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!

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Blaine, I assume this cites it? It's over 500 pages, have you a page number? My efforts to use the book's search engine have been fruitless - ok, maybe a raisin, but then my computer has a mouse, so it might not have been --

@Blaine - can you narrow it down? What should we look for?

Blaine - you'll never guess what I ran across when I checked out your link (above) a little more thoroughly - a write-up in the book about one of our TA members, Hypatia Halfmoon:

http://archive.org/search.php?query=basic%20instincts%20AND%20babies

Primal Mothering In the Modern World, by Hygeia Halfmoon
"Hygeia Halfmoon truly knows and can articulate the most basic, primal needs of infants and children with insight, consistency, and brevity â which is exceedingly rare. She knows of what she speaks, especially in the areas of caring for babies in a society which does not readily understand or respect their most basic human needs. "When babies are born, they don't know what century it is, nor do they know on which continent they were born, nor the standards or rules of conduct imposed by outside...
Keywords: Childbirth; breastfeeding; homeschooling; fruitarianism; nutrition; parenting
Downloads: 881

Ain't that a kick in the head?!

I'm not sure how a baby's instincts equal a value. A value is the result of an evaluation, which is an intellectual process.

Okey-Dokey --

Naaah, better not - I was informed last night by a moderator that I had called one of our members "senile," when it should be obvious that I simply made a general statement of fact, with which no one beyond the age of forty can disagree.

I've been told that when senility creeps up on you, one tends to nod off at inappropriate times - case in point --

I'm not sure how I can be responsible for the assumptions of others, but I'd never call you that - anyway, it's time for my na

If that's true in some strictly technical way, they are still instincts in common parlance. Even so, I don't see how the distinction changes anything.

What do instincts have to do with a baby's value?

@Unseen. So, let me see if I am understanding you. Babies, the senile and insane, all incapable of considering the value of their own lives, have no value other than that provided by others. If I'm following you, if there is no one to value a baby, etc, then their life has no value. Where a baby etc have no one to value them, they may be dispensed with, perhaps slaughtered like a farm animal?

As a determinist, you do what it is in your nature to do. Just like the other animals? You say that accepting the value of survival after EVALUATION is a horse of a different colour, because of the choice we make. But you repeatedly say that as a determinist, you do what is in your nature. That 'choice' was not a choice was it, just you following your nature. You are failing to make clear how you are any different to any other meat automaton.

Now we have a greater understanding of the term parsimony, I believe you are being unparsimonious in labelling all other animals as meat automatons. It sounds, like Descartes, you see humans as special, apart from other species when in fact evolution shows us that we exist in a continuum.

Other creatures are capable of more than you allow.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_cognition

I fear your comments exhibit discrimination based on species. I am unsure whether dogs contemplate suicide. But as would be expected given an understanding of evolution, the sharp divide between those with dominion and the others, is a prejudice held to exploit.

Life does have an innate value even with brain death, but enormously less so. But the value it has does give us pause to stop and think what the right thing to do is in the interests of patient.

So, let me see if I am understanding you. Babies, the senile and insane, all incapable of considering the value of their own lives, have no value other than that provided by others. If I'm following you, if there is no one to value a baby, etc, then their life has no value. Where a baby etc have no one to value them, they may be dispensed with, perhaps slaughtered like a farm animal?

It would depend upon whether the baby, the senile person, or the insane person is capable of conducting a process of evaluation to arrive at a decision. When it comes to people who can't do that (fetuses, comatose people, senile people, and insane people), they are cared for by other people who place a value on their lives. If we didn't value their lives, they would be killed or allowed to die. I should think that's very obvious!

As a determinist, you do what it is in your nature to do. Just like the other animals? You say that accepting the value of survival after EVALUATION is a horse of a different colour, because of the choice we make. But you repeatedly say that as a determinist, you do what is in your nature. That 'choice' was not a choice was it, just you following your nature. You are failing to make clear how you are any different to any other meat automaton.

You got it. As a determinist I hold that while we make choices, we choose what we choose because there was no other choice supported by the entire state of affairs that led to the choice. Savvy? That choice is due to who we are our physical person and in terms of our brain state) and the influences on us at the time we make the choice. I know you'd like to think we can make the choice truly freely but I have no idea what truly freely could possibly mean. Randomized perhaps? If that feels like freedom to you, more randomization to you. There is no middle ground, unless you believe that God gave you free will.

Now we have a greater understanding of the term parsimony, I believe you are being unparsimonious in labelling all other animals as meat automatons. It sounds, like Descartes, you see humans as special, apart from other species when in fact evolution shows us that we exist in a continuum.

Well, people are basically meat automatons, too. Isn't that what a determinist would believe?

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