Personhood

baby1.jpgSome pro-choicers concede that the unborn are human beings but claim that they haven’t achieved “personhood.”  They refer to them as “potential persons” or a “potential humans.” 

Such a thing does not exist.  Something is either a human being or it is not.  Adding “potential” as a qualifier to dehumanize the unborn just helps people rationalize the evil of abortion, much like Jews were dehumanized in Nazi Germany and still are in some Arab cultures today, and how blacks were dehumanized in the U.S.

If pro-choicers want to rationalize that the unborn are just potential humans, then they can just have “potential abortions.”

The definition of personhood usually involves some reference to self-awareness.  Not only is this definition hard to pin down, it is arbitrary.  Who got to decide that this was the paramount life standard?   In theory, it would put us all at risk.  Do you have self-awareness when you sleep?  What if someone is in a coma?  (Oops, bad example).   Personhood is a philosophical notion, not a scientific one, so anyone basing their views purely on science shouldn’t be using it.

There is also no consensus on the definition, which gives a big hint that perhaps we should not be using this man-made criterion to determine whether “something” should be able to be destroyed or not.  Peter Singer, a professional “ethicist,” thinks you should be able to kill babies if that will maximize everyone’s theoretical happiness (except the baby’s, of course). 

Note how those in power get to decide who is a person.  When one group gets to decide whether another group has personhood, bad things happen (slavery, the Holocaust, genocide, abortion, disabled people, etc.).  The reasoning in the Dred Scott case (that Blacks weren’t persons) is eerily similar to the personhood reasoning put forth by pro-choicers.

The unborn are human beings.  Just because they are smaller, less developed, dependent on others and are in a different environment doesn’t mean they are fair game to be destroyed.

Update: Right after this posted I came across an article titled Activists Want Chimp Declared a ‘Person.’  Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

If you aren’t sure when life begins, you should err on the side of life.

Advertisements

48 thoughts on “Personhood”

  1. Neil,

    What I’ve heard in scientific agrguments is that a person must be:

    1) human (having human DNA)
    2) Able to live independently from another’s body (viable), or total medical assistance.

    Personhood is an interesting question, because in legal terms, a corporation is a person

    Whereas casaually, most people seem to use Sapience as the judge (animals can’t be people because they are merely sentient)

    But I guess the question is: Where does the sould lie? In the heart? In the brain? In the spleen? The left big toe? the Chinese believe that it is in the lungs. The closest thing I reacall from the Bible would be that too…God breathed his breath into Adam and he lived. When does the soul enter the body? When does it leave?

    Does the Bible address these things? Not that I reacall.

    While scientific positions on this is not very clear (even with evolution, at what point can out ancestors be said to be “human”? We have many different stages of hominid, each with at least one important transitional development, that is “more human than the last”.

    I believe the Bible is even less clear, but if it is more clear, I would love to have it explained to me. Clearly, the Bible says that the soul exsists before the body, so when do the body and the soul become one?

    Like

  2. Ah, abortion: the great civil rights issue of our time.

    Blacks weren’t persons, because they aren’t intelligent. Women, likewise, weren’t really people – and when married, were subsumed into their husband’s personhood. Jews? Not really people, either.

    The echoes of every great civil rights struggle are here. I just wish the Left would realise that the logical consequenes of their reasoning leads us to the massacre of the comatose, mentally retarded, physically disabled, and anyone on life support.

    Like

  3. Really? Just lefties? Bush’s “reasoning” led to the termination of a child on life support over the objection of the mother…under the requirements of a law that he signed saying that someone didn’t have the right to have their life sustained if they couldn’t pay for it.

    This happened during the Terry Schaivo thing in Florida.

    So, “lefties” reasoning that sustaining someone’s life is unecessary because they have no higher brain function (indeed, much of the brain matter that would support the higher function was re-absorbed by the body and could never be regained) is unsound…

    but “conservative” reasoning that sustaining someone’s life artificially because they have no cash flow is perfectly sound?

    I think there’s enough room in this subject for questioning everyone’s ethics.

    Like

  4. “Able to live independently from another’s body (viable), or total medical assistance.”

    I understand that now babies can live with infant formula, but before that age, I would assume that babies had to be breastfed, and therefore, they did not live independently from another’s body.

    Like

  5. Chance,

    Can they breath on their own? Digest and metabolize food on their own? Really, I think you understood that. There’s no point in having the converstation if you couldn’t understand that, and also no point in the coversation if you are going to intentionally misrepresent what I say.

    Like

  6. FWIW, I am an Anesthesiologist who works with Obstetricians and Neonatologists. Remarkable advances in neoatal medicine have been made in keeping tiny tots alive. With respect to embryology, I offer a few facts that can be easily corroborated in any embryology or obstetrics text:
    The earliest that a woman can know with any certainty of a viable pregnancy is at 5 weeks.
    The fetus is completely formed – with a human appearance – at the end of 8 weeks, the embryonic period.
    Fetal heart tones can be heard after 8 weeks.

    Those who wonder “what about if the mother’s life is in jeopardy?” the leading cause of maternal death is hemorrhage….in the third trimester! The treatment of choice in these cases is the delivery of the baby, not abortion. To the best of my knowledge no such “life threatening” circumstances exist in necessitating an abortion to preserve the life of the woman.
    There are those who ask, “what about the emotional well being of a woman who is ask/coerced/forced to maintain her pregnancy?”, never seem to worry themselves about the emotional well being of women who have elected to have abortions only to be distraught and regretfull years down the line.

    In direct reponse to Teresa:
    I troubled with the “personhood” definition you presented in that those who are on dialysis or left ventricular assists devices – just to name two scenarios that immediately come to mind -would fail to qualify.

    Biblically, one of my favorite psalms is Psalms139. I believe Psalm139:13-19 (recalling bits and pieces from memory, …fearfully, and wonderfully made…secret place…) addresses your question. A little help from those more knowledgablr than myself would be greatly appreciated.

    Respectfully,
    Joseph

    Like

  7. Joseph,

    Dialysis is not total medical assistance. Nether is an artificial heart valve.

    I’m amazed at your aasertion that abortion is never indicated for the health of the mother. Are you saying that pregnant women never develop renal failure? Advanced aggressive cancer requiring immediate chemotherapy? Heart problems that would cause danger if the pregnancy is continued? Suicidal depression form having a pregnancy accidentally occure shortly after the delivery of a previous child?

    What magic is there that prevents these things from happening to pregnant women, when it appears they can happen to anyone at any time?

    Like

  8. Great post Neil. I’ve actually heard stories of women with life threatening diseases that got pregnant and the baby saved them. Interesting how we can explain the most horrible things away with “science”.

    God bless.

    Michelle

    Like

  9. Great post! Abortion is something I feel very strongly against and am saddened by the way it takes place in this country. I loved your last line – “If you aren’t sure when life begins, you should err on the side of life.”

    Like

  10. “Can they breath on their own? Digest and metabolize food on their own? Really, I think you understood that. There’s no point in having the converstation if you couldn’t understand that, and also no point in the coversation if you are going to intentionally misrepresent what I say”

    Even though you are on a self-imposed time out, I thought I would respond for others’ benefit. My point is that the difference between being a newborn and a fetus is quantitative, not qualitative. Both depend on another for life, so I’m just saying that just because a fetus depends on another being, even if it is to a greater extent, does not significantly separate it from a newborn. You see a difference between the two, fair enough, but I’m just going off your definition “Able to live independently from another’s body (viable), or total medical assistance.” Obviously you don’t see this as an absolute, but a question of degree. So, where is the cutoff point?

    Like

  11. Teresa,

    With all due respect, PLEASE check your facts with the Terry Schiavo case. You are sorely, sorely mistaken.

    Terry’s family wanted to continue to pay for her health care and wanted to continue to support her and hope for a recovery. She was not abandoned by people who could not pay for her life; her husband wanted her dead so he could marry his longtime mistress. Terry’s parents even offered him a divorce if they would be able to take care of her.

    Again, check your facts.

    Secondly, I have not heard much of the law to which you refer. Please give a name (and, ideally, a date of signing and the Senators or Congressmen who introducted the bill). Also, particulars might be nice: is this futile care, where the individual has no hope of recovery? Last time I checked, the vast majority (i.e. over 99%) of fetuses will go on to become healthy infants if abortion is not an issue – they are far from “futile.”

    If you are referring to the Texas Advanced Directives Act, I would again STRONGLY encourage you to check your facts and lay the blame where it belongs. I’ll shamelessly promote my blog, but here is my post (and my research) on the issue:
    http://helvidiuspachyderm.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/texas-futile-care-law-backfires/

    It was the law of unintended consequences (i.e. the legislators were unaware that ten days was not enough) and was a RADICAL, RADICAL improvement over the preexisting law. Saying that it isn’t a pro-life move is completely disingenuous.

    If “living independently” is a requirement for “personhood,” I take it that Abigail and Brittany Hensel are not persons, correct?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_and_Brittany_Hensel

    Like

  12. Teresa:

    Thank you for your response and questions. Eventhough you are on hiatus, I feel that you deserve the respect to have your questions answered.

    Dialysis is not total medical assistance. Nether is an artificial heart valve.
    I suspect where we disagreee is over what is meant by total medical assistance. My perspective is that in the examples I raised off the top of my head is that death is imminent if a patient is without dialysis or an LVAD. You appear to use this same perspective later to – erroneously -justify a woman having an abortion.

    I’m amazed at your aasertion that abortion is never indicated for the health of the mother. Are you saying that pregnant women never develop renal failure? Advanced aggressive cancer requiring immediate chemotherapy? Heart problems that would cause danger if the pregnancy is continued? Suicidal depression form having a pregnancy accidentally occure shortly after the delivery of a previous child?

    Please re-read my post, for I did not make the assertion that you claim. Women are able to develop renal failure during pregnancy. However this is usually a complication associated with pre-eclampsia than a primary diagnosis. Pre-eclampsia usually does not manifest till after the 20th week of gestation. Again, the treatment of choice is not abortion.

    Advanced aggressive cancer requiring immediate chemotherapy is a convenient, contrived example for those who support abortion but know absolutely nothing about medicine. There have been many women who have elected to forgo chemo treatments during pregnancy. (Again, I am not an obstetrician – and I am out of town on a family emergency – but will be more than happy to do a literature search as well as confer with my Ob-Gyn colleagues when I return home. I’ll do likewise with heart problems. One thing that I do know is that patients with chronic illnesses such as a heart condition whereby pregnancy would/could jeopardize their health, are very conscientious to aviod such circumstances.)

    With respect to suicidal depression after “having a pregnancy accidentally occur shortly after the delivery of a previous child” I do not know enough to comment on other than my wife did not have that experience.

    Neil, Teresa, et al, thank you for the indulgence.

    Respectfully,
    Joseph

    Like

  13. Joseph, I think you’ve done a wonderful job of explaining the medical side of it. I have heard other medical professionals say that there is rarely, if ever, an instance where an abortion would save the life of the mother but it’s nice to have you explain certain instances so well. Thank you!

    Like

  14. Re. the question about what the Bible says about personhood: There are quite a few verses referring to the unborn (Psalm 139:13-14 is my favorite – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.)

    Do these tell us the precise moment the soul “enters the body?” (Souls are by definition immaterial) No. Is that critical to making a pro-life argument? No. In fact, the one claiming that personhood is the criterion for life should be the one to make a case for that.

    Again, who gets to decide that personhood is the criterion for whether someone gets to live? And who decides when that begins?

    Like

  15. I hate to play devil’s advocate, not literally, and mention Numbers 5:18-22.
    This seems to me like an abortion.

    Num 5:18-22
    And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse:
    And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse:
    But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband:
    Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;
    And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.

    Any comments?

    Like

    1. According to a study by The Magpie Trial Collaborative Group, 58% of women with pre-eclampsia benefit from the ingestion of Magnesium Sulfate or what the dictionary terms ‘Bitter Water’.

      In one occurrence the Hebrew Targum calls for water from Solomon’s Molten Sea, be used. So, if a priest were testing an accused woman of adultery, the Magnesium Sulfate in Solomon’s mitvah water would likely give her relief from her eclampsia and a routine pregnancy would result.

      Coming back to explain the priests’ intentions in Numbers.
      A women trying to conceal a pregnancy from her jealous and otherwise itinerate husband would have had great difficulty hiding an unwanted pregnancy half way through. And 20 weeks is where 75% of eclampsia shows.

      If all went well, the priest would effectively cure her and prove her innocence at the same time. No harm done, and no blame for the woman. Blameless in the law.

      The husband may still have his doubts, however and choose to remain perplexed or upset. A husband married to a known virgin might be puzzled, to say the least, after witnessing the outcome of such a test. But we know from scripture Joseph remained faithful to his Mary and such a trial would have only strengthened their bond.

      Note: Numbers also refers to the ‘woman’s thighs rotting’ and this sounds undeniably like edema (another indication of pre-eclampsia).

      If any of this is helpful, I would enjoy hearing from you. My email address is Stevesky@mac.com. I am Christian by professing and Jewish by inheritance.

      Like

  16. Hi Voice – playing devil’s adovcate is fine, but I guess I don’t see the connection. The context of the passage is testing for unfaithfulness, which God took rather seriously. This doesn’t sound like an abortion to me. It doesn’t sound like pregnancy, either, though it does refer to the belly swelling.

    Other thoughts?

    Like

  17. This is actually a comment from Theobromophile which got caught up in my filter for some reason. Once it was liberated it fell in the middle somewhere so I’m re-posting it here:
    =======================================
    Teresa,

    With all due respect, PLEASE check your facts with the Terry Schiavo case. You are sorely, sorely mistaken.

    Terry’s family wanted to continue to pay for her health care and wanted to continue to support her and hope for a recovery. She was not abandoned by people who could not pay for her life; her husband wanted her dead so he could marry his longtime mistress. Terry’s parents even offered him a divorce if they would be able to take care of her.

    Again, check your facts.

    Secondly, I have not heard much of the law to which you refer. Please give a name (and, ideally, a date of signing and the Senators or Congressmen who introducted the bill). Also, particulars might be nice: is this futile care, where the individual has no hope of recovery? Last time I checked, the vast majority (i.e. over 99%) of fetuses will go on to become healthy infants if abortion is not an issue – they are far from “futile.”

    If you are referring to the Texas Advanced Directives Act, I would again STRONGLY encourage you to check your facts and lay the blame where it belongs. I’ll shamelessly promote my blog, but here is my post (and my research) on the issue:
    http://helvidiuspachyderm.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/texas-futile-care-law-backfires/

    It was the law of unintended consequences (i.e. the legislators were unaware that ten days was not enough) and was a RADICAL, RADICAL improvement over the preexisting law. Saying that it isn’t a pro-life move is completely disingenuous.

    If “living independently” is a requirement for “personhood,” I take it that Abigail and Brittany Hensel are not persons, correct?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_and_Brittany_Hensel

    Like

  18. Voice – You call yourself a voice of reason and then drag some text from the Bible into the discussion? Please, people support whatever their views, hatred, love, kindness, bitterness, murder, etc., by quoting the Bible.

    Pulling the Bible into any discussion is certainly not using reason.

    How’s this for reasoned thought: It says a great deal about a society that cares more about “instant gratification” than the children that are the result of such activities.

    Like

  19. I come down somewhat differently from Theobromophile on the Terry Schiavo case. I agree the facts do not support the idea that cost had anything to do with the issue and thank theo for pointing out the facts.

    I disagree however, that her husband wanted her dead so he could marry his longtime mistress. Her husband spoke up about Terry’s wishes long before he became involved with this other woman. We can all guess about his true motives and several people have guessed. As someone who has been in a similar situation, I prefer not to judge the husband and give him the benefit of the doubt. My motives were questioned by some people involved and it hurt me deeply and only made my job much more difficult.

    One point that has always bothered me is that conservatives (I count myself in that group) usually vote for spousal rights over anyone else and usually vote for states’ rights. In this case, they threw both of those to the wind.

    Like

  20. Some pro-choicers concede that the unborn are human beings but claim that they haven’t achieved “personhood.”

    Sounds like more of a political nuance rather than anything rooted in science, law or any other realiy. Sort of like the concept of “pre emncipation proclimation days” where the black man (Negro) was valued as a partial value of a white man. I forget the fraction, maybe someone can help me out with that……………….. Some sort of reduced “personhood”

    Of course the statement above that says that “some pro lifers believe” this is based on the fact that the others don’t even attribute humaness to the fetus at all. . . . . Next Stop Lauderdale

    Like

  21. 3/5th of a person, Steve. That was only so the agricultural states could get more Congressional representation without acknowledging slaves as being full citizens.

    Then again, we did the same thing to women: they were enumerated in the Census, but did not (and, unlike children, would not ever) vote.

    Like

  22. “Pulling the Bible into any discussion is certainly not using reason.”

    Mark, I’m not sure I follow. If I’m arguing with a non-Christian then I sometimes refrain from Biblical references (usually there are plenty of secular arguments against something like abortion or “gay marriage.”

    But for Christians there is nothing more relevant than the Bible. Do people sometimes abuse the Bible? Yes, but that isn’t a reason not to use it.

    Like

  23. To corrorborate Neil [who I agree with on this issue]

    1 Timothy 3:16-17 [NAB]

    All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

    Like

  24. That quote you have at the bottom says it all. One of the only things I liked about the recent Republican debate was Duncan Hunter quoting Reagan on that exact quote of erring on the side of life. You can never go wrong when that is your approach.

    Like

  25. Hi LMC – I didn’t realize Reagan said that. Now I’m really glad I quoted him!

    Some people may try to dismiss that quote because it seems too simple. But I think it is sound and defensible. I know when life begins (conception), but if someone claims they don’t know when it begins then perhaps they should be safe and try our definition.

    Like

  26. I used that verse because it seems to imply a therapeutic abortion.
    I think it’s because I’m in the middle of the debate, not particularly enamored of “pro abortion rights”, but not sure that I’d like to have the option taken away by the state.

    Like

  27. Hi Voice – I guess I still don’t see how that verse implies any type of abortion, but I’m probably repeating myself.

    Re. being in the middle – Do you find it tough to stay there? It seems like one would tend to shift to one side or the other. If it is murder, then it seems like you’d want that option to be taken away by the state. But if it isn’t immoral, then what would be wrong with abortion rights?

    Like

  28. Neil,

    Many people in the middle (especially older ones) remember life before legal abortion. Many women aborted anyway, and they destroyed their bodies. In short, making it illegal does not make it substantially less rare, just substantially less safe.

    I can see why, from a public policy standpoint, someone could be in the middle. Personally, though, I think there’s ways to allow women to never be in that situation anyway (i.e. abstinence, birth control, DV laws, child support laws, et cetera), and, harsh as it sounds, I don’t shed many tears for a person who doesn’t care enough about her bodily integrity and health to protect her body (via abstinence or marital sex) in the first place.

    Like

  29. theobro……… “Many people in the middle (especially older ones) remember life before legal abortion. ”

    I am one that remembers. Around town here (Columbus OH) you could notice billboards advertising save & legal abortions (in New York). I know girls that went there for that purpose and some more than once. My view of the “current” debate on abortion is not so much concerning the legality, but that of jurisdiction.

    Those that are in favor of the overturning of Roe v. Wade (such as myself) are so for many different or even multiple reasons. The first stop on that path for me is the bastardization of the Constitution to force the “universal rigrt to abortion” under the “right to privacey” slant on the Constution. We know that is a joke.

    Second, I guess I am saying that in some wierd sense I am Pro Choice but ONLY in the context that I would kick the question back to the various states to “choose” what their laws in this area will be. I would say that the “pro choicers” shouldn’t have much to worry about if it is the will of the people to have “choice” in the law. In such case the states will affirm the abortion laws an they will be carried out as safe as they are now, but maybe not quite as convenient in some cases………but one battle at a time. . . . . . . . . Next Stop Lauderdale

    Like

  30. Steve,

    You’re absolutely right. Medical care has always been a state issue. Judges have to stand the Constitution on its head and make up new jurisprudence in order to “follow” Roe and its progeny.

    It always gets to me how pro-choicers (i.e. pro-abortionists) claim that the majority of Americans support abortion rights and then also claim that abortion rights should not be put to a vote. (Considering that the fetuses in question aren’t old enough to vote, I find it appalling that we would “vote” on the rights of others who cannot so vote, but pro-choicers seem to take a different tack… that we can’t vote on the basic human right to commit infanticide.)

    Voting also removes the contention from the debate – it is seen as fair, just, and legitimate. I’m very happy, for example, that my right to vote, as a woman, is guaranteed by the Nineteenth Amendment and not by an interpretation of the Fourteenth that could be overturned at any moment. No one argues over women’s suffrage, because, well, it was determined by legislative process.

    Grrrr!

    Like

  31. The problems with racist and sexist atrocities is not that they denied that some humans are not persons, but that they had no logical criteria by which to back this up, only prejudices.

    Specifically, I ascribe to the view that it is not just self-awareness, but also the ability to value one’s own life, that make a person (self-awareness is nonetheless a useful sub-criterion). This is because I contend that the only thing that is wrong with death is being forced to do it against your will, and from that I can reason that because an embryo/foetus/neonate is not able to make such judgements about their life (hasn’t acquired that ability), no wrong can be done by painlessly ending that life.

    Self-awareness is an ability, like the ability to speak French. It is something we develop and can lose. Even when we are so engrossed in a task that we become aware of nothing else, not even our own existence, we still have the ability to be self-aware. When we go to sleep, we still have the ability to be self-aware. Just as when somebody is not currently speaking French (but can), or is asleep, we could still accurately describe them as a French-speaking person. Likewise, a person who is not currently exhibiting personhood may still be a person if they have the ability to be self-aware.

    The same analogy can be used in the context of abortion. I cannot speak French, but I could learn. Hence, I am not a French-speaker but a potential French-speaker. Getting back to the abortion debate, an embryo/foetus/neonate is not able to consider its own life, but could develop that potential. Thus, not a person, but a potential person.

    Like

  32. “no wrong can be done by painlessly ending that life.”

    So you insist on anesthetic for all abortions? And who cares if they feel pain if they are so un-self-aware?

    “Thus, not a person, but a potential person.”

    Then have a potential abortion.

    The size, level of development, environment and dependency of a human being do not impact her value.

    It is a symptom of our sinful natures that someone could rationalize such a case. Please tell me this is some kind of parody.

    Like

  33. I insist on painless death, which would normally involve anaesthesia, yes. I’d insist on the same for animals being put down. They may not be able to value being alive over being dead (as they are not aware of themselves), but I’m confident they can value feeling no pain over feeing pain (as they are aware of pain).

    It is never wrong to treat somebody as if they do not have an ability if they truly do not have that ability. If I mislead a company into hiring me because they think I can speak French, and then they learn that I am only a potential French speaker (can’t speak French now, but could in the future if I learn), they are within their rights to truly fire me, not just potentially fire me.

    I agree with you completely that the size, development, environment and dependency of a person do not influence their value, provided they are able to assign that value themselves. But if a human is not able to comprehend their own life, or otherwise unable to value their own life, then their life only has value to other people, like the life of a pet cat. It is not wrong for owners of a pet cat to wish that cat put down, because the cat is not wronged by that action.

    Like

  34. Again, I appreciate your candor in your bizarre views. Most people with such a distorted worldview are disingenuous about it. Feel free to join other threads, but please don’t respond along these lines again. It just doesn’t offer much potential for dialogue.

    “provided they are able to assign that value themselves”

    That is just your opinion, of course, and has no scientific or logical thought behind it. Your criterion is completely arbitrary. One could claim that for you when you are sleeping or in a coma. And you ignore that things have inherent worth.

    Like

  35. There are some very good logical arguments behind this view, but we don’t really have the time to go into them here. For further reading, see John Harris’s book The Value of Life: An Introduction to Medical Ethics.

    If there something else wrong with death aside from not wanting to die, then provide it. Show me that human life is ultimately valuable beyond what that human life assigns to itself. Who else can assign value to my life aside from myself? If I was in a car accident and in severe pain from the burning wreckage around me, and I screamed to you to shoot me, I should sincerely hope that unless you have a way to get me out of there alive, you should oblige me. It would be most cruel to do otherwise, due to some intrinsic sanctity that you think exists and overides what I – the human life involved – think.

    Like

  36. Do you realize the irony that you are mocking our intrinsic view that human lives are inherently valuable yet you insist there is an intrinsic obligation to shoot you in that situation? How could that be cruel of me not to shoot you? Why would I have any obligation to shoot you? In your worldview, why would I possibly care about you?

    One man was burned severely and asked the same thing many times. Now he has recovered enough to where he could commit suicide (jumping off a building is usually pretty effective) but he doesn’t. Yet he still blames the doctors for saving him. The fact that he is still alive is proof that the doctors did the ethical thing.

    Like

  37. It would be cruel of you not to shoot me, if you knew you couldn’t save my life, because I would die either way – and I’d much prefer to die in as little pain as possible.

    Consider another example. You are a firefighter and enter a burning fertility clinic. I am on the top floor, but you know that 400 human embryos, destined for implantation into patients, are on the lower floor. You would only have time to save either me, or the 400 human embryos. Which floor do you go to?

    Now, because you have said that human lives all have intrinsic value (and that human life begins at conception), you would probably opt to save 400 valuable lives rather than just one (as would I, if the embryos were sentient beings able to value their own life). If I am correct in guessing your answer, I must say that choice would be very cruel indeed.

    Like

  38. You are missing the whole point: You make the claim that we have to prove that humans have intrinsic worth, then you make all sorts of claims that are intrinsic in nature. You need to work on your consistency. Every claim that we’re being “cruel” or that we have any obligation to other humans is just more self-refutation on your part.

    Like

  39. My claims rely only on the intrinsic value assigned by the person. I value my living state over my dead state and my pain-free state over my painful state. There is nothing intrinsically valuable about life per se, excepting for the fact that I, the lifeform in question, do value my life. How much more intrinsic can you get than the object of value valuing its own existence?

    Like

  40. I was referring to your repeated moral claims about how we must shoot you, among other things. You offered no reason as to why your invented morality would apply to us.

    Like

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