The View From 1776
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The Slippery Slope
In a society embracing the philosophy of pragmatism, in which there are no independent standards of right and wrong, there is no limit on depravity or tyranny. The road to serfdom and inhumanity becomes gradually steeper and slipperier with each step along it.
One of Britain?s royal medical colleges is calling on the health profession to consider permitting the euthanasia of seriously disabled newborn babies.
The proposal by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology is a reaction to the number of such children surviving because of medical advances. [...] The college?s submission was also welcomed by John Harris, a member of the government?s Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University. ?We can terminate for serious foetal abnormality up to term but cannot kill a newborn. What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it okay to kill the foetus at one end of the birth canal but not at the other?? he said.
Start with abortion, move thence to euthanasia. Champion farming of babies to be killed for extraction of fetal cells. And why not revert to eugenics, the founding cause of Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood? (see Reviving Eugenics?)
John Dewey, the most influential American liberal-socialist-progressive intellectual of the early 20th century, grounded his philosophy on the Darwinian evolutionary hypothesis.
This meant to Dewey that there can be no eternal standards of good and evil, standards of the sort found in the Bible or the classical Greek philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. All of it, from the viewpoint of Dewey’s pragmatism, was outmoded superstition and ignorance.
For many years he taught students at Columbia University that Darwin had proved that everything is in continual flux: species (presumably including humans) theoretically evolve continually, and, in the same way, social standards of behavior evolve.
Present-day liberals will add that the Constitution need not be amended, as it “evolves” with changes in mercurial public opinion.
Accepting the pronouncements of European materialist philosophers, Dewey and his followers declared God to be dead. They worshipped the French Revolution’s Goddess of Reason, following the ancient dictum of Protagoras that “man is the measure of all things,” meaning that in the atheistic world of liberal-progressivism, the human mind is the only limitation on conduct.?
In practical effect, this means that individuals can make it up as they go along. Applying pragmatism’s definitions, actions are neither good nor bad, because scientism rejects value judgments. Instead, there is the criterion of validity: if an action gets you what you want, and if you can get away with it, then it is valid.
Unfortunately, such “standards” legitimate anything, including the actions of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, as long as they have the power to enforce their actions.
The idea of evolving moral standards obviously has some validity, otherwise we would still have slavery and would hang people for stealing small amounts of property, or burn them at the stake for expressing heretical views.
Evolving moral standards, however, go in two directions: the Judeo-Christian push to make life more humane, and the liberal intellectual campaign to legitimize indecency and moral depravity.
The Judeo-Christian faith is that God is the arbiter of human conduct, the belief that what is in a person’s heart is as important as what he says or does. Christianity led the Roman Catholic Church after the fall of the Western Roman Empire to transform slavery into the feudal system of hereditary rights of serfs to occupy and farm their lands. It led the Methodist Church in England to crusade for the abolition of slavery and improved working conditions. It led American Protestants to form the abolition societies that eventuated in the Emancipation Proclamation.
In today’s society of media-shaped public opinion and an educational system that teaches students nothing about the truth of history, liberal-socialist-progressives increasingly have the power to impose their standards. Sexual promiscuity, addictive drugs, premarital sex, marital infidelity are legitimized, even celebrated in TV shows like Sex in the City, because “everybody’s doing it.”
By the criteria of pragmatism, it becomes valid to sacrifice human life to the sensual gratification of sexual promiscuity, to cannibalize infant lives to prolong the lives of others, and to eliminate imperfect human specimens via euthanasia or eugenics.
Welcome to the Brave New World of the liberal intellectuals.