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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Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play --?

You're loading the dice by taking on "for some reason" all the time. How about simply...

I imagine noticing an event. I notice an event. An event is noticed.

Note, BTW, that the last two sentences are the same sentences, one of them simply the passive form of the other.

"Loading the dice"  please explain more.

It seems to imply some underlying covert cause for things which, after all, are merely coincidental. The hand of God? Fate?

I load the dice. I cause things. QED

Sorry, not into big saggy breast. I keep thinking about all that sweaty skin on skin between the breast and the chest.

I remember a conversation with friends of mine in HS. One suggested that the reason humans get unhappy , depressed, and angry so easily is that we have too many brain cells. We have excess processing capacity,I and we are a little thin on knowing 'when' to apply it. It is almost always 'ON'. A bad piece of code that is in a closed loop that is always looking for new inputs, crapy outputs.    

@Kris Feenstra

I'm starting afresh due to getting tired of trying to find where to post to keep our posts in consecutive order.


We should eat less meat, but giving it up entirely is unnatural. Again, there is no particular value to what is natural here. It should be sufficient simply to assess what a healthy diet for a human is. That will certainly be affected by what is natural, but it is unnecessary to limit the scope of our thinking or practices to such a consideration.

It's obviously possible to live without meat in one's diet, but to do so requires some standing on one's head in terms of calculating how much of this and that vegetable matter you need to substitute for meat protein and the other sub-nutrients that come along with meat. However, eating a diet with both meat and vegetable matter generally takes the calculus out of it. The body knows how to get what it needs out of such a diet effortlessly. That said, it's true our diet is generally out of balance in many ways. But taking meat out makes things unnecessarily difficult.

While it would seem lions can't manufacture artificial food due to not having hands...

I don't know.  I think taurine is what they require.  Humans can synthesize taurine (without eating meat); lions cannot.  It's eat meat or die for them.  In your scenario, I would expect lions to give ethical consideration to the meat they do eat if they had the ability to do so, but that's not strictly a carnivore's dilemma.  Anyone who eats food should give such considerations when they can afford to do so.  It's just that with vegetarians they have to consider ecological impacts (which do also impact other animal species) rather than the screaming of murdered carrots.

If it's meat or die for them, and they are natural born killers on the one hand but beings with a conscience on the other, then don't they have a duty to starve to death?

All predators scavenge. Scavenging is a natural supplement to predation.

I am simply saying that we aren't other species.  There are all sorts of variations in food acquisition when it comes to animals.  When it comes to food, the behaviour of modern h. sapiens sapiens is demonstrably unique.

Everything is unique in some respect. Thinking we're even more special than that is tantamount to agreeing that God gave us nature to manage.

The issue I am having is that using a non-speciesist definition of natural, we have no cross reference other than humans for how a developed intelligent species naturally acts.

I don't think the appeal to nature works, because as I have said, then anything a person does in that case is natural.  It is only different then because we are the only species at this level of development, so the only species doing what is natural for that level.

We can't say what it would be like for a carnivorous species in such a circumstance, however I would assume they would use a lot of confirmation bias to defend why they ought to eat meat and it be moral because humans aren't even carnivores and they still practice justifying behavior of that sort.  But that is just a guess.

Also, it seems that this argument for why one ought not be a vegetarian is  being leaned to rest on the idea that it is okay to eat the meat of something that is not the same species than we are if it is too inconvenient to not.  The problem with this, is that it is then also okay to eat the meat of persons of a different species, because the argument rests too strongly on the practical aspect, and doesn't provide room for a moral one, as the argument rests so far.

One thing for sure, what makes us human is our ability to discuss scientifically what is and must be on the one hand, but on the other hand our ability to discuss philosophically what can be and should be.

In this sense, I don't see yet how science can define what should be, except in terms of how it can obviously enhance what humans require for survival and health.

So I see two major, distinct abilities that make humans unique: 1) to invent and use science to describe and enhance our natural existence; 2) to wisely choose how to use resources (and science) above and beyond our own, personal survival requirements. (I think Clay Shirky has written about the latter as "Cognitive Surplus"?)

In everyday life, we seem to imply that it's our frailties and flaws that make us human: "I'm only human," "to err is human," etc. When do we say "To be great is human" or "To be kind is human"? Sure, some people are great or kind, but they don't seem to define us in any way we actually talk about, do they?

The human cognition is unique, because it enables only humans to experience so much individuality, that they can prefer to refuse to breed.  Human cognition allows us to consider breeding as irrational harm on women's bodies.  Animals breed by instinct.   No animals are capable to remain consciously childfree.   

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