Tuesday, August 04, 2020

A civil debate on abortion

The debate about abortion consists of the pro-life person screaming ABORTION IS MURDER as loud as possible, while the pro-choice person screams A WOMAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DO AS SHE PLEASES WITH HER OWN BODY as loud as possible. Whoever screams the loudest wins. 

 Just kidding (I hope). 


Does murder mean homicide without sufficient moral justification, or does it mean something more than that? If you can argue that abortions are homicides and that they are not justifiable homicides, is that all you mean when you say that abortion is murder? Or is something else needed?

The pro-life debater in this debate thinks it's a mistake to say that abortion is murder. The pro-choice debater thinks that there are a significant number of abortions that are morally unjustified. See this discussion.

366 comments:

1 – 200 of 366   Newer›   Newest»
Starhopper said...

I personally am firmly opposed to abortion and believe that it is an objective evil. However, I part company with the "pro-life" faction on 3 points.

1. I believe it is possible for a person to sincerely believe abortion is, under certain circumstances, acceptable - without making that person "evil", just mistaken (just as I believe it is possible for a person to be an honest atheist).

2. I believe that the solution to eliminating abortion is not through the law, but rather through education and persuasion.

3. I do not believe that abortion as a political issue trumps every other consideration. In fact, I object to its being a political issue at all. It was a colossal and tragic mistake to make it one.

bmiller said...

The "non-Catholic" position.

Starhopper said...

Do you ever reason for yourself, bmiller, or do you just parrot what you think is the Church position? Keep in mind, you are not the Magisterium.

bmiller said...

Do you ever reason for yourself, bmiller, or do you just parrot what you think is the Church position? Keep in mind, you are not the Magisterium.

I've presented you with exhaustive documentation from the Magisterium showing you the reasons I've reached the conclusions I have. You've presented nothing. If you want to disregard what the Magisterium teaches, that's your business.

However, I feel it's my duty to point out that your position is a "non-Catholic" position since you present yourself as a Catholic and people may be misled.

Starhopper said...

I would prefer the term a-Catholic, since it does not contradict anything the Church teaches, while not being dependent on any specific documentation. It is the result of actually thinking about the issue.

bmiller said...

I would prefer the term a-Catholic, since it does not contradict anything the Church teaches, while not being dependent on any specific documentation.

It doesn't really matter what you prefer. The position you espouse is actually non-Catholic and does contradict Church teaching as I've shown.

But go ahead and humor yourself if you want to imagine that Catholics are free to proclaim "a-Catholic" positions that are really non-Catholic positions. I will feel free to continue to point out that your position is non-Catholic so as not to mislead people.

Starhopper said...

I will give you the floor from here on out.
The entire subject is Bo-o-o-o-r-ing.
Have at it. I'm waiting for the next conversation.

bmiller said...

I agree that it's boring.

So why do you keep posting your same, monotonous non-Catholic views, unprompted, year after year?

Victor Reppert said...

The Church as teachings on Constitutional Law?

bmiller said...

The Church teaches that the intentional killing of innocent human beings is not permitted and so is a grave sin.

The Church teaches that it is the duty of the state to defend and support the weakest and most vunerable among us. The unborn are the weakest and most vunerable among us so the state must defend their right to exist.

The fact that we live in a society where everyone gets to vote automatically makes this issue a polictical issue regardless of what Starhopper thinks. I've posted the relevant documents in the past from JPII and Benedict XVI.

Long version:
"When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

Short version:
Here.

Now I understand that atheists will claim that human beings aren't really persons until some magically undefined time, so it is OK to destroy them before that magically undefined time, but I don't really understand why people who claim to be of the Christian tradition would say so. I would really be interested to see how those Christians distinguish themselves from the atheists.

Starhopper said...

"So why do you keep posting your same, monotonous non-Catholic (sic) views, unprompted, year after year?"

To serve as a counterweight to your totally non-Catholic thought processes that assume you must check your mind at the door when becoming a Catholic.

"I don't really understand why people who claim to be of the Christian tradition would say so."

Neither do I. But then, I don't truly understand how any rational person can be an atheist, a Republican, or a fan of rap "music". Yet there are such.

One Brow said...

bmiller,
The Church teaches that the intentional killing of innocent human beings is not permitted and so is a grave sin.

What's the Church's teaching on person A forcibly attaching themself to person B? Does person B have the right to detach themself even if person A will die?

Now I understand that atheists will claim that human beings aren't really persons until some magically undefined time, so it is OK to destroy them before that magically undefined time,

Different atheists claim different things, just like different Catholics, different Lutherans, different Hindus, etc.

I would really be interested to see how those Christians distinguish themselves from the atheists

Your position on abortion is the same as several atheists.

Starhopper said...

Victor will remember Bill Patterson. He was one of the most confirmed (and rational) atheists I've ever known, and also fiercely, uncompromisingly anti-abortion.

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

To serve as a counterweight to your totally non-Catholic thought processes that assume you must check your mind at the door when becoming a Catholic.

As I mentioned, I've presented exhaustive documentation supporting my orthodox position including the reasoning behind it. You're on record on this topic as saying that you don't rely on reasonable arguments (as you repeatedly demonstrate), so it's risible to see this post.

I'll also note that it was you that decided to rehash your non-Catholic views without any prompting from me.

Starhopper said...

I was following the example of President George W. Bush, and launching a preemptive strike. Shock and awe!

bmiller said...

I admit. It was "awful".

Victor Reppert said...

The American pro-life movement includes claims about the moral status of abortion, which fit with Catholic teaching. But it also includes the acceptance of originalist arguments against Roe v. Wade, which argue, not that the Constitution guarantees the right to life, but that the woman DOESN'T have a right to privacy. I find this problematic, moreso than the moral position on the right to life

Victor Reppert said...

Could a Catholic say this: Yes, abortion is bad, yes, it is almost always wrong, yes, it would be good if we could outlaw it, but the Constitution as it stands, and has been properly interpreted by the Supreme Court, makes this impossible. There is no guarantee that the morally correct position is supportable from a Constitutional standpoint, and in this case, it isn't. (The Constitution once had the 3/5 compromise in it, where black slaves were 3/5 of a person for the purposes of assigning representation in the House of Representatives). It would be good if we could amend the Constitution to outlaw abortion, but attempting to manipulate the Court through judicial philosophy in order to get a pro-life result is a misguided enterprise.

Legion of Logic said...

Roughly half the country disagrees that it was anything remotely resembling a proper interpretation. I certainly can't get Roe v Wade from even the most charitable reading of the Constitution. Looks to me like they wanted that result and carved it out from wherever they thought they could. The dissents are much more reasonable from a constitutional perspective.

bmiller said...

A Catholic could not say that abortion "is almost always wrong". A Catholic would say that the ‌intentional killing of an innocent human being is always wrong and it is the duty of the state to protect all innocent human lives(from conception to natural death).

If the law of the land does not do this it contradicts natural law (aka God's law) and needs to be changed.

The scenario you present then pertains to how this should be done and there are a number of ways of doing that including overturning the orginal SC decision legalizing abortion and amending the Constitution.

I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with appointing judges that will make just rulings (in accord with God's law), so I disagree that doing that would be "attempting to manipulate the Court through judicial philosophy in order to get a pro-life result" and "is a misguided enterprise." It was the appointment of unjust and overreaching SC justices that overrode all state laws in the first place, so it is only fitting that it be undone by the SC.

Starhopper said...

"A Catholic would say that [...] if the law of the land does not do this it contradicts natural law (aka God's law) and needs to be changed."

Bmiller, do you have any idea how your statement sounds to a non-Catholic? "The Taliban would say that if the law of the land contradicts our interpretation of the Holy Koran, then it needs to be changed."

The United States is not a theocracy. I may disagree with many clauses of the Constitution (and I do), but both in the Army and as a government employee, I took a solemn oath to defend it from all enemies foreign and domestic. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that the US is governed by natural law. In fact, it says the opposite - that "[government] shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

The proper place to ban abortion is not in our law, but in our hearts and minds. The solution to the issue lies not in the Supreme Court, but in our consciences.

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

Victor asked how an orthodox Catholic should view the legalization of abortion and I answered. I don't think my answer differs that much from other traditional Christians. Natural law is what has historically has bound Christians together.

I disagree that the founders did not think that natural law as the fundamental underpinning of our government and the reason for it's founding.

bmiller said...

S/B "was the fundamental underpinning"

bmiller said...

Oh, and BTW.

Bmiller, do you have any idea how your statement sounds to a non-Catholic?

Why do you think it is somehow improper for me, a native born, life-long tax paying, law abiding, vote eligible citizen to express my opinion on how I think the laws of our Federation should be formed and enforced? Isn't that actually what you took an oath to defend?

Should I be embarrassed by my faith? Are you?
Have you accepted that your's is a ghetto religion unworthy of expression in the high society that you live in? If society is wrong, it is simply wrong.

If you choose to conform and rationalize your conformity, then so be it. I choose not to.

Hal said...

"Natural law is what has historically has bound Christians together."

That is a weird notion.
Isn't it faith in Jesus Christ that has historically bound Christians together?

Starhopper, you are quit correct in your view that our country is not a theocracy. A lot of Trump's supporters don't seem to understand that. They wish to use their particular conservative Christian version of natural law to determine our national and local laws.

oozzielionel said...

Hal wrote, "They wish to use their particular conservative Christian version of natural law to determine our national and local laws." Perhaps, and it is allowed. In a Democracy, everyone gets to "play." We do not disqualify participants based on their world view. When Christians point to natural law, they point to values that can be obtained apart from divine revelation. It is accessible to anyone. In the political sphere, these are arguments that can be effective because they do not depend on special pleading. This may include a "particular conservative version of natural law." Natural law will tend to be conservative since natural law has been around for a long time and tends to reflect a more traditional approach.

Starhopper said...

The problem with an argument that depends on things knowable only by faith is that a large segment of the populace might not (would not) share the same presuppositions.

I think of FDR's dilemma in the early years of WWII (when the US was not (yet) an active combatant). He knew this country needed to fight the Axis, and that it was likely inevitable. But he also knew that public opinion would not support our going in just yet, so he bided his time, laying the groundwork for US entrance into combat.

Had Roosevelt just bulldozed his way into declaring war on Japan and Germany, the US populace would have only followed along reluctantly and dispiritedly. Contrast that idea with "Remember Pearl Harbor!".

bmiller said...

That's the thing about natural law though. It doesn't depend on faith and is knowable to all.

bmiller said...

C.S Lewis called it The Tao

One Brow said...

oozzielionel,
In the political sphere, these are arguments that can be effective because they do not depend on special pleading. This may include a "particular conservative version of natural law." Natural law will tend to be conservative since natural law has been around for a long time and tends to reflect a more traditional approach.

The special pleading is built into natural law in any form, including conservative natural law. Natural law depends upon deciding what a primary purpose or function of a phenomenon, but offers no method for this determination. Therefore, the morality derived from versions of natural law depend entirely on the assumptions of primary purposes.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"Now I understand that atheists will claim that human beings aren't really persons until some magically undefined time"
That "time" is actually a stage of development, but time could be used as a fairly accurate proxy for development.

The thing that makes you a human being, and I do mean you, me, everybody, is your brain function.

Your you resides in your brain. If you were to very unfortunately lose your limbs, your kidney, or even your heart you would not be dead, you would be a living human being until your brain ceases to function.

Loss of brain function is the definition of death, not the heartbeat or any other organ function, rather, you cease to live when your brain ceases to function.

It is obviously logical then that you begin to live when your brain begins to function.

How much function? Certainly more tan zero. Hopefully we can agree that if there is no brain then there is no brain function.

Therefore, prevention of implantation and abortion before there is a brain does not take a human life, and is thus only an elective medical procedure.

Starhopper said...

Stardusty's comment is an example of what I meant when I wrote (in the very first comment on this thread), "I believe it is possible for a person to sincerely believe abortion is, under certain circumstances, acceptable - without making that person evil."

Now in Stardusty's case, he happens to actually be evil due to his blatant and unrepentant racism, but that fact does not prevent him from thinking rationally (although quite mistakenly) on other subjects. His argument, as far as it goes, is rational. But it fails to consider what exactly is in the womb prior to brain function. A dead body is still a human being. It's just not alive. Likewise, by Stardusty's definition, a fetus may not be "alive" prior to brain function, but it might still be a person.

Finally, there's a HUGE difference between pre-life and dead. A seed has every hope (and expectation) of some day becoming a tree, but a log in my fireplace will never return to life. Surely that distinction is worthy of consideration.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion
" I certainly can't get Roe v Wade from even the most charitable reading of the Constitution"

*The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.*

*The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.*

We have the right to be secure in our persons because we have the right to personal privacy.

We have all rights not enumerated in the constitution.

The constitution does not grant rights. Rights are intrinsic to the people, as the 9th amendment makes clear. One of the great objections to a Bill of Rights was just what has come to pass, that so many people think we only have the rights granted to us by the constitution.

There were only 8 amendments in the Bill of Rights dedicated to enumerating specific rights. The fear of getting the flow of power backwards was so great that 2 amendments were dedicated to clearly stating that the constitution does not grant rights, it simply enumerates certain rights for emphasis and clarity, and it restricts or limits government.

You have the right to do anything you want, until your actions come into conflict with the rights of others.

Your right to wave your fist around ends at the tip of my nose. But by all means, if you wish to, go over there and wave your fist around all you like, that is none of my concern.

That is why you have the right to your privacy, because you keeping to yourself interferes with nobody, but you invading my privacy interferes with me, so at that point your "fist" has hit my "nose".

That is why you have the right to have elective surgery, such as liposuction. It's your fat, so if you want it sucked out that is up to you.

That is why abortion is a constitutional right, if it does not electively take a human life.

There are 2 justifications for abortion:
1.Maternal self defense. Child bearing still carries a risk, even today. When there is a clear and present danger to the mother she has the right to defend herself.
2.No life is taken. If a particular abortion on a particular day does not take a human life then it is a private medical procedure like liposuction, and thus an individual private right.

Other asserted justifications for abortion, such as rape or incest or maternal self determination, are pretzel logic stupidity.

StardustyPsyche said...

Starhopper,
"A dead body is still a human being. It's just not alive."
What an incredibly stupid statement.

No, a corpse is not a human being. A corpse does not have human rights.

No wonder you say such asinine things about race when you cannot cite a single statement I made on the subject that was factually incorrect. You are so incredibly stupid you do not even realize that when you die you cease to be a human being.

No, I do not believe a civil debate is possible on any subject with a person as mentally retarded as you are.

bmiller said...

Stardusty's comment is an example of what I meant when I wrote (in the very first comment on this thread), "I believe it is possible for a person to sincerely believe abortion is, under certain circumstances, acceptable - without making that person evil."

It's possible for people to have all sorts of sincerely held wrong ideas and in most cases it only harms themselves. But when it comes to harming others a just society will prevent that harm regardless of whether the perp or you think(s) his intent is evil or not.

There shouldn't be laws against tracking Bigfoot, but there should be laws preventing the intentional killing of innocent human beings.

Starhopper said...

A dead body is most certainly still a human being. Why else do we still treat them with respect and even honor? Why have funerals and other rites for the dead? Why tombs or graves? Why spend decades and enormous resources searching for the remains of MIAs on foreign battlefields? Why do Catholics, Orthodox, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, and practitioners of Yoruba pray for their dead?

No, a human being does not cease being such simply by dying. You are quite wrong.

StardustyPsyche said...

Starhopper,
"A dead body is most certainly still a human being. Why else do we still treat them with respect and even honor?"
How stupid. Would you burn a human being to ashes and throw them out? Would you drain the blood of a human being and replace it with poisonous fluid? Would you bury a human being in a hole in the ground?

Your mental retardation is most likely beyond help given your advanced years and the severity of your debility.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"but there should be laws preventing the intentional killing of innocent human beings."
There are, in almost all the states, NM being the most disturbing exception.

It is presently against the law to electively kill an unborn human being as defined by the viability standard.

Viability, under present US law, means the ability of a human being to survive outside the womb using the most advanced neonatal care available. In some wordings 20 weeks is used as a proxy for an actual test of viability for that particular unborn person.

Roe v Wade has already been significantly modified. The trimester framework was gotten rid of and was replaced with a viability standard.

Looking to the future, the viability standard will become obsolete as the artificial womb is developed. With an artificial womb every pregnancy will be viable. It is easy to foresee the day where a human womb will not be required at all, rather, human eggs will not only be fertilized in vitro, but they will grow to term babies in vitro.

The only logical standard for human life is brain function.

bmiller said...

It's been a scientifically established fact that a new, unique living human being comes into existence at the moment of conception for a long time.

I wonder why so many people want to find a way to justify killing that innocent life?

StardustyPsyche said...

No such science exists.

That is a purely religious view, the belief that a new soul somehow inhabits a fertilized egg.

Starhopper said...

You're both "wrong". The science does exist, but the conclusions depend on definition of terms, which is a-scientific.

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

I have no idea what you're talking about.

The science of biology is the study of living things and classifies those living things into categories. Individuals of a species are identified by their biological characteristics including DNA. There is no doubt that a unique, living, new human being exists at the moment of conception which signifies the starting point of that human's development for the rest of his natural life.

You may not like how biology does it's job, but it is what it is. There are plenty of science deniers though.

Starhopper said...

"There is no doubt that a unique, living, new human being exists at the moment of conception which signifies the starting point of that human's development for the rest of his natural life."

And you are absolutely correct. And I am sure that even Stardusty would agree with you, as long as he can define/categorize a pre-brain activity fetus as "not alive".

That's why definitions are as important as "science", which is what I meant.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"The science of biology is the study of living things and classifies those living things into categories"
Yeah, so you just made a very vague and hopelessly generalized statement, so what?

"Individuals of a species are identified by their biological characteristics including DNA"
DNA is not an organism, it is a molecule that will determine a great many of the details of characteristics of an organism if that organism ever develops into existence.

"There is no doubt that a unique, living, new human being exists at the moment of conception"
Ha Ha Ha!!! Except for the multitudes who doubt there is no doubt.

You suffer from cognitive temporal displacement, brought about by a severe brain infection called religiosity.

You are confused between what actually exists now and what you imagine will exist in the future.

You suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance wherein you fail to understand the difference between blueprints and a building, a larva versus a butterfly, a fertilized egg versus a human being.

When you die your remains will still contain lots and lots of DNA, but you will be dead because your brain ceased to function.

DNA does not make a human being. Living human cells are not a human being. A human being is a living human being when he or she has a functioning brain.

No brain, no person.

1 brain per person. Not 2, not 0.

bmiller said...

Like I said, there's plenty of science deniers out there. So I'll just ignore them.

For those interested in science the 23 "Carnegie Stages" are internationally recognized among embryologists as the standard for describing human development.

This explains the stages, which of course begins with stage 1.

Embryonic life commences with fertilization, andhence the beginning of that process may be taken asthe point de depart of stage 1.Despite the small size (ca. 0.1 mm) and weight(ca. 0.004 mg) of the organism at fertilization, the em-bryo is “schon ein individual-spezifischer Mensch”(Blechschmidt, 1972). The philosophical and ethicalimplications have been discussed briefly by O’Rahillyand Müller (1987).Fertilization is the procession of events that beginswhen a spermatozoon makes contact with an oocyteor its investments and ends with the intermingling ofmaternal and paternal chromosomes at metaphase ofthe first mitotic division of the zygote (Brackett et al.,1972). Fertilization sensu stricto involves the union ofdevelopmentally competent gametes realized in an ap-propriate environment to result in the formation of aviable embryo capable of normal further development(Tesarík, 1986).

*"schon ein individual-spezifischer Mensch” translates to "already an individual-specific person"

It is considered "already and individual" because the empirical determination of the final genome is fixed at this point and the only further changes are just normal development of the individual.

Legion of Logic said...

That is a purely religious view

No it isn't. No need to invoke a soul to believe life clearly begins at conception. The fertilized egg is alive and is the first cell of a new organism, thus the fertilized egg is the beginning of a new life. Unless, of course, an organism does not meet the criteria for being alive. Does it?

An organism does not require a brain to be considered alive, otherwise the definition of life excludes anything that is not an animal. A tree is an organism. A bacteria is an organism. No brain required.

You are engaged in magical thinking to believe that the same organism suddenly begins living as a completely different non-biological entity called a "human being" the moment a "functioning brain" is said to appear, even ignoring the fact that a newborn's brain is not functioning relative to the brain of a five year old.

A human being is a living human being when he or she has a functioning brain.

A lovely opinion. But then, you suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance wherein you fail to understand the difference between your opinion and fact.

Starhopper said...

"An organism does not require a brain to be considered alive, otherwise the definition of life excludes anything that is not an animal. A tree is an organism. A bacteria is an organism. No brain required."

Excellent! I'd love to see what Stardusty has to say contra this. All by itself, this blows his argument out of the water.

Slightly off topic, but I have spent (and probably wasted) a good many hours wondering whether this coronavirus is alive. My PhD molecular biologist son-in-law tells me that it is not. But if that is true, then the dividing line between "life" and "non life" is not hard and fast, but rather quite blurry and hard to pin down. I have spoken to geologists who told me with a straight face that crystals and some clays (anything that could reproduce itself) were pseudo or near life.

bmiller said...

Geologists are just jealous because other scientists look down on them so they have to make those statements to get some love ;-)

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"Embryonic life commences ... "already an individual-specific person""
Self contradictory.

Yes, embryonic life commences...
Cellular life commences...

The bit about being a person is just sloppy, unscientific, religiously motivated blather tacked on to the description.

A whole sheep can be cloned from a cell. That does not make that cell a sheep.

DNA in living cells does not and do not make a whole organism.

Suppose you order a whole fish for dinner at a restaurant, so the waiter brings out a single egg of caviar, you complain, to which the waiter replies, "but this is fertilized fish egg, so it contains all the blueprints, as it were, for fish".

Just because you have some blueprints does not mean you have a building.

There is not a shred of scientific reason to label a single cell as a person or a human being. To do so is scientifically preposterous, the differences are obvious, only a person with some other exterior motivation would make your error of conflating the two.

bmiller said...

The bit about being a person is just sloppy, unscientific, religiously motivated blather tacked on to the description.

It's the scientific consensus, but if you have a paper to present to overturn the scientific consensus the I suggest you publish it and get the accolades. Just for the record, the translation was from Google. Mensch can also be translated as man or human as can be seen with Nietzsche's Übermensch.

DNA in living cells does not and do not make a whole organism.

Nobody ever said it did, but it does indicate that the complete organism is a unique member of a biological species. So if the complete organism is a unique live member of the biological species known also known as human, then the organism is a unique, live human being.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
"The fertilized egg is alive"
True, so is every cell in your body, each of which contains the DNA needed to define you. You can be cloned from any one of any such cell. That does not make each such cell a mini-you.

" and is the first cell of a new organism"
False. There is no such organism at that time. That organism does not yet exist at that time.

You are suffering from a time displacement distortion of some sort, conflating what you imagine will happen in the future if things progress as you think they will, to what actually exists right now.

"Unless, of course, an organism does not meet the criteria for being alive. Does it?"
There is no such organism in real existence at that time. You only imagine there will be such an organism in the future, so you get confused and treat the real cell now as if it were the future organism.

" A tree is an organism. A bacteria is an organism. No brain required.
"
A seed is not a tree, it is a seed. If it is illegal to cut down a particular sort of tree, and you smash a seed of the species with a hammer, you did not break the law about cutting down that species of tree because you did not cut down a tree.

And you are correct, those organisms do not have brains, so that is one way we can say a tree is not a human being and a bacteria is not a human being, since neither has a human brain.

"You are engaged in magical thinking to believe that the same organism suddenly "
Strawman. I mentioned nothing about suddenly. Brain development is a process. We have no technological means to define precisely how much brain development is enough to be considered a human being. But we can bracket the question.

1.If there is no brain at all then there is clearly no brain function.
2.There is no significant difference in brain development for a term baby in utero compared to a new born baby.

" a newborn's brain is not functioning relative to the brain of a five year old."
True, but I think almost all of us can agree that a newborn baby has sufficient development to be considered to be a person.

Brain function varies widely among living human beings. The law sets a fairly low threshold that includes a person in a coma as still having enough brain function to be considered as a human being with the intrinsic right to life.

*A human being is a living human being when he or she has a functioning brain.*
"A lovely opinion. But then, you suffer from a form of cognitive dissonance wherein you fail to understand the difference between your opinion and fact."
I have a bit more than that, since it is the law, and it is very well established medical practice of carefully considered medical ethics.

A person is alive, according to law, medical ethics, and medical practice, when brain function is above a defined threshold, that threshold being very low.

To declare a person dead, and thus no longer having a right to life because that individual has already ceased to live, brain function must fall below that threshold.

So, my statement is not simply my opinion, it is the law, it is our present state of medical ethics, and it is our present state of medical practice.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"It's the scientific consensus,"
That link is just some photocopy of some old textbook or journal article, most likely written by a Christian.

There is absolutely not a shred of science behind your little quote mining job.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller
"So if the complete organism is a unique live member of the biological species known also known as human, then the organism is a unique, live human being. "
In some hazy confused state of mental incapacity I suppose people would think things like that.

A seed is not a tree.
An egg is not a chicken.
A larva is not a butterfly.
A single cell is not a person with human rights.

Smashing a seed is not cutting down a tree.
Breaking an egg is not killing a chicken.
Catching a larva is not catching a butterfly.
Flushing a single cell is not murdering a living human being.

Only a very confused person conflates the imagined future with the present.

Legion of Logic said...

True, so is every cell in your body, each of which contains the DNA needed to define you.

True, but none of those will grow into an organism because they are not zygotes. They are specialized cells in a multicellular organism. A zygote is not one of the mother's cells and is not one of the father's cells.

You can be cloned from any one of any such cell.

I can also have copies of my organs grown in a pig. That doesn't mean a pig is a human. Natural processes are not defined by what is technically possible in a laboratory.

A seed is not a tree, it is a seed.

That's just an artifact of language. A seed and the tree it grows into are the same organism. It's just a lot easier to quantify a full grown tree for legal purposes. Try smashing the eggs of an endangered bird or reptile and see what happens.

Brain development is a process. We have no technological means to define precisely how much brain development is enough to be considered a human being.

Circular reasoning, because it is not established that brain activity is a requirement to meet the definition of a human life at the earliest stages.

True, but I think almost all of us can agree that a newborn baby has sufficient development to be considered to be a person

For different foundational reasons, upon analysis.

since it is the law

The law is little more than an authority on how not to get in trouble. Otherwise I won't be depending on it for anything truth-related.

very well established medical practice of carefully considered medical ethics

That carries more weight than the law, but ethics are also not truth. The woman's bodily autonomy and technological limitations for sustaining life are valid considerations for ethics and law, but they have no bearing on the truth of human life. They would likely not change even if there was full agreement that human life began at conception, simply for practical reasons.

bmiller said...

That link is just some photocopy of some old textbook or journal article, most likely written by a Christian.

Textbooks are how students are taught. Here is the textbook quoted above:

Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Muller, Developmental Stages in Human Embryos (Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication 637)

One Brow said...

bmiller,
It's been a scientifically established fact that a new, unique living human being comes into existence at the moment of conception for a long time.

Well, except when the conception results in two or more different humans, or when two or more different conceptions result in a single human.

I wonder why so many people want to find a way to justify killing that innocent life?

Cancer cells are new, unique, innocent human beings that we justify killing with no compunction, out of self-defense. Unwillingly pregnant women are entitled to the same benefit.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
"True, but none of those will grow"
Will grow is future tense. That single cell is not now a human being. It might divide, and then those cells might divide again, and again and so forth such that at some time in the future there might be an actual human being.

The ordinary cells in your body can do the same thing. It has been done with other mammals, it can be done with human beings.

The cells you have in your body right now could be cloned into another person, so why don't you consider a scrape of your skin to be killing a human being? Those cells were alive and then they got killed. Those cells have the potential to grow into a human being. So why don't you consider yourself to be made of a gazillion mini-Legions?

"I can also have copies of my organs grown in a pig. That doesn't mean a pig is a human."
Right, unless the organ that was grown was a functioning human brain.

The brain is the only organ such that if it were transplanted the identity of the individual would follow the transplanted organ.

" A seed and the tree it grows into are the same organism."
Then all life on Earth is the same organism. In that case, there are no separate organisms at all and there never will be.

For example, consider a petri dish that is sterilized and then a single bacteria cell is introduced, which divides and divides etc. By your reasoning all those cells are the same organism, since the process of division can be traced back to that one cell.

If life on Earth arose in a single event of abiogenesis then, by your reasoning, all life on Earth is the same organism, since, in that case, all cell divisions on Earth can be traced back to that one self replicating molecule.

This can be clearly seen in asexual reproduction, which occurs not only in single cell organisms but many species including vertebrates. By your assertion of the seed and the tree than all descendants of a single asexual reproduction are all the same organism, since the process of cell division can be traced in an unbroken lineage from present population to the original.

What is the origin of our perception of the continuity of self? Is it our cells? No, cells come and go. The continuity of self is due to the locus of our brain processes. Without the brain there is no self.

"The law is little more than an authority on how not to get in trouble"
The law represents a consensus opinion. You asserted my position is just my opinion. That is not true. A very great many people have considered this question. It has been rationally argued in the courts many times. That is how we got to the brain function standard for life.

" The woman's bodily autonomy and technological limitations for sustaining life are valid considerations for ethics and law, but they have no bearing on the truth of human life."
Agreed, the unborn either is or is not a person, a living human being with an intrinsic right to life.

The viability standard is a poor proxy for determination of intrinsic humanity.

The only standard for determination of humanity that stands up to careful analysis is the brain function standard, which is why it is in practice in law and medicine, it's the only standard that makes sense.

StardustyPsyche said...

One Brow,
"Unwillingly pregnant women are entitled to the same benefit."
No they aren't.

The question is the humanity of the unborn. Whether or not the pregnancy was willing is irrelevant, unless you think it is ok to kill a child if her father raped her mother.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"
Textbooks are how students are taught"
Indeed, and sometimes what is taught is wrong. Maybe it was somebody from the Notre Dame office of Carnegie that wrote that bit of nonsense and managed to get it wedged into a textbook.

bmiller said...

Guess some people prefer to remain ignorant. No way to help them aside from prayer.

Starhopper said...

"No way to help them aside from prayer."

Exactly right! That, and education. We could not agree more (at least, in our aims).

But I've never heard of legislation or the Supreme Court being part of prayer.

Legion of Logic said...

That single cell is not now a human being.

What is a human being in biological terms, if not a human organism?

The ordinary cells in your body can do the same thing.

Are you claiming that my eyeball might suddenly sprout an embryo? Or that if I bleed on something, another human might arise out of that blood if I don't wipe it up?

The cells you have in your body right now could be cloned into another person, so why don't you consider a scrape of your skin to be killing a human being?

With sufficiently advanced gene altering technology, I could convert a slice of bread into a human embryo. That does not mean a slice of bread is a human life. Who cares if my skin cells can be cloned? That's not part of human reproduction.

Right, unless the organ that was grown was a functioning human brain.

You're saying that a pig with a human brain is a human?

Then all life on Earth is the same organism

I have no idea how you arrived at this conclusion as a logical extension of anything I said. The reason my grandma would not go to jail if the police got my DNA is because I am a unique organism from her, despite her being an ancestor. Split a fertilized egg up in reverse time and you have a gamete from the mother and one from the father. The organism formed by the zygote ceases to exist at that point.

By your reasoning all those cells are the same organism, since the process of division can be traced back to that one cell.

Bacteria are single cell organisms which reproduce asexually. As single cell organisms, each new specimen is an independent organism.

The continuity of self is due to the locus of our brain processes. Without the brain there is no self.

A sense of self is not one of the criteria biologists use to define an organism.

The law represents a consensus opinion.

Sometimes. Other times it represents the views of one political party, at the expense of the other half of the country that disagrees. For example, this topic.

It has been rationally argued in the courts many times. That is how we got to the brain function standard for life.

The issue is not nearly so cut and dried. There is also the matter of competing interests, practicality, the limitations of current medical technology to sustain a life outside the womb, and a host of other things that have nothing to do with when a human life actually begins. Even if all people agreed that a woman's bodily autonomy fully trumps the unborn's right to life, that still has absolutely no bearing on when life begins. A court decision is meaningless unless the decision is entirely limited to when a human life begins.

The only standard for determination of humanity that stands up to careful analysis is the brain function standard, which is why it is in practice in law and medicine, it's the only standard that makes sense.

Conception is the only objective standard that holds up to scrutiny. Brain function is an arbitrary standard used to balance competing interests.

bmiller said...

For the scientifically curious:

Terminologia Embryologica is the joint creation of the Federative International Committee for Anatomical Terminology (FICAT) and the member societies of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA).

Ontogenesis*.......

*Ontogenesis is defined here as the development of the individual, beginning at fertilization and ending at death. It thus covers the principal concerns of this terminology (embryogenesis, fetogenesis and immediate postnatal development) but extends beyond them.
(my emphasis)

bmiller said...

Starhopper,

Exactly right! That, and education. We could not agree more (at least, in our aims).

But I've never heard of legislation or the Supreme Court being part of prayer.


Huh?

My point was that there are some people that prefer to remain ignorant and that only prayer will help them, not that we shouldn't pass laws against the intentional killing of innocent human beings because some people are ignorant of embryology. Please!

bmiller said...

Once again it's astonishing to see the mental gymnastics, fallacies and double standards people will attempt just so they can justify the killing of another innocent human being.

People want to kill other people if their brain is not fully functional, knowing full well that in a few months it will be. Other people who think there should be laws against murdering people, don't think there should be laws against murdering the most vulnerable people. It looks like they are viewing it all from a perverse sinister perspective.

We should protect the most vulnerable first, preserve the life of those developing, and when in doubt err on the side of preserving life first.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
“What is a human being in biological terms, if not a human organism?”
A sufficiently complete organism. Our language lends itself to this distinction more readily in the case of a butterfly. A butterfly has beautiful wings and goes flitting about. As kids we caught butterflies. If we came across a little worm like thing we ignored it because that was not a butterfly. Later we learned it was a larva that would later become a butterfly in the process of metamorphosis.

A larva is not a butterfly, even though is has the potential to develop into a butterfly if enough time passes and conditions are right. If the larva is killed then there never was a butterfly, just a larva.

Butterflies do different things than larvae.

A human being is not a single cell, nor is a human being a large collection of cells absent a functional brain. A living human being, a person, a being with an intrinsic right to human life is an organism that has a functioning human brain.

Organisms that lack a functioning human brain are not persons and have no intrinsic right to human life.

That is the law with respect to the end of human life, and for very carefully argued reasons. It is logical that the same principle should be applicable to the beginning of life.

Most people know this intuitively. Not many people really believe that a fertilized egg is a human being. Those that do believe are invariably, in my experience, religiously motivated by the belief that the fertilized egg harbors a soul. Once the individual has that opinion then they adopts some rather poorly thought out pseudo-scientific reasons to justify that belief on non-religious grounds.

“Are you claiming that my eyeball might suddenly sprout an embryo?”
A cell from your eye can be used to clone you. The mechanism is different, but that is beside the point. If a cell containing DNA that can potentially divide repeatedly into a human being is itself a human being then trillions of your cells are all each individual human beings.

“Who cares if my skin cells can be cloned? That's not part of human reproduction”
Yes it is. No altering of the DNA in your cell is required. All that is needed is to transfer your DNA to a host that will reproduce it and you can be reproduced, and since you are a human being that is by definition human reproduction.

“You're saying that a pig with a human brain is a human?”
In principle, a brain in a vat is a human being. If your brain were transplanted to any host your identity would transfer with the brain. For all other organs that is not the case. Human identity resides in the brain.

Without a human brain there is no human identity.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
* It has been rationally argued in the courts many times. That is how we got to the brain function standard for life.*

”The issue is not nearly so cut and dried. There is also the matter of competing interests, practicality, the limitations of current medical technology to sustain a life outside the womb, and a host of other things that have nothing to do with when a human life actually begins. Even if all people agreed that a woman's bodily autonomy fully trumps the unborn's right to life, that still has absolutely no bearing on when life begins. A court decision is meaningless unless the decision is entirely limited to when a human life begins.”
Ok, I think you missed the point about what has been argued extensively in the courts.

The end of life is defined as the loss of brain function. As long as a person has a functioning brain that person is alive. If the brain ceases to function then the person has died and is no longer a person. Once the brain dies there is no longer a living human being with an intrinsic right to life.

The heart can keep beating, the rest of the body can keep working, there can be trillions of cells all with DNA and all alive, but when the brain dies the person dies.

No brain, no human being. That is settled law with respect to the end of life, and it got settled by very long and careful arguments over many years regarding the ethics of what makes a person a person, what defines a human being as being a living human being.

There is absolutely no scientific reason whatsoever to consider a collection of cells absent a functioning human brain to be a person, a living human being with an intrinsic right to human life.

Legion of Logic said...

A sufficiently complete organism.

In other words, an arbitrary standard used to balance competing interests.

A larva is not a butterfly

But it does not become a different organism. It just enters a different stage. If you gave me a caterpillar and I named it Billy, and Billy entered a cocoon, it would not be Ted that exits the cocoon. It would still be Billy.

A living human being, a person, a being with an intrinsic right to human life is an organism that has a functioning human brain.

Yet none of that is relevant to when a human life begins, short of magical thinking. An organism is alive. A human embryo is a living human organism that is the exact same organism it will be for the rest of its life. A human organism who meets your criteria for being a "human being" is not a different organism than it was as an embryo. Same organism. Same life.

Organisms that lack a functioning human brain are not persons and have no intrinsic right to human life.

Not relevant and entirely a matter of opinion.

It is logical that the same principle should be applicable to the beginning of life.

When the law should kick in to protect a life in the face of competing interests and an inability to sustain the earliest stages of life outside the womb is a completely different question than when human life begins. The latter can be addressed simply by understanding how reproduction works and knowing what an organism is.

Those that do believe are invariably, in my experience, religiously motivated by the belief that the fertilized egg harbors a soul.

I have not invoked anything religious. "Invariably" no longer applies in your experience. Oh, and "human life", not "human being". Let's not hide behind language to muddy the simple concept of a living human organism.

If a cell containing DNA that can potentially divide repeatedly into a human being is itself a human being then trillions of your cells are all each individual human beings.

By your logic, a slice of bread would be human, since its genetic structure could be altered into human DNA and then grown. As that is not something that naturally occurs, just like cloning from skin cells, it is entirely irrelevant.

Yes it is

I am going to lay a piece of skin out. If it has not grown into a human in nine months, then we will have evidence you are incorrect.

No brain, no human being.

But if we stick to the topic, which is when a human life begins and not when an arbitrary entity legally exists, then the "no brain, no life" argument is about as valid as my calling the cops and reporting my Lamborghini as being stolen. The problem is that even though I have no Lamborghini, the difference between me and a guy whose Lamborghini was actually stolen is that I never had one to begin with, so of course it was not stolen. Similarly, brain function as a standard of life applies to those with a brain. My children grew in the womb without a brain, but if you removed my brain then I would cease living. Different situations require different standards of analysis.

There is absolutely no scientific reason whatsoever to consider a collection of cells absent a functioning human brain to be a person

Arbitrary entity which is irrelevant to when a human life begins.

a living human being

Arbitrary entity which is irrelevant to when a human life begins.

with an intrinsic right to human life.

No such right exists. You are either a living human organism or you are not. If you are, you have human life. If you are not, you don't.

One Brow said...

StardustyPsyche,
"Unwillingly pregnant women are entitled to the same benefit."
No they aren't.


I am not surprised that you don't believe women have a right of self-defense.

The question is the humanity of the unborn. Whether or not the pregnancy was willing is irrelevant, unless you think it is ok to kill a child if her father raped her mother.

I think it's pretty damn relevant to the person being asked to sacrifice her body.

I think if some person hooked themselves up to you, you'd feel free to disconnect them, even if they would die.

Legion of Logic said...

I think if some person hooked themselves up to you, you'd feel free to disconnect them, even if they would die.

What if you are the one who hooked them up to you through your own actions? Actions which carried a known and very real risk of hooking someone else up to you? Should you have the right to kill them even though you are the one who put them there?

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic,
What if you are the one who hooked them up to you through your own actions? Actions which carried a known and very real risk of hooking someone else up to you? Should you have the right to kill them even though you are the one who put them there?

Last I checked, when women (and men) perform these "actions", there is as of then no embryo to put into any position. Last I heard, it was the embryo that dug into the uterus.

Whether or not there should be, there is no law that forces you to donate blood (nor any other part of your body) to a person that you have injured.

Legion of Logic said...

Last I heard, it was the embryo that dug into the uterus.

I'm not aware of embryos traveling around seeking a woman's body to appropriate. Rather, it gets put there by intentionally engaging in risky behavior. The embryo is utterly innocent in the matter.

Whether or not there should be, there is no law that forces you to donate blood (nor any other part of your body) to a person that you have injured.

I was working with your scenario of a person hooked to you. Regarding this latest post, there are typically consequences if your actions result in the death of an innocent.

bmiller said...

For the record.

When I use the term "human being" I mean a unique existent entity that is classified as human (and not any part there-of). So bmiller is a human being, whereas bmiller's brain, eye, skin, fingernail, etc would not be considered a human being.

It seems this discussion requires this clarification (among a list of others).

bmiller said...

If an human embryo is not already human being at conception, then there must be some outside source/force that infuses that special human element into the developing embryo to turn it into a human being.

Scientists have studied embryology for centuries and they have not observed any special outside source/force that infused person-hood or a brain or anything other than nourishment and air.

So for those that deny that a human being/person exists at the moment of conception, then what source/force external to the embryo bestows a brain, person-hood, consciousness, etc to the embryo that changes it from "not a human being"/"not a person" into "is a human being"/"is a person"?

Legion of Logic said...

"Human organism" to me has aleays been the most effective way to talk about the living biological entity itself, rather than its legal or philosophical status. I know this because I have yet to encounter anyone pro-"choice" who doesn't try to shift away from biology to muddy the water. Once you agree that an embryo is the exact same organism as the adult it grows into decades later, it is pretty much undeniable when human life begins, which is of course when the living organism first exists.

Now when that life has value is obviously a different question, and one that continues to apply for a human's entire life. But to deny the living human organism is a living human is simple fantasy for political expedience.

Starhopper said...

I believe I see what the core of Stardusty's argument is. (Somebody please correct me if I am wrong.)

Stardusty begins with an adult human being, and proceeds to sever various parts of him. Lose a hand, and you still have a human being. Amputate all his limbs, and you still have a human being. Replace his various organs with machines, and you still have a human being. But lose the brain, and you don't. So Stardusty concludes that a human being is synonymous with his brain.

Interesting argument, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough, and that's where it fails. Because it does not take either time or development into account. Before birth, all those "parts" (including the brain) are present as potentialities. So a one week old (or even a minute old) fetus already has a developing brain. Perhaps not "activated" yet, but still under construction.

Whereas for a post-birth human being, there is no possibility of his acquiring a new brain, should he lose the one he has. The potentiality is gone.

As the Psalmist says:

My frame was not hidden from thee,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately wrought in the depths of the earth [i.e., the womb].
Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance;
in thy book were written, every one of them.
(Psalm 139:15-16)

Or even as the author of Hebrews wrote:

One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
(Hebrews 7:9-10 - Fascinating argument there, by the way.)

StardustyPsyche said...

One Brow,
"I think if some person hooked themselves up to you, you'd feel free to disconnect them, even if they would die. "
Then you are a person of incredible callous criminality.

If your child, your own child, is connected to you for a trickle of transfusion, and you simply say you don't feel like it any more, rip out the tube, and watch your own child die so you can go off and do other things, then you are one sick asshole.

That is murder by depraved neglect. A premeditated act of infanticide.

bmiller said...

Legion,

I know this because I have yet to encounter anyone pro-"choice" who doesn't try to shift away from biology to muddy the water.

Excellent point as demonstrated in this thread.

Starhopper,

Before birth, all those "parts" (including the brain) are present as potentialities. So a one week old (or even a minute old) fetus already has a developing brain. Perhaps not "activated" yet, but still under construction.

I think there is a problem with saying a developing brain is a "potential" brain or hasn't been hasn't been "activated". People could get the idea that there is not really a brain at all present, rather than a brain in a very very early stage of development as you pointed out later. So it is actually present at the beginning, is alive (active) and doing what it should be doing at that stage.

When some people hear the terminology of act and potency they think they have an excuse to stop listening (and thinking).

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic,
I'm not aware of embryos traveling around seeking a woman's body to appropriate. Rather, it gets put there by intentionally engaging in risky behavior. The embryo is utterly innocent in the matter.

I was working with your scenario of a person hooked to you. Regarding this latest post, there are typically consequences if your actions result in the death of an innocent.


Embryos just appropriate the body of the person they are within, not other bodies. Innocent or not, the embryo is an invasion and a threat to the woman's health. Even the innocent can be killed in self-defense, when there is no other alternative.

Cancer cells are just as innocent as embryos.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
For the record.

When I use the term "human being" I mean a unique existent entity that is classified as human (and not any part there-of).


For the record, that definition is inclusive of gametes and cancer cells.

One Brow said...

StardustyPsyche,
If your child, your own child, is connected to you for a trickle of transfusion, and you simply say you don't feel like it any more, rip out the tube, and watch your own child die so you can go off and do other things, then you are one sick asshole.

Sick assholes still have rights, including self-defense.

That is murder by depraved neglect. A premeditated act of infanticide.

Failing to give the infant care (or placing them with people who can care for them) is murder by neglect. Infanticide requires an act that harms them, not just a failure to help. No person is legally required to give their own body to the support of another person.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic,
"Human organism" to me has aleays been the most effective way to talk about the living biological entity itself, rather than its legal or philosophical status. I know this because I have yet to encounter anyone pro-"choice" who doesn't try to shift away from biology to muddy the water.

What does "shift away from biology" mean here? That I agree with the biological reality that you express, and make my argument on different grounds?

Starhopper said...

Good points, bmiller. I guess I wasn't being Thomistically precise in my language, but my point was that the brain is present prior to its full post-birth level of activity, and that there's a critical difference between before and after.

StardustyPsyche said...

OB
"Sick assholes still have rights, including self-defense."
Then rape is irrelevant. If a particular abortion is an act of self defense it is an act available to all, irrespective of rape.

If a particular abortion is not an act of self defense rape is irrelevant, because there is no self defense.

If a particular fetus on that particular day is a human being, a person with intrinsic right to life, then rape is irrelevant because the fetus is a human being.

If a particular fetus on that particular day is not a human being, then rape is irrelevant, because abortion in that case is just another medical procedure.


In all cases of abortion rape is irrelevant. The rape exception is for morons who are incapable of rational thought on this subject.

Legion of Logic said...

Cancer cells are just as innocent as embryos.

Cancer cells are part of the host. That is more akin to getting tonsils removed.

What does "shift away from biology" mean here?

My experience is that in a conversation about when life begins, concepts such as "person" (a legal entity based on arbitrary standards) or "human being" (a philosophical entity based on arbitrary standards) or a "potential human" (leaving undefined what the unborn actually is) are used by those who deny that life begins at conception. These concepts always have an element of mystery about them so that a fetus right around the "age of viabilty" might or might not qualify. We just don't know, and there is no way for us to know.

Whereas I am talking about the biological entity that is a human organism as recognized by biology and is objectively detectable and measurable as being a living human organism or not. Biology recognizes a zygote as the first stage of an organism's life, and not just a potential organism. It exists, it is alive, and it is human.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
"Once you agree that an embryo is the exact same organism as the adult it grows into decades later, it is pretty much undeniable when human life begins"
Then a brain dead organism is still a human life.

There are cells in a continuum of an organism's cells. There is breathing. There is digestion, there is a heartbeat. There is blood flow.

So a brain dead organism is human life, by your words.

"But to deny the living human organism is a living human is simple fantasy for political expedience."
So, a brain dead organism is a living human by your words.

Legion of Logic said...

Then a brain dead organism is still a human life.

I assume you are referring to those cases where the brain has completely flatlined but we still have them hooked to machines keeping them alive? Because bodily functions otherwise do not continue without artificial prompting via machines.

Starhopper said...

"Then a brain dead organism is still a human life."

A rotting corpse is still a human being - just one that is no longer alive. You don't lose your humanity simply by dying.

One Brow said...

StardustyPsyche,
In all cases of abortion rape is irrelevant. The rape exception is for morons who are incapable of rational thought on this subject.

I wish I could be more sure that you meant "whether a woman was raped or not has no bearing on her right to an abortion", which I agree with, as opposed to really meaning "rape is irrelevant", which is something a sick asshole would mean.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic,
Cancer cells are part of the host. That is more akin to getting tonsils removed.

While we don't often preserve them, cancer cells can live long after the host dies in a different medium.

Whereas I am talking about the biological entity that is a human organism as recognized by biology and is objectively detectable and measurable as being a living human organism or not. Biology recognizes a zygote as the first stage of an organism's life, and not just a potential organism. It exists, it is alive, and it is human.

Then, to be clear, you are talking to a pro-choice person who agrees that there is a living human organism at the moment of conception, a being fully human, but with no more rights than any other human. In particular, lacking the right to enforce the woman to maintain a physical attachment to the new human.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
My experience is that in a conversation about when life begins, concepts such as "person" (a legal entity based on arbitrary standards) or "human being" (a philosophical entity based on arbitrary standards) .......

Whereas I am talking about the biological entity that is a human organism as recognized by biology and is objectively detectable and measurable as being a living human organism or not. Biology recognizes a zygote as the first stage of an organism's life, and not just a potential organism. It exists, it is alive, and it is human.


I have no interest in arguing for or against abortion in this thread as that would clearly be a waste of time. (I'd rather spend that time writing checks to Planned Parenthood or other pro reproductive rights organizations.)

I do want to point out that all taxonomies or systems of classification are arbitrary. So you are correct to point out that there are arbitrary standards for the concepts of "person" and "human being". However, the same goes for the biological concepton of "human organism". It too is based on arbitrary standards determined by biologists. So you are making a false distinction by implying that it is not also arbitrary.

Legion of Logic said...

However, the same goes for the biological concepton of "human organism".

Whether an organism is human is about as objective as biology can get, if genetics and the human life cycle mean anything at all.

But even if I concede there is a small measure of arbitrariness to the definition of an organism vs a not organism, it is orders of magnitude more objective than "person" and "human being", which mean different things to different people and have excluded entire ethnicities and races. If there is any fuzziness to what constitutes an organism, it is with things like a virus. One hundred percent of biologists agree a human is a living biological entity, based on criteria that are as objective as we can possibly make them based on what we know. It's not like the question of whether Pluto is a planet.

Legion of Logic said...

Then, to be clear, you are talking to a pro-choice person who agrees that there is a living human organism at the moment of conception, a being fully human, but with no more rights than any other human. In particular, lacking the right to enforce the woman to maintain a physical attachment to the new human.

That's completely fair. When life begins is an entirely different question than agreeing upon all the circumstances when society should defend that life, based on this being a messy world.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
" Because bodily functions otherwise do not continue without artificial prompting via machines. "
Which is it?

First you assert that an organism without a functioning brain is still a living human being with an intrinsic right to life, thus making a brain dead organism that is otherwise functioning a human being, contrary to law.

Now you are saying, it seems, that any supposed human being who depends upon life support technology is not actually a living human being, is not a person with an intrinsic right to life, so if you end up in the ICU and you need technology to keep you alive you are actually already dead, by your statement.

All your roads lead to erroneous results.

The truth is much simpler that that. If the organism has no functioning human brain that organism is not a living human being, is not a person with an intrinsic right to life. Stick with that principle and you can avoid your assertions that keep leading to self contradictions.

StardustyPsyche said...

One Brow,
" "rape is irrelevant", which is something a sick asshole would mean."
Since those are your words, not mine, that makes you the sick asshole.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
But even if I concede there is a small measure of arbitrariness to the definition of an organism vs a not organism, it is orders of magnitude more objective than "person" and "human being", which mean different things to different people and have excluded entire ethnicities and races.

This has nothing to do with objectivity. It is an issue of which standards and criteria are used in establishing different taxonomies or classifications. Simply because biological scientists have come to an agreement on what counts as being a living organism doesn't make that decision any less arbitrary than the criteria used for establishing what counts as being a person or a human being.

If one holds to the view that a person is a being capable of reasoning, of having the capacity to act for their reasons and of being responsible for their actions then they can use those criteria to identify a person. Just as biologists can use the criteria they have decided on for identifying a living organism.

Using the criteria I just mentioned it is just as true that you and I are persons as it is that you and I are living organisms.

StardustyPsyche said...

BTW folks,
Body cam footage is great because it exonerates innocent cops and shows the criminals, such as George Floyd, for what they are.

It's all over youtube. Forget the little snips, the one you want is over an hour long for Kueng, although I have only found 34m for Lane.

George Floyd resisted arrest and lied again and again and again, as the body cam proves. Of course, anybody who could read already knew that from the transcripts.

George Floyd refused to show his hands after repeated lawful police demands.
George Floyd was actively hiding multiple counterfeit bills while he was being non complaint.
George Floyd lied again and again and again when he said he was not on anything, that he didn't do anything, that he was not that kind of guy, that he was claustrophobic, that he could not breath, that he was not resisting. All lies told by George Floyd again and again and again.

George Floyd violently resisted arrest from the beginning to the end, as the body cam proves.
George Floyd asked at least 5 times to lay on the ground, the body cam proves.

The officers did what they could to help George Floyd by calling the ambulance twice and using a minimal amount of non-lethal and completely safe restraint as authorized by MPD regulations and as advised by medical experts on ExDS to try and keep the subject restrained until the ambulance comes. Great job and hats of to Officers Chauvin, Kueng, Lane, and all the other cops on the scene.

Further evidence proves George Floyd was a 6 time convicted and sentenced criminal, now caught in the act of passing counterfeit currency, stoned on lethal doses of opioids and methamphetamine, all on top of his arteriosclerotic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and Covid 19 infection.

George Floyd worked himself into a state of Excite Delirium Syndrome on top of all his drug and medical problems and gave himself a heart attack, thus George Floyd killed himself, the body cam and all the other evidence conclusively proves.

Just thought you folks would appreciate the update.

Legion of Logic said...

Using the criteria I just mentioned it is just as true that you and I are persons as it is that you and I are living organisms.

Sure. But how useful is that definition of a person for when a human life begins?

Legion of Logic said...

First you assert that an organism without a functioning brain is still a living human being

No, I'm saying a human organism, prior to the development of a brain, is still a living human organism. Part of the human life cycle involves having no brain.

No one says a "dog being" or a "wasp being". I don't say "human being" either, at least in the context of when a human life biologically begins.

is not actually a living human being, is not a person with an intrinsic right to life

All of this is terminology I have not used. In fact, I have explicitly stated that I am not interested in "person" or "human being" when discussing the biological beginning of life.

I have also stated previously that the question of when a life has value - the "intrinsic right to life" - is a separate question from when that life begins.

if you end up in the ICU and you need technology to keep you alive you are actually already dead, by your statement.

No, I said that complete brain death ceases all natural bodily functions, except for what individual cells are able to do on the remnants of oxygen they possess. Simply being in the ICU does not make you dead.

If the organism has no functioning human brain that organism is not a living human being, is not a person with an intrinsic right to life

The human organism at the earliest stages of life has no brain, but it is still alive.

With current technology brain death is irreversible, so for all practical purposes it is synonymous with complete death, as there is currently more value in harvesting the organs than keeping the body alive - not to mention the cost if someone chose to do so. But if technology progresses to the point that a brain can be jumpstarted like a heart, then suddenly that brain-dead individual on the respirator in ICU isn't quite so dead as conventional wisdom would decree.

Not interested in "person" or "human being" in the context of when a human life biologically begins.

The right to life is tangential, but one of the premises upon which the right to life depends is the existence of life. It won't even kick in if there is no life present. So before we can determine when a life has enough value for the right to life to protect, we must first know when a life exists.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
Sure. But how useful is that definition of a person for when a human life begins?

Not very. But we weren't talking about what is useful. If you had originally said that the scientific classification was more useful I wouldn't have seen a need to seek clarification on that claim.

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
" I have explicitly stated that I am not interested in "person" or "human being" when discussing the biological beginning of life."
Then the biological beginning of life is irrelevant to the abortion issue. It might be an interesting topic in a biology class but it has zero importance in deciding whether an abortion is morally acceptable.

By that level of interest, in anything that could in any way be called a human organism, each and every cell in your body is a human organism. So what? Individual cells are not human beings, are not persons each with their own intrinsic right to life.

Nope, I don't think you are being fully forthcoming. Your whole point is to try to define a single cell as a human organism and then say abortion of it is therefore wrong. Now you claim otherwise, so you are still all over the shop here.

"Simply being in the ICU does not make you dead."
Ok, then simply being in the ICU connected to machines does not make a brain dead person dead. What makes a brain dead person dead is that the brain is the only organ that is intrinsic to human life. When the brain dies the person has died, even if the rest of the body continues to live.

Simple logic then says that prior to having a brain the person has not yet begun to live, even if the rest of the cells are alive.

"life has enough value for the right to life to protect, we must first know when a life exists."
No, you must know when a person exists, not just any life. Cellular life can exist. Animal life can exist. Plant life can exist, but none of these things have a right to life because they are not human beings, not persons.

Each cell in your body is a live human organism. Being a human organism is irrelevant.

When the brain dies the person dies, even if the rest of the human organism continues to live.

Therefore, clearly, before the brain begins to live the person has not yet begun to live, even if cells, each of which is a human organism, are alive, because living human cellular organisms do not have a right to life.

Therefore abortion prior to brain function does not take a human life, does not kill a person, and is therefor not wrong.

Legion of Logic said...

Then the biological beginning of life is irrelevant to the abortion issue.

No, because I also said:

"The right to life is tangential, but one of the premises upon which the right to life depends is the existence of life. It won't even kick in if there is no life present. So before we can determine when a life has enough value for the right to life to protect, we must first know when a life exists."

At the point where the right to life and abortion come into conflict, there must by necessity be a human life at stake. For us to know whether there is a human life at stake, we must know whether there is a human life.


By that level of interest, in anything that could in any way be called a human organism, each and every cell in your body is a human organism.

Can you find me a reputable biologist or biology resource that would claim a skin cell is a human organism in the same way a zygote is?


Your whole point is to try to define a single cell as a human organism and then say abortion of it is therefore wrong.

My whole point is to say that human life biologically begins with the first cell. I have stated repeatedly in this thread that the issue of when a human life has value is a separate question. I am not discussing the morality of abortion in this thread.


What makes a brain dead person dead is that the brain is the only organ that is intrinsic to human life. When the brain dies the person has died, even if the rest of the body continues to live.

I won't deny that this is a useful and practical approximation of what is occurring, based on current technological limitations.


Simple logic then says that prior to having a brain the person has not yet begun to live, even if the rest of the cells are alive.

Sometimes simple logic is in conflict with reality. Prior to having a brain, the organism is alive. That's a natural part of the human life cycle.


No, you must know when a person exists, not just any life.

No, I must know when a human life exists in order to evaluate whether that human life deserves protection. "Person" and "human being" are concepts used to describe a human life deemed worthy of protection. Those definitions can and have changed.


Cellular life can exist. Animal life can exist. Plant life can exist, but none of these things have a right to life because they are not human beings, not persons.

Mustard exists, but in a discussion of my favorite brand of ketchup, I probably won't mention it.

Legion of Logic said...

If you had originally said that the scientific classification was more useful I wouldn't have seen a need to seek clarification on that claim.

It's more useful because it is more objective. And it's more objective because there is far less fuzziness surrounding its definitions, far less wiggle room to subject it to transitory political or cultural whim.

We can detect a zygote or an embryo and tell if it is alive and if it is human. That's a very simple thing to do. We cannot detect when a fetus has most definitely developed enough to transform from a blob of mystery meat worthy of getting dismembered and vacuumed out of the womb, to a human being person worthy of protection. How many human lives have ended because of that subjective dimension of "not being sure"? For if one claims that a sufficiently developed fetus is a human being worthy of protection, but cannot point out in the gray zone where that point begins, then many, many human beings worthy of protection have been killed in abortions.

Now again, the question of when a human life begins is a separate matter than when a human life is deserving of legal protection. It is quite probable that even a mass acknowledgement that the first cell is the beginning of life would in no way impact the legality of abortion. But those advocating for abortion should not hide behind subjective mysteries based on arbitrary standards based on malleable concepts.

Starhopper said...

Stardusty's argument is nothing more than circular reasoning. He defines human life as being synonymous with brain activity, and therefore concludes that without brain activity there is no human life.

Huh?

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
It's more useful because it is more objective. And it's more objective because there is far less fuzziness surrounding its definitions, far less wiggle room to subject it to transitory political or cultural whim.

It is no more objective than the concept of personhood. As I already remarked, it is as true that you and I are persons as that you and I are living organisms. That is a factual claim. Neither of the facts in that claim is more objective than the other as far as I can see.

The criteria for identifying a living organism are based on the physical properties and physical attributes of a substance while the criteria for identifying a person are based on the mental and moral capacities of a living organism within a complex social system such as we live in. The former is a much simpler concept than the latter, but I don't see how one can conclude from that difference that either is more objective than the other.

Maybe you could elaborate on what you mean by "objective"? At this point I don't understand what point you are trying to make by your claim. Is it that you only think scientific claims can be objective?

Now again, the question of when a human life begins is a separate matter than when a human life is deserving of legal protection. It is quite probable that even a mass acknowledgement that the first cell is the beginning of life would in no way impact the legality of abortion. But those advocating for abortion should not hide behind subjective mysteries based on arbitrary standards based on malleable concepts.

Since you concede that merely establishing something as a living organism does not entail the moral claim that it ought not to be killed I don't understand why you are trying to use it as an argument against abortion.

I don't happen to agree with One Brow's reasons for supporting abortion, but both he and I agree that a living organism is being killed when it is aborted. Am sure there are some pro-abortion folks that are ignorant of the biological facts here but I think you are mistaken if you think that ignorance of those biologica facts is behind the support for reproductive rights.

Legion of Logic said...

It is no more objective than the concept of personhood. As I already remarked, it is as true that you and I are persons as that you and I are living organisms. That is a factual claim. Neither of the facts in that claim is more objective than the other as far as I can see.

Here's my post you first quoted when you hopped in:

"My experience is that in a conversation about when life begins, concepts such as "person" (a legal entity based on arbitrary standards) or "human being" (a philosophical entity based on arbitrary standards).

Whereas I am talking about the biological entity that is a human organism as recognized by biology and is objectively detectable and measurable as being a living human organism or not. Biology recognizes a zygote as the first stage of an organism's life, and not just a potential organism. It exists, it is alive, and it is human."


I will concede that I was fast and loose with my terminology when I said the first two were arbitrary. For the purposes of Western civilization anyway, they aren't without consideration. So I grant that.

Here is where biology is more objective, keeping in mind that since my second post, I have been talking about nothing except the biological beginning of human life as the most objective means of determining when a human life begins.

Assuming proper equipment, under the current biological definition of "organism", any biologist can determine whether a specimen is a living human organism or not. Whether it is a zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, child, teenager, adult, or elder, the standard can be consistently applied across the entire life cycle of a human organism. It is knowable, it is repeatable, it is not subject to political whim (other than the politics of simply ignoring it), and even if the definition of "organism" is expanded or altered to incorporate some new understanding, the odds of it somehow excluding the early life cycle stages are zero. In the context of knowing whether something is a human life or not, that is about as objective as we can get outside of mathematics.

Now let's take personhood. You said much the same thing, but I borrowed from Wikipedia:

A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility. The defining features of personhood and consequently what makes a person count as a person differ widely among cultures and contexts.

Two things to note. One, no one on this blog or anywhere else on the planet is able to pinpoint when this occurs. Stardusty speaks of a functioning brain, but infants are incapable of reason, morality, etc. But we all agree an infant is a person. So at what point does the human organism become a person? Can we look on a specimen and know whether it is a person or not beyond the extremes of adult and "blob of tissue"? In the context of when a human life begins, how knowable are the results using personhood as the standard? How susceptible to political opinion? How susceptible to error?

Two, as the last line in the Wikipedia quote notes, there are certain cases where you could step across a border and become a not-person, based on their laws and culture. Whereas you have to abandon all of biology in order to achieve the same result with the "human organism" standard.

Legion of Logic said...

Since you concede that merely establishing something as a living organism does not entail the moral claim that it ought not to be killed I don't understand why you are trying to use it as an argument against abortion.

While my position on abortion isn't a secret, I have not argued against abortion in this thread. I entered the current topic when Stardusty argued that it is merely a religious view that the fertilized egg "has a soul", and he also said that brain function is the logical standard for human life, using "person" and "human being" frequently. My position is anyone, religious views or no, could agree with me that the fertilized egg is the first stage of human life, with no need whatsoever to invoke a soul.


I think you are mistaken if you think that ignorance of those biologica facts is behind the support for reproductive rights.

No, as I said there are competing interests beyond the simple question of when a life begins. We must also determine when that life has enough value to invoke the right to life, due to this being a messy world. But denying that what is dying is a human life is highly problematic.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
I entered the current topic when Stardusty argued that it is merely a religious view that the fertilized egg "has a soul", and he also said that brain function is the logical standard for human life, using "person" and "human being" frequently. My position is anyone, religious views or no, could agree with me that the fertilized egg is the first stage of human life, with no need whatsoever to invoke a soul.

Thanks much for clarifying your position.

Starhopper said...

In his Purgatorio, Dante (paraphrasing St. Thomas Aquinas) wrote that the soul was infused into the fetus directly by God after bodily development was complete in the womb.

But "ensoulment" is a purely religious concept and has no bearing on the biological question of when human life begins. I've already posted to this discussion my own belief that "life" has no bearing on a person's humanity. As I said (and I will cheerfully double down on it), "A rotting corpse is still a human being - just one that is no longer alive. You don't lose your humanity simply by dying."

Proof of this idea is the reverence and respect with which we treat dead bodies. Why else have funerals? Why spend millions of dollars and years of effort to recover the remains of MIAs in the jungles of Southeast Asia? Why build elaborate tombs and monuments for the dead? Why visit the graves of our loved ones?

One Brow said...

Starhopper,
Stardusty's argument is nothing more than circular reasoning. He defines human life as being synonymous with brain activity, and therefore concludes that without brain activity there is no human life.

Huh?


All deductive reasoning is the circular process of showing a statement true that you have made true by your assumptions.

bmiller said...

In his Purgatorio, Dante (paraphrasing St. Thomas Aquinas) wrote that the soul was infused into the fetus directly by God after bodily development was complete in the womb.

The ancients thought that the transformation from sperm and egg into a new being took weeks but now we know it happens almost immediately. Once this immediate uniting of sperm and egg take place, nothing of the sperm nor egg remain and the new thing that exists is a new human being (or organism) capable of being infused with a soul.

bmiller said...

So when is it morally and legally permissible to kill an innocent human being?

bmiller said...

And does 2+2=4?

StardustyPsyche said...

"So when is it morally and legally permissible to kill an innocent human being? "
In war when a greater good can only be achieved at the loss of innocent life.

But abortion in the USA is not like war.

If a particular fetus on a particular day is a living human begin, a person, a thinking being in possession of an intrinsic right to human life the only justification for abortion is a clear and present danger to the life of the mother, maternal mortal self defense.

If a particular fetus on a particular day is just a collection of human tissue lacking in personhood then abortion is simply an elective medical procedure like liposuction.

Legion of Logic said...

Is the distinction important enough to ensure we do not kill one of the former?

Hal said...


So when is it morally and legally permissible to kill an innocent human being?


How quickly the question moves from the biological to the moral: from the human being (a living organism) to an innocent human being (a person).

StardustyPsyche said...

Legion,
"Is the distinction important enough to ensure we do not kill one of the former? "
A very great deal of time has been spent analyzing when a person becomes a person with an intrinsic right to human life. Thus, the supreme court made a major shift from the trimester framework to the viability standard.

The trimester framework was based on the notion of viability as it stood at that time, 1973. Advancements in neonatal care technology made the trimester framework obsolete, so a change was made to an explicit viability standard.

That principle, however, is very poorly reasoned. For some reason it is thought that a person has a right to life when he or she can survive in a high tech incubator. So, if the only way for you to stay alive is for your mother to provide life support then, by that law, she can just kill you if she feels like it. How that makes any sense I don't know.

The viability standard also has us set up for another legal breakdown when the artificial womb becomes available. There is nothing so very difficult to connect up to a couple tubes, inject oxygen and nutrients into the liquid, and remove carbon dioxide and wastes from the liquid.

Of course, there are technical difficulties, but once the artificial womb is developed we will have a couple choices, either consider all pregnancies as viable thereby outlawing abortion, or change to a different standard to determine when a person becomes a person.

Since we already have a standard in place to determine when a living human being, a person with an intrinsic right to life, ceases to live, the logical thing to do is to apply that standard analogously to the beginning of human life, to the commencement of one's intrinsic right to life.

bmiller said...

Hal,

How quickly the question moves from the biological to the moral: from the human being (a living organism) to an innocent human being (a person).

I raised the question not Legion.

But I'm interested in your answer since you've acknowledged that a human is the same substantial individual from conception to death and that the substantial individual just is his body (and not any part like a brain).

bmiller said...

There is an obvious asymmetry of applying standards used to evaluate fully developed adults to those who are still developing. That's like telling me that a young tomato plant isn't a tomato plant unless it is sprouting tomatoes.

But even those localities that declare a person "brain dead" after medical examination, would never find a developing unborn child "brain dead" even if they mistakenly tried to apply that standard. The reason is that it must be determined that the patient would never have "brain function" in the future. An unborn child will certainly have that function in future disregarding accident or defect.

StardustyPsyche said...

"a human is the same substantial individual from conception to death and that the substantial individual just is his body (and not any part like a brain). "
The continuity of self is not so simple as that.

But as to the last part first,no, the brain is unique. You can lose any other organ either completely or have its function replaced by a machine, still you remain you.

When you lose your brain you are dead, finished, there is no more you in existence any longer, the continued beating of your heart being irrelevant to the continued existence of you the individual.

As for the continuity of your material self, no, cells and molecules come and go. You are not physically the same person throughout your life. The materials that you are composed of come and go. In fact, you change moment to moment. There is no such thing as a static or unchanging person.

The continuity of self, then, is an incremental process of repeated approximations and renormalizations. The locus of the new you right now is slightly different than the locus of the old you a moment ago. The difference is small enough so that the approximation of those two loci is rounded off as being an equality. This is done again and again and again subconsciously over your entire life.

Starhopper said...

"As for the continuity of your material self, no, cells and molecules come and go. You are not physically the same person throughout your life. The materials that you are composed of come and go. In fact, you change moment to moment. There is no such thing as a static or unchanging person." (my emphasis)

False! I've written about this on several occasions. The fact that our material selves change continually is in fact PROOF of the existence of our immaterial identities, which is "unchanging".

If I am not the same person as the one who walked this Earth using my name 10 years ago, then the courts have no tight to haul me in on murder charges if I killed someone 11 years ago. Every atom in my body may have been replaced in the interim, but I am nevertheless the same person.

StardustyPsyche said...

"that's like telling me that a young tomato plant isn't a tomato plant unless it is sprouting tomatoes."
No, its more like telling you that blueprints are not a building, a seed is not a tree, a single brick is not a wall, two grains of sand do not make a beach.

Bet even those analogies are lacking the key component, since all lack any sort of brain function.

"An unborn child will certainly have that function in future disregarding accident or defect."
If you disregard time and reality then you can convince yourself that the real present is the same as an imagined future.

Burning blueprints is not arson. Yes, if one has a process to express and realize the information on the blueprints, and if one has a means to gather all the needed materials, and if one has a way to assemble all those materials according to the blueprints then eventually there will be a building that was largely defined by the blueprints.

Your mistake is compressing that imagined future process into an imagined present and confusing the blueprint with the building.

StardustyPsyche said...

Starhopper,
" The fact that our material selves change continually is in fact PROOF of the existence of our immaterial identities, which is "unchanging"."
I told you how the continuity of self works. You obviously did not understand a word I was saying, so you just make up a ghost story.

Hal said...

bmiller,
But I'm interested in your answer since you've acknowledged that a human is the same substantial individual from conception to death and that the substantial individual just is his body (and not any part like a brain).

The criteria by which we attribute personhood to a human being are behavioral. A human fetus is incapable of exhibiting those criteria. Therefore I don't believe a human zygote or a human embryo or a human fetus is a person. Having said that, I can understand why someone else would be able to come up with reasons for extending the conception of personhood to the unborn human but I'm not willing to do so because it appears to me to be too great a distortion of that concept.

Starhopper said...

The fact that our material selves are in constant flux while our personal identities are consistent is, if not proof then at least strong evidence, that materialism is bogus. Since our material makeup is changing and even replaceable, then what is unchanging must be immaterial.

To believe in individual continuity, you cannot be a materialist.

StardustyPsyche said...

Starhopper,
Read August 16, 2020 11:00 AM.
Once you understand, if you can understand it, then you will realize how simplistic and false your notion of the continuity of self is.

Hal said...

Starhopper,
The fact that our material selves change continually is in fact PROOF of the existence of our immaterial identities, which is "unchanging".

You are confusing numerical identity with qualitative identity. You are are the same being (numerical identity) from conception to your death. However, you also go through numerous changes (qualitative identity) as you mature and age.

Simply positing that you are an immaterial substance does not negate that difference.

StardustyPsyche said...

Hal,
"he criteria by which we attribute personhood to a human being are behavioral"
Is it?

Is a person in a coma a human being, a person with an intrinsic right to life? Can a person in a coma exhibit the behaviors you are looking for?

What behaviors specifically do you consider are required for personhood?

bmiller said...

If the unborn are analogous to blueprints then so are the born. Both continue to grow and develop while alive needing only nourishment and air for that activity.

However blueprints are neither alive nor develop, so the analogy is plainly poor. The analogy of DNA to blueprints would be more apt.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
You are the one who started in with the analogies, like the tomato.

Your key error is your confusion between the actual present and some imagined future.

That's why most people don't think a fertilized egg is a person with an intrinsic right to life, because we look at what it really is right now, not what can be imagined to happen in the future if a long, complicated process of gathering and assembling additional materials eventually occurs.

The fertilized egg is not a person with an intrinsic right to life right now.

Starhopper said...

Why the insistence on "imagined" future? You don't "imagine" that a fetus will grow into a fully developed person, you're just describing what will happen unless something interferes. In the normal course of events, a fertilized human embryo will eventually become a human child. It is abnormal (due to human intervention or a genetic defect) for this to not occur.

An imagined future is a stillbirth or an abortion - not a healthy child.

bmiller said...

A fertilized egg is actually no longer an egg at all. If it is, then we are all "fertilized eggs"

Once sperm and egg unite, what exists is a new unique human. We are all that same unique human that started at our conception and still exists right now regardless of what people try to convince others or themselves of. Plenty of people may want to destroy that small human life for all sorts of reasons but I expect that if we are being honest those reasons boil down to selfishness.

Starhopper said...

"I expect that if we are being honest those reasons boil down to selfishness."

Careful there. A case can be made that all human motivations in the end boil down to selfishness.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
"We are all that same unique human that started at our conception and still exists right now"
Nope, everything changes, not the same. Your view is hopelessly simplistic. That's fine for you, if you insist on being simple minded that is up to you.

StardustyPsyche said...

Starhopper,
"You don't "imagine" that a fetus will grow into a fully developed person,"
You are so dull witted that you cannot differentiate between your imaginations about the future and what is real right now.

Look at a single cell. It is not a baby. You may imagine it as a baby that that is your fantasy.

bmiller said...

That's fine for you, if you insist on being simple minded that is up to you.

I wonder who on earth were you talking to since neither you nor I are the same thing we were a mere second ago.

David Brightly said...

Indeed, BM, you are now a completely different rounding error. God it seems is a lousy geometer.

bmiller said...

I've been feeling more round lately ;-)

One Brow said...

bmiller,
The ancients thought that the transformation from sperm and egg into a new being took weeks but now we know it happens almost immediately.

How do we know this?

Once this immediate uniting of sperm and egg take place, nothing of the sperm nor egg remain and the new thing that exists is a new human being (or organism) capable of being infused with a soul.

The DNA of both the sperm and ovum are extant, and will be distributed over the new being. Most of the material of the ovum remains.

Perhaps you disagree with Feser's take, but if you accept the soul as the form of a living being, then the two innocent souls die to create the zygote, and it has a form, therefore a soul, immediately. There is no "ensoulment".

So when is it morally and legally permissible to kill an innocent human being?

When it impinges on your body.

And does 2+2=4?

By definition.

Hal said...

One Brow,
....but if you accept the soul as the form of a living being, then the two innocent souls die to create the zygote, and it has a form, therefore a soul, immediately.

Simply because an elephant is an animal it does not follow that all animals are elephants.

Nor does the fact that some forms are souls entail that all forms are souls.

One Brow said...

Hal,

From what I recall of Feser, the forms of living things are souls. So I agree Feser would say rocks don't have souls.

Hal said...

One Brow,
From what I recall of Feser, the forms of living things are souls.

Thanks. I think it may be a little more complicated than that but after some googling it looks like my earlier reply is incorrect so I retract it.

bmiller said...

In Catholic theology, God directly creates and infuses each immortal human soul.

Other living things have souls (aka living principle) but are dependent on matter, and so are corrupted when the composite is corrupted.

bmiller said...

So while it is true that other living things have a soul at the moment they are created due simply to the fact they have become a new living thing naturally without direct intervention from God, the human soul is a direct creation by God in cooperation with the otherwise natural processes.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
So, every animal at conception gets a new soul. How does that happen? What is the chemistry or physics for new soul generation? Can you provide some links to, say, pictures, x-ray images, Geiger counter readings, or any other method by which all these gazillions of souls keep being created at conception?

And how about asexual reproduction? Every bacterium has a soul, so, what, does a bacteria soul divide when the cell divides? How does that work and how do you know that is what is happening? Again, links please.

How about a virus, does it get a soul too? How about self replicating molecules?

Oh, but human soul is a super duper soul, because regular old souls just happen by natural processes, but god makes a special little miracle for each human fertilized egg.

So when does this super duper soul take up residence in the human egg? When the sperm first penetrates the egg cell wall? After the DNA sets begin to merge? Or does god wait for that last base pair to join up and then poof in the magic in the petri dish? (or test tube, or Fallopian tube or wherever).

I see now why it is impossible to reason with you about when life begins, you are barking mad.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

So, abortion is only the death of a human soul after the point where God overlays(?) the animal soul with a created human soul? How would you know that doesn't happen until the moment of birth?

bmiller said...

A soul is just the form/life principle of a living substance. When a new substance comes into being so does the new form/soul.

All substances have a form whether alive or not and material substances are composed of form and matter that both normally get corrupted at death. A kind of substance a thing is, is determined by both the form and matter of the substance. A newly conceived human being has the form and matter of a human being. In this case the soul is a rational soul.

It used to be thought that a newly conceived person was still in the process of becoming for some weeks after conception, and so had not yet become a new, unique human being with his/her own substance composed of form and matter. We now know differently.

A rational soul however is immaterial, and so cannot be corrupted at material death. At the point of death, the substance of a complete person is corrupted but the soul remains (being an immaterial part of a human and not a material part).

For those asking for proof of the existence of forms, all they have to do is look at a substance. If it's formless it doesn't have a form. If it has a form you will be able to recognize it. If it's alive it's form is called a soul. Soul in Latin is anima from which we get the words animal, animate and anime. In Greek it is psyche, which is ironic isn't it?

StardustyPsyche said...

Sorry, bmiller, did I say barking mad? No, woo a holic.

What are you smoking?

You sound like a Jesus freak on an acid trip.

Hal said...

Have to hand it to you SP, you are the biggest asshole I've encountered on the this or any other site.

One Brow said...

A rational soul however is immaterial, and so cannot be corrupted at material death. At the point of death, the substance of a complete person is corrupted but the soul remains (being an immaterial part of a human and not a material part).

Right, and you believe this rational soul is a direct creation by God in cooperation with natural processes. So, again, how do you know that this creation is not installed at the moment of birth?

bmiller said...

A newly conceived human being has the form and matter of a human being. In this case the soul is a rational soul.

Hal said...

One Brow,
...how do you know that this creation is not installed at the moment of birth?

It is a revealed truth that it occurs at the moment of conception. Just as his belief in God creating each human soul is a revealed truth.

Of course, you and I don't share his belief in those revealed truths but his claim seem to be quite reasonable given the religious framework within which he is working.

bmiller said...

Hal,

You didn't actually expect Stardusty to have anything reasonable to say did you?

Hal said...

bmiller,

No, I didn't. It does however get tiresome seeing him insult everyone here. Wish there was a way to simply block his posts so they don't show up. I know that Feser has requested he not post on Feser's blogsite but he continues to do so. So it is obvious he delights in playing the role of a troll.

bmiller said...

It is a revealed truth that it occurs at the moment of conception. Just as his belief in God creating each human soul is a revealed truth.

The fact that the rational soul is immaterial goes back to Aristotle. An animal interacts and knows the external world through its 5 senses with each sense related to a sense organs, like the eyes, tongue, ears etc. However, the intellect is how we can know the form of a substance and so the immaterial aspect of that substance. Therefore since the intellect is not related to any sense organ and allows us to know the immaterial aspects of substances it must itself be immaterial and therefore incorruptible.

Now the instant a new living substance comes into existence it has the form/soul of the type of thing it is. Since a new human is a rational being, the new human has a rational, immaterial soul.

Aristotle didn't take it any further than that, but his followers made further developments to conclude that the immaterial aspect of the new human must be a direct creation from God, to explain how the rational soul comes into being and without also not being contrary to revealed truth.

bmiller said...

So it is obvious he delights in playing the role of a troll.

Everybody has a favorite passtime. At least he isn't out physically assaulting people. I think ;-)

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
My last two posts to you were perfectly reasonable.

You lapsed into utter superstitious drivel.

Sometimes you actually make some arguments or have some facts or say some things along the lines of reasoning.

But, religion has a terribly corrosive and destructive effect on an individual's capacity to reason. Once you simply voiced your beliefs about the soul and corruption and all the rest there was not a shred of rationality to be found. It really was like listening to a person in a highly intoxicated state ramble on about their hallucinations.

I mean, just go back and re-read
August 17, 2020 9:12 PM
August 18, 2020 6:57 AM

Of course you would like to block me. You hate having your superstitious drivel called out for what it really is.

You don't have a shred of logic or reasoning or evidence to back up those two posts. Those are just ancient ghost stories that were told around the campfire in primitive tribes, then written down in ancient script, put in a clay pot in a cave, and eventually printed in a book you read rather gullibly believe.

The corruption is of your reasoning capacity and the corrosive is religion, which has destroyed your capacity to think on certain subjects. People like you can reason extremely well in day to day affairs, and you are almost certainly a highly intelligent and well educated individual in general. But people are highly segmented and multifaceted.

Those two posts prove that on the subject of religion your reasoning capacity goes into a gauzy haywire superstitious hallucinating state and you just start chanting inane ghost stories somehow thinking you have actually stated some sort of rational position.

I am doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to face head on what a crippled state your mind has degenerated to in those areas affected by the corrosive powers of religion.

If you have the guts to face your mental degradation head on you can correct yourself.

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

It was very kind (and timely!) of Stardusty to prove that bmiller's and Hal's assessments of his character and intellect were spot on.

Hal said...

bmiller,
The fact that the rational soul is immaterial goes back to Aristotle. An animal interacts and knows the external world through its 5 senses with each sense related to a sense organs, like the eyes, tongue, ears etc. However, the intellect is how we can know the form of a substance and so the immaterial aspect of that substance. Therefore since the intellect is not related to any sense organ and allows us to know the immaterial aspects of substances it must itself be immaterial and therefore incorruptible.

Well it is a fact that Aristotle believed that the rational soul was immaterial. That does not entail that there even is such thing as a rational soul let alone that it is immaterial.

In any case, it is misleading to suggest that Aristotle's concept of the soul is equivalent to the Christian conception. And the Christian conception is based upon the revelation of the Christian God. So I think my orginal claim still stands.

I've noticed you doing something similiar above, conflating an opinion with a fact. In an earlier post you wrote:
It's been a scientifically established fact that a new, unique living human being comes into existence at the moment of conception for a long time.

I wonder why so many people want to find a way to justify killing that innocent life?


In the first sentence you are referring to a biological concept: the human being. In the second sentence you are referring to a moral/legal concept: the human person.

Hal said...

bmiller,

Sorry, the last part of the above comment got cut off:

We agree that it is a biological fact that human being exists from the moment of conception. We disagree over the opinion that a human zygote or a human fetus is a person.

bmiller said...

I think it's kind of cute to watch him rant.

Starhopper said...

"And the Christian conception is based upon the revelation of the Christian God.

Where? I cannot find any such revelation. I'm not saying there isn't one, just that I know of no such.

Yes, souls are mentioned in the Scriptures, but so are mountains. Does that mean that the existence of mountains is a "revelation from God"? In the New Testament, the existence of souls is a given. Nothing is "revealed". Their existence is more problematic in the Old Testament. So, somewhere between the year 200 BC and 1 AD, the idea of human souls became accepted, but from where? That time period coincides with the influence of Greek culture and philosophy on Jewish thought. So a role for Aristotle in this matter is quite possible.

Hal said...

bmiller,
However, the intellect is how we can know the form of a substance and so the immaterial aspect of that substance. Therefore since the intellect is not related to any sense organ and allows us to know the immaterial aspects of substances it must itself be immaterial and therefore incorruptible.

It is because we have the capacity to reason and to use a language that we can even understand and explain such concepts as 'substance' and 'form'. The intellect is not a thing let alone an immaterial thing that can exist without a body.

Hal said...

Starhopper,
Where? I cannot find any such revelation. I'm not saying there isn't one, just that I know of no such.

I would suggest opening your Catholic Catechism. It is based on the the Church's interpretation of the revelation in God's scripture.

Have to agree with bmiller that you seem to have a poor understanding of Catholic teaching.

Hal said...

Nothing is "revealed".

Have to say that is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen a Christian claim. I thought everyone understood that the teachings of Christianity are based on the revelation of the Christian God.

bmiller said...

Hal,

In any case, it is misleading to suggest that Aristotle's concept of the soul is equivalent to the Christian conception. And the Christian conception is based upon the revelation of the Christian God. So I think my orginal claim still stands.

I thought it was evident from my last paragraph that Aristotle only thought the human soul was rational and immaterial and was not equivalent to the Christian conception full stop. The reason I responded to your post was that I don't think it is has been a revealed truth that the human soul comes into being at the moment of conception. I think it is a logical deduction.

I've noticed you doing something similiar above, conflating an opinion with a fact. In an earlier post you wrote:
It's been a scientifically established fact that a new, unique living human being comes into existence at the moment of conception for a long time.

I wonder why so many people want to find a way to justify killing that innocent life?


In the first sentence you are referring to a biological concept: the human being. In the second sentence you are referring to a moral/legal concept: the human person.

We agree that it is a biological fact that human being exists from the moment of conception. We disagree over the opinion that a human zygote or a human fetus is a person.


I don't think I was conflating things. I'm glad that you agree that the first statement is a fact. Based on that fact, I think it's OK to ponder the morality of how we treat that individual. Even if you think the new life is a cow, I hope you wouldn't object to discussing the morality of treating it properly.

Having said that, I think the problem with your position is that if the unborn human being does not already have this thing called "personhood" when he/she comes into being, then someone or something would have to add it to him/her. Do you consider "personhood" then as a purely legal declaration rather than something ontologically inherent in all human beings? Like the Queen knighting Elton John?

Hal said...

bmiller,

I don't think I was conflating things.

Sure you were. You conflated a biological concept with a moral concept. If you had simply said:I wonder why so many people want to find a way to justify killing that life? then I would agree that there was no conflation.

By putting in the word "innocent" you simply assumed that this biological entity (a living human zygote) was also a person. A 'person' is a moral/legal concept.

. Based on that fact, I think it's OK to ponder the morality of how we treat that individual. Even if you think the new life is a cow, I hope you wouldn't object to discussing the morality of treating it properly.

I've no problem with that as long as you don't start off begging the question by assuming that a biological entity is necessarily a person.

bmiller said...

Sure you were. You conflated a biological concept with a moral concept. If you had simply said:I wonder why so many people want to find a way to justify killing that life? then I would agree that there was no conflation.

By putting in the word "innocent" you simply assumed that this biological entity (a living human zygote) was also a person. A 'person' is a moral/legal concept.


Do you challenge animal rights advocates for calling animals innocent too?

If the legal system declared a cow a "person", would that make it a "person" and therefore change the morality of the way it should be treated?

Hal said...

bmiller,
The reason I responded to your post was that I don't think it is has been a revealed truth that the human soul comes into being at the moment of conception. I think it is a logical deduction.

As I pointed out, that 'logical deduction' is simply based on an opinion. It is a fact that Aristotle believed it, but I see no good reason for simply assuming that opinion of Aristotle's is correct. Personally, I think his concept of hylomorphism is confused, but that is just my opinion.

Hal said...

bmiller,
Do you challenge animal rights advocates for calling animals innocent too?

Sure. Do you think cows are persons? I don't. Hopefully we can agree on that.

One can justify humane treatment of animals without attributing personhood to them.

bmiller said...

Hal,

It is because we have the capacity to reason and to use a language that we can even understand and explain such concepts as 'substance' and 'form'. The intellect is not a thing let alone an immaterial thing that can exist without a body.

The intellect is the thing that allows us to reason and discern intelligible forms (which are immaterial things). The intellect is a distinctive feature of the rational soul and so remains uncorrupted when the material separates from the immaterial.

I am merely explaining the A-T position in case you think I am conflating facts with opinion.

bmiller said...

Also, are you going to continue to complain that I conflate facts with opinions?

Because That's just like your opinion Lebowski :-)

bmiller said...

Hal,

As I pointed out, that 'logical deduction' is simply based on an opinion.

The point I was making was about it not being a "revealed truth" about the soul coming into being at the moment of conception. It's irrelevant what you personally believe about hylomorphism.

Starhopper said...

Well, I'll see your Big Lebowski, and raise you a Seinfeld.

bmiller said...

Hal,

When you get a chance, I'm really interested in your view if the legal system declares something, does that actually make it ontologically so?

bmiller said...

Well, I'll see your Big Lebowski, and raise you a Seinfeld.

That was deep. Gonna have to think about that one.

Starhopper said...

"Gonna have to think about that one."

Damn! That's no fair. 'Cause I put no thought whatsoever into my posting!

bmiller said...

A poet that didn't know it.

Legion of Logic said...

I leave the conversation for a little while and look what happens.

bmiller said...

We don't have to behave now do we?

bmiller said...

No answer? Guess that means we're clear to misbehave!

bmiller said...

So let me go on record as saying I have never met a guilty cow. All have been innocent regardless of the false accusations I've heard.

Hal said...

bmiller,
I am merely explaining the A-T position in case you think I am conflating facts with opinion.

This is what you wrote originally:
The fact that the rational soul is immaterial goes back to Aristotle.

This was my response:
Well it is a fact that Aristotle believed that the rational soul was immaterial. That does not entail that there even is such thing as a rational soul let alone that it is immaterial.

I'm glad you've made clear now that you only meant to explain the A-T position. Am surprised that you didn't agree with my response which indicated that the A-T position is not a fact. Could have saved both of us some wasted time.:-)

Hal said...

bmiller,
When you get a chance, I'm really interested in your view if the legal system declares something, does that actually make it ontologically so?

I've already presented my views regarding the question of the personhood of a human zygote or a human fetus. Am not interested in debating the issue with you. I'll simply quote it here:

"The criteria by which we attribute personhood to a human being are behavioral. A human fetus is incapable of exhibiting those criteria. Therefore I don't believe a human zygote or a human embryo or a human fetus is a person. Having said that, I can understand why someone else would be able to come up with reasons for extending the conception of personhood to the unborn human but I'm not willing to do so because it appears to me to be too great a distortion of that concept.

One Brow said...

bmiller,
The fact that the rational soul is immaterial goes back to Aristotle. An animal interacts and knows the external world through its 5 senses with each sense related to a sense organs, like the eyes, tongue, ears etc. However, the intellect is how we can know the form of a substance and so the immaterial aspect of that substance. Therefore since the intellect is not related to any sense organ and allows us to know the immaterial aspects of substances it must itself be immaterial and therefore incorruptible.

A wide variety mammals and birds can recognize the difference between a ripe fruit and an unripe fruit, and this difference is form. so, unless you are proposing that all mammals and all birds are also given an immaterial, incorruptible soul, you are engaging in special pleading.

One Brow said...

Hal,
Of course, you and I don't share his belief in those revealed truths but his claim seem to be quite reasonable given the religious framework within which he is working.

As long as he's not trying to force the rest of us to follow laws based on his religions revelations, sure.

One Brow said...

StardustyPsyche,
But, religion has a terribly corrosive and destructive effect on an individual's capacity to reason.

We thank you for demonstrating that a lack of religion is not preventive against corrosive effects on an individual's capacity to reason.

I am doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to face head on what a crippled state your mind has degenerated to in those areas affected by the corrosive powers of religion.

Apparently, a lack of religion is also not a preventative from an inflated sense of self-worth and effectiveness. Your argumentation style could not be more deliberately designed to shut down the thinking of the person with whom you disagree over the course of your conversation. This effectively puts your "opportunity" behind a glass wall, untouchable.

StardustyPsyche said...

One Brow,
"We thank you for demonstrating that a lack of religion is not preventive against corrosive effects on an individual's capacity to reason."
You have yet to soundly point out any defects in my reasoning whatsoever, your vapid claim here notwithstanding.

For example, George Floyd was a 5 time convicted and sentenced criminal who was caught in the act of committing conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency, and actually passing counterfeit currency. He actively hid the evidence of his crimes while being non-compliant. He told a long series of lies to the police while violently resisting arrest.

George Floyd then worked himself into a state of Excited Delirium Syndrome for which the officers on scene correctly put him in a prone restraint until the ambulance came, which they called twice.

Because George Floyd worked himself into a state of ExDS on top of his lethal does of opioids and methamphetamine on top of his Covid-19 infection on top of his arteriosclorotic heart disease and hypertensive heart disease George Floyd game himself a heart attack.

George Floyd killed himself. All the officers on scene acted with great professionalism. You, America, and indeed the world owe those fine officers a big apology and a huge compensation settlement.

You have not offered a single bit of sound reasoning in response to my clear exposition of those facts, for example.

"not a preventative from an inflated sense of self-worth"
I know very well what my worth is. You have no clue as my sense of it, how could you? You are not a mind reader, and what is apparent to you is irrelevant.

"argumentation style could not be more deliberately designed to shut down the thinking of the person with whom you disagree over the course of your conversation."
You are free to have whatever style of argumentation you wish. You have no clue about my design of shut down because again, you are not a mind reader and what is apparent to you is irrelevant.

StardustyPsyche said...

"This effectively puts your "opportunity""
If others fail to avail themselves of the opportunities I provide that is their problem, more's the pity for them.

Religion has often been asserted to be a mental illness. One problem with that assertion is that it is too vague and is immediately subject to counter examples and thus quickly dismissed. Obviously, a great many religious people have accomplished great works of reasoning and creativity in areas other than religion.

As I noted for bmiller, for example, he is likely a very educated and higly intelligent person in his day to day life, his profession, and his avocations. The same is true of Feser, for example.

But in both cases these otherwise learned individuals suffer from mental retardation when theirs brains focus on the subject of religion, or subjects closely related to religion.

Religion attacks the mental capacity of its victim in a highly segmented and selective manner, which is one of its most insidious and diabolical aspects. Religion does not damage the victim so generally as to render him or her generally incapacitated, rather, it attacks and degrades and destroys reasoning capacity in just the selective facets needed for its propagation.

In that sense religion is like a virus that remains permanently parasitic on its host without outright killing the host.

It starts with the ancient ghost stories told over thousands of years by many people and eventually written down and canonized. Those stories make no sense, of course, they are just ancient superstitions, many of which contradict with each other.

But, most people believe one set or another of those stories, out of confusion, ignorance, search for meaning, promise of paradise in the promised afterlife, fear of eternal torture in the threatened afterlife. For various reasons gullible people take on these sets of nonsense.

Now, in the modern age people then try to reason to reconciles the absurdities intrinsic to all these canonized ghost stories, and that is where the mental retardation is inflicted on the victim, like bmiller and Feser and billions of others.

The only way to apply reason to account for these absurd and self contradictory canonized ghost stories is to destroy sound reason and degrade the victim's mental capacity to the point that religion makes sense to the person in the manner that hallucinations make sense to a drug addict and absurdities make sense to the mentally retarded.

But, because the brain is so highly segmented this mental retardation applies primarily when the brain focuses on religion and related subjects.

So, I have provided you with the opportunity to learn how ignorant you are of criminality and sound police work, plus I have provided bmiller the opportunity to understand his own state of segmented mental retardation inflicted by religion.

If you both choose to not avail yourselves of these opportunities I provide, well, more's the pity for both of you.

Starhopper said...

"But, most people believe one set or another of those stories, out of confusion, [etc.]"

"Now, in the modern age people then try to reason"

"religion makes sense to the person"

"this [...] applies primarily when the brain focuses on religion"

Of course by Stardusty's own logic, he can know none of this, since he is not a mind reader!

bmiller said...

Hal,

I've already presented my views regarding the question of the personhood of a human zygote or a human fetus. Am not interested in debating the issue with you. I'll simply quote it here:

I can't find the answer to my question in your answer though. Let me explain what I'm interested in. It's related to this statement:

A 'person' is a moral/legal concept.

Do you think that a 'person' becomes a 'person' just because the government declares something a 'person' and so in that sense it is therefore morally right or wrong to do what the government declares. In the past you mentioned that an individual retains his/her ontological existent status from conception to death, so I am reaching the conclusion that you must hold some position like this. That the morality of dealing with something has no connection to what the thing actually is.

Hal said...

bmiller,

Do you think that a 'person' becomes a 'person' just because the government declares something a 'person'

Again, I've already explained that in my view we can only identify a living organism as a person on the basis of behavioral criteria. That concept (personhood) is only used within a legal/moral context. For example, if one believes that a fetus is a person then one could charactize that human fetus as being 'innocent'. For innocence and guilt are moral/legal concepts related to the concept of personood.

I don't understand what you mean by 'ontological existent status' in reference to personhood. "Personhood" is not a thing that can exist on its own. The living human organism is a temporal-spatial continuant that exists from conception until death. It is the fully mature human organism acting in a human society that can take on the role of a person.

The concept of personhood has developed and changed over time. It may change in the future.

bmiller said...

Hal,

I don't understand what you mean by 'ontological existent status' in reference to personhood.

The reason I'm discussing this with you is because you have a similar concept of a substance that I do. By 'ontological existent status', I mean The living human organism is a temporal-spatial continuant that exists from conception until death., which I think I remember you referred to as a substance.

Do you think that the human substance at conception becomes a different substance when someone applies the label 'person' to it? If not, then 'personhood' must not be a substantial feature of a human being ever.

The concept of personhood has developed and changed over time. It may change in the future.

Does that mean you will then change your position on allowing abortions when the concept changes to declaring 'personhood' to the newly conceived human?

bmiller said...

BTW.

The concepts of hylomorphism, form, substance etc are only available to us as operations of our intellect and part of our rational soul. Although animals can perceive things through sight, sound, touch etc and differentiate among things sensible/perceptible the concepts we are discussing are unavailable to them.

Hal said...

bmiller,
The reason I'm discussing this with you is because you have a similar concept of a substance that I do

We don't really share the same concept of substance. After all you believe that the human being is part immaterial - a part that can exist independently of the human body. So you are basically in the dualism camp while I am a monist. The only substance making up the human being is a material one. That substance also has an array of mental powers along with its corporeal powers.

If not, then 'personhood' must not be a substantial feature of a human being ever.

You will have to explain what you mean by 'a substantial feature' here.

bmiller said...

Hal,

We don't really share the same concept of substance.
Right. Not the same, but similar enough for purposes of this discussion.

You will have to explain what you mean by 'a substantial feature' here.
A feature that is essential to what a substance is, without which the substance would be a different substance or no substance at all. So for instance you used to have hair and now you don't 😜, but you're still the same substance. Get cremated, different substance.

Hal said...

bmiller,

The concept of person is not a substance concept. The concept of a human being is a substance concept.
I am the same human being that my mother bore in her womb. I will be the same human being until I die and cease to exist. But when I was a zygote or a fetus I was not a person.

bmiller said...

Hal,

OK, thanks. So when someone kills a zygote, fetus or person, we have to assume, there is no substantial difference.

That substance also has an array of mental powers along with its corporeal powers.
Since a 'person' is not a substance, and a human being is a substance from conception to death, then it is the human being that has this array of mental and corporeal powers, right?

Hal said...

bmiller,

OK, thanks. So when someone kills a zygote, fetus or person, we have to assume, there is no substantial difference.

There is a moral/legal difference. Remember, the concept of a person is a moral/legal one. That is why when an innocent human person is intentionally killed by another it is called a murder and not merely a killing.

Since a 'person' is not a substance, and a human being is a substance from conception to death, then it is the human being that has this array of mental and corporeal powers, right?

The human being, like all living organisms, goes through many changes as it matures, reaches maturation and then declines.

For example, a human zygote has no mental powers but it does have some corporeal powers. Or an adult human suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease may have lost many of her corporeal powers but still retain her mental powers.

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