Get A Life, Part 1

This is the first of a three part series on common defenses of abortion.  Read: Part 2 and Part 3.

Many subjects can elicit an array of emotions with varying degrees of passion.  I think those passions can often cloud and complicate what should more often than not, be a rather simple issue.  It might come as a surprise — then again, it might not — that I think one of the most volatile issues debated today is very simple, and only appears complex because of an insatiable desire to get the other side to see it through your own glasses.

To me, the debate over whether abortion is morally good, benign, or immoral, is as clear as any issue can be.

  • Taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong
  • Elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being without proper justification
  • Therefore, elective abortion is morally wrong

It would seem that the intricacies which make up defenses for abortion are really an effort to deny the obvious.  In this three-part series, I will address three of the most offered defenses of elective abortion (abortion on demand for non-life threatening reasons).  1) We don’t know when life really begins and, a fertilized egg – fetus is not a human.  2) Until a certain point, the zygote, blastocyst, embryo is just a collection of cells in principle no different from fingernails or skin cells.  And, 3) A fetus is not a person worthy of protection.

The first objection: We don’t really know when life begins — a fertilized egg is not a human being.  The objection implies that we (understood to mean scientists) have not determined when life begins.  Therefore since we cannot be certain, it is unfair to restrict a woman from obtaining an abortion if she so chooses.  There are two parts to this particular defense.  First, there is uncertainty as to when the beginning of life takes place.  And second, that because of that uncertainty, we cannot say abortion is morally wrong.

Is it true that because we don’t know, we cannot say abortion is morally wrong?  This seems intuitively wrong and actually serves as a reason to not allow abortion.  Let’s say it’s the middle of the night and you are awakened by noises in the living room.  You can’t really tell what it is so you grab your pistol that you keep for protection and slowly make your way into the hallway.  Your spouse reminds you that it could be one of your three children, or even the family pet.  It is so dark, you can’t even see your hand in front of your face.  Would it be responsible to aimlessly fire your weapon into the darkness not knowing beforehand if it was one of your children?  Would not a reasonable person at least make sure before pulling the trigger?  Would you be willing to take that chance?

Can we know when life begins?  According to Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania to the Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session 1981, stated:

I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life….

I am no more prepared to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty…is not a human being. This is human life at every stage.

The same report concluded,

Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.

An entry in WebMd.com notes:

At the moment of fertilization, your baby’s genetic make-up is complete, including its sex….Within 24-hours after fertilization, the egg begins dividing rapidly into many cells.

Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoa development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.

A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)….[B]irth is merely a dramatic event during development resulting in a change of environment.

In the Womb, National Geographic, 2005.

The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual’s unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated.

As it turns out, contrary to the objection, we do know when life begins.  And we know what it is that now exists at the point of conception, a genetically complete living human being.  What we do not have is a human being that looks fully mature.  But why should we expect it to look fully mature, it’s not.  Its life has just begun.  Medically speaking, a fertilized egg is not a potential life, it is already alive.  This is evidenced by the biological function which begins immediately, i.e., the outer layer changing composition to prevent additional sperm from entering the ovum; the rapid cell division, etc.  Biological function is only possible if life is present.

Dna determines what a living thing is.  At the point of fertilization, there is a complete sequence of dna.  At no time in development will it gain any more genetic information.  At conception, the fertilized egg is fully genetically human.  This is not a potential human.  It is a potential embryo.  A potential fetus.  A potential infant.  A potential toddler.  A potential adolescent.  A potential teenager.  A potential adult.  It is fully human and potentially mature.  But maturity doesn’t determine value either.  For that matter, a 10 year-old girl whose reproductive system is not as biologically mature as a 17 year-old teen is not less valuable.

A human being is valuable in virtue of being a member of the human family.  The only difference between a fertilized egg and a fully grown adult is degree of maturity.  Taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong.  Elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.  Elective abortion is morally wrong.

Comments

  1. I agree from the outset with your objection to the three common reasons given in support of abortion-on-demand (AoD).

    I use to live in Japan where abortion is a huge industry, taken lightly by the population. I’ve had family members work in abortion clinics as translators and though sympathetic with abortion, were disgusted by its casual treatment of life.

    I think that abortion must be called murder in the same sense that killing a chicken for dinner could almost be called murder. I think abortion points to the obvious fact that humans are uncertain how to treat human life — their own or others.

    I have always been torn on abortion. I see its misuse and I see it helping to avoid a great deal of suffering. But I have always be leery of utilitarian logic. I am personally against abortion (philosophically and by personal history), yet I can not say I think we should legislate against it. Maybe I am just inconsistent or maybe there is something else I can’t put a finger on.

    • let me ask you a question to help show you something.

      Why are you personally against abortion? No other question by that. Why is Sabio personally against abortion?

  2. “…to help show you something.”
    OK, great teacher, (Odd rhetoric, John)

    Sabio has had to personally decide in his life what to do about abortion a few times (I will not go into the details). I decided against — because the value I placed on the potential life was great than the convenience an abortion offered.

    I think some animals will gladly eat their young (hamster ethics was a rude awakening for my children, of course!). Other animals would die for their young — larger mammals with smaller litters have that tendency. I think the intuition about this issue may be biological — not a matter of reason or divine revelation.

    But go ahead, John, “show me something”.

    • What do you mean the value of [potential] life is more valuable than convenience? It sounds like a preference, like ‘I took this street to my destination instead of that one because I like the scenery better’. Was it a moral issue, or preference issue?

      And dont be so condescending, I’ll lose interest pretty quick.

  3. Taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong
    Elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being without proper justification
    Therefore, elective abortion is morally wrong

    This is a faulty syllogism even if it is ultimately correct. In your syllogism, you assumed the following areas under dispute, as settled:

    1.. A fetus is a [sentient?] human worthy of all righted accorded therein.

    2.. Taking the life of an innocent human is always wrong. As a human, the fetus as rights equal to that of any human, even in what could arguably be termed: “Self-defense”

    3.. Elective Abortion is wrong because you think it takes the life of an innocent human. Even if one concedes that it does, that is the not necessarily the criteria for if it is wrong.

    Even if I ignore the fact that some people feel the child, while innocent, is a parasite that can justly be handled, an argument your syllogism ignores, you have moral imperatives which translate to axioms for you. Unless you are discussing the issue with someone else who has these same moral imperatives, your syllogism falls apart.

    It would seem that the intricacies which make up defenses for abortion are really an effort to deny the obvious.

    R.F. Laird strategically said, the best way to handle a skeptic is to accuse him of denial.

    I agree that this argument We don’t really know when life begins — a fertilized egg is not a human being. is really not a very good argument. You cannot rightfully suggest that it’s OK to kill someone because you are unsure whether he is a person. That argument is indeed very week.

    Is it true that because we don’t know, we cannot say abortion is morally wrong? Again, I agree that the logic is inverted. If we don’t know, then we cannot say abortion is morally OK on that basis. How silly. Again, I agree with you on this point.

    I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…

    Appeal to authority, and a bad one. The question of when life begins is philosophical, which is why science continues to fail to answer it. All of the “proofs” you mentioned are purely semantic and completely open to interpretation. What is right or wrong should never be dictated based on semantics or labels.

    As it turns out, contrary to the objection, we do know when life begins.

    Not only do we not know when human life begins, we cannot even agree on what it is, and science cannot answer the question.

    Dna determines what a living thing is. At the point of fertilization, there is a complete sequence of dna.

    I have made this exact argument myself because it confronts some arguments made by pro-choice advocates. However, it is only a rebuttal to their argument. It is not a proof unto itself. A human life is more than its chemical makeup, and we don’t know when that thing begins or even what it is. Cogito ergo sum.

    The only difference between a fertilized egg and a fully grown adult is degree of maturity.

    You argue the biological case for this very well and I agree with you. Unfortunately, I still don’t see the difference in wearing a condom or taking the morning after pill, because the effect is identical. The quandary is not biological. Were a full DNA code the answer to the question we seek, you would have made your case.

    [To Be Continued…]

  4. [Conclusion…]

    Even though your thesis was not proved, it was supported. You argued your case a million times better than almost everyone else, and you deserve recognition for that.

    Elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.

    Not proved at all. Just your opinion. I do agree with this, however: Elective abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.

    Elective abortion is morally wrong.

    I don’t know this to be true. I think abortions prior to the first month or so teeters on wrong’s edge for sure, and perhaps much earlier. I don’t know at what point it becomes wrong. The position of the fetus is an utterly irrelevant question. The potion of an egg whose fertilization I blocked with a condom was equal. However, at some point you are hurting a human, and at that point, it is very wrong without a very good reason; and we don’t know what point that is.

    You cherry-picked some arguments and addressed them. In the case of abortion, more than one human is always involved. That is the primary contention of the pro-choice realm. I assume parts II and III will address this core problem.

    [The End]

    • I’m not very fond of fisking posts, hopefully this is not a habit of yours. It takes too long to re-address and I’m not going to pursue a point by point back and forth, so I’ll address what I perceive to be your overall points of disagreement.

      I am not going to present an argument on the inherent value of human life. If you doubt it, or somehow think it is not a properly basic intuition, your moral compass is broken and I can’t fix it.

      So, taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong is a properly basic intuition. The rest of the syllogism both logically follows and the premeses are true. The argument is solid.

      Second, a fetus cannot be considered a parasite for the simple reason that the womb of a woman is its natural environment. That is where it is designed to reside, that is where it is created. Since the only means of creating a fetus is sexual intercourse (invetro excluded because every pregnancy from invetro is intended), the woman has given her implicit consent for the newly formed life. A woman’s uterus is the only place a fetus can develop. A parasite is an invader. The host of a parasite is not designed for a parasite to feed. There may be some side benefit to having a parasite, such as removing other smaller parasites, but the host’s body is not designed for being a host. The woman’s body is specifically designed for carrying babies while the develop.

      Life can be observed, and every biologist knows that if an object displays autonomous locomotion, at the least, the thing is alive. After all, my sneakers just sit there and do nothing of their own. Neither does plastic. But living organisms, such as cells do things of themselves, internally and externally. At fertilization the fertilized ovum begins immediate biological change. Things that are not alive cannot do this.

      Additionally, the sperm is a live cell prior to entering the egg, and the egg is a live cell itself. There has never been any evidence that the life-cycle ever ceases, it is a continuous process. But since a brand new fully genetically complete human organism comes into existence at the point the sperm enters the egg, that is precisely when life begins. Again evidenced by the immediate changes to the egg at the exact moment the sperm enters.

      But let’s assume that we don’t know for the sake of argument. Elective abortions happen well after the embryo is undisputably alive. Within a few days, there is no denying the fertilized egg is alive. It has already gone under massive developmental changes by that time, and the woman is still unaware she is pregnant. So this doesn’t even advance the cause for abortion because all surgical abortions happen after the life has undeniably begun anyway.

  5. John Barron,

    I seriously doubt you are going to “show” her anything she has not considered and dismissed long ago.

    I await this revelation as well.

    • @ John M

      It’s a shame you think Sabio is so stubborn and unopen to discussion. Sabio, I think JM is calling you narrow-minded.

      If not, this comment is useless and I think I might start removing tertiary ramblings. It seems to clutter thinks and pull conversations way off topic, a major pet-peeve of mine.

  6. I have not really thought about the abortion issue much, but for me, looking at other animals is a good beginning to understand how our “intuitions” and thus our variety of behaviors may have evolved.

    Using google scholar I found lots of ‘fun’ articles on “filial cannibalism” which may be partially behind the circuitry of human abortion ethics. And I’d wager that male circuitry for this infanticide would be very different from female. Thus discussing this topic is always complex because we are seldom aware of what drives our intuitions. Instead, reason is often a way to further conceal them.

    Nonetheless, here are examples of ‘fun’ articles:

    (1)Why some animals eat their offspring
    (2)Cannibalism in wild bonobos: a component of infanticide

    I forgot, John, if you think moral intuitions can come about by evolutionary mechanisms.

    PS: @ John Myste , I am a guy. I hope my comment here brings John back to instructing me. It seems he got side tracked by your thoughts. :-)

  7. @ John
    May I again suggest that when you make a comment, you should put an “@” symbol to tell us who you are addressing. It would help avoid confusion. thank you.

    I had never heard the word “Fisking” before — Wiki helped me. Interesting. Not sure what I think about it. Except to agree with you that since it is time consuming, if the person is not inviting in his/her style (thoughtful, courteous, interesting, etc..) I often ignore those sort of long replies.

    Sorry, now back to the thread:

    Interestingly, we have come to understand some of the problems of pregnancy (eg, hypertension) as a battle between the fetus and the mother- there is most certainly a parasitic relationship of sorts even if it is the fetus’s ‘natural’ and only home.

    Parasitic/symbiotic relations seems to drive far more in biology that we ever imagined.

    I wish you had a link to your post that summarizes your beliefs — I could look up what your views on evolution were — I forgot, sorry.

    • Sabio, you may suggest that I use the @, but if I forget I really don’t want the dentist’s lecture. I will do my best for you.

      I still want to know “What do you mean the value of [potential] life is more valuable than convenience? It sounds like a preference, like ‘I took this street to my destination instead of that one because I like the scenery better’. Was it a moral issue, or preference issue?”

      Until I find evolution relevant to this particular post, I will hold off on where I stand. I’d like to stay focused on the issue at hand. If you want to make some corrolation between abortion and the animal kingdom, you first must be arguing as though common descent is true. However, the reasons women give for why they sought abortion are so vacuous it makes me sick. (one of these things…)

  8. John:
    That is a good list of reasons people give. I wonder how the list would look if it were men who got pregnant — but such speculation is silly, because they wouldn’t be men, then, would they?

    I still want to know “What do you mean the value of [potential] life is more valuable than convenience? It sounds like a preference

    It is a preference. I think “morals” are largely rationalizations for preferences. We balance these preferences in relations with others and agendas and histories.

    I do not value human life because I am totally convinced it is more important than other life, but because I am human and it seems my natural disposition. My mind tells me it is deeper than that, but I am pretty sure that is a cognitive illusion.

    I hope that answers your question. I am not trying to be evasive.

    • @Sabio

      I coined the term dentist’s lecture to mean asking me in a passive aggressive manner to do something I know I am supposed to be doing that I didn’t do. I love the dentist and they love me. But I got the lecture when I was a kid.

      Anyway, if you think that list represents reasonable reasons to kill an innocent human being, then I am just at a loss. The relativism and pluralism of today’s society has produced a generation of people who cannot and outright refuse to strive to determine right from wrong. There’s no where else to go really. If it’s just personal preference that you didnt abort a baby, then that i sa scary notion. But it’s one shared by a horrifying amount of people. At least if you had an ethical principle that argued for the goodness of abortion, there is something to work with. But moral indifference about abortion and the value of human life is frightning. Sorry.

  9. @ John
    “Dentist’s lecture” <– LOL. I'd never that expression. I am learning so much here. So, do you have teeth problems? Maybe you need lectured. Smile

  10. @Mr. John Barron
    Dude, you are sooooo serious. I was kidding about the dentist, and the dental issues. “Passive Aggressive” is a curious classification. But I won’t pursue the attack. Lighten up, dude.

    I never said I thought that list was “reasonable” — I actually am equally put off by most of those reasons even if I understand them. I was saying that you made an accurate listing.

    If personal preference is “a scary notion”, then I contend that you are not aware very deeply of how your own mind works. You are right, “a horrifying amount of people” [John, your rhetoric piles up], actually do act largely out of preferences — I contend that ALL people do. Some just coat it with theology and philosophy in a tricky self-deceptive manner.

    You are right, I don’t have an “ethical principle” for you to sink your teeth in. It is just two neighbors discussing their preferences and trying to figure out what to do if we have differences.

    I don’t have indifference about the value of human life — we just layer up different reasons upon our non-indifference.

    Hope that was clear. Now go brush your teeth Johnny.

    • The dentist lecture comment was about you reminding me that I should be using the @. I know I should. I didnt think you were making any remarks about my oral hygine, for the record.

  11. @ John
    Yes, of course, duhh. Man, you can’t see behind the humor. I forgot, are you into IT or engineering — good professions for black-and-white serious personalities.

    But you did feel I was being passive-aggressive, apparently, Dr. Freud. Not sure what inspired that attack — unless you never listened to your dentist and it is a sensitive topic. Still kidding, dude.

  12. @John Barron,

    I’m not very fond of fisking posts, hopefully this is not a habit of yours.

    It is a habit, but I can detox.

    I am not going to present an argument on the inherent value of human life. If you doubt it, or somehow think it is not a properly basic intuition, your moral compass is broken and I can’t fix it.

    Whether the value of human life is more important than the woman’s need to choose is the question. No one questions that human life has value.

    So, taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong is a properly basic intuition.

    You are still mixing the concept of “taking a life” and “proper justification.” You have not answered any questions, thus far.

    The rest of the syllogism both logically follows and the premeses are true. The argument is solid. You dismissed the argument without addressing it and reaffirmed the syllogism.

    The reason people “fisk” is because often the alternative is to cherry-pick, as you have done, rendering the discussion meaningless. Cherry picking topics to address if fine, but cherry-picking points within the topic is not, unless you wish not to debate the topic, which is perfectly ok.

    a fetus cannot be considered a parasite for the simple reason that the womb of a woman is its natural environment.

    A parasite is: ” an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism” Some parasites naturally live off hosts. That does not invalidate them as a parasite.

    the woman has given her implicit consent for the newly formed life., no she agreed to orgasm.

    A woman’s uterus is the only place a fetus can develop. A parasite is an invader. So, is it your contention that anything that requires a host to survive cannot be classified as a parasite, as this is its “natural” habitat?

    The host of a parasite is not designed for a parasite to feed. You don’t get to define the term parasite. If this were universally true, how would you know?

    Life can be observed, and every biologist knows that if an object displays autonomous locomotion, at the least, the thing is alive.

    I initially agreed that the fetus was both alive and human. I am uncertain why you continue trying to prove it. Who are you trying to convince?

    You spent a lot of time arguing that you get to define the term parasite. The definition is not relevant, so you wasted your time. The concept is what matters, and regardless of your personal definition, the concept remains unchanged. The rest of your time was spent ignoring the points I made and instead trying to convince me of the points where I originally agreed with you.

    It’s a shame you think Sabio is so stubborn and unopen to discussion. Sabio, I think JM is calling you narrow-minded.

    Actually, I was calling Sabio more circumspect than you gave him credit for. Disagreeing with you is not the definition of narrow-minded. In fact, I cannot see how anyone could actually fully agree with you without closing their mind to logical analysis.

    • @ John M

      So are you not convinced that taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong?

      Perhaps if mad emore clear the points on which you agree I wouldn’t have spent so much time discussing those points. You seem to play devils advocate then hint that you arent really making the argument you just made. If you dont spend so much time making an argument you dont hold, we can actually get to the points of disagreement.

  13. Marshall Art says:

    There is some definite backward thinking here, as well as some bad assumptions. I will not worry about using “@”, for I believe we all know which comments each of us has made. So where I don’t properly direct my responses to the proper person…tough.

    Though some may set their codes of morality according to their preferences, many do not, but rather, they set aside their preferences until determining a source and/or basis for morality and act accordingly. From their, personal preferences do not disappear, but are controlled to conform with morality. I might still prefer to smack the crap out some wise guy, but my theology compels me to love my enemy. I might prefer to crush and dismember the microscopic body of my child via abortion, but my code of morality compels me to allow the child to live since both my theology and the constitution of my country states that it is endowed by God with the right to life.

    It is deceitful to insist that a woman (or a man with whom she is involved) having sex for pleasure only agrees to have a good time. To knowingly engage in the very act that is designed to bring about new human life is to be complicit in bringing about new human life. It might be one’s preference to regard intercourse as merely means of entertainment and personal pleasure, but that doesn’t change the reality of the purpose of the act.

    “Whether the value of human life is more important than the woman’s need to choose is the question. No one questions that human life has value.”

    “Need” to choose? That’s a new one. But regardless, the real question is whether or not person A has the right to terminate the life of person B if B isn’t first threatening A’s life. The circumstances that lead to A contemplating this “choice” is irrelevant. In the case of pregnancy, person B was invited by virtue of person A’s agreeing to engage in the very act that brought person B into existence. Unless person B’s existence is a direct threat to the life of person A, person A has no justifiable reason to terminate B’s life. This is true of pretty much every relationship between any person and any other. The fact that in this case person B is inside person A is not a special situation that grants A any righteous sovereignty over the life of person B. That’s definitely a case where someone’s preference determines their morality.

    There is also a massive difference between preventing conception, as with the use of a condom, and terminating a life, as with the use of a “morning after” abortifacient.

    Finally, looking to the animal kingdom in determining the morality of one’s preferences is about the cheapest and most insipid manner of rationalizing the killing of an innocent that can be used.

  14. @@@ – – Marshal – – @@@:
    I see the relationship of preferences and professed-moral-principle (PMP) must like the Escher drawing of two hands drawing each other.

    Also, conflicting desires, set up interesting behaviors. Indeed I may wish (prefer) to identify with the PMP of my version of Christianity and thus avoid slapping an enemy unless one desire overwhelms the other. That is why the moral behavior of Christians is so similar to non-Christians: preferences battle each other.

    When someone breaks their PMP, it is interesting to see the justifications they spin. None of those justifications have anything to do with the nature of the mind, but with spirits/devils, illness, lack of will and many more.

    It is deceitful to insist…

    I find it interesting that much like John, you are making character attacks in your comment. That is a very interesting argument style. And worse yet, because you refuse to use @ signs, we don’t know who you are talking to. I won’t wager what inner state has you making such a choice.

    The Value of Human Life
    I think that people take different positions on this issue because some people weigh the life-value of some different than others. I certainly do. When helping families decide about life choices and treatment choices, many will operate on an unspoken assumption that the person’s life in their 80s or 90s is not as valuable as a person an adolescent (for instance). Most people I know feel this — both the young and the old themselves.

    I think the same goes for fetuses. That is why most people (Christians included) will kill a fetus to protect the mother.

    Likewise, people weigh the cost of change in career and loss of finances and loss of independence very differently. Thus the cold hard calculus determines what they feel about abortions. I have seen Christians with a PMP against abortion who, when the situation was theirs, opted for abortion. They realized that prior to pregnancy the values they theoretically put on the hypothetical arguement and then cloaked in a PMP did not turn out to be true for them.

    I am not saying which way the argument should go. I am just trying to offer principles to illuminate the dynamics of the controversy:

    (1) Theology/Philosophy is often a cloak for unspoken, unknown preferences

    (2) The values we place on items in a decision change. Our generalized Professed-Moral-Principles are just that, “generalized” and “professed” — they don’t capture the nuances of the actual mechanisims of actual human behavior. Thought I agree that they may be useful.

    (3) Principles (Cognitive will) and Preferences (habits) are mutually creating and destroying. That is, they are mutually interactive.

    If I am guessing right, John and Marshall want to keep the discussion in the realm of arguing sets of moral principles, but that is not how humans work even though it may be how they argue.

  15. @John Barron,

    uSo are you not convinced that taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong?

    You are still mixing the “taking of an innocent life” with the assumption of no justification. You refuse to acknowledge that their could be a difference.

    I have been very clear. I did not play Devil’s Advocate. I said that I agree with your biological assessment, but I do not agree that the this is a biological question. In my opinion, you have not even addressed the issue. You argued two points. 1. That your opinion is right and abortion is wrong, because the biology supports your opinion. To that I countered that the biology is irrelevant. and 2. You are taking an innocent human life without justification. You offered no evidence. You just said it. I agreed that it is taking of an innocent human life. The justification is obvious.

    You have failed to prove your thesis at all. It is not incumbent upon me to refute a thesis you refuse to support when interrogated. The burden of proof is on you. You are condemning the actions of others. They are not condemning you.

    • @john
      You are being really unclear. Taking innocent life and proper/not proper justification are two different things. There is no equating them.

      So rather than repeatedly telling me I am confusing them you are going to have to explain your complaint otherwise there is no way to continue.

  16. You are being really unclear. Taking innocent life and proper/not proper justification are two different things. There is no equating them.

    You repeatedly refer to abortion as taking innocent life without justification. You have done not a single thing to support that thesis. I offered a point by point analysis, which you were loathe to address. Instead you repeated your personal definition of what you think abortion is.

    I agree that we probably should not continue. I don’t think you have support for your position. I did not expect that.

    • The problem is you keep just saying I’m wrong. You don’t say why, just that I am. So far you haven’t asked me to elaborate anything in particular. Telling me I am wrong and confused does not render my argument defeated. Charging me with being unable to substantiate my position doesn’t actually do anything either.

      I get the impression that you think the burden of proof never shifts in a discussion. You as a critic of my view do not just get to tell me I’m wrong with out having to justify your objection. No one gets yo just play skeptic until satisfied.

      I wouldn’t be justified in coming to your blog, telling you you haven’t proven yourself then leave it as that. I’d have an obligation to tell you what about your position is wrong.

      So instead of just telling me I haven’t proven anything, and that I am wrong, perhaps you can offer some reasons.

  17. @ All
    Boy, that was a productive use of writing time. [sarcasm]

  18. @ John
    Are you intentionally ignoring my points? If so, I would be most glad to stop participating since this thread is going nowhere quickly.

    • I don’t remember which points you made that seemed like there was a response required. Which points? Mind you I am not in front of a computer and can only respond as I get notifications. Be a little patient. The last few responses weren’t even of substance, just (sarcasm)

  19. @ John Barron,
    Never mind, we constantly go through this. As Myste pointed out, you seem to cherry pick minimal points from someone’s comment (or don’t respond at all) instead of seeing trying to engage in fruitful dialogue. To this end, perhaps “Frisking” is more productive. Your style results in the type of threads I have have read here for a while –fruitless.

    Anyway. If you value my interaction, you will go back and see if you can find anything to interact with. From my perspective, you ignore valuable challenges, or perhaps you can’t see them.

    • Listen, the majority of my interaction comes from a phone. If you are that impatient that you can’t make your points more concise then I can’t help you. I used to go through and respond point by point, but I’m not interested in an essay contest. If you have points you are interested in discussing, make that your comment, don’t bury it in a comment with half a dozen other tangents or things you don’t consider important.

      I’m not going to feel bad for not addressing all dozen points someone makes. Nothing gets done. Most objections take a paragraph to respond to. The only way to address everything without it beginning an entire other post in the comment section is to either pick out a couple points I find I’d like to respond to, or everything gets a sentence or two. Either way I get accused of something. I’m either ignoring things and cherry picking, or I’m incomplete and not really answering the objections fully, in which case you send me on an Easter egg hunt to find your comment that never got addressed.

      So there are a couple options. Either we can address your concerns one or two at a time thoroughly, or we don’t. I am not going to write pages of responses. Would you like to do.

  20. Laughing:

    If you are that impatient

    Now, besides “passive-agressive”, I am impatient.

    you can’t make your points more concise

    Now I have writing problems.

    I can’t help you

    This thread began with you stating you were going “to help show you something”.
    I am so fortunate to have your assistance and guidance.

    I think you have demonstated that you don’t value my comments here. I may come back another day. But let me say, you get the quality of commentors that you nurture.

    • What I wanted to show you, would not work. When I asked you why you were personally against abortion, your first answer was not a direct response. Your second answer said it is just a preference and not a moral decision.

      Most people who are personally opposed are so because they recognize that it ends a life. In which case I would have asked if you think it is reasonable to believe it is OK for others to end innocent lives. It is about as reasonable to say you are personally opposed to slavery or rape but don’t want to prevent others from doing it. But you didn’t answer with an objection to morality. That’s all.

      Hope to see you soon.

  21. @Sabio,

    Anytime someone has a philosophical blog, they are going to get two kinds of people who comment: those who want to congratulate them with meaningless approval and those who post counter arguments or additional commentary to stimulate other throughts.

    Some people like to share ideas, but do not like debating. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wish blogging utilities, like Blogger and WordPress had an packaged icon or something else that forced the blog host to say what kind of blogger than want to be.

    It is disrespectful to challenge someone who merely wants to share philosophical thoughts and does not want the contentiousness of debate. Though I fall into the latter category, I consider the former the more enlightened perspective.

    Mr. Barron clearly does not want to debate, but he also does not want to say he does not want to debate outright.

    I believe Mr. Barron could learn more by reading others blogs than he can by interacting with bloggers directly, a point where cognitive dissonance will make learning impossible (as it tends to do for all of us, especially those who like to debate).

    Therefore, thought I am disappointed that Mr. Barron was not up for a lively discussion, I see him consistently resist it, and I don’t think it is accidental. Point by point analysis is my style, something he considers unworkable. However, for me, anything else allows the debate to quickly become meaningless. Each debater focuses on what they perceive to be the other debater’s weakest point, or “targets” as I call them. It is fine to avoid point by point, but not in a heated debate, where it is dishonest.

    I have this site on my blogroll because I use my blogroll as a dashboard. However, I will not respond to an article unless I have something nice to say, until I forget that Mr. Barron does not like dissenting responses, which could be soon, as I read lots of blogs.

    As for this article, even though Mr. Barron failed to engage, it was still valuable. In fact, I book marked it. He argued a crucial point, much in the same way I have, but much better: the question of whether a fetus is a human. Though I am more pro-choice than I am pro-life, I am sympathetic to both positions. I consider the question of what a fetus is biologically to be an irrelevant one, but it means something to others, so it should be flushed out. If we could settle this question in everyone’s mind, it would cease to be a contentiously debated irrelevant point, and the discussion could rightfully turn away from a dispute over a question of taxonomic nomenclature, which I perceive to be a complete misdirection.

    The question of whether the rights of a human fetus are subordinate to the rights of its mother is the one we should be asking, in my opinion. We really cannot get to this question until we agree on what a fetus is or could be, which is only relevant because it means something to some people. A Fetus is whatever it is, and its rights are not defined by taxonomy. Since people don’t realize this, we need to settle the irrelevant taxonomic question first, and Mr. Barron’s article helps to do that.

    @Mr. Barron,

    Good game, sir.

    • I love dissenting ideas. I’m just not going to be saddled with a dozen dissenting ideas at the same time by multiple people. I just don’t have that kind of time.

      I don’t care if you have a dozen dissenting ideas, just introduce them a couple at a time.

      By the way, I think it is in poor taste to show up on a blog and demand they conform you your style of objection. Would you be so gracious? Is it OK for someone to come to you and demand you argue the way they see fit? Please.

      I notice you have really only offered that I am wrong and not proven my point, but never gave reasons with content. You seem to think I just have to figure out a way to rebut “you proved nothing”. Care to elaborate? Or is this affront to my integrity about all I’m going to get?

  22. @John Barron,

    I will assume you meant that question for me, but I cannot be sure, as there was no @ symbol.

    I believe I pointed out that as you are making the assertion, the burden of proof is on you. I do not rebut it, because I am do not hold the opposite opinion. You assert that taking an innocent human life without proper justification is always wrong. You believe abortion matches this criteria. Those who abort believe they have proper justifications, such as there is a parasite they must shed. Their lives can be ruined without the abortion. You summarily dismiss this argument because it seems that “taking the life of a fetus is always wrong,” is more closely aligned with your actual opinion.

    You want me to support the pro-choice argument with arguments that I don’t use and do not believe, such as your nomenclature-based “proofs.” I cannot use nomenclature to prove anything, as it is irrelevant to the discussion.

    • @ john

      And yet you say you aren’t playing devils advocate? Here the thing. I have already said my position that human life inherently holds value and is properly basic. Taking innocent life without proper justification…how do you get someone to see that if they don’t already? Its like trying to prove 2+2=4 to someone who doesn’t see it.

      Second, I addressed the parasite issue. And on top of this it seems like you want from me to argue against every reason given for abortion and refute it? Is that what you are asking of me? Obviously I make the assertion that abortion takes innocent life, but you seem to want me to refute every defense of abortion. That’s not a reasonable request. However if you have any defenses pf abortion, I’d be happy to refute them as they are offered.

      The objection I defended in this post is that the fertilized egg is human and it is alive. That was the point here, and I refuted the notion that the fertilized egg is not human and not alive.

      So what is it that’s going to make you happy here?

  23. @John Barron,

    And yet you say you aren’t playing devils advocate?

    I see our assertion as illogical. I challenge that. This is not playing Devil’s Advocate.

    Here the thing. I have already said my position that human life inherently holds value and is properly basic.

    And I never challenged that, not even once. Are we on the same blog?

    Taking innocent life without proper justification…how do you get someone to see that if they don’t already? Its like trying to prove 2+2=4 to someone who doesn’t see it.

    I totally agree that the unjustified taking of a life is wrong, as do all people, so I am not sure why you continually try to prove it. The dispute is over what proper justification is. You know this, but you are less capable of addressing it, so you keep building up your straw man, I think in hopes of tricking someone into thinking they made an argument no intelligent person would make.

    Second, I addressed the parasite issue. And on top of this it seems like you want from me to argue against every reason given for abortion and refute it?

    Actually, I completely refuted your parasite rebuttal, so it is nullified on that basis.

    Is that what you are asking of me? Of course not.

    Obviously I make the assertion that abortion takes innocent life, but you seem to want me to refute every defense of abortion.

    I agreed with you on this, remember? You are still trying to re-assert what we agree on as a rebuttal to something. I wonder why you would do such a thing.

    That’s not a reasonable request.

    Fortunately, no one ever made that unreasonable request. Lucky you.

    However if you have any defenses pf abortion, I’d be happy to refute them as they are offered.

    It is fallacious to make an unsubstantiated assertion, which you then argue is substantiated if someone does not refute this. I could say I think solipsism is true, and you must agree or refute it. To do so would be to make the same mistake you are just made, to misunderstand the burden of proof.

    The objection I defended in this post is that the fertilized egg is human and it is alive.

    Then we are in complete agreement, as I agree with this and have argued it many times myself.

    So what is it that’s going to make you happy here?

    It seems I am happy. Your article argues that a fetus is a person. I agree. Like you, I accept that abortion may be justified at some stage of the pregnancy. Like you, I understand the need to have abortions. Like you, I do not criticize anyone who has them, as I have no evidence for thinking they are not sometimes justified.

    • John

      Two final things. You didn’t nullify my point about the parasite. You just said some parasites are life long parasites. What I said is there are no organisms which are designed to be hosts.

      Second. You spend a lot of time criticizing what you claim to agree with. So, in a sentence or two or three, what is it that I have left unsubstantiated?

  24. ugh, for real? You’re going to follow up your celebration of capital punishment with this? you hypocrite.

    “Taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong”
    -but once they’re out of the womb, it’s up for grabs.

    please.

    If you believe in the doctrine of the fall, no one is innocent. Not one.

    If you believe that anyone can change, convert, and experience transformation, that leaves the door open to repentance and forgiveness. If not, then that shuts the door to any understanding of grace.

    Either all life is sacred or none of it is. It’s “as clear as any issue can be.” Otherwise all you’re doing is moving the line around to justify a sacred violence that does nothing to solve the problems that face us in life. The line could end anywhere after birth it seems.

    So to be totally pro-life would inherently negate CP, period, hands down.

    • Zero

      I don’t advocate innocent people outside the womb, that’s an absurd accusation.

      You’re also equivocating guilty beforehand God and guilty before man. Man is justly punished for crimes against man by man. I’m not going to argue capital punishment here.

  25. “I don’t advocate innocent people outside the womb, that’s an absurd accusation.”
    -so the follow sentence:
    “Taking the life of an innocent human being without proper justification is morally wrong”
    -should read based on your last comment and our last converstion:
    “taking the life of an innocent human being WITHIN THE WOMB without proper justification is morally wrong… ALTHOUGH I DO ACCEPT A 3% INNOCENT DEATH RATE THERE-AFTER.”
    -[sarcasm] well done! you’re really pro-life! and you’re really clear and consistent too! congrats! [/sarcasm]

    • Zero

      I never said I accept a 3% innocent death rate. What I said what if it were shown that 3% of executed inmates were later exonerated by evidence I would not be able to dismiss it as an anomaly and would reconsider my views on capital punishment. You are intentionally twisting my words and are lying about what I said.

  26. @Zero,

    Stating a perceived contradiction is fine, but your point would have been far more powerful without the accusation of hypocrisy.

  27. @JM: contradictions make one a hypocrite. I call it like I see it and it’s crystal clear in this instance. No accusation needed your honor, the witness implicates himself. The prosecution rests.

  28. @John Barron,

    I showed your parasite position to be irrelevant, which is the ultimate nullification. II agree with Sabio about your unwillingness to debate. You wrote a good article that draws a conclusion that doesn’t support your ultimate thesis.

    I congratulate you on the article. I am an inveterate debater. I love the game of it, the strategy.

    I am a student of logic and critical thinking. I engage in very long debates about many topics without incidence. That is where I learned the completeness of point by point responses. I accepted your terms, to debate one point at a time. It is a fair request and ultimately a good one. It was not, however, honest.

    Based on your responses to both me and Sabio, I now am convinced that you do not like debate, which is virtuous and noble. However, it does make it impossible to dissent on your site.

    I give you the credit for being intelligent enough to understand when your position has been challenged and is in need of defense. Since you still deny it, I think you are trying to get out from under it.

    I release you, sir.

    • John

      You say what you want. I ask for clarification and you accuse of evasiveness. You demand I accept your terms or it means I am unwilling to debate. I find this juvinilility masked in intellectualism.

  29. @Zero,

    Obviously, John does not perceive hypocrisy in his positions. He sees them as consistent and he sees your attempt to correlate capital punishment and abortion as disingenuous. No productive discussions can come from personal attacks. To start a rebuttal by accusing the other contestant of being a hypocrite ends all rational discussion right there, in favor of a street fight.

    Even if you think he is a hypocrite, then show it, don’t tell it, a primary premise of good writing: “Show don’t tell.” It is ultimately far more powerful and also far more productive, and it has the additional virtue of allowing you to win the debate, because a debate may follow your attempt to show.

    In the world of blogging, no one wins a street fight.

  30. @JM: Thank you for your tips. Having had prior interactions with John and his ilk, I have found they only respond to shock and awe. Otherwise, they consider you weak and uninformed. Plus his mind is already made up, you can’t confuse him with the details (and the details you provide are wrong or grossly misinterpreted).

    @John: I know you can’t be bothered to look it up, that’s okay here it is:”I am saying if it were to become prevalent enough that convictions are being overturned to the tune of 3% posthumously that would be significant enlightenment that we couldn’t chalk it up to anomalies in particular cases.”
    -You’re splitting hairs. What you’re saying is that you’ll accept innocent deaths to the tune of 3% because that’s what “posthumously” means. No twisting involved: your. words.

    Would you accept a 3% abortion rate with no stipulation?

    • Zero

      No I wouldn’t accept 3% abortions because 100% of elective abortions kill an innocent. Whereas there may be speculation as to whether an innocent has been put to death being wrongly convicted, there has yet to be anyone posthumously exonerated. Now as I have said I don’t how many time is that if you could show me people who were innocent beyond speculation, I would reconsider my view. I am not married to capital punishment. I can be argued off my view.

  31. “Now as I have said I don’t how many time is that if you could show me people who were innocent beyond speculation, I would reconsider my view.”
    -but until that point, you’re okay with innocent (or even possibly innocent) people dying. No, gotcha. Perfectly logical and consistent with your pro-life stance…?

    “I am not married to capital punishment. I can be argued off my view.”
    -no but your party is and so until the party line changes, your’s won’t. Just being honest. I’ve given my arguments, and all you keep doing is changing what you’ll consider as evidence.

    Your latest sticking point is “until they exonerate someone killed within 50 years” ignoring all those who were wrongly convicted and exonerated BEFORE they were sent to death row. Instead you’re rock is asking a corrupt government system filled with sinful people to show that it’s wrong.

    yeah, that’ll happen. and all those bankers that destroyed the economy will voluntarily jump into prison. just like all those illegals will just turn themselves in. just like all the drug dealers will ask to be arrested.

    Not to mention the theological overtones as well as the inconsistency of a pro-life stance that doesn’t honor all life as sacred. Makes. No. Sense.

  32. Marshall Art says:

    Sabio,

    Regarding your comment of October 17, 2011 at 5:33 AM. I think you make an error due to human nature’s strong influence on any given individual. I stand by my statement regarding setting aside personal preferences in order to determine morality first and then act accordingly. That I might be in a stress heavy situation that results in my acting in conflict with my morality does not negate the point at all. It’s called being human and despite defaulting to human weakness now and again, my actions in general, my intended actions, are regulated by the morality to which I subscribe. When someone fails to live up to such standards perfectly, it is indeed common for some to justify their failures. At the same time, another may offer the very same reasons for their exact same failure, but not offer it as justification, only an explanation. One may say he was driven or provoked, but another may simply say that he lost his self-control. Stated another way, when the heat is on, most people don’t make a conscious change in their preferences. They simply act, and often regret the action they took. But again, I stand by my statement.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “nature of the mind” in the context of this discussion. I also wonder if you are using the term “preference” differently that me. On the one hand, we have our compulsions, which can be called preferences. But these are instinctive and totally self-serving, almost automatic. I don’t regard these as “preferences” as in to wish things were different than they are. I may be violent, but I’d prefer that I was peaceful and calm at all times. Then again, some might prefer not to exert any effort in being a better person, though this is also driven by the natural desire for self-serving personal comfort.

    Moving on…

    “It is deceitful to insist…

    I find it interesting that much like John, you are making character attacks in your comment.”

    I wasn’t attacking anyone’s character. I was stating a fact. But perhaps I wasn’t clear. The deceit is on the part of the people engaging in the reproductive act. How many people who do so truly and honestly believe that what they are doing is NOT engaging in the procreative act. Thus, it is deceitful for them to pretend they are NOT also engaging in bringing into existence another human being, even if they employed all the less than 100% contraceptive efforts. In other words, it would be like shooting a gun toward a crowd of people and then insisting that your intention was not to put a bullet into anyone. One act is designed to spray bullets and the other is designed to impregnate.

    “And worse yet, because you refuse to use @ signs, we don’t know who you are talking to.”

    If my comment had no relation to anything you said, then I probably wasn’t referring to anything you said. What’s so hard to understand? At the same time, I don’t have a problem with you responding, even if I wasn’t referring to you by my commentary.

    “I won’t wager what inner state has you making such a choice.”

    Simple laziness together with time constraints.

  33. Marshall Art says:

    Still more for Sabio,

    Regarding your comments on the value of human life, I think you show that you are one who likely alters conviction when the shit hits the fan.

    I don’t count myself as one who views the value of life differently based on age. An older person might decide for himself that his life isn’t as precious as that of a child whose life has just begun, but that’s for him to decide and he’s wrong. If one is weighing a choice between who survives, then the choice is honorable to give one’s life for another, but not based on some notion that one is more or less valuable than the other.

    Those who debate the life of their unborn over issues of finance and such are not being mature and thoughtful. They are engaging in the very “preference” game to which you alluded earlier. They made the decision to have the child when they engaged in the act designed to bring about new human life. After the child is conceived, all such talk is abdication of personal responsibility of the most heinous kind. Thus, this statement is false:

    “They realized that prior to pregnancy the values they theoretically put on the hypothetical arguement and then cloaked in a PMP did not turn out to be true for them.”

    The truth is that they just wimped out. They faced the consequences of their actions, consequences that were never unknown, and took the easy way out, dressing up their cowardice in a false dance of thoughtful deliberation. The values to which they previously claimed allegiance were true and remained true after conception. They just lacked the spine to live them. Thus I submit that your three principles are no more than cheap rationalizations, regardless of the effort to make them appear more so:

    “(1) Theology/Philosophy is often a cloak for unspoken, unknown preferences”

    I won’t speak for philosophy, but you don’t seem to understand theology. True theology is an external thing to which we seek to understand and adhere. If there is a preference, it would only be that what we believe as regards our theology can be known with the absolute certainty that we know we exist.

    “(2) The values we place on items in a decision change. Our generalized Professed-Moral-Principles are just that, “generalized” and “professed” — they don’t capture the nuances of the actual mechanisims of actual human behavior.”

    Principles don’t change. Thus, our values should not change either, if they are based on principles. And they aren’t supposed to capture the nuances of human behavior. They’re supposed to help us transcend our natural impulses, regardless of what they are, if they conflict with the principles upon which our values are based. (I must state here that the two terms “principles” and “values” are fairly interchangeable”—but I hope my point is clear.)

    “(3) Principles (Cognitive will) and Preferences (habits) are mutually creating and destroying. That is, they are mutually interactive.”

    Principles exist externally. That is, we don’t invent them. We abide them or we don’t. I wouldn’t call preferences “habits”, either. We can prefer a behavior before we make a habit of the behavior. Your use of terms is unclear. But, if i’m getting the gist, I’d say that principles and our compulsions are not mutually interactive, but in conflict constantly. If we determine our principles by our compulsions, then we are not truly principled people after all. We are merely creatures of our own selfish self-interest.

    “If I am guessing right, John and Marshall want to keep the discussion in the realm of arguing sets of moral principles, but that is not how humans work even though it may be how they argue.”

    Well that is the problem. Humans don’t work that way. These days, it seems even less so as we’ve experienced a severe moral decline in the last 60-100 years. Human nature hasn’t changed so much, but we’ve certainly given it to it more in recent years. So yes, John and I might indeed be arguing sets of principles, because principles, values and standards are what is so desperately needed in order for the culture to survive and thrive.

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