Ethics Dunce: Actress Busy Philipps

Actress  Busy Philipps, an abortion advocate ( of course).  testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the topic this week.

I must drop in here that I am offended by celebrity witnesses participating Congressional hearings. They seldom are the most expert or prepared authorities, and have no special credentials except that they look nice and usually can speak clearly.  They get the opportunity to attract publicity to the hearings, and accept it to burnish their images.

In this case, the actress’s primary qualification to talk about abortion is that she had one (at 15). Philipps’ more recent argument for abortion is that a lot of women have had one, which is 100% irrelevant to the ethical and legal issues at hand. Beyond that, she essentially mouths standard talking points.  In her opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee, she said,

“I am a human being that deserves autonomy in this country that calls itself free, and choices that a human being makes about their own bodies should not be legislated by strangers who can’t possibly know or understand each individual’s circumstances or beliefs.”

I’ve been unsuccessfully looking for what Busy’s major was at Loyola Marymount, assuming she graduated (all the sources says “she attended” the school), but based on that mess, we can assume it wasn’t English Literature, pre-law or Philosophy. Laws do not typically include variances according to a citizen’s beliefs or circumstances. Robbery is illegal, even if you really need the money or don’t “believe” in property rights.

Then Texas Congressman Louie Gomert asked a pertinent question.  Melissa Ohden, the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network who survived  a failed saline infusion abortion in 1977,  had testified earlier.  “Would you agree that somebody who has survived an abortion, like Melissa Ohden, has a right, once she’s born, to life, to have control over her body where someone else doesn’t take her life?” he  asked.

“Although I played a doctor on television, sir, I am actually not a physician,” she replied.

Ha Ha!  Not funny. This isn’t even a clever dodge. The question had nothing to do with being a doctor. Gohmert was nicer in response than I would have been, saying,  “No, but you’ve given very compelling testimony and I appreciate that you’ve obviously given these issues a lot of thought, that’s why I’m asking you.”

Or maybe he wasn’t being so nice.  Maybe he was suggesting that she hadn’t given the matter sufficient thought at all….which turned out to be the case.

“I think that it’s something that is very important,” Philipps began.

Really? Life and death is important? How fascinating! Did you know that Jimmy Stewart developed his halting speech habit to give himself extra time to remember his lines? The typical speaker’s equivalent is  saying, “That’s an excellent  question!” while furiously trying to think of an answer. Busy, however, as the song in “A Chorus Line” goes, “dug right down to the bottom of her soul” and found…nothing.

“I don’t believe that a politician’s place is to decide what’s best for a woman—it’s a choice between a woman and her doctor” was the best she could come up with, which was unresponsive to the question.

Gohmert tried again. “What about a baby and the doctor?That’s my question.”

Philipps then absurdly said she could not speak to Ohden’s experience because she wasn’t there—-that would be an F in any classroom— and finally huminahumina-ed that she was only there to speak about abortion, not birth.

They don’t do such things in committee hearings, but the earned  response would have been, “Mr. Chairman, I ask that Ms Philipps’ entire testimony be stricken from the record, as she obviously has given no serious thought to the issues in abortion, which include when an unborn child becomes, in the eyes of the law and society, a human being whose own right to life gains equal or superior importance to the desires and autonomy of the mother.  Since she has not thought about that key issue, I submit that her rote recitation of basic pro-abortion talking points is neither informed nor  helpful.”

He might also have chosen this epiphanal moment to enter into the record a statement like,

“Too many vital national policy matters see debate over the best and right course polluted by passionate advocates who haven’t devoted the bare minimum amount of study and thought required to reach a a responsible opinion in any complex matter, and simply adopt  the positions and arguments of others because his or her peer group requires it, or because someone they like or respect holds the same opinion, or because the course they advocate is one that benefits them personally. Topics that are so polluted include gun control, climate change, capital punishment, the minimum wage, tax policy, affirmative action, social welfare programs, and many others, including,  of course, abortion.

As Americans, we certainly have a right to hold any opinion, no matter who foolish or ill-informed, and to advocate it, as unhelpful as doing so may be. What we do not have a right to do, and should not, is falsely pose as an authority or a legitimate, prepared advocate on important topis when we have not bothered to think about them, and consider all of the factors that must be considered to reach a responsible conclusion.”

Go ahead, Busy. Vote for your pro-abortion candidates, feel virtuous with your feminist and progressive pals, Give your money to NARAL and Planned Parenthood. I wish you luck in your fluffy career of playing various female airheads and sociopaths on cable TV sitcoms and dramadies, and hope you can make a successful transition, when your looks go, to mother parts and character roles.  All you contribute to the debate over the moral, ethical and legal dilemmas in abortion, however, is noise, passion and votes, because you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Shut up.

55 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Actress Busy Philipps

  1. Why is it that politicians have no problem making statements about large segments of society but then seem afraid to challenge an individual member of the public who spout off talking points?

    I know you decry punching down but it is irresponsible let the person of smaller stature consistently knee cap you without consequence.

  2. Abortion is either
    1. a debate over when a human life begins, OR
    2. a debate over whether it should be legal for mothers to kill their children.

    The pro-choice side is in the unpleasant position of having permanently lost debate #1, and yet refusing to move over to debate #2. But there are no other legitimate debates.

    Any argument that mucks about in the realm of “woman’s autonomy,” “freedom,” or “rights” is just as disingenuous as the “property rights” argument once made in favor of slavery. There is no logical way to leverage one person’s right to happiness against another person’s right to not die, UNLESS, of course, you are arguing that infanticide is sometimes acceptable (argument #2,) which they just won’t admit to doing. Therefore to be “pro-choice” in 2019 requires a state of continuous lying, to oneself and others. It must be soul-crushing.

    • If you lose #1 you auto lose #2.

      They need to go back and challenge #1 again, or give up

      Deflecting the argument from a human rights issue into a woman’s rights issue was a good move PR wise but I think people are starting to see past it

    • I don’t see how they’ve necessarily lost question #1.

      I think your assumption that they have is a linguistic mistake.

      You believe that they have permanently lost the question as to when a human LIFE begins. And if we focus on the word life, I’m sure you are correct.

      I think they could reasonably argue that they need not, at this point, concede as to when a HUMAN life begins.

      It is not unreasonable to argue a fetus is a living thing, that just isn’t human-yet.

      • One would wonder the species, then. How many species do we know of which become other species during their life cycles? I think the alive-but-not-human gambit introduces a problem for the sake of justifying abortion which would otherwise not exist.

        • Benjamin-

          Your logic is based on a false supposition. We have labelled each and every creature’s life cycle a “species”, but that may just be a scientific word without really any biological meaning.

          An example might be illuminating. We watch a butterfly egg turn to a caterpillar, then to a chrysalis, and finally into a butterfly. Because we see that this is the entire life-cycle of the butterfly, we determine that the butterfly is a “species”. Yet, in terms of behavior and intellect and other such things an egg may be entirely different from a caterpillar, which is entirely different from chrysalis, which is entirely different from a butterfly.

          If there were a moral law saying it is wrong to kill a butterfly, it wouldn’t necessarily follow that it’s wrong to kill a caterpillar. We have no such creature on earth, but it wouldn’t be particularly hard to imagine a type of creature on an alien world that starts as an egg with no intelligence, turns into a caterpillar with cow-like intelligence, and finally turns into a butterfly with human-like intelligence. We kill things with no intelligence and cow-level intelligence all the time. For my imagined creature, it is only at the butterfly stage that killing would inarguably be morally incorrect. Whether it is incorrect at the lower stages, I think is far more debatable.

          I don’t think we can safely say that as soon as a fetus is living that it is, necessarily, a human being. It may be more akin to the alien egg or the alien caterpillar. At the very least, I don’t think we can make the blanket statement that all who support abortion must accept that they have lost the question about when a human life begins. I’m not sure they have to accept any such thing.

          • Well, I won’t begrudge you the point that argument #1 is still being flagellated like the dead horse that it is, but the fact remains, it’s a lost cause of an argument.

            We know that a fetus is just a young human being (as are zygotes, although abortions do not take place at the zygote stage.) Any attempt to dehumanize the fetus “in terms of behavior and intellect” (they’re DIFFERENT from you and me!) could just as easily apply to any combination of infants, special needs adults, people in comas, Black people, the Irish, Siamese twins, slaves, etc. There is no difference in substance between an infant inside the womb and one outside. The more one belabors the point, the more obvious the naked rationalizing becomes.

            And although “species” may just be a descriptive scientific term, leaving it open that we could, in theory, redefine “human” to mean only humans that have exited the womb, once you get that far into the semantic weeds you might as well just say, “nothing really means anything because words have no meaning,” at which point “murder” “law” “ethics” “science” and “life” really don’t mean anything either, and we might as well schedule The Purge for next Saturday and National Burn All Books and Kill All Babies Day for Sunday.

            It’s game over for Argument #1. Science killed it. We know how DNA works. We know that a zygote from conception is fully programmed to develop into an adult human being, right down to certain personality traits and favorite types of foods. All of those adult features are present within the fetus when abortion kills him or her. We know exactly what is being killed here.

            Not only that, but there is less variation in your genetic code between you-as-a-fetus and you-as-an-adult than there is between you and another individual. There is roughly as much genetic difference between males and females as there is between a male human and a male chimpanzee. It would be easier (and just as dumb) to argue that women aren’t human than to argue the same about fetuses.

          • Your logic is based on a false supposition. We have labelled each and every creature’s life cycle a “species”, but that may just be a scientific word without really any biological meaning.

            Isaac and Kyojo have addressed the particular abortion-related arguments, so I can focus on the part of this which really interests me: what you say here about logic and suppositions.

            You’ve moved the question “what does it mean to be human?” into the fore. I think you’ve taken it lightly though. We’ve all seen the science fictional stories of men who turn into animals. If you turn into a horse in this sense, your physical form becomes that of a horse, but you somehow remain you. There’s another sense of this that intrigues old philosophers. What if the physical form remains the same, and you (the you that lies under and in all that meat, the you that’s looking at this screen through your eyes) become a horse in some essential sort of way? How would that appear to us from the outside? You can forget things and even experience amnesia and still remain you, so memories and knowledge aren’t you rightly so called. This horse imposter may very well behave exactly as you did before you were displaced. This could be happening every day. It may have happened to you, you horse, you! There’s no evidence to tell us otherwise. I suppose this does not happen. You suppose something like this does happen at some vague stage of human development.

            I argue that my supposition, a continuous chain of being, is no more false than yours. William of Ockham would agree, his razor being rightly understood, because we have no reason to think otherwise.

            Consider the utilitarian woes that would follow your supposition (I’ll cater to my utilitarian hearers). We can’t physically prove which apparent humans are horses. If we also suppose that these horse-humans are less intelligent, can we kill (humanely, of course) those we find to be of lower intelligence? How much less intelligent is a horse imposter than a man? Are any genuine men similarly unintelligent? Are any horse men more intelligent? Can this bar be adjusted, and based on what evidence?

            You can see, if I’m clear, that limiting this to a stage of human development is no less arbitrary. An arbitrary metric, knowingly arbitrary, can be arbitrarily changed. I suppose, however, that there is a truth which is true regardless of our recognition of it. I suppose that we are charged with the care and protection of the innocent and that the risk of killing a human whose humanity cannot be proven outweighs the risk of permitting what may in fact be unprovably non-human to live. A utilitarian moral realist has no way of maneuvering past that epistemological wager. A rich tradition of scholastic philosophy assures me that nature is consistent, though.

            • Excellent ommment, and a COTD. Bravo for putting the work in: as with the similar bootstrapping pro-abortion argument, “It isn’t sentient yet, so it’s not a human life,” the “it’s a life but not human” is a rationalization developed after the decision that we want to bea able to kill these things—how do we justify it? That’s obvious, I think, and arguments developed backwards like that—first the conclusion (we have a right to end pregnancy) then the rationalization to retroactively justify it (it’s not a human life so it doesn’t matter) have no integrity, are dishonest, and are devised to deceive. That doesn’t mean that such arguments can’t be effective or difficult to rebut.

              • Thanks, Jack!

                In appreciation, an oldie-but-goodie that always slayed for Mike Flynn (no, not that Mike Flynn):
                I skew toward an Aristito-Thomistic view wherein physical form and essence are hylomorphic. To assume the essence of a living organism can change absent the miraculous depends on a Cartesian dualistic view. Therefore, to resort to attempting to find reasoning to justify abortion after deciding to accept its practice by questioning the continuity of the essential human form, as I have proven above, is to put Descartes before the horse.

                [Waits for applause]

                • You know, sometimes I have to look up words commenters use, in order to fully understand the references. This post required more such lookups than an Alizia special, not a small accomplishment.

                  Once I looked everything up, I got the joke.

                  Now I have to kill you. It was a terrible joke.

                  • I’ve waited a decade to make a “Descartes before the horse” joke. It’s a bucket list item, now crossed off. As I die, my heart will lie peaceful and calm, fulfilled in its true and noble purpose.

                  • Hi there Slick. A question has been nagging at me for some days now: In Texas, when you have to refer to the hylomorphic, what word is in common use down there? Thanks for helping me on this one . . .

                    • Most Texans in my experience are a concrete bunch, with ‘common sense‘ in place of thought out ethics, traditional mores, and Golden Rule social graces. As such, they would not use the concept much less the word or one like it. Oh, a few college profs, maybe an unwilling transplant would have had exposure to such ideas, but not many more. Texas is a place of doing, and education tilts that way. (Not that there’s anything wrong with classical studies: just not as prevalent here as I have found it elsewhere)

                      That said, if I were forced to ‘fill yer hand!’ (hat tip to The Duke), I would say the closest use would be the concept of the meme. Memes can stand in for both a potential and an actual form, in some cases. Were I to prepare a class to explain the concept, I would start with memes.

                    • Thanks Slick. Some days back you recommended a certain part of highway in Texas or was it Oklahoma that seemed to you most representative of ‘interior America’. Can you remind me what part of the country and what highway you mentioned?

                    • Can you mention specific cities along that highway? Think: most ‘authentic’ most representative of the interior of America. And not inclined to skin alive a woman with a camera . . .

                    • Just a few along that way…

                      Texas:
                      Bryan-College Station (not on the highway, but representative)
                      Gatesville
                      Hillsboro

                      Ok:
                      Ardmore
                      Stillwater

                      Kansas:
                      Newton
                      McPherson

                      Iowa:
                      Des Moines (last time I was there, anyway)
                      Cedar Rapids
                      Sioux Falls
                      Iowa City

                      Minnesota:
                      North of Minneapolis

                      Large-ish urban areas that have been relatively sane:
                      Tulsa
                      Oklahoma City
                      Waco
                      Kansas City
                      Wichita
                      Springfield
                      Bloomington
                      Champaign
                      San Marcos/New Braunfels/Seguin area

                      This is a sampling along that route. Your mileage may vary (literally: this is a large area)

            • I’m not sure I’m buying what you are saying-but then again, you said it with a high degree of complexity, so I could have missed something. I think if we’re going to actually talk about this, we have to make sure we are starting from the same page. ( BTW: Even if I’m not buying it, I am appreciative of the fact that you are wrestling with the actual question.)

              The following, I believe, are “givens” we both accept.

              1. There is nothing in particular about life that suggests it cannot be killed.

              2. There is something special about human life.

              3. The specialness of human life is the factor that makes it wrong to take a human life absent certain exigent circumstances.

              (By the way, I’m personally very radical about those exigent circumstances. I have become convinced that very-very low IQ person may be an exigent circumstances. Before you go crazy, I’m not talking about the mildly challenged. A girl from my hometown was born so intellectually bereft that she spent three years without learning how to swallow, eat, or lift her head. At age 3, she died chocking on her own spittle. About six weeks later, her father, put a bullet through his brain. Call me crazy, but I don’t think any reasonable person would choose that life, but of course, there was no way to ask her how she would have felt about it. An exigent circumstance we likely agree upon is murderers-personally, I think murderers of children should be presumed to get the death penalty. Aside over).

              4. There is no true way to tell when zygote/fetus/baby first becomes endowed with that specialness.

              Moving on from the givens, a few things seem self-evident to me. Maybe, others will disagree.

              1. At the moment the fetus acquires human specialness, it’s right to life should clearly trump the mother’s right to self-autonomy. (Busy Phillips seems to be arguing that this isn’t right-which I agree with Jack-seems preposterous-but, nevertheless, I include it in the self-evident rather than the givens due to the argument Ms. Phillips makes).

              2.If the mere potentiality of the specialness is enough to preclude us from killing an object, then the zygote, as well as the fetus must be protected. (Few, however, argue the zygote should be protected. This is where the pro-life folks often seem to be hypocritical to me.)

              3. If there is no way to tell when the fetus is endowed with that specialness, we then have a burden of proof problem. Should pro-lifers have to prove that the fetus has the specialness? Or should the pro-choice people have to prove that it does not? ( In analyzing this, remember that while there is a question of whether the fetus has acquired human specialness-the mother’s right to self-autonomy is unquestionable-and only trumped by the human specialness of the fetus.)

              In all frankness, in analyzing #3 above, I would tend to err on the side of placing the burden of proof on the pro-choice folks. Since we don’t know when that human specialness occurs, it seems to me we should err on the side of caution towards preserving the human specialness-even at the expense of the mother’s self-autonomy. However, I cannot say that I think someone who came to the opposite conclusion was being ethically dishonest or intellectually lazy. If someone were to say to me that they think the established right of self-autonomy should trump the possibility of the right to life, I could not say that this is obviously wrong-although it is not the conclusion I ultimately reach.

              Nevertheless, I don’t think we can honestly say that science resolves the issue in #3 above for us. I don’t think it ever could because science doesn’t concern itself with the specialness of human people. This debate is a debate in which fields like philosophy and ethics must take precedence. In short, science will never resolve this debate, and to say so, is to take, in my opinion, an intellectually lazy position.

              To me, it’s almost as galling to hear someone say science has resolved this debate as it is to hear someone just proclaim that it’s about a woman’s right to choose. Both positions are far too cursory-and appeal to authorities that have no actual authority in this debate. (An absolute “right to choose” on the pro-choice side and science on the pro-life side).

              Finally, and this may be above Jack’s response to your excellent comment, I disagree that this argument is a rationalization-and am frankly confused by the notion about arguments developed backwards language that is being used. I believe an argument is sound if it is sound-it doesn’t matter whether it was developed backwards, forwards, or diagonally.

              • 4. There is no true way to tell when zygote/fetus/baby first becomes endowed with that specialness.

                Avoiding the parenthetical (which would require a treatise on breezy topics like the meaning of life, the nature of man, and the merits of human suffering), we diverge here. Humanity is special and we know this because its nature is to be reasonable. Reason, governing the appetites and with a capacity for symbolic thought, is unseen in all other physical creatures. I would not say, however, that reason makes one human any more than having ten fingers and two eyes makes one human. That “specialness” is inherent to humanity itself. In so reasoning, I’m consistent with the whole of philosophical tradition, and to break with which should require strong reasons for the novelty and strong arguments against the preceding body of knowledge. The idea that there can be a life lacking an essence is one I reject on the basis of an integrated understanding. It’s inconsistent with a great deal of not only what we can observe and conclude but what we have to accept in order to accept anything at all. That a fetus (Latin: child, offspring) is not a zebra is certain to all of us, therefore:

                I disagree that this argument is a rationalization-and am frankly confused by the notion about arguments developed backwards language that is being used. I believe an argument is sound if it is sound-it doesn’t matter whether it was developed backwards, forwards, or diagonally.

                Our uncertainties, it appears to me, are a deliberate convenience. This doubt that humanity exists at all stages of life is a ready-made excuse, or so I’d assert. We didn’t find evidence or discover a new argument to suggest that humanity begins at a stage separate from when life begins and follow from it as a premise to the conclusion that abortion is acceptable before that event. The notion that humanity and life can be distinct, rather, was coined for the purpose of supporting a conclusion.

                Now, a premise prepared to support a conclusion can be true, as you suggest and I will here acknowledge. Like all other arguments though, in order for the conclusion to be true, the premises must be true. But in this case, there is no reason to accept the premise that life and humanity aren’t coextensive. It’s also a novel concept, requiring a paradigm shift in the preexisting accepted philosophy without an effective critique of the preexisting paradigm, to be accepted not for the sake of its arguable truth but for the sake of a desired utility. It is used defensively – as a notion which can’t be empirically disproven – for the sake of defending a conclusion and without application or support in any other context.

                But this gets worse, on closer examination. The humanity-and-life-as-being-non-coextensive premise isn’t a new positive premise at all, but a rejection of an old, established one. The conclusion, likewise, isn’t really a new positive conclusion but a rejection of an old, established one. The notion of life and humanity as coextensive follows from more fundamental concepts like form and matter as a logical consequence and informs subsequent conclusions such as the notion of human equality and, further, the opposition to murder. These ideas effectively explain the world around us and have been the philosophical grounds for the thriving of human civilizations. The notion to be rejected is centered in this logical continuum. The rejection of that notion would force a rejection of all logically subsequent ideas as well as a new understanding of the logically prior ideas so as to avoid leading to the now-cut-off, branching set of ideas all over again. I mean to say that this denial is artificial for the sake of avoiding a natural conclusion. It has not flowed organically from a more fundamental understanding of the world but rather avoids understanding the world in a particular way and will be followed with, I’d wager, many inevitable consequences. ‘Integrity’ is a word I’ve contemplated a great deal. Consider its relationship with “disintegrate’. ‘Integrity’ means honestly following from what can be known to what teleologically follows without any disjointed attempts to rig our philosophy to desired ends. An alternative consciously-ends-directed philosophy will necessarily disintegrate. Every idea has consequences, but especially so when we try to avoid them.

              • jmv0405 wrote: “2. If the mere potentiality of the specialness is enough to preclude us from killing an object, then the zygote, as well as the fetus must be protected. (Few, however, argue the zygote should be protected. This is where the pro-life folks often seem to be hypocritical to me.)

                3. If there is no way to tell when the fetus is endowed with that specialness, we then have a burden of proof problem. Should pro-lifers have to prove that the fetus has the specialness? Or should the pro-choice people have to prove that it does not? (In analyzing this, remember that while there is a question of whether the fetus has acquired human specialness-the mother’s right to self-autonomy is unquestionable-and only trumped by the human specialness of the fetus.)”

                You may or may not know that the Catholic-Christian argument against abortion is part of a much larger argument that sees contraceptive methods as part-and-parcel of the same moral and ethical error. And the reproductive question is just one question within an entire ethical and moral vision.

                The first premise in this argument, which is of course a way of seeing life, existence and our being, establishes as a primary tenet the specialness of life and certainly human life. Other Christian arguments have extended that consideration to all life, but that is another topic.

                Christian and Catholic thinkers have done quite substantial and very thorough work in developing all the ideas and ethical conceptions that extend from this primary realization and assertion. It is hard to live in accord with all of it — that is to live fully ethically and morally in accord with the principles and their demands — but it is hard to argue against it once the principles are understood.

                Catholics of a traditional sort and those who still hold to the scholastic principles — and some Catholics and Christian evangelicals definitely veer away from these principles — are *obligated’ if I can put it like this to value ‘the zygote’ as you say as non-different from the formed human being. Therefore, the entire generative structure and everything connected to it is part-and-parcel of special human life. That is, if we really were to examine things all the way through.

                I think that the base of Benjamin’s argument is to be found within these principles. He employs some scholastic concepts that are not popularly understood today.

                My understanding of things is that we now live in a time of clear divergence from Christian and Catholic view of the sort I outlined, and that people no longer see the world, and life, in those ways. What has brought this about, and how perception has changed, is a complex topic. (But an interesting one!) What this means is that no aspect of human life, and really no aspect of life itself if you really examine the question, is seen as having innate specialness and certainly not ‘sacredness’. Obviously, to propose something being ‘sacred’ require a whole group of different definitions about the nature of life and also of divinity.

                You could, with the arguments that you are working with (if I have understood them well enough) do away with any notion of specialness at any and every point, including the fully fledged human. If you do away with it at one point, it follows that you could do away with it at all points.

                There is actually no ‘reason’ to regard human life as different in any sense from no-life, or a stick, or a rock. Once the ‘essentialist’ argument as I might call it is defeated and seen as ‘unreal’, and once one recognizes that what is ‘sacred’ and what is ‘divine’ and then what is divinized in the human and worthy of special protection is not based in truth but merely in the projection of desire or of phantasy, at that point the only thing upholding ethics is whim, caprice, convention, democratic decision, and what is determined, in a sense arbitrarily, by a given person or by some people.

                Your idea that someone could, or should, define some point where ‘specialness’ is agreed on by all, has formed itself I think in a materialistic and scientific-biological mental setting (the setting that has come to define how we see many things in fact). But it seems to me that if you cannot conceive of specialness (your term) all the way through, then in fact there is no point where specialness is understood to exist. Ah, except what a given person, or some group of people, have decided that it must exist. They could just as well decide not. They could put it to a vote and the people might choose whatever they wished to.

                Should pro-lifers have to prove that the fetus has the specialness? Or should the pro-choice people have to prove that it does not?

                The essence of the pro-life position, as far as I have been able to tell, derives from or is based either solidly or peripherally in Christian metaphysics. The stronger and more actuated and grounded the Christian belief — the better that the metaphysics is grasped intellectually — the less prone to allow wiggle-room for abortion (and even contraception). As I said, the logic of the arguments is sound indeed, but hard to live in accord with. And committed pro-lifers of this sort do not have to ‘prove’ anything. Because one is either engaged with the larger ethical and moral commitment, or one is veering away from it or is outside of it absolutely.

                It is hard for non-Christians to see this, but when the base argument of Christian theology is overturned and no longer understood by the intelligence, there must logically occur a falling away from the former value-set which has defined the Occident. It starts with one renounced definition and proceeds, slowly and surely but inexorably from that point. I say this with sincerity: the end of the recognition of the sacredness of humanity and life, is to usher in an age in which machines rule men. Because a machine is just that: a mechanism.

                This is how I conceive of the problem but I admit to seeing it in meta-logical terms.

      • Of course it’s human; what else would a human ovum fertilized by a human sperm be? A plant? A virus? A bacterium? Or at what magical moment does the embryo formed by a human ovum and a human sperm speciate?

          • Hardly. Even in your most tortured hypothetical example (a sentient alien that goes through metamorphosis) in no Star-Trekky version of the future would it not be considered murder to kill such a creature at an egg or larvae stage. Those would just be considered early stages of a sentient being’s development, because the DNA of the being would be the same throughout, just as it is in butterflies. (Hence, it is just as illegal to kill the eggs or larvae of an endangered species as it is to kill the adult. They’re inescapably the same organism.)

            • You’ve made a logic jump her that doesn’t really work. It is illegal to kill the eggs or larvae of an endangered species because that will obviously keep the species endangered.

              Whatever the reason we don’t kill human beings, it’s certainly not because we are endangered.

              This leads us to why can’t we kill human beings.

              There’s clearly something special about us- in the 19th century usually referred to as the soul-now often referred to as a high level intelligence.

              The question would be, assuming that the imagined species was actually overrunning its respective world, would it still be wrong to kill it in the egg or larvae stage? Or it only the deep intelligence in the the adult stage that makes it wrong for us to kill it. If the former, why? What makes it wrong?

              (Just so we’re clear I actually don’t know if killing said creature in the egg or larvae stage would be wrong. I think there’s a reasonable argument it would be.)

              • Your arguments are getting worse, and relying on logical fallacies and dodges more.

                You’ve made a logic jump her that doesn’t really work. It is illegal to kill the eggs or larvae of an endangered species because that will obviously keep the species endangered.Whatever the reason we don’t kill human beings, it’s certainly not because we are endangered.

                A dodge, and a dishonest one. The point was that killing the eggs of species is regarded as killing a member of that species. Why it is prohibited is irrelevant.

                • No, they’re not.

                  Obviously, killing an egg is killing a member of the species.

                  The reason it is illegal to kill the eggs is because that will keep the species endangered. Period.

                  It doesn’t follow from that, whatsoever, that there’s anything inherently unethical about destroying the eggs.

                  • You’re still on a tangent. Stay on topic. You claim unborn children aren’t “Human” for various contrived reasons. The egg analogy was designed to point out that killing the eggs of an endangered species is still regarded as killing that species, and thus it follows that your specious claim that killing embryonic humans is not, similarly, the killing of human beings. Why the killings are or are not punished as crimes is irrelevant. Then you deny the comparison by resorting to the absurd “humans are special, so killing them early doesn’t count.”

                    Do better.

                    • You’re going to have to read better.

                      I never once claimed anything about unborn children not being human. Nor have I said anything about them being punished as crimes-not even once. Nor have I said humans are special, so killing them early doesn’t count.

                      In fact, it’s almost as you haven’t read my comments for context at all.

                      And I’m frankly surprised, you’re usually so much better than that. I hope you’re not having a bad night tonight. I don’t know how to continue a useful conversation with you if you read things into my comments that clearly are not even close to there.

                  • I apologize-I can’t seem to edit the above.

                    It’s possible I am relying on logical fallacies, but I just don’t see it. If you do, point them out.

                    What I objected to was not that-but the notion that my point was a dishonest dodge. Nothing could be further from the truth.

                    The issue isn’t whether you’re killing the same species-the issue is about when killing a species is wrong in exactly the same way as killing a human being would be wrong.

                    I used the insect analogy precisely because it was helpful and provides such clear stages of life. I’m not *sure* it would follow that killing a non-sentient egg of a creature that would eventually turn into a talking, thinking butterfly is wrong in the same way that directly killing the butterfly is wrong.

                    I’m not sure it isn’t either. Thus, if the point was that it’s the same species, he missed my original point, which is that the word “species” may not be very helpful here and may actually confuse the question. What if a species was of vastly different intelligences in vastly different parts of its life cycle-with human intelligence only at the very last stage.

                    By the way, if you’re going to accuse someone of using logical fallacies-it seems wise to point them out. (Although I think some of the confusion might be actually where I am. I’m not saying the pro-choice folks are right-only that science cannot prove them wrong.)

          • In the first place, you haven’t answered my questions: if it isn’t “human,” what is a human ovum fertilized by a human sperm? If it becomes “human” only at some later point, when?

            In the second place, egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly are just the life stages of an individual butterfly. They happen to be more distinct than the life stages of an individual human being, but that pattern is common in the insect kingdom: egg, larva, pupa, imago (adult).

            In the third place, you invent a hypothetical butterfly-like intelligent alien species and suppose varying levels of intellect at different life stages with no intelligence or intelligence similar to cows and humans. You say we don’t think it’s wrong to kill things with no or cow-like intelligence all the time. Setting aside that this isn’t really an ethical argument anyway, but we also regularly kill some of the smartest animals of all, such as pigs, goats, and octopuses, and adults of some of these species can outperform human children from birth to about 3 years of age (when the human brain is developing very rapidly) in certain cognitive tasks. So you’ve quickly found yourself on very shaky ground, where even pedicide might be allowed, and added no clarity whatever to the ethical considerations involved in abortion.

            • If I haven’t answered your questions, I apologize. I will try again.

              1. It is clearly genetically human. However, it’s clear to me that are genetic codes are not that different from dogs, wolves, monkeys, and chimps. Thus, I reject that the fact that it’s genetically human is relevant. The question is when does it have whatever it is that makes a human being particularly human. In the 19th century, that was likely referred to as the soul. Now, we may refer to it in terms of high level intelligence. You should note that I never said that the pro-choices were right about the argument-only that the pro-life crowd simply lacks the ability to prove them wrong-two distinctly different things.

              2. I don’t understand your concern in Paragraph 2. Yes, this is an individual butterfly. My point is while we know that to be the stages of an individual butterfly, we actually don’t know if there are significant differences in the intelligences of the stages. Taking to the extreme, a butterfly like creature may only have high level intelligence-such that it would be wrong to kill it in the last stage. If you went to an alien planet-and you realized the eggs knew nothing, the caterpillars acted like dogs, and the butterflies acted like human beings-would you then find it wrong to kill the eggs and caterpillars? (The answer could very well be yes-but my point was that it’s not unreasonable to come to the opposite conclusion.)

              3. You are wildly misunderstanding the difference between human intelligence and animal intelligence here. My understanding of it is that we are wildly more intelligent than the next most intelligent creature than us (dolphins)-whereas they are only modestly more intelligent than third place. We are essentially lapping the competition. Thus, there is no animal on earth comparable to us. I would imagine if we found aliens who were close or even just a little bit below our intelligence level-we would instinctively know that it would not be okay to kill or eat them. Thus, the fact that we are killing the second most intelligent or third most intelligent animal in the world is, ultimately, irrelevant.

              • 1. If the zygote is “clearly genetically human,” then it is a human being in the earliest stage of life. Your entrée into this discussion involved the premise that it might not be “human” life. Well, it is, as you’ve admitted. Since it possess human DNA, it is already distinct from all other non-human forms of life; and, since the question of abortion involves only human lives, it is thus unnecessary to delve into arcane matters of whether humans have some additional, special quality (a soul, a unique intelligence, etc.) which separates them from other non-human forms of life. The human zygote-embryo-fetus is already a human being, it will never be anything other than a human being, and its intrinsic human nature is not dependent on any other characteristic.

                2) My point was that the butterfly is the same individual organism at all stages of development. It doesn’t possess its butterfly nature only in its adult form, but throughout its entire life.

                3) You are the one who proposed that zygotes-embryos-fetuses might not possess the “human-level” intelligence that would make it wrong to kill them; I am simply extending your thesis: from birth until about the age of 3, human children are outperformed in (at least) certain cognitive tasks by the the adults of some animal species, such as pigs. If relative intelligence is as fundamental to the ethics of killing a living being as you suggest it might be, then the fact that human beings generally don’t object to killing animals that are more intelligent than an 18-month-old child opens up the possibility, on your own premises, that it might be acceptable to kill an 18-month-old child in the manner of a pig. You can’t salvage your argument by talking about human intelligence in generalities while ignoring the differences in life stages when it suits you, not especially when the differences in life stages have been instrumental in making your case.

                • So, does that mean the zygote cannot be destroyed through, for instance, Plan B birth control in your view? I think that’s the conclusion you would have to reach, correct?

                  1.) By the way, I think your answer to number one clearly begs the question. Of course, it’s distinct from all other forms of life and has human DNA-but that doesn’t really answer the question. You know what else is genetically human, clearly alive, and distinct from all other forms of life? Your toenail. Thus, I think that as much as you desperately want to rely on science to answer this question, you simply cannot. It’s something else other than those factors that makes human beings so very valuable. Of course, the fact that science doesn’t answer this question doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t nevertheless otherwise answer the question exactly the way you want it to be answered.

                  2.) I’m not so sure about that. It occurs to me a butterfly could, for all we know, have no memories of being a caterpillar, nor any similar behaviors to being a caterpillar (I’m sure biologists actually know this part-but I don’t). If you’re talking genetics, then I grant your point-but I fundamentally reject that this issue can be resolved by looking at the genetics and science for the reason outlined above.

                  3.) This feels like a bad slippery slope argument to me. Human-level intelligence cannot simply be measured by a few cognitive tasks. Human intelligence, especially at that age, may be far more defined by the speed at which the brain and development is going than the actual ability to complete tasks. Plus, don’t you think if we’re going to make this argument we should be comparing apples to apples-that is toddler children with toddler animals instead of toddler children with adult animals? That being said, I do concede you have a point here-that an ex-girlfriend (vegan) of mine would likely have taken the other way-she probably would have suggested we were wrong to eat the pig. (While I was eating a bacon cheeseburger).

                  *** Wanted to keep it light with a joke there at the end. I know people can get uptight about this subject. I appreciate you engaging about it with me for so long. ***

                  • As long as you keep resorting to these kinds of disingenuous rhetorical stunts, nobody should take your arguments seriously. I certainly won’t. A toenail isn’t by any possible interpretation alive, an individual, or relevant to the discussion, though pro-abortion advocates frequently make this desperate analogy (others: a fetus is like a parasite, an alien invader, and a tumor).

                    The ethical issue is really simple to state: once created, a human fetus is an identifiable human life that, if permitted to grow naturally, will eventually be a self-supporting, independent, cognizant human being. Women who do not want the problems and handicaps associated with childbirth and motherhood have legitimate reasons to want to be able to avoid both, and as autonomous citizens in a democracy, should have the right to engage in conduct the exercises their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, limited by the restriction that such conduct cannot unreasonably interfere with the rights of others. Since the unborn are human lives and nascent human beings, both parties in the unwanted birth conflict infringe on the rights of the other. How do we balance those considerations, accepting, as the law does, that the right to life is the highest right of all? As soon as the unwanted child reaches the point of equal rights with the mother, abortion is and must be precluded.

                    Ducking the central issue by trying to come up with tortured arguments that fetuses are not alive, or human, or beings is lazy and cowardly. Deal with the utilitarian balancing required to have an ethical process and system. There are TWO human beings involved, not one. Both may not have the same rights, however.

                    • I’m not the one ducking the central issue-that is you. Your argument makes that essentially clear.

                      In fact, your comment shows this.

                      You say a toenail is not by any definition alive or an individual, and you’re clearly wrong about the first-and clearly right about the second. A toenail is by every single scientific definition of the word actually “alive”. It would take you a lifetime to find a biologist who would argue to the contrary.

                      It is not, however, an individual. I concur with that point, which is the central point. It is clearly not the fact that the fetus is alive, then, that precludes killing it. It is something else. Here, you call that something else “individuality.” Previously, I called it “high level intelligence.” In the past, we may have called it the “soul”. Whatever, it’s called, it’s central to the question here. This seems patently obvious, and your willful refusal to address the issue does nothing whatsoever to further your position.

                      So, that leaves us to the question of when exactly does the fetus become an individual, does it not? I am ducking nothing-the ducks, Jack, are all yours. It seems to me that the balancing cannot necessarily be required should not be required until that “individuality”, that “soul”, or that “high level intelligence” is endowed upon the fetus. Once this is established, I do the utilitarian balancing in exactly the same way you do, with no objection to your final outcome-that may not have been obvious in my previous comments. The only reason I did not do my own utilitarian analysis is because I have no objection to yours.

                      Of course, I do not accuse you of hypocrisy.

                      If I’m following your logic correctly, you believe that the fetus must be protected at the point of insemination-that is, as soon as it is a zygote. In essence, your position is that the mere potentiality of individuality is enough to preclude us from filling the fetus or the zygote. I have no issues with that position-I just don’t think it’s one science helps us with one iota.

                    • A toenail is NOT alive. Nothing has been killed if to take off a piece. It is a part of an organism, not a living organism itself. Sophistry.

                      No, you don’t understand my point, because you apparently can’t read. I have never said that a fetus must be protected or that it shouldn’t be protected. I have said that you are falsely framing the issue to meet a desired result. I am not. If framing the issue honestly precludes your desired conclusion, that should, but won’t, tell you a lot.

                    • There comes a point, I guess, where I can’t further reply to you-is that an issue in the wordpress theme?

                      First off, why are you being an asshole? Stop it. You wouldn’t talk to me like that in person-so it’s not ethical to do so online. I am a guest in your metaphysical home. I haven’t called you names or suggested you cannot read. You’re better than that, and if you are not, you really need to return to ethics 101. You could start by undrinking some of your own Kool Aid. Sometimes, you’re wrong. Sometimes, you’re right. Most people, myself included, would rather deal with a kind person who was wrong than an asshole who is right. In short, never show people you’re smart when you can, instead, show them that you are kind. At least, that’s what I believe. Also, it may be, at least, part and parcel of why you are losing readers here.

                      If you’re not actually better than this, please so inform me, and I can choose not to return here again. BTW, I read all of your posts-but I do not comment with frequency. I considered leaving permanently after the above comment, but I thought I would want to be given the benefit of the doubt if I were in your shoes. Maybe you’re just having a shitty weekend-happens to all of us sometimes.

                      As for the substance of your response- A toenail IS alive. There is absolutely no question about that. I agree it’s not an organism, but that’s now what you said. You cannot seriously expect me to respond to what you meant to say vs. what you actually say, do you? If you had said, it’s not an organism, I would have immediately granted that point.

                      As for sophism, that accusation is wildly unethical. Of course, I could be trying to deceive, but the far more likely problem is that human beings are quite unique-so it’s hard to draw examples that aren’t made up or a hypothetical. I don’t see why a hypothetical should necessarily be intended to deceive especially when it’s difficult to draw an actual analogy. It seems to me that as a guest in your metaphysical home, I should be entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

                      You have consistently danced around the issue I am trying to address, which is very simple. It’s not sufficient to say it’s alive, and it’s difficult to know exactly when it’s “human”. Or more precisely, what human means. Of course, it’s immediately genetically human-but is that enough? I’m not so clear it is. You are obstinately refusing to answer that question-because, I think, you’re arguing it’s obvious. But, how so? What makes it so obvious?

                      Finally, you should note that I actually don’t care where this leads us. I just want sides to come at the debate with open minds, and actually talk about the ethics of it with honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, it’s an issue where people don’t seem to be able to do that-even here-where usually folks are pretty good about thinking about the serious stuff without resorting to name calling or insults.

                    • There comes a point, I guess, where I can’t further reply to you-is that an issue in the wordpress theme?

                      If you mean that the Reply nests only go so far, the answer is yes, that’s a WordPress thing.

                      First off, why are you being an asshole? Stop it.

                      I’m being an asshole—stipulated!—because I find your argument intellectually dishonest, and that you are persisting in an intellectually dishonest argument as a substitute for engaging fairly, to avoid having to accept that you are wrong. I find these particular pro-abortion arguments unethical on their face—not because they support abortion, which may be ethiical or unethical, but because they are contrived arguments, again, to avoid the real issues.
                      I’ll pretend you said “please” and engage more gently from now on.

                      You wouldn’t talk to me like that in person-so it’s not ethical to do so online.

                      You’re 100% wrong about that…I would, and have , address your pro-abortion rationalizations exactly as I have face to face, and have.

                      I am a guest in your metaphysical home. I haven’t called you names or suggested you cannot read. You’re better than that, and if you are not, you really need to return to ethics 101.

                      If you read the into material, I admit up front that I often react severely to having words put in my mouth. You were warned. I am “better than that,” but often not when provoked in that manner. You stated that I was arguing that it was wrong to kill a fetus. I have never said that in this discussion, or suggested it. I have said that the arguments that killing fetuses is hunky-dorry that you are using are logically and ethically unsustainable.

                      You could start by undrinking some of your own Kool Aid. Sometimes, you’re wrong. Sometimes, you’re right.

                      I know that, have written that, and have it permanently on the blog. My objective is not to be right. My objective is for people to uses valid ethical analytical techniques to decide what is right.

                      Most people, myself included, would rather deal with a kind person who was wrong than an asshole who is right.

                      I don’t believe in namby-pamby debate, as it permits a lot of bad arguments to slip through.I do, here as elsewhere, moderate my approach depending on the commenter’s tolerance as I percieve it. I did not feel that my tone was materially more bellicose than yours. Thanks for the input. Notes, and I will filter my responses accordingly.
                      In short, never show people you’re smart when you can, instead, show them that you are kind. At least, that’s what I believe. Also, it may be, at least, part and parcel of why you are losing readers here.

                      I really don’t need the lecture. I am very kind, in fact, but I do not place enabling unethical arguments in the category of kindness. And the traffic comment is a cheap shot—is that too mean?—because it is the posts, not the responses I make in response to comments that determines traffic, as in all other websites. The comment battlefield is unusually tough and substantive on Ethics Alarms, and I am a chief reason for that, frankly. It’s a rich blog, and if someone chooses to ignore it, that’s their choice and misfortune.

                      If you’re not actually better than this, please so inform me, and I can choose not to return here again. BTW, I read all of your posts-but I do not comment with frequency. I considered leaving permanently after the above comment, but I thought I would want to be given the benefit of the doubt if I were in your shoes. Maybe you’re just having a shitty weekend-happens to all of us sometimes.

                      In fact, I am having a shitty weekend. They have been working on the roof, my car’s transmission died, I am way behind at work because I was inexplicably exhausted all week, my TV satellite kicked out because of the roofers. And the Red Sox aren’t hitting. None of that is an excuse for being cranky. It might be a reason.

                      As for the substance of your response- A toenail IS alive.

                      “Toenail: A toenail is produced by living skin cells in the toe. A toenail consists of several parts including the nail plate (the visible part of the nail), the nail bed (the skin beneath the nail plate), the cuticle (the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the base of the nail), the nail folds (the skin folds that frame and support the nail on three sides), the lunula (the whitish half-moon at the base of the nail) and the matrix (the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle)….The nails are composed largely of keratin, a hardened protein (that is also in skin and hair). As new cells grow in the matrix, the older cells are pushed out, compacted and take on the familiar flattened, hardened form of the toenail.”

                      That means that the toenail is produced by living cells, but is not itself alive. You’re wrong.

                      As for sophism, that accusation is wildly unethical.

                      “Sophistry: a fallacious argument.” The word is often employed in the context of intentional deception, but my meaning was that your toenail argument isn’t useful or reasonable.”

                      I don’t see why a hypothetical should necessarily be intended to deceive especially when it’s difficult to draw an actual analogy. It seems to me that as a guest in your metaphysical home, I should be entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

                      As I said, it’s a bad analogy. I can’t possibly tell whether its an intentionally deceptive one. Usually the failure to have a good analogy (in law, for example) signals that the argument is weak.

                      You have consistently danced around the issue I am trying to address, which is very simple. It’s not sufficient to say it’s alive, and it’s difficult to know exactly when it’s “human”. Or more precisely, what human means. Of course, it’s immediately genetically human-but is that enough? I’m not so clear it is. You are obstinately refusing to answer that question-because, I think, you’re arguing it’s obvious. But, how so? What makes it so obvious?

                      Let’s see: a living creature has human DNA and only human DNA. It has human organs, and human form. It was created by two humans. If allowed to contribute along its life cycle, we know it will become a human adult capable of speech, empathy, creativity and procreation. What is it? I’m sorry; I don’t think its a tough question. What else could it be, but a human being. I see you desperately trying to avoid the obvious conclusion because you don’t want to deal with it. That’s not an insult; I think it’s fair diagnosis.

                      Finally, you should note that I actually don’t care where this leads us. I just want sides to come at the debate with open minds, and actually talk about the ethics of it with honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, it’s an issue where people don’t seem to be able to do that-even here-where usually folks are pretty good about thinking about the serious stuff without resorting to name calling or insults.

                      I have no stake in this debate at all, except that I view the abortion issue as the worst example I can think of when both sides refuse to acknowledge the legitimate stakes of two competing parties. As I understand it, you are willfully a part of that approach by tysrianing to find a way to argue one stakeholder out of existence. I don’t view that as open-minded, nor as conducive to ethics—after all, if there’s just a toenail to consider, why would anyone want to limit abortions except to oppress women?

                      My earlier definition of the ethical problem stands, and is a fair and objective one:

                      “The ethical issue is really simple to state: once created, a human fetus is an identifiable human life that, if permitted to grow naturally, will eventually be a self-supporting, independent, cognizant human being. Women who do not want the problems and handicaps associated with childbirth and motherhood have legitimate reasons to want to be able to avoid both, and as autonomous citizens in a democracy, should have the right to engage in conduct the exercises their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, limited by the restriction that such conduct cannot unreasonably interfere with the rights of others. Since the unborn are human lives and nascent human beings, both parties in the unwanted birth conflict infringe on the rights of the other. How do we balance those considerations, accepting, as the law does, that the right to life is the highest right of all? As soon as the unwanted child reaches the point of equal rights with the mother, abortion is and must be precluded.”

                      I will apologize for saying more than once that the “it’s a living thing but not human so it doesn’t count” rationalization on your part is dishonest. Maybe you have heard it so often from so many respectable authorities that you have come to believe it. You said that you didn’t understand why it was unethical to decide on the result you want and then construct an argument to support it. It’s unethical because that’s advocacy, not inductive or reductive reasoning. Ethical decision-making should not involve advocacy, because advocacy is bias.

                    • By the way, I would love to have you explain how “You’re going to have to read better” (You to Me) is acceptable civil discourse but “Apparently you can’t read” (Me to You) is outrageous calumny.

                      Of course, today was about double standards…

                    • I shouldn’t have said that. I apologize. It came from when you said “Do Better”, and I, as is beneath me, I responded with a bit of snark. I should apologize, and I will. I’m sorry. I get the impression you are very kind in real life-sometimes you can be a little snarky here. That being said, usually, it doesn’t get to a place where I would say you were being an asshole. To be fair, I’m also having a terrible weekend-my wife and I have (I think finally and mercifully) decided to split and there is a degree of emotional fall out there, which maybe rendered me less than ready for the “high stakes” ethical analysis we are doing. Maybe I was being unfair to you because of my shitty weekend too. So, there is certainly some mea culpa here. To the extent I was unkind, please forgive me. (Bottom line-I can’t say you were right and I was wrong. I was definitely wrong too.)

                      I asked if you were having a bad weekend because I know that can make a difference. I’m truly sorry you’re having such a bad weekend. That does sound super shitty.

                      I’m sure you are kind in your personal life. I do think you could do a *slightly* better job bringing that attitude here-because I think it would help grow the garden of viewpoints. I was actually only playing a liberal for tv here, which means I’m not really hurt about it or anything. I may have responded over-sensitively due to the underlying circumstances outlined in the previous paragraph.

                      Our disagreement is so small it’s barely a disagreement-you simply think the genetics are enough-and I’m not as sure. I’m probably at 95% sure-still, I don’t think it’s the slam dunk win you think it is.) If I was voting on it, I’d vote pro-life. I think if I were really a liberal on this issue, and you asked me what else is it?, I might respond with “something human-like, but not human.” I’m not sure that’s a winning argument, though.

                      If nothing else, let’s hope we both have much better weekends next weekend. After all, tomorrow is another day.

                    • Nothing is worse than marital crises. I’ve been there; luckily we got through it, and are heading into our 39th anniversary. But I was like a zombie–an unhappy zombie, at work and everywhere else —for over a year. I’m amazed you’re even coherent. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. It’s one of the things they don’t tell you about when they talk about growing up.

                  • As a general rule, yes, I do think that it is wrong to kill the zygote. Whether Plan B is an abortifacient drug is a separate, somewhat debated, matter. Scientific research has concluded that it works by preventing fertilization, and that it doesn’t, or is very unlikely to, prevent implantation of the zygote, but many anti-abortion groups say that it does, in fact, prevent implantation.

                    1. I had a feeling when I was writing my previous reply that you might resort to comparing the zygote to a human body part or organ (I’ve seen it done before, by people arguing along similar lines to you). I even started writing a parenthetical aside to refute such a comparison in advance, but left it out, deciding to give you the benefit of the doubt, hoping you would put a little more effort into thinking about it—so much for that! No, a zygote isn’t comparable to a toenail. A zygote is an organism at the earliest stage of life. Our bodies of course are composed of a variety of cells, but all of these cells together make up the human organism. None of these cells, organs, or body parts is “a” life; they are not living organisms in and of themselves. A toenail is a part of the body, and, being composed of dead cells, isn’t even alive, much less is it an organism. Your comparison is specious, both in terms of biology and in terms of basic logic.

                    2. It’s not just genetics, but biology (the former is a branch of the latter). The only reason you raise the matter of memory is because you can’t deny the biological reality. Personally, I have no memory of being an infant; my earliest memory is from around 20 months after birth. According to your analogy, this introduces the possibility that, as an infant, I might not have had “HUMAN life,” and therefore an argument could be made that it would have been acceptable for my mother to kill me then. But in biological reality, the butterfly is the same being, the same individual organism, as the caterpillar, in a later stage of life. Whether it has any memory of being a caterpillar, a matter we can’t determine, is irrelevant to the question of whether it was a “BUTTERFLY life” when it was a caterpillar. Likewise, I had “HUMAN life” as an infant, just as I do now, and if it’s wrong to take a human life, it would have been wrong to kill me as an infant.

                    3. It’s not a slippery slope argument, it’s a reductio ad absurdum. You haven’t defined what “intelligence” is, much less have you provided any means of determining when it sets in. Yet you seem to think that human children possess it, from birth till about 3 years of age, while adult pigs apparently don’t, even if they do outperform human infants on at least some cognitive tasks. I don’t see why we’d have to compare human infants to pig infants; on your analogy, human-level intelligence was the fundamental consideration, and you have suggested it may not be present at certain stages of human life.

                    All you do is throw around hypothetical after hypothetical in your attempt to demonstrate that it’s possible that “HUMAN” life starts at some unknown point after the biological life of a human organism begins. But you have no reason to suppose that.

                • One quick thing, I say “slightly” better because I wouldn’t want you to compromise your integrity on being too nice.

                  I come here precisely because I think you’re, to the extent reasonably possible on the issues, fair down the line.

                  • One thing that made me realize how tough this issue was before I had even thought about it. My Biolofy teacher, the best teacher I ever had, was professor George Wald, Nobel Prize winner, and as much a philosopher as a scientist. Inevitably he had to talk about abortion, and he said, (I’m quoting from memory): “I’ve thought about the nature of the gestating child for many years. To me, it is arbitrary to draw an artificail line and say, “Now it’s a human being and has full rights” when it didn’t have those rights and wasn’t a human being week before or a day before. It’s the same being, from a biological perspective,from fertilization to birth; pretending otherwise is just expedient. So, to me, either you forbid abortion from the beginning of that life, or allow it right up to the moment of birth.”

                    Well, George was a liberal and an absolutist. I thought he had made the argument against abortion, but he reached the opposite conclusion.

  3. I wonder what would happen if you took a petition advocating legislation that would bar the government from imposing bans on 4th trimester abortions. I wonder how many would attach their names to such a position.

    • We already KNOW that the Democrats in the House would sign, as the GOP already tried this just a few months ago trying to protect against the abortion of such ‘clusters of cells’… otherwise known as children.

  4. The thing about that dodge that’s scary is that it implies she recognized the argument they were going to make very quickly and instead of be prepared with a counter argument deflected until it went away .

    So, clearly prepared enough to recognize the argument, yet not enough to have a counter. What horseshit

    • You give even more credit to her character than I would (an almost meaningless statement, infinitesimal is greater than zero):

      An actress, having rehearsed a mass of lines she was given by marketing professionals, recognized an argument she was tutored to avoid and evaded using language which tested as effective in focus groups.

      The distinction is slim, but I’m confident she was taught to distract from a subject that proves an unprofitable point – what I mean to suggest is that a distraction was her prepared counter.

  5. I generally agree on the celebrity witness thing, but I think Willie Nelson was a valuable witness on the topic of biodiesel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.