Fetuses Have Memories

Now if we could just get around to recognizing them as persons…

newsmax.com/newsfront/fetuses_have_memories/2009/07/16/236295.html

They won’t be considered persons until they jump through all the loops, sadly.

Since someone will likely not like the message and so attack the messenger (Newsmax is considered a tabloid by some), I’ll provide a link to another article and source below.

"The Earliest Fetal Memory?
Dutch Doctors Say the Unborn may Have Memories by the 30th Week of Pregnancy

Like any prospective mom, as 21-year-old Angela Morton goes through her first pregnancy the family stories of her own baby years begin to emerge – including her mother’s trick of calming her with Aerosmith’s 1988 song “Angel” anytime she was a fussing as an infant.

New research shows a fetus can remember things for up to four weeks.“That was the song for me I guess,” said Morton. “But I’ve never even heard it since I was a baby.” …

Full article here: abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=8083181&page=1

Many non-human animals have memories, feel pain, and so forth.

There is no science that indicates fetuses have in a cognitive psychology sense a conception of the mind. That conception doesn’t actually appear until several years after birth. That doesn’t mean it should be legal to kill those already born since the choice to give birth legally binds one to a duty to care for the child just as the choice to acquire a pet legally binds one to a duty to care for the pet. In cases of rape there is no choice to give life to anyone and so there can be no legal duty. In cases of unexpected pregancy one could argue there is a choice insofar as a choice to have sex was made but the law would consider it unreasonable to require everyone who has sex to assume the duty to care for a pregancy should it arise as some kind of fluke.

My understanding is that even though it be that the fetus is its own organism with its own body that that does not mean it is also not part of the woman’s body. We have millions of microorganisms in each of our bodies and they are all part of our body and many of them serve vital functions – if you had no bacteria in your gut you would probably die in short order. So being biologically its own organism does not make it no longer part of the host body.

Given that, even though it be that the fetus be philosophizing about music in the womb, it would not compel the legal conclusion that a woman does not have a right to control over the domain of her own body.

Much is made about whether the organism growing in the womb is of the human species. Surely, it is. But making that the sole criterion for affording legal protection is akin to racism; it is specism. Surely, if we made contact with an alien civilization with an alien biology, maybe not even carbon-based, and this alien species was sentient, we would accord these aliens the same legal rights and personal respect that is due persons for they are persons – i.e. sentient beings. OTOH, if we encountered some alien plant life on Mars, we would not give those organisms such rights and respect just as we do not with terrestial plant life (though we would certainly treasure the scienfitic find). So it is not membership in a particular species that drives our legal and personal attitudes but whether a being is sentient, capable of thought about what it or other minds believes. Yes, newborns likewise scientifically do not have that but there is a legal duty to care for them when one chooses to give birth just as there is for pets one chooses to have.

We must give unto Caesar what is Caeasar’s. Since in America, the legal constitution and founding is based on the Enlightenment and rationalism (which the Deist beliefs of some founders falls in line with), we must address political concerns in concordance with that legal heritage. When one expands the definition of “founding father” to include hundreds of people, one does find a few traditional Christians but when one narrows it to include only the major players, none of them were traditional Christians. As someone who has come to doubt his Christian faith due to learning about the science of memetics, I take solace that God has left in place some cultural, legal principles to guide me in my life.

I admire the courage of those who choose to give birth in difficult or inconvenient circumstances just as I admire the courage of those who volunteer for military service. But neither is in my view a duty and I do not believe anyone in the health care industry nor anyone who seeks government-approved medicine is akin to being a murderer. Doctors become doctors because of interest in science and/or compassion. Patients receive medical care they trust from the medical establishment overseen by government. If one wishes to change the health care landscape, the way to do it is not through the courts or legislatures but rather through the humble and respectful method of engaging with the medical establishment. Anti-choice doctors should dialogue with pro-choice doctors and work from medical principles, not law and politics.

I saw this on the news last night. Fascinating stuff. Another fascinating thing, though, is how the media distinguish between “fetus” and “baby”. Every time the reporter would refer to a pre-born baby, it was a fetus, no matter what gestational stage. After birth they were referred to as babies. It was disconcerting hearing them switch back and forth between the two terms, but it manages to create a complete disconnect. Before it’s born it’s not a baby. They even interviewed a woman who was seven months pregnant who kept referring to her baby as a “fetus”. I got so mad I threw a baked potato at the television.

There is no reason to get mad. Emotion clouds our intellect and is an obstacle to true dialogue.

My understanding is that “fetus” comes from a Latin word that just means “young one.” One’s usage should not be tied down to one technical discipline or another, especially since the same word may be given different definitions in different disciplines. “Theory” for example means one thing in mathematics and a different thing in physics and of course a different thing in common usage. Unless one is in a peculiar context, one should use and expect words as they are commonly used. One should not let any field hijack the dictionary.

The reason I got mad was because “fetus”, used in that context, is absolutely not an objective use of the term. Fetus has a meaning scientifically, but the more widespread use of the term is not done for scientific but for ideological reasons. In terms of hijacking the dictionary, that’s exactly what’s happening. You’re right though, emotion does cloud our intellect. I’ll say that to myself the next time I’m tempted to launch my dinner at the TV.

I agree the dictionary has been hijacked in this and other areas. Just to be clear, I don’t have any issue with a word being used in a technical sense in a technical context. I just hate it when some insist that a word always be used that way even outside of technical contexts. Seems we agree on that.

As for “ideological” … that’s a loaded word. I’m sure people use fetus versus baby for a wide variety of reasons. Some may say fetus to sound more intelligent or knowledgable. Some may say fetus because they don’t believe the fetus is aptly called a baby, perhaps because they don’t think it is sentient. Well that’s just their opinion. You should expect their language to mirror their opinion. So if you think anger is warranted it shouldn’t be directed against the language – that’s just a reflection of their opinion – it should be direcated against their opinion. But we don’t really have control over our opinions. We just have them. I can’t just choose on a whim to change an opinion. I can only change when I am convinced, persuaded. Some may be stubborn and not open to changing their mind and so that may be something to be angry about as long as that’s an openness one has one’s self.

Anger is about displeasure about some circumstance. For those who are anti-choice, this issue of abortion choice is one that implicates the well-being of many individuals or potential individuals. So, one should be motivated by one’s love for those potential individuals and not by one’s distaste or displeasure. We (pro-choice and anti-choice) respect the life of persons not because we find murder distasteful or disgusting but rather because we find personhood good and beautiful and wondrous. Likewise, those who are pro-choice, are motivated by the well-being of women or by the respect they have for a legal framework and its societal value. So these are all on both the anti-choice and pro-choice side, positive emotions and motivations and intellectual ideas. There is no need in my view for anger or any other negative emotion to motivate either side.

So a child’s right to life, even after birth, exists only because of the implied contract given by the woman’s choice not to destroy him in the womb? The child then possesses no inherent right to life up until the age of–what–two, three? If he were killed by his mother at age 1 or 2 years, that would amount to a contract violation rather than murder.

Facinating, check out the last paragraph: straightdope.com/columns/read/2667/do-unborn-babies-urinate-defecate-in-the-womb

So?

There is no science that indicates fetuses have in a cognitive psychology sense a conception of the mind. That conception doesn’t actually appear until several years after birth. That doesn’t mean it should be legal to kill those already born since the choice to give birth legally binds one to a duty to care for the child just as the choice to acquire a pet legally binds one to a duty to care for the pet. In cases of rape there is no choice to give life to anyone and so there can be no legal duty. In cases of unexpected pregancy one could argue there is a choice insofar as a choice to have sex was made but the law would consider it unreasonable to require everyone who has sex to assume the duty to care for a pregancy should it arise as some kind of fluke.

So ones obligation to their pet dog is morally equivalent to their obligation to their child?

My understanding is that even though it be that the fetus is its own organism with its own body that that does not mean it is also not part of the woman’s body. We have millions of microorganisms in each of our bodies and they are all part of our body and many of them serve vital functions – if you had no bacteria in your gut you would probably die in short order. So being biologically its own organism does not make it no longer part of the host body.

So not only is the child akin to our pets but it is also no different from bacteria?

Given that, even though it be that the fetus be philosophizing about music in the womb, it would not compel the legal conclusion that a woman does not have a right to control over the domain of her own body.

After all she can kill her dog and take drugs to kill any bacteria in her so it follows she shold be able to kill her child. makes prefect sense to me.

Much is made about whether the organism growing in the womb is of the human species. Surely, it is. But making that the sole criterion for affording legal protection is akin to racism; it is specism. Surely, if we made contact with an alien civilization with an alien biology, maybe not even carbon-based, and this alien species was sentient, we would accord these aliens the same legal rights and personal respect that is due persons for they are persons – i.e. sentient beings. OTOH, if we encountered some alien plant life on Mars, we would not give those organisms such rights and respect just as we do not with terrestial plant life (though we would certainly treasure the scienfitic find). So it is not membership in a particular species that drives our legal and personal attitudes but whether a being is sentient, capable of thought about what it or other minds believes. Yes, newborns likewise scientifically do not have that but there is a legal duty to care for them when one chooses to give birth just as there is for pets one chooses to have.

So since you dont believe martians should have the right to life neither should an unborn child? what a novel argument

We must give unto Caesar what is Caeasar’s. Since in America, the legal constitution and founding is based on the Enlightenment and rationalism (which the Deist beliefs of some founders falls in line with), we must address political concerns in concordance with that legal heritage. When one expands the definition of “founding father” to include hundreds of people, one does find a few traditional Christians but when one narrows it to include only the major players, none of them were traditional Christians. As someone who has come to doubt his Christian faith due to learning about the science of memetics, I take solace that God has left in place some cultural, legal principles to guide me in my life.

I admire the courage of those who choose to give birth in difficult or inconvenient circumstances just as I admire the courage of those who volunteer for military service. But neither is in my view a duty and I do not believe anyone in the health care industry nor anyone who seeks government-approved medicine is akin to being a murderer. Doctors become doctors because of interest in science and/or compassion. Patients receive medical care they trust from the medical establishment overseen by government. If one wishes to change the health care landscape, the way to do it is not through the courts or legislatures but rather through the humble and respectful method of engaging with the medical establishment. Anti-choice doctors should dialogue with pro-choice doctors and work from medical principles, not law and politics.

Yes we must admire those who put their childs life ahead of being inconvenienced. And of course we should turn to those making a billion dollars a year killing the unborn for adive on the morality of this -after all they are wiser than us.

The Constitution was written by people for people and every person’s life begins at conception and continues to develop from that point.

We have millions of microorganisms in each of our bodies and they are all part of our body and many of them serve vital functions – if you had no bacteria in your gut you would probably die in short order. So being biologically its own organism does not make it no longer part of the host body.

I don’t agree with your analogy. Those microorgansisms do not have my DNA. They may indeed be beneficial or even necessary to my well being but they are not part of my body, they are separate entities living within my body in a symbionic relationship.

Given that, even though it be that the fetus be philosophizing about music in the womb, it would not compel the legal conclusion that a woman does not have a right to control over the domain of her own body.

Purely legal constructions cannot satisfactorily answer the question as to how far a pregnant woman’s right to ‘control over the domain of her own body’ extends when it infringes on the well being of the body, a body having its own DNA, which she harbors within her.

Probably nail her for, at the most, practicing medicine without a license. To treat this different than animal cruelty would be specism at its worse.

And lack of emotion dehumanizes. Why with lack of emotion one might even come o the conclusion that the unborn child is no different from bacteria or their pet turtle.

Yes, I agree that the terminology needs a workover. I wonder if a fetus which has reached the stage of viability outside the womb shouldn’t be called something different. I realize that referring to the child as a baby might be controversial, so perhaps a third term?

I don’t see how anybody could know, with any real detail, what an unborn baby knows, doesn’t know, thinks, etc.

The womb, of course, is a pretty limited environment, so its knowledge could not be great, and its ability to reflect on gained knowledge would be correspondingly limited. But that does not mean the baby can’t think and be aware, even at a very early stage. At what stage, for example, does an unborn child have more brain cells than, say, a salamander, which has a pretty good state of awareness. It would certainly be very early.

(I hesitate to say the following, because it will be tempting to some to think me mad.) I remember being born, and I remember somewhat before it. How long before, I don’t know. No frame of reference. No outside events with which to “tag” the remembrance.

Perhaps, then, I am unusually wary of those who purport to pronounce what an unborn child does or does not know; feels or does not feel; thinks or does not think.

You forget that humans are animals. My point about specism was not focused on non-human animals on earth but on hypothetical sentient aliens. We would respect them and their right to life as we do with any other sentient being even though they are not human. So, being human has nought to do with what moral attitude we should adopt. It is sentience that counts. Humans are no more privileged in creation than any other sentient species that may exist in the universe.

animal neglect and animal cruelty can result in many years in jail. The law treats frozen embryos as property but violation of property laws can also result in many years in jail. Bernie Madoff was recently sentenced to a hundred years or so for his economic crimes. What legal construct is used to define a crime legally does not compel us to have a structurally isomorphic moral construct or moral system of attitudes. In many statutes, a child is defined as under the age of 18, but that does not compel us to limit the scope of adolescent psychology to that age; nothing has prevented psychologists from exploring the immaturity of the brains of twenty somethings. In some constitutional law, marriage is defined as between two persons regardless of sex, but that does not compel theologists from defining marriage as a theological matter to be between the opposite sex or to be possible between one man and several women as in the OT; nor does it compel sociologists or anthropologists from exploring the social construct of marriage and its various conceptions in various societies; nor does it restrain the study of marriage in evolutionary biology or psychology.

So you are using the following argument: there is a structural isomorphism in the way you have legally analyzed pets and newborns in that you think in both cases a legal duty to care is assumed; but since pets and newborn humans are clearly things we should have different moral attitudes towards, your legal analysis should be rejected.

But that argument of yours is unsound and invalid. First of all, a legal duty to care is assumed today not only with regard to pets but with regard to humans. If you let a homeless person rot and starve in the street you commit no crime in most if not all jurisdictions. But in those same jurisdictions if you take it upon yourself to house in your own home that person then you have then assumed a legal duty of care and any neglect you show can become a criminal matter. Does this mean that our law makes pets and homeless people morally equivalent? No. The law and morality are two separate realities. The law is a societal construct whose only purpose is to be technically facile, technically adept at addressing the common good of society. Saying that we shouldn’t put two things in the same legal category for moral reasons is like saying we shouldn’t use the same word “animal” to describe both humans and non-human animals for moral reasons or that we shouldn’t classify in science both humans and chimps as “apes” or “primates.” We can recognize these as good philosophical or scientific schemas and yet still draw a morally relevant distinction between humans and other animals.

Self-centered masturbation is contrary to our moral aspirations but is not a crime under the law. If the law needed to have a certain structural isomorphism to morality, this should be a crime. So law and morality are clearly different. For some, man exists to be moral and for others morality is just intimately tied to man’s being. The law is neither of these things. The law exists to serve man, to serve society. It is a tool. Morality is much more.

As I mentioned cognitive psychologists have already proved that it is not until several years after birth that a conception of the mind is formulated in the brain. If you set a candy bar on a table and ask a 3 year old, “While you are away at pre-school, if I move this candy bar from the table to under the bed, where will you look for it when you come back?” Most 3 year olds will answer “Under the bed.” They do not yet have a conception of the mind and beliefs of the mind. They may have beliefs just as many non-human animals have beliefs. They may have conceptions just as dogs have conceptions but they don’t yet have a conception of the mind. They have conceptions but not conceptions about conceptions and that second-order “intentionality” (i.e. meaning) is the key step. Once an animal reaches that step, it is a matter of course to have conceptions about conceptions about conceptions (third order “intentionality” or meaning), etc. A couple years later, most human children will answer the question correctly.

So it’s easy to know a lot about what an unborn fetus does not know and does not think since we already know a lot about what a born fetus does not know and does not think. We even know a lot about what most 3 year olds do not know and do not think.

So you are right it is hard to show what an unborn fetus knows, but you are wrong about it being hard showing what an unborn fetus does not know.

I should also clarify that no science establishes that unborn fetuses feel pain in the way that more cognitively mature humans do. Many in the field of neuroscience argue that pain has a cognitive character. So for ex., when you feel pain you simultaneously believe that you are feeling pain – not as some kind of inference but as an integral component of the pain experience itself. So pain defined purely physiologically as a system of bodily regulation (unconscious pain for example is operative while you sleep) may exist in virtually all animals, including in unborn fetuses but more than that is something not established by science. The brain includes portions that are involved in involuntary regulation of the body.

It is proved that unborn fetuses could not have anything approaching the cognitive depth of toddlers. The reason is the brain is a neural network that can be in principle expressed in purely abstract terms and in principle even modeled in computer hardware or even software on a Turing computer. No matter how well adapted the brain may be a la the views of Noam Chomsky, there must be input (for humans, sensory input) within which the neural network can make the pattern discriminations that are inherently necessary to the formation of concepts in neural networks. Furthermore, there must be a reward/punishment mechanism that drives the reinforcement or deinforcement of various neural pathways. Now it may be that the unborn fetus is able to be exposed to rich sensory input but clearly there is no reward/punishment mechanism. So there cannot be any cognitive content in the brain of the unborn fetus at all. Some have posited in addition to more primitive emotional drives that can mediate reward/punishment, a “curiousity drive” that can do so but such cannot play a role in the formation of concepts in the unborn fetus since a “curiousity” drive can only come into play after concepts have been formed, i.e. by other more primitive emotional drives which we have shown is impossible.

It is not the number of brain cells that determines cognitive character. It is trivial to create a neural network in software with more artificial neurons than the human brain but dumber than a doorknob. It is the web of synaptic connections dynamically formed (at least initially) by the environment that matters. Our DNA does not do that for us. It may make certain brain areas more suited to certain learning tasks and concepts but our DNA cannot pre-implant concepts themselves in our brain; they have to be formed as I think you recognize.

The coma argument is often brought up but as you may know even someone in a coma still has conceptions; it’s just that the person is unconscious. So the sentience is still there, just not the consciousness. The important thing is that the sentience is there from an information science point of view. If teleportation a la Star Trek were developed for macroscopic objects, it would be against our moral aspirations to impede in some way that stream of information even though that stream of information is not biologically alive under the biological definition of life. So clearly the value we place on ourselves, including hypothetical sentient aliens and sentient, but unconscious humans in a coma is based on the value of the beauty of the information (meant in the technical Shannonian sense of information) that is realized in such. I do value unborn fetuses but frankly, I value pet dogs more.

That is not to trivialize the value of born fetuses or even unborn fetuses. Many people risk their lives to save their pet or even someone else’s pet from a fire. If the “pro-life” movement is about protecting the most vulnerable, kindness to the most vulnerable animals among us should be embedded in the movement’s ideology. That it is often not, leads some to think that the anti-choice movement is more about sin than it is about life.

You know fasio your posts get more bizzare as you go along.So we have went from cognitive psychologists to self centered mastrubation. Do you read your posts before you submit them?

At what point in the life an individual member of the human species, does he or she possess an inalienable right to life?

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