When I started this thread, I was (obviously) hoping to be able to compare things like abortion. If one could prove that this is where human life begins, then it'd be so much simpler to say whether or not a fetus is a human.
Right now, there doesn't seem to be any possible way. I find myself decrying consensus for being inconsistent, but when I want to debunk a point, I have little choice but to point to consensus as a means to refute an argument.
It's actually a little worrying when I try to think about it logically. What logical reason is there not to murder someone, other than law enforcement? The question is a moral one, that we all know that it's wrong to murder, but I don't know much of a logical argument.
Trying to catch up here a bit... I missed this part upon hopping through.
Logically, you can argue that I guess. In terms of implementation, I'm not sure that is how American culture (Western culture? more?) actually operates. I suspect that more often, the law may inlcude something like "human rights" and make references to living beings along with that. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that human rights are gained simply by virtue of having sentient thought.
When it comes down to a courtroom, some people will argue that the spirit of those laws has been conventionally interpreted to apply only to certain types of being. If "manufactured beings" or "constructs" for example, are not within the original intent of the law or its historical application, then those categories might be excluded.
(Hmm, this sounds rather like some of these games on E about androids, etc. that are treated as slaves...)
I really don't like the prospect of trying to pick and choose what is human without at least trying to develop some set of criteria. I also think it's best to develop such criteria before artificial intelligence is created, so that we're not left with the major split that will inherently develop at that point.
I think there needs to be a point of order on the use of 'human' as a noun - as it is completely synonymous with a lifeform bearing the DNA that makes it member of the Genus Homo and species sapiens. To ask 'when does it become human' is kind of redundant, as it suggests that prior to being an embryo, being born, acquiring self-awareness (or whatever criteria one might choose), a human being must be of some other species entirely.
I see your point, and I struggled with this as I initially wrote up the post. However, human can be an adjective, and the phrases "It's a boy" and "It's a girl" are common and accepted. Saying "He's a boy" and "She's a girl" would be far less oxymoronic, but I think that it allows for a transition, where the baby was always talked about as "it" because nobody knew the gender, but you know by the end of the sentence.
Also, if it's not human before that point, then it's not a species at all.
If you have something you want me to change the title to, though, I have little objection.
I'm far more interested in why humanity would matter.
Pre-supposing an importance to humanity, apart from the self-interest of belonging to that category, is a notion without basis. It is a complete failure to confront the route that has taken us to this state at this point in time (and that which will inevitably move us away from it) in favor of saying "Humans must be special because I happen to be human and I want to feel special". It's this relic of an idea that humans are somehow separate or higher. Putting a barrier up between 'humanity' and 'nature' is a persistent piece of outmoded thinking that blights our society. Legal rights are granted at the whim of social order regardless of whether or not they conform with the actual good in itself or even a principle of right action (were that the case governments would not have been granting and stripping them since time immemorial). They are nothing more.
This doesn't mean that there is not objective good or a course of right action, merely that humans need to get over themselves and realize that their feelings of special snowflake-ness have no bearing on morality.
Also, for anyone that buys that DNA argument, I have about 400 transgenic mice who will be wanting their 'human rights' please
We could go by nature's rules, where it's perfectly acceptable to rape and murder another of one's species or of any other species. Certainly there are a number of people who attempt to defy the natural order of how people are clearly omnivores and choose to live as herbivores. However, I would rather leave nature's laws for anything that only fits with nature, and develop a set of laws for humans dealing with humans. I don't want to try to stop carnivores from eating herbivores; it opens up a door of pure madness.
Oh, and the DNA was already addressed and refuted. I was hoping that the person who refuted it would offer their own possible criteria and help keep the ball rolling, but that was back when I thought this would be a simpler task than it is.
^ Apologies. Missed the joke. Tired.
But an interesting point does get raised by this, in that if we're talking 'human' not in its literal sense, but by which characteristics inspire another human to consider 'it' as human, then it's clear that these characteristics are highly subjective and often nebulous. It seems pretty obvious to me that there's no clear demarkation point in this, so who should be the arbiter of what or what isn't representative of fully human characteristics?
Okay, I'll throw this one in here: when an 'it' acquires such characteristics that they inspire another human to consider it a human being, then we can consider 'it' a human being. And prior to 'it' being born - after which many other parties will likely consider 'it' a human being - who would be a better judge of this than the human who is closest to 'it' from the very outset, right from the moment she discovers she is pregnant?
The effort is appreciated. We have too many people who are trying to just mock the thread and point out how politics doesn't handle things that way, and miss the irony that they're working against those who want to handle it another way.
This criteria doesn't really solve the "subjective" problem, but actually amplifies it. Without some sort of rules, we must point to consensus, but in your suggestion, consensus cannot exist because we're choosing individual judges to the task.
So, whatever your stance on abortion, go ahead and decide when life begins based on that. Even though you may not be a health care professional, or a scientist, or anything that might qualify you to make such an assumption. It's human nature, after all. /sarcasm
I would absolutely adore if you can get a health care professional, a scientist, or anything of that nature to provide a definitive answer. That was actually the point of the thread, trying to determine this.