"To Be or Not To Be"
(05-17-2010, 05:09 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(05-17-2010, 01:38 AM)Lagrange Wrote: 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.

Quote: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.

Quote: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.

Quote: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)

Quote: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.


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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