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« A Tale of Four Men | Main | What Exodus 21:22 Says about Abortion »

January 22, 2010

Comments

37 years, no?

I am a huge supporter of ultrasound images being made available to women who are considering an abortion. It makes a very big difference. When women are actually given the freedom to see what it is that are thinking about aborting (call it an "informed choice"), most of them choose against abortion. Which is why the abortion industry is against ultrasounds. Seems that their idea of "choice" means only one option: abortion.

Abortion is not murder. Saying that it is, in the name of protecting "potential people", is as ridiculous as saying that the death of unfertilised eggs or the death of sperm that didn't make it is also somehow murder; you want to give those millions of "potential people" a chance?!

Is a miscarriage murder? Is an ectopic pregnancy murder? Is it sensible to allow someone suffering from pre-eclampsia to die rather than perform the necessary abortion?

As for the poster wishing to present people considering abortions with ultrasounds, would you like rape victims considering abortions to be able to present you with their trauma?

unfertilized eggs and sperm, by themselves, can not develop into a human. They lack the ability to do so without each other, so they are not "potential" humans. I don't think I know anyone who considers them to be. Plus eggs and sperm die everyday as part of natural body processes, natural mind you, because they don't form into people. one their own their function is to come together, only when the egg is fertilized do we have the beginnings of a baby. that's what we protect.

equating miscarriages with murder is unsound. If a man falls from some tall place on accident and dies, is that murder? If it is who is the murderer? If a woman has a miscarriage it does not make her a murderer, because it was something out of her control, but a baby did die. Abortions are firmly within the control of people. They are not accidents. Babies die in either case, but one is an accident and the other is caused, that's why it would be murder.Ectopic pregnancies are not viable, and in those cases it's "either remove the baby, or you both will die." The same is almost true of mothers with pre-eclampsia, though that is more case by case isn't it? That is not the case of regular abortions, where the choice usually is "Either remove the baby or be very inconvenienced."

I don't see what comparing rape to ultrasounds will do. Ultrasounds show that there is a baby, not just this vague "lump of tissue." The rape victim seeing her ultrasound won't change the fact that she was raped and is now pregnant. The baby is also not the cause of her problems, it would be the rapist. The point of showing an ultrasound to her would be to show that it is a baby, who did nothing to her, inside her, and killing it would not change her being raped already.If a raped woman were to show me her trauma and say "this is why I want an abortion," then it seems only FAIR that my response would be to show her her ultrasound and say "this is why you shouldn't."

So having gone through the hell of being raped, this victim now has to raise a child she didn't want, which will always remind her of both her attacker and her attack?

Just a thought: You overturn Roe vs Wade. You have a party. And then the increase in everyone who dies or gets infections at the hands of a back-alley abortionist, everyone who accidently kills themselves with a coathanger and every pregnancy-related suicide loads onto your conscience. Is that a good day?

It's in the Bible to respect the Law of the Land and accept the authority of government. Here's to another 37 years.

JW, it seems as if your heart is hardened and you are unable to discern the truth. The murder of 3,315 preborn babies every day is a national catastrophe. The Psalmist would advise you to: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

May God have mercy on all of our souls.

JW,

One is not justfied in taking the life of a human being just because it will remind one of a traumatic event. If the rape victim had the child and decided later, when the baby was 1 yr old, that she didn't want to be reminded of the attacker and the attack, would she be justified in killing her toddler? Clearly not.

So you see the issue isn't whether or not the mother is reminded of the traumatic event, the question is whether or not the unborn is a human being. If it is, then one is not justified in killing it because it brings up bad memories.

I am traumatized by the fact that more than three thousand of the unborn are killed unjustly everyday, and I am further traumatized when I encounter people making the case for elective abortion. Since you JW are a person in favor of elective abortion rights you are traumatizing me. Would I be justified in killing you? Surely not, because you are created in God's image just like the unborn. I cannot kill you because you cause me to have negative feelings.

Concerning back alley abortions. Any introductory psychology class will teach you that correlation does not mean causation. Just because the number of back alley abortions increases does not mean that we pro-lifers are responsible or should feel guilt on our conscience. Obviously the dangers of back alley abortions are well known and popularized in our media, to the extent that preventing them is used as support for keeping abortions legal. So given the obvious health risks involved why would someone want to take the risk in these supposed "back alleys"? Is anyone forcing the pregant mothers to go through with the proceedure? No. If the unborn is not a human being and merely a lump of tissue then go ahead with the abortion, but can you really make a good positive case that the unborn is merely a lump? I doubt it.

The Biblical principle on government says to accept those things that are consistent with the scripture, and reject those that aren't. What is to be respected is the fact that governments exist because God allows them to. If the law of the land allowed me to kill advocates of abortion, would I be justifed to kill you JW? No, because it is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches, "you shall not murder" Exodus 20:13.

What God says clearly trumps government when the two conflict, observe in the book of Acts " 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,
Act 5:28 saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
Act 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.
Act 5:30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
Act 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Act 5:32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

You see the Bible exhorts us to be orderly law abiding citizens, but to disobey government when it coflicts with what God has revieled.

You're traumatised by the unborn dying, but I'll bet you get disinterested the moment they are here. You want more strain on adoption services? That's what you'll get, yet none of you will be adopting. You want more child neglect due to traumatised mothers being forced to raise children they didn't want? That's what you'll get, and when the kids get out of hand you'll blame "bad parenting" when it'll be "bad parenting" you've caused.

So when God revealed that you should "Judge not lest ye be judged", you disregarded that exhortation WHY?

Read on a bit in Acts, you'll find that they submitted joyfully to a flogging. They didn't resist the flogging since it conflicted with God's revelations, they submitted to it.


Don't JW's attacks on the pro-life postion seem just a little too "perfect" given STR's training materials? Even the dogmatic refusal to confront the real issue - "What is the unborn?"

Maybe JW isn't JW at all. Write "JW" on a piece of paper and turn the paper upside down (alternatively you can turn your monitor upside down). The upside down "JW" looks suspiciously like "MP", doesn't it? Melinda Penner?

No, I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I have been watching season reruns of Magnum, PI.

There's a column on politicsdaily.com about Scott Brown and the pro-life movement that refers to "so-called late-term abortions (which are already barred)." Isn't that wrong? I thought that states could impose certain restrictions on third trimester abortions but not bar them. Help, anyone?

(The author also refers to "moral issues like . . . stem cell research" without distinguishing between research on adult stem cells and research on embryonic stem cells.)

Whether or not I am intersted in being personally involved in the child's life once it is born, has no bearing on whether or not the unborn should be allowed to live, through birth. JW, imagine the following hypothetical situation; your life is being threatened by someone who wants to push scissors into the back of your skull and suction your body apart in order to kill you. Now, if this scenario were real, would I need to promise to take care of you before I could be concerned about whether or not you were harmed. The answer is no. There are plenty of other examples in which we are justified in caring for people and wanting them to be safe from harm without actually doing something to improve their situation directly. Must I meet all the material needs of another human being before I can be outraged at that human being's murder? No. I am outraged and saddened by the murders of the Nazi party, but there is nothing I can do to help those people now. Do I need to be able to provide materially for all of the unborn that might be saved from abortion before I try to convince people not to support abortion? No. JW, you seem concerned that mothers are being forced to do something that they don't want to do, namely raise their undesired children. Do you need to provide for their material needs before you can be concerned for them? No. Whether or not you know how to or are able to directly allieviate suffering you want to see it lessened. So to sum it up I am more concerned with preventing murder than hardship.

Concerning judging not lest I be judged, you have misunderstood the principle. It is a warning against hypocritical judgement, not judgment as such. If you had read further you would see that Mat 7:5 says "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." I would be in trouble if I supported elective abortion and then in the same breath condemned those who also support it (JW). Alas such is not the case and I am innocent of hypocritical judgement. The exhortation is to examine oneself first and make sure one is not commiting the sin. Then we are able to see the "speck" in our brother's eye and help him remove it.

The disciples "submitted" to the beating in so far as there was nothing they could do but take it. Even if they had attempted escape, would that have been wrong or inconsistent with Revelation? Probably not, in fact, Jesus himself is recorded as escaping his pursuers,"John 10:39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands." Notice "again they sought", it wasn't the first time. The disciples suffered to demonstrate their unfailing faithfulness to Jesus. They knew that greater things awaited them after they died Rom. 8:18. Even after their beating the continued to spread the gospel. The flogging wasn't in conflict with revelation, it was consistent with it. In Luke 14:27 and following, Jesus makes it clear that the cost of discipleship is high, and this was something the first century Christians knew very well.

JW,

All your charges are cogently answered on STR's website. If you are truly interested in this issue, then you are wasting your time on the comment thread. Much better to spend your time interacting with the plethora of materials on abortion on this website.

Then again, if you aren't really interested, and all you want to do is have a row over it, go right ahead, but you're gonna find that as you go along with that kind of tone, fewer and fewer are going to listen to you.

>>You want more strain on adoption services? That's what you'll get, yet none of you will be adopting.

The long waiting list is not for babies to find parents, but for parents to find babies.

It's true; people's minds can change. I used to be very much pro-choice.

The pro-life position is so logical .. and true ... but it's hard for anyone to even entertain the possibility that they *might* be wrong about an issue. A truly open mind is open to change, and intellectual honesty demands changing your view when the evidence and arguments have proved your case to be wrong.

You don't find it the least bit traumatic when God's killing babies, do you? When that last Plague of Egypt hit and all the first-born babies were killed you were fine with it! God killing innocent babies just to freak out the Pharoah, that's just fine!

If God had "killed innocent babies just to freak out the Pharaoh," I would agree with you.

What does it mean to say that a fertilized human egg cell is a human being? Common sense would seem to say it is not.

On the other hand, if we're talking about potential, why would we ignore the potential of the individual gametes?

A fertilized human egg is a human being at the earliest stage of development, with distinct DNA that's different from both parents. From that point, we grow and change, but we remain the same organism with the same DNA throughout. A infant is physically different from an adult because it's at an earlier stage of development, the same with a fetus. But all are the type of organism we call a human being.

So we're not talking potential, we're talking actual. It is an actual human being, just very early on.

As refreshing as it is to hear a pro-life argument based on observable facts of biology, it’s a little disconcerting to hear anyone make an ethical claim based on science. It doesn’t seem very likely that the pro-life community, in particular, actually believes the material process of reproduction tells us what is right and what is wrong in this case, or in any other.

It is observably true that, in the normal course of things, a fertilized human egg cell will develop into a fully fledged human being, and that the DNA of that cell carries a combination of genes unique to that human being. But, if you are going to be consistent (and, if you aren’t, then why the scientific pretense?), then you can’t just stop looking whenever you feel like it. After all, it’s also observably true that a single cell has the ethical capacity of a stone. It can’t experience pain, much less the desire to avoid painful outcomes. It’s an undifferentiated cell.

It is also observably true that this cell’s development is intimately, materially tangled up with its mother’s body--a human being, that is to say, who does possess the means to suffer or gain from the outcomes of ethical considerations.

It seems clear to me that your interest in observable facts extends only as far as they appear to support a predetermined position, and no further. This is the opposite of justification--it’s an excuse to stop thinking. Science, consistently applied, doesn’t even give us grounds for the magic moral circle we draw around the human race. Religion did that, for better and for worse.

>>It doesn’t seem very likely that the pro-life community, in particular, actually believes the material process of reproduction tells us what is right and what is wrong in this case, or in any other.

Nobody is claiming it does. We're merely claiming that, scientifically, the organism is what it is (i.e., a human being) from the moment of conception.

>>It is observably true that, in the normal course of things, a fertilized human egg cell will develop into a fully fledged human being

No, won't develop into, it already is. It's just at the earliest stages. It will develop and gain different abilities as it grows, just as a newborn will develop and gain different abilities as it grows into a toddler, and just as a toddler develops and gains new abilities as it becomes a teenager, then an adult. A newborn is a fully fledged human being, just a very young one. It doesn't become a new species just because it's able to walk or able to do anything else. It is what it is already.

>>After all, it’s also observably true that a single cell has the ethical capacity of a stone. It can’t experience pain, much less the desire to avoid painful outcomes. It’s an undifferentiated cell.

That doesn't change the fact that it's a human being (if you're referring to the cell at the beginning of a human being, here).

>>It is also observably true that this cell’s development is intimately, materially tangled up with its mother’s body--a human being, that is to say, who does possess the means to suffer or gain from the outcomes of ethical considerations.

When deciding between competing claims, the life of one person always outweighs the inconvenience or even difficulties of the other. We should help the mother, certainly! That is not in question. But the location of the very small child (i.e., in the womb) doesn't seem to have any moral bearing on whether or not we can kill him. Does our value as human beings change when we move from one location to another? If we're attached to machines that help us live, move, etc.? We can see by looking at the principle in other cases that these things don't seem like they have anything to do with human value.

And just because the very, very young child doesn't possess the means to suffer consciously, it certainly has a great deal to objectively gain from the outcome of living or dying. Just because a human being isn't aware he is being killed, that doesn't change the fact that his whole life is being taken from him--both current and future life. You and I know how much that is for a person to lose.

>>Science, consistently applied, doesn’t even give us grounds for the magic moral circle we draw around the human race.

Again, we're not saying science tells us to value human beings, we're only saying science can show us when a new human being begins to exist.

Do you believe, then, that we should drop the idea of human rights for all human beings? That we should decide who should have rights and who shouldn't based on their characteristics (abilities, skin color, size, whatever)?

We're merely claiming that, scientifically, the organism is what it is (i.e., a human being) from the moment of conception.

Well, no. You're not. As far as I can tell, you’re conflating a material fact (fertilized human egg cells develop into mature human beings) with an ethical conclusion (fertilized human egg cells are owed all the rights and protections of mature human beings). But in any event you’re obviously making a meaningful ethical claim and not a “mere” “scientific” one.

Are you saying that a fertilized egg cell is materially the same as a fully developed animal? This can’t be what you mean, since it’s self-evidently not true. They are observably different material things, easily told apart.

Are you saying that, since the one can develop into the other, the two should be considered the same from an ethical standpoint? This seems more likely, but it’s an ethical claim, and you have yet to present any argument in its favor.

I agree, tentatively, that “the life of one person always outweighs the inconvenience or even difficulties of the other”; and I recognize that you believe a fertilized human egg cell is a “person.” But these are two separate claims, and you certainly haven’t presented any reason for believing the second one. You have, instead, taken that one for granted--but that’s the one that matters.

>>As far as I can tell, you’re conflating a material fact (fertilized human egg cells develop into mature human beings) with an ethical conclusion (fertilized human egg cells are owed all the rights and protections of mature human beings).

Janney, I was answering your initial, material question, "What does it mean to say that a fertilized human egg cell is a human being? Common sense would seem to say it is not." The purpose of my comment was to explain to you that, scientifically, a human being is a human being--of the homo sapiens species--from conception. That's why we call it a human being. Would you agree, then, to this part?

Now you're asking a new question about ethics. The new question is, "Since material realities about a person ought to determine whether or not he or she has rights, how can you say that all human beings should have rights regardless of what they can do and what they look like?"

I'd be happy to go into that question with you. I did touch a bit on an answer to that above, but if this is where your argument is--not whether or not a ten-day-old (or whatever) fetus is a human being, but whether or not at this stage of a human being's life, she ought to have rights--then we should go there.

The unstated assumption of your question is the first part of my summary (i.e., that material realities about a person ought to determine his level of natural rights--life, equal protection under the law, etc.--not privileges like driving). Is there any instance in this society where we believe this to be true? Because it seems like it's just special pleading if you only argue this principle in this instance.

"So having gone through the hell of being raped, this victim now has to raise a child she didn't want, which will always remind her of both her attacker and her attack?"

JW...see my blog entitled "Abortion and Rape,Is Chris Less Valuable?"


The purpose of my comment was to explain to you that, scientifically, a human being is a human being—of the homo sapiens species—from conception.

If, when you say “human being,” you are speaking literally, then this is breathtakingly inane. Yes, no one is ever a member of more than one species. Yes, your DNA is the same for your whole life. Yes, a human being is a human being. I didn’t think you would think I needed that explained to me. It seemed reasonable (it still does!) to assume that, when you said “human being,” you meant it in the larger sense of ethical status.

We appear to agree that a fertilized egg cell is not really the same thing as a mature adult (in the same way that “an infant is physically different from an adult…”). So, again, it made sense to assume that, when you said “It is an actual human being, just very early on,” you didn’t really intend “human being” to refer simply—or only—to its physical form, but to its ethical status.

Perhaps this is where the confusion lies. The writers on this website all seem pretty well convinced that, if you can demonstrate an unbroken biological connection between the acorn and the oak, then you’ve demonstrated that there can be no ethical distinction between the two. Since the unbroken biological connection is a truism, your work is finished. QED.

In other words, you go directly from material observation to ethical conclusion. You don’t connect the dots, because (apparently) you believe they are the same dot.

Among other things, this would mean you do believe that the workings of biological reproduction straightforwardly dictate our ethics, at least in this case (something you previously denied). It also would mean, oddly, that you believe ethical status is dependent on material factors (a charge you seem eager to level at me).

More to the point, it would mean that the conclusion is not based on reason. The ethical equivalence of the acorn and the oak is simply presupposed; you’re invoking the real world in order to prop it up, not in order to think it through. You’re abdicating on the important part: providing an ethical argument to support your ethical conclusion.

>>If, when you say “human being,” you are speaking literally, then this is breathtakingly inane.

You asked the question how they could be human beings. I'm sorry you find the answer inane, but I'm glad you agree that they are human beings.

There is no ethical distinction between an acorn and oak because that category doesn't even apply to plants. However, a human being is the type of being that has natural rights (and not just according to me, but according to the Constitution), regardless of characteristics (sex, age, race, abilities, size, etc.).

Here is my argument: There is no characteristic that we believe is relevant to natural rights--no characteristic that gives or takes away rights. That is, you don't have more rights the taller you are, you don't lose your rights if you're in a coma or on machines to keep you breathing if you're paralyzed, etc. You don't lose your rights if you're a leper and you can't feel pain, a newborn doesn't gain the right to live just because she stops nursing and can walk on her own.

How is it a newborn, a leper, a person in a coma, and a paralyzed person dependent on machines all have as much right to live as a healthy adult? It's because none of these things--ability to feel pain, ability to communicate, size, level of development, cognitive awareness--none of these things has any bearing whatsoever on the granting of rights. There are equal rights for all because they're all human beings. They do not all share the same characteristics, what they share is a human nature--they're members of the homo sapiens species, and that is the kind of being that has rights, and our society recognizes that fact.

So the question to you is, why in this one case of a very young human being still in the womb, does all that go out the window? All of a sudden these arbitrary characteristics are relevant ethical considerations, even though they have no bearing whatsoever on the same ethical decisions regarding those outside the womb? I asked the special pleading question above, but you still haven't explained why only in the case of one group of humans do these characteristics matter, but they matter for no other group.

Or, to be consistent, you're going to have to argue that we should employ the principle of defining some humans in and some humans out based on their characteristics for all human beings outside of the womb as well, and get rid of equal rights for all.

Here is my argument: There is no characteristic that we believe is relevant to natural rights—no characteristic that gives or takes away rights.

First, you are, obviously, basing natural rights on a physical characteristic (species membership). Don’t be shy.

Second, your explanation—the invocation of lepers, the comatose, children—appears to be an attempt to justify the claim that we can’t make an ethical distinction between a fertilized human egg cell and a human being standing (or not) in front of us. It looks a lot like “the fallacy of the beard” that Dr. Klusendorf misapplies in The Case for Life: “just because I cannot say when stubble ends and a beard begins, does not mean I cannot distinguish between a clean-shaven face and a bearded one.”

(And, speaking of analogies, I didn’t just invent that acorn-oak business; I got it from Gregory Koukl’s Fetal Personhood. And, by the way, what a lousy analogy for his purpose. Do you folks really believe we should value an acorn and a mature oak equally?)

It is, in fact, perfectly possible to distinguish between a single fertilized human egg cell and a mature human being, even though they are connected by a gradual, continuous path of development. And it is perfectly possible to look at the material facts of the world and arrive at an ethical conclusion which isn’t yours—for example, the conclusion that membership in the ethical community should be based on the capacity to suffer.

You insist on preloading “human being” with ethical significance, as though you had demonstrated that significance already. If you want to be rational, then present an argument for why species membership should be the trump criterion for natural rights (that is, “life, equal protection under the law, etc”). If you want to pretend to be rational, then keep up the good work.

>>"Do you folks really believe we should value an acorn and a mature oak equally?

Um, hello?

...the analogy isn't a question of VALUE betwixt an acorn and a mature oak tree. The point of the analogy is that they are BOTH AN OAK...from germination to maturity.

>>"It looks a lot like “the fallacy of the beard” that Dr. Klusendorf misapplies..."

This sounds like a political soundbite. You make the accusation that he "misapplies", yet refrain from defining the misapplication.

>>"In other words, you go directly from material observation to ethical conclusion."

What?

I'm tempted to ask, "Are you serious?" But I already know that you are. The material (more accurately, scientific) conclusion WE reach is that regardless of age, i.e. stage of development, a human person is a human person. Now, you say that we are reaching an ethical conclusion based on that fact.

No.

We are simply reaching the conclusion that the pre-born are human beings. The ethical status of human beings is separate and apart from that altogether.

We reach an ethical conclusion because we believe ALL human beings hold intrinsic value simply because they are humans.

To ascribe VALUE to human persons is not a scientific endeavor at all. It is wholly an ethical endeavor.

All we are saying is that IF we are going to agree to ascribe value to humans, let's not leave any out.

The material part you elude to simply provides material (i.e. scientific) grounding that a developing fertilized egg, embryo, and/or fetus in the womb is...(fasten your seatbelt, Jan)...is a distinct human being, too.

More succinctly:

Material - A human being is a human being regardless of the stage of development he/she is in.

Ethical - All humans beings have intrinsic value because they are...human.

(Now, depending on your worldview...some may not qualify -to some, Jewish people did not. See Holocaust. To some, black people did not. Look at the SCOTUS decision for Dred Scott in 1856-57. To some, Aborigines did not. See 1967 referendum in Australia. To some, people of ANY race that are still in the womb do not. See...um, never mind. People still think this way even now.)

I don't think I've seen as many straw men assembled in one place before. It's becoming quite the bonfire.

Material – A human being is a human being regardless of the stage of development he/she is in.
Ethical – All human beings have intrinsic value because they are...human.

Let me be equally succinct. I agree with your material point. Your ethical point, however, is an assumption, and one which no one here seems willing or able to explain.

DNA I can see, at least in principle. It’s that physical characteristic that you folks feel so strongly about. How about “intrinsic value”? Is that a physical characteristic, too? Or, by “intrinsic,” do you mean that you take it for granted? That would explain your inability to explain it.

You are welcome to take it for granted. But don’t kid yourself that you’re being reasonable, or rational, or “scientific,” when you do. If you're going to be scientific, you're going to have to explain what the hell you're talking about.

P.S.

This sounds like a political soundbite. You make the accusation that he “misapplies,” yet refrain from defining the misapplication.

This sounds like a political soundbite. You avoid the actual point and talk about something else.

Klusendorf says that an ethical line is crossed somewhere in the conception process. Before, we have individual gametes—nobody cares. After, we have a zygote—a single cell to which we owe all the rights and protections of a fully developed human being.

Klusendorf says that this line exists. When some smart-ass philosopher raises his hand and says, “Where exactly?” Klusendorf doesn’t get to just wave the man off; if that line exists, right there in the biology like he says, then he’d better be able to show where it is. Otherwise, he’s just making stuff up.

>>”Let me be equally succinct. I agree with your material point. Your ethical point, however, is an assumption, and one which no one here seems willing or able to explain.”

I can only hope I am understanding your complaint accurately.
You seem to think it is unreasonable to believe that human beings have value and should not be killed for the sake of convenience...and if not unreasonable, at least people who believe this should be able to articulate why they think humans, ourselves, possess inherent value simply because we are humans.
Is this your argument? Close?
It seems that you are looking for someone to articulate why humans have “intrinsic” value...due to the fact that they belong to humanity. I can say this - There are those who do not think so..sociopaths and genuine nihilists, for example. But even those who adhere to physicalism, determinism, and naturalism see the merits of prescribing value to humans for the sake of survival, the establishment of civilizations and laws, and what we can gain from one another, et al. I am sure those adhering to these worldviews could provide you with a bit more.
Some of us believe God thinks humans have intrinsic value and are His most significant creation, inasmuch as Christ went to the cross for human beings as a demonstration of His love. None of this is proof for you, I suspect, that humans possess intrinsic (inherent) value because they are human beings. For the Christian, God instilled value to human beings and expects us to act as such. For those who think humans are the result of millions of years of macro-evolutionary mutations and our existence is mere chance...well, then humans do not possess any intrinsic value at all. We merely have to decide what we are going to value and protect ...under no obligation to a higher moral authority than ourselves. We are our own god, so to speak. Morality becomes a ruse.
Our Constitution’s framers and founders believed all men are created equal. That we all have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They seemed to believe humankind is valuable. And that humans have certain rights and values that do not come from themselves...but from our Creator. They are “inalienable.” If you do not think humans posses any inherent value, then you cannot say we have any inalienable rights. All you can say is that humans who gain power over other humans get to say what, if any, rights another human has. Likewise, they can be revoked at will as well.
Do you not think human beings possess value because we were created as such...or do you think the value of human beings is prescribed to us by us?
I would urge you to be careful when considering that. Look at the available evidence for both. And the consequences for both. If we are not valuable...inherently...then the nihilist is right. There is no moral problem with killing each other for any reason whatsoever. In fact, morality becomes an illusion and merely a fabrication to help us believe we can get along and allow each other to live.

Can you explain why you do not think humans possess inherent value?

You seem to think it is unreasonable to believe that human beings have value and should not be killed for the sake of convenience...

No, David, that is not an unreasonable belief. In fact, believe it or not, I agree that human beings have value and should not be killed for the sake of convenience. Zealous misrepresentation is unreasonable. Indeed, it is dishonest and therefore wrong (note that this ethical judgment does not depend on your chemical composition.)

...and if not unreasonable, at least people who believe this should be able to articulate why they think humans, ourselves, possess inherent value simply because we are humans.

Yes, David, if you want to claim that a single-celled precursor to a human being is a person in the fullest ethical sense, then you’re going to have to do a lot more than point at the DNA. Ethical prerogatives do not inhere in one’s chemical composition.

For those who think humans are the result of millions of years of macro-evolutionary mutations and our existence is mere chance...well, then humans do not possess any intrinsic value at all.

We might be able to have a fruitful and interesting discussion on the subject, but not if one of us is hung up on the idea that ethical standing depends on your chemical composition. Am I driving this point home adequately?

And, of course, that would be departing from my particular interest in this website’s particular interest in conflating ethics with biology.

>>"if you want to claim that a single-celled precursor to a human being is a person in the fullest ethical sense, then you’re going to have to do a lot more than point at the DNA."

You refer to this early stage of human development as a "precursor" to a human being, whereas I would refer to a sperm and egg on their way to meet each other as the true precursors. (Note the plural.)

When do you,in particular, call "it" a human being? Must it be out of the womb? Or is there a particular trimester during pregnancy at which point you would say, "Hey, now its a human being. Don't kill it."


When exactly do you consider "it" a human being, and why?

(Notice we have come full circle back to what "it" is - and when "it" is.)

Or put a famous way, "At what point should a baby get human rights?"

We have come full circle back to where you deliberately conflate its chemical composition with its ethical standing.

Now your just being obtuse.

Please answer the question.

One of us is being obtuse, and it’s the one who’s refusing to examine his position.

Why are you asking me when I think a baby should get human rights, instead of explaining to me why you think human rights are applicable from the moment of conception? Or is this the point where you lose your interest in “science” and give me “God thinks humans have intrinsic value…”?

Janney, we've explained over and over why human beings have rights since conception and don't gain them later.

If one is to believe in the existence of human rights, there is only one thing that all human beings of every type have in common--their human nature. Therefore, if rights for human beings objectively exist, then they exist because of the type of being that human beings are. They are not granted later by some arbitrary standard that society decides they must meet. At least, not if the idea of universal human rights is to be at all objective and meaningful.

So why don't they gain the rights later? It's because, since conception, they are human beings--the kind of being worthy of rights. And they are that same kind of being at every stage. The kind of being they are does not change, therefore their intrinsic, objective rights do not change. The rights are not arbitrary, they really exist. The rights exist for the kind of being we call human beings. Those rights are not things that come and go, they're intrinsic.

>>Second, your explanation—the invocation of lepers, the comatose, children—appears to be an attempt to justify the claim that we can’t make an ethical distinction between a fertilized human egg cell and a human being standing (or not) in front of us. It looks a lot like “the fallacy of the beard”

It's not the fallacy of the beard at all. I'm assuming you believe in human rights, so that's our starting point. I'm trying to show you that the differences between the different stages of humans are not the kinds of things that are morally relevant when determining rights. The differences in size, level of development, location, abilities, etc. do not change a person's moral standing in any way in our culture.

In other words, it's not that a person gains rights gradually as he develops and gains more abilities and so I can't figure out when he actually gets the rights (that would be the fallacy of the beard), it's that the abilities have no bearing on the rights at all. Therefore, just as they have no bearing on the rights of born humans, neither do they have any bearing on the rights of unborn humans.

You have yet to give me an example of where these categories (size, development, etc.) are ever considered relevant. Therefore, your argument is special pleading. In this one case, these categories are relevant to human rights, but in no other? Why? You have yet to answer this question.

Perhaps you would say that there's a much larger difference between a zygote and a newborn than between a newborn and an adult. However, having more of an irrelevant difference does not suddenly make that difference relevant. An irrelevant difference remains irrelevant no matter how much of it you have. It's not relevant to the born people not because the difference is smaller, but because the difference has zero to do with rights.

>>It is, in fact, perfectly possible to distinguish between a single fertilized human egg cell and a mature human being, even though they are connected by a gradual, continuous path of development.

Of course one can tell the difference. I'm not sure what that has to do with this. I can distinguish between a newborn and an adult, right enough. Yes, they're different. But those differences mean nothing when determining value. A newborn is valuable, an adult is valuable. The categories of the differences between them (size, development, abilities, etc.) have zero relevance to their intrinsic value. Unless you would like to say that an adult is more intrinsically valuable than a newborn, you are also saying that those differences are not relevant. Why are they suddenly relevant when going from a fetus to a newborn?

>>the conclusion that membership in the ethical community should be based on the capacity to suffer.

I understand that you might say that we must not cause pain to anyone who has the capacity to suffer, but how does the ability to suffer have any relevance to value? Is a paralyzed person or a person in a coma less valuable than a person who has the ability to suffer? Suffering doesn't seem to be at all relevant when making an ethical decision about value. Suffering is not the kind of thing that grants value to something else. The two are not related.

>>If you want to be rational, then present an argument for why species membership should be the trump criterion for natural rights

I don't really need to do this in this country, since the laws are written for human beings, and we're not allowed to discriminate against people based on their characteristics. The reason why this is is because our country was founded on the idea that all human beings are created equal--the idea of intrinsic human value, regardless of characteristics. Some have tried to get around this, but the idea has won out in our society because we found the idea of intrinsic human value to be self-evident--a first principle that is apprehended, not proved.

Now, if you were in some places in India--a society not built on the idea of intrinsic human value--where they leave their newborns out to die if they have too many children or they don't want another girl, then the burden of proof would fall on me instead of you. But our country was founded on the idea, calling it "self-evident," and I agree, so you are going to have to convince me why these categories are morally relevant.

I certainly can't convince you that human beings are valuable if you don't already know it. There have been many people throughout history who have rejected this notion of intrinsic value and created standards to determine human value (slavery--standard of color, Holocaust--standard of physical characteristics, etc.). When humans are defined out of humanity, it makes it much easier to use and/or kill them, so the temptation to do this is great, and sometimes people succeed to disastrous results.

David said, "All we are saying is that IF we are going to agree to ascribe value to humans, let's not leave any out." That is very precisely said. I would also say, if you're going to leave someone out, you're going to need to explain why the characteristics you happen to favor have any ethical quality that determines value.

>> Before, we have individual gametes—nobody cares. After, we have a zygote—a single cell to which we owe all the rights and protections of a fully developed human being.

This is because that point is when the human being begins to exist. You've already said as much. The gametes are not human beings. The zygote is a human being. As you yourself said, the zygote is a member of the homo sapiens species. The zygote is a human being. You can reject universal human rights, but you can't pretend to believe in universal human rights and then deny those rights to the one group of human beings you happen to not care about.

>>but not if one of us is hung up on the idea that ethical standing depends on your chemical composition.are valuable.

One's "chemical composition" determines the type of being one is, so of course it is very relevant. Since human beings are the type of being that is intrinsically valuable, those beings that fall into this category are valuable.

Here is the argument:

1. The unborn child is a human being.
2. All human beings are valuable.
3. The unborn child is valuable.

You have agreed to #1 and are only disputing premise #2. You do not believe in universal human rights. You instead believe we should assign rights only to whichever human beings match the standard we decide to create as a society. You are rejecting the idea of universal human rights in order to keep out one group of human beings--beings that are physically the exact same kind of being as you and I are, but much younger. You are doing this to exclude a group of human beings that you would rather have the option of disposing of or using for research.

This is a position that seems immediately suspect to me as we have seen this exact same thing happen historically over and over, and never to any good effect. So in order for you to make the case that this is all right for you to do (though everyone who did this throughout history was wrong, as future generations realized), you would first need to explain why your favored standard is at all relevant to value.

Amy,
I was wondering where you've been. :)

I am really trying here...
Do you think I am being clear in my response below?


Janney,

Per your request:

>>"Why are you asking me when I think a baby should get human rights, instead of explaining to me why you think human rights are applicable from the moment of conception?"

WHY I THINK HUMAN RIGHTS ARE APPLICABLE FROM THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION:

Because at the moment of conception, there is a brand new human being present and growing.

(I can be no more candid or clear than that.)

Now, if you would be so kind...

Janney, how long after conception does the "entity" developing in the womb become a human being, and therefore qualify to get human rights?

Feel free to answer in minutes, days, weeks,...or by specifying characteristics...in fact, in any way that you are the most comfortable.

1. The unborn child is a human being.
2. All human beings are valuable.
3. The unborn child is valuable.
You have agreed to #1 and are only disputing premise #2.

No, Amy, I am disputing premise #1. Just like all the other times. (And note, as a passing interest, that to say “unborn child” for “zygote” is to presuppose your conclusion).

Let me put my cards on the table. I can see that the STR party line is a short one: “It’s simple, folks. A human being is a human being. If natural rights are owed to anyone, then they are also owed to the unborn from the moment of conception. Done.”

And it is simple: this is simply "trading on an equivocation" regarding the term “human being,” which is commonly used in more than one way.

If it’s true that “there is only one thing that all human beings of every type have in common--their human nature,” and you wish to include the zygote in that picture, then you have reduced “human nature” to DNA composition, since this is the only human quality the zygote has. But this is manifestly not what people generally mean when they speak of human nature. A simple, common-sense notion of “human nature”—and “human being” in the non-reductive sense—would be behaviors appropriate to members of our species (as opposed to “acting like an animal,” or something). But this won’t do at all for STR, since the zygote has no behaviors, appropriate or otherwise.

Therefore The Rule:

Do not discuss the fact that the term “human being” is used in two distinct ways.

And its equally important partner:

Equivocate between usages at every opportunity.

Of course, this means that, literally, you’re claiming to be able to observe ethical prerogatives through a microscope (since DNA determines natural rights), which is pretty silly if you think about it; and, of course, this means that you’ve put up a “No Thinking Beyond This Point” sign, which is the opposite of rational, scientific, and other adjectives you’d like to attribute to yourselves; but you never need to address any of this if you adhere strictly to the Rule.

Of course, this also means you’re being dishonest, which is generally considered bad behavior regardless of your chemical composition; but just remember: “it’s simple, folks!”

Here is Mr. Hawkins’ version:

WHY I THINK HUMAN RIGHTS ARE APPLICABLE FROM THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION:
Because at the moment of conception, there is a brand new human being present and growing.
(I can be no more candid and clear than that.)

Yes, David, you can. You did it before, remember? (“We are simply reaching the conclusion that the pre-born are human beings. The ethical status of human beings is separate and apart from that altogether.”) Did someone hustle you back across the Do Not Think line? Or did you realize yourself that talking about essences, or divine preferences, or whatever, meant taking off your science costume?

Meanwhile, in the wider world outside STR’s collective head, it’s not special pleading at all to leave fertilized human egg cells outside the magic moral circle (or, indeed, to include non-human animals inside the circle on occasion, as shocking and weird as that must seem at first blush).

And that’s the segue to my Nominee for Bedrock Ethical Principle, so you guys have something to distract you from the wicked cognitive dissonance you have to work through every day: the capacity to suffer. If a thing can suffer, then there is no ethical reason not to take that suffering into account. If a thing cannot suffer, then there is nothing to account for. There might be more to ethics than that, but that is the beginning.

See if you can find something wrong with it besides its failure to support your bizarre politics.

>>No, Amy, I am disputing premise #1. Just like all the other times.

Janney, no, you really are disputing #2 and not #1. You don't realize this, and this is why you're not understanding us. Perhaps if I used "human" instead of "human being" that would make it more clear to you. But you did already agree to point #1 when you said:

If, when you say “human being,” you are speaking literally, then this is breathtakingly inane. Yes, no one is ever a member of more than one species.

Yes, I am using the term literally. I established that at the beginning with you. You agree that we are of the same species. We're all humans. What you deny is that all humans are valuable. That is premise #2. You are defining some of the species out of rights, but that doesn't mean they're not still the same species (#1).

This is very important: I am not equivocating. In order to not equivocate, I separated out #1 and #2 because there are two questions here. #1--member of the species, #2--valuable (I think this is the way you're using the term "human being"--to mean a "valuable" human being, but that conflates #1 and #2. Value is determined in #2). We established #1, so now I'm using the term "human" to determine if that human is valuable (#2). I'm not equivocating, I'm making a separate argument for each.

>>And note, as a passing interest, that to say “unborn child” for “zygote” is to presuppose your conclusion).

What about "unborn child" is in dispute? Are you disputing that it's the offspring of the parents? That doesn't seem disputable. I used the word to cover all the stages in the womb.

This is another case of your conflating premise #1 and premise #2. The fact is, in the womb is the offspring--the unborn child--of the mother. That is a fact. It's premise #2 that comes into play when we determine whether or not that offspring, that child, is valuable.

Your problem is that you are assuming the opposite of #2 (i.e., you are assuming not all humans are valuable) and then calling only the humans you find valuable, humans. You can't do that. You need to separate #1 and #2. Yes, they're humans, yes, what's in the womb is the child of the mother. No, not all humans are valuable, no, the human in the womb at the zygote stage is not valuable. It's #2 you are disputing.

Unless you have some biological reason to think what's in the womb is not a member of the human species, then it is a human. Whether or not to include that human in the "ethical community," as you call it, depends on whether you find it valuable. That is #2.

And the fact is that since you dispute #2, you do not believe in universal human rights for every member of the human species.

A "nature" is held by every member of that thing. It's not something they get later. That's because "nature" refers to the essence of a thing. It has nothing to do with behaviors. It may be that you don't believe things have natures, but you can't change the meaning of "nature" to mean behavior.

>>it’s not special pleading at all to leave fertilized human egg cells outside the magic moral circle

And yet you still haven't given a single argument to explain why this is not special pleading. I would still very much like to hear a response to the special pleading argument--some reason why we should think those categories of attributes affect rights only in this one case.

>>If a thing cannot suffer, then there is nothing to account for.

Why? Why is life not more important than suffering? It seems like if a human has a life, that is a thing to account for that is even greater than suffering. If we must account for suffering, how much more must we account for life! Even the smallest human is alive, she's growing and developing, she has a current life, and she has possibly 80 years of future life--growing up, getting married, working, contributing to society, loving, and yes, suffering, as well. Is this not something to account for?

(David, I don't usually comment on the weekends much. :-)

I get it already. You want to reduce “human nature” to “DNA composition,” because that’s the only way to include zygotes in its purview. That’s quite a line to have to deliver with a straight face, but you’re doing very well. (Of course, you’ve abandoned all interest in speaking clearly, which isn’t reasonable, but it’s all for the good of the movement, I’m sure.)

I have my own theory regarding the past-each-other talking we’re engaged in, and I told it to you already, so I’ll just skip to the end.

…“nature” refers to the essence of a thing. It has nothing to do with behaviors. It may be that you don’t believe things have natures, but you can’t change the meaning of “nature” to mean behavior.

First, you are free to talk about species’ “essence” all you want, but only if you’re tired of maintaining your scientific façade. (It’s about time.) If you were going to talk biology, you would have to deal with Darwin, and better sooner than later. (Here’s the short form, just for fun: every living thing on the planet is related, literally, genetically, to every other. To understand this, the first thing you must do is abandon essentialism.)

Second, I’m pretty sure that, when people talk about morals and ethics, it is behavior they’re talking about. What kind of sense would it make to discuss ethics without discussing the things people do? Our very own Ten Commandments are behavioral proscriptions, which say nothing about the text of an individual’s genome.

Note that neither of these points are hard to grasp; it’s just that the STR party line precludes their discussion.

Why is life not more important than suffering? …If we must account for suffering, how much more must we account for life!

You say “life” like you mean it, but I don’t think you do. The human species is a vanishingly small percentage of alive things; and this would be a very different conversation if you showed any concern for any of the non-human varieties.

And if it is human life you mean, then the answer is simple, folks! The capacity to suffer is not confined to our species.

>>I get it already. You want to reduce “human nature” to “DNA composition,” because that’s the only way to include zygotes in its purview.

No. Human zygotes are the same kind of being as human adults. That kind of being is worthy of rights, regardless of characteristics--intelligence, skin color, ethnicity, ability, dependence, location, etc. Because of this, including zygotes naturally follows from the idea of universal human rights. That's all I'm saying. Those facts lead to my opinion about zygotes, not the other way around.

>>which isn’t reasonable, but it’s all for the good of the movement, I’m sure.

This is so extraordinary--to say the movement comes before the ideas rather than following from them. If I didn't believe what I'm saying to be true, why would I care in the first place? The reason I promote rights for all humans is because I believe humans are the kind of being worthy of rights. Why do it otherwise? There would be no reason to. Why would I decide first to give rights to zygotes and then come up with a reason to support it? That doesn't even make sense.

>>You say “life” like you mean it, but I don’t think you do. The human species is a vanishingly small percentage of alive things; and this would be a very different conversation if you showed any concern for any of the non-human varieties.

You were talking about the suffering of the fetus, so I brought up the life of the fetus. The human life of the fetus is more worthy of being accounted for than the human suffering of the fetus. Therefore, if one must account for suffering in the fetus, how much more must one account for the life of the fetus, as I explained.

In a living human, life is a more essential quality than suffering. This seems obvious. Otherwise, anyone who could not feel pain would lose all rights and could be killed. But in such a person, the life must be taken into account. Never once have I said that we have value merely because we're alive. I said we have value because we're human and humans are the kind of being with value and rights. Therefore, if a human is alive, that's something extremely important--even more important than suffering--that must be accounted for.

What I think you're getting at is that it's the ability to suffer that gives an individual rights. But this is not so. It is the characteristics of the species that give each member rights, not the characteristics of an individual that give him rights. Human beings are the kind of being that feels pain, though not every one does at every point. They're the kind of being that thinks and reasons, though not every one can. They're the kind of being that can create all sorts of things, though not every one can, and certainly no one creates at every moment. They're the kind of being that makes moral judgments, though some people exist with abnormal or seemingly non-existent consciences. Not every human exhibits all these things at every moment, and yet they still have rights.

Does the value of each individual change as he or she moves in and out of experiencing these particular things? No. Why not? Because every human is valuable at all times, not because she is immediately experiencing something in particular, or even because, as an individual, she has the ability to experience something (as a newborn does not have the current ability to create anything or make moral judgments), but because she is the kind of being that participates in all these things, even if, as an individual, she isn't at the moment. Each human has dignity because of the kind of being she is, not because of individual, particular, current abilities and actions. A newborn is not currently creating, but she is still a valuable human. A person in a coma is not currently suffering, but he is still a valuable human. Plants are not the kind of beings that do these things, therefore merely having life means nothing for them.

So, are you going to give any reasons for your position? Any reason why your case is not special pleading?

Zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, child, juvenile, pre-teen, teenager, young adult, adult, senior...while some of these labels (like child and young adult) can allude to a few different ages, they all have one thing in common:

They denote or signify a "WHEN"...not a "WHAT."

The reason our language does this is because the "WHAT" is already established. The "WHAT", prior to Roe V. Wade, was never an issue...because people know we are talking about human beings. We are talking about us.

The fact that we (in the past several decades) are now disputing how much "humanness" resides in a few of these stages - to excuse killing some of them for research - is simply diabolic. It is asinine that some people have to find themselves explaining and defending this. We are not merely talking about different points of view here, but something much more significant in arguing against the humanity of an unborn person (in any stage of development) - the popularity of embracing a willing suspension of reality.

Instead of acknowledging the tangible and real, you have proceeded with a make-shift pseudo-intellectual filibuster in order continue to stay 10 steps away from the truth.

I ask you a simple, point blank question...not even looking for you to provide any particular FACT....just your own point of view. Yet you fail to muster the mettle even to step up to the plate...content to sit on the bleachers and rail away on tangents I would describe as a self-indulgent metaphysical potpourri of vanities...fueled by an irrational disdain for more accurate viewpoints.

Amy has gone above-and-beyond even what is practical in explaining her position, to the point of getting so concise and exhaustive I am reminded of my (often in vain) efforts to explain to my 3 year old why it is important for her to get enough sleep, not to stand on top of things that can roll, and why it is important to treat others the way she likes to be treated. But then I remember time and again something I want to put on the sidelines when I want her to get it right so badly, when I want to protect her, and when I want her to see things as they really are...there are some things I will have to let my daughter learn about through her own mistakes before she genuinely realizes that they are true, real, consequential, and even painful. Sometimes, her will to get her way (and the fact that she’s 3) trumps the clearest way of telling her something. It is troubling for me that I am reminded of those instances in this discussion. You see, you are not a toddler, and the topic is justification of the slaughter of innocent human beings in the earliest stages of their development.

A human zygote is a full human being. If it were not, it would never develop and grow into any other stage of development for a human being.

A severed adult human finger is human, but is not a full human being. It will not grow up.

A human teenage boy missing a finger is still a full human being. The loss of his finger does not make him less human and he will continue to develop.

A human zygote that is destroyed for research is a human being that is destroyed for research.

These are facts that cannot be sidestepped. They can be ignored or denied (or even filibustered), but facts they remain.

I also believe we are going to be held accountable for all the times we elected to ignore these facts.

I believe we are going to be held accountable for all the times we justified to ourselves that some of us are less important and more expendable than others.

I believe we will be held accountable for all the times we reasoned ourselves into imbecility to justify the diabolic.

But that's just me.

David: no, it's not just you. Disingenuous, self-righteous blather is a dime a ton, especially on this issue. But you're right about one thing: no reasonable person would mistake this for a frank discussion between adults.

Amy: the principle of the capacity to suffer applies universally. You, on the other hand, prefer the principle of “life,” but only the human variety. Are you sure special pleading means what you think it means?

I'll keep this short, since apparently I'm preventing important stuff getting done. DNA = only-thing-of-value-in-a-human-being is the most repugnant (and unrealistic) justification for natural rights I've ever heard. The only reason I can think of for anyone to even pretend to believe it, is that they want to make sure the zygotes get counted in the census.

The flip side—“human beings are the type of being that is intrinsically valuable”—is no less repugnant, and no less unfounded in observation and clear thinking. We do not live in a fairy bubble of specialness; and we do, believe it or not, have ethical obligations to the world beyond our species. This is as close to an objective ethical fact as you can get.

You folks wish to insert natural rights where they make no sense (zygotes and stem cells) and withhold them where they do (non-human animals and, oh incidentally, pregnant women). What can one say? The sooner the world leaves your outlook behind, the better.

>>"We do not live in a fairy bubble of specialness..."

Especially if it's the womb, huh?

>>"...and we do, believe it or not, have ethical obligations to the world beyond our species."

When did this topic get injected into the discussion? Of course we do. Your ability to stay on task and topic...and provide sound reasoning...has been nil.

>>"The only reason I can think of for anyone to even pretend to believe it, is that they want to make sure the zygotes get counted in the census."

The only reason you can think of?
Now your really tipping your hand.


>>"You folks wish to insert natural rights where they make no sense (zygotes and stem cells) and withhold them where they do (non-human animals..."

Sounds a bit hard-left feminist Wiccan to me. (Was that redundant? ;)

>>"...and, oh incidentally, pregnant women).

Pregnant with what? Surely you don't mean a developing human being with intrinsic value...because that would just be...um,...repugnant?

Just for fun, Janney (I'm really starting to wonder if you think the answer is "above your pay grade.") ;)

When do you think a developing human being should get human rights?

After uterine implantation?
(No wait, that's much to early for you, I think.) ...However, my fallopian tube journey was especially reminiscent of the indoor coaster at Disneyworld. :)

When two pink lines show up instead of just one on the HPT?
(Still too early?)

When the brain and spinal cord are fully formed?

When the heart beat is detectable?

When the valuable pregnant woman can feel the valuable fetus hiccuping? Kicking?

When the cord is cut at delivery?

When the valuable developing human being is able to stand on two legs independantly?

When the developing human being makes her first monetary contribution to NARAL?

How about it, Janney? Can you commit to a stage of development that you consider genuine "human being-ish?"

So...when do you think a developing human being should get human rights?

If your still unwilling to answer, how about this one:

At what stage of development should a developing human being aqcuire the rights of, say, a racehorse?

David: it's so cute when you call other people obtuse. It's even cuter when you tell other people they're refusing to face objective facts of the world. But it's downright adorable when you accuse other people of basing their values on some bizarre religious worldview (“hard-left feminist Wiccan”?).

But wait: you also say, “of course we do [have ethical obligations to the world beyond our species].” You mean we agree on this? Are you sure? You shrugged it off like it was obvious and irrelevant, so I'd better give you the opportunity to reconsider.

Can you tell me where this obligation comes from? We have ethical obligations to other human beings because they possess human DNA (and the magical specialness it confers), right? Do you mean that some other type of ethical obligation also exists? What does it do—apply to all the things in the world that aren't human beings?

In this “other ethics,” is it okay to think systematically about the rightness or wrongness of an action? To evaluate behaviors based on their real-world consequences? To follow the arguments where they lead (unless, of course, they lead us to evaluate the fairy bubble we live in, which protects us from such cold and dispassionate judgment)?

Come to think of it, what does “ethics” mean to you, that it exists, but has no jurisdiction over us?

P.S.

When do you think a developing human being should get human rights?

When they develop a nervous system, David. I'm sorry, I should have spelled that out for you sooner. I thought introducing the principle of the capacity to suffer would suffice. Are you going to hit me with the Beard Fallacy now?

>>"Are you going to hit me with the Beard Fallacy now?"

Nope, you answered the question.
I am all warm and fuzzy inside...really.

>>"When they develop a nervous system, David. I'm sorry, I should have spelled that out for you sooner."

So as long as we make sure to kill a human embryo before it develops a nervous system, we haven't crossed any lines of questionable morality in Janney's worldview. Thank you for your clarity.

Since I think we have a genuine human being from conception (fertilization; and prior to uterine implantation; Days 1-5), we will have to continue to disagree on that point. I'd still like to find some common ground with you though, Janney. I have enjoyed our exchange.

Based on the development timeline below and your nervous-system- benchmark for access to human rights, you would agree that abortions should be illegal after the three week point of development - since we are talking about killing a human being now because the nervous system is underway. Agree?

Day 6: embryo begins implantation in the uterus.

Day 22: heart begins to beat with the child's own blood, often a different type than the mothers'.

Week 3: By the end of third week the child's backbone spinal column and nervous system are forming. The liver, kidneys and intestines begin to take shape.

Week 4: By the end of week four the child is ten thousand times larger than the fertilized egg.

Week 5: Eyes, legs, and hands begin to develop.

Mr. Hawkins:

You say, “of course we do [have ethical obligations to the world beyond our species].” You mean we agree on this? Are you sure? You shrugged it off like was obvious and irrelevant, so I'd better give you the opportunity to reconsider.

Can you tell me where this obligation comes from? We have ethical obligations to other human beings because they possess human DNA (and the magical specialness it confers), right? Do you mean that some other type of ethical obligation also exists? What does it do—apply to all the things in the world that aren't human beings?

(I ask because I feel like it would be a big step for someone here to admit the existence of the possibility of careful, systematic thought on the subject of right and wrong, as opposed to appeals to mysterious essences or innate qualities.

If we agree that it's possible to arrive at ethical conclusions through reasoning at all, then we're just arguing about whether or not to use such ethical reasoning on ourselves. It seems obvious to me that we should—indeed that this is the fundamental purpose of ethics—but, on the other hand, were we to agree on this point, then we would be ruling out simple declarations of untouchability for which no reason can be given.)

>>Amy: the principle of the capacity to suffer applies universally

First, to be specific, you are referring not to the capacity to suffer, but the current capacity to suffer (since all humans have the capacity to suffer at some point in their lives, but not at all points). To you, the current nature of the capacity must be what you find important.

So you believe that a person in a coma loses all rights? That such a person is no longer in the "human ethical community" and can be killed, even if it is known with absolute certainty that he will come out of the coma and live a productive life and experience suffering in nine months? Your principle of current suffering requires that a person in a coma be stripped of all rights because he cannot currently suffer. That would be applying the principle of "current ability to suffer" universally.

>>DNA = only-thing-of-value-in-a-human-being is the most repugnant (and unrealistic) justification for natural rights I've ever heard.

Which is why that is not what I said.

>>The flip side—“human beings are the type of being that is intrinsically valuable”—is no less repugnant, and no less unfounded in observation and clear thinking.

Well, I'm glad to hear you finally admit that you do not believe in universal human rights because human beings are not intrinsically valuable. And you're proud of this?

Your beliefs are contrary to the foundation of our law, but even leaving that aside, perhaps you can explain this to me: Our law demands that a person who kills a fetus contrary to the will of the mother will be prosecuted for murder. If he kills the fetus in agreement with the mother, his action is legal. How can this be? How can the will of the mother change the objective value of the unborn child? How can the will of the mother grant or take away the rights that bring about the murder charge?

Clearly, in many instances, the law considers the unborn child a "full human being," as you put it. But how could it be a "full human being" and not a "full human being" at the same time, with the deciding vote cast arbitrarily by someone else entirely? Do you find this to be rational? Are you comfortable putting the decision about the rights of one entire group of people into the hands of another?

You've done well at calling me names and calling my motives into question, but you still have not given any reason why the arguments I've given fail, nor have you given any arguments for your position. I have given many reasons why human beings are the type of being with rights, why current abilities cannot determine individual rights, why the life of the human must be taken into account even above suffering, why the rights come from belonging to the group "human beings" regardless of current abilities, why arbitrary characteristics have zero to do with determining rights, and why applying those qualifications to one group of people is special pleading.

Do you have any arguments to offer? Because all I can identify is name-calling, and there's only so long I can keep responding to that before it isn't worth my time anymore.

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