The Instigator
PossieTV
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
philochristos
Pro (for)
Tied
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The Morality of Abortion

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/3/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 608 times Debate No: 86012
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
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PossieTV

Con

This debate will center around the question, "At what point in a human pregnancy is abortion acceptable if at all?". I will be taking a conservative position on the pro-life movement. My assertion is that life begins at conception and at no point in a pregnancy is abortion acceptable.

Rules
--------
1. Be mature and professional
2. Use the terms pro-life movement and pro-choice movement (Use of terms like pro-abortion, anti-abortion, anti-life, etc is unnecessary and could be considered ad-hominem)
3. No spamming
4. Define terms that you use. Both sides must agree on definitions. (If a definition is challenged the challenger must state why)
5. By accepting the debate, you agree to the definitions of the terms below

Round Configuration
------------------------------
Round 1: Acceptance / Definition of position
Round 2: Opening arguments (no rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Defense
Round 5: Closing statements

Definitions
----------------
Abortion: the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy
Fetus: an unborn offspring of a mammal, in particular an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception.
Conception: When the sperm fertilizes the egg

I look forward to a good fun debate. Good luck to the pro!
philochristos

Pro

I am pro-life, but I want to play devil's advocate in this debate because I want to run an argument by my opponent and see how he will respond to it.

I will argue that an individual human life does not begin at conception. I will not take a hard position on when exactly it begins. I think it will be enough to negate my opponent's position if I can show that life does not begin at conception because that will show there is at least some point during pregnancy in which abortion is morally permissible, however short that period of time may be.

Maybe the odds be ever in your favor!
Debate Round No. 1
PossieTV

Con

(Oh shoot, I am now realizing I changed the debate structure to five rounds in the round one text but not in the settings so we will have to combine our defense and closing statements into round four. Sorry pro)

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent philochristos. I always admire when someone can argue for a position that they may not personally take. It shows not only an exceptional understanding of the subject, but also a great deal of maturity. With that said, let us begin.

Definition(s)
------------------
I believe: A statement meaning that I personally believe something to be an objective truth (as opposed to stating my mere opinion).
Terminating: end the existence of
Law of Biogenesis: the law that states that every living thing reproduces after its own kind.
Zygote: a fertilized ovum
Biologically alive: A living organism
Order: Complex organization
Stimuli: any drug, agent, electrical impulse, or other factor able to cause a response in an organism. [4]
Homeostasis: Maintaining internal conditions
Personhood: Inherent value that all humans have.

I believe that the abortion debate is centered around only one question: "What is the unborn?" As philosopher Greg Koukl puts it, "If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate." [1] I believe this to mean that if a fetus is in fact a living human being, then terminating that fetus would be murder which I believe to be an objective evil. If the fetus is not a human being then a justification for abortion would not matter. We kill non-human things all the time. Therefore the question is singular, "What is the unborn?"

I believe there are a few ways to demonstrate this. The first way is to show that an unborn child at any point in the pregnancy is biologically alive. In order to prove my assertion I will use a zygote as an example. If a zygote is alive and is the offspring of two other humans then, according to the law of biogenesis, that zygote must be a human being.

According to boundless.com there are seven requirements to be considered biologically alive. They are order, ability to respond to stimuli, reproduction, growth/development, regulation, homeostasis, and energy [2]. If a zygote satisfies these conditions then it is biologically alive. If it is biologically alive and comes from two human parents, then it must be also be a human being.

1. Order: A zygote is incredibly complex and incredibly organized. I am not a biologist so I do not quite understand all of the structure of a zygote but I understand enough to know that they very organized. They have different microscopic parts that all have their own functions [3] (footnote 3 has more information on how zygotes have order).
2. Ability to respond to stimuli: There have been studies to prove that a zygote can and does react to it's environment. One in particular shows that zygotes respond to a compound called platelet-activating factor [5]
3. Reproduction: A zygote reproduce my means of mitosis, an asexual form of reproduction. (Reproduction could also be referring to the potential to produce offspring which a zygote clearly has)
4. Growth/development: Zygotes grow incredibly quickly through cell division.
5. Regulation: Zygotes can change the composition of its plasma membranes in response to it's environment [6]
6. Homeostasis: Zygotes exhibit homeostasis by regulating their internal conditions to best suit their environment.
7. Energy: Zygotes take, process, and use energy from the mother.

Provided we have no qualms about the above list, a zygote fulfills the biological requirements for life. Therefore, by the law of biogenesis, a zygote is a living human being. Terminating it would to terminate a human being.

If that does not suit your fancy, I have approach B of looking at this topic. I do not like this one as much as it is really best suited to prove that a fetus is a human being. One simply compares a fetus to a new born baby. I believe there are only four significant differences between a fetus and a new born baby, size, location, level of development, and level of dependency. If any of these differences are not significant enough to call a fetus a different species other than human, then abortion would be acceptable.

1. Size: A fetus is much smaller than a baby fresh out of the womb. The question is if a small person is less human than a big person. A twelve year old is much smaller than a thirty year old but the twelve year old is not less human than a thirty year old. Therefore a difference in size is not significant enough to call a fetus a different species.
2. Location: A fetus is in a different location than a new born baby. Is a person in America any less human than a person in England? I would say no. Therefore a difference in location is not significant enough to call a fetus a different species.
3. Level of development: A fetus is less developed than a new born baby. A two year old is less developed than a thirty year old. The twelve year old is not any less human the thirty year old so therefore a difference in development is not a significant enough difference to call a zygote a different species.
4. Level of dependency: A fetus is dependent on its mother for nutrients. A man with diabetes is dependent on an insulin pump. He is not any less human than a man without diabetes, therefore level of dependency is not a significant enough difference to call a fetus a different species.

I believe these to be the only major differences between a fetus and a new born baby. Because none of them are qualifications for personhood, a fetus must be a person with the right to life.

Here is my basic argument in the form of a logical syllogism.

Argument A (my argument by the law of biogenesis):
P1: A living human being has the right to life.
P2: The law of biogenesis states that all living things reproduce after their own kind (two human parents can only have human offspring).
P3: If a zygote meets the biological requirements for life then it is alive.
P4: A zygote meets the requirements for life.
P5: A zygote is the biological offspring of two human parents.
C: A zygote is a living human being with the right to life.

Argument B (my comparison argument):
P1: If there are not any significant differences between two organisms then they are the same species
P2: A new born baby (and any organism of the same species) has the right to life.
P3: There are no significant differences between a new born baby and a fetus
C: A fetus is the same species as a new born baby and has the right to life.

P.S. I welcome the pro to find any other major differences between a fetus and a new born baby. These are the major ones I could think of. Good luck to the pro!

Resources
---------------
1. http://www.standforlife.net...
2. https://www.boundless.com...
3. http://science.opposingviews.com...
4. http://www.justfactsdaily.com...
5. http://humupd.oxfordjournals.org...
6. http://med.studentsforlife.org...
philochristos

Pro

Thank you for coming to tonight's debate.

Since the rules of the debate stipulate openings in this round, and no rebuttals, I'm writing my arguments without having read Con's opening so that I might resist the temptation to sneak in a rebuttal. If it seems like I'm bringing up points Con has already anticipated and responded to, that's why.

First, let me grant a few things. I grant that from the moment of conception, a unique entity comes into existence. I grant that it's human. I grant that it's alive. But those are not sufficient conditions for being an individual human being with a right to life. After all, any human organ or appendage is also human and alive, yet cutting off one's body parts (as is sometimes done in cosmetic surgery) does not have the moral severity we ordinarily attach to taking somebody's life.

What is required, in addition to being human and being alive, is that the entity be a person--a somebody, a "who." Only somebody's have rights. Unless the entity is a somebody, killing it does not deprive anybody of their right to life. A person who kills a few cancer cells or even cuts off a finger isn't killing anybody because a finger or a cancer cell, by itself, is not a person.

What I am going to argue is that in spite of the entity that comes into existence upon fertilization having a unique DNA, being human, and being alive, it is not a person. In fact, it cannot be a person. And since it's not a person, it is not immoral to abort it.

My argument, in a nutshell, goes like this:

1. If the entity were a person, there would be a definite answer to the question.
2. There is no definite answer to the question.
3. Therefore, the entity is not a person.

By "the entity," I'm talking about the whole combination of cells from the moment of conception until some period of time during development. It's not important for the sake of my argument when the end of that period is, just that it's some interval of time.

Now, let me explain what I mean by "the question." This is the crux of my argument, and it's a little hard to explain, so please read carefully.

For about the first 14 days or so after conception, the embryo is capable both of twinning and of fusion. Twinning is when the clump of cells splits into two or more clumps. If they stay split, the mother will eventually have identical twins (or triplets, or whatever). Fusion is more rare. That's when a set of twins comes back together and fuses into one entity again.

On the assumption that a person comes into existence at conception, twinning and fusion create an unsolvable problem of personal identity. Let's call the entity before twinning 'P1,' the two entities after twinning 'P2' and 'P3,' and the entity after fusion 'P4.' Time wise, then, we'd have P1 splitting into P2 and P3. Later, we'd have P2 and P3 fusing into P4.

Presumably, if P1 is a person, then so are P2, P3, and P4. Obviously, P2 and P3 cannot be the same person. They must be distinct persons. So which one is the original? Or are either of them the original? If P1 is the same person as P2, then P3 must've just come into existence. But why not say instead that it's P2 who just came into existence, and P3 is the same person as P1? Or maybe P1 ceases to exist, and both P2 and P3 come into existence. But what happens after fusion? Do two person cease to exist while a new person comes into existence? Or is P4 the same person as either P2 or P3?

These puzzles are what I meant earlier by "the question." If a clump of cells splits into two clumps of cells, there is not criteria of personal identity that makes either P2 or P3 be the same person as P1. Any claim that either P2 or P3 is the same person as P1 is completely arbitrary. Nor is there any criteria by which we can say that P4 is the same person as P2 or P3 or that P4 is a distinct person from both P2 and P3. So however we answer "the question" is arbitrary.

This is no mere epistemological question, either. It isn't just that we don't know what the answers are to these questions. It's that there is no answer to these questions. This is an ontological problem, not an epistemological problem. Ontologically, there is nothing that makes P2 or P3 the same person as P1 or P4. Likewise, there is nothing that prevents either P2 or P3 from being the same person as P1 or P4. So there is no definite answer to "the question" of which person (P2 or P3) is the same person as P1 or P4.

However, if P1 really is a person, there would have to be a definite answer to the question. The answer would be that P2 is the same person as P1, or that P3 is the same person as P1, or that P1 ceases to exist, and P2 and P3 are new persons who come into existence upon twinning, etc.

The fact that there is no answer to the question shows that it's impossible for P1 to be a person. If P1 is not a person, then an individual human life does not come into existence at conception. That means from conception to some later time, abortion is morally permissible. It's morally permissible because ending the life of the embryo does not deprive anybody of their right to life since the embryo at that stage of development is not a "somebody."

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
PossieTV

Con

I would like to begin by appreciating the uniqueness of the pro's argument. It is most definitely an argument I have not encountered before.

Definitions
-----------
Human personhood: A human being who is alive and separate from any other human person
Law of biogenesis: The scientific law that states that living things reproduce after their own kind (see R1)
Embryo: A zygote consisting of 32 cells (normally 4 days after fertilization)

Allow me to first explain the difference between a zygote and an adult human heart. It is true that a human heart is part of a human. It is true that it is alive, but it itself is not a living human organism (which is what I think the pro means by person). When I say that a zygote is a human being with rights I mean to say that it is a completely separate creature from the mother. In other words, it is a completely new living organism. A human heart is not a separate creature from the mother, it is a part of the mother. Now, don't confuse this to mean that if something is attached to the mother it is apart of the mother. Something can be attached to another human being and not be apart of that human being. I believe that when the pro says at the moment of conception a unique entity comes into existence, he means that an entity which is separate from its mother (i.e. an entity unique from it its mother) comes into existence. With that said, let me add a premise to Argument A (see R1) argument. Here is the new logical syllogism.

Argument A (argument by the law of biogenesis; revised):
P1: Living human persons have the right to life
P2: Requirements for being a human person are a) being human, b) being alive, c) being separate from another human person (some may argue that having a soul is a requirement but this it is impossible to point to a place where a spiritual thing is developed so I will leave it out of my argument)
P3: A zygote fills the biological requirements for life
P4: By the law of biogenesis a zygote (see R1) is a human being
P5: A zygote is a separate entity from the mother
C: A zygote fills all of the requirements for personhood and therefore has a right to life.

I believe this new syllogism better defines my argument.

Now I would like to address the dilemma presented by the pro. I find that is easiest to address these problems by addressing them on a larger scale. Assuming we have no problems with the above syllogism (i.e. we are assuming that at the moment of conception a zygote is a human person), let me present a hypothetical situation that I think should answer the scenario presented. Imagine that we have a singular adult person. Say at a random moment the man (M1) splits in two into two separate entities (M2 and M3). Logically, M2 and M3 are M1's biological offspring. By the law of biogenesis they are human beings. Because they are living human beings who are separate from any other human person, they meet the requirements for personhood. This is merely asexual reproduction. Now say that both M2 and M3 were to spontaneously fuse together to form a new man (M4). M4 would be the offspring of both M2 and M3. Because both M2 and M3 are human beings, M4 is a human being as well. M4 is obviously alive (although he may be a bit confused) and is obviously separate from any other human person. M4 meets the requirements for human personhood and therefore has the right to life.

Here is my argument in a logical syllogism

Argument C (a refutation of the twinning and fusion argument):
P1: An embryo (which is just a more mature zygote) is a human person at the moment of conception (see argument A)
P2: The law of biogenesis states that living things reproduce after their own kind. This means that a human parent can only have human babies.
P3: Requirements for being a human person are a) being human, b) being alive, c) being separate from another human person
P3: If an embryo reproduces asexually into two separate embryos, then those two embryos are its biological offspring
P4: An embryo splits into two separate embryos, E2 and E3.
P5: E2 and E3 are alive
C: E2 and E3 are offspring of the original embryo which is a human being and therefore fulfill the requirements for human personhood by the law of biogenesis.

My argument would be the same if we were talking about M2 and M3 fusing into M4.

Let me now address the difference between personal identity and human personhood. I would stipulate that it does not matter whether M1 dies or merely is M2. All that matters is that they meet the requirements for personhood. If I separate into two beings exactly like me (but neither one is me) is it wrong to kill the two new beings that spawned? Well if they are my offspring, I would argue that they inherit my personhood and it would be wrong. They have different personal identities (i.e. they are different people) but they have the same personhood (i.e. they are still people) and it would be wrong to kill them. I believe it would be just as wrong to kill the two beings if I were one of those beings. In other words, if I split into two beings (where I am one of them) I would argue that we are both people and it would be wrong to kill us. I believe this logic extends to the embryo. It does not matter if P1 is P2 or if P1 is dead (i.e. the personal identity of the separate embryos does not matter).

In summation, just because you do not know who you are killing does not mean you are not killing a person.

Thank you for your time.
philochristos

Pro

In this post, I will offer a rebuttal to Con's opening arguments. First, let me begin with some concessions. I agree that from the moment of conception, the cell or clump of cells is alive. Second, I agree that from the moment of conception the cell or clump of cells is human in the sense of being the product of humans, having human DNA, and having the capacity to go through every stage of human development, e.g. zygote, fetus, infant, child, adult, etc. I also agree that this debate hinges on the question, "What is the unborn?" I agree that if it is not a human person, then no justification for taking its life is necessary. I don't quite agree that no justification is adequate in case it is a human person. At the very least, I think a pregnant woman would have the right to save her own life by having an abortion even if the unborn inside her were a human person. But we're debating abortion in general, not exceptional cases, so that disagreement won't have any bearing on my rebuttal.

Where Con and I disagree, then, is whether the unborn, particularly at the earliest stages of development, is a person. Con frequently uses the phrase "human being," which I find to be ambiguous given the distinction I have been making between something, like an individual cell, that is human but not a person, and something like an adult that is both human and a person. It is hard to tell whether Con meant for "human being" to carry with it the idea of personhood.

Let's begin with the "law of biogenesis." According to Con's citation of this law, it states that living things reproduce after their own kind. But it appears Con pours meaning into the law that isn't there. Granted, humans produce humans rather than fish. Catfish produce catfish rather than birds. Condors produce condors rather than snakes. Etc. It doesn't seem to follow that because each species produces the same species that it is a personal member of that species in all stages of development. The law of biogenesis is too general for it to carry that meaning. It carries no more meaning than that alligators come from alligators, oak trees come from oak trees, etc.

To see my point, let me apply a reductio ad absurdum. If we could pour any meaning we wish into "kind" when reading the law of biogenesis, then we could say something like, "Adults beget adults." That would not be absurd if all we meant was that adults produce beings who eventually become adults, or that adults are the products of adults before them. But it would be absurd if we took it to mean that when two adults reproduced, the offspring, from the very beginning of its existence, was also an adult.

In the same way, it is obvious that the product of two human persons will be something that is human with the capacity to go through every stage of human development, but it doesn't follow that it's a personal being through every stage of development. Con is asking the law of biogenesis to state more than it actually states.

Let's move on Con's four differences between a fetus and a new born. But first let me point out that "fetus" is a level of development. It is later than zygote. All I mean to argue is that AT LEAST from the first moments of conception, abortion is morally permissible. I suspect Con was using "fetus" to capture every stage of development prior to birth, so I'll respond as if that were the case.

Con gave four differences between a fetus and a new born and argued that none of these differences are relevant to the question of whether or not abortion is morally permissible. I grant that size is irrelevant. I think a good argument can be made to show that location and level of dependency are relevant, but I'm not going to pursue that. Instead, I just want to take issue with level of development. I think level of development IS morally relevant to the abortion question.

Con's argument for why level of development is not relevant appears to be that because level of development doesn't amount to a change in species, and that humans are human through all stages of development, then level of development is irrelevant to the abortion question. All that's relevant is whether it's human or not.

But as I've already shown, being human is not enough to confer a right to life. Fingers are just as human as full grown adults, but it's not murder if you cut a finger off without justification, whereas it is murder when you kill an adult without justification. The reason is because fingers are not persons, but adults are. It doesn't follow that because there's no moral difference between a 2 year old and a 30 year old that there is therefore no moral difference between a zygote and a new born. To make that analogy work, Con would have to show that humans are persons at every stage of development, including the earliest stages. So far he hasn't done that.

By using his 2 year old vs. 30 year old analogy, Con has shown that SOME differences in level of development are morally irrelevant, but he is far from showing that ALL differences in level of development are morally irrelevant. Zygotes and new borns differ far more substantially than 2 year olds and 30 year olds differ. Level of development may be irrelevant when it comes to 2 year old and 30 year old, but it is not irrelevant between zygotes and new borns. The big difference is personhood.

Basically, like Con said, this all boils down to "what is the unborn?" While we can both agree that the unborn is human through every stage of development, neither the law of biogenesis nor Con's argument from analogy show that the unborn are human persons through every stage of development. Con, therefore, has not managed to show that abortion is immoral.
Debate Round No. 3
PossieTV

Con

Before I begin I would like to again apologize for not including a round five.

I concede that in my opening argument I gave more meaning to the law of biogenesis than was there. This was a problem that I addressed in my rebuttal to the pro's argument (see below for my revised biogenesis argument). I will also concede that I used the term 'human being' a bit confusingly; I said it with the intention of meaning human person. I will better clarify my definitions this round.

Definitions
-----------
Human Being (or just Human): containing Human DNA
Person: A human being that is alive and separated from any other human person.
Law of Biogenesis: The law that states living things reproduce after their own kind

It appears that the pro's main argument is that I do not distinguish between a human being and a human person. I believe that I somewhat covered a defense to this in my rebuttal to the pro's opening argument however I did not give much time to this. With that said, I will go more in-depth on what the differences are between a human being and a human person in this round. Allow me to begin by briefly restating the revised version of Argument A.

Argument A (revised argument from the law of biogenesis):
P1: Living human persons have the right to life
P2: Requirements for being a human person are a) being human, b) being alive, c) being separate from another human person (some may argue that having a soul is a requirement but this it is impossible to point to a place where a spiritual thing is developed so I will leave it out of my argument)
P3: A zygote fills the biological requirements for life
P4: By the law of biogenesis a zygote (see R1) is a human being
P5: A zygote is a separate entity from the mother
C: A zygote fills all of the requirements for personhood and therefore has a right to life.

Let me defend my definition of human personhood because it seems to me that if my definition for personhood stands, then the pro's argument falls apart. If someone contends that people have intrinsic value then that person must believe that intrinsic value flows from some non-physical quality (i.e. a soul). If this quality is not a physical thing (this is widely agreed upon), then it is not physically developed (such organs, appendages, hair, etc). Because personhood is not a physically developable thing, people must have it since the beginning of their existence. I would say that a living being starts existing once it is alive and separated from any other living being (i.e. a zygote being a separate creature from its mother). In other words a being cannot gain intrinsic worth. So if a being has intrinsic worth, then it must have always existed with it.

One might respond saying that a spiritual thing such as personhood is developed later as the embryo develops. This is not possible to prove and is therefore not relevant. Because a non-physical thing, such as personhood, can not be detected, one can not prove when a non-physical thing starts to exist. If, however, that non-physical thing were tied to a physical thing (i.e. a human being) then the earliest point at which the non-physical thing can come into existence is the point at which the physical thing comes into existence. Now lets apply this to a zygote. It would be morally impermissible to kill it because there is that possibility that it's personhood has already been developed. In other words, in order to be morally safe, we must assume that personhood exits at conception.

In the name of clarity, I will put my argument into a logical syllogism.

Argument D (argument for my definition of personhood):
P1: A being with a non-physical quality (i.e. an intrinsic value) must alway have existed with that quality.
P2: Personhood is a non-physical quality
P3: All people on the planet have the quality of personhood
P4: A being begins to exist when it is a) alive and b) it's own creature (i.e. separate from another being)
C: Anything that grows into a human person must have been a person since the moment of its existence

Using the conclusion from Argument D we can conclude that a zygote fits the requirements for personhood since it grows up to be a human person and is alive. I believe that this conclusion is enough to successfully defend both Argument A and Argument B.

I would like to take the time now to thank my opponent, philochristos, for debating with me despite his personal views on the subject and those who have read through this entire debate. I know I have had fun debating this subject and I look forward to more debates like this one in the future.
philochristos

Pro

Since we are combining our defense and conclusion in this last round, I'm going to organize each part under bolded subheadings.

Defense of my opening

In my opening, I argued that the unborn, from the moment of conception until some later time, is not a person. I made this argument on the basis that when twinning and fusion occur, there is no criteria of personal identity that determines whether the twins are new persons, whether one is the same person as the original, or whether the person existing after the fusion is the same person as the original person before twinning, whether it's a wholly new person, whether it's one of the twins, and if so, which twin it is. If they were, in fact, persons, there would be definite answers to these questions, but since there isn't, they're not persons.

Con responded to this argument with a thought experiment in which we have an adult split into two adults, then fuse back into one adult. Essentially, his argument is that while we may puzzle over personal identity, and who is who, we wouldn't for that reason think these various adults were not persons. They'd clearly be persons even if we were confused about which persons they are and where they are the same or different persons as each other.

While I insisted the problem is ontological, Con appears to think the problem is merely epistemological. So my defense will go towards showing that the problem really is ontological. The flaw in the analogy is that there actually IS a criteria of personal identity that can answer these puzzling questions about adults dividing and recombining. If you took an adult and cut off an arm or a leg, you'd associate the person with the rest of the body, not with the appendage that got cut off. If you cut an adult in half at the waste, and imagine for the sake of argument that he survived, you'd associate the person with the top half, not with the bottom half. If the top grew a bottom half, and the bottom half grew a top half, then the original person would be the original top half, and the person that grew out of the bottom half would be a different person. You see, adults have brains, and brains produce consciousness, first person subjectivity, etc. Therein lies the "self." The self is irreducible and cannot be split into two. Even if you split the adult in half along their brain, there would still be an answer to the question of which side is the original person or whether they're both distinct persons. We may, in that case, not know what the answer to the question is, but we'd know there was a definite answer.

It's different with a clump of undifferentiated cells. There is no locus of "self." If the one clump splits into two clumps, there would be nothing about one clump to distinguish it from the other clump in such a way that personhood would or wouldn't be preserved. That's why I say this is an ontological problem rather than an epistemological problem. in the case of adults, there is something that makes them a person, and that's located in their brain. Not so with a mere clump of undifferentiated stem cells.

Conclusion

Con and I have both agreed that this debate comes down to the question of "What is the unborn?" More specifically, it comes down to whether the unborn, from the moment of conception, is a human person. If not, then abortion is morally permissible for at least some length of time, be it ever so short. If so, then abortion is not morally permissible (except maybe in extreme cases that we didn't get into).

I made an argument to show that from the moment of conception until some later time, the unborn are not persons, and therefore abortion is morally permissible during that time. Con attacking the argument with a thought experiment, and I think I adequately defended my argument against his rebuttal.

Con was originally a little ambiguous in his defense of the unborn. His argument went toward showing that the unborn are living human beings in his opening without defending, specifically, that they are persons. In answer to my rebuttal, he attempted to define his way to victory. This was his definition of a person:

"Person: A human being that is alive and separated from any other human person."

He went on to show that unlike body parts, the entity that comes into existence at conception is distinct from other human beings in certain ways. But this hardly matters. If I cut off your hand and burned the rest of your body so there was nothing left but ashes, that hand would be distinguished from other humans. It would have a unique DNA not shared by any other clump of cells in the galaxy, and yet it would not for that reason be a person.

But why should we even except Con's definition of a person? Con showed that the unborn are persons by that definition, but he left the definition undefended. One can't simply define their way to victory in a debate. Suppose, for example, this was my opening:

"Person: A human being who has been born of a woman."

Then I said, "The unborn are not yet born and are therefore not yet persons." Q.E.D.

Would you not immediately recognize that there was something self-serving about my definition and question whether I had gotten that definition right? At the very least, you'd demand that I defend that definition before granting me the day.

Well, Con hasn't defended his definition of a person. And we have good reason to question it. Think about it. How do we usually distinguish personal beings from impersonal beings. Why do we not consider rocks, trees, stars, and flowers to be persons, but we do consider adults, cats, angels, and gods to be persons? We do so on the basis of whether there is a mind. Or in the case of the comatose at least the capacity for having a mind, or being a being that once had consciousness or could regain consciousness. The unborn, from the moment of conception are not that kind of being. Once they develop a brain, an argument could be made for their personhood, but before that, no.

Please don't consider that as an additional argument against the personhood of the unborn. That would count as a "new argument" which typically are not allowed in the final round. Take it, rather, as an illustration showing that Con did not defend his particular definition of a person. Since he did not defend his definition of a person, Con did not meet his burden of proof.

Thank you, PossieTV, for the debate!

And thank you, reader, for giving us both a hearing.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by PossieTV 1 year ago
PossieTV
It's all good. I'm glad that you found a response for the final round, I thought it was a good way to end the debate. I think it gives the voter a tough challenge.
Posted by philochristos 1 year ago
philochristos
I'm sorry, PossieTV. I skimmed over your conclusion before posting my conclusion, but I didn't read it carefully enough. I'm sure the readers will notice that you did defend your definition of personhood.

And by the way, I agree with how you responded to my argument. I came close to just conceding, but I figured since I was playing devil's advocate I ought to try to come up with SOME way to respond. I did the best I could.
Posted by PossieTV 1 year ago
PossieTV
This was super fun, its refreshing to debate with someone who will lay out an actual argument. I'm just curious, but did you read my posts before posting yours? I know you didn't read my post before posting for the opening arguments but did you continue doing that? I was just wondering cause when you were talking about my definition of personhood you didn't attack the defense I had provided in my closing arguments.
Posted by 21MolonLabe 1 year ago
21MolonLabe
I would also ad "No Kritiks" to your rules or else this will probably end up becoming a "Morality is Subjective" Debate.
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