Philosophy: June 2005 Archives

Before I saw Revenge of the Sith, I gave some preliminary thoughts on some claims people had been throwing about uncarefully. If you haven't read that post, I suggest you read it and the comments before reading this one, because I'll be assuming some points that I spent time establishing there.

I'm interested in two questions. I addressed both of them in the first post, but now I've seen the movie. What do I say (now that I've seen the film) about the claims that the movie is a glaring slam against Bush? What do I say (again, now that I've seen it) about Lucas' portrayal of Jedi and Sith and Obi-Wan's statement about absolutes? The short answer is that I say basically the same thing. There are a few minor points that I'd adjust based on having seen it for myself, but the major issues are the same. If anything, the context confirms for me what I suspected about Obi-Wan's statement. It has nothing to do with relativism. As for Bush, I see almost nothing in the film that fits well with what someone who just wanted to slam Bush would have done.

We finally made it to Revenge of the Sith late Saturday night. We tried a few times to find time to see it, only to have other events prevent it, with traveling, planned activities at ideal times, and less availability to babysitters during some times when we did have time. Finally we decided to go Friday night for her birthday because my parents would be in town to watch the kids, but Sam forgot that Friday was even her birthday, never mind the movie date, and scheduled something else. We wanted to go later that night, but it would have taken us until way past midnight, which we didn't want to do. So we decided to go Saturday night instead. Then we arrived at the theater, and it was sold out (three weeks after its release!), so we had to go at the late showing anyway so we could still take advantage of my parents' presence. I want to come back to the issues of Lucas on Bush and Lucas on relativism and absolutism, but I'm going to save that for another post. For now, I just want to record my thoughts on how this film stands in relation to the others in the series.

Jonathan Ichikawa defends the non-personhood of embryos at Fake Barn Country. I don't have time to look at his argument in detail right now, and I don't know if I want to think about reading the 63-comment discussion that follows, but I did notice that Jonathan agrees with me that his argument for the non-personhood of embryos is question-begging. I think all arguments for the non-personhood of any stage of human life are circular. The debate is over the meaning of the term 'person'. If you define 'person' in a way that guarantees the non-personhood of whatever you want to kill, that's question-begging. Yet that seems to be exactly what the original pro-choice arguments in the early 1970s did. The issue is over whether a fetus (or embryo) has moral rights, and their answer was to tie moral rights to personhood and then to tie personhood to features like self-awareness, the ability to look forward to one's future, etc. Yet that begs the question against those who don't think such conditions are necessary for something to have moral rights. That account of personhood has now become standard in philosophy, but I still haven't seen an argument for it that doesn't assume what it's trying to prove. Since he admits his argument is question-begging, I don't expect that it will be what I haven't yet seen.

That's not why I'm writing this post, however. I just consider his admission noteworthy. I'm writing this to respond to Jonathan's discussion (on his own blog) of whether Bush is inconsistent on these issues, along with his suggestion that most pro-life activists are similarly inconsistent. I don't think Bush is inconsistent on this, and I think he's just plain wrong on the empirical question of what most pro-life groups believe.

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