This is the crux. If rights are based on basic desires, then right for continued existence requires a sophisticated desire for continued existence. Singer's Animal rights arguments are based on sentient based desires relating to pain, but it is important to note that sentience while granting a right to freedom from pain, quite rightly in itself doesn’t grant a right to life or continued existence. The lit is quite clear on that. So sentience by itself cannot be used to justify not killing a baby & pain levels are irrelevant if the killings are done in a human way which is quite possible for a baby.
Also note many moral philosophers are basically saying what is morally relevant, is what you are, not where you are, so to date there are very few moral philosophers who think viability holds any water. Certainly Singer and David Boonin who is one of the best Liberal philosophers on the subject won't have a bar of it.
Summarised if personhood and its accompanying desire for continued existence is what grants existential rights the Singer’s fallacy holds and things that don’t have those capacities don’t prima facie have those rights. Potentiality nor sentience even combined won’t save you.(BTW the reverse of this fallacy is also true things that were once persons shouldn’t have the rights of persons so a coma victim fails the test)
So if a prenatal humans fail to have basic rights or protection so does a baby & from similar reasoning bare sentience only excludes suffering, not the death of a baby. Also if sentience, viability and the ability to transfer primary care is relevant then there are many other sentient animals that are also sentient, viable and are capable of having their primary care transferred. So if one isn’t to be arbitrary and speciest we should mandate that all these other animals must have the same treatment as human babies.
Or alternatively if you allow some people their arbitrary personal preferences on killing or saving the life of non person non human animals, to be consistent you should also allow those parents who don’t want the baby the option to kill it if that is their preference.
If you then want to ignore Singer’s Potentiality fallacy then actualising or having the capacity the capacity for personhood isn’t going to be the only way to ground existential rights and you open up other avenues. You are on the horns of a dilemma either way.
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.