The Instigator
Freeman
Con (against)
Winning
77 Points
The Contender
mongeese
Pro (for)
Losing
56 Points

Abortions are morally wrong.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/23/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,671 times Debate No: 9801
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (124)
Votes (24)

 

Freeman

Con

I will be negating the resolution that abortions are morally wrong, and since most abortions occur in the first trimester this debate will only focus on abortions that take place during that time period.

Moral philosophers, theologians, and medical practitioners have argued about the ethics behind abortion for quite some time. And many deeply ethical people have come to view abortion as being morally reprehensible. However, most of the arguments against abortion can be shown to be fallacious on their own merits. They are all either structurally invalid or contain premises which are unsound. For now, I will evaluate one of the central arguments against abortion.

==============================================
The Biological Version of the Central Anti Abortion Argument
==============================================

Throughout the years there have been many arguments put forth against abortion. However, most of them are derived from some version of the following syllogism:

{1} It is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens.
{2} A human fetus is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens.
{3} Therefore, it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

This argument is structurally valid. However, not all of the premises are sound. [1] It fails to demonstrate why membership inside of a species represents a significant moral boundary. Furthermore, if the argument were valid it would also have to be valid in the case of someone that has experienced upper brain death since they can also be innocent members of the species Homo sapiens. [2] Like a fetus, a human with upper brain death can also have a beating heart and many of the basic biological functions that we associate with being "alive". And once we take this scenario into consideration we can rewrite the syllogism so that it reads as follows:

{1} It is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens.
{2} A human with upper brain death is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens.
{3} Therefore, it is wrong to kill a human with upper brain death.

After we have put this alternative into the syllogism we are left with a reductio ad absurdum argument. If the biological version of the anti abortion argument were valid then this derivative would also be valid. However, it is simply nonsensical to speak of the "murder" of someone who has already experienced a permanent loss of consciousness. [3] Clearly, the first premise of the central anti abortion argument is deeply flawed. In order for us to formulate a syllogism regarding murder that is sensible we must first identify what moral principle distinguishes a normal adult human from one that has experienced upper brain death. And given the obvious differences in cognition between our two subjects the search for this principle should not be too difficult. Consequentially, this moral principle must involve some kind of reference to the mental abilities of a normal human that are not present in someone with upper brain death. From this standpoint it then becomes easy to realize that the right to life any entity can hold rests within its respective capacity for cognition. [4]

Once it becomes established that cognition is the relevant moral distinction between normal humans and those without functional upper brains many things follow, both ethically and logically. With this in mind I will introduce the proper criterion for judging the ethics of abortion later. But, for now, it will be sufficient to recognize that something can't seriously have a right to life if it lacks certain kinds of mental capacities. This recognition will then pave the way for me to create my first argument.

==========
Contention 1: A fetus doesn't have a right to life.
==========

A fetus is a member of the biological species Homo sapiens, but it is not a person. [5] It is not a rational and self-conscious being and therefore it cannot be granted the same rights that we would grant to a person. Moreover, a fetus is not capable of holding a conscious desire to continue living. Therefore, it is meaningless to speak about the "murder" of a fetus. Murder implies the unlawful killing of a person that has a conscious desire to continue living.

=========
Conclusion
=========

People have a serious right to life because they are self-conscious and are able to hold a desire to continue living. On the other hand, a fetus is not a self-conscious being nor is it capable of holding preferences one-way or the other with respect to its existence. Therefore, it is not morally wrong to kill a fetus. The fetus may be "innocent" in some sense, but this is irrelevant since it doesn't have a right to life. I will expand upon this argument later, but for now I will leave it up to Pro to present their case.

Definitions:

morality- 1. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

abortion- a. Induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the embryo or fetus.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

1st Trimester Abortions- More than 90% of all abortions are performed in the 1st trimester - up through 12 weeks.
http://www.abortion.com...

Self-consciousness is an acute sense of self-awareness. It is a preoccupation with oneself, as opposed to the philosophical state of self-awareness, which is the awareness that one exists as an individual being; although some writers use both terms interchangeably or synonymously.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Sources:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://health.howstuffworks.com...
[3]http://books.google.com...
[4] http://spot.colorado.edu...
[5] http://www.utilitarian.net...

Semantics will not be allowed. If it can be shown that either my opponent or I is taking this debate way off course by playing word games then that will count as an automatic forfeit.

Good luck to whoever accepts. :)
mongeese

Pro

Thank you, Freeman, for starting this debate.

"I will be negating the resolution that abortions are morally wrong..."
This statement implies that my opponent will be accepting the burden to negate as the Instigator [1].

A. The Biological Version of the Central Anti Abortion Argument

Through this argument, my opponent comes to the conclusion that we must use a criterion to distinguish people who suffer from upper brain death from other people to justify killing people who suffer from upper brain death. His conclusion:
"The right to life any entity can hold rests within its respective capacity for cognition."
I disagree. I think the following would be more appropriate:
"The right to life any entity can hold rests within its potentiality for future cognition."
One large counterexample to my opponent's criteria is Coma Guy [2]. People in comas lack capacity for cognition, but they have the potential for future cognition. Therefore, my opponent's criteria would make killing people who are in temporary comas morally right. This disagrees with current standards of proper conduct. Unplugging a comatose person's feeding tube is considered to be horrible, horrible conduct.
Additionally, one might lose consciousness for a matter of minutes or hours by fainting [3] or being hit on the back of the head by a large, heavy object. If a person faints, is it morally right to kill that person before he or she wakes up? Didn't think so. I wouldn't want anybody getting away with killing me while I'm unconscious like that.
Additionally, cognitive abilities are lost upon going to sleep [4]. Does this justify killing people when they're asleep? No, of course not. We'd end up with people pulling all-nighters, worrying whether or not somebody will kill them when they're least prepared to defend themselves, fearing no legal prosecutions. And then murderers would say, "Well, he was asleep, so I was allowed to kill him!"

B. Contention -1: A fetus doesn't have a right to life.

This contention relies on "person" being defined as "a rational and self-conscious being." However, as this dismisses Coma Guy, Fainting Guy, and Snoring Guy, it should be dismissed as any moral guideline.

"It is not a rational and self-conscious being and therefore it cannot be granted the same rights that we would grant to a person."
This would be rather similar to saying, "He is not white, and therefore he cannot be granted the same rights that we would grant to a white person."

"Moreover, a fetus is not capable of holding a conscious desire to continue living."
Although the desire is not conscious, it is still there. "Implantation is an event that occurs early in pregnancy in which the embryo adheres to the wall of uterus. At this stage of prenatal development, the embryo is a blastocyst" [5]. The blastocyst obviously has some natural desire to attach itself to the uterus. "At eight weeks, the baby sometimes tries to take a breath when removed from the mother. At twelve weeks, the child will often struggle for life two or three hours when removed from the mother" [6]. Again, it's trying to live.

"Murder implies the unlawful killing of a person that has a conscious desire to continue living."
Why does my opponent throw the word "conscious" in there? Murder merely implies the unlawful killing a person that has a desire to continue living. Why must this desire be conscious?

C. Contention +1: This syllogism affirms abortion to be morally wrong.

1. All religions are standards of good conduct [8].
2. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are Pro-Life [9][10].
3. Pro-Life means being in opposition to abortion [11].
4. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are in opposition to abortion. (2,3)
5. Abortion is not in accord with Catholicism and Southern Baptism. (4)
6. Abortion is not in accord with standards of good conduct.
7. Abortion is morally wrong. (6, definition of "morality")
8. The resolution is "Abortions are morally wrong." (See above)
9. The resolution is stated positively. (7,8)
10. To be affirmed means "to [be] state[d] positively." [12]
11. The resolution is affirmed. (10,11)
12. When the resolution is affirmed, the voters should vote PRO. [13]
13. The voters should vote PRO. (12,13)

D. Conclusion Analysis

"People have a serious right to life because they are self-conscious and are able to hold a desire to continue living."
Most humans have a serious right to life because they have the potential to be self-conscious in the future, and hold a desire to continue living.

"On the other hand, a fetus is not a self-conscious being nor is it capable of holding preferences one-way or the other with respect to its existence."
Nor is Coma Guy, or Fainting Guy, or Snoring Guy.

"Therefore, it is not morally wrong to kill a fetus."
This could be true only if my opponent would agree to the idea that it is not morally wrong to massacre Coma Guy, Fainting Guy, and Snoring Guy. Seeing as my opponent is quite often Snoring Guy, he probably won't.

E. Sources

1. http://ddofans.com...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
5. http://en.wikipedia.org...
6. http://www.av1611.org...
7. http://www.gargaro.com...
8. http://en.wikipedia.org...
9. http://www.prolifedallas.org...
10. http://www.nrlc.org...
11. http://en.wikipedia.org...
12. http://www.merriam-webster.com...
13. http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Con

Thank you, Mongeese, for accepting my challenge. I really do appreciate your time.

My opponent's arguments are fairly straightforward, so this debate will likely be productive. However, despite what Mongeese may imagine we both have a burden of sorts in this resolution.

*Case Con- Rebuttals*

==========
A.The Biological Version of the Central Anti Abortion Argument
==========

Subpoint 1: A Potentialities Derivation

"The right to life any entity can hold rests within its potentiality for future cognition."- Mongeese

In order to expand the biological argument against abortion Mongeese has decided to put forth a potentiality derivation of the central anti abortion argument. Though this argument may look compelling it fails upon close scrutiny.
Rights simply can't be derived from potentialities. For example, a nine year old is a potential voter that has the potential right to vote in an election. This does not mean that they have the actual right to vote. They won't have the actual right to vote until they are eighteen. [1] And this same line of critique would also apply to any being that has the potential to acquire consciousness. Potential beings simply don't have the same rights as actual beings.

There are, of course, other problems that occur if you seek to advance arguments about the importance of potentials. Given what we know about genetics every cell in the body with a nucleus has the potential to become another person with the right genetic manipulation. [2] Literally, every time you scratch your nose, you have committed a holocaust of potential human beings. [3] So, arguments from a fetus' potential aren't going to get you anywhere.

Subpoint 2: What about people that are sleeping, in a comma, or those that have fainted?

Your comparison is inapplicable. Humans are capable of self consciously considering the future. And by murdering someone that is sleeping or in a comma you are violating their preference to continue living. Therefore, people in a comma have a right to life because they have a desire to continue living even if it isn't present while they are in a comma. Moreover, a conscious adult has already acquired the capacity for cognition, and since I have shown that potentialities are irrelevant a fetus can't have a right to life because it has never been conscious.

==========
B. Contention -1: A fetus doesn't have a right to life.
==========

Subpoint 1: What about people that are sleeping, in a comma, or those that have fainted?

Mongeese makes the same mistakes here that he has made before. Allow my previous argument to carry over.

Subpoint 2: Self consciousness and rights

"It is not a rational and self-conscious being and therefore it cannot be granted the same rights that we would grant to a person." -Freeman

This would be rather similar to saying, "He is not white, and therefore he cannot be granted the same rights that we would grant to a white person." -Mongeese

The basis of this comparison stems from a false analogy because it essentially equates a fully conscious adult human with an unconscious fetus. [4] Moreover, your reasoning is also circular since it presupposes that there is no significant moral distinction between those who have a mental life and those who are incapable of having one. [5] Every normal adult human being is a person regardless of his or her skin color because they are all rational and self-conscious. This is why all different ethnicities have a right to life. A fetus, on the other hand, is not self-conscious and thus cannot have a serious right to life. Therefore, any comparison of a fetus to an adult human is bound to be invidious.

Subpoint 3: Does a fetus have a desire to live?

"Moreover, a fetus is not capable of holding a conscious desire to continue living."- Freeman
"Although the desire is not conscious, it is still there." - Mongeese

No, a fetus does not have a desire to live because it is incapable of holding any desires since it isn't conscious. Its neurology is not advanced enough for it to hold those kinds of preferences. You're mistaking a biological directive for preferences and desires. This would be like me saying that a corpse, with muscle spasms due to their Brainstem, is actually still alive. [6] Brainstems can still cause a dead body to have spasms of movement. This doesn't mean that a corpse has a desire to move.

Subpoint 4: What constitutes murder?

"Murder merely implies the unlawful killing a person that has a desire to continue living." – Mongeese

Exactly, murder can only occur with an entity that has a desire to continue living. A fetus does not have a desire to continue living and therefore it cannot have a right to life. Their neurological development prevents them from being capable of holding this desire. For once we agree.

"Why must this desire be conscious?" - Mongeese

Your right, it doesn't have to be consciously held. However, it must have been consciously held at some point. This is what distinguishes a fetus from a person. Unlike a person, a fetus has never had a conscious desire to continue living.

===========
C. Contention +1: This syllogism affirms abortion to be morally wrong.
===========

Mongeese begins his syllogism with the following premise.

1."All religions are standards of good conduct."

Not only is this premise unsupported; it is logically impossible for it to be correct.

All religions cannot simultaneously give good standards for morality because they give contradictory accounts of what constitutes good conduct. For example, some Incan religions have actively supported infanticide. [7] Therefore, my opponent's argument has logically incompatible properties, which makes it self-contradictory. [8] It is logically impossible for all religions to promote good standards of conduct because they flat out contradict each other in their claims about moral behavior. And with the destruction of the first premise the rest of the syllogism falls with it.

==============
D. Conclusion Analysis
==============

"Most humans have a serious right to life because they have the potential to be self-conscious in the future, and hold a desire to continue living."

No, humans have a right to life because they can self-consciously consider the future. They want to still be alive even if they temporarily go to sleep. This is why your analogy with the "Coma Guy, Fainting Guy, and Snoring Guy" is fallacious.

=======
Conclusion
=======

A fetus is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree. Consequently, eating a bag of acorns is not the same as destroying a forest of trees even if these acorns had all just been planted in the ground. It is therefore obvious that things don't derive rights from what they can potentially become; they derive rights from what they currently are. Mongeese denies the importance of self-consciousness in determining whether or not an entity has rights and fails to grasp the absurd implications of this denial. If my opponent's argument were valid we would have to treat blastocysts, literally undifferentiated clumps of cells, with the same kind of moral concern we give to a full grown person. [9] And because of these objections the resolution remains negated.

Sources:

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://machineslikeus.com...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[9] http://www.advancedfertility.com...

Good luck :)
mongeese

Pro

A. The Biological Version of the Central Anti Abortion Argument

1. A Potentialities Derivation

"Rights simply can't be derived from potentialities...."
My opponent's argument is that because we deny a nine-year-old the right to vote, that nine-year-old does not deserve the right to vote. Well, it just doesn't follow. We refuse to acknowledge any claim he has to vote, but he might still deserve it. However, the nine-year-old has the right to vote in the future, as does a fetus. Therefore, according to my opponent, because fetuses are not yet conscious, they do not have the right to eventually become conscious. There isn't even a real analogy here.

"Potential beings simply don't have the same rights as actual beings."
And why not? Why must a dividing line be made?

"Given what we know about genetics every cell in the body with a nucleus has the potential to become another person with the right genetic manipulation...."
My opponent's first source is just the bottom of a Wiki page, giving no information whatsoever about anything. If there's anything there, it's in another link, and I'm not searching through them. My opponent's source actually says exactly what my opponent is saying. However, the source gives no further insight into this statement. My opponent's source is just a random guy's blog, which gives no sources. Blogs are not proper sources for science. It's about as reliable as this site [1], claiming that the world will end on 2012. Yeah, right.

2. Coma Guy, Fainting Guy, and Snoring Guy

"Your comparison is inapplicable. Humans are capable of self consciously considering the future."
Not the above three.
"And by murdering someone that is sleeping or in a comma you are violating their preference to continue living."
Coma Guy has no preferences.
"Therefore, people in a comma have a right to life because they have a desire to continue living even if it isn't present while they are in a comma."
They have a desire, even if they don't? What? That doesn't make any sense.

"Moreover, a conscious adult has already acquired the capacity for cognition..."
Expound on that. This statement alone gets you nowhere.
"...and since I have shown that potentialities are irrelevant..."
With a blog? No.
"...a fetus can't have a right to life because it has never been conscious.
So now a fetus CAN'T have a right to life? My opponent has never connected consciousness with the right to life. At all.

B. Contention -1: A fetus doesn't have a right to life.

1. Refutations above.

2. My opponent claims that I use a false analogy. "In false analogies, though A and B may be similar in one respect (such as color) they may not share property X (e.g. size)." [2] My opponent connects my analogy to false analogies by saying, "it essentially equates a fully conscious adult human with an unconscious fetus." That doesn't have anything to do with anything. It does not make my analogy false.

"Moreover, your reasoning is also circular since it presupposes that there is no significant moral distinction between those who have a mental life and those who are incapable of having one."
There is none, until you can establish it.

"A fetus, on the other hand, is not self-conscious and thus cannot have a serious right to life."
My opponent again falsely assumes that self-consciousness is the requirement for a serious right to life.

3. Does a fetus have a desire to live?

"You're mistaking a biological directive for preferences and desires."
Can you give a reason as to why a biological directive is not a biological desire by the body to live?

"This would be like me saying that a corpse, with muscle spasms due to their Brainstem, is actually still alive."
My opponent's only source for this statement is a Wikipedia article on the brainstem. However, "muscle spasm" appears nowhere on the entire page. This is nothing short of hilarious. Disregard all statements made by my opponent concerning muscle spasms until he can actually source them properly.

4. What constitutes murder?

"A fetus does not have a desire to continue living and therefore it cannot have a right to life."
Its biological directive gives it a desire to continue living. It is similar to Snoring Guy. Snoring Guy has no conscious desire to continue living, but the body is still keeping itself alive [3].

"Your right, it doesn't have to be consciously held. However, it must have been consciously held at some point."
And why must it have been consciously upheld at some point?

C. Contention +1: This syllogism affirms abortion to be morally wrong.

First, I must apologize that I need to edit my syllogism. Edits will be in asterisks. Sources from Round 1 will be marked by #.

*1. Christianity is a standard of good conduct. [4]*
*2. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are branches of Christianity. [5][6]*
*3. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are standards of good conduct. (Substitution,1,2)*
4. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are Pro-Life. [#9][#10]
5. Pro-Life means being in opposition to abortion [#11].
6. Catholicism and Southern Baptism are in opposition to abortion. (4,5)
7. Abortion is not in accord with Catholicism and Southern Baptism. (6)
8. Abortion is not in accord with standards of good conduct. *(Substitution,3,7)*
9. Abortion is morally wrong. (8, definition of "morality")
The rest is essentially the same, with different numbers.

My opponent has dropped all statements in this syllogism besides those noted by asterisks and the only one he contends, although it has been removed:

"Not only is this premise unsupported..."
From the Wikipedia page I sourced:
"Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief..."
Moral code, according to Wikipedia [7], is "a code of conduct or belief concerning matters of what is moral or immoral."
Because I know that my opponent is going to leap on the "often" part, I used a new source.

"...it is logically impossible for it to be correct."
Wrong.

"All religions cannot simultaneously give good standards for morality..."
My opponent misplaces the word "good."
"All religions are standards of good conduct."
"All religions are good standards of conduct."
See the difference? This difference is what makes my opponent's entire argument after it invalid. Of course, I've already replaced it with a more easily sourced "Christianity is a standard of conduct."

D. Conclusion Analysis - Round 1

"No, humans have a right to life because they can self-consciously consider the future."
Oh, really? And the ability to self-consciously consider the future is the dividing line for the right to life because...?

"They want to still be alive even if they temporarily go to sleep."
A fetus wants to be alive even when it hasn't reached consciousness.

E. Conclusion Analysis - Round 2

My opponent makes an analogy with oak trees, although we feel no moral duty towards oak trees in the slightest. I don't know what he's trying to get at here.

"It is therefore obvious that things don't derive rights from what they can potentially become; they derive rights from what they currently are."
Actually, I would treat the acorns as I would the oak trees.

"If my opponent's argument were valid we would have to treat blastocysts, literally undifferentiated clumps of cells, with the same kind of moral concern we give to a full grown person."
My opponent wishes to discriminate against blastocysts because they don't have as many cells as we do.

Good luck in your final round, Freeman.

1. http://www.december212012.com...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://library.timelesstruths.org...
5. http://en.wikipedia.org...
6. http://en.wikipedia.org...
7. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Con

Let me begin by thanking Mongeese for agreeing to debate with me.

===========
A. The Biological Version of the Central Anti Abortion Argument
===========

1. A Potentialities Derivation

"My opponent's argument is that because we deny a nine-year-old the right to vote, that nine-year-old does not deserve the right to vote."

I argue no such thing. The point of the analogy isn't to demonstrate that nine year olds should or should not be allowed to vote. The point is to demonstrate that potential beings don't have the same rights as actual beings. The nine-year old will gain the right to vote when they turn 18. Likewise, the fetus will gain a right to life when it becomes a person. You've simply misunderstood the analogy. Given their respective conditions the nine-year old doesn't have a right to vote and a fetus doesn't have a right to life.

If your reasoning were valid then infants should be given the right to vote since a beings potential distinguishes its claim to rights. If you agree that infants should not be given the right to vote then you concede the basis of my argument. A creatures potential is not what determines its rights.

2. Coma Guy, Fainting Guy, and Snoring Guy

"Coma Guy has no preferences."- Mongeese

This is false. Comma guy was once conscious and had the desire to keep living. Like all humans, comma guy had the capacity to envision the future and his preference to continue living in that future is what establishes his right to life when he is temporarily unconscious. Your entire argument in this area is fallacious.

3. Genetic manipulation

My source wasn't just from some "random guy's blog". It was a typed excerpt of a lecture given by Sam Harris, a neuroscientist. [1]-[2] He has just as much authority to speak on matters concerning cognition and genetics as Stephen Hawking does to speak about cosmology. I know you love using false analogies, but they don't work. [3] Sam is an academic; he's not some crackpot that's predicting the end of the world. Besides, It's common knowledge that the genetic manipulation of a cell can create a human. Different cells develop into the different organisms that give rise to a human. [4] We all start off as one cell and those cells multiply until they eventually become a blastocyst. [5]

===========
B.Contention -1: A fetus doesn't have a right to life.
===========

"My opponent claims that I use a false analogy."- Mongeese

Comparing a conscious adult to an unconscious fetus is a false analogy. My assertion remains standing.

3. Does a fetus have a desire to live?

A body cannot hold a desire unless it contains consciousness. I've already told you that unconscious bodies can spasm. This doesn't mean they have a desire to move. Furthermore, it's common knowledge that brainstems can cause dead bodies to spasm. But, if you want more information here it is. [6]

4. What constitutes murder?

A desire to continue living must be consciously held at some point because potentialities are irrelevant. Once a human acquires a conscious desire to live it attains a right to life, because it can desire to continue living.

===========
C.Contention +1: This syllogism affirms abortion to be morally wrong.
===========

As a result of my previous criticism my opponent abandons his first syllogism and decides to rework it. However, it fails for the exact same reasons that the first one failed.

"1. Christianity is a standard of good conduct."

For the moment, let us set aside the fact that this assertion goes unsupported and is therefore unsound. Like its predecessor, it is logically impossible for this premise to be correct.

Christianity cannot give a universal standard of good conduct because different branches of Christianity give contradictory accounts of what constitutes good conduct. For example, some branches of Christianity are actually pro choice. [7] Therefore, my opponent's argument has logically incompatible properties, which makes it self-contradictory. [8] And, just as before, this criticism renders the entire syllogism invalid.

===========
D.Conclusion Analysis - Round 1
===========

"No, humans have a right to life because they can self-consciously consider the future."-Freeman
Oh, really? And the ability to self-consciously consider the future is the dividing line for the right to life because...?- Mongeese

It's a significant dividing line because people don't want to be murdered when they faint or go to sleep. Humans are capable of envisioning themselves as existing over time and they can plan for the future. Therefore, by murdering someone that is sleeping you are denying them their right continue living and disregarding their future desires.

"A fetus wants to be alive even when it hasn't reached consciousness."

Mongeese, a fetus doesn't want anything, because it can't want anything. Their neurological makeup prevents them from being able to desire anything. It's very important that you understand this. Consciousness is a prerequisite for holding any actual desires, and since a fetus doesn't have consciousness it can't hold any preferences. Therefore, it cannot hold a right to life.

===========
E.Conclusion Analysis - Round 2
===========

--> "My opponent makes an analogy with oak trees, although we feel no moral duty towards oak trees in the slightest. I don't know what he's trying to get at here."

You've really misunderstood the analogy. I'm not arguing that we have moral responsibilities to oak trees. Even though an acorn is a potential oak tree it does not have the same properties as an actual oak tree. And even though a fetus is a potential person it doesn't have the same properties as an actual person.

If I were to go into a wildlife reserve and cut down 1000 oak trees that would be a serious crime. However, eating 1000 acorns is not the equivalent to destroying oak trees even though an acorn is a potential tree. Do you get where I'm going with this?

-->"My opponent wishes to discriminate against blastocysts because they don't have as many cells as we do."

Now, this is getting a bit silly. You can't "discriminate" against something that doesn't have any rights. A blastocyst is comprised of a cluster of cells arranged in a sphere. [9]-[10] They are utterly incapable of having any conscious thoughts whatsoever. As I have shown earlier, if we disregard consciousness as an important factor in determining who gets a right to life we would have to give brain dead humans a right to life. And this is simply an absurd outcome of my opponent's position. Consciousness establishes a right to life.

=======
Conclusion
=======

Throughout the course of this debate Mongeese has continuously confused biological directives with conscious desires and has failed to deliver any compelling argument of his own. Consciousness is necessary to hold a desire to live and without it an entity can't have a right to life. Furthermore, the arguments he has put forward can be shown to be fallacious. Potentials can't establish someone's right to vote any more than they can establish an unconscious being's right to life. Therefore, the outcome of this debate should be clear. (Vote Con)

Sources:

[1] http://www.reasonproject.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...(author)
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...(biology)
[5] http://departments.weber.edu...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[9] http://forums.timesdaily.com...
[10] http://www.medterms.com...

Side note: Follow the first link for sources [2] and [4]. They're acting strange.

Good luck, Mongeese. :)
mongeese

Pro

Thank you for this debate, Freeman.

A. The Biological Version of the Central Anti Abortion Argument

1. A Potentialities Derivation

My opponent assumes that if some rights are based on potentiality, then all rights must be based on potentiality. This is an unsupported assumption.

My opponent also assumes that a potential being must have every right that what it will become would have if my logic is correct. However, the only right we're discussing is the right to life, which I say belong to fetuses, being human and potential people. The right to vote is a right that is earned over time. My opponent fails to differentiate the two.

2. Coma Guy, Fainting Guy, and Snoring Guy

"This is false. Comma guy was once conscious and had the desire to keep living.... his preference to continue living in that future is what establishes his right to life when he is temporarily unconscious."
Notice how everything Freeman said was in the past tense except the sudden claim that he has preferences. Well, just because he had preferences doesn't mean he has them anymore. Big difference.

"Your entire argument in this area is fallacious."
You're going to need to support that claim a bit better than this.

3. Genetic Manipulation

It's nice and all that Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, but even he should cite his sources. We can't take anything said by a scientist as fact, because scientists often disagree. For example, they currently disagree over global warming [1]. If one tells you it's caused by humans, and the other disagrees, they can't both be right. We'd go with whoever gave reason for his argument. In the case of Sam Harris, there is no evidence or reason, but just statement.

My opponent again claims I use false analogies, but I already explained why false analogies are not what he thinks they are.

He then claims that we are disputing over "common knowledge." Well, thanks for poisoning the well. However, this "common knowledge" still doesn't seem to be very well sourced.

"Different cells develop into the different organisms that give rise to a human."
Sure.

"We all start off as one cell and those cells multiply until they eventually become a blastocyst."
However, that is one specific type of cell, a zygote. Your argument originally was that "every cell in the body with a nucleus has the potential to become another person with the right genetic manipulation." This has not been supported in the slightest.

B. Contention -1: A fetus doesn't have a right to life.

My opponent claims that comparing two different things (conscious adult, unconscious fetus) is a false analogy. Well, all analogies compare two different things. My opponent's accusation is ridiculous.

3. Desire to Live

"A body cannot hold a desire unless it contains consciousness."
This statement is not backed by anything.

As for the rigor mortis, this is just a side effect of death caused by complete accident in the body with no intentions. It can be compared to a panic attack. In a panic attack, one does things without desiring to. However, a blastocyst's actions are deliberate attempts to grow.

4. What constitutes murder?

I've already explained why potentialities are relevant, and why a desire need not be conscious.

C. Contention +1: This syllogism affirms abortion to be morally wrong.

"For the moment, let us set aside the fact that this assertion goes unsupported and is therefore unsound."
My source explained the standard of good conduct for Christianity. It is supported, and therefore sound.

"Like its predecessor, it is logically impossible for this premise to be correct."
My opponent makes the same error as he does with the original syllogism. He fails to make a distinction between "standard of good conduct" and "good standard of conduct."

"Christianity cannot give a universal standard of good conduct..."
Suddenly, the word "universal" is thrown in, with no relevance and no purpose.

"...different branches of Christianity give contradictory accounts of what constitutes good conduct."
This is completely irrelevant to attempting to disprove Christianity having standards of good conduct. In fact, it only supports it.

My opponent has already conceded the rest of my syllogism to be logically sound, so according to the syllogism, because Christianity is a standard of good conduct, the voters should vote PRO.

D. Conclusion Analysis - Round 1

"It's a significant dividing line because people don't want to be murdered when they faint or go to sleep."
Nor do fetuses.

"By murdering someone that is sleeping you are denying them their right continue living and disregarding their future desires."
By murdering a fetus that is developing you are denying it its right to continue living and disregarding its future desires.
That actually mirrored better than I thought it would.

"Consciousness is a prerequisite for holding any actual desires..."
Then why does the blastocyst try to survive? This is an assumption, and only an assumption.

E. Conclusion Analysis - Round 2

"And even though a fetus is a potential person it doesn't have the same properties as an actual person."
That doesn't even help your case.

"If I were to go into a wildlife reserve and cut down 1000 oak trees that would be a serious crime."
This is not because cutting down 1000 oak trees is immoral, but because the wildlife reserve and the environment own those oak trees, and you would be committing property damage [2].
"However, eating 1000 acorns is not the equivalent to destroying oak trees even though an acorn is a potential tree."
That is only because you bought the acorns to eat. If you didn't, you'd be under arrest anyway. And the reason people are more concerned about their oak trees is because they are investments for the lumber industry, and killing an oak tree would result in all of the nutrients and water than went into growing it for the lumber industry being wasted. An acorn still has value. And this entire thing doesn't even apply to humans, as they are not private property.

"You can't 'discriminate' against something that doesn't have any rights."
Circular reasoning [3]. The only reason you don't recognize the rights of blastocysts is because you're discriminating against them when considering what can have rights.

"...if we disregard consciousness as an important factor in determining who gets a right to life we would have to give brain dead humans a right to life."
Brain-dead humans don't have the potential to recover consciousness, which is the reason why they are killed. Otherwise, we'd keep them alive. My opponent is trying to thrust unnecessary burdens upon my position.

F. Conclusion Analysis - Round 3

"Mongeese has continuously confused biological directives with conscious desires..."
No, I said that biological directives are unconscious desires, not conscious desires. I never said directives were conscious. Get your facts straight.
"...and has failed to deliver any compelling argument of his own."
My syllogism and my criterion for determining the right to life still stand.
"Consciousness is necessary to hold a desire to live..."
No, it is only necessary for a conscious desire, not an unconscious one.
"...and without it an entity can't have a right to life."
Doesn't even follow.
"Furthermore, the arguments he has put forward can be shown to be fallacious."
Then show them to be fallacious. It's not the voter's job.
"Potentials can't establish someone's right to vote any more than they can establish an unconscious being's right to life."
Exactly. The right to life is the only one established by potentials.

In conclusion, fetuses have the right to life as potential humans, and my soundproof syllogism says that you should vote PRO.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 3
124 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Yoyo 4 years ago
Yoyo
I may be wrong when I say this, but has anyone ever considered this subject from the parents' point of view? I have read through the entire argument, but the only thing I found both sides concentrating on is the fetus.
Has anyone ever considered the fact that there may be very sound reasons for the parents' to go through with the abortion? Not all parents can afford to raise a child, and not all children are products of love and the desire to have a child (i.e. rape).
So if a child is born in the above circumstances, it is more than likely that they would not be offered the sufficient quality of living and it would only add to the number of people suffering in this world.
Is it really the best decision to stop abortions?
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
lol @ thinking that the constitutional mess of Roe vs. Wade is any sane argument for a right.
Posted by yayawhatever 7 years ago
yayawhatever
Voltar143 said:It is funny for you to say things like developing child with the word "CHILD" all over your statement, why not call it a weird thing instead of using the word child or human.

I say: I dont use the word child in reference to abortion anymore than I'd use the term grandparent. If I ever did use the word *child*, I was quoting someone else.
Lungless boneless entities are not children
Posted by Voltar143 7 years ago
Voltar143
A pregnant woman or a father who choose to abort a child HAS proceded and done an abortion even if they are not the medical doctor who is doing it.

It is funny for you to say things like developing child with the word "CHILD" all over your statement, why not call it a weird thing instead of using the word child or human.

If a doctor replace a human fetus with a whale fetus is not the same and the fetus or/and a woman would probably die.
I can easily say a primodial soup in evolution is not a living thing and the mindless universe should have stop that initial life from developing so there will be no living ANYTHING.
Posted by yayawhatever 7 years ago
yayawhatever
Voltar143 said: What is your right to choose?
I say: See: Roe v Wade

Voltar143 said: Do you have a right to kill, a right to perform abortion in an illegal abortion state
I say: I'm not in the medical field, I dont perform abortions or any other medical procedures

Voltar143 said: You can do whatever indeed, but you are not giving somebody the same rights and a chance to live(developing child)
I say: an embryo is not a developing child, its a potential child. A developing child is a child that is developing. you skipped a few stages of development there.

Voltar143 said: Ignorance can get you in trouble
I say: I completely agree that ignorance can get a person in trouble.
Posted by Voltar143 7 years ago
Voltar143
Ignorance can get you in trouble knowingly or unknowingly, unfortunately, despite of whatever is your beliefs.
Posted by Voltar143 7 years ago
Voltar143
What is your right to choose? Do you have a right to kill, a right to perform abortion in an illegal abortion state? Does your words and efforts have any meaning if you are just gonna die soon anyway? Do i care and find out meanings about your words if it is meaningless in the end anyways?

You do have the right to choose despite otherwise, but why is it all meaningless in the end? You can do whatever indeed, but you are not giving somebody the same rights and a chance to live(developing child) If you did so as an example. Do you see the logic? Or are you still thinking otherwise.
Posted by yayawhatever 7 years ago
yayawhatever
Voltar143 said: you wanna get smart with me? I give you something to swallow.
I said: Please be more specific
Voltar143 then said: How's this for specific, when you die, you are nothing, and all of your opinons, works, etc. is futile and ultimately at the end of human race even the universe is worthlessness forever if there is no God. Go ahead and say anything worthless and meaningless on and on, ill just fart and yawn about all of it.

To that, I say: Hmm, I didnt know "I'll give u something to swallow" was slang for " when u die, you are nothing...go ahead and say anything worthless and meaningless, I'll just fart and yawn"

Curious, do you hate women? You're very emotional and far from logical on the choice you will never ever make. You resort to weird personal attacks and really have nothing to say about my right to choose. Why is that?
Posted by Voltar143 7 years ago
Voltar143
How's this for specific, when you die, you are nothing, and all of your opinons, works, etc. is futile and ultimately at the end of human race even the universe is worthlessness forever if there is no God. Go ahead and say anything worthless and meaningless on and on, ill just fart and yawn about all of it.
Posted by yayawhatever 7 years ago
yayawhatever
Voltar143 said:
you wanna get smart with me? I give you something to swallow.

I say: Please be more specific
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