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  #1  
Old Sep 23, '13, 10:25 pm
Tous_Logous's Avatar
Tous_Logous Tous_Logous is offline
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Default Personhood

I realize that many non-Catholics who are pro-abortion make the argument that a "fetus" is not a person, or does not have a concept of personhood.

If that's the case, how do such people define "personhood?" Do they define it based upon age? For example, is a 2 year old a rational human being, therefore a "person?" Why do toddlers have unalienable human rights but an unborn child does not (an unborn child, afterall, is technically a human being, therefore rational, and essentially a "person?")? Are those who are disabled/handicapped/special needs considered "persons?"

Is their version of personhood determined by how developed a child is in the womb? For example, is a baby at 4 weeks old "less" than a person as he/she would be at 18 weeks after fertilization? How would we know exactly what stage that a "fetus" becomes a "person?"

Is it based upon being "alive?" I know that pro-abortion people make the argument that a "fetus" is not alive, or not "developed" enough to be a "person" yet. A "fetus" technically exhibits all the scientific characteristics of "life" (or at least, what we currently know about it), so I would think the idea that personhood=being "alive" is a false one.

When I was still in my mother's womb, she said that she never considered me a "fetus." I was her "baby," her "child." I would certainly not see any potential future offspring of mine as "fetuses." To her, I always had personhood from the moment of conception.

I know I'm going all over the place with my questions but it truly boggles my mind as to how illogical all this seems..upon birth a child is considered a person, but that same human being that came into the world upon conception is not a person or "less" of a person? I am not a philosopher nor too educated in philosophy in general, but I am a scientist.

I am just, overall, wondering where pro-abortion people get their concept(s) of what defines "personhood."
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  #2  
Old Sep 23, '13, 10:31 pm
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MarcoPolo MarcoPolo is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tous_Logous View Post
I am just, overall, wondering where pro-abortion people get their concept(s) of what defines "personhood."
If you go by many media-promoted "pro-choicers," the baby is never figured in the equation. The argument is shrouded in a "woman's right" and the focus never goes beyond her.

Sometimes you will get strange answers or ones that actually say that certain lives are less valuable or some arbitrarily define it with intelligence level, or court ruling, etc... But by and large, my observation is that there is not much, if any, consideration given to the aborted person.
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  #3  
Old Sep 24, '13, 12:01 am
Bagheera Bagheera is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tous_Logous View Post
I am not a philosopher nor too educated in philosophy in general, but I am a scientist.
Since you are a scientist, you will have no problem with the following reasoning.

Let's "reverse engineer" an adult, who is undoubtedly a person. In the thought experiment, let's substitute his organs - one at a time - with an artificial prosthesis. Let's leave his brain / mind alone. During this process this human will retain his "personhood". Basically he will act and think just as he did before (cyborg). Even if in this process we would "discard" all those organs, which are not related to maintain the functionality of the brain (arms, legs etc...), he would still stay a person, albeit a seriously handicapped one. Theoretically we could go further, and substitute each neuron with an identically working artificial replica, and the functionality of the mind would stay the same. This would be a non-biological person.

On the other hand, let's sever the connection between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain (lobotomy) and this human would not be a "person" any more (One flew over the cuckoo's nest). If there would be a serious brain damage he would be in a persistent vegetative state (Terri Schiavo).

So the conclusion is that a well-functioning mind is what makes us "persons". As such, before there is an electro-chemical brain activity, one cannot "grant" personhood to the developing organism - at least not on rational ground. That is all.
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  #4  
Old Sep 24, '13, 12:08 am
Bahman Bahman is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

It is a person since the time of conception.
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  #5  
Old Sep 24, '13, 12:33 am
Petaro Petaro is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post
Since you are a scientist, you will have no problem with the following reasoning.

Let's "reverse engineer" an adult, who is undoubtedly a person. In the thought experiment, let's substitute his organs - one at a time - with an artificial prosthesis. Let's leave his brain / mind alone. During this process this human will retain his "personhood". Basically he will act and think just as he did before (cyborg). Even if in this process we would "discard" all those organs, which are not related to maintain the functionality of the brain (arms, legs etc...), he would still stay a person, albeit a seriously handicapped one. Theoretically we could go further, and substitute each neuron with an identically working artificial replica, and the functionality of the mind would stay the same. This would be a non-biological person.

On the other hand, let's sever the connection between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain (lobotomy) and this human would not be a "person" any more (One flew over the cuckoo's nest). If there would be a serious brain damage he would be in a persistent vegetative state (Terri Schiavo).

So the conclusion is that a well-functioning mind is what makes us "persons". As such, before there is an electro-chemical brain activity, one cannot "grant" personhood to the developing organism - at least not on rational ground. That is all.

There are many functioning persons with a full frontal lobotomy. Don't rely on a Hollywood movie for your science. Terri never lost her Personhood. If a well functioning brain was the sole criteria for personhood, there are a lot of cars being driven around here with no person driving.
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  #6  
Old Sep 24, '13, 1:01 am
GEddie GEddie is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Petaro View Post
There are many functioning persons with a full frontal lobotomy. Don't rely on a Hollywood movie for your science. Terri never lost her Personhood. If a well functioning brain was the sole criteria for personhood, there are a lot of cars being driven around here with no person driving.
Although you are of course right about Schiavo, methinks you exaggerate, in that driving a car is probably the most brain-intensive activity average human beings perform. A breath-filled and well-tuned brain is needed to operate those eyes, limbs, ears, reflexes etc. to operate the vehicle safely.

The amount of brain function needed to drive is far in excess of that needed to determine personhood, as even the most rabid abortionite would say that a passed-out drunk is a person.

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  #7  
Old Sep 24, '13, 3:17 am
Bagheera Bagheera is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Petaro View Post
There are many functioning persons with a full frontal lobotomy. Don't rely on a Hollywood movie for your science.
I don't. The "place" of personality is the frontal lobe. Once it is severed, there is no personality, and as such no "personhood".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Petaro View Post
Terri never lost her Personhood.
No even in death? A corpse is not a person. Death is defined by the cessation of the brain activity. If one "scoops" out the brain, but still maintains the respiration, the functionality of the heart by attaching to a machine, and feeds the body through a few tubes, that is called "persistent vegetative state", and there is a very good reason for that. It is not a "person" any more.
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  #8  
Old Sep 24, '13, 4:46 am
Starrsmother Starrsmother is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

I am a nurse practitioner and nurse midwife. What I have ultimately concluded after many years of dealing with all kinds and mindsets of and in women, is that whether a woman considers her unborn baby to be a fetus or a baby has everything to do with whether she wants and loves the baby and absolutely nothing to do with what the correct scientific terminology is. If you have a background in science, then you obviously know that in a very early pregnancy the baby is called an embryo for medical purposes and only becomes a fetus later on in the 2nd trimester. I have never known any woman to call her unborn child an embryo though--unless she wasn't happy to have it on board. If she wants it, it is most definitely her "baby"--if not, it's her "fetus"!

One of the many wrongs about the abortion culture is the idea of trying to determine a moment--somewhere along the line of fetal development--when the fetus becomes "alive". Many years ago, the scientific community described life's beginning as "quickening" or the feeling of movement at about 20 weeks. It is generally felt that most moms will feel their unborn baby move by about 20 weeks along. Frankly, even that is always arbitrary though--I have 5 kids--I think I probably was about 20 weeks along when I felt my first baby move, but once I knew what movement felt like, I felt my later babies as early as 13 or 14 weeks. So, even this has nothing to do with understanding the very real truth--that life begins at the very moment of conception.

What has changed over modern time is not WHEN life begins, but rather when--through advanced techniques we can first DETERMINE that life is there--and that gets earlier and earlier every year! We no longer have to inject rabbits with a pregnant woman's urine and wait to see if it dies to know if a woman is pregnant. A serum Hcg will give you a positive by sometimes 3 or 4 weeks along. A baby's heart begins to beat on about day 44--but the baby is very much alive before that and can move--it just doesn't have a beating heart yet! With newer pregnancy tests, ultrasound etc., we can visualize the baby and even hear its heart earlier and earlier all the time. With new technology, wanted babies delivered more and more prematurely can be saved--when once upon a time they almost always died. When I was a young girl, President John Kennedy and his wife (who smoked and had a history of poor pregnancy outcomes) delivered a little boy at about 34 weeks along. That baby was frightfully premature in the 60''s and died in a few days due to lung immaturity or what is known as hyaline membrane disease. Today, almost no baby that makes it to 34 weeks can't be saved. A wanted baby can sometimes be saved as early as 23 or 24 weeks--though granted, they usually suffer immense health issues such as C.P., eye problems, short gut syndrom, etc from such an early birth.

Thus, the question is not now, nor has it ever been WHEN does life begin? The question is how soon can we humans be AWARE that a new life exists! And what that new life is referred to by its mother depends on what her plans are for the pregnancy and nothing more.
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  #9  
Old Sep 24, '13, 6:03 am
GEddie GEddie is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post
I don't. The "place" of personality is the frontal lobe. Once it is severed, there is no personality, and as such no "personhood".
No even in death? A corpse is not a person. Death is defined by the cessation of the brain activity. If one "scoops" out the brain, but still maintains the respiration, the functionality of the heart by attaching to a machine, and feeds the body through a few tubes, that is called "persistent vegetative state", and there is a very good reason for that. It is not a "person" any more.
Personality != personhood. Personality is how the person relates to others, not the person themself.

IMNAAHO personality is given more importance than it has. Whether someone is quiet, smileyfacey, etc, is not what defines them.

And it is true that a dead body is not a person; I don't think that's what the poster had in mind in mentioning Schiavo however.

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  #10  
Old Sep 24, '13, 6:37 am
Petaro Petaro is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by GEddie View Post
Although you are of course right about Schiavo, methinks you exaggerate, in that driving a car is probably the most brain-intensive activity average human beings perform. A breath-filled and well-tuned brain is needed to operate those eyes, limbs, ears, reflexes etc. to operate the vehicle safely.

The amount of brain function needed to drive is far in excess of that needed to determine personhood, as even the most rabid abortionite would say that a passed-out drunk is a person.

ICXC NIKA
Is humour out of order on these posts? Personhood is an artificial attribute, that is founded on Peter Singer's flawed philosophy. It cannot substitute for the unbroken genetic makeup of a fetus, the development of which is unbroken from conception to birth. If you accept the premise of a 'normal' brain as the criteria of personhood, then you open up the argument to nazi-style eugenics and the subjective definition of normal.
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  #11  
Old Sep 24, '13, 6:53 am
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MarcoPolo MarcoPolo is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post
Since you are a scientist, you will have no problem with the following reasoning.

Let's "reverse engineer" an adult, who is undoubtedly a person. In the thought experiment, let's substitute his organs - one at a time - with an artificial prosthesis. Let's leave his brain / mind alone. During this process this human will retain his "personhood". Basically he will act and think just as he did before (cyborg). Even if in this process we would "discard" all those organs, which are not related to maintain the functionality of the brain (arms, legs etc...), he would still stay a person, albeit a seriously handicapped one. Theoretically we could go further, and substitute each neuron with an identically working artificial replica, and the functionality of the mind would stay the same. This would be a non-biological person.

On the other hand, let's sever the connection between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain (lobotomy) and this human would not be a "person" any more (One flew over the cuckoo's nest). If there would be a serious brain damage he would be in a persistent vegetative state (Terri Schiavo).

So the conclusion is that a well-functioning mind is what makes us "persons". As such, before there is an electro-chemical brain activity, one cannot "grant" personhood to the developing organism - at least not on rational ground. That is all.
Why is development of brain function the measure of whether or not the being is a person?
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  #12  
Old Sep 24, '13, 7:21 am
marymary1975 marymary1975 is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Truth is the pro choice opinion is the most contradictory and illogical thing in the world. Once I was in a discussion with a group of pro choices and they all had to agree that the only position that makes sense and has consistency is the pro life. I wonder why pro lifers don't exploit this personhood point more by the way as pro choices are very divided in here. In that discussion a woman who had two abortions was saying that those fetuses were never persons, and as to her two living children the first one (who had the same length of weeks as the aborted baby which was 13 weeks) "became a person" when she decided that she wanted to have a baby and that het second child "became a person" at 28 werks when she felt it and decided he was a person. Basically you are a person when your mother decides that you are a human being. If your mother doesn't want you then you are screwed because you are not a person anymore (warning : don't ever argue with your mother because she may turn you into a non person !!!) Another article I read from a pro choice woman was saying how her 22 week old aborted baby was never a person and never alive however her 16 week old who she miscarriage was a person and she even mourned the 16 week old and had a funeral....but the older baby was not a person. It is total non sense!
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  #13  
Old Sep 24, '13, 7:31 am
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Peter Plato Peter Plato is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

I take personhood to be an aspect of a human being, an aspect which develops through time but does not make up the totality of what makes a human being human. Every fully developed human person began at conception and gained and lost functionality through time. It is the entirety of each human life that makes a human being, not merely the extent to which some particular aspects have developed or suffered attrition.

Definitions of "human being" which are based upon functionality or performance will always create serious moral conundrums, which is why pro-choicers opt for these kinds of definitions. They muddy the water and keep moral clarity on the issue at bay. They also cannot be justified by any reasonable moral position since they invariably run into repercussions that are unacceptable even to the promoters when they are pushed to carefully think through their own arguments,

The Ethics of Abortion by Christopher Kaczor is a great resource for detailing the flaws of these kinds of arguments,
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  #14  
Old Sep 24, '13, 8:09 am
anthonymarie anthonymarie is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post
Since you are a scientist, you will have no problem with the following reasoning.

Let's "reverse engineer" an adult, who is undoubtedly a person. In the thought experiment, let's substitute his organs - one at a time - with an artificial prosthesis. Let's leave his brain / mind alone. During this process this human will retain his "personhood". Basically he will act and think just as he did before (cyborg). Even if in this process we would "discard" all those organs, which are not related to maintain the functionality of the brain (arms, legs etc...), he would still stay a person, albeit a seriously handicapped one. Theoretically we could go further, and substitute each neuron with an identically working artificial replica, and the functionality of the mind would stay the same. This would be a non-biological person.

On the other hand, let's sever the connection between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain (lobotomy) and this human would not be a "person" any more (One flew over the cuckoo's nest). If there would be a serious brain damage he would be in a persistent vegetative state (Terri Schiavo).

So the conclusion is that a well-functioning mind is what makes us "persons". As such, before there is an electro-chemical brain activity, one cannot "grant" personhood to the developing organism - at least not on rational ground. That is all.
I think this is a very accurate example of what most pro-choicers think today,

I find it very difficult to combat arguements in favour of abortion via personhood. I try to talk about the innate value of life instead. But if I were arguing over this with a pro-choice Christian I would argue that our "names are written in heaven" and that we are not just a collection of failing memories. Who we really are is something we get to find out in heaven.
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Old Sep 24, '13, 8:26 am
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ThinkingSapien ThinkingSapien is offline
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Default Re: Personhood

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcoPolo View Post
Why is development of brain function the measure of whether or not the being is a person?
There's more than one motivation for why a functioning brain is a factor in one's decision on whether or not to grant some one the same rights/considerations/courtesies they s/he would give to other humans. For those whose primary concern is suffering or giving weight to the desires and wishes of another a non-functioning (or partially functioning ) brain may imply that the person is without a capacity for suffering or desires to be considered. Though when a person like this is found outside of a a womb instead of terminating the life a more passive pathway may be taken and letting the person fend for themselves allowing the person's inability to eat be the source of their death. I've asked about children with anencephaly before in this forum. Humans like this have no potential to act beyond a few autonomous. From the responses I received it sounds like when Catholicism is applied it's still not permittable to actively terminate such a pregnancy. Is that correct?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tous_Logous View Post
I know I'm going all over the place with my questions but it truly boggles my mind as to how illogical all this seems..upon birth a child is considered a person, but that same human being that came into the world upon conception is not a person or "less" of a person?
Well, legal personhood isn't an indication of whether or not one is human. For example, black males in the USA didn't have legal personhood prior to 1868. Here personhood was an indication of whether or not some one was granted a set of rights or protections in the law.
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