Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Watching a Pro-Abortionist Self-Destruct

Zach Moore is trying everything he can to discuss everything and anything besides the actual argument I've presented to him. I know he'd like me to sink to his level and see who can cram the most smarmy witticisms into a blog post. He'd like me to have to defend against his repeated swipes at "Reformed apologetics." He wants to paint me with the "anti-science" brush, hoping I'll move the debate to that area. He is even virtually wearing the cyber knees of his cyber pants through by begging that the discussion be moved over to a debate about whether the human fetus is "fully human." But unlike the teenagers on Christian discussion forums that Moore is used to debating, I'm not going to budge from the original argument and allow Moore to move the discussion to areas he finds more comfortable. Since Moore wants to run real far real quick from his original claims, I'm forced to spend my time constantly calling attention back to the actual issue at hand. Despite his wishes to the contrary, I'm afraid this post of mine will be more of the same. I will simply reiterate the actual issue up for debate, drilling the point home. I'll be a Mr. Miyagi to Moore's Danielson: Ah ta ta ta, focus, Daniel-san!"

In this post I will lay out, again, the actual argument I've put forward, and thus the one Moore needs to concern himself with. I will try to illustrate how my argument works, showing that Moore's pro-abortion argument leads him into the unenviable position of trying to defend two principles which, in effect, cancel the other out. This results in something of a malfunction, circuitry overload. It will be shown that Moore must end up blowing a head gasket, not unlike Norman from Star Trek's memorable "I Mudd" episode.

It might have struck some first time readers as strange what I said above about Moore wanting to focus the debate on whether I could argue for the "full humanity" of unborn humans. "Isn't that precisely what a pro-lifer must prove?", you ask. Now, as most readers here know, I've engaged that debate here numerous times. I have read widely in the field. I have shown in the past that I have no problem engaging in that debate. Most interlocutors have left befuddled after that particular debate. The reason why that debate is "immaterial" here is because of the very reason I responded to Moore in the first place. The reason it is immaterial is since Moore claims that his pro-choice arguments works regardless of whether or not the unborn is fully human. It may help to see this point made more explicitly. Here's Moore's Conclusion:

[MC] It is morally acceptable for women to have abortions at any time up to and until the unborn human fetus (fully?) emerges from the woman's vagina (or stomach, if it's a c-section birth)

Now, Moore has claimed that he can get to [MC] from either of these Proposition below:

[P*] The unborn human fetus is not fully human

[P**] The unborn human fetus is fully human

That is, Moore has claimed that his argument for [MC] works even if [P**] is true.

Now, of course Moore never laid any of this out as precise, but that's his stated position.

Now, getting back to whether or not I need to "prove" (not sure what criteria of 'proof' is being assumed) that it is the case that the unborn human fetus is "fully human", it should be fairly obvious that I shoulder no such burden. Rather than me having to prove [P**], Moore has claimed that his arguments goes through unscathed even given the truth of [P**]. Note the word "given." That is, Moore has given me the truth of [P**], hypothetically. So I've done nothing more than to take Moore at his word. I have simply contradicted Moore at one point of his argument. I have denied that his argument goes through if the unborn human fetus is fully human.

So, Moore claims [MC] goes through even if we grant [P**]. I claim that [MC] does not go through if [P**] is granted. Formally, my argument looks like this:

[1] If [P**], then not-[MC].
[2] [P**].
[3] Therefore, not-[MC].

Since this is simply an instance of modus ponens, there should be no question about the argument's validity. [P**] has been granted for the sake of the argument. If [1] is the case, then the argument is sound, and the conclusion follows necessarily. So, as should now be painfully obvious, I do not have to prove [2], I just have to offer reasons for assuming [1] is true. Call those reasons that I've given so far, [R's].

As is now clear, arguing for [2] doesn't factor into the debate. If my [R's] work, then [1] is established, and the argument goes through. Therefore, any rejoinder to this post that grounds its substance in requiring that [2] be proven, rather than undermining [R's], will be insufficient as a cogent reply. At this point, Moore has chosen to focus in on getting me to argue for [2] when what he needs to be doing is undermining [R's]. Thus given Moore's incessant insistence that I prove a proposition he's granted (an absurdity in itself!), the reasonable conclusion to draw is that Moore recognizes the quick sand that is his original claim and is struggling to move to more solid ground. He made the positive claim, I questioned it, and now he wants to pretend as if I am making a positive claim about the full humanity of the unborn human fetus that needs defending. Despite Moore's insistence to the contrary, this has nothing to do with "Reformed apologists loath[ing] to argue for their own position." As should be obvious by now, I have been arguing for my position. Moore finds it necessary to recast my position into more manageable, bite-sized pieces that he feels more comfortable chewing on.

Now, it could be possible that Moore is not so devious as to be consciously trying to change horses mid-stream. Perhaps he's simply confused about what his position and my position is. If so, hopefully the above helped to untangle Moore's thoughts. Having disentangled any confusions about what has actually been stated, and what is actually being argued, I'll move on to the next important feature of the debate (sorry to those who have actually read my posts, but the recapping is unfortunately necessary given Moore's willful or unwillful ignorance).

Moore's "Primary Argument" for [MC] is:

[PA] All human beings are sovereign over their own bodies. Thus, anything growing inside my body stays there only by my own approval (assuming that I have the available medical technology to remove it at my discretion).

The term 'sovereignty' in the above is a specific kind of sovereignty I have dubbed 'Moore-Sovereignty'. 'Moore-Sovereignty' states:

[MS] The right all humans have to decide what things stay in or on one's body and what things stay out.

Now, I could act like a Moore and claim that "Moore has not argued for [MS] even though it is "crucial to his argument," and I could point out that I gave numerous reasons to suppose [MS] obviously false, but since Moore hasn't bothered arguing for [MS], or undermining my arguments against [MS], I take it that this is yet another aspect of the argument Moore doesn't want to go near to with a ten foot pole. So in addition to the above, I have also argued that [MS] renders [MC] false. This is due to the fact that Moore granted us [P**]. Granting the truth of [P**], then [granting the truth of] [MS] implies, by the logical inference of subimplication, the truth of the Fetus's Sovereignty principle:

[FS] Human fetuses have full sovereignty over their body (where 'sovereignty' is defined along the lines of [MS].

To make all this more specific, let's make another inference from [MS], this time just dealing with women:

[WS] Women have full sovereignty over their body (where sovereignty is defined along the lines of [MS]).

At best, Moore is caught in something like the position Norman the android gets himself into with Kirk and Mudd. Mudd and Kirk pose something like the liar paradox to Norman. Mudd says that he is lying and Kirk says that everything Mudd says is a lie. Upon pondering this most difficult of paradoxes, Norman malfunctions and shuts down.

I will attempt to show how Moore must malfunction given the explicit or implicit propositions of his position. The below is simply an illustration of the general problem I've located in Moore's thinking on this issue.

Now, I take it that [MS] includes Applications (MSA's) like the one below, for instance:

[MSA*] Due to [WS], Moore-sovereignty implies that a human woman can choose to have a human fetus expelled from her body by means of a saline abortion.

Saline abortion induces death by salt poisoning. In a saline abortion, the baby breathes in the saline solution, death occurs within a few hours, and not without dehydration, brain hemorrhaging, organ failure, and burned skin. But [MS] also implies another more general application:

[MSA**] Moore-sovereignty implies that any human can decide whether s/he wants to breathe in saline solution and die by means of saline poisoning.

By the logical inference of subimplicaton [MSA**] implies:

[MSA***] Due to [FS], Moore-sovereignty implies that a human fetus can choose to decide whether s/he wants to breathe in saline solution and die by means of saline poisoning.

One can make similar applications with e.g., aspiration, D and E, and D and X abortion methods.

Now assume this highly plausible proposition, call it the Preservation Principle:

[PP] Generally, any living human that is not insane or suffering some other mental disorder would not want to end their life by means of saline solution and, if they could tell us, they would tell us that they do not want their life to end that way.

Among other reasons, [PP] is justified by asking any mentally healthy individual if they would have wanted to have ingested saline into their body when they were a fetus, thus causing their death. Most people, even those living in depressed conditions, are happy that they are alive because, as is fairly obvious, it is better to exist than not to exist. Despite what angry teenagers dressed in black may claim, even they are not killing themselves despite the occasional yelling at mom, "I wish I were never born!"

As we can see, then, while [MSA*] (recall that there are strong reasons to suppose [MS] false) may justify a woman getting an abortion even if her baby is fully human, [MSA***] justifies the baby's sovereign decision not to have saline "in" her body. And that she wouldn't, if she could tell us, is supported by [PP]. Indeed, living humans who cannot speak at the moment have a right to have someone with their best interest in mind speak for them. Any action that lowers the quality of life, or ends the life, is, prima facie, an action not in their best interest.

Moore may complain about my chosen example, but that does no good. Moore must grant [MSA*] because [MSA*] is implied by [WS] which is implied by [MS]. Moore can't weasel out of [MSA*] as an abortifacient. But then [MSA***], which Moore must also grant, since it is implied by [FS], which is also implied by [MS]. Thus my example, picked because of how easy it was to illustrate Moore's problem, shows how Moore's "primary argument", [PA], for abortion rights, leads directly to a head on collision between the fully human woman and the fully human fetus's sovereignty. Thus Moore's argument for abortion induces a paralysis of monumental proportion rendering Moore absolutely impotent to speak on matters having to do with abortion rights. Moore, like Norman before him, is headed toward an inevitable meltdown.

So, that's what's been argued by me over the last three posts. Moore has chosen, for a third time, to avoid my argument, as well as all the other important sub-arguments I made undercutting his position. The above was laid out with care and precision detailing how and where, exactly, More needs to focus his energies if he ever hopes to extricate himself from the original argument I leveled at him. At this stage in history, it does not good to play the Wizard of Oz and tell your reader(s) to "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." We've all seen the movie and are far too incredulous to fall for those sorts of things. I have simply pointed out that the king has no clothes, parading around in one's birthday suit, pretending to be fully clothed, isn't the proper way to handle yourself in debates such as these.

Having stayed the course for a third time, remaining undeterred by the attempts to get the discussion on a more comfortable track for Moore, and remaining uninterested in having a contest over who can slip the most smarm and pejoratives into a post, I'm afraid Moore's bluff has been called and now he is in the unenviable position of having to actually defend his shoddy case for abortion. But if past behavior is an indicator of future behavior, we can all be fairly sure that Moore will take his next opportunity to pontificate about matters irrelevant to the challenge actually laid at his feet. But, we can always hope...

Before I continue on, I should briefly show one more example of the muddled thinking Moore is exhibiting. He seems virtually unable to track with the logic of his own position. Besides the above, his struggles are elsewhere evident in how he responded to my claim that [MS] allows one to place bombs inside their body and detonate them in public areas. Moore responded, “ "I am not talking about things people do to each other with their bodies." But since we've granted the full humanity of the fetus, you are, in fact, "talking about things people do to each other with their bodies." Since the fetus is a human, then it can't be the body of the woman's that is getting killed but the body of another human. So Moore fails to show how my argument from analogy is off.

Now that I've, again, set the debate on the right track for all involved, I'll finish off a mop-up job on some of the comments Moore made in his latest post.

Apparently he thinks that simply by virtue of quoting me verbatim at length, he somehow can't be blamed for ignoring my statements and trying to put arguments in my mouth. For example, his clumsy assumption that my reference to "one organ among others" was the fetus, rather than the uterus. Without an effort at reading comprehension on his part it's no wonder there are so many blunders; I would spare myself the tedium of correcting him point by point unless I thought it would achieve anything useful.
But obviously those who read my post are aware that I did more than simply "quote at length"; rather, I quoted at length and applied fairly detail analysis (like I did above) to Moore's claims. No one is buying Moore's sophistic attempts to get around my arguments. And it’s hard to see how even he can be persuaded by the types of responses he’s offering.

But as for his specific example, if Moore is correct rather than saving-face, the problem is entirely his fault. No one was talking about what a woman does with a uterus, we have been talking this entire time about what a woman does with the fetus inside her uterus! The context of the entire discussion, as my quotes above make clear, is that Moore had been arguing that [MS] implies that a woman can "determine what things stay in and what things stay out of her body." Perhaps Moore is unaware, but abortions don't remove "the uterus." Furthermore, what Moore is referencing is an argument I made that shows that if we assume the fetus is fully human, then it is not an organ. Even if we overlook Moore's unclear statement, he's picking on something that is materially inconsequential to the argument I was making. This is fairly obvious and if Moore doesn’t know that then that's even more reason to suppose rational argumentation will not work on him. If Moore is aware that he's picking on a throw-away issue, totally irrelevant to te argument being made, then he's guilty of being dishonest.

Moreover, even granting all Moore says here, it's easy to see how Moore is simply being a sophist.

Moore's point about the "organ" was based on his unargued assertion that my denial of a woman's right to abortion was based on "special pleading." He wrote: "Paul, by special pleading against the complete sovereignty of women, would have us believe that one organ among all others is arbitrarily off-limits."

But in the post he's responding to, I wrote,

"I am not guilty of special pleading, Moore is. I do think I have a right to remove tumors, and I think women have a right to remove tumors. The fetus, to quote Ahnold, "Is not a tumah." I do not think that I have the right to murder a fetus if, ex hypothesi, I could carry one. So I also, quite consistently, do not think that women have the right to murder their fetuses. These distinctions seem all rather elementary to me. There's not so much as a case for special pleading on my end. Indeed, (v) showed that Moore was guilty of special pleading."

But as is his wont, rather than tackle a substantive rejoinder, Moore opts for the easy way out and picks on incidentals by invoking sophisms and then pretending that his example is representative of the rest of my post thereby allowing him to avoid actually having to engage in a substantive response.

Continuing on...

Moore then acts as if Craig Sowder asks the same question Moore is wondering. Never mind that I showed above that that question is, per Moore's own grantings, irrelevant to the debate, Craig asked about personhood and I spoke of "humanity." Moore further misses the point in that my post never said my arguments were limited to scientific evidence. I said science was "on my side." And to finish this out, Moore uses another sophistic tactic by assuming that I claimed that if some entity, E, had human DNA, then that is sufficient to establish the full humanity of E. Moreover, Moore apparently has no idea what "unified" means as I used it. Add to this that Moore is also tackling a comment I made to a person sympathetic to my position and was not attempting to argue for the full humanity of the fetus. Lastly, Moore has no business saying that what I listed is simply necessary and not sufficient for being a human and not sufficient since Moore stated that he had no idea at all what makes something "fully human." If Moore thinks that he has some property that non-arbitrarily makes him "fully human" while the not the fetus, I'm all ears.

Of course all of this must wait until after we've moved past the original argument that Moore, up until now, as totally failed to address. I know he'd love to not defend his claims and turn the discussion to my argument for the full humanity of the fetus, but as Moore has told us, that is irrelevant to his argument, tghe one under the microscope. So, let's see if Moore can think straight first before we go to where, eventually, Moore will be forced to go: "Aboritons are acceptable only if the fetus is not a human being." Or, he can change his sovereinty principle to the ad hoc claim that "All humans except humans in wombs have sovereignty." And of course these are all positive claims Moore has to not only assert but likewise defend.

I have my doubts that he can do so.

But if he thinks he can, "I'm your Huckleberry."


  1. It's not "Danielson".

    It's "Daniel-san". The suffix "-san" is a Japanese form of formal address.

    Just thought I'd clear that up. :)