Popular, But Pitifully Weak, Arguments

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I just wanted to say that you are the man.

The popular Japanese puzzle game Sudoku is based on the logical placement of numbers. An online game of logic, Sudoku doesn’t require any calculation nor special math skills; all that is needed are brains and concentration.

The key points I mentioned in Slate five years ago in debating Sailer are reprinted below:

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In one "M*A*S*H" television episode, Charles convinces a concert pianistwho has lost his right arm in battle that he has still not lost his giftof musicianship because musicianship is in one's head, not in one's fingers-- that there is still a life worth living, even in music, ahead for thisman though he will not be able to be the concert pianist he had been trainingto be. Doctor's often simply have to ignore an accident victim's immediatepleas just to be left alone to let die because they are certain that intime the person will be well enough to be glad they did not die. This isnot to say doctors are always right about how a person will feel lateror that life is always reasonable to have extended. Sometimes extensionscan simply prolong unmitigated pain and sorrow. The point is though, thatthese issues can be rationally discussed and sometimes people can learnand profit from the discussion.

1)Did the arrival of crack lead to rising youth crime? Yes. No argument from me here.

Well, actually, gay isn’t the word he would use. I have what might be the worst ability to recognize sexual orientation on the planet, but no one needed sensitivity to guess Jim’s views. Not that he was campy or anything when I knew him, but he was always vocal about his sexuality, naming himself loudly to anyone nearby with words that polite society allows only in ironic use by gay men themselves.

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There are also some people who seem to have a particularly inconsistentview -- those who hold that all conceived babies should be allowed to beborn regardless of their quality of life because life is a virtual absolutevalue, and who also hold that it is right to let people (let alone makeor draft people to) go to war in defense of something such as property,liberty, economic and/or social system, where defense of life is not atissue. One cannot consistently hold that life is the most important thingthere is and that it is all right for one to risk his life for somethingof less value. This inconsistency seems particularly odd since it seemsto put greater value on (potential) life that is not yet self-consciousthan it puts on life that is already self-conscious and may even have areasonably known particularly (deservedly) bright future.

Beliefs, Attitudes, and Issues About the Quality of Life

Prostitute versus architect salary:I just got to the point in your book where you claim that prostitutes make more than architects because of the compensating differentials and the demand for their services. The passage came right after you debunked the misconception that crack-dealers make so much money. I do not have data on the average salary of a prostittute or the average salary of an architect but I would guess that the architect makes more. I think that prostitutes are probably subject to the same plight as the foot soldier crack dealer and the McDonald's employee whereby they do the 'grunt' work but someone else is making all the money.

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The issue of whether seriously unhealthy or seriously malformed fetuses should be identified and aborted:
since quality of life does seem to be a consideration, and since certainkinds of defects assure suffering and preclude even minimal quality oflife, it seems that anyone arguing severely deformed or fatally or morbidly ill fetuses should beallowed to be born (or "forced" to be born and thus forced to suffer) needsto have and to show some very good reasons why. The simplistic argumentthat abortionists are playing God is not sufficient. We are playing Godeither way, since we have the power either way (assuming the real God doesnot intervene the opposite way and really play God) for bringing aboutabortion or live delivery. We are playing God just as much to make someonebe born as when we keep someone from being born.