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Bill McEnaney

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #225 on: July 22, 2017, 02:51:09 pm »
Neo-Darwinism isn't the problem, but the result of the problem. The problem goes further than neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism in specific and the lack of purpose or final cause in general is the result of neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism is for all practical purposes magic. Any system, physical or metaphysical, without final cause is magic. Neo-Platonism gave rise to alchemy, and alchemy gave rise to our current financial system, which is also magic. Money is made from nothing, pure magic. Without final cause, all there is is magic.
Thank you, Trinity, partly because I still need someone or something to introduce me to neo-Platonism.  During a lecture that I've heard on Youtube, Christopher Ferrara says that although the ancient Greeks believed in prudential obligations, they didn't think there were moral ones.  You can take part in the good, but the good, i.e., the form of it, can't obligate you morally.  That seems strange to me because I would think Plato would have taught that there would be a form for almost anything describable with an abstract noun.  My point is that final causes aren't the only things that Platonists and neo-Platonists seemed not to have discovered.

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Thresh

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #226 on: July 22, 2017, 11:39:58 pm »
Also, if you want to provide personhood for potential aliens that exist, the most coherent requirements for this are to be a member of a rational species. Personhood is based on the kind of thing you are (a human) and not some function you can perform, may lose, or will have in varying degrees during your life.

Thresh,

While I don't think any of these types of "right kind", "belonging to a species whose members normally do x", etc arguments work, I agree they are the best shot at defending your views on the topic. One problem I have with them is that they seem to clearly not mesh with our moral intuitions when we run thought experiments in the opposite direction of the argument from marginal cases.

That's interesting, because I would make a similar statement about the functionalist views on personhood. I'm interested to see what marginal cases these exclude.

Quote
Imagine an alien came to us and had a long conversation, where it is quite clear he is a person just like you and I. If at the end of the conversation he were to reveal that he is not normal for his species, and in fact he is the only rational member due to some genetic accident, should we revoke his personhood? It seems clear to me here that our moral intuitions tell us that it doesn't matter at all what characteristics other members of his species have, all that matters is what characteristics he has.

He wouldn't be a member of a rational species, unless this fact alone put him into another species. And yes, I can see potential problems with near human species having some members be rational and some not. But we have already have a certain proportion of people in our own species that are not rational (babies, mentally handicapped, etc.) and we still treat them as having a human right to life.

I haven't really looked into the Trent Horn's arguments on this view, but I can tell you that it seems to fair better than the functionalist views, as far as minimizing the amount of inconsistent marginal cases that pop up. Also, it is more inclusive, and thus protects against potential errors in selecting who is a person and who is not. It's a safer stance, given that we are talking about human life. It's cleaner and thus preferable.

The reasons people don't want to choose the safer stance on human life is either because of the resulting changes they have to make in their personal life or because they are stuck in a political dogma or doctrine and won't shift from the teachings of their party/political camp. It's plainly obvious that you should be prudent with a human being's life.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 11:43:44 pm by Thresh »

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igr

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #227 on: July 23, 2017, 02:49:16 am »
I think that I need to clarify some comments I made recently.  When I said that we can't impose our morals on each other or others, the context I had in my head was the topic of this discussion - the abortion issue.  I wrongly assumed that this would be obvious, so that was my mistake.

The reason for my comment should now be apparent - that there is no common asserted source for morals for all of us.  For some of us, morals derive or come from religious belief.  So for an issue such as abortion where there is not general agreement, for an opponent to insist that the morals of that person's religion should be imposed on everybody else is at odds with Freedom of Religion.  And if all moral arguments relating to the abortion issue are derived from that person's religion, it means that morals should not be a part of the discussion where Abortion Prohibition is proposed.  That would be imposing one person's religion on others.  I think that we do not want to go down that path.  Does this sound fair enough?

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Bill McEnaney

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #228 on: July 23, 2017, 05:23:21 am »
Igr, on the one hand, you think there's no common source where everyone learns what he believes about morality.  On the other hand, you seem to presuppose that there is one where everyone discovers that he shouldn't impose his morality on anyone else.  Is that belief that it's wrong to impose one's morality come from more than one source?  If it does come from more than one source, why do those sources agree on it?  However many sources the non-imposition rule does come from, you seem to believe that it's a morally absolute truth.   But to me, your moral theory seems too relativistic to imply that there are any moral absolutes.

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igr

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #229 on: July 23, 2017, 06:14:01 am »
Hi Bill #228,  I have not stated that there is any morally absolute truth.  My statement that one person's morals should not be imposed in another person does not come from my morals - it comes from my (attempted) impartiality and secularism - equal treatment and respect.  On this issue of abortion, if there is to be imposition of morals, whose/which morals are to be imposed?  Who decides?  rgds, igr.

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igr

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #230 on: July 23, 2017, 06:39:35 am »
Hi Thresh,  If you don't nind, I would like to bring us back to personhood and the definition.

Despite what you seem to think, I do not have a specific definition of personhood.  I have not had a situation where I needed to have one.  On the other hand, you seem to have a definition, which is what I would expect given this issue is important to you and that you have spent much time developing your thoughts on the issue.  I have no interest in playing juvenile Gotcha Games where the intent includes trying to catch-out the opponent.  My interest relates to the explanation, understanding and pursuit of ideas. 

So to help me understand your position/definition, I would like to ask some questions:

1.  is a living/sentient/self-aware "brain in a vat" a person?

2.  if no other species has awareness of the human right to life, is this right absolute or does it exist only in the minds/brains of humans? (or something else?)

When I have a better understanding of your position/definition, I will attempt to present it, with an invitation for you to assess.  rgds, igr.

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Bill McEnaney

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #231 on: July 23, 2017, 07:08:49 am »
Hi Bill #228,  I have not stated that there is any morally absolute truth.  My statement that one person's morals should not be imposed in another person does not come from my morals - it comes from my (attempted) impartiality and secularism - equal treatment and respect.  On this issue of abortion, if there is to be imposition of morals, whose/which morals are to be imposed?  Who decides?  rgds, igr.
Thanks, igr.  But that doesn't answer my question.  The question is whether everyone is obligated to refrain from imposing his morality on anyone else.  If the answer is yes, then it seems that there's at least one absolute truth about morality, the truth that each person should refrain from imposing his morality on anyone else.  But then we need to know whether that rule implies a self-contradiction by implying that we ought not to impose the non-imposition rule on anyone.

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Mae

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #232 on: July 23, 2017, 06:14:39 pm »
He wouldn't be a member of a rational species, unless this fact alone put him into another species. And yes, I can see potential problems with near human species having some members be rational and some not. But we have already have a certain proportion of people in our own species that are not rational (babies, mentally handicapped, etc.) and we still treat them as having a human right to life.

The reasons people don't want to choose the safer stance on human life is either because of the resulting changes they have to make in their personal life or because they are stuck in a political dogma or doctrine and won't shift from the teachings of their party/political camp. It's plainly obvious that you should be prudent with a human being's life.

Right, but your answer to the problem of marginal humans is that you are following "the most coherent requirement" that they are "a member of a rational species". That answer doesn't work for my example. I take my example to show that it doesn't matter at all what characteristics other members of his species have, all that matters is what characteristics he actually has. So do we follow the principle that we treat others based upon what characteristics other members of their species have, or not? Or do we pick and choose sometimes to follow it, sometimes not?

What do you mean by "the safer stance on human life", exactly? The view that a human Zygote is of equal moral value as you or I?

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igr

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #233 on: July 24, 2017, 02:52:47 am »
Hi Bill #231,  There are well-known statements of contradiction - "everything I say is untrue"  "I will not tolerate intolerance"  "The silence is deafening" and so on.  You can add "I will impose the rule of non-imposition on everybody" if you like.

If you want to call non-imposition of morals on another person an Absolute Truth, you are free to do so.  I said that one person's morals should not be imposed, not that that each of us is obligated not to impose our morals.  (As I said above, when I refer to morals in this discussion I am doing so in only the context of the abortion issue, not morals in general)  This comes in part from the desire for harmonious relations in the community. 

If we instead have what we might call "Anarchy of the Imposition of Morals", I suggest that we might have a less harmonous and more divisive community.  A case of "live and let live" rather than "you will abide by my morals; no, get lost".  You are aware of sectarian conflict/violence - look at the Middle East.  Look at Rawanda in 1994.  The seeds of conflict/violence may sometimes be imposition of one person's morals/opinion on another person.  Maybe consider your Golden Rule - don't do unto others what you wouldn't have them do to you (this is the correct way to say it).  Learn from your Saviour.



I would like to expand my comments as they relate to morals and the issue of abortion by considering the following scenario of three people.

Person1 - a pregnant female who belongs to a religion and who lives in a community of people mostly of her religion.  This religion allows early-term abortion and makes no issue of any early-term abortion that occurs.
Person2 - a member of a different religion who lives in a community of people mostly of this different religion; this community is geograhically distant from the first.  This religion allows abortion in very few, if any, circumstances.
Person3 - a member of no religion who lives in a free-thinking community where religion is kept private.  This community generally allows mid-term abortion, discourages late-term abortion but does not make it illegal.

So in the case where Person1 is deciding whether or not to proceed with an early-term abortion.  Whose morals - Person1, Person2 or Person3 - should she follow?  Should the morals of the either of other two be imposed or enforced on Person1?  rgds, igr

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Thresh

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #234 on: July 24, 2017, 10:48:00 am »
He wouldn't be a member of a rational species, unless this fact alone put him into another species. And yes, I can see potential problems with near human species having some members be rational and some not. But we have already have a certain proportion of people in our own species that are not rational (babies, mentally handicapped, etc.) and we still treat them as having a human right to life.

The reasons people don't want to choose the safer stance on human life is either because of the resulting changes they have to make in their personal life or because they are stuck in a political dogma or doctrine and won't shift from the teachings of their party/political camp. It's plainly obvious that you should be prudent with a human being's life.

Right, but your answer to the problem of marginal humans is that you are following "the most coherent requirement" that they are "a member of a rational species". That answer doesn't work for my example. I take my example to show that it doesn't matter at all what characteristics other members of his species have, all that matters is what characteristics he actually has. So do we follow the principle that we treat others based upon what characteristics other members of their species have, or not? Or do we pick and choose sometimes to follow it, sometimes not?

What do you mean by "the safer stance on human life", exactly? The view that a human Zygote is of equal moral value as you or I?

I think it is a more coherent stance than definitions that don't provide for human equality. If there is one chink in it's armor, that's obviously better than views of personhood that have multiple chinks and rule out large swaths of people we already know are people (newborns, mentally retarded, comatose, mentally insane, people depending on life support, etc.).

And yes, it does make room for errors that we could be making regarding which human organisms (human beings) are valuable and which are not. It is the safe choice, as it covers from zygote to death.

I actually messaged Trent Horn and he responded to your objection.

"A few thoughts:

1.  The definition could be amended to say a person is a "rational substance" or "entity that endures over time and possesses a rational nature." I use the term "kind" because it is easier to grasp and I don;t think this kind of thought experiment would refute that sort of definition (see point 3).

2.  It's obvious that the characteristics of his kind matter in our analysis. We could never know he was "exceptional" unless we knew what kind he belonged to. To give another example, if you had a drug that could cause an animal to become literate would you give it to a cat or a human teenager? The drug would serve as medicine for the teenager because it restores his normal functioning according to the kind he belongs to. Most people would see a great harm is done in depriving the boy of the medicine but not the cat and natural characteristics are needed to explain that analysis.

3. The thought example pre-supposes that the alien still belongs to a non-rational species. If it has undergone a "genetic accident" then there is something about the alien's biology that makes it rational whereas similar aliens are not (just as there is something about human biology that makes us rational even though similar non-human primates are not rational). This may mean the alien now belongs to a rational kind that has only one member but may produce more members through inter-breeding with similar non-rational aliens.

4.  The possession of immediate rational characteristics entails the permissibility of infanticide, which most people consider to be gravely immoral. Some will say this is just "emotional thinking" but the same charge could be leveled against people who say we ought not "cause harm for the sake of harm" or that "rape is always wrong." Positions that entail infanticide are prima facie implausible given most people's moral intuitions, including of those who defend legal abortion.

Hope this helps!

Trent
"

I thought as much about thought number three, as species are separated by very simple things like walking upright, forming basic tools, hair loss, etc.. Achieving rationality would seem to advance you to a new species or kind as you're definitely not in the same category. Genetic mutation is a mechanism for evolution, correct?
« Last Edit: July 24, 2017, 04:54:42 pm by Thresh »

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SPF

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #235 on: July 24, 2017, 11:09:41 am »
igr:
Quote
I would like to expand my comments as they relate to morals and the issue of abortion by considering the following scenario of three people.

Person1 - a pregnant female who belongs to a religion and who lives in a community of people mostly of her religion.  This religion allows early-term abortion and makes no issue of any early-term abortion that occurs.
Person2 - a member of a different religion who lives in a community of people mostly of this different religion; this community is geograhically distant from the first.  This religion allows abortion in very few, if any, circumstances.
Person3 - a member of no religion who lives in a free-thinking community where religion is kept private.  This community generally allows mid-term abortion, discourages late-term abortion but does not make it illegal.

So in the case where Person1 is deciding whether or not to proceed with an early-term abortion.  Whose morals - Person1, Person2 or Person3 - should she follow?  Should the morals of the either of other two be imposed or enforced on Person1?  rgds, igr


This demonstrates that this really isn't a discussion about abortion for you.  You're begging the question in that your underlying belief in everything you say is that there are no objective morals, and that right/wrong are determined by popular opinion, and hold no objective truth, but fluctuate according to opinion. 

If you're right about morality, then nobody has the right to say that abortion is immoral, because there is no such thing as morality!

The answer though to your scenario is that none of the cultural norms have any bearing upon the morality of abortion.  In the case of 3 mutually exclusive notions about the morality of an action, we can say that either 1 is right and 2 are wrong, or all 3 are wrong. 

The discussion that you need to have has nothing to do with abortion, and everything to do with whether or not objective morals exist. 
"It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

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Mae

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #236 on: July 24, 2017, 06:44:13 pm »
Thresh,

Applying the ideas of "rational kind" or "rational substance" to the whole human species seems problematic to me. You have the class of all human organisms, of which only a subset are rational. I understand why you would think that subset would be of a rational kind, but why would the non rational humans belong to this kind too? It seems to me that a non rational human would belong to a "non rational kind". I'm not understanding exactly what logic or principle we are using to get to that conclusion. Is it a simple matter of majority, where if 51% of a species has property x, then we say the whole species has property x?

In the alien example, it seems you think that when he goes from being non rational to being rational, he becomes of a different kind (and even species). But why do you think this? It doesn't seem that this is the same logic that you use in the human context. For humans, you think rational and non rational individuals all belong to the same kind. So why can't the rational and non rational aliens belong to the same kind?

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Bill McEnaney

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #237 on: July 24, 2017, 07:33:23 pm »
Hi igr,

You seem to imply a moral ought when you write that we shouldn't impose our morals on anyone.  So if you do imply one, what obligates me not to impose my morals on anyone?  What causes that obligation?  Clearly, you doubt that they follow from God's nature.  But if it does imply them, they bind each human person, including every atheist.

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igr

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #238 on: July 25, 2017, 04:18:37 am »
Hi SPF #235,  Yes, what I am saying here applies (in principle) to the issue of abortion and some other issues.  But this topic/discussion relates to only abortion, so my comments are in that context.  And you have avoided answering my question.  Well done.

Because you have not established that objective morals exist, how do you choose which morals (in the context of abortion) to impose on everybody else?

Are you begging the question if you state that objective morals exist?  rgds, igr.

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igr

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Re: How serious are you about abortion?
« Reply #239 on: July 25, 2017, 04:28:19 am »
Hi Bill #237,  I am talking about only the issue of abortion.  And that in that context there are different morality based views.

What obligates you not to impose your morals?  Nothing.  But for the sake of people getting along, being considerate, having good manners and so on, it seems to me to be just good sense.  In the situation I described, it is also about an outsider interferring where he/she is unwelcome.  Would you be pleased if somebody from another religion imposed differing morals (from that religion) on you?

Regardless of what you believe, I am not bound by anything that is part of only your belief.  If there is no force or punishment, such binding is meaningless.  Threats of after-life consequences are meaningless to somebody (such as me) who does not believe there is an after-life.  So this is a dead-end argument.  rgds, igr.