Argumentum ad horrorem »« Pro-babies

Post the whole sentence, cheaters

Oh ffs.

derpSecular Pro-Life

“Slowly but steadily, it seems more and more pro-choicers acknowledge this point.

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.”

Peter Singer (pro-choice philosopher), Practical Ethics

Of course we acknowledge it. A human embryo is of the human species. The issue is not that it’s not human and the issue is not that it’s not alive. The embryo is alive and of the human species. It’s a human being in the sense that Singer specifies there. That’s not the only sense. The sentence doesn’t even end there in the book: the punctuation mark after “being” is a semi-colon, and the sentence goes on to say that the same applies to an anencephalic infant. Then there’s a new paragraph and a new and different meaning of “human being” – so Singer isn’t saying or acknowledging what the hacks at Secular Anti-abortion Rights are pretending he said and acknowledged. Surprise! They’re not honest.

Comments

  1. screechymonkey says

    Quotemining is a legitimate means of discussion that skeptics should have no problem with! #UpForDebate

  2. quixote says

    When you scrape your knee on the sidewalk, that’s also a lot of Homo sapiens cells that are alive (for the time being). I’m not just being a jerk. We’re not that far from the day when those cells will be just as potentially human as any embryo. Are we going to start holding funerals for them? Or acknowledge that it’s being a person that matters, and that personhood is a socially conferred status?

    There’s no way of avoiding that arbitrariness. There is no cell surface marker that lights up once you have rights.

  3. quixote says

    Also, I might add, the lack of any objective markers is part of what makes it so effortless to erase women as independent human agents and see them “hosts” for fetuses.

  4. Blanche Quizno says

    …and who, precisely, is surprised that they’re not honest?

    When anyone attempts to remove basic, fundamental human rights from a group, such as WOMEN, they have to resort to deception and intellectually dishonest rhetoric.

    Because we should all have the same rights, and those with privilege don’t want to share. Since they regard life as a zero-sum game, the only way WE WOMEN can get rights is if THEY give up some of theirs. And they have no intention of sharing. (Even though it requires no sacrifice AT ALL on their parts.)

    Furthermore, when they REMOVE rights from certain groups, they get a thrill and imagine that they’ve gained more for themselves! YIPPEE! But that’s not how it works.

    I’m still waiting for the churchies to scream that non-Christians must be forbidden by law from getting baptisms.

  5. tnt666 says

    Absolutely. Only people with uncritical minds can blindly follow certain WASPy atheist leaders in thinking that science can answer all social questions. This is a perfect example. Between fetal rights and female rights, no science can decide, it is a matter of our value systems. Each society has its own value system, and I will fight tooth and nail to protect the medical interference with my body.
    Thank you Ophelia!

  6. Omar Puhleez says

    I would be surprised if Singer could be caught out so easily, particularly by the ‘pro-life’ brigade.
    Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but no church of any denomination conducts routine funeral services for menstrual blood (in which there could be an early embryo) or even for naturally miscarried and/or aborted fetuses.
    Fact is, that there is no easily recognised or agreed on starting point for independent human life. Those of us who have been around for a few or more years have made a series of transitions from (ovum and sperm) to zygote to embryo to newborn to toddler and so on. Each in its own way a fresh ‘start’.
    Nature knows no categories. They are all products of thought. Everything is in constant flux, and in a state of becoming something else.
    Heraclitus (534-474 BC) knew that.

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/77989.Heraclitus

  7. says

    This seems like the kind of question we could shine light upon with some objective morality. Some motal facts. You know, those moral truths that ought to be knowable and accessable?

    Or maybe we reject morality as an unusable vague concept and deal with the issue as a matter of personal opinions, more or less strongly held, derived from how we are trained to behave and our experience. If that’s the case then we see a situation in which some people’s opinions are literally discounted because their opinions about something they can’t experience.

    Adopting a skeptical position about morality allows us to proceed with our lives without having to resolve such questions. Otherwise we’d be stuck unable to act because of the risk that we might later realize we had acted wrongly.

  8. Omar Puhleez says

    Marcus:

    “You know, those moral truths that ought to be knowable and accessable? [sic]”

    Care to nominate one or two in each of those categories?

  9. says

    Care to nominate one or two in each of those categories?

    I was being sarcastic. Richard Carrier seems to believe there is an objective morality out there somewhere.

  10. says

    The anti-choice crowd thinks that species membership addresses the questions of moral standing and right to life. The thing is, a mere statement of fact (ie species membership) can’t settle such normative questions (moral standing). For instance, you’d decide to grant a right to life from the moment of conception, from individuation, when sentience is present, from birth onward, etc. Each of these marker events is highly contested, nothing is evidently true. Each needs supporting normative argument beyond the descriptive. To complicate matters further, even if you granted that a human embryo is a member of the human species from the moment of its conception (uncontroversial, I think) and that it has a right to life by virtue of this (the latter is a highly questionable proposition), it still doesn’t follow that this right to life automatically overrides a woman’s right to control over her own body.

    I am mostly puzzled that the current secular anti-choice activism is reheating decades old arguments on this (the argument from potential and what not else), and it does it in a by and large disingenious way. There doesn’t seem to be any serious recognition of counter arguments to the views they’re presenting. As if decades of writings on this subject had never occurred. I have no idea what drives these people.

  11. jonathangray says

    quixote:

    There’s no way of avoiding that arbitrariness. There is no cell surface marker that lights up once you have rights.

    Which, presumably, is why Singer can endorse infanticide.

    Also, I might add, the lack of any objective markers is part of what makes it so effortless to erase women as independent human agents and see them “hosts” for fetuses.

    Given a lack of any objective markers, why not?

    tnt666:

    Between fetal rights and female rights, no science can decide, it is a matter of our value systems. Each society has its own value system, and I will fight tooth and nail to protect the medical interference with my body.

    IOW, might makes right.

    Marcus Ranum:

    Adopting a skeptical position about morality allows us to proceed with our lives without having to resolve such questions. Otherwise we’d be stuck unable to act because of the risk that we might later realize we had acted wrongly.

    I guess Patrick Bateman would endorse that.

  12. anat says

    jonathangray, last time I checked (which was, admittedly a few years ago), Peter Singer said it was wrong to take away the future of a being (of any species) that can perceive of a future, however short. For humans, that meant several months of age. Under that age humans are protected because someone other than themselves values them, not because of inherent value of said human. He supported (at the time?) letting parents euthanize severely disabled infants.

  13. jonathangray says

    anat:

    Peter Singer said it was wrong to take away the future of a being (of any species) that can perceive of a future, however short. For humans, that meant several months of age. Under that age humans are protected because someone other than themselves values them, not because of inherent value of said human.

    Why should the ability to perceive a future impart inherent value?

  14. anat says

    It doesn’t. The argument is that when you kill someone, what you take away is their future. He reframed the argument from a ‘right to one’s life’ to a ‘right to one’s future’. Singer is a staunch utilitarian, so his arguments flow that way. If you don’t perceive a future you lose nothing by dying.

  15. jonathangray says

    anat:

    The argument is that when you kill someone, what you take away is their future. He reframed the argument from a ‘right to one’s life’ to a ‘right to one’s future’. … If you don’t perceive a future you lose nothing by dying.

    But if the ability to perceive a future imparts no inherent value, what does it mean to talk about a “right” to a future?

    In any case, if killing someone is framed as “taking away their future” (a future one loses by dying), then surely that applies even if they are unable to perceive that future as a future? They can still appreciate it when it becomes a present.

  16. anat says

    As I said, Singer is arguing from a utilitarian way of thinking. Actions are evaluated on the harm and benefit that result from them. Can a being that isn’t aware (and isn’t capable of being aware) of its capacity to have a future be harmed by not having such a future?

  17. Omar Puhleez says

    anat: “Can a being that isn’t aware (and isn’t capable of being aware) of its capacity to have a future be harmed by not having such a future?”

    An interesting point.

    Of course, you have to travel damn near down to the roots of the phylogenetic tree before you encounter an animal species whose members are indifferent to their own continued existence. This non-indifference of so many of them can be interpreted as desire for a future, consciously decided in those terms or otherwise.

    I find it a bit hard to tell the difference between wanting to keep existing now, and now, and now on the one hand, and wanting a ‘future’ on the other. Looks to me like the future to such animals is merely continuation of the present, but just as valid in that form.

  18. jonathangray says

    Can a being that isn’t aware (and isn’t capable of being aware) of its capacity to have a future be harmed by not having such a future?

    Well as I said, if it was deprived of that future, it would never be able to enjoy it when it becomes present. That could be seen as a kind of harm.

  19. says

    No it couldn’t. You have to be aware of the future before being deprived of a future becomes a harm. Otherwise you just get the familiar reductio ad absurdum – every missed opportunity to fuck becomes a harm, etc.

  20. anat says

    Omar Puhleez, TMK Singer is a Vegan.

    When I read up on Singer’s position on the personhood of infants he said that we can tell when an infant starts to take conscious action in order to achieve a desired future state. That’s the sort of thing one could apply to animal behavior too.

    For a being to be non-indifferent to whether or not it exists in the present it has to be able to contemplate the alternative, I think. Otherwise it is no different from a machine that performs a function when activated, but just lies there otherwise.

  21. Omar Puhleez says

    anat:

    “For a being to be non-indifferent to whether or not it exists in the present it has to be able to contemplate the alternative,”

    As I see it, that is a bit of a tortuous path you are inviting me to tread. A common assumption (which note, I do not impute to you) takes the form of ‘because contemplating a future as far as we know is a purely human ability, non-humans, being unable to do this, are also therefore indifferent to their own individual survival. Or to say that another way, “are non-non-indifferent ‘to whether or not they exist in the present.’”

    It can also be written as: “For a being to be non-indifferent to whether or not it exists in the present [which I read as ‘care whether or not it continues to live’] it has to be able to contemplate the alternative,”

    I have got to know a lot of people in my time, chiefly because of my ability to converse with them. Likewise, I have got to know quite a few animals (almost all of them members of domesticated species and most of them either dogs or cats), despite the fact that not one of them could speak English, or for that matter, any other human language. They avoid injury, at least in part because they know (first-paw, first hoof, first talon etc) what it is like to be injured, however mildly. Avoiding mild injury helps them avoid major injury. No doubt in my mind there.

    We humans (well, most of us) think in language and commonly assume that language (past, present, future and all that) is necessary for anything describable as ‘thought’. Thinking is so bound up with perception that some psychologists make the equation: thinking = perception. I incline to agree.

    I happen to be reading Keay Davidson’s biography of Carl Sagan at the moment, in which Davidson (in relation to SETI) says “… on Earth, only one of Earth’s billions of estimated species, Homo sapiens, has ever developed anything like the intelligence of humans. (Chimps playing with colored chips and counting up to nine won’t cut it.)…”

    It is not much of a step, going down that path, from ‘non-human’ to ‘sub-human’. Which is a trap, IMHO. In my experience, animal to human (eg dog-to-me) communication is a helluva lot more rapid (thanks to the absence of language) than is human-to-human. Also some animal species (eg cattle) incline to get very agitated when other animals are being slaughtered in their presence: usually as these things happen, members of their own species.

    Until someone can prove otherwise, I think it safest to assume that they can project themselves into that situation. That is, they become aware of the prospect of their own termination.

    Also, I am not a vegan or vegetarian, and have a background in the cattle industry. Nor am I against predation per se. (The form practiced by pedophiles and rapists is another matter entirel, and is definitely not included.)

  22. says

    You accuse SPL of misrepresenting Singer, and then you go and misrepresent SPL. Physician, heal thyself.

    The whole point of Singer’s quote is that he agrees that the unborn are human beings biologically. That’s all that is meant by using that Singer quote. If you agree with that, great. Then the conversation can move forward. But the reason that pro-life people have to keep pointing to pro-choice philosophers and embryologist to show that even they agree that the unborn are living members of our biological species is because we still encounter people who deny that to try and justify abortion.

  23. says

    That’s loaded language. “Living members of our biological species”? That’s a tendentious way to put it. Embryos are alive, and they belong to the human species. Are they “members” of it? I wouldn’t put it that way. You would – because it’s more loaded.

  24. Trent Horn says

    Loaded? That quite a stretch, what about this:

    “Human embryos are living human organisms that belong to the human species.”

    That seems to be pretty obvious just based on the meaning of the individual words in the sentence.

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