We need some clarification here. Yes, feelings do play a role in moral deliberations --- the feelings of the agents affected, but not the feelings of the decision-maker.
If one lacks care and empathy then one may not regard the feelings of others as important and will not be able to relate to them. In considering the feelings of others the decision-makers own feelings come into play. He or she may feel that others do or should feel as they do, care for what they care about, be moved in a way that they feel appropriate.
The answers to those questions, assuming they are expressible, will necessarily be propositions. Those propositions will assert that one of the available options improves the welfare of the affected agents more than the alternatives (or reduces it less).
And some of those affected might prefer one option and some another. The weight given to different aspects of the assumed consequences may vary. What one may see as an improvement another may not.
That proposition will be either true or false …
If it were that simple there would be little or no disagreement regarding moral issues. Principle based moral theory has not resolved those disagreements.
Whether a certain moral rule will increase or reduce the welfare of agents affected by it is no different than the question of whether a certain traffic rule will reduce or increase accidents.
We can agree on the number of accidents by a simple count. What stands as an improvement or reduction of the welfare of agents is a matter of opinion.
The lives of all species differ from those of all other species. Are they all special?
How I might answer and how others would are not the same. Some value some lives more than others. I tend to put human life ahead of that of other species. In any case, this came up in relation to abortion. I do not see the relevance of bringing other species into it.
b) is just a baseless, dogmatic statement.
You may regard the belief that human life should not be taken or only taken in certain situations as baseless and dogmatic, but it is fundamental to most people. I do not know what your moral theory rests on if human life is disregarded.
Well, you seem to be confusing moral philosophy with sociology, or cultural anthropology.
In my opinion the confusion is in thinking that morality should disregard what people hold to be most important, sacred, and valuable.
Yes. The viability-birth interval presents no morally relevant distinctions requiring different treatment.
Are you claiming that there is no moral difference between an abortion is the first and ninth month?
It [a baby] has moral status.
This begs the question. What is the basis for it having moral status? Why does the newborn have moral status and the late stage fetus does not?
Once born the infant is not longer a burden upon the mother, and given that others are willing to adopt, it would be immoral to kill it (for the same reason it would be immoral to euthanize a healthy dog if someone is willing to adopt it).
And if no one is willing to adopt the baby? What if the healthy dog is killed to be eaten?
Well, except for the premarital sex, your examples all indeed raise moral issues.
Premarital sex does raise moral issues for some. The fact that it plays no role in your moral theory does not mean that others do not question the morality of it.
And, of course, different people will arrive at different answers to those questions.
Yes, and that is the point. The answer to moral questions cannot be treated as the equivalent of counting car accidents or whether evolution is true.
The job of moral philosophy is to ascertain which of those answers is right (if any) --- or more precisely, to propose a methodology for for doing so.
I would say that the job of moral philosophy is not to ascertain the right answers but to deliberate about what seems best. Unlike the bivalence of right and wrong, it is not a fixed determination and is subject to change. What is best is, all things considered, what seems preferable to the alternatives. There is no methodology by which to do this. The determination of what is best requires self-reflection on what one takes to be most valuable and important to their life. It requires an acknowledgement that others, whether they too are reflective or not, will have their own goals and ends and things they hope to achieve. It requires that we recognize commonalities and find ways of accommodating differences without undue harm to others.
Well, again, you seem to be confusing sociology with moral philosophy. Views on cosmology, biology, chemistry, etc., etc., were also at one time based on religion or custom (and still are for some people). Does that fact call into question the soundness of atomic theory, quantum theory, etc., or of the scientific method?
You seem to be confusing moral deliberation with objective science. This is the basis of our disagreement. It is dissatisfaction with your approach that has led a significant number of moral philosophers and ethicists to virtue ethics, the ethics of care, non-cognitivism, biology, neuroscience, and so on.
Again, you're evading. Do the judge's feelings have ANY role to play in the decision?
On the contrary. The topic is moral judgment not legal judgment. Unless you can show that they are sufficiently alike the introduction of judges is an evasion. But I will indulge you. I assume you are referring to what judges should do rather than what they may actually do, that you are not talking about judges who are biased by race for example. Yes, contrary to the ideal that justice is blind, the judge’s feelings do play a role. They make judgments about the reliability of witnesses based on demeanor. How a judge weighs the evidence may vary depending on how he or she feels about the defendant - not simply in the sense of liking or disliking them but whether this person seems like someone who would do what they are accused of. The severity of the sentencing might likewise be affected by the judge’s feeling about the defendant's future. How judges weigh the evidence and arguments will differ, otherwise there would be no need for more than one Supreme Court justice. How a judge feels about the rights of women or abortion or guns or cakes and gay marriage can make a difference.
You replied that they are "not based on intuitions or feelings, but that they do not exclude them." I then asked upon what you think they are based, and how those feelings or intuition fit in. You've not answered.
Moral deliberation takes a variety of things into consideration, the possible consequences of choices and actions are decided on a case by case basis. Beliefs, customs, values, all the things you want to throw out, come into play. It may be that there will be no general agreement and no way to arrive at a “right answer”. I do not see this as a defect of moral deliberation but as the condition within which moral deliberation takes place.
In general, to cause harm and suffering is bad, and to minimize them is good. To flourish is good, well-being is good, and these require good health, nourishment, shelter, and so, what promotes their attainment is good and what prevents there attainment is bad.