Monday, October 13, 2008

Abortion and Brain Birth

If a person is considered dead a brain death, shouldn't life (or more precisely, personhood) be thought to begin at brain birth, rather than conception or birth? The author of this essay suggests that it comes rather later than many people would have thought, but that the suggestion that personhood begins here faces some difficulties.

60 comments:

Ilíon said...

The "personhood" issue is an intentional red-herring.

Its primary purpose is to attempt to deflect attention away from the inescapable fact that the zygote/fetus is a living human being, and that, in normal situations, if it is not killed, it will in a few months be a neonate. And eventually a toddler. And eventually an adolescent ... OK, those are not human beings. And eventually an adult.

The secondary purpose of the "personhood" issue -- perhaps it's better to call it "the other primary purpose" -- is to pretend that we don't really know what a human being is, and from this "confusion" may "ethically" justify infanticide and euthanasia.

BUT, even were it true that we really know neither what a human being is, nor when the human person begins to exist, the moral principle is "first, do no harm" and/or "err on the side of caution."


And then, about that brain-death thing -- I did post at least one link here to news items about a West Virginia woman who was "brain-dead" for 17 hours, according to the reports, and who "came back from the dead" as the medical staff were taking her "corpse" off life-support preparatory to carving her body up for spare parts.

Anonymous said...

Of course the purpose of the personhood issue is to deflect and pretend. Because as we all know, everyone who publicly disagrees with you privately knows you're right, and is operating with sinister motives to purposely deceive.

There is no such thing as honest disagreement with ilion.

This is why ilion never has any obligation to argue for his position. Since his opponents all know in their hearts that he is right, all he need do is assert this fact.

So what if what he calls the primary and secondary purpose of the personhood issue are exactly the same thing? Since all you who purport to disagree with him secretly know he's right, he's under no obligation to argue by assertion more than once.

The logic is airtight. Why haven't you people conceded?

There can only be three reasons. Say them with me...

Anonymous said...

There's disanalogies.

The pre-brain fetus is developing, naturally, to that stage of its life. It's also pre respitory system too. People can't live without entire respitory systems. Anyway, one is a *loss* of something, and end to progression. The other isn't. This could be spelled out in more detail, but I don't have the time and it's also covered in the relevant literature...ad nauseum.

One Brow said...

The "personhood" issue is an intentional red-herring.

So is the "living human being" issue. Sperm and ova are also living human beings. At least Catholics are consistent on this issue.

The real issue is having the rights of one entity/human/person trump the rights of another, and whether that is acceptable under the law.

I did post at least one link here to news items about a West Virginia woman who was "brain-dead" for 17 hours, according to the reports, and who "came back from the dead"

So, our inability to measure brain activity accurately in adults means we are not sure exactly when or to what degree a fetal brain becomes active? Thank you, Mr. Obvious.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 is me:

One brow, the sperm et al. are human arguments are fairly week. And appealing to what the Catholic church says isn't a compelling argument! :-)

Those arguments are debunked in the relevant literature. Assuming you don't have access, perhaps these posts by Vallicella will come in handy for you:

http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1222384856.shtml

Indeed, cf. all the potentiality/actuality psosts.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I prefer Judith Thomson's approach as it frames the problem in a more useful way.

Charlie said...

OK "Ilion", it's time to stop the bullshit. You know deep down that everything you said was a *lie*. I know, you know, and everybody else knows you're being intellectually dishonest.

Therefore, you're wrong.

QED

Clayton said...

Here's a fun little drinking game.

Take a drink whenever someone uses 'red-herring'!

Take two drinks for every ad hominem.

Charlie said...

ad hominem

Jubbles said...

It's obvious to me that abortion is wrong - If you can't kill a guy who's asleep, how can you kill a baby? What is the relevant difference?

You tell me that the guy will be awake and conscious some time later; well, so will the baby. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Thompson's argument is based on conflating ideas of killing and letting die. The violinist is on his way out, not the fetus. It is also based on specious moral *intuitions* as I am of the *intuition* that if you did wake up attached to the violinist you have a *obligation* to support his life for the next 9 months.

Blue Devil Knight said...

We can assume for the argument (as is done) that the violinist will live fine, be perfectly healed and live a productive life.

The legal questions are more clearly addressed here than in the 'when it is a person with rights' framing of the debate.

Sure, you might have the intuition that you should stay attached. But would the law ever mandate that? No way. You would be under no legal obligation, it would be a personal decision, a painful one.

Blue Devil Knight said...

And note I'm not necessarily agreeing with her conclusions. My claim was that the legal arguments involved become more clear.

Charlie said...

One potentially fatal problem with defining personhood in terms of brain birth is that personhood would then be subject to vagueness. Brain birth is not an 'all or nothing' affair: it's a gradual process that occurs within a relatively wide range of time (and this is conceded in the article). This implies that there would be babies about which there is no fact of the matter whether they're persons. And this implication, aside from any philosophical problems with it, would seem undesirable to both pro-lifers and pro-choicers. Actually, if pro-lifers could put together a good argument showing that agnosticism about personhood warrants erring on the side of caution, then it might be an acceptable result for them.

Charlie said...

It's obvious to me that abortion is wrong - If you can't kill a guy who's asleep, how can you kill a baby? What is the relevant difference?

If I were pro-choice, I'd respond as follows:

It's obvious to me that abortion is morally permissible -- If it's sometimes OK to dispose of material objects that aren't persons, why can you not dispose of just another non-person that happens to be a bit more fleshy? What is the relevant difference?

Anonymous said...

Anonymmous here again:

BDN: "But would the law ever mandate that? No way. You would be under no legal obligation, it would be a personal decision, a painful one."

Umm, the debate isn't over *legailty* but *morality*. At one time it was *legal* to own and beat slaves.

My intution point counters here intuition point as it isn't *obvious*, as she seems to want to make it, that one doesn't have a moral obligation to support the life of the violinist.

Also, my point wasn't that the violinist wouldn't go on living after the 9 months, it was rather that there's a disanalogy between the fetus and the violinist such that one is *ending* a life in its natural state and proper environment, and the other is *prolonging* a *lost* that would otherwise die if left to develp *naturally* for its stage of existence. The difference, again, is between *killing* (fetus) and *letting die* (the violinist).

Blue Devil Knight said...

anon: I am arguing about legality.

Anonymous said...

BDK, I'm arguing about morality.

I guess you'd have to say the Dred Scott argument was a good one for the right to beat and kill slaves since they were merely property.

This case is a *moral* matter, not a *legal* one.

Furthermore, her argument doesn't work since it blurs the distinctions between killing and letting die.

That's why you don't have to revive someone who has a DNR, but you can't go and smother any ole person you like.

Make sense?

Anonymous said...

BDK,

See here

http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1179944743.shtml

and here

http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1220221723.shtml

One Brow said...

One brow, the sperm et al. are human arguments are fairly week.

I have no problem believing you find them so. However, weakness is often in the eye of the beholder.

And appealing to what the Catholic church says isn't a compelling argument! :-)

You'll note I complimented theie consistency, not validity.

Those arguments are debunked in the relevant literature. Assuming you don't have access, perhaps these posts by Vallicella will come in handy for you

Unfortunately, the post you link to was apparently biologically ignorant.

Let S be a sperm cell, and O an ovum. Suppose S and O unite to form zygote Z, which then develops into person P. P is perhaps transtemporally numerically identical to Z, but P is certainly not transtemporally numerically identical to S. (From here on, 'identical' is short for 'transtemporally numerically identical.')
On the other hand, Z is occasionally not "identical" (using Varicella's shortcut for transtemporally numerically identical) to P. After all, should there be P1 and P2, by this same argument neither is identical to Z (although one can be identical to S and the other to O, by this line of argumentation). For that matter, there may be a Z1 and a Z2 that combine to form P, in which case neither is identical to P by this argument. So, we can not say Z is identical to P. Thus, PP does not apply to Z.


Indeed, cf. all the potentiality/actuality psosts.

When I have a chance, perhaps. I hope they are of better quality.

Anonymous said...

"I have no problem believing you find them so. However, weakness is often in the eye of the beholder."

That's fine. But I responded to your *assertion* with my own. Certainly you don't think *this* counts as an *argument*: "So is the "living human being" issue. Sperm and ova are also living human beings."

So, save the polemics, especially when you simply made an assertion.

"You'll note I complimented theie consistency, not validity."

Which implied that those who don't think sperm and egg are humans are *inconsistent*. Which one would think has the implication that we should drop out belief that one should drop his belief that sperm and egg *are not* humans because one should want to avoind *inconsistency*.

You're not off to a good start.

"Unfortunately, the post you link to was apparently biologically ignorant."

I know of no biologist that claims that sperm and egg are humans. Furthermore, notions of idenity are above scientists pay grade. :-)

"On the other hand, Z is occasionally not "identical" (using Varicella's shortcut for transtemporally numerically identical) to P."

Where do you get that idea? By begging the question?

"After all, should there be P1 and P2, by this same argument neither is identical to Z"

I don't follow that. There's much you've left out of the twinning debate, supposing that's what you mean. Z could die and give rise to Z1 and Z2, which are identical to P1 and P2. Just because division occures doesn't mean that there wasn't a unified life before the division, enter flatworms.

"although one can be identical to S and the other to O, by this line of argumentation"

How so? On DNA *alone* you're off. P1 has a different set of DNA than does S or O. So, Z/P can't be identical to S *or* O. Also, S or O, left on its own, does not develop, naturally, into a human being.

"For that matter, there may be a Z1 and a Z2 that combine to form P, in which case neither is identical to P by this argument."

First, this does nothing to show that S or O are identical to Z/P.

Second, this only happens up to 14 days, so I assume you deny abortion after 14 days?

Third, how does it follow that because of a split or a recombination there was no whole living organism before the split? It doesn't.

"When I have a chance, perhaps. I hope they are of better quality."

Yeah, I think we're done. Check you later...

Randy said...

Anon,
Umm, the debate isn't over *legailty* but *morality*. At one time it was *legal* to own and beat slaves.

Yes, and one time it was illegal to get an abortion. Fortunately, most people have come to their senses and realized that it is immoral to completely deny a woman a choice in ending her pregnancy. And we now have a legal system of abortion that is considered to be moral by most people.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, good argument Randy. Way to be totally ignorant of the debate. If the fetus is a human being, then to take it's innocent life is MUDER. So, you need to do more than justy call it "a woman's right to choose" since, presumably, you wouldn't say a woman could kill here 2 yr. old just for the sake of "choice." Certainly you don't think someone's *location* is morally relevant, right?

Why are pro-choicers such hacks?

Randy said...

Why are pro-choicers such hacks?

Why are pro-lifers so rude?

I know this all seems so black and white to you, but quite a few of us don't see this issue as being so clear cut.

Unless you learn to grasp that point, your efforts to harangue pro-choicers into agreeing with your moral position look pretty dim to me.

Anonymous said...

"Why are pro-lifers so rude?"

Fortunately, good arguments can be made by rude people, not hacks.

Secondly, because you were so arrogant.

Third, as if implying that I hadn't "come to my senses" wasn't itself an example of rudeness.

Fourth, your post was absent objective argumentation...again.

What a hack.

Randy said...

Fortunately, good arguments can be made by rude people, not hacks.

Not if they don't take the other position seriously.
Sorry, I don't see you doing that here.

If I came across as arrogant, I apologize.

Obviously, I think the moral and sensible position is to grant a legal right to a woman to abort in certain circumstances. It is a fact that most people do agree with that moral and legal positon.

Anonymous said...

It may be a descriptive *fact* of the matter that "most people" think that "abortion is acceptable in certain circumstances," but: (i) that is sufficiently vague that almost every pro-lifer I know could agree with it and (ii) *descriptive* claims aren't sufficient to render a verdict on *normative* or, *ethical* claims. So, it frankly doesn't matter that "most people think x." I made the point above about slavery. Back then "most people" thought slavery was morally acceptable. So, your argument is poor on several fronts.

Ilíon said...

Ah! I see that one of the Anonymoi, if no one else, gets it about that silly and self-serving "politeness" "rule" that persons of a certain mind-set, and their door-mat enablers, imagine they can impose upon others.

Randy said...

So, it frankly doesn't matter that "most people think x." I made the point above about slavery. Back then "most people" thought slavery was morally acceptable. So, your argument is poor on several fronts.

Yes and most people thought it was immoral to allow a woman to have an abortion and that is why it was illegal. But people have changed their mind over the morality of aboriton. And that is why in certain circumstances it is now legal.

The issue of slavery is irrelevant. Simply because you and I can agree that slavery is wrong does not mean we are going to agree that all abortions are immoral.

Anonymous said...

"Yes and most people thought it was immoral to allow a woman to have an abortion and that is why it was illegal."

But that wasn't what *made it* immoral. Popular opinion does not a moral truth make.

"But people have changed their mind over the morality of aboriton."

So what? That's *irrelevant* to the morality of it.

"And that is why in certain circumstances it is now legal."

Not all immoral actions are *illegal* and not all illegal actions are *immoral*.

"The issue of slavery is irrelevant."

No it's not. Man stealing was *never* moral, *regardless* of the *descriptive* state of affairs wrt people's psychological state. Thus what my slavery example shows is that mere majority agreement is not sufficient to *make* some fact moral or immoral.

"Simply because you and I can agree that slavery is wrong does not mean we are going to agree that all abortions are immoral."

So what? The relvant question is: If you went back in time would you believe that slavery was *moral* simply because "the majority" did?

If not, then you've lost the debate. If so, then you're a moral relativist and there's a whole other line I'll take with you.

Hope that helped out!

Randy said...

Thus what my slavery example shows is that mere majority agreement is not sufficient to *make* some fact moral or immoral.

But I'm making no such claim. I didn't say some abortions were moral because the majority believed they were moral.

Because a majority believe some abortions are moral it is now legal for some abortions to take place.

Just because it is a fact that you hold the minority position that abortions should be illegal, doesn't mean you are wrong on the moral issue. But it does mean you do have the burden of changing the minds of the majority if you really wish the laws to be changed.

Blue Devil Knight said...

anon:
Obviously what is legal is identical with what is moral. That's exactly what I am implying when I say I am focusing on the legal issues, not the moral issues. Wow, and those Valicella articles you pointed out holy moly they totally convinced me I was wrong, as it wasn't completely obvious to me before that hiding Jews in basements and lying to Nazi police was moral. I totally thought that was immoral for them because it was legal. Thanks so much for clarifying things for me.

Nobody light a match this place is packed with straw.

Anonymous said...

"But I'm making no such claim. I didn't say some abortions were moral because the majority believed they were moral."

Good, so all the talk of what the majoriyt belives is fruitless on your end. But this concession makes your very first comment to me rather confusing.

"Because a majority believe some abortions are moral it is now legal for some abortions to take place."

Again, that is sufficiently vague that all pro-lifers could agree with it.

"Just because it is a fact that you hold the minority position that abortions should be illegal, doesn't mean you are wrong on the moral issue."

That is true, and it's also not true that I hold the "minority position," unless by that you mean your vague stance that "some abortions are morally acceptible." But of course I don't deny that vague claim.

"But it does mean you do have the burden of changing the minds of the majority if you really wish the laws to be changed."

Okay, and that's why I *argue* for my position. I'd actually say the other side has the burden as science is squarely on my side as the vast majority of embryology text books would demonstrate. And, as can be seen here and in other places, the pro-lifers have the better philosophical arguments too.

Anonymous said...

BDK,

Well, I made quick work of you, didn't I?

Jim Jordan said...

Science shows us that life begins at conception. The "well, what about" arguments have the smell of weasel about them. For Christians who want to remain Democrats, try joining and being active with Democrats for Life. Oppose from within, but don't play word games about such an important issue.

Ilíon said...

Robert George: Obama's Abortion Extremism

Clayton said...

Science shows us that life begins at conception.

Yes, well, be that as it may, science does not show that an entity with special moral status begins to exist at conception.

Randy said...

Good, so all the talk of what the majoriyt belives is fruitless on your end.

Quite the opposite. As long as the majority agree with my moral position, then in this case it is protected under the law. Why do you think that fruitless?


Okay, and that's why I *argue* for my position. I'd actually say the other side has the burden as science is squarely on my side as the vast majority of embryology text books would demonstrate. And, as can be seen here and in other places, the pro-lifers have the better philosophical arguments too

Science isn’t on your side. Nor is it on my side. Unless you buy into the questionable philosophical position that morality is simply a matter of facts.

One Brow said...

Science shows us that life begins at conception.

No, it doesn't. Life continues at conception, passing on from teh life of the gametes to the life of the zygotes. Scientists consider gametes to be living things.

One Brow said...

That's fine. But I responded to your *assertion* with my own.

Thank you for the summary.

Certainly you don't think *this* counts as an *argument*: "So is the "living human being" issue. Sperm and ova are also living human beings."

I am not surprised you consider statements of facts to be non-argumentative. After all, the facts are decidedly against you, so ignoring them is convenient.

So, save the polemics, especially when you simply made an assertion.

One that is quite easy to justify.

Which implied that those who don't think sperm and egg are humans are *inconsistent*.

Which they are, correcting your statement to the one I made (living human beings).

Which one would think has the implication that we should drop out belief that one should drop his belief that sperm and egg *are not* humans because one should want to avoind *inconsistency*.

Very good, you’re catching on.

I know of no biologist that claims that sperm and egg are humans.

Apparently you don’t know many biologists. Gametes are the haploid stage of human life. The process from zygote to adult is the diploid stage of human life. I suppose you could argue that “humans” refers only to beings in the diploid stage, but gametes are alive, are humans, and are separate beings unto themselves. They are living human beings.

Furthermore, notions of idenity are above scientists pay grade. :-)

True, but I was referring to facts.

"On the other hand, Z is occasionally not "identical" (using Varicella's shortcut for transtemporally numerically identical) to P."

Where do you get that idea? By begging the question?

"After all, should there be P1 and P2, by this same argument neither is identical to Z"

I don't follow that. There's much you've left out of the twinning debate, supposing that's what you mean. Z could die and give rise to Z1 and Z2, which are identical to P1 and P2. Just because division occures doesn't mean that there wasn't a unified life before the division, enter flatworms.


Varicella uses a lack of transtemporal numerical identity to conclude that PP does not apply to S. By an identical reasoning process, PP does not apply to Z.

"although one can be identical to S and the other to O, by this line of argumentation"

How so? On DNA *alone* you're off.


Of course, there was nothing in Varicella’s argument about DNA, so that point is moot.

"For that matter, there may be a Z1 and a Z2 that combine to form P, in which case neither is identical to P by this argument."

First, this does nothing to show that S or O are identical to Z/P.


I agree, and this is also moot, since I never claimed they were.

Second, this only happens up to 14 days, so I assume you deny abortion after 14 days?

If you are looking for a statement of my opinion, it would be that every woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy at any time, and every fetus has a right to try to survive after the termination.

Third, how does it follow that because of a split or a recombination there was no whole living organism before the split? It doesn't.

I don’t recall claiming that. You should try to address my arguments rather than arguments I’m not making, if you expect a productive exchange.

However, you seem to think the notion that is zygote is a whole living organism excludes it from this chain of logic, which nonetheless still apply to gametes. Since gametes are also whole living organisms, I find that argument unpersuasive.

Yeah, I think we're done. Check you later...

As you wish. I did read the rest of the arguments that Varicella listed, and there are a couple of other biologically questionable positions.

Charlie said...

"Obviously what is legal is identical with what is moral."

Stupidest statement ever.

Charlie said...

Clayton,

"Yes, well, be that as it may, science does not show that an entity with special moral status begins to exist at conception."

Um. Science doesn't show that any entity has a special moral status.

If we have good reasons (what they are does not matter for now) to believe that human persons have moral value, and if science shows that the entity at conception = a human person, why should we not think of that entity as having moral value?

Doctor Logic said...

charlie,

and if science shows that the entity at conception = a human person, why should we not think of that entity as having moral value?

Science doesn't show that the entity at conception is a person. It shows that it is a human.

The difference is critical. Science could show that an alien visitor was not human, but was also a person.

Clayton said...

Um. Science doesn't show that any entity has a special moral status.

Agreed, that was what I was assuming.

If we have good reasons (what they are does not matter for now) to believe that human persons have moral value, and if science shows that the entity at conception = a human person, why should we not think of that entity as having moral value?
I agree with the first conditional. I'd agree that if science shows that the entity at conception = a human person, we should we think of that entity as having moral value. I don't think that the antecedent of that conditional is going to turn out to be true, however, if by 'human person', we mean something that has moral status.

That's why I agreed with the first point. I mean, I think that the 'classic' Noonan paper on the issue is utterly unconvincing, but at least he recognizes that there's the potential equivocation on what 'person', 'life', etc... mean.

Doctor Logic said...

I don't think anyone is arguing that abortion is morally good. All things being equal, I would say that abortion is not morally good. But all things are not equal. For some people, a pregnancy is a blessing, and for others, it's a curse. Furthermore, abortion bans would be highly offensive to many people (myself included) because they represent a form of assault on the mother. It's not abortion that is good, but choice. Outlawing abortion would do harm.

So I think it is morally better to keep abortion legal (with limits) than to make it illegal. There has to be a balance. The longer one waits for an abortion, the more offensive it is to those who are against abortion. That's why I generally favor some time limits on when a mother can have an abortion.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Charlie: your sarcasm detector is wayyy busted. What I meant to say is that something is moral if and only if it is legal. :P

Seriously, though...clearly a zygote has some value. We should assume that. So does a Picasso, or a monkey. The tough question is what our relative priorities should be. Should we value the wishes of the pregnant mother less than that of a zygote or small cluster of cells? Values are often in conflict. It seems what drives much of this debate is the relative weighting people give to these factors.

If you had to choose between destroying a zygote and killing an infant, which would you choose? (If you make no choice within ten minutes, both will be killed). Unless I knew the person was Hitler or something, I would destroy the zygote, not happily, but knowing it was the moral choice.

It may be fruitful to pick what each side thinks are clear-cut cases. If we don't agree on those, that suggests some incommensurability. For instance, in the case of the woman's life being in danger, abortion is moral. It would be immoral to block it.

OTOH, say a woman 9 1/2 months pregnant is about to give birth, as an argument with the father about something trivial, and decides she wants to get an abortion to punish him. That seems pretty clearly immoral.

If we could find any common ground, that at least could be a fulcrum around which to lay out some principles. Taking a human life is not always wrong. Many people think we are allowed to take human life in two major cases:
1. To keep the person from killing others.
2. To punish someone who has murdered (for those in favor of capital punishment)

The problem with abortion is, it is typically neither of these (except, perhaps the case of a woman whose life is in danger from the pregnancy, in that case you might be able to make a case of number 1).

Then we get JJ Thomson's case. Say you wake up and a person has hooked himself up to you and if you unplug him in the next nine months he will die. Is it immoral to unplug him? Clearly, it should be legal to unplug him (my point above, and this is one reason I am in favor of abortion being legal). However, would that be an immoral act?

I think trying to answer this question without context is a mistake. Who is the person plugged into without consent? What is happening in their life, what responsibilities to they have that they would have to miss? How do they feel about the situation? Is it a single mom with ten children and a full time job who will not be able to take care of them with him attached? In that case, it clearly wouldn't be immoral for her to unplug. Indeed, I think it would be immoral to neglect her other responsibilities.

This suggests to me that coming up with a universal moral prescription about abortion is also a mistake. Context, relative weighting of priorities is key. Sure, some abortions are probably immoral. And that sucks. But that is insufficient to justify making it illegal in all cases. The government shouldn't be in the business of interfering in these complicated and painful personal decisions.

Luckily, the law tends to catch up with morality. Instead of saying all abortion should be illegal, it ackknowledges restrictions on special cases (e.g., the third trimester). That is probably the more fruitful line of attack for the antiabortionists.

Charlie said...

BDK,

What I meant to say is that something is moral if and only if it is legal.

OK, are you being sarcastic still, or what? Even this revision involving the biconditional is outrageous. I can think of at least a dozen counterexamples off the top of my head. A pretty obvious one, for instance, would be legal segregation throughout the 50's and 60's, which was exactly immoral.

Ilíon said...

Actually, 'science' doesn't show us anything at all.

Perhaps at one time, say almost two centuries ago, before the (atheistic) positivists were able to redefine what is understood by the term, science could tell tell us things. But not now.

As 'science' is now understood, as science is now practiced, it is not ever about truth -- and therefore, any given scientific statement/assertion *may* be true, or it may not be true, but no one can ever determine its truth-content via 'science.' Something else beyond 'science' is necessary to make that determination.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Charlie: you have got to be kidding me.

Charlie said...

That's the same thought I had about your post. Your view implies that nobody has been morally right in breaking a law. Doesn't this seem false to you, given your knowledge of history?

An action can be legal but immoral, illegal but moral, legal but amoral, and illegal but amoral.

E.g., is it illegal to not wear your seatbelt? Yes. Is it morally wrong? No.

Your claim would have been sensible, perhaps, had it been something like, "The laws we make should correspond to moral truths."

Charlie said...

BDK,

I was wrong to say you made the stupidest statement ever. That feature rather belongs to Ilion's latest:

"Actually, 'science' doesn't show us anything at all"

Blue Devil Knight said...

Charlie: Oh right when I said 'X is moral iff X is legal' I meant to say 'X is legal iff X is moral.' Thanks for pointing that out.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Charlie, you might actually read the extended commentary on the morality (versus legality) of abortion above. The one that with me stating the exact same false claim in new language, and then starts with 'Seriously,...'

I was going to let you point out the fallacy in my claim a few more times, in various different permutations, as it is sort of funny that you seem to have sacrasm agnosia, but I don't have the time for such fun as I have work to finish urgently.

Have a good one.

Charlie said...

BDK,

Given that this medium does not provide the luxuries of facial expression, vocal intonation, etc., you need to learn how to drop subtle clues for readers. Your attempt at sarcasm was undetectable and as a result at least four minutes of my life have been wasted. For future reference, please refrain from all attempts at sarcasm unless and until you have been trained effectively on how to use it. Thank you for your cooperation.

Thnx.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Logic: "I don't think anyone is arguing that abortion is morally good. All things being equal, I would say that abortion is not morally good."

But if your atheist friend "one brow" is correct, would you say that "pulling out" is "not morally good" since you let "living human beings" die?

Or do you think his approach in the debate was rather unsophisticated and ignorant? :-)

One Brow said...

But if your atheist friend "one brow" is correct,

He's my friend?

would you say that "pulling out" is "not morally good" since you let "living human beings" die?

I don't recall attaching a moral value to the death of hapliod human beings.

Or do you think his approach in the debate was rather unsophisticated and ignorant?

Pointing out a pretend difference is really pretend does often make the person claiming the difference feel that way.

Doctor Logic said...

anonymous,

But if your atheist friend "one brow" is correct, would you say that "pulling out" is "not morally good" since you let "living human beings" die?

In my opinion, the fact that embryos are clusters of human cells is irrelevant to the moral status of abortion.

The morality of an action is neutral when it has no impact on the joy or suffering of persons. Neither embryos nor sperm cells are persons. However, what we do with these things often does cause joy or suffering to persons.

Okay, here's a shortish rant. Some people look for patterns in their moral feelings, and try to infer moral laws from the feelings. Then, they promptly forget that the moral laws are a map of the territory, and argue that the inferred laws are more real than the moral feelings that inspired them. But the map is not more real than the territory. The territory is how we feel.


one brow,

Will you be my friend?

One Brow said...

one brow,

Will you be my friend?


Sure. You seem a decent enough sort of poster.

Anonymous said...

"He's my friend?"

The term's more elastic than you're letting on you pedant. However, perhaps you take your status as mechantistic, robotic material being more serious than most? In that case you'd have something in common with the Catholics: You're both being "consistent."

Nevertheless, as the good "Dr." said,

"Neither embryos nor sperm cells are persons."

Good, so you admit one brow's commetns border on hackness?

One Brow said...

"He's my friend?"

The term's more elastic than you're letting on you pedant.


Before this thread, I had not exchanged a single word with Dr. Logic, to my recollection, although I had read his post. Is Larry Niven my friend because I read his books?

Nevertheless, as the good "Dr." said,

"Neither embryos nor sperm cells are persons."

Good, so you admit one brow's commetns border on hackness?


I don't recall claiming they were persons. I do recall using an argument of Varicella's, saying a gamete was not a person, and pointing out that the same argument could be used of a zygote, and so the zygote was also not a person. I do recall saying that gametes fit the description of individual human beings. Neither of those is the same as your statement.