Is it contradictory to support the war in Iraq, but not stem cell research?

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show brought up what I think is an interesting point in this interview:

People are against stem cell research because they do not support the taking of what they see as innocent life, even if it is to save lives.

When a country goes to war, it is an undisputed given that innocent lives will be lost. These innocent lives, however, are an acceptable loss to those who feel the war in Iraq was the right thing to do.

Is seems somewhat contradictory to hold both of these opinions. The only way I can see to possibly resolve this contradiction is that people have compelling reasons to believe that in the long term, the Iraq war will save more lives that they believe stem cell research will save. Do such compelling reasons exist?

I have sometimes thought that many people in the anti-abortion/IheartBush’sWar faction are interested in defending innocent lives only when they’re fetuses/babies.

They’re usually pro-death penalty, too.

The anti-abortion movement has little to do with “saving babies” and a lot to do with keeping women in their place.

The opposition to stem-cell research is tangentially related to the abortion debate, in the sense that those against it have to keep up the pretense that a frozen, leftover embryo is a baby.

A war kills fetuses and babies too, anyway…

Yeah, lets start out the deabte by demonizing the oppostion. :rolleyes: (not directed at the OP, just the first two posts).

This kind of TV “gotcha” philosophy makes for good entertainment, but it makes for a poor ethics debate.

Start with the assumptions*: 1) Human life starts at conception. 2) A war is justified if it is undertaken to defend against attack. 3) The war in Iraq is necessary in order to defend our country from attack.

I think we can all agree that we make distinctions between killing which is avoidable and killing which is not. In war, killing innocents is unavoidable. But to defend ourselves as a coutnry, we have to have the option to go to war. We do not need to kill “unborn babies” in order to defend ourselves as a country. If we take assumption #1 to be valid, how could we condemn stem cell research but not condemn randomly selcting living people to submit themselves to an organ harvesting program? If assumption #1 is correct, there is no distinction between those two actions.

The contradiction only exists when you force others to use your assumptions. Of course the Iraq war cannot be supported if it’s not necessary to protect the country. No one argues that. Of course there is no problem with killing a “clump of cells”. No one argues against that.

Consider this: How can people oppose the death penalty, but support any form of warfare at all? Ever wonder why Jon Sterwart doesn’t ask that question? It’s exactly the same philosophical conundrum, but it makes fun of a group to which he and most of his audience belongs.

*I don’t agree with either assumption, but that’s not the point.

If you believe both of their positions are false, they can’t really contradict each other.

So does God. The miscarriage rate is around 10% I believe and mortality tables don’t start counting until after the first year so that infant mortality won’t skew the statistics. Of course that’s God’s plan and He can do as He damned well pleases.

Folks, why do people treat “stem cell research” and “fetal stem cell research” as though they were interchangable terms? They aren’t. A lot of stem cell research does not require extracting them from any fetal tissue.

I know that, but the anti-stem cell side doesn’t seem to. I could care less where it comes from.

That’s what happens when the opposition is rather demonic.

It’s not a contradiction, just dishonest. They don’t care about saving lives; they care about hurting and killing people and terrorizing them. Not to mention ramming their beliefs down everybody’s throat. Suppressing stem cell research, opposing abortion, supporting wars and the death penalty all fit into that. The people you speak of are predatory, malignant or fanatical.

At this point, I think even most supporters of the war no longer say it was necessary to protect the US from attack - it has become building democracy. (I’m assuming these are the people who are intelligent enough to know that Saddam and bin Laden were not allies.)

In addition, you’d have to ask them about the number of deaths. I suspect the number of fetuses sacrificed for stem cell research is much less than the casualty rate in Iraq. Then you would also have to ask them what steps they are taking to save the frozen embryos which would be the source of the cells. Since I believe their shelf life is limited, this would be considered a crisis, and they’d have to get the host mothers lined up quickly.

I don’t know Bennett’s position on IVF. The Catholics are at least consistent in opposing this, but I don’t think opposition is politically viable anymore, since the Republicans would have to put themselves into a position keeping married couples wanting children from having their own. But that’s the only morally consistent position.

Stewart didn’t have the time to go into this depth - but I don’t doubt he could have.

Revtim, this is fun! Oh, I know: How can people be opposed to putting mass-murderers - some of whom even manage to kill other inmates in prison - to death, but have no problem putting a couple million of the unborn to death every year? How can a party that claims to support free speech demand the banning of a book? How can people who claim to support alternative energy sources be the driving force behind preventing the use of windmills miles off shore? How can people who claim the government needs to butt out of people’s lives be in support of smoking bans, seatbelt and motorcycle helmet requirements, and stricter licensing requirements for teens and/or the elderly? How can people be unwilling to subject their own kids to vaccinations, yet be perfectly willing to rely on herd immunity instead?
Not a damn one of those things can’t be justified - as long as we’re willing to admit that these are only contradictions when seen in black in white rather than the appropriate shades of gray.

We have to defend ourselves, because we have to try and save our citizen’s lives. Why doesn’t this logic also apply to stem cell research, which also might save our citizen’s lives? Is it felt that it’s less likely that stem cell research would save lives than the war in Iraq? If we have to have attacked Iraq because our citizens might have been attacked by Iraq, why don’t we have to do stem cell research because it might save our citizen’s lives from disease? What’s the difference?

To clarify, I’m talking about people who support the war now, now that the threat level of Iraq before the war is better known. It’s no contradiction in my eyes for someone convinced Iraq has WMDs aimed at us that it’s more likely that attacking Iraq will save morel lives than stem cell research. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

This contradiction has nothing to do with forcing my assumptions on other people. This seems like a contradiction to me when I’m assuming their values, that embryos are human lives that do not deserve to die. I do not share this view, but even when taking it as a given this situation seems like a contradiction.

I agree that could be a contradiction too. Does it apply to the one the thread is about, or is it just a tu quoque attempt? I never claimed this is the only contradiction in the world, or even that only Republicans or the Bush admin hold contradictory views. I’m only trying to see if there’s a way to resolve this seeming contradiction as not a contradiction.

So can you explain the non black-and-white nuances that justify the seeming contradiction described in the OP? This is what I’m trying to understand.

But they’re not taking viable fetal tissue when they use it for stem cell research anyway. I’ve never understood the argument. Has anyone ever suggested that they actually kill a baby or a fetus in order to do stem cell research?

As usual, I like your logical approach. :slight_smile:

However I do disagree on one point.

I oppose the death penalty, but accept wars in genuine self-defence.
I also support the right of an attacked person to use appropriate force (lethal if the threat is lethal).

The difference is that society has control over a convicted murderer and can use other means of punishment / rehabilitation (plus not all convictions stand the test of time).

Which is why you support the insurgency against American troops.

In a way, I think you are reinforcing John Mace’s point (correct me if I’m off-base, John Mace). The OP is assuming that all of the examples given are coming from the same moral place, and should all have the same rationale or justification. Pro-life philosophy/theology is a little more complicated than “all killing is wrong.” It’s a nice idea in theory, but in practice in the real world, it’s not nearly that simple. Not only are all the ideas not analagous, but as you are showing by your post, reasonable people can disagree about what is or is not morally justified. A few considerations that may be taken into account might be the following:

(Please note that I am not proposing that we debate whether or not fetuses are babies, or whether or not the war in Iraq is justified, or whether or not civilians are being deliberately targeted in the war, or whether the death penalty is applied fairly, etc. etc. etc. There is no point in challenging any of these premises in this thread. You may or may not agree with any of them. The question was how are these perceived moral contradictions resolved. John Mace made the point already that you have to understand that various premises may be at work, and I am attempting to explain a few of those premises.)

Innocence: In capital punishment, the innocent are not being killed. Completely different to punish someone for taking a life, vs. killing innocents in war and/or for medical research.

Deliberateness: In a war, innocents may or may not be killed, and more importantly need not necessarily be killed in order to be successful. In additon, war is waged directly against a specific group of people who presumably mean harm to others. In fetal stem cell research, innocent lives who clearly do not intend harm to others are specifically and deliberately created and destroyed.

Purpose & Outcome: In a war, saving an entire nation (or, frighteningly enough in this age, the entire world) may be at stake. In fetal stem cell research, saving a finite and relatively small number of people is the desired outcome. While this is a noble purpose to be sure, it is not an analagous situation.
One last note: although some of the posts here seem to assume that all people who oppose fetal stem cell research are in favor of the Iraqi war, this is far from the truth. The previous pope came out against this war. Although the Catholic Church does not condemn justified wars, apparently JPII did not feel that this particular war IS justified.

I have already posted in a large number of threads on Iraq and refer you especially to Robin Cook’s resignation speech.

I would make one small extra point: I can see, from their point of view, why some Iraqis might support the insurgency, because there have been so many mistakes made by the US in Iraq (starting by installing Saddam in the first place).
I am very depressed that the World Superpower has made such mistakes.

Surely you know about people who have been proved innocent after being on Death Row for years, or even after execution?

Surely you know that artillery / bombing kills the largest number in war and that innocent civilians invariably die (as well as casualties from friendly fire)?
War is waged against a country. Not all people there necessarily support the war.
In the Second World War, for example, millions of Russians died. Can you personally vouch they all intended harm to others?
Clearly you feel strongly about stem cell research. I do not agree with your statement (which is probably a whole new thread). I assume you would agree that the scientists involved have good intentions?

Well at least one side in a war is by definition not saving anyone.
I can think of wars that are supremely stupid and where both sides are just abhorrent.
Next the population of the World is finite. (You imply otherwise).
If stem cell research prevents Aids or Plague, would you consider it worthwhile?