Debate Rounds (4)
In this debate I will conduct myself as Con on the issue of abortion. My opponent is to conduct his/her self as Pro on the issue of abortion.
First Round is for acceptance.
Burden of Proof is shared.
Can you think of anything more hypocritical or insulting than to have legislation passed in a country lauding itself as the "land of the free" for making captives its own citizens to their very biology while simultaneously upholding the autonomy of all those housed in the morgue? I contend that the position of anti-abortion advocates is a ridiculous and destructive influence on the world, not merely for the issues concerning bodily sanctity as mentioned above, but for a virtually endless parade of variables all of which tie into violating another person and making them a prisoner within their own body. Even when this evil is done with the greatest of intentions to benefit another person, or potential person, as the case may be, our desire to see the human race flourish can never be taken to such an evil extreme. The ends simply do not justify the means in these sorts of scenarios, and we ought to be capable of doing better for ourselves at this point in history.
1. The personhood of a human fetus/embryo (sometimes only questioned during certain stages of prenatal development)
2. Bodily Autonomy for the mother in question
3. Consent of the mother in receiving responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of her unborn child
But before we get into discussing these, let's discuss morality/ethics, such as what it is and where it comes from. There are two known possible sources of human morality:
1. Divine Source(s)
2. Natural Source(s)
Allow me to explain what this means. First, there is the possibility of morality having a divine source, which of courld would necessitate the existence of divine elements. Typically in speculation, the divine source in question is a theistic entity, better known as "God" (or numerous gods according to many sets of religious beliefs). According to most religions, such a deity(s) created the Earth and all (or most) life on it, human beings included. All right, let's imagine that this is true, and God(s) created the Earth and all or most life on it, with humans being among the created. That is, God(s) designed and created human beings. According to most organized religions, God(s) created us for a purpose. That is, God(s) has a specific plan, purpose, and design for humans, on both a collective and individual level. This includes a moral code that humans would ideally, in accordance to the plan, purpose, and design for humanity established by God(s), follow and obey.
There, there's the other possible source of human morality: a natural source(s). That is, either it's a part of human evolution or the ethical system imposed on humanity by societies throughout history, or a combination of both. If it's the former, it's because the traits which are a capacity for morality would benefit the species. If it's the latter, it's because some smart humans realized that such traits would benefit the human race (which is essentially the same reason as the former). Whichever one of these two natural sources of morality you choose, morality is those traits which benefit the human species as a whole or increase the quality of living or both. This is where the legal system comes from. Lawmakers realized that roads would be safer if there were a traffic code, so they made one and the law requires us all to abide by that code. This is also, obviously, where the rule "thou shalt not murder" comes from. Humanity would be much worse off (if not extinct) if people just went around killing people. These are the sources of human morality, which is that which benefits the species and/or increases the quality of life of human beings. The development of human morality has reached the point where it is considered right to protect the rights of all human beings, even the minority and/or those who are deemed to be of little or no value to society.
Part 1. Fetal/Embryonic Personhood
A fetus has often been called "a bunch of cells", a phrase which connotes a lack of personhood. At the minimal, all parties should agree with certain biological facts, such as: (1) A fetus has its own unique DNA, meaning that it is not merely an extra body part of the mother (2) A fetus has brain activity at least to some degree at least midway into pregnancy, proven in part by its ability to react to stimuli and to suck its thumb
Indeed; only those at the fringe of the Left would deny that a fetus/embryo is a life form of some kind, regardless of whether or not it should be considered a person. Amoebae are single-celled organisms, and their lack of more than one cell does not in any way negate their status as life forms. I have stated this to clear up the misconception that a fetus is "not alive". Still, though, I have not yet proven that it is a person. But still, I've cleared up that it is a life form of some kind. We are making progress.
First of all, how do we decide on who gets personhood? Well, we've deemed people in a vegetative state to be persons, evidenced by the fact that it would be considered murder to kill a vegetative person. So lack of mental capabilities does not always mean that a being lacks personhood. A person in a coma who is expected to recover completely within 9 months is still considered a person while in the coma. So a fetus that will become a "full-fledged" person should be considered a person by this logic. Fetuses/embryos possess human DNA and are made of human components so they are clearly human beings. Human beings are granted personhood by the law in almost all cases outside of the abortion debate, so it's reasonable to assume that if fetuses/embryos are human beings (albeit underdeveloped humans), they should be entitled to the same right to life that "complete" people possess.
There is also the possibility of a fetus/embryo possessing a soul. Many religions have implied that fetuses are persons. In the case of Christianity, an early Christian work called the Didache forbids Christians from performing or having abortions, proving that at least one early Christian (most early Christians as well, most likely) believed abortion to be immoral, giving credibility to the claim that an anti-abortion stance is a stance associated with the correct practice of Christianity. Thus, if Christianity is true, abortion is wrong. Many sects of Buddhism also prohibit abortion, which shows that if Buddhism is true abortion is also likely wrong. This applies to many religions; if one of them is correct, abortion is immoral.
Part 2: Bodily Autonomy of Mother
Even among those who agree that abortion is murder, some believe that it should still be legal because to force pregnant women to go through with pregnancies that they didn't ask for is a violation of their bodily autonomy. However:
First, if it's murder vs. a 9 month violation of bodily autonomy, it makes sense to choose the lesser evil/violation of rights.
Second, the parent of a born child is required to provide for that child, even if it forces them to use their own resources (money). Pregnancy is a more extreme example of this, but why shouldn't the same principle apply?
Third, autonomy is not an absolute right which may never be violated. For instance, prison is a violation of a person's autonomy.
Fourth, the mother (and the father) did (in any case other than rape or coerced sex), in a sense, accept the responsibility for pregnancy. Consider it this way: other than artificial insemination, sex is the only way for a human being to become pregnant. In fact, reproduction is the overall purpose of sexual activity. The close to constant libido of humans is to encourage them to engage in sex acts which cause reproduction. Acts such as masturbation and having sex with a partner who is already impregnated (or perhaps you're pregnant yourself) are cathartic, seeing as humans don't always have access to a sexual partner and the libido doesn't turn off even if one's partner is impregnated. So, the overall purpose of sex is reproduction. That's why it is considered to be very pleasurable; because humans must do it to keep our species alive. If a person has received a reasonable education (as the vast majority of sexually capable people in the US have), that person would have knowledge of this. Thus, people are aware that sex comes with the risk of pregnancy; even birth control does not entirely eliminate the risk of pregnancy. Thus, in having consenting sex, a person does so with the knowledge that it may result in a pregnancy, which is the introduction of another life form (in the case of humans, one entitled to basic human rights) into this world. Thus, regardless of whether they believe this to be true or not, any person who has sex accepts the risk of pregnancy and as such consents to taking responsibility for any fetus/embryo that forms as a result. If a fetus is conceived, it is because the person in question had sex. Thus, the burden and duty of making sure that this fetus is born and lives should be on the shoulders of its parents. Otherwise, sex is the constant creation of beings with human rights followed by their merciless destruction.
If they're born and if they are entitled to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (which they are, as I have shown), then they are entitled to be taken care of by somebody until the reach the age when they are capable of taking care of themselves. This same right of personhood applies to human fetuses/embryos also, as I have shown. Thus, they are entitled to have SOMEBODY take care of them at all stages of personhood until they reach adulthood/capability of being independent.
And who has a greater duty to them than those who did, consciously or subconsciously but with knowledge of the risks they were taking, introduce them into this world with the unspoken promise (if it's guaranteed to all human beings, then it is in a sense promised to conceived fetuses) that they will be taken care of, as is natural for all beings (and especially for human beings)?
Thus, the responsibility of mothers (and fathers) and the right to life for all humans outweighs the mother's right to bodily autonomy. Until an alternative is developed to have the fetus (and later, baby) develop outside of the mother, the mother and father have a responsibility for that child. Adoption is the way for parents to not have to spend 18 years of their lives looking after that child, as somebody else (either the state or individuals) will carry that responsibility, as that somebody/something else agreed to this.
But while in the womb, with currently available technology only the mother can carry a fetus/embryo to term. Bodily autonomy is overruled here by a greater right and responsibility. It is a harsh, perhaps cruel truth, but it is the truth regardless. The results of denying this truth are even more cruel.
The above also covered the question of consent (just to clear that up).
This concludes my (shortened) Round 2 case. Thank you.
On the topic of the source of all systems of morality, we're in complete agreement that there are really only two possible options for the origins of moral conscience and moral opinions: either a naturalistic process which has been in the works long before either of us ever saw life and that to this day is constantly and gradually self-correcting and self-improving through the labors of the philosophers, researchers, and law-makers that govern us, or, conversely, by divine fiat which has been set in stone and rendered timeless by a deity (or deities) likewise immune to the ravages of time; the constant shifting and metamorphosing of human culture. I have a feeling we may find ourselves on opposite ends of this topic, and I won't delve too deeply into this because that's likely to lead to a completely different debate altogether and draw focus away from where it belongs. However, I disagree with a claim you made in this section of your argument. You stated:
"These are the sources of human morality, which is that which benefits the species and/or increases the quality of life of human beings. The development of human morality has reached the point where it is considered right to protect the rights of all human beings, even the minority and/or those who are deemed to be of little or no value to society."
I don't agree with you that the only purpose morality serves is to benefit humanity or that modern sensibilities about morality are specifically geared toward protecting the rights of human beings. There are many entities considered morally relevant by modern opinions that are not human, and entities which are human that are not considered morally relevant. I don't believe that the only purpose morality serves and the only interest that society ought to have is to further the interests of mankind alone, but ALL manifestations of intelligent life. We will likely disagree on this point, and it isn't necessarily central to the debate at hand, but I felt it important enough to touch on before continuing.
In regards to whether or not a fetus is biologically human and metabolically alive, we are in agreement of those facts. However, I find some flaws with your stance that biological humanity automatically translates to personhood in the case of the fetus or the vegetative. While those trapped in permanent unconsciousness are granted personhood in some areas, elsewhere, they are not. There are certain jurisdictions which deny personhood to those in persistent vegetative states, leaving the decision to sustain their vitals up to the immediate relatives.
I fail to see what is so compelling about a pulse or the possession of human DNA that it would convince one to grant an organism personhood based purely on this criteria. Life is so much more than base biology, and the idea that this is all that matters when discussing issues of personhood is an extremely depressing and troubling thought to my way of thinking.
You touched on the idea of a soul. Being that I have no belief in any such thing, I can't support opposition to abortion on the grounds of the presence of a soul, regardless of which specific religious tradition we're dealing with. Since you don't seem to be relying on this sort of thing to make your point, I don't feel a need to explore it any further, aside from just pointing out that if the religious believe that this is compelling enough of a reason to strip women of their right to abortion, then they MUST, at a minimum, be able to give demonstrable evidence that there even exists such a thing as a soul before we consider this argument and weigh it in against a woman's right to abort. The burden of proof is on them.
In regards to your opinions on bodily autonomy, I don't understand how you can claim that continuous violation of one's very being for nearly a year is somehow less of an offense than the death of something that never even realized or cared it was living in the first place. How is inflicting suffering and enslaving someone to involuntary bodily functions for the sake of something mindless, thankless, and destructive the lesser evil in this scenario? Assuming that a fetus at 8 weeks possesses no self-awareness and lacks completely the ability to feel pain, can it really be said that we are wronging it in some way by disconnecting it from the woman upon whom it is parasitically dependent and allowing it to expire? You seem to be implying that it is somehow a greater wrong to harm an unintelligent being that cannot suffer than it is to harm an intelligent being that can.
If we have on our hands an entity that cannot suffer, that does not even possess the ABILITY to suffer (which is a trait that distinguishes the fetus and the braindead from, say, someone who's asleep or who has been knocked unconscious) how can we be said to be harming them? How exactly do you harm something that cannot suffer? How do you wrong something that has no wishes to violate? I would suggest that we cannot, and due to this, a fetus aborted cannot truly be said to be victimized in any sense. We have not caused it to anguish, we have not violated its wishes or free will, we have not stolen from it anything that rightfully belonged to it. What crime has been done, then?
You said that imprisonment is a violation of one's bodily sanctity. It isn't. If a crime has been committed by an individual against the general populace the government has the right to exercise self-defense by rushing to the aid of its people. If someone has demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with freedom, then they lose their freedom. They do NOT in the course of that process lose their bodily rights. The institution they are housed in cannot take blood or tissues from them. It cannot sterilize or cripple or lobotomize them. It cannot experiment on or utilize in any way it deems fit the living bodies or remains of those imprisoned. Imprisonment is not a loss of bodily sanctity, it's a loss of liberty, and it's justified in certain circumstances. Loss of bodily sanctity is not. (Example: We don't rape rapists, and we don't maim those who have maimed others. Even in response to a violation of one person's bodily sanctity we cannot violate someone else's. Nothing justifies this, ever.)
You also claimed that choosing to be sexually active is essentially equal to stating that you are willing to gamble your educational and financial future, health, sanity, and potentially even your life to bring an unwanted baby into the world. It's not. Yes, pregnancy is a risk of sex. However, consent to sex is NOT consent to pregnancy, and consent to pregnancy is not consent to remain pregnant. Also, the act of braving societal disapproval and having the courage and foresight to undergo an abortion procedure at one's own financial and personal cost IS an act of taking responsibility for the process by which you became pregnant.
When someone chooses to have sex and as a result becomes infected with an STD, we don't say "Well, you knew this was a risk you were taking when you had unsafe sex. Tough luck." On the contrary, we do everything we can to try and cure them, or at least, to help manage the symptoms of their disease and ease their suffering. We don't force them to deal with the ailment on their own as a sort of warped recompense for their sexual activity, the way that some try to do with pregnancy. We don't have a right to use STDs to punish people for being sexually active, why would we be justified in using pregnancy for this?
In closing, I would like to point out that human beings are never entitled to have someone else take care of them, as you claimed. Never, at any point in our lives, have you or I had the right to force someone else to care for us. Not our parents or grandparents, not our teachers or neighbors. No parent HAS to take care of their children after birth. In fact, there isn't even a law stating that parents have to name their children once born. A woman who does not want her baby after birth can simply leave the hospital without it, never once having seen, held, fed, or loved it. Men do not even have to attend the birth at all. Being human does not mean that you are entitled to be cared for by other humans, either before or after birth. You can claim that it OUGHT to be that way, that parents ought to want and love their children, that the elders of a family ought to care for the younger, that society ought to care for those without familial ties to lean on, but we don't have the right to legally force upon people our fanciful opinions about the way things should be in a perfect world. Also, I disagree with you that parental duty ever goes so far as to demand a sacrifice of one's bodily resources. We have no right to force a parent to donate blood, breastmilk or any other bodily substance, even with an innocent child's life hanging in the balance. The right to life has limits, and possessing the right to live does NOT mean that you have the right to live no matter what. The costs your life incurs upon the people around you is a pivotal consideration in whether or not you get to go on living. If I find myself in a life-or-death situation not all things are justified to save me. If keeping myself alive meant that I had to run IVs from my mother's arm to mine, utilizing her as a dialysis machine, I would need her consent first, correct? The fact that she is my mother who made and raised me doesn't mean her responsibilities for my life go that far, nor do I have a right to demand that much of her, as I'm sure you agree. So why would the case have been different when I was still in utero? Why is it that you believe I had more rights before birth than I do today, when I can actually desire and savor life? Why do humans receive a restricted right to live after they are born and can desire life, but an endless one before they're able to care?
Though he/she has stated that it is not relevant to the debate (I disagree), my opponent has stated that he/she disagrees with my definition of morality. That is, he/she does not believe that all human life forms are entitled to have their rights protected, whereas many non-human sentient life forms should have their rights protected.
I cannot determine exactly what my opponent is thinking, as I am not him/her. However, to the best that I can surmise, my opponent believes that intelligence/sentience is the only truly relevant factor in determining whether an entity should have its rights protected. I apologize if this statement is incorrect; if this is not my opponent's belief, I ask that he/she correct me in his/her Round 3 argument in order to clarify what he/she believes on this matter.
Thus, my opponent has raised the question of personhood, and I must respond in this debate.
My opponent has stated (truthfully, I presume) that in many jurisdictions a human in a permanent vegetative state is not considered a person.
There are several things to note here. First, a fetus is not in a permanent "vegetative state". That is, provided nothing goes severely wrong with the pregnancy, a fetus will almost assuredly transition into a "full", "sentient" person. Even if a fetus did not at that time have the traits that define personhood (a statement which is not an established truth, by the way), that definite potential to be a person that would almost certainly come to fruition in a matter of months should be taken into consideration. Potential does in fact matter. For instance, when you kill a "normal" person, why does that matter? Aside from ideas such as the intrinsic value of persons, that person's potential of a further future life has been snuffed out, providing grounds for charging the said killer with murder.
Second, I disagree that the denial of a vegetable's right to personhood is a correct interpretation of the law under an ideal legal system. Many jurisdictions historically have permitted acts which we find absolutely abhorrent and abominable today. I believe that a person in a vegetative state should still be considered a person (something which I will elaborate on at a later point in this Round).
According to my opponent, there is not sufficient (if any) evidence of the existence of the soul, and thus before we even take it into consideration proponents of the soul's existence (in this case, me) must prove that it does in fact exist. Actually, I think that I can do that, or at least provide strong evidence for it.
My argument here revolves around the likelihood of God's existence.
Let's take the Universe. It couldn't have existed infinitely long in the past if it will come to an end in the future (the scientific consensus as of May 2015 is that the Universe will eventually suffer "heat death", which is what happens when all "useful" matter is used up and can no longer be used for performing work; an alternate name for this principle is "entropy"). The Universe cannot be going through a time loop (the scientific consensus is that time travel to the past is impossible; also, such an action would violate the principle of entropy, as useful matter could be "recreated" through time travel to the past). So, if the Universe cannot be infinite, it had to have had a cause, as nothing finite is without a cause. There are two known possible explanations from here:
2. Multiverse (infinity which is not ordered, intelligent, or alive in the sense of an organism)
Both of these ideas are unfalsifiable, and in a sense, "unscientific". However, one of these two is the only known option, and either one has roughly an equal chance of being true. Thus, there's a reasonable probability of God existing, meaning that it's no longer a matter of "burden of proof is entirely on those who contend God exists".
So let's say for the sake of argument that God does in fact exist. Since such a being would be the highest thing that exists, it'd be all alone (not generally a favorable position among sentient beings), unless it sought out contact with lower beings. Thus, if God exists, there's a high likelihood that He/She/It made contact with lower beings (such as human beings). If so, God likely communicated with man and woman in a way that would result in lots of people following that belief in God through a certain religion(s), most likely a large one(s) that has millions of followers. Thus, it's likely that if God exists such a being communicated with us through a large religion(s). Most large religions are against abortion. Thus, there's a high likelihood that if God communicated with man, God is against abortion.
Also, if God sought communion with lower beings, it's likely that God created such beings (either through direct creation or guiding their evolution). It's likely in this case that such a God gave people souls.
So if God exists (and there's a reasonably high chance that this statement is true), souls likely exist and God is likely against abortion.
3. What defines a person?
My opponent has raised the question of what criteria should be used to define what constitutes a person.
There are multiple criteria used by various people:
1. Size (crap)
2. Ability to feel pain
4. Possessing human DNA
The pain criteria doesn't make much sense, in my opinion. If I were to anaesthetize you and then kill you, it'd still be murder, wouldn't it? The sentience criteria doesn't make much sense to me either. I mean, if this were true, wouldn't the intentional destruction of a supercomputer be a crime of holocaustic (yes, I know that's not a real world) proportions? Likewise, my Kindle Fire would have a greater right to exist than my cat. Also, wouldn't this sort of thinking result in a hierarchy where smart people have a greater right to exist than dumb people?
Life by itself is not a good criteria either; nobody (well, almost nobody) questions the morality of eating plants.
It seems to me that the only legitimate criteria for determining personhood in a human society is humanity. A human society is, after all, here to maximize the condition of human beings. It's for us. Also, since God quite possibly exists, the human soul and divine right to life for humans has a possibility of existing which is too great to simply be ignored.
But if you were to cast aside all these standards, it seems to logically apply that the only remaining standard would be "kill whoever you can succeed in killing if you desire to kill them". That's a pretty crappy standard, and I think my opponent would agree that this isn't a good standard.
4. Women vs. Babies
Unless we were to further debate the issue of personhood, then the abortion debate shouldn't be an issue of "women's rights versus cluster of cells". It's more like a debate between the rights of two organisms which have the rights endowed to human beings by society, human social ideas, and/or by God.
My opponent did, in passing, raise an interesting point: a fetus is not aware that it is alive. It is not aware of its own right to life. However, I do not think that this matters. To take away a right that said victim was unaware of in the first place is still wrong. Otherwise, owning a black slave who never knew what freedom was would be morally acceptable. Likewise, it'd be acceptable for me to convince a 13 year old girl into having sex with me, provided that she was not aware that she was being taken advantage of. This logic just doesn't add up. A fetus's lack of awareness does not mean that its rights cannot be violated.
Next, my opponent brought up prisons. It is true that one's internal organs are (mostly) unaffected by prisons. However, regardless of whether it's on the outside or inside, it's still a violation of one's right to do with themself and their lives as they please. "Liberty", "bodily sanctity"; the difference is skin deep. A violation of bodily sanctity is merely a more extreme version of violation of liberty. What matters is the severity of the violation. Presumably, performing surgeries and medical experiments on prisoners is more severe than mere imprisonment. But under some circumstances both may be allowed (such as if a prisoner implanted a bomb inside his/her own chest).
Then, my opponent denied that engaging in risky sex practices equates to signing an unspoken contract to take responsibility for the caretaking of any resulting pregnancies. True, most people would be unwilling to take responsibility and they have sex anyway. But if this is true, then a drunk driver should not have to take responsibility for any fatal crashes that his/her actions might cause. It doesn't matter if they're willing to take responsibility or not; they should have to regardless.
My opponent then compares pregnancy to STDs. This analogy is inaccurate; in the case of an STD, whatever happens only the infected person dies (barring the possibility of him/her infecting others). In pregnancy, there's somebody else in the equation, and I've already shown why the baby's parents should take responsibility, even at personal cost and loss of some liberties.
Finally, my opponent makes the claim that "nobody has a right to be taken care of" as children. Yes, they do, actually. My opponent has admitted that ideally children would be taken care of. Thus, it is definitely in the best interests of human beings for everyone to be guaranteed life and security as children. Thus, it should be something that everyone is entitled to, and as such it can be decidedly a right by the societal consensus. Religious and secular sources would agree that it's a right. At all stages of life before we can take care of ourselves we are entitled to life.
Firstly, I apologize to all for not citing sources verifying the fact that the braindead are considered legally dead and therefore non-persons in many jurisdictions. I will provide them now: http://www.uniformlaws.org...
My opponent speaks of the potential future of the fetus (something that is not guaranteed, by the way, considering how fragile fetal life is, often coming to an abrupt stop all on its own), but he (she?) doesn't seem to care about the future of the woman in question, who already possesses an identity and an established place in the world with goals and desires all to her own. What of her future? What of the suffering that she will inevitably endure if forced through a pregnancy? Why is the fetus' potential for sentience superior in importance to the agonies that it has the potential to inflict on those around it? If we start banking moral standards on imagined potential instead of what exists in the realm of reality, we're treading a very dangerous and foolish path. (Example: I have the potential to become the next U.S. President. Does that mean that at the current time I have the right to be treated as though I already am?) Just because a fetus has potential to become a full-fledged person doesn't mean that it ought to be regarded as though it already is. And if we're going to allow the potentiality argument to be used in favor of the fetus, why not against it as well? (Example: How do you know that any particular fetus aborted wouldn't have grown up to be the next Unabomber?)
But even granting that provision to my opponent that a fetus is already a person with positive potential, let's flip the script a bit and imagine that we're talking about any other person on the planet when speaking of the fetus and study the scenario from that point. Do any of US have the right to use other human beings as mere means to ends and reduce their level of rights and their quality of life simply to sustain ourselves or achieve our potential? If not, why would the fetus get this special privilege denied to the rest of us?
My opponent's claim to the existence of a soul hinges entirely on their belief in a god. (If God exists, then souls must therefore also exist.) I was so hoping that this would not turn into a theological debate, since it is going to detract from the topic a bit and likely affect the overall dialogue. But, OK. He claimed that because the existence of God is unfalsifiable that this automatically lends weight to the argument for his existence. This position has a few flaws as I hope to demonstrate. Science is a process by which we determine which ideas are true and which ones are false. If a hypothesis is unfalsifiable that means it cannot be disproved. Usually that means it cannot be tested at all. Because if there was a sure way to prove it and you tried it and it didn't work, then that would be a falsification as well.
Theism is provable in theory. For instance, Zeus could reveal himself to us. The reason I don't believe in any unfalsifiable theories is because if I believed in Zeus why wouldn't I also believe in Vishnu and Thetans and UFOs and all kinds of other things that people claim with heartfelt sincerity?
Remember: We have more reasonable explanations for why people choose to believe in these things, such as fear of death, ego, loneliness, need for meaning; need for leadership. And why other people would make up such things: power, mental illness, desire to be special, money, maybe even an honest desire to better the world, etc.
The problem with believing in an unfalsifiable hypothesis is that you have intellectually no way out. Theists have convictions, but they can't show their gods if somebody wants to see them, they can't conjure them if they go to battle, they can't even rely on their help when a family member is ill. In short, they have to have blind faith. And if there is no god, they would never find out. Rather, they would just keep on believing anyway. They will even kill people thinking they're right. Religious people have gone so far as to skin, quarter, burn, squash, slice open, drown, impale, crush with Boeing jets and torture with methods unsurpassed in their cruelty for no reason other than that they believed some other hypothesis.
That's the problem with believing in the unfalsifiable: You could be wrong and you'd never find out.
As for the multiverse, so far, no, to the best of my knowledge, it's not falsifiable, so it's just a hypothesis at this point. I won't say it will be impossible to falsify it in the future, all kinds of things we thought were untestable just a few years ago, are now being observed. Examples would be things like exoplanets, we have found ways of detecting them without even actually seeing them directly yet.
I agree that ability to feel pain isn't the only criteria for personhood, but it does lend a hefty amount of weight to moral conundrums. (Example: If you torture someone before killing them you are much more likely to receive the death penalty or life without parole for the crime than if you killed them painlessly.) And the example that was given of killing someone unconscious isn't terribly analogous to abortion because unlike the fetus, the unconscious individual does possess the ABILITY to suffer, though they may not be able to at the moment. The fetus does not nor has ever possessed that ability.
In reference to the points given about sentience, yes, computers can process information, and at speeds dwarfing even the fastest human minds. But they have no consciousness to speak of, no identity, nor anything resembling a personality which is a trait that follows along with intelligent life. It's hard, perhaps, for the human mind to comprehend something that can process information without actually "thinking", but that is the way computers operate. Now, if we had an example of A.I., an android, perhaps, that had complete emotions and an intact, creative mind all to its own, then killing that WOULD be murder because we would be dealing with a person at that point. As for the proposed "kill whoever you can succeed in killing if you desire to kill them" standard that my opponent evidently believes I support, I haven't any idea where that came from or when I ever suggested any such ethical rule.
I'm startled that my opponent is unable to see the difference between losing one's freedom and being taken into custody with losing the right to say what is done with one's own blood and organs. This is a rather disturbing revelation to me and I hope I am misunderstanding the implications of the statement that "A violation of bodily sanctity is merely a more extreme version of violation of liberty." That's like saying "Rape is merely a more extreme version of invading one's personal space." Chilling stuff. And since I've brought it up, let's examine why it is that rape is wrong in the first place: it's a violation of bodily sanctity. Women are legally justified in every jurisdiction I know of to kill someone who attempts to rape them. Even though no attempt is being made on her life, just her autonomy, she is still justified in taking another human life to protect herself. So the claim that bodily sanctity isn't considered just cause to kill another human as my opponent suggested is false.
My opponent is essentially arguing for forced parenthood and forced organ donation from people for simply having a sex life. This is abominable when you consider the full ramifications of this. For one thing, how do think this is going to impact the child's life, being forcibly raised by parents who may not love eachother and never wanted it to begin with? Do you think people are going to automatically fall in love with their kids and become filled with a burning desire to raise them if you force them to reproduce against their will? Do you think it will grow up loved and cherished with happy memories of birthdays and Christmas mornings? Doubt it. Forced love is not love at all, it's abuse. And, further, if women are aware that if they happen to get pregnant they are going to be stuck taking care of this baby they didn't want for the next 18 years, you don't think we would see rates of infanticide increase as they have elsewhere in the world where abortion is banned or heavily restricted, such as EL Salvador?
Pregnancy is an INVOLUNTARY condition and is often in conflict with an individual's wishes, health, and best interests. No woman in a crisis pregnancy situation CHOSE to ovulate or become pregnant. If she had had any control over those functions, she would not have found herself in this situation because she would have had a say in the matter. She should not have to suffer for her biology, particularly not to the extent of gambling her health, future, and possibly her very life. You might be respected and lauded as a hero for doing so, but you should not be compelled by force to run into a burning building to save someone, not even family. The sacrificial nature of pregnancy is a beautiful thing BECAUSE, and only when, it is voluntary.
In closing, I would like for my opponent, if able, to provide me a few sample instances where born human beings are given the same level of rights over the bodies of other people in order to sustain themselves or achieve their potential as he believes the fetus has. Why are the unborn entitled to live no matter what costs their lives incur upon everyone else, but you and I are expected to have respect for certain boundaries, such as when our lives begin to impede on the lives and freedoms of others? Why do we have special permission to violate and destroy whatever may be necessary, including other people, to save a fetus, but not someone who we can actually see, hold, and speak to who wishes to live?
Yes, in a sense the fetus is just "potential", just as my opponent is just potential. My opponent could die tomorrow, meaning that his/her continued existence is mere potential. Since my opponent's continued existence is mere potential, then perhaps we should not treat him/her as a living person, if we were to go by my opponent's logic. But his/her right to live is not questioned (as far as I know).
My opponent has raised the possibility of a fetus growing up to be something horrible, such as the next Unabomber. However, the fetus should, upon growing up, be able to decide for itself what it desires to be. It's called having a chance. This also explains why we should allow a fetus to live even if it has a good chance of living a crappy life: we cannot know for a fact what its life quality will be; it at least deserves a chance at happiness.
Yes, I have no right to take some random person to make them raise my standard of living. But if that person owes me such a thing, then I dang well can. (I've raised this point over and over again, and it's not worth raising again).
Oh dear. My opponent has misinterpreted my theological argument. What I said was that the only two known options are God or Multiverse, and as of right now they have about equal evidential weight. If those are the only options, then until a better explanation is brought up we should assume that one of those options is true.
You might protest by saying something like this: "Imagine you're a primitive. You don't know how a rainbow works so your ancient tribal traditions assume it was caused by the great pink pony prancing in the sky scattering magic dust. Are you telling me the tribesmen in question should assume this is true?" Actually, yes, as long as he/she knows of no better explanation.
Now please, let's not turn this into a "let's bash theists" contests. It's God or the Multiverse; until a sufficient third option is provided God's a very valid option.
The potential to suffer is irrelevant; under the circumstances (of being anaesthetized and then murdered) you're not going to suffer. That you are not going to suffer is the point.
My opponent might then cry victory and say "Aha! If potential to suffer doesn't matter, why does potential to live?"
But that's not quite true. If done right, you are NOT going to suffer from being murdered. But under your right to live being snuffed out, you still had a chance, unless the fetus in question is already brain-dead.
My opponent then stated that computers lack the characteristics of life. Fair enough, though it proves my point that intelligence is not a defining factor in deciding whether or not you have a right to live.
Bodily sanctity is right to one's own body. But surely it is just one right. For instance, an unconscious person can have his/her leg amputated by doctors to save his/her life. That's a clear violation of bodily sanctity, but we're all (probably) okay with it in this situation. And, like other rights, it can be violated under extreme circumstances. You might say "So why can't the right to life?" Well, the right to life has higher priority.
My opponent then attempts to downgrade sex to any old random act. Let's be clear: it's an act which may result in the creation of a being endowed with human rights. Saying that DUI is just "harmless fun" does a favor to no one; neither does downplaying the potential implications of sex. Let's not make an emotional argument here, please.
My opponent then states that one shouldn't have to take care of someone that they don't love. Fair enough; I shouldn't have to compensate whoever I put in a coma because I don't love that person.
Oh, and by the way, many women who decide to go through with the pregnancy report a feeling of love for their child upon birth. This is due to a chemical called "oxytocin". Your brain also produces this chemical when you state your pet dog which you love in the eyes.
Then, my opponent makes the rather ridiculous claim that pregnancy is not voluntary. Good point, man; when I was drunk and crashed my car into another car I'm the victim who didn't choose this.
As for that last part, I've covered it before.
Finally, I saw that my opponent made the "there will be an increase in infanticide" argument. Yes there will...in the short term. Logically, when women realise that pregnancy doesn't come with a get out of jail free card anymore, they'll likely be much more safe in their sexual practices and the number of unwanted pregnancies will go DOWN.
For instance, look at the chart provided on this link.
In the years immediately after Row vs. Wade, the number of abortions in the US skyrocketed. It's possible that the rate of illegal abortions was merely replaced by legal abortions, but I doubt that's the case. This huge leap was not immediate, which is odd because most illegal abortions were performed by legitimate doctors and not "in alleyways with coathangars".
Most likely, in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s girls realized "Hey wait a second, sex won't make me carry a baby for 9 months since I can just abort now! It's party time!"
So if abortions increase due to the legalization of abortion which leads to riskier sex and thus more unwanted pregnancies, wouldn't it make logical sense to ban it? In the long term its illegalization helps.
My opponent might cite Brazil, with its super high abortion rates, but that's bull, seeing as how 20% of Brazilian women are not in prison (that is, the local Government does a crappy job enforcing the law). Also, Americans are much richer and have better access to healthcare, so they can "afford" (though that's not really the deciding factor here) a pregnancy which she can then be relieved of through adoption.
And even if I were to grant that my opponent is right here, it would still make about as much sense to legalize abortion as it would to say "Well, we can't stop rape, and it's too much trouble to imprison rapists, so let's just legalize rape". That is, it doesn't make any sense at all!
My work here is done.
One last request: seeing as how this is the last round and I will not be able to respond to further arguments from my opponent, I request that he/she only provide rebuttals and not new arguments. Thank you.
Yes, and what you haven't done (and can't do now, seeing that we've come to the end of this debate) is give a decent explanation for why a fetus' life supercedes the bodily sanctity of its mother, but your life, mine, and everyone else's does not. You, despite your claims of wanting human equality for the unborn are in fact yourself perpetrating a great inequality in terms of how you value the lives of human beings---maintaining that we have a greater, farther encompassing right to life before we are born than the one we possess after we are born. You have, deliberately or not, ascribed a different value and a different level of rights to human beings before they leave the womb than to all of us who have. I would contend that my opponent is the one touting inequality in this instance, not I.
My opponent also said, in no uncertain terms, that if "...that person owes me such a thing (a better life), then I dang well can."
What does this even mean? Are we to believe that if we determine someone, ANYONE, to not be a sufficient help to us achieving our own happiness and potential that we have a right to do with them whatever we want? If a math teacher in high school failed to assist you academically and you were forced to drop out of school due to this, you believe they should have to pay your living expenses for you down the line because they "owed" you a chance at a better job; a better life and didn't deliver, so now you're their problem? Please. Can anyone think of a more selfish and childish way of looking at the world? Always taking advantage of other people and then blaming their actions on their victims because they "should've treated them better"? Because they felt like something was "owed" to them? Really? Our jails are full of these sorts of people, perpetually whining about how they deserved better from everyone in their lives.
In reference to the existence of god vs. multiverse theory bit, what separates these two hypothesis is that, at least on paper, the mathematical science supporting the multiverse seems sound and entirely plausible, whereas, we have no such evidence bolstering the claim of there existing a god or gods. We don't even have a unanimous definition for what a god IS, let alone how we could possibly test for one or if the existence of one is even possible. And assume for a moment that we don't have any explanations. The answer then becomes "We don't know." not "God did it." The god hypothesis does not become more plausible in lieu of any other explanation. If an unidentified object is spotted in the sky, it does not become the most likely explanation or the most reasonable position to assume that what was seen was an alien spacecraft stopping by earth to gather humans for an interstellar breeding program in the absence of any other answer. That would still be an extraordinary claim that would require extraordinary evidence to justify it.
My opponent made an interesting statement when they said "But under your right to live being snuffed out, you still had a chance, unless the fetus in question is already brain-dead."
If one was arguing for the existence of a soul tied to the presence of human life and intrinsic human value tied to human biology what would it matter whether or not the fetus was braindead? Would that change its humanity or the fact that it presented the characteristics of life? It would seem to me that my opponent does not really put all that much stock into their own argument, since earlier in the debate, they stated that whether or not someone was vegetative had no bearing on their value or right to life, but now they seem to be stating that they see no issue with aborting a braindead fetus. Interesting. And to the point on computers, I did not state that they fail the test of personhood because they lack the characteristics of life. What I stated was that "...they have no consciousness to speak of, no identity, nor anything resembling a personality which is a trait that follows along with intelligent life. " It wouldn't matter to me a bit whether or not something biologically alive, which is why I gave the example of a non-organic person (an android) earlier in the debate. It is not the presence of biological functions or a particular type of DNA that determines personhood.
In the unconscious leg-amputation example that was given, my opponent leaves out one very important factor and that is that the unconscious person is not being thusly mutilated purely for the benefit of someone else. They are being mutilated because this is what is medically necessary to save THEIR life, not to benefit someone else's life. If they were losing a limb simply to benefit someone else, that would be a more analogous example to a forced pregnancy scenario because it would be taking into account WHY it was that this person was losing a leg: was it for their one welfare, or was it for someone else's?
I also love the irony of accusing someone of making an emotional argument while simultaneously stating that driving drunk is essentially the same as having sex, not wanting to endure an unwanted pregnancy is the same as not wanting to make amends for putting someone in a coma, and that becoming pregnant accidently is the same as crashing your car into someone else while intoxicated. Beautiful little dance of hypocrisy there.
"Most likely, in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s girls realized "Hey wait a second, sex won't make me carry a baby for 9 months since I can just abort now! It's party time!"
I think it was likely something closer to "Oh my god, now I can actually be sexually active and still go to school and get an education and pursue a great career afterward just like all of the boys my own age who WON'T have to give up all those things to support me if I do get pregnant because they'll just say it isn't theirs or they'll sign away their rights and I'll still be stuck with the damn thing." Or something like that.
Interestingly, my opponent agrees that infanticide rates would likely increase in the absence of access to abortion. Which, I assume, means that they are perfectly comfortable gambling away THESE human lives full of potential, and the lives of all the young women pushed to this, simply to support their political/moral stance on this issue. Yikes. I'm not even sure what to say to that.
Last point I'm going to address, my opponent does what is typical of pro-life individuals and tries to pass adoption as the universal band-aid solution for the problem of unwanted infants. Let me preface this all by saying that this is NOT an argument against adoption. I have no problem with people putting children up for adoption if that's what's best. (I actually think that there are far too many people who keep kids that they really should give up, a situation that causes more misery for everyone involved. But that's neither here nor there and isn't the subject of this debate.) What I do have a problem with is the idea that adoption is, in all cases a better, alternative to abortion.
In reality, adoption isn't even an alternative to abortion at all. What it is is an alternative to PARENTING. It solves the problem of a CHILD REARING, but not the problem of unwanted pregnancy. It turns out that those are not actually the same thing. Women still face nine months of gestation and the pain and sickness that comes with it, will still require very expensive medical care, will miss work or school, will still endure the pain of labor, and will still face all of the risks that come with pregnancy and delivery including a completely avoidable death. To some women, like myself, this is simply unacceptable.
Too often, people accuse women who get abortions of doing so "for convenience." (If one could honestly describe all mentioned in the previous comment as mere "inconvenience.") And, of course, nothing is more "convenient" than taking time out of your schedule to forge though a mob of screaming protesters on your way inside your local clinic to get an uncomfortable and, for some, embarrassing procedure and then withstand cramps and bleeding for a few days, all the while being judged by those around you. (Which is why I mentioned in a previous post that having the courage and foresight to undergo and abortion procedure IS an act of taking responsibility for that pregnancy) And all of this comes after making what could, at least for some people, be a VERY difficult decision, figuring out how to afford the procedure, taking time off work, and finding care for any kids that might already exist, reconciling themselves with any religious beliefs they may hold, etc.
The insistence of adoption as the single best solution is made even worse when coming from women who have already had children. They, of all people, know that pregnancy is anything but a simple inconvenience. Realizing you left the remote on top of the TV on the other side of the room is an inconvenience. Pregnancy is an ordeal and birthing is an enormously painful experience. Being forced to do this against your will is a horrific violation, and the potential of the fetus does not justify this. Unless future technology allows someone to adopt a fetus during gestation, and take it into their OWN uterus to later give birth to, or to an artificial uterus of some kind, then adoption does not and can not ever hope to solve the problem of pregnancy as abortion does. It simply can not protect women the same way that an abortion can.
This concludes my argument and this debate. I thank all who read this for doing so.
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