• Oppyfan
    18
    Does a fetus deserve moral consideration? And when do we give the fetus moral consideration? Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?

  • Bartricks
    6k
    Depends if a soul is present in it. Lumps of meat don't deserve moral consideration. Not normally anyway. Souls do.

    Not clear when a soul enters a fetus. It seems obvious that newly born babies have them, so at some point earlier a soul enters. But it seems fairly implausible to think it is there from conception, and equally implausible to think it enters the instant of exit.

    So, at some point inbetween those two points, a soul enters.

    My view - which I hold with no great confidence - is that when the fetus is just a piece of gristle, you ought to abort it for unless you do it will suck a soul into this realm, and that's bad. So I think early abortions are probably a duty.

    But later, when it is more plausible that a soul is present, then they are not a duty. Nevertheless, if their presence in the pregnant person was not the pregnant person's fault, then I think abortion is morally permissible as it is beyond the call of duty to insist someone go through the pains and inconvenience of pregnancy to save a life for which that person has no special responsibility.

    But if it was intentional - that is, if the person got pregnant on purpose or had voluntary unprotected sex fully in the knowledge that a pregnancy might result, then i think that person deserves the pains and inconvenience of a pregnancy and has no right to kill a person to avoid them. (They still ought to abort in the early stages, however, as though they have done a wicked thing and deserve to suffer, it is more important to prevent a new soul from being sucked into this realm than it is to give oneself one's just deserts).

    So I have a mixed view. Early abortions are morally obligatory for all. But with later ones it all depends on the manner in which the pregnant person got pregnant.

    My view reflects my antinatalism. That is, I believe it is wrong - very wrong - knowingly to attempt to force innocent souls into this realm. But if I am wrong about that, then i think most abortions will be morally permissible.
  • Oppyfan
    18
    I was thinking along the lines of criteria for personhood since your presupposing a soul it’s hard for me to agree since I don’t believe we have souls,thanks for the reply!
  • Bartricks
    6k
    But you believe in the mind, presumably? A soul is just an immaterial mind. So the same applies if, implausibly, minds are material.
    There comes a point where a tangle of foetus meat has a mind. We don't know where that point is exactly. But it is at some point during the fetuses career inside the pregnant person. Same points apply, for the only difference is that one is creating a mind rather than sucking one in. Makes no real difference to the ethics of it all.

    I mentioned souls rather than minds partly because that really is what makes the difference (our minds are souls, whether you believe it or not), but also because there is currently a tendency among those who believe in souls to think all abortions are wrong because life begins at conception - a position that is in no way implied by the soul thesis.

    We have souls and it is our possession of them that puts our bodies on the moral map. But when our bodies acquire them is no clearer than when our bodies have a mind, if minds are material.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    516


    Does a fetus deserve moral consideration? And when do we give the fetus moral consideration? Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?Oppyfan

    In my view, the fetus should get moral consideration at all stages of the pregnancy, as abortion will prevent its future pleasure and suffering. It is either morally right, wrong, or neutral to prevent its future pleasure and suffering.
  • NOS4A2
    8.2k


    I think it does. It’s a stage of life all of us must go through.
  • Oppyfan
    18
    I don’t think we can correlate the mind with a soul but no I don’t believe we have a mind
  • James RileyAccepted Answer
    2.9k
    Does a fetus deserve moral consideration? And when do we give the fetus moral consideration? Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?Oppyfan

    I've always felt uncomfortable with the word "deserve". To me, I think that, in order to deserve something, it must be earned. And, to be earned, there must have been agreement. I distinguish deserve from "entitlement." Something/someone can be entitled without having earned, and without deserving. I'll not waste your time going any further into my nuanced understanding of "deserve." I will stick to "entitled."

    I think everything (including the absence of things) is entitled to moral consideration. But there is a world of difference between entitlement and receipt. Folks generally don't have the patience to afford consideration to anything, much less moral consideration.

    Further, affording moral consideration does not demand a particular result. So, in the case of the fetus, moral consideration can be afforded to the fetus, and to the mother, and to the father, and to me and other entities that have to share the planet with it. One doesn't necessarily trump the other, and we can't logically presuppose what a moral end result of consideration would look like. There are too many angles and entities to consider.

    That brings us, in my personal opinion (which I'm trying to not care about), to the conclusion that what a moral result of consideration should look like would be subjective, and personal. A personal example I have considered extensively is the hunt. I think whether a specific killing is moral depends upon what lies in the heart of the killer, before, during and after the kill. One need not feel guilt, remorse, doubt or questions about the kill in order for it to be a righteous or moral kill. But neither can the kill be the result of blood lust, or a vainglorious, sadistic, or proxy act. Their must be respect, and grace, and honor and gratitude.

    As much as I do not like what I see in the field, or hear about in the hunting community, I try not to judge because I know the impact the hunt and other interactions with nature can have on the soul; the wonders it can work, and the sometimes inexplicable reverence and sanctity that a clumsy person can feel without sufficient articulation. I hope that the hunt is working it's magic, even on the jerk.

    When it comes to the fetus, I likewise think that the moral consideration of it demands no particular result in the treatment thereof. The mother, like a hunter, is left alone, with her own heart, to deal with nature. I personally feel that if we, as a society, would like to find a greater sanctity, and a reverence for the life of a fetus, then we should start by trusting nature to work her magic; we should not second-guess the result, just because we don't like it. Rare is the mother who kills her baby out of blood lust, vainglory, sadism, convenience, as a method of birth control, vengeance or other motivation. I sincerely believe that no one, not even the most heart-felt, empathetic pro-life person on the planet, will give more moral consideration to the act of abortion than the average mother. Sure, there is the exception, but we should not make rules based on exceptions.

    We enact laws out of frustration with fucking assholes who lack respect, grace, honor and gratitude. But those laws are really just the state stepping in where we, as people, have failed in virtuous leadership by example. Making fun of, and disrespecting food only happens because "that's how daddy did it." And daddy only did it that way because his daddy did it, etc. That's not the state's fault. That's failure of leadership and virtue that started sometime in the past when honorable men and women were not around mentoring. Abortion is a hell of a long way from such immorality. Abortion receives more moral consideration than most all other life decisions; and that is even without the pro-choice/pro-life debate. Rare is the woman who takes the decision lightly. Leave her the fuck alone and mind your own god damn business.
  • _db
    3.6k
    Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?Oppyfan

    When it can suffer.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    Does a fetus deserve moral consideration? And when do we give the fetus moral consideration? Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?Oppyfan

    Abortion should be legal to age 21 or so. Would solve a lot of parenting problems.

    Now for a serious answer, or at least a response if not an answer, I present to you the striking case of Scott Peterson, convicted in 2004 of "... the first-degree murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and the second-degree murder of their unborn son, Conner ..."

    During the trial, which took place in liberal Redwood City, California, the papers were full of talk of "unborn baby Conner." Now I ask you. Why is "unborn baby Conner" a clump of undifferentiated cells for purposes of the abortion debate, yet deserving of a name and thereby his humanity in a murder trial?

    How do you convict a man of the murder of an undifferentiated clump of cells? This case always stands out for me as exemplifying the massive hypocrisy of the pro-choice position. If Laci had aborted the fetus, nobody in the San Francisco bay area would have batted an eye. Yet Scott Peterson sits in jail at this very moment, as I type these lines, for murdering that very same clump of undifferentiated cells. Well he killed his wife too, so he'd be in prison regardless. But I hope you see my point, and I wonder if some of you philosophers can help me understand why "unborn baby Conner" was even deserving of a name, let alone the status of a murder victim, in a strongly pro-choice state like California. You might say it's the mother's choice, but how can that be? If "unborn baby Conner" has human rights and can be murdered, then surely it's cold comfort to the fetus that it was his mom and not his dad who decided to kill him.

    RIP unborn baby Conner. Or undifferentiated clump of cells, as the case may be.
  • James Riley
    2.9k
    Why is "unborn baby Conner" a clump of undifferentiated cells for purposes of the abortion debate, yet deserving of a name and thereby his humanity in a murder trial?fishfry

    Because the mother was deprived of choice.

    How do you convict a man of the murder of an undifferentiated clump of cells?fishfry

    Because the mother was deprived of choice.

    If Laci had aborted the fetus, nobody in the San Francisco bay area would have batted an eye.fishfry

    Because it would have been the mother's choice.

    This case always stands out for me as exemplifying the massive hypocrisy of the pro-choice position.fishfry

    You should not let the case always stand out for you as exemplifying the massive hypocrisy of the pro-choice position. Rather, you should see it as an example of the patent consistence of the pro-choice position.

    But I hope you see my point, and I wonder if some of you philosophers can help me understand why "unborn baby Conner" was even deserving of a name, let alone the status of a murder victim, in a strongly pro-choice state like California.fishfry

    I don't see your point. I see your failure to understand pro-choice. You can take cold comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

    You might say it's the mother's choice, but how can that be? If "unborn baby Conner" has human rights and can be murdered, then surely it's cold comfort to the fetus that it was his mom and not his dad who decided to kill him.fishfry

    I don't "might say." I do say it is the mother's choice. It can be, because it is. It's no comfort, cold or otherwise, to the fetus who happens to kill it (or not). The comfort of the fetus doesn't matter unless the mother says it matters. The mother is the sovereign ruler over all fetus' that reside within her. That is the way it should be. So says me.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    I don't "might say." I do say it is the mother's choice. It can be, because it is. It's no comfort, cold or otherwise, to the fetus who happens to kill it (or not). The comfort of the fetus doesn't matter unless the mother says it matters. The mother is the sovereign ruler over all fetus' that reside within her. That is the way it should be. So says me.James Riley

    I did feel that I addressed this point. It's cold comfort to the fetus that it was the mom and not the dad who killed him. But I already said that. I'll have to say that your post didn't help answer my question, since I had already anticipated that line of argument that the mother can kill the fetus any time she feels like it. That the fetus is an undifferentiated clump if the mother kills it, and "unborn baby Conner" if the father kills it. What is the moral or philosophical principle involved? "Women get special consideration for murder," is the only one I can see here.

    Not to change the subject too much, but for sake of clarity: Are you "my body, my choice" with respect to experimental vaccines? Use of illicit substances?
  • James Riley
    2.9k
    It's cold comfort to the fetus that it was the mom and not the dad who killed him. But I already said that.fishfry

    Yes, you did. And I said the comfort of the fetus, cold or otherwise, does not matter.

    your post didn't help answer my question,fishfry

    It directly answered your question. Mother's choice; fetus doesn't count. Period. I don't know how much simpler I can make it for you. You might disagree, but that does not mean your question was not answered. It was answered.

    What is the moral or philosophical principle involved?fishfry

    Mother's choice. Asked and answered. That is the moral principle: Mother's choice. Mother's choice is the moral principle.

    "Women get special consideration for murder,"fishfry

    It's not murder if it's legal. Homicide, yes, murder, no. Mother's (should) get special consideration for their own fetal homicide.

    Are you "my body, my choice" with respect to experimental vaccines? Use of illicit substances?fishfry

    Yes. But as in the rest of life, there may be consequences, cancel culture, or ostracization. Thus, your body, your choice with respect to experimental vaccines, but you may not get goods or services from the private sector or the government. And if your use of illicit substances poses a threat to others, you can, for instance, lose your driver's license, etc.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    It's not murder if it's legal. Homicide, yes, murder, no.James Riley

    Which is exactly why I used the word murder and not homicide. Are you saying abortion is homicide?
  • James Riley
    2.9k
    Which is exactly why I used the word murder and not homicide. Are you saying abortion is homicide?fishfry

    I personally believe life begins at conception, if not before. So yes, abortion is homicide. But it's not murder unless we say it is.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    I personally believe life begins at conception, if not before. So yes, abortion is homicide. But it's not murder unless we say it is.James Riley

    I totally respect that point of view. It's intellectually honest. "Abortion is homicide but not murder."

    That's very different than saying a fetus is a clump of cells on the one hand, and capable of being murdered if Scott Peterson does it. That is a logically incoherent position.

    I suspect we are in agreement. If the pro-choicers would simply say as you do, that abortion kills a potential human but that it's justified on whatever grounds, that would be logically defensible.

    For what it's worth I'm a safe, rare, and legal guy. That used to be a perfectly sensible moderate position. These days it's hopelessly regressive. You're supposed to "shout your abortion" as if it's a great achievement. That, I find morally depraved.
  • James Riley
    2.9k
    If the pro-choicers would simply say as you do, that abortion kills a potential human but that it's justified on whatever grounds, that would be logically defensible.fishfry

    I'll go a step further and say it's not a potential human: It's a human. But she can kill it, carte blanche, as far as I'm concerned.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    I'll go a step further and say it's not a potential human: It's a human. But she can kill it, carte blanche, as far as I'm concerned.James Riley

    I respect that moral position. At least it's logical. My objection to the "lump of tissue unless Scott Peterson did it" argument is not the immorality of abortion, but rather the illogic of the position.
  • Cheshire
    1k
    Does a fetus deserve moral consideration? And when do we give the fetus moral consideration? Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?Oppyfan
    I think it is best to give moral consideration to respecting the medical profession's ability to parse the ethical questions they face. Generalizing decisions of life and death when a gray area is present seems immoral.
  • James Riley
    2.9k


    I think respective opponents often fail to take their arguments to a logical conclusion and then go for it from there. This leaves them open to ongoing, endless debate, misunderstanding, irrelevant nuance, and culture wars. I was taught in law school to give the other side every thing they want until you find out what that really is, and what it is you simply refuse to give them. Therein lies the nut over which a fight can be launched, or not. Everything else is noise.
  • Bartricks
    6k
    You don't believe we have minds?? So you don't believe in mental states either, for they are states of mind.

    Well, your beliefs do not determine what's true. We do have minds, for mental states exist and they couldn't absent a mind to have them. Thus minds exist.

    There's a metaphysical question over whether minds are material or immaterial. But there's no question they exist.

    There's also no question they are the basis of our intrinsic moral worth. I am morally valuable because I am a mind, rather than because of any of my sensible features. My size and shape and colour and location are all irrelevant to my moral value, for instance. And thus the fact a fetus is very small and not shaped like me and probably a different colour and certainly in an odd location does not affect its moral value. What makes it morally valuable, if or when it is, is its possession of a mind.

    I mentioned souls partly because I want to stop those who believe in souls thinking their position on abortion is "it is always wrong" - if our minds are souls the ethics of abortion remains the same as it would be if our minds are material things.
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    In my understanding: Before 24-26 weeks of gestation, a human foetus lacks intact thalamocortical circutry and therefore isn't sentient (i.e. feels pain as an independent organism with the potential for learning to anticipate pain in other organisms (empathy)) – not a person, so excising it is a lumpectomy, not homicide; after c26 weeks, however, if the mother decides against giving birth, against mothering the unborn in her womb, aborting the fetus is homicide (i.e. self-defense killing) but not murder. Given that ...

    Does a fetus deserve moral consideration?Oppyfan
    Yes, but after 26 weeks (c6 1/2 months) of gestation, not before then.

    Better question when do we give anything moral consideration?
    As a rule of thumb – if and when dehumanizing, or brutalizing, a suffering (not merely pain-reactive) creature, even to the slightest degree, also dehumanizes, or brutalizes, an agent.
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    The Pro-Choice Paradox

    1. If I do something to the fetus then I do something to the baby. (pro-choicers' key statement, the reason why they want abortion)

    2. If I can't do something to the baby then I can't do something to the fetus (from 1, contrapositive: doing something to the fetus implies doing something to the baby)

    3. I can't do something to the baby (pro-choicers & pro-lifers agree, a baby is a person)

    Ergo,

    4. I can't do something to the fetus (2, 3 MP)

    Then, pro-choicers go on to argue,

    5. If the fetus is not a baby then I can do something to the fetus

    6. The fetus is not a baby (pro-choicer)

    7. I can do something to the fetus (5, 6 MP)

    8. I can do something to the fetus and I can't do something to the fetus (4, 7 Conj) [Contradiction: Paradox!]

    The pro-choice position is inconsistent! (8 is a contradiction).
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    There is no "baby" until after the c26th week (6 1/2 month) of pregnancy. :roll:
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    There is no "baby" until after the 26rh week (6 1/2 month) of pregnancy. :roll:180 Proof

    I mentioned that point. See :point:

    Then, pro-choicers go on to argue,

    5. If the fetus is not a baby then I can do something to the fetus

    6. The fetus is not a baby (pro-choicer)

    7. I can do something to the fetus (5, 6 MP)
    TheMadFool


    The problem with pro-choice is that they agree to this :point:

    1. If I do something to the fetus then I do something to the baby. (pro-choicers' key statement, the reason why they want abortion)TheMadFool

    which implies,

    2. If I can't do something to the baby then I can't do something to the fetus (from 1, contrapositive: doing something to the fetus implies doing something to the baby)TheMadFool

    All of the above leads to,

    8. I can do something to the fetus and I can't do something to the fetus (4, 7 Conj) [Contradiction: Paradox!]TheMadFool
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    Gibberish. Pro-choicers neither make decisions to abort using this method nor give two shits whether or not the decision is formally consistent. They wish to stop their pregancies. Period. These women are moral agents (@ age of consent) and not wards of the state, their husbands or their families.
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    Gibberish. Pro-choicers neither make decisions to abort using this method nor give two shits whether or not the decision is formally consistent. They wish to stop their pregancies. Period. These women are moral agents (@ age of consent) and not wards of the state, their husbands or their families.180 Proof

    That's a different line of thought. I do respect women, as much as any man can, may be I am one myself. Ergo, I fully support their rights and neither condone nor encourage any actions/policies that hold women at ransom. Women being the sex that carry pregnancies make that harder if not nearly impossible.

    My argument is, if you'd like to know, based on the Aristotelian concept of potential.

    A fetus is a potential baby. Pro-lifers recognize this fact. Since to do something to the fetus is to utlimately affect a baby and because a baby is a person, pro-lifers believe they shouldn't mess around with the fetus.

    Pro-choicers too agree that a fetus is a potential baby, in fact their position doesn't make sense without this belief. They don't want the actual baby and hence they want to get rid of the potential baby (fetus).

    However, that means, quite unequivocally, that to do something to the fetus implies doing something to the baby. That's precisely why pro-choicers want abortion. For better or worse, that means if you don't want to do something to the baby, you have to avoid doing things to the fetus (the potential baby). That's that.

    Then there's the pro-choicer's reason why abortion is acceptable. A fetus isn't a baby and thus women are under no moral obligation to preserve it, keep it safe as it were.

    The woman who wants to abort her pregnancy is then guilty of a contradiction: she wants an abortion because she's worried about the actual baby but she claims that she can terminate her pregnancy because the potential baby (the fetus) isn't an actual baby. The woman is basically flip-flopping between actual baby (she wants abortion) and potential baby (she can have an abortion). She can't do that because she equates the potential baby to an actual baby - that's why she wants an abortion - and in the same breath she claims a potential baby isn't an actual baby - that's why she believes she can have an abortion.
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    Reminds me of the Terminator Movie Series/Franchise.

    Skynet sends a terminator, T-1000, to kill young John Connor because young John Connor (not the leader) is a potential old John Connor (the leader of the resistance). This is abortion.

    The resistance in turn, sends T-800 to protect young John Connor for the exact same reason - young John Connor (not a leader) is a potential old John Connor (the leader of the resistance) This is anti-abortion.

    In other words, young John Connor (the fetus) = old John Connor (the baby) for both Skynet (pro-choicers) and the resistance (pro-lifers).

    Skynet (pro-choicers) now can't claim to kill young John Connor (the fetus) isn't the same as killing old John Connor (the baby).
  • TheMadFool
    13.8k
    Gibberish. Pro-choicers neither make decisions to abort using this method nor give two shits whether or not the decision is formally consistent180 Proof

    :fire: :fire: :fire: You taught me a valuable lesson Sir/Madam, as the case may be!

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    A seed is not a tree. A sapling is a potential tree. A pre-26th week old unviable fetus is not a person. A viable fetus aka "baby" is a potential person.

    :lol: Nice try. Time travel plots do not work, however, because it makes no sense to go back in time to change an event which has already happened; rather it makes more sense to travel back in time to a specified moment at which an alternative parallel worldline branches off wherein the alternative future is open; therefore, Skynet sends back the T-800 to "abort" alternative John Connor on an alternative worldline created by sending the T-800 back in time, which leaves Skynet's prime worldline (history), which includes prime John Connor, unchanged. Your metaphor collapses under the weight of inconsistent plotting (& speculation) typical of "time travel stories". (It's even worse than that, but I don't need to go there to make my point. Btw, I'm a huge fan of the original Terminator movie.)

    Yes but the value of a seed lies in its potential (tree), not in itself.TheMadFool
    "Value" to whom – the birds who eat most of the seeds? They're valued in nature as much for food as for germinating. So what? Again, seed are potential saplings and saplings are potential trees; seeds are not potential trees. That's like saying sperm are "potential persons" – then jacking-off is equivalent to mass-murder and swallowing jizz when giving head is cannibalism. :sweat: Better watch that (anachronistic) Aristotleanism ...
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