Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition”

“Man! I am BORED out of my GOURD!”

As one might expect, abortion is one of the topics that can be relied upon to spark a lively discussion every time it is raised on Ethics Alarms. This is because abortion is a true ethics dilemma, where valid ethical considerations point in opposite directions. In addition, this ethics dilemma cannot easily be solved by balancing, because determining which of the ethical values involved, personal autonomy and the primacy of human life, should hold the superior priority involves resolving conflicting definitions.Complicating things further is the fact that the three main ethics systems—reciprocity, Kantian ethics, and Utilitarianism— reach disparate conclusions.

The subject of this intense and extensive comment by Zoltar Speaks! is another commenters assertion that the unborn do not qualify as “persons” within the protection of the law because they do not, as far as we know, have self awareness and are incapable of thought. I personally detest this argument, but I’ll leave the exposition to Zoltar. He got extra credit for beginning with the trademark quote that Ethics Alarms uses to designate a “Popeye.

Here is the Zoltar Speaks! Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition:

 

“I ain’t gonna take it, ’cause I can’t take no more!”

My understanding from your comments is that you don’t agree with a lot of what abortion activists use as arguments. However, you’re regurgitating intentionally modified long standing definitions to fit an agenda instead of using the definitions as they are. You are not parsing the words of an existing definition, you are not simply misunderstanding an existing definition, you are literally adding things to the definition of “person” that do not exist in the definition.

You are saying that a person is not a person until they can think and feel, and that is by definition false (see below.)

You say that “intelligent, informed pro-choice advocates” talk about thinking and feeling is when a person becomes a person.  I don’t care who presents that as an argument, it’s false. It is literally uninformed, and since you used it in this way it is literally showing a low level of intelligence. It’s bastardizing the English language into agenda-driven rhetoric:

Bastardizing: corrupt or debase (something such as a language or art form), typically by adding new elements.

I looked up as many definitions for the word “person”  as I could find and I found an obvious common thread: Person: A human being regarded as an individual. A human individual. A human being. A human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing. An individual human. The common thread is human and individual. Tthere is nothing in any definition I could find that could be construed as holding that a person is only a person if he or she can think and feel.

 Human Being, furthermore, is a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance. Is an unborn child a human being? Yes.

Individual is a single human being as distinct from a group, class, or family. Is an unborn human being an individual? Also yes..

Is an unborn human being a person, then? Yes. The argument that an unborn child is not a person until they can think and feel is literally false.

I’ve been thinking about what you’ve been talking about as you have been trying to define the point where an unborn human being becomes a “person” as being when they can think and feel.  I’ve begun to lean towards the conclusion that as you and others arbitrarily define a point where you think life begins, you think it’s justifiable  to end the potential of the growing human being as long as it is before that predefined arbitrary point. Is this not trying to distinguish  being alive vs. not being alive in such a way that abortion can’t possibly be “murder” (as some choose call it) since it has been conveniently defined as neither a person nor “living”?

WHAT IF YOU ARE ALL WRONG?

What is life? Life: The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

Does a fertilized egg have life?  Yes, but the viability of that life, as in continued growth of that life, is only possible after the implantation of the fertilized egg.

Alive: (of a person, animal, or plant) living, not dead. Having life.

Is a fertilized egg alive. Yes.

What is death? Death: the action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism. Is abortion causing death, yes.

Kill: cause the death of (a person, animal, or other living thing). Does abortion kill? Yes.

Murder: the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Is abortion murder? Abortion is currently legal under certain conditions; therefore, abortion is not murder.

There will be those that attack this opinion implying that it should be ignored because it’s nothing but semantics; to those who think that, you need to understand that words have real meaning, and when that meaning is bastardized, the constructs of the English language begin to break apart. Then no one knows what anyone else is talking about.

Lastly…

My opinion on abortion has morphed over the years, As I have matured and grown to understand more, my opinion is currently…

…The end result of pro-life is literally life.

…The end result of pro-choice is literally death. A mother making a pro-choice choice has to live the rest of her life with choosing to kill a human being over allowing that human being to live.

…Abortion is literally choosing to end the life of a human being when it is most vulnerable and unprotected by law. What is happening to these lives via abortion might currently be legal, but it is clearly immoral.

…I have absolutely no problem with any form of contraceptive that prevents a fertilized egg from properly implanting.

 

324 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Popeye

324 responses to “Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition”

  1. JP

    Well done Zoltar. This is a good argument that shows it is not only the religious that are pro-life, but that faith is not a necessity for the pro-life debate.

  2. Chris

    Congrats, Zoltar. As I said, this was an eloquent comment, and deserving of Comment of the Day status.

    For those who didn’t follow the original conversation, here’s my response from that thread:

    Zoltar,

    Thank you for that respectful and eloquent comment. I think it amounts to a COTD.

    However, I think you are underestimating how well-founded the idea of personhood being tied to consciousness is. It is not new at all, and is in fact the foundation of many principles which we often take for granted. The idea that consciousness is what gives a being moral worth is why we know it’s OK to kick a chair and not a puppy. Beyond that, we also make judgments about levels of consciousness, so that humans have more rights than animals.

    It’s also why we have the concept of brain-death. When people are declared brain-dead, the human body is still there, and parts of it are still functioning, usually with the assistance of machines. But the person is gone. We do not force people to take care of their brain-dead relatives, even if there’s a chance they might recover; we allow them to “pull the plug” if that is their choice.

    Your dictionary definitions of “person” are not wrong, per se, but they do show the limits of dictionary definitions. In law and philosophy, the concept of personhood is closely tied to rights. A person, therefore, is ethically entitled to rights.

    Your standard for personhood, if I have this right–and please correct me if I’m wrong–rests on two criteria: a being must 1) have human DNA and 2) be alive. I think these criteria are limited, and not as good as my criteria in determining who is a person with rights. Some hypotheticals might help:

    Imagine if an alien species arrived to earth. They have the same level of sapience as humans, and are able to do the same things humans can do: make tools, talk about art, express political opinions, and tweet. Would we be ethically obligated to extend rights to this species, and thus consider them “persons?” I think we would be.

    Or, imagine that we discovered gorillas were even smarter than we think we are. Imagine one they we see they have evolved to make tools, talk about art, express political opinions, and tweet. Would we be ethically obligated to extend our notion of personhood and rights to them? I think we would be.

    Neither aliens nor gorillas have human DNA. And yet, if they were capable of sapience–of thinking and feeling on the same level of humans–we would be obligated to consider them persons with the same rights as persons.

    Of course, fetuses in the second trimester can’t make tools, talk about art, etc. Neither can toddlers. But they do have sapience–they have the capacity to do this. At the very least, they have sentience–the ability to think, feel, and perceive their own experiences–and thus should be protected as soon as that sentience appears.

    Fetuses in the first trimester, however, are not even sentient yet. They have no ability to think and feel yet. If they literally cannot experience anything, than they have no selfhood–no personhood. On what basis can we say a being that has no experience of being alive has rights? And even if it does, how can we say their rights outweigh the rights of the thinking, feeling person carrying them?

    • Chris

      Ugh. I could have at least fixed the typos before I reposted this:

      Or, imagine that we discovered gorillas were even smarter than we think *they are. Imagine one *day we see they have evolved to make tools, talk about art, express political opinions, and tweet.

      • Chris marschner

        So you believe in euthanasia for the non- sentient.

        Simply because we lack the ability to communicate with those we consider non-sentient does not mean the “non-sentient” lacks the ability. That is a supposition on your part.

        Your pull the plug comment royally pissed me off because until you are in that position like my wife and I have been you have no fricking understanding of the amount of evidence is needed before the family feels so hopeless that it allows the morphine to be pushed into their son or daughter until the heart stops. Life is precious whether you think its worthy or not.

        • Chris

          I am sorry for your loss, and for the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding it.

          I have no doubt that this was an immensely painful choice for you to have to make. Of course your child was precious to you. Abortion is also a difficult choice for many women, though of course not fully comparable, given that they have not really had time or opportunity to develop a relationship with the fetus as full or complex as parents have with their born children.

          I’m unsure what you mean by this:

          Simply because we lack the ability to communicate with those we consider non-sentient does not mean the “non-sentient” lacks the ability. That is a supposition on your part.

          Sentient literally means “able to perceive and feel things.” If a being cannot perceive than they cannot communicate. That’s not a supposition, that is a fact. Of course we could learn that fetuses gain sentience earlier than we think they do now, in which case I would support earlier abortion restrictions. But until that happens, I stand by my position.

          • Chris marschner

            How do you know they cannot percieve.

            If we cannot percieve their ability to communicate due to our own limitations then it is our problem not theirs.

            Finally, sentience does not require the ability to think. Life is sentient when it reacts to an external stimuli. Reaction requires perception.

            Real world. Male age 40 suffers massive stroke caused MRI to be white or opaque across 98% of scan. EEG measures virtually no alpha waves but patient squeezes mothers hand when placed in his. That is is stimuli, perception and reaction. Thus sentience even though clinically brain dead.

            • Chris

              How do you know they cannot percieve.

              Because the best scientific evidence we have available says that perception requires a functioning neural cortex.

              If we cannot percieve their ability to communicate due to our own limitations then it is our problem not theirs.

              Finally, sentience does not require the ability to think. Life is sentient when it reacts to an external stimuli. Reaction requires perception.

              You are mistaken on the facts here. Sentience means the ability to think. Plants react to external stimuli, but plants are not sentient. Plants also do not have rights.

              Real world. Male age 40 suffers massive stroke caused MRI to be white or opaque across 98% of scan. EEG measures virtually no alpha waves but patient squeezes mothers hand when placed in his. That is is stimuli, perception and reaction. Thus sentience even though clinically brain dead.

              No. Again, that is not what sentience is.

              • Chris

                I think the problem here is that I’m basing my arguments on science and you’re basing them on faith and emotion. You can argue that there’s a possibility that beings can perceive and have experiences before the development of a neural cortex, but you have nothing to base that possibility on. You are therefore arguing that we restrict women’s rights to bodily autonomy on the offchance that everything we know about consciousness is wrong. That is not a rational basis upon which to restrict rights.

                • Chris wrote, “I think the problem here is that I’m basing my arguments on science…”, “You are therefore arguing that we restrict women’s rights to bodily autonomy on the offchance that everything we know about consciousness is wrong. That is not a rational basis upon which to restrict rights.”

                  Someone disagrees with something you believe and that makes them not rational? Nice.

                  Here’s how science works Chris, everything we know about science is based solely on our current knowledge of science, are you certain that biological scientists and medical Doctors have all the knowledge that is obtainable on the subject? Shouldn’t we as a society be leaning towards life instead of death in cases like abortion where our limited scientific knowledge on the subject could be less than correct? Life is important, shouldn’t life be protected?

                  Chris you spoke of being rational; tell me what is rational about allowing someone to kill an unborn human being – a life?

                  • Chris

                    Someone disagrees with something you believe and that makes them not rational? Nice.

                    Certainly you don’t believe that calling someone’s argument irrational, and explaining why, is out of bounds in a civil discussion.

                    Here’s how science works Chris, everything we know about science is based solely on our current knowledge of science, are you certain that biological scientists and medical Doctors have all the knowledge that is obtainable on the subject?

                    No, of course not. That’s why I said that if we discovered that consciousness exists in fetuses earlier than current science indicates, I might change my position. (Boy, have I had to repeat myself a lot in this discussion.)

                    Shouldn’t we as a society be leaning towards life instead of death in cases like abortion where our limited scientific knowledge on the subject could be less than correct? Life is important, shouldn’t life be protected?

                    Yes, but other rights are also worthy of protection, such as the right to bodily autonomy.

                    Chris you spoke of being rational; tell me what is rational about allowing someone to kill an unborn human being – a life?

                    You are arguing as if there are no other rights in question here. This is the “Woman? What woman?” argument. What’s rational about this is that a thinking, feeling woman’s rights outweigh the rights of a non-thinking, non-thinking fetus, if the latter even has rights at all.

                    • Chris wrote, “You are arguing as if there are no other rights in question here.”

                      False. You are the one arguing literally arguing that the unborn human being has no rights at all including the right to live.

                      The question is who’s rights superseded. In a modern society full of sentient beings shouldn’t the rights that supersede be the rights that lean towards life not death?

                    • Chris

                      The question is who’s rights superseded. In a modern society full of sentient beings shouldn’t the rights that supersede be the rights that lean towards life not death?

                      First trimester fetuses aren’t sentient, but even if they were, I’m curious what other situations you’d apply this to. Does a person not have the right to use lethal force to defend their right to property?

                  • “…tell me what is rational about allowing someone to kill an unborn human being – a life?”

                    “Rationality” refers to being able to effectively achieve one’s goals. Nobody can say what is or is not rational about a particular action unless we make assumptions about the goals or values of the person making it.

                    I find your original argument uncompelling for the same reason Chris does: argument by definition is a logical fallacy, and an ill-founded and arbitrarily human-centric definition just makes it worse. If you get to define “person” to mean whatever you want, you lose the meaning of why killing a person is unethical.

                    • To be fair, though, all arguments come down to definitions, because you can’t have an argument without agreeing on terms. The abortion dispute is a perfect, indeed, the best example I know. The pro-abortion lobby has intentionally sought to eliminate any need for balancing by refusing to concede that the unborn was first, a human being, next, a person. Hence the use of terms like “parasite” and “tumor” as analogies for a human embryo, which ducks what is difficult about the issue.
                      The sentience dodge begam coming in when abortion zealots realized that “viability” was a a widening window. Thus Peter Singer floated the idea that newborns, and infants, weren’t “persons” by a new standard of self-awareness and ability to think.

                      Zoltar wasn’t arguing by definition; he was rejecting an argument based on an imaginary definition that defines away the ethics problem under discussion. By the “sentience” definition, someone in a coma isn’t a person any more…even if they might wake up. Someone who is unconscious. Sleeping.

                      I think your criticism is unfair.

                    • Jack wrote, “Zoltar wasn’t arguing by definition; he was rejecting an argument based on an imaginary definition that defines away the ethics problem under discussion.”

                      This is factually true.

                    • Chris

                      By the “sentience” definition, someone in a coma isn’t a person any more…even if they might wake up. Someone who is unconscious. Sleeping.

                      This is completely wrong, and shows you have not even been attempting to follow my argument this entire time.

                    • Chris

                      Sorry, that was overly aggressive, and unfair.

                      Let me try again: unconscious people, sleeping people, and people in comas are all sentient. First trimester fetuses are not. So the claim of yours I quoted is false.

                    • Jack: I agree that the pro-choice arguments which dance around the issue by trying to reinterpret the situation differently and invoke different definitions are intellectually dishonest. That means that if they’re right, it’s only by accident–they evidently don’t care enough about the truth or ethics to find a good argument. Perhaps I misunderstood Zoltar’s point, but my criticisms to the way his argument is constructed still stand.

                      I still don’t see what is hard to grasp about the idea that “people” doesn’t equal “humans”. People are conscious minds, which are fundamentally made of informational processes irrespective of the medium on which they run. I suspect Peter Singer is basing his idea that infants aren’t people (or at least not as much as most other humans) on the assumption that a newborn baby is mostly a blank slate, and therefore doesn’t contain enough of the “software” that makes up a person even if the “hardware” is fully functional. I suspect that Singer’s idea may not be entirely correct based on empirical evidence, but I consider it a reasonable and internally consistent opinion, which is more than I can say for the “zygote=person” ideas I hear around here.

                      Of course, personhood isn’t a binary state, and I think that may be part of the issue here, now that I think of it. One of the most relevant questions here is what degree or type of personhood would make it acceptable to kill a living creature under varying circumstances. When it attacks you with lethal force (adult humans)? In times of starvation (infanticide)? When you don’t want to give birth to it and put it up for adoption (abortion from the perspective of pro-choice people)? When you want to eat it (livestock)? When you want to hang it on your wall (game hunting)? When it enters your home uninvited (rodents)? For medical research (more rodents)?

                      I think we could stand derive the whole “no killing” rule from scratch again, because the cached assumptions we have about it are conflicting on the edge cases, and understanding why we have a rule is one of the most effective ways to see how it should be applied to an ambiguous situation. For example, I’m currently working on concepts for AI ethics, so I’m standing on the cutting edge of philosophy on what it means to be a person and what constitutes ethical or unethical policies regarding people.

                    • This is not typical of your usual rigor. I told Chris that by his definition, an unconscious person isn’t a person. He denied that, but only by restricting his definition of non-people to first trimester embryos. Where did THAT come from? Are second trimester embryos sentient? They are not conscious, but then, duh, neither are adult who are unconscious.

                      Back to definitions: sentient means able “to perceive or feel things.” Someone under deep anesthesia isn’t sentient. Why are they people, by Chris’s absurdly limiting definition? Because they will wake up? Yes, and embryos grow until they can think too. And they already feel pain.

                      I wouldn’t choose Chris Hill to die on, if I were you.

                    • It is evident to me that we are using two completely different definitions of “conscious”. I will stop using the word “conscious” and use the word “sapient” instead. You can continue to use the word “conscious” to mean “in a state of wakefulness.”

                      You raise an excellent question about what happens when a person’s brain is stopped and started again, or put into a state of reduced activity (a state of “unconsciousness”), as with sleep or sedation. That is part of what I’m working on with the AI ethics project. However, to illustrate a key difference between that and a fetus that has not yet developed a complex brain, I would compare the situation to a computer that has a great deal of software on it and that has been temporarily shut down, versus a computer that is brand new and has no software on it at all. In this analogy, Chris and I consider the software to represent the actual person. Destroying a computer with software on it would prevent the software from running again, which would be bad. A computer which has never had software on it, or which has been wiped completely, contains no person.

                      Does that clear things up?

                    • EC wrote, “Perhaps I misunderstood Zoltar’s point, but my criticisms to the way his argument is constructed still stand.”

                      Yes you misunderstood my argument.

                      Your use of “but” in that statement makes your statement seem like a rationalization to me; you were wrong to misunderstand but I was more wrong.

                      As for your criticisms as to how my argument was constructed, I’m a big boy, I’m sure I’ll get over it. 😉

                    • I should correct my abuse of the equals sign. “Equals” implies the symmetric property, and thus “zygote=person” is an inaccurate characterization of what people believe, because they do not believe that all people are zygotes. I should have phrased that differently. The point still stands.

                    • Chris

                      EC is doing a good job of clarifying definitions, and I agree sapience is probably a better term than consciousness to describe what I’m trying to say. But I feel like there is some willful obtuseness happening. It is obvious to me that a sleeping person can still think, feel, and have experiences—Jack, what do you think dreaming is? It’s also clear to me that killing a being who is momentarily unconscious, but has already developed a full personality and set of experience, is ethically far worse than killing a being who has never thought, felt, or experienced anything. I do not know why you don’t accept these premises, Jack, but you are usually better at explaining your reasoning. These premises are not obviously incorrect to EC or myself, and thus they do require rebuttal.

                    • Extradimensional Cephalopod wrote, “I find your original argument uncompelling for the same reason Chris does…”

                      You’re welcome to your opinion EC.

                      Extradimensional Cephalopod wrote, “…argument by definition is a logical fallacy, and an ill-founded and arbitrarily human-centric definition just makes it worse.”

                      Answer this for me; Isn’t an argument that’s solely based on a bastardized definition literally ill-founded?

                      Extradimensional Cephalopod wrote, “If you get to define “person” to mean whatever you want, you lose the meaning of why killing a person is unethical.”

                      I’m not the one using arguments that are trying to redefine what a person is EC, I’m the one pointing out that an argument based on a bastardized definition of what a person is is literally false by definition.

                      EC, what part of my argument against is false?

                    • I agree that the arguments for abortion are often based on redefining criteria based on arbitrary standards so that people can get what they want. I oppose that practice. I do think that your argument is based on a normative assumption, though. Perhaps not an argument by definition per se, as I originally thought.

                      As I understand your argument, it is as follows:

                      1) A developing fetus is biologically alive.
                      2) A developing fetus is an individual member of the human species.
                      3) A developing fetus has done nothing wrong.
                      4) It is unethical to kill a living human that has done nothing wrong.

                      Here are my responses:
                      1. That sounds right to me.
                      2. With you so far.
                      3. I suspect that this is just to allow for capital punishment of adult humans, and technically this is a normative statement, but I consider it objectively true because the developing fetus has never made any choices and in any case wouldn’t have been aware of the ramifications if it did. As far as I can tell, it starts out with no awareness in the first place.
                      4. This is a strong normative statement. If we go a level deeper, my understanding of the reason why it is unethical to kill a living human (that is, the reason for valuing human life) is such that I believe it can be ethical to kill what are technically living humans without violating that reason.

                      I believe that the reason for valuing human life isn’t just because it is human life, but because it is sapient. (It’s a bit more complex than that, but that explanation will suffice for now.) As I see it, the rule of thumb “human=sapient” (with the symmetric property) is not always true, while you seem to think it is, and it is that discrepancy which produces our disagreement on whether there exist any circumstances under which it is ethical to kill a member of the set of “living humans”.

                      Does that sound like a good description of the situation?

                    • EC wrote, “As I understand your argument, it is as follows:”, “3) A developing fetus has done nothing wrong.”

                      I was reading through you comment and I’ve just got to know where the heck I made the argument you identified in #3?

                    • https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/11/18/comment-of-the-day-morning-ethics-warm-up-11-13-17-rushing-in-panic-around-my-boston-hotel-room-because-i-didnt-get-my-wake-up-call-edition/comment-page-1/#comment-483816

                      In this post you were emphasizing that a fetus is a completely innocent human being. I figured that was part of your argument, but it can be removed without compromising the main point. It certainly doesn’t hurt your argument, though.

                    • EC wrote, “In this post you were emphasizing that a fetus is a completely innocent human being. I figured that was part of your argument”

                      You have got to be freaking kidding me EC, you and everyone else here knows that that statement is a generalized figure of speech used for infants and such and shouldn’t be taken the way you did, especially to deflect in the manner in which you chose. I’m not going down this ridiculous capital punishment deflection path with you, it’s nonsense.

                    • If you’re not going down the capital punishment path with me, that’s fine. I apologize for misinterpreting your spiel about the innocence of unborn life as a serious argument. I request two things from you, though.

                      1) Don’t get distracted by telling me you won’t get distracted. Just pretend that point 3 isn’t even there and respond to my point.
                      2) Don’t ever tell me I’m deflecting in an online philosophical discussion. The core of my being is based on understanding reality accurately, whatever it is. To attempt to distract you from the truth would be to betray myself. You know how I deal with people who seem to be trying to distract me? By talking about the main point and not being distracted. Then it doesn’t matter whether they’re actually trying to distract me, and I don’t accuse them of ill intentions they may not have.

                      I feel that you won’t take this seriously unless I harshly reprimand you, and I feel that it will be counterproductive this discussion and many of your future discussions if you don’t take it seriously.

                    • Now that we’re beyond that “innocence” misunderstanding…

                      EC wrote, “1) Don’t get distracted by telling me you won’t get distracted.”

                      It’s not distracting for me to explain why I’m not going to discuss a really large part of your argument. You choose how you do things and I choose how I do things.

                      EC wrote, “1)…Just pretend that point 3 isn’t even there and respond to my point.”

                      Point #3 is an inherent part of #4, #4 literally would not exist without your #3. Also we seem to be in reasonable agreement about #1 and #2.

                      You said in that previous comment that you “believe that the reason for valuing human life isn’t just because it is human life…” which I think is your main point and this is where you and I part ways. I believe that human life is human life and value it as such it that supersedes your follow up additional statements to define some different arbitrary point where human life magically gets “more” value and therefore worthy of continuing to live.

                      EC wrote, “2) Don’t ever tell me I’m deflecting in an online philosophical discussion. “

                      As you should have expected, I choose to ignore that demand.

                      EC wrote, “I feel that you won’t take this seriously unless I harshly reprimand you, and I feel that it will be counterproductive this discussion and many of your future discussions if you don’t take it seriously.”

                      Feel whatever you like EC; I do take commenting online reasonably seriously and I think that anyone that reads my comment would think that it’s rather obvious that I do. I’m not real sure what you are identifying as “this” in that quote.

                    • “Point #3 is an inherent part of #4, #4 literally would not exist without your #3.”

                      If you need me to hold your hand

                      4) It is unethical to kill a living human that has done nothing wrong.

                      See? You could have done that on your own. That’s why I don’t feel you’re taking the discussion seriously.

                      “As you should have expected, I choose to ignore that demand.”

                      So, do you have any reason to think I’m deflecting? Because if you’re going to accuse me of deflecting every time I paraphrase your argument to make sure I understand it correctly and I include something which turns out to be extraneous, then I’m likely to become even more condescending and sarcastic, in an effort to get some part of your brain to realize that jumping to the conclusion that I’m trying to fool you is a stupidly paranoid thing to do. Do you really think deflecting is something I would do, based on what you’ve seen of me?

                      Deflecting is when someone simultaneously a) draws attention to a side point and b) refuses to engage with the main point. …Which is actually what you are doing, as far as I can tell. I never refuse to engage with the main point.

                      If you don’t support point 4 as written above, then please give me the version that you do support, because points 1 and 2 are mere descriptive statements, and thus do not imply any normative judgment about abortion.

                    • EC,
                      Please get over yourself.

                      You’ve got my opinion.

                      I’m done with this conversation.

                      Catcha later.

                    • I have what you said. I’m not sure I understand it, though, because a key part of it seems like it’s based on pure fiat. You can of course do that with your opinion (though I’m fairly certain it’s unhealthy), but you asked me, “EC, what part of my argument against is false?” and I explained what I thought your argument was and what I thought was a flaw.

                      Instead of just correcting my paraphrase and explaining the flaw, you took my paraphrase as some sort of trickery, which I felt was an unreasonable and counterproductive assumption (I have many flaws, but intellectual dishonesty and “sophistry”, as someone else often accused, are not among them), and I felt you were dragging your feet as a trick of your own. I’ve seen certain people do it to me when I question their opposition to gay marriage.

                      The thing about people who are unwilling to explain their ideological opinions is that they give me no reason to respect their opinion, and several good reasons to try to get them to stop respecting their own opinion on that topic as well. If, on the other hand, you admit you don’t have an immediate answer but are still looking for one, I would respect that, and would be willing to help you look, if I could.

                      I’m not sure to what extent you’re (perhaps subconsciously) being deceptive about the weaknesses in your argument, but I have seen you several times demonstrate a bad habit of brittle communication, often with Chris, where you find excuses not to engage based on violations of your standards of communication (which you seem to forgive yourself for violating), which means you don’t have to understand what he’s saying and you don’t have to explain yourself. That’s intellectual dishonesty, and it impoverishes your wisdom and reduces the weight of your opinion (though arguments still speak for themselves).

                      You don’t have to communicate with people if it’s difficult enough that you suspect they are deliberately obfuscating. But if you’re so confused or biased that you think I’m obfuscating, when I’m doing my best to clarify everything everyone says, well… I can’t just let you keep thinking that you’re assessing people accurately. People like you are a huge problem in this world, and one which I’m determined to fix.

                      “As for your criticisms as to how my argument was constructed, I’m a big boy, I’m sure I’ll get over it.”

                      Evidently not big enough.

                      Sincerely,
                      Barren [sic] Blauschwartz, Void Element Demon of Hubris, Wrath, and Cowardice

                    • It’s a wonderful morning to wake up to such an unwarranted scathing rebuke. I’ve been pretty darn fair with you this entire conversation and this is the path you’ve chosen, perhaps this is exactly where you intended this conversation to end up; no matter, I’m not going to crawl in the gutter with any more of your bait.

                      Final note before I move on; please spend some quality time reflecting on your understanding of respect, it’s lacking a solid ethical foundation.

                    • I don’t have a problem with what you believe, but I do have a problem with the way you seem to react when someone dares to reiterate a point or question you don’t understand. You accuse them of some sort of dastardly deceit, insult them on irrelevant points, nitpick their grammar, and conveniently fail to learn anything. The fact that you refuse to answer a simple question indicates to me that you fear the consequences of doing so; that either you’ll be led away from the truth somehow, or that the truth won’t be what you thought it was.

                      When I admonished you about this habit as harshly as you do others, I incorrectly assumed that harshness is just how you communicate. It turns out you can’t accept the same level of rebuke you give out. I shouldn’t be surprised; it’s actually typical for humans. I just thought you might be a bit more principled, keener of insight, and stronger of will.

                      Perhaps you genuinely believe that everyone else secretly knows they’re wrong, and so you can insult them and ignore them because they’re just selfish and treacherous. It’s certainly easier to think that way.

                      I’ll toss a quarter in your mouth for each of us.

                    • EC,
                      #3 and #4 are simply not part of my argument in any way, I have made no statements about this “doing wrong” tangential deflection.

                    • Okay, you can take out point 3, then. It was not a tangential deflection, though. I just assumed it was part of your argument because you wanted a reason to allow capital punishment without allowing abortion. I think that’s a reasonable position. If you don’t take into account “amount of wrongdoing”, then point 4 (which I still thing you are asserting, if implicitly) becomes, “it is wrong to kill a living human under any circumstances,” which would rule out capital punishment. If you don’t support capital punishment, then feel free to disregard point 3. If you do support capital punishment, then why are you objecting to me building a steelman argument for you that allows it?

                      My response to point 4 still stands. You seem to be saying that it is wrong to harm a “living human” under almost any circumstances, and I say that if we go back to why we determined that was wrong, we can determine whether there are any circumstances in which it would not be wrong to harm a “living human.”

                    • EC wrote, ” “Rationality” refers to being able to effectively achieve one’s goals. Nobody can say what is or is not rational about a particular action unless we make assumptions about the goals or values of the person making it.”

                      When I read this the first time I blew right over it but when I just reread it, it struck me as being absurd.

                      Where the heck are you getting this reference that rationality has got something to do with “being able to effectively achieve one’s goals”? No EC, rationality is NOT what you said it is, rationality is the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic.

                    • I’m defining it how the leading figures of the aspiring rationality movement define it. Reason and logic are more or less always the most effective way to achieve one’s goals, but as part of the aspiring rationality movement, we feel it is important to define it rationality by effectiveness to make it clear to people that if you are using what you think is reason and logic and are consistently making the same kinds of wrong predictions and failures, then it doesn’t matter how well your process matches what you think “reason” is or should theoretically be, you’re doing it wrong and need to revise your understanding of reason.

                    • EC,
                      What the heck is a “rationality movement”, I’ve never heard of it?

                    • You can look up LessWrong (moving to LesserWrong), Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and Slate Star Codex for some of the most representative and well-known collections of ideas from the movement. It’s essentially about understanding things better, making better decisions, avoiding known pitfalls of human thought, and in general using our minds more effectively.

                • “I think the problem here is that I’m basing my arguments on science and you’re basing them on faith and emotion. “

                  We don’t determine rights based on sciences like biology and chemistry. In this, you are in grave error. Hard sciences have NEVER determined what is right or wrong or socially valuable or socially worthless – when we pretend it does, history is replete with examples of mankind plunging into nightmarish conditions.

                  The closest thing to a science we can even use to shed a light on the ethics topic of Rights, might be, loosely applied: maybe sociology (and even then it’s so chock full of errant conclusions that we must only rely on Historical Experience and cultural values)

              • Chris Marschner

                “You are mistaken on the facts here. Sentience means the ability to think. Plants react to external stimuli, but plants are not sentient. Plants also do not have rights.”

                Let e start with this:
                Life – Biology-Online Dictionary
                http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Life
                Jan 15, 2017 – noun, plural: lives. (1) A distinctive characteristic of a living organism from dead organism or non-living thing, as specifically distinguished by the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, and reproduce.

                Please review the following with respect to the word sentience.

                Posted April 7, 2015 (edited)
                Please stop incorrectly using the word “sentient”. “Sentient” means the ability to sense and feel. A dog is sentient. A tapeworm is sentient even, though certainly less so than a dog. Supposedly even some single-celled organisms have shown signs of sensing the environment and acting in self-preservation. This is all varying levels of sentience. There are literally millions of sentient species on planet Earth. Yet over and over again, you see science fiction authors calling intelligent aliens “sentient aliens” and intelligent computers “sentient computers”. Where in the heck did this come from?! Don’t they know their English? If I was an alien, I’d be insulted to be compared to nothing but a mouse or a tapeworm
                The proper word for intelligence is sapience, which means the ability to reason- i.e., the possession of intelligence. Where the cutoff between sapience and non-sapience lies, however, is not as well defined.
                Some people contend- sometimes with some arrogance, in my opinion- that humans are the only sapient species on Earth. This does make sense to some degree, because we are the most intelligent, we are the only ones to use “high” technology, have a complex language, etc. However, if we define sapience this way, then there’s no reason a more intelligent alien race (or, more likely, a machine intelligence we create ourselves) could come along and tell us that we are not sapient, and that only it and beings more intelligent than it are sapient.
                https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/103624-sentience-vs-sapience-get-it-right/

                The Walk of Words: The Word Box: Sapience vs. Sentience
                http://www.rebekkahniles.com/2012/03/word-box-sapience-vs-sentience.html
                Mar 19, 2012 – “Sapience,” noun of sapient, is the ability to think, and to reason. It may not seem like much a difference, but the ability to reason is tied more closely to sapience than to sentience. Most animals are sentient, (yes, you can correctly say your dog is sentient!) but only humans are sapient.

                Sentience and sapience are two term that are often confused. We will examine the difference between the definitions of sentience and sapience, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.
                Sentience means the ability to feel things, the ability to perceive things. Any living thing that has some degree of consciousness is sentient, including insects, lizards, dogs, dolphins and human beings. The word sentience is derived from the Latin word sentientem, which means feeling. The adjective form is sentient. The word sentience is often misused to mean a creature that thinks
                http://grammarist.com/usage/sentience-vs-sapience/

                https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/sentient

                Sentient comes from the Latin sentient-, “feeling,” and it describes things that are alive, able to feel and perceive, and show awareness or responsiveness.

              • If we’re being precise about language, which is a good idea all around, “sapience” refers to advanced consciousness and self-awareness around the level of humans. “Sentience” refers to the ability to feel and experience things in general, and is typically applied to animals, or at least the ones with brains. Most science fiction media uses “sentient” when they should be using “sapient”.

          • Matthew B

            I have no doubt that this was an immensely painful choice for you to have to make. Of course your child was precious to you. Abortion is also a difficult choice for many women, though of course not fully comparable, given that they have not really had time or opportunity to develop a relationship with the fetus as full or complex as parents have with their born children.

            As a father who has lost a full term son, you hit upon my biggest grievance with the pro-choice crowd. Those who are OK with abortion have to minimize my loss because otherwise they have to admit what they are advocating. A pro-choice person is put in an awkward spot when they are faced with stillbirth. They simply must denigrate the loss, make it less than the loss of a born child, because otherwise they must admit what abortion does.

            We could very easy tell among our friends and acquaintances who was pro-life and pro-choice. Those that were pro-life empathized with exactly what had happened. My wife and I lost a loved, human child. No qualifications needed, no asterisks added to his death on their part. Those that were pro-choice couldn’t bring themselves to do the same.

            Coincidentally, many late term pregnancy loss parents become significantly more pro-life. My wife certainly did, and we know others who have too.

            • Chris

              I’m sorry. I should have chosen my words more carefully—I certainly did not mean to denigrate your loss, or that of anyone else who has been in your situation. I didn’t mean to speak for the emotional reaction of anyone who has dealt with abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth.

              That does not change my opinion that a first trimester fetus has no consciousness and is thus not a person with rights.

          • Chris wrote, “If a being cannot perceive than they cannot communicate.”

            (Bold Mine)

            That sir was not a typo and doesn’t appear to be an editing brain fart.

            This might be a bit petty, a personal attack, and a deflection; but, with every passing day, I’m truly beginning to think that your claim of being a middle school English teacher is a bonafide lie. How can you properly teach English to ignorant students if you literally don’t know the difference between “than” and “then”? Learn the basics of your profession.

            Nothing more needs to be said about this, so please don’t reply to this comment.

            • Chris

              It was clearly a typo, and don’t fucking tell me what to do.

              • Chris

                And yes, it WAS a petty personal attack and deflection. What’s wrong with you?

              • I could have accepted an editing brain fart Chris, heck I do that all the time, but not a typo when likely typos would have been thwn, thsn, thdn, thfn, thrn, th4n, th3n.

                Regardless of that; I truly did earned your stern rebuke on this one.

                • Chris

                  I think you are defining “typo” in an overly strict manner; I always assumed it meant any unconscious typing mistake, not necessarily just hitting the wrong key. But yes, I do know the difference between “then” and “than,” and I teach it; we all make mistakes.

                  I appreciate the acknowledgement.

                  • Chris wrote, “I always assumed it meant any unconscious typing mistake…”

                    That’s a brain fart, I know all about those kinds of things in regards to typing too fast and not doing a good job at follow up editing.

                    Even though you’re an English teacher, I accept your brain fart and I’m glad you know the difference between the words. 😉

                  • FYI: Here’s this for future reference…

                    I’m not a big wikipeda fan most of the time but this first part is how I was taught many, Many, MANY, MANY years ago.

                    “A typographical error (often shortened to typo), also called misprint, is a mistake made in the typing process (such as a spelling mistake)[2] of printed material. Historically, this referred to mistakes in manual type-setting (typography). The term includes errors due to mechanical failure or slips of the hand or finger,[3] but excludes errors of ignorance, such as spelling errors, or the flip-flopping of words such as “than” and “then”.”

                    • I’ve errored chose and choose way too many times to count, some of them are honest double tap typos or lack of completely depressing the “o” key and some of them are genuine brain farts – you have seen be do this.

    • I have yet to see any of the people who disagree with your argument, Jack included, offer any counterargument that addresses it directly or demonstrates they understand the argument well enough to identify any weak points it may have. There was one argument about “potential people” that I addressed with a “human egg” thought experiment and I never got a response. Trigger warning for people who have had to make hard choices about death. https://ethicsalarms.com/2015/07/15/pro-abortion-ethics-amanda-marcottes-defense-of-the-planned-parenthood-fetal-organ-harvesting-video-is-even-uglier-than-the-video-itself/#comment-342372

      Because this is a serious issue, I feel it is important to point out that citing one’s own experiences with brain-dead humans or dead infants does not lend any credibility to one’s philosophical positions on abortion. I consider me saying this directly analogous to Jack pointing out that people whose relatives are killed by guns cannot use that as a credible argument for abolishing the Second Amendment, as if they had considered the consequences of doing so.

      Abortion is a philosophical issue, and no matter how strong your feelings are, they can’t make your position more or less coherent or sound. I offer my sincere condolences, though their worth may be meager. I am, however, duty-bound to criticize arguments on their merits regardless of the personal history and feelings of those making them. To forsake that duty is to cede this place of reasoned discussion to fanaticism.

      • Chris

        I took at look at the link to the previous discussion, and it really bummed me out—as you said, no one has convincingly rebutted the “consciousness is what makes a person” argument, but even worse, then as now, nearly everyone who criticized it managed to misrepresent the argument repeatedly.

        • At the risk of being unjustifiably spiteful to those (probably) not present, it’s like dealing with a whole crowd of Steven Mark Pillings. Much more respectful ones, though.

          I think I once used a similar thought experiment regarding “potential people” involving a machine that, if no one intervened, would grant human-level intelligence to a mouse. I forget if I posted it here, though.

        • It doesn’t need to be rebutted, just as “tasting good equals chocolate.” It’s a made up definition, and wrong on its face.

          • Chris

            But you haven’t laid out any superior basis for our rights, Jack. If not sapience, then what? Human DNA? That’s all that makes us special and worthy of rights? As Barry said years ago, that’s a nihilistic view.

            EC and I have provided many hypotheticals to illustrate why sapience is a better standard than DNA. No one has responded to a single one of those hypotheticals. I’ll ask again: would you consider sapient robots, animals and aliens “persons” with rights? If so, why? If not, why not?

            • Human DNA, and ongoing growth to near certain autonomy and self-awareness.

              • Chris

                So then your answer to my questions is no? You would not extend rights to sapient animals, aliens or robots on the basis that they don’t have human DNA?

                That would strike me as unethical.

                • You better join PETA. I believe it’s unethical to harm self-aware and intelligent non-humans, but they do not have “rights.” Rights is a concept in human law only.

                  • That was terrible. We’re not discussing what the law currently is. We’re not really even discussing the law at all. We’re discussing ethics.

                    Human law is based on the assumption that all and only humans are sapient and thus worthy of the rights of sapient beings. We’re discussing challenges to that assumption and what changes we would need to make to the law to bring it in line with ethics.

                    I forget if you were one of the people who has described rights as being inherent rather than mutually agreed-upon conventions. If you were, then you shouldn’t be appealing to the law when rights are brought up, because your paradigm would hold that the law cannot change what rights people have.

                    If, on the other hand, you believe that rights are granted by law, you’re still wrong in appealing to the current law, because Chris was asking whether or not we should extend legal rights to sapient non-humans, in order to align the law with ethics. You can do better than that. If you don’t stop missing the point like this, we’ll never get to my “human egg” and “mouse intelligence enhancer” thought experiments.

                    • I don’t know what you think you are talking about. Animals don’t have “rights.” It is impossible to discuss rights outside the realm of law. Rights are a human-developed concept, developed by humans, based on human knowledge and experience, for humans. The term has no meaning and no application to animals. The issue of a fetal rights is a real one, because rights attach to human beings, and the question then becomes whether those rights therefore apply to a fetus.

                      Animal”rights” is an oxymoron.

                      In this country, we are bound by the concepts articulated in our founding documents, which assert that human beings have rights by virtue of being alive and human—that is, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The law need not establish those rights, rather the law may not abridge them. This is also consistent with the Common law and Western philosophy. Animals, in contrast, do not have such rights, though we can choose to bestow them by law.

                      This is a misstatement: “Human law is based on the assumption that all and only humans are sapient and thus worthy of the rights of sapient beings.” Philosophy never discusses non-human rights. Whether that is because nobody chose to consider whether any animals were sapient or not, the fact is that, again, the concept of “rights” don’t apply to them, and absent the intervention of the law, can’t and won’t. Similarly AI has no “rights.”

                      As an aside, there is no doubt in my mind that humans greatly underestimate the sapience of animals, in part for our own comfort. My Jack Russell terrier is more intelliegent than a 1 year old, but nonetheless, the human child has a right to life, and mu dog does not.

                      Hauling animals into the discussion of abortion just muddles it beyond repair.

                      Yes, if there was to be a tradeoff between the existence of a First Trimester zygote and a chipmunk who had written a novel, the human organism still prevails as a matter of rights, law, and ethics. Kant applies. Humans come first, either because we make the rules, or because it is the only hierarchy that doesn’t lead to chaos for society.

                    • “It is impossible to discuss right outside the realm of law.”

                      Fair enough. If rights are a legal construct, we need not discuss them here.
                      We can discuss ethical obligations instead.

                      “In this country, we are bound by the concepts articulated in out founding documents, which assert that human beings have rights be virtue of being alive and human, and the the law need not establish those rights, rather the law may not abridge them.”

                      Okay, so the law was originally based on the idea that rights are inherent, but above you define rights as only existing in the context of the law, and below you say that the law can intervene to give rights to other beings. So you seem not to actually believe in the “inherent to humans” definition of rights that you point out the law was originally based on. If we no longer believe in the reason for the law, we can change the law rather than being bound to it. Whether or not that’s a good idea is another question.

                      “This is a misstatement: “Human law is based on the assumption that all and only humans are sapient and thus worthy of the rights of sapient beings.” Philosophy never discussed non-human rights. Whether that is because nobody chose to consider whether any animals were sapient or not, the fact is that, again, the concept of “rights” don’t apply to them, and absent the intervention of the law, can’t and won’t. Similarly AI has no “rights.””

                      That does not contradict what I said about the in any way, but rather reaffirms it. I said there was an assumption. I didn’t say anyone considered various possibilities and deliberately chose to make the assumption. People usually don’t realize they’re making an assumption.

                      “Yes, if there was to be a tradeoff between the existence of a First Trimester zygote and a chipmunk who had written a novel, the human organism still prevails as a matter of rights, law, and ethics.”

                      On its face, that sentence sounds incredibly foolish, especially for you. Can I assume that when you describe a chipmunk who had written a novel, you mean that the chipmunk has all the mental faculties of an adult human? If you place a different ethical value on its life than on that of a human’s, isn’t that essentially racism? At the risk of confusing you further, what value would you place on the life of a person who was born human but was transformed into a chipmunk, or had their mind transferred into a chipmunk’s body?

                    • [I had fixed those typos that made it into your post, apparently not soon enough. I’m going to announce a new ethics rule for EA: if you quote a comment by me, fix the typos.I’d appreciate it.]

                      1. “Fair enough. If rights are a legal construct, we need not discuss them here. We can discuss ethical obligations instead.”

                      They are a philosophical construct, protected by law.

                      2 Okay, so the law was originally based on the idea that rights are inherent, but above you define rights as only existing in the context of the law, and below you say that the law can intervene to give rights to other beings. So you seem not to actually believe in the “inherent to humans” definition of rights that you point out the law was originally based on. If we no longer believe in the reason for the law, we can change the law rather than being bound to it. Whether or not that’s a good idea is another question.

                      Wrong. There are inherent rights, which are accepted as immutable as part of this culture and its underlying values, and rights conferred by law. The rights conferred by law can be removed by law. The inherent rights can not.

                      3. My point was, and is , that as far as rights go, the universe is humans, not “sapient beings.”

                      4. “On its face, that sentence sounds incredibly foolish, especially for you. Can I assume that when you describe a chipmunk who had written a novel, you mean that the chipmunk has all the mental faculties of an adult human? If you place a different ethical value on its life than on that of a human’s, isn’t that essentially racism? At the risk of confusing you further, what value would you place on the life of a person who was born human but was transformed into a chipmunk, or had their mind transferred into a chipmunk’s body?”

                      5 Racism? Now we can’t avoid definitions. It’s speciesism, not racism. Chipmunks are not a race of human being, and no amount of IQ points will make them so. Ditto space aliens. Humans have intrinsic, inalienable rights, and determine the rights, if any, of non-humans. In doing so, they should apply ethical principles, but the priority of human life is the starting point.

                      6. At the risk of confusing you further,
                      Don’t get snotty.

                      7. Such hypotheticals are fun, but useless, and only have value if the intent is interfering with coherent thought. We are discussing unambiguously human organisms on the way to full growth and autonomy. Is a frog prince a frog or a prince? I’ll ponder that when I see one. Is a moose-human hybrid to be treated like a full human being for rights purposes, as an animal, or something in between? The problem that such hybrids create is a good reason to rule such hybrids as unethical. Welles made a good pass at the issue in “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

                    • “I’m going to announce a new ethics rule for EA: if you quote a comment by me, fix the typos. I’d appreciate it.”

                      Can do. I didn’t even notice the typos I was quoting, but I can pay better attention in the future.

                      “There are inherent rights, which are accepted as immutable as part of this culture and its underlying values, and rights conferred by law. ”

                      If that’s the case, then don’t appeal to law when we’re talking about whether a being deserves inherent rights. It’s irrelevant and distracts from the actual issue.

                      “It’s speciesism, not racism.”

                      Yes, but I wasn’t sure what you would take “speciesism” to mean, so I said it was essentially racism, by which I meant it is ethically equivalent, i.e. it is wrong for the same reasons racism is wrong.

                      “Humans have intrinsic, inalienable rights, and determine the rights, if any, of non-humans. In doing so, they should apply ethical principles, but the priority of human life is the starting point.”

                      Do you mean they determine (discover, figure out) the inherent rights of non-humans, or they determine (decide, choose) the legal rights? Do non-human sapients have any inherent rights? If not, why do human sapients have any?

                      “Such hypotheticals are fun, but useless…”

                      I’m rather surprised you have such a good grasp of ethics if you can’t see the importance of using hypothetical situations to explore the fundamental concepts and reasoning underlying generalized ethical principles. Ethics relies on hypothetical situations to define consistent principles. There’s a whole Wikipedia page full of ethical thought experiments. Without thought experiments, we can’t assess whether the judgments we make are consistent, or where the key difference lies between two situations. The more fundamental the problem is (as with problems dealing with the mind), the more advanced the hypothetical situations must be in order to isolate the concepts we actually value.

                    • “There are inherent rights, which are accepted as immutable as part of this culture and its underlying values, and rights conferred by law. ”

                      1. If that’s the case, then don’t appeal to law when we’re talking about whether a being deserves inherent rights. It’s irrelevant and distracts from the actual issue.

                      WHAT? Law enforces the rights. Thus, in the case at hand, the law should protect an unborn human being’s right to life. THat IS the issue. Rights are worthless without the laws guaranteeing them.

                      2.Yes, but I wasn’t sure what you would take “speciesism” to mean, so I said it was essentially racism, by which I meant it is ethically equivalent, i.e. it is wrong for the same reasons racism is wrong.

                      WHAT? Then is Phylumism similarly wrong? Racism is wrong because the differences between races are trivial and vary among individuals. Speciesism is not at all the same. The differences are material and meaningful.

                      3.I’m rather surprised you have such a good grasp of ethics if you can’t see the importance of using hypothetical situations to explore the fundamental concepts and reasoning underlying generalized ethical principles. Ethics relies on hypothetical situations to define consistent principles. There’s a whole Wikipedia page full of ethical thought experiments. Without thought experiments, we can’t assess whether the judgments we make are consistent, or where the key difference lies between two situations. The more fundamental the problem is (as with problems dealing with the mind), the more advanced the hypothetical situations must be in order to isolate the concepts we actually value.

                      Now, now. My seminars are all hypothetically based. The fact that I reject silly and confounding hypotheticals like your frog prince doesn’t mean I reject hypotheticals. Just bad ones.

                    • “Rights are worthless without the laws guaranteeing them.”

                      Yes, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about figuring out what rights are, and what entities have them. Making laws in accordance with rights only matters afterwards, when our discussion on rights has already been settled. Laws are in service to rights. You’re trying to talk about medicine when we’re still working on a diagnosis.

                      “Racism is wrong because the differences between races are trivial and vary among individuals.”

                      What I’m saying is that if a chipmunk has the intellectual capacity of a human being, all of the other differences are trivial when it comes to determining its inherent rights.

                      If your ethics system only deals with the special case where all and only humans are people, that’s fine for now, but you’ll be lost as technology advances and the status quo changes. That, plus you don’t have a fundamental basis for your ethics system, because if you did, you’d be able to solve generalized problems. Like Newtonian physics, it’s good enough for most of the time, but it does miss the underlying principles, and doesn’t let you deal with some important edge cases.

                    • Chris

                      You better join PETA. I believe it’s unethical to harm self-aware and intelligent non-humans, but they do not have “rights.” Rights is a concept in human law only.

                      It’s like you’re only reading half of what I’m writing. I’m not talking about currently existing animals, I’m talking about hypothetical animals with the same level of intelligence as humans.

                      Upon reading further, it does seem like you realized this after typing the above comment, though.

                      Yes, if there was to be a tradeoff between the existence of a First Trimester zygote and a chipmunk who had written a novel, the human organism still prevails as a matter of rights, law, and ethics. Kant applies. Humans come first, either because we make the rules, or because it is the only hierarchy that doesn’t lead to chaos for society.

                      That’s just tribalism, not ethics. There was a time when whites said that granting rights to blacks would lead to chaos to society. Come to think of it, people say that *any* time rights are extended to a minority group—remember the anti-gay marriage argument? If we did encounter animals, aliens or robots with the same level of intelligence as humans, I imagine that *would* be chaotic. But that would not justify refusing to extend rights to them. And that’s because rights should not be based on DNA, but on sapience.

                    • “Kant applies. Humans come first, either because we make the rules, or because it is the only hierarchy that doesn’t lead to chaos for society.”

                      [Looks like you added this afterward.] First of all, this does not seem to be even close to Kant. As I understand the Kantian categorical imperative, it is (very roughly) “do not do things if everyone doing them would destroy society”. As such, I’m pretty sure that Kant would say that if would be bad for humans to declare that they make the rules and are entitled to put themselves first, because we wouldn’t want every species just doing the same thing. Now we’re just talking realpolitik, which I detest.

                      Second, humans only make the rules because they happen to be the most powerful species in existence. That’s an appeal to authority. Do you have any idea how your opinions on inherent rights would change if an alien species conquered humanity?

                      Third, the idea that “humanity first” is the only hierarchy that doesn’t led to chaos for society is completely unfounded. You can’t say that every possible non-human sapient species would cause chaos if it had the same rights as humanity.

                      It’s foolishly complacent to refuse to consider what would happen if humans were not the only sapient species, because a) you would be completely unprepared for another sapient species to pop up, and much unethical behavior would ensue (see also District 9), and b) you don’t really understand why your ethics system is justified if you don’t understand it well enough to apply it consistently to unprecedented situations. If the existence of one sapient alien race can break your ethics system, then it doesn’t matter if they actually exist or not; it was broken in the first place.

                    • Chris

                      WHAT? Law enforces the rights. Thus, in the case at hand, the law should protect an unborn human being’s right to life. THat IS the issue. Rights are worthless without the laws guaranteeing them.

                      To what extent should the law also protect a born human being’s right to bodily autonomy? I think answering this would require you clarify your actual position on abortion, which it seems you’ve been reluctant to do. Do you believe first trimester abortions should be illegal? If not, why not?

                      WHAT? Then is Phylumism similarly wrong? Racism is wrong because the differences between races are trivial and vary among individuals. Speciesism is not at all the same. The differences are material and meaningful.

                      If we encountered sapient animals, those differences would not be material and meaningful; or at the least, they’d be far outweighed by what we have in common. Our sapience is the main thing that distinguishes us from other animals.

      • Chris Marschner

        EC
        I have no position on abortion other than it should be avoided. My point was that humans define the terms based on what they THINK they know. I get perturbed by those who use incorrect terms to define when life begins and claim it as settled science. We need to accept the fact that we are not GOD or some other all knowing entity. What makes us special is our desire to investigate, learn, adopt, and reexamine what we think we know.

        Sentient life begins at conception along with potential sapience if allowed to mature. The only ethical question is when do the rights of an existing sapient being outweigh the rights of a potential sapient being. Nothing more, nothing less.

        With respect to my own situation I was using a real world example of a sentient being lacking any potential sapience. So using the term non-sentient to rationalize the abortion decision is incorrect. I get tired of the misuse of terms to advance an argument. Moreover, I do find some to be far too cavalier in defining what how we define life.

        If society finds it ethically appropriate to terminate the biological functioning of a metabolically active sentient being that lacks potential sapience then it can. We can then discuss the relative value of all other creatures.

    • “Of course, fetuses in the second trimester can’t make tools, talk about art, etc. Neither can toddlers. But they do have sapience–they have the capacity to do this. At the very least, they have sentience–the ability to think, feel, and perceive their own experiences–and thus should be protected as soon as that sentience appears.

      Fetuses in the first trimester, however, are not even sentient yet. They have no ability to think and feel yet. If they literally cannot experience anything, than they have no selfhood–no personhood. On what basis can we say a being that has no experience of being alive has rights? And even if it does, how can we say their rights outweigh the rights of the thinking, feeling person carrying them?”

      No, unborn babies in the 2nd trimester in fact DO NOT have the capacity to do any of those things. They WILL have the capacity to do so if they aren’t killed.

      Same goes for unborn babies in the 1st trimester.

      You’re hypotheticals are all verbose avoidance of any hypothetical that forces one to ponder humans beings, that free from being killed or some other detrimental inhibition, *WILL* be fully functioning adults some day.

      Dithering about who to consider a person or not is distraction. The unborn, assuming no one kills it, is going to be a person at some point in their life, whether “personhood” starts at day of conception +0 or starts at day of conception +6,879.

      The real question is and always will be:

      What is more important:

      the comfort and convenience of an individual who engaged in conduct that may or may not bring into existence another human being

      OR

      the existence of that other human being who had no choice in the matter but now depends in abject weakness entirely upon the one who called him or her into existence?

      • Chris

        I realize my reference to “capacity” was confusing. The fact remains that a second trimester fetus has a mind and a first trimester fetus doesn’t.

        A person is nothing without their mind. This is not a very controversial position.

        The real question is and always will be:

        What is more important:

        the comfort and convenience of an individual who engaged in conduct that may or may not bring into existence another human being

        OR

        the existence of that other human being who had no choice in the matter but now depends in abject weakness entirely upon the one who called him or her into existence?

        No, that is not the question. The question has nothing to do with “comfort and convenience.” It has to do with bodily autonomy, and your reference to “comfort and convenience” is a deliberate attempt to erase that right from the discussion.

        But you’re getting ahead of yourself. Before we can balance the right of bodily autonomy with the right to life, we have to determine whether the fetus even has the right to life in the first place. Most pro-choicers accept that this right comes into being at some point in the pregnancy; EC and I are arguing that the dividing line should be sapience, which second trimester fetuses do have. You have not provided a convincing rebuttal to that position. No one has.

        • “No, that is not the question. The question has nothing to do with “comfort and convenience.” It has to do with bodily autonomy, and your reference to “comfort and convenience” is a deliberate attempt to erase that right from the discussion.”

          Bodily autonomy to do what?

          See, I’m merely fast forwarding to the object of that autonomy so we’re clear about what is actually being weighed.

          “You have not provided a convincing rebuttal to that position. No one has.”

          Yes, as a matter of fact this has been done. You merely are not content with the rebuttal, because you’re somewhat cool with mothers killing their unborn babies.

          • Chris

            Bodily autonomy to do what?

            See, I’m merely fast forwarding to the object of that autonomy so we’re clear about what is actually being weighed.

            Let’s try this with another right: “Freedom of speech to say what? See, I’m merely fast forwarding to the object of that speech so we’re clear about what is actually being weighed.”

            Would you find this a compelling anti-free speech argument?

            Yes, as a matter of fact this has been done. You merely are not content with the rebuttal, because you’re somewhat cool with mothers killing their unborn babies.

            Pure emotionalist garbage. I know you can do better than the average LifeZette commenter, because I’ve seen you do so on every other topic but this one, which seems to turn your brain to mush. Try again.

            • Probably not considered academically sound to use a near absolute constitutional right to analogize a right not made absolute in the constitution. But if you think that works…keep trying.

              (hint: it doesn’t).

              “Pure emotionalist garbage. I know you can do better than the average LifeZette commenter, because I’ve seen you do so on every other topic but this one, which seems to turn your brain to mush. Try again.”

              Pure diversionary drivel.

              No need to say this again, but I will: You’ve already been rebutted on this. You just don’t like the rebuttal.

              • Chris

                I don’t like the rebuttal because the rebuttals was unconvincing, as I said originally. Your “Nuh-uh, I totally won” tactic is as boring and immature as ever; please point me to where you believe mine and EC’s argument was successfully rebutted and I’ll try and explain more clearly to you why it is unconvincing. Or if you’re not interested in that, I guess you can keep doing your unearned victory dance.

                • The hell are you are jabbering about you idiot?

                  • Chris

                    Which part was unclear? I see I accidentally wrote “rebuttals” instead of “rebuttal,” but surely you could have figured that out. I also made a specific request that you point me to where my argument has been successfully rebutted; I can see why you wouldn’t be able to honor that request.

                    • The arguments made that the unborn baby is GOING to have all *functional* qualities you deem necessary (with a quickness) if left alone. Jack, et al, have belabored that point ad nauseum. You don’t like the point, but it’s valid.

                      And you are jabbering about some victory dance or something. Makes you sound infantile and diversionary. I don’t know why you do that.

                      So again, despite your diversion, this boils down to what’s more important:

                      The Life of the Unborn Baby

                      OR

                      The Comfort and Convenience of the Mother?

                      That’s the honest take. Just be honest also, that you favor the latter option.

                    • Chris

                      The arguments made that the unborn baby is GOING to have all *functional* qualities you deem necessary (with a quickness) if left alone. Jack, et al, have belabored that point ad nauseum. You don’t like the point, but it’s valid.

                      Thank you for honoring my request.

                      I admit that is the best rebuttal that has been put forward, but it’s terrible.

                      Rights are not based on what may happen to someone in the future, they are based on someone’s present condition.

                      Example: If I build a robot and design it to one day reach human-level sapience, then change my mind and destroy it before it even has basic sentience, is that wrong? No. The robot, at that point, has no right to life. The fact that it will have that right in a few months if left unmolested doesn’t change that. A sapient robot is in all relevant aspects a person; but that does not mean that robot was *always* a person, even before sapience.

                      And you are jabbering about some victory dance or something. Makes you sound infantile and diversionary. I don’t know why you do that.

                      You’re playing dumb. You prematurely declare that your side of the argument has won so frequently that it borders on self-parody at this point. That tactic is infantile. Pointing out when you use that tactic is fair.

                      So again, despite your diversion, this boils down to what’s more important:

                      The Life of the Unborn Baby

                      OR

                      The Comfort and Convenience of the Mother?

                      That’s the honest take. Just be honest also, that you favor the latter option.

                      Given that the first trimester fetus has no sapience and thus no rights, the woman’s right to bodily autonomy is more important, even if she chooses to exercise that right only for her own comfort and convenience. (Even though Spartan pointed out the other day, the most common reasons—wanting an education, fearing that one is not ready to raise a child—can hardly be reduced to mere comfort and convenience.) Once the fetus develops consciousness the equation changes, and the woman needs more than just that to justify the abortion.

                    • “Rights are not based on what may happen to someone in the future, they are based on someone’s present condition.”

                      Does this even mean anything? “what may happen to someone in the future”??? Like being born happens to the baby? Like developing a “neural cortex” or whatever your standard is, “happens to the baby”? What?

                      “Rights…are based on someone’s present condition” What? What does that even mean?

                      “Example: If I build a robot…”

                      Someday, hopefully sooner than later, you’ll recognize that all your essential arguments require analogies to non-humans, and that these comparisons should give you pause to wonder about your line of reasoning.

                      “You’re playing dumb. You prematurely declare that your side of the argument has won so frequently that it borders on self-parody at this point. That tactic is infantile.”

                      No, you vacuous twit, I am not.

                      You do this. Often. It’s cheap and makes you look dumb.

                      You often, when confronted by someone who simply restates that an assertion has already been made, begin crying that what they are really doing is “declaring victory”.

                      It’s stupid, though often successful diversionary tactic.

                      Have you noticed that we don’t cry about the fact that you comment on behalf of your stance…?

                      “(Even though Spartan pointed out the other day, the most common reasons—wanting an education, fearing that one is not ready to raise a child—can hardly be reduced to mere comfort and convenience.)”

                      Parent’s with children cannot pursue educations? Phenomenal…my wife got her Nurse Practitioner with a 2 year old AND pregnant with our next child.

                      (that’s a masters degree, by the way).

                      She was uncomfortable and inconvenienced the ENTIRE TIME.

                      But it can be done.

                      “Fearing” that one isn’t ready to be a parent??? THEN GET READY.

                      These are all still comfort and convenience arguments.

                      It’s better to kill the unborn and incur a little bit more difficulty in life. I get it…that’s your argument.

                    • Chris

                      Does this even mean anything? “what may happen to someone in the future”??? Like being born happens to the baby? Like developing a “neural cortex” or whatever your standard is, “happens to the baby”? What?

                      It means exactly what it says. EC and I argue a being doesn’t have rights until it has a functioning neural cortex. You claim it is valid to point out that fetuses WILL have functional neural vortexes after the first trimester. But this is not a valid point, and the robot example clarifies why.

                      Someday, hopefully sooner than later, you’ll recognize that all your essential arguments require analogies to non-humans,

                      Yes, that’s the point.

                      and that these comparisons should give you pause to wonder about your line of reasoning.

                      The point of analogies to non-humans is to illuminate *why* human beings should have rights in the first place. I don’t know how you’ve missed this, but I’m certain I’ve given more thought to this line of reasoning then you have. That no one has been able to put forward a convincing argument for why sapient robots, aliens or animals should *not* have rights should make you wonder why it is you think rights are based on being human, rather than on sapience.

                      The analogies are useful ones, which is why you aren’t critiquing them on their merits, and are merely pointing out “But robots aren’t human!” like a great big doof. Why not just type “I’m missing the point entirely!” in all caps?

            • “Let’s try this with another right: “Freedom of speech to say what? See, I’m merely fast forwarding to the object of that speech so we’re clear about what is actually being weighed.”

              Would you find this a compelling anti-free speech argument?”

              And, by the way, if somehow somewhere a particular way the freedom of speech was exercised, automatically resulted in the death of someone, you know good and well society WOULD ban that particular way in which the freedom of speech was exercised while leaving freedom of speech unfettered elsewhere.

              Inappropriate analogy, and even when applied: fails.

              • Chris

                Yes, you are correct that we must balance the right of bodily autonomy with the fact that in the case of abortion, it directly causes a death.

                Here’s how I balance it out:

                Prior to a functioning neural cortex—which is required for someone to have thoughts, feelings, and experiences—in the fetus, the rights of the woman win out. After that, the rights of the fetus win out.

                Here’s how you balance it out:

                The rights of the fetus always take precedence over the rights of the woman, even before the fetus is capable of experiencing anything.

                I believe mine is eminently more fair and rational.

                • “Here’s how you balance it out:

                  The rights of the fetus always take precedence over the rights of the woman, even before the fetus is capable of experiencing anything.”

                  No. I tired of incessantly correcting your intentionally subtle changes to our arguments.

                  “The life of an unborn baby takes precedence over a parent’s comfort and convenience, even before the baby is capable of experiencing anything”

                  Constantly rewording other’s arguments to expand their scope borders on dishonest and definitely falls in the realm of knowing their original argument is solid…makes you look…well…I’ll leave that alone.

                  I believe my stance takes into account far more personal and societal values, both short range and long range, and is therefore eminently more fair and rational.

                  • Chris

                    “The life of an unborn baby takes precedence over a parent’s comfort and convenience, even before the baby is capable of experiencing anything”

                    But Tex, this statement still doesn’t take the parents’ rights* into question, which I’ve already explained was your original mistake. If it helps, let’s merge the two statements. You’re saying:

                    “The right to life of a fetus** takes precedence over a woman’s*** right to excercise bodily autonomy for her own comfort and convenience, even before the baby is capable of experiencing anything.”

                    Is that better?

                    I’m glad you included the last clause. I’d just like to know whyyou think beings who haven’t experienced anything should have rights in the first place. That’s the essential question of this thread, and no one has provided an ethical basis for it.

                    *To be fair, your statement didn’t mention the fetus’ right to life either…you just said the “life” had value. Is your argument on abortion not based on rights at all? If it isn’t, we’ve been talking past each other this whole time.

                    **I’m replacing your phrase “unborn baby” with fetus because it is both more medically accurate and less emotionally charged.

                    ***Also for accuracy’s sake, I changed “parent” to “woman.” A woman who aborts a fetus is not a parent to that fetus.

  3. Thanks for the COTD Jack, and thanks for fixing the things that needed fixing. 🙂

  4. Matthew B

    Many arguments for the pro-choice position run into trouble because in the context that is being argued, the difference between abortion and infanticide is whether the fetus made a trip through the birth canal or through a c-section incision. Infanticide is nearly universal in creating a revulsion at the topic, but abortion does not.

    We can consider the two topics of the COTD in this context, feeling and thinking.

    In the first argument, if we’re talking about “feeling” the context of being able to feel pain, humans gain the ability to feel pain quite early. Abortion foes do grab onto this as one of many points they argue, and those that deny a fetus is capable of reacting to pain are dishonest to argue a point. Humans also don’t gain the ability to recall the pain until years after birth. Circumcision is quite traumatic, yet millions of men have no recollection of the experience. if we are talking about feeling in the empathetic, emotional sense, some people never acquire that ability. Yet we don’t permit their murder just because of a lack of empathy (unless they murder other humans first).

    As for thinking, we don’t gain the ability to think until well after birth. The actions of a newborn are driven by pure instinct. Within the animal kingdom there are plenty of animals who can demonstrate the ability to think far more than a 2 month old child. We most certainly don’t permit the treatment of a 2 month old child like it is nothing more than an instinct driven animal, we recognize them as human.

    • Chris

      I’m using the words “think” and “feel” in the broadest sense possible. I thought that was clear from my multiple references to consciousness and the neural cortex. In that context, newborns and animals absolutely do think, and first trimester fetuses absolutely do not.

      • Matthew B

        The challenge becomes – where is the line – and how do we know for sure where the line is?

        Pro-choice is a spectrum, and those most vocal on the issue tend towards the most extreme on the issue. I certainly recognize they don’t speak for everyone and so many people’s positions are nuanced. Roe v. Wade left the rules on late term abortions to the states, and in some they are quite extreme.

        That does lead me to a tangent….

        I’ve long maintained that one of the biases of the media is that they’re more than willing to trot out the extremist pro-life for ridicule but give a pass to the pro-choice extremists. Yes, those on the radical pro-life side espouse the idea that women who are raped can’t get pregnant because their body can reject a rapist’s sperm. Todd Akin lived in such a bubble that he didn’t realize he shouldn’t say what he did and was roundly, rightly, pilloried for talking about “legitimate rape.” I maintain that the mainstream of the democrat party is in the extremists pro-abortion camp. (The differentiation of pro-choice and pro-abortion is meant as a intended distinction BTW.) Barack Obama is an abortion extremist. What Kermit Gosnell was convicted of in Pennsylvania isn’t a crime in Illinois. When some tried to make it a crime there too, Obama voted against it. Yes, we’re talking about extreme, rare cases – but even in rare, extreme cases Obama will side with the abortion extremists. He’s not alone in the Democrat party. Yet we don’t hear about this side.

  5. Tippy Scales

    There are valid arguments to be made on both sides of the abortion issue. Even though the idea sickens me, I’m willing to concede that a woman can do with her body as she chooses, as long as I don’t have to pay for it.

    But the new left has made a fetish out of abortions. They seem to celebrate abortion, and want more of them. It’s positively ghoulish.

  6. Looks like this COTD inspired some conversation from some people, I guess that’s what these kind of things are supposed to do – start a conversation.

    I’ll read through things later when I actually have some time to absorb.

    P.S. Looks like we’re missing quite a few of the EA regulars. Abortion is a difficult and divisive topic, but it really shouldn’t be. 🙁

    • I wish I had a great deal more time to offer my thoughts on the matter. Abortion is a topic often heavy on my mind.

      Here’s my brief notes:

      A person, according to long-standing philosophical thought, is an individual of a rational nature. A nature, of course, is WHAT something is. A rational nature is a nature that possesses the capacity to think and to will, and by extension, has a sense of self.

      Human nature is obviously a rational nature. A human person is an individual that possesses a human nature. If there are other rational natures out there that are not human, they can rightly be described as persons, which addresses Chris’ concern about aliens and really smart gorillas. If a really smart gorilla nature is a rational nature, then a specific really smart gorilla is a person. But, if a really smart gorilla nature is not a rational nature, then it doesn’t matter how smart and how person-like a gorilla appears to be, it is not a person.

      The understanding is that, while natures may morph in a long-term evolutionary process, natures do not change within an individual. So a human being, from the moment of conception, is an individual (it is neither its mother or its father, nor any other human being) possessing a human nature. It does not start out as a plant, morph into a pre-cognizant animal, and then become human. It starts human and continues human.

      Abortion, though, is not really about the personhood of the child. It is about the capacity to evade the consequences of sex, whether sex is planned or unplanned, welcome or unwelcome. The vast majority of abortions occur because consensual sex occurred and the pregnancy that followed is unwanted.

      I know many speak of abortion as a “reproductive right”, and a boon to women, but I see it differently. Maybe it was a fiction, but I thought that once upon a time, men were encouraged to keep it in their pants because a man could be saddled with a child he didn’t want to provide for. That meant he had to give at least some amount of respect to the natural fertility of a woman. But once we introduce into the equation the possibility of removing a child (either through contraception or abortion) without having to care for it until 18 years old or older, then the respect for woman’s natural fertility nose-dives. And with that, also, falls the respect for women, period. This then, leads to the further objectification of women as tools of pleasure, and a lack of respect of their persons that leads to, to pull a random example out of a hat, sexual abuse in the workplace.

      • I agree with your point about avoiding the consequences of sex. However, I have a key question about one of your other points:

        “…natures do not change within an individual.”

        Where did you get that idea? I may be misunderstanding you, but to me that statement doesn’t seem true in any meaningful sense.

        • EC,

          I think the confusion is just on, once again, definitions. Most simply put, when an individual comes into a being with a particular nature, such as a terrier puppy having a dog nature, that nature doesn’t change. The terrier puppy does not become a cat, or a tree. A human being, from the moment of conception, has a human nature, and that nature does not change in the course of his lifespan. Now, a human nature has a great deal of room for movement in one direction or another — we can bulk up muscles, we can build up our minds, we can change opinions, and we can even do self-destructive things to ourselves — but we do not alter the human nature we received at conception.

          What did you have in mind that I meant?

          Thanks,

          Ryan

          • As an existentialist, I find the idea of things having an inherent “nature” to be a made-up concept that does not describe any fundamental aspect of a thing, any more than a name does. The closest idea to that I can think of to an inherent nature would be an entity’s structure and the properties arising from it. (Some might claim that fundamental particles would be an exception, but I think string theorists would take issue with that.)

            When you say that a terrier puppy has a “dog nature”, what that tells me is that we see many properties of the terrier stay the same throughout its life, and we slap an ad hoc label called “dog nature” onto those properties. Such a label is convenient for identifying entities as dogs and ensuring they have many properties in common when we make statements or requests about them, but you can’t use the label to prove anything.

            The label was created by simplifying a collection of observations. If you want to actually prove something, you go back and use the observations, not the label. The label’s just there to make daily life easier, not to tell us truths about the world. (Unless you’re Aristotle, who said that insects had four legs and that women had fewer teeth than men, despite the evidence to the contrary being abundantly available.)

            As another example, if you were to observe a caterpillar and conclude that it had “caterpillar nature”, you’d have to come up with another ad hoc label when you saw it undergo metamorphosis, because it would no longer have “caterpillar nature” and that goes against your concept of “nature”.

            My ultimate point is that if labels by definition are the properties of an individual that do not change over its lifetime, then only by observing the individual over its lifetime can you determine what is in its nature and what isn’t. You can’t just say that eggs have “egg nature” and therefore prove that they will never hatch, and likewise you can’t say that personhood is part of “human nature” and that therefore all living human bodies are people by definition. To make a statement about personhood and humans, we have to have a functional definition of personhood, and we have to have observations about humans.

            Does that make sense?

            • EC,

              The closest idea to that I can think of to an inherent nature would be an entity’s structure and the properties arising from it.

              I don’t see why that isn’t a good definition of nature.

              we slap an ad hoc label called “dog nature” onto those properties

              I think it is too simplistic to call it “ad hoc” to say a dog has a dog nature. More fair would be to say that we have a taxonomy of being, that starts all the way at the top — there are the things that exist, and the things that don’t exist. Things that exist can be subdivided into things that are alive and things that are not alive. The living can be divided into different kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, species, and sub-species. The divisions are based upon the structures and properties. When we then say “dog”, we are indeed wrapping a great deal of structures and properties together under that label, but it isn’t ad hoc.

              The study of these properties and structures helps us understand what those structures are, what the ramifications are for various situations, such as change of environment, and to a degree what can or cannot happen.

              . If you want to actually prove something, you go back and use the observations, not the label.

              I’m not disagreeing here. If you’re working on a math problem and I tell you the solution is Algebra, all I’ve done is thrown a label at you. But Algebra means a collection of mathematical rules and objects, and we would look into that toolbox to see what we could use to solve the problem. If I make the assertion that a dog will not become a cat, because it has a “dog nature”, I’m making quick reference to a host of particulars of what it means to be a dog, to be a four-legged mammal, to be a vertebrate, to be a living being, as well as to principles that govern the growth of living organisms and application of DNA. A puppy will not grow into an adult cat. Why? If I assert it is not in a dog’s nature to grow into a cat, I am indeed using a shorthand method. If we want to get into particulars, we can, but if we don’t really want to digress into minutiae (perhaps because we’re in agreement) we can let that go at that.

              (As an aside, I realize that for me, referencing natures makes a great deal of sense, because it is basically the usage of sets, and as a mathematician, I like sets.)

              As another example, if you were to observe a caterpillar and conclude that it had “caterpillar nature”, you’d have to come up with another ad hoc label when you saw it undergo metamorphosis, because it would no longer have “caterpillar nature” and that goes against your concept of “nature”.

              I believe all you’re stating here is that we continue to study and adapt our theories to what we further observe.

              only by observing the individual over its lifetime can you determine what is in its nature and what isn’t.

              I somewhat agree and somewhat disagree. In general practice, I don’t have to observe every single ant to know a great deal about its entire lifespan and development. That’s where I disagree. But an individual ant may have certain unexpected properties that tell us more about ant natures in general. That’s where I do agree.

              You can’t just say that eggs have “egg nature” and therefore prove that they will never hatch,

              That would be really stupid, yes. As another aside, I feel that’s what is being presented when personhood is denied to an unborn child.

              To make a statement about personhood and humans, we have to have a functional definition of personhood

              My functional definition of personhood was an individual with a rational nature. I then defined a rational nature to be a nature that possesses the capacity to know and to will. I have not yet mentioned human. But as a quick aside, I only state “possesses the capacity to know and to will”, not “knows and wills” because an individual does not have to know and will at every instant of its being.

              Yet I then assert that human nature possesses the capacity to know and to will, and conclude that human nature is a rational nature. We know that every human being, provided they are not deprived of something essential to survival, will grow into an adult that knows and wills. We recognize that that is fundamental to human beings, because if a human individual does not grow into an adult that knows and wills, something has gone wrong.

              I hope this clarifies some things!

              Thanks,

              Ryan

              • Chris

                The neural cortex is what gives humans the capacity to know and will. Without that, I don’t think it is accurate to say a human has that capacity, even if it is likely* that a neural cortex will eventually develop.

                *I’ve seen others here—not necessarily you—imply that the development of a neural cortex, and even birth, are near inevitabilities. But the miscarriage rate among first trimester fetuses is actually somewhere between 10 and 25%.

                • The neural cortex is what gives humans the capacity to know and will. Without that, I don’t think it is accurate to say a human has that capacity, even if it is likely* that a neural cortex will eventually develop.

                  Now, this is where I was waiting for EC to lambast me for ad hoc definitions, because my statement was about human nature having the capacity to know and to will, not whether a human at a certain time has the capacity to know and to will at that moment. I will admit that it does seem ad hoc to make that distinction, but my argument in reply is that if we don’t apply the capacity to human nature, but to a human individual at a given time, we start adding on even more ad hoc divisions.

                  For example, you wrote,

                  As EC has illustrated, it is much worse to kill a human who has had a mind that is temporarily not functioning than it is to kill a human who has never had a mind at all.

                  I would claim that is an arbitrary distinction, and one that actually doesn’t conform to other sentiments we tend to express in society. (Note: I have not said that you or EC have expressed this sentiment; it is merely for illustrative purposes.) We have older people who would rather sacrifice themselves for younger people, because younger people have not had the chance to live a full life than an older person has had. By extension, we would say that we value giving people a chance to experience, though it is hardly an absolute. (And we have various institutes, like Make a Wish, that are devoted to getting people experiences before they die early, and we have people speak often of bucket lists of things to experience before death.) From that standpoint, I could argue that is worse to kill a child that has not had a chance to experience anything yet than it is to kill someone who has had some experience.

                  *I’ve seen others here—not necessarily you—imply that the development of a neural cortex, and even birth, are near inevitabilities. But the miscarriage rate among first trimester fetuses is actually somewhere between 10 and 25%.

                  I’ll try not to assert development and birth as almost inevitable. But my general manner of speaking is in terms of “if everything goes as expected”. We know that with a miscarriage, something went wrong. Since I’m more interested in the instances of things going according to plan, for brevity sake I don’t focus so much on the instances when something went wrong.

                  *sigh* I don’t know why I’m even engaging with this disrespectful nonsense at this point.

                  At some point, walking away is okay. I don’t think anyone here will think we changed your mind just because you didn’t respond.

                  • Chris

                    I would claim that is an arbitrary distinction, and one that actually doesn’t conform to other sentiments we tend to express in society. (Note: I have not said that you or EC have expressed this sentiment; it is merely for illustrative purposes.) We have older people who would rather sacrifice themselves for younger people, because younger people have not had the chance to live a full life than an older person has had. By extension, we would say that we value giving people a chance to experience, though it is hardly an absolute. (And we have various institutes, like Make a Wish, that are devoted to getting people experiences before they die early, and we have people speak often of bucket lists of things to experience before death.) From that standpoint, I could argue that is worse to kill a child that has not had a chance to experience anything yet than it is to kill someone who has had some experience.

                    I thought someone would raise this point. Good catch.

                    I’d respond that I still see a difference between a child, who has a functioning neural cortex and is able to experience things, and a first trimester fetus, which does not meet that criteria. It thus makes sense for an older person to sacrifice themselves for a child; that’s a person making a sacrifice for another person. But should anyone sacrifice themselves for an embryo? Or a first trimester fetus? I don’t know if I’d see such a person as noble; I might actually see that sacrifice as foolish.

                  • “We have older people who would rather sacrifice themselves for younger people, because younger people have not had the chance to live a full life than an older person has had.”

                    Good point. I would say that the reason they feel that way is partly because the older people have already done what they’ve set out to do, while the younger people still have unfulfilled plans in life. A first-trimester human organism doesn’t have any plans. Similarly, an older person would sacrifice themselves for a younger person is because doing so would save more years of human life, since the younger person has more life left to live. I suspect this is at least partly influenced by evolutionary psychology, as the older humans are more likely to pass on their genes if they protect their descendants, since they themselves are likely past the age of reproduction.

                    The Make a Wish Foundation is a very compassionate cause, but not an ethical imperative.

                    Rather than roll out my thought experiments on potential, I’ll try a different direction with a brand new thought experiment that others on this thread might not find too unrealistic:

                    Bob’s head is blown off, but his body is kept alive with medical technology. (I’m pretty sure we could do this, even if it were only for a few days.) Bob’s heart is still beating, but can we all agree that Bob, the person, is dead? His soul has departed? He’s pining for the fjords?

                    If we can agree that Bob is dead, then it seems to me that the nature of personhood requires not just a “living human body”, but a living human body with a head, because that’s the only physical difference between dead Bob and living Bob.

                    In the interests of keeping my argument conservative, let’s consider a gastrula, which is the stage of human embryogenesis starting between two and three weeks after conception, and before nerve cells have started to form. A gastrula does not have a head, and has never had one. If personhood requires a head, why is a gastrula a person?

                    I anticipate that an objection to this argument might be, “But the reason Bob’s personhood was lost is because his body was damaged, and a gastrula isn’t damaged.” My preemptive response is that if Bob’s arm had been damaged, then he’d still be a person. Clearly mere damage is not the issue. There is something special about the head, which implies that without the head, that special something isn’t there. Does that make sense?

                    (Side note: I’m working on identifying universal fundamental ethical principles that can be used to determine the ethical nature of a decision in any possible situation. It’s part of a project I’m working on to ensure that artificial general intelligence is aligned with human values and goals. The principles have to work in any situation, no matter how ridiculous, because if they don’t then the consequences could (and likely would) be catastrophic.)

                    • Everyone’s just going to ignore Bob, whose head just got blown off? He had a name, you know. His name was Robert Paulson!

                    • The distinction is easy, and why Bob doesn’t clarify anything. Left alone, the gastrula will grow a head, because it’s alive and developing. Bob won’t. Thus Bob is permanently dead, and no longer a living human being. That’s not true of the developing fetus,

                      The Walking Dead has dealt with this problem in great detail. Are walking, animated corpses that only seek to move and eat people human beings? Is killing them murder?

                      No.

                    • So any system that we are reasonably certain will develop intelligence is to be protected as if it already has it? You usually don’t go in for future-based arguments, so I’m confused as to why you would feel this way. Does this justification also only apply to humans? I’m also assuming that any system that’s certain to die is still worth protecting, under most circumstances.

                      Suppose I were to construct a machine that merged a human sperm cell with a human egg cell at a 100% success rate, and set it on a timer so that it would do so in an hour. (Let’s also assume that it moves the resulting zygote to one of the artificial wombs that Chris mentioned.) Would it be unethical to deactivate the machine before it merged the gametes? Why or why not? Beware of making a distinction without a difference.

                    • Because lines have to drawn in all ethical distinctions, and they are all seemingly arbitrary. That’s not an excuse for not drawing the lines. Many pro-life advocates object to birth control because they draw the line absurdly early.

                    • Chris

                      The distinction is easy, and why Bob doesn’t clarify anything. Left alone, the gastrula will grow a head, because it’s alive and developing. Bob won’t. Thus Bob is permanently dead, and no longer a living human being. That’s not true of the developing fetus.

                      As EC has ably demonstrated, you have yet to explain why this distinction matters. Rights aren’t retroactive. I didn’t have rights before I was conceived. I didn’t have rights before I had the ability to think, either.

                      The Walking Dead has dealt with this problem in great detail. Are walking, animated corpses that only seek to move and eat people human beings? Is killing them murder?

                      No.

                      If there was a way to cure them, would that be murder? I’d say “maybe,” but the distinction there is that there is a person to recover. That’s a much more relevant distinction than the one you’ve raised, as with a first trimester fetus, there is no person at all yet, and the fact that there might be if you let it live longer doesn’t mean it has rights yet.

                    • I don’t have to explain it. It is clear and obvious to anyone with the integrity to accept reality and basic ethics. “Quick, kill it now while we can plausibly claim it isn’t really a human life, because if we don’t, pretty soon we won’t have that technicality to fall back on, and we’re stuck” is not an ethical statement of intent and motive.

                      There’s no “maybe,” that’s a dishonest deflection.

                      If a man in a coma can be revived, you can’t pull the plug. It zombie an be cured, its not dead, it’s sick. Same thing.

                    • “I don’t have to explain it. It is clear and obvious to anyone with the integrity to accept reality and basic ethics.”

                      Wash your mouth out with soap. Wait… you typed that. Wash your… hands… with toothpaste? …Go take a shower.

                      “If a man in a coma can be revived, you can’t pull the plug. If a zombie can be cured, it’s not dead; it’s sick.”

                      We’re on the same page there. To me, those were people in the first place.

                    • Chris

                      I don’t have to explain it. It is clear and obvious to anyone with the integrity to accept reality and basic ethics. “Quick, kill it now while we can plausibly claim it isn’t really a human life, because if we don’t, pretty soon we won’t have that technicality to fall back on, and we’re stuck” is not an ethical statement of intent and motive.

                      I’m not sure how many more times I can see you make this same error and give you the benefit of the doubt that you are doing so in good faith.

                      Once again: that is not our standpoint. EC and I have conceded, multiple times, that the first trimester fetus is a human life. We disagree over whether it’s a person.

                      I can’t speak for EC, but I am tired of having to correct this misrepresentation.

                      The Bob analogy highlights the fact that a human being without a brain is not a person. That is relevant to the abortion debate. Your argument is that the fetus is going to have a brain if it isn’t aborted. That is an irrelevant distraction. Future persons aren’t persons. That’s why they’re called future persons and not persons. Future persons do not have rights. The person carrying the future person does. Ergo, abortion in the first trimester is ethical.

                      Please pick a point in this argument that you find illogical without misrepresenting any part of it. I’m not sure at this point that you can.

                      If a man in a coma can be revived, you can’t pull the plug. It zombie an be cured, its not dead, it’s sick. Same thing.

                      Yes, for the reasons I described. There is a person to recover in both situations. There is no person to recover in the case of a first trimester fetus. There is no person there yet. That there may be in the future does not make killing the first trimester fetus unethical.

                    • Chris

                      Because lines have to drawn in all ethical distinctions, and they are all seemingly arbitrary. That’s not an excuse for not drawing the lines. Many pro-life advocates object to birth control because they draw the line absurdly early.

                      You’re arguing with no one. No one has argued that we shouldn’t daw ethical lines. We’ve told you exactly where we draw the line, and why we think it is superior and less arbitrary than where you draw the line.

                      You refuse to engage this argument on its merits.

                    • It has no merits at all. It is a rationalization of convenience, to reach a desired result. It has neither integrity nor logic. It is driven, consciously or unconsciously, by the determination to justify the taking of a life by pretending no life exists.

                    • Chris

                      It has no merits at all. It is a rationalization of convenience, to reach a desired result. It has neither integrity nor logic. It is driven, consciously or unconsciously, by the determination to justify the taking of a life by pretending no life exists.

                      I just told you I couldn’t take much more of you misrepresenting the argument while giving you the benefit of the doubt that you were doing so in good faith. At this point, the above statement is simply a lie. You have been told over and over again that EC and I do consider the first trimester a “life,” but that we distinguish between lives and persons.

                      Please retract this lie.

                    • A human life is a human life, and taking a human life to achieve an objective not involving saving a human life is a flat out breach of the Categorical imperative. Moreover, it is a reciprocity breach, as every human being who engages in such taking was once in a similar state. I neither acknowledge nor respect the distinction you are trying to make.

                      You might try to ethically make a utilitarian argument that the taking of a developing human being on the way to fully functioning personhood is justifiable because it benefits society as a whole and in the long term to allow adult women the ability to eliminate—that is kill, snuff out, liquidate, the life their own conduct created. Make it if you can. The “person vs human life” distinction is intellectually dishonest crap, whether you are capable of admitting it (or realizing it) or not. It should be a tough case to make when you are arguing for killing a human life. Arguing the conflict out of existance by saying, “well, it’s a life, and it’s human, but it’s not really a person, see, because unless we give it time to, you know, grow, it’s not going to be able to learn the Ruy Lopez Opening in chess…”

                      You know, I am more sympathetic to pro-abortion as “a necessary evil,” as Spartan says, the less I hear and read abortion advocates try to justify their position. Their arguments are so transparently tortured and deluded.

                    • “A human life is a human life…”

                      That’s been your position this whole time, and you keep conflating “life”, the biological process entailing a functional metabolism, with “life”, the collection of events experienced by a person.

                      You really can’t separate the concept of a person from the concept of a human life? The mere existence of works of fiction with non-human characters proves that personhood is a concept that stands on its own. It is often difficult to define, but that’s not an excuse for writing it off as something made up to rationalize killing. If you can imagine a non-human person, why is it so hard to imagine a human non-person? Is there a mental block in the way? Would you have to admit something emotionally painful if you acknowledged the validity of personhood as a concept distinct from “living human”? Your “reasoning” sounds like pure Ick Factor to me.

                      “It is a rationalization of convenience, to reach a desired result.”

                      That is a statement about my motivations, and it is a false one. You wouldn’t accept me saying that about you, and for good reason. Take another shower.

                      Let me reiterate my position: If it were a known fact that having sex carried the natural risk of having a violin virtuoso hooked up to your body for nine months, and disconnecting them would cause their death, I would not support the idea that a person had the right to disconnect the violinist. I don’t have a pro-abortion agenda. There is no “result” that I’m going for. Heck, I could accept the “necessary evil” of drawing a line that banned abortion entirely if it really came down to it. I just won’t tolerate the intellectual dishonesty (or philosophical incompetence) of arguing that something that never had a brain is a person, with the right to life.

                    • Chris

                      If the argument has no merit, it should be really easy for you to debunk it. Explain why human beings without the ability to think should have rights. Explain why it matters that those same human beings will have the ability to think in the future when they won’t now. Explain why conception is a better standard than sapience. Do something besides simply labeling our well-thought-out and detailed arguments “rationalizations” because you don’t want to think about them. Although first you’d have to show that you actually understand our arguments, and as you’ve shown repeatedly with your false claim that we are claiming the fetus is not a human life, you don’t.

                    • Chris

                      There by your own admission, is the falsity in your position. Not only can they, they will…if you don’t kill them.

                      And if I have lots and lots of unprotected sex, there will be sapient beings all over town, all with the ability to experience consequences…

                      But that doesn’t mean those potential beings have the right to come into existence. I don’t owe them the opportunity to experience things, because up until the point they can experience things, they have no rights.

                      (I also don’t think you know how much you’re conceding with the constant “Ah, but they will become sapient if you let them!” rebuttal. Either sapience matters or it doesn’t. Your argument is that it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then the fact that they will if left alone doesn’t matter at all. If you’re saying it matters that a first trimester fetus will eventually be sapient, then you’re saying that sapience matters when determining rights…thus invalidating your own argument.

                      I really don’t see any way around acknowledging that sapience is the bedrock of personhood and rights. Zoltar can’t find his way around it, which is why he can’t answer the hypotheticals without proving his argument false. Your argument relies on personhood and rights being retroactive, which is ridiculous.

                    • They have already come into existence. If they didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a problem. Abortion takes them out of existence.

                    • Chris wrote, “But that doesn’t mean those potential beings have the right to come into existence. I don’t owe them the opportunity to experience things, because up until the point they can experience things, they have no rights.”

                      Those statements are evidence of corrupted morals, lack of morals, or moral bankruptcy, whatever you want to call the source of the problem it’s a failure to apply a standard of morals.

                      Remember Chris, “…inalienable rights: life…” Furthermore; “All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life…” The right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another human being.

                      These are human beings with an inalienable right to life, human rights, we are talking about, no one with intact morals would write the things you did.

                      Were you raised or were you indoctrinated to have no morals?

                    • EC,

                      I’ve lost track of the replies about Bob, but here’s my take. If we could, using advanced medical science, not only keep Bob’s body alive, but also create with the help of nano-robotics a replacement head and brain that functioned exactly as Bob’s now splattered anatomy north of the neck, then Bob would remain alive and still be the person Bob. It isn’t so much that Bob loses his head that deprives him of personhood, but death. It is simply that losing one’s head just about always results in death. (See the legend of St. Denis for counterexamples…)

                      In the case of a first-trimester fetus, the absence of a head and functioning neural cortex doesn’t prevent it from living. So what about the case where we keep Bob’s body alive and functioning, but we can’t recover his head? In this case, we’re still talking about a living person, and all that he’s lost is his ability to think, see, hear, smell, taste, process neural transmission, and send out commands to muscles. Usually that means death. But if we really can keep him alive through medical technology, his personhood hasn’t gone away. At best, his personality has.

                      As a side note, if we turned off the machines and Bob then died, we did not kill Bob. We let him die.

                      I asked this of Chris below, and I more or less cc’d you in it, but I’ll ask here, as well. Suppose I cede that sapience is a better criterion for personhood. Where do we make the jump from sapience to rights? If rights are just a manmade construct, aren’t rights solely what we agree on? If we as a human race decided tomorrow that I no longer deserve any rights, are my rights forfeit? If not, why? I can understand that a sense of self gives me value to myself, and that by working with other sapient beings cooperatively, I can better perpetuate my existence, but I have still not bridged a gap from preference and value to rights.

                      What say you?

                    • Cephalophores aside, it seems that we should start from scratch as far as where we get our concepts of personhood.

                      “…all that he’s lost is his ability to think…” (Emphasis mine.)

                      Most people I know would consider a permanent loss of the ability to think, or loss of “personality” as you describe it, to be “death”. Our paradigm is that people are comprised of information–no more, no less–and that that information happens to be stored, for the most part, in human brains. If those brains are destroyed irrecoverably, that is a situation known as “info-death”, and it means that the person has effectively been erased from the material world. If Bob’s brain was destroyed, but we could reconstruct the information it contained, as you suggest, then Bob would not be “info-dead” and therefore would arguably be entitled to be so reconstructed. (At least, I would argue he’s entitled to it.)

                      “As a side note, if we turned off the machines and Bob then died, we did not kill Bob. We let him die.”

                      I wouldn’t use Bob’s ability to survive on his own as evidence for or against his personhood. Even if his body was photosynthetic, or had enough energy to keep his heart beating for years, it still wouldn’t have Bob in it. However, I should ask, if “letting things die” is a meaningful distinction, why it would be wrong to extract a first-trimester fetus from a woman and “let it die”? Is there some reason why we have to assume that it stays where it is?

                      As for rights, I believe that the most meaningful way to define the concept is that rights are derived based on a Rawlsian Veil of Ignorance perspective. Given the state of the world (the resources available and the what skills people need to have to survive and flourish), what should everyone be entitled to in order that a person chosen at random would be most likely to be in an acceptable situation? The more abundant resources are, the more rights we can afford to give people. That way, rights start with things like life, liberty, and property, which are more or less essential to a healthy society, and can grow to encompass things like water and shelter, all the way up through more expensive things like healthcare and education, depending on how easy it is to provide and the incentives it creates.

                      In other words, rights in my view are universal entitlements that are optimized to benefit society (which includes preventing oppression). They aren’t inherent to a person in a vacuum (a person alone in the universe might be argued to have “rights”, but they’re meaningless if nobody’s there to respect them), but I’d argue that they are objectively derived, just from the state of society as a whole, not the state of one individual.

                      How does that sound?

                    • EC,

                      I tried to reply to you twice, and the message didn’t take. I’ll try it again later.

                      As a quick series of thoughts that came to me while reflecting on your comments: the brain has been posited as the source of sapience, and specifically a functioning neural cortex.

                      First thought in the series. It isn’t just a functioning neural cortex that grants sapience, because other animals have neural cortices. It has to be a sufficiently and specifically developed neural cortex. In our experience in this material world, all hypothetical situations aside, only humans have sapience. We can narrow down from our experience that it has to be a human brain for sapience. (Brought to you from the Department of the Glaringly Obvious.)

                      Second thought in the series. The information for the development of a brain is contained in the DNA. From the moment of conception, the DNA of a unique individual human being exists and starts the process of growing from a single cell to an adult human being. It is like a highly condensed .zip file. (Or .gzip, if you like.) The brain is not the only source of information about the person (of course, this might be disagreeable depending on where you land on the nature/nurture debate; I land about one-third nature, two-thirds nurture myself).

                      Third thought in the series. If there is truly such a thing as free will, where does willing start? It can’t be a deterministic process in the brain, for that would contradict free will. It can’t be a random process in the brain, for the will is not something random. The non-determinism of free will really seems to suggest that the brain is not the source of the will, but is instead a tool of the will, through which the will is made manifest. Where then does the will come from?

                      Final thought in the series. If the will doesn’t originate in the brain, is it something that is proper to just being human? Could it be that a zygote properly has a will, but merely cannot exercise it yet? Could it be that a zygote properly has an intellect, but merely cannot exercise it yet? Finally, is this a distinction without a difference? Certainly Catholic theology says it is not, but I’ve been trying to avoid making any overtly religious argument. (The temptation to talk about humans having a spiritual soul has been nearly overwhelming…)

                      Hopefully more later. Thanks!

                    • I forgot to elaborate: If there is a first-trimester fetus and we call it Bob, Jr., it has never possessed the information that would comprise a person. Without getting into the murky depths of what sort of information makes up a person, most people I know would agree that that information is kept in the brain. Bob, Jr. never had a brain in the first place, so there is nobody who is entitled to be reconstructed if Bob, Jr. is destroyed.

                      I know it doesn’t match your picture of how the world works, but if there are any internal inconsistencies, I haven’t spotted them yet.

                    • Chris

                      Jack, I had no idea that your position wasn’t based on rights. Are you thus conceding that first trimester fetuses do not have a right to life?

                      I don’t see how the Golden Rule could apply to non-sapient beings. I wouldn’t like to be tapped my someone’s fingers rapidly for long stretches of the day, but that shouldn’t stop me from typing on this computer. Yes, I wouldn’t like to be killed before I was born, but since a fetus that is killed prior to consciousness will never experience anything, I don’t think I owe that fetus anything. “But it would experience thing if you let it live!” is nothing but an appeal to an alternate future, which must be a fallacy of some kind already; if it’s not, can we name it the Days of Future Past Fallacy?

                      Better. Still, the issue is the false claim that killing something that should not be killed can be justified because the killing will prevent it from reaching the stage of development where it CAN not be legally killed.

                      In your analogy, absent a valid reason for the law, destroying the seeds absolutely WOULD be justified because it would prevent it from reaching the stage of development where it could not be legally killed. On what basis do you believe otherwise? That’s why the reason for the law is crucial to your analogy; it’s why you even mentioned the reason for the law in the first place.

                    • Chris

                      Ryan,

                      As EC said, I think your view of personhood is very unusual.

                      EC,

                      I’ve lost track of the replies about Bob, but here’s my take. If we could, using advanced medical science, not only keep Bob’s body alive, but also create with the help of nano-robotics a replacement head and brain that functioned exactly as Bob’s now splattered anatomy north of the neck, then Bob would remain alive and still be the person Bob.

                      I’m not sure what you mean by a “brain that functioned exactly as Bob’s now splattered anatomy north of the neck” (fun description, by the way). Do you mean a brain with the same memories and personal quirks? I’d agree that that’s still Bob. But I initially read it to mean a brain that functioned like a normal human brain, in which case…I’d argue that’s not Bob, but a new person.

                      In the case of a first-trimester fetus, the absence of a head and functioning neural cortex doesn’t prevent it from living. So what about the case where we keep Bob’s body alive and functioning, but we can’t recover his head? In this case, we’re still talking about a living person, and all that he’s lost is his ability to think, see, hear, smell, taste, process neural transmission, and send out commands to muscles.

                      Oh, that’s all! 😉

                      You’ve just described what it means to be a person, Ryan. If someone cannot think or perceive the world in any way, how can they be said to be a person? There is no “there” there. There is no self. There is nothing worthy of respecting by extending it rights. We may respect the body by not desecrating it, but that’s for the comfort of other persons, not for the person that used to inhabit Bob’s body. If anything, I’d say it would be macabre to keep Bob alive absent the chance of reconstructing his brain, and we’d be obligated to kill it–though, again, that’s for society’s benefit, not Bob’s.

                      Usually that means death. But if we really can keep him alive through medical technology, his personhood hasn’t gone away. At best, his personality has.

                      Can you clarify the distinction? It’s not like Bob suddenly changed from liking heavy metal to liking Taylor Swift. He didn’t change from being a poet to being an athlete. That’s what makes up personality to me. He doesn’t have amnesia. He literally experiences nothing and thinks nothing. To me, that means he is no longer a person.

                  • Chris

                    You’re just indulging in tautology now, Jack. EC and I are engaging in the work of determining why human lives have value, and why humans have rights in the first place. We’ve arrived at the conclusion that humans have rights because we have sapience. You’ve given no other reasons for why humans have rights–they just do. This is why you can’t accept that a human without sapience should not be granted rights.

                    The distinction between human lives and persons already exists, and you’ve already accepted it when you accepted that the otherwise fully alive Headless Bob is not a person. You won’t accept the same thing about fetuses on the logic that they will eventually have sapience…but you’ve yet to explain why we should grant rights retroactively.

                    Your argument is illogical, Jack, which is why you can’t pinpoint the logical flaws in ours.

                    • Chris wrote, “…engaging in the work of determining why human lives have value, and why humans have rights in the first place.”

                      Chris, what’s worse than you openly lying to others like you just did is that you are openly lying to yourself.

                      No Chris you’re not “determining why human lives have value, and why humans have rights” by tossing around this “personhood” or “sapience” or whatever the hell you want to call it argument as if it’s fact, you’re intentionally engaging in obvious rationalizations whose sole purpose is to devalue human life in an effort to justify the killing of a human being simply because some woman somewhere wants to reverse her bodily autonomy choice to create said human being that they now want to kill.

                      The very existence of a human being is life and that life inherently has human value and human rights unless of course you’re like slavers in days gone by and you make an active choice to be a killer of human beings regardless of human rights and then all boundaries are subject to goalpost shifting on the whim of the dominate public opinion of the day, anyway you look at your arguments, they are all the ends justifies the means rationalizations.

                      You people have no morals, none whatsoever; you’re completely morally bankrupt and you are what’s morally wrong with our society.

                    • Everything after your first paragraph is wrong.

                      If you use your imagination a wee bit, would you consider Vulcans from Star Trek to have the same rights as humans? Because they’re not human. However, I would argue that if you used their non-humanity to deny them rights, then you would be the modern-day equivalent of a slaver in days gone by.

                      If, on the other hand, you held Vulcans to have the same rights as humans, on what basis would you determine this, if not their humanity?

                      Personally, I’m just flabbergasted that so many otherwise erudite people in this day and age don’t have concept for “sapience” or “consciousness” that’s distinct from “living human”. The most incisive argument for abolishing slavery wasn’t that slaves were “human”. Everyone already knew that. The argument was that slaves were just as intellectually capable, independent of will, and morally aware as the humans who were already granted legal rights. Your (collective) arguments about humanity being what matters are actually an intellectual step backwards by over a century.

                    • Extradimensional Cephalopod wrote, “I’m just flabbergasted that so many otherwise erudite people in this day and age don’t have concept for “sapience” or “consciousness” that’s distinct from “living human”.”

                      I do have a concept for “sapience” and “consciousness” that’s distinct from “living human” that doesn’t mean that I choose to use said distinction as a rationalization for intellectually dishonest and selfish people to immorally kill an umborn human being.

                      I’m just flabbergasted that so many otherwise erudite people in this day and age don’t understand the moral concept that an unborn human being has the inherent human right to live and instead uses intellectually dishonest and selfish arguments supported by piles and piles of unethical rationalizations to justify killing those unborn human beings by those intellectually dishonest and selfish people; this practice is immoral.

                      EC stop talking about characters played in TV shows and movies as if they are real, you sound really foolish.

                    • “EC stop talking about characters played in TV shows and movies as if they are real, you sound really foolish.”

                      It’s a simple question. I contend that you’re only refusing to answer it because it reveals the flawed basis of your ethics system, which is why such hypotheticals are so important to take seriously. Only by rejecting thought experiments can you cling to a system of moral judgment that is based on how you were raised, rather than on critical thinking or any true appreciation for people.

                      “…the moral concept that an unborn human being has the inherent human right to live…”

                      Where does the idea of an inherent human right to live come from? Even when I happen to agree with what people are saying, I get edgy when they start making strong statements and indicate that they don’t know the implications of what they’re saying, or why they believe something.

                      I don’t have any love for selfish and thoughtless people (beyond the standard unconditional kind), and my own lifestyle would not be affected in the slightest if abortion were to be banned entirely. Do you think it’s possible that maybe, just maybe, I’m arguing this point because I’m being intellectually forthright, and not because I’ve got a dog in this race?

                    • Where does the idea of an inherent human right to live come from?

                      Where does any civilized principle and value come from? Experience, refection, study, thinkers, philosophers, logic, observation, accumulated wisdom. For the United Sates, it is a Founding principle: inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….straight from Locke, Rousseau and eventually Kant. That’s US culture, society and foundational context, and ethics follow.

                      If we don’t acknowledge a right to life and respect that right, life is nasty, brutish and short: it doesn’t work.

                      Luckily, when the human life is really weak, small and vulnerable, the consequences of violating that principle are minimal.

                    • EC wrote, “I contend that you’re only refusing to answer it because it reveals the flawed basis of your ethics system, which is why such hypotheticals are so important to take seriously.”

                      You can contend any damn thing you want; however, you’re basing that baited attack on my character on false assumptions.

                      EC wrote, “Only by rejecting thought experiments can you cling to a system of moral judgment that is based on how you were raised, rather than on critical thinking or any true appreciation for people.”

                      More baited attacks on my character based on more false assumptions, really; is this all the BS bait you can come up with? Gee wiz what a freaking waste of a perfectly good mind.

                      You talk about critical thinking as if anyone that doesn’t agree with you doesn’t think critically, but yet you’ve been confining yourself in a little box where the foundation is immoral sand and the walls are constructed of a rationalization justifying the same intellectually dishonest and selfish arguments that you seem to oppose.

                      How about you use some critical thinking and consider the following: in my COTD that Jack posted above I very pointedly stated that “my opinion on abortion has morphed over the years, as I have matured and grown to understand more”; now you’ve made all sorts of assumptions to base your demeaning insight into who I am and why I’ve written the things I have but have you even once considered how my opinion on abortion has morphed? Consider this EC; I used to be pro-choice up to the point that the heartbeat of the unborn human being could be detected using an ultrasound, I have since learned that I chose an arbitrary point – like so many others – to rationalize abortion and justify what I now know to be false bodily autonomy arguments. I was dead wrong and I have to live with the fact that I was justifying for many, many years the killing of unborn human beings because intellectually dishonest and selfish women were falsely claiming bodily autonomy. I was sucked into the false pro-choice movement like so many others; however, I will now fight to oppose the false arguments and rationalizations used to support killing unborn human beings.

                      EC wrote, “Where does the idea of an inherent human right to live come from?”

                      You’re kidding right? If you’re seriously asking that question then you simply do not understand basic human rights. To keep it simple: “All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life…” The right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another human being. You do know what morals are, don’t you?

                      If you choose to stand in support of pro-choice/pro-abortion then you stand in opposition to me and others like me; your choice, your consequences.

                      I reject the bodily autonomy argument that us used to justify abortion.

                      I reject all rationalizations that are presented to support abortion by redefining life.

                      Abortion is killing a human being; period!

                      Abortion is a scourge to morality.

                    • Chris

                      The very existence of a human being is life and that life inherently has human value and human rights

                      Why?

                      What makes humans more deserving of rights then, say, gerbils?

                      If you’re interested in knowing why you believe what you do, you will at least attempt to answer the question. If you’re just interested in insulting me, then don’t worry about it.

                    • Maybe you’ve already forgotten what Jack wrote above, I didn’t forget it…

                      “Animals don’t have “rights.” It is impossible to discuss rights outside the realm of law. Rights are a human-developed concept, developed by humans, based on human knowledge and experience, for humans. The term has no meaning and no application to animals.”

                      Do you just ignore these things that have already been discussed in this thread or is your brain severely limited in its capacity for memory; you’ve forgotten other things like this before, remember?

                      Chris wrote, “If you’re interested in knowing why you believe what you do, you will at least attempt to answer the question. If you’re just interested in insulting me, then don’t worry about it.”

                      There hack, you’ve got your “answer”.

                      Maybe you should choose to stop writing morally bankrupt things trying to justify the killing of human beings so I can stop writing that you’re morally bankrupt. You see Chris, the real problem lies with your lack of morals not me spitting out an insult or two related to your lack of morals that puts a dent your fragile character.

                    • Chris

                      What an idiotic comment. I asked WHY humans are more deserving of rights than animals, and your response was to…repeat that humans have rights and animals don’t, which doesn’t answer the question.

                      I swear, continuing to respond in this thread without answering the central question of why humans have rights is evidence of a learning disability. EC and I have answered this question: because we have sapience. You and Jack have not answered this question. Until you do, your comments are meaningless.

                    • Chris wrote, “I asked WHY humans are more deserving of rights than animals, and your response was to…repeat that humans have rights and animals don’t, which doesn’t answer the question.”

                      This is another perfect example of why you appear to be an bonafide idiot.

                      Chris wrote, “I swear, continuing to respond in this thread without answering the central question of why humans have rights is evidence of a learning disability. EC and I have answered this question: because we have sapience. You and Jack have not answered this question. Until you do, your comments are meaningless.”

                      So until we come around to your way of thinking our comments are “meaningless”; you obviously don’t even know what the word meaningless means. This is another perfect example of why you appear to be an bonafide idiot.

                      Jack said on November 22, 2017 at 12:36 pm “Everyone is being too hard on [Chris].”

                      I now officially reject this statement. Hanlon’s razor.

                    • Chris

                      Where does any civilized principle and value come from? Experience, refection, study, thinkers, philosophers, logic, observation, accumulated wisdom.

                      True. These are the tools EC and I are using to determine that personhood begins at sapience.

                      For the United Sates, it is a Founding principle: inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….straight from Locke, Rousseau and eventually Kant. That’s US culture, society and foundational context, and ethics follow.

                      I see thinkers, philosophers, and accumulated wisdom here…but unfortunately I do not see logic. You seem to be primarily relying on tradition here, and I’m not even sure the conclusions you are drawing from tradition are well-founded; did any of the thinkers mentioned here specifically address the question of fetal personhood?

                      If we don’t acknowledge a right to life and respect that right, life is nasty, brutish and short: it doesn’t work.

                      No one is saying we should not acknowledge the right to life. The question is whether that applies to non-sapient humans.

                      Luckily, when the human life is really weak, small and vulnerable, the consequences of violating that principle are minimal.

                      The consequences are also minimal in this case because the being you are trying to protect literally cannot even experience those consequences. I am still waiting for an answer as to why I should care about the alleged harm inflicted on a being that lacks the capacity to experience that harm.

                    • There by your own admission, is the falsity in your position. Not only can they, they will…if you don’t kill them.

                    • You and EC would make a rule that only college students are “persons”, and kill high schools seniors because they don’t qualify. Logic.

                    • Chris,

                      I’m not meaning to pile on after all your back and forth with Zoltar, and if you’ve answered this already in the great many exchanges here, just say so and I’ll search harder. Hopefully EC will chime in, as well.

                      Why is sapience worthy of the right to life? Why does having a sense of self make me any more deserving of a right to live than an aardvark? Than a sea cucumber? Than an amoeba? I’ve read a lot of justification for using sapience as superior criterion than conception or possession of human DNA, but I would posit that I’ve not read anything that justifies granting the right to life to a being with sapience.

                    • Chris

                      You can contend any damn thing you want; however, you’re basing that baited attack on my character on false assumptions.

                      Give me a break. EC isn’t making assumptions about you, he’s drawing conclusions about you based on your cowardly refusal to engage in the relevant hypotheticals which illustrate that personhood and rights should not be based on human DNA. And they aren’t attacks on your character, they are attacks on your terrible, shallow argumentation style.

                      You talk about critical thinking as if anyone that doesn’t agree with you doesn’t think critically,

                      No. You have literally refused to think critically in this discussion, as shown by your refusal to engage with the relevant hypotheticals.

                      Consider this EC; I used to be pro-choice up to the point that the heartbeat of the unborn human being could be detected using an ultrasound, I have since learned that I chose an arbitrary point – like so many others – to rationalize abortion and justify what I now know to be false bodily autonomy arguments. I was dead wrong and I have to live with the fact that I was justifying for many, many years the killing of unborn human beings because intellectually dishonest and selfish women were falsely claiming bodily autonomy.

                      I agree that the heartbeat is an arbitrary point. Sapience is not. Without your brain, you are not “you.” There is no selfhood without the brain. Do you dispute this? You can’t. It is factually true.

                      I was sucked into the false pro-choice movement like so many others; however, I will now fight to oppose the false arguments and rationalizations used to support killing unborn human beings.

                      Then fight better. As of now, your arguments are terrible.

                      EC wrote, “Where does the idea of an inherent human right to live come from?”

                      You’re kidding right? If you’re seriously asking that question then you simply do not understand basic human rights.

                      You can’t be serious. Asking why we have rights shows that we don’t understand rights? You realize that asking such questions is at the heart of philosophy and the ability to think critically, right?

                      To keep it simple: “All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life…” The right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another human being.

                      You’re arguing in circles. “Human beings have rights because human beings have rights.” You still have not articulated what the basis of this ethical principal is.

                      You do know what morals are, don’t you?

                      Stop. You’re embarrassing yourself. Jack has delineated between ethics and morals before. This is an ethics blog. Your constant appeal to “morals” explains your shallow thinking; morals are based on cultural values and tradition, not logic and reason. Really, this explains everything.

                      If you choose to stand in support of pro-choice/pro-abortion then you stand in opposition to me and others like me; your choice, your consequences.

                      Not scary.

                      I reject the bodily autonomy argument that us used to justify abortion.

                      Cool. We’ve moved way past that argument.

                      I reject all rationalizations that are presented to support abortion by redefining life.

                      No one here has attempted to redefine life.

                      Abortion is killing a human being; period!

                      Yep. No argument there.

                      Abortion is a scourge to morality.

                      But not to ethics.

                    • Chris wrote, ” EC isn’t making assumptions about you, he’s drawing conclusions…”.

                      You obviously don’t understand what an assumption is. Here let me help you again, idiot.

                      Assumption: A thing that is accepted as true without proof.

                      EC has no proof of what he is claiming.

                      Chris wrote, “they aren’t attacks on your character…”

                      Yes Chris they are unwarranted attacks on my character, just like you calling me a coward for choosing not to engage in the exact things I’ve stated over and over again that I won’t engage in. You can’t change that about me in the same way I can’t change that you’re an idiot.

                      Chris wrote, “I agree that the heartbeat is an arbitrary point. Sapience is not.”

                      Bull shit Chris, your logic is a failure. Heartbeat and sapience are both arbitrary points in the growth of a unborn human being just like any other point that could be chosen right up to and including birth, you’re just to stupid to understand it. They are both unethical rationalizations presented in support of bodily autonomy, they are absolutely no different at their core than statements like, it’s not human, it’s a tumor, it’s just cells, it’s…, it’s…, it’s…, while ignoring the fact that it actually IS a human being and IT is being killed! What it truly is, is immoral.

                      Chris wrote, “No one here has attempted to redefine life.”

                      BULL SHIT!!! That is exactly what the heartbeat and sapience arguments are trying to do to justify killing an unborn human being. You’re an idiot!

                      Chris wrote, “Cool. We’ve moved way past that [bodily autonomy] argument.”

                      Then why are you STILL presenting the sapience rationalization as a justification to the bodily autonomy argument? Remember Chris, if the mother no longer logically, ethically, or morally has a bodily autonomy argument at the point of killing an unborn human being then your sapience rationalization becomes 100% irrelevant. When are you going to understand that simple fact?

                      Oh wait…

                      Hanlon’s razor.

                    • Chris

                      You’re not reading me in good faith, Zoltar. You quoted this:

                      I swear, continuing to respond in this thread without answering the central question of why humans have rights is evidence of a learning disability. EC and I have answered this question: because we have sapience. You and Jack have not answered this question. Until you do, your comments are meaningless.

                      And somehow interpreted it to mean this:

                      So until we come around to your way of thinking our comments are “meaningless”

                      That’s obviously not a reasonable interpretation of what I wrote. I asked for an answer to the question of why humans have rights. I never said it has to be the same as MY answer.

                    • Chris wrote, “You’re not reading me in good faith…”

                      Actually I was I just didn’t express myself in the way I had intended. So how about this Chris, does it meet your criteria?
                      Instead of …

                      So until we come around to your way of thinking our comments are “meaningless”…”

                      …we get…

                      So until we answer your question to your sanctification (meaning your way of thinking) our comments are “meaningless”…

                      Guess what genius, my core point is exactly the same you idiot, you don’t know what the word meaningless means and you’re an idiot, but thanks for allowing me to point that out again. This is fun, can we do it some more?

                    • Chris


                      You and EC would make a rule that only college students are “persons”, and kill high schools seniors because they don’t qualify. Logic.

                      Totally non-responsive. You’re better than this.

                      Both high schoolers and college students are sapient. The principle that rights should be based on sapience is perfectly logical and consistent; it’s why we don’t grant rights to animals, why we would grant rights to sapient robots and aliens, and why we don’t grant rights to Headless Bob. None of the other standards—human DNA, a heartbeat, fingernails—would grant rights to all deserving creatures while not extending them to creatures that have no need for them.

                      Sapience is the core of selfhood, thus the core of personhood.

                      You still haven’t identified one flaw in this argument.

                    • You’re an idiot, I guess. Have EC explain analogies to you. See, Chris, in the analogy, the college admission is the equivalent of sapience…the substitute for it in an analogy to your bad argument.

                      I would say you’re better than this, but I’m beginning to wonder.

                    • Chris wrote, “Sapience is the core of selfhood, thus the core of personhood. You still haven’t identified one flaw in this argument.”

                      Saying the flaws haven’t been identified doesn’t make it true; the fact is that the flaw in the argument has been identified multiple times you just refuse to accept that it has. The flaw isn’t that sapience isn’t the core of selfhood or personhood, that’s just your twisted nonsense, it’s that the all three of them are arbitrary points chosen in the development of an unborn human being that are be used to justify the killing of that unborn human being; they are rationalizations in support of false bodily autonomy argument.

                      Sapience is superseded by “…inalienable rights: life…”, “All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life…” The right to life is a moral principle based on the belief that a human being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another human being. You are literally trying to redefine “life” by implying that sapience, selfhood, personhood is the point that “life” begins and prior to that point you think it’s okay to kill an unborn human being because it doesn’t meet your arbitrary chosen point of being truly alive.

                      You continue to deny that these arguments exist in this thread, this is illogical.

                    • Wow go on vacation a few days and this is what came out this?

                      A fixation of the word sapience to avoid discussing the human life being killed. When viability got worn and torn I suppose a new way to rephrase the argument was needed.

                      I really lost interest in the spin when the goal seemed to be to ensure that aliens or something had right to life…

                      I mean really.

                      We’re making sure aliens’ rights have advocacy here.

                      When I get back from vacation I’ll try to focus on comments in detail.

                      Aliens rights guys….

                      If you’re on the side killing babies… you may be the bad guys.

                    • It’s like switching from creationism to intelligent design! Oops! Viability won’t work…aHA! Sapience!

                    • As far as I’m concerned, “viability” was always arbitrary and never a good argument. You keep lumping me in with people who have an agenda. I just call it as I see it. Do I accuse you of purposefully failing to understand my points because you have an agenda?

                    • *Does that make sense to you?

                      (Wow, my first phone typo!)

                    • Oddly enough, I finally got bored with seeing Chris type “sapience” so I looked it up. Nothing about “ability to have experiences”, everything to do with “wisdom” and “good judgment”.

                      So, in their redefinition of “sapient” to fit the argument, they are really just rehashing the argument that draws a line at the answer to the question, “when does the unborn baby feel pain”?

                      Another worn and tired argument with new wrapping paper on the outside of it…

                    • Chris

                      You’re right that sapience and sentience aren’t the same, Tex.

                      Still, most people recognize that it is intrinsically wrong to harm sentient beings, such as animals, even if they do not have rights, while it is not intrinsically wrong to harm non-sentient beings, such as plants or chairs.

                      First trimester fetuses are neither sentient nor sapient, so you still have yet to explain why it is intrinsically wrong to kill them. Why is it wrong to harm something that cannot experience that harm? Please answer on a philosophical level rather than with the emotionalism you have previously tried to wield.

                    • By the *actual* definition of “sapient”, most people, even those in their 235th trimester, are not sapient.

                      You are only rehashing the “can feel pain” argument.

                      Jack has explained it on a “philosophical” level. You just don’t like his explanation.

                    • What “emotionalism”?

                    • Chris wrote, “First trimester fetuses are neither sentient nor sapient, so you still have yet to explain why it is intrinsically wrong to kill them.”

                      You’ve seen the explanation multiple times but you keep saying no one has explained it as if that’s some sort of actual fact; this is illogical and it’s a lie.

                      You have openly agreed that this unborn human being is in fact a human being, regardless of whether you or anyone else considers that human being to be sentient or sapient, but yet you absolutely refuse to apply the human right to life to that unborn human being. Your continued failure to acknowledge these simple facts show a complete lack of intelligence, logic, and morals.

                      There Chris, you have your explanation all wrapped up neatly in one simple paragraph so you don’t have to strain your comprehension skills to find these things in the multitude of comments in this thread. If you make another idiotic claim like this again I’m just going to post a one word comment, put your thinking cap on and see if you can guess what that one word might be?

                      I can’t wait to see twisted talking points you come up with to try and refute these actual facts.

                    • Chris

                      Mine tell me that the life of the unborn trumps the rights of a woman to comfort and convenience.

                      Chris’ 1st principles tell him that the woman’s comfort and convenience trump the life of her child.

                      I’ve already called you on this trick. I am talking about rights. It would be more accurate to say that my first principles tell me that the woman’s right to bodily autonomy trumps the right to life of the first trimester fetus (not “child;” please use medically accurate language), even if she chooses to exercise that right for her own comfort and convenience. This is because fetuses do not yet have minds, and thus should not yet have rights.

                      Another way to think of it would be in terms of harm. The harm caused to a woman by forcing her to remain pregnant against her will outweighs the harm caused to the first trimester fetus by being aborted. This is because the woman can experience harm and the first trimester fetus, having no mind, cannot. I care more about harms to beings who can experience that harm than harm to beings who cannot. Why doesn’t everybody?

                      There’re no further arguments to be made. His arguments about “sapience” and however he defines sapience (which isn’t the dictionary definition), are merely to make it ok to kill the child. Those arguments won’t convince us, because we believe the value of that life far surpasses the other value in conflict, and his rationalization that the unborn child doesn’t deserve protection doesn’t convince us.

                      Give me a better reason to value human life over other lives besides sapience, then. You’ve provided no alternate standard. Jack did provide an explanation a long time ago, but it was more based on tribalism and, as EC noted, speciesism than any real ethical principles. See, I’ve made an effort to articulate why human lives have value, even if my definition of sapience is still a work in progress. You’ve not given any reason to value the life of the fetus because you’ve yet to articulate a reason why any human life has value.

                    • texagg04,
                      Another day and another concept Chris spouts as fact without a decent understanding of the concept; I’m shocked absolutely shocked.

                      It’s been real clear for quite some time that Chris is just regurgitating talking points without really understanding what they mean, it’s Progressive Magical Thinking.

                    • Chris

                      Oh, so analogies are good now! I guess when used to illuminate core principles—which is there actual purpose, and how EC and I have been using them—analogies are useless, but when used to insult and condescend to people whose points you can’t refute—which is how you used your stupid “college/high school” analogy—they’re great. That’s what they’re really for, and I’m an idiot for not knowing that.

                    • I made it very, very clear to EC that my objection to many “thought experiments” was that they were inept and misleading. You will search in vain for any hint here or anywhere that I do not approve of analogies. I’m a lawyer, see: the law lives and breathes analogies. My ethics seminars are based on hypotheticals. I object to BAD analogies. And, obviously, if someone doesn’t understand analogies, they can’t tell good ones from bad ones.

                      I apologize for the idiot crack, however.

                      Here’s an analogy to your “sapience” obsession that might not confuse you as much.

                      Let’s say a civilization depends on fruit to eat, and fruit trees have recently been endangered by a pernicious root rot. A law is passed requiring any owner of land where a fruit tree grows to care for it, and makes it a crime to cut one down. However, a sect arises asserting absolute rights of landowners to have autonomy over their property, and while not disputing the necessity of the law, defend pulling out fruit tree seedlings as soon as they peak above the soil on the grounds that they don’t qualify as fruit trees under the law, because they can’t bear fruit.

                      I presume you and EC think that argument should prevail.

                      (It wouldn’t.)

                    • This doesn’t seem like a great analogy to me. Protecting the trees is for the benefit of humans, not that of the trees. By contrast, the intention of banning abortion is to protect the developing humans, not the rest of humanity.

                      In other words, when deciding if a tree can be killed, we don’t care about its experience. We only care about how valuable it is to society. The opposite should be true when we consider the ethics of abortion. Thus the factors going into making ethical decisions, including writing and interpreting the laws pertaining to each situation, will be completely different. Doors that make sense to you?

                    • Analogies focus on a particular feature of a problem. This one focuses on the logic, or lack of it, of using a present state that one knows will evolve and change as an argument for preventing that change. That’s all. Why the trees are being protected, and for whose benefit, are details to set up the analogy, but not relevant to the purpose of the analogy.

                    • Chris

                      That’s a much better analogy, Jack. (Your college/high school one was bad because it compared an arbitrary distinction to one that EC and I had put a lot of effort into supporting, in order to avoid engaging with the distinction we were discussing.)

                      I agree with the conclusion of your analogy, but only because it’s premised on the need for more trees for the community’s survival. If humanity was dying out, I’d say laws banning first trimester abortion would be justified. Battlestar Galactica handled this very problem.

                      But humanity isn’t dying out, and we have no shortage of people, so such laws are not justified. By the same token, if there are plenty of fruit trees, the law in your analogy would not be justified.

                      None of which changes that seedlings aren’t trees, and first trimester fetuses aren’t persons.

                    • Chris

                      Chris,

                      I’m not meaning to pile on after all your back and forth with Zoltar, and if you’ve answered this already in the great many exchanges here, just say so and I’ll search harder. Hopefully EC will chime in, as well.

                      Why is sapience worthy of the right to life? Why does having a sense of self make me any more deserving of a right to live than an aardvark? Than a sea cucumber? Than an amoeba? I’ve read a lot of justification for using sapience as superior criterion than conception or possession of human DNA, but I would posit that I’ve not read anything that justifies granting the right to life to a being with sapience.

                      Ryan,

                      Thank you for being the only one in this thread to engage with my central argument.

                      For me, I concluded that sapience is worthy of rights by comparing sapient beings with non-sapient beings. This goes to the heart of what “rights” are. I define rights as “opportunities that persons owe to other persons.” For example, you have the right to life; that means that if I try and kill you, I am violating your rights, i.e., what I owe you.

                      I owe you this because you have the same capacity to experience the world that I do, and causing harm to beings that can experience it is wrong. For this reason, I do believe that animals have some rights. It is wrong to needlessly harm an animal, for example. It’s wrong to kick a puppy. Why is it wrong to kick a puppy? Because a puppy can feel pain, and I owe the puppy the opportunity to not suffer needless pain. (I believe that humans, being sapient as opposed to merely sentient, which is what animals are, have greater rights than animals do, and our rights outweigh the rights of animals, which is why eating animals can be justified; however, we must do so while causing the minimum amount of suffering possible.)

                      On the other hand, paintings don’t have rights. It is wrong to harm a priceless painting because it would deprive other persons of the right to choose to see that painting, but that’s because of what we owe other persons; we don’t owe the painting itself anything, because it has no experience of anything, and cannot perceive the harm done to it.

                      I hope this is at least a starting point toward answering your question. Thank you again for engaging with the argument.

                    • Chris,

                      I hope this is at least a starting point toward answering your question. Thank you again for engaging with the argument.

                      It is a start, so maybe we can probe the idea a little further. I suppose in fairness, I’ll being by stating my thoughts on what rights are. I’m not satisfied by either your description of them as “opportunities”, or EC’s description of them as entitlements. I don’t feel those quite hit the nail on the head, but as I’m floundering myself for the precise words with the exact semantic value, I can’t complain too much. But rights are those properties/opportunities/entitlements/thingamajigs possessed by an individual and protected from abrogation by a higher authority.

                      The right to life is not exactly and entitlement or an opportunity, but a declaration by a higher authority that it is unjust for life to be deprived without authorization. Thus you, without the proper authorization from our government, would not be justified in killing me, even if I had done horrendous things. However, were you authorized by the state to be my executioner, then you would be justified in killing me.

                      The question then is how a higher authority determines what is or is not a right. My fundamental quibble is that without any reference to God or some other transcendent authority, any rights are limited to what human authority decides they should be, and those decisions are made based on the preference of the time. In such a situation, rights are not universal, and subject to whim. Sapience as a criterion for declaring a right to life is very compelling, because I already acknowledge that rights are the province of rational beings. However, the idea that because you think and I think and thus we should defend each other’s right to live does not seem to constitute to rights, but backscratching. It is expedient that rational beings work together to build a society, but there’s no imperative in mutual agreement to extend that agreement to every rational being.

                      Am I making my concerns at all intelligible? Let me know if I’m not coming across clearly.

                      Thanks,

                      Ryan

                    • Chris

                      After writing that, Ryan, I realized an inconsistency in how I defined “rights.” I said they were opportunities that persons owed other persons. But then I said that animals have some rights, which doesn’t make sense, as animals are not persons. I need to work on resolving this contradiction.

                    • Chris

                      Zoltar:

                      Saying the flaws haven’t been identified doesn’t make it true; the fact is that the flaw in the argument has been identified multiple times you just refuse to accept that it has. The flaw isn’t that sapience isn’t the core of selfhood or personhood, that’s just your twisted nonsense,

                      Then it should be very easy for you to explain why sapience is not the core of selfhood or personhood. You are saying that without sapience, you would still be you? You are saying that without a functioning neural cortex, you would still be you? I find it hard to believe that you believe that.

                      it’s that the all three of them are arbitrary points chosen in the development of an unborn human being that are be used to justify the killing of that unborn human being; they are rationalizations in support of false bodily autonomy argument.

                      Just repeating that sapience is an arbitrary point doesn’t prove it. So prove it.

                      You are literally trying to redefine “life” by implying that sapience, selfhood, personhood is the point that “life” begins and prior to that point you think it’s okay to kill an unborn human being because it doesn’t meet your arbitrary chosen point of being truly alive.

                      You are simply wrong. “Life” and “personhood” are separate concepts, as you have been shown. Animals are alive, but are not persons. Headless Bob is alive, but no longer a person. Sapient robots would be persons, but are not “alive” in the biological sense.

                      Since you refuse to think critically about these analogies, your arguments are all based on a house of sand. You have no philosophical basis for them, which is why all you can do is repeat the same bad arguments.

                      texagg04:

                      A fixation of the word sapience to avoid discussing the human life being killed.

                      We have already established multiple times that the first trimester fetus is a human life being killed. It is now up to you to explain why it matters when a non-sapient, non-sentient human is killed.

                      I really lost interest in the spin when the goal seemed to be to ensure that aliens or something had right to life…

                      I mean really.

                      We’re making sure aliens’ rights have advocacy here.

                      I don’t know why you’re being obtuse. You know that the purpose of the alien analogy was to demonstrate that humanity alone is not a necessary or sufficient basis for rights.

                      When I get back from vacation I’ll try to focus on comments in detail.

                      My hope is that when you come back you’ll engage with the actual points instead of making an elaborate show of missing them.

                      If you’re on the side killing babies… you may be the bad guys.

                      Good thing no one is on the side of killing babies, then.

                    • Chris wrote, “Then it should be very easy for you to explain why sapience is not the core of selfhood or personhood. You are saying that without sapience, you would still be you? You are saying that without a functioning neural cortex, you would still be you? I find it hard to believe that you believe that.”

                      Honestly Chris are you now intentionally trolling with this rotten bait to see if you can get me riled at your complete stupidity? I will not be sucked into your absolutely absurd nonsense, what you just wrote is not my argument, never has been and never will be, in fact I wrote “that’s just your twisted nonsense, you are either intentionally twisting/misrepresenting my arguments or you’re a blithering idiot.

                      Hanlon’s razor.

                      Chris your method of focus on this topic, flushing ethics, lack of critical thinking, non-logic, misrepresenting others, false accusations (you even wrote that Jack was lying), etc, are being perceived as an obsession and it truly is making you look about as foolish as a person could possibly look around here. Is this perceived obsession some kind of self gratifying mission to try and convince others using the same unethical rationalizations you used on yourself to justify some past personal experience with an abortion? That’s not an insult, that’s not meant as a deflection, that’s meant as a question to ring your bell; so, please don’t answer it, just think about your motivations and how they are driving you to this foolishness.

                      I think I’ll let others deal with your nonsense for a while.

                    • I always find it fascinating how the more unreasonable people get, the more they project, until they describe themselves perfectly under the name of their adversaries, and they never even notice.

                      Pay close attention to the discussion we’re having with Ryan Harkins. He’s a good role model for how people who share your perspective on this issue can actually engage with and employ arguments in earnest.

                    • EC wrote “I always find it fascinating how the more unreasonable people get, the more they project, until they describe themselves perfectly under the name of their adversaries, and they never even notice.”

                      You’re welcome to your opinion on that EC, so am I.

                      I’m curious why you chide me about my comment(s) but when there has been a lack of ethics, lack of critical thinking, lack of logic, blatant misrepresentations of others, false accusations that have spurred the comment(s) you are chiding you say nothing about the source of the problem and only focus on the response to the problem.

                      I understand that ignorant people have every right to their opinion, I also understand that there are and should be consequences to regularly projecting ones own idiocy in an online discussion community. Change usually doesn’t happen without some form of motivation. If you want a change to occur you must consider that motivation isn’t optional, everyone is motivated to do nothing or to do something, either negatively or positively; you have to find out what trigger motivates people and trip that trigger, regardless of the consequences to self.

                      EC wrote “Pay close attention to the discussion we’re having with Ryan Harkins. He’s a good role model for how people who share your perspective on this issue can actually engage with and employ arguments in earnest.”

                      I very much like Ryan’s comments, he is tolerant and very thoughtful. I completely agree that people like Jack and Ryan are great examples of tolerant people and a good role models for online conduct. I am not Ryan, I am not Jack, and I will likely never be an equivalent to either of them, accept that EC.

                      I accept who I am and always strive to be better. You have no idea the leaps and bounds progress in tolerance that I’ve made over the years, it has been a conscious effort over the years since I left the Army to shed some things and take the edge off other things. I accept that I’m not perfect and never will be and I also accept that my level of tolerance for the kind of ignorant BS I read day in and day out is not at the level I could strive to be. I make efforts and then I’m confronted with people that are just too damned “stupid” to be ignored.

                      I strive every day to be better than I was the day before. I can attempt to motivate others but I can’t change others, they must choose to change themselves. It would be nice if some would strive to improve instead remaining a poster child for Hanlon’s razor; I ran into this kind of online personas a LOT at the last site I frequented.

                    • I understand that you’re have made and are still making great efforts to improve. I respect that. I’ve been in a similar place myself, and occasionally return there (represented by Barren [sic] Blauschwartz, whom you’ve met).

                      You must know, though, that your efforts cannot serve as an excuse to exempt yourself from the consequences of attempting to… enforce negative consequences… on people who aren’t as stupid as you think they are. If you don’t know how to listen, your high-and-mighty smackdowns are going to accomplish nothing. All you’re doing is eating the proverbial biscuits on the bus, and if you get into that habit, you’ll inevitably end up eating some biscuits that aren’t yours. (The story: https://www.snopes.com/crime/safety/cookies.asp)

                      “Change usually doesn’t happen without some form of motivation. If you want a change to occur you must consider that motivation isn’t optional, everyone is motivated to do nothing or to do something, either negatively or positively; you have to find out what trigger motivates people and trip that trigger, regardless of the consequences to self.”

                      You clearly understand Barren Blauschwartz’s motivations, but not its methods (and not other people’s motivations). You’re too blunt. Instead of simply slamming someone, I find it is best to learn as much as you can about them, probe their weak points, and then when you find one… gently insert a dagger of doubt, and move on to the next one. Don’t count on any one point being the “finishing move”: humans are gifted at doublethink. Just keep at it. Listening and questioning is most often much more productive than bold assertions, even when you’ve got them dead to rights. Most importantly, and something I’ve been forgetting in our argument, people are desperate to know that their identity would still be intact even if they were wrong. If they don’t feel that, or don’t have other identities to fall back on, they can’t bear to seriously consider that they may be wrong. (They may pay it lip service, though.)

                      “I’m curious why you chide me about my comment(s) but when there has been a lack of ethics, lack of critical thinking, lack of logic, blatant misrepresentations of others, false accusations that have spurred the comment(s) you are chiding you say nothing about the source of the problem and only focus on the response to the problem.”

                      I know I’ve criticized your reactions before, but in more ways than the one you describe. Offhand, based on your description, I’d say I was most likely trying to point out responses or approaches that would have easily benefited you more than what you actually did. You are admirably principled, and I hate seeing you shoot yourself in the foot when arguing (you really should check out Difficult Conversations; I think literally everyone would find it useful, but you in particular). If you have any particular examples you’re thinking of, I could give you a more specific answer.

                    • Just for the fun of it, I’ll respond to a few of your statements. Don’t feel the need to reply.

                      EC wrote, “You must know, though, that your efforts cannot serve as an excuse to exempt yourself from the consequences…”

                      Of course I know that and I didn’t present them as such. If you were actually under the impression that I presented the things I did as an excuse to exempt then your bias towards me is far worse that I originally thought. What I presented is that I accept who I am even though I’m fully aware that I’m a work in progress.

                      EC wrote, “If you don’t know how to listen…”

                      “Listening”, or better yet for this blog fully comprehending what’s written, on my part is clearly not the problem, but never mind that the problem has been stated, I’m getting kinda used to others skipping over the source of problems.

                      EC wrote, “You clearly understand Barren Blauschwartz’s motivations, but not its methods (and not other people’s motivations).”

                      Motivation is an interesting topic EC. First; when you’re confronted with an online persona portraying an ignorant troll that hides their biases with a facade of utter stupidity that projects being intentionally obtuse, how would you choose to motivate them to change their trolling ways? Second; when you’re confronted with an online persona of a person that’s truly stupid because of their bias and the result of their stupidity is the same obtuseness as the troll mentioned above, how do you motivate that person learn? Third; how do you tell the difference between the two above examples? I’m open to suggestions to add to my arsenal.

                      EC wrote, “You’re too blunt.”

                      That’s your opinion, my opinion differs; oh wait, I’m supposed to be blunt – you’re wrong!

                      EC wrote, “I find it is best to learn as much as you can about them…”

                      So tell me EC, when you learn a lot about them over time and you come to the conclusion that who they appear to be (the persona they portray) conflicts with the claims they make about themself, how would you choose use the knowledge?

                      EC wrote, “gently insert a dagger of doubt”

                      You can choose to be PC if you like; I’m hard wired differently.

                      When that gently inserted dagger of doubt returns continuous misrepresentations of your arguments regardless of whether it’s trolling or stupidity, what do you do?

                      Tell me EC, if you hire an interior decorator to purchase and mount curtains to cover your patio door and the they get curtains that are two feet too short and mount the curtain rod two feet below the top of the patio door so the curtains touch the floor (an actual Bob Newhart Show episode); what do you do? Are you PC like Bob was and “gently insert a dagger of doubt” about the window being too high or the floor being too low or something along those lines or would you be blunt and tell them that they screwed up, bought the wrong height curtains and mounted the rod in the wrong spot, and tell them to do it right?

                      EC wrote, “Most importantly, and something I’ve been forgetting in our argument, people are desperate to know that their identity would still be intact even if they were wrong.”

                      You need to read more, much more, of my comments without a cloud of bias, I honestly think you’ve missed some things because of bias.

                    • “If you were actually under the impression that I presented the things I did as an excuse to exempt then your bias towards me is far worse that I originally thought.”

                      Sorry, I assumed they were excuses because you didn’t accompany them with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, I should cut you some slack, since I know you aren’t a complete idiot. Maybe there’s something I’m missing from your reasoning, that I haven’t been looking for. I’ll try to answer the questions of yours that I’ve brushed off, and ask you some of my own to figure out why you don’t believe what I do.”

                      You’re free not to change, but if you assert something that I find significant fault with, I will continue to let you know. After all, you’d do the same for me. I do think that I take your criticisms into consideration more than you do mine, but maybe I’m assuming too much from the tone of your posts, which seems dismissive to me.

                      “I’m open to suggestions to add to my arsenal.”

                      I suspect that the most effective tools/weapons I have for dealing with fools and trolls will take more time and patience than you find it worth spending, and I don’t blame you a bit.

                      However, if you’re dealing with someone who isn’t a fool or a troll, one of the best tools you can use is a “steelman” argument, which is the opposite of a strawman argument. It’s a technique by which you upgrade their argument into what you would consider a stronger and more robust version of itself: as good a point against your position as you can make it (or you can take inspiration from it to come up with other points against your position). You can confirm with the other person that it’s something they would agree with, and then you can proceed to argue against it (or not, if you happen to agree as well). I’ve done so on this thread a few times, so you can check out those examples. Just search for the word “steelman”.

                      With steelman arguments, you gain credibility with the people you’re arguing with, you avoid descending into quibbling about phrasing issues, and you may even discover flaws in your position that you can address to make your beliefs more consistent and robust. Win-win-win.

                      “Tell me EC, if you hire an interior decorator…”

                      Are you saying that you treat people you’re arguing with as if you had hired them for a job and they screwed it up? If not, I recommend choosing a different analogy. If you’re not their customer, you can’t always be right.

                      I’ve been using these techniques for a long time on this blog, usually whenever religion or issues that religion takes a strong stance on, like gay rights and abortion, are involved. You can observe me using the techniques by reading my posts. To be more specific, though, dagger of doubt I refer to usually consists of me asking things like “Where’d You Get That Idea?” or otherwise asking people to explain a logical leap or assumption. Like I said, it’s not guaranteed to get people to admit they were wrong, but it often leads to a mutual understanding and an agreement on a course of action for the matter at hand, which is more important to me.

                      What do you think?

                    • Chris

                      Analogies focus on a particular feature of a problem. This one focuses on the logic, or lack of it, of using a present state that one knows will evolve and change as an argument for preventing that change. That’s all. Why the trees are being protected, and for whose benefit, are details to set up the analogy, but not relevant to the purpose of the analogy.

                      But the only reason it is wrong to use the present state to justify preventing the change to a future state in your analogy is *because* the reason behind the restriction is solid. Absent the threat to the community posed by the tree rot, there is absolutely nothing wrong with destroying a tree seed. So the *why* is extremely relevant to your analogy.

                    • Doesn’t matter. The analogy only focuses on the basis for justifying the killing of the sapling, not why killing the fruit tree is regarded as wrong/immoral/unethical.

                    • The reasoning required to determine whether killing the sapling is right or wrong is inextricably related to the reason why killing the fully grown tree is wrong in the first place.

                      Since the reason is “we want as many of these trees as possible”, killing a sapling would likely be made illegal, because it would prevent the number of trees from being maximized. If the reason was that fully grown trees released toxins when killed, but saplings don’t, then it would probably be fine to kill them.

                      The reason that the analogy doesn’t work for your purposes is that at no point do we consider the trees to have rights, which is your entire argument against abortion.

                    • No, I have never based that position on rights. We got dragged into the rights discussion because “the right to life” flows from the primacy of life, but it is a result, not the root. I base it on the inherent ethics breach of taking a human life for the interests of another. It’s pure Kant. Then there is reciprocity: we would not have wanted to have our own lives cut short at a similar stage.

                      The over-ride for absolutism is utilitarianism, or balancing. Overcoming the absolute primacy of life requires a gigantic counterbalance, and the pro-abortion argument doesn’t have it—so it tries to minimize the value of the life.

                      uh-uh. Cheating.

                    • My mistake. Let me rephrase that to be more precise.

                      The reason that the analogy doesn’t work for your purposes is that at no point do we consider the trees’ lives to have primacy, which is your entire argument against abortion.

                      It seems like a nitpick to me, but I fixed it anyway because I respect that you draw a distinction between those concepts. How does it read now?

                    • Better. Still, the issue is the false claim that killing something that should not be killed can be justified because the killing will prevent it from reaching the stage of development where it CAN not be legally killed.

                    • It seems to me the question is whether the the law, to enforce ethical behavior, needs to be extended to protect the organism at all stages of development, or whether it should be allowed after all to kill the organism at the earlier stages. Does that describe the situation as you see it?

                      Answering that question still requires that we know why we made killing the later stage of development illegal in the first place.

                    • Chris

                      Honestly Chris are you now intentionally trolling with this rotten bait to see if you can get me riled at your complete stupidity? I will not be sucked into your absolutely absurd nonsense, what you just wrote is not my argument, never has been and never will be, in fact I wrote “that’s just your twisted nonsense, you are either intentionally twisting/misrepresenting my arguments or you’re a blithering idiot.

                      Zoltar, I am glad to hear that it is not your argument that without a functioning neural cortex, you would not be “you.”

                      You have thus conceded that you would not be “you” without a functioning neural cortex.

                      Does it follow from this that you would not be a person without a functioning neural cortex? If not, can you explain why not? Is your concept of “selfhood” different from your concept of “personhood,” and if so, can you clarify the distinction? Can someone be a person without a sense of self?

                      Because if you believe that “selfhood” and “personhood” are the same–or, at the very least, if you believe personhood cannot exist without selfhood–and if you believe that you would not be “you” without a functioning neural cortex, which you have already conceded, then you must also logically concede that fetuses are not yet persons, as they do not yet have a functioning neural cortex, and thus no sense of self.

                      that’s not meant as a deflection

                      Literally everything you have written in this thread has been a deflection. You do still have the chance to engage with the points raised, instead of loudly and proudly declaring that you won’t engage with them, because…why, again? Would it lower you in some way to explain why my arguments are illogical, instead of shouting at me and insulting me? Because despite your projections, it is very clear which of us in this thread is engaging in critical thinking and which of us isn’t. Hint: The one who flat-out says they won’t engage with the arguments isn’t thinking critically.

                      I’m going to keep putting forth arguments. You can keep shouting, if you like. But I’m not going to stop putting forth arguments.

                    • Chris

                      By the *actual* definition of “sapient”, most people, even those in their 235th trimester, are not sapient.

                      OK. Let’s say you’re right about that, though I think you’re defining sapient in a limited way.

                      I have already said that most people agree it’s wrong to harm *sentient* creatures, not just sapient creatures, even if those creatures do not have rights. Do you agree that it’s wrong to harm sentient creatures? If so, do we agree that it’s wrong to do this because sentient creatures have minds and experiences? If that is not the reason, then what is the reason?

                      If that is the reason, then why is it wrong to harm non-sentient creatures such as first-trimester fetuses?

                      You are only rehashing the “can feel pain” argument.

                      That’s part of it, but I’m going further and saying it’s wrong to harm beings that can feel or think at all, and it isn’t wrong to harm beings that cannot do so. A first-trimester fetus doesn’t just “not feel pain,” it cannot experience anything.

                      Jack has explained it on a “philosophical” level. You just don’t like his explanation.

                      I didn’t like it because it was bad, and I explained why. Literally his best explanation was an appeal to an alternate future, or as I like to call it, the Days of Future Past Fallacy. (You’re more knowledgeable about formal rules of rhetoric than I am, so you can tell me if there is already a name for this fallacy.) The fact that a fetus would grow to have a mind and experience things in an alternate future where it wasn’t killed is supposed to be some kind of trump card, but it really tells us nothing about why killing it in this timeline is wrong. A pregnant woman has a mind and rights right now, and you’re saying she is obligated to ensure that a mind comes into being for a consciousness that as of now only exists in an alternate future? She has no such obligations.

                      What “emotionalism”?

                      You’re kidding. Your inaccurate references to “killing babies” wasn’t an attempt at emotional manipulation?

                    • Chris

                      You’ve seen the explanation multiple times but you keep saying no one has explained it as if that’s some sort of actual fact; this is illogical and it’s a lie.

                      You have openly agreed that this unborn human being is in fact a human being, regardless of whether you or anyone else considers that human being to be sentient or sapient, but yet you absolutely refuse to apply the human right to life to that unborn human being. Your continued failure to acknowledge these simple facts show a complete lack of intelligence, logic, and morals.

                      Why should human beings have rights, Zoltar?

                      I am asking you an important philosophical and critical thinking question. I’ve answered this question. You have not.

                      Your explanation that fetuses deserve rights because they are human beings is insufficient, as you have yet to identify why human beings are deserving of rights.

  7. General observation about our society that’s a bit of a deflection from this discussion.

    You want to know what really perplexes me about our current social justice warrior laden society, it’s the lack of social justice warriors on the side of pro-life (anti-abortion) arguments.

    Social justice warriors are all over our society nit-picking on anything that they deem to be morally wrong. It seems like social justice warriors are always on the side of what they perceive to be the purely innocent & oppressed (regardless of truth) and against the evil guilty oppressors (again regardless of truth) but yet here we have an argument about abortion where you have people making an immoral choice to kill a completely innocent human being that has absolutely no physical or legal means to protect themself and the vast majority of the social justice warriors are pro-choice – pro-abortion. Social justice warriors will scream in the streets at the top of their lungs “hands up, don’t shoot” (again regardless of truth) and justify murdering police officers sitting in their cars because police officers are killing “innocent” citizens (again regardless of truth) but yet these same self professed warriors trying to protect the innocent say absolutely nothing about protecting innocent human beings. To these social justice warriors a violent teenager actively slamming the head of a victim into a sidewalk, or a criminal trying to take a police officers firearm, or a drug crazed twenty year old beating the hell out of a police officer in a dark stairway all have more right to live than a completely innocent unborn human being, this seems like a huge moral contradiction to me.

    No matter how pro-choice activists present their arguments, the end result of pro-choice is always the immoral death of a completely innocent human being. How can a sentient society continue to allow these immoral killings to be “legal”? Where does abortion fit on the social justice awareness scale?

    Something is terribly screwed up with out society.

  8. To those of you making arguments in favor of abortion based on consciousness; you are still ignoring the obvious and absolute fact that abortion is killing a human being. Since that fact cannot be changed or denied what do pro-abortion activists do to justify killing an unborn human being, they change the terminology they use, ignore the term human being and try to redefine what a person is, try to shift public opinion with propaganda style rhetoric that projects something considered positive (pro-choice), and try to turn the tables by implying that the constitution gives them the right to kill an unborn human being because it’s an unwanted infestation upon their body, while all along they ignore the fact that pro-choice always kills a human being.

  9. I was talking about this topic in a small group over the weekend and one of my friends that’s always sarcastically joking around trying to lighten things up said something like this; Since an unborn child is dependent upon the mothers womb and the mother can basically ignore the existence of the unborn child and that child will develop and will likely be born at some point in time then it seems to me that an unborn child is actually more “viable” than a born child being because when a born human being is ignored it dies pretty darn quickly. I think that represents what he said well enough.

    Ok, try to swim around in that line of thinking and discuss. 🙂

    • I’ve mentioned many times the inevitable silliness of the “viability” argument. And yes, even 2 year olds are no viable when left alone outside their mother’s womb.

      Also touched on your comment are any of the notions of “level of cognition” or “mental development” as a standard. Because, as far as I remember reading, personalities aren’t fully developed until somewhere around age 5 whereas emotional and mental maturity (that is completeness) doesn’t occur until somewhere between ages 18-25.

      I mean really. If we’re going to base our standards on viability or mental development, the window to play around with for justifying abortion is gigantic.

      • Chris

        You are both demonstrating that you don’t understand the bodily autonomy argument at all. We accept that society requires people do certain things they don’t want to do. If you don’t give your kids up for adoption, you have to raise them. If you let the other parent raise them, you have to pay child support. And of course, everyone has to pay taxes.

        But there are limits. We don’t require people to donate kidneys. We don’t require people to give blood. And we don’t require people to remain pregnant if they don’t want to be pregnant. There is no rational equivalence between arguing that women shouldn’t have to carry pregnancies to term and the argument that parents should be able to kill their born children, and arguing that there is such an equivalence only reveals that you have never given any thought to what it means to be pregnant.

        • Chris,

          It isn’t that they don’t understand the bodily autonomy argument. Rather, they reject it on the standpoint that the bodily autonomy argument runs into a irreconcilable problem when we talk about a woman’s right to the autonomy of her body and the child’s right to the autonomy of his body. What continues to be an issue is that a kidney is not an individual human being — it is an organ. It will not, given a hospitable environment and time to mature, ever become an adult human being. A child, from the moment of conception, will. Thus from the moment of conception, we have a conflict of two bodies, and thus the bodily autonomy argument is worthless. Either the woman has to, at least temporarily, sacrifice her body for the child, or the child, permanently, has to sacrifice his body for the woman. Some other factor has to come into play to differentiate who wins out.

          There is no rational equivalence between arguing that women shouldn’t have to carry pregnancies to term and the argument that parents should be able to kill their born children,

          The equivalence constantly being presented is the logical conclusion to the arguments put forward by abortion advocates. Abortion advocates are searching for a definition that will concretely separate the born from the unborn, but every definition they land on, if made into a legal definition, would apply to the early born as easily as the unborn.

          My wife has been pregnant twice. Each were very difficult for her. She knows quite well what it means to be pregnant. Yet she is adamant that a child deserves legal protection from the moment of conception. I state this to explain that personal experience of being a woman, or being pregnant, does not change the validity of arguments. If it did, then we would find ourselves in the irreconcilable situation where two people with the same experiences come to different conclusions. Two contraries cannot both be true.

          • Chris

            It isn’t that they don’t understand the bodily autonomy argument. Rather, they reject it on the standpoint that the bodily autonomy argument runs into a irreconcilable problem when we talk about a woman’s right to the autonomy of her body and the child’s right to the autonomy of his body. What continues to be an issue is that a kidney is not an individual human being — it is an organ. It will not, given a hospitable environment and time to mature, ever become an adult human being.

            Ok, now *you* are demonstrating that you don’t understand the bodily autonomy argument.

            The analogy is not between kidneys and fetuses, it’s between kidney *recipients* and fetuses. Kidney recipients, like fetuses, are not entitled to have anyone else sacrifice their own bodily autonomy for them.

            A child, from the moment of conception, will. Thus from the moment of conception, we have a conflict of two bodies, and thus the bodily autonomy argument is worthless. Either the woman has to, at least temporarily, sacrifice her body for the child, or the child, permanently, has to sacrifice his body for the woman. Some other factor has to come into play to differentiate who wins out.

            That’s…not how bodily autonomy works. See the kidney donor analogy again. I am not violating the right to bodily autonomy of someone who needs a kidney by refusing to give them mine. They have no right to my body in the first place.

            • Chris,

              The problem of abortion doesn’t come into play until there is a child in play. Another reason the kidney analogy doesn’t work is because a child doesn’t pre-exist a pregnancy, looking for a womb to inhabit. So while a person needing a kidney can’t force someone else to donate a kidney, a child needing a womb already exists in the womb it needs. It can’t help that. The child is in the situation of depending on the mother’s body because someone else decided that sex had to occur. Thus before pregnancy, there is no issue; upon the pregnancy, now there is question of whose autonomy is violated.

              • Chris

                Ok. But a human without a mind does not have the right to autonomy.

                • a human without a mind does not have the right to autonomy

                  There are two things about this that I think are important to point out. First is a matter of definitions. What do you mean by mind? What do you mean without? If by mind you mean brain, we have one thing to work with. If by mind you mean cognizance, we have a different animal. If by without, you mean permanently deprived thereof, we have one scenario. If by without, you mean temporarily deprived, but will regain in the future, we have a different scenario. A child in utero will, absent developmental abnormalities, develop a thinking, reasoning brain. If you then decide that you can impose a time limit on how long the human doesn’t have a thinking, reasoning brain, then we end up in quagmire of issues. How long is long enough? Is a few months acceptable for a human to go without a thinking, reasoning brain before saying that human does not get any rights?

                  And I think you see where I’m headed here, but the second thing that is important to point out is that this argument is going to lead, in Abbott and Costello fashion, back to third base — i.e. showing that if you applied that same reasoning to an infant out of the womb, you could justify infanticide.

                  • Chris

                    By mind, I mean a functional neural cortex.

                    A fetus isn’t just temporarily without a mind. They have *never* had a mind. As EC has illustrated, it is much worse to kill a human who has had a mind that is temporarily not functioning than it is to kill a human who has never had a mind at all.

        • Chris wrote, “We don’t require people to donate kidneys. We don’t require people to give blood. And we don’t require people to remain pregnant if they don’t want to be pregnant.”

          Nice that you removed sex from that ridiculous comparison.

          What about sex Chris? Outside of outright forced sex by means of rape, we don’t “required” people to have sex either. People know that pregnancy is the direct result of sex, people are making a choice knowing the possible consequences, people are making the choice to not do the things needed to prevent pregnancy, and even when they use contraceptives they go into it knowing full well that contraceptives only work a percentage of the time. The only absolute way of not becoming pregnant is to not have sex. Shouldn’t the primary focus be on preventing unwanted pregnancies instead of using abortion as an afterthought contraceptive as your “they don’t want to be pregnant” directly implies?

          • Chris

            houldn’t the primary focus be on preventing unwanted pregnancies instead of using abortion as an afterthought contraceptive as your “they don’t want to be pregnant” directly implies?

            Certainly that should be the focus, which is why I support taxpayer-subsidized contraception, which is proven to reduce the abortion rate by 70%.

            That doesn’t do anything to rebut the bodily autonomy argument, though.

            • Chris wrote, “Certainly that should be the focus, which is why I support taxpayer-subsidized contraception, which is proven to reduce the abortion rate by 70%.”

              Provide links to verifiable studies on this topic.

                • I bet free bodyguards would lead to fewer muggings too, and free vegetables would combat obesity. Some cities think it makes sense to pay at risk kids not to steal, and others pay students for doing their home work.

                  Learning to be responsible requires paying your own way. No American should be required to pay for another citizen’s recreation. This is pure “the ends justify the means” stuff.

                  • Chris

                    Taxpayer-subsidized bodyguards would certainly cost a lot more than taxpayer-subsidized contraception, and would be impractical. Not sure what my position is on subsidized vegetables. If it were founded that doing that would improve health to the point where society saved money in the long run, I think I’d support it.

                    If you believe your goal of promoting your version of responsibility is more important than your goal of reducing abortion, then yours is a consistent position, Jack. I’m talking to the people who believe that abortion is equivalent to baby murder. If I believed that, I’d do a lot of things I might not necessarily like in order to end the practice. Not supporting a fairly minor tax increase to pay for a subsidy that will reducs baby murder strikes me as nuts. How could anything be more important than that?

                    No American should be required to pay for another citizen’s recreation

                    You don’t actually believe this. You’re against public parks? Community softball teams? You’re fine with paying for other citizens’ recreation; just say you’re not fine with paying for their sex.

                    (That wouldn’t be a great argument either, since what you’d really be paying for is their health and safety, and for them to not have children that you’d likely end up paying for through the welfare and prison systems anyway. But it would be more honest. This is ick factor stuff, Jack.)

                    • Duh. Public parks benefit every citizen, and are a core function of government. Giving out goodies to people who like to have a lot of promiscuous and irresponsible sex is not.

                    • Chris

                      Terrible, Jack. I already mentioned how providing free contraception would benefit every citizen: in addition to reducing the abortion rate, it would cut down on women having babies before they’re ready, which would directly reduce poverty and crime.

                      Furthermore, you can’t possibly believe that everyone who uses contraception is “having a lot of promiscuous and irresponsible sex,” and saying that just makes you look like a far-right religious nut. You aren’t that, and you know your premise there is false.

                    • Not terrible. What is terrible is the common fallacy that I have to pay, and should pay, for your bad habits, mistakes, and excesses. Sure, we all “benefit” by paying people not to hurt us or our society. That just makes misconduct profitable, and the basis for shakedowns.

                      As usual—your bad habit, but I’m not going to pay you to stop—I did not write that everyone who uses contraception is “having a lot of promiscuous and irresponsible sex.” But those who do meet that description are among those whose tools of the trade I’m paying for. Since nobody has to have sex except to procreate, all such users are recreational in one way or another. Not my business, not my problem, not my responsibility.

                      Your position is just classic flabby leftist nonsense.

                    • In the interests of steelmanning Jack’s argument, I think the idea is more that the government should not take the place of things that responsible citizens would do on their own. Responsible citizens would have a hard time building a park, but they should be able to manage their own lifestyles. I can get behind that.

                      Yes, some areas have been experimenting with providing free housing for the homeless, and I do support that, but that’s an example of the government stepping in in a time of personal emergency, not replacing the discipline we need to, for instance, brush our teeth every night.

                      Does that make sense, Chris?

                    • Chris

                      Homeless people who loiter in public parks are also among those you pay for when you pay for public parks. That doesn’t take away from the fact that overall, they benefit society.

                      Your position is just classic flabby leftist nonsense.

                      My position is based on what works. Your position is based on getting to feel superior to other people. If that’s more important to you than actually doing anything about the abortion rate, then fine. But don’t pretend you haven’t been told exactly how to bring that rate down. You’d just rather feel superior.

                    • Parks aren’t for sleeping. If a person enjoys a park, where he lives and what he does is irrelevant. He (or she is a citizen.) No different from roads and bridges.

                      A rubber is not a public work, Chris.

                    • Chris

                      I’ve already explained the enormous societal benefits that would come from publicly-funded contraception. (And of course, I’m not just talking about rubbers, which are good at preventing STDs but would be less effective as a subsidized pregnancy prevention tool; aside from the lower failure rate, women are much more likely to use contraception that *they* can control, and that doesn’t even get into the health benefits of hormonal contraception.) You haven’t rebutted any of these societal benefits, and instead have relied on appeals to a Calvinist and prudish doctrine on sex which I do not share. That’s ick factor, not ethics.

                      Subsidizing contraception does not incentivize “misconduct.” Sex with contraceptives is good conduct. Sex without contraceptives, for those who are not willing and capable of raising children, is bad conduct. If you know of any liberals who support subsidizing sex without contraceptives, point me to them. But the point here is not to subsidize “recreation,” (which as you’ve already shown, you don’t oppose in principle—only when it comes to sex), the point is to cut down on abortions and unwanted pregnancies. Society has an interest in that.

                      Do you have an alternate plan on how to reduce abortions and unwanted pregnancies?

                    • I think it’s a good point about long-term contraceptives. Those are more expensive, and due to the gender-based cost differences, I would not consider it unreasonable for someone to advocate subsidizing it to distribute the costs more equally between males and females. The issue of whether to do so is not a matter of right and wrong, but what we as a society consider humans entitled to do as part of a “normal” life and what we’re willing to pay to make that happen. We allow conjugal visits for prisoners, and I confess I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m taking that as evidence that society considers people at least somewhat entitled to have sex as part of a healthy life. I don’t have a strong opinion on this at the moment, though.

                    • I can’t tell if that comment was intentionally satirical, not nevertheless, it was pretty funny. Bravo.

                    • Thanks; I was being rather wry.

                      I like to point out overlooked angles on issues, no matter which way they may point.

                    • Chris wrote, “I’m talking to the people who believe that abortion is equivalent to baby murder.”

                      No one here is saying that abortion is murder, so you aren’t talking to anyone in this thread or you’re lying about others in this thread or you’re using your usual tactic of intentionally misrepresenting others with hyperbole.

                      It’s been mentioned before but you must not have comprehended it; big surprise. Murder is a very specific thing; it’s the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Key word in that definition is “lawful”. Is abortion premeditated, yes; is abortion killing a human being, yes; is abortion unlawful, no; therefore, abortion is a lawful means of killing a human being.

                    • If the argument is about whether abortion should be lawful or unlawful, then yes, using arguments about it being seen as murder by the side that wants abortion to be illegal IS a valid point to make.

                    • Chris

                      If it helps, Zoltar, change my statement to “I’m talking to the people who believe that abortion *should be considered* equivalent to baby murder.”

        • Chris wrote, “You are both demonstrating that you don’t understand the bodily autonomy argument at all.”

          That was a completely idiotic thing to write; I didn’t demonstrate anything of the sort!

          • What’s to understand? The autonomy argument is as straightforward as it gets. Women should be the complete arbiters of what their own bodies do. The law should not tell them when they can get their tubes tied, have sex, use or not use birth control, have a baby. That’s why Roe was (wrongly) decided on privacy grounds. But pregnancy and child birth is a special case. We don’t say that autonomy excuses a woman drinking booze all through a pregnancy. If she chose to take a drug that would deform her baby, presumably autonomy alone wouldn’t e a sufficient justification.

        • I don’t think it’s useful to bring bodily autonomy into this. As far as I’m concerned, at the “point” where a sapient being comes into existence inside a person, due to the actions and choices of that person, that person’s bodily autonomy is forfeit. It’s not really much of an ethical contest at that point, except where rape is concerned. I’m only trying to establish what I think the obvious point is; that there is some nonzero amount of time after conception during which a developing organism is not a sapient being and thus does not have the same right to life that we grant to adult humans. That’s what my “human egg” thought experiment is about.

      • I agree that the viability criterion is completely arbitrary and a foolish argument. I think that the mental development criterion is closer to a good idea, but you’re right that as it stands now, it has too many facets and is too continuous to be very useful for drawing any lines.

    • Chris

      I was talking about this topic in a small group over the weekend and one of my friends that’s always sarcastically joking around trying to lighten things up said something like this; Since an unborn child is dependent upon the mothers womb and the mother can basically ignore the existence of the unborn child

      Three immediate assumptions come to mind:

      1) Your friend has never been pregnant
      2) Your friend is a man
      3) Your friend doesn’t have any idea how difficult pregnancy is.

      Please correct me if any of these assumptions are wrong.

      • Chris wrote, “Three immediate assumptions come to mind:”

        You know what they say about assumptions…

        Chris wrote, “1) Your friend has never been pregnant”

        Incorrect. She’s a mother of three. Two natural and one adopted. She had multiple miscarriages prior to her two being born.

        Chris wrote, “2) Your friend is a man

        Incorrect. See above.

        Chris wrote, “3) Your friend doesn’t have any idea how difficult pregnancy is.

        Incorrect. Two of her children are twins and it was a complicated pregnancy with lots of bed rest.

        Do you have any more assumptions that I can dismantle?

        You know Chris, it you didn’t spend so much time cherry pick phrases out of context in search of gotcha’s, you wouldn’t make so many bad assumptions.

        • Chris

          Two of her children are twins and it was a complicated pregnancy with lots of bed rest

          Then why on earth would your friend say something as stupid and false as “the mother can basically ignore the existence of the unborn child?” She knows from experience that this is not true, and yet she said it anyway to advance her personal viewpoint on abortion.

          This happens; we all occasionally make bad arguments. But hopefully you see now why her argument is stupid and based on false premises.

          • Chris wrote, “Then why on earth would your friend say something as stupid and false as “the mother can basically ignore the existence of the unborn child?” “

            Really Chris? Does the word context mean anything at all to you?

            • Chris

              Of course, but I am at a loss as to how the context of the conversation made her statement any more valid. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

              • Chris,
                More of your full blown obtuseness.

                I keep on reminding myself to never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity when I’m in conversions with you, I actually have a note on my computer monitor with that quote, but it just doen’t work for you. Why is that?

                This conversation is now over.

    • I just noticed my typo that probably led to Chris’ assumptioins…

      “I think that represents what she said well enough.”

      I miss full depressing the “s” key on my keyboard way too often, come to think of it I miss other keys with my left hand too, must be because I’m a rightie. I’ll try to watch out for that better. Sorry Chris if you got the wrong impression because of my poor t7ping.

      • Well crap! typing not t7ping! I give up. 😦

        • Chris

          I actually didn’t notice that. My impression was that your friend was a man because they said that pregnant women can basically ignore their unborn fetuses. That’s a ridiculous thing to say, and it struck me as something that only someone who would never even have to think about being pregnant would believe.

          Your clarification helps; I now see that your friend knows that what she said was false, but rationalized away her own experience due to cognitive dissonance.

          • Chris wrote, “I now see that your friend knows that what she said was false, but rationalized away her own experience due to cognitive dissonance.”

            On behalf of my friend; now you’re being a real asshole Chris.

            • Chris

              Your friend’s statement is indefensible, which is why you refuse to provide a defense.

              Your friend said that a pregnant woman can “basically ignore” the fetus inside of her. Your friend knows that is not true, due to her history of difficult pregnancies. Everyone with any knowledge of pregnancy knows this is not true.

              I am not attacking your friend; I am attacking her statement, which was not only false, but obviously false.

              I’ve noticed every time you cannot defend a position on this site, you resort to insults and dodges. This is immature. Either defend the statement, or admit it is wrong.

              • Read the original quote again, Chris. The friend Zoltar Speaks! was quoting was making a sarcastic joke. The statement is ridiculous because it was meant to be so. You missed that and didn’t go back to check, and Zoltar Speaks! didn’t correct you but instead kept hinting at your mistake. I think a communication class is in order.

                • With all due respect EC; Chris is supposed to be an English teacher and I only have so much time available to spend correcting the constant poor comprehension skills of a self professed English teacher, eventually you just give up on the BS and attribute it to intentional argumentative obtuseness (trolling) and give them room to sink them self.

                  • I understand your frustration, and you have no binding obligation to keep making the effort, to be sure. But with great respect, if I were to attribute it to trolling when I believe that a person is failing to respond cogently to my arguments, I might not be talking to you about this particular subject, and then we certainly wouldn’t get anywhere. Someone has to keep listening, so I’m going to do it because so few others rise to the challenge.

                    (I don’t even lose out if it turns out by Poe’s Law that I’m talking to a real troll. I get to hone my skills with identifying poor reasoning and countering it with poise, elegance, and finesse. It’s like lifting weights: the point isn’t that any useful work is performed. It just makes me stronger for when I want to do actual useful work.)

                • Chris

                  EC,

                  I did note that Zoltar said his friend was joking, but I was unclear on what the joke was supposed to be, and why he brought it up. It seemed to me Zoltar thought there was a valid point in his friend’s statement, one that supported his anti-abortion argument; however, as I explained, the joke coupled with his description of his friend’s personal circumstances seemed to undermine his point rather than bolster it.

                  I’ve given Zoltar multiple chances to explain what he was going for, why he brought this up, and what it was intended to illuminate, but as usual, he has responded with only insults.

  10. “They” keep tossing this bodily autonomy argument out as if it is the catch all, end all argument without really thinking it through.

    I know what they are trying to say but I’d like to focus on what’s out there for a definition. The simplest definition I can find for bodily autonomy is “a person having control over whom or what uses their body, for what, and for how long.”

    This is not factually accurate in all situations, there are hard limits to the “how long” portion of that definition.

    It is true that a person cannot be forced to donate a kidney, etc. The person has control of who uses their body and what they use it for but on the “how long” aspect of the argument, they cannot have control over how long when they make a permanent choice to donate a kidney. They cannot take that kidney back because they changed their mind, or the person is using it longer than originally expected, or now they actually need it back. They made a choice and that choice was permanent and that choice affects the life of another human being, it would be wildly immoral to forcibly take a donated kidney back from a recipient.

    Now you’re going to say thanks Mr. Obvious, right?

    Well, now we can apply the bodily autonomy limitation knowledge we just talked about in other ways.

    Other than forcible rape; a woman has full control of who was using her body for sexual intercourse. By choosing to have sexual intercourse and knowing full well that the act itself can result in pregnancy, I firmly believe that the female has fully accepted the possible permanent consequences of said action and therefore is responsible for following through with all the consequences of that action – as is the father. She/he chose to mix the ingredients required to make a human being and then she decides to just kill it because she doesn’t want to be pregnant; I’m sorry folks, this is not baking a cake where you just toss out your mistakes because you know it’s going to wreaked havoc to the oven it’s being cooked in, this is the life of a human being that you knowingly “chose” to make and I think it is wildly immoral to kill that unborn human being.

    In my opinion; laws must be enacted to remove the I don’t want to be pregnant afterthought abortion choice as an option; but until then we’re stuck with it and all we can do is keep on raising the moral issues. Protecting unborn human life will win in the end and the people engaging in sex will have to make better choices because killing a human being as an afterthought will no longer be permitted or accepted in our society.

    There can be reasonable medical exceptions that require the medical procedure abortion to save the life of the mother but it would need to be watched closely so it’s not abused.

    • “I firmly believe that the female has fully accepted the possible permanent consequences of said action and therefore is responsible for following through with all the consequences of that action – as is the father.”

      Bullseye when the consequences are the life of another human being.

  11. To anyone that supports “pro-choice”…

    I have read this thread, I have searched far and wide, and here is the core foundation that pro-choice advocates have built their world around, bodily autonomy, that’s it folks, there’s absolutely nothing more; in fact, absolutely every other argument presented is presented to rationalize their opinion that bodily autonomy is their catch all, end all argument. They are loosing ground on the bodily autonomy argument so now they’re trying to redefine when a human being is a human being, when a person is a person, generally what life is, whatever the hell you want to call it they are trying to redefine it so they can continue to justify killing it.

    Bodily autonomy is “a person having control over whom or what uses their body, for what, and for how long.”

    Rationalize: is an attempt to explain or justify (one’s own or another’s behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.

    Here’s what the pro-abortion/pro-choice advocates refuse to acknowledge about their catch all end all bodily autonomy argument; the woman having control over whom or what uses their body and for what and the man are both making a choice that has permanent life changing consequences, they are choosing to mix the ingredients required to make a human being. The moment a female knowingly chooses to allow a penis inside her vagina for the purpose of sexual intercourse knowing full well that the consequences can be a permanent and life changing pregnancy, she voids the how long portion of the bodily autonomy argument because she has already made the choice related to bodily autonomy and that choice has permanent consequences. You can argue until you’re blue in the face and it will not change those simple facts of life.

    Allowing women that have literally made a bodily autonomy choice that has put them in a position they don’t “like” to use the bodily autonomy argument as the basis to void their previous bodily autonomy choice is not logical. Abortion rights advocates are presenting the bodily autonomy argument as a Constitutional right, which I believe is completely reasonable; however, when you exercise your bodily autonomy right and make a choice that has permanent consequences you don’t get to exercise the same bodily autonomy right to reverse your previous bodily autonomy choice and kill the human being consequence.

    I reject the bodily autonomy argument that us used to justify abortion.

    I reject all rationalizations that are presented to support abortion by redefining life.

    Abortion is killing a human being; period!

    Abortion is a scourge to morality.

    The abortion argument has been a huge drag on our society dragging it into moral bankruptcy, as far as I’m concerned everyone that is arguing in favor of pro-abortion/pro-choice is either teetering on the verge of complete moral bankruptcy or has already crossed the line into full blown ends justifies the means immorality.

    The end result of pro-life is literally life; the end result of pro-choice is literally death and there is absolutely no argument that can refute those facts.

    • Another stupid typo, Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh…

      “I reject the bodily autonomy argument that us used to justify abortion.”

      …should be…

      “I reject the bodily autonomy argument that is used to justify abortion.”

    • Chris

      I have read this thread, I have searched far and wide, and here is the core foundation that pro-choice advocates have built their world around, bodily autonomy, that’s it folks, there’s absolutely nothing more; in fact, absolutely every other argument presented is presented to rationalize their opinion that bodily autonomy is their catch all, end all argument.

      You have not read the thread, or you have not understood it. The main focus of the argument was originally personhood, not bodily autonomy. I have also said that I believe second trimester abortions should remain illegal except for the health of the mother; if bodily autonomy were my “catch all, end all argument,” that could not be my position. Because my focus is on personhood, the bodily autonomy argument only goes as far as the first trimester, when the fetus does not yet have the ability to think or feel pain, and thus has no selfhood. After that the fetus’s right to life emerges and outweighs the woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

      EC has not focused on bodily autonomy at all.

      In summary, you are making things up.

      They are loosing ground on the bodily autonomy argument so now they’re trying to redefine when a human being is a human being, when a person is a person, generally what life is, whatever the hell you want to call it they are trying to redefine it so they can continue to justify killing it.

      You have not read the thread, or you have not understood it. No one here has tried to say that fetuses are not human beings or lives. You are making that up.

      We have been very clear to differentiate the terms “person,” “human,” and “life,” because those three terms have different meanings in philosophy and law, a fact you were apparently unaware of prior to this conversation and have refused to learn during this conversation. Not a single portion of your screed addresses any of our arguments for why it is wise to make these distinctions, and as I explained, you’ve now shown several times that you aren’t even following our arguments at all.

      Your comment is therefore completely non-responsive. Please try and actually address and rebut the arguments. This requires that you understand them and don’t misrepresent them.

      • This has gone way too far.

        Hanlon’s razor; there just seems to be no other explanation anymore.

        Chris is not a troll as once suspected he is a fool, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, clod, moron, stupid; what ever the hell you choose to call it, Chris is literally an idiot. At least Chris being a troll was a choice on “his” part that was fixable.

        Idiot: A stupid person.

        “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” George Carlin

        • Chris

          You’re embarrassing yourself with this non-responsive ad hom. I have already shown you how you’ve misrepresented the arguments. Need more evidence? This is a comment from EC on this thread:

          That sounds eminently reasonable to me. That’s why I regard the bodily autonomy argument for abortion as intellectually dishonest, or just plain selfish. I don’t know which, if either, is worse.

          Yet you wrote that bodily autonomy was the “core” of the pro-choice argument on this thread, that there was “nothing else,” even though it was only a small part of my argument and the only other pro-choicer here rejected that argument entirely.

          And I’m the idiot?

          You need to do some serious self-reflection. Your behavior here is out of control.

          • Chris wrote, “you wrote that bodily autonomy was the “core” of the pro-choice argument on this thread…”

            NO you blithering idiot that’s not what I wrote!

            Try again.

            • Chris

              *sigh* I don’t know why I’m even engaging with this disrespectful nonsense at this point. Maybe so you can’t say I didn’t try?

              I have read this thread, I have searched far and wide, and here is the core foundation that pro-choice advocates have built their world around, bodily autonomy, that’s it folks, there’s absolutely nothing more; in fact, absolutely every other argument presented is presented to rationalize their opinion that bodily autonomy is their catch all, end all argument.

              I interpreted that as meaning this:

              “you wrote that bodily autonomy was the “core” of the pro-choice argument on this thread…

              My first instinct, when you said that you did not say this, was that you were lying.

              However, I think it’s possible you meant that the core of pro-choice advocates as a movement is bodily autonomy.

              Is that correct?

              Because that is not at all clear from what you wrote.

              Let’s look at this sentence:

              I have read this thread, I have searched far and wide, and here is the core foundation that pro-choice advocates have built their world around, bodily autonomy, that’s it folks, there’s absolutely nothing more

              The word “and” there implies a conclusion from the previous clause. It suggests that your conclusion about the core foundation of pro-choice advocates follows from you reading this thread. “Searching far and wide” also implied, to me, searching this thread for arguments. Since your conclusion about pro-choice advocates couldn’t possibly have been drawn from this thread, to me the above quote from you seemed like a misrepresentation of this thread.

              But again: it seems you were not actually describing the pro-choice advocates in this thread, and simply misused the word “and.”

              HOWEVER.

              You then said this:

              They are loosing ground on the bodily autonomy argument so now they’re trying to redefine when a human being is a human being, when a person is a person, generally what life is, whatever the hell you want to call it they are trying to redefine it so they can continue to justify killing it.

              There are two lies in this section. No one on this thread has tried to redefine when a human being is a human being. No one has tried to redefine what “life” is.” The only term above we have debated is “person,” and that’s not so much a “redefinition” as it is building on definitions that already exist in philosophy and law.

              Please retract these lies.

              • Chris wrote, “I think it’s possible you meant that the core of pro-choice advocates as a movement is bodily autonomy.”

                “Possible”? Give me a break Chris; it’s very obvious if you don’t cherry pick the statement out of the context of the whole paragraph. Your comprehension skills are absolutely terrible.

                Chris wrote, “There are two lies in this section. No one on this thread has tried to redefine when a human being is a human being. No one has tried to redefine what ‘life’ is.”

                There are absolutely zero lies in the statement you quoted. Only a fool would make claims of lies based solely upon what they have already acknowledged as the strong possibility of their own lack of comprehension.

                Chris wrote, “Please retract these lies.”

                There are no lies, I have no lies to retract. How about you retract your entire November 22, 2017 at 11:29 am comment and the one you posted at November 22, 2017 at 10:34 am.

    • “…when you exercise your bodily autonomy right and make a choice that has permanent consequences you don’t get to exercise the same bodily autonomy right to reverse your previous bodily autonomy choice and kill the human being consequence.”

      I agree. That makes perfect sense to me, which is why I don’t think the bodily autonomy argument carries any ethical weight.

      • Chris

        This is where I think we part ways, EC, but I’m having trouble articulating why. Perhaps you can help. It requires another hypothetical question: if artificial wombs existed, would it be wrong to kill a first trimester fetus gestating in one, even if that fetus does not yet have a functioning neural cortex? I’d say yes, though not because the fetus has a right to life; I am still trying to determine why I think it’s wrong, though. But if bodily autonomy does not matter at all, then there is no difference between a pregnant woman aborting her first trimester fetus and terminating a fetus that will survive just fine in an artificial womb without her.

        Does that make sense?

        • Yes, it makes sense. When I did my “human egg” thought experiment, which is equivalent to your artificial womb one, I felt an aversion to the idea of killing the first trimester fetus as well. For me it’s the same feeling that’s associated with the idea of destroying a work of art. Technically no person is hurt, but it’s needless destruction and a waste of a magnificently complex structure that could create happiness in the world. The only difference is that the artwork would bring happiness without changing, while the fetus would bring happiness by developing into a person. Does that sound like how you feel? I didn’t have the words for that until you prompted me to articulate it, so thanks for raising the issue.

          • Chris

            Yes, all of that makes sense, EC. But it doesn’t quite answer my question. If it’s unethical go destroy the fetus in the artificial womb but not unethical to destroy the same fetus if it’s inside of you, that’s all down to bodily autonomy, no?

            • Sorry, I didn’t realize you were asking that question. Yes, once you introduce bodily autonomy, that provides what I think could be reasonably considered justification for the destruction of the aforementioned complex structure (art or fetus), which we would consider it wasteful (maybe unethically so?) to destroy if it was just sitting there, not affecting anyone. However, I think it would be unreasonable to claim that bodily autonomy justified destroying a person. Does that answer your question?

              • Chris

                Yes, perfectly. I agree with the answer, too, which is why I think abortions after the development of the neural cortex should remain illegal except for extreme cases.

  12. If I can belatedly pour some oil on these waters: recall that Spartan, an abortion supporter, has called it a “necessary evil.” It may even be an unavoidable evil, where a reasonable balance is impossible, so only a politically palatable balance is the result. However, as I have seen for decades, it is literally impossible to make an intellectually honest and factually valid argument in favor of abortion while claiming there is no eveil involved without sounding obtuse, dishonest, callous, stupid, or all of the above.

    Chris is doing his best, and doing it as well as any other abortion advocate who can’t bring themselves to admit that abortion is the legal killing of human being whose only crime is being weak, powerless, and a burden, one way or another.

    Everyone is being too hard on him.

    • Even though Spartan and I tend to disagree reasonably often, I’d rather debate eight days a week with Spartan as opposed to one random minute with the utter idiocy of Chris.

    • Chris

      I appreciate that, Jack, but I need to make two clarifications:

      Yes, abortion is the legal killing of a human being. Haven’t I said that already? I don’t believe that first trimester fetuses–which make up 99% of abortions–are persons. But they are human beings. (“Crime” doesn’t enter into it; no one claims that the fetus has done anything wrong.)

      As for “evil,” I don’t know if I’d use that word, but ending a human life is always a tragedy, even if that human life has not yet developed into a person yet. It should be avoided when possible, which is why I favor subsidized contraception. But I don’t know if I can call it an “evil.”

      • Chris,
        What you have completely ignored is the fact that without the core foundation of bodily autonomy abortion advocates have absolutely nothing to support any argument to kill an unborn human being; every argument other than bodily autonomy in support of pro-choice is a rationalization in support of that one single core foundation, remove that core foundation and all arguments in favor of killing an unborn human being crumble and the rationalizations become evil.

        Evil: profoundly immoral and malevolent.

        • Chris

          Ok.

          Even if that’s true, what’s your point? Are you arguing that people don’t have a right to bodily autonomy? That the first trimester’s right to life outweighs the right to bodily autonomy? I have no idea what your actual argument is, because all you’re doing is insulting the other side’s arguments without providing any actual rebuttals. Calling an argument a “rationalization” is not the same as rebutting it.

          But since you insist, let’s take bodily autonomy out of the equation and see what that looks like. Let’s say artificial wombs exist, and instead of killing the fetus, women have the option of simply transferring a first trimester fetus into an artificial womb. Would it then be wrong to kill the fetus? Even though I don’t agree that fetuses without a neural cortex have a right to life, I might still consider that action wrong, as it results in needless death. This would not be a rights-based analysis, though; it is wrong for other reasons, not because the fetus has a right to life.

          This shows the limits of my robot analogy; I said previously that turning off a non-sapient robot that one knew would eventually develop sapience isn’t wrong. However, that was assuming a sapient robot would be the first of its kind; the operator may not believe the world is ready for such a being, or might fear the consequences of a sapient AI. In a world where sapient robots are common and coexist with humans, turning off a robot before it develops sapience—provided there are no bodily autonomy implications, i.e. the robot needing to attach itself to a human life-force to live—might be unethical.

          But bodily autonomy does exist, and artificial wombs do not. Since the core of my argument is that first trimester fetuses have no sapience and thus no personhood and no rights, the woman’s right of bodily autonomy absolutely matters, in that it means she can ethically abort the fetus. Were artificial wombs an option, she would be ethically required to transfer the fetus to one in order to avoid needless killing. But as that is not currently an option, abortion in the first trimester is ethical. After that point, the fetus develops a neural cortex, thus sapience, thus personhood and the right to life, and that right outweighs her right to bodily autonomy.

          • Chris wrote, “Are you arguing that people don’t have a right to bodily autonomy?”

            Nope. The fact is that I quite clearly stated above “Abortion rights advocates are presenting the bodily autonomy argument as a Constitutional right, which I believe is completely reasonable”. What part of that did you not comprehend?

            Chris wrote, “That the first trimester’s right to life outweighs the right to bodily autonomy?”

            Nope; Again Chris, the fact is that I quite clearly stated above “The moment a female knowingly chooses to allow a penis inside her vagina for the purpose of sexual intercourse knowing full well that the consequences can be a permanent and life changing pregnancy, she voids the how long portion of the bodily autonomy argument because she has already made the choice related to bodily autonomy and that choice has permanent consequences.”. What part of that did you not comprehend?

            Comprehension and retention of what was comprehended are very important things Chris.

            Chris wrote, “I have no idea what your actual argument is…”

            Yet again Chris, I’ve already explained quite bluntly why you don’t “get” the things you read. If that comment wasn’t enough to ring your “I’m being stupid” bell then nothing is.

            Chris wrote, “…all you’re doing is insulting the other side’s arguments without providing any actual rebuttals.”

            Saying that does not make it factually true; the actual facts show otherwise.

            Chris wrote, “Calling an argument a “rationalization” is not the same as rebutting it.”

            Well thank you for that bit of accurate logical reasoning Mr. Obvious.

            You seem to have this false assumption that just because someone went to the effort to use rationalization(s) as their argument(s) that those rationalizations are required to be rebutted. Your rationalizations, or any of your arguments, are not my argument and I have no obligation to rebut or support them. My only obligation is to support my own arguments.

            Rationalize: is an attempt to explain or justify (one’s own or another’s behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.

            Chris wrote, “But since you insist, let’s take bodily autonomy out of the equation and see what that looks like.”

            Context of the whole argument, context. You must take into consideration my comment on this at November 22, 2017 at 9:52 am which is the whole argument not just a sliver as was stated at November 22, 2017 at 2:14 pm. I haven’t said that bodily autonomy doesn’t exist at all nor have I said that it shouldn’t exist at all.

            I’m not going to entertain any of your hypotheticals.

            Chris wrote, “But bodily autonomy does exist”

            I haven’t said that it doesn’t exist; I’ve said that the woman voided her right to post sex bodily autonomy in regards to abortion because she has already made the choice to accept the consequences of her choice by actively engage in sexual intercourse which was in fact a bodily autonomy choice with possible permanent consequences, which is a point that you either can’t comprehend or you’ve completely ignored.

            Chris wrote, “Since the core of my argument is that first trimester fetuses have no sapience and thus no personhood…”

            The core of your argument is an irrelevant rationalization in the scope of the core foundation of bodily autonomy.

            Chris wrote, “…and no rights…”

            The only reason that an unborn human being currently has no rights prior to the arbitrary point you’ve described is because the Supreme Court of the United States literally stripped them of their rights prior to that point. I firmly believe the Supreme Court got it wrong.

            Chris wrote, “…the woman’s right of bodily autonomy absolutely matters”

            All human beings right to bodily autonomy absolutely matters and it matters a great deal! I’ve never heard of anyone that is actually opposed to bodily autonomy, have you?

            Chris wrote, “…the woman’s right of bodily autonomy absolutely matters, in that it means she can ethically abort the fetus.”

            No it doesn’t! Again; the woman voided her right to post sex bodily autonomy in regards to abortion because she has already made the choice to accept the consequences of her choice by actively engage in sexual intercourse which was in fact a bodily autonomy choice with possible permanent consequences.

            The woman made a bodily autonomy choice to mix the components required to create a human being within her body, claiming bodily autonomy in an effort to kill that consequences of her bodily autonomy choice is wrong in every respect.

            • Chris

              Zoltar,

              You are right; I had forgotten your argument about women voiding bodily autonomy in regards to abortion upon engaging in sexual intercourse, and I should have gone back and re-read before posting that last comment.

              I do not agree that women void their rights to bodily autonomy in regards to abortion whenever they have sex. The idea that people void any rights upon engaging in a legal and ethical activity doesn’t hold up to me. Let’s take self-defense as an example: Do people give up their rights to self-defense when they fail to install security systems into their house? After all, they know the potential consequences of their decision. Police officers know they are signing up for a dangerous job, and do so with full knowledge of the possible consequences; does that mean they give up the right to self-defense upon getting their badge? Did George Zimmerman give up his right to self-defense when he chose to follow Trayvon Martin?

              The right to bodily autonomy, like the right to self-defense, does not become forfeit as the result of a legal decision, even if that decision is irresponsible and creates a potential danger to another life.

              It’s too bad you won’t engage with my hypotheticals. They go to the root of why people have rights, what a person is, and why it is wrong to kill people. Ignoring them is to ignore the central question under debate here: are fetuses persons? You’ve answered yes and provided your criteria, but refusing to engage with the hypotheticals means refusing to consider whether your criteria are rational and consistent.

              The only reason that an unborn human being currently has no rights prior to the arbitrary point you’ve described is because the Supreme Court of the United States literally stripped them of their rights prior to that point. I firmly believe the Supreme Court got it wrong

              Sapience is not an “arbitrary point.” EC and I have explained in detail why it is the best possible criteria for determining rights. See again the analogies to sapient robots, aliens and animals. Ignoring these analogies does not prove they are not strong.

              • Chris wrote, “I do not agree that women void their rights to bodily autonomy in regards to abortion whenever they have sex.”

                Do you think that making a choice to have sexual intercourse is making a bodily autonomy choice?

                Chris wrote, “The idea that people void any rights upon engaging in a legal and ethical activity doesn’t hold up to me.”, “The right to bodily autonomy… does not become forfeit as the result of a legal decision, even if that decision is irresponsible and creates a potential danger to another life.

                So you don’t think there are hard limits to the “how long” portion of the bodily autonomy definition just limits to the bodily autonomy argument as it conflicts with the rights of an unborn human being as defined by the Supreme Court; I’m I understanding you correctly? If so; you might want to spend some quality time doing some genuine critical thinking about your opinion on that.

                I think your self defense analogies are nonsense in relation to this conversation.

                Chris wrote, “It’s too bad you won’t engage with my hypotheticals.”

                Hypotheticals, or what if’s, are a waste of everyone’s time in discussions like this, they can go on forever or as long as those engaging in them have creative minds to write them; it’s endless argumentative drivel and they’re almost always irrelevant because it not real. You want to dance around points thinking in hypotheticals I can’t stop you but I don’t have to waste my time with them.

                We can argue back and forth about my use of the word arbitrary, I think it’s arbitrary and irrelevant because it’s nothing but a rationalization used to support the bodily autonomy argument for abortion which I believe is false after the bodily autonomy choice to have sexual intercourse is already been made.

                • Chris

                  Do you think that making a choice to have sexual intercourse is making a bodily autonomy choice?

                  Yes, of course.

                  So you don’t think there are hard limits to the “how long” portion of the bodily autonomy definition just limits to the bodily autonomy argument as it conflicts with the rights of an unborn human being as defined by the Supreme Court; I’m I understanding you correctly?

                  I think so. Although I can’t recall; did Roe v. Wade specifically rule on whether fetuses have rights? I don’t think the justices’ decision directly addressed that question; the decision was mostly based on the right to privacy, and if I recall correctly, the question of whether the fetus had the right to life was sidestepped entirely.

                  If so; you might want to spend some quality time doing some genuine critical thinking about your opinion on that.

                  I think I have.

                  I think your self defense analogies are nonsense in relation to this conversation.

                  Can you explain why? The purpose was to point out that we do not forfeit rights when we make certain legal decisions, even irresponsible decisions. The self-defense analogies were designed to show examples of instances where we do not do that. If you can name examples of instances in which we do forfeit rights when making legal decisions, then you may disprove my point.

                  Hypotheticals, or what if’s, are a waste of everyone’s time in discussions like this, they can go on forever or as long as those engaging in them have creative minds to write them; it’s endless argumentative drivel and they’re almost always irrelevant because it not real. You want to dance around points thinking in hypotheticals I can’t stop you but I don’t have to waste my time with them.

                  I don’t know what to say except that you are wrong. The usefulness of hypotheticals has been articulated here many times. They are at the root of philosophy. The usefulness of these analogies has also been clearly laid out. If you are not willing to consider whether sapient beings other than humans might have rights, then you cannot develop a solid foundation for rejecting the idea of rights based on sapience. You’re simply rejecting it out of hand, without giving it any critical thought.

                  We can argue back and forth about my use of the word arbitrary, I think it’s arbitrary and irrelevant because it’s nothing but a rationalization

                  This is circular logic. “It’s arbitrary because it’s a rationalization” is no more meaningful than “It’s a rationalization because it’s arbitrary.” Rationalizations are inherently illogical, but you haven’t demonstrated that basing rights on sapience is illogical. You have yet to poke any holes in the rights-based-on-sapience argument because you won’t even engage it seriously enough to figure out if there’s anything wrong with it.

                  • Chris wrote, “Although I can’t recall; did Roe v. Wade specifically rule on whether fetuses have rights? I don’t think the justices’ decision directly addressed that question; the decision was mostly based on the right to privacy, and if I recall correctly, the question of whether the fetus had the right to life was sidestepped entirely.”

                    That’s not entirely true Chris. Simply by defining an arbitrary point where abortion is legal vs not legal they effectively ruled that prior to that point, when abortion is legal, the unborn human being has absolutely no rights including the right to live.

                    Chris wrote, “This is circular logic.”

                    It wasn’t my best wording for a sentence; allow me to clear that up some. If you apply the word “because” only to the word irrelevant and not arbitrary it reflects my intent.

                    It’s arbitrary specifically because they could have picked absolutely any point in the growth of the developing unborn human being right up to and including the actual moment of birth; e.g. detectable heartbeat, physical movement of any kind, brain activity of any kind, sucking thumb, excess of 1,000,000 cells, noticeable arms and legs, growth of fingernails, literally any point in the development whatsoever – it’s all opinion regardless of how they came up with the opinion.

                    It’s irrelevant specifically because it is a rationalization in support of bodily autonomy when in fact the bodily autonomy choice regarding the life of the unborn human being was already made and the consequences accepted at the point of sexual intercourse.

                    Again…

                    Rationalize: is an attempt to explain or justify (one’s own or another’s behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.

                    • Chris

                      That’s not entirely true Chris. Simply by defining an arbitrary point where abortion is legal vs not legal they effectively ruled that prior to that point, when abortion is legal, the unborn human being has absolutely no rights including the right to live.

                      Not necessarily. Some argue that the first trimester fetus might have rights, but they are simply superseded by the rights of the mother. But the Supreme Court remains agnostic on the question of fetal rights as far as I’m aware.

                      It’s arbitrary specifically because they could have picked absolutely any point in the growth of the developing unborn human being right up to and including the actual moment of birth; e.g. detectable heartbeat, physical movement of any kind, brain activity of any kind, sucking thumb, excess of 1,000,000 cells, noticeable arms and legs, growth of fingernails, literally any point in the development whatsoever – it’s all opinion regardless of how they came up with the opinion.

                      Who’s “they?” The Supreme Court didn’t say that sapience should be the dividing line between persons and non-persons; EC and I are making that argument, and many others do, and we have tried to explain why it is not arbitrary and in fact superior to other criteria. A robot with fingernails is not a person, but a robot with sapience would be. You’re still not addressing the sapience issue on the merits.

              • Chris wrote, “I do not agree that women void their rights to bodily autonomy in regards to abortion whenever they have sex. The idea that people void any rights upon engaging in a legal and ethical activity doesn’t hold up to me.”

                Let me steelman Zoltar Speaks! argument, here. The idea is not that women void their rights to bodily autonomy by engaging in a legal and ethical activity. The idea is that they deliberately take a risk (in a legal and ethical manner) which could put them in a situation where that right is superseded by another person’s right to life.

                Similarly, I could legally and ethically invite someone to stay in my apartment, but then my right to decide who gets to live in my apartment would be superseded by their right not to be kicked out without warning (at least, that’s my understanding of the law where i used to live).

                Does that make sense?

                Also, you can legally and ethically choose to waive certain rights, so there’s that.

                Thanks for helping me defend the utility of thought experiments. I find it very frustrating when people who otherwise seem quite capable of abstract thinking suddenly decide that just because a situation isn’t realistic, it cannot help us understand important philosophical and ethical principles. I guess the Ring of Gyges can’t teach us that unaccountability comes with temptation towards corruption, because invisibility is just silly.

                • 1. Exactly right regarding accountability and obligations.
                  2. Though experiments are occasionally useful, but over-used, over-rated, and too often flawed. They ruined ethics, in fact, by basing then entire discipline of abstract hypotheticals rather than real life. Thought experiments are clean without extraneous factors. Life isn’t.This as true in then case of the abortion debate as any issue I can think of.

                  • Wait, so the argument against thought experiments isn’t merely that they involve fanciful premises, but because real life is too complicated? Why have any ethical principles, then, since it seems impossible they could take into account the extraneous factors of the situation to which you intend to apply them?

                    I can believe that thought experiments are often ill-crafted, ill-applied, and taken too seriously. I have a similar problem with philosophers who make up poorly-defined concepts with vague names (like “intentionality”) that have no functional relevance to real life, and who treat them as if they are the central concepts in human existence.

                    However, you seem to use this generalization as a silver bullet argument against my hypothetical situations, since it seems like you’d rather not deal with. What I would do in your position is simply identify which features of the thought experiment make it different enough in the relevant ways from the real life situation under ethical discussion such that the thought experiment cannot be used to define an ethical principle that also applies to the real life situation. The fact that you aren’t doing this tells me your grasp of philosophy and abstract thought may not be strong enough to cover situations that are even slightly outside of current human experience. No offense, but I’m starting to doubt your qualifications for being appointed Earth’s premier ethicist. Not that you have a great deal of competition, mind.

                    • If that’s the impression you got, I apologize. I don’t object to thought experiments; I just seldom find them useful, and usually find them to be carefully constructed traps, not to open a discussion, but to close it. I admit to having been driven to cynicism by such pro-abortion Thought experiment like the brilliant violinist who is attached to you by surgeons without your consent, as the only way to keep him alive: you share a rare blood type or something. You can detach him, but he’ll die. I’ve had this pulled on me many times. It’s bogus. You have done nothing to obligate you to the violinist; you did not consent to him being dependent on you. Bad thought experiment, concocted to rig the result.

                    • I agree, that thought experiment implies all pregnant women are victims of their own pregnancies, which were inflicted by a conspiracy. You cut right to the heart of that one.

                      Ironically, it’s actually a great deal closer to an argument against subsidized healthcare. Whether that holds water is another question entirely.

                    • And yes, I realize after thinking about it for a minute that we forbid the government from taking possession of our bodies in the same ways that we allow it to take possession of our money. The thought experiment is still closer to subsidized healthcare than to abortion.

  13. But that’s just it. It’s at this line in the debate that there’s really no further use continuing. It’s at this point where the argument boils down to first principles and there’s no such thing as “take your argument to the next logical set of premises”. It’s at this point where one merely must evaluate what their first principles tell them.

    Mine tell me that the life of the unborn trumps the rights of a woman to comfort and convenience.

    Chris’ 1st principles tell him that the woman’s comfort and convenience trump the life of her child.

    There’re no further arguments to be made. His arguments about “sapience” and however he defines sapience (which isn’t the dictionary definition), are merely to make it ok to kill the child. Those arguments won’t convince us, because we believe the value of that life far surpasses the other value in conflict, and his rationalization that the unborn child doesn’t deserve protection doesn’t convince us.

    Just as the arguments advanced that the life is valuable won’t convince him that the unborn baby should be protected.

    What I find interesting, is I think both sides actually value the woman’s comfort and convenience about the same. That is, many people see this argument as anti-abortionists saying “the unborn baby’s value is 100; the value of the woman’s comfort and convenience is 10” and pro-abortionists saying “the value of the woman’s comfort and convenience is 100; the unborn baby’s value is 10”.

    I really think that’s not a good characterization of the values weighed. I really think both sides view the woman’s comfort and convenience in the same light…that is, let’s say, both sides call it a 100 (just to put a number on it). I think it’s the value of the baby’s life that changes in the each sides’ value system.

    Like, saying the woman’s comfort and convenience equal “100”, pro-abortionists would claim that the child, being “non-sapient” (or whatever invented term they use these days), has a value of “10”, whereas the anti-abortionists would say the baby’s life has a value of “1000”.

    I would submit then, that both sides actually are comfortable with the values of lives sliding on a scale throughout their life, just one sides’ sliding scale never dips low enough to create ethical conflicts.

    • Chris

      Sorry, this should have gone here:

      Mine tell me that the life of the unborn trumps the rights of a woman to comfort and convenience.

      Chris’ 1st principles tell him that the woman’s comfort and convenience trump the life of her child.

      I’ve already called you on this trick. I am talking about rights. It would be more accurate to say that my first principles tell me that the woman’s right to bodily autonomy trumps the right to life of the first trimester fetus (not “child;” please use medically accurate language), even if she chooses to exercise that right for her own comfort and convenience. This is because fetuses do not yet have minds, and thus should not yet have rights.

      Another way to think of it would be in terms of harm. The harm caused to a woman by forcing her to remain pregnant against her will outweighs the harm caused to the first trimester fetus by being aborted. This is because the woman can experience harm and the first trimester fetus, having no mind, cannot. I care more about harms to beings who can experience that harm than harm to beings who cannot. Why doesn’t everybody?

      There’re no further arguments to be made. His arguments about “sapience” and however he defines sapience (which isn’t the dictionary definition), are merely to make it ok to kill the child. Those arguments won’t convince us, because we believe the value of that life far surpasses the other value in conflict, and his rationalization that the unborn child doesn’t deserve protection doesn’t convince us.

      Give me a better reason to value human life over other lives besides sapience, then. You’ve provided no alternate standard. Jack did provide an explanation a long time ago, but it was more based on tribalism and, as EC noted, speciesism than any real ethical principles. See, I’ve made an effort to articulate why human lives have value, even if my definition of sapience is still a work in progress. You’ve not given any reason to value the life of the fetus because you’ve yet to articulate a reason why any human life has value.

      • “I’ve already called you on this trick. I am talking about rights.”

        Called me on what “trick”?

        You posed a goofy 1st Amendment hypothetical, and then it was shown to you that the hypothetical actually supports the notion that rights are curtailed in the exact instances where those rights are trumped by greater values while the right is still maintained outside of those instances.

        But, by all means, pretend like you weren’t given a response to that hypothetical.

        It’s her right to bodily autonomy to maximize her comfort and convenience. There’s nothing wrong with identifying precisely the object of this “exercising of rights” when demonstrating precisely what you think absolutely trump’s the life of the unborn baby.

        “Another way to think of it would be in terms of harm.”

        What harm? I’m certain we’ve all already acknowledge when the life of the woman is at risk, her’s takes precedence to the level that she then gets to decide how to proceed with the pregnancy.

        Oh…

        Oh… that’s not what you meant, you meant like it’s harmful to the woman that she may have to work a little bit harder to get that law degree or maybe have to choose to do something else like be a teacher or something else, or that maybe she can’t afford that iPhone and will have to settle for a flip phone…

        That kind of harm?

        That’s not harm. Maybe it is if your standards grow out of a materialist-narcissist worldview. I can see that.

        I mean, if we’re going to reduce this down to the small percent of a percent of a percent of women who legitimately will be living on the street if they carry their child to birth maybe we can have a discussion?

        But having children born into anything “better” than that, then yes, you are weighing comfort and convenience (albeit a lower level than maybe you are comfortable with). But yes, this argument assuredly does boil down to that, and you think the death of child is worth whatever material standard of living you think essential.

        “Specieism”

        sapience

        alien’s-rights

        specieism

        ….

        do you listen to yourself?

        “You’ve not given any reason to value the life of the fetus because you’ve yet to articulate a reason why any human life has value.”

        And you’ve given him no reason to de-value the life of the unborn baby because you’ve yet to articulate a reason why other than her or she can’t feel.

        You see, to him, being human is enough.

        To you, “sapience” or something is enough.

        Everyone has to recognize what their first principles are, I guess. You cloud yours with hypotheticals based on extra-terrestrials and insist on sterile terms applicable to all animals and complain when I use terms that remind us that these are human children being killed.

        I’m just honest enough to acknowledge this is where the argument boils to. But please, when “sapience” gets tired, lemme know what the next term will be. I’m all ears.

        • Tex,

          And you’ve given him no reason to de-value the life of the unborn baby because you’ve yet to articulate a reason why other than her or she can’t feel.

          One of the questions we may ask is where the burden of proof lies. Currently, it is legal to kill unborn babies.

          (A quick aside on terminology: fetus is just a term referring to a baby from the age after embryo to birth; embryo is the stage from fertilization to the fetal stage; the fetal stage starts at about week 10, which is just a couple of week shy of second trimester. Baby and child are less technical terms that overlap with a number of more technical terms. As another note, there is a notable brain starting from week 5, so if having a brain is where the line should be drawn, then the proper phraseology would be to say an embryo doesn’t qualify as a person and thus doesn’t have the right to life.)

          Typically, the burden of proof lies with the effort to change. Thus I do somewhat agree that right now, the burden of proof does rest on us to show that a human deserves the right to life from the moment of conception onward.

          I think it should be fairly clear where rights come from, as it is stated explicitly in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Only the authority of man’s Creator can endow man with rights.

          If there is such a Creator, he is the one who bestows rights on man, and man does not have the authority to take those rights away. But, if such a Creator does not exist, man has no inalienable rights. Rights are then only what human government and human ingenuity decide they should be, and are subject to whim and arbitrary delineations.

          In a society where we have written out God, it becomes increasingly unclear why humans deserve rights, and what those rights are. “When the creator is forgotten, the creature itself grows unintelligible.” Chris has labored at length to give any reason at all to give humans rights, and while he has done a commendable job at defending his ideas, he still does not escape the arbitrary delineations. He places the right to life essentially on intellect, having once established the capability of thinking and not having permanently lost that capability. But the idea here is based on the idea that we value thinking more than we value possessing a unique sequence of human DNA and the capacity to grow into an adult human. From the standpoint of material absolutes, neither value gives rise to any rights. Nor does the shared experience Chris mentioned elsewhere. It falls to the arbitrary decision of human government to decide what and who get rights, and that we prefer only to extend rights to the born, whom we can see and interact with and bond with, as opposed to the more abstract, hidden, voiceless human beings.

          I don’t think Chris’ postulating about other rational beings is at all bad argument. After all, we Christians believe in other rational beings beside the human race — namely angels, demons, and God himself. So, what if there is some extraterrestrial race out there in the physical universe that is rational like we are? We could probably posit that God would likewise endow them with rights (being their Creator, as well), and that we would not be in the right to kill them willy-nilly. But if there is no God, then that race would likewise be subject to arbitrary governmental ideas of rights, and without any authority governing us both, there is nothing compelling us to recognize the rights of the aliens. (Consider how this example translates back to even different tribes of humans. Why grant that other tribe rights, especially in those cases where they seem hellbent on denying our rights?)

          So I think we do need to step up and do a better job at defending why the unborn should have the right to life. Zoltar’s “so when you get right down to is it because we as human beings have said so!” exemplifies the arbitrariness we are struggling to overcome, because it is not enough to say “because we human beings have said so”. We humans haven’t really said so, as evident by the fact that abortion is legal. Moreover, left to just what human beings have to say about the issue, we will probably quickly find that we humans prefer only to give rights to those we like.

          • “because God says so” doesn’t work on atheists anymore than “because man says so” works on you.

            Like I said. This argument boils down to all our first principles at precisely this point.

            I think my first principles lead to a better balance of values than Chris’, Chris believes his do.

            • Tex,

              “because God says so” doesn’t work on atheists anymore than “because man says so” works on you.

              Duly acknowledged. This is why my discussion with Chris and EC has largely avoided anything overtly religious.

              My concern is that rights really only exist when bestowed from a higher authority. If all the higher that authority goes is human government, then arguing about rights really just becomes a question of taste and majority rule. EC’s argument from the Veil of Ignorance gives a good working model to follow, but even that model does not carry any absolute imperative behind it.

              If I’m wrong about this arbitrariness, please help me see why.

              • No, Ryan, that’s not correct.

                Rights CAN be granted, but that means that the same authority takes them away when it chooses. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that form the operating ethical principles underlying our society was attributed to God by Jefferson and his sources, because that was the rhetoric of the day. But those intrinsic rights exists because human experience and wisdom, from which ethics flow, tells us the life without these three things is miserable.

                Thus those three rights, humanity has learned (the hard way), MUST be considered baked into human existence. The baker doesn’t matter., or whether these is a baker at all. And every ethical system supports those conditions as condition precedent to an ethical society. Political systems that do not accept those rights quite simply are not ethical according to the constructs we agree to accept by virtue of being Americans.

                Life and Reality are the ultimate authority.

                • Jack,

                  At some point you’re going to have to reveal the secret of holding down a job, posting new blog posts at pretty good clip, and reading and responding to the comments!

                  But those intrinsic rights exists because human experience and wisdom, from which ethics flow, tells us the life without these three things is miserable.

                  I agree that without defending those rights, the human experience is miserable. I also agree wholeheartedly that we can learn quite about about what is good or bad for the human experience through the way the world works. But as EC pointed out in another comment on this thread, there’s still a gulf between “is” and “ought”. How do we make the jump from saying that “if we don’t do this, human life will be miserable” to “we ought not to do this, else human life will be miserable”? In other words, how do we make a jump from noting human misery to saying human misery ought to be mitigated?

                  My thoughts about rights is that rights are to due to man because they are necessary for man to achieve his end. What that end is determines what those rights are. If man has no end, other than the grave and extinction (via the heat death of the universe, if nothing else), then I find it impossible to use the term right as anything deserving to human kind. In that bleak, nihilistic view of man’s destiny, the most we can say is that humans would prefer to be happy and comfortable for their meager existence, and defining “rights” helps us do so. But that doesn’t give any concrete moral imperative to obeying rights.

                  Moreover, there’s a question about human experience itself. Man has been clever enough to produce solutions to a great many problems plaguing him. Why not think human experience can solve a great many problems still? Why believe that what human experience and wisdom has acquired so far is any indicator of what human experience will be in the future? Maybe we can fundamentally change human nature or the universe itself in such a way that those three fundamental rights no longer have any meaning. (I can’t imagine how this could be achieved, but maybe my imagination is just limited.)

                  So, I guess I have two questions. First, how would you describe making the jump from “is” to “ought”? Second, do you have any reading recommendations on this particular topic?

              • To clarify, while approaches like the Rawlsian Veil of Ignorance and the Golden Rule are how we can derive what rights are, the actual imperative for declaring and enforcing such rights comes from the collective desires of people.

                It’s the same reason people create laws to prevent the Tragedy of the Commons: people ultimately recognize that it is better for society on an individual and collective level if limits are placed on what people can do. They want to live in a world where such rights exist. They want it because even if a particular situation would become more convenient for them personally if a certain right didn’t exist, violating the right would negate its effects, because a rule’s existence is defined by the consistency of its enforcement. If a right is not consistently upheld, the benefits of stability that it provides would vanish.

                Does that make sense? I know power imbalances and identity politics make it more difficult to incentivize upholding rights in an honest and honorable fashion, but that’s the fundamental concept.

        • Chris

          Tex:

          baby

          child

          Every time you use these medically inaccurate terms, you mark yourself as an unserious person.

          I’ve said before that I expect more from you than talking points one might see at LifeZette. You are not earning that expectation.

          What harm?

          Forcing a woman to remain pregnant who does not want to be pregnant is a harm.

          sapience

          alien’s-rights

          specieism

          ….

          do you listen to yourself?

          Yes, of course. Please stop dodging the alien analogy; its usefulness has been explained to you. If you engage with it and are able to explain why rights should be based on living human DNA even when one takes the natural conclusion of this analogies into account, then you might actually make a convincing argument. But you keep refusing to engage with the analogy, so I can’t determine why you still believe that rights should be based on living human DNA.

          And you’ve given him no reason to de-value the life of the unborn baby because you’ve yet to articulate a reason why other than her or she can’t feel.

          That’s a compelling reason to me; I still do not understand why we should care about the lives of beings who can’t think or feel. The ability to do so is the core of personhood. It is the core of empathy. You are literally empathizing more with a non-thinking, non-feeling fetus than you are with a thinking, feeling woman, and saying the former’s rights outweigh the latter’s. That is outrageous to me.

          You see, to him, being human is enough.

          To you, “sapience” or something is enough.

          Everyone has to recognize what their first principles are, I guess.

          I think I’ve done a good job articulating why my principles are better than his principles. This is where the alien analogy is helpful. If your stance on rights means that you would not extend them to a sapient alien race, then maybe your principles are the ones that need work.

          You cloud yours with hypotheticals based on extra-terrestrials

          Hardly. These hypotheticals clarify the issue and show why basing rights on sapience rather than humanity makes more sense. You see them as “clouding” the issue because you refuse to engage with them.

          and insist on sterile terms applicable to all animals and complain when I use terms that remind us that these are human children being killed.

          No. I am using accurate terms, and you are using inaccurate terms. Fetuses are not children.

          • “Every time you use these medically inaccurate terms, you mark yourself as an unserious person.”

            1) This isn’t a medical question. This is a question about ethics even as you admit when you say this is about “rights”. So we can use any terminology that sheds light on the values involved. Child and baby are perfectly adequate to ensure we are fully invested in the seriousness of what we are discussing.

            You, however, insist on sterile terms that apply to nearly all animals and so, intentionally devalues that which we are discussing.

            2) Of all people who should worry about not being taken seriously, it’s the guy who keeps pushing the oddly redefined term “sapience”, the silly analogy to “aliens”, and the newly hatched idea of “specieism”…

            “Please stop dodging the alien analogy; its usefulness has been explained to you.”

            Except it is clearly not useful. Identifying another imaginary species that has this oddly undefined quality of “sapience” sheds ZERO light on whether or not we should protect unborn babies who haven’t yet but soon will reach this standard of “sapience”.

            “No. I am using accurate terms, and you are using inaccurate terms.”

            No. I am using accurate terms, and you are using inaccurate terms. nanner nanner.

            “That’s a compelling reason to me; I still do not understand why we should care about the lives of beings who can’t think or feel.”

            It’s not a compelling reason to me; and I do understand why we should care about the lives of unborn baby humans.

            As I said. This is about first principles. I think mine are a better reflection of civilization and a better balancing of values. You think the same about yours.

            “I think I’ve done a good job articulating why my principles are better than his principles.”

            You’ve certainly repeated the word “sapience” a lot, will distilled down to component points, you really only re-hash the singular argument about “ability to feel”. That’s really the only thing you’ve ‘articulated’. So, in essence, you’ve made about the same number of argument’s the anti-abortion crowd has, at this juncture of the discussion.

            • Chris

              As I said. This is about first principles. I think mine are a better reflection of civilization and a better balancing of values. You think the same about yours.

              One way to determine whether your first principles are truly superior to someone else’s is to apply those principles to a situation you are not already emotionally invested in, and see if they still apply. Like, say, the issue of whether sapient aliens should be granted rights.

              For some reason you are testing your first principles against such a hypothetical is “silly,” but it’s a great way to root out bias and to ensure that your first principles are ethically consistent.

            • If you don’t understand the concept of sapience, let’s make this a bit more concrete.

              Are you telling me that your current ethical framework has absolutely no way to answer the question of whether Vulcans, Wookiees, or Kryptonians should be regarded as having rights equivalent to those of humans? That if you happened to meet someone who turned out not to be human, you’d be at a loss as to whether you were ethically permitted to kill them and take their things?

              I don’t care if the situation happens or not. That’s not the point. It’s a very easy scenario to imagine (a cultural staple, even), and if you don’t have a way deal with it, that indicates a giant hole in your worldview, which limits your thinking in ways that directly and indirectly impact other situations that are much more likely. A direct impact would be not being able to deal with something you didn’t expect. An indirect impact is routinely dealing with normal situations poorly because of inconsistent values that you haven’t identified, because to identify the conflict would require imagining hypothetical situations that do not actually happen. Far from being a question about the psychological afflictions of tables, that’s like saying you can’t answer a problem that requires you to subtract fifty apples from a hundred apples because you don’t really have that many apples.

              Can you at least humor me by attempting to answer the question? I’ve been answering all the questions directed at my point of view (and some that weren’t) as best I can.

              • In another location where chris derailed another post via this sidebar I did comment that, given a human-enough culture of ‘sapient’ (whatever that means) aliens, we would extend human-like rights as necessary to that species or whatever.

                I would presume that species would also have some sort of ‘non-spaient’ level of development… their own fetal or larval or whatever stage.

                Acknowledging that lives would be protected with that alien species still tells us nothing about whether or not we protect the lives of our soon-to-be ‘sapient’ members of people.

                The hypothetical is irrelevant and your conclusions regarding it are non sequitur.

                That’s why I insist the alien rights advocacy you and chris crow for is silly and why I shouldn’t have had to waste time engaging it.

                • Chris

                  I appreciate that you finally answered the question, but that still doesn’t explain why you would extend rights to sapient aliens. EC and I have answered this: because they are sapient.

                  Why do you think they would deserve rights?

                  • For whatever reason we decide it necessary to treat such a species with “rights” is not a factor which excludes all else becoming some singular key to determining lives that ought to be protected.

                    This is fallacious reasoning on your part.

                    Again, alien rights advocacy does not guide the determination of whether or not we value the lives of our own unborn babies over the comfort and convenience of the mother’s bearing them.

                    As I said, it’s a silly diversion.

      • Chris,
        I’m in an uncharacteristic help Chris mood right now.

        From your November 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm comment above…

        Chris wrote, “Why should human beings have rights, Zoltar?”

        Human beings are distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance. We as human beings have chosen to define human rights therefore the direct answer to your “why should” is because we are humans, we choose to put human beings “above” other living things, we choose to give ourselves rights, so when you get right down to is it because we as human beings have said so! This has been explained before, this is also self-evident.

        Now you’ll want to ask why should unborn human beings have the same human right to life as born human beings, well it’s because they exist as human beings! This too is self-evident.

        Chris wrote, “I am asking you an important philosophical and critical thinking question”…

        …but yet you haven’t shown the ability to apply simple philosophy or critical thinking skills (if you have any) to the sentences that have already been provided as answers, instead you act as if these answers haven’t been provided; this is illogical and intellectually dishonest.

        Chris wrote, “I’ve answered this question. You have not.”

        All these things have been answered previously and the answers are self-evident; you’re a liar.

        Chris wrote, “Your explanation that fetuses deserve rights because they are human beings is insufficient…”

        That’s nonsense Chris. Your statement is only true in your mind because you’ve absolutely refused to comprehend the explanations provided.

        Chris wrote, “you have yet to identify why human beings are deserving of rights.”

        You’re a liar!

        Anything else I can help you out with today Chris?

        • “why should humans have rights?”

          Because that’s how we define the essential limitations on our actions towards other humans. Limited purely to defining the relationships between one human and another human.

          That was easy.

          • Chris

            Yes, making circular arguments is rather easy.

            • Not certain you understand what a circular argument is.

              Rights are how we define the essential limitations on conduct between humans.

              Discussing rights outside the context of humans doesn’t make sense, because rights define limitations on human conduct towards other humans. By definition you cannot have a discussion about them outside of humans…such a discussion would be like asking “why should tables have Stockholm syndrome”?

              It doesn’t make sense…

        • Chris

          Human beings are distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance. We as human beings have chosen to define human rights therefore the direct answer to your “why should” is because we are humans, we choose to put human beings “above” other living things, we choose to give ourselves rights, so when you get right down to is it because we as human beings have said so! This has been explained before, this is also self-evident.

          I trust that you can figure out why this is circular logic without me having to explain it to you.

          Now you’ll want to ask why should unborn human beings have the same human right to life as born human beings, well it’s because they exist as human beings! This too is self-evident.

          See above.

          …but yet you haven’t shown the ability to apply simple philosophy or critical thinking skills (if you have any) to the sentences that have already been provided as answers, instead you act as if these answers haven’t been provided; this is illogical and intellectually dishonest.

          There is nothing to think critically about with the argument “Humans have rights because they are humans.” It’s overtly fallacious. Give me something to actually think about.

          Chris wrote, “I’ve answered this question. You have not.”

          You’re a liar!

          I see your “help Chris” mood didn’t last very long.

      • Chris wrote, “I am talking about rights.”

        But yet you are completely ignoring the most basic fundamental human right in existence, the human right to life. You’re not “talking about rights”, your actively trying to define an arbitrary point to strip an unborn human being of their human right to life. You are immoral, you are evil.

        Evil: profoundly immoral and malevolent.

        • Oh, I don’t know about that.

          I think most pro-abortionists genuinely want to give a girl a second chance and avoid the consequences of some seriously shortsighted decision making. I think they have deluded themselves in order to do that so much so that they genuinely do not recognize the baby in the womb.

        • Chris

          I’m not ignoring the right to life. I’m saying it doesn’t apply to humans who cannot think or feel. You know this is true at least some of the time; brain-dead humans don’t have the right to life, I’m sure you’d agree. You can’t accept that this also applies to fetuses because you think the appeal to an alternate future is a convincing argument rather than a fallacy.

          • Chris wrote, “I’m not ignoring the right to life. I’m saying it doesn’t apply to humans who cannot think or feel.”

            Human right to life doesn’t apply to select humans? You really can’t see the immoral logical contradiction in your argument? This argument of yours is a blatant logical fallacy and immoral.

            You have openly stated that an unborn human being is in fact a human being. Chris, human beings have a right to life.

            You have openly stated that an abortion is killing a human being. Chris, human beings have the right to life.

            You are selectively ignoring the human right to life argument and trying to redefine the word “life” within the universally accepted declaration using conditional rationalizations to justify stripping a human being of their human right to life for the sole purpose of allowing someone else to kill that human being. Chris, the human right to life is not conditional, it’s self-evident. You are literally stripping an unborn human being of their human right to life at a vulnerable point in their developing life, a point that the unborn human being has absolutely no legal recourse or physical means to defending themself against the one(s) that are literally going to kill them; this is immoral and this is evil.

            Chris wrote, “…brain-dead humans don’t have the right to life, I’m sure you’d agree. You can’t accept that this also applies to fetuses because you think the appeal to an alternate future is a convincing argument rather than a fallacy.”

            Chris, Chris, Chris! The brain of a human being that has been damaged beyond repair (brain dead – absolutely no brain activity) is not magically equivalent to the brain of a developing human being that has no brain activity, implying that it’s the same doesn’t actually mean that it is the same. Using current medical knowledge, it’s a *”current medical fact” that a brain that has been damaged beyond repair (brain dead) has no hope of developing into a functional brain again; also using current medical knowledge, it’s an undeniable fact that the developing brain of an unborn human being does in fact turn into a functional brain if allowed to develop. This comparison of the brain of an unborn human being to brain death is intellectually dishonest and a fallacy, it’s just another in a long line of immoral conditional rationalizations trying to justify stripping a human being of their human right to life for the sole purpose of killing that human being.

            Your immoral argument that the human right to life doesn’t apply to select humans is a logical fallacy regardless of how many unethical and immoral conditional rationalizations you try to apply to the argument. The human right to life is not conditional and it is not selective as to what human beings it is applied to, it applies to all human beings; this is self-evident.

            It is a fact that we as human beings have the human right to life.

            It is a fact that an unborn human being is a human being.

            It is a fact that an abortion is killing a human being.

            It is a fact that killing a human being is depriving that killed human being of their human right to life.

            The act of abortion is immoral, the actions of those that knowingly support an immoral act are also immoral. Until you accept these four undeniable facts as is you will remain morally bankrupt.

            * this “current medical fact” could change as medical knowledge advances.

            • “It is a fact that we as human beings have the human right to life.”

              That’s a normative statement, an “ought”. It’s a different type of “fact”, if you want to call it that, from facts like “the sky is blue”. Those are descriptive, “is” statements. You might know that, but I find it disconcerting that you lump normative statements in with descriptive statements as if we could verify their existence empirically, just by looking at them. I’d consider that a bad habit.

              Also, can we compare a destroyed brain to a brain that doesn’t exist yet?

              • So EC thinks the human right to life is a “normative statement” statement?

                Okay, let’s look at what EC is saying…

                Normative Statement: is a value judgement is a subjective statement of opinion rather than a fact that can be tested by looking at the available evidence.

                Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

                The rest of you can derive whatever you like from this “normative statement” argument but it’s sure is sounding to me like EC is somehow trying to argue that humans don’t actually have the human right to life. Am I misunderstanding EC’s argument?

                Anyhow…

                I think EC might have missed this when I posted it earlier, “All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life…”

                EC wrote, “Also, can we compare a destroyed brain to a brain that doesn’t exist yet?”

                Isn’t this essentially the same brain dead (“destroyed brain”) comparison to the developing brain of an unborn human being argument that Chris tried or are you trying to raise some kind of different level of “brain that doesn’t exist”? I think the answer might be the same but since your question is a bit ambiguous I’m not going to answer by making assumptions.

                • As far as the brain comparisons go, my intent was to point out that a zygote doesn’t have what most people would call a “developing brain”, because it doesn’t have any differentiated tissues, let alone nerve cells. Thus, instead of comparing a destroyed brain to a developing brain, I’d like to establish a baseline level of consensus by comparing a destroyed brain to a brain that exists only in the future, because the structures which will generate the brain have not started to do so yet. How does that sound?

                  “[it sounds like] EC is somehow trying to argue that humans don’t actually have the human right to life.”

                  I’m saying that rights aren’t things you can assert as self-evident the same way you would say, “Humans have eyes and ears.” Yes, I know what the Declaration of Independence says. It’s a cop-out dictated by pragmatic necessity. Ethics is not arbitrary, but it is also not something that you can “prove” by collecting scientific data. It has its own derivation process, and that’s something that you can’t skip over if you want good, reliable ethics.

                  As far as the right to life goes, I’m trying to invoke a basic philosophical principle: You can’t derive an “ought” from an “is”. Yes, rights are subjective. That’s not the same thing as saying they’re arbitrary, though. Rights and other ethical concepts derive their existence from the fact that people want things, and there are reasons people want what they want. As I see it, it’s possible (and necessary) to derive rights by using both an understanding of cause and effect and the collective subjective desires of society. My position is that it’s the most objective form of subjectivity, and it means that although rights are subjective, you can still explicitly justify each one in terms of the benefit that it brings to society on the collective and individual levels. Does that make sense?

                  • EC,
                    It sounds like you are trying to suck me into a conversation about using the brain as an argument for or against abortion; sorry EC, that has never even a small portion of my argument and I’m not going there with you or anyone else other than to “smack-down” the nonsense if necessary; to be clear, I’m opposed to using the brain as a defining line for abortion topic, it is either human or not, if it is human then it has the right to life – period.

                    You are aware that I didn’t quote the Declaration of Independence in the comment you just replied to, right; I was quoting the United Nations.

                    Human beings wanted to elevate themselves above all other non-human creatures on earth so they gave themselves rights and one of those rights is the human right to life. I’m trying to wrap my head around your opinion.
                    Please tell me exactly what is subjective about the human right to life? Do you really think that at some point in time “people” are going to subjectively strip themselves of the human right to life so they can slaughter a bunch of humans while knowing full well that by stripping the human right to life for others, they also strip it for them self?

                    I do not think for one moment that the human right to life is subjective, I think that it is self-evident.

                    • I’m aware you weren’t quoting the Declaration of Independence. I anticipated you attempting use it as a rebuttal, and was attempting to preempt you. Sorry that that wasn’t sufficiently clear.

                      I still say that the human brain is where the person is, and before there’s a brain there is nothing that requires “rights”, even though it is a living human organism. To me, this is “self-evident”.

                      However, considering how much disagreement there both within and outside of the United States is over what rights are self-evident and when they do and do not apply (even excluding people who just want to trample the rights of others), you are going to convince nobody with repetitions of “this is self-evident”, “that is obvious”, and “it’s a fact“. I recommend you take a leaf from my book and start thinking about why you believe what you believe, if you want to persuade people to be more like you and make a difference in the world for the better. If you want to chew people out and feel superior to them, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing.

                      “Human beings wanted to elevate themselves above all other non-human creatures on earth so they gave themselves rights and one of those rights is the human right to life. … Please tell me exactly what is subjective about the human right to life?”

                      If you look closely at those two sentences, you’ll see that you answered your own question. I don’t agree with that answer, because I don’t think elevated status relative to non-sapients has anything to do with why “rights” are important, but your explanation of the origin of rights does imply that they are subjective. Would you like to revise your statement of where rights come from? (If that first sentence about elevation was supposed to be ironic, it was too subtle for me.)

                    • We have the same disagreements that we had prior to this COTD being posted, big surprise.

                    • Well, I think know what you’re saying: Living humans have inherent rights that apply at all points during their lives. These rights are just kind of obvious (or “self-evident”). Does that sound accurate enough?

                      There are a couple things I don’t understand, though. First, “self-evident” is not a derivation; it’s an axiom–a fundamental assumption. Different people have different axioms for what people ought to do, and they’re all “self-evident”. If you want to convince them, you’ll need to show them that your “ought” axioms create a better world than theirs do, or something along those lines. Do you have anything other than an “obvious” axiom to back up your idea of what rights people should have? Because almost everyone who will argue with you has that as well. Axioms are what cause discussions to go nowhere.

                      Second, our society allows people to forfeit their “inherent” rights based on their behavior, so it seems that these rights are not quite as inherent as I think you’re saying they are, and they don’t necessarily apply at literally all points in a person’s life. (That’s why I assumed that “innocence” was part of your argument earlier.) If these rights are inherent, why can they ever be taken away? I’m also still wondering why you’re pushing so hard for fundamental human rights to apply to the points in a human’s life cycle before it has the structures required to sustain a mind, which I hold is what we actually care about when we’re talking about human rights.

                      This may be a stupid question, but why is voting not a fundamental right? Why don’t you advocate for extending the right to vote to all points in a human life? Input into how the country is being run seems pretty fundamental to me, and it’s not like we don’t already let incredibly foolish people vote. (I know, it’s a lot easier to verify someone’s age than to verify someone’s wisdom, but that’s an argument for practicality, not one based on whether voting is a basic human right or not.)

                    • Chris

                      You’re not thinking Zoltar.

                    • Chris wrote, “You’re not thinking Zoltar.”

                      You’re intentionally trolling again Chris. FO

  14. I appreciate that you’re not biting me.

    Punctuation facetiousness aside, is there a reason you’re not telling me whether or not my paraphrase of your argument indicates that I understand you correctly?

    “Well, I think know what you’re saying: Living humans have inherent rights that apply at all points during their lives. These rights are just kind of obvious (or “self-evident”). Does that sound accurate enough?”

    Can you at least humor me and tell me if I screwed something up, and what that is? That was me trying to make sure I understand what you’re asserting. If I don’t understand that, I can’t very well understand why you’re asserting it. Is there some sort of risk associated with you doing that that I’m not seeing?

    One of us is treating the other as a reasonable person. If we both do that, we’ll actually get somewhere.

    • Drat, that was supposed to be a comment-specific reply. Oh, well… It’s fairly obvious where it goes.

    • Extradimensional Cephalopod wrote, “One of us is treating the other as a reasonable person.”

      So I choose to be done with this seemingly endless conversation that is bearing dead horses and you imply that you are reasonable and I am not, got it. Do I care, not in the slightest.

      Beyond that pompous little statement of yours, I’m not biting.

      The last word is yours; let’er rip.

      • I didn’t mean to imply that you weren’t being reasonable. I meant to imply that you weren’t treating me as a reasonable person (that is, treating me the way you would treat someone you thought was reasonable). Did you think I wasn’t treating you as a reasonable person? If so, then I failed to communicate properly.

        It’s amazing what you can get done when you act as if someone else is reasonable regardless of whether or not they seem to be reasonable at the moment. For instance, if you told me whether I misunderstood your assertions, I could come up with arguments that don’t sound stupid to you, or even learn to see the merits of your point of view. Then you’d be able to see just how reasonable I am. It’s just that for me to be able to demonstrate that, it more or less requires that you treat me as reasonable first.

        • Chris

          I didn’t mean to imply that you weren’t being reasonable. I meant to imply that you weren’t treating me as a reasonable person (that is, treating me the way you would treat someone you thought was reasonable)

          This was eminently clear.

          Next time Zoltar critiques my reading comprehension skills, I’ll remember what you said about projection.

        • Your first paragraph was bait.

          EC wrote, “I didn’t mean to imply that you weren’t being reasonable.”

          That statement is intellectually dishonest. The indirect implication was quite clear.

          EC wrote, “I meant to imply that you weren’t treating me as a reasonable person (that is, treating me the way you would treat someone you thought was reasonable).”

          That is the direct implication. The indirect implication of both of these statements (“one of us is treating the other as a reasonable person” and “I meant to imply that you weren’t treating me as a reasonable person (that is, treating me the way you would treat someone you thought was reasonable”) is that you are being reasonable and I am not. Now of course if you honestly feel it’s totally reasonable to treat someone like an unreasonable person then it doesn’t make any logical sense for you to have mentioned this in the first place. EC, both of those statements are emotional and you’re feeling slighted by an a person that you think is being unreasonable; I get that and you need to admit it to yourself; what you also need to understand is that that I really don’t care how you feel; now get over it.

          EC wrote, “I failed to communicate properly.”

          No EC, you communicated exactly what you intended in the exact manner in which you intended and I comprehended exactly what you intended, your communication was “eminently clear”. You can choose to return here and say that I’m incorrect and you had absolutely no intention of implying that I was being unreasonable but you would be lying to yourself and others.

          I understand Chris not properly comprehending the written word and spouting nonsense, but you EC are not an idiot.

          Yes EC, your first paragraph was bait, I chose to bite and being the person that I am I yanked you out of your precarious little boat. EC, words have consequences and this little exchange of ours, since your December 7, 2017 at 8:19 pm comment, has changed my overall perception of you.

          Now EC you have a choice to make. We have endlessly beat the dead horses about abortion and neither one of us is going to change the mind of the other; therefore, continuing the discussion regarding anything related to abortion is completely pointless at this time. Now if you were a truly this reasonable person you are portraying yourself to be then you too would realize this fact and let this go.

          Choose.

          • Chris

            How’s this for an implication:

            EC is being reasonable and you are not. You are not a reasonable person. You are overly sensitive yet incredibly hostile, reacting to every slight and perceived slight as if it is an unjust attack while openly insulting others, often projecting your own flaws into them. You make circular arguments and then yell at people for pointing out the flaws in them. You’ve refused to engage in an intellectual discussion about this topic because you are incapable of engaging in an intellectual discussion about this topic.

            Clear enough?

            • Chris wrote, “How’s this for an implication:”

              I know you were trying to be a bit facetious, but you’ve shown that you really don’t understand what the words like imply and implication really mean. Sure you can likely look up and “recite” the definitions but you can’t apply the terms properly without a good understanding of the English language.

              Chris wrote, “EC is being reasonable and you are not.”

              That is a matter of opinion. So what?

              Chris wrote, “You are not a reasonable person.”

              I really don’t care how you feel; get over yourself.

              Chris wrote, “You are overly sensitive…, reacting to every slight and perceived slight as if it is an unjust attack…”

              That’s absolute nonsense. It’s as if you yourself are trying to project your own petty character flaws on me. I state things as I see them and rarely take anything written online personally, you’re simply wrong.

              Chris wrote, “You are… incredibly hostile…”

              Awwwwwwww, little Chrissy is offended. News Flash Chris, I don’t give a damn how you feel about me.

              Chris wrote, “You make circular arguments”

              It’s already been pointed out, even pointed out by someone other than me, that you don’t properly understand circular argument which is causing you to improperly attribute it to arguments.

              Chris wrote, “…yell at people…”

              I think you’re hearing things again; you might want to get that checked.

              Chris wrote, “You’ve refused to engage in an intellectual discussion about this topic…”

              This, the conclusion, part of this little segment of your argument Chris is verifiably false. It was terribly foolish of you to make such a bold claim that is so verifiably false. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to “speak” and to remove all doubt.

              Chris wrote, “…because you are incapable of engaging in an intellectual discussion about this topic.”

              Since the first half of this little segment of your argument is veritably false, what does that make this, the premise, part of your argument? Inquiring minds want to know.

              Chris can you tell me what form of argumentation the following quote from you is; “You’ve refused to engage in an intellectual discussion about this topic because you are incapable of engaging in an intellectual discussion about this topic.”? Inquiring minds want to know.

              Chris wrote, “Clear enough?”

              Sure, that was about as clear and as you can be. Here’s something to honor your extraordinary communication talents…

          • I have to let Barren Blauschwartz answer this one; it’s in my contract.

            Well, you got me. I was attempting to avoid telling you exactly what I thought of your behavior because I was afraid it would scare you away from actually acting like a reasonable person. Perhaps I was doing it wrong.

            I could see that you might think I was being unreasonable (even if I thought I wasn’t), and in that case to treat me as unreasonable would not mean that you yourself were unreasonable. However, I believe that the first step toward creating a reasonable conversation is for people to treat each other as reasonable people regardless of what they think of each other. I consider it a win/win scenario even if it’s not reciprocated, which is why I do it anyway. (That, and treating people as unreasonable usually means I’m just being hostile, which is a bad habit for intellectual, social, and psychological reasons even if it’s sometimes “harmless”.) I thought you might be interested in trying out that approach, but I suggested it in a condescending way without thinking about my tone, and for that I apologize. It was disrespectful and a disservice to you.

            For the same reasons, I apologize for my paraphrase of your argument, which was not as respectful as I could have made it had I actually thought it through. As for your own contribution, you should have responded to correct or confirm the paraphrase even if you thought it was mocking. It wouldn’t have taken much intellectual effort. Goodness knows I respond to your actual arguments no matter how mocking they are.

            Yes, I do think you’re being unreasonable and philosophically bankrupt. I was making an effort to be very diplomatic and reasonable (under the circumstances, at least) in order to “bait” you into using your brain for something more useful than condescension and derision. (How sinister.) As usual, you are quick to perceive slight, imagined or real, and just as quick to use it as an excuse to flee from an invitation to examine the issue at hand.

            “…you EC are not an idiot.”

            I’ll take that as a compliment and not as a straight line.

            “…I chose to bite and being the person that I am I yanked you out of your precarious little boat.”

            What part of “Extradimensional Cephalopod” makes you think I’m the one in the metaphorical boat? The abyss is my home. What need have I for boats?

            “…words have consequences and this little exchange of ours… has changed my overall perception of you.”

            That’s vague enough to sound ominous, but it’s also clearly trying too hard. Besides, your perception of me was already warped in order to justify your unwillingness to answer my clarifying questions. What exactly have I lost by it becoming even more inaccurate? I’ll still agree with you when you’re right (for the right reasons), and disagree with you when you’re wrong, same as I do for anybody. I’ve lived with the disappointment of seeing people fail to engage their minds for years; you’re not the first and you won’t be the last.

            “We have endlessly beat the dead horses about abortion and neither one of us is going to change the mind of the other…”

            Those horses were alive until you shot them. I appreciate the tacit admission that I genuinely disagree with you, though.

            “…what you also need to understand is that that I really don’t care how you feel…”

            Well, I care how you feel. I care that you feel ashamed of yourself. You and everyone like you are a curse on your species, not because of what you believe, but because you have refused to even discuss the possibility that you could be wrong, or acknowledge (until just now) that someone could genuinely disagree with you. There are too many people like you for me to allow myself to develop the habit of simply leaving you be when you display such toxic thought patterns. The world will destroy itself if left in the hands of such people, regardless of how many of them pay lip service to tolerance.

            Whether I’m right or wrong about abortion isn’t even the point. If a person engages with me about the issues that we disagree with, then we can both learn from each other, and it’s a very pleasant and enriching experience. By contrast, anyone who assumes that I must secretly agree with them and am pretending to see the situation differently out of self-interest had better be capable of defending their point of view from the ground up. They may have a right to have a stupid opinion, but they don’t have a right to wave it in my face and not have it bitten off.

            Sincerely,
            Barren [sic] Blauschwartz, Void Element Demon of Hubris, Wrath, and Cowardice

            • Interesting choice EC, it was truly a fun read, I busted out laughing a couple of times. I think Barren Blauschwartz and I could have a hoot of a good time tipping back a few, talkin’ smart, and watching the looks of the surrounding crowd. 🙂

              EC wrote, “I’ll take that as a compliment…”

              That’s exactly how you should have taken it.

              Chatcha later dude.

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