselves
then it follows that
5. Rape is wrong
However, it also follows that
6. Any action whatsoever which uses a person as a means to some desired end is wrong
and given that aborting a fetus because he/she is inconvenient i.e., financially, mentally et cetera, is inconsistent with (4), it follows that the person who says ‘it is morally permissible to abort an unborn child if and only if the child was conceived from rape (rape, being wrong because it is using the woman as a means to an end)’ must also concede that aborting the unborn child is itself using a person as a means to an end (i.e., killing the child for selfish reasons i.e., an easier life). Therefore, if rape is wrong so is abortion. (This might only apply to a person who accepts 1) humans are ends-in-themselves, 2) rape is wrong, 3) murdering the unborn is morally acceptable if and only if it was from rape and 4) the unborn is a person–since it seems normal to assume that (3) and (4) are inconsistent, the argument above might serve as a way in which this inconsistency can lead a person from ‘rape is wrong, therefore abortion is wrong.’
Something I thought of.
Feel free to let me know what you think,
Rashad.
Post-Script
To my mind, this argument is sound and valid. However, I am aware that many will reject one or more of my premises and therefore will not see the argument as sound (validity I think is on the safe side). So, this argument, if used in pro-life apologetics, must be understood restrictively since, while it works, only works for people who will accept certain premises i.e., the ones outlined in the aforementioned paper.
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4 thoughts on “Rape is Wrong, Therefore Abortion is Wrong

  1. Louis, thank you for your comment.

    You write “the argument stating that conception is wrong, proves the entire argument ridiculous.”

    Here are two problems with this statement:

    (i) Saying “an argument stating ‘x’ shows how your argument ‘y’ is false” does not counter an argument (such as I have given). So, you need an argument—not an assertion—which would “show” that my argument is either invalid (my reasoning is flawed) or unsound (there exists a false premise). Citing an essay (blog post) you have written is not constitutive of a defeater. But, to give you the benefit of the doubt, I will respond to your essay momentarily.
    (ii) An argument, if it works, must be valid or unsound. Calling an argument “ridiculous” is only an assertion (one which philosophers do not use—it does not predicate any valuable property to a proposition).

    Before responding, though, I would like to ask you a question for clarity:

    Q: What, in your view, is constitutive of “good” and “bad”, “right” and “wrong”? It seems to me in calling something “wrong” you cannot use the term without defining it. For instance, if you mean by “wrong” “your opinion”, then you are saying nothing of reality—and so you are saying nothing of importance at all. If you are saying that “good” is constituted by the existence of God, conceived in the Abrahamic faiths i.e., Christianity, then you are certainly wrong as those teachings do not entail any prohibitions against the marital act in marriage. So it is unclear your usage of “wrong” which plays an important role in your argument.

    As a prima facie objection, your argument, in a nutshell, is “if conception is wrong, abortion is wrong.” I see that there are two ways of dealing with this objection. The first is to deny the antecedent of the subjunctive conditional “conception is wrong” (which I will do below) or to argue that there is no entailment here. Since I will do the former below, let me say a word on the latter method I have laid out (arguing for a lack of entailment).

    Here is one reason why I think there is no entailment. Your argument “if conception is wrong, abortion is wrong” rests on the idea that unborn persons are socially unproductive and non-conducive to the well-being of humanity. Here is the problem: this would imply that the worth of persons was constituted by their role or function (or something of this sort). This to me is inadequate. Here are two reasons why. First, theism precludes it (and I will give arguments for it afterwards). Secondly, this would mean that elderly people and disabled people do not have intrinsic moral worth (I am not sure, but you should realize that Hitler would agree with the former, no doubt the latter too). This, to me, is absurd. (Notice you make the same philosophical error that Socrates did when he said “the unexamined life is worth living.” [Bryan Metcalfe PhD pointed this out to me on my essay “Teleological Substance Dualism” (unpublished)]). Unless you are willing to bite the bullet and argue that the elderly and disabled do not have intrinsic moral worth, I see your criterion for intrinsic moral worth as inadequate. It is interesting too: intrinsic moral worth, understood in the Kantian and Wojtylaian sense, means a being who is an end-in-herself. If you think that social function is constitutive of intrinsic moral worth, this would imply that you are not talking about intrinsic moral worth, but extrinsic moral worth (which to me is simply illusory i.e., it commits the same mistake as the existentialist who says that the ‘self’ is constituted, ontologically, by what we do in the world). So, it seems to me that there is no entailment.

    Now, to turn to your essay. I will quote it piece by piece and offer criticism, and when I have gone through it all I will make a conclusion about your post (All accessed from https://mentallurgy.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/immorality-of-conception/ August 8th, 2016).
    “Having a child is, simply, immoral. The obvious exception being adoption, which is quite possibly, the most noble action any person could ever enact. Conception is immoral for three simple reasons. First, you forced a person into existence without their permission. No, you couldn’t have gotten their permission, but that does not invalidate the point.”

    First, what do you mean by “immoral”? Do you mean contrary to social stability or progress? If so, why think this true? If not, how are you using this term? It seems to me that asides a cultural relativistic theory of ethics—which is flawed on many accounts—you are stating that it is “wrong” without justification. For there are, too, prominent reasons to reject what you argue based on a theory of ethics which suggests that God is the foundation for objective moral values and duties (I will provide the reference below) [1].

    Secondly, you say that those engaging in sexual intercourse “force[] a person into existence without their permission.” My question: Why think that permission must be given? I suspect you are begging the question in favor of atheism inasmuch as on theism existence of finite creatures (like ourselves) is a tremendous blessing and gift. God was under no obligation to create us, and He did so freely out of love. On an atheistic framework, existence is agonizing i.e., Russian novelist Dostoevsky “If God does not exist, then everything is permissible” to which atheistic existentialist Sartre says “Indeed, if God does not exist, and man is consequently abandoned, for he cannot find anything to reply on—neither within nor without”. Even atheist Bertrand Russell “[man’s] origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms”. So, sure, on atheism existence is a bad thing, but on theism it is enriched with value, meaning and purpose—I am not sure how procreative activity is bad, on this model?

    Here is my argument against your claim summarized:

    1. If theism is true, existence is worth having.
    2. If atheism is true, existence is not worth having.
    3. Theism is true. (For justification of this premise, see the work of William Lane Craig [2], Alvin Plantinga [3], J.P Moreland [4], Richard Swinburne [5], Tyler Journeaux [6] and myself [7]).
    4. Therefore, existence is worth having. (From (1) and (3)).

    So, if you presuppose atheism, your argument may or may not work. On theism, though, your argument simply does not work. Here is what Tyler Journeaux, an MA student of philosophical theology at Oxford has to say about God’s love (he wrote this via. email correspondence):

    “In the doctrine of the Trinity one finds the idea of God whose love is shared between the persons of the Godhead; each person loves the others with a sort of outpouring of love, a self-giving love. The kind of love which is the precondition of, and makes sense of, Kenosis (κένωσις). Why would such a God want to create a world? Well, He has an internal source of motivation: to love (with all that entails). Why did he create a world of rational free agents who can choose to enter into relationships with him? So that he could love, could pour Himself out (Kenosis) in love, et cetera…His nature, exemplified by the outpouring and self-giving love of the three persons, gives God a plausible motive for creating other persons with whom He might enter into a love-relationship. He creates out of, and as an expression of, that love which characterizes his Nature as a community.”

    Since there are good grounds for accepting theism, I see no reason to accept your thesis (especially in light of the theist’s conception of existence as a great good, as Journeaux pointed out). My second point about this passage is when you say “adoption…[is] the most noble action any person could ever enact.” This is an assertion—not an argument. Why do you think this? While I agree that adoption is a wonderful option (especially for those contemplating having an abortion), on what ethical grounds can you make this assertion?

    “Second, have you seen the state of the world? Your children will add to the overall burden to humanity. You know all those problems we have? They’re of our own creation. Think more of us is a good plan? You’re essentially throwing more gas on a flame, expecting it to somehow diminish the blaze.”

    Your argument here is that children will add to the burden of humanity and that therefore the more children, the more problems. I have two responses. First, this is, indeed, incorrect. Children are a great blessing, not a burden. (As an anecdote, one of the happiest fathers I know has seven children, all of whom are tremendous blessings who will, I suspect, contribute very positively to our world; but, their worth is not constituted by their “social productivity” on theism, it is their intrinsic moral worth endowed on them by God). I am not sure why you think as you do (and I invite you to provide justification for this claim); however, I suspect that your argument (assertion) is inherently one-sided. If you mean by “burden”, “contrary to social progress”, I would argue that the purpose of life has no reference to social progress. If you mean “contrary to happiness”, I would argue that the purpose of life is not even happiness. If you mean “contrary to flourishing of finite creatures”, I would ask “why is flourishing finite creatures a good thing?” If it is good, why not create more human life so more persons can enjoy it, and fix the problems you mention in the mean time? This would falsify your argument that conception is wrong. Basically, it seems you are committing a logical fallacy called the “false dichotomy fallacy” (which says “a v b” with no reference to “c”). You are saying: Either there are more children and the world will be worse-off, or we do not have children and we will be better off. There is a third alternative: why not have more children and keep the traditional conception of conception as is, give them the blessing of existence, and meanwhile fix world-wide problems. This is more promising, in my view. Secondly, you cannot falsify the claim “conception is not immoral” by appealing to its sociological implications. Even atheistic philosopher Nietzsche recognized this in his Beyond Good and Evil (1886): “Something might be true while being harmful and dangerous in the highest degree.” So, I think you are simply mistaken.

    “Third, that child will influence every person they come in contact with, those people will perpetuate the cycle – ad infinitum. And your child may have more children, further perpetuating the cycle. You, aware of this or otherwise, choose to have a child nevertheless. That you would gamble with so many lives, merely for your own pleasure, is immoral.”

    I have two replies. First, this is self-defeating. You say “you would gamble with so many lives” when, indeed, you think you are doing something good i.e., by your blog, when your parents would have had to “gamble” in having you. “Possible badness” to “actual badness” seems self-defeating and incorrect, modally speaking. You speak of a “perpetuating cycle” and I am not sure its relevance. Maybe if Hinduism is true then this might work. But if Hinduism is true I see no objectivity of values—and your argument would then collapse. On theism, though, the “perpetuating cycle” (finitely, of birth) is a great thing. Especially in Christianity this is true; think of the value persons must have if the second person of the Trinity died on the cross for us—clearly we must have been worth something! Secondly, though, procreation is not “merely for your own pleasure”, since, as Karol Wojtyla argues, the marital act is a loving, unitive and procreative act. (See his seminal text Love and Responsibility). To my mind, this is correct. (And I will say no more in defense of Wojtyla’s view, since much of what I say before serves as a preliminary justification).

    “And, it proves you being unfit for parenthood at time of birth. Maybe you started to understand the gravity of your choice, and decided to make up for it by making the best possible person out of your kid. Maybe your kid will do nothing but positively influence everyone they meet, maybe their kids will do the same. Maybe every person ever born, was born to immoral people. Maybe that’s a major contributing factor to the overall state of humanity. I can’t recall his name.. some bald psychologist with a bow tie, did a study once. This study showed that people with lower IQ’s had more children than people with higher IQ’s.”

    I would agree that having a child solely out of pleasure is immoral and therefore those engaging in the marital act would be doing something immoral. But do not confuse cause and effect. The effect, the child, is not itself immoral—it is the process of that child coming about i.e., immoral sexual intercourse. I honestly fail to see how conception, from this argument, is wrong. Your last statement about “some bald psychologist” is (i) an appeal to authority (a logical fallacy), (ii) not cited at all and (iii) almost necessarily false. (How many people did the survey fill out? Who was surveyed? When was the survey taken place? What are the credentials of the psychologist in question? Why think IQ is an appropriate, truth-apt method of determining intelligence? Even if you are right, how does this make conceiving a child immoral?). These are questions which your paragraph does not do justice to—at all.
    “Truth hurts. If you’re a parent, it’s time to quit [f***]ing around and take responsibility for your actions – and theirs.”

    On an academic level, swearing does not help an argument. I am most suspect of persons who make grand claims and support them by swear words. While taking responsibility for actions is important and moral, I am not sure your ethical foundations can make this true, nor can your argument against conception stand as an attestation to it.

    My conclusion is that you have not provided any good reasons for thinking conception is wrong. My subjunctive conditional holds: if rape is wrong, abortion is also wrong. Your argument, that “since conception is wrong, abortion is wrong”, therefore, seems flawed on many accounts (such as I have shown).

    Two last comments: (1) I am sorry for the length of this response, but if you are putting in the work to write the post, I will do the same since I think truth, especially about these issues, is important. (2) I am more than happy to reference you the quotes made by Sartre, Wojtyla, Dostoevsky, Russell and Nietzsche (so do not be shy to ask for them). [8]

    [1] See, for instance, a video of the moral argument for God’s existence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxiAikEk2vU Accessed August 8th, 2016.
    [2] Here is a summary of arguments which he uses in his debates (typically): http://www.reasonablefaith.org/popular-articles-does-god-exist Accessed August 8th, 2016.
    [3] See Alvin Plantinga’s essay on natural theological arguments, too: “Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments,” Lecture presented at the 33rd Annual Philosophy Conference, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, October 23-25, 1986.
    [4] J.P Moreland has developed an argument for the existence of God from the existence of consciousness which can be found here: J.P Moreland, Consciousness and the Existence of God (New York: Routledge, 2008), Chapter 2.
    [5] See his The Existence of God, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Print.
    [6] See “Math, therefore God” by Tyler Journeaux. https://tylerjourneauxgraham.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/math-therefore-god/ Accessed August 8th , 2016.
    [7] I have defended the argument Moreland gives here: https://rashadrehmanca.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/theistic-explanations-of-the-ontology-of-consciousness/ Accessed August 8th, 2016. The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkAHC6Wiqdo.
    [8] The reader familiar with William Lane Craig will know that I have used his apologetical model implicitly. So, I should make explicit that my argument that (i) “happiness is not the meaning of life”, (ii) meaning, purpose and value failing to exist on an atheistic framework and (iii) natural theological arguments (especially the moral argument) are all original to him. References available upon request.

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  2. First of all, I appreciate the effort you’ve put forth – I genuine do. And in saying that, I acknowledge your apparent high intellect. Keep that in mind, when reading what I’m about to say. Also keep in mind that I’m revealing my perspective -not- to invalidate your opinion through demeaning you. I’m exposing my processes, so that they can be discussed as part of the conversation.

    I’ve known highly intelligent lunatics, who’s lunacy is expressed not in their harm of others, but in extremely elaborate self-deceptions. This, I see you as embodying. Not because you are wrong, but because you clearly have more than enough intelligence, to not be so extremely wrong. Again, I’m not trying to demean you. Below is another of my opinions related to that subject.

    https://mentallurgy.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/hurtful-humor-and-familial-aggression/

    I would suggest we stay on one topic at a time, however, as I feel your kind’s primary defense against being disproven is obfuscation. Another good reason for staying on topic, is that I will be addressing you over a long period of time. I’ve dealt with many of my theoretic model of you, and trying to reason with them has always had the same outcome.

    The more and more evidence I provide, the more and more they mentally detach from the situation. And I don’t mean “leaving”, I mean that when removed from the ambiguity which comforts them, and being simultaneously exposed to their faulty reasoning, they begin self-deceiving. This, to maintain the pattern of comforting self-deception, by any means, which is usually expressed in the obfuscation I rend.

    Therefore, all my history with people whom I perceive to be like yourself, has led me to believe that this conversation will have no positive outcome. Neither for me, in wasting time, or for you, in self-deceiving. However. Seeing your intelligence, and your drive, I imagine that, even if you do repeat their behaviors, I’ll nevertheless have something to gain.

    You may even disprove me. And I would welcome it, because I see comprehending the laws which define the universe as beneficial to myself and others. So, I will return. As proof of this, your copy of this on my site is approved. How and when I’ll address you, I cannot say. Guessing, now? I’d say I’ll address one point at a time, at random intervals.

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  3. Louis,

    Let me respond to your comments accordingly.

    “First of all, I appreciate the effort you’ve put forth – I genuine do. And in saying that, I acknowledge your apparent high intellect. Keep that in mind, when reading what I’m about to say. Also keep in mind that I’m revealing my perspective -not- to invalidate your opinion through demeaning you. I’m exposing my processes, so that they can be discussed as part of the conversation. I’ve known highly intelligent lunatics, who’s lunacy is expressed not in their harm of others, but in extremely elaborate self-deceptions. This, I see you as embodying. Not because you are wrong, but because you clearly have more than enough intelligence, to not be so extremely wrong. Again, I’m not trying to demean you. Below is another of my opinions related to that subject.”

    Notice that up to here your only argument is that, like others you have met, I am self-deceived. But notice that this, in being the only argument, is fallacious. It is an ad hominem (against the man) fallacy. Instead of attacking my argument, you have attacked my character (and so you have comitted a logical fallacy and thereby have not falsified my argument(s)). I would encourage you to engage with the substance of the arguments if we are to have an exchange on this topic.

    “https://mentallurgy.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/hurtful-humor-and-familial-aggression/

    I would suggest we stay on one topic at a time, however, as I feel your kind’s primary defense against being disproven is obfuscation. Another good reason for staying on topic, is that I will be addressing you over a long period of time. I’ve dealt with many of my theoretic model of you, and trying to reason with them has always had the same outcome.”

    Now notice how the ad hominem fallacy shifts to attacking, literally, my argument. Like your first comment, calling an argument a name i.e., obfuscation or ridiculous, does not do anything to falsify my argument. You have not engaged with any of the arguments thus far. I think that “the same outcome” can be changed if you engage with my arguments. Lastly, though, I am not attempting to change the topic (quite the contrary!) and so I would encourage you to share where exactly I am changing the subject (and I will do my best to provide justification for it or how it is relevant). (Also, once we have dealt with this topic, I will then move to your other link you sent me).

    “The more and more evidence I provide, the more and more they mentally detach from the situation. And I don’t mean “leaving”, I mean that when removed from the ambiguity which comforts them, and being simultaneously exposed to their faulty reasoning, they begin self-deceiving. This, to maintain the pattern of comforting self-deception, by any means, which is usually expressed in the obfuscation I rend.”

    If your argument is that I am not “mentally detached from the situation”, even if that is correct (which it is not), this again does nothing to invalidate my argument. It is, again, an ad hominem. Even worse, it can be interpreted as the genetic fallacy: you’re trying to invalidate my belief by showing how I came to hold the belief (“not [being] mentally detached from the situation”). Worst off, this might even be a post hoc (false cause) fallacy in that you assume that my conclusions are based on certain psychological features of myself, which, even if true, hasn’t been justified by you. Perhaps it is because I am a lunatic? (This does absolutely nothing, philosophically speaking, to invalidate my argument (since it is a false cause fallacy–or at any rate suspicious of being a false cause fallacy)). And so there’s three fallacies in one. My argument holds.

    “Therefore, all my history with people whom I perceive to be like yourself, has led me to believe that this conversation will have no positive outcome. Neither for me, in wasting time, or for you, in self-deceiving. However. Seeing your intelligence, and your drive, I imagine that, even if you do repeat their behaviors, I’ll nevertheless have something to gain.”

    This puzzles me. If you do not engage with my arguments, then I agree that this will have no good outcome (but remember that this is not because of “people whom [you] believe to be like [myself].”). You say, after having not responded to my arguments, that you are wasting your time. Indeed, if you think conceptualizing the moral questions raised by abortion (and conception) are insignificant or a waste of time, I am sorry but you do not understand the severity or importance the issue has. If the Pro-Life thesis is correct, and I am convinced that it is, unborn human persons are losing their lives everyday in Canada (and elsewhere) and therefore action ought to be made. To show you the severity, here is graphic imagery of the horrendous reality of abortion: http://www.abortionno.org/abortion-photos/.

    “You may even disprove me. And I would welcome it, because I see comprehending the laws which define the universe as beneficial to myself and others. So, I will return. As proof of this, your copy of this on my site is approved. How and when I’ll address you, I cannot say. Guessing, now? I’d say I’ll address one point at a time, at random intervals.”

    You say “[you] see comprehending the laws which define the universe as beneficial to [your]self and others”; this to me is problematic. If your justification of morality is through “laws of the universe” (which sounds more like New Age/Hindu thought), no wonder you think you are wasting your time discussing these issues. But, if, as I have argued, theism is true, then what you end up with is a God who bestows upon His creatures intrinsic moral worth and an infinite love for them, who grounds the objectivity of moral values and duties as our actions become necessary reflections of His loving and by nature. God was under no obligation to create anything, but did so freely out of love. Thus, out of this comes the problem we face in contemporary culture–abortion, a deliberate way of devaluing the meaning of sex, life and human nature.

    Concluding Remark: You are more than welcome to reply, Louis, but please engage with the arguments and I hope if you are serious about these issues you will display intellectual humility in these utmost important ethical issues.

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