Hi Angie, Thanks for being civil it is hard enough being the lone voice, but dealing with a endless sneering cheer squad is a drain.
OK Most contempory rights based philosophers argue for rights/morality to make any sense they must be grounded in having desires. So in general when someone starts talking about rights this is the framework you are dealing with.
This is also the case when someone starts talking about sentient based rights. An animal has a desire not to feel pain like us, so Peter Singer argues -though he is a preference utilitarian what is good is the aggregate total preferences linked to desires being fulfilled– so their preferences like ours should be considered. We don’t want to be speciest after all as just belong to a group in itself doesn’t have moral relevance.
So even if he hasn’t stated it implicitly one can read that into his work. Something it seems I’m prepared to do for his work but must be spelt out in him :)
Actually, Ralph, the slippery slope is worse than that. If every sperm is sacred, then all fertile men must have unprotected vaginal sex with a fertile woman every day or so, to prevent unused sperm from being reabsorbed by the body (recycled), because they don't last forever and the testes are constantly making new ones. Worse yet, with IVF methods, we don't have to waste millions or billions of sperm cells in order to fertilize each egg, so we should probably freeze them and store them for use later. But with the imbalance between sperm production and egg production (women only produce a few hundred eggs in their lifetimes), we really only need a handful of men to impregnate all the women worldwide, so we're going to have to kill off most of the men in each generation, except d'oh!, they're all busy generating sacred sperm to astronomical excess. Huh, what to do, what to do? Oh, I know, we could kill most males before they hit puberty. That seems kind of cruel though. Oh, I've got it! Let's abort them as fetuses, in order to balance sperm and egg production. And if we ever perfect somatic cell cloning, we're totally screwed.
Obviously, the soul-begins-at-conception argument easily falls victim to reductio ad absurdum, as Monty Python so eloquently demonstrated. The bottom line is that fetuses are only as important as the parental investment in them. Your Home Depot analogy is spot on. Nature doesn't think they're very valuable, or not so many of them would spontaneously abort. But that's a backwards interpretation. Nature produces extras because life is uncertain. People intuitively understand this, and get that the value of a baby is less than that of an adult, because the adult can make spares, if they haven't already. The value of an unwanted baby is zero or even negative. It may seem cold-hearted to evaluate this in accounting terms, but that's how nature does it. Spiders have millions of babies because not very many will live to reproduce. Men generate billions of sperm and women hundreds of eggs on the same principle. Nature is extremely inefficient because there's strength in numbers. That inefficiency generates an imbalance in supply and demand. And we all know what happens when supply exceeds demand. Too many people on the planet means each human isn't worth much, and fetuses even less. Economics works the same way in families. Too many kids and you hit a point of diminishing returns--more energy input than value output.
It takes an irrational, emotional argument to convince yourself that the economics are irrelevant. Of course, humans are quite prone to such arguments, even to their own obvious detriment.
Simon, nobody's forcing you do debate us lot of ignoramuses. If you want to debate here, and you find the level of existing education lacking, it's incumbent upon you to enlighten us with the clarity of your arguments and supporting evidence.
In any case, moral reasoning isn't exactly rocket science. I'm sure philosophers like to think they've got special insights, but if moral reasoning weren't available to everyone, we'd all be screwed. Well, more than we are. People who have or might have abortions have to work their way thru this without the benefit of philosophy degrees, and they've reached certain conclusions, in aggregate. I think those conclusions are illuminating and worth taking into consideration. It's all well and good to dismiss such pronouncements as the mere prattling of philistines, but you miss the opportunity to inform your philosophy with empirical data.
But where to start? A lot of stuff I've dug off the web myself to follow on with with what I did at uni. It's a pain in the ass, but since I'm want to be informed about the subject that's what has to be done.
Maybe the point is unless those here want to take the time to do a bit of research I am wasting my time as I'm not up to being a teacher to hostile students.
I've tried to do it a less formal way but then get up'ed for not be precise or linking.
& I've tried to use some of the bared down arguments where if a then b and it isn't getting any head way only sneers or nitpicking.
And honestly I don see the point of going to the trouble of trying to link as even when some here have the documents they still stuff it up.
I suppose with due respect, if you are looking for empirical data there is no point debating. A lot of philosophy relies on consistency and valid arguments, but not empirical proof. If you want that don't do philosphy.
To a certain extent, sneering is in the eye of the beholder, so how you take the comments of others is at least partially up to you. But you knew this was a contentious topic going in, so it's to your benefit to tread carefully. Unfortunately, that means defining your terms, spelling out your arguments in some detail, etc. If it's not worth your time (and it may very well not be), then OK. But this forum is unlikely to limit itself to the outlines of your university courses.
Oh, and for the record, I used to find the argument that life begins at conception logically compelling. Until I found out that the percentage of embryos that attach to the uterine wall is quite low, and the percentage of spontaneous abortions is quite high. I don't think the abortion debate makes any sense without reference to the messy business of biology. It's really not possible to come to meaningful conclusions in the vacuum of abstract moral philosophy. If you don't factor in that fertilized ova fail to make it to live birth more than half the time despite the best efforts on the part of the pregnant woman to see that they do, your moral calculations are simply incomplete. Biology provides a normative ethical baseline here. And the empirical facts on the ground point to little more than an investment calculation: If nature doesn't value fetuses all that highly, why should we? Why should they?