"To Be or Not To Be"
#6
(05-16-2010, 03:59 AM)Lagrange Wrote:
(05-16-2010, 12:42 AM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(05-15-2010, 10:01 AM)Lagrange Wrote: It's late and I haven't read your essay in detail, but I'll comment on your preliminary considerations.

- The most common objection to my claim is that, given my distinction, there is no difference between the potentiality of a developing fetus and that of a sperm approaching the egg moments before conception. What these people don't know is their objection is perfectly legitimate; I oppose contraception from the natural law for the same reason as I have opposed abortion in this article. Of course, these philosophers would expect me to support contraception from the natural law.

Are you doing that just for the sake of argument? Because the actual reasons why contraception is immoral and why abortion is immoral are distinct. Contraception as such is not murder. Abortion is. It's true that both cases involve the illicit frustration of potentiality, but the potentiality is of two different sorts. . One involves the frustration of an existing life (through killing, thus halting further development). The other (contraception) involves frustrating the means by which a life comes into existence.

Thank you for your post. You bring up some good points.

A closer examination of this distinction shows that, if potentiality is the morally significant condition, then what's the difference between the potentiality before conception and that after conception? From the perspective of potentiality, there isn't much of a difference between the sperm just before it enters the egg and the sperm after it has combined with the egg. Why is the fusion of them morally significant from the potentiality perspective when both situations - both just before conception and just after - have the same potential? If you leave the sperm to its natural potential, unless frustrated, it will bond with the egg and yield the same potential traits as would be produced just after. They are both natural and both imminent. They will both yield the same results regardless of what stage they are in. If you argue that the actual fusioin is somehow morally significant, then you have to create some argument for the sacredness of the human chromosomes. That is easier said than done. I will address the rest of your post when I have a chance...

A sperm and egg on their own are only potentially a human. When fusion occurs, the egg and sperm are no longer simply egg and sperm, but united become a human organism (or life). If the practical exhibition of rational activity is what you refer to, then yes, 'potentiality' applies equally to both. However, rationality is intrinsic within a human organism (i.e.: from conception) in a way that it is not intrinsic in a sperm and egg considered separately.

Yes, it is not intrinsic capacity to which we refer; it is, as you said, the exhibition thereof (a manifest capacity). A sleeping person would still have this capacity for he would regain it as soon as he was awakened. If we don't consider this, it becomes very subjective: "the potential for the capacity for self-consciousness and rationality is what is morally significant." It becomes so impossibly distant from any sense of moral significance. What about the capacity for the potential for the capacity for personhood? How far can we take it? At what point is it no longer morally significant?

If the sperm and the egg are left to their own - and Singer hates this word (for its ambiguity) - natural end, they will fuse and a human life will be born. But what is so special about the human chromosomes that grant it ipso facto claim to a higher level of moral - and Singer hates this word, too - rights? We'd have to start arguing that the genetic structure of man is somehow superior. But so what if we do? If we start doing this, then we must start discriminating between different intellectual capacities. For instance, there are some primates with higher intellectual capacities than some humans. Should we therefore grant these primates a higher level of moral rights because of a superior genetic structure? It hardly seems logical that we could do that. Biological differences don't seem to be, of themselves, meritorious of different levels of moral rights. There are other capacities not specifically biological that could do this, but the zygote doesn't have those capacities yet. It has the potential for that capacity, but for something to have a capacity, it must be capable of demonstrating that capacity. A zygote could hardly demonstrate this capacity as a small bundle of cells, but we can expect that it will one day. In this sense, it is not but a potential for a capacity.

Separately, the sperm and egg have the same potential as together because, unless inhibited, they will fuse, but, since in order to prevent personhood from manifesting within the human it would require either the frustration of the fusion between the sperm and egg or the termination of their product - the zygote - it seems hard to say that one is more valuable than the other when the capacity for personhood is not yet there. It will be (probably) if left alone, yes, but not yet.




EDIT: I didn't get a chance to respond to your first post yet, so I hope this helps answer some your objections. For example, you said that the surgeon is still a surgeon even if not presently operating as one. But that is a false distinction because the surgeon has the capacity to act as surgeon at any time (given the circumstances). The zygote can't do that. The zygote can't simply act as a person by mere employment of its will. It doesn't yet have the capacity. The surgeon has the capacity and selectively employs it at will. But this analogy claims that the surgeon would still have the same rights as a surgeon even while going through medical school. He's not there yet and can't simply will himself to act as surgeon before he is capable of doing so.
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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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