The Instigator
Fox-McCloud
Pro (for)
Winning
15 Points
The Contender
lit.wakefield
Con (against)
Losing
5 Points

Abortion Is Generally Morally Reprehensible

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
Fox-McCloud
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/26/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,297 times Debate No: 46618
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (4)

 

Fox-McCloud

Pro

Resolution
Abortion Is Generally Morally Reprehensible

In this debate I will defend the view that it is generally morally impermissible to deliberately terminate the pregnancy two weeks after the moment of fertilization; until the presence of the primitive streak one might argue that the zygote is not definitely an individual — in that period it is yet able to split into twins. In this debate I will not argue on religious grounds. In this debate I will not argue whether or not abortion is allowable in rare instances. These rare exceptions consist of spontaneous abortions ,cases of anencephaly, rape, incest and when the health or life of the woman is endangered. This debate will thus cover around 92 percent of all abortions.[1] This debate does not consider the legality or politics of abortion, but is constraint to the morality of abortion.

Definitions
Abortion: the deliberate removal (or deliberate action to cause the expulsion) of a fetus from the womb of a human female, at the request of or through the agency of the mother, so as in fact to result in the death of the fetus.[2]
Generally: in a way that is not detailed or specific; in most cases.[3]
Morally: concerning or relating to principles of right and wrong in human behavior.[4]
Reprehensible: deserving of reproof, rebuke, or censure; blameworthy, impermissible, very bad: deserving very strong criticism.[5,6]
Fetus: The unborn child, 2 weeks – birth.

Burden of proof

Pro will present the case for the pro-life position, while con present the case for the pro-choice position, in regard to abortion. The preponderance of the arguments shall point to the winner of the debate.

To potential voters I advise discretion when evaluating this debate, considering the highly biased nature of the topic.

Argumentation
Round 1: Acceptance.
Round 2: Opening arguments.
Round 3: Furthering arguments, rebuttals.
Round 4: Closing statements. No new arguments allowed.

Rules

No use of semantics. My opponent is allowed to contest any given definition in Round 1, provided that he has good reasons to do so.
A forfeit is not allowed.
All arguments and sources must be within the character limit.
Videos are not allowed.

Sources
[1] http://www.guttmacher.org...
[2] http://www.csus.edu...
[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[4] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[5] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[6] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
lit.wakefield

Con

I humbly accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Fox-McCloud

Pro

Introduction

Let me first thank my esteemed opponent for his participation in the debate. I look forward to a stirring and thought-provoking interaction.

Before we can even begin to answer the question whether abortion is wrong or not, we have to have an understanding of why the killing of innocent human adults is wrong in most cases, assuming it is wrong. In this debate I will defend the ‘Future-Like-Ours’ (FLO) argument, put forth by Donald Marquis.[6] Which, in the form of a syllogism, goes like this:

  • P1: What makes killing adults and children prima facie wrong is that it deprives us of our future of value.
  • P2: Fetuses have futures like ours.
  • C: Therefore, abortion is prima facie wrong.

Argumentation:

The future like ours theory

The act of killing is to end the life of a human, animal or plant.[7] Killing human beings is now universally considered as contrary to justice, goodness and equity. As Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence says: we hold the right to life to be self-evident and undeniable.[8]

But, simply describing it as the loss of one’s biological life is misleading, because the change in one’s biological state does not by itself make killing wrong. One might argue it is only wrong to kill any living organism that has mentation. However, we do not believe that it is seriously wrong to kill, e.g. an ant. Furthermore, this criterion does not allow much, if any, abortion, because of the early development of the brain. It may then be argued that is it only wrong to kill rational, sentient agents. This explanation too faces major problems. It would be to narrow, for it now excludes the newborn, the temporary unconscious and the mentally retarded. Moreover, we are not told much is needed and how we can measure it.

As Marquis analyzes, the best account of the wrongness of killing is the effect on the victim; the loss of all thing in life he values now or will come to value in the future.The misfortune of a premature death deprives one of all the “experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments” which would otherwise have constituted one’s future. This establishes the property, namely the infliction of this loss, what ultimately what makes killing wrong.

Applying the FLO theory to abortion

Scientifically speaking, human life begins at the moment of conception.[9] The killing of a prenatal human being is morally wrong for the same reason as postnatal human beings; it deprives the victim of a valuable future like ours. The fetus and the adult human belong to the same moral category; notto the category of personhood, but to the category of having a valuable future like ours.

The future like ours theory is an inference to the best explanation. The account generates conclusions that are consistent with our moral intuitions, avoids the personhood question; the problem of connecting morality to biological or psychological characteristics, does not necessary entail the wrongness of euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, does not derive an ought from an is, does not rely on the invalid potentiality inference and does not limit itself to biological humanity. It further best explains why we regard killing as one of the worst crimes, our attitudes of dying and unlike the personhood view it directly entails the wrongness of killing of infants and people with episodic loss of consciousness, without ad hoc reasoning.

This account provides the sufficient condition why killing is wrong. If my opponent wants to refute this argument, he has the burden to provide us with a viable alternative of the wrongness of killing, with a greater explanatory power and with a necessary condition for the wrongness of killing in order to generate a pro-choice conclusion on abortion.

Contention 1: Bodily rights are not generally sufficient to justify abortion

The mother holds natural self-ownership of her own body, thus it may be argued that, even if granted that the fetus has a right to life, it is not entitled to the body of the mother for life support. The fetus is considered an intruder, therefore the mother has no moral requirement to allow the fetus the use of her body and may therefore be evicted from the womb. Death as result is then qualified as merely an unfortunate side effect.

I will grant that sometimes death as a side effect is morally permissible. For example, when one’s life is in danger, one may use self-defense to protect oneself, where no other means available. It is also true that most women would not object were the fetus to survive. But, most of the time abortion isintentional killing. The fetus is the sole object of abortion, mostly in order to avoid the condition of pregnancy and parenthood. It is not merely withholding life support, but rather acting directly against the bodily integrity of the fetus. Indeed, the abortion only succeeds if the fetus dies.[10] A preponderance of moral considerations seems needed to justify this irrevocable intervention. Where the wish of the woman has only morally trivial or no support, abortion will be unjustified.[11]

One might thus object that a woman’s right to use her own body does not entail her right to end someone else’s life in order to do what she wants with her body. The right to life trumps the bodily right, because the loss of the life forever is a seemingly greater loss than the loss of the right to control one’s own body in one respect for nine months.[12]

Another forceful objection is the responsibility objection, maintaining that if the woman voluntarily initiates the causal chain by engaging in voluntary sexual intercourse, which leads to someone else ending up on her property, the latter one cannot be considered an aggressor. Therefore the woman has a special obligation to render support for its survival, yielding a positive right to life against the mother. [13] For example, if one accidentally nudges a bystander into the water, he has the special obligation to save the drowning person. In both cases, if X refuses to aid F, resulting in the death of F, then the act by which X caused the need for aid will be worse.[14] Abortion would be like dragging your unconscious companion onboard your plane and then, when the plane is up in the air, order him to jump out because he is trespassing on your property. [15]

According to the parental obligation objection we are naturally obligated to take care for our children, even when the pregnancy was not consciously planned. This obligation is not based strictly on biology or explicit consent, but rather on philosophical anthropology; it arises from our role as parents as members of a community. We hold it prima facie immoral for the mother to refuse to breastfeed the infant given no alternatives are available, resulting in its death. By causing the child to be, we hold the parents responsible for the child’s support. Just like the infant has the right to assistance from both the father and mother for providing child support postnatally, so does the fetus from the mother for carrying the child prenatally. Birth is morally insignificant since it is after all just a change in spatial location.[16]

Sources

[6] http://faculty.polytechnic.org...

[7] http://www.merriam-webster.com...

[8] http://www.archives.gov...

[9] http://www.westchesterinstitute.net...

[10]http://www.public.iastate.edu...

[11]http://www.jstor.org...

[12]http://books.google.nl...

[13]http://www.academia.edu...

[14] http://www.vmi.edu...

[15] http://libertarianpapers.org...

[16] https://bearspace.baylor.edu...

lit.wakefield

Con

Introduction
To preface my argument, I will provide a few initial clarifications. First of all, note that no claims of absolute morality will be involved in this debate. My opponent agrees that morality is not absolute, and based on his opening argument and comments, I do not believe that it his intention to make any arguments in favour of an absolute or objective morality.

Morality is simply an artificial human construct that is a manifestation of human desires for human interaction or behaviour. Since no qualification was given about terms such as "deserve," "impermissible," and "wrong" I will assume that what is determined to be reprehensible is in the context of humanity with regards to human action, thought, and interaction as opposed to the context of a god or supreme dictator of moral law.

Human Law
In this regard, "moral reprehensibility" can be seen as the manifestation of the human perspective on what actions are appropriate or inappropriate. Specifically, negative sanctions are evidence that an act is morally reprehensible. Formal sanctions in particular are the most clear in making these acts known. Written law is a good indicator of what isn't generally permissible and worthy of punishment due to its backing. Laws are generally set in place after great consideration to govern social interaction and maintain "civility" through well financed enforcement. As such, there is a large overlap with what is determined wrong and what is determined illegal, and in some cases, morality is even stated to be the basis of laws.

Specifically, generally accepted ideas about morality are what make it into the law (making the law a perfect source of evidence for this debate). For example, my opponent is of the position that the murder of "innocent" human adults is wrong and morally reprehensible. The fact that the murder of human adults is impermissible can be clearly seen in the written law across the world. Similarly, if abortion is generally morally reprehensible, we would expect to see this reflected in the law. I will not debate the legality of abortion in any country, but I will argue that existing laws matter for this debate.

I urge the reader to reject any qualms my opponent may have with me discussing the legality of abortion. Since written, official, enforced laws are the number one steady and generally stable determinant of what is permissible and what is met with negative sanctions, it is foolhardy to disregard the law in this situation. The laws are absolutely relevant to what is morally reprehensible, and again, any attempts to dismiss my arguments involving modern law should be themselves dismissed for this reason as an unfair tactic to try to put a dent in my best and most concrete source of defense.

Note
Thus far, my opponent has made the argument not only that it is impermissible for women to have abortions but also that those who do are deserving of severe disapproval and criticism/harassment for their choice. If anything, this stance embraces the projection of one's preferences/morality onto others to the point of taking action to treat them negatively when their behaviour is found offensive despite the absolute lack of any direct consequences or effects on the person engaging in the criticism. This seems to me to be highly undesirable, but more importantly, for the context of this debate, I will argue that it is simply not case that abortion is generally morally impermissible in the first place.

In order for me to meet my burden of proof based on the given definitions, I will only have to provide evidence that in most of or the majority of cases, the act of abortion is permissible.

Abortion Being Morally Reprehensible Does Not Reflect Reality

Prediction 1: Abortion Is Not Permitted?
If abortion was morally reprehensible, we would expect to see a total intolerance of and widespread ban of abortion (it would not be permitted). However, the opposite is true.

Abortion is legal on request in a great number of countries including China, the United States, Russia, Canada, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, India, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Vietnam, South Africa, etc. [1]. In many other countries, it is permitted in cases other than the special cases my opponent listed, such as for economic reasons (i.e. in Japan) [1].

If abortion was generally impermissible, it would not be permitted in so many countries. The combined population of China (1,360,720,000), India (1,241,060,000), the United States (317,632,000), and Russia (143,700,000) alone totals 3,063,112,000 people or about 43% of the world's population [2]. Counting the other countries where abortions are permissible in the "92%" of cases where factors such as rape are not relevant, the percentage of women in the world who are permitted to have an abortion on request is significantly higher. This fact alone dismantles my opponent's claim.

Prediction 2: It Does Not Occur Often?
Furthermore, the enforcement of the law and number of people who disobey must be taken into account. Consider the many women who receive abortions against the law in countries where it is not permitted in order to avoid harsher consequences and criticism. In these specific settings, losing one's virginity outside of a marriage is often seen as a terrible thing, and some laws go as far as to punish the action with death. Despite the illegality of abortion, it is seen as a much more desirable alternative in many cases. In Africa, where abortion is generally illegal, an estimated 6.4 million abortions were performed in 2008 [3]. Acts that are generally morally reprehensible do not take place this generally. If such an act was so generally perceived as unacceptable, impermissible, and "evil," it simply would not be occurring at this rate.

For example, consider the fact that (assuming an equal sex ratio) 6.4 million women out about 492 million women total had abortions in Africa in 2008 [4]. This is 1.3% of the women living in Africa. Compare this to the estimated robbery rate of 0.13% (133 per 100,000) in the U.S. for 2009 [5]. Of course, for different crimes and countries, the numbers will be quite different, but the deviation here is quite clear. If something was so generally seen as "wrong" and impermissible, it would not be legal in so many places, and it is highly doubtful that it would done by 1 out of every 100 people even in cases where it was illegal. Also, consider the fact that there have been somewhere around 50 million abortions performed in the United States since 1973 [6]. Just for context, remember that there were about 60 million deaths in World War 2 [7].

To mention the previous example, the claim that abortion is generally morally reprehensible is quite similar to claiming that sex outside of marriage is wrong or generally morally reprehensible even though it happens frequently without any criticism in many places across the world. It may be seen as immoral by some groups, but in no way can the subjective morality of a few be generalized for the entire world. This is what separates abortion from the killing of an "innocent" human adult. There is not a mostly universal aversion to the act of abortion; rather, anti-abortion sentiment is espoused by some who hold various strangely constructed moralities not held by most other people.

Conclusion
I feel that I have met my burden of proof for this debate. In order for my opponent to successfully rebut my arguments, he must provide substantial evidence that abortion is both generally very bad and impermissible.

[1] un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/policy/world-abortion-policies-2013.shtml
[2] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population
[3] guttmacher.org/pubs/IB_AWW-Africa.pdf
[4] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
[5] fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/violent_crime/robbery.html
[6] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_United_States
[7] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties
Debate Round No. 2
Fox-McCloud

Pro

Introduction

I want to thank my opponent for putting up such a well presented and rigorous defended case. However, I am surprised to see that he is mistaken on what the resolution asks for, thus rendering most of his points irrelevant to the debate. In this round I will give my criticisms thereby showing that his points are either fallacious or do not lead to negation of the resolution.

Rebuttal:

Shifting the goalposts

The resolution of the debate is: ‘Abortion is generally morally reprehensible’. In other words: abortion is in most cases immoral. The word ‘generally’ applies unambiguously to abortion; it is there to stipulate that abortion is referred to in a way that is ‘not detailed or specific’. In Round 1 I said that in this debate I will defend the view that it is generally morally impermissible to deliberately terminate the pregnancy two weeks after the moment of fertilization; I further specified which cases should be excluded.

Somehow my opponent misinterpreted the resolution as though it meant something like: ‘Most people in the world regard abortion as generally morally reprehensible’. He thus straw manned my position so that I would be defending the view that most people think abortion is morally impermissible, and asks of me to provide even more “substantial evidence”, but that of course makes no sense. In no way does the resolution imply that the moral majority is in favor of prohibiting abortion. Yet, most of my opponent’s case rests upon this mistaken assumption, rendering most of his claims moot. His case further rests upon some logical fallacies making it so that his premises do not lead to his conclusion.

Appeal to law fallacy [18]

Throughout his affirmative case my opponent frequently engages in an equivocation between legality with morality. He claims: “I will only have to provide evidence that in most of or the majority of cases, the act of abortion is permissible.Appeal to law fallacy is where one believes an act is either immoral or moral based on the laws or lack of laws in reference to the act. My opponent argues that abortion is moral because there is no law against it. This is like arguing that when it was illegal for a slave to escape, it was immoral for him to escape. Or like, because marijuana is illegal it is therefore immoral. Because my opponent’s argument relies on fallacious reasoning, his argument can be dismissed.

My opponent seems to subscribe to legal positivism, i.e. the controversial view that law and morality are essentially the same. Under this view there is no such thing as an unjust law, which seems rather absurd. My opponent needs to defend this proposition, instead of simply asserting it. Just because the law is this way does not mean it should be that way. And I made an excellent argument, indeed I gave actual reasons, why I think the law is mistaken on the subject of abortion. My opponent is talking about legal rights, while the resolution asks him to address moral rights. The fatal flaw in my opponent’s premise is that he does not establish that abortion is morally justified; he has given us no reason why we should think that abortion is morally permissible. My argument thus greatly outweighs my opponent’s unsupported assertion.

Argumentum ad populum [19]

My opponent argues along the line of the following when he claims that the immorality does not reflect reality:

  • P1: If most people approve of abortion then abortion is not immoral.
  • P2: Most people approve of abortion.
  • C: Therefore, abortion is not immoral.

CP1: My opponent argues abortion is not immoral simply because most other people approve of it. It is clearly fallacious to accept the approval of the majority as evidence for a claim. At one time most people approved of slavery, evidently this does not mean that slavery then was not immoral. Since my opponent offers no further support to affirm that abortion is not immoral, his reasoning is fallacious.

CP2: My opponent claims: “Anti-abortion sentiment is espoused by some who hold various strangely constructed moralities not held by most other people.” But is this actually true? If we take the USA as reference, a majority of 50% to 41% is actually pro-life! So his claim is flat-out false.[20] If we take the US to be loosely representative of global attitude, then I have shown that there absolutely is a lack of consensus and that abortion is still controversial, for a good reason I would say. As I have argued earlier, nobody has to surrender the right to life, simply because value preferences’ are allegedly not shared by the majority. Therefore, my opponent has practically conceded his loss when he claimed: ““If abortion was morally reprehensible then most people would think so.”

One possible explanation of why abortion is legal in the US is that only one in six registered voters (17%) say they will vote only for candidates for major office who share their own views on abortion.[21] Hereby I have shown that the law does not necessarily represent the moral majority on abortion. But do not blame my opponent, actually most Americans misjudge U.S. abortion views, thinking that the pro-choice position dominates.[22] Furthermore, recall that we are talking about abortion in general, so when we exclude the ‘hard’ cases we see that only a small minority of 39% is favor of complete legality of abortion and that the actual majority of 57% is in favor of only in a few circumstances![23] So, not only have I invalidated my opponent's argument, but moreover his claims are based on falsehood. Therefore his argument can be disregarded.

Appeal to Common Practice [19]

My opponent claims: “Acts that are generally morally reprehensible do not take place this generally”. His reasoning is as follows: Most people do X, therefore X is morally correct. This is a non sequitur. Analogous to abortion, if everyone stole things that did not belong to them, then it does not logically follow that stealing would be acceptable. My opponent offers no further support for his claim so it is a non-argument.

Straw man fallacy

My opponent claims that I argue that “people who have abortions or approve of abortions should be harassed”. I have no idea where he gets this idea from. In fact, I despise the radical pro-life movement that resorts to violence. We should only ‘rebuke, censure or strongly criticize’ by engaging in civil moral discourse, informed by reason. Also, nowhere did I argue for the legal prohibition of abortion, because it is irrelevant to the debate. Again, my opponent failed to show that the fetus lacks the right to life, therefore my affirming argument stands undisputed, urging a vote for the affirmative.

Conclusion

In summary then, I have argued that the fetus and normal human children and adults are morally equivalent. As we can conclude, my opponent has failed to show otherwise. Therefore if killing postnatal human beings is morally reprehensible, than so is killing fetuses. In this round I have shown that my opponent has not met his burden of proof in any reasonable way. His case relies on appeals to law, popularity and common practice rather than moral analysis. He failed to point to a moral significant difference between the fetus and mature humans. My opponent has to show that the ‘Future-Like-Ours’ theory and all my objections are invalid or unsound. Thereafter, he needs to rebuild his own case that affirms that abortion is morally permissible. Until and unless he does so, I think we can conclude that abortion is generally morally reprehensible.

Sources

[18] http://logical-critical-thinking.com...

[19] http://www.nizkor.org...;

[20] http://www.gallup.com...

[21] http://www.gallup.com...

[22] http://www.gallup.com...

[23] http://www.gallup.com...

lit.wakefield

Con

Introduction
My opponent provided no standards for morality for the context of this debate (meaning none were agreed on beforehand). He cannot then logically argue that abortion meets some subjective standards he gave in R2 because any such argument will necessarily be subjective and opinion-based. I could just as easily structure hundreds of standards for what makes something "immoral" where abortion does not qualify. Unless my opponent can provide evidence that the standard he has presented is objective, absolute, and the only possible standard for morality, it cannot be concluded based on his argument that "abortion is generally morally reprehensible," only that abortion is "immoral" based on an arbitrary standard not important to the debate.

On the other hand, I have provided an argument based specifically on the definitions given: Abortion in most cases (generally) is not impermissible or deserving of harsh criticism, reproof, etc. (reprehensible) concerning or relating to principles of right and wrong in human behavior. Instead of presenting an argument based on vague, subjective concepts, I have opted to focus on the concrete qualities of the debate topic. There is no absolute standard, but we can look at at the standards and opinions people generally hold as well as their manifestations in an evidence based manner. My argument is not that just that there is no majority who thinks that abortion should be reprehensible. I have presented evidence that in general abortion is not morally reprehensible but in fact permitted.

FLO Rebuttal
This "theory" is useless to defend my opponent's position.

"The misfortune of a premature death deprives one..."
My opponent's argument is riddled with and founded on unwarranted assertions. The claim that enjoyment is good and being deprived of experiences, projects, etc. is bad has no foundation and cannot be argued for with evidence. This is merely a subjective standard for determining if something is "wrong." My opponent's argument boils down to a single opinion. His conclusion is only correct when the opinion is assumed to be true.

Rebuttal: "Shifting the goalposts"
Unless my opponent can provide an absolute basis for his standards of morality or show that they are generally held AND practiced by most people, he has shifted goalposts to arguing for a morality based on standards not given in R1.

Morality is Subjective; Without Agreed Upon Standards, General Opinion Is What Matters
What is considered "right and wrong" is determined by humans. My opponent cannot successfully pretend to define a concept for the entirety of humanity; he cannot simply introduce standards that favour his argument now. Any arbitrary standard I could introduce would be of equal weight.

"Somehow my opponent misinterpreted the resolution. . ."
Just as words have no inherent meaning but are defined by human usage, what is generally immoral is determined by human opinion. There can be no simply "immoral" without a single absolute standard; there can only be "immoral" based on agreed upon standards/definitions (none were given for this debate) or "generally immoral" based on people's general opinions about what should be labelled as "immoral." "Reprehensible" also plays an important role, for it is not just opinions but also their physical manifestations that matter (we would expect abortion to not be permitted and be harshly condemned if it was morally reprehensible).

The law can be seen to show both (what is generally considered immoral and deserving of condemnation is in turn banned and not permitted), so I am absolutely justified in using the law as a defense. My opponent has dropped this part of my argument.

Counter: All Accused Fallacies
We are discussing morality, a matter my opponent seemingly admits is subjective. Sources such as human opinion, human practice, and human laws are absolutely relevant. I have to wonder what my opponent thinks the basis of his argument is if not opinion.

Counter: "Appeal to Law Fallacy"
This is a straw man. I specifically explained the relationship between the law and what is deemed immoral and impermissible and did not equivocate the two. My argument was that what is generally seen as morally impermissible is reflected in the law (i.e. murder). My opponent has addressed none of my arguments supporting the relationship between what is deemed morally reprehensible and what is illegal but has instead grossly misconstrued my point to say that I am arguing that the law and morality are the same. Things that are generally determined to be morally reprehensible are made illegal. At NO point did I ever state that the law determines morality. My point was just the opposite; it only reflects.

Counter: "Argumentum ad populum"
This, again, shows a misunderstanding of morality. With no agreed upon standards, whether something is generally morally reprehensible CAN ONLY be determined by the general subjective opinions of people. If my argument is to be dismissed as an appeal to popular opinion, then my opponent's argument must be necessarily dismissed as well since the only weight behind it the opinion he shares with Marquis.

"At one time most people approved of slavery . . ."
If this was the case, clearly it was not morally reprehensible by their standards. If people generally consider slavery to not be immoral, then to claim it is requires some absolute standard for what is moral.

"Therefore, my opponent has practically conceded his loss when he claimed: 'If abortion was morally reprehensible then most people would think so.'"
This misquote shows a misunderstanding of morality and my argument.

"If we take the US to be loosely representative of global attitude.."
Why in the world would we do this? I presented abortion laws from the entire world to show that abortion is frequently permitted. To offer up a few polls specific to the opinions of people from a single country is vastly insufficient, and to call 39% a small minority is laughable. My opponent must show that the opinions of the entire world are generally in tune with his and that these opinions are also reflected in regard to what is not permitted. This must be a majority clear enough for such a sweeping generalization to be considered correct. Remember, as I have described, opinions are not the only thing that matters; action taken is an important component in determining what is "morally reprehensible."

Counter: "Appeal to Common Practice"
Another straw man. If something is generally seen as impermissible, then human actions would be expected to be generally consistent with the viewpoint. This is the case for murder and most other practices that can be agreed to fit this description. It is not the case for abortion. If everyone stole, then it is highly likely that stealing would be considered an acceptable practice; neither is the case. My conclusion has nothing to do with general practice determining "moral correctness." This is just more projection of an ubsubstantiated assumption of a single absolute morality not determined by humans.

Counter: "Straw man fallacy"
Again, the irony here is that this is a straw man of my argument. Not only has my opponent put something in quotations that I never said (a repeated misleading occurence), but he has also stated that I claimed he thinks people who have or approve of abortions should be harassed. I said nothing of people who approve of abortion, and my opponent's argument here is founded on the assumption that "harassment" can only refer to physical violence and must be different from "rebuke." This is ridiculous and unimportant.

Etc.
The concept of "right to life" is not something that just exists inherently or that should just be accepted because the phrase exists. The positive, unqualified (and implicitly absolute) claim that fetuses have a "right to life" must be defended; the burden of proof is entirely on my opponent, not that it's even relevant. Whether abortion is "justified" is also absolutely irrelevant to the debate.

Debate Round No. 3
Fox-McCloud

Pro

Introduction


I want to thank lit.wakefield for this wonderful debate. It was not exactly what I was hoping for, but I certainly enjoyed it. In this last round I will defend my opening argument and address my opponent’s rebuttals and explain why they utterly fail.


Rebuttal:


On morality


My opponent claims that I did not provide a moral standard in this debate. If this claim was not so grotesque, I would rather be tempted to laugh. I have spent my entire opening putting forth a moral framework, which was thereafter entirely ignored by my opponent! To recapitulate, I started out with the unproblematic assumption that killing people is wrong. Thereafter I defended the explanation that it is wrong because it harms them R2; the misfortune of a premature death deprives them of their future of value! Because the fetus has a ‘future like ours’, killing fetuses is also wrong. If the human fetus is intrinsically something it is presumptively seriously wrong to kill, then abortion is morally reprehensible. My opponent failed to refute this argument; in fact, he did not even try it. Therefore, my conclusion is successfully upheld.


The only thing my opponent said is that my argument is invalid because it is a matter of opinion. This is deceptively tricky, as everything is in some sense a matter of opinion, because any argument starts out with an axiomatic principle. The right to life may be described as ‘natural’ and ‘absolute in the sense that reason demands its recognition if men are to live together in society, that no law can oblige a man to abandon it.[25] I regard morality as subjective in the sense that it is mind-dependent. We always have to start at a common principle which cannot be proved. I take the wrongness of harming as such an axiom. This is in principle essential to a utilitarian consequentialist theory, a well-established ethical theory.[26]


My opponent is right, I do consider myself a moral anti-realist. His demand for an “objective, absolute, and the only possible standard for morality” is simply ridiculous. The mind-dependence relation embodied in a subjectivist theory may give rise to a relation-designating account of moral truth.[27]I have the freedom to condemn everything what I regard as immoral and to convince others to adopt my view, informed by reason. The legal view, however widely held, does not invalidate my argument in defense of the resolution whatsoever. I have argued that the alleged moral majority is mistaken that there exists no difference, in the relevant moral sense, between the fetus and infant.


Those who defend the pro-choice view can argue that the fetus lacks the right to life or that the fetus does not have the right to use the body. My opponent failed to do both. Instead he assumed moral relativism, by reasserting his position when he goes on to argue that the majority decides what is morally permissible. Again he commits the same logical fallacy, but earlier I explained why this is fallacious and, though not necessary, refuted both premises.


On legality


The gist of my opponent’s argument is: “Things that are generally determined to be morally reprehensible are made illegal”. From this follows that that the law and morality are the same, i.e. he claims that what seems immoral to most people is made illegal, so there is no such thing as an unjust law, thus everything that is moral is not illegal. He may deny it all he want, but again, my opponent assumes legal positivism, committing the appeal to law fallacy! I have shown that the law can be wrong, which my opponent did not refute, and in this debate I have argued that the law is wrong on the issue of abortion. Notice that I do not argue that abortion should be outlawed.


The answer to the ethical dilemma of abortion is not at all self-evident so it takes moral argumentation, because either side lacks consensus, my opponent has utterly failed to do this. He is wrong that my BoP is that I “must show that the opinions of the entire world are generally in tune with his and that these opinions are also reflected in regard to what is not permitted”. If this was true, which it is not, then the opposite is true for my opponent, because recall that the BoP is shared. My opponent has presented evidence that in many countries abortion is legally permitted, I was aware of this. But abortion is generally illegal in most countries of the world, namely 126 to 73![28] I further gave evidence that the law does not necessarily represent the moral majority as is the case in the USA. This has gone unrefuted as well. So my opponent’s argument does not lead to negations of the resolution.


On the burden of proof


My opponent claims: “Unless my opponent can provide an absolute basis for his standards of morality or show that they are generally held AND practiced by most people...” This is really frustrating, because this is utter nonsense! As I argued earlier; both sides lack consensus, and that is exactly why I gave a moral reasons to think abortion is morally reprehensible in the nontherapeutic, non-eugenic and typical statistical (92%) context. Again my opponent commits the argumentum ad populum and appeal to common practice fallacy. His objections are moot.


Closing Statements:


Defense of the ‘Future Like Ours’ theory


In my opening I laid out my affirming case that if it is morally reprehensible to kill children and adults, than so is killing a fetus. I offered an inference to the best explanation for the wrongness of killing. This account generates the conclusion that postnatal human beings are morally equivalent to prenatal human beings, because they share the property that best explains the wrongness of killing. Having this feature is sufficient to generate the strong presumption that killing them is immoral.[6]It is no refutation of a theory to say that it is subjective and opinion based. I was looking forward to my opponent’s rebuttal, yet this was all my opponent had to say on the FLO theory. If my opponent wanted to refute this argument, he had to provide us with a viable alternative in order to generate a pro-choice conclusion on abortion. However he did or could not, thus he failed to refute the FLO theory. Therefore, I urge a vote for Pro.


Defense of Right to Life


I further explained why the fetus has a positive right to life and the right to be cared for by its parents. My opponent did not even address the responsibility and parental obligation arguments, which was highly disappointing. He claims: “The positive, unqualified (and implicitly absolute) claim that fetuses have a "right to life" must be defended; the burden of proof is entirely on my opponent”. I find this claim outrageous. My opponent entirely neglected that, in my opening, I argued in minute detail why the fetus has a right to life. Therefore, because my opponent failed to point to a moral distinction between us and the fetus, my argument is successfully defended.


Conclusion


The difference between my case and my opponent’s case is that only I actually gave moral reasons, that generated a Pro-Life conclusion, thus I find it quite ironic that my opponent repeatedly claims that I have a misunderstanding of morality, considering this.


My argument was valid, so my opponent had to show one, or both, of my premises to be false. He failed to do so. I conclude that I have met my burden of proof as my opponent has utterly failed to address, let alone refute, my initial case affirming the Pro-Life position. On the other hand I have soundly refuted my opponent’s case, showing that he relies solely on bare assertions and logical fallacies, instead of moral analysis.


I stand in firm affirmation of the resolution.


I urge a vote for Pro.


Sources


[25]http://www.jstor.org...


[26] http://plato.stanford.edu...


[27] http://plato.stanford.edu...


[28] http://worldabortionlaws.com...;

lit.wakefield

Con

On Morality
My opponent has conceded that morality is subjective. Just as words have no inherent meaning and require subjective interpretation, morality does not have one correct interpretation or set of standards. My opponent's claim is similar to claiming that one can provide a "correct" definition for "pen" and give standards that should be accepted for determining what a pen is without either showing that the word has inherent, absolute meaning or providing evidence of what the word is generally used to mean. If morality is subjective, then there is no such thing as a "correct" or "better" set of standards for what is moral, so my opponent's argument contradicts itself. My opponent admits that his standards are subjective and yet claims that they should be generally or universally applied. The only way my opponent's debate resolution can be interpreted where evidence for it (not opinion) can be presented is with regards to whether or not abortion is generally seen as "immoral" an in turn not permitted.

Since "pen" has no inherent meaning, what is generally determined to be a pen is based on the general perception of what the word refers to. It is fairly easy to determine perceived meaning for something concrete like an object. However with more abstract concepts such as love or morality, there is much greater variation in standards and definitions. Just as the term "abortion" had to be defined for a clear debate to be had, the words "right" and "wrong" would have needed to been properly qualified (for example.. wrong being defined as constituting harm towards life and then harm and life in turn being explicitly defined) for my opponent to have made a rational argument based on his presented standards. He claims that abortion is wrong because it harms a fetus. Since harm was never given as characteristic of "wrong" and was not explicitly defined, this is totally irrelevant. I could just as easily argue that whatever I choose to define as "harm" is good and moral. This of course would likely go against the popular view, but my opponent's argument seems to be that the popular view does not matter.

My opponent's claim that his argument has more weight because he has provided "moral reasons" is like claiming that one can give "romantic reasons" for why love should be defined only one way. It is utter nonsense. As I have pointed out, any number of definitions with equal weight could be given where abortion is not determined to be immoral.

"We always have to start at a common principle which cannot be proved. I take the wrongness of harming as such an axiom."
"My opponent claims that I did not provide a moral standard in this debate...I have spent my entire opening putting forth a moral framework"
This is an obvious straw man; I clearly referred to my opponent's opening proposition. We did not start with a common principle or standard of morality for this debate. There should be no assumptions made for the basis of an argument unless initially agreed upon or generally agreed upon where what is generally agreed upon is given as the standard.

My opponent's argument rests on the dishonesty of giving standards midway into the debate and simply asserting that they should be accepted.

What would have been a valid argument is if he hard argued that the same principle that makes killing an adult be considered wrong can be applied to a fetus and then provided evidence to show that most people deem murder "immoral" because it deprives people of their futures. He did not defend or make this argument.

His demand for an 'objective, absolute, and the only possible standard for morality' is simply ridiculous."
Indeed. My point is that this is not possible.

"Instead he assumed moral relativism, by reasserting his position when he goes on to argue that the majority decides what is morally permissible"
This is the same laughable straw man. What is generally considered to be permissible obviously depends on considerations of the majority. It is the fallacy of special pleading to claim that morality is somehow not just another word/concept but has meaning apart from humans. Does my opponent also deny that language and the meaning of words are determined by humans? I have not argued that the majority determine "moral truth" only that there is no such thing as "moral truth" while there is such a thing as general opinions about human construct of morality.

"...there exists no difference, in the relevant moral sense, between the fetus and infant."
The "relevant moral sense" is, again, my opponent's opinion (which he provided no support for being relevant). My opponent's argument revolves around terms and standards he has never defined that have no clear meaning to anyone besides himself.

"This is deceptively tricky, as everything is in some sense a matter of opinion"
No it isn't. If my opponent had originally presented a standard for what is wrong, he could have made an argument based on that standard that was not opinion based.

On Legality
My opponent's claim that I equivocate morality and the law is akin to claiming that because a strong desire will likely manifest itself in actions being taken that actions and desires are the same and that the actions determine desire in reverse. What is impermissible to most people is highly likely to be made illegal. Often the relationship is even stronger; consider sharia law.

My opponent again pushes for absolutism by saying that he has shown that "law can be wrong" (an unqualified, absolute statement). My point was never that the law determined morality, only that general moral opinions are reflected in the law. By his rejection of this, my opponent implies that the status of abortion laws in no way reflects how people perceive abortion with regards to "right" and "wrong." By claiming that my argument is wrong, he is necessarily claiming that there is no relationship between the law and popular moral conceptions and that what is not permitted by law has nothing to do with what is seen as impermissible.

On BoP
Indeed the BoP is shared, and I presented mine. My opponent again provided a weak rebuttal by pointing out that abortion is illegal in the majority of countries. Of course, he forgets to take into account actual population, which is actually relevant, like I did.

My opponent claimed the best explanation for the "wrongness of killing" is the fact that people are deprived of their future but did not even attempt to show that people generally consider killing wrong for this reason. I would argue that it is much more likely that there is no such conscious reason why people have an adverse reaction to killing. Had the debate gone in this direction, I would have presented biological reasons that explain the adverse reaction to murder in general much better. Furthermore, if this was the general reasoning, we would expect this to manifest itself in the real world. Killing people is generally not permitted, but this is not the case with abortion as I have shown.

Right to Life
This argument is irrelevant and invalid for reasons I have already explained. The term "right" was never defined nor was "right to life" given as something that would relate to what is morally reprehensible. All my reasons for rejecting what my opponent said about FLO apply here, so there is no need for me to address it again.

Conclusion
The difference between our arguments is that my opponent provided his personal standards for morality and I actually addressed the debate resolution to give evidence that it is not the case that abortion is morally reprehensible as defined.

I conclude that I have met my burden of proof as my opponent has utterly failed to address or refute my initial case affirming not the pro-choice position (which is entirely irrelevant to the debate) but the position that abortion is not morally reprehensible as defined. On the other hand I have soundly refuted my opponent’s case, showing that it relies solely on assertions and his own personal subjective standard.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lit.wakefield 3 years ago
lit.wakefield
@Surtr I'm glad that someone understood my argument even if you can't vote.
Posted by Surtr 3 years ago
Surtr
I'm relatively new here and found this debate decidedly interesting. I have no mobile phone and so am unable to vote, so I would like to at least say that I support Con's argument (in fact I had written to the character limit in the 'Reasons for your voting decision' box before I realized I could not vote. For what it's worth, here is my vote:
Before Debate: Tied
After Debate: Con
Better Conduct: Con
Spelling/Grammar: Con
Convincing Arguments: Con
Resources: Pro (and an impressive amount of them, too.)

Reasons for your voting decision:

I find con's case superior. Pro had a powerful case as well, but made a few assumptions I find mistaken; for instance, "Somehow my opponent misinterpreted the resolution as though it meant something like: "Most people in the world regard abortion as generally morally reprehensible"." As he stated prior to this, the object of the debate is that 'Abortion Is Generally Morally Reprehensible' and both parties agreed morality is subjective. On these terms, the only relevant means to quantify the morality of an action is by general consensus. As everyone has their own opinion, standards for what the over-arching morality is becomes wholly democratic, meaning majority and only majority rules. In other words, con did not misinterpret the resolution by any means, he addressed it directly. Second, on the "appeal to law fallacy", it should be noted that con was not justifying morality by law, but showing the general agreement of the two entities. I have reached the character limit but would love to say more.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
I'm going to vote on this debate when I get the chance, guys.
Posted by lit.wakefield 3 years ago
lit.wakefield
@invisibledeity So that you can maintain your 100% loss to win ratio?
Posted by invisibledeity 3 years ago
invisibledeity
DEBATE ME, FOX McCOWARD!!!
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
This is a good debate.
Posted by lit.wakefield 3 years ago
lit.wakefield
Since R3 was listed for rebuttals, I'll directly address your argument then. My opening remarks were related though.
Posted by Fox-McCloud 3 years ago
Fox-McCloud
lit.wakefield, can I assume that your rebuttal was incorporated in your opening remarks or are you planning to directly refute my argument in the following round?
Posted by Fox-McCloud 3 years ago
Fox-McCloud
I just noticed that I made a mistake in the counting of my sources. Evidently my Round 2 sources should be 7-17. I think this is just a minor inconvenience.
Posted by Fox-McCloud 3 years ago
Fox-McCloud
That will not be a problem. I do indeed think that morality is, ontologically speaking, subjective. There might not be an objective thruth, that however does not stop me to discuss important moral questions. What I was trying to argue in that debate is that morality depends on human opinion. I never said morality is relative and that therefore there cannot be better or worse answers to the question, quite the opposite actually. If there is objective morality, we would not have to debate anymore.

"Yes, for some it is morally reprehensible, while for others it is not." I submit this is true, unless you can provide an objective moral theory to which everyone agrees upon.

Groetjes! :)
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Hello83433 3 years ago
Hello83433
Fox-McCloudlit.wakefieldTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro used a numerous amount of sources which were highly credible, this in hand helped with his arguments while Con simply ignored most points brought forth by Pro. Conduct to Pro because Con simply disregarded several rules put forth by Pro.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
Fox-McCloudlit.wakefieldTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to Pro. He presented several arguments, which were dropped by Con. Con attempted to undermine them by positing moral relativism, but Pro won slightly in this area as well. R1: Pro took this one. He presented clear and concise arguments, whilst Con's weren't quite as clear as how they tied into the resolution. Con talked past Pro's points. R2: This one was close. About tied, since the debaters weren't talking past each other this time. R3: I think Pro took this one, since he rebutted Con's points here pretty thoroughly. I was disappointed Con dropped so many of Pro's arguments. I'm giving sources to Pro, since he used alot of different papers and reliable scholarly documents, while Con used wikipedia alot.
Vote Placed by Seeginomikata 3 years ago
Seeginomikata
Fox-McCloudlit.wakefieldTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: This debate hinged on morality. Since morality is subjective, I think the con case had much better ground in handling morality. Pro arguments rely too heavily on unsubstantiated opinion.
Vote Placed by Sojourner 3 years ago
Sojourner
Fox-McCloudlit.wakefieldTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro initiated this debate with the stipulation that, "This debate does not consider the legality or politics of abortion, but is constraint to the morality of abortion." In R2, Con wrote, "I urge the reader to reject any qualms my opponent may have with me discussing the legality of abortion. Since written, official, enforced laws are the number one steady and generally stable determinant of what is permissible and what is met with negative sanctions, it is foolhardy to disregard the law in this situation." Con should have either not accepted the terms of the debate or used another line of argumentation. Conduct to Pro. The majority of Con's argument focused on the assertion that since an act is legal and/or a large number of people agree with it, then it is moral. Pro successfully refuted the contention by stating that what is legal is not necessarily moral and that the majority of the people (at least in the US) do not view abortion as a moral act. Arguments to Pro