Thursday, March 01, 2012

Aborting new-born babies: Francesca Minerva and the logic of her final solution

It is widely reported that Oxford philosopher and medical ethicist Francesca Minerva has argued that that killing a newborn baby is scarcely different from aborting a child in the womb. She writes: 'foetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons.' As Lord Alton has observed, infanticide is the 'chilling and unassailable' logical step for a society that permits killing a baby one day before birth. His Grace has little to add, other than to refer you to the impeccable reasoning of the Rev'd George Pitcher and the penetrating insight of Nelson Jones. Oh, and this:

134 Comments:

Blogger carl jacobs said...

Exactly. The arguments that justify abortion do not depend upon the arbitrary boundary of birth. They are all intended to uphold the autonomy of the adult by preventing unchosen obligations resulting from parenthood. If birth reveals some unchosen and heretofore unseen obligation, then it is only natural that autonomous adults should be allowed a period to lay aside the obligation. Or at least that is the logic.

It is the idea that adults should ever have to carry an unchosen burden that so offends the modern mind. And that mind is quite prepared to kill in order to defend its prerogatives. Modern man hasn't quite yet grasped that he might find himself in need of someone fulfilling an unchosen obligation on his behalf. It's not quite the same when you are the 'actee' instead of the 'actor.' It's the difference between convenience and death.

carl

1 March 2012 at 18:54  
Blogger JRW said...

My son was born blind and every day for the first 10 or so years of his life I prayed for god to take him away. I stuck with it and he is now an adult and living alone.

I truly believe he was cursed by the devil because my wife was unfaithful a few years before he was born.

If it was lawful to have the doctors take a new born away and quietly put it down I would have said do it to thwart my wife's malicious mistake and allow the shameful child to have peace with god.

1 March 2012 at 19:10  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This should be an interesting one. It's a philosophical argument when all is said and done. Refuse to accept one or more of the premises and the argument, even if it is valid, becomes unsound.

1 March 2012 at 19:37  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This is a curious statement at the end of Pitcher's piece:

"But her work deserves more than simple condemnation. We need to understand how we could have come to a place where, in a respected medical journal, her argument can be made at all."

Surely the Journal of Medical Ethics is an ideal place to make an argument like that. I know exactly where I would target the argument to undermine it. I also think it helps highlight the issues around a right to life and personhood.

1 March 2012 at 19:46  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

My dear Carl

I don't think you have grasped the full magnitude of this issue. This has little of nothing to do with what parents, or the people want, but has everything to do with what the people who secretly or otherwise, have long since wanted.

Which is absolute control over what they see as the ignorant masses. Which very much includes yourself, every bit as much as it does myself, however many PhD's we may, or may not have between us.

An entire planet run by a scientific elite working exclusively for our material owners/masters, as foretold in publications as Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Communist Manifesto, Time Machine, Atlas Shrugged, and last but of course not least The Holy Bible.

The key is convincing a large enough amount of the people that they are nothing more then over evolved apes, ultimately descendant from accidently created pond life, that a transcendent God is no more then superstitious mumbo-jumbo, and that therefore mindless self-sacrifice for the perceived common 'good' is ones Globalist duty.

At such a time ( which is just about now IMO ) anything however profoundly insane, horrendously cruel, as well genocidally murderous can, and so will be morally justified.

At least Ms Francesca Minerva has come out into the open, for that we should thank her. Then have the women arrested for incitement to murder.

You may be old enough to recall that propositions, made no more then 25 years ago, ( most usually promulgated within publications such as The Guardian news-paper), which sounded perfectly absurd at the time, have now become part of the accepted fabric of our everyday society.

I contend that murder of the newly born in the western world will be almost as common place within 20 or so years, as murder of the unborn is today, and accepted as prudent common sense not long afterwards.

Indeed murder of the newly born is likely already more common place, then murder of the unborn, in many parts of the world.

1 March 2012 at 19:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Are we all sure this isn't a Swiftian argument, or an academic exercise to do with conflict? One of Minerva's academic interests is the "conflicts between secular and religious ethics".

1 March 2012 at 19:56  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0 - That was my thought. The New Statesman article seems pretty sure that it isn't a hoax though. I suppose we can assess the likelihood of it being a Swiftian argument on the basis of whether the authors are likely to be supportive of anti-abortion arguments (who are probably best served by the publishing of this paper). I'll have to see if we have a copy of her thesis in the library.

I did, however, think Pitcher was spot on with that last comment, but then like him, I take the view that there are certain moral issues which are simply not "up for grabs", however well-intentioned the academics pursuing them may be.

1 March 2012 at 20:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The actual paper is here if anyone is interested. Giubilini has published something against the Argument From Potential too. I really disagree with Pitcher on this, I think it should be argued about.

1 March 2012 at 20:14  
Blogger Corrigan1 said...

What we are actually talking about here is eugenics (and never mind all that liberal tosh about "compassion"; it's aimed at culling a particular section of society). What is often not appreciated is that the eugenics movement never went away, it just morphed into something more socially acceptable, using mantras like "pro-choice" and such.

A fascinating book on this subject was published a few years ago

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0330427458/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_g14_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1Q4FMCDQ4DARC0AA6PW9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128533&pf_rd_i=468294

If I may presume to push my own blog, here's my review of it

http://corrigan1.livejournal.com/15301.html

1 March 2012 at 20:16  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

The prospect of this abhorrent scenario ever becoming a mainstream norm is zero: it never was even expected to become so at least according to the proposer:-

Dr Minerva said she was not expecting the overwhelmingly negative reaction and believes her argument has been taken out of its academic and theoretical context.

"If I had published the same article in a newspaper, I would expect this reaction," she said.

"I wish I could explain to people it is not a policy and I'm not suggesting that and I'm not encouraging that."


This is the danger in an open and free thinking society, that occasionally it is faced with an academic expressing a deliberately and shockingly provocative proposal, to trigger a wider debate. Such propositions, even as revolting as this one is, should be published; discussed and peer argued, in to rejection and discreditation.

I am pro abortion in certain cases only and also only within a much shorter period of gestation. I also think that the present application of the rules is being abused and the graphic details of what is entailed should be more widely understood and presented as part of appropriately aged sex education programme in schools.

Odd as it may or may not at first appear, discussion on suggestions like this would undoubtedly favour the 'pro-life' lobby argument rather than herald the beginning of humankind's descent in to some kind of secular and therefore (according to some cloth eared commenters here) atheistic 'Final Solution' narrative.

I fear His Grace is being a little mischevious in trying to out Daily Mail the Daily Mail with his presentation of this story.

1 March 2012 at 20:23  
Blogger Roy said...

According to the Guardian today, the authors of the article have received threats.

Anti-abortion fanatics are threatening free speech, warns academic
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/29/abortion-ethics-threat-free-speech?INTCMP=SRCH

"Death threats to philosophers writing on 'after-birth abortion' curb academic discussion, says Journal of Medical Ethics editor."

Obviously it is wrong to issue death threats (or other threats of violence) against the authors and the people who issue those threats are behaving in a way that is not only sinful but also stupid and counter-productive.

Having said that, however, the fact that the Guardian should consider the threat to freedom of speech a bigger story than the defence of infanticide shows just how perverted the "values" of the Guardian have become.

I wonder how the Guardian would react if someone suggested that more government money should be spent on research to see if there is any genetic basis to homosexuality so that parents could then choose to abort any foetuses carrying the gene(s) that might pre-dispose them to homosexuality or lesbianism? What if an article with that premise was submitted to the Journal of Medical Ethics? Would the editor be so keen on free speech then?

People who normally defend "a woman's right to choose" were, quite rightly, unhappy with recent reports about the abortion of babies for no other reason than the fact that they were female. Suppose the number of abortions of "wrong sex" abortions were to double so that for every baby being aborted because it was female, another was aborted for being male. Would the people who only oppose abortion when it is done selectively on female babies still oppose abortion on grounds of sex then?

1 March 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@DanJ0 & Dreadnaught:

As someone in academia myself, I'd not be racing to curtail powers of investigation or free-speech.

However, there is something fundamentally absurd about the notion that infanticide can be argued from an explicitly moral perspective as a "theoretical" contribution. What makes it more absurd is the idea that rejection of such an idea is made more powerful by having been peer-reviewed.

This is a curious form of intellectual arrogance, which I encounter in various forms almost on a daily basis. It essentially argues that my rejection of this notion as an academic is "serious", whilst my gut-response and "emotional" rejection of it is merely "cloth-eared" (nice phrase btw). No doubt there will be response papers pointing out, quite rightly, the intellectual flaws, philosophical defects, and theoretical problems with the paper, as well as a few that will seek to extend its premises.

The core revulsion that most people will experience on reading this article is enough. There is, undoubtedly, a perverse delight to be had in arguing for the indefensible, but let's be clear: when the central argument is not in any way being seriously considered for implementation, the only purpose to such "debate" is to underscore the authority which academics claim.

I'd suggest that there is one other logical beneficiary to the publication of this debate besides the anti-abortion movement, and that's the authors of the paper. This will be discussed, cited, and debated at conferences, and regardless of the authors' actual views on the subject, it will only serve to enhance their academic profile.

There are times when the claims of intellectual inquiry and liberal expression of thought which we so enjoy employing really are nothing other than a veil to spare the blushes of a profoundly ugly mindset. This is one of them.

1 March 2012 at 21:01  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl said ...

"The arguments that justify abortion do not depend upon the arbitrary boundary of birth. They are all intended to uphold the autonomy of the adult by preventing unchosen obligations resulting from parenthood."

Are you against abortion under any and all circumsatances?

1 March 2012 at 21:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "The core revulsion that most people will experience on reading this article is enough."

The paper sets up a definition for personhood which is probably quite contentious. It also takes a position on the argument from potential which is a famous argument in this area. Moreover, it has relevance for the topical partial-birth abortion issue in America. I think it actually sets a marker from which one can argue backwards to the issues. This handy little summary I stored ages ago sets out the issues in this area quite well, in my opinion. For'sure, the argument in the paper is quite shocking but it still deserves reading.

1 March 2012 at 21:16  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

DanJ0: It's not the reading or the response that I'm protesting. It's the institutional (and possibly personal) arrogance underlying its production.

If such an argument is effectively repulsive to all (and there don't seem to be many dissenters from that view of the paper's content, as opposed to its authors' putative right to expression), then there are only two possible reasons for producing it:

Firstly, that it will fortify the career of the academic, and the institutional authority of academia. This need not be reduced to cynicism; a lack of self-reflection seems to be a fairly consistent trait amongst academics. This is essentially a component of "we are academics, we should be able to examine whatever we wish".

Secondly, that it is, in fact, using the authority to deliberately open up a space in which the unthinkable can accumulate social and intellectual capital. Again, this need not be reduced to an intentional scheme by an evil academic. But that's precisely the point: even if the authors would in reality recoil from such a proposal, their discussion of it in a peer-reviewed journal, affords it both credibility and distribution.

One doesn't need to be in favour of academic censorship to criticise the publishing and production of this paper. To do so was wrong, either because it all-too-easily recruited controversy as a means of accumulating social capital, or because it really is a pernicious attempt to open up a space in which infanticide becomes a serious option for implementation.

I tend towards seeing this as academic indulgence, and an unwillingness to seriously reflect on the responsibility which comes with being in a socially and intellectually privileged occupation.

1 March 2012 at 21:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

'Thou Shalt not Murder' - enough said as far as I'm concerned.

1 March 2012 at 21:58  
Blogger Atlas Shrugged said...

Dear Dodo

IMO abortion is perfectly justified if the act of giving birth, or continuing with the pregnancy could possibly seriously harm the health of the mother.

This is a complicated issue, that has always had morally justified arguments on both sides.

However if the exact circumstances by which abortions where to be legally carried out was an issue in isolation from all of the other de-humanizing immoral ones we are ever more confronted with, we would have little to over concern ourselves about.

Also the amount of abortions would be tiny, verging on the non-existent in comparison to what they are.

Western women have now had the ability to control their own reproductive capacity for now 40 odd years. Unless the women was raped, I fail to understand how any women gets pregnant unless they somehow wanted to be, or have been seriously negligent in their moral and civil duties.

Yet women receive no legal sanctions for getting pregnant in the first place, indeed in some/many cases they are financially rewarded for doing so.

Worse still the possible resultant abortion is carried out free on the NHS, accompanied by not so much as a wagging finger, or metaphorical slap on the wrist from the state.

Yet all kinds of other behavior or acts which up to very recently bore no legal sanctions at all, are now deemed to be morally unacceptable as well as in some cases illegal. A case concerning a Liverpool football player comes to mind.

My Lord, you can get a fine for dropping litter in an over littered street, driving over 33 MPH on a deserted 3 lane carriage way at 4 AM, or even allowing your dog to foul footpath miles from civilization.

Our rulers have shown us where their priorities lie, and it most certainly is not with Gods most wonderful, and vulnerable creation.

Which if you where in any doubt, is not The RCC, ( which talks big on the matter but in reality does less then nothing in its considerable power to do anything to help the situation ), it is human life itself.

1 March 2012 at 22:07  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

"When the Abortion Act was passed in the Sixties, it had the noble aim of protecting women's lives and bringing abortion into safe medical practice. Since then, it has become a form of contraception and, today, we have this proposed rationale for after-birth abortion.

When euthanasia was first introduced in Holland in 2002, it was for the terminally ill only. Since then, it has been accepted for the over-70s who are simply tired of life and, today, the Dutch government is introducing mobile killing vans, to reach those who have difficulty finding a doctor who will dispose of them."

See where these things inevitably lead? Apply the same process to that "other" great cause of the aggressive atheists and secularlists and see where we've come since Wolfenden.

1 March 2012 at 22:10  
Blogger Owl said...

Dan0,

It is called gradualism.

The masses have to get used to an idea.

We have already seen this tactic too often already.

Fabian eugenics is alive and kicking. You have to be optically challenged not to see it by now.

Malthus must be laughing in his coffin.

1 March 2012 at 22:24  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

Are you against abortion under any and all circumstances?

Except to save the life of the mother. What prompted you to ask such a question?

carl

1 March 2012 at 22:38  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Atlas

Please get your fact rights before have a swipe at the Catholic Church. The Church exists solely to serve Godand lead souls to salvation. It stands alone in an unqualified resistance to abortion.

John Paul II declared that the Church’s teaching on abortion:

" ... is unchanged and unchangeable.

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium.

No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church"
(Evangelium Vitae 1995)

1 March 2012 at 22:40  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

AnonymousInBelfast

Re: 1 March 2012 21:38

Excellent post. Well reasoned. Well written.

carl

1 March 2012 at 22:41  
Blogger Sam Vega said...

Catholic philosopher Bill Vallicella makes some very sound points on this issue. Worth looking at this:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2012/03/abortion-and-infanticide.html

1 March 2012 at 23:09  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl

I asked because I fully agree with this statement of yours:

"It is the idea that adults should ever have to carry an unchosen burden that so offends the modern mind. And that mind is quite prepared to kill in order to defend its prerogatives. Modern man hasn't quite yet grasped that he might find himself in need of someone fulfilling an unchosen obligation on his behalf."

And I believe it holds even when the mother's life is at risk. Man's right to life does not give him the entitlement to kill a child in the womb of it's mother.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

2 March 2012 at 00:34  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

You are postulating one of two (and only two) possible alternatives:

1. The child dies.
2. The child dies and the mother dies.

You will notice the common factor in both possibilities. There is no moral imperative that requires the mother's death when the inevitable outcome of the mother's death is the child's death.

carl

2 March 2012 at 03:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I've read the article several times now over the evening, and I can honestly say that it is one of the most depraved things I have ever read.

2 March 2012 at 03:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Sam: "Catholic philosopher Bill Vallicella makes some very sound points on this issue."

The first premise of his second syllogism doesn't look right to me as far as what he calls pro-choicers is concerned: "Late-term abortion is not morally wrong"

For pro-lifers, the first syllogism is actually

"Infanticide is morally wrong
There is no morally relevant difference between infanticide and abortion
Therefore abortion is morally wrong."

and the second premise is arguable there. It is usually god-based in reality but here he tries to support it with other arguments which have their own issues.

To add to his tangential point at the end, would it be such a hot-button issue it weren't for religious issues?

2 March 2012 at 04:16  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I agree with much said by Anon Belfast especially the motives of one or two academics appearing to being 'out for glory' as it were, but I'm not so sure that this is so in respect of this instance. There is a need within the environment of front line medical practice where ethics demand applied definition in order for clinicians to operate with the accepted understanding of the Law.

Simplistic and useless referral to the 'only gods can give or take life' rule does not offer a one size fits all answer to a highly complex area of reality.

I came across this site which may be of interest to the more open minded amongst the congregation.

http://www.mandm.org.nz/2012/02/10262.html

2 March 2012 at 06:16  
Blogger len said...

It is quite chilling to hear the words of medical 'ethicist'advocating the murder of defenceless infants.

It is merely an indicator of the total immorality of some in our Society.It is nothing less than pre meditated murder.

Taken to its logical conclusion this 'culling'of those who are unwanted in our Society would extend to those disabled or disadvantaged in any way or those perceived to be a 'drain on our Society'.

So now an 'Oxford philosopher'decides what is 'morally acceptable' for our Society which clearly illustrates more than anything I could say that when man decides what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'then moral chaos ensues and everyone does' what is right in their own eyes'.

2 March 2012 at 08:05  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'...newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons.'

Then the next logical step is to examine who else is living, and wether or not they should be terminated.

2 March 2012 at 08:06  
Blogger non mouse said...

Presumably profit is the only reason the video producers offer us this entertainment?

I mean..."Brain Dead"? "Slipped into a vegetative state"?
So, to an audience of brain-free peasants, precise diagnosis and the rationale behind it, the nature of the disease, and/or its cause, are all irrelevant, right? As, also, is evidence for any of the above? We are supposed only to respond mechanically: to what the 'producers' here assess as a tear-jerking stimulus?

Still. That female's language in reference to the amorphous American 'addatood' gives me pause; to say nothing of the fact she doesn't mind displaying it in public. I say there's more to this than meets the eye. But then again -- what price ethos in a secular world?

That's where 'life' is nobbut chemical reactions, and only the fittest and most efficient predators may survive. Their electro-chemical make-up decides.

[Your Grace is right - the killer instinct is on an overall ascendant. It's a bit like WWI, really --- fodder is disposable].

End of.

2 March 2012 at 08:14  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

For the subsequent 29 or so comments, no one seems to have noticed this particularly terrifying contribution, in at number 2, from JRW:

"My son was born blind and every day for the first 10 or so years of his life I prayed for god to take him away. I stuck with it and he is now an adult and living alone.

I truly believe he was cursed by the devil because my wife was unfaithful a few years before he was born.

If it was lawful to have the doctors take a new born away and quietly put it down I would have said do it to thwart my wife's malicious mistake and allow the shameful child to have peace with god."

I'm wondering if that's because the comment is so outrageous that no one can believe he's not taking the p***, or because such an attitude is so utterly repugnant that he has managed the incredible feat of rendering the entire of His Grace's congreagation speechless.

2 March 2012 at 09:29  
Blogger dfordoom said...

Odd as it may or may not at first appear, discussion on suggestions like this would undoubtedly favour the 'pro-life' lobby argument rather than herald the beginning of humankind's descent in to some kind of secular and therefore (according to some cloth eared commenters here) atheistic 'Final Solution' narrative.

Whether the authors of the paper intended it or not infanticide is now on the political agenda. And those who see no moral problem with abortion are unlikely to see any moral problem with infanticide.

2 March 2012 at 09:54  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I apologise in advance for such a massive cut and paste but I could find no way of illustrating the realities of the dilemma facing medic and parents.

Verhagen: “A lot of disquiet has arisen around this issue, especially when the Vatican expressed concern. But these children face a life of agonizing pain. For example, we’re talking about newborns with hydrocephalus and no brain. Another example may be a child with spina bifida with a sack of brain fluid attached where all the nerves are floating around. This child is barely able to breathe, and would have to undergo at least sixty operations in the course of a year to temporarily alleviate its problems. These operations would not ease the pain. Moreover, the child would suffer such unbearable pain that it has to be constantly anaesthetised. The parents watch this in tears and beg the doctor to bring an end to such suffering.”

Studies have shown that paediatricians worldwide are, in exceptional cases like this, in favour of deliberate ending of life. In France 74% believe that it should be acceptable in certain circumstances. The figure for the Netherlands is 72%.

The Groningen Protocol has five criteria: the suffering must be so severe that the newborn has no prospects of a future; there is no possibility of a cure or alleviation with medication or surgery; the parents must always give their consent; a second opinion must be provided by an independent doctor who has not been involved with the child’s treatment; and the deliberate ending of life must be meticulously carried out with the emphasis on aftercare.

Verhagen: “This is a subject that nobody likes to acknowledge, let alone discuss. But it is in the interest of newborns who have to endure unbearable suffering that we draw up a nationwide protocol that allows each paediatrician to treat this delicate question with due care, knowing that he followed the criteria.”

2 March 2012 at 10:12  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Matthew 24:12 ' (in the last days) wickedness will multiply and most men's hearts will grow cold.'

Nobody should be surprised, given the normalisation of abortion that the intellectuals should call for infanticide. Its called progress (as in SC S Lewis' 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' where slavery is described as 'progress' to which Prince Caspian says 'I have seen progress in an egg. Its otherwise known a going bad.').

This is not even the first such call from a leading intellectual, Google on Steven Pinker, mate of Dawkins.

They are testing the market, just as when governments experimentally leak a potentially controversial proposal to 'see how it will fly'.

2 March 2012 at 10:49  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace. The Inspector understands this is already a widespread practice in Asia. Interestingly, there was a recent case where a mother who brought forth three baby girls was murdered by her family. Presumably, the only reason that made the news was because a adult was euthanized for being a ‘burden’ or at least providing a burden. As always, there was no follow up to the story. Perhaps there’s only two girls left, or maybe one. Such is the depraved nature of raw mankind.

One would have thought that rather than put this out as a ‘new’ idea, Minerva would have picked up on that...

Just goes to show that we need to remain a Christian country and not become secular (...where’s David B when you need him to concur...), as this disgusting idea will no doubt have it’s supporters. So what do we do with THEM. Burning at the stake perhaps. That’s how we got rid of our adult undesirables in the past (...er, no offence, old chap...).

2 March 2012 at 11:00  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

No healthy society discusses murdering its children.The creature in question says that she is not advocating this enourmity,but that is what berti russell said and look at where we are now,perhaps they are just testing the water,and once the objections are known,they can have a "committe"to find ways of by passing them,all in the best possible taste of course,but then the people who could have made a difference have retreated so many times,any resistance is purely for show.So what does the ABC say?it is ok as long as you read a koran over them?or shall we use baseball bats or syringes?If we have come to this,we may as well have ww3 and get it over with,at least it would be quicker than what the diseased marxists have in store for us.

2 March 2012 at 11:04  
Blogger C.Law said...

There has been a rather hysterical reaction in some of the comments here to the raising of this topic in medical ethics circles.

Given that there have always been doctors and nurses and, indeed, family members who have quietly adjusted the dosage of drugs or the application of treatment to ensure the peaceful passing away of patients (of all ages) suffering from terminal illnesses and in great pain - whatever the law of their land - it does not appear to me to be unreasonable to raise the topic in the medical ethics forum.

That is not to say that I agree with the conclusions of F Minerva or those who advocate unlimited euthanasia, but it does seem that the topic is worthy of discussion.

2 March 2012 at 11:09  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

Dreadnaught,

I think most of us, even RC's such as myself, would be willing to accept that in certain very specific circumstances, such as the ones you outline, permitting suffering where the is genuinely no hope is not what God would want of us.

The problem many of us have with criteria such as the ones you describe is how easily certain doctors and portions of society reach the conclusion that those criteria have been fulfilled.

My best friend had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a profoundly disabling, life-limiting and incurable condition. If his condition had been detected immediately after birth, he could easily have been considered to have fulfiled every one of the Groningen criteria. Had his condition been detected before birth, termination would certainly have been recommended on much the same grounds.

However, that assessment of his prospects would have been wrong; he is a very happy and outgoing young man, a good friend, a much loved son. Spend an hour in his company and one would easily see that the notion that his condition leaves him with little or no quality of life is wrong. Yes, his condition causes him great difficulties, but ultimately his quality of life depends on such things as good friends, loving family, a nice place to live and things to do - much like the rest of us, in fact. Take away those, and his condition would indeed be pitiable.

The quality of life of people with profound and multiple disabilities is often greatly underestimated by doctors who see them as a list of symptoms, and tragically by parents who have just been given a resounding list of the things their children will never enjoy. Criteria such as the Groningen ones can, like our abortion laws themselves, be gradually moved ever further from the original intention without ever changing them.

2 March 2012 at 11:11  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

Sorry, that last comment should have read 'has Duchenne...' not 'had...'.

My buddy is, thank god, very much still with us :o)

2 March 2012 at 11:19  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl

There is a third possible outcome, both mother and child live.

An expectant mother is diagnosed with a treatable form of aggressive cancer. If she does not receive chemotheraphy she will die. If she receives treatment the odds are her unborn child will die.

Are you saying that morally there is no difference between directly aborting the baby before treatmment, because of the predictable outcome, and commencing treatment knowing the probable result will be the death of the child?

The moral argument against the first course of action is that that it is a direct abortion, that the death of the unborn child is willed as an end or as a means to an end in itself.

"No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit."

The child's God given right to life is equivalant to the mother's right to life. Once you conceed this principle don't you then establish a heirarchy to the right to life with all that this entails?

Such a course of action is acceptable within Judaism because this faith believes the child receives a soul once it is partly out of the mother's womb. Christianity holds that from the moment of conception a child exists, body and soul, with all the potentiality this entails.

2 March 2012 at 11:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

If the chemo will kill the non-viable foetus and the mother demands the treatment anyway to save her own life then what is the resolution? In reality, I'm pretty sure she would be given the treatment, perhaps after a formal abortion.

2 March 2012 at 11:43  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

C.Law: Thus is essentially the reasoning in the paper - we do it already in one form or another, therefore it is moral.

This isn't hyperbole on my part, this is literally the core of their argument:

Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing
someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered
subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on
embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is
permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.


This is not a searching piece, nor is it an ethical piece, and I reiterate, that for the reasons I've explained above (@21.38), that its production may be robustly criticised and questioned without it constituting an attack on academic freedom.

2 March 2012 at 11:53  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Darter Noster:

(And for the benefit of those who may not have read the paper)

That kind of testimony should be sufficient to quell the drive for the systematic destruction of people with disabilities.

Unfortunately, Minerva et. al. deal precisely with this, and conclude that it has "zero" value. I quote in full:

It might be maintained that ‘even
allowing for the more optimistic assessments of the
potential of Down’s syndrome children, this
potential cannot be said to be equal to that of
a normal child’. But, in fact, people with Down’s
syndrome, as well as people affected by many other
severe disabilities, are often reported to be happy.

Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable
burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state
economically provides for their care. On these grounds, the fact
that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have
an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.
Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth
such that they would have justified abortion, what we call
after-birth abortion should be permissible.


The primary criterion is one of convenience to what they define as "actual people" (their term). Infanticide, especially but not exclusively of the disabled, can be justified, according to them, if it will result in a burden on individuals and, chillingly, the State.

This is a manifesto for the destruction of babies explicitly because they are helpless, explicitly because they are unable to mount their own defence. Their helplessness is simply a further criterion for their destruction, and their "non-personhood", if they prove to be inconvenient to those in power. It is the inevitable course of "do what you will".

"Learn to do right; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause." (Isaiah 1:17)

"Defend the helpless and everyone in need. (Psalm 82:4)

2 March 2012 at 12:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

You have carefully avoided the core of the issue. If (for example) a woman suffers an ectopic pregnancy, then there is no way to avoid the choice by appealing to 'collateral effects of treatment.' The pregnancy itself is the threat to her life. In this case, the child is already dead. He simply hasn't died yet. The only way to save the life of the mother is to end the pregnancy. I understand that some people suggest a moral dodge at this point. They would blame a 'defective fallopian tube' and cut it out. The child therefore dies as a result of "treatment." But there is not a doctor alive who would say that the fallopian tube is in fact defective. It is not the fallopian tube that threatens the mother's life. The only reason it would be removed is because of the child developing within the tube. This is abortion by any other name. It is much more risky and it removes a healthy organ that will in all probability function normally for the rest of her life.

The is a great moral difference between causing the death of the child indirectly by means of life-saving treatment, and directly killing the child to affect life-saving treatment. But there are presently medical conditions that make the later course unavoidable. You cannot currently treat an ectopic pregnancy without killing the child. The only treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is in fact to kill the child. Don't pour illegitimate guilt upon a woman who is already suffering from a tragedy.

carl

2 March 2012 at 12:35  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

I realise that refering to Nazis tends to be seen as the end of the deabte, but in this case I think their inclusion is entirely appropriate.

The Nazi State's first programme of genocide was directed at disabled babies (starting in 1939), on the grounds that they were a financial and social burden on to the State - “life unworthy of life”. Medical staff were co-opted not only to report disabled babies but to encourage mothers to give them up for destruction. By the autumn of 1939, this had been extended to adults with disabilities, and the first gas chambers were used. The authorization for this included a full defence of medical staff who carried out the "procedures", but rather tellingly had to be back-dated. Within two years: the Holocaust.

We should not, under any circumstances, fail to recognise the profound danger of the work of "experts" who have begun to justify the systematic destruction of life on the grounds that it is incovenient.

2 March 2012 at 12:47  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl

I don't think I have avoided the core of the issue at all. I thought I had stated it:

"The child's God given right to life is equivalant to the mother's right to life. Once you conceed this principle don't you then establish a heirarchy to the right to life with all that this entails?"

We will have to differ on the case of an ectopic pregnancy. Removing the fallopian tube is not a direct abortion and I disgree that the child is already dead. He simply hasn't died yet. The death of the unborn child by abortion is willed as an end in itself. That is the line of reasoning used to justify ethenasia.

And the example I gave? You haven't commented on that.

2 March 2012 at 13:02  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

We start from different positions on the status of an unborn child. You use the term non-viable foetus and see this as an 'it'. I see life from the moment of conception as a child of God, made in His image and likeness, even though s/he has not reached their full biological potential.

In man's law a foetus has no 'rights' and the mother could decide on chemotheraphy with or without an abortion first. The difference is the morality of her decision, not its legality .

2 March 2012 at 13:16  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

AnonymousinBelfast,

I'm aware of what the paper says about children with disabilities; however, the paper is based on a series of premises none of which I accept. The whole world-view of the paper is so utterly different to my own that it and I really have very little to say to each other - at least, very little that has any place in a reasonable and civilised discourse.

My comment was directed towards Dreadnaught, who was making a reasonable point, rather than twoards the authors of the paper, of whom I have only one question: do they genuinely believe in and advocate the legalisation of infanticide, or is this merely a childish and incredibly distasteful attempt by two academics to gain publicity by courting the maximum controversy? Or both? The ideas in the paper are not even original.

I'm well aware of the desperation some academics have for the oxygen of publicity, and the lengths to which it can drive them.

I will campaign against abortion and for the rights of disabled people until my dying days, but I will not give two pathetic academic publicity seekers the notoriety they so obviously crave, or the dignity of treating their rehashed claptrap seriously.

2 March 2012 at 13:16  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Darter Noster: Sorry - It wasn't my intention to make it look like I was correcting you! Quite the contrary in fact! Or for that matter other posters here, who, I agree have not been making unreasonable points.

2 March 2012 at 13:25  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Belfast

The 'academics' here have simply taken the abortionist case to its logical conclusion as so ably by and yourself.

I welcome the fact that this is now out in the open. Once you start ranking the 'right' to life, making 'value' judgements about this and basing such decisions on convenience and expense, then as a society we really are morally degenerate.

2 March 2012 at 13:53  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Darter Noster:-
...is how easily certain doctors and portions of society reach the conclusion that those criteria have been fulfilled...

I totally agree that there are inherent dangers of 'mission creep' in matters such as this topic as illustrated in the recent case of abortion on demand based on the sex of the foetus - I, and I would imagine the majority of the UK population, would have no truck with that argument. That action was roundly and rightly declared to be at the very minimum - illegal. It has discredited a certain member of the medical profession and should result in a full Inquiry in to the possibility of this not being an isolated instance. In any case, the full force of the law should be brought to bear on all involved.

But, without open discussion and stringent monitoring of current and indeed future practices - how is the medical ethics code expected to advise and protect the societal moral compass, patients and practitioners.

People simply quoting their assorted religious mantras, while not without a degree of common merit, are missing the point of the complexities involved in ethical construction.

As for speculating on the motivation of the academics involved, that's nothing with which I would care to engage unless I knew them personally - which I don't.

2 March 2012 at 14:01  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

Dreadnaught,

Open discussion of these matters I whole-heartedly support, and I also support making arguments on these issues purely on secular grounds - not everyone shares my religious beliefs, we live in a democratic society, and I don't expect anyone to change their mind on abortion because I tell them my God doesn't like it.

In the past, any public discussion of abortion I have done has been from a disability rights perspective, rather than a pro-life v. pro-choice perspective (I was press officer for a disability rights group, and their lead man on ethics) - and it remains so in this case.

I speculate as to those academics' motives because, as someone seeking an academic position myself, I know how enormously competitive these things are at all levels, and the pressure people are under to "stand out" from the hundreds of other post-docs or lecturers that apply for every post that comes up.

When I see an academic journal publish a paper containing very few original ideas but guaranteed to cause a media storm, and academics submitting such a paper, I do question their motives, both as a former PR man and an aspiring academic.

2 March 2012 at 14:34  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Dreadnaught: I find it entirely plausible that the authors did not anticipate the furore their article would cause. I'm also willing to take at face value the comments attributed to them which you provided above.

As I said originally, one need not cynically impute intentional egoism to individuals to understand this as arriving out of a form of institutional arrogance.

Part of the point is that the laudible condemnation of sex-selection abortions that we saw from all sides of politics recently (notwithstanding the cohort for whom right-to-choice is absolute) becomes far less likely in circumstances where articles like this circulate apparently without question by the publishers and peers.

It is naive for academics to think that they produce knowledge neutrally. Look at it from the perspective of a different issue - academics discuss, research and publish on the subject of Holocaust Denial. They do not, as a rule, publish even entirely-theoretical arguments in its favour. This is largely the same kind of issue: at the very least, Minerva et. al. are guilty of a gross kind of thoughtlessness when it comes to the reprecussions of their work.

2 March 2012 at 14:44  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Dodo

The death of the unborn child by abortion is willed as an end in itself.

The death of the unborn child is the willed result of removing the fallopian tube. The tube itself is not threatening the life of the mother. The child growing in the wrong place is threatening the life of the mother. The only reason to remove the tube is to remove the child within it. Your position amounts to "Kill the unborn child, yet somehow licitly." You can't hide intent by creating a medical fiction about the fallopian tube.

I disagree that the child is already dead. He simply hasn't died yet.

You miss the point. With an ectopic pregnancy, there is no way to bring the unborn child to full term. He is eventually going to kill his mother and die himself as a result. It is 100% certain. The child must be removed or both he and his mother will die. Since there is presently no way to move the child to where he belongs, that means the child must die. Call it whatever you like. The mother can only be saved by the willful intentional death of her child.

I don't think I have avoided the core of the issue at all.

Of course you did. You ran right to a case of uncertain outcome. That phrase "the odds are" gives it away. I know a woman who almost died from her fourth pregnancy. She was on bed rest for three months. I also know she wouldn't have considered an abortion. Baby survived. She survived. She accepted the risk for the sake of her daughter. The mother can always accept the risk. She can't however, be compelled to accept the risk.

In your example, you have juxtaposed two uncertain outcomes.

1. Accept chemotherapy. This improves the mother's chance of living but exposes the baby to near certain death.

2. Reject chemotherapy. This improves the chances of survival for the baby but exposes the mother to a high probability of death. The baby might die because of the cancer in any case.

I wouldn't want to be the mother who had to face such a Sophie's Choice. Neither am I going to second-guess her. You have no standing to impose a decision on her. You can't compel her to risk her life.

carl

2 March 2012 at 14:51  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

carl
None of us would want to face these situations. And whose talking about "compelling" anyone? I'm exploring the moral issues at play.

In the ectopic pregnancy it is not the death of the unborn child that is the willed result of removing the fallopian tube. It is saving the life of the mother by the only morally acceptable way - removing the fallopian tube.

Okay, I may have hedged my bets in my example. Change it to certain death for the mother without chemotheraphy and certain death for the child with chemotheraphy. Would you argue in these circumstances that an abortion prior to treatment is morally justifiable because the child is already dead. He simply hasn't died yet?

2 March 2012 at 15:07  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

AiB/DN

Good points all round on which to ponder - and no insults - makes a pleasant change on here :-)

2 March 2012 at 15:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The woman's choice has consequences. In effect, she is sacrificing the life of the foetus to save her own. If the foetus has an equivalent right to life then the life of the foetus must surely be saved irrespective of the impact on the woman carrying it. There is a duty stemming from the right to life of the foetus to intervene to stop the treatment in order to protect the foetus, isn't there?

2 March 2012 at 15:27  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Not necessarily, DanJ0. And I trust you're not leading me into a trap here. You being 'strategic' and all that.

Both mother and unborn child have equivelent rights.

Direct,intended abortion as an end, or as a means to an end, is always immoral as it is deliberately kills an innocent human being.

Indiectly killing an unborn child as a result of treatment directed at saving the mother is not wrong because the end sought is legitimate, although the means of saving the mother's life will result in the child's death - indirectly. The intervention to save the mother's life is not intrinsically immoral in and of itself.

2 March 2012 at 16:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

That's not a great deal of consolation for the foetus whose life is sacrificed. Why not indirectly kill the woman by denying her treatment, thus intentionally saving the life of the foetus later on?

2 March 2012 at 16:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

And really, is there that much moral difference between intentionally acting and intentionally not acting? Is there any at all?

2 March 2012 at 16:49  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0, eh?

The mother can legitimately make the decision for herself about her treatment or otherwise knowing the implications for herself and her expected child.

And whatever is done there is intentional - even if it's nothing.

2 March 2012 at 17:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

The foetus has a right to life and anyone providing the treatment is killing the foetus. Surely there is a duty to the foetus there related to its right to life?

By denying treatment, someone is explicitly saving the life of the foetus. By giving the treatment, someone is explicitly saving the life of the women.

In each case, the consequences of the action are known ie. the other party dies. The right to life counts for the same so why save the woman and not the foetus?

2 March 2012 at 17:34  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 asked ...

" ... so why save the woman and not the foetus?"

If neither choice was immoral, why indeed?

The mother and her husband would surely be free to discuss this and take whatever decision they wished provided these stayed within morally acceptable limits?

Isn't the criteria up to them and, in the final analysis, the mother as it's her life and the child's that are at stake?

I quess factors to be taken into account would include the liklihood of success in saving the life of the unborn child or the mother through whatever treatment is on offer, as against the risks of losing both lives if nothing was done. Thereafter, other criteria would need to be decided upon.

2 March 2012 at 18:10  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Who speaks for the foetus? Suddenly, despite its right to life and its personhood, its life or death is in the hands of the person who has the most to benefit from its death.

2 March 2012 at 18:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm questioning the principle of double effect here if it's not obvious.

2 March 2012 at 18:33  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

I know that - and it is!

The principle of double effect is what it is. Why assume the mother might be driven by self-interest? If she were , the dilemma probably wouldn't arise in the first place, she'd have an abortion. And anyway she has a moral right to seek to preserve her own life by moral means. It is for her and the father to speak on the behalf of her child as its guardians - and take into account the welfare of any other family members or dependents they might have.

You just have to leave all this to the conscience and free will of the people making the decision.

2 March 2012 at 18:51  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

With HG's permission and acknowledgement to Harry's Place.

No desire to hijack or divert the OP subject but it may be of interest to see how the State of Virginia has responded to curb abortion 'on demand' - not sure that this is the right way to go about such a deeply personal and emotive issue.


http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/02/28/virginia-senate-approves-controversial-ultrasound-bill/

2 March 2012 at 19:52  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "If she were , the dilemma probably wouldn't arise in the first place, she'd have an abortion."

If the foetus had a recognised right to life then abortion wouldn't be available. That's the very thing being argued about.

"And anyway she has a moral right to seek to preserve her own life by moral means."

If one can sacrifice the right to life of another, such as the foetus, in order to save oneself then why not kill someone else to harvest their organs if one is in dire need of a kidney?

" It is for her and the father to speak on the behalf of her child as its guardians - and take into account the welfare of any other family members or dependents they might have."

If the foetus has a recognised right to life then the State has a duty to protect it. It can hardly be in the best interests of the foetus that it is killed in the process of saving the woman's life.

2 March 2012 at 20:21  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

You haven't really grasped the essence of double-effect, have you?

The essence of the moral arguement is contained in these paragraph as are the answers to your questions:

" ... direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit"

The unborn child does have a right to life and abortion is not a moral option.

It is not about "sacrificing" the right the baby's life to save oneself! It is about accepting treatment that results in the the death of the unborn child as a secondary effect. And to kill someone to harvest their organs would be grossly immoral as it would be a direct and intended act. And the baby is not killed in the best in the process of saving the woman's life, it dies as a secondary, indirect effect - that's the point.

Both mother and chld might die if the woman declines treatment. One or other might live and the mother could elect not to receive treatment in order that her child live. Alternatively, she could licitly accept treatment knowing the outcome will be the death of her baby.

2 March 2012 at 22:59  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "You haven't really grasped the essence of double-effect, have you?"

Dodo, I can read the Evangelium Vitae as easily as you. You are treating the principle of double effect (Catholic version) as an uncontestable principle. This is no surprise as you're as doctrinaire as they come, hoping that everything has been argued out for you already. All I have been doing is trying to get you to consider it from first principles, so to speak, rather than just to cut and paste Catholic doctrine.

3 March 2012 at 07:19  
Blogger len said...

Once we depart from the Divine Order of things 'anything goes' so to speak.
These discussions highlight my point.

Who is man to judge what is' right' and what is 'wrong?.'It needs an 'arbitrator' who stands apart from man to decide these points.
This is not to say do what God'says because He is God( much like a domineering parent) but has /or can man acknowledge that the Creator actually has the best interests and the well being of man as His first priority?.

3 March 2012 at 09:22  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Len:-
...can man acknowledge the Creator actually has the best interests and the well being of man as His first priority?.

No; This just doesn't stack up.

How could 'He' possibly justify 'His' action in creating such things as foetal abnormalities, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages? As may have already been said elsewhere - why does God let bad things happen to good people?

3 March 2012 at 09:41  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

But you haven't been addressing the first principles of double-effect, have you? That the end can never jusify the means is something most folk would accept. That doing something for a legitimate reason that then has as a consequence something not willed, is also something people would accept.

The premises we disagree on are the rights of the unborn child to life. You regard this as an "it" with no rights. Christians view conception as the start of a unique life made in the image and likeness of God; an innocent person with a God given entitlement to respect and protection.

The State will not protect the rights of the unborn child because the perception of when this creation is acquires status as a person has changed from conception to some future stage in pregnancy - and now some say even beyond birth.

This 'academic' paper is the logical consequence. The shift is away from responsibility for preserving life towards the convenience of those already living.

If only you were capable of understanding the meaning of
Evangelium Vitae rather than playing moral games!

The natural law on which it is based is something you reject. God's word on which it is based, you reject. Take these away and what you have left is a man made ethics without foundation.

Most people know right from wrong instinctively. This is imprinted in their consciences, implanted by God. What the anti-theists do and the secularists is mislead with clever words.

3 March 2012 at 10:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"But you haven't been addressing the first principles of double-effect, have you?"

I think I have. For the doctor, he has the choice of proceeding with the treatment in order to save the life of the woman, accepting the side-effect of killing the foetus, or of denying the woman the treatment in order to protect the life of the foetus, accepting the side-effect of the eventual death of the woman. Afterall, both have an equal right to life. I'm just probing the moral permissibility of one or other or both actions.

"The premises we disagree on are the rights of the unborn child to life."

Stepping back, I don't accept that the foetus upto a certain point has the right to life that a foetus, a baby, a child, or an adult has after that point. I'm assuming for the purpose of argument that personhood and right to life are directly related here.

I don't accept that the paper is the logical consequence of setting that point after the fusing of gametes or the start of gestation. The argument in the paper sets out a premise regarding what constitutes a person, and turns on that, as does the Catholic position, and as does my position.

I don't accept the premise in the paper at all and therefore the argument has no hold over me. The value of the paper, if it has any, is that it focuses attention on the in/ex utero distinction, and on what we mean when we talking about a person in conceptual terms.

No doubt talking about what, or who, qualifies as a person evokes notions of eugenics and subsequent disquiet. However, it's an important concept for ethics around the very start of life and the very end of life, and we need to be clear on it rather than shy away.

3 March 2012 at 11:50  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@DanJ0: My primary concern when discussing personhood is never really who qualifies (how after all can it be conclusively demonstrated either way?) - but who does the qualifying.

That's usually when the eugenics sneaks in.

3 March 2012 at 12:54  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

For the record, though:

Personhood, for me, must include those unable to defend their claim to it for it to have any moral value. 'The least of these brothers of mine' springs to mind.

3 March 2012 at 12:57  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

I would maintain it is not the doctor but the woman who makes the decision based on the exploration of options and outcomes with her doctor.

You will need to the say and justify what the "certain point" is at which a "right to life" is achieved and also what you mean by and on what basis "personhood" is established.

My position is clear - from the moment of conception there is a right to life.

3 March 2012 at 13:02  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

@Dodo:

I always used to wonder about this until I sat down one day and thought about the question in terms of "when was Jesus God"? Oh. I realised. When He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Kind of changed the way I look at this issue.

3 March 2012 at 13:12  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

My position is clear - from the moment of conception there is a right to life.

A right to life with strings of suffering attached by divine intervention - Why would a god, if there was one, be so deliberately cruel to some and not others?

When (allowing for Creationist beliefs) genetic defects make the very beginning of life outside the womb impossible without modern medical intervention - why should that alleged Creator ignore the vast numbers of mankind without such support, have to leave their children to die naturally gasping or mercifully by the hand of their grieving parent?

3 March 2012 at 13:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Dreadnaugh
There is no answer to your question other than one must accept the power and wisdom of God and conceed our own limited ability to comprehend and understand His ways and purposes.

Job conclused his challenge to God to defend Himself and His ways with these words:

"Therefore I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceeded my knowledge."

3 March 2012 at 14:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "My primary concern when discussing personhood is never really who qualifies (how after all can it be conclusively demonstrated either way?) - but who does the qualifying. That's usually when the eugenics sneaks in."

I'm not talking about purifying genetic pools, or anything like, that where someone decides what are desirable traits or attributes. For me, this is about criteria which identify things sufficiently alike to be treated alike. For a Catholic, a zygote is sufficiently alike to you or me to be treated alike in terms of personhood and the core things that follow from that. It's not to me.

3 March 2012 at 14:34  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dreadnaught why should that alleged Creator ignore the vast numbers of mankind without such support, have to leave their children to die naturally gasping or mercifully by the hand of their grieving parent?

The easy answer there is how far did God decide to intervene in His human creation. He has given a planet which has everything we need to continue perhaps until the end of time, if we husband it well. What a gift ! Isn’t that enough for you ? You talk of defects. Well, that’s just part of the package, along with psychopathic killers, barking middle eastern people, cancer and vegetarianism. Instead of crying out it’s not fair, just appreciate what we do have. One last thought. Mankind could banish much of the suffering in world by working together, but we don’t. No doubt God would remind us of the last sentence. Maybe, in His way, He does...

3 March 2012 at 14:52  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

An honest response DoDo and thank you; but it is as I already believed. For me, it takes the debate out of the realms of a supernaturally founded moral code, and leaves it to the mind and conscience of humanity to cope with, by means of its own ethical construction.

3 March 2012 at 14:59  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "I would maintain it is not the doctor but the woman who makes the decision based on the exploration of options and outcomes with her doctor."

It looks to me like you're trying to avoid confronting the point. The available options are determined by medical ethics and the enforcing law. We can see this in the story of gender-selected abortions where women ought to have been turned away by doctors when seeking treatment.

Even if we assume the woman is well-intentioned, she is surely very biased too and so complete autonomy seems overly generous here. The right to life of the foetus is potentially being overridden here so its interests must surely be weighed properly in the balance. As both have equal rights to life then something else must be added to the scales.

"You will need to the say and justify what the "certain point" is at which a "right to life" is achieved and also what you mean by and on what basis "personhood" is established."

I have done here several times in past threads to my satisfaction. In return, you need to justify your god premise to convince others. They both rely on people accepting the premises and reasoning. I'm happy to assume we're both well-intentioned in our respective positions. I know I am. The problem is, I don't accept that your god exists.

3 March 2012 at 15:09  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

AIB: "Personhood, for me, must include those unable to defend their claim to it for it to have any moral value."

Me too, actually.

3 March 2012 at 15:17  
Blogger len said...

Danjo,How could 'He' possibly justify 'His' action in creating such things as foetal abnormalities, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages? As may have already been said elsewhere - why does God let bad things happen to good people?.

When God created man He said he was good(man that is ) all Creation was good..... a perfect order.

So what happened?.

Man changed allegiances and thereby gave his God given authority to rule and reign (under God ( to Satan.
Satan was then able to bring death, disease and corruption into this perfect World.
So who is responsible and who is still responsible for 'allowing this 'to happen?.

Certainly not God!.

3 March 2012 at 15:28  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0
My starting position is that the woman would be acting within a moral framework and that her choice consisted of weighting the risk to her own life against that of her unborn child. Of receiving treatment to save her own kife or declining it to preserve the life of her child. I'm assuming that the direct and intentionalkilling of that child id discounted as an option.

And for me you have never adequately clarified when a "right to life" is achieved nor properly defined "personhood". I would not link the two in any event as the latter is a socially constructed concept whereas the former should not be.

3 March 2012 at 15:33  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

The easy answer there is how far did God decide to intervene in His human creation

Sorry IoG - That does not sound like the quality of work I would expect from a master creator - more likely I suppose it's what I would expect from a six day rush job which should have taken much longer.;-)

I personally prefer to believe in the evidence of science that the world is four and a half billion years old and we are a recently evolved and indeed a still evolving life form.

How or what a Universe is, or how it came about is at the moment beyond scientific knowledge to claim and rather unimportant in comparison to the daily deliberations that directly affect us individually. The seven billion plus of us existing today, do so as a member of just one of any number of extinct or extant species that to inhabit(or have inhabited) this planet.

For all I know, and just between themselves of course, ants can justify their existence and behaviour with their own version of religion and believe in it - who knows or more importantly who cares - apart from the ants.

3 March 2012 at 15:41  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"My starting position is that the woman would be acting within a moral framework and that her choice consisted of weighting the risk to her own life against that of her unborn child."

It's a trade of exactly one life for exactly one life. The intended good of saving her own life is matched by the foreseen harm done by killing the foetus. Both parties have an equal right to life.

3 March 2012 at 15:49  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Len you are endorsing the premise of guilt by association for the entire mass of humanity to explain the natural phenomena of imperfect life-forms - with respect for your right to chose a framework for living - I just don't buy in to your logic or conclusion.

3 March 2012 at 15:51  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dreadnaught: "For all I know, and just between themselves of course, ants can justify their existence and behaviour with their own version of religion and believe in it - who knows or more importantly who cares - apart from the ants."

I bet their god has two antennae as well and favours altruism.

3 March 2012 at 15:53  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Len. What absolute guff you come out with. Your idea of evolutionary creation is ridiculous. Unless you’re foolish enough to believe Genesis is the verbatim truth !!

3 March 2012 at 16:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dreadnaught. I personally prefer to believe in the evidence of science that the world is four and a half billion years old and we are a recently evolved and indeed a still evolving life form..

Agreed. Just insert a laissez faire God in there to fulfil ‘cause and effect’ and you have it....

3 March 2012 at 16:09  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

DanJo - but of course - chortle.

3 March 2012 at 16:13  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Dreadnaught
Please don't misunderstand me.

I believe God has given us the means to understand His purpose and Will for us. Our consciences, our innate sense of right and wrong, His written Word and His Incarnation are sufficient to work most things out.

However, just why specific bad things are permitted to occur, or why particular forms of evil are allowed to manifest, and why these things strike the innocent as well as the bad is ultimately a mystery.

Ultimately we have to trust in the goodness of God.

"Surely as I have thought, so shall it be: and as I have purposed, so shall it fall out".
(Isa 14:24)

3 March 2012 at 16:13  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Each to our own Mr DoDo - namaste.

3 March 2012 at 16:45  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0 said ...

"It's a trade of exactly one life for exactly one life. The intended good of saving her own life is matched by the foreseen harm done by killing the foetus. Both parties have an equal right to life."

Not sure I'd use the term 'trade off' in these situations but, yes, it is weighting up which outcome is best in all the circumstances and making a decision.

However, crucially, there would be no direct, willed killing of either mother or child. One would die and one would live as a secondary effect of the choice.

3 March 2012 at 17:40  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

Everyone active in the pro-life movement knows that infanticide has been going on for decades, and for exactly the reason now openly given: between late pregnancy and the neonatal stage, the child has merely changed address.

The same is true of sex-selective abortion (and infanticide), perfectly legal if a note can be produced saying that having a child of the "wrong" sex would drive the mother round the bend, or would lay her open to physical punishment by her husband or another relative, a claim for which nothing so vulgar as evidence is expected to be produced, any more than anything so vulgar as evidence was expected to be produced by the pioneers of the anti-natal movement when they made, as their successors still make, outlandish claims about the drunkenness and violence of working-class men.

And the same is true of race-selective abortion (and infanticide), perfectly legal if a note can be produced saying that having a child of the "wrong" colour or ethnic, such as caste, background would drive the mother round the bend, or would lay her open to physical punishment by her father or another relative, a claim for which nothing so vulgar as evidence is expected to be produced, any more than anything so vulgar as evidence was expected to be produced by the pioneers of the anti-natal movement when they made, as their successors still make, outlandish claims about the drunkenness and violence of working-class men.

First sex selection has been exposed after all these years. Now infanticide has been, too. With any luck, if that is the right way of putting it, ethnic selection will be next. Better late than never, I suppose. But, in all three cases, very, very, very late indeed.

3 March 2012 at 21:02  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Inspector said ...
Len. What absolute guff you come out with.

In this instance there is a kernel of truth in what he says - it's just the way he has presented it.

The message of Genesis is that man rejected God's oversight of us and chose to take upon himself responsibility for himself. Man sought to be like and then replace God. The Book of Job reminds us that regardless of this our ultimate destiny is in God's hands.

4 March 2012 at 11:41  
Blogger Unknown said...

@JRW, you were wrong. Your son is a gift from God, even though he's blind. God has given you a blind son and He knows why. I know you can't understand it, nobody can. But it is wrong to say that he should have been killed, for you wouldn't do a good thing by letting the doctors kill him, you'd only hurt your own soul.
Remember that it's better to have a blind, but good son, a son that is a good person, than a son who sees perfectly, but isn't a good person.
I pray that the Lord may bless you, your son and your family.

4 March 2012 at 15:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This piece in the Telegraph chimes for me in a morally intuitive sense.

4 March 2012 at 19:45  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

But doesn't it actually avoid answering its own central question?

" ... both groups place newborns and foetuses in essentially the same camp, in which the moment of birth itself has little meaning. In the authors’ view, neither foetuses nor newborns are “actual persons” and therefore both could be justifiably extinguished according to the superior will of adults. In the view of anti-abortionists, both newborns and foetuses are indeed “actual persons” and the termination of either is wholesale murder. I would prefer the latter argument to the former, of course, but I don’t quite agree with it either."

She doesn't 'quite agree' agree with the latter viewpoint because she abandons moral ethics and gets into instinct and sentiment. She also fudges the fact that it is about potentiality of personhood that makes the moment of conception critical for pro-life groups.

4 March 2012 at 22:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

She's favours gradualism in this, which is actually the prevailing ethics. In the absence of a belief in your mystical, or mythical, god-given-right-to-life, she's proceeding on a notion of value as demonstrated in the real world by shared emotional responses.

I think she's on to something, at least until the foetus has sufficient attributes to be considered a person. At that point, I think they have an inherent value equal to the inherent value of its mother. At this point, assessing using the principle of double effect becomes more difficult.

Rights are a social construct. One might argue that an inclination towards recognising a right-to-life comes from some sort of natural law following on from our gregarious self-awareness but nevertheless a right-to-life is established in and by human society.

5 March 2012 at 06:54  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0:
I'm no expert but isn't part of the 'natural law' argument that no person would will itself out of existance and so noone can morally do so either? Once life has started then the process of 'personhood' begins. All things being equal, would such a 'person' agree to their own destruction, given the chance?

5 March 2012 at 12:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "All things being equal, would such a 'person' agree to their own destruction, given the chance?"

There is no person in a zygote. At least by my criteria. No thought. No experience. No feeling. Nothing. It's a set of DNA with the potential to develop into a person given the right environment and a fair wind.

Perhaps I ought to wheel out the cut-to-the-quick animal rights test here. Now, some animal rights people claim on paper that a mouse and a person have an equal right to life, and I have some sympathy with that, but it's a testable assertion and I think the same sort of test can be used here.

So, we have a hypothetical dilemma in front of us. On the one hand, we have the just-fused gametes forming a zygote inside a woman. On the other, we have a hostage being held by a psycopath. The psychopath sets up a choice: if the zygote is not killed then the hostage will have all her limbs removed instead. If the zygote is killed then the hostage will go free.

It seems to me that a form of the double effect principle applies here and the proportionality clause is surely triggered. That is, taking the life of a person is nominally worse than taking just the limbs of a person, I'd say.

Now, if I have to make the choice then the zygote gets it every time. I don't really have to think about it. If three limbs are at stake then it still gets it. It's the same for two limbs, and even one limb. A finger on one hand, too.

So, how about over in the Catholic camp? Does the zygote get it? Do the limbs get it? If there's some sort of calculus that weighs in favour of killing the zygote then how little can the woman be mutiliated before the scales swing back? Saving the zygote is, of course, a valid answer.

5 March 2012 at 18:20  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0: are you really that supercilious? You really are not worth engaging in a discussion given your lack of respect for the subject matter.

The 'Catholic camp' would not give in to evil. You work out just what that means for the woman and the unborn child.

And you've evaded my point. The 'zygote' is a 'person in process'. Would that person will its own non-existance? If not, then by what right do we?

5 March 2012 at 20:58  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Ps

Let's say you were that 'zygote' DanJ0. Might this change your viewpoint?

5 March 2012 at 21:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Let's say you were that 'zygote' DanJ0. Might this change your viewpoint?"

No. If I were the sperm before it then the view would be the same. If I were the twinkle in the man's eye then the view would be the same. That is, I have no view because I'm a sperm or the twinkle in that case.

6 March 2012 at 00:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "The 'Catholic camp' would not give in to evil. You work out just what that means for the woman and the unborn child."

I'm inviting you to be clear on the matter since you have consistently avoided being so when detailed examples are presented.

You're saying that you'd allow everything short of the death of the hostage in this case to save the zygote? Yes or no?

6 March 2012 at 00:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Incidentally, I've found a very early picture of me, day-dreaming about what life holds in store. I felt like I had so many choices back then. Ah those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end. We'd sing and dance, forever and a day. Etc.

6 March 2012 at 01:29  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "And you've evaded my point. The 'zygote' is a 'person in process'. Would that person will its own non-existance? If not, then by what right do we?"

It wasn't so much evading as not accepting or even understanding the natural law claims you wrote. If you'd linked to the website you got that from then I'd have had more of a chance. The problem is, you Catholics have your own special version of Natural Law to suit yourselves.

But anyway, you provide the basis of an answer in your own words up there. The zygote is not a person in process, with a fair wind it's a process leading to a person. A significant difference there.

6 March 2012 at 06:41  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

I notice someone else has now picked up on JRW's much earlier post (the one about his blind son being a curse from God for his wife's infidelity, and cheerfully having him euthanased to erase the shame).

I don't know if JRW, for whom I feel very sorry, is a Christian, but if he is, then he needs to read his Bible a little more closely:

John, 9.1 ff. - "As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'"

As a society, we have remebered the last bit of that passage very well, but too often forgotten the first bit.

6 March 2012 at 11:03  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

There would be no moral justification fort dirctly killing the zygote - period. To do so would be an act of murder.

You were a zygote once. What say you about having your life terminated in the womb for the convenience of others?

6 March 2012 at 11:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo, the answer is the same no matter how many times and no matter how many ways you ask it. I don't lose sleep over the fact that I might not have been here except for a particular set of circumstances. I don't lose sleep over the fact that i was formed from one sperm and not another. Your potential person thing doesn't cut much ice with me, I'm afraid.

I'm pleased you've impaled yourself on that particular horn of the dilemma. I don't think you could have done otherwise really though I wonder whether your moral intuition actually tells you otherwise. I use the principle of double effect there as well and come out with a very different answer. As long as I am well-intentioned, I am acting in a morally good way too.

6 March 2012 at 11:52  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0

It's no a dilema at all for me.

You have no solid moral foundation for your ethics. They are relative and contingent rather than based on a set of precepts to guide action.

I'm not saying you're a 'bad' person or malign - just wrong!

6 March 2012 at 14:19  
Blogger CSPB said...

Danjo said "There is no person in a zygote ... It's a set of DNA ..."

Your arguments are based on a false premise. A zygote is not a set of DNA. A human is much more than its full DNA sequencing. The quantum mechanical nature of matter is holistic. Indeed, the very existence of individual molecues is questionable. It is a serious misconception to treat the human as some kind mechanical computing device. It makes no sense to equate a DNA code -a mere string of letters- with the corresponding biological object.

6 March 2012 at 14:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "You have no solid moral foundation for your ethics."

As far as I can tell, a solid moral foundation doesn't exist for anyone. You've bought one off the shelf from your Catholic shop and you hope the many assertions on which it is based are true. I doubt very much that they are. That's the thing, people like you seem to need the security and clarity a C.O.T.S. product like that provides. I'm more of a realist myself.

6 March 2012 at 16:56  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

What it's based on is reason with or without the existance of God.

Assuming you're rational and of sound mind, would you as a person will your own non-existance? Could you actually will your non-existance? So what gives you or anybody else the right to end the existance of another, zygote or not?

6 March 2012 at 17:35  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Assuming you're rational and of sound mind, would you as a person will your own non-existance? Could you actually will your non-existance?"

Yes, of course. I nearly did when I was an undergrad and I was rational and of sound mind.

Dodo, you go round and round and round and round in circles. A zygote is not a person. How many times must it be said? You're simply making an assertion of your own. I don't share your belief. Of course it's not a person.

A zygote has no mind. It has no brain. It has almost nothing other than a potential to be a person at some much later stage of development. It has some ethical value because of that but nowhere near that of a person. Nowhere near it.

You're flopping around with that dilemma horn stuck in your chest because you want to had a Catholic Club Membership Card and that belief is one of the requirements of it. Well, enjoy your membership but I'm afraid lots of us don't rate your club nor feel obliged to follow its rules.

6 March 2012 at 18:19  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

And you either cannot grasp the point being made or you're deliberately dodging it.

It's not whether a zygote has consciousness - of course it hasn't. As you say it has "potential to be a person at some much later stage of development".

The fact that it will become self aware is the moral and ethical point. Who has the right to terminate this potential? And that's why the question whether you would will you own non-existance before becoming a person is important - an entirely different question to your right to commit suicide.

It's nothing to do with being a Catholic, so do stop banging this drum as if it discredits the point. It just makes you sound childish.

6 March 2012 at 19:27  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "And you either cannot grasp the point being made or you're deliberately dodging it."

If I will my non-existence, to use your weird and tortured phrase, then I'm simply willing a different history where I don't exist. So what? Every little decision I make creates a different future to the one which might have existed if I had decided otherwise. What would I actually lose willing my non-existence? Nothing. It would never have existed for me. History would continue without the potential me, but possibly with someone else in my stead because of the changed circumstances.

"The fact that it will become self aware is the moral and ethical point. Who has the right to terminate this potential?"

The woman carrying it has the right while it is not a person. It's just potential, slowly accruing more. It has some moral value but it's not a person. It doesn't have anything like as much moral value as a person. It doesn't count as equal in moral calculus, unless one is a Catholic working to religious assumptions.

Potentiality is not actuality. If it were then being celibate, like a conforming Catholic priest, denies the world potential people too. Every time a Catholic priest suppresses his natural sexual appetites, he potentially denies a potential person their personhood. Those non-existing persons cry out in their tiny, non-existing voices to be born. Well, to a Catholic anyway I suppose.

6 March 2012 at 20:34  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

DanJ0, let's leave it there before you descend further down your usual path and fallback on personal abuse. You're already resorting to needless abuse of Catholicism.

As you've said: "What would I actually lose willing my non-existence? Nothing."

6 March 2012 at 21:04  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Good. Arguing morality with a Catholic is like talking to the television set.

6 March 2012 at 21:30  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

I pity the television set in your set in your house!

6 March 2012 at 21:54  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Forgot to say, you couldn't will your own non-existance because you would have to exist to do so. Get it now?

6 March 2012 at 22:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

For'goodness'sake Dodo, you've done it to death and it still hasn't done the job you hope. Get a better argument, hey.

7 March 2012 at 18:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

I didn't think to persuade you or 'win' a debate. Just wanted to put forward the moral objection to abortion and expose the emptiness of the ethics of those in favour of it.

I am quite satisfied I achieved my objectives.

7 March 2012 at 20:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I dunno about willing one's own non-existence but I'm beginning to lose the will to live here now.

7 March 2012 at 21:20  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "I am quite satisfied I achieved my objectives."

Top tip: just say "I'm a Catholic fanboi and I bought the standard product". People can say "I'm not and I think the product sucks" in return and the world is balanced again. Much more efficient all round.

7 March 2012 at 21:21  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Except my position requires thought and a simple eloquence of argument. Your's by comparison is clumsy and crude. It's also based on an attempt to justify your own amoral lifestyle. Always a give away.

7 March 2012 at 23:05  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "Except my position requires thought and a simple eloquence of argument."

It's an off the shelf product you've just bought in and it relies on holding special religious beliefs. If the premises are not actually true, as they don't appear to be, then it's just an artifical construct. The best you can really say as far as right-to-life is concerned is that your arbitrary point of assignment is clearly defined. So what.

You just like the partisan clarity and paint-by-numbers thinking it gives you. But it's a distortion and, like other similar religious distortions such as Islam, it often makes simple, sheep-like people like you who are drawn to manuals-for-living behave in an immoral, counter-intuitive way. Hats off to the conditioning process though, the product may suck but the fanbois don't seem to mind.

8 March 2012 at 07:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

You know I'm just playing with you here, right? You need to have the last word, including the oligatory barb, to set your mind at rest and I'm not letting you. It's an old Catholic trait, that. A legacy when your Church actually controlled people through the social structure under threat of punishment and potentially death. It can't bear independent thought or dissent or contempt, and it attracts either control freaks or sheeple.

8 March 2012 at 07:16  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

And you are the font of all humanist reason and intellect? Your premises are your own little constructs. You wrestle with their contradictory nature and can just about accomodate anything. A J.S. Mills you aint, though you like to pretend to be. Mine do not rely on a belief in God at all. The natural law argument stands on its own as reason.

As for the last word, you're welcome. By my count these last two posts were in excess of one word though.

8 March 2012 at 09:46  

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