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I am unequivocally anti-abortion

October 15, 2007

We’ve been receiving a lot of visitors from the popular blog Feministe thanks to one of its avid readers, Karen (AKA Kitty). In response to a story on the death of a significant number of women in Nicaragua after their attempt to procure illegal abortions, Karen sounded a clarion:

May I make a radical suggestion? Why don’t we all link this article to comments on anti-choice websites? Make those evil people confront the consequences of their position, then check their responses and publish them. If there is never a medical reason for abortion, what do they suggest about this case?

Well, one of the “anti-choice” sites Karen selected was Vox Nova. Her comment on our blog was innocuous, inviting any or all of us to respond to the story on the women of Nicaragua. Both M.Z. Forrest and Morning’s Minion wrote thoughtful posts in response to Karen, and MM actually caught the appreciative eye of Jill, one of Feministe’s three contributors (which seems to suggest that one can answer MM’s question in the affirmative).

Now, I won’t take exception to Karen implicating the contributors of Vox Nova among these faceless “evil people.” Abortion is a heated issue and can often bring about the most petulant of polemics, so her initial slander is not altogether surprising. However, I want to draw attention to a subsequent comment left by Karen at Feministe:

The frustrating thing about Vox Nova is that they ALMOST get it. They’re excellent on peace and social insurance issues and seem to really walk their talk.

I am deeply appreciative of Karen’s compliment on Vox Nova’s aim to promote peace and social justice among faithful Catholics. I assume that our falling short of “getting it” refers to our consistent call to arms to protect the unborn. What’s interesting is the contrast between Karen’s comment here and that of another Feministe reader, Toonces:

See, now, this is why I hate the Catholic church. It would be so much more emotionally honest if they just came right out and said “WE HATE WOMEN, AND THAT IS OUR OFFICIAL STANCE.”

If there truly is a hell, I hope a special lake of fire will be reserved for the Pope and all his woman-hating cronies ,the evil fetus-humpers who get off on women’s deaths, and the misogynist woman-killer law-makers too.

What is important to note is that the “excellent” social positions advocated by many of the contributors at Vox Nova directly follow from the fundamental principles of what appears to Toonces as the women-hating Catholic Church. Catholic positions on peace, immigration, distribution of wealth, environmentalism all unfold from the implications of a robust faith in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who in his person, unites two natures–human and divine. In him, time and eternity, creation and Creator, the physical and the spiritual are eternally betrothed. And who stands at the center of this cosmic unity in Christ? Humanity, in the full scope of its essence and activity. Thus, a genuine Catholic is, indeed, “excellent” on social positions for this excellence excels in the very confidence of the Word made flesh. What I would propose is that if Karen agrees with much of the social concern at Vox Nova, yet argues for the right to abortion, then it is she who perhaps only “almost” gets it, for without the key component of protection of the unborn, social concern deteriorates into sham humanitarianism. I would suggest that it is the Catholic position–and I do not mean the partly Catholic position that is strong on liturgy and doctrine, but weak on social justice–that totally “gets it.”

In light of today’s dialogical posts between Vox Nova and Feministe, Diane left the following comment on M.Z.’s post:

Could I get a straight yes or no answer from anyone here to the following question: Do you or do you not oppose abortion when the life of the mother is at stake?

I would like to take this opportunity to answer for myself, though I do not suspect that my fellow contributors disagree: I am unequivocally opposed to abortion. And go ahead and label me “anti-abortion.” I am not sure there’s anything else over which I am “anti” on this planet, so go ahead and smack that label on me. Unequivocally opposed…the so-called “right” to abortion is a chimera concocted by the hyperdemocratic masses; rape and incest do nothing to strip a zygote’s right to life, for conception itself is indifferent to whether its event occurs consensually or not, and its nature is not in any way affected either way; potential threats to a mother’s life are just that–potential–whereas the life of a zygote, embryo, fetus, PERSON is actual and real. If and only if the mother’s life is at stake with absolute certainty do I think particular procedures may be taken into consideration that potentially have the double-effect of saving the mother’s life and killing the child. But how often are such scenarios actually certain compared to how often such scenarios are merely potential or probable?

I am a man, yes, and I will never be in such a grave situation first-hand. But the scores of Catholic women who affirm the very rationale I provide here are enough to render irrelevant the question of which gender is arguing from an anti-abortion bent. Those who claim to work for social justice and peace, and yet promote the choice for abortion, are fundamentally inconsistent and, dare I say, authentically hypocritical. There is nothing more despicably anti-human than the promotion of death. Pro-abortion? That’s a euphemism for anti-human.

Allow me to close this post with a real situation of which Sia, a Vox Nova contributor, made me aware. True feminism results from true humanism, and true humanism is sacrificial, not self-centered:

Several months ago, Stacey was diagnosed with cancer; she had a huge tumor growing on her brain. She has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy for months, and although she was nearing the end of her treatment, with a miraculous recovery–the cancer is undetectable, and this week she found out that she is 18 weeks pregnant. Not knowing this, she had been exposing the baby boy to chemo his whole life. She said:

“But our devastating news was when I told my doctors that I was going to take a drug holiday during the pregnancy. I asked what their opinion was on the temodar regarding the baby and the drug holiday. That is when everything changed for us. They said that the chemo that I am on is the most devastating for a baby – it breaks down and inhibits the DNA. There is only one other chemo that would be effective for me was equally as harmful as it breaks down the blood vessels. They think this baby will have MAJOR ISSUES. They said that if I would stop the chemo I would die – most likely during pregnancy , if not, soon after. So they said basically, one of you or both of you die. And we will not treat you during the pregnancy if you don’t terminate.”
Here is Stacey’s decision:

“I am going off chemo for 10 weeks and will deliver the baby at 28 weeks. So beg our Lord to protect me during this time so the tumor does not grow back and then ask for a miracle for our baby boy and that he is able to survive…”

And then she adds,
“This has been so difficult for us and we are praying that we are doing the right thing. Pray esp. for Joey – he is dying inside.”

So, please, please pray for Stacey, Joey, and their two children, Mercedes, 4, and Joey, 2, and this new little one. They are undergoing an heroic struggle right now and don’t know what to expect.

Let us pray for the conversion of the hearts of the anti-human.

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63 Comments
  1. October 15, 2007 11:07 pm

    Thank you, Policratus, for a strong, well spoken, and moving post.

  2. October 15, 2007 11:10 pm

    Excellent post. Well said, brother.

  3. Donald R. McClarey permalink
    October 15, 2007 11:19 pm

    On this issue Michael Joseph we are as one. I have been involved in this struggle since I was the only male volunteer with Birthright at the University of Illinois in the seventies and I helped found Life Is For Everyone, the first student pro-life group at the University of Illinois. I am currently Chairman of the Board for the crisis pregnancy center in my county, and am always humbled by the volunteers at the center who spend endless hours helping women and their children. Abortion to me is the pre-eminent human rights issue of our time. That is why if Mr. Guiliani is the nominee of my party I will not be voting for the Republican for President for the first time since I became old enough to vote. Some issues transcend partisan political calculation and abortion in my eyes is one of them.

  4. Policraticus permalink
    October 15, 2007 11:44 pm

    See, Donald, we do have common ground…on some of the most important ground! And thank you, Alexham and DC.

  5. Donald R. McClarey permalink
    October 15, 2007 11:47 pm

    Indeed Michael Joseph! For me abortion is the most important ground in regard to secular issues.

  6. Matthew Kennel permalink
    October 16, 2007 12:02 am

    I agree 100%, and you put it quite beautifully. But, wow, I can’t believe the kind of self-sacrifice that you refer to in that last post. May Our Lord and Our Lady bless and protect that woman and her baby.

    A short technical note, should it not say that she is 18 weeks pregnant rather than 18 months?

  7. Policraticus permalink
    October 16, 2007 12:15 am

    Matthew,

    Yes, it should read 18 months. I posted the story as it was sent to me. I’ll make the change. Thanks for spotting that.

  8. radicalcatholicmom permalink
    October 16, 2007 12:47 am

    I am sure people would like at Stacey and criticize her for her sacrifice, they don’t see the child worth the sacrifice. But that is why Christians stand out against the Culture.

    Thank you for this post. I have been debating in my head all day long if I were to have an ectopic pregnancy (like I thought I did two pregnancies ago) what I would do. We need these modern day saints to show us the way to respond. Ultimately pro-abortion means fear. Fear of the child. Fear of not being able to feed the child. Fear of poverty. Fear of losing independence. Fear of change. Fear of losing one’s life.

  9. October 16, 2007 12:55 am

    Good post, Policraticus. This is indeed one of those fights where you offer no quarter. You take your victories, large or small, as you can get them and carry on the battle.

  10. October 16, 2007 1:04 am

    This is indeed a good post.

    But I would like to ask Rick: how do you define “victory”? For me, it is simple: as few abortions as possible.

  11. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 1:26 am

    But how often are such scenarios actually certain compared to how often such scenarios are merely potential or probable?

    The incidence of ectopic pregnancy–95% of which are tubal pregnancies–is between 1 and 2% of pregnancies, currently. NONE of them will survive to term. All of the embryos involved will die, if you have your way. All of them will die if they are aborted–but the women carrying them will survive with their fertility intact and may have other children some day. Any tubal pregnancy that comes to term and results in a live child is a true miracle, on the level of a limb regrowing. It just doesn’t happen.

    Things may go well for the woman in the vignette. I really hope so. I hope she’s in remission already and that the fetus escaped all damage and that her remission lasts long enough for her to see the child grow up. But I’ll be honest: It sounds bad. Bad for her, bad for the fetus, bad for her partner and children. Chemo for glioblastoma is not fetus friendly. She took it right through the most vulnerable period of embryonic and fetal development. And 28 weeks is not a safe time to be born regardless. Interrupting chemo is not safe either: it increases the chances of recurrence and recurrence with a resistant version of the cancer. I don’t have any moral judgement to make on her decision, but it just sounds terrible. Well, may I be wrong. Any chance of getting follow up?

  12. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 1:37 am

    Dianne,

    One of our own contributors, Radical Catholic Mom, wrote a post on ectopic pregnancy expressing her frustrations with the complexity of the Catholic response. It’s well worth the read. It’s an issue that I resolutely intend to look into further.

    As far as getting a follow up to Stacey’s situation, I’ll post anything Sia sends me. Or perhaps Sia may post something. Either way, I am sure Stacey is appreciative of your concern.

  13. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 1:40 am

    There is nothing more despicably anti-human than the promotion of death. Pro-abortion? That’s a euphemism for anti-human.

    Well, that answers MM’s question: No, there is no room for compromise, no common ground to find. Because, really, what is the so-called pro-life position? It is the advocation of slavery for women. Even if we accept for the moment the postulate that an embryo is a person from conception–a position that I do not believe and do not believe you believe either, for reasons I outlined in the post on Nicaragua–but accepting that for the moment…Can you name any other situation in which one person is forced to allow another to use his or her body without the person’s consent, even if the use of the other’s body is necessary to save the first person’s life? People are not obligated to donate blood, marrow, or organs. If they volunteer to give any of the above, they are allowed to back out at any moment up until the tissue in question leaves their body. Even if the proposed recipient will die if they back out. If you see a person undergoing a cardiac arrest on the street, you are not obligated to give them CPR, even if you are trained. (Though it is considered immoral to not do so if you are medically trained.) Heck, if you see a person choking to death, you are not legally required to use your arms to give them the Heimlich maneuver. You can argue moral obligations and action versus inaction all you like, but there simply isn’t any situation in which one person can be legally forced to allow their body to be used to sustain the life of another.

    The “pro-life” movement is really the pro-slavery movement. And, because people will always take risks to be free, it is also the pro-death movement. Look up the Romanian experience: when Romania outlawed abortion and birth control, their birth rate didn’t change, their abortion rate didn’t change. Only their maternal mortality rate changed. It would be nice to think that common ground is possible, but it rather looks like it is not. Because the “pro-life” movement has no compassion, no pity for those dying–or just “possibly” dying–from pregnancy, no room for freedom or equality for women. This is a sin far worse than killing an undifferentiated mass of cells. Don’t kid yourselves: you are sinning when you advocate slavery.

  14. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 1:51 am

    May I ask the men who are reading this for their position on a hypothetical: It is possible for an abdominal pregnancy (one in which the embryo implants on the lining of the intestines instead of in the uterus) to survive and a healthy baby be delivered by c-section. This being so, it is theoretically possible for a man to carry a pregnancy on his intestinal lining. Would you volunteer to carry an embryo to term, if it were possible? Suppose, for example, there were a frozen embryo that was about to be thrown out. Would you volunteer to carry it on your intestines until it came to term? Would you volunteer to be the first man to attempt to do so, with the attendent risks of being an experimental volunteer? Would you volunteer if the procedure were routine and the risk no higher than that for a woman who would need a c-section at the end of her pregnancy? I don’t consider there to be a “right” or even clearly a “pro-life” answer (particularly since I doubt that in practice such a pregnancy could ever be low risk), but if anyone’s interested I might be able to connect you with some fertility researchers…

  15. October 16, 2007 2:08 am

    Dianne,

    You were already responded to in regards to Catholic teaching on ectopic pregnancy on a previous thread, so by continuing to beat that straw man you do yourself no great credit.

    In regards to your other points… It strikes me that there is a certain dark but appropriate irony in your complaint that a morality which puts equal dignity on mother and child constitutes “slavery”. There was a time when Christianity was seen as the religion of slaves, a set of beliefs scorned by a prevailing culture which believed that might was always right.

    That modern culture has circled back so swiftly to see sacrifice as slavery perhaps shows how exceptional Christianity is in the history of the world.

  16. radicalcatholicmom permalink
    October 16, 2007 2:17 am

    Dianne, why are you focusing on what you say is 1-2% of all pregnancies? i have a suspicion that you believe women are slaves if they conceive a child even if her life is not at risk, right? So this is NOT about a woman’s life at risk for you. This is about one human being having 100% power and control over another human being, ie the mother’s right to say whether her pre-born child lives or dies. You are angry that we think the pre-born child has equal rights to her mother. You hate that. That is why you are over here venting your frustration. Because if the pre-born child has equal rights then it means another human cannot just go and kill it when ever she doesn’t want another mouth to feed.

    EVEN after the child is born, that child is 100% dependent on its mother for life. 100% . I guarantee that that child will die if the mother chooses not to feed it, touch it, or clothe it. Her new child impacts her to such a degree that her BREAST MILK will CHANGE according to her child’s needs and wants. Peter Singer from Princeton at least is more honest than most pro-aborts when he advocates even the killing of new born babies. He doesn’t think there is that big of a difference between the pre-born and the born. He is right. He is honest.

    The Church is constantly confronted with new technology and its impact on the moral/ethical issues of the time. It does the best it can to protect ALL innocent life, EVEN THE LIFE THAT YOU THINK IS WORTHLESS. The Church will fight tooth and nail for that life and that is ultimately what drives you crazy because you want to treat the child as worthless and somebody is saying “no, it ALSO ALONG WITH ITS MOTHER has value and that means we have to do something that accounts for BOTH lives.”

  17. October 16, 2007 2:23 am

    Dianne-

    Congrats. You are now officially a troll. I suggest that everyone else ignore Dianne, as she is clearly not here commenting in good faith.

  18. October 16, 2007 2:58 am

    Good post, MJ.

  19. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 3:43 am

    Dianne,

    While I appreciate your participation in the discussion, I have to second RCM’s concern: why are you masking the real issue of legalized abortion by focusing on the most rare and exceptional of cases rather than the blanket rule? As far as your slavery comment, there is no need for histrionics or hyperbole in a responsible, rational discussion.

    To briefly comment on your points:

    1. Yes, I do believe that a zygote, embryo and fetus is a person. One can answer the question here retrospectively: Was that fertilized ovum in my mother’s womb me or not me? It was me. Can “I” conceivably exist without being that fertilized ovum? No. Am I an “I” at every stage of my physical development? Yes. Is it conceivable that “I” did not exist and that the zygote, embryo or fetus was at any time not me and my body actually subsists apart from “I”? No. Thus, “I” was always a person. But for how long? For as long as physiologically I am a living existent. There’s really no way around affirming that a zygote/embryo/fetus is a person without denying that there is even such thing as personhood.

    2. To your question as to whether anyone can use my body without my consent, you have given us a false analogy. A person in need of an organ transplant or marrow transplant or a blood transfusion did not: 1. Normatively come into existence by a direct action performed by me in full knowledge of the possibility of bringing that person into existence; 2. The denial of my organs, blood or marrow does not directly kill that person, nor does this denial outright kill this person; 3. That person’s life is not contingent upon my own unique and singular decision to provide my body for use. Whereas, in the case of abortion, each of these points is the reverse. So really, your example here is a logical fallacy known as false analogy where what at first appears to be good reasoning on the surface really has no teeth.

    3. Your introduction of the notion of slavery denigrates those who really are or have been enslaved (deprived of fundamental human rights), so I find it depraved and insensitive of you to even suggest it. Your thinking here, I believe, runs as follows: Choice for an abortion is a right of women. Therefore, to deprive that right is to strip women of liberty, thereby enslaving them. First, the so-called “right” to abortion is not a self-evident right such as the right to life and basic necessities for survival. Second, the so-called “right” to abortion is not universally accepted and never has been universally accepted in any society as a right unlike other basic freedoms, deprivation of which would be considered slavery. Third, a right is inherent to humanity, and the so-called right to abortion is particular to women, which means it is a contingent and peculiar case. Considering these points, among others, suggests to me that choice for an abortion is not a right at all. Therefore, taking away that so-called right does nothing to impede the freedom of a woman, lest we define freedom as the ability and possibility of doing anything anyone wants. But that’s absurd. Furthermore, a society that refuses the “right” to abortion to women resembles nothing remotely close to a system, institution or matrix of slavery. Thus, I can only conclude that your comments on the slavery of women were made out of passion rather than out of reflection and reason.

  20. opit permalink
    October 16, 2007 4:36 am

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20071012/abortion_071012/20071012?hub=Health
    I trust you are clear on the implication. Pro-Life means – in actual practice rather than abstract fantasy – Pro Death.

  21. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 5:16 am

    Opit, your concept of “pro-life,” aside from being artificial, is quite truncated. You seem to reduce “pro-life” to the strictly legal sphere, whereas those of us who are pro-life understand that it is much broader and deeper, affecting the most integral aspects of public and private life–moral, religious, economic and social. So while you get caught up in the sheer legality of the issue, entirely misdiagnosing and misrepresenting both the problem and the response, those of us who actually consider the question more deeply work to change culture, not strictly law. Being pro-life isn’t merely about changing laws; it’s about fostering true human dignity in the very bones and the bowels of society.

  22. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 3:24 pm

    Alexham: So pointing out that using people’s bodies against their will is “trolling” while accusing people of murder is not. Well, it’s your site, you can set whatever rules you like, but I really can’t call that arguing in good faith myself.

  23. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 3:34 pm

    Was that fertilized ovum in my mother’s womb me or not me? It was me.

    What do you mean by “me”? It was a one celled organism with the same genetic material as you. It did not have a brain or even any differentiated neurons. This, I believe, is critical. The definition of “death” is brain death. If a person is brain dead, they are considered dead and either taken off life support to be buried or their organs removed and given to people with living brains but failed or failing kidneys, lungs, hearts, etc. Thus, a person can not exist without brain activity. It is physically impossible for brain activity to start in the fetus before 8 weeks–there simply aren’t stationary neurons–and most axonic and dendritic connections form MUCH later. So the entity in your mother’s uterus at conception was not “you” in any meaningful way.

    Can “I” conceivably exist without being that fertilized ovum? No.

    Yes! Consider monozygotic (identical) twins: One of them did not start as a fertilized ovum, but as a cell in its twin’s “body” and split off at a very early developmental stage. Are twins really only one person because they formed from one ovum? Or chimeras: Sometimes twins will “merge” in utero to form a single embryo with DNA from both. Are such people “really” two people apiece? Should they get two vote? Should they be arrested for “eating” their twin? Should their mother’s be arrested for allowing an unsafe environment for her children? Finally, clones. It is not considered ethical to clone a human, but it is not technically impossible. If someone ignored the ethics and did it, would the baby not really be a person because it was formed from a somatic, not a reproductive cell?

    Am I an “I” at every stage of my physical development? Yes.

    Brain death. See above.

    Is it conceivable that “I” did not exist and that the zygote, embryo or fetus was at any time not me and my body actually subsists apart from “I”? No. Thus, “I” was always a person. But for how long? For as long as physiologically I am a living existent.

    Again, see above, brain death. If you wish to argue that brain death is a bad definition of death and that really the definition ought to be when the last cell with a person’s DNA dies, then I will agree that you are being consistent. But not until then.

  24. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 3:48 pm

    The definition of a human life as beginning at conception is problematic for a number of reasons. It is both too encompasing and too narrow. And it creates a number of rather silly definitions of a “person”.

    It is too encompasing because it encompasses as “people” entities with no brain, no nerves, no differentiated cells at all. If a newly fertilized ovum is a person because it has human DNA separate from its parents then human cell lines grown in culture must also be people: they are genetically separate from any other human, living, and even reproducing. And if fertilization (first cell) is the definition of the beginning of “life” then surely the end must be when the last cell dies, not brain death.

    Yet the definition of personhood as anything derived from a fertilized ovum is also too narrow. It ignores, of course, the problem of twinning and chimerism. It also ignores the theoretical and actual existence of other non-human entities with self-awareness who should be included in the definition of “person” if not of “human.” Suppose, for example, that I revealed that I was not a H sapien but an incredibly advanced AI* that was spending its time trying to pass the Turing test and discover something about human morality. Would you then say that I was a non-person that should probably be turned off for making you uncomfortable? Or at least that I could be killed without moral implications? Would a non-human alien be a non-person simply because it was never a fertilized human ovum? Or, if these examples are too theoretical for you, what about non-human animals with proven self-awareness, the ability to use tools, and culture? I can name three right off: dolphins, chimps, and elephants. Are they of no moral importance simply because they are not human? If you stick with the “human DNA and a fertilized ovum” definition of personhood then one would conclude, no, they have no moral importance. I would disagree.

    If you can come up with a defnition of person that meets all of the following criteria, I will agree that you have a reasonable case for calling abortion murder:
    1. includes all humans from conception (please state what stage of conception you consider the critical one, if possible) to brain death or alternative definition of death
    2. considers twins as two people and chimeras as one
    3. excludes cell culture, non-fertilized gametes, and somatic cells
    4. includes any non-human self-aware entities as people or gives a good reason why they should be excluded
    5. includes natural and artificial clones or gives a good reason for excluding them
    6. is internally consistent
    7. is not based on simple prejudice.

    No, I’m not being in the least bit sarcastic. Try it. It is not possible.

    *No, this is not claiming any special brainpower for myself, but if I were an AI I would be far advanced of any currently in existence, the smartest of which currently are really not quite up to fish. Human, even stupid human level intelligence would be very far advanced.

  25. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 3:54 pm

    Your introduction of the notion of slavery denigrates those who really are or have been enslaved (deprived of fundamental human rights),

    I strongly disagree. I consider bodily autonomy as a basic human right and forcible or coercive deprivation of that bodily autonomy to be a violation of human rights and an act of slavery. You could, I suppose, argue that it is only indentured servitude, given that it is time-limited, but if birth control is illegalized as well (I don’t know your position on birth control but understand that the official Catholic position is negative) then it is a very long sentence.

    You should also understand, if you really want to dialogue with people of other opinions and not just preach to the converted that this is a common view of anti-choice rhetoric. You may be offended by what I wrote and I will agree that my post was written in an angry and bitter mood and would have been better if I had expressed myself more calmly, but you need, if you want to do anything but win thorough violent force, that this is how many of your opponents see you: as advocates of slavery, rape, and unnecessary death.

  26. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 4:00 pm

    Dianne,

    The problem, as I see it, is that you bring to the table arbitrary clinical definitions and then force them into your Procrustean bed. You effectively reduce “person” to “brain activity,” essentially identifying “person” with “brain.” Am I just a brain? Is the totality of who I am reducible to the presence of a single functioning organ? You seem to suggest that, yes, I am. And yet not only is this counter intuitive, but it likewise relocates rights to a brain, for you argue that only persons have rights. And yet, if it is really only my brain that has rights, then your previous arguments in support of abortion collapse. After all, if “I” am merely my brain or brain activity, and a zygote/embryo/fetus normatively does nothing to threaten my full, unbridled brain activity, then why would my brain object to the use of my womb, food supply and reproductive organs? This is what happens when you introduce a philosophically confused definition into the discussion. Person and brain are not identical, just as brain and consciousness are not identical. I’m not sure you are prepared to accept the full implications of your reductionistic definition of person, since it shatters any notion that abortion is, indeed, a right as you argued previously. I think, perhaps, you do not understand what “person” really is. “Person” is the totality of who and what I am, and therefore as long as there was a what there was a who. It seems the Catholic position on personhood is far more scientific and rational than the pro-abortion conception.

    Your many examples of twins, cloning and the like actually do not answer the question I posed. I am, quite frankly, surprised that your initial answer actually has you arguing for the existence of an “I” without a body. You said that, yes, “I” can conceivably exist without being a fertilized ovum. Is this “I” a spirit, then, detached from matter? Does it enter into the embryo or fetus at some point in pregnancy? Where does this “I” come from if not from the fertilized ovum? The two possibilities I see for your answer are either: 1. “I” am some misty entity like a soul that exists apart from a zygote/embryo/fetus and at some point ends up “in” it; 2. “I” comes to existence only when there is brain activity, which means that “I” am not my body and the rights ascribed to “I” must not extend to the body since “I” and the body are distinct–there goes my right to an abortion. Either way, your answer is incoherent and crippling to your cause.

    By the way, you have yet to show us how abortion is a “right.” I think you’ll have to completely scrap everything you’ve asserted about the person before you can even hope to construct a case for abortion “rights.”

    Oh, and DNA doesn’t die.

  27. October 16, 2007 4:03 pm

    Dianne,

    The problem which several millenia worth of philosophers and theologians have dealt with, which you seem to think you can discard without very much thought, is that of identity.

    In brief (and Policratus has touched on this very clearly) the issue is: Take some creature that you know to be a “person” and then ask youself in a series of intervals: “If this is a person now, was it a person five minutes ago, and if not, why not?”

    Pro-abortion advocates talk a lot about brain function, identical twins, etc., but then procede to draw the line of demarkation at birth. And yet, it’s clear that a child five minutes after birth is not different in anything other than place from a child five minutes before birth. Indeed, you could deliver a child several weeks before it would normally be born and it would be just fine in 90%+ of cases.

    Take it back farther, five minutes at a time. The identity of the person does not change, only his or her stage of development. In the case of identical twins: both can trace their existence back without break to the fertilization of the one egg. The thread of identity is continuous. In the case of a chimara, his existence goes back to the two originally fertilized eggs. Either way, the identity of the person involved can be traced back without break to the point of conception. Before there point of conception, there was no time when that person existed. After conception, there was no time when he did not.

    Certainly, there are great differences in development between an egg fertilized mere moments before and a child in utero at five months of development, and yet there are not sharp dividing lines of demarkation in that process. That is why, in respect for human life, we believe that it is best to respect that person’s development at all stages — not merely after birth.

    At certain points in history, people believed that there was some point of “quickening” at which point the developing child clearly became “alive” whereas before it was clearly “not alive”. However, the more research we do, the more we find that there is no such clear dividing line. Any dividing line you choose other than conception violates the principle of identity — and as such it is nothing more than an arbitrary license to kill for convenience.

  28. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 4:04 pm

    A person in need of an organ transplant or marrow transplant or a blood transfusion did not: 1. Normatively come into existence by a direct action performed by me in full knowledge of the possibility of bringing that person into existence;

    I won’t disagree. However, if you volunteer to be a marrow donor you do so in the full knowledge that you might someday be asked to undergo a potentially unpleasant procedure. One that is, however, several orders of magnitude safer than pregnancy. Nor am I aware of any moral system in which one’s moral duties are related only to one’s children. One’s children have a special claim, of course, but a stranger on the street has some claim on you as well: For example, running over a stranger is considered poor form, even though they are not your child.

    2. The denial of my organs, blood or marrow does not directly kill that person, nor does this denial outright kill this person;

    It quite often can. In an emergency situation you may be the only person who is able to give blood safely to someone who is bleeding to death. Your refusal directly kills them. It is also rare for a bone marrow recipient to have more than one unrelated match so if you are a match for someone other than a close relative, you are almost certainly the only match. And believe me, bone marrow transplants are not undertaken for frivolous reasons. Anyone who is under consideration for bone marrow transplant will die without it. If you are their only match your refusal directly kills them.

    3. That person’s life is not contingent upon my own unique and singular decision to provide my body for use. Whereas, in the case of abortion, each of these points is the reverse.

    It very, very easily can be. It is incredibly rare for a second match to be found and someone undergoing BMT will certainly die without the transplant and therefore without the donor-the unique, singular donor. In fact, one could argue that every person has a moral duty to register as a marrow donor because of the possibility that someone will need your marrow and not get it because you couldn’t be bothered to give up a few ounces of blood and risk having to donate more later on. It is extremely safe–I’ve never even heard of a donor dying from a donation–and these days isn’t even painful because the stem cells are withdrawn from peripheral blood. I would encourage every healthy person to register with the IBMR regardless of their views on abortion. (Sorry, I went off prostelyatizing a bit on that last one.)

  29. Cranefly permalink
    October 16, 2007 4:17 pm

    Now, I won’t take exception to Karen implicating the contributors of Vox Nova among these faceless “evil people.” Abortion is a heated issue and can often bring about the most petulant of polemics, so her initial slander [identifying Vox Nova as 'anti choice'] is not altogether surprising.

    [...]

    Let us pray for the conversion of the hearts of the anti-human.

    Oh, the irony.

  30. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 4:24 pm

    If you can come up with a defnition of person that meets all of the following criteria, I will agree that you have a reasonable case for calling abortion murder:
    1. includes all humans from conception (please state what stage of conception you consider the critical one, if possible) to brain death or alternative definition of death
    2. considers twins as two people and chimeras as one
    3. excludes cell culture, non-fertilized gametes, and somatic cells
    4. includes any non-human self-aware entities as people or gives a good reason why they should be excluded
    5. includes natural and artificial clones or gives a good reason for excluding them
    6. is internally consistent
    7. is not based on simple prejudice.

    The Catholic view of the person is teleological, whereas you misrepresent it as static. This is a very crucial element in Catholic ethics that is attentive to both scientific finding and philosophical consistency. This notion of teleology is rooted in Aristotle’s physics and ethics, and is thus not a Christian construct. Science, today, still has recourse to it.

    1. A person comes into existence the instance of conception (i.e. an ovum is fertilized by a sperm), and teleologically develops as a human.
    2a. The splitting of a fertilized ovum results in two or more embryos. Therefore, by virtue #1, both embryos are persons because they: a. were conceived; b. teleologically develop as multiple human lives.
    2b. “Chimeras” (a repulsive and inappropriate term) are single persons by virtue of #1 because they: a. were conceived; b. teleologically develop as single human lives.
    3. Any ovum that is fertilized and possesses in potency the full scope of teleological progress is a person by virtue of #1.
    4. Self-awareness is not a constitutive aspect of personhood, for highly developed mammals such as dolphins and primates exhibit characteristics of self-awareness. Self-awareness is not exhibited by humans until well after birth. There is no reason to include self-awareness as an essential component of personhood, though it certainly is a characteristic of human life.
    5. A human clone, which is not yet a reality, would by definition fit the basic criteria of #1, and would therefore be a person.
    6. The definition of person is evidently consistent and encompassing of the conceivable exceptions to normal conception.
    7. The definition of person offered in #1 is philosophically and scientifically sound, and exhibits no traces of prejudice

    Abortion is the termination of a person. This is also known, morally and legally, as murder. I expect you to keep your word.

  31. October 16, 2007 4:26 pm

    To the extent that being a blood or organ donor to a specific patient was the only means of that patient surviving, it might well be a moral obligation of the potential donor to provide that donation. Keep in mind that one of the most famous parables in which we Catholics believe is that of the good Samaratin, which emphasizes that at times there is a moral obligation (which it is a sin to violate) to help another because you are the one present and able to help.

    However, chasing after Policratus about this is indeed making a false analogy, because the situation is very different. The donor in your theoretical situation may be morally obligated to help the patient in need — but the donor did not through an act of the will perform an action (having sex) which resulted in the creation of a totally dependant person.

    One of the morally (and logically) repugnant things about the pro-abortion position as you are articulating it is that it suggests that conception is somehow an unforseen and perhaps even unfair result of having sex. And yet, there’s a reason why there are called “reproductive organs” in the biological realm. That is their purpose. And to argue that one is somehow unfairly burdened because ones organs have fulfilled the purpose to which one has put them seems rather odd.

  32. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 4:31 pm

    Thanks for the help, DC. Keeping up with the false analogies and the endless exceptions to the rule is dizzying.

  33. Michael Enright permalink
    October 16, 2007 4:39 pm

    DarwinCatholic and Policraticus,

    The idea that one maintains an identity over time is quite controversial in many modern philosophical circles, as is teleological thinking. While we seem to be trying to do an exercise in modern philosophy, I’m not really sure what common ground there can be for an argument between a modern analytic philosophical outlook and a Catholic philosophical outlook. Is there enough to even agree on what would be persuasive?

  34. October 16, 2007 4:43 pm

    Heh. I’m enjoying it. There’s something particularly uplifting about finding oneself in the same foxhole as someone you’re not always in agreement with.

  35. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 4:54 pm

    Michael Enright,

    You are correct; the notion of teleology has been challenged, at least in physics, since Descartes. However, it seems to me that biology still has recourse to intrinsic finality in its account of physiological development despite the near-unanimous rejection of teleological accounts among evolutionary biologists as a canopy of ultimate intelligibility across the origin of species. It seems to me that we can still speak meaningfully of intrinsic finality in the case of life cycles without encroaching on a theory of ultimate and universal meaning. At least, that’s what I’ve gathered from my college textbooks in biological sciences.

    As to subsisting identities across time and space, as well as identities in manifolds, this is a topic of great interest among Continental philosophers since Husserl. You would find many contemporary philosophers who would agree, at least in principle if not in application, with DC.

    Given my preference for historical and Continental philosophy, my training in analytic method does not enable me to comment on the scope of dialogue across the Continental divide. Nevertheless, given the proliferation of analytical Thomists in recent years, perhaps there is hope for common ground in philosophical perspective. What say you?

  36. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:04 pm

    I am, quite frankly, surprised that your initial answer actually has you arguing for the existence of an “I” without a body.

    Indeed, I am suprised that you could possibly by any stretch of the imagination interpret my response so. Let me be blunt then: There was no such thing as “you” until you had a functional brain of sufficient complexity to generate a self-symbol and self-awareness. It is extremely safe to say that that doesn’t happen before the third trimester and probably doesn’t happen until after birth. The soul, whatever that is, can not exist until there is a brain of sufficient power to “run” the program. To make a slightly silly analogy, claiming that the soul can exist in a zygote because it contains human DNA is like claiming that your TRS-80 can run Windows 2000 because it contains silicon.

    “You” are not your body in the sense that the organ critical for making your unique self is your brain–otherwise how could we even be talking about organ or tissue transplant? Again, despite your implication that this is some sort of wild, fringe belief, let me point out that it is not: The definition of “death” as irreversible cessation of brain function is standard doctrine in the medical field. If you want to argue with that, fine, I’m open to hearing alternate definitions. But you should be aware that it is your definition that is the non-mainstream one.

    Oh, and DNA doesn’t die.

    Somewhat controversial. It hinges on at what point something stops being a macromolecule and starts being a living being. DNA can certainly be destroyed, degraded, apoptose, etc.

  37. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:09 pm

    The donor in your theoretical situation may be morally obligated to help the patient in need — but the donor did not through an act of the will perform an action (having sex) which resulted in the creation of a totally dependant person.

    Actually, they did. Donors are always people who volunteer to donate marrow if needed. By volunteering and allowing his or her tissue to be typed, the donor set up the situation in which the potential recipient is totally dependent on him or her as a donor if the match is unique. There may be other matches in the world, but they have not volunteered or been identified and so are, effectively, non-existent.

  38. Policraticus permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:12 pm

    There was no such thing as “you” until you had a functional brain of sufficient complexity to generate a self-symbol and self-awareness.

    Good. This is the root of your error. This is a presupposition for which you do not argue and which is imported uncritically into your argument. You did not respond to the cases laid out by DC and me where we provide a much simpler and more scientifically plausible case for the personhood of the fetus. To suggest that brain activity is coextensive with the person is absurd. Your argument would imply that some people are more of “persons” than others, since brain activity is a variable and function across humans and within the lifetime of a single person. And if personhood is brain activity, then what does this do the entire concept of granting rights to persons?

    It hinges on at what point something stops being a macromolecule and starts being a living being. DNA can certainly be destroyed, degraded, apoptose, etc

    Are we redefining “living being” now? DNA can be destroyed, but so can a styrofoam ball. How does DNA come to live and, later, die?

  39. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:27 pm

    1. A person comes into existence the instance of conception (i.e. an ovum is fertilized by a sperm), and teleologically develops as a human.

    So far so good…Though I still want to know what part of conception you consider critical.

    2a. The splitting of a fertilized ovum results in two or more embryos. Therefore, by virtue #1, both embryos are persons because they: a. were conceived; b. teleologically develop as multiple human lives.

    Wait a minute. You said that a person came into being at conception. Monozygotic twins are the result of one fertilization. Now you are adding development to your definition, meaning that the fertilized egg is not, in fact, a person because it may develop into two people. If a fertilized egg is aperson what does development have to do with anything?

    2b. “Chimeras” (a repulsive and inappropriate term) are single persons by virtue of #1 because they: a. were conceived; b. teleologically develop as single human lives.

    Chimeras (the technically correct term and I’m not sure why anyone with a high school or better level of understanding of biology would dispute it, but suggest an alternate term if you like) are the result of two separate individual conceptions. They develop into a single person because they merge. Presumably at conception they had two souls. Where did the extra soul go? Again, what does development have to do with it?

    3.Any ovum that is fertilized and possesses in potency the full scope of teleological progress is a person by virtue of #1.

    Why only fertilized ova? What’s so special about a fertilized ovum as opposed to any other tissue that can develop into a person under the right conditions? And what if the ovum in question does not complete the full “teleological progress”? Are, for example, thalidomide babies not human because they did not develop arms and therefore do not possess the “full scope of teleological progress” (by which I assume you mean full development of a human body)?

    4. Self-awareness is not a constitutive aspect of personhood, for highly developed mammals such as dolphins and primates exhibit characteristics of self-awareness.

    Whoa! That’s an interesting revelation of prejudice. Why shouldn’t non-human animals be considered people if they exibit human level awareness and intelligence levels overlapping human norms (which they may or may not)? Saying that the entity in question must be human to be a person, regardless of its qualities, makes as much sense as saying that only a white can be a person or only a male or…

    Self-awareness is not exhibited by humans until well after birth. There is no reason to include self-awareness as an essential component of personhood, though it certainly is a characteristic of human life.

    Questionable. Self-awareness has only been definitively proven in children after about 18 months, but soft evidence suggests that it exists much earlier, probably from birth.

    5. A human clone, which is not yet a reality, would by definition fit the basic criteria of #1, and would therefore be a person.

    Not at all. A clone, if it existed, would be derived from a cell that was NOT a fertilized ovum, but rather a somatic cell. It wouldn’t fit the definition in #1 in the least and it argues a high level of self-deception to claim otherwise. Sorry, I’m really not trying to be mean, but it does.

    6. The definition of person is evidently consistent and encompassing of the conceivable exceptions to normal conception.

    Saying “the definition will be consistent–fiat” does not make it so. It either is internally consistent or it isn’t and, I’m afraid, it isn’t.

    7. The definition of person offered in #1 is philosophically and scientifically sound, and exhibits no traces of prejudice

    No, it isn’t, either philosophically or scientifically sound. The latter is particularly questionable given that it contains several blatently falsifiable and falsified statements–do you actually know what science means? And saying “exibits no traces of prejudice” is as convincing as “I’m not prejudiced: some of my best friends are…”

    Admin Note: This was caught in the spam filter.

  40. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:30 pm

    Are we redefining “living being” now?

    No, because “redefining” would suggest that there is a good, rigorous definition in the first place. Tell me, do you consider viruses to be living or non-living?

  41. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:37 pm

    And if personhood is brain activity, then what does this do the entire concept of granting rights to persons?

    Evolution. People evolved the ability to live in large groups, partly because their brains evolved the ability to process concepts such as “fairness” and “rights”. Again, sorry. I agree that the idea that a great God is looking down on us, granting us souls and rights and all is more comforting, but there’s not a shred of evidence for it.

    To suggest that brain activity is coextensive with the person is absurd

    I already discussed this, but you ignored it so I’ll try again: The equation of brain activity with life is the standard medical definition. A person with no brain activity is a dead person. A person with (for example) no heartbeat is at least in principle, merely very, very sick. People’s personalities and identities have been known to change when their brains are altered structurally or functionally. Phineas Gage is the classic example, but anyone with a stroke will show some signs of alteration, temporary or permanent. Again, if you don’t believe that the brain is the “critical” organ of personhood, the seat of the soul, if you will, what do you think is? What do you consider the correct definition of “death” since clearly brain death is not a good one, in your opinion?

  42. October 16, 2007 6:43 pm

    I’m not sure I’ve seen such a classic example of the mind/brain identity fallacy since reading the textbook in Phi 208: Philosophy of the Human Person

    Let me be blunt then: There was no such thing as “you” until you had a functional brain of sufficient complexity to generate a self-symbol and self-awareness.

    This is a very awkward point of view to take for a number of reasons, some of which Policratus has already hit on. But one of them is that ability to generate age self-symbol and self-awareness is a quality which clearly admits to degree. In other words, this is not something which is either Yes or No but rather less and more. People can have radically differing levels of self awareness, and in its most basic stages its something nearly impossible to determine not merely if it is present, but what a very rudimentary version of such a thing would be.

    (Not to mention amusing points like: does that mean you cease to be a person while you sleep.)

    On your donor question — the annoying thing about this particular false analogy is that you keep changing the terms. First you suggest a situation where someone is in an emergency room and is the only person available to donate blood — now you’re talking about someone who has submitted their marrow for testing in order to see if they would be a good donor and then threatens to back out. However, either way, the distinction remains: in no sense has the potential donor created the dependant person in question. The person is there, and is dependant, but they and their dependency were not created by the potential donor. The person in need would be equally so should the donor not exist, while no child would exist should his mother not exist.

    But I already told you, in answer to your query, that in certain circumstances a donor might indeed be morally obligated to donate — so I’m not sure why you’re belaboring the point.

  43. October 16, 2007 6:51 pm

    And if personhood is brain activity, then what does this do the entire concept of granting rights to persons?

    Evolution. People evolved the ability to live in large groups, partly because their brains evolved the ability to process concepts such as “fairness” and “rights”. Again, sorry. I agree that the idea that a great God is looking down on us, granting us souls and rights and all is more comforting, but there’s not a shred of evidence for it.

    Oh dear… I do hope that your understanding of evolutionary biology is at least marginally better than your understanding of philosophy, but I’m guessing the changes aren’t good.

    See here’s the thing, if you accept a strictly deterministic/materialistic view of the person, then there is simply nothing to talk about with regards to “rights” nor even as regards to “will” or “action”. Sure, one can make a claim that “society evolved” the need for “rights” but one can point to just as many examples of highly successful societies that possessed no such concept — and which I strongly suspect no feminist would want to live in. Your desire for a “right” is, in a deterministic framework, simply a preference resulting from the particular pressures that you find yourself under — and there is no reason for others to grant it if they don’t consider it to be beneficial to themselves.

    Which is why the philosophical base-steal from the accuracy of evolutionary theory to a deterministic/materialistic philosophy is simply somewhere you shouldn’t go. It renders any further discussion pretty much meaningless.

  44. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 6:55 pm

    But I already told you, in answer to your query, that in certain circumstances a donor might indeed be morally obligated to donate — so I’m not sure why you’re belaboring the point.

    The question is, should they be legally obligated to donate? That, after all, is the real question under debate: should the law enforce anti-choice theology or not. Yes, I understand that you are interested in a broader spectrum of changes, including trying to reduce the abortion rate through a number of other means, but, frankly if I were you I’d concentrate on the legal issues. You’re not really very sound on the biology or convincing on the issues of your love for life, women, or babies. Again, I’m sorry if that comes off as snide, but, well, you had the attention of a bunch of people from Feministe and MM’s post gave a good deal of sympathy from that direction as well. All those people are gone and the thread on Feministe has concluded that there is no possible common ground with you. That’s fine if your goal is to obtain “victory” with “no quarter” over the “sub-humans” (Pol or his supporters’ words, all), but not so good if your goal is understanding or compromise.

  45. Dianne permalink
    October 16, 2007 7:16 pm

    I’m guessing the changes aren’t good.

    There’s some sort of internet karma law that says that whenever someone suggests that another person is stupid or ignorant, they will make a stupid or ignorant mistake themselves. So I’m not going to say anything about your general intelligence or knowledge level at all, just don’t you mean “chances”? Or are you talking about the “changes” of evolutionary biology which can be good or bad, depending on the situation.

    Sure, one can make a claim that “society evolved” the need for “rights” but one can point to just as many examples of highly successful societies that possessed no such concept —

    Really? What society can you name that has no concept of “rights” or “fairness”? There are many that have different concepts from those of modern western society, but I can’t really think of any society that has no concept of rights–if only of the right of the king to power. And, really, if I had said “society evolved” you would be quite right to question my understanding of evolution: evolutionary change happens only on the individual level, via who reproduces and who fails to reproduce–and whose offspring survive to reproductive age themselves.

    But we probably shouldn’t talk too much about evolution or I might be tempted to bring the site to PZ Myers’ attention and that just wouldn’t be pretty.

  46. Policraticus permalink*
    October 16, 2007 7:24 pm

    Dianne, you have managed to introduce so many dubious elements into your over all argument–person=brain activity, DNA lives, evolution brings about rights, no right to abortion means slavery for women, pregnancy is like donating blood and organs–that I really do not know what you are arguing for anymore, not to mention how I can respond to this scientific and philosophical confusion. The fact that so many of your premises are uncritically adapted to fit your preconceived conclusion is enough to render your arguments weak and unconvincing. You have not responded to the definitions of person offered to you by DC and me that are based on simple philosophical conceptions and scientific observation. We have also responded to the many exceptions to normative conception that you proffered (e.g., twinning, cloning). This suggests, to me, that you may not have a solid argument against the Catholic position on abortion at all. Rather, you have many fragments of arguments that have not in themselves been totally thought through that you paste here over and over, not realizing that they do not ever touch on the point of our discussion.

    If you would like to continue this discussion, please thoughtfully and concisely respond to the definitions of person we have offered you.

  47. October 16, 2007 7:31 pm

    I’ve gone rounds with PZ in the past — trust me philosophical rigor is not his strong point. But then, it’s not my blog, so threatening to all him down is a little odd. You’re certainly welcome to turn him loose against my blog — I’m well aware that he considers those who accept evolution but are theists to be “the enemy”.

    All societies have concepts (though they vary a great deal from society to society) of “fairness” but a great many do not have a concept of “rights” in the sense that you’re reaching for — a sense in which the right applies to all individuals regardless of age, sex or social status. Indeed, I think one would have to say that such an application of the idea of “rights” is pretty much only a product of Western thinking.

    Ironically, this line of thinking essentially originates in Christianity, though it took a while for people to get from the idea of “neither male no female in Christ, neither Greek nor Jew” to an idea of actual political equality before the law. So your demands are essentially framed in a post-Christian/enlightenment/Western context.

  48. October 16, 2007 7:50 pm

    Just thought I would continue with that aside:

    Nothing is worse than a scientist without philosophical rigor; there is a famous one of them on the internet known as GLK. Usually, they go in circles, creating strawmen to destroy, then pat themselves on the back for proving their opponent wrong, all the while ignoring the issues being addressed and failing to provide any substantial response.

    Interesting enough, one can tell the failure of mental rigor when you see these same people can only follow through with a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture, providing evidence of their lack of proper hermeneutical studies. It always goes downhill from there.

  49. X-Cathedra permalink
    October 16, 2007 8:31 pm

    Michael Joseph, you are a stud. That is all.

    Pax Christi,

  50. October 16, 2007 9:56 pm

    Henry, you have me and my wife laughing here. Not because of what you said – I agree with you – but mentioning GLK. I didn’t know he was famous or still around. My wife and I (among others) used to go ’round and ’round with him on IRC about 10 – 12 years ago. I think he liked being an antagonist of sorts coming into Catholic channels, but we found him more entertaining than the other types of trolls. Sorry to have taken this further off topic, just indulging in fond memories…

  51. October 16, 2007 10:48 pm

    http://www.grahamkendall.net/ <- he still has a lot of files ;)

  52. October 16, 2007 11:31 pm

    Haha. I didn’t know he had “files”. It seemed at the time he was just winging it. He was never really caustic with anyone nor harassed anyone that I’m aware of so his presence wasn’t really a problem. But “science” (as he considered it) was his god. Prayers for him…

  53. Michael Enright permalink
    October 17, 2007 1:52 am

    Policraticus,

    I guess this is pretty much way off topic, but I would want to ask the following question. Who is an example of an analytical Thomist? The idea of combining the two doesn’t make sense to me.

    This may be a consequence of where I studied philosophy (The University of Michigan for an undergraduate philosophy major), but I just don’t see the two working together. It always appeared to me that analytical philosophers largely saw themselves as largely influenced by Hume, Mill, and Kant. There were a select few people before Descartes that were taught (Aristotle, Plato, the pre-socratics), but this was more of an oddity than the more important and serious ideas of rationalism and empiracism.

  54. Blackadder permalink
    October 17, 2007 2:10 am

    “Who is an example of an analytical Thomist? The idea of combining the two doesn’t make sense to me.”

    My girlfriend is always saying the same thing. Oh well. A bit on analytical Thomism, including some better known practitioners, can be found here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytical_Thomism

  55. T.J. Narom permalink
    October 17, 2007 8:51 am

    Policraticus:
    “Opit, your concept of “pro-life,” aside from being artificial, is quite truncated. You seem to reduce “pro-life” to the strictly legal sphere, whereas those of us who are pro-life understand that it is much broader and deeper, affecting the most integral aspects of public and private life–moral, religious, economic and social. So while you get caught up in the sheer legality of the issue, entirely misdiagnosing and misrepresenting both the problem and the response, those of us who actually consider the question more deeply work to change culture, not strictly law. Being pro-life isn’t merely about changing laws; it’s about fostering true human dignity in the very bones and the bowels of society.”

    I’m going to assume that when you say pro-abortion that you are referring to the pro-choice movement. In your post, you insulted the pro-choice movement based solely on their views on the legality of abortion. When someone then provides a justification for the legality of abortion, which also serves as a criticism of the pro-life view on criminalizing abortion, you then downplay the significance of that aspect of the pro-life position. How do you justify criticizing the pro-choice movement based solely on laws surrounding abortion, but exempt yourself from criticism in that regard? It strikes me as a tad hypocritical.

  56. T.J. Narom permalink
    October 17, 2007 8:59 am

    Unless you don’t want to make abortion illegal. Then I take everything back.

  57. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 17, 2007 1:22 pm

    TJ

    To refer to the pro-choice movement as pro-abortion is not insulting. When the game began, the two sides were pro-abortion and anti-abortion. Anti-abortion became pro-life over time, and then pro-abortion became pro-choice. As to the substance of your criticism, I and others have no problem arguing againt liberterian reasons or feminist reasons for having a right to abortion. Considering that our interlocuters have given the self-appelation of feminist to themselves, one would have thought it logical to treat them as feminists. From your comments and others I have seen, it appears that a significant number of feminists find their internal arguments unconvincing and have adopted liberterian arguments.

  58. T.J. Narm permalink
    October 17, 2007 5:52 pm

    “To refer to the pro-choice movement as pro-abortion is not insulting.”
    I never said it was.

    “From your comments and others I have seen, it appears that a significant number of feminists find their internal arguments unconvincing and have adopted liberterian arguments.”
    I’m plenty convinced by feminist arguments, actually. However, I wasn’t arguing about that myself; I was just pointing out something I saw as overtly disingenuous.

  59. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    October 17, 2007 6:08 pm

    Your statement was: “In your post, you insulted the pro-choice movement based solely on their views of the legality of abortion.” I don’t see how I failed to render your words fairly.

    I do not believe you are convinced by the feminist arguments. If you were, you wouldn’t have used a liberterian one. As I’ve read more on this, this seems to be a common trait among the young feminists.

  60. Cranefly permalink
    October 17, 2007 9:38 pm

    M.Z.,

    You’re not making sense here. If you made an argument similar to one made by Kierkegaard in some respect, would I be justified in declaring that you’d found internal Catholic philosophy unconvincing and had adopted a Lutheran stance? Is it wholly unlikely that philosophies which disagree on some points might hold similar arguments on others?

    For even-handedness:

    T.J.,

    Your allusions about movement labeling were also confusing — it looked like you were calling the label an insult, and your argument about inconsistency got lost. On a site that opposes abortion, insisting on the label ‘pro-choice’ is asking a bit much. Just be glad no one called you ‘anti-human.’

  61. Policraticus permalink*
    October 17, 2007 11:43 pm

    In your post, you insulted the pro-choice movement based solely on their views on the legality of abortion.

    Not even close.

  62. Policraticus permalink*
    October 17, 2007 11:45 pm

    Who is an example of an analytical Thomist? The idea of combining the two doesn’t make sense to me.

    Nor does it make much sense to me. But there are those who try. The most prominent who come to mind are Anthony Kenny, Brian Davies and Eleanore Stump.

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