So I was having an online discussion with my younger brother a little more than a week ago about abortion. Being a devout and pro-life Catholic he held the opinion that life starts at conception, that it a fertilized egg is human and should be treated as human because it is a unique life different than the host parent. I have also been reading bio-ethics and many different places on the debate and they all seem to revolve around trying to justify scientifically what I can best describe as trying to answer the question, "when is an embryo tantamount to a human being?" 

     Of course, that one question gave way to the larger question, "What makes us human?" Where do we define the limits of humanity? Is it strictly in a biological sense as in form, shape, and structure? Is it in potential in the case of infants? Is it in behavior; could someone act in a way that they are no longer considered, if even for a moment, a human? Is it in ability whether physical or mental? Is humanity a transitive property; in other words, is it a label that can be taken away or does it last regardless once it has been gained? Are their varying degrees of humanity where a person could be considered "more human" than someone else?

I am very curious to hear all of your thoughts and ideas!

Tags: humanity

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I think it's safe to say that Suzanne is back --

Jean-Paul Sartre defined imagination as, "the ability to think of what is not." Humans, to the best of our knowledge, are the only animals that have the capacity to envision something that is not present or something which does not exist, but is merely possible.

Don't memories and dreams involve envisioning something that is not present or does not exist? Animals can learn, and when they learn that must involve some sort of memory. A sleeping dog will run in place, which seems to indicate it is envisioning a chase.

I'm not buying your limitation of Sartre's definition. The definition seems good. Limiting it to humans seems dubious.

Genetically we share 99 percent of our DNA with chimps and bonobos, and reading about the behavioral characteristics of both groups are interesting when compared to human behavior. Overall, the more I’ve been reading about taxonomy, genetics, and human/animal behavior, the less I see a difference between us and the rest of the creatures we share the planet with.

If I was going to point out one thing that makes humans different from the rest of Earth’s creatures, it would be the capacity for self-delusion.

I’m not going to weigh in on the abortion issue.

"the less I see a difference between us and the rest of the creatures we share the planet with."

I agree. That's why I find speciesism ethically unjustifiable. Speaking as a veggie, I also agree on the self-delusion issue. It stops us from considering the interests of other animals to the point that we happily condone mass cruetly and suffering.

The ability of vegetable-eaters to turn any discussion into a discussion of their favorite obsession is actually quite hilarious. I'm hoping for that day when it's proven that plants feel pain (in their own way) so that you suckers can starve to death.

lol, right on cue. I'm interested in ethics, wouldn't call it an obsession though. Another ill-thought out argument that perfectly illustrates self-delusion. Thanks buddy.

Did I offer an argument?

Yes

Okay, what are the premises and what is the conclusion?

We have a very large and growing garden. Yes, we eat veges, but I figure, that with us, many of our plants find a place for propagation, appreciation, and protection. There are several families now that have garlic, potatos, herbs, etc that I have propagated and now gifted out. Could be considered a Win-Win, plants and us.

What makes us human? Well bacteria for the most part - in a very literal sense !

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