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Thread: Christianity Today Op Ed

  1. #1361
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    So if you could put a baby to sleep so it would be unaware that you were going to kill it and it couldn't feel any pain, then infanticide would be OK? If not, why not?

    What about anesthetizing a 7 month old fetus before aborting it?
    This would be an ethical question but it's the wrong category of question.

    The argument is not merely that embryos and fetuses, up to a certain date of gestation, do not suffer. It's that they lack the neurological capacity for suffering and, indeed, sensation processing. That relates to the question of what is a "person" and at what point do human organisms gain and lose the rights afforded to all persons?

    We understand, for instance, that brain-dead patients do not have the rights afforded to persons -- at least not all of them. We understand that people who die do so slowly -- brain-death often precedes the death of other organs. We recognize, for the most part, that the life and health of a grown pregnant woman supersedes whatever rights are afforded to embryos and fetuses.

    So the question isn't whether an organism suffers when talking about its rights. The question involves (but is not limited to) whether an organism has sufficient neurological capacity for suffering.

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  2. #1362
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill the Cat View Post
    Brain development is merely one of several interrelated biological processes. Decapitation does not mean that the head is still a human person because it has a fully developed brain. Human persons are human persons at the moment of conception.
    If you could decapitate a person and keep her head and brain alive (we're maybe 50-150 years out), which would be the "person" with rights? Her head or her separated body?

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  3. #1363
    What's that? lilpixieofterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    If you could decapitate a person and keep her head and brain alive (we're maybe 50-150 years out), which would be the "person" with rights? Her head or her separated body?

    --Sam
    Head in a jar, here we come. Although I’m partial to the headless body of Agnew, so maybe it’s both.
    "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
    GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

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  5. #1364
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    This would be an ethical question but it's the wrong category of question.

    The argument is not merely that embryos and fetuses, up to a certain date of gestation, do not suffer. It's that they lack the neurological capacity for suffering and, indeed, sensation processing. That relates to the question of what is a "person" and at what point do human organisms gain and lose the rights afforded to all persons?

    We understand, for instance, that brain-dead patients do not have the rights afforded to persons -- at least not all of them. We understand that people who die do so slowly -- brain-death often precedes the death of other organs. We recognize, for the most part, that the life and health of a grown pregnant woman supersedes whatever rights are afforded to embryos and fetuses.

    So the question isn't whether an organism suffers when talking about its rights. The question involves (but is not limited to) whether an organism has sufficient neurological capacity for suffering.

    --Sam
    Brain death at the end of life is quite a bit different than an embryo who hasn't yet developed a brain. It WILL develop a brain if you don't kill it first. A brain dead individual will not and cannot recover. If they could recover, then we would not "take away their rights" and would be unable to unplug them.

    So that leaves "ability to suffer" - since when is that a criteria for killing someone? If you anesthetize them first, then it is OK?

    And "person" is a legal term. It has no meaning in biology. Biologically a fetus is just as much a human organism as a 1 month old baby. It is perfectly normal for it to not have a brain yet. YET.

  6. #1365
    God, family, chicken! Bill the Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    If you could decapitate a person and keep her head and brain alive (we're maybe 50-150 years out), which would be the "person" with rights? Her head or her separated body?

    --Sam
    Neither. Both parts can be kept artificially alive without the other for a period of time. And one need not a "fully functioning brain" to be alive.

    Source: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health-you-asked/it-true-you-can-live-without-brain

    Back in 1980, an article appeared in Science, one of the world’s top journals, describing the work of John Lorber, a professor of pediatrics at University of Sheffield in England who had conducted a number of studies on individuals who were afflicted with hydrocephalus and came up with some remarkable findings. Lorber had subjected his patients to CAT scans and found that while most of them were mentally impaired, some, even when their brain filled no more than 5% of the cranial cavity led normal lives. In one documented case, a colleague referred a young man to Lorber because of his unusually large head which apparently was not causing him any difficulty. A CAT scan revealed a skull lined with about a millimeter thick layer of brain tissue and filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Of course the brain stem which sits at the bottom of the brain and connects to the spine was normal. Since it controls vital functions such as breathing, swallowing, digestion, eye movement and heartbeat, there can be no life without it. But the rest of the brain is obviously capable of some remarkable feats, with one part able to compensate for deficiencies in another. In the case of the young man who Lorber investigated, the thin layer of brain cells was certainly up to the task of providing the necessary brain power. The student had a high IQ of 126 and had a first class honours degree in mathematics.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals --- Manya the Holy Szin --- The Quintara Marathon ---

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common --- Stephen R. Donaldson ---

  7. #1366
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    Brain death at the end of life is quite a bit different than an embryo who hasn't yet developed a brain. It WILL develop a brain if you don't kill it first. A brain dead individual will not and cannot recover. If they could recover, then we would not "take away their rights" and would be unable to unplug them.

    So that leaves "ability to suffer" - since when is that a criteria for killing someone? If you anesthetize them first, then it is OK?

    And "person" is a legal term. It has no meaning in biology. Biologically a fetus is just as much a human organism as a 1 month old baby. It is perfectly normal for it to not have a brain yet. YET.
    Person is a philosophical term. Biology tells us absolutely nothing on its own about rights or morality. So we dispense with that distinction. Regardless, if we're talking about whether abortion is to be legal, we're talking about legal terms.

    What you describe for brain-dead patients is that they no longer have the potential for neurological capacity. That's correct. Embryos and fetuses do have such potential. However, so do gametes. So, too, do potential gametes. Do we confer rights on potentials? We do not -- otherwise vasectomies and contraception would be similarly in violation of rights.

    So: for someone who argues that a fetus has legal rights because it has potential to acquire the basic properties of personhood, the question is whether they can identify anything else in law that confers rights to a potential entity.

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  8. #1367
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill the Cat View Post
    Neither. Both parts can be kept artificially alive without the other for a period of time. And one need not a "fully functioning brain" to be alive.

    Source: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health-you-asked/it-true-you-can-live-without-brain

    Back in 1980, an article appeared in Science, one of the world’s top journals, describing the work of John Lorber, a professor of pediatrics at University of Sheffield in England who had conducted a number of studies on individuals who were afflicted with hydrocephalus and came up with some remarkable findings. Lorber had subjected his patients to CAT scans and found that while most of them were mentally impaired, some, even when their brain filled no more than 5% of the cranial cavity led normal lives. In one documented case, a colleague referred a young man to Lorber because of his unusually large head which apparently was not causing him any difficulty. A CAT scan revealed a skull lined with about a millimeter thick layer of brain tissue and filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Of course the brain stem which sits at the bottom of the brain and connects to the spine was normal. Since it controls vital functions such as breathing, swallowing, digestion, eye movement and heartbeat, there can be no life without it. But the rest of the brain is obviously capable of some remarkable feats, with one part able to compensate for deficiencies in another. In the case of the young man who Lorber investigated, the thin layer of brain cells was certainly up to the task of providing the necessary brain power. The student had a high IQ of 126 and had a first class honours degree in mathematics.

    © Copyright Original Source


    We have already dispensed with the notion of "fully-functioning" brains so that's not relevant.

    But what you're saying is that if we were able to decapitate a person, keeping their head alive and brain active, then neither the head or the body would be a "person" with legal rights? That by virtue of decapitation -- even if the person's brain remains intact and fully operative -- strips the patient from her legal rights?

    That's directly at odds with your point about persons not needing "fully functioning" brains.

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  9. #1368
    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    This would be an ethical question but it's the wrong category of question.

    The argument is not merely that embryos and fetuses, up to a certain date of gestation, do not suffer. It's that they lack the neurological capacity for suffering and, indeed, sensation processing. That relates to the question of what is a "person" and at what point do human organisms gain and lose the rights afforded to all persons?

    We understand, for instance, that brain-dead patients do not have the rights afforded to persons -- at least not all of them. We understand that people who die do so slowly -- brain-death often precedes the death of other organs. We recognize, for the most part, that the life and health of a grown pregnant woman supersedes whatever rights are afforded to embryos and fetuses.

    So the question isn't whether an organism suffers when talking about its rights. The question involves (but is not limited to) whether an organism has sufficient neurological capacity for suffering.

    --Sam
    Likening a developing fetus to a brain dead person is stupid. Assuming a normal pregnancy, a fetus will inevitably develop brain function. It's all part of the human life cycle. A brain dead person, on the other hand, is extremely unlikely to get better.
    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
    Than a fool in the eyes of God


    From "Fools Gold" by Petra

  10. #1369
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    Likening a developing fetus to a brain dead person is stupid. Assuming a normal pregnancy, a fetus will inevitably develop brain function. It's all part of the human life cycle. A brain dead person, on the other hand, is extremely unlikely to get better.
    This is the argument that Sparko made and see above for my explanation concerning potentiality vs. actuality.

    --Sam
    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"


  11. #1370
    God, family, chicken! Bill the Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    We have already dispensed with the notion of "fully-functioning" brains so that's not relevant.
    Actually, it is quite relevant. I've stated pretty clearly that brain development is merely one in series of complex interrelated cells that have specified functions. 5% of a "normal functioning" brain was sufficient for that chap to live without intervention.

    But what you're saying is that if we were able to decapitate a person, keeping their head alive and brain active, then neither the head or the body would be a "person" with legal rights?
    Not independent of the rest. Again, artificially keeping a part of the organism able to respond to stimuli isn't "keeping it alive" in the sense that an embryo/fetus/infant is alive. Self-directed and uninterrupted growth and development is what it means to be alive. Not specification of function.

    That by virtue of decapitation -- even if the person's brain remains intact and fully operative -- strips the patient from her legal rights?
    Actually, yes. If anyone is kept artificially alive in ANY state, they lose the right to self-determination and are at the discretion of the doctor and next-of-kin. A brain can not communicate its desires or decisions.

    That's directly at odds with your point about persons not needing "fully functioning" brains.
    Not really. Again, an organ is only a PART of a self-contained and self-directed human organism. Embryologists and Biologists get that. This isn't rocket science. And when outlandish scenarios are introduced, you know their argument is nonsense.


    Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals --- Manya the Holy Szin --- The Quintara Marathon ---

    I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common --- Stephen R. Donaldson ---

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