Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login?

Theoretical Philosophy » The Metaphysics of Deformity » 2/21/2016 5:14 pm

Scott
Replies: 18

Go to post

iwpoe wrote:

My problem was more that it seems to me that one has to say at some point a deformation disqualifies something from being a member of its original teleologically proper class: a mutation occurs and now it grows scales, gills, and can only swim- seems to me to be a fish.

Sure, but again, if you're talking about a change from one generation to the next, there's nothing especially problematic or controversial about it. Indeed, if there's a mutation involved, it's not even obvious any longer that the fish is receiving its form solely from its biological parents.

Theoretical Philosophy » The Metaphysics of Deformity » 2/21/2016 1:11 pm

Scott
Replies: 18

Go to post

iwpoe wrote:

The question is really: 'does something living ever stop to being an instantiation of its form on the basis of organic deformity?'

I think Greg's right that the answer is no. An otter, no matter how deformed, never stops being an otter until it's dead, at which point its form is just gone.

iwpoe wrote:

The reasoning surrounding evolutionary theory, speciation, and classical metaphysics would probably be relevant here: after all, provided that one thinks, for instance, that human beings have a distinct form from their evolutionary ancestors, there would have had to [have] been a point in the past where an organic process led to the material instantiation of a form entirely distinct from prior ones. How is this accounted for metaphysically?

There's nothing especially strange about a form's conferring the ability to produce other, different forms. That's how St. Augustine dealt with that question (if memory serves; I don't have a source at hand).

But a species's giving rise to another species by substances' giving birth to substances with different forms from their parents' is one thing. That scenario differs fundamentally from a single substance's suffering a change of its own form.

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 4:58 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

No problem. And one more thing before I disappear entirely for a while: none of this last round of clarification has any direct bearing on the basic pro-life argument I summarized in Post #32 of this thread. Even if everything I've said about "intent" is flat wrong, what would follow is that according to that argument, it's not permissible to excise a cancerous uterus when there's a live fetus in it. So you may want to start thinking about what you find questionable about that argument itself.

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 4:23 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

Mattman wrote:

It would be deliberate because the action produces the death of the fetus in a certain way?

No, and this is fundamental: it would be deliberate because the intent of the action is to bring about the death of the fetus.

Mattman wrote:

Let's take this example...

Let's not. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

Seriously, I'm deliberately avoiding specific cases and sticking to extremes because I have no relevant expertise; for a particular "in-between" case, you'd want to consult a priest or a Catholic bioethicist My concern here is with principles, and until we've got those clear, there's no point in complicating things.

Mattman wrote:

however in the case where there IS a fetus in the cancerous uterus it seems it would be a way of producing a dead fetus.

Only because you're still not distinguishing carefully between knowing that something will in fact result from an act, on the one hand, and on the other, performing the act for that reason. I'd recommend reflecting on that for a while, and do please check out that Jensen book if you have time/money.

At any rate, I'm about to be away from my computer for an unknown period (and I'm expecting to be busy tomorrow), so I'll have to leave the conversation to others for a while. Thanks for the interesting chat, and I hope we're making some progress on the stuff that's bothering you.

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 3:53 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

Skipping some bits in order to focus on what I think are the most important parts:

Mattman wrote:

But wouldn't the taking of the life not be deliberate in this case-- BECAUSE he is saving the mothers life and that is the unintended side effect of cleaning out the uterus?

I wouldn't say so. The taking of the life would be deliberate; it would just be done with the motive of saving the mother's life. Surely you see the difference between (a) deliberately killing the fetus in order to save the mother's life, and (b) saving the mother's life in a way that happens to result in the death of the fetus.

If not, then the example we're already considering should help:

Mattman wrote:

If we are going by intent Wouldn't the intent of both be to terminate the pregnancy which is causing the problem?

Removing a cancerous uterus is pretty clearly not a way of producing a dead fetus and has no essential connection with that outcome. A doctor could do it even if the woman weren't pregnant at all.

(More fancifully, suppose the Green Goblin tosses a pregnant woman off the top of the Brooklyn Bridge; Spider-Man swings in and catches her around the waist, saving her life, but the impact kills her unborn child. Surely it's obvious that Spider-Man's act isn't one of deliberately bringing about the death of the child in order to save the mother. He'd have done the same thing to save her life even if she hadn't been pregnant.)

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 2:37 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

Mattman wrote:

I think what I'm having an issue with is when/how we know when something is deliberate, directly intended.

And I think you're entirely justified in having an issue with that; in most cases, it's hard to tell. But that's a question of what we can (in practice) know, not of morality itself. Somewhat analogously, I might have a lot of trouble counting up exactly how many jellybeans there are in a jar. But I still know that if there are 23,793, I can divide the jellybeans into 721 piles of 33 jellybeans each with none left over. Likewise, I may not be sure what a specific doctor's intentions are, but that doesn't alter my knowledge that if they're of a certain sort, his act is wrong.

I don't want to overcomplicate things here, but it's probably important to note that in Catholic moral theology, three things factor into the moral evaluation of an act: the objective nature of the act itself, the motivation behind the act, and the circumstances under which it's performed. The present discussion is about the first.

I mention this because it's another possible source of confusion. If an act is wrong in its objective nature, then (e.g.) motivation doesn't make it right; it just reduces culpability. So we don't want to get sidetracked into discussions of the motives of the abortionist; according to Catholic moral theology, at least, if he's performing an abortion in order to save the mother's life, that fact may render him less personally culpable, but it doesn't alter the objective nature of the act itself, which is the deliberate taking of an innocent life.

My point here is that at least one sort of "intent" -- better called motive -- is irrelevant to the moral nature of the act. The only kind that matters here is the kind that's "built in" to the objective nature of the act itself. To put it roughly, if somebody is deliberately killing a fetus, it doesn't matter (to our evaluation of the act itself, ignorin

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 1:50 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

The basic pro-life argument, for reference, is essentially this:

(1) The deliberate, directly-intended taking of innocent life is everywhere and always wrong/evil. ("Innocent" is important here. The premise doesn't rule out the capital punishment of criminals, nor does it forbid the killing of non-human animals, which are not "innocent" for the simple reason that they are not capable of moral guilt in the first place.)

(2) Wrong/evil acts are not rendered good, or even permissible, by their further consequences.

(3) Abortion is, by definition, the deliberate, directly-intended taking of an innocent unborn life.

Therefore: abortion is everywhere and always wrong/evil, even when supposedly performed for the sake of good consequences. (Again, this doesn't rule out e.g. removing the cancerous uterus of a pregnant woman, or excising the fallopian tube from a woman suffering an ectopic pregnancy, even though these operation indirectly result in the death of the embryo and could in that sense be said to "kill" it.)

So there you go. The logic is pretty clearly valid (or can be made so by tightening up some of my loose language), so if you want to find flaws, you'll want to concentrate most of your argumentative fire on the premises: the principle that deliberately taking innocent life is wrong, and the principle that we are not permitted to do evil so that good may result. (You may also wish to question the Doctrine of Double Effect, but that doesn't play any direct role in the argument, just in the apparent exceptions.) In addressing those points, you'll be clarifying what I suggested you clarify in the last sentence of my previous post.

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 1:32 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

Mattman wrote:

I definitely agree that the embryo is innocent but I don't see why that would make it wrong to kill it in this case.

Well, there's your fundamental issue, then. You don't agree that deliberately taking an innocent life is wrong.

Mattman wrote:

If a toddler was drugged and coming at me with a knife I think you should be able to kill it. It would be innocent.

You continue to fail to make the distinction we've been discussing. As I've already said, you may well be morally permitted to "kill it" if that means defending yourself by doing something that happens to result in its death, if you have no non-lethal alternative. But that's not the same thing as directly willing its death and acting on that intent. (And, as I've implied, you can't kill it if some less deadly alternative is available to you. I'm betting you could manage to take out a drugged toddler without killing it, even if it had a knife.)

Mattman wrote:

The threat to the mother comes from the embryo being in the womb. Once the embryo goes so does the threat. The two can't be separated.

I think DanielCC has already addressed this. You're equivocating on the word "threat" here. The embryo isn't threatening anyone in the relevant sense; indeed, in the case of rape, not only is it not an aggressor, it's a second victim.

Mattman wrote:

I don't understand why someone must have the intent to do you harm in order for you to defend your life-- especially when the persons existence itself is the threat.

I don't think I've ever said or implied that someone else's intent to do me harm is a necessary condition of my moral liberty to defend my life. Whether and when such defense can involve accidental and/or deliberate killing -- that's the issue.

Mattman wrote:

I do agree with her right to terminate a pregnancy so she can save herself- no matter what the means are. Is this what you agree with??

No.

None of this, it seems to me, is getting us one bit closer

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 12:09 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

Mattman wrote:

But if we can say that someone who crushes a babies skull because it is stuck dangerously in the mom, doesn't kill the baby . . .

But of course he does "kill the baby" in the sense that he acts in a way that results in its death. That doesn't mean he does so deliberately and with the direct intent of bringing about that death.

That's the very distinction that I'm concerned not be elided: not all killing is deliberate, directly-intended killing.

Mattman wrote:

Do you think someone who aborts a baby could say that they didn't kill their baby they just removed it from their body.

No. (Well, they could say it, but they'd be wrong.) The question is whether such killing is justified, not whether it's killing at all.

(I'll be busy elsewhere for a while but I'll check back later. In the meantime, I hope somebody else will jump back in, especially if anyone thinks I've said something incorrect. That's one of the reasons I thought the discussion would be better held on an open forum.)

Practical Philosophy » The Abortion issue. » 2/20/2016 12:03 pm

Scott
Replies: 79

Go to post

Mattman wrote:

I don't understand why I can kill someone else via self defense but not an embryo who is threatening the life or sanity of a child.

Primarily because the embryo is innocent and the one you're defending yourself against isn't.

Moreover, you're not automatically justified in killing someone just because he's attacking you with murderous intent. If deadly force is the only way to stop him, then sure -- but even then you shouldn't directly intend/want/seek his death for its own sake.

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum