Friday, July 01, 2011

LIFE accuse Witney Town Council of ‘undisclosed agenda’

Further to His Grace’s post in which he disclosed that Witney Town Council had banned LIFE’s pro-life celebration, quite a few have emailed their objections to Witney Town Council (who appear not to have the courtesy even to acknowledge such communications), and the story has been picked up by the wider media. As a result, Witney Town Council have issued the following statement:

PRESS RELEASE

30th June 2011

For immediate use

Witney Town Council Statement – proposed LIFE Rally

The Town Council's reasons for refusing Life’s application to use the Leys are purely operational. This is reflected in the minutes of the Amenities committee on 8 November 2010 (available on our website). The Leys is primarily used for sports and recreation and is already oversubscribed by local teams.

The decision took into account the impact an event of the size envisioned by LIFE would have upon Witney. This considered traffic flow and parking within the town and other requirements, such as toilet facilities and access necessary to support a national event of this size.

The infrastructure of the Leys cannot support parking or facilities for 10,000 people (the figure presented by LIFE as possible for the event). As a national celebration of their 40th year it is reasonable to expect that attendees would gather from across the country.

The Council has a calendar of other regular annual events that are permitted such as the May Fair, Circus, the Witney Carnival and Witney Feast which has historic rights over the land. These events attract mostly locals from Witney and its surrounds and in much smaller numbers than those proposed by LIFE. Attendees of Witney Feast though possibly approaching a similar number are again, for the most part local and spread across two days.

Any additional event requests are carefully considered by Council on their own merits. At the same Amenities committee meeting, a request was made to hold a steam fair on the same site and this was also refused. The Committee at that time were concerned with over use of the facility, especially as winter weather conditions always take its toll on the pitches, leaving teams struggling to reschedule postponed matches and ground maintenance proving a problem to timetable around these late fixtures.

As an event like this would also need the consent of the West Oxfordshire District Council, LIFE were advised to speak to them to ensure they obtained the right licensing and that they sought their permission and advice.

The decision made by the Amenities committee in November would have been ratified by full council at its December meeting. Once the Council makes a decision it cannot overturn or reconsider this for 6 months unless four councillors put a special resolution to Council as set out in standing orders.

Sharon Groth, Town Clerk, commented;

“While it would be lovely to grant all the requests the council receives to use the Leys and other spaces for events, the Town Council's decision to turn down LIFE’S application to use the Leys was based on entirely practical concerns.

The committee took into account the unsuitability of the infrastructure of the Leys which is intended for sports and recreational use at a local level, to provide parking, access and facilities for a potential crowd of 10,000 people as suggested could be the case by LIFE.

The matter was given careful consideration by the Amenities committee and the decision made by them was later ratified by full council.”


ENDS

His Grace has quite a bit to say about this, but first he would like to publish LIFE’s response to this press statement. It comes from a Trustee who has received nothing but half a year of silence from Witney Town Council and has ‘been beating (her) head against a brick wall for months’ (quote from private correspondence):
We think the press statement issued today by the Witney Town Council is extremely bland. It says nothing of any real defence, and the Council does nothing to explain its total lack of response to any and all communications from LIFE following their refusal to grant permission in December.

On any scale this appears odd, while they appear to undermine their case completely by admitting they regularly give permission for other similar events to be held on the same ground, and for which they are happy to have numbers up to 10,000. If, as they maintain, potential numbers are a concern, we can only repeat LIFE's willingness, yet again, to co-operate to minimise disruption. We have already said we would be willing to cap the numbers at an agreed level, and make admission by ticket only, subject to prior registration. In light of all this, therefore, we are forced to conclude that the reasons put forth are less than transparent, and that there is some other, undisclosed, agenda at work.
His Grace has hyperlinked the Council’s statement to the two relevant sets of minutes, which clearly establish that Councillors Buckle, Adams, Eaglestone, Chapman, Mills and Curry were of the view on 8th November 2010:
...that the request from Rally for Life be refused as the Leys is unsuitable for the numbers of people expected to attend, due to lack of car parking and the fact that the sports areas will probably be required by the regular teams.
And, unsurprisingly, just three weeks later on 1st December, Councillors Mills, Adams and Eaglestone sat in judgment upon their own prior decision, along with their fellow councillors Dunn, Barton, Harvey, Churchill, King, Dorward and Knowles, and came to the same conclusion: LIFE are barred. The full Council minutes record no further discussion or consideration of the matter: it was clearly a rubber-stamping process.

The Council now seeks to mitigate potential allegations of discrimination by disclosing that the Amenities Committee also refused a request to hold a steam fair on the same site. Yet in that case, the Minutes clearly state that the Amenities Manager ‘confirmed that she had offered other sites and dates; however, these had been declined’.

No such offer was made to LIFE.

In fact, following the Council’s letter of rejection in December, LIFE tried to telephone the Council several times, but could never get through. They sent four emails and letters offering alternative dates (to avoid sports fixtures) with proposals to limit crowd numbers and encourage alternative modes of transport to minimise parking problems, but no response was ever received. On the only occasion a phone call succeeded in establishing communication with the Town Clerk's office, LIFE were told the Town Clerk was on extended holiday and wouldn't be back for around a month, during which time there was no one deputising for her. Numerous other attempts have been made by phone over the past six months to discuss the matter, all to no avail. LIFE have indeed been ‘beating their heads against a brick wall’.

What is clear is that Witney Town Council is ignorant in dealing with correspondence, rude in dealing with members of the public, and duplicitous in their official response on this matter. The charity have clearly attempted to address all of the practicalities, but no response has ever been received. And this Press Statement is the first time the Council have ever raised ‘toilet facilities’ as an objection. While many local people may indeed walk to the annual Witney Feast, presumably the 10,000 who attend that all excrete with approximately the same frequency as those who would attend LIFE’s celebration. The lack of toilet facilities is an absurd objection.

Whether this is a group of essentially ‘pro-choice’ councillors who were trying to somehow ‘guard' their MP by suppressing LIFE’s message is unknown. But the evidence rather suggests a clear case of discrimination on the grounds of philosophical belief, and so an infringement of the Equality Act 2010.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is binding on public authorities and provides for access to information about, and scrutiny of, the exercise of their functions. Moreover, the Convention protects freedom of expression on political issues and matters of public interest. Indeed, in the case of Wingrove v United Kingdom (25 November 1996) the court held that:
...there is little scope under Article 10(2) of the Convention for restrictions on political speech or on debate of questions of public interest.
His Grace suggests that LIFE commence legal proceedings forthwith. He will support them all the way. Unfortunately, the local taxpayers of Witney will end up footing the bill, but that is entirely the fault of Councillors Buckle, Adams, Eaglestone, Chapman, Mills and Curry. At the very least, Councillors Dunn, Barton, Harvey, Churchill, King, Dorward and Knowles should have properly scrutinised the decision of the Amenities Committee and asked their colleagues why the Steam Fair was offered alternative sites and dates while LIFE was summarily rejected. Are steam engines in Witney really worth more than unborn babies?

79 Comments:

Anonymous Greg Tingey said...

Why is a protestant archbishop, who was murdered by the RC church, supporting a vile RC-front organisation?

I think we should be told....

1 July 2011 at 08:30  
Anonymous Nick said...

While I would love for LIFE to be allowed to proceed, I think his Grace has not made his argument. Surely this is a case for Hanlon's Razor ("Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence"). Unless his Grace has extra evidence of discrimination that he hasn't presented.

1 July 2011 at 08:56  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

Anyone who has experienced the malignant officiousness of a local authority with an ulterior agenda will recognise what is happening. The blandness of the assertions and the style of the verbiage is sufficient evidence to an experienced target.

1 July 2011 at 09:30  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Amidst general rejoicing, the organisers thought it was in the bag when, having gone before ‘Amenities’, they were advised by the Town Clerk to obtain the relevant licences. All that was needed then was final sanction from the Council.

But according to the minutes:-

'4) that the request from Rally for Life be refused as the Leys is unsuitable for the numbers of people expected to attend, due to lack of car parking and the fact that the sports areas will probably be required by the regular teams.
Amenities Committee – 8 November 2010'


HG's statement seems to infer that the original application was granted by the Ameneties Committee when in fact and according to the minutes, the Committee's decision was to the contrary. I think it also shows an alarming degree of amaturism by LIFE to be seen as it were, counting their chickens before they hatched (Pardon the metaphor).

The fact that LIFE chose Witney to hold its jamboree still looks like a ploy to me, to engage with Cameron the local MP at a personal level and Cameron the PM at a political level. If they had been successful, no doubt the event would have attracted a large Pro-Choice element and who knows who else. The question of how many people would be likely attending is for me, the moot (and for the Council - politically convenient) point.

Seemingly the Witney Councillors and LIFE must think the general public are stupid; if they had a semblance of a streak of the honesty that one would wish to find in representatives of public bodies, they would have made a clean breast of their intentions at the outset.

This is all speculation on my part of course, but then so is YG's assertion that the matter is " a clear case of discrimination on the grounds of philosophical belief"

Having worked in local government the term 'philosophical beleifs' is not in my experience at least, one that I would readily assoiciate with the dimensions of the average local councillor.

Given that the Witney Council Conservatives hold 44 out of 49 seats I think that they have more than likely been instructed by Conservative 'head office' to close ranks around the PM rather than employ the product of their collective wisdom as HG rather generously assets.

1 July 2011 at 10:16  
Blogger James Reade said...

What I enjoy most about these posts on Witney's Town Council is the total absence of any broad general sweeping statements about how evil those on the left are, and socialists and the Labour party in particular, and the lack of character assassinations, because as the last commentator points out, Witney is Conservative. Oh the double standards...

1 July 2011 at 11:01  
Blogger prziloczek said...

...."and all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men......"

1 July 2011 at 12:27  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

"...how evil those on the left are ..." (James Reade, above). Those who support abortion/the abortion industry, either explicitly or clandestinely, and from whatever motive, are indeed very evil, and the fact that they might be Conservative or "Left-wing", Communists, capitalists, or any other, has nothing whatever to do with it.

1 July 2011 at 14:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Those who support abortion/the abortion industry, either explicitly or clandestinely, and from whatever motive, are indeed very evil [...]"

That'll be me.

Luckily, the religious don't get to define what is evil or not for the rest of us, much as they seem to want to. Sometimes on a bad day it seems like the best thing to do would be to box you lot up in an enclave and leave you to it while the rest of us happily get on with our lives.

1 July 2011 at 17:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"while the rest of us happily get on with our lives"

Aren't you the lucky one - you were given a life to get on with happily.

Pauline G

1 July 2011 at 17:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Pauline: "Aren't you the lucky one - you were given a life to get on with happily."

You're just rewording the main point of contention. The life developed to the point that it became an 'I'. Before then, the life was an 'it'. If the foetus that eventually became me was aborted, or perhaps naturally aborted, then there would be no 'I' that missed out.

One could bemoan all the times my father came home tired from work and didn't have sex with my mother thus missing the opportunity to create a zygote and denying that potential person at that moment in time a life. But most people don't of course.

1 July 2011 at 18:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danjo,

Sigh.

The fertilised egg is a living organism - a 'life'. That's simple scientific fact. As such it must be of a species. If it is created from the fertilisation of a human egg by a human sperm it must, of necessity, be of the same species - homo sapiens. That makes it, by definition, a human being. Not an 'it' but a 'he' or a 'she'. No amount of assertion to the contrary will change that simple, scientific truth.

A new human life is created from the moment of fertilisation - not before (not by your father's act in arriving home from work) and not after.

The failure to create a new human life is morally profoundly different from the destruction of a new human life once created.

Pauline G

1 July 2011 at 19:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The life developed to the point that it became an 'I'. Before then, the life was an 'it'."

What?!! What exactly are you saying here?

Really, DanJo, it's terribly simple:

Science and reason together tell us that human life begins at fertilisation. Not before, not after. From that moment this new life is not an 'it' but a 'he' or a 'she'. No amount of evidence-free and reason-free assertion to the contrary can change that simple truth.

There is a huge moral chasm between the failure to create a new human life and the destruction of a new human life once created.

1 July 2011 at 19:46  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Pauline: "Sigh."

Yes, dear.

"If it is created from the fertilisation of a human egg by a human sperm it must, of necessity, be of the same species - homo sapiens."

Sigh.

You're talking about DNA.

"A new human life is created from the moment of fertilisation - not before (not by your father's act in arriving home from work) and not after."

Sigh.

Yes dear. But that wasn't really my point.

"The failure to create a new human life is morally profoundly different from the destruction of a new human life once created."

Sigh.

Yes, it is.

1 July 2011 at 21:38  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Anonymous: "Really, DanJo, it's terribly simple:"

Terribly.

"Science and reason together tell us that human life begins at fertilisation. Not before, not after."

Correct! Terribly correct, even.

"From that moment this new life is not an 'it' but a 'he' or a 'she'."

Ah. Is that so, or does that happen at the blastocyst stage? No matter anyway, you're using gender pronouns to indicate sexual differentiation in the foetus but I reckon you're sneaking in something more personal there.

"No amount of evidence-free and reason-free assertion to the contrary can change that simple truth."

Yes, but you're missing the crucial point really: when does 'human life' become *a* human life like the life you or I have which have an equal ethical status i.e. the thing we're actually interested in after all the terribly simple scientific stuff is out of the way.

1 July 2011 at 21:50  
Anonymous tony b said...

I think the council makes a reasonable defence, and the objection that the statement is 'bland ' is really rather a silly one. Is that the best that LIFE could come up with? Interesting too that you can trot out the European Convention on Human Rights when it suits you. All the same, something doesn't quite add up.

2 July 2011 at 07:06  
Blogger len said...

Of course those in favour of Abortion have an agenda,first remove the 'offending object'whatever you decide to call'it'.
First(two firsts) make as much money out of the 'process' as you possibly can.
Everyone`s happy.Wait did we forget someone, or something?

2 July 2011 at 08:39  
Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

" ...LIFE were told the Town Clerk was on extended holiday and wouldn't be back for around a month, during which time there was no one deputising for her... "

So the work of the council comes to a grinding halt whilst a senior officer is on holiday? What a wonderful feat of organisation; it makes you proud to be a Tory.

2 July 2011 at 12:04  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

The life developed to the point that it became an 'I'. Before then, the life was an 'it'.

And so we see the implications of materialist dogma when set into law. This is not a scientific statement. It is not even a rational statement. It is simply an assertion of materialism. How is this different from embedding religious presuppossitons into law? It's not, except that materialists like it.

Where is the discrete dividing point between conception and birth that identifies the occurrence of this essential ontological change from 'it' to 'I?" The development of an unborn child is a continuum that admits no such division. 'Fetus' in fact describes a developmental state much like 'infant' or 'adult', an does not describe a different being from human. We make this assertion of ontological difference not on scientific grounds for there are no such grounds. We make this assertion not on rational grounds for that would require some scientific basis. Instead, we make this assertion on utilitarian grounds. Abortion is a very effective violent solution to many problems and people need some way to separate themselves from the child they are killing.

In truth, the humanity of the unborn child is completely incidental to the pro-abortion position. The true basis of their argument is the autonomy of the adult. They assert that parenthood must be a chosen obligation. If parenthood is not a chosen obligation, but is instead imposed against the will, then adults would have to concern themselves with the consequences of their sexual behavior. That would impact autonomy. To protect that autonomy, the child must be made subject to the possibility of death. Pro-abortion arguments would remain unchanged whether they admitted the humanity of the child or not.

In the meantime, we should make a list of other people who may be classified as 'it' and not 'I.' Even more intriguing. When does someone transition from an 'I' to an 'it?' When haven't even begun to investigate the full potential of shaping law according to materialist presuppositions about the nature of man.

But we will.

carl

2 July 2011 at 13:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Len: "Of course those in favour of Abortion have an agenda,first remove the 'offending object'whatever you decide to call'it'. First(two firsts) make as much money out of the 'process' as you possibly can."

Absolute bullshit from start to finish of course, but par for the course in your low level religious warfare Len. I have no specific agenda regarding abortion and I certainly make no money from my passive support of it. I ought to be insulted but, well, you're a Stephen Green wannabe and people laugh at him for his nonsense.

2 July 2011 at 15:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: " Instead, we make this assertion on utilitarian grounds. Abortion is a very effective violent solution to many problems and people need some way to separate themselves from the child they are killing."

Yes and no. I think the decision to abort is often made on utilitarian grounds but what you describe as an assertion is independent of that. Also, it it not a child in the way we normally use that word. I note your use of it and the likely reason for it.

"In the meantime, we should make a list of other people who may be classified as 'it' and not 'I.' Even more intriguing. When does someone transition from an 'I' to an 'it?'"

You're begging the question there by talking about the person before talking about 'it' and 'I'. That important point aside, your question doesn't really work at the other end of a life lived. The 'I' is instantiated, lives, and then ceases to be instantiated. Yet some core element of the 'I' remains in history. This is why there's a notion of the dead having some sort of rights beyond their death though, of course, they know almost certainly nothing about it afterwards.

"In truth, the humanity of the unborn child is completely incidental to the pro-abortion position."

That's a bit mangled, I think. Are you talking about DNA membership of species homo sapiens there? A zygote has that but a zygote is not a child, it's two cells at the start of the development of a child through to an adult.

I think there will be lots of 'pro-abortion positions' depending on the arguments which are underlying them. Under UK law, the ethical status of the foetus is a gradually developing thing. If a foetus is viable then its ethical status is much, much, much higher than that of a zygote.

At that point I think it is hard not to argue that it has human rights like you and me though there remains a potential for ethical dilemmas until the foetus is no longer dependent on its mother.

Hence, I think you are manifestly incorrect, at least in the UK, with your statement about the incidental humanity of a foetus at that stage of development. In fact, I'd say you're over-egging it to bolster your own position.

2 July 2011 at 15:40  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

"Under UK law, the ethical status of the foetus is a gradually developing thing. If a foetus is viable then its ethical status is much, much, much higher than that of a zygote."

Not true. Ethical status is independent of law. Slavery was once legal in the UK but was hardly ethical.

2 July 2011 at 19:32  
Blogger Edward Spalton said...

It is a remarkably illogical thing that an unborn person may be killed without mercy and yet that a born person can sue for damages suffered whilst in the womb and therefore not a person.

Still, an Act of Parliament has decided "Killing no murder" and the unborn person to be killed has to be made into a thing - a "foetus for termination" - just as Jews and others were sent for "special treatment".
Language used dishonestly is a powerful tool.

2 July 2011 at 19:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Crux: "Not true. Ethical status is independent of law. Slavery was once legal in the UK but was hardly ethical."

Is this a cross-Atlantic thing that you do this?

2 July 2011 at 21:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Edward: "Still, an Act of Parliament has decided "Killing no murder" and the unborn person to be killed has to be made into a thing - a "foetus for termination" - just as Jews and others were sent for "special treatment". Language used dishonestly is a powerful tool."

I notice you have asserted personhood for the foetus and gone on from there as though your assertion is uncontentious. Well, it is contentious and your trotting out of Jews is typical of the language some of the religious use to try to justify their religious views.

No matter how you wrap it up, the central point is the justification for a human right for zygotes onwards and that raises other issues, issues I might add that no religious person so far here has managed to tackle, preferring, it seems, to pretend they're not there in favour of talking emotionally about 'infantide'.

2 July 2011 at 21:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Just to clarify the UK law thing, the law defines three states: before and after 24 weeks in utero, and ex utero. The foetus in the second state has much protection than in the first state. The baby in the third state has full human rights.

The law provides for a defence, that is it makes it legal in some cases where otherwise it would be not, and therefore abortion is not just a free-for-all although I think myself that it is overused. This is the law codifying ethical status.

The overwhelming majority are carried out in the first trimester. Almost all are carried out before 21 weeks. At 24 weeks, about 50% survive out of the womb. At 23 weeks, it drops to 20-35%. At 21 weeks, pretty much none survive. There are risks of ongoing disability even at 24 weeks.

For a foetus which is not viable, its ethical status is relies in part on its dependency on its mother who has full human rights and a host of other ethical considerations to boot. If the foetus also has full human rights then we enter a world of potential dilemmas and these are the ones the religious don't seem to like talking about.

2 July 2011 at 21:58  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

DanJ0 said..."The central point is the justification for a human right for zygotes onwards"

This justification hinges on the non existence of a clear point in a continuous process at which rights to personhood are suddenly acquired. You keep mentioning the so called "point of foetal viability". This is not a well defined term. The type of contradiction inherent in any definition of viability is of a similar nature to that apparent in this debate between Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and the leading opponent, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.) —which you have previously dismissed out of hand on the spurious grounds that it concerns "American" politics. Morals may be local but Ethics is universal.

2 July 2011 at 22:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Crux: "This justification hinges on the non existence of a clear point in a continuous process at which rights to personhood are suddenly acquired."

The clear point at which human rights are acquired is when the foetus is an independent being. For the rest, you're thinking like a religionist, requiring absolute and objective morality to run your life. Unfortunately, life is not like that for the rest of us as the ethical dilemmas I post show. Therefore, we use ethics in formal situations to set out the blacks and whites and the greys are tackled when necessary on the issues of the day.

Your link? I dismiss it because it is about partial birth abortions. If you have an argument that is relevant to the UK then make it yourself. I write you off because you can't be arsed for the most part to make arguments yourself, preferring to post link after link from your American Catholic abortion scrapbook, often containing long and irrelevant material, which we are expected to read each time and glean what we can from them. Yet you won't even reveal your moral workings in real world ethical dilemmas.

2 July 2011 at 22:27  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

DanJ0 said...
You know, I think I'll repost this again to highlight your refusal to answer or even acknowledge it:
"If the woman's life is threatened by her continued pregnancy and the foetus is not viable at that point then who 'gets it' if it comes down to it: the woman or the foetus? I'm thinking of, say, a course of chemotherapy to treat her cancer here. If both have a human right to life in its simplest form then how is the dilemma resolved?"


You are putting the cart before the horse. Since you do not, and will not, accept that the humanity of the foetus is comparable to that of the mother, this, as you admit, is not even a dilemma for you. Therefore, I must conclude that your principal motivation in repeatedly parroting this issue is to score debating points —as if the truth or falsehood of any proposition, or the solution of ethical dilemmas, were, in any way, dependent on the mere verbal agility of two random bloggers, who are evidently not philosophers. For those of us who believe in the full humanity of a foetus, this so called dilemma has been very well discussed elsewhere and so there is little point in me repeating the standard arguments. If you were really interested, you would look them up for yourself. See, for example "The Ethics of Abortion" by Christopher Kaczor and "Politically Correct Death" by Francis J. Beckwith.

2 July 2011 at 22:42  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said ... "Your link? I dismiss it because it is about partial birth abortions."

The type of contradiction inherent in any definition of viability is of a similar nature to that apparent in this debate about partial birth abortions. In reality , you dismiss it because it reveals, very clearly, the flaws in your logic.

2 July 2011 at 22:50  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Firstly, we are hardly breaking new ground here debating abortion so spare me your avoidance tactics as though all of us are not just personalising much discussed issues.

As for carts and horses, the dilemma exists and we have a solution for it in the real world. You know full well what that is and you are not happy with it. I raise it to show potential inconsistencies in your, usually implied, arguments which I think we can pretty safely assume are Catholic for Catholic-religious reasons.

Your position is revealed yet again: it appears you won't commit yourself to your solutions to these real world dilemmas. I invite people here to consider why that might be.

2 July 2011 at 22:53  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Crux: "In reality , you dismiss it because it reveals, very clearly, the flaws in your logic."

Nope. You make assumptions, American-oriented Catholic assumptions I expect, about how my arguments are constructed. It all hinges on the meanings of personhood, the construct of human rights, the reason for the construct, and how we deal with medical issues in terms of ethics. I have alluded to these things many times. I think I can make assumptions about yours since they're bog-standard, fed in with a bottle from birth, Catholic. As ever with debates about morality, it is the detail of the terms and concepts that matter. So, does the chemo-requiring mother get it, or does the foetus?

2 July 2011 at 22:59  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said ..."preferring to post link after link from your American Catholic abortion scrapbook"

Actually, the most of the content of my site is related to mathematics. It also contains mathematical refutations of certain arguments in favor of AGW. However, this link probably applies to this discussion.

2 July 2011 at 23:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

STILL NO ANSWER! LOTS OF AVOIDANCE!

:)

2 July 2011 at 23:05  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

If the woman's life is threatened by her continued pregnancy and the foetus is not viable at that point then... etc, etc, etc.

If the mother dies, then the child dies as well. Therefore, if the life of the mother is actually at stake, and the child cannot be saved, then the child must be sacrificed for the sake of the mother's life - assuming that this is the desire of the woman herself. This might effected by abortion as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. It might be the natural result of medication given to save the mother's life as in the case of chemotherapy. This the sole legitimate cause for performing an abortion. Yes, I know there are RCs who disagree with this argument. I have argued with them about it. Happily, I am not Roman Catholic.

A zygote has that but a zygote is not a child, it's two cells at the start of the development of a child through to an adult.

According to who? You? This is nothing but an inference from your materialist presuppositions about the nature of man. It is not objective truth. It presumes that man is nothing but the sum total of cells in his body. It therefore infers a 'human being' must obtain some unspecified level of development before it can properly be considered human. Why? Does some ontological change occur at some point between conception and birth? No, we exist a continuum from conception to death.

Then why this arbitrary boundary of 'viability' at which you say rights suddenly attach? It has nothing to do with the ontology of the child. Indeed a child two minutes before 'viability' is ontologically indistinguishable for a child two minutes after 'viability.' It doesn't depend upon the being of the child at all. It simply guards the autonomy of the adults.

"Every child a wanted child" is a euphemism for "No parent a parent by obligation." The boundary exists to establish a legal decision point for the revocability of the responsibilities of parenthood. The law needs some point at which it can presume "You have by implication accepted the responsibility of parenthood because you have let the pregnancy progress to this point. The logic of abortion demands this. And it's why the boundary is so arbitrary. It can be set anywhere, just so long as it is consistently enforced.

You're begging the question there by talking about the person before talking about 'it' and 'I'. That important point aside, your question doesn't really work at the other end of a life lived.

It works quite well when deciding when a life should be ended. If a human begin must achieve some level of development to be considered human, then it makes perfect sense to say that a human being is no longer a human being in the absence of that development. This is the danger in your logic. You think you can control its application. You won't be able to do so.

The 'I' is instantiated, lives, and then ceases to be instantiated. Yet some core element of the 'I' remains in history.

I wonder what you would do with live-birth abortions. A child is "instantiated", lives, and then is strangled by the abortionist as it struggles to live for the crime of being born alive. Nothing so much as this illustrates the true nature of abortion.

carl

3 July 2011 at 00:25  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

I hope this is not a double post. I waited several minutes to see my comment appear, and eventually decided it had been eaten by the ether. "Once more into the breach, for England, Harry and St. George."

DanJ0

If the woman's life is threatened by her continued pregnancy and the foetus is not viable at that point then... etc, etc, etc.

If the mother dies, then the child dies as well. Therefore, if the life of the mother is actually at stake, and the child cannot be saved, then the child must be sacrificed for the sake of the mother's life - assuming that this is the desire of the woman herself. This might effected by abortion as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. It might be the natural result of medication given to save the mother's life as in the case of chemotherapy. This the sole legitimate cause for performing an abortion. Yes, I know there are RCs who disagree with this argument. I have argued with them about it. Happily, I am not Roman Catholic.

A zygote has that but a zygote is not a child, it's two cells at the start of the development of a child through to an adult.

According to who? You? This is nothing but an inference from your materialist presuppositions about the nature of man. It is not objective truth. It presumes that man is nothing but the sum total of cells in his body. It therefore infers a 'human being' must obtain some unspecified level of development before it can properly be considered human. Why? Does some ontological change occur at some point between conception and birth? No, we exist a continuum from conception to death.

Then why this arbitrary boundary of 'viability' at which you say rights suddenly attach? It has nothing to do with the ontology of the child. Indeed a child two minutes before 'viability' is ontologically indistinguishable for a child two minutes after 'viability.' It doesn't depend upon the being of the child at all. It simply guards the autonomy of the adults.

"Every child a wanted child" is a euphemism for "No parent a parent by obligation." The boundary exists to establish a legal decision point for the revocability of the responsibilities of parenthood. The law needs some point at which it can presume "You have by implication accepted the responsibility of parenthood because you have let the pregnancy progress to this point. The logic of abortion demands this. And it's why the boundary is so arbitrary. It can be set anywhere, just so long as it is consistently enforced.

You're begging the question there by talking about the person before talking about 'it' and 'I'. That important point aside, your question doesn't really work at the other end of a life lived.

It works quite well when deciding when a life should be ended. If a human begin must achieve some level of development to be considered human, then it makes perfect sense to say that a human being is no longer a human being in the absence of that development. This is the danger in your logic. You think you can control its application. You won't be able to do so.

The 'I' is instantiated, lives, and then ceases to be instantiated. Yet some core element of the 'I' remains in history.

I wonder what you would do with live-birth abortions. A child is "instantiated", lives, and then is strangled by the doctor as it struggles to live for the crime of being born alive. Nothing so much as this illustrates the true nature of abortion.

carl

3 July 2011 at 00:45  
Anonymous Idzik said...

Good for you for sticking up for this.

Maybe we could rebrand it as a gay rights event (adoption of unborn children subsection).

I predict the council's shoes would catch fire from the speed of their retreat.

4 July 2011 at 00:14  
Anonymous Paleo said...

Danjo - Bore off. You want to kill babies, then you are evil; and, of course, ultimately will answer for this.

4 July 2011 at 09:09  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Paleo: "Danjo - Bore off. You want to kill babies, then you are evil; and, of course, ultimately will answer for this."

A masterful response, full of wit and considered argument. I've crumbled in the face of it. Well done, you.

4 July 2011 at 11:18  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Carl: "If the mother dies, then the child dies as well."

Ah, that's not quite the dilemma. It's that the woman lives to give birth but dies afterwards through not having the chemo at the right time. All of these things are there to test whether the foetus has a human right to live in the same way that you and I do.

I think we need to be quite careful here to distinguish between human rights in the social contract sense and human rights in the moral sense as they're often used interchangeably. For someone like me, human rights follow from our values so the two are heavily linked.

"According to who? You? This is nothing but an inference from your materialist presuppositions about the nature of man. It is not objective truth."

What's an objective truth (as D Singh might say)? The term 'child' is a conceptual or descriptive thing. I'm using the term in the typical sense but I recognise that others, usually the religious, use it to mean something else. That something else follows on from their religious beliefs, beliefs which form part of a counter-intuitive religious paradigm to most people I should add.

We could of course compare your use of the term 'child' to describe a zygote with the use of the term 'fertilised egg' to describe a fertilised hen's egg. We don't call a fertilised egg a 'chicken' or confuse it with a chicken. As most people know, it's something different.

"It presumes that man is nothing but the sum total of cells in his body."

Nope, that's not true at all. You're ignoring consciousness for starters. Consciousness is almost everything here. It wouldn't be too far off to say that we are fundamentally our own minds.

"It therefore infers a 'human being' must obtain some unspecified level of development before it can properly be considered human."

You struggle with this, I think. You can't get the ordering right. Or is it just the language you use? We are more than our DNA. The two gametes which fuse provide the DNA to create the body from which the mind ensues if all goes well. The mind requires a brain, and particular parts of the brain, as far as we know. At the other end of our lives, when the mind has gone then the 'I' has gone and we revert back to a collection of cells containing DNA, albeit also with value attached to what we were as far as our families and friends are concerned. We can sometimes keep bodies alive when the mind has gone but most people accept that this is pointless.

[contd]

4 July 2011 at 12:36  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

[...]

"Then why this arbitrary boundary of 'viability' at which you say rights suddenly attach?"

I dare say we have slightly different views or concepts about rights here. For me, rights are quite complex social constructs which have component parts which make claims on others. We can see the complexity of them when we look at issues of self-defence and capital punishment. It's a descriptive convenience when we use 'a right to life'.

Viability is important because it potentially allows for the interests of the foetus and the interests of the mother to be separated. It's an ethical boundary i.e. a practical one. Medical ethics are nothing if not practical.

You know, I have been banging on about those ethical dilemmas to illustrate a point aside from the paucity of Crux's position and his actual lack of confidence in his own position. In the second dilemma, one can pull a level to change the points on a railway to sacrifice one person to save five. Most people intuitively think the numbers count. And perhaps they do. But almost everyone would refuse to kidnap one person walking down the street to harvest organs to save five others. Most people are appalled by the idea. People then rethink their answers to the first dilemma ... until you bump up the numbers to 1000. Or 100,000. And the numbers seem to count again. Or not. Suddenly the 'right to life' is not quite the solid thing it seems.

"I wonder what you would do with live-birth abortions. A child is "instantiated", lives, and then is strangled by the doctor as it struggles to live for the crime of being born alive. Nothing so much as this illustrates the true nature of abortion."

You know this doesn't happen in the UK except perhaps in an acute medical emergency ... and that in itself is telling. This is one reason why I refuse to get involved in the American debate, or faux-debate, about it.

I'll offer up something else since I doubt Crux will ever fess up with his actual moral workings unless I do. No doubt he'll be in like a shot after I do. And he can cock off if he does.

Here it is: once a foetus gets enough of a brain to have a mind, I don't think it can be aborted without moral damage being done. That is, I think it ought to have a moral right to life even if in practical terms we might sacrifice it for the mother's right to life. Practically, it doesn't get the social construct version until it is separate from the mother because ethics are about 'going on in life' and that is a practical thing.

Bear in mind here that I do not think there is a single moral code exists to find and I expect moral dilemmas to occur where there is no correct moral answer and where there may be moral residues which cannot be satisfied. This is why I don't think I am bound by the partial birth abortion thing in the way I expect some people believe.

4 July 2011 at 12:37  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

In short, and when I think carefully about it, that means I don't think third trimester abortions, or even abortions after 24 weeks, can really be morally justified except to save the life of the mother, and viability ought to help in almost all cases which at least gives the foetus a chance. If the foetus is severely disabled, but not anencephalic, then I think it must be born anyway. In that case, I think the State ought to be prepared to step in if the parents are unwilling or unable to cope with the resulting baby. This covers and avoids the other justification of the UK law for later-term abortions.

4 July 2011 at 12:48  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BEQNEDICTI said...

Danj0 said: " A zygote... it's two cells."

A zygote is more than the "sum of two gametes" It is not two cells. You appeal frequently to you own authority on biological and other matters but your statements indicate a lack of scientific credentials.

4 July 2011 at 13:25  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

DanJ0 said..."I don't think third trimester abortions, or even abortions after 24 weeks, can really be morally justified except to save the life of the mother, and viability ought to help in almost all cases..."

Therefore, implicitly you think that abortions before 24 weeks can be justified. You say that:

""viability ought to help in almost all cases which at least gives the foetus a chance."

How can viability help when it is not a well defined concept? Apart from being scientifically ill defined, it has, as Carl noted, nothing to do with the ontology of the child.

DanJ0 said..." which at least gives the foetus a chance. "

i.e. you are advocating playing Russian roulette with the life of the unborn child when the mere passing of time would be sufficient to ensure his survival. The word callous comes to mind.

4 July 2011 at 13:52  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Ah, that's not quite the dilemma. It's that the woman lives to give birth but dies afterwards through not having the chemo at the right time.

I don't see the difference. If not getting chemotherapy means she would die as a result, then she can receive chemotherapy. Is your dilemma "If I give you the chemo now, you will live but the baby will die. If I don't give you chemo now, you will die eventually but the baby will live." As I said above, the mother can take steps to guard her own life. That is the mother's choice. But I will mention that you are juxtaposing a medical expectation (mother's potential death from cancer) with a medical fact (child's inevitable death from chemo). Medical expectations are random variables with large variations.

You know this doesn't happen in the UK except perhaps in an acute medical emergency ... and that in itself is telling. This is one reason why I refuse to get involved in the American debate, or faux-debate, about it.

I am not sure what the 'American debate' has to do with the subject. I wasn't talking about partial birth abortion. I was talking about older abortion techniques that did not kill as efficiently, and sometimes resulted not in abortion but live birth. There are a handful of people walking around this planet who are abortion survivors. Those children were typically killed by the staff who performed the abortion. Change only one thing, and medical staff would have moved heaven and earth to save the child. What is that one thing? It is the desire of the mother for the child. So we see that life or death depends not on the ontology of the child but on the will of the mother. We see that the child was alive because he had to be killed after the failed abortion. And we see that he is independent because he was struggling to live on his own when he was strangled.

This knowledge is applicable to all human beings. It does not matter the source of the information. Saying "That doesn't happen in the UK" doesn't address the fact that the information gained is directly applicable in the UK and everywhere else. This is your ethical dilemma to answer. I made a good faith effort to answer the one you posed to us. Please reciprocate by answering mine. What is a doctor to do with a child born alive from (say) a saline abortion? If he strangles the child on the table, has he committed the crime of murder? If yes, then what was the abortion? If no, then what does this do to the finely-crafted materialist ethical system you developed above?

Or is it just one of those moral dilemmas "where there is no correct moral answer and where there may be moral residues which cannot be satisfied." It surprises me that you do not comprehend the vast amounts of space you provide for one person to use the life of another for personal gain.

carl

4 July 2011 at 14:02  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Crux, I don't feel obliged to answer you given your lack of engagement elsewhere. Sort out your own crap position before you think you can question mine with any credibility.

4 July 2011 at 14:18  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

In a previous thread, DanJ0 said..."One of the links is a snippet of testimony from a senator in what may be the American equivalent of a Select Committee. It's to do with an argument, probably well known in America given it's subject to law there, about partial birth abortion. In the absence of a context here, it's pointless to wave it around with a flourish."

Dan: You are dissembling. The link is an exchange between two persons, and not a testimony by one. Nor is the location of the debate relevant from an ethical standpoint. Ethics is universal.

It is feigning ignorance to claim that:

"In the absence of a context here, it's pointless to wave it around with a flourish."

I think it is obvious to anyone that a clear analogy follows by replacing everywhere in this exchange the moment of birth by the "point" of viability. I leave this as an exercise to the reader.

4 July 2011 at 14:19  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Not interested, Pennance. You're a busted flush with your repeated avoidance of the difficult problems for you. Why should I bother with you when you just hold onto the coattails of someone else?

4 July 2011 at 14:31  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

DanJ0 said..." You're a busted flush..Why should I bother with you?"

If debating with someone winds you up to the point at which you feel a need to denigrate them, then you probably should not. It is bad for the soul. In any case "truth" is not about "me" and "you".


"Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. Others seek knowledge that they may themselves be known: that is vanity. But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others, and that is charity." —St. Bernard of Clairvaux

4 July 2011 at 15:38  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Pennance, I justifiably denigrate you, and will continue to do so when you reply to my comments on this topic, for your sustained and repeated avoidance of the issues you appear to find so difficult.

Perhaps when you sort yourself out, if that's actually possible given your position, you can add an associated entry to your scrapbook. That'd be nice.

4 July 2011 at 16:03  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

A couple of points.

1. I have experienced considerable lag regarding when posts appear on this thread which I assume is some insidious British plot against Americans. Please be patient with responses.

2. If I am the one with the alleged coattails, then let me explicitly repudiate that contention. I have appreciated the posts and support of CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI. I did not answer your question because I felt he was unable to provide an answer. I answered because 1) I didn't consider it either much of a dilemma or all that difficult to answer and 2) because I felt you were hiding behind it.

carl

4 July 2011 at 16:41  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said: "A zygote... it's two cells."

A zygote is more than the "sum of two gametes" It is not two cells. You appeal frequently to you own authority on biological and other matters but your statements indicate a lack of scientific credentials.

Danj0 said: "Crux, I don't feel obliged to answer you... "

It makes no sense for me to discuss, with you, logical dilemmas, whose solution involves recognition of the humanity of the unborn, when you cannot even acknowledge elementary scientific errors concerning the zygote. If the full human rights of the unborn are not recognized there is no "dilemma".


Danj0 said: "and I refuse to get involved in the American debate, or faux-debate "

And why are you so anxious to avoid what you call the "American" debate?

Danj0 said: "I justifiably denigrate you, and will continue to do"

A redundant comment given that most of your comments on this blog involve ad hominem.

4 July 2011 at 17:07  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

This is the difference between us.

That something else follows on from their religious beliefs, beliefs which form part of a counter-intuitive religious paradigm to most people I should add.

You assume in your argument that your materialist understanding of life is the natural understanding and that my (allegedly irrational) religious beliefs are simply glued on top. Your understanding of the nature of man is founded in presupposition just as much as mine. Your argument is founded on belief exactly like mine. The assertion that your beliefs are more rational because they are materialist is nothing more than an assertion that your worldview is true.

I said that you must believe a man is just the sum of his cells, and you immediately appealed to the mind. In your worldview there is nothing but the brain cells of man to account for the mind. You cannot postulate a transcendent explanation because you deny the existence of the transcendent. So my claim stands. In fact, you affirmed it by saying a mind must exist before there could be an 'I.' What is it besides the brain that is developing so that a mind may exist? Or I could just quote you:

once a foetus gets enough of a brain to have a mind, I don't think it can be aborted without moral damage being done.

It's an important question since you can neither define the mind nor hope to provide an explanation for the connection of brain and mind. You have no idea what the mind is and yet you would use it as a marker of humanity.

Viability is important because it potentially allows for the interests of the foetus and the interests of the mother to be separated.

I think we agree here. I said "The boundary exists to establish a legal decision point for the revocability of the responsibilities of parenthood." These concepts seem identical to me. However, your assertion though correct does not address the moral issue of the arbitrary nature of the boundary. That boundary could consistently be set two months after birth if so desired, and indeed there are people on your side of the argument who think that an appropriate idea.
You are defining a man not according to some intrinsic quality in the man but rather according to his ability to interact with the world around him. This has profound implications for every man since it makes any man is vulnerable to being redefined out of existence. Powerful interested parties will always have interests in the death of other people.

carl

4 July 2011 at 17:16  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

DanJ0 said..." you can add an associated entry to your scrapbook."

All flimsy were ye sophistries;

4 July 2011 at 17:33  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "You assume in your argument that your materialist understanding of life is the natural understanding and that my (allegedly irrational) religious beliefs are simply glued on top."

Not on top, no. Instead of. I have an understanding of our reality which is nominally a materialist one in the absence of anything else. I remain to be convinced of any other one. I am very often assigned positions here that I do not hold. I don't believe in materialism, it's a working assumption. It suits others to make it a certainty for me so they can argue it down.

"I said that you must believe a man is just the sum of his cells, and you immediately appealed to the mind. In your worldview there is nothing but the brain cells of man to account for the mind."

Yes. I have repeatedly explained why here in the past. There may be a number of alternative dualist explanations but one has to lay lots of speculative stepping stones to get there. Why should we? As ever, we have to go on in life and we are better off using what we know (acknowledging the contingent nature of knowledge in our reality) than making stuff up I think.

"It's an important question since you can neither define the mind nor hope to provide an explanation for the connection of brain and mind. You have no idea what the mind is and yet you would use it as a marker of humanity."

Yes. But all is not lost. Afterall, we think we know when people are dead. Also, I know what a mind is as I'm using it to formulate thoughts which I am typing here. I experience it. That's not to be easily dismissed.

Here's a thing. When you get drunk, you mind is affected. When you take drugs your mind is affected. When you suffer brain trauma, you mind may be affected for good. When the hemispheres of your brain are separated it is likely you will not be able to make a decision. We can watch brain activity from the outside and see regions consistenly 'light up' to match thoughts. Alzheimers affects the brain and the mind is affected too. You can physically see the differences in the brain between an Alzheimers sufferer and someone without it.

Tell me, is it really sensible to say that the brain and the mind are not linked even if we don't know how the public brain creates the private mind? Yes, they could be linked by (say) the pineal gland in some way but that creates its own Descartes-like problems.

[contd]

4 July 2011 at 18:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"You are defining a man not according to some intrinsic quality in the man but rather according to his ability to interact with the world around him. This has profound implications for every man since it makes any man is vulnerable to being redefined out of existence."

You talked about the ontology of the child earlier. Well, the mind is what I think defines us as people. It's wrapped up in the concept of identity over and above what our individual sets of DNA provide. Afterall, twins are separate individuals.

Why do people despair when a family member starts to develop Alzheimers disease? The identity changes and identity is what makes us who we are. We are each an 'I'. That something which is our essence raises all sorts of issues. We base our notion of punishment (in our perceived reality) on it even after decades have passed since the crime. Our physical cells may all have changed in the meantime but something remains constant throughout. I say mind, you will probably say soul or spirit. The difference between us is that we can all understand what having a mind means, we need your man-made bible to explain what a soul or spirit is and even then it is a religious 'mystery'.

4 July 2011 at 18:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"This has profound implications for every man since it makes any man is vulnerable to being redefined out of existence."

But it doesn't, really, does it? All this is held in place by social convention, whether in your (in my opinion: made up) religious worldview or a more secular one. We're nominally vulnerable in each. We don't just randomly decide these things, they develop over time in the context of a society and they have grounding points in our human nature.

4 July 2011 at 18:17  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"I have appreciated the posts and support of CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI."

Oh god, you're not him too I hope. He went through a phase of posting comments one after another under different names recently. I really cannae be arsed with that sort of stuff. But anyway, I don't need the support of anyone else, I'm confident of my arguments when compared to religious ones. You ought to fly by yourself if you think you have a strong position.

4 July 2011 at 18:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "I don't see the difference. If not getting chemotherapy means she would die as a result, then she can receive chemotherapy. Is your dilemma "If I give you the chemo now, you will live but the baby will die. If I don't give you chemo now, you will die eventually but the baby will live." As I said above, the mother can take steps to guard her own life. That is the mother's choice."

It looks like I'll be writing dozens of posts at this rate! So, you're saying what exactly with the guarding of her own life? It's hardly self-defence as the foetus is causing no harm other than being in the way. Surely the doctor is obliged to intervene to protect the equal right to life of the foetus if it has one? If I needed a new kidney to live then I can hardly go out and steal one from someone unfortunate enough to be passing by just so I can live. The foetus has not consented to be sacrificed.

4 July 2011 at 18:39  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

Oh god, you're not him too I hope.

No, I just didn't appreciate being used as a Cat's Paw to insult someone else. I felt obligated to comment lest my silence be construed as agreement.

You ought to fly by yourself if you think you have a strong position.

Heh. To quote the famous actor "He don't know me very well, do he."

carl

4 July 2011 at 18:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "What is a doctor to do with a child born alive from (say) a saline abortion? If he strangles the child on the table, has he committed the crime of murder? If yes, then what was the abortion?"

Yes, depending on the age of the foetus he has committed murder I'd say. It must have been after 21 weeks otherwise he could just let the foetus die of natural causes. If the foetus is between 21 and 24 weeks then with a raft of medical intervention it has a small chance of survival outside of the womb though there is a risk of a disability developing. It's the respiratory system, you see, it's not properly developed. Since the baby is not getting umblical cord stuff then there's potential for problems. The brain is still very much developing at this point and I don't think the conditions are yet there for a mind. At about 24 weeks, the neurones are reaching the cortex and we're beginning the stage of rapid brain development. I think this is one reason why the 24 week limit is set in the UK. I have already talked about late term abortions for severe disability reasons.

4 July 2011 at 19:12  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

You have postulated the following scenario:

The doctor says "I must start chemotherapy now. If you wait until you give birth, you will die."

The doctor cannot guarantee death, of course. Predictions of this sort can be wrong. But let's grant your premise and assume the doctor is right. You can't compel person A to die for the sake of person B. Sort of like you can't compel person A to sacrifice a kidney for person B. The only reason that the child is involved is because he depends upon his mother to live. So the mother can make the choice. She can assume the risk, or she can choose to save her life.

Or perhaps I should revise that 'kidney' comment. If I can legally re-define a person as a non-person, then I can seize his kidney - and his heart and lungs and liver and eyes as well. I can even make a nice tidy profit in the process. Rich people will pay good money to replace defective organs, you know.

carl

4 July 2011 at 19:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"You can't compel person A to die for the sake of person B. Sort of like you can't compel person A to sacrifice a kidney for person B. The only reason that the child is involved is because he depends upon his mother to live. So the mother can make the choice. She can assume the risk, or she can choose to save her life."

Yes, the foetus is involved in the dilemma because it is wholly dependent on the mother. Yes, you can't compel the mother to choose to sacrifice herself to save the foetus. The foetus cannot consent and therefore someone must act in its interests if it has an equal right to life. The right makes a claim on others. But you seem to be ignoring that. That is why it is a highly relevant ethical dilemma. It is similar to the railway dilemma with the lever: someone has to die and if the rights to life are equal then it should probably [1] be the mother because that is the unacted-upon course of events and she needs to be compelled to do so. Of course, most people wouldn't accept that I reckon and the horns of the dilemma are revealed.

[1] Unless we (say) decided that the obligations to her other children tip the scales, or use some other utilitarian calculus to decide, in which case the right to life is undermined in some way or other.

4 July 2011 at 19:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Back to the mind-brain thing. How do you account for brain-trauma affecting personality?

Are you envisaging a sort of dual layering thingy where the mind hovers about in the womb awaiting for the forebrain of the foetus develops?

What about language which is apparently a function of the forebrain? We seem to learn language and I dare say we need language to think complex thoughts.

4 July 2011 at 19:52  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

Hrmmm. I wonder if this will work...

5 July 2011 at 14:51  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said ... " I have an understanding of our reality which is nominally a materialist one in the absence of anything else. I don't believe in materialism, it's a working assumption. It suits others to make it a certainty for me so they can argue it down."

Is there any practical distinction? How can one argue something with you if you choose, on a whim, to make it a "working assumption" when challenged. Materialism can be challenged, whether or not you believe in it or merely hold it, tentatively, as a "working assumption". You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. Maybe your atheism also a working assumption :)

Danj0 said ... (citing Carl's comment: "It's an important question since you can neither define the mind nor hope to provide an explanation for the connection of brain and mind. You have no idea what the mind is and yet you would use it as a marker of humanity."
"we think we know when people are dead."

No, "we" don't even know this --See for example the article "Brain Death"—The Hoax That Won't Die

Danj0 said ... "Also, I know what a mind is as I'm using it to formulate thoughts which I am typing here. I experience it."

You certainly experiencing typing and you evidently think. However, since the mind is not clearly defined, it does not seem to make sense to say you know what the mind "is".

Danj0 said ... "We can watch brain activity from the outside and see regions consistently 'light up' to match thoughts."

You are limiting yourself to a non quantal models of reality. At the level of non classical physics matter behaves holistically and interactions are non-local. You use of the term "light up" implies a current flow. Even, classically, current is spatially distributed, perhaps reaching many regions of the brain and body. Thus, what is "lit up" is does not yield an understanding of the process. For example, which parts of the brain "lights up" to indicate such things as free will, intentionality?

Danj0 said ... (in answer to Carl's question: "Tell me, is it really sensible to say that the brain and the mind are not linked even if we don't know how the public brain creates the private mind? )
"Yes, they could be linked by (say) the pineal gland"

In light of the above stated problems of holism and the lack of a precise definition of the mind, this statment makes no sense to me.

Danj0 said ... " Well, the mind is what I think defines us as people."

I think your definition of personhood, and corresponding defense of abortion, rests on a very shaky foundation.

5 July 2011 at 15:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I guess you are losing messages. I think that happens sometimes if you are using a company proxy. But anyway, I was thinking about what you wrote:

"You can't compel person A to die for the sake of person B. Sort of like you can't compel person A to sacrifice a kidney for person B. The only reason that the child is involved is because he depends upon his mother to live. So the mother can make the choice. She can assume the risk, or she can choose to save her life."

and when I squint it the kidney point looks quite similar to the sort of utilitarian argument someone might actually use in favour of allowing abortion.

5 July 2011 at 17:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Pennance, I don't give a shit about your comments. The time has passed.

5 July 2011 at 17:35  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

DanJ0

I haven't lost comments, but there are about 11 comments missing on this thread. I was waiting to see if the thread fixed before I went through the effort of writing and lose the post.

A few comments:

The foetus cannot consent and therefore someone must act in its interests if it has an equal right to life. The right makes a claim on others. But you seem to be ignoring that.

The only way to act in the interest of the unborn child would be to compel the mother to accept the risk of death. But you already dismissed that option.

Yes, you can't compel the mother to choose to sacrifice herself to save the foetus.

So what exactly are you saying? This does not seem a moral dilemma to me at all.

when I squint [it?] the kidney point looks quite similar to the sort of utilitarian argument someone might actually use in favour of allowing abortion.

I don't follow this point at all.

How do you account for brain-trauma affecting personality?

I don't have any idea how the brain and mind interact, other than it is obvious that they do. What is self-evident to me is that the mind is not simply a manifestation of the chemical reactions that occur in the brain. We are not an elaborate chemical reaction that somehow became self-aware. Man is flesh and spirit. How those two interact I do not know.

You are wrong when you say we know what death is. We simply recognize the effects of death after it occurs. What actually happens is a mystery that is hidden from us. Nor do we know what life is. We simply recognize its manifestations. Our inability to comprehend life is why we do not understand death. We do not comprehend life and death because we do not comprehend spirit. Instead we look at biology and say "Because that is all we can see, that must be all there is." And yet man is chock full of characteristics and attributes that cannot be explained purely by materialism. "Not so!" says the materialist faith. "Since there is no transcendent, then there must be materialist explanation." So men search the darkness for a light they deny exists.

carl

5 July 2011 at 18:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl: "The only way to act in the interest of the unborn child would be to compel the mother to accept the risk of death. But you already dismissed that option. So what exactly are you saying? This does not seem a moral dilemma to me at all."

You've just written off the human right to life of what you consider to be a child. So much for a human right to life! Doesn't that worry you at all?

The woman is killing the 'child' for her own benefit. Doesn't the life of the 'child' count? How do you justify that? Anti-abortion people call that infanticide.

I have justified it: it's not a child with an equal right to life because it doesn't have a mind at the point of abortion subject to the restrictions I have put in place.

"I don't follow this point at all."

In your comment: "Sort of like you can't compel person A to sacrifice a kidney for person B.", you are compelling what you consider as the child i.e. 'person A' to sacrifice their life for the mother i.e. 'person B'.

"I don't have any idea how the brain and mind interact, other than it is obvious that they do. What is self-evident to me is that the mind is not simply a manifestation of the chemical reactions that occur in the brain. We are not an elaborate chemical reaction that somehow became self-aware. Man is flesh and spirit. How those two interact I do not know."

Well, the fact of a mental life is there for all of us to experience. Every single one of us. There is no doubt in everyday life that we have minds. We also know that minds develop. In particular, we know that children (proper children in the normal sense of the word) are not self aware at the start and after a number of years become self-aware. Our person-alities change over time as we grow up, shadowing brain development. As one would expect if it is a phenomenon of the brain.

The issue of things existing in public (or objective) space and minds existing in private (or subjective) space is a philosophical one. It's not actually clear that we won't be able to create an artificial mind at some point in the future and explain how consciousness forms. But what we know now is enough, I think, to set out ethics surrounding person-hood for us to 'go on in life' as we must.

[contd]

5 July 2011 at 19:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

[...]

Perhaps you are merely pushing forward a different humanist approach to those sort of ethics here and arbitrarily assigning person-hood to a couple of cells immediately after they fuse. That at least has the binary tidiness that either the cells have fused, or they have not, despite the fact that they're still in the fallopian tube at that point and may naturally abort without anyone being any the wiser about it. But I doubt it. You're riding your religious and highly speculative beliefs on the back of it I reckon.

And what evidence is there of this spirit that you blithely assert as fact? None. None at all. It's a hypothesis you advance to account for some or all of the human mind (or consciousness), whilst apparently ignoring contrary evidence, such as the apparent mental lives of other mammalians who seem to fit quitely nicely into an evolutionary model.

"You are wrong when you say we know what death is. We simply recognize the effects of death after it occurs. What actually happens is a mystery that is hidden from us."

You see, this is why right at the start when Pennance started his 'thing' again, I said that there is no point debating with the religious about this. The premises are all askew and without agreed premises we're never going to agree that one argument or other is closer to the truth. Your religious views have no hold on the rest of us, I'm afraid, and a God of the Gaps argument is just wishful thinking. How can I be so certain about that statement? Because you don't have even remotely compelling evidence of your god to show us so you are wishing it were so. There may be a god in the gaps but it's almost certainly not your particular god because it's been made up by man to suit like all the other thousands of gods in human history.

5 July 2011 at 19:39  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

In answer to Carl's observation: "You are wrong when you say we know what death is. We simply recognize the effects of death after it occurs. What actually happens is a mystery that is hidden from us."

Danj0 replied ... " You see, this is why right at the start when Pennance started his 'thing' again, I said that there is no point debating with the religious about this."

The empirical evidence clearly backs Carl. See, for example, the article:
‘Brain dead’ Quebec woman wakes up after family refuses organ donation

6 July 2011 at 02:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Carl, I watched a very interesting and well-made programme on TV here last night, called Should I Test My Genes on BBC2 (available on iplayer now I expect for those in the UK). It discussed lots of issues but one in particular stuck a chord: PGD (pre-implementation genetic diagnosis, or genetic screening).

A couple were shown with their young boy who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Even at his age he was on around 30 pills a day and life expectancy is about 37 because of the degenerative nature of that horrible disease. The chance of having another child with CF was 1 in 4 if they got pregnant, they said.

They had a choice of this I suppose, 1. steralise to prevent it, 2. rely on contraception to prevent it, 3. never have sex again (the Catholic option I suppose), 4. leave it in god's hands so to speak to see if he gives them anther CF child, 5. abort the pregnancy later if CF is detected, or 6 ... use embryo screening.

Now, looking at the young boy there is no doubt to me that his life as it stands now is as valuable and cherished as yours or mine. He's the subject of his own life in the full sense of that now. Whether first or second trimester abortion before he got to the very start of that stage of development would have been a better option is arguable here.

But anyway, embryo screening. This is essentially IVF where what they called embryos (an 8 cell organism) are tested for CF and an embryo without the markers is put into the womb to develop eventually with a fair wind into a baby. The other embryos are presumably destroyed at some point. In the couple's case, the result was a healthy CF-free girl. The programme was well meade I thought because it raised related issues like gene co-expression.

Now, I was focusing everything on the programme, listening very carefully to my own moral intuition. The moral reasoning I have set out here was also in my mind too. What I saw was a very positive use of bio-technology and good results for the particular people involved. What I didn't see in that couple was a pair of evil, evil baby-killers despite some of the comments here.

The arguments you (and your fellow religionists) have put forward make those 8 cells in the IVF/PGD process a baby as important and as valuable as you or me, and in its very essence indistinguishable from you and me, and a child whose killing at that point is murder, and that the process is basically done for convenience. What my moral intuition and reasoning told me is that what you (and your fellow religionists) have said there is, in non-technical terms, bollocks.

6 July 2011 at 06:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

By the way, your coat-tails will be stretched beyond all repair soon by the look of it.

6 July 2011 at 06:54  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said ... "The arguments you (and your fellow religionists) have put forward make those 8 cells in the IVF/PGD process a baby as important and as valuable as you or me"

Danj0 claims, without any justification, that 8 cells are unimportant, presumably on the grounds that 8 is a "small" number. Yet, if I were to shoot 8 policemen that would be one more than enough to guarantee my arrest. Abortion proponents who proclaim that a foetus is merely a small "clump of cells" ignore the fact the number of atoms in a foetus weighing only a few grams more than 10^21 =1000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms --millions of times greater than the number stars in the milky way. Moreover, the incredible complexity of the unborn child is of similar order to the adult human. Size does not matter. We are not free to kill babies on the pretext that they are "small". Relative terms such as "small" are unscientific and misleading. Human life begins at the moment of conception whether Danj0 knows it or not.

6 July 2011 at 13:00  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said ... " never have sex again (the Catholic option)"

Another distortion of the truth from Danj0. The Church permits NFP in such circumstances.

6 July 2011 at 13:10  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Danj0 said ... " This is essentially IVF "

Article by Pennance on the evils of IVF

6 July 2011 at 13:17  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Pennance, again, I'm not interested in your comments. Anyway, what happened to your troll thing? So much for that! ;) What a twat.

6 July 2011 at 13:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

That statement on the LIFE site about the killing of a child in the chemo situation, there's something a bit wrong with it if it means what it appears to mean.

So, there's someone driving along in a car and it catastrophically fails, propelling it head-on towards a tree and his likely death. However, he jerks the steering wheel in panic to avoid the tree and the car skews sideways towards a bus stop which reduces the impact and saves his life. However, it kills the person waiting there for the Number 12 bus. Now, no-one would blame him for his instinctual act of self-preservation despite the unintended and unforeseen consequences. But what if he sat at home afterwards and said: you know, if I ended up in that situation again then I'd deliberately use the bus stop to stop the car even though the person in front is killed in the process?

The driver is not going to win any Good Person awards for his actions at the end there even if he didn't directly intend to kill the person. In fact, he's morally wrong surely?

6 July 2011 at 17:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Just to reinforce the point as this is at least the second time a debate about the nature of minds has suddenly stopped when the issue of animal minds came up.

If the religious hold to a dualist interpretation of the mind and brain rather than one where the mind arises out of the brain then they have to account for animal minds. Mammals appear to have consciousness. If consciousness is not of this physical world then where do individual animals fit into the 'next world'?

Descartes ran into this problem back in his day too and his solution to the dilemma, that animals are essentially automata, didn't ring true to people even then. He got caught on the horns of the dualist dilemma where neither horn is actually acceptable.

People who have mammalian pets, like cats or dogs or even guinea pigs, know that these animals are modified by our attentions i.e. that the develop their own personalities, and that their worlds don't appear to just unfold moment by moment. They have a mental life of their own.

If the minds of humans are somehow related to the "Man is flesh and spirit" claim above then animals presumably have spirits too. Yet Christians won't accept that. So how do they account for the mental lives of animals?

9 July 2011 at 07:53  

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