Pandora's Box

From Politics & Evangelical Theology :

"[O]nce a culture severs its moorings in the Christian moral consensus by making personhood something other than being human, the demons released from Pandora’s Box cannot be rounded up, domesticated, and put back in the box. Even some people who do not travel all the way down the roads suggested by Singer and others, and who appear perfectly reasonable and willing to rethink their views on abortion, are stymied by accepting the basic premises that lead to their kind of barbarism. For example, Will Wilkinson, blogging for The Economist:

I favour legal abortion. I don’t think embryos or fetuses are persons, and I don’t think it’s wrong to kill them. I also don’t think infants are persons, but I do think laws that prohibit infanticide are wise. Birth is a metaphysically arbitrary line, but it’s a supremely salient socio-psychological one.

While it might be nice that Wilkinson psychologically prefers living in a culture that doesn’t routinely kill babies, by adopting the premise that humanness and personhood are two different things he is, in fact, left intellectually helpless to oppose just such societies. He can tell them it isn’t wise all day long. That will not be very helpful or broadly persuasive when the issue is not whether babies are persons, but rather whether Jews are “mosquitoes” or Tutsis are “cockroaches.” After all, why isn’t having a brain, ten fingers and ten toes just as “metaphysically arbitrary” as birth?"


Brian Mattson