I've been on an ethics binge the past few days. I wrote, edited and clarified these two articles:
An Objective Base and Criterion of Morality
The Two Fundamental Categories of Ethics feat. Rape and Murder
In these two articles I presented an objective base and criterion of ethics along with the two fundamental categories of ethics in such a manner that is detached from God and all religion. And I did so in such a manner that is unarguable. E.g. One cannot argue whether or not a mutilation imparted by human mediator on a human target in reality directly deprives the target of his body parts and future use of them. Either a human action directly harms the target or it does not. Since mutilation DOES directly harm the target, it is morally categorized as Y. Y is a place holder for all synonyms in all religions and ethics that are used to communicate the deliberate harm directed at a target in a human relation. In my two posts I only dealt with the moral concept called the object and/or moral object. The 'moral object' is resolved conceptually apart from sensation, perceptions, motives, circumstances, opinions, laws, codes, customs, etc.
Morality is relative since it is based on a presupposed relation between a minimum of one human mediator and one human target. In the case of certain types of actions such as washing, eating, drinking, suicide, etc. a single individual acts as mediator and target to consummate the action. But the relativity of morality cannot change the fact that certain types of actions performed by a mediator in reality always directly deprive or harm a target. The ethicist identifies and associates certain types of human actions performed in reality. And one of the conceptual exercises he applies is whether or not the type of action in question directly harms the target. He does this in an impartial manner detached from motive, intent, circumstance, consequences, emotions, tastes, codes, civil laws. He will take the concept of abortion and ask questions like does abortion make sense? Does abortion directly harm the target? What is the quality of abortion. What do all abortions have in common. And the answer is of course abortion directly deprives an innocent target. Abortion refers to a concept that resolves to a mediator(s) directly depriving a pre-natal of his or her life. Motives, circumstances, civil law and mom or dad's opinion on the matter cannot change the fact that in all abortions a pre-natal's life is directly deprived by the mediator. Abortion is a sub-type of murder. The concept ABORTION and signal 'abortion' is based on the realty of adult humans directly harming a pre-natal human in such a mode so as to deprive that pre-natal of his or her life. One cannot argue against this. If no abortion was ever performed in reality we as a human family would have no concept and signal of abortion. Similar with murder and all other types of acts categorized as Y.
One of the exercises of a moralist is to categorize ABORTION as Y. All human acts categorized as Y directly harm or deprive the target object. This is resolved conceptually. And all anyone can do is hold a bias, rationalize, whine, bellyache, protest, etc. against this category, but even this cannot change the concept ABORTION. All abortions are the same. The motives behind the abortion and/or the circumstantial consequences of abortion are irrelevant to the fact that ALL abortions performed in reality directly deprive an innocent pre-natal of his or her life. This is not an opinion. This is a conceptual issue. Whether you care or not is another issue is beside the point.
Blessed Pope John Paul II announced the Gospel of Life in his encyclical of the same name. The previous two posts I did not invoke God or religion but here I will so as to demonstrate the refined and subtle teachings of Catholic Ethics. Contrary to the biased media or popular opinion, sincere and proven Catholics actually care about individual targets susceptible to all sorts of direct and voluntary deprivations performed by irrational human mediators:
Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.
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Today this proclamation is especially pressing because of the extraordinary increase and gravity of threats to the life of individuals and peoples, especially where life is weak and defenceless. In addition to the ancient scourges of poverty, hunger, endemic diseases, violence and war, new threats are emerging on an alarmingly vast scale.
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The Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life. Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: "Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator".
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Unfortunately, this disturbing state of affairs, far from decreasing, is expanding: with the new prospects opened up by scientific and technological progress there arise new forms of attacks on the dignity of the human being. At the same time a new cultural climate is developing and taking hold, which gives crimes against life a new and-if possible-even more sinister character, giving rise to further grave concern: broad sectors of public opinion justify certain crimes against life in the name of the rights of individual freedom, and on this basis they claim not only exemption from punishment but even authorization by the State, so that these things can be done with total freedom and indeed with the free assistance of health-care systems.
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All this is causing a profound change in the way in which life and relationships between people are considered. The fact that legislation in many countries, perhaps even departing from basic principles of their Constitutions, has determined not to punish these practices against life, and even to make them altogether legal, is both a disturbing symptom and a significant cause of grave moral decline. Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable. Even certain sectors of the medical profession, which by its calling is directed to the defence and care of human life, are increasingly willing to carry out these acts against the person. In this way the very nature of the medical profession is distorted and contradicted, and the dignity of those who practise it is degraded. In such a cultural and legislative situation, the serious demographic, social and family problems which weigh upon many of the world's peoples and which require responsible and effective attention from national and international bodies, are left open to false and deceptive solutions, opposed to the truth and the good of persons and nations.
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The end result of this is tragic: not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life.
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Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic pros- pects, depression and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil. But today the prob- lem goes far beyond the necessary recognition of these personal situations. It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared, to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights.
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In this way, and with tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of "human rights"-rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation-is today marked by a surprising contradiction. Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.
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We can find them in an overall assessment of a cultural and moral nature, beginning with the mentality which carries the concept of subjectivity to an extreme and even distorts it, and recognizes as a subject of rights only the person who enjoys full or at least incipient autonomy and who emerges from a state of total dependence on others. But how can we reconcile this approach with the exaltation of man as a being who is "not to be used"? The theory of human rights is based precisely on the affirmation that the human person, unlike animals and things, cannot be subjected to domination by others. We must also mention the mentality which tends to equate personal dignity with the capacity for verbal and explicit, or at least perceptible, communication. It is clear that on the basis of these presuppositions there is no place in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure, or for anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them, and can only communicate through the silent language of a profound sharing of affection. In this case it is force which becomes the criterion for choice and action in interpersonal relations and in social life. But this is the exact opposite of what a State ruled by law, as a community in which the "reasons of force" are replaced by the "force of reason", historically intended to affirm.
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At another level, the roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them. While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of "the strong" against the weak who have no choice but to submit.
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Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. "Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action".
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As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others. This equality is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice, recognizing and protecting every man and woman as a person and not as an object to be used. Before the moral norm which prohibits the direct taking of the life of an innocent human being "there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the 'poorest of the poor' on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal".
The demands of morality are the demands of rationale. Regardless of biases held against God or religions or the Catholic Church these teachings are more or less rational. Via reason it is impossible to even point out a contradiction in the teaching Pope John Paul II imparted invoking his assumed authority. Blessed John Paul II was one of the most refined and subtle ethicists in history. One can whine and bellyache all one wants about language use, motives, circumstances, the failures of the Church, or whatever but all direct and voluntary deprivations in context to two or more humans acting in a relation are irrational. It is just a matter of degree. Murders, such as abortion directly impart a SEVERE degree of harm to the target. In contrast, a 'white lie' does not impart severe harm to a target.
These teachings are spring up from a human's use of reason. The two fundamental categories of morality can be resolved through critical thinking and rational analysis. It is just a matter of one caring to use his reason in context to the other human who is endowed with the most gifted nature in the Universe. To not value another human for who and what they are is insane and ridiculous.