The Instigator
Freeman
Con (against)
Winning
110 Points
The Contender
mongeese
Pro (for)
Losing
21 Points

Abortion is prima facie morally wrong.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/9/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,861 times Debate No: 12296
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (57)
Votes (28)

 

Freeman

Con

Abortion is not morally reprehensible and should not be illegal, given the actual qualities that a human fetus possesses. Simply put, all people's realization of the world is actualized at the level of their brain. If any entity - human and non-human alike - is sufficiently young in their cognitive development, they will be incapable of experiencing the world at various levels. As a result, a fetus certainly does not have the same capacity to experience the world the way in which a fully-grown adult can. And unlike a person, a fetus is not self-conscious and is thus incapable of holding any desires to continue living. For this reason, a fetus cannot be said to possess a serious right to life.

============> In Defense of Abortion: Why A Fetus Does Not Have A Serious Right To Life <=============

C1: It is not always wrong to kill an innocent human being.

Despite what many deeply moral people may believe, there are very strong and reasonable grounds to conclude that abortion is not prima facie morally wrong. Over the years many different versions of anti-abortion arguments have been created. But, they all seem to be unified under the same key premises. More often than not, the premises of such arguments seek to uphold the intrinsic moral status of a human fetus. And if the reasoning behind these arguments were put into a syllogism, they might take the following form:

P1: It is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens.
P2: A human fetus is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens.
C: Therefore, it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

If anti-abortion arguments are constructed like this, strong objections can be raised against the first premise. For example, a devastating counterexample can be raised against the notion that it is always wrong to kill an innocent member of the species homo sapiens. An adult human with complete upper brain death does not possess a serious right to life; they are, for all cogent legal and moral purposes, already dead at that stage. [1] As Bernard Gert - the Stone Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at Dartmouth College – points out, simply being alive does not have inherit value in itself. It is, rather, the ability to have a conscious experience of the world that is important. [2] Those who may wish to still believe all humans have a serious right to life should consider how ridiculous the anti-abortion syllogism would appear in light of the counterexample listed above.

Clearly, the notion that all innocent members of the species homo sapiens have a serious right to life is deeply erroneous. Unlike a normally developed adult, a human fetus is lacking attributes in several very important areas. The human fetus does not posses the same mental faculties as a full-grown adult and therefore cannot be said to posses the same serious right to life that conscious persons do. As demonstrated earlier, this moral principle can be recognized in the way humans differentiate between fully conscious adults and those that have experienced a permanent loss of consciousness due to disease or some sort of traumatic accident. And it is in this ethical purview that it is possible to recognize that a fetus does not have a serious right to life since, like a brain dead adult, it does not posses a significant mental life with thoughts and desires. This is why murdering grown adults is wrong whereas killing a fetus is not.

C2: A fetus is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

As was argued earlier, a fetus is not a rational or conscious agent and therefore does not hold a serious right to life. The fetus may be a human (in the biological sense), but it is not a person. In her book, On The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion, Mary Anne Warren - an American writer and philosophy professor that taught at San Francisco State University - details five psychological criteria for personhood. According to Warren, these qualities include consciousness and in particular sentience; the capacity to reason; self-motivated activity; the capacity to communicate messages; and lastly, the presence of self-concepts. [3] Since a fetus does not possess any of the above qualities, it can rightfully not be considered a person. Given these criteria, it logically follows that a human fetus cannot possess the same right to life that a grown adult has since it does not qualify as a person.

C3: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

A fetus' potential to acquire characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness is not a sound basis for granting it a right to life. While some may wish to disagree with this, it seems quite clear that potentials cannot justifiably grant something rights. As Peter Singer — the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne — points out, this principle simply cannot be adopted as a rights criterion since masturbation, contraception, and abstinence could all be equally condemned by its own standards. [4] In fact, under this ethical framework, even refusing to be raped could be considered unethical since it denies a potential entity the ability to become a person. These are simply an odious and untenable set of conclusions that could be drawn from the notion that entities can acquire rights through undetermined potentials. Therefore, a fetus' potential to become a self-conscious person should be rejected as the foundation for granting it rights.

::Conclusion::

In summary, the human fetus is a biological member of the human species, but it does not posses the qualities that would grant it a serious right to life. The fetus may be "innocent" in some sense, but this is irrelevant since a fetus does not hold the status of personhood. Consequently, the arguments often raised in objection to abortion simply cannot withstand rigorous scrutiny. They either rely on false premises or principles that cannot withstand sufficiently strong counterexamples. Indeed, many such arguments against abortion amount to little more than the tautological assertion that abortion is murder. But a slogan is no substitute for rational inquiry. Moral philosophy is predicated upon compassion and reason, not bumper stickers.

Sources:
1. http://spot.colorado.edu... (7.2 The Counterexample Objection)
2. Gert, Bernard. Common Morality: Deciding What to Do. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. (p. 30) http://books.google.com...
3. Warren, Mary Anne. The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. 1973. On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. Vol. 57. La Salle, Illinois: The Monist, 1973. (pp. 97-105)
4. Singer, Peter. Practical Ethics. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge, 1993. (p. 181) http://www.utilitarian.net...
mongeese

Pro

I would like to thank Freeman for starting this debate. Let's make this a good one.

============> Against Abortion: Why A Fetus Does Have A Serious Right To Life <=============

C1+: "It is not always wrong to kill an innocent human being."

My opponent brings up a single counter-example to the proposition that it is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens: a person with upper brain death (henceforth referred to as Dead Guy). It is true that we don't consider killing Dead Guy to be immoral; however, we must remember why this is so. The reason killing Dead Guy is considered moral is because Dead Guy has no hope of regaining consciousness [1]. That is the primary difference between Dead Guy and a comatose person (henceforth referred to as Coma Guy) [2]. If Dead Guy were capable of regaining consciousness, it would be immoral to kill Dead Guy.

Given this key reason why it is moral to kill Dead Guy, we can come up with a new syllogism:

P1: It is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that can become conscious in the future.
P2: A human fetus is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that can become conscious in the future.
C: Therefore, it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

The revised anti-abortion argument does not have the flaw of the previous one.

My opponent then claims that because fetuses and adults are different, fetuses cannot have a serious right to life. However, this is a reverse false analogy:
1. A is different from B.
2. A has X.
:. B doesn't have X.

He also claims that "murdering grown adults is wrong whereas killing a fetus is not" because "it does not posses a significant mental life with thoughts and desires" although this is clearly not the case. Coma Guy and Vegetable Guy both lack a significant mental life with thoughts and desires, so by my opponent's logic, it is okay to kill them, yet this is not the case.

C2+: "A fetus is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life."

My opponent's argument can be summed up in the following way:
1. An adult is different from a fetus.
2. An adult has a significant right to life.
:. A fetus does not have a significant right to life.

However, this is a reverse false analogy, a logical fallacy, and can therefore be disregarded.

C3: "An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights."

My opponent claims this, and yet contradicts this as long as he agrees that it is moral to kill Death Guy yet immoral to kill Coma Guy. The only reason Coma Guy is kept alive is because of his potential to regain consciousness. This means that, contrary to my opponent's assertions, Coma Guy has the right to life because of his potentials.

My opponent also argues that if killing a fetus is immoral, then killing sperm cells and egg cells is also immoral. However, this ignores the fact that such cells are not potential human beings, but potential halves of a potential human being. An individual egg cell is not human, and nor is an individual sperm cell. However, combined, they make a human. The moment of conception is the moment that defines the human.

::Conclusion::

In summary, my opponent claims that the human fetus is not a person, but fails to demonstrate how this denies it the right to life without committing a fallacy. My opponent's "strong counterexample" to the anti-abortion argument is reasonably eliminated with a slight revision that excludes the counterexample but still demonstrates abortion to be immoral. There is no reason to think that the right to life rests in consciousness or ability to think, but rather in being human.

1. http://health.howstuffworks.com...
2. http://health.howstuffworks.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Con

Let me begin by thanking Mongeese for agreeing to debate with me. I look forward to a respectful and rigorous intellectual exchange of ideas. From my perspective, it seems clear that very few of the abortion debates on this site try to tackle this issue from a philosophical perspective. For this reason, I felt that it was necessary to try and clarify the pro-choice position as best I could by using logic. Everything that follows is my attempt to do just that.

C1: It is not always wrong to kill an innocent human being.

Mongeese summarizes his argument by setting forth a revised version of the first syllogism I have laid out in my opening round. Unlike the first argument, this revised version relies on the notion that certain potentials can grant an entity rights.

P1: It is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that can become conscious in the future.
P2: A human fetus is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that can become conscious in the future.
C: Therefore, it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

While this revised version of the argument may look interesting, it still has some serious problems. According to my opponent, a person in a coma has a significant right to life because that person has the potential to become conscious. From here, he goes on to conclude that a fetus also has a right to life because it also has the capacity to acquire consciousness. But, clearly, this is not the case. People in a coma do not posses a right to life merely because they have the potential to become conscious. Essentially, this is just a false analogy. A blastocyst, for instance, is nothing more than a cluster of cells that has never had a conscious experience of the world. People that are in a coma, however, have had a conscious experience of the world in the past. Consequently, they previously had the desire to remain alive and the ability to plan for what they wanted in the future. Thus, a person in a coma does not derive a right to life by virtue of the fact that they merely have a potential to become conscious. It is, rather, that person's previous conscious desires along with their ability to regain consciousness that grants them a right to life.

Simply put, the basis for personality and memory is present in the brain of every normally developed person, even if they are temporarily comatose. Michael Tooley – the prominent analytic philosopher from the University of Colorado – sums up this point quite elegantly. In response to the question, ‘Why does a comatose person have a right to life?,' he writes that "The answer is that in that case more is present than just certain potentialities, either active or passive. For the individual's brain contains the physical basis of his or her memories, and of his or her personality traits. In short, the states that make for personal identity are present in the brain of the comatose individual, and, because of this, what is present is not just a general potentiality for the existence of an individual who is capable of thought and self-consciousness: there is also the potentiality for the continued existence of the person who enjoyed thought and self-consciousness in the past, and it is this that makes the killing of such an individual seriously wrong." [1] Consequently, there are solid grounds to draw a moral distinction between a person in a coma and a fetus.

C2: A fetus is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

I must admit that I am somewhat baffled by my opponent's apparent understanding of my argument. While trying to clarify my position, Mongeese claims that my argument can be adequately summarized in the following syllogism:

1. An adult is different from a fetus.
2. An adult has a significant right to life.
:. A fetus does not have a significant right to life.

Unfortunately, my opponent's attempt to summarize my argument demonstrates nothing more than his lack of understanding of the argument. That syllogism is so profoundly detached from anything I have written that it's really hard to know where to begin. For starters, Mongeese, I fully concede that your straw version of my argument is, indeed, logically invalid. Now, if my actual argument were put into a formal syllogism, it would probably look like this:

P1: Only a person has a right to life.
P2: An entity is a person if it has (1) consciousness, (2) the capacity to reason, (3) self-motivated activity, (4) the capacity to communicate messages, and (5) the presence of self-concepts.
P3: A fetus does not have properties (1-5).
P4: Therefore, a fetus is not a person. (from 2 and 3)
C: Therefore, a fetus does not have a right to life. (from 1 and 4)

If my opponent wants to deny (P2), then he must demonstrate why personhood isn't related to the ability to have a conscious experience of the world. I seriously doubt he's going to be able to do this, so I'm just going to wait to see what his views on this matter are.

C3: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

In this section, my antagonist attempts to make a distinction between a blastocyst and a sperm. A blastocyst, he argues, is a potential person, whereas a sperm is not. However, despite what my opponent claims, sperms and blastocysts are both potential persons. The only significant difference between a sperm and a blastocyst is that one has an active potential for consciousness, while the other has a passive potential to acquire consciousness. [2] Nonetheless, both of them still only have potentials to become conscious. Thus, in order for my opponent's position to be coherent, he must show why active potentials are important, whereas passive potentials are not.

Perhaps I can better demonstrate why it's nonsensical to think that potentials can grant an entity rights with an analogy. Consider, for instance, the argument made by Stanley Benn's about potentialities, which can be properly summarized in the following paragraph:

"If person X is President of the USA and thus is Commander in Chief of the army, then person X had the potential ability to become the President of the USA and Commander in Chief of the army in the years before his rule. But, it does not follow that: The person X has the authority to command the army as potential President of the USA." [3]

Thus, it's absurd to conclude that a being can derive actual rights from its potential to have certain characteristics at a later time. When Barrack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he had the potential to become the next Commander in Chief. But, of course, he was not the actual Commander in Chief the day after he was elected in November of 2008. He did not acquire the actual rights of the presidency until he assumed the office in January of the following year. It is quite clear that his potential to be president in November did not give him the legal authority to command U.S. armed forces before January of 2009. Obviously, the potential to acquire certain properties cannot grant something rights.

::Conclusion::

Up until this point, my opponent simply hasn't given a compelling reason to show that an unconscious being has a serious right to life. Moreover, his attempt to show that potentials can grant an entity rights is clearly reliant on a logical fallacy. A fetus, unlike a person in a coma, has never been conscious, and is therefore not losing anything if it never attains consciousness. This is why it is intellectually defensible to draw a distinction between a fetus' potential to become conscious and a comatose person's ability to regain consciousness. For these reasons, a fetus still cannot be said to have a right to life.

Sources:
1. http://spot.colorado.edu... (2. Potentialities, or the Persistence of Memory and/or Personality?)
2. http://spot.colorado.edu... (1. Active versus Passive Potentialities)
3. http://www.iep.utm.edu...
mongeese

Pro

I would like to thank Freeman for continuing this debate. Now, on to the contentions.

C1 : It is not always wrong to kill an innocent human being.

My opponent claims that I have made a false analogy. This is false; he simply disagrees with P1 of the syllogism. The syllogism itself is valid.

My opponent claims that the reason that it is immoral to kill Coma Guy, but not immoral to kill Dead Guy or a fetus, is because they "have had a conscious experience of the world in the past." This, in my opinion, is merely an overcomplication. The start of personality and memory should not be the determining factor in whether or not one has a right to life. One's DNA, however, is fully formed at the moment of conception; this seems to be a better gateway to use for determining the right to life.

My opponent ultimately claims that he can make a moral distinction between a coma and a fetus, based on their brain development, but I disagree. Allow me to present a purely hypothetical scenario to illustrate this:

Suppose a man is in a coma, but the doctors have determined that a virus in his brain has eliminated his memories, and his personality is temporarily void. The man will, after a few months, slowly regain a new personality, and will have new memories. In this scenario, is it moral to kill the man? He is, after all, still a living human with the same DNA as he ever had. Personally, I wouldn't want to die.

C2-: A fetus is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

I apologize that my syllogism appeared to be a strawman. I based it off of my opponent's statement here:
"Given these criteria, it logically follows that a human fetus cannot possess the same right to life that a grown adult has since it does not qualify as a person."
As a clarified syllogism:
A. A human fetus and grown adult are different in that a grown adult qualifies as a person.
B. A grown adult has a right to life.
C. A human fetus cannot have the same right to life.

My opponent's clarification of his own argument, I agree, is valid, assuming (P1) and (P2) to be true. My opponent is correct in that I won't attack (P2); however, my opponent does have a lack of any arguments to prove (P1). The claim that only a person has a right to life is backed up only by the opinions of my opponent and Michael Tooley. My opponent will need to put forward a serious argument as to why (P1) is correct before his syllogism has any merit.

C3-: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

My opponent claims that a sperm cell has the potential to become conscious. However, I disagree; as I had clarified earlier, a sperm cell is not a potential person, but a potential half of a potential person, which seems like a fairly important distinction. As a sperm cell, it could be half of a number of different potential people; however, a blastocyst is a whole, specific potential person.

As for my opponent's example involving President Obama, every example of his is only that Obama is not yet X, but will probably be X, but that doesn't make him X. This seems rather obvious; if the potential to be X make Obama X, Obama wouldn't potentially be X, but would rather actually be X. However, by being a potential president, Obama gains a huge amount of respect that he wouldn't otherwise have. This instance of having respect is more comparable to having a right to life than being a person.

::Conclusion::

My reason for a fetus having a serious right to life, being human, is no less powerful than my opponent's reasoning of personhood. My opponent claims that my reasoning involving potentials granting rights is fallacious, although he names no fallacies, and doesn't respond to the claim that the only difference between Coma Guy and Dead Guy is potentials, proving that potentials do play an important role in deciding who has a right to life.

My opponent claims that a fetus loses nothing upon death, but it does: it loses the chance to ever actually become conscious, which is no less important than Coma Guy's chance to regain consciousness. Although there is a difference between a fetus and Coma Guy's history, this does not mean that there must be a difference in their right to life.

In conclusion, my opponent offers no real reason why his own criteria (personhood) is superior to my criteria (humanity). Until he can do that, his contentions are worthless.

Good luck with your final round, Freeman!
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Con

As this debate draws to a close, it's important to reflect on the current state of the arguments so far. Mongeese only has one argument that he believes demonstrates the truth of his position. It relies entirely on the notion that potentials can grant a being rights. While I find this particular argument to be absurd, I still intend to deal with it as best I can. As far as I can tell, it is the most frequent objection to the pro-choice position. As such, I intend to demonstrate one final time that potentials are irrelevant in determining rights. After that, I will show that the criteria I have laid out for personhood is what's relevant in determining whether something has a right to life. So, without further adieu, let's finish this.

C1: It is not always wrong to kill an innocent human being.

In his last round, my opponent claims that he has not made a false analogy in setting up his argument. But I've already shown that he has. He attempts to demonstrate the validity of the first premise of his argument by arguing that a person in a coma has a right to life because they will become conscious. However, as I've pointed out earlier, this is simply not the case. A person in a coma doesn't have a serious right to life because they can potentially become conscious. They have a right to life because their brain holds the basis of their memories, personality, and desires.

Moreover, if my opponent is arguing that something has a right to life because it has human DNA, then he has explicitly contradicted himself. In his first round, he rightfully admits that someone with complete upper brain death does not have a serious right to life, despite the fact that they obviously have human DNA. But, in his second round, he seems to have forgotten that he ever conceded this point. And he goes on to write, "One's DNA, however, is fully formed at the moment of conception; this seems to be a better gateway to use for determining the right to life." Clearly, it's possible for something to have human DNA and to not possess a right to life.

If there were a virus that could totally and utterly reconfigure a person's neurological makeup, then that virus would be responsible for killing the people that it infected (i.e. if a virus destroys the basis of someone's personality and memory, then the people that get infected by it are essentially dead, even if their body is still alive). As such, a person that got infected with this mind-altering virus would be morally similar to a fetus, insofar as they could become a new person at a later time. So, Mongeese, this illustration isn't going to get you anywhere. It's only significant if my opponent's other arguments are valid, which they aren't.

C2: A fetus is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

My opponent has tentatively agreed that his prior attempt to clarify my argument was inaccurate, and he admits my real argument is structurally valid. Thankfully, he goes on to say that he isn't going to deny the truth of (P2); however, he does seem to take issue with whether or not (P1) is valid. So, for quick reference, I will put up my previous argument one final time before I defend it any further.

P1: Only a person has a right to life.
P2: An entity is a person if it has (1) consciousness, (2) the capacity to reason, (3) self-motivated activity, (4) the capacity to communicate messages, and (5) the presence of self-concepts.
P3: A fetus does not have properties (1-5).
P4: Therefore, a fetus is not a person. (from 2 and 3)
C: Therefore, a fetus does not have a right to life. (from 1 and 4)

Simply put, I see no logical reason to deny the truth of (P1). Things either have a right to life because of their mental properties or because of their potential mental properties. It would simply be absurd to say that things like carrots and tomatoes have a right to life. And since there are no good reasons to suppose that potentialities are important, it follows that only a person (i.e. a being with specific mental properties) has a right to life.

C3: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

Let me start this section by giving some context. My opponent's only attempt to show that potentialities are important has clearly failed. Consequently, everything I add to this section is merely supplementary to the cumulative case that I have been building. Nothing in this debate really swings on whether or not a sperm is a potential person. But this argument is still worth having at any rate.

In his first and second rounds, my antagonist claims that sperms cells are not potential persons. Nevertheless, this is not accurate. I'm sorry Mongeese, saying the same thing twice in a row doesn't make it valid the second time. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions; however, everyone is not entitled to their own set of facts. A sperm cell has a passive potential to become a fully conscious person. This means that there is something that could be done to a sperm cell that would allow it to develop into a fully conscious person.

Michael Tooley sums up this point with traditional clarity when he writes, "[C]onsider a spermatozoon and an unfertilized human egg cell. If these are brought together, and then placed in an appropriate environment, the eventual result will be an individual with the capacity for thought and self-consciousness. The combination of a spermatozoon and an unfertilized human egg cell (plus a uterus) therefore has the potentiality of giving rise to an individual with the capacity for thought and self-consciousness. Accordingly, if it were very seriously wrong to destroy such a potentiality, it would be very seriously wrong to destroy an unfertilized human egg cell." [1] Insofar as a sperm is placed in an appropriate environment (e.g. a uterus), it has a very real potential to fertilize an egg and bring about a person. Therefore, if it were true that potentials can grant an entity rights, we should incarcerate people for masturbating.

Furthermore, I don't see the point of my opponent's analysis of the analogy I used with President Obama. Merely having respect as a result of potentially being something does not grant any form of rights. I'm really unsure what my opponent is attempting to say. Perhaps he is arguing that since a fetus might have the respect of some people, it is therefore endowed with a right to life. If there is a logical chain of thought connecting all of this, I fail to see it.

::Conclusion::

My opponent has not made a single point that hasn't been thoroughly and utterly refuted. I've logically demonstrated that one's DNA cannot be a sound basis for granting it a right to life. As I have pointed out (and as my antagonist has conceded), individuals with upper brain death don't have a right to life because they lack certain key mental characteristics, even though they are distinctly human. Additionally, an advanced and self-conscious species of extraterrestrial would also have a right to life, even though they lack human DNA. Thus, isn't it obvious that mental properties are essential in determining whether something is worthy of a right to life? Having conceded this battle, my antagonist suggests that an entity's potential to develop certain psychological characteristics can grant it a right to life. But, unfortunately for my opponent, his only attempt to do this is based on a false analogy. People in a coma don't have a right to life because they can become conscious; they have a right to life because their fully developed brain stores the basis of their personality, memory, and desires. Consequently, there is simply no reason to think that a fetus has a significant right to life. Thus, there are no good reasons to suppose that abortion is prima facie morally wrong.

Sources:
1. http://spot.colorado.edu... (1. Active versus Passive Potentialities)
mongeese

Pro

I would like to thank Freeman for this debate. It has been great; let's finish this.

C1: It is not always wrong to kill an innocent human being.

My opponent continues to claim that Coma Guy has a right to life because of his "memories, personalities, and desires." In Round 2, however, I pointed out that there is no evidence to back up this statement, but only the opinions of my opponent and one other man. He has ignored this objection completely.

He then claims that my mentioning of DNA is a contradiction; apparently, the criteria for a right to life cannot be both having a complete set of DNA and having the potential to become conscious. However, this was merely a refutation of his point that having memories and such determine a right to life, and that DNA was more important than just memories. I still maintain my original criteria for a right to life as the potential to become conscious.

As far as my example goes, I agree, it is only useful to whoever has valid points. However, my points are no less valid than my opponent's; he cannot prove that personality is where Coma Guy gains a right to life any more than I can prove that his potential to become conscious does.

C2: A fetus is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

My opponent creates a dichotomy in which the right to life rests either in their mental properties or their potential mental properties, and intends to eliminate the second choice through his next contention.

C3: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

My opponent claims that this contention is only supplementary, but this is false. C2 relies on C3 to be true for it to be true, and C1 relies on C2 for it to be true, so unless my opponent can win this contention, he cannot win this debate.

My opponent's only assertion to affirm this contention throughout this debate has been to compare a fetus to a sperm cell, and claim that if a fetus has a serious right to life, then so does a sperm cell.

My opponent again claims that a sperm cell has the passive potential to become a fully conscious person because "something could be done to a sperm cell that would allow it to develop into a fully conscious person." However, that's like saying that an entrepreneur has the passive potential to become a multi-national corporation. A corporation is multiple people; the original entrepreneur is hardly the entire company, unless he managed to replicate himself a thousand times like a bacteria. However, the entrepreneur does not replicate himself a thousand times; he simply finds other people to join with to form a multi-national corporation. Therefore, the entrepreneur is not a potential multi-national corporation, but instead a potential part of a potential multi-national corporation. Similarly, a sperm cell is not a potential person, but instead a potential half of a potential person; this is the point that I've been saying this entire debate, but never refuted.

As for my comment on the analogy involving Obama, I can see where the confusion would be. I was merely pointing out that X having the potential to become Y does not make X Y, but this does not mean that X having the potential to become Y does not allow X to have quality Z.

::Conclusion::

My opponent's points break down in a domino effect. Given that my opponent's only case against potentials granting entities rights fails, his assertion that only people have a right to life becomes unfounded. His only other support for this assertion would be the opinions of himself and Michael Tooley, nothing more. This assertion was the only established difference between a fetus and a comatose person; as my opponent has agreed that a comatose person has a right to life, a fetus, therefore, also has a right to life.

My opponent, in his final conclusion, asks what would happen if we met an alien species of comparable mental capacity, and whether or not they'd have a right to life. Once we and the other species mutually agreed to recognize the other species' right to life, members of their species would have a similar right to life, and fetuses of either species would have a right to life.

I would like to, again, thank Freeman for this debate, as well as the voters for taking the time to read this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
57 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Freeman 4 years ago
Freeman
@16kadams

"Um in you first argument you said its ok with killing an innocent person?!?!"

No......... I said that it wasn't always wrong to kill an innocent human. A "person" is philosophical concept that is synonymous with a being who possess a right to life. A "human being" is a biological concept. The terms "human" and "person" are not interchangeable. Please don't forget that in our debate. I explain this in the debate....... which you voted on.............
Posted by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
Um in you first argument you said its ok with killing an innocent person?!?!
Posted by alyssa_16 6 years ago
alyssa_16
I agree that in the fact of rape or insist I will agree. But if you choose to have sex with some one you should take responsibility for what comes out of it.
Posted by alyssa_16 6 years ago
alyssa_16
I love animals too so yea pretty much :)
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
@surfride: Nahhh man bacteria are asexual, they wouldn't "do it" ; ) ROFL I thought that was clever, if I may say so myself.
Posted by surfride 6 years ago
surfride
@samman- ah how could i forget the fungi? and i would even imagine that some bacteria would do it. . .
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
@Surfride: and some fungi, too
Posted by surfride 6 years ago
surfride
@ alyssa- so anything that reacts to a stimulus by withdrawing is completely alive and deserves the same rights as a grown human being? If you class it like that, pretty much every animal and a good number of plants fit the definition.
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
@Alyssa: depends on whether or not it's late-term abortion. You can have an abortion in the first month, it would be like removing a small cyst.
Posted by alyssa_16 6 years ago
alyssa_16
for a long time i tought abortion was okay then my sophmore year in helth we watched an abortion on film and what they did was pull the fetius apart you can not tell me its not alive when they get to close to it and the fetius pulls away! its as alive as you and me.
28 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
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Reasons for voting decision: How did con winning?
Vote Placed by JoshBrahm 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I think Mongeese' accidental strawman did him in. This was generally a good debate on both sides though.
Vote Placed by BewareItsAndrew 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by Danielle 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by LukeSchreiner 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by maggiee 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by Jericho42 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by Pandora9321 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by AisuKasai 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by alyssa_16 6 years ago
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