Killing the unconscious

Ryan: The basic scientific facts also show that an embryo has no cognitive function, which is also the same criteria that is used to take a person off life support.

DJ Black Adam: Is this true and if so what is the pro-life response?

Neil: Thanks for the softball!

To legally remove someone from life support who is not conscious you need to demonstrate that you are acting in that person’s best interests, as they would so act if they were conscious, and that there is little or no hope of recovery.

Abortion fails miserably on both counts.

It is amazing the lengths people will go to in rationalizing abortion.

Hat tip: Theobromophile

0 thoughts on “Killing the unconscious”

  1. Part of the problem that modern secular liberals face is their constant insistence that their ideology is the solution to all things and can never be in error.

    Quite literally, they make their ideology on par with God– always correct, never in error, the arbiter of all that is right and wrong, and the salvation of all people.

    Admitting that any aspect of the ideology is wrong will result in catastrophe: the whole house of cards falls down and is unable to stand.

    As soon as morality is more than just opinion, or there aren’t a group of people to slaughter, or giving the state unlimited power doesn’t solve all problems… the self-reinforcing delusion is revealed for what it really is.

    A poor attempt to imitate Christianity and Christian values on the one hand, and a naked power grab in the name of being the new god on the other.

    At least Nietzsche was honest about what was going on.

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    1. LCB

      All roads lead to god. The question is, who will that god be? For modern secular liberals, it is themselves. They are the reference point on all things. To think of being wrong about something is impossible for god cannot be wrong. No amount of evidence is going to be able to surmount that kind of thinking. The fact that something can be held as wrong, and at the same time that there is no absolute truth on which to base its wrongness is no problem no matter how illogical it is. The logic is based on the one who holds it, as opposed to it being simply logical. How can this be argued with?

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  2. I believe our differences are very simple on this issue.

    I believe the value of human life is in our ability for cognitive function, and our awareness of self. That begins in the second trimester.

    Christians believe the value in life is created by God at conception (the soul).

    You like to twist this difference into me being in favour of killing people, and you use it to discredit practically everything else I say. None of you have any idea how much I value life.

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    1. You don’t have to be Christian to understand the simple scientific fact that life begins at conception and the simple moral fact that we shouldn’t kill innocent human beings.

      Just ask Theobromophile and other pro-life atheists.

      And spare me the falsehood that we are twisting anything. I never claimed you didn’t value any life, just that the logical conclusion of your worldview could rationalize all sorts of other evils that you don’t support.

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      1. the logical conclusion of your worldview could rationalize all sorts of other evils that you don’t support.

        Then give me credit for NOT supporting those things, and ask yourself why, if my worldview is so twisted, that I come to the same conclusions as you in almost every moral decision I make, and that I do it without the assistance of a Biblical moral code.

        We need to go have a beer. I think we could have this hashed out, or at least some kind of mutual respect in about an hour. The internet sucks sometimes.

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      2. Agreed on the Internet sucking at times.

        I do think you have not properly understood what we’ve said. Yes, you come to many of the same conclusions. But on the one that involves 3,000+ human beings getting crushed and dismembered in the U.S. each day we strongly disagree. That is kind of a big deal.

        I’m not sure why you dis’ the Bible when it overlaps with your morality so much (your claim, not mine).

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      3. I actually think the New Testament, although a bit outdated, is a pretty good book of moral teaching, and I agree with almost everything Jesus said. I can see my copy of the Bible on my bookshelf from my chair, and I have no plans to get rid of it. I just don’t think it should be taken literally.

        I am arguing abortion from a scientific perspective. There is nothing in a human embryo that would make it any more valuable than an ovum, which “die” at a rate much higher than 3000 per day. I don’t get how a merger of DNA makes it instantly a member of society. You could have picked any other arbitrary event as the beginning of human life.

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      4. Just interjecting, the Bible should be taken literally were it is being literal. Anybody with basic reading comprehension skills, who doesn’t have some political or social agenda, can understand the Bible in all of its writing styles, be it historic, wisdom, prophecy, etc., etc.

        What about the “New Testament” do you feel is outdated?

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      5. I just think that some of the teachings in the Bible are better applied to the customs of the time. Although I don’t think the Bible is meant to put women down, it certainly is male-centric at times. Some of the punishments doled out are also considered cruel by most people today.

        It’s just a book to me. A work of fiction like the countless other “holy” books. There are historically accurate things in the book, but that is true of many works of fiction. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but that’s how I see it. Many here don’t believe me about this, but I really have read the book multiple times, once when I considered myself a Christian, and I read it with my mind open to new ideas. I just couldn’t fully bring myself to believe it, and I actually tried, which I see now was wrong. One should never try to believe in something. One should try to find the truth.

        I’m going to try to take a break from posting here for a little while. I’ve not been bringing out the best in people.

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      6. Ryan:

        I wasn’t trying to antagonize you, just have an honest discussion, you seem cool enough to me that you and I could talk, even if we don’t always agree.

        E-mail a brotha –

        djblackadam@yahoo.com,

        I am curious to hear your thoughts and discuss (discuss not deate) your views regarding scripture.

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      7. I am glad you tried to read the Bible, though if you say you agree with “almost everything” Jesus said then I’m skeptical. A lot of what He said included his claims to deity, his claims to be the only path to salvation, how other belief systems were false, how Satan is real, how you shouldn’t kill, how He agreed with all the Old Testament, and so much more.

        I think DJBA covered the “literally” part. I don’t take it literally, either, though I do believe all the original writings were inspired by God.

        You are not arguing abortion from a scientific perspective. The science is clear: Abortion kills an innocent human being. You argue from a philosophical perspective that some of these human beings are not worthy of protection because of your personal definitions of society, personhood, etc. As we’ve demonstrated many times, if you used opinions like yours to determine which human beings can be killed then you opened the door to opinions different than yours that result in others being killed as well. Your position is not only morally wrong but wildly inconsistent.

        You could have picked any other arbitrary event as the beginning of human life.

        It is hard to take you seriously with comments like that. I’m using the scientific definition of the beginning of a new human being. By claiming that is “arbitrary” you really tip your hand to your agenda and / or lack of understanding.

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      8. I meant that I agree for the most part with Jesus’ moral teachings, and the example he set. I actually doubt he said most of the stuff about being divine.

        If the science is clear on abortion, would it not make sense to say that most atheist scientists would be against abortion? Or is the science clear in the same sense that you think the science is clear that evolution is bunk?

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      9. @Ryan:

        You wrote: “I meant that I agree for the most part with Jesus’ moral teachings, and the example he set. I actually doubt he said most of the stuff about being divine.”

        So you agree with what is written in the Bible regarding Jesus moral teachings, but do not believe other statements attributed to Him in the same books that outlie his moral teachings to be actual words from Him?

        So, by what means do you pick and choose which statements aree true and which are false?

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      10. I was thinking the same thing about his comment.

        What a shocker: People are reflexively confident that Jesus really said the things they agree with but turn skeptical when it comes to what they disagree with.

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      11. I’m not sure he said any of the things in the Bible at all. I don’t need to be sure of that to agree that most of the moral teaching was good.

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      12. We know that, Ryan. We’re just using dialogue to demonstrate that you could care less what Jesus says and that your statements about him are completely meaningless. You expressed no skepticism with words you agree with but are quick to point out how sure you were that He didn’t say what you disagreed with.

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      13. I’m not sure DJ. There is some good evidence that suggests Jesus existed, and I would find it hard to believe that everything written about him was false, but nobody can verify what he said. My opinion about the value of the words is separate from my opinion of whether he said them. When I read manuscripts of some of the great explorers, I’m of course somewhat skeptical about what I hear, but much of the decision on what I believe about them is based on plausibility, since that is all we can use. If an explorer says he came ashore, and was met by natives, I would probably believe that. But if he said he was met by talking turtles, I’m going to have to say that’s false.

        It’s the same thing with the Bible. I don’t believe that snakes have ever spoken words, and I don’t believe that all the animals in the world fit into a boat. I also don’t believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, or rose from the dead. Those things don’t happen.

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      14. Whenever you dispute the scientific facts on abortion you are waving a flag of ignorance. So your premise is false to begin with.

        But let’s entertain it for grins: Just because the scientific evidence is clear that abortion kills an innocent human being, that doesn’t mean that scientists — like everyone else — don’t sin. And people have been rationalizing murder since Cain and Abel, just like you rationalize the destruction of some human beings but not others.

        Keep the evolution red herring out. You continually confuse science and philosophy and facts with the conclusions that people draw from those facts. It makes it hard to converse, and I won’t waste time re-correcting those mistakes.

        If you want to deny the scientific fact that a new human is created at conception, then bring some facts.

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    2. My claim is a claim of intrinsic value, your claim is one of extrinsic value.

      I am claiming that it has infinite value. Yours, by definition being extrinsic, is finite.

      Thank you for debunking the claim that you value life more than I do, when by the own standards you are laying out you do not.

      You value life just enough to preserve your own, but not enough to rule out you deciding when other people get to die and who is worthy of life. This, again, is from your own previous comments.

      We repeat what you say back to you and you attack us for it. Maybe the problem is in your beliefs? After all, we are just repeating them back to you hoping you see the inherent contradiction in your claims.

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      1. You value life just enough to preserve your own

        That just about sums up your view of atheists doesn’t it?

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      2. Whoa, Ryan! I didn’t see anyone say anything that should lead anyone else to believe the lives of atheists are valued less. Indeed, usng the tired hypothetical, I’m sure most pro-lifers, if not all, would save the atheist from the burning building if he could only save the atheist OR the petri dish of embryos.

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      3. “You’re either going to have standards that don’t have any principles to back them up, or standards which can just as easily be applied to other situations in which you would find it wrong to end the life of a human.” [my italics]

        Perhaps here you’ve identified the key to the entire discussion. Most pro-life advocates believe that in some instances it is not wrong to end a human life – war, for example, or capital punishment. Most pro-choice advocates believe that in some instances it is not wrong to end a human life – war, for example, or abortion. The difference is not in the value that they place on human life – although there may be differences there as well – but the parameters outside of which that life can be removed with less (but never no) moral compunction.

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      4. “Most pro-life advocates believe that in some instances it is not wrong to end a human life – war, for example, or capital punishment.”

        Red herring. Ad hominem. Tu quoque. Strawman.

        I’m impressed. It’s hard to get that many fallacies into one sentence.

        The post goes downhill from there.

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      5. It’s not a red herring, an ad hominem, a tu quoque or a strawman.

        It’s merely pointing out that – as far as I can tell – nobody believes that there are absolutely no solutions in which it may be moral – or at least
        less immoral – to take a human life. I have yet to encounter anybody who believed this, at least. If you do hold that belief, then clearly my point does not apply to you, but that doesn’t invalidate the point itself.

        Do you reject my assertions that

        a) everybody has exemptions for when it is permissible to take human life, and
        b) the differences between us are largely about where we lay those exemptions?

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      6. I have yet to encounter anybody who believed this, at least.

        Look harder.

        This is right up there with “The same thing happens every time I visit one of these Christian websites.”

        It can’t possibly be you. It MUST be everyone else.

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      7. If you know of people who believe that there are no situations in which the taking of human life is morally permissible, then please direct me to them. I’d be very interested to hear their perspective. However I believe my point applies to the vast
        majority of humanity – I would guess including you, and definitely including I. Which of my two assertions do you dispute, and why?

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      8. Bearing in mind that this was a response to theobromophile below, which for some reason posted up here instead.

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      9. Merkur: with war and capital punishment, we are not saying that the people who die are not human.

        That’s the problem with your reasoning. Ryan’s entire contention is the embryos are not sufficiently human so as to be protected.

        The unborn are killed not because of their actions (as are serial murderers), nor by accident (as with civilian casualties in war), but by deliberate act, justified because they are not seen as human.

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      10. “Merkur: with war and capital punishment, we are not saying that the people who die are not human.”

        Aren’t we? Isn’t one of the key conditioning techniques for getting soldiers to kill to make them view the enemy as less than human? Don’t civilians – people like my grandparents – learn to see the enemy as being less than human? Don’t people talk about particularly horrific murders as “inhuman”, and the murderers as being like “animals”?

        Perhaps we live in very different worlds, because it certainly seems that we do say that the people who die are somehow, in some way, not quite human.

        “The unborn are killed not because of their actions (as are serial murderers), nor by accident (as with civilian casualties in war), but by deliberate act, justified because they are not seen as human.”

        Do you see a difference between a human life, an entity in the purely genetic sense, and a “human being”, a person in the philosophical sense? I do – it’s what makes it possible for me to distinguish a corpse from a living person. It’s also why I make a distinction between foetuses and babies, and while I freely admit that there isn’t a clear-cut, universally applicable rule to apply, that distinction is sufficiently meaningful that I can recognise it.

        Personally I’m anti-abortion, but my personal opinions are not generally a sufficient basis for legislation.

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  3. Re: acting in the person’s best interests. Right on, Neil! I’ve sometimes heard prochoice people say things like, “oh, well, this child has a miserable life now!” as a justified for abortion. Case in point: a former teacher of mine has a Bruce and nephew who have been neglected and maltreated by his brother. My ex teacher has made comments like the one above, and it breaks my heart. This man isn’t a believer, so not only does he seem to think his neice and nephew would be better off not alive, but better in complete nothingness.

    At least as Christians we have the hope of Heaven for all precious children whose parents make the frighteningly frequent choice of, “I can’t give this baby the life they deserve so I’ll kill them.” Seems to me that any life is better than being torn apart by forceps and tossed away like refuse–as if taking away the only life they have is “in their best interest.”

    Hope this comment got the point of your post. =)

    David

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    1. Good points, David. How the pro-legalized abortionists don’t see the evil, foolishness and logical consequences of their “better dead than potentially poor / abused / etc. is beyond me.

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      1. It is certainly not a decision that the poor and hungry would make for themselves. If it were the first time some one lost a job or became hungry they’d kill them self. And the pro-abortionist would, I guess, nod his head in agreement with such a decision. This thinking is static. It assumes that the poor are poor, and the hungry are hungry. It disregards hOpe, the real hope that works toward a better future for oneself. Many people who are born into poverty work their way out of it, some even accomplish great things. How ironic would it be if the answer to environmental issues, aids, and other liberal sacred cow problems were murdered in the womb.

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      2. Dan,

        Excellent point about the static thinking of most Liberals. It is such a bleak and un-American worldview — i.e., “once poor, always poor” and “better dead than poor, even though the “poor” in the U.S. are rich by the world’s standards.”

        Their view is also a bit ironic considered their disdain for capitalism.

        The worldwide economy is not a zero sum game. Many liberal policies go so horribly wrong because they don’t understand that foundational principle.

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      3. I would also add that they do not understand the nature of man Neil. That is that man will not always do the right thing but will generally do what “benefits” himself. I can’t think of one economic problem in socialism that doesn’t stem from people operating out of self interest, which is why capitalism produces the wealthiest nations while socialism produces poverty. Capitalism can’t channel man’s nature toward being envious into productivity however. I suppose that’s why we have Socialism always nipping at Capitalism’s heals. ” Better Dead than poor, (or at least poorer than your neighbor)better everyone poor (except movie stars and socialist politicians of course) than some being poorer than others. “

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      4. So, you’re admitting that capitalism produces the wealthiest nations, but saying that socialism is all about self-interest?

        Capitalism produces the wealthiest people, but on average, countries like Sweden, which is quite socialist, have a higher average income per person.

        And what are you talking about with this “better dead than poor” stuff? You are drinking up a lot of propaganda about socialism.

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  4. All roads lead to GOD. The question is what happens when you get there, the answer is in the Bible.

    In the end anyone may be used to further God’s will, whether they like it or not. Pontius Pilate did not believe in God, yet he was used to fulfill prophecy.

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  5. As resident theologian, allow me to add my typical two-cents worth. The reason the embryo has value is because it is made by God, in the image of God. That child is an image bearer, and that is why he/she has infinite worth. God’s hand is involved in every conception, no matter the means that it came about. Therefore, it is HIS handiwork. To destroy any one of these, is to do unto the least of these. (Bringing in the Second Person of Creation).

    He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
    Blessings

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  6. “I believe the value of human life is in our ability for cognitive function, and our awareness of self. That begins in the second trimester.”

    For now – disregarding comas that are indefinite – what if that state is temporary. If somebody is in a coma does that automatically exclude them from right to life?

    If I had a grandparent who was in a coma, but was very likely to wake up in 9 months relatively healthy, it would be a ghastly thing to take them off life support. I see it the same with an unborn baby.

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    1. I said the brain’s ability for cognitive function. In he case of a coma where there is no permanent damage, that ability still exists, and the person should be kept alive

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      1. That would be funny if the issue weren’t so serious. Does it ever occur to you how much work you go to in rationalizing abortion? What a house of cards.

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      2. Neil,

        I have changed my position.

        I shall now stand with Peter Singer and those in the Obama white house (like the health czar) who believe that “the ability for cognitive function” is not enough.

        Since we’ve already started differentiating between levels of cognitive function, they (and I) have settled on “meaningful cognitive function” which places the start of life at around 2 years old.

        Once we move goalposts, it’s just a matter of who is doing the moving.

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      3. “I said the brain’s ability for cognitive function.

        So potential ability isn’t good enough for you? You choose to cut off from life those who’s ability has not yet reached your definition of value? And how do you separate those who are mere moments from crossing your self-serving line from those who are mere moments passed crossing it?

        This “cognitive function” nonsense is a lame justification and an insulting one at that if others are expected to take it seriously. You don’t provide any reason why that matters as to the value of that person’s life. Worse, you can’t provide any reason that isn’t itself subjective and self-serving.

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      4. That’s a good question, and I’ll acknowledge that it’s not an easy one for me. Saying that is going to come back to haunt me, since people here will throw it in my face later, but I’m not a liar.

        The potential for cognitive function is not enough for me if no function has ever existed. An ovum or sperm has potential for cognitive function as well, as do the proteins that make up those things. I think our value as people is in our ability to experience the world, and our sense of self. If that has never existed, then I do not believe that a person exists. If I could find a word to use for this sense of a person, I would probably pick “soul” – in a non-mystical sense of course.

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      5. But Ryan, that ability – as with a person in a coma or in utero – is necessarily temporal in nature. In both cases, the only restriction on full cognitive function is time – i.e. enough time to get out of the coma, or enough time to gestate.

        By the way, you may be under, or over, estimating the brain’s cognitive function at a young age. New research suggests that dogs are about as advanced as two-year-olds, so newborns are, by definition, a lot less advanced than your standard canine. Likewise, mothers feel their babies’ personality very early on in a pregnancy.

        What you’re not going to be able to do is to find a foolproof standard (except life) on which to judge the quality of a person’s life which also miraculously lines up with the times at which you intuitively believe that abortion moves from moral to immoral. You’re either going to have standards that don’t have any principles to back them up, or standards which can just as easily be applied to other situations in which you would find it wrong to end the life of a human.

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      6. I don’t need a foolproof standard. I don’t believe one exists, and I don’t believe you have one either. Some people who claim to be pro-life are fine with the electric chair. Some are not okay with self-defense. Many Christians are okay with going to war with countries and killing innocent people.

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      7. Well, one of the nice things about holding a worldview that refuses to make distinctions except the ones you believe in is you get to lump other people together, claim they are one big strawman, and not bother to understand their position or the actual distinctions that are being made on principle.

        But I am glad you are finally admitting you aren’t interested in a foolrpoof standard. So what if a few people get killed, right? As long as you’re doing the deciding.

        Must be nice.

        Ryan, every day your position seems more and more geared towards keeping out any ideas or conceptions that make a moral claim on you.

        What if you’re wrong and your position allows for the wholesale slaughter of millions of human beings? That’s kind of a big mistake.

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      8. Can you do me a favour and try to be respectful with your responses to me, or don’t bother responding at all? You spend a great deal of time listing all the fallacies committed by others, but you use a lot of them yourself.

        Stop telling me what I think, and share your own thoughts.

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      9. “You spend a great deal of time listing all the fallacies committed by others, but you use a lot of them yourself.”

        List them.

        “Stop telling me what I think, and share your own thoughts.”

        I did. You told me to stop using logic and reason.

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      10. Take a look at your own words, and tell me you don’t see any ad hominem attacks or straw men. Your condescending tone adds to it as well.

        I told you to stop using logic and reason exclusively, mainly because you’re not as good at it as you think you are.

        I’d be willing to engage you in discussion, but you’re too dogmatic for me. I’ve never heard you express any doubts about anything, admit to being wrong, or apologize for anything you’ve ever said.

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      11. Ryan, as per my comment above to merkul, the standard is not about when it’s okay to kill people or not (which, as you said, may or may not be “foolproof,” but we’ll get to that later); it’s about developing a standard by which you determine when someone is a member of the human race and deserving of all human rights.

        If you truly see the unborn as not really human, you’ll understand my point perfectly: we need a principled way to determine when homo sapiens do and do not get human rights (as per their biological development or status). From that, according to you, flows the notion that embryos are undeserving of full human rights. I’m backing you up to the “human” part, not the “okay to kill” part.

        If, however, the “embryos don’t have cognitive function” meme is just an excuse for abortion, untethered to any principle, then you’ll never understand my point and will, like merkul, continue to respond with non-sequitors about capital punishment and war.

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      12. Thanks for your responses, you are excellent at articulating your view without being antagonistic.

        It’s wrong to say that I see the unborn as not human. I’m talking about very early on. I am not comfortable with abortion after the first trimester. My son was born in the second trimester, and I held his little hand at 24 weeks gestation. That one pound baby was human, and although his cognitive function was extremely primitive, he was beginning to experience the world, and that’s enough for me to feel that he deserved the same rights as you and me.

        I think my point of view has a lot to do with physiology. A person is a person without arms or legs. A person is a person without a kidney, or even without a heart or lungs. The only portion of the human body that, if absent, renders a person 100% dead, is the brain. Using that logic I believe that prior to the development of a brain, an embryo is not a person. I won’t say that the embryo has no value, because to a hopeful mother or father, that embryo represents a possibility of a child, and that of course has value, but not the value of a developed person.

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      13. “If, however, the “embryos don’t have cognitive function” meme is just an excuse for abortion, untethered to any principle, then you’ll never understand my point and will, like merkul, continue to respond with non-sequitors about capital punishment and war.”

        We’re talking about when it is morally permissible to take a human life. Abortion, capital punishment and war are all situations where we take a human life. Most of us find taking a human life morally permissible in at least one of those situations. I’m trying to identify what the difference is between the situations that makes it morally permissible. Where’s the non sequitur?

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      14. You said: “it’s about developing a standard by which you determine when someone is a member of the human race and deserving of all human rights.”

        I believe that a foetus is a member of the human race, and I assume that you do too. However I also believe that we all accept that there are situations in which the right to life – the most basic human right – is abrogated for members of the human race. So it’s hardly a non sequitur, regardless of our other views about the personhood of the foetus.

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      15. By the way, I’m not sure what you mean by “foolproof,” but I’m just saying that you need a standard which is a) internally consistent and b) can be applied to analogous situations in a manner in which the holder of the standard finds to be appropriate.

        To analogise: we understand that our laws are not perfect, but that doesn’t stop us from making them. That they are imperfect, however, does not stop us from criticising bad laws, either. No matter what, you have to defend something on its own merits: you cannot defend a law (or any other standard) against allegations that it is fatally flawed simply because other things are not perfect.

        The non-sequitor is due to the fact that we aren’t talking about making things perfect; we are talking about making them workable and principled.

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      16. Well said – I agree with all of that. One of the reasons I think a foolproof standard is unattainable is that we keep learning new things, and some of those things have changed our views of what is right and what is wrong.

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      17. Well, for starters, we now think it’s wrong to drill holes in skulls to release demons. We also see pain management as a necessity for patients. Another thing that has changed a great deal is the honesty that doctors now use in discussing a patient’s prognosis.

        Medical ethics has been far from static.

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      18. Well I admit, I do have a problem understanding folks who are “pro life” but are pro death penalty.

        Not because I think there aren’t some criminals who deserve it, but because of the nature of man it goes without question an innocent person has or will be executed, simply because they come from a powerless group, particularly from the down trodden and / or the poor.

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      19. The same goes for imprisonment, though, and there are fewer legal resources to protect against unjust imprisonment than unjust capital punishment.

        By your logic, anyone who thinks that it’s okay to lock up felons should find it okay to lock up perfectly innocent people en masse, since we make mistakes with felons.

        I don’t agree.

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      20. No, by my logic correcting false imprisionment is possible, sure it sucks, but you still have your life (and generally get some restitution), correcting executing an innocent person, not possible.

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      21. This doesn’t sway the conversation either way, but one of the oddities of our system is that you are much more likely to be exonerated of an incorrect capital punishment sentence than an incorrect life in prison sentence.

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      22. Imprisonment isn’t correctable, DJ. You can’t get those years of your life back.

        There are people who have spent 10, 20 years in prison and didn’t do a thing wrong. While the harm is obviously less than that of death, it’s not like losing money – you can’t just have someone say, “Here’s the $20k that we took from you by mistake, sorry,” and have it all be better. You’re still losing part of your life.

        The difference is in degree, not kind. Part of your life, gone, instead of all of it gone.

        Also, let’s talk about the numbers. While there is a problem with any innocent person being killed, there have been only about a thousand executions since the 1970s (when the Supreme Court decided that capital punishment is not unconstitutional). The numbers that we are talking about are extraordinarily small – one-fourth of those killed every day by abortion.

        What percentage of people who have been executed were innocent, do you think? A very high 5%? That means that it’ll take us 20,000 years, at this rate, to execute the same number of innocent people via capital punishment as there are innocent babies being killed every single day.

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      23. If you believe that thousands of innocent babies are being killed – murdered – every day, then what is the appropriate action to take to end this slaughter?

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      24. And I was thinking more about individuals.
        I’m just imagining what I would do if I believed
        that the state was killing innocent children.

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      25. theobromophile:

        It’s not about the number to me, it is about the principle. Life imprisionment is a better alternative than execution in my opinion because sure you can’t get years back but you are stil alive to fight your case.

        There is no need to execute the innocent just because most of those on death row are guilty.

        I guess you would have to be the wrongfully accused heading to the chair to understand that, I can see it without having to be the unlucky guy who gets railroaded.

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      26. For me, this doesn’t have anything to do with whether the person is innocent or not. I do not support execution for any person, regardless of their crime.

        No crime, in my opinion is absolutely unforgivable, and all people deserve to live out their natural lives. Maybe it’s because I think it’s all we have.

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      27. ” In he case of a coma where there is no permanent damage, that ability still exists, and the person should be kept alive”
        And this is different from a fetus how?

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      28. The early foetus has no cognitive function, and has never possessed cognitive function, or a thought, or a fear, or happiness. Those are the things that I feel make us human, in my opinion.

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      29. That is a philosophical judgment, not a scientific judgment.

        Why do your philosophical judgments trump science?

        Isn’t that exactly what you accuse religious people of doing? Letting their faith trump science?

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      30. My opinion of when we become human is philosophical, yes, but everything else I said is purely scientific. Nothing is trumping science here.

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  7. Let’s keep in mind why people are executed in this country. It’s because they were convicted of taking the life of another. This is no small thing and forgiveness is distinct from justice and punishment. It is not good for society to “forgive” crime to the extent of dismissing just restitution.

    The idea behind execution for murder is that the life taken is so precious that only taking the murderer’s life can be adequate justice for that taken life. In other words, to withhold the just punishment diminishes the value of the taken life.

    We are, in effect, saying that we value life so much that if you murder someone, you forfeit your own.

    In addition, it must also be kept in mind that the punishment is a given. How much worse does it make the crime if one commits it knowing the penalty beforehand? The perpetrator is, in effect, asking to be executed by committing a crime for which the penalty is death.

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    1. I don’t think that society should be giving out pardons, or “forgiving” anyone. What I meant is that every person deserves the chance to seek forgiveness, or express remorse, even if that takes a lifetime.

      Putting someone in prison for life is sufficient justice for any crime. It takes away one’s freedom permanently. Being sentencing to die is too cruel a fate for anyone.

      The value in the life of a person is not measured by the punishment given to he who takes it. The only reason the death penalty is around is to satisfy those who seek revenge – not justice. It has been shown not to be a deterrent, and is not less costly.

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      1. Of course the death penalty is a deterrent. I scoff at anyone who claims otherwise. The stats showing otherwise are a joke, ignoring major changes in society (Anyone noticed the rapid increase in fatherless households the last few decades as the sex-without-consequences myth drove our society? Anyone? Think there might be other correlations to changes in behavior?)

        Just ask yourself this: If traffic tickets cost a nickel, would violations go up or down? If violators were shot on the spot, would they go up or down?

        That is just your opinion about revenge vs. justice, with you playing the mind reader and waging a personal attack against those you disagree with.

        And you don’t understand the concept of forgiveness. Please explain how the murder victim can forgive anyone.

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      2. My wife is a criminologist. She has studied this issue at length. It is widely known that the death penalty does not deter crime. Do you have any data that suggests there are less murders per capita in states with the death penalty?

        If you’re so much in favour of the death penalty, could you throw the switch? I don’t think I could.

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      3. Answer my traffic violation question then. Do larger penalties deter behavior or not?

        I haven’t given much thought as to whether I’d want the job of executing convicted murderers. I also don’t see how it is relevant to the discussion of whether CP, properly applied, is a moral enterprise. There are plenty of jobs I don’t want and that says nothing about their morality.

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      4. Of course the death penalty for traffic violations would deter unsafe driving, if not driving altogether. But that’s not an equal analogy. An equal analogy is asking if the death penalty for traffic violation would deter them more than life in prison for traffic violations. I doubt very much that it would.

        I asked about whether you could pull the switch because that’s how I decided that I’m against the death penalty. I could not do it. I could not kill a person that poses no threat to me, and could possibly turn his life around.

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      5. But you could perform an abortion?

        And again, why should your emotional decisions determine what is right and wrong? Shouldn’t we use a criteria that is different from emotion (which changes from person to person) and is the same for all people regardless of emotions?

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      6. I don’t know where you stand on this issue, but if you are in favour of capital punishment, you have nothing to say to me on this issue. You have used fallacy on me numerous times against me on the abortion issue (“if we can kill babies, why not small children?”). Well, if we can kill murderers, why not tax evaders? And if we can kill tax evaders, why don’t we make up new taxes for people to evade, and then we can kill them too?

        Emotion does not determine whether an action is right or wrong, but it does often lead us to our true opinions of certain morals. Emotions are an important part of our cognitive function, and they have a purpose.

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      7. I don’t follow that at all. And I don’t dismiss emotions.

        It is foundational to the justice system that different crimes yield different punishments. It is completely logical to debate which crimes deserve stronger penalties, and if a crime such as murder deserves the death penalty.

        In the abortions you support, a human being dies 100% of the time and is completely innocent.

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      8. Of course different crimes deserve different punishments. I’m just saying that no person should have his ability to turn things around, in whatever way possible, taken away. Everyone can contribute somewhere, even in prison.

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      9. But you’re the one claiming that the death penalty is worse than life in prison. How can it not be a deterrent?

        Whether you want the job of terminating convicted 1st degree murderers who lost 10+ years of appeals is completely irrelevant to the morality of the job. Shame on your for being so judgmental against a public servant doing his job.

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      10. I never claimed it was worse. Different people would choose different punishments. You made me think though. If a person of sound mind, convicted of a crime, decided to chose the death penalty over life in prison, I might be okay with that.

        Shame on me? Come on man, I was not judging public servants, or even making a statement on their morality! I do not hold the “thrower of the switch” responsible for anything but doing his job. Can I not try to make a point without being slammed from every direction? I was just trying to say that it would be difficult for me to do that job, since I don’t feel it’s right to kill people, even the worst of us.

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      11. I can see why you wouldn’t want to pull the switch. I’m just saying that I don’t consider that a reason to be against CP in principle.

        I assume you are about to give an affirmative answer to Luke’s question about whether you’d perform abortions, or whether you considered whether you’d perform them before arriving at your abortion views.

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      12. Yes, I would not have trouble performing abortions in the cases where I view they are acceptable (1st trimester), but you’re right, it’s not a great indication of what is right and wrong.

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      13. Can believing in the death penalty be wrong for you, but right for me?

        Can believing in abortion be wrong for me, but right for you?

        Clearly appealing to your often-repeated criteria of historical wisdom doesn’t work, since the death penalty has had a constant historical presence (for a many multitude of crimes).

        And appealing to historical wisdom doesn’t work for abortion, since the historical wisdom has been against abortion.

        And clearly, from what you have previously said, these things can’t be true for me but not true for you (and vice versa).

        One of us is wrong, one of us is right.

        How do we figure out who it is? Appealing to things like “contribution” clearly can’t be enough, since that is a subjective judgment that can be different between the two of us. And “opportunity to contribute” can’t be enough, since that is the potential for activity, and you have already ruled out that is a moral decider (the baby has not yet to contribute, but you would deny them that opportunity… just as the criminal may not yet have contributed, and yet you would not deny them the opportunity).

        And appealing to outright humanity can’t settle it, since we both disagree on who is and is not a human, and you appeal to subjective standards to determine humanity as opposed to the standard that scientists agree upon.

        The only way to settle this is for there to be a single standard of truth that is outside the both of us.

        Otherwise there is no standard of truth, and these are just matters of opinion and emotion. Without an outside standard of truth you only stand on opinion and emotion for your positions… because the ‘wisdom of humanity’ is certainly against you.

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      14. That you could not pull the switch simply means that you aren’t the one for the job. I’d wager that if the one you loved most were violently murdered, you’d feel less squeemish.

        But deterrence isn’t even an issue. CP is a punishment, a sentence for the crime of taking the life of another. If it had no deterrent effect whatsoever, it wouldn’t matter. That’s not its purpose.

        I don’t put any stock into any studies regarding the deterrent effect of CP. How does one measure what someone wants to do but won’t out of fear of the consequences? I don’t think it can done with any confidence.

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      15. I’d wager that if the one you loved most were violently murdered, you’d feel less squeemish.

        You might be right about that. I hope not, but it’s possible.

        But deterrence isn’t even an issue. CP is a punishment, a sentence for the crime of taking the life of another.

        So explain to me why the life of a criminal has no value to you. Without the deterrence factor, I have no idea why you would want that person to die. It sounds like revenge, and I despise revenge.

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    2. @Marshall:

      “Let’s keep in mind why people are executed in this country. It’s because they were convicted of taking the life of another. This is no small thing and forgiveness is distinct from justice and punishment. It is not good for society to “forgive” crime to the extent of dismissing just restitution.”

      Again Marshal, I am not agiast the death penalty because I think most criminals are innocent or that most of those who recieve this penalty need “forgiveness”. I am against it because as good as our justice system is, it is still flawed to the point where I would wager that there have been and will be people executed who are not guilty of the crime they have been convicted of.

      I guess because I cmyself can’t hire big time lawyers, and am of a demographic that routinely is considered to “fit the discrption of” I can understand even if it is one unlucky bastard that is railroaded by corrupt lazy cops, I’d hate to be that guy.

      For that reason, I say Life in Prison, at least then the person has life, which after all LIFE is so important to you “PRO LIFERS”…just saying…

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  8. Putting my last post here so there is more room for replies. Didn’t mean to push it onto the margin.

    Can believing in the death penalty be wrong for you, but right for me?

    Can believing in abortion be wrong for me, but right for you?

    Clearly appealing to your often-repeated criteria of historical wisdom doesn’t work, since the death penalty has had a constant historical presence (for a many multitude of crimes).

    And appealing to historical wisdom doesn’t work for abortion, since the historical wisdom has been against abortion.

    And clearly, from what you have previously said, these things can’t be true for me but not true for you (and vice versa).

    One of us is wrong, one of us is right.

    How do we figure out who it is? Appealing to things like “contribution” clearly can’t be enough, since that is a subjective judgment that can be different between the two of us.

    And appealing to outright humanity can’t settle it, since we both disagree on who is and is not a human, and you appeal to subjective standards to determine humanity.

    The only way to settle this is for there to be a single standard of truth

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    1. I think I need to comment on your last sentence first.

      The only way to settle this is for there to be a single standard of truth

      I’m not absolutely sure one exists. I know that probably will make you think that I am weak, but I don’t believe in a single source for morality, and you seem to relate the two concepts (correct me if I’m wrong there). I think that a perfect moral standard may exist, as does an exact value of pi, but we can only get closer to it with experience.

      You criticize me for appealing to historical wisdom, but you use it against me all the time, telling me that “abortion has always been wrong”, giving me reference to the Hippocratic oath, telling me about the history of marriage, and so on. I think we are moving forward as a society in our morals, just as we are doing so with our technology. Do you really think you would make all the same moral decisions if you lived 1500 years ago?

      You also use “scientific standards” a lot to determine when a baby becomes human. You can’t use science to back you up if you are not willing to change your mind if new evidence came along.

      One of us is wrong, one of us is right.
      How do we figure out who it is?

      The main thing is that we listen to one another. We could both be wrong.

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    2. The only way to settle this is for there to be a continual process of discussion about what is and is not morally acceptable. This discussion will change over time as different parties receive new information, and as social, political and economic factors shift in their influence. There may never be a single answer – that is, we may never “settle it” – so the process of discussion must also include mechanisms for deciding how to act even while there disagreement remains.

      Luckily this process exists; we call it society. We’re lucky to live in societies where that process is fairly sophisticated, and there are protections, however flawed, that prevent others from imposing their views on us.

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      1. Luckily this process exists; we call it society. We’re lucky to live in societies where that process is fairly sophisticated, and there are protections, however flawed, that prevent others from imposing their views on us.

        So you’re pro-life, then? Good to know.

        Seriously. It’s easy to avoid getting pregnant, but hard to avoid getting killed as an embryo, so the only imposing of views is on a pregnant woman, via her abortionist, to her unborn child when she has it killed.

        Back on subject: in ALL societies, Merkul, we impose our views on others. I happily force my no-rape morality on men who aren’t on the same page and my anti-homicide morality on anyone who thinks that killing is good sport. Likewise, my anti-robbery morality gets imposed on people who think that “Imagine no possessions” is a response to those upset at the loss of their own possessions.

        Clear about why that argument of yours is a non-starter?

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      2. Excellent comment theobromphile.

        Abortion is the ultimate form of might makes rights, because it is imposing one’s own will on the most powerless of all individuals.

        The act of abortion is the antithesis of the activity associated with any real society that takes dialog on moral issues seriously, because it is the wholesale slaughter of innocents.

        As its starting point, it permanently excludes millions of individuals from societal dialog by snuffing out their lives before they have a voice. It is, quite literally, killing those who would oppose your view that killing them is wrong.

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      3. LCB: given that you believe that abortion is the wholesale slaughter of innocents, what is your personal response to it? I mean in the sense of what activities do you involve yourself in to prevent further slaughter?

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      4. If you had bothered to read my previous response to you, you would know two things:

        a. I’m anti-abortion, and
        b. My name is Merkur, not “Merkul”.

        Actually you don’t impose your no-rape morality on anybody. You rely on the structures of society – the law, the police, the media, cultural and religious social pressures – to enforce your no-rape morality, and you’re perfectly happy with this. Obviously you’re unhappy when those same structures fail to support a particular of your morality, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist and that you don’t participate in them.

        When I say that you are lucky to live in a society in which others are largely prevented from imposing their views on you, what I mean is this: nobody is forcing you or anybody around you to have an abortion. Now I understand that it pains you that other people are having abortions, but your personal sensitivities – or mine – are not necessarily a good guide for public policy. You don’t want somebody who’s pro-choice making your decisions for you, so why do you think it’s okay for you to make decisions for them?

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      5. I still don’t think you satisfactorily answered theobromophile’s question: why is me saying someone cannot get an abortion imposing my morality on them, yet someone having an abortion not imposing their morality on the fetus?

        I agree to some extent, our laws our decided based on society’s values, but that’s not an argument for abortion. Correct me if I’m misreading you, but it seems that you are saying abortion is okay because society says it is. I’ve just heard this argument before: abortion is the law of the land, therefore it is okay. But looking at society’s current laws should not be a basis for morality – otherwise women wouldn’t vote and we would still own black slaves. You say laws are based on society and discussion and all that. So that’s what we pro-lifers are doing. We are demonstrating through scientific and philosophical reasoning why abortion is a moral evil. What you bring to the table is that abortion is allowed by law, therefore that makes it okay. Not a good argument in my opinion.

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      6. LCB already nailed you on this one Merkur (rolls eyes, sorry), but let me continue.

        nobody is forcing you or anybody around you to have an abortion.

        And abolishing rape laws wouldn’t force me to rape people. What’s your point?

        Laws, Merk, are all about forcing the beliefs of some of society on those who do not agree with those beliefs or want to follow them. If everyone wanted to follow them, we wouldn’t need the laws. It is only because some people just don’t know how to behave that we do need our laws.

        Now I understand that it pains you that other people are having abortions

        You call yourself anti-abortion? Thanks for the laugh, hon.

        You don’t want somebody who’s pro-choice making your decisions for you, so why do you think it’s okay for you to make decisions for them?

        For the same reason that I’m for laws prohibiting rape, robbery, murder, or a host of other crimes: because even though the lack of a prohibition does not mean that I would be forced into doing something, the prohibition prevents harm to others.

        That should be really obvious, and it’s almost painful to have to explain the basics of why we have laws.

        I would also suggest, by the way, that if your argument hinges upon me lacking reading comprehension abilities, you’re dead in the water.

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      7. I would highly advise reading Alasdair McIntyre’s “After Virtue”

        It picks up from the premise you lay out here. It’s widely regarded as the most influential moral philosophy book in the last 50 years, with McIntyre being the most important/greatest currently living moral philosopher.

        The book is also surprisingly readable.

        I don’t concede the premise “The only way to settle this is for there to be a continual process of discussion about what is and is not morally acceptable.” etc, but am willing to dialog on your assumed premise anyways.

        Like

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