Feb 12, 2023·edited Feb 12, 2023

Im struggling with an argument that id like to make to my kids school, specifically not to have our local pregnancy center teach sex ed as a significant part of the religion curriculum in middle school. I realize "i dont like the way this place operates and therefore dont want them teaching my child" may have limited traction among a majority who likes that "claims to be a clinic" model. So Im working on the higher good argument. Perhaps, "its not that the pregnancy center knows nothing of sex ed but rather that the school has had a long tenure of rich and multidimensional religion teaching age 3-12 year olds using catechism of the good shepherd. On site trainers are trained in a complex, theologically rigorous program; significant investment is made in space and materials. CGS is not political but rather theological, time tested across cultures, in line with scripture and tradition. Could we look for an equally vigorous middle school curriculum, also vetting the religion we teach against scriptures and tradition and keeping it in house, with high expectations for training?" On that note, if anyone loves a religion framework for 13-14 year olds that meets these higher standards, id like to propose an alternative.

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I think most real world moral problems (esp. re: public policy) consist of a constellation of different moral claims, and generally can't be distilled into one set of competing binary claims of the 'Good'. Abstract philosophical questions can help us better navigate our lived reality, but life isn't an abstraction!

A variation to the opponents-best-argument approach I prefer is making a list questions whose answers *could* lead me to change my mind. For instance:

- What if abortion bans don't result in an increase in maternal mortality?

- What if abortion bans don't lead to increased state surveillance of women?

- What if abortion bans were accompanied by extensive paid family leave policies?

- What if embryos were successfully transplanted into an artificial womb and resulting children were raised by the state?

Under these circumstances what bans do I think would still be appropriate - or not? What exceptions do I still feel strongly about? What are the worst unaddressed edge cases I can think of?

I generally see dwelling on the competing claims of the good to be a process in reverse. Where you start from 'what is utopia, the ideal society we are striving for' and then identify the differences between the utopic visions of the people on either side of the argument. I think you and I share very similar utopic visions! Probably more similar visions than many people who share my opposition to abortion bans! I don't think competing claims of moral goods adequately explains why we are on opposite sides of this & other policy questions.

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The one place I can see disagreements of this type is in land use policy, namely zoning and gentrification in cities.

Supporters of high density argue there is a greater good, tearing down older buildings that promoted low density and car use, for example, they have driveways in the midst of strong public transit options. Global warming, they argue, require less reliance on private motor vehicles. They want greater options for affordable housing in big cities.

Supporters of low density believe that their personal preferences for privacy and distance matter more, and especially when the culture of larger cities can contribute to a lack of civility, ie., loud noise and littering. Car use matters when the strong public transit options are undermined by poor maintenance and high crime. They might not even believe global warming is an issue, and they don't believe affordable housing is a problem.

These can easily evoke, I believe, your first and second observations: no one agrees that there's any basis for their opponents' arguments, or their opponents' arguments represent a lesser good.

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