The Instigator
THE_OPINIONATOR
Pro (for)
Losing
8 Points
The Contender
Torvald
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

A fetus IS living based on the definition of the word 'living' and the words within

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Torvald
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/27/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,514 times Debate No: 35125
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (46)
Votes (6)

 

THE_OPINIONATOR

Pro

Hello ladies and gentleman of DDO, I hope you all are having a swell day and thank you in advance for reading and voting for this debate. I wish my future opponent the best of luck in this debate and I hope you will enjoy it regardless of the outcome.

Living- the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.

This is not a moral debate, this debate will be argued based on the above definition of the word living, and the words within this definition (ie metabolism, reproduction, adaptation).

1. Acceptance and clarification
2. Argument
3. Rebuttals and conclusion

Again this is not a moral debate, if my opponent poses a moral debate I will simply continue to debate on the grounds that have been set.
Torvald

Con

I shall be delighted to debate this topic with the Pro, especially since he seems to be using in his favor an argument that I have often used to the opposite end.

I look forward to the debate. Lead as you will, Pro.
Debate Round No. 1
THE_OPINIONATOR

Pro

Thankyou Torvald for your acceptance of this debate.

Hello again ladies and gentleman, I stand in affirmation of the above resolution "A fetus IS living based on the definition of the word 'living' and the words within" The definition below will be the definition used by both sides in this debate:

Living- the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaption to environment through changes originating internally.

Manifested- Display or show (a quality or feeling) by one's acts or appearance; demonstrate: "manifest signs of depression". This means that a fetus MUST show signs of growth in order to be considered a living thing.

Now lets take a look and examine the criteria that makes a fetus a living thing based on the definition.

1. Metabolism- the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.

This means that in order for something to be living, it must produce, maintain, and destroy its material substances.

Production- From the beginning as an embryo, the few cells within it divide continuously in order to form the early stages of a fetus. These Embryonic stem cells or ES cells continue to divide and separate to make up tissues that will then make up the systems of the human body.

Maintain- Once these cells have continuously divided they will begin to maintain the fetus that they have created. Homeostasis will begin to take place as the fetus begins to develop in the womb of its mother. Homeostasis is the constant regulation in an internal environment. Just as our bodies so as we develop over our lifetime. From the beginning our bodies must stay in a state of Homeostasis in order for our bodies to survive.

Destroy- Cells that our bodies produce get old just as we do as human beings. Everyday for the thousand cells that die, our bodies replace them with new cells. A fetus's stem cells work and then they die, being replaced with new younger stem cells. The fetus also brings in nutrients and breaks it down or destroys it for energy and nutrients for needed development and growth over its nine month developmental period.

2. Reproduction- The fetus is nowhere near the reproductive maturity it must achieve in order to reproduce. But a fetus is still living because it must sexually mature just as every other mammal on the earth must mature in order to reproduce. The fetus may not produce on the level of another human being but they reproduce internally. Each and every cell that is produced contains the DNA that make up that fetus throughout its life. Reproduction is the biological process where new offspring are produced from parents. When a parent cell begins to divide off it comes a second cell or offspring through asexual reproduction, the ability of reproduction without a partner. The fetus has already produced thousands and thousands of genetic copies through the reproduction of cells.

Adaption- At the end of the developmental cycle of the nine months a fetus is in the womb, the fetus must learn to adapt to life outside of the mothers womb. They begin to breath on their own, metabolise energy on their own and regulate their own temperature. Just like every other mammal, the human fetus has the potential to adapt to the outside environment when outside of the mothers womb, and will do so in order to survive.

I ask that you vote PRO based on the argument that I have set forth because a fetus is in fact living because it fits the set definition for a living being. Thankyou for your time reading, voting and to my opponent for debating.
Torvald

Con

For convenience' sake, let's restate the definition of 'life.'

According to Dictionary.com, life is defined as:
  • the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. [1]

According to this definition, to be 'alive,' an organism (object) must display these three characteristics:
  • Growth through metabolism
  • Reproduction
  • Endogenous adaptation

Now that we have a simplified definition, free of 'complicated' words like 'manifested' so as to eliminate the need to take up space defining them, we can follow a basic process of determining whether or not a fetus is to be considered alive.

Growth Through Metabolism
Rather than defining metabolism, which the Pro has already kindly done for us, I shall explain it a little more in depth. Metabolism is a process by which an organism intakes a substance, obtains energy from it, and the excretes the chemical product. It is also used to intake chemical 'building blocks' out of which to acrete mass, the process of growth. Now, does a fetus match this characteristic? Does a fetus metabolize through growth? I would concludepossibly. I say only possibly because it lives off of a constant supply of nutrients from a 'host,' its mother. Deprive it of this connection to the mother and it instantly ceases metabolism; a non-stable system.

Reproduction
The definition in use does not specify the parameters of 'reproduction,' but following the in-definition link to the definition of reproduction reveals only reproduction as a conduit for creating new offspring, not the multiplication of cells. As the Pro has stated, obviously a fetus cannot sexually reproduce. But does merely having DNA qualify it to pass this requirement? Stating that one day it will be able to reproduce is a straw man, a seemingly good argument that does not have as much relevance as it superficially appears to. By the argument that because it will one day reach sexual maturity, it is capable of reproduction, an acorn is capable of producing acorns because in 100 years or so, it can have grown into an oak tree, or an egg can lay eggs because one day it may grow into a chicken. The question of current status as alive is not dependent upon conditions in the future. I'll return to cell reproduction; it is not at question as to whether or not a fetus' cells are alive. If they constitute a nascent organism (which is what a fetus is), they obviously are living. However, a dead object can still possess living cells. Were I to shoot myself in the head right now, even though I would most likely be dead, essentially all cells in my body (and some outside) would still be living. That wouldn't make me alive. From this, I conclude that, at very best, a fetus might someday fulfill the requirement of reproduction, but as it currently is, cannot keep itself alive without connection to another organism, let alone furnish another life.

Endogenous (self-generated) Adaptation
This seems to me to be the most obvious of the three; a fetus is totally dependent upon its parent, dependent in a biological sense, not just a state of defenselessness, as in an infant or elderly person; a fetus cannot adapt to anything, as a fetus, and must rely upon adaptations from the mother. Claiming that a fetus adapts because when it is born, it must adapt is self-defeating, because the point at which it starts breathing for itself and displaying other examples of autonomy is the point at which it is no longer connected to its parent, no longer considered a fetus. Adaptations it makes, as a fetus, are not self-generated. The fetus' body does not detect environmental changes and adapt to them. As I've said, this task is carried out by the mother. The conclusion, since a fetus must rely on its mother to react to its environment, is that it does not fulfill the qualification of adaptation through self-generated processes.

The Question of Autonomy
The way I see it, all of the issues of the definition of life and its conformity by a fetus are largely dependent upon the issue of autonomy. Debatably, all three issues are nullified by one thing: a fetus is not an autonomous organism. It is a 'budding off' of its mother, an object attached to her and growing off of her. Because a fetus does nothing for itself, it cannot possibly meet the characteristics of an autonomous life form. Because it has no ability to function individually, it fails to fulfill the requirements of life as stated by the definition. [2]

The Grey Area
Now, you, the reader, have undoubtedly noticed that both Pro's points and my own are largely based on predisposed interpretation of conflicting and 'iffy' information. That is because it really is a very difficult conclusion to make, it being so subject to interpretation of this ambiguity. This is the very reason it is still an issue. I do not believe we shall reach a clearly-defined consensus on the matter. I naturally think my position the stronger, just as Pro likely thinks his the stronger. The point of the debate is not, therefore, to declare in our argument which one of us has won, and which one of us is to be voted for, but to determine that through debate. I do not urge the voters to vote for me. I urge them to read the debate, and decide for themselves to whom to award their votes.

Sources
  1. http://dictionary.reference.com......
  2. Life: The Science of Biology, Fifth Edition
Debate Round No. 2
THE_OPINIONATOR

Pro

Thankyou Torvald for simplifying the definition, it will be of much help to not only us but to the readers as well.

Growth Through Metabolism

This resolution isn't "A fetus is Possibly living based on the definition of the world 'living' and the words within" rather "A fetus IS living based on the definition of the word 'living' and the words within" this resolution is definite meaning that we are arguing if a fetus is living or not living. Even though the fetus is dependant on the mother for these resources, it must still metabolize this nutrients in order to continue to develop normally as it should. The definition doesn't say that the organism must be dependent for its own nutrients in order to be considered living, only that it must grow through metabolism. The fetus thus metabolises through the nutrients received from its mother and growth occurs over a nine month period. Thus it is living. Even outside of the womb when it has been born, and even as adults we must keep a constant supply of nutrients or we will die. Deprived of the supply of nutrients outside or inside of the womb and we will still die either way.

Reproduction

Obviously as we have each made clear in this debate, a fetus can not sexually reproduce. The fetus is not yet sexually mature enough to reproduce. It must grow and develop in order to do so. This means that in order to develop sexually, the fetus MUST metabolize from its mother or on its own. Growth and coming of sexual maturity shows adeptness as well. It shows that the fetus is living, because as it grows in its mothers womb it develops the systems needed in order to one day reproduce. Thus sexual development to one day potential reproduce shows that it is living. Every mammal has the potential to reproduce even when it is sexually mature. My opponent is saying that if something doesn't reproduce, then it is not living. EVERY living mammal has the possibility of reproduction even when sexually mature enough to do so.

Endogenous (self-generated) Adaptation

The definition of living given for the debate is not specific on the grounds of how it is to adapt. It isn't clear as to weather something that is living must adapt on its own. The definition simply says that the organism must adapt, not how it must adapt. Thus, the fetus is living because through its mother it is able to adapt in some way. The definition given doesn't give a specific way for the fetus to adapt to be considered living.

The baby is also able to live outside of the mothers womb, and I just thought that this article and video to be very cool:

http://www.today.com...

I will leave it up to the voters to decide on their own the outcome of this debate upon their own hearts and minds and what they read. It was a pleasure debating you Torvald, than you for your time in debating this debate with me. Thankyou to the readers and voters for their time as well, it is much appreciated.
Torvald

Con

I always find that if a definition can be simplified, that is preferable to using a longer, more unwieldy definition.

Growth Through Metabolism
You may be getting too caught up in only your side of the debate. Now, just because you are at the position of requirement to prove that a fetus is, by the definition above, living, does not mean I must prove an absolute. All I have to do is prove that a fetus is not absolutely required to be living according to the definition. If I wanted to settle for 'possibly,' I would be completely entitled to shoot only for 'possibly.' Now, I will give you that the cells of the fetus do metabolize the nutrients that are pumped into it from its mother, but it does not obtain those nutrients autonomously. Autonomy may not be included in the definition, but I think, in more time, we could agree that it's implied. As I have said, the metabolism of nutrients by a fetus is not self-generated, it is totally dependent. The mother is the one ingesting and digesting the nutrients, then pumping them into the fetus. This is distinctly different from our own dependence on nutrients. We are capable of obtaining our own, ingesting our own, digesting our own, and then metabolizing them. A fetus obviously does only one of these, and the nutrients are already broken down for it at that point.

Reproduction
"The fetus is not yet sexually mature enough to reproduce...growth and coming of sexual maturity shows adeptness as well." [1]
You seem to have dismissed/ignored completely my address of this. Repeating your previous, refuted argument does not do you any good. As I have said, determining the fetus is alive because it may at one point in its lifespan reach sexual maturity is a straw man. I don't think it's necessary for me to quote the analogy you ignored. I am not saying that if something does not reproduce, it is not living. I am saying that if it is not currently able to independently reach a point at which it can reproduce, whether sexually or asexually, if at the current point of examination it cannot, then it does not fulfill one of the qualifications of the definition, ergo it does not fulfill the definition.

Endogenous Adaptation
Perhaps the Pro should reread the definition of 'living' that he gave at the beginning of the debate. I will quote only the excerpt relevant to this segment:
...and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. [2]
This illustrates that endogenous changes, changes originating internally, are explicitly the ones at issue. That a fetus can be made to adapt by its mother does not meet this qualification, as, according to the definition that the Pro has chosen, in order to meet the qualification of the definition, a fetus must adapt endogenously. The definition does give a specific character of this adaptation.

I reject your 'cool video,' as your objective is to prove on your own merit that a fetus is living according to the definition you gave. Your objective is not to allow an external source to do your arguing for you.

Conclusion
I conclude that since the Pro has not been able to defend his case after an initial refutation, and because my argument has not been refuted, I have successfully established that according to the definition, a fetus is not alive, as it does not satisfactorily fulfill the three characteristics laid out by the definition. Pro has been unsuccessful in proving with certainty any of the three points, and at best has raised the question that it is possible that a fetus could satisfy one of them, that it grows through the metabolism of nutrients.

Thank you, THE_OPINIONATOR, for this debate. I am slightly disappointed by the outcome, but nonetheless enjoyed it. If you wish to continue it, or initiate a rematch, I am amenable. That much said, I bid farewell to my opponent and to the readers, and I thank you for your consideration. Have a nice day.

Sources
  1. Pro, Round 3
  2. http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 3
46 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
Refer to earlier comments.
Posted by THE_OPINIONATOR 3 years ago
THE_OPINIONATOR
Torvald if I wanted to use this video effectively in my argument, don't you think as a whole I would have structured my whole argument around the video?
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
"The baby is also able to live outside of the mothers womb, and I just thought that this article and video to be very cool:

http://www.today.com...;

The posting of a video/article link right after writing a thesis but giving no support seems to me to indicate that the video/article link is intended to be the support for the thesis. Too many times have I encountered the strategy of arguing with links to get around character constraints, or to avoid making a case, or to look flashy, or for whatever reason, to not be cynical when it comes to the subject.
Posted by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
@Torvald

It's just that you made an assumption that he posted a link to do the arguing for him. That's all.
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
Seriously GOP? Conduct for me rejecting a video in the last round? Right after he rejected my entire argument? And not to mention that my opponent explicitly instructed voters to vote for him? Still, conduct? See, this is why I left the site to begin with. Most of the users are either irrational children/teenagers with no social lives, or are adults whose careers fell through and are bored and miserable in dead end jobs.
Posted by THE_OPINIONATOR 3 years ago
THE_OPINIONATOR
Yes me as well.
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
Oh, you as well? I thought you were talking about me. What a coincidence!
Posted by THE_OPINIONATOR 3 years ago
THE_OPINIONATOR
I see. I didn't close my account I just didn't log on for awhile.
Posted by Torvald 3 years ago
Torvald
This wasn't my first debate back, though my first to finish.
Posted by THE_OPINIONATOR 3 years ago
THE_OPINIONATOR
Not a very good topic to sart off with when coming back to debating :P
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by newbiehere 3 years ago
newbiehere
THE_OPINIONATORTorvaldTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: I felt that Pro could have argued the reproduction part better by addressing Con's argument more directly (I'm still up in the air about who won that one), but I like what Con did with the adaptation requirement, and that was really all Con had to do to win. Con had fewer noticeable mistakes as far as I could see ("Thankyou" and "weather something that is..." from Pro stuck out for me), so the spelling and grammar portion goes to Con. I felt that both were polite, so conduct is a tie. I did not check sources thoroughly, but I think that should be tied as well. Well done to both. (Edit: I realized that I agreed with Pro and still agree with Pro after the debate, so I have resubmitted my vote to reflect that even though it has no bearing on the score)
Vote Placed by GOP 3 years ago
GOP
THE_OPINIONATORTorvaldTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct point goes to Pro, as Con simply made an assumption that Pro used a video to "do the arguing" for him.
Vote Placed by utahjoker 3 years ago
utahjoker
THE_OPINIONATORTorvaldTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had some very interesting points when it came to this debate, but con was able to refute them by comparing the fetus to other living things and showed that in fact a fetus is a living thing.
Vote Placed by Skeptikitten 3 years ago
Skeptikitten
THE_OPINIONATORTorvaldTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: As a biologist, I found Con's arguments more sound than Pro's, with better sources. Pro failed to refute several points of Con's regarding whether the characteristics of "life" are inherent to the fetus or reliant completely on its parent organism.
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 3 years ago
1Historygenius
THE_OPINIONATORTorvaldTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro won decisively on reproduction and growth through metabolism. Con was unable to successfully refute Pro's arguments. There was one source or two in the debate, but it does not change my decision to make it a tie.
Vote Placed by drafterman 3 years ago
drafterman
THE_OPINIONATORTorvaldTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: The only way to win this debate would be through semantics, trolling, or some other tactic. This was an impossible debate to win straight forwardly. Updated to give conduct to Pro for Con harassing me about my vote.