Well, slowly but surely I’m catching up on my viewing of Joss Whedon’s latest enterprise, Dollhouse [note: I’ve two episodes left to catch up on]. Underlying the Dollhouse plot-line is the of course the ethical (and pragmatic) questions underlying the actual running of an enterprise as suggested. Dolls, are people, who (we are led to believe) knowledgeably contract for a 5 year term during which their minds and memory (self) is (mostly) erased and reprogrammed during the term of tenure for whatever purposes the house might desire.  For the following assume contract is not forced and the terms of the contract are made clear. That is the contractee (doll) enters into the contract with full knowledge of what it entails and voluntarily submits.

So, the question on offer is whether or not a dollhouse contract might be ethical (moral). My take looking across the ideological divide is that a strict contract libertarian cannot argue against it. For a contract libertarian no voluntary contract can be dismissed on ethical grounds. My guess is that the progressive/liberal would argue against it incompletely. That their argument would be on class/power grounds and that this is an abuse of the same … but that the progressive would leave substantial numbers of people undefended, i.e., that recruiting dolls from those suffering irrevocable brain injuries that left the person amenable to the programming process would be eliglble (salvageable as doll) for permanent doll status. Finally, it is my opinion that the conservative view would be that this is immoral under any circumstances for a number of reasons, in human rights terms (which I don’t find persuasive, but can serve here as shorthand) is that we don’t posses the right to give up our autonomy in that way.

However, making assumptions like that is fraught with danger. One cannot and should not ascribe motives an arguments for the others side, they are likely to be wrong. Recently in two discussions on the abortion debate I witnessed, the pro-choice speaker assumed motives of the pro-life side, making the categorical claim that any and all pro-life positions assume a patriarchal viewpoint and wish to oppress women. Now there may in fact be pro-life people who advocate patriarchy and oppression of women, but I’m not one and I’ve never even met one in conversation. So here we have what might be a typical view of the pro-choice left of the conservative pro-life movement which is mostly fictional. It ascribes motives and arguments to the other which, although easy to argue against, are not actually held by any but a tiny minority.

So, with that in mind, I’ll only offer my argument of why the doll process and contract is immoral, and oddly enough, it is lies at the heart of my opposition to abortion. As a defense against the totalitarian excesses of the last century it is essential that we hold to an ontological axiomatic assertion of the dignity of man. The doll process, in that it moves a person to “thing” violates that principle and is therefore immoral.

So what are my gentle reader’s takes on doll ethics? If the dollhouse process is contractually aboveboard and kept that contract is kept faithfully … is it moral?

Filed under: Ethics & MoralityMark O.

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