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Poll: Are all living human fetuses human beings?

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  1. #81
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Saying something is obvious is not a qualifying argument on ODN or pretty much anywhere serious debate is practiced.
    If that is true, and I seriously doubt that it is, then that is what's wrong with "ODN or pertty much anywhere serious debate is practiced", and the places where "serious debate is practiced" that it isn't true are the only places run by people who actually know what they're doing. That said, I realize how strong a statement that is, and will attempt to explain and justify it as best I can in a single post as we go along in this one...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried
    Certainly you can make that appeal but unless everyone simply agrees it doesn't stand.
    But this is only the case because of the rule as it stands. It can't therefore be any justification for the rule itself. What the rule should enforce, instead of what you've just said above, is this modification to it:

    "Certainly you can make that appeal, and absent any sensible objection, where the sensibility, the rationality of the objector in making the objection is demonstrated to exist, as opposed to being simply assumed to exist, it stands undefeated."

    That is the change to the Challenge rule that literally, from an epistemological viewpoint, cries out to be done.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried
    And if you are starting a topic there is an implicit assumption you want someone to disagree with you otherwise its got no place on a debate board.
    I do want someone to disagree with me, if they can (and how would I know that ahead of time?), but I want it to be a rational person, using a rational objection. You're taking the position there is no need to test objections for their rationality, that the simple fact they are propositions used to make an objection, instead of propositions used to make a claim, grants them some superior epistemological status, when the fact is taking such a position is nothing more or less than an endorsement of the Humean skepticism that has been philosophically debunked since almost the day he first published it.

    And so long as the Challenge rule remains as it presently is on this board, this board will continue to award the unjustified objection a superior epistemological status to the unjustified claim that it does not merit in the bulk of the epistemological literature or according to common sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried
    When folks simply refuse to make their case beyond nay saying or blanket unsupported claims.
    I never once refused to make my case, or used an unsupported claim to make it. The only unsupported propositions tendered in this thread came from those frustrated by the fact they couldn't mount a rational objection to the argument put forward; an extremely simple, inductive argument very similar to the one that goes

    1.) No crow has ever been observed to be other than a bird

    2.) Therefore all crows are birds

    Now it doesn't matter a fig that I didn't formalize it like that in the OP, and I didn't put it that way there, because I had two goals in designing this OP. The first, and most important was to drive home the point the human fetus is a human being. The second, and ancillary purpose was to highlight what's wrong with the Challenge rule. Despite the fact I gave an argument in my OP, (and have since repeated it when you first alluded to your belief I hadn't), and that those opposed to the conclusion of that argument were quick to offer counter arguments to it (ie., prospective "defeaters"), thus signaling their knee-jerk understanding they had some epistemological obligation to "defeat" it (thereby proving my point that the Challenge rule is critically deficient as it stands); when that began to fail, they all, you in particular, next appealed to the the cognitive environment the Challenge rule as written has created over the course of time, if not to a direct appeal to the rule itself.

    Sig, if you can't see this situation as a bona fide "abuse" of the rule, and you're a senior staff member on this board, then you've simply proved my objection to the rule as written. It tends to stifle debate every bit as much as it tends to advance it. And this would be fine if there were no other, better alternative, but there so obviously is! Just follow the logic of defeat, starting with a grasp of the concept of defeat and defeaters that stands on all fours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried
    And saying something is obvious is not support, its just another unsupported claim. If you told us why it was obvious, well that would be different entirely.
    I've repeatedly told you, both here and via PM, what is not a matter of my opinion, supported or otherwise, but is a matter of fact: that it is a widely accepted truth within epistemology that there are such things as foundational beliefs, and therefore unsupportable propositions. It is also true that there are such things as self-evident propositions; propositions that once understood correctly, are simply seen to be true, that according to Descartes and Locke and a whole cadre of others, have a certain impact on the rational human mind such that their truth cannot be sensibly denied.

    There are, therefore, propositions that not only have no need of evidential support to be true, and are seen to be true by all rational people of intelligence, but there are also propositions that are necessarily true if true at all, and therefore propositions for which no possible evidence can be offered, but also for which no rational objection can be made. An example of this last class of proposition would be the proposition that other minds, besides mine, exist, or that others feel pain similar to mine when they act similar to the way I do when I feel pain, or that I am not simply a brain in a vat, the subject of experimentation by an Alpha Centaurian epistemological scientist bent on determining the exact number of false beliefs its noetic structure will maintain without epistemic collapse.

    Or take a less philosophically stale example: the English language. We hardly ever think about this, but the fact is there is no word in English that is not "defined" by appeal to another English word or words that are themselves undefined except by appeal to yet another round of English words, and this cognitive enterprise continues until we arrive back at the English word we were originally trying to "define". This, then, is an entirely circular cognitive procedure, taken by all English speakers in the hope, but clearly not the evidential demonstration, that because we all cognitively operate in very similar fashion, what we can all agree upon will overwhelm the logical flaw in our language, thus making it the case that contract supersedes circular epistemic flaw. But beyond this necessary accommodation, this agreed upon acceptance of the fatal logical flaw in language, has anyone ever provided evidential support that its inherent circularity is big enough to render that circularity logically acceptable, or even to render those epistemological theories that tolerate a certain amount of circularity in human cognition superior to those that don't? No. Could they do so if they were dedicated enough to put years into the project? No. We use the English language to communicate to other English speakers, then, not because it is not hopelessly logically flawed, but because we have made an epistemic "contract" with each other to do so.

    Now enter the ODN Challenge rule of today. I can use it just the way it stands to challenge any word in English any member of ODN uses to make a claim, up to and including all of them as a stated proposition. I can even do it rationally, by simply referring to what I've just pictured for you above. What I can't do is "defeat" your claim by such an argument, because while I can lay out my effectively universal objection to anything ever claimed, based on the circularity of English to any and all penned propositions, and do so by appeal to a logic that can't be logically refuted, that argument lacks any potential to "defeat" even the weakest claim ever made. Indeed, would be laughed out of court. We all understand I can't defeat a claim in this manner, because in objecting to it in English I'm accepting the human cognitive contract that validates English, and thereby invalidates my defeater that it is too circular to hold logically. We all understand I can't first accept the contract to then use the contract to invalidate the contract, even if the contract is based on a a premise lacking any evidential support!

    So we can see that the Challenge rule as it stands, because it wrongly focuses on the twin concepts of "propositions used as claims" and "propositions expressed as objections to claims", instead of what it should be focused upon, which is the concept of "defeat" for a claim, and by extension "defeaters", is wide open to abuse and misunderstanding. Furthermore, as it stands, the rule implicitly elevates the unsupported objection to a claim to an epistemological status it simply doesn't have according to the bulk of the epistemological literature, and, again, by logical extension, adopts the long discredited Human view of "reasonable" skepticism.

    Finally, because of the glaring epistemological flaw in the Challenge rule as written today, it consequently grants to staff a wide ranging responsibility to make important judgments in very grey areas, and as in all such cases, thereby grants to the Staff unnecessary power, power that should reside in the text of the rule, but instead now resides in the minds of the staff members. The rule should be emended to reduce the burden of interpretation on the Staff, and place that burden instead on the text of the rule as written, a rule written to honor human cognition as it actually exists, instead of how it once existed in the mind of a famous 16th century philosopher, whose infamous principle of reasonable skepticism has long since been discredited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried
    I think that other thread would be a lot more interesting for all of us.
    The problem I see with debates about abortion is similar, but yet importantly different than the one Ibelsd has articulated elsewhere. According to him (and my apologies if I substantially misrepresent your view here, Ibelsd, but since this is an off topic off topic aside, I've presumed I can take the risk without offending), such debates either start off from a proposition held to be true as a matter of personal prejudice, or soon become such in the course of debate, and this is true regardless of the side taken. In this much we agree. Our difference resides in the fact Ibelsd believes this is inherent in the question itself, that it is therefore a necessary element of any such debate, and therefore cannot be avoided, and that because of this necessary and substantive subjectivity, it follows it makes no sense at all to debate the topic of abortion. On this point I strenuously disagree. I continue to believe with strong conviction that the anti-abortion on demand side of the question can be well supported by well established scientific and philosophical principles, while the pro-abortion on demand side of the question cannot,; by contrast must rely exclusively on ideological viewpoints that are not founded on well established science and philosophy, at best, and otherwise are supported by nothing more than rank personal prejudice.

  2. #82
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Right, that's standard practice. But you also have to support your claims. You can't just advance a claim, provide no support, then refuse to retract it until someone else proves it wrong.
    But I am not forwarding a claim per se. I'm forwarding a hypothetical argument that someone might make. And for one to prove that it's self-evident that fetuses are human beings, they must show that the hypothetical argument is wrong for if it's even possible that it's right, then it's opposite conclusion is not self-evident.



    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    The proper route here would be to ask cstamford to clarify (or specify) his meaning.
    Not if he and I are on the same page about what "self-evident" means for the purpose of this debate. And I'm pretty sure we are in agreement on the word's meaning and if we are not, we will hash out the semantics if it ever becomes an issue for us.

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    But to hold to the analogy...
    It is not an analogy. It is an example of how scientists identify species as distinct from all other species. So again, you start off with a mischaracterization. All human beings satisfy all the essential scientific criteria for "Homo sapiens", as do human fetuses, as do Danaus plexippus larval, pupal, and adult stages for Danaus plexippus. It is therefore equally absurd to argue that becasuse a Homo sapien happens to be currently in a certain stage of development, it is therefore not a Homo sapien, as it would be to argue that because a Danaus plexippus is in its caterpillar stage of development, it is something other than a Danaus plexippus.

    No. I do not typically read your posts to other members. If you want to provide a link to the post in question, I will address it.
    Well, first off, if you are going to forward arguments in a thread, you have a responsibility to stay current on the state of the argumentation in the thread. So your ignorance of my arguments in this relatively short thread, do not obligate me to direct you to them.

    That said, I'll be happy to provide you with a link to a post of mine that caused considerable stir in this thread, but that completely satisfied the poster to whom it was written: http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/s...l=1#post536321

  4. #84
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333
    But I am not forwarding a claim per se. I'm forwarding a hypothetical argument that someone might make. And for one to prove that it's self-evident that fetuses are human beings, they must show that the hypothetical argument is wrong for if it's even possible that it's right, then it's opposite conclusion is not self-evident.
    A claim that P is an essential property of X is either necessarily true or necessarily false. This "even possibly true" standard just means "actually true". If the claims are true, then it can't be that fetuses are necessarily human beings.

    You're just raising a counter-claim which, if true, contradicts cstamford's claim. You aren't asserting that the claim is true; you aren't even asserting that it's possibly true. You're just saying, "Hey, cstamford, you have to deal with this counter-claim."

    Is that about right?

    Not if he and I are on the same page about what "self-evident" means for the purpose of this debate. And I'm pretty sure we are in agreement on the word's meaning and if we are not, we will hash out the semantics if it ever becomes an issue for us.
    But you are misunderstanding his use of "self-evident":

    It is also true that there are such things as self-evident propositions; propositions that once understood correctly, are simply seen to be true, that according to Descartes and Locke and a whole cadre of others, have a certain impact on the rational human mind such that their truth cannot be sensibly denied.

    Just because you don't instantly agree that a claim is "self-evident" doesn't mean it isn't self-evident.

    It seems to me that you're really just asking cstamford to substantiate his claim that "fetuses are human beings" is self-evident. Consider the following argument:

    1) Fetuses are human beings (premise)
    2) If P is an essential property of human beings, then every human being possesses P. (premise)
    3) Therefore, if P is an essential property of human beings, then Fetuses posses P. (from 1&2)
    4) Fetuses do not posses property Q. (premise)
    5) Therefore, Q is not an essential property of human beings. (from 3)

    This argument is valid. (2) is true by definition of "essential property", (4) is the given hypothesis (i.e., the Q you've proposed), and (1) is self-evident (according to cstamford).

    So unless you doubt (1), this argument is sound. This leads me to think that you're really just challenging cstamford to substantiate his claim that (1) is self-evident.


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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    A claim that P is an essential property of X is either necessarily true or necessarily false. This "even possibly true" standard just means "actually true". If the claims are true, then it can't be that fetuses are necessarily human beings.

    You're just raising a counter-claim which, if true, contradicts cstamford's claim. You aren't asserting that the claim is true; you aren't even asserting that it's possibly true. You're just saying, "Hey, cstamford, you have to deal with this counter-claim."

    Is that about right?
    I would say that I'm forwarding it as possibly true and something he has to deal with.



    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    But you are misunderstanding his use of "self-evident":
    If he and I have such a misunderstanding over the definition of a word that it becomes a problem with the debate, we will hash it out then.

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333
    I would say that I'm forwarding it as possibly true and something he has to deal with.
    How do you know that it's possible true, i.e. that it isn't necessarily false?

    If he and I have such a misunderstanding over the definition of a word that it becomes a problem with the debate, we will hash it out then.
    It has become a problem, because you've forwarded an invalid argument. Just because you didn't instantly agree that P is self-evident doesn't mean that P isn't self-evident.
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    "Suppose someone argues that the proposition "the human fetus is not a human being" is simply seen to be true, as are many self-evident propositions.

    How are we to judge whose argument is better?
    By the concept of defeat. If a naked assertion is made it carries a certain minimal positive epistemological status. It carries this status because in every epistemological theory of knowledge today that still recognizes human knowledge actually exists, the default is credulity, all else being equal, not skepticism. This default positive epistemological status awarded the expression of a belief in the truth value of a proposition is not shared by the naked denial of that claim, as can clearly be seen in the following, extremely simplistic, hypothetical dialogue:

    Claimant: You hit my care.

    Objector: I did not.

    The only sensible judgment that we can form, consistent with theories of knowledge today that actually accept its existence, is that the objector has not defeated the claimants claim, has not given the reasonable man anything by which to justify him believing the claim is false, is unworthy of his belief. This is true because it is true of human cognition that we mostly form true beliefs, and we mostly tell the truth. Only if the objector gives a reason for her objection does the objection gain any potential to defeat the claim.

    Here's another example of the point about defeat I'm trying to get across here:

    You and I go on a tour of a widget factory, and we do so as complete strangers, and with you blindfolded. While on the tour we pass into a room with a long conveyor belt on which, side by side, are a lot of widgets moving along under lamps above that bathe widgets and belt with an intense light. As I look at the widgets, they all appear red to me, and so I make the claim:

    A) All those widgets are red

    which you hear as an unfamiliar voice. But almost immediately after I've expressed this proposition, you hear another, unfamiliar voice say:

    B) I have no reason to believe those widgets are red

    The question then becomes, does the objection carry a greater positive epistemological status than the claim. If it does, then the objection defeats the claim. If it doesn't, then the claim remains undefeated. It is my considered view that a naked objection to a naked claim does not defeat the claim, and therefore should not be treated as if it did.

  8. #88
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford View Post
    By the concept of defeat. If a naked assertion is made it carries a certain minimal positive epistemological status. It carries this status because in every epistemological theory of knowledge today that still recognizes human knowledge actually exists, the default is credulity, all else being equal, not skepticism. This default positive epistemological status awarded the expression of a belief in the truth value of a proposition is not shared by the naked denial of that claim, as can clearly be seen in the following, extremely simplistic, hypothetical dialogue:

    Claimant: You hit my care.

    Objector: I did not.

    The only sensible judgment that we can form, consistent with theories of knowledge today that actually accept its existence, is that the objector has not defeated the claimants claim, has not given the reasonable man anything by which to justify him believing the claim is false, is unworthy of his belief. This is true because it is true of human cognition that we mostly form true beliefs, and we mostly tell the truth. Only if the objector gives a reason for her objection does the objection gain any potential to defeat the claim.
    I would agree that the Objector has not defeated the Claimant's claim. However, I would not therefore conclude that the Claimant's claim prevails. I have no more support for the Claimant's claim than for its negation; it is no more probably that the Claimant is making a true claim than that the Claimant is making a false claim.

    If my knowledge of the Claimant were conditioned--say, I knew Claimant to be reliable in the area of automobile collisions, or that the Claimant has video cameras set up all around his or her car, etc.--I might indeed have more support for the Claimant's claim than for its negation.

    But my default position is not, nor should any reasonable person's, to trust whatever claim is made first.

    Here's another example of the point about defeat I'm trying to get across here:

    You and I go on a tour of a widget factory, and we do so as complete strangers, and with you blindfolded. While on the tour we pass into a room with a long conveyor belt on which, side by side, are a lot of widgets moving along under lamps above that bathe widgets and belt with an intense light. As I look at the widgets, they all appear red to me, and so I make the claim:

    A) All those widgets are red

    which you hear as an unfamiliar voice. But almost immediately after I've expressed this proposition, you hear another, unfamiliar voice say:

    B) I have no reason to believe those widgets are red

    The question then becomes, does the objection carry a greater positive epistemological status than the claim. If it does, then the objection defeats the claim. If it doesn't, then the claim remains undefeated. It is my considered view that a naked objection to a naked claim does not defeat the claim, and therefore should not be treated as if it did.
    It is my considered view that I am under no epistemological or rational obligation to accept, believe, or affirm a naked claim.
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    How do you know that it's possible true, i.e. that it isn't necessarily false?
    I don't need to know it.

    I'm not sure I even need to support it. But I will anyway.

    Logical truism - until something is shown to be necessarily false, it must be considered possibly true for the purpose of the debate.

    And no one has shown that the argument I forwarded is necessarily false so it must be considered possibly true.

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    I don't need to know it.

    I'm not sure I even need to support it. But I will anyway.

    Logical truism - until something is shown to be necessarily false, it must be considered possibly true for the purpose of the debate.

    And no one has shown that the argument I forwarded is necessarily false so it must be considered possibly true.
    Okay, so the proposition, "Necessarily fetuses are human beings" must be considered possibly true. By axiom S5, Possibly Necessarily X implies Necessarily X, therefore necessarily, "fetuses are human beings" and thus cstamford's point stands.
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Okay, so the proposition, "Necessarily fetuses are human beings" must be considered possibly true. By axiom S5, Possibly Necessarily X implies Necessarily X, therefore necessarily, "fetuses are human beings" and thus cstamford's point stands.
    I don't see how you turned "possibly" into "necessarily".

    "A fetus is possibly a human being" is quite different than "A fetus is necessarily a human being"

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    I don't see how you turned "possibly" into "necessarily".

    "A fetus is possibly a human being" is quite different than "A fetus is necessarily a human being"
    We're considering the proposition P = "Necessarily, fetuses are human beings". Your Logical Truism says that we should consider P to be possibly true for the sake of debate, until it is shown that P is necessarily false.

    If P is possibly true, then "Possibly, P" holds. But "Possibly Necessarily fetuses are human beings" reduces (by axiom S5) to "Necessarily fetuses are human beings".

    We aren't converting from "Possibly, a fetus is a human being" to "Necessarily, a fetus is a human being." We're converting from "Possibly, (Necessarily, (a fetus is a human being))" to "Necessarily, a fetus is a human being."
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    We're considering the proposition P = "Necessarily, fetuses are human beings". Your Logical Truism says that we should consider P to be possibly true for the sake of debate, until it is shown that P is necessarily false.

    If P is possibly true, then "Possibly, P" holds. But "Possibly Necessarily fetuses are human beings" reduces (by axiom S5) to "Necessarily fetuses are human beings".

    We aren't converting from "Possibly, a fetus is a human being" to "Necessarily, a fetus is a human being." We're converting from "Possibly, (Necessarily, (a fetus is a human being))" to "Necessarily, a fetus is a human being."
    you will need to present that argument in layman's terms before I will accept it.

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    you will need to present that argument in layman's terms before I will accept it.
    Okay.

    The idea behind the S5 axiom is that the set of necessary truths doesn't vary from possible world to possible world. I.e., if p is true in every possible world, then "p is true in every possible world" is true in every possible world. So if there's even one possible world where "p is true in every possible world" holds, then "p is true in every possible world" holds in every possible world.

    The statement "Necessarily, all fetuses are human beings" is logically equivalent to, "P is true in every possible world", where P = "all fetuses are human beings".

    So if "P is true in every possible world" is possibly true, that means there's some possible world W where "P is true in every possible world" holds. By axiom S5, that means "P is true in every possible world" is true in every possible world.



    All of this is somewhat beside the point. Debating whether your "Logical Truism" is a good standard isn't all that important. What's important is that nobody has supported the claim that fetuses are necessarily human beings, or that possibly fetuses aren't human beings. The exception is cstamford's claim that "fetuses are necessarily human beings" is self-evidently true, which is the only support he's offered thus far. Unless someone can offer support for or against that claim, it seems we're at a deadlock.
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    I would agree that the Objector has not defeated the Claimant's claim. However, I would not therefore conclude that the Claimant's claim prevails. I have no more support for the Claimant's claim than for its negation; it is no more probably that the Claimant is making a true claim than that the Claimant is making a false claim.

    If my knowledge of the Claimant were conditioned--say, I knew Claimant to be reliable in the area of automobile collisions, or that the Claimant has video cameras set up all around his or her car, etc.--I might indeed have more support for the Claimant's claim than for its negation.
    But you do have more support for the Claimant's claim than for it's negation, as I pointed out, and will cover again below.

    Quote Originally Posted by CS
    But my default position is not, nor should any reasonable person's, to trust whatever claim is made first.
    To start, this is yet another egregious departure from the thread topic. That said, I must confess I'm at a point where I welcome any and all opportunities to discuss this very basic idea in epistemology, because I believe it is critically involved in the "Challenge rule, its specification and enforcement, and that this rule, as it stands at this writing, is hindering more than helping this board to succeed. So I'm going to forward this reply, to get it out of my system, so to speak, and on the public record (having already forwarded much of what I'm going to say here to a staff member in a PM, hoping to get this issue some serious consideration in that arena), and then let you have the final word without further input from me.

    This,what you've just articulated in your last sentence above, is what the evidentialist would and does claim; that no claim should be accepted without "evidence" of it's truth, where "evidence" is taken to be some "factual" proposition, where "factual" is taken to be what normal human beings can "observe" to be the case. However, evidentialism has its own problems as a theory of knowledge that other, better theories of knowledge lack. Take Plantinga's foundationalism, for example, (or any modern version of foundationalism) that he bases on an extremely well thought through concept of "proper function", the idea (to greatly oversimplify here) that because the design of our cognitive faculties is aimed at truth, and because all rational people desire to maximize their number of true beliefs, and to avoid having false beliefs, rational human beings will acquire and hold onto mostly true beliefs, and make true statements unless they have some overriding reason not to. In short, they have the built in means and motive for truth telling.

    Quote Originally Posted by CS
    It is my considered view that I am under no epistemological or rational obligation to accept, believe, or affirm a naked claim.
    I'm not saying you, personally, are. I'm saying that your considered view, to which you have every right, seems to me to be based on some version of evidentialism, and that there is no good reason to accept evidentialism as the governing epistemological theory of knowledge on this board without any actual comparison of evidentialism to modern foundationalism having been done to determine which is best. And since I've personally seen no such comparison ever done by the Staff or the founder of this board, I'm saying it would do this board some good to do that comparison now, because it is my considered, carefully considered opinion the board is not now governed by the best possible theory of knowledge. I could be wrong, of course, but I'd rather be proven wrong than assumed wrong.

    I'm also pointing out that even on basic evidentialism, one of the better modern theories of knowledge, even if not the best, a naked objection to a naked claim does not defeat the naked claim, and if I've understood your above correctly, you tend to agree that it does not. (In reaching this conclusion I'm relying heavily on your above "I would agree that the Objector has not defeated the Claimant's claim", and temporarily setting to one side most of the ensuing qualifications of that remark in the balance of your post.) As a rhetorical question, why, then, would it be wrong in a debate to allow an undefeated claim to be undefeated, or as you put it, "to stand? Defeat is defeat, and it either happens or it doesn't. It's not how it happens that should be our focus here. Defeat destroys or severely damages any positive epistemological status a proposition has, regardless of whether that proposition is stated with a book length evidential argument in its favor, or no support of any kind.

    We have to realize the starting point of the evidentialist, that it is a skepticism that ignores the twin facts that normal human beings:

    a) are cognitively designed to form mostly true beliefs in any environment conducive to their cognitive "design plan", and

    b) part of that "design plan" includes the fact that for humans telling the truth is not an actual decision they have to make, as is lying. I hardly ever "consider" before speaking whether or not to tell the truth, whereas I hardly ever lie without "considering" whether I should or not beforehand. Thus, for the vast majority of humanity it takes more cognitive energy, so to speak, to lie than it does to tell the truth. So unless there is a good reason to lie, normal humans don't do it.

    This ignoring of these facts about human cognition is the Achilles heel of Humean skepticism, which itself is an important pillar for all versions of modern evidentialism (not just strong evidentialism, such as that sanctioned by Clifford) as a theory of knowledge, and which therefore are their fatal flaws as well. This is just the very broad strokes of the issues involved, and there is a ton more to be said that I'm not going to say here that acts to securely ground what has been said.

    So it is my considered opinion it is time for a serious staff review of the basic epistemological theory used in writing and enforcing the rules by which debate is to be conducted. And it is my personally strong conviction that a successful review will render the "Challenge" rule more easily and consistently enforceable, and in a way that will reduce the amount of banal bickering over who goes first when it comes to "support". I say that because each of us knows we normally tell the truth, and that we normally form true beliefs, and that for most of us it is only natural to extend to others the tendencies we see in ourselves. It is therefore slightly "unnatural" for us to question a claim someone makes without having in mind a good reason to doubt it, and if we have that reason in mind, why on earth would we ever want a debating rule that allows debaters to hide from their opponents that reason? And why would anyone want to hide their good reason for doubting an unsupported claim?

    If the basic idea behind this board is to provide a way to get at the truth, then not giving one's reason for doubting a claim when that doubt is expressed runs counter to the basic idea behind this board, and interpreting the Challenge rule in such a way that it protects this sort of "hiding" is likewise contrary to the basic idea. I would like to see that conceptual contradiction removed from this board, and posts like this are my only means of doing what I can to make that happen.

    End of rant.

    ---------- Post added at 03:02 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:42 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples to Mican
    Okay.

    The idea behind the S5 axiom is that the set of necessary truths doesn't vary from possible world to possible world. I.e., if p is true in every possible world, then "p is true in every possible world" is true in every possible world. So if there's even one possible world where "p is true in every possible world" holds, then "p is true in every possible world" holds in every possible world.

    The statement "Necessarily, all fetuses are human beings" is logically equivalent to, "P is true in every possible world", where P = "all fetuses are human beings".

    So if "P is true in every possible world" is possibly true, that means there's some possible world W where "P is true in every possible world" holds. By axiom S5, that means "P is true in every possible world" is true in every possible world.



    All of this is somewhat beside the point. Debating whether your "Logical Truism" is a good standard isn't all that important. What's important is that nobody has supported the claim that fetuses are necessarily human beings, or that possibly fetuses aren't human beings. The exception is cstamford's claim that "fetuses are necessarily human beings" is self-evidently true, which is the only support he's offered thus far. Unless someone can offer support for or against that claim, it seems we're at a deadlock.
    Actually, we're not deadlocked, and not just because you're working on some version of basic evidentialism here and I'm working on a modern version of foundationalism. I've offered a source in support, here, and eye4magic has offered one here. Therefore it is a mischaracterization to suggest no support has been offered for my position, even from an evidentialist pov.

  17. #96
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford View Post
    To start, this is yet another egregious departure from the thread topic.
    I agree, contributions to the thread should be focused on offering arguments for or against the proposition that "the human fetus is a human being". Weighing the value of a particular contribution--say, someone who merely states a claim without offering support for it--can be done by the people reading the thread, and shouldn't be taking up the majority of the thread. Unless, however, the thread is in a "concluding" phase, where the contributors take stock of the arguments on each side of the stated problem.

    That said, I must confess I'm at a point where I welcome any and all opportunities to discuss this very basic idea in epistemology, because I believe it is critically involved in the "Challenge rule, its specification and enforcement, and that this rule, as it stands at this writing, is hindering more than helping this board to succeed. So I'm going to forward this reply, to get it out of my system, so to speak, and on the public record (having already forwarded much of what I'm going to say here to a staff member in a PM, hoping to get this issue some serious consideration in that arena), and then let you have the final word without further input from me.

    This,what you've just articulated in your last sentence above, is what the evidentialist would and does claim; that no claim should be accepted without "evidence" of it's truth, where "evidence" is taken to be some "factual" proposition, where "factual" is taken to be what normal human beings can "observe" to be the case. However, evidentialism has its own problems as a theory of knowledge that other, better theories of knowledge lack. Take Plantinga's foundationalism, for example, (or any modern version of foundationalism) that he bases on an extremely well thought through concept of "proper function", the idea (to greatly oversimplify here) that because the design of our cognitive faculties is aimed at truth, and because all rational people desire to maximize their number of true beliefs, and to avoid having false beliefs, rational human beings will acquire and hold onto mostly true beliefs, and make true statements unless they have some overriding reason not to. In short, they have the built in means and motive for truth telling.
    Sure, I'm familiar with Plantinga's work in epistemology.

    I'm not saying you, personally, are. I'm saying that your considered view, to which you have every right, seems to me to be based on some version of evidentialism, and that there is no good reason to accept evidentialism as the governing epistemological theory of knowledge on this board without any actual comparison of evidentialism to modern foundationalism having been done to determine which is best. And since I've personally seen no such comparison ever done by the Staff or the founder of this board, I'm saying it would do this board some good to do that comparison now, because it is my considered, carefully considered opinion the board is not now governed by the best possible theory of knowledge. I could be wrong, of course, but I'd rather be proven wrong than assumed wrong.

    I'm also pointing out that even on basic evidentialism, one of the better modern theories of knowledge, even if not the best, a naked objection to a naked claim does not defeat the naked claim, and if I've understood your above correctly, you tend to agree that it does not. (In reaching this conclusion I'm relying heavily on your above "I would agree that the Objector has not defeated the Claimant's claim", and temporarily setting to one side most of the ensuing qualifications of that remark in the balance of your post.) As a rhetorical question, why, then, would it be wrong in a debate to allow an undefeated claim to be undefeated, or as you put it, "to stand? Defeat is defeat, and it either happens or it doesn't. It's not how it happens that should be our focus here. Defeat destroys or severely damages any positive epistemological status a proposition has, regardless of whether that proposition is stated with a book length evidential argument in its favor, or no support of any kind.

    We have to realize the starting point of the evidentialist, that it is a skepticism that ignores the twin facts that normal human beings:

    a) are cognitively designed to form mostly true beliefs in any environment conducive to their cognitive "design plan", and

    b) part of that "design plan" includes the fact that for humans telling the truth is not an actual decision they have to make, as is lying. I hardly ever "consider" before speaking whether or not to tell the truth, whereas I hardly ever lie without "considering" whether I should or not beforehand. Thus, for the vast majority of humanity it takes more cognitive energy, so to speak, to lie than it does to tell the truth. So unless there is a good reason to lie, normal humans don't do it.

    This ignoring of these facts about human cognition is the Achilles heel of Humean skepticism, which itself is an important pillar for all versions of modern evidentialism (not just strong evidentialism, such as that sanctioned by Clifford) as a theory of knowledge, and which therefore are their fatal flaws as well. This is just the very broad strokes of the issues involved, and there is a ton more to be said that I'm not going to say here that acts to securely ground what has been said.

    So it is my considered opinion it is time for a serious staff review of the basic epistemological theory used in writing and enforcing the rules by which debate is to be conducted. And it is my personally strong conviction that a successful review will render the "Challenge" rule more easily and consistently enforceable, and in a way that will reduce the amount of banal bickering over who goes first when it comes to "support". I say that because each of us knows we normally tell the truth, and that we normally form true beliefs, and that for most of us it is only natural to extend to others the tendencies we see in ourselves. It is therefore slightly "unnatural" for us to question a claim someone makes without having in mind a good reason to doubt it, and if we have that reason in mind, why on earth would we ever want a debating rule that allows debaters to hide from their opponents that reason? And why would anyone want to hide their good reason for doubting an unsupported claim?

    If the basic idea behind this board is to provide a way to get at the truth, then not giving one's reason for doubting a claim when that doubt is expressed runs counter to the basic idea behind this board, and interpreting the Challenge rule in such a way that it protects this sort of "hiding" is likewise contrary to the basic idea. I would like to see that conceptual contradiction removed from this board, and posts like this are my only means of doing what I can to make that happen.

    End of rant.
    ODN is a place to debate. The tagline is "The Forge of Reason". There is a certain scientific character to ODN: It isn't enough to just offer a claim that's true, you have to give an argument or demonstration of the truth of the claim. At ODN, you are arguing to skeptics. Nobody on ODN has an obligation to rely on your character in evaluating your argument. Nobody on ODN has an obligation to think that you're particularly clever, or that your claims are more likely true than false. Nobody at ODN has an obligation to think that your claims are sincere, that you personally believe or agree with the position you are currently arguing for.

    ODN is about analyzing the strength of your argument--its structure, its form, and its content. Most of the currently-active members on ODN seem to have forgotten this, and are content to rely on poorly-presented, ambiguous, implicit, "intuitive" arguments. The Apok of old would have come down on these arguments like a hammer.


    It may very well be that Plantinga's account of warrant is a 'good' account, and that you, cstamford, will--appropriately and without violating any kind of cognitive obligation or engaging in intellectual dishonesty--believe certain propositions in a properly basic way, such that your belief is not conditioned on the evidence for that proposition.

    However, when presenting arguments to persuade or convince other people, or to demonstrate the truth of a proposition, it isn't appropriate to cite the "properly basic" character that the belief in question has in your noetic structure. How should that be convincing to me? If I inspect your belief, it may be that I too find myself sharing the belief, and that my belief is similarly properly basic. But I may not.

    As an example, Plantinga believes that "God exists" (or more specifically, "God made this beautiful scenery", or "God's talking to me") is a properly basic belief. Plantinga does not argue that this constitutes an argument that should persuade atheists to become theists, or that atheism is defeated by the observation that "God exists" is a properly basic belief in Plantinga's noetic structure.

    EDIT: You could think of ODN as employing methodological evidentialism.




    ---------- Post added at 04:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:03 PM ----------


    Actually, we're not deadlocked, and not just because you're working on some version of basic evidentialism here and I'm working on a modern version of foundationalism. I've offered a source in support, here, and eye4magic has offered onehere. Therefore it is a mischaracterization to suggest no support has been offered for my position, even from an evidentialist pov.
    That's true, there has been support for the "fetuses are human beings" position.

    In my view, the support is weaker than I'd like. Quoting scientists saying, "Fetuses are human beings" is support, but relies on the expertise of the person making the statement. The support that I would personally find ideal would be to establish a consensus about the criteria for inclusion among human beings, e.g. the scientific standards being applied by the experts being quoted. It seems that those criteria are at the crux of mican's disagreement, which is why mican has proposed a criterion that (he thinks) would exclude fetuses from human beings. Establishing a consensus on criteria would put an end to that disagreement, I think.
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    That's true, there has been support for the "fetuses are human beings" position.

    In my view, the support is weaker than I'd like. Quoting scientists saying, "Fetuses are human beings" is support, but relies on the expertise of the person making the statement.
    The personal expertise of my source, while apparently considerable in her field, was not what she used to ground her conclusion, so the proposition that the reliability of my source is linked to its author's "expertise" is not even on the table here. Only her personal integrity is..

    Quote Originally Posted by CS
    The support that I would personally find ideal would be to establish a consensus about the criteria for inclusion among human beings, e.g. the scientific standards being applied by the experts being quoted.
    I can't find a way to reconcile this statement with you're having actually read my Post 47, which included.

    "...the scientific facts presented...are direct quotes and references from some of the most highly respected human embryology textbooks, and represent a consensus of human embryologists internationally."

    Isn't that an allusion to exactly the "consensus" you're saying you'd rather have seen in my source? Or are you saying that without actually listing every property logically entailed by the property "being a human being", we can't have the "ideal" criteria for that property being manifested by any object? I'm confused by what you've just said. I don't see how it bears on anything that's actually gone before in this debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by CS
    It seems that those criteria are at the crux of mican's disagreement, which is why mican has proposed a criterion that (he thinks) would exclude fetuses from human beings.
    What is at the crux of Mican's disagreement is not his knowledge of a property logically entailed by the property "being a human being" that a fetus lacks, but rather his inability to grasp the distinction between an essential and a contingent property, made worse by his confusion over the distinction between presently having a property and presently manifesting it. This confusion on his part is clearly not based on any lack of an exhaustive listing of essential human properties. So even if I could offer Mican an exhaustive list of essential human properties (and not being omniscient, how could I possibly be expected to do that?), I believe it is naive to assume doing so would put an end to his contention a human fetus is not a human being.

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford
    The personal expertise of my source, while apparently considerable in her field, was not what she used to ground her conclusion, so the proposition that the reliability of my source is linked to its author's "expertise" is not even on the table here. Only her personal integrity is.
    Your source was quoting statements which are " are direct quotes and references from some of the most highly respected human embryology textbooks", so the "person making the statement" are the textbooks authors, whose expertise is indeed being relied upon.

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford
    Isn't that an allusion to exactly the "consensus" you're saying you'd rather have seen in my source? Or are you saying that without actually listing every property logically entailed by the property "being a human being", we can't have the "ideal" criteria for that property being manifested by any object? I'm confused by what you've just said. I don't see how it bears on anything that's actually gone before in this debate.
    I should have been more precise. What I meant was that I wanted the criteria to be established.

    You wouldn't necessarily have to list every possible criteria for being a human being, just some subset of them that are sufficient to settle the question at hand: whether fetuses are human beings.
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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    Your source was quoting statements which are " are direct quotes and references from some of the most highly respected human embryology textbooks", so the "person making the statement" are the textbooks authors, whose expertise is indeed being relied upon.
    What isn't "ideal", given the limitations of this venue, about a source that quotes from and references "the most highly respected human embryology textbooks", plus reports the view of an international "consensus of human embryologists"? Are you indirectly suggesting that the expertise represented by an international consensus of scientists specializing in the human fetus and the most highly respected human embryology textbooks is not "ideal" expertise on which to rely? And if you are, why do you think such expertise is not "ideal" for support? What sort of expertise would be better?

    Quote Originally Posted by CS
    I should have been more precise. What I meant was that I wanted the criteria to be established.

    You wouldn't necessarily have to list every possible criteria for being a human being, just some subset of them that are sufficient to settle the question at hand: whether fetuses are human beings.
    This is interesting. Tell me, then, what would be the minimal number of criterion in this proposed subset of criteria so that the proposed subset would then be "sufficient to settle the question at hand"? And why did you pick that number?

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    Re: Is the human fetus an human being?

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford View Post
    What isn't "ideal", given the limitations of this venue, about a source that quotes from and references "the most highly respected human embryology textbooks", plus reports the view of an international "consensus of human embryologists"?
    Here's a relevant quote, from your post here:

    To begin with, scientifically something very dramatic occurs between the processes of gametogenesis and fertilization - the change from two simple PARTS of a human being, i.e., a sperm and an oocyte (usually referred to as an "ovum" or "egg"), which simply possess "human life" into a new, genetically unique, newly existing, individual, live human BEING, an embryonic single-cell human zygote. That is, parts of a human being have actually been transformed into something very different from what they were before; they have been changed into a single, whole human being. During this process, the sperm and the oocyte cease to exist, and a new human being is produced.

    Emphasis mine.

    My question is, what are the properties which the zygote by virtue of possessing is recognized by the author of this passage as being a human zygote?

    It is helpful to hear an expert's opinion on whether the zygote is human, and whether the zygote is a human being (if there is even a difference).

    What isn't ideal is that these quotes don't tell me which human-making (or human being-making) properties the zygote has. Although I may agree that a zygote is a human being in light of the strength of expert testimony, I don't have any clearer idea why a zygote is a human being just from an expert affirming the propostion "these zygotes is a human being". It doesn't amount to an explanation, even if it does amount to support of the claim that fetuses are human beings.

    Are you indirectly suggesting that the expertise represented by an international consensus of scientists specializing in the human fetus and the most highly respected human embryology textbooks is not "ideal" expertise on which to rely?
    I don't take any hard position on this issue.

    I imagine it would turn on how one weighs the importance of the scientific criteria that the scientists are applying; one might reject the premise that the question is scientific in nature, if the definition of "human" is taken to be something other than scientific--metaphysical, or at any rate philosophical, etc.

    I tend to think the question is scientific in nature, so I tend to think that science has the answer, so I'd tend to rely on expert opinion (or alternatively would develop and rely on my own expertise in the area).

    This is interesting. Tell me, then, what would be the minimal number of criterion in this proposed subset of criteria so that the proposed subset would then be "sufficient to settle the question at hand"? And why did you pick that number?
    I don't know. Perhaps it's as small as one; perhaps it is in the thousands, requiring complex schemata of biological propositions relating to what amounts to being a human being (what a cell is, what genes are, etc.)

    I
    haven't claimed that fetuses possess all the essential properties of human beings; I don't even know what "all the essential properties of human beings" even are. These are questions that you should know the answer to, as they are quite central to your argument.
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