Sunday, September 27, 2015
Bill Nye's Abortion Argument is Ethically Hollow
Just watched the recent short clip of Bill Nye the "Science Guy” lecturing people on why they should support abortion rights. Nye shows, yet again, the amazingly shoddy ethical understanding these “science guys” often have. It's almost embarrassing to listen to him. (I’m not going to link the video. Go find it on Google yourself if you like.)
Nye argues that we shouldn’t insist an individual’s humanity begins at conception because, consider, many fertilized eggs don’t attach to the wall of the womb and thus don’t survive anyway. Nye apparently thinks this fact of human reproduction carries ethical weight. His point seems to be: “See, if these fertilized eggs die, why not just give ourselves the right to kill those other fertilized eggs that do in fact attach to the womb and begin to develop?”
The "Science Guy's" easygoing demeanor in this clip shouldn’t obscure the obvious: His ethical logic here is appalling.
That many fertilized eggs don’t attach to the womb is merely an accident of nature. It does not carry ethical weight of any kind and cannot direct us at all in assessing the ethical status of abortion.
One can see Nye’s logic in all its glory if one merely applies it to a test case.
Suppose there is a mountain village in Guatemala that suffers a landslide which kills 85 of its 102 inhabitants. Earth tremors triggered the landslide, burying most of the village in the predawn hours. The traumatized survivors wait for rescue.
That landslide, like Nye’s point about fertilized eggs that don’t attach to the womb, is an accident of nature. That 85 of the villagers didn’t survive tells us nothing about the value of the survivors or how we must treat them.
How would Nye’s “humane” thinking apply in this landslide case?
In fact, according to Nye’s brilliant ethical sense, we might give ourselves the right to go in and kill those survivors rather than rescue them. After all, they 1) could easily have been among the victims and 2) it will be difficult to rescue and care for them.
At the end of the day, Nye might argue, we should “leave it up to the rescuers” to decide, because, after all, it’s their country.
If you think this kind of ethical logic deserves respect, well, you’re living in the right century. Welcome to the “scientific” understanding of ethics.
Nye’s ethics is not ethics at all, but merely a smartish guy talking out of his bow tie, if not out of some lower area of his person. This is the problem with so many science types when they attempt to speak on ethical issues. They don’t recognize that ethics is a branch of philosophy that requires serious questioning of premises and logical implications. They think they can just make it up as they go along, which is to say: They are no more qualified to speak on such issues than any old drunk on the street.
Bill Nye: Proving again that “science guys” have precisely nothing to tell you about what is right or wrong.