The Instigator
dairygirl4u2c
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
SperoAmicus
Con (against)
Winning
25 Points

abortion early in the pregnancy can be rationally justified, but morality is eye of beholder

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2007 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,184 times Debate No: 799
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (12)

 

dairygirl4u2c

Pro

i guarantee the arguments i will be making will be new to almost everyone, and probably hard to digest at times. that's the nature of philosophy. a little due to my not explaining well enough at times, i concede.

i don't think it's okay. abortion. it's reasonable to be against it.

but i think it's reasonable to think it's okay early in the pregnancy. to argue that it's not a human person. of course it's human type and not a pig. but, a redblood cell is also human. also, red blood cells have DNA but are not human persons.
to the counter contention that your red blood cell doesn't grow into a person. consider this example, my snowman argument. you have a snowman. if you have a snowball that you're gonna use to get to that snowman before he exists, the snowball obviously isn't a snowman. if you have a cell, like a block, and start building, the cell isn't necessarily a human person either. true, the cell in your arm isn't going to grow into a person, but, the analogy can still exist as it's similar enough to make the point-the initial cell is like a block and not the final product.
so when does a block set become the set? it's a gray question. when does the cell become a person? it's gray, too.
simply asking the question of when it becomes a human isn't answering the question.
bottomline. on one side you have human red blood cells, on the other ameoba type organisms. the eariest human cell is similar and different than both. you can't say for sure it's one way or the other.

as to other arguments, which make it reasonable to be against abortion but that can be reasonably refuted. true, the early cell is: unique (no other DNA like this) an separate (its own entity. important cause twins have the same DNA) DNA. also, organisms can be single celled but that does not mean they are merely cells. like an ameoba is an organism. so the early cell could be an organism.
the question is whether the early cell is rightly called an organism. some text books say it is, others don't say anything.
a distinguishing feature of amoebas and cells early on is amoebas don't grow into greater beings. so, early cells in pregnancy are unique in that they do grow into greater beings. it doesn't prove they're not organisms, but it proves something unique abhout their nature.

would you consider smashing to acorn to be the same as having killed an acorn tree? or eating an egg as killing a chicken? it's reasonable if you do, but this usually, and i think rightly so, is a point/argument in favor of prochoice early on. smashing an acorn i don't think is necessarily the same as killing an acorn tree. (aside from the literal fact that you're not killing it in tree form)

the unique set of DNA stuff is an interesting biological idea that you might think since it's unque it's a person, but it's simply not necessarily the case. i'd put it more in favor of saying it's a person but not definite.

saying it's growing into a person isn't enough, cause potential life isn't necessarily human life. you have to argue all the stuff i've been arguing.

ethically, should we simply defer to human life such that not deferring would be irrational?
*i think it's reasonable to think reasonably disputed life can be valued less than the freedom to choose.* (most "choose" arguments are very lacking but i think this one is not so much) no one knows, so who should decide? should the government? why not the individual? of coruse, the government could decide a point it thinks it's a person cleary, but that's not necessarily the early organism/cell. give the person the dignity to decide themself, respect it.
*it's often the moral thing to do to defer to allowing others the freedom to do something* here's it's unclar whether it's hurting another but the principle still is here and needs weighed.

at a certain point, it clearly is a human and it's unreasonable to think otheriwse. at a certain point it's reasonbly not a human, clearly reasonably not. so we have to take the cell v. the baby, and the points of uncertainty in between should be deferred to be baby. (if we as a government will choose a point, this is how i'd do it. i guess i'd pick the moment heartbeats forms, with roof for error on the side of person, cause i think that's when the first substaintial thing happens to the embryo. whatever is the first substanital thing, if i'm mistaken.)

i'm not by saying all this saying that we can kill people on life support. they're not reasonably diputued to be human life. could there be a point when it's unclear, like when machines start taking over a body? i think so, because machines can make a person function when they are clearly dead (this creeps out family of the dead if they see it; they do it for saving organs etc sometimes), and if you start using machines one by one on a person, their heart and brainwaives (the things that make them clinically alive or not) can be usurped by machines and later they're vital signs would be working again. would it be wrong to kill them when not working?
i guess you could argue that it wouldn't be, that life was not in them then, but how are you sure? it's a gray area. like this is a gray area, shouldn't whether the early cell is human be gray too? yes it should. reasonable to think either way. and if all the person is is machines and a beating heart, are theyu alive? it's uncelar.
and in a way the machine argument goes beyond the idea that the early cells are in questionable form, and shows that the mother cuold be like a machine on a lifeless body.

how do i define person? that's a loaded question. and the fact that it's a loaded question is my point.
i'd set as definition, as science tries to do. then, things at the frays of the definition would make our definition seem suspect. then scientists would disagree with how to define a person. they'd agree as far as generalities go, for sure. but when things get complicated, they'd disagree.

also some biological functions of the early cells. early cells split. i'd use that as an argument that it's not a human person. of course, a person could split, but. it just does not seem like something God would do. yes, i'm using a faith standard here. it could go either way, but just saying.
in that vein, i'd also point out that. most cells do not get implanted after conception and they die. it doesn't seem like a person would die in this regard, even though it is a natural phenomenon and not the same as abortion. granted, it could just be something God would do to naturally weed out bad cells. but still, just doesn't seem like something God would allow.
not to get into soul arguments, which are separate from these observations.

now, i don't think it's unreasonable to simply insist we defer to life, and by that to say i'm wrong and that it's not reasonable to think it's okay. but, i simply disagree and think it's a reasonable position to have.
SperoAmicus

Con

~~~

*i think it's reasonable to think reasonably disputed life can be valued less than the freedom to choose.* (most "choose" arguments are very lacking but i think this one is not so much) no one knows, so who should decide? should the government? why not the individual? of coruse, the government could decide a point it thinks it's a person cleary, but that's not necessarily the early organism/cell. give the person the dignity to decide themself, respect it.

>But valued less by whom? There is either a person or a pre-person in the womb, and if there's a chance it's the latter, then that person's needs become a factor.

For to the child,

10% chance of life * -(value of life) = infinite loss

But according to your argument,

10% chance of life * -(value of life) < Motivations for the mother's choice.

Such that we are only then considering the value of the child's life to the mother, but for doing this we have no logical reason as the mother is not the only person involved.

10% chance of life * -(value to mother+child+society) = infinite loss

~~~

*it's often the moral thing to do to defer to allowing others the freedom to do something* here's it's unclar whether it's hurting another but the principle still is here and needs weighed.

>Note here the unclarity as to whether it's a person.

~~~

at a certain point, it clearly is a human and it's unreasonable to think otheriwse. at a certain point it's reasonbly not a human, clearly reasonably not. so we have to take the cell v. the baby, and the points of uncertainty in between should be deferred to be baby. (if we as a government will choose a point, this is how i'd do it. i guess i'd pick the moment heartbeats forms, with roof for error on the side of person, cause i think that's when the first substaintial thing happens to the embryo. whatever is the first substanital thing, if i'm mistaken.)

>Note here you're arguing that a point exists which requires certainty, otherwise every moment from conception onwards would be conceded to the person.

A heartbeat happens at 8 days. Many women don't even know they're pregnant yet.

And the first substantial thing which happens to an embyro is that it's conceived.

~~~

i'm not by saying all this saying that we can kill people on life support. they're not reasonably diputued to be human life. could there be a point when it's unclear, like when machines start taking over a body? i think so, because machines can make a person function when they are clearly dead (this creeps out family of the dead if they see it; they do it for saving organs etc sometimes), and if you start using machines one by one on a person, their heart and brainwaives (the things that make them clinically alive or not) can be usurped by machines and later they're vital signs would be working again. would it be wrong to kill them when not working?
i guess you could argue that it wouldn't be, that life was not in them then, but how are you sure? it's a gray area. like this is a gray area, shouldn't whether the early cell is human be gray too? yes it should. reasonable to think either way. and if all the person is is machines and a beating heart, are theyu alive? it's uncelar.
and in a way the machine argument goes beyond the idea that the early cells are in questionable form, and shows that the mother cuold be like a machine on a lifeless body.

>There are many differences between euphenasia and an abortion, some in support of it and some against it. But the key difference is very simple, and it's that we understand death much more than we understand life. "Has it stopped working" is a much easier question to answer than "is it working yet?" The grown body is bigger, more accessible, less vulnerable, the technology more penetrating, the matter just easier to see.

~~~

how do i define person? that's a loaded question. and the fact that it's a loaded question is my point.
i'd set as definition, as science tries to do. then, things at the frays of the definition would make our definition seem suspect. then scientists would disagree with how to define a person. they'd agree as far as generalities go, for sure. but when things get complicated, they'd disagree.

>But one, both, or neither of those scientists might be right, including the scientist which says life begins at conception.

~~~

also some biological functions of the early cells. early cells split. i'd use that as an argument that it's not a human person. of course, a person could split, but. it just does not seem like something God would do. yes, i'm using a faith standard here. it could go either way, but just saying.
in that vein, i'd also point out that. most cells do not get implanted after conception and they die. it doesn't seem like a person would die in this regard, even though it is a natural phenomenon and not the same as abortion. granted, it could just be something God would do to naturally weed out bad cells. but still, just doesn't seem like something God would allow.
not to get into soul arguments, which are separate from these observations.

>Understanding biology, cells which fail to be implanted do so because the embryo itself is not sending off the right hormones to prepare the womb for implantation. The reasonable assumption / implication of this for someone arguing that life begins at conception is that in these cases, something went wrong at conception and that it didn't happen.

By the by, the cells aren't just dividing, but growing rapidly. In terms of energy and plain ol' spunk, they are more "alive" than they ever will be again.

~~~

now, i don't think it's unreasonable to simply insist we defer to life, and by that to say i'm wrong and that it's not reasonable to think it's okay. but, i simply disagree and think it's a reasonable position to have.

>If you think there's any uncertainty about when life begins, then it might be reasonable, but it's certainly not rational, as a complete and rational position has to take into account the risks that one's personal conclusion might be wrong. And as a society set out to protects human rights, it's not only the mother but also the child whose best interests need to be preserved.

Future mothers could adjust and adapt to a society that outlaws abortion; a child presumably cannot similarly adapt to being dead.
Debate Round No. 1
dairygirl4u2c

Pro

There needs to be clarifications.

reasonable versus rational. I'm not sure how you're distinguishing them. You hint it might be reasonable, but not rational. how can that be? Or, you mean it's reasonable belief, but not rational implementation to have abortion friendly laws. The later I will address more. Am I understanding you>

The main point you made is that any chance of no life is such that we should defer, given the infinite loss potential, versus the "mere" loss of the choice of the mother.
The mother's loss of choice, though, is a definite loss, and the loss of the person is not concrete.
*Some people value liberty more than life.* If no liberty, there's no life. Now, there is the life and liberty of the putative child to consider. But, the liberty to decide that issue, I think, could reasonably be set for the mother. If the child dies, then, at least there was the liberty to decide given taht it is valued less than life.
I realize that my stared quote is only certainly applicable to the person themself to decide to live, and teh child does not have the chance, or putatuive child. I acknowledge the society can have a say, but, I'm simply saying if it says the laws are arbortion friendly it's rational, not that it's analogous completely to areas where it can obviously exist.

Now, personally I would outlaw it all, because of my concurrance that we should defer completely. My title was misleading in that vein. I was only saying a society that has it legal would be a rational society, in my view.
I also think incidentally that you could be personally against abortion but allow people to decide for themselves, but only if you don't think it's certainly a person and are using the freedom issue. You use your freedom to not abort, but you respect the other person's freedom to choose themself. This is reasonable, and so rational in implementation as a law.

I'm not sure how it could be reasonable and not rational in implementation. I think i'm on the right track. I do note you were sort of kinda maybe conceding it reasonable and maybe not so definitely.

Any differences of opinion we might have, it seems, would be an inherent value judgment call, and tehre's not much more to discuss. But, I will await your reply to see for sure.
SperoAmicus

Con

SperoAmicus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
dairygirl4u2c

Pro

dairygirl4u2c forfeited this round.
SperoAmicus

Con

First let me apologize for missing Round 2 of the debate, I was preparing a reply when I was sidetracked for Christmas. Consequently these are the closing remarks, so I shall mostly restate my argument, attempt to answer dairygirl4u2c's concerns, and to demonstrate that although this debate missed round 2 for reasons of the holidary, it should be inconsequential to the debate results because of the weaknesses inherent in dairygirl's arguments.

~~~~

At the end of her comments, Dairygirl reminds us:
>Any differences of opinion we might have, it seems, would be an inherent value judgment call, and tehre's not much more to discuss.

First, we are not discussing, but debating. But yes, the question is the value of the life of the child. Dairygirl has not presenting any other method of estimating the value of the life, or the expected loss incurred by the abortion, than the one I present.

My argument is, and has been, this:

If we as a society are to weigh the value of life to all persons in making decisions, then we must also consider the value of the life of the possible person inside the mother's womb.

According to basic logical principles of measuring value, then...

(probability of life)*(value of life) + (probably of will-be life)*(value of will-be life) = estimated value of the fetus

Hence, from a utilitarian perspective, the question becomes whether or not the estimated value of the fetus is greater than, equal to, or less than, the resultant consequences to the mother.

estimated value of the fetus =,>,< value of avoiding consequences to the mother

My assertion, however, is this:

value of life = infinite
or
value of life => infinite

Such that even the slightest possibility of life indicates a value to the child that is greater than the consequences of a refused abortion to the mother.

~~~~

But dairygirl begins her response by questioning my opinion of her argument:

>reasonable versus rational. I'm not sure how you're distinguishing them. You hint it might be reasonable, but not rational. how can that be? Or, you mean it's reasonable belief, but not rational implementation to have abortion friendly laws. The later I will address more. Am I understanding you>

Simply put, I believe dairygirl's belief in early abortions to be reasonable for a person to hold who has not examined the full rationality of the situation. But this opinion is irrelivent to the main thrust of the rational debate.

The thrust of which, dairygirl inadequately addresses, asserting:

>The mother's loss of choice, though, is a definite loss, and the loss of the person is not concrete.

>If no liberty, there's no life.

>But, the liberty to decide that issue, I think, could reasonably be set for the mother. If the child dies, then, at least there was the liberty to decide given taht it is valued less than life.

>I acknowledge the society can have a say, but, I'm simply saying if it says the laws are arbortion friendly it's rational, not that it's analogous completely to areas where it can obviously exist.

>Now, personally I would outlaw it all, because of my concurrance that we should defer completely. My title was misleading in that vein. I was only saying a society that has it legal would be a rational society, in my view.

>I also think incidentally that you could be personally against abortion but allow people to decide for themselves, but only if you don't think it's certainly a person and are using the freedom issue. You use your freedom to not abort, but you respect the other person's freedom to choose themself. This is reasonable, and so rational in implementation as a law.

But all of the above statements are a repeat and clarification of a statement from Round 1.

>*i think it's reasonable to think reasonably disputed life can be valued less than the freedom to choose.*

And none of these statements in any way provide justification for the implied assumption of her claim:

right to choose abortion > value of life to society

Now, it can be argued that I have given no justification for my argument that:

value of life => infinite

However, this is irrelivent. That life has great value is universally uncontested, and "great value" is enough to address her arguments. But while the "right to choose" has great value, the right to make a specific choice has very little.

Value of Life (?) Liberty
Value of Life >>> A Very Specific Choice

Therefore, in two rounds of debate, dairygirl has presented no substantiation for her claims that a government can rationally legalize abortion. That my absence for the Christmas holiday prevented a third is consequently irrelivent.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
"saying things like without life there is no liberty."

I don't believe I said such a thing at all.

"first of all, he didn't address that without liberty, to some, there is no life worth anything"

"second of all, by saying life is greater value than liberty"

Did you even read the closing statement? I actually, clearly said that I had no comparison as to whether Life or Liberty were greater. But the question is NOT about Liberty, but about a "Very Specific Choice." This is very clear in my remarks.

That makes your comment a total lie.
Posted by dairygirl4u2c 9 years ago
dairygirl4u2c
spero's last comment was misleading to someone who doesn't read the thread completely. he was talking about how life is more important than liberty.... saying things like without life there is no liberty.

first of all, he didn't address that without liberty, to some, there is no life worth anything, much like revolutionaries in wars often say. now, they can choose their liberty over their life, and i acknowledge that it's not completely analogous to deciding on the life of a disputed person. but it's enough to make the point, that liberty even there could be viewed greater than liberty, if it's reasonabley disputed.

second of all, by saying life is greater value than liberty, which most people would agree with, he's misleading people who didn't read close enough that i was only arguing that that's the case with reasonably disputed life.

there's a one hundred percent assurance of loss of choice, and thereby certainy of loss of libtery, which many view as greater importance than life, and at least greater than reasonably disputed life.

his last post was just foot pounding and misleading arguments, as i predicted nothing more needed to be said and nothing more really did need said. debates are not supposed ot cause us to go in circles, but present arguments and leave it done when nothing more needs said. nothing more really needed said, except now that he's distorting the arguments.
Posted by RMK 9 years ago
RMK
You use a snowball to show the connection between life and the taking of one? Pathetic stance.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Two comments down, that should read natural not supernatural in the first sentance. Darn exhaustion.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
I reject your assertion, MineesotaGopher, that any evidence has been presented which "changes the probability," for no evidence has been presented which is inconsistent with the either the Christian Church or of Atheism.

Furthermore, you seem to be arguing that a model which explains the most should be accepted as true simply because of its explanatory powers. That's a common fallacy in modern academia, commonly used to gloss over intellectual debate in favor of a concensus. Something is not true just because it appears to reconcile the majority of shakey evidence, but rather, it is true because it is consistent with logic.

A lot in every form of academia is presented as fact because of this fallacy, when it should be presented with a degree of certainty. But the result of this is this:

If you are 99% percent on five hundred different things, you're wrong somewhere. If you're only 90% certain about each claim, you're actually wrong a lot.

And you have to tie this certainty with the consequences of being wrong. In a textbook, n'ehh, who cares what Alexander the Great really did. But when you're talking about the more-than-a-million Americans persons that might be killed each year, then you have to accept that the possibility of such a loss must be accounted for, or your position is flawed.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
But the relevant behavior in regards to personhood is the human will, the ability to make a choice, however small. The supernatural explanation emphatically does not provide anything close to a model which explains the existence of the Human Will.

Instead, naturalists work on the grotesquely inadequate apriori assumption that the brain must develop this ability because any other explanation results in the existence of preternaturality. But regardless of whether such an assumption is unwarranted, there is no reason to believe that such natural development can be pinpointed to any identifiable location, particularly not at one so arbitrary as the severing of the umbilical cord.

Hence, I do not believe it is rational to account for all possibilities, but rather, all reasonable possibilities. Until atheism can be proven, and sequentially, that personhood begins at an identifiable moment, abortion must be preempted for the possibility of being murder.
Posted by MineesotaGopher 9 years ago
MineesotaGopher
Heh, I will never be the one to criticise another for making typos. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all :)

Of course you are never going to get proof that some persons definition of personhood is correct - definitions are arbitrary anyway, and normative concepts like "personhood" suffer from the problems that plague any normative assertion. I can no more prove to you that my standard of personhood is "correct" than you can demonstrate to me "objectively" that the value of life approaches infinity.

Your standards of evidence appear to be impossibly high; there are very few things that "irrefutable proof" can be given for (confined, I suppose, to logical necessities) but that does not mean that the statement (for instance) "Humans and X evolved from a common ancestor" and "Angels help me take my college examinations" both have an equally likely probability of being true; the evidence that we are able to uncover changes that probability. Of course it is possible that humans have souls, but we have no evidence for that. In fact, we have evidence to suggest that human behaviour and experience comes from the brain (for instance, in our ability to use chemicals or other devices to modify what people feel, how they think, and even the choices that they make). You are giving the two equal weight when one deserves far greater weight.

You seem to be making the mistake that any true explanation must cover all POSSIBLE explanations, but this isn't necessary. Explanations only need to be able to provide a mechanism to explain some behavior (thus necessarily implying predictive powers). The naturalistic explanation appears to do this, whereas the supernaturalistic explanation does not. Once again, you give the two equal weight when that isn't merited.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Pardon the typos in that comment, it's almost 5 a.m. here.

Also, I should have referenced "Human Will, Ability to Choose," and not merely "a human choice," below.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
But MineesotaGopher, the value of possible personhood results in the same distinction as the value of possible life in this context. That is, unless someone can provide proof that their definition of a person is correct.

It's also important to note a materialist, soul-is-not-supernatural perspective is still a religious perspective because it is unsubstantiated by irrefutable proof. There has been no cause and effect established between the brain and the mind, by which I mean a human choice. It is therefore not inconsistent with the evidence to believe that the soul is supernatural.

Consequently, a Christian understanding of the person cannot be ruled out, and the tradition of the Faith has held that the physical and the spiritual cannot be disconnected, meaning that any form of body - however small - would be accompanied by a soul, hence a person.

This results in the fact that it the only purely rational solution accounts for both possibilities, leading to the above results and therefore rejecting abortion.
Posted by MineesotaGopher 9 years ago
MineesotaGopher
Unfortunately, Spero, you fail to really address the distinction between life and personhood. However, your opponent did not particularly defend the position well, and thus I vote for you, but your position is not nearly as "rational" (even in your supposed calculus) as you think it is.
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