Monday, March 31, 2014

Post-Debate Reflection

My debate with Matt Dillahunty has come to an end. If you didn't get a chance to listen to it, you can do so here. The winner of sporting events is clear-cut; the winner of debates: not so much. What matters are the arguments, and whether the arguments were adequately answered, though other factors can sway people's opinions. In terms of content, I’m pleased with what I had to offer, though Matt probably topped me in terms of style. As far as who “won”? I think most debaters think they won the debate (and most listeners believe their debater won the debate) regardless of how well or poorly their opponent did. Personally, I’m not as interested in who won the debate. What I care about is the fact that I was able to present my case to Matt's supporters.

My arguments were that the unborn are full human beings from fertilization, and that they are fully persons from fertilization. Matt gave no response to these arguments; more than that, he flat-out refused to engage these arguments. He just asserted that personhood is irrelevant because the woman's bodily autonomy is sacred (kind of ironic, coming from an atheist). Specifically, he claims "no one has the right to use your body against your will," without evidence or really even an argument for that conclusion. As well as giving an argument for the full humanity and personhood of the unborn, I gave an argument for why personhood is very relevant to this issue, and Matt didn't respond. He just kept repeating his mantra.

I think we were given too much time for cross-examination, and I think that's where I did the worst in the debate. I'm used to giving presentations, not the back-and-forth of cross-examination. After the fact, a friend pointed out that Matt thrives on cross-examination; he has years of experience doing that on The Atheist Experience. I'm not so used to that. I think Matt was also able to capitalize on the long pauses I gave while I was thinking of what to say. I suppose podcasts aren’t the best format for taking time to formulate what I want to say. I want to take care not to say something I don’t mean, but in an audio-only format I think silence really counts against debaters.

When it came time for me to cross-examine Matt, I tried to press him on the personhood issue. He still flat-out refused to address personhood because, to him, it's irrelevant to the question of abortion. Yet, once again, he didn’t provide a real argument for why it’s irrelevant, so much as a simple assertion. Despite his insistence that personhood is irrelevant and his refusal to engage personhood arguments, Matt continually implied his position on personhood through language such as “non-conscious clump of cells” or “human quote life” (i.e. human “life”). He also continually betrayed his presupposition that fetal life is irrelevant with examples and analogies that fail to account for the fetus at all, such as his modification of the baseball analogy to be breaking a window in your own house, which doesn’t affect more than one person. It’s bad enough to refuse to engage your debate opponent’s arguments. It’s worse to imply disagreement or mockery of those arguments and then continue to refuse to actually address them, much less refute them.

During cross examination I also tried to press Matt on child support, but like the personhood question, he wouldn’t give a solid answer, instead asserting that I wasn't listening to him. The reality is he just wasn't willing to take a stand on child support, but to be consistent, if the woman should be able to opt out at any time during pregnancy, so should the man. But we don't accept that, because what matters are the needs of the child, not the desires of the parent.

Matt also didn't adequately respond to my discussion of rights. He asserts that society grants rights, but he doesn’t then try to explain why society values some rights more than others, or whether society is correct in doing so. Moreover, he doesn’t explain how a right grounded in society—which is ever changing—could be an absolute right. Does Matt believe bodily autonomy always trumps the right to life? If so, why? If the answer is simply “because society says so,” and society changed its mind, would Matt go along with the change? If not, why not? And if not, how does he ground rights? Because it clearly wouldn't be simply "rights are whatever society grants as rights." That’s where you get to the heart of Matt’s foundational principles, but he refuses to address those root questions.

Similarly, if rights come from society, there’s nothing inherently right or wrong with society restricting or taking away completely the "right" to an abortion—because society is what’s determining rightness or wrongness in the first place. Matt needs to provide a much stronger answer than “society grants rights” to justify continually fighting for the right to abortion. Otherwise the society that Matt believes in is a society in which no one is safe, because the many can take away the rights of the few, or the strong can take away the rights of the weak, as we’ve seen plenty of times in the past. Only if all human beings are recognized as rights-bearing entities are all people in that society safe.

Unfortunately we weren't given a chance for closing statements. I really wish I had more time to interact with that last caller, but if you'd like to see my full in-depth response to the Burning IVF Facility thought experiment, you can read it here.

All in all, it was an interesting and intense time. Matt Dillahunty is definitely one of the most heavy-weight debaters I've had the chance to debate. If you listened to it, I'd love to hear how you think I did, or what you think I could have done better. Please feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments.


Elizabeth Doecke said...

I've yet to listen to the full debate, so I haven't heard the cross-examination yet. I think you did a good job at presenting your arguments in simple terms, and it also frustrated me that Dillahunty didn't engage on the issue of personhood. I did think his comment after your opening statement was a fair call, that is, his comment that it seemed more like a rebuttal than an opening statement. However, I still think you laid a strong foundation for the pro-life position, particularly on humanity and personhood of the unborn.
It fired me up when Dillahunty referred to the death of the foetus during abortion as a 'side-effect'. In the reading that I have done, the live birth of a living infant is more likely to be referred to as the side-effect. The use of fatal injections of potassium chloride to induce foetal demise prior to delivery in a late-term abortion make it clear that the death of the foetus is a primary goal, not a side-effect.
He may have addressed this later (I really should listen to the whole thing), but I also wonder how the bodily autonomy argument applies in case of foetal abnormalities or selective reductions. In the former, the mother withdraws her consent to allow the foetus use of her body only because it is not "healthy", which is tantamount to discrimination. In the latter, the mother is obviously willing to give consent to at least one foetus for the use of her body, so what then is the justification for eliminating the other(s)?

Sven2547 said...

At one point you took the position that a woman's uterus, when she is pregnant, doesn't belong to her. I found that position stunning, and not in a good way.

Clinton said...

I never said the uterus doesn't belong to her. I said that the uterus is made for the unborn child during pregnancy, whereas your kidney is meant to filter *your* blood, not someone else's. That's one disanalogy between the violinist and pregnancy.

JDC said...

I haven't watched the debate yet, but I intend to when I find some time to do so. Anyways, I just noticed that this blog now has a Community tab at the top of the comment section, which it did not before. I find this particularly fascinating given that since the last Disqus update, on most websites the tab is the name of the website instead of Community. Does anyone know why this is?

Clinton said...

I'm not sure. Maybe that's the default and you can re-name it.

Sounder said...

I think children do have a right to their parents' bodies, not entirely, but insofar as their parents' bodies are necessary to provide things like basic nutrition and shelter from harm. (Even if that's through using their bodies to place a born baby with an adoptive family or something, the responsibility is still on the biological parents until they can officially transfer it to someone else.)

So if a woman grew up and learned that she couldn't carry children in her uterus, she couldn't demand that her mother's be transplanted into her. (Assuming the technology to do so was even available.) But she DOES have a right to live in her mother's uterus for the first 9 months of her life, just as a born child has a right to be cared for with the hands and feet (and breasts, arms, legs, etc.) of her parents, but couldn't demand a hand transplant.

Not sure if that makes sense, but that seems like another distinction between pregnancy and being forced to donate a kidney or something.

Jacob Simon said...

I listened to the debate. Unfortunately I do think Matt won on "style", which for many people is all that matters in this format.

His insistence on denying that the question of personhood even matters was very frustrating, because in many cases he did slip away from making a purely bodily rights argument, and I thought you could have pressed him more in those specific instances.

I do wish you would have done more to press him on his claim that nobody has the right to use your body with some examples that help tear that down, like the breastfeeding example Josh uses in his DFG argument.

The only other complaint I had about your performance was ceding the ground to him when he kept making his "mathematical" argument when it came to the life of the mother; we're not doing math, we're doing whatever good can be done. Double-effect is not an issue of weighing values and making a mathematical decision, it's trying to do whatever good is possible, even if there are tragic and unintended consequences .

Clinton said...

Yeah, I'm still relatively new to debating, but from even seasoned debaters I'm taken to understand (from talking to them) that there's always more you wish you would have said, or something you wish you would have done differently.

It just really didn't seem like bodily rights was very essential to his case. He briefly talks about his revised bodily rights case, but then moves on and starts talking about pregnancy happens "to" us and not "by" us, and that women need pregnancy for safety concerns. So I addressed bodily rights because I felt it was important to, but I responded to the others because, at least in the moment, it seemed like that was more pertinent to his argument. It's possible that I should have focused more on bodily rights than I did. For the most part, I was trying to establish that, at least in the vast majority of pregnancies, the woman's (and man's) responsibility in engaging in sex grounds their responsibility for caring for the child and not killing the child, which is really the defeater for bodily rights and why sophisticated pro-choice philosophers don't argue from bodily rights, they argue from personhood, which is a discussion that Matt flat-out refuses to engage in.

I think you're right about the mathematical argument, and I will keep it in mind for the future. There were a couple of other ways I wish I had gone but it just didn't occur to me in the heat of the debate.

Jacob Simon said...

I definitely understand how difficult debates are; I'm just now starting to get into that realm myself and it is so different from merely presenting a case. In most ways the format is more about the debate skill than the arguments themselves. It's why WLC is so dominant in his debates; he's just so damn good at debating.

I agree with you that the responsibility objection is generally the best response to bodily rights, and I did appreciate how you asked him if he would support legislation banning abortion in all cases except for rape. It's a technique that I use myself. The issue does come that in a debate format, the emotional issue of rape is such a strong rhetorical hill to fight on, and having to use two separate arguments, one to address bodily rights and one to address rape, can be very ineffective. That's why I've found the DFG to be so effective because it can address both in one swing.

The other thing that I think could have been pressed more was the distinction between "removal" and "active killing". He made these out to be very distinct, and I think you pressed him a bit on it a bit (putting the baby out in the blizzard), but I think you could have gone even harder. Initiating the fatal sequence of events is what is important.

Clinton said...

Yeah, that's true. Like you, I'm used to giving presentations, not debating. A friend afterward told me that Matt is used to the cross-examination part because of his show The Atheist Experience, and I did much better when it was just me presenting my argument. So I definitely need to practice the cross-examination.

But you're right about rape. And it's also about safety for women, too. I noticed, as the cross-ex was going on, that he was intentionally using loaded language to make it seem like I was a monster for opposing abortion. I tried to make up for it by drilling him on child support.

Jacob Simon said...

Yeah, I think the "Deadbeat dad" is a great one when they try and give the whole "consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy" argument.

I recently (last few days) saw that there was a new study showing that outlawing abortion does not increase maternal mortality rate, but I haven't had the chance to look at the study closely. Have you seen this?

Clinton said...

No, I haven't seen it, but it doesn't surprise me. If we leave aside the fact that all successful abortions result in the death of a human being, making abortions legal don't make them safer -- advances in medical technology do. If abortion is ever driven underground again, it won't be done in back alleys like pro-choice people assert it will. There will be safe ways to do it illegally. Even back in the late 60's, doctors admitted that it was possible to bring almost any woman safely through pregnancy, and if their life or health was threatened, an abortion would not be likely to extend or save their life.

Clinton said...

Yeah, my opening statement could be seen as a sort of rebuttal. I kind of changed my opening argument strategy on the fly after listening to his opening argument, since the format wasn't really the greatest as far as responding to each other's arguments. I figured since he kept saying things like "personhood is irrelevant" to the abortion issue, I should address some of these statements in my opening argument to justify my making these arguments.

Michelle Ewing said...

You were very defensive right from the beginning. I was hoping that tone would change at the cross fire, but you seemed to be answering his questions and defending your point of view. I think you wasted a lot of time tying to get answers to questions Mat will never answer. Next time answer it yourself ("many pro choice people think this, but they are incorrect because.."). Remember that the person you are debating is not you audience, it is the listeners. you want us to at least consider that the pro life stance may be valid. bring attention to things most pro choicers wont agree with, catch him telling lies, over all point out everything that makes him look bad (you did a great job at this.), but also attack him with the pro life position. when he says debating personhood is boring, tell him you believe him. it really is as boring to debate personhood with a pro choicer as it would be with a plantation owner! Both didn't care about it because the current legal language proved them right. I hope this helped!

Clinton said...

Yeah, I had some people telling me that I was too polite in the debate. lol I don't think I would agree that I was defensive the whole time, at least during my presentations. I was responding to his arguments. Of course I also sounded nervous, so that might have been part of it. Though during the cross-ex I definitely felt like I was on the defensive. I definitely could have brought up the slavery angle. There were a few things I might change, argument-wise, if I had the chance to do it again. Hopefully these things will get better as I gain experience.

Mark Croft said...

I listened with great interest to the debate and, although my views align more with Matt's position, I find his arguments to be somewhat over simplistic and fallacious.
The pro choice tactic is to attempt to dictate the discussion by interjecting an almost absolutist position of 'bodily rights trumps everything else' mantra. In attempting to impose this idea they come up with poor analogies that really don't work such as the violinist analogy which you easily countered and the 'should you be forced to donate a kidney' analogy which is clearly just as ridiculous and easily countered by pointing out the obvious flaw that permanently being forced to give something up at great harm to yourself is simply not analogous to temporarily being forced to restrict your BA when there may or may not be harm to the pregnant woman. Matt tried to counter this by making the argument; "so if there's no harm to the person being forced to donate a kidney then should they be forced to do so?" What a stupid question! Clearly the answer is yes! If there is no harm then there is no REASON (a word Matt is very fond of) not to force somebody to donate a kidney. It's for this very same reason that I would have no compunction in forcing somebody to give blood to save their child's life as long as it caused no, or minimal, harm to the donor.
And this is where I reach the crux of the matter as far as I'm concerned. In society we tend to make decisions based on the level of harm done to individuals, groups or society as a whole. When we legislate against harm we don't just look at one position (bodily rights), we tend to start from a position of vulnerability; who is the most vulnerable in society, why are they vulnerable, what protection is proportionate etc. From this premise we make the assumption that those most capable of understanding the world around them and the consequences of their actions need less protection than those who are less capable of this. This is why more time, effort and money goes to the disabled for example - simply their need is greater. And so the vulnerability of children (and the unborn in certain circumstances) is also greater and therefore requires greater protection. This is not an absolute position and is why I'm for abortion in some situations such as if a woman has been raped. Clearly, in this situation she's been put in an extremely vulnerable position where she's made no decision to have sex that imposes a certain responsibility on her.
I could go on but it's getting late over here in the UK but my final point for the moment is that, like most issues to do with human behaviour, it's a complicated juggling act with lots of nuance involved, and I find both the pro life and pro choice attempts of absolutism ridiculous to say the least. I may have more to say on this later but for now I bid you good evening.

Chris P said...

"Unborn are full human beings from fertilization" is complete and utter nonsense. You do not know at that point whether they will turn into zero or 10 human beings. Even when you get a clump of cells it is still not a human being and you could not probably tell what it was.

LN said...

What a sciencey comment ya got there.

Mark Croft said...

Actually......scratch that. I have both no reservation AND no compunction in forcing a parent to give blood to save a child's life as long as there is no/little harm to the donor.

Clinton said...

Sorry, but your comment is nonsense. Once the primitive streak is present at around 14 days, there is no more chance of an embryo twinning. And from what I understand, not every embryo is capable of twinning, anyway. But whether or not they can twin is irrelevant. Imagine a possible world in which humans, at 16 years old, split into two human beings. Would it then follow that prior to the split there was not one individual human being? After all, if you split a flatworm in half, you get two flatworms. It doesn't follow from this that there was not one, distinct, whole flatworm before the split.

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

This is why you should've debated ignorance_Is_Curable on the matter and not Matt Dilihunty. He will probably be here soon in a bit here.

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

If a women can kill a tape or hookworm she put in her body purposely from eating raw meat and we allow her to kill and remove it, why not the unborn human for the same reason as well? Oh yeah ''stupid prejudice'' is the answer.

Sounder said...

Why can't a woman abandon her newborn to die?

Chris P said...

And you are behaving like a religious dolt. I didn't say anything about 14 days. You clowns said AT FERTILIZATION and you are WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Chris P said...

What else is there?

Clinton said...

Please don't feed the troll.

Clinton said...

I'm just not interested in debating IIC. He's just a troll with rarely anything substantive to say.

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

Is a newborn human inside the women's body? NOPE
But anyways, about the word ''can't,'' she CAN abandon the newborn human to die as there is nothing preventing her from doing so.
There are probably some women in your nation that gave birth as home and killed the newborn and got rid of the body with no one actually knowing about it.

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

He is not a troll in anyway. That man is a aggressive debater and will not hesitate to pull the rug from under your feet and exposed a position very quickly. Your simply not comfortable with it because when you debate, your often to relaxed and stoned out about it. No offense though.
As for him ''rarely having anything substantive to say,'' any one can say that and get away with it. How about I say you have ''rarely have anything substantive to say'' and we can be good about? Sounds fair?

Coyote said...

Frankly, I think that I will need to disagree with you on this.

You might not agree with IIC, but some/many of the things which he says do appear to have merit.

JDC said...

Well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

Clinton said...

Yeah, you should look up the definition of "troll."

Clinton said...

If you're so ignorant of biology that you can't even tell the difference between a tapeworm and a human embryo, there's really no point in talking to you at all.

Clinton said...

That's possible. But it gets lost in his tone, and the fact that he has to dismiss everything as "stupid X." He certainly doesn't give me any reason to take him seriously.

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

I already know the difference from biology you act as if though one deserves special treatment and the other one does not.

I already know they're different species as obviously indicated by my comment when I said unborn humans and tapeworms. Yhe point I made was that difference doesn't matter as they both can be killed for the same reasons.

Don't try to trick me because when looking at the facts about pregnancy and the actions the unborn human does, it is far more worse then what a tapeworm does

So I ask again my friend why can we kill the one organism and not the other who does actions much more worse?

Oh Yeah!, stupid prejudice is the answer.

My master Ignorance already gave the reason at number 27

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

Yes and you fit it quite nicely by rambling on about it.

Clinton said...

Because of his attitude, I have no desire to debate his points. Plus, considering his extreme bias, I doubt anything I say would get through to him, anyway, because from what little I've seen, he either completely misunderstands the argument or completely misses the point. I'd be more than happy to clarify or engage with him if he wasn't such a jerk. I'm not obligated to engage with him for any reason. I don't mind if people disagree with me, especially since it helps strengthen my own arguments. But I only engage with civil people.

Simon Jm said...

I remember from his debate with Kristine where he came out with a school boy like comment that he looked forward to her rationalizations. She was too timid, to tell him go stick his head where the sun don't shine, but I would have. Cheap intimidation comments only impress cheer squad followers.

BTW if all you are going to say that bodily autonomy trumps everything all the time and cannot expand with the underlying arguments it is intellectually vacuous and is a waste of time debating. No better than a PL sating life trumps bodily autonomy so there.

Simon Jm said...

Chris if I look at unicellular organism it doesn't lose its individuality if it then replicates. Same basic principle for some worm species if you cut it in half, with the top half growing a tail and the bottom a head.

Say the worm -call him Greg- was capable of being cut down the middle vertically and each side regrew the missing half. The individual Greg no longer exists but we now have 2 Gregs. I see no reason to negate Greg's earlier individuality just because he became two.

(I would also note sometimes the twins can also re-merge and cause a chimera.)

From what I understand there is no genetic link to genetic twins so one would imagine it is an error in the development process. If there were a genetic component we could then say the genes dictate there is no individual until after 14 days.

In the overwhelming number of cases the process develops one multi-cellular organism.

So wouldn't it then make sense to say like any other unicellular organism the individual existed up until it replicated?

Simon Jm said...

Sorry Clinton didn't read your post.

Simon Jm said...

Look Chris if you cannot act civil why be here? Twining doesn't occur after 14 days so what Clinton is saying is relevant. If you and I as adults were capable of being cut down the middle vertically and regrew the other half would you tell me you didn't exist as an individual for all those years leading up to the split?

Simon Jm said...

I'll put my hand up and say I haven't listened to much of Matt's stuff but from I have seen he lacks substance and is no better than the life automatically trumps bodily autonomy crowd.

I'm neither PL or PC but while leaning to PL in some ways I advocate the rape exception which Matt just blows out his ass on.

I've argued that if PL's are going to force a rape victim to be a Super Good Samaritan then everyone should be forced to do the same.

Simon Jm said...

Not so hard.

Let's say both the tape worm and fetus had full moral value.

In one case the parents created the fetus -in effect putting it in her body- and can be argued to owe it bodily compensation.

Whereas the tape worm is an invasive intruder where the woman didn't consent to the use of her body or create.

In that case she would have clear self defense and bodily autonomy rights.

BTW we could easily modify the Violinist analogy and say I have you kidnapped and attached to me. Should my bodily autonomy rights then give me the right to detach you leading to your death?

Simon Jm said...

The trouble with the de facto guardian argument is the use of the body is higher than just normal care. Plus if a consensual pregnant woman was required to be a Super Good Samaritan letr alone a rape victim we would all be required to do it.

Chris P said...

No, because you don't know whether it will turn into an individual. A large percentage abort.

Clinton said...

He most definitely is a troll. It's not that I'm not comfortable with it, it's that I see no point in it. The reality is he often misunderstands or misrepresents the argument, and is not humble enough either to recognize when he is wrong, or when he is misunderstanding an argument. I'd just rather not discuss with him until his attitude changes, and no one from his fan club can convince me otherwise. I'll have to see it from IIC, him/herself.

Clinton said...

No worries. I didn't respond because not only does he not read my posts carefully, he apparently doesn't even read his own posts carefully.

Simon Jm said...

We might not know the exact time a unicellular organism might replicate would you then say it isn't an individual organism during that time before it replicates?

Chris P said...

What was said was wrong. No amount of word wrestling will make it right.

Simon Jm said...

Chris if you aren't here to discuss things why bother?

& these sort of questions are dealing with relevant points hardly word wrestling you are just being evasive.

If you want say this thing is inherently unstable and the individuality isn't set then sure. But there is no genetic component to twinning,so we have a process that for most of the time is used to assemble the individual but occasionally goes wrong.

& given we known about asexual reproduction where an existing entity can become two and don't question the individuality of the organism your case isn't a slam dunk.

If I had a single robot that started making modular copies of itself to make a multi-modular robot. The programming is clear that it is a singular system right from get go.

If due to an error in the process but not programming happens to create a clone while it is doing it itself starts self assembling, you don't have grounds to say the 1st robot isn't an individual in its own right. All you can say that you don't know in advance that this one system may create a process error to become two.

Chris P said...

I have very clearly made several points to refute what was said. I am happy to discuss other things.

Simon Jm said...

So we have the fact that many abort and some can twin.

Which we have countered or should have countered:

Sure some die but death doesn't invalidate prior individuality. Happens after birth as well are you going to say they aren't individuals?

Next some twin. Ok and I and Clinton responded and you never had anything else to say. Nothing you have said so far addresses the points I have made.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I don't entirely understand the second part of your comment, but to the first part; the degree of care in any DFG analogy - and I've come across some that integrate a very high cost of care involving intimate use of the body - doesn't change the principles of the argument.

Simon Jm said...

1st we need point out no society forces people to be even minimally good Samaritans.

In this context we don't even force a parent to give a 5 minute blood transfusion. It is an supererogatory act -morally praiseworthy- if you do, it but you won't be punished if you don't.

A woman is a blizzard trapped in a cabin with a baby might be commended if she breast feed the baby but we don't have any laws or arguments that say that this is obligatory.

If we don't have arguments that say it is obligatory for minor burdens how can you then tell a woman that she must make a major sacrifice?

Now one can argue with consensual sex the woman brought the kid to the cabin knowing the could be stranded.

My biggest objection to Josh is this argument entails that a rape victim does it as well. But he doesn't also say we all must sacrifice bodily autonomy to save lives and be Super Good Samaritans.

Anything proposed should be universal and not just applied to a subset of society. When Josh advocates we all do it then fine but he doesn't and won't.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Prove that he is a troll.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Because as adults we are viable sentient creatures. Can't say the same for a blastocyst.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Harm is subjective. You can be a victim of rape and suffer zero physical harm. Less harm than pregnancy. Therefor, the rapists use of your body is not a crime if you did not suffer physical harm yes? No violation occurred because you are still healthy and the use of your body was only temporary right?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Except sex does not kidnap sperm and ovum and force them to fuse and then travel down the fallopian tubes to implant on the uterine wall. Sperm, ovum and blastocysts all act independently. If they could be forced to do what we want inside the body, ivf would not exist.

Lieutenant Nun said...


Sounder said...

I think that if the baby in question is the child of the woman trapped at home (or wherever) by a blizzard, then she would rightfully be legally obligated to care for it.

Sounder said...

It's true that adults have difference appearance and abilities than unborn humans do. However that doesn't change the fact that scientifically the life of a new human organism starts at conception. And abortion absolutely kills a member of the human species.

If an unborn human isn't viable yet, that simply means he or she is too young and helpless to get nutrition and oxygen via her digestive system and lungs, and must instead get those things via the umbilical cord.

Can you please explain why you feel that lessens his or her moral significance? And does being helpless mean it is more okay to kill someone? Is it more okay to kill a 1 year old than a 10 year old, because the 1 year old is more dependent? Is the 1 year old less of a person?

Also, viability is a function of current and local medical technology. It's getting earlier as technology advances. Is the age at which a human gains personhood getting earlier because we're developing new technologies? If 10 week fetuses are currently non-persons (which I don't agree with), but we developed artificial wombs to safely care for them, would that make them people?

Also, could you please clarify what you mean by sentience? Consciousness? Self-awareness? Understanding of morality?

Sounder said...

But sperm and ovum aren't capable of making decisions or bearing responsibility. While they may not always act in the way we want them to, that doesn't change the fact that how they act is solely the result of the actions of the people to whose bodies they belong. Sex is intrinsically ordered toward conception and pregnancy; that is it's biological purpose. Sperm and ovum simply follow their biological programming, which is coded for by their DNA, which is our DNA.

Say I jab someone in the arm with a needle laced with HIV, and they become HIV+. Can I place responsibility on the HIV virus particles by saying that they act independently and no one can force them to replicate their genetic material inside the person's cells? No, because they are only capable of following their basic programming; I'm the one who made a conscious decision.

Sounder said...

Obviously I meant "can't" in a legal sense, as in, she is legally prohibited from doing so. And whether the baby is inside the mother's body or not, requiring her to provide care for it is placing limitations on her bodily autonomy.

Lieutenant Nun said...

no mind = no moral significance

incomplete and partially formed, an unborn human under construction = no moral significance

violating another person's body to stay alive = not a right that anyone, or anything, should have.

sentience = the capacity for consciousness, and a pre-viability fetus does not have it.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Yes she would be. but she would not be legally obligated to give it blood or let it reside insider her body in order to sustain it's life

Lieutenant Nun said...

Jabbing someone in the arm with HIV is assault.

Having sex, especially with contraception, is not at all an 'assault' on the sperm or ovum which may or may not combine, or on the blastocyst which may or may not implant.

By your logic, if we were to take it to it's logical conclusion, sex itself is a violent vicious assault on the zygote by 'creating' the conditions under which sperm/ovum may fuse to create said zygote, and then by having the gall to have a uterus which will allow implantation.

Pregnancy is not an attack on an innocent person with the intent to kill them.

I find it interesting, however, that you are comparing a woman's decision to have consensual sex with a vicious criminal act. Very very telling.

Sounder said...

A fetus is not fully developed, but neither is a newborn. We're not finished forming until years after birth. However a fetus is biologically a complete human organism, just as a newborn or toddler is, simply at an earlier point in development.

It's true that an unborn human below a particular age is not conscious, but that is not because she intrinsically lacks the ability to be conscious, she is simply to young to express it. The same principle applies to newborns with self-awareness and rationality. Do we consider newborns to be morally inferior because they haven't had enough time to develop those traits? Of course not. Those traits are a part of their nature, they just aren't old enough to show them.

Think of it like a Polaroid photograph. If you took a picture of a beautiful sunset with a Polaroid camera, but someone took it before it had completely developed and ripped it to pieces, would you be angry? Why, if at the moment it only looked like some brown smudges?

Or imagine you had a person who was in a temporary coma, from which you knew they would wake up. They're physically incapable of being conscious until later, so is it okay to pull the plug on the grounds that they have no current physical ability to be conscious, even though you know they'll be conscious later on?

It's true that everyone has a right to their body, but we as a society recognize that parents have a special obligation to use their bodies to provide nutrition and shelter from harm to their offspring. Do you agree with that?

Lieutenant Nun said...

A newborn is not living inside another persons body.

A newborn is a viable, sentient autonomous individual.

A person in a coma has the capacity for sentience but is temporarily not using it.

A zygote only has the potential to become a sentient creature, and it may never develop that capacity. Potential is not the same as actual. Just because h.sapiens as a species is capable of sentience and thought does not automatically mean that every member of that species also has those traits. Some humans are serial killers. It does not follow that all humans are serial killers just because the potential exists.

Sounder said...

Pardon me, but I think you are playing into the "anti-choicers just hate sex and want to punish women who do it" fallacy by attaching meaning to my words that I did not imply.

I never said that sex is an assault. I said that it isn't reasonable to place responsibility on sperm and ovum for fusing, any more than on a virus for replicating if you have introduced it into someone's body.

Lieutenant Nun said...

It is not a fallacy.

And by your logic, you cannot eject the guinea worm eggs from your body because you chose to put them there by drinking from a dirty puddle and the guinea worm is just doing what it evolved to do.

Sounder said...

Thanks for the reply.

I think you could say that someone who is asleep is just temporarily not using the capacity for consciousness, as they can immediately and easily wake up, but the same is not true of the person in a coma. They do NOT have a current physical ability to be conscious. They have more neurons and a bigger brain than a fetus, but that comes to nothing because their brain is simply not capable of conferring consciousness upon them, due to swelling or damage or whatever the case may be.

And yes, the fetus is inside the woman's body, and a newborn is located outside the mother's body, but why does that change her responsibility to the child as his or her mother? Is it reasonable to say that a woman has sole right to her uterus, but only partial right to her arms and legs and other body parts, simply based on where they're located on her body? Say that a woman is trapped at home by a blizzard with her newborn baby, so they only way to care for it is by breastfeeding. Can she say "my body, my choice" and let the newborn die?

And really a newborn is not any more capable of surviving without help than a fetus.

Also, a couple other quick questions. Do you consider a newborn a person? And do you consider pigs or dogs to be persons?

Sounder said...

With all due respect, I would say that claiming pro-life people are anti-sex, sexually repressed, etc. is an ad hominem because it seeks to attack the person him or herself, rather than critiquing the pro-life position.

Also any variation of "the pro-life position is just about punishing women for having sex, and we shouldn't let them control other people's sex lives" is a strawman because it sets up a weak argument that is completely different than the one pro-lifers are actually arguing, and critiques it instead.

Also, sorry to be argumentitive, but by my logic it would be unreasonable to BLAME the guinea worm for being in my body. That's the point i was making. Additionally, the guinea worm is actually a whole organism, and sperm and egg are not organisms.

In any event though, no, I don't have an obligation to let the guinea worm use by body, any more than I have an obligation to provide food for earthworms in my backyard. However I DO have an obligation to provide basic care for my own offspring.

Sounder said...

She's obligated to provide basic nutrition and shelter from harm. Giving blood doesn't fall into that category. Although our current laws are created in a society where blood transfusions can come from many different people, so its possible that if no one could survive without a transfusion from their parents' our laws would be different and would require such things. Additionally, the dependent condition of the unborn human is a natural state that we all begin life in, the unborn human is usually there because of the actions of the mother (and father) herself, and the uterus itself is biologically designed for us to use when we are the age of an unborn child. Blood transfusions are only needed in the event of some unnatural, terrible accident, and are not the result of the parents' actions. (Although if a woman severely injured her child causing him to lose a dangerous amount of blood, and she were the only one who could donate, I would consider it entirely just to force her to do so.)

In any event, for a fetus or embryo, basic nutrition and shelter means being in the womb. For a newborn when no one else is around to care for it, provision of basic nutrition and shelter means getting breastfed. I don't think that a woman somehow has MORE right to her uterus than to her breasts, arms, or legs, simply because of where those things are situated on her body.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Gestation is not basic food and shelter. It goes far far far beyond minimally decent Samaritan.

Lieutenant Nun said...

The people who enact pro life laws often enact anti sex laws. Anti contraception etc.

You no more have an obligation to harbor a guinea worm than you do to gestate a microscopic blueprint of a zygote.

Both are mindless and have zero moral value and are violating your body if you do not want them there.

Lieutenant Nun said...

A person in a coma has a brain. From that brain arises consciousness. Once they are out of the coma they will be conscious again.

A zygote does not have a brain. It literally does not exist. And pre viability prenates completely lack the structures that give rise to sentience.

A newborn can eat shit metabolizr and process nutrients and wastes on its own. It does not rely on another body to perform life functions for it. Newborns are autonomous. Zygotez are not.

Breastfeeding is minimally decent Samaritan. If the newborn had to use your body like a fetus does you would be within your rights to refuse.

I consider newborns to be people along with some animals.

Simon Jm said...

That actually does then open a can of worms regarding minimally good Samaritan laws.

Do you then punish someone watching a crime who didn't call the police? Require a passerby to give aid to an injured person and punish them if they don't?

What if woman in the cabin is required to breast feed, raising the bar?

Would you then force people to give blood donations?

For rape victims you are asking them to be Super Samaritans, so would you be comfortable forcing everyone to have their bodily autonomy overridden if it could save a life?

What Josh misses is that certain things follow if he forces that on pregnancy consensual or otherwise.

Sounder said...

That's exactly what it is. Yes, it requires a lot on the part of the mother, but it still amounts to provision of nutrition, sustenance, and shelter. If you can't be obligated to give blood, but you can be obligated to breastfeed (both of which could be considered minimally samaritan), then whether it's minimally decent samaritan or hugely decent samaritan doesn't necessarily tell us whether the act should be required.

Fortunately, we have an adoption system and foster care and orphanages, so the mother of a born child can transfer care to someone else, but if that weren't an option the responsibility would remain with her and the biological father, until the child became capable of caring for itself. Caring for the child for that long is much more than just being a minimally decent samaritan, but that doesn't change anything. And we require fathers to pay child support for 18 years, which in many cases is also far more than just being a minimally decent samaritan.

Simon Jm said...

Agreed but then you have the island thought experiment where a woman had sex became pregnant -unbeknown to her- and then goes to an isolated island for years ecology research. She has the baby and then must decide does she let it starve or euthanize it. She didn't consent to it using her body or being a parent. Should she give up serious investment in her life for a life she never intended to care for?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Breastfeeding or simply bottle feeding do not directly use all of your organs and unlike pregnancy they can not maim kill or torture.

Breastfeeding is absolutely nothing compared to pregnancy.

Lieutenant Nun said...

That is a good question. And it would even apply if she was raped - if you are on a desert island with a helpless person, how much do you owe them? What if the helpless person is a quadriplegic criminal? Are some lives worth more than others? If so why? If the criminal never harmed you, you would not have the right to kill him, would you?

Anyways, this is also complicated because pro lifers say that it is acceptable to deny care and let someone die. It is ommission, not commission they say. So, refusing to care for the baby or the criminal should be acceptable no? Since neglect is not direct killing they say, unlike abortion!

Sounder said...

But consciousness doesn't arise from that brain, that's the point. It's damaged or swollen or whatever, ergo the brain in it's current state is entirely incapable of conferring consciousness. That it's bigger and more complex isn't relevant. The only reason that the coma patient can have consciousness at some point in the future is because of its human nature, because its DNA codes for cellular processes that allow the brain to change significantly (in this case, to heal). The structures that give rise to sentience are human DNA molecules.

Also, the development and metabolism of the fetus is self-directed. It obtains nutrients and oxygen from the mother via the placenta, yes, but it's own biological processes are directed by its own genetic makeup. (And by the way, past the one cell stage the term is embryo or fetus, not zygote.)

I'm not going to address body rights and whatnot since we're having that conversation above.

But I would be interested in knowing you thoughts on the photograph analogy. Is it reasonable to say that a photograph of a beautiful sunset or something is not valuable, and to rip it up, simply because it has not had sufficient time to develop all of its inherently contained characteristics?

Do you consider dogs to be persons?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Simon, I enjoy our conversations. We met a few weeks ago. I wasusing a different nym then. Thought experiments and the permutations and possibilities are endless and fun!

Sounder said...

The only current legal disputes regarding contraception are employers who don't wish to be forced to use their money to pay for contraceptives that they believe may prevent implantation of an already conceived embryo, thus killing what is biologically a living human.

I don't know a single person trying to pass anti-sex laws.

We're already discussing personhood and parental obligation above, so again I'm not going to address them here.

Sounder said...

It's important to note though that it is not just some helpless person. It's her child, and we accept that parents have unique obligations to their children that they don't have to other people. So a random stranger on the island with her would not necessarily be entitled to the same care as her own child.

Lieutenant Nun said...

The coma patient can be conscious again because they never lost it in the first place. And if they did lose it, we pull the plug, because the mind is gone.

Pregnancy is a mindless biological process. Full stop.

Gestation is not equivaken to a Polaroid photograph. Everything that is in the genetic blueprint is not simply hidden from view. The code has to be interpetred, read and expressed. And a lot can go wrong along the way. You can't look at the blueprints for a skyscraper and say that the building exists, it just is not visible yet.

I do not consider dogs to be persons, but they should be cared for as you would any human. Sentient creatures are capable of suffering.

Sounder said...

Giving blood also does not use all of your organs or cause any permanent or serious harm. Why can she be obligated to breastfeed but not to give blood?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Special pleading. By that logic, if she is a surrogate, she can neglect it at whim. Or if she washes ashore with a strangers baby, she can also let it die because she is of no relation.

Are you saying now that some lives are more valuable than others based on purely arbitrary reasons?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Giving blood is more dangerous than breastfeeding. In certain cases though, if lacking proper nutrition, breastfeeding would hamper the woman's ability to survive.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Then I am sorry that you have not been paying attention to the GOP.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Oh. Yes. Their beliefs trump actual science, which has demonstrated that birth control prevents ovulation, not implantation. Beliefs should not trump fact.

Simon Jm said...

That doesn't run with how we use moral and casual responsibility. & apart from other real world situations, pls explain how men are made morally responsible for child support?

"But your Honor I didn't force my sperm to fuse and create a blastocyst. Obviously I'm not responsible for this new life. I merely had sex and involuntarily deposited some of my sex cells in this woman. What they do after that is beyond my control."

Sounder said...

The coma patient did lose consciousness. They have no current ability to be conscious, period, because they don't currently have a brain capable of it. All that they have is an inherent capacity to be conscious, due to their human nature and DNA. A pre-conscious fetus likewise has no current ability to be conscious, only an inherent capacity to be conscious at a later point.

Also a zygote is not merely a blueprint; it's a complete organism. It requires various hormones, nutrients, and oxygen to continue its development, but the same is true of a human organism at any age. A zygote is already set on the continuous path of development throughout life.

May I ask, why do you consider newborns to be people, but not dogs? Dogs can learn words and commands, some dogs even know hundreds of words. They can empathize and learn their names and intentionally communicate their needs. Newborns can't do any of that. They can't learn any words, they can't figure out if someone else is suffering or hurt, they can't intentionally communicate, etc. So if the measure of a person is based on the mental abilities they are currently able to express, why does a newborn get to be a person, but not a dog?

Sounder said...

Giving blood poses almost zero risk. If you know the needles are sterile, that the medical staff is trained and competent, and that you have no conditions making it unsafe, giving blood is definitely a minimally decent samaritan thing to do. Minimally decent vs. super decent samaritan is not the only important distinction.

Sounder said...

Being someone's mother or father is not an arbitrary relation. If you know that your neighbor's kids aren't being fed properly, you're not legally required to go over and feed them some vegetables, although obviously any moral person would try to take some sort of action. You are however required to provide proper food to your own kids.

Sounder said...

Well the Plan B home page says that it is possible that Plan B may work by preventing implantation.

Who's trying to pass laws against sex? Whoever it is, is in an extreme minority.

Simon Jm said...

Depends on what environment they are in. Put a adult or baby in the vacuum of space or a desert with no food or water and they are as viable as a blastocyst.

They are all living organisms that need a friendly environment to continue living.

Lieutenant Nun said...

They are living, sentient beings, who are complete and fully formed.

They are not potential people under construction.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Ok then. so the woman in the cabin in the blizzard can let the baby die if it is not related to her? And the surrogate can also abort and kill the newborn because she is not it's biological parent?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Yet we still don't force people to take even the smallest risk to save another. Because that treats people like objects, a mere means to an end.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Coma patient = has brain, temporarily not using capacity for consciousness. Once they awake, they will be conscious again.

Zygote = does not have the capacity for conscious, because BRAIN DOES NOT EXIST, and until brain exists, the capacity for consciousness also does not exist. This is simple, dude.

A zygote is in fact a blueprint. It is a tiny snippet of DNA surrounded by a cytoplasm. It is nothing more than genetic material.

Newborns and dogs can both suffer. Both should be protected and not forced to suffer. I say that a newborn is a person for purely arbitrary reasons - species prejudice. The reality is, it is no more a person than a dog. But, both should be treated with care.

Lieutenant Nun said...

So then the question people forfeit their bodily autonomy when they have sex?

Is sex a contract to give birth and raise a child should sperm and ovum meet? Even if use of contraception is clearly NOT consent?

And as an aside, men are not forced to gestate. Wallet does not = body. Men are not forced to risk life, limb, or even pay for a pregnancy. Men do not get fired *as women do* for pregnancy. Men will not have to pay a 20k hospital bill should the birth go wrong. That's all on the woman should she choose to spread her legs.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Oh, by that logic, if you injure someone in a car accident, shouldn't you be forced to donate your blood/tissue/organs or temporary use of your body to keep them alive should you injure them? Why should your insurance, of if lacking that, your bank account pay for their recovery? What if they die because the car accident that you caused (even if driving safely) resulted in a flesh wound, which caused them to develop a terrible infection which destroyed their kidneys? Should you not be required to give your kidney in that case?

Simon Jm said...

A babies infants and even adolescents aren't 'complete or truly fully formed either.

This sort of thinking would mean 'humans' that cannot reproduce or where the brain is fully developed -21 yrs -isn't a Homo Sapiens. Or strictly speaking a person for many infants or babies.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Nope. Once they are autonomous(birth) they are essentially complete and fully formed - they just gotta grow bigger.

A zygote is not a homunculus. The argument could be made that a viable fetus/newborn is closer to a homunculus, but that a genetic blueprint (and pre-viability fetus), which may *never* become sentient or an autonomous individual , is merely a human under construction.

Simon Jm said...

Great thread guys. Wish we actually had a forum instead of this ghastly blog format.

For me and-sorry if Im repeating- a fetus could be argued to have full moral worth. If you use personhood then its hard to then ground babies and most infants.

So consensual sex could create a being with full moral value and duty of care obligations.

Ok we don't traditionally consider the use of the body as compensation but I also wonder if asked to bite the bullet if the woman in the Violinist analogy caused the violinist to be attached to her could she then claim bodily autonomy rights to detach leading to his death?

Simon Jm said...

Same here nice to discuss it without the usual heat.

Lieutenant Nun said...

We don't force people to jump out of airplanes to save a life even though your risk of dying from sky diving is lower than from pregnancy.

And we also don't force people to give blood or bone marrow to their sick children, even if those risks are low.

And if you can't drive your kid to the doctor you can call the ambulance.

Simon Jm said...

Bodily compensation is raised in David Boonin's toxic waste analogy. In principle yes we can owe bodily compensation if you are morally responsible for an existential dependency.

Trouble is our society doesn't have much precedent in that area so it is neglected.

Well hard to see a situation where you weren't negligent and still cause the accident but I would just then refer to other cases where you acted safely but harm came about. I'm not sure but I don't think compensation is owed in those cases so wouldn't apply here either

Lieutenant Nun said...

Because it is * complete* for a specific stage of development does not mean that it is complete in the fullest sense. Until the ai comes online it is just a collection of parts that are following a predertimined program.

Until the code has run, you can't say that you have a workable code. Just a code under construction.

Sounder said...

...With all due respect, those are pretty loaded ways of making arguments, and not in all cases an entirely accurate depiction of pro-life arguments. Pro lifers believe that all human beings have intrinsic value regardless or age, size, level of dependency, etc, and that all human beings have a right to life. Seriously, "Women ask for it when they have sex" makes PLers sound like the jerks who say things like "rape victims were asking for it by wearing short skirts." Again, to me it sounds an awful lot like you're trying to imply the "pro-lifers just want to punish women for having sex" idea, even if you're not saying it outright. When women have sex they knowingly undertake an action that by its very nature can produce a human being who is dependent on them for nutrients and shelter.

If you came across a machine that said "baby making machine" and you could press a button in exchange for a pleasurable experience, but with a 1/100 chance of a baby coming out of the machine, and you do so, and a baby comes out, can you then just walk away and let the baby die? Of course not. If you try to take preventative actions to reduce the odds to 1/1000, but a baby still comes out, then can you let the baby die? Again, no. Requiring a woman in that scenario to make sure the baby is cared for isn't tantamount to saying "women ask for it when they push baby machine buttons," or "button pusher shaming" or whatever you would call it. And requiring a woman not to have her unborn child killed isn't slut-shaming.

Lieutenant Nun said...

And if the woman has created a dependency that requires bodily compensation, then shouldn't the father also be on the hook? What if the fetus requires the fathers bodily tissues mid pregnancy? How about after? What if both parents carry a defective gene and create a sick child? Do they owe it bodily parts after birth? Are they guilty of child abuse for creating a situation where a baby will be born and suffer/ die?

Lieutenant Nun said...

So there are many many factors to consider. It is not so simple: p

Keep that in mind.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Women ask for it = the responsibility objection. And pro lifers ONLY apply this to pregnancy. They do not apply forced bodily compensation under any other circumstances. Not even to fathers, who are equally responsible for the dependency.

And no, you do not believe that all life is sacred, which is why, as mentioned above, forced bodily compensation is conveniently applied only to pregnancy and only to women.

I am familiar with the baby making machine because it is a horrible analogy. It begs the question about the person hood of the fetus, and compares the violation of a woman's body in pregnancy to a machine that can create babies without affecting anyone's bodily autonomy. And the babies that are created by this non feeling non sentient incapable of suffering machine can be given to a shelter.

Sounder said...

Yes, you can call an ambulance, but for the sake of the comparison assume that's not the case. The parent still wouldn't be able to just let the child die.

And as I said, there are multiple factors entering into whether or not one can be obligated to help someone else, not just whether that help is minimally samaritan or super samaritan, or the risks involved. I believe you said that a woman would not be allowed to let her newborn die instead of breastfeeding it, but that's being a minimally decent samaritan. Continuing to care for the child if for whatever reason an adoption can't be arranged, or paying child support for 18 years, are not minimally decent, they're super decent. But I certainly don't think a woman could let her child die just because she couldn't arrange to transfer care, and we require payment of child support all the time.

As far as jumping out of planes...If the person in question pushed out their own kid, or if they created a clone in such a way that the clone would necessarily fall out, and they were the only one with a parachute who could go save the falling person, you better believe I'd push them right out of the plane.

Sounder said...

Like I said, provision of basic nutrition and shelter to one's own children is a major one. And parents have that obligation regardless of whether it requires a minimally decent samaritan or super decent samaritan effort on their part.

Simon Jm said...

This isn't car house or robot existing a independent parts during construction.

The Blastocyst is a compete system and is online once the sex cells have finished integration.

The code/dna is complete then starts as a self assembling system,even if it is building itself with some assistance.

The program and bootstrap system is complete and starts- I imagine- at the moment of complete integration.

It is a SELF assembling system and the self aspect designates it is a complete individual system.

Look at it this way. Ask an engineer -who had the technology- to design and build a self assembling car from a modular single bootstrap module.

The design necessitates that it has a singular rudimentary start configuration that will replicate to build itself further.

He comes back to you and shows you a shoebox sized machine and says here is your self assembling car.

You say to him but that doesn't look anything like a car and her will roll his eyes.

It is what the design spec's say its is a modular self assembling car. Just because the bootup stage looks nothing like a car says nothing about its design and purpose.

Simon Jm said...

need a beak bk soon

Lieutenant Nun said...

Christian scientists have let their kids die by withholding care. God will heal, no need for a doctor. In the past, these people have been allowed to walk free after neglecting their sick kids through prayer.

However, parents have refused to donate body tissues to save their kids and the court has sided with the parents on bodily autonomy issues.

Lieutenant Nun said...

I see what you are saying and I like the way you put it. But until it can actually function as a car it is still only a potential car. If it was not under construction you would be able to jump into it and drive away from the get go.

Sounder said...

"She's asking for it" implies that she secretly wanted it or something, which obviously isn't the case.

Fathers are physically incapable of bodily compensation for the first 9 months, so of source we don't require that. After that point, either parent can care for the child (unless it's a situation where breastfeeding is necessary), and I would say that the mother and father are equally responsible.

And yes, the babies from the machine can be given to a shelter, but the woman is required to facilitate this, using her body. And any of the already mentioned scenarios where a woman can't immediately transfer care to another party apply here.

Also I would say that the entire bodily autonomy argument begs the question about personhood, period. The bodily autonomy argument amounts to "even if it is a person, the woman can have an abortion because the unborn person has no right to her body." If the unborn human isn't a person, why even waste time discussing bodily autonomy?

Lieutenant Nun said...

Fathers are not physically incapable. Technology exists to extract tissue from the dad and give to fetus. And both patents can be forced to donate tissue after birth.

Woman might be required to drop baby off at shelter. So might dad. Or they can phone social services.

Bodily autonomy is an issue because we do not commodify people's bodies and use them as a mere means to an end - not for other people, and least of all for mindless animal organisms.

Sounder said...

Anyone, Christian or otherwise, who lets their kids die by not taking them to a doctor ought to be in prison.

And yes, parents have refused to donate body tissue, and it's true that courts of upheld that right. You're correct. However there are important differences. Donating a kidney is not merely a provision of basic nutrition and shelter from harm, donating a kidney cannot be easily foreseen as a consequence of having sex, pregnancy is temporary whereas donating a kidney is permanent, the need for the kidney was not created by parent, and the uterus, unlike all other body parts, is made for use by the child. Everything else is of the mother, for the mother, but the womb is of the mother, for the unborn human. We all start life in need of one, and it is biologically designed by nature for our use.

Lieutenant Nun said...

No they do not. Parents cannot be forced to risk life and limb to feed their kids. If a child is sick, and can only eat by being hooked up to dad's stomach, dad would be within his rights to deny his child the use of his body.

Simon Jm said...

That's why you call it a self assembling car. If it were simple machine yes it isn't a car until you build it. Same thing with other complex machines that need build or change their configuration.

Think of the Autobots. A.I. humanoid robot than can configure themselves as humanoid or cars. They are what they are autobots. Part of their configuration is ALWAYS latent but that doesn't mean they aren't autobots.

Or an amphibious car that needs to change its configuration to operate in water. The water capacity is -in this case- latent but it would be nonsensical to say it isn't an amphibious car while its driving because it isn't operating in water.

Conceptually any self assembling machine is what it is, even if its other signifier is still latent.

Sounder said...

To what technology are you referring, that allows fathers to donate tissue before birth? I've never heard of that, sorry.

But yes, to an extent we do use people's bodies as a means to an end, I'm sorry but you can't just make a sweeping statement that we don't. Even requiring the mother to pick up the phone and call social services is an infringement on her bodily autonomy, however small. Requiring a woman to breastfeed her baby if no one else can care for it is also, as is requiring a father to feed and shelter the baby if he can't yet give it to someone else.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Temporary use of your body is still use of your body. Pregnancy also permanently changes a woman's body, and can kill maim and disable. It is far safer to give a little blood or part of a liver or even bone marrow. And a sick child is a foreseeable consequence of having sex. Technology exists to force fathers to donate. If it is for a life that they caused to be dependent through their actions they should be as responsible as the woman.

And no, biology is not destiny. The uterus belongs to the woman, as do all of her organs (which the prenate uses) and only she gets to decide what can use her body.

Chris P said...

Why do I have to address something that isn't relevant to my point.

Sounder said...

In that case, the child's degree of dependency is due to illness, not simply due to the natural condition they have at a particular age due to being brought into existence. If the scenario were somehow the natural, consequential, and foreseeable result of the dad's having had sex, I would say he would be obligated.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Prenates can be operated on whilst in the womb. No reason not to force dad to donate if he is a match.

And no, we do not force people to risk life, health, or use their organs without their consent to save another. Even if that donation is temporary.

I replied. Pure prejudice. Also, all infants develop at different rates. Birth is a good dividing line. And toddlers are capable of more thought than people give them credit for, they just can't always express it right away. But a newborn can learn to suck a teat from the get go. And a newborn is not living inside someone, so this is moot as far as abortion is concerned. If every baby was delivered by stork, abortion would not exist because there would be no need for it.

Simon Jm said...

I'm off to bed so a quick reply.

In principle the father also owes compensation and if in some way was required to give blood etc then yes he would be required to give it.

Disease is a bit tricky. In most cases it is the disease that causes the dependency. That is why when Boonin raises a surgeon saving mans life but then requiring his kidney he isn't responsible because the disease caused the original condition.

But if the parents know before hand they have a condition that would cause their child to need blood marrow donations in the future then I would say yes they owe it.

Lieutenant Nun said...

If you create it, you are responsible and have put it in harms way through your actions. By placing it in a situation whereby it can become Ill you are responsible for any harm it may suffer as a result of your ejaculaton. Thus, you owe it bodily compensation should the need arise

Lieutenant Nun said...

I really need to read boonin. Sounds like he is a smart man.

Lieutenant Nun said...

If the amphibious car is not using its amphibious capacity it still has it. But until it is built in and actually exists, it only has the potential for that capacity.

Sounder said...

Sorry but what technology exists to force a man to donate prior to the birth of the baby? I was under the impression that's what you were saying, but maybe I misinterpreted.

The point is that a ruling on whether parents can be forced to donate kidneys or something does not equate to the same ruling being sensible for pregnancy. Yes, pregnancy can be risky, but the maternal mortality rate is, in the West at least, very low, no pro-lifer that I know of expects a woman to continue a pregnancy if it is likely to cause her death, (though all efforts to save the baby too, if possible, should be taken) and very few abortions are actually procured because of health risks to the mother, much less fatal ones.

(Also, Roe vs. Wade actually refused to recognize unrestricted bodily autonomy as a basis for legal abortion. "In fact, it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici that one has an unlimited right to do with one's body as one pleases bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously articulated in the Court's decisions. The Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past." They also said "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus's right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment."

Also, why do we have a right to our bodies? (I agree we do, but why do you think so?)

Sounder said...

If having your stomach connected to the child's can't be foreseen as a consequence of sex, no implicit consent to do so was ever given. Though even if that technology wasn't foreseen and did develop after birth, I'm not convinced that the father wouldn't have an obligation not to provide food to the child.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Yes, pregnancy can be risky, but the maternal mortality rate is, in the
West at least, very low, no pro-lifer that I know of expects a woman to
continue a pregnancy if it is likely to cause her death

And yet 800 women still die from pregnancy per year in the USA. Over a million more are permanently injured. Unless you are the person faced with the risks it is NOT your place to decide for another how much risk they can take on. Keep telling me that it's safe to go hang gliding, and I won't do it, even to save a life, because the risk is too great for ME.

Furthermore, if the pain and physical injuries that result from labour and birth were induced by other means they would be considered to be torture under article V of the UN Declaration of Human rights. Passing a watermelon sized object out of a tiny hole that can rip and tear = torture. So is taking a knife to your abdomen in the case of a c-section. All things we do NOT force on people to save a life. We do not torture people - even if it's natural' to preserve life.

very few abortions are actually procured because of health risks to the mother, much less fatal ones.

They are procured because only the pregnant person gets to decide what can live inside her body and what cannot. And even if the woman does not fear death, it does not mean those risks simply do not exist if she is not afraid of it.

The RvW recognized a woman's right to privacy and to make her own medical decisions.

We have a right to our bodies because we are not objects to be used by others - not for pleasure, and not to save lives. People are not appliances to be used as a mere means to an end.

Lieutenant Nun said...

Special pleading, again. Implicit consent = immaterial. You created it, you're on the hook. Period. If technology exists to hold you responsible, you better be held responsible REGARDLESS of 'nature' or 'location' of the unborn or born human that you created through your actions.

Sounder said...

Dad's organs wouldn't fit inside the baby, so that's not really an option. Even if it were, we're just getting into the same differences between donating a kidney or something and pregnancy, discussed elsewhere on the thread.

We do require parents to risk their health to a degree, just having to drive a baby to the doctor, so sweeping statements that we don't, don't apply. (Again, if an ambulance couldn't come they would still have to do this.) And yes, we do sometimes require people to use their bodies, internal organs or otherwise, to care for others, particularly for their children. Sometimes that's for a brief time in a minimal way, and sometimes it's for a long time in a definitely not minimal way. I said something about health risks on another comment, so in the interest of not junking up the thread more than necessary I'll leave that alone in this reply.

Okay, so you're saying that the only reason the newborn is a person, and not the dog, is prejudice? Does that mean that you, from an unbiased perspective, actually do think dogs are people, or that you think newborns are not people?

Also, look at the differences between them. A dog is not self-aware or rational because of what it is, whereas the newborn is not self-aware or rational because of how old she is. But those things are in her nature, which is why she will have those abilities later on. Like the coma patient cannot express those traits due to injury, she cannot express those traits due to age.

Consider the Polaroid photo analogy again. Say on one hand you have a partially developed picture of the grass. When it's developed, it will be nice enough, but not that huge of a deal. That's the dog. Or a puppy, I guess. On the other hand, you have a partially developed picture of a glorious and beautiful sunset. That's the newborn. (In a slightly less developed state it would be a fetus.) Both of these pictures look fairly similar at this point, rather brown and smudgy.

But wouldn't you agree that there is an obvious and essential difference between them? Which would you rather I throw away?

Sounder said...

Implicit consent is not immaterial, though it's not the only thing. It is one thing that makes the mother who asked another baby over for a play date with her own child, responsible for the other baby if there's a blizzard. She didn't intentionally, openly agree to care for the other baby for an extended period or feed it, but she did invite it over and thus took on responsibility.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Wow, some great stuff here. I'm really enjoying reading this very civil discussion. Anything I might have added, Sounder has pretty much said what I would have said in reply, so I don't really have to much to add. I will say one thing, though; if it's a choice between breast-feeding and being pregnant, I will take being pregnant! Obviously that wouldn't be the case for everyone.

Sounder said...

Back to the driving a sick child to the clinic analogy, there is risk inherent in that. Small risk, but risk. If it is absolutely up to no one else to tell an individual how much risk they can take on to care for their child, we couldn't even require parents to drive the child to the clinic. So I think that clearly that's not that case. On the other hand, I wouldn't require a parent to run into a burning house to save his or her child, because that is severely life threatening.

And yes, some women die of pregnancy related causes, but seeing as how abortion is basically legal on demand, those were almost certainly not women who actually desired an abortion, were told that they had to take on the risk, and died as a result. And again, as I said, no one is saying that a woman should continue a pregnancy when her life is at risk (I mean really at risk, not "well I'm pregnant and I MIGHT develop a problem in the future months"), so those 800 cases are cases where pregnancy termination would be allowed, though it should be done in the most humane way possible and the baby should be saved too if possible. Most pregnancies are not life threatening, and the vast majority of abortions are not even done for health reasons. At most, we're addressing a small percentage and the vast majority of elective procedures don't fall into this category.

My point mentioning Roe vs Wade is that it does NOT say bodily autonomy justifies abortion. It did however say that if the suggestion of personhood of the unborn human is established, the case for abortion rights collapses.

Also, sorry to be so contrary, but people ARE used as a means to an end, any time a parent's bodily autonomy is compromised in any fashion, not matter how small. That's just how it is.

And like I said, if you pushed your own kid out of the plane, or created a clone knowing that it would fall out, and you were the only one with a parachute to go save them, I wouldn't hesitate to shove you out. Sorry.

Also, on a lighter note, thanks for being willing to discuss this issue thus far. It's good to have rational discussion about such an important topic.

Sounder said...

Haha, that's interesting. I've never experienced either, does breastfeeding make one's breasts hurt? (I imagine once the baby starts getting teeth it's not so fun!)

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I wasn't going to add anything further, but on reading the above, I've changed my mind, because there are a couple of points that are worth addressing:
A newborn born from about 34 weeks onwards has a sucking reflex. Therefore a foetus at 37 weeks would also have this sucking reflex (but lacks the appropriate stimulus). So it's not really a point of difference between the two.

The big problem with birth being seen as a good dividing line, because there is no philosophical difference, and often very little physiological difference, between the human inside and outside the uterus at the same age. If you're willing to acknowledge that, then you either have to find a new dividing line with a non-arbitrary reason for its position, or you have to rest your entire argument upon bodily autonomy (which some people are content to do).

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Some women have no problems. Some women love it. And I envy them. For me, breastfeeding involves pain (both whilst feeding and in the intervals between) and is very time consuming. Sometimes even perfect technique will only get you so far (just in case anyone was about in suggest that I must be doing incorrectly).

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I'm very interested in maternal mortality and the problems that can lead to it in our Western world. May I ask where your figures come from, and if there is any further information available (e.g. cause of death, manner of injury, etc.)?

Simon Jm said...

No. If we look at the definition the capacity needs to be present and active. In the example I'm using say the cars wheels need to be retracted and wheel space sealed. What this says is that the capacity is Latent adj. present or potential but not evident or active. Wheel retraction to function meets this definition.

Yes you can have a design where the car can drive straight into the water the structure is sealed and ready to go. But if the configuration needs major modification and - not like a simple turning of a driving mechanism- the capacity is is LATENT.

Same with the autobots changing into cars, the cars configurations is active and by definition is latent.

Therefore this version of complex machine where there is major -and not superficial - structural change if we can still call it amphibious car plane whatever; this circumstance definitionally applies to a self assembler as well. All the system is doing is changing its configuration by additional rather than by reconfiguration.

I'm just using the definitions as stated.

If you use it your way the above example isn't a amphibious car and a self assembling anything becomes a nonsensical term.

Lieutenant Nun said...

You are saying that the woman consented simply because she has a uterus. And you won't apply this same standard to men, even though they are equally responsible, because 'biology is destiny' when it comes to women.

Naturalistic fallacy with a dose of special pleading for the fetus and discrimination against women because they happen to be fertile.

Simon Jm said...

It is for the above reasons.

For most cases -because it isn't a genetic fault- it is an organism that through a processing error causes a type of functional asexual reproduction. So saying well we don't know if it will be one or two isn't the case might be true, but it doesn't follow that there wasn't an original organism that didn't just replicate itself by error.

Given the non genetic aspect of twining all we can say we don't know if this individual will twin through an error in processing.

Because the process normally creates one individual it should be thought as such. If on the other hand twiining was at a much higher % and twins from twins developed we could say what you are saying.

& if you think about it this is exactly a process where you only want one individual to come about. If the process wasn't set up to produce one individual then you could have multiple twinings from each new twin lading to an explosion of twins.

Simon Jm said...
Start here.

Sounder said...

The woman has a uterus and the man doesn't, so she is the only one who can provide nutrition and shelter for the 1st 9 months. That's just how it is. It's not discrimination, it's biology. The question of a man being required to donate tissue while the young human is still in the womb is no different than the question of either parent donating tissue while the baby is outside of the womb, which again we discussed elsewhere on the thread, and I explained why I don't feel being required to donate a kidney or something is totally comparable to pregnancy.

Sounder said...

It's probably not worth going around in circles on this, but a coma patient is not simply not using their ability to be conscious, they currently do not have an ability to be conscious, period. There are changes in the brain when a person is in a coma, and important differences between the brain of someone in a coma and someone who is conscious and aware. If someone is asleep, they could be said to simply not be using their ability to be conscious, but that's not true of a coma patient. They can't gain the ability to be conscious unless significant changes occur. That their brain is bigger with more neurons comes to nothing if it can't confer consciousness; it's just grey matter. The important thing is that they retain a human nature that gives them the intrinsic ability to, well, gain an ability in the future. Same deal for the fetus.

Also I would argue that a zygote does have an inherent capacity for consciousness, rationality, etc. because it is human and has human DNA. It is not simply a blueprint, or a snippet of DNA in cytoplasm. It's a full human organism, any embryology textbook will tell you as much. The only thing separating a zygote, embryo, or fetus from you or me is time.

(Also, I know pro-choicers are sometimes annoyed when pro-lifers focus on late term babies all the time when the majority of abortions happen earlier, but by the same token it doesn't really do to act as though everything being aborted is a single cell, when often there are fingers and toes and faces. Not that the zygote doesn't have full moral worth, but still.)

I agree that neither newborns nor dogs should be made to suffer.

I made a comment about why I believe they are different and why the newborn is a person and the dog isn't, up above. I didn't see this comment before, so I'll ad an edit. I'd be interested in what you think.

Clinton said...

In other words, no, you're not qualified to argue the pro-life position.

Ignorance_Is_not_Curable said...

''Whereas the tape worm is an invasive intruder where the woman didn't consent to the use of her body or create.''

NO, the tape worm is not an invasive intruder because she had knowledge before hand what would happen if she ate raw meat and a tapeworm would be there so she did put it there. It doesn't matter in the slightest if it was created or not. She put both in her body and if she can go to the doctor and have one killed and removed then logically it is the same thing with the other organism as well. Plus she can kill the human organism based on what it does inside her womb anyway. IIC already gave the details on his site. #27

Simon Jm said...

If one took a Janist POV regarding the tape worm I suppose you would be right.

BTW I actually understand your point about the fetus being an innocent offender. I argue that as well. A woman who drugged a guy at a bar for a laugh, but he has a bad reaction and is about to rape her. She is within her rights -in some states- to use lethal force in self defense. Nonetheless she would then be charged with some type of manslaughter.

Likewise i would in principle grant abortion rights for consensual sex but I would still punish her for non payment of bodily compensation leading to death.

I also grant the rape exception.

Simon Jm said...

Yes it was pointed out to me we dont have legal precedent. So what I would do would be put it on the books but not force payment. It is an option to avoid a custodial sentence.

Plus unless there is a contract if one volunteers and then pulls out that could be seen as morally blameworthy but not worth legal punishment.

Clinton said...

You may disagree with my terminology, but I consider anyone whose goal is not to add to the intellectual discussion a troll. He is not here to honest engage my arguments, he is here to insult and dismiss pro-life arguments without giving them serious consideration. And I am quite confident in this statement because I have seen numerous comments he has left (and I didn't feel obligated to respond to) in which he completely misunderstood the argument.

CS said...

Plan B, some forms of the Pill, and IUDs ALL have preventive capacities after implantation. Please make sure your own science knowledge is up to date.

CS said...

So, a well-known debater like Dillahunty spends much of a debate completely ignoring a huge chunk of the questions he is being asked to consider during the debate?

Suddenly, the reason behind certain comically-inflated facebook drama becomes MUCH clearer....

Clinton said...

I generally don't talk about something unless the pro-choice person does. If a pro-choice person wants to challenge me on personhood regarding artificial intelligence, they're welcome to bring it up and we can dialogue about it. But since Matt never brought it up there was no reason to talk about it. It would just bog the debate down, never mind the fact that Matt just didn't want to talk at all about personhood.

I do believe there is a difference between "human" and "person." I also believe that all humans are persons, even though not all persons are humans. If someone fits the qualification of a human, that is, an entity with the inherent capacity as rational agents, then I would consider them persons. That goes for supernatural entities, if they exist (e.g. God and angels), extraterrestrials, or fantasy characters. While I'm a huge fan of science fiction, in the real world I do not think that robots should be considered persons because I do not believe that artificial entities would ever be able to attain sentience, regardless of what we see in science fiction.

Clinton's FanBoy said...

Hello Clinton.

You haven't said anything about human made biological life. Do you think sometime in the future if it did become possible they could attain personhood? Have you saw mewtwo from the first pokemon movie or dragon ball z when cell and baby were created? This is a branch of personhood rarely talked about. The most popular one seems to be extraterrestrial life and then artificial intelligence. The abortion debate should be up to the point where both sides should be offering criteria for personhood and argue why there set should be accepted and why the opponents should not. I can see this happening if you were to debate IIC on it. A debate between him and you would be very very interesting. But yeah we're in 2014 and that is something a pro choicer has to do instead of the old lame ''my body my choice'' mantra going about and most pro lifer's with the old lame person=human equation they been throwing around as well. That's MOST pro lifer's while you don't do not do that.

The crowd should also to have knowledge on the topic because it seems like most that ask questions never bring this up which is a disappointment in usual abortion debate as human-ness is focused on WAY to much by the average pro lifers who don't know the difference between the two and when pro choicers try to make a distinction between ''person'' and ''human'' the pro lifer would think they're dehumanizing the unborn while a experience pro lifer would know the difference. Even if Clinton let's assume the unborn are NOT human so what? The question of rather or not they should be considered persons can be answered since you know about the other branches of personhood talked about as well.

Also I looked up about ''rational agents'' and this is what I got.

The action a rational agent takes depends on:

the preferences of the agent

the agent's information of its environment, which may come from past experiences

the actions, duties and obligations available to the agent

the estimated or actual benefits and the chances of success of the actions.
This is or what? If this is true, then the unborn human can only potentially get the brainpower for it while as it is sitting in the womb has none of this.

Clinton's FanBoy said...

So if it was found out the mind was actually separate from the brain Clinton and I got dementia so to escape death, they would put me in a empty robot. So I would be a non person in your view and forfeit my rights?
Let's assume the mind transferring is as advanced as shown in Avatar (James Cameron)

Clinton said...

How did you get that from my argument?

Clinton said...

I have not seen the Pokemon movie you're talking about. I tend to prefer to keep my arguments grounded in reality as much as I can, so fictional characters like Mewtwo, I have no idea if they would be persons or not but since a being like that would likely never exist, I don't find myself obligated to find a definition of personhood that would fit this being. Extraterrestrial life and artificial intelligences are at least within the realm of possibility, hence why they are discussed..

I would be open to debating IIC, if he would be open to debating, though I'm not sure how fruitful it would be.

That being said, I have a definition of personhood, and I have given, and defended, that definition here on this site.

I would recommended reading those articles. While the unborn do not currently possess the abilities we commonly think of as exhibited by persons, they have this capacity at the inherent level, which is what grounds their personhood. Not their present abilities. Pro-choice people tend to confuse *acting as* a person with *being* a person.

Simon Jm said...

I look at it this way. Any time action X causes another full moral being to be existentially dependent on your body you owe them bodily compensation. If you don't pay you are treated in a similar way when other compensation isn't paid. Note again I'm not forcing payment. Also in regards to me sure they can only do the financial compensation but I would then ask this.

If you did that X with another party and you knew that other party would be the only one able to pay bodily compensation; but would likely not pay it leading to death. I would say you are an accessory and would end up with a custodial sentence if the compensation isn't paid.