Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Opposing viewpoints" can lead to "repugnant conclusions": the controversy over Tannsjo's essay over a stipulated moral duty to procreate; more on guest blogging

Ezra Klein on Vox Media has an article about the company’s stalled plan to introduce a new section featuring “unusual, provocative arguments”.  I’m reminded of the “Opposing Viewpoints” series of books produced in Michigan (Books, Sept. 19, 2006).  And I’ve thought about automated database tools that could aggregate “opposing viewpoints” (see Feb. 29, 2012).  The Vox “card stacks” accomplish something similar in a straightforward way.
The specific story (link  concerned his decision not to publish a controversial piece by Swedish philosopher Torbjorn Tannsjo leading to the “repugnant conclusion” that procreation (as much as possible, at least within marriage perhaps) is a moral responsibility and prerequisite for everyone. And that means having lots of kids, big families (like the Duggars?). 

Klein talks about the obvious disagreement this implies not only with abortion but also birth control;  he could have added homosexuality (particularly as it is seen in countries like Russia) as another potential target for Tannsjo’s views. (Anita Bryant would have loved this in the 1970s.)   And there are political and demographic problems (like an aging population) when more well-to-do established non-immigrant populations don’t have enough children (as in the case in most of Europe, feeding an undertone to the refugee crisis, and is partially the case in the United States, which depends on immigrants to maintain a stable overall birthrate to replace the working-age population).
Gawker has published Tannsjo’s blunt essay here. Could Tassnjo be playing Jonathan Swift with a "modest proposal"?
I think there are questions about sustainability (the “Big Bad Word” v. “Happy Small World”). I tweeted to Klein a comment that it’s inconceivable that an entity that does not exist (hasn’t even been conceived – I’m not referring to abortion) has any moral claim on me.  (I think of a scene in Reid Ewing’s second short "freedom" film. “Free Fish”, where he curls inside a giant  clam shell in a California aquarium to make a philosophical point about the perks of existence.) But, then, by that logic, we wouldn’t be concerned about leaving future generations runaway global warming (and a future Venus to live on).
I’ll meander to a distantly related matter.

Lately, I’ve gotten a few emails asking if I want to publish op-ed’s by various parties on topics like marijuana legalization, transgender rights, or even Donald Trump’s behavior in the current presidential campaign. (Yes, calling people “losers” excessively sounds scary.) I think that in some cases public relations firms are trying to place articles with others to gain more audience, rather than just advising clients to self-publish their articles on their own blogs (like on Wordpress or Blogger, this  platform).  I’m not sure if the publisher was supposed to “buy” the content. “Blogtyrant” (Ramsay Taplin, in Australia) has advocated heavy use of guest bloggers to build and exchange audiences.  So I get the point of doing that.  I think that some of these “pundits” would be better off trying to get published on a site like Vox (which has a content style and world view a bit like mine) if they really need “credibility”.
If I restructure in 2016 (move everything to Wordpress, which Ramsay recommends), I could reconsider the place for exchanging guest bloggers.  By the way, Ramsay has an Inbound Question for bloggers that I’ll pass along; maybe you’ll get a link after all. 

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