The Instigator
Dookieman
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
Guidestone
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Abortion is immoral

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Dookieman
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 9/19/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,004 times Debate No: 61993
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (4)

 

Dookieman

Con

First round is for acceptance.
Second round is for opening statements by Pro and Con (no rebuttals).
Third round for first rebuttals.
Fourth round for second rebuttals and concluding remarks.

This debate will be centered on the moral issue concerning abortion, so do not bring Roe v. Wade or the law into this discussion. It's about the moral issue only. Pro and Con will also not be allowed to argue whether morality is objective or subjective. Because it's not relevant to the topic at hand.

Pro will support the affirmative that abortion is immoral.

Definition of abortion:
"a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus."

72 Hours to Post Argument.
10,000 Characters Max.
1 week voting period.
Select winner voting system.

Good luck! (:
Guidestone

Pro

I accept this debate, and hope we can come to a better understanding of the issue.
Debate Round No. 1
Dookieman

Con

Thanks Guidestone. I look forward to our discussion.

Introduction
Abortion is a very controversial and emotional topic (obviously). However, I ask the voters of this debate to put their emotions aside so they can be rational and vote based who made the most convincing arguments.

In this debate I'm going to defend two contentions. First, there are no good reasons to think that abortion is immoral. And secondly, there are good reasons to think that abortion is morally permissible. With that said, let me begin.

The Interest Principle
Here I will be borrowing from the philosopher Joel Feinberg. The interest principle simply states that the sorts of beings who can have rights are those that can have interest.[1] On the interest principle, interest are based in desires. Therefore, a being with no desires can't have any rights. For example, a newspaper cannot have the right not to be torn up, because a newspaper has no desires and thus no interest in not being torn up.[2] The rights that a being can have depend on what its desires are. A cow, for instance, has the right not to be tortured, because it has a desire to not feel pain. However, a cow does not have a right to life, because it does not have a desire for its continued existence. So killing a cow painlessly would not be immoral. Only things that have self-consciousness and the ability to imagine their own future can have a desire for continued existence. Now that I have explained the interest principle, I can now formulate my argument for the moral permissibility of abortion .

Premise 1) If a human fetus does not have a desire for its continued existence, then ending its life is not immoral.

Premise 2) A human fetus does not have a desire for its continued existence.

Conclusion) Therefore, ending the life of a human fetus is not immoral.

Defense of Premise 1
Premise 1 is true given the definition of the interest principle. Interest are based in desires. If a human fetus does not have a desire for its continued existence, then you cannot frustrate its wishes, hopes, plans or intentions for the future. It has none. When ending its life you are not taking away anything that it values. Let me provide an example. When I cut my fingernails, I kill billions of cells. But no one would consider me a murderer for killing those cells. This is because the cells on my fingernails do not have a desire for continued existence. In fact, they have no desires at all. So by killing those cells I'm not doing anything immoral. The same situation should apply to the fetus.

Defense of Premise 2

This is obviously true. Like I stated earlier, only things that have self-consciousness and the ability to imagine their own future can have a desire for continued existence. A fetus certainly does not have these characteristics or capacities.

Since both premise 1 and 2 are true, it follows that abortion is not immoral, and instead is morally permissible.

Finally, I will be using Judith Jarvis Thomson's Violinist thought experiment to argue for a woman's right to choose.

The Violinist
Imagine that you wake up in a hospital bed connected through a series of medical tubes to an unconscious famous violinist. The violinist is dying from a kidney disease, and the Society of Music Lovers has found that you alone have the right blood type to save his life. So last night, in your sleep, they kidnapped you and plugged you into him. If you disconnect yourself from him now, the violinist will die. But if you disconnect yourself from him in 9 months, he will live and go onto play beautiful music.

Now, the question is, are you within your rights to disconnect yourself from the violinist to let him die? I would argue yes, you do have the right. This is because you are a sovereign over your own body, and nobody should have the right to use your body against your will. So if you agree that the kidnapped person in this thought experiment has the right to unhook himself from the violinist, then you should also agree that a pregnant woman should have the right to unhook herself from the fetus.

Conclusion
In this paper I have defended the Pro-choice position and argued that abortion is morally permissible. Therefore, we must reject the claim that abortion is immoral.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://spot.colorado.edu...
Guidestone

Pro

I thank my opponent for his opening arguments and I will now present my opening arguments.

My stance is babies are innocent human beings from the moment of conception, and they have a fundamental right to life, which must be protected.

My syllogism.
A. Every Human has a human right to life, which can not be taken away.
B. A new distinct living human comes into existence at conception.
C. Concluding, everyone has human rights, like the right to life, from the moment of conception.

Defending Premise A

This is the point where me an my opponent disagree, who has rights? According to the United Nations human rights are "rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status" [1]. Also, in the Universal Declaration of Human rights under Article 3 includes right to life [2]. Not to mention murder is illegal where ever on earth you go. However, my opponent claims this isn't true because it includes those humans who supposedly don't have desires. Therefore, my opponent doesn't believe in human rights unless they claim the unborn are not human.

Defending Premise B

My opponent has actually already agreed with me on this premise. My opponent gave the definition of abortion of "a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus". Something can not die unless it was once alive. My opponent even says "A human fetus". This shows they are human, and this is because its parents are human and they can't have any being that isn't human. Concluding, the unborn are living, and they are human.

Attacking Premise 1

There was really no defense here, all that was stated was it is true because of the interest principle. However, no defense of the interest principle was offered. No one would charge anyone for killing cells because cells don't have "cell rights". Even if the interest principle was true then there would certianly be desire for living which is that main point of premise 2.

Attacking Premise 2

Every living thing has desire to keep living. If you injure any living thing they will try to repair the damage because of the desire to live. This is because all living things respond to stimuli [3].

Attacking the Violinist argument

Parents have a special responsibility to their offspring we don't have to strangers. So, the violinist is a stranger they are not one of your dependents. Someone in your city could be starving, and if you don't feed them you will not be charged with negelct. However, if your offspring in your home is starving you will be charged with negelct.


Sources
[1] http://www.ohchr.org...
[2] http://www1.umn.edu...
[3] http://www.biology-online.org...





Debate Round No. 2
Dookieman

Con

Thanks Guidestone for your opening arguments. Now onto the rebuttals!

I'm disappointed with Guidestone, because he started going into rebuttals in round two when I specifically said not to. Indeed, I even put no rebuttals in parentheses to make sure my opponent saw it. I feel like he should lose points for not following the rules, especially since I made them very clear-cut and easy to understand.

Introduction
Firstly, I will begin by attacking my opponent's arguments for the impermissibility of abortion. Secondly, I will be defending my original arguments for the moral permissibility of abortion. I was actually supposed to defend my original arguments in round #4, but since Guidestone has decided to ignore the rules and jump into rebuttals early, I now have to defend them in round #3. With that said, I will now begin.

Definition of anencephalic:
"having part or all of the cerebral hemispheres and the rear of the skull congenitally absent."

Does Every Human Have a Right to Life?
I will now present the anti-abortion argument that Guidestone made in round #2.

A. Every Human has a human right to life, which can not be taken away.
B. A new distinct living human comes into existence at conception.
C. Concluding, everyone has human rights, like the right to life, from the moment of conception.

This is the typical Pro-life argument against abortion, and, as you can see, my opponent has made use of it. This argument made by him could be summarized as follows:

"It's human! Don't kill it!"

This view seems implausible, and I believe it's defective. Let me demonstrate why I think that by going through the first premise.

Rebuttal of Premise A
This premise states that every human being has a right to life, and therefore it is immoral to end another human being's life. However, if this is true, then it would be immoral to end the life of a human who is permanently comatose or an anencephalic newborn. This is because they are human beings, and after all, every human has a right to life according to this premise. But surely nobody believes it would be immoral to end the life of someone who is permanently comatose. A person in this state will never experience consciousness or be able to do anything. Their heart may still be beating, but the person with their unique personality, beliefs, desires, and memories is gone. They are practically dead. For these reasons it's impossible to believe that ending the life of such a person could be considered immoral. The same situation applies to the anencephalic newborn. The newborn, like the permanently comatose human, will never experience consciousness.

As we can see, premise A is obviously false, and should therefore be rejected. However, if the first premise of his argument is wrong, then Guidestone's anti-abortion argument fails.

Disadvantages of This Anti-Abortion Argument
The way Guidestone's argument is set up is unsatisfactory. This is because I don't think it explains to us why we think killing is wrong. His argument is basically it's wrong to kill every human being. However, as I have already shown, such a view is unsound. If we're going to say that killing is immoral, we need a good account for why we think that. An adequate account on the wrongness of killing should, I think, extend beyond the human species. To understand why I think that, let me provide a thought experiment. Imagine that one day in the future we come across other life forms on another planet. The beings on this planet are self-conscious, sentient, have interest and desires, are intelligent like human beings, and rational. Yet, they are not members of our species. Now, let us ask ourselves, would it be wrong to kill these other beings? I believe that most of us are inclined to say yes, it would be wrong to end their life. However, on Guidestone's argument, it doesn't explain why it would be wrong to kill these aliens. But on the Interest Principle, (my argument) it does explain why it would be immorl to kill them. The alien beings on this planet are self-conscious, and have the ability to imagine their own future. If these beings can imagine their future and have desires, hopes, intentions, or certain projects they wish to complete in the future, then they can have a desire for their continued existence. For these reasons, my view on the wrongness of killing provides a sound account on why it's immoral to kill, but my opponent's view does not.

I will now be responding to the objections raised by Guidestone to my original arguments.

Guidestone states that I didn't really give a defense of my first premise, and that all I said was that it's true because of the Interest Principle. However, if he would have kept reading, he would see that I did give a defense of this premise, and provided reasons why ending the fetus' life is not immoral. I argued that since a fetus does not have a desire for its continued existence, then it shouldn't be considered wrong when you end its life. The reason for that is because you're not frustrating its wishes, hopes, plans or intentions for the future. It has none. Earlier I gave the example of tearing up a newspaper to help put the Interest Principle into perspective. When I tear up a newspaper, I'm not frustrating its desire not to be torn up. It has no such desire. In the same way, aborting a fetus does not frustrate its desire not to be killed, because it has no desire in its continued life.

Later, on his attack of premise 2 of my argument, Guidestone claims:

"Every living thing has desire to keep living. If you injure any living thing they will try to repair the damage because of the desire to live. This is because all living things respond to stimuli."

However, this claim by him is false. If a living thing repairs damage it has taken, all that shows is that they have a desire in repairing themselves, but not a desire for continued existence. Like I stated earlier, only things that have self-consciousness and the ability to imagine their future can have a desire for continued existence. This is because only these kinds of beings can actually be aware of their own existence and contemplate it.

Finally, I will respond to the objections raised by Guidestone to the violinist thought experiment.

Guidestone states that we have special responsibilities to our offspring that we don't have to strangers, and since the violinist is a stranger, you do not owe him life support.

There are two things I would like to say to this. The first is that I could simply change the violinist thought experiment around to fit this objection. Let’s say you're about to unhook yourself, and the doctors rush into your room to say "don't unplug! We just found out that the violinist is your long lost son!" Are you now obliged to stay hooked up, even though you weren't before? I would still say that you are not obliged. Yes, it's true that you are biologically related to this person, but you haven't assumed guardianship and consented to take care of them. My opponent gave the example of a parent letting their child starve in their home, rightfully pointing out that we could charge such a parent who negelcted their own child. But in that case, we do have a situation where a parent has assumed guardianship and consented to take care of that child. Why else would the child be in the parent's home?

The second thing I would like to say is that there are some cases where a woman is NOT biologically related to the fetus. For example, a woman at a fertility clinic in Japan found out that an egg inserted into her uterus was not her own, nor was it fertilized by her husband's sperm. In this accidental case, it seems like Guidestone would have no objections to this woman getting an abortion, since the fetus is not biologically her offspring. However, it looks inconsistent to say that abortion is immoral when there is a biological relationship, but not immoral when there is no biological relationship.

Conclusion
Guidestone's anti-abortion argument is unconvincing, and he fails to debunk my arguments for the moral permissibility of abortion.

Source:
http://www.slate.com...

Guidestone

Pro

I will be unable to post a response this round, but I do wish to continue the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
Dookieman

Con

Since Guidestone was unable to post in round 3, I will be generous by not posting my arguments and concluding remarks. I believe I defended my arguments well, and demonstrated why Guidestone's arguments against abortion are unsound. For those reasons, I think we should reject the anti-abortion position, and accept the view that abortion is morally permissible. Thank you Guidestone for a most enjoyable debate. I wish you the best! (:
Guidestone

Pro

Guidestone forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Dookieman 2 years ago
Dookieman
@ 9spaceking Can you please give reasons for your vote?
Posted by Dookieman 2 years ago
Dookieman
"For the interest principle, if a person is brain damaged and therefore has no desires for anything, is it reasonable to conclude that they have no rights?"

It depends on the situation. If a person, say, gets in a car accident and becomes brain damaged as a result of the crash, the question arises whether they have a right to life. I would answer yes, that they do have a right to life. The reason for that is because before the crash they were a person with interest and desires, and therefore we should respect the person they once were by allowing them to live. Not only that, but the family of the victim could want him to remain alive. However, if you have noticed, none of this applies to the fetus. The fetus has had no desires at all. Not in the past, and not now. Therefore there is a clear difference between a brain damaged person who once had a mental life, and a fetus who has not and does not have a mental life.

"For the violinist example, the situation is highly illogical and unlikely to ever occur, and therefore it I'd hard to use it as solid evidence to back your argument."

Well, technically speaking, it's logically possible. Meaning that it does not contain any contradictions, and therefore it could happen. However, I will grant that something like that happening is very unlikely. But the fact that it's unlikely to happen doesn't mean it's not morally relevant. The violinist thought experiment is an analogy. In an analogy there are some similarities and some dissimilarities. Philosophers use analogies to test certain arguments and ideas to see if they hold up and remain logical. They are very useful and help us solve difficult issues. So again, the fact that it's unlikely to happen doesn't mean it's not morally relevant.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
Sure. For the interest principle, if a person is brain damaged and therefore has no desires for anything, is it reasonable to conclude that they have no rights? I believe not. For the violinist example, the situation is highly illogical and unlikely to ever occur, and therefore it I'd hard to use it as solid evidence to back your argument.
Posted by Dookieman 2 years ago
Dookieman
"I argue that they are not plausible due to the fact that their are simply too many aspects which could disprove the situations."

Like what? Give me some examples to both of my arguments.
Posted by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
I argue that they are not plausible due to the fact that their are simply too many aspects which could disprove the situations. As for your rebuttals, I did not take that into the assessment of who had the better Round 2 argument due to the fact that they were in Round 3.
Posted by Dookieman 2 years ago
Dookieman
@Atheist-Independent The Interest principle and the violinist situation are not plausible arguments? Are you serious? Not only that, but you said that Pro won the second round with his "all humans have a right to life argument." I clearly showed why that argument is very bad. Do you read it? I'm willing to say that I thoroughly debunked it.
Posted by Bible2000 2 years ago
Bible2000
Very good, Pro! :)
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
DookiemanGuidestone
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: ff's greatly harmed pro's case.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
DookiemanGuidestone
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Disregarding the rules certainly didn't help Pro here, nor did the forfeits. As I see it, Pro had to prove that abortion was immoral, not solely that legal structures are in place that support his views. I understand his argument, but he places much of the burdens on his opponent in his speech, essentially daring Con to make arguments against him without providing a substantial basis for his first. I agree that much of Con's argumentation remains threadbare by the end, but no more or less so than Pro's, and it's simple for me to default to Con when Pro hasn't truly fulfilled his burdens. Ergo, I vote Con.
Vote Placed by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
UchihaMadara
DookiemanGuidestone
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Due to the FFs, Con's opening arguments did not receive sufficient response, and his rebuttals went uncountered. It probably would have been a Con win anyways, just because the Interest Principle argument is much stronger than the biological personhood argument. Pro should look into the FLO and othee versions of the argument from personhood. Still, good job to Con! Hopefully he can get a forfeit-free debate on the subject later on.
Vote Placed by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
Atheist-Independent
DookiemanGuidestone
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: I myself believe that abortion is moral. As for the debate, however, I feel that Pro won the second round due to the fact that their were too many errors with both the Interest principle and the violinist situation for them to be considered as plausible arguments. However, given that Pro violated the rules of the debate, and forfeited the final two rounds, the debate by default is awarded to Con.