Sunday, September 11, 2022

Brain death, brain birth, and abortion

 Pro-choicers believe that even though a human fetus is species member, it lacks those characteristic that endow it with a right to life. One argument is that fetuses do not have functional brains until very late on, and therefore have not experienced anything. You can either see life as the career of a biological entity--that begins at conception. Or you can see it as a series of experiences or mental occurrences, and that doesn't begin until late in pregnancy. At the end of life we think of a person as dead (and therefore lacking a right to life), once the brain has died, even if there is some biological function still going on. So, at the beginning of life, when there is some biological functioning going on it's life has started even though it doesn't have a functioning brain? (If I only had a........) Mind you this may not be the last word on the abortion issue. But it does make it difficult to see how the same level of heinousness attaches to abortions (at least before brain development) that attaches to infanticide. In my view the lack of a developed brain is a morally relevant difference even if you believe, as I do, that abortion inflicts a significant loss and requires a high standard of justification.

32 comments:

bmiller said...

Christians that don't believe in souls. I think that falls outside of "Mere Christianity".

Kevin said...

In my view the lack of a developed brain is a morally relevant difference

Brain activity begins in the first month or early in the second month. Brain development ends around age 25 in a human adult.

Is it therefore more morally acceptable to kill an infant than a 24 year old?

oozzielionel said...

Semantic games being played here: "species member" vs "living human"; "characteristics that endow it with a right to life" - echos of the Declaration of Independence?; "have not experienced anything" vs responding to mother's voice; "career of a biological entity" - babies are required to be hired to a career??; "experiences or mental occurances" - how are these measured?; "functioning brain" - admits "some biological functioning" - watch out adolescents, you are on the radar!

Victor Reppert said...

Suppose you are irrevesibly comatose and you brain is dead. The series of experiences in your life is over. However, your body lies in bed and has not died, and is going to remain there for nine months before finally expiring. Could someone now end your life, or not.

bmiller said...

Intentionally killing an innocent human being has historically been called murder.

It's a fantasy to claim someone's brain is "dead" yet he is alive.

bmiller said...

Democrats- believe that even though a black human is species member, it lacks those characteristics that endow it with a right to life. (circa 1860)

The basic ideology that some humans are more human than others never seems to have left a certain political party.

Victor Reppert said...

Of course, if you buy the doctrine of original sin, there are no innocent human beings.

Martin said...

>The basic ideology that some humans are more human than others never seems to have left a certain political party.

Yeah, the rightwing party. Which is what Democrats were in 1860. As opposed to the leftwing party, which is what Republicans were in 1860.

Right: wants to keep existing social hierarchies.

Left: wants to tear down existing social hierarchies.

bmiller said...

Now we're getting somewhere.

Leftists believe there are no innocents so it's justifiable to kill anyone they want.

Martin said...

False.

Leftists believe:

A) it is unlikely that a free market can guarantee a truly free, stable society
B) it is likely that government intervention in the economy can be at least somewhat helpful in a democracy (where it's accountable to the people), as opposed to in a monarchy (where it's accountable only to the monarch)
C) it is likely that a free market only leads to an increasing wealth gap, and hence more and more economic and political power concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires

Or, to put it shortly, leftists believe that the current social hierarchy is artificial and should be disrupted.

There is nothing in leftist philosophy about innocence or the justification to kill anyone. As Victor pointed out, the first part of that seems to be a Christian thing: Original Sin = no innocents.

Although...hmmm...since one of the central messages of Christ was to invert the social hierarchy ("The last shall be first and the first last."), then Christ was certainly a leftist, and I guess that makes Original Sin a leftist philosophy!

bmiller said...

Martin,

Both you and Victor are seeking to justify the intentional killing innocent human beings (aka abortion).

So not false.

One Brow said...

bmiller,
Leftists believe there are no innocents ...

"No distinction is made: all have sinned and lack God's glory,"
Romans 3:23, NJB

Paul believes there are no innocents.

... so it's justifiable to kill anyone they want.

Some leftists, some rightists, some libertarians, some statists, some of every group think this.

Martin said...

Ok, so that's a separate issue from the philosophy of leftism, then. One could seek to justify the intentional killing of innocent human beings and yet still defend the social hierarchy, and vice versa.

The "intentional killing" of innocent human beings, for me, is justified for the following reasons:

1) moral argument: fetuses and embryos are not persons, and do not carry the same moral weight
2) pragmatic argument: women unable to get certain drugs for legitimate healthcare reasons, doctors telling women they have to wait until they are closer to death before they can stop problematic pregnancies
3) popular argument: most people agree that killing a person is morally wrong; most people do not agree that stopping the development of an embryo/fetus is morally wrong

#2 would probably carry the most weight for me.

bmiller said...

Yes if you're not a Christian and not a devil worshipper you're probably a utilitarian of some sort. It seems that mainline protestants have abandoned Christian ethics to utilitarianism.

Blacks were not considered "persons" in the Ante-Bellum South by Democrats just like Democrats of today don't consider the unborn "persons". Yet they were and are regardless of what you or anyone else thinks....even if that includes "most people".

Pragmatically killing the unborn is pragmatic only for the killer and begs the question of the full humanity of the unborn. Just like it may have been more "pragmatic" to split up slave families when the master sold them off.

bmiller said...

Of course, if you buy the doctrine of original sin, there are no innocent human beings.

I'm guessing Victor doesn't "buy" the doctrine. But I'm also guessing that he thinks there is no Hell for any sinner to end up in anyway other than to find oneself in MAGA country.

I think Victor feels more at home with his atheist leftist ideology than Christian ideology. I wonder why he still pays lip service to C.S. Lewis.

Martin said...

Well, I'm not a utilitarian. I'm likely more of a virtue ethicist. But that doesn't mean there can't be individual situations in which a more pragmatic outcome is favored. And the horrible side effects of abortion bans is obvious, and they do nothing to stop abortions; they just move them to the back alley.

>Yet they were and are regardless of what you or anyone else thinks

That's the central question, though, and I don't think it's at all clear. Just like you can declare that embryos are persons, I can declare that they are not. So: they are not, regardless of what you or anyone else thinks.

And the fact that various religions vary so widely on this topic shows that it isn't at all settled, unlike other things such as the murder of adults.

bmiller said...

Martin,

Favoring "pragmatic outcomes" just is utilitarianism and is not virtue ethics. And you're wrong that legally restricting abortions reduces abortions...as demonstrated in every country that has changed it's laws (and in every state that has legally restricted it).

You know that argumentum ad populum is a fallacy right? Would you think it unclear that black people are just as human as other humans if most slave owners thought they weren't?

You're right about the central question though. That's why your argument that legally allowing the killing the unborn will make it safer for the killer (no "backstreet abortion"), which already assumes the less-than-human status of the unborn, is merely begging the question. You need to make the argument why the unborn are a different kind of thing than other humans that you disapprove of killing.

All humans become alive as an individual at a certain point in time and pass away from life at a certain point. Aristotle thought that sperm worked on menstrual blood over the course of weeks until it finally ceased to exist and a new human being came into existence as a result of that process. We've known since the 1800's that Aristotle was wrong and that the sperm and egg unite at conception and that both cease to exist as such and a new human being comes into existence. So we now have a better understanding of the beginning point of your life and mine. We know that a new unique human life begins at conception and stays in existence as the same entity until death.

Except that now, you and I are in a different position than we were then. Then we had to rely on the kindness and love of others to survive. Now we have the power to let others live or to kill them. You think it's "pragmatic" to allow these people to be killed now that you are past the danger of people like you. You're unwilling to do for others what your mother did for you and allow them to live.

bmiller said...

Should have been:
And you're wrong that legally restricting abortions doesn't reduce abortions..

bmiller said...

So compassionate liberals on Martha’s Vineyard put 50 migrants into military custody within 24 hours of their arrival rather than welcoming them into their community.

That's all you have to know about liberals. Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

Are you saying that the migrants were better off all staying in a single church on Martha's vineyard instead of staying in private dormitory rooms of various sizes on the AFB? That the migrants wanted to stay in the church? Either seems odd.

bmiller said...

https://twitter.com/Cernovich/status/1570891293202718720?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

bmiller said...

https://twitter.com/Cernovich/status/1570892127428804608?cxt=HHwWgIDQvaSE98wrAAAA

Martin said...

Looks like DeSantis and Friends lied to them about what they would find on Martha's Vineyard (jobs and housing), but they were still welcomed by Martha's Vineyard residents, until they were able to get individual rooms on a military base. Immigration agents also gave false addresses on the immigrants' paperwork and gave them until Monday to fly to such disparate places as Tacoma and San Antonio to fix them, apparently in order to turn these immigrants, attempting to follow the proper procedures, into illegal immigrants.

Cons are now purposely using human beings to create humanitarian disasters in order to rile up their base so they can get voted back into power.

That's all you need to know about cons. Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do.

https://twitter.com/Sky_Lee_1/status/1570789631570096128

bmiller said...

MSNBC lies now according to leftists.

Welcome aboard!

bmiller said...

Don't know about anyone else, but if crashed the border of a country I'd rather live in free housing in the wealthiest community in that country, especially if they claim to welcome me rather than a military Barack.

Funny how the occupy Wall Street crowd now carries water for the rich.

bmiller said...

In my view the lack of a developed brain is a morally relevant difference even if you believe, as I do, that abortion inflicts a significant loss and requires a high standard of justification.

I wonder what sin is being committed if this unspecified high standard of justification is not met.

It can't be homicide, justified or not, because the victim of homicide is assumed to be a someone to begin with. What exactly is this "thing" that it is a sin to destroy without sufficient reason when that reason 95% of the time is that the mother will be inconvenienced.

Unknown said...

bmiller,
Don't know about anyone else, but if crashed the border of a country I'd rather live in free housing in the wealthiest community in that country, especially if they claim to welcome me rather than a military Barack.

They weren't in housing. They were in a church shelter. When people stay in places like that indefinitely, they are considered homeless.

bmiller said...

If the existing thing before it has "experiences" has no right to life, then I don't understand what sin is being committed by taking it's life or even cutting parts of it out for things like organ transplants.

In fact, it would be a positive good to produce these things and harvest their parts to prolong the life of "persons" who do have a positive right to life. Wouldn't it be a sin to keep these parts from a suffering person?

bmiller said...

Socially responsible Martha's Vineyard responds to population crisis

bmiller said...

Why does the Biden FBI like to SWAT harmless people rather than calmly take them into custody?

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Martin said...

That headline seems to misspell "the Trump FBI."