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Abortion vs Your Religious Beliefs


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Well, first, so we are clear, chimeras result from a starting state of fraternal twins, not identical. There would be no way of telling if identical twins re-merged as the genetic code is exactly the same.

Fine, fair enough, how would you define this "identical-twins-turned-one-baby" situation then? Either the twins shared a soul/person, or they a soul/person died when they re-integrated.

 

That situation happens. Not too often, but it happens. Should we mourn the lost 'twin' even though it was barely in the making?

 

But I see no compelling argument to not protect the life or lives in the womb based on an overcomplicated consideration of how many lives it is or will end up being after various natural but unlikely scenarios that may happen happen.

No no, the purpose of this argument wasn't to claim we should or shouldn't protect the lives in the womb, it was to challenge your assertion of when life can be called a person in the womb.


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This is very simple, jryan.

 

You claim human life start with the zygote, and base your opposition to abortion (at any stage of the pregnancy) on this claim.

 

We gave you examples of when this assertion is problematic.

These are not things that never happen, some happen quite often, and they produce a problem with the claim you raised:

 

Either you should now mourn the loss of a person every time a zygote splits to twins and re-integrates (it is your choice to do so), and remain consistent in your argument,

OR you can realize that the argument has these flaws and change it so it remains consistent.

 

Of course, you also have the right to do neither and continue holding a claim that is shown to be inconsistent, in which case the argument ceases to be rational and we can end it here.

Edited by mooeypoo
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In addition to Mooey's post, I would like to point out that this is in no way an argument based on logic, but a huge assumption on your part mixed with a seemingly limited knowledge of how pregnancy w

I'm not sure what you mean by "soul," but if you're talking about a supernatural entity, then what does that have to do with anything? Would not a soul also be a product of what it is "to begin with,"

I don't think anyone would argue that a raped woman should not be allowed to have an abortion. It seems clear to me that the emotional trauma is damaging enough to be worth the loss of the feotus. Of

Either you should now mourn the loss of a person every time a zygote splits to twins and re-integrates (it is your choice to do so), and remain consistent in your argument,

OR you can realize that the argument has these flaws and change it so it remains consistent.

 

Alternately, one could say that the zygote "lost" in re-integration does not "die" but merely becomes part of another. It's not, in fact, lost.

 

Thought experiment:

 

It's 2174 and we have the amazing technology to extract a person's "personality" from their head and save it to a computer system. It works flawlessly. We can also impart memories of a person into another person, which has certain ethical qualms but is used wisely.

 

A married woman, who has been married to the same spouse for many years and loves that spouse dearly, is mortally injured in an accident. In the brief hours before she dies, her memories and personality are saved by the computer system.

 

Her spouse comes, and is with her as she dies. The spouse then elects to receive her personality and memories. (This doesn't cause multiple personality disorder or anything -- it's all under conscious control.) The spouse now is, in fact, both of them -- incorporating the lives and experiences of two people. The spouse now loves the woman's family as much as she did, knows all her childhood friends, and merely has significant differences in anatomy (although perhaps lesbian marriage will be well-accepted in 2174).

 

Did the woman "die"? Should we give her a funeral even though she lives on in another person's body?

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I guess that would depend on what is meant by receiving the personality and memories. If the spouse simply has her memories, then I would say that she still died. But "personality?" Are there two distinct, conscious personalities, sharing a body? (This would be different than MPD, since in that case only one is conscious at a time.) If so, then I would think of her as still being alive. Does the spouse have a mental image of her personality (whatever that means, "image" isn't appropriate, but our language isn't sufficient)? I would say she died. Are their two personalities "fused" into a single consciousness? Well, then maybe they both died? That's hardest to fit to familiar concepts.

 

But really, why should we try to fit it to familiar concepts? It is no longer a puzzle if you accept that rigid categories of life and death are just convenient constructs anyway. What physically happens isn't a mystery. Has she died? Answer: not applicable.

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I think the trouble here comes from trying to do "life accounting." "Let's see, we've got a chimera here, so we have to put that under Lives Receivable, plus 20% in Assets..."

 

"Life" is so poorly defined that life accounting is impossible. If one wants to figure out how many lives were lost or gained, one needs to figure out what constitutes a "life." Then one has to figure out if a loss of life is, in fact, always bad -- zygotes re-integrating might cause a loss of life, but is that bad?

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...zygotes re-integrating might cause a loss of life, but is that bad?

 

Was the re-integrating caused by a willful act by an outside person? If not then there is no moral dilemma. If someone intentionally brought it about, then you have a potential morality issue.

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Alternately, one could say that the zygote "lost" in re-integration does not "die" but merely becomes part of another. It's not, in fact, lost.

 

Thought experiment:

 

It's 2174 and we have the amazing technology to extract a person's "personality" from their head and save it to a computer system. It works flawlessly. We can also impart memories of a person into another person, which has certain ethical qualms but is used wisely.

 

A married woman, who has been married to the same spouse for many years and loves that spouse dearly, is mortally injured in an accident. In the brief hours before she dies, her memories and personality are saved by the computer system.

 

Her spouse comes, and is with her as she dies. The spouse then elects to receive her personality and memories. (This doesn't cause multiple personality disorder or anything -- it's all under conscious control.) The spouse now is, in fact, both of them -- incorporating the lives and experiences of two people. The spouse now loves the woman's family as much as she did, knows all her childhood friends, and merely has significant differences in anatomy (although perhaps lesbian marriage will be well-accepted in 2174).

 

Did the woman "die"? Should we give her a funeral even though she lives on in another person's body?

Cap'n, to do proper thought experiments, the participants need to speak the same language, or at least be sure they agree to proceed on consistent claims.

 

We're not there yet, it seems. We are still in a stage where the claims brought forth by jryan are in need of examination first according to his OWN claims, and only then we can move on to thought experiments.

 

Claiming a life is created with the zygote but then dismiss the problem of dual-life of twins is a consistency issue. Claiming that because life is created with the zygote abortion is the killing of life, and hence immoral, but then ignore the problem of the loss of life with a re-integrated twin, is a consistency problem.

 

This thought experiment -- interesting as it is, and it is a good question -- is not yet valid if we're not in agreement to remain consistent and debate rationally.

 

~moo

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There is no ambiguity, Sisyphus, and you and others have done nothing to change that fact. I have argued that the zygote is a living human being (or human organism), and the closest you can get to dissolving that unambiguous assertion is that it may become two or more human beings on a rare occasion, but never less than one.

 

No, you have not argued, you have baselessly and repeatedly asserted, that a zygote is a living human being. You have never ever given any evidence for that assertion, only that it would be convenient. And let me say yet again, that a chimera is formed from two different zygotes (or more). Which means that each zygote turns into less than one life. So, a zygote is not guaranteed to turn into at least one living human being, it could be 0, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4, ... Just because it will frequently become one, doesn't mean it is one now.

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The question is whether it's bad. Someone dying is bad even if nobody killed them. Is a zygote re-integrating and thus causing a loss of one life "bad"?

 

By “bad” I assume you mean tragic. Zygotes re-integrating by chance certainly wouldn’t be wrong or evil. If a person dies by accidentally falling down a flight of stairs that’s tragic but not wrong or evil. If someone dies as the result of being pushed down of flight of stairs that’s tragic as well as wrong or evil.

 

So are Zygotes re-integrating by chance tragic? If one could prove that pre integrated Zygotes were persons, well then perhaps to them it would be. I guess it could also be tragic to the world since the persons not created by the individual Zygotes were lost to us. If you never came to be, would it be tragic? I certainly enjoy your point of view.

 

When life begins is certainly an important discussion to have when debating abortion, but let’s not forget that abortion ends a pregnancy.

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If you never came to be, would it be tragic?

 

To that question, I would wholeheartedly say no. What happens is good or bad. That any one possibility out of a limitless set fails to happen has to be neutral. I came to be, but a billion other possible children my parents could have had did not. If that means a billion tragedies, then tragedy doesn't mean anything.

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By “bad” I assume you mean tragic. Zygotes re-integrating by chance certainly wouldn’t be wrong or evil. If a person dies by accidentally falling down a flight of stairs that’s tragic but not wrong or evil. If someone dies as the result of being pushed down of flight of stairs that’s tragic as well as wrong or evil.

Roughly speaking, yes.

 

So are Zygotes re-integrating by chance tragic? If one could prove that pre integrated Zygotes were persons, well then perhaps to them it would be. I guess it could also be tragic to the world since the persons not created by the individual Zygotes were lost to us. If you never came to be, would it be tragic? I certainly enjoy your point of view.

Well of course it would be tragic if I never existed, but as for most people...

 

Jesting aside, I think the tragedy, if there is any, has to come from the loss of life rather than the loss of "potential." We need to establish that the life does, in fact, exist.

 

I suppose we could look at the situation like so: When a zygote starts, just fertilized, it has much potential but is hardly an independent living being. It's just a cell. As it goes on, it "uses up" that potential, so that when it's developed into a 90-year-old person it doesn't have much potential left, but that potential is "turned into" life. (I'm a physics major, so I'm drawing analogy to potential and kinetic energy.)

 

What we should focus on is the life, not the potential. At what point in the exchange does the life's "value" become significant enough to worry about?

 

Claiming a life is created with the zygote but then dismiss the problem of dual-life of twins is a consistency issue. Claiming that because life is created with the zygote abortion is the killing of life, and hence immoral, but then ignore the problem of the loss of life with a re-integrated twin, is a consistency problem.

The point of the thought experiment is to explore whether it is, in fact, a consistency problem at all. If the reintegration of two people is not a tragic event, then aborting a zygote can be immoral while re-integrating twins is perfectly fine.

 

There can be a difference between loss of life and tragic loss of life.

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No, you have not argued, you have baselessly and repeatedly asserted, that a zygote is a living human being. You have never ever given any evidence for that assertion, only that it would be convenient. And let me say yet again, that a chimera is formed from two different zygotes (or more). Which means that each zygote turns into less than one life. So, a zygote is not guaranteed to turn into at least one living human being, it could be 0, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 4, ... Just because it will frequently become one, doesn't mean it is one now.

 

Of course I have! I established that the zygote is a living organism and that it is human. There is no other evidence that is necessary.

 

As for your often repeated percentages, first it should be pointed out that we are not discussing a natural "zero" we are talking about zygotes that will continue to grow.

 

As for the "1/4, 1/2... 4" argument, you keep making it and it still makes as little sense as when you first stated it. I assusme you use fractions to present zygotes that contribute to a chimera... but in any case, barring spontaneous abortion or otherwise in-viable pregnancy (ectopic, etc.) you can not deny that abortion in any of those cases end the life of a living organism without first proving that the zygote in question is not a living organism.

 

You also have no chance of arguing that the organism isn't human as DNA trumps any argument you could possibly muster.

 

Finally, on your argument of potential splits or merges... does that argument have any logical application outside of your need for it to be true with early human development? I would say no, it doesn't. But feel free to show me an analogous and logical application of your diminished-through-potential argument, though.

 

Very simply the zygote is an individual living human until it is two, and two zygotes are two individuals until they fuse, then they become one.

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The point of the thought experiment is to explore whether it is, in fact, a consistency problem at all. If the reintegration of two people is not a tragic event, then aborting a zygote can be immoral while re-integrating twins is perfectly fine.

 

There can be a difference between loss of life and tragic loss of life.

That's not the only inconsistency, though. It seems like the argument shifts between when human life starts and when it doesn't. On one hand, the zygote is when human life starts but when it doesn't feel comfortable to jryan, he switches to say that maybe human life starts afterwards, and the zygote's re-integration is irrelevant.

 

I agree that it's a good point about loss of life vs. tragic loss of life in morality, but if we can't even have a consistency (not necessarily an agreement) in a claim about when human life *starts* then we can't have a debate at all.

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That's not the only inconsistency, though. It seems like the argument shifts between when human life starts and when it doesn't. On one hand, the zygote is when human life starts but when it doesn't feel comfortable to jryan, he switches to say that maybe human life starts afterwards, and the zygote's re-integration is irrelevant.

What if human life starts with the zygote, but re-integration is still irrelevant because it's not a tragic loss in the same way there's no tragic loss in my thought experiment?

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What if human life starts with the zygote, but re-integration is still irrelevant because it's not a tragic loss in the same way there's no tragic loss in my thought experiment?

 

I don't think it can be considered the same. In the thought experiment you are preserving the "selfhood," the implication being that that is the important part, and losing the physical body, genes, etc. In a chimera you are losing the (future) selfhood (Only one person develops instead of two, and that person is not the two "selves" in one.) while preserving the physical continuation of those specific genes, i.e. the opposite situation. Depending on what you consider makes something "tragic," their lack of tragedy is mutually exclusive.

 

So is it the "selfhood" that makes a person important, or is it the continued existence of living cells that have a specific genetic code?

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I don't think it can be considered the same. In the thought experiment you are preserving the "selfhood," the implication being that that is the important part, and losing the physical body, genes, etc. In a chimera you are losing the (future) selfhood (Only one person develops instead of two, and that person is not the two "selves" in one.) while preserving the physical continuation of those specific genes, i.e. the opposite situation. Depending on what you consider makes something "tragic," their lack of tragedy is mutually exclusive.

 

So is it the "selfhood" that makes a person important, or is it the continued existence of living cells that have a specific genetic code?

 

I'd say it's the selfhood that makes a person important. For example, if someone's suffered a major brain injury in an accident, we are more willing to turn off their life support, because their selfhood is already destroyed. People are still upset about pulling the plug, of course, but that's because it signifies a loss of hope that the selfhood might return.

 

But then: do we really want to worry about potential selfhoods? I think we've covered this problem already in this thread.

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But then: do we really want to worry about potential selfhoods? I think we've covered this problem already in this thread.

 

I don't, no. I think worrying about potential people quickly descends into absurdity. I'm just trying to make sense of the premises of the hypothetical, of the loss of a zygote being tragic but not the formation of a chimera. You would have to consider the "tragedy" to be the loss of a specific genetic line, which would necessarily mean that the merging spouses would be just as tragic.

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I don't, no. I think worrying about potential people quickly descends into absurdity. I'm just trying to make sense of the premises of the hypothetical, of the loss of a zygote being tragic but not the formation of a chimera. You would have to consider the "tragedy" to be the loss of a specific genetic line, which would necessarily mean that the merging spouses would be just as tragic.

 

Fortunately, we're not purebred dog breeders here.

 

Thus, in the thought experiment, we preserve selfhood, and it's not tragic.

In a chimera, there's no selfhood involved, and it's not tragic.

 

But this leads to the other problem -- aborting a zygote isn't tragic either. When does a fetus gain selfhood?

 

I'd say that selfhood becomes an issue with a fetus when it has a nervous system capable of sensing pain and so on.

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Thus, in the thought experiment, we preserve selfhood, and it's not tragic.

In a chimera, there's no selfhood involved, and it's not tragic.

 

I disagree, in the chimera it is natural and therefor not "tragic". It is also largely unknown to the parents, and does not terminate the pregnancy (more on that next).

 

But this leads to the other problem -- aborting a zygote isn't tragic either. When does a fetus gain selfhood?

 

Says you. I know several couples that tried for years to get pregnant, and each miscarriage, no matter how early, was tragic.

 

I'd say that selfhood becomes an issue with a fetus when it has a nervous system capable of sensing pain and so on.

 

In this thought experiment let's assume for a moment that the zygote is a living human... is it's death not tragic because it feels no pain? Or is your determination of the level of tragedy instead dependent on your assessment of "selfhood" for other reasons?

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I disagree, in the chimera it is natural and therefor not "tragic". It is also largely unknown to the parents, and does not terminate the pregnancy (more on that next).

Many forms of death are "natural" but still tragic. A sudden unpreventable heart attack is quite natural, but still tragic. Also, you know, miscarriages, according to your own account...

 

Says you. I know several couples that tried for years to get pregnant, and each miscarriage, no matter how early, was tragic.

True. But was it tragic because a life had been lost, or because they had been hoping for a child and their hope just died? Imagine if they hadn't been trying for years, but didn't care at all -- then would it be tragic?

 

In this thought experiment let's assume for a moment that the zygote is a living human... is it's death not tragic because it feels no pain? Or is your determination of the level of tragedy instead dependent on your assessment of "selfhood" for other reasons?

 

No, I wouldn't say it's whether it can feel pain that matters. Rather, by the time it can feel pain, I'd assume its nervous system is sufficiently well-developed to grant it some measure of "selfhood."

Edited by Cap'n Refsmmat
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I disagree, in the chimera it is natural and therefor not "tragic". It is also largely unknown to the parents, and does not terminate the pregnancy (more on that next).

A death of a child can be natural too in the same sense (say, a child born with severe birth defects that dies despite our attempts) - and yet, this type of death is considered a tragic death, even when it's natural.

 

So it seems 'natural' is not a good enough description to convert death from 'tragic' to not-tragic and vise-versa.

 

That is not a consistent argument unless you would say that all natural deaths are not tragic. And do remember that cancer is natural. Consistency.

 

Says you. I know several couples that tried for years to get pregnant, and each miscarriage, no matter how early, was tragic.

Yes. I know some of those too. It was extremely tragic emotionally. It was less about the death of a person than it was about the death of a dream, and the failure to reach the aspiration of having children.

 

And since they want a child, it's also the aspect of the failure itself that is very difficult to handle.

 

And we must remember that a for many women (with a partner or without), discovering an unwanted pregnancy is tragic too. Whether she is a young woman whose life is going to be completely changed (was she going to be a famous scientist maybe and will have no money to study from now on? maybe she was going to cure the world of cancer and now needs to tend to a child she didn't want because the condom broke or her pills failed. She can be the most responsible woman and practice the most safest sex and still have flukes. This is tragic).

 

And can be tragic for the child, in case it's born to unwanting parents.

 

"Tragic" is really a subjective term here, obviously.

 

In this thought experiment let's assume for a moment that the zygote is a living human... is it's death not tragic because it feels no pain? Or is your determination of the level of tragedy instead dependent on your assessment of "selfhood" for other reasons?

jryan, what is your criteria?

 

You keep bouncing around from one criterion to the next whenever one fails. Tell us your criteria for this definition you made of "tragic death" and stick with it. Stop moving the goal posts whenever our claims show your criteria to be lacking.

 

~moo

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Says you. I know several couples that tried for years to get pregnant, and each miscarriage, no matter how early, was tragic.

Doubt it plays out in one's head so simply.

 

Wasn't it tragic because the couple's attempt to start a family ended? Oh honey, it'll be wonderful to raise a kid together....oh noooooooooooo! The sensation of tragedy hits -- and is real -- but it's mostly for one's plans of a new family together. I'm not being insensitive, just to the point.

 

I think even you'd raise an eyebrow if the couple were to extract a nulled zygote, have a viewing and/or funeral, dig a grave, keep pictures on the wall for memories -- or in photo albums.

 

So here's the real problem. Our society -- and the vast majority of people's families -- isn't motivated to do all the sacred ceremonies for a ruined pregnancy. However, what you expect implies that people should be hit with prison time for something most anyone wouldn't even bother to give funeral services.

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I think this thread actually ties in with the death penalty thread. I believe that the unborn child (even a fertilized egg) is human and a 'person' (whatever that means). But I don't believe that we each have an undeniable right to live.

 

I think the quality of all lives need to be weighed up before making a decision. So, for example, one could argue that a severely disabled child who would have a very low quality of life and cause an emotional, physical and financial burden on the parents, could be aborted. Or a child whose gestation could pose an unreasonable risk to the mother's life.

 

On the other hand, I think it is hard to argue that a healthy child should be aborted, at any time after fertilisation, since I don't think 9 months of pregnancy is an overly huge burden for the mother to bear. At least not enough to take someone's life.

 

I have actually changed my mind on this. I used to think that abortion was fine until the child had developed up to a level of complexity. But I think having my own child has changed my view on how much I think we should be willing to sacrifice for our children.

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