The Need for Practical Reason in the Abortion Debates

A guest post of mine has just been published on Political Theoology Today (for a change, it is not in the Politics of Scripture series).

Theoretical reason concerning the good can often advance with a determined sureness of deductive steps that is denied to practical reason in its inductive peregrinations between the world of action and the world of realities, as it reflects and deliberates concerning the right.

When the question of the right is mistakenly presumed already to have been settled within our determination of the good, we are at risk of leaving questions of practical reason unattended.  For instance, an argument in favour of the death penalty is not in itself a sufficient argument in favour of America’s current practices of the death penalty.  We are at risk of neglecting the ‘journey of thought’ of which O’Donovan speaks and presuming that policies and practices are the natural and necessary emanations of our values.

This neglect of the task of practical reason can have curious effects. I suspect that one of these is the inappropriate imputation of a necessity to prevailing party alignments on issues such as abortion, when such alignments often arose, not as a necessary and inexorable outworking of core values, but as a fortuitous crystallization from the messy vicissitudes of historical contingencies.

Read the whole piece here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Culture, Ethics, Guest Post, In the News, Politics, Society. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Need for Practical Reason in the Abortion Debates

  1. Pingback: Retrospective on 2015 | Alastair's Adversaria

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