Abortion Essay

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Diadem » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:35 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:Conceded, although I still have a struggle with the notion that a fetus developing inside your uterus after an instance of barebacking is a bewildering development for the average person. Then again, I'm not a woman so my bias/ignorance is probably showing in terms of what I would classify an ambush.

Considering I've only ever heard the term 'barebacking' applied to gay sex, I'd say that would be a pretty bewildering experience :) Though wikipedia says it can also apply to heterosexual (vaginal) sex. Huh, weird. Wow, that means I actually learned something from this thread, which is even more bewildering ;)

Anyway, take a random female and a random male, let them have intercourse once. The odds of the woman getting pregnant are pretty small. Certainly less than 50%, probably less than 10%. I think the chance is only about one third even if the woman is at her most fertile period of the month. Pregnancy is not an automatic or even common effect of sex.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:51 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:Yeah, I apologize if the criticisms I posted on the example gave the impression that the points made could be used for curtailing the bodily autonomy of women or cast doubt at women's motives for not wanting any sort of development after sex. I was just nitpicking the surprise element of the example. Shoddy nitpicking following your shedding light on the elements of my criticism that were unfounded.

It's a mostly valid nitpick.

Except for the fact that a lot of abortions is from people who were, in fact, using birth control.

But yeah, if someone skips the pill and knowingly has sex, or does it without a condemn, there's definitely no valid reason to be surprised that sex resulted in fertilization. I've always hated the analogies, even though I get the bodily autonomy point, but it never really seemed valid. The reason that argument doesn't seem valid for me, from a bodily autonomy perspective, is it would similarly seem wrong to me for a conjoined twin to get surgery for separation from a comatose twin when there's a low risk and high chance that the comatose twin would be a perfectly normal separate human being if you just waited 9 months.

And, except for in the case of rape, pregnancy is a result of two people choosing to participate in sexual activity with pregnancy an obvious possible outcome, regardless of whether or not they used birth control. The analogy would be more accurate if the "innocent person" who depends on you for life support is in that situation because of something you did. Let's say that had a terrible allergy that you triggered, knowing full well that 2% of the population is allergic to chocolate in a way that could cause this... (or whatever, it gets too silly)

Let's say you got a drivers license, took a bunch of safe driving courses bought a safe car, etc. Out of no fault of your own, you get into an accident. It's not your fault, you took reasonable precautions, right? You shouldn't be inconvinienced any more than necessary, so you should be able to just go on with your business, assuming your car still runs, and maybe get it looked at by a mechanic and fixed later, right? Wrong. You can't just leave the scene of an accident. You still have to be around to clean up.

So to me, bodily autonomy does not, in and of itself, make a strong enough argument that we can disregard person-hood.

However, if the personhood (or value of the personhood) is different between the mother and the fetus, than the bodily autonomy argument could certainly play a role. And clearly the "personhood at zygote" stage is not one with clear backing that can be assumed.

Thus the perpetual argument.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:00 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:So to me, bodily autonomy does not, in and of itself, make a strong enough argument that we can disregard person-hood.

I'm not sure how you can hold that position given the frequently pointed of differences between an actual person and the various things that are in a woman's uterus before birth. But that aside, because I suppose in some bizarro world it's possible to still, in the face of... you know... developmental biology... to hold the notion that the instant sperm and ovum meet, you get a person, the fact that you think bodily autonomy does not trump fetal personhood is somewhat head scratchy...

What exactly do you think bodily autonomy means in regards to aborting a pregnancy? That all women who elect for abortions have convinced themselves that the zygot/fetus is not a person? Or maybe it's a little more complicated than that.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:07 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:So to me, bodily autonomy does not, in and of itself, make a strong enough argument that we can disregard person-hood.

I'm not sure how you can hold that position given the frequently pointed of differences between an actual person and the various things that are in a woman's uterus before birth. But that aside, because I suppose in some bizarro world it's possible to still, in the face of... you know... developmental biology... to hold the notion that the instant sperm and ovum meet, you get a person, the fact that you think bodily autonomy does not trump fetal personhood is somewhat head scratchy...

What exactly do you think bodily autonomy means in regards to aborting a pregnancy? That all women who elect for abortions have convinced themselves that the zygot/fetus is not a person? Or maybe it's a little more complicated than that.


I wrote:Anyway, my point is, in the exact same way that it's foolish to think that personhood is there 100% at the moment after birth and there 0% at the moment before, it's foolish to think personhood is there 100% at the moment after and 0% before ANY event, be it fertilization of the egg, implantation, etc. It might make sense to assign some % at certain milestones. Heartbeat, nervous system development, birth, etc, ability to communicate, etc.

I'm confused about your objection?
As I said, bodily autonomy, in and of itself, is not a strong enough argument for abortion (in my mind) that you can say "even if they are full-blown people in the exact same sense that I am, abortion is still okay." I seriously most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.

The argument is really over how much of a person's rights should a fetus have, verses the bodily autonomy issue. It's a grey area. Some people want to "play it safe" by always letting the woman decide. Others want to "play it safe" by protected anything from implanted zygote on. Others have views in between, with things like viability laws, etc.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:21 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:I'm confused about your objection?
As I said, bodily autonomy, in and of itself, is not a strong enough argument for abortion (in my mind) that you can say "even if they are full-blown people in the exact same sense that I am, abortion is still okay." I seriously most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.

Citation Needed.
Роберт wrote:The argument is really over how much of a person's rights should a fetus have, verses the bodily autonomy issue. It's a grey area. Some people want to "play it safe" by always letting the woman decide. Others want to "play it safe" by protected anything from implanted zygote on. Others have views in between, with things like viability laws, etc.

Not at all; the argument is about what we think is more important, the potential for life, or the rights of a woman to choose what to do with her body. There is gray area, there's an enormous fucking swatch of gray area. That doesn't mean it's your choice to lay any stipulations upon; no matter how much gray area there is, the choice should never be anyone's but the woman who is pregnant.

Unfortunately, you don't seem to recognize that irrespective of the extent of the grayness, that others should have no right to tell an individual what to do with themselves.

This has rather important ramifications in many other aspects of personal rights.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Diadem » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:35 pm UTC

ztmario wrote:
Diadem wrote:
ztmario wrote:An example of irrelevancy on the side of those advocating choice is saying that many teenage mothers face a decreased quality of life with the birth of their child or children. Again, this is not in doubt, but similarly there are any number of activities which humans engage in that may cause a decreased quality of life, and quite often these activities are legal. Furthermore, if abortion is in fact murder, one could hardly find the prevention of a decreased quality of life to be justifiable grounds for homicide. While these arguments may offer some plausible understanding of the merits that stand for or against abortion, they generally do not answer the fundamental questions, which we will attempt to do herein.

You make the same logical error here as in the previous bit I quoted. Just because argument X is more important than argument Y doesn't make Y irrelevant. Besides, the premise that X is more important than Y will first have to be proven. I for one think this particular argument is a very important one.

same as above. if a fetus or zygote is a person, then those arguments are irrelevant. you must set the same standard for killing them as you would for killing any other person.

No I don't. And if I do, you are going to have to show that. You're only arguing half the debate. You said somewhere else in this thread that you are not interested in the rest of the debate, that people make up their own minds about that, that you are just arguing 'fetus = person'. But you are't. Your essay is called "On Abortion" not "On fetuses". The final conclusion of your essay is not "fetuses are persons" but rather "abortion is wrong". So, no, you are not just arguing that a fetus is a person without being interested in the rest of your debate. You are arguing that abortion is wrong. But to show that you have to:
1) Successfully argue that a fetus is a person and has rights [Theoretically you could argue that it has rights despite not being a person. I don't see how though]
2) Succesfully argue that those rights override all over concerns, including:
a) The damage not allowing abortion does to the woman in question.
b) The damage not allowing abortion does to women in general.
c) The damage not allowing abortion does to society.
d) The damage not allowing abortion does to the fetus.

You're just declaring all opposing arguments irrelevant, and then claim to have won the argument. Debating does not work like that.

ztmario wrote:
Diadem wrote:Wait a second, just because something is alive and made up of human-parts doesn't make it human. A severed hand is, at least for a while, alive, and it's made of human-parts as well, but it's not human. Though you are making a distinction between human and person, so I guess we can accept this premise than as a redefinition of what 'human' means. That does mean though that you are going to have to show stronger proof that 'human = person'.

to be honest, I did ignore the whole "a piece of dandruff is made of human cells but it's not a human" argument because my research did not give me the impression that it was actually taken seriously. the argument seems to be not so much if a fetus is a human, but if it is a person, or a human being with rights.

Exactly. That is the vital point that you have to show.

ztmario wrote:
Diadem wrote:This is an interesting piece in your essay. I could argue with many of the particulars of these paragraphs. For example just because something necessarily will develop into something else doesn't mean it is that something else already. The sun will necessarily develop into a white dwarf. There are no other possibilities (short of collisions with other stellar objects. But the odds of that are astronomically small). It doesn't even require sustenance to do this. But does that mean the sun is already a white dwarf? No it's not.

but you're misstating the argument. we're not trying to determine that the sun is a white dwarf, we're determining that the sun is a STAR. to parallel your argument would be that I'm trying to say that a fetus is a senior citizen. I'm not. there's a distinction between what the thing is (human) and the stages that it goes through (fetus, baby, teenager, adult, etc.)

Ok. If that is how you define human, than yes, a fetus is a human.

But in that case you are being extremely disingenuous. Because if you define human as "being part of the life cycle of humans" then yes, a fetus is a human. And I have no problem with that definition. But in the entire rest of your essay, you talk about human as if it is the same as 'person'.

So what you are doing is:
a) I define anything to be a star that is part of the natural life cycle of stars. So a main sequence star is a star, clearly, but so is a red giant, a white dwarf or a neutron star.
b) As everybody knows, stars fuel themselves by fusing hydrogen into helium in their cores.
c) White dwarfs are stars, as by the definition I gave in a).
d) From b) and c) it follows that white dwarfs have hydrogen-fusion in their cores.

Do you see the flaw with this argument? What you are doing is the exact same thing. You're expanding your definition of 'human' [star] beyond how it is used in every-day life. There is nothing inherently flawed with that. But than you take a property that every-day-humans [main sequence stars] have, namely personhood [hydrogen fusion], and conclude it must apply to all humans [stars]. That's a major logical error.

NO MATTER WHAT DEFINITIONS YOU USE, what you actually have to show is that a fetus has the rights associated with personhood. Whether you call this 'human' or 'person' or 'canned water bottle' is ultimately irrelevant.

But your essay doesn't address that point anywhere. You're completely and utterly ignoring it. You don't mention anywhere what properties one must have be a person. One generally accepted necessary condition is 'having higher brain functions'. Your essay doesn't even mention brains, brain development, consciousness, emotions, etc, etc. Not a single mention.



ztmario wrote:
Diadem wrote:
ztmario wrote:Imagine that a bean-sized human baby crawls from her womb, grasps and pulls itself along her pubic hair and finally comes to rest in her “pouch,” a pocket of skin that, for the purpose of our thought experiment, all human woman now have along their midsections. Imagine that newborn “fetus” grabbing at its mother’s nipple (now transplanted to the interior of her stomach pouch) and suckling it, as any newborn is apt to do. Now, imagine that mother reaching into her pouch, withdrawing the baby, and promptly squishing it between her fingers. Would you consider her to be within her rights to do this? Would this be substantially different than squishing the head of her other child, a nine month old who just recently emerged from the same pouch?

Interesting question.
ztmario wrote:The answer for most would be no, this is not all right.

Wait, you can't just do that. Pose a problem, then skip right on to whatever answer you like best without giving any argument. That's not reasoning, that's just stating opinions.

the truth is that this is really just entirely about opinions. in the end, the decision to kill something is a matter of opinion, no matter what it is. I'm just drawing parallels.

When I said "you can't do just do that" I did not mean it was wrong to do that, or that I thought you shouldn't do that. I meant that it is a logical error to do that: "I am going to proof A. Think about it, do you think not A? I don't. Therefore A". That's not a proof. That's restating your opinion in a obfuscated way. Sure you can have your opinions. But your stated goal was a logical proof. You are not giving one.

You are begging the question. Continuously, throughout your entire essay. You start out by assuming that a fetus is a person with human rights. Then you answer questions as "Does being a person depend on where the person is" or "Does being a person depend on what the law says" or "Does being a person depend on how other people treat them" (Bonus points for invoking the holocaust by the way) or "Does being a person depend on being dependent on others" or "Does being a person depend on being born or not". But all of that is utterly irrelevant as long as you have not shown that a fetus is, in fact, a person. And you have utterly and completed ignored that point throughout your entire essay.

ztmario wrote:
Diadem wrote:I'm going to leave the rest of the essay as it. You make a few more logical errors here and there (for example you're suddenly arguing from existing law while you opened with staying you weren't going to look at that). But it doesn't really matter. I think I've sufficiently demolished your main argument. Or rather, you never even made your argument in the first place. You skipped straight to the conclusion and argued the rest of your essay from there.

what you're reading IS the main argument. as I said before, I started at the earliest point where a human is agreed to be a person, and worked backwards trying to find the determining factor that removes them from personhood. I am actually surprised that you missed the whole premise I was arguing. the bulk of the essay is geared toward answering that question. it's not something I could knock out of the way in the first paragraph. once you come to the conclusion that a fetus is a person, the argument is over. this is what I was trying to determine the entire length of the way.

That would be a valid way of going about it. Except that you haven't actually looked at any of the properties that define personhood. Your working your way backwards shouting 'this is a person! this is also a person! this is also a person!' without actually looking into the claim, at all.

Also, you didn't start at the 'earliest point where a human is agreed to be a person', since it is in fact not clear that a newborn baby is a person. And the last bit is just wrong. Once you have proven personhood, you have only 1/5th done, as I explained somewhere at the start of this post.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:44 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:I'm confused about your objection?
As I said, bodily autonomy, in and of itself, is not a strong enough argument for abortion (in my mind) that you can say "even if they are full-blown people in the exact same sense that I am, abortion is still okay." I seriously doubt most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.

Citation Needed.

I'm not sure what you thought I meant to say, but I added the word I had initially left out in italics.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:The argument is really over how much of a person's rights should a fetus have, verses the bodily autonomy issue. It's a grey area. Some people want to "play it safe" by always letting the woman decide. Others want to "play it safe" by protected anything from implanted zygote on. Others have views in between, with things like viability laws, etc.

Not at all; the argument is about what we think is more important, the potential for life, or the rights of a woman to choose what to do with her body. There is gray area, there's an enormous fucking swatch of gray area. That doesn't mean it's your choice to lay any stipulations upon; no matter how much gray area there is, the choice should never be anyone's but the woman who is pregnant.

Unfortunately, you don't seem to recognize that irrespective of the extent of the grayness, that others should have no right to tell an individual what to do with themselves.

This has rather important ramifications in many other aspects of personal rights.
Izz, don't be an idiot. If everyone just viewed a fetus as "potential for life", there would be no mainstream argument. Clearly, bodily autonomy would win, because "potential for life" has no rights. Nobody actually believes "if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate".

As whether or not someone should have the right to tell an individual what to do with themselves... that is an argued point, but we're both in agreement on the point that no laws should be made about what an individual can do to zirself, assuming it doesn't negatively affect other people. Suicide should be legal. Smoking should be legal. But, there are restrictions on when and where you can smoke, and that's fine. There are restrictions on when and where you can fire a gun, and that's fine. It shouldn't be legal for me to shoot myself in the middle of the Capitol building when it's crowded. It could case all sorts of problems, not the least of which is the potential for killing another person when doing what I want with myself.

If someone wants to do something with themselves that would have a significant risk of killing another person who hasn't consented to being killed, it should be illegal, yes?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby DSenette » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:14 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:I'm confused about your objection?
As I said, bodily autonomy, in and of itself, is not a strong enough argument for abortion (in my mind) that you can say "even if they are full-blown people in the exact same sense that I am, abortion is still okay." I seriously doubt most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.
(easier to get that quote from the above post than to scroll up, if it's out of context, shoot me)

why not? if somehow a full grown adult found a way to implant themselves inside of your body (not the violinist, or the conjoined twin, et al, a full grown adult completely inside of your body) what would your rights be?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:19 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:
Роберт wrote:I'm confused about your objection?
As I said, bodily autonomy, in and of itself, is not a strong enough argument for abortion (in my mind) that you can say "even if they are full-blown people in the exact same sense that I am, abortion is still okay." I seriously doubt most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.
(easier to get that quote from the above post than to scroll up, if it's out of context, shoot me)

why not? if somehow a full grown adult found a way to implant themselves inside of your body (not the violinist, or the conjoined twin, et al, a full grown adult completely inside of your body) what would your rights be?

If you did something that caused a full grown adult to be implanted in your body against their will, and the only way to get them out safely was essentially pregnancy and labor, would you be allowed to kill the adult instead to get it out without having to go through that?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:19 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:I'm not sure what you thought I meant to say, but I added the word I had initially left out in italics.

Haha, I'm sure you can understand why your typo led me to ask for a citation needed. That said, given your new revised statement is;
Роберт wrote:I seriously doubt most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.

I still think you need to pull up a Citation on that. The assumption that most women getting abortions are doing so because they've managed to rationalize the fetus away as important is insulting to the decision some/many women undergo.
Роберт wrote:Izz, don't be an idiot. If everyone just viewed a fetus as "potential for life", there would be no mainstream argument. Clearly, bodily autonomy would win, because "potential for life" has no rights. Nobody actually believes "if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate".

I think you're being an idiot if you think this is actually true. As ztmario has pointed out for us, many people think the potential for life is the equivalent of an actual life, and base their opposition to abortion on this opinion.
And dude, if you seriously believe that there's no biblical opposition to masturbation, then I think I'm done discussing this with you. You need to become a little more aware of the reality of the scope of some anti-abortion arguments. In this very thread, ztmario's essay included the analogy that an acorn should be considered a full fledged oak tree. Or rather, that a germinated acorn is simply 'not at a developmental stage that we would consider it a tree, but it is still a tree'. So before you call me an idiot, check your own awareness of the arguments being made.
Роберт wrote:If someone wants to do something with themselves that would have a significant risk of killing another person who hasn't consented to being killed, it should be illegal, yes?

By that logic, a woman miscarrying should be illegal. Not surprisingly, trying to apply that brand of logic to the topic of pregnancy/abortion fails, because it fails to understand how reality works. A woman may not have consented to a fetus hijacking her biology, and a fetus has no ability to consent to anything. Just like we don't like severely mentally handicapped people vote, and indeed, even has restrictions on the rights of people who are younger than 18 years of age, a fetuses 'will', to drift heavily into the hypothetical (and actually, entirely 'potential'), is not something that should be considered. The only thing that should be considered is the actual will of the mother.

Also, Peter, I'm going to stop you right there; you're dangerously going back to that old argument we had about 'if a woman doesn't want the child, why not just carry it to term and give it up for adoption'. If you continue down that road, I'm going to just keep linking the previous discussion to you.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:30 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:I'm not sure what you thought I meant to say, but I added the word I had initially left out in italics.

Haha, I'm sure you can understand why your typo led me to ask for a citation needed. That said, given your new revised statement is;
Роберт wrote:I seriously doubt most people getting abortions feel they are ending the life of something that is as much of a person as they are.

I still think you need to pull up a Citation on that.
It was an unfortunate typo, but now that it's been clarified.... I DON'T in fact need to provide citations to prove what things I doubt. You'll have to trust me on what I doubt and what I don't. You won't find any more reputable sources than me.


Izawwlgood wrote: The assumption that most women getting abortions are doing so because they've managed to rationalize the fetus away as important is insulting to the decision some/many women undergo.

I didn't say they rationalized it away as unimportant.
Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:Izz, don't be an idiot. If everyone just viewed a fetus as "potential for life", there would be no mainstream argument. Clearly, bodily autonomy would win, because "potential for life" has no rights. Nobody actually believes "if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate".

I think you're being an idiot if you think this is actually true. As ztmario has pointed out for us, many people think the potential for life is the equivalent of an actual life, and base their opposition to abortion on this opinion.
And dude, if you seriously believe that there's no biblical opposition to masturbation, then I think I'm done discussing this with you.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Biblical opposition to masturbation" but I'm quite aware that there are mainstream Christian belief that masturbation is wrong. But it is not because masturbation is a waste of potential life, it's because of their views on sex and lust. Masturbation, nocturnal emission, whatever, that sperm is potential life that dies, and I see no mainstream person arguing that eggs and sperm that are not going to be fertilized any time soon should be cyrogenically frozen, or otherwise lamenting the loss of potential life when women reach 25 without marrying and having kids. The fact that people oppose masturbation proves nothing about "potential life" being a thing.

Izawwlgood wrote:
You need to become a little more aware of the reality of the scope of some anti-abortion arguments. In this very thread, ztmario's essay included the analogy that an acorn should be considered a full fledged oak tree. Or rather, that a germinated acorn is simply 'not at a developmental stage that we would consider it a tree, but it is still a tree'. So before you call me an idiot, check your own awareness of the arguments being made.

Don't worry, I don't plan on calling you an idiot. But notice ztmario's worldview. An acorn is just an acorn, but a germinated acorn is not a "potential tree", it is a tree. That example proves my point, not yours.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:If someone wants to do something with themselves that would have a significant risk of killing another person who hasn't consented to being killed, it should be illegal, yes?

By that logic, a woman miscarrying should be illegal.
Really? I never realized that the law never took intentions into account. I thought that accidental deaths were treated differently than first degree murder.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:45 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:It was an unfortunate typo, but now that it's been clarified.... I DON'T in fact need to provide citations to prove what things I doubt. You'll have to trust me on what I doubt and what I don't. You won't find any more reputable sources than me.

Fine, I'll fix my request:
Citation Needed to support your doubts.
I can state "I believe the sky is made of tulips!" all I want, but until I provide you some reasoning for why I would think such a thing, it remains an unsubstantiated opinion. Provide evidence to support your opinion, or declare it to be based on nothing but your own anecdotal observations and thus something completely ignorable.
Роберт wrote: The fact that people oppose masturbation proves nothing about "potential life" being a thing.

The fact that ztmario has written an essay talking about how conception equals human indicates that there are at least some people who believe this to be true. That various STATES have at various times tried to put forth legislation to try and define life as early as conception indicates that at least some people feel this to be true.
Роберт wrote:Don't worry, I don't plan on calling you an idiot. But notice ztmario's worldview. An acorn is just an acorn, but a germinated acorn is not a "potential tree", it is a tree. That example proves my point, not yours.

You have successfully bamboozled me; how exactly do you think ztmario's worldview (germinated acorn is a tree) supports your point, and not my point that some people think 'potential for life equals human'?
Роберт wrote:Really? I never realized that the law never took intentions into account. I thought that accidental deaths were treated differently than first degree murder.

I think you must be painfully unaware of... reality... do you not remember Mississippi's Personhood bill?
Also, notice I was carrying on from your flawed hypothetical; say you killed yourself in such a way that killed another, non-consenting human being; surely the law would recognize said suicide as not being 'first degree murder of other person'. Surely making suicide illegal is also pretty fucking pointless?

EDIT: This tangent with you is pretty pointless. I'm done arguing with you. Ztmario has posted an essay with some logical flaws and I have responded to those flaws. If you want to address why those flaws are not flaws, and support them, then do so. But I'm not getting involved in another semantics back and forth with you, and I'm not interested in repeating the arguments we had in previous abortion threads.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:55 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:Don't worry, I don't plan on calling you an idiot. But notice ztmario's worldview. An acorn is just an acorn, but a germinated acorn is not a "potential tree", it is a tree. That example proves my point, not yours.

You have successfully bamboozled me; how exactly do you think ztmario's worldview (germinated acorn is a tree) supports your point, and not my point that some people think 'potential for life equals human'?
Pay careful attention. ztmario did not think of a germinated acorn as a potential tree. He thought of it as an actual tree. Are you following me so far? He doesn't view a fetus as a potential person, he views it as an actually, relevant, current person. Not "potential to become a person".

If you can grock that point, I might try to clarify some of the other points that you are also misunderstanding. If you can't get this, than I'm fairly certain that any other attempts at clarification would be an equal waste of time.

Izawwlgood wrote: Surely making suicide illegal is also pretty fucking pointless?
I don't get your point, since I said suicide should be legal.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:48 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Pay careful attention. ztmario did not think of a germinated acorn as a potential tree. He thought of it as an actual tree. Are you following me so far? He doesn't view a fetus as a potential person, he views it as an actually, relevant, current person. Not "potential to become a person".

If you can grock that point, I might try to clarify some of the other points that you are also misunderstanding. If you can't get this, than I'm fairly certain that any other attempts at clarification would be an equal waste of time.

Роберт wrote:Anyway, my point is, in the exact same way that it's foolish to think that personhood is there 100% at the moment after birth and there 0% at the moment before, it's foolish to think personhood is there 100% at the moment after and 0% before ANY event, be it fertilization of the egg, implantation, etc. It might make sense to assign some % at certain milestones. Heartbeat, nervous system development, birth, etc, ability to communicate, etc.

Again, why do you think ztmario's belief that a germinated acorn is an actual tree supports your position? Your position, as you have presented it, is that personhood is not a binary. Ztmario is saying that it is; that once something has the potential to be become the thing that it will become, it is to be considered that thing. That an germinated acorn, because it can eventually become an oak tree, should be considered an oak tree.
This is in CONTRAST to your position, that you yourself argued, that... the above bolded.

Роберт wrote:I don't get your point, since I said suicide should be legal.

You did not say suicide should be legal, end statement, you provided compounding factors that altered what you felt the legality of suicide should be:
Роберт wrote: Suicide should be legal. Smoking should be legal. But, there are restrictions on when and where you can smoke, and that's fine. There are restrictions on when and where you can fire a gun, and that's fine. It shouldn't be legal for me to shoot myself in the middle of the Capitol building when it's crowded. It could case all sorts of problems, not the least of which is the potential for killing another person when doing what I want with myself.

If someone wants to do something with themselves that would have a significant risk of killing another person who hasn't consented to being killed, it should be illegal, yes?

I might be making assumptions here, but the bolded parts of your statement indicate, strongly, that you believe impacting the consent of another entity is a bad thing (odd, because I believe you are arguing FOR a fetus here, while ignoring a human woman). Now, the poor analogy of 'suicide in a public space that hurts others' aside, what you are stating here, in the context of a discussion of abortion, is that a woman's right to exercise her bodily autonomy is LIMITED when applied to a 'non-consenting' fetus. If I have misinterpreted your statements, then please clarify.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Роберт » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:17 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:Pay careful attention. ztmario did not think of a germinated acorn as a potential tree. He thought of it as an actual tree. Are you following me so far? He doesn't view a fetus as a potential person, he views it as an actually, relevant, current person. Not "potential to become a person".

If you can grock that point, I might try to clarify some of the other points that you are also misunderstanding. If you can't get this, than I'm fairly certain that any other attempts at clarification would be an equal waste of time.

Роберт wrote:Anyway, my point is, in the exact same way that it's foolish to think that personhood is there 100% at the moment after birth and there 0% at the moment before, it's foolish to think personhood is there 100% at the moment after and 0% before ANY event, be it fertilization of the egg, implantation, etc. It might make sense to assign some % at certain milestones. Heartbeat, nervous system development, birth, etc, ability to communicate, etc.

Again, why do you think ztmario's belief that a germinated acorn is an actual tree supports your position? Your position, as you have presented it, is that personhood is not a binary. Ztmario is saying that it is; that once something has the potential to be become the thing that it will become, it is to be considered that thing. That an germinated acorn, because it can eventually become an oak tree, should be considered an oak tree.
This is in CONTRAST to your position, that you yourself argued, that... the above bolded.
I see the confusion. My point is the abortion argument will always have to be about when what level of person-hood is obtained in human development, and it's an argument about the appropriate the rights of a "person" to "life" vs the right to "bodily autonomy".

Which you disagreed with, and said
Not at all; the argument is about what we think is more important, the potential for life, or the rights of a woman to choose what to do with her body.


That's exactly what we were arguing about.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Роберт wrote:I don't get your point, since I said suicide should be legal.

You did not say suicide should be legal, end statement, you provided compounding factors that altered what you felt the legality of suicide should be:

Okay, I'm really not getting where you're going here? Should I be allowed to curl my index finger? Sure. But there are compounding factors (finger is on the trigger of a loaded gun that is aimed at someone who doesn't deserve to be shot) that affect the legality of what I'm allowed to do with my own finger.

Now, the abortion debate really boils down to arguments about how the rights of a person should be defended, and who counts as a person. The logic flaw in the essay is that he thinks he proves that a fetus should count 100% as a person but does nothing of the sort.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:20 pm UTC

Роберт wrote: The logic flaw in the essay is that he thinks he proves that a fetus should count 100% as a person but does nothing of the sort.

I see no reason to continue arguing miscommunications or flawed arguments with you.

The above statement is true; ztmario's essay has significant holes in his essay, that have been pointed out. ztmario, how do you respond?
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby elasto » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:12 am UTC

I agree. Just because something is human (and I think we all agree a foetus is human) it doesn't mean it deserves human rights. And even if it does deserve human rights it's not clear that, where one human's rights bump up against another's, whose rights should be pre-eminent.

This is why an article such as the OP's can't come to any definite conclusion on the matter: It is seeking to argue that a foetus is human (when I don't think anyone was really in any doubt on that fact) whereas the real argument is over whether a foetus has human rights: whether it is a person - to use this thread's terminology. That is something that reasonable and rational people can disagree on (as well as unreasonable and irrational people!)

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:25 am UTC

ztmario wrote:and I actually do go about this by starting with the closest example of a human that's accepted as a person (as a newborn) and working backwards to determine when it would logically CEASE to be a person.

the problem is that you're using the definition of death. you shouldn't be. find what the medical definition is of life, and compare it that way. they're two separate things.

First, I want to point out that these are only equally indirect measures. They both begin with the assumption that an ordinary adult human is "special," and then work to identify a case where that value is unwarranted. It's very hard to attack one and defend the other - which you've put yourself in the position of having to do. But beyond that, you've also set this up so that the only acceptable answer is an absolute, black and white moment of change; you're assuming too much about the shape of the solution, which works well for you when you want to prove that it can't exist.

Second, you don't mean "medical definition." What you're describing is a moral or philosophical definition. Medical science, like all science, is descriptive and doesn't tell us what we ought to think about the facts; it only gives us the facts in the first place. You can't discover a moral code or a human right. They're things created by people.

Third, on the basis of that last point, you really are working backwards by assuming that status as a valued thing in society is a default position. That status is a thing granted by society for society's own good. There is no single inherent property that defines it, because it is not itself directly caused by any inherent properties. Or, I guess, you're assuming that human life is valuable and working from that premise to prove that zygotes qualify as human, when in reality, you should be questioning what (if anything!) makes human life valuable in the first place. I don't mean what makes a thing "human" - I mean, accepting that someone is human, what makes us recognize that as valuable?

Definitions are little use for that, and determining what a thing "is" is even worse, because you're trying to insist that a definition has by itself a bearing on the thing it describes.

By chance, I just read Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's "The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers" in Sagan's Billions & Billions. You can, too, here. If you're serious about following this line of reasoning you've presented, I highly recommend you do, because there's very little if anything you're presenting that it doesn't address and some historical background worth getting into not touched on here.

Edit: So you're warned, the above link does lead to an illegally reproduced copy of the text buried under a host of pop-up ads and Millionth Visitor banners.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Diadem » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:59 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:By chance, I just read Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's "The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers" in Sagan's Billions & Billions. You can, too, here. If you're serious about following this line of reasoning you've presented, I highly recommend you do, because there's very little if anything you're presenting that it doesn't address and some historical background worth getting into not touched on here.

He gives a nice historical overview, and gives a few well-thought out and interesting answers.

But he also makes a number of huge glaring logical errors and omissions. I know hardly anything about Carl Sagan, but isn't he supposed to be this great, big, heroic figure of science? If so, I am disappoint. It's a good essay, for sure, but falls far short of outstanding.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:22 am UTC

elasto wrote:I agree. Just because something is human (and I think we all agree a foetus is human) it doesn't mean it deserves human rights.

While I agree with your final statement, calling a fetus a human made me /headdesk so hard.
elasto wrote:It is seeking to argue that a foetus is human (when I don't think anyone was really in any doubt on that fact)

I am someone who entirely doubts that fact. A fetus is not a human. A germinated acorn is not an oak tree.
Copper Bezel wrote:Second, you don't mean "medical definition." What you're describing is a moral or philosophical definition. Medical science, like all science, is descriptive and doesn't tell us what we ought to think about the facts; it only gives us the facts in the first place. You can't discover a moral code or a human right. They're things created by people.

This is an unbelievably important point; if you're going to try and argue things like 'a fetus is a person' you are mincing medical terminology with your biblical era morality. It's a flawed methodology, and a lesson in stupidity.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Copper Bezel wrote:By chance, I just read Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's "The Question of Abortion: A Search for Answers" in Sagan's Billions & Billions. You can, too, here. If you're serious about following this line of reasoning you've presented, I highly recommend you do, because there's very little if anything you're presenting that it doesn't address and some historical background worth getting into not touched on here.

He gives a nice historical overview, and gives a few well-thought out and interesting answers.

But he also makes a number of huge glaring logical errors and omissions. I know hardly anything about Carl Sagan, but isn't he supposed to be this great, big, heroic figure of science? If so, I am disappoint. It's a good essay, for sure, but falls far short of outstanding.

Well, it's an old essay, and he's dead now. My understanding, too, is that he wasn't uniquely capable as a scientist - he was just the only then-current scientist that anyone on the street could name for some time due to his public image. He was exceptional at the time as an educator, popularizer, and interdisciplinarian (the last because his field, exobiology, was new, so he was one of a few oddballs at the time who trained in biochemistry and astronomy at the same time.) Again, my understanding of the thing.

The essay doesn't touch on the violin player thought experiment (new to me as of this thread) but what else do Sagan and Druyan miss? I thought it was a fairly good argument otherwise.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby elasto » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:59 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
elasto wrote:I agree. Just because something is human (and I think we all agree a foetus is human) it doesn't mean it deserves human rights.

While I agree with your final statement, calling a fetus a human made me /headdesk so hard.
elasto wrote:It is seeking to argue that a foetus is human (when I don't think anyone was really in any doubt on that fact)
I am someone who entirely doubts that fact. A fetus is not a human. A germinated acorn is not an oak tree.

I was quite careful with my language: Something being human and something being a human is a quite different thing. I said the former and you said the latter :)

Skin cells can be human but that doesn't mean they're a human. That's the entire reason I can say something can be human but not deserve human rights.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby morriswalters » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:20 pm UTC

If you can say with authority that a fetus isn't a human then tell me when it becomes human. If you can't do that then it's a matter of opinion, nothing else.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby ahammel » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:26 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:If you can say with authority that a fetus isn't a human then tell me when it becomes human. If you can't do that then it's a matter of opinion, nothing else.

No, if we can't do that then it's a paradox of the heap. Just becuase there is no x such that x grains of sand is a heap and x-1 grains of sand is not a heap, it doesn't mean that "a grain of sand" and "a heap of sand" are not distinct concepts.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Meteoric » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:33 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:If you can say with authority that a fetus isn't a human then tell me when it becomes human. If you can't do that then it's a matter of opinion, nothing else.

To do this, we must first agree on a specific definition of what "a human" is. As this entire thread indicates, that is a very nontrivial task. However, based on what most people seem to think "a human" means, we can say that a fetus is definitely not a human, and a living child at some stage of development definitely is, so the transition occurs somewhere in between, even though individual disagreements on the definition make it impossible to choose a single point at which that transition occurred.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:39 pm UTC

Yeah, there's semantic quibbling, and then there's equivocation, and that argument is the latter. I think it's unnecessary to claim that a fetus isn't "a human." Again, a corpse is "a human", too. The semantics don't matter. But making policy decisions based on consistent definitions very much does matter. "Personhood", the running political term, is actually more accurate. But of course, as we've seen demonstrated, even a fetus that is somehow identified as a person doesn't necessarily warrant legal protection.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

elasto wrote:I was quite careful with my language: Something being human and something being a human is a quite different thing. I said the former and you said the latter :)

Skin cells can be human but that doesn't mean they're a human. That's the entire reason I can say something can be human but not deserve human rights.

That's a curious semantic distinction. Is a brick a house? I don't think cells (component parts) are the same as the whole. That's rather the point. And the thing that makes it a particularly interesting thought experiment with human beings is that even a physically complete human (eyes, heart, GI tract, thumbs!) doesn't neccesarily make a human.

If your argument hinges on the placement of an 'a', I think you're in a slippery place, personally. We probably have the same sentiments on the matter, but I would not consider skin cells 'human'. I would consider them skin cells from a Homo sapien. Or a Homo sapien zygote/fetus. That's not the same as 'human'.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby morriswalters » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:09 pm UTC

Everybody knows what to do, but nobody can agree on which what. SCOTUS picked the only point which rationality and fact point to, viability.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby omgryebread » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:10 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:If you did something that caused a full grown adult to be implanted in your body against their will, and the only way to get them out safely was essentially pregnancy and labor, would you be allowed to kill the adult instead to get it out without having to go through that?
Engaging in action of which X may be a consequence is not equivalent to consenting to X. Leaving my door unlocked would enable you to take my TV. This does not make leaving my door unlocked consenting to having my TV taken, nor does it allow you to establish any claim on my TV. The distinction of "against their will" is largely irrelevant. Changing our scenario, a bit, leaving my door unlocked allows you to kill me in my sleep. If my downstairs neighbor finally gets tired of my music and forces you to kill me in my sleep if my door is unlocked, you still do not have the right to do so. If I were to wake up and kill you instead, I would not be in the wrong, even though you were innocent in this case. Removing the malevolent actor of my downstairs neighbor doesn't change the scenario either, since in conception there is no malevolent actor (unless, I suppose, you believe that a deity is responsible for the conception. In which case said deity is the at-fault party, for both the bodily invasion of the woman and the unconsented ensoulment of the zygote, and said deity should be prosecuted as such.)
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby yurell » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:03 am UTC

elasto wrote:I was quite careful with my language: Something being human and something being a human is a quite different thing. I said the former and you said the latter :)


This is why I prefer to stick to human & person as my two distinguishers, to avoid making it look like a play semantics.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby morriswalters » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:57 am UTC

Draw a line between being human and being a person. When do you stop being an organism and become something else?

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:26 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Draw a line between being human and being a person. When do you stop being an organism and become something else?


A human is a biological classification. A person is a legal/moral one. If intelligent aliens came to visit us, we might well consider them persons, in that they are entitled to the same inherent rights as humans are. Despite being persons, however, they would certainly not be human.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Lucrece » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:53 am UTC

That seems like splitting hairs. We treat aliens with the benefits allowed to humans ("personhood") because they're humanoid, or have human-like qualities (developing intelligence and self-awareness) and we can relate to them as a result. Still would be an alien -- and I doubt many people would regard Talking Octopus Head a person however amicably we could carry out relations with said organisms.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:01 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Everybody knows what to do, but nobody can agree on which what. SCOTUS picked the only point which rationality and fact point to, viability.

This is quite annoying to state; Roe vs Wade established something about third trimester viability, but unless nothing in abortion legislation has changed in the 40 years since, I wager hand waving some 'rationality and factual' point of viability is pretty dumb. The third trimester abortions are still illegal (as of 2003 anyway, according to the wiki) for doctors to perform, with an obnoxious clause granting exception if the 'woman's life is threatened'. This is particularly obnoxious due to this graph

The important thing to remember is that as soon as the third trimester starts, mothers are nothing but incubators with no choice in the matter, because that ball of cells that is starting to resemble a bulbous half formed Homo sapien, yeah, that's an important entity worth usurping her bodily autonomy for.
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:17 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Draw a line between being human and being a person. When do you stop being an organism and become something else?

Again, semantics are fuzzy, but the sheer fuzziness of semantics can't paralyze us to be unable to make any decisions based on ideas we express in words. Language is not math, where you can freely interchange equivalent values and manipulate statements freely according to a certain set of consistent rules. It doesn't ultimately matter what you call things, because the categories are arbitrary, so long as the decisions are self-consistent. Again, things start being something that we call "a human" in a long, fuzzy process with no clear line of demarcation. But we use the term "a human" in a lot of contexts, and we can't define it just on the basis of this or that specific question.

"Life," "a human," "a person"; all of those things have different connotations from each other, and each means different things in different contexts. Thinking that a question like this one is going to be simple if you can just find the right term and define it the right way is foolish. The question, ultimately, isn't about semantics. It's better to answer the question first and worry about the semantics, if you care to, separately.

You're implying that defining something that is unquestionably "a human" as not "a person" could lead to further arguments based on similar equivocation and rob individuals of personhood on the basis of weak semantic arguments. But the point is that the equivocation shouldn't be happening in the first place, and no one is making this argument on the basis of semantics in the first place.

What we're really talking about is whether this or that should be considered "an individual being that warrants legal protection", or some similarly clunky and situationally specific construction. "Person" could be an appropriate shorthand for that. Or it might not be. Really, the precision of the terminology matters a lot less than the question being asked. And no matter how precise you think your terminology is, it will result in contradictions if you push it far enough. This has already been addressed with the word "pile." You can, for specific purposes, define a "pile" as four grains of rice, and not have any contradictions - you always know whether something constitutes a pile, and taking the fourth-to-last grain away is the point at which the "pile" stops existing. But that's attaching an arbitrary, absolute value to something that's a fuzzy word that simply doesn't contain that value in the way we use it in ordinary speech.

If you unpack it, then yes, the contention is that "a unique, living member of the species Homo sapiens" is not always "an individual being that warrants legal protection." But that's not even a controversial statement. (For instance, as mentioned earlier in this thread, it's one thing to oppose IVF programs. It's another thing entirely - something I don't think I've ever seen even suggested - to propose that all zygotes produced by IVF have a legal right to be carried to term. Or, for the half of pregnancies that end in miscarriage, we don't go through the paperwork of reporting an accidental death and putting out an obituary, let alone try the mother for manslaughter.)
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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby elasto » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:22 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:If your argument hinges on the placement of an 'a', I think you're in a slippery place, personally. We probably have the same sentiments on the matter, but I would not consider skin cells 'human'. I would consider them skin cells from a Homo sapien. Or a Homo sapien zygote/fetus. That's not the same as 'human'.

Really? So if you were writing a tv crime drama and there was a blood stain on the floor, you wouldn't have one character ask 'Is it human blood?' and the other replying 'yes, it's human.' you'd have them say 'blood from a homo sapien'?

Likewise, if a bone from a fetus was unearthed you wouldn't have the characters talk about 'having found a human bone', you'd have them talk about 'having found a homo sapien fetus bone'?

To me, 'human' as an adjective has a hugely different meaning from 'a human' as a noun. I would regard a fertilised egg cell as human but not yet a human.

(If you still disagree we must be from countries with quite different language conventions I guess)

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby morriswalters » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:32 pm UTC

I imply nothing. I state as an absolute that it is impossible to point to a place where personhood occurs. Neither is Roe v Wade a perfect solution. The point being that it was the only place were facts ruled over opinions.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Soralin » Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:22 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I imply nothing. I state as an absolute that it is impossible to point to a place where personhood occurs. Neither is Roe v Wade a perfect solution. The point being that it was the only place were facts ruled over opinions.

But it's not impossible to see where it's clearly not. Or are you arguing that you can't say that a table is not a person, or a rock is not a person? One clear point is, where we know there does not exist a mind, that there does not exist a person.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby Xeio » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:14 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:That seems like splitting hairs. We treat aliens with the benefits allowed to humans ("personhood") because they're humanoid, or have human-like qualities (developing intelligence and self-awareness) and we can relate to them as a result. Still would be an alien -- and I doubt many people would regard Talking Octopus Head a person however amicably we could carry out relations with said organisms.
If it helps, you could just read "person" as "granted all the rights and privileges granted to a living adult human". It's inconsequential what this would mean colloquially if this is the legal term*.

*Though the legal term may differ outside of the US, I don't know.

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Re: Abortion Essay

Postby morriswalters » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:56 am UTC

Soralin wrote:
morriswalters wrote:I imply nothing. I state as an absolute that it is impossible to point to a place where personhood occurs. Neither is Roe v Wade a perfect solution. The point being that it was the only place were facts ruled over opinions.

But it's not impossible to see where it's clearly not. Or are you arguing that you can't say that a table is not a person, or a rock is not a person? One clear point is, where we know there does not exist a mind, that there does not exist a person.


You know no such thing. It may well be that a fetus is an empty vessel waiting to be filled. Does the fact that it has no contents mean that the vessel is not what it is. I don't mean to be contrary, or perhaps I do. But it is not as simple as saying that we know when a person exists, the mind is a product of the body. It can't be a mind unless it it filled with experience. When does that sum total of experience constitute personhood? Arguing that a person is not a rock is disingenuous. When is a person a person? If this was an easy question there wouldn't be this debate.


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