Thursday, April 17, 2008

Argument from Marginal Cases - MYTH

One of the corner stones of Vegetarian philosophy is the Argument from Marginal Cases(AMC) that goes something like this -

There are humans such as infants, the severely retarded, the insane, the demented, people with Alzheimer's ect. whose mental function does not rise to the level of a chimpanzee. Even though people in these groups can not reciprocate our moral attentions such as obeying the golden rule etc we include them in our circle of moral consideration. So on what basis do we exclude the chimp?

If you grant that this premise is true then it applies to all animals...

Here is where it does not stand-up I exclude the chimp because he is a chimp! If we look at the argument from marginal cases(AMC) in a point by point basis we can see it just doesn't hold up.

1.) An infant. Would we say you should castrate that infant because he can not get an erection? We don't do this because life is not static, the infant has the potential for reason in a way that no chimp or animal ever will.

2.) People with dementia or Alzheimer's. We include them because they at one time did have these abilities and as a species we realize that we all evolve towards some degree of dementia.

3.) The retarded. We include because we play game theory and retardation could have randomly happened to anyone of us. A chimp is not as randomly going to give birth to a human.

I hate the AMC because it takes a static view and argues from a specific point in time without taking the past and future into consideration.

3 comments:

Rocketstar said...

I'll have to do some research as I don't know if I fully get what AMC is.

Brian in Mpls said...

Basically it is just saying that we include people from the margins of society in our moral circle and then it states that there is little differnce from animals and people with limited abilities.

Ribonuff said...

Male babies have been documented to get erections even while still in utero.
As a mother, I have seen plenty of baby boy erections.
Have you ever heard of the baby item called a "pee pee tee pee"? it's a tiny cloth tent that the changer puts over the baby boy's penis so he doesn't squirt them in the eye while being changed.