In my first philosophy class, I remember putting forth an argument for why abortion cannot be defended on the “potentiality principle,” that is, that the human fetus has the potential to be a human being, and thus must be saved.
Someone on /. recently replied to an article about stem cell research, with some nice observations about the abusers of this principle:
Now, someone might argue that a process is started at conception which would end up with a functioning human. The potential is critical. There are a few problems with that position:
- When a fertile woman smiles back at me, there is a potential for a new human.
- The use of condoms stops the potential for a new human being.
- Soon, all our cells will be potential humans with a little “twist”…
- Half of all conceptions ends soon with a spontaneous abortion. That means, according to the bible belt, that half of all people dies at an age of a few days. To be consistent, the believers should argue that half of all medical research should try to stop this mass death!
The retort often flung back is that a fetus doesn’t merely have potential to be a human being, but it is a human being. This, however, is interesting when taking this poster’s last point about “spontaneous abortions.” If you’re willing to save a fetus from a willing abortion, shouldn’t you also see spontaneous abortions (and miscarriages, for example) as equally tragic, and thus deserving of serious medical research?
Ah, the arguments against early-term abortions really amaze me. How can you be so philosophically inconsistent?