Friday, March 29, 2013

Jerry Coyne and a really stupid pro-abortion argument

Hey, "really stupid pro-abortion arguments" is a big topic, but Jerry Coyne helps us focus and get down to business.

Coyne:
Is abortion immoral? Try deciding that one objectively! But if we first construct the subjective dictum that “It is all right to abort a fetus before birth if that is the mother’s preference” (my own view of the situation), then we can say that abortion is moral. My view rests on the fact that fetuses are not sentient, and therefore have fewer “rights” (indeed, if they have any) than does the mother.

So non-sentience nullifies the right to life?

:-/


Imaginary discussion between Jerry and me:

Me: Sleeping people are non-sentient. It is ok to kill them, while they are sleeping?

Jerry: Of course not. That's horrible. It's not ok to kill a sleeping person, because he will become sentient, when he wakes up.

Me: A fetus will become sentient, when he grows up.

Jerry: But a sleeping person was sentient before they were asleep, unlike a fetus. 

Me: A corpse was sentient before it became non-sentient. Are you arguing that killing a sleeping person is morally like killing a corpse?

Jerry: No. A sleeping person is not like a corpse. A sleeping person is only transiently non-sentient. He was sentient before and will be sentient after he went to sleep. That's why you can't kill him.

Me: So you are arguing that only past and future sentience, but not sentience now, confers the right to life. So sentience at the time of decision to kill is the only sentience that is irrelevant to the decision?

Sentience is such an odd criterion for the right to life.

Jerry: Egnor you are a scumbag-Christo-fascist-fundie-IDiot-woman-hating-*^##***!!!...

;) 

82 comments:

  1. Often I agree with Jerry Coyne. This is one of the times I don't.

    Non-sentience is not an adequate ground for allowing a woman choice. The foetus has rights. The pregnant woman also has rights.

    I don't think that the rights of the foetus trumps that of the woman at all stages of pregnancy. A foetus one day before delivery is a person, and cannot and should not be aborted on the choice of the woman. An unimplanted fertilised ovum isn't a person, and I think that a woman has the right to stop implantation occurring, by being free to obtain and take a 'morning after pill' if desired.

    At some point in the pregnancy, I think that the woman loses the right to choice. I'd put it at the time that the foetus can potentially suffer (feel pain) - at about 24 weeks gestation. And make the cutoff point for choice at 20 weeks, to be conservative.

    That said; I don't think that abortion should be encouraged. It is a surgical procedure with a small but not negligible risk of complications. It should be a last not first resort. Contraception should be freely and affordable available.

    Now let's see what dialogue you can fabricate as if including me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "A foetus one day before delivery is a person..."

      What about a foetus two days before delivery? Still a person? What about three days or four days or more days?

      Can you tell me at what "minus days" a foetus becomes a person? Does personhood have a peremption date?

      Delete
    2. Sentience is not all that different from sentience. How about, killing is wrong?

      Here's a good one. So if we load a person up on valium to the point of completely numbing all pain, we can then kill that person?

      I trust you're a vegetarian too. Because animals feel pain.

      Joey

      Delete
    3. That should say, sentience is not all that different from feeling pain.

      Joey

      Delete
    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      Well, backfield, the only problem I see with your scheme is that it's stupid. Allow me to explain...

      First off the bat, I don't think there's any eeeeviiiidence that 20 weeks, or 24, or some other arbitrary cutoff point, a tsub0 if you will, when a fetus "suffers" pain. Paraphrasing Pontius Pilate (it's Good Friday), "What is suffering?" And, whatever your Definition of the Day is, do you have any eeeeviiiidence that it's true? Perhaps a gorilla video you can cite?

      No, here's a much more reasonable plan, based on scientific principles and It Takes a Village:

      Let all the fetuses be born. If the mother disavows her own offspring, fine. We simply expand the Progressive notion of government-funded day care and put all those former fetuses in 24/7/365 Village care centers with vegan meal plans. When they're ten years old, take an inventory. Select the top 1%, making sure that you have perfectly balanced proportions of whatever skin albedos you choose to define so there is... we'll call it "albedonic diversity". Then the thanatologists (all MDs mind you, licensed to thanatize) can recycle the remainder for organic agriculture.

      That way, we leverage our eeeeviiiidence-based scientific knowledge to simultaneously attack global warming via population reduction, provide natural inputs for GMO-free organic agriculture, and improve the species for the coming Technological Singularity and transhumanist revolution.

      Delete
    5. Georgie,

      Your objection is idiotic, so I don't need to respond to it.

      Delete
    6. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      backfield, you're just jealous you didn't think of it first.

      Delete
    7. Georgie,

      I'm not jealous of not thinking of something so idiotic. You can keep it, thanks.

      And by the way, it's 'bachfiend' not 'backfield'. PDQ if you want to be informal.

      Delete
    8. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Well, you gotta admit that my plan works better than your plan. More bang for the buck. Why, the creation of thousands of "green jobs" (thanatologists, thanatological assistants, vegan cooks, biomedical waste recycling centers, etc.) alone would justify the cost. You could even use windmills to do the [ahem] mincing.

      But I'm always open to possible improvements.

      Delete
    9. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      Good heavens! I forgot ethanol...

      Delete
    10. Adm,
      Eye, eye, admiral. (sic intended)
      And you forgot the 'green food' (would soylent be to obvious?)
      Why waste all that organic matter on crops to feed masses of 'useless eaters'? Feed them their own dead. Save the good organic stuff for the technocrats and their .... er.... workers.


      bachfiend,

      If you don't like the smell in your ideological camp, jump fence.
      No one will the think the less of you.
      Quite the contrary. You would impress and leave a standing impression of atheism that is heretofore extremely rare in expression.
      You don't need to be a theist to stand against killing of innocents. Do you? Surely not.

      I am sure you would agree that Coyne could better spend his aggression against enemies of his own size?
      Consider: If a man was to suggest God says we should kill our unborn for salvation, would you not say that is madness? So what is the difference when this quack channels science as his oracular power?
      Surely you don't agree with Coyne?
      Surely you don't think pain is the defining issue?
      If so, is it moral to kill Coyne while he is drugged?
      I know we disagree on many issues, but certainly you can see the twisted, selfish reasoning this guy uses is not compliment to materialism or (ABG) evolutionary thinking. No?

      Delete
    11. Pepe, I wish someone had made the effort to answer your question because I think it's basically the crux of the whole argument.

      "Can you tell me at what "minus days" a foetus becomes a person?"

      Other than KW, who gives his seal of approval to killing children even AFTER they have been born, most people agree that a child one day before birth is a child who has a right to live. They get fuzzier and fuzzier the farther you go back. They won't talk about when the blob of tissue becomes a human being, only about where they "draw the line." Sometimes they will admit, as Bachfiend has in the past, that the line they draw is arbitrary. There is no threshold crossed at twenty weeks, for example, but Bachfiend "draws the line" there.

      Squeemishness about killing a baby even moments before birth is a contradiction within their thinking. They do not like to call babies in the womb "babies," insisting on the word "fetus." They tell us that this is a more scientific term. Aborting a fetus is not the same as killing a baby, they tell us. But a fetus is a fetus until the moment she's born, then she's a baby. So if you oppose aborting a fetus one day before birth, you're admitting that there's something both human and alive about that "fetus." It's not just a clump of cells, it's a person.

      TRISH

      Delete
    12. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      They also won't tell you what the word "born" means, nor will they define the meaning of the word "human" or "sentient" (see below).

      Delete
    13. vagueries are their bread and butter. they don't like to be nailed down to any particular meaning.

      naidoo

      Delete
  2. Crying parents: Dr Egnor, you are a monster! Why did you leave our baby to burn to death in the burning hospital and instead rescued 10 single-celled zygotes?

    Egnor: Because 10 zygotes are 10 persons, and your baby was only 1 person. I suggest you study Moral Calculus 101, selfish bastards!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Troy,

      Assuming we are not talking about zygotes that are part of some sort of lab (why would a baby be in the lab?), I think you may want to have a little concern for the women they are gestating in.

      Even if every one of them was a twin, we are still talking about 15 people.
      Also, considering this would be taking place in the same ward, why not grab the baby while taking the women out? And what about the staff?
      You have some weird emergency response techniques over there, that's for sure.

      Delete
  3. As you well know doctor, the parts of the brain that make us uniquely human have yet to develop in a newborn. The reason we can’t remember anything of our infancy is because an infant’s brain is incapable of forming memories. It’s not just the higher functions that are yet developed either; newborns don’t smile because they haven’t developed anywhere near the emotional complexity. A year old dog has a far richer emotional life than a newborn. Comparing a fetus to a sleeping person ignores the great discrepancy in brain development.

    -KW

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      It is our brains that make us uniquely human?

      What species are anencephalic infants, if not Homo sapiens sapiens?

      If anencephalic infants are indeed genetically Homo sapiens sapiens, then what is meant, materially, by "human"?

      Delete
    2. KW doesn't even think infants are human.
      I begin to wonder about HIM (it?).

      Delete
    3. CNTD...

      Maybe someone should call SETI?

      Delete
    4. “If anencephalic infants are indeed genetically Homo sapiens sapiens, then what is meant, materially, by "human"?”

      As virtually all anencephalic infants are allowed to die without intervention, it supports my contention that humanness is linked to brain function. An anencephalic infant is about as human as one of my kidneys.

      -KW

      Delete
    5. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Homo sapiens who are allowed to die without intervention are not human?

      Delete
    6. KW is for killing infants. He's for post-birth abortion. At what point do you draw the line, KW? When is it not okay to kill? A child's second birthday? High school graduation? When?

      I'm still waiting for your leftist colleagues Hoo, Bachfiend, and Troy to respond with alarm and indignation. Did you just hear what he said, gentlemen? He said it's okay to kill infants, which last time I checked, were babies OUTSIDE the womb.

      TRISH

      Delete
    7. “KW is for killing infants.” and “Homo sapiens who are allowed to die without intervention are not human?”

      Your attempts to put words in my mouth are pathetic. Because I‘m correct in my assessment of fetal brain development, you have no response for the actual substance of my argument, only desperate attempts to set up straw men.

      -KW

      Delete
    8. You aren't talking about fetal brain development. You're talking about infant brain development.

      I personally don't care if an infant's emotional life is richer than a dog's because it has no bearing on whether it's acceptable to kill the child.

      I don't believe I put words in your mouth. I believe a drew a logical conclusion from your comments. What was the purpose of your tretise on infant's brains, if not to suggest that killing them is acceptable?

      I seem to remember you defending infanticide in the past, claiming that past cultures had done it.

      This is so typical of leftists. They make statements with clear implications and then accuse others of putting words in their mouths. Any misunderstanding is your fault, KW. Speak more clearly next time. You could start by unconditionally condemning infanticide.

      TRISH

      Delete
    9. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      "Your attempts to put words in my mouth are pathetic..."

      I'm not putting words in your mouth. I'm asking you what the words that come out of your mouth mean. "I don't know" is a perfectly good answer.

      Delete
    10. sure sounds to me like kw was saying dogs have more value than infants because dogs have a richer emotional life. i came to same conclusion.

      naidoo

      Delete
    11. "You could start by unconditionally condemning infanticide."

      It's been twelve hours since TRISH made this comment and KW still can't be bothered to condemn infanticide. Maybe he hasn't checked this blog in twelve hours. I'm hoping...

      Ben

      Delete
  4. "Me: So you are arguing that only past and future sentience, but not sentience now, confers the right to life. So sentience at the time of decision to kill is the only sentience that is irrelevant to the decision?"

    There is a flaw in your logic. I believe Coyne is thinking the following:

    Q1: Is the thing in question sentient now?
    If yes, it is alive. If not go to Q2

    Q2: Did the thing in question have sentience in the past?
    If no, it is not alive. If yes, go to Q3

    Q3: Will the thing in question have sentience in the future?
    If no it is not alive. If yes it is alive.

    You are pretending as if Q1 was never asked. Present sentience is not irrelevant, it is of primary relevance. If there is not present sentience however, then we must ask additional questions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Sentient: responsive to or conscious of sense impressions

      Flatworms (Planaria) are responsive to sense impressions (i.e., light). Hence, flatworms were, are, and will be sentient. Do flatworms have a right to life?

      Delete
    2. @lying:

      Why is killing a 10 week fetus ok, but killing a sleeping adult not ok?

      Neither is sentient at the moment of death, and neither suffers.

      Delete
    3. "Why is killing a 10 week fetus ok, but killing a sleeping adult not ok?"

      Now go to Q2 ...

      Delete
    4. Check that. You went through Q1. By getting that far you've demonstrate you understand the relevance of present sentience and should see the error you've made.

      Delete
    5. @Dissembling Scumbag:

      Why is killing a 10 week fetus ok, but killing a sleeping adult not ok?

      Delete
    6. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 29, 2013 at 4:02 PM

      @disassembled scumbag: What is sentience? I doubt Coyne could answer that question in a way that satisfies his conclusion. Can you?

      Delete
    7. Michael,

      Killing a 10 week gestation fetus is OK, because it's the concern, the choice, solely of the woman concerned. If it's an enforced abortion, then that's a different matter.

      Killing a sleeping adult isn't OK, because adults have relatives and friends, who are keen to take justice into their own hands if society (the law) doesn't punish the murderer. Society can't survive with a system of tit for tat revenge killings.

      Delete
    8. Stupid answers, bach. Unworthy of a reply.

      Delete
    9. Michael,

      And what's wrong with my answer? I provided a real scenario, which has happened in past societies, unlike Georgie (also known as the self appointed admiral of a mythical navy) who invented an impossible society.

      The religious are entitled to have an opinion on morality and to debate morality in society. But they don't have extra weight because they're religious. Religious leaders have a similar, but not greater, right to debate morality. They have the power to influence their followers.

      But it's not an absolute power. In surveys of women undergoing elective abortions, a not insignificant number are Catholics (agreed - one can regard oneself as being a Catholic without following the creed). And also born again evangelical Christians, who have made a new conscious decision to be Christian.

      Delete
    10. "The religious are entitled to have an opinion on morality and to debate morality in society. But they don't have extra weight because they're religious."

      In this society, we have less. We're supposed to shut up, and when we don't we're "forcing our morality and/or religion on others."

      "But it's not an absolute power. In surveys of women undergoing elective abortions, a not insignificant number are Catholics (agreed - one can regard oneself as being a Catholic without following the creed). And also born again evangelical Christians, who have made a new conscious decision to be Christian."

      I've seen those bulldinky studies too. I doubt their veracity but beyond that, they prove nothing. What exactly is your point?

      Ben

      Delete
    11. Ben,

      No. The religious have extra weight in American society. The non- religious make up around 16% of the population. What percentage of the Congress is openly atheist? I can only think of one representative.

      The religious often take an active role in politics. The Mormon Church took a prominent role in the Proposition 8 campaign in California.

      Religious leaders can influence their followers to accept their teachings. The fact that self identified Catholics and in particular born again evangelical Christians have abortions (and also use contraceptives) illustrate how little influence they might have; that was the only point I was making.

      Delete
    12. Why is killing a 10 week fetus ok, but killing a sleeping adult not ok?

      Because, despite your lying, a sleeping adult is not non-sentient. You need to look up the definition of sentience. It will help you look less idiotic in the future.

      Delete
    13. @anon:

      I'm so embarrassed.

      But how about this: is it ok to kill an anesthetized adult, or one in a coma?

      Was it ok to kill Japanese civilians at ground zero in Hiroshima, because they weren't aware and died instantly and didn't suffer?

      Exactly how does awareness fit into your killing excuses?

      Delete
    14. Michael,

      Pope Pius XII answered your question about Hiroshima. The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima was a war crime. I agree with him.

      I think it was Ilion who defined sentience as the ability to feel sensation. An anaesthesised person still has that ability, even if temporarily absent. So too does a person in a coma, unless it's permanent due to irreversible brain damage.

      An unimplanted fertilized ovum or a fetus of 10 weeks gestation isn't able to feel sensation, isn't sentient, not now, not next week. Whether its OK to dispose of an unwanted unimplanted fertilized ovum or a non-sentient fetus of 10 or 20 weeks gestation is the question.

      I think it is, because a woman has rights too. To decide what happens to her body. Within limits. And abortion shouldn't be encouraged, since it's a surgical procedure with a risk of complications.

      Delete
  5. A baby is a human being. It can only ever be a human being.
    Sleeping or awake, the child is alive.
    In or out of the womb, the child is alive.
    It is human, and it exists (is in being). Ergo: The unborn child is a HUMAN BEING.
    This is not a matter for debate.
    It is a physical reality.

    The question I would like to pose to Coyne is: Is it objectively immoral to kill defenceless human beings for selfish reasons? (in old speak we called that 'murder')
    If so, then children (both birthed and unborn) should be exempt from his selfish instincts to cull humanity.

    If on the other hand, he feels humans are merely animals and such choices cannot be objectively reached; I would suggest to him he is correct...about himself. He is a self proven animal, and I could not care less if he was put down by another animal with a similar blood lust. Eaten by wild dogs, Jerry? Bummer. Oh well. Must have been hungry. At least the dogs don't advocate eating academics online.

    The 'choice' he makes is one about himself, not the innocents whose blood he baying for.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In other news, Planned Parenthood official thinks it's okay to murder children outside the womb as well.

    Ben

    ReplyDelete
  7. Now let's see how you can distort this comment....

    Morality isn't a human invention. Other animals have morality too, particularly social mammals, such as wolves, monkeys and other great apes (common chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas). Humans had morality even before they became human. And a long time before they invented monotheistic religions such as Christianity.

    Morality evolves, to serve the society in which it exists. In nomadic hunter gatherer societies it was considered moral for a mother to kill the second of twins or a malformed newborn because a child had to be carried from place to place for at least 4 years.

    But morality does evolve as society changes. The law in modern societies regards infanticide as a crime. The death of a newborn has to be at least investigated legally to ensure that there's no culpable action involved.

    The law in most jurisdictions doesn't regard an unimplanted fertilized human ovum to be a person. Spontaneous abortions don't have to be reported to the coroner. The most common cutoff time is 20 weeks gestation - it' a legal definition, not a real dividing point, similar to the age at which a person is legally (but not necessarily psychologically) able to drink alcohol.

    A while back, I noted that the state of Colorado doesn't recognize the rights of 7 month gestation foetuses. Which the lawyers representing a Catholic hospital in a malpractice suit exploited to have a malpractice suit against them dismissed. A tactic that Egnor approved of. And the three Catholic bishops in Colorado expressed considerable disquiet of. I think that the Catholic bishops are right and Egnor is wrong.

    I think that a woman has rights too. She doesn't lose her rights from the moment she becomes pregnant. She still has the right to decide what happens to her body, within limits. I don't think that the fetal alcohol syndrome should be criminalised, although alcohol consumption should be discouraged during pregnancy as a social norm.

    Similarly, I think that a woman should have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy by choice, up to the point at which the law (read society) decides it's acceptable. But that it shouldn't be encouraged, because it is a surgical procedure with a risk of complications.

    I personally would put this date at the time at which the fetus is capable of feeling pain - which is about 24 weeks on studies of neurological development. And move it back to 20 weeks to be conservative.

    Almost all abortions by choice are considerably earlier than this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that a woman has rights too. She doesn't lose her rights from the moment she becomes pregnant. She still has the right to decide what happens to her body, within limits. I don't think that the fetal alcohol syndrome should be criminalised, although alcohol consumption should be discouraged during pregnancy as a social norm.

      How about inbreeding? Are you for that too? Or maybe we should just discourage it.

      Similarly, I think that a woman should have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy by choice, up to the point at which the law (read society) decides it's acceptable.

      And if the society thinks it's never acceptable? What if the society decides to ban it after twelve weeks, as Arkansas just did, or after the detection of a fetal heartbeat (about six weeks), as North Dakota just did?

      Ben

      Delete
    2. Ben,

      Inbreeding? You have heard of the Westermarck effect, haven't you? Children reared together, even adopted, regard themselves as brother and sister, and are very averse to marriage, even if genetically safe. Familiarity does breed contempt (if you define contempt as being a reluctance to breed).

      The taboo against incest is just a cultural designation for something that's already biologically determined.

      I don't have any objections against a society placing limitations on abortion by choice. Provided it's done by a fair democratic process. And provided it survives any legal challenge as to it being constitutional.

      Democracies don't have the right to legislate all the wishes of the majority. Religious or racial discrimination against minorities by legislation is just mob rule.

      Delete
    3. We're wary of inbreeding in our society. There is supposedly a rational basis for that wariness. Without a "rational" basis, it's just another form of bigotry, of one group imposing its values on another, much like "homophobia." The rational basis has always been that inbreeding causes birth defects. When a brother and a sister decide to make it, the law says no because it's not a victimless crime. We could nitpick that bone all day (what if they're using a condom?), but that's the rationale.

      I wonder then why you think that women drinking alcohol while they're pregnant should be legal? It's the same thing. I'm sure you've heard of fetal alcohol syndrome.

      Clifford Boggess was a lower class Texan, born with fetal alcohol syndrome, who was executed about twenty years ago. He had a low IQ and he murdered a couple of people, I think in the process of robbing a store. Granted, the fetal alcohol thing could have been blown out of proportion by defense lawyers just trying to save him from the death sentence but the point is that his mother's drinking was not a victimless crime. Her son was born deformed and grew up to become a murderer.

      We don't discourage inbreeding, we ban it. Why not the same for drinking?

      The taboo against incest is just a cultural designation for something that's already biologically determined.

      Obviously it's not biologically determined, it's sociologically determined. If one is raised in close vicinity with another, as brother and sister, they are averse to marriage, even if there is no actual blood relation. I would say that there are obvious exceptions to that rule. Incest happens. They're just a sexual minority. Most people are turned off by the idea of incest, just as most people are turned off by the idea of sleeping with a member of the same sex. But some don't have this aversion. Some think it's okay and they like it.

      If I've learned anything from the homosexual movement in the past twenty years it's that love makes a family. You're a H8er! You're an incestophobe!

      Democracies don't have the right to legislate all the wishes of the majority. Religious or racial discrimination against minorities by legislation is just mob rule.

      Unless it's Obama doing it and the minority is Catholic.

      I'll get to your abortion comments later.

      Ben

      Delete
    4. Ben,

      I didn't say that drinking during pregnancy should be made legal. I just said that it shouldn't be criminalised. Which isn't the same thing. The fetal alcohol syndrome is a clinical diagnosis. In most cases, if it's diagnosed, then that's what the baby has. It's just that I can't, no one can, exclude the possibility that there might be a presently undescribed genetic disorder which mimics the fetal alcohol syndrome. And in some cases, a mother will be innocent and punished for something she's not guilty.

      Drinking during pregnancy should be socially discouraged. And in particular binge drinking, in both males and females.

      If you think that the Catholic Church and the Catholic employers are a minority being oppressed by the majority, then their employees are even more of a minority, if they're deprived of contraception paid by their insurance.

      That said, as an Australian, I'm no fan of 'Obamacare'. America should have adopted a system similar to the Australian one, with everyone covered by a single government-run insurance scheme, with optional private insurance too. For most people, oral contraceptives aren't subsidized. Pharmaceutical benefits are meant to cover most of the cost of expensive medications, which can cost a thousand dollars a month.

      Delete
    5. Ben: In my state (Massachusetts) incestual relationships can be recognized as equal to other kinds of relationships and the state will grant a marriage license. There's only one catch. They must be HOMOSEXUAL incestual relationships. A father can marry his son, or two sisters could marry each other, etc. A male may not marry a close female blood relative, and vice versa, but no such prohibition exists for males marrying males or females marrying females.

      Struggle as I may, I cannot come up with a "rational" reason why this should not be the case, other than to say that the state has no obligation to put its seal of approval of relationships that are disgusting and unnatural. But then again, that's my objection to same-sex marriage as well and, if Time Magazine is correct, that issue has already been decided. The state DOES have an obligation to put its seal of approval on relationships that "bigots" like me consider to be disgusting and unnatural.

      But you're right. Considering the fact that procreation is not possible in same-sex relationships, there is absolutely no rational basis to keep two consenting brothers from sleeping with each other. Not only that, but the government should endorse their perverse sexual relationship. That's true "marriage equality."

      FULL EQUALITY NOW!!!!!

      TRISH

      Delete
    6. Bachfiend: a woman getting drunk while she's pregnant is no different than a woman putting vodka in a baby bottle and feeding it to her child. It's child abuse and child abuse is illegal.

      TRISH

      Delete
    7. Trish,

      The recommendation is for women not to drink at all, at any time during pregnancy. It's not just a matter of banning a pregnant woman from getting falling down drunk.

      I don't think that a woman should be made a criminal for giving birth to a foetal alcohol syndrome baby; the diagnosis might be wrong and anyhow - you've missed the boat, the damage has been done and harsh punishment is unlikely to stop other women from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

      How do you avoid it happening? Perhaps you could institute random compulsory breathalyser and pregnancy testing (although I'm not certain how the human rights crowd would react)?

      And if both are positive, what then? Compulsory incarceration until delivery?

      Lots of luck.

      Delete
  8. "So non-sentience nullifies the right to life?"

    Every living thing is sentient -- sentience is the capacity to feel or perceive sensations ... notice how the two words share the same Latin root.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Egnor: "Sleeping people are non-sentient."

      Makes you wonder if Egnor has ever used an alarm clock ...

      Delete
    2. @Lying:

      Is it ok to kill a person in a coma?

      Delete
    3. Likewise, is it ok to kill a person who has been anesthetized?

      ========
      Of course, these days, even "dead" people who are about to have their vital organs harvested sometimes are anesthetized.

      Delete
    4. "Makes you wonder if Egnor has ever used an alarm clock ..."

      I have used alarm clocks. I sometimes get out of bed, walk across the room, turn the blaring clock off, crawl back into bed ... and never once wake up.

      Delete
    5. I have used alarm clocks. I sometimes get out of bed, walk across the room, turn the blaring clock off, crawl back into bed ... and never once wake up.

      Your boyfriend told you?

      Delete
    6. In my experience, when people say things like that to me, what they *really* mean is that they want to be my boyfriend.

      Sorry, dude: you can't afford me. I've been purchased by Christ, and you just haven't the worth to out-bid him.

      Delete
    7. We were "bought at a price" 1 Cor 6:20

      It helps me keep things in perspective.

      Delete
  9. Ilion,

    Agreed. Sentience is the ability to perceive sensations. To suffer. That's what makes Egnor's fabricated dialogue with Jerry Coyne so dishonest. A sleeping adult is sentient. He or she still has the ability to suffer, regardless of whether the ability is temporarily reduced.

    A 10 week gestation foetus (or an unimplanted fertilised ovum) don't have the ability to suffer. Not today, or the next day or the week thereafter. So they're not sentient. Nonhuman animals, mammals in particular (and also birds), can suffer, are sentient and therefore have some rights.

    Bacteria can't suffer and aren't sentient, so morally, there's nothing stopping you from consuming as many antibiotics as you want. You should be able to go to the chemist and buy as many antibiotics as you want, over the counter, off prescription. Although, that's a very bad idea, as it encourages the increasingly worrying problem of bacterial antibiotic resistance returning us to a pre-antibiotic era.

    Society has decided that it's OK to kill non-sentient bacteria, with some restrictions. I argue that it's OK for a woman to kill her unwanted foetus by choice with some restrictions. Such as it shouldn't have the ability to suffer. Before 24 weeks gestation, and preferably before 20 weeks, if not much earlier.

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    1. As per usual, you miss the point -- what a finely honed talent you have!

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    2. Ilion,

      Bacteria are living. But they aren't sentient. I agreed that 'sentience' means the ability to feel sensation. But I disagreed that 'every living thing is sentient'. The very existence of bacteria disproves you.

      An unimplanted fertilised ovum isn't sentient. Nor is a 10 week gestatation foetus. Or a bacterium.

      What a finely honed talent you have for being wrong!

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    3. You poor, ignorant thing! I said what I said *with* bacteria in mind.

      A bacterium certainly is sentient -- they do, after all, sense and respond to events in their environments: they perceive and approach food, they perceive and flee danger.

      What bacteria prove is that sentience does not require nerve cells.

      What a finely honed talent you have for digging yourself in deeper!

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    4. Lion,

      Why don't you tell a bacteriologist that the object of their study is sentient, and see what reaction you get? I think you won't get any response, because he or she will be too busy rolling around on the floor laughing.

      Bacteria chemotaxis depends on two mindless automatic forms of locomotion; tumbling and straight line movement. In an environment with an increasing gradient of desired food chemicals, tumbling is inhibited, but it still happens, but less often. Straight line locomotion occurs longer.

      It's no more sentient than a thermostat sensing the temperature, contracting when it's too hot and breaking a circuit to turn off the heater.

      Your definition of sentience includes the ability to 'perceive' or 'feel' sensations. That means there has to be a conscious element to the sensation. Bacteria aren't conscious.

      My definition of sentient would include the ability to react to changes in the environment (bacteria do), to learn from this experience and to do the same thing if it succeeded with similar events (bacteria don't) and to pass this adaptive behavior to future generations, non-genetically (again bacteria fail).

      Your definition of sentience also includes instinctive behavior. No one sensible would do that.

      Delete
  10. Concerning the sub-thread on incestuous "marriages" -- can you imagine how the "liberals" will freak out when some "evil" rich man figures out that he can "marry" his son, and so pass on the family fortune without the death-tax eating it alive. At the same time, when a Kennedy uses this method, it will be OK.

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  11. Watching you all talk past each other is immensely frustrating. If you can't agree on premises, it's pointless to argue about conclusions.

    Here's the fundamental question: What makes a life worthy of being protected and preserved? For Christians, the criterion seems to be humanity; human life is worth protecting, period. For atheists, the equation seems to be more complicated and involve a number of criteria like intelligence, potential contribution to society, the opinions of their friends and relatives, and some sort of personal pleasure/pain ratio.

    Now do me a favor and find some common ground before continuing this conversation.

    -JH

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    1. @JH:

      One side believes that all humans have a right to life. The other believes that only humans who pass a test have a right to life.

      Where's the common ground? That we all agree we shouldn't kill people like ourselves?

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    2. Michael,

      The common ground is that both sides believe that humans shouldn't be killed without adequate reason (to cover self-defense, justified killing of enemy soldiers in a 'just' war, and so on.

      The ground of disagreement is over the definition of 'human'. You use 'human' simultaneously as an adjective and a noun, and make no distinction between the two.

      An unimplanted fertilized human ovum is human (adjective). It isn't a human (noun). It isn't a human being or a person. The law in most states regards human fetuses of 20 weeks gestation as not being humans (human beings or persons). They are obviously human (adjective).

      To return to Colorado, the state regards a fetus of 7 months gestation as not having the rights of a person. You expressed approval of the lawyers representing a Catholic hospital for using this law to have a malpractice suit dismissed. Three Catholic bishops in Colorado expressed considerable disquiet that this was done.

      Why are you right and the Catholic bishops wrong (I personally agree with the bishops)?

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    3. Human beings are easy to identify. They are a continuum, from fertilization to natural death. There is no biological question here.

      The issue is that pro-aborts believe that it is ok to kill some human beings if the woman (she's not a mother) wants to, for no other reason. Pro-lifers insist that human life be protected from such killing.

      Regarding the Colorado issue, the legal issue is not the moral issue. If the law does not confer the right to life on 7 month fetuses, then the hospital should not be forced to pay. The hospital's lawyers have legal responsibilities, which they are meeting. The money can certainly be better spent meeting the needs of the patients, and not giving the litigious family and lawyers a big payday.

      The same reasoning applies to malpractice. A doctor can believe that he should have done better, but if the details of the case don't rise to malpractice, the doctor is under no moral obligation to pay anyone anything.

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    4. Michael,

      Then we do agree on the grounds that we do disagree. I still think you're wrong in calling an unimplanted fertilized human ovum a human being. If it's a human being, then the coroner would have to be informed whenever an early spontaneous abortion occurs.

      You keep on changing how you use 'human'. One sentence - it's a noun. Next sentence - it's an adjective. Agreed; a fertilized human ovum is human, it's alive, so it's 'human life'. But it's not a human (being) or person. It's not a biological definition. It's a legal one. If a 7 month gestation fetus has no legal rights as a person (a human being), then a 20 week gestation fetus also has no legal rights as a person (a human being). And certainly, an unimplanted fertilized human ovum has absolutely no legal rights as a person (human being).

      You need to be consistent in your arguments.

      You miss the point. Lawyers represent their clients. They advise their clients as to the tactics they should employ. But, at the end of the day, the client has the say.

      The Catholic bishops expressed considerable disquiet that a malpractice suit was avoided on a legal technicality. That a 7 month gestation fetus doesn't have the rights of a person. They believe that the case should have been decided on its merits.

      You seem to assume that the Catholic hospital would have lost the malpractice suit. Actually, I'm certain that they would have won! Considering the facts of the case.

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    5. I doubt that the hospital even has the authority to pay out if it has no legal liability. There are bylaws, etc, and giving money away is unlikely to be in the bylaws.

      Regarding the status of the zygote, you are making a ridiculous unscientific argument. You are asserting that a zygote is not a member of the species that it ... is a member of. If a zygote is not a homo sapiens (a human being), what is it?

      And could you explain your new biological theory that human beings arise spontaneously from zygotes, at some time (20 weeks) after conception. I'm fascinated by tin-foil hat biology.

      Whether a zygote is a person-- a human being with legal status-- is another question. But a zygote is obviously a human being.

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    6. JH,
      What a God-damned, hypocritical fool you are. Amazingly, you're worse than, say, Bachfiend.

      Delete
    7. Michael,

      'Human' is a biological term. It's an adjective. It applies to members of Homo sapiens, Homo neanderthalis, Homo erectus, and a few other species. Some biologists want to extend the genus to include common chimpanzees and bonobos, so they also are Homo species.

      'Human being' is a legal definition. It's the attribution of rights (and responsibilities) to an entity. A 19 week gestation fetus doesn't become 'human' (biologically) at 20 weeks. It becomes a human being (legally, with the inherent rights).

      Legal definitions can change. They're just a matter of common usage. If you want to make unimplanted fertilized ova human beings, then have the law changed, as they did with the referendum in Mississippi.

      You keep on assuming that the Colorado Catholic hospital would have lost the malpractice suit. What makes you think that? I'm certain that they would have won. And they should have taken it to court to prove that; 1. They weren't guilty of malpractice, and 2. A 7 month gestation fetus has the legal rights of a person.

      The three Colorado Catholic bishops were right. You're wrong.

      Ilion,

      Nice that you engage so readily in abuse. I'm pleased to be God-damned, because it means nothing bad is going to happen to me.

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    8. @bachfiend: You're confusing "person" and "human being."

      @Ilion: Care to explain?

      -JH

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    9. JH,

      No. See the Wikipedia article on 'person'. The American Supreme Court has extended the definition of 'person' to include corporations. Restricting it to human beings is much more sensible.

      Delete
    10. hypocritical, lying leftist: "Nice that you engage so readily in abuse."

      Oh! You poor, abused, whining hypocrite. Where does it hurt?

      hypocritical, lying leftist: "I'm pleased to be God-damned, because it means nothing bad is going to happen to me."

      Aside from the issue of whether being damned-of-God is of any consequence, the lying leftist again demonstrated his disdain for truth. Well, unless 'JH' is his sock-puppet.

      Delete
  12. lying leftist: "The American Supreme Court has extended the definition of 'person' to include corporations."

    Leftists can't be honest about anything, can they?

    The US SC did not "extended the definition of 'person' to include corporations"; what it did was rule that leftists cannot artificially restrict the already-and-long-established expansion of the definition such that the groups-of-humans-working-in-concert that they like still count as legal persons but that the groups-of-humans-working-in-concert that they don’t like don’t count as legal persons.

    The legal fiction that bodies of individual persons (hence the name, ‘corporation’) can be united to some common purpose and thus are, in certain contexts, actual persons, is a centuries-old (uniquely) Western concept-and-practice. The ‘corporation’ was developed in the Middle Ages (*), and its obvious benefit quickly lead to its use throughout Latin Christendom.

    The ‘corporation’ is a major reason why the West – a tiny little sliver of the world, both in territory and in population – was able so quickly to rise to global pre-eminence in any endeavor one wishes to mention.


    (*) i.e. the ‘corporation’ one more thing for haters-of-Christianity to pointlessly hate the Roman Catholic church about, as it was developed centuries before the Reformation.

    lying leftist: "Restricting it to [actual] human beings is much more sensible."

    No it doesn’t – and, in any event, lying leftists not willing to admit the personhood of a certain body of actual human beings: those not yet born or in the process of being born or who have managed to get born despite that some older person was trying to kill them at the time.

    Denying or abrogating the legal status as ‘persons’ of human-persons-in-collective is actually a fine old leftist tactic for justifying the mass murders of masses of actual human persons – all one need do is:
    1) focus on the membership of actual individual human beings in some collective body or group;
    2) deny the personhood of that corporation of actual individual human beings;
    2a) thus denying the personhood of the actual individual human beings which comprise the group;
    3) murder them.
    This tactic works whether one means to murder the kulaks, or the bourgeoisie, or the “lives unworthy of life”, or the Jews … or the unborn, or the old, or the crippled.

    ===
    Of course, what this lying leftist *really* meant was “restricting [the definition of ‘person’ such that the groups-of-humans-working-in-concert that we leftist like still count as legal persons, while the groups-of-humans-working-in-concert that we leftist don’t like don’t count as legal persons] is much more sensible.

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    1. Ilion,

      My comment about 'corporations as persons' was concerning the funding of third parties in electoral campaigns in support of one of the candidates, and the distortion it might cause to the results of elections. And the possibility that billionaires might be able to 'buy' elections to obtain policies favouring them, not the broader community.

      Although, it didn't work in the last presidential election. Karl Rove was very upset that the millions he'd raised and spent on behalf of Romney had so little effect. Although, as a result of media policy, direct spending by the official candidates is much more effective; it's cheaper and the ads can be changed at short notice to react to circumstances - advantages that 3rd party ads don't have.

      Anyway, if you don't like the legal definition of 'personhood' not applying to 20 weeks gestation foetuses, then campaign to have it changed.

      Historically, when groups were persecuted it was done by dictatorships both on the right (Nazis, Franco's Nationalists, Chile's Pinochet, the Argentinian Junta) and left (the Soviet Union, Mao's China, Pol Pot, etc). And it wasn't because the groups were declared to be non-persons. It was because the individuals were regarded to be a threat to the ruling ideology.

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  13. Morons. Sleeping people are sentient. They have a functional cerebral cortex. An embryo does not.

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