Still trying not to vote stupidly

The second issue I use to determine who to vote for is abortion. I feel that an unborn baby is a human life and as such should be protected. My reasoning comes from my conviction that human life is the most valuable thing in the world and if there is a question about it one should always err on the side of protecting life. I don't think an unborn baby is the same as a human, but it is definetly close enough to protect. I can see the arguement that a unborn baby in the first two months is not developed enough to warrant protection but am not persuaded. I think the likelihood that I am right about this position is 75%. If I am wrong hundreds of thousands of women will bear unwanted children, though most will probably grow to want them. Also millions of women will have to more careful in their birth control, and hundreds of women will die in botched illegal abortions. If I am right millions of babies' lives will be saved, and although the crime rate may go up, I think it would be worth it.
The next issue I use to decide on a candidate is economic growth. I want a candidate to whom growth is the number one priority economically. I believe that governments that have low taxes, a small number of clear and simple business regulations, and a strong belief in fair trade encourage growth. I think that economic growth improves life for everyone, especially the poor. It will lead to healthier lives, a cleaner environment and happier lives for ourselves and our descendants. I think that the likelihood that I am right about this is about 90%. I am not worried about income inequality or the prospect of the superrich taking all of the money and making everyone else poor. The reason I feel so confident in my opinion is that I like to read economists and, even if they worry about the side effects of growth alot more than I do they seem to agree for the most part about what causes growth. I think that the government's role in the economy is overblown in the US so even if I am wrong about what causes growth I think that the national economy can overcome most anything without a catastrophe. If I am right the lives of hundreds of millions of peoples' lives will be improved slightly at first, and then more and more as time passes.
The last issue that I use to decide on a candidate is gay marriage. I feel that if gay marriage is allowed it will change the definition of marriage in a fundamental way. If marriage becomes more about love and the feelings of those involved and less about obligation to the spouse and the raising of children people will enter and exit marriage more frequently and with less thought than now. Marriage will lose some of its specialness and become just another option. Children will suffer as more people will have children out of wedlock and divorce will become more common. Poor children will be hit especially hard, as they benefit most from two paychecks and the stable environment that traditional marriage provides. On the other hand, maybe the ship has already sailed and traditional marriage will continue its downward trend no matter what the government says. Perhaps gay marriage is just a symptom of the culture change surronding family issues and will do nothing but provide recognition to what has already happened. I think the likelihood of my being right about this is around 65%. If I am wrong tens of thousands of gays and polygamists will be inconvenienced and may feel slightly worse about themselves. If I am right millions of children will grow up in better environments and will lead happier more productive lives.
If mutliple candidates agree with me on the issues I base my vote on effective they have been in the past in getting their policies implented and how well I think they will be in communicating their policy preferences to the people and getting more people to subscribe to those policies.
On the whole the likelihood that my vote will influence the world for the better is 0%, but the likelihood that my policy preferences would lead to a better world is about 75%. That is much better than deciding my vote based on race or sex or the flip of a coin, but I wish it were higher.

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how does preventing gay marriage help children?

"Children will suffer as more people will have children out of wedlock and divorce will become more common. Poor children will be hit especially hard, as they benefit most from two paychecks and the stable environment that traditional marriage provides."

How does preventing gay couples from marrying--including gay couples with children--cause this problem, as opposed to making it worse?

Thought I had mentioned this

By replacing the raising of children in the definition of marriage with the feelings of the people involved. If a marriage is just people who love each other, rather than a way to start a family, than when feelings change the marriage can be broken up. This has happened alot already but codifying it seems to be "as long as I have the rope around my neck why not jump off the horse" logic.

do you oppose gay marriage, or childlessness and divorce?

Can you point out where in any state's legal definition of marriage it says anything about raising of children or about the feelings of the people involved? If you think that having children is an essential part of marriage, I strongly disagree with you (as a married man who will not be having any children). Do you think that my wife and I should not have been allowed to marry, since we don't want children?

Many gay couples want to become married in order to have the legal rights straight couples have, in order to support families. You apparently oppose that--but that is inconsistent with the justification you're trying to provide. You say that you don't want marriage to be based on temporal, ephemeral feelings, which ends in divorce when the feelings change. That could be an argument for covenant marriage or making divorce more difficult, but it's not an argument against gay marriage at all. The reasons you claim to oppose gay marriage are reasons to support it.

Marriage is for child-rearing

Marriage is the human institution build around mating and child-rearing. That does not mean that every marriage must have a child, any more than every sperm must find an egg. Things fail to fulfill their functions all the time - which is one reason why Mother Nature is so massively redundant, supplying men with massive numbers of sperm, each of which is built for finding and joining with an egg, but the vast majority of which never do any such thing.

This being the case, people might be forgiven for boggling at the very idea of homosexual marriage. The very idea is like pants for trees. It doesn't make sense. If someone actually claims to be sewing "pants for trees", sews them around trees so that trees can "wear" them, it's reasonable for an onlooker to say, "well, you're sewing cloth around a tree, but it's not actually pants, it is only vaguely analogous to pants, so calling it 'pants for trees' has a large element of make-believe."

This doesn't mean that anyone wants to actually stop people from sewing cloth around trees. The main bone of contention, I think, whether people admit it or not, is conceptual: the cloth is not actually pants, and analogously, as far as many people are concerned a homosexual pairing isn't really marriage no matter how hard the partners pretend it is.

Some part of the dispute turns around particular rights that homosexuals want, but these particular rights of marriage are not all that often enumerated. I suspect that the reason for this is that homosexual activists do not merely want a certain list of rights that heterosexual married couples have. I don't think that's enough for them. I think they want to change the concept of marriage so that it includes their homosexual partnerships.

My own position is that this linguistic issue shouldn't even be a political issue, and wouldn't be, if the state were not involved in marriage. I find this reminiscent of the issue of whether creationism should be taught in schools. My position here is that schools should be private, and parents and schools should sort out what is taught the way companies and their customers generally sort out what services a company provides its customer.

that's a pretty weak argument

The causes of something's initial development need not remain its purpose--we see this in biological evolution all the time, as well as social change. Your "pants for trees" analogy presumes the nonexistence of adoption, surrogate parenting, cloning, and partnerships which are intentionally childfree.

The best reason not to teach creationism in schools (public or private) is that it is not only false, but based on numerous falsehoods and misconceptions.

further elaboration on previous comment

The original purpose of marriage was arguably for a male to publicly stake a claim of ownership in a female, to deter interlopers and to provide assurance that any offspring he devoted effort to care for was his. Conversely, it was to secure the male's assistance in care on the part of the female. Clearly, there are ways that strategy has been defeated--reproductive strategies tend to be arms races in virtually every species (Olivia Judson's book, _Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation_, recounts numerous interesting ones quite different from those used by humans).

Today, a DNA paternity test is a far more effective means for a male to verify that offspring are his, and the state enforces child support on the part of the male. And people typically live far beyond their child-bearing and rearing ages, opening up new possibilities and purposes for life and marriage.

Degrees of resemblance

The causes of something's initial development need not remain its purpose

And yet a concept, while it can be stretched, has a breaking point, and homosexual marriage stretches the concept of marriage past its breaking point for a lot of people.

Here's another analogy. Candy cigarettes are not for smoking, so conceivably we might accept that the purpose of the cigarette is no longer just for smoking. And yet, conceptually we do not class candy cigarettes as a genuine kind of cigarette, but as a candy that merely resembles a cigarette. Similarly, many people do now and will in the future distinguish between real marriage and homosexual marriage. A child-rearing marriage will continue to establish itself as the gold standard, the archetype, of marriage.

The best reason not to teach creationism in schools (public or private) is that it is not only false, but based on numerous falsehoods and misconceptions.

And the best reason to serve food made with fresh ingredients is that it is tasty and the nutritional value is high. We can go on forever making decisions about what people should be doing and why. But it's still none of my business or your business what decisions a parent makes about the education of his or her children.

embryonic personhood

If zygotes, blastulas, gastrulas, and embryos are persons with a right-to-life, then in vitro fertilization is immoral--it inevitably creates embryos that will never be implanted but will be forever frozen or simply disposed of by IVF clinics. Further, it implies that there's a serious problem of failure of implantation after fertilization that affects far more zygotes than abortion which deserves research and resolution.

In my view, there's no personhood without the capacity (not just future potential) for mental activity, and specifically higher-order mental activity like self-awareness and reasoning. If I thought that less than that were required for personhood, I'd have to be a vegetarian (or deny that personhood includes a right not to be killed and eaten).

I agree

I agree with you that an embryo in the early stages of development is not a person. That is why I don't base my vote on issues like stem cell research, the issues involved are too complex. That obviously changes as some point in the development cycle. When that changes occurs is the crux of the debate, for me it is probably around 4 weeks, but I may be wrong since any date would be somewhat arbitrary. These are tough issues.

I'm not sure where you learned how to reason, but...

Your spelling leaves much to be desired, but not as much as your inability to convey a rational argument. If you are going to say some of the things you do (such as about abortion and gay marriage) you have a bit of an obligation to defend your position with logic. Logic doesn't mean asserting something that is essentially your conclusion in your premise. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, well, I'm not surprised.

By the way, your positions have no "probability of being right". You have no basis for judging a "probability" because they are not a repeatable experiment with a randomly distributed outcome like rolling a die or flipping a coin. If you were a believer in certain modes of Bayesian reasoning, you might be able to say that you thought that your opinion about a concrete future event or objective fact (something like "there are fewer than X proteins expressed in the human genome) had a particular probability (though this is a slightly different sense of probability. However, in this case, you're not even talking about anything concrete -- you're conflating personal moral beliefs with statements that can be objectively judged at some future date, which of course they never can be. No one can ever say that "human life is the most valuable thing in the world" because value is subjective. No one can say "it is morally wrong to perform act X" because there is no objective standard to judge morality.

On this last point, repeat after me: no one can say if a particular choice like killing a fish, killing an adult human, killing a tree, etc., is "objectively moral". You can say that you find it, as a matter of personal taste, objectionable or unobjectionable, or that you find it supportive of or harmful to some concrete goal. You cannot, however, claim to be able to find an "objective morality" since there isn't any.

Oh, and if you're going to resort to bringing God into the argument, don't bother.

objective morality is a respectable position in metaethics

"No one can say "it is morally wrong to perform act X" because there is no objective standard to judge morality."

I'd just like to observe that you are assuming, without argument, a particular metaethical position, and there are many professional philosophers who disagree, advocating some form of ethical realism.

On my reading list is a book by a former fellow graduate student at the University of Arizona (my field was epistemology and cognitive science, rather than ethics)--Russ Shafer-Landau's _Whatever Happened to Good and Evil?_. And now that I look, I see that he's got another book out now titled _Moral Realism: A Defense_ (2005, Oxford Univ. Press). I'm quite confident that no god comes into the defense. (Like you, I'd consider that a fatal flaw.)

Also on my list is Erik Wielenberg's _Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe_, which similarly argues for some form of moral realism, though I note that the review by David Cortesi points out what seems to be a significant gap in part of his argument.

If only he was capable of arguing metaethics to begin with...

I've read several such books over the years. I have yet to see one which describes a method by which one may prove or disprove certain acts to be moral in a way that third parties could objectively assess. I can conduct an objective study on whether beating your children causes them to be more likely to commit violent crimes, and to conduct it in such a way that people can objectively judge the evidence I give. I do not know how to conduct a study to show whether beating your children is "immoral" that would yield a similar kind of evidence.

Indeed, it is an open question what the word "immoral" even signifies, if anything, and absent agreement on the definition the whole thing becomes a semantic argument.

That said, we are discussing things way above the original level of discourse here. I'm sure either of us could find ways to argue in favor positions we passionately disagree with that are better reasoned than "sourcreamus"'s arguments in favor of things he putatively believes in. I don't think that he (I assume he's a he) could coherently discuss the epistemological issues surrounding moral certitude in the first place. Indeed, I have doubts that he's even capable of spelling the words that would be required to make the argument. Even if there were to be such a thing as objective moral positions, it would require substantially better reasoning than was displayed in order to begin to convince third parties of them.

I am not trying to be objective.

The values that I incorporated in my post are not objective statements of facts, they are my values. It is my name on the post and therefore it contains my opinions. The possibility of universal morality is not something I find interesting so I did not discuss it.
I assume that there is a best possible scenario that could be achieved through political means. My likelihood numbers are just guesses as to whether the means I have chosen to support will end up getting us closer to that best possible scenario. I am not specifically trying to convert people to my way of thinking, I think that is almost impossible to change someones opinions via a blog post . I am just wondering if it is possible to know whether your favored policies, if enacted, would get you closer or further away from a better world.

Even assuming an embryo is a

Even assuming an embryo is a human being with rights, there is no such thing as a right to feed by sucking your mother's blood. If a mother decides to stop feeding here embryo, that's her right, her blood is hers. The only way to stop it is to remove the embryo/foetus from the womb, it so happens that this causes its biological death... this may be sad but no one is guilty of anything here: the embryo has no claim over its mother's body. Many people's live would be saved if you gave money to them, not sending your income as food aid in the third word doesn't make you a murderer.

It depends on how you see things

I have never heard it expresses that way but since breast milk is ultimately derived from blood, the same argument could be made after birth and the same action justified. I am not ridiculing your argument which is plain spoken and logical. In fact I get lost in the terminology rich obfuscation of some folks about meta this and Raulsian that. Are these guys geniuses or BS artists? Or maybe they are just artists at disguising the fact that there are irreconcilable moral questions.
I think the opposing sides of this and many other arguments amount to differing visions. So some people put more weight on one factor such as the fetus life and the other person puts the greater weight on the autonomy of the mother. The next step is to put the fetus on a sliding scale of more and less human characteristics and logically defend your choice as to where the scale balance as opposed to the mothers right to autonomy. The whole process defies logic but the since argument is composed of logic nobody can admit this. Some people say that there are these benchmarks such as fertilization or the fetal head appearing that divide the right and wrong choice. Some people try to cop out by saying we should err on this or that side. These ideas are also illogical. These are not logical decisions but feelings based on prior cultural conditioning and natural human moral sense. The extremes are easy to deal with. For example know a modern person would not say leaving the baby out in the woods is a proper way to assure the mothers autonomy. It used to be done and in some cases still is. On the other hand celibacy is just as deadly to any potential progeny as baby killing. The middle ground is not so easy.
Let me know when you develop an entirely logical, terminology free argument for or against abortion.

A mother has indeed every

A mother has indeed every right to abandon her baby if she does not wish to feed it through her milk, fortunately this doesn't have to result in the baby's death since he may be adopted unlike a foetus who cannot (yet) be "adopted" and transferred to another natural or artificial womb.

My argument is terminology free. As I stated in the first sentence, it does not rely on the humanitiness of the foetus / embryo / baby / human being

Agree to disagree

I assume that you have thought through your arguements to its logical implications. Therefore it does not seem that we share a similar enough view of morality to come to any agreement.

My great-grandmother got

My great-grandmother got married at 19, had her first child at 20, the second at 21 and became pregnant again. Her husband had just lost his job (it was the Depression). She had an illegal abortion, got an infection and died a horrible and painful death at 23. Her children became motherless and her husband became an alcoholic out of guilt, as he felt responsible for her death, and my grandmother and her brother were raised by a succession of relatives. If abortion and birth control had been readily available, she wouldn't have died and the family wouldn't have been destroyed.

People who advocating outlawing abortion may show compassion for the unborn, but they rarely think about the plight of the living women (and their families) who will suffer if it is illegal. The cavalier statement "hundreds of women will die" shows a truly stunning lack of concern and confirms my opinion that pro-life advocates actually care little about human life.

An alternative way of looking at it.

If your ancestor had not had an abortion her husband would have had a wonderful new baby instead of a dead wife.
The tradeoff in the abortion debate is one of hundreds of dead mothers versus millions of dead babies. If you think one mother's life is worth more than the lives of tens of thousands of babies than you are pro-abortion. If you think the tens of thousands of babies lives are more important than you are anti-abortion. One can care about human life and take either position.