The Instigator
JustCallMeTarzan
Pro (for)
Winning
29 Points
The Contender
KRFournier
Con (against)
Losing
23 Points

Abortion Before a Fetus Has a Functioning Brain is Not Wrong

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
JustCallMeTarzan
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/24/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,041 times Debate No: 6601
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (9)

 

JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

The proposition on offer is that abortion before a fetus' brain is functioning is not wrong. There are at least two considerations that support this position.

First, it is commonly held that a person's personality is contained in the brain. For example, nobody seriously thinks that one somehow would retain their personality if their brain were removed or somehow wiped clean. Furthermore, if one considered a situation with two people (Jeff and Clara) and a transplant surgery that moved Jeff's brain to Clara's body, nobody seriously believes that Clara's body retains Clara's personality. Indeed, it is obvious that the situation would be that Jeff's personality has moved to Clara's body. In fact, it would be more accurate to refer to the entity that inhabits Clara's body as "Jeff" and to consider that person to BE Jeff, but simply in a different "container." Similarly, if Jeff's brain and conscious were somehow recorded into a computer where he retained communicative capabilities, we would consider the computer to be Jeff.

Thus, it becomes obvious that the contents of a person's personhood are dependent on a functioning brain. The notion that a fetus may be "part of a person" is a silly idea. One cannot be "part of a person" any more than one can be "partially legally married." One is either a person, or not a person. Since a brain is a necessary prerequisite for personhood, it must be the case that entities without functioning brains cannot be people.

Second, medical death occurs when electrical activity in the brain ceases. A corollary of this would indicate that medical life occurs when electrical activity in the brain STARTS. Thus, an entity without electrical activity in the brain is not alive.

****************************************

My opponent will no doubt make an argument that it is wrong to kill something that has the potential to be a person, or the potential to be alive. There are two simple counterarguments to this.

First, consider an advanced computer. The designers of the computer know for a fact that when they turn it on, it will be intelligent and develop a personality, just like a person. It will be conscious, self-aware, etc... It is in no way wrong to disassemble this computer before it is activated.

I cannot think of any reason why it would be wrong to disassemble a non-person that has never been a person.

Second, consider a Frankenstein-like entity on a table, constructed from the material from dead people. Supposing he could be brought to life (LIIIIVE!!!), he would be a person, self-aware, intelligent, etc... Even if it was inevitable or highly likely that he would be brought to life (suppose there is an automated process that will bring him to life in 20 mins), it would be in no way wrong to stop this process from happening, or to even disassemble this entity back into its original components.

Likewise, I can think of no reason that preventing potential life is wrong, given that the entity has never been alive.

******************************************

As one can see, my opponent will be hard pressed to show that abortion before a fetus has a functioning brain is wrong. I stand by the proposition that there is nothing wrong with abortion before a fetus has a functioning brain.

AFFIRMED.
KRFournier

Con

The issue of abortion is controversial for good reason, as it deals with conflicting human rights. There is great tension between the rights to life of the unborn child and the rights to free agency of its mother. The only way to resolve the tension is to determine whose rights take priority. If the unborn child is determined to be non-human, then the rights of the mother take priority and abortion is to be condoned. There are several approaches to this determination, but this debate focuses squarely on brain function. I ask the readers to put aside their prejudices on this issue (either way) and vote solely on the issue herein. If I can show that it is wrong to kill a fetus based on its brain function, then pro-choice proponents should vote Con. Likewise, if I fail in this regard, pro-life proponents should vote Pro.

My opponent starts by arguing that one's personhood is contained entirely within the brain. This is a conclusion drawn from presuppositions more than science. Science has certainly discovered much about the brain, but consciousness is yet to be fully explained. In fact, the human consciousness and the brain have been the subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries and neither I nor my opponent can be expected to solve the issue in a single paragraph. However, the controversial nature of the matter serves to support my first contention.

1. Brain function is inadequate in determining one's personhood.

Brain activity can be useful for many determinations, but personhood is not one of them. Modern medicine can monitor the brain to diagnose anything from abnormalities to death, but personhood is another matter. The fact that science has yet to locate the conscience in the brain should raise a red flag when it comes to choosing whether or not to forfeit one's life, regardless of whether or not they are in the womb. If my opponent wishes to use brain function to determine one's humanness, then he has the burden of providing falsifiable criteria with which to make such a determination--something science has yet to do. This is a serious problem in my opponent's position. If he cannot offer these criteria, then determining the fetus to be human is nothing more than a guess, in which case the resolution should be modified to read, "Abortion before WE GUESS a fetus has a functioning brain is not wrong."

2. Brain development is too gradual to make an effective diagnosis.

My opponent argues that there is no such thing as "part of a person," dismissing it as silly. He then goes on to argue that one is either a person or not a person as determined by brain function. This only makes sense if the fetus has zero brain activity one day and gobs of it the next--silly indeed. The nervous system develops gradually just like every other system in the fetus. If x amount of brain function constitutes personhood, does x - 1 constitute a non-person? The unborn child is a developing child, and as such, will always have more brain function than the day before. Even if my opponent manages to provide x, and show that anything below x is a non-person, he runs into another bind. He must concede that on the basis of brain activity alone, if a fetus is determined non-human within the womb then it must also be determined non-human outside of womb. To be consistent then, he must also concede that one who kills a wanted, prematurely born baby is guilty of nothing more than destruction of property.

3. Life emerging does not correlate with life departing.

My opponent argues that if "medical death occurs when electrical activity in the brain ceases," then "medical life occurs when electrical activity in the brain STARTS." This only makes sense if you accept the absurd notion that the fetus will spontaneously become a person, having no activity one day and human-worthy activity the next. Since we know that not to be true, the correlation to brain death cannot be made. It is not immoral to pull the plug on a brain dead human because his/her life is sustained only by machine. Nor is it immoral to pull the plug on someone in irreversible organ failure. The healthy fetus is neither of these. In the case of medical death, there is no expectation the patient will live. In the case of the fetus, the expectation is that it will live. Therefore, there is no moral case to be made for killing the fetus on the grounds of insufficient brain activity.

----------

Brain activity is a gradual process, so anyone would be hard pressed to make an accurate determination of personhood. Remember, we are arguing on the merit of brain activity, not the merit of size, dependence on mother, etc. A fetus is a developing person, a person-in-progress. At best, it can be determined to be sub-human (pertinent to your worldview), in which case one must show that killing a sub-human on the basis of brain activity is generally permissible. Until my opponent makes this argument, I submit that killing even a perceived sub-human is wrong.

To summarize my argument:
1. Brain function is too ambiguous a measuring stick to determine personhood.
2. Brain development is too gradual to determine exactly when a non-person becomes person.
3. Killing a fetus is not the same as pulling the plug on a patient.
4. Killing someone for being a non-person without having clear criteria on determining personhood is wrong.

Therefore, abortion before a fetus has a functioning brain is wrong.
Debate Round No. 1
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

1. Brain function is inadequate in determining one's personhood.

This is false. Lack of brain function equates to lack of personhood. Nobody seriously thinks that if my brain is removed or somehow disconnected/deactivated that I retain personhood. No brain, no personhood. Without a functioning brain, an individual cannot be either alive or a person. Consider - is an empty body with no brain at all alive OR a person? Obviously not.

2. Brain development is too gradual to make an effective diagnosis.

This may be true, but does not address the notion that at some point in time, the brain is simply not capable of supporting the human organism. Whether or not the brain can support personality is immaterial if the brain cannot support the organism itself. The diagnosis of whether or not the brain can support the organism is fairly simple.

3. Life emerging does not correlate with life departing.

My opponent states that the notion that a fetus spontaneously becomes a person is absurd. However, at some point in time between conception and birth, the fetus becomes a person. There is some point where at one moment, the fetus is NOT a person and the next moment it IS. We know for a fact that bodies without functioning brains are not people. Therefore, until the brain functions, a fetus cannot be a person. Furthermore, the fetus IS essentially an organism on life support until its brain is developed enough to take control of the functions that "life support" sustains. Nobody is suggesting killing a fetus on grounds of "insufficient brain activity," as my opponent suggests - I state that it is not immoral to kill an organism that does not have a functional brain.

******************************************

>> "At best, it can be determined to be sub-human (pertinent to your worldview), in which case one must show that killing a sub-human on the basis of brain activity is generally permissible. Until my opponent makes this argument, I submit that killing even a perceived sub-human is wrong."

By this logic, it is immoral to kill an ant. What is the difference between an insect and a human except brain capacity? Furthermore, the ant is alive when it is killed. Without a functioning brain, a fetus is not even alive in any sort of meaningful way - this is to say that plants are alive, but not in a meaningful way.

>> "1. Brain function is too ambiguous a measuring stick to determine personhood."

But not to determine life. The only determination to make rests on "Is it alive?" No functioning brain, not alive in any meaningful way. Brain activity is a prerequisite for life and personhood. HOW MUCH activity is too ambiguous. But we're talking about FUNCTIONING. No function, no life, no personhood.

>> "2. Brain development is too gradual to determine exactly when a non-person becomes person."

Again - no brain functionality, no personhood.

>> "3. Killing a fetus is not the same as pulling the plug on a patient."

Right - at one point in time, the patient was alive. The fetus has never been alive.

>> "4. Killing someone for being a non-person without having clear criteria on determining personhood is wrong."

There is a clear criteria - no brain functionality - no personhood.

******************************************************

Again - how can disassembling something that has never been alive and is not a person be wrong?
KRFournier

Con

1. Brain function is inadequate in determining one's personhood.

"This is false. Lack of brain function equates to lack of personhood. Nobody seriously thinks that if my brain is removed or somehow disconnected/deactivated that I retain personhood. No brain, no personhood. Without a functioning brain, an individual cannot be either alive or a person. Consider - is an empty body with no brain at all alive OR a person? Obviously not."

My opponent assumes the fetus has no activity whatsoever, but that is not the case. The fetus doesn't have ZERO function one second and LOTS of brain activity the next. It's not dead than--poof--alive. It develops gradually over time, starting with a tiny bit of activity and increasing from there. The fetus has some, even if just a little, brain activity, even if only to cause muscle reflexes and minor movement. Keep in mind that the resolution is discussing the fetus, not the embryo. If the fetus has more and more brain activity each day, when is there enough activity to denote human-hood?

2. Brain development is too gradual to make an effective diagnosis.

"This may be true, but does not address the notion that at some point in time, the brain is simply not capable of supporting the human organism."

This doesn't solve the problem. The brain doesn't suddenly and fully support the entire organism. It happens over time, gradually taking over more and more bodily functions. So, my opponent is still burdened to show exactly when the brain is supporting the organism enough to be considered human. If he says 'x' brain function supports the organism, then he must be prepared to explain why 'x-1' or 'x+1' wasn't the answer.

3. Life emerging does not correlate with life departing.

"There is some point where at one moment, the fetus is NOT a person and the next moment it IS. We know for a fact that bodies without functioning brains are not people."

Agreed. But asserting this doesn't give you the right the kill the fetus because you have not offered any way to identify that moment. Until then, you're killing the fetus on a hunch, in which case, why argue this resolution at all? You should have just said the we'll pretend it has no brain functions and kill it at our convenience. If you want a scientific way of qualifying the humanness of a fetus, then you must provide the necessary criteria or show that the fetus has ZERO brain activity until this magic moment.

"Furthermore, the fetus IS essentially an organism on life support until its brain is developed enough to take control of the functions that "life support" sustains."

If a patient with little to no brain activity was on life support and there was a high degree of certainty that the patient would get increasingly better and then live, killing him/her would be immoral. This is the state of the fetus. Therefore, it is not the same as pulling the plug on a brain dead human and the correlation is false. If you feel that killing the fetus in this state is moral, then knowingly killing the recovering-from-brain-death patient is also moral.

----------

"By this logic, it is immoral to kill an ant. What is the difference between an insect and a human except brain capacity? Furthermore, the ant is alive when it is killed. Without a functioning brain, a fetus is not even alive in any sort of meaningful way - this is to say that plants are alive, but not in a meaningful way."

I submitted that killing a PERCEIVED sub-human is wrong--that is, a human deemed to be less than human. Such thinking can easily lead to genocide and violates all widely accepted standards of human rights. By sub-human, I was not referring to insects and plants, which are not sub-humans but non-humans. So, the fetus, if it is a sub-human, still has basic human rights. Only if it is determined to be non-human can it's human rights be completely obliterated.

1. Brain function is too ambiguous a measuring stick to determine personhood.

"But not to determine life. The only determination to make rests on "Is it alive?" No functioning brain, not alive in any meaningful way. Brain activity is a prerequisite for life and personhood. HOW MUCH activity is too ambiguous. But we're talking about FUNCTIONING. No function, no life, no personhood."

My opponent's logic is based on the assumption that there is ZERO brain activity, but fails to recognize or even refute my claims that there is some activity, even if just a little.

2. Brain development is too gradual to determine exactly when a non-person becomes person.

"Again - no brain functionality, no personhood."

Again, we are discussing the fetus, which has brain activity. Therefore, by my opponent's logic, the resolution is negated.

3. Killing a fetus is not the same as pulling the plug on a patient.

"Right - at one point in time, the patient was alive. The fetus has never been alive."

Alive or is a person? My opponent just said that plants and ants are alive, just not considered human. The fetus is alive as it is a living organism. The issue here is personhood, not life-ness. My opponent's statement does nothing to refute this contention.

4. Killing someone for being a non-person without having clear criteria on determining personhood is wrong.

"There is a clear criteria - no brain functionality - no personhood."

But the fetus has brain functionality, so my opponent must define how much. If zero is the only criteria, then he loses the debate.

----------

My opponent is under the delusion that the fetus has no brain activity until a specific moment in time, at which point it bursts into humanhood. I contend the fetus develops gradually, starting with a tiny amount of neural activity and ending with a massive amount of brain activity, which continues to develop into the person's early adult years. Since the process is gradual, my opponent must tell us when that magic tissue-to-human moment occurs. If he insists that it begins with even the slightest brain activity, then he loses the debate.

The core of my argument is that the development of the unborn child is a process. If an adult was undergoing a similar process in which we KNEW the outcome was survival, killing him/her would be immoral. And so it goes with the fetus. It has brain activity, which makes it a human-in-progress. Ergo, aborting the fetus is wrong.
Debate Round No. 2
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

1. Brain function is inadequate in determining one's personhood.

What is at stake here is determining one's personhood, not showing how much brain activity is present. We know for a fact that without a functioning brain, there is no capability for personhood. Thus, the only consideration is whether or not the fetus has a functioning brain. Some parts of the brain do not develop until the 7th gestational month. This would include the Medulla and Pons, to say nothing of the Forebrain, where much of the actual higher processing takes place (http://brainmind.com...).

How can one be a person without a developed medulla, pons, or forebrain?

2. Brain development is too gradual to make an effective diagnosis.

Simply because there is a little grey area in the concept does not indicate that it would be a poor system. We have technology to measure brainwaves separate from simple electrical pulses. It would be trivially easy to detect which fetuses have actual brainwave patterns and which are just mimicking a pacemaker. Again, at some point in time there is a point where the fetus becomes a viable organism - where the brain is capable of supporting the entire organism. This is medically recognized as the point in time where the fetus can be removed from the mother and survive.

3. Life emerging does not correlate with life departing.

My opponent asserts that we are killing the fetus on a hunch after admitting that bodies without functioning brains are not people. He somehow pretends that brain activity the merely keeps the organism alive is sufficient to support personhood. If the necessary equipment for keeping an organism alive supports personhood, then it would be immoral to unplug a life support machine. Until the brain can support a person, it is just a fancy pacemaker.

Again, my opponent makes the disanalogy between a patient on life support and a fetus... Consider a timeline...

Meaningfully Alive---------------Brain Dead---Life Support--------------Known To Be Never Normal Again------- X -------
Meaningfully Alive---------------Brain Dead---Life Support------ X -----Known To Be Normal Later-----------------------------
Not Meaningfully Alive------------ X -----------Life Support-------------Birth

In each of these timelines, X represents the place where the organism was killed. The first is moral, the second immoral, and the third carries no moral import, as the organism isn't alive.

********************************

>> "So, the fetus, if it is a sub-human, still has basic human rights."

Sub-humans wouldn't have sub-human rights? Animals are sub-humans - do they have human rights?

>> "Only if it is determined to be non-human can it's human rights be completely obliterated."

Human would be a member of the homo sapien species and ALIVE. Homo Sapiens without functioning brains are not alive. For part of gestation, a fetus has no functioning brain. Ergo it is not ALIVE. Ergo it is not human.

>> "My opponent's logic is based on the assumption that there is ZERO brain activity, but fails to recognize or even refute my claims that there is some activity, even if just a little."

Incorrect - my argument is based on the fact that without sufficient brain development, a fetus cannot be alive in any sort of meaningful way because it does not have a functional brain. There can be activity to perform background tasks, but this does NOT indicate that the brain is capable of supporting a person. Furthermore, there are periods of time early in gestation where the brain cannot even to THAT.

>> "Again, we are discussing the fetus, which has brain activity. Therefore, by my opponent's logic, the resolution is negated."

Incorrect - brain ACTIVITY and brain FUNCTIONALITY are totally different. If you take the processor out of my computer and boot it up, there is activity, but no functionality.

>> "Alive or is a person? My opponent just said that plants and ants are alive, just not considered human. The fetus is alive as it is a living organism. The issue here is personhood, not life-ness. My opponent's statement does nothing to refute this contention."

Incorrect - A functioning brain is a prerequisite for meaningful life and personhood. Plants and ants do not have meaningful life.

>> "But the fetus has brain functionality, so my opponent must define how much. If zero is the only criteria, then he loses the debate."

I have said several times that this could be considered the threshold of viability. A nonfunctional brain will yield a non-viable organism. This would differ on a per-case basis, but still be determinable by medical science.

>> "My opponent is under the delusion that the fetus has no brain activity until a specific moment in time, at which point it bursts into humanhood."

Incorrect - I have addressed this several times. The process may be gradual, but if it is not STARTED, there is no need to consider degrees of activity at all. Furthermore, it is analogous to considering how many degrees past boiling you heat your coffee. If the coffee is not boiling yet, further consideration is pointless.

>> "If an adult was undergoing a similar process in which we KNEW the outcome was survival, killing him/her would be immoral."

ONLY because the adult was alive BEFORE the "similar process" - a fetus has never been alive without a functional brain. My opponent's point here rests on the delusion that an organism without a functional brain is alive in a meaningful way.

>> "It has brain activity, which makes it a human-in-progress. Ergo, aborting the fetus is wrong."

Yet again - activity and functionality are completely different. A computer with no processor is active, but not functional.

**********************************

Yet again, I put forth the question: How can disassembling something that has never been alive and is not a person be wrong?

A functioning brain is a REQUIREMENT for:

1) Life with moral import
2) Personhood
3) Viability of the organism

A functioning brain would be one that supports the organism - i.e. makes it viable.

Without a functioning brain, a fetus cannot be alive with any sort of moral import, a person, OR a viable organism.

Ergo, killing a fetus without a functioning brain cannot be wrong.

AFFIRMED.
KRFournier

Con

1. Brain function is inadequate in determining one's personhood.

"How can one be a person without a developed medulla, pons, or forebrain?"

Now we are getting closer. For two rounds I asked my opponent to provide clear criteria as to what kind of brain development constitutes personhood. We now have better criteria than the function/no-function criteria, but there is still a hole. We still have the problem of gradual development, which I will tackle in the next contention.

2. Brain development is too gradual to make an effective diagnosis.

"Again, at some point in time there is a point where the fetus becomes a viable organism - where the brain is capable of supporting the entire organism. This is medically recognized as the point in time where the fetus can be removed from the mother and survive."

My opponent seems to agree with the gradual development of the fetus and is now offering a criteria: the brain must completely support the organism. However, there is still this troubling notion of a "magic moment," this time in which the fetus is dead tissue one nanosecond and a life the next. The brain takes on more and more function, gradually, until it controls everything. Why is it wrong to kill a baby whose brain supports 100% of the body and okay to kill a baby whose brain supports 99.99% of the body? By this logic, an adult with 99.99% brain function is not "meaningfully alive" and can be killed without moral consequence.

3. Life emerging does not correlate with life departing.

"He somehow pretends that brain activity the merely keeps the organism alive is sufficient to support personhood."

My opponent is putting words in my mouth. My contention is that pulling the plug on a brain dead adult patient with no self-sustaining brain activity does not correlate with aborting a fetus in a similar state because the fetus will grow to sustain it's own life if left on that life support.

"Again, my opponent makes the disanalogy between a patient on life support and a fetus... Consider a timeline..."
"Meaningfully Alive----------Brain Dead---Life Support----------Known To Be Never Normal Again----- X -----"
"Meaningfully Alive----------Brain Dead---Life Support----- X -----Known To Be Normal Later----------"
"Not Meaningfully Alive----- X -----Life Support----------Birth"

I must object to the term "Meaningfully Alive" as it begs the question. My opponent must win the debate before he can state when the fetus is Meaningfully Alive, which I assume means one's right to life.

I submit alternative (and more logically consistent) timelines:

1. Person----------Brain Dead/Life Support----- X -----Person----------
2. Person----------Brain Dead/Life Support----- X -----Not a Person
3. Brain Dead/Life Support----- X -----Person----------
4. Brain Dead/Life Support----- X -----Not a Person

The fetus is in a very similar state as the brain dead patient (by my opponent's logic I might add). The only difference is that it was not previously a person when it entered into the life support state. Timelines 1 and 3 are immoral for the same reason, that the "patient" will be person. If option 3 can be considered moral, then so must option 1. Options 2 and 4 are moral if and only if the "Not a Person" outcome is reasonably certain.

********************************

"Sub-humans wouldn't have sub-human rights? Animals are sub-humans - do they have human rights?"

Semantics. Sub-humans are human beings considered less worthy than other human beings. Animals are non-humans and do not have human rights. We are arguing definitions here instead of the debate.

"Human would be a member of the homo sapien species and ALIVE. Homo Sapiens without functioning brains are not alive. For part of gestation, a fetus has no functioning brain. Ergo it is not ALIVE. Ergo it is not human."

Plants are ALIVE. Being ALIVE is not at issue, being a person with inalienable rights is. My opponent argues against personhood one second and this notion of being "alive" the next. The scientific definition of life includes an entity having most or all of the properties: homeostasis, multi-cellular, metabolic, growth, adaptation, responds to stimulus, reproductive. (http://en.wikipedia.org...) The fetus qualifies as alive.

"Incorrect - brain ACTIVITY and brain FUNCTIONALITY are totally different. If you take the processor out of my computer and boot it up, there is activity, but no functionality."

This does not help my opponent's case. We have equipement to measure activity in the womb, but not functionality. At best, we have scientific knowledge of how functionality increases based on how much of the brain is developed. But we still have the problem of identifying that magic moment in which the fetus becomes a person. If my opponent cannot specify how to scientifically identify that moment, he has no case.

"Incorrect - A functioning brain is a prerequisite for meaningful life and personhood. Plants and ants do not have meaningful life."

There's that term "Meaningful life" again: circular reasoning.

"I have said several times that this [zero brain functionality] could be considered the threshold of viability. A nonfunctional brain will yield a non-viable organism. This would differ on a per-case basis, but still be determinable by medical science."

If this is the criteria, then my opponent at best can justify killing the embryo, but even the fetus has very minimal brain function, even if only a few firing neurons. He must choose between zero function and X function, and he bounces to and fro, thereby weakening his case.

"The process may be gradual, but if it is not STARTED, there is no need to consider degrees of activity at all. Furthermore, it is analogous to considering how many degrees past boiling you heat your coffee. If the coffee is not boiling yet, further consideration is pointless."

Now my opponent compares the fetus to a pot of boiling coffee. This is question begging. He already assumes the fetus has no value, yet that is the issue at debate.

"My opponent's point here rests on the delusion that an organism without a functional brain is alive in a meaningful way."

No, my point rests on the knowledge that the organism is becoming more of a person each day. It's my opponent that is under the delusion that a magic non-person-to-person moment occurs.

"Yet again - activity and functionality are completely different. A computer with no processor is active, but not functional."

The computer analogy is erroneous. A computer doesn't GROW a processor. If it did, would a computer be functional even if it's only instruction was "increment a value?" If not, how many instructions become necessary? 10? 100? My opponents case rests entirely on ambiguity.

**********************************

My opponent struggles to make his case in any direct way. He uses ambiguous terminology and criteria. In the end, his motive is clear: the fetus is a non-human because he thinks it to be so. He wants to justify killing tissue rather than a person, even though killing an adult patient in similar circumstances is abhorrent. If he truly wants to abort on the basis of brain function, his criteria must be clear, rigid, and agreed upon consensus. He cannot do this. It's zero activity one moment and partial activity the next. It's alive like a plant one moment, then not "meaningfully alive" the next.

I have shown that, on the basis of brain function alone, revoking the fetus' right to life is not morally justified. There may very well be other avenues to explore, but they are not in question in this debate. My opponent was burdened to show this case alone, and he cannot do so consistently. I have cast sufficient doubt on his assertions and his resolution, which is my task in this debate. Therefore, I urge the readers to do the right thing and vote Con.

I thank my opponent for this rigorous dialog on such a sensitive but importan
Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Lifeisgood 7 years ago
Lifeisgood
Con could have won this one. He had a few good arguments; Pro was starting to get backed up into a corner.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> "Tarzan, Could I possibly have been unclear? ... "

I think we might be splitting hairs... I agree with what you said following this... I think much of my argumentation reflects your post...

>> "So if I ignore the "when" factor...and someone was able or had the authority to declare it a non-functioning brain...than I support the pro."

If medical science is unable to make a determination, it can certainly shrink the "gray area." However, in such a gray area, "ties would go to the defender," so to speak. In other words, in a case where the answer to brain function is "we don't know with a high degree of certainty," abortion would be prohibited. Consider that it sounds a little morally suspect to say "I'm not reasonably certain, but I might have just killed a person."

>> "Does this put defective, damaged, or slow growth brains at a disadvantage?"

Not really... I think the only consideration here is that it would be more likely that these sort of babies were to be aborted, as the time threshold for abortion would be later. However, this doesn't indicate they are at a disadvantage by virtue of their abortability - the disadvantage already rests in the developmental abnormalities... I think that makes sense... we could debate the topic if you wish.
Posted by NearSight3d 8 years ago
NearSight3d
"Consider if you are building a computer"

Thats just my point...all of the analogies are based on situations where "we" have control.

But the resolved says "before...functioning brain." This reference takes the debate down to the "boarder line" arguments.

So if I ignore the "when" factor...and someone was able or had the authority to declare it a non-functioning brain...than I support the pro.

Does this put defective, damaged, or slow growth brains at a disadvantage? Did what I just said make any sense?

Cuz if so...thats jacked man... = d
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Tarzan, Could I possibly have been unclear? ... That's never happened before[!] The fallacy is Con's supposing that because there is time when it is isn't obvious whether the brain is active or inactive, that that means that no case is clear at all. The general fallacy is to point to a borderline case between A and B and then claim that because the borderline case exists, we really don't know the difference between A and B. We do in fact know the difference. In abortion, the embryo has no nerve cells, so it then no nerve activity. Moreover, as in many things, borderline cases are resolved because they must be resolved, even if the resolution is arguable.
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
It's rather amusing since I don't really know why I'd be a target. I don't maintain quite as high a profile as others on this site. Must have said something in a comment's section somewhere...
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> "Props to both...Pretty close debate in my opinon, don't see why KRF is losing by that much."

Much thanks - there are idiots on this site who don't like KRF, so they use multiple accounts to vote bomb him.
Posted by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
>> "However, picture the foolishness of having to be the person that determines the "point where at one moment, the fetus is NOT a person and the next moment it IS"."

Regardless of how foolish the notion may seem, the moment exists. Consider if you are building a computer. At what moment does the computer become a computer and not a mass of parts? Or building a car - when is it a car and not a mass of parts? When it is done? When it runs? Both can run without being fully complete.

So can a fetus. But there IS a moment where it is inviable one moment and viable the next.

Furthermore, I already addressed this notion both in the debate and in the comment section with my reference to Roy's ocean example, and my argumentation concerning the fact that one need not consider the nebulous gray area when it is clear we are not in that area.
Posted by NearSight3d 8 years ago
NearSight3d
Props to both...Pretty close debate in my opinon, don't see why KRF is losing by that much.

For me, the "pro" argument is a little too black and white. Tarzan even incorporates "on" and off, also saying there is an exact moment in which the fetus becomes a living being.

I don't know, I'm not very good at debate....so analyzing one seems like a stretch. However, picture the foolishness of having to be the person that determines the "point where at one moment, the fetus is NOT a person and the next moment it IS". (Pro Quote)

Doctor: " Ok...ready...the fetus is alive right about...NOW, NO WAIT...NOW!"

I dont think that it's that easy...
Posted by askbob 8 years ago
askbob
Askbob/Scissorhands7 as a cleaner -

Who I agreed with before and after the debate is rather meaningless.

Who had better conduct? Both of you, So I award points to each of you (tie) you guys had an excellent, respectful debate. You guys make me proud to be on this site. An excellent example of conduct, and props to both of you.

On the whole spelling grammar thing, I usually go by who's grammar/wording was more intricate/interesting. Now this can be a little biased, but I try to judge it as fairly as possible. I honestly believe KRFournier had more intricate vocabulary, and his wording was excellent. Not to take away from Tarzan, he had great grammar, I just think KRFournier's was just a little bit better.

Convincing Arguments:

Well here we go, after reading it all you both had excellent points, however KRFournier's was better thought out, to further this, Tarzan didn't have a clear enough resolution to argue with. So my vote here goes to KRFournier.

Tip to Tarzan, next time in your resolution have a very clear resolution sentence, make sure to accurately define all your terms, and also define your criteria for ethics, etc. By doing so you'll get what you want out of debates and make it harder for an opponent to disprove you, or argue around you. KRFournier did a good job of showing how little criteria there was to your resolution. So that's my advice for next time.

On sources, this wasn't really a source debate. This was more logic based. So you both had good logic so you're both tied on this.

So really when it comes down to it, KRFournier won on the convincing part, and just a tiny bit on the grammar due to his vocab. It was a good one to read, and I look forward to seeing more of you guy's debates in the future!

CLEANERS REVIVED - Join NOW.

See Debate forum, Cleaners revived thread :)
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
This is the second debate in which I've been hit by 100+ votes in just a few minutes. The other debate (http://www.debate.org...) is one in which my opponent forfeited every round. Someone here doesn't like me.

I guess I can take comfort in the fact that people will desire to debate on the virtue that they can guarantee a win. Who says you can't buy friends!
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 8 years ago
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