Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Wow, people are reading my blog!

I just realized that people are actually posting comments on my blog and I hadn't realized it. I thought I had it set up to notify me by email when someone posted a comment, but that doesn't seem to be working. I'll have to look into that.

In any case, a response to a noteworthy comment:

On the issue of the California State Supreme Court ordering Catholic Charities to include birth control in their medical benefits:

> What if this organization didn't believe in antibiotics? Would you still feel the same way?


This question seems to make a fundamental but common mistake, which is to assume that if a principle leads to an undesirable outcome that the principle must be abandoned. This is a logical fallacy that I call "proof by horror story." The problem is that most people don't stop to consider the negative consequences of abandoning the principle. In this case the principle is religious freedom, and the (hypothetical in this case) negative consequences are that some people will be deprived of life-saving medical treatment. Yes, being denied medical treatment is a terrible thing. But setting the precedent that the government gets to decide what does and does not qualify as a religion is vastly worse.

I would make only two exceptions: one is if the person being deprived of treatment is a minor (as sometimes happens with Christian Scientisits), and the other is in the case of truly egregious abuses, like if Microsoft tried to declare itself a religious organization in order to avoid paying taxes. But in the case of Catholic Charities it is quite clear that neither of these is the case. If an organization says it's religious it must be given every benefit of the doubt, otherwise we'll be left with nothing but state-approved religions.

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