Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Magnificent Wedge

The failing arguments for the justice of abortion are mounting high and ever-increasing. In Paul’s thread “Illogic of Pro-Choice“, we have several pro-abortion advocates coming from different angles with different arguments, all trying to scramble up a coherent statement in favor of the elimination of unborn human life. I’ve responded to one of the major arguments (exbeliever’s) in my article “Prioritizing Negative Commands,” to which, to my surprise, no one has yet to respond. You’ll find some other interesting things in this thread. You’ll find three recommendations to visit my blog on the part of “Vile Blasphemer” (Gee, I wonder what he thinks about Christianity…). Thanks, Mr. Vile! Yet, despite these recommendations, no one has come by to defend his assertions. The sad part is that these already-refuted statements are continually being assumed and asserted in Paul’s thread.

Anyway, I thought I would attempt to collect together the scraps left of the arguments from the abortion advocates and see if there are any more bubbles to burst. Up to bat today is “FrancestheMagnificent.” With a name like that, you can’t lose, can you? Swing, batta-batta-, swing! (Mr. Vile, I invite you to pull up a chair, bring some popcorn smothered in unhydrogenated olive oil margarine, and enjoy the show):

I know invoking slavery does wonders to rouse peoples’ emotions, but that issue is entirely irrelevant with respect to my argument.

FrancestheAmazing would have us believe that the central issue of this debate is not the definition of human life. This is a lie. As we saw in my last post, any attempted argument in favor of abortion that fails to focus on the definition of human life is a purposefully-distracting canard. We’ll soon be able to show that FrancestheWonderful’s argument, though sugar-coated and chock-full of non sequiturs, will always go back to his unjustified assumption that the unborn are not human (regardless of what he might tell us). FrancestheTerrific attempts to prove that abortion is not murder by, in essence, proving that the unborn are not human, yet his entire argument is based upon the assumption that the unborn are not human. He takes for granted what he needs to prove, and his begging of the question surely glares.

Let’s look at my argument one more time:

P1: A person owns that which grows in his/her body.

P2: A fetus grows in the mother’s body.

C1: The mother owns the fetus.

P3: A person may destroy what he/she owns.

P4: The mother owns the fetus.

C2: The mother may destroy the fetus.

Oh my, oh my. Several things:

1. Before I interact with this argument, let me remind you of some principles that were shown in my last post. Commands can be divided into two categories: positive and negative. If’ you’ll permit me to use the Bible simply as an example, the Bible gives us positive commands: “Do pray, do evangelize, do support your family,” and negative commands: “Do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery.” For perhaps no other reason than the fact that we are human, it is impossible to obey all of the positive commands at once. These commands, therefore, take prioritization (prioritizing absolutes: seems so paradoxical!). You must decide when, where and how you are going to obey them. Obviously, you are most likely unable to evangelize and pray at the same time. Christians, therefore, must decide when it is best to obey the commands and what commands have more relative priority than others.

But such is not the case with negative commands. Negative commands are commands that must be obeyed everywhere at all time. You cannot prioritize negative commands. There is not question concerning when, where or how you obey the command “Do not murder.” The answer is “All the time, everywhere, and by not murdering.” And you must obey all negative commands all of the time. The importance of this will become evident later in the discussion.

2. “A person owns that which grows in his/her body.” FrancestheOutstanding simply asserts this as if everyone will accept it. He gives us no reason to believe it. What is the difference between FrancestheBrilliant’s assertion and my asserting, “A person owns that which grows in his body, except if it is a human”? FrancestheSplendid would have us believe that the definition of humanity is irrelevant to this discussion. But it is, in fact, the very center of this discussion. In fact, my assertion would have much more historical and logical warrant. The Civil Rights movement tells us that the word human itself describes something which cannot be owned. So all it takes is to add a third propositions to FrancestheBravura’s statement and it self-destructs:

Does a person own that which grows in his/her body?

P1: A human grows in the mother’s body.

P2: A human cannot be owned.

C: Therefore, a person does not own everything which grows in his/her body.

Now, FrancestheGrand might disagree with proposition 2, or might call foul play in my use of the term “human” in proposition 1 (though he would have us believe that this is virtually irrelevant to the debate), but is there any less warrant to my syllogism than there is to FrancestheSuperb’s syllogism? Is this simply a debate of assertions and counter-assertions?

3. “A person may destroy what she owns / The mother owns the fetus / Therefore, The mother may destroy the fetus.” This second half of the argument is based upon the unjustified non-sequitur and unestablished premise in the first half of the argument. So we could really disregard this half. But let’s grant the first half just for the sake of an argument. Let’s grant that humans can be owned, and that the mother owns her unborn child. Does this then permit her to destroy it? Are we always allowed to destroy what we own when and however we want? This goes back to the impermissibility of prioritizing negative commands. It may be my right to destroy my property, but in fulfilling my right I am disallowed to disobey a negative command. For instance, my house is my property. I can blow up my house, can I not? But can I blow up my house at night while my family is still sleeping in bed? Which comes first: my right to destroy my property, or my obligation to obey negative commands all of the time? So, even if the mother owns her unborn child (which she does not; that has never been established), she is not free to deal with her property in a manner that would cause her to violate the negative command “Do not murder.”

4. The debate, naturally, then goes back to square one, where pro-life advocates have centered all along: the definition of human life. FrancestheDazzling might try to distract us with his unestablished propositions and non-sequitur conclusions, but we cannot be fooled. It is obvious, however, that abortion advocates believe that the burden of proof is on the pro-life advocate to establish that the unborn are human. While I believe this can be done, I also believe that the burden of proof, rather, lies on the abortion advocates to demonstrate that the like-offspring of humans, during the period between conception and birth, are less human than those after birth. Abortion advocates take this notion for granted, and they have never once demonstrated it. Rather, they have only wasted our time with arguments that are permeated with this hidden assumption. They act like they are going to prove something, but they merely assume it from the beginning and never attempt to demonstrate it.

My argument is inapplicable to slavery because I’ve yet to hear of a slave who was growing within the master’s body. The reason that the mother owns the fetus is because the fetus is growing within the mother’s body, and a person owns that which grows in his/her body.

Of course, we have already shown that FrancestheExceptional merely assumes that one automatically owns that which grows in his body. I have countered this assertion by simply asserting the opposite (”Since humans cannot be owned, one does not automatically own that which grows inside of him”). There is nothing that differentiates my assertion from his. He gives us no basis for accepting his.

So, yes, in that specific circumstance, a human can own another human.

FrancestheStupendous’ statement here (calling the fetus human) is the wedge that opens the door to a load of problems for his arguments. Even if a human can own another human, one cannot interact with his property in a manner that violates the negative command to not murder. It is no different than blowing up my house while my family is sleeping in it. Negative commands take infinite priority over my “rights.” Just imagine if I were to make this argument:

P1: I am free to do whatever I want with my property

P2: My AK-47 is my property

C: Therefore, I am free to shoot and kill FrancestheAstonishing with my AK-47.

Would FrancestheBreathtaking accept my conclusion? I hope not! Why? Because my “rights” can only be fulfilled within the parameters of my obedience to negative commands, here, again, the command “Do not murder.”

And poor FrancestheFantastic has left himself with no way out by calling the fetus “human” (this is why this piece of information is the fact that silences the debate). FrancestheColossal cannot object that the action is not “murder,” for if the fetus is a human being, and if the taking of the life of another human being is murder, then abortion is unequivocally murder.

Evan May.


  1. Or, my inference:

    We own our property and whatever is in it.

    I own my house and whatever is in it, since it's my property.

    I have tenants in my house.

    Therefore I own them.

    A man can do whatever he wants with what he ownes.

    I can do whatever I want with my tenants.

    There, if I want, I can blow up my house, with my tenants in it.

    Also, fransuavethebewilderment, says that his argument is based on "property rights." He also says that morality is relative, i.e., there are no such things as "rights" other than arbitrary constructs. His worldview doesn't allow for "rights." Therefore, if he was to be consistent then he should be against the idea of "property rights." Therefore he should be against abortion. All this is based on premises he offers.


  2. I think Frances' "property rights" argument fails on so many levels. An interesting twist is that he has is that once a baby is separated from the mother then it instantly gets self-ownership... huh? I would think that goes against property rights. If you own it then you continue to own it until you sell it, throw it away, give it away, etc... If I were to knock Frances' out and take his kidney out of him then he would no longer own it according to his logic - it would no longer be his Kidney. Well then does the kidney have self-ownership? Does it become a ward of the state? Or is it mine - possession is nine-tenths of the law?

  3. Another funny little implication is that all the sports teams owners can kill their players.

  4. I wanted to see your definitional criteria for "human", if you please (link to comment on "Illogic of Pro-Choice" thread).

    I also forgot to link to my biosketch, as I was asking about your drug background and as I told you my own (IV narcotics).