"To Be or Not To Be"
#9
Human nature = rational animal
Personhood follows by the mere fact of being a member of the species homo sapiens. Because all homo sapiens have a rational soul, personhood is essential to their nature. 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. 

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. He would cease to be a surgeon only when his license is revoked or expired (analagous to 'death'). I admit this analogy is not iron clad but it still serves the purpose.

(05-16-2010, 10:20 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
Quote:  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.

Why is wrong to kill an innocent human being who is in a "PVS" but not an animal with a superior intellectual capacity? What is it about membership of humanity that makes it so morally significant that it can't be killed. Some sort of superior intellectual capacity? What about members who don't have that capacity yet, such as the zygote? What about those in comatose without expectation of future consciousness? Who is the victim? Since the fetus hasn't manifested any capacity, how can it be a victim? Instead, you'd have to take on the Marquis approach and start claiming that denying it a "future-like-ours" makes it - somehow - a victim. There is some potential in some of these arguments, but those are many of the questions posed by Singer, Warren, and Thomson (I think she argues some of these) in response to them.

EDIT

These objections are dealt with above; again, comes down to that actual personhood does not depend on actual rational actiibity. 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. And what makes humanity special is that it is different in kind to other animals (by having a rational soul that is immortal etc).

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

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).

(05-16-2010, 10:47 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(05-15-2010, 10:01 AM)Lagrange Wrote: 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. 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 is true a different aspect of human nature may be focused on in each premise; but these two aspects (membership of the species, and being a person) are two sides to the one coin. Being a human life implies moral right simply because it is a being of a rational nature.





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Messages In This Thread
"To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-13-2010, 09:10 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Lagrange - 05-15-2010, 10:01 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Vetus Ordo - 05-15-2010, 01:11 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-16-2010, 12:42 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Lagrange - 05-16-2010, 03:59 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-16-2010, 10:06 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-16-2010, 10:20 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-16-2010, 10:47 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Lagrange - 05-17-2010, 01:38 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-17-2010, 09:01 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-17-2010, 05:09 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Lagrange - 05-18-2010, 08:34 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-20-2010, 10:46 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Lagrange - 05-23-2010, 03:45 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-23-2010, 01:36 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-23-2010, 01:37 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Lagrange - 05-23-2010, 10:19 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-24-2010, 08:31 AM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-24-2010, 08:03 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-27-2010, 04:08 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by Historian - 05-27-2010, 05:21 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-27-2010, 05:41 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-27-2010, 05:46 PM
Re: "To Be or Not To Be" - by INPEFESS - 05-27-2010, 05:51 PM



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