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Wouldn't the pro-choice argument for viability as the threshold be not so much about personhood but from the practical perspective that, after viability, you can always induce labour with the intention of having a live birth? Before viability you can't.
In my opinion the criteria for personhood isn't viability per se, but rather consciousness. However, the neuro-cortical development that provides the hardware for consciousness coincides with the limits of viability at around 24 weeks where a fetus has a 50/50 chance of survival outside the mother. I think it only makes sense that all the systems of a human body would begin to become functional about the same time and that that the finished product would be greater than the sum of its parts; i.e., a person.
This view addresses both your issue of allowing too many organisms into the equal rights community, like squirrels, and allowing too few humans into the equal rights community, like newborns.
I, also, think the "viability" test for deciding a baby's right to live is about as "scientific" as the old "quickening" designation was.
Using the "natural" viability designation is also illogical AND dangerous, as your point about BORN humans depending on technology to survive illustrates.
I will add that by this man's criteria, even HEALTHY infants would not be "naturally viable" because they rely on either breast milk (someone else's body) or infant formula (technology) to survive.
Sadly, Josh did not treat his "pro choice friend" charitably.
Most people hold complex beliefs that are often not easily expressed. If Josh intended for an open, non-hostile dialogue or discussion, then it was his responsibility to make sure that both he and Luke were on the same page throughout the whole of the discussion. Instead, Josh created a false dilemma to force Luke into defending a straw man.
Unfortunately, this is a bit of a blind spot. It seems unlikely that Josh intended to force Luke into defending a straw man. Rather it seems likely that Josh was still attempting to clarify Luke's position. Nevertheless, there is a misunderstanding brought about by the way Josh frames his 'clarification' that forces Luke down a path framed by Josh's expectations rather than Luke's answers. This likely would have been the moment the discussion or dialogue failed and Luke became defensive and unreceptive to Josh's message.
Even though this dialogue is civil, it is likely to provoke hostility and engender resentment and distrust.
At no point does Josh truly understand precisely where he and Luke differ or why. Without this information, he has no chance of changing Luke's mind and any argument he makes is likely to be perceived negatively.
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I think this is a really unfair assessment of the situation. Here's why.
First, you're assuming that Luke meant the most defensible version of his argument, the one Melody proposed in the comment above. That's possible, but not very plausible, based on that being a definition I've never heard a pro-choice person make in the field, (and in my roughly 1,000 conversations with pro-choice people, viability comes up a lot, and we usually have more time to make sure we're using the same definition than I had with Luke who had to get to class before we got very far,) and more importantly, because Luke himself agreed with my rephrased explanation of his view.
What's worse is in your sentence, "Instead, Josh created a false dilemma to force Luke into defending a straw man", you imply that I intentionally set Luke up to be straw manned. For that to be true, everything I've written and taught on this subject would have to be based on a lie. That is completely the opposite of what I train pro-life people to do, and yet your accusation treats me as if I'm one of these jerky online trolls that intends to strawman people. I think a fair reading of my articles on this website or viewing of my speeches will demonstrate that you’re accusing the wrong person of trying to trap people with strawman arguments.
If you were right that this would have been the moment Luke became "defensive and unreceptive", I would have seen that before he had to go to class. I was there. His eyes lit up at hearing me rephrase his view back to him. He really felt like we were getting somewhere, and then he glanced at his phone and saw that he was out of time. He seemed to actually feel bad that he needed to get to class. But the most important point here is that I rephrased Luke’s argument and he 100% agreed with that rephrasing of his argument.
I think Luke is in a better position to understand his own view than you are.
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Certainly, I fully agree that Luke is the only one that can defend his position. I'm not trying to defend Luke's personal beliefs, only point out an error that you made that likely would have prevented a more productive dialogue. ...you imply that I intentionally set Luke up to be straw manned.
Actually I didn't. I was very careful not to imply that you did it intentionally because I don't think you did.
That's why I said this: It seems unlikely that Josh intended to force Luke into defending a straw man.
That's ok. It's natural to get a bit defensive and read into things, that's part of my point actually. After all, I am criticizing a process you have worked to hone and perfect over many years. Who am I to point out a flaw? I wasn't there for your process, I can't see and don't know how much time and effort you put into this. I'm an outsider. But even outside perspectives can offer insight. Different perspectives often illuminate blind spots in our own thinking that we wouldn't be able to identify on our own.
I think it would benefit you and your outreach to understand this problem and how to resolve it rather than to dismiss it and assume the fault is with the criticism and not the self. That choice is yours though. I can't force you be open to growth or improvement. If you think your process is perfect and requires no refinement, there's not much more to say.
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If you don't see how your sentence "Instead, Josh created a false dilemma to force Luke into defending a straw man" is implying that I was doing something intentional, than I'm not sure what else to say to you.
I don't feel defensive. I feel annoyed that you're being so uncharitable, which is weird because your accusation is that I wasn't being charitable enough.
Of course I don't think my process is perfect, and that's another thing you'd discover by paying attention to the way I write and speak. I already acknowledged to Melody that it's possible that Luke meant the more refined version of the argument, and I've explained why that's not a plausible interpretation of what was going on specifically with Luke.
Remember, I devoted an entire section of this article to why I rephrased my understanding of Luke's view in my own words to find out if Luke agreed that I was on track BEFORE even beginning to refute him. Luke completely agreed with my description of his view.
Now, you could argue that Luke was confused and should have clarified differently if my rephrasing accidentally straw-manned him. That would be fair. But when Luke completely and excitedly agreed with my understanding of his view, at that point it's not my fault if there's a miscommunication going on. That's on Luke.
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I've twice now explicitly stated that I don't think you created the false dilemma intentionally. Both times you've chosen to ignore this and insist that I intended to accuse you of intentionally tricking Luke.
I am fully open to the idea that I should have phrased my comment better so as not to annoy or offend you, but at this point it doesn't appear you have any interest in moving past this misunderstanding and having a productive discussion.
I can't help but note that again, this validates my point. You and I aren't enemies, I'd like us to better understand each other but you have to be open to that.
I assumed from your blog that you would be, I stand corrected.
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Hmm...interesting point. His twist actually strikes me as slightly stronger than you make it out to be. It still has the flaws of using viability to define personhood, but I think it does in one sense remove the “moving target” issue. I understood him to be saying that a baby becomes a person when it is naturally viable (remove all technology, not just future). That might push personhood later than current viability (made possible by technology). It’s still kind of hard to define as it seems to depend on any given individual, which still makes it a moving target in one sense I guess. But it seems to me the counter-argument about locking in current technology is a little unfair. Thoughts?
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Wouldn’t that exclude some infrants (very premature ones in neonatal intensive care)?
Hey Melody! I like the way you're thinking here. Yes, although I certainly didn't take Luke to mean his argument that way, it's possible that if he had stuck around I could have asked the clarification questions necessary to determine that.
The best evidence against this theory is that after I rephrased what Luke said he didn't clarify that by "natural viability" he only meant viability hundreds of years ago as opposed to now. That's not usually what pro-choice people mean when they use that word, but again, it's certainly possible that Luke meant this, and it certainly would be a better version of the argument.
As you correctly noted, it would still be a bad argument. Even hundreds of years ago before we had the prenatal technology that we have now, there were arguably still parts of the world where the viability line was younger, because there were people around who had figured out how best to help babies who were born at least a little premature.
The bigger problem with the argument is that it's still a moving target, it's just that Luke would be pointing at the target BEFORE it began to move, as opposed to the middle of its arc.
So I don't think this adjustment would solve Luke's problem, but I concede that I hadn't considered that potential version of his argument until you brought it up. So thanks for that!