« Speaking for God - Judging Nations | Main | How Robertson Was Right »

January 14, 2010

Comments

Car accidents, smoking, and war are also big time killers. What are you doing about those takers of life? Who are you debating?

Do you have a point, Jacob? Because Alan is specializing in one area, you're disqualifying him because he isn't specializing in all areas?

For example, RonH’s objections on this blog, would fall into category #2.

Great post.

I don't suppose there is audio or video available from the event, is there?. That would be a great educational lesson...to see your two-step in action

Hi Jacob,

Are you sincere in your question? If one were against war and smoking, would you then ask them what they were doing about abortion? Also, does it follow that one has to take up, individually, every cause?

Would you demand a war protester to go down the street later and join MADD?

Read Greg's article on "Raising the Bar." He covers this tactic.

Well done, Alan.

Unfortunately very few people in academia are willing to listen to logic and reason.

Yes, I am being serious. And I agree, no one has to take up any cause in particular. But it just seems to me that the logic of your statement, while pertaining to abortion in particular, could be pushed and applied elsewhere. Yet, you don't, do you? Matter of fact, how many regular readers of this blog are concerned with life or death issues outside of abortion? What issues might they be? Why so much focus on one particular issue when so many warrant your attention based on the logic of your claims?

Because you mentioned logic a few times in your post, I think you might be interested to look up the ad hominem fallacy. Everything you've said has been about the speaker, or their motives, not the case presented above.

As it happens, you're still wrong on strictly a factual level. I would wager a guess that most readers are against other life and death issues like murder of children, murder of adults and more. Furthermore, if you check the blog archives you'll find other critical posts on topics like ESCR, cloning, euthanasia, etc.

Even if none of that were true and the authors and readers of this blog ONLY cared about the unborn killed through abortion, nothing follows about the validity of the argument put forth above. But even so, that's not even the case.

In simpler terms, yes, the logic of Alan's case can be applied elsewhere. It's wrong to murder people other than unborn babies. You caught him.

It appears that Jacob is not willing to listen to logic and reason either.

Jacob: the answer is simple - 50 million human beings have been murdered since the enshrinement of Roe v. Wade in our legal system. Casualties of war, smoking and auto accidents in the same time period aren't anywhere near that number. Don't get me wrong: every human life if precious. What we're debating is where to channel one's limited time and resources. The answer is obvious, given the quantity of victims and their inability to defend themselves (soldiers have guns, smokers can quit, etc., what can our unborn brothers and sisters do to stop abortion???).

Having no interests in a matter is hardly an 'arbitrary characteristic' when it comes to deciding whose interests are to be weighed in deciding that matter.

Lacking the capacity to have interests means having no interests in any matter.

A 5 day embryo has no capacity to have interests. So it can have no interest in any matter.

It's not a matter of 'level of development'. The interest-having capacity is not just less developed in a 5 day embryo; it's totally lacking.

RonH

"Having no interests in a matter is hardly an 'arbitrary characteristic'"

How did you come to that conclusion?

And what exactly do you mean by "interest?"

And why do you continually refer to a 5 day embryo? Is that the cutoff point for ESCR?

Ron, what you really mean by "interest" is "self-awareness," since any human being has an "interest" in remaining alive and continuing to develop to maturity since it's better to do so than to not--whether he or she is yet aware of this fact. Awareness has no bearing on whether a situation is in the best interest of that being and his or her future.

"Awareness" is harder to defend, but you shouldn't try to hide it behind "interest." I don't buy for one second that you can't say the death of a human being is not in his or her best interest.

RonH wrote:

Having no interests in a matter is hardly an 'arbitrary characteristic' when it comes to deciding whose interests are to be weighed in deciding that matter.

You're playing a bit fast and loose with terms, here; if I didn't know better, I'd think you were making a pun as a joke!

First: who, besides you, was using the term "interests" at all? That smells uncannily like a red herring, since I don't find it in the original post at all...

Second: Even if someone else had used the word "interest", that doesn't give you license to equivocate the various definitions of the word, willy-nilly. "Interest" can be a description of an emotion ("I'm interested in what you have to say!"), or of a legal status ("My client has a vested interest in the outcome of this case."), or even of a return on one's investment ("That bank only pays 1.5% interest!")... and you seem to be blurring #1 and #2, above. Otherwise, your position would require that I lose any "vested interest" in a legal or business outcome, whenever I fall asleep, or get distracted by something else!

A 5 day embryo has no capacity to have interests. So it can have no interest in any matter.

You seem to be saying that, if a person isn't "interested" (at any given moment) in their life (or any of its attendant circumstances), then they have no right to life. Do you really mean to argue that? It's rather bizarre, on its face...

Case in point: do you lose the right to life during the hours when you sleep? Am I morally free to slit someone's throat when they take a nap, on the grounds that they can't have any "interest" in their life, per se?

It's not a matter of 'level of development'. The interest-having capacity is not just less developed in a 5 day embryo; it's totally lacking.

I gather that you're a materialist (and also a non-theist)? Your argument (which is already faulty for reasons mentioned above) rests on the assumption that "functioning brain" = "precondition for personality", thereby denying the existence of a soul. True?

Jacob:

The reason abortion seems to attract more concern than other life issues is really a matter of statistical magnitude. 3,300 aborted every DAY in the US. You can't say that about war, drunk driving, death penalty all rolled together. Heck, you could probably throw cancer in too and you wouldn't exceed the number of human lives lost every day to abortion.

I can't say I follow Jacobs reasoning, but Paladin I'm curious are you interesting in saving a "human being" or a soul? I'm admittedly mildly confused the last line of your last statement. Just jumping in due to some curiousity.

I just read my post and humbly apologize for me stupid typos

Sorry, I'm a little scatter-brained sometimes. What's the Christian stance on birth control?

Jacob, while the blogger takes care of the abortion issue, why don't YOU take care of the "car accidents, smoking, and war"?

Jacob:
Do you ask veterinarians why they aren't also saving human beings?
Do you ask schoolteachers why they aren't also teaching homeless children?
Do you ask mothers why they aren't adopting children?
The blogger will work on the issue important to him, and you work on issues important to YOU.
No one man can work on everything.

Hi, Kim,

You wrote:

I can't say I follow Jacobs reasoning, but Paladin I'm curious are you interesting in saving a "human being" or a soul? I'm admittedly mildly confused the last line of your last statement.

I assume you mean this?

I gather that you're a materialist (and also a non-theist)? Your argument (which is already faulty for reasons mentioned above) rests on the assumption that "functioning brain" = "precondition for personality", thereby denying the existence of a soul.

I was referring to the fact that Jacob, who claimed that a fetus of very early ages can't have any "interest" in anything (and I already addressed his careless use of the term), apparently thinks that a functioning brain is necessary for personality, thought, and "interest"; and he therefore probably doesn't believe in a non-material, rational soul (i.e. a spiritual center of personhood, not dependent on a physical body, brain, etc.). If a fetus is truly a soul-body union, then the fetus--though its ability to think, etc., is temporarily tied to the functionality of the body, isn't *intrinsically* incapable of personality, thought, etc. As soon as the body separates from the soul (a.k.a. physical death), the soul would then be free to operate without being impaired by bodily limitations (such as lack of sufficient brain development).

Does that help?

As to "whom I'd like to save, a human person or a soul", they amount to the same thing, ultimately. A human person is the union of body and soul, though the "seat" of personality is the soul (which can function alone, though it's not meant to do so intrinsically).

Kim wrote:

Sorry, I'm a little scatter-brained sometimes. What's the Christian stance on birth control?

It's all over the map, I'm afraid, due to the thousands of different denominations which have split off and formed their own ideas on the subject. You'd have to specify which group of Christians you mean, in order for me to try and answer. (I'm Catholic, if that helps.)

hi- you wrote
Jacob:
Do you ask veterinarians why they aren't also saving human beings?
Do you ask schoolteachers why they aren't also teaching homeless children?
Do you ask mothers why they aren't adopting children?
The blogger will work on the issue important to him, and you work on issues important to YOU.
No one man can work on everything


Didn't Jesus work on everything when he was flesh and bone?

LOL sorry. I just had to tease.

Jacob, you seem a little intense on here; is that just your blogging or are you this way all the time?

Yes Paladin it cleared things up.
Thank you.

Kim,
Until the Anglican Lambeth Conference in 1930, every Christian group and denomination consistently taught that the use of contraception was immoral. The Lambeth Conference in 1930 allowed it in certain circumstances, which opened the door to its widespread acceptance by Christians. It is condemned in the Didache and almost unanimously by the Church Fathers. While there are still many Christians who maintain this view, the vast majority (with the exception of the RCC and Orthodox) permit the use of contraception, although some will (rightly) contend that some hormonal forms of "birth control" are actually abortifacients.

But, as Paladin said...it's all over the map. For the Roman Catholic reasons, read *Humanae Vitae*. It's relatively short and not terribly difficult to read. There are also good resources available such as Dr. Janet Smith's talk "Contraception: Why Not", which is available for free here:
http://onemoresoul.com/

In the OT church, they were severely chastised for not defending the weak/innocent/orphan and widows or other infirmed men and women. So when Jacob wants to know why Christians are so focused on the protection of the defenseless, it points to the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ reflects that particular aspect of our great One and only God. If it were not so, Jacob might've had a point, but as it is, I say "well done Christians".

Lumbergh,


"Having no interests in a matter is hardly an 'arbitrary characteristic'"
How did you come to that conclusion?

I’m not sure what you're asking since you quoted half a sentence. What I actually said is more a tautology than a conclusion:

Having no interests in a matter is hardly an 'arbitrary characteristic' when it comes to deciding whose interests are to be weighed in deciding that matter.

Neighbors are allowed to speak at zoning meetings. City residents are allowed to speak in city coucil meetings. You need 'standing' to bring a law suit. Etc.

I'm using to the meaning of 'interest' captured by this definition (found on the web): "involved in or affected by or having a claim to or share in". The 'involved' and 'affected' parts aren't really sufficient - they could apply to inanimate objects, even. The 'stake' and 'claim' parts are better.

I refer to a 5-day embryo in order to stay well away from the point in a pregnancy were the capacity to have interests begins. That is a different topic. And, yes, I think ESCR embryos are at about the 5-day point.

Amy,

I will tell you how I distinguish interests from self-awareness. Tell me where you disagree or, if you like, where I'm going wrong: If you are self-aware then you have interests (unless maybe you are self-aware and somehow totally apathetic about everything). If you feel pain you have an interest. I think you can feel pain without being self-aware, however. So: you can have interests with out being self-aware - they are different things.

The phrase 'best interest' is a different use of the word 'interest' - you are equivocating. At 5-days the embryo has no interests. If it is destroyed at that point it never acquires any. Put it this way: destroying the 5-day embryo destroys potential interests - interests that might have been - not actual ones. It makes sense to consider the interests of future generations (as we do, for example, when we talk about the enviroment and the national debt) because we are thinking of actual interests in that case not potential ones.

Paldin,
I'm talking only using your meaning #2 of 'interest': a stake. While it is true that I won't mind if you kill me in my sleep, that fact can't be used to defend a policy allowing the killing of sleeping persons. Waking persons, myself included, want to live in a world where it is safe to go to sleep. They have an interest in the matter of your policy.

Me? Materialist? So far, I'm unconvinced in anything supernatural but I can't prove there is nothing in that category. I argue against the claims I've heard for such things. That's different from arguing against the things themselves. Do you see? Why do you think there are souls? Why do you think 5-day embryos have them?

RonH

Wish I could have been in the audience at Alan's talk - not so far from here.

RonH

"Waking persons, myself included, want to live in a world where it is safe to go to sleep. They have an interest in the matter of your policy."

But the difficulty is that your reasoning seems to suggest that they lose those interests when they slip into dreamland. All they have is a disposition or potential to have interests in the future if the right conditions are met.

But this is also true of the 5-day old person...he has the disposition or potential to have interests if the right conditions are met. The only difference seems to be what comprises the right conditions.

Ron, I'm using "interest" to mean "having a stake in, a claim to." But you're conflating awareness and interest in a way that is unwarranted. It seems obvious that a human being at the very beginning of her existence has a stake in surviving. In fact, she has everything at stake, and it doesn't matter in the least that she doesn't know it. The objective fact is that she has everything at stake. Though you're tying awareness in with interest, I have no reason to think that awareness is necessary for interest to exist.

For example, say a person is in a coma and has no awareness of what's going on or even of his own existence, but it's known for absolute certain that he will come out of the coma and be quite aware within six months. Does he have an interest in living such that no person has the right to kill him at will? Of course. This is because the interest exists objectively, and not subjectively in his own mind. An interest objectively exists, regardless of his awareness of it.

You have to come up with a good argument that explains why one can only have interests if one currently has awareness because this doesn't seem at all obvious to me--in fact, the example above seems to refute the idea as a principle.

It seems to me that all interests are future-looking. I have an interest in the health care bill because it will affect me in the future. In the same way, embryos have interests because they have futures. A person need not care about his future or be sentient at all in order to have interests. They only have to have the potential of being affected by the future in order to have interests. It seems to me that life itself is the interest of all interests in things here on earth because without life, we could have no future. Embryos have an interest in preserving their lives so they can live them.

But when we talk about "interests," it seems to me we're talking only about instrumental value. I think people have intrinsic value wholly apart from instrumental value. If a person's worthiness of life is proportional to his interests, which is what your view seems to entail, it would follow that killing some people is worse than killing other people just because some people have brighter futures than other people, which strikes me as absurd. So I'm inclined to reject the notion that "interests" have much to do with why killing people is wrong. I think it's wrong to kill people simply because they are valuable human beings. If embryos are human beings, then it's just as wrong to kill them as it is to kill anybody else.

I like what you have to say Sam, and have argued that robbing one of their future existence in life by killing them is no different whether you talk about pre or post uterine human beings at any stage along the life progression.

Your linking interest whether one is currently aware or not as RonH is using it drives this point home all the more.

WL,

Hm... The interests I have before and after sleeping are the same - or nearly so. It makes no more sense to say lose them when I sleep than it makes to say I lose one when I attend to another.

In addition, the waking also have an interests in my situation. In addition. For example, if I can be killed in my sleep so can they. And that scares them.

So it is not necessary to say a 5-day embryo has interests in order to defend the interests of the unconscious.

RonH

Hi RonH,

>>”Yes the embryo dies. But it has no interest in the matter: like, for example, a peanut that dies when you roast it.”

What "interest" does a newborn have that would qualify it to live?

Hi, RonH,

I'll try to get to your comment in a bit (maybe in a few hours?); real life is busy-nutty, at the moment...

"The interests I have before and after sleeping are the same - or nearly so. It makes no more sense to say lose them when I sleep than it makes to say I lose one when I attend to another. "

If interests require awareness of them in order to be interests (your criterion, not mine), then you certainly do lose them when your are asleep. The fact that you get them back later is irrelevant.

If awareness is required for interests, then my interests have a gappy existence...popping in and out along with my awareness of them.

BTW, you also lose your interests when you're thinking about something else, for again, you are not aware of them.

What's going on here, I think, is that you are confusing the knock-down evidence of the possession of an interest with the interest itself. I'll grant you that there could not be much better evidence that you have an interest in X than that you have an acute awareness of X that gives rise to decided rational and informed preferences concerning X. None of that is the same as your interest in X.

When someone or something has an interest in X, X is advantageous for him/it. A plant can have interests, e.g. in having a certain kind of root system. But a plant cannot have awareness or preference regarding its root system.

One can be mistaken about what is in one's interests. One might think that smoking is healthy. One cannot be mistaken about what one is aware of or what one prefers. That's why the latter is only evidence of the former.

"the waking also have an interests in my situation. In addition. For example, if I can be killed in my sleep so can they. And that scares them."

1. They are only scared while they are awake.

2. You are only explaining why people don't kill you while sleeping, not why you maintain some right not to be killed while sleeping.

Finally, a moment!

RonH wrote:

I'm talking only using your meaning #2 of 'interest': a stake. While it is true that I won't mind if you kill me in my sleep, that fact can't be used to defend a policy allowing the killing of sleeping persons. Waking persons, myself included, want to live in a world where it is safe to go to sleep. They have an interest in the matter of your policy.

That might be true; but your definition certainly wouldn't include infants, or any child below the age of reason. Would you say that it's permissible to slit the throats of children in their sleep, so long as it's done quickly, and so long as they can't yet formulate an idea of "liking safety while sleeping"?

Me? Materialist? So far, I'm unconvinced in anything supernatural but I can't prove there is nothing in that category.

Ah. The "soft materialism" stance (e.g. examples of non-material things might exist, but you're "agnostic" about them).

I argue against the claims I've heard for such things. That's different from arguing against the things themselves. Do you see?

Most definitely--and you're quite right: arguing against individual cases (and there's nothing wrong with that) is certainly different from (and far more rational than) arguing against ALL such things, a priori.

Why do you think there are souls? Why do you think 5-day embryos have them?

A soul is the life-principle of a living thing; it's the difference between a living thing and a corpse, if you will. The way I know that a given 5-day-old (or whatever-day-old) human has a soul is that it's not yet dead. By this principle, even rodents and cabbages have "souls", though not rational souls (capable of self-aware thought). That's the short (and incomplete) answer.

Again, that's woefully incomplete, and only a taste. Whole libraries have been written about this topic; so I think I'll just have to defer to your questions, rather than anticipate them (and bore you to death with megabytes of text!) :)

Also to add to WisdomLover's comments regarding the sleep rebuttal by RonH where he said that others are protecting his interest while he sleeps therefore he has interests....well, we in the pro life movement have espressed similar care in the 5 day old embryo therefore, they do have an interest based on RonH logic.

I've always been curious about this and PLEASE don't tear my head off for asking, but how many pro-lifers are working to ease adoptions laws in this country? Or have made a point of adopting themselves? All these children are to be born, but since the highest number of abortions are performed on younger women and teens who will raise them? Again, I'm merely asking a question

Kim,
As I understand it, typically, pro-lifers do adopt more, as well as work harder for adoption reform, usually through Crisis Pregnancy Centres. And also, I believe that there are way more people wanting to adopt than there are children available for adopting.

This is sort of beside the point in the abortion debate, in the sense that even if no pro-lifer ever adopted or even cared about the adoption issue that wouldn't make our arguments against abortion less valid.

Does this answer your question?

Hi Kim,

I can’t speak for pro-lifers in general, but personally, I’m not doing anything to adopt children. I just had my first child 10 weeks ago. That being said, I still advocate fervently for the humanity and the dignity of the unborn.

By the way Kim,

Greg has a great audio clip of a discussion he had with a lady that raises the very question you have here.

It is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdzisJJJ-W0

Matt, your right the argument wouldn't be less valid, but it would be only an argument. Some people get abortions because they really feel they have no other option. And though it may be easy to believe they just hop off the table and walk away; I know having an abortion does affect some women for the rest of their lives. It's not an easy decision to make or live with. So in fighting for the rights of the unborn, perhaps the case would go further with more help on the solution front.

KWM, Congratulation on your new baby. I remember how much I enjoyed my daughter when she was that young. Enjoy the little peanut because they grow faster than you can blink. :-)

KWM, thank's for the vid link I'll be sure to watch it.

Kim,
As I said, CPC's do a lot for women in crisis situations, certainly more than Planned Parenthood and or other abortion providers do.
Something that would actually help women much more, right away, would be, for the government to give as much or more funding to CPC's as it does to abortion mills. Then, government could take the money it gives to organizations such as Planned Parenthood that are found to be not properly informing women of all the factors involved in making their decision, and give that to CPC's as well since they do give women all the info.
This, I believe would go a long, long way to better supporting women through unplanned pregnancies, as well as reducing the numbers of abortions (which is one of many pro-abortion-choicers favourite lines).
And as I said earlier, I think typically it is pro-lifers who do the most to support and inform women. (I'll try to find the stats on that.)

As you may or may not know the main argument of pro-lifers is that in all cases (except to save the life of the mother) abortion unjustly takes the life of an innocent human being. This includes those situations where the decision is arrived at with difficulty, or where the person feels there is no other option. Just because it is a tough decision etc. does not make it right. The right decision is to do the right thing no matter how we feel about it or how hard it is.

Yes, we can (and should) do more to help single mothers or any other mothers considering abortion, but as I said, even if we weren't doing enough or don't do more than we are, that doesn't mean we are wrong that abortion is wrong and should be stopped.

The comments to this entry are closed.