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I wanted to be short on that. Main purpose was to explain what my view was, not why I have that view.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 08:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have the informational approach to assume if there is all DNA together it is worth protecting.

ok So If DNA is worth protecting (and that to start with is an enormous if) then I have several questions.

  1. what makes the DNA in embryos special? should we equally ban sunbathing, as a single days session will kill more DNA laden cells than  a  several week in abortion?

  2. if you still insist on following the DNA path, then the body naturally destroys several million DNA laden cells in the act of creation,  why do you consider the  sperm that makes it to fertilise the egg instantly worthy of legal protection?

  3. what makes human DNA carrying cells superior to animal dna carrying cells?

  4. If you want to follow a biblical line, then the bible says that the  embryo isn't a living thing till around week 15, at the point when the circulation starts, why is your personal definition of life different to the bible?

Why is an anti-abortion stance congruent with a conservative stance? I don't personally see any reason why it would be specifically conservative, unless you wish to see the return of the 1950's family model where women are removed from the workforce as a conservative objective. And that would only make sense with a raising of wages so that a single persons work could support an entire family.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 08:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Easy to answer: I have an informational approach. If you kill one cell, nothing is lost. The information and the potential to become a fully drown human is still there. If you divide the embryo into two and kill one of the two, nothing is lost to that point. If you kill the last cell, it is dead. With time more information is added and gemini are not the same, but at birth they are actually still very similar.
  2. Same answer.
  3. Human DNA can make humans, animal DNA can make animals? I'm not a vegatarian.
  4. I don't follow the biblical approach. But the reason the church wants protection of embryos as early as possible is the fear that the respect for life will erode with time. There is no other clear cut, which non-biologists can see. To take birth is just rediculous after it is possible to see the baby in the womb with modern technology.
In Peru I met an development worker (who pretty much had the same views than I had on these issues) and told that the native Peruvians actually use a natural way to prevent (or not) pregnancies, which actually didn't prevent, but aborted (very early). I found that OK, as the native Peruvians have not all these technology to view the embryo all the time.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 09:12:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does your respect for life include respect to nature, to the beings living a suffering life in intoxicated environments, deprived habitats? How does your information approach work regarding vanishing species?

Is it only phenotypical expression of human DNA that is important to you? How about decent chances for happiness, love as requisite for fulfilled human life? If even the mother cannot be happy with a born child, how much is that human life worth? What if the society welcomes the child with a high rent, and best prospects for a bit of wealth in the form of meat packing, or drug dealing, or strip dancing job? What if the child is assured to see deteriorating social and common physical infrastructure because of runaway state debt?

Paul Krugman writes in the latest column:

"Poverty in early childhood poisons the brain." That was the opening of an article in Saturday's Financial Times, summarizing research presented last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As the article explained, neuroscientists have found that "many children growing up in very poor families with low social status experience unhealthy levels of stress hormones, which impair their neural development." The effect is to impair language development and memory -- and hence the ability to escape poverty -- for the rest of the child's life.

[Living] in or near poverty has always been a form of exile, of being cut off from the larger society. But the distance between the poor and the rest of us is much greater than it was 40 years ago, because most American incomes have risen in real terms while the official poverty line has not. To be poor in America today, even more than in the past, is to be an outcast in your own country. And that, the neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child's brain.

by das monde on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 10:32:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does your respect for life include respect to nature, to the beings living a suffering life in intoxicated environments, deprived habitats? How does your information approach work regarding vanishing species?
Of course. Actually vanishing species are a very important issue. One beetle isn't much different than any other beetle and if it dies not much is lost. But a whole category of beetles vanishing might well be worth to sacrifice one's life to rescue them.

I don't think happiness is the main goal of live and adoption is an option.
However, I think the condition less basic income (for the Germans, I think the variant of Althaus is quite acceptible) is a possebility to prevent exploitation as you describe in your link. It would give everybody 600 Euro plus health insurance without condition. If this is achievable in Germany it is as well achievable in the US, as both countries are similar rich.
In Germany actually I can't see runaway state debt. In the US it is due to military imperialism and because of special treatment of the very rich. I have read that investment banker in the US pay less tax the a middle income worker.

I read Paul Krugman's columns regularly and like most very much. He advocates free markets internationally, as this helps the poor. Internationally inequality is declining, 100s of millions of Asian, South American and African people could make it out of absolut poverty.
Domestically he favours more help for the poor than in the US, but in Germany he is an economic rightwinger. A week or two ago there was an interview with the Krugman in the FAZ (the most important conservative newspaper in Germany). He was asked, if he really wants the US becoming more like Germany. He said, he would like the US to go a quarter in the direction of Germany and then analyse ones more. So likely he would like to see Germany to go about half the way in the direction of the US.

Little translation American to German political coordiantes as I see it.


party     US                                 Germany     party
GOP       conservative                        economic fascist, social ultra conservative
Dems      liberal                             liberal       FDP  
          socialist (econ.), social mod-con.  conservative   CDU
          communist                           socialdemocrat SPD
         beyond imagination                   (Post/-)Kommunisten Die Linke
Greens    greens                              greens       greens

The difference between fascists and conservatives is, that fascists use the gov to enrich corporations, conservatives are critical to high gov influence.

The US is not conservative and has no small gov. If you add non-state health care expenditures to the state quote in the US, it is as big as in Germany. Just the US funnels its money to the military and into prisons, while Germany pays for welfare.

With the very poor choice of parties in the US I would vote green in the US.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think happiness is the main goal of live and adoption is an option.

Surely, happiness discussion might get very broad. What I want to stress is having decent chances for happiness, love.

I appreciate your concern of life in nature, and of exploited human lives. But is there anything could and should be done? What is here the "right" conservative attitude? Why protection of fetus could be enforced, while protection of nature and human dignity not?

How fair conservatives should decide which problems and threats require common attention and contribution? If it is becoming clear that human suffering increases with forced supply of cheap cheap labour force, and that the Earth is suffering from hyper-consumption by humans (and perhaps overpopulation), why stick to stubborn creeds that evidently magnify bad troubles and risks? That does not look ethically intelligent.

I wonder what happened to the notion of conservativism   as the attitude not to be over-enthusiastic with new ideas or enforcement possibilities. In this light, Krugman's "quarter" size determination is pretty conservative: make first limited steps, see how that works in America, and then - why not - possibly go another "quarter" further. He is not advocating Germany to shift by 3 quarters towards American social relations, is he?

It is the European pro-corporate reformists who look more like some "progressive follies" than conservative. European social networks were not breaking - why to reform so eagerly? Is globalization competition really that vitally overwhelming and sustainable?

(As for free market reducing international inequality, there are different opinions of it; see here and here.)

by das monde on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding exploited human lives, have you read my comment? People should have the possibility to simply reject jobs as you have described them. I have never and will never advocate getting rid of the welfare system (which in the US was abolished by Bill Clinton). I'm not aware that ever any politician in Germany has ever suggested that seriously. So Bill Clinton would be too much of neocon, to even be in a 5% party.

Nature is complex and it is very difficult for me to give distant advice to the US on that. However, I think global warming may be extremely dangerous and is international.
The US should drastically increase taxes on carbon emissions. For Germany, well have you read the diary(?), I do not advocate to reduce taxes on gas, but not taxing a standing car (and I don't have a car and try to avoid to need one as possible). I would like to see as well taxing of heating oil, natural gas, fertilizer. And I'm for a longer use of nuclear power, which is quite the line of the conservative party in Germany. But private people have as well to do a lot and are often more effective than the gov.

To Consumption, have you really read the diary (?), I have already made clear that I don't think the steady increase is that much sustainable and have critisised the GDPism of the CDU. Overpopulation may be an international problem, but in Germany we have a declining number of inhabitants despite the people become older and older. This will lead as well to problems and I doubt that immigration can solve all the problems especially as there are no German speaking former colonies.

"I wonder what happened to the notion of conservativism   as the attitude not to be over-enthusiastic with new ideas or enforcement possibilities."
First I'm accused to want to go back to the 50s and then this...

Again, have you read my comment? I have not suggested Germany should go 3/4 in the direction of America, but only one half. There are so many single political issues and it is not even always clear what is right and what is left (some left-leaning people agree e.g. that our Riesterrente, something similar like your 401(k) is bad). As nature economy is complex and one would have to debate single issues.

"It is the European pro-corporate reformists"
You are once more confusing fascists and conservatives. I'm not pro-corporate (at least not if my dictionary is right about the definition of corporation). Big corporations can often easily avoiding the employment laws, while only small business partnerships are suffering from the strict rules and e.g. avoid to employ more than 20 people if this means new rules. Actually the socialists are much closer to the big corporations than conservatives. They advocate more subsidies for settling corporations, they advocate collective agreement which help the big corporations to get rid of smaller concurrents and advocate exceptions for the big corporations if they get in trouble, why the small companies, which can't outsource easily are ignored. Endless rules and bureaucracy make it difficult to start a business. The US has its good aspects and I would like to take them without copying everything. I would like to have a google, yahoo, microsoft, ebay, facebook or so.
German social networks were in danger to break. Social security has been fixed now, but it still would be better if the demographic situation would be better, e.g. more children.

With regard to globally decreasing inequality I was referring to income gini. Your sources are just talk, if you like numbers, you will like this page.
The Chinese source is mainly talking about what developing countries should or should not do. That's not the point. The point is, that we should be open for them. US protectionism would have killed the Chinese economic miracle. And our openness is exactly what makes the pressure on wages in our countries. In 20 years this is over. Let China, India and Brasil become half as rich as the developed world and you will see that gloablisation starts to become a better game for workers. In the meantime the go has to help those who can't live from their work in the developed world.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:23:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never and will never advocate getting rid of the welfare system (which in the US was abolished by Bill Clinton).

Ronald Reagan and Bush the Greater, actually. Clinton just presided over the funeral. But hey, who's counting.

I would like to have a google, yahoo, microsoft, ebay, facebook or so.

Actually, I could do without a Microsoft in the Union. Microsoft should never, ever, in any properly managed universe have become as big as they did. In fact, they should have been killed off in their fight against IBM which had a clearly superior system but unfortunately also had clearly inferior lawyers.

That being said, however:

  • I see your eBay and raise you a Skype.

  • I see your Google and raise you a Nokia.

  • I see your Yahoo and raise you a Zentropa.

  • I see your FaceBook and raise you a Kazaa.

It is not at all obvious that Europe offers less fertile grounds for creative start-up companies - whether in the IT sector or anywhere else.

And I would point out that in quite a lot of areas, Europe is doing a lot better than the US:

  • US cars, for example are notorious for their inability to handle even moderately unfriendly weather conditions.

  • European power plants are better across the board than their American counterparts.

  • When was the last time an American railroad ran on time?

  • Hollywood.

And our openness is exactly what makes the pressure on wages in our countries. In 20 years this is over. Let China, India and Brasil become half as rich as the developed world and you will see that gloablisation starts to become a better game for workers.

A rather deterministic view of history for a non-Marxist. If their labour organises, if labour unions don't undercut each other across country borders and if something serious is done about flag-of-convenience countries, then yes. But all three will require political will and political action.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 06:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have this about the welfare from Paul Krugman.
Of course I think that Reagan and Bush were more against social spending. It was an even Clinton is not "liberal" (in the US sense of the word) enough on economics and not a defending of Reagan or Bush.

I dislike Microsoft as well and I'm rarely using it. However, it is a big company which has managed to make most schools using their system. Being good at engineering isn't enough. Zuse invented the first computer, the Fraunhofer institute invented MP3, both technologies became big in the US.

With regard to companies you may be right, it may be a cultural bias of the media I use, which gives me a false impression.

If you any economic theory which would make it useful for a country to have huge current account surpluses forever, I could agree, that it is arbitrary to assume, that things change from alone, but I have never heard of that. It would make sense for an Chinese emperor to let is slaves work all day for foreigners.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:25:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you any economic theory which would make it useful for a country to have huge current account surpluses forever, I could agree, that it is arbitrary to assume, that things change from alone, but I have never heard of that.

Mercantilism.

For that matter, there is no real reason to assume that the Chinese government considers economy to be overridingly more important than other strategic interests. That kind of thinking is a Western(TM) peculiarity. It's entirely possible that the Chinese leadership is perfectly content with having lower than possible economic efficiency if that means that it will have a more solid grasp around the balls of several other major powers.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 10:36:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still doubt that it makes sense and I think a creditor is not always in the better situation compared with a debtor.

And if e.g. China would use Mercantilism even after having an overall decent standard of living, we could still start protectionist measures to defend ourselves against them. But up to now this is not the case and western protectionism would really hurt a lot of poor people (and has done it in the last years on agricultural protectionism).

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 09:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't comment on your last bit.
It is conservative for at least reasons. First it is about individual rights of the new human. OK you might call that libertarian instead of conservative, but I still support that. Second the church support it and the church in general cares a lot about rights of people who have not the right to vote, so it is consistent with its other positions.
Actually if all aborted babies in Germany would be born instead of being killed, we would have pretty much exactly the number of children which would make each generation the same size. I can't see at all, why this would remove all women from the workplace. Are all in women in France removed from the workplace, where women have this number of babies despite abortion is legal? Are no women in Ireland working, where abortion is illegal and seen as negative by really many people?

But of course a median income should be enough to support a family. After decades of increased productivity, it is rather strange if suddenly people too poor to support a family. If you have read the post I have explicitly stated, that the gov is doing too little for multi child families, but of course people have to be as well sufficient. When my older brother was born, both my parents were students. I got an own room with about ten (1992). Today many see an own room for a child as mandatory, but I don't think I suffered. An own TV I think is even damaging. So what?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 09:35:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First it is about individual rights of the new human.

One thing I like to ask people who run this line of argument is whether they think I have a right to one of their kidneys if I have a total kidney failure?

If you outlaw abortions, you are saying that the embryo has a right to use a uterus. If we accept that line of reasoning - for which I guess there is a case to be made, even if I disagree with it - then by the same logic, I would argue that a terminally ill kidney patient - which is indisputably a human being worthy of protection - would have the right to one of the two kidneys a healthy person has.

And before you argue that the analogy breaks down because a kidney transplant is a more invasive procedure than birth, let me remind you that childbirth used to be one of the leading (non-violent) causes of death for women of reproductive age, and that even in impoverished third-world countries (perhaps especially in impoverished third-world countries) many people live out their entire adult lives lacking one of their kidneys. So it's not all that clear that a transplant is more invasive than a pregnancy at all.

Second the church support it and the church in general cares a lot about rights of people who have not the right to vote

I laugh so I don't cry. The Church has the most appalling human rights record of any current regime except maybe the Bushists and North Korea. I see no evidence that the 'rights of people' - voting age or not - play any role at all in their thinking.

If they cared about human rights, they would ask that the Spanish and Italian states revoked their legally privileged status, which is in direct contravention of freedom of religion. By way of contrast, recall the infantile temper tantrum Herr Ratzinger threw when Zapatero revoked the Church's (highly profitable) right to appoint religious studies teachers in Spanish schools without being subjected to any kind of government oversight.

Any talk about human rights that comes out of the Papacy is pure, self-serving propaganda.

Actually if all aborted babies in Germany would be born instead of being killed, we would have pretty much exactly the number of children which would make each generation the same size.

But that is a silly assumption for a number of reasons. I'll mention back-door abortion providers and infanticide and leave the rest of the reasons as an exercise for the reader.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 05:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Commenting on that rubbish is a waste of time.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 02:07:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Riiiight.

OK, so what about just taking a shot on the first one? Please, do explain to me why a woman should have more control of her kidney than her uterus. Both are her organs. Both are needed to support what you claim is a person worthy of protection. With modern medical science, a kidney transplant isn't noticeably more invasive (or risky) than a pregnancy (noticeably less so in many ways, in fact).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 10:31:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems pretty much for me that you assume that not doing everything to prevent somebody else's death is the same as killing somebody. That is what I think is complete rubbish. Everyday most people do not everything they can do to prevent unnecessary death (in there is a damn lot of unnecessary death especially in Africa and in Asia and everybody can do a lot to stop it). That doesn't make everybody a murderer, your comparison is therefore absolutely invalid.
By the way, if a child would die due to kidney failure and for whatever reason one parent would be the only person who could save it with an organ transplantation, and he would not do it, I wouldn't advocate gov punishment, but I would think he is an extreme asshole.

The argument about that abortion would be done then illegal is the one to take more seriously. But it largely rejects the fact that we live in a consensus democracy. If abortion would be made illegal (in theory it is illegal in Germany although the public insurance pays for it) it would be based on a relatively broad acceptance that it should be illegal. The main goal for stopping abortion is not lobbying the gov, but change people's mindset.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 09:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems pretty much for me that you assume that not doing everything to prevent somebody else's death is the same as killing somebody.

Well, no, I don't. I assume that people should have full control of what their internal organs are used for.

If the mother does not donate her uterus, the foetus dies. If I don't donate my kidney, a kidney patient somewhere dies. If the mother does donate her uterus, she goes through an invasive surgical procedure that will render her unable to carry out many lines of work for several months. If I donate my kidney, I have to go through an invasive surgical procedure, but at the associated downtime will usually be on the order of days or weeks, not months.

It would appear to me, then, that kidney donations are less invasive than uterus donations. So why, again, should uterus donations be mandatory while kidney donations remain voluntary?

And I don't buy your commission/omission logic either. Going through labour is - as the term alludes to - a rather laborious task, so it is by no means clear that denying the foetus use of the uterus is the more invasive action to take.

Consider, if you will, a stowaway found on a ship. The stowaway was hoping to get to Europe to work. If the captain kicks him off the ship at the next port of call, the stowaway will lose a not inconsiderable sum of money.

He's already on the ship, so kicking him out is indisputably an active commission, whereas carrying him until he leaves voluntarily would maintain the status quo. Since the captain is making an active effort to deny the stowaway the use of his ship, and since the stowaway stands to lose money from the captain's action, the captain's actions are morally equivalent to stealing the stowaway's money, no?

If abortion would be made illegal (in theory it is illegal in Germany although the public insurance pays for it) it would be based on a relatively broad acceptance that it should be illegal.

  1. 50 % + 1 is a majority, so - well - no, not necessarily.

  2. Quite a lot of people are hypocrites, who are perfectly fine with prohibiting something for everyone else while partaking in it themselves. Think Ted Haggard and whatshisname with the bathroom stall. Even quite a few of the "picketers" who regularly harass and threaten Planned Parenthood clinics in the US have abortions themselves when they are accidentally impregnated (sorry, I've lost the link, and Google has about a bazillion results for all the related search terms I can think of).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 10:09:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't expect the mother to donate her uterus, I expect her not to ask others to kill the embryo, e.g. to do nothing. There are several rights in this case, which contradict each other and I think not killing has the top priority.

The example with the stowaway is one of the most challanging moral problems, which I know of. The captain is defenitivly not stealing any money of the stowaway, as the stowaway has not paid the captain to transfer him to Europe. However, sending back refugees to Afrika with the full knowledge of the situation they can expect there can be called a crime without my objection.
It is very difficult to apply global moral standards, when other countries are involved on which actions we don't have influence, but if one does it, border protection against a country with a dearth can be called a crime.

  1. Most people don't argue on principle and even those who do often agree in compromises, which viewed on its own don't make sense. There are a lot of gradual regulations of abortion, e.g. the time, consultation requirements, specific regulation in case of medical indication or rape, law enforement, ...  In Germany we have a consensus democracy in which rarely a 49% minority is completely disregarded.

  2. I don't know Ted Haggart, but I know that the leaders of the "Christian right" in the USA are mostly hypocrites. I think it is as well hypocritical e.g. to rally against S-CHIP and being "pro-life" (it seems in the US saying I'm for something is much more popular than saying I'm against something) or to support a war or desatrous sanctions and being "pro-life". I only can say that I and most people I know who are against abortion are not hypocrites, at least not on that issue. I think as well, that such a degree of hypocracy as seen on the "Christian right" in the US, would have much higher backlash in the "Ich stehe hier und kann nicht anders" ('I stand here and can not not (?)') Germany.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 01:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't expect the mother to donate her uterus, I expect her not to ask others to kill the embryo, e.g. to do nothing.

But you are not asking her to "do nothing." You are asking her to surrender control of her reproductive organs, to carry (and feed) a foetus she does not want to carry and go through an invasive medical procedure. That's hardly "doing nothing."

In the case of the stowaway, your criterion for determining that the captain was not morally obliged to keep the stowaway on the boat was that the stowaway had not paid for the journey. Prey tell, how has the foetus paid the woman for the use of her organs (even leaving aside the rather sticky question of whether organs should be traded in such quid pro quos)?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 02:27:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Organs should not be traded at all, but then the example of the stowaway is simply badly chosen. Why should the stowaway have the right to get to the place he want to go at all. There are a lot of reasons, why comercial organ trade is forbidden. For what does the women need the organs so importantly that it justifies to kill someone? And a birth is not necessarily a medical procedure at all. The medicine is used to prevent damage to both the mother and the baby.
The captain should do nothing which results in the killing of the stowaway and a pregnant woman shouldn't do anything what kills the embryo. If you don't like to define it as doing nothing, well, that's your thing, but I'm asking her not to do anything to kill the embryo, so I'm really asking her to do something not.
Finally usually she has already done something which has produced the embryo, so even the stowaway example would have to be one, where the captain has invited the stowaway in the first place, but even if he hasn't he shouldn't do anything what results in the killing of the stowaway.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 03:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should the stowaway have the right to get to the place he want to go at all.

So you're saying that a foetus has a better claim to right of passage than a fully human stowaway?

For what does the women need the organs so importantly that it justifies to kill someone?

Why do you need your kidney so badly that it justifies killing a kidney patient?

And a birth is not necessarily a medical procedure at all. The medicine is used to prevent damage to both the mother and the baby.

But by that logic, healing a broken leg isn't a medical procedure either. The leg will heal on its own, after all, and putting the cast on it just helps avoid further injury. Childbirth, as you will recall, was one of the leading causes of non-violent death for women of fertile age until giving birth became a medical procedure.

None of which, of course, alters the basic fact that we're talking about an extremely invasive procedure, whether you want to call it medical or not.

The captain should do nothing which results in the killing of the stowaway and a pregnant woman shouldn't do anything what kills the embryo.

Ah, but first of all that's not the analogy I proposed. You claimed a moral equivalence between killing a foetus and denying it use of the uterus. The question was whether there was a similar moral equivalence between robbing the stowaway and throwing him off the ship.

Having noted that, however, your re-purposing of the analogy doesn't help you much. If our stowaway is dead broke and attempted to migrate because he couldn't find a job, he might very well die if he is simply tossed off at the harbour in a country where he doesn't necessarily speak the language, doesn't have a place to live, doesn't have a job, doesn't have any food...

Is the captain morally obliged to check that the stowaway has all those necessities before he kicks him off his ship? Is he obligated to make sure that the stowaway is immunised against any vicious local diseases like malaria? How long must the stowaway survive after he's kicked off the ship before the captain can wash his hands and say "well, it's not my fault that he died - after all, he was fine when I left him."

If you don't like to define it as doing nothing, well, that's your thing, but I'm asking her not to do anything to kill the embryo, so I'm really asking her to do something not.

No, you're asking her to grant use of her uterus to the embryo (actually, I don't have a problem with you asking her - what I have a problem with is the fact that you want the state to demand it of her). That is very much doing something.

Finally usually she has already done something which has produced the embryo, so even the stowaway example would have to be one, where the captain has invited the stowaway in the first place,

Well, he transshipped cargo at a harbour somewhere. That's normal for a ship to do. You can hardly blame him for the fact that he got a stowaway in the process.

Similarly, presumably the pregnant woman had sexual liaisons at some point, which I believe is what you are so tactfully alluding to. That, however, is normal for a human adult to do, and you don't get to blame her for any accidental pregnancy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 07:58:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To the last point, I can and I do.

To the other, I had then misunderstoodwhat you meant with the example, but I dismiss this a valid analogy in the way you have made it.

I don't kill the kidney patient. I'm not active. I'm ignoring him.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 08:09:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the woman is to blame for an accidental pregnancy?

And how is removing a foetus from the uterus in the first or second trimester any more active than removing it from the uterus at the end of the third trimester? It's going out anyway, the only difference is the amount of time it gets to spend in the woman's body. Why doesn't she get to evict the little squatter?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 08:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the woman is to blame. I assume that responsibilty is a combination of the capability to influence something and the need to bear the consequences.

If you look on the laws in civilised countries, the father of baby is assumed to be responsible for the existence of the baby - fully. In Germany a court had in its reasons for the judgment literally parents have to share their shirt off their back with their children.
Assume we have a case of an "accidental" pregnancy and the father want to get rid of the baby, but the mother says, she wants to have it. Even if the father then wants to have contact with the child and the mother prevents that contact after a court rules he has the right to, he is responsible for the next 25 years or so for the child and can not defaut and start new or whatsoever. No company can do this, no company can pawn the father in a similar way. I think this has as well serious impact on the mans live. So if you would have a similar view of what responsibilty means to what I have, it seems, the father is held pretty much responsible for the "accidental" pregnancy, and I of course fully support that.
So why should the mother not be held responsible in a similar way as the father obviously is? Either both are not responsible or both are responsible in the same way (And please, if you answer, don't introduce rape, which would be a seperate discussion).

Well, so let the squatter live there forever, I guess he will come at some point more or less from alone, but of course nothing speaks agains activly removing him, if it doesn't kill him.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 08:51:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume that responsibilty is a combination of the capability to influence something and the need to bear the consequences.

But you and I are able to influence whether the kidney patient in my example survives? This appears to be in contradiction of what you said above.

So why should the mother not be held responsible in a similar way as the father obviously is? Either both are not responsible or both are responsible in the same way

Yes, parents should be equally responsible for their children. And they should be equally responsible for pregnancies. But I don't understand where you're going with that. It almost sounds as if you think that the man should have a say over what happens to the pregnancy. Which is ludicrous: It's the woman's body. She can do with it what she wants, and unless she actively involves him in the decision, it's none of the man's business - or the state's - what she does with her body.

---------------

I think this discussion is going in circles, and I think that I'm partially to blame for that. After all, early in the discussion, I accepted for the sake of the argument that the foetus is as worthy of protection as a born child. Which is patent nonsense, and furthermore an assumption that seems to prevent discussion of the real ethical issues.

Because there are, of course, ethical issues with terminating a pregnancy. However, those issues involve a tradeoff that cannot be meaningfully debated if a pre-implantation zygote is equated to an adult human. The ethical tradeoff, in my opinion, involves on one side the degree of sentience in the foetus and on the other side the burden that it imposes on the mother, on the parents and/or on society.

In pre-industrial societies it was not unheard of to leave newborn babies to the wolves if the household, village or tribe could not support them. The tradeoff then was the life of the baby vs. the life of the tribe. Fortunately, in a first-world country with adequate government support for babies that their parents can't - for whatever reason - handle, the tradeoff is less stark. And so infanticide is illegal.

Precisely when the burden imposed on the parent begins to outweigh the foetus' right to life is, of course, not an issue that can be settled by applying a simple formula. Personally, I think - and IIRC Danish law agrees with me - third-trimester abortions should be avoided except in exceptional circumstances: The gain for the woman in a late-term abortion, both in medical, psychological and social terms, is judged to be too small to justify terminating a foetus with a moderately developed central nervous system. But it can, of course, be argued that the line should be earlier or later in the pregnancy, and what constitutes "exceptional circumstances" can also be debated.

And it may be that in the future we find a way to safely extract an embryo in the early stages of development and - say - freeze it and store it for later implantation in an involuntarily childless couple (or even growing it in an artificial womb). In which case I would think that terminating the pregnancy in more old-fashioned ways would be highly frowned upon.

But we are not there yet, and I have yet to hear a single convincing argument for granting a homunculus with less brain power than an uncommonly stupid Golden Retriever full equality with a born baby, much less a grown human (frankly, I find the latter comparison insulting).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I take the consequences, which are for me, uhmmm, nothing?

I don't assume lending an uterus to be a more life changing thing than what fathers have to do (law enforced) for a child, when comparing the effect with the 9 months uterus lending plus a from-the-birth-bed-away adoption. And it is as well a kind of responsibility you can't get otherwise. So fathers have by law enforcement higher burdens to shoulder for a pregnancy than mothers (which are none at all, if you assume that abortion is unregulated). To make it similar, you can chose, if fathers get the right to just run away if the mother wants to get the baby against the will of the father or if they can demand the mother to abort.

-----------------------------
Although I disagree with you, I can accept when people don't think embryos are humans. I can't accept that people find it OK to kill them, if they assume they are humans.
One of my arguments for protecting embryos is the eroding of respect for life, so if you feel insulted to be compared with an embryo, it is unlikely that this has consequences in other cases, and it is unlikely that you have this opinion only because of convinience.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 04:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that's fair enough, and a case can indeed be made for paternal "legal abortions" in which the father denies claim and cost for the child. But that is a question of how to structure people's financial obligations to one another. I consider that to be in an entirely different category than the right to your own body.

--------------------------------------

There are several different meanings to the term human, and they tend to get confused - partly because they are partially overlapping.

As it happens, I do think that a human embryo is more valuable than - say - a pig embryo. For instance, I think that a human child with a mental handicap that puts it on the level of a chimpanzee (as far as we can measure, and keeping in mind that measuring mental prowess is hardly an exact science) should still be accorded more rights and protection than a chimp. In short, I think that careful thought must be given before terminating a viable human embryo, and I think that there is an ethical case to be made against abortion.

But at the present time, there is also a powerful ethical case to be made for it, just as there is a powerful ethical case to be made for the practise of infanticide by some pre-industrial cultures in areas and ages of tightly constrained carrying capacity. As technology changes, that may change - in fact I hope that it will. But that will be then, and now is now.

And the fact that an ethical issue can be argued both ways with almost equally compelling arguments leads me to believe that the decision should be made by the individual person, not the government.

If a woman thinks abortion is wrong, full stop, she can refrain from having one (forcing women to have abortions is probably an even bigger abomination than prohibiting them). If, on the other hand, she thinks that, on balance, she would rather not have the child, and finds that position ethically defensible, then I cannot in good conscience claim that she is obviously and clearly in the wrong.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience approve of the state using its power to prevent her from doing it, even in cases where I would disagree with her about the ethical soundness of the position she takes. The alternative would set a standard for government interference in both private matters and matters of conscience that I would find greatly troubling.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 09:53:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, that you clarified that.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 11:29:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're welcome. I think it was too verbose, though...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 06:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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