There’s an issue here; a crux, an aporia, a conundrum, a fork.
On the one hand, yes, of course, you have to ground all your claims in something. Reasons don’t just fall out of the sky; we have to think about them, and criticize them, and back them up.
On the other hand, you don’t want all questions to be permanently open. That would lead to a war of all against all.
How do you reconcile those two items?
Beats the hell out of me.
I’m seeing some philosophy types who are annoyed by this idea that some questions should be treated as closed, because hey, there are arguments for abortion rights, and it’s philosophy types who can make them.
Yes, ok, but does the discussion have to go on forever? And what do we do in the meantime? And what about all those places where it is in fact treated as closed? The US teems with new attacks on abortion rights and women’s right to be treated as human beings with human rights of their own; Ireland doesn’t even have abortion rights apart from the extremely minimal ones voted in last summer in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar; but in the UK and many other European countries abortion rights are just there – the question is treated as closed. It’s not clear why we have to start over again from scratch every day.
Also: philosophy types should not act like Spocks. They should not get all surprised and miffed when women who have an investment in abortion rights get pissed off by dispassionate discussion of whether women in fact should have abortion rights. This is a human thing. It’s human to get upset about controversies that are close to home. There’s something…reptilian about pointing disdainfully at people who get angry about controversies of that kind.
The reality is that rights were invented as a way to treat certain questions as closed for practical purposes. That’s why they’re rights as opposed to laws. That’s why they are called “inalienable” in the Declaration of Independence. “Inalienable” can be translated as “you can talk until you’re blue in the face but you still can’t take away our rights.”
Update: actually unalienable, not inalienable. My mistake.