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January 14, 2010

Comments

Hi Kim, you'll do well to consider what is behind this situation when trying to make sense of some of these issues. The women in society are not being protected by the men when their honor and purity is not protected. In our day, men are the predators not the protectors. It shows up in everyday advertising, entertainment, and culture.

Abortion is only hiding[or attempting to hide] the original sin of abusing the woman. If abortion is made illegal, most of the unplanned pregnancies will be avoided with more serious precaution--ie, abstenance. If men valued women as God wants us to, we'd not allow some of the behaviors that turn men into predators. In other words, we'd demonstrate the wisdom that is all over the proverbs that speaks of the poison that sex outside of marriage is. We'd avoid the poison like we avoid arsenic if we knew it for what it is. Most are blind, sadly.

Sam, Amy, and y'all,

Sam has asserted:

A person need not care about his future or be sentient at all in order to have interests.

Is this true? Where do we ascribe interests to the non-sentient?

It is sentience, not consciousness, that distinguishes us, whether we are waking, sleeping, or comatose, from the 5-day embryo.

By sentience I mean the ability to feel or perceive. By conscious I mean the state of feeling, perceiving, thinking, etc. So it is possible to be sentient without being conscious (but not vice versa).

(I question your idea, Sam, of a non-sentient person - with or without interests. Perhaps you were using sentient as a synonym for conscious? )

So, y'all are either claiming that a) the 5-day embryo is the only non-sentient holder of interests or b) there are other non-sentient holders of interests. I think (a) would be special pleading and (b) requires you to supply at least one other example of a non-sentient holder that is widely recognized.

RonH

P.S. Thanks to all for the responses. Thanks to STR for the venue. If you can help the Haitians NOW is the time.

For (b), 1 other example that fits your request is anyone who's under anesthesia. The ability to feel and perceive is muted in those instances.

I think this meets your request, but most likely not your ideal. It's just as transient a quality as most of the other standards used to disqualify the unborn from protection.

As in the case of the 5 day embryo, the post uterine human who's under anesthesia will gain sentience in the future so there is an interest worthy of protection.

I'd also add that this is not an ultimate proposition for me, since God's word has something to say about this topic.

RonH,
I'm not sure why any argument based on some level of ability is valid at all, since everyone at different times has different levels of any ability.
Why a 5 day embryo and not a 10 day one? Or a two week one, or 4 month fetus, or a 6 day old baby or a two year old, or in some cases a 10 year old handicapped person? Do you see where this is going or have I missed something in your argument that clarifies the difference in abilities between a 5 day embryo and any other human being at a further stage of development?
As I understand the issue, the only point along the continuum of life that means anything (and isn't arbitrary is the point of fusion of sperm and egg. After that point you have an individual human being which is no different from any other human being in any sense that actually means anything.

Sorry,
Should have completed the thought of the last sentence. It should read, "After that point you have an individual human being which is no different from any other human being in any sense that actually means anything in the debate about when a person is valuable and worthy of the same rights and protections as the rest of us."

Brad,

Sorry: I should have been more explicit. There are (at least) two meanings of sentience.

One meaning is used to classify things: cats are sentient (occasionally, at least) and catacombs are not. This meaning refers to an intrinsic quality not a transient state. This is the meaning I specified.

The other meaning of sentience is a synonym for consciousness and is transient state. My cat is sentient now but she won't be sentient lo'ng. This is the meaning you responded with.

So you equivocated: you responded with a different meaning of sentient than the one I originally used and your response turns on that fact.

It's true that under certain circumstances the 5-day embryo will become sentient. Under certain circumstances a caterpillar will become a flying insect. That doesn't make a caterpillar able to fly. A cloud of interstellar hydrogen might one day become a star. That doesn't make the cloud able to fuse its hydrogen into helium. That the 5-day embryo might, one day, become sentient does not make it sentient now.

You mention the Bible. Nothing wrong with that in general but Alan purposely avoided it in his presentation and in his post. His aim is to make a non-religious argument against abortion and ESCR that works beginning at conception. My aim is to refute that particular argument at a particular time: at or soon after conception.

Also, you have only mentioned the Bible. Why not make an argument based what the Bible says or at least tell us what it says?

RonH

Matt,

It's not a level of ability I'm that I'm talking about; it's the total lack of a quality: sentience.

I pick 5 days because it is after conception and it is the point where embryos are used for research.

Alan's argument is intended to apply from conception on. If I refute it at 5-days he has to drop it or fix it.

It doesn't look like it can be fixed.

Ron

Hi RonH, I'll take a pass on the biblical exposition for now, but I'd like a minute to go back and see if you'll give me a reason why you choose to make sentience the hill you want to die on. It seems to me that you are making the declaration by yourself as the authority--I dont think you cited another/higher authority. Feel free to correct me if I'm misunderstanding you.

RonH,

I agree with Brad B here. Why sentience, why not another ability an embryo completely lacks? There are a lot of different qualities that an embryo lacks, or a fetus or a new born or a handicapped person etc.

My question is why should any living human being's value be determined by any ability or quality it has not yet achieved?

I am claiming that any human at any level of development is valuable because of what it is inherently, not because of any arbitrary point along the journey from conception to death.

What makes sentience the marker? Or 5 days? What if scientists wanted to experiment on 2 week fetuses or 12 weeks or new borns etc.
You've yet to defend why those qualities should be what makes humans valuable. Arbitrarily picking sentience at 5 days (how do you come up with that, by the way?) doesn't seem to me to refute anything. What am I missing here?

Don't you see why anything reason for value other than just being human and living is a slippery slope to killing any people for no good reason?

Hi Matt,

I don't think you will get anything from RonH on the newborn question. On this post, I asked him that very question on Jan 15, at 6:32am. I also asked him on the ESCR post on Jan 14, at 9:06am. I still haven't heard anything.

Brad,

I'm saying 1) a 5-day embryo is not sentient and 2) sentience is a necessary condition to be ascribed interests. By 'necessary', I mean people never speak of the interests of rocks, plants, or bacteria.

In support of (1): The 5-day embryo shows no signs of sentience and has not in the past. Furthermore, it has no capacity to support sentience. These are good evidence that it has no sentience.

In support of (2): There are no non-sentient interest holders. We ascribe interests only to the sentient. Offer me a counter example or tell my why you are not engaging in special pleading.

KWM,

I think you asking about this:


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

First, newborn is sentient: it is in the group we ascribe interests to. I think we would agree a newborn feels pain and - this is crucial here - a desire to live. What desire on the part of another would trump that? But notice: you have to be sentient to have it.

RonH

RonH,

You still haven't answered why sentience? Why? Why is the question. Why is sentience necessary for "interests".
You also haven't answered why 5 days, and not 4 or 6 or 8 etc. What signs of any ability to have subjective perceptual experiences does a 5 day old embryo exhibit? (Or are you defining sentience differently and if so how are you defining it?)
Unless you think it's because research on embryos stops (or starts?) at 5 days. Is this the case? Because research happens later than 5 days (and earlier), but even if it didn't why would that matter?

My argument is that all that is necessary (and sufficient) for interest (or the right to life, to not be unjustly killed) is being human and being alive. Since science shows us this happens at the point of sperm and egg fusion (conception) I am arguing this is when we should be protected from being unjustly killed. You saying, "Sentience at 5 days is when we gain interest" (my paraphrase) does not refute this.
Also I echo Brad B's question about which authority you use to come to your conclusion?

Ronh,

>>> "We ascribe interests only to the sentient."

well, we "ascribe interests" all the time to people who don't have the capacity for sentience.

I mean, thats why Power-of-Attorney was invented.

Alan,

>>> "They assume the unborn is not a human being."

What did you say to counter this assumption?

Hi RonH, earlier you said that the definition [or type] of sentience you are using in this discussion is the type that is not transient, but intrinsic to the being.

The 5 day old concpetus has everything she needs to gain sentience without any added information or external additional material--other than life sustenance. It's clear that sentience by your definition is intrinsic to the 5 day old conceptus. You in essence say, "until a being has sentience to begin with, it doesn't qualify to have interests", but this is not a necessary element of your definition. This woud just be your assertion, as is your statement "We ascribe interests only to the sentient."

If by "we" you mean society in general, I'd ask you to demonstrate proof of that since legal abortion came about by judicial activism, not by vote. In fact Gallup polls say that most adults in America are pro life. I think we pro-lifers have more right to say: "We ascribe intersts to any being who is or ever will be sentient".

I believe that this article was refrenced to on this site last year that might help further this discussion, check it out.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/why_some_politicians_are_against_abortion_and_for_embryonic_stem_cell_research/

It's construction vs. developement as it relates to the preborn.

For some reason the whole url didn't post and after trying it a 2nd time, here is an alternative way to find it. Google search these words/terms:

Catholic News Agency or CNA, and politicians against abortion, and for embryonic stem cell research

Matt,

You still haven't answered why sentience? Why? Why is the question. Why is sentience necessary for "interests".

I think this is something we all agree on. Give me a counter example. Nobody ascribes interests to the non-sentient.

You also haven't answered why 5 days...

I did too. Five days is after conception and before sentience. Exactly what I need to address Alan's post.

What signs of any ability to have subjective perceptual experiences does a 5 day old embryo exhibit?

Huh? None. That's the point. It is intrinsically incapable.

Or are you defining sentience differently and if so how are you defining it?

I gave a definition ("the ability to feel or perceive") but yours works too.

My argument is that all that is necessary (and sufficient) for interest (or the right to life, to not be unjustly killed) is being human and being alive.

That's just a claim not an argument and it seems to be untrue: We routinely ascribe interests to (non-human) animals. We never asribe interests to the non-sentient.

You saying, "Sentience at 5 days is when we gain interest" (my paraphrase) does not refute this.

No, that's your misreading not your paraphrase. I don't say when the embryo first has interests. I only say it has none at 5-days and, again, it's because 5 days comes after conception and Alan's argument is intended to apply from conception on.

Also I echo Brad B's question about which authority you use to come to your conclusion?

Then both of you should study what an argument is and how it is responded to.

ToNy

well, we "ascribe interests" all the time to people who don't have the capacity for sentience. I mean, thats why Power-of-Attorney was invented.
Are you sure? Please explain what you mean.

Brad

It's clear that sentience by your definition is intrinsic to the 5 day old conceptus.

The capacity to develop sentience is intrinsic to it. But not sentience.

RonH,

>> Are you sure? Please explain what you mean.

Well some old or sick people have no capacity for sentience. Yet we go to great lengths to "ascribe interests" to them.

Power of Attorney allows another cognizant individual to act in your interests when you no longer have the capacity to do so yourself.

ToNy,

First "no longer hav[ing] the capacity to do so yourself" is not the same as being insentient. Dementia, for example, is not insentience.

Do you really mean the interests of an insentient or do you mean his heirs or his peace of mind (while he was sentient).

RonH

oh

well just consider a comatose patient then

Hi RonH, you said:

"The capacity to develop sentience is intrinsic to it. But not sentience.

Well, you're moving the goal post now. I know it's not what you wanted to hear, but I dont see how we can even communicate meaningfully unless there is a objective standard we can use. I tried to use sentience with you even though I, like Matt don't conceded this assumption at all.

I dont think you can win with that standard anyway so it was worth discussing [but not if we cant rely on some kind of stability]. Maybe you can convince us that your use of the word "we"[use sentience to ascribe interest] is even a majority of the people.

I believe that the majority of the people do ascribe interests to the unborn, even beginning at the point of conception.

ToNy,

Comatose is unconscious - a transient state (of a sentient thing). Sentient means you have the wetware to feel/perceive. So, in this sense, you can't be comatose unless you are by nature (intrinsically) sentient. WE don't speak of comatose rocks. See earlier comment and the rest of this one.

Brad,

I think have used intrinsic the same way consistently and so I'm not moving a goal post. Go back and look.

The 5-day embryo lacks sentience (the ability to feel or perceive) due to its nature (intrinsically). It doesn't have the necessary parts! Having them later is not the same as having them now. A caterpillar is intrinsically flightless.

It's true you have not conceded that we don't ascribe interests to the non-sentient. But you haven't offered a counter example either. So, I think you must agree with me (with the one exception).

Who do I mean by we? I mean: you, me, most people, the man on the street. I mean everyone who can't come up with a counter example.

I found the article you pointed out.

http://tinyurl.com/y9eco8a
(A handy tool: http://tinyurl.com/)

It talks about John McCain and others having a different views of embryos depending only on whether they are in a womb or in a test tube. In the womb, they are human beings 'under construction' and to be protected but not in the test tube. Not my view. Not sure what makes people think that way.

RonH

Ronh

>> in this sense, you can't be comatose unless you are by nature (intrinsically) sentient.

well if, say, a bullet destroyed a persons wetware, that person is no longer sentient.

i don't know what you mean by 'intrinsically sentient'.

when i sleep i'm not sentient much of the time.
when i wake up, i am.

Hi RonH, I used the "moved the goal post" phrase because the dictionary indicates that intrinsic is defined as " belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing".

In conjunction with this, the artilce linked was not just about Mc Cain's stance, it was mainly concerning how he and others *wrongly* view the zygote or product of conception in an assembly line framework as it seems that you also do. This is not the proper framework in the developement of the human conceptus.

In an assembly line, things are added that add value to the product but in the case of the 5 or whatever day old conceptus you come to use as an example *everything is already there*. It just has to mature.

So, I still think you moved the goal post.

As far as *we*, like I said previously, the majority of the people DO ascribe interests to the 5 day old conceptus so you'd better find an authoritative reference or stop using the term *we* as if you have even a majority. This is really question begging to assume this anyway since it's really what we are debating about.

Hi ToNy,
There are two meanings (at least) of sentience. One is a synonym for consciousness, a transient state. The other meaning of sentience refers to a characteristic: the ability to perceive or feel - the ability to be conscious. I am using only the second meaning.

Intrinsic: by nature. Not dependent on state or circumstances.

Hi Brad B,

I used the "moved the goal post" phrase because the dictionary indicates that intrinsic is defined as " belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing".

I am fine with this definition. The essential nature and constitution of a 5 day embryo is that it can have no feelings or perceptions; it is non-sentient.

In conjunction with this, the artilce linked was not just about Mc Cain's stance, it was mainly concerning how he and others *wrongly* view the zygote or product of conception in an assembly line framework as it seems that you also do. This is not the proper framework in the developement of the human conceptus.

In an assembly line, things are added that add value to the product but in the case of the 5 or whatever day old conceptus you come to use as an example *everything is already there*. It just has to mature.

So, I still think you moved the goal post.

What do you mean *everything is already there*? This is probably the/a root of our disagreement.

As far as *we*, like I said previously, the majority of the people DO ascribe interests to the 5 day old conceptus so you'd better find an authoritative reference or stop using the term *we* as if you have even a majority.

Substitute you for we. I already said by we I mean you. You ascribe interests to all the sentient. You don't ascribe interests to any of the non-sentient. Offer a counter example - other than the very exception you seek to justify.

This is really question begging to assume this anyway since it's really what we are debating about.

Gotta tell ya: There's tremendous irony in this for me.

RonH

>>The 5-day embryo shows no signs of sentience and has not in the past.

Why should the past have any bearing on it? The embryo is in the same current situation as the man in a coma who will definitely come out of that coma in six months, but who currently has no awareness of his interests. You can't say interest depends on current awareness and then tie the coma patient's interest to past awareness. If past awareness counts, then so should future awareness. They're both equally distant from the current state, so there's no reason to count one but not the other, particularly since you place so much importance on the current state, and in that sense, they're exactly the same.

The fact is that they both have the same current interest in living, though they have no awareness of their interest because the interest is objective--that is, their interest in living, in becoming a more mature version of the creature they already are, in living the life ahead of them is something they have a real stake in.

Nobody can deny that there is something hugely at stake for the embryo--her entire life. This is objectively true. And if the embryo isn't capable of protecting this interest--and I say it's a current and not a future interest since the current life is necessary for the future life--then we are bound to protect that objective interest of the embryo for her. You haven't responded to my challenge that interests (i.e. stakes in things) are objective, not subjective, and don't depend on awareness.

Thanks for restating and reaffirming your point Amy it helped me connect a couple of thoughts on something I've been thinking about.

RonH, the fact[undisputable] is, that all a conceptus needs is to live and mature to become aware and feel pain[ie put those qualities to use]. Therefore, those qualities are intrinsic to the conceptus on day one and the use of them is just as transient as any post- uterine human that you agree have interests. Intrinsic qualities are there whether they are showing them now or in the future--they are constituent to the nature of the being--the being posseses them whether or not they are evident or not.

As far as the *we* part of this discussion, *we* in the pro-life camp DO ascribe interests to non sentient preborn BECAUSE we know they will have them as a matter of normal life progression. I dont see how I'm q-begging.

Thanks btw, for the tinyurl recommendation, I'll try it.

Hi Amy,

You said, quoting me at first:

>>The 5-day embryo shows no signs of sentience and has not in the past.

Why should the past have any bearing on it?

The embryo is in the same current situation as the man in a coma who will definitely come out of that coma in six months, but who currently has no awareness of his interests. You can't say interest depends on current awareness and then tie the coma patient's interest to past awareness.

The embryo is non-sentient - lacks (by nature not state) the capacity to feel or perceive. The comotose man has demonstrated sentience by being conscious in the past.

You haven't responded to my challenge that interests (i.e. stakes in things) are objective, not subjective, and don't depend on awareness.

I say and you agree (except for the one exception) that interests require sentience not awareness. With that correction maybe you want to prephrase the whole objective/subjective thing.

To require awareness for interest would deny the comatose their interests. It would also seem to deny any of us an interest in whatever we were not aware of at a given moment. Clearly, we can skip that. No?

Except for this exception, you like Brad, always ascribe interests only to the sentient and never to the non-sentient. Not only that: you ascribe interests in proportion to sentience.

Shall we say that an old car has an interest in its continued existence (It has everything at stake!) that must be taken into account before we crush it? Shall we say the monarch caterpillar is a flying insect?

RonH

Brad,

all a conceptus needs is to live and mature to become aware and feel pain

live and acquire new parts to become capable of being aware and feeling pain

*we* in the pro-life camp DO ascribe interests to non sentient preborn BECAUSE we know they will have them as a matter of normal life progression

I think it's because a lot of people don't know what's wrong with the SLED argument and its variants like the present one. The problem with SLED is the L. The embryo does not start with a full suite of characteristics and develop them to a higher Level. It has to acquire pretty much all its characteristics - crucial among them: sentience, key to interests and all morality. There is a big difference between having the potential to acquire a characteristic and having that characteristic.

By the way you can say "tiny url" or "tin yurl" :)

Thanks. Real life is interceding...

RonH

Ron

>> Intrinsic: by nature. Not dependent on state or circumstances.

oh

so you're saying a comatose patient does have 'intrinsic sentience' and an embryo doesn't?

Why?

If intrinsic sentience is "Not dependent on state or circumstance", then why would the state of being an embryo matter?


Hi RonH, due to the rain in So.Cal. I have more time to spend on discussion, so I am getting a pass on the real life thing today.

We disagree at this point and I think you've helped focus the disagreement on the "L" when you said:
"The embryo does not start with a full suite of characteristics and develop them to a higher Level. It has to acquire pretty much all its characteristics - crucial among them: sentience, key to interests and all morality."

Are you intending to use "acquire" and "develope" as mutually exclusive? I would like clarification. And, if you are going to keep with the definition of intrinsic[your definition to ToNy: Intrinsic: by nature. Not dependent on state or circumstances.]
which doesn't seem to allow for your latest tact.

One other thing RonH, I did notice I've missed something you've asked for because of what I focused on not what you asked for. After reading a few of the recent posts again I see you asked for 1 other example where we[or even I] ascribe interests to non-sentient beings.

I guess I missed it thinking I WAS answering your request by stating that there are a majority who do ascribe interests to the pre-sentient human conceptus. Now I see you want at least 1 other example...well, I cant think of one, honestly.

But, this admission has no real weight as a demerit to the pro-life position since I also cannot thing of another being that HAS all of the basic elements that adult humans have[easy there, ToNy] AND will make use of all functions as developement occurs and that this process was not denied to every like being that has survived the womb to make full use. We in the pro-life camp have already conceded that this is our only exception rightly so for some of the reasons given above.

brad

>> I also cannot thing of another being that HAS all of the basic elements that adult humans have

it all depends on Brad's personal definition of "adult human"

you can choose one category from the below link.
or, you can choose them all

There is only a right answer to the question if god exists and he made us.

Else, you're just campaigning for your own taxonomy -- without grounding it at all.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_(genus)

Hi ToNy, I'll only go so far with you on this.[that's why I said "easy there, ToNy] You might not remember but in one discussion 3 or maybe even 4 years ago when you began the campaign for Christians to declare a taxonomy, you commented back to me from something I wrote about what God's Word said. I was suprised that you agreed and you said that it's ok so long as we're not trying to argue for the existence of God along with the pro life argument, but since many of the pro life claims were attempting to work without that presupposition, we needed to declare an objective standard of *what* particular molecules tell us that a being is human. All well and good.

In this discussion, we are just using natural man logic--that available to all ordinary men/women.

If I were to bring the discussion of God into it, we'd never get past the use of logic and reason without establishing that our only grounds for the preconditons for knowledge and logic is an intelligent Creator.

I think one doesn't even have to go there, since there's enough legitimate prophetic proof that the Bible is supernatural that anyone who's exposed to it has no intellectual excuse for not believing everything else it claims within it's pages. Since we all have presuppositions that determine[or make logically necessary] our beliefs, I refrain from using scientific evidence since we'd have those who're born again seeing the evidence through their lens' and those unregenerated seeing the evidence through their different lens'. My point is to show the logical inconsistency in RonH's argument, that's it--like you are, I see. If I have to declare a taxonomy, I fail just like everyone else.

If I wanted to answer the question "what is a human" or "why is he valuable", I couldn't do it logically without beginning first with "In the beginning, God..."

RonH,
If I suggested that we do in fact ascribe "interests" to non-sentient things would you abandon your appeal to sentience?
Not that I think anyone needs to prove we ascribe interest to inanimate objects in order to show the flaw with your argument. Here's why.
At what point does a human being develop sentience? When along the continuum does it happen? What changes, scientifically, that previous to that point the human did not have sentience and then after that point it did? You see, you are just asserting that sentience is the quality a human must have in order to be deserving of protection from being unjustly killed.
My argument is an argument that is based on the fact that even if sentience is something we develop that is not a good enough reason to deny any human the right to life because it is just one of any number of attributes/abilities etc. we develop along the way. And our right to life is something that is intrinsic to us because of what we are, it is not instrumental because of how developed we are.

Anyway, I believe we do ascribe "interests" to non sentient things like for example animals or habitats or even the earth itself. We talk about not mistreating animals even though they have neither the ability to rationally fear pain or death nor care except as far as instinct goes. In the case of habitats, we talk about not doing damage to habitats because of the interests of the different non sentient forms of life that depend on them. And much the same could be said for the earth and for life (in general) itself on the earth (both of which are non sentient).

What say you?

Brad,

>> "If I wanted to answer the question "what is a human"...I couldn't do it logically without beginning first with "In the beginning, God..."

so true

the vast majority of prolifers do NOT understand this.

They think the question "what is a human" can be "answered with science"

No one at str agrees with you brad.

but i do

so next time a post comes up about "scientist proving when a human life starts" or some such nonsense, I think you should speak up with me.

and be sure to tell people about my website at Josh Brahm

ToNy,

I says pardon!!
Scientist can not tell us when a human life starts? What?
How do you define a human life?

>> How do you define a human life?

How do you define 'planet'?

The IAU says pluto is not a planet.

Do you agree? Using science, please prove them right or wrong.

Careful there, Matt. ToNy will get us both in a quagmire if we let him.

ToNY, I dont question the human-ness of the product of conception of a human man/woman. The point when a new unique life begins is at conception--science has given reasonable certainty of this--that it happens when conception produces a unique life. Your taxonomy quandry is not something I would want to get into since I'm not convinced that it's profitable. It's a tempest in a teapot on a boat afloat on a calm ocean. The world operates pretty well working on the assumption that what we call human beings produce little human beings when they mate--that enough taxonomy for me.

Since it does take the notion of God to consider man more valuable than any other similar beings, even those with only a bare few percentage points in DNA, I wont try to justify special treatment toward man by use of science. I'll consider even the youngest products of human conception to be valuable a priori because God says man is so, not because science can or cannot differentiate similar samples of life form.

If someone isn't ok with that, there's a lot of other less self evident assuming going on that I could point to that'd show their inconsistency.

ToNy,
Don't change the subject. I'm not talking about planets and I don't have a stake in which planets are or aren't planets. I don't define planets, I just don't care.
When life begins, seems to me fairly obvious. What differentiates humans from any other life form is a separate issue and you made a bit of a backhanded claim about scientists not being able to prove when a human life begins, did you not? I'm asking you to clarify your definition of a human life so that maybe I'll be able to grasp where you're coming from. Is that too much to ask?

Brad B,

>> science has given reasonable certainty of this--that it happens when conception produces a unique life.

really? whats the scientific definition of life? who wrote it down? How do i know this is the true definition of life? Can i use my definition of life or do i have to use yours?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Definitions

>> Your taxonomy quandry is not something I would want to get into since I'm not convinced that it's profitable.

its profitable in that it forces a prolife opponent to realize that taxonomies are not 'objective truths' and hence, it forces them to realize what you wrote:

"If I wanted to answer the question "what is a human"...I couldn't do it logically without beginning first with "In the beginning, God..."

matt,

the point of the planet example was to illustrate that taxonomies are not 'discovered truths' of the universe.

Rather, they are just opinions that someone wrote down in an effort to organize the universe in a fashion that, as Brad said, works "pretty well".

But does Carl Linnaeus' taxonomy match God's taxonomy?

i dunno

Brad,

Are you intending to use "acquire" and "develope" as mutually exclusive? I would like clarification

Development has two meanings. 1) the appearance of something new 2) a change in something that exists. The first is a synonym for acquire the second is not. I'm using using the second.

Switch to the first meaning and you are equivocating.

RonH

Matt,
You said,

And our right to life is something that is intrinsic to us because of what we are, it is not instrumental because of how developed we are.

We (you) ascribe rights only to the sentient and never to the non-sentient. Offer me a counter example (other than the case in question).

Are you really willing to enter into a discussion about where sentinence appears?

RonH

Hi RonH, if one acquires an ability AND that ability gives them certain benefits, when one loses that ability why does the benefit still stay? I think you'd help us all if you'd address Amy's good challenge to you--copied/pasted here:

"You haven't responded to my challenge that interests (i.e. stakes in things) are objective, not subjective, and don't depend on awareness."

I think you are playing fast and loose with some definitions and it's making it hard to be clearly understood.

Hi Brad,

if one acquires an ability AND that ability gives them certain benefits, when one loses that ability why does the benefit still stay?

Sounds like another way of saying Why do we ascribe interests to the sleeping? Is that what you are getting at?

I repeated to Amy that it's not awareness but sentience that counts and asked if she wanted to modify her challenge in light of that.

That said, the objective/subjective thing is just a distraction. If the non-sentient have no interests and the 5DE is non-sentient then the 5DE has no interests. It does not depend on whether interests are objective, subjective, green, blue, or subterranean.

I think you are playing fast and loose with some definitions...

I don't want to do that. Which definitions? I'll correct it.

... and it's making it hard to be clearly understood.

I guess you mean you're not sure you understand me? I don't want that either. I'll try to put the whole thing as clearly as possible in a single comment soon.

RonH

RonH

>> Intrinsic: by nature. Not dependent on state or circumstances.

oh

so you're saying a comatose patient does have 'intrinsic sentience' and an embryo doesn't?

Why?

If intrinsic sentience is "Not dependent on state or circumstance", then why would the state of being an embryo matter?

ToNy, you said:

so you're saying a comatose patient does have 'intrinsic sentience' and an embryo doesn't?

Why?

Comatose, conscious, sleeping, and waking are states only the sentient by nature can have. 'Sentient by nature' = 'intrinsically sentient' = 'sentient'.

A 5DE is by nature insentient = intrinsically insentient = insentient. It can't have any of the states (above) the sentient can have.

If intrinsic sentience is "Not dependent on state or circumstance", then why would the state of being an embryo matter?

If I melt ice or condense steam I am changing the state of water. It's still water - intrinsically... by nature. When a baby is delivered that is a change of state. What happens in the 9 months prior to delivery is more than a change of state; it is a change in of nature.

RonH

>> When a baby is delivered that is a change of state

the act of its toe leaving the vagina changes its "intrinsic state"

what if you shove it back in the mom?

Does the state change back?

>>Except for this exception, you like Brad, always ascribe interests only to the sentient and never to the non-sentient.

In this discussion about your claim, I ascribe interest to a being that has something at stake. Isn't that how you described it? The embryo has an entire life at stake. This is an objective fact, making the interest in living objective, regardless of either current abilities or the awareness of what's at stake. The embryo doesn't need to know what it means to live in order to make living an objective interest.

Do you deny there's an objective stake here? Do you deny the fact that life is objectively at stake? To say that current (or for some reason, past, but not future) sentience is required is to arbitrarily make this objective stake subjective in order to deny the objective reality--as if the fact that the embryo doesn't know she is alive changes the fact that she is a living human being. No matter what the embryo thinks or feels, there's something objectively, and currently, at stake for her.

>>Not only that: you ascribe interests in proportion to sentience.

Only in one way, I suppose. That is, there is a type of being that has "interests" (human beings) and a type that doesn't (plants). Human beings are the type of being that has a great, personal, objective stake in living. Plants are not the kind of being that has a stake in anything.

But I do not try to determine within the type of being that has interests--between human beings--which person has more to lose in his or her life in order to determine who should be given greater or fewer rights. And I certainly would not make the claim that a human being gains or loses rights as his awareness changes. As Sam pointed out, this leads to great absurdities if the principle is followed.

But I'm not sure if that answers your question because it seems you are changing your argument from "having a stake in things" to current sentience (except when you refer to past awareness). But you need to give me a good argument why current sentience has anything to do with real interest. My whole argument is that an objective current stake in things exists in human beings, regardless of any current ability to express any particular aspect inherent to their nature. The reason why the stake is so high for human beings at any age is because they're human beings, and as you and I know, we're the type of being that has a huge stake in living. And as I said, it seems to me that we should recognize that objective stake and protect it for others who aren't able to protect it for themselves.

>>so you're saying a comatose patient does have 'intrinsic sentience' and an embryo doesn't? Why?

That is a perfect question, Tony. In both cases, it's intrinsic. In both cases, the human being is unable to express that quality of its nature. No difference.

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