Science and Morality
Back from a lovely week away from work and America, I began the morning with a scan of the NYTimes science section. A couple of stories stood out to me for their clear mixture of science and morality.
Plastics and Lent
The Catholic Church has suggested giving up plastics for lent this year. The problem with plastics being their accumulation in the environment and toxicity to human and animal life.
My understanding is the idea of lent is to give up things that are difficult to do so such as, a luxury like chocolate or a transgression like cursing. So giving up plastics brings about the obvious point that doing so is very difficulty. It is both a luxury of modern society and a burgeoning transgression suggesting that only the morally weak take part in the disposable society. The article suggests that we should aspire to using natural fabrics and products during lent. A nice idea to be sure and one which I aspire to throughout the year. Though anyone who has truly tried has likely also found that living a life free from the sins of synthetics is a costly one (perhaps unless you are homesteading or farming which is a whole other ballgame). I am reminded of the work by Goode on moral regulations. Good has shown quite convincingly that the frontiers of moral regulation is pushed by the elite.
Technological advancements in medicine has enabled the first transgender woman (i.e. male --> female) to breastfeed her infant daughter. The moral acceptability of this is seen in the comments section where readers challenge the 'safety' feeding an infant by hormonally inducing lactation in a biological male. For instance,
Ib: Not sure I would want to nourish an infant with breast milk created through biochemical and/or hormonal intervention. How do the doctors conclude it is safe? Does this give transgender women a new career path as wet nurses?
Mathius Cervesicus: How is giving an infant breast milk from a host that is a cocktail of pharmaceutical induced/ingested artificial hormones a good thing?! That is abuse of the infant!
Duchess: Why is there not more concern about the impact of this mix of synthetic hormones and other drugs on a developing baby? If we are warning menopausal women that taking estrogen can induce cancer, then why is this mix of estradiol, progesterone and a testosterone-blocker, along with the banned drug drug domperidone, ok? Is this a milestone, or a cancer cocktail?
Others are a bit more direct seeking not to engage with the safety of the technology itself and rejecting the impetus for it altogether on moral grounds:
Jane Doe: Has a portal to the Twilight Zone been opened or something? Because nothing makes sense anymore and everything's upside down. Right is now wrong, and wrong is right. There is no moral compass or common sense in society anymore.
Truthweb: What! This is the craziest story I've ever heard. Who is What? I'm glad I'm married, if you date to day you never know what your dealing with! There is no way I'd be on the scene today. I am 61, when I grew up girls were girls and boys were boys and it was easy to tell. This isn't a "Gay Thing" this is just ridiculous!
And then there is a comment like the following that seeks to use the technological advancement as a means of arguing for religious faith as a fools errand,
Robert Coane: Marvelous!!! So where does this leave creation advocates an their mumbo-jumbo about "god's" intent and plan.