>Less than animals, still?

>SR answers “Humans less than animals?” by arguing for his own personally held view (or even a “consensus” of personally held views) with minds such as Peter Singer and H. Tristan Englehardt. The latter’s qualifications for person hood moves well into childhood.

If you move away from what we know of embryology, comparative anatomy, and the fact of our own knowledge that these are the children of the only species having this conversation (not all, and not all the time – but why is that relevant when none of the animals will ever mature or develop the ability to do so?) then you turn the definition into a personally held viewpoint or opinion. From there comes definition by raw, brute power or the threat of same.

Robert P. George has answered all your questions,:

George pounces on the person/body dualism implicit in this remark and forces the class to confront the implications of affirming it: “If ‘I’ was not an embryo or fetus, neither was ‘I’ once an infant,” he says. “To have destroyed the fetus or infant that later became ‘me’ would not have been to destroy me. So at what point then do we say ‘I’ began to exist? At what point do we draw the line on killing?”

George then drops a cerebral smart bomb: “If dualism is true, the answer won’t be ‘birth,’” he notes. Will it be six months after birth? A year? Two years? Three? After all, when does a child achieve thoughts, beliefs, and desires?

Pro-choice students must now confront an uncomfortable fact: The logical implications of their position entail believing that killing three-year-old children is morally acceptable.

more than once:

But the potentiality of the human embryo, like that of the human infant, is precisely the potentiality to mature as the kind of being it already is — a human being.

and yet once again:

As Sandel himself implicitly concedes, we value human beings precisely because of the kind of entities they are. (That is why he has staked his entire argument on the proposition that human embryos are different in kind from human beings.) Indeed, that is why we consider all human beings to be equal in basic dignity and human rights. By contrast, we value oak trees because of certain accidental attributes they have, such as their magnificence, their special beauty, or a certain grandeur that has taken perhaps seventy-five or a hundred years to achieve. If oak trees were valuable in virtue of the kind of entity they are, then it would follow that it is just as unfortunate to lose an acorn as an oak tree (though our emotional reaction to the two different kinds of loss might, for a variety of possible reasons, nevertheless differ). Sandel’s purported analogy works only if he disregards the key proposition asserted by opponents of embryo-killing: that all human beings, irrespective of age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency, possess equal and intrinsic dignity by virtue of what (i.e., the kind of entity) they are, not in virtue of any accidental characteristics, which can come and go, and which are present in human beings in varying degrees. Oak trees and acorns are not equally valuable, because the basis for their value is not what they are but precisely those accidental characteristics by which oak trees differ from acorns. We value the ugly, decaying oak tree less than the magnificent, still flourishing one; and we value the mature, magnificent oak more than the small, still growing one. But we would never say the same about human beings.

and one more:

George finds fault with such scenarios for many reasons, including the fact that the little girl “would experience terror and horrifying pain, while the embryos would not.” For the same reason, he says, “one might rescue the little girl rather than several terminally ill adults in deep comas without denying that the adult patients are human beings who ought not to be killed and dismembered for their body parts.”

You missed the implication that it’s just as significant that our children can cause us to love as it is that they be able to love.

I might identify and feel more concern for someone that I do know than for a stranger across the world. But that is not relevant to the right not to be killed or enslaved. It does not mean that I do not see the two as deserving equal legal and societal protection. That is part of the nature that is human. The woman in my local battered women’s shelter is just as deserving as my daughter, and the woman in Iran is just as deserving as either.

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)


2 thoughts on “>Less than animals, still?

  1. >This is probably the point at which everyone involved begins to endlessly repeat the same arguements :)I understand your position clearly now – that rights are an inherent property of humans, and not derived from their capabilities. But I still dont agree with it.For one, it still doesn't solve the animal conflict satisfactorially – it only paints over it and dismisses everything non-human as meaningless. Defining away the problem. Its clearly an immoral act to kill the cat which I can currently hear shreding my expensive sofa, but nowhere near as immoral as killing a human newborn. So its not black-and-white. Humans are a special case of animal, so idealy should be considered in the same framework.For another, all the emphesis on 'potential' ignores the clearly relivent progressive development. The oak-tree might actually be a better model after all, abhorent as it may seem to some.And it still leaves the problem of IVF – socially, no longer seen as a hugely immoral act. But it does lead to a few excess embryos and these are usually – not always – not needed until well past their shelf-life (Five years, if I recall correctly. Its a legal limit rather than one in the freezing process – its just judged too unsafe to risk past that time, as little is known about the effects of long-term preservation on human embryos). So, according to the 'potential' view, IVF means serial murder. As IFV is not judged immoral by legal process or social concensus, any framework which does not permit it must be flawed. In something as subjective as morality, a widespread concensus is an authority hard to overrule. Thats ignoring the further complicating issue of PGD altogether. The pro-life camp's own equivilent of George's third paragraph.The 'potential' or 'human from conception' views offer clarity and simplicity. But it is a false clarity and an over-simplification to draw a sharp transition to replace a gradual curve.Its been good to debate with you, Life. Though beyond this point the conversation will likely degenerate into each of us repeating ourselves while ignoring the other 🙂 I could enjoy getting to know you outside of the context of debate sometime. suricou at blueyonder co uk, if you feel like a chat as friends rather than adversaries.

    Posted by Suricou Raven | April 30, 2006, 1:13 pm
  2. >SR, if legal, social, or widespread consensus can trump human rights, then there is no possibility for any rights reform. Countless descendants of slaves and virtually all women benefitted from the recognition that they were human. By the standard you give,the status of current slaves, the women of Saudi Arabia and similar countries, and the child aborted in the third trimester in the US can't be changed any more than that of the IVF embryo.The bottom line is that if humans do not have the right not to be killed simply because their parents were human, then there is no such right. If there is no right not to be killed, then there are no rights. As with the harvesters of embryos, anyone who wants to infringe on the rights of others just has to be willing to kill.BTW, I don't believe there's any legal limit to the IVF embryo in the US – we have one girl who was implanted 13 years after she was frozen.

    Posted by LifeEthics.org | May 1, 2006, 6:40 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

If the post is missing: take the “www.” out of the url

@bnuckols Twitter




%d bloggers like this: