Should Alberto Giubilini, Francesca Minerva, Julian Savulescu, and Kenneth M. Boyd Be Summarily Executed By The State or By Individual Actors?

127 Responses

  1. delurking says:

    I started reading, and immediately thought "We've been through this decades ago…" (see Peter Singer). But then, I got to "not only if the infant is disabled (as certain others have argued), but if the infant would be a burden:". I'd have to lean towards it being Swiftian, or more accurately a reductio ad absurdum (although I suppose it might be the latter without the authors meaning it to be). Singer unconvincingly tried to describe a legal mechanism by which a baby could be declared disabled enough to be euthanized, but he could never make a convincing argument that you wouldn't end up in the situation that this paper proposes.

    Anyway, I read the editor's comments and I'm not sure what you are getting at. A journal editor is not normally supposed to be the arbiter of the content of the journal, the peer reviewers are. He doesn't say he supports the authors' arguments, and he mostly complains about the death threats. He is a little loose in his definition of "racist", but not unusually so (is Italian a race?).

    Are you just trying to say that since the authors propose killing people, that discussing killing the authors becomes fair game, so the editor shouldn't complain about the death threats?

  2. Chris A. says:

    Reductio creep, anyone? I am fairly confident, though, that Radly Balko was not envisioning a pro-choice argument going that way when he coined the term.

  3. Jess says:

    I'm confused. I see that the learned editors have published material advocating the killing of infants, but I don't see that this killing has been justified by anything the infants have published. So, what is the parallel argument that justifies carving out an exception to your supposed devotion to free speech, based on anything these editors have published?

    If you mean to say that this published material has so shocked you with its shockingness that you have been transformed into a fundamentalist conservative bible-thumper, then please say that more clearly.

    I don't support the murder of children, either before or after birth. Neither do I accept a definition of "murder" that conveniently excepts socially-acceptable abortions, the way most pro-choice people fool themselves. The way I've made my peace with society's encouragement of this particular subset of all the many sorts of murders that society encourages is through the sympathy I have for any potential mother who would contemplate murdering her child. It must be a horrible situation, and since I can't experience it or imagine it, then as a human being I must sympathize.

    However, most people can't bring themselves to acknowledge how bizarre the line we've drawn among murder victims really is. So they have to compensate by obsessing about Casey Anthony, or advocating the murder of academics, or whatever.

  4. TJIC says:

    > I'm confused. I see that the learned editors have published material advocating the killing of infants, but I don't see that this killing has been justified by anything the infants have published. So, what is the parallel argument that justifies carving out an exception to your supposed devotion to free speech, based on anything these editors have published?

    I don't think that anyone is specifically proposing that we kill the authors based on their points of view.

    Ken is just throwing the doors open to all SORTS of ethical arguments.

    For example…are the authors burdens on society? Maybe yes, maybe no.

    Would allowing the authors to go live in homes – for example, their OWN homes (we can call this "self adoption") – be traumatic to others, like, their parents (with whom they no longer live) or – for that matter, me, Ken, or some guy named Jose who lives in Bolivia?

    It might. We need to think this through.

    Or perhaps there are other ethical principles at play.

    Maybe there's an ethical principle that states that anyone named "Minerva" should be killed.

    …or perhaps it's not so much a principle that "Minervas" SHOULD be killed but that entities named "Boyd" are only POTENTIAL human beings.

    Let's have an open and free-ranging debate on these issues!

    After all, once we've thrown out constraints that stop us from killing 6 month olds, the barn door is wide open. Let's go exploring!

  5. Matt says:

    If they can't cope with messages from people unable to recognize Swiftian exaggeration, they should not have published a work of Swiftian exaggeration in a scholarly journal.

    This goes for both the authors and the editor.

    Killing them seems a wildly disproportionate punishment, however. Indeed any punishment, qua punishment, seems out of order. They merely ought to find new jobs…not so much because they ought to be thrown out of their current ones for writing and publishing this article, as because their response to the responses to the article has shown that they lack the emotional resources to perform their current jobs adequately.

    (The fact that I am, in fact, entirely serious in what I say in this comment does not constitute a waiver of my implied privilege to resort to satire, did the situation require it or the mood strike me. So nyah! :P)

  6. Nicolas says:

    Medical ethics is not to be confused with garden variety ethics. Like psychiatrists, medical ethicists are essentially agents of the state and state-controlled cartels, which makes this article even more disturbing.

    The bioethicist best known to Americans, due to his frequent presence on TV and use by journalists as a source, is Arthur Kaplan. Just a few days ago he assured doctors that lying to patients is often excusable.

    Lying to Patients: No Huge Ethical Failure, Says Bioethicist
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/758434?src=mp&spon=34

  7. Jonathan Swift says:

    Are you sure they're not ripping off my Modest Proposal? Tongue firmly in cheek and all that?

    If not, may I suggest that starvation would be the most environmentally responsible way of ridding the planet of these academic pests. Shooting them would only raise the possibility of lead remediation at the site of their extermination.

    And, in answer to delurking, who asked "Are you just trying to say that since the authors propose killing people, that discussing killing the authors becomes fair game, so the editor shouldn't complain about the death threats?" — I don't know what your answer would be, but mine would be "absolutely."

  8. Daran says:

    A productive debate is made harder due to the very racist[1] assumption that newborns aren't actual persons. If the authors start off their premise with such a basic moral and ethical mistake, how can we come to any other conclusion than that their self-actualization has been a huge failure, and that is therefore the solemn duty of the state (or any free-acting agent) to halt the wastage of precious resources that the lives of the authors represent? Google can archive their paper for reference to avoid similar mistakes.

    [1] Using the modern definition of racist.

  9. Ronald Pottol says:

    Well, it's rough on the bus drivers.

    As a former school bus driver, I can see a case for middle school students.

  10. h4x354x0r says:

    To cut to the chase of the swiftian argument, there is an actual, real temporal "line in the sand" that separates abortion from infanticide: the external viability of a fetus. The people who stumble across this line without noticing or understanding, are blithering idiots.

    Maybe they could publish a corollary paper centering on contraceptive use? I'll probably have to wait a long time, for that.

  11. SPQR says:

    I'm speechless, Ken. We've abandoned the idea that this was a Swiftian satire? Good lord, there are some really sick people hiding in academia if so.

  12. Colonel Klink says:

    As a Christian, I am personally opposed to summarily executing Alberto Giubilini, Francesca Minerva, Kenneth Boyd, and Julian Savulescu.

    However, my personal opposition to killing them is rooted in my sectarian religious belief in the sanctity of human life, so I am unwilling to impose it on others who may, as a matter of conscience, take a different view.

  13. daedalus2u says:

    I don't see what the big deal is.

    Genesis
    22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    Exodus
    21:15 And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
    21:16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
    21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death

    Numbers
    31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
    31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Deuteronomy
    21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
    21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
    21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
    21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

    The Bible is pretty much silent on contraception and abortion, so the default to prevent contraception and abortion makes some theological sense; you wouldn't want to violate some law that wasn't important in ancient times because they didn't have the technology for contraception and abortion. They did have means of after-birth abortion and it was allowed.

    The Bible is not at all silent about what these authors call after-birth abortion, it is allowed and sometimes mandated. So the GOP goal of preventing contraception and abortion and then abandoning infants and mothers to live or die in the gutter is completely consistent with the Bible.

    Why do you hate religious freedom?

  14. Grandy says:

    I am going to interpret John Harris' rebuttal thusly:

    "I wasn't being literal in that paper, yo. What does Swiftian mean again?"

  15. daedalus2u says:

    I neglected to include another Biblical reference.

    Leviticus
    20:9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

    Each of the first 5 books of the Bible all have explicit passages either allowing or mandating after-birth abortion. Since the Bible can't be wrong, after-birth abortion must be allowed. Those who would outlaw it must hate religious freedom.

    A Swiftian proposal usually refers to something like this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

    Written by Swift to call attention to how the poor Irish were being treated by the English. It is sort of how the GOP want to treat the poor and unemployed today. No safety net, wages insufficient to support an individual let alone a family, lack of opportunity, no medical care, no opportunity for education.

  16. Grandy says:

    Uh, daedalus2u, were you referring to me regarding the definition of "Swiftian"? I know what it means, I promise.

  17. Are the authors only potentially alive? After all, it's well known that life begins at 40.

  18. Poultine says:

    @h4x354xor

    I was once a proponent of this line of reasoning, but it opens up a separate series of unpleasant questions, mostly, "how do you go about determining the external viability of the proposed person?" If there's a chance the child might be "viable", do we induce labor the fetus and hope that it begins drawing breath? Do we always err on the side of caution? How long does a premature child need to draw breath in order for it to have been considered viable? E.g., if a 4-month premature child survives for 3 weeks in an incubator, is that sufficient to bar abortions of all 4-month premature fetuses?

    Abortion is grey all the way down, I think, and the Swiftian argument here highlights that fact. There is no distinct line, even at natural, induced, or surgical birth.

  19. It's clear that the spirit of the Biblical law authorizing the execution of a stubborn and rebellious child was to do in sassy kids. On the other hand, according to the relevant experts (as reported in the Talmud), it is hedged about with so many conditions (all of them based on the letter/phoneme of the law) as to make it impossible to enforce and, in the discussion, the majority opinion holds that it has never been enforced.

    In other words, the spirit of the law kills and the letter gives life.

  20. Hortensio says:

    In answer to your question at the end of the article:

    It depends. Do they weigh as much as a duck?

  21. Jerryskids says:

    As a moral relativist, I believe that my ideas of right and wrong are only my ideas and should not be imposed on others. All of us are entitled to be judged by our own personal standards of right and wrong.

    Giubilinil, Minerva, Boyd, and Savulescu apparently have standards that would allow for me to decide whether or not their lives have value.

    So the question isn't really whether or not they should be killed, it is simply a question of who gets to decide whether or not they should be killed. And obviously, it would not be Giubilinil, Minerva, Boyd, and Savulescu, since they have a conflict of interest in the matter.

  22. daedalus2u says:

    Joseph, I think the infanticide in the Numbers reference was enforced because it was against non-Jews.

    Grandy, sorry, it wasn't clear to me that you did.

  23. David Hunter says:

    Okay I see what you are doing here and it is kinda cute, so sure I'll bite.

    "So — so tutored by the Journal of Medical Ethics, and by its editor Julian Savulescu, I open the matter up for liberal, ordered, non-fanatical debate: should authors Alberto Giubilinil and Francesca Minerva, ethics professor emeritus Kenneth M Boyd, and Journal editor Julian Savulescu be summarily executed over a Journal of Medical Ethics article arguing that infanticide is morally correct? If the state refuses to execute them summarily, is it just and proper for individuals to take action to execute them? Should we research, and post, their home and business addresses and phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate their execution if our discussion yields a moral consensus? If we applied traditional religion-based moral arguments or utilitarian moral arguments, could one frame a valid moral argument for executing their entire families to deter others from similar behavior? What traditional ethical and philosophical arguments can be brought to bear one way or the other?"

    Sure of course we should and could debate this – although it is probably better in the abstract rather than naming individuals, since discussing the killing of specific individuals, could be taken as a threat and hence a crime in some jurisdictions (I live in the UK which is strangely finicky about what people say on the internet – people have gone to jail for suggesting rioting on twitter for example). And more generally it is better to establish general principles rather than have to have the argument again next week when the editors of Bioethics publish something controversial. So I'll take it that you are arguing for the general principle that we should execute editors and authors when they publish something profoundly controversial.

    It would help of course if you gave an argument for this principle rather than just speculate whether we could argue for it, but since you haven't I'll give a counter argument, one of several available.

    I'll argue that the editors and authors shouldn't be executed if they publish controversial pieces since they are beings who have full moral status and hence killing them would be morally wrong in a way that killing things without full moral status, for example plants would not be.

    Now of course there might be cases of justified killing, such as in situations of just war, but none of those seem to obviously apply here.

    So thanks for raising the issue, and discussing it in a temperate fashion, but unless you have some powerful counter argument we can safely conclude that killing editors and authors for publishing controversial articles would be morally wrong.

    Cheers
    David Hunter

  24. Lago says:

    I'm with Jess on this one, and kind of confused whether Ken is missing the point of it, or just speaking of sav and boyd..? Because the authors aren't advocating or fighting against anything here, it's logical extension of our current ethics and laws to put things into perspective. The article's meant to make you look at the whole abortion thing more rationally, whatever side you're on, not to make your blood boil. Frankly it's kind of baffling that people get so worked up over functional brains..

    If anything, what I take from this article is that society needs to redefine what's okay and not okay with abortion. Saying life begins at birth is pretty much just as arbitrary as saying life begins at conception. Personally I think somewhere in the middle is where we should draw the line and say "we can't kill this life," but this article is pretty clearly meant to get some rational debate on the matter, not to make a practical argument. Don't take it the wrong way.

  25. Lago says:

    also, this is not a swiftian argument.

  26. SPQR says:

    Ken • Feb 29, 2012 @1:29 pm

    Ken, I guess I'm just not the sophisticated intellectual that Harris is writing for, because after reading the entry you linked, my response is: WTF?

  27. h4x354x0r says:

    @Poultine: The earliest known survival is currently 24 weeks. This is a distinct temporal line. Medical science has been steadily reducing this threshold, but of course, at an enormous cost.

    You show me someone – who is against abortion – who is also willing to pay for the cost of surgically extracting babies at 24 weeks and providing whatever care it needs until it becomes a reasonably normal, healthy baby. And, then, supporting and nurturing that child until it becomes an adult with the ability to fully support itself. Is this a reverse swiftian? I'll check back later.

    Until I read someone follow up an argument like yours with a ringing endorsement for aggressive availability and use of contraceptives, I do not believe you are actually interested in reducing abortions.

    I don't like abortions. I understand what's going on. That's why I love and endorse aggressive sex education AND robust availability of contraception. I hope you agree.

  28. h4x354x0r says:

    Correction: Just shy of 22 weeks now.

  29. TimP says:

    "Until I read someone follow up an argument like yours with a ringing endorsement for aggressive availability and use of contraceptives, I do not believe you are actually interested in reducing abortions."

    And until people start supporting lower tax rates I do not believe that anyone is actually opposed to lying to the tax department. (Since people are less likely to lie if they don't have to pay as much tax)

    Or until people start supporting marijuana usage I won't believe they are actually interested in decreasing cocaine usage.

    Or until people start supporting aggressive provision of prostitutes to young men I won't believe they are actually interested in preventing rape.

  30. Nicolas says:

    @h4x354x0r

    I'm trying to figure out what "aggressive availability" of condoms means. Within four minutes of my home by car, they sell condoms cheaply at Walmart, Target, Marsh, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, and I'm sure others I can't think of now. Are they supposed to blast them at customers with cannons?

    I'm willing to bet that "aggressive" is your peculiar euphemism for "free."

  31. h4x354x0r says:

    @Tim: Tax rates? That's like apples and… june bugs. Tax rates aren't generally put in place or changed to affect the rate of tax cheating. And I don't see how tax rates affect abortion rates. Maybe you could explain that one to me.

    Yes, I do support cannabis legalization, especially since it's already shown to displace alcohol use and reduce deaths. I'll take whatever harm reduction benefits we can get out of displacement of cocaine use, too, although I think those are nearly negligible compared to displacement of alcohol use. That issue also drives home the immense harm prohibition itself causes, which is very central to the argument of making abortion illegal as a method to reduce abortions. Prohibition doesn't work, it's never worked, it almost invariably causes more harm, not less.

    You kinda got me on the prostitues bit because that actually could make statistically insignificant reduction in abortions. But just like this issue, sexual violence is more about control of women, than the satisfaction of sex.

    @Nicholas: Condoms are already basically free. Other forms of birth control, not so much. The issue is social acceptance and promotion of it's use. If that means or includes "free," so be it. I'd rather pay for universal free birth control, than fail to reduce abortions. That's not just hyperbole; it's a very real choice.

  32. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I think it's fairly clear what we have here; for a long time there has been a subset of tenured academic that is hire with the understanding that it is their job to be outrageous, stir up controversy, and teach the Alumni that their opinions don't count for anything (you half-educated peasants). As the once-outrageous became ho-hum in academic circles, it has become necessary for this kind of academic to reach farther and farther out to generate the required thrill for their employers and co-workers. It apparently hasn't occurred to these pseudo-intellectual twits that sooner or later there is going to be hell to pay, and everybody still playing The Game when that happens is going to be pretty much unemployable. One would have thought that the object lesson of Ward Churchill might have warned them, but evidently not.

    They think that the Sacred Precincts of Higher Education are safe from the collective opinions of the Peasants they work so hard to outrage. They haven't noticed that the universal acceptance of the utility of a college education is waning. Sometime in the next few decades there is going to be a string of Ward Churchill-like scandals and the whole edifice is going to come crashing down around their ears. And I'm going to laugh myself sick.

  33. matthew says:

    *sigh* It's depressing when bioethicists try to prove Rick Santorum right about higher education.

  34. David Leech says:

    'Robust moral debate awaits.' Wait, what, I have just fired up the mob and armed them with pichforks and torches. Nobody mentioned a debate. Grrr and nashing of teeth.

  35. gclason says:

    Actually, Ken, infanticide is a legitimate free-speech issue. A lot of famous and influential people throughout history have advocated infanticide.

    Robert Heinlein said mother-love was the only thing that kept mothers from drowning their children at birth. W C Fields said "I love children, as long as they are properly prepared", and P T Barnum said (about W C Fields) "Anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad."

    Infanticide has a long and honorable tradition. The classic stories of infants abandoned and exposed include Romulus and Remus, Oedipus, Moses, Sargon, Paris, Perseus, Gilgamesh, Krishna and Siegfried.

    I know you are not one of these bleeding-hearts for whom "for the children" excuses anything and everything. So what exactly is your problem with it now? As I look at teenagers, I have to admit that more of them would have made better infanticide victims than not.

  36. Christopher says:

    To cut to the chase of the swiftian argument, there is an actual, real temporal "line in the sand" that separates abortion from infanticide: the external viability of a fetus.

    Yeah. The line of reasoning in the article is that abortion is justified by the fact that the fetus is "not a person". Which leaves three possibilities:

    1. The fetus becomes a person before viability, in which case some abortions are the murder of a person. Rejected, I presume, because the authors are targeting their paper at people who believe all abortions are morally permissible.

    2. The fetus becomes a person at the exact point it is born, because we have defined personhood as "the state of having been born". Rejected because this makes the argument "abortion is moral because abortion is moral".

    3. The fetus becomes a person at some unknown time after birth. Since non-persons can be aborted, it's moral to abort humans for as long as they aren't people. Accepted because of Sherlock Holmes' adage about eliminating the impossible and accepting the improbable.

    It kind of doesn't matter if this paper is satire or not, because either way, it's aimed directly at people who believe abortion is acceptable because the fetus isn't a person.

    People who are against abortion would clearly not reject premise 1, and in fact a lot of them would argue that "personhood", as defined in the article, is a morally meaningless concept. So this paper has, whatever its sincerity, nothing to say to anti-abortion people because they all reject the premises on which it rests.

    I suspect you could also construct a fairly robust defense of abortion that didn't rely on pershonhood, as well, which would probably be your starting point to defending abortion while rejecting infanticide.

    Frankly, I'm kind of an elite egg-head type, because I don't generally like it when things are dismissed just because they shock the conscience.

    On the other hand, it's not clear that the morality of the free exchange of ideas has been established more thoroughly than the morality of not killing infants. So it can seem kind of silly to be agnostic on the latter and heavily invested in the former.

    On the third hand, I doubt they received many responses that laid out a coherent moral basis for rejecting liberal society, so I'm not sure there's any hypocrisy.

  37. Narad says:

    A journal editor is not normally supposed to be the arbiter of the content of the journal, the peer reviewers are.

    No. At least on the scale of the Journal of Medical Ethics (~750 pages per year), the normal model is that the Editor-in-Chief reviews the manuscripts for suitability for the journal. Only then are reviewers selected, whose job it is to evaluate the work to see whether it meets the standard for a publication in the field. This can be more or less complicated, but the EIC is the gatekeeper of the nature of the content.

  38. PiperTom says:

    Ken: "Some dismissed [the paper] as trolling, some dismissed it as a Swiftian argument against abortion." Still others — MANY others — join Ken in misrepresenting what the paper says. Giubillini et al do NOT say some infant, any infant, should be killed; they say that the State should not intervene. Of all the wisdom ever given, the most ignored or reviled is "mind own business." The temerity of this paper is that is does exactly that.

    Let us unite! Let us hire strong men, give them uniforms, arm them and train them in those arms! Let send them forth to intervene and to punish. And for what acts shall they intervene and punish? They shall act when anyone harms US; they shall act against those who rob US… (and now that we've incurred all this expense with the uniforms and the guns etc.) They shall act against those who use too much salt, and against those who smoke the wrong herb, and they shall punish those who bring us goods from far away without paying us for the privilege.

    And now that we've incurred all this expense with the uniforms and the guns et cetera, our agents shall intervene and punish people who… who harm certain OTHERS, or hypothetical others, whom we never knew, never spoke to, never COULD HAVE spoke to. Our agents shall punish them, because WE are outraged. We MUST aid those who never asked for our help — never COULD HAVE asked. Because the last thing WE would ever do, is mind our own f#%king business.

  39. hedberg says:

    It's amazing to me that this paper got through editorial review and peer review with the euphemism for infanticide (after-birth abortion) intact. The authors explicitly acknowledge that it's an oxymoron but there in the paper it remains; the argument by polite labeling. It's like calling rape unreciprocated sexual desire. Then there is the problem that the main foundation of their argument is that very young infants are not people. The editor claims that many would accept the premises of their argument. Who is it that would accept the bald assertion that very young infants are not people?

    The problem with publishing this paper is not that it makes an outrageous argument, the problem is that it dishonestly makes a very faulty argument.

  40. sagredo says:

    Well, I'm not what you would consider a believer and I hope your post is a kind of provocative issue. In that case I agree. However, you can try to submit a paper to that Journal, with similar arguments as "Giubilini e Minerva" were not more scientific and convincing than you. In fact if one starts with a different ontological views he will get to very different conclusions. Lets say that you ask them in chinese what's the sense of their life and you get back an unintelligible answer, according to their logic one can kill them… This is a low level insane philosophy.

  41. hedberg says:

    PiperTom

    I disagree that the thrust of the argument is myob. It seems to me that the argument is that infanticide is not morally prohibited because infants do not have sufficient cognition to be actual people (although, nonhuman animals, perhaps including rats,are actual people). Note that they don't offer any insight as to how to determine when a child gains more moral right to life than an unimplanted zygote. Perhaps one needs to pass a college level course in ordinary differential equations with a solid grade of B or higher before becoming a person. That can't be true, though, as almost all nonhuman people would then be non-people and that can't be true, can it?

    I'll repeat what I said before — the outrage in publishing this paper is not that the authors make a well-supported but obnoxious argument. The outrage is that they make such a dishonest and crappy argument.

  42. TJ Williamson says:

    daedalus2u •…. your ignorance of biblical knowlege is clearly of BIBLICAL proportions my friend. Love how people take little blurps of the bible without the context and malign them for their own purpose. God, and only God, can justify the destruction of a people. Period. When sin had grown out of control and a people so wicked, he did infact allow and sometimes order the destruction of an entire city. And that meant down to the last one. However, he NEVER killed babies because they might be a burden on the parents finances, or just not wanted. There is nothing God considers more precious than his children. If you are not a believer and have not studied his word, then I can see how your ignorance to His love and will would confuse some scriptures. Maybe you should read not just those sentences you quoted, but the books and chapters around them.

  43. TJ Williamson says:

    The only attonement for sin in the old testament was by sacrifice. Blood was needed to be shed for attonement to God. Old Testament laws were put into place to help prepare the people for Jesus. To know that there is NO WAY a sinful person can make attonements for their hearts by their actions. It was impossible to make that many sacrifices, though God let them try. It was a lesson to them and to us, the future generations, that we can never be clean enough by our own actions for God. That is why he sent a perfect sacrifice. Perfect blood to be shed for us, and to show that he loved us enough to leave his throne and be a man like us. Death in some scriptures is metaphorical and not literal, speaking of the soul and not the body.

  44. Grandy says:

    Can't let this one pass.

    Actually, Ken, infanticide is a legitimate free-speech issue.

    "Legitimate free-speech issue" does not mean what you think it means.

    Further, Ken has not challenged the article on grounds that it should some how be considered exempt from first amendment standards. You weren't the first person in the thread to suggest something along these lines, but it's absolutely ludicrous to suggest it is so.

  45. Dwight Brown says:

    hedberg:

    "Note that they don't offer any insight as to how to determine when a child gains more moral right to life than an unimplanted zygote. Perhaps one needs to pass a college level course in ordinary differential equations with a solid grade of B or higher before becoming a person."

    Philip K. Dick wrote a short story, "The Pre-Persons", which involved retroactive abortion. In that story, ensoulment was postulated as occurring when a person gained the ability to do simple algebra.

  46. bw1 says:

    I'm with Frank Herbert on this. Have the authors of the article passed the Gom Jabbar? If not, they are only potential humans.

  47. hedberg says:

    Simple algebra is too low of a bar. It would not cull most philosophers, lawyers, theologians, and devotees of Ayn Rand.

  48. PLW says:

    It's like tenure!

  49. Jess says:

    Ken has not challenged the article on grounds that it should some how be considered exempt from first amendment standards.

    I'm still missing something. Ken claims normally to be a defender of freedom of expression, but that something about this published material (he has been careful not to specify what, although most readers have eagerly filled in the blank) has exempted its authors and editors from that defense. I'm not sure how that exemption would be "grounds" for anything, but what could you possibly mean?

    Actually, I've just now realized that we've all been trolled. Not by the JoME. By Ken. He might have wondered how far below the thin civilized veneer of most of his readers beat the venomous heart of an enraged censorious thug. We have the answer: not far at all. Even those few of us who were "right" didn't realize why Ken had written a post so ridiculous on its surface, so we all got trolled. I'm glad.

  50. JPC says:

    Does this remind anyone else of the South Park episode where Cartman's mom explores the option of abortion in the 40th trimester?

  51. Lago says:

    "Actually, I've just now realized that we've all been trolled. Not by the JoME. By Ken."

    would explain a few things. *shrugs*

  52. PiperTom says:

    Jerryskids said that as "a moral relativist, I believe that my ideas of right and wrong are only my ideas and should not be imposed on others."

    I presume to suppose he would agree that "any person's ideas of right and wrong are only that person's ideas and should not be imposed on others. Yes?

    I quite agree and…

    "Should not be imposed", THAT makes the statement a moral absolute.

  53. Ken says:

    Honestly, I didn't think the point I was making was so obscure as to be trolling. But whatever.

  54. SPQR says:

    What I thought your point was, Ken, that you were astonished at what was being seriously written in a medical ethics journal. I suppose I might have missed the point.

  55. Lago says:

    that's how i took it

  56. Ken says:

    Actually, I was more making a point about the concept that discussions are morally neutral — which is related to the "I'm just asking questions!" rhetorical device.

  57. Lago says:

    That's kind of what I thought you were getting at, but that's confusing when the argument is completely designed to point out an absurdity, not to propose policy, even when it's just idle observation. What you're saying is completely senseless, as if to reflect the article. So again, I can't help but think you wildly missed the point.

  58. Ken says:

    Bear in mind that my post was at least equally, if not more, about what Julian Savulescu wrote.

  59. I can't believe I have to defend this. This isn't Swiftian satire, nor a call to legalize infanticide. It isn't pro-choice, nor pro-abortion. It is exactly what it purports to be, an exploration in philosophical arguments. The study of medical ethics is about building a consistent set of medical ethical rules. To do so, the academics in the field often use the arguments that have been put forward previously in new contexts, trying to test them and find their boundaries. The authors are seriously putting forward the position that if you grant the premise and the argument, then you must grant the conclusion. They are calling for others to refute the premise or the argument, or accept the conclusion. They point out that infanticide is already legal and considered ethical in some countries under some circumstances, so perhaps the line is already drawn in the wrong place. The question they are exploring is the line too far, or not far enough based on already accepted arguments? And if we reject the conclusion, then we need to demonstrate why.

    I don't agree with their argument and so do not agree with the conclusion, but it is certainly a legitimate area for philosophical discussion.

  60. hedberg says:

    "The question they are exploring is the line too far, or not far enough based on already accepted arguments? And if we reject the conclusion, then we need to demonstrate why. "

    That is not true. They are asserting that the moral status of a newborn child is the same as the moral status of a zygote and that because it is acceptable for any reason, or no reason at all, to terminate a zygote that it is acceptable to kill a newborn child for any reason or for no reason.

    Here it is in the authors' own words:

    ".. if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn."

    Another quote from the article:

    "In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be."

    How in Hell does that get through peer review? Shouldn't the authors be required to develop a reasonable argument to explain how the "individual" newborn is not a "child?" Shouldn't they be expected to explain how it is that a fully developed and normal in every way child is morally no different from a zygote? Should they be permitted to argue in an ostensibly serious ethics journal that infanticide is not infanticide but is in fact abortion?

    Finally, how is it that you people expect to publish this shoddy philosophical bullshit and remain free of criticism? How is it that you can publish an argument that supports infanticide for any reason, or for no reason, and you claim that the outrage is not in publishing this but in objecting to it?

    The mind boggles.

  61. SPQR says:

    I guess I'm just going to stick with my cavemen level philosophical abilities and stay boggled that that is what is published in medical ethics journals.

  62. APK says:

    They are not scientists, they are terrible murders and terrorists. So we should eliminate them at once.

  63. Christopher says:

    Shouldn't they be expected to explain how it is that a fully developed and normal in every way child is morally no different from a zygote?

    Eh… maybe?

    The basic argument is that if you start from the premise "abortion is always permissible because a fetus is not a person" then you arrive inevitably at the conclusion that infanticide must also sometimes be permitted, for the reasons I went into above.

    When precisely the line should be drawn between person and non-person isn't particularly important, just that it falls sometime after birth. Lots of things don't have clearly defined edges; sometimes when you kill somebody it's definitely murder, sometimes it definitely isn't, and then there's a moral grey area. It doesn't mean the concept of murder is useless because it's sometimes hard to tell if it applies.

    On the other hand, "personhood" is such a shaky concept here that I wouldn't want to base my actions on it. Which isn't a good thing, if the authors are trying to advance the cause of legal infanticide.

    One thing that just occurred to me is that the problem here isn't so much the chain of reasoning, as it is the fact that the authors seem to see it as convincing. Had they more explicitly said something like "The premise that abortion is morally acceptable because it doesn't kill a 'person' inevitably leads us to justify infanticide. Since the premise leads to a ridiculous conclusion, it should be rejected, and abortion should be much more heavily regulated" they'd be getting death threats from an entirely different group of people, even though the argument would be essentially the same.

  64. Kresh says:

    The funny part of it all, is that the use of "burden" gives away the whole game. Classifying the infants as a burden is what makes it "ethical" to kill them. Everyone is a "burden" to someone or something in some manner. Using the logic of the paper, it would be easy to extend that rational for the summary execut… er, post-birth-abortion of any human being of any age. Just prove they're a burden. Done.

    I think what Ken was arguing, is that the authors of this paper could be called a burden under the auspices of their own criteria (after all, those who think the "ethical" discussion of killing infants is an acceptable topic could be seen as a burden by family members who don't want the world to think their WHOLE family is insane by association) and sentenced to "post-birth-abortion" or whatever they're calling "culling the herd" this week.

    Besides, this is base eugenics, and it's the same as it's always been. Establish that people really aren't people when they fall within a certain overly broad and purposefully undefined category, and it's easy to round up and kill the people you don't like. Can't have them being a "burden" to the real people, you know.

    Hmm. For some reason I want a doughnut now. How surreal.

  65. @hedberg Did you notice the word "if" in your first example paragraph?
    They don't give an argument supporting the claim that the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of a zygote because that is the point they are exploring. That argument was already given in the papers they cite, and the whole point here is that if you accept the argument in those papers, it leads to the conclusion that infanticide ought to be acceptable for the same reasons and under the same circumstances that abortion is acceptable. The authors are presenting this not a Swiftian idea because they are willing to believe that the arguments might be right despite the intuitive reaction to infanticide. I presume that somewhere in the literature they cited that the argument from viability is discredited, otherwise the refutation is trivial.

  66. pudge says:

    It is not Swiftian. He doesn't say he didn't mean what he wrote; he said he wouldn't advocate for it. Well, bully for him: he says my children aren't people, but he wouldn't advocate for a policy that incorporates that view. I see no reason to care about that.

    Now, if he takes back his completely irrational and baseless definition of "person," a similar definition that was used by the slave traders and owners some time ago, then maybe he'll be able to dig out of this hole. But the editors who let this dumb paper — and I do mean dumb — slip through should be flogged as much as the authors. And I don't mean that because I disagree with the conclusions, but because the premises are so nonsensical.

    The editor himself has written and spoken many times about his favor of eugenics for species improvement, for growing fetuses to harvest their body parts before destroying them, and so on. And now he says the journal "is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises."

    But there's nothing remotely "widely accepted" about the premise that a person is "an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her." That's a stupid, baseless, and completely arbitrary definition, designed not to capture what we all recognize as a person, nor to capture the essence of why we grant inherent rights to persons, but to exclude individuals they don't want to have those rights.

    I'm sure they'd remark something along the lines of, "no, this is all about why we have rights, because if an individual cannot assert their own rights, they have no rights." But that's just question-begging. There's no basis for that view other than the desire for it to be true.

    The weird thing, though, is that they disagree with themselves. They write, "a necessary condition for a subject to have a right to X is that she is harmed by a decision to deprive her of X." Clearly an implanted embryo is harmed by the destruction of that embryo. That's a self-evident fact. It's further obviously true upon examination (which makes me think the authors are all childless, or absent fathers) that newborns have aims. When they stop crying because we feed them or hold them, it is because their aims have been fulfilled.

    They simply make no serious case that their definition of person is reasonable, let alone correct; and even their case that newborns do not fit their own definition are extraordinarily weak.

    So please ignore the blather from Savulescu and the others about how this is just intellectual inquiry. If that were true, and they were the least bit competent, they would not have asserted the premise held by a tiny minority of philosophers as something that is simply true, let alone "widely accepted."

  67. pudge says:

    @daedalus2u You're nearly as bad as Savulescu.

    "The Bible is pretty much silent on contraception and abortion"

    False, though irrelevant to this discussion.

    "The Bible is not at all silent about what these authors call after-birth abortion, it is allowed and sometimes mandated."

    False, though irrelevant to this discussion. You give no examples of it. What the authors define as "after-birth abortion" is killing a newborn because it is a burden, or disabled, or somesuch. You give NO examples of killing a newborn, except for one: killing male children after conquest of a people, and that was for a very different reason.

    "So the GOP goal of preventing contraception and abortion and then abandoning infants and mothers to live or die in the gutter is completely consistent with the Bible."

    Are you a habitual liar, or is this something new for you? Every part of that is a lie as stated. The only part that is even PARTIALLY true is that the GOP would make MOST abortions illegal. The rest is blatant lies: the GOP has no policies or desires to prevent contraception, to abandon infants, or to leave mothers to be in gutters, let alone die in them. Nor is any of that consistent with any part of the Bible.

    "Written by Swift to call attention to how the poor Irish were being treated by the English. It is sort of how the GOP want to treat the poor and unemployed today. No safety net, wages insufficient to support an individual let alone a family, lack of opportunity, no medical care, no opportunity for education."

    More blatant lies. Many in the GOP do want to eliminate GOVERNMENT safety nets and medical care (except for employees of government). But this is not the mainstream GOP view; and even if it were, to say we therefore are against safety nets because we are against government safety nets is the worst kind of dishonesty.

    As to opportunities and wages, we believe that government has no place in them, and that they will be far improved for nearly everyone if government gets the hell out.

    As to opportunity for education, in fact, the GOP is very firmly dedicated to it, much moreso than the Democrats. The Democrats — except for urban black Democrats, mostly — want there to be a single educational system for everyone. Indeed, many Democrats and Union leaders say explicitly that it's the only way to have fairness: to give everyone literally the same education.

    This necessarily means that some students, who either don't have a good local school, or who for various reasons don't learn well within that school (no matter how good it is), have no real opportunity.

    It's only within school choice that there's educational opportunity for all.

    But you don't care. You just spew vile lies and hatred against those with whom you disagree, thinking that it's a rational or desirable substitute for reason.

    You're really just a terrible person.

  68. hedberg says:

    "Did you notice the word "if" in your first example paragraph?"

    Yes, of course I did, but they dispensed with any question about the"if" early on by asserting that a newborn child is not a child and is not a person and therefore has no more legal status than a fetus.

    If it was their intent to explore the question rather than to propose a nanswer, they failed miserably. The more charitable position is to assume that they meant what they wrote.

  69. hedberg says:

    "That's a stupid, baseless, and completely arbitrary definition, designed not to capture what we all recognize as a person, nor to capture the essence of why we grant inherent rights to persons, but to exclude individuals they don't want to have those rights."

    FTW

  70. Narad says:

    But there's nothing remotely "widely accepted" about the premise that a person is "an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her." That's a stupid, baseless, and completely arbitrary definition, designed not to capture what we all recognize as a person, nor to capture the essence of why we grant inherent rights to persons, but to exclude individuals they don't want to have those rights.

    I'm sure that your version of "what we all recognize as a person" will not be arbitrary or baseless in the least when it turns up.

  71. pudge says:

    I'm sure that your version of "what we all recognize as a person" will not be arbitrary or baseless in the least when it turns up.

    Correct. That said, it might not be widely accepted, either, but I would have the honesty to say so.

  72. pudge says:

    @Narad, I should be clear, in case you're misunderstanding. When I say their view is arbitrary and baseless, I am saying that there's no principles or observations or even traditions that it is derived from. It's just made-up to suit the ends.

    I don't have a set definition of person in my head right now, but if I were to spend time on it, I would think about why we use the word in this context — which is to determine who has rights, and why — and then look to the rights themselves. I'd look back on widely accepted premises, such as that we have an individual right to life because we are all created equal, and maybe dig into why we believe that, and what alternative views are, and so on, and build up from there.

    They appear to me to be, quite blatantly, doing it from the top down.

  73. hedberg says:

    It's not my intention to establish a complete definition of what is or is not a person, however, it is not baseless or arbitrary to state that the definition must include full term newborns with no significant defect. This seems to me to be pretty obvious. Nobody would deny that the authors of the subject paper are people and the only non-arbitrary, non-baseless difference between them and a newborn child is time.

    Considering that I am not a philosopher but just a night clerk at a convenience store, selling tallboys in paper bags to men (mostly) in tattered clothes, I don't begin to suggest that I can create a version of what a person is that would be uniformly acceptable to the intellectual giants who write for and edit such an august publication. I would, suggest, however, that including newborn children in the class of objects labeled persons is likely to be widely accepted while the premises that the authors base their argument on are not widely accepted at all. Indeed, are accepted by only a small minority of academic philosophers who would be our betters.

  74. Charles says:

    Sorry I'm late to the discussion but I was smoothing the dirt over the grave I had to dig to bury a guy who had the nerve to cut me off in traffic.

    So… what did we conclude? Was this OK?

  75. It isn't their argument. They don't substantiate the argument about what constitutes a "person" because they are not putting forth the claim about it, they are using an argument already used in the medical ethics literature, which they give references to. They give a premise, an argument and a conclusion. Only the conclusion is original to these authors, both the premise and arguments have come from others. The authors are saying that to be consistent, we must either accept the conclusion, or invalidate the argument or premise. Getting mad at them doesn't invalidate what they have said in the least. Trying to find the flaw is probably more productive, although if you aren't familiar with the literature and current state of the art in medical ethics, you are not likely to be given much weight.

  76. pudge says:

    They don't substantiate the argument about what constitutes a "person" because they are not putting forth the claim about it, they are using an argument already used in the medical ethics literature, which they give references to.

    Ah yes, references. The friend of the weak argument. No matter that the original reference isn't online and also probably didn't substantiate the claim, right?

    But I see no footnote on or their claims about what defines a person. They literally provide no references for the claim. But I am open to any such references that may exist: can you help?

    Regardless, even if we can find a reference to it (despite it not being given by the authors), and even if it does substantiate that this is a reasonable definition of "person" (which is highly unlikely), it's still clear that this definition is not "widely accepted." I defy you to demonstrate otherwise. Maybe if you mean "widely accepted" in some niche community, but not across philosophers in general, or medical ethicists in particular, no, it's not.

    Prove me wrong. Show me these references.

    They give a premise

    A ridiculous, baseless, unsubstantiatable, premise — that isn't widely accepted — yes.

    The authors are saying that to be consistent, we must either accept the conclusion, or invalidate the argument or premise.

    That's just false. They are saying no such thing. On the contrary, they assert no such "ifs" or conditionals in their several assertions that newborns are not persons. You are putting words into their mouths to allow them a ladder for the hole they've dug for themselves.

    Getting mad at them doesn't invalidate what they have said in the least.

    Exactly right! That's why I provided an argument that invalidated what they said. An argument you've done nothing to rebut, except to say that they provided references and conditionals they didn't provide.

    Trying to find the flaw is probably more productive, although if you aren't familiar with the literature and current state of the art in medical ethics, you are not likely to be given much weight.

    And if you handwave at mythical literature, you are not likely to be given much weight, either.

  77. The arguments about personhood are from reference number 6, "Tooley M. Abortion and infanticide. Philos Public Aff 1972;1:37–65." The follow on argument is not explicitly referenced but it is well know in the medical ethics literature: "Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 142."

    I am not saying they don't believe the argument, they very well might. But unlike scientific papers that present data, all that philosophical papers have are premise, argument and conclusion. It is implicit in the field that there is a challenge to find the flaw.

    The whole point of medical ethics is to find the rules regarding medical choices and procedures. They start with things that everyone agrees are ethical and things that everyone agrees are unethical, and then move the lines closer and closer by reasoned arguments not just emotion. Since there are places and circumstances (cited in the article) where infanticide is legal, this is de facto evidence that it is at best a grey area. They then use these per-existing arguments to show that infanticide ought to be treated the same way as abortion as a method to reduce the grey to black and white. If you think that their answer is more black than white, they want to know why. What argument do you bring that does not turn already accepted white to black? You may not agree with the pre-existing white either, but then you better be prepared to refute the arguments used to establish those lines as well.

  78. hedberg says:

    Brian Utterback:

    I am not mad at the authors for writing the article, nor am I mad at the journal's editors for publishing it, nor am I mad at you for defending the publication. I'm not mad at anybody, though I am nonplussed.

    For example, you have said, "The question they are exploring is the line too far, or not far enough based on already accepted arguments?"

    But, in the article I find,"the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion. Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. "

    Seems to me that they are not exploring where the line should be, they are declaring where it should be (and they have every right to do so).

    Then, not so much later in the article we find:

    "The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.

    "Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her. This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons. "

    I find no footnotes nor references to other arguments. Seems to me that it is a bald assertion as to how a "person" is defined.

  79. SPQR says:

    Bringing up Peter Singer's name in a discussion of ethics does not exactly make things more palatable for me.

  80. pudge says:

    Brian Utterback:

    The arguments about personhood are from reference number 6

    Perhaps, but if so, they don't claim it.

    The follow on argument is not explicitly referenced but it is well know in the medical ethics literature: "Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 142."

    Yes, Singer, whose work on this subject has been widely panned both in and out of the medical ethics community. It's about the furthest thing from "widely accepted" you can get. Again, I am just quoting the editor, that their goal is "to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises."

    There's no widely accepted premise here.

    And worse, Singer's work here is baseless, too … even if you accept utilitarianism (which I largely do). He simply makes the assertion that personhood is dependent on various characteristics, but he never actually makes that case with serious arguments.

    But unlike scientific papers that present data, all that philosophical papers have are premise, argument and conclusion.

    Yes, in this case, a terribly irrational premise with no broad support.

    The whole point of medical ethics is to find the rules regarding medical choices and procedures.

    Yes, from valid and reasonable premises.

    They start with things that everyone agrees are ethical and things that everyone agrees are unethical

    Sure. And this paper does no such thing.

    and then move the lines closer and closer by reasoned arguments

    If you pick a nonsensical premise, you can come up with any reasoned arguments you want. The arguments are irrelevant at that point.

    Since there are places and circumstances (cited in the article) where infanticide is legal, this is de facto evidence that it is at best a grey area.

    Almost no one questions that killing infants is sometimes legal. The question is whether it's ethical in particular circumstances, and I see no examples of "grey area" about killing a newborn just because the parents don't want to be parents is legal (that is what the authors argue). So this isn't serious evidence, no.

    If you think that their answer is more black than white, they want to know why.

    Because the premise is completely baseless.

    What argument do you bring that does not turn already accepted white to black?

    That the premise is completely baseless.

    You may not agree with the pre-existing white either, but then you better be prepared to refute the arguments used to establish those lines as well.

    If anyone could present a serious argument that personhood is dependent on those characteristics, I'd be prepared to refute them.

  81. hedberg says:

    I, too, am no fan of Peter Singer.

    I read something by Singer which seemed to indicate that not even he could follow the behavioral requirements of his own philosophy. So, perhaps not even Singer is a fan.

  82. pudge says:

    hedberg:

    I am not mad at the authors for writing the article, nor am I mad at the journal's editors for publishing it, nor am I mad at you for defending the publication. I'm not mad at anybody, though I am nonplussed.

    I would not say I am mad, but I am … annoyed. Such terrible reasoning presenting itself as something else is societally damaging. I don't even care what the topic is: even if it were something that I agreed with, I'd be vocally critical about it.

    I find no footnotes nor references to other arguments. Seems to me that it is a bald assertion as to how a "person" is defined.

    It is very similar to Singer's arguments, and probably others before him. But they make no direct references, and I've read this claim before (including from Singer) and have never found a serious argument underlying it.

    And I want to be clear here: I am not saying I merely disagree with the claim. I am saying there is literally no rational argument backing it up. If they said they believed that is when personhood should be, because they just like it that way … fine. But to assert that there's some reasoned way to arrive at the conclusion that personhood is defined in this way is just a load of crap.

  83. hedberg says:

    Pudge: "But to assert that there's some reasoned way to arrive at the conclusion that personhood is defined in this way is just a load of crap."

    We're talking about philosophers here; they do this sort of stuff all the time. And, it seems to be a requirement of their profession. If they were required to actually prove something before getting published, they'd never get published and they'd never get tenure and then where would we be?

    I guess you can tell that I'm not big fan of answering empirical questions with assertions.

  84. pudge says:

    If they were required to actually prove something before getting published, they'd never get published and they'd never get tenure and then where would we be?

    Better off. Hence my annoyance. :-)

    And I don't even actually require that they prove it. I just want them to note the fact that this is a niche argument that most people don't accept and that has no serious arguments behind it … is that so wrong?

  85. Narad says:

    If anyone could present a serious argument that personhood is dependent on those characteristics, I'd be prepared to refute them.

    OK. Why do we abhor death?

  86. pudge says:

    Narad:

    OK. Why do we abhor death?

    While I am not opposed to discussing the answer to the question, I don't see how it tells us about personhood. You're not actually making an argument yet.

  87. hedberg says:

    Abhor death? I, for one, don't abhor death. I abhor the taking of an innocent person's life (and all humans are people at least from the time of birth) without consent and for any reason or for no reason. But death in general, no. That would be like abhorring gravity.

  88. Narad says:

    You're not actually making an argument yet.

    If you can't answer this question, then neither are you.

  89. pudge says:

    Narad:

    If you can't answer this question, then neither are you.

    Um … yes. I am not making an argument. I am asking for an argument to be made. If one is made, I'll respond to it.

    You seemed like you wanted to do this … but then you didn't.

  90. Narad says:

    I am not making an argument. I am asking for an argument to be made.

    Of course you're making an argument, albeit by naked assertion:

    When I say their view is arbitrary and baseless, I am saying that there's no principles or observations or even traditions that it is derived from.

    Formulating answers to this question is part of the "tradition." Otherwise, it's no big deal in the first place.

  91. pudge says:

    Narad:

    Of course you're making an argument, albeit by naked assertion

    You're confused along two vectors. First, I was not talking about that when I was asking the question. Yes, I have made arguments in this discussion, but what you responded to was not an argument.

    Second, that assertion was basically just an assertion that the other assertion was merely an assertion. As it was, as demonstrated, presented as merely an assertion, I am comfortable in my assertion to that effect; but my assertion also serves as an invitation to prove me wrong.

    So: go ahead! Stop beating around the bush. Make an argument.

    Formulating answers to this question is part of the "tradition."

    That still doesn't imply how it's related to the question of personhood. If you can't tell me how the question is related, I'll assume it's not, and I'll continue to wait for an argument backing up the assertion that personhood is dependent on those characteristics mentioned in the paper.

    You seem to think you're clever, and maybe you are, but I am not here to play games with you and guess at what you're trying to say. If you have an argument to make, then make it.

  92. Narad says:

    That still doesn't imply how it's related to the question of personhood.

    Seriously, you don't see… mebbe some sort of connection between the perception of death and the "question of personhood"?

    You seem to think you're clever, and maybe you are, but I am not here to play games with you and guess at what you're trying to say. If you have an argument to make, then make it.

    I seem to think I'm clever? I'm not trying to make you "guess at" anything. I asked a question which bears upon your substitution of conclusion for argument: From what arises the problem with death? What is its scope? You seem to think that this can be bubbled away with some sort of Nagarjuna routine in which your only job is to parry arguments.

  93. pudge says:

    Seriously, you don't see… mebbe some sort of connection between the perception of death and the "question of personhood"?

    Again, that's not an argument. But I'll throw you a bone: it's not immediately obvious to me, no. And because it is not immediately obvious to me, and because I have absolutely no reason to think there is any connection (your implied assertion of a connection carries no weight), I therefore haven't bothered thinking about it, and — as noted — I have no reason to answer the question.

    I asked a question which bears upon your substitution of conclusion for argument

    Yes, you believe that. And I am merely asking you to explain how it is relevant before I bother answering. That's really not too much to ask.

    You seem to think that this can be bubbled away with some sort of Nagarjuna routine in which your only job is to parry arguments.

    Oh please. First of all, it's a simple fact that you have made no argument. Not yet, anyway.

    Second, I am sitting here, repeatedly asking you to simply explain the relevance, directly implying that if you do, I will answer the question.

    If I were trying to parry the argument, I would ignore it, or try to change the subject, and not repeatedly ask you to bring clarity to your question.

    The only curious thing here is why you won't explain the relevance, and I can only see three conclusions: you are incapable; you have some irrational aversion to explaining your arguments; or you are just playing games.

    It seems to me to be the latter.

  94. I hope I don't disappoint you, but I'm going to remain silent on whether or not the malefactors should be . . . terminated with extreme prejudice.

    Is Kenneth M. Boyd indicating that Giubilini and Minerva's paper was subjected to peer-review before it was published? If so, the reviewers did themselves, the authors, and the JME a disservice. That was one of the most poorly written papers I've ever seen. Entirely too many gaps for anyone not immersed in the apparently long-term academic debate to have a clue what was going on.

    Publish or perish? If that's the best G & M can do, they're going to perish even though they've been published. Did they throw that together late on a Saturday night and think it was a good idea?

  95. It's me again, Margaret. says:

    My grandmother told me her teenage brother was so jealous of her as the first child of my widowed great-grandfather's second wife that he took her down to the crick and laid her out in the sun so she'd die. I think that would qualify as her being an "unbearable burden" to an "actual person" under Giubilini and Minerva's set-up — and would make it morally right for the brother to do what he did.

    As for the paper's being a poorly written, modern-day Modest Proposal — no, that's not at all what G & M had in mind.

  96. Narad says:

    Again, that's not an argument. But I'll throw you a bone: it's not immediately obvious to me, no. And because it is not immediately obvious to me, and because I have absolutely no reason to think there is any connection (your implied assertion of a connection carries no weight), I therefore haven't bothered thinking about it, and — as noted — I have no reason to answer the question.

    Dandy. Mutatis mutandis, I have no reason to think that there's any difference between infanticide and drowning a burlap sack full of kittens. Problem solved.

  97. pudge says:

    Narad: I think you have just confirmed that you will not actually make an argument. You've been given plenty of pleading and have had plenty of opportunity, and you refuse.

    I hope you don't think anyone's reading this and thinking you actually made a case, or harmed mine. Because that would be just sad.

  98. Dr. Mengele's Still Drumming”

    See that baby in the corner?
    Her life might not be so good!
    I can tell she'll be a problem…
    That much, ma'am, is understood!

    She's not really quite a “person”;
    Yes, we're sure she's unaware.
    Her life may not be worth living…
    Let's “abort” and show we care.

    She's just not what we'd call “human”…
    She's not really at that stage.
    “Cute” enough, but just not “with it”…
    Unaware and disengaged.

    She has no real moral standing…
    Not just yet, and that's the glitch!
    She's no diff'rent from a tomcat,
    Or some tiny mongrel bitch.

    We'll decide for you what's “human”…
    When a “what” becomes a “who”!
    On these shifting sands of reason,
    Moral Law we may undo.

    These things change, ma'am. Please don't worry!
    We know best about these things;
    We've been schooled in Bio-Ethics,
    Singing songs that Singer sings!

    That's the song of Peter Singer…
    (Margaret Sanger sang it, too).
    If that melody's familiar,
    Maybe you should ask the Jew.

    That's the downbeat of Eugenics,
    Euthanasia's Rhythm Band.
    Dr. Mengele's still drumming
    Out there on that shifting sand.

    “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teaching comes through hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” -The Apostle Paul (1Timothy 4: 1-2)
    * * * * * * *
    "[N]ew-born humans are neither persons nor quasi-persons, and their destruction is in no way intrinsically wrong." – Dr. Michael Tooley, Professor of Ethics , University of Colorado, President of the American Philosophical Society (2011-2012)

    “Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping their lives over time. They are not persons. Hence their lives would seem to be no more worthy of protection than the life of a fetus. “ -Dr. Peter Singer PhD, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

    "After ruling our thoughts and our decisions about life and death for nearly two thousand years, the traditional Western ethic has collapsed." -Dr. Peter Singer, PhD., Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

  99. Voss says:

    @ TJ Williamson

    "Love how people take little blurps of the bible without the context and malign them for their own purpose."

    Wow. When was the last time you read the Torah? It can be hard to find chapters which DON'T support killing.

    "When sin had grown out of control and a people so wicked, he did infact allow and sometimes order the destruction of an entire city. And that meant down to the last one. "

    So that means all the the children in those cities were sinners, and thus deserved to die, right? All the day-old newborns found time to sin before they were murdered by god's righteous army?

    "However, he NEVER killed babies because they might be a burden on the parents finances, or just not wanted. There is nothing God considers more precious than his children."

    Is that why he murdered every 1st born male child in Egypt for the crime of existing?

    Is that why he murdered every single infant and child in the world by drowning? Because he loves them so much?

    "Maybe you should read not just those sentences you quoted, but the books and chapters around them."

    Maybe you should, too – but don't read them as an apologist, by ignoring or twisting the parts that you wish weren't there.

  100. Voss says:

    @ pudge

    " "The Bible is not at all silent about what these authors call after-birth abortion, it is allowed and sometimes mandated."

    False, though irrelevant to this discussion. You give no examples of it. What the authors define as "after-birth abortion" is killing a newborn because it is a burden, or disabled, or somesuch. You give NO examples of killing a newborn, except for one: killing male children after conquest of a people, and that was for a very different reason."

    Um, you could easily make a case that murdering the male children of your defeated enemy is justified exactly because they are a burden.

    And I'm sorry if you missed the point, but if the Bible repeatedly advocates the murder of children, then using the Bible to argue against the murder of infants doesn't really work, now does it? Especially when it advocates that too, either explicitly or by implication.

    So, sorry that your argument is a failure. Better luck next time!

  101. pudge says:

    Voss:

    Um, you could easily make a case that murdering the male children of your defeated enemy is justified exactly because they are a burden.

    No, you could not make that case, easily or otherwise. The very clear purpose was not because they are a "burden" but because they would be a very real danger to the Jewish nation.

    … if the Bible repeatedly advocates the murder of children …

    It clearly doesn't, so what follows this conditional is therefore irrelevant.

    So, sorry that your argument is a failure.

    I'm sorry, did you actually give a rational argument against anything I said? I must've missed it.

  102. GT says:

    @h4x354x0r – medical technology might enable a 22-week foetus to survive, but extremely grave retardation of the eventual person is common for anyone 'saved' before (roughly) 30 weeks. Nobody can pretend that a 22-week foetus is 'viable' in the sense that it is capable of developing into a fully-sentient adult that is capable of providing for itself.

    The would-be parents incur massive costs (and impose massive costs on public-health resources) for two main reasons: idiotic belief that 'every child is precious (especially ours)'; and pressure from the medical community ('We can save your baby…' without the caveat '… but it's probably wind up being a massive financial and psychological burden on you for the rest of your lives, and then on society thereafter. It will be miserable, isolated and will probably die shortly after you do. This will happen with P~0.6')

    People just need to come to terms with the horrible reality that human reproductive systems are a bit shit, and from time to time the female's body – for whatever reason – spits out the zygote/embryo/foetus before it's properly baked.

    It's nobody's fault, and folks ought to accept that: to do otherwise is to saddle oneself – at the age of 20-something, with fuck-all understanding of what it MEANS to try to raise a developmentally-fucked individual – to a life of massive costs, appallingly-low 'joy', and mind-bending stress. (And almost always, the abandonment of one income within the household and the requirement for externally-sourced additional carers).

    AS for all the Bible-defenders up in this bitch… the fact that you're prepared to hinge your moral lives on a system designed by and for Bronze Age nomadic peasants, says more about you than you would like. But unless you're the type who treats that excrescence as a EULA (just click 'Accept' without READING it in FULL), you can not possibly be in here arguing that it is not a depraved piece of drivel that advocates wide-scale slaughter, INCLUDING OF INFANTS.

    Also: for those who think the something with a non-zero probability of being a viable human should be treated as if it is an actual human… well, P[Tay-Sachs| both parents carry the gene] is only 0.25 – so all the 'screening' that the Ashkenazi do is retro-actively aborting a whole mess of potential babies, no? No abortion is performed (obviously) but babies that had a potential for existing are deliberately not brought into existence.

    Because that's how stupid you sound.

  103. pudge says:

    @GT:

    medical technology might enable a 22-week foetus to survive, but extremely grave retardation of the eventual person is common for anyone 'saved' before (roughly) 30 weeks. Nobody can pretend that a 22-week foetus is 'viable' in the sense that it is capable of developing into a fully-sentient adult that is capable of providing for itself.

    Wow. So now we have sentience, non-sentience, and "non-fully-sentient"? What other categories of personhood can we introduce so we can degrade the value of other people? This is fun, it feels like a game!

    Also, "viability" is an insipid way to determine whether a life should have its rights respected, because viability is necessarily contingent on our technological abilities. By saying that this fetus isn't viable so it has no rights, you're saying that human rights depend on our technology. That's extreme and bizarre.

    In 20 years, we could have complete viability outside the womb at 15, 10, or even 5 weeks. Will it have human rights then, even though it doesn't now? Either it would, in which case your view is extreme and bizarre, or you are being disingenuous by even talking about viability, because you don't really care about it.

    idiotic belief that 'every child is precious'

    If it is idiotic, then you should have no problem demonstrating it to be wrong. I await your demonstration.

    People just need to come to terms with the horrible reality that human reproductive systems are a bit shit, and from time to time the female's body – for whatever reason – spits out the zygote/embryo/foetus before it's properly baked.

    Please tell us precisely, scientifically, what "properly baked" means, and why it doesn't apply to someone who has "extremely grave retardation," and whether it also doesn't apply to someone who has mild retardation, and whether such people are also not "fully-sentient."

    the fact that you're prepared to hinge your moral lives on a system designed by and for Bronze Age nomadic peasants, says more about you than you would like

    Such as? Please, elucidate.

    … unless you're the type who treats that excrescence as a EULA (just click 'Accept' without READING it in FULL), you can not possibly be in here arguing that it is not a depraved piece of drivel

    I can and do. Demonstrate that it's depraved or drivel. Be careful, however, to not rely on Bronze-age morality — stupid things like "every life is precious" — in your demonstration, because that would expose you as hypocritical and clueless.

    for those who think the something with a non-zero probability of being a viable human should be treated as if it is an actual human

    Wow, such an obviously lame question-begging fallacy. You can do better than that, can't you? I mean, it's completely obvious that the question is whether or not that the life in the womb already IS an actual human. I deny it is a "potential human" but that is already a human (and science backs me up, for any scientific definition of "human").

    all the 'screening' that the Ashkenazi do is retro-actively aborting a whole mess of potential babies, no?

    No. That human life never began. Biologically, an aborted fetus IS a human life.

    Because that's how stupid you sound.

    You're literally attacking arguments that no one here is making, and you think WE sound stupid? Heh.

  104. h4x354x0r says:

    @Pudge: Have you solved the "Defacto Control" issue yet? No? Until you do, I've got some contraceptives over here that could actually reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions…

    Have you figured out how to force a positive outcome without inducing harm? No? Until you do, I've got some contraceptives over here that could actually reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions…

    Here's some "Proof" that every life is NOT precious:

    There are approximately 13 Million conceptions annually in the US.
    Of those conceptions, roughly 50% – almost 6.5 million of them – never even implant, and get flushed out from the get-go.
    Of those that do implant, spontaneous abortion rates start just under 20% at the onset of puberty, and rise in pareto-curve distribution to over 80% just before menopause. The mean is about 25%, or another 1.5 Million spontaneous abortions per year.

    GT is absolutely correct: "…human reproductive systems are a bit shit". By the numbers, nature is responsible for nearly 8 million abortions per year – a 60% failure rate. Biological reproduction is actually a very messy, low-yield process.

    After that, I'll throw in the actual treatment and care so many already-been-born children in our society receive. Just in case you need "Exhibit B" on disabusing the "every child is precious" bullshit. Truth is, nobody gives a fuck about any kids besides their own. If you want to single out the 9 months (1% of average lifespan) a child spends developing in the womb as especially deserving of your attention, I'm calling "Hidden Agenda."

    Yes, is sucks that humans add another 9% – 1.2 Million – elective abortions. I understand it's essentially murdering a human being with a developed nervous system, brain, bone structure, functioning circulation system, pretty much the works. However, most women who chose an abortion ALSO understand this.

    The question is, do YOU understand:
    A) That women DO have total control, and they CAN make that decision;
    B) WHY they make that decision.

    While you're working on your answers, I will once again point out that in the meantime, I have some really good contraception over here that could really reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions…

  105. pudge says:

    @h4x354x0r:

    Have you solved the "Defacto Control" issue yet?

    The what?

    I've got some contraceptives over here that could actually reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions…

    How is that relevant to what I've written?

    Have you figured out how to force a positive outcome without inducing harm?

    Yes.

    No?

    No: yes. You "force" a positive outcome by allowing people to act freely, using force only to prevent and punish direct harm. You therefore are not inducing any harm.

    I've got some contraceptives over here that could actually reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions…

    Again, this is not relevant to anything I've written. Ever, really. I never said one word against contraception, and I never said anything about contraception except to point out that @daedalus2u was lying when he said the GOP had any policies about it.

    To be clear, I am not against contraception. I am against forcing others to pay for or provide contraception, of course, because a. it violates their liberty, and b. there is no need to do it, because it is widely available for cheap and for free.

    Here's some "Proof" that every life is NOT precious:

    I am glad that, by using the quotes there, you are explicitly recognizing that it is not actual proof.

    There are approximately 13 Million conceptions annually in the US. … roughly 50% … never even implant, and get flushed out from the get-go. … spontaneous abortion rates start just under 20% at the onset of puberty, and rise in pareto-curve distribution to over 80% just before menopause. The mean is about 25%, or another 1.5 Million spontaneous abortions per year. … nature is responsible for nearly 8 million abortions per year – a 60% failure rate. Biological reproduction is actually a very messy, low-yield process.

    And? This, in fact, says precisely nothing that implies life is not precious. On the contrary, it quite strongly implies that life is precious, because it is somewhat difficult and rare.

    Truth is, nobody gives a fuck about any kids besides their own.

    False.

    Yes, is sucks that humans add another 9% – 1.2 Million – elective abortions.

    If life isn't precious, why does that "suck"? I call hidden agenda!

    I understand it's essentially murdering a human being with a developed nervous system, brain, bone structure, functioning circulation system, pretty much the works. However, most women who chose an abortion ALSO understand this.

    So? Understanding it changes nothing.

    That women DO have total control, and they CAN make that decision

    So? Making a decision to kill a human life doesn't make it OK.

    WHY they make that decision.

    Yes. And? That you have a reason for killing a human life doesn't make it OK.

    I have some really good contraception over here that could really reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions…

    And I'll point out again that you are massively confused.

  106. h4x354x0r says:

    If you don't understand "Defacto Control" – i.e. the woman has complete control and there's not a damn thing you can really do about it – then you don't really even deserve a seat at the table. Too bad so few people with a seat at the table do understand this.

    The contraceptives issue is absolutely central to the abortion debate – BECAUSE CONTRACEPTION USE CAN REDUCE ABORTION RATES. Do you really not understand this? It's proven, available technology that can reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

    Um… women are freely choosing to abort their babies, now. Hello? Thank you for driving home my point.

    I won't address the rest of your counterpoints, because there's just not much there to address. Just replying "And…" or "So?" means you're choosing to ignore the information presented.

    If you don't like abortion, but you're not actively promoting contraceptive use, you are the confused one. What are you for, Crack babies?!?

    I don't like abortion, but… I understand that just being against abortion isn't going to make it go away. So, I keep bringing up contraception AS A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM. What's "confused" about that?

    So, do you want to reduce abortions, or not? I've got some contraceptives over here that could do a really good job at that…

    So, do you?

  107. Scott Jacobs says:

    The contraceptives issue is absolutely central to the abortion debate – BECAUSE CONTRACEPTION USE CAN REDUCE ABORTION RATES. Do you really not understand this? It's proven, available technology that can reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

    You know what else reduces such things?

    NOT FUCKING!

    This isn't about keeping contraception away from women, you thundering fuckwit. It is about not forcing institutions who have fundamental problems with it from having to provide it.

    No one has even suggested – for one second – that Fluke and her free-fucking friends should not be able to get the pill. What people are saying, you feserting pile of stupid, is that a private Catholic university shouldn't have to be the people helping foot the bill for it.

    What part of that is so very difficult for you to grasp, besides the big words?

  108. pudge says:

    @h4x354x0r

    If you don't understand "Defacto Control" – i.e. the woman has complete control and there's not a damn thing you can really do about it – then you don't really even deserve a seat at the table.

    I do understand that. I also understand that you provided the phrase without any context.

    So as to your original question: there is no problem to solve. You're making unwarranted and false assumptions. You think that because I am against abortion, that women having de facto control over their bodies is some sort of a problem for me or my view. It's not.

    The contraceptives issue is absolutely central to the abortion debate

    What contraceptives issue? I know of none, and you've not mentioned one. We have widely available free and cheap contraception in this country. What issue are you referring to?

    Um… women are freely choosing to abort their babies, now.

    Yes … and?

    I won't address the rest of your counterpoints, because there's just not much there to address. Just replying "And…" or "So?" means you're choosing to ignore the information presented.

    False. It means you are only providing information, and not an argument. You can throw out all the information you like, but if you can't make a cogent argument out of it, then how could I even begin to respond to it?

    If you don't like abortion, but you're not actively promoting contraceptive use, you are the confused one.

    False.

    What are you for, Crack babies?!?

    I am for liberty. I don't oppose or promote contraception.

    I don't like abortion … So, I keep bringing up contraception AS A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM. What's "confused" about that?

    It's obviously confused because everyone has access to contraception already, yet we still have abortions. So obviously, it's not a solution.

  109. pudge says:

    @Scott Jacobs:

    This isn't about keeping contraception away from women, you thundering fuckwit. It is about not forcing institutions who have fundamental problems with it from having to provide it.

    Is it? Because I thought this was about saying that killing newborn children is morally right.

    Maybe you're right, that this person is talking about that separate issue; he's all over the place in his comments, and it's hard to tell. But until he started talking about contraception — which is available to anyone who wants it, for free and cheap — it really hadn't been brought up in this discussion.

  110. h4x354x0r says:

    Not fucking… now there's an idea that hasn't worked since the dawn of humanity.

    You can have a selfish-righteous attitude about "not paying" for other people's contraception and just "not fucking" all you want, and that's fine. I understand the viewpoint. But… that's not going to reduce abortions.

    There are social-level costs to unplanned pregnancies too. Just sayin'…

  111. pudge says:

    @h4x354x0r

    You can have a selfish-righteous attitude about "not paying" for other people's contraception

    It's not self-righteous. You're just making things up.

    I understand the viewpoint.

    You obviously do not.

    But… that's not going to reduce abortions.

    Again: it is already free and cheap and available to everyone who wants it. You're just making up a problem — lack of access to contraception — that doesn't exist.

  112. h4x354x0r says:

    Wait… You're "for liberty" but… against a woman's right to freely choose to control her own body?

    I think you're done here, pudgy hypocrite. (not really, I'm almost certain I'll let you have the last word here) And, I still don't understand what your actual proposal to reduce abortions is. Maybe a clear proposal from you on how to reduce abortion rates could be that last word?

    Unfortunately, a social level commitment to contraceptive use has yet to truly begin. That, far more than yours or anyone else's moral consternation, will actually make a difference and reduce abortion rates.

  113. Scott Jacobs says:

    Not fucking… now there's an idea that hasn't worked since the dawn of humanity.

    No, actually, it is 100% effective. If you don't have the money to pay for your own fucking anti-baby pill, don't fuck. If you don't fuck, then you will absolutely never get knocked up.

    Or, only fuck your own gender. That would work too, I suppose.

    And if you want your anti-baby pills to be covered, maybe you should not directly associate your coverage with a Catholic institution.

    No one forced Fluke to attend a Catholic college. She doesn't like their plans, she can fuck off and go elsewhere.

  114. Scott Jacobs says:

    Wait… You're "for liberty" but… against a woman's right to freely choose to control her own body?

    You are making shit up again.

    I don't like abortion either, but that doesn't mean a woman doesn't have the right to choose.

    It also doesn't mean I don't think women should have access to birth control. But THAT doesn't mean that I should have any hand in paying for her convenience.

  115. h4x354x0r says:

    Sorry Scott, that was a response to Pudge's post, not yours. (unless you and pugde are just two different accounts by the same person?)

    As for you, Scott J, it appears that you simply wish to keep the whole thing a personal choice, including the ability to have an abortion. You just don't want to absorb any costs no matter which way the cookie crumbles. I'm fine with that; it seems like a fairly consistent and workable viewpoint.

    I will still point out that while actually "not fucking" is indeed almost (there was that one instance) 100% effective at a personal level, the idea that just "not fucking" works on a society-wide scale is pure and utter bullshit. It's been proven not to work. And, that fact costs you money. Something to think about, anyway.

  116. Scott Jacobs says:

    I will still point out that while actually "not fucking" is indeed almost (there was that one instance) 100% effective at a personal level, the idea that just "not fucking" works on a society-wide scale is pure and utter bullshit. It's been proven not to work. And, that fact costs you money. Something to think about, anyway.

    We'll ignore the fact that I already absorb costs for providing abortions and contraception – I accept that the federal government will continue to give money to Planned Parenthood no matter my objections.

    I just don't want to absorb any more.

    But back to what I quoted…

    Look, it is simple – There is one method of "not having a baby" that works 100% of the time (excepting that one time, which a person may or may not accept as true, so YMMV), and that's not having sex. All other forms of prevention are only "almost entirely" effective. There's that 1-5 percent chance for any method, and that assumes you use it perfectly. "Hey Meg, did you know that if you're on birth control and take an antibiotic, it makes the birth control not work? Because no one told me!"

    It comes down to this – if you don't want to have a kid, you have one perfect method, and a bunch of almost perfect methods. If you don't much care for the perfect method (I know I don't), then either a) pay for your own non-baby method or b) don't get your coverage through an institution very closely aligned with a body known to have a huge issue with the stuff.

  117. h4x354x0r says:

    @Scott: That's fine, as long and you don't whine about abortions later.

  118. pudge says:

    @h4x354x0r:

    Wait… You're "for liberty" but… against a woman's right to freely choose to control her own body?

    When it would intentionally result in the killing of another human life, yes. I am very much for property rights … that doesn't mean I am not against slavery.

    And you still have this bizarre notion that I should be for mandated contraception funding, or else not be against abortions. That's just irrational. It would be like saying "you can't be against slavery, unless you're for subsidies to farmers."

    I am for a lack of government intervention except as necessary to prevent direct intentional harm caused to one person by another. That means I am against government intervention in health insurance, and against abortion.

    It's very simple. That you call me a hypocrite means you don't understand this very common and basic viewpoint, which is just sad.

    I still don't understand what your actual proposal to reduce abortions is

    I never offered it, and you never asked. You assumed, and you got it very wrong.

    Maybe a clear proposal from you on how to reduce abortion rates could be that last word?

    No. It's irrelevant to the point. You can't rationally make the argument than anything I've said hinges on this.

    Unfortunately, a social level commitment to contraceptive use has yet to truly begin.

    Fine, then go tell people to use contraception more. That is not something I am against in any way, and has nothing to do with anything I've said.

  119. SPQR says:

    And I thought the discussion started off downhill with a piece by a "medical ethicist" that lacked ethics. But it was followed by a random number named commenter without logic.

  120. h4x354x0r says:

    So you're against abortions, but have not, and in fact pretentiously will not, offer any possible solutions. Instead, you call me "confused." What a fuck-stick. Seriously.

    So yes, absolutely, I am going to go tell people to use contraception more. I already have. I will continue to do so. Quite frankly, I would like more help with this. It will, eventually, be what actually reduces abortion rates.

    Too bad idea-less hamsters like you have become little more than speed bumps slowing progress on the road to reducing abortions.

    I'll check back from time to time, to see if anyone has other ideas. I don't think writing a swiftian paper justifying infanticide because abortion exists is going to do it. I don't think simply being against abortion is going to do it. I don't think making it illegal is going to do it. I don't think having a hate-fest on Sandra Fluke is going to do it. I don't think telling people not to have sex is going to do it.

    Why? Because we've already been trying these things for centuries, and they haven't worked yet.

    I think availability of birth control (not really an issue), and a serious social commitment to it's use (this is the real issue, and the one thing we haven't tried yet), can make a much bigger impact in reducing abortions than all the above combined.

  121. h4x354x0r says:

    Not random. You just lack perception.

  122. Ken says:

    It is a great comfort that this thread will eventually auto-lock.

  123. h4x354x0r says:

    @Ken: What is the auto-lock rule for discussion threads here? Regardless, I'll take the hint and stop posting on this thread.

    Thanks,

  124. pudge says:

    h4x354x0r:

    So you're against abortions, but have not, and in fact pretentiously will not, offer any possible solutions. Instead, you call me "confused." What a fuck-stick. Seriously.

    You've provided no reason why it is relevant to this discussion. Nor have you even hinted at a reason why one needs to have any solutions. I can be against war without having a solution to end it, can't I? That's not to say I have no ideas for solutions, but it is completely off-topic in this discussion, so I am not going down that path.

    I find it troublesome that someone would attack someone else for refusing to discuss something that is off-topic, going so far as to pretend that they have nothing to say on the off-topic subject. It's just so bizarrely irrational.

    So yes, absolutely, I am going to go tell people to use contraception more. I already have. I will continue to do so. Quite frankly, I would like more help with this.

    As long as you don't want the government to do it, fine.

    Too bad idea-less hamsters like you have become little more than speed bumps slowing progress on the road to reducing abortions.

    You're lying. Why? You lie when you say I have no ideas; you lie when I say that I am in any way impeding your progress to reducing abortion. You have not even attempted to find a single way in which I am doing so. I am not preventing you from encouraging people to use contraception, nor am I preventing people from accessing contraception, not am I even making it harder for people to access contraception.

    I don't think writing a swiftian paper justifying infanticide because abortion exists is going to do it.

    No one did that. The authors were serious.

    I don't think simply being against abortion is going to do it.

    No one implied it would.

    I don't think making it illegal is going to do it.

    No one implied it would.

  125. Laurie says:

    These two "ethecists" also stated that handicapped people are less than human. This is like Hitler trying to eliminate the "perfect human specimen".

  1. March 2, 2012

    [...] of free speech suddenly aren't as enthusiastic about it anymore. It appears that some subjects are now taboo and [...]