Feigned concern by the Pro-Choice movement

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard a pro-abortion choice advocate justify abortion by offering what almost sounds like a compassionate plea on behalf of the child.  “Unwanted children”, they say, “often grow up abused and neglected, and that is no life for a child.  That’s not fair to both the mother or the child.  You pro-lifers only care about the baby until it’s born, then you could care less!”  This line of reasoning I have never found compelling.  It almost sounds like they are trying to show their compassion… by killing the yet-to-be-born child?

It would seem to me that if the pro-abortion choice advocate were actually concerned for the well-being of the child, rather than advocating killing it, would their efforts be better served in giving time and money to adoption charities or hospitals who provide adoption services?  I mean, is death really a better solution than providing care for the child?  Their complaint appears to cuts both ways as they are reluctant to help (in any real sense of the word) the children they purport to be “caring” for by stepping in to make sure they aren’t abused.

Implicit in this “solution” is that pro-abortion choice advocates believe these women will inevitably be unfit and abusive mothers.  I don’t necessarily agree, most women who find themselves mothers of unintended children make great parents.  However, unfit and abusive parents ought not be caretakers of their children.  But killing the children of abusive parents before they have a chance to neglect and abuse them isn’t really a solution, is it?  If pro-abortion choicers are so concerned for the welfare of the child, wouldn’t a more noble cause be removing children from abusive and neglectful parents?  One would think so, especially since there are so many couples out there who would love to adopt a child they can have on their own.

How also is this not an argument for euthanizing already abused and neglected children?  Sure, you haven’t been able to prevent abuse which has already taken place, but you could prevent further abuse with post-natal abortion.  After all, the only difference between a pre-birth child and a post-birth child is maturity, size, and location,  it seems post-natal abortion is the perfect solution.

You know why pro-abortion choice advocates don’t put their money into adoption services for unwanted children?  Because children are expensive and abortion is cheap.  I really does boil down to avoiding responsibility.

Isn’t this :adoption

A better solution than THIS (WARNING: link contains graphic images)?

Comments

  1. Wow, John. You’re right. I wonder if a pro-choicer would be able to look at the pictures you linked to and still, with a straight face, say that abortion doesn’t kill human beings. It’s funny that they say that what WE WANT is for children to suffer in the care of the mother and/or father that didn’t want them, or that what WE WANT is for 5,000 women per year to die from illegal abortions (if we had our way). I say to them, take a look at an aborted six-week old HUMAN BEING. THAT’S what YOU want! We have pictures of what YOU want to continue.

    You don’t want a woman to be forced to be reduced to the status of “incubator”? Take A LOOK at the alternative! AND show HER! Don’t be shy. Be proud! Proudly show WHAT IT IS that is a woman’s RIGHT.

    Sick. Sick world.

  2. On a personal note I’m just glad that when my mother found herself with an “unwanted child” she chose adoption.

  3. Mine too, and for some reason I’ve never felt unwanted.

  4. If these frauds really cared about the children being aborted or unwanted if allowed to live, then they would support, encourage and expect people to live more moral lives and practice some self-discipline when they felt that tingling in their loins. OR, they would encourage those who just must have sex in order to survive (because, you know, no sex means death) to get vasectomies and such. If the issue is unwanted babies, it seems the most important thing on which one’s attention should be focused is to do whatever is necessary to prevent conception.

  5. Prior to ~20 weeks the fetus is essentially brain dead and so there is nothing really morally relevant about it necessary for consideration.

  6. “Prior to ~20 weeks the fetus is essentially brain dead and so there is nothing really morally relevant about it necessary for consideration.”

    One could say the same about you based on this statement. More to the point, there is a vast distinction between a brain not yet fully formed and one no longer functioning. Your statement, to some, might appear to be a logical one, but only on a most superficial level. Like most pro-abort arguments, this one merely holds it against the unborn that it is at some unfortunate age or size that pro-aborts choose to regard as unworthy of their concern.

  7. Austintx, If 99.9% of all cases of brain death would be completely cured within months of its onset, would it be morally irrellevant if one with medical power of attorney hired a doctor to stab a brain dead 25 year old to death for any reason?

  8. @marshalart,

    Just to let you know, I am not terribly interested in exchanging ad homonym attacks. I will do my best to avoid disparaging your intelligence, moral character, etc. as long as you do me the same courtesy.

    I am mostly interested in logical and well reasoned arguments. I did not present such a case in that first post as apparently posts that are too long get ignored or barely skimmed.

    I agree that there are many differences between a brain dead individual (one whose mental functions have physically ceased to exist) and a fetus prior to ~20 weeks (whose mental function have never existed).

    “Like most pro-abort arguments, this one merely holds it against the unborn that it is at some unfortunate age or size that pro-aborts choose to regard as unworthy of their concern.”

    I am not sure what the argument is here? I don’t think that something lacking essential characteristics of personhood is merely a case of “unfortunate age” or “size,” anymore than a sperm is just “unfortunately lacking in DNA.”

    I look forward to your reply, thanks.

    • Why does it matter that the brain function was never there? If they’re brain dead, they’re brain dead. After all that is why you said its OK to kill them. If an adult is brain dead now, its not like they know they weren’t always brain dead.

  9. I really need Austintx to answer my question. Brain dead 25yr old with a 99.9% chance of recovery.

  10. @conservative2cents,

    Let us, if you don’t mind, pose a scenario that is a little more analogous and morally relevant, as well as likely more realistic.

    Since during brain death one’s brain cells literally, physically, begin to die, it is not likely any discovery is going to lead to the recovery you describe.

    What might be possible is regenerating brain tissue. Let us say in the not too distant future that medical science develops the ability to completely regenerate brain tissue. The problem is that this is essentially just creating brand new brain tissue. So the brain dead individual would regain consciousness, but as an infant with no memory, or shared personal identity with the previous “person.”

    Should medical professionals be MANDATED to perform this procedure? Would it be murder not to perform the procedure and let the body die?

  11. Austintx,

    As you know, sometimes we have to go to extreme hypotheticals to test our moral stance. But if you’d like to stick with something closer to reality:

    99.9% of all 20 week old fetuses WILL RECOVER from their “brain death”. Does this not matter to you?

  12. @John Barron,

    I am not exactly sure what you are arguing. Yes, as far as I can tell, brain dead people don’t “know” anything. What is the point? Sorry if I am being obtuse or missing something obvious, I just don’t get it.

  13. @marshalert & conservative2cents,

    In case you are interested under the post “Is Abortion Murder” I discuss in the comments problems with claiming moral relevance occurs at conception.

  14. I want to be clear as well that if you base your belief in the immorality of abortion upon revelation, biblical or otherwise, than that would be a different discussion… As that would obviously rest upon questions of the accuracy of that belief, a much different topic.

  15. @conservative2cents,

    They will not “recover” from brain death, they will establish brain functioning for the first time.

    • Austintx

      The point is the brain dead adult and the pre-20 wk fetus are essentially the same as far as brain state. So since the brain dead adult would know they are being killed, nor feel the pain of the killing just like the pre-20 wk fetus, then based on your reasoning both killings are both amorally equal. I don’t see how prior function on the part of the adult is at all relevant to their current state.

  16. @John,

    Correct. I don’t think you can murder someone who is brain dead because their personal identity has ceased to exist.

  17. Forget religion (for now).

    It’s ok to deal with this hypothetical. SCOTUS does it all the time.

    Obviously, the state of medicine and nature being what it is, we recognize brain death as the end. But IF by some wonder of evolution, the human body was able to recover from brain death within a few months, and all that was required was not stabbing it or cutting it piece from piece (in other words, letting nature take its proper course), would it be a moral problem to stab it to death while in its temporary state of what we currently understand to be brain death?

    AND forget 25 year old adult. Let’s get it a little closer to the womb, say… 1 year old who is at his mother’s mercy every day anyway.

  18. @conservative2cents,

    That is similar to asking if people spontaneously were naturally resurrected back to life, would cremation be immoral? That is a difficult one, but I suppose so… Just to be clear in reality that wouldn’t really happen as the brain cells literally begin to die as I said, but if that were possible then yes.

    But the reason would be that the person themselves came back… A pre-existing person. With a fetus there is no pre-existing state to “recover” from.

    That is why the analogy of a person being brought back as entirely new without a trance of prior personality is more apt. A NEW person is coming into existence, not an already existing person merely recovering from an ill stats of existence.

    In the case of say a zygote or small clump of cells for instance there is nothing even theoretically capable of possessing a “personal identity.”

    A 1 year old has a functioning brain with a personality.

  19. I use hypotheticals (as do philosophers, ethicists, and SCOTUS as you point out) because it is likely the best way to establish grounds of agreement and argumentation on moral issues without getting caught up in a meta-ethical debate (a good debate to have, but definitely an entirely different can of worms).

    Although I am always open to other methods of debate and coming to a better understanding of the issues involved.

  20. I want you to fully understand that you’ve just admitted that (at least in the hypothetical case) lack of current brain function is not a justification for killing a human being. Is that correct?

  21. Yes, in the scenerio you describe it seems that that would be the case. As I point out though, something’s temporary suspension is different than something’s creation.

  22. Very well. Can we agree that, in the case of a 19 week old fetus (or younger), the thing that will naturally develop brain function has already been created?

    I think that it’s incumbent on you to show how an existing human being’s current lack of brain function is not a justification for killing it sometimes, and not other times. In the hypothetical, and in the case of a fetus, future brain function is very likely to occur if we allow it to continue. In that way, the real life situation, and the hypothetical are exactly the same. And the future likelihood of brain function in the hypothetical is the reason killing an existing human being would be wrong, according to you.

    You really must show HOW they are significantly different. I agree that one (functioning brain) has existed while the other is yet to exist. We disagree that the distinction matters.

  23. @conservative2cents,

    That was the reason for my analogy of the regenerating brain.

    Quickly one more time. If doctors had a way to bring brain dead individuals back to consciousness, but it involved essentially causing an entirely new brain to develop in their heads, it is my contention that they would not be morally obligated to do so, they would not be committing murder to not do so, this is in contrast to a situation where they could bring a pre-existing person back to life, complete with personality (or at least brain structure).

    If you disagree with my view that one would not be morally required to regenerate a new brain, let me know.

    The reason these two scenarios are distinct is because the first involves the de novo creation of a person. Whomever wakes up from the regeneration is an entirely new individual, even if they share the same DNA, and thus likely the same genetic effects. The person who died is not continuing on.

    On the other hand, in the scenario where the person is basically just “revived,” there existed a person with certain personality traits, memories, desires, dispositions, etc. and as such in general we should preserve those traits’ existence if at all possible within reason.

    For instance, you would likely agree that if I had a sperm and unfertilized egg in a test-tube it would not be immoral to destroy them, even IF left alone they would have naturally found each other and formed a zygote. The fact that the potential exists is irrelevant. To paraphrase someone I cannot currently remember, every time I walk by a woman a child could POTENTIALLY result. We don’t in general have concern and regret for all the potential children that have not come into existence though.

    One more way to put it. If you had to choose between saving a close friend’s limbs or brain, which would you choose? I am guessing that even if scientists could replace the brain with another, and even if the limbs were physically “more” of the friend, you would still choose to save the brain. Why? Because your concern is not over maintaining the metabolism of a lump of human flesh, or preventing unique genetic material from being destroyed, your concern is for the personality, that which makes up what we usually think of as the individual personal identity.

    If they replaced the brain, the subject would possess the same appearance, but they would not be your friend, your friend would be gone.

    Prior to the existence of this personal identity, there is no “person” to harm.

  24. Let’s take another hypothetical. There is proposed a new building. In this building, there are important things to be done for humanity (we’ll call this the justification for building it and protecting it). The work to be done in this building (that can only be done in a building like it) is so important that we all agree that after the building is ready (fully developed), we should not prematurely demolish it (kill it).

    A building like it already exists, but it’s getting old and is becoming unsafe for occupancy.

    Is it worse to destroy the old building, or to stop a new one’s progress before the important work inside it (brain function) begins?

  25. I think you’re missing the point of the hypothetical. In it, the brain function would naturally return. The only thing that has to happen is not killing the brain functionless body. Which is exactly what is required in the case of a developing fetus. And let’s just go with the “new brain” hypothetical. If the brain dead adult were 99.9% likely to grow an entirely new functioning brain simply by allowing his body to continue to live, is the body’s temporary lack of a functioning brain justification for stabbing it to the point of complete “body death”?

  26. Conservative2cents,

    I would be in favor of whatever I thought would result in the best outcome… I.e. if I thought the old building was too dangerous I would not be opposed to its demolishion, whereas I would obviously want the new building finished construction if I thought it was important for the increased well-being of society.

    This analogy is quite a stretch. For instance if no building was being constructed we would wish to do so as soon as possible even though nothing yet exists… Does that mean we should do our best to ensure the fertilization of every egg we possibly can? Obviously not. So I fail to see the relevance. I apologize if there is something I am missing.

  27. @conservative2cents,

    What does it matter what “naturally” will result? In addition I have already explained that it is the “personal identity” we wish to save in the case of a revived body, and in the case of a fetus there is no personal identity, either at or prior to the termination point. A “person” cannot be harmed if a “person” has never existed.

    Obviously you can respond in any way you wish, but it might be helpful to respond to specific examples I gave as I did for yours. This at the very least would help me see where about the disagreement begins.

    I haven’t given much thought to what would be morally acceptable in a world where brain dead people spontaneously revived with entirely new infantile brains, so I may not have thought all the issues through fully.

    Off the top of my head I would think it might depend largely on what the dead person’s wishes were in regards to their body. Even if a body is stone cold dead and rotting I don’t think it is morally acceptable to just begin stabbing it for no reason, just out of respect for the deceased desires.

    I would NOT consider it murder though to prevent a new person from coming into existence, just as in the regenerated brain case.

    The only thing you have changed is whether an action is involved to terminate the body’s life support or not. I don’t see what something “natural” outcome has to do with its morality however. Just because something is “natural” does not make it morally obligatory. It might be “natural” for an infant without limbs to die of starvation, but it is not the morally correct course of action.

  28. What you miss is that it’s not a potential person. When I walk past a woman, there are a billion possibilities of what will happen next including our brief meeting resulting in a child. The sperm in close proximity to the egg is just that. But we’re talking about a living body (existing) that is infinitely more likely than any other to gain what you consider to be the reason killing an older one is wrong. It’s such a near certainty that what is so important to our recognition of its right to continue to be a living human being will occur, that it seems like you’d be against destroying it.

    In fact, unless you say that a new, naturally regenerating brain in an adult DOESN’T grant its body the right to continue to live, you’ve already admitted that a lack of brain function is not NECESSARILY justification.

    The reason I used the hypothetical is to try to determine what IS the thing you think gives a human body the right to continue to live. You seem only to come up with “brain function… Sometimes”.

    You should ask yourself why you believe that brain function is what is needed to protect ANY human being.

    In the hypothetical, it is because the “temporary non-person” IS the only thing that can have human brain function that gives it the right to continue to live.

    My criteria are pretty simple: alive, human. Period.

    By the way, we are justified in letting a brain dead person’s body to die NOT because of a lack of brain function, but because we are 99.9% CERTAIN that it will not return. It truly is the end.

    And… Passively allowing a mindless body to die is quite a different thing than actively killing it to prevent what is 99.9% likely to occur.

  29. It’s funny that you say that it doesn’t matter what it will become, when the point of John’s post is that so many pro-choice folks say it’s a good thing to treat a fetus in a certain way (kill it), because of what it is likely to become (an abused, neglected human person).

    Is it, or is it not important to consider what it is likely to become?

    I’d say that it is not important. I’m only arguing with you, because you seem to be hung up on the “functioning brain”/”personality” thing, which is likely TO BE traits of most fetuses, left to finish developing.

    I think we SHOULD consider what it is: a new human being.

    Does it bother you at all that you are in the company of some pretty nasty figures in history when you seek to determine which human being to consider a “person”?

    • How funny is it that that the argument seems to be: it doesn’t matter what it will become (a person) so its OK to kill it in the womb…AND it does matter what it will become (an abused child) so its ok to kill it in the womb.

      • How am I doing here John?

      • AND… It’s so close to 100% certain that it will have the traits necessary for a being to be protected (in their view)!

        I could twist their argument around. THEY don’t care enough about abuse, since they allow “brain function” to get in the way of killing abused children.

        WHAT ARE THEIR GUIDING VALUES???

        Life? No. They’ll kill a living human being BEFORE it’s able to suffer.

        Quality of life? No. They’ll allow an abused child to suffer BECAUSE it is able to suffer!

        Our side’s argument never contradicts itself because we VALUE human life.

        John, I know that you disagree with me on whether a human’s potential is a reason at all to protect its life, but truly, even a human being born into the worst situation has the potential to overcome it and do great things. I think that at least that’s a refutation of the “doing the person a favor by killing it before it becomes a person” stance.

  30. @conservative2cents,

    “What you miss is that it’s not a potential person.”

    My argument is that it IS a potential person.

    “But we’re talking about a living body (existing) that is infinitely more likely than any other to gain what you consider to be the reason killing an older one is wrong.”

    Infinitely more likely than what? A sperm cell? I am not sure what you mean with this statement. I am not denying that a fertilized egg barring spontaneous abortion or other disruptive event will eventually form a personal identity. The fact that it is likely to develop does not mean we are required to let it develop.

    “It’s such a near certainty that what is so important to our recognition of its right to continue to be a living human being will occur, that it seems like you’d be against destroying it.”

    I do not lament the potential persons that would develop from an unfertilized egg destroyed during menstruation, or a sperm cell not allowed to fertilize an egg. They have the potential to create persons for sure, but I feel about them approximately equal to a zygote. Neither of them should be considered persons because they lack the essential feature of personal identity that makes individual human life distinct and its protection morally obligatory.

    “In fact, unless you say that a new, naturally regenerating brain in an adult DOESN’T grant its body the right to continue to live, you’ve already admitted that a lack of brain function is not NECESSARILY justification.”

    The lack of brain function is simply a corollary for the lack of individual personal identity. In real life they are inextricably linked. If a new person were created through the process of brain death, prior to that new person being created it would not be murder. You cannot murder a person that does not exist.

    “The reason I used the hypothetical is to try to determine what IS the thing you think gives a human body the right to continue to live. You seem only to come up with ‘brain function… Sometimes.'”

    Not brain function sometimes. In REAL life a lack of brain function is tied to a lack of personal identity, so they are essentially synonymous. You created a scenario in which the two phenomena became distinct. I can’t exactly be held responsible for not specifying the exception created by the hypothetical world you created.

    “You should ask yourself why you believe that brain function is what is needed to protect ANY human being.”

    Because it is directly correlated with the existence of an individual personal identity, which it should be clear from my examples is what we are most truly concerned with.

    “My criteria are pretty simple: alive, human. Period.”

    By that criteria one could murder a skin cell (it is alive and human), so that obviously cannot be the criteria. Would you like to specify more precisely what your criteria would be?

    Sorry John for the fisking :)

    • I would not like to redefine my criteria. We’re talking about killing the human being. Not the human part. Abortion stops the production of all the human’s parts.

      A human being, at any age after fertilization, is infinitely more likely than a rock, fish, blade of grass, to develop a HUMAN personality, which is what you say is to be protected.

      You may consider “brain function” used in any of my comments to mean “personality”. Close enough.

      What makes Individual human life distinct is DNA. Not personality. My personality is much different from when I was 5 years old, for example. Was I a different person then?

    • “You cannot murder a person who doesn’t exist”.

      Can you honestly separate the person that I’ve “become” from the 15 week old fetus I used to be? You understand that my personality could not exist, but for the existence of that fetus, right? That my personality resides in the same physical body that grew from a fertilized egg? My distinct personality is linked to my body. MY DNA!

      That’s why I say that if a fetus exists, it should be protected. It IS a complete human being, different from any other human being that has ever existed or will ever exist. It will develop a personality. Abortion prevents a personality from becoming. It does not prevent the human being from becoming. It kills the young human’s chance to know itself. And THAT’S WRONG!

  31. @conservative2cents,

    “It’s funny that you say that it doesn’t matter what it will become, when the point of John’s post is that so many pro-choice folks say it’s a good thing to treat a fetus in a certain way (kill it), because of what it is likely to become (an abused, neglected human person).”

    I do not agree with that argument as an argument for the moral permissibility of abortion, it may be a good reason to have an abortion (if you feel that you or your partner would likely abuse it), but that isn’t really an argument for its fundamental permissibility… That’s why I don’t make it and would disagree with anyone that did. In general I think many arguments people make in defense of abortion aren’t very good.

    “I’m only arguing with you, because you seem to be hung up on the ‘functioning brain’/’personality’ thing, which is likely TO BE traits of most fetuses, left to finish developing.
    I think we SHOULD consider what it is: a new human being.”

    I am not “hung up” on these traits. They seem to me to be the most salient traits when inquiring into what it is we truly care about and wish to protect in an individual, where as your criteria do not. I would not like a close friend’s brain replaced with another because I know that would destroy him as a person, and though his body would continue to survive, the “person” would be dead. Your criteria does not account for that.

    “Does it bother you at all that you are in the company of some pretty nasty figures in history when you seek to determine which human being to consider a ‘person’?”

    Everyone has to determine who or what they want to attribute moral personhood to. I draw that line in a different place from you and your perception of me in alignment with “nasty” people has no real bearing on whether or not my argument t is successful.

  32. @John Barron,

    I haven’t made such arguments, so I hope this was not addressed at me.

  33. @conservative2cents,

    “Can you honestly separate the person that I’ve ‘become’ from the 15 week old fetus I used to be?”

    No more or less than I can separate you from the sperm and egg “you use to be.”

    “You understand that my personality could not exist, but for the existence of that fetus, right?”

    And prior to that you could not have existed if it weren’t for the existence of a specific egg and a specific sperm.

    “That my personality resides in the same physical body that grew from a fertilized egg?”

    No argument here…

    “My distinct personality is linked to my body. MY DNA!”

    Again, I don’t think people ONLY developed rational reasons for protecting fellow persons AFTER the discovery of DNA. DNA obviously has a major effect on how you developed and certainly effects on your personality. I feel no attachment (nor do I think anyone does really) to a specific set of DNA. If my girlfriends DNA was suddenly altered I would not treat her as a stranger whom I had never met. No, because her DNA, though necessary for her development, is not the essential property that makes her “her.”

    “It IS a complete human being, different from any other human being that has ever existed or will ever exist.”

    It is almost certainly unique, but far from a “whole human being,” unless you just mean that in a question begging fashion.

    “It will develop a personality. Abortion prevents a personality from becoming. It does not prevent the human being from becoming. It kills the young human’s chance to know itself. And THAT’S WRONG!”

    Where is your argument as to why DNA or anything else you have given is the proper moral feature of an individual? Are identical twins not individuals? If I killed the sperm and egg that went into making you, you would never have had the chance to live and know yourself… That might be a sad thing, but not immoral. I do not know anyone that truly feels sympathy for all the children who were never conceived and therefore were not given a chance at life.

    • The point of working backwards is to show that my personality is tied to my body. Only my body contains my DNA. My body has taken many sizes during my life. It seems like now, you’re saying that what is required to be a “complete” human being is a personality. At every stage of my life, I was as complete a human being as I was able to be. At birth, I was without self-awareness. But, I was all there. And all that was there was a complete human being. The only human being with MY DNA.

      You see, the reason I don’t go backwards past fertilization is that that’s the point at which I became a human being. Neither the sperm nor the egg was completely me. And this is not just a “if Noah’s sons hadn’t gotten on that ark” type of thing. I came into existence at conception. The only thing that could develop into my personality was a COMPLETE cell with MY DNA!

      Then I was a complete HUMAN who happened to be BEING a zygote. Then I was a complete human embryo. And so on, and so on.

      MOST importantly, I was SUPPOSED to be an embryo at the time that I was one. Do you know how I know? Because, in order to be a fetus, you have to be a zygote. A complete human zygote!

      FLIPPIN’ OF COURSE a fetus is a complete human being!

    • To be clear: DNA is what let’s you know that a thing is distinctly human. It’s immoral to kill a human without just cause. That a woman’s education or career prospects are put in jeopardy is not just cause. That a woman can’t afford a child is not just cause. Her actions (in 99.9% of cases that lead to abortions) caused a new human being to come into existence. If she had totaled your car, you’d hold her accountable. If she accidentally hurt a “person”, you’d hold her accountable. If a 5 yr old human “person” is in her care, we hold her accountable for his well-being.

      What makes a thing an individual human being is its individual DNA. It’s not what gives it its rights. It gives it its identity: a member of the human race. It’s its humanity that gives us the moral question. Not its abilities. Not what it thinks. Not that he knows he wants to live.

  34. @conservative2cents,

    I am not sure how you feel about “fisking” (a term I hadn’t even heard before John used it).

    The reason I often reply as such is to help guarantee I address as many of your questions, comments, and arguments as possible.

    Even when do this I occasionally miss an argument or question by accident, but I honestly try to respond to every point you make.

    Otherwise it would be very easy for me to ignore and/or gloss over issues without addressing them, and often in re-reading them again I find I had missed something the first couple of times I read it.

    Why I am bringing this up is because I have raised various problems with your position (i.e. the zygote blastocyst problem of equal cells being given vastly differing moral value, the problem of destroyed personal identity in switching brains, the problem of retained identity despite DNA alteration… I think there are more but I can’t recall this second). None of them have really been responded to, so it is difficult to find the desire to continue presenting arguments if my arguments are not going to be responded to…

    I have already read over and responded to some of what you wrote but I will probably have to wait until morning to post it.

  35. @conservative2cents,

    “At every stage of my life, I was as complete a human being as I was able to be.”

    What does this mean? At each stage of life you were what you were. Prior to ~20 weeks you weren’t anybody, you had no memories, desires, dispositions, attitudes, etc. what do you mean by the terms “complete” and “fully.” I have seen these terms used a lot but I am not sure what point they are trying to make. When you are a zygote you are “completely” a human zygote. If you want to call that completely human, that is fine… But you would not be referring to the same thing I do when I say someone is “completely human.” A single cell is hardly a “complete” human being.

    “At birth, I was without self-awareness. But, I was all there.”

    No you weren’t “all there” unless you failed to never develop any further in life. Your development is a process which I have good reason to believe ends at death. You are “all there” in the sense that at birth you already had established a personal distinct identity (and not because of your DNA, as identical twins have identical DNA yet differing personal identities).

    ” And all that was there was a complete human being. The only human being with MY DNA.”

    Unless you were an identical twin… I doubt you want to deny them distinct personhood, do you?

    “You see, the reason I don’t go backwards past fertilization is that that’s the point at which I became a human being.”

    Sure, you were a human zygote, I don’t disagree, that is not an argument however.

    “Neither the sperm nor the egg was completely me.”

    Nor, I argue, was the zygote for many of the reasons I have presented and seen little response.

    Now I truly have to go to bed. Have a nice night, and I really do appreciate you addressing my comments in a largely respectful and well presented manner. It is always good to see people willing to engage in a discussion, especially on such an emotionally charged issue, without simply name calling. Thank you.

  36. person: a human being regarded as an individual.

    Facts about the issue:
    The embryo or fetus are alive organisms, in the case we are talking about, the DNA will state that they are humans. And we can tell them apart from the mother and the father, so they are individuals.

    I think person redefinitions are make ad hoc to justify killing these children.

    For example. “memories, desires, dispositions, attitudes, etc”. are used by austintxmusicteacher to say that an human baby is a person but a embryo or fetus is not.
    But an adult donkey can have memories, desires, dispositions, attitudes so according to austintxmusicteacher it would be a person.
    On the other hand, he forgets to mention “reasoning”. An human baby doesn’t reason and he doesn’t mention it as a personhood characteristic. Is it casual?

  37. Austintx,

    The reason I didn’t argue some of your points is that they are based on the premise that a personal identity is what “completes” a human being. I disagree. That’s why I brought up the regenerating brain scenario. It’s the same as a new human being developing in the womb. As I now understand your position, you do not think it’s a moral problem to kill the brain dead adult “between” brains, though you think it would be unseemly or disrespectful to stab it or tear it limb from limb. Is that close to your position on the hypothetical “brain regeneration” scenario?

    The twin question is silly. There are two personalities. Granted. I did not say that DNA let’s us know that a thing is Bob Smith, as opposed to his twin brother, Bubba. I said that it identifies it as a member of the human race, which is what I value before personal identity.

    The identical twins’ DNA came into existence at the same time. Any effort to stop it from developing into whatever it will become (one or more individuals) or to kill any one of the identical siblings would be an attempt to kill a complete human being. As complete as any other human being that had reached that stage of development.

    By the way, I can almost hear someone like you saying “Aha! DEVELOPMENT implies that a human is not yet “complete”!”. Very well, a 4 yr old is not as tall as she will be (if allowed to continue to grow). She’s still developing. So, what? Not that you would make the argument.

    Another argument you say you wouldn’t make is the one John’s post addresses. That you’re doing someone a favor by killing them before they’re born into a bad situation. Very well. For different reasons, we agree that this is a poorly thought out line of reasoning.

    It appears that where we disagree is why murder is wrong. I say it’s because we should let a human being live, simply because he’s human. “Do unto others…” is the most basic way of putting it.

    I wouldn’t want to be stabbed and torn apart before I had the chance to be born. And yes, I can say that, now. But I would not have been able to say it at the age of 6 months. My point is that a human being’s inability to say what they would have others do unto them cannot be the thing that makes it wrong.

    There are things we shouldn’t do because they’re morally wrong FOR US to do. Abortion kills a human being. It takes away another human being’s future. It’s something that COULD have happened to any of us at that age!

    I am not here to argue whether a thing without a brain has “moral standing”. I am here to say that the thing that is up for the chopping block (literally) is a thing like me. And on the most basic level, a zygote, embryo, fetus, or retiree ARE. They’re human beings.

    The one thing I think you’re completely wrong on is what makes a complete human being. It has been suggested that a newborn lacks self-awareness, a quality many say to be necessary for “personhood” to have been achieved. But is a newborn not a complete human being? Of course it is, even though it doesn’t know it.

    We can’t base a human being’s completeness on it’s level of physical development, which is what your requirement of “brain function and therefore personality” boils down to. It is only NOT a complete human being because you say it isn’t. It would be as if, because human beings walk upright, you can’t call a thing born without legs a complete human being. Exactly the same: pick a criterion and stick to it. OR… Because a newborn doesn’t walk upright, it is not a complete human being. You can’t logically say that what a thing is while it’s developing is not complete.

    Let’s say that an apple farmer values fruit-bearing trees for their ability to bear fruit. He sells enough apples to be able to plant another thousand trees. If, when they are saplings, I destroy them, would you say that what I destroyed was not a complete tree, based on their lack of the quality the farmer values in an apple tree? Would I not be responsible for the money he had lost? Let’s say they were a year old and a two year old apple tree will produce fruit. In addition for the expense of planting another thousand trees, I’d be responsible for the lost year of apple production, right?

    How can that be? I destroyed a mere one year old, non-fruit-bearing “thing”. Not a thing that has the quality we all agree should be protected, right?

    Did I or didn’t I destroy a thousand complete apple trees?

    • I just looked up “list of human rights”.

      There are many human rights lists. Most closely resemble the UN’s list.

      Among the rights listed is this:

      The right to be recognized as a person.

      And

      The right to life.

      These are not “person rights”. They’re HUMAN RIGHTS!

      WE have to list rights. Not only so that thinking human beings can know what their rights are. But, also so WE can agree on what WE MAY NOT DO to any other human, whether THEY know it or not. Whether they AGREE to it or not. Whether they are ABLE to agree to it or not.

      The recognition of human rights does not come FROM the individual human. It comes from the rest of us. WE have to protect each other.

      It’s important to recognize every HUMAN as a person. It’s universal. Because there will be those who say “Some humans can’t be recognized as persons due to a lack of x, y, or z”.

      There are already so-called ethicists who seek to legalize infanticide using YOUR line of reasoning. Who’s next?

      • https://siftingreality.com/2010/11/26/what-gives-you-the-right/

        C2C this was one of my first posts on abortion

        • Wow! I read a few of the comments. “Women need SPECIAL human rights!” Amazing!

          We would have male and female humans protected, AND restrict men and women from killing ANY human being (specifically before birth). EQUAL TREATMENT!

          Doesn’t it seem like WE actually care about HUMAN rights and EQUAL PROTECTION?

          Seriously. I can argue against it, but I still can’t understand why they fight for it so hard! They twist words and come up with a million “reasons”, most of which either just fall under the least bit of scrutiny or contradict some other “justification”. As soon as a hole is punched in one, they move to the next. They refuse to admit that they’re just wrong!

          WHY do they want it so bad?

          AND, if we could somehow convince them that unborn humans deserve “personhood” status, would they move the bar again?

      • The whole “we can kill them because they can’t object” notion is pretty disturbing

  38. I don’t have time to respond fully right now… But I did want to point out that my argument has never been “we can kill them because they can’t object.” My argument addresses what we are concerned with every day in terms of human persons (I don’t care what you want to call it I am just using the common philosophically agreed upon terminology) and arguing that a fetus cannot and does not have these feature prior to a certain point in time, just as a sperm and egg don’t. Your claims seem to be that the features I state are not the one’s we are truly morally interested in. I have pointed out multiple times the many difficulties with your criteria with little time spent having these points rebutted (for most of th I have seen essentially no rebuttal)… But I will address them again when I have a chance to respond to you further.

    I guess I would just ask that you maybe think a little more carefully about wha is essential to the rights of the human condition… I think such rights were rightfully established prior to any knowledge of DNA, and would be rightfully extended to an alien species of similar intelligence to us, despite lacking and similarity in biology or DNA.

  39. Austin,

    “Just to let you know, I am not terribly interested in exchanging ad homonym attacks. I will do my best to avoid disparaging your intelligence, moral character, etc. as long as
    you do me the same courtesy.”

    You’re not obliged to exchange anything. But regardless of your level of intelligence, I thought the comment you made was stupid. That happens, especially from otherwise intelligent people trying to justify abortion. And as I regard all people from the moment of their conception onward until their death as equally worthy of the right to life, those who disagree cannot help but risk their moral status doing so. That does not require me disparaging such people at all. The pro-abort position does that for them. And just to let YOU know, I have no problem with being labelled in any way as long as an explanation follows, as I did in my response to your comment.

    Regarding “essential characteristics of personhood”, that is quite subjective, don’t you think? I have yet to see anyone who promotes such notions provide anything more compelling than subjective criteria. An essential characteristic upon which we both can agree is that one is human and alive. Beyond that, you offer nothing provable, nothing based on biology. Yours is ONLY opinion. Once again, the “essential characteristics of personhood” you ascribe are conveniently lacking in the unborn. It cannot be helped given their level of development wherein such “essential characteristics of personhood” cannot yet exist. Thus, you are holding against the little guys that their particular stage of development at which they exist do not provide for you those “essential characteristics of personhood”. That must be a great relief when your woman in inconveniently pregnant.

    BTW, I have added more at the other post (Is Abortion Murder?) and will carry on there as well if you like.

    • Marshalart, There’s the rub. You and I agree about the subjectiveness of their criteria. And that a young fetus’s lack of the traits they require is the reason they require them.

      And so, austintx says “The person doesn’t exist… YET! And you can’t murder something that isn’t a person”.

      He doesn’t seem to understand the importance of DNA. That we truly have something that exists that can be identified as a separate living human being in front of us when we decide whether or not to kill it.

      Can you think of a way to make sense to austintx?

  40. @conservative2cents,

    I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply, I hope you have not given up on me yet :
    I will begin by addressing your question as best I can.

    As far as I can see, the issue of the apple faer is a rather straightforward matter of property rights. If you want to get into the meta-ethical foundation of Desirism on which my desire for the protection of property rights is based, I can. But to make a long story short…

    The “tree-killer” I think would be responsible for at minimum not only the current but the prospective value of the plants in the near term (meaning the relevant harvest cycle). The reason having nothing to do with the “life-status” of the fruit trees, the scenario would be essentially the same if a factory were destroyed, not only the value of the factory would need replacement but the estimated value of its production.

    The only real relevance I would see for the current discussion is that it would have some applicability to an abortion committed against the mother’s will. In which case it would be a serious violation of her rights and due to its interference with her desire to have a child should be considered a very serious crime… I would feel similarly even if no embryo was involved, for instance if a harm was done as to destroy or seriously damage someone’s reproductive abilities. Obviously the ability to produce offspring naturally is something many people place a great deal of value on.

    I hope that goes some ways toward addressing your question. I honestly think it is rather dis-analogous to abortion and not very relevant as I don’t see the primary moral concern in the case of abortion to be a matter of property rights… Although some might frame it that way.

    As for issues I have not really seen addressed, to start with, maybe we could focus on the zygote, the egg immediately post fertilization, and the stages immediately following.

    ****My main questions regarding this first scenario is whether or not I correctly represent your ethical position? And secondly, is it not odd that essentially identical cells can both be considered a morally protected “person” or equal to a skin cell merely based on its spatial relation to other cells.”?*****

    I would appreciate it if you could avoid discussing the “completeness” of various things without explaining the relevance, ethical or otherwise… A zygote is a complete zygote, an incomplete adult, a complete fertilized ovum, an incomplete blastocyst, and (in my opinion) a non-person for moral purposes. I have no problem you calling it a complete human being I you want, but merely labeling it as such has no moral relevance unless you explain why the category “complete human being” can be justified as a moral category and what the essential criteria are. So far I am not sure what you mean by “complete” and why it would even matter. A paraplegic is a physically “incomplete” human being in a certain sense, but this in no way limits their moral status as a “person.”

    So to start with, the initial zygote is a single cell.

    To terminate this cell would be considered by you to be murder.

    This zygote then divides into two essentially identical cells. At this point, again or me know if I am wrong, if I was to terminate a single one of these cells, it would be equivalent to killing a skin cell (i.e. morally permissible and not murder) as killing a single one would not disrupt the development of the child in any noticeable way. Now each of these cells is almost identical to the original zygote, yet in the first scenario it is murder, and in the second it is not.

    Now if we don’t terminate either cell, but instead see them separate into two differentiated embryos, despite the cells being physically identical, you would now consider them two “persons” for moral purposes. The cell that moments before could have been eliminated with ethical impunity is now capable of being murdered. The only difference between whether or not it should be considered murder seems to be the relation of the cells to each other.

    And then if these two cells divide, it will once again no longer be murder as long as they remain grouped… All essentially identical cells switching back and forth from an absolute prohibition on their elimination and, as far as I can see, essentially no prohibition.

    This would be the first problem (in my eyes) that I have not seen addressed.

    P.S. if you wish to address me by my first name, it is Andrew… Austin, Tx is where I live. Not that it matters much to me, it just feels a little strange as my screen name is not usually as it appears here for some reason :)

  41. Andrew,

    I will respond to your last at the other post, but you touch on some the main argument above. To which I will respond again:

    “A zygote is a complete zygote…” and a child is a complete child, also not a fully formed adult. The problem with this is that we’re talking about, first, a human zygote, and secondly, that at its current stage is fully human just as you are now at your own current stage of development. Again, you are holding its stage of development against it simply for being at that particular stage and no further. You then subjectively name aspects, such as self-awareness, as an objective point at which we can decide to allow it its humanity. You need more than that as it is based only on your preference that it be so, and no other more solid or fact based argument.

    As to the cell division angle, once again, we don’t know what will happen if one of the two cells from the first division is destroyed. I, personally, don’t know how that would affect the process from that point, as I had indicated. Does the zygote simply divide until the minimum required 32 (I believe) cells move it to the next stage, or would that surviving cell stop at its own designed maximum? If the latter, then only 16 cells would result and likely, no further development (or worse, a mutation) would occur and thus, destroying one of the two cells from the initial division would equate to killing a human being.

    The uniqueness, then of the zygote is more than simply being another single cell, equal to any other in the adult human body. It is indeed a fully formed human being at its current stage of development. Not a fully formed adult human being, but a fully formed human being nonetheless.

  42. Also, as we can’t be sure that a set of twins are not formed, or cannot be formed, by the initial division becoming two distinct entities, to sever one cell from the two might indeed be paramount to killing a potential twin. The main point is that the cells in question are not akin to skin cells simply because they are cell sized or a “copy” of the original zygote. That, too, is a subjective opinion on your part.

  43. @marshalart,

    “The problem with this is that we’re talking about, first, a human zygote, and secondly, that at its current stage is fully human just as you are now at your own current stage of development.”

    This is just an assertion, or a matter of semantics. I would not consider a zygote “fully human” in the sense that I am “fully human.” I am guessing that this is likely because we are thinking of differing meanings of “fully human,” however, not necessarily any disagreements on the facts of the matter. I could say a sperm and egg are both “fully human.” We both were at one time gametes and necessarily had to pass through this stage to become who we are today. You could argue that neither of these had the complete set of genetic material by themselves, but I could just say that “we all” had to go through this stage of development and that at that stage our DNA is contained in separate cells. Are you going to hold it against the sperm and egg that they have yet to fuse? We all were at one time pre-fused gametes.

    “You then subjectively name aspects, such as self-awareness, as an objective point at which we can decide to allow it its humanity. You need more than that as it is based only on your preference that it be so, and no other more solid or fact based argument.”

    Did I say self-awareness anywhere? If I did it was a mistake, but I don’t believe I ever did.

    How exactly are your criteria (I am unclear as to exactly what they are) objective and mine subjective? I find people often use the terms “objective” and “subjective” to represent all kinds of different concepts, so what exactly do you mean by this?

    I know there are many things you have said that I have yet to address, but if you have the time I would appreciate if you could respond to the following:

    If someone has their heart (or portions of their heart) replaced with another person’s heart, pig’s heart, or mechanical heart, I would not consider this murder… Even if their old heart is just thrown in the trash.

    If someone’s brain was replaced, and their original brain was thrown in the trash I WOULD consider this murder.

    Assuming you agree with me, how do you account for this under your criteria for personhood, human being, what-have-you?

  44. @marshalart,

    “‘A zygote is a complete zygote…’ and a child is a complete child, also not a fully formed adult. The problem with this is that we’re talking about, first, a human zygote, and secondly, that at its current stage is fully human just as you are now at your own current stage of development.”

    What do these statements “fully human,” “completely human,” etc. mean? A zygote is a human cell that often develops into a child after some time. Most zygotes I would presume (I don’t actually know for sure) are complete in the sense of containing the standard set of organelles, membranes, mitochondria, and a complete set of DNA (though I believe it does not combine into a single set until the daughter cells are produced). Are these what you mean by “complete?” These features are possessed by somatic cells as well. Do you mean complete because it solely possesses that information? What do you mean?

  45. In it’s natural state, that being within the mother without interference it would not encounter naturally, it is fully human in that state as you are in your current state. It is a person growing into adulthood, just like an infant or toddler. Your “what if’s” require something unnatural in order to make your argument work. The human zygote is a person at his earliest stage of development as it is, without tampering in any way. You seem to want to compare this single cell, which will, in its natural state, develop into a fully grown adult, with single cells that, while containing many of the same characteristics, won’t. The zygote is a direct result of the very process designed to bring about a new person, while every other human cell is an indirect result of that process. The zygote must be a person because of that as no person can exist without having gone through that stage. One must regard the situation only in its actual context, not with the hypothetical alterations, such as destroying one of the two cells of the initial division.

  46. @marshalart,

    I have to say I feel bad because there have definitely been issues that you raised several posts ago that I have not had a chance to address, as I am trying to keep up with the most recent ones. I just want you to know I am not ignoring them intentionally and I will do my best to integrate responses into my posts as I go.

    “In it’s natural state, that being within the mother without interference it would not encounter naturally,”

    “Natural” is a very ambiguous concept, one reason why I avoid using it unless I am explicit about what I mean. By “natural” in this context (please correct me if I am wrong), you seem to mean without conscious human interference I am guessing?

    “it is fully human in that state as you are in your current state.”

    I said “guessing” before because the way you refer to “natural” in the first half and “natural” in the second half seem different. Maybe there is something I am missing here. In what sense is the embryo “natural” in the same way I am “natural?” And what moral relevance does that have? Is something being “natural” am intrinsic good?

    “It is a person growing into adulthood, just like an infant or toddler.”

    With, in my judgement, the important difference being that it does not have (prior to ~20 weeks) any personal properties (dispositions, thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.). Can you show me a being without these that would be rather uncontroversially consider morally protected as a person? Can you show me a clear and consistent property of personhood that does not contain these? For instance:

    I am pretty confident I would care equally for my friends even if they were altered genetically to an extreme degree, even if I found out they were an alien life-form who had never been genetically human, even if they were merely a brain in a jar speaking through a computer and kept alive through extremely “unnatural” means (Stephen Hawking isn’t far from this position). I think most people would agree with me about these, why? What is the common thread?

    If my friend had his heart replaced, I would worry about him, but I would not bat an eye as to his humanity or the continuation of his individuality as a person… why?

    If someone was able to keep my friend’s hand, leg, lungs, alive and yet there wasn’t the ability to re-attach or return them to my friend, it would not be murder to let them die would it? why? If someone I knew had all their limbs, lungs, heart, skin, and several internal digestive organs replaced with another’s, I would not consider him to be murdered/dead/or non-existent, why? He’s had the majority of his body removed and replaced with another’s, yet I think almost everyone would agree that the person they spoke to was still their friend, why? How does your moral presentation explain this?

    By contrast, if a friend’s brain was able to be kept alive, without the technology or ability to attach it to a body, I would be very hesitant to let it go, and very inclined to call it murder if someone intentionally let that brain die, even if their body was being kept alive separately. In contrast to having legs, skin, organs removed, as described above, if my friend’s brain was replaced, I would consider the person with whom I spoke a different person, why? Am I wrong to think that? Much less tissue was exchanged in this example.

    How do you account for any of this? My ethical framework regarding personhood quite nicely accounts for all of this, but I do not see how your’s does.

  47. @marshalart,

    “Your ‘what if’s’ require something unnatural in order to make your argument work.”

    Again, what is meant by “natural” vs. “unnatural,” and of what moral importance is it?

    “The human zygote is a person at his earliest stage of development as it is, without tampering in any way. You seem to want to compare this single cell, which will, in its natural state, develop into a fully grown adult, with single cells that, while containing many of the same characteristics, won’t.”

    I am comparing them in the sense that they both lack personal characteristics. In addition, how does the fact that the zygote might possibly develop into an infant change the fact that it is still a single cell? How many cells must exist before one can be destroyed without it being murder? 2? 10? 100? 1,000,000? Are all embryonic cells persons? Why would a single cell amongst many not be a person, but a single cell not part of a greater organism IS a person? Simply because it has the ability to divide millions of times and eventually result in an infant?

    “The zygote is a direct result of the very process designed to bring about a new person, while every other human cell is an indirect result of that process.”

    I personally wouldn’t use the word “designed” here, but setting that aside, why does that matter? A sperm is a direct result of a process “designed” to bring about a new person. I am aware of the basics of biology, how does any of this make a single cell more of a personal being? (Some of this admittedly relates to the conversation with C2C I will have to get back to, but maybe you have another perspective).

    “The zygote must be a person because of that as no person can exist without having gone through that stage.”

    That is clearly a logical fallacy, without question. No person can exist without going through the stage of being a sperm and egg… No sperm and egg, no person. Therefore the sperm is a person.

    All apples had to at one time result from a stage as a seed, therefore a seed MUST be an apple.

    That makes no logical sense.

    “One must regard the situation only in its actual context, not with the hypothetical alterations, such as destroying one of the two cells of the initial division.”

    Who made this rule? Everything we are discussing is hypothetical in the sense that we are not speaking about any actual specific instance of abortion involving a specific person in context.

    Setting that aside, the method of argumentation I am employing is basically the very foundation of all applied ethical and legal debates throughout history. I am not even sure how we could have an argument without them.

    I certainly agree that hypotheticals and thought experiments can become overly abstracted to the point of irrelevance, or can be overly metaphorical to the point of serving no purpose, false analogies and the like, but I feel my examples have been rather straight forward and meant to show logical problems with the claims you are making. If you feel your claims and criteria need not be logical, that is fine, that would be the end of conversation.

    As an example (sorry but it is hypothetical). If I said that the only thing that makes me an individual person is the continuity and uniqueness of my DNA, than that means I MUST (by virtue of the very principals of logic) be committed to the claims that identical twins are not individual persons, that altering someone’s DNA would destroy there individual personhood and create a brand new one, etc. I cannot hold the first view and deny its consequences without contradicting myself.

    Do you agree that any criteria or framework must be logically defensible and its implications must equally be logically defensible? If your ethical view is consistent then why would there be any difficulty in responding to these questions?

  48. Andrew,

    By “natural”, I am trying to express the actual process unfettered by outside conscious interference. We must consider the situation in this light only. The hypothetical possibilities, such as destroying one of the two cells from the initial division, are irrelevant in determining whether or not the human zygote constitutes a person. I base my position that it is a person on the very obvious fact that it, like you, is the intended result of the procreative activity of its parents. Not “conscious” intention, but intention of the act by virtue of the purpose of the act. Intercourse is designed for procreation, though used for pleasure, and thus, the result of that act, the zygote, must be a person.

    “In what sense is the embryo “natural” in the same way I am “natural?” And what moral relevance does that have? Is something being “natural” am intrinsic good?”

    It’s not that being natural is an intrinsic good. It’s that what is natural in the process of procreation and fetal development trumps the hypothetical possibilities to which I refer above. That is to say, “well, he could have two antlers and a tail”, but doesn’t, so to offer such a hypothetical is pointless and moot. In the same way, to speak of destroying one of the two cells from the initial division is also irrelevant and pointless in defending the position you’ve taken. “What ifs” should at least reflect actual possibilities, something that is actually likely in order to be relevant to the discussion.

    The comparison between the embryo being natural in the same way you are is to make the connection between each of you being persons, human beings worthy of protection. You are not a person of such value because you are self-aware, have memories, etc., but because like the zygote, you are the product of your parents’ sexual, procreative union.

    Your entire argument from the first of your last two responses are based on these hypothetical possibilities. In addition, they also take place after each representation of a former zygote were allowed to live and development beyond the womb. You continue to make your case with your arbitrary line of demarcation in place, supported by your subjective criteria.

    “Why would a single cell amongst many not be a person, but a single cell not part of a greater organism IS a person?”

    Because of the distinct nature of each cell in question (in its natural state). You answer your own question with your last question in this paragraph: “Simply because it has the ability to divide millions of times and eventually result in an infant.”

    “A sperm is a direct result of a process “designed” to bring about a new person.”

    You’re confusing “process” with the equipment necessary to implement the process. A sperm cell is part of the equipment required, as much as the organ which delivers it. The zygote is the product of that process. A sperm cell will never become anything without uniting with the other equipment to which it is delivered for uniting. So, the process of which I speak is intercourse. If you want to speak of the sperm as being a result of a process, then you must speak of the process of producing that which is used for another process. It is the result of a process for providing what is necessary for the process of procreation. But that process is not the process of procreation itself.

  49. Continuing…

    I said: “The zygote must be a person because of that as no person can exist without having gone through that stage.”

    …to which you said: “That is clearly a logical fallacy, without question. No person can exist without going through the stage of being a sperm and egg… No sperm and
    egg, no person. Therefore the sperm is a person.”

    Absolutely untrue. The person in the form of a zygote is the union between a particular sperm and a particular ovum. The sperm without an ovum is just a sperm cell and the ovum just an ovum. There is no person without that union. Ironically, it is here where the phrase “potential person” is actually accurate, as the sperm might become a person if it gets the chance to unite with an ovum. But once it does, the potential is realized and a person now exists.

    “Who made this rule? Everything we are discussing is hypothetical in the sense that we are not speaking about any actual specific instance of abortion involving a specific
    person in context.”

    Not at all. There is a huge distinction between the natural process and the idea of interceding in that process to divide the two cells of the original division. And again, you are assuming no person exists without having made that case, upon which this discussion is based. If you are going to argue that abortion isn’t murder, then you must first establish that no human exists. But you are too often taking that for granted when you have yet to establish the premise.

    “Do you agree that any criteria or framework must be logically defensible and its implications must equally be logically defensible? If your ethical view is consistent then
    why would there be any difficulty in responding to these questions?”

    To the first question, I do agree. What’s more, I believe that my position satisfies that notion entirely. Again, there is only one process by which a new person is brought into existence. The result of that process, then, can only be a new person. Where’s the hole in this argument, the flaw in this logic? I don’t see how your position follows the notion nearly so well. It requires the fantastic to make the point. Mine is much more straightforward and reality based. What’s more, it requires going to great lengths to squeeze out some semblance of a connection to reality. Destroying one of the two cells of the first division? Keeping the brain of a friend alive in a jar? What is left on the walls of the barrel you had to scrape for these arguments?

    I don’t mean to sound insulting, but it is just these kinds of rationalizations that elicit harsh responses that seem insulting. The feeling of insult is a consequence of the stretch required to push the position you hold.

  50. @marshalart,

    “By ‘natural’, I am trying to express the actual process unfettered by outside conscious interference.”

    Without “conscious interference” conception would never happen in the first place. By that definition conception itself is “unnatural.”

    “We must consider the situation in this light only.”

    Why? Upon what basis do you get to declare this rule? As I point out, without “conscious interference” no one would have ever been born, so this fails as a criteria from the get go.

    “The hypothetical possibilities, such as destroying one of the two cells from the initial division, are irrelevant in determining whether or not the human zygote constitutes a person.”

    What makes this question relevant is that it exposes what I find to be a muddled set of conclusions and distinction for which I have seen no good answer. If your moral framework can’t deal with this scenario without contradiction or absurdities than something must be wrong… There is nothing impossible about this scenario, in fact I think it might likely take place in research and work relayed to in vitro fertilization. That is really beside the point though, because it is a rather straightforward question as to try and ascertain what your view is and whether it is logical and coherent. Why would you be unable to address it in a consistent way?

    I am honestly still unsure as to what your moral claims are, so I am also partly trying to find out what you even believe and are arguing for by using these scenarios.

    And not to belabor the point, these kinds of hypotheticals are the very foundation of the philosophy of applied ethics, and not because ethicists are just silly people who want to come up with a crazy story.

    Just to give a completely unrelated example. Let’s say I claim that anytime anyone knowingly causes the death of someone not in self defense it is murder.

    Might sound like a fine criteria, but hold on. What if I am on the ledge of a building and someone pushes me off so that I land on someone and kill them while they were exiting the building. I would qualify all these categories I just put in place for murder, yet we would almost universally agree that the person being pushed was not responsible for murder. Now this is somewhat of an absurd scenario, but it none-the-less demonstrated that the criteria for murder presented must be false because, regardless of the unlikelihood of the actual event, it is inconsistent with how we use the concept of murder.

    THAT is the point of the examples I raise. None of them are impossible, and none of them present scenarios that should be to terribly difficult for an accurate moral system to handle.

    “I base my position that it is a person on the very obvious fact that it, like you, is the intended result of the procreative activity of its parents. Not ‘conscious’ intention, but intention of the act by virtue of the purpose of the act.”

    I don’t believe in a natural or theistic teleology, so this claim is at best false, and at worst incoherent from my perspective. Actors have intentions, no acts. An act also need not have a singular purpose.

    Are closest living primate relatives the Bonobos engage in sexual activities for a wide variety of purposes, only occasionally for procreation.

    “Intercourse is designed for procreation, though used for pleasure, and thus, the result of that act, the zygote, must be a person.”

    This is a fallacy. I have a knife that is designed for cutting tomatoes, I stabbed you with it, therefore you must be a tomato. Or possibly better, a car factory is designed for making cars, therefore everything that leaves it must be a car…. Wrong, this is just logically invalid.

    I will have to address the rest later.

  51. Just a quick note and I’ll respond more fully later:

    The knife in question, like all knives, is designed for cutting. That it is marketed for cutting tomatoes is merely a marketing thing. Any blade is made for cutting. Cutting is its purpose. What’s more, like intercourse being used for pleasure, using a knife to stab me doesn’t necessarily alter its intended purpose, even if narrowly drawn for cutting tomatoes. Like intercourse, the use of the knife for stabbing is a use not intended regardless if it satisfies the alternative use. A wrench isn’t made for hammering nails, but if it is big enough and in hand when a popped nail is discovered, it’ll do the trick. Doesn’t have anything to do with its intended or designed purpose.

  52. @Marshalart & C2C,

    So I was in the middle of responding to many of the issues that have been posted when I thought of another way of going about demonstrating my position.

    Let’s begin with an adult. You both agree that despite its cells being genetically human, removing or killing them is not murder, because the skin cells are not the person.

    What or where is the person though? If I remove an individual’s foot, they are still a “full” person in the moral sense, I think we would agree. The foot by contrast, even if attached to equipment which keeps it alive and growing, is not a person. Same if both feet were removed. Okay, what about the hands? If we remove the hands they neither become individual persons nor void the originator’s personhood. Same with the arms and the legs.

    Now if we kept the arms, legs, feet, etc. alive, why are they not the person instead of the remaining torso? You can’t simply say now that it is because the the arms, legs, etc. are only a part of the person, therefore not a person, because I could easily say the same thing about the remaining torso, it is only “part” of the human body. Is it merely a matter of weight, as soon as the pile of limbs and organs becomes greater than the head and torso pile they will become the person? Of course not. So how do you explain this, why is the torso the person and not the arms, legs, etc.?

    I could obviously keep going as well. What if I removed their heart and replaced it with a mechanical heart? Liver? Kidneys?

    Why can I remove most of the body and yet still leave the completely morally intact individual person behind? How do you explain this? Nothing you have said so far explains why this would be true? What body part needs to be removed before the person no longer remains and why? How do you determine which collection of human flesh is the person and which is not?

  53. Andrew,

    Regarding the destroying of one of the two initial cells, I think I responded in a manner quite consistent with my position. Since I don’t know if a “natural” split at this point occurs (as in twins developing), I can only speculate as to whether it might. My thought was that if it does happen this early and results in twins, then to destroy on of the two initial cells from the first division would be akin to murder. I say this due to the destruction being an interference with the natural process. Also, I don’t know with any certainty if this interference also disrupts the further dividing of the initial cell in a manner that compromises the integrity of the process, possibly resulting in the death of the remaining cell.

    Basically, my position is this: any interference with the natural process is to be avoided due to the fact that a person is developing. If interference is to take place, it should only be to preserve the process and help bring the being to term. Any interference that risks that outcome is morally negative. Thus, your hypothetical regarding destroying one of the two cells from the initial division would fall in this area.

    Thus, the hypothetical possibilities you present do not satisfy that criteria and always seem to put the developing person at risk, or, treats it like something it is not, which is indeed a developing human being. Unless and until an argument can be made that is based on something less subjective than what you’ve offered thus far, I see little that satisfies the type of argumentation you seek to employ. All of your arguments seems to challenge ethical behavior severely because it assumes no human life is developing until subjective lines are crossed.

    More later.

  54. @marshalart,

    I already have responses written to many of your recent points. I was wondering if you would humor me and respond to my most recen post first. Thank you, I would greatly appreciate it.

  55. Hey, dude. I’m playing “catch-up”, too, so please bear with me.

    If by “most recent post”, you’re referring to that of December 17, 2012 at 10:56 PM, then my response is thus:

    Your hypotheticals seem to be getting more desperate. Cutting off body parts? That would prove nothing more than the fact that you are one sick dude in need of incarceration and years of counseling.

    But more to the point, the angle, like the others you’ve tried, all seem to miss the one underlying point upon which my position is based. From conception until the last breath is drawn, each of us is a person with a life worthy of protection by virtue of the FACT that we are all products of the union of two other persons who engaged in an activity designed to bring about a new person using body parts designed for the purpose of doing so (quite often referred to as “reproductive” organs). Thus, our humanity has nothing to do with things like self-awareness, number of cells or body parts. Your arguments, like most defending abortion, MUST ignore this salient point in order to give any credence to those very subjective lines of demarcation. The reality is that there is no real question as to when life begins, when one is a person worthy of respect and defense, but only how “your side” can make irrelevant arguments mean something that anyone should take as intellectually honest. This isn’t meant as a personal shot at you, but a real explanation of what the debate is all about.

  56. @marshalart,

    I am fine sticking only to one comment section, I am just trying to reply where the comments have actually been made, but is C2C reads this and agrees with you to relocate his comments here, I am completely fine with that.

    Oi! It is extremely difficult to get you describe what your fundamental criteria for anything is!

    I have never met anyone so resistant to analyzing their philosophical beliefs.

    Let me try a more abstract (but don’t worry, no hypotheticals!) approach.

    What is the essential difference between a collection of living genetically human cells, and a collection of living genetically human cells that are also a person?

    I think this conversation will go much more smoothly if you try to answer my questions without assuming you know my motive for asking them and by accepting them for what they are, an attempt to establish fundamental philosophical positions… Since we are talking about applied ethics, which is a branch of philosophy.

    Please just TRY to honestly answer the question, I am not trying to trick you.

    (P.S. you have made multiple claims and asked why they are wrong. They are completely logically invalid but I REALLY feel that we need to establish the above first so as not to have too many items on the table so as to get too far distracted. I really appreciate you humoring me and I promise this will be the last time I am so demanding in this discussion.)

    • Looks like the party is over here. I’ll abandon the other post.

      You determine what part constitutes an organism. A hand doesn’t have enough parts to continue to live. The rest of the body is an organism. It can live. It’s as complete an organism as it is (missing a part).

      • I know marshalart doesn’t like this, but… In the case of the first cell division: The organism becomes a two-part organism. If the first cell can be destroyed without stopping the second cell from living, it would be as if you cut off my hand, or if a skin cell died and fell off. It’s not that killing “a” cell is murder. It’s that the first cell, before it divides, is the whole organism. It is unique (new member of the species). It is alive. It has everything it needs to grow to become a larger, older, multi-cell organism. The first cell is the first glimpse of the new human being. It is not potentially a human organism. It Is entirely itself and has every trait other oranisms have.

  57. @conservative2cents,

    I apologize, I misread you. I somehow apparently substituted “activity” with “function” and upon re-reading just noticed. Since there is an important distinction between activity and function I had mistakenly believed there was an issue and only caught it now.

    As I apparently was just being a jack-@$$ and feel bad about it, I might as well take a second to clarify a couple of issues that may be of importance to you since you think it is a central topic.

    There are different kinds of death. For instance organ donation is only possible by virtue of the fact that after a person’s vital functions cease, the biological functions of individual cells, organs, and tissues continue. Medical professionals place these organs on ice as to slow down their metabolism as much as possible. Therefore you could say the organ is “alive” even if the body to which they belonged is dead.

    Individual organ and tissue death is usually the result if necrosis where the individual cells literally break down and rupture.

    Necrosis is medically very well defined. Organismal death is a more slippery topic. Almost every dictionary I looked at (Oxford, Merriam-Webster) used some variation on “a permanent cessation of all vital functions,” “the permanent ending of vital processes in a cell or tissue,” etc.

    You may notice these definitions, as well as your “the permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism” are somewhat circular.

    The cessation of “VITAL” functions, is essentially synonymous with the cessation of LIFE functions. In other words, death is the ending of life… Not very informative.

    Similarly your definition basically says that death is the end of the functions that make something alive. Not very useful in the distinction between life and death :)

    It is understandable considering, as I have pointed out, legally and philosophically there has been much debate on the topic. Should the failure of large organs such as the lungs & heart constitute death, or solely the lack of any brain activity, or just brain activity in the neo-cortex? What conditions can be recovered from? Is it even a good idea to revive someone if they have incurred so much brain damage that they will be in a permanent vegetative state? Etc.

    The main point is that something can be alive in one sense and dead in another. A liver can be “alive” even if the originator of the liver is dead.

    Feel free to mock me for my stupid mistake, I probably deserve it ;)

  58. @conservative2cents,
    “Looks like the party is over here. I’ll abandon the other post.”

    Welcome! Hope you don’t mind, it is much more exciting over here :)

    “You determine what part constitutes an organism. A hand doesn’t have enough parts to continue to live. The rest of the body is an organism. It can live. It’s as complete an organism as it is (missing a part).”

    I am not sure what you mean by “what part constitutes an organism,” but this criteria seems to rater plainly fail. This should make Mashalart happy, I am going to refer to real life examples!

    Virtually any human tissue can be grown and kept alive given the proper environment and nutrients. Organs, tissues, ears, and likely one day even hands and virtually any other body part, can be grown or maintained in a living state. So are these “persons?” They have “enough parts to continue to live.” As I pointed out before, the only way I can see an attempt to salvage this criteria is to say “Aha! But the tissues, organs, etc. cannot sustain life on their own, so they don’t count!”

    Well neither could Dick Cheney, and despite what many liberals think, I still consider him a person, yet his life is only maintained through artificial means.

    So, like I said before, either elucidate these criteria, or come up with another one.

    (I personally think you won’t be able to because you are desperately trying to avoid the most plain and obvious criteria in order to avoid its implications… But I could be wrong)

    • A heart transplant keeps the organism alive. The organism had not died before the part was replaced. For the record, if an old human’s heart fails and the human dies, that’s that. The human dies.

      I think the definition of death (the action) is important because it describes the effect of abortion perfectly. Abortion causes an organism to die.

      You want to take a physical trait that is related to the death of an older human (absence of brain function) and say that since a fetus lacks brain function, it isn’t alive yet. It’s almost as if you’re saying that a fetus IS dead!

      That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the deceit. Pick the thing that, when lost, society recognizes the death of a human that is otherwise as “alive” as any other human being, and then say that since a fetus is in the same state, we may consider it to be just as alive as a brain dead adult, and no more. Therefore, no more thought on the subject is required.

      The sickest part of this callous way of thinking about life is that it takes things we absolutely value (personality) and uses it against the young human. Of course we value brain activity. The brain activity that results in a great sense of humor, for example, is something we have a deep emotional attachment to in a fellow human being. That’s what we miss when someone dies. That’s why we want to protect a person’s biological functions. We don’t greive the loss of a loved one’s metabolism, but without it, there would be no personality.

      Your argument dismisses the fact that biological function is the basis for personality, and therefore, it’s the basis for personhood. Your argument works for the end of life. Not the beginning.

      We protect the organism’s function. Every human organism’s function BEGINS at fertilization.

  59. Andrew,

    “Oi! It is extremely difficult to get you describe what your fundamental criteria for anything is!”

    I thought I was quite clear:

    ” From conception until the last breath is drawn, each of us is a person with a life worthy of protection by virtue of the FACT that we are all products of the union of two other
    persons who engaged in an activity designed to bring about a new person using body parts designed for the purpose of doing so (quite often referred to as “reproductive” organs).”

    I don’t know what more I need or how much more fundamental I can be. We’re people, persons, human beings (whatever) because we are of human beings. Certainly, at our current stage of development, we possess traits and characteristics that we regard as “me”. But the simple fact is that those things, our minds for example, are at the stage of development common to all humans at the same stage. It is merely one more thing that goes through the process, but it doesn’t define our person hood or humanity. (It merely defines a specific individual.)

    You seem to be looking for one specific point at which we are persons of value and worth and a list of criteria for that purpose. I have stated my position on this point repeatedly. Conception. From the point where the sperm and ovum are one until such time as death occurs. The only criteria that matters is that it is the product of its mother and father uniting in the act designed to bring it about. Anything else is subjective.

  60. “I thought I was quite clear:
    ‘From conception until the last breath is drawn, each of us is a person with a life worthy of protection by virtue of the FACT that we are all products of the union of two other
    persons who engaged in an activity designed to bring about a new person using body parts designed for the purpose of doing so (quite often referred to as ‘reproductive’ organs).”

    Okay, for starters, even IF I accept many of the elements in that statement with which I disagree (such as the teleological references) it is as a matter of FACT a LOGICALLY INVALID argument.

    A toaster is designed to make toast. That NEITHER means that the bread INSTANTLY becomes toast as soon as it is inserted, NOR does it mean that ANYTHING that comes out of a toaster MUST be toast.

    Or to use our specific topic. The male’s genitalia is “designed” to best fertilize a female’s ova. Does this mean anytime someone masturbates they are fertilizing eggs?

    Now I agree that one of the main functions of reproductive organs are to begin the process that creates persons… It does NOT logically follow that therefore this process INSTANTLY creates a person.

    So this argument simply fails.

    Setting that aside, this response is NOT a response to the question I asked. How does this answer the question, what is the difference between a collection of living human cells, and a collection of living human cells that are also a person? It is a straightforward question, why are you avoiding a response?

    “Anything else is subjective.”

    As my criteria is based on objective physical features (the existence of a developed cerebral cortex), therefore it is no more “subjective” than your criteria.

    Secondly, are you saying that whether a human liver being grown in a medical lab is a person or not is subjective? That it is merely a subjective matter of opinion whether it is murder to let it die?

    If you think that whether killing any collection of human cells is murder is a subjective question, I would be very surprised.

    I would also point out that one’s position should attempt to be as consistent as possible. Saying you only need to address one specific circumstance and nothing else is called special pleading and terms your argument into a mere assertion.

  61. @conservative2cents,

    “It’s that the first cell, before it divides, is the whole organism. It is unique (new member of the species).”

    When you say unique, do you mean genetically? So, you would agree that my position is correct that killing the cell when collected together with a fellow sister cell is not murder, but killing that same cell if it separates to create a twin is murder?

    “It is alive. It has everything it needs to grow to become a larger, older, multi-cell organism.”

    So do the initial “seed” cells used when creating human organs in labs. They introduce cells and these cells grow to fill out the scaffolding and create the entire multicellular organ (it is actually incredibly amazing and fascinating if you are interested in links to information on this process it is quite crazy). In fact, just like an embryo, the most important thing is the environment it has to grow in.

    In addition, as I pointed out, when a person does not have all the necessary components one needs to grow, survive, and thrive, we don’t discount them as a person, we attempt to make up and provide for those shortcomings.

    “The first cell is the first glimpse of the new human being. It is not potentially a human organism. It Is entirely itself and has every trait other oranisms have.”

    This is just not true. Certainly I have many traits that organism doesn’t have, and the traits that we do share are also shared by other things such as lab grown organs. That is unless you can provide important criteria and properties to distinguish. The zygote has the potential to grow into any tissue and organ in the body, but scientists regularly take somatic cells and change them into stem cells which do the same.

    So specifically what are these traits you are referring to that make it a special morally relevant being, other than a cell of unique genetic origin?

    • The most important thing to MY life is my environment. I need to be in an environment with adequate oxygen, the right temperature range, and food. So what? That’s what people need. The right environment. The right environment for a fetus is the mother’s womb.

  62. @C2C,

    “A heart transplant keeps the organism alive. The organism had not died before the part was replaced.”

    Did I say it had?

    “For the record, if an old human’s heart fails and the human dies, that’s that. The human dies.”

    Ok… Was this meant to be in response to something?

    “I think the definition of death (the action) is important because it describes the effect of abortion perfectly. Abortion causes an organism to die.”

    Which version of death though? Certainly not the kind of death that an infant or adult human undergoes, but instead the kind of “death” that individual cells and organs undergo, necrosis.

    “You want to take a physical trait that is related to the death of an older human (absence of brain function) and say that since a fetus lacks brain function, it isn’t alive yet. It’s almost as if you’re saying that a fetus IS dead!”

    I would say the person doesn’t exist yet, but it is analogous to when the person ceases to exist, so it could be framed that way is you wish. The point being that in both instances the person no longer exists (physically at least as we agreed to avoid religious issues for the time being).

    “That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the deceit.”

    Where am I being deceitful? Am I saying something not true?

    “Pick the thing that, when lost, society recognizes the death of a human that is otherwise as ‘alive’ as any other human being, and then say that since a fetus is in the same state, we may consider it to be just as alive as a brain dead adult, and no more.”

    I would say that it is based on the objective moral standard of personhood that is recognized in all other situations, but that the anti-abortionist wants to make a special exception for in the case of of the zygote and early fetal development.

    “Therefore, no more thought on the subject is required.”

    Well plenty of thought is required, and of course I could be wrong, which is why I think about it, read about it, and discuss it in forums such as this.

    “The sickest part of this callous way of thinking about life is that it takes things we absolutely value (personality) and uses it against the young human.”

    If it is true and I am right than there is nothing “sick” about it. It is no more “sick” and “callous” than your disregard for the life of sperm and ova, or the death of a human liver grown in a lab. A non-person is a non-person. Using loaded emotional language is not a counter argument. The problem only occurs if you a priori assume your position to be true.

    “Of course we value brain activity. The brain activity that results in a great sense of humor, for example, is something we have a deep emotional attachment to in a fellow human being. That’s what we miss when someone dies. That’s why we want to protect a person’s biological functions. We don’t greive the loss of a loved one’s metabolism, but without it, there would be no personality.”

    Agreed.

    “Your argument dismisses the fact that biological function is the basis for personality, and therefore, it’s the basis for personhood. Your argument works for the end of life. Not the beginning.”

    I never ignore this fact. That is why would protect those biological functions. I would in fact say that those biological functions ARE personhood. But prior to those biological functions existing, they don’t exist.

    Again, one needs a liver (currently at least) in order to survive, therefore a liver is needed in order to support the functioning of a personality, personhood, etc. that does not mean that a liver on its own is a person, or that killing it is murder. Both of you seem to be acting as if personhood has some sort of transitive property where anything at all related to personhood must also be a person or protected as such. Some things are just cells and organs, they may support personhood, they may even be necessary for personhood, but it is logically invalid to then say that their destruction is the destruction of a person, or necessarily causes the destruction of a human, that is a logical leap that I have never seem justified.

    “We protect the organism’s function. Every human organism’s function BEGINS at fertilization.”

    See my above statement. We protect an organisms function in order to protect the person… No person, no moral obligation to protect the function.

    “The most important thing to MY life is my environment. I need to be in an environment with adequate oxygen, the right temperature range, and food. So what? That’s what people need. The right environment. The right environment for a fetus is the mother’s womb.”

    I have no disagreement with this statement as far as I can see, did you think I would?

    • As soon as an individual’s life (biological) begins (fertilization), it has the ability to support what you value (personality). It needs only to be allowed to live. To stop it, after it has begun the process, is to kill the person.

      If we systematically killed 30 million infants over the last 40 years, the result would be the same. If the only way to prevent “having” children was to kill them after birth, no doubt, there would be some other “justification” for doing so, and we would have deprived the world of the same thing: 30 million human beings. Let’s face it, whether before or after birth, there’s only one time period in which we can rid ourselves of “the burden” of raising the children we’ve produce: after fertilization.

      If it wasn’t possible to kill a person before birth, there would still be mothers who wouldn’t want the children, right? Why couldn’t any of the arguments be made for infanticide that are made for abortion? “No woman should be forced to be an incubator”. Just substitute “incubator” with “guardian”. Voilà!

      Even your criteria could be tweaked a bit. “The thing must be able to demonstrate that it has plans”. Done!

      As I said a while ago, there are ethicists (undoubtably as beholden to logic as yourself) who argue now that infanticide is not morally wrong. I’ll bet their criteria are very similar to yours. I’ll bet that their semantic logic is similarly as “sound” as yours.

      Let’s take a look.

      Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva argue that it should be lawful to “abort” newborn babies, even for what seem to be social reasons (for example, if the parents would find it difficult to bring the child up). “Foetuses and newborns,” they assert, “do not have the same moral status as actual persons.” They propose the term “after-birth abortion” instead of the more commonly-used and more emotive “infanticide” for a procedure that they assert “could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where [pre-birth] abortion would be.”

      WOW! “…the same moral status as ACTUAL persons”. Sounds familiar.

      You assign moral status to a human being by placing benchmarks these two moral idiots don’t see as having been met even for some time after birth! A hell of a lot longer than 20 weeks. I haven’t read their work, but it appears that they have the same criteria for personhood that you do. Only they have picked a date MONTHS later than you think personhood is achieved. How is it that you, a man so beholden to logic, have come up with such a different conclusion from ethicists, using the same set of criteria, and PUBLISHED in the Flippin’ Journal of Medical Ethics???

      Either they’re wrong, or you’re wrong… OR… The CRITERIA are wrong!

      This is what we mean by subjective! Neither you nor the knuckle-heads who seek to justify infanticide can point to a moment beyond which killing a human being is morally wrong.

      WE CAN! Fertilization.

      A fertilized egg may or may not survive to develop a personality. But, every individual WITH a personality WAS ONCE a mere fertilized egg. It’s the beginning of PERSONHOOD. Every individual’s life ENDS after fertilization.

      All your arguments depend on benchmarks YOU PICK. Life doesn’t actually begin based on an afterthought. It begins. It doesn’t begin kinda. It begins. It doesn’t begin and then really begin later. It just actually begins.

  63. Andrew,

    Time constraints force me to jump across your exchange with C2C to provide my answer to your response to me.

    My argument does not fail because it can’t. It is a fact of biology. It is a fact regardless of whether or not every act of intercourse results in a normal pregnancy. I never said it was so designed, but that it was designed for the purpose of creating another person.

    As to the toaster defense, you gave me a chuckle. Why would anyone hope that it would “instantly” provide bread toasted to the point most people regard as “toast”? I’d love that a toaster of such immediate results were available. But the reality is that once the heat is on, toasting is occurring. The bread is always “toasted”, even if you are not pleased with the result enough to call it “toast”. The only way it wouldn’t be is if the burners never turned on before the bread popped up. Then it would only be un-toasted bread. But assuming no such failure occurs, whatever results is toasted bread, even if you can’t detect any toasting. As soon as the bread is exposed to the heat of the burners, the process of burning begins. Think of sunburn. That’s us beginning to toast.

    Enough of that…

    Anyway…

    Assuming conditions are right for the sperm to encounter and penetrate an ovum, a person IS created when that occurs. THAT is FACT biologically. What is subjective about your argument against this is the list of criteria YOU demand be present for determining what constitutes a person. My argument is that the only criteria that is objective is the argument you now dismiss as “failed”. But mine is the only one that works with what is true and real. I do not add to it with things like “self-awareness” because it is ridiculous to demand what a zygote is not developed enough to provide you. It is exactly like saying one must have two feet to be a person. It is like saying one must be white.

    “Does this mean anytime someone masturbates they are fertilizing eggs?”

    I don’t know why defenders of abortion continue to try to use this type of argument. It is totally intellectually dishonest. Just because one is uses the tools improperly or for another use does not diminish the purpose of the tool. It is irrelevant to the argument altogether. To use your erection to hang your hat might be useful to you, but it is not a use for which it was designed. You can use your toaster as a paperweight, but that is not the purpose for which it was made.

    “As my criteria is based on objective physical features (the existence of a developed cerebral cortex), therefore it is no more “subjective” than your criteria. “

    Use any objective physical features you want, your argument depends on subjectively demanding they must exist in order to justify a claim of personhood. More to the point, their absence is subjectively used by you to deny one’s claim to personhood, just as some used to deny it of those born black. Skin color is an objective physical feature. That it must be white in order to be fully protected as a person is subjective. To have a developed cerebral cortex is objective. To insist one must have one in order to be a person before the stage when one could possibly have developed is subjective.

    The reason I have not answered your question is due to the foolishness of it. It is clear that not all collections of human cells is a person. I know you wish to demand a functioning brain (or some such) in order to make the difference between two sets of collected cells, but it requires that one compare specific groups of cells of your choosing. That small group of cells that have yet to become an embryo simply can’t have what you subjectively demand. That does not make them subhuman.

    • You know, when a “tomato knife” is being used to stab a guy, it truly is being used for something other than for what it was intended. But, when a man and woman have sex solely for pleasure, they’re still using their respective REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS in the manner in which they are physically likely to, well… reproduce!

      The closer analogy would be if someone was thrusting a tomato knife towards a tomato for the sole purpose of enjoying swinging tomato knives near tomatoes and being surprised when a tomato gets cut.

      It happened because you put the two things together in a certain way. The result is what was intended to occur. Not by intent, but by design.

  64. This toaster thing is bothering me. I’ve argued with pro-choice folks in the past who have argued that sex is not about reproduction at all.

    “After all, people who are no longer able to reproduce still have sex”, they say. “The two are completely separate things”.

    I don’t think the “wrench as a hammer” argument is good enough. What Austintx is saying is more like, since a screwdriver can be used to unscrew things, it’s “natural” purpose must not be to screw things in. Since there are multiple uses, one of its uses can’t be said to be its purpose at all.

  65. @ conservative2cents,

    “As soon as an individual’s life (biological) begins (fertilization), it has the ability to support what you value (personality).”

    No it doesn’t. A zygote does not and cannot have a personality. It must be rather lucky and multiply billions of times through multiple stages and developmental changes before it can reach a stage where it would even theoretically be able to develop a sense of personality. The zygote may be the seed from where that creation comes, but it is radically different from the more fully developed fetus.

    ” It needs only to be allowed to live. To stop it, after it has begun the process, is to kill the person.”

    That is not how things work, logically or physically. For once again, the zygote is not a person, it develops into a person, big difference. Claiming that a process has begun, therefore whatever exists is equal to the FINISHED process is logically invalid and not used in assessing the ontology of anything else.

    I would not go to a car factory and declare that the very first part that goes on the assembly line is a car…. And that part would certainly be hundreds (if not thousands) of times larger and more developed in comparison to the final automobile than the zygote would be to the infant.

    No one would be confused enough to declare the very first piece a car. And they wouldn’t be convinced to change their minds by the argument that the first part is part of the process and that without it the rest of the parts cannot be put into place. That wouldn’t also mean that it would be illegitimate to take a point in the factory line prior to its completion and say that it was significantly well developed that it would now qualify as a car. People would likely agree that despite missing the cigarette lighter it was a car. In fact you could remove many parts (doors, windows, wipers, headlights, etc.) and if it had a sufficient number of parts to transport its frame and an occupant through its own power, I would say it would qualify… It wouldn’t be a very good car, but it would be a car.

    “If we systematically killed 30 million infants over the last 40 years, the result would be the same.”

    How so? I think that it would be very different. It would be the same in the sense that in each instance a person wouldn’t exist. However, even here, there would be the difference of ending a person’s existence and preventing it from coming into existence. I can think of many differences (aside from the one being murder and the other not) between the two.

    “If the only way to prevent ‘having’ children was to kill them after birth, no doubt, there would be some other ‘justification’ for doing so”

    Justification by whom? I would argue against them in such a world. I believe infanticide is murder, as well as electively killing a fetus after 20 weeks, for the many reasons I have already stated. I cannot think of any similarly rational reasons why killing an infant should not be murder.

    I am not just willy nilly picking anything that I think will justify whatever position I just happen to “want” to be true. I reject MANY arguments people give in defense of abortion, and think that not only are you probably right that some of them just make their argument to justify their position (I don’t believe this is unique to either side of this debate and appears to be a common trait in many people in regards to many topics), but there ARE people who argue that infanticide is permissible, or permissible under certain circumstances. I do not agree, and to claim I would make any argument just to justify my belief is not only demonstrably false as I have shown, but is both the genetic fallacy and an ad homonym. I could have a sound argument for abortion EVEN IF you are right and that I would come up with another invalid argument in world where abortion was impossible. As well you are merely assuming and attacking my character by the baseless accusation that my motives are improper.

    “and we would have deprived the world of the same thing: 30 million human beings.”

    That is completely false. On the one hand we would prevent persons from coming into existence (which potentially happens any time someone uses a condom, decides not to have intercourse, etc.), and on the other hand we would be murdering persons that already exist…. How do you claim these two would be the same?

    “Let’s face it, whether before or after birth, there’s only one time period in which we can rid ourselves of ‘the burden’ of raising the children we’ve produce: after fertilization.”

    I prefer preventing fertilization through the proper use of contraceptions. That is by far a better way to “prevent the burden” (as you put it) of raising children they created. Aside from this, your above comment is not really an argument. Yes, aside from using contraceptives, the only way to prevent having children for sure is via abortion… This is just a statement of fact.

    The only way for people to have children through the process of in vitro fertilization involves the destruction of embryos as well… And yet they are doing it specifically to HAVE that “burden.”

    Either way it is not an argument.

    “If it wasn’t possible to kill a person before birth, there would still be mothers who wouldn’t want the children, right?”

    Yes… There are mothers today who have children and don’t want them. Occasionally they even kill one of them, I don’t defend their actions no matter how much they “want” to kill their children. My argument has nothing to do with how much the mother does or does not want their child.

    “Why couldn’t any of the arguments be made for infanticide that are made for abortion?”

    None of my arguments would apply, that is why!

    “‘No woman should be forced to be an incubator'”

    I never made this argument.

    “Even your criteria could be tweaked a bit. ‘The thing must be able to demonstrate that it has plans’.”

    You could try to argue for that as a criteria, but it completely fails under meta-ethical framework and even in the more applied ethics dialogue we are having because of problems that my criteria does not suffer from.

    First of all, we do not value people for their ability to make plans, those who are mentally disabled and unable to “demonstrate plans” (not entirely sure what you mean by this) are still persons as they possess all of the personal traits. If you clarified exactly what you meant by “demonstrate plans” it would be easier to formulate exactly why it fails in more detail.

    Under Desirism it is related to the existence of desires and reasons for promoting or prohibiting desires. Setting that aside I could continue on to explain the many difficulties, problems, and conflicting issues that arrive from the “demonstrate plans” category… But you would have to likely defend it and most of my arguments would be useless in defending it, so you would have to come up with some good, well reasoned arguments in its defense.

    Continue with the rest later…

  66. I mentioned that abortion causes death. Austintx asked “what kind of death?”. Not brain death, to be certain. But if I was cut up, to the point that no doctor could repair my wounds, I would die, in every sense. Personhood (as you describe it) wouldn’t matter. Biologically, the organism that is me, in my current state of development, ceases to function.

  67. @C2C,

    “This toaster thing is bothering me… What Austintx is saying is more like, since a screwdriver can be used to unscrew things, it’s ‘natural’ purpose must not be to screw things in. Since there are multiple uses, one of its uses can’t be said to be its purpose at all.”

    I think you may be viewing my writing and reading into it too many things from other conversations you have had.

    If you wrote what I ACTUALLY wrote in context in you would see that it is in response to Marshalart’s claim that the zygote, fetus, etc. HAS to be a person because it is the result of a process “Designed” to create a person. That was what I was arguing against. I wasn’t commenting about anything regarding what the purpose or “design” of reproduction was.

  68. @conservative2cents,

    “The result is what was intended to occur. Not by intent, but by design.”

    Intended by whom? If someone is using contraceptives, it obviously was not their intent. You could say it was “designed” by natural selection for that function, but I don’t see why that matters as a matter of ontology. Obviously if we were to use the act and organs of reproduction for solely a detached process of reproduction, things would be much different. Instead sex and sexuality are more complex in my opinion and involve many issues and concerns, including processes of attachment and intimacy with partners, pleasurability, etc.

    If we were to blindly follow biological purposes we would just go around impregnating as many people as possible. Instead sex, sexuality, is intimately tied into many societal and social practices and is in many ways, for most people, a necessary part of the process of living a happy and healthy life.

  69. Andrew,

    “Intended by whom?”

    C2C answers the question in the excerpt you highlight. To use reproductive organs for pleasure, particularly to engage in intercourse, is to use them according to their design for a purpose other than their design. Pleasure. This is most common, of course, but it is not a designed purpose, other than to facilitate reproduction, as not many would be interested in engaging in intercourse if not for the pleasure doing so promotes. But pleasure or not, the purpose of the act and the body parts used to engage in the act is for reproduction. Pleasure, or more accurately, entertainment, is a by-product. All the issues and concerns to which you refer are a result of that pleasurable by-product, but not a purpose of its design.

    For most people who engage in intercourse for pleasure alone, with no intent to reproduce, the compulsion is to pleasure the self. We attach romantic aspects of it to legitimize the selfish nature of sex for pleasure. While it helps to create a binding intimacy between lovers, it is not reasonable to suggest that anyone would spend so much time and energy trying to have sex if it wasn’t pleasurable to the person seeking it. The bottom line is that it is not the least bit necessary for living a happy or healthy life. No one will die if they deny themselves sexual pleasure. No one will get sick. Happiness is a choice and health a matter of proper exercise and nutrition. Both are easily acquired without ever engaging in sexual activity.

    But sexual activity is intended for procreation. By whom? By God if you’re religious. By nature if you’re not. And before you consider any sort of counter to the notion that nature has intent in the design of its creatures, know that I don’t mean a conscious intent, but simply for what a body part is meant to do. Lungs are for taking in oxygen. Hands are for grabbing, Teeth for chewing. Reproductive organs for reproducing (and eliminating waste, of course).

  70. Of course pleasure is a natural part of sex. I’d go so far as to say that IT is part of the design. It makes us want to engage in the act that ensures the continuation of the species. We are thinking beings. Obviously, we think about avoiding having children (at some point). Some people don’t want children at all. It would be easier to avoid if the act wasn’t pleasurable.

    It’s just silly to say that the pleasure of sex can be seen as THE purpose if that’s what we want it to be.

    I’m detecting a pattern. Sex is for what I say it is for. Personhood is what I want it to be. Basically, they’ll say anything to deny some pretty basic truths in order to deny THE most basic HUMAN right.

    I’m still very interested to hear why the ethicists are wrong and Austintx is right.

  71. That’s my point, C2C. I’m trying to distinguish between the designed or intended purpose of God/nature/biology and the intention of the user. I don’t deny that most people, even those who are willing to keep the children that result, regard the purpose of sex as pleasure. It’s just that it isn’t the purpose at all, but the reason they do it. It’s like knowing that a toaster is for toasting bread, but using it as a paperweight.

    • Good point. There’s a difference between the reason we use something and the thing’s purpose. A car’s purpose is transportation. I might use a car in the way it was meant to be used, solely for the enjoyment I get from driving. My reason for using it doesn’t negate its purpose for existing.

      • Also a good point about the selfishness of the pleasure derived from sex. If that’s all that it was about, one could get it without the opposite sex’s genitals. And one can. Alone, with a member of the same sex, with another species… I’d be getting into some pretty weird stuff if I continued to list the ways one might achieve the same pleasurable effect of m/f human intercourse, but you get the point. The pleasure is obviously not the full purpose of m/f differences in anatomy. Reproduction absolutely is. If a baby is produced through m/f intercourse, the full purpose has been NATURALLY fulfilled.

  72. Thus, to discuss the issue in terms of purpose, the aspect of pleasure is truly irrelevant. To engage in the act, regardless of the intention (pleasure, procreation or pleasurable procreation), the purpose of the act is still procreation and thus the resulting zygote has to be a person. It cannot be anything else.

    Andrew spoke of masturbation. Regardless of what the person masturbating intends by masturbating, the organ is responding as it should to stimulation. It is preparing for delivery of the person’s components (sperm) meant for procreation. It eventually does (assuming no defects in operation or interference—“Don’t you know how to knock??!!!”). The purpose, from the perspective of the organs in use, have achieved its designed purpose regardless of the misuse of its owner.

  73. @Marshalart,

    I hope you both had a merry Christmas!

    “To use reproductive organs for pleasure, particularly to engage in intercourse, is to use them according to their design for a purpose other than their design.”

    It is not “for a purpose other than their design,” it is to use them not necessarily for their “primary function,” but it is not somehow at odds with anything biologically, and in fact could be considered part of central functioning under certain circumstances. There is some degree of subjectivity with this however. Obviously, from a biological perspective, their reproductive function is the most important for the continued survival of the species. Our mouth and nose could be said to most importantly serve the function of taking in oxygen and expelling CO2… That doesn’t mean smell and taste are unimportant functions or at counter-purposes with their central function.

    “This is most common, of course, but it is not a designed purpose, other than to facilitate reproduction, as not many would be interested in engaging in intercourse if not for the pleasure doing so promotes.”

    Based on what do you claim this is note a “designed purpose?” I am opposed to language of design and purpose in a teleological sense in the first place, but biologically it may be a less vital function, but that does not mean this function needs to be purely a by-product… I mean unless you want to say the entire human’s function is reproduction and everything else is just a by-product and not “intended” by its “design.” Which is in a certain sense true, but not likely what you meant I am guessing.

    “For most people who engage in intercourse for pleasure alone, with no intent to reproduce, the compulsion is to pleasure the self. We attach romantic aspects of it to legitimize the selfish nature of sex for pleasure.”

    Wow, that is a rather cynical view of intercourse. Obviously people are compelled by the pleasurability of the act, but often people have great concern for giving and receiving pleasure mutually, and not just satisfying themselves. It seems to me, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, you seem to have a rather simplistic view of these things. Acts, purposes, desires, and motivations are many, complex, and not as clear cut as you seem to think they are, or desire them to be. Some people receive great pleasure and enjoyment merely from trying to pleasure someone else. Some people use sex acts for stress relief or pleasure (which can be biological beneficial for health). Some people have abusive or controlling views of sex. Etc. etc. etc. things don’t always have a singular clear function and purpose, but often have many.

    “The bottom line is that it is not the least bit necessary for living a happy or healthy life. No one will die if they deny themselves sexual pleasure. No one will get sick. Happiness is a choice and health a matter of proper exercise and nutrition. Both are easily acquired without ever engaging in sexual activity.”

    I would have to track them down, but I believe there are a few studies which show correlations at least between life-expectancy/health and sexual activity, so I am not sure if that is entirely correct… But I don’t really see why it matters either.

    “And before you consider any sort of counter to the notion that nature has intent in the design of its creatures, know that I don’t mean a conscious intent, but simply for what a body part is meant to do.”

    Again, things can have many “purposes.” I would also point out that you simply switched out “intended” with “meant to.” These are essentially synonymous and someone could simply ask “meant by whom?” But I don’t think that is a terribly important topic of discussion at the moment.

    And none of this so far supports the validity of the argument you have made. How does ANY of this make a zygote more or less of a person? You seem to be arguing as if I deny sexual intercourse is how new persons are made… I am obviously not, so what is the point of this? Persons are (for the most part) the result of intercourse, it does not logically follow that therefore every result of intercourse is a person. This is just fallacious. When people have intercourse and the woman becomes pregnant, I believe that if she carries to term the result will be a person… But I don’t believe that as soon as the egg is fertilized it is a person. Simply telling me repeatedly that creating persons is the main “purpose” of reproduction does not do anything to demonstrate that a zygote IS a person. I am not denying that the zygote has a good chance of BECOMING a person, but even if I accept your teleological framing, nothing about the fact that intercourse is designed for creating persons makes or requires the zygote itself to be a person… As I have already argued. Assuming you wish to make a logical argument, this does not accomplish that.

    • This is so frustrating. “Not all that is produced is a person”. What else could it be? We’re not talking about some frothy mess, you know. We’re talking about THE THING that is produced by the act that happens to have as its NUMBER ONE purpose to produce a zygote. It’s not a side effect. It’s not some bothersome goo that may be wiped away.

      If you are right about personhood, then there would be a moment before which, the person didn’t exist, and at which, it would suddenly appear. You are seeming to say that what the thing was, immediately before personhood magically appeared, was something other than what it was immediately after. The truth is that it is what it was from its BEGINNING. And, if ever it will be a person, then it was a person from the start. The start, biologically, is fertilization.

      I only work backwards to the moment the job of the parents’ respective organs is done. The sperm is not a potential person. It’s half of what is needed to produce a person. One was half of what it took to MAKE me. By the way, I’m a person.

      Understand that your criteria can never be said to be traits of a zygote. I get it. It just seems more logical to say that the thing that is a person was the same thing a moment before, and therefore must have been a person. Is the organism that has “become” what you consider to be a person not the same organism a few days before? It obviously is, isn’t it?

      This isn’t a trick. It’s the same thing. It’s a younger thing. But it’s not a rock. It’s not some amorphous blob that magically or suddenly bursts onto the scene (that happens at fertilization). It already exists. THAT’S objective.

      You say that since we are a thinking species, a young one of us must think before it can be said to be “actually” one of us. Are we not also an air-breathing species? Why not use that? “One must have human thought AND human air breath”?

      Being a human being makes one one of us. Not age or ability or having all of the traits scientists recognize while distinguishing human beings from other species. A thing is a person when its humanity has been achieved.

      It’s clear that we disagree, but I think mine is a more logical and ethical way of looking at it. Obviously, we’re coming at it from perspectives based on our agendas, but you’re the ones who throw up roadblocks. I’m including every person who deserves the right to experience the desires we have been allowed to experience.

      Here’s a question I want an honest answer to: Do you WANT abortion to be legally available? If so, why?

  74. @conservative2cents,

    “It’s just silly to say that the pleasure of sex can be seen as THE purpose if that’s what we want it to be.”

    Where did I claim this?

    “I’m detecting a pattern. Sex is for what I say it is for. Personhood is what I want it to be.”

    Where did I ever say anything like this? I don’t think I get to decide what personhood is, I believe it to be an objective aspect of reality that can be discovered by observation, logic, and inference. And although I would say that people engage in intercourse for a variety of purposes, I don’t claim that its functional aspects are subjective… So what are you talking about?

    “I’m still very interested to hear why the ethicists are wrong and Austintx is right.”

    Well… For starters, the authors themselves don’t even claim they are right. They basically stated that if you begin with a certain set of principals and apply them in what they feel is a consistent manner (although I find that they actually do so in a rather ad hoc and ambiguous manner) that they come to the conclusion that infanticide would be generally permissible.

    I find many flaws in their argument that are not found in mine as far as I can tell. In fact some of the criticisms you have attempted to attach to my argument are actually valid in the context of their piece.

    First off, although I can’t say I have read the literature on which their theory of personhood is based, it seems on its face to be wrong, incredibly ambiguous, and not applied in any kind of consistent manner.

    Their criteria for personhood is “We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

    This is incredibly ambiguous and I am not sure how one would even BEGIN to establish when such a process takes place or the ability developed. Furthermore, as desiring beings I think this is essentially implicit as soon as any sort of motivational consciousness develops, which is certainly prior to birth. Even if an infant does not have a robust self-awareness, it still possesses desires and dispositions which implicitly are based on valuing of existence.

    The hardest part for me in debating their argument and criteria is how poorly defined it all is. I don’t see anything attempting to establish an objective measure of what such an ability is and when it develops. They seem to simply assume without justification that it is an ability not possessed by the infant. And they don’t even offer any defense at all for their criteria to begin with really. Obviously they reference other work, which could very well make interesting points. But as it stands prior to doing a thorough evaluation of the background literature, the argument seems rather poor. I don’t actually think even accepting their premises that they do a very good job of reasoning their case… Do you have any more specific questions about it?

    Also, you seem to make an odd inference from the existence of papers such as this. You seem to think that if someone makes a poor argument for infanticide based on a poor argument for abortion that this means my argument is “subjective” or “wrong.” This is obviously not a reasonable inference.

    If I gave you a thousand bad arguments for why murder is wrong, would that mean that murder is right? Or that there are no good arguments against murder? Or that the moral prohibition against murder must be subjective? Of course not.

    There are superficial similarities between my argument and Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva’s, but they different in important ways. In addition I have yet to see a coherent and consistent position presented in defense of either of your claims… Which does not make my claims right, but I am just saying.

  75. @ marshalart,

    “I’m trying to distinguish between the designed or intended purpose of God/nature/biology and the intention of the user.”

    Usually intention is reserved for conscious beings. In the usual sense nature and biology don’t have “intentions.”

    “I don’t deny that most people, even those who are willing to keep the children that result, regard the purpose of sex as pleasure. It’s just that it isn’t the purpose at all, but the reason they do it. It’s like knowing that a toaster is for toasting bread, but using it as a paperweight.”

    Actually it is nothing like that. Pleasure and the chemical, psychological, and hormonal changes that take place aren’t anywhere near equivalent to using a toaster as a paperweight.

    I think once again that this “purpose” driven language is flawed, but I would say it is more like using a hammer to remove nails. Certainly a hammer has a central function of driving nails into things, but it is not just happenstance that it has a claw on the back for the removal of nails.

  76. But if it does have a claw on the other end, then that particular hammer is designed for both hammering and removing nails. It has two designed purposes.

    You wish to eliminate the angle of purpose and design and intention (and these words admittedly can be used interchangeably), but there is a specific biological answer to the question “For what purpose does a man have a penis?”. Pleasure isn’t one of them. Urinating is a pleasurable experience (compared to holding it, for sure) but we don’t pee for the pleasure it brings us. The pleasure isn’t a purpose. Pleasure in sex is not a purpose either. It is designed to be pleasurable, sure. But it isn’t the reason, the purpose of intercourse as a matter of biological design.

    The problem here is that you refuse to distinguish between purpose of design and purpose of desire. Sure. Desires can be complex. But that has little to do with design. A car is for transportation primarily. That is the purpose of its design. That we use travel for enjoyment in a car is also a result of design, but the purpose of the car is to transport us. We could use it to mow down pedestrians, but that isn’t the purpose of the car, but a purpose one might apply to it. “My car is made for transporting me, but I’ll use it to run down people.” Similarly, “My sexual organ is designed for procreation, but I will use it to derive pleasure.” My insistence on intent of design, its purpose, is to focus ONLY on that purpose for which it exists, for which it was designed. That purpose is procreation.

    So we have the purpose of the organ. The activity for which that purpose is realized is also used for pleasure. The organ and the activity both used for pleasure. But if the activity that by its design is meant to create another person, then indeed the result of that activity must be a person. If the timing is right and an ovum is penetrated by a sperm cell, then a new person now exists. That is not a subjective statement. What is subjective is assigning to this new person traits it cannot have at this initial stage of development. And your arguments fail because it relies on these subjective assignments being accepted as fact. None of them are. They are only opinion. Opinion decided that each subjectively demanded trait be necessary for personhood status. In my argument, only the facts of the biology of humankind is used. It goes this way: If the sexual organs are designed for procreation, which they most certainly are, and they are used in the activity designed for procreation, which it is during intercourse, the the result of that activity, if an ovum is fertilized, MUST be another person since that is how every person on earth came to be. Where can you possibly find a flaw in this logical argument?

  77. @Marshalart,

    “It goes this way: If the sexual organs are designed for procreation, which they most certainly are, and they are used in the activity designed for procreation, which it is during intercourse, the the result of that activity, if an ovum is fertilized, MUST be another person since that is how every person on earth came to be. Where can you possibly find a flaw in this logical argument?”

    If that argument is logically valid, than if I present an argument in the exact same form, than it must also be logically valid and the conclusion MUST logically follow. So let us see if that works:

    If cranes are designed for constructing tall buildings, which they most certainly are, and they are used in the activity designed for building tall buildings, which it is during construction, then the result of that activity, if a beam is laid, MUST be another tall building since that is how every tall building on earth came to be.

    But this is false, a crane can lay down a beam without a tall building immediately coming into being, even if EVENTUALLY that would be the goal. So this logically fails.

    The issue logically is basically two fold. Firstly you seem to start by implying the result of intercourse MUST be a person. But this is obviously silly since people have intercourse all the time without producing anything really… Some people are in fact incapable of producing a child through intercourse. You attempt to salvage this by basically inserting your conclusion into the premises, “if an ovum is fertilized.” But why? Why can’t I say “if a cerebral cortex is formed?” The answer is presumably because you think the zygote is a person, hence you make that the essential feature. Just as in my version I basically decide a building exists as soon as the first beam is laid, because I include that in the premises.

    Secondly, as I have pointed out over and over and over again, if a process has as its ultimate goal the construction of something, that DOES NOT mean that AS SOON AS THE PROCESS BEGINS that its ultimate goal is IMMEDIATELY REACHED.

    This should be obvious. To use one more example, and I am quite baffled that this is not obvious. Let us say I want to make ice cream the old fashion way in one of those barrel contraptions. I surround the canister with ice, put cream, sugar, etc. into the canister, seal it up and salt the ice. Now I give the whole thing a single role…. My job is done right? I open it up and enjoy my ice cream right? No that would be ABSURD. But according to you, because I followed all the steps and used the maker as designed for the purpose it was designed for, the ice cream should be INSTANTLY created. Clearly this is wrong. If the process CONTINUES I will EVENTUALLY have ice cream, but not INSTANTLY.

    I don’t understand how this is not obvious.

  78. conservative2cents,

    “This is so frustrating. ‘Not all that is produced is a person’. What else could it be?”

    I did a word search and was unable to find me making a comment along these lines, so I am not sure the context. But what do you mean? What else could it be? Again, without context I am just guessing at what I might have meant, but why is it hard to understand that sexual intercourse need not create a person, and even if it does result in a person being created, that does not mean the zygote is a person. What about that are you having trouble understanding?

    “We’re not talking about some frothy mess, you know. We’re talking about THE THING that is produced by the act that happens to have as its NUMBER ONE purpose to produce a zygote. It’s not a side effect. It’s not some bothersome goo that may be wiped away.”

    Again, don’t care for the term “purpose” because it implies conscious intention, but again, so what? I AGREE that the reproductive organs function to reproduce and create more persons… Have I ever denied that? So? If the zygote develops it has a decent chance of developing into a person. There is not contradiction in what I jus said.

    “If you are right about personhood, then there would be a moment before which, the person didn’t exist, and at which, it would suddenly appear.”

    That must be true of any conception of personhood that does not involve an eternally pre-existing person. Do you not believe that persons begin to exist at some point?

    “You are seeming to say that what the thing was, immediately before personhood magically appeared, was something other than what it was immediately after.”

    There is nothing magic about it. Again, I am pretty sure you would agree that at some point you didn’t exist and then at some point you did exist.

    “The truth is that it is what it was from its BEGINNING. And, if ever it will be a person, then it was a person from the start.”

    If intended as an argument that is just absurd. Something can develop into something it was not prior. By that argument a caterpillar is a butterfly, because if it ever is a butterfly, it must be a butterfly from the start. I seriously am struggling to see how anyone could be compelled by this argument… Yet apparently you and Marshalart find it to be so, to my great amazement.

    “The start, biologically, is fertilization.”

    The start of what is fertilization? Fertilization is the start of many things, such as the start of prenatal development. This is a biological fact. This says NOTHING about whether a zygote should be considered a person when it comes to ethical matters. You can only discover where biologically a person results if you START with a sound set of criteria for personhood to begin with. Medical facts by themselves CANNOT determine when personhood develops. You claim there is something objective about your assessment because biology says so. Tell me, when exactly do biologists agree the moral category of personhood begins? As soon as the sperm comes into contact with the ovum’s membrane? When the vitelline membrane is formed? When the acrosome reaction occurs? When?

    “I only work backwards to the moment the job of the parents’ respective organs is done. The sperm is not a potential person. It’s half of what is needed to produce a person.”

    A zygote is much less than half of what is needed to produce a person from my perspective.

    “Understand that your criteria can never be said to be traits of a zygote. I get it. It just seems more logical to say that the thing that is a person was the same thing a moment before, and therefore must have been a person.”

    As I have explained MANY times over, this doesn’t make ANY sense and isn’t based upon ANY logical principle. There is NO logical problem with saying something comes into existence… As I am sure you would agree in any other instance, but for some reason are having trouble excepting in this one. YOU believe that at some point in time you just have a sperm and egg, and then at some point (“magically” as you say) a person comes into existence. I believe that “magic” happens at a different point in the process than you.

  79. Andrew,

    You are not making equal comparisons to my argument. Not even close. The beam laid by the crane cannot be a building all by itself. But the zygote is a person all by itself. Here’s the difference: the crane isn’t finished. The beam isn’t the finished product of the crane’s work (or the work of those employing the crane). The zygote IS the finished work. What happens from that point has no bearing on that work being finished because the work was to produce offspring, which a zygote is. By your thought process, YOU are not a finished work because you are still developing and changing and becoming something you weren’t yesterday.

    We also cannot consider those who cannot reproduce because my argument does not depend upon (nor was it ever based) on a zygote having to have been created by each and every episode of intercourse. I never said that. I’ve only referred to a result having existed. That result is the natural and intended result, whether it occurs or not.

    I’m also still dismayed at the continued use of the term “immediate”. That building must be completed in order to be a building (even if we call it one as it is still in the process of being built), but a zygote is the completed “building” as soon as it exists. “Immediate” has nothing to do with it or even enters into the discussion.

    “You attempt to salvage this by basically inserting your conclusion into the premises, “if an ovum is fertilized.” But why?”

    Because that’s the way it works. If two of the opposite sex engage in the very act designed to produce offspring, that result (the zygote) is offspring and therefor a person. I don’t see why that is so difficult to understand. It does not require a cerebral cortex because that is not what makes it a person. It is a person that has yet to develop a cerebral cortex. It’s really that simple.

    As to your ice cream scenario, I’m not keen on the means by which old fashioned ice cream is made, but I’m guessing that it includes more than “one roll”. Thus, you have not done what is required to make ice cream any more than one thrust being enough to result in impregnating a woman.

  80. Austintx,

    “Caterpillar” and “butterfly” are merely stages in a certain type of an individual organism’s life. If you valued butterflyhood, you’d protect caterpillars. I won’t say that a caterpillar IS a butterfly, any more than I’ll say a toddler IS an adult.

    Your criteria for personhood are just traits of an older human being. That’s why you’ve chosen them. A zygote can’t pass your test. You start with a desire for abortion to be legal. You need a fetus to fail. Can we be honest about that?

  81. ,

    “Is the organism that has ‘become’ what you consider to be a person not the same organism a few days before? It obviously is, isn’t it?”

    It obviously is not actually. The difference between a zygote and a fetus in its second trimester for instance is MASSIVE. From day to day the differences are less, but that does not mean they are not taking place.

    “This isn’t a trick. It’s the same thing. It’s a younger thing.”

    It is NOT the same thing. You seem to be having trouble with what is often referred to as the “tyranny of the discontinuous mind.” People like things in nice easy categories and discrete steps. We often have trouble with continua and processes that aren’t quantized.

    For example, children exist right? And grown adults exist right? When specifically does a child become an adult? Or a young adult, whatever you want to call it. No matter what age you say, I can always say, so the day before his birthday he is a child, and then the very next day he is an adult? But he only grew a single day!

    Things are the result of processes, occasionally those developments are very clear cut, most of the time they are not. If you have difficulty with this than I am afraid much of reality is going to appear very non-sensical to you.

    “But it’s not a rock. It’s not some amorphous blob that magically or suddenly bursts onto the scene (that happens at fertilization). It already exists. THAT’S objective.”

    What are you talking about? Where have I denied that it is anything other than what it is? Whether a zygote, fetus, etc.? There is nothing magic about it. It begins as a zygote, develops into a fetus and then the fetus develops the property of personhood… What is “magic” about that? It is pretty straightforward.

    “You say that since we are a thinking species, a young one of us must think before it can be said to be ‘actually’ one of us.”

    I am saying that in order to cause personal harm… A person must exist! Persons AREN’T just ANY genetically Homo sapien collection of living flesh. The ONLY reasonable set of characteristics I have EVER heard designating what constitutes a person are the ones I have provided. I still haven’t seen such a set from either of you that makes any sense and can be apples to reality. Your main criteria seem to boil down to… Well I know a person when I see it.

    “Are we not also an air-breathing species? Why not use that? ‘One must have human thought AND human air breath’?”

    Even YOU admitted that the criteria I used are the ones that we value. Are you now saying air-breathing should be valued the same way? Or that you now deny my traits are of such value? Do I REALLY need to explain to you why having a personal identity and being able to breathe are different? (I will by the way, but I don’t want to have to if this is not a serious issue for you).

    “Being a human being makes one one of us.”

    What constitutes a human being? Maybe since I can’t get a consistent definition of personhood, we could try that.

    “Not age or ability or having all of the traits scientists recognize while distinguishing human beings from other species. A thing is a person when its humanity has been achieved.”

    What qualifies something for “achieving humanity?”

    “Obviously, we’re coming at it from perspectives based on our agendas, but you’re the ones who throw up roadblocks. I’m including every person who deserves the right to experience the desires we have been allowed to experience.”

    If I am right, than I am doing the same as you claim. Many of your attacks seem to be based on the requirement that I agree with you to begin with… Otherwise that last comment makes no sense.

    “Here’s a question I want an honest answer to: Do you WANT abortion to be legally available? If so, why?”

    I hope you know I am trying to respond to all your questions honestly. I do want abortions to be legal. The law as it is is relatively close to what I would have it be, although I think there are many individual state restrictions with which I would disagree.

    The simple reasons why are basically the reasons likely everyone endorses or opposes a legislation. I think a legal system that bans or unnecessarily restricts abortion is unjust and results in a worse world for people in general. Since I have a desire to help make the world a better place, I oppose legislation I believe will disrupt that and support legislation that I think will improve it.

    Again, like I have said before, I could phrase it in more Desirism meta-ethical language if you want. Good legislations are ones that tend to fulfill more desires than they thwart and bad legislations are those that tend to thwart more desires than they fulfill.

  82. @marshalart,

    “But if it does have a claw on the other end, then that particular hammer is designed for both hammering and removing nails. It has two designed purposes.”

    Exactly… Not everything must only have a single function.

    “You wish to eliminate the angle of purpose and design and intention (and these words admittedly can be used interchangeably), but there is a specific biological answer to the question ‘For what purpose does a man have a penis?’.”

    There is an answer to the question, what central function does the penis have. People often have a bias towards language of purpose and intention and so do say things like that. But purpose implies conscious intent. Unless you want me to assume for this argument that God exists, biology has no conscious intent. Things function certain ways, but not purposefully so.

    It is just like how someone might say that it snows in the mountains for the purpose of gradually refilling lakes and aquifers… It doesn’t really do so purposefully, even though that is how it might function.

    I honestly am not sure however how this discussion of purpose matters to the topic at hand. Even if the purpose of procreation is to create persons, that STILL does not make the zygote a person.

    “Pleasure isn’t one of them. Urinating is a pleasurable experience (compared to holding it, for sure) but we don’t pee for the pleasure it brings us.”

    Actually that is EXACTLY why we pee… Or you could say to alleviate discomfort. Urinating functions to eliminate waste, but that is not WHY one urinates. At least not why most people urinate.

    I sympathize with the difficulty of this, in general like I said people have a strong bias towards purposeful talk and framing.

    “But it isn’t the reason, the purpose of intercourse as a matter of biological design.”

    Again, I don’t believe it was designed. But honestly I think this is a side issue… Why does it matter? The rest of this design and purpose stuff I am going to skip over for now, unless you can tell me why it matters.

    “If the timing is right and an ovum is penetrated by a sperm cell, then a new person now exists. That is not a subjective statement.”

    It is not a subjective statement, it is objectively wrong as far as I can tell.

    “What is subjective is assigning to this new person traits it cannot have at this initial stage of development.”

    I am not forcing any traits on it, I am accepting the traits it has and their implications. It cannot have personal traits so I don’t treat it as if it does. You are the one attempting to say despite its lack of these traits we should treat it as we would if it did have them.

    “And your arguments fail because it relies on these subjective assignments being accepted as fact. None of them are. They are only opinion. Opinion decided that each subjectively demanded trait be necessary for personhood status.”

    I don’t think whether or not something is a person is subjective. I have repeatedly demonstrated why my criteria are preferable and yours fail. Your criteria do not fail for subjective reasons, nor are mine based upon subjective features. I don’t think it is a matter of opinion whether you think or have personal traits, you either do or you don’t. One could debate precisely when that occurs, but that is quite different from saying it is subjective.

    “In my argument, only the facts of the biology of humankind is used.”

    That is clearly false. Biology is not concerned with discerning moral categories. Although once a moral category is established it can assist in establishing when such a category is satisfied in a being. This is what I have done.

  83. @marshalart,

    You are not making equal comparisons to my argument. Not even close. The beam laid by the crane cannot be a building all by itself. But the zygote is a person all by itself.

    “Here’s the difference: the crane isn’t finished. The beam isn’t the finished product of the crane’s work (or the work of those employing the crane). The zygote IS the finished work. What happens from that point has no bearing on that work being finished because the work was to produce offspring, which a zygote is.”

    This is NOT an argument. You are simply ASSERTING that the finished product is a zygote, and since we agree the finished product is a person, you think you have demonstrated your claim. But to me it is absurd to claim a single celled zygote is a “finished product.” Far from it… We can’t even say for sure how many persons will result, how the heck can it be “finished?” Some of these arguments frankly strike me as rather desperate. A zygote is “finished,” really?!? As far as I can see (and I am pretty certain the vast majority of biologists and doctors would agree) the zygote is just the BEGINNING of the process, not its completion.

    The zygote is FAR closer to an individual beam in a building than a complete construction.

    “By your thought process, YOU are not a finished work because you are still developing and changing and becoming something you weren’t yesterday.”

    I am NOT “finished.” I AM a person, but I certainly hope I am not done developing. I do have the properties we all associate with personhood in every other setting other than this very specific one.

    “We also cannot consider those who cannot reproduce because my argument does not depend upon (nor was it ever based) on a zygote having to have been created by each and every episode of intercourse. I never said that. I’ve only referred to a result having existed. That result is the natural and intended result, whether it occurs or not.”

    The point was that you were basically inserting your conclusion ad hoc into your premises. I know you weren’t claiming every sex act results in a child.

    “I’m also still dismayed at the continued use of the term ‘immediate’. That building must be completed in order to be a building (even if we call it one as it is still in the process of being built), but a zygote is the completed ‘building’ as soon as it exists. ‘Immediate’ has nothing to do with it or even enters into the discussion.”

    Again, you are simply making an assertion, not an argument. This statement is the equivalent of me just saying “a zygote isn’t a person and therefore can’t be complete.” That is not an argument, neither is what you asserted.

    The zygote has no brain, heart, limbs, blood vessels, internal organs, eyes, ears, etc. etc. etc. In what sense is it “complete?”

    Where the issue of immediacy comes in is that we both agree that if the reproductive process carries through the result will almost certainly be a person.

    YOU assert that personhood is achieved IMMEDIATELY. I do not, but instead think personhood is the result of a longer process. Make sense? Your continued insistence that a person MUST be the IMMEDIATE result of the reproductive process is not only unfounded, but wrong.

    “You attempt to salvage this by basically inserting your conclusion into the premises, “if an ovum is fertilized.” But why?”

    “Because that’s the way it works. If two of the opposite sex engage in the very act designed to produce offspring, that result (the zygote) is offspring and therefor a person.”

    THIS IS AN ASSERTION NOT AN ARGUMENT. In addition ONE MORE TIME. I agree, I disagree as to WHEN that personhood develops, but I OBVIOUSLY don’t deny that this is how people reproduce.

    “I don’t see why that is so difficult to understand. It does not require a cerebral cortex because that is not what makes it a person.”

    YES IT IS! Show me a SINGLE example outside of this one where something that lacks a functioning cerebral cortex is a person! The existence of personal properties is what MAKES ONE A PERSON. I am not sure why THAT is so difficult to understand.

    “It is a person that has yet to develop a cerebral cortex. It’s really that simple.”

    Again, this is merely an ASSERTION, not an ARGUMENT.

    “As to your ice cream scenario, I’m not keen on the means by which old fashioned ice cream is made, but I’m guessing that it includes more than ‘one roll’. Thus, you have not done what is required to make ice cream any more than one thrust being enough to result in impregnating a woman.”

    This does not address the issue.

    In every other aspect of human life, morality, etc. we value personhood by virtue of the criteria I have presented. In this SINGLE instance that is disputed.

    • That’s not true. People are charged with TWO murders when they kill a woman and her “wanted” fetus. Or maybe it wasn’t wanted, and the mother was planning to have an abortion. The law doesn’t take her wishes into consideration in those instances. And apparently, it doesn’t take the fetus’s cognitive abilities into consideration. In fact, it’s almost as if a fetus is just another “person”.

      It is a person.

  84. @conservative2cents,

    “That’s not true. People are charged with TWO murders when they kill a woman and her ‘wanted’ fetus. Or maybe it wasn’t wanted, and the mother was planning to have an abortion. The law doesn’t take her wishes into consideration in those instances. And apparently, it doesn’t take the fetus’s cognitive abilities into consideration. In fact, it’s almost as if a fetus is just another ‘person’.
    It is a person.”

    What?

    • You said we value personhood by virtue of the criteria you presented. That’s not true. Certainly, a fetus doesn’t meet your criteria, yet in one aspect (which happens to be very similar to abortion), we treat it as if it is a person and punish the murderer.

      By the way, we don’t value personhood by virtue of the criteria. We value the criteria. Why wouldn’t we. I like the STUFF you SAY make a person a person. But, I value lots of adult traits. It doesn’t mean that human life is worthless without them, especially if we’re talking about an EXISTING human being that hasn’t had the chance to have them.

  85. @conservative2cents,

    “You said we value personhood by virtue of the criteria you presented. That’s not true. Certainly, a fetus doesn’t meet your criteria, yet in one aspect (which happens to be very similar to abortion), we treat it as if it is a person and punish the murderer.”

    First of all, the issue we are talking about is whether a zygote and beyond is a person. So when I say that aside from this one topic we value personhood as I describe it, that is what I am referring to. So this example is simply another example of considering a zygote/embryo/fetus a person… And thus just another example of what I am talking about. In fact, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe many of the laws you are talking about are promoted by pro-life groups in order to attempt to make a precedence for considering a fetus a person.

    “By the way, we don’t value personhood by virtue of the criteria. We value the criteria. Why wouldn’t we. I like the STUFF you SAY make a person a person. But, I value lots of adult traits. It doesn’t mean that human life is worthless without them, especially if we’re talking about an EXISTING human being that hasn’t had the chance to have them.”

    I am not talking about “adult traits.” I am talking about the most basic traits of personal identity that even a third trimester fetus has… I am not saying someone is not a person until they can solve partial differential equations or something. I am talking about actually requiring something other than human cells being harmed, but an organism with a complex nervous system.

    You STILL haven’t been able to provide a consistent standard by which to judge personhood.

    Therefore you STILL can’t explain why some things are persons and other’s human cells.

    Even if you can provide a standard, it appears to be able to explain MUCH LESS than what mine does, also known as a much narrower explanatory scope.

    Such as not explaining why we intuitively believe that an alien species of similar intelligence should be considered similarly protected.

    Why people intuitively respond to certain hypothetical situations the way they do. Such as if offered a replacement brain, even if the brain was healthier/younger/etc. and was guaranteed to be switched with zero health risk, people would refuse. Yet if the same question asked about ANY OTHER part of one’s body is considered otherwise.

    Why the human brain is considered differently from ALL OTHER human organ and body parts in hypothetical and real cases such as this.

    Why medical researchers are actively investigating ways to offer ALL OTHER organs and body parts for transplant OTHER than the BRAIN.

    My arguments, standards, and criteria are consistent with all of these and more, as well as explaining many of them.

    You on the other hand need to explain all of these things in an ad hoc or contrived manner, straining to avoid the obvious. All without having your own consistent standard by which to classify in the first place!

  86. Andrew,

    (*deep breath*)

    “Exactly… Not everything must only have a single function.”

    You continue to confuse (purposely?) those functions that are intended and those beyond the intended functions. Here’s an illustration:

    Intended functions of a claw hammer: drive nails, remove nails
    Intended functions of a penis: deliver reproductive components, eliminate liquid waste

    Unintended functions of a claw hammer: paper weight, pull another by the nostrils (ala Moe Howard), provide pleasure for those who enjoy hammering nails.
    Unintended functions of a penis: bookmark, post for ring toss game, provide pleasure for one who enjoys the orgasm associated with sexual intercourse.

    Multiple purposes are irrelevant to the purpose of a item’s design. I could use most any tool as a weapon. They are not designed for use as weapons regardless of whether or not that can be so used. The sexual organs, as well as the act of intercourse, can be used for personal pleasure, but that is not their purpose. Pleasure is a purpose toward which we use those things. That’s distinctly different than intended purpose. Those who favor abortion typically muddy up that distinction so as to diminish the important and serious nature of the act, particularly regarding the living result.

    Another way to look at it is that intercourse is pleasurable, so we like to say that pleasure is a reason for or purpose of sexual intercourse. That is not an objective understanding of the purpose. It is completely subjective, especially given the self-gratification involved (which is almost the definition of “subjective” as a subjective understanding satisfies the self—such understandings are given greater importance than objective understandings). It would be akin to thinking of the pleasure one might derive from hammering nails. As one looks for any opportunity to hammer nails, others look for any opportunity to hammer women. But the pleasure of hammering is not the purpose of creating hammers. One might find hammering a good way to make lots of noise. But noise is not the purpose of hammering.

    But if we acknowledge the designed purpose of the sexual organs (aside from eliminating waste or, with women, providing an exit for the child at birth), and we must so acknowledge that designed purpose due to the risk of pregnancy whenever intercourse takes place, then we must regard the product of that act as the person it is since the purpose is to produce another person. No one who wishes to have a family ever thinks of trying to produce human cells by copulating. They are determined to create a new person. And when the woman finds she is indeed pregnant, there is no thought in her mind (or her husband’s) as to whether she carries a child or just some human cells no different than skin cells she sheds every day.

    Thus, purpose of design is absolutely critical in any debate regarding abortion and what is destroyed during that procedure. To ignore that purpose, to diminish it as one of many that are really no more than subjective personal preferences and methods of sexual self-gratification is dishonest.

    It is also dishonest to suggest that there is no purpose in biology. One needn’t consider the existence of God to see purpose for all sorts of things. The lungs take in oxygenated air and gets it to the blood. It then releases the carbon dioxide out of your body. That’s the purpose of the lungs. You might prefer the term “function”, but it’s really the same thing unless you want to split hairs, the purpose of which is to provide warmth and a certain level of protection.

    continued…

  87. Andrew,

    A bit more on the subject of purpose:

    We absolutely pee to eliminate waste. Unless of course you consume vast quantities of fluids for the expressed purpose of enjoying the relief pissing provides. No one wants to pee. Everyone needs to because they will whether they want to or not.

    But once again, to dismiss discussions of function and purpose allows for totally subjective notions of that very thing. Pretending tools or body parts are made for however we want to use them absolutely subjective. For the sake of this discussion, it allows for abdication of responsibility for the actions in question. It provides an excuse to suggest that the product of an act designed for procreation is not another person. If we insist that sexual intercourse is equally meant for pleasure as it is for procreation, then we can demand that we not be held accountable for the action and the consequences of it. I didn’t mean to produce a baby so I must figure out an argument that can convince others that the procedure known as abortion is not destroying a person. I know…I’ll assign criteria that others of like mind will agree are essential before we can label a being “person”. Then, I’ll insist that those who don’t agree explain why I’m wrong.

    This is the dance.

    My criteria is much more straightforward and based on biological facts, regardless of your baseless assertion that it is wrong: The employment of two of the opposite sex of their particular reproductive organs in the act designed to produce a new person. Thus, the result, the zygote, is a person at its earliest stage of development, complete with all every other person at that stage possesses. The difference between it and any other human cell is that it will become an adult person some day. No skin cell, no blood cell, no bone cell, no other cell of a human body will become an adult person. Only a human zygote will. Until then, it is not an adult person, but a person at its earliest stage of development.

    Moving on…

    ““If the timing is right and an ovum is penetrated by a sperm cell, then a new person now exists. That is not a subjective statement.”

    It is not a subjective statement, it is objectively wrong as far as I can tell.”

    How is it “objectively wrong”? It is a biological fact.

    “I don’t think it is a matter of opinion whether you think or have personal traits, you
    either do or you don’t. One could debate precisely when that occurs, but that is
    quite different from saying it is subjective.”

    What I am calling subjective is the manner in which you apply the criteria. I don’t say that having a trait is subjective. As you say, it either does or doesn’t possess them. But your assigning personhood based on that criteria is totally subjective. It flows only from what appeals to you as being necessary for the title “person”. As to that, it really doesn’t matter how many people feel the same way. Numbers of people of the same opinion do not equate to fact or truth.

    But on my side of the argument, I deal only with what is without question: that the zygote is the finished product of the act meant to produce one. Going back to the crane and the building analogy, the zygote is indeed more comparable to the finished building because it is what was intended by the act. The crane and the beam are more comparable to the penis and sperm. Whereas a building requires many components (beams, brick, mortar, electrical system, plumbing, etc) the zygote requires only what is delivered by the father and mother to be completed. That it develops further, whereas a building cannot, is irrelevant. The zygote is, nonetheless, complete and ready to do what it is meant to do, just as the building when completed is meant to do something.

    “That is clearly false. Biology is not concerned with discerning moral categories.”

    This would suggest that everything connected with whatever is considered moral is based only upon that which is also of a moral category. But regardless, I was not referring to morality, though this discussion is bringing about that which supports the notion of whether or not abortion is moral, or more to the point, murder.

    At the same time, it cannot be overlooked that there is a moral component at work here. The view of human sexuality these days is in great conflict with traditional notions of morality, and it is as a result that we are left with this controversy.

    finished product:

    The zygote is a finished product of the procreative act. Procreation has taken place when the sperm penetrates the ovum and division begins. THAT is the process to which I referred. From that point on, a new process is at work, the process of maturation into a Del Webb resident.

    “YES IT IS! Show me a SINGLE example outside of this one where something that lacks a functioning cerebral cortex is a person! YES IT IS! Show me a SINGLE example outside of this one where something that lacks a functioning cerebral cortex is a person! The existence of personal properties is what MAKES ONE A PERSON. I am not sure why THAT is so difficult to understand. I am not sure why THAT is so difficult to understand.”

    This is the issue, isn’t it? What makes a person? To answer your initial question (demand) in the above quote, I can say that there is no other example. All other examples of people without a functioning cerebral cortex are either people who have brain damage or the rare instance of a child born without one. But the zygote has one on the way. Be patient. It “intends” to have one. But you won’t allow it in the “person club” until it does. That’s subjective by definition. Note that all who feel this way have a functioning cerebral cortex (almost all). They had to decide that it is the case. They haven’t shown why it is the case, nor have you.

    “The existence of personal properties is what MAKES ONE A PERSON.”

    You say this as if it is fact. It isn’t. It is only the opinion of some people. Clearly. It’s a philosophical question, to be sure, but your arguments are not based on anything other than personal preference and subjective applications of criteria chosen for the task. My criteria flows from the biology itself, whether there is conscious intent in the function of the parts and act to which the parts are applied or not. Reproductive organs, reproductive act, reproduced result—-a person from two other persons.

  88. @marshalart,

    I started a response to your discussion of “intention” and “purpose.” But then I remembered what I have been repeatedly saying, why does it matter? So what if the sole intended purpose of sex is producing persons? Even though I honestly don’t know how you think something can be “intended” if not consciously directed.

    So what? Let’s say for arguments sake, I agree. That is the intention, pleasurability is unintended, whatever that means, and we go on our merry way. What bearing does it have on the moral ontology of the zygote?

    “But if we acknowledge the designed purpose of the sexual organs (aside from eliminating waste or, with women, providing an exit for the child at birth), and we must so acknowledge that designed purpose due to the risk of pregnancy whenever intercourse takes place, then we must regard the product of that act as the person it is since the purpose is to produce another person.”

    No we don’t! Even if I accept 100% your dubious presentation, the conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises.

    If I intend to grow a garden, and plant a bunch of seeds, even though all I may have to do from that point is maintain it and water, that doesn’t mean I have a garden already. I am not going to take people on tours of my patch of dirt and say, “look at my wonderful garden!”

    Your argument is entirely fallacious. Even if I except some Thomas Nagel style non-theistic teleology where things have non-conscious intents and purposes, your argument STILL fails. I can except ALL the premises and the conclusion STILL does not follow.

    “No one who wishes to have a family ever thinks of trying to produce human cells by copulating.”

    What? Sure they do (if they know anything about biology). A human being is MADE of human cells… What else is one to think? If you mean simply to point out that people do not use this awkward language to express it… Of course. People also say “I’ll meet you at sunrise,” when what they mean is that they will meet you once the earth rotates into position so as to allow light from the sun to strike their location on the globe. The two go together.

    “They are determined to create a new person.”

    Agreed.

    “And when the woman finds she is indeed pregnant, there is no thought in her mind (or her husband’s) as to whether she carries a child or just some human cells no different than skin cells she sheds every day.”

    Again, what does this matter? Some people think about such things (yes EVEN expecting mothers) and some (probably most) don’t. People often don’t think about the foundations of applied ethics as they concern their daily life, so?

    When someone buys a candy bar at the store they don’t think about whether such monetary transactions are the result of a non-coercive beneficial exchange or whether they involve a hierarchy of coercive wage slavery… What does it matter? Does the fact that people rarely think about it change the ontological status of the fetus?

    I hate to pester in saying this again, but you are interested in presenting logically reasoned arguments, correct? Because arguments like this are clearly fallacious and can in no way lead to developing any conclusion.

    “Thus, purpose of design is absolutely critical in any debate regarding abortion and what is destroyed during that procedure.”

    Nope, completely false and bordering on non-sequitur actually. I can still accept basically all your premises (which I still say are flawed) and completely deny that last conclusion.

    You have no where presented a coherent argument as to why a purpose of design, and whether or not people regularly consciously think about it, has any bearing on the debate regarding the moral ontology of the fetus.

    Again I am accepting your premises and still not getting to the conclusion. So genitals and sexual intercourse are designed for the purpose of procreation and people who want a child tend not to think of the fertilized egg as a cell or collection of cells…. So what?

    “To ignore that purpose, to diminish it as one of many that are really no more than subjective personal preferences and methods of sexual self-gratification is dishonest.”

    It is not dishonest… I would say the majority of secular biologists and philosophers agree with my stance. But once again, I am accepting your premises for the purpose of debate… How do they result in your conclusion?

    “You might prefer the term ‘function’, but it’s really the same thing unless you want to split hairs, the purpose of which is to provide warmth and a certain level of protection.”

    Again, this is well recognized by most biologists and philosophers as being more than a semantic distinction. Evolution is unguided, lacking in intent and design… This is widely acknowledged and (even if you disagree with it) it is hardly “dishonest” to hold such a view. I may be mistaken on an issue, uninformed, ignorant, confused, or wrong in a million and one ways (actually I am pretty sure about that last one) but please do not continue to call me dishonest or purposefully deceptive. I do my best to refrain from attacking your character and in fact truly believe that you are (like me) coming at this discussion from an honest place of compassion, concern, and interest. I hope you can recognize my desire to do the same.

  89. @ marshalart,

    “But once again, to dismiss discussions of function and purpose allows for totally subjective notions of that very thing.”

    People use subjective to mean quite a few different concepts and I must admit I am struggling to understand how you are intending it to be meant in some instances.

    Again, I have no problem with discussion of function (I recommended it!), and for the sake of argument I will accept your claims of purposefulness.

    “Pretending tools or body parts are made for however we want to use them absolutely subjective.”

    No, tools are built by intentional beings for intentional purposes, I never argued otherwise. And body parts have specific functions… And for this discussion purposes… Once again, so?

    “For the sake of this discussion, it allows for abdication of responsibility for the actions in question. It provides an excuse to suggest that the product of an act designed for procreation is not another person. If we insist that sexual intercourse is equally meant for pleasure as it is for procreation, then we can demand that we not be held accountable for the action and the consequences of it.”

    Wrong. There are very good scientific and philosophical reasons for not using language of intention, purpose, and design to describe the forces of evolution that have absolutely nothing to do with this topic. It would be like saying that the purpose of the moon is to cause the tides… It functions to cause the tides, but it has no “intent” to cause them.

    But regardless, that obviously isn’t the reason for holding that position as I am perfectly willing to accept your stance for the sake of argument. Even WITH that concession, your conclusions do not follow.

    “I didn’t mean to produce a baby so I must figure out an argument that can convince others that the procedure known as abortion is not destroying a person.”

    I have never had a direct personal reason for developing such an excuse, but maybe you mean pre-emptive or something.

    Setting that aside, that argument involves two well known logical fallacies, the genetic fallacy and the ad homonym fallacy.

    Even if I had the worst motives in the world, it would not make my argument wrong. If I tried to convince you that murder was wrong just so that when you turned around I could kill you, that wouldn’t make murder all of a sudden moral, just because I defended it for a nefarious reason. And that is completely aside from the fact that you are just making up speculations based upon absolutely no information what-so-ever… Which I find people often use as a tool to dismiss a person without considering their arguments, but I am sure you did not intend it that way.

    “Then, I’ll insist that those who don’t agree explain why I’m wrong.”

    The majority of Americans agree generally with me (maybe not to the specific week) as far as I have seen according to polls. So it is not that odd to ask someone to defend their position, especially when in the minority. I have been defending my position as well. To fault me for challenging your beliefs (if that is what you were intending to do) is quite weak.

    “My criteria is much more straightforward and based on biological facts,”

    What criteria? Simply asserting a zygote is a person is not a criteria. What features makes a person a person and a cell just a cell?

    “regardless of your baseless assertion that it is wrong: The employment of two of the opposite sex of their particular reproductive organs in the act designed to produce a new person. Thus, the result, the zygote, is a person at its earliest stage of development, complete with all every other person at that stage possesses.”

    It is not a baseless assertion to point out that this conclusion in no way logically follows from your premises, it is actually quite far from doing so. If you don’t believe me and the arguments I have presented to demonstrate as much, I could run it by some respected professors who teach logic for a living if you want? It would take some time likely to wait for responses and what not, but I am willing to do so if you really can’t see why that is an illogical deduction.

    “The difference between it and any other human cell is that it will become an adult person some day. No skin cell, no blood cell, no bone cell, no other cell of a human body will become an adult person.”

    Well, it’s not likely at least. But so? Saying something will become and adult person does not entail that it itself is a person. I have given you MANY examples of why that is the case (Such as the butterfly metaphor recently).

    I am getting sleepy… The rest later.

  90. Austintx, what more clarity do you need?

    Individual (not a part of the mother)
    living (has biological processes)
    human (one of the species)
    organism (contiguous living system).

    That’s all. That’s what we have in common with a zygote, fetus, baby, and so on.

    What gives it moral standing is that it is what we are, because we were what it is. And throughout its life, from the beginning to the end, it is physically verifiably the same as any other human being.

    We have decided that it’s wrong to kill human beings based on certain types of differences. It’s wrong to pick criteria like skin color to determine one’s right to live, or even vote! More to the point, we say it’s wrong to kill people with lower IQs, such as those with downs syndrome. Surely, one can (and some have) made the case that a severely mentally retarded person’s quality of life would not be “a life worth living”, and that killing him or her would be justified both for the person’s sake, and to releive ourselves of the burden his or her life would place on us. But, we have decided it would be wrong.

    WE have decided that what we have in common trumps the differences. It’s enough that they are living human beings.

  91. Andrew,

    I haven’t seen your butterfly metaphor. Perhaps it was in a response to C2C. I haven’t had time to read every comment here except that which was directed to me. I wish I had the time, but I don’t. Don’t feel you need to rehash it unless you feel it pertinent to our exchange.

    Your suggestion of running my position past professors is fine with me, but it also contains caveats. Respected by whom? Does respect by some demand respect from me? Must I accept that their opinion is not slanted by their own biases and preferred beliefs?

    Anyway…

    You continue to ask why purpose and function matters. I can’t think of any further way to explain it. What’s more, I don’t see that you’ve taken any effort in explaining why it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter. However, it is clear to see why ignoring purpose and function is an advantage to your position. As I said, it allows more latitude in deciding for yourself what constitutes legitimate criteria, criteria you have yet to show is anything more than selective and self-serving in nature.

    But don’t take offense by my responses. It isn’t my intention that you personally are being dishonest. It seems clear to me that you have totally bought into the arguments that you are using. But the arguments themselves are dishonest intellectually because they cannot be complete without considering purpose and function. I don’t see how logic comes into play without all the facts that are lacking by ignoring purpose and function. That is, logic goes only as far as the available facts.

    I’m also a bit confused by how you can continue to say my conclusions are illogical with the acceptance of my focus on purpose and function. Further, to reject the obvious conclusion that the union of two persons is what it takes to create a new person, and thus the product of that union must also be a person is absolutely a logical conclusion. I get that you don’t accept this conclusion. What I don’t get is why. You simply reject it with no true counter.

    The trouble, I think, is in the application of the term “person”. Scientifically/biologically we can’t say that product of that union isn’t human in nature. At one time that argument was put forth. It no longer works with reasonable people. So, the argument eventually shifted to applying the term “person” as if there is really any difference. There isn’t beyond what one chooses. You wish to speak of philosophical discussions of ethics and the like. Secular or not, it is purely subjective to apply the term based on subjectively chosen criteria. Cerebral cortex? Why does that matter? More to the point, why does it matter more than the simple fact that the zygote is a product of the act meant for procreation? The answer is one of convenience, not provable distinction. That one cannot possibly be a person with a functioning cortex is no more true than skin color, which was a criteria for some in the slave days. And once again, one cannot hold it against the zygote since it has not yet developed the body parts that YOU have decided is necessary for the application of the term “person”.

    As to the mother and how she regards her pregnancy, I offered this in response to your assertion that most people feel as you do. It is a clear example of one group of people who disagree. And no, it does not matter what the biology is, such as the zygote being merely one cell, or the blastocyst being a collection of them or the embryo at any of its stages of development. The mother will regard it a her child, a person developing within her. And she will do so with full acknowledgement that the child is only one cell or thirty-two. That is, like me, she will view that one cell as a person, that is, unless she needs an excuse to relieve herself of the trouble and responsibility of bringing it to term. Then, like you, she will prefer the “collection of cells” position. Subjective.

    As to your garden, it is a garden as long as you intend it to be one. You might have no reason to proudly parade your guests before it when it is simply a patch of dirt set aside for the task, but it is your garden as long as you plan for that patch to be one. This is true because you will view it as one and treat it as one and will do so regardless of the exact time of planting seed or harvesting the results. In this same way, many subjectively regard the fetus as a person if they want the child and a clump of cells if they don’t.

    But even your talk of ethics and philosophy is an after the fact discussion. The facts are based on what the body parts are, what their functions are and how they are applied.

  92. Specific problems in no particular order:

    “No we don’t! Even if I accept 100% your dubious presentation, the conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises.”

    As I have said, you say this with no real argument as to why my conclusion fails. Saying so doesn’t make it so. Two persons acting in a manner that produces a new person means the product of that union is a person. How is that not a logical conclusion? You never say.

    “People often don’t think about the foundations of applied ethics as they concern their daily life, so?”

    I am mostly concerned here with the term “applied ethics”. What is striking to me is that very little that is ethical is applied to the concept of ending a pregnancy. Indeed, it seems far more accurate to say only that there is an attempt to apply the term “ethical” to abortion or the reasons why it isn’t ethical or moral. You, at one point, brought up murder and how it can’t be made moral. Yet that is exactly what is happening with arguments supporting abortion. “Let’s find a point before which we can deny a being personhood so that aborting it won’t be troubling to us.”

    “It is not dishonest… I would say the majority of secular biologists and philosophers agree with my stance.”

    Numbers to not determine right and wrong or truth or dishonesty. But again, I’m not referring to an intention to deceive. I don’t deny the very real possibility that you and your secular biologists truly want to come out of this as moral, or at least not immoral. But your stance is intellectually dishonest for reasons already stated.

    “Evolution is unguided, lacking in intent and design.”

    This is not accurate at all. It is guided by what best results in survival of the species in question. It is a matter of alterations made in order to adapt. Those species that have survived evolved in a manner that allows for their survival. Their design is constantly upgraded for the purpose of survival of the species. I’m pretty sure that’s how evolution has always been presented, is it not? But regardless, this does not mean that a body part has no specific function or purpose.

    “It would be like saying that the purpose of the moon is to cause the tides”

    This is another analogy that doesn’t work for you at all. There is no comparison between the function of a body part and the effect of one thing on another. In one case the effect may be a function or purpose or the result of a function of a particular thing, in another it might be a collateral effect, totally unintended. More to the point, it is not a purpose of the moon to cause tides, but it is a purpose of copulation to produce another of the species of the two so engaged. Most of your analogies have been of this apples/oranges type, though not so blatantly as this one.

    “Even WITH that concession, your conclusions do not follow.”

    There it is again. Why not? When two engage in sexual intercourse, there are only two possibilities: pregnancy will occur or it won’t. There are no other possibilities. The former is because that’s what sexual intercourse is meant to do. The latter is because it isn’t meant that it WILL happen every time intercourse takes place. But still, you aren’t showing why the conclusion is wrong. You are only insisting that it is.

  93. @Marshalart,

    “Only a human zygote will. Until then, it is not an adult person, but a person at its earliest stage of development.”

    This is an unsupported assertion. I have presented a significant set of arguments to show that this is not the case. How does anything you have presented, whether it be biology or teleological talk of purpose and design, demonstrate that the zygote is a person rather than the zygote being the beginning of that which develops into a person? It is a single cell with the instructions and properties necessary to eventually construct and develop into a fully functioning human person.

    You keep asserting otherwise but, unless I am missing something, rarely are you presenting anything to support your assertion over mine. Biology fits my description equally as well (I would say much better in fact) as yours.

    In fact if I asked a professional secular biologist, I am again pretty confident they would agree with me on this matter as well. Should I attempt to do this as well?

    “How is it ‘objectively wrong’? It is a biological fact.”

    What IS a biological fact (and again I can ask a few respected biologists to settle this matter if you wish) is that once the ovum is fertilized a zygote is produced. THAT is a biological FACT. Whether that zygote is a PERSON is a matter of fact from my perspective, but cannot be obtained SOLELY from biological descriptions. Notice I said SOLELY.

    “What I am calling subjective is the manner in which you apply the criteria. I don’t say that having a trait is subjective. As you say, it either does or doesn’t possess them. But your assigning personhood based on that criteria is totally subjective.”

    No it is not. It is founded in what I see to be the objective meta-ethical truths found in Desirism upon which all our moral prohibitions, obligations, etc. should be based. In ADDITION I have used the basically universally used practice of using hypothetical situations in order to show why my assessment fits with virtually universal human intuition, while yours (little defined as it is) does not.

    When we consider what a person is in every day life, and indeed if we assess what are the ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS of that personhood, I think my standard is THE ONLY objectively recognizable standard of personhood available. No one assigns personal value to a living organism by virtue of its DNA, its ability to maintain biological function, its ability to reproduce, it’s ability to undergo mitosis, its containing stem cells or not… What DOES make one an individual personal identity is a remarkable organ on top of our shoulders who no one would volunteer to have replaced, even if offered the foolproof opportunity to receive a younger, healthier, and faster one. Why? Because it is the seat and location of our entire personal identity and personhood. To deny this one has to twist themselves in pretzels defining personhood via secondary or convoluted biological categories that still fail.

    “It flows only from what appeals to you as being necessary for the title ‘person’.”

    Only if you ignore the vast multitude of arguments supporting my position, which it seems you might be doing.

    “As to that, it really doesn’t matter how many people feel the same way. Numbers of people of the same opinion do not equate to fact or truth.”

    Where did I claim they did? This would be the fallacy of argumentum ad populum… But I am not sure where you think I made such a fallacious argument.

    “But on my side of the argument, I deal only with what is without question: that the zygote is the finished product of the act meant to produce one.”

    This is NOT without question. In fact, like I said, I could ask professional biologists whose description they find to be more accurate, yours claiming that the zygote is the finished product of the reproductive process, or mine that it is the initial stage in embryonic development and far from “finished.” Not only do I think they would “question” your account, I think the majority would simply reject it. Do you want to find out?

    “Going back to the crane and the building analogy, the zygote is indeed more comparable to the finished building because it is what was intended by the act.”

    Far from it. Although this particular use of “intention” is INCREDIBLY problematic, I will let that slide for now, as I have agreed to accept your use of such terms for now.

    Setting that aside, and using your own fallacious argumentative style, what woman truly thinks upon fertilization that they have “finished” their reproductive role? Seriously. Most couples don’t even tell friends and family right away because the chance of miscarriage early on is so high. If you asked a woman who had just discovered she is pregnant how it felt to be done with the reproductive process and its ultimate goal of ovum fertilization, she would look at you as if you were nuts.

    I don’t know why I indulged in that digression, because although it seems to be the kind of digression you present as an argument, it actually has no real bearing on the topic at hand.

    “The crane and the beam are more comparable to the penis and sperm. Whereas a building requires many components (beams, brick, mortar, electrical system, plumbing, etc) the zygote requires only what is delivered by the father and mother to be completed. That it develops further, whereas a building cannot, is irrelevant. The zygote is, nonetheless, complete and ready to do what it is meant to do, just as the building when completed is meant to do something.”

    I would brush up on your biology. If this was the case than women could have C-sections after one week, and artificial wombs would be a snap to build…. Again, another claim of yours I am certain almost any biologist would reject. Do I need to go into detail about all that is involved in the gestational process? The fathers role is theoretically “done” after fertilization, but that does not mean that the process is complete. A zygote is not just like a really really really young person, it is different on intensely fundamental levels… So many that it would be absurd to attempt to list them all here.

    One of us is denying biological facts, but it is not me.

    “‘That is clearly false. Biology is not concerned with discerning moral categories.’

    This would suggest that everything connected with whatever is considered moral is based only upon that which is also of a moral category.”

    Again, another invalid logical deduction. Unless one is a bio-ethicist, the field of biology is largely descriptive and is not concerned with moral categories… Again, not a controversial claim. In no way does acknowledging that mean that one cannot use biology in helping establish moral categories, or in assessing biological descriptions from a moral perspective. This is not controversial, and is actually I think universally accepted by philosophers on the topic… There might be an exception or two.

    For instance, I could give a precise biological description of what happens if someone plunges a knife into another’s chest. Nothing about that biological description will tell me whether that was a moral or immoral act. This doesn’t mean the biology is irrelevant to the morality of it, just that it is descriptive and not prescriptive.

    “But regardless, I was not referring to morality, though this discussion is bringing about that which supports the notion of whether or not abortion is moral, or more to the point, murder.”

    If we are not discussing the moral status of abortion, what are we discussing?

    “At the same time, it cannot be overlooked that there is a moral component at work here. The view of human sexuality these days is in great conflict with traditional notions of morality, and it is as a result that we are left with this controversy.”

    This is an odd and irrelevant digression. I would agree that many aspects of modern notions of sexuality are in conflict with many older notions of sexuality (at least within our specific western context over the last few hundred years). Some of these conflicts and changes are good, some possibly bad. You aren’t against changes in status of women as equal citizens for instance, are you? Or I am guessing you would not oppose the historical trend towards the criminalization and discouragement of prostitution, are you? Historically prostitution has enjoyed much more social and legal acceptance… Do you oppose this trend away from “tradition?”

    “finished product:
    The zygote is a finished product of the procreative act. Procreation has taken place when the sperm penetrates the ovum and division begins. THAT is the process to which I referred. From that point on, a new process is at work, the process of maturation into a Del Webb resident.”

    Again, another assertion that you act as if I should find persuasive… I don’t know what a Del Webb resident is either.

    “This is the issue, isn’t it? What makes a person?”

    You seriously have not noticed this was the central issue until now?!?

    “To answer your initial question (demand) in the above quote, I can say that there is no other example. All other examples of people without a functioning cerebral cortex are either people who have brain damage or the rare instance of a child born without one.”

    Certainly most are these. But not solely. As I have repeatedly pointed out there are plenty of examples of genetically human living biological material that we don’t consider to be persons. There is only one thing really that links together ALL the things that are I controversially believed to be persons… Can you guess what it is?

    “But the zygote has one on the way. Be patient. It ‘intends’ to have one.”

    A zygote has no intentions! That is partly the point. A zygote “intends” nothing. It has not desires, attitudes, intentions, etc. it very well MAY develop intentions, cerebral cortex, etc. but so what? When the zygote exists, at that very moment it has NONE of these.

    “But you won’t allow it in the ‘person club’ until it does. That’s subjective by definition.”

    It is not me “deciding” that it shouldn’t be a person anymore than I “decide” that a sperm isn’t a person. I am not rejecting sperm from the “person club,” I am assessing whether or not a sperm, egg, zygote, fetus, etc. IS a person or not. Why is it “objective” when I deny a sperm is a person and “subjective” when I deny that a zygote is a person? I don’t think it is a problem of subjectivity on your part, but merely a completely ad hoc application of standards and criteria. Basically you want whatever it is you wish to be considered a person, considered a person and those things you happen to not think are persons you can come up with an ad hoc category of rejection for them if need be. I am the only one here offering a consistent standard that explains a wide variety of moral intuitions and facts. You wish to make a different standard (as far as I can tell whatever you feel to be right) for each and every instance so as to fit with what you have already decided.

    “Note that all who feel this way have a functioning cerebral cortex (almost all). They had to decide that it is the case. They haven’t shown why it is the case, nor have you.”

    What does the fact that we have functioning cerebral cortex’s have to do with anything? It would be impossible for us to do so otherwise… Which is the point in a way.

    I have show MANY reasons why this is the case. Many you have simply refused to address or dismissed because you didn’t care for them for one reason or another that you never really explain.

    “You say this as if it is fact. It isn’t. It is only the opinion of some people.”

    I am arguing that it is a fact. And unless you think there is no fact of the matter as whether a zygote is or is not a person, than it is not mere opinion. I am either factually correct or factually incorrect.

    “Clearly. It’s a philosophical question, to be sure, but your arguments are not based on anything other than personal preference and subjective applications of criteria chosen for the task.”

    “My criteria flows from the biology itself, whether there is conscious intent in the function of the parts and act to which the parts are applied or not.”

    No it does not. (See my MANY arguments above).

    “Reproductive organs, reproductive act, reproduced result—-a person from two other persons.”

    This last sentence demonstrates to me that you don’t really seem to be grasping what my argument is…. As I AGREE WITH IT! (Your last sentence that is)

  94. continuing…

    “that argument involves two well known logical fallacies, the genetic fallacy and the ad homonym fallacy.”

    There’s nothing fallacious in my arguments at all. And the argument in particular is based on reality. Many people engage in sex for pleasure alone, right? Thus, they do not intend for a pregnancy to occur. For some of these, a pregnancy can be highly problematic, but so could the thought of killing a child. So, they conceive a way in which they can justify the killing and absolve themselves of guilt or prevent accusations cast upon them. Some who abort know exactly what is happening, but others require that absolution and telling themselves the person aborted isn’t a person is the way to go. The lengths one goes to do this involve the very arguments you bring forth.

    “What criteria? Simply asserting a zygote is a person is not a criteria.”

    Good thing I haven’t done that. Instead, I have stated repeatedly that the human zygote is the product of an act, the function of which is to produce another of the species of the parents. THAT is the criteria and it flows from the facts of the situation. It is not applied subjectively. The zygote is the result of the function. A functioning cerebral cortex is criteria without legitimate basis but is an assertion. To put it another way, we both assert that the zygote is or isn’t a person based upon criteria we find compelling. The difference is that mine does not rely on forcing a subjective preference. Mine is based on the biological fact of the situation. My conclusion flows from those facts regardless of whether or not it works for me personally.

  95. @Marshalart,

    I don’t have time to respond in full, but I wanted to pick out a couple of points to address quickly.

    “Respected by whom? Does respect by some demand respect from me? Must I accept that their opinion is not slanted by their own biases and preferred beliefs?”

    I was speaking of academic professors in their respective fields. And of course you don’t have to respect them or their opinions, however that is irrelevant for the following reasons. Firstly, one of your claims is that the zygote is a “finished” person is an undeniable biological fact. If I show that those who specialize in the field find it rather easy to deny this “fact,” than you are wrong. Certainly THEY could be wrong, but your contention that this is somehow an undeniable established fact would none-the-less be wrong.

    Secondly, when it comes to matters of the logical construction of sentence structure, do you think that is something for which their is a wide divergence in views and opinions? Certainly there are aspects of modal logic, application, and various fringe topics that are hotly debated, but the core principles of logic, deduction, inference, etc. are rather clearly and mathematically established, would you disagree?

    “What’s more, I don’t see that you’ve taken any effort in explaining why it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter.”

    I have SEVERAL TIMES demonstrated why it doesn’t matter. You REPEATEDLY claim in your last comments that I merely assert claims without defense… Completely ignoring the fact that I have over and over and over again presented arguments to the contrary. Do I need to copy and paste my previous arguments again for you to read?

    So, one more time. Let us take the very example of which we are speaking, so you can’t accuse me of improper analogy.

    You argue that “But if the activity that by its design is meant to create another person, then indeed the result of that activity must be a person.”

    However this is clearly not the case. If it was than every act of intercourse would result in a person. Therefore you must acknowledge precisely what I argue, that a process takes place whose RESULT is a person. That does not mean that because the result is a person it logically follows that everything leading up to that result is a person. That is what is REQUIRED for your claim to be logically true, and it is self-defeating because the zygote itself is the result of a process.

    After intercourse it can take days for the egg to actually become fertilized (if it ever does). Yet you don’t claim that during this period and process there must already be a person, despite it being the result as you say of an act designed to do so. You acknowledge that there is a process that takes time in which the collection of sperm makes it’s way to the ovaries, etc. you claim that the “end” of this process is the zygote, I dispute that. Your claim of purpose does nothing to show which of these points biologically a person results. We both agree that a person results, the question is WHEN.

    Over and over I have presented such arguments, so please don’t say I am just making assertions without argument and support.

    “Scientifically/biologically we can’t say that product of that union isn’t human in nature. At one time that argument was put forth. It no longer works with reasonable people. So, the argument eventually shifted to applying the term ‘person’ as if there is really any difference.”

    I have heard John and others on here claim this, but I have no idea to what you are referring. Who are these people who were saying abortion is okay because the fetus is not genetically or biologically human? Again this is an example of the genetic fallacy, but I am still curious where this idea comes from?

    “You wish to speak of philosophical discussions of ethics and the like. Secular or not, it is purely subjective to apply the term based on subjectively chosen criteria.”

    You keep saying things like this. However, from my perspective, I did not “choose” these criteria, the criteria are objective features of reality. From my meta-ethical perspective they result entirely naturally from the fact that desires are the only reasons for action that exist.

    I did not “choose” the criteria in order to make a zygote a non-person any more than I “chose” them to make a sperm a non-person. To act as if your criteria are somehow obviously objective and mine are obviously just ad hoc and chosen merely to serve my ends is just to abandon the principle of charity that must underlie any reasonable debate.

    If I wanted, I too could simply claim you had nefarious reasons (conscious or not) for the position you hold, and thus dismiss your arguments as mere manipulation. But in accordance with the principle of charity I merely assume that one of us is mistaken, and for the time being I am rather convinced that it is you who are mistaken..

    ” That is, like me, she will view that one cell as a person, that is, unless she needs an excuse to relieve herself of the trouble and responsibility of bringing it to term. Then, like you, she will prefer the ‘collection of cells’ position.”

    I know plenty of mothers who have children and have never had an abortion that agree with me that the zygote is not a person… So this is just false. The fact that you think all mothers uniformly agree with your position without any evidence is quite telling.

  96. @Marshalart,

    There’s nothing fallacious in my arguments at all.”

    An argument based on the perceived motives of the opponent is logically fallacious. That is what you were doing by describing (based solely on your imagination I might add) why you think pro-choice proponents make these arguments. It is a fallacy of irrelevance because it has no bearing on the truth value of the argument.

    It is also an ad hominem attack because it is made against the character of your opponent, not their argument. These are completely agreed upon logical fallacies. I would consider maybe picking up a popular/undergraduate level book on logic and critical thinking. I don’t mean this as an attack, I just think many people would benefit from more exposure to such resources (including me).

  97. Austintx,

    You seem to be confused with the notion of the finished product of the act of male/female sexual intercourse. It is true that a born baby is much further along than a zygote. In fact, it is what one hopes to be the eventual result of pregnancy. But then, it is our hope that the baby will learn to walk and talk. It is our hope that the toddler will grow up and become an adult. But, you seem to think that the born baby IS the finished product, though an infant is far from what any of us would consider to be a fully developed human being. Don’t get me wrong. I get that you think that a “person” (as you describe it) is the final product, but really, a person, as you describe one, is only the final product of a certain measure of maturation of a very specific type of living organism: a human being.

    What is required to produce that organism? Can a woman left alone for nine months produce one? No. Something else is required: the delivery of a male’s genetic material. After that, the man can go away. He can even die, and his offspring will remain. So, the product of the encounter itself is the finished product of the encounter. After that, the zygote can grow, it can die, or it can be killed. But, it exists very shortly after the act is complete. The act that produces zygotes (whether intended or not by god, nature, evolution,the participants, or physical configuration of the organs used in the act). To deny that the zygote is the finished product of the use and proper function of male and female reproductive organs is to ignore that a zygote can be even a consequence of the organs’ function at all.

    When a man and woman want to have children, they don’t think that any act but sex will accomplish it (assuming that they’re parts are in working condition). Once the act is done, the woman may go to a doctor for verification that the act had the desired effect. If you’re right (that the zygote is not the finished product), the doctor and woman would surely be surprised that a “person” is not what had been produced, but that there was nothing to be found but a mere zygote! “Well, I guess we’ll scrap whatever THAT is and try again. I was hoping we had produced an airline pilot!”.

    The argument is only whether or not a zygote is a person. The issue simply cannot be whether the zygote is the finished product of sex. It obviously is.

    That’s a problem for you. You agree that the “end product” is a person. You just don’t want what actually IS the product TO BE a person.

    Like so many liberal positions, you think that what you want to be true must be true.

    “Gun free zones” are just that, right? No chance that a gunman can ever exist in an area WE SAY is gun free?

    “Telling kids not to have sex or do drugs doesn’t work”, right? Yet, telling them not to smoke cigarettes somehow seems to be the exception, in liberals’ minds. And guess what? THAT works! It’s just that they want it not to be the case with sex and pot!

    “The death penalty is not a deterrent”, right? Are any penalties deterrents? Is a fine for speeding a deterrent? If the death penalty is not a deterrent, why would any penalty deter anyone from doing anything?

    “I want it to be true, so it is”.

    You don’t want a fetus to be a person. You want people to be able to kill them. You NEED a fetus not to be worthy of protection, so you say it isn’t what it is, and just “know” that you’re right.

    If the product of sex is a person (eventually), then the thing that is actually produced by sex, that will become what YOU SAY is a person is the same thing. It wasn’t some random thing that developed into a being with YOUR personality. A ZYGOTE did. That zygote WAS YOU. Why is this not obvious to you?

  98. @conservative2cents,

    “human (one of the species)”

    How do you determine one of a species? Is a body being kept biologically alive despite lacking a head a member of the human species?

    “organism (contiguous living system).”

    How do you establish contiguity? Any living system is “contiguous” with itself? A single skin cell is contiguous with itself in a sense, and a quadriplegic is discontinuous in another sense.

    • Austintx, I can’t help if you can’t see fit to recognize a human being as an organism. I’m sorry. It’s the definition of organism. I really don’t know what else to say on the subject.

      And yes, a body is one of the human species, with or without the head, if it was the product of human reproduction. Again, it’s so clearly human that I don’t know what else to say.

      And I’m not sure why “being kept alive” is so important to you. Do you suggest that a headless human is equivalent to a fetus? Why? Because it’s being kept alive? We’re all being “kept” alive. Even an adult will die if you stab it and pull it limb from limb, as is common in abortion. What’s the difference? One could kill a man in a coma that way. That’s what’s commonly referred to as “killing” an organism.

      What’s your point?

  99. @conservative2cents,

    “More to the point, we say it’s wrong to kill people with lower IQs, such as those with downs syndrome. Surely, one can (and some have) made the case that a severely mentally retarded person’s quality of life would not be ‘a life worth living’, and that killing him or her would be justified both for the person’s sake, and to releive ourselves of the burden his or her life would place on us. But, we have decided it would be wrong.”

    Although I think there are very difficult cases where an infants intense and unrelenting suffering is clearly apparent and there prognosis is a guaranteed short life of unbearable pain for instance, I do agree with you in general however. One of the difficulties is communication and consent, it is impossible to know the persons state and desires on the matter requiring deference to life.

    But I am not talking about someone with a low IQ… I am talking about something that has NO IQ. This seems to be regularly lost on you. In every single historical case where we agree that horrible crimes to humanity and injustices have been done, there has been a thinking recipient of those harms… EVERY TIME! A mentally handicapped person may not be able to fully comprehend the nature of the harm, or communicate their wishes to not me harmed, but there is a thinking being that IS being harmed. The zygote does not think “ouch! That wasn’t nice” or ANYTHING for that matter. The zygote has NO MORE THOUGHTS than does a rock.

    “WE have decided that what we have in common trumps the differences. It’s enough that they are living human beings.”

    Except most people, I am relatively confident, outside the topic of abortion recognize that the thinking brain is the seat of our personal identity. ALL other body parts can come and go and be replaced without anyone considering it to be a loss of the person and their individual identity. ALL body parts that is EXCEPT THE BRAIN.

    The zygote is missing THE ESSENTIAL element that everyone recognizes (outside of the abortion topic) is the sole suppository of one’s identity.

    You have no explanation for this. For some reason our individual identity is held in the zygote and then mysteriously imbeds itself in the properties of a single organ with which it shares nothing more in common with than any other human organ or body part.

  100. @conservative2cents,

    “You seem to be confused with the notion of the finished product of the act of male/female sexual intercourse. It is true that a born baby is much further along than a zygote. In fact, it is what one hopes to be the eventual result of pregnancy. But then, it is our hope that the baby will learn to walk and talk. It is our hope that the toddler will grow up and become an adult. But, you seem to think that the born baby IS the finished product, though an infant is far from what any of us would consider to be a fully developed human being.”

    I don’t think I am terribly confused. I do have the difficulty of trying to accept, for the sake of argument, terminology and teleological explanations that I think are terribly muddled and misguided. I think it is likely by virtue of the fact that these terms have no well defined or meaningful use that things might appear confused. I could be wrong though.

    As an example, talking about the “finished product,” essentially has no meaning to me. I am attempting to argue from that standpoint simply as to show that even accepting such things does not result in the conclusion you desire. “Finished” is completely relative as far as I can tell (and as I have already argued before). An infant could be said to be an “unfinished” adult but a “finished” person for instance. So there is a great danger of equivocation and ambiguity.

    “Don’t get me wrong. I get that you think that a ‘person’ (as you describe it) is the final product, but really, a person, as you describe one, is only the final product of a certain measure of maturation of a very specific type of living organism: a human being.”

    Sure, I don’t think I have a problem with that description.

    “What is required to produce that organism? Can a woman left alone for nine months produce one? No. Something else is required: the delivery of a male’s genetic material. After that, the man can go away. He can even die, and his offspring will remain. So, the product of the encounter itself is the finished product of the encounter.”

    See, you both keep making these massive logical leaps, apparently believing your often straightforward run up leads naturally to its conclusion.

    For instance you could go further than that, the man could die immediately post ejaculation and still end up fathering a child… So? That doesn’t make the sperm and egg persons, which would be the conclusion if your argument was valid. The fact that the man’s “job” is done has NO BEARING on the moral ontology of the child.

    If the man had a further necessary role to play, such as having to takeover gestation for the last 4 months, it would not make the zygote an non-person in your estimation, so why does it matter?

    “To deny that the zygote is the finished product of the use and proper function of male and female reproductive organs is to ignore that a zygote can be even a consequence of the organs’ function at all.”

    How so? This is a complete non-sequitur.

    “When a man and woman want to have children, they don’t think that any act but sex will accomplish it (assuming that they’re parts are in working condition). Once the act is done, the woman may go to a doctor for verification that the act had the desired effect. If you’re right (that the zygote is not the finished product), the doctor and woman would surely be surprised that a ‘person’ is not what had been produced, but that there was nothing to be found but a mere zygote! ‘Well, I guess we’ll scrap whatever THAT is and try again. I was hoping we had produced an airline pilot!’.”

    What does this have to do with anything? Zygotes develop into persons, infants, etc. no one is denying this, so of course the parents are happy if trying to conceive and fertilization takes place, that is a major step in the process from which the rest develops.

    “The argument is only whether or not a zygote is a person. The issue simply cannot be whether the zygote is the finished product of sex. It obviously is.”

    Oi, whatever… This whole “finished product” thing and what-not is really not very useful… Conception is the desired result of intercourse when attempting to get pregnant, yes.

    “That’s a problem for you. You agree that the ‘end product’ is a person. You just don’t want what actually IS the product TO BE a person.”

    You have no idea what I do or do not “want.” I agree that sexual intercourse is most often how persons are produced. I have said this over and over again… NONE of this entails that therefore a person is instantaneously produced upon conception.

    A fertilized flower will eventually produce a fruit, nothing about this demands that instantaneously upon fertilization it is a fruit. It is a fertilized flower That undergoes a process by which a fruit is produced. You keep claiming that your SPECIFIC point in the process MUST be a person because we agree that this is how persons are created. But I agree pollination is how fruit is created but that does not mean I suddenly MUST acknowledge that a fertilized flower is a fruit. It is the beginning of the process of creating a fruit, and if you really want fruit you may be excited to discover the flowers have been fertilized, but none of this MAKES it a fruit.

    “Like so many liberal positions, you think that what you want to be true must be true.”

    I doesn’t consider myself a liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. as I feel those are often just convenient ways of avoiding thinking for one’s self as you can simply convince yourself that what other liberals or conservatives say you likely agree with without giving it much thought because they are on YOUR side, and similarly it makes it easy to dismiss views simply because they are not YOUR SIDES views.

    This is a good example of that, despite knowing nothing about me other than what I have argued here you assume I hold a whole set of specific views entirely unrelated to this topic in order to make it easier (I am presuming) to dismiss whatever I argue.

    If you want to discuss guns, drugs, or the death penalty I am fine to do so, but none of it has any bearing on the topic at hand.

    “You don’t want a fetus to be a person. You want people to be able to kill them. You NEED a fetus not to be worthy of protection, so you say it isn’t what it is, and just ‘know’ that you’re right.”

    How do you get any of this from the arguments I have made? This seems like merely a convenient way to fallaciously dismiss my arguments because I must have a secret sinister motive right? It couldn’t possibly be that I came about my beliefs reasonably and honestly!

    “If the product of sex is a person (eventually), then the thing that is actually produced by sex, that will become what YOU SAY is a person is the same thing.”

    I have shown over and over and over again how this is a plain and clear fallacy. This argument makes no sense. Something can be one thing and then develop into another… This should not be controversial and to deny it is sheer desperation. To admit that a caterpillar develops into a butterfly is NOT to admit that a caterpillar IS a butterfly. To acknowledge that a fertilized flower develops into a fruit is NOT to admit that a fertilized flower IS a fruit. It is quite absurd to claim otherwise.

    “It wasn’t some random thing that developed into a being with YOUR personality. A ZYGOTE did.”

    Agree.

    “That zygote WAS YOU. Why is this not obvious to you?”

    Disagree. It IS obvious to me… Obviously false. How does ANY of this address my MANY and repeated arguments showing why this conclusion is false. Bending over backwards to avoid the obvious seat of personal identity

  101. @conservative2cents,

    “I can’t help if you can’t see fit to recognize a human being as an organism.”

    Did I anywhere deny a human being was an organism?

    “I’m sorry. It’s the definition of organism. I really don’t know what else to say on the subject.”

    “Human being” is not the definition of “organism.” But I have no problem with saying a human being is an organism. I asked you a couple of questions about what you consider a “contiguous” organism. If it is obvious than you should have no difficulty describing it… I no where contested your terms however, simply asked for clarification.

    “And yes, a body is one of the human species, with or without the head, if it was the product of human reproduction. Again, it’s so clearly human that I don’t know what else to say.”

    Again, I never denied that it was.

    “And I’m not sure why ‘being kept alive’ is so important to you. Do you suggest that a headless human is equivalent to a fetus? Why? Because it’s being kept alive? We’re all being ‘kept’ alive.”

    No, because they both lack a brain and neither are persons. Both may be contiguous, living organisms, whom are members of the human species, and distinguishable from their mothers… And it would be generally acknowledged that one of these is not a person, and I would say neither are. Considering how many times I have argued these points, how was that not clear?

    “Even an adult will die if you stab it and pull it limb from limb, as is common in abortion.”

    Most abortions are performed before the fetus is an inch long. In addition, the fact that one might find something uncomfortable to perform is not an argument. I would probably be made uncomfortable by dismembering a cow or chicken… This does not make it immoral.

    “What’s the difference? One could kill a man in a coma that way. That’s what’s commonly referred to as ‘killing’ an organism. What’s your point?”

    Someone in a comma (provided they are not actually brain dead) still has a personal identity. I have never claimed someone needs to be conscious to be a person. Someone who is brain dead, has no head, has no brain specifically, is NOT a person, even if they are a human being and their body remains “alive.”

  102. Once again I must skip past the back and forth between Andrew and C2C, though I wish I had the time to do otherwise. Nonetheless…

    Andrew,

    “I was speaking of academic professors in their respective fields…Certainly THEY could be wrong, but your contention that this is somehow an undeniable established
    fact would none-the-less be wrong.”

    Let me restate my position for the sake of clarity. It is that it is an established fact that at the moment of conception a new human being exists. I don’t think you would find too many academic professors (particularly of biology) that would dispute this. Our discussion here revolves around when that human is a person worthy of protection as we are. As to a zygote being the finished product, I don’t know what more the father and mother can do once intercourse has resulted in ejaculation to further complete the task. The zygote is the finished product of the act designed to impregnate the woman. Once her egg is fertilized, the process is complete. Now, it is for the zygote to continue developing, but the process of procreation is complete. A new human being now exists. It is human already, as I believe you have agreed. The process of procreation is complete. I never said it was a fully developed human being, but fully a human being.

    “Secondly, when it comes to matters of the logical construction…etc.”

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the point of this paragraph. Are you suggesting that I have fun afoul of logical reasoning in my position? Once again, a male and female utilizing their reproductive organs in a manner designed for procreation will oft times succeed in producing another of their kind. Two persons produce a third when so engaged.

    “Do I need to copy and paste my previous arguments again for you to read?”

    Citing the date and time when you provided them will suffice. I’ll find and reread them. All that comes to mind in the meantime is that you have merely asked why purpose and function should matter, but I don’t recall any reason given why they don’t or shouldn’t. Maybe your arguments weren’t as sound and logical as you might have hoped.

    “If it was than every act of intercourse would result in a person.”

    This does not follow at all, particular given the fact that I never suggested that every act of intercourse must succeed in producing offspring. But when, as I said, conditions are right and the sperm is able to penetrate the ovum, a new human being does indeed exist. How successful any given engagement in intercourse is in impregnating the woman is wholly irrelevant to the discussion.

    “That does not mean that because the result is a person it logically follows that everything leading up to that result is a person. That is what is REQUIRED for your
    claim to be logically true, and it is self-defeating because the zygote itself is the result of a process.”

    But that’s the debate. Is the zygote a person, a human being? As it is the product of the procreative activity of two other persons, it, too, is a person. That’s my position as well as the criteria for so stating it. You insist on further criteria.

    “After intercourse it can take days for the egg to actually become fertilized (if it ever does). Yet you don’t claim that during this period and process there must already be a person, despite it being the result as you say of an act designed to do so.”

    Why would I? The result requires fertilization. If fertilization doesn’t occur, there is no person because there is no zygote. I never once spoke in terms of how long the process takes, but only that the result is a person. Why would you think that matters?

    “Your claim of purpose does nothing to show which of these points biologically a person results.”

    This is getting silly. I absolutely have and consistently have maintained that at fertilization a new human being, a person, exists. That point of fertilization is the point in question. It is the purpose of the procreative act realized.

    “Over and over I have presented such arguments, so please don’t say I am just making assertions without argument and support.”

    You have argued that awareness of self, a cerebral cortex, etc is the point at which one is a person. This is an assertion based on preference, but not on real substantive fact. My position, once again, flows from a very basic and simple process of two persons acting to produce a third, thus, the product of that act, the human zygote, is a person. Thus far, your arguments have been little more than analogies that don’t really make your case, or diminish mine. In other words, just what makes self-awareness or a functioning cerebral cortex the starting point of personhood. Please don’t go back to discussing those who had them and lost them. That’s really apples and oranges.

    “I have heard John and others on here claim this, but I have no idea to what you are referring.”

    it was the “clump of cells” argument that was all the rage. It soon shifted to “yeah, OK, it’s human but not a person” once the connections to humanity was confirmed by science. They altered the argument to say, “OK, it’s human, sure, but not a ‘person'”.

    “You keep saying things like this. However, from my perspective, I did not “choose” these criteria, the criteria are objective features of reality. From my meta-ethical perspective they result entirely naturally from the fact that desires are the only reasons for action that exist.”

    I don’t understand how this is a response to the comment of mine that provoked it. But you do indeed choose the criteria in the same way racists require white skin to deny person status to blacks.

    “To act as if your criteria are somehow obviously objective and mine are obviously just ad hoc and chosen merely to serve my ends is just to abandon the principle of charity that must underlie any reasonable debate.”

    I don’t have to act. I don’t see how I could be any more objective than to acknowledge the product of two persons engaged in the act of procreation being another person. It goes without saying. If it was two cats, you’d get another cat (or a litter of them). I don’t put any conditions on the product other than how it came to be and from whom. You, however, wait until conditions YOU (as in, those who support your position) decide are required. That’s subjective. Whether or not you personally would support the abortion of the life that you and your woman produced is irrelevant to the fact that you argue in a manner that enables others who would like to do so. Your position supports the end that is the preservation of some measure of legal abortion. Do you not prefer such an end? And my continued openness to arguments hoping to persuade or alter my position is all the charity the principle demands. If your arguments provoke a conclusion on my part that offends you, I can’t always help it. I will try to refrain from voicing those conclusions in the future.

    As for me, I can’t for the life of me imagine what nefarious intent my position might suggest to you. For grins, feel free to present one. I hope it’ll be better than the “controlling women” angle. ;)

    “The fact that you think all mothers uniformly agree with your position without any evidence is quite telling.”

    I don’t believe I suggested that I think all mothers agree with me. But I would wager that of all those mothers that YOU know, they would not have disagreed with me regarding the zygote inside them that became their child that it wasn’t their child all along. Before or after that nine month period, perhaps, but not so much during.

  103. @marshalart,

    “Let me restate my position for the sake of clarity. It is that it is an established fact that at the moment of conception a new human being exists. I don’t think you would find too many academic professors (particularly of biology) that would dispute this.”

    It is certainly a human zygote, that is the basic medical term. I personally have no problem with human being because it is a being and it is human. I am not terribly sure if it has a more technical term referring to post birth individuals in biology or not, but again it does not really matter what one wishes to call it as long as the concepts get communicated. For me, I use human (and human being) to refer to things generally genetically homo sapien. For instance I would call a dead person a dead human being. It is less a moral category, and more of a technical category.

    “Our discussion here revolves around when that human is a person worthy of protection as we are. As to a zygote being the finished product, I don’t know what more the father and mother can do once intercourse has resulted in ejaculation to further complete the task.”

    Well, not that it even matters, but the mother does an awful lot in gestating the fetus. This isn’t some minimal and passive process. But again, it doesn’t matter, the man’s reproductive role is finished PRIOR to the fertilization… That doesn’t mean that the sperm and egg are a person any more than the zygote. What active role the man or woman takes in the process is irrelevant.

    “The zygote is the finished product of the act designed to impregnate the woman. Once her egg is fertilized, the process is complete.”

    You care if I run this above claim past some biologists? I don’t really need to because it is clearly false, but I can if necessary since you keep making it. The man’s reproductive role might be “done,” but that says nothing about the state of the process being under taken. If you mean to say that impregnation is the final result of the intent to impregnate than that is simply tautological. The process of fetal development is FAR from done, and without the process of fetal development all that one has is a single human cell with no feelings, desires, wishes, pains, thoughts, etc. etc. etc. hardly the “intended” result. The denial of this is mind boggling.

    “Now, it is for the zygote to continue developing, but the process of procreation is complete. A new human being now exists. It is human already, as I believe you have agreed. The process of procreation is complete. I never said it was a fully developed human being, but fully a human being.”

    It is a genetically complete human zygote. The process of procreation is FAR from complete however, as any biologist could attest.

    “I’m afraid I don’t understand the point of this paragraph. Are you suggesting that I have fun afoul of logical reasoning in my position?”

    Yes, rather clearly so, and since you do not wish to accept my assessment of the logical validity and the many arguments I have made to support that claim, I thought someone who studies syllogistic logic might be more convincing.

    “Once again, a male and female utilizing their reproductive organs in a manner designed for procreation will oft times succeed in producing another of their kind. Two persons produce a third when so engaged.”

    Agreed.

    “Do I need to copy and paste my previous arguments again for you to read?”

    “You continue to ask why purpose and function matters. I can’t think of any further way to explain it. What’s more, I don’t see that you’ve taken any effort in explaining why it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter.”

    It is up to YOU to explain why it DOES matter, you have merely stated that because these body parts are designed for a purpose, when used as intended they MUST result in the intended outcome. I have shown over and over how that is not a logically valid argument.

    For instance in response to my ice cream example you said:

    “As to your ice cream scenario, I’m not keen on the means by which old fashioned ice cream is made, but I’m guessing that it includes more than ‘one roll’. Thus, you have not done what is required to make ice cream any more than one thrust being enough to result in impregnating a woman.”

    But the “rolling” is no way analogous to the “thrusting.” The ice cream maker already has all its ingredients, there is only agitation + time necessary to create the ice cream… this is FAR LESS involved than what biologically goes on in the mother during gestation.

    And before you say it is not that great an analogy, it DOESN’T MATTER. We are talking about the logical necessity of conclusions. If it has the same logical structure, it doesn’t matter how different the examples are, the point is something built and intended for the purpose at hand involved in the act it was designed for can require time or further processes of development in order to lead to its intended outcome, this is undeniable.

    “Maybe your arguments weren’t as sound and logical as you might have hoped.”

    Care to run this by someone who has an expertise in logical argumentation? I am confident enough in the validity of my arguments to do so.

    “This does not follow at all, particular given the fact that I never suggested that every act of intercourse must succeed in producing offspring.”

    I am not saying you claim every act of intercourse succeeds in producing offspring. The point is that you measure “success” of reproducing a person as being at fertilization, I do not. You claim there is some logical line of reasoning where the purpose of the organs mean you must be right… But we both agree on the potential result we only disagree on when that potentiality becomes reality. There is NOTHING in your argument that explains why the intended outcome is at THAT moment rather than another moment. Your “argument” seems to be insisting that the reproductive process is complete, something nearly any biologist would reject.

    “But when, as I said, conditions are right and the sperm is able to penetrate the ovum, a new human being does indeed exist. How successful any given engagement in intercourse is in impregnating the woman is wholly irrelevant to the discussion.”

    Agreed. It is as irrelevant as your claims that an act designed for a purpose MUST result in the immediate realization of that purpose.

    “But that’s the debate. Is the zygote a person, a human being? As it is the product of the procreative activity of two other persons, it, too, is a person. That’s my position as well as the criteria for so stating it. You insist on further criteria.”

    Yes, because that makes no sense. Do you care to run that argument by a logician? And as has been discussed MANY TIMES, human being and personhood are being used as two distinct categories.

    You above MAKE an argument that YOU claim you don’t agree with. So ANYTHING that results from the procreative activities of two other persons must be a person? Obviously not, so how is this argument valid?

    “Why would I? The result requires fertilization. If fertilization doesn’t occur, there is no person because there is no zygote. I never once spoke in terms of how long the process takes, but only that the result is a person. Why would you think that matters?”

    Because that is what the disagreement is over, when the person results. You agree that it doesn’t happen immediately post intercourse, you can engage in the process without an immediate result. YOU claim the personal being results at conception, I claim it doesn’t because no personal being exists… Which means no person exists, just a human zygote that may develop into one or more personal beings (i.e. persons). It is clearly not an individual person because you can’t even number the individuals yet. And you apparently have great difficulty distinguishing between somatic cells and personal cells, unless you want to answer when during development does a “personal cell” whom it is improper to destroy become the same as a skin cell, one of many that may be destroyed at will?

    “This is getting silly. I absolutely have and consistently have maintained that at fertilization a new human being, a person, exists. That point of fertilization is the point in question. It is the purpose of the procreative act realized.”

    When have I denied that you claim this? It is odd how often people argue against claims I never make.

    “You have argued that awareness of self,”

    I never said self-awareness.

    “a cerebral cortex, etc is the point at which one is a person. This is an assertion based on preference, but not on real substantive fact.”

    Actually it is… Unless you want to be the first to volunteer for a brain transplant?

    “Thus far, your arguments have been little more than analogies that don’t really make your case, or diminish mine. In other words, just what makes self-awareness or a functioning cerebral cortex the starting point of personhood.”

    The FACT that it is the suppository of our essential individual personality that distinguishes one person from another and is that which we attempt to protect above all else. How about that?

    “Please don’t go back to discussing those who had them and lost them. That’s really apples and oranges.”

    No it is not. You simply don’t like the implications. When human cells do not have a brain, that don’t have an individual personality and thus personhood. This issue comes up in usually two contexts, at the beginning and at the end of life. The point of hypotheticals is to point out that you too accept this, no matter how much “younger,” “faster,” and “healthier” a replacement brain might be, you are never going to offer yourself up for such a surgery because it would result in the destruction of you as a person, even though it could result in a perfectly healthy and genetically identical being on the other side, that being would not be YOU!

    “it was the ‘clump of cells’ argument that was all the rage. It soon shifted to ‘yeah, OK, it’s human but not a person’ once the connections to humanity was confirmed by science. They altered the argument to say, ‘OK, it’s human, sure, but not a ‘person’”.

    Where was this argument “all the rage?” Show me specific examples. I would be very surprised if you actually had examples of people claiming that the embryo was not genetically human.

    “I don’t understand how this is a response to the comment of mine that provoked it. But you do indeed choose the criteria in the same way racists require white skin to deny person status to blacks.”

    The difference of course being that in the case of racism, persons with brains, thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. are harmed.

    “I don’t have to act. I don’t see how I could be any more objective than to acknowledge the product of two persons engaged in the act of procreation being another person.”

    We BOTH agree that if the procreative process is successfully completed a person results. So this argument is irrelevant as it applies to both of our claims.

    “It goes without saying. If it was two cats, you’d get another cat (or a litter of them). I don’t put any conditions on the product other than how it came to be and from whom.”

    That is not true, you require the process of fertilization to take place.

    “You, however, wait until conditions YOU (as in, those who support your position) decide are required. That’s subjective.”

    Then you are going to volunteer for that brain transplant? I mean my criteria are subjective so you should have no problem with switching brains as the brain is only the seat of personal identity for subjective people like me, right?

    “Your position supports the end that is the preservation of some measure of legal abortion. Do you not prefer such an end?”

    Yes, of course I do.

    “And my continued openness to arguments hoping to persuade or alter my position is all the charity the principle demands.”

    From Wikipedia: “The principle of charity is a methodological presumption made in seeking to understand a point of view whereby we seek to understand that view in its strongest, most persuasive form before subjecting the view to evaluation.
    In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity requires interpreting a speaker’s statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation.[1] In its narrowest sense, the goal of this methodological principle is to avoid attributing irrationality, logical fallacies or falsehoods to the others’ statements, when a coherent, rational interpretation of the statements is available. According to Simon Blackburn[2] “it constrains the interpreter to maximize the truth or rationality in the subject’s sayings.”

    Part of this is avoiding fallacious arguments based around assumptions regarding the character, intent, and desires of the person with whom you are debating, such as claiming the only reason I am making this argument is because I want to be able to murder babies and fetuses.

    “If your arguments provoke a conclusion on my part that offends you, I can’t always help it. I will try to refrain from voicing those conclusions in the future.”

    I am not asking you to refrain from drawing conclusions, simply from making haphazard and baseless guesses as to the motivations behind my arguments and my personal character.

    “As for me, I can’t for the life of me imagine what nefarious intent my position might suggest to you. For grins, feel free to present one.”

    I prefer to assume you are honestly arguing with good intentions.

    “I don’t believe I suggested that I think all mothers agree with me. But I would wager that of all those mothers that YOU know, they would not have disagreed with me regarding the zygote inside them that became their child that it wasn’t their child all along.”

    Having discussed the issue, like I already said, I know plenty of mothers who recognize that the zygote was not a person, though they obviously know the zygote developed into their child. For many what I am describing is not terribly difficult to grasp despite not having any direct personal interest in justifying abortion.

    You said:

    “The mother will regard it a her child, a person developing within her. And she will do so with full acknowledgement that the child is only one cell or thirty-two. That is, like me, she will view that one cell as a person, that is, unless she needs an excuse to relieve herself of the trouble and responsibility of bringing it to term. Then, like you, she will prefer the ‘collection of cells’ position. Subjective.”

    Implying that women and mothers only refuse to acknowledge the personhood of the fetus when they wish to terminate it… You said “mothers,” perhaps you meant to say “some mothers.”

  104. Andrew,

    “For instance I would call a dead person a dead human being.”

    A person IS a human being and vice versa, dead or otherwise, fully developed outside the womb or at the initial stage of development within it. A person is the product of two other people who engaged in the act designed to bring into existence a third person. It has a personality immediately regardless of its ability to express or manifest it. You don’t deny a person his humanity because he is unconscious and unable to express his personality or temporarily unaware of his own existence. It is the same for the zygote. What is more, can one really say with certainty that any living creature is unaware of its own existence? I don’t know of any living thing that does not seek to survive, does not avoid its own demise or recoils from danger. There must be some awareness there, some personality no matter how simple. But you demand it rise to a level that suits your preferences.

    “Well, not that it even matters, but the mother does an awful lot in gestating the fetus.”

    Not really. Without being compelled by the fertilized egg to no longer regard it as a foreign thing, the mother’s immune system would attack the developing zygote or cause it to be eliminated from her system. The mother does her part by allowing the process of development to proceed from that point forward. Gestation takes place without the mother’s conscious decision or input into the process. And conscious input was what I meant by the parents doing their part in procreating. They consciously engaged in the act designed for the purpose. Should fertilization occur, they have succeeded and play no further role. To use your ice cream analogy, it would be as if the ice cream is finished, but the maker continuing the process, or a baker continuing to bake the bread after it has become edible. The baker or ice cream maker has no further activity required them once the product is completed. The parents have no further activity toward procreation once the egg is fertilized. Procreation is complete. The development of that product is a completely separate process. A woman is now pregnant. A woman is not pregnant if offspring is not present. The zygote is her offspring at its earliest stage of development. It is the term used to describe her offspring at that initial stage.

    “That doesn’t mean that the sperm and egg are a person any more than the zygote.”

    Here’s another example of intellectual dishonesty in another reference to the sperm and egg and trying to equate it to what exists once they have fused together in fertilization. The difference is incredibly distinct and the zygote by itself is a person where the sperm and egg by themselves can never be.

    “You care if I run this above claim past some biologists?”

    Yes. Any found here will be a good start. Note that some of the people found in this link are abortion supporters. Like yourself, however, they strain to find justifications for taking that human life when convenient.

    “If you mean to say that impregnation is the final result of the intent to impregnate than that is simply tautological. The process of fetal development is FAR from done, and without the process of fetal development all that one has is a single human cell with no feelings, desires, wishes, pains, thoughts, etc. etc. etc. hardly the “intended” result.”

    I mean to say it because it is a relevant and established fact. Once the egg is fertilized, the woman is pregnant, which is to carry offspring. The process of procreating is complete. The process of fetal development begins. The intended result of having a baby is not an expectation that it will be able to avoid the developmental process, though it is desired by most women by the last trimester. But the procreative process was completed long before that. It can also be stated that the intended result is to become pregnant. Indeed, that is what many women are hoping to do. They intend to have children, but first, they intend to become pregnant. This all goes without saying.

    “It is a genetically complete human zygote. The process of procreation is FAR from complete however, as any biologist could attest.”

    A genetically complete embryo.
    A genetically complete fetus.
    A genetically complete infant.
    A genetically complete toddler.
    A genetically complete teenager.
    a genetically complete adult.
    A genetically complete stage of human development.
    A genetically complete person.
    A genetically complete human zygote is the completion of the procreative process. I have no doubt any biologist would agree. Feel free to find one and have him log on to this discussion.

    “… I thought someone who studies syllogistic logic might be more convincing.”

    Without doing so, I’m confident my logic holds. A study of such logic would not be enough to prove that you are engaging in logical reasoning merely because you think you are. You simply have not demonstrated the flaw in my reasoning. It is very simple and I’ll restate it as often as necessary: A person is the product of two other people successful in engaging in the act of procreation. The zygote is the evidence of that success as well as of pregnancy. Where is the flaw? To simply assert that the zygote is not a person due to its inability to express its personality is, again, quite subjective. To state that it is the natural result of the act of procreation and therefor a person is a quite logical conclusion. In order to refute this, you must even more “illogical” by saying that the procreative act is not “designed” for the purpose of procreation, or that the reproductive organs are just somehow coincidentally of use in the act of procreating as opposed to being meant and made for the purpose. And then you must willfully choose to assert criteria the zygote cannot yet accommodate. Where my conclusion flows from the natural chain of events, yours requires adding demands to it. You want to say that all persons have a cerebral cortex. But that is subjectively demanding that it be so while ignoring the stage through which each person must go where that, and other organs, are not yet developed. Mine merely requires the acknowledgement of basic truths regarding the process of human procreation for the conclusion that the product of that process is both human and a person (as the term is being used in this discussion).

    “There is NOTHING in your argument that explains why the intended outcome is at THAT moment rather than another moment. Your “argument” seems to be insisting that the reproductive process is complete, something nearly any biologist would reject.”

    Of course there is something in my argument. Two persons unite to create a third, thus the third is a person when the process is completed. The process is completed with the joining of the two gametes the parents brought together by engaging in the process known as procreation. It cannot be anything but a person as the act is meant for bringing about another person. I also believe my link shows that your last sentence above is debatable, if not proven wrong.

    I’m going to continue in a new comment box just for grins.

  105. “Agreed. It is as irrelevant as your claims that an act designed for a purpose MUST result in the immediate realization of that purpose.”

    But I didn’t make this claim. Or rather, this isn’t an accurate representation of my claim. There are only two possibilities that result from a man and woman engaging in the procreative act: 1) nothing, 2) a fertilized ovum. The second represents the product of the act of procreation. My position is that every product of procreation is a person, and it is a person because that is the purpose of the act, biologically speaking.

    “It is up to YOU to explain why it DOES matter, you have merely stated that because these body parts are designed for a purpose, when used as intended they MUST result in the intended outcome. I have shown over and over how that is not a logically valid argument.”

    No you haven’t. My argument, as I have said repeatedly, is based on the purpose of design of both the organs used and the manner in which they are used. Regardless of the intentions of the owners of those organs, the manner in which they are used is distinctly that of two intending to procreate. Regardless of whether conditions are at optimum for the task, the manner in which those organs are used is distinctly that of two intending to procreate. Thus, when conditions ARE at optimum, and no interference occurs, the outcome is a third person in the form of a zygote, whose presence indicates pregnancy, which is the state of carrying offspring. Where’s the flaw here? There is none until you assert later developed characteristics must be present. That zygote must be a person due to the fact that it is the result of two people engaging in the act of procreation, which is the means nature provides to allow the creation of a new person. That is hasn’t yet developed the characteristics you require for determining personhood is irrelevant. Procreation can only bring about another of the species of the two engaging in the act. Therefor, whatever is the result, in this case the zygote, that result is a person. This explanation could not be more straightforward and logical. Run it by whomever you choose.

    “So ANYTHING that results from the procreative activities of two other persons must be a person?”

    You ask this as if there can possibly be anything other than a human being resulting from the procreative process. As I stated, there are only two possibilities: 1) nothing happens, and 2) a person is brought into existence. If “anything” is going to result (and “nothing” is not a result—it is merely nothing), that “anything” can only be another person. Putting forth the question as you do suggests there are other possibilities besides the two I’ve stated.

    “Because that is what the disagreement is over, when the person results.”

    But you’re conflating the process of procreation with the process of fetal development. These are two distinctly different processes. The former must complete before the latter can begin. The former completes the process of creating a new person. The latter is the beginning of that new person’s development toward maturity, a process that continues after birth.

    “You agree that it doesn’t happen immediately post intercourse, you can engage in the process without an immediate result.”

    So what? The act is complete when the components are delivered and the process is complete when and if those components find each other to join together. Once it does, procreation is completed. You are now splitting hairs again. If it took two months for the sperm to find the ovum and penetrate, it is just a matter of the process still in progress.

    “YOU claim the personal being results at conception, I claim it doesn’t because no personal being exists…”

    More subjectivity. It is the zygote’s nature to be a person (or persons). Whether or not it splits into two is also irrelevant as until it does it is one person. We don’t need to know if it will split to consider it a person before it does. The splitting is an anomaly, just as two ovums being present for fertilization and being fertilized is.

    “And you apparently have great difficulty distinguishing between somatic cells and personal cells, unless you want to answer when during development does a “personal cell” whom it is improper to destroy become the same as a skin cell, one of many that may be destroyed at will?”

    I have no such difficulty as I don’t need to make the judgement considering I respect the life developing to allow its development to determine when it is clear which is which. It seems the difficulty is yours since you wish to relegate a person to non-person status for reasons undefined. You’ve made it clear I am not authorized to speculate as to that.

    ““a cerebral cortex, etc is the point at which one is a person. This is an assertion based on preference, but not on real substantive fact.”

    Actually it is… Unless you want to be the first to volunteer for a brain transplant?”

    Actually it isn’t. If indeed a brain could be transplanted, and I can easily envision circumstances under which I would wish mine might be, it is irrelevant to the issue. The reason is that it is absolutely apples and oranges to regard the transfer of an already developed brain (and its location) as an indication of personhood versus the yet to be developed brain of a zygote. But let’s look at it. Would I be displacing another person or filling in? Would I be required to honor the life of the person into whose body my brain is transplanted? What attachments would I have to the families of both mine and the person whose body I will soon possess? These are ethical questions to be sure. (And I’m sure they won’t be addressed until after the process of brain transplantation is perfected and demanded, much the way the issue of when life begins was ignored before Roe v Wade)

    But the irrelevance is in the extraordinary nature of the situation. The ordinary nature of the person at the zygote stage is that its brain has yet to develop. It’s simply the way it works and you wish to use that fact of nature against it to deny it its person status. We can’t change that nature but must treat it as it is: a person at a stage of development lacking those characteristics you demand before granting it full respect.

    “The FACT that it is the suppository of our essential individual personality that distinguishes one person from another and is that which we attempt to protect above all else. How about that?”

    Some of us prefer to protect the individual as a whole, not just a portion, such as its personality. What personality does that repository have without the body to go with it? Would you be able to interact with a brain without the body in which it resides? Would that personality be truly self-aware with the skull to express that personality? How can we know it functions as ours currently do rather than merely remain alive if it has no vessel in which to allow it to manifest its personality? Your detached brain angle requires all sorts of speculation for which their is little solid evidence. But worse, it ignores that that brain was first allowed to develop before such speculation could even occur.

    “Where was this argument “all the rage?” Show me specific examples. I would be very surprised if you actually had examples of people claiming that the embryo was not genetically human.”

    Human cells, yeah, but not human in the same sense you are basically making for the zygote. It simply extended further than the zygote stage toward most of the first trimester. But no, I’m not going to bother with supporting this as the current state of the debate no longer speaks in these terms as often.

    “The difference of course being that in the case of racism, persons with brains, thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. are harmed.”

    Doesn’t matter. The subjective nature of the argument remains. You simply believe your subjective criteria for person hood is more justified or intellectually sound. It isn’t. It’s just a different characteristic upon which you hang your hat.

    More coming….

  106. “We BOTH agree that if the procreative process is successfully completed a person results. So this argument is irrelevant as it applies to both of our claims.”

    Splitting of hairs once again. There is a huge distinction between when each of us finds person status applies, and also what constitutes the process having been completed. The zygote IS the completed product of the procreative process and thus is a person. From that point the process of that product developing commences. Somewhere down the line you allow it the status I acknowledge it already has.

    “That is not true, you require the process of fertilization to take place.”

    I don’t require it. There simply is no third person until fertilization occurs. That’s a biological fact. (See the link I provided above.) There can’t be as it is only upon fertilization that a distinct entity with its own unique DNA exists.

    “Then you are going to volunteer for that brain transplant? I mean my criteria are subjective so you should have no problem with switching brains as the brain is only the
    seat of personal identity for subjective people like me, right? “

    Nice try, but this argument is nonsense for reasons given above. Here’s more: If my brain is dead, my body can’t live on without outside force keeping it alive. Therefor, the entirety of my being is dead when my brain is damaged enough to require another to replace it. Thus, it is not me being kept alive by the transplant, but the person from whom the brain was taken to transplant into my skull. To volunteer for a transplant is to welcome suicide unless it my brain being transplanted to another body kept alive for the purpose. It also assumes that my memories and consciousness cannot be transplanted into the new brain, replacing those (or possibly mixing with those) of the donor. Since we’re playing science fiction, let’s go all the way. I’d rather deal with reality, even for, ESPECIALLY for, purposes of ethics and morality.

    “From Wikipedia: “The principle of charity…etc.”

    At some point, the argument being made fails to sustain the feeling of rational thought behind the argument. The arguer has some responsibility to present strongly rational or logical arguments if that charity is to be expected to be extended. Eventually, failing to instill or sustain the feeling through the use of non-compelling arguments provokes in the listener a wondering of what the arguer hopes to accomplish by forcing the less than compelling arguments as worthy of respect. I’ve continued to find flaws in your arguments that you have thus far failed to satisfactorily patch. Are you hoping I’ll just roll over? I would need better from you for that.

    “I am not asking you to refrain from drawing conclusions, simply from making haphazard and baseless guesses as to the motivations behind my arguments and my personal character.”

    Yet those are conclusions based on your arguments. They are not haphazard if your arguments provoke the conclusions. I’ve spent quite a bit of time here, so I don’t think you can say that I haven’t been charitable in providing you every opportunity to make your case. Your arguments haven’t been that good. Indeed, your arguments themselves provoke the counters I’ve put forth. I didn’t have to exert much effort. They are almost softball in quality. Again, I don’t mean to offend, but it is what it is.

    “I prefer to assume you are honestly arguing with good intentions.”

    Rest assured that assume as much of you. But the consequences enable all those others who would argue as you do for the sake of abdicating their responsibility for having engaged in the procreative act for pleasure alone without insuring 100% that no conception could possibly take place. In this, I regarded your position as one of devil’s advocate, which allows you to make whatever pro-abortion argument you want while not favoring the practice at all. How’s that? Yet the question cannot help but ask itself in light of your arguments, why make them without a motive that results in that abdication, if not for you, then for others?

    As for me, I would hope my intentions are clear: to honor and protect the lives of actual people who cannot defend themselves against those who have no honorable reason for putting them to death. None of your arguments rises to the level of legitimate justification.

    “Implying that women and mothers only refuse to acknowledge the personhood of the fetus when they wish to terminate it… You said “mothers,” perhaps you meant to say “some mothers.””

    No. I meant “mothers”. I had hoped to do more than merely imply here because I doubt that any mother who wants to give birth will feel nothing when a miscarriage occurs, regardless of how soon in the process. They will feel like their child has died. I haven’t taken a poll, and I doubt you have either. Thus, I would wager those women of whom you speak are unique in their position on the subject, or possibly not being totally honest or realistic.

  107. I’d like to revisit the butterfly analogy. A caterpillar isn’t a butterfly just as a zygote is not what it will “become”. This is true. But, there could be a time during any given year when all the butterflies of a particular species die, and only fertilized eggs and caterpillars remain. May we say that the species is extinct?

    Of course not. Because the things that will become butterflies still exist. The eggs and caterpillars represent the entire population of that species. They are the things that we should protect, as they are, if we value what they will become.

    Wouldn’t pro-butterfly activists be apalled if I was to wipe out half of the existing monarch butterfly eggs? Why couldn’t I argue that what I had destroyed were not butterflies? Why couldn’t I say that since it’s the time of year when NO butterflies exist, it’s not really a loss of butterflies at all anyway?

    Would they not say that what the fertilized eggs will “become” matters?

    The truth is that it doesn’t matter that the eggs and caterpillars ARE NOT butterflies. What they ARE matters.

    Had we found ten dodo bird eggs, shouldn’t we have done everything we could to protect them? Though they would not have been fully developed dodo birds, they would certainly have represented the entire world population of the species.

    A human fetus is no different. We should protect them for being what they are. What they are not doesn’t matter.

  108. I think that’s pretty well said.

  109. @marshalart,

    Sorry, I have been traveling a lot the last few days. Here is a partial response however.

    “A person IS a human being and vice versa, dead or otherwise, fully developed outside the womb or at the initial stage of development within it.”

    “Person” as I am using it (which is standard philosophical usage) is distinct from “human being.” Someone who is dead for instance is a human being but not a person. Now the argument can be made that all living human beings are persons (which I am disputing), but this does not mean that the terms have identical meaning. This isn’t new either and is often intertwined historically with the topic of “ensoulment” going back many thousands of years.

    “A person is the product of two other people who engaged in the act designed to bring into existence a third person. It has a personality immediately regardless of its ability to express or manifest it.”

    How exactly does a single celled zygote have a personality?

    “You don’t deny a person his humanity because he is unconscious and unable to express his personality or temporarily unaware of his own existence. It is the same for the zygote.”

    It actually is completely different than the zygote. The zygote isn’t UNconscious, it is NON-conscious, there are no mental states at all. It can’t express its consciousness because there is nothing to express.

    “What is more, can one really say with certainty that any living creature is unaware of its own existence? I don’t know of any living thing that does not seek to survive, does not avoid its own demise or recoils from danger.”

    What do you mean by “aware?” There are creatures who have no reflexive recoil when harmed and many who have a reflexive ability to recoil based upon an automatic nervous response. There is certainly a continuum of consciousness as well. For instance one could say ants have a limited state of consciousness if we utilize an incredibly loose set of criteria, such as centralized nervous response.

    For complex beings such as humans, chimpanzees, dogs, etc. we have a more restricted sense of “true” consciousness one could say. This form of consciousness requires a very complex centralized bundle of nervous tissue, the brain, to be active. We know this scientifically.

    “There must be some awareness there, some personality no matter how simple. But you demand it rise to a level that suits your preferences.”

    Actually there does not NEED to be some personality, in fact there CANNOT be (unless you were to adhere to some sort of panpsychism where ALL matter is conscious to some extent). How do you propose such a “personality” would exist in a single celled zygote?

    “‘Well, not that it even matters, but the mother does an awful lot in gestating the fetus.’

    Not really. Without being compelled by the fertilized egg to no longer regard it as a foreign thing, the mother’s immune system would attack the developing zygote or cause it to be eliminated from her system. The mother does her part by allowing the process of development to proceed from that point forward. Gestation takes place without the mother’s conscious decision or input into the process.”

    You are correct that technically no conscious action is required, although it would be greatly recommended for someone wishing to birth a healthy child. However the mother’s body is involved in a very complex process in gestating the fetus, far more complex than the process involved in conceiving, though not conscious.

  110. Andrew,

    ““Person” as I am using it (which is standard philosophical usage) is distinct from “human being.” “

    Well, stop it. You’re making the discussion more difficult. Worse than that, we’re discussing human life and I find speaking of human life philosophically cheapens it. There are some who dare speak in such a manner regarding those who have been fortunate enough to have actually been born. And they do so regarding whether or not it is moral to take their lives as well. The most insulting aspect is the fact that those who dare speak philosophically regarding who’s lives are worthy of protecting happen to be legal adults who have little to fear as far as whether too many will speak thus of themselves.

    “How exactly does a single celled zygote have a personality?”

    The exact same way you do, with the notable distinction of not being developed enough to allow for the expression and/or manifestation of that personality. You apparently believe that one has no personality if one is unable to express it. That’s just another convenient and subjectively chosen trait you use to deny the worth of the life in question.

    “It can’t express its consciousness because there is nothing to express.”

    “How do you propose such a “personality” would exist in a single celled zygote?”

    Frankly, the same way every other trait of the individual in already present but as yet undeveloped. This article gives an overview of personality from a psychological perspective. You’ll note that genetics is not neglected as a potential explanation for the source of one’s personality. Truly, there’s really no way to insist that it plays no part, and I would submit it is the initial driving force of the development of personality. So that unique DNA within that zygote that establishes it as a person separate from its mother possesses the foundational aspects of one’s personality, which is from this point onward affected by environmental influences.

    • ““Person” as I am using it (which is standard philosophical usage) is distinct from “human being.” “

      Abortion is the only venue where anyone ever thinks this distinction is at all important. The only time anyone ever tries to separate human being and person into two distinct entities is when one is trying to justify killing it before it passes the birth canal.

      In what other context, Austintx, do you care about the distinction between human beings and persons? Not hypothetically, I’m asking you personally.

  111. @John Barron,

    Even if this were true, this is not a valid argument. The fact that a particular concept might have a limited application has no bearing on its truth value.

    “In what other context, Austintx, do you care about the distinction between human beings and persons? Not hypothetically, I’m asking you personally.”

    First of all, what do you mean me “personally?” I have never knowingly performed, instigated, or otherwise decided to cause an abortion. Does this mean it is not “personal” enough? I have been in relationships using forms of birth control that can hypothetically result in the termination of a zygote… Does that make it personal enough? Or are you just referring to not making it too hypothetical as some of my examples have been?

    For me the issue of personhood is central to issues of abortion, end of life care, death, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and the foundation of human rights in general. If I give it some thought I could maybe come up with some more. Does that answer your question?

  112. @Marshalart,

    I apologize, I am still working my way through responding to your last few comments. I will try to post some more of a response soon.

  113. This all goes back to the reason a zygote should be protected. It isn’t potentially anything. It is actually something that exists. What that is is a living human being that will develop the arms and legs and brain that ONLY IT CAN! It is completely its own entity from the moment it has what it needs to do so (a complete set of DNA), AKA fertilization.

    If I, a person, can look backwards and see that I, a person, was once a fetus without brain function, then we should be able to say that that fetus was my former self. It was me, just as the five year old me was me. Same being. Different time. And the thing that holds it all together is the physical body in which my consciousness currently resides.

    I think it’s strange that Austintx insists on trying to separate the two (consciousness and body). You can have a body without consciousness, but, you can’t have consciousness without a body. In fact, you can’t have consciousness UNTIL a body exists!

    Austintx says it’s the personality that, only once it exists, we protect. Do we? How do we? I know we protect life. We protect living bodies from physical harm. In fact, it’s all we can do! It’s all that is.

    A personality is completely physically unable to be detected. Austintx may as well call it “a soul” and give up being restrained by science and logic alltogether!

  114. @Marshalart,

    “Should fertilization occur, they have succeeded and play no further role.”

    What? What woman thinks after conceiving, well my job here is done? This is just silliness. Try asking a woman who has recently conceived if she has finished the process of reproduction and plays no further role… Maybe you could video tape it as I am sure this would be quite amusing.

    “To use your ice cream analogy, it would be as if the ice cream is finished, but the maker continuing the process, or a baker continuing to bake the bread after it has become edible. The baker or ice cream maker has no further activity required them once the product is completed.”

    This would not be at all analogous because a zygote has none of the features that make an infant distinctly worthy of human rights. If anything the zygote is at a much more rudimentary stage than the ice-cream due to the massive change and development it must undergo. This is not my subjective opinion but scientific fact.

    “Human embryos **BEGIN** development following the fusion”

    “Human development **BEGINS** at fertilization…”

    “Development **BEGINS** with fertilization…”

    [Emphasis mine]

    These are quotes from the very webpage YOU provided.

    “The parents have no further activity toward procreation once the egg is fertilized. Procreation is complete. The development of that product is a completely separate process.”

    You are just making stuff up when you say this. The entire period of embryonic and fetal development is a completely different process unrelated to the personhood of the child? Do you honestly think a parent would be equally happy to be handed a zygote as they would be to be handed an infant? That they would find no appreciable difference?

    Of course not… They wouldn’t even be able to see the microscopic zygote, let alone recognize it as a child.

    “A woman is now pregnant. A woman is not pregnant if offspring is not present. The zygote is her offspring at its earliest stage of development. It is the term used to describe her offspring at that initial stage.”

    It depends how you define “offspring,” many dictionaries define it as children. I prefer to use more precise and accepted medical and biological terminology to avoid confusion.

    … To be continued :)

  115. @Marshalart,

    “Here’s another example of intellectual dishonesty in another reference to the sperm and egg and trying to equate it to what exists once they have fused together in fertilization. The difference is incredibly distinct and the zygote by itself is a person where the sperm and egg by themselves can never be.”

    I claim neither can ever be a person. I agree they are distinct, however a zygote is incredibly distinct from an infant as well, a fact you seem to be uninterested in. Many of your arguments seem to be based on presupposing that you are correct. Just stating that sperm and ova are “different” than the zygote is not an argument. You say that it is ridiculous to claim personhood for the sperm and ova because they are not a single genetically fused being. I claim it is inappropriate to claim personhood for a zygote because it is not a cognitively distinct human being.

    “Yes. Any found here will be a good start. Note that some of the people found in this link are abortion supporters. Like yourself, however, they strain to find justifications for taking that human life when convenient.”

    It amazes me sometimes how well people are able to read into things information that is not present. For one thing, NO WHERE do any of these people present what their defenses and justifications of abortion are… So how can this webpage show them straining to make such a defense?

    In addition, many (most?) of the quotations presented I would largely agree with. I would quibble with some here and there, some of these might be substantive differences, others semantic, it is hard to tell.

    The reason being that this page is focused on when does LIFE begin… Have I ever disputed that the zygote was alive?

    …to be continued

  116. Just checking it before running off to work. Good to see more stuff to address, but I want to handle one right now

    “For me the issue of personhood is central to issues of abortion, end of life care, death, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and the foundation of human rights in
    general.”

    These are all no more than variations on a theme and thus, with the possible exception of “end of life care” do not answer the question at all.

  117. @Marshalart,

    1) John asked/stated “The only time anyone ever tries to separate human being and person into two distinct entities is when one is trying to justify killing it before it passes the birth canal.
    In what other context, Austintx, do you care about the distinction between human beings and persons?”

    End of life care does not involve justifying the killing of something before it passes the birth canal. Pronouncements of death do not (in most cases) involve justifying the killing of something before it passes the birth canal. The aspect of in-vitro fertilization to which I am referring does not involve justifying the killing of something before it passes the birth canal (I was not referring to potential selective abortions that take place AFTER in-vitro). Stem-cell research does not involve justifying the killing of something before it passes the birth canal. The foundation of human rights in general does not involve justifying the killing of something before it passes the birth canal.

    (One I thought of while writing these is the issue of cloning of human genetic material)

    So as a matter of fact they all do address the question posed… Unless you want to change the meaning of the words used in his question.

    2) “These are all no more than variations on a theme…”

    Of course they are going to be variations on the theme we are discussing… John did not ask for examples completely unrelated to the topic we are discussing, and why should he?

  118. @Marshalart,

    “I mean to say it because it is a relevant and established fact. Once the egg is fertilized, the woman is pregnant, which is to carry offspring. The process of procreating is complete. The process of fetal development begins.”

    One issue is that these terms are somewhat poorly defined. Most sources and dictionaries I looked at are ambiguous or lean one way or another as to when precisely something is an offspring and to what state procreation precisely refers. Ultimately it matters little as you could certainly define these terms so that your statement is correct, but mere question begging.

    I am trying to track down some biologists and other relevant specialists to see whether they would use the terminology in such a way as to say fertilization is the COMPLETION of the procreative process.

    “The intended result of having a baby is not an expectation that it will be able to avoid the developmental process, though it is desired by most women by the last trimester. But the procreative process was completed long before that. It can also be stated that the intended result is to become pregnant.”

    Again, this is just not true. Certainly one needs to get pregnant before they can have a child. In general a woman must have intercourse to have a child as well, so the fact that certain things need to take place prior to birthing a child is both agreed on by me, and irrelevant.

    A woman who wants a child is not content with mere pregnancy. Many woman become pregnant and miscarry without even realizing it. Most women do not even announce their pregnancy until the chance of miscarriage has somewhat diminished because of its frequency early in pregnancy.

    Again this does not change the moral ontology, but what a mother really wants is to create a “person.” i.e. a being with personal characteristics. Why not try asking a mother if they would be equally satisfied giving birth to a brainless child that can be kept alive indefinitely via life-support? Or how about if they would be happy giving birth to a zygote?

    “Indeed, that is what many women are hoping to do. They intend to have children, but first, they intend to become pregnant. This all goes without saying.”

    Exactly, I am not sure why you find it a compelling argument. To have a child naturally one must have viable gametes and reproductive organs. One must engage in sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse must result in the fertilization of the ovum. The fertilized egg must develop as an embryo. The embryo must develop into a fetus. The fetus must develop until viable outside the mother’s body. The fetus must successfully exit the mother’s body.

    “A genetically complete embryo.
    A genetically complete fetus…
    [etc…]”

    So what? We don’t gauge personhood based on genetic completeness. For one thing that would deny personhood to people with certain chromosomal genetic disorders, such as Turner Syndrome. For another virtually EVERY CELL in the human body is GENETICALLY COMPLETE, and yet NONE are a person.

    So once again, what makes a person is not genetic completeness, genetic humanness, etc. (unless you want to deny children with Turner Syndrome but accept individual human cells).

    “A genetically complete human zygote is the completion of the procreative process. I have no doubt any biologist would agree.”

    I am working on it, although I doubt they will spend the time to come here and get into a debate over abortion… Not everyone finds it as interesting as you and I do :)

    “I’m confident my logic holds […] You simply have not demonstrated the flaw in my reasoning.”

    Just a brief explanation regarding the nature of logical argumentation. One of the central principles of logic is that a logical statement should remain logical regardless of the specific instances used.

    So if someone has a logical statement and I come along and maintain the same logical structure, the result must also be a logically valid statement.

    I have demonstrated multiple times that I can maintain the same “logical” structure you provide in your argument and yet present completely illogical deductions.

    Therefore the structure of your argument is not logically valid (just to be clear none of this deals with the “soundness” of these arguments, only their logical validity).

    What more can I be expected to provide to demonstrate that your argument is invalid?

    (Your recent formulation of your “argument” below differs and does not even qualify as an argument but merely an assertion)

    …to be continued.

    • Austintx,

      You keep going back to “you’re wrong because you haven’t proven my point”. You act as if your criterion of personality is the correct one, and want us to prove it.

      We don’t require a thing that cannot have a personality to have a personality in the sense that you mean. I keep saying that what it will have in the near future by virtue of what it is matters. And what it is is the thing that is recognized as the first stage of human life. A sperm is not. An egg is not.

      We’re dealing with the zygote as it exists. You’re acting like it’s reasonable to go further back in time. Have we not made clear the distinction between sperm cell, egg, and zygote? Is the distinction not clear in your own mind? Is it not true that an egg left inside a woman can’t and won’t grow to have a personality, but a zygote can, and in most cases will? Is that not an important distinction?

      You have to stop with the sperm/egg argument. Forgive me, but it’s stupid. We’re not talking about the nature of a sperm cell on its own. We are talking about the nature of the zygote and fetus. The only thing the sperm cell and zygote have in common is that they don’t meet your personality criterion. That similarity is trumped by the difference of ability to gain a personality. The nature of a zygote is that of a thing that can become an older human being. That’s the similarity it has with a fetus, five year old, and you. That’s the similarity that matters.

  119. @Marshalart,

    “To simply assert that the zygote is not a person due to its inability to express its personality is, again, quite subjective.”

    Again, it is not a matter of not being able to “express” a personality, it is a matter of the zygote having NO personality… This is not subjective, it is objectively true.

    “In order to refute this, you must even more ‘illogical’ by saying that the procreative act is not ‘designed’ for the purpose of procreation, or that the reproductive organs are just somehow coincidentally of use in the act of procreating as opposed to being meant and made for the purpose.”

    A quick search of the definition of design results in the following:

    /////////////////
    1 : to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive
    2 a : to conceive and plan out in the mind b : to have as a purpose : intend c : to devise for a specific function or end

    1. to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.
    2. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.
    /////////////////

    Without assuming theism, how does any of this apply to biological structures and functions? The WHOLE POINT of evolution is that biological structures are not DESIGNED for a PURPOSE.

    Something can develop a function without being consciously “designed” for a “purpose.”

    Despite the fact that this point is widely accepted, I have agreed to accept this claim for the sake of argument.

    “You want to say that all persons have a cerebral cortex. But that is subjectively demanding that it be so while ignoring the stage through which each person must go where that, and other organs, are not yet developed. ”

    I am not ignoring the development of the embryo, I just don’t place the same significance on it as you do. And this is not subjective.

    If I vaporize a person’s hand and replace it with a brand new one, I have not destroyed the person.

    If I vaporize a person’s leg and replace it with a new one, I have not destroyed the person.

    If I vaporize a person’s liver and replace it with a new one, I have not destroyed the person.

    If I vaporize a person’s heart and replace it with a new one, I have not destroyed the person.

    If I vaporize a person’s ear and replace it with a new one, I have not destroyed the person.

    The ONE exception, if I vaporize a person’s brain and replace it with a new one, I have destroyed that PERSON.

    This is not subjective, but objectively true. Why is that? I have not destroyed their body, their genetic makeup is still intact, they are able to metabolize and do all the same stuff as before… How can this be that the person is destroyed? The answer is easy, one’s personhood is not a matter of their genetics, their ability to metabolize, undergo cell division, etc. their personhood is based in their set of personal traits, and the brain is the organ which functions to establish those traits.

    You seem intent on ignoring this fact. Unless you have another explanation for this aspect of personhood.

  120. Andrew,

    First, if your answer to John’s question were variations on the same theme, then your answer does not satisfy the question at all, as it asks for “what other context other than” the current discussion. Same theme means same context as far as the question goes. Indeed, as you tried to explain your answer, you actually demonstrate my point more solidly as you are often referring to the same stages of development (again, with the exception of end of life issues, where, frankly, I don’t see any connection as regards the distinction you wish to hold between “human being” and “person”.). Justification for killing in some of your examples is the same argument: that which is killed is not yet human, not yet a person, so no justification is required.

    “John did not ask for examples completely unrelated to the topic we are discussing, and why should he?”

    The part of his question “what other context other than” suggests just that. I’ll let him clarify if he so chooses to do so.

    Moving on, good luck with finding biologists that do not agree with me on the distinction between the two processes, one of which is procreation and the other fetal development, rather than the two being actually the same process. Frankly, the only way yours works is to withhold calling the process of procreation complete until adulthood is achieved.

    “Certainly one needs to get pregnant before they can have a child.”

    But to “be pregnant” is to be “with child”. I’m sure you’ve heard that expression before. As soon as a woman becomes aware, by virtue of a change in her cycle for example, she knows that it means she is with child. When one is pregnant, one has a child already regardless of the fact that she has not delivered it. To deliver it simply means that the child is no longer within her. But she definitely has a child from the moment she is aware that conception has taken place.

    “Why not try asking a mother if they would be equally satisfied giving birth to a brainless child that can be kept alive indefinitely via life-support? Or how about if they would be happy giving birth to a zygote?”

    Most women are aware of the stages her developing child goes through. Of course they desire giving birth to a person, but that does not mean that they regard the life inside them as anything but, UNLESS they find it inconvenient and pretending it isn’t yet a person allows them to kill it. Your questions above are foolish and intellectually dishonest as they are irrational and irrelevant. I would also say that I don’t know how you inferred it, but I never intended to imply that any woman is content to merely be pregnant. My point was that there is commonly no distinction when a woman says she hopes to get pregnant. It is assumed that along with getting pregnant is the desire to have a child. It’s really synonymous when so stated. I know of no one who would wonder if the woman intends to ONLY get pregnant WITHOUT also having a child nine months later.

    “We don’t gauge personhood based on genetic completeness.”

    Well, YOU certainly don’t. That’s quite clear. You demand other features to have developed that don’t truly make your case. Dogs have brains. Are they human? No, of course not. Why are they still dogs? Because that is their species and their genetics dictate that. More to the point, your examples of chromosomal disorders do not diminish the fact that victims of these disorders are still genetically human beings, and completely so. I think you are beginning to play semantic games. To be born without arms does not mean one is not genetically completely human and a person. And a human cell might be genetically complete, but it is still only a cell unlikely to divide and become a separate person as would a zygote. Please stop trying this failed ploy.

    “I have demonstrated multiple times that I can maintain the same “logical” structure you provide in your argument and yet present completely illogical deductions.”

    I don’t believe you have at all. Please provide at least one example or perhaps the date and time of a comment that included one. I must admit that I do not get the distinction between sound argument and logical validity. I believe my arguments to be both sound AND logically valid. I know that trying to equate making ice cream to making babies was a stretch, to say the least. Thus, with such only barely parallel the structure of my argument, but totally fail in the logic department as the comparison isn’t really logical at all. Thus, the question: What more can I be expected to provide to demonstrate that your argument is invalid? is problematic since you haven’t provided anything yet to show my argument is invalid. Two people engaged in the act of procreation can only produce another person. Regardless of the level of development of that product (zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus), that product is indeed another person.

  121. “Again, it is not a matter of not being able to “express” a personality, it is a matter of the zygote having NO personality… This is not subjective, it is objectively true.”

    All that is true is that the zygote cannot express its personality and you are unable to detect it. You cannot say it has none simply because you can’t detect it. You again hold it against the zygote that it lacks the ability due to its current stage of development. Tough break for the zygote.

    Your definition of design assumes design by people. On top of that, you assume that the word cannot be applied to biology, or rather, you insist that one cannot. Worse, by such insistence, you provide the means by which one can deny the humanity of the unborn if it so suits them due to the ability to dictate what constitutes personhood. There is purpose to most everything regardless if the designer is a Supreme Being or Mother Nature. This is more semantic games.

    “Despite the fact that this point is widely accepted, I have agreed to accept this claim for the sake of argument.”

    Widely accepted by whom? Others who wish to deny the humanity of the unborn? There is no reason to suppose the unborn are not “persons” UNLESS there is some motivation to deny that status.

    “I am not ignoring the development of the embryo, I just don’t place the same significance on it as you do. And this is not subjective.”

    Of course it is and your list that follows supports the claim.

    “The ONE exception, if I vaporize a person’s brain and replace it with a new one, I have destroyed that PERSON.”

    You have destroyed a person that was allowed the privilege of developing the brain you vaporized. Said another way, you have again compared a person who went through the process with one who hasn’t and called it the same. It isn’t. One developed a brain and the other has not yet done so. Thus, the argument is unsound and illogical.

    The last sentence of your last post to me is highlighted, but it doesn’t seem to be a link. Was this meant to be, or was it just a technical glitch?

    • Interesting. He’s comparing something like a kid picking up a violin for the first time to a concert violinist, and saying it’s a fair comparison. He’s looking at the kid and saying “THAT’S not a concert violinist!”. Well, no kidding!

      He should be looking at it from the perspective of a lifetime of development. The kid is the concert violinist’s former self. And if concert violinisthood came to everyone simply by being allowed to live, the concert violinist would be the kid’s future self.

      In that way, the two are the same.

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