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09:20 AM on 10/12/12 
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bung
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The whole framing of the abortion debate in terms of when life does or does not begin, and thus using that criterion in determining its ethical status, is fundamentally ill-conceived. A better argument is just to say that, in some cases, it's morally acceptable to take the life of an innocent human being.
09:59 AM on 10/12/12 
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bung
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Hahaha good god. I can only imagine the pro-life side's reaction if we framed the discussion that way.

They're already against abortion. Are you saying they're going to be... more against it, then?

Though, if we're framing it from a Christian dogma pro-life position no human being is innocent due to original sin.

Good, then it should be easier to kill a non-innocent fetus for them!
10:31 AM on 10/12/12 
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bung
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No and I wasn't really disagreeing with you either. I just can see them all having aneurysms over phrasing it so bluntly and I got a chuckle out of it. The pearl-clutching would be entertaining to me.

Haha, indeed. The argument has been presented before and they despise it. The big problem with framing the debate in terms of life/non-life is that it caters to the arcane notion of the "sanctity" of human life. It's also impossible to find some non-arbitrary, ethically forceful demarcation criterion between what constitutes life from non-life.
03:11 PM on 10/12/12 
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bung
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This same 'arcane' notion that is in the declaration of independence?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If the notion of the 'sanctity' of Human life is arcane, then how do you feel about its inclusion in the above statement from the Declaration of independence?

As the declaration holds life to be an unalienable right, then we as a nation have a responsibility to protect life as ardently as liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Whether or not one's views on the sanctity of life differ is irrelevant.

I couldn't care less what the DoI says. It was adopted in 1776, or over 200 and some odd years ago. Around the same time that, in the Constitution, it was declared that slaves are to be considered 3/5 persons. We have the ability to improve our ethical views over time by employing ever greater reasoning and moral considerations. Anyway, that entire statement you just quoted is merely a five-dollar phrase that has never actually been translated into policy. All three--life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--have been, historically and up to and including the present day, routinely denied to countless numbers of people. It's only something that we pay lip-service to in order that we may feel warm and fuzzy inside when we recount our nation's inception.
03:37 PM on 10/12/12 
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bung
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I fail to see how advocating that we should not hold human life as sacred is 'improving our ethical views'.

Because human beings are merely animals with varying preferences (or lack thereof) and varying qualities of life. Nothing about being a member of the species homo sapien and being considered "alive" allows us to determine the value of an individual life, and subsequently whether or not that life should continue or end. For example, I fail to see how it's perfectly fine to allow one million cows/pigs/etc. to live horrible, miserable, torturous existences only to be slaughtered, while, at the same time, holding the loss of one human life, under whatever circumstances, as a great tragedy because it's held as "sacred."
03:50 PM on 10/12/12 
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bung
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Well The Constitution would hold that if it is deemed a person it is entitled to certain protections that can't be taken away without due process. So as a pro life advocate this isn't ill conceived at all, its a very good way to get what you want. There's an argument to be made on whether we should be following a 200 year old document, but that will probably go over about as well around here as me arguing that we should scrap capitalism.

The argument rests on a fallacy of equivocation between being human and alive with personhood.
05:25 AM on 10/13/12 
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bung
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Many legal arguments rest on fallacies, or at least assumptions, but its still law. I wasn't talking about the logical merits of the argument. I don't agree with the argument.

But first and foremost they're making an ethical argument. And, moreover, the law can and does take circumstances and contingencies into account. For example, in some cases it is already legal (and, in my opinion, perfectly ethical) to kill an alive human being who even possesses personhood, i.e.; active human euthanasia in Oregon. So we need not fear that using personhood rather than life as an ethical criterion will be in any way more problematic, legally speaking, since we may apply whatever contingencies we see fit to the situation at hand.

Edit: I should also add that, far from being a sufficient condition, life is apparently not even a necessary one to establish personhood, as evidenced by the fact that corporations are granted the legal rights of persons.



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