The Instigator
loliver456
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
socialpinko
Con (against)
Winning
22 Points

A human fetus has personhood at conception

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
socialpinko
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/14/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,356 times Debate No: 23598
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (4)

 

loliver456

Pro

My partner and I are debating this at school and are preparing for counterarguments. Cons, please either a) argue that a fetus becomes a person at 34 weeks (our opponet's stance) or b) negate our points/find flaws in them. Thank you!

Stance: A human fetus has personhood at conception.

Personhood- the state or fact of being an individual or having human characteristics and feelings.

Reasons:
- A child can survive outside the womb before the age of 34 weeks. Though survival may require outside aid, full-term babies as well as elderly persons can require the same things, and they are still considered people.
- Many bodily functions happen before 34 weeks, including (but not limited to) a functioning nervous system, ability to move out of free will, and ability to feel pain.
- A human fetus is a genetically unique individual from the time it is concieved (the moment the sperm and egg are fully joined).
- The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 made it a crime to harm/kill a fetus in the course of other offenses, such as homicide, granting fetuses the rights of living people.
- Conception is the only instantaneous moment in which one can difinitively say that there was no life, but now there is. It is impossible for humans to identify the exact moment a baby develops a certain bodily function, or to know the exact second which conception completed. Trying to define any other moment as a beginning of life is pointless, as it simply cannot be definitively measured.

Please note that we are NOT debating abortion, though we are tiptoing around it. We are not discussing anything about women's right to choose, religion, or the like. Any such commentary is off-topic.
socialpinko

Con

As per my opponent's request I will argue in order to simply negate the points which my opponent has brought forth. I look forward to an interesting debate seeing as the personhood aspect of pregnancy in the abortion argument is one that I tend to disregard in most debates on the subject.

1-Viability. My opponent argues that a foetus is a person in that it is viable outside the womb by the age of 34 weeks. It's an interesting point, considering it is entirely in my favor. The resolution which the Pro is defending is that person-hood begins at conception. But since my opponent uses viability as a requisite for person-hood, by their own admission the foetus is not a person until it is 34 weeks old.

2-Bodily Similarity. While the ability to feel pain is a general characteristics that one would generally ascribe to persons, this point runs into a problem. If pain is a requisites to person-hood, my opponent must support that people suffering from congenital analgesia (the inability to feel pain)[1] are not really persons. However, since this seems prima facie absurd, one must accept that there are some other features which are the requisites to person-hood other than pain sensors. On free will, it is still up for debate whether or not any humans actually possess such a thing[2]. On whether a functioning nervous system is relevant to person-hood, I challenge my opponent to show why it is actually relevant in this case and what defines a functioning nervous system. Must one's nervous system be in optimal condition or are nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis or locked-in syndrome within the still functioning spectrum? The word 'functioning' in this context is all too ambiguous.

3-Genetic Uniqueness. On whether being a genetically unique individual contributes to relevant person-hood, my opponent must realize that a zygote does not possess the characteristics relevant for person-hood in the same way that a seed does not contain the characteristics relevant to a full grown tree. For instance, persons as is generally conceived are rational, conscious, etc., characteristics which a human zygote is entirely lacking. A seed cannot be said to be a tree if it lacks the necessary characteristics of a tree (possessing a trunk, branches, leaves in most cases) and so likewise, a zygote cannot be said to have the relevant characteristics of person-hood.

4-Positive vs. Natural Rights. My opponent must realize that whether or not a foetus possesses the characteristics relevant for person-hood is not something to be determined by mere government edict. In reality, all that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 showed was that a good amount of people BELIEVE that a foetus is a person. It would be an argument ad populum (a formal fallacy) to argue that mere popular opinion changes the facts of reality and could actually be a deciding factor in whether a foetus is a person.

5-Life and No Life. My opponent here argues that conception is the only rational time one can observe a moment where life actually begins. I would remind my opponent that life and person-hood are not one and the same. Dogs are clearly alive but it is not clear whether they possess the relevant characteristics necessary for person-hood. Therefore when life actually begins is irrelevant to the debate at hand. The only thing that matters is when a foetus becomes an actual person and my opponent has not upheld this resolution.

===Sources===

[1] http://www.psychologytoday.com...
Debate Round No. 1
loliver456

Pro

loliver456 forfeited this round.
socialpinko

Con

Extend arguments and refutations.
Debate Round No. 2
loliver456

Pro

loliver456 forfeited this round.
socialpinko

Con

Extend arguments and refutations. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Mrparkers 5 years ago
Mrparkers
loliver456socialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by TUF 5 years ago
TUF
loliver456socialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
loliver456socialpinkoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's first round arguments are weak and none of Con's arguments are addressed. Full forfeit.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 5 years ago
CiRrK
loliver456socialpinkoTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit