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!
I accept that avoiding death and danger is valuable, but in terms of the species, and even then blindly. Values like that and the human's conscious accepting of a value AFTER EVALUATION is a horse of a different color. It's a choice. Animals can be viewed as meat automatons. Animals may do things humans can see as reckless, but I don't think anybody thinks that an animal, after due consideration, can decide that its life isn't worth the pain or trouble and decide to commit suicide. You don't see cocker spaniels on the 20th floor ledge deciding whether to jump.
A baby's value comes from others until he or she becomes old enough to give him/herself a value. The senile and insane get their value from those who have feelings for them. If nobody cared about them, they'd be left to die. But there are always the do-gooders so there isn't much chance that their lives will be totally without value.
Does a life have innate value such that even if they are brain dead? If they have friends or relatives who hold out (probably irrational) hope that the person they knew will miraculously reappear, there's that. The government can decide that offing such people is a bad thing, which gives them a kind of value through the back door.
RE: "A baby's value comes from others until he or she becomes old enough to give him/herself a value."
Not entirely true (= partially false) - I learned in my very first basic Psych course that the impulse to suckle and a fear of heights are a baby's two demonstrable natural insticts.
fear of heights? I always learned the Moro response or reflex and suckling. That they are afraid of heights is interesting. Can you explain how we know this or provide a link?
No Kara, that was, as I mentioned earlier, from my most basic Psych class, years ago, and I have no idea as to the name of the text book. I DO recall that the experiment from which the data was taken, involved placing babies on glass, or otherwise transparent, coffee tables.
And who knows, they may have backpeddled on that since then - I mean, when I grew up, Pluto was a planet --
This is an interesting article:
I think what archy is talking about is the Gibson and Walker experiment. The following video is old, but interesting. My three month old freaked over a feather, and I will still balk at a piece of old rope.
Though as I said, it's been awhile, that does sound like the experiment I read about.
She has risen!
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:
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
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.