Author Topic: Roe might be in woe  (Read 38941 times)

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #100 on: March 18, 2021, 01:55:46 PM »
This isn't a terribly interesting question. Humans procreate. When we do, another soul arises and gives form and animation to the body.

At the moment of conception, either there are two souls and two bodies, or there is one soul and one body.  In the latter case, , a second soul arises when the second body forms. Science can tell us which happens on a physical level, and we can use that information to draw metaphysical conclusions. I'm not familiar enough with the science to tell you which one it is, but neither is problematic for the argument I'm making.

The problem is that it shows  your standard for gaining a soul to be arbitrary. Now it can happen at two (or more?) steps of a process instead of a singular defining event. Now that you've moved from conception to conception plus when a certain kind of division occurs, why not move it ordinary cell division or implantation. If neither of those happen then there's no potential for human life.

This is a perennial problem with depending on Reason alone to answer thorny questions.  It's very hard to stop the answer from being whatever you want it to be.

It really isn't arbitrary or complex. The problem is that our age has a superstitious distrust of any reasoning which isn't science or math. We've closed the doors to the rest of human knowledge, and whenever someone speaks from behind them, we cower behind Euclid and Newton and yell "faith! superstition! arbitrary!"

I imagine a future society which decides that Math is an unreasonable belief. They can still see some basic mathematical truths, like combining things follows some basic rules, but it rejects the formal use of numbers or reason. Anytime some guy comes along as talks about Algebra, people look at it with suspicion. Anytime he talks about Calculus, he is told that he's engaged in the superstitious beliefs of the past, and of course we can't actually do calculus.  What is an "infinitesimal" anyway? Completely arbitrary. That doesn't even exist.

That is how we are today when it comes to using the rest of philosophy. It is the terrible and false view of our age.

When a body forms, if it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the animating principle and the thing that makes the body "one thing".  It is the principle of unity and animation. It is also the principle of specification. It is the thing that lets you and I share in "humanity" while being at the same time  specifically be "Josh" or "NobleHunter". 

We can imagine the body of a living person forming in all sorts of ways. However they form, once they form, they are paired with a soul. The soul is the thing which makes them alive, makes them one, and makes them a specific one.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #101 on: March 18, 2021, 01:59:29 PM »
Over-population is a myth. We're nowhere close to it. Most importantly, every person who is born has a positive expected value for society.  Will problems arise? Sure. We'll solve them.

And what happens when we devastate what wild areas and fisheries we have left to support 14 trillion people? The natural ecosystem would collapse. Because we only need to look to Brazil to see what happens when people have to weight having enough food to eat against destroying valuable rain forest.

Yes, of course there are ways in which we could grow society that would be devastating to our wild areas. I also think the limitations we face today are not necessarily the limitations we'll face tomorrow. Humans are wildly ingenious. We have overcome many all of the seemingly insurmountable hurdles societies faced in the past; history gives me confidence that we will similarly find a way to overcome future hurdles.

The natural areas of the planet are already being destroyed because people living on the edge of ruin have to use the land to survive. Doubling our population from this level in 50 years time would be devastating. Because that is the path you would take us on. Even with well executed natural family planning the average number of children per woman is likely to increase by 1 or 2 kids. With modern medicine we should expect most of them to live into at least their 70's. Climate change is happening, massive populations are going to be displaced by natural disaster and war. If the shocks are large enough civilization will largely collapse. If civilization collapses the number of people we can support (even doing great harm to the eco system) plummets. Consider the fall of Rome, it went from a city with about a million people to a city of 30,000 as the empire fell. What you propose (in terms of population increase) would likely bring about the types of challenges we aren't ready to face and cause a catastrophic decline in population.

The American west has a lot of empty land but very limited water supply. Alaska has a bunch of land but not the easiest place to grow food to survive. The productive top soil in America's breadbasket needs nourished preserved and replenished. Many of our biggest cities are threatened with sea level rise. And those are the challenges we would face in a wealthy nation that still has some unused land. The situation is worse in many other nations.

We can't discuss every point when we're trying to discuss abortion. I probably took the wrong approach in responding to this point, because it is causing the thread to sprawl in every direction.

In an attempt to keep this thread on a single track: certainly we agree that we can't murder half of the children under the age of three to address your concerns about overpopulation, right? Whether or not we are facing over-population, a solution can't be murder. The evil of murder supersedes any concerns you have overpopulation. I think you'll agree that we can never do murder in order to solve that problem you believe in. If it is a problem, then we'll have to solve it through some other means, right? 


JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #102 on: March 18, 2021, 02:03:37 PM »
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The Drake: I'm a little curious what we think would happen when unlimited procreation would mean in terms of "the state" in terms of taking care of children. We have some test cases. Large Utah families that are on public assistance. Are we going to magically believe that private charity is going to fill up that gap? If it were true, government food assistance would never have needed creation in the first place. The only other alternative I see is malnourished kids.

JoshuaD: As our society has grown, we have gotten better at feeding ourselves. People are much more nourished today than they were 2000 years ago, when there were less people. What are you talking about?

TheDrake: Just saying Joshua, you live in a fantasy world. Just about 20% of children in this country do not get three meals a day.

How on earth do you imagine that's a response to what I said? I didn't say "everyone living eats enough food". Of course that's not true.  I said something different than that, quoted above.

Pointing out that some people are still hungry is not at all responsive to my point that the growth in the population has resulted in us getting better at feeding people.  Our efficiency at using farmland and our diversity of crops and our ability to transport food have all wildly exceeded anything our long-distant ancestors could have imagined was possible.  With the same land, we do so much more than they did.  We are better at it.

NobleHunter

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #103 on: March 18, 2021, 02:24:42 PM »
When a body forms, if it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the animating principle and the thing that makes the body "one thing".  It is the principle of unity and animation. It is also the principle of specification. It is the thing that lets you and I share in "humanity" while being at the same time  specifically be "Josh" or "NobleHunter". 

We can imagine the body of a living person forming in all sorts of ways. However they form, once they form, they are paired with a soul. The soul is the thing which makes them alive, makes them one, and makes them a specific one.

I still think identical twins are a problem for your argument because something that was one becomes two supposedly after it gains a soul. I could also take issue with how the word body is being used or how it feels like there's a teleological subtext which violates causality. At the end of the day though, my problem is you declaring with absolute certainty that Reason says when a soul happens and when a human person comes into being. A great many people, wiser than anyone here, have disagreed most strenuously on the topic.

In an attempt to keep this thread on a single track: certainly we agree that we can't murder half of the children under the age of three to address your concerns about overpopulation, right? Whether or not we are facing over-population, a solution can't be murder. The evil of murder supersedes any concerns you have overpopulation. I think you'll agree that we can never do murder in order to solve that problem you believe in. If it is a problem, then we'll have to solve it through some other means, right? 

Technically, if population levels reach a truly unsustainable state and a "natural" malthusian collapse would drop the number of people below the levels required to sustain civilization, murder would be the solution. It's the same reason we cull species with limited habitats. Species might survive booms and crashes in normal circumstances but if they're already on the edge due to human interference, letting their population explode and destroy their food source could wipe them out entirely.

But I'm really commenting on this because I find the appeal to justice also works for the idea that the soul arrives at conception. Given the failure rate of natural pregnancy, where conception occurs but not implantation or any number of other factors result in early miscarriage, I find it entirely unreasonable to say that this is the loss of a human life. It's absurd. It makes getting pregnant so high risk that it would utterly debase the worth of a human life. How valuable can a life be if we can't even say how many are lost before we know they exist? I think human life is worth more than that and so life can't begin at conception.

Pointing out that some people are still hungry is not at all responsive to my point that the growth in the population has resulted in us getting better at feeding people.  Our efficiency at using farmland and our diversity of crops and our ability to transport food have all wildly exceeded anything our long-distant ancestors could have imagined was possible.  With the same land, we do so much more than they did.  We are better at it.

That's backwards, we got better at feeding people (more like keeping them alive but food supply has a role, too) and therefore ended up with more people. And I'm not sure that producing epic surpluses over 100 years necessarily means we're better at making food. Not if those surpluses destroy the land's ability to produce food for the next 1000 years (which is a possibility).

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #104 on: March 18, 2021, 02:42:38 PM »
When a body forms, if it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the animating principle and the thing that makes the body "one thing".  It is the principle of unity and animation. It is also the principle of specification. It is the thing that lets you and I share in "humanity" while being at the same time  specifically be "Josh" or "NobleHunter". 

We can imagine the body of a living person forming in all sorts of ways. However they form, once they form, they are paired with a soul. The soul is the thing which makes them alive, makes them one, and makes them a specific one.

So do bacteria have souls? Insects? Fish? Reptiles? Mammals? Primates? Or just humans?

The biological processes of life are 'just chemistry' - so how is the soul interacting with chemistry?  Are bacteria alive yet soulless?  What is the soul doing?

I can understand Aristotle believing in a soul - the concepts for chemistry and physics didn't exist, nor did astronomy, or any other science.  So a line of reason completely ignorant of science isn't his fault.  However, now we have science showing that cells are at root just chemistry.  That neurons are just another cell, and that we can accomplish many of the tasks of brains (creative writing, language translation, object identification, novel image generation, navigation, planning, game playing) with artificial neurons that imitate the core behaviors of neurons and that learn (and generate novel output) statistically.  We also have evidence that capacities we once thought exclusively human (reasoning and planning; communication; various emotions such as love, empathy, anger, sadness, depression, joy; tool use; cultural transmission; superstition) appear to be widespread in the animal kingdom (corvids, primates, cuttlefish and octopus, dolphins and whales, dogs and cats, elephants, racoons, grey parrots, pigs, squirrels, etc.) using similar brain structures.  The major difference is that humans have a greater capacity for abstraction and more complex communication, longer term planning, and more complex tool use.  Basically many animals are about as mentally sophisticated as a typical two year old.

Also we now know that all aspects or personality and reasoning can be altered with manipulation of neurons - either chemically (medication, drugs), mechanically (destruction of neurons in particular locations, or physical blocking of receptors, concussion and disruption of the blood brain barrier), genetically (creating 'knock out' mice that halve altered receptors, neurotransmitters, etc.), infectively, via cancer growth, or electrically (inducing electric fields in particular parts of the brain).  The concept of soul was meant to account for personality and reason, but we have proof that it is the brain that does these.

A person with a 'black soul' - psychopaths - have defective oxytocin receptors, a genetic disorder that makes them incapable of empathy, love, loyalty, as well as diminished capacities for fear, anxiety, and disgust.

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #105 on: March 18, 2021, 02:51:13 PM »
Also we can now bypass creating fetuses, and directly produce pluripotent stem cells, then use those cells to create a brain (currently 'brain organoids - which are basically small clusters of neurons).

Do the organoids have a soul?  Are they 'people'?  If we grow a complete brain rather than an organoid - does it have a soul and is it a person?

TheDrake

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #106 on: March 18, 2021, 03:33:59 PM »
Just saying Joshua, you live in a fantasy world. Just about 20% of children in this country do not get three meals a day.

Google isn't helping me.  Do you have a source for this statistic?

I might have overstated based on memory. Might be only 13%

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx#:~:text=percent%20in%202018.-,Food%20Security%20Status%20of%20U.S.%20Households%20with%20Children%20in%202019,households%20with%20children%20in%202019.

rightleft22

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #107 on: March 18, 2021, 04:26:35 PM »
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It really isn't arbitrary or complex. The problem is that our age has a superstitious distrust of any reasoning which isn't science or math. We've closed the doors to the rest of human knowledge, and whenever someone speaks from behind them, we cower behind Euclid and Newton and yell "faith! superstition! arbitrary!"

That is how we are today when it comes to using the rest of philosophy. It is the terrible and false view of our age.

When a body forms, if it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the animating principle and the thing that makes the body "one thing".

There are many forms of 'knowledge'. Each form has its own language of 'knowing' and more often than not, much of that language can't be translated into the other.  The distrust you note comes about because people don't realize they aren't speaking the same language.

You are using religious language 'soul' to make a Biological argument. 'Soul' cant be measured objectively as the language of science requires.  The word soul has no scientific meaning. That does not mean the religious experience of 'soul' is not real.  Its different ways of relating to the world. There are valid religious and scientific pro-life arguments there are no such  'religious as science' or vice versa arguments. 

In the beginning story of Genius Adam is assigned the task of naming the things of this earth. Adam is the first scientist, using his five senses to name, measure, define. This is the language of man, helpful in day today life. We do not hear about G_d becoming upset because Adam labeled some animal a dog and not a doog. G_d it seems does not care.  Nothing man labels or measures changes anything other then man's relationship to creation. We only imagine what we measure changes G_d and creation does but that's hubris. And in our hubris miss the relationship.

Fenring

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #108 on: March 18, 2021, 11:10:09 PM »
LR,

I'll avoid belaboring both of us with another point-by-point (60,000 words, anyone :D), but I'll highlight a couple of general issues:

1) You seem to be basing part of your argument against the 'person at conception' position on the embryo being just a bunch of biological matter and nothing more (yet). This comment of yours in particular encapsulates this idea:

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Each of my examples are of numerous groupings of unique, human, life and thus should have their 'personhood' protected by your definition.  I'm pointing out that 'unique human life' is hundreds of trillions times more common than an embryo, and contained in everyday things that not only do we not think deserving of protection but that we view as actively worthy of destruction.

I'll add in this quote as well:

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What the hell?  Poop, urine, cancer, and cheek swap, shed skin, etc - all contain living human cells - aka 'human life'.  You asked if 'human life' can exist without personhood.  I gave a number of common examples where it doesn't.

But I'm puzzled about why you would call cancer cells, a cheek swab, and poop "human life". They may be from a living human, but I've never heard of poop or cancel cells as being described as "life". They may be living tissue, part of a human life, or in the case of waste product a result of a living process, but I just don't get what you mean by saying that embryos are just another example of biological matter as these are. In a very deconstructed way, yes, they are all constituents of organic chemistry. But the pattern of each of these is different, and it's the pattern that matters. Now it's not even farcical to ask (even if quickly) on a case-by-case basis whether various organic compounds could count as life, as each may have a different pattern and therefore require its own answer. Your proposition that simply none of them (including embryos) should warrant the question, and that moreover if the question were asked it would uniformly be zero in all cases - I don't get how you could get to that. I don't see what's so peculiar about saying that embryos are verifiably a differently patterned organic substance than a cheek swab. I just can't help but feel that any move in the direction you're going in here sounds like sophistry - trying to make an argument based on different things being treated as similar or identical (categorically speaking).

2) This may be the more crucial point but I'm listing is second since it comes second in your post:

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Secondly personhood is a legal definition conferring rights so looking at current definitions is important.

I know I'm drawing this statement out of its context but it made me realize that despite my attempt to explicitly state what I am and what I'm not talking about, we may have in fact been talking past each other. If in the first place you define personhood as merely a legal fiction then we are definitely not talking about the same thing. I agree entirely with the point that from a legal perspective the law establishes boundaries on definitions and these are the mechanics of the current system. But JoshuaD was, and I am, talking about an intrinsic and inalienable property that exists in a living being, not something that is a question of how we choose to run a society. It is a similar area of discussion to natural law, and insofar as the pro-life side posits that this property exists whether you agree or not, we are talking about something that is essentially a fact of nature, not a convention come to by agreement. Now you can argue that there is no such thing as natural law, that biological beings are just a chemical soup and have no innate moral qualities beyond what we make up for ourselves using our intellects; and if this is your position then I recognize that there is an impasse in trying to describe the details of innate moral qualities if your argument's axiom is that there is no such thing as an innate moral quality. Maybe that sort of impasse can be surpassed scientifically in a million years or something, but for right now it's a question for philosophy, not science.

Am I right that this is the area of disagreement? Because I thought it was clear on my part that I was not talking about legal fictions (i.e. conventional agreements) but on the fact that the "personhood starts at conception" argument is rooted in the idea of personhood being a moral fact intrinsic to that type of life (i.e. human life), and is not conditional on it having passed certain developmental boundaries.

You said in your quote "a legal definition conferring rights", but to anyone who believes in natural law (or religious law), there is no such thing as "conferring rights." Rights are a thing you already have innately by virtue of the type of being you are; no one can confer them upon you. We might say that the law recognizes those rights, but it cannot grant them or take them away. I suppose you might have meant that the developing human only actually acquires those rights after a cutoff point (i.e. it did not innately have them before, but now it does), and that the law recognizes this change of state. But then you'd have to have a clearly defined understanding of what that innate right is in order to see if the developmental stage you have in mind (in this case, having a brain) should be requisite for having that right. This would require a metaphysical argument of at least some kind, and could not be reduced merely to biology, since as of yet biology has nothing to say about which rights are innate to living (human) beings and which are not.

So this is why I told you that I was not talking about legal personhood. Basically it's an issue that doesn't matter. If legal personhood corresponds perfectly with innate personhood then we can ignore the legal side of it and only look at the moral side of it, and the legal side gets covered anyhow (by virtue of them being identical). If it does not correspond with it then discussing legal personhood is actually detrimental to a moral conversation since its boundaries would differ with actual personhood, but in ways we're not sure of, so if anything it would confuse rather than clarify the question.

Overall I should stress that I was not putting forward an argument that the personhood begins at conception idea is definitely right. All I said was that it is sensible on a common sense level. "It begins when the whole rigmarole starts" is fairly clear. It doesn't have the complication of requiring value judgements to be a clear statement. But again that doesn't mean there can't be other reasonable positions. I was mostly posting to say not that this must be the answer you have to recognize, but that at minimum it has the virtue of being based on a clear idea. A lot of the other ideas don't seem to be based on clear reasoning to me at all, including the "personhood starts at brain development" idea, for reasons I mentioned in my first post on the subject. It is definitely legally tenable, maybe even convenient and practical, but if what we're talking about is providing an answer in a way that corresponds to the (forgive the term) moral fabric of the universe, then more is needed than it being practical. It has to also be right. And again, if there is no moral fabric to the universe then there is no moral problem: there are no morals other than those we invent.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 11:13:58 PM by Fenring »

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #109 on: March 19, 2021, 03:13:16 AM »
But I'm puzzled about why you would call cancer cells, a cheek swab, and poop "human life". They may be from a living human, but I've never heard of poop or cancel cells as being described as "life". They may be living tissue, part of a human life, or in the case of waste product a result of a living process, but I just don't get what you mean by saying that embryos are just another example of biological matter as these are. I

The living human cells in the poop (probably a few thousand) are all 'human life'.  Human life is human life.  What makes it special isn't that it is human in origin, or that it is life, but that it has a brain.

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In a very deconstructed way, yes, they are all constituents of organic chemistry. But the pattern of each of these is different, and it's the pattern that matters.

The pattern differences are trivial, in nearlly all cases, they can be taken and transformed into a person given the right environment.

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Now it's not even farcical to ask (even if quickly) on a case-by-case basis whether various organic compounds could count as life, as each may have a different pattern and therefore require its own answer.

An embryo 'lacks the pattern' to develop into a person.  It requires specific inputs from the environment to do so.  If you place an embryo into a nutrient broth it can't develop into a person.

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Your proposition that simply none of them (including embryos) should warrant the question, and that moreover if the question were asked it would uniformly be zero in all cases - I don't get how you could get to that.

Because embryos are just another clump of cells, we can probably make humans without embryos at this point in technology.  We can create humans from any cell, sex isn't needed, uniqueness is neither necessary nor sufficient.  We can freeze an embryo for 20 years or quite possibly millions of years, it makes little difference.

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I don't see what's so peculiar about saying that embryos are verifiably a differently patterned organic substance than a cheek swab.

The cells from a cheek swab can be induced to form a fetus with the proper environment, just as an embryo in the proper environment can be so induced.  Both are incapable of being so induced in the lack of a proper environment.  This is also true of cells from other sources (recovered from poop, urine, shed skin, sampled from an organ, etc.)  If killing an embryo is immoral, then it is even more immoral to fail to recover cells from poop, urine, shed skin, etc. - because there are so many more 'potential people' involved.  It would also be immoral to not recover 'failed to implant' embryos from the urine.  Each person has a milllion body cells die every second.  That is 86,400 million potential lives lost every day.

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I just can't help but feel that any move in the direction you're going in here sounds like sophistry - trying to make an argument based on different things being treated as similar or identical (categorically speaking).

They are morally equivalent things - potential persons given the proper environment.  The 'uniqueness' arguement only matters if twins and clones are deemed non-persons.

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If in the first place you define personhood as merely a legal fiction then we are definitely not talking about the same thing.

The legal meaning and moral meaning should be quite similar.

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I agree entirely with the point that from a legal perspective the law establishes boundaries on definitions and these are the mechanics of the current system. But JoshuaD was, and I am, talking about an intrinsic and inalienable property that exists in a living being, not something that is a question of how we choose to run a society.

Moral definitions of person are fine too, just have a consistent method.  'Human embryos should be considered moral and legal persons because they are unique human life' - doesn't provide any reasons and 'unique human life' applies to trillions and trillions of cells that are not embryos.  Nor does it provide reasons for 1) Why 'human' 2) why 'life' 3) Why 'unique'.  If you want to go with 'cause my interpretation of the Bible says so' or 'That is what I believe' - fine.  But realize that isn't a rational basis that no one else should find interesting or compelling.

You've now shifted to 'human life that has a pattern of the embryo' - but again, that pattern is trivially inducable for nearly every cell.  There is no logical reason to give it a special position of 'personhood' where we (society) should seek to protect it as thing in and of itself.  There is no societal interest in declaring personhood at that point nor is there a compelling moral arguement.  There might be a societal or moral argument for protecting it as a property right, or body autonomy right but not under the framework of personhood.

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It is a similar area of discussion to natural law, and insofar as the pro-life side posits that this property exists whether you agree or not, we are talking about something that is essentially a fact of nature, not a convention come to by agreement.

It isn't a 'fact of nature' that embryos are persons.  Human embryos are human life, but there is nothing that suggests they are persons or should be thought of as persons, or treated as having the rights of personhood.  This is an extremely modern and novel idea - one created from whole cloth upon the discovery of the basic biology of fetal development.

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Now you can argue that there is no such thing as natural law, that biological beings are just a chemical soup and have no innate moral qualities beyond what we make up for ourselves using our intellects; and if this is your position then I recognize that there is an impasse in trying to describe the details of innate moral qualities if your argument's axiom is that there is no such thing as an innate moral quality.

So the axioms of 'natural law' can be different.  A womans control over her body will be to some a 'natural law'.  Not harming 'thinking beings' might be another axiom.  There are numerous potential axioms, but 'embryos are persons' doesn't seem a particularly 'natural' nor intuitive 'natural law' and it is one contrary to millennia of natural philosophy (of course that can change - such as our views on slavery) and to religious texts including the Bible.

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Maybe that sort of impasse can be surpassed scientifically in a million years or something, but for right now it's a question for philosophy, not science.

I think science gives some pretty strong evidence that embryos aren't particularly special.

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Am I right that this is the area of disagreement? Because I thought it was clear on my part that I was not talking about legal fictions (i.e. conventional agreements) but on the fact that the "personhood starts at conception" argument is rooted in the idea of personhood being a moral fact intrinsic to that type of life (i.e. human life), and is not conditional on it having passed certain developmental boundaries.

You are making it an axiom 'personhood is a moral fact intrinsic to human life' - even if I accept your axiom, then you again have to address why all human life doesn't have intrinsic personhood - cancer, shed body cells, tissue samples, etc.  Which you answered by 'well it has a unique pattern' - but that 'unique pattern' is trivial to generate from any cell.  Also it seems a bizarre axiom - there seems no compelling (nor non-compelling) reason for anyone to adopt it - not even Bible believers since the Bible directly contradicts it.

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You said in your quote "a legal definition conferring rights", but to anyone who believes in natural law (or religious law), there is no such thing as "conferring rights." Rights are a thing you already have innately by virtue of the type of being you are; no one can confer them upon you. We might say that the law recognizes those rights, but it cannot grant them or take them away. I suppose you might have meant that the developing human only actually acquires those rights after a cutoff point (i.e. it did not innately have them before, but now it does), and that the law recognizes this change of state.

You can use that formulation if you like.

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But then you'd have to have a clearly defined understanding of what that innate right is in order to see if the developmental stage you have in mind (in this case, having a brain) should be requisite for having that right.

Well a right to be protected by the state from destruction independent of a property right of another (ie 'paying a fine' to a husband whose wife suffers a miscarriage but 'no other mischief', as per the Bible) or a body autonomy right of another (ie prohibiting forced imbibing of an abortifacient as in the Biblical test for adultery, or other forms of forced abortion).  This would also include rights such as balancing the health risk to the mother versus the fetuses interests in being brought to term; or balancing a compelling state interest in excuting a felon who is pregnant.

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This would require a metaphysical argument of at least some kind, and could not be reduced merely to biology, since as of yet biology has nothing to say about which rights are innate to living (human) beings and which are not.

Rights are impossible to be innate.  They are either created by humans or by 'God' if you prefer.  They can be derived from game theoretic considerations; or reciprocity; or derived from considerations of how we respond empathically or via other instinctual emotions (fairness, outrage, etc.).

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Overall I should stress that I was not putting forward an argument that the personhood begins at conception idea is definitely right.

Didn't you just suggest that was an axiom of 'natural law'??

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All I said was that it is sensible on a common sense level. "It begins when the whole rigmarole starts" is fairly clear. It doesn't have the complication of requiring value judgements to be a clear statement.

You seem to be confusing 'common sense' versus 'clear'.  I agree it is quite clear and simplistic - but also completely contrary to sense.  It also requires an extraordinary value judgement that an embryo has rights that override the interests of the mother, society, etc.

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But again that doesn't mean there can't be other reasonable positions. I was mostly posting to say not that this must be the answer you have to recognize, but that at minimum it has the virtue of being based on a clear idea.

It is a reasonably clear idea, but that seems the only thing going for it.

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A lot of the other ideas don't seem to be based on clear reasoning to me at all, including the "personhood starts at brain development" idea, for reasons I mentioned in my first post on the subject.

Hmm you now appear to mix 'clear idea' with 'clear reasoning' - it doesn't appear to rest on any real 'reason' other than chronological.  As to personhood and brain development - a functioning brain is how we differentiate between collection of cells as property interest (brain death and organ donation) versus personhood interest (body autonomy and responsibility of protection by the state and/or guardian).  It is also the point at which the capacity for experience occurs, both positive and negative.  Killing a fetus prior to that point doesn't cause any harm that isn't in relation to the emotional investment of the person who is bearing the fetus (ie the mothers distress at a miscarriage), or hoping for the fetus to be carried to term (ie hopes and dreams of expectant family members or potential adoptees).  It is also quite natural and common for spontaneous abortion and miscarriage to occur prior to that point but quite rare for it to happen after.

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It is definitely legally tenable, maybe even convenient and practical, but if what we're talking about is providing an answer in a way that corresponds to the (forgive the term) moral fabric of the universe, then more is needed than it being practical. It has to also be right. And again, if there is no moral fabric to the universe then there is no moral problem: there are no morals other than those we invent.

Recognizing that morals are either created by humans (and possibly other beings such as God or aliens) I think is critical.  There seems to be no rational basis for thinking that they exist outside of an agreed upon framework or recognizing that groups of intelligent beings can find different arguements compelling for which ones should be adopted.

Recognizing that there is nothing 'natural' about choosing conception as a point where the state and society have compelling interests in protecting 'personhood rights' I think is rather crucial.  You can use rational argumentation, or emotional appeal (naturalness is actually an emotional appeal), or appeal to the authority of superior beings imposed will.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 03:15:33 AM by LetterRip »

Fenring

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #110 on: March 19, 2021, 03:43:05 PM »
The living human cells in the poop (probably a few thousand) are all 'human life'.  Human life is human life.  What makes it special isn't that it is human in origin, or that it is life, but that it has a brain.

I can't fathom why you keep referring to varying kinds of biological matter as "human life". You are just misusing words. "Life" is defined as a life form, a living thing. None of these are living things (other than, according to the argument, an embryo). I just don't know what you're getting at mangling language like this. Why not just say "these are all kinds of bio matter". It would be more clear, and have the virtue of being easy to understand.

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The pattern differences are trivial, in nearlly all cases, they can be taken and transformed into a person given the right environment.

This seems to be the centerpiece of your argument at the moment: that given certain genetic or biochemical manipulations, it could be possible to take non-gamete cells and create life out of them. Well let's grant that - in that case the life-begins-at-conception argument would have to include the inception of that new proto-life becoming viable after whatever artificial processes are done to it. By telling me that we can mechanically mess with nature to turn one thing into another doesn't mean they're all the same, it just means we may be capable, in Frankensteinian glory, to create that which was previously found in nature alone. Well ok, that's not saying much. Eventually we'll be able to take raw atomic matter and pile it together into any substance we want, perhaps including viable embryonic cells. That's fine, but it doesn't mean a thing about hydrogen and electrons being basically the same as an embryo in utero. Unless you just mean to say that anything made from any atomic material is basically all the same - atomic soup - in which case you are already bowing out of the argument because the pro-lifers would deny this as a first principle. If this is what you mean it would be more honest to just say you don't believe that fundamentally human life different from a pile of rocks, even though they are patterned differently. One can accept that premise, while disagreeing with it, and walk away. There's no need to act as if you're debating conclusions when in fact you're debating first principles. That is why a reductionist appeal to 'biology' is a waste of time in this case - one needs to look at philosophy.

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An embryo 'lacks the pattern' to develop into a person.  It requires specific inputs from the environment to do so.  If you place an embryo into a nutrient broth it can't develop into a person.

By this same argument you lack the pattern to conduct any of the processes that normally constitute the make-do definition of life used by biologists. You could nether locomote, nor reproduce, nor eat, nor even think without constant specific inputs from the environment. Your argument here is a reduction to absurdity. Listing the preconditions for development and survival as proof it can't do it by itself is simply redundant; we can't do anything by ourselves ever.

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If in the first place you define personhood as merely a legal fiction then we are definitely not talking about the same thing.

The legal meaning and moral meaning should be quite similar.

You keep making these sweeping moral pronouncements, like as if you had it handed to you from Mount Sinai. How can you possibly know this is true? I could see you positing an argument where you think it might be true, or you'd like to explore if it might be true; but since you cannot claim a concrete knowledge of the moral meaning - indeed, you essentially deny that such a thing exists - your ability to compare it to the state of law is effectively zero.

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You've now shifted to 'human life that has a pattern of the embryo'

It's starting to sound like you're just not listening, since I have very explicitly said that "human life" is a totally inappropriate way to call a cheek swab or cancer cell. So please avoid telling me that I've 'shifted to' a definition I literally said makes no sense. Regarding the use of the term "pattern" I used it in order to say that differentiating between different sorts of biological matter would have to be done based on how it's patterned. In fact this isn't my opinion, so to speak, but is in fact the essential foundation of how language is used. You literally need to have different classifications for things that are different, and these are based on pattern. A table is different from a bench not just because of how they're used, but how they're put together. And a wooden spoon is different from a table for multiple reasons involving its function and pattern, even though both are really made of the same material and in theory you could make a spoon out of the table. If you want to start saying that spoons and tables are morally the same that's fine, but I have no idea why you'd reject the idea that the 'pattern' of a thing is what we need to look at to examine what it is. The basic atomic components are clearly not enough.

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It is a similar area of discussion to natural law, and insofar as the pro-life side posits that this property exists whether you agree or not, we are talking about something that is essentially a fact of nature, not a convention come to by agreement.

It isn't a 'fact of nature' that embryos are persons.

I'm not telling you that it's a fact of nature, I'm telling you that the argument of the pro-life side is that it's a fact of nature. Now it either is or is not a fact of nature, but I can assure you with 100% confidence that you do not know whether it is a fact of nature or not. We don't have the means to empirically verify that kind of thing, if we ever will.

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So the axioms of 'natural law' can be different.  A womans control over her body will be to some a 'natural law'.  Not harming 'thinking beings' might be another axiom.  There are numerous potential axioms, but 'embryos are persons' doesn't seem a particularly 'natural' nor intuitive 'natural law' and it is one contrary to millennia of natural philosophy (of course that can change - such as our views on slavery) and to religious texts including the Bible.

No, that doesn't sound right. If one (anyone) believes in natural law then what they are submitting is that there is an innate system in place that exists whether or not they are aware of it or agree with it. You are right that people could potentially disagree about what the facts are in regard to natural law, but you are wrong that one person's opinion could be as good as another's. All that would mean is that some people are correct and others are incorrect. Insofar as we are prone to error, though, I agree that people could be mistaken about what is contained in natural law. Aquinas, for instance, could be totally wrong and it could contain other things than what he thought. But if there is natural law then there is one set of correct facts about it, and no others, and the moral realists would seek to know what these rules are and how to accord themselves to them. But since I suspect you do not believe in natural law the point is moot, right? You don't think there are innate moral rules to which we must accord ourselves once we discover them. So why go on about there being many potential versions of natural law?

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I think science gives some pretty strong evidence that embryos aren't particularly special.

I have personally never heard anyone make this claim. I have heard scientists say things that could be done biologically, and I've heard numerous arguments about how (obviously) aborting an embryo is no big deal. But I've never heard anyone say they're 'nothing special.' I don't even know what such a value judgement could have to do with science. It would be like saying "science says that stars are nothing special." Really, in whose opinion? Astrophysics probably think stars are totally amazing, even though there are maybe trillions of them in the universe. What on earth is "special" supposed to mean anyhow? I think you need to be careful about making value judgements and calling them "science." That's just an appeal to a false authority.

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Rights are impossible to be innate.  They are either created by humans or by 'God' if you prefer.  They can be derived from game theoretic considerations; or reciprocity; or derived from considerations of how we respond empathically or via other instinctual emotions (fairness, outrage, etc.).

You just need to know that you are like 100 years out of date in this opinion. Plenty of non-theists talk about moral realism, and there is no need to talk about God to talk about where morality is a "real thing" that exists outside of our own opinions. Options do include God, obviously, and human convention, but there are many other possibilities as well. Saying that it is "impossible" that such rights are innate is taking an unsupported position in moral theory and pronouncing it as an obvious fact. Are you aware of how sweeping and dismissive a comment this is? And just how much study would be required for you to say it and know what was needed in order to back it up? And let me tell you, *a lot* would be needed to back it up. For argument's sake, let's just assume you've done those years of work, study, and writing and that you really do have this as your working theory of moral philosophy: is it even decent to drop such a line without indicating that it's no small thing and that you've labored for 20 years to come to this realization?

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Overall I should stress that I was not putting forward an argument that the personhood begins at conception idea is definitely right.

Didn't you just suggest that was an axiom of 'natural law'??

No, I didn't. I said that innate morality is akin to natural law in that both are about existential facts that are true regardless of whether anyone agrees with them. I did not say that the personhood-at-conception position was a necessary component of natural law; in fact I didn't even say that the pro-life position itself is a necessary component of natural law. What I said was that natural law is about what is, not about what we agree upon; and likewise with the personhood argument. Now probably there would be a strong alignment between people who believe in personhood at conception, and those who believe in natural law, but I don't know that this alignment is necessary. Also it's worth noting that probably far fewer people know of natural law on a conceptual level, compared to those who know of the personhood at conception idea, so at minimum if you took a poll there would probably be a significant disparity of people who claim to believe each on a conscious level.

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Recognizing that morals are either created by humans (and possibly other beings such as God or aliens) I think is critical.  There seems to be no rational basis for thinking that they exist outside of an agreed upon framework or recognizing that groups of intelligent beings can find different arguements compelling for which ones should be adopted.

See, I know this is your position, which is fair, but what keeps making me do double takes is how confident you can be that you're right. I mean, you do know that people (really, really REALLY smart people) spend their whole careers investigating these matters, and would never - for fear of being laughed out of their profession - make the kind of certain assertion that you're doing here by saying there is no rational basis for it. Let's take a historic figure as an example of what it would take to investigate whether there's a rational basis for it. Take Socrates, whose program of talking to as many people possible about the important things was a program of investigation into not only peoples' beliefs, but whether they really believed what they said they did, and whether there was something deeper down below it that was really behind their actions. To ask whether there's a common morality beyond the mores of the marketplace requires finding some way to determine whether there are moral structures in place that are common to people even when they are not aware of them. This was his method, and of course he did not come to a solution or endpoint. His repeated mantra was that he knew nothing, because what he did know was how feeble and often contradictory peoples' stated beliefs were. So he needed to see if they had unstated beliefs (even those outside of one's conscious awareness) that really had an impact on their worldview. And aside from the fact that his method has been hailed for all time as being wise, there is the fact that it's not entirely clear how else one would go about it. Doing brain scans while interviewing people might be the modern equivalent, but the biology alone is not enough: the study must be coupled with perception of the living process. And this is no small matter - indeed we are still practically nowhere with it on an empirical level. So I cannot see how you are so confident that you just have the answers to it all.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 03:48:13 PM by Fenring »

TheDrake

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #111 on: March 19, 2021, 04:57:44 PM »
And the people, accepting that they know nothing, stopped trying to decide for everyone else, yes?

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #112 on: March 19, 2021, 05:20:22 PM »
When a body forms, if it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the animating principle and the thing that makes the body "one thing".  It is the principle of unity and animation. It is also the principle of specification. It is the thing that lets you and I share in "humanity" while being at the same time  specifically be "Josh" or "NobleHunter". 

We can imagine the body of a living person forming in all sorts of ways. However they form, once they form, they are paired with a soul. The soul is the thing which makes them alive, makes them one, and makes them a specific one.

I still think identical twins are a problem for your argument because something that was one becomes two supposedly after it gains a soul. I could also take issue with how the word body is being used or how it feels like there's a teleological subtext which violates causality. At the end of the day though, my problem is you declaring with absolute certainty that Reason says when a soul happens and when a human person comes into being. A great many people, wiser than anyone here, have disagreed most strenuously on the topic.

That is what happens all the time when people are conceived. I don't know why it's problematic for you.  When there is a living body, it has a soul. The soul is that which makes the body alive and which makes it "one body". It is the animating and unifying principle. 

I don't say it with "absolute certainty". That is not the bar of reason.  I said it is true. You believe lots of things to be true that you can't know with "absolute certainty".  For example, your birth-date or some historical fact, or some claim of science. You have a reasonable level of certainty, and that is enough, because that's all we can ever have.

In an attempt to keep this thread on a single track: certainly we agree that we can't murder half of the children under the age of three to address your concerns about overpopulation, right? Whether or not we are facing over-population, a solution can't be murder. The evil of murder supersedes any concerns you have overpopulation. I think you'll agree that we can never do murder in order to solve that problem you believe in. If it is a problem, then we'll have to solve it through some other means, right? 

Technically, if population levels reach a truly unsustainable state and a "natural" malthusian collapse would drop the number of people below the levels required to sustain civilization, murder would be the solution. It's the same reason we cull species with limited habitats. Species might survive booms and crashes in normal circumstances but if they're already on the edge due to human interference, letting their population explode and destroy their food source could wipe them out entirely.

No. Not at all. Not "technically". Not "practically". Not anything. Murdering children in the name of some greater idea you imagine to be a "greater good" is always evil.


But I'm really commenting on this because I find the appeal to justice also works for the idea that the soul arrives at conception. Given the failure rate of natural pregnancy, where conception occurs but not implantation or any number of other factors result in early miscarriage, I find it entirely unreasonable to say that this is the loss of a human life. It's absurd. It makes getting pregnant so high risk that it would utterly debase the worth of a human life. How valuable can a life be if we can't even say how many are lost before we know they exist? I think human life is worth more than that and so life can't begin at conception.

Why is it unreasonable? Why it is offensive to Justice? (Do you even believe in Justice having some objective meaning, like I do?)  Why is it absurd? 

People die. that does not "debase the worth of human life." They die after conception, they die during birth, they die as infants and as children and as teenagers and as adults.  They die in freak accidents and by the hands of evil men. They die for noble reasons and for ignoble reasons. We die. That is our nature. Nothing about that fact has any bearing whatsoever on the truth that a child is a child at the moment of conception.

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #113 on: March 19, 2021, 05:40:40 PM »
I can't fathom why you keep referring to varying kinds of biological matter as "human life". You are just misusing words.

If it is alive, it is life by definition.

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"Life" is defined as a life form, a living thing.

No, a 'life form' is different from 'life'.  Cells that are living are 'living things'.

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None of these are living things (other than, according to the argument, an embryo). I just don't know what you're getting at mangling language like this. Why not just say "these are all kinds of bio matter". It would be more clear, and have the virtue of being easy to understand,

Because they are life.  Dead stuff is also 'bio matter'.  From any of these living cells (with possibly the exception of cancer) we can create fully viable beings.

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The pattern differences are trivial, in nearlly all cases, they can be taken and transformed into a person given the right environment.

This seems to be the centerpiece of your argument at the moment: that given certain genetic or biochemical manipulations, it could be possible to take non-gamete cells and create life out of them. Well let's grant that - in that case the life-begins-at-conception argument would have to include the inception of that new proto-life becoming viable after whatever artificial processes are done to it. By telling me that we can mechanically mess with nature to turn one thing into another doesn't mean they're all the same, it just means we may be capable, in Frankensteinian glory, to create that which was previously found in nature alone.

Ridiculing or disparaging the technology doesn't make it any less morally equivalent.

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Well ok, that's not saying much. Eventually we'll be able to take raw atomic matter and pile it together into any substance we want, perhaps including viable embryonic cells. That's fine, but it doesn't mean a thing about hydrogen and electrons being basically the same as an embryo in utero.

So the problem is that you haven't articulated an argument for why embryos should be privileged above any other living cells that we can create a being from.  I'm perfectly ok with not privileging any of these cells above their elemental constituents.  I don't claim that hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, etc. have personhood either.

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Unless you just mean to say that anything made from any atomic material is basically all the same - atomic soup - in which case you are already bowing out of the argument because the pro-lifers would deny this as a first principle.

You were the one who claimed 'unique human life' was the original criteria - once I pointed out the absurdity, you switched to 'plus pattern' - I'm pointing out that the pattern is a trivial difference, why should the 'pattern' matter.  I can make a strong case why a brain matters, I've yet to see any argument for your 'pattern' claim except that you want embryos to be persons, but don't want all human cells to be persons - which is just a "this is what I want" expression of preference not an argument.

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If this is what you mean it would be more honest to just say you don't believe that fundamentally human life different from a pile of rocks, even though they are patterned differently.

Life is fundamentally different from other matter.  But simple human life - such as cancer, clumps of shed cells, tissue samples, and embryos aren't something that should be particularly privileged amongst each other.  Ie there is no reason to grant personhood on an embryo that doesn't also apply to all other cells.  Also simple human life shouldn't be privileged over life from any other source - bacteria, tissue samples or shed cells from other animals, other animal embryos, etc.  All should have no moral implication for their destruction.  If you grant 'personhood' to an embryo - then we should grant it to all living cells.

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One can accept that premise, while disagreeing with it, and walk away. There's no need to act as if you're debating conclusions when in fact you're debating first principles. That is why a reductionist appeal to 'biology' is a waste of time in this case - one needs to look at philosophy.

You want to ignore biology because it doesn't support your preferred conclusion.

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By this same argument you lack the pattern to conduct any of the processes that normally constitute the make-do definition of life used by biologists. You could nether locomote, nor reproduce, nor eat, nor even think without constant specific inputs from the environment.

An embryo needs signaling molecules from the host enviornment to develop to a fetus.  Ie signals produced by cells (or synthetic analogs).  This is utterly different from availability of resources that a being is evolved to live in.

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Your argument here is a reduction to absurdity. Listing the preconditions for development and survival as proof it can't do it by itself is simply redundant; we can't do anything by ourselves ever.

No, I just destroyed your arguement that an embryo 'left to itself' will develop into a being.  Development of an embryo to a being requires extremely specific signals produced by a being (again or a synthetic analog).  It is only the hosts response to the embryo that allows it to develop into a being.

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The legal meaning and moral meaning should be quite similar.

You keep making these sweeping moral pronouncements, like as if you had it handed to you from Mount Sinai.[/quote]

I wasn't making a pronoucement, I was stating a preference - we should seek to bring legal definitions to be consistent with moral if reasonably feasible.  If you can convince me that my 'pro-brain' stance is 'immoral' then I would be willing  accept changes to the law that reflect my changed view on the morality.

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It's starting to sound like you're just not listening, since I have very explicitly said that "human life" is a totally inappropriate way to call a cheek swab or cancer cell.

Well, science says your wrong.  You don't get to misuse a word.  Human cells, including cancer cells that are alive (ie continue to carry out biological processes) are alive and thus life.  Your desire that they not be life is rather irrelevant. 

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So please avoid telling me that I've 'shifted to' a definition I literally said makes no sense. Regarding the use of the term "pattern" I used it in order to say that differentiating between different sorts of biological matter would have to be done based on how it's patterned. In fact this isn't my opinion, so to speak, but is in fact the essential foundation of how language is used. You literally need to have different classifications for things that are different, and these are based on pattern. A table is different from a bench not just because of how they're used, but how they're put together. And a wooden spoon is different from a table for multiple reasons involving its function and pattern, even though both are really made of the same material and in theory you could make a spoon out of the table. If you want to start saying that spoons and tables are morally the same that's fine, but I have no idea why you'd reject the idea that the 'pattern' of a thing is what we need to look at to examine what it is. The basic atomic components are clearly not enough.

Most living cells (with exceptions such as red blood cells) are trivially different in their 'pattern' - differening only in a modest number of DNA methylations and can be switched to entirely different cell 'types' by simple manipulation of those methylations.

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I'm not telling you that it's a fact of nature, I'm telling you that the argument of the pro-life side is that it's a fact of nature.

It isn't an argument, it is an assertion.  An assertion unsupported by the facts of biology.

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Now it either is or is not a fact of nature, but I can assure you with 100% confidence that you do not know whether it is a fact of nature or not. We don't have the means to empirically verify that kind of thing, if we ever will.

A 'fact of nature' would have some sort of basis for claiming such.  'My interpretation of religious doctrine', or 'my personal feeling' isn't a basis.  A fact of nature is something observable - ie science.  There is no way to observe an abstraction.  You can state it is a 'law of God' but not a 'fact of nature'.

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So the axioms of 'natural law' can be different.  A womans control over her body will be to some a 'natural law'.  Not harming 'thinking beings' might be another axiom.  There are numerous potential axioms, but 'embryos are persons' doesn't seem a particularly 'natural' nor intuitive 'natural law' and it is one contrary to millennia of natural philosophy (of course that can change - such as our views on slavery) and to religious texts including the Bible.

No, that doesn't sound right. If one (anyone) believes in natural law then what they are submitting is that there is an innate system in place that exists whether or not they are aware of it or agree with it.

Natural law is either something factual, in which case scientific observation.  Or philosophical (or religious) - in which case based on axioms.  If it is the first, then there is no basis for an abstract concept like personhood.  If the latter, then the axioms can be freely chosen - but we can debate the reasonableness of choosing particular axioms or why we have chosen them, or if there are better more fundamental axioms to choose.

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You are right that people could potentially disagree about what the facts are in regard to natural law, but you are wrong that one person's opinion could be as good as another's.

Some axioms may be more dubious than others.  It is perfectly reasonable to disagree about choices of axioms and explain why you think a particular axiom is a poor choice.  Psychopaths for instance will typically reject any axiom that is related to empathy.  Religious individuals might take axioms that derive from their interpretation of their faith.

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All that would mean is that some people are correct and others are incorrect.

You can only prove in philosophy that a conclusion is inconsistent with its axioms, or that certain axioms are mutually inconsistent, or similarly that accepting particular axioms requires rejecting other axioms.  If you require your philosophy be related to reality, you can show that an axiom or conclusion of an axiom contradicts science.  If two different philosophys are both self consistent with their chosen axioms, and the axioms aren't contradicted by reality - they can both 'be right'.  So it could be immoral for some Christians to have an abortion, and completely moral for other Christians to do so, immoral for some atheists and completely moral for others due to differences in philosophical axioms.

There will be some axioms that are quite common due to their being rooted in our social instincts.  Some might claim that these axioms are a 'natural law'.

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Insofar as we are prone to error, though, I agree that people could be mistaken about what is contained in natural law. Aquinas, for instance, could be totally wrong and it could contain other things than what he thought. But if there is natural law then there is one set of correct facts about it, and no others, and the moral realists would seek to know what these rules are and how to accord themselves to them. But since I suspect you do not believe in natural law the point is moot, right? You don't think there are innate moral rules to which we must accord ourselves once we discover them. So why go on about there being many potential versions of natural law?

See above, scientifically there is no 'natural law' related to personhood.  Philosophically it is dependent on choice of axioms.

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You just need to know that you are like 100 years out of date in this opinion. Plenty of non-theists talk about moral realism, and there is no need to talk about God to talk about where morality is a "real thing" that exists outside of our own opinions.

Just because people 'talk about something' doesn't make a it a reality.  Trying to influence society via philosophical discussion doesn't mean that the axioms are rooted in some underlying reality.

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See, I know this is your position, which is fair, but what keeps making me do double takes is how confident you can be that you're right. I mean, you do know that people (really, really REALLY smart people) spend their whole careers investigating these matters, and would never - for fear of being laughed out of their profession - make the kind of certain assertion that you're doing here by saying there is no rational basis for it.

Pretty much anyone with a career in philosophy is aware that their arguments are rooted in axioms, and that the choice of axioms is unconstrained except that they musn't contradict each other and that they shouldn't contradict scientific observation.  This is not something in the least controversial.  They might forcefully claim that society should universally should adopt their axioms, but they are under no delusions (with the exception of some religious philosophers) that they are somehow reflecting some underlying reality.

Okay, that is enough for now.

NobleHunter

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #114 on: March 19, 2021, 05:43:06 PM »
My belief in capital J justice depends on my mood.

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People die. that does not "debase the worth of human life." They die after conception, they die during birth, they die as infants and as children and as teenagers and as adults.  They die in freak accidents and by the hands of evil men. They die for noble reasons and for ignoble reasons. We die. That is our nature. Nothing about that fact has any bearing whatsoever on the truth that a child is a child at the moment of conception.

How can human life be worth anything if a quarter of all people die unremarked and unnoticed even by the people who created them? If the death of a mosquito gathers more attention than the death of a child? That so much death is irretrievably meaningless that it would make no difference to anything if the person had never lived at all?

I don't see how you can argue the value of a life of a child and then blithely accept that 1 in 4 die. I specifically don't value my pots very much because some of them will break or fail and I don't usually lose a quarter of them.

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #115 on: March 19, 2021, 05:48:21 PM »
I don't say it with "absolute certainty". That is not the bar of reason.  I said it is true. You believe lots of things to be true that you can't know with "absolute certainty".  For example, your birth-date or some historical fact, or some claim of science. You have a reasonable level of certainty, and that is enough, because that's all we can ever have.

Ok, so this is something you are treating as 'axiomatically' true.  Which is fine, but just realize there is no support for your axiom, and any argument you base on that axiom is one that should be rejected by anyone that doesn't accept that as an axiom.  It simply has no way to convince other people.  If you want others to change their minds, you need to start from shared axioms, and then show why the axioms held by other people would lead to them being consistent with the conclusion you draw from using the unshared axioms.  Your unshared axiom might lead to a universal truth, but if you don't arrive at that universal truth using a shared axiom, then you won't convince other people.  (This happens in mathematics regularly - a mathematician uses a dubious axiom, arrives at a result, later someone shows the same result but using sounder axioms.)

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #116 on: March 19, 2021, 06:14:13 PM »
When a body forms, if it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the animating principle and the thing that makes the body "one thing".  It is the principle of unity and animation. It is also the principle of specification. It is the thing that lets you and I share in "humanity" while being at the same time  specifically be "Josh" or "NobleHunter". 

We can imagine the body of a living person forming in all sorts of ways. However they form, once they form, they are paired with a soul. The soul is the thing which makes them alive, makes them one, and makes them a specific one.

So do bacteria have souls? Insects? Fish? Reptiles? Mammals? Primates? Or just humans?

Yes. And plants. All living things have souls. If it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the thing that makes it alive.  They have different sort of souls (because they are different sorts of beings), but yes, they have souls.

The biological processes of life are 'just chemistry' - so how is the soul interacting with chemistry?  Are bacteria alive yet soulless?  What is the soul doing?

My partner is doctor of chemistry. She says "There is a lot of chemistry to it, yes, but what changes a simple collection of chemical processes into life? We don't know. It is as good as magic."

The soul is providing animation and unity to the matter. Matter is potentiality and soul is actuality. According to Aristotle, the Soul is the thing that makes us to be, makes us to be one, and to be one of a kind.  Aquinas disagrees with Aristotle on the first point. He does not think it is the nature of the soul to be and instead distinguishes between the essence (i.e. form) and the "esse" (i.e. being). Instead, he believes existence is something we don't have essentially, but rather by participation.

The soul is the underlying cause of the powers of living beings, such as the nutritive, augmentative, generative, and in the case of animals, perception and movement, and in the case of rational beings, knowledge of universals and reason. 


I can understand Aristotle believing in a soul - the concepts for chemistry and physics didn't exist, nor did astronomy, or any other science.  So a line of reason completely ignorant of science isn't his fault.

You don't understand what metaphysics is.  It is orthogonal and complementary to the study of physics (i.e. science).  It is the study of being as being.  Aristotle's physics was certainly less developed and less true than our own.  His metaphysics too, had some flaws. On the whole, though, his metaphysics surpasses that of some thinkers who followed him, whose ideas happen to have ascendancy today, such as Descartes (who restrict us to the theater of the mind), Hume (who neuters us to an extreme skepticism concluding in unmitigated despair and blindness).

You were born into that lineage of philosophers and you therefore have a strong bias towards their views. Of course you do; of course we all do. These ideas happen to be wrong, though, and in their wrongness they make us all less wise and less able to comprehend reality.  It has resulted in a general superstitious fear and misunderstanding of metaphysics. We see it here in this thread in so many ways.

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However, now we have science showing that cells are at root just chemistry.  That neurons are just another cell, and that we can accomplish many of the tasks of brains (creative writing, language translation, object identification, novel image generation, navigation, planning, game playing) with artificial neurons that imitate the core behaviors of neurons and that learn (and generate novel output) statistically.

We currently have clever machines written by people that can emulate the powers of the human mind. We have nothing even close to resembling hard-AI.  If we did, then maybe that hard-AI would be new life. But the fact that we have made some really clever tools is no sort of evidence that we are simply machines.

In the end, materialism is an incoherent philosophy. It doesn't work.

Quote from: LetterRip
We also have evidence that capacities we once thought exclusively human (reasoning and planning; communication; various emotions such as love, empathy, anger, sadness, depression, joy; tool use; cultural transmission; superstition) appear to be widespread in the animal kingdom (corvids, primates, cuttlefish and octopus, dolphins and whales, dogs and cats, elephants, racoons, grey parrots, pigs, squirrels, etc.) using similar brain structures.  The major difference is that humans have a greater capacity for abstraction and more complex communication, longer term planning, and more complex tool use.  Basically many animals are about as mentally sophisticated as a typical two year old.

Yes, animals are really cool. Yes, the higher functions of the mind take time to develop in children. No, this in no way disagrees with the metaphysics I am describing.

Quote from: LetterRip
Also we now know that all aspects or personality and reasoning can be altered with manipulation of neurons - either chemically (medication, drugs), mechanically (destruction of neurons in particular locations, or physical blocking of receptors, concussion and disruption of the blood brain barrier), genetically (creating 'knock out' mice that halve altered receptors, neurotransmitters, etc.), infectively, via cancer growth, or electrically (inducing electric fields in particular parts of the brain).  The concept of soul was meant to account for personality and reason, but we have proof that it is the brain that does these.

No. The power of sight originates in the soul. The eye is the organ through which that power operates.  If we damage or destroy the eye, we do not destroy that power, but we do prevent it from operating. Similarly, the physical brain is an organ through which the power of reason operates. If we damage the brain, we can damage our ability to reason, but it does not remove that power from our nature.

Quote from: LetterRip
A person with a 'black soul' - psychopaths - have defective oxytocin receptors, a genetic disorder that makes them incapable of empathy, love, loyalty, as well as diminished capacities for fear, anxiety, and disgust.

I appreciate that you quoted the thing you made up, because 'black soul' is just something you made up. It has nothing to do with anything I've said here.

Yes, our bodies can be broken, and when our bodies are broken, that can influence our will and harm our ability to express the powers of the soul. That doesn't undermine or disagree with the view I am presenting here.


JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #117 on: March 19, 2021, 06:17:19 PM »
Also we can now bypass creating fetuses, and directly produce pluripotent stem cells, then use those cells to create a brain (currently 'brain organoids - which are basically small clusters of neurons).

Do the organoids have a soul?  Are they 'people'?  If we grow a complete brain rather than an organoid - does it have a soul and is it a person?

If they are living, then they have souls. This isn't a problem for the idea I'm telling you. Humans have the power to beget and maybe even create other living beings. It's a really cool thing we can do.

I don't know anything about "organoids" or their specific properties. If they have the nature of rationality and the ability to comprehend universals and will, then they are people.  If they don't, then perhaps they are sensitive or vegetative by nature. They are one of these things, and I don't happen to know which because I haven't studied them at all.

 

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #118 on: March 19, 2021, 06:22:46 PM »
You are using religious language 'soul' to make a Biological argument.

As I have said what feels like a dozen times in this thread, I am not making a religious claim. Aristotle was not a Christian. He was not a Jew. He was not a Muslim. He was not a Buddhist. He was not a Jainist. He was not a Hindu. He was a philosopher.

I am not referencing any holy scriptures. I am not relying on revelation. My words, whether they be true or false, are not in the realm of theology. I am talking about metaphysics. A long-standing philosophical tradition which, due to our age's superstitious fear and bias, we have stopped teaching our children.

It is an ignorant claim to call anything outside of the realm of science "religion".

'Soul' cant be measured objectively as the language of science requires.  The word soul has no scientific meaning.

Yes, this is correct. By the nature of science -- because it studies the physical world -- it does not know anything about metaphysics.  As I mentioned already, just like Math knows nothing about atoms, Science knows nothing about souls.  Math and Science and Metaphysics are all unified, mutually-supportive, and non-contradictory, but you are indoctrinated in the superstitions of our age, which cause us to believe that anything in the realm of Metaphysics is arbitrary, made-up, scriptural-based, or subjective. It is none of these things.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #119 on: March 19, 2021, 06:28:24 PM »
I don't say it with "absolute certainty". That is not the bar of reason.  I said it is true. You believe lots of things to be true that you can't know with "absolute certainty".  For example, your birth-date or some historical fact, or some claim of science. You have a reasonable level of certainty, and that is enough, because that's all we can ever have.

Ok, so this is something you are treating as 'axiomatically' true.

No. It is the conclusion of reason, not the starting point.

Which is fine, but just realize there is no support for your axiom, and any argument you base on that axiom is one that should be rejected by anyone that doesn't accept that as an axiom.  It simply has no way to convince other people.

No. I did not believe these things. I thought about them, I read philosophers, and I talked with friends.  As a result of that reasoning process, and relying on my experiences, I came to believe these things are true.

If you want others to change their minds, you need to start from shared axioms, and then show why the axioms held by other people would lead to them being consistent with the conclusion you draw from using the unshared axioms.

If your axiom is that the world is only material and science is the only crucible of truth, I cannot use that as a basis to show you that there is value in metaphysics and there is more to this world than material. I can show you that there are things that you experience which are unapproachable by that system of thought -- such as free will and morality -- but that won't necessarily shake you from your false beliefs.  There are plenty of smart hard-determinists out there.  They are wrong, but I cannot break them out of their false views by working only within our common axiomatic base. It doesn't work.

Try convincing someone who only believes in mathematics that there is a physical world, only using the axioms of mathematics and not making an appeal to his direct experiences of the physical world. You can't do it.

In the same way, I cannot convince a materialist that there is reality beyond material, using only the axioms of materialism.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #120 on: March 19, 2021, 06:32:52 PM »
My belief in capital J justice depends on my mood.

If your philosophy regarding the fundamental question of whether there is any meaning to saying "it is wrong to kill" isn't more well thought out than being "dependent on a mood", I have no idea how you talk about anything regarding politics or morality and imagine that what you say has any real meaning at all.  At the end of it, if you don't believe in some universal truth, all you can be saying is "that offends my senses, and I hope that you decide to care about that." which is saying almost nothing at all.

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People die. that does not "debase the worth of human life." They die after conception, they die during birth, they die as infants and as children and as teenagers and as adults.  They die in freak accidents and by the hands of evil men. They die for noble reasons and for ignoble reasons. We die. That is our nature. Nothing about that fact has any bearing whatsoever on the truth that a child is a child at the moment of conception.

How can human life be worth anything if a quarter of all people die unremarked and unnoticed even by the people who created them? If the death of a mosquito gathers more attention than the death of a child?

I don't think the value of human life resides in others remarking on us and noticing us. I think our value is intrinsic.

That so much death is irretrievably meaningless that it would make no difference to anything if the person had never lived at all?

Talk to a mother who lost a child to miscarriage. Your understanding of the reality is false.

I don't see how you can argue the value of a life of a child and then blithely accept that 1 in 4 die. I specifically don't value my pots very much because some of them will break or fail and I don't usually lose a quarter of them.

We all die. What are you talking about?



NobleHunter

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #121 on: March 19, 2021, 06:49:21 PM »
If a mother knows she has a child, then the miscarriage is relatively late compared to most miscarriages. Your understanding of reality is at fault.

How can something have intrinsic value if its existence is meaningless and irrelevant?

ETA: My last paragraph is about children specifically.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 06:51:38 PM by NobleHunter »

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #122 on: March 19, 2021, 07:34:32 PM »

No. It is the conclusion of reason, not the starting point.

Ah, well you stated it in such a way to be axiomatic.  You haven't actually provided any reasons.

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If your axiom is that the world is only material and science is the only crucible of truth, I cannot use that as a basis to show you that there is value in metaphysics and there is more to this world than material.

Yes, I pointed out above, that all conclusions can't be reached from different sets of axioms.

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I can show you that there are things that you experience which are unapproachable by that system of thought -- such as free will and morality -- but that won't necessarily shake you from your false beliefs.

Actually morality, and free will are completely compatible with science, we can see the evolutionary history of morality, why it would evolve etc.  Similarly free will (or the belief of free will) isn't at all problematic.  I'm fully cognizant that my empathy, which is the primary basis for morality is based on my oxytocin system and that mutations of that system results in psychopaths who completely lack conventional morality.  I'm aware of the oxytocin reward systems role in evolutionary history for social and non social emotions, as well as for other physiological processes.

Free will may be quasi-deterministic - I may not have any choices in what I do, only the illusion of such.  I'm aware that much of what I view as 'me' is actually a narrative I've created (confabulated) for explanations of my instinctual behaviors that I have little or no conscious control over and that the explanations of my behavior I've created as a narrative to myself - quite frequently are at odds with the actual reason as can be determined by objective observation of stimuluses and my responses to them.

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There are plenty of smart hard-determinists out there.  They are wrong, but I cannot break them out of their false views by working only within our common axiomatic base. It doesn't work.

Well it might also be that
1) that in fact their views aren't false or
2) that their views are false and can arrive at the correct conlcusions through use of their axioms but you lack the skill to do so

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Try convincing someone who only believes in mathematics that there is a physical world, only using the axioms of mathematics and not making an appeal to his direct experiences of the physical world. You can't do it.

You might well be able to.  That said, it is irrelevant.  You don't have to necessarily start with their axioms.  Simply propose axioms, explain why they are rational, and then show why those axioms result in your conclusion.

So far you haven't proposed axioms, nor proposed why they might be reasonable, nor suggested how one might arrive at your conclusions given those axioms.

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In the same way, I cannot convince a materialist that there is reality beyond material, using only the axioms of materialism.

Sure you might be able to, if you show those axioms inherently lead to a contradiction.  Or prove that there are things that are true independent of those axioms and therefore that their axioms are incomplete.

Fenring

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #123 on: March 19, 2021, 08:22:49 PM »
LR, I won't go in more circles with you, as I think we've both given it a good go and probably we can agree to disagree at least on which axioms sound reasonable and which don't. But there is a matter in which you seem to be been repeatedly confused no matter how many times I tried to set you straight, which is that you kept saying I was saying that X is true (about personhood at conception), while I was never making a positive argument that it is true. I was simply pointing to what that argument is, and I do believe you have errors in your basic understanding of how that position is rooted. But nevertheless I never made any positive assertion to the effect that it is true, only that I think it is an example of a common sense proposition. I'm not sure why you kept insisting that I was failing to prove my point and was resorting to opinion or faith or whatever. You were the one all along making an incredibly strong assertion - namely that there is no rational way it can make sense (and afterward you added additionally, that it is impossible that things have intrinsic meaning; and additionally that morality can only come from ourselves or from God; perhaps a couple of other strong positive assertions). The only positive assertion I made in the thread at all is that I thought the arguments being put forward against the personhood-at-conception argument were poor. I took no other position whatever, and the rest of my time was spent trying to explicate the position everyone was arguing against (that I believe in turn JoshuaD has been championing). So if you'll review our conversation - perhaps you'll quickly skim it at least to verify what I'm saying is in good faith - I think you'll find that I was in the business only of keeping definitions and points of logic in order. I did not ever state that personhood definitely begins at conception, and in fact I went out of my way to say that there could be other possible good explanations of where personhood begins (if it exists at all other than as a legal fiction). Most of the problems you had with my posts I feel have mainly to do with you asserting an alternate set of axioms while directly replying to points without, shall we say, announcing a change of venue. I am quite happy for you to believe in a separate set of axioms, but it's not conducive to constructive dialogue if you simultaneously reject the axioms of your interlocutor while injecting those of your own, but without saying so, while discussing what is supposed to be an agreed upon term. The result is linguistic chaos.

As an aside, I would be tempted to offer you a side bet that if we went to 10 biologists and asked them if they would call cancer cells and cheek swabs (and poop!) "human life" that they would either just give you a funny look, say no, or else ask what you mean by that. I would be deeply surprised if any of them replied yes without qualification. I have what is for now merely a suspicion that you are using those terms in an irregular way.

For all the rest, I defer to JoshuaD's current line about the different areas of knowledge (math, metaphysics, science, etc). The idea of reducing all real knowledge to the empirical and formally logical is something going back to the early 20th century, known as logical positivism, wherein "[t]his theory of knowledge asserted that only statements verifiable through direct observation or logical proof are meaningful in terms of conveying truth value, information or factual content.". In philosophy circles this became essentially invalidated a long time ago and rejected as being unworkable and essentially useless. To quote the Wiki article on it:

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The 1962 publication of Thomas Kuhn's landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, dramatically shifted academic philosophy's focus. In 1967 philosopher John Passmore pronounced logical positivism "dead, or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes".

There has been a resurgence in maybe the last 10-20 years in something like this, mainly as a reactionary movement to religious argumentation, but philosophically speaking it's simply kaput and cannot be taken seriously. You did not yourself name this movement, obviously, but it seems to encapsulate the type of argument you're making, namely that unless science can demonstrate it it's not rational. No serious philosopher of science these days would ever make that claim.

I'm not trying to go all personal on you, I was just hoping we could come to see eye to eye on what we're talking about. I wasn't trying to convince you of the veracity of the personhood-at-conception idea, but just to get us speaking using common terms. I was quite sensitive during our exchanges that the probability that we were using the word "personhood" in the same sense was negligible. That's one of the things I was trying to address, and it's an analytical point, not an empirical one. Even though I find your idea that embryos are "nothing special" to be a value judgement par excellence, it's ok to have a value judgement. But we can't be speaking the same language if value judgements are being used as landmarks of scientific understanding. I may detect a bit of Sam Harris in some of your replies, and as such he would argue that science can in fact give us value judgements, but if this is where you were coming from I would remind you that this is a radical idea in the philosophy of science, and one which is certainly not accepted as some kind of standard notion. It's ok to employ radical notions, but just remember that asserting them as fact is not going to produce a comprehensible conversation.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 08:27:07 PM by Fenring »

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #124 on: March 19, 2021, 08:56:39 PM »
Yes. And plants. All living things have souls. If it is alive, it has a soul. The soul is the thing that makes it alive.

Okay, fair enough.  So with a gene sequencer I have the power to create a soul, and different things have different souls.  I've actually never encountered someone who thinks that all living things have souls.

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My partner is doctor of chemistry. She says "There is a lot of chemistry to it, yes, but what changes a simple collection of chemical processes into life? We don't know. It is as good as magic."

Well the minimal synthetic genome (the minimum genome that has been used to create a fully self replicating bacteria) has 493 genes.  There are 91 that we hadn't learned the function of 5+ years ago (alas nearly every publication about the paper uses the 149 'unknown function' claim, and hasn't bothered to examine the research of the past 5+ years).  Unfortunately I can't find a list of what genes were unknown back then, but I'd be shocked if we don't know all of the functions by now (unfortunately most researchers that discuss it use the 2016 publication and haven't bothered to look). 

https://elifesciences.org/articles/36842/figures#data

You can see the functional description of most of the genes here, they mention the 'unknown' genes as,

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The final two confidence classes, Unknown (65 genes) and Generic (84 genes) form the group of genes whose function is unknown.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10837-2

So there were actually 65 genes with 'unknown function' in 2016, but as I said, they probably have had their function annotated in the past 5 years.

Not exactly 'magic' - pretty straight forward stuff.

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The soul is providing animation and unity to the matter. Matter is potentiality and soul is actuality. According to Aristotle, the Soul is the thing that makes us to be, makes us to be one, and to be one of a kind.  Aquinas disagrees with Aristotle on the first point. He does not think it is the nature of the soul to be and instead distinguishes between the essence (i.e. form) and the "esse" (i.e. being). Instead, he believes existence is something we don't have essentially, but rather by participation.

The soul is the underlying cause of the powers of living beings, such as the nutritive, augmentative, generative, and in the case of animals, perception and movement, and in the case of rational beings, knowledge of universals and reason.

Well neural networks in silicon and/or combined with robotics can do most of the augmentative, generative, perceptive and movement, store knowledge, learn, and reason.  So do neural networks have souls?




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You don't understand what metaphysics is.  It is orthogonal and complementary to the study of physics (i.e. science).  It is the study of being as being.

Biology and computational biology seem to have largely replaced the need for 'metaphysics'.  If we can explain these things via our understanding of neurons and chemistry I guess I'm not sure what role a metaphysics is supposed to play.  The interactions of actin, myosin, calcium, ATP, etc. explain muscle contraction quite well.  The interaction of muscle and the bony and connective tissue structure explains movement.  The role of neuro-motor pathways explain the control of those muscles for directed movement.  We can create a biological neural network or use a computer chip to produce a particular sequence of movement patterns, or embed a microchip in an insects brain to control its motor function.

We understand how the brain models a wide variety of phenomenon such as spatial mapping, time, numbers, and much of vision.

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We currently have clever machines written by people that can emulate the powers of the human mind. We have nothing even close to resembling hard-AI.

Actually the people wrote the network architectures, and devised learning algorithms, the machines then learned from data how to do these things.  We teach the machines by things like providing a sentence with missing words, and having it predict the probability of all possible words to substitute for the missing words.  Or providing the machine a picture with a missing block of image data, and have it predict the correct pixels to fill the image.  Or providing an image and having it predict a scene description of the image, etc.  We actually have no idea how far, or close we are from 'hard-AI'.  The systems can currently generate completely novel text of article length that most people would be shocked that it wasn't a human that wrote it.

See some of the things that GPT3 can do.

https://www.educative.io/blog/top-uses-gpt-3-deep-learning

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  If we did, then maybe that hard-AI would be new life. But the fact that we have made some really clever tools is no sort of evidence that we are simply machines.

The machines learned how to do these things.  I don't think you really understand what has happened here.  These aren't a series of 'If then else if" statements.  Instead the AI designer set up a network of a given depth and width, and layers of things like 'attention'.  Then a sentence is fed in with certain words masked and the weights of the network and attention are learned in order to be able to predict the missing words.  This is repeated until there isn't much marginal improvement in the ability to predict.  You then feed in a prompt and tell it how many words you want it to write, and it will 'predict' the requested amount of text - writing text consistent with information in the prompt.

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Yes, animals are really cool. Yes, the higher functions of the mind take time to develop in children. No, this in no way disagrees with the metaphysics I am describing.

To be frank your metaphysics appears to be ignorance of modern science.

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No. The power of sight originates in the soul. The eye is the organ through which that power operates.  If we damage or destroy the eye, we do not destroy that power, but we do prevent it from operating. Similarly, the physical brain is an organ through which the power of reason operates. If we damage the brain, we can damage our ability to reason, but it does not remove that power from our nature.

This sounds like BS.  If a neural network is necessary and sufficient, why are you adding the idea of a soul.

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I appreciate that you quoted the thing you made up, because 'black soul' is just something you made up. It has nothing to do with anything I've said here.

Black soul is actually a common literary description of psychopaths.  I was pointing out that particular moral capacities that historically were attributed to a soul - are pure physiology.


JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #125 on: March 19, 2021, 10:08:57 PM »
How can something have intrinsic value if its existence is meaningless and irrelevant?

... because, like I said, the child's value is intrinsic. That means its value is not dependent on external things, like "meaningfulness" or "relevancy" (whatever those means). That's what intrinsic means.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #126 on: March 19, 2021, 10:23:05 PM »
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JoshuaD: I can show you that there are things that you experience which are unapproachable by that system of thought -- such as free will and morality -- but that won't necessarily shake you from your false beliefs.

LeterRip: Actually morality, and free will are completely compatible with science..

The reason you believe this is because you have a dogmatic belief in materialism. This belief flies in the face of your moment-to-moment experiences of the world.

It is astounding to me that a philosophy that starts with "What we can all experience and verify is true" ends with "This thing which we all report as experiencing is an illusion (because we need it to be to protect our philosophy)." 


Quote from: LetterRip
Free will may be quasi-deterministic

This is such a weak statement that I don't even know how to respond to it.  You're not actually saying anything here. Despite that, I will respond to it as best I can.

Firstly, it is obvious that we don't have unlimited free will.  Our free will is certainly constrained. Constrained by our past decisions, constrained by the laws of physics, and effectively constrained by our ignorance and lack of virtue.  Calling free will "quasi-deterministic" is not a problem for my metaphysics.  You have the burden of showing that it is either fully deterministic, or a combination of determinism and randomness and absolutely nothing else.  If there is even a small component of true free choice at any time, your deterministic metaphysics come crashing fatally down.

That view -- that free will is an illusion and everything is billiard balls and television static -- is contrary to my experience of reality, and contrary to yours. It takes a bunch of self-denial in the name of dogmatic beliefs in materialism to accept to that conclusion.

Quote from: LetterRip
Well it might also be that
1) that in fact their views aren't false or
2) that their views are false and can arrive at the correct conlcusions through use of their axioms but you lack the skill to do so

They're not right.  Materialism fails to explain reality.  We experience things which it insists on denying. By its nature, it cannot make any sense of morality, because it denies free will, and morality is the study of what we should to do. There is no "should" if we do not have choice; there is only "must". Compatabilism -- an attempt to bridge this gap for materialism -- is literally nonsense. It just redefines terms and plays a language shell-game.

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JoshuaD: Try convincing someone who only believes in mathematics that there is a physical world, only using the axioms of mathematics and not making an appeal to his direct experiences of the physical world. You can't do it.

LetterRip: You might well be able to.

Lol, no you can't.  Math, by its nature, doesn't know anything about matter. You can't change that. There is no way to approach talking about matter if your postulates only pertain to numbers and shapes. It's a completely different realm.  No half-hearted shrugging "you might be able to" will change that.

Quote from: LetterRip
That said, it is irrelevant.  You don't have to necessarily start with their axioms.  Simply propose axioms, explain why they are rational, and then show why those axioms result in your conclusion.

Axioms -- you really mean postulates -- are never "rational" or "irrational". They just are. They're little leaps of faith we make based on intuition and experience. There is nothing especially "rational" about Euclid's or Newton's postulates. They aren't self-contradictory, which is of course essential (because reality is not self-contradictory) and they lead to a tree of knowledge which seems to have some relationship with our reality, which is the real test.

We evaluate a set of postulates by how useful and true its conclusions seem to be. That is to say, how well it seems to map reality.

Science is a great system for mapping the physical reality. It's a great branch of philosophy. But, just like Mathematics, it doesn't answer all of the questions we run into. It's great at answering questions like "Why do stars collapse? Why do I fall to the ground?  How do my eyes process light? How do the chemicals in my brain work?" but it doesn't answer questions like: "Why do I exist? What is the nature of existence? Is there real distinction between things? Is there free will? How should I choose to act? Does God exist? What is Justice? What is good? What is beauty? What is love?"  It doesn't have the ability to aswer those questions, because those questions are beyond the physical reality. They are metaphysical.

You can see this clearly because every attempt by hard-determinists to answer these questions are clunky and unsatisfactory. They always end, of course, in simply denying the things we experience which science can't explain.

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JoshuaD: In the same way, I cannot convince a materialist that there is reality beyond material, using only the axioms of materialism.

LetterRip: Sure you might be able to [by proving] that there are things that are true independent of those axioms and therefore that their axioms are incomplete.

Right. Science can't speak about morality. It can't speak about free will. You see this, because you see that all attempts at materialism end with the rejection of free will. If your experience of reality is that we are all just billiard balls or television static, then I don't have the ability talk to you about this topic. I don't think that's your experience, and I know that it's not mine. But if you start by adopt the view of Materialism, you have to end with the irrelevency of all moral claims, because there is no morality without choice.

There is something beyond the physical realm. I love Science, but it is not comprehensive. We experience things beyond its comprehension. We must turn to metaphysics to answer those questions.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #127 on: March 19, 2021, 10:45:58 PM »
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My partner is doctor of chemistry. She says "There is a lot of chemistry to it, yes, but what changes a simple collection of chemical processes into life? We don't know. It is as good as magic."

Well the minimal synthetic genome (the minimum genome that has been used to create a fully self replicating bacteria) has 493 genes.  There are 91 that we hadn't learned the function of 5+ years ago (alas nearly every publication about the paper uses the 149 'unknown function' claim, and hasn't bothered to examine the research of the past 5+ years).  Unfortunately I can't find a list of what genes were unknown back then, but I'd be shocked if we don't know all of the functions by now (unfortunately most researchers that discuss it use the 2016 publication and haven't bothered to look). 

https://elifesciences.org/articles/36842/figures#data

You can see the functional description of most of the genes here, they mention the 'unknown' genes as,

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The final two confidence classes, Unknown (65 genes) and Generic (84 genes) form the group of genes whose function is unknown.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10837-2

So there were actually 65 genes with 'unknown function' in 2016, but as I said, they probably have had their function annotated in the past 5 years.

Not exactly 'magic' - pretty straight forward stuff.

Lol, what?  "We used to know how 402 genes worked, but now we know how more work"... so what exactly?

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JoshuaD: The soul is providing animation and unity to the matter. Matter is potentiality and soul is actuality. According to Aristotle, the Soul is the thing that makes us to be, makes us to be one, and to be one of a kind.  Aquinas disagrees with Aristotle on the first point. He does not think it is the nature of the soul to be and instead distinguishes between the essence (i.e. form) and the "esse" (i.e. being). Instead, he believes existence is something we don't have essentially, but rather by participation. The soul is the underlying cause of the powers of living beings, such as the nutritive, augmentative, generative, and in the case of animals, perception and movement, and in the case of rational beings, knowledge of universals and reason.

LetterRip: Well neural networks in silicon and/or combined with robotics can do most of the augmentative, generative, perceptive and movement, store knowledge, learn, and reason.  So do neural networks have souls?

I don't believe neural networks are anywhere close to doing those things in the way that life does. A camera can see, but it does not perceive. A computer can calculate, but it does not think. 

That's not terribly relevant though. It is conceivable that we will one day actually make living machines. True artificial rationality or artificial animals or artificial plants. If we do that, then yes, the things we created will have souls, because they are living. 

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JoshuaD: You don't understand what metaphysics is.  It is orthogonal and complementary to the study of physics (i.e. science).  It is the study of being as being.

LetterRip: Biology and computational biology seem to have largely replaced the need for 'metaphysics'.  If we can explain these things via our understanding of neurons and chemistry I guess I'm not sure what role a metaphysics is supposed to play.

Yes, you don't. I'm not blaming you for this. All of the education and all of the philosophy we were born into tells us that there is no need for metaphysics. It brushes the big, big problems with this view under the rug (like you did above) by saying lots of complex scientific words that don't actually respond to the questions of metaphysics. 

The history of the last 300+ years of philosophy has been largely attempting to tear down the need for a real metaphysics, and it has failed. It was a blind alley we went down when Newton shook the world with his amazing physical discoveries, and we haven't yet recovered from it.  Think about history: how many generations do you believe lived with some foolish superstitions and ideas about truth? What are the odds that today, now, we are finally the people free of those things? 

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JoshuaD: The interactions of actin, myosin, calcium, ATP, etc. explain muscle contraction quite well  The interaction of muscle and the bony and connective tissue structure explains movement.  The role of neuro-motor pathways explain the control of those muscles for directed movement.  We can create a biological neural network or use a computer chip to produce a particular sequence of movement patterns, or embed a microchip in an insects brain to control its motor function. We understand how the brain models a wide variety of phenomenon such as spatial mapping, time, numbers, and much of vision.

Yes, our bodies are made of matter, and matter is largely governed by the laws of physics. But we have minds as well, and our minds are in contact with something that transcends matter. We see it in our free will. We see it in the immediate experience of reality that we have (which science has absolutely no explanation for).  We see it in our ability to perceive and comprehend the transcendent ideas, like justice and beauty.

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JoshuaD: We currently have clever machines written by people that can emulate the powers of the human mind. We have nothing even close to resembling hard-AI.

LetterRip: Actually the people wrote the network architectures, and devised learning algorithms, the machines then learned from data how to do these things.  We teach the machines by things like providing a sentence with missing words, and having it predict the probability of all possible words to substitute for the missing words.  Or providing the machine a picture with a missing block of image data, and have it predict the correct pixels to fill the image.  Or providing an image and having it predict a scene description of the image, etc.  We actually have no idea how far, or close we are from 'hard-AI'.  The systems can currently generate completely novel text of article length that most people would be shocked that it wasn't a human that wrote it....The machines learned how to do these things.  I don't think you really understand what has happened here.  These aren't a series of 'If then else if" statements.  Instead the AI designer set up a network of a given depth and width, and layers of things like 'attention'.  Then a sentence is fed in with certain words masked and the weights of the network and attention are learned in order to be able to predict the missing words.  This is repeated until there isn't much marginal improvement in the ability to predict.  You then feed in a prompt and tell it how many words you want it to write, and it will 'predict' the requested amount of text - writing text consistent with information in the prompt.

I program computers and I've kept up on machine learning. I am not an expert, but I have more than a layman's familiarity. I am correct in characterizing them as clever machines. They are not intelligent like we are. They are very subtle machines. No one who builds these systems suggests otherwise.

As I mentioned above, the particular state of our technological abilities is not an interesting question. My metaphysics admits for the possibility that we may one day create artificial life. If we do, then we did. It will be alive, and therefore have a soul.

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JoshuaD: Yes, animals are really cool. Yes, the higher functions of the mind take time to develop in children. No, this in no way disagrees with the metaphysics I am describing.

LetterRip: To be frank your metaphysics appears to be ignorance of modern science.

To be frank, that is a statement which has no basis in reality, and is not responsive to anything I've said in this thread. To the contrary, I've shown time and time again how the metaphysics I am describing is perfectly compatible with modern science and the two philosophies compliment each other and work together to help us understand our reality better.

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JoshuaD: No. The power of sight originates in the soul. The eye is the organ through which that power operates.  If we damage or destroy the eye, we do not destroy that power, but we do prevent it from operating. Similarly, the physical brain is an organ through which the power of reason operates. If we damage the brain, we can damage our ability to reason, but it does not remove that power from our nature.

LetterRip: This sounds like BS.  If a neural network is necessary and sufficient, why are you adding the idea of a soul.

Because "a neural network" is not a sufficient explanation for our experience of vision. Our vision is more than just two cameras at the front of our face. We have a qualia of experience of vision that is unexplained (and inexplicable) by science. Science does not even try to give any account of consciousness, because it doesn't have the tools to approach it.

Fenring

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #128 on: March 19, 2021, 10:59:37 PM »
I find any attempt to discuss what "life" is, or what it's about, without references to the big holes in physics, to be troubling to say the least. Anyone who cannot give a comprehensive account of what the passage of time is, or to solve the arrow of time problem, or to designate what consciousness is as a part of that system, or to even explain for that matter whether there is even such a thing as causality at a fundamental level - the absence of any of these solutions means that what life is cannot be understood at all. How can we say where our motivations and meanings come from if we can't even come up with an acceptable model that explains grade school quantum physics experiments?

The best biologists do now is to rattle off characteristics of beings that we call alive, but that is more of a book report than an explanation of what life fundamentally is or how it works. And that's not even getting into geometric questions such as why do certain configurations of matter tend to degenerate, while others appear to move to increasing complexity - so far without bounds that we know of! What is it about these systems that can account for something small snowballing into something massively complex, when we seem to also know that systems on average tend toward decay? And what does that say about certain configurations of matter at it pertains to configurations that are not only long-lasting (such as stellar configurations) but what we call living configurations? What is the magic formula there?

So there are many questions here that are either holes in the current physics model, or else at minimum avenues that we need to continue to ponder. But any positive assertions about what is or isn't life, or what does or doesn't have properties that need to respected seems to me doomed to be the equivalent of cavemen drawings compared to what we'd need to know to claim authoritative knowledge about them.

NobleHunter

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #129 on: March 20, 2021, 11:35:21 AM »
... because, like I said, the child's value is intrinsic. That means its value is not dependent on external things, like "meaningfulness" or "relevancy" (whatever those means). That's what intrinsic means.

What does value, whether intrinsic or not, mean if a thing can be lost without notice or cost? My problem is your argument asserts a things value and simultaneously shows it to have very little value.

LetterRip

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #130 on: March 20, 2021, 12:41:09 PM »
I find any attempt to discuss what "life" is, or what it's about, without references to the big holes in physics, to be troubling to say the least. Anyone who cannot give a comprehensive account of what the passage of time is, or to solve the arrow of time problem, or to designate what consciousness is as a part of that system, or to even explain for that matter whether there is even such a thing as causality at a fundamental level - the absence of any of these solutions means that what life is cannot be understood at all. How can we say where our motivations and meanings come from if we can't even come up with an acceptable model that explains grade school quantum physics experiments?

For arrow of time, have a look at assymetries in the weak force and entropy.  Each quantum of space has its own time so there is only local times (and they aren't really 'time'), and we have the illusion of time at larger scales.  Time isn't actually a fundamental property of reality but rather a convenient way to talk about space.

If you demand such for 'consciousness' then presumably you equally consider that 'physics and chemistry' can't be understood, even though the majority of people in or outside of those fields would say that we have reasonably good to extremely good understanding of those topics.   Of course you can say 'we know almost nothing about physics because we have no idea what dark matter and dark energy are', but equally state 'we have an extremely good understanding of physics because we can predict enormous amounts of properties and behaviours of matter'.

Demanding that we know the fundamental nature of reality before we can claim understanding of a topic is an absurd position.

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The best biologists do now is to rattle off characteristics of beings that we call alive

We can create life purely from a pile of chemicals and we know the exact biochemical processes involved and what they do and how they contribute to the life.  We can even create novel processes in that life to synthesis things that we want.  How can you possibly be unaware of this when I've just posted links to the research papers on this.  Life is a 'solved problem'.

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And that's not even getting into geometric questions such as why do certain configurations of matter tend to degenerate, while others appear to move to increasing complexity - so far without bounds that we know of!

The universe tends toward entropy, but entropy can be locally coupled so that increasing entropy at a faster rate in one area decreases entropy locally.

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What is it about these systems that can account for something small snowballing into something massively complex, when we seem to also know that systems on average tend toward decay? And what does that say about certain configurations of matter at it pertains to configurations that are not only long-lasting (such as stellar configurations) but what we call living configurations? What is the magic formula there?

No magic - simply chemistry and physics.

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So there are many questions here that are either holes in the current physics model, or else at minimum avenues that we need to continue to ponder. But any positive assertions about what is or isn't life, or what does or doesn't have properties that need to respected seems to me doomed to be the equivalent of cavemen drawings compared to what we'd need to know to claim authoritative knowledge about them.

You seem to take your personal lack of knowledge as 'nobody knows'.  Also your requirement of perfection of all fundamental knowledge before we can claim to understand things is utterly bizzare.

Fenring

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #131 on: March 20, 2021, 01:22:43 PM »
Perfect knowledge actually is required in order to make a statement of the form "there is no possibility that X can make sense." The better way to phrase it would be be (in Kuhnian fashion) that the current models suggest it would not be the case, but that this could be subject to revision. The only reason to even make 'X is impossible' comments would be to shut down a line of argument wholesale.

Regarding arrow of time, there is no credible physicist who would claim to have solved the physical mechanics of why time works how it does. It's considered one of the major unknowns to be solved in the current system. Anyone who developed a credible (and testable) theory about it would be no doubt win a Nobel Prize for it and it would hit the front pages of all newspapers internationally as the greatest finding in the last 50 years. As for consciousness, I challenge you to find a credible psychologist, neuroscientist, or biologist who claims to understand the mechanics of consciousness and has had publication of such peer reviewed and corroborated by other professionals. Obviously any kook can claim this or that, and lots of claims are made all the time. just remember that you are the one offering the logical positivist position and insisting that not only can all things be known by empirical inquiry (against which you'd butt heads with many philosophers of science) but that most of the major unknowns have been solved and that we can also check off moral theory from our list of things needing solving. It reminds me of the early 1900's when the scientific consensus was that science was essentially solved and at an end, and that there would not be much more room to develop new explanations for things.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #132 on: March 22, 2021, 02:54:37 AM »
... because, like I said, the child's value is intrinsic. That means its value is not dependent on external things, like "meaningfulness" or "relevancy" (whatever those means). That's what intrinsic means.

What does value, whether intrinsic or not, mean if a thing can be lost without notice or cost? My problem is your argument asserts a things value and simultaneously shows it to have very little value.

There's a word problem here, because you seem to understand the word "value" to mean something like "has value to other beings". 

Human life is valuable by its nature. Its value does not depend on being noticed or having "cost".  The value of your life does not depend on economics, me, or society. It does not depend on your family or your friends. It inheres in you.

There are people in nursing homes who have lost everyone. On a material level, they are a burden to society, and many of them are waiting to die. These people still possess value and dignity. We cannot kill them or treat them any different than we treat any person. All people have rights, whether they be the elderly, the infirm, the sick, the dying, the healthy, or the unborn.

One way that you can see that this is true is to imagine a system where our value as people is dependent upon external things. Once you do that, all sorts of horrors quickly can be justified, because you will have the ability to take away people's value by removing the external source of that value.  The only system that comports with reality is one which recognizes that value inheres in every person, regardless of their particular circumstances or failings.

NobleHunter

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #133 on: March 22, 2021, 09:22:34 AM »
And it doesn't bother you that under your definition that so much human life is lost? That simply trying to create life inherently carries an unacceptably high risk of death? Being conceived and the very early stages of pregnancy would count as the most dangerous thing a person would ever do.

Aris Katsaris

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #134 on: March 22, 2021, 02:50:27 PM »
Human life is valuable by its nature. Its value does not depend on being noticed or having "cost".  The value of your life does not depend on economics, me, or society. It does not depend on your family or your friends. It inheres in you.

Agreed, because each person's own mind can assign value to themselves. Therefore they have inherent value, because they have self-ascribed value.

See the issue here? A fertilized ovum doesn't have a mind. It can't have "inherent" value, because it doesn't have a mind to assign value to itself.

Once it gains a mind that ascribes value to things (including itself), then it can have inherent value.

Lloyd Perna

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #135 on: March 22, 2021, 03:16:14 PM »
Human life is valuable by its nature. Its value does not depend on being noticed or having "cost".  The value of your life does not depend on economics, me, or society. It does not depend on your family or your friends. It inheres in you.

Agreed, because each person's own mind can assign value to themselves. Therefore they have inherent value, because they have self-ascribed value.

See the issue here? A fertilized ovum doesn't have a mind. It can't have "inherent" value, because it doesn't have a mind to assign value to itself.

Once it gains a mind that ascribes value to things (including itself), then it can have inherent value.

That sounds alot like some of the arguments that were made for Slavery.

Aris Katsaris

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #136 on: March 22, 2021, 03:29:23 PM »
That sounds alot like some of the arguments that were made for Slavery.

At this I will just say "LOL". Is that all you got? Put the word 'slavery' out there, and think you'll *censored*ing convince me? You're not even bothering to say where the analogy with slavery is?

Okay, then I'll say in response that if you guys ascribe the same value to a fertilized ovum as to a human MIND, then I'll similarly say that you are displaying the same moral depravity as slavery. Because you don't see people with hopes, aspirations, longings, *minds*, all the value of a human life is for you reduced to mere DNA.

There, now we BOTH have accused the other side of being equivalent to slavery-supporters, without much actual argument about why this is so (though I offered more than you did), and your own point is hence countered and nullified.

Do you have any actual argument?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 03:39:40 PM by Aris Katsaris »

Lloyd Perna

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #137 on: March 22, 2021, 04:03:59 PM »
That sounds alot like some of the arguments that were made for Slavery.

At this I will just say "LOL". Is that all you got? Put the word 'slavery' out there, and think you'll *censored*ing convince me? You're not even bothering to say where the analogy with slavery is?

Okay, then I'll say in response that if you guys ascribe the same value to a fertilized ovum as to a human MIND, then I'll similarly say that you are displaying the same moral depravity as slavery. Because you don't see people with hopes, aspirations, longings, *minds*, all the value of a human life is for you reduced to mere DNA.

There, now we BOTH have accused the other side of being equivalent to slavery-supporters, without much actual argument about why this is so (though I offered more than you did), and your own point is hence countered and nullified.

Do you have any actual argument?

As Joshua is arguing, Human life has innate value.  It is valuable simply because it is Human life.

As to your slavery argument. 
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In Medical Apartheid, Harriet A. Washington noted the prevalence of two different views on blacks in the 19th century: the belief that they were inferior and "riddled with imperfections from head to toe", and the idea that they didn't know true pain and suffering because of their primitive nervous systems (and that slavery was therefore justifiable). Washington noted the failure of scientists to accept the inconsistency between these two viewpoints, writing that "in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientific racism was simply science, and it was promulgated by the very best minds at the most prestigious institutions of the nation. Other, more logical medical theories stressed the equality of Africans and laid poor black health at the feet of their abusers, but these never enjoyed the appeal of the medical philosophy that justified slavery and, along with it, our nation's profitable way of life."[90]

Aris Katsaris

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #138 on: March 22, 2021, 04:28:41 PM »
As Joshua is arguing, Human life has innate value.  It is valuable simply because it is Human life.

That's not an argument. That's just an assertion.

And a speciesist assertion as that. If human life is valuable because it's human life, what does that say about alien life and alien minds?

And in order to defend this assertion, you'd have to get all mystical about what it means for something to be human or 'living'.
My assertion that minds assign value to themselves is a much more unassailable statement of simple fact.

As for your analogy with slavery, it's utterly meaningless babble. You are comparing falsehoods with facts. Are you acknowleding that simple fertilized ovums don't have minds yet, yes or no?

And yet because I said "fertilized ovums don't have minds" -- you dare compare me to people who said that black people don't minds! Wow, now you convinced me. Because some *censored* idiots claimed that black people don't have minds, we must instead go the other direction and believe that ovums have minds, and bacteria have minds, and rocks have minds. Or else, if we don't believe that trees, bacteria, rocks or fertilized ovums have minds, then we're just like slavers who said the same thing about black people. /s

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #139 on: March 22, 2021, 05:09:49 PM »
And it doesn't bother you that under your definition that so much human life is lost? That simply trying to create life inherently carries an unacceptably high risk of death? Being conceived and the very early stages of pregnancy would count as the most dangerous thing a person would ever do.

All humans die. That is our nature. We die of old age, or we die accidentally, or we die at the ends of evil, or we die due to disease and illness.  Does it bother me that children are lost to miscarriage? Yes, absolutely.

This doesn't, however, undermine the idea that we are people from the moment we are conceived.


JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #140 on: March 22, 2021, 05:11:30 PM »
Human life is valuable by its nature. Its value does not depend on being noticed or having "cost".  The value of your life does not depend on economics, me, or society. It does not depend on your family or your friends. It inheres in you.

Agreed, because each person's own mind can assign value to themselves. Therefore they have inherent value, because they have self-ascribed value.

I am not saying that.  You may be, but I am not.

I am not saying that we have value because we can think and assign ourselves value. I am saying that we have value because we are living, rational beings.

See the issue here? A fertilized ovum doesn't have a mind. It can't have "inherent" value, because it doesn't have a mind to assign value to itself.

Once it gains a mind that ascribes value to things (including itself), then it can have inherent value.

It's an issue for your conceptions about how things work. It's not an issue for mine.  I do not think our value depends on our minds. A person who is in a coma or brain dead is still a person, and they should be treated with the same respect and dignity as anyone else.

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #141 on: March 22, 2021, 05:20:34 PM »
Okay, then I'll say in response that if you guys ascribe the same value to a fertilized ovum as to a human MIND, then I'll similarly say that you are displaying the same moral depravity as slavery. Because you don't see people with hopes, aspirations, longings, *minds*, all the value of a human life is for you reduced to mere DNA.

I understand that you are making an over-the-top argument to illustrate that you think the slavery analogy misses the mark, and is therefore a cheap argument. I don't agree; I think the slavery analogy is a very good one.

People in this thread, and in the pro-choice movement at large, deny that the unborn are people -- that they are of the same fundamental nature as you and me -- and by doing so, then justify killing the unborn.

In the same way, people in the pro-slavery movement denied that black people were fully human, and in doing so, were able to justify enslaving and abusing them.

In both cases, a group starts by falsely denying the personhood of another group, and ends with abusing and killing them.  In both cases, there were "great scientific minds" of the day rattling off false conclusions in the name of science justifying the denial of the human nature of the victims, and in both cases it is horror. An absolute horror. We are killing our children by the millions and discarding their bodies in dumpsters.

...Because you don't see people with hopes, aspirations, longings, *minds*, all the value of a human life is for you reduced to mere DNA.

Of course I see people with hopes, aspirations, longings, and minds. It is because of these things I am able to comprehend the truth that we are more than mere matter. It is because of these things that I am able to see that the fetus -- although it does not yet have hopes, aspirations, longings, and an active intellect -- is of the same nature as adults who do, and I can then see that we cannot treat the fetus like a fingernail, because he is a person.

Aris Katsaris

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #142 on: March 22, 2021, 05:27:18 PM »
I am not saying that.  You may be, but I am not.

I am not saying that we have value because we can think and assign ourselves value. I am saying that we have value because we are living, rational beings.

A fertilized ovum isn't a "rational being".

See the issue here? A fertilized ovum doesn't have a mind. It can't have "inherent" value, because it doesn't have a mind to assign value to itself.

Once it gains a mind that ascribes value to things (including itself), then it can have inherent value.

It's an issue for your conceptions about how things work. It's not an issue for mine.  I do not think our value depends on our minds. A person who is in a coma or brain dead is still a person, and they should be treated with the same respect and dignity as anyone else.

And yet, you said something about "rational beings" above. That kinda sorta implies something about minds.

A person is their brain. A person who is brain dead is no longer a living person. They're a dead person. Afford them the respect and dignity afforded to corpses, for the exact same reasons we afford such dignity to corpses.

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It is because of these things that I am able to see that the fetus -- although it does not yet have hopes, aspirations, longings, and an active intellect -- is of the same nature as adults who do, and I can then see that we cannot treat the fetus like a fingernail, because he is a person.

And I say it's of a completely different nature, because it doesn't have those very important things.

If it's because of those things that a person is a person, then you saying that it's of the "same nature" though it doesn't have them, is meaningless. It seems to me you don't actually assign the importance on them that you claim you do.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 05:31:22 PM by Aris Katsaris »

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #143 on: March 22, 2021, 05:30:22 PM »
As Joshua is arguing, Human life has innate value.  It is valuable simply because it is Human life.

That's not an argument. That's just an assertion.

And a speciesist assertion as that. If human life is valuable because it's human life, what does that say about alien life and alien minds?

It is possible that there are alien people. It's even possible that some of these animals on earth are people (I don't think so, but it's possible). All people, whether they be human or some other species, share in the same dignity and rights and value.

And in order to defend this assertion, you'd have to get all mystical about what it means for something to be human or 'living'.

Once again, metaphysics is not mysticism. Metaphysics is a discipline of philosophy, not of theology. I am getting metaphysical. I am not getting mystical.

You are getting metaphysical too. If you talk about morality, you must. You might try to use a neutered materialist metaphysics, but it is metaphysics. It is an attempt to explain things like being, will, intellect, and morality in a purely materialist framework. But it is metaphysics. You're not being mystical. Neither am I.

My assertion that minds assign value to themselves is a much more unassailable statement of simple fact.

Human minds often assign value to the person who possess the mind, yes. That is a fact we can obtain by talking to people.

Your assertion that that is the source of our value is not a fact. It's also false. It's a view that doesn't match reality very well. If we take that view to its natural conclusion, we are free to kill, rape, and abuse anyone whose mind stops functioning. If tomorrow you went brain dead or into a coma, you don't lose your value as a person. You are valuable despite the fact that your mind is currently not functioning. You are valuable because you are a living person. That is the base reason. 

As for your analogy with slavery, it's utterly meaningless babble. You are comparing falsehoods with facts. Are you acknowleding that simple fertilized ovums don't have minds yet, yes or no?

They don't have functioning minds, just like they don't yet have functioning eyes. Their nature is to have a mind and to have eyes. Left to run their natural process, they will develop those things. They are the same being as the adult they will become.

And yet because I said "fertilized ovums don't have minds" -- you dare compare me to people who said that black people don't minds! Wow, now you convinced me. Because some *censored* idiots claimed that black people don't have minds, we must instead go the other direction and believe that ovums have minds, and bacteria have minds, and rocks have minds. Or else, if we don't believe that trees, bacteria, rocks or fertilized ovums have minds, then we're just like slavers who said the same thing about black people. /s

No one has suggested that bacteria have minds or that rocks have minds. And none of us on this side of suggested that possessing a currently operating mind is the test for whether we are people. 

The comparison to slavery is valid because, like slavers, you are rejecting the personhood of a living, independent person and in doing so, then justify the abuse and killing they suffer.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 05:38:03 PM by JoshuaD »

JoshuaD

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #144 on: March 22, 2021, 05:34:40 PM »
I am not saying that.  You may be, but I am not.

I am not saying that we have value because we can think and assign ourselves value. I am saying that we have value because we are living, rational beings.

A fertilized ovum isn't a "rational being".

Yes it is. That is the child's nature. It is an independent human being. It shares in the same nature that you and I share in. It shares a continuity of being with the adult it will become. The egg and the sperm do not. The unborn child -- the ovum -- does.

See the issue here? A fertilized ovum doesn't have a mind. It can't have "inherent" value, because it doesn't have a mind to assign value to itself.

Once it gains a mind that ascribes value to things (including itself), then it can have inherent value.

It's an issue for your conceptions about how things work. It's not an issue for mine.  I do not think our value depends on our minds. A person who is in a coma or brain dead is still a person, and they should be treated with the same respect and dignity as anyone else.

And yet, you said something about "rational beings" above. That kinda sorta implies something about minds.

It does imply "something about minds". It does not imply that "if and only if you have a currently functioning mind, then you are a person, otherwise you are not."

I've outlined my reasoning and my framework in this thread. You don't yet understand it.  I'd be glad to restate it, or you are welcome to go back and read it.

Right now, I understand your position. I could articulate your position faithfully. You do not understand mine and you are failing to articulate mine. If we're trying to have a conversation, that's a problem, right? If you don't understand me, how could you possibly know whether I am right or wrong?

A person is their brain. A person who is brain dead is no longer a living person. They're a dead person. Afford them the respect and dignity afforded to corpses, for the exact same reasons we afford such dignity to corpses.

A person is more than their brain, and a mind is not simply a brain. A person's nature is to see and think and talk and walk and taste and sense and all sorts of things the brain cannot do on its own. Sometimes these powers of ours get damaged or inhibited. That doesn't make us less of a person.

Aris Katsaris

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #145 on: March 22, 2021, 05:58:10 PM »
It would help the discussion if you tried to be concise, instead of repeating the same thing over and over, in response to a dozen different quotes.

We're "not free" to kill, rape, and abuse, because we (most of us) have a moral instinct. The moral instinct is the abstract generalized respect for other people and their values. I wouldn't kill, rape, abuse other people for the same reason that I wouldn't destroy a cherished possession of theirs. Not because the cherished possession has "innate value" from the POV of the universe, but because it has the value the person assigns to it, and destroying it would hurt them.

Or in another way you could say that the POV of the universe is the collective POV of every being with the ability to have POVs.

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They don't have functioning minds, just like they don't yet have functioning eyes. Their nature is to have a mind and to have eyes. Left to run their natural process, they will develop those things. They share being with the adult they will become.

I'm interested in actualities, I'm uninterested in what would happen if they're "left to run their natural process". My teeth would rot if I didn't brush them, does that mean I should let my teeth rot by letting them run their "natural process"?

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Yes it is. That is the child's nature. It is an independent human being. It shares in the same nature that you and I share in. It shares a continuity of being with the adult it will become. The egg and the sperm do not. The unborn child -- the ovum -- does.

The "continuity" you speak of has no moral meaning. I call it mysticism because you ascribe moral weight to mere physical phenomena, like treating rainbows as if they were omens of divine blessing, thinking that taking a photograph would steal your soul, or that the "continuity of being with the adult" gives the fertilized ovum personhood.

Okay, it has a continuity of being. So what? It still doesn't have a mind, and thus it can't be a "rational being" or a person.

Fenring

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #146 on: March 22, 2021, 08:20:29 PM »
There seems to be still be a lot of confusion about what "innate" means. This is not some religious argument but rather an established dilemma in moral philosophy. Here is a link to the Wiki article about one of these positions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_realism#:~:text=Moral%20realism%20(also%20ethical%20realism,they%20report%20those%20features%20accurately.

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Moral realism (also ethical realism) is the position that ethical sentences express propositions that refer to objective features of the world (that is, features independent of subjective opinion), some of which may be true to the extent that they report those features accurately. This makes moral realism a non-nihilist form of ethical cognitivism (which accepts that ethical sentences express propositions and can therefore be evaluated as true or false) with an ontological orientation, standing in opposition to all forms of moral anti-realism[1] and moral skepticism, including ethical subjectivism (which denies that moral propositions refer to objective facts), error theory (which denies that any moral propositions are true); and non-cognitivism (which denies that moral sentences express propositions at all). Within moral realism, the two main subdivisions are ethical naturalism and ethical non-naturalism.

To say that X has an innate moral property is a moral-realism position, and by definition this means that the property is not defined by contingency on a man-made concept or on any aesthetic or pragmatic criteria. As JoshuaD has mentioned, if humans have innate dignity then it means this does not originate from anyone's concept of dignity, or from convention, or from utility, or from liking the idea that it's true. If it's difficult to image how something can have an innate moral quality then you'd have to dig into moral philosophy. Obviously some sort of claim would have to be made about how this innate value exists: either God put it there, or else it's somehow baked into the universe physically, or maybe it's an emergent aspect from evolution or physics. There may be more types of explanations of the origin or nature of this value, but the claim made by moral realists is that it exists, and would do so even if no one had ever thought of it or even believed in it. You could think of it as a physical law if you wish to put it that way, to be discovered and studied rather than to be decided on by agreement.

So Aris' idea here:

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because each person's own mind can assign value to themselves. Therefore they have inherent value, because they have self-ascribed value.

Is not a moral realist position, because it designates the origin of value as from a person's opinion or subjective perspective. This type of idea falls better into a moral relativist position, where value is defined as being a belief in the value.



oldbrian

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #147 on: March 23, 2021, 09:45:52 AM »
Joshua -

You implied that since the mind and soul are not dependent on the brain, that if a person's brain is damaged it doesn't affect either one.
When we harvest organs, the person's body is still alive.  That is the whole point of donating organs.  Only the brain has died.  But that means we are dismembering a person who is still alive.  That would be a pretty horrific thing to do to a person.  How do you square that?

This is one of the cornerstones of the mind=brain argument.

Also, you keep saying how the embryo will develop if left to its own natural processes.  This is absolutely false.  The mother's body does an enormous amount of work to enable that 'natural process'.  Work which actively harms the mother's body. 
It would be more accurate to say it will develop if the womb is left to its natural process.

This discussion started because you said that the mother should be forced to continue providing that work against her will, because the rights of the fetus override hers.  You keep skipping over that contribution every time you assert that the continuity from embryo to child would happen 'naturally'.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2021, 09:49:10 AM by oldbrian »

Aris Katsaris

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #148 on: March 23, 2021, 12:33:57 PM »
Also, you keep saying how the embryo will develop if left to its own natural processes.  This is absolutely false.

It wouldn't matter regardless of whether it was true or false. If we weren't mammals grown in a womb but rather oviparous creatures hatched in eggs, before the creatures in the egg got a brain they still wouldn't be persons or have rights.

We can't afford to give literally brainless objects rights as if they were minded creatures.

Arguing about what "natural processes" are or aren't is the wrong hill to wage this battle on.

yossarian22c

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Re: Roe might be in woe
« Reply #149 on: March 23, 2021, 05:22:31 PM »
Joshua I think you could save everyone a bunch of time and words if you just clearly state that you take it as a matter of faith (or if you prefer an axiom) that human life begins at conception.

You aren't reasoning through an argument to get to that conclusion. That is your assumption and then you reason from there as to what the law should be.