Saturday, March 19, 2011

Long Facebook thread: Abolish Human Abortion. Chapter 4.

John S
"Not without my help, she can't. Even if she's just in my house, she relies on me totally to survive. Why define viability as "with the best medical care"?"

I'm not saying anyone can survive wholly on their own. I doubt I could survive wholly on my own if stranded on an island. I've never been good at building fires and have no idea how to build a shelter. Viability is not about surviving on your own. It's about surviving at all. A baby born before the 20th week of a pregnancy has 0% chance of survival. I honestly don't understand what's hard about this concept.

"The logical conclusion of what you said about the machine is that human rights are granted at a time in one's life which is not static and can change. Who gets to decide when it changes? Why do you disagree with the Dec of Ind, in which life is an inalienable right which our Creator endows?"

That is the logical conclusion and so far the supreme court has been left to define when a person becomes a person. The congress could try to pass a law / possibly an amendment on this point but they have yet to try to do so. I don't think the president would have much power in creating a legal definition on this issue, but I'm no constitutional scholar (unlike the current president who actually was a professor of constitutional law. This is pretty irrelevant to our current conversation but I do like having a president who has studied the constitution).

I don't disagree with the Declaration of Independence. All "men have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I'm even happy to extend those rights to women and minorities - who were not recognized by the Deceleration of Independence, necessitating the original abolitionists. But I see no reason to extend these rights to things that are not human. Goats don't have those rights. My cats don't have those rights. The debate again boils down to our definitions of a human.

Let me ask it this way, then, because either intentionally or unintentionally you've punted to an authority (SCOTUS) when you need to grapple with moral question yourself.

Would it be morally justifiable for me to lobby people to change the law and amend the Constitution such that it becomes legally obligatory for any citizen to kill people with the initials JS on sight? Not optional; obligatory. The reasoning I would add to the amendment would be "...because those with the initials JS are not human beings".

Why or why not? And please be careful to answer the question I'm asking, not one I'm not asking.

John S
Morally, I don't think it's justifiable for you to lobby congress to infringe the rights of women by revoking Roe v. Wade. It actually makes me a little queasy every time I think about people wanting to strike that down. Neither legally nor morally do I think it's right to murder anyone. I'm against the death penalty and against killing anyone.

I think you'd have a hard time coming up with any kind of philosophical, legal, moral or other definition (except ad hoc) for defining "people with the initials JS" "not human beings." You would have admitted that they were people and thus created a logical problem for yourself.

Legally, you can lobby congress for pretty much whatever you want.

If you are still wondering about my definition of "viability," I just want to reiterate that this is not a definition I made up. The word isn't even in much dispute. Both camps seem to accept the same dictionary definition (from

capable of living.
Physiology .
physically fitted to live.
(of a fetus) having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus.

Alright, John, now we're getting somewhere, and I again appreciate your interaction here.
Yes I know that legally I can do what I said. I'm not asking about that. What is legal is not always what is moral, and vice versa, as I'm sure you'd agree.

You said:
--"I'm... against killing anyone."

I would now like to know if you're CERTAIN that a non-viable fetus is not "someone".
If you're certain of it, how do you KNOW that?
If you're UNcertain of it, why have you not made the connection between that and how abortion is killing a life that you're not sure isn't human?

You said:
--"I think you'd have a hard time coming up with any kind of philosophical, legal, moral or other definition (except ad hoc) for defining "people with the initials JS" "not human beings."

Listen closely, b/c many, many ppl through the course of history would disagree with you, on two sides:
1) Plenty of people, and yes, that includes otherwise-famous philosophers, have justified immoral warfare and violence against other people by defining them out of humanity/personhood. The Nazis did it. Seneca and the Romans did it. The American South did it. Countless tribes of ppl have done it and still do it.
You're aping them, perhaps unknowingly - you've defined the small unborn out of humanity/personhood, and you don't have a good reason for it (except ad hoc).
2) Tons of people throughout history have disagreed with you that babies are not human beings. You, again, need to defend WHY your definiton of humanity is right. Don't just assert it.

So, you haven't defended it morally yet. Please defend your position on when one becomes human and how you know.

Finally, you said:
--"I don't think it's justifiable for you to lobby congress to infringe the rights of women by revoking Roe v. Wade."

1) Please tell us how you know whether anything is morally justifiable. Give us your standard.
2) Who's wanting to "infringe" upon women's "rights"? Is it infringing on slaveowners' rights to tell them they can't own slaves? Is it infringing on murderers' rights to tell them they can't murder others? I guess so, by your argument.
3) How do you know that killing a baby is a woman's right? B/c SCOTUS says so? How is that not punting to an authority, when I've specifically asked you not to do so, and to defend your position yourself? Where is this right enshrined? In some religious text? In the Constitution?
4) Are you a theist? How do you even know that rights exist?

Viability speaks to the stage of development of a person. Thus, the viability argument boils down to power and age - the older and more powerful have the right to kill the younger and less powerful, at a stage the older and more powerful decide.
Yet the notion of human rights is to protect the less powerful from the more powerful. To see what I mean, think of the slavery argument. Substitute "viable" for "white" and "non-viable" for "Negro".

John S
That's part of my point is that you can't substitute viable for white and non-viable for negro. I don't agree that it's a valid analogy. Both the white and the negro were humans under both of our definitions of the word. The non-viable is not human. Therefore it's a false analogy. The parts are not similar.

Not if I'm a slaveowner. You need to answer the slaveowner.
Negros are clearly not human. How do I know? Just LOOK at them! They're at a lower level of evolutionary development. Most of them can't read. They talk funny. They have black skin. They're clearly made for manual labor, and we all know that manual labor is a baser practice than reading and other intellectual endeavors.

See? Negros are clearly not human. Because I said so, and most scientists agree.

Your turn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Viability isn't the issue. That is the short answer. Surely, you don't consider a grown person a non-human because they require an oxygen tank to live. They certainly are not "physically fitted to live".