San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What Passes For A Rational Argument These Days

I was reading my Denver Post this morning when I came across a letter to the editor from Mark Harvey of Arvada.  Mark felt compelled to write the editor to prove his point that abortion is not murder.  Under normal circumstances I would have passed over the letter, dismissing Mark as simply another God-hating person who wants to be able to have sex without consequences.  Instead I am compelled to tell you about Mark's letter in today's post.  I believe that Mark and his fellow abortionists would consider his argument to be a sterling example of a logically necessary argument that proves that abortion is not murder.  Allow me to present his argument, skipping over the extraneous parts, here:
"Given that three times Coloradans have overwhelmingly defeated personhood amendments, I would state that Lynn Grandon is categorically wrong when she says 'everyone' accepts that abortion kills nascent human life.  I accept that the unborn have existence.  However, they have no characteristics in common with a person outside of biological existence and DNA.  It denigrates humanity, and certainly goes against my religious beliefs, to lower personhood to this level.  There is a distinct difference between life and existence...I am pro-life.  I respect and honor a person's choices."
Let me begin with a couple of definitions.  'Nascent' is defined as, "just beginning, budding, developing, growing, embryonic, incipient, or young."   'Incipient' is defined as, "in an initial stage; beginning to happen or develop."  'Biological' has the following synonyms:  biotic, biologic, organic, and living.  'Existence' is defined as, "the fact or state of living or having objective reality."  'Personhood' is precisely the point at issue in this debate and it is defined in such a way as to beg the question by both camps in the abortion conflict.  Abortionists say an unborn baby is not a person.  Abortion opponents say that an unborn baby is a person.  The definition chosen determines the outcome so I will leave it undefined.   With these definitions in mind, let's consider Mark's argument.
I find it most interesting that Mark, whatever his "religious beliefs" might be, immediately appeals to his real and true god.  He begins by saying that the majority of the citizens of the geo-political entity known as Colorado who vote have declared that an unborn baby is not a person.  It therefore necessarily follows that an unborn baby is not a person and subject to being destroyed for any reason whatsoever.  Mark's god is democracy and the career politicians who populate the power structure created to house it.  Whatever the majority declares to be true is true.  Whatever the majority declares to be moral is moral.  Praised be the majority!
Mark begins by denying that abortion kills human life that is just beginning, budding, developing, growing, incipient or young.  He denies that abortion kills human life that is in an initial state, beginning to happen or develop.  He makes these denials based upon his assertion that abortion does not kill "nascent" human life.  But nascent human life is still human life, by anyone's definition of nascent.  So Mark denies that abortion kills human life, even though it kills human life in an early developmental form.  Do you believe I have put words into Mark's mouth?  I have not.  Let's continue with what he asserts to be true.
Mark asserts that he accepts the unborn life has existence.  Indeed, he goes so far as to say the unborn has biological existence and human DNA but is still not a person.  So Mark asserts that the unborn  baby is an organic, living being with human DNA that can properly be described as having objective reality.  At the same time Mark denies that the unborn baby is a person.  What additional characteristics does a human person have beyond being a living being with human DNA that can properly be described as having objective reality?   Mark does not say.  I suspect his answer to my question would be the self-referential assertion that the additional characteristic found in human life is personhood, whatever that is.
I find it fascinating that Mark believes that positing that an unborn baby is a human being "denigrates humanity."  'Denigrate' is defined as, "to criticize unfairly or disparage."  'Disparage' is defined as, "to regard or represent as being of little worth."  So Mark believes that those who oppose abortion believe that human life is of little worth because they believe the unborn baby is human.  How odd.  I wonder if he sees the contradiction in his position on this point?  How can the desire to protect a living being with human DNA bring about a state of affairs in which the person doing so can legitimately be described as considering human beings to be of little worth?  Mark does not say.
Mark concludes his argument with the profound assertion that there is "a distinct difference between life and existence."  His premise is true but, unfortunately for him, Mark has now changed the terms in his argument.  It is true that a rock exists in a different fashion than a dog does.  A dog has life and a rock does not.  But Mark has already given away the farm.  He has already asserted that an unborn baby not only exists like a rock does but it also has a "biological," or living, existence with constituent human DNA.   So although his premise that existence and life can be two different things is true, that is not the case in this scenario where both parties to the argument agree that the unborn baby not only exists but also is biologically alive and endowed with human DNA.  I wonder if Mark realizes that his powerful conclusion proves nothing?
Mark concludes his letter by informing me that he is "pro-life."  He makes this assertion despite the fact that he has already admitted that killing unborn biological beings that have existence, life and human DNA is a jolly good thing to do.   That, of course, is not logically possible.  
Mark's final statement is his rather blatant attempt to cast himself as morally superior to all abortion opponents.  He says, "I respect and honor a person's choices."  The obvious intimation is that those who oppose abortion do not respect and honor the decision of a pregnant woman to kill the nascent human life within her, thus making them morally inferior to Mark the Great.  Not only does Mark suffer from delusions of his moral grandeur, he is also a massive hypocrite.  Make no mistake, Mark does not honor the opinions of those who call abortion murder.  He hates those opinions and those who propound them.  So much for behavioral consistency as well.
I have ignored the issue of personhood up to this point.  I think the concept of personhood gets to the heart of the debate.  How does a person, by definition someone who has personhood, differ from the human being Mark has already conceded is living within a pregnant woman?  (You may object to my assertion that Mark has conceded that the unborn baby is a "human being."  You shouldn't.  Mark admits the unborn baby exists, that it is ontologically present within the woman.  That makes it a "being."  He also admits that it has human DNA. That makes it a human being.  That is an example of a logically necessary argument, unlike the tripe we are reading from Mark.)  The biblical answer to that question is that there is no difference.  A human being and a person are the same thing because God creates each person/human being and endows each with a soul made in His image.  The God-hating answer to that question is that there is a difference between a person and a human being but they don't want to talk about or define what it is because asking that question exposes the weakness of their entire position.  And that, my friends, is what passes for rigorous logical necessity these days. 

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