An interesting attempt at abortion ethics

But calling fetuses “innocent” assumes that they are persons: “innocence” implies the potential for guilt, and that’s only true of persons.

Well, yes, but to deny they are persons is not a refutation of the claim that they are persons with the right to life etc. It’s a disagreement with it, sure, but not a refutation.

23 thoughts on “An interesting attempt at abortion ethics”

  1. Agree with Tim’s point, the argument is BS, but would also point out that the definition “not guilty of a crime or offense” does not seem to require the potential for guilt.

    Other than that…

  2. Without having thought this through myself, would their argument be one in favour of capital punishment?

    If it’s ok to kill foetuses because they can’t be innocent, is it ok to kill post-natal people that are proven guilty of a sufficiently heinous crime (eg, misgendering a tranny)?

  3. Thoughts:

    * I hope they don’t that line on a woman who’s just suffered a miscarriage.

    * “Congratulations, it’s a fetus!” said nobody ever.

    * The only logically consistent and non-psychopathic definition of humanity (which is the basis of personhood, no?) begins at conception. Otherwise you’re into Mengelian territory, wondering at what point it stops being ok to stab newborn infants in the brain and whether it’s ok to kill people because they’re profoundly disabled (and some pro-aborts do)

  4. Steve – your point about defining humanity at conception is the reason the pro-abortion crowd work so very, very hard to control the language of the debate.

  5. But calling [week old babies] “innocent” assumes that they are persons: “innocence” implies the potential for guilt, and that’s only true of persons.

    Therefore week old babies are not persons?

  6. OK all you theologians out there. At what point does Original Sin kick in ?
    Does a baby have to be born to carry the taint of Cain ?

  7. Spanish Steve – yes, noticing their linguistic prestidigitation was what made me start to question abortion narratives in the first place. Prior to then I assumed there was some sort of legitimate science behind it

    Otto – original sin has nothing to do with Cain

  8. . . . humanity (which is the basis of personhood, no?) . . .

    Confusingly, not. “Person” originated in ancient theatre (basically the characters in plays). It was then adopted in theological debate (Jesus and God separate persons, followed later by H. Ghost, angels and humans). Philosophers (something that can conceive itself as itself, etc) and lawyers (corporations, states and estates, etc) then got hold of it. Surprisingly, pre-natal humans have only recently been considered for an invite, along with chimpanzees, Google servers and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

    The things you learn prompted by T. Worstall musings, eh?

  9. “innocence” implies the potential for guilt, and that’s only true of persons

    The unborn child has potential for guilt, as long as some cunt doesn’t murder it in the womb.

  10. This doesn’t help them at all. Just like the difficulty in determining when a foetus becomes a person, determining when a human has the potential for guilt is a sorites problem. The potential for guilt has the added spice that it depersonalises sociopaths and the severely mentally disabled, which I don’t think is desirable. I’m sure it’s not their intention, but it’s alarming that they don’t appreciate the flaw.

  11. PJF – that’s crazy. Actors aren’t people.

    Otto – I tried being florid once, but I’m a one trick peony.

  12. “small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. ” I got that ref! HHGTTG. From memory back ‘in a time when men were real men and women were real women and small creatures from Alpha Centauri were real creatures from Alpha Centauri.’

  13. Theophrastus (2066)

    A conceptus is no more a human being or a person than an acorn is an oak tree. A conceptus is a potential human being, and that potential, which increases daily, is what gives it its value.

  14. “The only logically consistent and non-psychopathic definition of humanity (which is the basis of personhood, no?) begins at conception.”

    Umm… No…
    There’s a reason expecting mothers are warned not to crow victory too soon, as Mother Nature has the nasty habit to “pull the plug” in the first trimester herself.
    It’s only after the first trimester that a pregnancy can be expected to be carried to term. Anything before that is more of a coin-toss.

    And up to that time, only the foundation and the scaffolding are laid down. The things that make us “human” start to develop after that, including after birth. With clear, defineable developments at ~3 years (speech and “identity”) and ~6 years ( “personality” ). And then there’s the Puberty thing..
    From a scientific point of view children, especially babies, are simply highly specialised parasites that we ( at least the women) are hardwired to at least tolerate if not “adore”.
    Until the development of speech there isn’t any noticeable difference between human babies and any other primate even. And we don’t see chimps, let alone their babies as “persons”..

    There are many reasons why abortion-as-contraception is a Bad Idea, medical or philosophical, but the argument that a foetus is a “person” is logically incorrect.

  15. . . . than an acorn is an oak tree.

    [Monkey narrator slight Chinese accent]

    Ancient sages said that oak trees are just what acorns use to make more acorns. No matter how eloquently a dog may bark he cannot tell you that his mother was poor but honest.

  16. Hallowed Be, they were really furry, too. That was from the same section as:

    “. . . and a long sullen silence settled over the galaxy, disturbed only by the pen scratchings of scholars as they laboured into the night over smug little treatises on the value of a planned political economy.”

    Ritchie, lost in space.

  17. Grikath –

    Umm… No…

    (Narrator: Yes)

    There’s a reason expecting mothers are warned not to crow victory too soon, as Mother Nature has the nasty habit to “pull the plug” in the first trimester herself.

    And what happens then? Do women who have suffered a miscarriage shrug and go tapdancing? Or do they mourn the child that never was? Are they just being silly females? Or do they grok a truth that’s deeper than abstract argumentation over definitions of words?

    For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

    The things that make us “human” start to develop after that,

    Ah, but this is exactly the kind of philosophical and moral labyrinth I was hoping you wouldn’t get lost in. You can wander in there forever, and find only horrors.

    Either a person’s a person, no matter how small, or it’s ok in certain circumstances to kill infants and the non-verbal retarded. And why not bump off granny while we’re at it? Her mind’s slipping.

    You can argue that if you want, but I don’t think anything good can come of it. Nothing has so far.

    From a scientific point of view children, especially babies, are simply highly specialised parasites

    From a certain scientific point of view we’re all parasites sucking the lifeblood of Mother Gaia. Who shall abort us?

  18. From a scientific point of view children, especially babies, are simply highly specialised parasites . . .

    Reference to paper, please.

    And we don’t see chimps, let alone their babies as “persons”.

    They do also throw shit about, though.

  19. You are making me think of a short story, ‘The Pre-persons’, by Philip K Dick, on just that theme.

    And I’m sure there’ve been any number about the robot that has to decide whether you’re human or not.

    I suppose I’d have to argue that this is one of those situations where we just have to draw the line somewhere. Of course, as I look in the mirror, I wonder if they’d draw the line through me.

  20. Until the development of speech there isn’t any noticeable difference between human babies and any other primate even.

    You’ve clearly spent little, if any time around small children.
    There are massive differences between even the smallest children, well before they learn to talk.

  21. Grikath, if we accept your premise, at what point does the clump of cells become a person? When it is fully outside the birth canal? What if it’s still attached to the placenta? Or does it need to pass a test of some sort re: awareness?

    I think there are two options here, human at conception or we’ll make up some arbitrary point so nobody has to feel icky about abortion.

    One last note, it’s possible to acknowledge the humanity at conception and still permit abortion up to some point, there are competing interests involved. One can believe that a pregnant woman who doesn’t wish to continue the pregnancy has the right to end it. Just as the pro-abortion crowd pretends there’s nothing to see here, the pro-life crowd often tends to act as though there’s no inconvenience or difficulty inflicted on the woman.

  22. @PJF : Any uni-level textbook on developmental biology will work. Depending on taste/background you can find references ranging from behavioural psychology and ethology ( what triggers the “care response”, and how, and.. ) , down to the nitty-gritty molecular level that deals with cellular strategies employed to avoid rejection/immune response in mammals, and how they match strategies employed by parasites to accomplish the same.
    And, of course, being proper textbooks, they have the list of references for further reading.. Have a go. It’s a bit of an eye-opener on how “rational” we are regarding offspring…

    @Chernyy : Sorry, between foster-parent, two relations with her growing kids, the brood of my family, the broods of my friends/acqaintances, and several hordes/clutches/murders of utter strangers at vandalising me at events, I may have been around a couple.
    I’m good with kids, they seem to like me in a Big Bad Uncle way, and so far the various parents seem to be happy to unload their flock on me for a bit.
    Especially since I seem to be able to do anything from feeding/diapers to first-love shenanigans and exams satisfactorily.
    What I’m not is taken in by the antics of the little selfish bastards, nor suffer from parental delusions. Which may be a big part of the secret why they like and respect me…

    @Steve You invoked Logic, who is a cold hard Mistress.. You know that the problem is in the getting pregnant in the first place. Which is not a problem anymore nowadays.
    Except that the Bibble-wavers and the Manifesto-waving Feminazis seem to be dead-set on preventing universal and cheap contraception every inch of the way.
    Get that done, and abortion is immediately a thing that’s only necessary for purely medical reasons. Not for after-the-fact birth control.

    As far as “when to off Gran” goes… Here in Polderland we have actual laws, rules, and procedures for that. Because it is needed. And the Bibble-wavers ( yes, we have them here as well..) were told to go take a hike. And rightly so.
    One of my sis-in-laws happily used those just under a year ago to be quicker than the metastased breast cancer that threatened ( amongst others) to eat her brain and sanity. Several others in my vicinity similar in the past year.
    Meanwhile in the U.S. you are still reliant on the Little Angels (worst-kept secret in the world…) or messing around with self-appplied prescription meds. Oh wait… Just like you still have abortions for non-mediclal reasons, because there’s no decent contraception…

    @Esteban The “first trimester” rule that’s incorporated into most laws ( in various definitions, depending..) works, and is essentially correct.
    For analogy: a PC.
    At the end of the first trimester the mainboard + bios is installed and operational.
    The processor, memory, and HDD you need to make the thing go are, at that stage, not yet installed. That happens in the second and third trimester and continues up to adolescence.
    Let alone the operating system ( installed somewhere in the third trimester, as far as we can tell) and the apps (get installed past birth, eventually involve “school” and “experience”, and gets tweaked throughout our life..)

    And yes, I use the “brain as the seat of consciousness” paradigm here.
    Logic and metaphysics… don’t mix..

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