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August 19, 2011

Comments

Good article. I think we play semantics with this issue. We refuse to call it what it actually is, so it does not seem as bad. But no matter what we call it, it is what it is.

I wrote on this same issue at http://www.studyyourbibleonline.com/random

This is a very interesting observation. But I guess it shouldn't surprise us since many in the pro-choice camp openly admit that the value of the unborn is up to the mother. If she values it and wants to keep it, then to her it is a child. But if it's an intrusion, and she doesn't want to keep it, then to her it's just a fetus. After all, in the majority opinion of Roe v. Wade, Blackmun said women have the right to define their own concept of existence and the meaning of human life. It seems to be part of the pro-choice position that whether the unborn are children or fetuses is subjective, and the mother gets to decide. Part of the "choice" in "pro-choice" is the choice of how to regard the unborn and whether to ascribe value to it.

Sam,
Women can have the right to define their own concept of existence and meaning of human life, but do they have the right to define the same for someone else (the fetus/unborn-child)? Isn't that the central issue? No one in their right mind would give the same woman who aborts a baby the same right to kill her 3 year old. Right?

That is why the pro-choice position is a horrendously bankrupt one.

Wow Amy. Kudos for a thought-provoking post! Excellent point and one to remember in future discussions on this topic!

It almost (key word) makes you want to stage a situation where Baby A is aborted and Baby B is killed by the doctor without the consent of the mother - during the same procedure - just to demonstrate how messed up the law is.

To drive home the point, just before the verdict is reached the mother would turn to the judge and say, "Now that I think about it, I don't really remember which baby I wanted to keep. Does it matter, judge?".

It could be staged without actually killing a baby if everyone involved agreed to do it for the sake of making a point. I wonder what the penalty would be for doing such a thing? Probably would have to pay for the time the court wasted on the case and maybe something for lying under oath.

Manipulating language is really the key.
We all know what Feticide is, right?
>The deliberate or incidental killing of a fetus due to a CRIMINAL human act<
Know let us look what fetal "reduction" is called in german:
Fetozid!
They use our language for a criminal act for the same thing. And I believe it is a more realistic term.
Doesn't this really remind us of selective "breeding", of picking the "best", "strongest", from a litter?
Let's pick a puppy, sorry "Baby" ,that suits us best?

>> "You can try to hide what abortion is from yourself by manipulating language as much as you want..."

It's not so much the "language" as it is a discussion of the Philosophy of Biology and natural kinds. As I debated Josh Brahm here.

While ToNy's off trying to figure out definitions of 'living', 'idea of a species designation', 'natural kinds', 'human', and other aspects of the "language", consider the following: we all belong to a group that has been given the right to life.

We all were formed from the biological seed of our parents, who were also members of that group.

None of us was ever an egg.

None of us was ever a sperm.

We were all, at one point, a child, a baby, a fetus, an embryo.

The other day I mentioned to a friend and co-worker that I'd seen a nice sunrise on the way to work.

Immediately, he invited me to stop for dinner at his house on the way home.

We ended up talking half the night about what's true. I was stubborn. He was kind, patient, and loving. But, again and again, he showed me what my use of the term sunrise meant about my true beliefs.

In the end, at 2:47 AM on August 17, 2011 I joined the Flat Earth Society.

RonH

Here's a link - in case sunrises bother you..

http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/

RonH had to work hard to find one more wrong belief to hold to. Well done.

RonH, congratulations! I'm so glad you've finally come around to understanding the evidence as it appears on the surface! (Or shall I say as it appears from the surface?)

Hi Daron and Jesse,

Everybody uses language inconsistently.

You can't show a position is wrong by finding someone who speaks about that position inconsistently.

More generally, you can't defeat a position by defeating a bad argument.

One thing you can get by defeating a bad argument: a false degree of confidence.

RonH

You can't tie your shoe by unbuckling your belt, either.

I agree--it's not convincing to argue against a position by defeating a bad argument in favor of that position. Would you mind showing us which bad argument we have defeated here?

On second thought, if we cannot be allowed to defeat bad arguments, then how can we defeat an incorrect idea?

In favor of a truly incorrect idea, there can be no truly good arguments. We are then left with not a single good argument to defeat. So even though we are trying to defeat an incorrect position, all of our efforts would be spent defeating bad arguments. This, you say, we are not allowed to do.

Where does that leave us?

@ToNy
...not so much about language?
Almost your entire argument in your Sermon that you called "debate" was about language definition. What are you talking about?
Let's make this simple:
Are you a human?
Yes or no?
Is your life protected by the law?
Yes or no?
When does a human life start to receive the status, "worth protecting"?
You can kill ToNy in the first three month of his life?
Maybe in the next 5 or 6, if his mom can't stand him or because he turns out to be a girl, we found the "homosexual gene" in him or just a cleft palate ...?
What makes ToNys life worth protecting in any case but in the first part of his life it can be terminated for basically any reason?
Why can we kill ToNy the Fetus, but not ToNy the Baby or ToNy the Toddler?
....I'm just glad, that your parents had a different opinion about the worth of ToNys life during his antenatal development than you do ....

In answer to volker, we have the following options, depending on your point of view.

(From ToNy's expressed perspective) We haven't defined 'human', and haven't provided a quantitative measure of how many DNA mutations away from the Human Genome Project one can possess and still be called human. So I don't know if ToNy actually qualifies as human being.

(From an evolutionary perspective) I only feel that ToNy's life should be protected because I'm programmed to feel bad about killing something that shares common DNA with me. It's not actually wrong to murder, but evolution has tricked me into thinking it's wrong to murder, therefore it is wrong to murder. Ok, but really, it wouldn't be wrong. The truth is society punishes murderers, so I will not murder because it would have unpleasant consequences for me.

(The Christian perspective, which I hold) ToNy's life is valuable and worth protecting at all stages of development, for he was endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these is the right to life.

@Jesse
...thank you for your answer.:-)

..just one comment.
I would call your last perspective, which I hold as well, a humane perspective, in order to be more inclusive.
It should be understandable common sense for everybody and not just exclusive to christians. To kill an unborn child is not only unchristian, it must become an inhumane atrocity to everybody. As long as slavery was just an inhumane atrocity to a handful of Quakers and other "religious nuts", it was tolerated as an acceptable choice, not much different than abortion. Today it is considered an inhumane atrocity to almost everybody. The same must happen with abortion.

voker-- True, it's not just a 'Christian' perspective. I think everyone knows it intuitively; that's why Thomas Jefferson described it as "self-evident."

Jesse,

A good argument is an argument that is either valid or strong, and with plausible premises that are true, do not beg the question, and are relevant to the conclusion.

That's one definition anyway.

I'd differ and say the premises have to be what this site calls acceptible but not that they have to be (known to be) true.

I'd say also that besides not begging the question a good argument should not contain other demonstrable fallacies - like equivocation.

By that definition, one certainly could make a good argument for 'truly incorrect idea'. Debates often have good arguments on both (incompatible) sides.

A bad argument, then, is not good: it's invalid or it contains either a doubtful premise or fallacy.

Do you still prefer the definition: being wrong automatically makes an argument bad?

I consciously did not prohibit anyone from defeating bad arguments. Instead, I pointed out a limit and I pointed out a danger.

The danger (a false degree of confidence) is found above - starting with the original post. That is my opinion.

RonH

Thank you for the detailed clarification, and the useful links.

Under this definition, it seems that good arguments for falsehoods can be made if and only if incorrect premises are believed to be 'acceptable'.

So if we take a good argument for a falsehood, and carefully look at the premises, we would eventually find at least one of them to be false. This analysis reveals the 'good' argument is actually a bad argument, and we're back at this: there can really be no good arguments for false ideas.

Setting that aside, what's your point? Where has Amy erred in the original post?

Jesse,

Yup, a good argument can go bad.

In 1862 Kelvin made a good argument that the Earth's surface was too warm for it to be more than 400 million years old. The argument went bad in 1896 with the discovery of radioactivity - a significant source of heat.

But the expiration date for some arguments might be very far off or even reachable. As a practical matter, if we are to argue we do so with some uncertainty.

I see a false confidence in "This bifurcated mindset permeates pro-choice thinking." Catching someone on the other side in linguistic inconsistency (or in a scandal) could help your side politically doesn't make your side right.

I take it that Amy aims to be right. But as my sunrise example shows, we all engage in bifurcated thinking.

RonH


Having eyes they will not see.

Catching someone on the other side in linguistic inconsistency (or in a scandal) could help your side politically doesn't make your side right.
This still has nothing to do with the OP.

It's not too hard to see that those who hold to a pro-choice view consistently refer to wanted prenates as babies, children, etc., while they refer to unwanted prenates as fetuses, embryos, clumps of cells, etc.

Hi RonH, you now have a lot to say about valid argumentation and the necessity to have valid premises, that's good. I hope now you wont find it too inconvenient for us to demand a grounding, or ultimate proposition as a starting point.

"A bad argument, then, is not good: it's invalid or it contains either a doubtful premise or fallacy."

For this reason, it is necessary to question presuppositons and to demand self attesting or ultimate propositions. This is the bane of the atheist in argumentation unless they devlolve to complete skepticism in order to stay logical. Which do you prefer?

Brad B,

Your demand is no inconvenience at all.

I don't believe in "self attesting" or "ultimate propositions".

I trust my senses and my reason because the seem reliable.

RonH


Self-attesting statements also seem reliable, e.g. true is true and true is not false.

Back to your complaint though-- what's wrong with Amy's original post?

Jesse

>> "We all were formed from the biological seed of our parents, who were also members of that group. None of us was ever an egg. None of us was ever a sperm."

you merely stated your opinion, but didn't provide any justification.

My opinion is discussed here with Josh Brahm.

volker,

>> "Why can we kill ToNy the Fetus, but not ToNy the Baby or ToNy the Toddler?"

The question you could ask that is sometimes helpful in understanding the Philosophy of Biology is:

"Why can't we kill volker the ovum?"

You can re-read here or here too.

Jesse,

>> "(The Christian perspective, which I hold) ToNy's life is valuable and worth protecting at all stages of development."

You actually don't believe this.

For you do not think I was valuable seconds before fertilization. The same carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen were in proximity (in the sperm and the egg) moments before Jesse assigns the construct value.

Yet, in Jesse's opinion, these constructs had no value at that stage of development.

I merely ask: What gives you the prerogative to deem which material constructs in the world count as "the set of all homo sapiens sapiens"?

Hi Jesse

Tony doesn't really exist.

Just remember not to let things that don't exist take too much of your time.

Later,
Todd

You go ToNy. Chirstian shouldn't shrink back from our only authority that tells us that mankind are different from the rest of the creation.

RonH, you cant be serious:

"I don't believe in "self attesting" or "ultimate propositions"."

This means that you dont believe in the law of identity, non contradiction, or other self attesting laws of logic.

Todd,

>> "Tony doesn't really exist. Just remember not to let things that don't exist take too much of your time."

The question in dispute here is not "does a natural kind exist?"

Rather, it is: "Whos ruleset shall we use to determine which material constructs to value?"

Can I use my rules or do I have to use yours?

I am confused. I have a background in science and engineering. Things either are something or they are not something. That is why scientists and engineers are so careful when defining terms. We want to be absolutely clear about what we are talking about.

Apologizing in advance if I offend anyone, but from a purely scientific point of view ( and I assume from a scientific materialist point of view) does it really matter what someone "feels" it is? I'm sure that I could find references to mothers who don't treat born children as human.

The question, if there is an unknown, is whether you want to side on caution regarding human life?

Brad,

This, as usual is off topic.

But, you insist. So ok let's go.

What's the law of identity?

Or, if you prefer: What's non-contradiction?

One at a time, please - your choice.

(Yes, I do know the answers. But I want it from you.)

RonH

Trent makes a really good point. When it comes to protecting human life, we should err on the side of caution if there is any question or disagreement.

Suppose a fireman exits a building that is sure to collapse, and the captain asks him, "is everybody out?" He answers:

"I think so. Well, I saw something that might be human, I'm just not sure. So I just left it there."

How would the captain react?

Captain ToNy: "Well, who's definition of human are you using? Maybe we should go in there, get a sample, and then sequence the DNA to see how much it differs from the Human Genome project standard, and then have a debate about how much this DNA can differ before it counts as 'not human' and then..."

Captain anybody-else: "You weren't sure, and you just left it to die?!"

Trent,

If I were the captain, I would weigh (or judge or deliberate over) the chances of harm coming to someone who might be in the building with the chances of harm coming my firefighter whose presence in the building I have control over.

You neglected the risk to the firefighter. The firefighter's interests have an analog in the abortion debate: the interests of the woman.

RonH

Jesse,

>> "When it comes to protecting human life, we should err on the side of caution"

You're probably right. Hence, we should draw the point at which human life begins at the ovum stage. Not the zygote stage.

Just to be safe.

Trent,

>> "I am confused. I have a background in science and engineering. Things either are something or they are not something. That is why scientists and engineers are so careful when defining terms. We want to be absolutely clear about what we are talking about."

As discussed here, go and look for the one true objective definition of human.

Tell me when you find it.

Where is it?

In the basement of the Berkeley Library?

On the back of the bible?

On the Rosetta stone?

Where?

Using science, how much may a given genome vary from Trent's genome, before Trent claims that said genome is no longer human.

Give me a number.

1) ToNy is and always has been a human being. (I know, this is really a stretch here.)

2a) ToNy was never an ovum.
3a) Therefore an ovum is not a human being.

2b) ToNy was, at one point, a zygote.
3b) Therefore a zygote is a human being.

You may dismiss that as just my opinion, but everyone else here knows that ova don't magically grow up into human beings. This is not difficult.

You did read the entire thing, right ToNy? I think the position is pure sophistry unless you are actually claiming that humans often give birth to nonhumans. Otherwise, we could make the claim that children born with genetic problems are not human and it is OK to kill them. I make an assumption that a human father and a human mother produce human children, so why would I ask I'd their DNA was close enough to their parents to be considered
human?


RonH, what if there is no additional risk to the firefighter but they simply didn't feel it was worth his time to check it out?

RonH, you're right; I did leave out the risk to the firefighter.

The firefighter analogy can only go so far. The firefighter is already going above and beyond what is required of any person, putting his life on the line for other people. But we don't think of parenting like that. Are parents going above and beyond what's required of them by feeding their children and keeping their children alive?

Oops, I meant to ask RonH if parents are fooled by evolution: Are they fooled into thinking they're doing the right thing by keeping their children alive?

By keeping their children alive, parents would propagate their DNA to the next generation. So parents who actually care about propagating their DNA have an advantage in natural selection. What about parents who don't have the genetic gumption to care? Why on earth should we force them to care with child negligence laws? That would only artificially promote the propagation of faulty inherited material (DNA, social factors, etc.) So actually, abortion at any stage (prenate, neonate, baby, child) makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective.

Trent,

I don't see why we should posit no risk to the firefighter. This risk is analogous to the interests of the woman seeking the abortion.

It belongs in the analogy.

RonH

While worrying about the fireman's safety don't forget the risk he takes just standing there allowing the potential human to die:
http://afterabortion.org/2000/abortion-four-times-deadlier-than-childbirth/

Way to go RonH, ignoring the limitations of the analogy that I pointed out. But anyone reading these discussions can see all the good arguments which you have simply ignored.

Here is my last (admittedly not charitable) thought for this discussion thread: To believe that there are good arguments for falsehoods must be very convenient for a skeptic. That way, any good argument for an uncomfortable or inconvenient conclusion can be ignored.

RonH, I said no additional risk.

The fireman analogy is only valid if the mother risks death by having the child.

If there is no risk of death, but merely aversion to raising the child or use of adoption, this is a different situation. Aborting one of a set of twins or triplets, because it is more children than the mother "feels" comfortable with brings back the original question. If all the fetuses are identical, how can one be a child and the others just a tissue mass?

My position is, if in doubt, act to preserve human life. Letting a life end because of convenience or to promote one's personal goal would not be tolerated in other situations. How would we judge a mother who killed her toddler because her boyfriend doesn't like children?

"only valid if the mother risks death"

That's just wrong. In analogies, one thing stands for another.


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