Preface to this “edition”: (last updated July 5, 2014)
The initial part of the following text was originally posted at http://www.debate.org/forums/society/topic/22469/, and was later edited slightly and re-posted at http://www.debatepolitics.com/blogs/futureincoming/683-60-anti-abortion-arguments-refuted-part-1.html. Those earlier editions have a problem in that the environments in which they were posted limited the maximum length of the posts, so the overall text had to be broken up into many parts. Here, all of it can be together in one post, and internal links can let you easily jump from one item to another. And as circumstances warrant, it can easily be edited/expanded, to accommodate any replies that purport to point out an error, or to present a new argument. The very first edit here, in fact, is to change the title slightly, to indicate that more than 60 argument-refutations follow. Some of the other edits reflect some recent discoveries, or points raised by others, as posted here following the original 60 argument-refutations.
60+ Anti-Abortion Arguments Refuted
On Ending The Overall Abortion Debate
A Public Domain Document
(may be freely copied/posted anywhere)
The debate can be won by the pro-choice group. The Internet was scoured to find as many different anti-abortion arguments as possible –be warned, some of them could be called “raw”, and not even Religion-based arguments are excluded. The purpose of creating the list was to enable full exposure of all the flaws in those arguments, because all of them are indeed flawed. The result is now available for widespread use.
It is possible that no amount of facts and logic can cause some abortion opponents to change their minds. There is, after all, a particular and perfectly natural foundation for a faulty opinion, a foundation that requires extreme effort to overcome, before a different opinion can be formed. But most people are simply too lazy to bother; they would rather keep their opinions, no matter how invalid, and no matter what the consequences….
In this document that foundation is revealed to be “prejudice”, and one of the possible consequences is nothing less than the death of most of the human species. If that isn’t enough to encourage abortion opponents –who claim to be “pro-life”– to introspect their opinions carefully, then nothing will do it, and Society should simply and forever afterward ignore them (like members of the Flat Earth Society are basically ignored).
The order in which these refutations are presented is moderately important. Certain items contain information that is referenced in later items; the reader is assumed to have seen the earlier information. #1 should not be skipped, therefore, and, ideally, they all should be read in order.
As a kind of “quick reference”, it could be pointed out that many anti-abortion arguments assume that an unborn human qualifies as a person, and therefore has a right to life. For refutations about right-to-life, see #3 and #38 and #103. For “secular” refutations about personhood, see #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #14, #16, #26, #28, #41, #42, and #100. For refutations about personhood based on the notion that an unborn human might have a soul, see #8, #23, #27, and #29 (and, differently, #30 and #32).
Update: The word “stupid” appears a significant number of times in this document, such that an explanation is in order. Consider this as a moderately reasonable definition of “stupid”: A mental condition that interferes with accurate communications. Given that definition, then Prejudice and Hypocrisy and Fact-Denial can all qualify as “stupid”. For example, a Prejudiced claim such as “all Samaritans are bad people” means being unable to accurately communicate the possibility that at least one Samaritan might be a good person. It is socially important that such stupidity be exposed and reviled, whenever possible. (Update ends.)
1. “All life is special. It is unfortunate that we have to kill other things to survive, but killing any other thing at any other time should be avoided.” UNPROVED, because we have no reason to think life is actually that special, two different ways.
First, and more speculative, is the “panspermia” hypothesis, which is as yet unproved, but looking more and more possible all the time:
That particular paper describes how the giant dinosaur-killing meteor made an impact at Chicxulub (in Mexico) big enough to splash Earthly life-forms to other star systems, as far as twenty light-years away by now. Well, in South Africa is an even bigger and much older meteor crater known as the “Vredevoort Ring”; stars about a thousand light-years away could have received life-forms from Earth by now, as a result of that impact. And this particular life-form is well-equipped to survive the trip:
Meanwhile, the Galaxy is roughly three times the age of the Sun, so it is possible that life first arose on some other planet ten billion years ago, and eventually made its way to Earth. We do know that life-forms left traces on Earth almost as soon as the just-formed planet had cooled down enough for the oceans to stop boiling.
So, either “abiogenesis” can happen in perhaps half a billion years, or life simply immigrated after a long prior development elsewhere, and typically arrives at habitable planets throughout the Galaxy, almost as soon as they become habitable, with fresh meteoric “vehicles” routinely being sent into interstellar space by events such as Chicxulub, also happening all across the Galaxy.
Update: Evolutionary evidence suggesting life may have existed before the Earth did. (Update ends.)
So, if life is as common as that implies, then, no, it isn’t particularly special…perhaps no more special than a natural-arch rock formation.
Second, the more we study exactly how life works at the molecular level, the more it looks like something that might be called “natural nanotechnology”. There is nothing fundamentally mysterious about it! Not even its complexity is mysterious; it is well-known that in an energy-rich environment, water naturally moves uphill (via evaporation and rainfall), and it is also known that complex things can, at random, become more complex:
As a result of such studies, and other studies about such things as “How does the human brain function?”, and, assuming our technology keeps advancing,
intel.com/ … /moores-law-embedded-technology
we expect to be in a position to, probably within two decades, build machines that would qualify as “intelligent life-forms” in every ordinary sense of both “intelligent” and “life”. They will be able to forage for food and other things:
They will be able to reproduce:
britannica.com/ … /von-Neumann-machine
Also, they will be able to interact with us humans much like we interact with each other:
and they will have “common sense”:
such that if one of them was communicating with you remotely, you won’t be able to figure out that it was an artificial intelligence:
popsci.com/technology/ … /chatbot-posing-13-year-old-wins-largest-ever-turing-test
Such features of artificial intelligence will come to pass partly because we know how to make those features evolve:
Human creativity can be expected to be matched (or perhaps exceeded) by artificial intelligences:
And we will even be able to ensure that they have Free Will, because, while that is something that requires access to utter randomness (thereby precluding “Determinism”), the Universe conveniently makes utter randomess available at the level of Quantum Mechanics:
physique. … /Bell/references/Aspect_Nature.pdf
Wired.com … bells-theorem
So, what exactly is it that makes life –or even intelligent life– “special”? Not the mere say-so of humans, certainly!
Imagine an artificial intelligence able to construct –even mass-produce– a small and limited version of itself, yet possessing the ability to acquire parts and “grow”, such that the small electronic machine eventually becomes another complete and separate artificial intelligence. This small electronic machine would be very much like an unborn human, except that it is seeking parts “in the wild” instead of obtaining them via a womb/placenta.
Let us assume the small machine takes nine months of parts-acquisition to achieve the mental abilities of a newborn human, a couple more years of parts-acquisition to achieve the mental abilities of a human toddler, and perhaps fifteen years after that to become equal to an adult human. That small “growing” electronic machine/life-form is going to be referenced in several parts of the text that follows….
2. “Native American culture mandates that if you kill it, you must eat it. Therefore abortion should be forbidden.” BAD LOGIC, because the second sentence does not necessarily follow from the first, which by itself is a variant of the preceding anti-abortion argument, and seems true enough:
Different cultures have different moral standards, of course, and even for Native Americans, that rule can’t really apply all the time, because when someone kills a tree for firewood or lumber, there is no intention of eating it.
Meanwhile, it is well documented that in New Guinea, various tribal cultures practiced cannibalism, and human flesh was known as “long pig” (because it is claimed to taste like pork).
It is also known that certain animals, like cats, will after giving birth normally eat the afterbirth, which happens to be rich in protein and iron.
Then there is an uncommon sexual fetish known as “vorarephilia”, which is associated with (typically imaginary) cannibalism:
Logically, there appears to be nothing but cultural mores to prevent living humans from eating aborted humans, in alignment with Native American culture. On the other hand, most modern Americans (and peoples of other nations) follow different cultural rules than the Native Americans, such that there is no generic requirement to eat something just because it was killed. For example, flies and mosquitoes may be edible, and they are often killed by humans, but….
Anyway, because the logic doesn’t work, this argument against abortion fails.
3. (Updated) “There is such a thing as a ‘right to life’, and unborn humans have it.” There are two parts to that argument, of which the first fails due to BAD DATA, and the second fails in part because it requires the first to exist.
The notion of “right to life” is a human construct; it does not exist in Nature, as any observer can easily find plenty of life-forms failing to notice any such thing as a “right to life” when they kill and eat other life-forms.
More generically, consider the concepts of the “Law Of The Jungle”, and “an intrinsic property”. If some organism intrinsically had the property of “right to life”, then the Law Of The Jungle would recognize that property, and be affected by that property. Instead, though, the Law Of The Jungle is all about “might makes right” (including trickery-strength; see #7 for more about that) –anything that works to promote survival is acceptable to Mother Nature. NO life-form is exempt from being killed in accordance with the Law Of The Jungle. Logical Conclusion: There Is No Such Thing As An Intrinsic Right To Life.
On the other hand, Nature does offer an origin for the notion of a right to life. It is observed that when two members of the same species fight each other, say for a piece of food, or territory or mates, very often this fight is not carried out “to the death”. One will usually concede to the other, and that other allows the loser to leave the scene, alive.
There is Evolutionary value in that, because it quite simply and directly reduces the overall death rate of members of that species, and thereby enhances the long-term survival of that species. Note, however, that when two members of different species fight for territory (because they directly compete for the same resources in that territory), this fight will almost always be fatal for one of them. An observer can see in this paragraph an origin for “prejudice”.
Humans, by inventing the notion of a right to life, have simply formalized that Natural prejudice of each species, for itself over other species. It is a very useful formalization, because it helps humans to get along with each other. Humans have invented so many ways of making it easy to kill other things, including each other, that, by simply accepting an invented/formalized prejudice, we can better cooperate to do wonderful things, instead of constantly worrying about whether or not one is about to be literally stabbed in the back. (For more details about the invention of “right to life”, see #103.)
Carefully note that Nature does not recognize humanity’s formalized prejudice for itself, its claim of a right to life. Floods and hurricanes and earthquakes (and so on) routinely kill thousands of humans every year. There would never be such a thing as a “man-eating tiger” if humans had an intrinsic right to life. The notion of a right to life is a convenient tool that humans find useful, and nothing more than that.
Next, because “right to life” is what it is, formalized prejudice, it also can be “taken too far” –a little prejudice might be a good thing, but too much prejudice is a bad thing (too much of any good thing is always a bad thing).
One result of humans taking right-to-life-for-themselves too far is the current global population explosion. The word “biomass” is now relevant. In general, the total amount of biomass on Planet Earth is relatively constant. Logically, this means that the more biomass that becomes dedicated as human bodies (and as certain other life-forms needed to feed human bodies), the less biomass there can be for all the remaining life-forms on the planet. As a result, many life-forms have already become extinct, and many others are threatened with extinction, because prejudiced humans grabbed –and are still grabbing– more and more of the world’s limited biomass for themselves and their food sources (and for other things like wooden buildings).
Logically, to the extent that humans think that other life-forms should have some degree of “right to life”, that is the extent to which humanity’s formalized prejudice for itself needs to be restricted. But, in turn, that implies that not all humans should automatically have a full right to life –or perhaps not have any right to life! Any volunteers?
Besides a few suicides, of course not. Well then, there is the legal system, which can specifically remove “right to life” from certain humans, most frequently whenever someone is given a death penalty. In the USA and various other nations, that legal system has also found reason to deny right-to-life to unborn humans. Sure, there are many who oppose that denial. But to base that denial on the mere claim that unborn humans automatically have a right to life, that denial is logically flawed, based on bad data.
4. “Human life is special.” IRRELEVANT, because the Earth is full of organisms as unique in their own way as humans. None are inherently more special than any other. And millions upon millions of species have become extinct over the ages. The Neanderthals may have thought they were special, too, but where are they now? And why do so many “special” humans get killed by purely Natural events every year? It is sheer selfish prejudiced egotism for humans to think they are special, and absolutely nothing more than that.
5. “Human life is intrinsically valuable.” FALSE, because in actual fact there is no such thing as “intrinsic value”. All valuations are associated with “desires” of one sort or another, and different sources of desire lead to different valuations. But an “intrinsic value” is something that would be recognized as such, and equally, by every different source of desire. As an example, a simple microbe might prefer to digest something organic, instead of something inorganic, and so, to the microbe, the organic thing is more valuable. If the inorganic thing had been a diamond, the microbe would still prefer the organic thing.
Meanwhile, unliving things like rocks have no desires at all, and most of the Universe appears to consist of unliving things (like stars). So, another reason there are no intrinsic valuations is simply that the Universe started out lifeless after the Big Bang, and therefore was desire-free.
Therefore, just because humans arbitrarily declare that diamonds are valuable, or human life is valuable, for various specific human purposes, that doesn’t make it intrinsically true, not in the slightest. It is a statement of pure egotistical prejudice, nothing more. As another example, a hungry man-eating tiger doesn’t care one whit what humans think about human life, or what deer think about deer life. Again, intrinsic value is something that should be intrinsically recognizable as such. Well, the only thing that tiger will recognize about a human is “fresh meat value”, insignificantly different from a deer, not “life value”….
6. “Each human life is unique.” IRRELEVANT, because the uniqueness of perhaps 50% of all human conceptions does not keep them from dying of perfectly Natural causes, before birth.
While it might then be argued that that fact merely makes the other 50% even more precious, it can equally be argued that it is extremely easy for most sexually active adults to make more conceptions, each one just as unique. One result is, every time some employer says, “There’s plenty more where you came from!”, the individual uniqueness of even an adult human can easily be totally ignored. Which means that human uniqueness can also be ignored before birth, as happens whenever a woman seeks an abortion.
7. “Raping women into pregnancy, or tricking them into pregnancy, and then running away to continue to ‘sow wild oats’ far and wide, leaving lots of women with the task of raising offspring that carry the valuable and special and unique genes of the perpetrators, is a reason for said perpetrators to oppose abortion.” BAD DATA, because as previously shown, concepts such as “specialness” and “value” and “unique” were examined and found wanting.
The present anti-abortion argument might be considered more evidence for why those concepts are inadequate reasons upon which to base an argument –they are based on opinion, not fact. But there is more material to cover here, than just that.
While never seen in formal Abortion Debates, the present argument does exist “in the wild”, mostly in pornographic literature. Perhaps some male abortion opponents actually (and very silently!) do agree with it. Certainly it is known that many women have indeed suffered from men who ran away after tricking them into becoming pregnant, and it is also known a significant percentage of men are willing to commit rape if they thought they could get away with it:
Next, it is also widely known that pregnancy can be one of the consequences of rape. While rape is generally considered to be a crime of violence, that doesn’t change the basic fact that it gives the rapist an opportunity to pass genes on to the next generation.
Consider the “Law of the Jungle”, which is usually defined as, “Whatever works to promote survival is acceptable.” It could also be simplified a bit, into “Might makes right” –provided the definition of “might” is broadened to include such things as “mental might” and “trickery might” and so on, not just/only “physical might”.
Meanwhile, there is also a concept known as the “selfish gene”:
According to that concept, the only purpose of human life is to pass genes on to future generations, and almost nothing else matters at all (well, survival, from zygote to breeding adult, is kind of important, too).
From the preceding information it may be possible to deduce that, since rape has long been a successful tactic for passing human genes on, there could be an actual gene-based tendency, predilection, or influence, toward committing rape –and also for accepting rape, else there would never have arisen the ancient maxim, “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”
Basically, per the Law of the Jungle, whatever works, for selfish genes to survive and to pass themselves on to the next generation, is acceptable to Nature. Well, Evolutionarily speaking, it is known that because sex is pleasurable it increases the chance that sexual activities will occur, and consequently reproduction can likewise have an increased chance of happening –passing on the genes that make sex pleasurable.
Logically, as indicated above, it makes sense that the success of rape as a reproductive tactic could be associated with certain genes that increase the chance that rape activities will occur, so that reproduction can likewise have an increased chance of happening. Equally logically, even the trick-her-and-run tactic may have some genetic influences behind it.
Modern human societies reject rape, and frown severely upon the trick-her-and-run tactic. Culprits are punished, but always only after they have at least had a chance to pass those influencing genes onto the next generation. If the human species really wants to eliminate those two reproductive tactics altogether, then the most logical way to do it is to never, ever allow either rape or trickery to be a successful reproductive tactic.
Unfortunately, that would entail two concepts that are socially repugnant, even to people who strongly support legalized abortion. First, mandatory abortions would be required, for every pregnancy preceded by rape or trickery. And second, this sort of thing falls under the general umbrella of “eugenics”.
As it happens, rape is already very often an acceptable reason, even to most opponents, for abortions to be done. Trickery might be another acceptable reason (more on this later; there is another side to this issue). And the purpose of this document is to expose the flaws in all anti-abortion arguments, not to actually promote abortion.
8. “Personhood obviously begins at conception because, if you consider the question, ‘When did your life begin?’, then where would you be if it had been aborted?” BAD DATA, again –that is, this argument fails because it includes a faulty premise about “life”, and confuses it with “personhood”.
First, there are different types of “life”. There is biological life, of course, but one day in the not-distant future there could be machine-life, too. Then there is the phrase “get a life!” which refers to something else altogether. And here is a cartoon presenting yet-another definition:
There are other and similarly-facetious definitions, of course, which need not be mentioned here.
The question “When did your life begin?” brings up the concept of “I”, an entity who might offer an answer to that question. So, when does an “I” begin? What exactly is an “I”? Consider these concepts: “body”, “mind”, “spirit”, “ego”, “superego”, and “id”. Some of those items may overlap in meaning, but the average walking human is often claimed to be associated with all those concepts, related to “I”.
Let us examine some of them more closely. In recent years it was discovered that the average “physical human body” is actually composed of something like 9% human cells and 90% bacterial cells. They mostly co-exist symbiotically, needing each other to survive, as a sort-of overall “society of organisms”, or even an “ecosystem”.
Scientific American: The Ultimate Social Network.pdf
The human-cell portion of that ecosystem begins to exist at conception; it is certainly a living organism. The womb is a fairly sterile environment, so this part of the overall (future) body grows alone, until birth. After birth, through such agencies as simple exposure to the real-world environment, and certain key things like mother’s milk, the next phase begins, of a physical human life. It starts entering into symbiosis with essential bacteria, becoming a full ecosystem of mutually beneficial organisms. After the process completes, the extremely small bacterial cells will outnumber the large human cells by about ten to one.
Abortion opponents may now have a dilemma, even without examining other aspects of a “human life”. Did it really begin at conception, if such a crucial-for-its-existence part of it, 90% of its cells, even though none of them are human(!), don’t get involved until after birth (and when did that 90% begin to exist, anyhow?)???
Then there is “twinning”, which poses an additional problem. The details of how twinning happens were discovered in the 20th Century, and, basically, a few days after conception, a single human organism might split to become identical twins –or even identical triplets.
Well, since identical twins/triplets simply don’t physically exist as individuals until days after conception, exactly when should it be claimed that “life” began for just one of them?
A completely new factor, in the description of “human life”, was discovered a couple decades ago. An extremely relevant video documentary about this is presented at intervals on the “Discovery Health Channel”, titled, “I Am My Own Twin” (and sometimes appears elsewhere under the name “The Twin Inside Me”).
It turns out that when fraternal twins are conceived (two completely separate egg-fertilizations), the resulting organisms don’t always stay separate. It is possible for them to merge together, to “jointly as a team” construct a single overall and often fairly ordinary-looking human body. The brain might be constructed by one member of the team; the heart might be constructed by the other member of the team. And so on.
This process is called “chimerism”, and it is basically just another variation on the theme of a “society of organisms”. The relevant fact here is, the merging of the two original organisms occurs several days after conception, much like the formation of identical twins/triplets. When exactly do we say that this chimeric human life began? The two conceptions might have occurred hours apart!
Moving on, let’s examine another concept. The human mind develops differently from the body, and it is our minds that have allowed us to become the top predator of this planet, to an extent never equaled by any prior species here. Not only do we consume a vast variety of other animal species, from bugs to whales, we also consume mountains and forests and rivers! For many who support abortion rights, the human mind is what qualifies us as persons; the body is just a “vehicle” for the mind (and your eyes are equivalent to twin windshields of that vehicle, through which you see stuff). The mind is certainly more closely associated than the body, with the concept of “I”, since it is the mind that must construct the answer to “When did your life begin?”.
Well, when does that “I” begin to exist? This question now presents a dilemma to abortion-rights supporters, since it doesn’t seem to have an exact answer, partly because some things are still unknown, about the full definition of what an “I” is. It is claimed that basic brain activity begins in an unborn human at about 6-8 weeks after conception; this activity is associated with low-level stuff like the heartbeat, and little else. Some higher-level brain activities may begin about 22-24 weeks. Or does it really happen that way?
Well, regardless, the overall type and magnitude of those brain activities are easily exceeded by many ordinary animals. If we were to declare that an unborn human is a person because of that level of brain activity, then animals like frogs and rabbits should be declared to be persons, too. Maybe even certain insects would qualify, such as an adult praying mantis. (Have you ever looked closely into the non-faceted eyes of one? That bug is aware!)
The fact is, a human typically does not begin to exceed most ordinary animals in terms of brain activity until about a year after birth. The “I” grows so smoothly from such a minimal start that nobody knows how to specify what its most relevant “beginning” really is.
One thing that might offer a clue involves not just “awareness” but “self-awareness”. If we choose to expect that the “I” capable of answering the “when did your life begin?” Question must be self-aware, then we have an actual Test for detecting self-awareness. This test is commonly known as the “mirror test” or “rouge test”, and the evidence indicates that humans do not acquire the ability to pass that test until about 18 months after birth, well beyond any consideration of an association of a self-aware “I” with an unborn human!
Update: Another thing that might offer a clue involves the learning of language and other things exhibited by persons (see #10 for more details than will be presented here). Language (and also mathematical proofs) requires an ability to creatively manipulate abstractions. This is an aspect of human brain development that is not automatic, and only happens well after birth (like the continued growth of the cerebral cortex happens regardless of the environment in which a human is raised, so long as that human survives). Furthermore, a particular type of Nurturing is required, for that particular brain-development to happen. That means it is fundamentally independent of the overall process of continuous growth of a human’s body, which began at conception. And no “I” can express an answer to the “When did you begin to exist?” question, without being able to creatively manipulate abstractions. (Update ends.)
Finally, about the “spirit”. There are different definitions for that, just as there are different meanings for “life”. Here the “soul” definition will be used; this document is not going to shy away from Religious concepts. That’s because even those concepts don’t lead to valid logical self-consistent arguments against abortion; those concepts are mostly used for nothing more than illogical claims.
Update: Since this was originally posted, it has become apparent that more than one definition of “soul” is used by different abortion opponents, and it happens that one of those definitions has been disproved by Science. For thousands of years it was thought that living matter was somehow fundamentally different from non-living matter. Souls were associated with a kind of “life force” that kept living things alive. This notion is called “vitalism”. However, in 1828 chemists working with purely inorganic matter managed to synthesize a particular compound, urea, that was only previously known to be produced by living things. Since then, chemists have shown that every organic compound in any living thing can be synthesized by means independent of living things. A living thing may be much more complicated than, say, a battery-powered watch, but it is exactly equivalent in the sense of NOT needing any special “life force” to function. Plain ordinary chemical reactions suffice quite nicely. Anyone promoting “vitalism” these days is basically deluded or lying. So, the type of soul that will be referenced here is the type described in such classic works as Dante’s “The Divine Comedy“. (Update ends.)
Well, here’s some actual self-consistent logic, based on at least one actual fact. Anything that can begin to exist as a result of some purely physical process can also be destroyed by some other purely physical process. Meanwhile, souls are supposed to be immortal, immune to physical destruction. Logically, this means it is impossible for a soul to exist as a physical thing, and it cannot begin to exist as a result of some purely physical event, such as a human egg-fertilization/conception. It means that if a soul is to begin to exist, whenever that might be, some sort of non-physical process is required, such as an Act of God.
It is likely that abortion opponents who base their arguments on Religion won’t have a problem with that. However, this next thing is rather different. The Law of Cause and Effect is mostly in charge of the day-to-day workings of the physical Universe. Not God.
Science has discovered that, regardless of whether or not God exists, and regardless of whether or not the Universe was Created, the way the Universe works does not require God to be behind the scenes, consciously manipulating events. Review this previously presented link:
physique. … /Bell/references/Aspect_Nature.pdf
Wired.com … bells-theorem
Because the Law of Cause and Effect exists, God can Rest, letting that Law do all the boring work in the Universe, such as throwing most lighting bolts from one cloudy part of the sky to another cloudy part of the sky, hundreds of times a day on trillions of planets for billions of years.
However, note that that discovery does not prevent God from deliberately doing something-or-other to the Universe on occasion; all the discovery really means is that, from God’s perspective, the Universe is much like a stage play (Shakespeare was right!), with lots of total randomness built into it to make it interesting (mostly via the Free Wills of intelligent beings), and God could just sit back and enjoy the show, if that was all God wanted to do. (And if God decides to throw some equivalent of a water balloon at the stage, giving some planet a Flood, well, by Religions Definition, God has the power to do that, and Science so far can’t say anything about it except “So far that hasn’t happened here“.)
The preceding means that no ordinary human conception requires God to be involved. God might or might not choose to be involved, for example to Cause the Start of Something That Yields a Virgin Birth. However, just because some Religion might claim that God is always involved, for the specific purpose of creating souls at conception, that doesn’t mean that Religion is correct –or even has any real idea of what it is talking about!
Thus, because of the Law of Cause and Effect, DNA is entirely in charge of the process of conception, and also for the later growth process of the resulting “zygote”, not God. And that fact wasn’t known to humans until the 20th Century, well after various Religions had arbitrarily claimed God creates souls at conception, when they also thought God had to be involved to make a conception happen in the first place –but God, of course, knew the real facts, regarding the Law of Cause and Effect, all along.
It is understandable that Religions made that claim about souls, to explain various then-unknown things, such as the physical activity of an unborn human in a womb (which turns out to have the Evolution-based purely instinctive purpose of encouraging bones to strengthen in a reduced-gravity environment; ask any astronaut).
Previously, centuries earlier, Religions had made other claims (“The Earth is at the center of Creation”; “God is directly influencing most day-to-day events”) to similarly explain various other unknown things.
However, when Science proves that such claims are wrong, or unnecessary, then Religions need to stop spouting nonsense. All they do is look stupid, and lose devout membership. They were definitely wrong about the Earth and day-to-day events such as lightning, and because Religions refused to admit it for a long time, they were also proved stupid, and they did indeed lose a lot of devout membership.
Meanwhile, Religions claim that the soul is the source of Free Will for a human, that it is the most important aspect of a person, and is intimately associated with the concept of “I”. This is the primary reason why, by claiming that unborn humans have souls, Religions conclude that unborn humans also qualify as persons.
On the other hand, the conclusion has a weakness. What if it can be shown that the idea, of unborn humans having souls, makes no sense? Why should the claim be believed, then? And why should unborn humans be called persons, then?
So let’s start with DNA and the Law of Cause and Effect, which are in charge of growth in a womb –what does an unborn human need Free Will for? The claim (and, logically, the conclusion) goes against fact!
Then there is that other fact, previously mentioned (#6), about 50% of conceptions failing to survive until birth –and God most certainly knows that. Furthermore, God has direct access to the DNA, and can “read” the genetic code, and will know exactly which zygotes will die from fatally flawed code. Religions claim God is smart, so why would a smart God make souls for known-to-be-doomed zygotes (what do they need souls for)? A better question might be, why are Religions so stupid as to make claims that are so obviously inconsistent with each other, that God is smart, but makes souls as automatically as a mindless machine, just because human conceptions occur?!? Far more likely is the probability that human preachers invented the claim out of sheer prejudiced egotism.
Next, recall the “twinning” problem. Imagine God creating a soul for a zygote at conception, but a few days later the organism splits into triplets. Since souls are immune to merely physical events, this means only one of the three will have a soul, that God has to “come back” to the scene to create two more souls. On the other hand, God is supposed to be smart and knowledgeable. If God knows in advance that there will be triplets–or even that there might be triplets– then isn’t the smartest thing to do is simply wait for the splitting to happen, before making any of the three souls? Yet this violates the claim that God creates souls at conception! But so what? Religions have been wrong about their claims, before!
And what about those “chimera” humans? They each start with two conceptions, and days later two human organisms merge to work together as a single team/organism, in just one overall human body, without death happening to either original organism –so chimera-humans should have two souls, right? Unless Religion is wrong again, and a smart God doesn’t always create souls at conception, but waits until a better time.
Finally, think about this: If a body is a vehicle for a soul, well, when building an automobile, even we humans are smart enough to not install a driver before the vehicle is ready to be driven –and God is supposed to be lots smarter than us!
There are still other reasons (to be presented later) why it would be dumb for God to do what Religions illogically claim, regarding making souls at conception (the “vehicle” argument isn’t the only one why God might wait the whole time until birth).
In the end, regarding the concept of “I”, when good data such as scientific facts are considered, or when actually-self-consistent Religious claims are thoroughly evaluated, perhaps the most appropriate/relevant word is “gestalt”. If the living “I”, a person, is more than the sum of its parts, then it can’t begin to exist until all the crucial parts are together. And that is why this anti-abortion argument fails; just because the human-DNA part begins to exist at conception, it isn’t more important than the other parts added later, from things having absolutely nothing to do with growth in the womb.
9. “Unborn humans are persons, generically.” FALSE. For proof, just imagine a flying saucer landing in front of you, and an extraterrestrial non-human alien entity emerging and politely asking you for directions to, say the Alpha Centauri star system. You might not know the answer to that question, but would the alien qualify as a person? If so, why? Because whatever generic characteristics that particular non-human possesses, that lets you identify it as a person and not as an unusual type of animal, unborn humans don’t have those characteristics. Measurably animal-level are the minds they do have!
Update: The first crack has formed in the parochial and prejudiced association of “human” with “person”. The utter collapse of that definition is inevitable, just a matter of time. Also, see #100 for an extension of this anti-abortion argument and refutation. (Update ends.)
Regarding those small “growing” electronic machines previously mentioned (#1), the thought-experiment involving them seeks to match their development with the way humans develop. So, even after nine months of parts-acquisitions, these machines would also be merely animal-level in their mental abilities. Not persons, yet. Anyone who has no problem with that, but does have a problem with equating unborn humans to mere animals, is simply exhibiting prejudice.
10. “Personhood is an innate characteristic of the human species; therefore unborn humans are persons.” FALSE. The statement requires supporting evidence which is what, exactly? The fact that some humans exhibit personhood! This logic may appear circular, but it really does matter what order statements are made. So:
A. Traits of personhood are defined.
B. Some humans are observed to exhibit those traits.
C. It is now claimed that personhood is a species-wide characteristic, on the basis of that evidence. If NO humans exhibited traits of personhood, then humans cannot be claimed to possess that characteristic.
D. All humans must now be declared persons, since that characteristic has been claimed to exist species-wide.
A. Traits of serial killers are defined.
B. Some humans are observed to exhibit those traits.
C. It is now claimed that being serial killers is a species-wide characteristic, on the basis of that evidence. If NO humans exhibited traits of serial killers, then humans cannot be claimed to possess that characteristic.
D. All humans must now be declared serial killers, since that characteristic has been claimed to exist species-wide.
ABSURD! In both cases, step C is illogical. And there is no other way to reach step D from step B. The net result is that not all humans can automatically be called serial killers, and not all humans can automatically be called persons.
Update: There actually exists proof that personhood is not an innate characteristic of humans (an unusual thing; it is normally very difficult to “prove a negative”). The proof is as simple as the existence of so-called “feral children“. Basically, there is a sort of “window of opportunity”, during the growth of the human brain, in which it becomes possible to learn things such that certain important unique characteristics of personhood result (like the ability to creatively manipulate abstractions). If those things are not learned, then the result is a human that is just a clever animal, like an octopus or the average gorilla is a clever animal but not a person. Logically, if personhood was actually an innate characteristic of humans, it would be impossible for feral children to exist!
Furthermore(!), we know that personhood is actually an acquired characteristic. This was proved by Koko the Gorilla, who happened to have been raised from infancy by humans, in very much the same way that human children are raised. The key datum is, gorillas are not considered to “innately” possess personhood. Nevertheless, Koko acquired as much personhood as the average human toddler exhibits (only reasonable, since she has about the same amount of brain as a human toddler). So, basically, the normal ways in which humans are raised allows them to acquire personhood, just like happened with Koko. It happens so consistently that the mistaken belief has appeared, regarding “innate personhood”. However, young humans that “miss out” on that normal human raising, much like all other gorillas than Koko, simply become “feral”, clever animals like gorillas. (Update ends.)
Finally, is personhood an innate characteristic of mere electronic machinery, even it if is “growing” machinery that we know can one day achieve person-class mentality? Anyone who says “no” to that question, but also says “yes” for the equivalent question about an unborn human (biological machinery), is simply exhibiting prejudice.
11. “An unborn human is a person because there is no way to determine that it is not a person.” FALSE. The key to proving it involves focusing on the characteristics that non-humans must possess to qualify as persons, and not as mere animals. It would be nice, after all, in the distant future, to avoid misidentifying strange-looking intelligent beings Out There Among The Stars.
For example, just one of the many characteristics of persons is an ability to identify self from “outside” self. While it is not the best thing to test, for reasons that will be obvious, it is an easy test for any organism equipped with a decently working vision system. Basically, many ordinary animals cannot recognize themselves in a mirror (they act like they think it is some other animal that they see, behind glass). Meanwhile, adults of some highly intelligent animal species, such as the chimpanzee, dolphin, and octopus, are very able to recognize themselves in a mirror. Most humans can also, of course –except that very young humans cannot.
Their brains haven’t grown the capacity for self-recognition, even six months after birth. Logically, this means that unborn humans, with even-less-developed brains, don’t have that capacity, either. Similarly, for any/all other species-independent characteristics of personhood that can be tested, very young humans fail to pass those tests, and so less-developed unborn humans will obviously fail them, also. And that small “growing” electronic machine will also fail this test after only a year of parts-acquisition, per the conditions of the thought-experiment.
Update: This anti-abortion argument and its refutation are greatly extended in #100. (Update ends.)
12. “Personhood is associated with the human body, and since unborn humans have human bodies, they are persons.” FALSE, the proof beginning by imagining a future scenario in which certain medical technologies, now under development, are perfected. The primary relevant technology is called “regeneration”; they are working on ways to encourage a human body that has lost a limb in an accident to grow a new one.
So let us imagine a horrible accident in which someone literally loses his head (decapitation), but rescue workers are able to arrive before brain-death occurs. Well, the head is on the floor over here, and the body is on the floor over there. If we put the body into the regeneration vat, it will be able to grow a new head. If we put the head into the vat, it will be able to grow a new body. So, which part do the rescuers put into a regeneration vat, to save the person? Per the known Scientific Facts, personhood is associated with minds, not bodies, and the mind of a human person is always associated with the brain, which is in the head.
Note that this also explains why, for various humans who are on full medical artificial life-support, and have been verified to be “brain dead”, the “plug” is allowed to be pulled. In those cases, the persons are dead, even if the bodies survive. Meanwhile, measurably animal-level are the minds that unborn humans have!
Likewise, the artificial-intelligence mind of that small “growing” electronic machine is not in the parts of its body that move about and make acquisitions and process that stuff to do such things as generate energy; its mind is in its electronic brain, of course.
13. “Abortion might kill an Einstein.” UNBALANCED, since abortion might kill a Hitler. The two possibilities cancel each other out, leaving this argument Neutral, with respect to the Overall Abortion Debate. More, it hints how any other anti-abortion argument based on “human potential” is also flawed.
14. “Human minds are special, so when brain activity begins, that is when personhood begins.” PARTLY IRRELEVANT AND PARTLY FALSE. The special-ness of a human mind, such as might be exhibited by the average human walking about, is not something possessed by an unborn human. The amount and type of brain activity it has, even just before birth, is purely animal-level, nothing more. And, how special they might become after birth is a matter of “potential”, a flawed concept.
This is another reason why that small “growing” electronic machine keeps getting mentioned (#1). Until it has acquired enough electronic brainpower to qualify as a person, hardly any technology-geeks on Earth would hesitate if told they could each have one of those machines, to disassemble for lots of cool parts, thereby “killing” it. Because it was just an animal-level machine. So, once again it is prejudice that gets exhibited whenever someone complains about killing an equally animal-level human, which has biological machinery instead of electronic machinery.
15. “Unborn humans have capacities that ordinary animals lack.” FALSE, because this is like saying half-dollar coins can be stuffed into a coin-roll constructed to hold dimes. That smaller coin-roll has a strictly limited capacity, and so do unborn humans. The concept of “capacity” is directly related to something that exists right now. An unborn human does not “right now” possess the capacity to be a person-class being. Of course, as time passes, the capacities of unborn humans can grow –especially after birth– to indeed exceed the capacities of ordinary animals. So we are actually talking about “potential”, not “capacity”. Therefore the “as time passes” thing is irrelevant to the Overall Abortion Debate (because the humans being aborted do NOT exceed ordinary-animal capacities); see above, regarding “human potential” and “human minds”. (NOTE: there are “stronger” versions of this anti-abortion argument that will have their faults exposed later, in #28 and #59. Also, for a more detailed explanation about “capacity”, see #114.35)
16. “Unborn humans are equivalent to ordinary humans who might be asleep or in a coma, because eventually they can wake up and act like persons.” FALSE. The lie here is to equate “potential” abilities with “actual” abilities. That is, the average sleeping or comatose human has certain already-existing abilities that simply aren’t getting used during sleep/coma. (Does a professional boxer become a ex-boxer just by taking a nap? If during sleep abilities can be claimed to only potentially exist, then it should be impossible to ever exercise the ability to wake up!) The unborn human only has potential ability; it utterly lacks actual person-class abilities, and won’t have them until it grows enough brain-power to accommodate those abilities.
Now consider that in the distant-enough future an average individual person will probably experience death. At that time, then, the person will exhibit the traits of a corpse. Well, if we can claim an unborn human should be treated as a person now because in the future it will exhibit the traits of a person, then why shouldn’t all abortion opponents be treated as corpses right now, because in the far-enough future they will all exhibit the traits of corpses? Since there’s too many of them to embalm all at once, the simplest thing to do is just round them up and — only because their own logic declares them to be equivalent of dead — bury them in mass graves just as they are!
Well, let us first kindly give them a chance to recant that idiotic logic, before any such burials occur…. Meanwhile, measurably animal-level are the minds that all unborn humans currently have!
Update: Certains aspects of the preceding, and other points made throughout this document, appear to have been independently stated in this linked article.
For more about comparing coma victims with unborn humans, see the Update section of #112.
There is an alternate way of stating the claim that abilities might as well not exist during sleep or coma (called “the episodic problem”), which puts even more focus on the using of the ability. But the Fact is, the ability to use an ability is not as important as the ability that might or might not get used.
As an analogy, let’s consider a time, perhaps a thousand years ago, when the usual way to decide whether or not someone had died was to note that breathing had stopped. (They didn’t switch to heartbeat-stopping as an indicator until much more recently.) So, in those days, all you had to do, to pretend you were dead, was hold your breath.
By the “coma criteria”, the lack of exhibiting a function means that the function doesn’t exist. Therefore, in that past time, if an abortion opponent encountered some guy holding his breath, the abortion opponent would pronounce him to be dead. And, after the guy decides to start breathing again, the abortion opponent gets to look as foolish as the abortion opponent’s “coma criteria”.
Moving forward to the era in which heartbeats were tied to life, the abortion opponent would think that by encountering someone whose heart had stopped beating, then that person was dead. Nevertheless, the abortion opponent can still be revealed as foolish. Our “victim” might have a secret trusty partner helping him do the fooling (and who would have to know how to re-start a heartbeat before brain-death occurs).
–and at least one person could have fooled the abortion opponent all by himself, and (this linked page isn’t clear about it) might even have been able to fool a modern brain-wave test for death. (Update ends.)
17. “Unborn humans are human beings.” PROPAGANDA, a distortion and/or mis-use of the language. The word “being” has a number of definitions, one of which relates to “existence”. So, in that sense, because an unborn human exists, it would qualify as a “human being”. However, likewise so would a radish plant qualify as a “radish being”. But since that latter phrase is not normally used in casual conversations, it logically follows that in those conversations, which so frequently include the phrase “human being”, the word “being” refers to something other than “existence”. The actual relevant definition can be inferred from other phrases that are used from time to time: “intelligent being”, “extraterrestrial being”, “alien being”. The word “being” is simply a synonym for “person”.
Since a radish plant is not a person, that is why the phrase “radish being” does not get used in ordinary conversations. Likewise, because ordinary animals are also nonpersons, that is why we don’t use phrases like “rabbit being” or “bacterium being” in typical conversations. So, if an abortion opponent wants to claim that the word “being” only means “exists” in the phrase “human being”, then that abortion opponent should be willing to prove it by always using “being” when talking about rocks and trees and houses and roads and …. Otherwise, the propaganda becomes utterly obvious; abortion opponents are claiming that an unborn human qualifies as a person, without offering any evidence other than the label “being”. Meanwhile, measurably animal-level are the minds that unborn humans do have! (How often do you encounter the phrase “fetus being”?)
Update: See #100 for a significant extension of this anti-abortion argument and refutation. (Update ends.)
Meanwhile, True Artificial Intelligences, when they eventually begin to exist, will qualify as “machine beings”, even though their offspring, those small “growing” electronic machines previously mentioned (#1), won’t qualify as persons until after many months of acquiring parts. Abortion opponents had better start getting used to the concept of “machine beings”!
18. “Any uncertainty regarding the personhood of an unborn human means that we should err on the side of assuming that it has it.” WHAT UNCERTAINTY? Just because abortion opponents try to create uncertainty about personhood, by invoking prejudice, or spouting bad data and propaganda, that doesn’t make their anti-abortion arguments valid –not to the slightest degree.
19. “Abortion is immoral.” IRRELEVANT, because morals are arbitrary. Some cultures consider eating pork to be immoral, while others don’t. Some say nudity is immoral; others say it is “often seen and seldom noticed”. Likewise, some cultures consider abortion to be immoral, while others don’t. The unsupported opinions of one group do not deserve to be arbitrarily forced upon other groups, else all groups might end up with something truly ridiculous, perhaps “The middle toe must be removed from each foot”.
Not to mention, how many abortion opponents will consider it immoral to dismantle one of those small “growing” electronic machines previously mentioned (#1)? It may be appropriate to once again use the word “prejudice”.
20. “Facts that disqualify unborn humans from personhood also disqualify newborns from personhood, and therefore infanticide should be moral.” IRRELEVANT, for at least two reasons. First, it has nothing to do with providing a reason to prohibit the abortion of unborn humans, all of which fail to qualify as persons.
Second, “morals” are decided by cultures, for reasons that those cultures find acceptable. So, in ancient Rome it was perfectly normal/moral for physically deformed newborns to be allowed to die of exposure/neglect –and this didn’t appreciably affect the ability of the Romans to conquer every place they could reach. In our current American culture, personhood is a legal definition, and encompasses such things as business corporations, not just humans. That legal system currently grants legal personhood to newborn humans, in ignorance of the scientific facts of the matter.
That ignorance is probably excusable, since the Laws were written before all the relevant facts were discovered. Now it would certainly be possible to adjust the Law, one way or the other. It could be adjusted to become aligned with the scientific facts, to make infanticide of very young infants generally legal –but extremely few in the nation seek to do that. Or, the Law could be adjusted to include unborn humans in the definition of “person”, and certainly very many in the nation seek to do that.
However, that latter goal is not an intelligent thing to do, since it outright-denies the scientific facts. Indeed, there are interesting Questions, “How is personhood, which includes intelligent behavior as one of its generic characteristics, being exhibited by abortion opponents who stupidly deny scientific facts?” and “Are they really as equivalent-to-dead as their own logic indicates?”
Update: It should be noted that if the Science indicates that infanticide might be allowable, then it most certainly also indicates that very-late-term abortions should also be allowable. So, think about that for a moment. Today we have technologies that let us inspect the unborn, and those technologies are only going to improve with time. Logically, if some sort of physical defect could be used as an excuse for infanticide, that defect could be detected before birth, and a late-term abortion could be performed instead.
Next, if there was an easing of the rules allowing adoptions, then just about any post-natal rationale for infanticide could instead be turned into a rationale for letting the infant be adopted. Between the two notions, there would be very little reason for anyone to ever want to commit infanticide –and so there is no need to change the Law to allow it.
Finally, consider those post-natal humans which have developmental problems such that they exhibit a severe mental handicap. Per the Objective Generic Scientific Data, they can no more qualify as “persons” than any unborn human or ordinary animal, even though the Law arbitrarily grants person status to all post-natal humans. It can be years after birth before severe mental handicaps become notice-able, such that the word “infanticide” could not possibly apply if they were killed. Note that one known human might have needed a full century to develop the characteristics that most humans do in about three years (but nobody knows for sure). In general, though, the main fact regarding such seriously handicapped humans is that they are unable to care for themselves –if they are not pampered like pets, they will die. It might now be considered “interesting” that pets do have certain Legal protections…for more about this, see #103. (Update ends.)
21. “The Biblical Sixth Commandment forbids murder, and thereby also forbids abortion.” FALSE –not the first part, but the second. Murder involves the killing of a person, and unborn humans don’t qualify as persons. (Meanwhile, it might indeed be a violation of that Commandment, murder, to kill a frightful-looking non-human that was merely walking down the ramp of a just-landed flying saucer.)
Therefore, abortion, which kills an unborn human non-being/non-person, is exactly equivalent to killing any other type of ordinary non-being/non-person animal. Any objection based on the human-ness of the unborn is strictly and purely worthless/stupid selfish egotistical prejudice, on the part of the objector. And this time it wasn’t even necessary to mention the word “machine”!
22. “Children are a gift from God.” GENERALLY FALSE. The physical Universe operates primarily under the Law of Cause and Effect. God is not part of its ordinary day-to-day operation, as proved by the invention of the lightning rod:
Likewise, children are usually another possible-but-uncertain result of the Law of Cause and Effect (described in more detail later); God is no more necessary than a petri dish, for sperm to fertilize egg.
Now, this is not to say that God never even occasionally Acts to give someone the gift of a child. However, since God isn’t an idiot, it is extremely unlikely that anyone being given that direct-from-God gift will be someone who afterward would seek an abortion, and, besides, in a classic story, wasn’t the Virgin Mary specifically asked for permission, before she became pregnant?
Nevertheless, in the vast majority of pregnancies, God is not involved in the process of conception, simply because God doesn’t need to be involved. That’s just the way the Universe works (or was Created to work, if you want to put it that way).
23. “Unborn humans are persons because God gives them souls at conception.” GOD IS NOT THAT STUPID. Some flaws in that argument have been previously presented in this document (#8); here an expansion can be done, because of additional relevant concepts introduced between there and here.
“What do zygotes with fatally flawed DNA need souls for?” has already been mentioned (#8). Something different is based on psychological studies known as “sensory deprivation experiments”:
God knows all about “sensory deprivation”, of course, and how it can cause someone to start going insane after only a week. Well, a soul locked into a new zygote is exactly in a sensory-deprivation environment, isolated and lonely, and will be unable to experience any senses for months (the sense organs have to grow, first!).
Religions knew nothing about sensory deprivation experiments when they arbitrarily Pronounced that God creates souls at conception. But since God is supposed to be smart and knowledgeable and Loving, why should anyone think that God is going to inflict that horrible thing, months of sensory deprivation, on new/innocent souls?
Update: It has been pointed out that young children appear more able to see things like “ghosts” (loose souls?) than adults. This implies that the souls of children are not so “locked up” in sensory-deprivation as the present argument would indicate. That is, if a soul became associated with a human organism at conception, it would still be able to interact with other souls. So, now imagine being in jail with communication privileges; in terms of doing some physical thing or other, the soul is still completely immobilized in a body being automatically constructed in accordance with the instructions in its DNA. How does such a situation benefit either the soul or the body? And why would God think that a new/innocent soul deserved to experience such a situation? (Update ends.)
The notion of a Loving God directly relates to the Overall Abortion Debate. Compare a woman, fully ensouled, to a just-fertilized ovum. The zygote won’t have a soul until God creates one for it. Before God exercises Free Will and creates that soul, is there any reason why God should love the zygote more than, or even as much as, the woman? Since God does not stupidly confuse “potential person” with “actual person”, the answer should be obvious.
Next, if that woman becomes pregnant, then God will know the exact probability that that woman might seek an abortion, and may just plain know, due to sheer omniscience. If we assume that God knows the woman will get an abortion, then see the logic:
A. If God gives the zygote a soul, then the abortion will be murder, and the woman can be condemned by God.
B. If God doesn’t give the zygote a soul, then the abortion will not be murder, and God has no problem with the woman.
C. Therefore, if a murderous abortion occurs, it occurs partly due God’s Choice to create a soul, while knowing an abortion would be done!
Basically, Item A violates the fundamental claim that God is Loving. That is, a Loving God is not going to create a soul for a new zygote, just so the woman can be condemned when she aborts an unwanted pregnancy!
Thus the fundamental inconsistency in Religion-based anti-abortion arguments is revealed. If God is Smart and Omniscient and Loving, then God isn’t going to be part of deliberately putting people into situations where they must be condemned.
It is now appropriate to speculate about machines having souls. In a purely secular argument, the topic wouldn’t arise; the ability for either biology or machinery to tap into the total randomness of Quantum Mechanics, to allow Free Will to exist, makes souls unnecessary, since the Religious Dogma is that the main purpose of a soul is to provide Free Will in humans, and having a soul is related to the Essence of Personhood.
Can the two notions be reconciled? Perhaps. One of the key things about Quantum Mechanics is that it is full of probabilities, and it happens that there are ways to manipulate at least some of those probabilities.
Suppose that a soul specializes in manipulating the probabilities associated with Quantum Mechanics. In this way a soul could send signals though certain appropriately-tiny natural biological structures in human brain cells, which are sensitive to Quantum Randomness, and thereby influence the overall actions of a human body.
Well, as it happens, in the current quest to develop True Artificial Intelligence, things that we learn about how the human brain works are being copied into electronic hardware.
zdnet.co.uk/news/ … /ibm-neuron-chips-mimic-brain-processing
Logically, if we specifically include Quantum-Mechanical “taps”, to allow access to total randomness, consistent with the purely secular notion of where Free Will could come from, then in theory an actual soul could use those taps in the same way it uses equivalent natural brain-cell structures. There actually wouldn’t be a reason why a True Artificial Intelligence couldn’t have a genuine God-created soul! The only question now is, “When might it be given one?…”
24. “Abortion is dangerous.” EXAGGERATION. Abortion can be very dangerous when performed by an amateur with makeshift tools in a society where it is illegal; abortion is seldom dangerous when performed by a well-educated professional with tools specially designed for the task, in a society where it is legal. Meanwhile, birth is sometimes dangerous, also, in all societies, and may even be more dangerous than abortion.
<a href="http://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/004.htmAll pregnant women are at risk for complications.
Since the fact that birth can be dangerous doesn’t stop many many women from carrying pregnancies to term, the fact that abortion is occasionally dangerous doesn’t stop some women from seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Nor should it.
25. “Abortion encourages discrimination against handicapped unborn humans.” IRRELEVANT. Unborn humans are animal bodies with animal-class minds, as all the scientific evidence indicates, and humans have been killing defective animals for millennia. There is also an issue involving “compassion”. Lacking it are the abortion opponents, who basically say (without even realizing it), “We want this defective human body to be born, just so that, after it becomes part of a person, it can suffer a (possibly short) lifetime of terrible inconvenience.” Meanwhile, the compassionate abortion proponents basically say, “No human being should have to learn, after birth and almost before anything else, how much richer life could be, if only he or she had a fully healthy body.”
26. “Terms such as ‘embryo’ and ‘fetus’ are de-humanizing.” IRRELEVANT. This document specifically avoids using those terms as much as possible, and still all anti-abortion arguments fail to withstand close scrutiny. Meanwhile, a white blood cell is exactly as fully human as a just-fertilized ovum, yet nobody mourns when hundreds of white blood cells die after a paper-cut causes minor bleeding. It takes much more than mere “human-ness” for an organism to qualify as a person! Indeed, if you want to associate souls with personhood, you can entirely exclude human-ness altogether. An extraterrestrial alien person can in theory have a soul and be most extremely non-human, after all!
27. “Unborn humans are innocent.” FALSE. Consider the crime of “manslaughter”. One need not have any intent whatsoever to commit that crime to be declared guilty of it, after the fact (provided that it was indeed a fact). Similarly, an unborn human is guilty of committing assault, at least three different ways: First, it sucks someone else’s blood like a vampire; second, it dumps toxic biowaste products into someone else’s blood –worse than a vampire!; and third, it infuses addictive drugs into someone else’s blood, like the very worst sort of drug pusher. The drugs are “HCG” and “progesterone”; the withdrawal symptoms are known as “postpartum depression”.
womenshealth.gov/ … /depression-pregnancy
Update: See #98.1 for a fourth type of assault. Note that in fictitious works about vampires, just the assault of unwanted blood-sucking suffices to give vampires, full person-class-beings, a death sentence. And unborn humans are mere mindless animals! Thus in the case of unwanted blood-sucking, it doesn’t matter if an unborn human is as mindless as a typical parasite, or as mindful as a fictional vampire; the classic penalty for that action is death.
For another point of consideration, note the distinction that the Law makes between adult criminals and juvenile criminals. It is claimed that the juveniles deserve some leniency because they supposedly don’t fully understand the magnitude/extent of their crimes. Abortion opponents can be expected to expound upon that, when trying to refute this anti-abortion Refutation. Unborn humans, after all, have no understanding at all of what they are doing. They are exactly/only animals. Yet abortion opponents still claim unborn humans should be treated like persons, despite acting purely like mere animals. The Stupid Hypocrisy should be obvious, of abortion opponents. They cannot have it both ways. And, as the “vampire” perspective above shows, it doesn’t matter, after all. Either way, as persons or as mindless animals, unborn humans are guilty of horrible assaults, for which an accepted penalty is death (because abortion is legal). (Update ends.)
It should be noted that the “placenta” is the tool used by the unborn human, to commit those assaults. Remember that most women experience “morning sickness” in response to the stuff being dumped into her body, as pregnancy begins. While their bodies usually adapt to the assaults, abortion is the only known way to force those assaults to end quickly, when unwanted. Yes, there is an alternative to abortion, “forgiveness”, just as many more-ordinary assaults are forgiven (legal charges are not pressed). But forgiveness is always optional, not mandatory.
Note that the preceding is another reason why God is not so stupid as to put new/innocent souls into unborn humans at conception; in just a few days a soul would become guilty-by-participation of assault, starting when the zygote has passed through the “morula” stage and become a “blastocyst” that implants into a womb. God is not so stupid as to put a soul into the situation where Assault becomes part of its Record for Judgment Day, even before being born!
Note that this can also give us a clue regarding when one of those small “growing” electronic machines might be given a soul. Suppose such a machine invaded the house of an abortion opponent and dismantled all the accessible personal computers in that house for parts, so that it could continue its growth process –this document has previously mentioned “acquiring” parts ((#1)) while carefully ignoring “where”, because now is the place to do that. The abortion opponent could certainly regard such an event as a special sub-type of assault, “vandalism” (which assaults a person’s possessions). If the abortion opponent is non-prejudiced, the assault must be accepted as a necessary price for irrationally believing that an animal-class entity should be considered a person.
Meanwhile, God understands the situation, so if God isn’t going to create a soul under conditions that link it to biological assault, then God isn’t going to do it for a vandalizing machine, either. In which case, of course, the abortion opponent can destroy the soulless potential machine being, and also stop opposing abortion of equally soulless unborn humans! IF there is no prejudice involved, of course.
Finally, there is another and totally different relevant thing that can now be mentioned. Evolutionary biologists know that there are two major reproductive strategies followed by the majority of sexually-reproducing organisms in nature, called “R strategy” and “K strategy” (those are the extremes; many gradations exist between them).
Imagine an alien species as intelligent as humanity, but biologically different in that its normal reproductive event yields a thousand offspring at a time. These are quite small and are released “into the wild”, where they will forage for food, and can grow to eventually become persons –except that most of them will die in the process, eaten by other life-forms. (The notion is not far-fetched; right here on Earth the octopus is one of the smartest animals in the ocean, and it is an R-strategist, having 20,000 to 100,000 offspring before it dies.)
Humans are K-strategists; we normally have very few offspring at a time, and give them lots of nurturing and protection. But intelligent R-strategists will care very little about their offspring. Those small “growing” electronic machines previously described were deliberately introduced in terms of R-strategy reproduction, because they can be mass-manufactured by their True Artificial Intelligence “parents”.
As long as two or three biological offspring reach adulthood for each breeding pair of R-strategist adults, no matter how many thousands of their other offspring die, the species can continue to survive. And it should be obvious that the intelligent adults must accept that situation, because anything else is a recipe for an ultra-extreme overpopulation disaster.
The facts about K-strategy reproduction make it completely understandable how humans can object to killing some offspring by abortion. Caring for offspring is built-in! Nevertheless, it is usually very easy even for humans to make more –and to even make more offspring fast enough to end up with an overpopulation problem. Logically, therefore, humanity needs to learn that its natural tendencies to care for offspring can be over-done, and it is that thing, the over-doing of caring for offspring, which must be overcome. Too much of a good thing is always, always a bad thing!
28. “Personhood and right-to-life can be associated with a particular kind of organism, and one of the characteristics of that kind is the ability to actively develop itself the point of qualifying for personhood. From the moment of conception, unborn humans are that kind of entity, and therefore abortion should be forbidden.” BAD DATA, because the argument fails to specify, or to be associated with, all the relevant facts. The biggest problem with this argument is that it applies to intelligent R-strategists as well as K-strategists –and most of the offspring of person-class R-strategists must be allowed to die in the wild, to prevent an ultra-extreme overpopulation disaster.
Note this anti-abortion argument also means –if it was valid, of course– that vast numbers of those small “growing” electronic machines must be allowed to, in essence, dismantle our technological civilization while seeking parts to actively develop themselves to the point of qualifying for personhood.
In simpler terms, this anti-abortion argument fails because it assumes that “Potential must be fulfilled!”, and even tries to hide the fact that it is making that assumption, by invoking the prejudice of “right to life”. Tsk, tsk!
Updates: Review the “update” portion of #10, and think about gorillas having the potential to acquire personhood. There is no outcry regarding insisting that their potential must be fulfilled, and so prejudice is again being exhibited by abortion opponents.
It might be noted that just because most offspring of R-strategists must die, that does not really prove the concept flawed, the concept upon which this segment’s anti-abortion argument is based. For more on a fundamental conceptual flaw, see #114.54. (Updates end.)
29. “There is no significant difference between an unborn human just prior to birth, and a newborn human.” FALSE. The “modus operandi” by which an unborn human survives, up until the moment the umbilical cord is cut, involves committing the assaults described previously (#27). It purely selfishly takes resources. After birth, its “modus operandi” for survival becomes utterly different. It is unable to take anything other than breaths of air; it can only survive over the long term by accepting gifts. This typically includes the gift of being offered a teat full of milk; a newborn has to be carried to the teat, because it is physically unable to go there by itself.
Update: The particular anti-abortion argument being debunked here is sometimes associated with more details, than just the bald claim that a nearly-born human is essentially the same as a recently-born human. The key datum, to abortion opponents, is the viability of preemies. If the umbilicus is cut (see #44) after viability, the organism dies by drowning in amniotic fluid, and it doesn’t matter if it is a preemie or fullterm unborn human. An adult can drown, too, if he was scuba diving and his air hose was cut. The placenta (along with the umbilicus) is viewed as being no more than a temporary lifeline, natural instead of artificial, for the developing human.
Well, simply because some preemies do survive, it logically follows that the average the nearly-born human is probably viable, and could probably survive if removed from the womb at the same time the umbilicus was cut. (If a still-birth would have happened, then the unborn human likely did not actually qualify as “viable”.)
Note: In this part of this refutation, technological assistance for helping preemies to survive is being deliberately excluded. We’ll get back to that later, but most folks in the Overall Abortion Debate know full well that such assistance affects the definition of “viable” (see #42).
Anyway, this more-detailed anti-abortion argument appears to be confusing “potential” with “actual”. The unborn human is actually using its placenta. Near the end of a normal gestation, it can potentially survive without it. But it does not actually survive without it until birth. Preemies basically put the theory, that they are potentially able to survive without a placenta, To The Test.
So, a Question: If most unborn humans are potentially able to survive without a placenta after, say 8-1/2 months of gestation, why aren’t most humans born after 8-1/2 months, instead of after 9? The most reasonable answer appears to be: “They are not ready yet; they have significantly greater odds of survival by waiting those 2 extra weeks.”
That is, of preemies born at 8-1/2 months, and don’t receive technical assistance to survive, what fraction dies? There must be statistics about this, somewhere (not every country HAS the technical assistance to give to preemies).
To more clearly understand the point being developed here, suppose we deliberately induced all pregnancies to end with birth after 8 months of gestation, instead of the normal 9? We can be certain that some fraction of those newborns will die, that would not have died if they had been given that extra month of development in the womb.
That fact is not the point, though. Here: If An Abortion Opponent Thinks That At 8 Months The Unborn Is Equivalent Enough To A Newborn, For Legal Person Status, Then Why Not Deliberately Induce All Pregnancies To End At 8 Months?
That death rate is why abortion opponents wouldn’t do it. We recognize that most human gestations last 9 months because the typical unborn human needs 9 months of gestation time.
Another way to look at the situation is to consider the unborn human organism before it becomes viable. DNA tests clearly show that significant portions of the placenta are part of the overall unborn organism; it is a “vital organ”, just like the heart is a vital organ. It (along with the umbilicus) is not the “natural temporary lifeline” that the more-detailed argument describes –at least not until the fetal portion of the overall unborn organism becomes viable. Well, we all know that different humans develop at different rates, and no one can say for sure exactly when a particular human fetus becomes viable. That’s why some die (are “still-born”) even after 9 months of gestation, to say nothing of larger numbers dying if born after 8-1/2 months or even 8 months of gestation.
Therefore, despite the more-detailed argument regarding “potential”, the actuality is more important. The typical unborn human needs its placenta, period, all the way until a typical birth after 9 months of gestation. Preemies that survive are simply lucky.
And now for “viability” and technical assistance. This is one of those “slippery slope” things. Artificial wombs are actively being researched. Currently such things only qualify as “Science Fiction”. But once perfected, technically assisted viability will begin with conception! While I’m sure abortion opponents have absolutely no problem with that, there is more to that slippery slope!
The word “potential” does not include any degree of magnitude of potential. A potential avalanche could be either tiny, or humongous. Both a zygote and a full-term fetus each have the potential to become a healthy newborn human, but the magnitudes of those potentials are not identical (especially since about 50% of zygotes, conceptions, fail to eventually become confirmed pregnancies). A key fact, though, is that neither the zygote nor the full-term fetus can fulfill its potential without help (the fetus doesn’t claw its way out of the womb; it is pushed out!).
Recognizing that fact leads us to a kind of “third option” in the Overall Abortion Debate. Abortion actively interferes with what an unborn human organism is doing. Prohibiting abortion, however, is not exactly the same thing as insisting that the unborn human receive active help. For example, the drug “RU-486″ can be taken as a “morning after pill”, and it works to make the uterus unable to accept implantation by a blastocyst –the woman would be refusing to provide the help that the unborn human organism is seeking. In an alternate scenario, imagine a woman refusing to help a full-term fetus be born –she might take “muscle relaxant” drugs. Eventually the placenta would detach from the womb and the unborn human would die, because of that refusal to actively help it become born.
We may now conclude that it is very likely abortion opponents must deny that “third option”, and generally insist that help must be actively provided, for the potential of an unborn human organism to be fulfilled. And it is that conclusion that lets us understand the full Slippery Slope. See, modern stem-cell and cloning research has proved that any ordinary human body-cell that happens to contain a full set of human DNA has the potential to become a healthy newborn human. Each such cell is a living thing; all it needs is appropriate help, to fulfill its potential! Well, for any abortion opponent who insists that potential-fulfilling help must be provided, then why shouldn’t that abortion opponent be dissected into more than 30 trillion cells, each of which is given the help, to fulfill its potential, that the abortion opponent insists must be provided?
So, at birth the human is behaving utterly innocently, and this is the logical time for God to give it an equally-innocent soul –because God doesn’t have to do things the stupid/ignorant way, as portrayed by Religions that didn’t have all the facts (e.g., those concerning sensory deprivation or jailed uselesness, and unborn drug-pushing), when making various Pronouncements about God and soul-creation.
Meanwhile no equivalent to birth was described for those small “growing” electronic machines. One simple way to do something equivalent is, after nine months of acquiring parts, the machine displays a preprogrammed-message, “It is now time to stop foraging for parts that are outright-taken. Completion of this project will henceforth depend upon gifts being provided.”
If God was waiting for the machine to achieve a state equivalent to the innocence of a newborn, to give it a soul, that time would then have arrived.
Finally, exactly where along the development process might a member of an intelligent biological species of R-strategists be given a soul by God? Well, at some point the surviving offspring must seek out some adults, in Evolutionary terms originally because there can be more safety in a group, but now primarily in order to learn social skills and other things, such that a culture could be developed, the having of which is another hallmark of persons. It is not unreasonable that they could be given souls at about that group-joining time, no matter what their age might happen to be.
30. “In cultures that subscribe to the idea that souls can ‘reincarnate’, abortion interferes with the long-term growth of a soul.” TEMPORARILY, AT WORST, because souls are immortal. Each of them can afford to wait, for a baby to be born into a family that wants it, to reincarnate. (Keep in mind that in this Religious philosophy, God does not make souls routinely; God would only need to make souls if every soul that wanted to reincarnate had done so, and yet there were more newborns available, awaiting souls.)
31. “Abortion is unethical.” FALSE. Ethics, unlike morals, can avoid being arbitrary, and it avoids arbitrariness by having the specific goal of encouraging people to get along with each other –and even, when possible, to get along with various mere animals, also. A horse, for example, is willing to work for the resources we provide it –that interaction between humans and horses is ethical.
Meanwhile, unborn humans don’t qualify as “people”, and their behavior as animals is utterly selfish; they make no effort whatsoever to “get along” with others. They are basically operating only under the Law of the Jungle (“might makes right”, and their drug-pushing is intended to cause women to like being pregnant). Therefore pregnant women can ethically, if they choose, in turn apply the Law of the Jungle toward unborn humans, and abort unwanted pregnancies.
32. “Abortion gives a woman bad karma.” TEMPORARILY, AT WORST. This anti-abortion argument also is associated with “reincarnation” philosophy. So, logically, if a woman has an abortion in this lifetime, then, afterward, while her soul is waiting to reincarnate –waiting for some specific new baby to be born/available– bad karma can simply mean that that unborn human might get aborted, thereby frustrating the soul. And if the woman had had several abortions during her lifetime, her soul might be frustrated by several future abortions.
Nevertheless, her soul is immortal, and can afford to wait –and wait– for a baby to be born into a family that wants it, to reincarnate. Remember, “patience is a virtue” in more than one Religious philosophy!
33. “An unborn human is a baby or a child.” PROPAGANDA, a distortion and/or mis-use of the language. This particular propaganda is particularly heinous, because it causes a lot of unnecessary emotional suffering whenever a natural miscarriage occurs. The truth is that an unborn human is a “baby under construction” or a “child under construction” (and for more on that word-choice, see #104). (Additional info:) This should be obvious because of the existence of the placenta. It is a Known Fact that after a blastocyst successfully implants into a womb, it begins to specialize itself into two very different “components”. One becomes the embryo, and the other becomes the placenta. Together, those two components, even just before birth, comprise the whole organism. Neither part can survive without the other for most of a pregnancy, and the whole purpose of the “construction project” is to enable the embryo-cum-fetus to survive without an attached placenta. (Additional info mostly ends.) Therefore that (two-part) unborn organism is not equal to the resulting baby or child that appears during a successful birth, as explicitly pointed out with respect to “assault”, earlier (#27).
Furthermore, the construction process is very complex, and is subject to Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” By ignoring those critical facts, and spewing distortions/propaganda instead of the Truth about unborn humans, abortion opponents cause many women to have false hopes and expectations. That is, abortion opponents say “you have a baby” instead of saying, “you have a baby under construction, which is a complex process that might fail to be completed”.
The false hope or false expectation involves the unstated assumption that birth is 100% likely –and its false-ness becomes proved, and hopes and expectations become dashed, when Murphy’s Law strikes and natural miscarriages occur. How dare abortion opponents be that cruel and unethical and immoral, and cause that much emotional suffering, just to attempt to reinforce the measurably and ludicrously false notion that unborn humans qualify as persons! (For a more-extended version of this refutation, see #99.)
Update: Consider how people quite-easily use various words to describe a longish list of physical differences between different humans, such as “male”, “female”, “brunette”, “blonde”, “athletic”, “chubby”, “long-haired”, “bald”, “white”, “black”, “paraplegic”, “quadriplegic”, “healthy”, “ill”, “agile”, “arthritic”, and so on. Here we have a very real physical difference, involving the placenta, between unborn humans and post-natal humans –and we have different words for them: “fetus” for the unborn human, and “baby” or “child” or “infant” for the post-natal human. But abortion opponents exhibit Hypocrisy in freely using all those other physical-distinction words, while propagandistically attempting to get people to ignore that very real physical difference. (Update ends.)
Once again we can mention those small “growing” electronic machines, and the thought-experiment specification that they qualify as “potential beings currently under construction”. Murphy’s Law will absolutely apply to them, also. Will anyone mourn if one of these happens to die from a short-circuit? Then why should anyone mourn if a human miscarriage occurs? Our K-strategy caring-level begins to look like prejudice is part of it!
34. “A woman may have the right to decide what happens to her body, but it is not her body that gets aborted.” IRRELEVANT, because the body that gets aborted is not a person, like a woman is a person. Only an animal gets aborted. Such removal is equivalent to medically removing any other type of unwanted assaulting animal, such as a guinea worm. It is sheer prejudice to think that the human-ness of an unwanted animal assailant makes a difference.
Not to mention, a cancer is another type of human-celled assailant, and almost no-one tries to prevent it from being medically removed. (Note that a cancer, by ignoring the normal “contol system” of the body, essentially becomes an independent organism.) There is also something called a “hydatidiform mole”, which is one of the ways defective DNA and/or Murphy’s Law can cause a conception to go wrong.
It might even be noted that an unborn human is very similar to a cancer or a hydatidiform mole in certain respects: All three are human-celled growths, the woman’s body has no control over the growth of any of them, and all three commit the assaults of taking resources from the woman’s body, and dumping toxic biowaste products into her body.
35. “Because it is not permissible to refuse temporary accommodation for a guest, to protect him or her from physical harm (per, for example, an ice storm), it is not permissible to refuse the temporary accommodation which is a pregnancy.” FALSE, because that argument is about protecting persons, and assumes an unborn human qualifies as a person –which it doesn’t.
36. “Sex causes pregnancy, which forces responsibilities upon the participants.” This has to be divided into two parts, of which the first, “Sex causes pregnancy”, is FALSE. Sex is neither necessary for pregnancy –see “artificial insemination”– nor sufficient for pregnancy –fertility clinics exist because of that. Even when all biological systems are “go”, sex does not directly cause pregnancy.
The immediate result of sex is the possibility (not the certainty) for sperm to encounter an egg. These are living things independent from the participants in the sex act. Sex does not force those independent entities to merge.
discovermagazine.com/1992/jun/theaggressiveegg –what if the egg rejects all its suitors?
Next, if sperm and egg do merge, the result is a “zygote”, which is another independent entity. As soon as it begins dividing it becomes a “morula”, and after 4 or 5 days that in turn becomes a “blastocyst” that attempts to implant in a womb. Because it is an independent organism, the sex act does not force it to implant (and sometimes its attempt fails, anyway). If it succeeds, that is when it begins to be guilty of committing assault (smaller than mosquito-level is this assault; time is required for its assault to grow to vampire-level –and we still swat mosquitoes and other small bloodsuckers almost automatically).
Update: Consider the fact that various couples who want to have children are infertile. There are many reasons why such might be the case, but some of those reasons are related to those independent entities, the sperm and blastocyst. If they fail to perform as expected, then pregnancy cannot happen. Well, if we can assign blame to those intermediary entities, when unwanted reproductive failure happens, we can equally assign blame to them when unwanted reproductive success happens. (Update ends.)
As a result of two stages of “disconnect” via different entities acting independently, between the sex act and pregnancy, there are no particular responsibilities forced upon the participants, if a pregnancy begins. They can deal with it however they choose. (Also, see #85)
37. “The primary purpose of sex is reproduction, so, whenever people have sex and pregnancy results, abortion must be prohibited.” FALSE, because, for humans, the primary purpose of sex is most definitely not reproduction. The simplest proof involves the fact that while females of most other species tend to engage in sex only when they are fertile, human females can indulge in sex almost any time. Humanity would not have Evolved that significant distinction, from other species, if it wasn’t important. So, for humans, the primary purpose of sex is actually something known as “pair bonding”.
helium.com/ … sex-is-for-bonding … why-sex-is-not-for-making-babies
Basically, human infants are so helpless, compared to other newborns, that caring for one severely handicaps the mother. If she can attract long-term assistance, then the chances of survival, for both herself and her child, increase greatly. And it is well known that sex is a powerful attractant. If it happens to have the side-effect of also making more offspring, well, each attracted sex-participant is, theoretically, still right there, helping out, and still enjoying sex.
A participant who practices the trick-her-and-run tactic is taking the risk that his offspring won’t survive due to lack-of-assistance, but he tries to compensate by having lots of offspring –“R-strategy” thinking, basically. As previously mentioned (#7), if a society wants to rid itself of that tactic over the long run, then all it need do is ensure none of any practitioner’s offspring survive, not even until birth! Overall, these things are very simple, very logical, very effective –and very destructive to that argument against abortion.
38. “The womb, and a woman’s body, have natural features that specifically exist to accommodate an unborn human. Thus, each one that implants into a womb has a right to be there, and should not be aborted.” BAD DATA, since that argument ignores the fact that equally-natural miscarriages do occur. Some of them happen so soon after implantation that they are called “late periods” instead of “miscarriages”. Also, there is something known as “Rh-factor rejection”, an incompatibility between the mother’s immune system and the unborn human, that almost always causes a miscarriage, unless modern medical technology is employed to intervene. Such a thing would never happen if that argument was completely valid.
Update: It happens that the phenomenon called “menstruation” is actually rare among placental mammals. It has evolved independently in different species (but not in a large total number of mammalian species). And scientists studying why menstruation evolved find no support for the notion that the human womb is actually a “welcoming” environment for the unborn. (Update ends.)
Also, there exists a completely different mechanism by which a mother’s body might kill an unborn human, “fetal resorption”. This phenomenon is fairly common in kangaroos; when the environment is poor in food, a pregnant kangaroo will literally suck out the life –and body– of its womb-inhabitant, until nothing remains. Other mammals can accomplish fetal resorption as well, including humans (rarely).
ucv.ve/ … /Vitamins_in_Animal_and_Human_Nutrition.pdf
The existence of fetal resorption means one thing that drives at the heart of a significant number of anti-abortion arguments: It is perfectly natural for the unborn to be killed if conditions aren’t adequate for supporting it. And growing humans happen to need more support –especially after birth– than any other species, by a wide margin. Who is best situated to determine whether or not a particular unborn human can be adequately supported? Certainly not the average abortion opponent!
Then there is the fact that a pregnancy is perfectly natural mindless biology in action. Do humans claim subservience to natural mindless biology, or do they claim superiority over natural mindless biology? If subservient, then why are medical procedures from immunizations to heart-bypass surgery tolerated? If subservient, then, whenever you happen to walk near a swamp, and a mosquito flies out to suck your blood, you have no right to swat it!
But if we humans claim superiority over natural mindless biology, then why should any woman be required or even be expected to carry a pregnancy to term? It is pure hypocrisy (and K-strategy prejudice) to think one should be able to take a pill or have an operation, to deal with some unwanted natural-mindless-biological aspect of the body, like cancer — while also thinking that an unwanted/involuntary pregnancy is somehow different than natural/mindless/biological, and requires subservience even if unwanted.
39. “Since sex is voluntary, and is often accompanied with some risk that pregnancy will result, it follows that by choosing to take the risk and engage in sex, the participants are voluntarily accepting the consequences, regardless of how undesirable they might be. Therefore pregnancies should be carried to term, and not aborted.” FALSE, because there are plenty of other situations in which humans choose to do things, and refuse to accept the consequences. In an earthquake zone or a flood plain, for example, people buy insurance so that someone else will have to deal with the consequences!
Also, humans will do things like build dikes in a flood plain, or irrigation canals in a desert, in response to (and refusing to accept) the consequences of having moved there. Then there are people who drink lots of alcohol and ruin their livers, but they can also obtain liver transplants. So, with all that precedent (and much more could be listed), why should sex-and-pregnancy be any different, especially when the unborn human is just an animal, and not a person? K-strategy prejudice, perhaps?
40. “Abortion denies choice to a man who wants to be a father.” AS IT SHOULD, since the father directly contributes very little to a pregnancy. First of all, an ovum outweighs a sperm by about 100,000 times.
While both parents contribute roughly equal quantities of DNA or genetic instructions to a conception, all the biological hardware, the natural nanotechnology responsible for carrying out those instructions, come from the woman’s ovum. And, after the built-in food resources of the ovum are used up, during the “morula” development stage, and the young human organism/blastocyst seeks more resources for further growth, via womb-implantation, all those additional resources will come from the woman, too.
Suppose a woman invested $100,000 of down-payment toward a boat, and some man invested $1. Also, the woman makes all other regular payments, plus extra payments for maintenance and insurance and improvements in the boat, while the man directly contributes nothing. If that man claimed half-ownership of the boat strictly on the basis of his investment, he would be laughed out of court. Therefore, since a man contributes so little to a pregnancy, the man deserves equally-little say in whether or not a pregnancy should be carried to term.
In more practical terms, if a man deserves to be a father, it won’t be because he helped at the start of a pregnancy; it will be because he will be there to more-than-help, he will be there in a major supporting role, for many years afterward –and he will have found some ethical way to convince the woman of that (one example: marriage). Why do abortion opponents so often hypocritically focus on the woman, and not on the man, whose behavior is often a major factor in why the woman seeks an abortion? In other words, if abortion opponents want to really succeed at reducing the abortion rate, they need act more intelligently, and attack all the fundamental causes, not just only the simple fact that an unwanted pregnancy exists. Because that’s not the only factor involved, that leads to abortion, by far!
41. “It was absurd to link a Constitutional right to privacy with legalization of abortion.” IRRELEVANT. That’s because, regardless of the validity of the privacy argument, there are two other and perhaps-much-better Constitutional arguments available. First is the requirement to conduct a Census of all Persons every ten years –and remember, the Constution and Amendments use the word “person” throughout, and don’t use the word “human” even once.. The Founding Fathers were right there in 1790 to specify the Questions that were asked in the very first Census, and which therefore distinguished Persons from non-Persons. The fact is, the Founding Fathers did not count chickens before they hatched, nor did they count Persons before they were born. And NO Census ever since has counted unborn humans as Persons.
Second, Amendment 13 forbids involuntary servitude outside of due process of law. If a woman does not want to be pregnant, and the unborn is not a person, then there is no conflict because an abortion merely kills an animal (which it certainly purely is, in scientific fact). But if the unborn is arbitrarily declared to be a person in spite of the scientific facts, then the unwilling pregnant woman is now in involuntary servitude to that unborn human, outside of due process of law. She has committed no crime, much less been convicted of one, such that involuntary servitude to the unborn can be required of her. Better, therefore, that granting personhood to the unborn be avoided in the first place. So, to all who would Amend the Constitution to grant personhood to unborn humans, exactly how can you do this without violating Amendment 13, whenever a woman does not desire to be pregnant?
42. “Modern technology allows prematurely born babies (legally persons) to survive (be ‘viable’); therefore abortions should be prohibited for unborn humans that become viable per technical means, since they could be forcibly born and thereby immediately acquire legal person status.” FALSE, mostly because the definition of “birth” can become extremely distorted as technology continues to improve.
For example, artificial wombs are being seriously researched. When perfected, it would then be possible to conduct fertilization in a petri dish, and move the zygote directly to the artificial womb, which could also be called an “ultimate incubator”. Well, when exactly is this human considered to be “born”, relevant to the 14th Amendment? When it is “viable” enough to no longer need that artificial-womb environment, such as typically occurs 9 months after fertilization, when a typical natural womb is involved? Then, doesn’t that mean that “viability” should logically be defined such that no technical assistance is required, for a developing human to survive?
Meanwhile, viability alone is insufficient to grant personhood to an unborn human, during a pregnancy. Measurably animal-level are the minds that an unborn human has, even if the pregnancy stretches for ten full months after conception! Because, remember, infant humans also can’t pass any scientific unprejudiced species-independent personhood tests, for several whole months after birth.
Update: There is another and completely different aspect of the “viability” argument, which abortion opponents fail to consider. Let us pretend that they get what they want, a Legal declaration that personhood begins at conception, along with right-to-life. Currently it is a Fact that about 50% of conceptions fail to result in confirmed pregnancies, and about 15% of confirmed pregnancies miscarry. As medical research advances, we will eventually learn exactly why those failures happen –and as medical technology advances, ways will be discovered to fix those problems. Already some unborn humans have received special medical attention.
Well, when a zygote is granted right-to-life, and half of all conceptions must receive special medical attention in order for a zygote to survive, who is going to pay for all those millions of medical procedures every year? Logically, it should be the abortion opponents who should pay, since in this scenario they are getting what they want (see #49 for more about that). But even if the Nation did the paying, and not just the abortion opponents, National Bankruptcy appears to be the inevitable consequence –or that personhood-granting Law would be quickly repealed, as its medical price tag continues to rise…. (Update ends.)
43. “Government should have the power to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.” IT ALREADY ALMOST DOES, but, logically, that means it also almost has the power to force women to abort wanted pregnancies. Remember that 13th Amendment? The only thing missing is an ordinary Law, perhaps something as ridiculous as “Pregnancy is now illegal.” Any unwillingly pregnant woman could then be sentenced to involuntary servitude during pregnancy and childbirth and child-raising. Of course, that exact same Law could alternatively be used to enforce mandatory abortions of wanted pregnancies. Meanwhile, most people want Government to avoid passing ridiculous laws, and to leave ordinary folks alone when they aren’t doing anything that negatively affects other people –which unborn humans most certainly aren’t!
44. “In killing ordinary animals we attempt to do so in a painless manner, but abortion subjects the unborn human to extreme pain.” The first part of that is indeed true, but the rest is not only PARTLY FALSE; it CAN BE ALWAYS FALSE. During the first three months of pregnancy, the brain is not connected to the spinal cord. Pain signals from the body of an unborn human getting cut up by an abortion procedure simply cannot reach the brain.
Edit, due to an insufficiently-supported claim: During the second trimester the brain starts connecting through the spinal cord to all parts of the body. This is when it begins to be able to receive pain signals from the body –but the process is not complete until the seventh month, so we can’t say with certainty which pain-receptors are connected at what time, or in what order. (Edit ends.) On the other hand, there is more than one way to perform an abortion.
For example, the umbilical cord could be cut first-of-all inside the womb. Since nobody cares how painful or painless cutting the cord is after birth, nobody should care about cutting it in the womb. But if it is cut inside the womb (or even strongly clamped, without being cut), then the flow of oxygenated blood to the unborn human stops, and the brain will begin to shut down in less than a minute, painlessly. After about six minutes the brain will be dead, also painlessly. And after that time any more-ordinary abortion procedure could be performed.
45. “Abortion increases the chance of a future miscarriage.” MISDIRECTION, since giving birth can also increase the chance of a future miscarriage –and so can miscarriage, itself. This is because pregnancy always causes the womb to become scarred, whether it ends via birth, or ends via miscarriage, or ends via abortion. A later pregnancy that happens to occur too-near the old scar tissue can be adversely affected by it. The problem is nothing more than a matter of statistics; it is well-documented how various women have successfully carried a dozen or more pregnancies to term, in spite of an occasional miscarriage.
46. “The Hippocratic Oath forbids a doctor from performing an abortion.” IRRELEVANT, because there are variations on that Oath which are accepted by the medical profession, and which permit a doctor to perform an abortion.
47. “The U.S. Declaration of Independence specifies a Right to Life, which therefore forbids abortion.” IRRELEVANT, because the Actual Law Of The Land is the Constitution. Per the 14th Amendment, “Right to Life/Citizenship” only applies after birth. (For more about this, see #103.)
48. “Abortion is a poor substitute for birth control.” LARGELY IRRELEVANT, because sometimes birth control fails, leaving abortion as the only known remaining option that can ensure an unwanted pregnancy ends quickly. Note that even the abortion procedure can have a failure rate –there are some known survivors of botched abortions– but it is also possible to attempt abortion more than once, if the first attempt is botched. The saying goes, after all, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” In the end, abortion can always be 100% effective. For most other birth-control methods, they basically have just one chance to succeed.
So, banning abortion will not solve the problems posed by less-effective methods of birth control. And, to the extent that ordinary birth-control methods are less expensive than abortion, that is the extent to which the Law of Supply and Demand will encourage ordinary birth-control methods to be used, and reduce the numbers of women seeking abortions. Common contraceptives are effective most of the time, after all.
49. “Behind the scenes of the abortion-legalization movement are those who would profit from it, such as abortion doctors.” MISDIRECTION –it is no worse than saying baby-food and diaper manufacturers are behind the scenes of the anti-abortion movement. In actual fact the abortion-legalization movement was driven by circumstances experienced by many individual women, and supported by others who compassionately understood the circumstances.
Meanwhile, a large group of abortion opponents happen to run a wide variety of businesses, and know how the Law of Supply and Demand works. There’s lots of data about how businesses try to put each other out of business, so they can control a market, restrict resources, raise prices, and thereby increase profits.
But little is said about another path that is just as profitable. By opposing abortion they seek to increase the number of people needing those resources, which causes prices to rise even without artificially restricting the supply. Extra people also increases competition for jobs, which tends to reduce wages (or, if there is inflation, the wage/price ratio).
Those greedy business-operating abortion opponents care nothing about the human suffering they cause for millions of people, scrabbling for jobs and resources; those greedy business-operating abortion opponents, vastly outnumbering abortion doctors, only care about how much profit they can make from the lower wages they would pay and the higher prices they could charge, while causing that suffering.
One other relevant aspect to the preceding involves a notion, specified by some opponents of abortion, some of whom also oppose Welfare, that “If you want something, you should pay for it, not my taxes.” Well, abortion opponents want babies to be born, so it logically follows that it is the abortion opponents who should be made to pay for that –and pay for the prenatal care, and pay all the child-raising costs, too. Some few are actually willing to put their money where their mouths are; the rest are just hypocrites, unwilling to put their money where their mouths are.
In the long run, though, it can’t work, even if all abortion opponents were legally required to pay for what they want, to prevent abortions. That’s because the concept creates a kind of “ecological niche” (not unlike Welfare) in which women who want babies can get others to pay for them, instead of for abortions, so why not have lots and lots of babies? There is always that genetic drive, of the selfish gene, to pass itself on, after all! And, we certainly know that such women do exist (and may be as unethical as those trick-her-and-run men)!
It is far too easy for any such system to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers of babies, in the long run. It is exactly why we have multiple methods of birth control, including abortion.
50. “Abortion is usually demanded by selfish people. Since selfishness is bad, abortion should be prohibited.” UNBALANCED, because this argument fails to mention tricksters and stereotyped “welfare mothers”, who selfishly want to pass their genes on, making others pay for it. Since there is selfishness on both sides of the Overall Abortion Debate, that is another argument that cancels itself out, to become Neutral.
Update: In general, criminals can be called “selfish people”. Some sociological studies have indicated that when women find themselves raising children that they don’t really want, those children have an increased chance of becoming criminals. In other words, the lack of easily available abortions causes more selfishness in the world! (Update ends.)
51. “Abortion in America is preferentially (genocidally) being used to abort blacks over whites.” MISDIRECTION, because a major reason for seeking an abortion involves comparing the cost of raising a child to the cost of an abortion. As long as black Americans earn less money on the average than white Americans, which makes it more difficult for blacks to raise children, more black women than white women will be seeking abortions. And even that has not prevented the rate-of-growth, of the black-American population, from being higher than the rate-of-growth of the white-American population, for decades. Only an idiot would claim that some population is being affected by “genocide” while that population keeps growing!
Meanwhile, opponents of abortion act like they genocidally want most of the human species to die (not just blacks!) in a Malthusian Catastrophe. The History of Easter Island proved that humanity is not immune to a Malthusian Catastrophe
–and Island Earth is simply/merely a bigger Island, than Easter Island. It logically would take longer to become overpopulated, but it is exactly as possible for Island Earth to become overpopulated.
In simplest terms, the Earth is a finite object with finite resources. It is Mathematically Impossible for unlimited growth to be compatible with finite resources. (And you can’t invoke extraterrestrial resources, because the human population is growing at about 80 million mouths-to-feed every year –think about building 8 or 10 New York Cities every year! Our current space technology is not in any sense able to obtain such a huge quantity of resources –and there is no evidence that it is likely to be able to do so before a Malthusian Catastrophe arrives.)
So, as long as abortion opponents focus on forcing unwanted births to happen, while they simultaneously fail to ensure that those mouths can be fed, that is the degree to which abortion opponents are “penny-wise and pound-foolish”, such that their short-term so-called “pro life” goal is actually a long-term genocidal goal, a deliberate set of actions that threatens the majority of humanity.
52. “Abortion is being used to kill more girls than boys in certain countries.” IRRELEVANT, because this is a self-correcting thing, over the long term. It is certainly true that some cultures give females a lesser value than males, and as a result more females are aborted than males in those cultures. But the Law of Supply and Demand rules all cultures in the end.
For each such culture that begins aborting a disproportionate number of unborn females, roughly twenty years later the disproportionate number of mate-seeking males will discover how valuable females can be, when they are comparatively scarce. Since those males are also future controlling members of those cultures, it logically follows that there will eventually, inevitably, occur cultural shifts that assign females as much value as males, and thereby essentially eliminate any generic desire for sex-specific abortions.
There may still be individual sex-specific abortions, such as when some couple wants only two children, a boy and a girl, and, if the second pregnancy isn’t the desired sex, will use abortion to ensure that only the sex they want eventually gets born. But, so what? In the end, when lots of couples do that, it averages out, and the sex ratio does not get hugely unbalanced.
53. “Abortion causes psychological harm to the formerly pregnant woman.” UNPROVED, because it is certainly well known that harassment and denunciation by abortion opponents, toward women they see having-obtained or attempting-to-obtain abortions, causes psychological harm to those women. To prove that abortion alone can cause psychological harm, and to prove that this is distinct from the post-pregnancy drug-withdrawal symptoms previously described (#27), it is necessary to study women who had abortions in some place where very little of such harassment and denunciation happens (or happened).
It is possible that the former Soviet Union was one such place –abortion was actually the primary birth-control method for many women there, a free part of socialized medical care, while other birth-control methods were not free. But whether or not any such studies have been done…(!)
54. “Abortion increases the chance of breast cancer.” UNPROVED. So far the data indicates that when girl teens drink lots of alcoholic beverages, that is more likely to cause breast cancer, later on in life, than abortion.
And remember, a great many more teen girls drink, than drink and end up with unwanted pregnancies.
55. “If abortions were as available as some people want, then humanity would eventually go extinct! Therefore abortions must be prevented!” FEARMONGERING. There are millions of women who want children, and who are able to have children. Since they are therefore very unlikely to seek abortions, it logically follows that that group, plus an appropriate number of men, of course, could suffice to prevent the extinction of the human species. Even a mere ten thousand similarly-minded women could have a sufficiently diverse gene pool for indefinite survival. Easter Island started out with a mere two boatloads of people, and had an adequate gene pool for the population to thrive –until they used up their resources, that is.
56. “The world needs more people.” UTTERLY AND LUDICROUSLY FALSE. Quality-of-life is much more important than quantity-of-life (because too much of any good thing is always, always a bad thing), and, if everyone on Earth was to have a quality-of-life equivalent to that experienced by the average American, then humanity would need all the physical resources of some more Earths, to support that quantity of quality-of-life.
Since we don’t have those extra Earths available, it logically follows that there are already too many people, for all of them to live high-quality lives. And for extra proof, just visit places where children are starving to death. Anyone who insists that human life is valuable should first ensure that all already-born humans have decent lives! And, only after they succeed at that –if they succeed at that– then they might not look like idiots, insisting that even-more humans should be born.
57. “God wants us to be fruitful and multiply, even to the extent that sperm should not be wasted upon the ground; therefore abortion should be banned.” UNPROVED. The Bible, after all, was written by humans. They merely claimed to have been Inspired by God, but it is a fact that humans are known to be able to lie, when they can benefit from it. And most certainly Moses, who started the Bible-writing project, created a government of the people, by the preachers, for the preachers — with himself at the top of the heap.
As a thought-experiment, suppose you encountered this statement:
“God has Inspired me to write, ‘Thou art gullible fools!'”
OK, actually you just did encounter that statement. Is it true? How do you know it isn’t? If you ever in your life, even once, felt like a gullible fool, then might the statement be true, regardless of whether God Inspired it? That’s the problem of the Bible (and all other Holy Works) in a nutshell! The Bible definitely contains things that cannot be literally true (the global Flood would have salt-poisoned every freshwater fish, and drowned every land plant, on the planet, including olive trees, after 40 days of rainwater mixing with salty ocean water).
However, the Bible also contains some things that are definitely true (archaeologists have found the city of the Philistines, for example, so we know they actually existed, regardless of whether or not anything else written about them is true –and some of those writings aren’t anything more than propaganda written by victors).
But much of the Bible is unproved. One thing that is known, however, is that, preachers directly benefited from promoting population growth by every means possible –including banning homosexuality, masturbation, and any type other of sexual activity that can’t result in pregnancy. Even the tale of Onan could simply be a distorted description of someone who had, say, a heart attack or stroke during sex (quitting in the middle because he was already falling-down/dying).
Preachers got more tithes from the larger “flock”, for one thing. And they also acquired the manpower to attack and defeat neighboring tribes, thereby increasing the territory controlled by the preachers. Best of all, since they wrote the Bible, they could blame God for that greedy policy!
That greedy policy has been followed by most descendant Religions for thousands of years. One result was, for centuries the Catholic Church was the richest organization on the planet, besides being one of most influential.
Another aspect of that policy was horrific, because it caused wars whenever preachers disagreed with each other. Many Europeans finally said “Enough!” after the Thirty Years War, and emigrated to America (in the Middle East that greedy Religious policy is still going strong, benefiting the preachers and no one else). Today, at least in the USA, we have “Separation of Church and State” specifically to prevent that horrific policy from being implemented here. But, have you noticed how Religions these days are trying harder than ever to acquire political power here? It’s not only about abortion, at all!
Can you be certain therefore, that God was the one who wanted the people to multiply? Even if God did, there are also associated statements such as “replenish the Earth”. Well, why isn’t it obvious that we have done that thing, when humanity these days is the something like the third-most populous mammal on Earth, after rats and mice?
stuff.co.nz/ … /Humane-rat-trap-goes-global
Now, if you study what the Bible claimed God actually did instead of what the Bible claimed God said, you find a different policy. The claim is, God spent several “Days” Creating the Universe, and, afterward Created humanity, who thereby qualify as a sort of “God’s offspring”.
A straightforward “be fruitful and multiply policy” would, if followed by God, mean that humanity should have been created first. That policy is only about reproduction, see, and not about ensuring the offspring can survive afterward!
But God didn’t do it that way, God followed a “be fruitful, then multiply” policy, in which “fruitful” refers to ensuring that future offspring could survive. We would do well to ignore the greedy Religions, and copy God’s actions, in this matter. And if that means allowing abortions, because the parents aren’t able to provide for offspring, so be it.
58. “Ban abortion and kill old people instead. Most of them are no better than babies –or even unborn humans– at contributing anything to society, while most babies will grow up and become contributors to society. This also solves the Medicare and Social Security problems.” BAD DATA, because while not stated, that argument includes the faulty assumption that unborn humans are people. Otherwise the argument might perhaps make some sense (kind of like applying “triage” rules in a major crisis), but as it is, it promotes killing people instead of killing mere animals.
59. “Abortion is wrong because it results in the loss of a future of value.” IRRELEVANT AND UNBALANCED, partly because it involves “potential”, and partly because it makes unwarranted assumptions about “value”. Every time someone commits suicide, that person is declaring that there is insufficient value to be experienced in living any longer. Just because others disagree, that doesn’t make those others right. For example, in prior centuries slavers certainly opposed the idea of their slaves committing suicide, yet they eventually gave up on enslaving Native Americans, because there were so many revolts and suicides (when escape was sufficiently blocked) that there just wasn’t enough “future value” in it.
Meanwhile, an unborn human lacks the brainpower to make any valuations whatsoever about the future (understanding that aspect of Time is another generic characteristic of personhood). There is again no reason to assume the valuations of others, about the future, is automatically superior to the valuation that any specific individual might make, based on available data.
For example, nowadays there are things like overpopulation and business-controlled resource restriction, to make future life far from valuable.
Here, since we are talking about an organism that only potentially can make a valuation about the future, we need to accept that the valuation it might make could be either positive or negative. So, like the Einstein/Hitler comparison made previously (#13), this part of the argument becomes Neutral with respect to the Overall Abortion Debate. All in all, an aborted unborn human isn’t going to “miss out”, either positively or negatively, on what it doesn’t understand.
Here again we can mention those small “growing” electronic machines, which potentially have futures of value as person-class machine-beings. Either their vandalizing must be accepted for nine months, or some other way must be found to let them acquire parts. Perhaps, most simply, abortion opponents should be required to pay for those parts!
Update: For anyone interested, here is a fairly complete version of the “future of value” anti-abortion argument. It offers an explanation for the origin of the argument, a discussion of the reason why it is considered wrong for someone to kill you or me. The author focuses on the loss of “a future of value” as the ultimately-most-important reason.
However, as pointed out above, different people can assign different values to the future. How could it be possible for “assisted suicide” to exist if the person who is about to die assigns a high value to the future? Logically, someone who did assign a high value to the future wouldn’t be attempting suicide, much less seeking help to do it! And so we can again note that unborn humans are totally incapable of understanding the concept of “the future”, much less be able to assign a value to it. They are outside the primary subject of the argument, just like ordinary animals are outside the argument.
The author of the argument basically makes two fundamentally flawed assumptions. First is that potential always has positive value, and second is that that positive value is inevitably going to become realized (not stay merely potential), if nothing interferes. But both assumptions are known to be false –just recall that about 50% of just-fertilized ova, zygotes, Naturally fail to fulfill their potential to become confirmed pregnancies –and that about 15% of confirmed pregnancies Naturally miscarry, or lead to still-births. The vast majority of those failures have nothing to do with outside interference (they are mostly the result of internally flawed DNA). Also, see #13 again. (Update ends.)
60. “Abortion makes it more difficult for childless people to adopt a baby.” FALSE, because politics and prejudice are what make adoption difficult; the world is over-full of adoptable babies, as proved by so many of them starving to death every year. If the politics regarding international adoptions was simplified, then anyone who wants to adopt will be able to succeed at it. And any who dislike the available choices will be exhibiting prejudice, such that they probably don’t deserve to adopt.
In closing [the original 60 refutations], it can be concluded that not only are abortion opponents wrong, they often distort the truth, exhibit prejudice, stupidly outright-deny various scientific facts, and could use their own flawed logic to equate themselves with dead non-persons. Also, many lack compassion and/or are hypocritical and/or greedy, and/or cruel, and/or immoral, and/or unethical, and/or foolishly short-sighted, since their so-called “pro life” policy is actually genocidal, toward all of humanity, in the long run. Tsk, tsk!
Here is where new stuff will be added to this edition, should any other “worthy” arguments against abortion be offered. At the moment, though, what we have here is a sort of “intermission”.
After the document was initially posted at “debate.org”, one user, whose handle was “darkkermit”, attempted to point out a contradiction:
“… you call the pro-lifers “lacking in compassion” when one of your arguments literally were that there is no evidence that human life has intrinsic value.
I’m not calling you out for stating that life doesn’t have intrinsic value, just your double standard.
I’m a moral nihilist, so I don’t believe that life has intrinsic value. However, its rare that you’ll find a non-moral nihilist argue that because moral argues almost always assume that. You then go around and then call pro-lifers com passionless without even setting a standard for what compassion is or isn’t, and pretty much unjustifiable to. You need a moral standard for judging someone as compassionate or not, yet you fail to do so.
Essentially, your arguing for moral nihilism. Your not judging the standard that *The pro-choice movement is better than the pro-life movement* since you didn’t set a moral standard or value system. You can exhaust any argument to epistemological nihilism.
In any argument, you can accept certain arguments as factually correct. However, what any moral argumentation comes down to is a subjective cost-benefit analysis system or a subjective system of measuring which “moral system” is best.”
And the reply to that was this:
“What double standard? I thought I clearly indicated the following:
There is no such thing as intrinsic value.
Humans are able to assign arbitrary valuations.
Humans are able to accept arbitrary valuations.
Compassion can be associated with an arbitrary valuation.
The problem with the abortion opponents is that they are mistakenly valuing unborn humans as equal to persons. A handicapped person is worthy of compassion. If the handicap and the person are both in the womb, it is logical to let the person continue to live to experience what possibilities he or she can, despite the handicap. So, abortion opponents think they are exhibiting compassion toward unborn handicapped persons. But since they are wrong about the personhood of the unborn –since the unborn are measurably not equal to persons– all the believed compassion of abortion opponents is equivalent of “wasted effort”. They might as well try to push over Ayers Rock.
Meanwhile, pro-choicers understand that the unborn are not persons and so don’t need either significant valuation or compassion –but of those “vehicles under construction” for future persons, the “lemons” should be scrapped! When abortion opponents force future persons to be handicapped, by insisting defective bodies be born, that rankles. And since the pro-choice view regarding the unborn and personhood is the correct view, it logically follows that the deluded abortion opponents are not actually exhibiting compassion toward persons.
I am not being inconsistent (the hallmark of a double standard).
If you think compassion requires an intrinsic valuation, please explain why.”
(There was no response.)
Some readers simply failed to understand what had been written, so (from different posts):
“Just to clarify some things:
There is no INHERENT pre-existing thing as a “right to life”.
It is an invented thing.
It was invented for a specific purpose.
The specific purpose was, it eases the way for people to get along with each other.
It exists because it was invented.
And anything that can exist can also be mis-used.
Which pro-lifers do; they mis-use the invention.
They mis-use it by trying to apply it where it shouldn’t be applied.
They apply it to mere animals, equating them with people.
I invite you to actually READ/STUDY what I wrote in those 60 refutations. Perhaps you should start with #10.”
And now for something of a mish-mash of explanatory/clarifying statements from several posts made by the author of the main document (slightly edited):
Yes, all humans have animal bodies. And all unborn humans are almost only animal bodies. To the extent they have minds, those minds are purely animal-level. We do not generically grant “right to life” to organisms having only animal minds and animal bodies. (We may grant it to groups of animals in danger of extinction, but unborn humans, as a group, are not-at-all in that category.)
“We actually do have a legal definition of “person” with respect to humans. See #41; unborn humans have always been excluded from that definition.
We grant right-to-life to persons, and (1) persons need not be human and (2) persons have more-powerful minds than animals. Example fictional persons include humans such as “Han Solo” and “James T. Kirk”, …,
We ARE willing to Formally, Legally, treat non-humans as persons!
… and other fictional person-class entities have such names as “Worf”, “Data”, “Chewbacca”, and “Jabba” –at least, we grant persons right-to-life if they play nice with others. Jabba, and the unnamed aliens in the movie “Independence Day” –and even real-life persons like “Bonnie and Clyde”– weren’t interested in playing nice with others ….
Per #27 on this list, unborn humans don’t play very nice, either, regardless of whether they could be called persons. Have you seen the “fetal resorption” stuff in #38 yet? That might almost be described as, “the unborn getting what they deserve, based on their own actions”!
I can offer plenty of evidence that humans have been willing to treat non-humans as persons, starting with Lot (in the Bible) greeting a couple of angels at Sodom, before they told him to leave town.
In Dante’s “Inferno”, the narrator interacts with a number of non-humans in a person-class manner.
Another classic work with non-humans interacting like persons is Spenser’s “Faerie Queene”.
Then there’s the non-humans in Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
There are of course plenty of tales about “brownies”, “elves”, and even “leprechauns”, interacting with humans in a person-class manner.
…in the era before Science began questioning everything, the existence of such beings was taken for granted by most people in Western civilization.
(Other cultures had their own person-class non-humans that were presumed to exist, such as djinns in the Middle East and dragons in China.) And that was the era in which the Constitution was written. It seems to me that by exclusively using “person” in the Constitution, the Founding Fathers were basically taking no chances –what if some member of the population was, for example, an angel (person-class entity) in disguise? Are you going to deny that individual a right to vote, and so on?
The advent and wide spread of modern science fiction has impacted the Courts.
Whenever they “unplug” from full life-support a human adult who is verified to be “brain dead”, they do it because the person is dead. Only the living human animal body remains, and because it has no right to life, that’s why it can be legally unplugged. And there are court cases to prove it.
Most unborn humans, of course, are not brain dead (some are the equivalent thereof, because they are born without a brain). But their brain activity is purely animal-level. They are not persons yet. Also, see #12. The body is not enough to qualify a human as a person!
…all the facts are on my side of the argument. No matter how much you want to equate human-ness with personhood, it doesn’t work (too generic). For example, one of your white blood cells is perfectly human, has a full complement of human DNA, is perfectly alive –and is totally a non-person.
If you want to equate a more-complex human organism with personhood, then that doesn’t always work, either, because of, say hydatidiform moles, or brain-dead humans on full life-support. Not to mention, in the future, after they perfect “regeneration”, such that if you lose a leg, you can grow a new one –well, what if they also put the leg into another regeneration vat, to grow a new body? In theory it can work, but when they first do that, is the leg a person? Hah!
Then, thanks to Religion, we have a very specific example of an extraterrestrial non-human intelligence to talk about: God. After all, if God created the Earth, then God cannot be “terrestrial” in origin, and if God created humans, then God could not have been a human. So, anyone who believes God exists must also believe there is such a thing as personhood (as exhibited by God) that does not require human-ness at all, in order to exist!
Which means that human persons and non-human persons have to have something besides human genes in common, that qualifies them for personhood. As far as Science is concerned, personhood is related to “quality of mind”. We have plenty of measurements indicating it is quite impossible for unborn humans to qualify as persons under that criteria.
As far as Religion is concerned, personhood involves the existence of a soul. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell whether or not even an adult human has one, much less an unborn human. But there is plenty of reason why the unborn human doesn’t need one, and even shouldn’t have one (as described in #8, #23, #27, and #29 (and #30 and #32, from a different philosophy).
Anyway, if you want to claim that an unborn human qualifies as a person, you need a reason that isn’t so easily refuted. And so far, no abortion opponent has ever offered one, that I’ve seen.
Some abortion opponents don’t understand how the U.S. legal system works:
“Ya do realize that Roe V. Wade changed existing law, right?”
The fundamental Law in the USA is the Constitution, and is that Law which #41 describes, and, yes, unborn humans have always been excluded from person status, per a definition first specified by the Founding Fathers. Any other laws are worthless, should never have been passed, if they are not consistent with the Constitution. Roe v. Wade merely struck down some inconsistent and worthless laws.
Again, note that the US Constitution uses the word “person” throughout, and doesn’t use the word “human” even once. That fact may be the absolute most important thing about that document, in the long long run.
… when the Supreme Court strikes down a law, the correct legal way to think about it is, “that law never existed in the first place.”
After the document was initially posted at “debatepolitics.com”, there were many fewer comments posted.
One person pointed out that the “Life is Special” argument has not really been proved either way, which leaves open the possibility that Life actually is Special. The statistics, however, regarding planets in the Universe, still make it far more likely that Life is extremely common. We now know for a fact that planets are quite common –while only twenty years ago their presumed common-ness was nothing more than a result of statistics and logic.
The recent “Kepler” space telescope has been studying a patch of sky containing many stars, seeking planets by looking for regular dimmings of starlight. Per the Laws of Physics, frequent dimmings are associated with planets orbiting close to their stars (Mercury goes around our Sun every 88 days or so), and such planets will be too hot for Life-as-we-know-it. A planet orbiting farther, where it is cool enough for Life, also orbits more slowly, so it takes longer for Kepler to detect the regular starlight dimmings they cause. It happens that this year is the year where Kepler is expected to have been watching long enough for it to have gathered enough data for scientists to declare it has found “Goldilocks” planets…and with respect to stars smaller than the Sun, where such planets can exist closer to their stars, the discoveries of such planets have already started. (Update: The Kepler telescope has suffered a wear-and-tear problem in it gyoscopes, which has seriously interfered with the need to continuously obtain data. Verfiying planets that have orbits about the same duration as Earth or Mars now seems unlikely, until a replacement telescope is built. Kepler Woes –Update ends.)
Of course, finding Goldilocks planets does not prove they actually host Life. Nevertheless, logic and statistics favor the possibility. One thing to keep in mind, regarding Religion and the millennia-old traditional view that the Earth is uniquely Life-bearing, involves the fact that the naked eye can only see a few thousand stars. Even if it had been known in those days, rather than speculated, that those stars are also suns that might have planets, the total is small enough that the Earth might well be uniquely Life-bearing among that limited group. The invention of the telescope, however, showed us that stars exist in extremely vast numbers (on the rough order of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, at least), such that even if an Earthlike Life-bearing planet existed one-per-ten-million-stars, the Universe would likely contain at least a quadrillion Earth-equivalents.
Another person pointed out that the statement “DNA is entirely in charge of the process of conception, and also for the later growth process of the resulting ‘zygote’,” is not entirely accurate, because the zygote doesn’t actually grow; it simply uses resources supplied with the egg to begin several rounds of cell-division –and as soon as the first division is done, the organism is no longer a “zygote”. The correct descriptive word is “morula”. I have edited some places in the first 60 argument-refutations, here, to include the morula. Then there is the fact that a woman’s body can also influence the growth of an unborn human –usually detrimentally, if the woman has made use of any of various drugs, such as “thalidomide“. Nevertheless, while the details of what was originally stated might not be entirely correct, they are close enough to the truth; DNA is certainly normally in charge of biological cell-division and growth, if nothing comes along to interrupt or interfere with it.
The Arguments and Refutations now continue (intermission ends):
61. “Point 1: The unborn entity, from the end of the fertilization process, is a full-fledged member of the human community.
Point 2: It is prima facie morally wrong to kill any member of that community.
Point 3: Every successful abortion kills an unborn entity, a full-fledged member of the human community.
Conclusion: Therefore, every successful abortion is prima facie morally wrong.”
Point 1 is just a lie. The definition of “community” includes such concepts as “social interaction”. Unborn humans do not participate (their activities are strictly parasitic); therefore it is simply an outright lie to claim that they are members of any community.
Point 2 is also false. Members of communities that have committed various crimes such as rape have been executed for thousands of years. Even today “war crimes” can include rape and the penalty can be death. However, these statements don’t matter at all, since as pointed out above, unborn humans are NOT members of any community.
Point 3 fundamentally depends on a lie. All statements based on a false premise, such as the lie that unborn humans are members of a community, are themselves false.
And so does the conclusion: Therefore, in the classic words of computer professionals: “Garbage In, Garbage Out”.
62. “If there is no inherent value to human life then why does bodily autonomy matter? Is not a prerequisite of valuing autonomy (i.e. the right to choose) predicate on some degree of respect or value of said person who would be exercising this autonomy? Shouldn’t bodily autonomy be granted to unborn humans also?”
Consider the notion, “My body is as important to me as yours is to you.” Obviously neither of us can survive in the physical realm without them. Logically, therefore, if each of us recognizes that statement as being true, then we should all be as nice to other’s bodies as each of us is nice to his or her own body. Let’s call it “two-way niceness”, but it obviously can lead to granting some importance to the notion of bodily autonomy. Note that granting some importance to the notion of bodily autonomy is a purely Subjective, not Objective thing. That’s why it can exist without being associated with the idea of “Inherent Value”
Now consider the situation of any unborn human, which is incapable of understanding the concept just presented above, just like many ordinary animals with equivalent low brainpower. That inability to understand directly leads to an additional inability to act on such understanding. They cannot participate in two-way niceness –they don’t even try, per #27. And it just so happens that generally speaking, no one who is able to participate in two-way niceness is required to be nice in a one-way-only situation. (There are always exceptions, of course, primarily including the existing Law that grants legal person status to newborn humans, but the exceptions are irrelevant during pregnancy.) One-way niceness can be chosen, as an act of altruism, but it is seldom required.
Abortions, therefore, can be considered to be actions taken by women who refuse to be nice in a one-way-only situation. Very often, of course, those women have completely different reasons than that. But if we choose to focus on this rationale instead of the others, a great many arguments against abortion become utterly ridiculous –they amount to an attempt to force women to be nice in a one-way-only situation, see?
If you don’t see, then consider applying one-way niceness to a spider. It certainly isn’t going to be nice to you in return! Therefore, insisting that one-way niceness be applied to unborn humans, when there is no insistence that it be applied to spiders and many many other equally-animal-level organisms, is just more of the same egotistical prejudice that has been pointed out over and over again in this document.
63. “Abortion is cruel.” This argument is a variation of #44. Per its definition, one could just as easily say that setting a trap that will squash a rat to death is also cruel. Yet for thousands of years it was considered important to kill rats by whatever means worked effectively. Do you think getting crunched between a specially-bred dog’s teeth is any less of a cruel fate for a rat? In other words, what constitutes “cruel” is as much defined by Society as by the dictionary!
Today is the era of human overpopulation. If we are to avoid a Malthusian Catastrophe, then we need every form of birth control that works effectively, including abortion as a backup plan when other methods fail. And as described in #44, the infliction of pain during an abortion can be minimized. Once again Society needs to discard worthless prejudice regarding unborn human animal organisms and what it takes to qualify as a “human being“.
64. “Shouldn’t we err on the safe side?” With legal abortions, we already are. It is a much larger error to encourage a Malthusian Catastrophe to happen, by working to increase the overpopulation problem, and thereby eventually cause billions of deaths of actual persons, than it is an error to perform some millions of abortions every year, of provably animal organisms that happen to have human DNA.
65. “The abortion industry preys on women.” FALSE. The abortion industry exists to fulfill certain desires, just like the telecommunications industry exists to fulfill other desires. If the desire didn’t exist, neither would the industry –or the industry would have to put a lot of effort into trying to create that desire. A general scan of commercials, looking for those that “push” abortions, the way other commercials push smart-phone sales, turns up extremely few.
66. “Women are coerced into having abortions.” MOSTLY FALSE. While it is undoubtedly true that occasionally some person (like a control-freak parent or husband) coerces a woman into having an abortion, against her free choice, opponents of abortion do far more to interfere with a woman’s free choice. And they stupidly fail to recognize the well-known fact that making something illegal automatically makes it more attractive.
Meanwhile, it is Historically true that various Natural abortifacients existed and were used, often with men being none the wiser about the existence of a pregnancy. It should be obvious that if a man doesn’t know about a pregnancy, he can’t coerce a woman to have an abortion.
67. “Abortion makes it harder for women to say ‘no’ to sex.” MOSTLY IRRELEVANT. That argument makes the unwarranted assumption that women are somehow automatically supposed to say “no” to sex, and therefore counts as interference with free choice. And Science has quite thoroughly proved that a healthy woman is physically able to engage in sex whenever she chooses.
The preceding is not to be interpreted as saying that a woman should always say “yes” to sex, just because she can. She has free choice either way. It is perfectly understandable that fear of an unwanted pregnancy could be a reason why she might say “no”, and it is well known that the existence of easily available and highly effective birth control techniques, such as “the Pill”, has significantly reduced such fear (and in fact caused the “Sexual Revolution” of the late 1960s). It therefore logically follows that the availability of abortion as a backup plan, when ordinary birth control fails, can just about eliminate fears about unwanted pregnancy.
Now compare the preceding to a different action that has an associated fear, such as learning to swim. The availability of a life vest can eliminate the fear of drowning. But does that mean that if one receives an invitation to go swimming, one should automatically say “yes”? No! The elimination of fear doesn’t change by one whit the fact that saying “yes” or “no” to some suggested activity is still a matter of free choice.
Not to mention that fear of pregnancy isn’t the only reason why a woman might say “no” to sex; there is also the spectre of catching any of a long list of sexually transmitted diseases. The availability of abortion has absolutely nothing to do with preventing disease-spreading –and therefore, again, need not have anything to do with a woman’s free choice to say either “yes” or “no” to sex.
68. “Abortion devalues women and motherhood.” FALSE, TWICE. First: Time and time again various abortion opponents claim that human life has priceless value regardless of other factors (such as age after conception). Since women are one form of “human life”, abortion opponents therefore exhibit pure hypocrisy in making that argument. And as shown in #5, they are also fundamentally wrong, besides being hypocrites. All valuations are both Arbitrary and Relative. Which means that just because Person A claims that a woman who has an abortion is less valuable than one who doesn’t, Person B might utterly disagree, for example by saying that the woman who has an abortion in an overpopulated world is exhibiting greater intelligence than one who breeds like a mindless animal, and therefore the woman who has an abortion is more valuable, not less.
Second: Per the Law of Supply and Demand, things that are scarce tend to be assigned greater value than things that are common. Therefore it logically follows that if motherhood becomes rare as a result of easily available abortions, it will become very highly valued, indeed!
69. “Dead fetuses are put in various medical and consumer products.” A SHORT-TERM THING; NOT A PROBLEM. First, note that abortions are going to happen regardless of what gets done with the discarded biomass, just as haircuts are going to happen regardless of whether or not the discarded hair is used to make wigs. If one sees a potential problem with respect to businesses encouraging abortions in order to obtain fetal material for their products, well, that is where the “short term” is involved.
The actual things desired by those businesses are not whole living cells; the desired things are certain biochemicals that at the present time can’t be found anywhere else. But biotechnology is advancing at a rapid pace on all fronts, and soon genetic-engineering methods will allow ordinary bacteria to manufacture the desired biochemicals, and do so more cheaply than by harvesting unborn humans.
70. “People will use abortion as birth control.” MISDIRECTION. As mentioned in #53, many women in the former Soviet Union used abortion as their primary birth control method because it was free. Elsewhere, it is far more expensive than other methods, which is what relegates abortion to being a backup plan, not a primary technique.
Obviously, especially as a backup plan, abortion does get used for birth control. Logically, that means some other method failed to cooperate with a free choice regarding birth control. So look again at #38, the part about “natural mindless biology”, and think again about whether or not humans are allowed to exercise Free Will with respect to it.
71. “Abortion is sexist.” RIDICULOUS. That’s like saying miscarriages are sexist. Either event is nothing more than something related to the fundamental fact that a female body differs from a male body, and it is well known that each body type is associated with differing specific phenomena.
73. “Abortion leads to the commodification of humanity.” FALSE. “Commodification” is a business term associated with “commodities” that also happen to be “common” goods, not specialty or “high-end” items. A business that sells commodities tends to make much-lower profits than a business that sells specialty or high-end items. It is simply the Law of Supply and Demand in action; common things are assigned less value than rare things. It is therefore Overpopulation that leads to the commodification of humanity, not abortion.
74. “Elective abortion ends society’s responsibility for children.” FALSE. While society has a vested interest in continuing to exist in the future, and therefore considers children being born to be a Good Thing, it also has a vested interest in minimizing conflicts between members of the society. Well, when overpopulation leads to insane acts of mass murder, it logically follows that, just like too much of every other Good Thing, too many children being born is a Bad Thing.
So, review #49. When overpopulation leads to job-competition and lower wages and higher prices, and less wealth for the average individual, it logically follows that a shrinking population –however achieved (there are far worse things than abortion)– leads to greater wealth for the average individual. Note that one of the reasons a woman might seek an abortion is because of the financial costs associated with child-raising. Obviously those costs would be less of a problem if the average individual was wealthier.
Therefore it also logically follows that any society currently experiencing a population decline has nothing to worry about in the long run; as their populations grow wealthier, individuals will choose to have more children, a balance should begin to exist, and the society will continue to survive.
75. “Abortion provides the illusion of choice.” A STUPID LIE. (Stupid lies can be distinguished from other lies by the ease with which they can be shown to be lies.) Abortions are very real, and women who obtain them seldom if ever obtain them on a whim. For the most part women choose to seek an abortion. Some abortions may be coerced, but that just means that someone else chose to have an abortion done. This argument seems to be implying, without bothering to explain how or why, that there somehow isn’t any such thing as a choice to have an abortion. What nonsense!
76. “A lack of respect for any form of human life will result in a gradual eroding of respect for all forms of human life; therefore abortion must be prohibited.” FALSE, because this argument confuses “human life” with the completely independent concept of “person”. If the United Nations organization is officially willing to respectfully interact with extraterrestrial non-human intelligent beings as if they were persons, then that obviously means that the concept of “person” need not have anything at all to do with “human life”.
Update, a copying of some of the “intermission” stuff, for easy reference-by-number: Thanks to Religion, we have a very specific example of an extraterrestrial non-human intelligence to talk about: God. After all, if God created the Earth, then God cannot be “terrestrial” in origin, and if God created humans, then God could not have been a human. So, anyone who believes God exists must also believe there is such a thing as personhood (as exhibited by God) that does not require human-ness at all, in order to exist! (Update ends.)
So, while persons should be respected, since very likely a lack of such respect could become widespread and detrimental to any society comprised of interacting persons, it remains true that unborn humans fail to qualify as persons, and so abortions occur completely outside the more-accurate philosophical point.
Errata: Two segments of this document were assigned #77. Rather than re-number all the segments that followed, (plus confuse various external references to particular segments of this document), one of the segments has been moved, and is now #112.
77. “Shouldn’t we be hesitant about ending any form of life?” This argument is a variation of #1, and the answer is YES, FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE CONSEQUENCES. That is, many living organisms incorporate biological features that we might find useful and valuable and haven’t been discovered yet. If we kill them, as in “make them extinct”, we obviously lose the opportunity to make those discoveries, and to use those features (new antibiotics, for example).
But humans are not currently facing extinction (even if three back-to-back Malthusian Catastrophes happened, each killing 99% of humanity –from 7 billion to 70 million to 700,000 to 7000– those 7000 survivors would still be enough to perpetuate the species). Indeed, human overpopulation is the primary cause of almost all those other extinctions happening around the world today.
Then there is the fact, that, after due consideration, most humans would still choose to kill many life-forms of various types, such as flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, fleas, and rats, if for no other reason that they spread various diseases. There is also the fundamental fact that humans cannot survive without killing; their immune systems are constantly destroying invading microbes. And when those systems stop, humans die.
Therefore, this anti-abortion argument is nothing more than a feeble attempt to justify Prejudice for humans over other life-forms. Look again at the part about “biomass” in #3
78. “If abortions were prohibited, why would it matter?” Denial of free choice matters. It matters that overpopulation is promoted by banning abortions, and that overpopulation causes most of humanity’s problems, including much of the poverty that leads women to seek abortions because their offspring cannot be adequately supported. (Look again at #38)
79. “Abortion shows weakness.” IRRELEVANT. Eating somewhat excessively shows weakness, too, but that fact hasn’t stopped the majority of Americans from becoming somewhat overweight. We have Freedom to make various Choices in this country. Some are more detrimental than others, certainly. But because an abortion is an interaction between a person and a mere animal, instead of an interaction between persons, that is why killing can be part of the interaction. If an unwanted rat gets into your house, do you kill it or try to put it out and keep it from coming back in (good luck with that!)? So, if an unwanted human animal gets into your body, what is the difference, besides worthless prejudice?
80. “Since it is known that too much of a good thing is always a bad thing, obviously too much “choice” would qualify as a bad thing. Abortions should therefore be disallowed; it is a “choice” that should not exist.” BAD LOGIC. While the first statement is true, the second does not logically follow, because it is is about a particular disallowing, without a relevant particular rationale being provided. Who decides which particular choices should be disallowed? In general, cultures do for rational reasons. An example is drunk driving; it is disallowed because it is stupid, and more often dangerous to other persons than the drunk drivers.
That brings us to a key insight: Most disallowed choices are related to harming persons, one way or another. Meanwhile, unborn humans are not persons, and need not be given the same consideration as actual persons.
81. “Pro-choicers exhibit a double standard by claiming that pro-lifers don’t care about human life after birth and therefore promote human suffering –while simultaneously the pro-choicers fail to recognize that humans have always experienced suffering, and so, logically, the only way to prevent human suffering is for humanity to become extinct.” MISDIRECTION. Human suffering can be related to something known as “quality of life”; the less quality, the more suffering.
As implied in #49, various physical resources (adequate food, clean water and air, uncrowded space) are closely associated with a high quality of life –but all those things are strictly limited in supply, and businesses act to restrict their availability, just to make profits.
Since it should be obvious that the more people there are, the less of those resources can be made available to each person, it logically follows that overpopulation is directly related to the lessening of the quality of life –and increased suffering– for a huge proportion of humanity. This anti-abortion argument basically denies the facts about the physical limitations of the world, and FALSELY insists that a greater population won’t experience, on a per-person basis, greater suffering than a smaller population. So, look again at #56 and #57.
82. “Another aspect of the double standard is to acknowledge a right to life for most people who have passed the infancy stage and withhold that right not only from the unborn, but from infants up to some arbitrarily established age.” MOSTLY FALSE, TWICE. First very few people subscribe to that notion, not “most pro-choicers” –and therefore most pro-choicers do not exhibit this double standard. Most pro-choicers are quite willing to keep the birth event as the distinguishing moment for legal personhood, even if they don’t really know just how philosophically significant that event is, as described in #29, or how physically significant that event is, as described in #33.
Second, the few who do seek a months-after-birth dividing line, for legal personhood, do so because of known Scientific Facts about the differences between persons and mere animals, not for “arbitrary” reasons. On the other hand, there are two major problems with trying to pick a Scientific dividing line. First is that different person-class capabilities develop at different times; there is no defining moment when, Scientifically speaking, a mere animal becomes a full person. And second, different humans develop mentally at different rates. It is basically impossible to select a “one size fits all” definition for the onset of Scientifically-detectable personhood.
However, it is possible to accurately state that “all unborn humans fail to qualify as persons.” It might be possible for Science to include, say, all two-month-old humans in that generic collection, but again there is no great push to move the legal definition toward that or any other time-point that follows birth. There is basically only the idiotic push by fact-denying abortion opponents, to make the Law even-more out-of-sync with the Scientific facts.
83. “The unborn and neonates are alleged to be merely potential human beings or beings that lack a sufficient degree of consciousness to be identified as human persons. Such reasoning, however, is without merit. The unborn and neonates are not ‘potential’?human beings, but human beings with a great deal of potential (a feature that characterizes all human beings).” FALSE, AT LEAST TWICE.
This anti-abortion argument assembles a bunch of faulty statements in a way that, overall, looks plausible, even though parts of it were demolished elsewhere in this document. And so the faulty group is being reposted here because that plausibility needs to be exploded. Basically, the foundations of this argument are the fundamental failures (A) to recognize that “person” and “human” are two completely distinct concepts (#12 and #26), and (B) to recognize that it is possible to mis-use the word “being” (#17). The argument collapses into nonsense without those foundations. And so it remains very possible for humans to exist that fail to qualify as persons (e.g., the brain-dead on full life-support), and/or have the potential to become persons (the unborn).
84. “Many women who have had abortions without giving the matter proper thought have come to regret their decision and are now active members of groups such as WE (Women Exploited), WEBA (Women Exploited by Abortion), Victims of Choice, Silent No More, etc.” MISDIRECTION. Nothing is said about the negative social pressures applied to those women by abortion opponents. Nor is anything said about the addictive drugs progesterone and HCG, and the negative factor that is the withdrawal symptoms (“post-partum depression”) that occur regardless of whether an abortion or a miscarriage or a birth ends a pregnancy.
Some women may have indeed regretted, without outside influence, their choice to abort. But there is nothing new about the generalized form of that statement; consider this: “Some may regret their choice to buy a car, because it turned out to be a lemon.” Plenty of choices can be associated with potential regret, not just/only the abortion choice. No-one is going to ban the car-buying choice because of the potential for regret, so neither should abortion be banned for such a specious reason. Especially when plenty of women do not experience regret after abortion (even if they do experience post-partum depression), just as there are plenty of satisfied car-buyers.
85. “The legal right to have an abortion is not the same thing as a moral right to have an abortion, nor does obtaining an abortion mean that one is acting responsibly.” IRRELEVANT, because morals can be just as arbitrary as Laws (#19 and #20), and because the responsibility for a pregnancy ultimately falls upon the independent organism that implants into a womb (#36). It is that organism that gets aborted when its presence is unwanted, just as a guinea worm might be removed when it is unwanted. Why should the human-ness of an unwanted invading animal organism matter in the slightest? Stupid prejudice?
Update: (This could have been added to #36, but it already has a significant Update, and here happens to be another place where importance is assigned to “responsibility”, so….)
Consider a just-published novelist. He or she has directly created something and can be called fully responsible for it. Does this mean it must be protected? No, the novelist has the right to rewrite every page, if desired. Farmers grow Christmas Trees by the acre, specifically to kill them for a holiday celebration. A variety of foods, such as asparagus and lettuce, must be harvested before they are fully grown, because otherwise they become unpalatable. Bioweapons laboratories routinely breed bacteria –and routinely kill them. Any “right to create” appears to be closely associated with a “right to destroy”!
So What, therefore, is the big deal about a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to stay pregnant? An abortion opponent claims she and her sex-partner are responsible for creating something. Per the preceding, it appears they are perfectly within their rights to destroy what they created. And, while it is certainly a Fact that “human life” is involved in this particular creation-event, only those influenced by Stupid Prejudice would insist that it must be assigned more value than a novel or a Christmas Tree. All Valuations Are Relative (see #5)!
Which now brings us to a point of irony –what about those independent entities mentioned in #36, and the responsibility that can be assigned to them for being involved in what got created??? Be careful!!! If an abortion opponent admits some responsibility can be assigned to the independent entities, in order to reduce the sex-participants’ right-to-destroy, then the original refutation applies, regarding the sex-participants being able to object to having a particular responsibility assigned to them, for something that was not entirely their fault! (Update ends.)
86. “If a woman seeking an abortion was in the same situation as a pro-life woman, the abortion appointment would be cancelled. ” MAYBE. This argument is a reversal of a common argument used to support abortion. The argument was reversed because the purpose of this document is to point out ALL the flaws the arguments raised (or might be raised) by abortion opponents, and the original unreversed argument is not something that abortion opponents state.
So, we need to know more about the “situation of a pro-life woman”, such that if another who was seeking an abortion was in that situation, she would change her mind. Does she have access to the resources needed to raise a child? Would the father actively support a decision to raise a child, or at least not be abusive if he didn’t get his way? Why, in today’s overpopulated world, doesn’t the typical woman who seeks an abortion find herself in the same situation as a pro-life woman, anyway? See #49, #7, #37, #40, #51 and #56 for various parts of the answer.
Update: This link was offered as evidence that, when a pro-life woman finds herself in the situation of a pro-choice woman, sometimes the pregnant pro-life woman chooses to have an abortion. (Update ends.)
87. “Pro-lifers should not be stereotyped; the only generic thing true about them is that they are pro-life, and therefore have legitimate reasons to oppose abortion.” FALSE, because “actions speak louder than words”. When an abortion doctor is murdered by a pro-lifer, and others applaud, their lie is exposed. When they ignorantly seek to cause most of humanity to die in an overpopulation-caused Malthusian Catastrophe, because they stupidly put a short-term goal first and ignore the Scientific Facts about the long-term consequences, their lie is exposed.
88. “Defending the lives of others, while exposing oneself to contempt, vituperation, slander, and illogic seems to be rather selfless.” “SEEMS” IS CORRECT. The actuality is different, because, long-term, so-called “pro-lifers” are actually working toward causing most of the human species to die in a Malthusian Catastrophe. Even if they don’t know it, or do know it but refuse to believe the Scientific Facts –and the two most relevant Facts are these: (1) The world is finite in its resources, and (2) It Is Mathematically Impossible For Unlimited Growth To Be Compatible With Finite Resources.
89. “The human ego has a powerful avidity for itself, but is nothing more than a fountainhead of pride, which has been defined as ‘the falsification of fact by the introduction of self’. The ego is hardly communal. It is in love with the self and the self alone. From its narrow perspective the right to an unencumbered life for the self trumps the right to life for the unborn. Bearing and rearing a child is thus seen as an intolerable inconvenience and the supreme encumbrance.” UNBALANCED AND ERRONEOUS. This argument is mostly a variation of #50, but it also includes the fallacy that there is such a thing as “right to life” (#3). To the extent that it contains true statements and not nonsense, it is nothing more than a plea for people to choose to be less selfish.
Well, the logical conclusion of that is for everyone to stop eating. After all, what makes us think we have a right to kill various plants and animals, just so we can survive? (The answer is, “the selfish gene” (#7)….) And, of course, like most other arguments against abortion, this one fails utterly to explain where the resources are supposed to come from, to feed/clothe/shelter those extra mouths that abortion opponents want to be born. Tsk, tsk!
90. “There is no wisdom in abortion or in its defense.” ON THE CONTRARY! There is no wisdom is seeking the death of most of humanity in an overpopulation-caused Malthusian Catastrophe, and thereby proving that the majority of humanity was little better than a bunch of mindlessly breeding animals, being mindlessly encouraged to continue doing that. There is much wisdom in enabling people to do what they might, to help stave that disaster off!
91. “If you believe in human rights and equality, then you must oppose abortion.” MISDIRECTION. This argument assumes that “human” and “person” must always be synonymous. So, suppose the argument was restated as, “If you believe in person rights and equality, then you must oppose abortion.” See how silly the argument becomes, when all the Scientific Facts show that unborn humans fail to qualify as persons (they are only mere animals)? Meanwhile, if we someday encounter extraterrestrial non-human persons, the first part of that restated argument becomes useful, indeed! “If you believe in person rights and equality….” means that stupid prejudice against non-human persons might have a chance of being nipped in the bud!
92. “Abortion basically allows unborn humans to be arbitrarily killed. Historically, only slaves have been treated that way. Therefore, with abortion promoting a master/slave relationship between humans, abortion should be banned.” MISDIRECTION. Like many other arguments, this one assumes that unborn humans are persons. They are actually mere animals in Scientific Fact, and human persons have just about always treated mere animals like slaves (when they weren’t being pampered as pets, of course).
93. “According to this article, pregnancy helps extend the lifespan of a woman. Banning abortion therefore lets more women enjoy that extra lifespan.” A PARTIAL TRUTH. One of the more clever ways to lie is to tell part of the truth, but not all of it. In this case, if pregnancy extended the average lifespan of a woman by a large number of years, as compared to women who never became pregnant (such as nuns), the fact would have been noticed a long time ago. Therefore, while the article doesn’t say how many extra years a woman might gain from a pregnancy, it logically can only be a fairly small –and easily overlooked– number.
Next, one reason a woman might choose to avoid pregnancy –or to have an abortion if she does get pregnant– is because there are other things she wants to do more, than become a mother. That is, she has Free Will, and might want to use some chunk of her total lifespan for something other than mothering. Well, it is widely known that mothering is a job that typically requires between fourteen and eighteen years of a woman’s lifespan (depending on the culture). If pregnancy offered a lifespan-extension benefit of, say, twenty years, then obviously becoming a mother would be a Good Deal, in terms of later being able to do other things.
However, the available data indicates that becoming a mother is not a Good Deal, in terms of gaining some extra lifespan, while having to use a major chunk of total lifespan in the task of mothering, when a woman wants to do something else more. And therefore this argument against abortion fails, just like all the others.
94. The anti-abortion argument posted at this Web page has been specifically requested to be debunked. OK. However, it is too long for portions of it to be individually copied/quoted here (more would have to be copied than is allowed under the “Fair Use” aspect of copyright law). We will pretend that the paragraphs of that article have been numbered from 1 to 29, and the dissections here shall simply/mostly reference the paragraph-numbers. (NOTE: Most quoted phrases below exist so widely in the literature that they are essentially in the Public Domain.)
94.1 Not everything about the article is flawed. The paragraph merely introduces the problem that the article intends to tackle (“When does a human life begin?”). However, it does so in such a way as to not make any distinction between the concepts of “human” and “person”. But that distinction is extremely important! (See #76.) While a single human life might begin at conception, a non-human person’s life might begin some other way. A couple of known biological alternatives to “conception” are “budding” and “fission” (both different from the breaking-apart of a morula into multiple blastocysts, such that, say, a quadruple of human lives can result) –and since it is a big Universe “out there”, we have no way of excluding the possibility that some intelligent beings might indeed reproduce by some alternative to “conception”. Finally, what of the “lives” of Genuine Artificial Intelligences/persons (in the future)? At least one Science Fiction movie already exists to encourage human persons to consider “machine beings” as being “alive”.
94.2 The paragraph describes some of the existing social situation, in which the controversy is perhaps so intense that it might be un-resolve-able. It ignores the fact that different people are using different data to support their positions in the controversy. What if everyone became better-educated, such that all were working with the exact same set of data? A major purpose of this overall “Refutations” document is to make available as complete a collection of relevant data as possible. Logically, if everyone has complete data, then everyone also has the exact same set of data. Another major purpose of this document is to show how certain data items, typically introduced into the Overall Abortion Debate, are fundamentally flawed and hence must be evicted from the Debate (examples: the notions that there exist such things as “intrinsic value” or “moral absolutes” –or that “potential” can be equated with “actual”). “Complete” data needs to be 100% valid data, and must not include “garbage” notions (else GIGO will be the inevitable Logical result).
94.3 The paragraph describes the controversy as “a matter of life and death”. It fails to note that in some circumstances the death of an individual life-form “matters” to others, while in other circumstances the death of an individual life-form doesn’t “matter” to others. For example, consider the average adult human body, which consists of more than 30 trillion life-forms (cells) that mostly possess a full set of human DNA, plus 10-times-as-many bacterial cells living in symbiosis with the human cells. If one of the bacterial cells dies, the overall human life will probably not be affected to any notice-able macroscopic degree; therefore we can conclude that the death of that cell did not “matter” (except, of course, to the bacterium). Much the same can be said if one of the human cells dies –that total of about 30+ trillion exists partly to provide lots of redundancy! Which fact we can now bring to the topic of the death of a multicellular life-form, such as an ant. If a single ant dies, does it “matter” to the overall ant colony? The answer is basically “NO”, because the colony includes a great many ants, for redundancy, and any single ant is easily replaced. OK, so what about a single unborn human, which is a mere animal organism and not a person? If it dies, does that “matter” to an overall human society? Only if it is rare and difficult to replace. Yet the Fact is, neither of those conditions apply to most unborn humans in this day-and-age! So the flaw in paragraph 3 is that the way it is phrased seems to imply the unwarranted assumption that death of an unborn human life “matters” to a far greater extent than is actually the case. Which in turn is a hint to us, that perhaps the entire controversy over “When does a human life begin?”, in the context of the Overall Abortion Debate concerning the killing of merely animal and unwanted human organisms, is basically ridiculous.
94.4 The paragraph continues to fail to recognize that there is a difference between “human” and “person”. Therefore it is “setting up” a way to ignore the possibility that human personhood might both begin-to-exist and stop-existing at times different from the times in which a human’s physical life begins to exist, or stops existing.
94.5 The paragraph continues to fail to recognize that there is a difference between “human” and “person”. This is the first paragraph in which the two notions are presented as being the same thing –just try replacing the word “person” with “human” throughout, and see! Tsk, tsk!
94.6 The paragraph starts out by continuing to fail to recognize that there is a difference between “human” and “person”. It then works its way toward introducing the concept called “brain death”, as a now-widely-accepted way to distinguish a living person from a corpse. Potentially, this shows some promise for recognizing the distinction between “human” and “person”, perhaps in the manner that was presented early in this document (#12). But the author actually has something else in mind….
94.7 The paragraph presents some details about brain death, including something that implies that the “person” aspect of a human dies at that time, even though the body can continue to be alive. However, the implication is not pursued, likely because the author still hasn’t recognized that there is a difference between “human” and “person”.
94.8 The paragraph doesn’t use either the word “human” or “person”, and in theory could be generically describing any of a wide variety of multicellular life-forms. It is mostly a description of what normally happens to a body after brain death, in the absence of artificial life-support techniques. (There is nothing obviously wrong here.) At the start of the paragraph, though, is mention of the fact that there still exists controversy over the common acceptance of brain death as marking the end of a human life. Obviously, if the body is basically still alive, except for the brain, those who dispute the “common acceptance” have a point. On the other hand, it should be equally obvious that their problem could be resolved by first accepting the difference between “human” and “person”, and second by declaring that brain death means that the person has died (not the “human life”). After that, why should the body’s life matter much at all? If the body can be called a “vehicle” for a person/driver, then when the person dies, what you have left is juat an empty vehicle! Why should there be a problem with using that body as a source of spare parts, for repairing other bodies that still have drivers?
94.9 The paragraph doesn’t use either “human” or “person”, and could be generically describing more of what typically happens after the brain dies, of any of a wide variety of multicellular life-forms. (There is nothing obviously wrong here.)
94.10 The paragraph points out that there is a distinction between “brain death” and a “persistent vegetative state”. Both feature the permanent loss of “higher” brain functions (such as consciousness). We could now equate them as being equal with respect to a statement such as “the person is dead”, but the author does not take that path, because of the continued failure to recognize that there is a difference between “human” and “person”. Instead the author notes that the lower brain functions, such those in charge of causing the diaphram to inflate/deflate the lungs, continue to operate when the brain is in a persistent vegetative state. The body –pure human life, and nothing more than an animal organism– can stay alive without extraordinary technical help.
94.11 The paragraph states things that basically point out that the legal system, like the author, has consistently failed to recognize that there is a difference between “human” and “person”, when the subject is “death”. A slightly different way of looking at the situation is to note that not everyone involved in the legal system is paying attention to the consequences of everything that has happened elsewhere in the legal system. So we basically have a “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing” situation in the legal system. More specifically, what the “right hand” has done, which is relevant here, is create the Constitutionally required Census Laws (see #41), which have given us more than 220 years of Precedent regarding not equating “person” with “human life”. So, since personhood has been, for so long, arbitrarily declared as beginning at a point different from conception (in other words: “personhood begins at birth”), it Logically Follows that the legal system could equally-arbitrarily declare that personhood can end at some point different from a human body’s overall death, just as it has once previously already done, when acknowledging that personhood must certainly end with the the death of the brain. In terms of the available Science, it makes more sense to declare that a person can also die when the brain enters a permanent vegetative state, than it does to declare that personhood begins at birth, instead of, say, two years after birth (when most young humans are exhibiting most-but-not-all of the traits that can distinguish persons from mere animals –see #9).
94.12 The paragraph manages to focus on “human life” without confusing it with “person”. There is one minor mistake regarding a provided definition of “organism”, and denial of the relevance of that definition to a “living cell” –a living cell is encompassed by that definition! Other than that, though, there is nothing obviously wrong here. In fact, it is mostly so correct that the word “human”, throughout the paragraph, could be replaced by any of a wide variety of other words, such as “giraffe” or “crocodile” or “worm”. and the paragraph would still make sense (except for one sentence where the phrase “dead people” –obviously different from “human life”– should be replaced with “dead worms” or equivalent, and the word “patient” belongs in the context of veterinary medicine).
94.13 The paragraph manages to focus on “human life” without confusing it with “person”, except in one minor place, where the phrase “human being” (which could mean either “existing human” or “human person”) could be changed to simply “human” without affecting the paragraph, and thereby eliminate any possible confusion with “person”. Then, just like the prior paragraph, the word “human” could be replaced throughout by any of many alternatives, such as “frog” or “fish” or “skunk”, and the paragraph would still be accurate.
94.14 The paragraph, like the previous two, could be accurately describing any of many different species, with the minor exception of a single usage of the unnecessary phrase “human beings” –unnecessary because the word “humans” (or an alternative such as “rats”, if all the other instances of “human” had been changed to “rat”) could be used in its place without affecting the sense of the paragraph.
94.15 The paragraph begins to reveal the author’s strategy, with respect to creating an anti-abortion argument. Unfortunately for the author, it can only work by maintaining confusion of the concepts of “human” and “person”. It doesn’t matter at all if “a human life” is Formally and Legally recognized as beginning at conception, so long as the legal system continues to recognize that the concept of “person” is a fundamentally different thing that does not begin to be applicable, associated with a human life, until birth (or even later) –just as personhood can end at a time different from the time of body-death.
94.16 The paragraph describes the problem of linking the “human-ness” of an organism with its physical shape. It has nothing to do with the concept of person, especially because, thanks to Science Fiction, we are aware that persons might exist in any of a vast variety of possible shapes –and thanks to Religion, we are aware that persons might exist without any physical shape at all (example: God).
94.17 The paragraph makes the mistake of using the phrase “human being” to generically equate “human” with “person”. As a result, ironically, the author feels free to point out an irrational consequence. It is known that the characteristics of persons, which distinguish them from mere animals, are acquired gradually as a human organism grows/develops. Well, if “human” equals “person”, it “logically” follows that human-ness itself must be acquired gradually. And so the author has correctly identified an irrationality, but then failed to recogize that the root cause of that irrationality is the failure to treat “human” and “person” as different concepts.
94.18 The paragraph describes some variations on the theme of the same irrationality that was presented in the previous paragraph. The irrationality still has the same fundamental cause, the faulty equating of “human” and “person”.
94.19 The paragraph goes into more detail about the irrationality, even while it continues to equate “human” with “person”. It recognizes the awkwardness of attempting to deal with what we might call “fractional persons”, due to the fact that the characteristics of persons, which distinguish them from ordinary animals, grow during the early years of a human life. It even uses the phrase “basic human rights” to stress the irrationality. Meanwhile, we know that any focus on “human rights” is inherently (and Stupidly) Prejudiced, since the concept doesn’t offer any equivalent rights to non-human persons (see #91). Also, we recognize that existing Law grants full person status to newborn humans, regardless of the fact that no newborn possesses any of the generic person-identifying characteristics, which we might use to decide if, say, a dolphin was a person. Thus does existing Law not need to deal with fractional persons. And we note that from the moment of human conception, the resulting organism is 100% human, It is of course initially only an animal instead of a person, but it is at least a 100% human animal!
94.20 The paragraph describes a situation in which different people might arbitrarily declare the unborn to be human or not. Unfortunately, the phrasing employed sometimes includes “human being” and sometimes only includes “human”, as if they were identical. We know that they are not automatically always equal, and that abortion opponents quite often mis-use the phrase “human being” (see #17 and #100). It can mean either “existing human” or “human person”. The human-ness of the unborn is not in dispute here. Only its person-ness is disputed, along with disputing feeble attempts to arbitrarily declare an unborn human to be such without providing actual evidence –and so far, the article being dissected hasn’t even tried to offer evidence of personhood, for an unborn human.
94.21 The paragraph manages to focus on “human life” without confusing it with “person”. (There is nothing obviously wrong here.)
94.22 Except for a single use of the phrase “human beings”, which could simply be replaced with “humans”, the paragraph manages to focus on “human life” without confusing it with “person”. We need to keep in mind that when writing almost anything, it is possible to over-use a particular word or phrase, and that alone could be a rationale for an author to use “human being” instead of “human” on occasion. Still, it is wise to remain vigilant regarding how an alternative to an over-used word might itself be used or mis-used. So long as “human beings” in the paragraph is used to mean “existing humans”, there is nothing obviously wrong here.
94.23 The paragraph continues the trend of assuming that the concepts of “human” and “person” are equal. There is an actual humorous thing at the end of the first sentence, involving the words “humanity” and “anyone” –if “anyone” can include extraterrestrial non-human alien intelligent person-class beings, then why would we want to claim they have “humanity”? Perhaps “humanity” is being equated with “personhood”? But then the sentence can be interpreted as utter nonsense! Here is a revised version of the sentence, focusing on “person”: “Once the nature of human persons as organisms has been abandoned as the basis for assigning legal personhood, it is difficult to propose an alternative definition that could not be used to deny personhood to virtually any person.” And it is nonsense simply because of the failure to acknowledge that “human” and “person” are two different things (see #12 for one proof of that).
So, another revision of that sentence: “Once the nature of humans as organisms has been abandoned as the basis for assigning legal personhood, it is difficult to propose an alternative definition that could not be used to deny personhood to virtually any human.” Now the sentence is simply FALSE. A major thrust of this “Refutations” document involves the generic distinguishment of persons from mere animal organisms, regardless of species –because in the future we will need that data, when exploring the stars and encountering alien life-forms. Once such distinctions are solidly verified in terms of Science, only animal organisms will be denied personhood, regardless of species. Why should it Objectively matter if Science determines that unborn humans fail to qualify as persons? Any mere claim that it Objectively matters is worthless without evidence! (And finally, even if Science determines that newborn humans fail to qualify as persons, there is still another factor involved, Existing Law –see #20.)
Regarding the rest of paragraph 23, it (and each of the next three paragraphs) correctly points out how any mere arbitrary definition of personhood can be mis-used –and has been mis-used in the past. But Science is not generally about making arbitrary determinations! If there truly exists a specific set of Objective and Generic differences between a person and an ordinary animal, applicable anywhere in the Universe, and Science can identify/specify those differences, then we would not be dealing with an arbitrary definition!
94.24 As mentioned, the paragraph is about the mis-use of an arbitrary definition of personhood. What wasn’t mentioned above is that here, the rationales for such mis-use are being analogized with old-fashioned rationales for allowing slavery. There is nothing wrong with any of the logic here.
94.25 As mentioned, the paragraph is about the mis-use of an arbitrary definition of personhood, analogizing with rationales for slavery.
94.26 As mentioned, the paragraph is about the mis-use of an arbitrary definition of personhood analogizing with rationales for slavery.
94.27 The paragraph continues the exploration of the negative consequences of choosing an arbitrary definition for “person”. This actually may explain why the author has assumed, throughout the article, that the concept is the same as “human”. However, we know that such an equating cannot allow legal person status to be granted to any sort of non-human person-class entity (including, just to be audacious about it, God –see #76). Imagine the consequences if technologically superior aliens visited the Earth in a fleet of flying saucers, and we claimed that we had the right to treat them as mere animals, just because they weren’t human!
94.28 The paragraph manages to talk about “human life” without confusing it with “person”. (There is nothing wrong here.)
94.29 As expected, the final paragraph tries to support a ban of abortion on the grounds that “human” equals “person”. It is quite Logical that if the equating holds, and persons should not be killed, then abortions should not be allowed, because Science most certainly tells us that individual humans are alive from conception. However, Logic is only as good as the data which is fed into it –if garbage goes in, then garbage comes out. The article has done nothing to make its case without simultaneously promoting Stupid Prejudice against all other types of intelligent entities in the Universe (including prejudice against God!).
95. There is an “argument from identity” that, goes like this (but please note that the word “identical” is used here in a way that is supposed to imply “identity” or “continuity”, instead of the more typical meaning of “exactly equal”):
Point 1: I am either identical to the fetus that was in my mother’s womb or I am not identical to it.
Point 2: If I am not identical to the fetus, then the fetus is either dead or still alive but separate from me.
Point 3: If the fetus is dead, then it died by gaining an ability that was in its programming to develop.
Point 4: But things don’t die because they gain an ability that is in one’s programming to develop.
Conclusion 1 (from 3 and 4): Therefore, the fetus is not dead.
Point 5: If the fetus is alive but separate from me, then either (A) Two numerically different things occupy the same place at the same time, or (B) I am not my body but my fetus is [my body].
Point 6: “A” violates a plausible law of physics, and “B” entails absurd consequences, such as rape being merely a property crime and not a crime against a person.
Conclusion 2 (from 5 and 6): Therefore, the fetus cannot be alive but separate from me.
Point 7: If the fetus is not dead, and if the fetus cannot be alive but separate from me, then I am the same thing as the fetus.
Point 8: If I am the same thing as the fetus, then the fetus has a right to life (since I have a right to life essentially).
Conclusion 3 (from 7 and 8): Therefore, the fetus has a right to life.
The first and most major flaw in the argument derives from Point 2, which, along with Point 1, makes a mistaken assumption about the thing designated as “I”. The entity presenting the argument, the “I”, is a human mind, not a human body. It should be obvious to anyone having the slightest of observational skills that a mind and a body are two different things (but feel free to look at #12 for more information about the distinction). So, Logically, the “I” making the argument does not have identity with a former fetus, even though the body which that mind occupies does have some identity with a former fetus.
Points 3 and 4, and Conclusion 1, are relevant with respect to the body only, not the “I” occupying that body.
Point 5 presents a couple of possibilities, the second of which was slightly edited for greater clarity.
Point 6 is just plain wrong, twice. First, it is very possible for a mind to occupy a body, which allows both to be in any other “same place” at the same time. Not to mention that in Physics there exist two types of particles, called “fermions” and “bosons”. Bosons can easily occupy the same place at the same time. Fermions mostly can’t, except when they are paired. A pair of fermions can act just like a boson, and so pairs of fermions can occupy the same place at the same time.
The second thing wrong with Point 6 is its feeble attempt to deny the very real distinction between a mind and a body. It mentions rape but fails to note that rape is very often associated with psychological (mental!) trauma, even while the body is also adversely affected. To cause such psychological trauma is to commit a crime against a person, and it is a crime that can be penalized!
Conclusion 2 is fundamentally flawed, therefore –the fetus can be alive and distinctly different from the “I”. We might now consider a certain Science Fiction notion called “uploading“, in which someone’s mind is enabled to move out of one body and into another –usually electronic/robotic, because robot bodies can be more durable than human bodies, but not always (last part of story). Sometimes two minds are involved, and they merely swap bodies (see “Star Trek: Turnabout Intruder” or the movie “Freaky Friday“). The point is, the overall concept of mind-transference has not been proved to be impossible, and the links indicate that that people are widely aware of the more-fundamental notion that the person and the body are two different things!
And for a completely different viewpoint into the issue, consider those unfortunate humans who happen to be brain-dead, their bodies kept alive by modern medical technology. The Law recognizes that in these cases the person, the “I”, is dead, even if the body is not dead –and so the “plug” is allowed to be pulled. That is, the Law is quite explicitly indicating that a person and a human body are two different things! So, why do abortion opponents argue as if the two things must be the same thing? Ignorance? Stupidity? Con-artistry? No wonder it is impossible for them to win the Overall Abortion Debate!
We should now note that the fetus is also rather different from the body that the “I” occupies. This is because of something mentioned previously in this document (#8 and #94.3), about how bacterial cells outnumber human cells by roughly 10 to 1. This doesn’t begin to be true until well after birth –the adult “human” body has 10 times more identity/continuity with bacteria, than with a fetus!
Point 7 is obviously nonsense, after the preceding annihilations of Point 6 and Conclusion 2 are considered. That is, the fetus is not dead and it is a different thing than the “I”. Furthermore, it can now be recalled, as first indicated in the “update” portion of #10, that it is known that certain critical brain development, so critical that personhood can’t exist without it, only happens after birth. This means that the “I”, such as is able to construct the “argument from identity”, and is the person who has rights, has NO identity with any unborn human!
Conclusion 3 is basically redundant with Point 8. In either case, though, the conclusion is FALSE, all because the mind does not have identity/continuity with a fetus.
96. A request was made to debunk the anti-abortion argument at this web page, titled “When Does Personhood Start?”. OK. There are only 7 paragraphs, of which the 4th is a quotation from another source.
96.1 The paragraph reveals the argument’s fundamental error almost immediately. The author asks, “What is the difference between a human being and a person?” –but does not ask the more-fundamental question, “What distinguishes persons from ordinary animals?” The reason it is more fundamental, of course, has to do with the conviction, held by many human people, that non-human people probably exist somewhere in our huge huge Universe –and that doesn’t even include belief in God, a type of person-class entity completely different from physical beings. The Logical Conclusion is that no Truly Objective definition of “personhood” can focus on the human-ness of an organism!
Almost simultaneously with making that initial error, the author compounds it by mis-using the word “being” (see #17). While every human organism most certainly qualifies as a human organism, that doesn’t mean it automatically also qualifies as a “human being”. For one example of an obviously non-person type of human organism, look up “hydatidiform mole“. And it is important to keep in mind that the word “being”, all by itself, can mean “person”. Just to call some human organism a “human being” is not to prove that it is qualifies as a “human person”, per a Truly Objective definition of the word!
That brings us to a Question the author asks. “When is a human being not a person?” Logically, but only per the definition of “being”, a human being is always a person. But as previously noted, not all human organisms qualify as “human beings” (and, by definition, “human persons”). So, let us rephrase that Question as, “When is a human not a person?” Now we have something that hasn’t been pre-loaded with error!
After asking the original version of the Question, the author spends the rest of the paragraph describing how difficult it could be to answer, and a lack of consistency among answers offered by those who desire that abortion stay legal. At this point we must reiterate the distinction between the Legalities associated with personhood, which is arbitrarily granted to newborn humans regardless of any relevent Scientific Facts –the particular anti-abortion argument being dissected here focuses on Science much more than Law (so we can mostly ignore the Law here). Unfortunately for that argument, the author is not up-to-date with respect to all the relevant Science….
So, in terms of Science, an excellent Answer actually can be provided to the Question (see the updated part of #10)! Basically, since personhood is something that must be acquired in order to exist, any human that has failed to acquire it will fail to match a Truly Objective definition of “person”. (There also exist brain-dead humans on life support; since their brains have died, their qualifications as persons have died, also, and the Legal System fully recognizes that Science Fact, by allowing the life-support “plug” to be pulled, for those human no-longer-persons.)
96.2 The paragraph is basically a continuation of the last part of the first paragraph. Some specific/differing examples are offered, of proposed Answers to that “When is a human not a person?” Question.
96.3 The paragrah starts off with “Let’s turn to science”. Unfortunately, because the author is trying to answer the erroneous version of the “When is a human not a person?” Question, the best that Science can do is support the conclusion that the author wants to see supported, in order to create an anti-abortion argument. Tsk, tsk!
96.4 The paragraph quotes another source, and that different author also makes the mistakes of mis-using the word “being”, and assuming that “person” equates with “human”. The net result is basically nonsense, per the “Garbage In, Garbage Out” rule.
96.5 The paragraph is a simple statement of a perfectly Logical conclusion. Too bad it is fatally flawed. Conclusions are only as valid as the initial data fed into the Logic process!
96.7 The final paragraph starts off with a mistake, the faulty notion that certain facts, such as were presented here, can’t be presented to destroy the author’s anti-abortion argument. It is laughable how this that the author states, “Yet, intelligent men with high IQs who teach at universities and other well-educated men and women continue to believe in things that they cannot support with evidence.” –completely applies to abortion opponents!!!
97. A request was made to debunk the three-part anti-abortion argument at this web page, and this web page, and this web page, titled “An argument for the personhood of the unborn”. OK. The first part has 11 paragraphs (not counting a short numbered list), of which the 4th is a quotation from elsewhere. The second part has only 6 paragraphs, and the third part has 7 paragraphs, of which the 5th is a quotation from elsewhere, and the 7th is just a single interrogative sentence.
97.1.1 The paragraph begins by mentioning the debate over embryo stem cell research. There is no doubt that such a debate exists, and there is also no doubt that it is related to the Overall Abortion Debate, because when an abortion is done during the earliest part of a pregnancy, a human embryo is killed.
It might now be pointed out that significant scientific progress in stem cell research has been made, independently of using embryos that result from sperm/egg fertilization. “Cloning” techniques involve an ovum and the nucleus of an ordinary cell, such as a muscle cell. And researchers have found ways to convert such ordinary cells, even without involving ova, into limited-capability stem cells. Turning them into total-capacity stem cells (equivalent to ordinary zygotes) is expected to be accomplished any year now…meaning that in the near future no embryos would be required as sources of stem cells.
97.1.2 The paragraph states that how the author argues against embryonic stem cell research can be simplified into a short numbered list. Basically, it entirely depends on the claim that embryos qualify as persons. Obviously such a statement could be quite powerful in the Overall Abortion Debate, too –but only if it was true!
97.1.3 The paragraph presents some background information about how controversy over embryonic stem cell research led to an Executive Order on the subject, by President George W. Bush.
97.1.4 The paragraph is a quotation from President Bush. It describes one of the sillier arguments in the Overall Abortion Debate, regarding whether or not a small group of cells could be called “alive”. (When it is known that a single bacterial cell qualifies as “alive”, it should be obvious that it is silly to assume groups of cells are not.)
The paragraph ends with a bit of ridiculousness, “we are dealing with the seeds of the next generation” –as if the humanity’s “next generation” depended on the survival of just those few living organisms being dissected by stem cell researchers. The appropriate response to such an implication is “Not hardly!” –not when humanity’s population keeps growing by about 80 million mouths-to-feed every year.
97.1.5 The paragraph claims President Bush made a mistake by allowing allowing a limited amount of embryonic stem cell research to continue. But so long as the claim remains provably false, regarding the personhood of embryos, it cannot be correct to claim that President Bush made that mistake –the actual mistake was to invoke a limit, period.
97.1.6 The paragraph mentions specific examples of the overall inconsistency of opinions on the topic of embryonic stem cell research. It is redundant, not useful, because, obviously, if opinions were mostly consistent on the subject, very little Debate about it would occur!
97.1.7 The paragraph (along with the last sentence of the previous paragraph) contemplates that an appropriate foundation-argument could resolve the issue. AGREED.
97.1.8 The paragraph proposes that an “appropriate foundation argument” involves showing that an unborn human qualifies as a person, after which it would be entitled to the same measure of respect and protection that we accord a newborn infant. Please note that this works both ways; if personhood cannot be shown, then both the abortion and the embryonic stem cell debates are resolved in favor of those actions being allowable. The author indicates that three reasons for personhood will be presented.
97.1.9 The paragraph briefly states the threee reasons. First is the obvious fact that living unborn human animal organisms are human, and then claims that this suffices to qualify them as “members of the human community”. However, that does not suffice to prove personhood. See #34 for a couple of examples of human organisms that definitely don’t qualify as persons –and definitely wouldn’t be considered members of the human community (also see #61). Also, remember the brain-dead on full life support….
Second is the claim that there are four differences between unborn and newborn humans –described in Part Two of the author’s argument– which are “morally irrelevant”. While the appropriate place to dissect that is also Part Two, here we can note that it is the Law that grants a “measure of respect and protection to a newborn infant”; the Law is not consistent with the Objective Generic Scientific Data, regarding the differences between persons and ordinary animals. In one sense (perhaps even “morally”), if the Law can pick one arbitrary point for assigning legal person status to humans, then it can equally arbitrarily assign it at any other point. On the other hand, modern lawmakers generally recognize more value in writing laws that are consistent with the scientific facts, than writing laws that are inconsistent with the facts. By that logic, if the assignment-of-personhood Law got changed, it might well be changed toward removing the existing measure of respect and protection to newborns!
Third is basically the claim that “human-ness” alone, “human nature”, suffices to prove personhood. The details are presented in Part Three of the author’s argument, and shall be dissected there. Meanwhile, a simple consideration of a brain-dead human on full life-support reveals a fundamental flaw in that argument –the person is dead (see #12), even if the perfectly human body lives on!
97.1.10 The paragraph contains nothing objectionable. While abortion opponents may feel a need to prove that a living unborn human animal organism is human (because they aren’t the only ones able to create ridiculous arguments), this document has never offered any reason for them to do that.
97.1.11 The paragraph contains a typical flaw, embraced by most abortion opponents. That flaw is the mis-use of the word “being”. See #17. The net result is that, “Just because it is human!” does not constitute proof that some organism is also a person. Remember that hydatidiform mole?
97.2 INTERJECTION/UPDATE: This portion of the author’s anti-abortion argument has, separately and in multiple places, been posted by itself and by others. For example, see this page. While the current focus is on the second part of a three-part article, it should be kept in mind that basically all those other articles, saying the same things as this one, are being simultaneously debunked. (Update ends.)
97.2.1 The paragraph mentions four ways in unborn humans differ from post-natal humans, “size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency” –abbreviated “SLED”. The next four paragraphs examine those differences in detail. However, the author does not consider the points raised in #27 and #29 and #33, so it doesn’t really matter if one or more of the author’s chosen points turn out to be, in essence, “straw men“.
97.2.2 The paragraph describes how size is irrelevant to determining personhood. AGREED. Other factors are far more important. Some semi-relevant fictional works are “Fantastic Voyage“, “Horton Hears a Who“, “Arthur and the Invisibles“, “Epic“, and “Tinkerbell“. It might be noted that while the last three of those movies together include a wide variety of small persons, ordinary animals are also present –what are the fundamental differences between them?
97.2.3 The paragraph describes how level of development, after birth, doesn’t affect legal personhood. AGREED –but again see the second paragraph of #97.1.9. In terms of the Objective Generic Scientific Data, regarding the differences between persons and ordinary animals, the level of development is important (see the Update in #10, and the Update in #20). After all, if you can claim that a newborn human qualifies as a person, then what about, say, an adult pig, which has developed much greater capabilities than the human (smarter than cats and dogs, pigs are!)? In the long run, when dealing with alien organisms, only Science, not the Law, can accurately distinguish persons from ordinary animals. We need to be very careful that when we write any new Laws about personhood, we do not build Egotistical Selfish Short-Sighted Stupid Prejudice into those Laws.
The paragraph also employs the phrase “innate capacity”, as if it somehow proves an unborn human is equal to a person. That anti-abortion argument was debunked in #15 of this document; the main problem is that abortion opponents are ignoring the fact that “capacity” refers to something that exists right now. For example, a glass jar has a particular capacity; it can right now hold a certain amount of stuff. Thus, to possess a capacity to develop the characteristics of persons means being able to right now develop those characteristics. But the Fact is, unborn humans don’t actually have that capacity; they only have “potential” (which, regarding personhood, is debunked in #13 and #28). Confusing “capacity” with “potential” appears to be a common error of abortion opponents.
97.2.4 The paragraph describes how the environment is irrelevant to determining legal personhood. AGREED. There still remains the Objective Generic Scientific Data, regarding differences between persons and ordinary animals. Also, while the author mentions the case of twins and the “short trip down the birth canal”, there remain the points raised in #29 and #33, in which “environment” is not the most important factor.
97.2.5 The paragraph describes how degree of dependency (also known as “viability”) is irrelevant to determining legal personhood. AGREED. Yet this also has nothing to do with the Objective Generic Scientific Data, regarding differences between persons and ordinary animals. Furthermore, the author is exhibiting short-sightedness with respect to future technological developments (see #42). When stem cell research reaches the point of finding how how to turn an average specialized cell into the equivalent of a zygote (or “totipotent stem cell”), and also figures out how to perfect already-existing “artificial wombs”, at that time every cell in the author’s body that happens to possess human DNA will be “viable”. Does that mean the author of this anti-abortion argument should be chopped up into more than 30 trillion pieces, and each piece be given the assistance it needs to develop into a separate person? No? Then perhaps an argument based on “viability” isn’t so good, after all! (Not to mention the totally different fundamental problem the viability argument faces, with respect to an intelligent species that employs the “R strategy” of reproduction.)
97.2.6 The paragraph reiterates there are “only four” differences between unborn humans and post-natal humans (HAH!), and concludes that they are morally equivalent. See the above, for the debunking of those claims. There are actually more than four differences, and so the author’s “logic” gets reduced to “Garbage In, Garbage Out“.
97.3.1 The paragraph touches upon philosophy and personhood, without actually paying attention to the Big Picture. That is, it is written with the built-in assumption that only humans can qualify as persons. If that was true, then indeed it might Logically Follow that “human-ness” alone suffices to distinguish persons from non-persons. However, in our huge huge Universe, we have absolutely no rationale other than Stupid Prejudice to make such an assumption.
As a result, abortion opponents have a fundamental problem, regarding how to reliably distinguish any possible type of person from a mere animal organism. The current paragraph of this anti-abortion argument decries the use of “functional characteristics” to accomplish such distinguishing, and ends with the FALSE claim that people who use that means for determining personhood fail to explain why persons must possess certain traits. Yet the explanation is right here, in the first sentence of this debunking paragraph!
97.3.2 This paragraph commits several errors, the first of which was debunked in #16; it ignores the distinction between having an ability and using an ability. The second error was debunked in #28; to associate personhood with “the kind of being that can acquire it” is another way to confuse “potential” with “actual”. Third, it states “one’s right to live does not depend on one’s intelligence” –yet ignores all those low-intelligence animals and plants routinely being killed by humans all over the globe. It smacks of Stupid Prejudice to insist that unborn humans, having significantly less intelligence than many such animals (like pigs), deserve special treatment!
The paragraph’s fourth point has a different kind of error. It presents a problem that it claims cannot reasonably be answered by proponents of “functional characteristics” for distinguishing persons. Except that not only can it be answered, thinking it is a valid anti-abortion argument can be –and was– debunked (#8 and #95). Regarding the “I” who is able to ask a question such as “When did I begin to exist?” –that “I” is a consequence of more things than just a human-conception event, and it is more-immediately a consequence of things that happen after birth (see #11 and the Update in #10 –and it wouldn’t hurt to take another look at #12, just to be reminded that the psychological “I”, able to create questions to ask, is not the physical body). Those are the simple Facts.
97.3.3 The paragraph is written as if the author thinks a victory has been achieved –far from it! It is mostly a re-hash of points made earlier in the argument –and debunked above. Remember those brain-dead human non-persons on full life-support, which the Law allows their “plugs” to be pulled, because the persons are dead, even if their human bodies are not? That fact alone represents the single biggest hole in the author’s argument.
97.3.4 The paragraph begins with something with which complete agreement is easy, but then continues with the FALSE “conclusion from the preceding” that human embryos qualify as people, and tries to connect that to the first statement. Sorry, but Logic doesn’t work that way! All the data items fed into Logic have to be valid, before a valid result can be obtained!
97.3.5 The quoted paragraph was perhaps a significant inspiration for the entire 3-part anti-abortion argument, managing to compress into one paragraph many of the valid items and the errors that are detailed above.
97.3.6 The paragraph strongly hints that the quoted paragraph was indeed at least partial inspiration for the author’s anti-abortion argument. The author’s satisfaction with the argument is easily matched by an Ignorance of excluded Facts, and apparently also a Prejudice for humans over other types of organisms –just like most other abortion opponents, who fail to consider the Long Term and the Big Picture.
97.3.7 “What do you think?” No opinion is necessary. The Facts are plain, that the argument is fatally flawed, just like all other anti-abortion arguments applicable to this day-and-age.
98. A request was made to debunk the anti-abortion argument at this web page, titled “Toddler Tactics: How to Simplify the Abortion Debate”. OK. The argument has at its start something of a synopsis, a sort of rephrasing of the title, followed by 6 primary paragraphs. In-between the 4th and 5th paragraphs, and also in-between the 5th and 6th paragraphs, are what might be called “sample conversations”, which will herein be treated as 2 extra paragraphs.
98.1 The paragraph begins with a variation of a common claim made by abortion opponents, that “abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being” –the variation is that the word “defenseless” is used in place of “innocent”, while “innocent” is still implied by the incorporation of the word “unjustly”. Then the paragraph goes on to inaccurately assume that just because an unborn human animal organism is human, it must also be a person, and that it can only be ethical to kill it if it was somehow not human. Wrong! –because it can be ethical to kill an animal, even if the animal happens to be human. How many humans have been executed over the centuries, because their animal instincts overrode their reason, leading them to commit crimes worthy of a death penalty? And isn’t it a Fact that unborn humans are only animals, almost entirely lacking reasoning abilities even just before birth?
Meanwhile, let’s deconstruct that very first sentence. With respect to “unjust” or “innocent”, see #27. With respect to “defenseless”, addictive substances aren’t the only ones infused into the mother’s body by an unborn human; one appears to promote mother-child bonding. That means the unborn human’s natural mindless biology is attempting to encourage its mother to be its defense! Many succeed to the extent that a lot of women, who initially considered putting the newborns up for adoption, changed their minds! Must a pregnant woman having Free Will choose subservience to natural mindless biology (see #38) –especially mind-manipulating biology? Finally, with respect to “human being”, see #17 and #100.
98.2 This paragraph is mostly OK, except for the nonsense in its 2nd-to-last sentence, which talks about “killing innocent human beings”, as if the author actually knew all the relevant Facts associated with abortion. Tsk, tsk!
98.3 The paragraph starts off with a claim that does not apply to the author of this document, regarding a belief that “the unborn are not fully human”. Any argument designed to correct others who hold that particular belief is agreeable.
But then the author of this anti-abortion argument makes a more significant mistake. Plenty of pro-choice people do not claim that when an an abortion is done, only the body of the woman is involved. They know very well that an “embryo” or “fetus” is also involved. While many of them may err in denying the human-ness or even the “living-ness” of those unborn animal organisms, none actually have any need to make those errors, when it is perfectly Factual to focus on the animal-ness of those unborn human non-persons.
98.4 The paragraph describes the primary focus of this anti-abortion argument, which is to encourage recognition of the human-ness of the unborn. Obviously the argument is useless against anyone who already knows that the unborn are human animal organisms!
98.5 While this sample conversation includes some mis-use of the word “being”, it also reveals another aspect of the author’s anti-abortion argument. There is the Law, which arbitrarily grants person status to humans at birth, and then there is the Science, which, per the Objective Generic Data available, regarding differences between persons and ordinary animals, would not grant person status to any humans for many months after birth (varying with the individual human, since they develop at different rates). The present anti-abortion argument is assuming that the Law and the Science are synchronized, but in actual Fact, they are not.
As a result, when the author “trots out a toddler”, it becomes possible to completely ignore the focus on “human-ness”, and instead bring up “personhood”. It is the Law that forbids the killing of toddlers, on the grounds that the Law has granted them legal person status, with associated rights. Their human-ness is totally irrelevant. Meanwhile, the Law allows abortions, because the Law does not grant legal person status and rights to the unborn –nor does the Law have any reason to do that, because of the Science! So the author wants to simplify the Overall Abortion Debate? How much simpler than this debunking paragraph does it need to be???
98.6 The paragraph reiterates the author’s goal of focusing on the human-ness of the unborn, even if the preceding sample conversation was only a prelude for the main event.
98.7 This sample conversation mis-uses the word “being” over and over again. Merely calling an unborn human a “human being” does not magically convert it into a person that can Objectively and Generically, along with all other possible persons throughout the Universe, be distinguished from ordinary animals! So, when the pro-lifer asks something like this about the unborn, “Is the fetus the same as a human being?”, the correct answer is, “NO, because while it is perfectly human, it is not a person-class being!”
If you need to clarify, try trotting out Bugs Bunny. That fictional character is always portrayed as equivalent to a person-class being, able to outwit alien person-class beings like the equally fictional Marvin the Martian, or human person-class beings like the also-fictional Elmer Fudd, and therefore Bugs Bunny could legitimately be called a “rabbit being”. Meanwhile, an ordinary real rabbit, a mere animal, is hardly normally considered to be a “rabbit being” –it is just a “rabbit” only. Therefore, with respect to a living unborn human animal organism, there is no logical reason to call it a “human being” –it is just a “human” only.
98.8 The paragraph closes the argument with the expectation that focusing on the human-ness of the unborn is a winning strategy, although it also mentions the “size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency” ideas that were covered previously covered, beginning with #97.2.1. In actuality, of course, this anti-abortion argument fails, just like all the rest.
99. Abortion opponents sometimes use the dictionary to claim it is OK to call an unborn human a “baby” or “child”. Here is an example of such a claim. While earlier in this document (#33) a refutation of the claim was made, that refutation did not specifically focus on dictionary definitions. So, here is an expansion of that refutation, to more thoroughly explain why well-informed and ethical people should choose to present the whole truth about an unborn human, and avoid calling it a “baby” or “child”.
Dictionaries only record common usage. They do not enforce particular usage. Some words are in dictionaries despite the best efforts of English teachers to declare they should never be used (prime example: “ain’t”). One of the consequences of “recording common usage” is that many definitions tend to change as the generations pass. Words can even become obsolete.
Meanwhile, some words are less likely to become modified with time, and this is directly trace-able to scientific research. Consider the word “arsenic”, for example. For centuries its primary definition referred to a particular poisonous substance, but then chemists began discovering some rather fundamental things about many substances, and the word “arsenic” acquired a new primary definition, a particular chemical element. The classic poison, a chemical compound containing the element arsenic as one of its constituents, is now only a secondary definition for the word.
So, with respect to words like “baby” and “child” and unborn humans, what relevant scientific discoveries have been made, that might affect “common usage” definitions, as more and more people learn about those discoveries? There are at least three important things.
First, the process of mammalian reproduction involves a number of steps, of which one of the most important involves the implantation of a “blastocyst” into a womb. Prior to implantation, the blastocyst consists of a number of cells of a type known as “totipotent stem cells”. After implantation, the cells start to specialize. One group of them begins to form the “placenta”, and another group of them begins to form the “embryo”. Together, all the cells constitute the unborn organism. As time passes and the embryo becomes a “fetus”, an “umbilical cord” continues to connect the two major parts of one overall organism.
For an unborn human, the placenta is an “organ” as vital for its survival as the heart or liver. It is absolutely scientifically correct to say that an unborn human is a “child or baby under construction“, with the goal being that of making the placenta no-longer essential for survival. And, whenever a successful live birth happens, the goal has been reached and the placenta is discarded (in an “afterbirth”). So, isn’t it obvious that an unborn human is significantly different from an ordinary post-natal “baby” or “child”, simply because one needs a placenta to survive, and the other doesn’t? How can it make sense to call such different things by the same label? It might have made some sense in past centuries, when many important facts about the placenta were unknown. Nowadays, though, some blame for retaining the old definition can be traced to lots of well-publicized pictures of embryos and fetuses, that don’t include placentas. Each of those pictures can be called a “lie of omission”, whenever it is stated that the image shows a “baby” or “child” –the pictures do not show the whole unborn organism!
The second scientific discovery involves the “lifestyle” of an unborn human, compared to a post-natal baby or child. If you wish, the word “lifestyle” can be replaced with the phrase “modus operandi for survival”. Using its placenta, an unborn human steals nutrients from the body of its mother, dumps toxic biowastes into the body of its mother, and (worse than anything a typical “parasite” might do!), infuses the body of its mother with addictive substances. For more information, search for exact phrases such as “feel good hormone” and “hormone may help mom and baby bond” and “addiction to oestrogen” and “post partum depression fact sheet”. Basically, post partum depression is the “withdrawal symptom” associated with the shutdown of the supply of addictive substances.
When birth occurs and the placenta is discarded, a human’s “modus operandi for survival” becomes totally different. A newborn baby or child is unable to take anything except breaths of air. It can only survive by receiving gifts, such as the gift of a milk-filled teat –including the gift of being carried to that teat, since it is unable to get there by itself, and must rely on that “bonding hormone” to have succeeded in its goal (recall how many women, after birth, change their minds about putting their newborns up for adoption). So, when the lifestyle of an unborn human is so horribly different from the lifestyle that is typically associated with a newborn baby or child, why should anyone want to call an unborn human a “baby” or “child”?
The third scientific discovery relates to “ethics” and “psychology”. It is a well-known fact that about 15% of all confirmed pregnancies tend to result in miscarriages or still-births, instead of successful live births. Psychologically, if you tell a pregnant woman she has a “baby” or “child” inside her, you are encouraging her to think that the pregnancy will be successfully carried to term, by equating the present situation with a desired goal. If a miscarriage happens instead, what you will have actually done is “raise false hopes”, and the result is, you helped contribute to her emotional suffering. And, it is considered to be unethical to cause unnecessary suffering….
Now, suppose that instead of associating a pregnancy with the desired goal, you instead focused on the facts about the actual present situation? You would remind the woman that she has a “baby or child under construction“, and that the construction process is very complex, and that “Murphy’s Law” is a relevant factor, that there is about a 15% chance the construction process will fail, and that while it is OK to hope for the best outcome, it is wise to be mentally prepared for the worst outcome. Now if a miscarriage happens, how much less might be her emotional suffering, compared to the scenario in the previous paragraph?
In conclusion, what with significant biological and lifestyle differences between an unborn human and a newborn baby or child, and the Fact that it can be literally unethical to apply those words to an unborn human, it logically follows that the more people who know these things, the less often the words will be used that way, and in the long run the dictionaries will dutifully record that certain definitions of “baby” and “child” have become obsolete.
100. In researching a chance encounter of the phrase “episodic problem” (see #16), this anti-abortion article was found at “The Public Discourse” site, and is here referred to as “the current PD document”. The points it makes have already been refuted elsewhere in this document, but the way certain things were stated has inspired a more thorough refutation of those things, as follows.
We begin with this phrase from the current PD document: “… some argue that not all human beings are persons.” This qualifies as a “loaded” phrase, analogous to a “loaded question”. To see why, we need to think about two things, “human”, and “human being”. Both of them can be nouns, referencing a member of the species Homo Sapiens. Why do we have two different-yet-so-similar ways of referencing that entity? Is there possibly a subtle difference in their meanings?
To investigate that possibility, suppose we picked a member of some other species, perhaps Sphaerodactylus ariasae, less formally known as “gecko” –and tried using it in the quoted phrase above, “… some argue that not all gecko beings are persons.” We may now take note of the fact that while we might use “gecko” in a casual conversation, nobody ever uses “gecko being”.
Similarly, we could try some other species (without digging up their formal scientific names), and deduce a pattern: We use “rabbit” and “frog” and “spider” and “worm” in many casual conversations, but we never use “rabbit being” or “frog being” or “spider being” or “worm being”. This implies that there is something special about “human being”, that makes it different from “human”.
If we sought other places where the word “being” is at least semi-casually used similarly to “human being”, we actually can find a few: “intelligent being”, “extraterrestrial being”, and “alien being” (note: see the “Update” section below). We may now conclude that “being” is getting used, casually, as a synonym for “person”. So, if we go back to and change just one word in the original quoted phrase, the “loaded” thing about it becomes obvious: “… some argue that not all human persons are persons.”
The trap of a “loaded question” involves a detrimental assumption that is built into the question. The only “answer” to such a question is to expose the detrimental assumption. So, suppose we modified that original quoted phrase again: “… some argue that not all humans are persons.” If such an argument can be made, at least it wouldn’t start out by accepting a detrimental assumption!
In a Debate, semantics need to be agreed-upon. In this particular case, agreement could be difficult. Most dictionaries, after all, tend to equate “human” and “human being” as if they were always exactly the same thing. On the other hand, if you investigated the details of how dictionaries are assembled, you would discover that they do not create/define words, they only record how words are used in the population. (The bigger the dictionary, the smaller the population might be associated with a particular word-usage; see #99 for more about dictionary definitions.) And as a result, word-definitions tend to mutate as the centuries go by (though this is less common now that dictionaries exist to add stability to a language).
If it was possible to argue that not all humans are persons, then we would need to make a semantic distinction between “human”, sometimes a non-person, and “human being”, always a person. The preceding paragraph implies it could be difficult for obtain concensus on that. Is there an argument which might sway the consensus?
Perhaps. Consider again “intelligent being” and “extraterrestrial being” and “alien being”. If these are also considered to be persons, then what exactly do they and human beings have in common, which Objectively and Generically and Universally distinguishes them from ordinary-animal non-persons like geckos and rabbits and frogs and spiders and worms? It should be obvious that whatever all possible types of persons do have in common, human DNA is not involved. (Also, see #12.)
Logically, if something other than human DNA is associated with “personhood”, then it should theoretically be very possible for some rare humans to fail to have the Objective/Generic/Universal whatever-it-is that actually distinguishes persons from ordinary animals. In turn that would mean we need a descriptor like “human” to be able to reference a rare human non-person, even while “human being” continues to always reference a human person.
More, it means that while conducting the Overall Abortion Debate, it has to be recognized that merely calling a human a “human being” doesn’t automatically prove that the human possesses the Objective/Generic/Universal characteristics that can distinguish persons from ordinary animals. Nevertheless, over and over again one side of the Debate “loads” statements with “human being”, while the other side seldom tries to point out the detrimental assumption.
No longer! At least not in this document. Here every single human is just a human, and nothing more than that, until proven to qualify as a person, by possessing those Objective Generic Universal characteristics, whatever they are.
The preceding now takes us pretty straight to one of the other things in the current PD document, “… some argue that until certain characteristics necessary for personhood are present, we do not have a person …” We are literally forced to consider that argument to be valid for as long as it is possible for non-human persons to exist somewhere in the Universe. How else might future star-farers distinguish some extraterrestrial alien animal from an extraterrestrial alien person, when we have absolutely no prior knowledge about that organism or its world?
We may now examine what is claimed to be a flaw in the preceding, and we can start by observing a now-obvious flaw in the claim: “… the central philosophical challenge is to identify non-arbitrary criteria for personhood that manage to include all those human beings that are undoubtedly persons and exclude only those that might plausibly fail to be persons.” –while the statement is “loaded” with “human beings”, that is not so important as what we end up with by rephrasing it relevant to the previous paragraph (stress added): “… the central philosophical challenge is to identify non-arbitrary criteria for personhood that manage to include all possible person-class organisms, and exclude all ordinary animal organisms.”
Logically, any human that fails to qualify as a person would have to be classed as an ordinary animal organism. So, what might qualify as a non-arbitrary set of characteristics for Objectively, Generically, and Universally distinguishing persons from animals? Here is a proposed partial list:
100.1 Persons are self-aware.
100.2 Persons have Free Will.
100.3 Persons can do “time binding“.
100.4 Persons are able to understand the concept of “the future“.
100.5 Persons are able to manipulate abstractions rationally.
100.6 Persons can exhibit conscious creativity.
100.7 Persons are able to mentally place themselves into the situations of other entities.
100.8 Persons are individuals who transcend their organic individuality in conscious social participation. (Sir Julian Huxley)
It is possible that the list is incomplete, just as it is possible that the list is already more-than-complete (it might contain something unnecessary; certainly some of the items are insufficient, alone, to identify a person –at the turn of the 21st century, human-built computers are no more than super-rational manipulators of abstractions, for example). And since we persons involved in the Overall Abortion Debate are able to mentally place ourselves into the situations of other entities, suppose we considered the “alien perspective” on what might be a qualifying characteristic. Let’s take a paragraph to explore the bizarre….
There are a lot of “cases” in which various humans claim to have been abducted by aliens, and two common things seem to run through most of those “cases”. There is a claim that the aliens are telepathic. And there is the claim that the humans were examined much like we might examine ordinary animals. So, if the claims are truthful, what of the possibility that the alien definition of “person” requires the presence of telepathy as a crucial characteristic? Practically all humans would fail to qualify, and our cities are nothing more than fancy anthills, to them!
Back to Earth, and our current lack of complete information about the subject of personhood –we have to do the best we can with what we know. It should be noted that the above list is a list of “abilities”. It also should be noted that there is a significant distinction between “having an ability” and “using an ability”. For example, if you have a small folding pen-knife, you can use its ability to cut something, or you can fold it and put it in your pocket and do something else. You do not lose possession of the knife just because you don’t happen to be using its ability to cut something.
Similarly, once an entity exhibits the abilities associated with personhood, that entity does not lose possession of those abilities just because they stop getting used when the entity decides to take a nap. Which brings us almost to the end of this segment of the document, because now we can ask a Relevant Question, “When do humans exhibit the Objective/Generic/Universal abilities associated with personhood?”
While we are not able to test humans in the womb, we are certainly able to test them shortly after birth, and they always fail to exhibit any of the Objective/Generic/Universal abilities associated with personhood. Logically, with respect to the Overall Abortion Debate, all less-developed humans still in the womb can only qualify as mere animal organisms. It doesn’t matter at all if some post-natal humans also qualify only as mere animals, because abortion is not done to any post-natal humans. Abortion is only done to pre-natal human animals, not human beings.
Update: Some attempts have been made by various abortion opponents to refute some of the data used here. They say things like, “Using Science Fiction is invalid when it comes to deciding what constitutes a person; come back to Reality.” Or, “Why should we base our views of reality as grounded first on Science Fiction? Instead maybe we should try to discover Reality as it actually exists –Science and Reason without the ‘Fiction’!” Or, “Are interactions with non-human intelligences happening right now?” Or, “This is irrelevant to the topic at hand since we’re talking about human abortions!”
While it is certainly true that various works of Science Fiction –and Fantasy, too!– have been referenced throughout this overall Refutations document, the goals of those referencings are a bit different from the implications made in the previous paragraph. First, regardless of whether any dictionary has its defintion of “person” updated to to include non-human intelligences, the concept is in the common domain! It is likely that more than a billion humans are aware that such entities can be legitimately called “persons”, even if it turns out that we are utterly alone in the entire Universe.
As an aside, we can note that Science Fiction has an Answer for the loneliness problem! See the “Uplift” novels of David Brin. We have every reason to think that the Science of “genetic engineering”, once perfected, can be used to modify an ordinary-animal species, and increase its brain-power to the extent that the modified non-human organisms can become intelligent beings, persons, and will be able to pass those genetic enhancements onto their offspring. Elephants, for example, are already very smart animals, and probably would not need a lot of genetic tweaking to become “elephant beings”. There are no known Facts that can prevent our doing something like that someday, after genetic engineering is perfected. (A kind of “preview” of such a future is described in the “Narnia” fantasy novels; there are, for example, ordinary beavers, and also beavers with bigger brains who qualify as non-human intelligences.)
Second, it is a Fact that the mind and the body are two different things, and Science Fiction and Fantasy have allowed enormous numbers of humans to understand/appreciate that Fact in various fictional ways (the two “Freaky Friday” movies were mentioned, for example). Meanwhile, Science continues progressing on all fronts, including “regeneration research” such as was described in #12. And the Law most certainly does recognize the difference between Mind and Body, when it allows the “plug” to be pulled, from life-support equipment keeping brain-dead adult humans alive.
With just those two goals, the net effect of presenting Science Fiction and Fantasy in this document has been to provide evidence supporting how widely-known is the idea that personhood is much-more associated with Minds than Bodies. Any abortion opponent making statements such as those at the start of this “Update” section is desperately trying to deny both the Fact, and the widespread knowledge of the Fact, that mere animal human bodies do not have to be automatically considered to be the same thing as persons! Especially when they only have animal-class minds –or even no minds at all– as is true of unborn humans at various development-stages. And while human abortions are indeed the main Issue, the context of personhood –and its definition– cannot be ignored!
Third, there is the matter of Stupid Prejudice. Human persons have a long long History in which Group A denigrates Group B, just because of some manner in which the two groups are different from each other, even though both Groups consist of fully-qualified persons. Skin color, language, regional accent, technological sophistication, religious beliefs, social customs, style of dress –just about every way imaginable, in which one person distinguished self from others, some of those others decided to denigrate that difference. These sorts of thing are so well-known that people who like to talk about Government Conspiracies say that Formal Contact with extraterrestrial intelligences has been kept Secret specifically to prevent panic by the Stupidly Prejudiced masses of the population. Whether or not there is any truth to that conspiracy theory, it is most certainly true that Science Fiction and Fantasy have helped to get those masses of the population more-comfortable with the idea of peaceful interactions with non-human intelligences.
In this vein we can think about the Boy Scout Motto: “Be Prepared!” Science Fiction and Fantasy can most certainly prepare the minds of human persons for future peaceful interaction with non-human intelligent beings. Any attempt by abortion opponents to play-down this valuable thing about Science Fiction and Fantasy can backfire against them: They can be accused of wanting to be Stupidly Prejudiced against non-human person-class beings! –of wanting to have an interstellar war that could make humanity extinct! –of perhaps even deliberately hindering research into the intelligence of dolphins, just to be able to claim that there is no Scientific Proof that non-human intelligences can exist! (Except that last claim, by abortion opponents, would be a lie, thanks to Koko the Gorilla….) (Update ends.)
101. The anti-abortion argument at this page was requested to be debunked. The argument is dated May 7, 2009, and is derived from a famous medical case involving not brain-death, but instead the difficult-to-accurately-diagnose “persistent vegetative state” (also see #94.10).
In this overall document the points have been raised regarding the fact that personhood involves the mind more than the body (#12), and that personhood is an acquired thing, not an innate thing (#10). Logically, anything that can be acquired can also be lost or destroyed –in the case of brain-death, personhood abilities are certainly destroyed, and few argue the point. The situation is trickier for the persistent vegetative state, because significant portions of the brain still function (are not dead).
As modern medical and brain-research technologies improve, it should eventually become possible to pinpoint most of the sections of the brain associated with the Objective Generic characteristics of personhood (see #100 for a suggested partial list) –and detect whether or not those sections of the brain are too damaged to function properly. It might be noted that the brain section associated with high-level abstraction processing has already been identified, due to mostly being missing (never developed) in feral children. In the long run, we should have hard data regarding each individual persistently-vegetative case, and whether or not personhood has been destroyed/lost.
Back to the present anti-abortion argument. The article has 14 paragraphs, of which the first is an introduction, the last is a reference, and the 6th is a single sentence describing a quotation (the 7th paragraph). Unlike many others, the foundations of this argument are not written in plain English; it is full of specialized jargon associated with the overall topic of “philosophy”. It also makes it very easy to spout blather that looks erudite.
For example, consider this sentence from the 2nd paragraph: “A potency or potential is a potency for some act or actuality, toward which it points as an end; and to have an end is to be in potency towards it.” This is a long-winded and repetitious way of saying something simple. Let’s dissect it piecemeal: The phrase “A potency or potential” is a way of assigning two words to the same meaning. Well, if the word “potential” is commonly used and its meaning is well-understood, why is it necessary to mention that other word, “potency”?
Next, the phrase “is a potency for some act or actuality”, thanks to the preceding dissected phrase, can be rewritten as “is a potential for some act or actuality,” –which indeed is commonly known. A delicate vase has a potential for the act of breaking, thereby entering the new actuality of existing as many pieces, for example.
Next, the phrase “toward which it points as an end;” is basically just a repetition, differently worded, of the previous phrase. Unnecessary blather, that is.
The rest of the sentence, “and to have an end is to be in potency towards it” is basically a repetition, differently worded and ordered, of the already-dissected portion of the sentence that preceded the semicolon –more blather that appears to be unnecessary.
It should not be necessary to similarly dissect the whole article, but we shall see.
101.1 As mentioned, the first paragraph is an introduction. It is also somewhat obscure to a non-philosopher. A “thomist” is a follower of “Thomism”, philosophical principles collected together by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century of the Christian calendar. Since the title of the article is “Act and Potency”, it is reasonable that the first paragraph state something-or-other about those things (in this case a complaint regarding “modern thought” and the distinction between “potency” and “act”).
101.2 The paragraph starts by mentioning another thing not widely known to non-philosophers, “the abandonment of final causes”, so an explanation is in order. The notion of “final causes” (obviously the notion must exist before it can be abandoned!) was introduced by Aristotle in ancient Greece, and basically makes a fundamental association between “existence” and “purpose for existing”. The philosopher who states that “everything exists/happens for a reason” is promoting the notion of “final causes”.
It Logically follows, therefore, that to abandon the notion of final causes is to embrace the notion that it is possible for things to happen/exist utterly spontaneously, with no associated rationale at all. In the realm of Quantum Mechanics, this alternate notion has been proved to be a Truth.
On the other hand, just because the quantum-mechanical foundations of the Physical Universe are full of pure randomness, that doesn’t necessarily and automatically mean that the entire Universe exists because of a random event. It is a possibility that the Big Bang was a spontaneous event. And it is a possibility that God exists and the Big Bang was a deliberate Act associated with Purpose –meaning that all is not lost for supporters of the “final causes” philosophy. However, those philosophers should “beware!” that their philosophy doesn’t turn-about and haunt them. After all, for them to say that “everything exists for a reason” means they might be asked, “why does God exist?” … is rather similar to others who say that “everything was Created”, and then being asked, “what Created God?”. Or, regarding something else entirely, are delicate vases generally created just to be broken? Objects can have more than one potential, while purpose is most often associated with just one potential!
As the paragraph continues, the author indicates that there is a “deep relationship” between the final-causes philosophy and the notions of “act and potency”, and follows with the blather-filled statement dissected earlier. The author basically wants you to believe that just because a potential exists with respect to a certain act, there is inherently a purpose associated with that potential act. Then the author quotes Aquinas: “Potency and Act divide being in such a way that whatever is, is either pure act, or of necessity it is composed of potency and act as primary and intrinsic principles.” But Aquinas is not entirely correct, as proved by experiments in Quantum Mechanics. Utterly random acts are quite real, even while non-random acts are, separately, also real.
An additional notion might now be mentioned, known to Religions as the “Law of Grace”. There exists “Causality”, in which the basic idea is that every Event is always Caused, and is itself a Cause of some other Event. There exists Quantum Randomness, which is a violation of Causality, in that some Events can have no Cause. And then there is the Law of Grace, which can affect Event in a way that prevents it being a Cause of some other Event. That is, while Quantum Randomness violates one “end” of Causality (and fundamentally allows Free Will to exist), the Law of Grace violates the other end of Causality (and allows “forgiveness” to exist). Modern philosophy can be much more balanced and sensible than the nonsense spouted by Aquinas!
101.3 The paragraph appears to be a bemoaning of how “the rise of empiricism” (the notion that knowledge primarily comes from sensory experience) has changed Philosophy for the worse. Well, when “ancient wisdom” goes up against Provable Fact and loses, what else is to be expected? One might as well bemoan how the rise of automobile ownership changed buggy-whip manufacturing for the worse.
101.4 The paragraph implies that an empiricist can’t understand the act/potency distinction, which is nonsense. Understanding something and disagreeing with it (say by choosing to be an empiricist) are two different things! The paragraph also claims that unless one understands the act/potency distinction, one cannot understand an argument that Aquinas considered to be his best for promoting the notion that God exists. Unfortunately for both the author and Aquinas, the fact that utterly random acts can happen means that there is a flaw in all arguments derived from the notion that all acts are associated with Purpose. One need not “understand the act/potency distinction” to recognize Simple Logic!
The author continues the paragraph by categorically stating that Aquinas’ argument works, and is “immune” to “standard caricatures” and “more serious and worthy objections” –except that Quantum Mechanics has exposed a fundamental flaw in the author’s philosophy, completely outside of whatever are the “standard caricatures”, and possibly outside of the “other objections”, as well.
101.5 The paragraph mentions two different kinds of “essentialism”, and states that understanding the act/potency distinction is relevant to the Terri Schiavo case. However, the author also makes a mistake, in failing to recognize any distinction between “a human” and “a human being”, as detailed elsewhere in this document (such as in #100). The author states, “you might start to wonder whether rationality is part of the essence of human beings” and “here is a human being who (so it is claimed) lacks reason” –but see how easily the author’s conundrum can be resolved, by recognizing that if brain damage destroys rationality (and other things associated with the Objective Generic characteristics of personhood), a “human being” becomes demoted to merely “human” (more precisely, “human animal”) status. The person or being is dead, even if the animal body is still alive (see #12).
However, because the author does not distinguish between “a human” and “a human being”, it becomes possible to state that an “essentialist” might conclude that reason is not essential to being human. (Well, of course reason is not essential to being a human animal! –but the author is focusing on something else, by equating “being human” with “being a human being” –and reason is essential for that!) The author now mentions “first and second actuality” and “first and second potency” as aspects of the the act/potency distinction that had been detailed in a book the author has published (“The Last Superstition”), and states that those things would affect the conclusions of the essentialist.
101.6 The “paragraph” is a single sentence introducing a quote from the just-mentioned book.
101.7 The quoted paragraph begins by stating that actualities and potentialities exist in a demonstrable layered hierarchy. The author presents an example that begins by equating “human being” with “rational animal”, to which no objection is offered here. We merely note that a “human non-being” (such as any unborn human is, and Terri Schiavo became) would be equate-able with “non-rational animal”. The author continues by indicating that a human being’s power of speech derives from his or her existence as a rational animal –and that is an error. After all, in the not-hugely-distant future we expect True Artificial Intelligences to begin to exist, because we will have built them in imitation of how human brains work, and they will be rational entities that are not in the slightest “animal”. That is, a human being’s power of speech actually derives from his or her rationality, not “existence as a rational animal”.
The author’s distinction between “first and second actuality” refers to a difference pointed out elsewhere in this document (#16 and #100), between “having” an ability and “using” that ability –in this case the ability of speech. No objection to that is offered here. The author makes a similar distinction between “first and second potentiality”, by referring to the potential to learn a foreign language, and the potential, after learning it, to choose to use it instead of one’s native language. No objection to that is offered here. The author indicates that a “second potentiality” can be equivalent to a “primary actuality”, since the potential to choose to speak the foreign language is equivalent to having the ability to speak it, and comment about that will be offered later.
101.8 The paragraph is about book sales, something entirely outside the main argument of the article being debunked here, and can be ignored.
101.9 The paragraph states that the point of the preceding is to show that it is simplistic to declare the actualities of “rationality” or “language” as essential characteristics of personhood, because the intertwined layers of potentialities and actualities make the issue complex. The author claims the situation is actually one “where the potentials in question are grounded in the actualities”.
That paragraph, and especially its last sentence, appears to be the “key” to the author’s overall argument. However it is fundamentally flawed because potentials always precede actualities –it is simply wrong to state that potentials are grounded in the actualities. Even in Quantum Mechanics, where things can happen randomly and without Purpose, this only means that the potential for utter randomness existed first. On the other hand, based on the author’s overall argument so far, it is easy to see how the author arrived at this error.
By assigning Purpose to an action, the action’s potential-to-happen can only begin to exist as a consequence –the process of creating the potential (for the action to become an actuality) becomes itself an “actuality getting realized” (“the potential is grounded in actuality”). However, the preceding statement has left out the fact that the potential to assign Purpose existed before the actual assignment of Purpose. Potential always precedes action, even a whole linked sequence of actions, period.
101.10 The paragraph is the author’s attempt to apply the article’s “set-up” work to the Terry Schiavo case. It is stated that every human being is a rational animal as a primary actuality –and, keeping in mind the distinction between “a human” and “a human being”, no objection is offered to that. Before her brain was severely damaged, Terry certainly qualified as a human being. Afterward, however, with her rationality apparently destroyed by brain damage, it should be obvious that she could no longer qualify as a “rational animal”. It can be reiterated that anything acquire-able, such as personhood-that-depends-on-rationality, is also destroy-able. This does not directly refute the author’s statement that existing as a rational animal remains true if brain damage “impedes” the exercise of abilities such as speech, because the author is not specifying a large magnitude of brain damage. But Terry did have extensive brain damage, sufficient for doctors to be convinced that her person-class mental abilities had been destroyed, and were not just “impeded”.
The paragraph continues with the author’s failure to distinguish between a “a human” and “a human being”. Quoting, “… in being a human being at all she has a first potentiality for speech …” –but the Fact is, the correct way to have stated that is this way: “… in being a human she has a first potentiality to acquire the ability for speech …”. Had she happened to have had a different childhood, she could have failed to actualize that potentiality, and become just another feral child, a clever animal, not a person (see the Updated part of #10). Since she did acquire personhood, she became a human being that had the “first actuality” for speech, not the “first potentiality” for it.
The author goes on to state that after Terry’s brain was damaged, she still had the first potentiality, which could have been actualized had “regenerative treatments” been available. Keeping in mind that the true “first potentiality” is related to the acquisition of the ability for speech, and possessing that ability it is not an innate characteristic of humans, no objection to the author’s statement is offered, on the grounds that something lost can be found again, and something destroyed can often be replaced. However, it is important to keep in mind that until the Objective Generic characteristics of personhood are re-acquired, a human being demoted by brain damage to human-animal status remains a human animal.
The author continues the paragraph with another mistake, subtly equating the potential with the actual. A “mere animal” is basically described as an organism that can never have actualized rationality, because it lacks the potential for it. Meanwhile, any human that has the potential for actualized rationality should be distinguished from “mere animal” status. However, if the logical consequence is to treat the human animal as a human being, well, that was thoroughly debunked in #16. Should the potentially-dead be treated the same way as the actually-dead (buried six feet under)? Or, would you like to be actually-taxed on the basis of your potential to win a multi-million-dollar lottery? And does the author have any suggestions regarding how to feed all the trillions of offspring of an intelligent alien “R-strategist” species? See #27 and #28; just multiply 100 million breeding-events per year (fewer than happen right now here on Earth among humans) with 10,000 offspring per breeding event (modest for R-strategists!), and get 1 trillion offspring every year, tiny animals that abortion opponents would equate with persons. It is not physically possible to feed that many offspring –and even if it was, just imagine what happens have those trillions grow up enough to start having their own offspring, quadrillions every year! Most of the offspring of R-strategists must die, period. And therefore it is never rational to equate the potential with the actual!
101.11 The paragraph mentions abortion in the context of the last part of paragraph 10, in which all prior careful distinguishings between the potential and the actual are ignored, and they become equated. Sorry, Logic Just Doesn’t Work That Way.
101.12 The paragraph claims that by failing to accept the act/potency distinction, serious moral errors can be made, such as murdering persons like Terry Schiavo, and allowing abortion. In Factual Reality, though, generic killings of human animals are morally allowable exactly because potentiality and actuality are two different things.
101.13 The paragraph describes modern philosophy as a “hurricane” of error, for failing to make the act/potency distinction. Based on the preceding way in which the author failed to keep the concepts distinguished, it is reasonable to object; the author’s claim appears to be ludicrous.
101.14 The paragraph is simply a reference to another philosophical work about the act/potency distinction.
Abortion is only done to pre-natal human animals, not human beings.
102. The anti-abortion argument at this page/article was requested to be debunked. OK. There are 24 paragraphs in the article, some of which are single sentences, and others of which are quotations –and some of which are comments about statements made in other articles. Due to that last thing, the current article being debunked will be called “the BQ article” (for “begging” and “question”).
102.1 The “paragraph” is a single sentence that defines the phrase “question-begging. No objection to that definition is offered. However, it might be noted that abortion opponents are often guilty of exactly that thing, whenever they automatically assume that unborn human organisms qualify as people, and then try to prove it using Prejudice instead of Objective Generic Fact.
102.2 The paragraph describes a statement made by President Obama, regarding the Roe vs Wade decision, and which used the word “everyone”.
102.3 The “paragraph” is a single sentence, a Question regarding whether or not “everyone” includes the unborn. Well, we can approach an Answer to that Question by asking whether or not “everyone” includes chickens and sardines and lobsters and …. No? Because chickens and sardines and lobsters are not persons, right? Therefore, Logically, the word “everyone” is being used as a short form of the phrase “every person”. And now we reach the crux-point of the Question that the author asked. The author appears to be assuming that the unborn qualify as persons, while President Obama did not make that assumption.
This is exactly a place where an abortion opponent, in this case the author of the BQ article, is doing something like “begging the question”, assuming that the unborn are people –but not (at the moment of asking that Question) trying to prove the assumption!
Before continuing with more debunking of the BQ article, it might be appropriate to ask about the two assumptions, “the unborn human is a person” and “the unborn human is not a person” –which assumption is, Objectively speaking, the Proper Default? The answer comes from a long history of all sorts of Debates on many topics, for thousands of years. The “burden of proof” is assigned to whoever makes a “positive” type of claim.
In the present case, then, the statement “the unborn human is a person” is obviously “positive” when compared to “the unborn human is not a person”. Therefore the Proper Default assumption is that the unborn human is not a person, because anyone claiming otherwise has the burden of proving their positive assertion! And so far in the BQ article, the author has not made any attempt to offer proof that an unborn human is a person.
102.4 The paragraph refers to an article titled “Theological support of Stem Cell Research” (to be referenced here as the “SSR” article, for “support” and “stem” and “research”). The author of the BQ article denounces it as an example of “begging the question”, because the SSR article-author is claimed to “repeatedly assume the unborn are not human.” However, the author of the BQ article has made an error. In reading the SSR article it is quite possible that its author is talking about something else.
That’s because the author of the SSR article does not use the word “human” in isolation. There are 4 places where the phrase “human being” is used, and one where the phrase “human individual” is used –which we might assume is a synonym for “human being”, simply to avoid excess repetition. So now please refer to #17 and #100 of this document.
We can easily see that the author of the SSR article could very well have been talking in terms of the phrase “human person” –the human-ness of the unborn is not necessarily being doubted! Only its personhood is being doubted. But abortion opponents, so many of whom so often assume that the phrase “human being” means something other than “human person”, could Logically be expected to reach a different conclusion. It is, of course, their own fault, for mis-using the language propagandistically!
In the last part of the 4th paragraph of the BQ article, the author claims that the humanity of embryos is the main thing at stake, in stem cell research. FALSE. Only their personhood is relevant. If they are persons, then it would indeed be a Bad Thing to slice them into molecular fragments in any research effort. If they are not persons (the Proper Default assumption, until proved otherwise), then only mere animal organisms get chopped to bits. And the Fact is, as explained in multiple ways throughout this document, abortion opponents appear to have NO argument that works to successfully show that unborn humans are anything other than mere animal organisms.
102.5 The paragraph indicates that the author of the BQ article intends to be more specific about the overall “fault” described in the 4th paragraph. For example, the reader is asked to think about whether or not reasons given for supporting stem cell research work for killing toddlers. We know, especially from #20 and #98, that two different things are being equated by the author of the BQ article, non-persons (embryos) and legal persons (toddlers). In other words, the author of the BQ article is simply spouting nonsense, typical for most abortion opponents.
102.6 The paragraph is a quotation from the SSR article, and stresses the importance of gathering knowledge that can be used in the future for healing.
102.7 The paragraph starts off with the author of the BQ article asking, “Healing to whom?” DUH, obviously the Answer is, “Healing for human persons!” Then that author continues spouting the same sort of nonsense as previously indicated, equating non-persons (embryos) with legal persons (two-year olds). Tsk, tsk!
102.8 The paragraph is another quotation from the SSR article, and stresses the importance of “beneficence” in theological consideration of one’s neighbor.
102.9 In this paragraph author of the BQ article asks, “Is the embryo my neighbor?” To begin to answer that, we can ask, “If you go fishing to catch dinner, are those fish your neighbors?” No? Because the fish are not persons, right? Then the answer to the author’s question about an embryo becomes obvious: No! This does not stop the author from continuing to spout nonsense, based on the unproved assumption that the author continues to make, regarding the personhood of unborn humans, such as embryos.
102.10 The paragraph is another quotation from the SSR article, regarding beneficence and stem cell research.
102.11 The paragraph starts off with the claim that the author of the SSR article begs the question (regarding the human-ness of embryos), when of course the Fact is, the author of the BQ article is actually the one begging the question (regarding the personhood of embryos). It should be noted, however, that the BQ-article author has chosen to use different phrasing than the obvious. “Are embryos members of the human family?” –has two possible answers, depending on the meaning of “family”. In terms of the Fact that all humans are animal organisms, the answer is “yes”, embryos are members of that human family. In terms of the Fact that human persons are more than only animal organisms, the answer is “no”, embryos are not members of that human family.
102.12 The paragraph is another quotation from the SSR article, more about healing and God’s work as done by Jesus, and the contributions of medical research toward healing.
102.13 The paragraph starts by reiterating some of the nonsense spouted in the 7th paragraph, but goes on to make a valid point regarding medical research and actual persons (the Tuskagee airmen). Unconscionable experiments upon persons in no way changes the Fact that unborn humans, embryos, don’t qualify as persons.
102.14 The paragraph is another quotation from the SSR article, regarding (in essence) a claim that the beginning of “morally relevant personhood” is more important than the beginning of life.
102.15 The paragraph disputes the claim. It is obvious that the author of the BQ article is either ignorant of the Fact that human personhood is a thing different from human life –or is in denial of that Fact. For some relevant prior information about “human life”, see #4, #5, #6, #76, and #94 –but there is more that can be brought into the current debunking of the BQ article, such as the information in #26 and #34.
At this point it is important to have a handy definition for the word “organism“. Notice that that definition does not specify anything about the environment in which an organism might exist. Also note that not every organism is required to exhibit all the characteristics listed –the average mule, for example, is unable to reproduce, but it is certainly an organism!
And now for a quote from the “intermission” portion of this document: “No matter how much you want to equate human-ness with personhood, it doesn’t work (too generic). For example, one of your white blood cells is perfectly human, has a full complement of human DNA, is perfectly alive –and is totally a non-person.” –This quote is why a definition of “organism” needs to be handy; the average abortion opponent tends to claim that the zygote qualifies as an organism, while the white blood cell does not. But the abortion opponent is wrong, as usual. A white blood cell can be extracted and placed in a suitably warm Petri dish with a suitable collection of life-support molecules, and that cell can continue to survive just fine, maintaining homeostasis, growing bigger, and even reproducing (cancerous white blood cells can certainly do that last thing).
After failing an argument about “organism”, the abortion opponent might say something like, “Well, the zygote is in the process of fulfilling its destiny, while the white blood cell does not have an equivalent destiny.” Wrong, again! But this time the reason the abortion opponent is wrong is more subtle. The word “potential” is now relevant, and the word “destiny” was just used to hide the Fact that, in essence, the real topic here is “potential”. Plus, there is one other key Fact that must be included: The zygote cannot fulfill its potential by itself. It needs help. If it cannot obtain help, such as what a Fallopian tube offers by starting to push it toward a womb, the result could be a deadly “ectopic pregnancy” that must be terminated to save an adult woman’s life.
So, if a zygote has potential and needs help to fulfill it, how does that compare to a white blood cell? Stem-cell researchers are seeking simple ways to “activate” any cell that has a full complement of DNA, into becoming the equivalent of a zygote (otherwise known as a “totipotent stem cell”). We know of no reason why they will not eventually succeed –they already can do it through complicated means, involving an ovum that has its DNA destroyed (“somatic cell nuclear transfer”). So we just need to learn what it is that an ovum possesses, that can activate the DNA of a white blood (or other) cell type….
Basically, just about everything that has a potential to take place also has a barrier preventing that potential from being fulfilled right now. The existence of barriers in no way affect the fundamental Fact regarding the existence of a potential. For a specific example, consider the a long staircase, with an abortion opponent at the top. The potential exists for that person to fall down the stairs and break the neck. It doesn’t matter if there is a nothing but the physical sense-of-balance between the person and the potential, or a railing, or a gate, or even twenty locked gates, between the person and the potential –the potential still exists, and can be fulfilled if the barriers are overcome.
Thus we can conclude that a white blood cell has exactly the same potential as a zygote, and merely needs help to fulfill that potential, to overcome barriers between it and its potential. As a consequence, the abortion opponent who thinks that help, overcoming barriers to the fulfillment of potential, must be provided to a human zygote –or to an embryo, or to a full-term fetus (see, it needs the help of a woman’s muscular contractions for birth to take place!)– now should address the things written in #97.2.5. OR the abortion opponent must admit that if it is possible to ignore the death of hundreds of human white blood cells when a “paper cut” happens, it is equally possible to ignore the deaths of human cells in stem-cell research. “Human life” is not that fundamentally important! Which leads us to back to SSR article, which indicated that “morally relevant personhood” is the more-important thing….
102.16 The paragraph is another quote from the SSR article, and specifically states, “The embryo is a potential human being” –and of course we can translate the last part of that as “human person”. But this is followed by something of a mistake, because, apparently, the author doesn’t actually know when “morally relevant personhood” begins! (And so a reminder of the content of #23 is now appropriate.)
102.17 The paragraph has the author of the BQ article jumping on the error made by the other author, although the focus here is “human-ness” instead of “personhood”. Nevertheless, if we consider the corrected focus, this author does raise a valid point. As long as stem-cell research only involves mere animal organisms, non-persons such as embryos, it doesn’t matter how many human cells each such organism possesses.
102.18 The paragraph is another quote from the SSR article, referring to the source of the embryos used in stem cell research as “slated for destruction”.
102.19 The paragraph disputes the rationale, that just because some embryos are marked for death, that doesn’t mean they deserve to be killed. However, again the focus is on the human-ness of those embryos, not the fact that they are mere animal organisms, non-persons. Thus is the author spouting nonsense.
102.20 The paragraph is another quote from the SSR article, an attempt to explain the ethicity of experimenting on those marked-for-death embryos, in terms of the “beneficence” previously mentioned.
102.21 The paragraph continues the BQ-article author’s focus on human-ness instead of personhood. More spouted nonsense, that is.
102.22 The paragraph is another quote from the SSR article, which starts with a description of the “Good Samaritan” parable in the Bible. The quote goes on to link abortion opponents to the priests who failed to offer the help that the Good Samaritan offered.
102.23 The paragraph starts with the author of the BQ article claiming that the other author missed the point of the parable. While it is true that parables can be interpreted in different ways, it appears that both authors have missed a relevant point. In general, the Samaritans were not considered to be nice people, like, say, most of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were not considered to be nice people. Part of the parable existed to point out that even in a generally reviled population, various individuals could very easily be better than the norm (Lot lived in Sodom, remember?). So, part of the power of Jesus’ parable is the context, in which an automatically-to-be-reviled Samaritan turns out to be a better person than some priests!
Besides that point, nothing else will be said here regarding a “better interpretation” of the parable of the Good Samaritan. However, more can be said about another thing the BQ-article author wrote in the paragraph, regarding a “moral duty to one who was vulnerable and defenseless.” This is a fine sentiment when talking about persons. It is nonsense when talking about most ordinary animals, however. We raise them to be vulnerable and defenseless, so we can kill them for food, remember? And others we kill just because we want the landscape they inhabit, to build more houses to accommodate the human Population Explosion. Why does it matter if we kill some for research? Stupid Prejudice regarding “human life”, eh? Tsk, tsk!
102.24 The final paragraph closes with a reiteration of the earlier equating of killing non-persons with killing legal persons. More nonsense, of course!
103. “Unborn humans have an innate ‘drive to survive’, just like you and me. It is part of our biological/evolutionary heritage (those organisms that didn’t have a drive to survive, obviously, all died). All humans are therefore exactly equal in that regard. So, what makes an adult so superior to an unborn human that its drive-to-survive can be discounted by allowing abortion?” MISDIRECTION, partly because this argument, like many others, assumes human animal organisms deserve the same treatment as person-class organisms. Not to mention that what it says is as applicable to bacteria as it is to humans…that is, humans and bacteria are also exactly equal in terms of having a drive-to-survive. Logically, if you accept this anti-abortion argument, then you cannot kill bacteria, either! Not unless you invoke Stupid Prejudice for human life over bacterial life….
There is more misdirection involved in that anti-abortion argument than just those things, but first let us note that, Objectively speaking, the argument is certainly correct about one thing: All living things certainly are exactly equal in the sense of having a drive-to-survive; none are in any sense Objectively superior to another in that regard. Nevertheless, we also know very well that “Nature doesn’t care” –humanity could exterminate itself in World War 3, and the Universe would carry on just fine without us. In the end, long-term survival of various species has been determined more by selfishness and pure chance (see #4 and #7), than by any innate superiority of a life-form (also see #5, regarding “valuations”). Trilobites survived for more than 250 million years, but none are alive today. Horseshoe crabs are still around, though, after 450 million years of survival. Modern humans, Homo Sapiens, have only existed for at most 1/5 of a million years…and cockroaches, which might survive World War 3 even if the horseshoe crabs don’t, have about 300 million years of history behind them.
The other aspect of “misdirection” in the current anti-abortion argument is the failure to recognize that more than one factor can be used to reach a Conclusion. For example, consider item #13, which concludes that that argument cannot properly be used by either side of the Overall Abortion Debate. Here, if all life-forms are “equal” in terms of having a drive-to-survive, then some other characteristic can be selected to reach the conclusion that pre-natal and post-natal humans are unequal. And for those who ask “why?” the answer is Simple: See above, regarding “bacteria”. What gives you the right to kill them, say by washing your hands after using the toilet, if you and they are both equal in terms of drive-to-survive? You choose some other factor/distinction, in which you and bacteria are not equal, to Conclude you have that right! (Note that while one could claim this is an aspect of Prejudice, such a claim would be true only if the chosen distinction was not also applied to humans, while being applied to other life-forms.)
So, what is an appropriate factor for distinguishing pre-natal and post-natal humans? See #29 for, in-essence, The Difference That Birth Makes. Yet that is a lesser factor, compared to “personhood”, as stressed many times in this document. On the other hand, when personhood is used as the differentiating factor, abortion opponents tend to focus on the gap, a significant number of months in duration, between the birth event and the aquisition of the Objective Generic characteristics personhood by the average human (see #20). THAT, TOO, IS MISDIRECTION. Infanticide, after all, has nothing to do with the subject of abortion!
On the gripping hand, it was pointed out (also in #20) that the Law grants “legal person” status to newborn humans in spite of the Objective Generic Facts –and the Law has done so since long before those Facts were discovered. However, today the legal system has decades of experience with scientific data, and it is known that Laws which are consistent with that data are generally superior to Laws that deny Facts. Logically, even though there is currently no great political push to synchronize the Law with the Science, regarding personhood, it is easy enough to imagine that such a thing might happen in the future. So, abortion opponents who ask “why not allow infanticide?”, in a failed attempt (see #20 about ancient Rome) to Reduce To Absurdity the Objective Generic Facts about personhood, are basically expressing concern about that future, in which newborns would lose the “right to life” that they currently are granted, thanks to the close Legal association of right-to-life with personhood.
Well, is there an alternate rationale to grant right-to-life to infant humans, even if legal personhood was stripped from them? YES! There is even more than one. Can those rationales be applied to unborn humans? NO! But before we get to the essentials of that remarkable combination of facts, let us explore the foundation of the connection between personhood and right-to-life in more detail….
Since one of the Objective Generic characteristics of persons appears to be the ability to rationally manipulate abstractions (#100.5), persons are able to invent concepts that mere/ordinary animals are unable to understand. The notion of right-to-life is, of course, one such concept. As mentioned in #3, human persons find that concept to be a useful tool in social situations. (To the extent that another characteristic of persons is the “social participation” stuff described in #100.8, we can expect extraterrestrial and other non-human persons to independently invent the right-to-life concept/tool, for exactly the same reason as humans.)
Without specifically inventing the concept of “morals” (see #19) or “ethics” (see #31), socially interacting humans discovered that they needed to get along with each other in order to accomplish tasks as a group. History is full of the awful consequences of persons not getting along with each other! Such things often began with simple disagreement about something, and then escalated to violence. That by itself isn’t so bad –witness, for example, plenty other species in which two males battle over females– but humans had something those other species didn’t: tools with the special purpose of making it easy to kill. The invention of right-to-life basically put a cap on the socially-acceptable amount of escalation of disagreement.
But there is more to it than only that. Human curiosity causes some to become wanderers, and others to be very interested in the news that an arriving wanderer might bring. On the other hand, curiosity isn’t the only thing that causes some humans to wander. Our biological heritage includes rebellious adolescents for a reason: They need the psychological armor of “independence” in order to dare to seek the resources needed to establish their ability to support offspring. Except that, after millions of years of human ancestors wandering the globe (ok, the Eastern Hemisphere) seeking resources, the land was about as full of hunter-gatherers as could be accommodated.
So, when a wanderer arrived, was that human just a curious explorer, or someone seeking to steal your resources? Anthropologists have discovered that primitive tribes had a definition of “people” that is somewhat different from that which is generally used in the Overall Abortion Debate: It basically meant “members of our tribe or clan” –and anyone else was a non-person. We see echos of that definition today whenever a genocide occurs (such as described here). It is the kind of Prejudice that humanity absolutely needs to “get out of its system” before going to the stars and beginning to interact with alien intelligences. Does humanity want to enter an interstellar war in which large asteroids can be used as planet-busting weapons?
In general, curiosity won, and customs evolved in which a wandering stranger was given a chance to prove peaceful intent. The same right-to-life associated with tribal members was temporarily bestowed on the stranger. Overall, we can see the beginnings of something that has been described as “The Social Contract“. But keep in mind that that is a description, not an actual formal contract. What humans instead invented was a Code of Laws, the earliest-known of which is attributed to Hammurabi of ancient Babylon.
While there is no explicit declaration of a right-to-life in Hammurabi’s Code, it did forbid various actions, such that the result can be described as “offering an increased opportunity for average folks to live longer, when abiding by the Code”. And it features a rather large number of death penalties for failing to abide by aspects of the Code. If we interpret that in terms of a Social Contract, then the net effect is, people who abide by it gain protections that are excluded from those who don’t abide by it.
We may now think of the U.S. Constitution (plus Amendments) in terms of a Social Contract (partly because Rosseau’s treatise was published in 1762, while the Constitution was written in 1787) –but let’s start with one of the dictionary definitions for the word “right”: “that to which one has a moral or legal claim”. In the Overall Abortion Debate, people claim that right-to-life is a morally-claimable thing, and indeed it can be –except that since Morals are Provably Arbitrary (see #19), the claim is about as worthless as the claims, made by each of two men from enemy tribes, that the other is a non-person. Meanwhile, the Constitution sets up a basis for legal claims. Is that basis arbitrary? NO, because the Preamble specifically states why that document was written! “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, ….“
So now we can start getting to the crux of personhood and right-to-life, with respect to the U.S Constitution as a Social Contract. First, it uses the word “person” throughout, and doesn’t use the word “human” even once. In the Intermission portion of this Refutations document is a possible explanation for why that is the case. It is only a guess, of course –but most documents do at least subtly reflect the era and beliefs of their writers. Anyway, the next relevant thing is a confusion that many people have about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (see #47) –right-to-life isn’t actually specifically associated with the Constitution until the 14th Amendment, and only for “persons born”. This obviously could pose a problem for persons who instead are, for example, extraterrestrial aliens hatched from eggs, True Artificial Intelligences built on an assembly line, or angels Created by God –why would any of those want to be a U.S. citizen if right-to-life was denied them? We definitely need to think more in terms of “person rights” than “human rights”! (See #91.)
Referring back to that defintion of “right” and its association with “claim”, here is a relevant but somewhat-facetious sort of Objective Generic characteristic of a person (not necessarily distinct enough from #100.5 for a separate listing): “A person is an entity able to (1) understand the abstract concept of ‘rights’, and (2) claim them for self.” As a result of that characteristic, we might now be able to say: “Rights basically exist because some people claim them, and others let them get away with it.” In particular, with respect to a generic Social Contract, we can imagine a Clause worded something like: “I will accept your claim that you have a right to life, provided you do the same for me.” (See? Every individual person can make the claim, and everyone else lets that entity get away with it!) Obviously rights regarding Liberty and Property and other things could exist if appropriate similar Clauses were included in that generic Social Contract.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Constitution wasn’t specifically written in the form of a Social Contract; it merely sets the stage for a mostly-ordinary Code of Laws to be written, in which rights (mostly listed in the Amendments) could be given legal protection and enforcement. But two things do closely relate the Constitution to a Social Contract. First is that opening phrase in the Preamble, “We, the People…” –and second is the fact that Representatives of the People signed that document on behalf of the People, and other Representatives of the People ratified that document in separate (State) legislatures, again on behalf of the People. In the realm of Contract Law, the concepts of “Objective” and “Subjective” don’t matter at all –what does matter is “agreement to be bound by the Contract”. As a result, because the Constitution-plus-Amendments specify various rights, and because the People mostly accept/abide-by that overall document, therefore do those rights exist in the USA. No other rationale need apply!
So, with the link between personhood and right-to-life now clearly established, we can now note that the Code of Laws allows for variations on a theme. For example, a “legal person” can be a corporation; it doesn’t have to be only a biological entity such as a human. That is, of course, very promising in terms of future relationships with non-human persons, such as True Artificial Intelligences and extraterrestrial aliens. But here is something very relevant: A newborn human is, currently, a legal person, and has right-to-life, but most corporations, also legal persons, generally do not. They are quite-often allowed to go out of business (equivalent of “die”), by, for example, a “hostile takeover” and “dismemberment” in the form of employee-firings and selling-of-assets. But persons with right-to-life are generally legally protected from equivalent things!
Well, if a legal person can be dissociated from right-to-life, can a non-person become associated with right-to-life? YES, the Legal Code is such that not only is it possible, it has already been done. See the “Endangered Species Act”. Almost every member of every known endangered species is a non-person (possibly excepting some whales). Note, however, that while the goal of that Act is to help those species to survive, this necessarily entails helping individual members of those species to survive. That is, technically, the Legal Code has granted right-to-life to endangered species more than to individual organisms –but the individuals benefit, anyway.
Finally we can get to a thing promised earlier, regarding the notion that if legal personhood is stripped from newborn humans, in order for the Law to become more consistent with the Objective Generic Science Facts about personhood, by what rationales could they still be granted right-to-life? And why would the rationales for doing that not be applicable to unborn humans? Here (and perhaps more will be added in the future):
103.1 Consider the subject of “pets”. It has previously (#20) been pointed out that severely handicapped humans have legal person status, but many are unable to qualify as persons in terms of Objective Generic characteristics; they are merely human animal organisms. Logically, if newborns –also human animal organisms– lose legal-person status, those severely handicapped humans would probably lose it, also. However, it happens that in general, the way those humans are treated strongly resembles the way that pets –ordinary animals– are pampered. It is not a far stretch to notice that newborn humans mostly need to be pampered like pets, as well, in order to grow healthily.
What does the Legal Code have to say about pets? In general, they have protection very similar to right-to-life! Only their owners are allowed to kill them (or take them to a place where they would be euthanized) –and since their owners generally want them, they are generally as safe as if they actually did have right-to-life. Well, since it is also generally true that the families of both severely handicapped humans and newborns generally want those humans in their lives, it could be quite Logical to grant them as much right-to-life as is given to pets.
It should be clear how the preceding could not generally protect unborn humans, because many are unwanted to the extent that abortions are sought. The owners of those human animal organisms are allowed to have them killed! And please note a Very Important Thing here: The more that abortions are allowed, the more that only wanted humans will be born to become pampered like pets! That is, forcing unwanted unborn humans to be carried to term does not automagically cause them all to be wanted after birth. So, the higher the allowed abortion rate, the lower would be the rate of legal infanticides.
103.2 The preceding rationale focuses on “want” without attempting to focus on “why” the want exists. It is reasonable to have done that because of a famous/ancient adage, “There is no accounting for taste.” A woman might want a child for no other reason than the Natural Mindless Biological Drive To Reproduce. In this rationale, however, we shall pay more attention to “why”, and the starting point is the Endangered Species Act. Why do we wish those species to survive?
There are various answers, ranging from the indignant (“What right do we have to make them extinct?!?”) to the pragmatic (“It is known that human psychological health benefits from interactions with other life-forms, and in general the more, the better.”) to the greedy (“Their genes might hold the keys to valuable medicines or other useful things.”). And others. In general, though, such reasons are basically associated with valuations of those species.
In general, humans value their offspring –we are “K-strategists”, after all (see #27). But the general statement isn’t always valid at the level of specific cases, else nobody would ever seek an abortion. A pregnant woman might say, for example, “I am not ready to value this offspring at this time!” –especially if she knows she can easily make another one later in the future. And, because there is no accounting for individual valuations, nobody can force a woman to value an unwanted offspring.
Meanwhile, there do exist some specific valuations for human offspring. A man, for example, might be proud of the fact that his son “carries on the male line”. A farmer might look forward to a future helper. Both parents might think about being cared-for in their old age. There are other valuations, of course, but no great need to try to list them all here.
We may now consider Property Law in general, rather than the specific type of property called “pets”. Property-owners choose to keep their property because they value it –and the Law grants protections to make it easier for them to actually-keep their property. It doesn’t matter that most ordinary properties are utterly life-less; what matters here is the granting of protection to that-which-is-valued.
So, if newborn humans are valued, they can be granted equivalent protection –which then turns out to be equivalent to right-to-life, even if in the future they are stripped of legal person status. Meanwhile, unborn humans that are not valued, and are unwanted by their owners, would remain unprotected. The owner decides the value; Property Law merely supports the owner’s valuation! And for anyone thinking that some other valuation should be applied to unborn humans, see #49.
103.3 Earlier it was mentioned how, when a wanderer encounters a tribe, the most-common thing is for the tribe to be suspicious, but, due to curiosity, to give the wanderer the benefit of the doubt until proved to be inimical. Let us consider this in terms of a Social Contract for that tribe, about which the wanderer knows absolutely nothing. Granting the benefit of the doubt means giving the wanderer time to learn about the tribe’s Social Contract, and to decide either to abide by it, or to go elsewhere –or, as a likely third possibility, to be killed.
So, while learning about the Social Contract, the wanderer has been granted a degree of the same right-to-life that the tribal members have claimed for themselves. If we now think about this in terms of the average newborn human, we are fully aware that that human, while interacting with other humans in the days and weeks and months after birth, is acquiring a huge amount of data subconsciously. This data eventually leads to learning language and the acquisition of personhood in accordance with the Objective Generic Facts –but it also leads to an understanding of how to behave in Society. Children are great imitators, remember? They are learning about the Social Contract, even without being explicitly taught!
Logically, therefore, we could consider granting right-to-life to newborns on the grounds that they deserve the benefit of the doubt while learning about the Social Contract (and, equally Logically, we should encourage the creation of specific education programs about it). Meanwhile, unborn humans are locked away in wombs, totally unable to interact with others in any manner associated with learning about the Social Contract. Furthermore, the unborn are actively defying certain things in the average Social Contract (see #27), even if they have no understanding of what they are doing. Therefore this rationale for granting right-to-life to newborns, even in the absence of having legal person status, simply cannot apply to the unborn.
104. An article has been posted here, which attempts to refute the association of an unborn human with the word “construction”, such as was done in #33, and apparently has been done by pro-choicers for a number of years (the article is dated Sept. 2, 2008). The article has 20 paragraphs and is sort-of divided into three parts (per two sub-headings). We can note that the title of the article uses the word “making” as a synonym for “manufacturing”, or other creative process that requires effort external to the end-result (like “constructing” or “building”).
104.1 The introductory paragraph refers to an “op-ed” (opinion/editorial) that was published in the “New York Times” in December of 2005, by a Dalton Conley, which presented a description of a fetus as an “individual under construction”. The paragraph also talks about how this could explain why the arguments of abortion opponents can be considered absurd or irrational (although we know there are plenty of other reasons why such arguments are absurd and irrational).
104.2 The paragraph mentions Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain (in 2008), and an apparent contradiction with respect to his supporting right-to-life from conception, as well as embryonic stem-cell research, which might be explained in terms of the “construction” concept. However, no rationale is offered at this time for how the contradition might be explained. We might think it more logical that McCain was being two-faced (like many politicians), than being rational.
104.3 The paragraph begins explaining the “construction” concept, mostly in terms of “When is a car, on an assembly line, worthy of being called a car?” It correctly notes that different people would have different answers to that Question.
104.4 The paragraph notes that everyone would agree that the car is not present at the very beginning of the assembly line, when the first components are connected together.
104.5 The paragraph describes what could be called the essence of the “construction” idea, that many “believe a baby should have absolute protection once it has been fully fabricated. But until that point …” it makes sense to allow abortion.
104.6 The paragraph describes a “constructionist” encountering the argument by an abortion opponent that right-to-life should begin at conception, in the words of Michael Kinsley via the “Washington Post”: “I cannot share, or even fathom [such] conviction …”.
104.7 The paragraph states that “there is a deep truth” in the notion that something can hardly be a certain kind of thing before it has the form of that kind of thing. This of course clues us into how the author of article plans to show how Natural Mindless Biology doesn’t build things the same way as ordinary human construction techniques.
104.8 The paragraph mentions the Conley op-ed, which indicated that even a partly-constructed thing could in some circumstances be valued almost as much as the finished product –but only because there are no show-stoppers between that early stage and the end-result. It is noted that in stem-cell research, the desired end-result sought by researchers is entirely different from the end-result of Natural Mindless Biology, when left alone.
104.9 The paragraph notes that because of the preceding, John McCain and other abortion opponents could rationally favor stem-cell research, mostly because of the Fact that such cells are often acquired before they become attached to wombs, after which the construction process normally switches to a rather high rate. In a sense it could be stated that most stem cells used in research were never near the “assembly line” mentioned in #104.3.
104.10 The paragraph begins after the first internal section-heading, “Development as an alternative to construction”, and flat-out declares the construction idea to be “radically misleading”. It is stated that “Life is not made. Life develops.” Actually, however, it depends on the point of view! Looking at a macroscopic life-form from the outside, we can see something that certainly can be called “development”. But looking at it up-close, at the cellular level, we see “construction”! As an analogy, consider looking at the Tigris-Euphrates region of Earth from the Moon with a telescope, roughly six thousand years ago. Did a civilization “develop” between those rivers, or was it “constructed”? (There will be more on the point-of-view later.)
104.11 The paragraph describes the construction process more-or-less as starting from the inside and adding stuff toward the outside, and how a partly-constructed thing can often be re-purposed to become, ultimately, some rather different thing. Meanwhile a growing life-form supposedly neither follows that overview-of-construction, nor can lead to “some rather different thing. Actually, however, there are a couple things wrong with the paragraph. For example, there are more ways to construct something than the paragraph describes, and some examples include “spinning fibers into thread”, “whittling”, “painting a picture”, “knitting”, “masking and molecular-beam-epitaxy and etching of integrated circuits”, “paper manufacturing”, “3D printing” –and then there is most of the “packaging industry” (including “canning”, “bottling”, and “boxing”) that works from the outside in, not from the inside out. And as for life-forms only developing a certain way, think about what happens when some environmental toxin messes up the biochemistry –radical deformities can easily occur! Then remember that every new species starts out as a “deformed” version of some other species….
104.12 The paragraph reiterates in more detail the claim that living organisms are not formed or defined from the outside, that they don’t need to be molded to become something, because they already are, from fertilization, definite types of organisms. Actually, however, there is more to it than that. Life-forms are often “adaptable” to their environments. That is, their environments can apply “stress” to an organism in such a way that its growth reflects a manner of accommodating the stress. For example, a human that grows up in the Andes Mountains will have a larger lung capacity and a higher red-blood-cell count than a human that grows up at sea-level. A human who grows up climing trees with a monkey will have longer fingers and stronger arms than one who doesn’t. And any human that does not receive appropriate Nurturing in infancy and early childhood will grow up to be no more than a clever animal organism, “feral”, and not a person-class entity (see #10).
Please keep in mind that that last example is crucial, because a human organism is not innately a person-class entity. Every human who ever became a person in accordance with Objective Generic Characteristics (perhaps those described in #100) got that way only by growing/constructing additional brain structures/capacity for data processing in response to stresses associated with data input. Also remember that Koko the Gorilla was able to do that, too (if not to the full extent to which the average human can do it) –so personhood is independent of “human-ness”.
104.13 The paragraph presents an analogy between the way a living thing develops and the way an old-fashioned Poloroid picture develops. The analogy is quite good, but it still suffers from the point-of-view problem; the details of the process of Poloroid picture-development involves a lot of molecules specially designed/constructed to absorb the energy of light-photons and then interact in certain specific ways, thereby constructing an image. If you use Google to search for this: ["molecular biology" nanotech] (pretend the brackets represent the search box), you will get more than 4 million results. “Nanotechnology” will ultimately be both a set of tools for constructing things, and a construction technique –it could be argued that the chemistry going on inside a developing Poloroid picture is nanotechnolgy in action, constructing the image. And “Molecular Biology” Is How Nature Already Does Nanotechnology To Construct Things, Inside Every Single Life-Form.
The paragraph also happens to contain a couple items of the standard nonsense typically spouted by most abortion opponents, notably the mis-use of the phrase “human being” (when a major part of the article relates to stem cells), and the claim that humans are “uniquely” valuable (when Nature doesn’t care in the least). Tsk, tsk!
104.14 The paragraph attempts to explain why “constructionism” and “developmentalism” each seem more reasonable in different descriptive circumstances, but the author fails to mention the large-scale-vs-fine-scale point-of-view thing, as the real explanation. The Fact is, while developmentalism is almost always a workable description from a large-scale viewpoint, it can never eliminate the accuracy of a constructionism description at the fine-scale viewpoint.
Consider the foundation element of most life-forms, the cell. It acquires resources (construction materials), and when it has acquired enough, then it uses those materials to construct a duplicate of itself. As a specific example, consider how it duplicates its DNA: One end of a double-helix is split so that there are two separate strands (imagine a hair with a split-end). For each of those strands, starting at the end, new molecules are added from the accumulation of construction materials, creating a new double-helix. This most certainly is a “construction” process! Usually the duplicate cell is so perfect a copy that it is impossible to identify the original cell, afterward. So, since in a growing multicellular organism, enormous numbers of cells are doing that basic thing, constructing copies of themselves, it is still accurate to call the overall process a “construction project”.
Another thing is, the word “development” is normally dissociated from a philosophical thing, well-known to the construction industry, called “Murphy’s Law”. Yet it is a Fact that the construction process of an unborn human can go wrong, in perfect accordance with Murphy’s Law, in a significant number of different ways, which is why about 50% of all conceptions fail to result in confirmed pregnancies, and about 15% of all confirmed pregnancies miscarry. Therefore we can reiterate: The wide-scale viewpoint of developmentalism can never eliminate the accuracy of a constructionism description at the fine-scale viewpoint.
104.15 The paragraph attempts to show that by thinking about the end-result of the growth process exhibited by most life-forms, developmentalism makes more sense. Actually, however, this is just a feeble attempt to equate the potential with the actual (and thoroughly debunked in #13, #14, #15, and especially #16.
104.16 The paragraph is the first of the third section of the article, under the sub-heading “Deconstruction and the disabled”. It describes the disassembly of a car, and asks at what point you would no longer consider it to be a car. We can be Logical about that, and conclude that different people will have different opinions, just as they have different opinions during the construction process.
104.17 The paragraph starts by saying that “life is different”. So long as it is alive, an organism is what it has always been, no matter how decrepit. There is nothing wrong with that, but we can note that this part of the article appears to be diverging significantly from the Overall Abortion Debate. Abortion interrupts a construction process, not a deconstruction process!
104.18 The paragraph makes a claim about living things that is nonsense, when compared against the preceding analysis and various Known Facts. That is, it claims “Since a living thing is [more than] only an assemblage of parts, it actually cannot be merely constructed.” FALSE! The paragraph also describes something very much like what was previously in this document called “the drive to survive” –so see #103 for that and associated debunking.
104.19 The paragraph mentions the phrase “persistent vegetative state” (see #94.10 and #101) –and promptly fails to recognize the difference between “a human” and “a human being” (see #100). We fully recognize that the drive-to-survive is inherently part of every animal body, and we know that both human and animal minds can exhibit such a drive, also. Logically, though, if a human brain is damaged so badly that the mind is destroyed, the mind’s drive-to-survive will likely also be destroyed –but the drive-to-survive of the mere animal body will remain. That does not benefit the destroyed person –the mind– one whit! The person, already dead, is not going to notice if the body dies.
104.20 The concluding paragraph tries to compare the common infirmites of accident and age with the lack of person-class abiltiies of unborn humans-under-construction. The analogy does not work very well, because it is well-known how most humans who die of old age can exhibit person-class abilities right up to the final loss of consciousness. Even people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can exhibit most of the collection of person-class abilities, if only to somewhat lesser degree than typical. To the extent that they might eventually and actually lose their personhood in terms of Objective Generic Tests, there still remain at least three major relevant points. First, the Law continues to grant them full legal person status. Second, even if they end up as the equivalent of “feral children”, human animal non-persons, they can still be as cherished as pets (see #103.1). And third, this doesn’t really have anything to do with the Overall Abortion Debate, which involves humans that never-in-the-first-place had acquired personhood!
105. An essay posted here has been requested to be debunked. At first glance one might think that a “quick response” could consist of reviewing #13 here, but the essay is actually quite a treatise. It has a preface, an abstract, acknowledgements and definitions, an introduction and eleven major sections (marked “A” through “K”), each of which has a significant number of subsections and/or paragraphs. Thus it appears at second glance that a thorough debunking of the essay as a whole is going to be a lengthy process. So be it…. On the gripping hand, however, there is the fact that the essay contains quite a bit of valid information, which we can skip without scrutinizing. In no way does that prevent the essay from including invalid data, and thereby reaching an invalid conclusion. It is even possible that the author’s fundamental mistake will be revealed near the beginning of the essay, after which the main body might simply become ignore-able, because none of the detailed valid data, occupying most of the essay, would in any way affect the author’s fundamental mistake. So, the exact length of this particular debunking remains to be determined!
105.Preface.1 While not actually marked as a preface (or “foreword”), we can use the label here to distinguish the initial 5 paragraphs of the overall essay (which is what the author calls this treatise, in the very first paragraph). This paragraph states that the overall goal of the essay is to show how a human embryo qualifies as a person. We might be able to stop right here. See #12, and the “Update” portion of #10, along with the dictionary-definition stuff in #99 and the Objective Generic Characteristics stuff in #100, for reminders that a human body is not automatically a person!
105.Preface.2 The paragraph mentions a number of other writers who separately had expressed doubts (or even incredulity) that a small number of human cells could be equated with a person, and thus the author of the essay was inspired to respond. We may perceive a problem in that those other writers failed to be as explicit as is this overall Refutations document, about the difference between “person” and “human”. That is, how would the author of the essay respond to the points raised in #12 and the “Update” section of #10? More, what about the “intelligent R-strategist” scenario presented in #27 and #28? It appears that the author’s arguments would require most members of that species to die in a Malthusian Catastrophe, over and over and over again!
105.Preface.4 The paragraph dispels any doubt that the author of the essay is ignorant of the distinction between “human” and “person”. While the author claims that only scientific Facts will be presented, the most important Fact is missed, that the development of personhood is not an innate characteristic of human biology. As described in the “Update” section of #10, personhood exists as a consequence of Nurture, not Nature. We can also take note of #103, which shows how “right to life” is linked to personhood, and is not necessarily linked to “human-ness”. So, when the author states, “… if you grant that a rational human adult has a right to life, then you must also grant that an embryo or fetus has a right to life, too.” –the author is clearly not aware of the fact that adult-human rationality is part of Nurtured Personhood, different from biological development. So, right-to-life is granted to human persons, while not granted to human non-persons (such as the brain-dead on full life-support or hydatidiform moles). It Is Very Simple!
105.Preface.5 The paragraph describes a couple other/secondary goals of the author of the essay. One of them is an attempt to refute a quite-famous pro-choice argument. (Such arguments are generally not part of this document, because the goal here involves focusing on anti-abortion arguments. Also, in reviewing that section of the essay, the author merely presents the arguments of others, and doesn’t present anything new.) The other secondary goal relates to “psychological harm”, and that was debunked in #53
105.Abstract This paragraph has a title, “My argument in a nutshell”, which suffices to call it an “abstract”. As indicated above, the author expresses the flawed opinion that “human” automatically equals “person”, and therefore, according to that opinion, it is possible to show that the single cell of a human zygote (or any later stage developing in a womb) qualifies as being equivalent to a human adult. When discussing biology only, the author is completely correct. However, personhood is independent of biology –else it would be impossible, ever for a True Artificial Intelligence to exist, while humans are quite willing to accept that they could in theory exist. So, see #1, and other places in this document that mentions the subject of “small growing machines”. Only personhood is truly associated with right-to-life (again see #103). There really is no need to continue this particular debunking.
106. An abortion argument located here was requested to be examined. The title of this article is, partly, “Concern for Our Vulnerable Prenatal and Neonatal Children”, and indicates it is a reply to another article. This one has 12 paragraphs, of which the 9th is a quotation from that other article. The author is described as being an “Assistant Professor of Theology”, which implies some Religion-based arguments may be involved here.
Before focusing on the body of the article, however, let’s take a moment to note that the article’s title mis-uses the word “children”. As thoroughly explained in #33 and #99, prenatal humans are different from children, so different it is even ethically wrong to call them that. Tsk, tsk!
106.1 The opening paragraph describes the overall situation. The other article, to which this one is a reply, apparently offered a defense for the practice of infanticide. That topic does not especially concern us here (but see #103), because the purpose of studying this article involves what it has to say about abortion. Neverthless, there is no doubt that some arguments which favor allowing abortion can also favor allowing infanticide. However! The validity of such arguments does not automatically mean that we must change the existing “line”, at birth, past which young humans are arbitrarily granted Legal Person Status and associated right-to-life.
The last part of the paragraph notes that infantice was practiced widely in ancient times, and still is practiced in places not influenced by Judeo-Christian traditions. China and India are specifically mentioned, which is almost too-funny. If infanticide was practiced as often as those against it would have you fear (especially when abortion opponents bring up the subject), then how did China and India become the two most heavily populated nations on the planet?
106.2 The paragraph starts with with something of a claim that Judeo-Christian tradition is the source of the claim that all members of species H. Sapiens are persons with right-to-life. However, the claim cannot be entirely true, either for Jews, or for Christians, who have argued on opposite sides of just about every imaginable issue (the linked article only describes arguments among Catholics about abortion).
The paragraph continues with a fairly standard Religious phrase, “the sanctity of human life”, which is something not previously examined in this document. Basically, the idea is that human life is special in a Religious sense, not just an Objective sense (see #4 and #6). Words such as “sacred” and “holy” are used –except that if one really studies the meanings of those words, you find a set of synonyms and little else. Something like “Word A means B, and word B means C, and word C means D, and word D means A” –leaving you to wonder what they really mean! It becomes easy to think they all are just buzz-words, such as con-artists like to use. One possible “meaningful” meaning, for the entire group of synonyms, is “approved-of by God” –but whether or not anything actually is approved-of by God just a claim, entirely unproved! (That is, merely calling something “sacred” doesn’t automatically mean God approves.) Not to mention that one of the standard Biblical stories is about God killing almost everyone on Earth in a Flood –where in that is a sense that human life, generically, is approved-of by God? We may therefore conclude that the phrase “sanctity of human life” is basically meaningless drivel, until actual evidence comes along to support the notion.
Next, the paragraph makes the same error that the title contains, mis-using the language regarding “child”. But that is ignorable here, because no big deal is made of it in this paragraph, which has the thrust of noting that modern attempts to define “person” in terms of such characteristics as rationality, and self-awareness, work to disqualify both unborn and newborn humans. So the authors of the other article, the one to which this one is a reply, claim that if such a definition of “person” is used to support abortion, it should also be used to support infanticide. However! We can note that Logic doesn’t quite work that way. “Should” implies that one has little Choice, Free Will, regarding a decision. A definition of “person” that supports abortion could be used to support infanticide, but that doesn’t mean it “should” be used that way. Since people do have Free Will, some are quite likely to support infanticide, while others might refuse to do so, despite knowing that they could.
106.3 The paragraph claims that the Catholic Church has, for most of 2000 years, been making the logical error just described. Tsk, tsk! Some specific historical decrees are quoted in the paragraph, which don’t concern us here.
106.4 The paragraph starts with the author specifically pointing out the same error noted above. Good show! The paragraph goes on to mention some rationales by which one might believe it is acceptable to permit abortion. Is there a “catch” coming up?
106.5 The paragraph focuses on one particular rationale, different from the others in the last paragraph, regarding “what it is” that an apparent majority of people think about “the type of organism which is an unborn human” (although the word “child” is actually mis-used, instead, a couple times in this paragraph’s descriptions).
106.6 The paragraph states that various arguments exist to conclude that prenatal humans are different enough from postnatal humans that only the latter might reasonably be granted person status. A few things are mentioned, and the paragraph goes on to state that those things are not significant enough, as they would fail to distinguish infant humans from ordinary animals –using phrasing common in this Refutations document, why shouldn’t those animals also be granted person status, unless one is Stupidly Prejudiced?
We can now review the manner in which this document deals with some of the points just raised. First, there is #29 for the very significant Difference That Birth Makes. It is not specifically about personhood, however, which means that the “animals” thing mentioned in the previous paragraph does not apply. However, the notion of “souls” is also mentioned in #29, and certainly Religions conventionally associate personhood with souls. As it happens, this also avoids the “animals” problem, because animals are not generally perceived as having person-class souls –if/when they are even considered to have souls at all.
Then there are the many-times-mentioned Objective Generic Tests for personhood, such as suggested in #100, specifically to distinguish all types of persons from animals, secularly (no Religious concepts involved). We fully understand that infant humans (and even early-stage toddlers) fail such Tests, but it has also been noted that the Science of such Tests, and the Law, are two different things (see #20). And #103 shows that even if infanticide was allowed, and personhood was denied to infant humans, there still exist reasons why they could be mostly protected. Finally, there is #82, which describes difficulties regarding how the Law might be modified to match the Science of personhood Tests (it could be simpler just to leave things be!).
106.7 After what might be called “reviewing various things” in the prior paragraphs, this paragraph is apparently the starting point for the author’s argument (in alignment with teachings of the Catholic Church). The main characterisic of personhood involves “substances of a rational and relational nature”, things which are supposedly part of the inherent nature of a human. While we might note that part of this paragraph is in alignment part of this Refutations document (see #16), other things have been soundly debunked (#28 and the “Update” section of #10). Note that this paragraph is actually the “main” one, in terms of the Overall Abortion Debate –and, as usual, the argument fails to be a valid reason to oppose abortion. This article really is mostly about infanticide.
106.8 The paragraph states that pro-lifers should hold a view that can accommodate its logical consequences, and mentions a problem pointed out several times in this document, the fact that a large percentage of egg-fertilizations Naturally fail to result in successful pregnancies. But the paragraph also states that pro-choicers must hold an equally-robust viewpoint, and be able to respond, in a Debate, to any “reductio ad absurbdum” argument against that viewpoint….
106.9 The author has selected this paragraph to quote from the other article (to which this one is a reply) in order to present an example in which that other article might fail the “robustness” test. In a way, the quoted paragraph is basically stating, “We don’t know when personhood actually begins, but we are sure it is sometime after birth.” (Another mention of #82 is now appropriate.)
106.10 The paragraph consists of just two sentences, focused on the way the quoted paragraph appears to avoid specifying when personhood should be considered as having been achieved. As far as this Refutations document is concerned, remember that it is primarily focused on anti-abortion arguments, and whether or not infanticide was legal does not affect the Overall Abortion Debate. There is no need for it to attempt to tackle the hard question of “When exactly does personhood begin?” which should be expected to be answered by anyone promoting legalization of the killing of infant human non-persons.
106.11 The paragraph starts with a consideration of a pig, known to be a fairly intelligent animal (smarter than dogs). The apparent goal of the paragraph, though, is to show how the notion of “infanticide” could easily be stretched to include toddlers, probably to make the concept as repugnant as possible. So it is appropriate to mention that, per #20, nothing forces the Law to change to match Science Tests For Personhood, and, per #103 a reasonable compromise is possible, regarding mostly protecting young humans, even if infanticide was legal.
106.12 The final paragraph starts by verifying that the prior paragraph did have the purpose of making infanticide maximally repugnant. The rest of the paragraph is mostly “politicking”, an encouragement for Christians to band together in an ethically correct way, to respond to issues such as those raised in the other article, to which this one is a reply. AGREED, even though they don’t really know what they are talking about, with respect to ethics and the Overall Abortion Debate. Perhaps they will read this Refutations document, and learn….
107. An article located here, titled “Human Personhood Begins at Conception” was requested to be debunked. As it happens, this particular article was studied when the original 60 Refutations were written; the main point it raises (different from certain very common anti-abortion arguments) was refuted in #15, #28, and #59. However, it can’t hurt to tackle the article paragraph-by-paragraph, just to make its failings perfectly clear. It consists of no less than 70 paragraphs (although a few are quite short, just a single sentence), preceded by something that looks like an “editorial introduction” not written by the author (and so it shall be ignored). This is going to be a lengthy debunking! A final note, before beginning: The author is a philosopher associated with the Catholic Church, and so certain Religious viewpoints will inevitably be involved in the following.
107.1 The author’s introductory paragraph makes some generic statements about the Overall Abortion Debate, reflecting some common opinions regarding the complexity of the issue. There is nothing obviously wrong with it, but the author is simply setting things up for a “zinger” in the next paragraph.
107.2 The paragraph states that everything in the previous paragraph is a “dangerous lie”. Well, the author is entitled to an opinion, of course. But actual lies depend on how various statements compare to Facts. The claim made in this paragraph is worthless unless it can be backed-up with evidence….
107.3 The paragraph claims that there is only one reason for some people to argue about the personhood of unborn humans –paraphrasing, “those people want to justify abortion.” However, the author is flat-out wrong. This overall Refutations document clearly indicates that personhood is a matter of Universal importance. Correctly identifying any type of person from any type of ordinary animal is absolutely vital, to prevent intetstellar wars in the long run. Concluding that unborn humans lack personhood is a side-effect of any Truly Objective Generic Universal Definition of Personhood. So, that counts as another reason to argue about the personhood of unborn humans, and therefore the author of the article is flat-out wrong, to claim that there is only one such reason.
107.4 The paragraph begins with the claim that “abortion is a clear-cut evil” –this obviously derives from Religious Philosophy, not Objective Fact. But the author attempts to claify, by talking about the supposedly logical consequences of honestly seeking “peace on earth, good will toward men” (in the generic sense of “men”). Here we can point to the Evidence that unborn humans are not in any sense exhibiting good will toward others (see #27), so why should anyone expect them to automatically be deserving of receiving good will?
There is more to the paragraph than just that. A Standard Religious Claim is made, regarding humans being made “in the image of God” and therefore are “sacred”. Well, that word “sacred” was debunked in #106.2, and the “God’s image” thing is provably utter nonsense. By Definiton, God is a purely non-physical entity, and therefore cannot have an “image” that can be copied to the physical realm. Furthermore, that statement just made is supported by the 2nd Commandment –logically, if God cannot be represented by some sort of Graven Image (including human form), a generic ban on such images makes perfect sense.
Finally, the paragraph implies that those who seek to introduce controversy into a “moral position” cannot have principles –FALSE, obviously, since, as was pointed out in #19, morals are arbitrary. Different cultures have made different arbitrary Pronouncements regarding some things being “moral” and other things being “immoral”. Thus controversy can exist whenever two people happen to come from cultures that possess different sets of morals. It was pointed out in #31 that “ethics” has a chance of being superior to morals, because ethicists seek to built upon an Objective/non-arbitrary basis –for example, “Persons need to get along with each other”. Abortion could be deemed unethical if it could be proved that unborn humans qualified as persons. The title of the present article indicates that its goal is to do exactly that, and the goal of this part of this overall Refutations document is to show that the present article is mostly nonsense, one paragraph at a time.
107.5 In this paragraph the author presumes to have offended pro-choicers with prior statements made, and would “examine that offense” –which itself might be offensive! After all, people have Free Will, which means anything might be chosen to qualify as “offensive” to someone. The author has no way of knowing the manner in which others might have taken offense at things so-far examined in the article!
Anyway, the author points out, in essence, that many people use their Free Wills to select a particular position in a Debate, and then focus their reasoning powers to find ways to support their chosen positions, regardless of whether a given position qualifies as “good” or “ill”. While that is a well-known observation, the author ignores the problem of, “who decides what is ‘good’ or ‘ill’?” Do recall what was previously stated about different cultures choosing different moral values! Also, note that the author associates the idea of using reasoning to support an “ill” position with “rationalizing” –the author may be exhibiting a type of prejudice there….
The last part of the paragraph indicates the importance of honesty, and defines it as “an uncompromising love of truth, objective truth”. Unfortunately, while plenty of Objective Facts exist, they do not all automatically translate as “truths” in terms of “good” or “ill”. All valuations are relative (see #5)!
107.6 The paragraph claims that objectivity and an open mind can lead to honest convictions, while prejudice can’t. However, it ignores the Fact that objectivity alone is not always sufficient. Whenever a conclusion is derived from various Facts, it is often possible to reach a different conclusion when additional Facts are included. It means it is very possible to honestly reach an erroneous conviction! It is unfortunately often true that many people encounter some Facts, reach a particular conclusion, and then close their minds to additional Facts, which might have led them to a different conclusion. This doesn’t make their conviction, regarding their conclusion, dishonest — but it does make it “honestly misplaced”.
107.7 In this paragraph the author appeals for total honesty, and acknowledges that it is a difficult thing to accomplish. We shall see where that leads….
107.8 The author invites the reader to consider the question of exactly why the reader is reading the document, and whether or not the rationale involves seeking truth. We could answer that quite simply: As has been pointed out with multiple examples in this overall Refutations document, many anti-abortion arguments are based on an incomplete collection of Facts. This particular article is being examined in order to point out at least some of the Facts that have been excluded, and which led to erroneous conclusions.
107.9 The paragraph indicates that Sigmund Freud was a proponent of the notion that all reasoning qualifies as “rationalizing” –and then the author claims that the notion defeats itself (it had to be “rationalizing” that led to the conclusion that all reasoning involves rationalizing). On the other hand, the author has clearly and arbitrarily associated “rationalizing” with reasoning that had the goal of supporting an “ill” moral position. But since the author hasn’t answered the question of “Who decides what is ‘good’ or ‘ill?”, it becomes quite logical that “rationalizing” can be the operative word in any situation –the word does not have to be associated with “ill” reasoning!
107.10 The paragraph mentions some ways in which common language terms, in the Overall Abortion Debate, are inherently prejudicial and non-Objective, and how difficult it can be to find appropriate terms that are actually neurtal. AGREED –it is one reason why the term “unborn human” has been so often used in this overall Refutations document. It is a perfectly factual label, and doesn’t presume to say more about the organism than is actually there (unlike, say, the phrase “unborn human being” –see #33 and #99).
107.11 The paragraph mentions claims (without providing any supporting evidence) to the effect that 90% of abortions are related to adulterous sex. In seeking to find some sort of relevant data, at least some surveys never mention the notion. One might think that if 90% of abortions are related to one paricular thing, anonymous suveys would be asking about it!
We might now be somewhat finicky about the definition of “adulterous sex”. Biblically speaking, adultery involves a married person having sex outside the marriage –even more finicky (and archaically hypocritical): in some interpretations only the married woman can be adulterous! Therefore, sex between unmarried persons cannot qualify as “adultery” –yet quite a few abortions can be linked to sex unassociated with marriage. It seems reasonable to conclude that the author has perpetuated nonsense, in that paragraph.
107.12 The paragraph states that answering the fetal personhood question is “crucial” three different ways, regarding the abortion issue, medical ethics, and the future of civilization. AGREED.
107.13 The paragraph focuses on how fetal personhood affects the Overall Abortion Debate, but makes some errors while doing so. For example, the buzzword “innocent” is used, when the Fact is (see #27), unborn humans are not at all “innocent”, and the actions of which they are guilty might be deserving of a death penalty. Then there is the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which specifically grants rights not to persons, generically, but only to “persons born”. So, even if unborn humans qualified as persons, they wouldn’t get any rights until birth. And third, the issue of “slavery” or “involuntary servitude”, generally forbidden by the 13th Amendment, is ignored. Traditionally, in cultures that banned slavery, those who would create slaves (“slavers”) were given death sentences. An unborn human person might not consciously enslave a woman as a life-support system, but the result is still “involuntary servitude”. (Meanwhile, abortion opponents might exactly qualify as “slavers”….)
The paragraph closes with this statement, which will come back later to haunt the author: “Persons have a ‘right to life’ but non-persons (e.g., cells, tissues, organs, and animals) do not.” Two ways in which it will haunt the author will be presented later.
107.14 The paragraph focuses on how fetal personhood affects medical ethics, and also makes a significant error, claiming that right-to-life is fundamental –except that was debunked in #3. The author also fails to maintain neutrality at the end of the paragraph. “We must intolerantly kill intolerance” is quite proper, but “we must kill killing” is a statement that assumes fetal personhood and right-to-life has been solidly established. Tsk, tsk!
107.15 The paragraph focuses on how fetal personhood affects civilization through the medical ethics issue. It mentions the classic science-fiction novels “Brave New World” and “1984”, without mentioning other fiction that relates to a possible Malthusian Catastrophe due to overpopulation. Too Much Of Any Good Thing Is Always A Bad Thing!
107.16 This “paragraph” is actually a single sentence claiming there are at least six other background issues. OK….
107.17 The paragraph contains the author’s list of those other issues, but the first, “Do Objective values exist?”, appears to “lead” to most of the others: “If they exist, then….” Well, because of #5 in this Refutations document, we can ignore some of the author’s items.
Two of them, however, bear special mention. First, “What is the purpose of human life?” makes the unwarranted assumption that there actually exists some purpose. But if there isn’t any purpose, because human life exists only as a result of purely random Evolutionary events, then there is no need to ask that question. If the author wants to claim that there actually exists some purpose for human life, then that is the sort of “positive claim” such that the Burden of Proof falls upon the claimant. At this point in the article, though, no evidence (to say nothing of proof) is offered.
Second, the paragraph mentions that “radical feminism” has questioned traditional Religion-derived values on the basis that women are treated unfairly, possibly as badly as if they were nothing more than brood-mares. This relates to an idea that in the early days of human tribes, it was not known that sex and offspring were related –the relationship wasn’t discovered until humans began managing herds of animals, and wondered why, when the sexes were separated, no offspring were born. The discovery enabled male humans, physically stronger than females, to acquire a rationale to try to control women to the extent that the men would know for sure if they had successfully fathered offspring. In almost every other species, males must earn the privilege of breeding with a female, but human males decided to use force. We might now conclude that the main reason many men oppose abortion is because it takes away their usurpation of women’s biologically Natural choice, regarding men earning their favors, for breeding. No such man would admit any such thing, of course! Which leaves the feminists appearing to be more “radical” than perhaps they actually are. Alas.
107.18 In this paragraph the author states the intention of only arguing about fetal personhood. There is a peculiarity in how part of the paragraph is worded, as if question was totally settled in the affirmative, and therefore any questioning of that affirmation must be inherently flawed. The last sentence of the paragraph specifically asks how pro-choicers argue against the [assumed settled-in-the-affirmative] case, implying to us that much of the author’s article might be nothing more than a cop-out (by assuming fetal personhood has been established, without actually establishing it).
107.19 This paragraph, instead of directly presenting a pro-choice argument, starts out with a description of something called “moral reasoning”. The general idea is that one can specify a “major premise” regarding Good or Evil, and then one can specify a “minor premise” indicating how something fits inside the major premise. The author then states the anti-abortion position in terms of two such premises, where the Biblical “Thou shalt not murder” is the major premise, with “murder” defined as the deliberate killing of innocent human beings –and the minor premise is that abortion involves exactly such killing, which logically makes it wrong.
It is tempting to now point out the classic errors the author has propagated in that paragraph. But better opportunities to do that, in detail, are coming up, so….
107.20 The paragraph states that there are two significantly different pro-choice responses to the above anti-abortion argument. One denies the major premise (essentially, the inherent value of humans), and one denies the minor premise (the humanity of the unborn).
Now is an excellent place to point out a significant error. In this overall Refutations document, there is no attempt to deny the humanity of the unborn. Instead, its innocence and its personhood are denied. That is, paraphrapsing something written three paragraphs ago, “abortion involves killing non-innocent human non-beings/persons”, and therefore that killing does not qualify as “murder”. Remember, the author of the article has in no way yet established that the unborn human qualifies as a person! (To say nothing of proving it qualifies as “innocent”.) In a Debate, the Burden of Proof falls upon the one making the positive claim, such as “an unborn human is a person”. No such proof has yet been offered.
107.21 The paragraph talks about how very few Christians would argue against the major premise, and therefore the author intends to focus on the argument against the minor premise. Obviously another error has just been made! Not all pro-choicers are Christians, and if they argue against the major premise, it is as much their right to do so (per “freedom of Religion”) as it is for Christians to support the major premise. So, since no Religious viewpoint is considered inherently superior to the others (in a culture embracing Relgious freedom), it logically follows that the author cannot simply ignore arguments against the major premise!
It can now be mentioned that #103 made the effort to describe how right-to-life can become an important part of a culture (via a Social Contract) without Religion being involved at all. However, that right-to-life is limited to members of the culture; outsiders are not automatically included (although neither are they automatically sentenced to death). There is Biblical Precedent here: The Ten Commandments were delivered to the Hebrews long before they invaded Canaan and began killing almost everyone already living there. That means, despite what the article’s author wrote about “Thou shalt not kill”, it was originally applied only among Hebrews, and not toward outsiders. Human life was not, in the early days of that Commandment, treated as being so generically and inherently valuable as the author wants you to believe!
Toward the end of the paragraph is an inconsistency with something the author wrote in the previous paragraph. Previously, it was stated that pro-choicers would deny the humanity of the fetus, but now it is stated that pro-choicers must say, in essence, that human-ness and personhood are two different things, and that only personhood is associated with right-to-life. That is of course exactly the position taken in this overall Refutations document. Perhaps the author may yet get back to offering a rationale for why human personhood should be declared as beginning at conception, instead of simply assuming it!
107.22 The paragraph begins by asking “Are there any human beings who are not persons?” This is precisely the sort of “loaded” thing that was dissected in #96.1, and the initial portion of #100 If the author had instead asked, “Are there any human organisms that are not persons?” we could immediately offer an example that not even the most staunch abortion opponent could deny, the “hydatidiform mole“.
Instead, though, the author brings up a very “tired” list of groups of human persons that have been mistreated in various times and places in History, such as Jews and Blacks. The author is not making any effort to define personhood! No, what the author does instead is guess that pro-choicers have specifically created a definition of person designed to make abortion allowable (which in terms of what was previously written, would qualify as “rationalizing for ill”). It hasn’t at this point occurred to the author that denying personhood to unborn humans could be a mere side-effect of an Objective Generic Universal definition of “person”, as mentioned in #107.3.
107.23 The paragraph is an introduction to seven reasons supposedly offered by pro-choicers, regarding the denial of unborn human personhood. (And remember, the author has not yet provided any rationale by which unborn humans should be considered to possess personhood. It is still simply being assumed to exist, in violation of Standard Debate Rules Regarding Burden Of Proof.) In inspecting the seven reasons in advance, it is apparent that there is at least one significant “overlap” among them, such that a different author might count a different number of reasons.
107.24 (First Reason) The paragraph describes some of the same “linguistic” stuff that has been mentioned elsewhere in this overall Refutations document. Unfortunately, it does not go so far as to recognize that the word “human”, all by itself, can suffice to identify a member of the species Homo Sapiens, and that therefore the phrase “human being” can always be synonymous with “human person” (see #17, for example). While a particular unborn organism can most certainly be “a human”, it remains for the author to prove that the phrase “human being” or “human person” applies to that organism.
107.25 The paragraph indicates that pro-choicers can thus conclude that abortion opponents are linguistically confused. AGREED –and even more-so than the author has described!
107.26 (Second Reason) The paragraph describes a type of Prejudice that it calls “biologism”. “Membership in the human species is no more morally relevant [with respect to personhood] than membership in the subspecies, or race.” EXACTLY. After all, when True Artificial Intelligences begin to exist, they will be utterly independent of biology!
107.27 (Third Reason) The paragraph basically reiterates something mentioned in the “First Reason” paragraph, regarding cells, only here the specific zygote-cell is being discussed. This might a good place to bring up the subject of “help”, as detailed in #102.15
107.28 (Fourth Reason) The paragraph describes the idea that the characteristics of personhood develop gradually, and so it is logically impossible to say they all exist at the moment of conception. AGREED AND MORE, since the Facts indicate (per the “Update” section of #10), that personhood characteristics don’t even begin to be acquired until significantly after birth.
107.30 (Sixth Reason) The paragraph mentions the lack of concensus regarding the definition of “person”. AGREED. Even in #100 it was indicated that the proposed list of personhood characteristics might be both incomplete (missing something important) and more-than-complete (included something unimportant).
107.31 (Seventh Reason) The paragraph describes a notion that has not been incorporated into this overall Refutations document, that an unborn human qualifies as being “part of” its mother, due to the placental attachment. BAD DATA. The placenta contains a commingling of cells of both the mother and her offspring, but on each side of that commingling, by far the majority of cells belongs to just one of the two organisms. In refuting some anti-abortion argument or other, we cannot accept any rationale based on that Bad Data.
107.32 The paragraph states that all those reasons share the notion that personhood can be defined in terms of something the author calls “Functionalism”. MOSTLY AGREED (the seventh one is not obviously involving Functionalism). After all, if you take a star-ship to another planet many light-years away, how do you plan on distinguishing any native persons there, from all the ordinary animals? Do you expect those aliens to have human DNA? No, you will use some degree of Functionalism to accomplish that goal! Logically, if you need to do that on some other planet, then you should do it on Earth, too. It Is Very Obviously Stupid Prejudice To Do Otherwise!
Nevertheless, the author claims that Functionalism is not adequate for “ordinary reason and common sense, much less for good philosophy or morality”. Well, the last part of that claim is irrelevant, since Morals Are Arbitrary (see #19). Regarding the first part, the author states that simple common sense can distinguish between the concepts of “being a person” and “functioning as a person” –but the author fails to explain how common sense can recognize a truly alien/non-human person. As indicated above, that is where Functionalism has its place –to identify personhood. After the identification has been made, there is no reason to think that further Functionalism is constantly required, on the part of any person-class entity. That is real “common sense”!
Yet the author does exactly the idiotic thing of essentially claiming that if personhood is associated with Functionalism, then a person must always be exhibiting the functionings of personhood! That notion was thoroughly debunked in #16. Here we can also talk some more about “common sense”. If we happen to encounter an organism which is “dormant” (regardless of “sleep”, “coma”, “hibernation”, “estivation”, “catatonia”, “intoxicated unconsciousness”, or any other equivalent thing), we can simply postpone testing it for personhood. We need not jump to a conclusion about it! –even though the author of the article apparently is implying we should do exactly that, ignoring common sense. Tsk, tsk!
The paragraph finishes laughably, with the author talking about how “Functionalism” confuses “the sign with the thing signified” –but it is actually the author who is doing the confusing. Above, it was made quite clear that Functionalism is only needed for Objective Generic Universal identification purposes (and a mere side-effect is that unborn humans fail to qualify as persons).
107.33 The paragraph apparently consists of philosophical blather derived from the author’s confusion regarding Functionalism, and can be ignored. We might consider the possibility that the author has constructed a “straw man” concept of Functionalism, specifically to be targeted by a significant portion of the overall article. (We might also consider ignoring rather more than just the current paragraph, but let us see….)
107.34 The paragraph is about “essences”. Here the author struggles to work toward the claim that personhood is part of the essence of all human organisms, despite Facts such as the existence of “hydatidiform moles“, and the data presented in the “Update” section of #10. Remember, if personhood was truly an intrinsic part of human existence, there could not be any such thing as a “feral child”.
107.35 The paragraph claims that Functionalism is in-practice destructive. Well, if mis-used in the manner of the author’s confusion about the subject, QUITE PROBABLY SO. However, denying Functionalism doesn’t work either. Remember, abortion opponents, in their quest to get the practice banned, are in-effect exhibiting a desire to convert unwilling persons, pregnant human women seeking abortions, into nothing more than functioning life-support systems for non-persons, mere animal organisms. Why should the functionality that abortion opponents want exhibited be superior to the functionality that can Generically distinguish persons from mere animals? Stupid Hypocrisy? Tsk, tsk!
107.36 The paragraph reveals that the author doesn’t understand The Law Of Supply And Demand, as explained in #49, and how its existence, and the way it affects the wages needed to buy goods in order to survive to keep working for the wages that can buy goods… proves that humans don’t actually have inherent value (see #5. As long as some Boss can deny an employee’s request for a wage-increase by saying, “There’s plenty more where you came from!” (because of competition for the job), it is that, The Law Of Supply And Demand, and its influence upon valuations, which ultimately forces people to concentrate on Functionalism. All the “family love” the author talks about means nothing if the family starves to death.
The preceding is basically a situation where Catholic philosophy (presumably accepted by the article’s author) is particularly nonsensical. None of its “Catechism” in any sense affects the manner in which The Law Of Supply And Demand (A) assigns valuations to human functionality, and (B) pays no attention whatsoever to worthless unproved claims about the “intrinsic value of human life”. The FACT is, the more humans in the world, the less they will be generically valued, in perfect accordance with The Law Of Supply And Demand. And yet Catholic philosophy claims that more and more and more and more mouths-to-feed should be born, regardless of whether or not anyone can afford to feed them. Tsk, tsk!
107.37 The paragraph discusses “quality of life”, which happens to have a couple of significantly different definitions, but the author only considers one of them here. One of the definitions relates to “living conditions”. Someone breathing smoggy air, drinking polluted water, eating contaminated food, and sheltering in a cardboard box can be said to have a lesser quality-of-life than someone who has fresh air and clean water and so on. Keep in mind that those low-quality conditions are a natural consequence of a population that grows faster than its production of resources (as explained in #49). Catholics really need to pay attention to #57 here!
The other definition of “quality of life”, the one the author describes, relates to the notion that there exists some sort of “scale” against which human persons can be compared, such that there are “low-quality” lives for persons, “high-quality” lives for persons, and so on. Sometimes people compare themselves against the scale and either desire or actually commit suicide, and sometimes people compare other people against the scale –it should be obvious which type of comparing is ethically superior. Thus it can be noted that those who promote “eugenics” are often in the ethically inferior group of comparers, but the author goes further, claiming that some people would mis-use the scale to claim that others should lose their person status and right-to-life. GIVEN HUMAN HISTORY, ALMOST CERTAINLY. And therefore only persons comparing themselves to the scale can be a tolerable activity. (Or, perhaps a particular “point” could be added to the very bottom of the scale, specifically applicable for persons-who-compare-others-to-the-scale….)
107.38 The paragraph consists of the author comparing, metaphorically, apples and oranges. Remember, no evidence has yet been offered by the author, to support the claim that unborn humans qualify as persons. Therefore, Logically, until such proof is forthcoming, unborn humans cannot be on the quality-of-life scale previously mentioned. Nevertheless, the author talks as if that scale is used to condemn unborn humans, and compares killings performed by the Mafia to killings performed by abortion doctors, as if all the victims qualified as persons. Tsk, tsk!
107.39 The paragraph describes three things regarding that “quality of life” scale, which the author calls “morally reprehensible” and blames Functionalism instead of The Law Of Supply And Demand. Someday Catholic philosophy will acknowledge that its idiotic notion of “intrinsically valuable human life” has been thoroughly disproved, and that the ONLY way for human life to be widely valued is for it to be rare, not for it to be more common than rabbits (we humans are currently chasing rats as the second-most-common mammal on Earth, after mice).
The paragraph talks about “might makes right”, and how unborn humans want to survive, and if they were armed as well as abortion doctors, then abortions wouldn’t be done. Well, what about that mind-altering substance infused by unborn humans into their hosts (see #98.1)? When that succeeds, their hosts become their defenders! We do know about how one should never get between a mother and the offspring she wants to protect!!! So, is the author trying to say that a mere animal has the right to drug a person into defending it? That “might makes right” is OK for the unborn animal, but not OK for a person who doesn’t want to be pregnant? Basically, either the author doesn’t know what he is talking about, or is exhibiting Stupid Hypocrisy.
107.40 The paragraph continues the author’s complaints about the long-term consequences of Functionalism, all the while in ignorance of the Fact that the real cause of the problem is The Law Of Supply And Demand and overpopulation. Tsk, tsk! It remains to be seen how horrible the future will become, before Catholic philosophy finally admits that it cannot have endless population growth and a widespread valuing of human life. Not unless it can disprove The Law Of Supply And Demand, first!
107.41 The paragraph announces an end to the preceding digression, and the author proposes to refute the seven pro-choice arguments previously presented. Immediately, the first one is acknowledged as being at least partly correct; the concepts of “person” and “human being” are not identical.
Next, the author claims that the first argument indicates that the concept of “human being” is a broader category than “person”, but no explanatory details are is offered –it is certainly not obvious that the claim is true, in re-reading the original paragraph. Certainly the author is correct in stating that “person” is the broader category, and even offers a variety of non-human persons: “the three Persons of the Trinity, angels, and any rational and moral extraterrestrials who may exist”.
However, then the author makes a mistake, arbitrarily declaring that while not all persons are human, all humans are persons (including the unborn), without offering any supporting evidence. At least not in the current paragraph….
107.42 The paragraph starts by asking about the definition of “person”. Perhaps the author is finally going to do what should have been done many paragraphs ago. We can at least be confident that the author is going to attempt to be Objective about it, else previously mentioned entities such as angels might get excluded.
The author states an intention to argue that “acts” (per Functionalism) do not count toward defining a person, so much as the relation of those acts to the actor. We can anticipate a reiteration of the “kind of being” stuff previously mentioned in #107.32
107.43 The paragraph starts by asking, “Is a person one who is consciously performing [person-type] acts?” Such phrasing is practically designed to ignore the difference between having an ability, and using that ability. And therefore the author presents the example of a sleeping entity, who obviously is not using any abilities associated with personhood, and claims the entity could be killed on the basis of such a definition.
Well, as an analogy, consider the “urethra” –every normal human has one, but it is not constantly used. It would be BAD LOGIC to claim that, “When you aren’t using your urethra, you don’t actually have one.” But the author, in talking about a sleeping entity, expects us to swallow exactly equivalent “logic” regarding the abilities associated with personhood! Which is why this notion was debunked back in #16.
Nevertheless, the author isn’t done presenting more examples of the same Bad Logic, all in a feeble attempt to dissociate Actual Possession Of Person-Class Functionality –whether used or not– from personhood. Comatose humans are mentioned, for example, yet we know from plenty of them eventually waking that practically all of them continued to possess the characteristics of persons, during their comas (for more on this, see #112). The author also mentions a variation on the theme of comas that deserves special comment.
Consider “a 17-year-old who was born in a coma 17 years ago and is just now coming out of it”. Based on what we know about human brain-development and “feral children” (see the “Update” portion of #10), it is practically certain that the 17-year-old will not have experienced the sort of interactive Nurturing that causes humans to become persons. It is likely impossible for this particular human to ever be more than “feral”, a clever animal, but not a person. It is almost humorous that the author apparently doesn’t know about feral children, and yet has reached a valid conclusion in this particular case –but will shortly reject it, because of the mistaken notion that, somehow, all humans must qualify as persons!
The above case of the 17-year-old is associated with a question (paraphrased here), “Can a person be one with a history of performing person-type acts?”, and the 17-year-old would not qualify. However, the author goes on to claim that there cannot be a first person-type act, which is nonsense. If a certain degree of brain-development is required for some organism to do a person-type act, then, logically, the organism would become capable of its first such act after its brain has developed enough. This is exactly what normally happens while young humans experience appropriate Nurturing.
As a result of failing to recognize the difference between having and using an ability, the author eventually concludes, “Surely the correct answer is that a person is one with a natural, inherent capacity for performing [person-type] acts.” FALSE, as most obviously pointed out in the “Update” section of #10. NO human has a natural inherent capacity for personhood, such that it automatically appears as a direct result of uninfluenced biological development. It is our “default nature” to be clever animals only.
Then there is #15, which specifically debunks the word “capacity” as essentially being synonymous with the word “potential” –and #16, which reveals the idiocy of equating “the potential” with “the actual”. Finally, there is the concept of “intelligent R-strategists” introduced in #27, and which was used in #28 to indicate that all their vast numbers of offspring would meet this author’s definition, and nevertheless must nearly all die.
Earlier in the article the author linked personhood with the God-associated concept of “sacred”. We might now wonder about the relationship between God and R-strategist persons, if most of their offspring must die (else there would inevitably be one overpopulation disaster after another, endlessly). Two possible conclusions are obvious: Either there are no intelligent R-strategists in all of this huge huge Universe, or the author’s definition of “person” is flat-out wrong. Due to the other factors mentioned just above, the most logical choice has already been identified. Undeveloped offspring are mere animals, not persons –and that’s why it doesn’t matter if most R-strategist offspring get eaten in the wild, or if some K-strategists have abortions.
107.44 The paragraph, with the author’s erroneous definition of person now specified, is about how the author uses that definition to “refute” the “First Reason” argument presented earlier. If only those who exhibit person-type acts qualify as persons –but hold on a moment; the author interjects another concept, “sufficient”, as in “sufficiently intelligent”. Is that a “straw man”? Perhaps not. This overall Refutations document fully recognizes that a definition of personhood, based on Objective Generic Universal characteristics, has not been precisely specified. It would be quite possible to point at some stage of human mental development, well after birth, and conclude that a human is still “insufficient” in its possession/functioning of person-class capabilities. Who decides the point where “sufficient” has been reached? Ideally, this is a question for Science to answer.
The article’s author, though, assumes that the answer can be arbitrarily specified by whoever has political power, and be based on “artifice” or “prejudice”. More, even the list of person-class characteristics might be edited by those in power, allowing them to disqualify and kill anyone they didn’t like (cue the usual tired list of historically persecuted persons). That is precisely why Science must be in charge of the Objective Generic Universal definition of “person”! Especially because Science specializes in Objectivity, when not coerced –so the more different political groups of humanity that support Science creating a Universally-workable definition of “person”, the less likely any hint of coersion will be involved. Finally, the author makes no attempt to find a rationale for why human non-persons might be granted at least some right-to-life, such as was done in #103, and thereby give a culture another way to prevent repeats of classic abuses of power. Tsk, tsk!
107.45 The paragraph begins the author’s “refutation” of the “Second Reason” argument presented earlier. Here the author states that the phrase “human being” refers to more than mere biology; it refers to a person. AGREED, although the author’s rationale for making that statement comes from Religious claims about souls, instead of from any Objective Generic Universal definition that Science might devise. (But if Science had sufficient evidence about souls to properly investigate the subject, it might associate souls with personhood, too.)
Peculiarly, the author exhibits some Prejudice in stating that a human being has “a human biological body and a human spirtual soul” –ignoring the Traditional Claim that a soul can surive physical death, and therefore cannot be physical, such that the word “human” need apply. Why shouldn’t a soul be thought of as being as form-less as God (per #107.4)? Why should a soul inhabiting a be-tentacled extraterrestrial intelligent alien body be considered inherently different from a soul inhabiting a human body –or even a soul inhabiting a robot that was specially built to accommodate a soul? Science must acknowledge that the physical Universe is chock-full of different physical environments, but Religions only need one Spiritual environment, in which souls can directly interact with each other. (That environment may have regions that might be called “hellish” or “heavenly”, but –ask any hypnotist!– purely mental experiences need not have anything more than imaginary environmental differences.) In theory, Religions could lead the way toward promoting understanding and peaceful coexistence with non-human intelligences, simply by acknowledging that it makes sense if all souls were generically similar, and discarding any Stupid Prejudice associated with the word “human”.
107.46 The paragraph begins by almost specifically stating that souls are made in God’s image (thus implying what was just written above about “generic”). One aspect of what the author wrote may be erroneous, however, which is the notion that the “I” of a person is the soul. What the “I” is, at the very least, is the essence of self-awareness –and humans are not the only organisms on Earth that are self-aware. Quite a few animals are able to pass the “mirror test” for self-awareness. Perhaps they have souls, too –or perhaps the soul is something more than just the “I” of an entity. After all, consider some terms used by psychologists, “ego”, “superego”, and “id” –the ego is the “I”, and the superego might be equated with the soul –so mostly-ordinary animals could have an ego, an “I” that was capable of self-awareness, yet still lack a soul, the superego. Arguments on this topic are likely to be unresolved until Science finds a way to directly measure souls.
There is one more thing about animal self-awareness that needs to be mentioned (for later use here). Four animals able to pass the mirror test are the octopus, certain parrots, the elephant, and the chimpanzee. In terms of brain structure, birds have a variation on something generally known as “the reptile brain”, elephants have “the mammalian brain”, chimpanzees have “the primate brain”, and the octopus is in an entirely different category altogether, being a member of the mollusc family that includes snails and clams. Nevetheless, the key point is, Starting with four very different types of brain, Nature found ways for those brains to accommodate self-awareness. Anyone who thinks it is fundamentally impossible for a robot brain to someday possess self-awareness needs to think again!
In the paragraph the author talks about how persons should be revered because of what they are, not because of how they function. That is standard Religious doctrine, of course –but it never, ever put food on the table. Only functionality by someone ever did that! To see how ludicrous it is to completely ignore functionality, just imagine a large circle of persons (doesn’t matter what type) meditating on how intrinsically valuable all of them are, each one revering the others, while all of them slowly starve to death.
However, since humans do have a “drive to survive” (see #103), they find themselves exercising considerable functionality to stay alive. The Law Of Supply And Demand automatically gets involved, because Survival Requires Resources, Resources Are Limited, and Competition Is Unavoidable. The greater the population pressure on Resources, the greater the premium that The Law Of Supply And Demand gives functionality over personhood. That is, you can have the luxury of revering others only when your life doesn’t depend on competing with them! The net result is, the extent to which human life is not widely revered today, that is the extent to which the world is overpopulated, and therefore we need fewer births, not the huge increase that abortion opponents would foist upon us as a result of their Denial Of Facts about The Law Of Supply And Demand.
In the paragraph the author also talks about machines, and how they cannot be persons. While it is certainly true that we cannot yet build a machine that has person-class functionality, it is a big stretch to predict that it can never, ever be done, even after a million years of technological advancement. Especially when there are two different reasons why it ought to be possible. First, ignoring the notion of souls having anything to do with personhood, is the Fact that Molecular Biology, which is found at the core of all life-associated processes, IS machinery-plus-chemical-reactions. The phrase “natural nanotechnology” is sometimes used to describe Molecular Biology –and there is nothing about any sort of machinery that makes it inherently uncopy-able. Therefore, if human personhood exists as a result of particular ways that the physical brain operates, those “ways of operation” can be copied into a robot, and the robot should be able to exhibit the functionality of personhood. As mentioned above, Nature already found 4 different ways for a brain to accomplish self-awareness, one of the key things associated with personhood –and there should be lots more if one considers how many different types of intelligent being there might be, all across the Universe. It is ridiculous to think that electronic hardware cannot copy/accommodate the patterns and flows of energy that are found in such a wide variety of living brains.
Second, assuming souls are crucial to personhood, much of the preceding still applies. In this case the human body is a “vehicle” that the soul finds useful, through which it can express itself. A vehicle is still a machine that can be copied. A robot that copies enough of the expression-functionality characteristics of a human might be entirely attractive enough for a soul to inhabit –remember that many humans are born with major handicaps, and this doesn’t stop them from qualifying as “suitable” for souls, vehicles through which souls can express themselves. A robot with no handicaps might be very attractive to a soul!
In the last part of the paragraph, the author spouts some blather, basically talking about the disproved notion of “vitalism” (while using different words to do it). Worthless and ignorable, it is (see the second “Update” section in #8.
107.47 The paragraph claims that the “error” of focusing on functionality directly leads to thinking about “human beings” only in terms of biology. However, this ignores the power of Definition, in which “a human” can certainly be associated with biology, while “a human being” can be thoroughly associated with personhood. Arguments like the author’s can always be demolished by focusing on the difference in meaning, and how the typical abortion opponent fails to keep those meanings distinct and separated when claiming that every human is a person, without backing up the claim with valid Objective data.
107.48 The paragraph correctly points out that lack-of-functionality justifies both abortion and infanticide. However, several other relevant factors are ignored. First, infanticide has nothing to do with the Overall Abortion Debate. Debates about infanticide can exist entirely separately from debates about abortion. This means that bringing either issue into a Debate about the other issue is nothing more than a “red herring” that can be ignored. Second, as mentioned in #20, different cultures find different things to be culturally acceptable (or not). History proves that at least one culture that accepted infanticide (ancient Rome) did not suffer because of it. Our culture claims it is a bad thing, but where is the actual Objective Evidence supporting that claim? Third, as also pointed out in #20, the Law regarding personhood, and the Science regarding personhood, are not synchronized, mostly because the Law was written before Science became knowledgable about the subject. The Law even has a special “legal personhood” status which can apply to entirely non-biological entities, such as corporations. And as it happens, even Science recognizes that there are major philosophical (see #29) and physical (see #33) differences between unborn and newborn humans, such that the Law can rationally assign legal personhood at birth; it does not have to be changed to match the Science regarding personhood (see #82). Even Religious arguments can be made, regarding souls (per #23 and #27), for an association that begins after birth, and not before birth. Fourth, even if legal personhood was removed from human infants, there still exist reasons why they can be granted at least some right-to-life protection (see #103). And finally, there is all the infanticide stuff that was tackled in #106. In the future, all mention of infanticide will be directed to this paragraph, #107.48 (because of all the links here) –enough has been written about it in this Refutations document that it is time to stop.
107.49 The paragraph holds the author’s “refutation” of the “Third Reason” argument presented earlier, and is entirely about equating “potential” with “actual”. Does this mean that (per #16), since the author has the potential to be dead, embalming and burial should be performed upon the author as soon as possible?
107.50 The paragraph begins the author’s “refutation” of the “Fourth Reason” argument presented earlier. Here the author exhibits inconsistency with what was previously written, by confusing the “I” with the developing unborn body, and not the soul. Tsk, tsk! #8 was written at least partly to point out how an “I” does not begin to exist at conception, or even at any time prior to birth, no matter how the issue is argued by abortion opponents (which is why it is by far the longest of the original 60 Refutations).
107.51 The paragraph claims that if personhood only develops gradually, then no-one ever can fully qualify. FALSE. It ignores the possibility that one could become more than “just” a person. Consider God as a possible candidate for an entity that is more than just-a-person! So, just how many stages exist between the ordinary-person level and the Godly level? The exact answer doesn’t matter here, but the concept means that we only need to think about where to draw the line in terms of “This entity is enough of a person for right-to-life.” As indicated previously, when applying some Objective Generic Universal Tests to an alien organism, in order to determine whether or not it qualifies as a person instead of a mere animal, functionality is crucial. At this time we don’t know what minimum Tests must be passed to decide that the organism is person enough, but it is certain that no unborn human can pass any of the Tests, so it doesn’t really matter, in terms of the Overall Abortion Debate, where the personhood line gets drawn after birth.
107.52 The paragraph claims that only conception can be the dividing line for determining personhood. FALSE, as explained in detail above. Remember that the author’s main error is to think that constant functionality must be associated with personhood –but no, only enough functionality is needed to identify it, to distinguish it from any possible type of mere-animal organism. Such is essential with respect to recognizing alien/non-human persons; therefore it is perfectly rational and non-Hypocritical/non-Prejudiced to Test for such functionality among humans, too.
107.53 The paragraph begins the author’s “refutation” of the “Fifth Reason” argument presented earlier. It is quite short, asking what sort of organism is a fetus actually, if it is only potentially a person. Here is where failure to recognize any difference between “a human” and “a human being” (see #107.22 and #107.24) most obviously leads to silliness. When a human egg-fertilization occurs, the result is a 100% human animal organism. After birth (should it happen to have effective instead of defective DNA), it is still a 100% human animal organism. If inadequate Nurturing is provided after birth, it will spend the rest of its life as a 100% human animal organism, “feral” but clever. If adequate Nurturing is provided after birth, it will probably, roughly approximately between ages 2 and 3, begin to exhibit the minimal functionality of personhood, and thereby qualify as more than just a human animal; it will be a “human being”.
107.54 The paragraph claims there can be no such thing as a “potential person”, mostly because the author maintains the flawed notion that functionality has nothing to do with personhood. FALSE, else it would be impossible to distinguish as persons, from mere animals, any alien non-humans that qualified. Therefore, since functionality is associated with personhood, a potential person is any organism that could eventually exhibit personhood functionality, but hasn’t yet done so. It Is Very Simple!
107.55 The paragraph begins the author’s “refutation” of the “Sixth Reason” argument presented earlier. It starts by asking whether or not the concept of personhood is unclear. OBVIOUSLY, since as yet we do not have an Objective Generic Universally-applicable definition, for distinguishing any type of person from any type of animal! We only have proposals and guesstimates. Meanwhile, in the paragraph the author claims that refuting the “Fourth Reason” also refutes the sixth. That might be true, but the data suggests that the author has failed to successfully refute the fourth reason.
107.56 The paragraph starts by noting that Functionalism must ask, “Which features count as proof of personhood?” Well, let us recall that in #107.41 the author claimed that “rational and moral” extraterrestrials could qualify as non-human persons. But those are exactly Functionalism-type characteristics, which unborn humans utterly lack! So, here the author exhibits inconsistency when asking more questions, like “How do we decide?” and “Who decides?” –since the author already made a Decision that accepted an association of Functionalism with the identification of personhood. So, while it is certainly true that we don’t yet have a “clear” definition of personhood, we do understand some generalities that even an abortion opponent like the author accepts without paying much attention to the fact of having accepted those generalities!
107.57 The paragraph holds the author’s refutation of the “Seventh Reason” argument presented earlier. However, it was also previously mentioned that that argument is based on Bad Data, and so we can consider it to have been refuted already, regardless of how the author proposes to do it. (But as it happens, the author basically reaches the same conclusion.)
107.58 The paragraph starts with the author claiming to have refuted the pro-choice position three different ways. FALSE, as detailed above. However, the author also proposes to examine in detail a statement made in #107.4, that “abortion is a clear-cut evil”. EXCELLENT, since the author previously failed to adequately support that claim with evidence.
107.59 The paragraph starts a process of categorizing “the fetus” in terms of four combinations of two basic things, whether-or-not it is a person, and whether-or-not we know what it is.
107.60 The paragraph lists out the four combinations of identity and knowledge. Here is a little table showing how the author combined them (with a little something extra added for reasons that will become obvious shortly):
|Fetus||not a person||a person||maybe a person|
|we know it||case (1)||case (2)||(extra 1)|
|don’t know it||case (4)||case (3)||(extra 2)|
In addition to that “something extra”, it might be interesting to consider whether or not the “don’t know it” situation includes “arguing about it” (see #18). We shall see….
107.61 The paragraph is a single questioning sentence, regarding “What is abortion?” in relation to the four combinations.
107.62 In case (1), the author agrees that abortion is perfectly permissible. All the evidence assembled in this overall Refutations document clearly supports case (1) –except for the “arguing about it” factor mentioned above. So, if some people “know” that an unborn human is not a person, while others “know” it is a person, then what is the overall description of human knowledge on the subject??? (Logically, case (3) or case (4)). However, before getting to that, the author states that “no one has ever proved with certainty that a fetus is not a person” –BAD LOGIC, since in a Debate, the Burden of Proof falls upon the one who makes the positive claim, and in this case the positive claim is that the fetus is a person. This article being examined is, according to its title, supposed to meet the Burden of Proof! Yet here the author is reduced to saying, in essence, that the positive claim is a default assumption that must be disproved. Tsk, tsk! Despite that cop-out, consider that (A) even the author of the article is unable to completely separate personhood from functionality, and (B) unborn humans do not and cannot exhibit any of the functionality associated with personhood (because infant humans, more-developed than unborn humans, can be Tested, and they always fail the Tests). In what way do we not have proof that the fetus is not a person?
107.63 In case (2), the author claims that abortion is “murder”, because killing an innocent person is murder. Here, while the definition may be correct, the author is at least partly wrong to apply that definition to an unborn human, because that organism is definitely not “innocent”, as described in #27. Thus abortion can be called “self-defense”, against an assailant that cannot be made to stop its assaults in any manner short of killing it. And just in case someone wants to argue that “pregnancy is tolerable”, simply because huge numbers of women do tolerate it, keep in mind that that tolerance is based on choice. HERE IS A CHALLENGE: Let those who oppose abortion be forcibly subjected to physically harmless (compared to “morning sickness” caused by the toxic biowastes of an unborn human) “Chinese water torture” for several months, and see if their definition of “tolerable” changes.
107.64 In case (3), the author claims that abortion is “manslaughter”. However, once again #27 applies –it doesn’t matter in the least whether or not we know than an assailant is a person, if the only way to make it stop is to kill it. Remember all those fictional stories about person-class “vampires”, and how humans, desiring to protect themselves, seek to destroy those vampires for their guilt of doing just one of the types of assault that an unborn human commits!
107.65 In case (4), the author claims that abortion is “criminal negligence”, which is semi-ludicrous. Since in this case the Assumed Fact is that the fetus is not a person, it doesn’t matter whether or not we know that fact if we kill it.
What the author is trying to do is conflate case (4) with the “maybe a person” column that we included in the above table. The author did that by presenting specific examples such as a bush in the woods that might hide a person. That is, the author wants you to think that if you don’t know that no person is there, then you should assume that a person might be there. And that is indeed generally a non-ludicrous thing. However, remember that we are not talking about general situations here, we are talking about the specific case of an unborn human, where the Assumed Fact is that it is not a person. The Assumed-Not-Knowing-It does not turn a non-person into a maybe-person! (And think again about what was written above regarding an assailant, such as a vampire, that only stops if destroyed. That fact is not affected by either fetal personhood or any level of knowledge about it.)
Let us now consider a scenario in which a flying saucer lands and waits for a large crowd of humans to form. Then it extrudes a ramp down which moves, not quickly, some totally new-to-humans organism, roughly human-sized, and as fearsome-appearing as a creature from the movie “Alien“. It is not wearing a space suit and it is not wearing clothing, although it has a sort of collar around its neck. Is it a person?
Merely moving down a ramp is not the sort of characteristic that we might use to distinguish a person from a mere animal organsim. We know that humans sometimes interact in the nude, and we can easily imagine that a nude First Encounter with an alien being might be a way to promote trust –“Look! No hidden super-weapons!”.
So, are we or are we not about to interact with an alien person? In terms of the small table presented above, we obviously don’t know what it is, or what it isn’t. Rationally, the most appropriate table-column is “maybe a person”, here! But on the other hand, technically, except for a modest period of time during which some organism might develop its mind from the mere-animal level to the person-class level, we should be able to consider an organism to be either a person or a non-person. Actual cases of maybe-a-person should be rare, especially for well-grown organisms.
It was previously stated that the author has attempted to confuse the issue regarding unborn humans in case (4), but here is where the “don’t know” situation is truly relevant –because we don’t know if we are dealing with case (4) or case (3)! It is that crucial thing (what “don’t know” actually means here) which the author failed to take into account. And that crucial thing is exactly why it is generally non-ludicrous to err on the side of trying to avoid killings of persons, while the author’s description of case (4), with respect to an unborn human, is semi-ludicrous. We may now drop this alien/saucer scenario, and move on.
The paragraph ends with a question similar in essence to the anti-abortion argument in #18. The answer remains the same, that there actually is no uncertainty or lack of knowledge about the personhood status of unborn humans. There are only some humans who are either ignorant of Known Facts and Logic, or who deny Known Facts and Logic, and try to impose their delusions upon others. Tsk, tsk!
107.66 The paragraph presents the author’s answer to that question, claiming that facts and arguments can seem unclear only if our consciences are unclear. (Delusion is not mentioned, of course –it is very possible for someone to be totally certain/clear about something, and also be entirely wrong about it, most often because of employing Bad Data, or Incomplete Data.) The author quotes Mother Teresa‘s delusion, “Abortion kills twice. It kills the body of the baby” –when of course the Facts are that the unborn human is different from a baby, both in its physical nature (see #33) and in how it acts (see #27).
The quote continues, “and it kills the conscience of the mother.” DEPENDS ON THE MOTHER! A woman who is susceptible to the lies and propaganda spouted by abortion opponents can certainly be detrimentally psychologically affected, as mentioned in #53. But if a woman is confident that she is Doing A Right Thing, say in terms of helping the survival of other species (see #3), or helping to prevent future crime (see the “Update” part of #50), or helping to prevent a Malthusian Catastrophe for humanity (see #51), knowing that abortion only targets a mere animal organism, the woman can obtain an abortion in totally Good Conscience.
107.67 The paragraph starts off with the phrase “If Mother Teresa is right” –but since she was actually deluded/wrong (just like all other abortion opponents), the rest of that paragraph is nonsense. For example, it is claimed that if abortion kills consciences, it also kills souls –ridiculous! Souls are Created by God and are specified as being immortal, remember? And Hell supposedly exists to deal with souls that are very much non-destroyed, even if they don’t have consciences. If you can’t keep your Theology consistent, why should anyone believe it???
107.68 The paragraph starts by noting that personal integrity is not necessarily detrimentally affected if someone gets an abortion –and then immediately associates abortion with sinning, without offering any valid supporting evidence whatsoever. Tsk, tsk! All the preceding effort to show that “abortion is a clear-cut evil” has failed, remember?
The paragraph continues with some blather about how those who obtain abortions are victims of propaganda –AN OUTRIGHT LIE, since women have sought and obtained abortions long long before the subject became a Debate to the point where propaganda began to be spouted. This overall Refutations document thoroughly reveals that abortion opponents are where all the actual propaganda, as full of lies and twisted truths and denials of Fact as needed to meet the definition of propaganda, is coming from!
107.69 The paragraph mentions a classic quotation. AGREED. The disagreement involves the type of evil that would prevail. Abortion is not that evil. A Malthusian Catastrophe, associated with the death of 80%-99% of the entire human species, IS an evil that good folks must strive to prevent, even while the approach of that evil is currently being actively assisted by abortion opponents.
107.70 The paragraph talks about times to be polite and times where the blunt truth is required. AGREED, even though the paragraph immediately continues with a passel of lies, typical Religion-based garbage, designed solely to enrich greedy preachers, who want as many future tithers as possible to be born….
108. “Any animal with enough sentience that it can feel pain should be classed as a person, and as a consequence, since unborn humans can feel pain and would qualify as persons, abortion, which would kill persons, should be forbidden.” NICE TRY, BUT NO CIGAR, at least two very different ways. First, the world is full of animals that survive by killing other animals that can feel pain. If we declared all pain-feeling animals to be persons, we end up with some huge dilemmas, starting with a dilemma regarding Natural predators. Either we kill them (killing persons!) to prevent all their future killings of other pain-feeling animals/persons, or we starve them (also killing persons!) because some predators can only survive by eating meat –or we let them continue killing pain-feeling animals/persons. Then there is the Known Fact that without predators/carnivores, the populations of Natural prey-animals/herbivores explode, destroying all the greenery they can reach. And then, typically, 99% of them slowly and painfully starve in a Malthusian Catastrophe. So another dilemma is, how is that “better” than being killed relatively quickly by predators? Should we take the place of those no-longer-existing predators, and kill animals/persons just to keep their populations small enough that the environment can support them?
Second, “murder” is often defined as “killing a person”, and according to various Religions, God has Commanded that it must not be done. This is the same God that supposedly Created all those prey-animals and predators! Therefore, should we conclude that God is an idiot? Or should we conclude that it is ridiculous to grant person status to ordinary animals, simply because they can feel pain?
Either way, killings of pain-feeling animals must continue to happen all through the global ecosystem. Furthermore, with respect to abortion, it is possible to kill without causing pain (see #44). And therefore this anti-abortion argument collapses, just like all others do, in this day and age.
109. An abortion opponent’s argument posted at this blog page has been requested for debunking. This is an unusual situation, because the argument is not so much directly opposed to abortion as instead being aimed at revealing flaws in a variant of a common agument presented by pro-choicers in their quest to keep abortion legal.
It might be noted that while the “Penultimate” section of this Refutations document includes several reasons to allow abortion, that one is not included, and the reason for it is, that particular argument does have a major fundamental flaw. The argument is based on pitting the needs and rights of one person against the rights and/or freedom of another. Pregnancy, however, is a situation where the needs of a mere animal organism are involved, not the needs (and especially the rights) of a person. By attempting to apply that argument to the Overall Abortion Debate, pro-choicers are tacitly accepting a claim made by abortion opponents, that unborn humans qualify as persons. BAD IDEA!!!
So, by focusing on the Fact that an unborn human is a mere animal organism, the argument become irrelevant –how many abortion opponents dispute the right of a person to kill any other “needful” animal, like a biting mosquito or a guinea worm? Abortion opponents simply cannot win if their foundation-precepts (like the claim that unborn humans qualify as persons) are challenged and/or disproved at every opportunity!
With respect to the blog page currently under examination, therefore, it is possible that the author will have found some other flaws in the specified pro-choice argument, perhaps as a consequence of that tacit acceptance mentioned above. A total of ten such flaws were claimed to have been found. Let us see….
109.1 Here the author focuses on the biological relationship between a pregnant woman and her offspring, as being an important factor to consider –while the pro-choice argument typically connects two random persons. The author then makes two typical errors of abortion opponents. First, the word “child” is invoked, ignoring the Fact that an unborn human is different from a child, both in its physical nature (see #33 and #99) and in how it acts (see #27 and #98.1).
More, the author attempts to imply that the relationship between mother and offspring is more special than it actually is, and that was partially explained in #7, in terms of “the selfish gene“, and partially explained, in #40 in terms of “investment”. Basically, the world is overpopulated precisely because of humans selfishly insisting that members of the next generation must carry their genes. A woman who chooses to not be that selfish is one who might seek an abortion! And, per #85, she certainly has the right to do what she wants with her investment of resources.
Second, the author makes the error of assuming that “responsibility” associated with pregnancy can only be handled in one particular way, and that was debunked in #36.
109.2 Here the author repeats the second error mentioned above.
109.3 Here the author talks about “framing a position” to make it less “moral”. Well, since morals are arbitrary (see #19), so what? Any position can be “reframed” as “less moral” when morals are arbitrary! With that point out of the way, we can look at the details of the author’s “reframing” –and at once we can see that the author is repeating the entirety first error of #109.1, confusing a pregnant woman’s unborn human offspring with “her child”. Tsk, tsk!
109.5 Here the author claims there is a difference between abortion and “unplugging” someone from an artificial life-support system. There is some accuracy in specifying a difference. However, the current ways to do abortion are not the only possible ways. See #44, for an example that very-much resembles cutting a power cord to an artificial life-support system –something we don’t normally do because unplugging is easier than cord-cutting; the plug exists precisely to make it easy to break a power connection. On the other hand, there also exist “hard-wired” power connections, with no plug involved. These mostly exist because each power-connection point (such as inside a plug) is a point of potential failure, so the fewer such places, the better. We could imagine the musician in the pro-choice argument as having paid for such a plug-less/hard-wired power connection, leaving “cutting the cord” as the only way to break the connection.
Meanwhile, think about the placenta shortly after birth, which most certainly becomes Naturally “unplugged” from the womb (and becomes the “afterbirth”). Certain drugs, like “RU-486“, are able to cause placental unplugging during pregnancy. Basically, the author does not know enough of what is being talked about!
109.6 Here the author makes the mistake of assuming that the pro-choice argument implies that any activity must be allowed at any time. FALSE. For example, a man can’t drink a lot of alcohol and then legally drive. Restrictions do apply. In the case of pregnancy, abortion is only possible during pregnancy. If abortion opponents succeed at reducing opportunities for abortion to only a small part of a pregnancy, well, it remains a Fact that about 15% of all pregnancies miscarry, and that event can happen at any time during a pregnancy (up to and including “still birth”), no matter what abortion opponents might want. So, a woman denied an abortion might do various things to increase the chance of a miscarriage….
109.7 Here the author makes a valid point, even though it has nothing to do with opposing abortion –the point supports late-term abortions!
109.8 Here the author repeats the mistake made in #109.6. The pro-choice argument was created to be applied only to the Overall Abortion Debate. Extending it to other human events is akin to the “red herring” of talking about infanticide (so see #107.48).
109.10 Here the author claims that our bodies are not autonomous. MOSTLY AGREED, in the sense that our bodies are mostly controlled by our minds (see #12), but some things are “automatic”, like the immune system and the digestion system. In terms of overall large-scale or “gross” actions, about the only autonomous thing is the reflexive jerking-back of an extremety from a pain-source (the control signals for that originate in the spinal cord, not the mind).
However, the author then uses that starting point to once again repeat the mistake of #109.6. Bodily autonomy has never been Absolute, but it has for millennia been adequate for such things as self-defense. Paraphrasing a famous phrase, “Your right to act worse than a blood-sucking vampire stops where my body begins.” See #27 and #98.1.
110. The article posted here has been requested to be debunked. It is a two-part article, containing a total of about 24 “major” paragraphs, plus a number of “ancillary” paragraphs, some of which are qotations by others, and some of which exist only for the sake of politeness (the first thing in Part Two is a simple “Welcome back”), which can be ignored here. In the numbering that follows, we shall attempt to keep the descriptions appropriate for identifying the paragraphs being discussed.
110.1.1 In the opening paragraph the author describes some confusion, to the extent that the description itself is a bit confused. (The phrase “strange how liberals would be against abortion and not for it” almost certainly, based on the rest of the paragraph, should instead be “strange how liberals would be for abortion and not against it”. Perhaps it will be corrected in some future edit of the article.)
The paragraph continues with a description of such common liberal leanings as “siding with the weak, the voiceless, the unheard”, and certainly unborn humans are all those things. However, the missing word is “person”, and that explains everything. Most liberals don’t consider unborn humans to be persons, and therefore the general focus of liberals on siding with the weak, etc., simply doesn’t apply to unborn humans.
The paragraph claims that abortion is a “humanist” issue, implying that the author agrees at least somewhat with a particular opinion of most abortion opponents, that all humans automatically qualify as persons, including the unborn. If the author’s opinion is indeed that, then this article may turn out to be a variant of #105, which failed entirely because There Is A Difference Between “Human” And “Person”. See #12 for one of the simplest explanations of that difference.
The author indicates that the initial long-ago inspiration for the article was an acquaintance who had an abortion and regretted it. While there is no doubt that some people are more likely to regret significant decisions than others, the author didn’t present any other details of that particular case, so we have no way of knowing the degree to which that other person had been bombarded with denigrations by abortion opponents. See #53 for more about that.
110.1.2 The paragraph states that purely secular anti-abortion arguments are rare, but the author claims to have a strong one. We shall see….
110.1.3 The paragraph mentions the proposition that at some point an unborn human becomes more than the sum of its parts, much like the overall topic of #8. However, the author then makes a typical error of abortion opponents, regarding confusing an unborn human with a “child” (see #33 and #99). The author also appears to be ignorant of the way a human brain develops after birth, such that acquiring personhood becomes possible (instead of the human growing to become nothing more than a clever “feral” animal), as described in the “Update” portion of #10. Perhaps if the author knew the Facts, there would have been no reason to construct this anti-abortion argument!
110.1.4 The last part of the author’s prior paragraph indicates that this paragraph will present a basic philosophical ground, and that is the notion that every human being has an inherent right to life. Well, OK, so long as “human being” equals “person”, while “a human” does not automatically equal “person” (see #17 and #100). The author, however, immediately spouts the inadequate dictionary definition, declaring that a “human being” is a member of the species Homo Sapiens. Logically, therefore, the author must now always call toads “toad beings”, and crickets “cricket beings”, and so on, just to be consistent in the use of the word “being”, right? Otherwise the author needs to explain the Stupid Prejudice that would associate the word “being” only with humans, in ordinary/casual conversations, and not with other species (except when they are person-class, such as “extraterrestrial alien being”).
The paragraph continues with a general description of living things, and then the author makes the arbitrary claim, unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, that humans automatically have right-to-life. We invite the author to tell that to the next hungry man-eating tiger encountered, and see how well the mere unproved claim works. As indicated in #3, an “inherent” property is something that is Universally recognize-able –and “right to life” is not any such thing!
Finally, the author talks about how the notion of “inherent rights” is widely accepted by lots of people, such as philosophers. So? Does that mean, since philophophers have a notoriously high suicide rate, the author should join them? The fundamental error here is to confuse “what various people say” with “actual data about a subject”. There is NO data indicating that “inherent rights” exist!
110.1.5 The paragraph begins with the FALSE claim that every human has a right to life (ignoring Facts about, say, the brain-dead on full life-support). It also states the intention of presenting the “SLED” arguments (in the next 4 quoted/”ancillary” paragraphs of the article) that were thoroughly debunked, beginning at #97.2, and which need not be repeated here. We shall skip those 4 paragraphs, therefore.
110.1.6 The author’s paragraph is lengthy, and begins by stating that the SLED argument is somewhat dated. (If the argument was valid, that should not matter in the least. Consider the Pythagorean Theorem, an extremely-dated argument that is still totally valid.) The author immediately also mistakenly claims that the SLED argument’s “underlying thought” is still valid. Well, while aspects of the SLED argument are true, the way they are applied to the Overall Abortion Debate are ultimately fatally flawed (such as by attempting to equate “potential” with “actual”), as was shown in #97.2+.
The next thing in the paragraph is a question about what sort of measurement can be applied to separate humans into killable and not-killable categories. That question has an answer, the Objective Generic Universal Tests For Personhood –the Tests that can distinguish any type of person, not just human persons, from any type of mere animal, not just human animals like the brain-dead on life-support and the unborn.
Next, the author asks about the point at which something qualifies as a member of the human race, and that has an answer, too: The moment of egg-fertilization/conception. Almost all of the rest of the paragraph is basically about human biology. However, that has nothing whatsoever to do with “personhood”, since “human” and “person” are two entirely separate concepts. Consider the extremely popular movie “Avatar”, for example. A fictional scenario is presented in which a physically handicapped human person named Jake remotely controls a non-handicapped alien body. At the end of the movie, Jake’s mind is transferred to the alien body; the handicapped human body is no longer needed or desired. Is Jake now a non-person, due to no longer having a human body? Over and over and over again, this Refutations document reveals that Stupid Prejudice is at the heart of a great many anti-abortion arguments, caused by the failure of many humans to think about the consequences of how tiny and insignificant they are, compared to this huge huge Universe. As an example of possibilities that fiction has explored, consider the Original Star Trek episode “Turnabout Intruder” –and imagine a mind transfer machine being used by a mad scientist to put the personalities of abortion opponents into alien bodies. Will they claim they are still persons, despite no longer being human? If so, then they must abandon the notiion that personhood has anything to do with “human-ness”.
The last thing in the paragraph is an introduction to some more (very short) ancillary paragraphs, mostly related to other people exhibiting ignorance of the difference between “human” and “person”. A couple external links are offered, one of which connects to an article (to be debunked in #111) written by the author who wrote the article that was thoroughly debunked in #94. We may skip the short ancillary paragraphs.
110.1.7 The paragrah starts off with an exclamation –the author hints that personhood might be a different topic than “human”, and that if an argument based on personhood was valid, then the preceding paragraphs would be seriously challenged. The author even admits that the concept of personhood can apply to nonhuman alien intelligences.
110.1.8 The paragraph claims to present “the personhood argument” –but the argument presented is not quite the same as has been presented in this overall Refutations document. For example, it still mentions the phrase “inherent rights” –as if they are associated with personhood and not with human biology– but, NO, there is still no such thing as “inherent rights” (see #3). For a description of how rights actually in human society become associated with personhood, see #103.
The last thing in the paragraph is an introduction to someone else’s proposed list of personhood characteristics, not hugely unlike the list presented in #100 (but slightly shorter). We need not detail the list here, therefore.
110.1.9 The paragraph begins by mentioning something that was specifically pointed out in #100, that the proposed list might be more-than-complete, but if some entity had all the characteristics, it would be very logical to assume that the entity was a person. And the author recognizes that there is no way a zygote can qualify as a person.
However, the author now invokes the SLED argument in an attempt to invalidate the personhood argument –but the first thing mentioned, in that attempt, reveals a failure to distinguish between having an ability, and using an ability, as pointed out in #16. Using the abilities associated with personhood are only needed to initially identify a person (see #107.32); a person need not be constantly using them to continue proving personhood. Only in the case of serious brain injuries do we need begin to wonder whether or not an entity’s personhood has been damaged or destroyed –rare enough events that personhood can usually be assumed to continue to exist, after initially being identified.
The author also reveals ignorance of the Fact that humans do not automatically develop personhood; it is not an innate part of our biology (see the “Update” portion of #10). The “level of development” aspect of the SLED argument absolutely depends on the assumption that human personhood develops inevitably –and it most certainly does not.
110.1.10 In this paragraph the author basically tries to use genetic uniqueness in an attempt to deny the Truth of The Law Of Supply And Demand, and to provide a rationale for “intrinsic value”. The problem here is that genetic uniqueness is not normally a factor in most human interactions –we specifically have Laws requiring equal treatment of all persons, regardless of degree-of-uniqueness! Also, see #4 and #5and #6.
The last part of the paragraph, while referring to the natural death rate of unborn humans, states, “Just because people die everyday of old age doesn’t mean we can go around and add a few more to the body count.” –which assumes that unborn humans are persons, even though the author has previously accepted that they cannot pass the personhood Tests. Tsk, tsk. In other words, we can add to a count of animal bodies, without affecting the death rate of persons one bit.
110.1.11 The paragraph mentions technological progress, cloning, and ordinary cells as potential persons (see #97.1.1). Here the author denies that ordinary body-cells qualify as potential persons –erroneously; see #102.15. Once the word “potential” is invoked, the magnitude of potential becomes irrelevant. So, if a zygote, a single human cell with complete DNA, qualifies as a potential person, so does a human white blood cell, and a typical human muscle cell, and so on. The only difference between such cells is the magnitude of help needed, for their potential to become fulfilled. And, per the SLED argument, “level of development” toward fulfillment of potential, is totally irrelevant. The author cannot apply SLED to one sort of “potential”, and then fail to apply it to another sort! That would be Hypocrisy!
Nevertheless, the author does attempt to be a hypocrite, by proposing a “distinction between dormant potential persons and active ones” –and then utterly failing to recognize the “help” factor: the phrase “given the proper care and environment” is exactly a description of providing help so that a potential can be fulfilled. Tsk, tsk! See #28 for more about the silliness of the notion that “a potential must be fulfilled”. If you can refuse to offer help to a white blood cell, to fulfill its potential to become a person, you can equally refuse to offer help to a zygote –or even help to a full-term fetus (normally it needs the help of muscular contractions associated with birthing). Some humans are “feral” exactly because of parental refusal to offer appropriate Nurturing help (thereby, if nothing else, continuing to prove that human biology doesn’t automatically lead to the ability to pass the personhood Tests).
110.1.12 The paragraph talks about True Artificial Intelligences (in the form of “androids”, like the fictional Mr. Data of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”). As a person, an android should have all the rights of ordinary biological persons, but what about when it is under construction –or, better, just before it is turned “on” for the first time? Here the author makes the mistake that was exposed in #104, regarding the difference between “construction” and “development”, and possibly makes the mistake of “vitalism” (see the 2nd “Update” in #8). Not to mention, there are a significant number of places in this overall Refuatations document, starting with the last half of #1, which describes a machine that can develop itself to the point of acquiring personhood. Nothing in the author’s argument would deny the “right” of a horde of such machines to dismantle our technological civilization (per #28) in the quest for parts needed to reach the goal of acquiring personhood. Logically, if we can find a rationale to stop those machines, then that same rationale can be applied to allowing abortion, to stop the growth of unborn humans.
110.1.13 The paragraph is quite short, in which the author claims to have offered sufficient rationale to grant right-to-life to unborn humans. FALSE, as detailed above! At this point it can be appropriate to discuss something that is in #27 and #28, but which wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. That “something” is the notion that there might be, somewhere in this vast vast Universe, an intelligent species that employs the “R-strategy” of reproduction, and it is a Fact that almost all of their offspring must die (see #101.10 for some numbers that explain why it is literally physically impossible to support all their offspring).
Many arguments offered by abortion opponents, regarding unborn humans, apply equally well to every single one of the trillion+ offspring that a world full of R-strategists can produce every year. Nevertheless, most of those offspring must die. For the R-strategist adults to value persons, and to use any abortion-opponent argument to conclude that all their just-spawned offspring deserve to be treated like persons, that would present their society/culture with a huge ethical dilemma –WHICH very-few of their offspring can be allowed to survive? It is more rational for those aliens to conclude that, sometime after “survival of the fittest” has weeded-out most of their purely-animal offspring, personhood begins after those animals have grown and developed sufficiently, and when certain functionality is demonstrated. And we humans can wait for demonstrable functionality, too! The net result is that both R-strategists and K-strategists end up with a consistent definition of “person”.
110.1.14 In the last paragraph of Part One, the author describes an expectation that a number of other factors cannot be excluded from the Overall Abortion Debate, such as rape. Of course the author is not aware of some of the factors that have been introduced in this debunking of the article….
110.2.1 The first significant paragraph of Part Two starts by indicating that proponents of Characteristics Tests for Personhood tend to be bombarded with blather about infanticide (so see #107.48), and the author thinks such spoutings are a “cheap shot” –which they are, having nothing to do with abortion– and doesn’t want to discuss the subject. GOOD SHOW!
110.2.2 The paragraph begins with the author reiterating the claim of having created a good anti-aborion argument in Part One, and now claiming it is important to address the “bodily autonomy” issue. It is interesting how the author starts with the notion that rights associated with bodily autonomy are “inherent” –and then goes on to prove that, no, they are not inherent. AGREED –more, we know that “inherent right to life” doesn’t exist, either (see #3 and #4 and #5). It is obvious that by disproving the “inherence” of a right to bodily autonomy, the author clears the way to claim that the right-to-life of an unborn human can prevail over a desire to abort –but since in actuality neither right is inherent, the argument will fail.
110.2.3 The paragraph begins with a description of one way in which someone could mis-use a right to bodily autonomy, in terms of negatively affecting others. The author then extends the basic idea of respect for others, to state that it can be a rationale for requiring an unwilling woman to endure a pregnancy. Here, besides the original error of declaring that unborn humans have a right to life, there is the additional error of thinking that the potential should be treated like the actual –is the potentially-dead author ready to be buried right now (see #16)?
The paragraph reiterates the importance of the concept of right-to-life –and it most certainly is an important concept to abortion opponents(!), even though it has no existence outside the creativity of persons. And it is certainly an ethical problem to infringe on right-to-life, wherever it has been legislated into existence. But it should be obvious that so long as unborn humans do not have right-to-life legislatively granted to them, and they behave in an unethical manner (see #27), then there is no ethical dilemma regarding killing them. Ethics (see #31) can actually be more about interactively “getting-along” than about what types of entities are interacting.
110.2.4 The paragraph describes the well-considered scenario in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, and reaches the common conclusion that an abortion is a legitimate solution. However, it only reaches that conclusion by acknowledging that “potential” and “actual” are indeed two different things that need not be treated the same way. Therefore we can accuse the author of Hypocrisy, or perhaps Denial of Fact, because this Fact remains a Fact all through the article, not just in this paragraph!
110.2.5 The paragraph describes the rape scenario, but focuses on the possibility that the victim might kill the rapist. Depending on the circumstances, it might be socially acceptable –many rapes involve a serious threat to the life of the would-be victim (a significant number of rape victims are killed anyway), and thus “self-defence” can include turning the tables upon the would-be rapist. However, the author is covering more territory than just the actual crime, and considers the “call” by some to give rapists the death penalty, and refutes it in two ancillary paragraphs (which we shall ignore because they are not about the Overall Abortion Debate).
110.2.6 The paragraph starts by pointing out that a rapist and an unborn human are two different entities, and that the offspring of a rapist cannot be held responsible for the crimes of its ancestors. AGREED –it can be held responsible for its own unethical behavior (see #27)! But the author immediately makes the error of implying the unborn human is “innocent” of any wrong acts at all, while in fact it is only innocent of the rape that spawned it. Tsk, tsk! As a consequence of that error, the author claims that a woman has a moral obligation to overlook the actual assaults being perpetrated upon her body by that unborn human animal organism, and carry it to term. NEVER! Forgiveness is always optional, never obligitory.
110.2.7 The paragraph is quite short and basically says that if contraception fails, or a pregnant woman’s resources are inadequate, “deal with it”. AGREED. Abortion is exactly an optional way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. See #36 and #37 and #38 and #39 and #85.
110.2.8 The author starts the paragraph with an opinion about when abortions can be morally justified (so see #19), and acknowledges that Laws don’t always coincide with “morals”. A “solution” is proposed, regarding attacking the causes that lead women to seek abortions in the first place, and manages to fail to mention the role that a father might take (see #40). Also, the author is apparently ignorant of the limitations of an “ecological niche”, so see #49 for more about that. In the long run, what the author proposes is impossible –mostly because Endless Population Growth Is Mathematically Incompatible With Finite Resources (see #51 and #88).
The paragraph is followed by some ancillary stuff, mostly a quotation of part of a conversation with someone else at a different web site, who sought to clarify the author’s position. The author’s response is included, a paragraph of significant length, disagreeing with the other person’s conclusion, and describes a plan for increasing the options available to pregnant women while simultaneously seeking to ban abortions. As indicated above, though, no such plan can work in the long term, so we need not examine it in more detail.
110.2.9 The last two paragraphs of the article are quite short. The first of them includes the common mis-use of the word “child” (so see #33 and #99), and the author expresses outrage over any “choice” that would include killing an unborn human animal organism. Well, the author has the right to be outraged. That does not translate as a right to force others to act in a manner that would diminish the author’s outrage –others can play that game, too! Suppose, for example, the author’s hair is 2 inches long, and someone expresses outrage at that fact, and continues to express outrage until the hair is cut to be 1 inch long? In what way is the author’s outrage significantly different, when it is founded on Ignorance and Hypocrisy as detailed above?
110.2.10 The final paragraph, a single sentence, reiterates the need to give pregnant women more choices. AGREED, but not at the expense of an existing choice that is far more thoroughly supported by Science and Law and Ethics and Fact and Logic than the author ever imagined.
111. In #110.1.6 it was stated that this article would be debunked, and that the author also wrote the article that was debunked in #94. There are a number of anti-abortion articles at the “Public Discourse” site, so, as was done in #100, this article will be called “the current PD document”. There are 27 paragraphs divided into six sections; if some portions of this article are not especially relevant, or too similar to things debunked in #94 or, say, #105, they will be skipped. In this article all but the first section have section titles, although perhaps the title of the article, “Science and the Politics of Personhood” will suffice for the first section.
111.1 The three introductory paragraphs begin with a link to an opinion piece posted through the “New York Times” web site, and then the paragraphs describe certain things in that opinion piece. As indicated below, the current PD document exists to disagree with the opinion piece.
111.2.1 Under the heading of “‘Humanizing’ Humans”, the first paragraph mentions the author’s profession, and indicates that in disagreeing with the opinion piece, the first point that will be addressed relates to a contention that an unborn human experiences pain differently from a mature human. The other paragraphs basically indicate that the difference is irrelevant, since anti-cruelty laws exist and apply to both humans and to ordinary animals. NEITHER claim is relevant, however, since it is quite possible to kill a fetus without inflicting pain –see #44. Basically, a slightly different order of events, in the overall abortion procedure, can entirely eliminate this particular section of the Overall Abortion Debate.
111.3.1 Under the heading of “Fetal ‘Personhood'”, the first paragraph stresses the importance of “viability”, as enabled by Science/Technology, and accepted by the Law. However, this is a short-sighted situation. Over the long term, the consequences of basing anti-abortion Law on technologically-assisted viability will initially be too expensive to implement (see #42), and later be too ridiculous to implement (see #97.2.5).
111.3.2 In this paragraph the author apparently confuses the legal rights granted to persons with the legal rights that some courts have granted to unborn humans. They are not the same thing! Remember the Endangered Species Act? It grants rights to certain ordinary animals –but there is no hint in that Law that those ordinary animals are being recognized as “persons” under the Law. Since unborn humans are also mere animal organisms, no more should be taken from any Law that protects them, than is actually there in the Law.
111.3.3 The paragraph describes how the killing of unborn humans outside of abortion is classed as “homicide” –which is perfectly accurate, since “homicide” is always about the killing of a human. However, that is not the same thing as “murder”, the killing of a person! The most-accurate way of looking at it is in terms of someone killing your pet. It is your pet; nobody but you can have it euthanized. When a pregnant woman wants to be pregnant, and someone kills her unborn offspring, then the Law can most certainly seriously penalize the killer (and tends to be more serious regarding the human death than the pet’s death, because humans are generally valued more than pets).
The paragraph describes some other Laws that are less clear-cut. For example, a pregnant woman on Death Row may receive a “stay” of execution until the “innocent child” is born –clearly showing that lawmakers can be as ignorant as abortion opponents, regarding the nature of unborn humans! (See #27 and #33 and #99.) We should also keep in mind that some of those Laws may exist entirely as a result of efforts by abortion opponents, and therefore deserve to be struck down on the basis that their existence promotes Ignorance, Prejudice, Hypocrisy, Denial of Fact, and even Outright Lies (since those things, as this overall Refutations document shows, are the fundamental source of almost all anti-abortion arguments). For one way to reveal possible Hyprocrisy, remember that if abortion opponents can use their “Logic” to get the Law to insist that “potential” must be treated like “actual”, then abortion opponents should be perfectly willing to apply that “Logic” to themselves, and thus prepare to be buried in mass graves, per #16….
111.4.1 Under the heading of “The Development of the Human Nervous System” are five paragraphs, none of which mentions the fact that the brain doesn’t begin connecting to the rest of the body until the second trimester. This means that most abortions, which are performed in the first trimester, cannot possibly be associated with pain signals that the brain receives.
111.5.1 Under the heading of “Consciousness and Personhood”, the first paragraph describes an argument that associates consciousness with human-ness –obviously FALSE, since human-ness is directly related to DNA and biology, not mental development. However, keep in mind the distinction between “a human” and “a human being”, as pointed out in #17 and #100. Abortion opponents aren’t the only people who seem confused about the difference! And that explains why some pro-choice arguments seem nonsensical –they are trying to deny fetal personhood, but because they haven’t specified exactly what definitions they are using, they talk like they are denying fetal human-ness! And that is not the way to win the Overall Abortion Debate.
111.5.2 In this paragraph the author of the current PD document rejects the argument described in the previous paragraph, mostly for the same reason that just described above (human-ness depends on biology).
111.5.3 The paragraph covers the topic of death, and how personhood normally ends with the death of a person’s body. Here the author fails to mention the brain-death situation, in which the body –except for the brain– can be very much alive, while the person is most definitely dead. Not to mention that without realizing it, the author is assuming that technology will never, ever be developed that can allow minds to be moved into new bodies, allowing persons to avoid bodily death. It is usually risky to bet against future technical capabilities…especially when the “simplest” form of such a transfer is neither outside the realm of reason, nor very far beyond our current abilities: a brain transplant into a cloned and deliberately anencephalic body.
111.5.4 The paragraph correctly points out that consciousnes cannot be an adequate identifier of personhood, without even mentioning the fact that a great many ordinary animals exhibit consciousness (it is self-consciousness that is much rarer among animals). Logically, if personhood could be assigned to humans when consciousness was achieved, it could also be assigned to, say, goldfish and guppies and polywogs and ….
111.5.5 The paragraph describes brain growth/development as a continuous process, which is correct, within limits. Major growth, involving sheer numbers of neurons, continues roughly until puberty is reached; lesser growth happens later. “Development”, which we can describe as the formation of interconnects between neurons, starts out slow, proceeds at a tremendous rate after birth and for a few years after birth, and then slows, but continues for at least a couple decades after birth. Once these things start in the womb, they are certainly “continuous” through the rest of a pregnancy.
The paragraph also mentions a behind-the-scenes “builder” or “agent capable of constructing” the body (including the brain, of course), without identifying it as the “homeobox” (or “hox” for short) genes. Every complex multicellular organism has a set of hox genes, for directing the overall physical development of the organism and its different internal structures (digestive tract, circulatory system, musculature, etc). Humans are no different from a vast number of other animals in this regard, yet the author makes the error of stating that the mere presence [of that genetic agent] “is the only sustainable definition of a human being”. RIDICULOUS, MULTIPLE WAYS! The silliest of them would have us calling all those other animals “human beings”, too, just because they have hox genes.
We might give the author of the current PD document the benefit of the doubt, though, and recognize that the hox genes of a human are unique, just as are the hox genes of an eagle, or the hox genes of a mouse. Each set of genes, within any species, contains the instructions for building a particular biological body, a member of that species. Human hox genes usually only construct a human body (except when their DNA is defective, and they and construct a “hydatidiform mole“, instead). Nevertheless, even granting the author the benefit of the doubt, two other errors were made. First is the typical abortion-opponent error of confusing “a human” with “a human being”. Tsk, tsk! And second is the error of assuming that the achievement of personhood is an inevitable development of gene-controlled growth, when in actuality it is not (see the “Update” portion of #10).
111.5.6 In this paragraph the author reiterates the error of confusing “a human organism” with “a human being”, even using italics to do so. Tsk, tsk!
111.5.7 The paragraph begins with the same error. If we ignore the mis-use of the word “being”, though, then it correctly points out the absurdity of claiming that an organism becomes human only after some anatomical landmark begins to exist, and the paragraph continues to focus on the importance of the “constructing agent” (the hox genes). AGREED.
111.5.8 The paragraph introduces an analogy to reinforce the absurdity previously identified. AGREED. We merely note that none of the author’s purely-biological argument has anything to do with distinguishing a person-class mind from the mind of a mere animal organism –and we also keep in mind the likelihood that the Future will include True Artificial Intelligences, that have no trace of biology in their construction, but however-long it takes before they begin to exist, they will certainly have person-class minds.
111.6.1 Under the heading of “Science and Public Policy”, the first paragraph indicates that while Science cannot define the concept of “rights”, it can play a role in identifying what organisms qualify for rights. AGREED –except that the paragraph was actually more specific than just described, since the author Prejudicially focused only on human rights and not on Person rights. See #91.
Let us now expand upon something first mentioned in #103, regarding anthropologists and primitive tribes and the definition of “person”. A member of the tribe was a person, and anyone else was a non-person. That sort of Parochial definition is known to lead to genocides, and so, as a result, today most of humanity is included in the definition of person. But this definition is still Parochial relative to the rest of the Universe!
Logically, it would be irrational to keep a Parochial definition of “person” that can yet lead to more genocides in the future (interstellar wars), and so we must seek a Universally-applicable definition of “person”. Such a definition must be able to successfully distinguish any type of person from any type of ordinary animal organism –and the Fact is, it is impossible for unborn humans to fit that definition; they are not “human beings” because they are only human animal organisms, and nothing more than that, much like the brain-dead on full life-support. That is what Science tells us about humans!
111.6.2 The paragraph talks about children’s health after birth, and one thing Science learned, which the Law used to improve children’s health –but the paragraph has little to do with abortion.
111.6.3 The final paragraph again Prejudicially focuses on human-ness instead of personhood, as a “rationale” (stupidly Parochial as ever) for granting rights. Tsk, tsk!
(The first part of this next segment was originally posted as #77, but another segment also had that number. Here it gets a unique number, plus a significant Update.)
112. “It is observed that unborn humans in the third trimester begin to experience a wake/sleep cycle. This means that they are conscious entities who should not be aborted.” MISDIRECTION. Cats and dogs also experience a wake/sleep cycle, and yet many are routinely killed with little outcry –and the primary reason they are killed is because they cannot be supported adequately. Besides, they are only animals, after all. Likewise, the degree of consciousness, of unborn humans, is purely animal-level, not person-class. So, look again at #38 and #44.
Update: The previous segment, #111, and #94, considered two articles that were written by a neurobiologist. At this link a different neurobiologist presented different pictures of consciousness/awareness, unborn humans, and coma victims, which were somewhat expanded here. Permission was received to include them in this Refutations document, although they have been edited for continuity and clarity, and some related information was added. Portions included here in quotation marks are (or very nearly are) exact quotes. See the links for all of the original posts.
“Old and patently ridiculous claims. I have a response I’ve used on these arguments before, it will save you the time and effort to type up a new one. They always use the same worn out thoroughly refuted ‘arguments’. I have gotten tired of stating the same scientific facts over and over. Now I just keep the responses on file; it is not like we ever get any new arguments.”
Sentience does not leave while someone is in a coma. A coma is an alternate form of consciousness just like sleep, and most certainly not the same as ‘clinically brain dead’. A person who is in a coma still has all the neural circuitry that is required for consciousness, as opposed to fetus under 26-30 months of gestation, which does not-at-all have the brain structures that houses sentience.
“A person who is in a coma (and not clinically brain dead) still shows brain activity in centers of the brain that a fetus under 26-30 months of gestation does not even have! A person that is in a coma still has a functional subconscious that does note and record events that happen while in a coma (that is why events or conversations that happened in front of the coma patient can be recalled by said coma patient when they wake up)” — as opposed to a fetus that has none of these capacities. This can clearly be seen on MRIs where the self-awareness area of the brain can and does light up in coma patients.
“A person who is asleep or in a coma can and will feel pain or pleasure and respond accordingly, a fetus under 26-30 weeks does not! Consciousness is private, subjective and experienced from a particular point of view: yours. This is what accounts for your point of view, for the unique ‘interiority’ that gives the feeling that you exist inside your head somewhere. For instance, ‘Is your version of the color red unique to you or the same for everyone?'”
A baby has the ability to feel this, but cannot yet verbalize it. MRIs clearly show a lighting-up of the still-growing area of the brain that is involved in self-awareness, much like in full-grown adults and older (verbal) kids.
Because its brain is still growing, a young baby does not yet have self-awareness (and so cannot pass the “mirror test“). It only has mere-animal-level awareness. We note that that level can be pretty significant; a praying mantis, the insect, has non-faceted focusing eyes, stereoscopic vision, and enough consciousness/awareness to notice a potential meal, and it has enough volition to hunt and catch that meal –yet no abortion opponent would claim that suffices to make a praying mantis a person! So, why should a less capable unborn human qualify as a person?
In very young humans the part of the brain that eventually houses self-awareness is functional and does register the baby’s experiences that pertain to self. The baby is registering that experience as a self experience even if the baby can not yet recognize who self is. Meanwhile, a fetus under 26-30 weeks does not even have these brain structures, and the unborn close to that time frame do not show any activity in these structures until they are sufficiently formed. An older fetus, able to be aware of things it experiences, is no more capable than a new-born baby in this regard. Months of brain-development after birth is required for true self-awareness to begin to exist.
More regarding the color red:
“For instance even if a baby is not self aware yet it already has his/her interpretation of that color red. That interpretation is unique and specific to that baby. The baby will not have a different view of the color red by becoming self aware.”
If the baby has an additional experience tying its awareness to the color red (think of how “Pavlovian conditioning” works), then at that point there is an additional emotional component that the baby now connects to that color.
“In short, certain experiences are registered in the area of the brain that houses sentience and self awareness even when the brain in question has not made those connections yet. Similarly a coma patient shows activity in the area of the brain that houses self-awareness even while in that coma. This does not mean that the patient is always self-aware, merely that the brain cycles in and out. It is actually very similar to how alpha beta and gamma waves work and how they connect to the different sleep cycles.”
113. “In many cases existing Laws place the needs of a child over the desires of its parents. Allowing abortion is inconsistent with all those Laws, and the Law should be consistent.” PARTLY AGREED, that the Law should be consistent. But regarding exactly how to make the Law consistent –and why choose a particular consistency– is still something that can be Debated. There are plenty of places where one aspect of the Law was written or interpreted differently from some other aspect of the Law; this anti-abortion argument merely focuses on one of those places. The classic phrase regarding the “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing” very frequently applies to the Laws!
Before getting to that Debate, though, what of consistency in other relevant things? Like mis-using the word “child” to label an unborn human, when unborn human organisms include placentas, while ordinary children don’t (see #29, #33 and #99). Once the Legal System realizes that a whole unborn human organism is different from a post-natal child, a Law that is written to protect children need no longer be applied to the unborn!
Then there is Hypocrisy: in any other Legal situation, the creator of something, not paid by someone else to create it, has the right to destroy it (see the “Update” in #85). Why should that be different for unwanted unborn human animal organisms, of which certainly no-one specifically paid for those unwanted organisms to be conceived?
That leads us to consistency about the word “person”, and more Hypocrisy. Abortion opponents are quite willing to embrace Science to prove that unborn humans qualify as humans, but they seem unwilling to embrace Science to define “person”, such that the word would be applicable for any type of person, anywhere in the wide wide Universe, and always successfully distinguish persons from mere animal organisms (see #100). We might assume that that unwillingness derives from the conclusion that unborn humans would only qualify as mere animal organisms, and abortion opponents desperately want to avoid admitting it.
Circling back to the Law, which very specifically is about persons, and rights and protections of persons, when we have a Universally consistent definition of that word, we again would have consistency regarding the Law and unborn humans –they need NO rights or protections, when unwanted. (When wanted, “property rights Laws” can apply, among other things; see #103.)
114. During some commenting back and forth at one of many sites that post articles against abortion, a link to this page was presented as offering good explanations for certain things already debunked in this overall Refutations document. Let us examine it paragraph by paragraph (there are 71, divided among 13 sections), and see whether or not the author is working with information that is any more valid (or complete) than the nonsense that has previously been exposed/debunked.
The first six paragraphs don’t have their own section heading; they constitute something of an introduction for the article’s title (“Power and Act”) and subtitle (“Notes Towards Engaging in a Discussion of One of the Underlying Questions in the Abortion Debate”)
114.1 In the first paragraph the author describes a personal impression regarding the two sides of the Overall Abortion Debate. They have different “worldviews”. AGREED, because this is simply a logical consequence of different things that different people believe. For example, someone who believes that “intrinsic value” exists will have a worldview different from someone who doesn’t believe that. And of course another logical consequence is that those different people can be expected to apply different valuations to unborn humans. This does not change the need for the believer to provide evidence supporting the foundational belief, when it is a “positive claim” and a critical part of a Debate. The Rules regarding Debates and the “Burden of Proof” care nothing about unsupported beliefs.
114.2 The paragraph presents the idea that the two sides of the Overall Abortion Debate may be employing different “structures” of thought, with respect to definitions of words. PARTLY AGREED, as it would be impossible to claim that one side was engaging in “propaganda” if both sides were using words exactly the same way. However, Logic is a process that is independent of those who use it –that is, Logic is Logic regardless of who (or what, like a computer) uses it. If different data items(including different meanings of words, obviously, but this can also include different “weights” or valuations of the data items) are processed logically, then different conclusions are almost certainly going to be the result. There is no need to consider that different people are using different logical processes to reach their conclusions.
114.3 The paragraph mentions a lack of discussions about different “mechanisms of thought”, but without evidence distinguishing such from ordinary logical processings of differing data items, there may not be any need for those discussions.
114.4 The paragraph hints that various points made in the article will be “terribly abstract”. IRRELEVANT, because even if they were highly abstract, it remains possible for them to be nonsensical in terms of Logic. Since there is only one way to discover the actuality of the situation, let us continue.
114.5 The paragraph appears to encourage detailed responses to the article. HERE!
114.6 The paragraph invites readers to inform the author of relevant information. Well, if the author ever reads this segment #114 of this overall Refutations document, perhaps something like that will happen.
114.7 The first paragraph under the section heading of “Two perspectives” mentions that a sub-debate regarding “prenatal personhood” is at the foundation of the Overall Abortion Debate. AGREED. Significant portions of this Refutations document focus on the failure of abortion opponents to offer valid evidence supporting their “positive claim” that unborn humans qualify as persons. Will the author of the present anti-abortion article do any better? To be determined!
114.8 The paragraph is a single sentence observing that two perspectives apply to the sub-debate. DISAGREED, because both sides have actually presented multiple and different arguments for and against the personhood of the unborn. Some of them were linked in the “quick reference” section near the start of this document.
114.10 The paragraph lumps all other “when does personhood begin?” arguments into a single group. Well, at least the author admits there are actually more than two arguments (the next paragraphs explain the “lumping”). We can note that to specifically focus on “when personhood begins” can interfere with thinking about a more fundamental Question: “What is personhood?” –more on that shortly.
114.11 The paragraph indicates that not all pro-choicers agree as to which is the best “when does personhood begin?” argument. Well, that is as good a reason as any for Science to be requested to answer the Question in terms of Objective, Generic, and Universal applicability!
114.12 The paragraph claims the lumped-together arguments are similar in a specific way, involving “things that can be observed from the outside”. BAD LOGIC. That’s because the Personhood Question isn’t only about identifying when it begins; it also is about distinguishing persons from mere animal organisms. Which always involves “things that can be observed from the outside”! It doesn’t matter in the least what “kind of organism” you are talking about, if there is no external way to distinguish it from the average/ordinary/typical/mere animal!
114.13 The paragraph is a single sentence describing the lumped-together arguments as employing language about actions or behavior. SO? How else do even abortion opponents distinguish persons from mere animals?
Also, while this thing about to be mentioned right here is outside the scope of the author’s article, keep in mind that some anti-abortion arguments are based on the Religious notion that souls exist. For them, souls are the essence of personhood –but even Religions disagree as to when souls and human bodies become intertwined. Religions opposing abortion say “at conception”, and Religions allowing abortion-choice say “at birth”. The point is, this particular sub-argument, in the Overall Abortion Debate, is so totally different from others, that the author’s lumping-together of “all” pro-choice arguments into one group, cannot include this one!
114.14 The paragraph describes how some of those lumped-together arguments are all about matters of “degree” rather than “kind”. NOT UNREASONABLE, when almost all the mental powers of adult humans have been observed in ordinary animals to lesser degree. Logically, if “degree” of mental abilities is adequate for Objectively and Generically and Universally distinguishing all types of persons from all types of ordinary animals, it also is adequate for concluding that unborn humans are in fact mere animals!
114.15 The paragraph talks about a “dichotomy”, and is referring to the “two perspectives” section-heading. As explained above, however, the dichotomy appears to be artificial, and can exist only by focusing on “when does personhood begin?”, and ignoring the more fundamental question, “what distinguishes persons from ordinary animals?”.
114.16 The paragraph presents more data for why the author thinks pro-choicers use arguments based on “degree”. MOSTLY AGREED. However, note that the main thrust of this overall document has not so much been about presenting reasons why unborn humans don’t qualify as persons, as presenting reasons why the arguments of abortion opponents, claiming unborn humans do qualify as persons, are fatally flawed. Logically, if it is impossible to produce a valid argument supporting the “positive claim” that the unborn are persons, that suffices to let us conclude the unborn are not persons, even without any specific/single “here’s why they can’t qualify” argument being presented! (So this is another outside-the-box thing that the author cannot lump together with other pro-choice arguments.)
114.17 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “Many formulations”, the author presents a number of pairs of descriptions relating to the artificial dichotomy previously specified, for two major ways of defining when personhood begins, of which “power and act” yield the overall title of the article. So long as we keep in mind that the author’s “dichotomy” is actually artificial with respect to an Objective, Generic and Universal definition of “person”, no major disagreement is offered, with respect to multiple ways of describing the dichotomy.
114.18 The paragraph presents the author’s conclusion that none of the multiple ways to describe the dichotomy is inherently superior to the others. AGREED.
114.19 The first paragraph under the section heading of “Two formulations I’d reject” is a single sentence, partly reiterating the section heading.
114.20 The second paragraph is also a single sentence, regarding a distinction the author wants to make between “potential” and “possible” (despite the fact that, in dictionaries, they are synonyms).
114.21 The paragraph starts the explanation of the difference that the author perceives. The initial examples involve loose bricks (only a possible house) and an acorn (a potential tree).
114.22 The paragraph continues the explanation, that the bricks can only become a house if externally manipulated, while the acorn needs no such manipulations to become a tree. We can now note that if we accept the authors distinction, then with respect to human personhood, the author has failed to take into account certain extremely relevant data, such as was presented in the “Update” section of #10. External manipulations in the form of appropriate Nurturing are essential to make a clever human animal become more than that. Therefore we can easily conclude that unborn humans are more equivalent to the bricks than to the acorn, with respect to becoming a person! So, depending on how much importance the author assigns to a distinction between “possible” and “potential”, we might be able to stop right here, having destroyed this anti-abortion argument!
114.23 The paragraph reiterates the author’s observation that living things self-assemble, while bricks don’t. That doesn’t change the facts about “feral children” one whit, though. Human biological potential simply does not inherently/inevitably include personhood! External manipulations, Nurturing, is required.
114.24 The paragraph is a single sentence implying that the author may deliberately equate “potential” –or at least some aspect of it, with respect to living things– with “actual”. The folly of that was explained in #16, but here we can start with the author’s preferred usage of “potential”: As a living thing, the author has the potential to become a corpse. Should the author be treated right now like a corpse, and be buried six feet under?
114.25 The paragraph details the relationship that the author has in mind, between “potential” and “actual”, with respect to some outcome “x”, for a living thing. Basically, “the potential for x actually exists”, simply because a living thing exists. AGREED –but this is not any sort of excuse to claim that “x” exists simply because the potential for it exists! We shall have to see how the author intends to use that relationship between “potential” and “actual”.
114.26 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “A reply to one objection”, the author notes that one might object to making a distinction between “possible” and “potential”. We don’t need to do that, however, as shown in #114.22.
114.27 The paragraph claims that by not making the distinction, questions regarding “why did that happen” become irrelevant. DISAGREED. Just because different possibilities/potentialities can be fulfilled in different ways, that does not mean it is necessary to use those two particular words to separate the multitude of different ways into two categories. Doing so may occasionally be useful, but will also be imperfect. Consider the Earth, for example, which is not a living thing, but includes events such as earthquakes and landslides. The former are as inevitable as tectonic plate motion, and the latter are as inevitable as erosion of mountains by weathering. Does the word “potential” or “possible” apply to those inevitable outcomes, totally unrelated to the activities of living things? Or, consider one of those small “growing” electronic machines described in #1, and referenced in multiple places among the first 60 Refutations of this document, specifically designed to emulate a living thing on the path toward achieving the personhood associated with True Artificial Intelligence. If such a machine really existed (and it could in 30 years or less, at the current rate of technical progress), is its goal “a mere possibility” or “an actual potential”?
114.28 The paragraph offers the author’s own disagreement with the irrelevance of “whys” described in the previous paragraph. Unfortunately, the author appears to be heading toward the conclusion that if “whys” are relevant, a distinction between “possible” and “potential” is needed. But that is what we disagreed with in the previous paragraph!
114.29 The paragraph is a single sentence that appears to be rhetorical, and so we can ignore it.
114.30 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “And to another”, the author notes a second way to respond to objections to making a distinction between “possible” and “potential”. Regarding the bricks and the acorn, what better words are available, to link the bricks to an uncertain future (they might become part of a bridge, instead of part of a house), and the acorn to a quite-probable future? We can note that in the tree-growing industry, a 50% death rate of seedlings is considered normal; it is not inevitable that an acorn will become a tree. On the other hand, if it survives, it cannot become anything other than a tree, as a result of its self-development. We can be confident that that is the sort of “inevitability” the author is talking about.
As an answer to the author’s question, while it is convenient to have single words that mean certain things, multitudes of words can also describe things –as was just done in the preceding paragraph of this Refutations document. How necessary is it that we use single words to encompass the distinction that the author wishes to make?
114.31 The paragraph expresses the author’s willingness to accept alternate words that accurately specify the dinction between a possible/uncertain outcome, and a potential/”inevitable” outcome. Perhaps even groupings of words would be acceptable to the author, but it doesn’t matter to us. See #114.22 again, for why.
114.32 The paragraph basically stresses the importance of accurate communications, that word-meanings should not interfere with proper understanding and presentation of important basic facts. AGREED.
114.33 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “Another formulation problem”, the author prepares to discuss an aspect of the fact that many words have multiple meanings.
114.34 The paragraph focuses on the word “capacity”, and how it gets used differently by the different sides of the Overall Abortion Debate. A quick look at an on-line dictionary certainly reveals a number of different definitions. The article’s author sort-of mentions perhaps-three definitions, while being less than crystal-clear about them.
114.35 The paragraph, possibly as a result of the lack of clarity in the previous paragraph, simply notes that a word like “capacity” does have multiple meanings, and that it is not a flaw if people make use of those different meanings.
However! It is still possible to mis-use a word, via “conflation of definitions”. Specifically with respect to “capacity”, it often refers to something that exists right now –but it can also be a synonym for “potential”, referring to something that does not exist right now (and in this paragraph we ignore any distinction between “possible” and “potential”). If the two definitions of “capacity” are kept separate, there is no problem. But abortion opponents don’t do that, when talking about the “capacity” of an unborn human. What that human right-now has is the “potential” type of capacity, only. That potential can be described in terms of “magnitude” –for which “capacity” is also a synonym! Therefore the abortion opponents conclude that the unborn human has an actually-existing right-now capacity. It is still only a capacity for potential abilities, associated with personhood, not a capacity that includes actual personhood-associated abilities. Abortion opponents ignore that distinction, equating “real capacity” with “real personhood”, and thus are conflating two definitions of “capacity” in an attempt to avoid actually using the word “potential” –which would (and does!) destroy their argument, per #16.
114.36 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “Some agreements”, the author indicates that the two sides of the Overall Abortion Debate do agree on a few things.
114.37 The paragraph talks about brainwaves, which many pro-choicers are willing to associate with personhood, and even abortion opponents must agree that a zygote cannot possibly have them.
The paragraph also mentions something else, about which some disagreement is possible –the notion that personhood is automatically associated with “right to life”. As shown in #3, #38, and #103, right-to-life is an invention, not a thing that actually exists in Nature. It is well-known that humans have a poor history of generally associating right-to-life with personhood, at least partly because of Parochial definitions of “person” (“Only members of our group qualify!” –see #111.6.1). It is possible that both sides of the Overall Abortion Debate might prefer a more Generic than Parochial “declaration of rights associated with personhood”, but that doesn’t solve a problem described near the beginning of the current article (in #114.7), because the personhood-status of unborn humans is still being Debated furiously.
At the end of the paragraph is mentioned an exception to the association of right-to-life with personhood, that those who initiate force might be deprived right-to-life. As part of the overall paragraph, the implication is that both sides of the Overall Abortion Debate might agree that a death penalty could be an appropriate punishment for a murderer. Yet we know there exists significant political opposition to a death penalty, regardless of any possible reason for it, which means that the “agreement” the author describes isn’t so solid as implied. Also, by focusing on “force”, the author ignores other possibilities, for which at least the political proponents of a death penalty would claim a perpetrator deserved it. One example: developing a deadly disease in a laboratory, and releasing it into the world. Where in that is the “force” the author talks about? Another example: dumping poison into a city’s water supply –again, where in that is “force” involved?
Well, if a poisoner can be given the death penalty, what of the facts about unborn human organisms that were detailed in #27? Unborn human organisms are as guilty of dumping poisons, toxic biowastes, into the bodies of their hostesses, as those women are guilty of breathing….
114.39 In the single-sentence first paragraph under the section heading of “Power and act”, the author expresses an intention to examine exactly how “reason and choice” are associated with personhood.
Before getting to the next paragraph, it will be worthwhile to note something about the article that wasn’t previously presented very well in these descriptions of its paragraphs. The author associates “power” with “potential”, as in “we have the power to do such-and-such”. And “act” is basically a short form of the word “action” –the observation of action is proof that the power exists. The “artificial dichotomy” previously described in #114.15 is about fetal-personhood arguments that are based on either potential/power or action/act (and as already stated, the reason the dichotomy is artificial is because “act” or “functionality” is required to enable any Objective, Generic, and Universal distinguishing of all types of persons from all types of ordinary animals –and “act” cannot happen if “power” does not also exist.).
114.40 The paragraph continues the artificial dichotomy by separating “power and act” into “power or act”, with respect to how “reason and choice” are associated with personhood.
114.41 The paragraph contains a claim to the effect that pro-choicers think that “act” can exist without “power”. BAD LOGIC, even if the claim is true! And it is certainly a FALSE claim with respect to what was written a short distance above; not every pro-choicer exhibits that particular Bad Logic.
The paragraph also talks about “grey areas”, without clarifying. We can guess that the most likely grey area is associated with the obvious Logic that while “act” can only happen if “power” also exists, “power” can exist without resulting in “act”. So, in such a case, when no “act” is observable, how do you identify a person? The Answer to that is pretty simple –how often in Nature does a “power” exist that never becomes associated with “act”? There is a semi-classic philosophical saying [paraphrased here], “Anything not forbidden is not only allowed, it is mandatory.” Basically, anything that can happen eventually will happen. All we need do is wait, and if “power” associated with personhood exists, “act” will eventually occur.
114.42 The paragraph talks about defining personhood as a matter of “power”, but fails to explain how the existence of “power” can be identified. On what basis could one claim “power” exists at Point A in time, if no associated “act” occurs until a much-later Point B in time? Do remember that with respect to personhood, the existence of feral children proves that personhood is not an “inevitable” result of human growth, the way a tree is an “inevitable” result of an acorn’s growth. (Also, keep in mind that the Question just asked doesn’t apply to typical coma victims, because they did “act” prior to becoming comatose –their personhood has already been proved to exist, and coma doesn’t destroy it, any more than sleep destroys it.)
Instead of dealing with such issues, the author shifts the subject entirely, to “alive-ness”, and also spouts a typical propagandism of abortion opponents, calling an unborn human animal organism, which always includes a placenta as a vital organ, a “child” (which normally does not include a placenta as a vital organ) –did the author think that by waiting until about half the article was written, to do that, it wouldn’t be noticed? Tsk, tsk!
The paragraph also contains some remarks about how defective DNA could prevent a human from becoming a person, but notes that such situations are rare enough that they can mostly be ignored in the context of the Overall Abortion Debate, since abortion often kills normally-developing humans, not abnormally-developing humans. TO SOME EXTENT, AGREED. There is, however, a significant abortion rate for humans with some known genetic defects, such as “Tay-Sachs Disease” or “Downs Syndrome” (neither of which precludes personhood from being acquired). But normally-developing humans do get aborted in significant numbers, also.
114.43 The paragraph basically appears state something similar to what has already been presented, regarding the necessity for “power” to exist in association with personhood.
114.44 The paragraph asks a question relating to the “continuity” anti-abortion argument (demolished in #95 and, differently, in #8). In a parenthetical remark, the author mentions biological continuity, without taking into account the fact that about 90% of all the cells in the average post-natal human body are bacterial, not human (and are required for survival), and were not present to any significant extent as part of the originally-developing overall unborn organism. While it may be true that “required for survival” is not the same thing as “required for personhood”, to the extent that biology is involved, personhood is associated with the brain and mind (see #12), which very simply do not exist for a zygote, morula, blastocyst, or embryo, and which insufficiently exist for every stage of fetal growth (see #11).
114.45 The paragraph is also about the necessity for “power” to exist in association with personhood, but here the author also uses the word “sufficient”, and indicates an apparent lack of arguments against the idea that “power” alone is sufficient for personhood to exist. NO PROBLEM –just explain exactly how to detect whether or not “power” associated with personhood is actually present in an organism, when not being employed to “act”, and we can agree to use that method to Objectively, Generically, and Universally distinguish any type of person from any type of mere animal organism!
That preceding statement might sound a bit like deliberately walking into a trap, since, after all, the author of the article is associating “power” with “potential” –so, logically, if a just-conceieved organism has the potential for personhood, you would detect it by simply observing “act” of the adults. However, the word “inevitable” was left out of the previous sentence, and that word is also a crucial part of the author’s usage of “power”. For some species in the Universe, their biological potential might indeed include personhood as an “inevitability”. But, as mentioned in #114.22, that particular thing is not true of humans, and therefore the “agreement” offered in the above paragraph does the author no good whatsoever, in terms of supporting an anti-abortion argument! The author needs something other than the “power” defined in the article, to grant personhood to unborn humans! And thus it was quite OK to have offered the agreement in the above paragraph.
114.46 The paragraph erroneously claims that the zygote has the “power” associated with personhood. While we are aware that the author is associating “power” with the “inevitability” of an acorn becoming a tree, we also know that the author wasn’t working with complete information on the subject (data about feral children), when making that association. The building-upon a fundamentally erroneous foundation cannot yield a valid result, and that is why it was mentioned that we might consider stopping the debunking of the article, back in #114.22
However, if the debunking had been ended back then, other mistakes the author made could not have been pointed out (such as the recent stuff about biological continuity). The more different ways the article can be proved worthless, the better! So, the present paragraph being examined also mentions something about “lower animals”, and because of the author’s mistake regarding the “power” of a zygote, the claim is made that the zygote has that in common with an adult human. When you think about it, even if the zygote did have “power”, the claim is nonsense because that “power” is still only related to “potential”, while the “power” of the adult is “actual” –the adult’s “power” does not need any development (regardless of “inevitability”) to be exercised! (So see #114.24 regarding equating “potential” and “actual”, and the “corpse-ness” of the author, and #114.35 regarding definition-conflation.)
114.47 The paragraph claims that thinking about lower animals poses a problem for using “act” to identify personhood. We shall see, in the next section.
114.48 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “The problem of the lower animals”, the author appears to be ignoring the distinction between how Science might define “personhood”, and how the Law might define it, by focusing on opinions of various pro-choicers, who try to find a reason to assign personhood at birth, while denying it to ordinary animals that happen to have significantly greater capabilities than newborn humans.
114.49 The paragraph talks about “intelligence” and how various animals, especially chimpanzees, appear to be rather more intelligent than newborn humans. AGREED. If the author of the article ever read this segment #114 of this overall Refutations document, we can invite an investigation of Koko the gorilla. She was raised from infancy by humans with as much Nurturing as is normally given to human infants, and she responded by learning sign language –she is rational and has the power of choice, although she is limited to about the same level of mental ability as an average human toddler (she only has about as much brain as an average human toddler). Should the author now conclude that all gorillas qualify as persons, even though only Koko has received the essential Nurturing? Should the author make an animal-or-person distinction between wild gorillas that didn’t receive appropriate Nurturing, and feral humans that didn’t receive appropriate Nurturing? The author’s “brickyard” of possibilities is certainly larger than the author had in mind! (And just to point out even more possibilities, the subject of dolphin intelligence is still being researched, with evidence accumulating regarding their own types of Nurturing and language….)
114.50 The single-sentence paragraph that concludes the section asks how animals more-capable than newborn humans can be excluded from personhood, when only “act” is important. There are two different Answers, one of which removes the relevance of the Question. That is, by using Science to define personhood, newborn humans also fail to qualify. Of course that leads to questions/arguments about “infanticide” (so see #107.48), which has nothing to do with the Overall Abortion Debate. The scientific process does not care one whit what mere humans think about the conclusions that it reaches. So, if the available data leads Science to the conclusion that infant humans are just as much mere animal organisms as puppies, then that is the conclusion, and only better valid data can lead Science to a different conclusion.
The other answer involves the Law, which frequently can be very Arbitrary, and even Prejudicial. Humans who write Laws for human purposes can write anything they want, if enough other humans agree. So, for various descriptions of what has been done, and what might be done, regarding personhood and the Law, see #20, #82, and #103.
114.51 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “The machinery”, the author proposes that pro-choicers, in response to the above Question, would offer an Answer that involved, in essence, “braininess”. The author then proceeds to point out the inadequacies of such an Answer. We can agree with those inadequacies, because Science offers a better Answer, as explained above.
114.52 The paragraph states that the zygote possesses machinery, also, related to its growth. However, since that machinery cannot inevitably cause a human to become a person, it doesn’t matter what the author thinks about either the “power” or “act” of humans, compared to the “power” or “act” of ordinary animals. Without appropriate Nurture, humans basically are ordinary-but-clever animals –that’s what the data about feral children tells us!
114.53 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “A response?”, the author presents another supposed response that pro-choicers might make, relative to the Question regarding ordinary animals. It relates to defining “person” in terms of “essence”, which is not logically consistent with the author’s primary assertion that all pro-choice arguments can be lumped together under the category of associating “act” with personhood (see #114.10, #114.11 and #114.12). Without logical consistency, why should the author’s claims be believed?
114.54 The paragraph indicates that the author can’t relate the argument in the preceding paragraph to the “power/act” distinction, regarding defining personhood. Well, why should that be necessary? If an argument exists that falls outside the author’s early lumping-together of arguments, that just means the author made an early mistake! (And for another “argument” that falls outside the author’s “lumping”, see #114.16.)
The paragraph also reiterates something mentioned in #114.45, about a lack of arguments against associating only “power” with the definition of “personhood”. Let us rectify that with what might be called “an argument from futility” … expanding upon something originally presented in #27 and #28.
Those two segments mentioned some things about “R-strategy” reproduction, and how it is not impossible to speculate about a species of intelligent beings who have huge numbers of offspring. We can easily pick a couple of widely-known fictional examples. In 1932 a “Mickey Mouse” cartoon was made, titled “Mikey’s Nightmare”, featuring a horde of offspring after he gets married (search for it here; Mickey qualifies as “an intelligent being”, right?). And in 1984 the science fiction movie “The Last Starfighter” featured an extraterrestrial character who had 6000 offspring. No mention is made regarding how such large numbers of offspring can be supported/fed (and in the cartoon, after Mickey wakes up he vows to never get married).
Now imagine a world populated by intelligent beings who have such large numbers of offspring. Per the author’s “power” argument (assuming those intelligent beings “inevitably” become persons), all their vast numbers of offspring qualify as persons from the moment of conception. Well, Mathematics has a thing or two to say about “exponential growth”, and it begins with something known as the Fibonacci rabbit sequence. That sequence is a pale shadow of the growth rate resulting when each breeding pair of R-strategists has hundreds or thousands of offspring at a time!
A world has a finite supply of resources with which to feed its inhabitants. It Is Mathematically Impossible For Finite Resources To Support Endless Population Growth. It is futile to even try, and that is why most offspring of R-strategists must die, no matter how much they qualify as persons. So here is the Scenario One of the conundrum:
(A) Assume all offspring of intelligent beings are persons from conception, because of the author’s “power” argument.
(B) Associate “right to life” with personhood, which implies a “right to be fed”.
(C) Multiply the numbers of offspring enormously, per R-strategy reproduction.
(D) Discover it is Mathematically Impossible to feed all those offspring, and most of them are going to die regardless of how much you think they deserve to live. It is futile to even try, so why should the assumption in (A) be considered valid/sensible, when it is impossible to follow-through with the consequences of the assumption? In many other situations involving Logic, reaching an impossible conclusion tends to invalidate an initial assumption.
(A) Assume all offspring of intelligent beings are mere animal organisms until they develop enough to “act” otherwise.
(B) Associate “right to life” with personhood, which implies a “right to be fed” –but does not apply to mere animals.
(C) Multiply the numbers of offspring enormously, per R-strategy reproduction.
(D) Discover it is Mathematically Impossible to feed all those offspring. But so long as deaths are restricted to the early animal-level stage of development, while offspring that develop person-class “act” are protected, the deaths don’t really matter. They are most-extremely easy to replace! And remember, no matter how many offspring a breeding pair of any species produces, “replacement level fertility” only requires about 2.1 (on the average) of those offspring to survive, for the overall species to indefinitely survive.
Humans are “K-strategists”, not R-strategists, so we generally have very few offspring at a time, and our biological heritage includes a significant drive to protect them. Accordingly, it is perfectly obvious why many humans oppose abortion. Still, we can introduce another relevant factor: “Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.” To the extent that observation is valid, let us consider author’s “power” argument for the personhood of intelligent beings at conception. If correct, the argument should apply equally well to all intelligent species everywhere –yet it is very easy to imagine types of intelligent species for which the argument is senselessly futile, associated with an impossibility. Logically, “senseless is senseless” –if an assumption about persons can’t work for rights of R-strategists, there is no reason to apply it to K-strategists. The argument only exists because because the author is attempting to rationalize an opposition to abortion that fundamentally derives from Natural Mindless Biology! But as persons with the power of choice, we are not required to enslave ourselves to Biology, and in fact we mostly don’t (see #38).
114.55 The paragraph appears to be mostly blather. In the “A response?” section of the article, the author has already exhibited inconsistency with the original premise, and also admitted an argument exists that doesn’t “fit” with the lumping-together of all pro-choice arguments. Here, about the only sensible thing being stated is the fact that both sides of the Overall Abortion Debate agree that zygotes can’t do Logic.
114.56 The paragraph indicates that if unborn humans qualified as persons in spite of using “act” to define personhood, a logical dilemma would result, A question is also asked, regarding whether or not there would be other problems.
114.57 The paragraph is a single 3-word sentence, “Are there any?” (other problems).
114.58 The final paragraph of the section asks if it is intuitively obvious and unconsciously understood that “early preborn” humans can’t be persons. ACTUALLY, THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE FOR THAT. Consider how humans typically use the word “being” in various conversations. They say “human beings” but never say “ostrich beings”. They sometimes say “extraterrestrial beings” but never say “turtle beings”. It should be obvious that the word “being” is getting used as a synonym for “person”, and it is commonly accepted that ostriches and turtles don’t qualify as persons, while most humans do, and some extraterrestrials might. So, if we take that Common Usage Of Language as a guide, and then look: Nobody ever says, in ordinary conversations, “zygote being”, “morula being”, “blastocyst being”, “embryo being”, or even “fetus being”! One should think that if abortion opponents TRULY believed deep-down that unborn humans qualified as persons, they would be very frequently/casually using such phrases just as unselfconsciously as they say “human being”! (So, see again the above quote, about man being a rationalizing animal….)
114.59 In the first paragraph under the section heading of “The unacceptable cost”, the author states that by using “act” to define personhood, the problem of lower animals means denying personhood to infant humans, and claims it is “an unacceptable cost”. PROVE IT! Different cultures find different things acceptable, or unacceptable. Our culture currently finds infanticide unacceptable (while others were OK with it), but that is NOT the same thing as denying personhood to infants. So, see #103.1, #103.2, and #103.3, for ways in which it can be quite rational to deny personhood to infants, while still granting significant protections to them.
114.60 The paragraph begins a sequence of 9 paragraphs (so we can skip detailing the next 8) in which the author attempts to show how difficult it can be to specify a “dividing line” for assigning personhood during the middle of a pregnancy. AGREED, because even for infants denied personhood, the “dividing line” problem remains; see #82.
114.69 The third-to-last paragraph of the article exhibits a typical Hypocrisy of abortion opponents, claiming that defining personhood is a matter of personal preference, and thus qualifies as “an unacceptable cost” –while not even considering for a moment that Science might offer a valid way to Objectively, Generically, and Universally distinguish all types of persons from all types of mere-animal organisms, even though Science is quite acceptable to abortion opponents for Objectively determining other things, such as determining when a human life begins. Tsk, tsk!
114.70 The paragraph claims that pro-choicers get upset when certain of their arguments don’t work out like they expected. BETTER ARGUMENTS EXIST. And, of course, the author of the article got to choose only the arguments that suited the author’s purpose –not that that ended up helping the author’s own anti-abortion rationalizations one bit!
114.71 The final paragraph makes no sense, in terms of being the conclusion of an anti-abortion argument! It basically claims that recognizing the significance of “power” in determining personhood results in the “unacceptable cost” that personhood should be recognized for all unborn humans –and that as a result of that “unacceptable cost”, abortions should be prevented! NOPE! Because if the cost is unacceptable, then the thing associated with the cost can be unacceptable, also!!!
We can be confident that the author actually meant something else, even if that is not what the author actually wrote. On the other hand, it is a major premise of this overall Refutations document that abortion opponents regularly spout nonsense, and here is a perfect example!
Not that a rewritten final paragraph would make any difference whatsoever, because the fundamental tenet of the article was destroyed in #114.22, and nothing that came afterward affected the fact that the default biological growth of humans does not automatically/inevitably include personhood.
(Below are what appear to be the “best fit” for the final arguments in the sequence. If new arguments are added, they will be inserted before these.)
Penultimate. “There are no good reasons to allow abortion.” FALSE. Based on the information in this overall Refutations document, a number of good reasons can be adduced. Please keep in mind that while these are reasons to allow abortion, they are not automatically and necessarily also reasons to go ahead and actually get an abortion. That should generally be a decision for the well-informed individual to make, and a major reason this document exists is to ensure that all readers become as well-informed as possible, of Facts associated with the Overall Abortion Debate.
The following list should not be considered complete, and more items may be added to it in the future:
P.1 Abortion can help to stave off a Malthusian Catastrophe. The faster that the total human population grows, the faster it will reach a “hard limit” regarding the world’s finite supply of resources, needed to sustain that population. Since it is Mathematically Impossible for unlimited growth to be compatible with finite resources, there most definitely is a hard limit to growth, even if nobody knows exactly where that limit is. Logically, therefore, the more abortions that are done, the more it can reduce the rate-of-increase of the overall human population –and the longer it will take to hit that hard limit.
P.2 Abortion is a Logically Consistent way to demonstrate superiority over Natural Mindless Biology, instead of subservience to it. As described in #36, sex and pregnancy are only indirectly linked, not directly linked, and that indirect linkage involves biological entities, equivalent to machines programmed by DNA, that exhibit independent behavior. Their behavior is critical to either the success or failure of a pregnancy to begin. Another example of a DNA-programmed biological machine is a mosquito, as described specifically in terms of Natural Mindless Biology in #38. Then there are the many diseases caused by, a vast variety of Natural Mindless Biological organisms. As long as humans claim superiority over Natural Mindless Biological Events (perhaps by getting a heart transplant when one’s own heart fails, or working on a cure for malaria), humans are equally claiming they can refuse to accept subservience to Natural Mindless Biological Events. Since pregnancy, or a mosquito sucking one’s blood, or a failing heart, or catching a communicable disease, are all consequences of Natural Mindless Biological events, contraceptives and abortion and mosquito-swatting and heart transplants and immunizations and antibiotics all qualify as ways to refuse to be subservient to Natural Mindless Biology. (Basically, to deny abortion, especially when imperfect contraceptives fail, while accepting all other ways to refuse subservience to Natural Mindless Biology, is to illogically exhibit “hypocrisy”.)
P.3 Abortion is the only way now available to end, prior to birth, the assault-type actions of unborn humans (detailed in #27), along with their hormone-induced mind manipulation (detailed in #98.1), when those actions are deemed intolerable. Since they would certainly be deemed intolerable if one human adult did such things to another human adult, or even if an ordinary animal did them to a human adult, why shouldn’t it be acceptable to deem those actions intolerable when an unborn human does them to a human adult? Prejudice? Hypocrisy?
P.4 Understanding that there is almost certainly a genetic factor associated with (but not directly causing) rape means realizing that if rapists never successfully passed their genes on to future generations, eventually those genes would be weeded out of the population. (It would still be a very long-term project, though.) To the extent that there also is a genetic tendency for a male to follow a “seduce her, impregnate her, and run” reproductive strategy, that is also something Society might want to weed out of the population. Remember that Nature doesn’t care in the least what strategies work to pass genes on (detailed in #7). But human persons consider some reproductive strategies to be vastly superior to others. And abortion can give us the power to act against the worst strategies… if it was used to ensure that socially detrimental genes are not successfully passed on.
P.5 Should there happen to be so many abortions that the total population actually started decreasing, the average wealth of individuals would eventually go up, a logical consequence of the Law of Supply and Demand (the opposite side of this was presented in #49). Less competition for jobs means higher wages being offered to attract workers –and less demand for goods tends to cause prices to go down. The difference is increased wealth for anyone hired to work and who also pays for goods. Which is better, Quality Of Life, or Quantity Of Life?
P.6 At the present time we have some sociological evidence indicating that there is a link between unwanted children and the crime rate –and that abortions, by preventing births of unwanted children, lead to a lower crime rate (including the current crime of “infanticide” –and even if infanticide was not a crime, allowing late-term abortions would reduce its rate). In a related theme is this quote: “Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself.” Which is better, Quality of Life, or Quantity of Life?
P.7 By focusing human culture on the idea that “person rights” is more important than “human rights”, allowing abortions of human non-persons prepares the way for future beneficial and unprejudiced contact with non-human intelligent beings (see #103), whether they be extraterrestrial in origin, or turn out to be local, such as, say, Genuine Artificial Intelligences, a few decades from now. (Also, the personhood of whales and dolphins is still being debated. One might wonder how much irrational Prejudice against them is embodied in the arguments that they don’t qualify as persons, especially by, say, those with a vested interest in the whaling industry….) When the human species allows abortion, it is basically evidence opposing the notion that we are so arrogant and puffed-up with egotistical prejudiced self-importance that we think we’re the greatest thing to come along since Nature invented sexual reproduction. Actions speak louder than words!
P.8 Allowing abortion is a way to Formally Acknowledge various Facts about humans, such as the Fact that unborn humans are significantly different (as explained in #27 and #33 and #99) from “babies” and “children”. There is also the Fact that there is no possible manner in which they can qualify as persons, in terms of Objective Generic ways of distinguishing persons of any type, anywhere in the Universe, from mere animal organisms (see #100). Another Fact is that something having “potential” does not automatically have to be treated as if its potential has been actualized (see #16). And various other Facts about humans (e.g., per #5, they do not have “intrinsic value”, or, per #38, a woman seeking an abortion due to inadequate resources is acting consistently with the Natural rationale for “fetal resorption”) have been presented throughout this overall document. As intelligent beings, human persons need to acknowledge Facts, not deny/lie-about them. And, again, legalized abortion is an action that speaks louder than mere words, regarding accepting Facts.
P.9 While P.1 focused on one possible consequence of the Earth’s human population explosion, there is at least one other consequence that many people wish to address. This is the encroachment of our ever-growing cities and their support-structures (such as farmland) upon the wilderness, destroying habitats for other species and driving many of them to actual extinction (not just to the brink of extinction). Since it is known that human psychological health can benefit from interactions with Nature, it logically follows that the more diverse is the global ecosystem, the more it can benefit humanity. So, we have a conundrum in which the more humans exist, the more we need greater amounts of wilderness, not less –simply because the less there is, the more it must be shared, and a “wilderness” simply cannot be any such thing if it is jammed full of humans 24/7. So, for our own psychological health, we need to be able to say that other species are as important as our own. Since allowing abortion helps reduce the rate of human population growth, it logically follows that it is a useful tool in our repertoire, which we have available for saving other species from our onslaught.
P.10 Abortion is a tool, and humans and their ancestors have been tool-using organisms for so long that it is almost part of our “inherent nature”. In general, it is MUCH better to have a tool, and not need it, than to need a tool, and not have it. For an example of why, consider the topic of “nuclear explosives”. Some folks want them banned, because they are often designated as “weapons”. So, suppose they did get banned, and all the world’s stockpiles were dismantled and destroyed. Now imagine astronomers discovering a large asteroid on a collision course with Earth. It could literally be fatal for the human species to need the tool of nuclear explosives, and not have it available! Abortion-as-a-tool is not in the same category, of course, but it is still a tool that needs to be used on occasion (an “ectopic” pregnancy in the Fallopian Tube either must be aborted, or both a woman and her offspring will die). Well, if abortion was mostly illegal, then what doctors are getting necessary practice at it? It would be essentially useless to be allowed only on rare occasions, if too few doctors were competent enough to do it reliably/safely!
P.11 Another reason to allow abortion is again related to overpopulation, but this time the focus is on “selfishness”. One aspect of that topic was described in #7, and other aspects were mentioned in #29 and #31 and #89. In #50 it was even described as existing on both sides of the Overall Abortion Debate. More generically, it is a basic Fact that every life-form on Earth is selfish –the unselfish ones didn’t adequately participate in the Evolutionary sweepstakes regarding gathering up all the resources needed to have as many offspring as possible. Therefore it logically follows that the greater the human population of the world, the greater the total amount of human selfishness in the world. This leads us to another Fact, that a huge percentage of human problems are caused by selfishness. Without using words, a murderer or a rapist or a thief, or even a drunk stumbling into other pedestrians, is basically saying, “What I want is more important than what you want.” But there is more about selfishness than the “crime rate” stuff presented in P.6 –even many wars can be traced to the selfishness associated with overpopulation pressure. Then there are “terrorists”, whose selfishness is often expressed as, “If I don’t get what I want, I will [insert detrimental-to-civilization thing here].” While humans are very adaptable organisms, and are often trained to control their selfishness, there is simply a fundamental minimum that cannot be ignored (per #89, and the quotation in P.6). Logically, therefore, there is some as-yet-unknown maximum amount of human selfishness that can exist before it causes the collapse of civilization. Equally logically, to avoid that fate means we cannot let ourselves exceed whatever the critical population level turns out to be. And abortion, as previously mentioned, remains a tool that can help prevent overpopulation.
LAST. “Defenders of the unborn are discredited in ways that have nothing to do with the rationales for either side of the Overall Abortion Debate.” IRRELEVANT. The statement has nothing to do with the rationales for either side of the Overall Abortion Debate. Nevertheless, there could be a good reason for such discrediting. Should someone be positively credited for spouting ridiculous nonsense, lies, unethical propaganda, distortions of fact, denials of fact, incomplete truths, et cetera?
Consider a wider point of view for a moment. The concept of Freedom of Religion means that people are free to believe any of a wide number of things that are not actually known to be true. SOME of those beliefs are known to contain nonsensical elements, such as the claim that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Then we have the additional concept of Free Speech, which allows nonsense to be perpetuated. What is the most logical way for a rational society to handle the combined triplet of Religious Freedom and nonsense and Free Speech?
Well, that also has nothing to do with the rationales for either side of the Overall Abortion Debate. But an Answer to that question might point the way toward ending the Debate, once and for all, since, as this document shows, opponents of abortion regularly spout mostly nonsense.