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Your views on abortion

Discussion in 'Debate Forum' started by Shiny hunter Reece, Dec 14, 2009.

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  1. Super Nerd 7997

    Super Nerd 7997 Crazy Plant Guy

    Comments in bold.
     
  2. Tim the turtle

    Tim the turtle Happy Mudkip

    Announcing my triumphant return to the debate forum... for about 5 minutes. So I'm slacking off a bit from my self imposed "no internet forums" rule, sue me.

    I don't really understand why whether or not the foetus is a human being is being made the issue here. I agree with TFP's argument that the two sex cells joined as one are a human. I just don't care. What matters to me is whether or not they form a person.

    Killing a human is not really a big issue (or it is, but not in this debate), we kill humans, legally and perhaps morally justifiably all the time. We do it in self-defense, we do it in combat scenarios in wars, and most importantly for this argument we do it to those criminals who we have judged no longer fit for life.
    The interesting thing about that last one is that we tend to judge those people on what we perceive as their humanity; not their actual genetic, scientific humanity, but more on their perceived humanistic qualities. This is what I refer to when I make a distinction between human and person. A human is any being which possesses the necessary genetic traits; a person is any being which possesses the necessary empathetic traits. We tend to confuse these terms a bit too much, we talk of horrible murderers as being "inhuman" but we do not mean it genetically, we mean that they do not display the necessary empathetic behavioural traits that we associate with other people. It is interesting to note that many pro-lifers are completely in favour of the death penalty, even in this debate. (I know Ethan is, for example)

    Now then, this being the case, it seems that those who are not people, can legally and morally justifiably be killed in certain circumstances. If a criminal can lose his or her status as a person by violating the rights of others and thus by violating the rules of personhood, why is it immoral to kill a foetus, which has not engaged in any of the rules for personhood at all and which, through harm caused to the mother, is actually violating those rules?

    You might say that a foetus has not had a chance to engage with those rules. That a foetus might yet become a person. This is true, but irrelevant. A criminal may yet reform and re-become a person and re-engage with those rules, become anew a member of the moral community, so thus it is unfair to assume that future actions (which are only vague possibilities) should have any relevance in one's personhood.

    You might also argue that whilst a criminal has consciously violated the rules of personhood, a foetus has not done so. It has not engaged with them, but it has not violated them. Unfortunately I do not agree with this. A foetus can, as has been demonstrated in this thread, cause a great deal of discomfort and suffering to the mother which carries it, this is, whilst not a conscious act, a violation of those rules of personhood. Those foetuses which have caused a great deal of suffering for the mother (namely those resulting from rape, or those with the severe possibility of injuring the mother) are those which we can justifiably abort. You must remember here that I am not attempting to compare the crimes of a criminal with the effects of pregnancy. I am simply attempting to show that criminals and foetuses are similar in the respect that they are not persons and thus not members of the moral community. Criminals are not because they have crossed some line into animalism by breaking the law, foetuses are not because they have no way of entering into the moral community, in a sense, they do not deserve moral status (Please don't quote that out of context, I am not saying that foetuses deserve to die, merely that they do not deserve entry into the community of persons. This is not their fault, but I feel it is true nontheless.

    One obvious counter argument, which certainly must be dealt with, is the argument from marginal cases. The argument that there are other human beings, besides criminals and foetusses which do not conform to the laws of personhood, or at least, not in the way one might expect. The most obvious examples are people in a persistent vegetative state, those who have done no wrong in violating laws, but who cannot properly engage with those laws either. Personally, being a proponent of euthanasia, I find the most obvious answer simply to say that people in that condition can be killed in a morally justifiable way.

    However other marginal cases are less easy to deal with. One might argue that very young children have done nothing to deserve entry into the moral community. This is true, and is the unfortunate consequence of my line of thinking. Personally, I do not think that very young children can be considered as persons, however this does not in any way justify infanticide!!! Abortion is justified (in this view) because it prevents harm to a person and does not harm a person. Killing an infant, in the unbelievably vast majority of cases, will not. I struggle to even think of an example, even a rediculously farfetched hypothetical, where infanticide would demonstrably prevent harm to a person. I cannot come up with anything (I do not accept financial drain as significant harm, I do not accept it for abortions either so I'm not being a hypocrite). Hence infanticide can never be justified.

    I actually had a longer post planned out but this thread is moving very quickly tonight so I'll post this for now, attempt to answer any rebuttals and then expand later.
     
  3. GhostAnime

    GhostAnime Searching for her...

    When I bring up the law, it is not to simply prove a right or wrong basis, it is simply to have the burden of proof placed on those who have a problem with what the law states. In the Dred Scott case, I would argue that blacks weren't property and were human. Your point?

    If you want a personal justification, I've pretty much said it a thousand times. Woman's body, nobody can prove the humanness of a fetus, blah blah. My personal idea of a human is really irrelevant.

    Yes, what if? Let's see somebody prove that it is instead of talking about what ifs.

    I wouldn't be against abortion 'to be on the safe side' because I know what is definitely life considered under the law that we respect and that is the woman in question.

    You're right. It isn't.

    Want to know something else interesting? Fertilized eggs get aborted naturally probably every day. The horror..

    I'm not really interested in a philosophical debate on what defines 'when life starts' for the human. Some people prefer to go by genetics/DNA. Some people prefer to go by conscious (this is my personal preference), and some people prefer to just say everything is alive and that 'life' and 'human' are just irrelevant terms.

    He said it was scientific. Look at his post..
     
  4. ShinySandshrew

    ShinySandshrew †God Follower†

    Tim, I will say this nicely but your reasoning for saying that a fetus (and a murderer, for that matter) is not a person, is just semantics and rationalization.

    I have provide some links to definitions of the word "person." See below.

    Wiktionary.org

    Merriam-Webster.com

    Dictionary.com

    Wikipedia (Read first few sentences)



    And let me comment on what you said about a fetus causing a mother "suffering." I will agree that things like morning sickness and are could be called suffering but these things are not nearly as bad rape, theft murder or the like. Such criminal acts have lasting physical effects and even pyschological, but does morning sickness or any normal negative side effect of pregnancy have any lasting effect on the mother? I think not.

    And as a last note on parasitism, let me add this. Why do female humans develop mammilary glands during puberty?
     
  5. GhostAnime

    GhostAnime Searching for her...

    It's always funny to see little teenage boys on the Internet say pregnancy isn't a big deal.

    1) If she's still in school, it's most certainly a bid deal. It's harder to work and concentrate.

    2) This includes a job as well. She could lose it if she can't get pregnancy leave thus faltering her career.. which is what a baby usually does.

    3) Bills, bills, bills.

    It isn't that simple.

    The centralizing point of any pro-choice person that brings this up is that it PERFORMS and ACTS like a parasite.

    Also, just like FireBreather, none of the 'person' definitions you've listed include a fetus whatsoever (or implies that it must includes fetus). The definition is too vague to just throw out and say it's a fetus.
     
  6. Ethan

    Ethan Banned

    If it's only your goal to point out the fact that it performs in a similar way to a parasite (but is not actually a parasite) than why bring it up in the first place? Fully developed and born babies still have characteristics of a parasite as do teenagers, but obviously they aren't "parasites" either. Pointing out similarities without any real conclusion to draw is pointless. The fetus either is or isn't a parasite. The only reason this parasite nonsense came up in the first place was to portray the fetus as less than human.
     
  7. Super Nerd 7997

    Super Nerd 7997 Crazy Plant Guy

    Edit: ^ The teenager comment is so true...

    I had typed out a reply last night, but the forum decided it didn't want to work. Either way, here's the gist of what I was going to say:

    While I agree with your stance on the Dred Scott case, it was not overturned because someone somehow provided proof that slaves were not property; it was overturned because it was deemed a moral wrong to call a human property (of course, there was a war and everything too, but you get the point). So, therefore, according to your own position, they did not fulfill this imaginary "burden of proof" that you demand must be shifted off of yourself and onto those that disagree. Granted, it is a good idea for those opposed to provide an argument (proof is a trickier thing because the definition of person is, as of right now, a moving target in this thread), but that does not in any way excuse you from arguing your point.

    However, if you really believe that proving your point isn't necessary where the law agrees, do a little research before claiming you need not apply. The law is in fact contradictory; if the woman wants the child and you kill it, you can be charged for homocide:
    http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=1041085
    So explain this to me, if the child is not a person, why is it murder when you kill it?

    Your fourth paragraph makes little sense if I'm reading it correctly. No one is arguing over whether the woman is considered a life under the law. The question is whether or not the child is, because, if so, abortion is murder regardless of whether it involves the woman's body.

    And yes, natural abortions do happen, but that's no reason to institutionalize it. People die of old age, but that's not a reason to legalize doctor assisted suicides for the elderly.

    If you don't want a philosophical debate on when life starts, with all due respect, you're in the wrong thread.

    Also, it's really quite a bad assumption to make that all abortions are had by women because they can't afford a child, were raped, their life is at risk, and/or are still in school. I've heard stories of well off married women getting them because they wanted a girl, and the baby's a boy.
     
  8. Tim the turtle

    Tim the turtle Happy Mudkip

    A few dictionary quotations does not make up for hundreds of years of philosophising. Person, in true philosophical form, is not just some synonym for human, it has deeply metaphysical and metaphorical connotations. It has different meanings in other contexts, the dictionary definitions you have given are hilariously rudimentary.

    Since I am talking about the moral aspect of this debate, and since morality is at heart a philosophical concept, then it seems reasonable that we should use philosophical definitions of personhood.

    Thus:
    From: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Philosophy/What_is_a_Person

    From: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-personal/#ProPerIde

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Implications_of_the_person.2Fnon-person_debate

    These should suffice for now.

    EDIT:
    I clearly said that I was not in any way attempting to say that foetusses cause as much suffering as criminals and are as bad, I merely gave examples of two human lifeforms that are not necessarily persons.

    This is true, but then most normal pregnancies don't and shouldn't result in an abortion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  9. Ethan

    Ethan Banned

    So essentially, you typed up a very long winded way of saying you're not for abortion unless it endangers the life or poses a threat to the mother? ("Violating personhood")
     
  10. Tim the turtle

    Tim the turtle Happy Mudkip

    Perhaps I was a bit ambiguous in that last sentence which you quoted. When I said normal pregnancies shouldn't be aborted, I was referring to normal pregnancies in the sense that they are wanted pregnancies. I guess I just misunderstood what SS was saying when he used the term normal, because in most abnormal pregnancies there is an extra layer of suffering to be dealt with, thus his claim that normal pregnancies do not cause much suffering is true but irrelevant.

    Also the main reason I posted was because I think that everyone arguing over the genetic humanity of the foetus is barking up the complete wrong tree and I wanted to say why I think that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  11. Ethan

    Ethan Banned

    Oh, I didn't mean to degrade your post in any sense of the word, just asking for clarification.
     
  12. Tim the turtle

    Tim the turtle Happy Mudkip

    Actually I realised where my error was, it was more to do with the defenition of normal pregnancies than anything else. My above post has been edited to give further clarification.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  13. GhostAnime

    GhostAnime Searching for her...

    Yup.

    First, how was it deemed a moral wrong? Through what premise? Was it based on the defense not providing an answer, or was it based on something the prosecution said?

    Second, didn't I answer the questions anyway? Lol

    And this is exactly what I'm asking for. Points from the prosecution.

    Anyway to answer your question.. that's not really federal. Can't really say I agree with it. The law just doesn't make sense.

    Doesn't mean abortion should be illegal though. What's your point?

    No one arguing it, but no one is also considering it. I mentioned it because we KNOW definitely what's life, and that is the woman. I'll take a definite life over a massively vague and debated one.

    I actually have no problem with assisted suicides but that's another issue.

    It's not an argument for institutionalization, but it certainly detracts the value of 'life' for me at least from conception to a few weeks. If you value life that early, then stopping birth control would be a bigger step than abortion, wouldn't it?

    I am arguing that a philosophical debate about it is mostly irrelevant. I'm not literally nagging.

    I'm sure the stories exist, but statistics show that it is usually related to finance and the ability to simply take care of the child. Abortion is no easy process (more life risking than actually giving birth) and something as small as that is most likely exaggerated.
     
  14. TheFightingPikachu

    TheFightingPikachu Smashing!

    Human Persons

    ...Seriously? I've heard of people refer to personal beings that aren't humans. For example, biblical Christianity (my own spiritual belief system) contains such nonhuman persons as angels and God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost). Additionally, some science fiction often contains nonhuman persons like Martians or Klingons. But...a nonperson human?

    I'm tempted to just ridicule this idea because it is just that far off, but that never does any good. I think most here can see your position's depth of irrationality. You really need to rethink your view. But since this is a debate, I should help you rethink your view:

    Your view has numerous fundamental problems, the first of which is mostly pragmatic. Do you realize the effect your stance would have on the laws of most civilized countries? I suspect that, like the U.S., the U.K. probably holds trials even for people who are already known to have committed murder. The law of the U.S. holds that these are persons. If they were not recognized as persons, then there is no reason to give them a trial.

    Second, your statements are essentially societally based. If a human being existed in a corner of the universe that happened not to have any other persons, this human being (though isolated from other persons) would still be a human person. Period.

    It is certainly true that some humans behave in an inhuman manner and that some persons behave in an un-personable manner, but they don't stop being humans or persons. We do not determine humanness or personhood merely by behavior. Neither is personhood determined by mental states. Either of these classifications are wholly inaccurate, causing horrible societal problems. Toward the end of your post, you even seem to have realized the problem with your view on some level. So, for example, if a person becomes mentally incapacitated, your view absolutely necessitates that he is no longer a person, or at the very least, that he becomes less of a person. (More on that later.)

    Because you specifically state the idea that people can lose personhood, your view is faced with a very bad problem: Namely, what about those who are unconscious for a period of time? You mentioned persistent vegetative states, but what about coma patients? People can be in a coma for years, days, or even hours without being in a persistent vegetative state. By your view, because these beings are not consciously and rationally interacting with others, they become nonpersons.

    The basic problem is that your view is time-based. It requires that to be considered a person, you must be a person at any given time. This idea is logically and philosophically bankrupt. Apply the same logic to life and you will see why. Living things, according to numerous good definitions of life, must be able to reproduce. But a host of living things have not yet reproduced. Yet scientists know that (for example) a young elephant or a young human is still a living thing. Further, there are people who remain single their whole lives and never reproduce. Also, some human couples are incapable of bearing children. If they must reproduce to be considered living, this challenges their claim to be alive. Even more so, since a being must be alive to be a person, this challenges the rights of singles and other...nonreproductoids...to even be called persons. To have NO rights as a person under the law just because I haven't participated in producing a child would be horrifying.

    Your view also doesn't mention the degree to which people are rationally or empathetic. Persons are empathetic or rational to varying degrees. This logically necessitates varying degrees of personhood. So for example, people who are mentally challenged are less persons. While attempting to reason through this post, I've been struggling with a headache; perhaps that makes me less of a person. Some noncriminal humans are just not very empathetic, which in your view makes them less persons. When people drink wine, beer, vodka, etc., they temporarily lose some degree of personhood. Those people who have used marijuana, meth, etc, have permanently lost some personhood. Anyway, with some persons being less persons than others, the idea of all people beings equal is hardly defensible. That is, unless you wish to say that some people are more equal than others. Tim, though this reference is a bit mixed, if you ruled the world we could all just party like it's 1984.

    That would have been a great finale, but I also have to give the positive case. Since you agree that unborn children are living humans, I can use the same philosophical and logical definition of life to prove it. Like I mentioned before, one of the definitive characteristics of a living thing is the ability to reproduce. But in no way are monkeys, pigs, seahorses, eagles, or humans that have not or will not reproduced (for whatever reason) nonliving. Because of this general capability, they are alive. In the same way, living humans are persons because they have the capability for rational and empathetic function to varying degrees. That is all that is necessary to prove that living unborn humans are indeed persons.

    Now I want you to go reconsider your position. Don't complain. Your view was both logically indefensible and morally reprehensible. Change your position.
     
  15. Tim the turtle

    Tim the turtle Happy Mudkip

    This is an irrelevant statement, Just because my views are at odds with those of many nations does not make them wrong.

    If they are known to have committed the crime then any trial held is simply due process, it is not useful in any way. The point of a trial is to determine whether or not someone is guilty. Since legal systems (should) operate on the assumption that people are innocent until proven guilty everyone who needs a trial would recieve one. So yes, if they were known to have committed a crime then there would be no reason to have a trial, their guilt is, by defenition, proven already.

    Yes, yes it is society based. Hence why I included comparisons with the death penalty. We already live in a society which removes the priveledge of personhood on a case by case basis. That's an interesting point about the lone human though. Though since I place more value upon mental states than social person states I'd say that they are still people. My earlier post did focus more on personality as viewed by society I'll admit but I'm more concerned about mental states.

    No, they don't stop being humans. They do however stop being persons.

    I reitterate:
    True, depending on the levels of mental incapacitation.

    Also true.

    The ability to produce offspring is not a necessary condition of life, it is merely a sufficient one. A mule may never produce offspring, indeed no mules can produce offspring, and indeed you yourself do admit that some humans cannot produce children through defects in their biology. In these cases "time", as you put it, has got nothing to do with anything. A mule cannot reproduce when it is newborn, cannot reproduce when it is middle-aged, cannot reproduce when it is old. And yet you would clearly say the mule is alive for the whole duration of its existence. Thus the definition of something being alive as being "something that can produce offspring" is either wrong or the mule is dead when it is a newborn. To put it simply, if the definition of life that you are using really is as simple as: "A being is alive if and only if it has the ability to reproduce" (which is what your example is clearly working on) then by definition the mule, the baby elephant and the child would not be alive. Since this seems not to be the case then that definition is wrong.

    This is simply wrong. If a full person is someone with advanced mental states (usually higher order thoughts) then once you've reached that stage you can't really ascend higher, that's because higher order thoughts are necessary, but also sufficient, for personhood. A person is any being with advanced mental states at any given time. So no, my view does not logically necessitate some sliding scale of persons. It posits persons and non-persons, this varying by degrees is something you have wrongly assumed.

    Now I know what you're thinking. "But Tim, you don't think that advanced mental states are sufficient for personhood because you also have to obey the social laws of personhood that you mentioned in your last post." Ok, I'll come clean. I don't think criminals and the like are non-persons, I myself am decidedly against the death penalty for this very reason. I used the example of the death sentence in my post because a) I was attempting to show a scenario where society itself tends to view people as "monsters" or "animals" and thus not people. b) I wanted to try it out as an argument because it's an argument I came accross but never gave too much thought. c) I do find it odd that many pro-life supporters are also pro-death sentence. I wanted to see what replies I would get in that vien. But ok, you found me out. I don't believe everything I put in my post. I do still stick to my original point however. I do not think that foetusses are persons.

    Some do not have the capability for empathetic function. What of a human who is born into a persistent vegetative state with severely limited brain function? No where is there any capability for rational thought or empathy. The fact that he or she is genetically human means nothing, you can't appeal to the fact that other members of his or her species have those traits, there's no basis for that. If a boy is born with only one arm do we count his as having two arms because other human beings do? If someone is born without, or loses the ability to have, higher order thoughts (a necessary condition for personhood, and no that's not just my definition. Many philosophers work with such a definition) do we say they are people simply because other human beings are?

    According to your definition of life, any animal that lacks the ability to ever reproduce, is technically not living. Just thought I'd point that out one last time.

    EDIT: Misread some of your post, sorry. It was, like, 3am when I wrote this and I was tired as hell. All mistakes have been edited out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  16. ShinySandshrew

    ShinySandshrew †God Follower†

    Really, GhostAnime?...Really?

    You're right! I apologize. I read that you said that but forgot it. Once again, I apologize.


    You know, GA, there are a lot of problems with that statement.

    1) You're 20, I'm 19. Not enough of a difference to justify calling me a little boy.
    2) Reading fail. I never said pregnancy wasn't a big deal, I said that the side effects don't usually have lasting effects like mental trauma.


    I'm not terribly offended by what you said, though. I forgive you.

    I know that pregnancy is big deal. Definitely. But considering the fact that an adult (18+) can't have sex with a minor (-18) becuase the minor cannot legally give consent, can you give me a good reason why two minors should be legally allowed to have sex in the first place?

    And what about financial assitance?




    Ethan already dealt with this quite nicely so I will leave it be.


    GA: "What did you say? I'm sorry, I had a little too much bias in my ear." That's what you just did. You ignored what I cited because it didn't fit your viewpoint.

    I really shouldn't have to do this but I will actually quote the sources I cited.

    Wiktionary: "1. A human being; an individual." There are more but they are more case specific like grammar and law.

    Merriam-Webster: "1 : human, individual —sometimes used in combination especially by those who prefer to avoid man in compounds applicable to both sexes."

    Dictionary.com: "1. a human being, whether man, woman, or child: The table seats four persons." Now I think everything on this page before #5 apply here, but some might disagree.

    Wikipedia: "A person is any individual human being...." There is more about the philosophical debate about what a person is, but I won't debate that...yet.

    Now are those vague, GA?
     
  17. GhostAnime

    GhostAnime Searching for her...

    Because you aren't going to stop them? It happens, and it's going to continue happening no matter how much you preach and groan. Same thing for abortion.

    You mentioned this before. Where's it going to come from? How much will it cover up to?

    Yes those definitions are still vague. Where the **** is fetus mentioned?

    Where's my bias? Point it out. Don't make me re-read them. They don't tell me anything new. A person is an individual, a human being, a child, etc.

    But where does it say fetus?
     
  18. ShinySandshrew

    ShinySandshrew †God Follower†

    "You can't stop it, so why should we worry about it?" That's what you just said there.

    But that's not what I asked. I asked "why should they be allowed?" Your reply has nothing to do with whether it is legally ok.

    If an adult cannot have sex with a minor (and a teenager is a minor) because the minor cannot legally give consent, why should it be legal to allow two minors to have sex when neither of them can legally give consent? Teenagers are not adults. Why should they be allowed to have sex and thereby heightening the chances of a baby that the mother is not able to deal with?


    The Government? Charities? WIC is one such program that gives aid to pregnant mothers. There's also CCDBG that gives aid to help take care of your kids.

    You are totally ignoring the fact that a fetus is a young human. To say that a fetus is not makes as much sense as to say that an unborn whale is not a whale. Can you point me to any facts (not arguments) that show a fetus is not human even though it is of the species homo sapiens sapiens, has approx. 3 billion base pairs in its genome, etc?
     
  19. GhostAnime

    GhostAnime Searching for her...

    I think it is legally okay if it is done responsibly.

    Logically the law doesn't make sense but hey, what can you do? I'll tell you what you can do: educate them. Sex education has great success, and any attempt at preaching and making anything 'illegal' is pointless and thus almost irrelevant in solving the real issues. You got my opinion already.

    Usually it's still not enough. I don't know what they exactly judge as 'needy', but there are too many pregnant teens to have that amount of money cover ALL of them. I would theorize that the money mostly goes to women who are absolutely at rock bottom; and that's still not a convincing reason to just abort and avoid being dependent on the government in the first place.
    So all it takes to be a human is to have the DNA? Every single cell in our body has human DNA and can be cloned to make equally another human. Definition isn't consistent.

    Also, you seemed to overlook a couple of things...


    I like how you left out most of this tidbit. Even when reading your definitions, I get examples like:


    It's pretty clear what kind of human being they're referring to with this.

    It seems like only one or two definitions out of the ones relevant to the argument agree with you, while philosophy and law (guess what we're discussing? LAW!) agree with me.

    Definitions are poor, vague arguments that should be ignored by sources like dictionaries as I said.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  20. TheFightingPikachu

    TheFightingPikachu Smashing!

    External Constraints

    You hide behind "the law agrees with us" and then accuse us of being lazy? (What would you say if someone hid behind "homosexuality is illegal" in a homosexuality debate?) I'm sorry, but that part of your post failed big time.

    I meant to respond to this sooner.
    (1) I just joined this debate recently.
    (2) I took my friend BlitzBlast's advice and checked on the arguments of both sides.
    (3) I saw a VM conversation between another friend and Vaporeon4evr.
    (4) It is sometimes necessary to bring back an old quote to show that an argument has been successfully countered.
    That explains why ShinySandshrew and I used quotes from Vaporeon4evr.

    But to respond to your first point, yes, you apparently do mind when people quote something once, otherwise you wouldn't have called it "overused" when ShinySandshrew quoted him (once). Then when you responded to me, you just made excuses. How 'bout you acknowledge you weren't paying enough attention, and pay more attention in the future?

    Precisely. All cells are alive. Hence you cannot ever state that a human zygote is nonliving, that life hasn't begun. Pay more attention to your biology class and to what you say, because you just admitted that what I said was scientific.

    Wow. I actually suspected that you mightn't fully believe what you were saying. So, you're playing devil's advocate without telling anyone? That's just awesome. What's even funnier is how badly you're failing at it! Take a look:

    (1) You put yourself and your faulty understanding of philosophy above most nations legal systems and their understanding of philosophy:
    Ha! I knew you'd take the bait! Who is more likely to be wrong--some reasonably educated guy on the internet, or the vast majority of educated legal scholars from most nations in the world? This situation is made even worse for you by the fact that you admit to dissenting from the views expressed by your own nation's policies.

    (2)You acted like my statements about life's defining characteristics was just made up:
    The definition of life that I am using is not that simple, nor is it that precise. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia's article on life says:
    "A precise definition of life is difficult, but, in a rough sense, an organism is considered alive if both metabolism and reproduction are active."

    Also, Wold Book Encyclopedia states (in its article on life):
    "Most people have little difficulty distinguishing living things from nonliving things. For example, they easily recognize that a butterfly, a horse, and a tree are alive but a bicycle, a house, and a stone are not. People call such things living if it is capable of certain activities, such as growth and reproduction."

    From these partial definitions we see one thing very clearly: Reproduction is most definitely central to life. Don't act like it's not--you owe it to yourself to stop spouting nonsense.

    Anyway, in no way do these definitions keep mules or sterile humans from being rightly classified as alive. Reproduction is a normal quality of living things. If some organism hasn't reproduced yet, or will never be able to reproduce naturally (because of whatever factors may cause sterility), they still qualify as alive! Reproduction is still a good normative characteristic of living things.

    You also failed big time at biology again:
    If some external constraint(s) keep a person from being born with two arms, that can never change the fact that humans are two armed creatures. That person didn't have a second arm, but only because of whatever external constraint(s). If external constraints caused a human to be born with eight eyes, that would never be able to change the fact that humans are not considered eight-eyed creatures. (But that wouldn't keep the odd eight-eyed human from being a human.)

    The biggest thing that you seem to forget, Tim, is that precisely how do you expect unborn humans, inside their mother, to interact with society?

    The only reason you don't count them as persons is because of external constraints. In the same way that sterile animals are still alive (despite reproduction being central to life), human beings who don't display the rational and empathic qualities (because of external constraints) are still persons.
     
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