Bioethics as a Spectator Sport

Remember when the BBC and ITV had both used to pretend that the other didn’t exist, except in veiled references to “the other side”?  I always feel that talking about papers in Bioethics is a bit like that.  Oh, I know that journals don’t engage in rivalry, that it’s all collegiate, and so on.  But, still… Bioethics is the other side, isn’t it?

That aside, I thought it worth putting on record that I really enjoyed reading Dadlez and Andrews’ paper in November’s Bioethics on so-called Post Abortion Syndrome, an “illness” invented by the pro-life crowd with the intention of showing that abortion is deeply counterproductive, and therefore the sort of thing that women shouldn’t do.  The only thing missing from the aetiology of the condition, it would appear, is any relationship with reality or sanity.  Minor stuff.

Anyway: one thing about the paper is that I’m surprised that it actually got published.  This isn’t because it wants for quality, but because it’s stylistically very different from most papers in bioethics – or philosophy generally.  Notably, it’s largely an attack on the claims and methods of one person.  (To this extent, I suspect that David Reardon – the person in question – may feel that it’s ad hominem.  I’m not sure; but even if it is, it could be one of those very rare cases in which an ad hominem attack is not fallacious.)  But, surprise notwithstanding – and even putting aside my own sympathy with Dadlez and Andrews’ position – I’m glad that the paper was published.  That’s simply because philosophy can, at times, be a spectator sport – and it’s nice, every now and again, to see someone getting so thoroughly pwned.

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