Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Facts and Humanity

So Dog has posed an interesting challenge...  "I’m still waiting for you to provide a definition of who and what is human, including along our evolutionary history."  It was a part of this much larger comment...
"G2, all you have offered here is faith in place of fact, and no fact-based definitions.

We can agree in facts, and I am quite clear about the extent to which facts are accumulated in larger contexts. If you see an example where I have misrepresented any fact, please supply it. Beyond that, while there may not be perfect consensus, I have provided both the most current information, the conclusions from that information – which you have not challenged using facts.

You avoid anything which is factual that discredits your arguments. I don’t. I’m still waiting for you to provide a definition of who and what is human, including along our evolutionary history.

I have not extrapolated to any extreme degree, I have rather expressed here what the current status of science is. The appropriate criticism for extrapolation of facts – which is not faith or belief – relies on the quantity and diversity of those facts taken together. You haven’t offered up anything – ANYTHING – that argues against EITHER the facts or the conclusions from them.

You just offer up “I like my prejudices better”, and call it faith, without addressing the facts AT ALL.

These are not ‘just my conclusions – or facts’, they are the prevailing thought, which is well founded. You simply don’t like them." Dog Gone
Here were my responses...
"“prevailing thought” of a certain group of people…" G2A

"Why would anyone debate “facts” with you? You would just insist that their sources are biased, incorrect, stupid, disproven, etc. While insisting that yours are rock solid and unbiased.. Until you empty your cup a bit, accept that a lot of this is gray and respect opposing views, it is a waste of time…" G2A

"I often disagree with my readers but I do respect their differing views, whereas that is something you are not able to do yet. Open or close minded, it is your choice." G2A

"As for when a fetus becomes a human… I believe there is no correct black/white answer. That is why we have politicians and courts. This again will be a difficult concept for you. The fetus becomes human when the society in which you live says it does. And this can change over time… Just like values, crimes, success criteria, definition of beauty, sinful behavior, etc. You are a black and white person living in a very gray world…" G2A
 Now I know we have discussed abortion many times.  This time I would like you to forget about the whole concept of abortion, women's rights, Roe V Wade, viability, etc.  And just try to answer these questions from your personal perspective:
  • Are humans significantly different from other mammals? How & Rationale?
  • Did we evolve from a lower level of mammal? If so, when did we become "human"?
  • When do think a human becomes a human via the natural pro-creation process? Rationale?
  • Can you think of any "factual" way to prove or disprove the above to 90+% of humans?  (ie prevailing thought)


jerrye92002 said...

Here are my answers:

1) Humans are different from all other mammals in being far better able to foresee the consequences of their actions and make voluntary choices. Source: Conclusion from an Alan Alda-narrated documentary exploring the subject.

2) We probably evolved from early humans, that much I will grant, but recent research indicates that Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens existed simultaneously, so there is some question as to the evolutionary path we took. I think we become more "human" all the time, so I don't think there is time in history that's a clear turning point. Evolution, in fact, denies you that clarity. Maybe you can go back to chimps, too, if you go far enough and allow for enough "happy accidents," and avoid all of the pitfalls of evolutionary theory-- I don't insist that humankind popped onto Earth a la Genesis.

3) I offer as definition of "becoming human" the following: "When the DNA of Mankind is joined." This from the 2010 GOP platform, removed in 2012. It is a thoroughly scientific and accurate description, but was considered "too specific" for platform language (and should have read "Humankind" in my politically correct opinion).

4) Can I think of any way to prove any of this "factually"? I'm trying, believe me. :-)

John said...

I was thinking of philosophy 101. How do we factually prove that we actually exist at all?

Seems that accepting that this is all "real" is our first assumption or leap of faith. For those not familiar, how do you know you are not a character in someone's book? (Great fiction philosophy book: Sophie's World) Prove it?

First assumption. I think therefore I am....

jerrye92002 said...

If we are characters in a novel, or the construct of some great mind without physical presence, we're dang good simulacra, and we're therefore as "real" as we need to be. Think of it as a Turing test, on a grander scale.

John said...

See I learn something new everyday...
Wiki Turing Test

I am not disagreeing that I exist. And if I don't, I intend to live as if I do.

My point was that "facts" are often based on some non-factual assumptions. It is not a bad thing, it is just something to be aware of and file under "assumptions".

Laurie said...

It seems to me there are human
zygotes, human embryos, human fetuses, human infants etc, the question is what rights do humans at these of these stages deserve. Per previous discussion that matter seems somewhat settled, with at least some readers of your blog, though there are some who believe the life of a few cells (human zygote) is deserving of equal protection.

John said...

This is an enjoyable way to learn about the history of philosophy.
Wiki Sophie's World

Sophie's World PDF

Sophie's World Movie

John said...

I am willing to stay with 1st trimester is "sub-human" and therefore the Mother's rights come first. Still sad if she chooses to stop that little heart, but I am a pragmatist. Better dead than with someone that does not want or can not support the child.
Mayo 1st trimester

However many of the pro-choice folks seem to think the human fetus is "sub-human" for quite a bit longer.

And if viability is the test, this will continue to move earlier and earlier as our medical technology advances.

That's why I asked the question about if a 23 week old fetus were delivered, could the Mother choose to deny treatment to the itty bitty baby if it had "health problems"? At this point is it "human" or "sub-human"?

Why would in or out of the womb make a difference?

jerrye92002 said...

"It seems to me there are human
zygotes, human embryos, human fetuses, human infants etc, the question is what rights do humans at these... "

Laurie, I applaud your recognition that all of these living entities are indeed living humans. Unfortunately, between zygote and infant there is a vast gray area. There are some that argue that birth control-- preventing creation of the zygote-- is sinful, while others argue that it is OK to kill infants up to 1 year of age as a matter of a "woman's right to choose." I, as the extremist among us, will agree that both of those positions are more extreme than I and, I believe, any of the rest here. Between those two poles, however-- between zygote and birth-- is still where the argument resides, where the definitions are "gray" and the "rights" likewise. The definitions may have a scientific basis and be clear, but the rights attached are legal matters which may have no basis other than opinion, or perhaps morality. They are judgement calls with horrendous human consequences, and I prefer to err on the side of life. I am NOT buying the argument that a child can be killed before birth because it may be mistreated after.

John said...

I know you aren't buying it, and I know you are not willing to fund early childhood care and education...

That tis the Conservative mantra:

"You were an irresponsible idiot who got knocked up, so you will have that baby and deal with the consequences... No matter if you are able or willing to do it even marginally well or responsibly."

See I find that logic flawed since you are assigning a very very important responsibility that requires effort, money, self sacrifice, knowledge, etc to someone who has by their own related action proven themselves to be irresponsible and not too bright....

Let's see.. "You have proven yourself to be irresponsible so I am going to give you a critical task." How does this make sense?

jerrye92002 said...

Let me get this straight: You believe that the best solution is allow irresponsible people to escape the natural consequences of their behavior by killing another human being? Does that make sense, or does it tend to lead to more irresponsible behavior? I grant that the offspring of irresponsible people should not suffer for the sins of their parents, but we have legal and social means for dealing with such cases; we don't just kill the kids like we do with unwanted puppies.