Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Legalizing murder: The argument from reasonable doubt

I have a strong inclination toward these two positions. 

1) Abortion is murder. 
2) Abortion should be legal. 

Which means I think murder should be legal in many cases, that although very wrong, the remedy for it should be moral rather than legal. That is because the personhood of the fetus is not provable beyond reasonable doubt, therefore the status of abortionists as murderers is not proved beyond reasonable doubt, and that is the standard for convicting someone of murder in America.

249 comments:

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Hugo Pelland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hugo Pelland said...

Seems fair to me but for 2 slightly different reasons.

1) it's up to the woman to decide what to do with her body, by default, and that supersedes our own opinions on whether a murder is happening in the first place

2) it makes a huge difference "when" the abortion happens in determining whether there's a person involved, which is pretty much the same point as your notion of the personhood of the fetus being difficult to prove

bmiller said...

My questions from the previous post:

By this logic, then when the law is changed to define a person as being present at the moment of conception, it will be beyond a reasonable doubt and abortionists will be beyond a reasonable doubt murderers.

Do you think legal statutes change the ontological status of anything? If the law was changed that it's OK to kill particular minorities would that be OK with you?

Additionally, if you think "personhood" should be the standard:

The reasonable doubt standard was put in place as a protection against the punishment of the possibly innocent. By this standard, in the case of the unborn, where there is reason to believe that they do indeed possess personhood, they should be not be harmed. It is the duty of those who wish to do the harm to prove conclusively that they do not possess personhood.

Legion of Logic said...

Personhood is a philosophical and legal position heavily influenced by opinion, which can change very quickly. Blacks once were legally slaves because they were not considered persons - that's how strong a foundation personhood is. That's why personhood is an absolute non-starter for proving or disproving anything.

To defend the "killing the unborn is okay" position, you either have to explain why the biological understanding of the beginning of human life (conception) is wrong, or you bear the burden of explaining why unborn humans have less worth than infants, which are illegal to kill when a parent doesn't want it.

I would not want to be in either position, frankly, as the former is untenable and the latter is reprehensible. Of course, we can't prove any life has value, so at least it's possible to not have to ignore facts when taking that position.

bmiller said...

Blacks once were legally slaves because they were not considered persons

That's right and it directly bears on the question at hand. So the question is "should law form reality or should reality form the law?"

Moral relativists would just say that reality is merely a social construct so if society thinks black people aren't persons, so it is. But Victor has argued at length against that position.

Joe Hinman said...

By this logic, then when the law is changed to define a person as being present at the moment of conception, it will be beyond a reasonable doubt and abortionists will be beyond a reasonable doubt murderers.

Do you think legal statutes change the ontological status of anything? If the law was changed that it's OK to kill particular minorities would that be OK with you?


we have the power, get out of our way!

Additionally, if you think "personhood" should be the standard:

The reasonable doubt standard was put in place as a protection against the punishment of the possibly innocent. By this standard, in the case of the unborn, where there is reason to believe that they do indeed possess personhood, they should be not be harmed. It is the duty of those who wish to do the harm to prove conclusively that they do not possess personhood.


You really don't understand the concept of circular reasoning do you?

Joe Hinman said...

LL you are argumemt is circular too, we say it's life it's a person m so terminating it is killing it therefore it's a person. That is clearly circular.

Chad Handley said...

The whole way this discussion is framed is entirely backwards. You really have to give it to the pro-choice faction for so completely dominating the way this issue is discussed so that even among Christians the terms are set up in their favor.

It makes no sense to say that the burden is on the pro-life advocate to prove that a fetus is a person. That gets the morality of the situation completely backwards.

The thought experiment I've heard that I like to use goes like this. Imagine you are ushered into a room with a large 6 foot by 2 foot box inside. The box is more than tall and wide enough to fit a human. You're told there's a 50% chance there is a person inside the box, and a 50% chance the box is empty. You're then given a button that, if pushed, and if there's a human inside the box, will kill the human in the box. Of course, if there is no human in the box, pushing the button will not do anything.

Would you be justified in pushing the button? Would the fact that you're not "sure beyond a reasonable doubt" that there's a person in the box absolve you of any blame if you pushed the button and ended up killing a person? Wouldn't that be putting things exactly the wrong way around? It's not that it's morally permissible to push the button so long as you're not sure beyond a reasonable doubt that there's no person in the box. It's that it would ONLY be morally permissible to push the button if you WERE sure beyond a reasonable doubt that there WASN'T a person in the box.

Contrary to popular belief, uncertainty about the personhood of the fetus favors the pro-life position, not the pro-choice position. And seeing this requires no private religion; no metaphysical commitment about the status of the fetus. That abortion should be illegal follows from two uncontroversial moral principals 1) you have to be sure if you're going to engage in an act that might kill a person and 2) that when it comes to the personhood status of the fetus, we're NOT sure.

Only the prosecution has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense has no burden at all. The pro-life position is the defense position.

Joe Hinman said...

Blacks once were legally slaves because they were not considered persons

That's right and it directly bears on the question at hand. So the question is "should law form reality or should reality form the law?"


That is where you turn to circular reasoning. We have challenged you on that point every time and you never answer except with arbitrary "it has to be a person because we say it is." you say it is based upon nonsense but supposedly from the bible but it's not. The Bible never says a fertilized egg is a person. You can't prove when it becomes a person you take that and you assert it must be because it is, that's that,

Moral relativists would just say that reality is merely a social construct so if society thinks black people aren't persons, so it is. But Victor has argued at length against that position.

I am not a moral relativist, go look at my blog when have I ever argued for moral relativism? I make the moral argument against atheists for the existence of God and assume a standard universal moral truth. You don't know what that is. You confuse political party lines with universal truth you don't know the difference.

Joe Hinman said...

Hey Chad, you are usually a voice of reason,I must disagree with you this time,


Blogger Chad Handley said...
The whole way this discussion is framed is entirely backwards. You really have to give it to the pro-choice faction for so completely dominating the way this issue is discussed so that even among Christians the terms are set up in their favor.

No , you are right pro choice is winning but not because it;s set up wrong, But because they are basing the argumemt on circular reasoning,

It makes no sense to say that the burden is on the pro-life advocate to prove that a fetus is a person. That gets the morality of the situation completely backwards.

It does because the court ruled on it.That is why i said that as few posts ago how they just assume Row vs Wade doesn't mean anything.It means aborigine is not murder in the eyes of the law we have to have it proven that it is,


Joe Hinman said...

Chad

The thought experiment I've heard that I like to use goes like this. Imagine you are ushered into a room with a large 6 foot by 2 foot box inside. The box is more than tall and wide enough to fit a human. You're told there's a 50% chance there is a person inside the box, and a 50% chance the box is empty. You're then given a button that, if pushed, and if there's a human inside the box, will kill the human in the box. Of course, if there is no human in the box, pushing the button will not do anything.

Would you be justified in pushing the button? Would the fact that you're not "sure beyond a reasonable doubt" that there's a person in the box absolve you of any blame if you pushed the button and ended up killing a person? Wouldn't that be putting things exactly the wrong way around? It's not that it's morally permissible to push the button so long as you're not sure beyond a reasonable doubt that there's no person in the box. It's that it would ONLY be morally permissible to push the button if you WERE sure beyond a reasonable doubt that there WASN'T a person in the box.

Contrary to popular belief, uncertainty about the personhood of the fetus favors the pro-life position, not the pro-choice position. And seeing this requires no private religion; no metaphysical commitment about the status of the fetus. That abortion should be illegal follows from two uncontroversial moral principals 1) you have to be sure if you're going to engage in an act that might kill a person and 2) that when it comes to the personhood status of the fetus, we're NOT sure.

You are making the fallacious assumption being is becoming. That's why it matters at what stage you have an abortion. RTL people are so confused when we argued this before they were telling me "what difference does that make." All philosophers agree it;s crucial at what stage the aborigine happens. You want it to be a piori human person from day one no becoming, for you becoming = being.

Only the prosecution has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense has no burden at all. The pro-life position is the defense position.


you are confusing defending a proposition with defending a murder trial,we can;t assume it;s a murder trail that would be begging the question. This is not a trail it;s a proposition, a debate, not a trail, different rules apply,

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad Handley said...

" It makes no sense to say that the burden is on the pro-life advocate to prove that a fetus is a person. That gets the morality of the situation completely backwards. "

That is what is backward. The main question, the first question, is always about the woman's right to choose what to do with her body. Getting an abortion or not is a choice the woman makes.

If you want to argue against that right, against that principle that applies to literally everything about individuals' privacy and control over their own body, you need to explain why. You need to justify why you think that you know best, that you think you know so well what is happening inside that woman's body that you are going to decide for her what medical procedure she may or may not get.

Now, if you're like Victor, you can claim that you think she is doing something wrong, or you can claim that she is not in most cases, like I would claim. Either way, the right to choose comes first. You have it backward.

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo,

Her "medical decision" ends another life which is not actually part of her body. That is what's different about killing the unborn vs having a skin tag removed.

Legion of Logic said...

Joe: It means aborigine is not murder in the eyes of the law we have to have it proven that it is

Given that personhood does not actually exist, how precisely does one prove anything with it?

Pro-life takes the only logical, scientific, and definite position - if a new human organism exists, it's a new life and therefore a new person. Pro-killing position waffles all over the place in the name of protecting that "right" to kill.

What great legal reasoning Roe was.

Joe Hinman said...

Blogger Legion of Logic said...
Joe: It means aborigine is not murder in the eyes of the law we have to have it proven that it is

Given that personhood does not actually exist, how precisely does one prove anything with it?

Pro-life takes the only logical, scientific, and definite position - if a new human organism exists, it's a new life and therefore a new person. Pro-killing position waffles all over the place in the name of protecting that "right" to kill.

What great legal reasoning Roe was.

September 26, 2018 4:17 AM


Why is that the only logic view? It's not logical at all.Your means of proving that the fetus is possessed of person hod is still circular, every assertion you make there is irrational. First you assume personhood is is merely a construct thus it doesn't matter. But you assert that "human life" is intrinsic but you can't show why, that makes you the relativist.

Joe Hinman said...

you still have not proven ru486 doesn't prevent fertilization if taken at the right time, so you really don't care about preventing abortion you just want to organize right wing voting.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
To defend the "killing the unborn is okay" position, you either have to explain why the biological understanding of the beginning of human life (conception) is wrong, or you bear the burden of explaining why unborn humans have less worth than infants, which are illegal to kill when a parent doesn't want it.

I reject the dilemma as unfounded, and both of its prongs as inaccurate. Even if human life began at conception, as a full individual with rights, that still does not give it the right to attach itself to the body of another person, and maintain that attachment.

However, life does not begin as conception, it continues from the previous life present there. On the other prong, infants do not require attachment to the physical body of a person for survival, and there are alternative to disposing of an unwanted infant that do not rely upon its death.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
Personhood is a philosophical and legal position heavily influenced by opinion, which can change very quickly. Blacks once were legally slaves because they were not considered persons - that's how strong a foundation personhood is.

Since free black people could marry, often own property, etc., what is the basis for your comment? I'm not saying your wrong, it just seems counter-intuitive.

bmiller said...

What do drug companies say the purpose of RU-486 is?

"Uses for Mifepristone
Termination of Pregnancy
Termination of intrauterine pregnancy through 49 days of gestation, dated from first day of last menstrual period or determined by clinical examination or ultrasonographic scan.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10 11 19 20 21 22 23 27 Two days after mifepristone, misoprostol must be administered to induce uterine contraction unless complete abortion has been confirmed.1 11 27

Has been used with vaginal† administration of misoprostol for termination of pregnancy;2 10 11 27 however, such use very rarely has resulted in fatal bacterial infection and sepsis.1 33 37 38 39 (See Infection and Sepsis under Cautions.)

Joe Hinman said...

Blacks once were legally slaves because they were not considered persons - that's how strong a foundation personhood is.


You guys so crazy ,you are Just brainwashed! you are acting like I'm defending murder; let's kill all babies. I haven't even supported abortion at all I've supported is:

(1) let the woman decide (you don't believe women will decide rightly do you? don';t trust women to do the right thing.

(2) we can end the debate by using drugs that prevent fertilization no way that can be killing no way it can be taking human life.

you are acting like I said down with babies,,

bmiller said...

@Chad,

You're spot on.
Hunters are held responsible to ensure they are not shooting at a person.

If you aren't sure that what you shoot at is not human, that is a crime. It's well established law.

Legion of Logic said...

Joe: our means of proving that the fetus is possessed of person hod is still circular, every assertion you make there is irrational.

You missed my point. I'm saying that using personhood to prove anything is useless. Trying to prove personhood itself is useless beyond seeing what the current legal definition happens to be in a given location. Personhood is not something that actually exists outside of the legal realm, and laws can be changed. If a conservative Supreme Court conferred constitutional rights to the unborn, would you suddenly agree that the unborn magically became something they were not prior to the new law?

But you assert that "human life" is intrinsic but you can't show why, that makes you the relativist.

You and I are living organisms of the Homo sapiens variety. So are the unborn. If you disagree that an unborn human is alive, human, or an organism, then you might have a case. I look forward to seeing this case made.

Or perhaps you deny that human life has intrinsic value?

you don't believe women will decide rightly do you? don';t trust women to do the right thing.

Has nothing to do with "women" making such decisions. Leftist men would often do the same if they were capable of pregnancy. You tell me, what is the correct moral decision regarding the intentional termination of an innocent human life? Because that's what an abortion literally is, and you support a woman's "right" to make that decision. Millions of times, in fact. I wouldn't want to be that guy.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: Even if human life began at conception, as a full individual with rights, that still does not give it the right to attach itself to the body of another person, and maintain that attachment.

I've always been baffled at this argument. If there was an activity Legion could decide to engage in that said "Warning: Doing this has a high possibility of an innocent being attached to your body for nine months", and Legion shrugged and did it anyway, and suddenly One Brow is attached to Legion? Who would actually try to defend Legion if he decided to kill One Brow, given that One Brow had no fault whatsoever in his situation and Legion intentionally chose to engage in that behavior that put One Brow there?

Since free black people could marry, often own property, etc., what is the basis for your comment? I'm not saying your wrong, it just seems counter-intuitive.

Free black people is a very different subject than slaves. Slaves could technically "marry", but those marriages had absolutely no legal standing.

bmiller said...

Who would actually try to defend Legion if he decided to kill One Brow, given that One Brow had no fault whatsoever in his situation and Legion intentionally chose to engage in that behavior that put One Brow there?

Is this before or after you found out how One Brow actually behaves? Asking for a friend. 😉

bmiller said...

I'm sure that Victor could have worded his OP more carefully if he took more time.
As is, he left it unclear if he was basing his reasoning on a strictly philosophical basis, strictly legal basis or was conflating the 2.

For instance, this is the definition of murder:
"the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another."

I have a strong inclination toward these two positions.

1) Abortion is murder.


I assume this means that not only is abortion morally wrong, but is so morally wrong the state should prohibit it.

2) Abortion should be legal.

If abortion is legal, then it is not against the law, and so it would not be murder (since the definition of murder is that it is unlawful).

So I don't think he really means that murder should be legal, because that would be a contradiction in terms.
Which means I think murder should be legal in many cases, that although very wrong, the remedy for it should be moral rather than legal.

I think instead he means that killing the unborn should not be considered murder.

Now the reason he thinks this?
That is because the personhood of the fetus is not provable beyond reasonable doubt,

But reasonable doubt is a legal concept used in trials of established law to determine if the defendant is guilty or innocent of the established law.

So it seems a to me a conflation of applying legal rules of determining guilt or innocence of established law with determining what a law should be in the first place.

Maybe Victor will clarify.

Maybe "personhood" should be the criteria for deciding if the unborn deserve to live or die or maybe not. But if one argues that it should be the criteria, they are obliged to explain exactly what it is and how it can be separated from being a living human and why we should apply this standard.

Only Legion has addressed this issue and his conclusion is that "personhood" is either a mere legal declaration and so morally meaningless and easily changed, or is so philosophically contested that it is too fraught to use as a criteria to base the most fundamental rights of human beings on.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
I've always been baffled at this argument. If there was an activity Legion could decide to engage in that said "Warning: Doing this has a high possibility of an innocent being attached to your body for nine months", and Legion shrugged and did it anyway, and suddenly One Brow is attached to Legion? Who would actually try to defend Legion if he decided to kill One Brow, given that One Brow had no fault whatsoever in his situation and Legion intentionally chose to engage in that behavior that put One Brow there?

In that situation, Legion (you?) does not owe me(?) the continued use of your body for the full 9 months, and should not be legally forced to continue the arrangement, even if separation means my death.

By the way, since you have been at pains to separate the incidental sexism of making abortion illegal from intentional sexism, I am sure you will carefully parse the difference between killing a fetus and simply allowing one to die after separation, or by disallowing attachment?

Free black people is a very different subject than slaves. Slaves could technically "marry", but those marriages had absolutely no legal standing.

So, you are saying that it was not that black people were not persons, just that black slaves were not persons? OK. What's your basis?

bmiller said...

@Joe,

you still have not proven ru486 doesn't prevent fertilization if taken at the right time, so you really don't care about preventing abortion you just want to organize right wing voting.

From the article you provided:
"Neither is the same as the abortion drug RU486, or Mifeprex. That pill isn't considered a contraceptive and isn't covered by the new insurance requirements."

From previous link from drug company that makes RU-486 that was referenced in the Wikipedia article.


"Uses for Mifepristone
Termination of Pregnancy
Termination of intrauterine pregnancy through 49 days of gestation, dated from first day of last menstrual period or determined by clinical examination or ultrasonographic scan.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10 11 19 20 21 22 23 27 Two days after mifepristone, misoprostol must be administered to induce uterine contraction unless complete abortion has been confirmed.1 11 27

Has been used with vaginal† administration of misoprostol for termination of pregnancy;2 10 11 27 however, such use very rarely has resulted in fatal bacterial infection and sepsis.1 33 37 38 39 (See Infection and Sepsis under Cautions.)"


The the companies that make RU-486 say it's an abortion drug and the very article you referenced say it is an abortion drug. Why do you keep saying it isn't?

Joe Hinman said...

You missed my point. I'm saying that using personhood to prove anything is useless. Trying to prove personhood itself is useless beyond seeing what the current legal definition happens to be in a given location. Personhood is not something that actually exists outside of the legal realm, and laws can be changed. If a conservative Supreme Court conferred constitutional rights to the unborn, would you suddenly agree that the unborn magically became something they were not prior to the new law?


That is the ultimate relativism, You have to deny the basis of the gospel if you deny selfhood. How can you have a personal relationship with God if you don't believe in being a person? We have every right to assume we are persons, the issue was you can;t prove a fetus is a person,

But you assert that "human life" is intrinsic but you can't show why, that makes you the relativist.

You and I are living organisms of the Homo sapiens variety. So are the unborn.

Not for about 6 months a fetus is not an organism. It's part of an organism.

If you disagree that an unborn human is alive, human, or an organism, then you might have a case. I look forward to seeing this case made.

You really don;t understand the concept of being and becoming do you?

Or perhaps you deny that human life has intrinsic value?


you don't have the slightest idea what I;ve said. If terminated before it is viable outside the womb it's not the death of a human being, only the negation of poetical human,



Has nothing to do with "women" making such decisions. Leftist men would often do the same if they were capable of pregnancy. You tell me, what is the correct moral decision regarding the intentional termination of an innocent human life? Because that's what an abortion literally is, and you support a woman's "right" to make that decision. Millions of times, in fact. I wouldn't want to be that guy.

That is the one ting feminists insist popup and always have,it's the thing they say the most to deny that it;s about that is just utterly puerile: a woman;s right to choose matters dealing with her own body. You are brain washed


Joe Hinman said...

you still have not proven ru486 doesn't prevent fertilization if taken at the right time, so you really don't care about preventing abortion you just want to organize right wing voting.

From the article you provided:
"Neither is the same as the abortion drug RU486, or Mifeprex. That pill isn't considered a contraceptive and isn't covered by the new insurance requirements."

that is how right to life morons characterize it, I also quot people in that article who said it prevents the cell hooking up, so that cones under the heading of when you take it,I already explained that. try reading the words next time,


besides use the other two drugs it said do that so what;s the big deal? same principle,

Joe Hinman said...


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mifepristone#Emergency_contraception

"Mifepristone is used for emergency contraception.[21][22][23]"

:"Emergency contraception (EC), or emergency postcoital contraception, are birth control measures that may be used after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy."



21= Trussell, James; Cleland, Kelly (February 13, 2013). "Dedicated emergency contraceptive pills worldwide" (PDF). Princeton: Office of Population Research, Princeton University. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-04
22= ICEC (2016). "EC pill types and countries of availability, by brand". New York: International Consortium for Emergency Contraception. Archived from the original on 2016-04-05. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
23= Trussell, James; Raymond, Elizabeth G.; Cleland, Kelly (March 2016). "Emergency Contraception: A Last Chance to Prevent Unintended Pregnancylocation=Princeton" (PDF). Office of Population Research, Princeton University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-09-23. Retrieved 2016-04-07.

bmiller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bmiller said...

@Joe,

that is how right to life morons characterize it,

So you think that the NPR reporter who wrote the story is a "right to life moron"? That's pretty funny.

I also quot people in that article who said it prevents the cell hooking up, so that cones under the heading of when you take it,I already explained that.

No. The quote you selected was not referring to RU-486.

try reading the words next time,

I did and I actually understood the article and what was being discussed in each paragraph.

besides use the other two drugs it said do that so what;s the big deal? same principle,

No, because the other 2 drugs prevent the egg and sperm from meeting while RU-486 works by ensuring the destruction of the newly conceived human. And since the scientific consensus is that human life starts at conception RU-486 is an abortifacient.

You provided an article that demonstrated conclusively that RU-486 is an abortifacient. Thank you.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: In that situation, Legion (you?) does not owe me(?) the continued use of your body for the full 9 months, and should not be legally forced to continue the arrangement, even if separation means my death.

Wow. Well as repulsive as your moral foundation appears to be, at least you display consistency.


By the way, since you have been at pains to separate the incidental sexism

I deny that "incidental sexism" even exists. If it's not bigotry, it's certainly not sexist.


I am sure you will carefully parse the difference between killing a fetus and simply allowing one to die after separation, or by disallowing attachment?

If you're asking if there's a difference between stabbing someone in the neck or intentionally leaving him somewhere to die from exposure or dehydration, then not in my mind.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion, you said that "Her "medical decision" ends another life which is not actually part of her body", which implies that you know something about that woman's body. That's already past the right to privacy. It's her body; she doesn't need to share what's going on with her body to anyone else.

Then, even if she does share that she is pregnant, it's still up to the woman to decide what to do with her body. You might be appalled by her decision, sure, but if you want to argue that what she is going to do is 'ending another life', it's up to you to justify why you think it's a life worth saving that is inside her body. So, again, this specific point is not about whether the woman getting an abortion is correct to do so. It's about the order of the logic which Chad was referring to. He was getting it backward, yet claim that the pro-choice is backward.

Chad Handley said...

"The main question, the first question, is always about the woman's right to choose what to do with her body."

One person's bodily autonomy ends where another person's body begins. Unless you have decisive scientific or philosophical proof that we're only dealing with one body, it is simply question begging to say that the only issue worth discussing is the woman's bodily autonomy. If the fetus constitutes another person, then that person would also have a right to bodily autonomy which would include a right not to be destroyed by his/her mother.

Again, the pro-life position, unlike the pro-choice position, is defensible while making no assumptions that aren't publicly available. The only assumption required is that we don't know for sure that the fetus is not a person. And since we're not sure, we can't kill it.

"If you want to argue against that right, against that principle that applies to literally everything about individuals' privacy and control over their own body, you need to explain why."

No, you need to explain why the fetus does not have that same right. I need only state the obvious: that unless you can PROVE the fetus does NOT have that right, it is not morally permissible to destroy it.

That is the way it works in every other remotely similar situation. If you are about to engage in an action which could kill a person, it is your responsibility to make sure that your act will not kill a person. If you cannot insure that your act will not kill a person, it is not licit, morally or legally, to take that action.

If you demolish a building, and end up killing a person who were still inside of it, you can't go to a judge and say "well obviously I would not have blown up the building if I knew for sure there was a person in the building. But since I wasn't sure there was a person in the building, I felt justified in blowing it up."

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad, you ARE making assumption about what is publicaly available. How can you know whether a woman is pregnant if she doesn't tell you? Don't you realize that over 95% of abortions happen way before there are any signs of pregnancy at all?

You are judging what is inside the woman's body. You want to then prevent her from making a decision about her body because of what's inside her. Again, it's not that you have no good reasons to do so, but that's the correct order. You need to justify why you want that intrusion into someone else's body.

The fact that you keep insisting that it's about an action that will kill a person is a valid argument, which I disagree with, but it doesn't change the order of the logical argument. You want to flip it to 'there's a human inside that woman, tell my why you want to kill it', when it is first and foremost about 'the woman has control over her body, she'll share whatever information she wants to share with the outside world.'

Call this cruel all day if you want, it still doesn't justify your views as the default ones. Again, not that they are wrong, but they are not what comes first if you value liberty and autonomy for all.

Chad Handley said...

"Legion, you said that "Her "medical decision" ends another life which is not actually part of her body", which implies that you know something about that woman's body."

You're avoiding the issue, which is that the pro-life position doesn't require that we "know something" decisively one way or the other about the woman's body or the personhood status of the fetus. All the pro-life position requires is that we don't know that personhood status of the fetus. That is enough to make abortion obviously morally and legally wrong.

There's three states we could be in wrt our knowledge about whether or not the fetus is a person.

1. We're reasonably sure the fetus is not a person.
2. We're reasonably sure the fetus is a person.
3. We're can't reasonably decide whether the fetus is a person.

Abortion would ONLY be permissible if 1 were true. If either 2 or 3 were true, it would be impermissible. I would argue that there is no argument decisive enough to justify 1 or 2. Therefore, 3 obtains. Therefore, abortion is morally impermissible and should be legally impermissible.

Most pro-choice advocates go about their day believing that someone has a decisive argument for 1. But so far as I am aware, no such argument exists.

Legion of Logic said...

Joe: You have to deny the basis of the gospel if you deny selfhood.

I never equated personhood with selfhood. Personhood is a legal concept based on the values of a given culture. That is not the Gospel.

We have every right to assume we are persons, the issue was you can;t prove a fetus is a person

If you define "person" to exclude the unborn, that does make it difficult.

Not for about 6 months a fetus is not an organism. It's part of an organism.

Both statements are false according to science. An embryo is an early stage of an organism's life. And I can be inside something without being part of it. Or are you part of the building you're inside?

You really don;t understand the concept of being and becoming do you?

Becoming old enough to survive outside the womb =/= becoming a human life.

If terminated before it is viable outside the womb it's not the death of a human being, only the negation of poetical human

Viability is an arbitrary criteria. Simply because a given organism is too young to live on it's own doesn't invalidate its life or existence. And since the human life actually exists, it is not potential. It's there, it's alive, and abortion kills it.

a woman;s right to choose matters dealing with her own body.

Feminists use this propaganda to try and control the debate, but I'm under no obligations to give a flying crap what they spout. They are killing something that is NOT part of their bodies, thus it is not simply a decision about their bodies. You call me brainwashed? You don't even question their anti-science propaganda. Get the beam out of your own eye.

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: <> it's up to you to justify why you think it's a life worth saving that is inside her body.

Thank you! Now THIS is something that can be actually debated, and is the true heart of the problem.

The pro-abortion side should not attempt to muddle the waters about the science behind when life begins. Not only do no facts support their position, but it's mainly an attempt to avoid owning up to what Hugo has brought up, the value of human life.

When does a human life have worth, and why? How do we know? Why is what society currently tolerates actually correct?

No one can prove that human life has any value at all, but if someone accepts the premise that it does, but is also pro-abortion, then the burden is on him to demonstrate why arbitrary boundaries - which aren't even demonstrable themselves - are the best standards we have to go by.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,

I do strongly believe in #1 for the first few days after conception. Frankly, it's laughable to think that an embryo is a person. That's the argument. Seriously...

But, it's not simple the more time passes, and that's why I don't find abortion to be an easy call to make the closer we get to #2 or #3.

That being said, you're still not recognizing the order in which we should discuss the right for a woman to choose. You are, again, implying that we know something about the woman's body when you talk about the personhood of the fetus. But you cannot know whether she is pregnant or not unless she decides to mention it. So the question of personhood can only come after she announces she is pregnant.

Your conclusion as to what 'most pro-choice advocate' think is completely wrong. It's first and foremost about the right to choose, not about whether we can determine the personhood of an embryo/zygote/fetus...

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

That's a good assessment yes. But the problem is that I don't want to have to make the decision on behalf of women. We can try to influence their decision, and I think there are lots of grey areas when it comes to abortions precisely because it's difficult to asses whether living things have value at different stages of their development.

As I just mentioned though, it's so absurd to me to claim that an embryo has value. It's really a non-starter...

Chad Handley said...

"I do strongly believe in #1 for the first few days after conception. Frankly, it's laughable to think that an embryo is a person."

That you *think* something is laughable isn't an argument or proof. I don't think it's laughable. I'm prepared to concede that you're right, but only if you present a strong argument that the fetus is not a person the first few days after conception.

Do you have such an argument?

"So the question of personhood can only come after she announces she is pregnant."

?????

We're not talking about any specific woman, we're talking generally about the personhood status of all fetuses at various stages of their development.

I assume you'll grant for the sake of argument that fetuses exist? Then we can skip the pregnancy announcement and go right to asking the question of whether or not fetuses are persons.

" It's first and foremost about the right to choose, not about whether we can determine the personhood of an embryo/zygote/fetus..."

So, you would say that a woman should be able to abort a fetus even if it turns out the fetus is a full-blown person from the moment of conception?

If that's the case, then why not allow for abortion right up to the moment of delivery?

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,

If you call what is present in the woman's body right after conception a 'fetus', then you cannot possible understand arguments related to it because it's the fact that there are literally nothing but just a few molecules that is relevant. If you equate that with a fetus, which is a much more complex thing, you are already not looking at the argument correctly. So, not sure whether that's an argument, I can try to expand more if needed...

Yes, I know you are talking generally about the personhood status of all fetuses, but no, we cannot skip the pregnancy announcement part because that's the main point! Why should a woman have to explain to anyone else what is going on with her body?
Again, you can claim that it's because you care about the fetus, and that would be the correct order of things: you need to justify why you want to impose choices regarding her own body. I am not even trying to argue with you on whether she is right to get an abortion, as it depends on a lot of factors. I am still hung up on your previous claim that the logic is backward on the pro-choice side. It isn't.

Regarding your question about whether we should allow abortion of a 'full-blown person', the answer is obviously 'no'. I don't think we should, and it's complicated to answer based on the stages of development in my opinion. But such question comes AFTER the woman decides to seek advice. That's the correct order.

Will you or will you not recognize that? Because that's what Roe V Wade was about primarily. You can disagree, but it still doesn't change the order of the logical reasoning.

Chad Handley said...

"If terminated before it is viable outside the womb it's not the death of a human being, only the negation of poetical human."

There are a lot of problems with the viability criterion.

First of all, viability is not a measure of a child's personhood so much as it is a measure of the level of medical technology in the society of a child's birth.

It would lead to the implication that white children/ children born in Western societies become persons months before children of color/ children born outside of the West.

Then there's the conjoined twin problem. It is sometimes the case with conjoined twins that one of the siblings could survive separation while the other could not. One of them is therefore not viable without access to the body of the other. Does that mean the non-viable twin is therefore not a person? Should the twin who can survive the separation be allowed to terminate his or her sibling?

Chad Handley said...

Admittedly, I was using the term fetus broadly and imprecisely. I'm not making any claims that an embryo has all the characteristics of a fetus, because all of that is irrelevant to my point.

"Why should a woman have to explain to anyone else what is going on with her body?"

Because there might be two bodies in question, and if there are, one of them is defenseless and cannot speak for itself.

You are begging the question so shamelessly that I can only assume you don't realize you're doing it.

You speak as if you know for sure that we're only dealing with one body and not two. If you know this for sure, tell us how you know.

"Regarding your question about whether we should allow abortion of a 'full-blown person', the answer is obviously 'no'. I don't think we should, and it's complicated to answer based on the stages of development in my opinion. But such question comes AFTER the woman decides to seek advice. That's the correct order. "

I think I get it now. You're confusing temporal order with order of importance. I'm saying that the personhood status of the fetus/embryo is the first in order of importance because it is the overriding consideration. If we knew for sure that the fetus/embryo was a person, all other considerations would be irrelevant. You just admitted as much when you said that abortion would not be permissible if we knew for sure the fetus/embryo was a person.

Until that question is settled, all other questions are beside the point. No justification for abortion, besides the life/health of the mother, would be relevant if it turns out the fetus/embryo is a person from the moment of conception.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
I deny that "incidental sexism" even exists. If it's not bigotry, it's certainly not sexist.

Well, your tag is Legion of Logic, not Legion of Science, and logic has no necessary connection to reality, so I suppose I should not expect you to believe the science on this matter.


If you're asking if there's a difference between stabbing someone in the neck or intentionally leaving him somewhere to die from exposure or dehydration, then not in my mind.

What if you intentionally leave him to die of kidney disease rather than donate your kidney?

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,

You make fair points, but we know, for sure, that there is no body at the moment of conception.

This is why the notion of privacy and choice come first both temporarily and logically. It is the primary driver of the pro-choice position, but you won't acknowledge that point for some reason. It might be because you say that you are broad and imprecise; that's a big problem in my opinion. A couple of cells is so different from a full grown baby that it's absurd to lump these concepts under 'human life'. It's very lazy frankly... but the pro-life position is simplistic anyway so it does fit very well that approach. There is so little nuance!

In other words, you're the one avoiding the tough question of 'when' the couple of cells have multiplied enough to be considered a 'full-blown person' and why you think it's not up to the woman and her doctor to figure that out. You want to judge what's inside that woman's body, and I understand why given that you see a person in there, but it's again jumping from what the woman should decide to what you would decide.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
No, you need to explain why the fetus does not have that same right. I need only state the obvious: that unless you can PROVE the fetus does NOT have that right, it is not morally permissible to destroy it.

Other than a fetus, what human has the moral right to attach themselves to your body in order to stay alive, against your wishes?

Chad Handley said...

"Other than a fetus, what human has the moral right to attach themselves to your body in order to stay alive, against your wishes?"

That's an interesting description of how pregnancy happens. Might want to crack a book on the birds and the bees.

But to answer your question, conjoined twins. As I described above, there are conjoined twins where one sibling is viable on its own and the other is not.

Are you saying the viable twin has the right to terminate the nonviable one?

Chad Handley said...

"You make fair points, but we know, for sure, that there is no body at the moment of conception."

*I* don't know that for sure. If you know that for sure, please tell us how you know.

"This is why the notion of privacy and choice come first both temporarily and logically. It is the primary driver of the pro-choice position, but you won't acknowledge that point for some reason."

Because the right to life is more fundamental than the right to privacy. If the two conflict, the right to privacy must give way.

" A couple of cells is so different from a full grown baby that it's absurd to lump these concepts under 'human life'."

I never used that terminology, I only said that we can't be sure that couple of cells isn't a person with a right to life. And that if we can't be sure, we can't terminate it. I am not the one making claims to knowledge about the metaphysical status of the clump of cells, you are.

And by making the claim, you have adopted a burden. Please present your argument that a couple of cells cannot be a person with a right to life.

Hugo Pelland said...

It's just a couple of cells... QED.

Seriously, I don't get it. It is literally just 2 cells joining together to form 1; it starts dividing following some chemical reactions to form more cells. Is there some mystery? Calling these few cells a 'human life with rights' is just so bizarre.

To be fair, I understand one detail of your position better: you refuse to defend your position that a couple of cells are a person with a right to life because you remain undecided. Correct?

Hugo Pelland said...

Forgot one sentence to wrap the logical deduction... because it makes no sense to call a few cells a 'human life with rights', that's why I take the opposite position, instead of remaining undecided: it is not a human life with rights. It's more or less a deduction by contradiction in a way.

Chad Handley said...

"It's just a couple of cells... QED."

It's a couple of cells that contains a unique genetic code, the complete blueprint for a human being, which no other human ever has or will share. And unlike other cells, it has the potential to grow into a complete physical body.

Is that enough to make it a person? I don't know. But I do know that just repeating the phrase "it's just a couple of cells" is not a decisive argument that it's not a person. I mean is there some specific threshold number of cells that it takes to be a person? If so, how many? And why that number as opposed to one less or one more?

"To be fair, I understand one detail of your position better: you refuse to defend your position that a couple of cells are a person with a right to life because you remain undecided. Correct?"

No, I'm saying that in order to justify a public policy position we have to stick to considerations that are publicly provable.

I believe the fetus/embryo is a person from the moment of conception but I can't prove that, so I don't bring it into the debate. You don't believe the fetus/embryo is a person from the moment of conception, but you can't prove that, so I don't think you should bring it into the debate.

So, what we're left with, in terms of what is publicly demonstrable, is that we cannot be sure to any objective, reasonable degree about the personhood status of the fetus/embryo.

And in that case, abortion cannot be morally permissible.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: Well, your tag is Legion of Logic, not Legion of Science, and logic has no necessary connection to reality, so I suppose I should not expect you to believe the science on this matter.

That which is asserted without evidence...

Sexism is a form of bigotry. Without bigotry, there is no sexism. Please show me the scientific literature stating otherwise. Otherwise literally everything is sexist in some way.

I love how everyone likes to pick on the name, when I picked the name for its initials, not its literal meaning. To not take myself so seriously in these discussions. Sounds like others could use a dose of the same.


What if you intentionally leave him to die of kidney disease rather than donate your kidney?

If I'm the one who gave him the kidney disease through conscious decisions of my own, you better believe I owe him one.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad said:

"It's a couple of cells that contains a unique genetic code, the complete blueprint for a human being, which no other human ever has or will share. And unlike other cells, it has the potential to grow into a complete physical body.

Is that enough to make it a person? I don't know. But I do know that just repeating the phrase "it's just a couple of cells" is not a decisive argument that it's not a person.
"

DNA fetishm. Again and again...
The answer is obviously 'no', it is definitely not enough to make it a person. Yes, I will repeat it: it's just a few cells. This is really a good argument in my opinion because we know so much about these cells; that's why we can say that it's just a few. We know it starts with 2 that merge, that then split following chemical processes. It's a lot more complex than, say, water boiling, but it's just molecules following chemicals laws that apply everywhere. It's fascinating that we can know about all of that stuff, but it doesn't add meaning to the cells just because they are more complicated.

Next, what comes after is completely irrelevant to answering that question:
"I mean is there some specific threshold number of cells that it takes to be a person? If so, how many? And why that number as opposed to one less or one more?"
I don't know... That's a different question; it's a difficult one. I will repeat again: there is no doubt that 1 cell is meaningless. There is no doubt that a fully grown baby is meaningful. The challenge is to figure out when in the development the threshold is met. I really don't know when that is, but it doesn't mean we know nothing at all about what we have at the beginning.

" I believe the fetus/embryo is a person from the moment of conception but I can't prove that, so I don't bring it into the debate. "

But you do bring it up! You insist that we cannot know whether the cells are a person. That's a position you are taking. And it's a position that makes absolutely no sense I light of what we know about biology. I keep asking you to explain it, and you just say that you don't know. Again, it's not that your entire position is stupid; I certainly don't want to imply that, but this thing of always going back to how a unique DNA strand is unique and thus special, or how a few cells may be meaningful is, in fact, silly.

" You don't believe the fetus/embryo is a person from the moment of conception, but you can't prove that"

Yes I can prove that. Same argument again: it's just a few cells! This is seriously the main argument. There is nothing there but a few cells that are following some chemical processes. The fact that we know how all of this work does make a huge difference. We know there is no magic life essence, we know there is nothing special about a random combination of genes, we know that something between 20 and 30% of these new molecules will naturally go away, we know that these cells feel nothing, do nothing but self-reproducing, would not survive 1 minute without their host, and perhaps most importantly of all: you can just do it again and again, every 28 days or so... It's worse than 'perhaps being a person', it's not even a special 'thing'.

bmiller said...

Good luck Chad. You've been very patient.

Hugo Pelland said...

Troll.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
That's an interesting description of how pregnancy happens. Might want to crack a book on the birds and the bees.

Outside of replacing "fetus" with "embryo", what's your objection? Anything besides snide dismissal?

But to answer your question, conjoined twins. As I described above, there are conjoined twins where one sibling is viable on its own and the other is not.

Are you saying the viable twin has the right to terminate the nonviable one?


I am saying that, legally, the viable twin can not be forced to stay in a connected state. They should be separated if the viable twin so chooses. Are you saying that if the viable chooses to separate, they should be jailed? If not, what is the punishment to be?

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
That which is asserted without evidence...

How many different links would you like to scientific studies on the issue? Some are as simple as changing the names on a resume, and recording the results of people's evaluations.

Sexism is a form of bigotry. Without bigotry, there is no sexism.

If you would like to use a different term than "sexism" for the continued downplaying of women's accomplishments, abilities, independence, etc. through bias without malice behind it, I can use that special term for you. On the other hand, if you wish to define away that bias by proclamation, then reality is your enemy, not I.

Please show me the scientific literature stating otherwise. Otherwise literally everything is sexist in some way.

Sure.

Actual bias: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/41/16474
More actual bias: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1018839203698
Men don't believe the bias (unsurprisingly): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4629390/

How many do you need?

I love how everyone likes to pick on the name, when I picked the name for its initials, not its literal meaning. To not take myself so seriously in these discussions. Sounds like others could use a dose of the same.

It's easy for we men to not take sexism seriously. However, I think you for that knowledge. My handle is actually a nickname I was given in college some 30 years ago, and is also a reminder not to take myself seriously.

If I'm the one who gave him the kidney disease through conscious decisions of my own, you better believe I owe him one.

Except, he did not exist at the time you undertook said action.

Should you be legally required to donate your kidney? Should you be jailed, or otherwise prosecuted, if you refuse?

David Brightly said...

Given that personhood is the critical property here, Chad argues that as we don't know when a foetus becomes a person we should adopt a precautionary principle, just as when, if we don't know if a building is empty of persons or not, we shouldn't blow it up. But whether a building contains a person is an empirical question and we can agree on a procedure for answering it correctly. Not so whether a foetus is a person. This seems a metaphysical question, or maybe just a conceptual one, and doesn't seem to have a 'right' answer in the same sense.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: How many different links would you like to scientific studies on the issue? Some are as simple as changing the names on a resume, and recording the results of people's evaluations.

I never denied unconscious bias. I'm asking for scientific studies demonstrating that simply because a given action, statement, policy, etc happens to have a disproportionate impact on a given demographic, it is a form of bigotry, in this case sexism.

Should you be legally required to donate your kidney? Should you be jailed, or otherwise prosecuted, if you refuse?

If I'm responsible for his existence due to my informed decisions, and the way to shirk that responsibility is to intentionally kill him, that does seem to be a bit of a giant douchebag maneuver at the very best, wouldn't you say?

Hugo Pelland said...

David,

"Chad argues that as we don't know when a foetus becomes a person we should adopt a precautionary principle"

That part is fine, yes. But that doesn't mean we know nothing about whether 2 cells are a person. The uncertainty isn't that large.
Plus, I was thinking about how it's actually worse than that:

Chad asked above about whether "there some specific threshold number of cells that it takes to be a person? If so, how many? And why that number as opposed to one less or more?" and I don't claim to know that because the question is relevant much later. But it can be turned around too: when is conception exactly? What's the specific threshold?

Is it when the spermatazeo touches the egg? When the membrane opens? When the genes are close enough? After the membranes close again? After the first cell divison?

See, it is all a continuous process. That's the point. Placing a clear line somewhere is the problem. It's not that simple. But it doesn't mean we have no clue where a line should be, and around conception is absurd.

So again, because we do know though about that process. And because a couple of cells with a new combination of genes is meaningless, we can be safe in asserting that there's no 'person' being killed when an embryo is destroyed.

Now, to wrap this up with what Legion last said: yes, the woman is the cause of that new embryo, but she's also the only one who should make the call as it's her body. To try to flip this around and force her to justify her decision to others imply that others know better about where the comples grey area of personhood is, but it isn't, and her rights thus come first, logically.

bmiller said...

@David,

This seems a metaphysical question, or maybe just a conceptual one, and doesn't seem to have a 'right' answer in the same sense.

I think Chad's example is to show that one should error on the side of precaution in the absence of empirical evidence. In other words, one must prove to reasonable people that the building was empty when you demolished it.

Now I think you are correct that there is no empirical measurement of "personhood" but the precautionary principle should still apply. If reasonable people disagree about personhood, it is immoral to kill something that may be a person.

Do you disagree?

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
You're asking David but I would say that's a good summary.
But the problem is still whether that cautionary principle should apply at all times, from conception to birth, and who should weight in.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

I'd rather you wait for Chad to reply. Maybe you convinced him you are right.
I already know your position.

I'm interested in David's thoughts.


One Brow said...

Blogger Legion of Logic said...
I never denied unconscious bias.

OK. So, what is your preferred term for "the unconscious bias that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to the continuing undervaluing of women"? For many people, that term is "sexism", while bigotry against women is "misogyny".

If I'm responsible for his existence due to my informed decisions, and the way to shirk that responsibility is to intentionally kill him, that does seem to be a bit of a giant douchebag maneuver at the very best, wouldn't you say?

Absolutely. I am firmly in the "every abortion is a tragedy" camp. I am also in the "enforced servitude" is a tragedy camp. Primarily, I am arguing that abortions should be legal, not that they are moral.

Chad Handley said...

Hugo, let's try this. Why don't you try to define what essential qualities make an entity a person, and then explain why the embryo/fetus lacks those qualities.

Unless you define being a person as having a certain number of cells, simply repeating that the embryo is only a couple of cells isn't relevant.

One Brow:

"Outside of replacing "fetus" with "embryo", what's your objection?"

That your description made it sound as though embryos are hiding in alleys waiting to pounce on unsuspecting women and insert themselves unbidden into their uteruses.

Most women have a hand in their own pregnancies.

"I am saying that, legally, the viable twin can not be forced to stay in a connected state."

Are you stating your opinion here or are you actually citing some existing law?

I find it hard to believe that a doctor would perform the separation, over the tearful, pleading objections of the non-viable twin begging for her life.

"Are you saying that if the viable chooses to separate, they should be jailed?"

Yes. For murder.

I admit to being a bit puzzled here, because I intended this to be a reductio. I just thought it obvious that a being that was conscious, and could feel pain, had hopes and aspirations, and which could literally beg for its life, was a person with a right to life. But you disagree?

David:

"Given that personhood is the critical property here, Chad argues that as we don't know when a foetus becomes a person we should adopt a precautionary principle, just as when, if we don't know if a building is empty of persons or not, we shouldn't blow it up. But whether a building contains a person is an empirical question and we can agree on a procedure for answering it correctly. Not so whether a foetus is a person. This seems a metaphysical question, or maybe just a conceptual one, and doesn't seem to have a 'right' answer in the same sense."

And how does that change the moral calculus? Whether it's an empirical question or a metaphysical one, we still don't know if the embryo/fetus is a person. So, we can't destroy it.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: OK. So, what is your preferred term for "the unconscious bias that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to the continuing undervaluing of women"?

I don't know. Guess I would call it unconscious bias? It's not what I'm talking about, so I'm not too concerned over it.

I'm simply saying that something that just so happens to impact a given demographic more than other is not inherently bigoted in any manner. There has to be some form of bias, conscious or otherwise, in play for bigotry to be involved. Name any policy ever made, and we could find some way that it impacts certain demographics more than others. Doesn't make the policy flawed, let alone bigoted.

Primarily, I am arguing that abortions should be legal, not that they are moral.

Fair enough.

bmiller said...

I find it hard to believe that a doctor would perform the separation, over the tearful, pleading objections of the non-viable twin begging for her life.

Especially since they would "unjoin" themselves naturally within a matter of months.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
That your description made it sound as though embryos are hiding in alleys waiting to pounce on unsuspecting women and insert themselves unbidden into their uteruses.

For the women using birth control, it can feel like that, even when they would never consider an abortion (my wife was quite surprised at our last two, as we were using two forms of birth control). You've never realized how apt that description can be?

Are you stating your opinion here or are you actually citing some existing law?

The Thirteenth Amendment, at least in spirit. Have you ever heard of someone being forced to donate any part of their body for anything?

I find it hard to believe that a doctor would perform the separation, over the tearful, pleading objections of the non-viable twin begging for her life.

Depends on the doctor.

"Are you saying that if the viable chooses to separate, they should be jailed?"

Yes. For murder.


So, one twin must enslave to the needs of the other?

I admit to being a bit puzzled here, because I intended this to be a reductio.

Life is funny that way. I see it as steel-manning, and working in the opposite direction.

I just thought it obvious that a being that was conscious, and could feel pain, had hopes and aspirations, and which could literally beg for its life, was a person with a right to life. But you disagree?

I see a difference between "right to life" and "right to make use of someone else's body in order to live". Where does the second right stop, in your view? If I need a kidney to live, and you are a match, am I entitled to help myself to yours, or just to strap my bloodstream into yours for your kidneys to filter?

David Brightly said...

Chad frames the problem as if there were a fact of the matter as to whether a certain foetus is a person, just as there is a fact of the matter as to whether a building contains a person. It’s just that we don’t know. But it’s not clear to me that in the case of the foetus there is such a fact. Unlike the building there is no procedure by which we could find out one way or the other. This comes down to the woolliness of our conception of personhood. I agree that it would be wrong to demolish the house because it's true that there might be a person in it. But if there isn't a fact of the matter as to the foetus being a person we cannot truly say that it might be a person.

One Brow said...

I don't know. Guess I would call it unconscious bias? It's not what I'm talking about, so I'm not too concerned over it.

It is what I am talking about, and with the plethora of types of unconscious bias that any human possesses regarding gender, height, ability, race, accent, etc., I find "unconscious bias" to be a little too broad for accurate discussion.

Name any policy ever made, and we could find some way that it impacts certain demographics more than others. Doesn't make the policy flawed, let alone bigoted.

We've already agreed unconscious bias is not bigotry, have we not?

However, the prevalence of the the unconscious bias that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to the continuing undervaluing of women means that when we see policies that uniquely and negatively affect women, we have to be wary of our dismissal of the consequences being enabled by our the unconscious biases that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to the continuing undervaluing of women. Further, since patriarchal religions were steeped in the bias that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to the continuing undervaluing of women, we also need to consider whether using these religions as a guide does not also contribute to the unconscious bias that reinforces gender stereotypes and leads to the continuing undervaluing of women.

Get's a little wordy there. You sure you don't want to use a shorter word/phrase?

bmiller said...

This comes down to the woolliness of our conception of personhood.

Spot on. I wonder if anyone disagrees that personhood is ill defined. Pretty bad idea to end up killing someone because he was thought not to have Neoskizzle (a word I generated from this site).

Chad Handley said...

"The Thirteenth Amendment, at least in spirit."

Okay, let's follow your logic here and assume for the sake of argument that the viable conjoined twin is in effect enslaved by the nonviable conjoined twin. And everyone has a right to not be enslaved.

On the other hand, I assume you would agree that the nonviable conjoined twin is alive, and is a person. And every person has a right to life.

So, it seems like we have two rights here which are in conflict. In which case, we should decide the issue based on which right is more fundamental - the right to not be enslaved, or the right to life.

It seems to me that the right to life is more fundamental to the right to not be enslaved, and so it seems obvious to me that the viable conjoined twin cannot engage in an act which will kill the nonviable twin.

"Have you ever heard of someone being forced to donate any part of their body for anything?"

Have you ever heard of someone being allowed to kill another person because they don't want to donate part of their body?

You're quite right that even parents aren't forced to donate organs to their terminally ill children. The parent is free to allow the child to die of his disease, however the parent is not allowed to engage in an act which will intentionally kill the child. You can decide not to give your child a kidney, you cannot puncture the back of your child's skull and push a pair of forceps through his brain, or dissolve your child's entire body in a vat of saline because you don't want to give him your kidney.

Abortive procedures do not merely remove the fetus/embryo from the womb, they destroy the fetus/embryo. That's where the "organ donation" analogy breaks down.

"Depends on the doctor."

You're right. Not all doctors are moral people. Some might be perfectly willing to kill an innocent person for enough money.

"So, one twin must enslave to the needs of the other?"

You'd prefer that one twin be allowed to murder the other?

There's no good option here. Either one twin will be "enslaved" or one twin will be murdered.

Murder is worse.

"I see a difference between "right to life" and "right to make use of someone else's body in order to live". Where does the second right stop, in your view?"

In the case of the conjoined twins, it doesn't stop, unfortunately. In the case of the pregnant woman, it stops after about 9 months.

"If I need a kidney to live, and you are a match, am I entitled to help myself to yours, or just to strap my bloodstream into yours for your kidneys to filter?"

No, but likewise, I am not allowed to engage in an act which will kill you simply because I don't want you to have use of my kidneys.

You speak as though abortions amounted to fetal transplants from one unwilling uterus to a willing one. If that was the case, I'd be all for abortions.

But this "organ donation" analogy is not apt because abortions don't evict fetuses or transplant them or even simply remove them. They destroy them.



Chad Handley said...

"Chad frames the problem as if there were a fact of the matter as to whether a certain foetus is a person, just as there is a fact of the matter as to whether a building contains a person. It’s just that we don’t know. But it’s not clear to me that in the case of the foetus there is such a fact. Unlike the building there is no procedure by which we could find out one way or the other."

There's no procedure by which we could find out whether you have a right to life one way or the other, either. Should we therefore just throw up our hands and assume you don't?

When it comes to rights, we are talking about unprovable metaphysical concepts whether we're applying them to fetuses or to you or me.

If we throw the concept of personhood rights out for the fetus due to a lack of procedure, we have to throw them out for the rest of us as well.

One Brow said...

Blogger Chad Handley said...
So, it seems like we have two rights here which are in conflict.

I agree.

In which case, we should decide the issue based on which right is more fundamental - the right to not be enslaved, or the right to life.

That's one way. Another is to decide that my right to swing my fist stops at where your nose starts. My exercise of my rights should not be to the detriment of your exercise of your rights.

You're quite right that even parents aren't forced to donate organs to their terminally ill children.

OK.

Abortive procedures do not merely remove the fetus/embryo from the womb, they destroy the fetus/embryo. That's where the "organ donation" analogy breaks down.

Most abortions are early abortions. Early abortion remove the embryo without taking it apart first, either by inducing miscarriage or simply "vacuuming" it out.

https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/early-abortion-options/


Not all doctors are moral people.

Or, they choose to orient their morality on individual rights in these cases.

You'd prefer that one twin be allowed to murder the other?

I reject the dichotomy. Separation is not murder.

There's no good option here. Either one twin will be "enslaved" or one twin will be murdered.

If we give the viable twin a choice, almost all of them will choose to remain conjoined (as has happened historically). Instead of a slave, he makes a noble sacrifice.

"I see a difference between "right to life" and "right to make use of someone else's body in order to live". Where does the second right stop, in your view?"

In the case of the conjoined twins, it doesn't stop, unfortunately.


I meant in principle, not temporally.

No, but likewise, I am not allowed to engage in an act which will kill you simply because I don't want you to have use of my kidneys.

So, you also see a difference between "right to life" and "right to make use of someone else's body in order to live". Is the primary difference for you the existing attachment versus a not-yet existing attachment? The family relationship?

You speak as though abortions amounted to fetal transplants from one unwilling uterus to a willing one.

No, I ws just checking to see if you acknowledged some limit on one person's right to use another person's body for preservation of life.

Chad Handley said...

"That's one way. Another is to decide that my right to swing my fist stops at where your nose starts. My exercise of my rights should not be to the detriment of your exercise of your rights."

You do realize that's going to happen no matter what. When two rights are in conflict, one right is not going to be able to be exercised.

So, you actually have not cited another way. You have simply chosen to ignore the rights of the person you have chosen not to sympathize with. You are simply choosing to ignore the nonviable twin's right to life.

"Most abortions are early abortions. Early abortion remove the embryo without taking it apart first, either by inducing miscarriage or simply "vacuuming" it out."

Fair enough, then allow me to revise my analogy. It's like taking out a child and leaving it to die of exposure, rather than violently killing it. You're not allowed to do that to your child, either.

Out of curiosity, would you favor outlawing abortive procedures that destroy a fetus?

"Or, they choose to orient their morality on individual rights in these cases."

There are two people here both of whom have individual rights.

At this point I have to ask - do you not consider the nonviable twin to be a person?

Or do you just consider him to be less of a person than the viable twin?

Do you think all people who are not fully viable on their own - dialysis patients, for example - are lesser persons?

"I reject the dichotomy. Separation is not murder."

Deliberately engaging in an act which you know will kill an innocent person is catergorized as murder or manslaughter everywhere in America. It's called depraved indifference murder or depraved heart murder:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depraved-heart_murder

If you knowingly kill a nonviable conjoined twin, you can have a philosophical debate with your cellmates about how YOU don't think it was murder. But the law disagrees.

"So, you also see a difference between "right to life" and "right to make use of someone else's body in order to live". Is the primary difference for you the existing attachment versus a not-yet existing attachment?"

No, it's the whole "killing the other person" thing that you can't seem to wrap your head around.

You can deny another person the use of your body, unless doing so requires you making an action that causes the death of another person.

Separating from a nonviable conjoined twin will kill them. They won't die of any preexisting condition, they will die as a result of the positive act of the separation surgery.

Separating an embryo from a mother will kill it. They won't die of any natural condition, they will die as a result of the positive action of the mother to remove it.

By contrast, my denying you a kidney will not kill you; your kidney disease will.

See the difference?

"No, I ws just checking to see if you acknowledged some limit on one person's right to use another person's body for preservation of life."

No one has a right to use anyone else's body for any reason. That is the right of autonomy.

However, a more fundamental right is, no one has the right to kill another person. That is the right to life.

The right to life is more fundamental than ANY other right, so whenever there is a conflict between the right to life and any other right, the right to life should always be favored.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad Handley said...
"The right to life is more fundamental than ANY other right, so whenever there is a conflict between the right to life and any other right, the right to life should always be favored."
Sure, but why would a few human cells have any rights at all?

Now, going back up to your previous points:
"Hugo, let's try this. Why don't you try to define what essential qualities make an entity a person, and then explain why the embryo/fetus lacks those qualities."
I don't see things, at least not the ones we are discussing here, in these black & white terms. So, again, I can only repeat what I believe is self-evident:
- A fully grown baby is a person
- An embryo is not a person
Then, my opinion, regarding where the line is, is: I don't know.
To use the cautionary principle mentioned many times here, I would say that we need to be more and more careful the more the fetus develops into a full baby. But when it's still considered just to be an embryo, no way that's a person...

Therefore, it follows that the answer to this:
"Unless you define being a person as having a certain number of cells, simply repeating that the embryo is only a couple of cells isn't relevant."
is that it is indeed relevant. And I will go further than that: it's the notion of 'conception' that is irrelevant. I will repeat the comment above that you have not addressed yet (I know there's a lot of stuff here...)

When is conception exactly? What's the specific threshold?
Is it when the spermatozoon touches the egg? When the membrane opens? When the genes are close enough? After the membranes close again? After the first cell division?

One more analogy to illustrate the disconnect:
- Someone who is 6 years old is a child
- Someone who is 60 years old is an adult
- When did the 60 year-old turn into an adult exactly?
What you are asking me here is to tell you exactly when I think a child is turning into an adult. I can't do that. Then, because I cannot do that, you claim that the child might be an adult. Isn't absurd to claim that a 6yo is an adult? Do we really need to list all the characteristics of what an adult is to conclude that a 6yo isn't one?
And obviously, I am not talking about the 18-yo birthday here, and it's actually interesting to point out that this number could be 21 if we want to talk about alcohol or 16 for driving, for example, so it really works well as an analogy. It's a social convention that there is such a thing as a child, a teenager, an adult. They are continuously the same thing, yet they have different rights and responsibilities.

Regarding another comment you made:
"If we throw the concept of personhood rights out for the fetus due to a lack of procedure, we have to throw them out for the rest of us as well."
Time to remind you that the pro-choice argument does not start with the notion of personhood, right? It is not even relevant in my opinion; the only reason why we have to discuss personhood is because of this extension of the definition of a 'person' all the way back to 'conception', which is not even defined clearly.
But I won't add more on that front; One Brow has been presenting good arguments as to why the right to control your own body comes first.

Victor Reppert said...

In the context of moral choice, I am inclined toward pro-life. If there is any chance that something being killed is a person, we should refrain. When it comes to using the force of the criminal law to punish people who perform such actions, ideally I think it might be good to do that, but it seems extremely difficult in American to put abortion restrictions back in place after they have been eliminated by 45 years of settled Constitutional law. Ought all persons, regardless of their metaphysical world-view, to believe that fetuses have the same rights as infants? Would we even prevent abortions if we outlawed them? Would an abortion ban even be enforceable? There are so many things not being done that could be done in the interests of fetuses that I have serious doubts that this is the efficient way to save babies, especially in light of the Constitutional barriers put up by the Supreme Court.

I think the only way to do it is through a constitutional amendment, or making the case in court that fetuses should be regarded as persons. And starting with the dissent from Roe v. Wade, I have never seen conservatives do this. I don't think you can get to a rollback of abortion right the way conservatives want to do it, which is to use a "strict constructionist" argument that the right to privacy, which is supposed to overrule the fetus's right to life because we certain of the right to privacy but not certain of the fetus's right to life. Starting with Rehnquist in his dissent from Roe, and going through Scalia's comments against Roe, the judicial argument seems to be against the right of privacy instead of in favor of the right to life.

I was surprised to find a total lack of pro-life arguments in the arguments against Roe v. Wade. In fact, I find if bizarre. What that means, as I see it, is that there are no real pro-life justices, just justices that might rule in a way that is convenient for the pro-life movement, and these are two different things. If Roe is overturned by justices in the Rehnquist-Scalia mold (and I think if Kavanaugh opposes Roe, these are the grounds he will use), it would, of course be convenient for pro-lifers. But I find the attacks on the countervailing right of privacy to be wildly plausible.

Dave Duffy said...

Visit a Pregnancy Care Center and see for yourself what people are doing to limit the amount of murder.

bmiller said...

Victor,

Why do you even post this type of thing? You have given no indication that you are inclined toward pro-life. If you were you would write at least something defending the position.

In this very post you are telling pro-life people to give it up, there is no hope. Along with telling us that maybe we shouldn't disagree with those who want to kill the unborn.

Maybe you think occasionally linking to a pro-life article gives your claim credibility, but I've never seen you ever argue against abortion yourself. Am I wrong? I'd be happy to be shown I'm wrong. Please give me your best defense of the unborn.

Hugo Pelland said...

Just had a quick conversation about that topic by coincidence. My friend mentioned how she is against abortion herself; she even switched the type of IUD she uses because she felt a bit uneasy with the previous version who doesn't prevent conception completely. However, she is entirely pro-choice politically, which is close to Victor's position expressed here. And the argument for that isn't related that much about her stance on abortion, so that's why, like Victor, she wouldn't try ti argue much about why she's pro-life; it's just how she feels about it.

At the end of the day, what she finds to be the worst is all these old white males trying to decide what women can and cannot do with their bodies... (her words) and that's the most common line among women I believe. I'm not saying it's the most rational approach, but it's always going to be the most important thing for women, so of course it won't be that much about the personhood of some potential human; it's really about privacy and autonomy.

David Brightly said...

Chad says above, 2:42 PM, When it comes to rights, we are talking about unprovable metaphysical concepts whether we're applying them to fetuses or to you or me. All the more reason I'd say for eschewing talk of metaphysical rights altogether. Legal rights are another thing.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
You do realize that's going to happen no matter what. When two rights are in conflict, one right is not going to be able to be exercised.

So, you actually have not cited another way. You have simply chosen to ignore the rights of the person you have chosen not to sympathize with. You are simply choosing to ignore the nonviable twin's right to life.


I find your analysis of my sympathies amusing. I'm also not sure I agree that a right to life is more fundamental than right to autonomy.

Fair enough, then allow me to revise my analogy. It's like taking out a child and leaving it to die of exposure, rather than violently killing it. You're not allowed to do that to your child, either.

I agree. You are allowed to abandon your child to the state, though. There is no equivalent option for embryos. If there were, I would support it.

Out of curiosity, would you favor outlawing abortive procedures that destroy a fetus?

I don't think you were commenting here the last time I mentioned this, but I would be in favor of a "live removal" statue for any viable fetus, as in, the pregnancy can terminated any time the woman chooses, but any viable fetus should be removed alive.

There are two people here both of whom have individual rights.

Neither with the right to impose themself on the other.

At this point I have to ask - do you not consider the nonviable twin to be a person?

Yes.

Or do you just consider him to be less of a person than the viable twin?

No.

Do you think all people who are not fully viable on their own - dialysis patients, for example - are lesser persons?

No.

If you knowingly kill a nonviable conjoined twin, you can have a philosophical debate with your cellmates about how YOU don't think it was murder. But the law disagrees.

Are you a lawyer? If so, I would be interested in the actual legal statues, and how they are interpreted.

In the wiki description, and in the examples provided, the murder has to cause the death of the victim. In the case of the separated twins, the cause of the death is the non-viability of one of the twins.

"So, you also see a difference between "right to life" and "right to make use of someone else's body in order to live". Is the primary difference for you the existing attachment versus a not-yet existing attachment?"

No, it's the whole "killing the other person" thing that you can't seem to wrap your head around.


So, when I say, "you will kill me by denying me your kidney", you become a murderer.

You can deny another person the use of your body, unless doing so requires you making an action that causes the death of another person.

So, it's the preexisting state of connection that matters?

What if I knock you out, and then connect us? Should the disconnection kill me, are you required to keep that connection the rest of your life?

Separating from a nonviable conjoined twin will kill them. They won't die of any preexisting condition, they will die as a result of the positive act of the separation surgery.

Actually, they die from the condition that made them non-viable.

Separating an embryo from a mother will kill it. They won't die of any natural condition, they will die as a result of the positive action of the mother to remove it.

By contrast, my denying you a kidney will not kill you; your kidney disease will.

See the difference?


Sure, I'm curious if you are now willing to follow it all the way, or if you are going to carve out some special exemption for my question above.

No one has a right to use anyone else's body for any reason. That is the right of autonomy.

Unless they have attached themselves to another person.

Chad Handley said...

"Neither with the right to impose themself on the other."

And neither with the right to kill the other.

You are obviously an intelligent person. Are you not embarrassed at this point by the lengths you have to go to avoid acknowledging the right to live of the nonviable twin?

"Are you a lawyer? If so, I would be interested in the actual legal statues, and how they are interpreted."

I don't need to be a lawyer to know that you cannot engage in an action which you know ahead of time will lead to the death of an innocent person.

"In the case of the separated twins, the cause of the death is the non-viability of one of the twins."

No, because the nonviable twin would have lived if the action to separate them had not been taken. So, it was the action of separating them that killed him.

Again, you are an intelligent person, so there's no way you're not grasping this.

You are allowed to take no action to save a person, even if you know your not taking an action means that a person will die.

You are not allowed to take an action which you know will lead to an innocent person's death.

"What if I knock you out, and then connect us? Should the disconnection kill me, are you required to keep that connection the rest of your life?"

No, because that would be an assault. That would be a matter of a person deliberately attempting to cause me harm for their own benefit. In that case, you have a right of self-defense to extricate yourself from an attacker who threatens your life by any means.

"So, it's the preexisting state of connection that matters?"

No. There's nothing exotic going on here. We're just dealing with the simple, common legal matter of intent.

The fetus has no malice aforethought, it has no intent to "attach itself" to a woman's body. The nonviable twin has no malice aforethought, it has no intent to "attach itself" to a viable twin's body.

But if you knocked me out and connected yourself to me, you had malice aforethought and intent to do me bodily harm. You are committing an unwarranted unprovoked assault, and I have the righto defend myself.

Consider that, in your argument, you have to resort to attributing intent to innocent people (the fetus, the nonviable conjoined twin) to justify killing them.

That should give you pause.


Chad Handley said...

David Brightly:

"All the more reason I'd say for eschewing talk of metaphysical rights altogether. Legal rights are another thing."

And what would be the basis of those legal rights? Majority rule?

So, it would be fine if white people gave themselves legal rights and denied giving any of those rights to minorities?

If legal rights have no transcendent basis in metaphysical human rights, there's no reason to think they should be equally available for everyone. Whoever has the power to impose those legal rights would decide who gets them.

Chad Handley said...

Hugo:

"Sure, but why would a few human cells have any rights at all?"

Because those cells might, for all we know, constitute a person.

"But when it's still considered just to be an embryo, no way that's a person..."

It's clear you're sure about that. But it should also be clear by now that your personal certitude is not the least bit convincing to anyone else.

Again, public policy should be determined by what is publicly provable. You cannot prove, or frankly, even advance a cogent argument, that the embryo is not a person.

You're welcome to hold your belief with a tenacity that far outstrips your ability to prove it if you want to. But your unprovable beliefs should no more enter into public policy on the matter of abortion than the unprovable beliefs of Catholics or Protestants on the opposite side.

"When is conception exactly? What's the specific threshold?"

I'm sure there's a technical definition for when conception occurs but I don't know enough about the science to say.

Why would this be relevant? There's no way an abortion could occur before conception, however it is conceived.

You seem to be desperately grasping at straws here.

"What you are asking me here is to tell you exactly when I think a child is turning into an adult. I can't do that."

I can. LEGALLY, all things being equal (if you're of sound mind, etc) you're an adult when you're 18. The law says so. Explicitly.

That you can drive when you're 16 simply means you don't have to be an adult to drive. That you can't drink until you're 21 means you don't get to drink legally just because you're an adult.

But the law is pretty clear on when a person becomes an adult.

METAPHYSICALLY, you're an adult when you're able to take responsibility for your own decisions. That may come earlier for some than for others, but it's pretty easy for me to come up with a solid criterion for adulthood.

Let me help you out by suggesting some possible criteria for personhood. Some that have been put forth are viability, consciousness, ability to feel pain/loss, etc.

However, he problem with all of the possible criteria for personhood that have been produces is that they disqualify as persons human beings whom we all believe to be persons.

No one has yet come up with a satisfactory criteria for personhood that excludes embryos that doesn't also exclude known persons.

That's the problem with just flippantly saying you "know" a group of cells isn't a person. No, you FEEL that a group of cells isn't a person. You may even feel it very strongly. But feelings are not knowledge.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
You are obviously an intelligent person. Are you not embarrassed at this point by the lengths you have to go to avoid acknowledging the right to live of the nonviable twin?

Having never denied the right to life of the non-viable twin, your point is moot.

I don't need to be a lawyer to know that you cannot engage in an action which you know ahead of time will lead to the death of an innocent person.

I am also not a lawyer, but the difference between "lead to" and "cause" sounds like something a lawyer would think is relevant.

Again, you are an intelligent person, so there's no way you're not grasping this.

I'm sure you are intelligent enough to the difference between "understanding" and "agreeing".

No, because that would be an assault. That would be a matter of a person deliberately attempting to cause me harm for their own benefit. In that case, you have a right of self-defense to extricate yourself from an attacker who threatens your life by any means.

1) Why the assumption that my connection to you is harmful to you? Does you position change if the connection poses no threat to your life?
2) If you are already connected, how is it self-defense to remove the connection?
3) What if, without my knowledge or consent, some third party connected us? Does self-defense still apply?
4) Your entire case has been founded on the supremacy of the right to life over all other rights. Are you now asserting that the right to self-dense, in a situation that is not life-threatening to you, is now supreme over my right to life?

No. There's nothing exotic going on here. We're just dealing with the simple, common legal matter of intent.

The fetus has no malice aforethought, it has no intent to "attach itself" to a woman's body. The nonviable twin has no malice aforethought, it has no intent to "attach itself" to a viable twin's body.

But if you knocked me out and connected yourself to me, you had malice aforethought and intent to do me bodily harm. You are committing an unwarranted unprovoked assault, and I have the righto defend myself.


I believe you are allowed to defend yourself even in situations where there is no legal intent. If a drunk/insane man is randomly firing a gun, I'm pretty sure you allowed to defend yourself, absent their intent. So, intent will not save you there. Also, see question #3 above.

Consider that, in your argument, you have to resort to attributing intent to innocent people (the fetus, the nonviable conjoined twin) to justify killing them.

I did not bring up the subject of intent; you inserted intent to try to justify taking a different position for my attaching myself to you, versus an embryo or a conjoined twin being attached. I don't think intent is relevant.

bmiller said...

@Chad,

Thanks for remaining remarkably patient. Hat's off to you.

wise son said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad Handley said...

"Having never denied the right to life of the non-viable twin, your point is moot."

I didn't say you denied it, I said you are avoiding acknowledging it.

Which you are, so the point stands.

"I am also not a lawyer, but the difference between "lead to" and "cause" sounds like something a lawyer would think is relevant."

It's relevant as to whether you go to jail for murder or manslaughter, but that you're going to jail is a foregone conclusion.

I mean, are you actually disputing that it's against the law to knowingly take an action which will lead to the death of an innocent person?

Take a second and reflect on the fact that this is the position you are defending.

"1) Why the assumption that my connection to you is harmful to you? Does you position change if the connection poses no threat to your life?"

The connection happened after you knocked me out, which is harmful to me.

How would I know this connection isn't harmful to me? I'd take the word of a person who knocked me out to connect himself to me without my consent?

"2) If you are already connected, how is it self-defense to remove the connection?"

Putting your hands on a person without their consent is an assault. So the act of connecting would constitute an assault, and the continued connection would constitute an ongoing assault. You have the right to defend yourself from an assault.

"3) What if, without my knowledge or consent, some third party connected us? Does self-defense still apply?"

Yes. Someone would be using you to assault me, and I have the right to defend myself from that assault.

"4) Your entire case has been founded on the supremacy of the right to life over all other rights. Are you now asserting that the right to self-dense, in a situation that is not life-threatening to you, is now supreme over my right to life?"

A person under a deliberate and serious assault by another is entitled, within reason, to presume their life is in danger. The legal statute is a reasonable fear that your life is in danger.

If a woman slaps me, I cannot shoot her and reasonably claim I feared for my life.

If a person knocks me out and subjects me to major surgery to connect me to another human being while I am unconscious, I can sever that connection and reasonably claim I did so out of fear for my life.

"I believe you are allowed to defend yourself even in situations where there is no legal intent. If a drunk/insane man is randomly firing a gun, I'm pretty sure you allowed to defend yourself, absent their intent."

They did intend to do something which THEY KNEW BEFOREHAND *could* cause a person's death. They don't need to intend to kill you specifically in order to be guilty of intending to commit an act which could kill.

So let me apply the principle of charity here and help you with your argument. Let's say the person had a seizure that caused them to fire off the gun involuntarily. They had no intent to fire the gun, but they couldn't help it.

In that case, you would be allowed to defend yourself, because you have the right to defend yourself from assault.

But where does this analogy get you?

(Continued...)

Chad Handley said...

I would of course agree that, in the case of an ektopic pregnancy, where the woman's life is in danger, she should be allowed to abort. The overwhelming majority of pro-life advocates would make an exception for the life/health of the mother. Likewise, if the viable twin was going to die as a result of the connection, but could be saved by severing the connection, I would be in favor of separating them.

But this has nothing to do with the cases where the life of the mother is not threatened by the pregnancy and the life of the viable twin is not threatened by her connection to the nonviable twin.

Under some circumstances, you are allowed to take an action that will lead to someone's death to save your own life. You are not allowed to take an action that will lead to someone's death to prevent yourself from suffering hardship.

"I did not bring up the subject of intent; you inserted intent to try to justify taking a different position for my attaching myself to you, versus an embryo or a conjoined twin being attached. I don't think intent is relevant."

When you talk about embryos "attaching themselves" to women, or about nonviable conjoined twins "attaching themselves" to viable twins, you are smuggling in the concept of intent.

Embryos don't "attach themselves" to their mothers. Their mothers engage in an action that could result in an embryo, through no fault of its own, becoming attached to their mother's womb.

Nonviable conjoined twins do not "attach themselves" to their viable siblings. They find themselves in that condition through no fault of their own.

David Brightly said...

Chad asks (8:56 AM), What [in the absence of metaphysical rights] would be the basis of those legal rights? The question seems to presuppose that legal rights are in need of a basis. But it isn't obvious what kind of thing Chad would allow as a basis for a legal right or why it should need one or indeed what this basing relation amounts to. Consider the right we enjoy to own private property, for example. Or consider the rights of citizens of the Roman Empire. Legal systems are human institutions that evolve over time and why they are what they are is a complicated story. Obviously one can criticise a legal system from a moral viewpoint, but one can do that without bringing in the notion of a metaphysical human right.

bmiller said...

David,

What is your definition of metaphysics.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad said:
"...you cannot engage in an action which you know ahead of time will lead to the death of an innocent person."
That one line got my attention... It's interesting that you would mention that in your response to One Brow, as the context of that specific exchange is about whether a person should be forced to lend their body to another. It betrays your emotions when you label the other person 'an innocent person'. It's just a person, period, in the examples you use. And it's not even clear whether it's a person in the case of abortions. Back to the other topic...

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad said:
"...you cannot engage in an action which you know ahead of time will lead to the death of an innocent person."
That one line got my attention... It's interesting that you would mention that in your response to One Brow, as the context of that specific exchange is about whether a person should be forced to lend their body to another. It betrays your emotions when you label the other person 'an innocent person'. It's just a person, period, in the examples you use. And it's not even clear whether it's a person in the case of abortions. Back to the other topic...

""Sure, but why would a few human cells have any rights at all?"
Because those cells might, for all we know, constitute a person.
"

You mentioned that repeating the same thing over and over again is not an argument... yet, it seems to be the only argument you have when it comes to the cells involved in the process of conception. Why won't you look at the detail of how the process works? Why is biology so irrelevant to you?

"But it should also be clear by now that your personal certitude is not the least bit convincing to anyone else. "

I didn't know everybody agreed with you.

"You cannot prove, or frankly, even advance a cogent argument, that the embryo is not a person."

Yes I can, and I have, because it's literally absurd to call 1 cell a person. Just like it's absurd to call 1 molecule of water 'an ocean'. I can't tell you exactly how many molecules of water we need to make an ocean, but it's certainly not 1, nor 10, nor whatever number is in a glass of water.

"You're welcome to hold your belief with a tenacity that far outstrips your ability to prove it if you want to."

But see, I am not even talking about my opinion here, or barely. That's why I find your comments here to be so absurd. It is a fact that we collectively understand how human reproduction works. It's a fact that 2 cells merge at conception, following the same chemistry laws we see everywhere. It's a fact that these 2 cells are very common in nature. It's a fact that they start to divide and multiply following the same chemistry laws again and again. It's a fact that anywhere between 30% to 50% of the time, the cells will just get flushed out without leading to anything more substantial.

" I'm sure there's a technical definition for when conception occurs but I don't know enough about the science to say. Why would this be relevant? There's no way an abortion could occur before conception, however it is conceived. You seem to be desperately grasping at straws here."

First of all, it's relevant because you keep insisting that we don't know whether there is a person right after conception.
Second, it's relevant because it's the knowledge of the process that informs my belief. That's why I mentioned to bmiller before that the position regarding banning any kind of abortion is unscientific.
Third, no, there is no technical definition! Clearly, you don't care about that. It confirms that your views are just based on emotions. It's not surprising, I could have told you that from the start...

Hugo Pelland said...

In other words, you "feel" like what’s inside a pregant's woman body may or may not be a person, because you don't really know about all the details, you don't really care because it doesn't matter, and you're not interested in discussing the details. What matters to you is the feeling that there might just be someone in there. Let's not talk too much about how this happens, this would be grasping at straws. What matters is the emotional reaction you have when thinking about how an innocent human person might be getting killed.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am being a bit harsh but it's not even a negative judgement of your opinion. I actually respect it. Because if you were a woman who doesn't want to get an abortion for that reason, I would say 'sure', power to you. What's problematic is that you want abortions to be illegal because of that position. Right? Unlike you, I want women to be able to decide whether they agree with you and then decide what they do with their body.

" "What you are asking me here is to tell you exactly when I think a child is turning into an adult. I can't do that."
I can. LEGALLY
"

I specifically told you it was NOT about the legal limit.

" METAPHYSICALLY, you're an adult when..."
You stated the obvious parameters but missed the point: there is no clear line even though there is a clear before and after. It's a gradual transformation process, just like the embryo turning into a fetus turning into a baby...

"No one has yet come up with a satisfactory criteria for personhood that excludes embryos that doesn't also exclude known persons.

That's the problem with just flippantly saying you "know" a group of cells isn't a person. No, you FEEL that a group of cells isn't a person. You may even feel it very strongly. But feelings are not knowledge.
"

Exactly, feelings are not knowledge yet you literally just said that you don't have the knowledge regarding conception.

An embryo is literally just a few cells and has none of the characteristics you named, and never had them before. It shares 1 thing and 1 thing only with a human person: a unique strange of DNA. (How do I call this again?) So there you go, that's the definition you were looking for. Criteria for personhood include the things you mentioned AND past development, which the embryo doesn't exhibit. It's that simple. No prior development, no person.

David Brightly said...

What do I mean by metaphysics? Talk that goes beyond the factual. I think I used the term in the discussion about personhood. It's not that we don't know if a certain foetus is a person. It's that the question is unanswerable. The answer, as it were, lies outside the realm of possible knowledge. Hence my use of the phrase 'no fact of the matter'. And my consequent rejection of the precautionary principle---it's neither true nor false that the foetus might be a person. I have no truck with metaphysical rights---I find no facts about them. But I do have a legal right to own property because there are facts about the justice system, police, courts, prisons, etc, namely that they recognise and punish theft.

One Brow said...

I didn't say you denied it, I said you are avoiding acknowledging it.

It's curious you did not read my ackncowledgement of the the right of the embryo, or non-viable twin, to life as being implied by previous statements. So, I will be happy to say it. The embryo has a right to live. The non-viable twin has a right to live.

Now, since our disagreement is about whether this right to life includes the perogative of the use of another person's body, I'll get back to that.

It's relevant as to whether you go to jail for murder or manslaughter, but that you're going to jail is a foregone conclusion.

You sound awfully certain for relying on a Wikipedia article which did not directly address the question.

I mean, are you actually disputing that it's against the law to knowingly take an action which will lead to the death of an innocent person?

Below, you describe just such as action as self-defense.

Take a second and reflect on the fact that this is the position you are defending.

I've been reflecting on it for years, carefully sifting my thoughts.

The connection happened after you knocked me out, which is harmful to me.

Agreed, but does that allow you to kill me by disrupting the connection, after the threat to your life no longer exists?

How would I know this connection isn't harmful to me? I'd take the word of a person who knocked me out to connect himself to me without my consent?

We can talk to a few doctors of your choice.

Putting your hands on a person without their consent is an assault. So the act of connecting would constitute an assault, and the continued connection would constitute an ongoing assault. You have the right to defend yourself from an assault.

You believe in killing people over assaults that are not life-threatening?

"3) What if, without my knowledge or consent, some third party connected us? Does self-defense still apply?"

Yes. Someone would be using you to assault me, and I have the right to defend myself from that assault.


You would defend yourself from someone else by killing an innocent person?

A person under a deliberate and serious assault by another is entitled, within reason, to presume their life is in danger. The legal statute is a reasonable fear that your life is in danger.

Part of hypothetical is that your life is not in danger. Responding as if your life is in danger is ignoring the hypothetical.

If a woman slaps me, I cannot shoot her and reasonably claim I feared for my life.

Unless she's black and you live in Florida, apparently. Still, another discussion for another thread.

If a person knocks me out and subjects me to major surgery to connect me to another human being while I am unconscious, I can sever that connection and reasonably claim I did so out of fear for my life.

Without the slightest investigation to whether your life is in danger? You want to prohibit abortions on the tiniest chance an embryo might be something defined as a person, yet you have no qualms about severing a connection, and thereby killing, an innocent human you know with certainty is a person.

Continued...

One Brow said...

"I believe you are allowed to defend yourself even in situations where there is no legal intent. If a drunk/insane man is randomly firing a gun, I'm pretty sure you allowed to defend yourself, absent their intent."

They did intend to do something which THEY KNEW BEFOREHAND *could* cause a person's death.


By definition, the legally insane aren't capable of forming intent, to my amateur understanding. Self-defense is still allowed.

I would of course agree that, in the case of an ektopic pregnancy, where the woman's life is in danger, she should be allowed to abort. The overwhelming majority of pro-life advocates would make an exception for the life/health of the mother. Likewise, if the viable twin was going to die as a result of the connection, but could be saved by severing the connection, I would be in favor of separating them.

But this has nothing to do with the cases where the life of the mother is not threatened by the pregnancy and the life of the viable twin is not threatened by her connection to the nonviable twin.


Well, this leads into a level-of-risk argument. I'm sure you know that evey pregnancy carries a non-zero level of risk for the mother, and any organ a non-viable twin would require access to has both limited capacity and a limited lifetime of use. Again, that seems like a separate discussion. So, I'll agree this is a discussion about situations of minimal immediate risk.

That said, again there is no need to infer intent into this discussion. It doesn't matter

Under some circumstances, you are allowed to take an action that will lead to someone's death to save your own life. You are not allowed to take an action that will lead to someone's death to prevent yourself from suffering hardship.

If it's physical hardship, you are. In fact, you advocate so doing above. In case 3, I had no intent of attaching myself to you and pose no immediate threat, yet you proclaim you are free to kill me by disconnecting.

When you talk about embryos "attaching themselves" to women, or about nonviable conjoined twins "attaching themselves" to viable twins, you are smuggling in the concept of intent.

Not at all. Living things we agree are not capable of intent still undertake actions. Tree sprout leaves. Clams filter water. Embryos attach themselves to uteri. I do agree that conjoinment is a mutual process, they conjoin with each other.

I will say that, for one arguing for the potential personhood of the embryo with another poster, the complete denial of the ability of that embryo to form intent seems like sabotage to your argument.

Chad Handley said...

Chad will no longer be responding to David Brightly until David Brightly ceases from the rude, condescending habit of referring to Chad in the third person instead of addressing him directly.

Chad Handley said...

Hugo:

"It betrays your emotions when you label the other person 'an innocent person'."

It betrays that I'm aware that you are legally and morally allowed to cause the death of a person who is trying to do you bodily harm.

That's all I mean by innocent. Not that they are pure, sinless people, but that they pose no threat to you.

"Why won't you look at the detail of how the process works? Why is biology so irrelevant to you?"

Because you have not been able to demonstrate its relevance.

"It is a fact that we collectively understand how human reproduction works. It's a fact that 2 cells merge at conception, following the same chemistry laws we see everywhere. It's a fact that these 2 cells are very common in nature. It's a fact that they start to divide and multiply following the same chemistry laws again and again. It's a fact that anywhere between 30% to 50% of the time, the cells will just get flushed out without leading to anything more substantial."

Okay.

How does this show the embryo is not a person?

"In other words, you "feel" like what’s inside a pregant's woman body may or may not be a person, because you don't really know about all the details, you don't really care because it doesn't matter, and you're not interested in discussing the details."

The details definitely matter to me.

Please explain how the details prove that the embryo is not a person.

"Criteria for personhood include the things you mentioned AND past development, which the embryo doesn't exhibit. It's that simple. No prior development, no person."

So, someone born brain dead is not a person? Someone born nonviable (a baby who requires incubation to live, for example) is not a person? Someone born with a mental defect that keeps them from feeling or anticipating pain (someone severely autistic, or with a severe case of congenital history of pain) is not a person?

None of these people have the right to life because of how they were born, and we can terminate their existence with impunity?

Chad Handley said...

One Brow:

"You sound awfully certain for relying on a Wikipedia article which did not directly address the question."

I am not relying on wikipedia for anything. Let's try to keep track of what we were talking about. You were suggesting that you could willingly and knowingly engage in an act which will kill a person who poses no threat to you without legal liability!

I don't need internet access to know that such an act would obviously be an egregious felony, very likely prosecuted as a depraved heart murder at least, (which is second degree murder in most states) and would earn you significant jail time.

"You would defend yourself from someone else by killing an innocent person?"

Okay, you and Hugo are correct that I needed to clarify my concept of "innocent."

By "innocent," I only meant to leave room for the right to take possibly lethal action in self defense against someone posing a possibly lethal threat to you.

Now, the person who is posing that threat to you could possibly be innocent in the sense that he is not blameworthy for his actions. For example, the seizure victim firing a gun involuntarily, or the person involuntarily finding himself surgically connected to me.

I believe you are allowed to use self-defense against anyone posing a serious threat to do you bodily harm, even if the person doing so is not blameworthy. You have no moral or legal obligation to allow yourself to be killed, even accidentally.

So, in the case of you being surgically connected to me by a third party, I would still have the right to separate from you, even if it killed you, and even if you had no part in the connection being made. Because you are still assaulting me, even if involuntarily, and I have no more obligation to passively undergo your assault than I have to passively undergo the assault of the seizure victim involuntarily firing a gun in my direction.

"Part of hypothetical is that your life is not in danger. Responding as if your life is in danger is ignoring the hypothetical."

Even if my life was not in danger, I would have the right to disconnect even if it kills you, because the surgical connection is a result of a CONSCIOUS, DELIBERATE EFFORT to do me harm without my consent, and is THEREFORE an assault. And I have no obligation to passively undergo an assault.

Even if it is not life threatening, you still rendered me unconscious, cut into my body, which makes wounds that have to heal, and subjected me to an ongoing connection with another person, which delays the healing process.

You are doing me harm and I have no obligation to continue to undergo that harm.

But again, I have no idea what you think this is going to get you in terms of an analogy to an abortion where the cause of pregnancy isn't rape.

Any embryo is not consciously committing an assault, nor is it the unwitting agent of a third party committing an assault (except in the case of rape). So, how exactly are you planning on turning this thought experiment around into an argument for abortion?

"If it's physical hardship, you are. In fact, you advocate so doing above. In case 3, I had no intent of attaching myself to you and pose no immediate threat, yet you proclaim you are free to kill me by disconnecting."

No. It is not the physical hardship that justifies the act of self-defense, it is the fact that you are assaulting me. Even if unwittingly and unintentionally, you are being used by a third party to assault me, and I am under no obligation to submit to assault.

"I will say that, for one arguing for the potential personhood of the embryo with another poster, the complete denial of the ability of that embryo to form intent seems like sabotage to your argument."

Um, what?

That I don't think embryos end up in uteruses as a result of their deliberate intention to do so "sabatoges" my argument?

In what world?

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,

Just 1 paragraph this time because you ignored it: a person has been through development; an embryo has not. That answers all your questions from that last comment. And I must repeat mine: when is that line of conception? When do you consider a new person has "appeared" or "started" or... I don't know, that's my problem.

Fair enough regarding the "innocent" person btw, but I ageee with pretty much everything One Brow said, except that his arguments are even stronger imho because the embryo isn't, and hasn't ever been, a person.

Chad Handley said...

"Just 1 paragraph this time because you ignored it: a person has been through development; an embryo has not. That answers all your questions from that last comment."

No. It doesn't.

I don't know what you mean by "development."

If the baby undergoes "development" sometime between conception and birth, then you're just replacing the word "person" with the concept of "development" without any more clarification on when or how it is achieved, or how its achievement confers personhood.

If development doesn't happen until after a child is born, then you haven't answered any of my previous questions re: is the baby born brain dead, or not independently viable, or unable to feel pain, or all of the above, not a person?

To make your answer cogent, you'd have to explain what development is, when it occurs, and why it conveys personhood.

Proceed.

Chad Handley said...

(To clarify my interpretation of what you meant by "development," I thought you were saying that if a human being was brain dead NOW, but had a history of brain activity, then they were a person. But if a human being had NEVER had any brain activity, he or she is not a person. And since an embryo has NEVER had brain activity, it is not a person. Which is why I asked you about babies who are born who, like the embryo, never had brain activity.

But it seems now this isn't what you mean. It seems like you are just DEFINING an embryo out of being a person without giving a principled reason as to why. You're saying being a person means having qualities x,y, z, and NOT being an embryo.

But without giving a principled explanation as to WHY you are defining embryos out of the category of personhood, you have no ability to respond to a pro-life advocate who defines embryos INTO personhood. A pro-life advocate could say that life is having qualities x,y,z, and being an embryo.

You would of course cry foul, and say that the pro-life advocate doesn't just get to make the embryo a person by definition. Quite right, and you don't get to make the embryo a non-person by definition.

In short, again, you have to first explain what you mean by development, and then you have to explain WHY development is necessary for personhood. Otherwise, you're just trying to win the debate by arbitrary assertion, which gets us nowhere.)

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,
We agree that a baby is a person.
We agree that an unfertilized egg isn't a person.
Therefore, we necessarily also agree that the egg changes, develops, from a non-person egg to a person baby.

What we disagree on is where the line is.

My claim is that we can't really tell where the line is. But, I also think it's absurd to think that line is at conception because it's neither well defined nor a developed complex thing.

Chad Handley said...

"We agree that..."

No, I'm not letting you get away with that. This is not an agree to disagree thing. My position is well-developed, well-defined, and principled. I define all my terms and explain their relevance to the debate.

Meanwhile, your position uses terms like "development" which you refuse to define and whose relevance to the argument you refuse to explain.

I make no claim regarding whether the embryo is a person. I only claim we don't know if it is. That claim of not knowing is sufficient to justify my argument.

Meanwhile, you claim that you DO know that the embryo is NOT a person, but your only argument for that is to just keep repeating that a clump of cells can't be a person without explaining why not.

In short, I'm making a clear argument, where the terms are defined and the conclusions follow from the premises.

Meanwhile you... are not.

"But, I also think it's absurd to think that line is at conception because it's neither well defined nor a developed complex thing."

Then instead of conception let's use fertilization, which does have a specific definition, according to the wikipedia article:

"Fertilization takes place when the spermatozoon has successfully entered the ovum and the two sets of genetic material carried by the gametes fuse together, resulting in the zygote (a single diploid cell). This usually takes place in the ampulla of one of the fallopian tubes. The zygote contains the combined genetic material carried by both the male and female gametes which consists of the 23 chromosomes from the nucleus of the ovum and the 23 chromosomes from the nucleus of the sperm."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_embryogenesis

That takes care of the boundary problem.

As to the development problem, I can only repeat: you've yet to define what you mean by development or why it's relevant to personhood.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,

Sorry but you're postition is not well developed at all... it seems that you didn't even know about how fertilization works until now and have still an unclear definition of what that boundary would be. The fertilization process is a continuous one. You still couldn't pinpoint when something happens that turns the cells into a person. You mentioned before for instance that it's the uniqueness of the DNA that matters. Well, where is that exactly?

Next, I don't get which part you don't agree with. Is an unfertilized egg a person? Is a fertilize egg a person? Why?

Finally, there's a part you're starting to understand I think, but you turned it into an insult. You said that you define your terms and I don't. Part of that is true, because I told you many time that I don't think we can define a person that clearly. An embryo turns into a person, sometimes, but I can't define exaclty when. So it's not argument against my position to claim that this is undefined. That's the whole point.

David Brightly said...

Apologies, Chad. No offence was intended. I'm adopting the conventions of the courtroom: addressing arguments to the jury of the readers.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad,
(but that's a broader point so if anyone still reads this, feel free to chime in)

Here's another thing I thought about, which relates to that issue with the definition of a person, that is a lot broader than just a discussion about abortion. It has to do with how we look at the world in general and what language we use to describe it.

The way I see it, words are ascribed to things that are around us. Right now, we're people using a smartphone, computer or some other device to read/write on a blog. These things we used are labeled as "phone" or "computer" based on common characteristics they share with each other.

But what they are, as individual objects, isn't determined by the words we use to describe them. It's the other way around. Because we observe certain characteristics, we label certain objects with words we find useful to communicate with each other.

Therefore, when it comes to that specific case of an embryo, we disagree on the order of the labeling process.

I describe what I see; an unfertilized egg, a spermatazeo, a ferilized egg, an embryo, a more complex embryo etc, ... and don't see any reason to label these things as a "person" because it's so different from what we usually use that label for. But, at the same time, once the embryo develops enough to become a fetus, and when the fetus starts to have a beating hearth, complete organs, chances of survival on its own, etc... it starts to look more and more like a person, and I personally feel less and less confident about what is acceptable to do regarding that fetus.

You (Chad) on the other hand, seems to see it the other way around. The label "person" is used in a more metaphysical or spiritual sense; it refers to entities that have at the very least some rights, or 1 right, the right to live. The question is then to try to figure out what things should fall under that category or not. Because grown adults were all once babies, and babies were all once unborn, and unborn babies came from embryos, it is possible that one cell, created during the fertilization procees, should be considered as falling under that label of "person", as it could potentially one day grow and be born as a baby. We can't know.


-- setn uisng my phnoe, prdaon any spllenig msitake

David Brightly said...

I agree, Hugo, with what you say in your last piece. I'd put it like this. The only detectors in existence for personhood are our fellow human beings. But these detectors are not built to the same specification. Different people will be looking for different features and giving them different weight. Most will agree that an adult is a person and an ovum is not. In between there is room for disagreement. For myself, the way I have come to understand 'person' excludes newborns---not that I'm advocating infanticide. But there is room for others to come to use the word somewhat differently, depending on background, education, and so on. It's rather hard to break the conviction that everybody else is using a word in just the way that we do. But it's only a word, after all, just a sound or squiggle. It's rather unclear to me at least that there is something distinctive and well demarcated in the world for the word 'person' to latch on to. But of course someone who uses the word in a different way may well find something distinctive for it to attach to.

Hugo Pelland said...

Right, that's another good way to put it. And I agree that the crucial part is how different people may use words differently.

bmiller said...

OK guys. You both have opinions that it's morally acceptable for humans can be killed up until a certain stage in their life.

Legion disagrees and says it is not morally acceptable to kill humans at any stage of their life.

It seems you've simply defined personhood as the stage in human development when it is no longer acceptable to kill humans. I could just as well use a different definition such as it is never permissible to kill humans from any stage of their life from conception to natural death. The 2 of you can't agree when personhood is present. The second definition is at least based on observable fact.

Chad's position is that in cases where there is no convincing argument all can agree on, it is morally unacceptable to intentionally kill the human. Legion may be wrong, but no one has demonstrated he is wrong. And if he is right and you are wrong you will have committed the most morally depraved act possible.

He's open to hear your argument why personhood should be the criteria, but neither of you can tell us what it is, where it comes from, when it suddenly pops up in a human or why it should be the criteria etc.

Chad Handley said...

Hugo,

"You still couldn't pinpoint when something happens that turns the cells into a person. "

1. I wasn't trying to. I've already said that my position on the embryo is that I'm not sure whether it is a person or not. In terms of what is publicly provable, NO ONE is, because no one can give a satisfactory proof one way or the other. It is this very uncertainty that makes it morally impermissible to perform an abortion, since for all we know it might be killing a person.

2. I was offering fertilization as a criterion for when CONCEPTION occurs, not for a criterion for when PERSONHOOD occurs.

"The fertilization process is a continuous one."

That's just not true according to the wikipedia article or the multitude of medical journals it references.

"You said that you define your terms and I don't. Part of that is true, because I told you many time that I don't think we can define a person that clearly. An embryo turns into a person, sometimes, but I can't define exaclty when. So it's not argument against my position to claim that this is undefined. That's the whole point."

This is complete and utter nonsense.

I'm not challenging you to define the term "person." I''ve acknowledged that none of us have a problem-free definition of the term.

I'm challenging you to define the term "development."

You claim that "development" is a necessary aspect of what makes a human being a person.

What do you mean by "development?"

Chad Handley said...

"Therefore, when it comes to that specific case of an embryo, we disagree on the order of the labeling process. "

The problem with your position is the same as the problem with David Brightly's position.

You're essentially saying that the term "person" doesn't refer to some underlying metaphysical substrate, but is only a linguistic convention.

If that's the case, then what would you say to the person who lives in a society which has the convention of only using the word "person" to refer to white males?

You no doubt disagree with the convention of his society, but you couldn't say his convention erred in its definition of person whereas yours was correct. Because according to you, the only thing that determines the definition of what constitutes a person is convention.

If there's nothing real underlying the term person, then there's nothing stopping us from deciding Jews aren't persons, or that women aren't persons, or that homosexuals aren't persons, etc.

If this is all an argument about language, and there's nothing underneath the language, then whether or not any of us is a person, or has any rights at all, is up for grabs.

"Because grown adults were all once babies, and babies were all once unborn, and unborn babies came from embryos, it is possible that one cell, created during the fertilization procees, should be considered as falling under that label of "person", as it could potentially one day grow and be born as a baby. We can't know."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Now, follow that insight to its only logical, ethical conclusion.

If we "can't know" whether or not an action will take the life of a person, should we take that action or refrain from it?

Chad Handley said...

"Apologies, Chad. No offence was intended. I'm adopting the conventions of the courtroom: addressing arguments to the jury of the readers."

Fair enough.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
I am not relying on wikipedia for anything. Let's try to keep track of what we were talking about. You were suggesting that you could willingly and knowingly engage in an act which will kill a person who poses no threat to you without legal liability!

So are you. You advocate that as an act of self-defense against some third party, but it is quite clear this is what you proposed.

I don't need internet access to know that such an act would obviously be an egregious felony, very likely prosecuted as a depraved heart murder at least, (which is second degree murder in most states) and would earn you significant jail time.

Unless the person is connected to you bodily, and you would kill them by disconnecting. Right?

By "innocent," I only meant to leave room for the right to take possibly lethal action in self defense against someone posing a possibly lethal threat to you.

How high does the possibility for the threat to be lethal need to be? 1%? 5%? 50%?

You are doing me harm and I have no obligation to continue to undergo that harm.

Any embryo is not consciously committing an assault, nor is it the unwitting agent of a third party committing an assault (except in the case of rape). So, how exactly are you planning on turning this thought experiment around into an argument for abortion?

Someone connecting me to you, without my knowledge or approval, does not make me an "agent" of that person. At most, a "means".

At any rate, your argument that your right to self-defense trumps anyone else's right to life, even when your life is not in danger, is sufficient for me.

No. It is not the physical hardship that justifies the act of self-defense, it is the fact that you are assaulting me. Even if unwittingly and unintentionally, you are being used by a third party to assault me, and I am under no obligation to submit to assault.

I don't disagree. Your right to decide who has access to your body trumps my right to live, even though I am just as much a victim as you.

That I don't think embryos end up in uteruses as a result of their deliberate intention to do so "sabatoges" my argument?

In any world where the ability to form intent is needed to be a person.

Chad Handley said...

"At any rate, your argument that your right to self-defense trumps anyone else's right to life, even when your life is not in danger, is sufficient for me."

I limited this to cases when you are being deliberately assaulted; to situations where someone is deliberately doing you severe harm.

Someone being connected to you has rendered you unconscious and literally sliced into your body with a sharp blade. Such a person has done and is continuing to do great harm to you.

There's no analogy from that to a normal abortion or a normal conjoined twin separation.

"Your right to decide who has access to your body trumps my right to live, even though I am just as much a victim as you."

That was not my argument. My argument was that my right not to subject myself to an assault trumps your right to live if you are the person assaulting me, or the instrument of an assault against me.

You can try to reword my responses into something I never said to achieve some make-believe victory, but everyone reading this conversation can see through such childish tactics.

I have been very clear: people under an assault have a right to take actions that could possibly kill to defend themselves from that assault. People who are not under assault do not have that right.

"In any world where the ability to form intent is needed to be a person."

That's not this world, unless you think brain dead people or infants aren't persons.

David Brightly said...

BM: You are reading rather more into what I have said than is there. I'm criticising Chad's argument that goes via personhood and his precautionary principle. I'm saying that the precautionary principle doesn't apply because there is no fact of the matter as to whether a foetus is a person. There's nothing to know or fail to know. So the argument doesn't show what Chad hopes it shows. My view is that framing the case in terms of personhood is a mistake because it introduces more vagueness than the straightforward assertion 'Abortion is wrong' which at least we can all understand.

Chad: There is a third way between metaphysical substrate and pure linguistic convention. We are not free to make 'person' mean whatever we want because we learn how to use the word from our linguistic community. But we are unable to make clear what aspect of reality we are 'picking up on'. Except perhaps by fiat, but then some of us may legitimately object that the fiat definition doesn't match up with our intuition. A bit like the classic example, 'game', perhaps.

bmiller said...

@David,

You can argue that pro-life opponents shouldn't be using the term person, but they in fact do. Chad is accepting their premise for the sake of argument and following (what should be) their own logic to the conclusion that abortion is morally wrong. I don't understand how you can say his argument fails when his purpose is not to argue that one can't know that "personhood" exists or not when that was not the point of his argument.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
"At any rate, your argument that your right to self-defense trumps anyone else's right to life, even when your life is not in danger, is sufficient for me."

I limited this to cases when you are being deliberately assaulted; to situations where someone is deliberately doing you severe harm.


Except that I never said anything about severe harm. Would the answer change if the harm was minor/negligible? What if it was just a tube inserted into a vein in your arm? I'm guessing your answer does not change.

At any rate, you are putting your own rights, where your life is not at stake, ahead of the rights of an innocent person, whose life is at stake. The right to life does not trump other rights for you; it is situational, and all we disagree on are the situations. For you, intent is not actually required to surmount the right to life, as you have mentioned.

There's no analogy from that to a normal abortion or a normal conjoined twin separation.

Emotionally, i agree the analogy is poor. Ethically and legally, they are not very different.

"Your right to decide who has access to your body trumps my right to live, even though I am just as much a victim as you."

That was not my argument.


It's the result of your argument. Nothing you typed said I had the result wrong.

You can try to reword my responses into something I never said to achieve some make-believe victory, but everyone reading this conversation can see through such childish tactics.

As I said, I was trying to explore the boundaries and how you reached them. My apologies if it made you too uncomfortable.

"In any world where the ability to form intent is needed to be a person."

That's not this world, unless you think brain dead people or infants aren't persons.


I'm not aware if you have put forward a positive definition of a person, so why would they be, to you?

David Brightly said...

BM, go back to Chad's comments of September 25, 2018 9:25 PM and September 26, 2018 2:23 PM, where he offers the coffin and the building analogies. Both arguments are to the effect that 'ignorance is no excuse'. My point in the case of the foetus is that there is nothing to be ignorant of. The non-excusive ignorance has to be ignorance of something, surely?

bmiller said...

David,

Yes, I understand your position...that there is no such thing as a "person". Pro-life opponents say that there is. You may think your position is superior, and maybe it is, but Chad is assuming the pro-life opponent premise for the sake of argument.

But even if he does actually believe there is such a thing as a "person" or not, per his opponents, you are not interacting with his argument. You're just asserting the premise is wrong. That is not helpful to the discussion at hand.

Chad Handley said...

David Brightly:

"There is a third way between metaphysical substrate and pure linguistic convention. We are not free to make 'person' mean whatever we want because we learn how to use the word from our linguistic community. But we are unable to make clear what aspect of reality we are 'picking up on'. Except perhaps by fiat, but then some of us may legitimately object that the fiat definition doesn't match up with our intuition. A bit like the classic example, 'game', perhaps."

First of all, your response to me, where you attempt to adopt a "third way," contradicts your response to bmiller, in which you seem firmly in the camp of the second way.

So what is our actual position? Does the term person not refer to any reality at all (which seemingly was your previous position) or does it refer to a reality we have no epistemic access to?

If the former, all my previous objections stand. If the latter, you are essentially agreeing with my position that there is a fact of the matter as to whether or not the fetus is a person, we just can't know whether or not it is. And again, the ethical thing to do in that case is to disallow abortion.

Chad Handley said...

One Brow:

"Except that I never said anything about severe harm. Would the answer change if the harm was minor/negligible? What if it was just a tube inserted into a vein in your arm? I'm guessing your answer does not change."

How do you knock someone out and use a sharp blade to cut into their body to access their major organs without doing them severe harm?

Can we stop with the increasingly absurd attempts to rescue this clearly irrelevant analogy?

"At any rate, you are putting your own rights, where your life is not at stake, ahead of the rights of an innocent person, whose life is at stake. "

You are conveniently failing to mention the SPECIFIC RIGHT which I am making use of, because you know that once you mention that SPECIFIC RIGHT, your failed analogy falls apart.

The SPECIFIC RIGHT I am making use of to justify this decision is the right not to subject myself to an assault.

Except for cases of rape, pregnant women are not the subject of an assault. Conjoined twins aren't the subject of an assault.

How many times are you going to just leave this essential aspect of out of a recap of my position and pretend to some make-believe victory? Do you think you're fooling anybody?

"The right to life does not trump other rights for you; it is situational, and all we disagree on are the situations."

It's the right to life all the way down. The right to defend myself from assault emerges from my right to life; it's the reason why I can kill in self-defense. By definition, anyone doing me severe harm in assaulting me is potentially threatening my life. Knocking me out and using a sharp blade to cut into my body and access my vital organs is doing me severe harm in the act of assaulting me. I have a right to defend my life in that circumstance.

The right to life is primary both in the sense of importance and in the sense that other fundamental rights, like the right to defend myself, emerge from it. If you take away the right to life, you also take away the right to self defense.

"Emotionally, i agree the analogy is poor. Ethically and legally, they are not very different."

Ethically and legally, it's not very different whether you kill a person who is assaulting you/ being used to assault you, or whether you kill a person posing no threat to you at all?

If you really think so, you're so depraved ethically and legally that this conversation can't possibly profit you.

"It's the result of your argument."

No. It isn't.

You said that I based my decision on my right to determine who has access to my body. That was a deliberately inaccurate falsehood regarding my position. The right I based my decision on was my right to defend myself against assault.

Since a pregnant woman who was not raped is not undergoing an assault, your analogy fails to do anything to show that a normal abortion is ethically permissible.

"I'm not aware if you have put forward a positive definition of a person, so why would they be, to you?"

The whole point of my position is that we don't have a clear enough definition of personhood to say whether or not an embryo is one, so of course I don't have a positive definition of a person.

But since pretty much everyone agrees that it would be wrong to kill a newborn baby or to shoot a brain dead person in the head for fun, I take it that they are persons.

We don't need a perfect and exhaustive definition of a person to know a person when we see one in most cases.





Chad Handley said...

David Brightly:

"My point in the case of the foetus is that there is nothing to be ignorant of."

Again, you're darting back and forth between two very different positions.

Does personhood really exist or is it a convention?

If it exists, (even if only as a reality we don't have complete epistemic access to) you haven't rebutted my argument.

If it doesn't, then you and the fetus are in exactly the same boat.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
How do you knock someone out and use a sharp blade to cut into their body to access their major organs without doing them severe harm?

Can we stop with the increasingly absurd attempts to rescue this clearly irrelevant analogy?


I'm not trying to rescue anything. As I have said before, as much as anything else I'm curious about what standards you use to arrive at your decision.

That said, you did not say I was wrong, either. If the connection is as simple as a tube in your vein, do you still have the right to disconnect?

"At any rate, you are putting your own rights, where your life is not at stake, ahead of the rights of an innocent person, whose life is at stake. "

You are conveniently failing to mention the SPECIFIC RIGHT which I am making use of, because you know that once you mention that SPECIFIC RIGHT, your failed analogy falls apart.


So, my summary is correct, but it does not emphasize what you choose to emphasize.

The SPECIFIC RIGHT I am making use of to justify this decision is the right not to subject myself to an assault.

Yes, it is. So?

Except for cases of rape, pregnant women are not the subject of an assault. Conjoined twins aren't the subject of an assault.

What's your definition for assault again? It can't require intent, because you recognize the right to self-defense even when intent is not at hand (epileptic seizure, insane, drunk, etc.).

How many times are you going to just leave this essential aspect of out of a recap of my position and pretend to some make-believe victory? Do you think you're fooling anybody?

I'm not trying to fool anyone, and there is no victory to claim here. I'm responding to your line of argumentation (repeated below).

In which case, we should decide the issue based on which right is more fundamental - the right to not be enslaved, or the right to life.

It seems to me that the right to life is more fundamental to the right to not be enslaved, and so it seems obvious to me that the viable conjoined twin cannot engage in an act which will kill the nonviable twin.


You keep talking about assault, and you seem to distinguish that from being enslaved. So, I have to wonder how being enslaved is not a subcategory of assault.

Continued...

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
It's the right to life all the way down. The right to defend myself from assault emerges from my right to life; it's the reason why I can kill in self-defense. By definition, anyone doing me severe harm in assaulting me is potentially threatening my life. Knocking me out and using a sharp blade to cut into my body and access my vital organs is doing me severe harm in the act of assaulting me. I have a right to defend my life in that circumstance.

Except, even when the stipulation is that your life is not in danger, you maintain the right to defend yourself. Even when it's just a tube inserted into a vein, you maintain that right.

Keep in mind, I actually agree that is correct. It's not an attack nor a criticism, just an analysis. I would be surprised if you said you have to allow the tube to stay in your vein.

Ethically and legally, it's not very different whether you kill a person who is assaulting you/ being used to assault you, or whether you kill a person posing no threat to you at all?

I asked before, and you did not answer, what's your actual threshold, below which is "no threat to you at all"? 1% chance of death? 10%? 50%?

If you really think so, you're so depraved ethically and legally that this conversation can't possibly profit you.

I have already profited.

"It's the result of your argument."

No. It isn't.

You said that I based my decision on my right to determine who has access to my body. That was a deliberately inaccurate falsehood regarding my position. The right I based my decision on was my right to defend myself against assault.


Please describe the difference between "unauthorized access of your body" and "assault", as you see it.

Since a pregnant woman who was not raped is not undergoing an assault, your analogy fails to do anything to show that a normal abortion is ethically permissible.

I have no expectation of showing you that a normal abortion is ethically permissible.

But since pretty much everyone agrees that it would be wrong to kill a newborn baby or to shoot a brain dead person in the head for fun, I take it that they are persons.

Most people also think it's wrong to shoot a dead human in the head for fun, even though they are no longer a person. Newborn babies typically demonstrate intent.

We don't need a perfect and exhaustive definition of a person to know a person when we see one in most cases.

In this case, you are supporting legal punishments for someone based on the possibility of personhood. We should have a decent idea of person in order to do that. Do you disagree?

Chad Handley said...

"That said, you did not say I was wrong, either. If the connection is as simple as a tube in your vein, do you still have the right to disconnect?"

If you still knocked me out and punctured me with a sharp instrument against my will, you have still assaulted me. My right to life confers to me the right to refuse to passively undergo an assault. How many times do you want me to answer the same question?

"So, my summary is correct, but it does not emphasize what you choose to emphasize."

It wasn't a lack of emphasis. It was the deliberate omission of a fact that is fatal to your analogy. An argumentative tactic that is as futile as it is obvious.

"Yes, it is. So?"

So your analogy says nothing about the moral status of abortion in cases where the pregnancy was not the result of rape.

"What's your definition for assault again? It can't require intent, because you recognize the right to self-defense even when intent is not at hand (epileptic seizure, insane, drunk, etc.)."

It's the common legal definition of assault. Someone is doing something to you (or attempting to do something to you) that can harm you physically without your permission.

"You keep talking about assault, and you seem to distinguish that from being enslaved. So, I have to wonder how being enslaved is not a subcategory of assault."

Do you think an embryo is guilty of the crime of enslaving her mother?

Do you think a nonviable twin is guilty of the crime of enslaving his viable sibling?

Merely undergoing a physical hardship is not the same as being enslaved. Unlike assault, I can't think of a situation in which someone can be enslaved without anyone intending to enslave them.

Chad Handley said...

"Except, even when the stipulation is that your life is not in danger, you maintain the right to defend yourself. Even when it's just a tube inserted into a vein, you maintain that right."

Because I am being assaulted. You just are compelled to leave out that crucial, decisive detail. At this point, there's no denying this is just intentional dishonesty on your part.

"I asked before, and you did not answer, what's your actual threshold, below which is "no threat to you at all"? 1% chance of death? 10%? 50%?"

The standard is a reasonable fear your life is in danger. If someone knocks me out and cuts into me, I have a reasonable fear my life is in danger.

That's not relevant in the case of the fetus, who is not assaulting the mother at all, or the conjoined twin, who is not assaulting his sibling at all.

This is getting you nowhere, and I'm tired of repeating myself.

"I have already profited."

That makes one of us.

"Please describe the difference between "unauthorized access of your body" and "assault", as you see it."

Assault requires either the intent or potential to do you harm.

"Unauthorized access to your body" is your term. I have no idea what you mean by it, only that it plays no part in my argument that a person has the right to defend themselves from an assault.

"I have no expectation of showing you that a normal abortion is ethically permissible."

Then what is your goal in this argument? Tedium? If so, congratulations.

"Most people also think it's wrong to shoot a dead human in the head for fun, even though they are no longer a person."

Most people would not locate that wrongness in having violated the dead person's rights, but in some sort of perversion of your own will.

In other words, most people would agree you have committed a wrong action, but they would not consider you to have wronged the dead person. You will have wronged yourself in that you would be engaging an activity that is degrading.

"Newborn babies typically demonstrate intent."

No, they most certainly don't.

"In this case, you are supporting legal punishments for someone based on the possibility of personhood. We should have a decent idea of person in order to do that. Do you disagree?"

We do have a decent idea of what constituted a person. That's how we know the brain dead and infants are people, despite the fact that they cannot form an intent.

We don't need an exhaustive, complete definition of a person to have a "decent idea" of what constitutes a person.

This whole conversation is spiraling into nothing, at this point. You just keep repeating the same old tired analogies while leaving out all of my objections.

If your next response has something relevant to say, I'll answer it. If not, please read my silence as an indication of whether or not your argument is strong enough to require an answer.

bmiller said...

@Chad,

You have amazing patience. I agree with your assessment.

David Brightly said...

BM, Chad,
For the record let me state, Yes, there are persons. I hope I haven't said anything that suggests otherwise. Let me refer you first to the comment I made at September 30, 2018 10:33 AM and then I'll offer a just-so story. The issue, I think, is about how concept words like 'person' come to have an extension, that is, things in the world that fall under the concept. Presumably children learn by seeing objects and being told, Yes, that's a person, or No, that's not a person. Since they acquire the ability to apply concept words to objects they have never seen, it's a reasonable hypothesis that they abstract some pattern from features of the instances they have seen and associate the concept word with that pattern. In each individual learner it's something of an accident which features are picked out. But if the objects that fall under the concept are well-demarcated from the objects that don't, as is generally the case with natural kinds, this doesn't matter. Children learn early to identify natural kinds, even from the often cartoon-like pictures and toys they are given. So quite young children will learn the word 'person' in this synthetic way and know how to apply it to adults and children like themselves. It's not until rather later, probably as teenagers, that they will come across the word 'foetus'. Since sensory contact with a foetus is out of the question they will have to learn the meaning of 'foetus' analytically, ie, by being given a definition. One teenager might be told that a foetus is a person at a very early stage of development, not yet even born. Another that a foetus is something that grows into a baby which is born and then grows into a person. It seems plausible to me that the two may form rather different conceptualisations associated to 'foetus' but, importantly, they will agree that the term refers to exactly the same objects. Which one has the right conceptualisation? How could we tell?

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
If you still knocked me out and punctured me with a sharp instrument against my will, you have still assaulted me. My right to life confers to me the right to refuse to passively undergo an assault.

That's what I thought.

How many times do you want me to answer the same question?

Once, without changing the question or adding additional conditions, is satisfactory.

It wasn't a lack of emphasis. It was the deliberate omission of a fact that is fatal to your analogy. An argumentative tactic that is as futile as it is obvious.

What analogy? I was asking to make sure I understood the scope of your limitations on a person's right to life. You agree that a person's right to bodily integrity trumps another person's right to life when there is an assault of some sort, regardless of the level of danger or type of assault. You even find it acceptable to kill an innocent person to protect this right to bodily autonomy, regardless of the level of danger to you.

So your analogy says nothing about the moral status of abortion in cases where the pregnancy was not the result of rape.

My hypothetical (not an analogy) doesn't say anything about abortions in the case of rape, either. I'm not aware it says anything about abortions at all. Why do you think it was supposed to?

It's the common legal definition of assault. Someone is doing something to you (or attempting to do something to you) that can harm you physically without your permission.

"Can harm", not "definitely will harm"?

Do you think an embryo is guilty of the crime of enslaving her mother?

Enslavement requires an unwillingness to serve, in this case. My mother was happy to carry all four of use, my wife all five of ours. They were not enslaved. However, the woman forced to carry the embryo against her will is in a state of involuntary servitude, which difference from slavery is at best technical.

Guilt requires intent. The embryo (and the inability to get an abortion) is the cause of this state of slavery, but is not guilty, because it can not form intent.

Do you think a nonviable twin is guilty of the crime of enslaving his viable sibling?

Depends upon how willing the viable twin is to continue in the state of connectedness, possibly.

Merely undergoing a physical hardship is not the same as being enslaved. Unlike assault, I can't think of a situation in which someone can be enslaved without anyone intending to enslave them.

I don't want to get hung up on vocabulary. What's your term for the state of involuntary servitude caused by the actions of a being before they were capable of forming intent? Will involuntary servitude do, or do you feel that term also implies intent?

Continued...

One Brow said...

The standard is a reasonable fear your life is in danger. If someone knocks me out and cuts into me, I have a reasonable fear my life is in danger.

That's not relevant in the case of the fetus, who is not assaulting the mother at all, or the conjoined twin, who is not assaulting his sibling at all.


Both the mother and the conjoined twin have a reasonable fear of their life being in danger, though. Certainly, just as reasonable as your fear of dying from a needle being inserted into a vein.

This is getting you nowhere, and I'm tired of repeating myself.

I disagree. It's gotten me to the point where you have fully clarified your position. Where did you think I have been trying to go?

That makes one of us.

Feel free to stop at any time, or ask me questions, or anything else that you think will improve the conversation from your end.

Assault requires either the intent or potential to do you harm.

Any potential, no matter how small? Any harm, whether immediate or remote?

Then what is your goal in this argument? Tedium? If so, congratulations.

Have we been having an argument? Have I taken any firm position in the last 10 comments or so? I've been asking you questions and trying to interpret your responses, to better have a discussion in this or another thread.

However, if you want to have an argument on the topic, I think I understand your position well enough to have a productive one.

Most people would not locate that wrongness in having violated the dead person's rights, but in some sort of perversion of your own will.

I believe the relevant laws refer to the abuse of a corpse, not a perversion of will. Some rights even survive your death, among them is the right to not have your body abused in ways you do not approve of.

No, they most certainly don't.

Yes, they most certainly do. They are still learning how to control their actions, but they look around, respond to touch, begin the process of engaging in feedback, etc. My first son lifted his head to look at me on th eday he was born.

We do have a decent idea of what constituted a person. That's how we know the brain dead and infants are people, despite the fact that they cannot form an intent.

How do we know they are persons? What's your basic idea here (no I'm not expecting a precise definition)?

You just keep repeating the same old tired analogies while leaving out all of my objections.

You finally responded to the last part of the hypothetical (still not an analogy), so I am finished with that.

If not, please read my silence as an indication of whether or not your argument is strong enough to require an answer.

I'll certainly read that as one possible reason you might not respond.

Now, if you want to make a case that the (non-intentional) assault of an embryo carries no potential for harm at all to the woman, feel free to make that case. Otherwise, you seem to have made the case for abortion being legal. Pregnancy carries a reasonable risk of harm, and yo uhave been very clear that if you are under a risk of harm from an assault, you may kill an innocent to stop the assault.

We can also discuss the conjoined twin, if you like. The reasoning is similar.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
@Chad,

You have amazing patience. I agree with your assessment.


Not only that, he has laid out a consistent, well-thought schema for evaluation the rights people have. That's commendable, and very rare for the anti-abortion group.

bmiller said...

@David,

I have to ask how your response answered Chad's question"

Does personhood really exist or is it a convention?

If it exists, (even if only as a reality we don't have complete epistemic access to) you haven't rebutted my argument.

If it doesn't, then you and the fetus are in exactly the same boat.


OK, you are on record that they exist.

It seems plausible to me that the two may form rather different conceptualisations associated to 'foetus' but, importantly, they will agree that the term refers to exactly the same objects. Which one has the right conceptualisation? How could we tell?

Right. Chad's argument has always been in the absence of being able to answer the question of "How could we tell?" the only morally acceptable answer is to avoid possibly killing a person.

I'm very confused by your answer.

David Brightly said...

Morning BM. I hope I've said enough for it to seem reasonable that Chad's question poses a false dichotomy and that the answer to my rhetorical question is that there is no right conceptualisation. Only different, more or less effective conceptualisations that enable us to get by in the world.

bmiller said...

@David,

Only different, more or less effective conceptualisations that enable us to get by in the world.

You use the word "us". Do you mean "us persons"? If someone doesn't consider you a "person" you will not get by very well in the world would you? History is pretty clear on this.

David Brightly said...

Yes, certainly.

bmiller said...

So it is morally acceptable to you for X to kill Y because X doesn't consider Y a "person" even though Z does consider Y a "person"? Maybe the reason X doesn't consider Y a "person" is because Y is a Jew.

David Brightly said...

I don't think this follows from what I've said so far. In fact I think it would depend on whether I considered Y a person. (BTW, why the quotes around the word 'person'?) In the specific case you suggest, X's judgement would be false, surely? Just out of interest, do you know if anyone, eg at Nuremberg, ever offered this as a defence?

bmiller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bmiller said...

@David,

In fact I think it would depend on whether I considered Y a person.

This is kind of the point of the discussion. Most people consider killing an innocent person the worst crime possible. X doesn't think he is killing an innocent person. You may think he is. Neither of you have absolute certainty on your side. Your not killing Y due to your conclusion will not result in an innocent death. X killing Y due to his conclusion could result in an innocent death.

Is there no fact of the matter that some person is or is not being killed in the case that X kills Y?

I put quotes around the word person because we are discussing it's definition. It means one thing to you and another to me. I can stop with the quotes if you prefer.

In the specific case you suggest, X's judgement would be false, surely?

You may think this, but of course you were brought up to believe this and formed the concept that X's act is immoral. X may have been brought up differently and formed the concept that his act is moral. What should I as a third party propose to cause the least harm to a possibly innocent person?

I don't have Nuremberg documentation handy, but this is a theoretical discussion right? Or are you proposing that no one would make that sort of justification for killing?

Chad Handley said...

"Which one has the right conceptualisation? How could we tell?"

What difference does it make?

There's only one ethical thing to do in the absence of certainty about whether the fetus is a person.

It doesn't matter WHY you're not certain if the fetus is a person.

Chad Handley said...

One Brow:

"Now, if you want to make a case that the (non-intentional) assault of an embryo carries no potential for harm at all to the woman, feel free to make that case."

I cannot have a productive conversation with someone ignorant or dishonest enough to describe a pregnancy as an "assault of an embryo."

Chad Handley said...

David Brightly:

"Morning BM. I hope I've said enough for it to seem reasonable that Chad's question poses a false dichotomy and that the answer to my rhetorical question is that there is no right conceptualisation."

If there is such a thing as a person, then how could it be that the statement "either the fetus is a person or it is not" is false?

Chad Handley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad Handley said...

One Brow:

I'll offer one last clarification to show where your argument is going wrong.

The closest I came to allowing that an assault can be non-intentional and yet still allow for the use of potentially deadly use of force in self defense was in the hypothetical case of the armed gunman undergoing a seizure.

The only time potentially deadly force would be justified against a target unintentionally assaulting you is if the unintentional assault constituted a serious risk of harm.

A normal, healthy pregnancy simply does not meet that threshold.

Consider that only 700 women per year die from complications of pregnancy in the United States, according to the CDC

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-relatedmortality.htm)

Compare that to the 36,000 people a year in the United States that die from the flu:

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-relatedmortality.htm)

If your argument is right, and the risk to a pregnant woman is high enough to justify possibly killing an innocent person, then surely I have the right to kill anyone around me who might infect me with the flu, since the flu is far more deadly than pregnancy.

bmiller said...

@Chad,

Sorry if I muddied the waters in your dialog with David.
Since you're back I'll refrain from commenting.

Chad Handley said...

"Since you're back I'll refrain from commenting."

I'm far from a sure thing to stick around.

I'm just not into this argument by exhaustion technique that internet atheists seem to specialize in.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad, David and bmiller,
This has been super interesting so, even though it's a very long thread, I hope you'll all stick around a bit more because it opened up a lot of questions. I have been slow to respond personally because this is a much more complex issue than other threads, and I have work, school, job interviews and travels... brb...

Hugo Pelland said...

(And One Brow! How could I forget...)

bmiller said...

@Chad,

I hear you about getting exhausted by going in circles.

I don't think David is doing that. I just can't get a firm grip on what his position is. Maybe it's the English vs American English thing or maybe I flat out don't get it. Maybe you do.

David Brightly said...

Suppose the world contained instruments that reliably (or so we think) detect personhood. We try them out by putting the same object in front of each detector and seeing what they read. And we find they agree. Presented with a rock they all say, No personhood here, and with Mr Trump they all say, Yes, personhood present. And presented with anything we would ordinarily judge as a person they say Yes and with anything we ordinarily judge as non-person they say No. So far so good. But then we find a class of things that roughly half the detectors agree contain personhood and roughly half agree that they don't. We can't open up the instruments to fix up the ones that have gone wrong. We are stuck. There is no way to proceed. The instruments are of course ourselves and this is our predicament. There are genuine situations, say where the objects of study are ourselves, or some other sort of reflexivity or self-reference arises, in which the Law of Excluded Middle seems to fail.

David Brightly said...

Apologies, BM, I didn't respond to your comment @ October 03, 2018 4:31 PM. You ask, Is there no fact of the matter that some person is or is not being killed in the case that X kills Y? I'd have to say that it depends on what Y is. If everybody apart from X thinks Y is a person it rather looks as if X is perverse, no? The instrument is faulty. On the other hand, if there is an established community of X-like thinkers then it may be the case that there is no fact of the matter as to Y's personhood, or so I claim. But that claim itself rests on a certain conception of how our minds grasp the world. We just have to go on talking about it, I guess. Maybe the concept of personhood needs further elucidation.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
I'll offer one last clarification to show where your argument is going wrong.

I appreciate the attempt.

The closest I came to allowing that an assault can be non-intentional and yet still allow for the use of potentially deadly use of force in self defense was in the hypothetical case of the armed gunman undergoing a seizure.

The only time potentially deadly force would be justified against a target unintentionally assaulting you is if the unintentional assault constituted a serious risk of harm.


Interesting how you used "target" in that sentence. In the case of the needle in your vein being connected to another person, the target of your response is the person unintentionally assaulting you and posing no serious risk to you, while you are responding to the assault of someone who is not the target.

A normal, healthy pregnancy simply does not meet that threshold.

A threshold you have yet to define.

Consider that only 700 women per year die from complications of pregnancy in the United States, according to the CDC

There are fewer people that die from being separated from a conjoined twin. :)

If your argument is right, and the risk to a pregnant woman is high enough to justify possibly killing an innocent person, then surely I have the right to kill anyone around me who might infect me with the flu, since the flu is far more deadly than pregnancy.

See, this is an argument by analogy. I'll admit it's quicker than my discussion technique, but it also reveals much less about basic stands and principles.

If the person with the flu is engaging in the actions that could infect you, don't you have a right to (proportionately) make them stop such actions? You can move away, have the boss send them home sick, etc. If there were such proportional alternatives for abortion, I would heartily endorse them.

Since this may be the last time you respond to me, let's be frank: your positions on abortion and other events in this discussion are based on your emotional reactions to the different events, which is as good a way for you to decide what is right as any other. However, we need a different type of basis for the law.

bmiller said...

On the other hand, if there is an established community of X-like thinkers then it may be the case that there is no fact of the matter as to Y's personhood, or so I claim.

So if X is a Nazi and Nazi's consider Jews and Slavs subhuman non-persons, "facts of the matter" change and it's OK to kill them?

Does the sudden growing community of flat-earth believers mean there is no longer any "fact of the matter" of whether the earth is round or not?

Chad Handley said...

David:

"There are genuine situations, say where the objects of study are ourselves, or some other sort of reflexivity or self-reference arises, in which the Law of Excluded Middle seems to fail."

I'm just not seeing how this follows from anything you say.

That there is disagreement about whether an entity is either "x" or "not x" does not imply that the entity is NEITHER "x' nor "not x."

UNLESS that entity is only "x" or "not x" as a matter of agreement/convention, and has no underlying metaphysical reality.

Chad Handley said...

"There are fewer people that die from being separated from a conjoined twin. :)"

The mortality rate of the specific hypothetical conjoined twin operation under discussion is 100%. 100% of conjoined twins not viable on their own will die as a result of an operation to separate them.

If pregnancy had a 100% mortality rate, I would advocate for abortion rights even if there was only 1 pregnancy a year.

You're really bad at this.

"You can move away, have the boss send them home sick, etc. If there were such proportional alternatives for abortion, I would heartily endorse them."

There are. You can go to an ob/gyn and see whether or not pregnancy poses any serious health risks to you.

"A threshold you have yet to define."

What?

No, seriously... WHAT????

I've defined the threshold as "a reasonable fear for your life" only about six or seven times!

You're either too dishonest or too thick to bother with, One Brow.

Goodbye.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

This has been super interesting so, even though it's a very long thread, I hope you'll all stick around a bit more because it opened up a lot of questions.

The reason I stopped discussing this with you was because it seemed you were entirely uninterested in trying to understand your opponents position.

If you are interested in a prominent philosophical position for the immorality of abortion, you can find it here. The Last Superstition: provides a more detailed background for the philosophical argument, but you will have to put up with polemics.

If you're not interested that's OK with me too.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
You're really bad at this.

As noted by the commentator who either missed the emoticon entirely, or gave no evidence for understanding the significance of it.

"You can move away, have the boss send them home sick, etc. If there were such proportional alternatives for abortion, I would heartily endorse them."

There are. You can go to an ob/gyn and see whether or not pregnancy poses any serious health risks to you.


Define "serious". Absent the ability to see the future, every pregnancy has risk, so without a why to determine when the risk is "serious", that's just an empty word.

At any rate, seeing an OB/Gyn is not an alternative to abortion, anymore than seeing general practitioner is an alternative to removing the threat of contagion from the flu. Seriously, if I was your boss, and you came to me because your cube-mate came into work with the flu, and my response was to tell you to go to the doctor, do you think that would solve your issue? An alternative to abortion would involve removal of the embryo/fetus without killing it, just as you don't have to kill the guy with the flu in order to remove the threat of infection.

"A threshold you have yet to define."

What?

No, seriously... WHAT????


Yes, seriously. In fact, the issue is that "serious" doesn't define anything.

I've defined the threshold as "a reasonable fear for your life" only about six or seven times!

Reasonable in whose eyes? Who are you to decide if a mortality rate of 0.0175% is a risk that another person should take? That doesn't include the other possible complications that are non-lethal.

Unless you are saying that, in the case of the epileptic with the gun having a seizure, you can provide evidence that your change of being killed is larger than 0.0175%.

You're either too dishonest or too thick to bother with, One Brow.

Goodbye.


I agree it's best you leave this conversation. It's getting dangerous for you. After all, you bypassed how your definition of assault, and the allowable responses, covers embryonic attachment, rather than give a credible argument.

Basically, you are engaging in special pleading, holding a different standard for embryos than for other stages of human life. I can understand why you would not want to acknowledge it.

Thank you for the conversation.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
@Hugo,

If you are interested in a prominent philosophical position for the immorality of abortion, you can find it here. The Last Superstition: provides a more detailed background for the philosophical argument, but you will have to put up with polemics.

If you're not interested that's OK with me too.


You can also find multiple critiques of the inadequacy and arbitrariness of determining morality using the Aristotelian-Thomist constructions. If you are interested in philosophical constructs generally, they are a nice historical study.

David Brightly said...

BM: The account I’m giving says that there can be no fact of the matter in the contested cases when a genuine ambiguity as to the extension of a term arises in a linguistic community. I suspect it takes longer than a couple of decades for such an ambiguity to develop as it’s a question of successive generations learning to use a word differently. I also suspect that Nazi propagandists fully understood Jews and others to be persons. Portraying them as otherwise was a cynical ploy to engender popular antipathy and violence towards them. Much was done to keep the final solution secret. Regarding flat-earthers, there is no ambiguity as to the meaning of terms as far as I can see, so the theory doesn’t apply. Perhaps they think the empirical evidence they contest is the result of a conspiracy.

Chad: Disagreement about whether an entity is either "x" or "not x" does not imply that the entity is NEITHER "x' nor "not x." Certainly. That would be too strong a claim. But suppose the term 'x' was ambiguous between a narrow sense and a wider sense which included the narrower. There would be disagreement about x. Something might be x under the wider sense but not x under the narrower one. So x breaks the Law of Non-Contradiction. Hence it's not fit for purpose as a logical predicate. It's inherently inconsistent and we should avoid saying that a thing must be either x or not x.

bmiller said...

@David,

Are you a Nazi?

bmiller said...

@Chad,

You're too dishonest and too thick to bother with, One Brow.

Fixed it for you.

David Brightly said...

Good God, man! No! What on earth leads you to ask me that? Not the nicest thing to read over breakfast.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Fixed it for you.

There are people in the world who, should they approve of you, make you wonder if you said it wrong.

bmiller said...

Sorry, but your responses have been so odd I wonder why you chose to focus whether Nazis have been treated fairly or not.

This was your second response that included an inference that Nazi's did not consider some groups as subhuman. That is an entirely different question than the hypothetical question I asked.

This is also irrelevant to the question I asked:
I suspect it takes longer than a couple of decades for such an ambiguity to develop as it’s a question of successive generations learning to use a word differently.?

I never received an answer. I reflected on why you would avoid answering and why you've brought up Nazi's being misunderstood twice now.

If you don't answer questions straightforwardly, then I have to make guesses why from the clues you've provided.

Thank you for finally answering a question with a yes or no.

David Brightly said...

Ah, I see. Perhaps my replies have been a bit terse. The idea is that it takes several generations for a semantic divergence to occur. Nazi ideology was around for one generation at most. So it rather looks as if, rather than doing evil through a false understanding, the Nazis deliberately chose to do evil by manipulating the understanding of others. It's the latter that Orwell warned us against in 1984 (in 1948).

bmiller said...

@David,

While actual Nazi history may be an interesting subject. It is irrelevant to the question I am interested in having you answer.

So if X is a Nazi and Nazi's consider Jews and Slavs subhuman non-persons, "facts of the matter" change and it's OK to kill them?

It's not if X is actually a Nazi.
It's not if Nazi's actually consider Jews and Slavs subhuman non-persons. It could be a fictional group for that matter.
It's not how long the Nazis (or the fictional group) took to form their ideas.

It plainly seems that you don't want to answer.

Chad Handley said...

Moving on to the sensible and interesting opposition...

David:

"Something might be x under the wider sense but not x under the narrower one. So x breaks the Law of Non-Contradiction. Hence it's not fit for purpose as a logical predicate. It's inherently inconsistent and we should avoid saying that a thing must be either x or not x."

Can you name an x for which this is the case?

Hugo Pelland said...

The Sun is star. It is in the broad sense that it's a giant ball of hydrogen, but it's not one of those things we see at night and generally call stars.

Chad Handley said...

You're just talking about simple equivocation, using a singular term in two disparate senses in the same argument. The law of the Excluded Middle doesn't fail apply just because a person commits an equivocation fallacy, or is sloppy in their definitions.

IOW

"The sun is either a star or it is not"

is true despite the fact that we use the term "star" in different senses sometimes.

I'm looking for a case where it's not just simple equivocation, where term "x" is in use, and is widely agree to refer to something real and not dependent on convention, but for which the statement "every object is either x or not x" does not apply.

Hugo Pelland said...

I think it's the perfect example because there is an equivocation fallacy when it comes to a human embryo. Is it human? Yes. Is it a human? No. What about a fetus? Same until... I'm not sure.

But anyway, you were asking David; sorry for the intrusion. I really just had a few minutes today anyway... hopefully more on that later this week. Thanks again for the insights folks.

Chad Handley said...

"I think it's the perfect example because there is an equivocation fallacy when it comes to a human embryo. Is it human? Yes. Is it a human? No. What about a fetus? Same until... I'm not sure."

I'm sorry, but this is just a cheap cop-out.

1) When we're asking whether the embryo/fetus is a person in the context of an abortion discussion, we all know exactly what concept of "person" is being discussed: does the embryo/fetus have rights, including the right to life, or not?

The suggestion that the fetus is NEITHER a person nor not a person IN THE RELEVANT SENSE of person, (IOW, that it NEITHER has the right to life nor lacks the right to life), makes absolutely no sense.

2) Besides which, if my argument was guilty of equivocation, we wouldn't need to go so far as to say the concept of the excluded middle doesn't apply to the term "person!" You could just point out the part of my argument where I'm equivocating on the term "person."

3) Once again, this would put all of us and the embryo/fetus in the same boat. If the term "person" is so vague and ambiguous that the fetus is NEITHER a person nor NOT a person, then the same would apply to all of us. We couldn't say any of us were persons and therefore we couldn't say whether or not any of us had rights.

All the cures you pro-abortion folks have come up with for my argument are far worse than the disease. In the process of making it permissible to terminate pregnancies, you end up making it permissible to terminate everyone.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
Moving on to the sensible and interesting opposition...

That one where you don't need to engage in special pleading to make your argument work?

bmiller said...

All the cures you pro-abortion folks have come up with for my argument are far worse than the disease. In the process of making it permissible to terminate pregnancies, you end up making it permissible to terminate everyone.

Thank goodness normal people have enough of a working moral compass to recognize that it's inherently wrong to kill an innocent human being. They feel compelled to define those they propose to be unworthy of life as less than human and therefore acceptable to kill.

Chad Handley said...

"That one where you don't need to engage in special pleading to make your argument work?"

The one where I don't have to deal with people who, in order to make their tortured analogies relevant to a typical case of abortion, have to pretend that an embryo is guilty of committing assault, or is a means by which some third party is committing assault. And who is therefore force to pretend that any action that one would be justified in taking against someone who assaulted you or is being used to assault you applies to someone who is neither assaulting you nor being used to assault you.

And where I don't have to deal with people who, in order to make the case that abortion is reasonable on self-defense grounds, are forced to claim that a normal pregnancy is as dangerous as being in the presence of a crazed gunman randomly firing off bullets. And who is therefore forced to pretend that any action that one would be justified in taking against a crazed gunman one would also be justified in taking against a pregnancy.

If you find yourself arguing with someone too thick or too dishonest to realize these arguments are absurd, it's best just to back away and let the madman continue to believe he's won.

bmiller said...

Far far away.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
"That one where you don't need to engage in special pleading to make your argument work?"

The one where I don't have to deal with people who, in order to make their tortured analogies


Again, I didn't make an analogy. As I occasionally do, I was trying to learn what you consider to be the basis of your beliefs. Not once did I say "abortion is like this" or "that compares to abortion". You made the only analogies in our discussion.

When discussing abortion with bmiller, I asked enough to understand his objections are based Thomastic concepts. When discussing with LegionofLogic, I asked enough to understand that his views are based in notions of responsibilities and consequences. Yours are based on a notion of fundamental rights. These are different anti-abortion approaches (and there are others), and you each deserve the consideration of having a discussion on the postions you endorse. I can't do that if I don't understand what you believe.

have to pretend that an embryo is guilty of committing assault,

Guilt requires intent, and in your definition of assault, you specifically said intent was not required. Embryos are not guilty of anything, and I did not say they were.

or is a means by which some third party is committing assault.

There is no third party required in your description, either.

And who is therefore force to pretend that any action that one would be justified in taking against someone who assaulted you or is being used to assault you applies to someone who is neither assaulting you nor being used to assault you.

By the definition of assault you gave, the embryonic attachment is assault. That doesn't a make an embryo guilty, because they lack intent.

As a reminder, here is what you have said on assault:

"I only meant to leave room for the right to take possibly lethal action in self defense against someone posing a possibly lethal threat to you."

"Someone is doing something to you (or attempting to do something to you) that can harm you physically without your permission."

Pregnancies are potentially lethal, at the 0.0175 rate, and there can be non-lethal life-altering physical effects. An unwanted pregnancy is is an embryo (without intent or guilt) doing something to a woman that can potentially harm her without her permission. Your own definition for assault is met.

Continued...

One Brow said...

And where I don't have to deal with people who, in order to make the case that abortion is reasonable on self-defense grounds, are forced to claim that a normal pregnancy is as dangerous as being in the presence of a crazed gunman randomly firing off bullets. And who is therefore forced to pretend that any action that one would be justified in taking against a crazed gunman one would also be justified in taking against a pregnancy.

You don't have to deal with me at all. You also don't need to make snide implications about me when responding to another poster. They were both your choice.

This is the first time you have discussed the "crazed gunman", and I'm not sure what "crazed" means in this context. Previously, you only discussed the person undergoing an epileptic seizure, and I don't think you can say with authority that your chances of death in that situation are any higher than the chances of death during a pregnancy.

If you find yourself arguing with someone too thick or too dishonest to realize these arguments are absurd, it's best just to back away and let the madman continue to believe he's won.

If you really want to be done with me, just stop. Why post snide insults at all? I don't need an answer to that question, it was strictly for you to ask yourself.

So far you have mischaracterized my opinions and statements, made false claims about my intentions (that I am trying to win), said outright that I lack sympathy for those who are not able to sustain themselves, and directly insulted me. Meanwhile, when I say something that becomes too uncomfortable for you (such as the notion that being force to carry an unwanted pregnancy is a state of involuntary servitude), you drop that like a hot potato, without so much as a acknowledgement that it is a consideration. So, I'm not to invested in whether you think I'm a madman.

As for winning, I'm well aware no one wins in a disagreement on the internet. I'm just looking for an exchange of ideas on this. You can, and should continue to set your own standards, and should not object to the use of special pleading if you feel embryos are special.

Chad Handley said...

You're not actually interested in anything I have to say, you're interested in proof-texting my responses, picking the off-hand remarks that are subject to misinterpretation, and then ignoring later explanations and clarifications.

To wit:

"Someone is doing something to you (or attempting to do something to you) that can harm you physically without your permission."

That's not ALL I had to say about assault. I repeatedly amended that definition to include that in order to justify the use of potentially lethal action in self defense, the harm from the assault had to be SERIOUS, severe, or potentially life threatening. Such that a REASONABLE PERSON would agree that the potentially lethal action was justified on self-defense grounds.

I gave the example that while a woman slapping me would technically be assaulting me, that assault would not justify my shooting her because the assault was not enough for a reasonable person to grant that a potentially lethal response was warranted.

So, please, please, PLEASE stop pretending you are asking me questions to get clarity on my position, when you ignore my clarifications to cherry-pick my responses for comments that are useful to you.

A pregnancy OBVIOUSLY does not meet my REPEATEDLY expanded, clarified notion of *THE KIND OF ASSAULT* THAT JUSTIFIES LETHAL FORCE IN SELF DEFENSE.

To wit:

"Pregnancies are potentially lethal, at the 0.0175 rate..."

Cool. That's roughly the same mortality rate of the flu/pneumonia.

Source: https://www.lung.org/assets/documents/research/pi-trend-report.pdf

So, if you were locked in a room with a woman with the flu/pneumonia, and could not escape the room, would you be justified in killing the woman to prevent yourself from getting the flu/pneumonia?

Of course not because your argument is dumb.

Final answer.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad said:
"All the cures you pro-abortion folks have come up with for my argument are far worse than the disease. In the process of making it permissible to terminate pregnancies, you end up making it permissible to terminate everyone."

Please explain, if you care, why anyone should take you seriously after this? Calling the pro-CHOICE side pro-abortion is a strawman, and you know it. Why be so dishonest and/or misleading?

bmiller called you patient... I think anyone engaging your emotional rhetoric is patient... you just spit out the truth: you see the other side as pro-abortion. Shame on you.

David Brightly said...

BM,
If group X thinks of group Y as subhuman then they are making an empirical mistake, eg, from DNA evidence, though I suppose this might be disputed too. If they think of them as non-persons then no doubt this makes it psychologically easier for them to kill Ys but I don't see this as having any impact on our own moral judgement. One would clearly worry here that what I'm saying about 'no fact of the matter' cases could lead to morally repugnant conclusions. But NFOTM cases depend on a divergence of meaning, in this case, 'person'. If I'm right that the core sense of 'person' is learned by example when we are quite young (see comment at October 02, 2018 4:12 PM), I can't see how the Xs can diverge from the non-Xs in their understanding of 'person' unless their learning has been systematically perverted in some Orwellian fashion. This is enough to destroy the symmetry which might otherwise lead us to think that the Xs were just as right as the non-Xs.

bmiller said...

@David,

If group X thinks of group Y as subhuman then they are making an empirical mistake, eg, from DNA evidence, though I suppose this might be disputed too.

Yes, in fact Darwin disputed your position.

I'll point out though, that your own example would include the newly conceived as fully human, empirically.

If they think of them as non-persons then no doubt this makes it psychologically easier for them to kill Ys but I don't see this as having any impact on our own moral judgement.

It would have an effect if our thought process leads us to the conclusion that there is now *no fact of the matter*. Your claim is that when a term is in dispute, there is NFOTHN right?

If I'm right that the core sense of 'person' is learned by example when we are quite young (see comment at October 02, 2018 4:12 PM)

First people learn what words mean by being taught. If a child points to a dog and says "cat", he is corrected. Words and meanings are taught.

Second, the word 'person' in Western society has historically meant a particular individual rational substance as opposed to a undifferentiated one. For instance, *Fred* as opposed *a human being*. The confusion regarding the term is a more recent attempt at shifting the meaning.

I can't see how the Xs can diverge from the non-Xs in their understanding of 'person' unless their learning has been systematically perverted in some Orwellian fashion. This is enough to destroy the symmetry which might otherwise lead us to think that the Xs were just as right as the non-Xs.

If you were taught that some groups are subhuman you are likely to believe it. As a non-X you may think X's thoughts were perverted. They may think your's were.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

You've expressed your displeasure with a label applied to you. Fair enough.

Are you going to address the substance of the 3 points Chad made in response to you?

bmiller said...

@David,

A correction to the above:
NFOTHN s/b NFOTM

David Brightly said...

BM,
Your claim is that when a term is in dispute, there is NFOTHM right? Yes, but not when there is a relevant asymmetry between the parties.

Second, the word 'person' in Western society...Well, that's what certain theorists have surmised when trying to come up with an analytic expression for a concept that's been learned synthetically.

They may think your's were. They probably would. But at risk of some cognitive dissonnance they could also ask themselves why the Ys were excepted. The absurdities can be seen from within the system. Cf, the collapse of communism.

Hugo Pelland said...

@bmiller
It's not just a label to say "pro-abortion", it's a strawman, and obviously on purpose. The main point of the pro-choice position is in its label: it is about choice. There are tons pro-choice women who would never get an abortion. And there are people on the other extreme who claim that a newborn could be disposed of... but even them might not claim they are pro-abortion. I have literally never heard anyone claiming they want more abortions to take place!

Yes, I had time to address the content now.
Coming up...

Hugo Pelland said...

@Chad
I don't understand what you're getting at. Here's once again what David had said and what I agree with:
David:
"Something might be x under the wider sense but not x under the narrower one. So x breaks the Law of Non-Contradiction. Hence it's not fit for purpose as a logical predicate. It's inherently inconsistent and we should avoid saying that a thing must be either x or not x."
The example of "star" fits perfectly.

For an embryo, this applies too because the only reason you claim that an embryo might be a person is because it's a 'human' embryo. No?
You wouldn't claim that a dog embryo might be a person... The mechanisms is identical for the entire animal kingdom, and maybe even more.

Therefore, there's an implication here: because a human embryo is human, in the sense that it came from 2 humans, it might itself be a human, a person. That's what I see as a completely irrational equivocation. We use the label person, human beings with rights, for something else entirely.

Now, with that in mind, how does it apply to the specific point you presented?

"1) we all know exactly what concept of "person" is being discussed: does the embryo/fetus have rights, including the right to life, or not?"

Sure, we could discuss whether an embryo has rights. But starting with the proposition that it might be a person is a non starter. This is literally just a few cells we're talking about. I know, I'm repeating... but that's so freaking important because we're looking at it in 2 different ways. I even showed that I do understand your position Chad. You said you couldn't have put it better yourself! Yet, you failed in 2 ways:

1) The fact that we came from an embryo doesn't imply that embryos are possibly people with rights. The error here is to assume that the embryo was "us" from the start. But how could you possibly justify that you were already "you" when you were just a few cells, or even a fetus?

The embryo has meaning for someone else though: the mother. And it happens to be attached to her body. So why not let her make the call?

2) You're defining things into existence instead of looking at existence and defining what we're talking about. For the definition of "person" specifically, I reject your claim that there's some metaphysical "person" to look for in the real world. It's the other way around. We have conventions, wores, we use to describe things around us and one of these things is "person", with rights. Yes, it can get to debates as to what is a person exactly, as mentioned in several comments above, but it's the correct way to define "person". We strip people of their rights all the time anyway, so I don't even see why that's relevant.

Next point:
"2) Besides which, if my argument was guilty of equivocation, we wouldn't need to go so far as to say the concept of the excluded middle doesn't apply to the term "person!" You could just point out the part of my argument where I'm equivocating on the term "person."

But it's always about that equivocation because there is no reason to label the fertilization process as the creation of a person with rights. But you are saying it's "possible". You're applying a label to an object that has nothing to do with the usage of that label. That's an equivocation fallacy.

Point 3
"3) Once again, this would put all of us and the embryo/fetus in the same boat.
...
In the process of making it permissible to terminate pregnancies, you end up making it permissible to terminate everyone."


But you're the one putting us in the same boat! You claim it's possible that an embryo is a person! Don't you realize that there might be as many as 50% of embryos that don't become babies? You're the one implying that people are not that special if they're just like embryos.

Hugo Pelland said...

Finally, to wrap this up, there's a concept that has been taught to most of us here:
the soul.

I learned I had a soul as a child. As bmiller said, we learn that cat is for cats and not dogs. It seems to me that it's the obvious explanation for that confusion with embryos being people. It's really about that magical thing called a soul. When does that start to exist?

Obviously, the answer is never, because there is no such life essence, some thing thar isn't tied to our material body. It's just some wishful thinking that we were told about as children. And it's hard to let go of that idea. It's hard to not see a fetus as a little soul.

But, I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth. Nobody mentioned a soul here, but...

David Brightly said...

Chad,
Can I name an x for which this is the case? No, I can't, apart from the instance under discussion. Obviously there are vaguenesses of boundary in things where growth and development take place. A sapling is clearly a tree but asked to count the trees in the wood we'd probably ignore the saplings. 'Person' is peculiar in that we all learn its meaning synthetically and then some of us come to extend this meaning analytically. I can't come up with something similar. Hugo's example, Is the Sun a star? doesn't quite work. Being told for the first time that the Sun is a star should indeed cause a child to ask some questions, but we have accommodated Sun to star by reconceptualising both by means of physical theory and measurement. Is the same path open to us with 'person'? I don't think so. This is the kernel of the NFOTM idea. The possible non-emptiness of the coffin is empirically decidable. But not the personhood of the foetus. Is there another way of deciding the question?

On the equivocation issue that came up, I see no equivocation in your position. Interestingly, 'person' isn't at all vague for you though it has vague boundaries for your opponents. But it's not so vague that we can't all agree that adults are persons.

One Brow said...

Chad Handley said...
That's not ALL I had to say about assault. I repeatedly amended that definition to include that in order to justify the use of potentially lethal action in self defense, the harm from the assault had to be SERIOUS, severe, or potentially life threatening. Such that a REASONABLE PERSON would agree that the potentially lethal action was justified on self-defense grounds.

I'm a reasonable person who thinks that abortion, due to the potentially life-threatening nature of a pregnancy, is justified self-defense for the woman who does not want to become pregnant.

So, please, please, PLEASE stop pretending you are asking me questions to get clarity on my position, when you ignore my clarifications to cherry-pick my responses for comments that are useful to you.

I'm not ignoring anything. I am simply noting that you are engaged in special pleading.

A pregnancy OBVIOUSLY does not meet my REPEATEDLY expanded, clarified notion of *THE KIND OF ASSAULT* THAT JUSTIFIES LETHAL FORCE IN SELF DEFENSE.

Except, it does. I'm not sure why you are in denial about it.

To wit:

So, if you were locked in a room with a woman with the flu/pneumonia, and could not escape the room, would you be justified in killing the woman to prevent yourself from getting the flu/pneumonia?

I'd ask her not to sneeze on me or touch me (because flu is spread by contact). If the room is so small that we are forced into contact, I'd ask her to face away.

What's amusing is that this situation is every bit as much an assault on me as the vein in your arm was on you, yet somehow you have come to the opposite conclusion regarding the presumably innocent party. Again, more special pleading.

Final answer.

Works for me. Hope is once more extinguished.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

You didn't read the article I linked to did you?

bmiller said...

@David,

Yes, but not when there is a relevant asymmetry between the parties.

You have not identitified any asymmetry, unless you mean your own disagreement with Xs.

Well, that's what certain theorists have surmised when trying to come up with an analytic expression for a concept that's been learned synthetically.

It's simply the historical definition of the word. If different theorists disagree with the concept they should have come up with a different word rather than to twist the existing one. That is rather Orwellian isn't it?

By the way, what do you mean by "learned synthetically" and what other means of learning do you claim there are?

They probably would. But at risk of some cognitive dissonnance they could also ask themselves why the Ys were excepted. The absurdities can be seen from within the system. Cf, the collapse of communism.

I assume they would point out Darwin's reasons for excepting Ys just like the eugenicists that followed Darwin.

No one opposing the pro-life position has provided a definition of "person" but yet they use this as the criteria for killing or not killing the unborn. Chad's scenario allows his opponent's their use of the term for the sake of argument. He then demonstrates how even under their own terms, it would be immoral to kill the unborn. So under these circumstances, your NFOTM argument is irrelevant. You must first convince those opposing the pro-life position that they are wrong to use the term in the first place.

Hugo Pelland said...

@bmiller
Yes and no, I clicked on the link, read the first paragraph, and moved on. I didn't see the relevance nor why I should care about Darwin's opinion... on anything.
What's your point?

Btw, will you also address the content of what I said? You complained about that...

Hugo Pelland said...

@David,
I am surprised you say that the 'star' example isn't a good one. It does fit that statement you made: "Something might be x under the wider sense but not x under the narrower one."
The Sun is a star, because of what we know about it physically, but it's not a star we see at night, which is what we usually refer to as 'star'.

Again, same thing with a human embryo, because it is human, but not a human. Yet, the argument about the uncertainty of whether an embryo has rights always rotates around that notion. It tries to extend the definition of what a human is (as a noun) to anything that is human (as an adjective). But then, it doesn't apply to spermatazeon, eggs, hair, teeth, only because of some cherry-picking around the uniqueness of DNA (as if there was something really special about a unique strange) and the fact that it could become something meaningful, i.e. because of that potential of actually becoming a human person.

bmiller said...

@Hugo,

I wasn't referring to the Darwin post.
I was referring to my post of October 04, 2018 8:14 AM and those links.

Chad Handley said...

Hugo,

I apologize for the pro-abortion comment. It was a slip of the keyboard, so to speak, I didn't mean anything by it.

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