This has got to be the most rhetorically manipulative blog posts I've read in a long time. It's shameful that a blog purportedly about philosophy, supposedly written by professionals, could produce such a poor post, but I guess it's becoming less surprising to me over time that philosophers cast aside careful thinking when it comes to abortion and related issues almost as much as other people do [hat tip: ProLifeBlogs]. I wrote this post something like a week ago, and I decided to wait a few days to see if putting time between reading the post and posting my response would enable me to soften my language. All it's done is allow me to rewrite it, clarifying what I want to say in a more careful way. I really think a post this bad deserves a response with as harsh as what follows. If a student handed me something like this, I wouldn't just give it an F. I'd give it a zero and then wish I could have given it negative points.
You only have to read the first sentence to see how bad this is. Something's wrong with their formatting, so I can't copy and paste, and I'm not going to type out the whole (really long) sentence, so you're just going to have to follow the link. Just the first sentence does all of the following:
1. It demonstrates the remarkable ability to manipulate the reader through dysphemisms such as 'extremist' (without acknowledging that the view in question is well within the mainstream of American opinion) and comparison to the Flat Earth Society. Anyone who thinks that comparison is apt is either ignorant of what pro-life people think or deliberately deceptive. The Flat Earth Society denies undisputed science. Pro-life views on abortion accept the same science as pro-choice views. They simply disagree on the moral status, which science simply can't tell you. It takes a philosophical view added on to get you that.
2. The tired 'anti-choice' label comes out, and that's just as bad, for exactly the same reasons, as the 'anti-life' label pro-lifers use. Each view focuses in on one element worth considering in abortion cases. Life is one factor, and choice sometimes competes with it. Lots of moral issues involve two considerations competing with each other, and you have to favor one over the other. Pro-lifers favor the consideration of life, while pro-choicers favor the consideration of choice. It's not just wrong but stupid to claim that pro-lifers oppose choice or that pro-choicers oppose life. That's not what they're doing. They're favoring life over choice or favoring choice over life, not opposing the one that conflicts with the one they're favoring. Each view is consistent with seeing both as good things (and thus not being anti-either).
3. Then there's the lovely expression "SCNT-derived embryo-like things", which is shorthand for an embryo that you create without the intent of developing it. It's embryo-like because it's intrinsically just like an embryo. The only difference is what you intend for it. (SCNT is the procedure that 1950s scifi fans would have had trouble calling cloning but is now standardly called cloning. The result of this procedure is a fertilized egg with its nucleus replaced by a nucleus with different DNA, taken from an already-existing organism. That egg would have to be developed to an embryonic stage to get stem cells. That's why it's embryo-like. It's like an embryo in every important way.)
Let me give some tips to whoever allowed this post to get through at a blog specializing in philosophy. If you want the other side to win the argument, call your opponents fruitcakes. Tell them that the only reason they believe what they believe is because they fear something they don't understand. Pretend that they think of all intellectuals as eggheads. Treat them as if they burn books regularly. It's a good way to convince the other side not to listen to you. I'm certainly not listening. I considered this blog to be a good philosophy blog. I even had a link to it in the academic blogs section of my blogroll. This post has convinced me, but not of what it was supposed to convince me. It's shown me that the editors of the American Journal of Bioethics are ignorant of the primary issues of a key debate in this country. It's shown me that they're ignorant of their opponents' views.
It's also shown me that they're arrogant in placing themselves as superior due to their thought that they are better informed and clearer-thinking. In reality they're neither, not judging by this post anyway. They don't understand the pro-life position at all. It's not just that they don't share the moral assumptions of the pro-life mindset. They don't even know how to express in words what the view says and why it says it in a way that's accurate and informative.
Ultimately, what this post has shown me is that I shouldn't have a link to their blog in my blogroll. The manipulative, deceptive, and frankly elitist rhetoric in this post is obnoxious and immoral, and I can't have a permanent link sending traffic to a blog that engages in such tactics, even if
most many of the posts involve good reason and provide a nice representation of alternative views to those of many of the other sites I link to. [I wrote that sentence without looking at some of their other recent posts. I've since discovered that the unfairness to opponents isn't unique to that post, though the depth of denigrating language and condescending humor isn't a common feature of what I've seen at their blog or any other philosophy blog, aside from that of a certain Philosophical Gourmand of course. It's scandalously par for the course there.]