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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Importance of Making Distinctions

There are many important distinctions that need to be made in the abortion issue that are often overlooked. I don't know how our culture got to a point in which people are generally incapable of making basic distinctions, but it seems we've gotten to this point. Making distinctions is absolutely critical to clear thinking. Aside from the distinction I mentioned earlier, here are two more that need to be kept in mind in our discussions about abortion...

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Are Unborn Children Just Like Born Children?

I was reading a pro-choice blog in which the author had an experience with a pro-life woman. The author asked this woman if a child who dies in a car accident is just like a child who is aborted. Incredulous that the woman would believe this, the author says, "I them [sic] pointed to my boyfriend's aunt who lost her child in a car accident last her [sic] and told her to tell that woman that people that make the decision to have an abortion is [sic] on the same level of her losing the child she raised and loved for sixteen years."

There are several things that are wrong with this response. Apparently the woman the author was talking to did not have the education behind her, but when the author posed this question to her the woman did not know how to respond. The problem with the author's assumption here is that when a pro-life person says that the unborn are just like born children, although this may be a sloppy way of putting it, what we really mean is that fundamentally, there is no difference between unborn and born children. They have the same human nature, they are full-fledged members of our species. Of course there are differences -- older children are sentient, conative, self-aware, conscious, etc. But in the morally relevant sense, an unborn child is fundamentally and numerically the same entity as his/her older self.

Additionally, there's a further confusion in that she rightly points out that the child who died in the car accident had been raised and loved for sixteen years, and an unborn child who is killed by abortion hasn't. But again, this is not a difference in nature between the two. Being raised and loved does not make you a member of our species.

So while it's not exactly the same thing to kill a child in abortion and to lose a child you have invested in for 16 years, in both cases the same kind of entity has been killed. It is tragic to lose a child in a car accident, and we shouldn't downplay that. But in some respects, abortion is worse because the child is purposely killed with the consent of his/her own parents.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Words Matter

Language is one of the most important aspects of being human. It's what sets us apart from animals. Language is how we communicate our desires and our needs. Language helps us understand and make sense of the world around us, and it lets us make distinctions so we can know how one thing differs from another.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

An Abortion Book for the Kiddos

You may have heard by now that there's a children's book written by Mary Walling Blackburn called Sister Apple, Sister Pig. It's a children's book about abortion. A book about a very adult topic written to children that you wouldn't yet talk about the event that preceded the abortion (the birds and the bees, and all that). You can find the book for free at the link provided, though at free the book is still highly overpriced.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What's in a Category?

If a pro-choice person you're talking to understands the distinction between the question of biological humanity and philosophical personhood, he/she will undoubtedly attempt to find some property/properties that persons must possess in order to be a person. Some common ones are consciousness, self-awareness, sentience (meaning the ability to sense and feel pain), and desires.

While the person is attempting to locate personhood grounded in these properties, they will usually support their criteria by arguing from analogy. Rocks are not conscious things, and it is not wrong to destroy rocks. The unborn are not conscious, so it is not wrong to destroy the unborn. This can be a common comparison, such as one being made by this individual whose article I came across. Even professional philosophers engage in these kinds of comparisons, although unlike those at the popular level they make a better comparison. They don't compare the unborn to inanimate objects like rocks, but will compare them to other living things, such as when Mary Anne Warren, in her essay On the Legal and Moral Status Of Abortion, argues that the unborn, in the relevant respects of consciousness, are less personlike than the average fish.

The problem with this argument is that it commits a lesser known logical fallacy called the category error fallacy (or category mistake). A category error is a semantic or ontological error in which things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category.[1] For example, the statement "the number seven smells like pine trees" is a category mistake because numbers are abstract objects and don't produce odors.

So what's the category error being made here? By comparing unborn human embryos/fetuses to objects like rocks or living things which do not possess consciousness in the relevant sense to have personhood attributed to them, these pro-choice people are attributing the category of non-consciousness to the unborn human embryo/fetus, when in fact the unborn are not non-conscious, they are pre-conscious. This is an important difference. It is not wrong to destroy rocks because they are not the kind of thing which has a serious right to life. Nor are fish the kind of thing that has a serious right to life (and if they were, it would be just as wrong to kill immature fish as it is to kill mature ones). Your intrinsic value and rights depend on the kind of thing that you are. Since the unborn belong to a conscious species and they are self-directed entities who will develop the present capacity for consciousness if not prevented from doing so, they are in a different category than rocks and guppies.

So whether or not the active potential to develop along the path of human development is morally relevant to the unborn human's intrinsic value (as I argue it is), comparing unborn human beings to non-conscious entities does not do the work of arguing against it.

[1] Simon Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 58.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Pro-Choice Activist Spent Two Days as a Pro-Life Activist, Part II

I recently wrote an article about Robin Marty, a pro-choice journalist who attended the East Coast Walk for Life and then wrote about her experience. You can read part one here.

My reason for writing these articles is not just to give my thoughts on her experience, but also to emphasize the fact that I think it takes a lot of courage to attend an organization with people who disagree with you on a controversial topic in an attempt to get to know the people on the other side better. If more of us took the time to do that, we'd probably be able to have better conversations more often.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Regarding PZ Myers' Unsophisticated Diatribe on Kristan Hawkins

PZ Myers is at it again, this time ranting about pro-life apologist Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America. I've taken Myers to task before for his dishonest argumentation when he railed against Scott Klusendorf when Scott appeared on the Issues, Etc. podcast. Kristan gave a pro-life presentation at UMM College called "The Ugly Truth About Abortion: How it Does More than Just Kill Babies." Myers apparently attended the presentation, then decided to dismiss Kristan's entire case and write about it on his blog. You can view the article here. Let's take a look at Myers' response.

Read the rest at the Life Training Institute blog.