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Sincerely Held Beliefs

Sincere Isn't Enough

The Roe vs Wade debacle happening at SCOTUS is a shock but not a surprise.
Senator Susan Collins professes to be surprised.
Both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh had assured her that Roe vs Wade was settled law and they wouldn't be overturning it. Collins had a sincere belief, she says.

This article explores that in some detail:
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/susan-collins-roe-abortion-stance-was-doomed-supreme-court-votes-rcna27227
The point of the article is that she was either lying about her sincere belief or she was a dupe.
And that a dupe is even less trustworthy than a liar.
To make an analogy from going out on a limb: with the liar you know not to go out on that limb, but the dupe tempts you out onto a rotten limb that suddenly breaks.

Collins was a US Senator - one of the most powerful people in the world. She has a responsibility not to be a dupe. Sincerity is not enough to justify her betrayal.
Remember the context. Senator McConnell had succeeded in stacking SCOTUS with conservative justices by a series of very hypocritical legislative moves at a time when conservatives were being very aggressive against the right of a woman to have an abortion if she chooses.
So she says she sincerely believed that they wouldn't vote to overturn Roe vs Wade and now it looks like they are preparing to do just that at their first opportunity.

My point here is that a person in her position has to be right. Sincerity is not enough.
The pandemic has brought that out as a general thing.
There seem to be a lot of people who sincerely believe that reasonable public health requirements are an unacceptable attack on their freedom.
Now I have not dared delve into the dark regions of the internet where they seem to get their information. But I have noticed that they don't try to back up their position to people like me with any reasonable case at all.
Its just presented as a sincerely held belief that I have to accept.
And I think they need to be more persuasive.
The emergence into public awareness of LGBTQ people in the last 50 years or so illuminates this issue from a different direction.
As I watched that happen I was convinced by lots of evidence presented from many directions that gender is not the binary male/female thing that I learned from my culture when I was a kid.
But many people don't even credit gender identity as a belief; they claim it's just a fashion that people put on.
And the irony is that the one's most upset about trans people's access to toilets do it from sincerely held beliefs that they don't (imo) even try to defend.

The fly in the ointment here is that everyone has sincerely held beliefs. Those beliefs work very much in the background and largely determine what seems reasonable to each of us from moment to moment.
And returning to Roe vs Wade, if you actually believe that human life begins at conception then you are obliged to see abortion as the murder of a human that should be resisted.
And any means is justified that moves towards that end.

But I question their belief and their sincerity. It's not enough to just assert it.
For instance; this idea of human life beginning at conception is a very very questionable proposition that involves all sorts of false ideas like God.
I say false because I have never met anyone who can make any sense of the idea of God.
And a measure of the sincerity of people who say that human life has to be cherished from conception would be to see how much they cherish each baby that's actually born.

The point here is that if a person believes a new soul is created at conception then I would expect them to personally act on that and not even imagine aborting that soul. All good.
If a person does not believe that then there are many other factors that play into the decision about whether to bring a new baby into the world now.
These perspectives need not conflict
But when one person tries to inflict their own sincerely held belief on what another person can do with her body then they have to be way more than sincere.
They have to be right.

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.