Why I am no longer pro-choice no longer.
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12-10-2013, 08:25 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 02:30 PM)Stevil Wrote:  By what definition states that a person must have a nervous system?

Absent metaphysical supernaturalism and the notion of a soul personhood is defined in terms of some distinguishing property that separates dead people from live people, inanimate objects and people, vegetative people from conscious people etc. The distinguishing property appears to be some cognitive capacity. Steinbock argues that interests make make persons; Scott argues for intentionality. There are probably other secular conceptions of personhood but they will all turn on some cognitive capacity. Since cognition is a product of the nervous system it is to that extent necessary for personhood. There is nothing arbitrary or merely asserttive about this.

Quote:Also by what definition states that you are obliged to protect all persons? that you are obliged to force your opinion, via sanctioning police with use of extreme force to protect an unborn from its own mother?

I don't think anyone claimed that all persons have the right to protection. There is no contradiction in arguing for self-defence (state or personal) and allowing all abortions except the late-term.

Quote:If the police weren't in the picture. Lets say you have to do the dirty work yourself. How far you be willing to go in order to force my wife into having an unwanted baby, just because it has developed a nervous system? I would be willing to go all the way, I would risk my life, I would be willing to end the life of an aggressor if they were using physical violence against my pregnant wife.

That isn't really a test of the soundness of the concept of personhood being advocated. My life qua person is no less than the foetuses and neither is yours so it would be self-defeating if one of us perished as a result of an altercation over the personhood of the foetus.

Quote:We keep arguing for separation of state and religion, but what is the difference between a religious person wanting to force their moral beliefs onto others and an atheist wanting to force their moral beliefs onto others?

Any social system will constrain at least some behaviours else it will cease to exist as a social system. The ideal from which you are arguing is fictitious so any real social system will come up short. Even in proposed anarcho-capitalist systems contracts and property ownership are enforced (one way or another).

Quote:If you are willing to accept morality as a basis for law, then you are saying that might makes right and you must accept that religious folk have the same right as you to force their moral beliefs on others.

The idea that "might makes right" is generally understood to denote legal positivism and it is the opposite of the idea that morality is the basis for law. Legal positivism has no use for morality, whatever the state decrees is just and legitimate is so by virtue of its coercive capacity (that is the traditional legal positivist position on the relationship between morality and law).

Quote:Thus if they deem homosexuality immoral then they can force gay people apart. If the Catholics deem contraceptive immoral, divorce immoral etc...

The argument from personhood actually preserves the rights of homosexuals.
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12-10-2013, 08:33 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
In American law, the "distinguishing property" does not "appear to be some cognitive property". People in persistent vegetative states are considered persons.
What matters in a discussion of abortion is LEGAL person-hood.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personhood

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12-10-2013, 08:52 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 07:44 PM)Minimalist Wrote:  The concept of "viability" is also somewhat arbitrary. Put simply, a baby can be born after going full term but if the mother can not or does not care for it it dies.

That is irrelevant. Adult humans are returned to a state of dependence by accident (e.g. quadriplegia) and disease (e.g. MND) yet we don't deem them non-persons.

Quote:So let's lose this bullshit argument about making the woman carry it to term.

If it is morally permissably to disregard the interests of a very late term foetus (a person by all accounts) then there is no good reason to respect the interests of anyone else. Without the notion of personhood I don't understand how a secular humanism could be possible.

Quote:You are also sentencing her to care for it for any number of years.

No we aren't because it can be made a foster-child.

Quote:Once again, I do not see where it is any business of the "pro-life" crowd.

If the foetus has developed into a person then its murder is indistinguishable from the muder of anyone else (excluding the case where there is a conflict between the life of the mother and the life of the foetus).
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12-10-2013, 09:05 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
There is no "point" that is objectively identifiable, when a fetus can be said to have developed into a person. It's all subjective. The taking of life is only "murder" if the law defines it to be so.

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12-10-2013, 09:12 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(09-10-2013 01:49 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  But that's beside the point.

Also, beside the point but he needs to reassess his supplier selection process.

But I can sympathise.

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12-10-2013, 09:22 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 08:33 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  In American law, the "distinguishing property" does not "appear to be some cognitive property". People in persistent vegetative states are considered persons.
What matters in a discussion of abortion is LEGAL person-hood.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personhood

This is a discussion about the morality of abortion not its legality within the USA. We aren't solicitors preparing a brief for a barrister. Rather we are amateur philosophers debating the morality of abortion. For this reason we are concerned with personhood as it is understood in secular terms.

Also the legal (logical positivist) conception of personhood is circular: a human being is a person because (s)he has been given rights and duties. That doesn't tell us whether embryos should be treated as persons and should not be harvested of their stem cells. The contentious issue is whether an embyo is in fact a natural person; the law at any given time may say that it is or it isn't and that doesn't help us determine if it actually is. Appealing to the law doesn't clarify or explain anything. So too for those in persistent vegetative states (PVS); that those in PVS are legal persons in the USA doesn't settle the matter of whether they should be deemed so.

Surely you can distinguish between the law at any given time and a moral standard that may influence or determine the law. Legal permissibility is independant of moral permissibility, that this is the case is confirmed by our ability to criticise certain laws in moral terms. Legal personhood is a vacuous concept, it tells us nothing about how to go about ascribing rights and duties to things. Merely because legislators have decreed that some set of things have legal rights and duties--and hence are legal persons--doesn't tell us how and why they decided that the particular set of things has legal rights and duties. What is being debated here is what kinds of things should be given legal rights and duties the law doesn't help us in that regard.
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12-10-2013, 09:32 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 09:05 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There is no "point" that is objectively identifiable, when a fetus can be said to have developed into a person. It's all subjective.


Developmental milestones are objective criteria. Whether achievement of certain developmental milestones constitutes the achievement of personhood is debatable but that doesn't entail that it is "all subjective". There is no good reason to regard personhood as a subjective concept; we don't know much about consciousness but that doesn't mean it is a subjective concept. As we learn more about consciousness the notion of personhood will also become clearer.

Quote:The taking of life is only "murder" if the law defines it to be so.

Yes and that is a tautology.
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12-10-2013, 10:02 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 09:22 PM)Chippy Wrote:  This is a discussion about the morality of abortion not its legality within the USA. We aren't solicitors preparing a brief for a barrister. Rather we are amateur philosophers debating the morality of abortion. For this reason we are concerned with personhood as it is understood in secular terms.

Also the legal (logical positivist) conception of personhood is circular: a human being is a person because (s)he has been given rights and duties. That doesn't tell us whether embryos should be treated as persons and should not be harvested of their stem cells. The contentious issue is whether an embyo is in fact a natural person; the law at any given time may say that it is or it isn't and that doesn't help us determine if it actually is. Appealing to the law doesn't clarify or explain anything. So too for those in persistent vegetative states (PVS); that those in PVS are legal persons in the USA doesn't settle the matter of whether they should be deemed so.

Surely you can distinguish between the law at any given time and a moral standard that may influence or determine the law. Legal permissibility is independent of moral permissibility, that this is the case is confirmed by our ability to criticise certain laws in moral terms. Legal personhood is a vacuous concept, it tells us nothing about how to go about ascribing rights and duties to things. Merely because legislators have decreed that some set of things have legal rights and duties--and hence are legal persons--doesn't tell us how and why they decided that the particular set of things has legal rights and duties. What is being debated here is what kinds of things should be given legal rights and duties the law doesn't help us in that regard.


This is a discussion about abortion. There is nothing in the OP that limits it to your rules. You used a "loaded" term, (murder), which is often used to evoke an emotional response. Legal issues have a legitimate part of the discussion. You also implied that there was a point at which "person-hood" could be determined. You failed to say what it is, or what the criteria are.

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12-10-2013, 10:08 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 09:12 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(09-10-2013 01:49 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  But that's beside the point.

Also, beside the point but he needs to reassess his supplier selection process.

But I can sympathise.

While I agree this is true, for reasons outside of this argument, I can assure you both parties were taking precautions. He had no desire for a supplier (I'm a poet Tongue). However, shit happens. His opinion on how said "shit" is dealt with should have been given more consideration.

(thanks for the sympathy)

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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12-10-2013, 11:06 PM
RE: Why I am no longer pro-choice.
(12-10-2013 10:02 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  This is a discussion about abortion. There is nothing in the OP that limits it to your rules.

It isn't an issue of "rules" it is a question of relevance. Questioning the relevance of your contribution is legitimate. A circular and hence vacuous concept--namely legal personhood--adds nothing to the discussion.

Quote:You used a "loaded" term, (murder), which is often used to evoke an emotional response.

Given that I've devoted many keystrokes in this thread to providing argumentation and evidence I have no need for emotional appeals. I used the word murder because that is what I meant and that is the moral signnificance of the conception of personhood that I am arguing for.

Quote:You also implied that there was a point at which "person-hood" could be determined. You failed to say what it is, or what the criteria are.

No I appealed to Steinbock's criterion and I referenced her multiple times. Steinbock's criterion of interest is satisfied with reference to the neurological development of the foetus. The precise point of the development of personhood varies from gestation to gestation and although we can't determine it precisely now we will be able to determine sufficient neurological development (for possession of interests) in precise terms soon. At this stage we need to rely on population means.

This needs to be placed in context:
* (In the USA) less than 1.5% of abortions occur in the late second/early third trimester[1]
* The top-four reasons for late-term abortions are connected with sexual/reproductive education, accessibility of abortion, female autonomy and indecision[2] (reproduced here)

So although I regard 3rd trimester abortion to be murder it shouldn't be prosecuted as such because of the various factors that prevent early-term abortion. Making abortion more accessible, educating women about pregnancy and explaining the personhood of a late-term foetus will reduce the incidence of late-term abortions. Only after these public policy changes would it become fair to prosecute 3rd trimester abortion as murder.
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