Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:02 pm UTC

Yeah, we're hardwired to love babies. We're also hardwired to do a bunch of other things which don't necessarily result in true beliefs.

So I'm not sure why this is a necessary component of the ethical discussion we're trying to have here...
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:05 pm UTC

Because you can't just ignore that kind of human element when discussing something like ethics. Seems straightforward enough to me.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:13 pm UTC

At the same time, though, "but they're so cuute" is not a valid philosophical argument, however hardwired it may be.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:22 pm UTC

Depends on the philosophy in question. There is a reason the WWF mascot is a panda instead of, say, an aardvark or a hairless pig. Reality always trumps philosophy in the end.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:23 pm UTC

Yes, and that reason is Effective Marketing. I doubt the WWF itself would claim that pandas are inherently more worth preserving than ugly animals.

If I want to get you to give me money, I'll use something you think is cute. If I want to convince you to believe something on a rational basis, I'll use a real argument.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:32 pm UTC

Problem with that is, humans as a whole are not rational. Especially when it comes to things they feel very strongly about, such as to kill or not to kill little people.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby setzer777 » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:31 am UTC

Kazan wrote:The thing about ethics is that we make them up, and we make them up largely based on our feelings. I doubt very much anything major would change, even if logically a case might be made that it should.


I think this is the key quote here. Kazan is making the argument that ethics itself is a human invention. Therefore, when you ask, "Is X ethical?", human irrationality is part of the answer because those irrational parts of us helped us create the irrational human construct that is ethics.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:32 am UTC

Kazan wrote:Babies are inherently considered valuable. There are evolutionary reasons for this,


Sorry, but this isn't a good reason for making the moral judgments you're making. Another "great" example of a natural inclination that has strong evolutionary reasons is racism, or more specifically, the desire to destroy people who appear to be very different from you. However, I think we're much better off bucking that urge, and the urge itself is no reason at all to create a moral principle around it.
Since a natural inclination with an evolutionary justification do not properly combine to form a moral imperative, you're going to have to find some other reason to justify your moral evaluations.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:45 am UTC

Well, right. I was kind of skirting around the apparent is/ought fallacy in Kazan's "argument". It is as evolutionarily advantageous for me to kill any children my current mate might be raising that aren't mine, as it is for me to cherish and protect my own offspring. So if you're going to require ethics to pander to the "babies are cute" reaction, then your ethics also ought to be able to deal with a great deal of infanticide.

That, or you accept that part of developing a code of behavior is admitting that not everything we've evolved to do is necessarily something that should be considered ethically positive.

And then you're back at square one, were you've got to come up with some non-evolutionary explanation for why fetuses are worth protecting apart from the fact that we think our own kids are cute. Just like presumably you believe other people's infants are worth caring for in spite of the fact that there's "good" evolutionary reason to do away with them.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby setzer777 » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:02 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Well, right. I was kind of skirting around the apparent is/ought fallacy in Kazan's "argument". It is as evolutionarily advantageous for me to kill any children my current mate might be raising that aren't mine, as it is for me to cherish and protect my own offspring. So if you're going to require ethics to pander to the "babies are cute" reaction, then your ethics also ought to be able to deal with a great deal of infanticide.


Or you say that ethics is nothing more than what your culture says your ethics is and point out that when inventing moral X evolution played a bigger role than when inventing moral Y. Of course, if you are looking at morality from an anthropology point of view you're not going to have a fruitful conversation from someone looking at it from a: "Assume these basic moral premises as true and see what derives from them" person.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:15 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:Of course, if you are looking at morality from an anthropology point of view you're not going to have a fruitful conversation from someone looking at it from a: "Assume these basic moral premises as true and see what derives from them" person.

You're also not going to develop a code of ethics in any kind of philosophical manner. Just like you're not going to develop a painting if you go from the art history perspective instead of the "here are the colors we've got, what can we paint with them" perspective.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:18 am UTC

Oculus Vespertilionis wrote:Sorry, but this isn't a good reason for making the moral judgments you're making. Another "great" example of a natural inclination that has strong evolutionary reasons is racism, or more specifically, the desire to destroy people who appear to be very different from you. However, I think we're much better off bucking that urge, and the urge itself is no reason at all to create a moral principle around it.
Since a natural inclination with an evolutionary justification do not properly combine to form a moral imperative, you're going to have to find some other reason to justify your moral evaluations.

Racism has enough negative consequences that we decided to try to get rid of it.

The negative consequences of thinking babies are cute are, uh... help me out here?

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:23 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Well, right. I was kind of skirting around the apparent is/ought fallacy in Kazan's "argument". It is as evolutionarily advantageous for me to kill any children my current mate might be raising that aren't mine, as it is for me to cherish and protect my own offspring. So if you're going to require ethics to pander to the "babies are cute" reaction, then your ethics also ought to be able to deal with a great deal of infanticide.

Actually, it is very evolutionary disadvantageous for you to kill other peoples offspring because you would be locked up or possibly killed for it, and your entire family would lose social status from it, which would reduce their chances of attracting good mates which in turn endangers your lineage.

gmalivuk wrote:That, or you accept that part of developing a code of behavior is admitting that not everything we've evolved to do is necessarily something that should be considered ethically positive.

Never said it was.

Also, this part confused me:
gmalivuk wrote:So if you're going to require ethics to pander to the "babies are cute" reaction,

What did you mean by that? I hadn't said a thing about ethics and baby cuteness, merely that people consider babies cute. This cuteness reaction can then translate into ethics, but the cuteness reaction itself has nothing to do with ethics.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby limecat » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:26 pm UTC

kazan wrote:The thing about ethics is that we make them up, and we make them up largely based on our feelings. I doubt very much anything major would change, even if logically a case might be made that it should.


The thing is, that is YOUR opinion and it supposes a great deal. There happen to be a very large number of people who take the stance that we do NOT make our ethics up, that they are there for a reason, and that they teach us absolute rights and wrongs. You may disagree, and that is fine; but are you suggesting that since you have such a view, all others must be wrong, and yours is the view our society should operate on? If ethics are simply made up, why the laws against fighting? Why the laws against killing our own children? Im sure you will bring "society will cease to function without them" in, except neither of those cases will result in the breakdown of society, and yet they remain purely ethical laws.

kazan wrote:Problem with that is, humans as a whole are not rational. Especially when it comes to things they feel very strongly about, such as to kill or not to kill little people.


Based on the above 2 quotes, im not entirely sure why there is any discussion at all. If we are not rational, and ethics is made up (and therefore arbitrary, given point 1), what can you possibly hope to accomplish? This seems to be roughly the same as arguing over whether we are really here-- there is no possible way to end the discussion one way or the other.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:31 pm UTC

Absolute morality is not a topic i feel worth discussing.

But to put a bit of content here; irrational does not mean unpredictable.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:37 pm UTC

The moment that bodily autonomy ceases to be irreconcilably linked to pregnancy, any appeal to the special right of the mother to monopolize the evaluative process for the disposition of the child goes out the window.
The parents should have the first opportunity to choose to raise it. If they do not wish to, then others have the same opportunity. Only when no one steps up to take the incubating child do we then consider whether it might be reasonable not to gestate and support it. Unless resources are incredibly scarce, it is almost certainly immoral to do so.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:45 pm UTC

For a given definition of morality.

For a different definition of morality, where you accept fetuses as humans and still consider abortion a good thing due to valuing the living more than the unborn, simply removing the fetus from the womb doesn't change anything. Society as a whole will still be better off if some of those tube-fetuses never get to grow up. The strain of pregnancy is secondary compared to the individual economic and social situation of the potential parents to me.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby sophyturtle » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:49 pm UTC

Our world is already overpopulated. We already have so many children without people willing to care for them. ACTUAL children who breath air and everything.

I have known people who say something like a soul entering the room happens when a child is born. I also know people who think they knew the second they got pregnant and they know which sex act lead to it because they felt magical things happen then. (I have a secret for the second group, you can have this amazing soul bonding sex without pregnancy occurring. Either that or I have a lot of miscarriages I don't know about.) The idea of when things are genetically human is not of much importance to me. Even having a functioning brain is not enough for me to think a fetus is so special that we need to make sure it is born and becomes a person (which is not as great as everyone is pretending it is). We eat things with more developed brains regularly. Fish have more developed brains than a fetus during most of fetal gestation.

What the argument here might be are humans so special that any time one starts to form we need to make sure it completes that so we have more humans around.

Which is funny, since we let humans that can walk and talk die every day from preventable things like hunger and things antibiotics could cure. If we are worried about human life, lets worry about things we know are suffering.

Also, from way back: Crying is a form of communication. Babies do that, as well as breath air. Those are two big things something needs to do for me to think of it as a person.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Zamfir » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:52 pm UTC

Kazan wrote:The strain of pregnancy is secondary compared to the individual economic and social situation of the potential parents to me.


I think you might be underestimating the strain of pregnancy here.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:06 pm UTC

Actually i don't estimate it at all. I simply consider the ability to properly raise the resulting tadpole more important than temporary inconvenience and pain.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:50 pm UTC

sophyturtle wrote:Our world is already overpopulated. We already have so many children without people willing to care for them.

We also have a line a decade long of parents looking to adopt a healthy newborn.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby limecat » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:01 pm UTC

You really cant look at the number of dying children as if thats a good argument for abortion; they certainly wouldnt be dying in this country, and would certainly find a home here if they were UP for adoption. I've never heard of abortion suggested as a solution to world population either; I would think vasectomies, tubal ligation, condoms, etc would all do a much better job of THAT with far less strain on the woman's body. Nor have I heard of the euthanising newborn children proposed as a method of limiting their pain, or population.

All of these arguments are smokescreens, and with such different standards, the only way to have a proper discussion on the issue is for each person to establish A) when killing is acceptable; B) the morality of taking a life; C) the value of a human life; and D) at what point a mass of fertilized cells becomes a human / takes on worth. Barring that-- as long as we talk of "arbitrary morality"-- there can be no consensus or even rational discussion.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby sophyturtle » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:10 pm UTC

People only adopting new borns is comparable to people only willing to buy puppies to me. Get over the fact it is a little bigger and maybe not as cute. It will still come to love you.

Take care of the children we have before firing up the baby farm.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:18 pm UTC

sophyturtle wrote:People only adopting new borns is comparable to people only willing to buy puppies to me. Get over the fact it is a little bigger and maybe not as cute. It will still come to love you.

Early child bonding is generally regarded as being extremely important. Also, many people would rather spend their energy raising a kid from scratch rather than dealing with the irreversible damage done by years in a screwed up situation.
I greatly respect foster and adoptive parents for older children. But none of this changes the fact that the "too many babies" argument is simply not true -- if every healthy newborn currently aborted was put up for adoption, my understanding is that we'd have plenty of parents willing to take them.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:28 pm UTC

"People willing to adopt" is a much larger group than "people willing to adopt and able to do a good job raising the adoptee".

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby sophyturtle » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:34 pm UTC

My point is that when someone really wants a child, they do what they can to take them. I know people who adopted a 7 and 10 year old sibling pair, because they really wanted 2 children.

It makes me sick when people decide they won't love a 5 year old as much. And for me to feel better about adoption, it would have to be available to all couples (I am specifically thinking of homosexuals).

Basically, I don't care if they only want a brand new baby. We should not make more just because they don't want the used model (it could be damaged, oh noes).

Because what if we make more and some of those are not picked up? Not every older child waiting to be adopted entered the system when they could talk. (Besides, it makes way more sense to get one when it has a personality and you can tell if you will actually like it verse hoping for some blank slate kid you can write your opinions all over.) People being unwilling to adopt a child that can talk but want a baby bother me, clearly. And I don't feel like catering to them. Since that is a complete baby farm.

/rant ... humph.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby semicharmed » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:55 pm UTC

sophyturtle wrote:Take care of the children we have before firing up the baby farm.


This. Many times over.
If this hypothetical baby farm were to become possible, I would still be pro-choice. Full stop, no ifs, ands or buts. I don't want to bring a child into this world with my genetic material until I am ready, willing, and able to raise that child as my own. I see carrying the fetus/foisting it off onto a baby farm to be put up for adoption as irresponsible compared to quickly and safely terminating.
And if I want that choice for myself, it follows that I'm going to respect people enough to allow them to make their own choices.

And Oculus: without statistics to show how many of the aborted fetuses would have been healthy newborns — taking into account the socioeconomic status of the mothers, the rate of birth defects among different groups, etc — and comparing that to the number of prospective adoptive parents willing to take a child of any sex and race, "your understanding" is nothing more than an assumption.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby SummerGlauFan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:19 pm UTC

This is not a baby farm. The deisred purpose (if I understand the OP correctly) is to merely care for fetuses that already exist, not crank out a metric buttload of new babies.

Having said that, I agree that we should take care of the children we have. However, people waiting to adopt can wait for years on end. That means that either there are more people willing to adopt than we have children (which would mean raising exowomb fetuses that would otherwise be aborted would grant more peoples' wishes to adopt), or the system is hopelessly and tragically flawed.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:40 pm UTC

If pregnancy was to be turned from a nine month ordeal with a lot of pain near the end into a painless procedure that took maybe a week, odds are more people would get pregnant. So yes, there is some baby farm potential in it, even if that was not the stated goal. Could be little enough to not be noticeable, or a doubling, or anything inbetween.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby limecat » Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:50 pm UTC

This is all irrelevant, there are better methods of lowering birthrate than abortion, just as there are better methods of lowering the population than killing infants and young children-- I trust we are in agreement that you are not arguing for THAT?

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Kazan » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:00 pm UTC

There are no better methods than abortion when you are already pregnant.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:34 pm UTC

This is true. And no better methods of eliminating your child than killing it once it's born, either. But that doesn't say a thing about whether or not it's a moral act.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:47 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:This is not a baby farm. The deisred purpose (if I understand the OP correctly) is to merely care for fetuses that already exist, not crank out a metric buttload of new babies.

I suspect that 1.3 million extra babies per year is most definitely a baby farm. Especially considering most of those are not going to be cared for by their biological parents.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby setzer777 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:23 am UTC

Oculus Vespertilionis wrote:The moment that bodily autonomy ceases to be irreconcilably linked to pregnancy, any appeal to the special right of the mother to monopolize the evaluative process for the disposition of the child goes out the window.
The parents should have the first opportunity to choose to raise it. If they do not wish to, then others have the same opportunity. Only when no one steps up to take the incubating child do we then consider whether it might be reasonable not to gestate and support it. Unless resources are incredibly scarce, it is almost certainly immoral to do so.


I disagree with your "almost certainly immoral to do so". Especially if the embryo in the artificial womb is a day or two old. In that case I think it is morally acceptable to not gestate/support it for any number of reasons, including "I just don't feel like it". This of course is because I don't think human life per se has special value, and since it doesn't even *want* to live, doesn't feel pain, suffering, fear, etc. I don't see how not gestating it/killing it is any less moral than killing a tree.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Azrael » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:29 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
SummerGlauFan wrote:This is not a baby farm. The deisred purpose (if I understand the OP correctly) is to merely care for fetuses that already exist, not crank out a metric buttload of new babies.

I suspect that 1.3 million extra babies per year [in the US, 42 million worldwide] is most definitely a baby farm. Especially considering most of those are not going to be cared for by their biological parents.

And, hypothetically speaking, who is going to pay for their care, if the biological parents have left the picture? And could we support a ... 300 million x 14 births/1000 = 4.2 million births per year ... 30% increase in our birthrate here in the US? Even if only half of those aborted would turn out to be long-term viable, that would still be a 15% increase in US birthrate. Which. Is. Huge.

Yeah, I know -- who brought practicality into a hypothetical ethics question...

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:52 am UTC

Azrael wrote:And, hypothetically speaking, who is going to pay for their care, if the biological parents have left the picture? And could we support a ... 300 million x 14 births/1000 = 4.2 million births per year ... 30% increase in our birthrate here in the US? Even if only half of those aborted would turn out to be long-term viable, that would still be a 15% increase in US birthrate. Which. Is. Huge.

Yeah, I know -- who brought practicality into a hypothetical ethics question...


Well, if those babies where somehow spread over baby-wanting couples, I guess the main result would be that those couples would have less babies of their genetic own, ending up with a similar amount of babies as now, but less babies raised by their genetic parents.

If people didn't care what happened with their genetic offspring after adoption, and if people didn't care whether they raised their own or someone else's genetic kids, then adoption would be a perfect substitute for abortion, at least in Setzer's hypothetical pregnancyless world.

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby limecat » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:30 pm UTC

Once again, we are back at the "if population control is the issue, there are better methods". This discussion is going in circles-- can we leave population OUT of this? Otherwise Im just going to have to counter with "no abortion, kill them after birth so we can be sure they really dont want the kid"-- its just as valid of an argument if you are trying to limit population.

Again, lets leave population out of this, its not relevant to ethics in any way shape or form (have you not read "A Modest Proposal"?)

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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby sophyturtle » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

How can we leave it out when overpopulation is killing our planet, along with many other species (including our own)?
It is important to address.

Also, many people only want to raise their own children. You can see this in couples who do incredibly expensive IVF instead of adopting. They will even have their genetic material put in someone else, just to make sure what they raise will be part them. I think if you told people they could not have children because someone else had an unwanted pregnancy and they were going to have that child you would have very unhappy people. This might also do interesting things to the gene pool after a couple rounds.
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gmalivuk
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:28 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:If people didn't care what happened with their genetic offspring after adoption, and if people didn't care whether they raised their own or someone else's genetic kids, then adoption would be a perfect substitute for abortion, at least in Setzer's hypothetical pregnancyless world.

The thing is, Setzer's hypothetical has some chance of being true in our lifetimes or our children's. But if any biologically hardwired tendency is relevant in a discussion of reproduction, it's the fact that people generally damn well do care what happens to their genetic offspring, and they care that they're raising their own.
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Re: Hypothetical Abortion Ethics

Postby Oculus Vespertilionis » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:29 pm UTC

sophyturtle wrote:How can we leave it out when overpopulation is killing our planet, along with many other species (including our own)? It is important to address.


We should leave the overpopulation issue aside when discussing the morality of abortion under certain circumstances for the same reason that we should leave the overpopulation issue aside when discussing the morality of the US presence in Iraq. The fact that fewer humans result is totally irrelevant to whether the method of arriving at fewer humans is immoral.
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