The wrong argument

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Benocrates

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The wrong argument
« on: February 05, 2008, 10:49:35 AM »
Lately I've been thinking about and discussing the merits of the pro and anti abortion arguments and have decided I think they are both faulty. It seems there is a tendency to call this a "pro life" and "pro choice" debate and usually is claimed by both sides respectivly. First thing to notice is the clear pejorative juxtaposition of beoing for life on one hand and for choosing to control life on the other. To me this already throws the argument to the "pro life" side before the "pro choice" proponent opens their mouth.

     Beyond this glaring problem I think that the question is answered incorrectly on both sides, I'll start with "pro choice." I have so often heard women and even men claiming that abortion is a womans issue alone and men should have no say. It's their body and their right to chose what to do with it. To me, this is only right up until a point, but a glaring mistake is clear to me. When is the pre human a person. At conception? Development of a nervous system? Development of a Brain? Self Sufficiency? Birth? Regardless of what you choose you must arge that position.

    To me the base of the question is obvious; When does a pre human (fetus, zygote, etc) become a person. The argument that purely because the woman "created" this child it has a right to kill it at their own choosing is ludicrous, if we consider that child a person. It is obvious that when a baby is born the mother can't look down and strangle it to death, she would be charged with infanticide (perhaps other than post birth depression). We protect our children against abuse and mistreatment even though the children arent ours. Currently it seems we acknowledge birth as when a pre human becomes a person but I have so far not heard many arguments for that position, other than its apparent self evidency.

   What makes me question the legitimacy of that conception of personhood is that there is no real appreciable difference between a child a day or even a few weeks before the birth. Now, I am aware that abortions are only done before a certain point but I think thats more based on risks to the mother. Even if that limit was based on the reasoning that after that the baby was a person that is not the argument that is put forward.

   How should we make this decision, when a baby is a person? I think its clear that we need a criteria for personhood. It can't be self sufficiency because we still consider people on life support as persons. Perhaps it could be cognitive function, when the brain "turns on" or is formed. Another option would be the nervous system, indicating suffering would be the criteria. The argument that god believes this point to be conception is ridiculous and really has no merit because of its reason for being believed. I wont say I necessarily disagree with he possibility personhood begins at conception but I require better reasoning than "I read it in a book."

    I don't want to get into why the "potential" argument is a bad one but will if it comes to it.
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Chase_the_Bass

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2008, 12:09:59 PM »
I support after birth abortions. It's never too late.
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JackASCII

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2008, 01:59:33 PM »
Someone once asked me if I was pro-life or anti-gun... I told them I that I hunted fetuses.
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Dead Kangaroo

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2008, 02:02:59 PM »
Curbing the wild fire that is the human infection spreading upon this planet is not a bad thing.

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Chase_the_Bass

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2008, 02:04:02 PM »
Every time a minority gets an abortion I think of it as crime prevention.
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JackASCII

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2008, 02:08:14 PM »
But seriously...

You are not ever going to resolve this issue, mainly because there is an industry that makes a ton of money getting people pissed off about issues like abortion. From what I've seen, the biblical argument is weak but it's just too easy to sway the minds of the stupid about what the essence of life truly is and when it begins.

I like the argument that ...
1) life isn't just breathing.... it's living, eating, sleeping communicating, interacting, etc... THE WHOLE THING!
2) if it can live un-aided outside of a mother's womb it is life,
3) it's not just a woman's issue - if it was they could breed asexually, 
4) people should stop saying they're pro-life if they are against stem cell research.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 08:18:02 AM by JackASCII »
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Chase_the_Bass

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2008, 02:11:33 PM »
But seriously...

You are not ever going to resolve this issue, mainly because there is an industry that makes a ton of money getting people pissed off about issues like abortion. From what I've seen, the biblical argument is weak but it's just too easy to sway the minds of the stupid about what the essence of life truly is and when it begins.

I like the argument that ...
1) life isn't just breathing.... it's living, eating, sleeping communicating, interacting, etc... THE WHOLE THING!
2) if it can live un-aided outside of a mother's womb it is life,
3) it's not just a woman's issue - if it was they could breed asexually, 
4) people stop saying they're pro-life if they are against stem cell research.

Shouldn't that read "People stop saying they're pro-life if they are for stem cell research"? Or am I just retarded? If you are against stem cell research, then you are usually pro life. Because the stem cells come from the wittle aborted babies.
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Dead Kangaroo

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 02:26:29 PM »
But seriously...

You are not ever going to resolve this issue, mainly because there is an industry that makes a ton of money getting people pissed off about issues like abortion. From what I've seen, the biblical argument is weak but it's just too easy to sway the minds of the stupid about what the essence of life truly is and when it begins.

I like the argument that ...
1) life isn't just breathing.... it's living, eating, sleeping communicating, interacting, etc... THE WHOLE THING!
2) if it can live un-aided outside of a mother's womb it is life,
3) it's not just a woman's issue - if it was they could breed asexually, 
4) people stop saying they're pro-life if they are against stem cell research.

Shouldn't that read "People stop saying they're pro-life if they are for stem cell research"? Or am I just retarded? If you are against stem cell research, then you are usually pro life. Because the stem cells come from the wittle aborted babies.
In order to save (pro?) life.

Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2008, 03:27:27 PM »
A very interesting post, Beno. It almost sounds like you've been reading Practical Ethics by Peter Singer. Incase you haven't, I'll sum up his points for you. I'll have to do so very briefly, though, because I have to go out.

Peter Singer is essentially a two-level preference utilitarian, which means he believes the fulfillment of preferences should be maximised, and that one should work out an ethical framework which will guide them in big decisions, but also have a stock of standard answers to everyday dilemmas (based on that framework), so they don't have to give great thought to every decision. If you don't have time to weigh up all the possible consequences of an action, these general rules will serve well.

IE: It's generally wrong to kill, because that thwarts the victims (usually powerful) desire to go on living. On a day-to-day level this results in an almost always valid general rule that one shouldn't kill.

He argues in great length the same point that you do: that conception, the first trimester, and birth are all arbitrary times, and actually have very little bearing on the issue. He suggests - in keeping with preference utilitarianism - that it is only after the child is able to recognise themselves as a being with a future (and thus able to have a desire to keep living) that they can be said to have a "right to life" (to use a term he would loathe). This, apparently, only happens quite some time after birth -- I don't have time to look up the exact figure.

He also has written a long section about why it is illogical to take into account future preferences that may occur but that don't exist yet, which I don't have time to write out, but that you might be able to find online. If you can't, I'll fill you in later.

Basically, he believes abortion, and even post-birth infanticide is justifiable. It's important to note that he doesn't advocate killing babies willy-nilly or anything like that, only that there is no special, intrinsic wrongness in killing an infant. He believes it is the preferences of those closest to the child that should be valued. He gives a lot of examples with regard to certain severely mentally-disabled children, anacephalic children, etc, where the child's life would be short and painful, or life only in a biological sense, etc etc; and where the parents may have particularly good reasons (above just not wanting a baby) to not want a child born, or to want it euthanased.

Hope that makes sense to you. It is a great book-- if you haven't read it, you should. He has some outspoken views, some that superficially seem cruel or callous, but his views are all very well argued, very logical, and (maybe surprisingly) at their core extremely humane and kind.

-Liam

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Benocrates

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2008, 09:12:20 PM »
         Excellent post, I'm glad someone took the time to think about this or at least give a legitimate idea. That is the problem I've been struggling with, with the conception of self awareness it clearly isn't until much after the birth (in as much infant development that I know). I haven't made a decision on when I consider a fetus a person but I do know that that is the question.

        I think why this debate is so hated now is because the argument never changes and is never satisfactory. People are afraid of the reprecussions of discussing this issue logically because of where it goes. The "pro life"ers claim they know when life begins so its easy to call any stage abortion murder.

        It seems like the pro choice side is so afraid to logically analyse their position because they realize that if they do they will be playing into the hands of the fundies. If they concede that a pre human is sucked out of existence it seems horrible and the onus is on them now to explain why personhood does not start at conception.

         To me its intellectually dishonest and even more cold than deciding a newborn has no "right to life." I don't necessarily agree but I have to admit I have no logical basis to do so. I think perhaps my discussions on morality in my Machiavelli topic can add something to this issue.
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Midnight

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2008, 09:39:34 PM »
I am pro mass extinction.
My problem with his ideas is that it is a ridiculous thing.

Genius. PURE, undiluted genius.

Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2008, 10:03:20 PM »
I couldn't agree more, Beno.

The pro-choice/pro-life issue is made more difficult, too, because it is so polarised and so emotive. The pro-lifers that I know tend to regard any form of abortion, at any time, for any reason as murder; and the pro-choicers are usually quite far at the other end of the spectrum, though there's less consensus as to the exact point of personhood that they choose. And when religion gets involved it only gets more complicated (ie: Catholics and birth control.)

Peter Singer's ideology speaks to me very strongly, because it is both logical and compassionate, but I can see why he could be easily misunderstood-- advocating infanticide under any circumstances tends to get a knee-jerk reaction.

My aunt had a son with quite severe spina bifa some years ago, and in his 20-odd months of life he was in utter torment. I wouldn't describe it as a life worth living at all. Having seen that, and how it devastated my aunt and uncle, I believe it is far more cruel to deny the parents the right to avoid something like that. Especially as there is a pregnancy screening test that can detect spina bifida these days.

I see a stronger case for abortion only being legal in cases like those (where even giving the baby up for adoption after birth isn't a real option) than I do for an absolute ban on abortion. Even then, though, I find myself erring on the side of choice for the reasons I outlined in my previous post, because I am a preference utilitarian. Of course, I think the process should be carefully regulated, with counselling as to all options and consequences given.

Another argument for regulated legality, even limited legality, would be taking abortions out of backrooms. Even if abortion is illegal, people that really, really want one will still get one, likely in conditions that are dangerous, unhygenic, and that you and I would find horrendous.

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JackASCII

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2008, 08:22:48 AM »
But seriously...

You are not ever going to resolve this issue, mainly because there is an industry that makes a ton of money getting people pissed off about issues like abortion. From what I've seen, the biblical argument is weak but it's just too easy to sway the minds of the stupid about what the essence of life truly is and when it begins.

I like the argument that ...
1) life isn't just breathing.... it's living, eating, sleeping communicating, interacting, etc... THE WHOLE THING!
2) if it can live un-aided outside of a mother's womb it is life,
3) it's not just a woman's issue - if it was they could breed asexually, 
4) people stop saying they're pro-life if they are against stem cell research.

Shouldn't that read "People stop saying they're pro-life if they are for stem cell research"? Or am I just retarded? If you are against stem cell research, then you are usually pro life. Because the stem cells come from the wittle aborted babies.
In order to save (pro?) life.

Stem cell research shows a lot of promise for saving lives and improving the quality of life for many sick people (such as my g/f who has type 1 diabetes and renal failure).
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Loard Z

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2008, 08:27:57 AM »
I am not against abortion, in some cases.

Some people don't deserve children.

However, I definitely do not feel that it is entirely a womans issue at all. If a woman does not want her baby and the father does, then it is entirely selfish of a woman to say, "well I'm having it anyway."

After all, if the woman does give her child up at birth to the father, then she's only carried it for nine months of her life, while the father will look after his child for a minimum of 16 years. And, on a similar note, I find it extremely annoying that fathers who do not want their children are forced by governments to pay crippling amounts of child support, and yet single fathers whose mothers have abandoned them get no such support from the selfish woman.

It's a typical example of the unequality between men and women that we see today.
if i remember, austria is an old, dis-used name for what is now Germany.
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Dead Kangaroo

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2008, 08:42:38 AM »
I am pro mass extinction.
It would be tranquil.

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Chase_the_Bass

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2008, 11:31:15 AM »
I am pro mass extinction.

Too showy. I'm more of a genocide guy.
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divito the truthist

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2008, 04:38:24 AM »
I made a simple solution for abortion in elementary school. A fetus is not a human until it is its own separate entity. Until then, it's every bit a part of the mother. The end.
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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2008, 07:25:05 AM »
I made a simple solution for abortion in elementary school. A fetus is not a human until it is its own separate entity. Until then, it's every bit a part of the mother. The end.

That simply doesn't work. For instance, if somebody murders a pregnant woman and the child dies as well, that person may be charged with two counts of murder (I think they make some sort of decision based on how far along the pregnancy is). For the same reason, we cannot simply allow abortion at any point up to birth. Children can be born weeks premature and still survive. Also, many abortions occur in the first trimester, but after the seventh week of pregnancy, by which point the child can already be recognized as such, with a heartbeat, fingers, sexual organs, and even brain functions. This is done because at that point it is safer for the mother, but I cannot advocate such actions.
However, I also understand that you cannot simply outlaw what has been accepted by many in society for the past 30 years. Steps need to be taken over time to reduce the need and desire for abortion. Excellent post Beno.
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divito the truthist

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2008, 01:33:21 PM »
That simply doesn't work. For instance, if somebody murders a pregnant woman and the child dies as well, that person may be charged with two counts of murder (I think they make some sort of decision based on how far along the pregnancy is).

Um, what may be judged has nothing to do with anything I said. It's also in most court cases, a fallacy.

For the same reason, we cannot simply allow abortion at any point up to birth. Children can be born weeks premature and still survive.

Because a child (note, it's been separated first) can survive prematurely means that abortions should not occur?

Also, many abortions occur in the first trimester, but after the seventh week of pregnancy, by which point the child can already be recognized as such, with a heartbeat, fingers, sexual organs, and even brain functions. This is done because at that point it is safer for the mother, but I cannot advocate such actions.
However, I also understand that you cannot simply outlaw what has been accepted by many in society for the past 30 years. Steps need to be taken over time to reduce the need and desire for abortion. Excellent post Beno.

So, because a parasite resembles a human, abortions cannot be done?

I don't see how any of that counters my simple proposal. Resemblance and fallacies does not a good argument make.
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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2008, 02:31:31 PM »
It's a typical example of the unequality between men and women that we see today.

But Feminazi's don't care about that.  I wonder why ::)

Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2008, 03:01:21 PM »
Divito, your solution is simple, and I believe it to be compatible with my own views (that I outlined above), as long as the decision to draw the line at birth isn't entirely arbitrary, and allows latitude for special cases (such as extreme spina bifida, etc).

Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2008, 03:07:25 PM »
That simply doesn't work. For instance, if somebody murders a pregnant woman and the child dies as well, that person may be charged with two counts of murder (I think they make some sort of decision based on how far along the pregnancy is).

Um, what may be judged has nothing to do with anything I said. It's also in most court cases, a fallacy.

For the same reason, we cannot simply allow abortion at any point up to birth. Children can be born weeks premature and still survive.

Because a child (note, it's been separated first) can survive prematurely means that abortions should not occur?

Also, many abortions occur in the first trimester, but after the seventh week of pregnancy, by which point the child can already be recognized as such, with a heartbeat, fingers, sexual organs, and even brain functions. This is done because at that point it is safer for the mother, but I cannot advocate such actions.
However, I also understand that you cannot simply outlaw what has been accepted by many in society for the past 30 years. Steps need to be taken over time to reduce the need and desire for abortion. Excellent post Beno.

So, because a parasite resembles a human, abortions cannot be done?

I don't see how any of that counters my simple proposal. Resemblance and fallacies does not a good argument make.

Could you clarifying what type of fallacy I committed? The argument is that, if courts are going to rule that the murder of a pregnant woman is in fact two murders then we have already determined that the child in the womb is in fact a life that should not be ended.
It seems you say courts are wrong to make this decision, which is a fair argument, though I feel my later points necessitate that just such a decision is made.

Before I respond to the point of a child's ability to survive prematurely being a contention against abortion, might I ask, at what point is the child a separate entity? Only after birth, when it has left the womb? Might it be aborted (killed), for whatever reason, a day or even just a few hours before it would be born, as it is still 'part' of the mother?

As to the last one, arguments from analogy can be strong. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck...

At the most basic level, this whole thing can be brought back to the fact that people should be responsible for their actions. I can choose to drink and I can choose to drive, but if I kill someone in a car wreck do to this, an argument that my right to choose is greater than a right to live is unlikely to hold up. Similarly, people can choose to have sex, but they should understand that pregnancy is a potential consequence and murder should not be the answer.
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divito the truthist

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2008, 07:50:32 PM »
Could you clarifying what type of fallacy I committed?

You didn't; I was referring to the court's decision being one. An appeal to emotion.

The argument is that, if courts are going to rule that the murder of a pregnant woman is in fact two murders then we have already determined that the child in the womb is in fact a life that should not be ended.
It seems you say courts are wrong to make this decision, which is a fair argument, though I feel my later points necessitate that just such a decision is made.

It's only a fact in the subjectivity of the court. That doesn't make it correct, especially when they commit a fallacy in the process.

Before I respond to the point of a child's ability to survive prematurely being a contention against abortion, might I ask, at what point is the child a separate entity? Only after birth, when it has left the womb? Might it be aborted (killed), for whatever reason, a day or even just a few hours before it would be born, as it is still 'part' of the mother?

The parasite becomes a separate entity, and thus a child, once the umbilical cord is cut and it can survive on its own.

Similarly, people can choose to have sex, but they should understand that pregnancy is a potential consequence and murder should not be the answer.

So, you consider murder to be the removal of body parts, parasites, and tumors?
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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2008, 08:26:33 PM »
Similarly, people can choose to have sex, but they should understand that pregnancy is a potential consequence and murder should not be the answer.

What about rape victims who fall pregnant? Should they have to take responsibility for someone else's crime and carry a baby to term?

As for your argument from the legal precedent, I think it is dodgy. Laws vary from state to state and country to country. Even if one legal system prohibits abortion, it doesn't follow that abortion is morally wrong, it just means it is illegal. If they punish the murder of a pregnant woman as if it were two murders, that doesn't mean that the foetus should be regarded as a person, it just means that in that particular legal system it is.

Existing laws might be wrong (which is a large part of what this thread is about).

An analogy: Two people are arguing about whether homosexual marriage should be legal, one says no, because homosexuality is illegal (in some countries). Well, nothing is saying that the law against homosexuality is right in the first place.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 08:43:40 PM by Fikealox »

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dysfunction

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2008, 09:11:14 PM »
The parasite becomes a separate entity, and thus a child, once the umbilical cord is cut and it can survive on its own.

That's an incredibly arbitrary distinction. A newborn can't exactly survive on its own, either; and babies born up to 19 weeks prematurely have survived. There just isn't any clear line.

Quote
So, you consider murder to be the removal of body parts, parasites, and tumors?

Body parts and tumors have your genes. They are part of you by any conceivable definition. You have the right to modify your body in any way you wish. Parasites do not have human DNA at all, thus the moral standards that guide our treatment of other humans have no possible bearing on them. A fetus has human DNA, but not its mother's DNA (some of it is, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that the fetus has its own unique genetic code). The fact that it exists inside its mother's body and requires her body for survival does not make it part of her.

Quote
What about rape victims who fall pregnant? Should they have to take responsibility for someone else's crime and carry a baby to term?

{b]Iff[/b] the mother is pyschologically capable both of dealing with the pregnancy and birth and properly caring for the child despite its origin, it would be the right thing to do. However, while donating an organ is also the right thing to do, no one has a moral obligation to do so. We all have individual rights that cannot be superseded by the needs of others, no matter how much more legitimate. Just so, it is wonderful if a rape victim can bear and even raise the product of that rape, but she has no obligation to do so.

Thomson's 'Violinist' scenario is applicable here. The scenario is as follows:

Quote from: Judith Thomson
You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.

This obviously applies to rape. It does not, I strongly contend, apply to pregnancy resulting from consensual intercourse. Because unlike in either the violinist scenario or rape the mother is, in a very real sense, responsible for the fetus' reliance on her body, she does bear a moral obligation to the fetus. Thomson's responses to this criticism of her scenario are profoundly silly.
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Loard Z

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2008, 12:13:05 AM »
lol, I love divito's regard for human life, calling a fetus a parasite ::)
if i remember, austria is an old, dis-used name for what is now Germany.
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divito the truthist

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2008, 04:26:17 AM »
That's an incredibly arbitrary distinction. A newborn can't exactly survive on its own, either; and babies born up to 19 weeks prematurely have survived. There just isn't any clear line.

It's not arbitrary. People ask for when a fetus can be considered a human, and what constitutes such a distinction. Instead of relying on physical resemblance, or other such subjective criteria, I made it a much easier and objective point.

And you know what I meant by surviving on its own; once it fails to be a parasite.

The fact that it exists inside its mother's body and requires her body for survival does not make it part of her.

True, but the whole connected to her part does. I'd love to see the argument for how the umbilical cord somehow doesn't make it a part of her.

lol, I love divito's regard for human life, calling a fetus a parasite ::)

"An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host."

Seems about right.
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Loard Z

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2008, 04:28:26 AM »
i see. So you would happily discard an 8 month old fetus.
if i remember, austria is an old, dis-used name for what is now Germany.
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divito the truthist

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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2008, 05:17:58 AM »
Not sure about the happy part. I'm also not a woman, so I can't say what I would want to do to my body should I have to host a parasite.
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Re: The wrong argument
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2008, 02:27:12 PM »
Similarly, people can choose to have sex, but they should understand that pregnancy is a potential consequence and murder should not be the answer.

What about rape victims who fall pregnant? Should they have to take responsibility for someone else's crime and carry a baby to term?

As for your argument from the legal precedent, I think it is dodgy. Laws vary from state to state and country to country. Even if one legal system prohibits abortion, it doesn't follow that abortion is morally wrong, it just means it is illegal. If they punish the murder of a pregnant woman as if it were two murders, that doesn't mean that the foetus should be regarded as a person, it just means that in that particular legal system it is.

Existing laws might be wrong (which is a large part of what this thread is about).

An analogy: Two people are arguing about whether homosexual marriage should be legal, one says no, because homosexuality is illegal (in some countries). Well, nothing is saying that the law against homosexuality is right in the first place.

There are rarely absolutes and rape is an exception to the rule as, obviously, the mother had no choice in the matter.

I understand that legality doesn't necessarily have any bearing on morality. However, that was only part of the argument. Quite differently than divito, I determine that a child is a child at conception (though a morning after pill is much less appalling to me than an eighth week abortion) as opposed to some nine months later. For that reason, the law mentioned is entirely moral so far as I'm concerned.

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so I can't say what I would want to do to my body should I have to host a parasite.
Short of rape, the child isn't going to be forced on you.
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