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  #11  
Old 12-11-2005, 01:45 PM
maurile maurile is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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An embryo will become a person if you let it. That's why I think that it is wrong to kill it. You are preventing a life from continuing its development to the point where it can be born.

I guess that makes me the third intelligent atheist to hold that view. In case you doubt my intelligence, I will let you know that I am an honours engineering/mathematics student.

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A sperm will become a person if you let it. Therefore, it is wrong to spill seed.

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A sperm by itself cannot become a person simply by letting it grow, you also need an egg.

Since an embryo is a fertilized egg, if you leave it be, it will eventually grow into a human being. The same cannot be said for either a single sperm or ovum.

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If you leave an embryo be, it will wither and die.

You need to add stuff to it (like nutrients), just like you have to add stuff to a sperm. It's a difference of degree, not kind.
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  #12  
Old 12-11-2005, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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Since an embryo is a fertilized egg, if you leave it be, it will eventually grow into a human being.

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I like the other replies to your comment, but wanted to add one thing. (I am assuming that by "human being" you mean "person" as defined above.)

You are arguing that a zygote will grow into a person. Implying that it is not a person right now. That's fine. I agree (for the most part - since it's no guarantee that it definitely will, but it is likely).

But potential people are not people, and do not have the right to life. Every cell in my body is a potential person -- it just needs a little genetic engineering to eventually become a clone of me. Obviously, though, my cells do not have their own right to life -- I can choose to kill any of them without being convicted of murder.

So, like luckyme said, this thread is not directed at your view -- that a zygote is a potential person. We could have a different discussion (in a different thread, preferably), about the value of potential persons (e.g. zygotes), and what legal rights we should grant them. This thread is directed at the atheistic view that an embryo IS a person, and therefore has the right to life.

I await D.Sklansky's response. [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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  #13  
Old 12-11-2005, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

While we are all anxiously awaiting D.Sklansky's reply, I thought I'd post a few summary clips from the other intelligent atheist's comments on abortion:

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The first, central, and indispensable issue regarding abortion is whether the fetus is a person. Issues regarding the woman's "choice" or other such euphemisms need not, and cannot, be considered until the fetus' status is resolved. If the fetus is nothing more than a wart, tumor or similar aggregation of cells, there is no moral question involved. Nobody disputes a woman's right to remove the growth under those circumstances, and it would be silly to frame the debate in terms of "choice" if that were all that were involved. However, if the fetus is a person, then the woman's "choice" is restricted in the same way it would be were she considering the killing of any other person: an abortion would be permissible only if her life was endangered.

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You would not notice the difference, today, had you been killed yesterday, last week, a year ago, ten years ago, as newborn, or in the womb. But it would have been you that would have been killed, nonetheless, had the killing occurred at any moment after your identity was genetically determined.

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I am anti-abortion and anti-choice not because I believe in God, but because I don't.

I don't believe that God installs an eternal soul into every person at conception. I don't believe in eternal souls at all. If they did exist, abortion wouldn't matter. The soul could simply reunite with God, or find another body to inhabit. Murder wouldn't matter, either, for the same reason.

But I do believe that my genetic, mathematical identity was set at conception. That is not some fantasy or superstition. To have destroyed that clump of cells would have destroyed me, forever, and my only chance at existence.

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It would equally be a fantasy to believe that I existed before conception. No sperm or egg, has the potential by itself to develop into a human being -- any more than does an acorn or a rock. ... I was never, genetically or mathematically, identical or even similar to anything that existed before my conception.

But after then it was a certainty, absent an accident, that I would develop into what I am. ... a clump of cells with the potential to develop into a self-conscious supercomputer is a different matter altogether. It is not mad to draw the line at the first moment of such potential, and I do not see another other place at which it can be reasonably drawn.

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In fact -- as it is always in the abortion debate -- the true objection to my position has nothing to do with legal theory but rather where I draw the line as to where human life begins. My view that life begins at conception is considered irrational, or, as John Kerry would put it, an "article of faith." Reasonable people know, of course, that life begins at six months, an assumption which is somehow not an article of faith but a scientific fact. After that magic moment virtually everyone is anti-choice -- i.e., anti-legalization except where the woman's life or health is seriously threatened. And the legal line, like mine, is drawn to perfectly coincide with the perceived moral one.

Which requires me, again, to present some cold, hard facts. Any human life, at any stage after conception, at any stage after birth, can be snuffed out quickly and painlessly. You are delusional if you think that it's substantially more difficult to kill a one week old fetus than a six month old one. You are delusional if you think that the quality of the sentience of a one-week-old embryo, a six-month-old fetus, a sleeping infant, or you when unconscious, are substantially different.

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  #14  
Old 12-11-2005, 08:21 PM
bobman0330 bobman0330 is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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A person is a living human with the right to life.

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You're using the wrong definition. Is dissolving a corporation murder because a corp. is a legal person with rights? That's what definition 3 refers to. Definition 1 (if you're pro-life) or 2 (if pro-choice) both make more sense in this context.
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  #15  
Old 12-11-2005, 09:00 PM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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A person is a living human with the right to life.

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You're using the wrong definition. Is dissolving a corporation murder because a corp. is a legal person with rights? That's what definition 3 refers to. Definition 1 (if you're pro-life) or 2 (if pro-choice) both make more sense in this context.

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I do not see any point in arguing with you on this point. Those definitions are for the sake of discussion, and I have provided various terms that can be used to mean whatever you want to mean, in a way that can be unequivocally understood by all persons in the discussion. If you feel there is another term or definition that is needed, then feel free to supply it to the discussion. I've used these terms before in similar discussions, and nobody has ever had a problem with them.
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  #16  
Old 12-11-2005, 09:54 PM
bobman0330 bobman0330 is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

I'm just pointing out that that's an exceptionally silly definition to use in the context of this debate. Framing the question of abortion as, "Does this entity have the right to life?" is entirely circular. In addition, I don't think that definition is what anyone means when they use "person" in a discussion about morality.
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  #17  
Old 12-11-2005, 10:22 PM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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I'm just pointing out that that's an exceptionally silly definition to use in the context of this debate. Framing the question of abortion as, "Does this entity have the right to life?" is entirely circular. In addition, I don't think that definition is what anyone means when they use "person" in a discussion about morality.

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I think you are mistaken in a few ways... none of which is very pertinent to this thread, unless D.Sklansky has a problem with the definitions.

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That being said... a "living human being" is usually synonymous with "person". When someone dies, they are no longer a "living human being", and therefore no longer a "person". The question of when "personhood" begins, is the critical question in the abortion debate. This thread is about what criteria determines when someone is a "living human being" (a person). Using the term "person" is simpler and keeps people from equivocating. Is a zygote alive? yes. Is it human? Yes. Is it "a human"? Umm... do you mean, a "living human being" (or "person")? That's the question. I've never met anyone who had a problem with these definitions -- everyone seems to understand what they mean, and it's pretty simple terminology to use in this discussion to keep people from equivocating.

Anyway, I only updated this response to give you the benefit of the doubt... No more on this from me unless others think this is a serious line of enquiry (preferably D.Sklansky).
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  #18  
Old 12-12-2005, 01:18 AM
imported_luckyme imported_luckyme is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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The first, central, and indispensable issue regarding abortion is whether the fetus is a person.

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However, if the fetus is a person, then the woman's "choice" is restricted in the same way it would be were she considering the killing of any other person:

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Kip, it sounds like you're more familiar with this type of debate. Above is how the guy starts his claim. I expected to hear an argument for the fetus being a person. But what little argument he lays out is for it being a potential person. Am I missing something subtle?

I must say, I almost preferred DS's "everybody knows" and "OF COURSE IT IS" line of reasoning to this fellas -
a) it's not insane. ( the baseline sanity test).
b) I can't think of anything else. ( the GAP argument)
c) some claim equating a 1 week fetus sentience to his unconscious sentience ( I'm going to offer to arrange the switch for him). Leaving aside how he knows that, it seems strange to even make the 'potential person' argument by comparison to the one time we don't consider a normal person guilty for their actions because they aren't really there. Odd. ( I have other objections, but I wanted to see if my lack of familiarity caused me to overlook a reference that mattered) Is this the best of these type of claims you have came across. I was disappointed.

luckyme
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  #19  
Old 12-12-2005, 04:24 AM
daryn daryn is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

i just wanted to state that the guy trying to split hairs between a HUMAN and a PERSON is probably a fool
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  #20  
Old 12-12-2005, 05:36 AM
David Sklansky David Sklansky is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

Firstly those who say there is no difference between a sperm and an embryo are so obviously wrong that I won't bother to explain.

I have no problem with those who say that killing an embryo is not murder as long as they would say the same thing about killing an embryo kept alive in a futuristic incubator.
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