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Author Topic: "To Be or Not To Be"  (Read 2608 times)

INPEFESS

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2010, 05:09:pm »
Human nature = rational animal
Personhood follows by the mere fact of being a member of the species homo sapiens.

Okay, but if that is true, then what is the difference between "member of the species Homo sapiens" and "person"?

Do you acknowledge that both words denote different ideas? The first would refer to human genome alone because one is still classified as a member of the species as soon as the the sperm fuses with the egg. Those things which make it distinct from all other "species" do not exist at this time. What we acknowledge is that they will be present in the future (presumably), but what capacity does the zygote then possess that would grant it a higher level of moral significance ath that time? From a religious perspective, the answer is simple. But from the humanist perspective the answer is more complicated. When debating using only the natural law, we can't present the Catholic Church's teachings because the natural law is supposed to be discernable by nature alone.

If we do not differentiate between the biological attributes of "species" and the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality, then why shouldn't animals receive the same moral rights as "Homo sapiens"? Why is the genetic code of one species deserving of more moral significance than any other? Something has to exist within the species HS in order for it to be deserving of a higher level of rights (again, from the natural law). You might argue that the difference is that member of the species HS have the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality, but again, not all humans have these. We could then only assign these moral rights to those who possessed these capacities. If we don't want to to this, then we have to say that mere biological membership of the species HS is somehow superior to other species and therefore deserving of a higher level of moral rights. If you've read Singer, you would probably see why he rejects this idea. Singer's entire book is based upon, what he sees as, the condition for the acquisition of moral rights: the principle of equal consideration of interests. Interests, he posits, is the sole condition which we use to determine whether something has moral rights or not. He then qualifies interests by saying that a necessary condition of interests is the capacity for sentience. Therefore, plants don't have interests, and, moreover, don't have moral rights. Animals, however, do. And so do people. Interests, he argues, is what we is necessary for moral rights. (That was a very bad representation of his primary premise; read the first two chapters of the book to see how he argues for it [FYI: He is a preference utilitarian if that gives you a better idea of his approach].) Obviously, from this perspective, since the zygote does not have interests (it only has future interests), it doesn't have moral rights...yet. (I have exploited the area between the "rights" and "yet".) If you accept this premise, then the distinction between "member of the species" and "person" is necessary. If sentience is necessary for interests, and interests are necessary for moral rights,  then how can a fetus have moral rights considering it does not have sentience? Again, we can expect that it will eventually, but if you accept Singer's premise, it follows that it cannot claim moral rights.

For the sake of my argument, I have accepted Singer's argument only insomuch as to expose, what I believe to be, an error. This involves the consideration of potentiality.

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Because all homo sapiens have a rational soul, personhood is essential to their nature.

I really like your latter statement, but I Singer would not accept the former. What is the definition of "rational soul" outside of the religious sphere? How do we know that animals don't have them? How do we know anyone has one of them? What is so significant about a rational soul that automatically enobles it with moral rights? How do we know all members of the species have such a generalized trait even when the distinctions between HS and other species often require unfalsifiable claims?


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And actual personhood does not depend on being able to practically exhibit such characteristics at any given time. You give the sleeping example, but here Singer just attempts to side step the issue - because it is truly absurd to suppose a sleeper is not a person. But Singer's theory can only tackle this objection by an ad hoc 'justification'  (i.e.: he will be a person shortly when he wakes). But this side steps the issue; namely, the sleeper simply is not a person. Some other justification for his rights is brought into it. Or if you do consider the sleeper a person, then obviously, it is not simply the actual capacity in a concrete instant to exhibit rational behavior that is the necessary condition. 

I realize that this would be troublesome for him, but that's why the definition of "capacity" is so important. A sleeping person maintains the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality; he is simply not exhibiting them at the time. The human zygote does not possess these capacities. The developing human being will not possess both of these capacities until around age 2 (self-consciousness). The point is that these capacities don't exist. It is impossible for the fetus to exhibit them. It not impossible, however, for the sleeping person to do so. It has, presumably, already exhibited these capacities and will again. It has the ability to exhibit these capacities; it simply chooses not to at the time that it is asleep. The zygote has never demonstrated these capacities and it is impossible for it to do so. It must undergo a multitude of biological changes before it can do so. Assuming the person properly develops, these biological changes are sufficient for its sentience, interests, and claim to moral rights.

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The surgeon example can be looked at this way: it is still correct to call him a surgeon even if in the concrete situation he cannot perform surgery.

I don't think this example quite fits anyway because, if surgery is something that can only be practiced under certain strict conditions distinct from the ordinary human condition, then we must be able to say that personhood can only be maintained under similar strict circumstances - that could want to have our personhood but would be unable to maintain personhood unless the conditions were just right. I think we would need a different analogy.


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These objections are dealt with above; again, comes down to that actual personhood does not depend on actual rational actiibity.

Activity: no; capacity: yes. A zygote lacks the capacity. It is simply impossible for it to demonstrate these characteristics. If it impossible to demonstrate these characteristics, then it is unable to do so. If it is unable to do so, then it doesn't have the capacity to do so. A female fetus may have the capacity to bear a child one day, but it certainly does not have this capacity as a fetus.

(Note: I absolutely abhor the word "fetus" from a religious perspective. I only employ it for the sake of these discussions.)


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And it's true that a chimpanzee may be more 'intelligent' in terms of activity than a human zygote. But the point is that the human from conception is actually a rational entity even if it does not exhibit the traits immediately.

It is not that it doesn't do so immediately; it is that the zygote cannot unless it undergoes dramatic and lengthy biological modification that could take years to complete. By the time it is finished, the genome of the zygote is very much different from its phenome. The chromosomes themselves exist, but the capacities do not. So if there is no capacity for those morally significant distinctive traits, how does it have the moral rights sufficient for those capacities?

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And what makes humanity special is that it is different in kind to other animals (by having a rational soul that is immortal etc).

Can you provide evidence of this from the natural law? Singer does not believe in such things, and I am debating with Singer, so I cannot base my arguments upon unfalsifiable claims. I have to use what is tangible from the natural law only. This is why I haven't resorted to defining "rational soul".

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And the foetus is a victim even if it doesn't experience pain in its murder. The very fact than an injustice is comitted against someone itself means that someone is violated.

Again, that statement itself rests upon the existence of a "someone". What is a someone? Who is that someone? Is a cluster of cells sufficient for the existence of a "someone"? If so, what about this cluster of cells is sufficient for this "someone"?

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Feeling of pain makes things worse; but it is not the only factor which can make an act immoral.

That statement alone is probably the reason we are still having this discussion. Classical utilitarians argue that the capacities for pleasure and pain are necessary for moral rights. Singer is a preference utilitarian and so he factors in preferences of individual persons. But a fetus can't maintain goals, preferences, or desires, so, to the utilitarian, it doesn't have moral rights. As I have mentioned. Accepting the principle of equal consideration of interests, what else would make an action moral or immoral? Would this other consideration extend moral rights to plants? (It must be demonstrable, falsifiable, and rational for it to be considered sound by Singer - who is, after all, the philospher to whom we have taken the fight.)

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Marquis' approach need not be taken by carefully distinguishing between actuality of activity, and actuality of nature (i.e.: man = rational animal; therefore, man is a person by being of that nature - he is not potentially a person, but actually, from conception).

If you read Singer, you will find that he presents a considerable amount of evidence that would suppose some primates (chimpanzees) maintain the capacity of rationality. Why don't these chimps have the same moral rights as humans?

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 Secondly, Singer's rendition of an anti-abortion argument is a straw man. Expose it. No reasonable pro-lifer claims the foetus is a potential human being. Rather, it is an actual human being. And just as it is wrong to murder an innocent human being, so it is wrong to murder a foetus.

The error here, which Singer has already exploited, is that you are assuming "human being" is synonymous with "biological membership of the species Homo sapiens" and "person" at the same time. The argument Singer was addressing was much deeper than a simple application of the word, "human being"; it was to address a generalization and a logic fallacy. The problem is that many pro-lifers (of which I am one) use the word "human being" to denote two different ideas in each premise. The first usage denotes biological membership while the second usage in the second premise - in assigning it moral rights - denotes personhood. Singer distinguishes between them and says that, if we say that the faculties of 'x' and 'y' are what grant a person a higher level of moral rights than animals, then those beings that don't have these faculties can't have the same rights. The pro-lifes start presenting the argument above, but their first premise rests upon biological attributes alone (because the fetus obviously does not possess these faculties yet - the potential, yes), and their second premise rests upon higher capacities not present in the fetus. So the argument of these pro-lifes is not even valid (let alone sound) because they are using the same word to mean two completely different concepts in each premise. The conclusion simply does not follow from the premises. This is where my distinction of potentiality becomes very important. I hope this makes sense. I am typing very quickly before my laptop battery dies and don't have time to proof-read what I'm writing.



Precisely : being a human life is sufficient condition for being a person.

Not if "person" is qualified by specific capacities not demonstrable by the fetus.

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Of course, no pro-lifer will take Singer's definition of a person - which requires actual activity or actual capacity in a given situation.

It requires capability. A sleeping person is still capable of this activity; he simply chooses not to exhibit it at the time of his sleep; he is nevertheless biologically capable of this activity. A fetus is not capable of these capacities in its present biological state. It must undergo massive changes in order to acquire this capability that the sleeper possesses even while asleep.
I have left the forum because I do not believe I can continue to post here without giving scandal to Catholicism, especially traditional Catholicism, which this forum purports to represent. My presence here only lends credence to the immoral activity and ideas that this forum has come to (at the very least) tolerate, activity and ideas that have always and everywhere been condemned by the Church in principle, activity and ideas that, by their toleration on this forum, give the impression of being compatible with traditional Catholicism. I cannot participate in the forum until such a time as the scandal is removed.

Lagrange

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2010, 08:34:am »
Human nature = rational animal
Personhood follows by the mere fact of being a member of the species homo sapiens.

Okay, but if that is true, then what is the difference between "member of the species Homo sapiens" and "person"?

Do you acknowledge that both words denote different ideas? The first would refer to human genome alone because one is still classified as a member of the species as soon as the the sperm fuses with the egg. Those things which make it distinct from all other "species" do not exist at this time. What we acknowledge is that they will be present in the future (presumably), but what capacity does the zygote then possess that would grant it a higher level of moral significance ath that time? From a religious perspective, the answer is simple. But from the humanist perspective the answer is more complicated. When debating using only the natural law, we can't present the Catholic Church's teachings because the natural law is supposed to be discernable by nature alone.

If we take persons to be rational entities, then all homo sapiens are persons. Because homo sapiens are rational animals.

The two words connote different ideas, but that is only a virtual distinction. Like when analysing a triangle, we can distinguish between its three sidedness, and the mathematical formulas concerning the angles they produce. But it remains that three sidedness of itself implies these other essential aspects. Likewise, biological humanity of itself implies what pertains to it, namely, rationality, and animality.

And true, I am arguing philosophically here. And though people will jump and claim ''ohh if you talk about a soul you're being religious'' that's actually false. cause the existence of the soul (and God for that matter) are truths of reason.

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If we do not differentiate between the biological attributes of "species" and the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality, then why shouldn't animals receive the same moral rights as "Homo sapiens"? Why is the genetic code of one species deserving of more moral significance than any other? Something has to exist within the species HS in order for it to be deserving of a higher level of rights (again, from the natural law). You might argue that the difference is that member of the species HS have the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality, but again, not all humans have these. We could then only assign these moral rights to those who possessed these capacities. If we don't want to to this, then we have to say that mere biological membership of the species HS is somehow superior to other species and therefore deserving of a higher level of moral rights. If you've read Singer, you would probably see why he rejects this idea. Singer's entire book is based upon, what he sees as, the condition for the acquisition of moral rights: the principle of equal consideration of interests. Interests, he posits, is the sole condition which we use to determine whether something has moral rights or not. He then qualifies interests by saying that a necessary condition of interests is the capacity for sentience. Therefore, plants don't have interests, and, moreover, don't have moral rights. Animals, however, do. And so do people. Interests, he argues, is what we is necessary for moral rights. (That was a very bad representation of his primary premise; read the first two chapters of the book to see how he argues for it [FYI: He is a preference utilitarian if that gives you a better idea of his approach].) Obviously, from this perspective, since the zygote does not have interests (it only has future interests), it doesn't have moral rights...yet. (I have exploited the area between the "rights" and "yet".) If you accept this premise, then the distinction between "member of the species" and "person" is necessary. If sentience is necessary for interests, and interests are necessary for moral rights,  then how can a fetus have moral rights considering it does not have sentience? Again, we can expect that it will eventually, but if you accept Singer's premise, it follows that it cannot claim moral rights.

That something is the rational soul. And even if the body is in a state never to exhibit it (e.g.: disabled in some way) it doesn't matter. The soul is present by the very fact it is alive, along with those thing pertaining to the essence of that soul (rationality) - even if certain faculties are inoperable they still exist because the soul is there. As I once heard in bioethics conference a cd set i ordered (Fr Ripperger speaking): "wherever a single faculty of the soul is present (i.e.: nutritive), the soul is present" - along with the other faculties pertaining to the soul as well. So if one faculty is there - all faculties pertaining to the soul are also there. It is the problems with the functioning of the body which obstruct some faculties from operating, be it lack of development (e.g.: an infant) or some disease (with a disabled person).

And yes, we simply have to reject the premise concerning sentience. Natural law goes beyond not inflicting physical pain. And morality doesn't revolve around interests. Interests are only worthy of note if they are in conformity to the moral law; they do not constitute the moral law. That aspect of Singer's foundational principles is easy to refute imo.

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I really like your latter statement, but I Singer would not accept the former. What is the definition of "rational soul" outside of the religious sphere? How do we know that animals don't have them? How do we know anyone has one of them? What is so significant about a rational soul that automatically enobles it with moral rights? How do we know all members of the species have such a generalized trait even when the distinctions between HS and other species often require unfalsifiable claims?
 

Aristotle came up with the term first I think. Anyway, fact remains it can theoretically be known via reason.
Other animals don't have them because if they did they would be practically indistinguishable from humans - only appearences differing.
We know that humans have them because of the capacity for immaterial cognitive functions and free will. Which presuppose something going beyond the material order, with all the consequences that follow : soul persisting in existence after body ceases to be alive etc. The creature of the highest order in the universe should be enobled with moral rights going far beyond animals of an utterly lower ontological order.
All members of the species have it because all members of the species, by definition, are animated by the same life principle (or soul). Otherwise they would not be of the same species. All things generated by reproduction by humans  constitute (by definition) beings of the same nature.

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I realize that this would be troublesome for him, but that's why the definition of "capacity" is so important. A sleeping person maintains the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality; he is simply not exhibiting them at the time. The human zygote does not possess these capacities. The developing human being will not possess both of these capacities until around age 2 (self-consciousness). The point is that these capacities don't exist. It is impossible for the fetus to exhibit them. It not impossible, however, for the sleeping person to do so. It has, presumably, already exhibited these capacities and will again. It has the ability to exhibit these capacities; it simply chooses not to at the time that it is asleep. The zygote has never demonstrated these capacities and it is impossible for it to do so. It must undergo a multitude of biological changes before it can do so. Assuming the person properly develops, these biological changes are sufficient for its sentience, interests, and claim to moral rights.

A sleeping person, insofar as he in the state of sleep, simply cannot exercise rational activity. So the capacity isn't there either, if by capacity is meant that actual possibility to do so in a given instant (in this case, sleep). So again, either two possibilities: capacity isn't there (so the sleeper isn't a person), or capacity is there (in which case capacity can be something innate and truly within the human even if he can't exercise it in the given instance). Likewise, with the fetus, same two possibilities emerge - the only difference being the time required for such activity to actually occur (and timing is not relevant to the concepts involved with 'capacity', so by virtue of the concept of 'capacity', timing cannot justify a morally significant difference)

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Can you provide evidence of this from the natural law (existence of rational soul - my edit)? Singer does not believe in such things, and I am debating with Singer, so I cannot base my arguments upon unfalsifiable claims. I have to use what is tangible from the natural law only. This is why I haven't resorted to defining "rational soul".

That's the big issue. Metaphysical foundations are just so different. But that's where the real battle is fought or lost when dealing with modern philosophy. Perhaps read up on some thomistic stuff for a good foundation. In a nutshell, as I said before, humans exhibit characteristics that are unexplainable except by reference to an immaterial soul. And such traits are in the immaterial soul even when inoperable as I've indicated. Soul = life principle; all living things have one. Rational soul is peculiar kind of soul (immaterial, free will, never to go out of existence), ontologically of a different order to other souls (vegetative, or animal) had by humans.

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If you read Singer, you will find that he presents a considerable amount of evidence that would suppose some primates (chimpanzees) maintain the capacity of rationality. Why don't these chimps have the same moral rights as humans?


Because they don't have those rights. Singer and many others are misreading the findings of emperical science - even presuming those findings are accurate. We are privileged to have certitude based on faith and not just reason. So from the outset we know there's some misreading of scientific evidence going on. Due to unsound philosophy to begin with. For Singer, we are just more complex; but not of a different order. He presumes this, so then he must presume we don't have certain traits we indeed do have (i.e.: immaterial knowledge, free will). So then we are brought to the level of other animals. And so the similarities between us and let's say chimpanzees are exaggerated. Additionally, complex associations is the most the chimpanzee can get to - but that does not constitute rationality. A chimpanzee simply would not know what the essence of a triangle is for example.






Saint Thomas Aquinas' simple yet profound advice concerning sanctity (said to his sister): "Will it"

INPEFESS

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2010, 10:46:am »
Lagrange, I am sorry for neglecting to respond. I will respond as soon as a have a few moments.
I have left the forum because I do not believe I can continue to post here without giving scandal to Catholicism, especially traditional Catholicism, which this forum purports to represent. My presence here only lends credence to the immoral activity and ideas that this forum has come to (at the very least) tolerate, activity and ideas that have always and everywhere been condemned by the Church in principle, activity and ideas that, by their toleration on this forum, give the impression of being compatible with traditional Catholicism. I cannot participate in the forum until such a time as the scandal is removed.

Lagrange

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2010, 03:45:am »
http://www.cts.org.au/files/pdf/IMPRACTICAL%20ETHICS.pdf

Here's a good article I read a while back concerning Singer and potentiality etc. It helped me get a good bearing on the issues at hand.
Saint Thomas Aquinas' simple yet profound advice concerning sanctity (said to his sister): "Will it"

INPEFESS

  • Please remember me in your rosary intentions.
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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2010, 01:36:pm »
Human nature = rational animal
Personhood follows by the mere fact of being a member of the species homo sapiens.

Okay, but if that is true, then what is the difference between "member of the species Homo sapiens" and "person"?

Do you acknowledge that both words denote different ideas? The first would refer to human genome alone because one is still classified as a member of the species as soon as the the sperm fuses with the egg. Those things which make it distinct from all other "species" do not exist at this time. What we acknowledge is that they will be present in the future (presumably), but what capacity does the zygote then possess that would grant it a higher level of moral significance ath that time? From a religious perspective, the answer is simple. But from the humanist perspective the answer is more complicated. When debating using only the natural law, we can't present the Catholic Church's teachings because the natural law is supposed to be discernable by nature alone.

If we take persons to be rational entities, then all homo sapiens are persons. Because homo sapiens are rational animals.

The two words connote different ideas, but that is only a virtual distinction. Like when analysing a triangle, we can distinguish between its three sidedness, and the mathematical formulas concerning the angles they produce. But it remains that three sidedness of itself implies these other essential aspects. Likewise, biological humanity of itself implies what pertains to it, namely, rationality, and animality.

And true, I am arguing philosophically here. And though people will jump and claim ''ohh if you talk about a soul you're being religious'' that's actually false. cause the existence of the soul (and God for that matter) are truths of reason.

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If we do not differentiate between the biological attributes of "species" and the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality, then why shouldn't animals receive the same moral rights as "Homo sapiens"? Why is the genetic code of one species deserving of more moral significance than any other? Something has to exist within the species HS in order for it to be deserving of a higher level of rights (again, from the natural law). You might argue that the difference is that member of the species HS have the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality, but again, not all humans have these. We could then only assign these moral rights to those who possessed these capacities. If we don't want to to this, then we have to say that mere biological membership of the species HS is somehow superior to other species and therefore deserving of a higher level of moral rights. If you've read Singer, you would probably see why he rejects this idea. Singer's entire book is based upon, what he sees as, the condition for the acquisition of moral rights: the principle of equal consideration of interests. Interests, he posits, is the sole condition which we use to determine whether something has moral rights or not. He then qualifies interests by saying that a necessary condition of interests is the capacity for sentience. Therefore, plants don't have interests, and, moreover, don't have moral rights. Animals, however, do. And so do people. Interests, he argues, is what we is necessary for moral rights. (That was a very bad representation of his primary premise; read the first two chapters of the book to see how he argues for it [FYI: He is a preference utilitarian if that gives you a better idea of his approach].) Obviously, from this perspective, since the zygote does not have interests (it only has future interests), it doesn't have moral rights...yet. (I have exploited the area between the "rights" and "yet".) If you accept this premise, then the distinction between "member of the species" and "person" is necessary. If sentience is necessary for interests, and interests are necessary for moral rights,  then how can a fetus have moral rights considering it does not have sentience? Again, we can expect that it will eventually, but if you accept Singer's premise, it follows that it cannot claim moral rights.

That something is the rational soul. And even if the body is in a state never to exhibit it (e.g.: disabled in some way) it doesn't matter. The soul is present by the very fact it is alive, along with those thing pertaining to the essence of that soul (rationality) - even if certain faculties are inoperable they still exist because the soul is there. As I once heard in bioethics conference a cd set i ordered (Fr Ripperger speaking): "wherever a single faculty of the soul is present (i.e.: nutritive), the soul is present" - along with the other faculties pertaining to the soul as well. So if one faculty is there - all faculties pertaining to the soul are also there. It is the problems with the functioning of the body which obstruct some faculties from operating, be it lack of development (e.g.: an infant) or some disease (with a disabled person).

And yes, we simply have to reject the premise concerning sentience. Natural law goes beyond not inflicting physical pain. And morality doesn't revolve around interests. Interests are only worthy of note if they are in conformity to the moral law; they do not constitute the moral law. That aspect of Singer's foundational principles is easy to refute imo.

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I really like your latter statement, but I Singer would not accept the former. What is the definition of "rational soul" outside of the religious sphere? How do we know that animals don't have them? How do we know anyone has one of them? What is so significant about a rational soul that automatically enobles it with moral rights? How do we know all members of the species have such a generalized trait even when the distinctions between HS and other species often require unfalsifiable claims?
 

Aristotle came up with the term first I think. Anyway, fact remains it can theoretically be known via reason.
Other animals don't have them because if they did they would be practically indistinguishable from humans - only appearences differing.
We know that humans have them because of the capacity for immaterial cognitive functions and free will. Which presuppose something going beyond the material order, with all the consequences that follow : soul persisting in existence after body ceases to be alive etc. The creature of the highest order in the universe should be enobled with moral rights going far beyond animals of an utterly lower ontological order.
All members of the species have it because all members of the species, by definition, are animated by the same life principle (or soul). Otherwise they would not be of the same species. All things generated by reproduction by humans  constitute (by definition) beings of the same nature.

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I realize that this would be troublesome for him, but that's why the definition of "capacity" is so important. A sleeping person maintains the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality; he is simply not exhibiting them at the time. The human zygote does not possess these capacities. The developing human being will not possess both of these capacities until around age 2 (self-consciousness). The point is that these capacities don't exist. It is impossible for the fetus to exhibit them. It not impossible, however, for the sleeping person to do so. It has, presumably, already exhibited these capacities and will again. It has the ability to exhibit these capacities; it simply chooses not to at the time that it is asleep. The zygote has never demonstrated these capacities and it is impossible for it to do so. It must undergo a multitude of biological changes before it can do so. Assuming the person properly develops, these biological changes are sufficient for its sentience, interests, and claim to moral rights.

A sleeping person, insofar as he in the state of sleep, simply cannot exercise rational activity. So the capacity isn't there either, if by capacity is meant that actual possibility to do so in a given instant (in this case, sleep). So again, either two possibilities: capacity isn't there (so the sleeper isn't a person), or capacity is there (in which case capacity can be something innate and truly within the human even if he can't exercise it in the given instance). Likewise, with the fetus, same two possibilities emerge - the only difference being the time required for such activity to actually occur (and timing is not relevant to the concepts involved with 'capacity', so by virtue of the concept of 'capacity', timing cannot justify a morally significant difference)

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Can you provide evidence of this from the natural law (existence of rational soul - my edit)? Singer does not believe in such things, and I am debating with Singer, so I cannot base my arguments upon unfalsifiable claims. I have to use what is tangible from the natural law only. This is why I haven't resorted to defining "rational soul".

That's the big issue. Metaphysical foundations are just so different. But that's where the real battle is fought or lost when dealing with modern philosophy. Perhaps read up on some thomistic stuff for a good foundation. In a nutshell, as I said before, humans exhibit characteristics that are unexplainable except by reference to an immaterial soul. And such traits are in the immaterial soul even when inoperable as I've indicated. Soul = life principle; all living things have one. Rational soul is peculiar kind of soul (immaterial, free will, never to go out of existence), ontologically of a different order to other souls (vegetative, or animal) had by humans.

Quote

If you read Singer, you will find that he presents a considerable amount of evidence that would suppose some primates (chimpanzees) maintain the capacity of rationality. Why don't these chimps have the same moral rights as humans?


Because they don't have those rights. Singer and many others are misreading the findings of emperical science - even presuming those findings are accurate. We are privileged to have certitude based on faith and not just reason. So from the outset we know there's some misreading of scientific evidence going on. Due to unsound philosophy to begin with. For Singer, we are just more complex; but not of a different order. He presumes this, so then he must presume we don't have certain traits we indeed do have (i.e.: immaterial knowledge, free will). So then we are brought to the level of other animals. And so the similarities between us and let's say chimpanzees are exaggerated. Additionally, complex associations is the most the chimpanzee can get to - but that does not constitute rationality. A chimpanzee simply would not know what the essence of a triangle is for example.








I don't really have to time to respond thoroughly at the moment, but your objection revolves around your conclusion of a "rational soul".

1) Singer doesn't accept the rational soul. If you read his book, you will see why.

2) Singer believes that modern scientific evidence has shown Aristotle to be wrong in his conclusions.

3) Singer does not accept Aristotle's philosophy as altogether correct.

4) Singer calls Aristotle, and other like philosophers, "speciest".

I have a lot more I could say, but I don't have time to say it at the moment. The problem is that you're trying to create other unsubstantiated premises, or other premises that Singer argues has been adequately refuted by recent advancements in science. To use these against him is, to him, strawmen. If you accept his principle, you can't argue for a rational soul because rational souls have no bearing on the moral discussion at hand. The discussion would need to object to the first two chapters of his book, line by line.

That is not really what my article is doing and that is not really what this thread is doing. How familiar are you with his PECI principle?
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INPEFESS

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2010, 01:37:pm »
http://www.cts.org.au/files/pdf/IMPRACTICAL%20ETHICS.pdf

Here's a good article I read a while back concerning Singer and potentiality etc. It helped me get a good bearing on the issues at hand.

Thank you very much for the link. I will take a look at it as soon as I get a chance.
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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2010, 10:19:pm »
By the PECI principle do you mean principle of equality ? If so, I am familiar with it - treat all like interests equally (species, race etc being irrelevent - only the quality of the interests is the issue). As he formulates it, I would disagree with it, because I reject an egalitarian approach it presupposes - which again, is solved via a different worldview, by positing a hierarchical created order - in which case, interests should not be disassociated completely from the type of being which has them.

I commend your efforts by the way to attempt to accept - for the sake of argument - some of Singer's metaphysical presumptions, and work ''within'' his framework to criticise it.  I guess what I'm trying to say though is the modern philosophy is so far away from a catholic philosophy, that ultimately, it comes down to very different metaphysical assumptions.     

Saint Thomas Aquinas' simple yet profound advice concerning sanctity (said to his sister): "Will it"

INPEFESS

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2010, 08:31:am »
By the PECI principle do you mean principle of equality ? If so, I am familiar with it - treat all like interests equally (species, race etc being irrelevent - only the quality of the interests is the issue). As he formulates it, I would disagree with it, because I reject an egalitarian approach it presupposes - which again, is solved via a different worldview, by positing a hierarchical created order - in which case, interests should not be disassociated completely from the type of being which has them.

I commend your efforts by the way to attempt to accept - for the sake of argument - some of Singer's metaphysical presumptions, and work ''within'' his framework to criticise it.  I guess what I'm trying to say though is the modern philosophy is so far away from a catholic philosophy, that ultimately, it comes down to very different metaphysical assumptions.     



Yes, and as I'm sure you know, I don't disagree. I am definitely a Thomist and am fond of Aristotelian ethics, but I decided to accept his principle and then show how, even he, should not maintain the position he holds. I have actually written a variation of the argument I presented in the article, one that spends less time making distinctions and more time exploiting the flaw. I appreciate your feedback, and, again, I don't disagree with you. I started to read the article you linked and have saved for my later perusal (perhaps tonight). It seems that the argument(s) proposed in it are, more or less, what we as Catholics already know. But I am excited to see this scholastic approach objecting to Singer. I was confused, however, because your arguments completely rejected PECI whereas my article accepted it.
I have left the forum because I do not believe I can continue to post here without giving scandal to Catholicism, especially traditional Catholicism, which this forum purports to represent. My presence here only lends credence to the immoral activity and ideas that this forum has come to (at the very least) tolerate, activity and ideas that have always and everywhere been condemned by the Church in principle, activity and ideas that, by their toleration on this forum, give the impression of being compatible with traditional Catholicism. I cannot participate in the forum until such a time as the scandal is removed.

INPEFESS

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2010, 08:03:pm »
I am in the process of reading the article you provided.

I found an interesting paragraph on the top of page 4; that is exactly the topic of my article. I am simply ... proving it philosophically.

I actually have a second version of the article written, one a little more concise. It is essentially the same article but is less focused on the initial distinction. My analysis further expounds (unknowingly) upon the objection used at the top of page 4 from the article you provided. I will post the alternate, more direct version of my argument as soon as I get a chance.
I have left the forum because I do not believe I can continue to post here without giving scandal to Catholicism, especially traditional Catholicism, which this forum purports to represent. My presence here only lends credence to the immoral activity and ideas that this forum has come to (at the very least) tolerate, activity and ideas that have always and everywhere been condemned by the Church in principle, activity and ideas that, by their toleration on this forum, give the impression of being compatible with traditional Catholicism. I cannot participate in the forum until such a time as the scandal is removed.

INPEFESS

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Re: "To Be or Not To Be"
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2010, 04:08:pm »
After reading the article more thoroughly, it seems to be making the exact same point I made in my article; it simply uses a different approach, is not as focused, and isn't as technical. But the fundamental objection is the same. I think you might consider reading my article (past the distinctions of section I) to see what I mean.

Here is the second version of the article (which I have already written) that I mentioned earlier. It is very similar, but more focused than the other version. Version 1 of my argument (unknowingly) focuses on the exact same analogy that the article you provided focuses on. Version 2 makes the point much clearer and focuses on a different analogy.

(Sorry for the large-numbered footnotes.)




“To Be or Not to Be”1


Abortion, one of the most hotly-debated issues of the 20th century, refers to the “termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo, resulting in or caused by its death”2  (referring specifically to a member of the species, Homo sapiens). The ethical issue of abortion has raised important emotional, psychological, biological, sociological, legal, and philosophical questions. As section I of this paper illustrates, a superficial consideration of this ethical issue appears to yield a conclusion supporting the morality of abortion. However, as section II will demonstrate, a more thorough analysis of this popular philosophical question exposes, what appears to be, a small oversight by many influential philosophers, including Peter Singer and Mary Anne Warren, yet one with serious moral significance. Considering that abortion denotes an action taken rather than an action not taken, the scope of this analysis is to examine only the moral significances of positive actions, rather than negative actions.3  Hence, I shall speak only of what we should not do to any presently existent being. After examining this question, we will find in section III that the objections raised in section II sufficiently refute the notion presented in section I that it is morally permissible to terminate the life of the unborn.


Section I

In the section titled The Fetus as Potential Life of Peter Singer’s book, Practical Ethics, Singer reviews a popular argument against abortion. This argument goes something like this:

     First premise: It is wrong to kill a potential human being.
     Second premise: A human fetus is a potential human being.
     Conclusion: Therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.


After refuting a few standard claims made by proponents of this model, Singer then examines the argument a little more seriously. He seems to accept the second premise, but rejects the first. If the first premise can be defended, however, he acknowledges that the conclusion logically follows. Ergo, Singer begins by considering the soundness of the first premise: It is wrong to kill a potential human being. Bearing in mind that potentiality is not actuality, he counters the first premise by objecting that the argument ‘A is a potential X; therefore, A has the rights of an X’ is an erroneous claim. Singer then states on p. 155, “Is there any other significance in the fact that the fetus is a potential person? If there is I have no idea what it could be.” It is in this step that we find and exploit Singer’s error – an oversight present in his own admitted ignorance of the nature of potentiality.


Section II

In order to understand the full moral implications afforded by potentiality, we must understand its complete nature. If we intend to understand its complete nature, we must first acknowledge the distinction between two separate modes of potentiality. The first mode is that potential which denotes existence in possibility – a capability of development into actuality – before the application of an external accelerant initiates the expectancy of the potential’s actualization. By this I mean that the potential is static and non-moving; it exists before a positive action necessary for its fulfillment has taken place. For the purposes of clarity, I shall refer to this mode as passive potentiality. 

The second kind of potentiality is that which denotes existence in possibility – a capability of development into actuality – after the application of an external accelerant has initiated the expectancy of the potential’s pending actualization. By this I mean that the potential is progressive and moving; it exists after a positive action necessary for its fulfillment has taken place. This potential is distinguished by a latent capacity that will advance toward manifestation in time, provided that no other positive action frustrates its actualization. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to this mode as active potentiality. 

Having now distinguished between the two modes of potentiality, I will turn my focus to a more concrete distinction – that between what Singer calls members of the species Homo sapiens and persons. On p. 85, Singer describes the biological membership of the species as “…determined scientifically by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms.” On p. 87, he distinguishes this membership from persons, which he describes as “rational and self-conscious being[ s ].”4 If being a member of a species with the capacity for personhood is a necessary condition of being a person, and if the species Homo sapiens is distinguished by that capacity, then membership of this species is sufficient for the first necessary condition: having the capacity for personhood. Furthermore, if being a person is necessary for receiving moral rights, then we must consider whether there are any other conditions in addition to the first that might be necessary for the acquisition of these rights.
 
In order to determine what other condition might be necessary, we must consider what prerequisites are needed for self-consciousness and rationality. It is given that in order for any being to possess the faculties of self-consciousness and rationality, the being must first exist. Since existence itself is a prerequisite for having the capacity for personhood, we must first examine the implications of the potentiality of personhood in an existent being.

We can see the two modes of potentiality defined at the beginning of this section evidenced throughout life all the way to the micro-level of nature. Consider, for instance, the chromosomes at the root of any member of the species Homo sapiens. Before a gene exists, provided that certain positive actions may take place that will bring about its existence, the non-existent gene has the potential to come into existence. At this point before the existence of the gene, the would-be phenotypes associated with the genome have a passive potential to exist. By this I mean that there is no imminent expectation that the gene will come into existence without the realization that something that would not ordinary happen of its own accord must happen first. Once that gene comes into existence, however, its pending phenotypes are expected, anticipated, and presumed to become manifest unless they are inhibited by some external force. As a result, they are qualified by a different condition, that of active potentiality.

But how does this active potentiality relate to the example used above of passive potentiality? When molecular biologists speak of genetics, they do not say that a genome doesn’t carry genetic instructions because its phenotypes have not yet been expressed. Instead, they say that a genome is a set of physical characteristics pending manifestation. If allowed to develop according to its natural design, a genome will express the genetic code it carries in the form of the observable, physiological characteristics of the host cell(s). This process will advance inevitably unless frustrated by some external, positive action.

As it concerns abortion, when considering what we should not do, this potentiality is only significant insomuch as the genome is presently in existence. There is no conditional expectation that a phenotype would exist by nature of a supposed propensity to manifest itself without supposing the necessary existence of the genotype from which it was expressed. We know this cannot happen because no person has been known to instantaneously transcend potential existence into a fully developed self-conscious and rational reality. Moreover, experience indicates that all beings come into existence via a gradual, incremental process of developmental progress. Significantly, because a moral consideration of what we should not do to nonexistent beings could never be realistically appraised, we need to consider the moral implications of active potentiality: what we should not do to beings that are already in existence. Applying this understanding to the morality of terminating the life of a developing fetus, we can see that there is an important distinction to be made between the consideration of potentiality associated with the possibility of actualization and potentiality associated with pending actualization. 

This pending actualization can only become manifest provided that no positive action – such as destroying the genome – interferes with the active potentiality of its existence. This condition requires that no external force frustrates the genome’s intrinsic propensity to express its pending phenotypes. This means that, under ordinary circumstances, the developing organism will advance toward obtaining the rights of a person unless something or someone interferes.5  This condition of uninhibited pending actualization of which I have been speaking is necessary to constitute the second condition essential for the organism’s inheritance of moral rights:  positive change over time.6  For conciseness, I shall refer to this change as progress. As it concerns the human fetus, this progress is related to its growth and development.   

We are now able to consider the nature of active potentiality in light of a developing person. Assuming that both biological parents are members of the species Homo sapiens, then their offspring are also biologically members of the same species. According to Singer, to be a person, and, subsequently, to claim moral rights, it is first necessary that a being be a member of a species which possesses, at least, the capacities for self-consciousness and rationality. Since the species Homo sapiens is distinguishable by these capacities, we know that a being that is a member of this species possesses the first condition necessary for the acquisition of moral rights. Because experience tells us that no person spontaneously comes into existence manifesting its fullest capacity as a member of the species to which it belongs, no person could have the capacity for self-consciousness and rationality without first having, as the fetus, the opportunity for uninhibited developmental progress. Hence, to posses the capacity for self-consciousness and rationality, a being must be allowed uninhibited developmental progress. As we can see, uninhibited developmental progress is necessary for the capacity for self-consciousness and rationality. For clarity’s sake, I will refer to this constituent as the “condition of developmental progress”. 

To be a person, it is necessary that a being possess the capacity for self-consciousness and rationality as well as the condition for developmental progress. It seems prima facie wrong to justify an action by first removing a condition that would make that action immoral (so as to make it moral) if all the conditions applied, but let us consider a hypothetical situation in which this intentional removal of a necessary condition for moral rights might be appraised.

Suppose, for instance, that a woman is involved in a serious car accident which places her in a state of comatose. This woman remains in this state for a significant period of time and there seems no possibility that she will emerge from her unconscious state. Brain scans indicate that, if she were to awake, she would have no memory of her past. Thus, if she were to awaken, she would start completely “anew” so to speak. Power of attorney has been granted to her husband, who does not wish to perpetuate his wife’s current state because he has another love interest. However, as he is determining to end her life, the brain scans begin to reveal an increased activity of her brain. Her condition begins to steadily improve, and recent test results prove that, because her existent body acts as a medium, provided her progress is uninhibited, she will inevitably regain her capacities of self-consciousness and rationality. The husband knows that if he permits her the necessary condition of progress by means of negative action, she will inevitably regain the rights of her personhood. But, because he places his rights as an existing person over the rights of a “potential person”, and, because he knows that killing her will prevent any opportunity of her acquiring the moral rights associated with the actualization of this potential, he justifies the denial of developmental progress to his wife, resulting in the forfeiture of whatever claim to subsequent moral rights she may have had, and subsequently kills her.

In view of the above analogy, it seems apparent that the removal of any condition necessary for the acquisition of moral rights for the purpose of justifying an action means that we acknowledge there is a problem with taking the life of someone in their fullest capacity. Because we realize this, it seems we are also aware that one possible way of justifying the taking of another’s life might be to prevent that person from attaining their fullest capacity.  Were we to do this, however, we would be acknowledging the personhood we would expect to exist unless we did something to stop it. If we justify the commission of an action via the preliminary removal of a condition which, if present, would make the commission of that action wrong, then the removal of one such condition is probably immoral in the same way that it would be wrong to purposely prevent a severely mentally disabled child from naturally developing, through gradual progress, the capacities of self-consciousness and rationality. If we would not justify the killing of the developing person in the form of the disabled child, then it would be inconsistent to justify the killing of a developing person in the form of fetus. As it pertains to personhood, then, to remove the condition of developmental progress is to remove a condition necessary for the being to inherit moral rights. Since, to perform an abortion is to remove the condition of developmental progress, it follows that to kill a fetus is to deny it the moral rights sufficient for this condition. Because the removal of such a condition is immoral, then the killing of a fetus is immoral for the same reason. 


Section III

So far, this analysis has treated of an oversight on the part of those who would posit that potentiality cannot suffice for the inheritance of moral rights. Some authors, namely Mary Anne Warren, have elucidated this objection by suggesting extreme, hypothetical circumstances that would, presumably, force the potentiality argument to include an obligation to bring into existence every passive potential life. One such analogous case proposed by Warren considers the moral implications of a space explorer captured by aliens whose scientists endeavor to use the cells of his body to spawn a great number of human clones. Warren objects that the explorer would be permitted to escape rather than submit himself to the whims of the alien culture that endeavors to bring into existence a significant number of human clones from the cells of his body. What Warren does not address, however, is the dual-nature of potentiality and these natures’ moral significances. As previously demonstrated, the fact of the matter remains that a potential person with no biological expectation of personhood can’t possibly lay claim to any rights that are merited by those who already possess manifest existence upon which is built the biological propensities toward personhood. Furthermore, her analogy overlooks the role that the aliens play in this situation. The potentiality of the human clones’ existences can only be actualized by the application of some external force, the absence of which would yield no reasonable expectation of existence. The aliens would have to perform some positive action in order to initiate one of the necessary conditions of personhood: developmental progress. Understanding the significance of these distinctions, it would seem impossible to accept Warren’s application of her analogy to potentiality’s significant role in the abortion issue.

Conclusively, in light of the above understanding, personhood, its necessary conditions, and the moral rights afforded to them seem to play a much larger role in the rights of active potential beings than Singer and Warren would have us believe. Consequently, it seems apparent that we should not justify the killing of an active potential person on the grounds that the removal of personhood’s necessary conditions induces an automatic forfeiture of that potential person’s moral rights. To do so would allow for the unrestricted prevention of morally significant conditions from human beings who were tending toward personhood in order to provide us with the peace of mind to kill them as we please.


_____________________________________________

1. Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, Shakespeare

2. Gynaecology for Lawyers, Trevor Dutt, Margaret P. Matthews

3. Positive action refers to the execution of any action. Negative action refers to inaction.

4. It is probable that there are other considerations that would further qualify personhood, but for the subject at hand, this analysis will treat only of Singer’s proposed distinctions.

5. Something could refer to a debilitating disease that would interfere with the life of the fetus.

6. Negative change over time would be failure to meet the condition necessary for developmental progress.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2010, 06:28:pm by INPEFESS »
I have left the forum because I do not believe I can continue to post here without giving scandal to Catholicism, especially traditional Catholicism, which this forum purports to represent. My presence here only lends credence to the immoral activity and ideas that this forum has come to (at the very least) tolerate, activity and ideas that have always and everywhere been condemned by the Church in principle, activity and ideas that, by their toleration on this forum, give the impression of being compatible with traditional Catholicism. I cannot participate in the forum until such a time as the scandal is removed.