• Michael
    10.4k
    Have any other examples?Harry Hindu

    A sperm isn't a person, but a child is.

    And after you give those examples, provide the traits that they share that qualifies them as a person.Harry Hindu

    Again, see Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations re. what is a game. If you're looking for some set of necessary and sufficient conditions for something to qualify as a person then you're approaching the issue the wrong way. That's just not how things work in many cases. There are extremes where it's easy to say what is or isn't a person (a healthy adult is, a sperm isn't) and where it's easy to say what is or isn't a game (chess is, clouds aren't), but then there are cases where there's no clear answer (and by this I don't just mean that we don't know which it is, but that there isn't a definite fact of the matter).

    Does "healthy adult" include other species other than humans?Harry Hindu

    Possibly, if they're intelligent enough. I would think some advanced extra-terrestrial life would quality as persons. But dogs probably aren't (even if they're more intelligent and more self-aware than a newborn human).

    A healthy fetus in the third trimester has lungs. Is there anything else?Harry Hindu

    There are thousands of differences between an ovum and an adult human. I'm not going to list them all, and I don't understand the purpose of doing so.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Again, see Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations re. what is a game. If you're looking for some set of necessary and sufficient conditions for something to qualify as a person then you're approaching the issue the wrong way. That's just not how things work in many cases. There are extremes where it's easy to say what is or isn't a person (a healthy adult is, a sperm isn't) and where it's easy to say what is or isn't a game (chess is, clouds aren't), but then there are cases where there's no clear answer (and by this I don't just mean that we don't know which it is, but that there isn't a definite fact of the matter).Michael
    Yet, those cases where it seems to be difficult to say one way or another are rare compared to the all the cases where it is easy to say. Depending on how we define "person" vs. "non-person" the transition between the two can be very brief or very long. What we are trying to do is narrow that window of transition. By doing this and then by giving the benefit of the doubt to the fetus during this transition, we only end up adding a small amount of time to when it is not okay to abort a life.

    A healthy fetus in the third trimester has lungs. Is there anything else?
    — Harry Hindu

    There are thousands of differences between an ovum and an adult human. I'm not going to list them all, and I don't understand the purpose of doing so.
    Michael
    But I wasn't talking about an ovum. I was talking about a fetus in the third trimester.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Does "healthy adult" include other species other than humans?
    — Harry Hindu

    Possibly, if they're intelligent enough. I would think some advanced extra-terrestrial life would quality as persons. But dogs probably aren't (even if they're more intelligent and more self-aware than a newborn baby).
    Michael
    Then intelligence is another defining factor?

    We put people in jail for animal abuse. It's okay to abuse a pig on a farm, but not a dog? Pigs are actually more intelligent than dogs. What about dolphins or apes?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    but then there are cases where there's no clear answer (and by this I don't just mean that we don't know which it is, but that there isn't a definite fact of the matter).Michael
    Yet you're saying that there is a clear-cut case between what is discernable vs. indiscernible.
  • Michael
    10.4k
    Depending on how we define "person" vs. "non-person" the transition between the two can be very brief or very long. What we are trying to do is narrow that window of transition. By doing this and then by giving the benefit of the doubt to the fetus during this transition, we only end up adding a small amount of time to when it is not okay to abort a life.Harry Hindu

    What's the connection between our definition of "person" and whether or not abortion is OK? I didn't realise that how we use words is the measure of morality,

    Then intelligence is another defining factor?Harry Hindu

    Yes.

    We put people in jail for animal abuse. It's okay to abuse a pig on a farm, but not a dog? Pigs are actually more intelligent than dogs. What about dolphins or apes?Harry Hindu

    I don't understand what these questions have to do with anything.

    Yet you're saying that there is a clear-cut case between what is discernable vs. indiscernible.Harry Hindu

    I don't know what you mean here either. All I've said is that there is a very clear difference between a fertilised egg and a healthy adult.
  • frank
    10.9k
    the preemie baby outside the womb still requires care to survive, how is that any different than the care they receive inside the womb?Harry Hindu

    Are you arguing that abortion is always wrong?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    What's the connection between our definition of "person" and whether or not abortion is OK? I didn't realise that how we use words is the measure of morality,Michael
    So when does abortion become murder if not by the way we define "person"?

    I don't know what you mean here either. All I've said is that there is a very clear difference between a fertilised egg and a healthy adult.Michael
    Then I don't understand why you brought Wittgenstein into this discussion.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Are you arguing that abortion is always wrong?frank
    Nope. Go back and read my first post in this thread.
  • Michael
    10.4k
    So when does abortion become murder if not by the way we define "person"?Harry Hindu

    "Murder" is a legal term, so it "becomes" murder if the law declares it to be murder.

    Then I don't understand why you brought Wittgenstein into this discussion.Harry Hindu

    Because you seem to think that there is some set of necessary and sufficient conditions that qualify a thing as a person, but as Wittgenstein argued, this is a mistake. Instead, we just use the word "person" to refer to things that fit within a (vague) family resemblance, and that there are some things that clearly fit the use and some things that clearly don't, and then other things that sit within a grey area.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    It seems to me that maybe the issue is using the distinction between "person" and "non-person" is the issue. What if we were to point to "capable of suffering" vs "not capable of suffering" as the distinction?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    "Murder" is a legal term, so it comes murder if the law declares it to be murder.Michael
    Would it be better if I used the term, "kill"?

    Because you seem to think that there is some set of necessary and sufficient conditions that qualify a thing as a person, but as Wittgenstein argued, this is a mistake. Instead, we just use the word "person" to refer to things that fit within a (vague) family resemblance, and that there are some things that clearly fit the use and some things that clearly don't, and then other things that sit within a grey area.Michael
    And you seem to think that Witt is a prophet of some sort whose words are infallible. You don't seem to have a problem discerning what Witt said vs. what Witt did not say.
  • frank
    10.9k
    What if we were to point to "capable of suffering" vs "not capable of suffering" as the distinction?Harry Hindu

    That will also be a quagmire.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    You won't know until you try.
  • frank
    10.9k
    You won't know until you try.Harry Hindu

    You'd have to define "suffering."

    Does suffering require a sense of self? If it's just the firing of nociceptors, then earth worms can suffer.
  • Michael
    10.4k
    What if we were to point to "capable of suffering" vs "not capable of suffering" as the distinction?Harry Hindu

    Even then it's a matter of degree. An adult with congenital insensitivity to pain, a foetus at 24 weeks old, and cockroaches aren't capable of suffering in the same way that I am. At what "strength" does it become an ethical concern?

    Would it be better if I used the term, "kill"?

    There's no point where it "becomes" killing. As I've said before, there is no point where something that wasn't alive "becomes" alive; it's all a matter of degree. Like personhood, life isn't some binary state that something either has or doesn't have.

    And you seem to think that Witt is a prophet of some sort whose words are infallible.Harry Hindu

    No I don't. I just think he happens to be right. Personhood, life, being a game -- none of these are some intrinsic property that things either have or don't have. The world is a chaotic place, and to help us navigate it we start using words like "person", "life", and "game". But such use isn't dictated by some strict formal system of logic; it's often imprecise and inconsistent. That's just the reality of language.
  • Relativist
    1.7k
    I'm trying to make it easy by starting off with traits that we know make a thing a person. In talking about extremes, you are admitting that there are easily discernable traits that make one a person vs. not a person. If not, then the use of the term, "extremes", is meaningless.Harry Hindu
    No set of traits can draw sharp boundaries that fit all analyses. E.g. if humans have 46 chromosomes, then men with XYY syndrome don't fit; evolutionary history: there's no sharp boundaries in species' emergence.

    That said, for most cases of criminal law, it's not problematic- there's no confusion or disagreement, no sorties fallacy. But there IS disagreement in terms of fetal development, and the problem isn't solvable by creating a definition. But that is exactly what anti-abortion advocates try to do. It's not fair for me to insist they drop their religion-based belief that a zygote is a human being with a soul, but neither should they force their view on others - particularly on those who may suffer. We should all accept there's disagreement that is honest and sincere in terms of identifying some point in fetal development as a dividing line.

    quote="Harry Hindu;694655"]Asserting that there is no objective means of defining a person opens the door for anyone to define it how they want, and then use their own definitions to then kill and enslave others that they do not define as a "person".[/quote]
    That door is always open, unfortunately, and the risks aren't eliminated by pointing the evil-doers at a lexicon.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    A sperm isn't a person, but a child is.Michael

    We could consider flushing a load of wriggling sperm cells through the toilet an act of ethnic cleansing...
  • Relativist
    1.7k
    We could consider flushing a load of wriggling sperm cells through the toilet an act of ethnic cleansing..Hillary
    Yes, and sex is genocide, even if one of the little wrigglers is lucky enough to survive.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Yes, and sex is genocide, even if one of the little wrigglers is lucky enough to survive.Relativist

    :lol:

    Darwin still had a lot to learn.
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    Facile anthropomorphism. Now Jains (re: ahimsa + fasting), at least, are 'consistent'. :mask:
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    ahimsa180 Proof

    Thanks for the helpful reminder! I owe you one, 180 Proof.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Going by the way the two sides of the abortion debate have decided to call themselves, pro-choice and pro-life, I'd say the anti-abortion brigade wins hands down. It's life (damn it!) vs. (mere) choice. Is choice more important than life? A silly question, oui?
  • 180 Proof
    8.4k
    Is choice more important than life?Agent Smith
    Life without choice may survive (i.e. slavery). Life with choice however thrives (i.e. agency). And choice without life is 'life insurance' (i.e. policy). Not "more important", but choice makes living significant. :death: :flower:
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Life without choice may survive (i.e. slavery). Life with choice however thrives (i.e. agency). And choice without life is 'life insurance' (i.e. policy). Not "more important" but choice makes living significant. :death:180 Proof

    Life sans choice is pointless!

    Choice sans life is nonsense!

    We're screwed, thoroughly I might add.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    Pro-choicers please kindly inform pro-lifers that choice is so important to God's vision of humanity that he permits the most horrific atrocities to be committed (re free will & the problem of evil)!
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    You'd have to define "suffering."

    Does suffering require a sense of self? If it's just the firing of nociceptors, then earth worms can suffer.
    frank
    Sure, I think suffering is the awareness of your own pain. I think there are animals, like earth worms, that don't possess that awareness. Their behaviors of running from the source of pain is instinctual. There is no "what it is like" for an earth worm, at least not in the way there is for a human. It's not just having a brain, but having a particular type of brain.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Pro-choicers please kindly inform pro-lifers that choice is so important to God's vision of humanity that he permits the most horrific atrocities to be committed (re free will & the problem of evil)!Agent Smith
    Being pro-life isn't necessarily religious. Maybe it's more of a pro-personhood, in that one can respect the rights of another person. The question is, what makes one a person that deserves these rights? And we don't even have to bring a government into this. God and government are irrelevant here. What type of rights do you, as an individual, recognize that other persons have? At what point do you, as an individual, recognize that a thing either deserves those rights and doesn't deserve those rights? At what point in your own development would you want others to recognize those rights for you?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    Even then it's a matter of degree. An adult with congenital insensitivity to pain, a foetus at 24 weeks old, and cockroaches aren't capable of suffering in the same way that I am. At what "strength" does it become an ethical concern?Michael
    Physical pain isn't the only type of suffering. I would imagine that the adult with congenital insensitivity to pain would still suffer from mental anguish of realizing that they could seriously injure themselves and not even know it.

    24 week old fetuses and cockroaches don't have a concept of time, much less even a realist concept of an external world (object permanence), so they couldn't experience the mental anguish of some event in the future causing them harm. They would only exist in the present. I would also argue that a 24 week fetus's brain is much different than an adult cockroach. I think that the reactions of cockroaches to injury are instinctive in that there is no conscious awareness of this pain. So the question is at what point does a particular brain create a sensory-feedback loop of self-awareness.

    There's no point where it "becomes" killing. As I've said before, there is no point where something that wasn't alive "becomes" alive; it's all a matter of degree. Like personhood, life isn't some binary state that something either has or doesn't have.Michael
    Then there are no extremes. You described both extremes as one being a person and one not being a person. If that isn't binary, then what is it?

    Again, we can narrow down the transitionary period between not-person and person to the point where the time in between the two binary states is short enough to not make much of a difference.

    No I don't. I just think he happens to be right.Michael
    Which is to say that you think that his words are infallible. Many people think Jesus was right. What is the difference?

    Personhood, life, being a game -- none of these are some intrinsic property that things either have or don't have. The world is a chaotic place, and to help us navigate it we start using words like "person", "life", and "game". But such use isn't dictated by some strict formal system of logic; it's often imprecise and inconsistent. That's just the reality of language.Michael
    Yet you laid out the argument for the existence of extremes. How can extremes even exist if there aren't intrinsic properties that make one a person and one not a person. You keep conflating the transitionary period with the extremes. Is the world a chaotic place or is it orderly, or somewhere in between? You keep proving Witt wrong every time you make an argument for what is the case - as in the world is chaotic, and what Witt said, which means that you have no issues with understanding what Witt is vs. what Witt is not.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    For vegans, yes. They are fine with killing plants for food, but not pigs, chickens and cows because they point to suffering, not necessarily personhood, as the reason to not kill some organism.Harry Hindu

    Facile anthropomorphism. Now Jains (re: ahimsa + fasting), at least, are 'consistent'.180 Proof
    But that is what I'm asking, 180. At what point are we merely projecting human qualities onto objects vs. those qualities actually existing independent of our projecting them?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.8k
    No set of traits can draw sharp boundaries that fit all analyses. E.g. if humans have 46 chromosomes, then men with XYY syndrome don't fit; evolutionary history: there's no sharp boundaries in species' emergence.Relativist
    This is simple to resolve. Instead of just two categories (man vs. woman or person vs. non-person), there could be three or more. Transitions between extremes would be a separate category. For instance, we don't say that black and white are the only colors. We recognize that there are many colors, not just two and the other colors are the transition between black and white (no colors vs. all colors).

    That said, for most cases of criminal law, it's not problematic- there's no confusion or disagreement, no sorties fallacy. But there IS disagreement in terms of fetal development, and the problem isn't solvable by creating a definition. But that is exactly what anti-abortion advocates try to do. It's not fair for me to insist they drop their religion-based belief that a zygote is a human being with a soul, but neither should they force their view on others - particularly on those who may suffer. We should all accept there's disagreement that is honest and sincere in terms of identifying some point in fetal development as a dividing line.Relativist
    Then the question is who suffers more and who has the power to prevent the greater suffering in using contraception instead of relying on abortion as the only option to prevent a birth? I don't see anything wrong with using a morning-after pill to abort a pregnancy because I don't see a zygote as a something that can be self-aware or suffer. The longer you wait, the more it becomes an issue. The only reason I can see for having a late-term abortion is because the woman's life is in danger.

    That door is always open, unfortunately, and the risks aren't eliminated by pointing the evil-doers at a lexicon.Relativist
    Sure it is. The prosecutors read the statute that the offender has broken, and people are put in jail because of some words on some court documents. I think that the words of a statute prevent some people from doing evil things. For some the words don't matter as they will respect others or not regardless of what some law states. I'm interested in talking to those that can do the "right" thing even when not threatened with prison. Are you one of those people?
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