10 de abril de 2018

100 tweets from "Battles about Values in the Culture Wars" (by Margaret Somerville)

This is a selection of 100 tweets from the book Bird on an Ethics Wire. Battles about Values in the Culture Wars (Margaret Somerville, McGill-Queen's University Press, Québec, 2015, 358 pp.)
  1. Experiencing amazement, wonder, and awe enriches our lives and can help us to find meaning, which is of the essence of being human, in a way that traditional philosophy alone cannot.
  2. We need to prepare the metaphorical soil in which the values we want to flourish can take root and grow.
  3. [We should] use reason as a “secondary verification process” to ensure that our decisions about values are wise and ethical. (I use “secondary” here in a chronological sense, not as indicating that reason is of secondary importance.)
  4. Effective informing requires abandoning “mystery and mastery” – the use of concepts and language that average people cannot understand – which is an exercise of control and exclusion of those not among the “chosen few” initiated to “mystery”.
  5. My response has been to ask them to judge me on the basis of the arguments I present and the ethical values I advance, rather than on the basis of what they think I may believe.
  6. The debate about what our values should be is too important to be obscured by assumptions that limit debate before it begins.
  7. If you can’t make it clear to others, you are not clear to yourself.                   
  8. All can and should be involved in the debates about values in our societies.
  9. We are in a crisis of conflict between respect for individual autonomy and protection of the common good.
  10. Words affect our intuitions, including our moral intuitions, and our emotions, which both play a role in our decisions about ethics (5)
  11. Political correctness can function to eliminate certain values, views, discussions, and topics of conversation by suppressing certain freedoms (8)
  12. Academic freedom benefits not only academics but society (9)
  13. We should be grateful that we live in a democratic society where we can engage in battles about values with openness and largely without fear of reprisals (12)
  14. Safe engagement will require a sine qua non of mutual respect on all our parts, because respect is always a two-way street (12)
  15. We need to be able to cross our traditional divides if we are to find some shared ethics in relation to issues. And when those divides are places of serious conflict, we must try even harder to find what we share and where we can agree (17)
  16. There is no bright line between a religious and a non-religious conscience (…) Moral positions must be accorded equal access to the public square without regard to religious influence (25)
  17. A religiously informed conscience should not be accorded any privilege, but neither should it be placed under a disability (26)
  18. The most important task of religious voices in the public square is to place and keep social-ethical-values issues in a moral context (31)
  19. Religion should be seen as an important holder of our “collective moral memory” (32)
  20. We need to revalue religion, even if we are not people of faith, to see it as a store of traditional knowledge and wisdom (33)
  21. We need both religious and secular voices to be present and heard and to function in continuing and balanced interaction, if we are to make wise choices regarding our shared values (34)
  22. The rise of intense individualism could be connected with the decline in religious belief (34)
  23. The euthanasia debate is a momentous one, involving issues ranging from the nature and meaning of human life to the most fundamental principles on which societies are based (42)
  24. Death has been institutionalized, depersonalized, and dehumanized – and certainly despiritualized (35)
  25. Values conflicts cannot be solved by excluding religious voices from the public square. On the contrary, doing so is likely to exacerbate those conflicts (44)
  26. To exclude religious voices from the public square is anti-democratic, just as excluding secular voices would be. Both have a right to be heard (45)
  27. Francis Fukuyama: Social capital is the existence of a certain set of informal values or norms shared among members of a group that permit cooperation among them (50)
  28. If our thoughts are not free, our speech cannot be (51)
  29. Our role is not to indoctrinate but to open student’s mind to the widest range of thought and knowledge (53)
  30. Freedom of speech in a university is meant to ensure that the conflict necessary to pursuing the truth is not suppressed and can run its course (54)
  31. Feeling uncomfortable with conflict is itself a danger to freedom of speech in the academy (55)
  32. The real test cases of academic freedom usually involve opinions that are not held by the majority, and that may be outrageous or distasteful to them (58)
  33. Political correctness often operates through fear of being shamed, shunned, excluded, or punished in some way (59)
  34. Universities must be protected as sites of discussion and discovery if they are to fulfill their overall purpose and justify their continued existence (60)
  35. Various politically correct movements and the moral relativism that accompanies them have “gone too far,” with very harmful impact on freedom of speech, freedom of association, and academic freedom in our universities (60)
  36. Some universities are in the business more of promoting attitudes than liberating young minds, and more concern with fleeting “correctness” than lasting truth (61)
  37. The self-censorship is a tragedy and negates the concepts of academics as “truth tellers” to the best of their ability (62)
  38. Abortion today is more than a pro-life versus pro-choice conflict; it is also a pro-democracy versus anti-democracy one. It manifests a clash between pro-democracy values (pro-freedom of speech, pro-transparency, pro-accountability, and so on) and anti-democracy values (denial of these rights) (63)
  39. Transparency, especially in government, and with respect to the outcomes of the use of taxpayers’ money is essential to accountability, which is essential for ethics (64)
  40. The more conflict there is in society, the more important it is to honour academic freedom in order to create a safe space for the exploration of divisive ideas and knowledge (86)
  41. Creating a safe space for the exploration of divisive ideas requires nurturing the art of attentive listening and insightful questioning and rigorous thought process, in a milieu of mutual respect (86)
  42. “Critical discussion” is central to a university’s mission (86)
  43. Despite the extensive use of the concept of human dignity in these instruments [37 times in the main universal declarations], nowhere is it defined (88)
  44. We should all be able to agree that we have a human spirit, and having that agreement gives us a starting point in searching for some shared ethics (93)
  45. We are not products to be checked out of the supermarket of life, and the values of materialism and consumerism are not the ones that should govern our dying (96)
  46. The value of something with dignity… is incomparable in the sense that it has no equivalent for which it can be exchanged (98)
  47. Kant saw respect for human dignity as a separate requirement and more important than respect for individual autonomy when the two were in conflict (101)
  48. Dignity is like justice in that often it is easier to identify what constitutes a violation of it than to define what is it (103)
  49. The special respect for human body require that we preclude its sale. To do otherwise is to implement a twenty-first-century version of slavery in which instead of selling whole persons we sell their parts (105)
  50. Embryo is the earliest form of each of our lives (…) Embryos are ends, not means (110)
  51. Honouring the right to come into existence trough natural means and to know one’s biological identity and biological family is an essential part of respecting human dignity – it’s the right to identity (110)
  52. [In the euthanasia debates] the two groups are using different concepts of dignity (…) In speaking of dignity, we always need to proceed with great care (115)
  53. When suffering cannot be given any worth or meaning (…) it is very difficult to convince pro-euthanasia advocates that legalize euthanasia is a bad idea (118)
  54. We know that only 16 to 30 percent of Canadians who need palliative care have access to it, which is appalling. We also know that many patients who ask for euthanasia change their minds when given good palliative care (128)
  55. The difference between suicide and physician-assisted suicide is fundamental (…) Physician-assisted suicide is a social act (129)
  56. Acting with a primary intention to kill is a world apart from acting with the primary intention to relieve pain (138)
  57. We have serious ethical obligations to offer everyone who needs it fully adequate pain management (138)
  58. The value of “choice” or individual autonomy and self-determination is central to the pro-euthanasia argument (146)
  59. Choice is a neutral concept in the sense than some choices will enhance human dignity, others will harm it (…) It is what we choose that makes a choice ethical or unethical, not just the presence of choice itself (147)
  60. Suffering is a very difficult reality to deal with in postmodern secular democracies (149)
  61. Physicians’ and nurses’ absolute rejection of intentionally inflicting death is necessary to maintaining both people’s trust in their own physicians and society’s trust of the profession of medicine as a whole (163)
  62. We need to be careful that legitimate feelings of empathy and compassion for suffering individuals don’t trump facts about the risks and harms of legalized euthanasia (164)
  63. If euthanasia is legalized, it should be kept out of medicine (166)
  64. The common feature in euthanasia and abortion is that eliminating a life is seen as an appropriate response to eliminating the ugliness of suffering and the distress and fear it engenders (174)
  65. Perhaps suffering can put us in touch with deep truths and thereby with a form of beauty (167)
  66. Death has been professionalized, technologized, depersonalized, and dehumanized (176)
  67. To do good palliative medicine and care benefits not only the dying person but also their loved ones, in that it assuages the suffering of everyone (176)
  68. The strongest argument against euthanasia might relate not to death but to life: that normalizing euthanasia would destroy a sense of the unfathomable mystery of life and seriously damage our human spirit, especially our capacity to find meaning in life (176) 
  69. History teaches us that the use of science in the search for human perfection has been at the root of some of the greatest atrocities in terms of respect for human life, individual humans, and human rights (178)
  70. This huge fuss about sex-selection (…) most clearly demonstrates that abortion is not just a private matter (181)
  71. Technology can eliminate many human imperfections, but we risk losing that messy quality that is the essence of our humanness (186)
  72. If we perceive the coming-into-being of a unique new human being with amazement, wonder and awe, we are likely to see it also as involving a mystery that must be respected (192)
  73. I like Thomas Jefferson’s advice: “It’s not your failures that count; it’s what you do with them” (193)
  74. Finding meaning is of the essence of being human: we are meaning-seeking animals (194)
  75. Everyone should be involved in exercising the enormous privilege and obligation to hold in trust our values for future generations (196)
  76. People with disabilities can offer us lessons in hope, optimism, kindness, empathy, compassion, generosity and hospitality, a sense of humor (balance), trust and courage (198)
  77. The ethical tone of a society is not set by how it treats its strongest, most privileged, most powerful members, but by how it treats those who are weakest, most vulnerable and in need (198)
  78. We need to start our discussions from where we agree, not where we disagree (…) That give a different tone to our discussions and, very importantly, to our disagreements (201)
  79. Women do not have a free choice unless there are easily accessible, adequate support system for continuing a pregnancy (204)
  80. Abortion is not the simple quick-fix solution to an unplanned pregnancy (…) It is a life-affecting decision in more ways than one (206)
  81. We are all ex-embryos (207)
  82. Eliciting that feeling and informed choice require readily available facilities for crisis pregnancy counselling that are nor abortion clinics, which are in conflict of interest position as they profit financially from carrying out abortions (223)
  83. The vast majority of us, whether we are pro-life or pro-choice, agree that we want to have the fewest number of abortions possible (228)
  84. The more a charter of constitutional rights is seen by judges as intended to ensure that state actions are ethical, not just legal, the more likely it is that its provisions will be interpreted by courts in a way that incorporates ethics into their judgments in the interest of ensuring justice (241)
  85. Judges must find a legal basis for their decisions, but they can and do take into account the morality and ethics of deciding one way or another (245)
  86. In the past we did not need to contemplate a right to come into being from natural human origins (248)
  87. Using the language of human rights can help too ensure that ethics informs the law, as it should (250)
  88. Ethics requires favouring children, and the law should reflect that (250)
  89. While I believe that from an ethical perspective I must stand by my views on same-sex marriage I genuinely regret the hurt that inflicts (251)
  90. Today medical scientist can redesign life itself. With such powers come enormous responsibilities, not just towards present generations but also to the future (255)
  91. This science faces us with questions that go to the very essence of what it means to be human, that no humans before us have faced (260)
  92. Ethics is not only necessary but also beneficial to law (260)
  93. Questions are not neutral; they structure our answers. And questions communicate messages, particularly messages about values (261)
  94. Inadequate pain management, or fear of being left in pain, is a reason people ask or advocate for euthanasia (265)
  95. Having a sense of connection to the future when one is dying does not have to involve religion, although of course it can. Another way is to be aware of leaving a legacy (266)
  96. A major danger of transhumanists is that they want to do only good (to live longer and healthier) (277)
  97. Legally authorizing physicians to kill their patients is to cross a clear and bright line: “You must not kill” (281)
  98. I predict that history will see each society’s decision about euthanasia, whether for or against it, as a major turning-point values decision of the twenty-first century (284)
  99. People are not isolated beings but exist in a context that influences their decisions (286)
  100. Persuasion, not imposition, is the approach most likely to convince others (292)

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