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View Diary: Is Heaven Populated by Blastulae? (235 comments)

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  •  "soul" (none)
    I don't think that discussions of "soul" have any place in the debate about abortion legality.  That's a theological/spiritual issue and the government should have no say in the matter.
    •  Technically correct, but bullshit nonetheless... (none)
      Why does government restrain an adult's right to end the life of another adult?  Because human life is somehow special.  I call it spiritual/soul/etc. -- you can call it whatever you want.  If we all, as adult human individuals, are nothing more than a collection of cells, then government would have no place in keeping us from offing each other.
      •  no (none)
        The government isn't interested in it because of the "specialness" of someone's human spirit/soul or whatever.  Yes, the government restrains an adult's right to kill another adult - but it also restricts his right to kill the person's dog, or blow up the person's home, or put a fence on the person's property, etc.

        The government has an interest in lots of things aside from human life, and many that are merely collections of atoms with no animating spirit.  Also some that are just ideas and imaginary entities (corporations, etc.).  It has an interest in these things because it has an interest in maintaining order and administering justice.

        •  Framing the issue (4.00)
          by using the notion of soul is very useful.  Yes, I agree that you can't write ensoulment into the law.  However,

          1. It helps reach an understanding with people who are anti-abortion.  Do you think that someone who honestly thinks abortion is murder gives two hoots about a "right of privacy" or a "right to choose".
          2. The law at least as regards something as basic as murder is merely codifying an unwritten moral code.  Regardless of how the law is written, people think murder is wrong because there is a specialness about a human being.  Killing a dog is wrong but for different reasons and to a different degree.
          3. There is psychological research being put forth that posits that notions of a soul are inborn.  (With "soul" used as a general and perhaps ill-defined notion, without any particular lofty theological edifice built around it--i.e., something more than just "mind" but as the essential nature of one's personhood.)  People like Paul Bloom and Steven Pinker actually believe there is no reality to the soul, just that people inherently think there is.
          •  response (none)
            1.  We don't need to "reach an understanding" with people who are anti-abortion.  Understanding is a two-way street and they're unwilling to compromise.  They are the ones insisting on imposing their morality on others.  We are not.  The law doesn't force anyone to have an abortion against her will.

            2.  Yes, throughout human history, murder has been considered a terrible crime.  However, abortion hasn't been.  This is a complicated issue and for centuries philosophers, theologians, church fathers, legal experts et al. have been all over the map on it.  Suffice it to say that our culture considers your personhood to begin on your date of birth, not on your conception date.

            3.  Interesting.

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