Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rules of Engagement, Draft One

First of all, I want to thank Shannon, anonymous, and anonymous for their comments on the first post. Shannon, your comment was extremely thoughtful, and I would suggest that everyone give it a read. You all bring up great points that we should get to in time.

As I stated in the first post, the purpose of this blog is to attempt a disciplined exploration of the complex issue of abortion rights. In order to have a productive discussion on any issue, there have to be rules of procedure that all parties agree upon. So in this post, I'd like to start a list of rules for proceeding.

One thing that often happens in discussions on the abortion issue, is the usage of the terms baby, child, and person instead of the appropriate terms of fetus and embryo. Since one of the main issues of discussion is whether or not the fetus or embryo are fully human persons, labelling the fetus/embryo with these terms break one of the most primary rules of logical reasoning called "Begging the question"

'Begging the Question' has traditionally described a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises

For instance, in Shannon's post she says:
I feel for people who do get an abortion - it seems like an easy way out of a difficult situation - but killing a child is never going to be the right answer to a situation, no matter how good it may look at the time.
Using the word child instead of fetus, presupposes the conclusion that the developing human has already achieved child status which is what the argument is about in the first place. Most Anti-Abortionists believe that a human being's life begins at conception. Most Pro-Choice people believe that a human being's life begins at fetal viability (the point at which a fetus can survive without the mother). Calling the unviable fetus a child is misleading and potentially inflammatory. Please don't misunderstand me. I don't think that Shannon had any intention to be misleading in her post, and in fact I found it to be a well thought out essay worth reading. But if we are trying to have a discussion that illuminates and potentially eliminates our differences, lets find out where we agree, and build from there.

From this exploration lets agree to the first rule:

Rule #1: We will avoid the logical fallacy of "Begging the Question".

As this rule pertains to our current discourse so far, lets agree to use the words that do not assume the conclusion of one side of the debate or the other.

Based on generally accepted definitions:
  • After conception until 8 weeks of gestation, we will use the word "embryo" to refer to the developing organism.
  • From 8 weeks until birth, we will use the word "Fetus" to describe the developing organism.
  • After Birth, we can use the generally accepted words of child and baby, etc.

I welcome your comments or suggestions regarding the first rule, and how I've applied it to our discussion.