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Reply #18: Progressivism has involved a steady expansion of rights, however... [View All]

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Kurt_and_Hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-21-08 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #11
18. Progressivism has involved a steady expansion of rights, however...
Progressivism has involved a steady expansion of rights, however that does not argue for the infinite expansion of rights.

Rights are not goods in themselves, but in how they protect the autonomy of individuals.

The unique DNA argument suggests that perhaps I should be able to kill one of a pair of identical twins with impunity.

I do not offer the following for real, nessecarily, but as an example:

A person is best defined as an individual conciousness, which avoids the identical twin problem. "Cogito ergo sum." Consciouness is a funtion of continuity of memory. So the continuity of a *person* ranges from that point she first forms memories that can persist throughout life... when she first contibutes to that unique chain of conciousness that we will always call Jane X. So Jane X isn't really Jane X until she's 2-3 years old. But 2 year old Jane has a distinct personality, is learning language, etc.

Is 2 year-old Jane really jane, or is she a template in the process of becoming Jane?

Within 100 years it may be possible to make a machine that could churn out trillions of unique embryos, even running through the genetic permutations of only two parents. Since the world cannot support trillions of people, all those folks are going into the trash can no matter what. Will that be genocide?

So I always fall back on common sense, A person is a gentically human entity with which a person can meaningfully empatise without jumping through the sort of hoops I just laid out. At the very least, a person should be a category than cave people knew existed. Our human empathy evolved without a single person knowing how babies were manufactured. No one had every recognized an early stage embryo. It was not a category that existed throughout our eveolution. So to call it human (which is an innate concept) is a stretch. It's like calling chimpanzees human. There's an argument to be made, but the argument is based on a lot of electron microscope stuff of which no one was aware when we developed our sense of empathy.

The expansion of rights as a project untio itself--rights for the sake of rights--encounters a reducto ad absurdum pretty fast. Do Vegans eat living things? Yes, they do. And no matter how far they push their ethics into the extrapolative realm they still will. The monsters! Heck, I just inhaled millions of bacteria that are doomed to die (I hope!) within my mouth and nose.

If we can expand rights to entities beyond our basic sense of human being without limiting the autonomy of folks we know for SURE are human beings, I'm all for it.

But since the fetus is an ethical project and the mother is unmistakably Human waith a capital H, I know where I stand on this one.

I do believe fetuses deserve much protection as an incredibly valuable and special sort of proprty of the mother, and to the father if that doesn't conflict with the mother. If I intentionally caused a miscarraige in a woman who didn't want to miscarry I should be punished quite harshly. It just probably shouldn't be called murder.

(We have the same penalty for everything anyway... you can get sent away longer for drugs than for intentionally blinding someone.)

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