The Instigator
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
wiploc
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Abortion is Generally Immoral.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
wiploc
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/23/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,080 times Debate No: 21426
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (30)
Votes (7)

 

KeytarHero

Pro

I would like to thank Wiploc in advance for accepting my challenge.

I will go ahead and lead off with my argument.

I will put my argument in the form of a syllogism and then support my premises with evidence.

Premise 1: From fertilization, the preborn are biological members of humanity.
Premise 2: All members of humanity are intrinsically valuable based on the kind of thing they are, humans.
Premise 3: It is prima facie wrong to kill an innocent human being.
Premise 4: Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is generally immoral.

Premise 1

Embryologists, who are the experts in the field, consistently agree that life begins at fertilization. For example, from the most-used textbook on embryology, the authors note: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." [1]

On top of that, the more sophisticated pro-choice philosophers, like Judith Jarvis Thompson (who came up with the famous analogy of the violinist), and Peter Singer, accept the full humanity of the preborn. Peter Singer has noted, “It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” [2]

It's simply common sense. We know the preborn are alive because they grow. Non-living and dead things don't grow. They also exhibit the four signs of life: metabolism, growth, cell division, response to stimuli, and cell reproduction. [3] The preborn have human DNA, and they are the product of human parents. Creatures reproduce after their own kind; dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. At no point in human development is a member of humanity a "non-human."

This is also different from saying that a hair follicle has human DNA, so it is wrong to pluck them out. Zygotes/embryos/fetuses are unique individual humans, developing from within, made up of all the individual parts. A hair follicle must stay plugged in to the parent organism to function. However, the parent organism can still function even if he/she loses parts of their body. The zygote/embryo/fetus is a full human organism made up of individual parts of which it develops from within, not constructed like a car.

The pro-life position is that life begins at fertilization, which is supported by science. The pro-choice position places "human life" at certain arbitrary points which change from human to human. The pro-life position is the only consistent one.

Premise 2

Human value is an intrinsic value, not an instrumental one. Most people agree that humans outside the womb are valuable and should be protected. People decry the loss of innocent human life, especially when those lives lost are children. Human value is not something we get in degrees, it's something we either have or don't have. A pre-born human is just as valuable as a born human, and any reason used to rationalize abortion due to the preborn human being "different" leads to discrimination and would allow us to discriminate against someone outside the womb who fits those same characteristics.

Premise 3

When I say the preborn are innocent human beings, I am not talking "spiritually" innocent, but physically innocent. They have committed no crime, and certainly not anything worthy of being killed for it. The only thing they have done is exist, and in the vast majority of cases it was through a consensual action of two people. If two people engage in a consensual act that results in the creation of a new, needy human life, they bear a responsibility to care for that life.

Premise 4

Every abortion takes the life of a new, unique, living member of humanity, which has an intrinsic value just based on being human. Abortions take the life of an innocent, unique human being and is therefore immoral.

My contention is that because the preborn are biological members of humanity, and killing an innocent member of humanity is wrong. If Con is to win this debate, he must show why the preborn are not members of humanity. For if they are not human, then no justification for abortion is necessary. But if they are human, then not justification for abortion is sufficient.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to Con's response.

[1] Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.
[2] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 85-86.
[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com.........;
wiploc

Con

Thanks for this debate, KaytarHero. And thanks for being a lucid and thoughtful opponent. I'm grateful for your refreshing clarity.

Pro argues thusly:

Premise 1: From fertilization, the preborn are biological members of humanity.
Premise 2: All members of humanity are intrinsically valuable based on the kind of thing they are, humans.
Premise 3: It is prima facie wrong to kill an innocent human being.
Premise 4: Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is generally immoral.

The 1st and 4th premises are not "truth apt." That is, they are neither true nor false, being rather expressions of attitude.

Pro can think of zygotes as human beings, and I can think of them as proto-humans or reproductive organs. Neither of us is more right or wrong than someone who prefers tacos over hamburgers.

Sometimes, however, classifications can be good without being true. Pontoon planes are classed as boats by the harbormaster but as planes by the air traffic controller. These classifications are beneficial even if not true.

Is there benefit to classing zygotes as human beings? The benefit is that some people in tyrannical churches enjoy flaunting their strength in society: "Look at these muscles! I can make you have babies whether you want to or not." But that benefit is trivial beside the resulting harm, the forcing of innocent citizens into unwanted parenthood.

So, Pro's proposed classification is neither good nor true.

Premises 1 and 4, then, are untrue and bad. We would do harm if we treated them as true, harm to actual people (as opposed to mere zygotes, which, though they are every bit as human as sperm cells and hair follicles, cannot suffer).


Premise 2: All members of humanity are intrinsically valuable based on the kind of thing they are, humans.

Two problems: First, "intrinsic value" is a linguistic impossibility. Value requires a valuer. To call something intrinsically valuable is to say it is valuable even if not valuable to anyone. It is saying something is good, even if it is not good for anything.

Premise 2's second problem is that it fetishizes humanity rather than making reasonable distinctions, rather than looking for actual values.

We don't value people because they are "members of humanity." Consider space aliens (Enemy Mine, Cocoon, Avatar, ET, Star Trek), super-intelligent animals (101 Dalmatians, A Boy and His Dog, Watchers, The Golden Compass, Tangled, Babe), and artificial intelligences (2001, Terminator 2, Transformers, D.A.R.Y.L., Star Trek, Small Soldiers). If we aren't fetishizing humanity, we'll recognize that these nonhumans would have the joys, fears, hopes, anticipations, social interactions, etcetera that would make us value them the same as we would humans.

There is nothing wrong with killing a zygote or a brain-dead body. No harm done, even though they are human. But there is something wrong with hurting a puppy, even though it is not human.

Therefore, premise 2's bright line test, "Is it a member of humanity," is perverse: It protects things that don't need or benefit from protection, and it hurts things (actual people, who need the freedom to make their own reproductive choices) who do need protection.

Premise 3:It is prima facie wrong to kill an innocent human being.

Killing people causes fear and grief; it makes people unhappy. That's why it's wrong. That's what's wrong with it. That's why we have a moral rule against it. So long as "human beings" refers to people, then you can say it is prima facie wrong to kill them.

But, if you class non-persons (cabbages, say, or zygotes) as "human beings," then there is no longer a presumption that it is wrong to kill human beings.

So, given Pro's definition of "human being," premise 3 is neither true nor useful. Rather, it is false and destructive. Taking this premise as true would be immoral: Victims of this new rule would be forced into unwanted parenthood. Terrible suffering. No benefit.

Premise 3, then, if we accept Pro's definition of "human being," is false and bad.


Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is generally immoral.

There is nothing apparently wrong with abortion. People who want babies should have them, and people who don't want them shouldn't. Forcing either group to do the thing they don't want would be immensely harmful.

On its face, then, Pro's conclusion seems false, harmful, immoral.

Looking at Pro's argument, we see that his conclusion is also unsupported.

Pro has four premises, each of which must be true in order for his conclusion to follow. But not one of them is true. Two of them aren't truth apt (they express opinion or attitude, rather than facts). The other two are just false.

And all of them are bad: to the extent that they are believed, they harm actual people (not cabbages or zygotes).

In a free country, you wouldn't have to have babies if you didn't want to. Nobody would get to say, "Hey, I have religion, so I can make you have babies whether you want to or not!"


Conclusion:

Pro has the burden of proof. He undertook to establish that abortion is generally immoral. He offered a single argument for that purpose, and that argument fails because its premises do not withstand inspection.

Not only has the argument failed, but the conclusion of the argument seems false on its face. We shouldn't want to force people to have babies any more than we should force them to eat Brussels sprouts. In a free country, citizens get to choose.

There is nothing wrong with having babies, and there is nothing wrong with not having babies. Nobody should be forced or pressured either way. Even teaching that there is something bad or immoral about abortion is improper. It causes suffering without doing good.

We have been given no reason to believe that abortion is generally immoral.

Vote Con.


Notes:

  • "Embryologists, who are the experts in the field, consistently agree that life begins at fertilization." This is a gross misrepresentation. You won't find an embryologist anywhere who thinks that dead sperm and eggs produce live zygotes.

  • "Zygotes": A zygote is a fertilized egg, not necessarily yet attached to the womb. I talk about zygotes even though I intend my argument to apply to ebrios and fetuses too, just as Pro talks about the "preborn" even though some zygotes will never be born, and even though "preborn" could equally well apply to sperm cells. Pro has the burden of proof. He specifically undertook to prove the immorality of abortion from the time of conception on. This includes zygotes. All of my arguments apply to embryos and fetuses as well, but it is simplest to pick one word and stick with it. Anti-abortion people tend to use "fetus," and pro-abortion people ought, for similar tactical reasons, to prefer "zygote."

  • "We know the preborn are alive ..." Certainly, even as we know that preborn sperm cells are alive, and even as we know that cancer cells are alive.

Debate Round No. 1
KeytarHero

Pro

I would like to thank Wiploc for taking me up on this debate and finally offering a debate giving a critique of my argument.

Con say that my first and fourth premises are not "truth apt," but I will argue that they are.

First of all, even if we couldn't prove that we were killing human life, the benefit of the doubt should still go to life. If a hunter hears a rustling in the bushes, he won't immediately fire because it could be a human and not a deer. He'll make sure he's not going to shoot a human before pulling the trigger.

Secondly, I think that Con is confusing objective truths with subjective truths. Preferring tacos over hamburgers is subjective. It is an opinion. One is neither more true than the other because they both speak to personal preference. However, saying the preborn are living human beings is an objective reality. It is either true for all of them or it is false for all of them. It is not mere preference but a scientific and philosophical fact. I have even shown that the experts in the field, the embryologists, support the life and humanity of the preborn.

Additionally, Con has created a strawman argument against me. I have not argued from religion. I have kept my argument purely secular, using science and philosophy to prove my case. It may be true that churches have used their position to take advantage of people in this past, this does not prove religion to be false and it does not prove the pro-life position wrong. It just proves there are horrible people who use religion to control others.

The benefit in classifying zygotes as human beings is not only is it scientifically true, but if abortions were stopped (or at least made much more rare), then we would stop killing the youngest members of our species.

So again, my proposition is true, irrelevant of whether it is good. However, it is still good because in the vast majority of cases a zygote is created through a consensual act by two people. They perform an act which creates a naturally needy child, so they bear a responsibility to care for that child. Creating a human only to kill it is both irresponsible and barbaric.

Here, also, Con is guilty of equivocating. He uses "human" to mean two different things when he talks about zygotes and sperm or hair follicles. Sperm and hair follicles are parts of humans, but zygotes (and embryos, fetuses, newborns, adolescents, teenagers, etc.) are full human beings, developing themselves from within. They are growing, living human entities. Con is confusing parts with wholes.

Premise 2

I'm not entirely sure what Con means by intrinsic value being a linguistic impossibility. Intrinsic value is a well-known philosophical ideal. For example, happiness is intrinsically valuable because it is valuable in and of itself. Money is instrumentally valuable because it is the means to an end. Money is not valuable, unless we ascribe a value to it and then it can lead us to something intrinsically valuable, like happiness.

A family may have instrumental value because people use those to attain happiness whereas another person may not find value in having a family. However, humans are intrinsically valuable because they have value regardless of whether anyone else values them. Take a homeless person. Homeless people often do not have families, and no one values them because they are seen as "leeches," who give nothing back to society. However, it would be equally wrong to kill a homeless person as it would be to kill Con or myself without just cause. We may have different instrumental values to society, but we both have the same intrinsic value.

If it were shown that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, I would still believe them to have the same intrinsic value as humanity. This does not show that my judge of value is incorrect, just that I would have to give consideration to other forms of intelligent life like I do with humans. I would afford Mr. Spock (a Vulcan) the same value and right to life as I would a human being because he belongs to a species like humans, a sentient species. And I would consider it just as wrong to abort a Vulcan child as I would to abort a human child.

When it comes to super-intelligent animals or artificial intelligences, I really believe those to be more fantasy than reality (I'm dubious as to whether a robot or android could ever really attain sentience), but even if they did, it would be taken on a case-by-case basis. If they were shown to be like humans, then I believe they would deserve the same protection as humans.

Now, I should state that no zygote is ever killed through surgical abortion. The preborn is always in the embryonic state when a surgical abortion happens. So constantly referring to the zygote seems irrelevant to me because we don't kill zygotes. However, they are still human and deserving of the protection of life, even if we were killing them outright.

Additionally, killing a preborn child is much different from killing a braindead patient. The braindead patient is not the person he once was. The braindead patient is essentially dead, their body is just being kept alive. But everything they were, the person they were, is gone and will not be coming back. This is different from a zygote which is on the natural path of human development. They may not have a personality or sentience yet, but they have an inherent capacity for sentience which they will develop. The braindead patient has no future whereas the zygote does.

Therefore, Con's critique of my second premise fails. Zygotes do benefit from protection because then they can grow into productive members of society and live. Life is always beneficial, even in a comatose patient who has a good chance of coming out of his coma. It would be wrong to just give up on Coma Guy because he has a good chance of coming out of his coma and living.

The right to life always trumps other rights. We don't have the right to kill people just because they're inconvenient for us to have around. Abortion is not about reproductive choice. Reproductive choice would be choosing not to have sex with your partner because you can't afford a child right now.

Premise 3

I really feel like Con's argument here is a non sequitur. Classing the preborn as humans would not negate the presumption that killing humans is wrong. In fact, it would make killing zygotes/embryos/fetuses as wrong because they're human beings. Keeping abortion legal tells us that we can kill humans as long as we have a convenient reason to do so.

Killing is wrong because it frustrates someone's desire to continue living, not because it causes fear and grief (though that's part of it). It would be wrong to kill someone in a reversible coma because they would want to continue living. As such, it should be up to the individual (e.g. the zygote) if it wants to continue living, but humans believe they should be able to make life-or-death decisions for someone lesser than themselves. Obviously a zygote cannot tell us it wants to live, but it should be assumed. Killing a zygote is wrong not just because it's human, but because it would frustrate its desire to continue living if it could voice that desire.

Conclusion

Again, an individual's right to life supercedes an individual's right to convenience. I understand that pregnancy can be hard on a woman but the solution is not to kill the developing human within her but to make her pregnancy as comfortable and easy as possible.

I have also well-supported my conclusion and shown how Con's critique doesn't hold up. He has also used a number of logical fallacies in attempting to disprove my premises. As Con stated there is nothing wrong with having babies, and nothing wrong with not having babies. But there is something wrong in killing a living human because you don't feel you want to have a child right now. I have upheld my burden of proof, so please vote Pro.
wiploc

Con

Thanks for a great debate, Pro; you worked me hard. :)

(I was out of time and way over character-count, which is why I cut your quotes so much. Sorry.)


Premise 1: From fertilization, the preborn are biological members of humanity.

the benefit of the doubt should still go to life. If a hunter hears a rustling in the bushes, he won't immediately fire because it could be a human and not a deer.


How many hunters would hesitate for fear of hitting a zygote?

saying the preborn are living human beings is an objective reality.

Zygotes are human, and they be. If that made them human beings, then sperm cells would count too. And eyelashes. But Spock would not count.

I have even shown that the experts in the field, the embryologists, support the life and humanity of the preborn.

You misrepresented your experts as saying that life begins at conception. Why? I think you're uncomfortable with your own test.

Zygotes are alive and human, but so are sperm cells. Worf and Data (Star Treck characters), if they existed, would not be human but they would be every bit as valuable and deserving as human persons. Your brain-dead guy is alive and human too, but you're willing to off him.

It is obvious that your proposed test (is it alive and human?) doesn't work even for you.

… a zygote is created through a consensual act by two people.

Consent doesn't come into it. You wouldn't let someone kill a toddler who was a product of rape.


Here, also, Con is guilty of equivocating. He uses "human" to mean two different things

You're say zygotes are human beings because they are human and they be. I'm just pointing out that, according to that logic, sperm and cancer cells are human beings too.

You are claim that a zygote is a "full human being" when it may yet twin.

And you don't count "brain-dead guy" even though he obviously is a human being.

I'm not the one equivocating.


Premise 2: All members of humanity are intrinsically valuable based on the kind of thing they are, humans.


I'm not entirely sure what Con means by intrinsic value being a linguistic impossibility. … happiness is intrinsically valuable because it is valuable in and of itself.

It's valuable because we like it.

humans are intrinsically valuable because they have value regardless of whether anyone else values them.

If nobody values something, then, by definition, it has no value. We do value people, but not because of their species.

… it would be equally wrong to kill a homeless person

Yes, because murder makes people unhappy. Homeless people count because they are people. Homeless brain-dead humans don't count any more than homeless zygote humans.


If it were shown that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, I would still believe them to have the same intrinsic value as humanity.

Then why do labor the humanity of zygotes? The issue is whether they are people. Spock is a person. Homeless people are people. Zygotes are not people.

I would afford Mr. Spock (a Vulcan) the same value and right to life as I would a human being because he belongs to a species like humans, a sentient species.

Listen to yourself! Spock would be fair game if he were one-of-a-kind? No, this has nothing to do with whether he has a species.



When it comes to super-intelligent animals or artificial intelligences, I really believe those to be more fantasy than reality (I'm dubious as to whether a robot or android could ever really attain sentience), but even if they did, it would be taken on a case-by-case basis. If they were shown to be like humans, then I believe they would deserve the same protection as humans.

Like humans in what ways? This is the crux of our disagreement. If an alien or animal or computer program could be shown to be like a professor, plumber, Bedouin, child, or homeless guy, then, sure, protect him. But if it's just like a zygote or brain-dead guy, then what would be the point?

… constantly referring to the zygote seems irrelevant to me because we don't kill zygotes.

You wrote the resolution. You staked out the position you wanted to defend. If you no longer think aborting zygotes is immoral, you may concede.

killing a preborn child is much different from killing a braindead patient. The braindead patient is not the person he once was. [Emphasis added.]

He's not a person. Exactly.

The braindead patient is essentially dead,

By my test, he is dead, because he's no longer a person. By your test, he's a human being, as intrinsically valuable as any other human being.

This is different from a zygote which is on the natural path of human … sentience … will develop.

By that logic, you must oppose coitus interruptus, and protect gametes on the natural path to merging.

The braindead patient has no future whereas the zygote does.

What happened to "intrinsic value"?

Zygotes do benefit from protection because then they can grow into productive members of society and live.

Then sperm and eggs deserve the same protection.

It would be wrong to just give up on Coma Guy because he has a good chance of coming out of his coma and living.

Right, he's a person. The zygote was never a person. It has no hopes to be disappointed, no fear of death, no preference for living. There's no reason to pretend he's like a comatose person.


We don't have the right to kill people just because they're inconvenient for us to have around. [emphasis added]

Zygotes aren't people.

Abortion is not about reproductive choice.

Certainly it is.

Reproductive choice would be choosing not to have sex with your partner because you can't afford a child right now.


Why should we do that? Sex is good; it makes us happy, and you've stipulated that happiness is good. We should have sex a lot.

Your effective claim is that a zygote is more of a human being than brain-dead guy. That can't work out for you.


Premise 3: It is prima facie wrong to kill an innocent human being.

Premise 4: Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.

Since we've established that it would be equally immoral to kill certain non-humans, we know that humanity isn't the issue.

And, since we aren't asking whether Worf and brain-dead guy are guilty, we know that innocence isn't the issue either.

Classing the preborn as humans would not negate the presumption that killing humans is wrong.

You don't strengthen a rule by applying it to unrelated stuff. Do you really want people thinking murder is no worse than abortion?

… it should be up to the individual (e.g. the zygote) if it wants to continue living,

What was it you said about artificial intelligence and super-intelligent animals? Ah, "more fantasy than reality … but even if they did [attain sentience] it would be taken on a case-by-case basis." Great! We're in agreement: Zygotes-with-desires are fantasy, not reality; but if you show me sentient zygotes, then we can take it on a case-by-case basis.

but humans believe they should be able to make life-or-death decisions for someone lesser than themselves.

We must do so for our pets, as is altogether fitting and proper.

Obviously a zygote cannot tell us it wants to live, but it should be assumed.

Assume a lie?

Killing a zygote is wrong not just because it's human,

We've established that humanity is not the test. For anything except zygotes (alien, artificial intelligence, super-intelligent animal, or brain-dead human) the test is always whether it is a person. (As you phrase the test, it is whether they have sentience. I think that's less accurate and useful, but I'm not prepared to split hairs unless you think the difference is important.)

Having a separate test for zygotes is special pleading, a fallacy.


Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is generally immoral.


There's simply no reason to think this.

Pro has the burden of proof, but he cannot make his case.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 2
KeytarHero

Pro

I would, again, like to thank Con for a great debate. I will respond to his arguments from last round and then say a few words in closing.

Premise 1:


The point of my argument was not that a hunter would hestitate to fire upon a zygote, just that the hunter would make sure he wasn't going to kill a human. In the same way, even if we couldn't tell that a zygote was a living human, the benefit of the doubt should go to life.

I have already shown that Con is equivocating when comparing a preborn human to a part of a human. They are not the same. A preborn human is a full human entity, whereas a hair follicle or sperm are not. Also, I have shown why a member of an alien species would deserve the same protection as humans. A Vulcan may not be a human, but they are a species like humanity (a sentient species), so they deserve the same protection. Not being human is irrelevant. However, I have also shown why humans deserve protection and why from fertilization preborn humans are living, human organisms and as such, they deserve the same protection as all humans. Con has not refuted my argument so I extend it.

I have not misrepresented the experts. Re-read the quote I gave. If I have in some way misrepresented them, then by all means please explain how. I don't believe it's a misrepresentation to say that fertilization produces a new genetically distinct human organism, especially when that's exactly what the embryologist said.

Additionally, regarding the brain dead person, they are, in essence, dead. Only the body is left alive but who they were is gone and will never come back. They are dead, except for their body. The only reason to keep the body alive at that point is because the family can't let go. Zygotes are different because they are humans on the normal path of development, with an inherent capacity for sentience (they just haven't fully developed it yet).

Consent does come in to it. In the vast majority of cases, the child is conceived through a consensual act. Additionally, no, I would not allow someone to kill a toddler who was a product of rape, nor do I think most other people, pro-choice or pro-life, would. Your argument actually proves my point. If we wouldn't allow someone to kill a toddler who was a product of rape, why should they be able to kill an unborn child who is the product of rape? Why make the unborn child pay with her life for her father's crimes?

I have consistently shown that Con is equivocating by comparing a living human to a part of a human, e.g. sperm or hair follicles. They are parts of humans while a zygote/embryo/fetus is a full human being, developing itself from within. There is no contradiction in saying a zygote should be protected yet it should be legal to get haircuts.

Yes, a zygote is a full human being, regardless of the fact it may twin. If it twins, then you'll have two living humans present, but at the moment you only have one living human. This is something a zygote could do that no other living human in any other stage of development can do, but that doesn't make it "non-human." Newborns can't talk. Does this mean they are not human because more developed humans can?

Premise 2

Happiness isn't valuable because we like it, though it is a pleasurable state of being. Trials and tribulations are valuable yet almost no one likes going through them. They build character.

We do value humans because of their species. Some people don't think twice about killing spiders (myself included). However, spiders are essential to our eco-system. We are not allowed to murder people we don't like. We are not allowed to murder homeless people. We do not place value on humans simply because we like them, otherwise we would be morally justified in killing anyone we don't like.

Murder doesn't make everyone unhappy. Murder may bring satisfaction to a gang member or someone whose loved one was killed. Killing someone is wrong because it frustrates their desires to continue living. A brain-dead person is essentially dead already. A human zygote is a human on its normal path of development with a future, unlike the unfortunate braid-dead human.

The issue at hand is not whether someone is a person. As I have shown already, the term "person" has been used to discriminate against humans in the past. A member of another intelligent species would deserve the same protection because they are a species like humanity, a sentient species. It would be just as wrong to abort a preborn Vulcan as it would be to abort a preborn human.

I never stated that I am reconsidering my stance on aborting zygotes. My point was that no surgical abortions are done on zygotes so it seems irrelevant to argue regarding them. They are still as human as the rest of us because there is no fundamental difference between a zygote and a toddler. They just look different. But they look exactly like a human should in that stage in its development.

I don't oppose coitus interruptus (other than the simple fact that it's a lousy form of birth control). As I have stated numerous times, sperm are parts of humans; they are not human beings deserving of protection. It's not until the sperm merges with the egg that a new, unique human being is formed. Additionally, his analogy falls flat because if a man pulls out and emits his sperm somewhere other than inside his partner, those sperm are not on the natural path to merging. They are killed by going somewhere that is not conducive to their survival.

Premise 3

Innocence, again, is important in being established. We protect people because they are human, a member of our species. Killing an innocent member of that species is wrong. Some people think that killing convicted murderers is wrong, and that wars are wrong. It's just as important to establish that preborn humans have not committed any crime deserving of being killed for it, so they should be protected, as well.

I have not applied this rule to anything unrelated. Since abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, then morally it is no better than murder.

Con has created another strawman argument against me. I never claimed zygotes were sentient; I said they have the inherent capacity for sentience they just haven't developed it yet. Newborns are not sentient either so if we can justify killing a zygote for not being sentient, then we can justify infanticide for the same reason (and some pro-choice philosophers like Singer and Tooley do just that).

I misspoke when I said we shouldn't be able to make life-or-death decisions for those lesser than us. I was saying that humans believe they should be able to kill those lesser than themselves (such as the preborn). There is no reason to justify killing a preborn human that couldn't also be extended to justify killing an infant.

Conclusion


My case is not, specifically, that we should protect the unborn solely on the grounds they are human, but that the unborn are human, the same species as we are, so they deserve the same protection that we do. They have not committed any crime worthy of being put to death. Con has not shown compelling reason to reject the preborn as anything other than human, and has not shown why it should be acceptable to put those beings to death.

Thank you again for reading and I hope you found this debate informative. I thank Con for his thought-provoking responses to my arguments.



wiploc

Con

Thanks, Pro, this has been a pleasure.

I apologize if what follows seems choppy. I'm trying to get it down from 13,000 characters.

Indented text is quotations, things Pro said.


The point of my argument was not that a hunter would hestitate to fire upon a zygote, just that the hunter would make sure he wasn't going to kill a human.

Pro makes my point for me: Hunters want to not shoot humans. But they wouldn't mind shooting zygotes, because a zygote is not a human.

Why make the unborn child pay with her life for her father's crimes?

Why make a gamete pay for its father's crimes?

Yes, a zygote is a full human being, regardless of the fact it may twin.

It's on the natural path to being two people, but he thinks it's only one? Pro equivocates.

Happiness isn't valuable because we like it,

If nobody liked it, it wouldn't be valuable.

We do not place value on humans simply because we like them, otherwise we would be morally justified in killing anyone we don't like.

Except for brain-dead guy. So it's not the humanity, it's the personhood.

Murder doesn't make everyone unhappy.

Allowing murder would make for a substantial net decrease in happiness. Not in the case of brain-dead guy, because he's not a person. And not in the case of zygotes, because they aren't people either. But people are protected, all of them, regardless of whether we like them.

It would be just as wrong to abort a preborn Vulcan as it would be to abort a preborn human.

Exactly so; but, aborting a human zygote is not wrong.

I never stated that I am reconsidering my stance on aborting zygotes.

Then you should have no problem with me talking about them.

My point was that no surgical abortions are done on zygotes

Which, as I pointed out, is false. Dilation and curettage takes whatever early product of conception is on the uterus lining. Zygote or embryo, it doesn't matter. If you think you might be pregnant, and you have a plausible justification for a D&C, then you don't have to call it an abortion to opt out of parenthood.

so it seems irrelevant to argue regarding them.

Pro brought zygotes up by claiming that abortion is wrong from the time of conception.

there is no fundamental difference between a zygote and a toddler. They just look different. But they look exactly like a human should in that stage in its development.

And gametes look exactly like a human should look at that stage of development.


I don't oppose coitus interruptus

You should, if your test is whether you're on the natural course towards producing a human being.

I have not applied this rule to anything unrelated. Since abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, then morally it is no better than murder.

As Dietrich says in Barney Miller, "It's a point of view."

There is no reason to justify killing a preborn human that couldn't also be extended to justify killing an infant.

The slippery-slope argument. But your logic could be extended to protecting gametes on one end and brain-dead guy on the other. If we shouldn't use my test because someone might distort and abuse it, then we shouldn't use your tests for the same reason.


-

If Pro wants to indulge his whim of thinking of zygotes as "whole human beings," he is free to do so; but he shouldn't go so far as to legislating immense harm on actual human beings. He shouldn't even inflict guilt on actual human beings by telling them abortion is wrong. That is itself wrong.


Pro says I equivocate between human and a human. In fairness, he's right. But he equivocates too, very often. He'll say a zygote is human, which it clearly is, but then act like he's shown the zygote to be a human, which seems to me absurd.

He'll even switch between human and alive which is how he misrepresented his experts. He claimed that his experts said "life" begins at conception. They would never have said that; they know gametes are alive before fertilization. Part (just part) of the reason Pro thinks I equivocate is because I have to follow him thru his twists and turns; I have to equivocate when he does.

There's another way in which Pro equivocates. When he talks about whole human beings, I point out that brain-dead guy is a whole human being, so he switches to talking about potential sentience. When he talks about potential sentience, I point out that gametes have potential sentience, so he switches back to talking about human beings. Neither line of argument wins for him, so he two-steps back and forth between them.

Here are his tests:

1. Does it have a species?

This test fails because it protects the wrong things. It wouldn't include people without species. If Spock were a one-off, we would still protect him, though this test says we shouldn't. Hall (2001) and Schwarzenegger's character (Terminator 2) had no species, but they were people, deserving protection as much as any person with a species.

2. Is it on the natural course towards sentience?

This fails because it would include gametes, but Pro doesn't believe life begins at erection. Consider also a diode on a production line, on its way to becoming Hal. Would Pro want to protect that diode as on the natural course towards sentience? I think not. So this test protects the wrong things.

3. Is it human?

This test is the core of Pro's case. He repeats it over and over, only disavowing it and switching to other tests when he has to, and then he always comes back. An example of disvowal: "Not being human is irrelevant."

This test fails because follicles, gametes, and brain-dead guy all human. And it fails because Pro would protect Hal and Spock even though they are not human. This test protects the wrong things.

4. Is it a human, or a full human entity?

This test fails because it excludes Spock and Hal, but includes brain-dead guy. It protects the wrong things.

5. Is it alive?

This test fails because Hal is not alive, and because gametes are. This test protects the wrong things.

6. Is it a new genetically distinct human organism?

Newness fails because we shouldn't kill old people.

Genetic distinctiveness fails because we shouldn't kill identical twins.

Human organism fails because we shouldn't kill Spock but may kill brain-dead guy.

This test protects the wrong things.

7. Did it result from a consensual act?

This test fails because it would allow you to kill anybody who resulted from rape. Terrible test.

8. Can it talk better than a baby?

For some reason, Pro introduced this in the last round, probably trying to impute it to me. But my test is different, and this test does Pro no good: It protects iPhones without protecting babies.

9. Is it innocent?

Pro keeps bringing this test up, but refusing to use it himself. Are brain-dead guy and Spock and gametes innocent? Pro doesn't care. Why doesn't Pro care? Because this test protects the wrong things.

So, all of Pro's tests fail. None of them survive inspection. They work so badly that Pro is forced to equivocate, to skip from one test to another as I point out problems with the last one.

The only test that works is, "Is it a person?" This test is perfect. It protects exactly whom we want to protect, without protecting anything else. Pro would adopt it in a second if only it allowed him to oppose abortion.

The only criticism Pro can bring against the is-it-a-person test is that people might twist and distort it to achieve bad ends. But Pro is actively twisting and distorting his own tests to achieve bad ends. He twists the is-it-alive test to exclude brain-dead guy. He distorts the is-it-a-human test to include zygotes.

We have to act in good faith, and adopt the test that leads to good results when it is not distorted.

Debate Round No. 3
30 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
Kaotix wrote:
: @wiploc "...a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the
: male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." This is where "life" begins, as stated by the
: embryologist. Although you chose a good part of Keytar's quote, you should've included this part of
: it to base your argument. I am inclined to agree with Keytar.

You make my point for me. They didn't say that's when life begins. Rather, they said that's when prounuclei blend in the oocyte.

Had Hero said _he_ wanted to _call_ that the beginning of life, that would have been fine. But he didn't. He said that his experts said it was the beginning of life, when they only said it was the blending of pronuclei.

What his quote actually said wasn't good enough to support his case, so he twisted it. He misrepresented what his quotation said.

If you think that's kosher, you can vote him the sources points. If I were a voter rather than a participant, I'd be voting those points the other way.

I'm probably more sore on this point than I should be. More sore than I would have been if he hadn't accused me of equivocating. This is one of the many places where he equivocated.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
Good post, Hero. I would not have complained if that's what you'd said in the debate. But you wrote, "Embryologists, who are the experts in the field, consistently agree that life begins at fertilization." It doesn't. They wouldn't say that. You didn't quote them as saying that. And yet you represented them as saying that.
Posted by Khaotix93 4 years ago
Khaotix93
@wiploc "...a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." This is where "life" begins, as stated by the embryologist. Although you chose a good part of Keytar's quote, you should've included this part of it to base your argument. I am inclined to agree with Keytar.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
I didn't misrepresent the embryologist. Life is a continuous process. I find a lover, we produce a child. I grow old and die. My child grows up, finds a lover, produces offspring, grows old and dies. My offspring's offspring finds a lover, produces offspring, grows old and dies, etc. This is life. It is a continuous process.

In fact, notice the word "although." He is saying that even though life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because it marks the point at which a new, living human being begins to exist. That is what the embryologist is saying. I am not misrepresenting him.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
: Also, you still haven't shown me an embryologists who says a new human life doesn't begin at
: fertilization. I've asked you three times now and you still can't supply one.

I don't have a quote for you. You misrepresented your own embryologist. I've never read an embryologist. I didn't misrepresent anyone; you did.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
: Wiploc, again, how am I misrepresenting the embryologist? This is what he said:
:
: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a
: critical landmark ...

Either it's a continuous process, or it starts.

Fertilization is either the beginning, or a landmark along the way.

You can't quote someone as saying one of those, and then claim he said the other.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Wiploc, again, how am I misrepresenting the embryologist? This is what he said:

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte."

This what my explanation of what he said:

"...while life is a continuous process (in other words, passed on), when the sperm and ovum unite a new, unique human being comes into existence."

How did I misrepresent his words? Also, you still haven't shown me an embryologists who says a new human life doesn't begin at fertilization. I've asked you three times now and you still can't supply one.

Also, please explain again how I have equivocated. Perhaps I missed it, but I don't think I have equivocated. When I say "human" in reference to the unborn, I always mean they are a living member of the species Homo sapiens. Please point out how I have equivocated.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
Hero, you quoted your expert as saying one thing, and then you represented him as saying something else. I don't know why you did that, or why you are being stubborn about it. My current guess is that you can't tell when you equivocate, even when it is pointed out to you; you just can't see it.

Which makes it weird that you can tell when I do it.

I notice a new claim you made in the comments thread of another abortion debate. You said that the life of _a new human being_ begins at conception. You might get one of your experts to say that. It's not that far from what you quoted them as saying.

To say, as you did in this debate, that life begins as conception, is to say that there was no life before conception. It is to say that dead gametes somehow produced a living zygote. It is wrong, false, indefensible, and you will never get your experts to say it.

To say, as you did in the other comment thread, that _the life of a human being_ begins at conception is different. It is to say something like, "This was already alive, and it was human, but I want to _call_ this the starting point of the human being that might develop from this cell."

Maybe you can't see the difference. If that's so, if you can't see the difference, then you have no business accusing other people of equivocation.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Wiploc, I supplied an embryologist who says that life begins at fertilization. I can supply more. You can't just say, "none of them say it." Please show me an embryologist who says that life begins at any other point than fertilization, or that no one knows when life begins.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
: Posted by KeytarHero
: Wiploc, you say "that's one way of thinking about it."
:
: What way are you thinking about it?

A cell divides and divides and divides until it creates a human being about itself. Then it slides out of that human being, merges with another cell, and divides and divides and divides until it creates another human being. Then it merges with another cell, and divides and divides and divides, until it creates another human being. At no time is the cell dead While it is obvious that life began at some point, there is no point in the sequence I've described in which life began. Because the cell, in the sequence I'm describing, is never dead. Life existed the whole time.

: Can you supply an embryologist who doesn't agree that life
: begins at fertilization?

All of them; they aren't idiots. You may want to equivocate between the beginning of a particular human being and the beginning of life, but no embryologist is going to be confused on that point.

But that's not our issue, is it? You quoted an embryologist as saying that conception is when a human being begins, and then represented him has having said something else, that conception is when life begins. Even if the embryologist were enough of a fruitcake to be willing to say what you claimed he said, that isn't what he actually said. You represented him as saying something he didn't say. You have no right to do that.

You misrepresented him. You should vote me the source points yourself.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by 1dustpelt 4 years ago
1dustpelt
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Reasons for voting decision: hi
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro attempts to equate "zygote" with "mature human being." That's a premise, not a conclusion, and it cannot be rationalized. "Intrinsic value" does imply a valuer, and Pro's counterexamples and arguments fail.
Vote Placed by Contra 4 years ago
Contra
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Reasons for voting decision: CON generally had stronger arguments, although arguments were strong on both sides. A very good, as well as authoritative debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Sources: pro had them. Arguments here was tricky as both sides did extremely well. Pros arguments where based off of the fact a fetus was a human, killing it is immoral. Con showed it is possible a fetus/human has no value, he showed that pros first premise may not be true and he contradicts by saying he would bump the dead man. Con sufficiently refuted all of pros arguments to sufficiently win the debate.
Vote Placed by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
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Reasons for voting decision: I really enjoyed reading this, both sides gave very compelling arguments. In the end, I give an edge to Con. Con systematically went through each of Pro's statements, and explained how the logic was in some way faulty or contradictory. Ultimately, I didn't feel that Pro's arguments survived that kind of detail-oriented counterargument.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
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Reasons for voting decision: Con made many assertions about morality and the personhood of the fetus. While Wiploc is good at pointing out discrepancies, in essence he didn't make much of a case. Bits about a fetus not being a person (why not?) and murder being wrong because it makes people unhappy (what about when it doesn't make people unhappy?). In the end, Pro rebutted Con's arguments and gave a better case. Sources to Pro for actually having sources.
Vote Placed by lannan13 4 years ago
lannan13
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate, Pro has better sources, but the Con has more convinsing arguements, because he keeps knocking the Pro's down it almost seems unfair.