James Franco unexpectedly annihilates professor’s pro-choice moral status argument

by Jenny North on August 12, 2017

In this video a Princeton philosophy professor argues that a fetus does not have moral status and that is why it is not wrong to abort it during the early stages of pregnancy. The reason why it does not have moral status? Because it was destined to be aborted. Yes, that’s the argument in a nutshell, and actually the full argument literally fits in a nutshell anyway.

The Princeton professor, Liz Harman, was lucky enough to sit down with James Franco in a funky little project of his called Philosophy Time. James Franco is an odd dude, but no one can claim that he is not creative, educated, and industrious. He is well known for his acting career where he has played a variety of diverse characters – a goofy drug dealer in Pineapple Express to the real life hiker who cut off his own arm to survive in 127 Hours. But few may also know that he is a PhD student in English at Yale, has degrees from UCLA and Colombia, and has taught English and Film classes at several universities. He is involved in many other projects and charities as well. He doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and just propels himself in life doing things that are interesting to him and that usually turn out very good, and frequently are pretty funny.

In this Youtube Philosophy Time episode, Franco only asks a question or two, but the professor is unimpressive. Her argument is circular – that if a life would end in abortion or miscarriage – in the early stages of pregnancy, the life gained no moral status and that’s why abortion is not wrong. However, she states that her life, and James Franco’s life do have moral status because of what they were to become. Because their mothers did not have an intent to abort, they are worthwhile.

James Franco

Franco has two good questions. He asks, “Can’t you only judge that in hindsight?” You can’t know if there’s moral status until that early fetus is allowed to develop. The professor’s answer is that if it isn’t allowed to develop then it does not have moral status. Not really an answer, just more circle talk.

The second question Franco asks is this, “If the fetus is never destined to become a person, if a woman decides to have an abortion with an early fetus, just that act or intention negates the moral status of that early fetus? Because if she goes out an has an abortion it’s pretty certain that it’s not going to become a person.” The professor then says that’s not quite right, but her explanation only goes back to the idea that the fetus has no moral status if it had no future, and it would have no future because the woman made the decision to abort. She reiterates that Franco has moral status because his mother did not abort him, but if she had decided to abort him he would have no moral status.

There are a lot of stupid arguments in favor of abortion, but this one has got to be one of the most idiotic. And this, from a philosophy professor! “If we decide to do something it is the right thing to do, because we decided to do it.” What depth of thought that required! It is approximately at the same developmental level of a three year old. How does such a person become a professor at an Ivy League university? That is the real philosophical question that needs to be answered.

Franco never states his position on their issue, simply asks a couple of logical questions. Too bad more people can’t do the same thing.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Wfjag August 12, 2017 at 6:21 am

Prof Harman’s entire reasoning is a person’s moral status depends on the decision of someone else: Your Mother let you live. There is no principled reason to stop from taking the next logical step: Your continued living should be the decision of someone else; when you are old, infirm or ask too many questions or state heretical opinions, . . .

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Jenny North August 12, 2017 at 7:35 am

Exactly – whatever a person decides to do it’s the right thing. A moral rule should work in all scenarios, and her rule affects others not just herself. That rule is some kind of self-affirming hedonistic view of philosophy. It’s disgusting and of the lowest caliber of thinking, I think.

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Jim Gardner August 12, 2017 at 10:10 am

Enjoyed this article and video Kate! Thanks! Jesus told Pontius Pilate that He came to bear witness to the truth, and Pilate responded, ‘What is Truth’? I gain great comfort, even joy that my ‘Moral Status’ comes from God and not Kim Jong Un! I grieve for those who are unaware of how much they are valued by Christ Jesus! He deeply loves the children in the womb!

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Mrs.M August 12, 2017 at 1:44 pm

If I decide to walk up and slap the stupid out of her, does she lose her moral status? If another person’s decision as to whether or not a child lives in the womb determines their status as a viable human being, couldn’t someone make the same decision about her? Just because she believes she has moral status, and someone else does not believe that, then should they not have a say as to whether she should be allowed to continue in that state? Just because her mother allowed her to live, does that mean that the rest of us are obligated to honor that decision? (That’s all rhetorical day dreaming for those without a viable and moral sense of humor.) In other words, by her reasoning (or severe lack there of) any other person that has no vested interest in allowing her to continue inhabiting space in their general vicinity can claim they have decided she’s used up her moral status. Ok…I have to stop now….brain cramp.

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New Class Traitor August 12, 2017 at 8:27 pm

“One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” (George Orwell)

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GWB August 14, 2017 at 6:16 am

Because it was destined to be aborted.

So… She’s a Calvinist?!?

And this, from a philosophy professor!

Well, honestly, philosophy professors usually have spent so much time arguing esoteric crap that they end up not actually being able to see their own feet. After all, are they really there? Or are they simply an illusion?…….. Oy vey. That stuff is fine when you’re drunk in your college dorm, bullsh*ing with your buddies, not so much when you’re trying to actually live.

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