Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, Just War theory and other such hot topics.

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Jeff
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Re: Jeff

Post by Jeff » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:04 pm

Impenitent wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:17 pm
henry quirk wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:45 pm


Am I a person? If so, what are the qualities & characteristics that make me a 'person'?
recognition by the herd, unless one is a solipsist

-Imp
I don't know if I can agree with that definition, it seems to allow for some pretty morally problematic issues to arise. For instance, slavery didn't make slaves non-persons, it made slave-holders morally reprehensible. Also, it seems too dependent on which "herd" you are around at the time. You could lose and gain personhood from hour to hour theoretically.

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henry quirk
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Jeff

Post by henry quirk » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:30 pm

Ask yourself...

Am I a person?

If so, what are the qualities & characteristics that make me a 'person'?

What a pregnant woman carries: does it have those qualities & characteristics?

...then tell me what you think.

Jeff
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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Jeff » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:08 pm

I'm actually pretty open to being persuaded here. I don't have a really solid argument for what entails personhood. I think the definitions I've come up with are pretty unsatisfactory, but my instinctual feelings about what makes a person are something like this:

Intelligence capabilities are a big factor. If a being exceeds a certain threshold of intelligence it becomes a person. I'm open to non-human persons (animals, aliens, machines, etc.) If a being is able to hold values and preferences, it is a good indicator of intelligence and so that is the measuring stick I will use.

I also think there are variable levels of personhood, degrees of it. I think what we're talking about here is what is the minimum threshold that we need to pass over to be a person. As a starting point, I think the threshold for personhood is having at least one preference that is not related to survival (preferring to live rather than die, isn't really a preference. Preferring to do something because it's easier isn't really a preference, etc.)

This is a low threshold, but I think I'm comfortable with it, at least at the moment. I don't think the life meat that a woman carries can cross that threshold. I can already see some holes in this definition, but I'm eager to hear what everyone else thinks of it.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:16 pm

Jeff wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:08 pm
I'm actually pretty open to being persuaded here. I don't have a really solid argument for what entails personhood. I think the definitions I've come up with are pretty unsatisfactory, but my instinctual feelings about what makes a person are something like this:

Intelligence capabilities are a big factor.
Well, okay: but immediately, there's a problem. Some people are more intelligent than others. Does that mean that they are more "persons" than others? And some are less intelligent: does that entail that they are less "persons"?
I also think there are variable levels of personhood, degrees of it.
That would be an even more dangerous idea, especially whenever you coupled it with a variable criterion like "intelligence."
I think what we're talking about here is what is the minimum threshold that we need to pass over to be a person.
This might help: but you'd have to get the threshold dead right.
As a starting point, I think the threshold for personhood is having at least one preference that is not related to survival (preferring to live rather than die, isn't really a preference. Preferring to do something because it's easier isn't really a preference, etc.)
What we know about babies in utero are that they do have preferences. They react to music and to voices, for example, or react differently to different foods. So at that rate, you'd have to be an anti-abortionist, at least in the second and third trimesters, if not in the first. And in the first, you'd need to be able to satisfy a rational person that the in utero baby was not yet having any preferences we hadn't detected...because shortly he/she would definitely be manifesting the criterion you've set as your basic one.

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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Jeff » Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:01 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:16 pm
Well, okay: but immediately, there's a problem. Some people are more intelligent than others. Does that mean that they are more "persons" than others? And some are less intelligent: does that entail that they are less "persons"?

That would be an even more dangerous idea, especially whenever you coupled it with a variable criterion like "intelligence."
Yes, I think I agree with that. I'm using intelligence as the requirement and preferences as the measuring stick for personhood. The more intelligence a being has, the more personhood I think that being gains. They are able to experience things on a more acute level, and that wider range of capability truly expands their personhood. I don't think it actually too dangerous to allow for this. So long as we decide what rights are granted when you achieve personhood. Whether it is right or not, I think most people intuitively feel this way.

Taking this further to help prove my point--I think human personhood exceeds the personhood that can be experienced by other intelligent animals. However I do think those other intelligent animals deserve personhood and should be considered non human persons.
What we know about babies in utero are that they do have preferences. They react to music and to voices, for example, or react differently to different foods. So at that rate, you'd have to be an anti-abortionist, at least in the second and third trimesters, if not in the first. And in the first, you'd need to be able to satisfy a rational person that the in utero baby was not yet having any preferences we hadn't detected...because shortly he/she would definitely be manifesting the criterion you've set as your basic one.
I'm not sure I agree that "you'd need to be able to satisfy a rational person that the in utero baby was not yet having any preferences we hadn't detected." It seems to be a little bit reversed to me. I think personhood of the woman carrying the baby is on pretty solid ground. So in order to be able to infringe on the woman's personhood and the rights and protections that come along with it, one needs to prove to a rational person that the in utero being has preferences and deserves consideration beyond what the woman dictates.

Here is the key, and really where I think most people disagree: once we are able to determine preferences, that is when a being becomes endowed with personhood. That endowment comes with protections and rights. With the endowment of personhood, what rights and protections are gained?

Impenitent
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Re: Jeff

Post by Impenitent » Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:10 pm

Jeff wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:04 pm
Impenitent wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:17 pm
henry quirk wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:45 pm


Am I a person? If so, what are the qualities & characteristics that make me a 'person'?
recognition by the herd, unless one is a solipsist

-Imp
I don't know if I can agree with that definition, it seems to allow for some pretty morally problematic issues to arise. For instance, slavery didn't make slaves non-persons, it made slave-holders morally reprehensible. Also, it seems too dependent on which "herd" you are around at the time. You could lose and gain personhood from hour to hour theoretically.
slaves were property, not persons; just as fetuses are "extensions" of the mother...

southern slaves who made it north (different herd) became "free" people until they were "returned"

expressions of individuality that fall on deaf ears, deny it...

-Imp

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:34 pm

Jeff wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:01 pm
Yes, I think I agree with that. I'm using intelligence as the requirement and preferences as the measuring stick for personhood. The more intelligence a being has, the more personhood I think that being gains.
Okay.

That entails that the academics and elite thinkers are more "persons" than are ordinary people. Then people with lower IQs are less "persons." Perhaps the mentally handicapped are even less "persons" than that. The elderly, once their brains are enfeebled, are barely "persons." And so on.

Really?
...one needs to prove to a rational person that the in utero being has preferences and deserves consideration beyond what the woman dictates.
Earlier, you said that having just one distinct preference would be the margin. Do you still think so?

Then we have it. For the in utero child's taste in music and voices, or in foods, is not the same as, nor dependent on, the woman's. If the child has his/her own tastes, wishes and preferences, -- as I recall, you said just one, but we have more -- then we have a "person," according to your definition.
That endowment comes with protections and rights.
Actually, it's not apparent that a "person" has any rights at all...at least from a secular perspective. A "person" is just another chance bit of matter floating around an indifferent universe: what "rights" do we owe such a bit?

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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Jeff » Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:40 pm

Impenitent wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:10 pm
slaves were property, not persons; just as fetuses are "extensions" of the mother...

southern slaves who made it north (different herd) became "free" people until they were "returned"

expressions of individuality that fall on deaf ears, deny it...

-Imp
This line of argument reminds me a lot of the linguistic argument around the meaning of words, so I want to apply it here and see if you agree. If you do, I'll understand how you are approaching personhood a little better.

H2o=Water. Now let's say I go to the south where they are calling H2o something else, by some mistake they think H2o isn't water, or only h2o that comes from a specific place is water. However, later on, they realize that their definition of water was wrong and expand it to all H2o. Did calling H2o by some other name make it something else? Was H2o in fact, not water during that period of time the southerners were calling h2o something else? Or was h2o=water no matter where you are, and the southerners were just mistaken?

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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Jeff » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:17 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:34 pm
Okay.

That entails that the academics and elite thinkers are more "persons" than are ordinary people. Then people with lower IQs are less "persons." Perhaps the mentally handicapped are even less "persons" than that. The elderly, once their brains are enfeebled, are barely "persons." And so on.

Really?
Yes.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the academics and elite thinkers being more intelligent, perhaps they are only more educated. But if you say they have a greater capacity to understand and appreciate a wider range of experiences, then yes, their personhood is greater. And yes, a person who is literally impaired mentally would certainly be challenged in being able to experience the full breadth of personhood on the same level as someone who was not similarly impaired. This doesn't mean they couldn't, but their challenge is greater. Finally, with elderly people who slowly lose mental capacity, yes, I think they lose some personhood. And I think people who have experienced this first hand witness it happening. They even use language to mirror it. "He's just not the same man anymore." "He goes in and out." "Don't take it personally, that wasn't really him just then."
Earlier, you said that having just one distinct preference would be the margin. Do you still think so?
Sure. We have to draw a line somewhere and one preference is a clean line to draw.
Then we have it. For the in utero child's taste in music and voices, or in foods, is not the same as, nor dependent on, the woman's. If the child has his/her own tastes, wishes and preferences, -- as I recall, you said just one, but we have more -- then we have a "person," according to your definition.
Sure, if you can prove that a in-utero fetus has preferences, I would say it is a person and give whatever rights and considerations that come with that. However, as you point out next....

Actually, it's not apparent that a "person" has any rights at all...at least from a secular perspective. A "person" is just another chance bit of matter floating around an indifferent universe: what "rights" do we owe such a bit?
This is the more important question. Really what's the point of classifying a thing as a person, if it doesn't really make any difference for how it is treated or how we think about it. I think we owe other persons consideration and a shot at empathy. That is their bare minimum right, maybe there are others. I should at least consider another person, whereas I could ignore inanimate objects/non-persons (impossible to empathize with them anyway).

Impenitent
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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Impenitent » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:23 am

Jeff wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:40 pm
Impenitent wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:10 pm
slaves were property, not persons; just as fetuses are "extensions" of the mother...

southern slaves who made it north (different herd) became "free" people until they were "returned"

expressions of individuality that fall on deaf ears, deny it...

-Imp
This line of argument reminds me a lot of the linguistic argument around the meaning of words, so I want to apply it here and see if you agree. If you do, I'll understand how you are approaching personhood a little better.

H2o=Water. Now let's say I go to the south where they are calling H2o something else, by some mistake they think H2o isn't water, or only h2o that comes from a specific place is water. However, later on, they realize that their definition of water was wrong and expand it to all H2o. Did calling H2o by some other name make it something else? Was H2o in fact, not water during that period of time the southerners were calling h2o something else? Or was h2o=water no matter where you are, and the southerners were just mistaken?
the meaning of words is their use and is always a private event...

the approximation of meaning is never exact- communication is roughly done at best...

e.g. your idea of the meaning of pain is not the same as the woman who gives birth...

to clarify:

a slave was a slave until the slave's cry of individuality fell upon ears which accepted said individuality...

once the slave's cry of individuality was ignored, the shackles were reimposed by the herd...

-Imp

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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Jeff » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:42 am

Impenitent wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:23 am
the meaning of words is their use and is always a private event...

the approximation of meaning is never exact- communication is roughly done at best...

e.g. your idea of the meaning of pain is not the same as the woman who gives birth...

to clarify:

a slave was a slave until the slave's cry of individuality fell upon ears which accepted said individuality...

once the slave's cry of individuality was ignored, the shackles were reimposed by the herd...

-Imp
In this case is there even a possibility of using a word incorrectly? And it seems to not rely so much on the herd, but on your individual meaning. It's a private event.

It seems a slave was only a slave until he stopped calling himself a slave.

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henry quirk
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Jeff

Post by henry quirk » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:53 am

"I also think there are variable levels of personhood, degrees of it."

I can't disagree more.

Philosophically: as a natural rights guy, I see personhood as inviolate and complete.

This...

A person is an individual who has a natural potential for the capacities of subjective awareness, intrinsic intentionality and cognition, and intentional action.

...I think is a pretty good working defintion. Note: intelligence is only one characteristic & there is no scale of 'lesser' or ' greater'.

Practically: accepting different grades of 'personhood' opens the door to Huxley's Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons (which might be okay if you're Alpha, but not so much if you're Epsilon).

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henry quirk
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"With the endowment of personhood, what rights and protections are gained?"

Post by henry quirk » Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:59 am

Seif-ownership & the right to one 's life, liberty, & property. These are intrinsic to the individual & can only be abridged if one deprives another of his life, liberty, or property.

That's the natural rights (my) view, anyway.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:20 am

Jeff wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:17 am
Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:34 pm
Really?
Yes.
Okay.
I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the academics and elite thinkers being more intelligent, perhaps they are only more educated. But if you say they have a greater capacity to understand and appreciate a wider range of experiences, then yes, their personhood is greater.
I'm not quite clear here on what you're pointing to. I understand that a smarter person may (although I think it's far from certain) have "a wider range of experiences," or a "wider appreciation" thereof. (Someone could counter that knowledge sometimes increases sadness, and that some people with lower levels of academic ability are sometimes much happier -- but let us let that slide for now.)

I guess my question would be, "Why is someone who has a 'wider range' also more a 'person'?" Would you not suppose that the ontological status of "personhood" could fully belong to somebody with an IQ of 110, just as much as someone whose IQ was 120? Their enjoyment levels might be different, but is their ontological status?

A poodle and a labrador are both ontologically dogs. Is one more "dog" because it can retrieve, or the other, because it can be coiffed? It seems to me that their ontological status is unaffected. So why would their intelligence make one more "dog" than another?
Sure, if you can prove that a in-utero fetus has preferences,
Yes. We've done that.
Actually, it's not apparent that a "person" has any rights at all...at least from a secular perspective. A "person" is just another chance bit of matter floating around an indifferent universe: what "rights" do we owe such a bit?
This is the more important question. Really what's the point of classifying a thing as a person, if it doesn't really make any difference for how it is treated or how we think about it[?]
Right.
I think we owe other persons consideration and a shot at empathy.

Why?

Let's tell the story a different way. Let's imagine that evolution, or opportunity, or advantage favours the vicious. That's quite possible. Certainly, people have many reasons why being vicious (or exploitative, or a thief, or a bully) is better than being empathetic, which is why there is a temptation to being vicious at all. So let me then ask: why should I not seize the evolutionary advantage I have? Why am I obligated by some rule to feel sorry for others, when I know that my advantage consists in tyrannizing or exploiting them, and I have the cunning I need, and they have insufficient power at their disposal to resist me?

In fact, why should I not use my empathy, my ability to imagine what they are feeling, to exploit their feelings to my advantage, rather than to have pity on them? My empathy could be very useful there, and will make me more effective as a vicious person.

And if you say I cannot, then where is that rule written?

Impenitent
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Re: Does a pregnant woman carry a human being/person or just 'life'/meat?

Post by Impenitent » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:50 pm

Jeff wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:42 am
Impenitent wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:23 am
the meaning of words is their use and is always a private event...

the approximation of meaning is never exact- communication is roughly done at best...

e.g. your idea of the meaning of pain is not the same as the woman who gives birth...

to clarify:

a slave was a slave until the slave's cry of individuality fell upon ears which accepted said individuality...

once the slave's cry of individuality was ignored, the shackles were reimposed by the herd...

-Imp
In this case is there even a possibility of using a word incorrectly? And it seems to not rely so much on the herd, but on your individual meaning. It's a private event.

It seems a slave was only a slave until he stopped calling himself a slave.
he stopped calling himself a slave, perhaps he never called himself a slave ...

as I said: "a slave was a slave until the slave's cry of individuality fell upon ears which accepted said individuality...

once the slave's cry of individuality was ignored, the shackles were reimposed by the herd..."

-Imp

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