The Instigator
go4broke
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
zmikecuber
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

zygote is not A person

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
zmikecuber
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/30/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 989 times Debate No: 44959
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (5)

 

go4broke

Pro

A zygote or early embryo cannot already be A human being because of monozygotic twinning (aka identical twins).

Where each sets of twins come from the same respective zygote/conception.

Surely each twin is not half a person.
zmikecuber

Con

I accept. The BoP shall be on my opponent to show that a zygote is not a person.

Zygote: a cell formed by the union of two gametes (1)

Refuting Pro's arguments
I shall proceed to refute Pro's arguments. Unfotunately they are based upon a hidden premise, which is very weak. I shall convert his argument into logical form to show you what I mean.

P1: A zygote can split apart into two seperate organisms.
C: A zygote cannot be a person.

Now, as the argument is formulated, it isn't valid. So we must add another premise!

P1: A zygote can split apart into two seperate organisms.
P2: Whatever can split apart into two seperate organisms cannot be a person.
C: Therefore, a zygote cannot be a person.

Now the argument is logically valid! This captures Pro's argument, since he is arguing that because a zygote can split apart into two embryos, then it cannot be a person.

However, the second premise has not been established. My opponent must show that whatever can split apart into two new organisms, cannot be a person. Furthermore, I would argue that it false. Let me make an example...

A brain-splitting example
Let's imagine, for the sake of argument, that my brain is in a robotic body. Now I can think, and do everything that a normal person would do, and all that's left of me is my brain. Of course I am a person, but all that's left of my body is my physical brain.

However, let's also assume that my brain could be split in half. Each half would continue on as two people. It's very confusing as to whether or not either of them would be me, or if there are two entirely new people. However, this is irellevant.

But the problem is, it doesn't follow that I wasn't a person to begin with! Just because I can be split apart to form two people (one of which may or may not be me) we cannot say that I am not a person!

Conclusion
So my opponent's argument rests upon the premise that whatever can split apart into two new organisms cannot be a person. He has not argued that this is the case, so we have no reasons to accept this premise as true, but we have seen good reasons to think it is not. If a zygote is not a person, only due to the fact that it could split apart and form two new people, then we cannot be people either.

Sources:
(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com...
Debate Round No. 1
go4broke

Pro

I am talking about human embryology, cell biology and you are talking robots with brains.
Even brains splitting in half to form two brains.

Let's stick to science (facts).

Your argument is backwards. You start with twins where everyone can agree they are human beings then you make the conclusion that where they came from must have already been a human being.

An attribute of personhood is indivisibility where you cannot split a person in two and create two human beings unlike the early conception where it still has the potential to twin or not even develop (i.e. blighted ovum).

When an embryo splits in two what happened to the original person that now exists as two embryos/persons?
zmikecuber

Con

Shifting of the BoP
My opponent argues:

"Your argument is backwards. You start with twins where everyone can agree they are human beings then you make the conclusion that where they came from must have already been a human being."

Unfortunately, this is not what I am arguing. I am not arguing that a zygote is a person, rather I am refuting Pro's arguments that a zygote is not a person.

I am under no obligation to show that a zygote is a person. Rather, I am under an obligation to disprove Pro's arguments.

If the human person is immaterial...
My opponent mistakes between the self and the body. While I agree that the self (if it is immaterial) cannot be split in half, the body can. I have never argued that the self can split apart into two selves.

That being said, if the human person, or the "self" is immaterial, then there is no problem at all. The physical matter is what is splitting in half, not the "self."

Perhaps the original person has ceased to exist, and two entirely new people have begun to exist! Perhaps the original person still exists in one half of the zygote, but a new person has begun to exist in the other half. These are valid possibilities. If my opponent accepts that the self is immaterial, then he must demonstrate that such things are impossible.

If the human person is material...
Now on the other hand, let's assume that the person really just is the physical matter of the zygote. But if this is the case, then it's not clear how there even is a problem.

If the human person just is the physical matter, then my opponent's initial premise, that a person cannot be split in half, is obviously false. If the human person just is certain physical matter, then a human person most certainly can split into two new people. This is what happens in monozygotic twins.

Argumentum ad ignoratium
My opponent asks:

"When an embryo splits in two what happened to the original person that now exists as two embryos/persons?"

But such a question is irrellevant, and in fact assumes that the self is splitting in half, which is an unnecessary assumption, one I surely have not made.

Even if we do not know what happens to the original person, it doesn't follow from this that the original zygote is not a person. This is simply an argument from ignorance; our lack of knowledge does not predicate that the zygote is not a person. (1)

Conclusion
In conclusion, my opponent has not refuted my brain-splitting argument, merely passing it off as science fiction. I do, however, think it is a good example of what is at hand to demonstrate that we cannot infer the original zygote is not a person.

I would also like to present this horned argument:

P1: Either the "self" is immaterial, OR it is material.
P2: IF the self is immaterial, THEN there are other options than the self splitting in half, and my opponents arguments fail.
P3: IF the self is material, THEN the human self can, and does, split apart into two people, and my opponent's argument fails.
C: Therefore, in either case, my opponent's argument fails.

P1 is an application of the law of excluded middle. P2 and P3 have been argued for above. The argument is also logically valid. Thus, the conclusion follows necessarily.

Sources:
(1) http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
Debate Round No. 2
go4broke

Pro

You seem to be avoiding the crux of the issue.
Let me take another approach and talk about the early conception and discuss the totipotency of the cells of the early conception where one cell or a group of cells can become an embryo too.

Library is closing, later.
zmikecuber

Con

My opponent thinks that I have not responded to his arguments. However, I have. Setting this aside, I shall conclude with a few remarks...

Conclusion

Now, as I've stated above, the personal identity is either material, or it is non-material.

If the personal identity, or whatever it is that makes a person a person, is material, then this can surely be divided. My opponent's argument rests upon the premise that division of the human person is impossible. But, if the human person is strictly material, it is very possible for the human person to be divisible, since material is divisible in its nature.

On the other hand, if the personal identity is immaterial, then we have seen no reasons to believe that this immaterial personal identity has divided when the zygote does. We know that the physical matter has divided, but we have no reason to believe the immaterial has. Perhaps the personal identity ceases to exist, and two new ones have arisen. Perhaps the personal identity has continued with one part of the zygote, while a new personal identity has arisen for the other half. These are valid options, and as long as they are on the table, we should not assume that the personal identity has divided.

Therefore, in either case, my opponent's argument fails, and the resolution remains unaffirmed.

It has not been demonstrated that a zygote is not a person.

Please vote Con!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
The whole idea of the indivisibility is from Descartes, and is assuming substance dualism. My point is that if we assume substance dualism, then there's no reasons to believe that the human person is dividing, since there's more to the human person than just physical matter.

If we assume that the human person just IS physical matter, then the human person most certainly can split into two.

The debate is over though, so I'm not going to continue discussing this in the comments, since that's not exactly good conduct.
Posted by go4broke 3 years ago
go4broke
YOUR argument is flawed.

let's look at the two possibilities you gave.

First you said one possibility is the original person ceases to exists yet all the cells that made up the original person now exists in the two embryos. Did the original person die when it disappeared?

Unlike a person when you split in half you would have two halves of a dead person.

There is no original embryo to discern since both embryos came about by splitting?

What if the original twin twins again to form triplets or quads then what happened to the original twin that twinned again?

There is no inherent indivisibility with the early conception unlike people.

You can split a normal embryo in two BUT not people.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by progressivedem22 3 years ago
progressivedem22
go4brokezmikecuberTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Con had credible arguments, whilst Pro didn't.
Vote Placed by saxman 3 years ago
saxman
go4brokezmikecuberTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: He had better arguments, was more composed and organized, and used sites.
Vote Placed by CynicalDiogenes 3 years ago
CynicalDiogenes
go4brokezmikecuberTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Only Con seems to be making any arguments here.Pro was not really serious about this debate, and did not even bother to formulate his arguments well.
Vote Placed by black_squirrel 3 years ago
black_squirrel
go4brokezmikecuberTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I think PRO made the mistake of not clarifying who has the BOP. CON stated that PRO has the BOP and did not contest it. Also, PRO did not define what a "person" is. CON gave some sources, but none were really essential to the debate.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 3 years ago
Krazzy_Player
go4brokezmikecuberTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were effectively refuted by Con whereas Pro failed to provide sufficient arguments regarding his stance. Thus arguments is clearly won by Con.