06 October 2010

Ignoracio

Dear Jo

Lovely to see you last week. Sorry about the damage to the popemobile…. it would have to be a wet fish lorry we hit wouldn’t it….. :-((

Anyway Mrs Root said that Ignacio, the head of the Pontificia de Academia Pro Vitro , wasn’t terribly chuffed about Robert Edward getting the Nobel prize for medicine for his pioneering work in IVF treatments. Mrs Root was a little dissapointed about this because we’ve have just signed up for another round of treatment with Rob.

We’ve been going at it like rabbits for ages now, trying to do it the natural way, but it just isn’t working…. and who will take over the wet fish counter when we’ve gone?

Mrs Root got very upset when he said there were millions and millions of embryos in freezers all round the world. ‘We’re not having any of that nonsense with ours,’ she said indignantly, ‘”Fresh is Best”, when it comes to fish, and embryos, eh Henry? Womb temperature or nothing, that’s the ticket?’

If the boffins do make a little Rootlet in a test tube though, will we have to bring it to the Vatican to have the soul installed and can we add a couple of drops of holy water to help things along a bit?

I’ve no idea what God does with the embryos of atheist and secular riff-raff, but given that there are ten million spontaneous abortions every day… well… a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, isn't it Jo?

Yours in Utero

Henry Root

75 comments:

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

There is nothing so foolish that some philosopher has not said it, and there is nothing so evil that some bioethicist has not proposed it. — Anthony Daniels

More on the damage caused by IVF

Caudimordax said...

LOL! Nice one, Clod.

CSPB's quote is a perfect example of a "deepity."

decius said...

Don't bother following Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti's spammy link, unless you have a fetish for corrosive dogma and deficient logic. It will take you to his blog - a venue more dense with pomposity than his own moniker (if you can believe that) - where visitors aren't allowed to comment.
There is really nothing new with the triad cuntholics, pronouncements ex-cathedra and preemptive obliteration of dissent, but one has to wonder why they even bother with the blogosphere. Let cluelessness propel them, whether it's blogging, sex, ethics or science.

clodhopper said...

Caudi: Not really a deepity even, just a glib and meaningless sound-bite.

Phil Rimmer said...

Sorry decius, I did follow CSPB's spammy link. But, it was pointless. It said something like medical procedures have risks and that in the past some people have not been properly informed of those risks, so in some cases those procedures have been inappropriate and harmful to those individuals with no outweighing upside. I may be stupid but isn't there a risk from any potentially beneficial medical procedure? Then it seemed to descend into the irrelevant scenario of the deaf actively wishing to inflict deafness on their kids, (a sad fantasy of some deaf couples. My ex-wife, who has deafness in her side of the family, and works as a signing interpreter, knows of deaf parents relieved and happy that their children were born deaf. One such had thought that their prayers had been answered. How can couples wish to inflict their own narrow choice of community on their kids? The selfish truly are everywhere.) So, how many ethics committees have signed off on this? How many are likely to?

There also seemed to be a curious omission of mention of all those wanted and loved children that would not otherwise be. How on earth was this meant to be an intelligent critique of Mr Hopper’s pointed blog post? Poor stuff.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

I did follow CSPB's spammy link. But, it was pointless. It said something like medical procedures have risks and that in the past some people have not been properly informed of those risks.—Phil Rimmer:

Phil: If you believe (which I doubt) that people are now properly informed about IVF, or anything else, you are naive.

The principal problem with IVF, which you ignore, is that it results in the selective abortion of surplus eggs. Encoded within the DNA of the human egg is all the genetic information necessary to determine the characteristics of an individual. The foetus has heart pulsation and brain function from a very early stage.

By failing to protect the personhood of the smallest member of the human family, IVF violates the fundamental moral axioms which protect all our lives. The right of a couple to have children does not trump the right to life.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

"a venue more dense with pomposity than his own moniker" —Imperator Gaius Messius Quintus Decius Valerianus

clodhopper said...

Is it just human life that is protected by sanctimonious axiom?

On who's authority?

Phil Rimmer said...

Phil: If you believe (which I doubt) that people are now properly informed about IVF, or anything else, you are naive.

As I believe the general public can always use more information about just about everything, this is one of the least likely causes of any naivety on my part.

Sadly, you seem not to offer any actual information to the general public in this most recent assertion of yours to me. Your magical musings on en-souled cells rather requires a naive public for any acceptance.

I will gladly respond to any suggestions you have for actual information still needed.

clodhopper said...

Phil P: Why is your blog closed to comments?

AllanW said...

What an ignorant fuckwit CSPB is. Witness this astounding basis for his dogmatic ignorance;

"Encoded within the DNA of the human egg is all the genetic information necessary to determine the characteristics of an individual."

Completely wrong; spectacularly wrong; stellarly, epically wrong, unscientific and as the basis for his dogma, as functional as jelly nails.

CSPB; the egg contains exactly half of the required information you ignorant tool. And as such is completely useless to form any embryo, foetus, child or any other basic building-block of 'life' that you constantly elide the term 'egg' into meaning.

Come on guys, if you're going to let this halfwit get away with basic logic errors like this then what hope do you have for beating someone who in fact does have a functioning brain rather than someone who is so cankerously hobbled by his Catholic delusions that he instantly appears like a dribbling idiot?

decius said...

the selective abortion of surplus eggs. Encoded within the DNA of the human egg is all the genetic information necessary to determine the characteristics of an individual.

This is also true of every sperm ejaculated by the priest forcing himself on altar boys, as well as all of the billions of cells you exterminate each time you scratch you skin. Does that make him, or you, a mass-murderer?

An egg is an egg. It isn't an omelette or a chicken, until a sequence of very significant, irreversible transformations occur along the t axis.
We shouldn't be expected to recognise chickenhood to all eggs any more than we should refer to you as the late CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI, or demand to inherit your properties, before your time has come.

decius said...

You are right Allan. But we could still consider as full individuals also all the potential clones of either parent, in order to see where CSPB's idiotic reasoning leads in any case.

Hazel said...

There is nothing so foolish that some philosopher has not said it, and there is nothing so evil that some bioethicist has not proposed it. — Anthony Daniels

Well I hope he honestly attributed the first half of this misquote to Cicero who actually said.

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.

Of course, there is a difference between foolish and absurd, mind you, some people do manage to make statements of both type.

Phil Rimmer said...

Curses, you spoiled my fun! I wished the whole house built before pointing out the sand foundations.

His assertions on DNA etc. even if they were correct have, so far, no logical connection with there being a problem. He has not even joined his own proffered dots yet. The parallel statements of a genetic code (arguably complete but never used that way) with heart beats and neural twitches has yet to be turned into the need to give a damn.

AllanW said...

Expect a condescending button-reset post in 3 .... 2 .... 1 ....

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

clodhopper said: "Is it just human life that is protected by sanctimonious axiom?
On who's authority?"


Maurice: Do you reject the existence of a right to life? Since I do not believe you do, please explain to me where you think this right comes from? Why, for example, was this baby denied the right to life?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Phil Rimmer said: "Your magical musings on en-souled cells rather requires a naive public for any acceptance."

Where in my article did I mention the soul?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Phil Rimmer said: "Your magical musings on en-souled cells rather requires a naive public for any acceptance."

Where in my article did I mention the soul?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

AllanW said: "The egg contains exactly half of the required information.

From the context it is clear I was referring to the fertilized egg. You either did not read my article or this is a straw man.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

decius said: "An egg is an egg."

A fertilized egg is a human being. If you believe otherwise please let me at which point you think we acquire the right to be considered human?

decius said...

Then a fertilised fowl egg is in fact a chicken.

It is you who need to explain why we should take seriously any such absurd suggestion when applied to our species.

Hazel said...

Do you reject the existence of a right to life?

This is not sufficient to rule out abortion. It is perfectly possible to grant a right to life, but still to defend abortion as a choice.

See Judith Jarvis Thompson’s Defence of Abortion.

‘Right to life’ and ‘right to the use of another’s body’ are different things.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

decius said... "Then a fertilised fowl egg is in fact a chicken."

If you claim that the human foetus is not human and has no human rights then at what point exactly in its developement does it become human and acquire rights?

I really do want to hear your answer to this question. If the foetus is merely an egg then you should not be in the least perturbed by these photos from the Center for Bioethical Reform.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Hazel said..."It is perfectly possible to grant a right to life, but still to defend abortion as a choice... See Judith Jarvis Thompson’s Defence of Abortion."

One does not see how. Please see Brendan Malone's refutation of the logic in this infamous article.

AllanW said...

CSPB; "From the context it is clear I was referring to the fertilized egg. You either did not read my article or this is a straw man."

The conclusion of your article is here (yes, I did bother to read it. Yes, I found it risible.);

"The UPR publication Diálogo should not be providing a platform for companies calling for the donation of human eggs. If human life is the price to be paid for funding this publication, better that it be closed down."

You are plainly talking about the advertisements in that publication. The advertisements are for egg donors. Egg donation is of unfertilised eggs. You knew this as it was made plain throughout your frothing diatribe that you understood the distinction between fertilisation of the eggs and the state they were in when harvested or donated. So your comment above (about context in response to mine) is a deliberate and knowing lie. Despicable behaviour.

I say 'knowing' but from the numerous times you elide 'egg', 'life', 'embryo', 'foetus' etc it may just be possible that you have deluded yourself into some unaware state whereby your santimonious rage has bettered your rational and analytical parts. I hope that's the explanation for what is to all intents and purposes shaming and immoral behaviour.

Lying; for shame.

clodhopper said...

Phil: I believe you have overlooked some prior questions I put to you?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

AllanW said... "The UPR publication Diálogo should not be providing a platform for companies calling for the donation of human eggs. If human life is the price to be paid for funding this publication, better that it be closed down. ...You are plainly talking about the advertisements in that publication. The advertisements are for egg donors. Egg donation is of unfertilised eggs."


I invite readers to read the article which clearly explains that egg donation leads to the destruction of embryos. Here is a citation from the article.
.
"Fertilized embryos have a tendency to spontaneously abort and are associated with an increased rate of miscarriage. Half of those that do survive occur in multiplets who suffer premature birth with its attendant medical problems. Children conceived by IVF have an increased risk of major birth defects and cerebral problems including cerebral paralysis. Often the weakest are selectively aborted, often for nothing more than eugenic reasons. "

You seem to be avoiding the real issues. Namely, at what point do we acquire the right to life, and what is the basis of this right?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

clodhopper said...
"Is it just human life that is protected by sanctimonious axiom?"

Sanctimonious axiom?
sanc·ti·mo·ni·ous
adj. Feigning piety or righteousness:


Can an axiom feign piety? Your question in reality contains the glimmer of a statement. I do not know to which system of ethics you are referring. Ethics deriving from religion? from natural law philosophy?, morality based on Darwinist survival of the fittest? Hopefully, any system of ethics will protect more than human life.

decius said...

CSPB, fertilised egg, foetus and human being aren't interchangeable terms. You may not use them as such, then exploit the ensuing confusion of your own making as an argument in support of catholic dogma.

I cannot answer exactly when a foetus can be considered a human being (we are dealing with a spectrum of slowly-occurring radical changes, which makes the problem into a permutation of the sorite paradox), and neither can you.
We can only be honest with ourselves and admit that those three stages are very distinct, and that our species is biologically no different from other organisms who reproduce sexually.

Clearly, consciousness plays a major role in the onset of personhood, and a shareable ethic should take into account all the uncertainties involved when drawing the guidelines for abortion (as it is already the case anywhere where it is legal). However, this realisation won't serve you as an argument for banning the manipulation of oocytes and embryos, any more than it could precipitate a ban on masturbation.

Hazel said...

Part 1

(The blog software on here does not like long comments)

Please see Brendan Malone's refutation of the logic in this infamous article.

Interesting link.

However, I don’t think it works as a refutation.

His starting criticism, which is really a criticism of thought experiments as a form of argument ...

Something just doesn’t sit right with me about a search for philosophical truth which doesn’t start with the real, but instead starts with a fictional fabrication that has only the most passing of resemblances to the real situation that it claims to be presenting the truth about.

... is not a brilliant start, there is a small point in there, but not a major one.

I say small point because I do have issues with thought experiments which are technically impossible (as they tell you only about the person putting them forward), but this is evidently not the case here. Moral philosophers, in their search for insight into the nature of ethical intuitions, posit thought experiments to elicit responses to situations that are functionally equivalent, but non-personalised.

This non-personalisation is deliberate in that ethical dilemmas are best viewed calmly and without the use of emotional as opposed to rational argumentation. (i.e. the use of fetal photographs) Moral philosophers often get criticised (see your Daniels quote) due to people viewing their calm arguments and presuming a lack of care on their part. In actually, of course, worry about making ill-considered (and thus possibly unethical judgements) is behind the requirement for calm analysis of all possibilities.

With regard to his main points:

1. The violinist scenario involves a non consensual act (kidnapping, etc), so straight away it does not compare to any consensual act of sexual intercourse that results in pregnancy.

I agree that this is more applicable to rape, but it is not constrained to rape due to the complexity of sexual situations and the reasons for women agreeing to sex not being constrained to expression of love for a partner. (Incidentally, I note that he did not address the issue of the permissibility of abortion after rape. I do wonder why?)

I would argue that similar principles apply when you are trying to cheat the laws of nature (which are actually far less forgiving than any human legal code and law enforcement agent!)

His likening of contraception to ‘cheating the laws of nature’ is really very instructive. Instructive regarding this thought processes that is. Firstly, he makes no argument for cheating the law of nature being something that is, by definition, bad. Other than, of course, the use of the emotive term ‘cheating. One could think of situations whereby ‘cheating the laws of nature’ is positively advisable – as a smart man once said:

If I turn aside a stone which is falling upon my head, I disturb the course of nature, and I invade the peculiar province of the Almighty, by lengthening out my life beyond the period which by the general laws of matter and motion he had assigned it.

It appears that insufficient work has been placed by the author into working though what he feels desirable or undesirable and why.

Hmm, I wonder whether he feels that the rhythm method is also a form of ‘cheating’. The avoidance of conception is the goal with this stratagem: as it is with other forms of contraception. Admittedly, it involves the utilization of mathematics as opposed to physics or chemistry (how remarkable that the moral condemnation is lacking in the first case), but the aim is the same.

Also, evident is a really rather depressing conflation of pregnancy with punishment – for someone concerned (presumably) with the celebration of life this strikes me as most odd.

Hazel said...

Part 2

2. Thomson’s analogy in no way reflects the true reality of the bond between mother and unborn child.

How useful it must be to have mind-reading skills! This is a) a lazy generalisation and b) shows again lack of understanding about the avoidance of emotional language and argumentation in ethics (which I elaborated on earlier).

3. Thomson presents a very egocentric view of rights, one which lacks the important and complementary grounding in the notion of responsibilities.

Generally speaking, I do have sympathy for the complaint that some talk of rights is often notable for lacking a discussion of concordant responsibilities (I don’t think one has a ‘right’ to a seat in a specific seat on a bus, for example).

However, this is not a sufficient argument in that there is a lack of discussion of the rights of the agent in the situation – the agent being the women concerned. It you wish to assign personhood to a foetus (and thus talk about the rights and responsibilities that it may or may not be in possession of) then this is an assertion that will require a warrant.

As will this one:

What Thomson does is completely ignore the (cardinal) human right, the right to life, and instead she treats pregnancy as an issue of property/tenancy type rights, or consumer type rights, etc.

A cardinal right? What’s that then? What is cardinal and what is not? Are there cardinal responsibilities to go alone with cardinal rights? Are they coloured red? I try to employ the principle of charity, but I think I am being fair in noting that this statement really does require some more work to be persuasive.

Generally, all this moral condemnatory language in response to Thompson is unfair in that makes her point that person keeping the violinist alive is acting as a good Samaritan with their actions. This is a not a binding injunction, but it is prescriptive in its formulation. Her article is about defending abortion – not an advocating it.

AllanW said...

Oh dear! Your last reply to my demonstration of your lying is deeply disingenuous; I'd have to rely on more expert analysts to decide whether it was 'hand-waving' or 'bait-and-switch' but in either case your attempt to gloss-over a most egregious lie is troubling. It should be for you too but plainly you are comfortable in your own mind that lying is a conscionable tactic in the service you are attempting to perform for your Master.

Let's leave the lie there then but go on to your attempt to divert attention elsewhere. You say:

"You seem to be avoiding the real issues. Namely ..."

And once again I am forced into an 'Oh Dear!' moment; let me speak plainly. You referenced on clod's blog an article you have written in response to a post of his that you presumably took exception to.

In that circumstance, I'm afraid your claim that the real issue is anything other than 'What are the warrants, reputation and standing of this new entrant' is wholly unacceptable. You seem to want to play-out the second half of the football match before you have demonstrated that you should be taken seriously as a team and deserve to be let out onto the pitch. You are putting the cart before the horse to an extraordinary degree, my friend.

You may have engendered some acceptance from others which has led them to begin debating your terms but I'm afraid to say that you haven't even begun to complete the registration form for the F.A. yet and what information you have submitted seems to have been either ignorant or lying.

Not a good start if you want a serious debate, I'm sure you'll agree but maybe you can put my mind at ease with your bona fides anyway. On what basis and with what experience and skill do you approach the topic of human reproduction, please?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

decius said..."I cannot answer exactly when a foetus can be considered a human being (we are dealing with a spectrum of slowly-occurring radical changes. "

Decius: The only "radical" change occurs at the moment of conception. The full complexity of the human is then fully encoded. Changes thereafter are esentially of form but not essence. There is no point of radical discontinuity. Thats why you cannot find one. Thus life should be valud from conception.

You also claim that "our species is biologically no different from other organisms who reproduce sexually."

Man
Genus proximus: Animal
Differentia Specifica: Capacity to reason.

I see you exclude the mind from the realm of the biological.

Finally, you say that "consciousness plays a major role in the onset of personhood."

Are you claiming we lose our personhood while sleeping?

Scot Rafkin said...

CSRP says:
"The full complexity of the human is then fully encoded."
and suggests that this is somehow sufficient to make a fertilized egg a human.

The full DNA sequencing of many organisms, from humans to fruit flies are encoded on storage devices of computers. I guess that makes some computers humans, some fruit flies, and some....chimeras! Oh the horror! Stop recycling computers, your killing humans and other innocent beings!

Steve Zara said...

Decius: The only "radical" change occurs at the moment of conception. The full complexity of the human is then fully encoded. Changes thereafter are esentially of form but not essence. There is no point of radical discontinuity. Thats why you cannot find one. Thus life should be valud from conception.

If there is radical change at the moment of conception, then it should be possible to say when this happens. There is no single moment of conception. It is a complex process with many, many stages. Does the new life become valid when the head of the sperm penetrates the cell wall? Or when the head reaches the cell nucleus? Or when the first division starts? If so, when during that division?

The full complexity of the human is then fully encoded.

It certainly isn't. The full complexity of the human is an interaction between the developing zygote/embryo/fetus/child/toddler/adolescent/adult and the biological and social environment. An embryo hypothetically raised in a laboratory away from the womb would be different from one that grew within its mother. The fertilized egg is not a receipe for making a human. The fertilized egg is part of the initiation of a process that results in a human.

If there is any dramatic change it is when the developing brain is first awake and aware. That might not even be until birth. Until that point the brain is in something like a comatose state, but unlike in an adult, there is no person present to revive.

Phil Rimmer said...

Changes thereafter are essentially of form but not essence. There is no point of radical discontinuity. That's why you cannot find one. Thus life should be valued from conception.

There in the word "essence" is your magical thinking. It just takes a while for it to reveal itself. All the essence is there from conception, you say, the rest mere detail. The mere detail of brain creation and detailed brain structures, of experience of Hebbian learning of pruning via apoptosis, the eventual dawning of consciousness, of introspection, of a person.

You are totally right to say that there is no discontinuity in the steady accumulation of the potential harms to the foetus. You are entirely wrong to assert or imply by the use of the term "essence" that there is any harm whatsoever at the point of conception, nor for a great period of time thereafter.

There are however existing or accumulating harms outside the womb with which the harms to the foetus should be weighed.

Harms never come in isolation, though moral absolutists always wish they did.

clodhopper said...

There are 2 phil's here so I will use cspb for clarity.

CSPB said - "Your question in reality contains the glimmer of a statement."

No. It is your answer that smacks of evasion.

Let me rephrase the question then: Is human life protected by an axiom?

Mark Jones said...

Changes thereafter are esentially of form but not essence. There is no point of radical discontinuity. Thats why you cannot find one. Thus life should be valud from conception.

Could you explain what happens for those unfortunates who end up with a split-brain, and what appear to be two separate minds, perhaps professing different beliefs?

If one side believes in God and one side doesn't, is the essence split up at death (seems to deny the very definition of essence)? Or are there two 'essences' present in the fertilised egg? If so, where's one of them hiding? Do we all have them lurking in the background? Do they both go to heaven or hell? What does the Pope think?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Hazel:

Thank you taking the time to carefully respond to my post. As you point out, Thomson's "thought experiment" seeks to set up a mapping from a real ethical problem into a fictional universe. The problem, however, common to scientific modeling in general, is that the real world is so complicated that no such functional mapping can be an isomorphism. If it were, the model would be as complicated as the original problem and therefore useless. Rather, the value of such a model hinges on its accordance with reality. When contradictions arise, it is the model that should be discarded. Such is the case here.

Thomson's initial remarks include the philosophically and scientifically erroneous assertion that "A newly fertilized ovum, a newly implanted clump of cells is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree"

Since, acorn and oak are both stages of Quercus alba, Thomson confuses the accidental with the substantial. Neither is a zygote "a clump of cells" but rather the initial single cell containing all the genetic information necessary to form a new individual. Thus, a zygote is already an extremely complicated stage of human life. Unfortunately, relative terms such as small and clump, are commonly used in a misleading fashion by supporters of abortion to hide the complexity of the first stages of life. Such terms have no scientific meaning. Rather, precision is required. For example, one mole of any substance contains about 6.02 X 10^23 molecules (Avogadro's number). It follows that a fetus of weighing less than 10 grams contains of the order of 10^20 atoms (i.e. 10 followed by 20 zeros). To put this in perspective, this number is millions of times greater than the number of stars in the Milky Way. On the other hand it is not very different (in terms of order of magnitude) from the number of molecules in a fully grown human being.

In terms of complexity, the initial and adult stages of human life are of a comparable organizational level hence, should be accorded the same protection.

Quantum physics tells us that, in an instant, at the moment of conception, the functions which describe the states of egg and sperm "entangle" and, thereafter, the resulting tensor product describes a new, holistic, creation. Although the fertilization process may take place over some hours, I would guess that establishment of the reaction pathway is instantaneous, subsequent time development --at least in the model of non relativistic, "pioneer" quantum mechanics--, being determined by the time dependent Schrödinger equation. Even this relatively sophisticated mathematical model is far too primitive to ever properly describe the much more complicated physical reality. Continued

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Continued
However, the main flaw in Thomson's argument is not this, but resides in the fact that the analogy of unplugging oneself from the violinist resulting in death, is not at all ethically equivalent to aborting a child.

Donald De Marco in the book Architects of the Culture of Death (Donald De Marco, Benjamin Wiker) identifies three significant ethical differences which I summarize extremely briefly:

1. The Nature of the act.
Unplugging from the violinist is justified by self defense and is not even the direct cause of death--which is a kidney ailment. Abortion, on the other hand directly kills the child. Defense against an aggressor is morally distinct from killing an innocent child.

2. The Intention of the Act
De Marco compares the plight of the violinist with the case of an ectopic pregnancy. In such a pregnancy, a doctor may licitly remove a pathology (for example), the tube in which the pregnancy occurs) and not intend the death of the child. The intention of abortion on the other hand is to kill the unborn child. The two situations are ethically distinct.

3, The nature of the relationship involved.
According to De Marco, "the mother-child is primordial, interpersonal and universally recognized. ... A mother is expected to do things for her children that strangers are not expected to do for each other." ...The moral question is not about the child's "right" to occupy the woman's uterus, but, since the child is already there, whether the woman has the right to expel the child".

I should point out that De Marco gives a much more detailed explanation of these differences. The bottom line is that Thomsons' ethical dilema is not provably equivalent to the moral question of abortion. Hence no conclusion can be drawn concerning the latter.

Continued

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Continued.
Actually, Thomson's second thought experiment borders on insanity:

According to Thomson:
"Suppose you found yourself trapped in a tiny house with a growing child. I mean a very tiny house, and a rapidly growing child--you are already up against the wall of the house and in a few minutes you'll be crushed to death. The child on the other hand won't be crushed to death; if nothing is done to stop him from growing he'll be hurt, but in the end he'll simply burst open the house and walk out a free man. Now I could well understand it if a bystander were to say. "There's nothing we can do for you. We cannot choose between your life and his, we cannot be the ones to decide who is to live, we cannot intervene." But it cannot be concluded that you too can do nothing, that you cannot attack it to save your life. However innocent the child may be, you do not have to wait passively while it crushes you to deathPerhaps a pregnant woman is vaguely felt to have the status of house, to which we don't allow the right of self-defense. But if the woman houses the child, it should be remembered that she is a person who houses it."

As De Marco notes

"Thomson's approach to Philosophy is curious. She abandons existential realities and takes flight in the realm of the phantasmagoric. There, ensconced in that self created world, she makes pronouncements about how people should live and act in our real word. Her view of things proceeds independently from any recognition of an order of either reality or Providence. People-seeds blow into our houses, take root in our carpets, and ask us to be their caretakers. This is science fiction, not the real world. The greatest danger in her thinking, however, is not her approval of abortion, but her portrayal of a world that is s frightening in its arbitrariness and utter inhospitality that the only refuge we can take is within our own isolated will... "


Finally, as De Marco points out, Thomson's essay, contains no references, cites no philosopher, and makes no reference to the extensive literature on Ethics. This is hardly the hallmark of a serious intellectual work.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Hazel: You say that "this non-personalization is deliberate in that ethical dilemmas are best viewed calmly and without the use of emotional as opposed to rational argumentation. (i.e. the use of fetal photographs)"

I could not disagree more. Throughout history, images have been used to highlight injustices. I doubt that slavery could have been abolished without the aid of graphically illustrated pamphlets exposing the horrors of slavery to the public. It is most unfortunate that in the UK today, opponents of abortion are arrested and imprisoned for the use of such graphic photos.

Actually, concrete scientific information including a few photos and an ultrasound image might rapidly have disabused Thomson of her scientifically erroneous identification of "a newly fertilized ovum" with "a newly implanted clump of cells"

scot rafkin said...

CSPB:
"Neither is a zygote "a clump of cells" but rather the initial single cell containing all the genetic information necessary to form a new individual. Thus, a zygote is already an extremely complicated stage of human life."

Once again, you invoke the notion of genetic information creating some equivalence to human life. Is a USB flash stick a human life if it has the human genome stored on it? What happens if I destroy the information? Did I kill the "human" whose DNA was stored?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Scot Rafkin said...
"The full DNA sequencing of many organisms, from humans to fruit flies are encoded on storage devices of computers. I guess that makes some computers humans."


The full DNA sequencing does not a human make. Why should it? The quantum mechanical nature of matter is holistic. Indeed, the very existence of individual molecues is questionable. It is a serious misconception to treat the human as some kind mechanical computing device.

According to Hans Primas philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00000951/00/Realism&QuantumMechanics.pdf
"Traditionally, the physical sciences exclude the subject of cognizance from their enquiry." No known physical theory deals with the reality of man in his freedom"

Thus it makes no sense to equate a DNA code -a mere string of letters- with the corresponding biological object.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

scot rafkin said...
"Once again, you invoke the notion of genetic information creating some equivalence to human life. "

No I didn't. Please read more carefuly what I wrote. The cell is obviously far more than genetic information.

Quine said...

Human beings have an emotional side that is necessary to get us to do anything at all. However, we also have a rational side that has been evolving over the last couple of million years to help us understand when that emotional side needs to be corrected by the consequences of actual fact. And in actual fact, the information in the DNA is meaningless without the context of all the infrastructure that interacts with it to (when it happens to work out) eventually develop into a human being. We cannot pinpoint the exact addition of the individual molecule to the individual cell when that happens (see Decius' ref to Sorties above), but none the less, just because you have identified a place in the process of singularity, does not give you the justification to attribute special significance to that singularity without a reason.

Got evidence?

scot rafkin said...

Great. We agree on something. That an egg or zygote has human DNA doesn't make it a human life. So, when you say,

"Neither is a zygote "a clump of cells" but rather the initial single cell containing all the genetic information necessary to form a new individual. Thus, a zygote is already an extremely complicated stage of human life."

you must now agree that your "thus" doesn't follow. Your conclusion doesn't follow from your premise.

So, what is it in your mind that makes the zygote a human? It's not the DNA. We now agree on that. Is it the "essence" that you brought up earlier? What exactly is this essence?

Steve Zara said...

The full DNA sequencing does not a human make. Why should it? The quantum mechanical nature of matter is holistic.

No, it isn't. It has uncertainty at small scales, but there is no quantum interconnectedness on scales we deal with, not even significantly within cells.

Indeed, the very existence of individual molecues is questionable.

No, but who cares?

It is a serious misconception to treat the human as some kind mechanical computing device.

Which no-one is doing.

According to Hans Primas philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00000951/00/Realism&QuantumMechanics.pdf
"Traditionally, the physical sciences exclude the subject of cognizance from their enquiry." No known physical theory deals with the reality of man in his freedom"


Of course no known physical theory deals with that. No known physical theory can predict the weather for more than two weeks. But that does not mean that there is any magic involved. Just like there is no magic in a ball of cells that can be the origin of a human. Scale does not mean magic.

clodhopper said...

Throughout history, images have been used to highlight injustices. I doubt that child sex abuse could have been abolished without the aid of graphically illustrated pamphlets exposing the horrors of child sex abuse to the public. It is most unfortunate that in the UK today, opponents of child sex abuse are arrested and imprisoned for the use of such graphic photos.

clodhopper said...

CSPB: This 'right' to life of which you speak. How is it established? I have noted that,historically, religions and societies seem to have had some difficulty recognising one.

Hazel said...

Part 1

Thank you taking the time to carefully respond to my post.

No problem – it is basic courtesy to respond to people who address you.

The problem, however, common to scientific modelling in general ...., the value of such a model hinges on its accordance with reality. When contradictions arise, it is the model that should be discarded.

The comment really does tempt me to take a detour into the philosophy of science, but I don’t want to derail the conversation. However, I will content myself with making the point ‘accordance with reality’ is a grand sounding phrase that needs a fair amount of extra work. Models are valuable for their explanatory function and for their production of accurate predictions. Yes, the possession of these attributes indicates accordance with reality, but this is not something that can be presumed on the back of them. After all, it is perfectly possible to utilize a model (in order to make predictions) in one type of circumstance, but to use a different model in another (due to problems arising in certain conditions). Our models are not reality. You touched on this, but unfortunately chose to make statements about complexity rather that investigate the implications of this.

This is all moot though, in that we are talking about thought experiments in philosophy not the modelling that the physicists spend their time with. I explained the point of these in relation to moral philosophy earlier (the investigation of moral intuitions), but your reply above is merely a distracting detour into a different field.

Since, acorn and oak are both stages of Quercus alba, Thomson confuses the accidental with the substantial.

Accidental with substantial? This phrase sounds pretty, but has no content. Let me put this into a real world context (as this seems to make you happier). A first year medical student is a “stage” of a surgeon. Does this stage give them the right to practice as one? Would you be happy with them removing your appendix? Personally (having experience of some medical students) I would hesitate before even letting them examine my verruca.

[The part of your post concerning the conflation of “in possession of genetic information” with “human life “has been dealt with by Scot and your discussion of scale and QM by Steve Zara].

Hazel said...

Part 2

Now onto DeMarco and his criticism of Thompson:

1. The Nature of the act.
Unplugging from the violinist is justified by self defense and is not even the direct cause of death--which is a kidney ailment.


Self defense? No. The argument about the infringement of autonomy, not the avoidance of physical harm.

2. The Intention of the Act
De Marco compares the plight of the violinist with the case of an ectopic pregnancy. In such a pregnancy, a doctor may licitly remove a pathology (for example), the tube in which the pregnancy occurs) and not intend the death of the child.


The tube is not the issue here, and it is thus not the pathology. It is the placement of the foetus that is factor which makes that itself the pathology. This is a deeply dishonest sleight of hand by De Marco here. As for the doctor ‘not intending the death of the child’ (more accurately foetus), when doctors remove tumours do they not ‘intend’ their death?

3, The nature of the relationship involved.
According to De Marco, "the mother-child is primordial, interpersonal and universally recognized. ... A mother is expected to do things for her children that strangers are not expected to do for each other."


Expectations? It this really being put forward as a valid moral argument? With a straight face? I might be expected (as a female) to not attend school, to act as an unpaid skivvy to a mother-in-law when the time is decided by my father that I must marry, and to generally grovel in obedience to any male family member due merely to their possession of a penis. All of these things can be (and are) justified by the adoption of an essentialist view of “a woman’s role” and fallacious appeals to tradition. To say I am unimpressed by this one is to put things politely.

I should point out that De Marco gives a much more detailed explanation of these differences.

Very possibly he does – I rather hope his reasoning is more impressive in the main body of the text than in your quotations of him. However, as you have been providing the edited “highlights”, this does seem rather unlikely.

The bottom line is that Thomson’s ethical dilemma is not provably equivalent to the moral question of abortion. Hence no conclusion can be drawn concerning the latter.

Please don’t set traps for me – that ‘provably’ in not appropriate in this context. As I explained earlier, thought experiments are about functional equivalence.

Hazel said...

Part 3.

Actually, Thompson’s second thought experiment border on insanity

How so? Does it curtail her functioning? Cause her emotional distress? Come along with hallucinations and delusions?

Thomson's approach to Philosophy is curious. She abandons existential realities and takes flight in the realm of the phantasmagoric.

I have dealt with this earlier – the placing of emotional distance is about making considered decisions – not about story telling for the sake of it.

The greatest danger in her thinking, however, is not her approval of abortion, but her portrayal of a world that is s frightening in its arbitrariness and utter inhospitality that the only refuge we can take is within our own isolated will...

Approval? Dear me. De Marco is deeply dishonest. A quote from the text:

First, while I do argue that abortion is not impermissible, I do not argue that it is always permissible. There may well be cases in which carrying the child to term requires only Minimally Decent Samaritanism of the mother, and this is a standard we must not fall below.

As I explained earlier this work is about defending not advocating.

Hazel said...

Part 4.

Finally, as De Marco points out, Thomson's essay, contains no references, cites no philosopher, and makes no reference to the extensive literature on Ethics. This is hardly the hallmark of a serious intellectual work.

Well cut my legs off and call me Shorty! The first glimmer of a point.

Yes, references and citations are indicative, in most cases, of serious work. However there is a difference between indicative and necessary. To fly solo is an act of bravery on the part of the philosopher.

Now this bravery can be demonstrative of undeserved confidence in their own abilities (rather like most teenagers that write blank verse), but it can also be down to originality. The assessment concerning into which category a paper falls comes with readership and time.

[The part of your post relating to emotive photographs has been dealt with by Clodhopper]

Now, I must stop because it would be unfair of me to monopolise your time. You do have other people to talk to and other questions to answer. I do sympathise with you having so many people to respond to – it really must be very intimidating.

Why not pick out a few interesting questions and concentrate on them one at a time? For example, axioms for the right to life; the situation of people with split brains; a definition of ‘human’ which is not restricted to the possession of genetic information and the implications of gradual development are all individually very interesting questions to talk about and explore.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Maurice: Part 1

clodhopper said... "CSPB: This 'right' to life of which you speak. How is it established?"

Partial Answer: By multiple means over many millennia:

1. In Judeo Christian religion by the Commandment "Thou shalt not kill".
2. Independently of any particular religion, by Natural Law Philosophy.
3. Independently of any religion by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

4. Even on entropic grounds. Many instances of evil increase entropy. Lying: informational entropy, Killing; Both biological and informational energy ...

On the other hand, as you correctly point out, many have fail and have failed to respect life. Principles which help protect life are ever under strong attack.

Many feminists, ignoring the right of their offspring claim a right to abort their children, at any time, and for any reason.

Gradualist philosophers like Singer, defend infanticide up to a certain period after birth on the questionable grounds that the humans acquire their rights in stages according to their "development" -pensioners should watch out!

Singer is far from unique in this form of thinking. Obama, went out of his way to block the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act and later, as President, appointing chief justice Kagan who had previously successfully defended laws against the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion, by manipulating a scientific report.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Part II
Atheist dictators such as Mao and Stalin have killed people on an scale paralleled only by extreme environmentalists.

Extreme environmentalists have killed people on an scale paralleled only by atheist dictators —the banning of DDT alone has already resulted in the deaths by malaria of more than 80 million people. Conversion of corn to alcohol, to prevent non existent AGW, has drastically increased the price of grain and let to food shortages in poor countries and concomitantly to many deaths.

The following are some quotes from well known environmentalists which reveal their attitude to ethical principles which attempt to protect life.

“90 percent of us need to be wiped out by exposure to Ebola or some other deadly virus in order to save the planet.” —Eric Pianka (evolutionary ecologist)

”Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs”. —John Davis, editor of the journal Earth First.

“We are parasites. Nature would be much better off without us.”—Rosemary Radford Ruether

“The damage people cause to the planet is a function of demographics ... we must eliminate 350,000 people per day.” —Jacques Cousteau

Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental. — Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!

If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels. — Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund

Cannibalism is a "radical but realistic solution to the problem of overpopulation." — Lyall Watson, The Financial Times, 15 July 1995

According to Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer who cannibalized more than 17 people,

“If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we died, you know, that was it, there was nothing….” (Dateline NBC, The Final Interview, Nov. 29, 1994).

It has long been fashionable to attribute evil to insanity. However, on comparing the above comments with the statement of Dahmer it is difficult to discern who (if any) is sane and who is insane. Ethical reasoning is difficult. I would guess that there are many people for whom the ethical values they hold derive solely from their religion or from, what many here disparage as "traditional" values. Undermining those values, may, by creating a moral vacuum, have serious and unforeseen consequences. Deliberately going out one's way to kick the religion out from under the feet of people --a popular sport in fundamentalist atheist circles-- is not an act of Charity.

Scot Rafkin said...

CSPB: Nice diatribe. Can you please bring the goalposts back now? How about responding to some actual questions and issues that have already been raised. Let's save environmental terrorists and AGW for another day as these are irrelevant to the main question of zygotes, life, and abortion.

clodhopper said...

I'm not aware that anyone requested a Tea Party manifesto from you.

If you are interested in rational debate rather than spouting propoganda it might help to stay on topic and respond to questions that are put to you in a less hysterical manner.

Caudimordax said...

Deliberately going out one's way to kick the religion out from under the feet of people --a popular sport in fundamentalist atheist circles-- is not an act of Charity.

No, you’re right: it’s not an act of charity. It’s an attempt to get rid of a body of superstitions that lead to immoral behavior. Behavior such as valuing an insentient fetus over the physical and mental health of a 9-year old rape victim, or over the lives of seven children who would be deprived of their mother. Behavior such as giving a fatal case of herpes to an infant boy because of the religious command to perform a certain type of circumcision. Behavior such as letting a child die rather than letting it have a life-saving blood transfusion. I don’t need some horrible book to dictate morality. In fact, to anyone whose mind hasn’t been poisoned by the blood-thirsty rantings of some bronze-age goatherders and hasn’t had his natural compassion hideously twisted by the need to cling to ideology at all costs, morality is a lot clearer than you seem to think.

Awaiting "no true Scotsman" reply.

Steve Zara said...

Ethical reasoning is difficult.

Indeed

I would guess that there are many people for whom the ethical values they hold derive solely from their religion or from, what many here disparage as "traditional" values. Undermining those values, may, by creating a moral vacuum, have serious and unforeseen consequences.

Deliberately going out one's way to kick the religion out from under the feet of people --a popular sport in fundamentalist atheist circles-- is not an act of Charity.

Religious views are political views. Why should people be expected to have those views protected because they happen to involve supernatural beliefs? Is the moral sense of people so weak that it can't survive the removal of magic?

What an awful way to think of your fellow human - that without the fantasies of religion they would be in a moral vacuum. Without belief in divine dictatorship, people would just to anything.

Shame on you!

I have belief in the goodness and wisdom of people, not magical beings. I trust and respect my fellow humans. I trust them to stand on their own two feet morally and not have to limp along with the crutch of religion.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

clodhopper said... Throughout history, images have been used to highlight injustices. I doubt that child sex abuse could have been abolished without the aid of graphically illustrated pamphlets ...

You indicate that you are interested in rational debate. If this is the case please try to be less facetious.

Abortion and infanticide are the worst forms of child abuse. Child sex abuse is also an extremely serious crime, but I was under the impression we were discussing the ethics of life and the early stages of developement, about which I can only guess your opinion. Those who condone abortion while ONLY focusing on instances of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy are inconsistent in their position. All forms and all instances of child abuse are evil.

Some data from Wikipedia:

According to the United States Department of Education, "nearly 9.6% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career."

In U.S. schools, educators who offend range in age from "21 to 75 years old, with an average age of 28" with teachers, coaches, substitute teachers, bus drivers and teacher's aides (in that order) totaling 69% of the offenders A literature review of 23 studies found abuse rates of 3% to 37% for males and 8% to 71% for females

According to Baker, AW; Duncan, SP (1985). "Child sexual abuse: a study of prevalence in Great Britain.". Child Abuse and Neglect 9 (4): 457–67 about 8% for boys and 12% for girls in the UK have been abused.

A 2007 study found that in India 53.22% of children are reported having faced sexual abuse.

In reality, sexual abuse of minors is a long-term endemic problem throughout a number of institutions, both secular and religious and is present in all cultures.

Scot Rafkin said...

CSPB: Abortion and infanticide are the worst forms of child abuse.

This is only true if a child is being aborted. That's the point of contention isn't it? So, what makes a zygote a human?

Caudimordax said...

Abortion and infanticide are the worst forms of child abuse.

What is your justification for saying this? The worst forms, are they? Worse than repeated sexual assault, worse than burning with cigarettes or scalding with hot water, worse than protracted beating, starvation, mutilation? None of these things are, in your mind, as "bad" as terminating a zygote that never had a conscious experience of any kind, including one of suffering?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Scot Rafkin said...
CSPB: Abortion and infanticide are the worst forms of child abuse.

This is only true if a child is being aborted. That's the point of contention isn't it? So, what makes a zygote a human?

Firstly the zygote fulfills the four criteria needed to etablish biological life.

1. Metabolism
2. Growth
3. Reaction to stimuli
4. Reproduction

Secondly, the zygote fulfills the the conditions for human life.


1. It is the product of the union of two humans.
2. It has 46 chromosomes
3. It needs no further genetic information. The genotype is established for the entire life. Human characteristics including gender, bone structure, hair color, skin color etc are already determined.
4. All that remains is growth and developement.

This is not my opinion. I would say a majority geneticists concur with this.

"To accept the fact that after after fertilization a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence" — Jerome L. Lejeune, French Geneticist (in hearings on Human Life Bill S 158. of the US Senate 1981).

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Steve Zara said...
What an awful way to think of your fellow human
I have belief in the goodness and wisdom of people, not magical beings. I trust and respect my fellow humans.


The comments made by some of your fellow humans, cited in my post at 2:33 PM. show neither goodness or wisdom. I presume you must mean potential goodness? One should have the prudence to realize that few humans are saints. Indeed many of our fellows are positively dangerous. Respect is earned, not due.

Scot Rafkin said...

CSPB:


Secondly, the zygote fulfills the the conditions for human life.


1. It is the product of the union of two humans.
2. It has 46 chromosomes
3. It needs no further genetic information. The genotype is established for the entire life. Human characteristics including gender, bone structure, hair color, skin color etc are already determined.
4. All that remains is growth and developement.


Your fist set of criteria for life are reasonable, and roughly fit into a widely held definition of life.

As for your second list (reproduced above), please provide references that demonstrate that these are well established scientific criteria for a human. And, to be clear, not just a clump of human cells, but A HUMAN. And, wouldn't you say there's a bit more to "all that remains is growth and development".

I also note that at least initially, the zygote doesn't grow. It cleaves into new cells with effectively no growth at all.

Is a fertilized chicken egg a chicken?

Are people with Downs Syndrome human? They don't have 46 chromosomes. We can kill them without committing murder, right?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Steve Zara said...
The full complexity of the human is an interaction between the developing zygote/embryo/fetus/child/toddler/adolescent/adult and the biological and social environment.


In philosophical terminology, these differences are really accidental properties.

If, as you claim, level of development is a measure of humanity, at which arbitrary point do you declare a human a human, and deliberate killing of the innocent human, murder?

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Steve Zara said...
I also note that at least initially, the zygote doesn't grow. It cleaves into new cells with effectively no growth at all.

This is point 4 on my first list -with which you agreed.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

My last comment should have been addresses to Scot Rafkin.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

My last comment should have been addresses to Scot Rafkin.

Caudimordax said...

It seems you are obsessed with the ideological "problem," i.e., whether a zygote is the same as a human being or not (for which argument you have only unfounded assertions) and have never given any thought to which approach leads to more actual suffering. The fact that YOUR approach (no abortion ever, under any circumstances) leads to demonstrably more suffering leads me to conclude that the catholic church doesn’t care at all about real, living human beings, and is therefore on the level of Jeffrey Dahmer when it comes to morals.

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Caudimordax said...
Abortion and infanticide are the worst forms of child abuse. What is your justification for saying this? The worst forms, are they? Worse than repeated sexual assault, worse than burning with cigarettes or scalding with hot water, worse than protracted beating, starvation, mutilation? None of these things are, in your mind, as "bad" as terminating a zygote.

While it is a difficult philosophical problem to put a total order relation on the set of all possible evils, every code of ethics that I know of places the right to life in first position. As mentioned above, the Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3. states that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."

Perhaps you know of an exception to this rule?

It is certainly not logical to rank order evil actions solely by the pain caused. If this were the case, one could justify infanticide, and any manner of evil, if it were carried out painlessly. You also emphasize the destruction of the human in the Zygote stage yet, the fact is, most abortions occur much later. One can only imagine the pain caused by the piercing of the skull and suctioning out of the brain of an almost completely delivered infant during a partial birth abortion, or the burning over days during a saline abortion. Scientific evidence shows the fetus can indeed suffer great pain. I invite you to see the videos which are available of the reaction of a fetus during an abortion. Let us also remember the long term psychological damage to women caused by abortion. Millions of women world wide are suffering, sometimes twenty years after the event from, what many call post abortion syndrome.

Most importantly, your appeal to emotion, based on cases of extreme suffering, takes no account of the dangers inherent in the weakening of the moral principles protecting human life. Undermining these principles leads eventually to infanticide, euthanasia and a culture of death, in which the abuse and torture of children is commonplace. Such cultural changes last for centuries and make wars more likely.

clodhopper said...

cspb:

Your last 2 part post made reference to the fifth of the ten commandments; natural law philosophy - the three A's I call them - Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas - and civil law in the form of the UN human rights declaration. You mention also entropy, feminism, gradualist philosophy and infanticide, the politics of Obama. The dictatorships of Mao and Stalin - heavily implying by your choice of descriptive 'Atheist' as opposed to the more usual 'Communist', that their murderous policies stemmed directly from a lack of belief in a deity. You go on to mention DDT, environmentalism, anthropogenic global warming - linking that to the price of food and food poverty. You provide a series of quotes from a bunch of idiots/criminals. Why? Do you think they encapsulate my views or something? You then talk of evil and insanity and the difficulties of ethical reasoning. Then comes a dig (at a previous blog post of mine perhaps?) concerning traditional values - a subject on which Hazel may be awaiting a response by the way. Then something called a 'moral vacuum' whatever that is, and a dire warning of 'serious and unforseen consequences', something dreadful like womens equality perhaps? Finally, comes a dig at what you project as the goals of something you call 'fundamentalist' atheism and its projected aim of kicking the religion out from under the feet of people. It would of course be better if people could have shoes under their feet - that would be charity.

I put it to you, therefore, that to any disinterested observer, your posts might seem to indicate, not a willingness for open minded discussion, but an opportunity to rant, to make dogmatic assertions, to make declarations by fiat, to preach, to scatter-bait by making unsupported assertions and sweeping generalisations using language littered with political framing and prejudice.

Such being the case, I really see very little point continuing this discussion. I never enjoyed sitting in front of a pulpit listening to twaddle when better, richer, more productive converstions and discussions can be had elsewhere with people who do have open minds and a willingness to learn from each other.

Alas, the doors of the temple of Janus could not remain closed forever.

Scot Rafkin said...

Your responses have been inconsistent. Your list of what constitutes a human is no different than that of, say, a sea cucumber, except for the item of genetic information. I don’t think you’re arguing that it is also unacceptable to kill (and perhaps eat) a sea cucumber, but you are arguing that it is unacceptable to squash a zygote. Now, we’ve already determined that there is nothing magical about DNA. The genetic code can be stored on a USB drive or even printed in a book. So, I must conclude that there is something missing from your list. Or, perhaps you’d like to revise your position? Is your list incomplete or have you changed your mind about the importance of DNA?

Quine has earlier addressed the question of when an embryo becomes a human. When in the process of metamorphosis exactly does a caterpillar become a butterfly?