rishaed wrote:And yet you mention the Holocaust, and dehumanizing, which in a sense is treating humans the same as you would a sheep a goat or a pig, or those kittens in Milo and Otis if you so choose.
I do not see my proposal as lowering
human persons to the standard of being; I see it as raising
the standard of non-human animals to how we already treat adult humans.
And yet I feel that these things are indeed one and the same. What are you going to do make all animals sacred animals? Such as the Cow for the Hindi Religion?
Metsfanmax wrote: But with that said, there are consequences that come with this approach. In particular, we must seriously take responsibility for our ethical decisions. I do not think it is appropriate any longer for us to assert the existence of unchanging and absolute ethical principles. These were undoubtedly useful in earlier periods.
I think that unchanging ethical rules were put there for a reason, secular or Scriptural (some of which overlap) I am a great believer in the inherent evil in the human race, and have found this to be true even in my own life and struggles. It is these unchanging laws that make the peace and stability that you say we have developed. To throw one of these laws out would be similar to throwing out the law of Gravity in my opinion. I know that if I drop something, no matter how heavy it is whether paper or a bowling ball, it will fall towards the ground. However if Gravity is no more then my certainty and trust in objects falling towards the ground in every case is no longer well founded, and thus negates the possibility of the law of Gravity on Earth.
There is a reason that Theft is illegal, and has been for ages on end. There is also a reason why it says Thou Shalt Not Kill.
Metsfanmax wrote: However, collectively as a society we have developed enough peace and stability that we can re-think these rules and come up with ones that better fit reality. That is, we no longer need to pigeonhole ourselves into a specific box just because we think that society will be better off that way. We are intelligent enough and have our act together enough to take these ideas and run with them.
I think I have addressed the first sentence here already. I disagree with you that we are pigeonholing ourselves into a box, as I stated earlier most if not all ethical laws that are unchanging and absolute have been so (as you mentioned) for an extreme amount of time, and as such hold much wisdom and knowledge already into them. The basic nature of humanity as a whole has not changed since then IMO so why would you think that the outcome at the end would be different? Its similar to a teenager who won't listen to his parents and has been through the school of hard knocks because he threw out their advice and later realizes that they were right.
I don't argue for this just because I disagree with things on some abstract level. Instead, the status quo leads to some seriously unfortunate results. As an example, many people who are in serious pain and have made the rational decision to end their lives, cannot legally get assistance to do so in most jurisdictions. That is because we still cling to an absolute right to life framework in most cases, at least formally. But in reality that is not how most of us think
Suicide IMHO is a decision neither made rationally, but rather emotionally (especially at a young age). Seeing as I have attempted this in the past, I can speak from first hand knowledge. Looking back I am glad that I did not succeed in my attempt. I partially regret ever attempting it, and will never do it again. I only partially regret it because now I know and can tell others that It really isn't a viable option, and Thank God for every life that is saved because someone stops them. Logically speaking Suicide is running away from your problems instead of confronting them. You don't have to eliminate the person causing the pain to stop the pain or find a way to heal it and move on. I am glad for the absolute right to life framework we have. It is what keeps murder, murder and keeps death as a serious thing. If you are talking a medially sick person, they can as my Grandmother did, choose rather to go off of what is keeping them alive. However I would say that these people have a motivation other than revenge, and can make a more logical choice than the first group. However I also think that these people dying of an incurable disease as you say are more serious in considering every option, and the people it will affect. These people can (if not already) prepare for their death in a way that people who for whatever reason just go and hang themselves suddenly do not. There are ways for the doctors to reduce, and try to remove the pain without having to kill the person to do it.
Metsfanmax wrote: Most people recognize that life is full of shades of gray, and that it can be deleterious to insist on this, as when a patient is dying from an incurable disease. Similarly, if someone is in a persistent vegetative state, with no chance of regaining consciousness ever again, we cannot reasonably insist a family incur high medical costs over years when the patient has ceased to be a person.
I don't think that the patient has ceased to be a person.
And as such, I do not see Life
as a shade of grey. You are either alive, or you are dead. There is no in between state. You may try to argue that a person in a persistent vegetative state is in between, however is that true? Is it the fact that we keep them "alive" by using artificial means, or is it the fact that they cannot respond in any way? I don't know the answer, and probably never will.
Plus you say that we need to make Self-Awareness the standard, and not being a human (thus allowing you to say that natural rights, and human rights cannot apply to them because they are not aware enough to be a Human in a full form of the word).
That is true, I don't believe in "human rights." I cannot really conceive of any right which ought to be automatically granted simply because an organism is a member of the human species. We can do better with our language and with our ideas.
At which point are Humans Self Aware, neither you nor I can answer this question. Nobody can point a finger and say "AHA!! Every person is self aware at this period of time after birth ect..." We do not have either an exact time/place where we can definitely say that a person is self-aware.
It may be true that there is no one day that divides the time between an infant is self-aware and when it is not. However, there is certainly a period at the beginning of a human's life when there is zero chance of that human being a person (simply because the proper biological mechanisms in the brain do not exist yet), in which case we should not treat it like a person.
If we were to make this a policy matter, we would choose the dividing line for murder at some point after birth at which no human could yet be a person, but long enough after birth that it is apparent whether the infant has some terminal or debilitating disease that will make its life not worth living. I would only advocate for a few weeks after birth.
Hey you could probably kill me while I'm sleeping and say to the judge, Sir its not murder he was not self-aware that his life was in danger. Because when I sleep, I might be dreaming. However I might also just wake up and feel like a giant black period occurred 2 seconds ago, when in reality I was sleeping for 6-8hrs. Thus I dispute Self-Awareness as a standard for judging Personhood. It CANNOT be continuously applied to every moment of our lives, thus removing our rights when it is broken up, such as in sleep.
I actually addressed this earlier in the thread, so you can see my thoughts in more depth there. The gist is that to overcome the ethical questions associated with temporary unconsciousness (e.g. sleep, coma), an organism should be a person if it has ever been self-aware and will (or could) ever be self-aware again.[/quote]
1. It is also probably true that you probably don't believe that there is a God, and thus your stance on "Human rights" as you put it fits quite logically for stance of "Survival of the Fittest."
2.I find this to be highly hypocritical. You cannot say that there is zero chance that a human being is not or will not be a person/self-aware. And yet as a child inside the womb the surroundings and emotions/actions of the mother effect you, and can cause distress which is a trait of awareness of surroundings and of others. I also find offensive the statement of some debilitating or terminal disease which makes their life not worth living. All humans deserve the right to live. And further more, you might consider those with Aspergers, Down Syndrome, Alzheimers, or someone with a heart disease all people who can be "terminated" during pregnancy or shortly after birth. And yet these people can make a contribution to society that probably very few of us will ever make. Why? Because the focus that they have is different and the viewpoint of the world is different, and yet it may be their viewpoint that could change the world.
Where would it stop, logically you would have to "terminate" every baby that was not fully "functional" with no inherent DNA/physical disabilities. People like Mozart would have never been able to live.
3. Drop the again. Why, because we can all be self aware at some future point in time again. An infant sleeps and wakes up the same as we do. It is influenced by its environment and has emotions like we do. It knows who its mother is, and is quite attached to her. It is suggested that Music such as Bach and Mozart are good for intelligence (this might be a common rumor...) Sure we might die by some sickness early in life. However we cannot choose everything that effects us, neither can we pick and choose most everything like in the Game of Life (or Risk).
Metsfanmax wrote:On the contrary, the fact that a fetus cannot offer consent is of primary importance. The personhood argument is not saying that because the fetus can't offer consent, we let its mother make the decision, since the mother is also affected by the pregnancy. To keep it simple, assume that the fetus is in the first trimester and can't feel pain. Then, the personhood argument says that the fetus does not even have interests; its own welfare is more or less negligible. The problem with the argument you're trying to make is to imply that it's in the interests of the fetus to have a decision made for it by its parents. But actually it is meaningless to speak of the interests of the fetus. It cannot feel pain or experience pleasure, and it has never been a person with memories. Ethically speaking, then, it is a non-starter to even begin to argue that it deserves protection inherently.
This is an interesting point which I'll follow with a small tangent.
Are you then saying that if a person were kept in a completely artificial environment, devoid of outside stimulation from birth and then killed in a completely painless way then it's not murder?
I believe that even this person would have hopes, desires and memories. This person would be self-aware. It would be murder.
A lot of the problems with arguments over when a fetus becomes a person is that they too heavily rely on specific clinical details(sensitivity to pain, etc.). When does your intuition tell you when a tree begins? When it grows leaves, when it grows bark, or the moment it's biological processes start as a seed is first exposed to moisture? I would say the last is the most agreeable to our sensibilities yet when it comes to people this "intuition" is ignored in exchange for a more convenient conclusion.
I disagree, principally because the relevant definition
of personhood is based on what you describe as clinical details (such as the ability to feel pain and be self-aware). What is missing too often from the abortion debate is the question of why
it is wrong to kill a human. We need a consistent ethical answer to this before we can broach the abortion or infanticide subjects. I argue that it is especially wrong to kill persons
(as opposed to merely sentient beings) because there is some significant difference that sets persons apart from the merely sentient (such as self-awareness). So if we agree in this way that killing a normal adult human is more wrong than killing an adult snake, then we agree that the reason it is more wrong is because the human has self-awareness and has hopes and dreams for the future that the act of killing lays waste to, and because the act scares other people and makes them live less pleasant lives. But notice that we couldn't have reached this conclusion without establishing some facts biologically, such as that normal adult humans are self-aware, and that normal adult snakes are not. As a result, we cannot help but agree that it is of crucial importance in the abortion debate to determine which organisms are self-aware and which are not, because in fact that is the defining characteristic that makes the killing so gravely wrong. If ever we are in doubt and suspect that an organism may have some self-awareness, we should give it the benefit of the doubt and give it the same protection that all persons enjoy.
Note that all this skirts the issues associated with how we treat non-human animals in other ways. The act of killing
(assuming it can be done painlessly) is a unique ethical issue, because if an organism is deceased then it no longer has any preferences. So if you could be completely sure that you could kill a merely sentient organism without any pain (e.g. insects), then it should not be treated as murder.
However, in reality it is never so simple. We can't
really be sure that what we are doing is painless to a creature. In fact, the commercial meat industry inflicts great pain to cows when they are slaughtered for beef. So even though we could conceive of situations in which we could kill an organism without causing any pain, in practice we can almost never be sure of this, so we should abstain from such acts.[/quote]
And yet you advocate for what you consider "merely sentient" infants to be killed if such is desired. These statements are highly conflicting. Sure we know that certain things remove pain, and that overdoses remove that. However not all humans are the same, which makes me believe that not everything that causes one person pain, causes another person pain.