The Instigator
Tim_Spin
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

The non-aggression principle supports the pro-choice position

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/30/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,440 times Debate No: 17339
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

Tim_Spin

Pro

Definitions

Non-aggression principle- states that aggression is inherently unjustified and that one may be justified in doing anything that does not initiate force, fraud, or threat of force against another person or their property.

Aggression- the initiation of force, fraud, or thread of force against another person or their property.

Pro choice- to support a woman's choice to choose to terminate her pregnancy.

Pro life- to support the prohibition on a woman's choice to terminate her pregnancy.

Rules/ Clarifications

1. Drops will count as concessions.

2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.

3. Burden of proof will be shared.

4. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.

5. R1 is for acceptance and clarifications. Argumentation begins in R2.
KeytarHero

Con

I would like to thank Tim_Spin for issuing this challenge. I have had many debates on abortion but very few from this particular angle.

I would just like to clarify the pro-life position a bit. Most pro-lifers do not believe in the absolute prohibition of abortion (though some do).

I believe that abortion is justified if the woman's life is in immediate jeopardy and the unborn child (or zygote/embryo/fetus, if you prefer) is not yet viable. Once the child has reached viability, a c-section should be done to save the lives of both mother and child.

The pro-life position actually states that all life is equally valuable, including the unborn zygote/embryo/fetus, and the mother who carries him/her within.

I agree to Tim's terms. I look forward to reading his opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
Tim_Spin

Pro

My three points will interdepend on each other to prove my case. I am defending the claim that the non-aggression principle supports the mother's right to abort her fetus up until it has been born and is no longer completely dependent on her in order to survive. Once the fetus has been born, killing is not the only option to remove it and thus killing the fetus after it has been born is not supported by the non-aggression principle. I am only defending killing the fetus before it is "born".

Acting to defend one's self is not prohibited by the non-aggression principle.

The non-aggression principle specifically prohibits the use of aggression against others. Aggression was defined as the initiation of force, fraud, or coercion against another person or their property. This does not preclude the idea that one could forcefully stop a person from harming them. If a man comes up with a gun and raises it to shoot at me, me forcefully removing the gun from him is not prohibited by the non-aggression principle. When dealing with the non-aggression principle, there is a difference between defense and aggression.

The non-aggression principle is connected with the other tenet of libertarianism which is property rights. The non-aggression principle prohibits one from aggressing against another person or their property in an attempt to protect said property rights. So conversely, the non-aggression principle would support one's ability to protect their own property even if this entails deadly force.

The fetus(zygote, embryo, baby, exc.) is an aggressor against the mother.

This I know is probably a controversial sounding premise. But we must take into account the fact that the term "aggression" when applied to libertarian ethics is used differently from how it is used in ordinary language. In ordinary language, to "aggress" against someone is usually seen as using force against them with some sort of malice intent. The libertarian definition of aggression agrees with the first part of this definition but not with the last. One need not mean to aggress against someone to aggress against them.

A fetus aggresses against the mother in the following ways. It takes up space in the mother's body and feeds off of her nutrients. Not to sound cold and uncaring, the libertarian definition of aggression does not take into account malice intent in regards to actions. An aggressive action is an aggressive action regardless of intent. So if an agent is violating one's property rights, they have the right to stop it even if stopping it entails deadly force. However, one could bring up the objection that killing the fetus is too drastic and that the right to life should trump property rights. I will deal with this objection below.

The only way to stop the aforementioned aggression by the fetus is to abort.

There are two options a woman has when she becomes pregnant. She can either abort the fetus or carry it to term. Up until viality, the fetus cannot be removed without dying. So if the mother does not want the fetus aggressing against her, she must abort it. If there was another option other than aborting the fetus to remve it from the mother's body it would be considered. However there is not and so even though aborting the fetus seems cold and murderous, it is the only option one has to remove it in that the mother's body is the fetus' life support system up until viability. I will go into more detail of my points after I see what specific objections my opponent brings against my points.
KeytarHero

Con

The Instigator seems to be okay with abortions up to the point of birth. However, he has also stated that once the child has been born, killing it is not the only option to remove it and thus killing it after it has been born is not supported by the non-aggression principle. However, this seems to be a contradictory stance since a child can be viable up to about four and a half months premature. In that case, killing it is not the only option to remove it and therefore I don't see how the non-aggression principle can be used to defend the abortion of a viable fetus.

Contention One: Acting to defend one's self is not prohibited by the non-aggression principle.

Self-defense is, of course, a necessary action at times. However, excessive force cannot be used to defense oneself from harm. In order for deadly force to be justified there must be an immediate, otherwise unavoidable threat of death or grave bodily harm to yourself or other innocents. [1] Pregnancy is a safe, natural biological reaction to sexual intercourse. While I would say that there are too many women who die as a result of pregnancy (one woman dying is one too many), only about 14.5 in 100,000 women die as a result of their pregnancy. [2] This means that pregnancy is safer than driving a car, in which 1 in 6,000 people die as a result of car wrecks. [3] This means that in most cases, there is not threat of death or severe bodily harm done to the woman carrying the child. Excessive force, such as killing the fetus, is not justified. And in the rare cases that the woman's life is in immediate jeopardy (e.g. ectopic pregnancies) and the child is not yet viable (a c-section can be done to save both mother and child in these instances), then abortions would be justified. Only fringe pro-lifers would disagree in the cases of her life being in jeopardy.

This even goes for protection of property. Deadly force is not justified unless there is a threat of death or serious bodily injury.

Contention Two: The fetus (zygote, embryo, baby, exc.) is an aggressor against the mother.

I'm not sure why the instigator is lumping "baby" in as an aggressor here (perhaps he can elaborate next round). However, the unborn are not aggressors. If anything, they could be considered "innocent aggressors." Conceiving a child is a natural byproduct of sexual intercourse. The zygote/embryo/fetus is not responsible for being there. They have no choice but to be there. They are in the only place in the entire universe they can survive, grow, develop, and thrive. In most cases, it's the sexually active woman and man who put them there. They decide to have sexual relations which may result in pregnancy. To conceive a needy child, only to later put that child to death, seems to me like a much more aggressive act than the zygote/embryo/fetus who is only following their natural biological functions that the woman and man set into motion.

Additionally, Tim indicates that the libertarian definition of aggression is different from how it is used in ordinary language. However, this is a completely ad hoc definition. The only way to justify killing the unborn embryo/fetus is if you change the definition of aggressor to mean anyone who "aggresses" against you with or without malice intent.

Now, pregnancies resulting from rape are extremely rare and only account for about 1-2% of abortions. [4] So in the vast majority of cases, the man and woman were responsible for conceiving the child. Now, don't get me wrong. Rape is a horrible, horrible crime that no one should ever have to endure, and I am in favor of stricter punishments for rapists. However, while the woman certainly isn't responsible for conceiving the child, neither is the child responsible for being there. Deadly force still would not be justified to remove the unborn embryo or fetus from the womb.

From what I understand of pregnancy, the developing embryo/fetus does not rob his/her mother of any nutrients. "Eating for two" is actually a myth. They share nutrients while the child is developing. This is not a violation of rights but a completely natural way for the developing child to nourish herself.

Contention Three: The only way to stop the aforementioned aggression by the fetus is to abort.

Again, this contention goes against Tim's statement about defending the killing of the fetus before birth. He readily admits that once the fetus is viable, she can be delivered and survive. Therefore, this would show that abortion would not be justified at all times before birth.

To reiterate, deadly force is not justified in these matters. If killing the embryo/fetus is the only way to stop the pregnancy, then this is all the more reason not to kill the developing child. Someone who is weaker deserves more protection, not less; otherwise, it is bullying. Tim has not given any reason why killing an embryo/fetus would be justified under a "non-aggression" view, especially since killing someone is definitely an aggressive act.

[1] http://definitions.uslegal.com...;
[2] http://www.emaxhealth.com...;
[3] http://adventure.howstuffworks.com...;
[4] http://www.nytimes.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
Tim_Spin

Pro

Tim_Spin forfeited this round.
KeytarHero

Con

Tim has forfeited this round. As such, I extend my arguments into the next round.
Debate Round No. 3
Tim_Spin

Pro

My opponent begins his case by bringing contention to my point that since a fetus can be viable up to four and a half months premature, abortion is not the only way to stop the pregnancy and thus the non-aggression principle does not support the abortion of a potentialy viable fetus. My point of disagreement with this line of reasoning is as follows. My contention was that abortion is "The only way to stop the aforementioned aggression by the fetus is to abort." My opponent correctly points out that there are other measures that could be taken to keep the fetus alive, however he never shows why doing these stops aggression against the mother. That was my point. My opponent seems to be trying to distract readers from the central premise of my argument.

Let's take an analogy. Suppose that a dog is going around biting people. It may not be doing this on purpose since dog's do not actually understand that what they are doing is innapropriate or even wrong. Though from the perspective of the non-aggression principle, one is justified in defending themselves from the dog's aggression. If the only way to end the aggression against themselves is to put the dog down, the non-aggression principle allows it. My opponent argues though that abortion is not the only way. He misrepresents my argument entirely. Abortion is the only way to stop aggression against the mother at once. Being forced to undergo surgery is aggression. The mother should not be forced to do anything to her body that she does not consent to.

Contention One: Acting to defend one's self is not prohibited by the non-aggression principle.

My opponent's objection to this point is as follows. "The NAP allows for defense, however excessive force is not always justified. This is a situation in which excessive force is not justified." But as I have explained before, there is no other way to stop the aggression being taken against the mother. A C-section, while being relatively safe, should not be forced on to a person as per the non-aggression principle. We own our own bodies and so we should not be forced to have a surgery even if that surgery would safe another's life. If you hit a pedestrian with your car and inadvertantly ruptured the person's kidney, would the non-aggression principle justify forcing you to give him one of your own? No. Criminal charges may br brought if you are found liable, but the non-aggression principle does not allow for you to control another's body.

Contention Two: The fetus (zygote, embryo, baby, exc.) is an aggressor against the mother.

My opponent firstly, objects to the idea that the fetus can be counted as an aggressor. He defines it more as an "innocent aggressor" and calls my libertarian definition of aggression "ad hoc". He argues that the only way to justify my contention would be to 'change' the definition of aggression to mean aggression without regards to intent. But did I actually change the definition? I already explained that the libertarian definition of "aggression" differs form it's usual use in everyday language just as the word 'liberal' has a different meaning in the U.S. from the one in Western Europe.

Even in a laymen's dictionary, we can see that there are different definitions for aggression. Aggression: a forceful action or procedure (as an unprovoked attack) especially when intended to dominate or master[1]. The intent as one can see is not the core of the definition. While intent to harm and actual harm are not mutually exclusive concepts, if one breaks down the definition of "aggression" the sole requisite is harm to another or violation of their rights. A libertarian website defines the non-aggression axiom as one's "to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another"[2]

So even the concept that the non-libertarian definition of aggression necessitates intent to harm as a requisite is a stretch. However, when dealing with the libertarian definition of aggression, it is clear that harming someone or violating their rights is all that is needed to "aggress" against them.

Contention Three: The only way to stop the aforementioned aggression by the fetus is to abort.

My opponent's objection to my last contention is pretty much the same is his objection to my first contention. He argues that a fetus can be delivered and thus saved from death if it is delivered after it achieves viability. However I will repeat my first point. My contention was that the only way to stop the aggression against the mother is to abort. I did not, and never intended to, argue that abortion was the only way to stop the mother from being pregnant or bearing the responsibility of a child.

My opponent's last point is that even if we accept that killing the fetus is the only way to stop the pregnancy(again, I never argued this point), this is more reason not to kill it. I don't exactly follow his reasoning in that he gives no justification for it. Though he ends by arguing that the weaker desrve "more protection, not less". Where did I argue that fetus' deserve less protection than anyone else? If it were a 30 year old man in a woman's womb, a 15 year old girl, or a 81 year old transexual, the non-aggression principle would still support abortion. No one inherently deserve more protection than another under the non-aggression principle.

I would like to thank my opponent for this debate even as it was unfortunately cut short. Vote Pro.

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://www.lewrockwell.com...
KeytarHero

Con

I am not trying to detract from my opponent's central premise, I am pointing out the inconsistency in his position. He makes the case that abortion is "the only way to stop the aforementioned aggression by the fetus is to abort." But this isn't the case when the unborn fetus is viable. If killing the child would "stop the aggression," then so would delivering the child and keeping them alive. Therefore the resolution is negated, because when the fetus is viable, they can be delivered rather than killed and still survive (obviously, the later, the better chance of survival). Killing them would be a use of excessive force, because they can be delivered and survive. In fact, abortion is not the only way to "stop the aggression" because the child can be carried to term and then delivered. Abortion is an unnecessary act of aggression against an innocent, unborn human being.

Next Tim makes an analogy with a dog, but this doesn't compare because we're dealing in human beings. Humans are rational moral agents, with an inherent capacity to reason and understand the world around us. Dogs are not. While dogs and other animals are protected by law, they are treated as property and not equal to humans. Animal rights is a topic for another debate. But killing an unborn human is not like killing a dog because a member of our own species is being killed. Tim also makes the assertion that being forced to undergo surgery is aggression, but abortions are surgery (the morning after pill and RU-486 notwithstanding). So delivering the child after nine months, or going through a c-section, is no different than undergoing abortion, except that a child is being saved and not killed. I have not misrepresented Tim's position, I don't think he made it very clear. He never stated that abortion is the only way to stop aggression against the mother "at once" until this round, but I still fail to see how this is relevant. Abortion is not the only way to "stop aggression" against the mother by the fetus, so therefore the non-aggression principle does not support the pro-choice position. Also keep in mind that the unborn child is not an "aggressor," only under the ad hoc Libertarian definition.

Contention One: Acting to defend one's self is not prohibited by the non-aggression principle.

An abortion would be a surgery. This would not be forcing the mother to undergo a surgery in lieu of abortion, it would really be substituting one surgery for another. She'll have to undergo surgery either way, as abortions are a surgical procedure.

The analogy of the car actually serves to make my case. The unborn are not aggressors against the woman. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, the woman and man consented to sexual intercourse which results in the creation of a child. You can say consent to sex doesn't mean consent to pregnancy, but consent to sex does mean you're responsible for any life created. If you consent to drive you might not consent to hitting someone, but if you do you are still responsible for that person. A woman and man who creates a needy child then aborts that child is committing a much greater act of aggression than the unborn child who is there because two people instituted the act that created him/her.

Contention Two: The fetus (zygote, embryo, baby, exc.) is an aggressor against the mother.

The instigator states that since "liberal" has a different meaning in the U.S. and Europe, that it is perfectly acceptable to use a definition here that differs from its everyday use. However, that is different from living in the U.S. and using a different definition than one that is in everyday use. You can't simple change words to mean whatever you want them to in order to support your case.

Also, using a Libertarian website to define aggression is circular reasoning. If you are defending the Libertarian definition of aggression, I would expect Libertarian websites to agree with you. Regarding the dictionary definition, it actually seems to me that intent is at the core of the definition, since the example listed was an unprovoked attack, and since it indicated that the intended result was to dominate or master.

It is not just true that the unborn are "innocent aggressors" who are there not because their will desired it, but because biology required it, but it is also true that they are there in the first place due to an act by a woman and man who engaged in sexual intimacy which, biologically, results in the creation of a living human.

Contention Three: The only way to stop the aforementioned aggression by the fetus is to abort.

Again, I will reiterate that the unborn is there because the woman and man put him/her there. Killing that unborn child through abortion is a greater act of aggression because the unborn really are not aggressors. They were put there by the two engaged in sexual intimacy.

He contends that abortion is the only way to stop the aggression against the mother, but in his first round argument he also stated, "If there was another option other than aborting the fetus to remove it from the mother's body it would be considered." C-sections are a method to remove a viable fetus from the mother's body and therefore, the non-aggression principle does not apply.

I thank the Instigator for this debate. Please vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by JoshBrahm 5 years ago
JoshBrahm
Tim_SpinKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro loses points for forfeiting a round. Pro's argument would have had a better chance if there was a non-violent method of removing the fetus. Con's opening argument about levels of force allowed in self-defense ultimately defeat Pro's most important premise.
Vote Placed by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
Tim_SpinKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro was not able to defend why the fetus is the aggressor and forfeited.