Philosophy

Ep 38 – In Defense of Dank Memes

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Look at this dank meme

Hello friends! Thanks for listening to episode 38, where I give a handful of excuses as to why i’ve been gone for over a month, and then dedicate way too much time talking about memes. But hey – at least I’m not a normie.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Dank ProLife Memes

Pls liek n shair dis eppisōd k thx bye

Ep 35 – Top 10 Worst Pro-Choice Arguments

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Welcome to the Fetal Position podcast, where we defend life and liberty! In episode 35, Nicole and I beat up the top 10 worst pro-choice arguments in existence. There certainly more terrible arguments for abortion, but we only addressed 10.
If you have any more you want to add to the list, join the private Facebook group and let us know! For show notes, go to TheFetalPosition.com/35. Please rate/review/share the show to help create a culture of life 🙂

10. The unborn isn’t human
I’ve addressed this in my previous episodes (episode 11, episode 21)

9. The freakanomics argument (like in this video)
Ultimately, economic arguments don’t address the primary issue of whether or not it is ok to have abortions to begin with. This economic argument could easily be used to justify killing toddlers.

8. Calling people “anti-choice”
Anti means against, pro means for. So it’s not even really an argument to just call someone anti-choice. We’re against abortion. We all know that.
We’re against the choice to kill innocent, defenseless, unborn human children. We’re not going to apologize for that.

7. All pro-lifers are “anti-woman” and just want women to be punished for their reproductive freedom!
It wasn’t the pro-lifers who said that women will be punished with children. It was Obama. And we’re not against women having sex at all. We’re against women killing their offspring. Plus, a significant portion of pro-lifers are women (along with many feminists), and it’s gonna be hard to say that feminsts are anti-women. Lol.

6. “Life began a billion years ago, and it’s a continuous process”
While this may be true, there is a point in time at which a new human organism comes into existence. Stop dodging the issue!

5. If abortion is murder, then masturbation is genocide and menstruating women are serial killers.
This just flat out misunderstands that the unborn is a human organism, whereas gametes are just cells. Haploid cells. Stubborn scientific illiteracy can be hard to combat.

4. “You’re not pro-life, you’re pro-birth”
Most of the time, this is not an argument against abortion. It’s just a complaint that you don’t agree with them on various political issues like government social safety nets or whatever.

3. If fetuses have the right to life which means they can use the woman’s body without her consent, I have the right to life so I can take your organs without your consent.
I go into much more detail about this in episode 7, but this is just a basic misunderstanding of the concept of rights. If we kill an unborn human being, we are violating their right to life (as well as other rights, like bodily autonomy).
If you refuse to donate blood or organs, you’re not violating anyone else’s rights. You’re just saying no. That decision may result in harm or death, but it isn’t a violation of someone’s rights to decline the procedure because you don’t have a right to my organs. However, taking an organ from you without your consent is a clear violation of your rights.
During this part of the episode, it skipped a beat a little bit. I don’t know why it did that. The file on my computer doesn’t have that error. Oh well.

2. Human tumors have human DNA and are growing, therefore human tumors are persons with a right to life! (“just a clump of cells” argument)
Misunderstanding of what an organism is. The tumor is alive, yes. And the tumor is human, yes. But it is human in the adjective sense, not in the noun sense. An organism is a human in the noun sense.
An organism is a collection of biological parts that function together to sustain the existence of the whole being that possesses the qualities of life. A tumor is not an organism.
Bad Argument.

1. (This one comes from this stupid article) If the fetus is a person, why don’t we…
– Issue conception certificates?
– Send them to a pediatrician instead of an OBGYN?
– Claim them on our taxes?
– Start counting age from conception forward?
– Tell everyone right away? Instead we keep it a secret for 3 months!
– Give the fetus its own food?
– Have the fetus live outside the womb?
– Consider the pregnant woman to be two people? A pregnant woman should be allowed to drive in the carpool lane!
– Have funerals for miscarriages
– Have a census that counts fetuses?
– Finalize adoptions until after the baby is born

There are many more that could have been included here but these were the ones that we thought deserved to be at the top of the list

If you enjoyed this or thought it was absolutely terrible, let me know in the comments below, on the facebook page, private facebook group, twitter, or by email (FetalPositionPodcast@gmail.com). Thanks so much for reading/listening!

Ep 32 – Consenting to a Fetal Invasion with Clinton Wilcox

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Thanks for joining me for episode 32! In this episode, I am joined by Clinton Wilcox (of Life Training Institute and Justice for All) to talk about the issue of consent, whether abortion is self-defense or not, and the argument that the fetus is an invader or a little rapist because s/he violates the bodily autonomy of the woman against her will by implanting into her uterus.
Click here to listen to the podcast in a new window.

The argument can take many forms, but the general idea is that consenting to sex is not equivalent to consenting to pregnancy. It isn’t the act of sex that makes someone pregnant; sex merely creates the embryo. The embryo then invades the woman’s body and that is what causes her to become pregnant. While this may be technically correct, divorcing pregnancy and sex isn’t something that can be reasonably done without rapidly descending into incoherence. There is a direct causation here. Every act of pregnancy (barring artificial means) comes after an act of sex.
The reason the pregnancy occurs is because of the existence of the embryo, and sex causes the embryo to exist. There is a necessary chain of events. The small gap in time between sex and implantation of the embryo isn’t something anyone should consider to be morally relevant, especially given the biologically necessary chain of events that leads to pregnancy.

The next step in this line of argument comes from Eileen Mcdonagh’s book, Breaking the Abortion Deadlock: From Choice to Consentas well as David Boonin’s A Defense of Abortion, and other sources. It essentially states that the conversation shouldn’t always be about the woman’s choice or fetal personhood, but about consent. The argument is that a woman must grant continual consent to the unborn child, and she has the right to revoke consent at any point throughout pregnancy, and when she does, she can expel the invader from her body. The analogy is often used to compare the fetus to an invader or a rapist who is using her body without her ongoing consent. On a related, important note… both Clinton and I are sympathetic to the idea that if a woman revokes consent mid-coitus, that anything other than the man stopping completely ought to be considered rape and should be condemned completely.

On the topic of consent, it’s important to make this point.
Consent itself is not what grounds the rightness or wrongness of an action. Consent is important because it can turn something from right into wrong (rape, for example), but you can’t argue that consent is the thing that makes an act moral, because that’s question begging.
It is possible to not have consent to something and it still be a perfectly moral (or potentially supererogatory) act. For example, Aladdin did not consent to being saved by the Genie in this scene, but our moral intuitions certainly side with the moral rightness of what the Genie did.

One very important thing to highlight is other areas where consent is important, but not the primary reason to behave in a certain way. Imagine if I invited a friend onto a free helicopter ride and it turned out that he was a communist. Now, obviously I would have to throw the pinko commie out of my helicopter, and if consent was the only thing to consider, I would be justified in doing so. But given the fact that I consented to him coming onto my helicopter in the first place, and I am the reason he is dependent upon me, I cannot simply revoke consent, chuck him out of the helicopter, and say, “I didn’t kill him, it was his lack of viability outside of the helicopter at 10,000 feet up that killed him”. Obviously I would be guilty of murder in that case. The reasonable thing to do would be to wait until the helicopter lands, and then berate your friend for believing such foolishness.
In a similar fashion, if a woman knowingly consented to the action that causes a new human being to come into existence and to be 100% dependent upon her for survival, it is unreasonable to remove the child and say, “I didn’t kill him, it was his lack of viability outside of the womb that killed him”. The reasonable thing to do would be to wait until the end of pregnancy.

There is also an argument that says that abortion should be legally and morally permissible because some pregnancies are life threatening. While it certainly is the case that pregnancy can be life threatening, we cannot use the life threatening pregnancies to justify elective abortions in situations that are not life threatening. I am in favor of abortion when the pregnancy is, in fact, life threatening. That is a legitimate self-defense argument, but we have to be careful to apply it appropriately. Far too often we treat the unborn as if s/he isn’t morally equivalent to a living human being, but that’s just simple question begging and we need to be more careful to avoid that.

Here’s Clinton’s website, which has links to his writings on Secular Pro-Life and other sites.

If you enjoyed this or thought it was absolutely terrible, let me know in the comments below, on the facebook page, private facebook group, twitter, or by email (FetalPositionPodcast@gmail.com). Thanks so much for reading/listening!

 

Ep 31 – The Quadrilemma with Tyler Vela of the Freed Thinker Podcast

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In episode 31, Tyler Vela of the Freed Thinker Podcast joins me to talk about the Ethical Quadrilemma by Peter Kreeft. This approach to talking about abortion asks two questions; is the unborn child a person, and do we know it? How you answer these questions ought to determine your response to abortion.

Tyler and I discuss Kreeft’s Quadrilemma at length, but here it is in Kreeft’s own words (as found near the end of this excellent article titled “human personhood begins at conception“):

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Suppose abortion is a difficult, obscure, uncertain issue. Even if you take this “softest pro-choice” position, which we can call “abortion agnosticism,” you stand refuted by the following quadrilemma.

Either the fetus is a person, or not; and either we know what it is, or not. Thus there are four and only four possibilities:

  1. that it is not a person and we know that,
  2. that it is a person and we know that,
  3. that it is a person but we do not know that, and
  4. that it is not a person and we do not know that.

Now what is abortion in each of these four cases?

In case (1), abortion is perfectly permissible. We do no wrong if we kill what is not a person and we know it is not a person—e.g., if we fry a fish. But no one has ever proved with certainty that a fetus is not a person. If there exists anywhere such a proof, please show it to me and I shall convert to pro-choice on the spot if I cannot refute it.

If we do not have case (1) we have either (2) or (3) or (4). What is abortion in each of these cases? It is either murder, or manslaughter, or criminal negligence.

In case (2), where the fetus is a person and we know that, abortion is murder. For killing an innocent person knowing it is an innocent person is murder.

In case (3), abortion is manslaughter, for it is killing an innocent person not knowing and intending the full, deliberate extent of murder. It is like driving over a man-shaped overcoat in the street, which may be a drunk or may only be an old coat. It is like shooting at a sudden movement in a bush which may be your hunting companion or may be only a pheasant. It is like fumigating an apartment building with a highly toxic chemical not knowing whether everyone is safely evacuated. If the victim is a person you have committed manslaughter. And if not?

Even in case (4), even if abortion kills what is not in fact a person, but the killer does not know for sure that it is not a person, we have criminal negligence, as in the above three cases if there happened to be no man in the coat, the bush, or the building but the driver, the hunter, or the fumigator did not know that, and nevertheless drove, shot or fumigated. Such negligence is instinctively and universally condemned by all reasonable individuals and societies as personally immoral and socially criminal; and cases (2) and (3), murder and manslaughter, are of course condemned even more strongly. We do not argue politely over whether such behavior is right or wrong. We wholeheartedly condemn it, even when we do not know whether there is a person there, because the killer did not know that a person was not there. Why do we not do the same with abortion?

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Click here to listen to the episode in a new window.

Here’s the audio (and transcription) of where I first heard Kreeft defend the pro-life position.

If you enjoyed this or thought it was absolutely terrible, let me know in the comments below, on the facebook page, private facebook group, twitter, or by email (FetalPositionPodcast@gmail.com). Thanks so much for reading/listening!

Ep 30 – What Makes a Person a Person? with Josh Brahm

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Hello friends and Fetal Position listeners! Today, I have one of my pro-life mentors and president of the Equal Rights Institute, Josh Brahm, on the show with me to talk about personhood. We go pretty deep, philosophically, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle.
It might just mean you have to listen twice 😉

Click the media player at the top of the page, or click here to listen to it in a new window.

One of the reasons I wanted to have Josh on the podcast is because of his interesting approach to answering the difficult question of personhood. Is the unborn a person? And if so, how in the world can we communicate that to other people? We dive deep into it during the show and you should definitely listen to it, but the thrust of his approach is pretty straight-forward. Here’s my summary of his position on this.

The Equal Rights Argument

  1. Don’t we all deserve the right to life?
  2. Doesn’t that mean there is something the same about us? That we all have equally?
  3. What is that property that grounds us all having an equal right to life?

When we look out into the world, we see people with varying IQs, sizes, abilities, races, etc. But there is one thing that we all know about any group of people. And that is that they all have the right to life. Given how different they all are, what exactly is it that grounds that right to life? This can’t be a degreed property because that wouldn’t ground the equal right to life that we all have and recognize. This is trying to extract a principle based on the clear cases of personhood, and once we figure out that principle, we can use that to figure out personhood generally.

Josh (and the others who have worked on this argument) say that it is something like humanness. Something like being a human.

He says something like humanness deliberately, because he doesn’t want to say that you have to be a human in order to have the right to life or to be a person. After all… Kryptonians, Vulcans, and Heptapods are not biological humans, but they certainly seem to have the right to life.

At this point, the pro-choice advocate may try to attach personhood to something other than something like humanness. Perhaps they say sentience or awareness or something  like that. At this point, the pro-choicer is begging the question, and to illustrate this, Josh uses an analogy.

The Zoo Shooting Analogy

There’s a shooting at a zoo, and the shooter fires 6 bullets and kills 6 entities:

  • A cockroach
  • A squirrel
  • An elephant
  • A newborn
  • A toddler
  • An adult woman

Imagine a circle where everything within the circle has an equal right to life. The pro-choicer’s personhood criteria will either have too many things within the circle (like squirrels and cockroaches) or have not enough within the circle (like human newborns).

So what grounds equality? Perhaps it is sentience.
If sentience is the criteria, and sentience is defined as the ability to perceive the world and experience things, this would entail that cockroaches are within the circle. And this would mean that cockroaches and adult humans have an equal right to life.

So they might move to something like self-awareness.
But if self-awareness is the criteria, then the elephant would have an equal right to life as the toddler and the adult woman, but the newborn does not! Elephants pick stickers off of their heads while examining themselves in a mirror and newborns don’t have self-awareness until at least 3 months. And that’s clearly a problem. If they bite this bullet, they’re just guarding turf. Very rarely does someone actually believe it is morally neutral to kill a newborn.

At this point, they might go to something like human + sentience.
They might feel as though this might solve the problem. All humans are persons, but they know they want to exclude the unborn. This is incredibly ad hoc. They know where they want to end up, and they’re combining features in order to get there. They’re essentially just saying “my personhood definition can be boiled down to ‘all humans except unborn humans’

So, as demonstrated by this thought experiment, the pro-choice advocate’s criteria for personhood either allows too many or too few entities into the ‘right to life circle’, or it is simply ad hoc and they’d need to give a positive reason to believe it. They can’t just assert it.

But let’s jump back to what exactly it is that makes a person a person. Remember, we’re working off of the idea that the thing that grounds personhood is something like humanness, but it is not biological humanness because Spock and Superman are totally persons too.
… if they exist, of course.

So what is it? What is a better way to understand something like humanness? It is something that all humans have that isn’t just biological humanity.

It is having the intrinsic ability to think and act morally.

An immediate ability is an ability you can do right now. An intrinsic ability is an ability that you have in virtue of the kind of thing you are. This isn’t a potential ability, it is an ability that you have because of the kind of thing you are. If you pick an immediate ability, you’re going to get wrong answers. The key here is to ask about the intrinsic ability to do what? At the moment, thinking and acting morally makes the most sense at the moment. And members of the human family are entities that are naturally ordered to thinking and acting morally.

It’s also possible that personhood is grounded in the fact they are a member of a rational kind. It seems to me that if we assume a dualistic paradigm (in philosophy of mind), both criteria work. Dualism would be ok with both the intrinsic ability to think and act morally, as well as the member of a rational kind. However, physicalism wouldn’t likely give much credence to the intrinsic ability criteria (if that is grounded in a soul or a spirit of some kind), but would give credence to the member of a rational kind criteria.
[I really enjoyed this aspect of the conversation]

Resources mentioned: