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3 months ago
The Terrible Travis
Putting aside that I don’t grant that animals aren’t persons, you need to do more than demonstrate that acts of violence can be performed against non-persons in order to demonstrate that acts of violence can be performed against non-sentient fetuses.
You say “we don’t have to ask what kind of capacities the animal had in order to immediately understand that it was subjected to violence”, but notice that there is actually one capacity that all of the animals share - the capacity for a subjective experience. (Or at least arguably share, there is some debate over whether insects are sentient, but there is some evidence suggesting they are.)
And I think the thing underlying the intuition that doing these things to an animal would be violent is the perception that these animals are conscious (again, maybe in the case of insects this perception is wrong, but there still is that perception regardless).
Notice that none of your examples are about plants - you don’t talk about chopping up a potato, even though this is also a dismembering a living being. Do you think people would have the intuition that this is an act of violence? I don’t think they would, because potatoes aren’t and have never been sentient. The same goes for fetuses at a certain stage.
Now I’m happy to say that abortions against
fetuses are an act of violence, regardless of whether such abortions are justified or not. It seems like the relevant factor for whether an act of violence can be committed against a being is whether that being is sentient (or was sentient and will become sentient again), not whether it is alive.
You say “Violence is not primarily about the moral status of the object, nor about its capacity for conscious experience of the harm, but simply about the fact of experiencing (primarily physical) harm”.
But if a being has no conscious experience, how can it experience harm? You may say that non-conscious beings can be harmed, but I’m unsure how they can
Furthermore, the pro-life view could be said to be a pro-violence position as well - without granting pro-choice assumptions. Forcing people to give birth - which inevitably means subjecting women to physical pain and bodily damage - is also a form of violence.
Now, you can say this violence is justified - the alternative is murder - but as you note, violence to stop murder is still violence. So in that sense, both the pro-choice and pro-life positions are pro-violence.
3 months ago
So your premise is that, at some stage, a fetus is not sentient and therefore they cannot conciously experience harm.
Well, if a man was in a coma, and a doctor used a hacksaw to cut off his leg and let him bleed to death, would it be considered an act of violence against him? He isn't concious. There is no proof he can even feel pain. He cannot make any decisions regarding his own bodily autonomy. That would be up to the discretion of his family and the medical staff. If the family considered him burdensome, and they gave the doctor permission, then what harm has been done? If he had simply been given the time and chance to come out of the coma he would regain conciousness. But now he never will, due to an act of violence against him.
Also, when pro-choice say that pro-life is "forced birth" it is a very poor argument. Because pro-choice is really the side for forced birth. How else do you expel the baby regardless of gestational age? The drugs given to women in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester all force her to have contractions to, yes, give birth. And it is done at a stage her body isn't prepared for. If left alone, she will naturally acclimate to give birth when both the baby and her body are prepared for it.
So who is really for forced birth?
It is yet another act of violence from the pro-choice side against the most vulnerable among us- pregnant women and their babies.
3 months ago
The Terrible Travis
See what I wrote:
“It seems like the relevant factor for whether an act of violence can be committed against a being is whether that being is sentient (
or was sentient and will become sentient again
), not whether it is alive.”
I think I made it pretty clear in my post that my view isn’t susceptible to the type of coma reductios you’re referring to here.
When a woman has an abortion, this is not “forced birth”. The woman is voluntarily choosing to expel the fetus at that time, she’s not being forced to. If it makes you happier though, I can change my characterization of the pro-life view from “forcing people to give birth” to “forcing people to carry pregnancies to term”.
Also, you have not clearly delineated the necessary and sufficient conditions for a being to be capable of having violence committed against it. Is that it will become conscious in the future simply a sufficient condition, or is it a necessary one? If it’s the latter, that’d entail that not all killing of humans qualifies as violence. Do you accept such a conclusion?
3 months ago
"Or will become sentient if the natural process is not interrupted."
A potato will not become sentient. A sperm cell is not sentient. A human fetus reacts to stimuli in the womb and can recognize such stimuli after birth, such as voices and music. Clearly the baby has a memory. Clearly the baby has enough presence of mind to respond to familiarity before and after birth. Clearly sentient.
But we aren't talking about sentience. Or when the baby theoretically becomes sentient.
We are talking about violence acted against them regardless of sentient status.
Tell me, how does my example of the comatose man not hold up? You made exceptions for those who are previously sentient, saying that they are able to have violence enacted upon them. But if they are not currently sentient, how is it any different from a baby who will become sentient if allowed to live?
It is not on me to prove that violence can be enacted against a non-sentient being. It is on you to provide the burden of proof for how violence against a comatose man and an unborn baby are any different, regardless of it.
As for abortion, "voluntary" is not a word I would use. The only way to ensure the end the life of a baby-in-utero is to give birth. This is achieved in abortion by forcing her body into labor through the use of drugs.
Pregnancy is a natural process of the female body. We can not "force" the pregnancy to continue. The body does that naturally. Miscarriage being the exception, but also vastly different in that it is also a natural, and tragic, process.
Abortion, however, requires unnatural "force" to end the life of the fetus. Whether that be through pills which starve it of nutrients, poison it, burn it, or break the body into pieces. The ultimate goal of every successful abortion is to end up with at least one death.
It is clearly the use of deadly force against another being. Sentient or non-sentient, it is inherently violent in its action and intent. That is my stance.
3 months ago
The Terrible Travis
When you say a fetus is “clearly sentient”, at what stage in the pregnancy are you referring to?
Your coma example doesn’t work as a counterexample to my view because it’s not entailed by my view. The difference between the two is exactly what I said earlier - one has temporarily lost sentience, whereas one has never had sentience in the first place.
And no, that’s not how the burden of proof works. We both made claims, so we both have a burden of proof.
I can satisfy my burden easily. My statement is true in virtue of the definition of violence I’m using, which precludes it from being something that can be enacted upon beings that have never attained sentience.
I’ll ask my question again: Is that a being will become conscious in the future simply a sufficient condition for being able to have violence enacted against it, or is it a necessary one? If it’s the latter, that’d entail that not all killing of humans qualifies as violence. Do you accept such a conclusion?
The woman voluntarily choses to take the drugs in question, does she not?
I don’t see how pregnancy being a “natural process” is relevant. You can force natural processes to continue. If the woman were allowed to get an abortion, the pregnancy would end. So by prohibiting her from getting an abortion, she’s being forced to continue the pregnancy.
Not sure why I’d care that abortion is “unnatural” force either.
Spraying weed killer on some weeds is also the use of deadly force against another being. Do you take this to be an act of violence?
3 months ago
I actually really like this slogan, but I am unsure how effective it's likely to be, at least just as a slogan without extra arguments ("pro-military is pro-violence" is a fairly uncontroversial statement, but military abolitionism is very unpopular). That all said, I would be interested in some anecdotes, or better yet hard datafrom testing it out at outreaches. Part of the problem, is that generally, saying that willingness to use violence (and lethal violence at that) against other human beings, while the core argument of the anti-war movement, doesn't seem to persuade people to become military abolitionists in isolation, as most people seem to agree that lethal violence can be morally justified in self-defence, or at least morally permissible. I bite the bullet and argue for absolute pacifism when discussing lethal or likely lethal force, and think it necessary if the right to life is genuinely an absolute and intrinsic right but I know that few people do.
Something I've seen a lot more of from pro-choicers the last few years, is to argue that abortion is a form of self-defence against being forced to go through pregnancy and giving birth, and generally, they argue that abortion pills aren't active killing, but letting die, with the way they do so if making the strongest argument being that pro-lifers like to argue that it's ok to remove a ueterus with an embyro inside in a life threat case, but not otherwise, hence it's not direct killing but letting die, or so goes the best version of their argument. From my understanding, and I must admit I'm a bit shaky on this point, the ones who hold this but remain in favour of D&E abortions argue that if you have a right to actions that mean the fetus is going to die anyway, then the method doesn't matter as they would die anyways. Which seems potentially incoherant with the stance of most people who are pro-choice with regards euthanasia (since the point in those cases is that you think minimising suffering in at least some cases is more important than the right to life, if somebody requests it), and generally people would argue that even if lethal force for self-defence is justified, it doesn't mean you have a right to use any sort of lethal violence for it (e.g, you can't deliberately torture an assailent to death if you managed to restrain them enough that they do not pose a threat), and that only a minimum force necessary is allowed.
Of course the questions of fetal pain add an extra layer of complexity to the debate, as I would imagine that most pro-choicers probably don't think it relevant for most of the 2nd trimester, and in truth I think fetal pain is often a bit of a red herring. Said another way, I think that a fair number of more engaged pro-choicers have realised that the right to refuse argument as a form of self-defence agianst being harmed is one of the strongest ones out there. I personally think that "Abortion is self-defence" would be a way more dangerous slogan if adpopted by pro-chociers than "My body, my choice", not least when anti-vaxxers also use the latter slogan. (I have many thoughts about that fact, and think it was in truth, a missed opportunity for pro-lifers but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot as a movement there. Then again, I'm in favour of making covid vaccines mandatory for anyone without genuine medical exemption, and I know this is a controversial view, if less unpopular than say wanting to abolish the military.)
I do think that consistent life ethic groups like Rehumanize would get a lot out of the slogan though, if nothing else!