I’m obliged to you for the concept of the “civil insult”. I’m sure it’ll be every bit as useful in discourse as philosophical “life”, the “parastitic embryo” and the “non-foetal foetus”.
If you did not understand my initial posisiton or my original message because of the words I used, you should have asked me for a clarification. That’s what I did
, Cnsqntlst. I suggested that you needed to explain what you meant by the various words you chose to use. How is that not asking for a clarification?
The only reason I had to make two arguments is because you attacked two unrelated statements I made in the original post.
Um, Cnsquntlst, when I said you were making two arguments I was talking about the “two unrelated statements” (your words, not mine) in your original post.
When you talk about “having to make” two arguments, the truth is that you chose to make two arguments in your original post. But you don't need to be defensive about that; I didn’t intend anything critical with my observation that you were making two arguments. I merely pointed out that you were doing so because I intended to address them separately. I don’t see anything wrong with your making two arguments in support of the same conclusion.
. . . and I say "No" there is not a tension between the two arguments.
. . . as to your, ahem, "quibble" with certain aspects of my choice of the word "Life" as prEviously defined, again I ask you to outline clear and concise problems you have with the choice.
Sure. You’re assigning to the word “life” a meaning which excludes the great bulk of living things. This is almost certain to cause confusion. It’s like saying that people from Sydney are not Australian because you define “Australian” to mean “born in Coober Pedy”. If you were going to use the word “Australian” in that sense, I think the rest of us would be entitled to observe (a) that you were using it in a confusing way, and (b) you would be wise to explain that sense before
you start employing the word.
Simlarly, when you tell us that, in the first eleven weeks of pregnancy, “life is not there” and that “I firmly know that life does not begin at conception”, we are smart enough to work out that, by “life” you clearly cannot mean, well, life. But you can hardly expect us to mysteriously divine what you do
mean, or accuse us of stupidity for failing to work out a meaning which you could not be bothered to explain. And, as mcfate has pointed out, you could at least have taken the trouble to chose a term whose common meaning bore some
relationship to the concept you actually intended.
And, on a side note, your reference to Tom and his "do unto others" is perfectly attractive, when others have the capacity to do unto you what has been done unto them. An aborted embryo cannot return the favor, nor can anyone "abort" you in retribution, so that little Golden Rule tidbit has no clear standing, to my understanding.
The Golden Rule is not, e.g., “do not do to Cnsquntlst what you would not like Cnsqntlst to do to you”; it’s “do not do to others
what you don’t want others
– not necessarily the same other - to do to you. Thus, the fact that a particular person is not in a position to kill you doesn’t mean that you can therefore kill him without infringing the Golden Rule. If the Golden Rule were as you suggest then I could cheerfully exploit and abuse the powerless and marginalised on the basis that, being powerless and marginalised, they were not in a position to abuse me.
If, therefore, the foetus has reached a stage of development where it has attained your concept of philosophical “life” and if, as your argument implies, moral significance is thereby to be attributed to it, the question arises as to whether it is now within the scope of such ethical precepts as the Golden Rule. And, if it is, killing is it problematic because, as you know, we generally don’t like to be killed ourselves.
However, maybe I should address the issue of "placing value in others" or "making others worth." It's their usefulness. What they can do for me and mine, either emotionally, physically, or mentally. Go back a few posts and read what I wrote. The blind man with friends who value his companionship, is useful to them, and so the blind man derives his worth, from them. And so on with the deaf the dumb and all other manner of human.
But why do we attribute any moral significance to his usefulness to others, if the people who whom he is useful have themselves no necessary moral significance? Is being useful to other people more morally significant than being useful to a beetle, or a tree, or an amoeba, or a pebble? Asserting that it does seems to assign an intrinsic moral significance to the person.
The decision of whether we ascribe value or worth to somebody IS WHOLLY ENTIRELY AND INESCAPABLY for us to make. Without reservation. The only thing left is to deal with the consequences of that decision. Hitler decided who had worth and acted accordingly, the world didn't like it and set out to put an end to his actions. Simple as that . . .
Well, that’s what the word “decision” means, I suppose. But you are ignoring the question of how
we make the decision. Do we arbitrarily decide that we will value the ability to speak French, but not the ability to speak German? I don’t think that’s how we perceive or experience this decision. We feel ourselves, not to be creating and assigning value, but to be discerning
the presence of value. Discernment is of course a subjective process, and so the decision is – as all decisions are – a subjective one. But that doesn’t mean that the value only exists when we think we discern it.
Or, to put it another way, suppose our friend Adolf over there decides that life is not “life” unless it is Gentile life. This is not a decision that either you or I would make. But can we offer any more forceful criticism of Adolf’s decision than “this is not a decision that we would make”?
And we go back to ascribing self-worth. Self-worth, to me anyway, is like self-confidence. Nobody but you cares about what you think of yourself . . .
And quite possibly nobody cares what I think of anyone else either. So why should what I think of anyone else create “worth” in a way that what I think of myself does not?
And why should what third parties care about have any role to play in creating “worth”? If their self-regard has no significance, why should their care have any?
As for the Freakonomics tidbit, imagine that the most prevalent case of abortion is when the mother is raped, or cannot afford to keep the child, for whatever reason. That leads us to assume that the mother is in a lower income situation. Lower income situations lead to higher instances of crime. Fewer individuals born (due to the fact they were aborted) leads to fewer individuals being raised in the lower income situation, leads to fewer individuals engaging in instances of crime, leading to a correlative drop in crime rate due to abortion legalization. At least, that's how I see it.
The Freakonomics tidbit, as you describe it, is a useful example of the limits of simplistic consquentialism. In fairness to the authors, it should be pointed out that at no stage do they suggest that, because abortion reduces future crime rates, therefore it is a good thing. Exactly the same crime reduction could be achieved not by aborting the children concerned, but by lining them up against a wall at the age of ten and shooting them. And yet nobody suggests that the anticipated crime reduction would justify such a measure. We cannot, therefore, justify an action as good merely by pointing to a good consequence of that action. Observing that abortion reduces crime rates, even if this is empirically supported, does not create a justification for abortion.