The Instigator
dannyc
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
theta_pinch
Con (against)
Winning
4 Points

Infanticide is morally permissible.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
theta_pinch
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/14/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,045 times Debate No: 43924
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (2)

 

dannyc

Pro

I am re-sending this because my last attempt ended with no Con proposals. I am serious about this topic and want a serious opponent please. This will be a debate primarily on Infanticide but also on the case for abortion.

The debate has to focus on the morality of infanticide.

I am opening the debate, so Con I would prefer if he/she accepts and gives her argument, and then on the last round they do not write anything, I believe that evens out the responses.

So usual rules apply,

Round 1.

Accept/argument for con.

Round 2.

My opening/Con rebuttal.

Round 3.

My rebuttal/Con conclusion

Round 4.

My conclusion/null.

Lets keep openings free from rebuttal obviously, that applies to me not my opponent and conclusions cannot raise completely new arguments, only address and conclude.

Discuss in comments.
theta_pinch

Con

I will make my case on the basis of human rights (which come from morality).

HUMAN RIGHTS:
The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.

HUMAN: A member of the genus Homo and especially of the species H. sapiens.

An Infant is a member of the species H. Sapiens.

Therefore a human infant is entitled to human rights, and because those rights include life; infanticide is immoral.

The same can be said about a fetus in the case of abortion; it is a member of the species H. Sapiens and therefore is entitled to human rights which makes abortion immoral.

CONCLUSION
Infanticide and abortion are immoral because of the human right to life which comes from ideas of morality.
Debate Round No. 1
dannyc

Pro

Setting the stage

Firstly, I will not be addressing anything Con said in this round, this is my opening round. So I will talk about my views but also if my views challenge Con's arguments, he must address them.

The belief humans have a 'right to life' is simply a null statement. It is an assertion that holds no weight because it in itself is just a strongly held cultural belief stemming from the more general term humanity has a 'right to life' or 'sanctity of human right'. The existence of laws and codes which confirm a hypothesis of 'right to life' is again not a moral justification, so the fact humans are alive does not confer the concept of a moral 'right' to that life.

So, the primary argument for a right to life, is simply that a right to life has been a cultural and religious belief, I say that in reference to the Christian religion of life being 'sacred'. I reject this notion, we are not in any way 'sacred' or 'holy' which elevates us to a level of 'right' to life. The human species is as most people know, a product of evolutionary theory. We are exactly like all other animals, there exists no real moral difference in terms of 'holiness' between us and animals . So how do we approach the ethical principles of normative ethics. I want to support the theory of Peter Singer, the moral philosopher and Ethicist.

Philosophical ethical principles

Under Singer's views, we have a justified reason to talk about 'third person objective equality for all interests'. For Singer and also a moral philosopher called R.M Hare. A moral statement cannot be justified unless it can be objectified by a third party statement. An example is

1. It is wrong of my friends to not give me money.

This is an unacceptable moral principle because it (a) is too personalised and (b) it unless objectified displays a lack of regard for 'equal respect for all interests'. A better way to form this is

2. It is morally wrong for someone to not give another person money.

Now pick apart the example all you like, it is not relevant in terms of context but rather in terms of form. So with this principle let us look at what it means, it means all animals have invested interests that cannot be divided or isolated for what Singer calls 'morally insignificant qualities'. That is qualities which violate the principle of 'equal respect for all interests'. Two examples will explain this.

1. It is morally wrong to discriminate based on skin colour.

2. It is morally wrong to discriminate based on species.

The second is intuitively objectionable, at least based on conventional elevation of human interest over animals, but this violates the third party objective view and also violates the principle of 'equal respect for all interests'. So combined with knowledge of humans being morally equal to all others and the fact that humans are morally 'un-divine', they are evolved primates, we can base our ethical theories on sound reasonable concepts and reject very questionable assertions of 'rights' or 'innate importance or superiority' over animals, but also against 'morally insignificant qualities'. This includes a 'right to life'.

Preference Utilitarianism

Now, I am a preference Utilitarian, the previous two main concepts are compatible and strengthen the normative ethical theory. A Utilitarian as the father of Utilitarianism puts it ' The question is not, 'Can they reason?' nor, 'Can they talk?' but rather, 'Can they suffer?'. The principle of Utilitarianism is to act in a manner in which out of all possible circumstances it is morally right to act in a way in which you increase happiness or pleasure while lowering or reducing all suffering. So we can combine the two new principles and say.

1. All beings that are capable of suffering have an interest in not suffering, therefore any action which violates their right is morally wrong.

I will detail my views on 'rights'. Now in this respect we must note that Infanticide does not mean the being must suffer. An action that causes suffering is morally wrong, so we can firstly put that in front of our ethical views, if by the end of the logic we find a morally acceptable act, that can only be actualised through violence or suffering, we must reject the action. So a Utilitarian now has a solid basis to move onto actual ethical problems. Let us move onto the point of 'the life of a human being'.

We have already shown that referencing human life over others is unethical, it is also an assertion that humans have an innate right to life. What is an infant therefore? I can fully accept the view that an infant is an innocent human being. If by human being as Singer notes we mean a being belonging to the species Homo sapiens. So we accept the view that an infant is an innocent human being, is there a reason we should not kill it? Well no, the preference Utilitarian is struggling to find valid reasons so far, now let us look at why it is morally wrong to kill human adults, and see if the criterion can be applied to our new born infant.

Tooley's desires/rights

The moral philosopher Michael Tooley, describes what I would call a rights/desires thesis, which I think perfectly combines the concepts of human rights to life, if we mean Tooley's definition and also a good justification for Infanticide. Tooley argues that for any right to be violated, a conscious desire has to exist in the being which the right is being violated. Let us take an example to show this view. I go and buy a car. The car has been paid for by me and this gives me a justified right to keep the car. I desire to keep this car and my desire is both justified and also it would cause immense unhappiness to steal the car. Now if you do steal the car, under preference Utilitarianism, which as the name sounds values justified preferences of beings, you do a morally condemnable thing. You violate my right or desire to the car. Now what happens if I do not desire the car anymore? Let us say that I reject the car a year later. I give up my justified right or desire to own the car. If you then come along and take the car, you have not violated any right or desire or harmed or caused me unhappiness for two reasons.

1. I gave up the justified desire or right.

2. My desire was not violated therefore I cannot be said to be wronged.

This general view should be kept in mind in reference to later points on the rights to life of an infant.
Locke's personhood theory

John Locke the philosopher proposed the view that a 'person' is a being which can consider itself as living and existing. It has an awareness of itself and existing both in the past and future. A being which can do that is a 'person'. We see that a baby cannot be a person, no more than a plant or fetus can be a person. A new born infant lacks all ability to know itself as existing as an individual entity, with hopes, desires and needs. I mean needs in the sense of conceptual needs or wants or plans, not needs as in hunger and thirst. So we have two conclusions from this reasonable view of personhood.
1. Infants are not persons.

2 Many non-human animals are persons.

This alone is simply an acknowledgement of the logic of the argument.

Conclusion

The conclusion therefore is under Tooley's rights/desires arguments and Locke's personhood views, an infant does not have the capabilities to desire. The infant has no self-conscious awareness of existing in any form so it is holds no desire to continue living. It is therefore morally permissible to kill an infant in the desires of the parents are so because the infant has no right to life as logically seen nor does the infant have any interest in existing into the future.

Anticipated refutation.

If you were to say 'the infant has the potential to be a self conscious being', the response would be 'I have the potential to become the president' but that does not mean I therefore get the rights of the president. So this type of argument would fail to refute the above argument.

Sources

Singer, Peter 'Practical Ethics 2nd Edition'

Tooley, Michael 'Abortion and Infanticide' article

Locke, John 'theory of personal Identity'

Bentham, Jeremy (1789). The Principles of Morals and Legislation
theta_pinch

Con

The belief humans have a 'right to life' is simply a null statement. It is an assertion that holds no weight because it in itself is just a strongly held cultural belief stemming from the more general term humanity has a 'right to life' or 'sanctity of human right'. The existence of laws and codes which confirm a hypothesis of 'right to life' is again not a moral justification, so the fact humans are alive does not confer the concept of a moral 'right' to that life.

A moral is actually a commonly held cultural belief on what is right and wrong. Since not killing innocent people is a commonly held cultural belief it IS a moral in which case infanticide is morally wrong because it's the murder of an innocent human.
Debate Round No. 2
dannyc

Pro

I extend all my arguments and my original opening refutes Con's position.

'A moral is actually a commonly held cultural belief on what is right and wrong. Since not killing innocent people is a commonly held cultural belief it IS a moral in which case infanticide is morally wrong because it's the murder of an innocent human.'

'A moral is a commonly held cultural belief'

So what? That is like writing, 'believing the earth is flat was a commonly held cultural belief, it does literally nothing for your case apart from saying 'infanticide is not a common cultural belief'. My arguments have not been dealt with.

'Since not killing innocent people is a commonly held cultural belief it IS a moral'

No, not all beliefs are

(a) Morals

(b) automatically accepted.

Like I wrote earlier belief in a flat earth was a common cultural belief, and for more contemporary uses of the examples 'Young Earth Creationism' is a cultural belief pertaining to certain groups. That does not then mean it is a 'moral' whatever that is supposed to imply nor does it mean it is true. Simply pointing to common held views means nothing in this debate.

'because it's the murder of an innocent human.'

I already went into detail to explain why it is not wrong to kill innocent human beings. Con basically rephrases his opening, I have no need to go back over his opening because I would just be repeating my objections. So far Con's position has been shaken by the lack of reasons and arguments but rather assertions he makes. My arguments have not even been touched. So I extend all my arguments.
theta_pinch

Con

Pro agrees that killing conscious, sentient beings is morally wrong so now I will prove that an infant is a conscious, sentient being.

SENTIENT: able to perceive or feel things--Merriam-Webster dictionary

So first we have to ask can an infant percieve and feel things. Well an infant has fully developed senses; it can hear, see, feel, smell, and taste. The infant has a nervous system so it can feel things; so we can conclude the baby is sentient.

CONSCIOUS:
aware of something (such as a fact or feeling) : knowing that something exists or is happening--Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Well an infant although it can't comprehend its surroundings IS aware of them and can respond to external stimuli so we can conclude the infant is conscious.

CONCLUSION
An infant is both conscious ad sentient and therefore it is morally wrong to kill the infant. An infant can also feel pain so killing it for no reason is also morally wrong.


Debate Round No. 3
dannyc

Pro

'Pro agrees that killing conscious, sentient beings is morally wrong so now I will prove that an infant is a conscious, sentient being.'

No, that was not my argument. My argument was a being of self-consciousness with a desire to live on is the criterion for not killing. Con has simply taken my position and blown it out of proportion and failed to understand the details of it. I argued for the non-killing of beings which can in themselves know they exist as that is a criterion for personhood. Con doesn't understand this point.

So first we have to ask can an infant percieve and feel things. Well an infant has fully developed senses; it can hear, see, feel, smell, and taste. The infant has a nervous system so it can feel things; so we can conclude the baby is sentient.

An infant definitely cannot 'perceive' things in any way which supports my definition. It totally cannot know itself, or know its past or future or even think in a rational manner. The ability to 'taste, touch, smell are nothing more than functional by-products of biological systems, not anything near the standard I propose. So Con has not understand my criterion and believes that I propose anything that can 'feel' is self-conscious. This is totally false, again note my above argument for the details and elaboration. When I write 'infanticide is morally permissible' I do not mean to write in every single case we can do what we please to infants. I already explained the details and roles of parents wishes and also other aspects, my case was

(a) An infant has no right to life.

(b) Killing infants can be morally permissible in most cases.

(c) Infanticide can be encouraged, I won't detail this point.

'CONSCIOUS: aware of something (such as a fact or feeling) : knowing that something exists or is happening--Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Well an infant although it can't comprehend its surroundings IS aware of them and can respond to external stimuli so we can conclude the infant is conscious.'

Totally beside the point of anything I have written. Being able to 'respond to stimuli' is not equal to being able to know yourself and your future with desires and belief.

'CONCLUSION
An infant is both conscious ad sentient and therefore it is morally wrong to kill the infant. An infant can also feel pain so killing it for no reason is also morally wrong.'

Being able to feel pain does not mean it is morally wrong for it to kill it, it simply means the animal or being has an interest in not feeling pain. No other ideas can be extrapolated from that. So at the very most an infant's only interests are food/water and not feeling pain, not of these require as the right to life requires a 'desire/right' concept but simply an interest/biological need.

Con doesn't understand my arguments and still attempts a very poor straw-man. Con now has to leave the last area vacant as he should have held a conclusion in the third round.
theta_pinch

Con

So I'm not supposed to write anything here?
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
Well, that was nonsense.
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
It is not 'hypothetical' it is a stance many philosophers and others accept. I accept it and the word eugenics has its own bias. The debate is about what was debated, not the comment section.
Posted by Kreakin 2 years ago
Kreakin
These comments have severely biased the debate. Pro now sounds like he is pro Eugenics and has moved away from a hypothetical philosophical stance.
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
No, not really. A painless death does not cause suffering.
Posted by theta_pinch 2 years ago
theta_pinch
doesn't death count as suffering?
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
They could, but it doesn't matter really. The baby has no preferences apart from not suffering.
Posted by theta_pinch 2 years ago
theta_pinch
If it was unwanted they could just set it up for adoption.
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
Any scenario is extreme, if it is unwanted or severly disabled, or even slightly disabled and the parents want to go for another child then yes. I would say that infanticide is fine, even encouragable.

See infants have no right to life nor do they desire to live. Killing them is not as bad as killing an adult.
Posted by theta_pinch 2 years ago
theta_pinch
Do you seriously believe it's okay to kill an infant in any scenario?
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
Yeah, almost every instance is it morally permissable. Especially when the child is severly handicapped. I made my entire argument already.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by imsmarterthanyou98 2 years ago
imsmarterthanyou98
dannyctheta_pinchTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Since not killing innocent people is a commonly held cultural belief it IS a moral in which case infanticide is morally wrong because it's the murder of an innocent human. Went unrefuted.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 2 years ago
funwiththoughts
dannyctheta_pinchTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro does not provide any evidence to support his assertion that an infant has no will to live or that it has no desires, and I find this statement highly questionable; however, the Con does not contest this statement and as such he indirectly agrees to the claim, therefore leaving him without argument.