Friday, November 17, 2006

Moral Strategies

Yet another example of how philosophy directly effects the lives and well-being of people: In an article at globalaidsalliance.org titled "Fairy-Tale Failure" [link HERE], Esther Kaplan explains how AIDS cases in Uganda were decreasing until the U.S. began emphasizing 'abstinence-only' programs. After that, HIV infections doubled in two years.

The article itself is not long and I hope readers will click the link above and take a look. But there is one point I wanted to note. Uganda's AIDS commissioner, Kihumuro Apuuli, says at one point:

"There must be evidence-based strategies—not moral strategies—if we are to break the cycle of infections."

How sad that the twisted notions behind abstinence-only philosophy have so consumed the moral spotlight that sensible programs are not even seen as 'moral strategies' - as if morality were some sort of extraneous concern independent of practicality or effectiveness.

More people should be aware that evidence-based strategies (not only here, but in life) are moral strategies. It is precisely because of the harm the abstinence-only philosophy does that makes it immoral.

People who proclaim morality and then proceed with willful ignorance of facts and ideological rejection of reason - to the detriment of innocent people - are not moral at all, but rather immoral charlatans. Ethics are to be judged by their effect on human happiness and well-being. Just a hint: anytime you're doing something and you notice millions of innocent people are suffering and dying - it might be a clue that something you're doing is immoral. The struggle of organizations like Planned Parenthood to give people full information to make informed choices is not merely a strategy - it is a moral cause.


Blogger Greg said...

I balk at calling Abstinence-Only a philosophy. I think it's better described as the failure of a philosophy. That is, the separation of church and state that ought to be held sacrosanct is increasingly abandoned as the right-wing moralizers proselytize from public office.

There's actually a new Abstinence-Only campaign directed at adults in the US. It's hard to imagine the kind of ignorance that goes into such a policy.

10:42 AM  
Blogger DT Strain said...

Thanks for the comments Greg. Sounds similar to the debate over whether something is 'bad art' or 'not art at all'. :)

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is no different than the ban on gay marriages. Can anyone think of a reason for gay marriage to be illegal, other than a religious reason? There is not one, just as there is no such reason for promoting abstinence.

3:53 PM  
Blogger DT Strain said...

True Stevarino. Opponents of gay marriage have yet to ever make any sort of argument (even a poor one) for exactly *how* gay marriage harms man/woman marriage or families.

Of course, abstinence and promiscuity are two different things. I go into detail in my thoughts on this on my philosophy site in "Principles of Socio-Personal Humanism" Section 2.15. Specifically paragraphs 2.15.7 to 2.15.11.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous flashcat said...

*sigh* This all reeks of such ignorance, I just ... can't even really comment. Would you be willing to post on Nicaragua's president's recent decision to sign a bill banning completely all abortions, including any cases where the mother's life is in danger? That seems highly immoral to me.

10:25 AM  
Blogger DT Strain said...

Hi Flashcat,

I'm afraid I'm not up to speed on Nicaragua, but I'd agree such a thing is immoral. Unfortunately, it seems that many people are led into doing immoral things because of mistakes and errors in reasoning. By that, I mean that *IF* it were the case that abortion were murder, then of course it would have to be outlawed. But to think such a thing is philosophically baseless without the incorporation of superstition, it seems to me.

The fact that a lack of good thinking policies can lead otherwise good intentioned people to evil acts is why I consider Reason to be the second of the three Primary Virtues, and a lack of Reasoning skills (and the will to improve them) to actually be a *moral* character flaw.

12:47 PM  

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