Yesterday, we argued that autonomy explains nearly everything about the cultural left. Today, we'll look at where that leads.
The first place that autonomy leads is to the extreme glorification of consent, often considered in a vacuum. Consent is a good thing, mind; but the informed part of consent rarely makes it into consideration these days.
Here's what we mean. Take a look at this story about somebody enraged about a game some dads have been playing recently. The game? Stacking Cheerios on the forehead of their sleeping baby.
The source of outrage? The baby did not consent.
As we argued yesterday, extreme views of autonomy lead directly to a view of consent that prevents parents from cutting their child's hair until the child is old enough to "consent." Fortunately, the author of the above story offers some guidance on why this view is not sufficient for raising children:
"...Kids are not good abstract thinkers, and they gather clues about life from the overall way they are treated. So yes, we should teach kids some concept of bodily autonomy and self-worth from a very early age. It makes sense to make it obvious to kids that their desires are important, that their bodies are not meant to be violated, and that they should be listened to.
"But if we are going to put this much emphasis on consent, from an age where a pre-verbal baby can indicate lack of consent by sticking out a foot, then we must also give children a basis for deciding whether or not it’s appropriate to give consent. Because kids don’t automatically know this! Why would they? Kids don’t know anything. Remember, they don’t want their poop cleaned away. They don’t want to be in their car seats on the highway. They are not reliable judges of how they should be treated. They must be taught, by people who love them, what is and is not good for them."
In short, we ought to teach children that their bodies are not meant to be violated, but we are also responsible for teaching our children what they should and should not consent to.
The second place where autonomy may lead? Polygamy.
The argument runs something like this:
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.
- The opinion of the Court left no available restrictions to the concept of marriage.
- The Court argued that marriage should not be "restricted" to one man and one woman.
- The Court's conclusion was incomplete: If you do not restrict the "man and woman" portion, there is no reason to restrict the "one and one" either.
This, of course, stems from what we've been talking about: autonomy and consent. If we as a society favor an individual's limitless self-determination, it is difficult to perceive a coherent moral system in which anything other than "consent" functions as an impetus to act or not act. What logical objection exists if we let these extreme versions of autonomy and consent persist?