September 28, 2010
For what will future generations condemn us?Ask Kwame Anthony Appiah and Frank Pasquale. Feel free to weigh in. I wrote, in a comment to Frank's post, that "it was, for me, sad to note that industrial farming, and the cruelty-to-animals (that I agree) it involves, seemed to Appiah (and, I suspect, to most of us) more likely to result in downstream moral condemnation than, say, the fact that we identify and abort nearly all unborn children who have Down’s Syndrome."
Posted by Rick Garnett on September 28, 2010 at 04:22 PM | Permalink
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Posted by: DC | Sep 28, 2010 5:41:06 PM
The judgment of future generations does not matter. Only God's judgment does.
Posted by: Dan | Sep 28, 2010 11:04:50 PM
I think one of the things future generations will be appalled by is the number of preventable deaths caused by hospital personnel who do not (and are not required to) take relatively simple precautions such as washing hands, following checklists for complex procedures, and so on. Some think the estimate of 100,000 preventable deaths a year may be low. When reading about this, one begins to imagine how Semmelweis must have felt.
When my brother-in-law was in the hospital with a "superbug" infection (from which he recovered), the family had to dress in gowns and shoes to visit him. Yet he said he constantly had to remind the doctors and nurses to wash their hands. (He had managed nursing homes himself and was aware of proper medical procedure.)
Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 29, 2010 11:20:51 AM
Ross Douthat also wrote an interesting post about this: http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/the-judgment-of-the-future/
Great minds think alike. :)
Posted by: Gregory Barr | Oct 4, 2010 5:16:54 AM
I agree regarding the "new eugenics" of Down's abortions. I think this is a deep tragedy, and it's part of a much broader "procrustean" program that both Ellul and Michael Perry have noticed at various times. (Spreading awareness of the need to reverse that process (ala Kathleen Norris's moving literary celebrations of her sister, who has Down's syndrome) should be a front on the larger culture conversation about selective abortions.)
Having been pretty strident about mass starvation/poverty in 2008 during the price hikes on food (when much of the developed world was basically starving people to fuel its cars), I did not want to bring that up now. In a similar vein, I think the partiality of Appiah's list springs from a suppressed assumption of the piece: he could not retread the ground of a Peter Singer, CARE, Oxfam, etc. He wanted to give us some examples (like helping the elderly, or eating less meat) that were in our reach to help. Whatever one thinks of his particular worries, the piece itself was a valuable prod away from short-term thinking (if not toward eschatology).
Posted by: Frank | Oct 4, 2010 11:00:05 PM