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January 15, 2015

Comments

Awe the good ol days. :)

Alan,

This is a side point but at Time 4:29 you said:

"The Law of Biogenesis simply states this 'Species reproduce after their own kind.' In other words if you have two dogs that come together and mate, they're gonna produce another dog."

Actually the Law of Biogenesis is commonly stated as simply "life comes from life." I can't find a source for your claim about "species." [Does anyone have a source?] This seems to come up a lot on Christian blogs... Louis Pasteur was just a few years younger than Darwin and contemporary biologist, of course, know better. Because, Alan, if evolution is true, then this could be your great...great grandmother. E.g. Homo Sapiens eventually came from Australopithecus Afarensis of course.

Now, let's recall Amy's challenge in her blog entry:

"How would you argue that we can objectively know when a new human being comes into existence?"

I was watching this video waiting for you to come to this question.

At Time 4:01 you said:

"We can know that the unborn is a human type of being because if you were to do a test...after the moment of conception, you would discover if you were to look at its DNA, it would say decisively that it is a human type of being."

I would be curious to know the particulars of which test you're referring to. But the original question was how can we "objectively know" that this construct is a human being.

Alan, if you have a given sample of DNA, you can "objectively know" the percentage by which it differs from another sample of DNA. But the words "homo sapien" are not printed in the DNA strand of course!

The only thing that we can objectively know is how much our sample varies from a benchmark DNA sample.

Now of course, the question is: Who's DNA are we going to use as our benchmark?

And how much is our sample allowed to vary from our benchmark, before Alan deems that our sample is no longer human?

Is 6% the "objectively true" number? 5%?

Alan, can you give us the "objectively true" number please?

And which sample of DNA shall we use as our benchmark? Can I choose the benchmark or do I have to use yours? What if I choose Craig Venter as my benchmark? Alan, how much is your sample allowed to vary from Craig Venter's DNA, before you deem your sample to not be human?

(And i'm curious how you would you respond to the genetic evidence that you have Neanderthal DNA in you?)

Is the proper benchmark DNA the kind of thing that can be "discovered" via the Scientific Method, and exists as a mind-independent property of the cosmos?

Is the category "human" the kind of thing that can be "discovered" via the Scientific Method? Or is it just a useful abstraction?

As an illustration, consider the category "planet."

In 2006 it was deemed that the matter that made up Pluto was no longer of the category called "planet."

Now, to borrow the wording from Amy's question:

"How would you argue that we can objectively know when a newly discovered object is of the category 'planet'?"

The only thing we could do, is knock on the doors of the International Astronomical Union in Paris, ask them for their definition of planet, and see if our newly discovered object matches their criteria.

But does their planet criteria "objectively exist" as a property of the cosmos?

Or, is it merely a useful taxonomy--simply created to help astronomers organize the universe.

I think the latter is correct.

I think this is the case with the category "homo sapien" too, of course.

Here's some wiki links for further reading on the Philosophy of Biology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_biology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Definitions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organism#Etymology

Tony-

For starters, welcome back, it's been quite a while.

Alan's general point about the lack of surprise parents have when noticing that their child is human is what he was using as an example of the law of biogenesis.

Let's suppose, and I think you are right, that Alan unintentionally misused the term "law of biogenesis" to categorize this regularity.

Does that, in any way, undercut his observations about the regularity? I mean, human parents do have human offspring. Right?

And what exactly, does your observation about evolution show? That a particular embryo might not be human because it might be the next step in the evolutionary process?

Would that make it OK to kill it?

On the DNA issue, we return to your favorite hobby-horse that there is no DNA-based definition of "human being". Which, though probably true, has very little weight in this discussion.

Are the corner cases where scientists might be a bit fuzzy on whether we're looking at a human or at something that's an awful lot like a human, but won't mate with one, enough to make any difference in the abortion debate?

No, of course they aren't.

To put it another way, suppose that "human" is just a useful abstraction. (Something which, I have argued earlier, would have very little to do with its being non-objective.)

Does that make it OK to kill babies?

WisdomLover,

>> "Let's suppose, and I think you are right, that Alan unintentionally misused the term "law of biogenesis"

Like I said, I think this is just a side issue. It seems a lot of Christian blogs use this term the same way. Yet, as far as I can tell, they appear to all be using some appended claim. For it doesn't mention anything about species. It would be interesting to see the etymology here.

>> "suppose that 'human' is just a useful abstraction."

Ok. Let's suppose that 'human' is merely a useful abstraction.

Then the claim "X is a human" is merely as "objectively true" as the claim "Pluto is a planet."

Which is what I wish to show.

However, that's not what the STR staff mean when they say "objectively true" of course.

>> "On the DNA issue, we return to your favorite hobby-horse that there is no DNA-based definition of "human being". Which, though probably true, has very little weight in this discussion."

Unfortunately, I firmly believe that most Christians genuinely DO INDEED believe that there is a "DNA-based definition of 'human being'."

Ask around.

This is primarily because they simply don't have a background in biology and they seem to really believe that there is a basement somewhere in the bowels of some university biology department--which houses the "master DNA code" for ever species on the planet.

A facility similar to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in France

>.<

Allan: Thanks for all your hard work and persuasive arguments for the sanctity of human life. I follow your work in general and I've learned a lot about how to engage the culture on the relevant and difficult issues of our day. Keep up the good work.

Unfortunately, I firmly believe that most Christians genuinely DO INDEED believe that there is a "DNA-based definition of 'human being'."
Well, I think there is a DNA based definition of "human being" in the same way that there's a hair-based definition of "bald being". Yes there are some vagaries on the edges. At most, this simply shows that the notion of species does not reduce to DNA alone. which I happen to think is a good thing.

But, honestly, so what?

The corner cases are not going to problematize the result: It's still not OK to kill babies.

Which of Alan's arguments is rendered unsound by any of your musings?

The answer is "none".

Then the claim "X is a human" is merely as "objectively true" as the claim "Pluto is a planet."

Which is what I wish to show.

However, that's not what the STR staff mean when they say "objectively true" of course.

"X is a human" isn't a claim at all, not until you specify who or what X refers to.

So let's try "Tony is a human" is that objectively true in the same way that "Pluto is a planet" is objectively true?

Well, no, because "Pluto is a planet" is objectively false.

It is, however, objectively true in the same way that "Venus is a planet" is objectively true.

Venus fits a well-worn definition of "planet" (a definition that admittedly has corner cases and may have been chosen only for its usefulness in facilitating communication). And its fitting that definition isn't up to anyone's personal feelings on the matter. What is more, Venus isn't even close to one of the corner cases. And Venus' not being close to any of the corner cases isn't up to anyone's personal feelings on the matter.

Tony fits a well-worn definition of "human" (a definition that admittedly has corner cases and may have been chosen only for its usefulness in facilitating communication). And his fitting that definition isn't up to anyone's personal feelings on the matter. What is more, Tony isn't even close to one of the corner cases. And Tony's not being close to any of the corner cases isn't up to anyone's personal feelings on the matter.

I happen to think that this is exactly what STR's staff thinks.

I don't know whether Alan reads these comments, but perhaps he, or Amy, would like to clarify what their own views are?

WisdomLover,

Recall Amy's original challenge question:

"How would you argue that we can objectively know when a new human being comes into existence?"

Do you really believe that the definition for determining which constructs are 'human' was (as you say) merely "chosen only for its usefulness in facilitating communication" ?

Because that's what I believe about the definition of human too.

And that is what I wish to show.

Alan and Amy don't agree though.

ToNy what would you consider to be a proper definition of a "human being"? I understand, and please correct me if I'm wrong here, that you disagree with Alan on this. So can you provide a definition you agree with? Thanks in advance

ToNy,

The "Human DNA" bell rang, and you salivated. Pavlov would be proud.

Nice to see you're still on the scene.

volker,

>> "what would you consider to be a proper definition of a "human being"

If evolution is true, then the definition is purely subjective.

Here's a thought experiment:

Suppose you had a picture of Alan's mother.
And suppose you had a picture of Alan's mother's mother.
And suppose you had a picture of Alan's mother's mother's mother.

In fact, suppose you had a picture of ALL of Alan's predecessors--going back for 3.6 billion years.

Now, stack your pictures up in a tall pile.

You'll get a large pile of pictures that will look something like this.

http://i.imgur.com/Mv8Xx3m.jpg

Now, your job is simply to draw a little red tick mark at each point in the continuum of photographs--where one species stopped, and another species began.

I hope it is clear that this is a wholly subjective enterprise.

So ...you don't have one? No intrinsic value? No equality, no value ....purely a matter of view/opinion? Sorry, but I'm German. If you believe that there is no standard that we can agree upon what's a human being is/can be defined and how we value "it", then you basically just repeating the social-darwinistic stand of the early 20th century. That stand is not only horrible but also illegal in Germany. If you are stating that evolution/naturalism (secularism? ) teaches us that human rights/values are nothing but a subjective fairy tale, then why would any Human Being ever follow it? Do you see human value and equality as a purely religious notion that shouldn't be adhered to in the real world? Is it all just a struggle, like Darwin described it or Hitler? Nothing but a selfish gene? ....if that's the case, you shouldn't waste your time on online debates but take care of the selfish needs of your genes instead ;-)

ToNy,

I hope it is clear that this is a wholly subjective enterprise.

Let's use a crime scene as an example. Detectives walk up on this suspected crime scene. There is blood everywhere. All over the floor. All over the walls.

Now, the question is: What kind of blood is it? Is it canine blood? Pig blood?

The blood splatter expert analyses the cast off, drop patterns, etc. and comes to the conclusion that a crime, did in fact occur. However, the DNA specialist would like to run the blood to determine what kind of blood it is. The DNA specialist wants confirmation.

The test results come back - -it is in fact human.

Would you make the case that we do not know whether a human was murdered or not? Would you say the blood test was flawed? If you were the police department would you need more evidence as to whether a crime had taken place?

It’s purely subjective, as you have laid out, would you pursue the case based on a totally subjective view of whether or not something illegal happened (i.e. a human being was murdered)?

volker,

Suppose that philosophical argument P incited 10 million murderous Germans.

This says nothing about whether philosophical argument P is true or not.

KWM,

>> "The DNA specialist wants confirmation. The test results come back - -it is in fact human."

The DNA test can only tell you how much a DNA sample at the crime scene differs from a DNA sample on file.

So how much is the DNA sample at the crime scene allowed to differ from the DNA sample on file, before KWM deems that the crime scene sample is not human?

Also, can I choose the benchmark DNA sample for our file? Or do I have to use yours?

ToNy,

How about this. I'll offer non-exclusive list of features for identifying humans. You find the holes in the feature-set, and we'll iterate until you're satisfied with the resulting criterion.

I aim to optimize precision (PPV), not recall (sensitivity), so we may miss a few edge cases. However, if we can establish a set of features that can be shown to apply to a subset of the cohort of organisms we colloquially call "humans", then perhaps we can then return this hijacked thread to the discussion Alan began.

A human includes any organism:

1) Whose zygote ultimately derived from male and female gametes that, in turn, were ultimately derived from organism(s) with the capacity to pass the Turing test;

and,

2) Whose median somatic cell DNA base-pair count is within the range of 3.1-3.3 billion;

and,

3) Whose median somatic cell chromosome count is in the range of 44 to 49.

Let me know (1) if any living organism satisfying these criteria would not represent what a we colloquially deem a "human", and (2) the nature of the inaccuracy.

I hope it is clear that this is a wholly subjective enterprise.
If evolution is true, then the definition is purely subjective.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

ToNy,

Also, can I choose the benchmark DNA sample for our file? Or do I have to use yours?

What benchmark should the PD use to determine whether to pursue a suspect or not?

Brent and Martha are both human beings.

They got married, and later Martha had a baby with Brent.

What sort of creature is that baby?

Tony claims that we just don't know. Because DNA.

Species distinctions are utterly subjective. That means that we can call it a tadpole if we like, and no one can gainsay us.

Here's a thought Tony. If your DNA-based notion of "human" is such that the distinction between human and tadpole is in doubt, the solution is not for everybody to accept your view and despair ever of distinguishing humans from tadpoles. The solution is for you to drop that ridiculous notion of "human".

Same ol' ToNy...:-) I hope to see further from the Son of Adam post.

I think ToNy is up for a technical discussion on the finer points of DNA, but we'll have to wait and see if he'd engage the pursuit to have a working definition, or just continue with his which carbon atoms...etc...what percentage of dna conformity...etc schtick.

WisdomLover

>> "Species distinctions are utterly subjective. That means that we can call it a tadpole if we like, and no one can gainsay us."

Indeed. For the number of species (little red marks) between tadpole and Alan could indeed be zero in our thought experiment:

http://i.imgur.com/Mv8Xx3m.jpg

Or the number of species could be millions.

Why? Do you disagree?

Can you tell me how I might know the objectively true number of species that have existed between Alan and his tadpole-like ancestors?

I wasn't asking about your thought experiment Tony (which, btw, is utterly irrelevant). I was asking about Brent and Martha's baby.

If your position is that we literally cannot tell the difference between it and a tadpole, then your position is absurd.

Why? Do you disagree?

Brad B

>> "we'll have to wait and see if he'd engage the pursuit to have a working definition"

i don't think the definition objectively exists.

So my response to Amy's question: "How would you argue that we can objectively know when a new human being comes into existence?" is:

'This cannot be objectively known.'

KWM

>> "What benchmark should the PD use to determine whether to pursue a suspect or not?"

Indeed that is the question.

Suppose our benchmark DNA sample is the white biologist Craig Venter. And suppose that your lieutenant has chosen a threshold of variance so small, that it excludes races like the Siberian Eskimos.

He claims that they are not human since their DNA is not similar enough to the benchmark. And hence, they did not pass the human test.

How would you argue with your lieutenant, and convince him that he has chosen the "objectively wrong" amount of variance for his DNA test. And how would you convince him that KWM is in possession of the "objectively true" amount of variance allowed?

This would be useful because then KWM would have solved the species problem and you could be famous.

Other distinctions Tony can't make:

1. Acorn/Oak...God only knows what Chip and Dale are storing up.

2. Chicken/Egg...Is this an ommlette or a hotwing? I can't tell.

3. Being in my house/being outside of my house...Are you a burglar, or a bystander? Don't know...better shoot, just to be sure.

4. Tall/Short...Should you be a jockey, or a power forward? There's just no way of knowing.

5. Fat/thin...Does that dress make you look fat? Well...

WisdomLover

>> "If your position is that we literally cannot tell the difference between it and a tadpole, then your position is absurd."

We can observe differences in any two given constructs.

For example, a tadpole has fewer atoms than Alan does.

But when it comes to the practice of assigning clusters of atoms into categories, this is merely a matter of how one chooses to organize the cosmos. The definition for determining which constructs are 'human' is mostly just a matter of utility and (as you say above) merely "chosen only for its usefulness in facilitating communication."

Son of Adam,

Well zygotes don't pass the Turing Test of course. So you'd have to clear up that.

But recall the challenge question:

"How would you argue that we can objectively know when a new human being comes into existence?"

So Adam, how would you argue that your criteria is the "objectively true" list that one is obliged to use?

Could it be the case that your definition of human is no more objectively true or false, than the I.A.U.'s definition of planet?

All terms are chosen only for their usefulness in facilitating communication.

It's called speaking an language.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If you ever find yourself in a debate on abortion, and the other side is arguing that we can never know what a human being is - you have won.

KWM,

If it is the case that this is obvious to you, then can you tell me how you might go about determining which organism was Alan's last non-human ancestor?

e.g. where would you put that final red line that divides the humans from the non-humans in our thought experiment:

http://i.imgur.com/Mv8Xx3m.jpg

It's called speaking an language.
Yikes!

Which I wasn't doing here.

It is called, of course, speaking a language.

WisdomLover,

Well, you said that the statement:

>> "'Pluto is a planet' is objectively false."

Given that the definition was changed in 2006, you must believe that the statement 'Pluto is a planet' was objectively TRUE back then.

So it's false now.
But it was true 9 years ago.

So, for WisdomLover, objective truth is simply relative to the whims of the body responsible for scribing the definition.

So, by your logic, if a governing body wrote down a ruleset that excluded, say, Alan's daughter from the set of humans, then the statement:

"Alan's daughter is a human"

would indeed be objectively false.

Again, Alan and Amy would disagree with you, of course.

If it is the case that this is obvious to you, then can you tell me how you might go about determining which organism was Alan's last non-human ancestor?
KWM is under no rational obligation to do this in order to insist that human is an objective category.

No matter how much you wish you could obfuscate the issue, the question of whether it's OK to kill a baby today is not decided by what happened to some pond scum 10 trillion years ago.

Tony is shocked! SHOCKED! that the sounds and symbols we use can change in their meaning.

Yes, the term "planet" changed its meaning.

So before 2006, "Pluto is a planet" expressed a proposition that was (and remains) objectively true.

After 2006, "Pluto is a planet" expresses a completely different proposition that is (and always was) objectively false.

Could the same thing happen to the word "human" so that in 2014 "Brent and Martha's baby is human" expresses an objectively true proposition but in, say, 2020, "Brent and Martha's baby is human" expresses an objectively false proposition?

Only a fool would say that it couldn't.

I'm relatively sure that what would perturb Alan, Amy and myself if the word "human" did change its meaning is not some fond attachment we have for the connection between the symbol "human" and critters like Brent, Martha and their baby.

The problem would be that the change in the meaning would probably be politically motivated to bamboozle people into agreeing with the false proposition that it is OK to kill Brent and Martha's baby.

@ToNy said:

    "Well zygotes don't pass the Turing Test of course. So you'd have to clear up that."

Please re-parse the phrase, "Whose zygote ultimately derived from male and female gametes that, in turn, were ultimately derived from organism(s) with the capacity to pass the Turing test."

Organisms that create gametes can pass the Turing test.

Son of Adam,

For example, if someone handed you a zygote and said: "What species is this? We don't know anything about its parents." then your criteria could not be used. Because we have no information about whether or not its parents could pass the Turing Test.

It would also depend on which Turing Test you use. For, Alan Turing's original game only called for a man asking questions to a woman and a computer. So your human selection criteria could only be used on women not men--if you use Turing's original specifications.

And your criteria would further have to be modified when a human genome is successfully printed in a DNA synthesizer and substantiated. For surely, the DNA synthesizer can't pass the Turing Test!

But recall the challenge question:

"How would you argue that we can objectively know when a new human being comes into existence?"

So Adam, how would you argue that your criteria is the "objectively true" list that one is obliged to use?

Could it be the case that your definition of human is no more objectively true or false, than the I.A.U.'s definition of planet?

Wisdomlover,

>> "So before 2006, "Pluto is a planet" expressed a proposition that was (and remains) objectively true. After 2006, "Pluto is a planet" expresses a completely different proposition that is (and always was) objectively false. Could the same thing happen to the word "human" so that in 2014 "Brent and Martha's baby is human" expresses an objectively true proposition but in, say, 2020, "Brent and Martha's baby is human" expresses an objectively false proposition? Only a fool would say that it couldn't."

I guess Alan and Amy and the vast majority of the prolife movement are "fools" then.

For even if every scientist in the world adopted a definition that excluded the pro-lifers children from the category human being, they would still insist that it was actually objectively true that their children were indeed human beings.

WL,

A quote from a comment on Edward Feser's blog as the purely subjective end of regress which ToNy employs comes into focus:


"I think materialism can lead to a strange regress: fictional objects, fictional counterfactuals, fictional mathematics, fictional free will, until everything is fictional and we're back floating in a jar, hallucinating the world. Perhaps eliminative materialism is the final absurdity in the regress -- eliminating even the mind."


Is this a planet I'm perceiving beneath my feet or could it be a tadpole there full of blue, blue oceans? Perhaps I'll merely float in this jar and wait for two dogs to birth me a new rose bush.


Mind and ToNy's eliminative regress:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/01/post-intentional-depression.html


The escape hatch of language and meaning is the nihilist's last hope as he equivocates and employs both language and meaning - and an incoherent metaphysics - to thus escape.


Were such a metaphysics coherent I'd be tempted to give ToNy a fair hearing - only - it is clear that nihilism awaits - and thus absurdity, as he has made that fatal move which can salvage neither mind nor meaning, not even his own, as such are eliminated in regress.

If materialism: ToNy cannot be right, nor wrong, nor anything - for the word "meaning" is meaningless - in regress. And it is the regress ToNy appeals to. And so the regress it will be. Else equivocation's incoherence.

If God: Well then language ends in meaning as essentialism merely reflects the True, the Lovely, the Good, in regress. And so the regress it will be. Void of equivocation's incoherence.


It's been several minutes now that I've been floating in this jar - waiting for those two dogs over there to birth me a new rose bush. Life + Life = Life. Monkey + Zebra = Death. Evolution thus motions. If such motion is unguided then such is wholly un-subjective as a whole world effervesces into being. If such motion is guided then such is wholly un-subjective as a whole world effervesces into being. If Mind and Meaning "do" and/or "can" in truth "actually" capture, reflect, said motion, then such is the way of modal world making semantics and Language "does" / "can" capture The-Real. Each after its own kind is what Scripture states. Evolution seems to agree. 2015's Man + that Woman from about 50K years ago (some say more, some say less) births Life and not Death. If such is unguided then such is un-subjective and there is no rose bush birthed from that Male/Female. If such is guided then such is un-subjective and there is no rose bush birthed from that Male/Female. The question is where is the "locus" at which the regression of Language and Meaning "ends". But I shall wait a little more now, floating here in this jar, for those two dogs to birth me my rose bush.

ToNy,

It's nice to see you back ~~ it has been quite awhile.

I'm unclear on your "if I were a Christian" statement. Its metaphysics don't line up. Equivocating on subjective / objective there amid Theism's end of regress vs. Materialism's eliminative regress seems to be confusing your regressions. And that is peculiar since you are appealing to regress for the locus of this thread's ultimate meaning-maker.

For even if every scientist in the world adopted a definition that excluded the pro-lifers children from the category human being, they would still insist that it was actually objectively true that their children were indeed human beings.
No Tony.

It is true that they would fight against changing the definition of "human" just as they fight against changing the definition of "marriage". But in the end, even they will admit that definitions can get changed.

And if, against all their protestations, the definition of human did change so that their children no longer fell under that definition, I can guarantee you also that they would not stop defending their children's right to life. They would just do so in different words.

For example, I do not think that Amy and Alan have any particular skin in this set of symbols:

Ungeborene bearn béoþ eormencynn
Even though that is what pro-lifers would be arguing for as objectively true if this debate had been held 1000 years ago.

Tell you what Tony, I will concede the entire point to your superior intellect if you can give me one word, the definition of which cannot change.

@ToNy siad:

    For example, if someone handed you a zygote and said: "What species is this? We don't know anything about its parents." then your criteria could not be used

Assume the three features I listed are present.

I clearly stated I aimed to optimize precision, not recall, and provided features that would identify a cohort of organisms.

Please answer the question: what would you label the organisms that meet all three of the previously listed criteria?

ToNy has been weighed, measured and found wanting.

It's curious, that Tony has such a reaction to SCBLHRM.

I mean, it's easy enough to skip over the posts of people who annoy you. I sure do. (Boris comes to mind, and Sebastian was getting there.) But Tony actually reads SCBLHRM's, even though he has now said that he would literally go to hell instead of heaven to avoid him. At least, so he claims.

I read SCBLHRM's posts too, but, then, he doesn't annoy me. I can't say that I always follow what he's saying, which is why I don't always reply. I think he knows that, and I don't think it hurts his feelings that I admit that. But he comes up with some really well worded gems often enough that I think it worth it to see what he has to say. Also he obviously has a very gracious nature.

I removed Tony's rude comments. Come on, Tony.

It seems impossible to question the scientific validity of offspring. A + A = A. A + B = gibberish. Human plus human = human. Etc.

Brad B linked a nice page in this topic's other thread to that end.

Person vs. Human may or may not differ. But we don't tell biology what A and A yield. We merely describe. Observe. It tells us. And God it.

Each reaction (kind) after its own reaction (kind). Product + Product = Yield.

If the materialist wishes to dive into meaning's / mind's eliminative regress to escape objectivity then fine. His ultimate meaning maker finds its death in such opaque ends. But then - no A, no B, no chemistry, no physics, no reactions, and no yields.

Fictional mathematics.

Unless Mind.

Mathematics is a costly price tag - if one is willing to pay such a price for one's metaphysics then, well, that merits a forthcoming "argument" rather than bare assertion.


If you can't come up with agreed upon definitions, any discussion is pretty much a waste of time. ToNy has given a perfect example for it. He is not willing to debate because he is not willing to take a definite stand. It may be entertaining, but it is in no way productive or even enlightening. ToNy if u just crave some sort of a philosophical match up with Alan, I suggest you send him a personal message and ask for a play date. If you want to seriously debate elective abortion, take a clear stand. This a serious issue. If you want to argue it like "I don't believe it's even issue. .." and take nothing but a relativistic approach on an issue that terminates millions, we are ending up discussing the severity of the Holocaust with somebody who claimed that it "probably never happened". The defense rests

Good point volker.

Tony seems to think that when the boundary between two distinct concepts is vague, that it is impossible to objectively define either concept.

Armed with this 'principle' one could argue that the Holocaust never occurred because the boundary between life and death is one of those vague boundaries, so, obviously, we cannot objectively say that Hitler made 12 million people dead.

Tony's 'principle' is, of course, absurd.

Amy!

Ahhh you deleted my post!

scblhrmmmmmmmm!!!!

Son of Adam,

Well if you don't care about the holes in your definition then why dont you just say the definition of human is:

"Anything that differs from Craig Venter's DNA by less than 6%."

This will cover most of it. The folks at the Neanderthal Genome Project won't agree of course. And you'd have some really weird looking humans walkin around. And it would most definitely include extinct organisms that are currently classified as a different species.

But if the holes don't bother you then this will do of course.

But recall the challenge question: "How would you argue that we can objectively know when a new human being comes into existence?"

So Adam, how would you argue that your criteria is the "objectively true" list that one is obliged to use? Could it be the case that your definition of human is no more objectively true or false, than the I.A.U.'s definition of planet?

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