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  #21  
Old 12-12-2005, 07:18 AM
Siegmund Siegmund is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

Suppose we accept the premise that "abortion is murder because an embryo is a person." Does that automatically mean abortion is wrong?

No. It means abortion is something to be taken very seriously. That's a sentiment I think has significant support even in the pro-choice camp.

Almost everyone believes it is justified to kill in self-defense. It is not surprising a great many people support abortion when the mother's well being is endangered.

Some people believe in euthanasia for the terminally ill. Some people believe in testing for birth defects and aborting the defective. Some would go a step farther, and allow abortion of babies that would be born into a miserable existence - desperately poor, crack whore mothers, whatever - arguing that they are preventing suffering by aborting.

Some people believe in the death penalty. It's not obvious what the parallel would be here.

Some people believe that under the right circumstances, it's okay to declare war on people we don't like, or people who are trying to steal our resources or threatening our way of life. Some people might interpret another mouth to feed as stealing the parents' resources or threatening their carefree way of life. (Odd how even the philosophical warmongers seem to be squicked at the idea of using genocide of the living or forced abortion of the enemy's pregnant women, but it's been done.)

The parallels are not perfect. I am curious whether people's attitudes toward each of the issues involved line up at all with those parallels.
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  #22  
Old 12-12-2005, 10:35 AM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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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?

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I don't think you are missing anything. In RA's posts, we asked him to please explain how an embryo is a person -- and he never did. We pointed out that a 1-week old embryo has no brain, and so it's level of consciousness & sentience is far different than my level of consciousness when I'm asleep. He never responded.

It baffles me, really. It seems to be some deep-rooted emotional reasoning that makes an otherwise rational person make this unsubstantiated claim. OR -- it's the "gap" argument: we don't know when personhood begins, but conception is the most black/white line we have, so that must be it.
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  #23  
Old 12-12-2005, 10:38 AM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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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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I'm not sure who's splitting these hairs -- but it is often equivocated.

Bob dies in the hospital. His body is on the operating table. Is a human on the table? Depends what you mean by "a human". A human body is. But a living human being is not. Using the term "person" makes it easier to discuss, and keeps people from equivocating the term "human".
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  #24  
Old 12-12-2005, 10:45 AM
txag007 txag007 is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

[ QUOTE ]
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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The exact point at which an embryo becomes a person isn't really important. The reason killing an embryo is murder is because left alone that embryo will develop into a person naturally. The same thing cannot be said for sperm.
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  #25  
Old 12-12-2005, 10:48 AM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

[ QUOTE ]
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.

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I'm not sure who said there is no difference. I agree, there is a difference. They both have the potential to be persons, though. As does every cell in my body. But, it's much more likely that an embryo will become a person than that a sperm/egg or other human cell will.

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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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If that futuristically-incubated embryo does not yet have a functioning cerebral cortex, than I would say it is not a person, and therefore killing it would not be murder.

Obviously, I'm disappointed that this is the only response to my questions, but I should have expected as much. The "Raving Atheist"'s blog shows that he is very intelligent and rational, yet a lot of people could not get him to explain his rationale for claiming an embryo is a person.

I think, in the end, the fact is that there is more evidence to support the belief that personhood requires a functioning brain. This is what medical science uses in determining if and when someone is dead. Obviously, an embryo does not have a functioning brain, so if it were on the operating table, a doctor would declare it legally dead.
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  #26  
Old 12-12-2005, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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The reason killing an embryo is murder is because left alone that embryo will develop into a person naturally. The same thing cannot be said for sperm.

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What about the sperm that is just about to penetrate the egg to fertilize it? Naturally, it's about to become a zygote, and eventually, a person. Can I kill the sperm at that point?
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  #27  
Old 12-12-2005, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

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Suppose we accept the premise that "abortion is murder because an embryo is a person." Does that automatically mean abortion is wrong?

No. It means abortion is something to be taken very seriously.

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If an embryo is a person, and therefore abortion is murder, then I think abortion would be wrong in almost all cases. Self-defense being the #1 exception.
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  #28  
Old 12-12-2005, 12:13 PM
imported_luckyme imported_luckyme is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

[ QUOTE ]
What about the sperm that is just about to penetrate the egg to fertilize it? Naturally, it's about to become a zygote, and eventually, a person. Can I kill the sperm at that point?

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The sperm about to enter the egg will result almost surely in a person one day (but never a specific one), a little less surely than the zygote a day later, which is little less sure than 4 week fetus etc. That's why this slippery slope argument is so illogical.
By the 'logic' of the Ragin Atheist you quoted, it's hard to see why this wouldn't be murder if you kill the sperm and the egg ( makes it easy for him to see).

With every other entity, including the difference between people and human bodies in a graveyard we describe it's attributes, if a martian shows up he can read the notes and identify the entity. egg-chicken, acorn-oaktree, chair, eyeball. Sturgeon-cavier.
For various psychological reasons, some people need to set logic aside and want to equate things that aren't equal.
Boil a fertized egg and they'll have PETA after you. Roast an acorn and they kick in the "can't destroy an oaktree bylaw".

specific person The concept that this zygote will be a 'specific person' is nutso. So many random things are going to happen to it as it grows that it's impossible to tell which 'person' it will be. How flawed this DNA argument is can easily be seen with 'identical twins'. They shared a lot of experiences in the womb, almost identical, but even with identical DNA and shared womb they'll still have major differences, they are two people, not one, and not just legally.
There is no way that any set DNA turns out any specific person. Why? A person 'evolves' it isn't rubberstamped by it's DNA. Cloning Me won't create another Me, they'll be tons of differences, some very major. The same things that differentiate me from you will differntiate me from him. The 'specific person' argument is not different from "a person' argument, it just sounds better if you're explaining it to a zygote.

The Raging Ath may be just as non-existant today if his mom had an extra burrito, or a snort of good rye, never mind the flu. All the other people that 'would have been' if the million of events didn't occur after that conception have the same right to claim being murdered as the Raging.
They would exist today but for event X.

The real shame is there is a very necessary discussion that needs to take place, but it has to be based on reality and not contrived, irrational claims.
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  #29  
Old 12-12-2005, 04:38 PM
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

[ QUOTE ]
The real shame is there is a very necessary discussion that needs to take place, but it has to be based on reality and not contrived, irrational claims.

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I agree. One of the best I've ever had on this subject, was with a very open-minded & rational Christian (believe it or not). He was still in college, majoring in Physics, I believe. I think that's a good combination: a science-minded college christian. We didn't reach a conclusion, but we made a lot of progress. He and I both refined our understanding of this critical question.
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  #30  
Old 12-13-2005, 02:36 AM
David Sklansky David Sklansky is offline
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Default Re: D.Sklansky: Why is an embryo a person?

"What about the sperm that is just about to penetrate the egg to fertilize it? Naturally, it's about to become a zygote, and eventually, a person. Can I kill the sperm at that point?"

No. At least not if you believe you shouldn't kill non cognizant embyos.

On the other hand if the point of demarcation is true cognition, then it isn's murder until the baby is maybe 13 months past conception.

Fuzzy cognition may occur at five months and some may argue for that to be the cutoff point.

My only point has always been that the question should not be based on whether the baby is inside or outside the womb. I have no problem with those who argue that killing a newborn is not necessarily murder.
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