Morality is a philosophical issue, and being that, I have a gripe with it that I have with most philosophical issues: grey areas caused by reality. Don’t get me wrong, I love philosophy and believe it is necessary for people to think deeply about all subjects, but when someone gets too far into philosophy (and philosophy alone) they tend to forget that at some point their hypothetical philosophical world will have to run into the cold, hard wall of reality.
Essentially, I see reality as a check on philosophical issues. The philosophical arguments for communism and socialism (and for that matter the different types of anarchy depending on your views) actually look very reasonable on paper. Communism and socialism failed because reality took a bat to their heads, and moral issues are no different in that regard.
I bring up moral issues because there was a case recently that shows issues that many people believe to be a black and white issue is, go figure, very grey.
Abortion has always been a hot topic and I assume will continue to be one for a long time to come. As with most moral issues you can imagine the views on abortion as a spectrum, but this post isn’t meant to deal with any of the nuanced and well thought out views from either side. This post is dealing with a very select group on the pro-life side of things: those who oppose abortion for any reason.
What brought this to mind was a headline I saw in the past few days that I found both horrifying and unsurprising. A 9 year-old Brazilian girl is pregnant with twins because she was raped by her stepfather and had an abortion because without one she would have died (her body simply wasn’t developed enough to deal with carrying and birthing twins). Situations don’t get much worse than that and abortion morality doesn’t get much greyer. Still, the Catholic Church derided the decision and actually excommunicated those who were involved (I’m with PZ Myers on this one) showing just how far they will go in their stance against all abortion. (not all that surprising considering their stance on other issues…)
If this case doesn’t show you just how grey these moral areas can get then I believe you to be a lost cause. In fact, there is only one black and white issue I can think of: rape. It’s always bad, end of story. But for everything else I can think off of the top of my head there exists a no-man’s land in the middle of the extremes where philosophy and reality clash; this causes grey areas of morality where no one is “correct,” but due to logic and the examination of real cases some arguments can be more correct than others. What terrifies me is how involved someone can be in a moral issue and still have not thought about it beyond a very superficial level. It would be comical if it weren’t so damn distressing.
I shouldn’t even have to state this, but based on what I see every day I feel as though I should spell out a simple bottom line for everyone reading this post: dig deep into the issues you feel strongly about and don’t be afraid to change your mind given new information. Change isn’t scary.