As long as you acknowledge that for someone who does view the issue that way, it's not hypocritical or inconsistent to derive different conclusions. That was the primary issue I took with an earlier statement in this thread (don't even remember who made it now). Can we get past that one?
If you want to debate whether that's a valid viewpoint in the first place, I'm game. But let's first place some ground rules. You have to *not* apply assumptions which are not agreed upon. It's the other persons way of viewing the issue, right? That other person is therefore *right* with regard to how they apply that view. You can't invent your own rules that you think they must agree to, or you're just arguing in circles again.
Having said that, I'll respond to your earlier post. I'll start by restating the position in question:
This position believes that potential future life matters and that we should judge an action based on the degree to which that future life is negatively impacted. Note, that this has to do with probability and choice. Something that "might be" a future life has a low probability value. Same thing with a convicted criminal who "might" turn his life around. Also, there's a difference between choosing to act to prevent something and choosing to act to cause something. I just want to make sure you clearly understand what we're really talking about here.
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Every single egg and sperm potentially has a full life ahead of it. But we don't persecute women for getting their period, without trying to inseminate the egg first. We don't persecute men for jacking off.
No. Because there are a whole set of things which must happen for that specific egg or that specific set of sperm to result in a human life. Barring some kind of extreme medical intervention, that woman's period is going to destroy that egg. In terms of the guy jacking off, the fact that he did doesn't prevent him from impregnating someone at some future point. Also neither of those acts prevented something from happening. They didn't cause it to happen in the first place.
And we don't persecute people for refusing to donate one of their kidneys to a dying person, both of whom would have full lives ahead of them if they did.
I'm not sure why you think this applies. The position isn't about demanding that someone must perform a set of actions resulting in the creation of a human life. It's about not taking action that destroys a likely future life (note that probability matters here). This part of your reasoning rests on the same false assumption you made in the earlier part. That's not correct though and the fact that one is absurd should lead you to conclude that the other is as well.
Making laws based on the potential for something to attain personhood is even stupider than their original position.
Meaningless statement. You're just restating your own position.
Especially because, all things considered, you have absolutely no way knowing if any given egg, zygote, dog, tree, etc. will become a person. Any one of these could attain personhood (though we'd obviously be much more amazed at two of these).
Correct. Which is why your whole "woman on a period"/"guy jacking off" examples are wrong. That's not at all how this is being evaluated.
In the case of abortion we do know that this given egg and sperm have formed a zygote, and have formed an embryo and will become a person if left alone
. Get it? The very assumption behind the choice to abort is that if you don't, a living human being will be created. That's what you're choosing to do when you have an abortion. If the probability of that result wasn't extremely high, you wouldn't bother, would you?
Furthermore, asserting you have a duty to someone that doesn't even exist yet is stupid. Do I have a duty to someone who might be born next year? How about ten years from now? Do I have a duty to someone one hundred years from now?
Again though, this is the same false comparison. We're not talking about someone who "might be born", but someone who will be born if you don't act to prevent it
What do you think an abortion is?
And what do we make of the fact that this thing, which is only potentially a person, is violating my right to control what happens to and with my body.
And that's the one rational thing you've said. This is why we allow abortions up to a certain point in a pregnancy. Now, there's clearly disagreement on where that point should be. But to deny that there is a balance in play between the right of the future child to exist and the rights of the woman with regard to her own body is to deny the whole issue itself. It just seems like pretending that there is zero value to anything that isn't already a person and then deciding that no one's a person until they are born is a convenient way to side step the more difficult questions of the issue itself.
And my refusal to look at the issue in a different way is because you have completely failed to demonstrate why I should. I'm looking at the fact that seems to be at the very center of the issue. Unless you can tell me why it isn't the central issue here, or why I should care about something else that would make up for its deficit, then I'm going to continue thinking this way. And I'm going to think anyone who ignores this aspect of the issue to be stupid and dilatory.
With the exception of your last statement, nothing you've said is central to the issue. Most of it appears to be designed to avoid the central issue in fact. The central issue is that even the Roe v. Wade decision, which is broadly viewed by conservatives as being a huge overreach by the courts, still finds that a growing fetus has rights. If not, then there would be no restrictions on abortion up to the time of birth at all. That they did place greater restrictions the farther along the pregnancy goes shows that the idea that a future person has no rights at all is clearly incorrect. Or at least that the Supreme Court disagrees.
So yeah. I think the idea that we can judge issues of life and death based not just on the status of the thing/person/whatever right now, but based on the future we are potentially eliminating is well founded. And it's a pretty basic extrapolation of the same principle to arrive at support for a death penalty as well. The two are not incompatible at all. In both cases, you're looking at the future potential life which may be prevented, and judging the value of that life within the context of outside conditions. In the case of abortion, you're judging it against a womans right to control her own body. In the case of an execution, you're judging it against the harm the criminal has done and the likelihood that their future life will ever correct for it in any way.
I honestly don't see any logical hole in that way of looking at the issue. Obviously, it's a subjective thing. We're dealing with social theory here, right? But you can't dismiss it purely because you disagree, much less because of some imagined inherent contradiction. It is a perfectly valid way of looking at the issue and making those kinds of decisions. Edited, Sep 16th 2011 6:57pm by gbaji