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Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology Forum - Perennial Ideas and Debates that cross societal/time boundaries


View Poll Results: When does life begin?
At conception (or slightly before). 16 47.06%
At birth, basically. 7 20.59%
Somewhere in between. 11 32.35%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #11

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If life began at conception or in between, there would be no need for the term 'fetus'; we'd just use baby the whole time.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:16 PM   #12

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Quote:
Originally Posted by monsieurdl View Post
If life began at conception or in between, there would be no need for the term 'fetus'; we'd just use baby the whole time.
But some people do use that term (baby) from the very beginning. Is their view less valid because they aren't scientists or medical professionals?
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:19 PM   #13

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Originally Posted by Sicknero View Post
If we're talking about what science defines as life, then maybe not. (I'm not familiar with the scientific definition though so will have to do a bit of homework.) Personally I'd say it is a living thing ... it was born, it has cycles, it responds to influences, it ages and will die. A single cell is also a living thing I think.
It's all about definitions wouldn't you agree? Are we debating the age at which a foetus becomes a human being and entitled to the same theoretical rights as the rest of us?
Are Viruses Alive?
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:20 PM   #14

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But some people do use that term (baby) from the very beginning. Is their view less valid because they aren't scientists or medical professionals?
I would say that people who make stuff up for emotional reasons contrasted to the critical study and analysis of facts are less qualified to make assertions regarding "what is true".
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:32 PM   #15

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Thanks Rasta, a fascinating page and the site looks good too. A quick read seems to suggest that there isn't any agreement on whether viruses qualify as 'life' or not - one of the links on the site leads to a discussion of how in fact they challenge scientific definition.
Another paragraph begins with the assertion that "There is no precise definition of what separates the living from the non-living." and suggests one criteria as being the capacity for self-awareness.

This seems to me personally like a bit of a 'species-centric' criteria, but it does bring us back to how we define human life and more pertinently, human life worth protecting and preserving.

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Originally Posted by Rasta View Post
I would say that people who make stuff up for emotional reasons contrasted to the critical study and analysis of facts are less qualified to make assertions regarding "what is true".
I'd have to reply to that by pointing out that 'foetus' is hardly a critical study and analysis of the facts, rather that it's a medical construct that's of use in fields where such definitions have relevance, i.e. medicine and law. If this thread is about the age at which a foetus can be 'ethically' terminated (I've no idea if it is or not, that's just the feeling I get), then I'd add that I am not anti-abortion, I just think that such arbitrary divisions of life/not life and self-aware/not self-aware are generally just bandied about to make people feel better about things.

Last edited by Sicknero; November 15th, 2012 at 01:38 PM.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:39 PM   #16

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Ah, I get your slant. You mean that we should define life in such a way that makes abortion wrong?
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:44 PM   #17

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No, that's about as far from my meaning as you can get :-)

I mean that trying to draw a line somewhere in the life span of a human being (or anything else for that matter) to say that here is life but here isn't, seems a bit pointless and self-serving in many ways. We should just be honest with ourselves and accept/admit that our own needs and wishes sometimes mean taking the lives of others.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:45 PM   #18

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@OP Yes, indeed. Spermatozoons are living cells, so even before that, lol
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:49 PM   #19

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Quote:
Originally Posted by monsieurdl View Post
If life began at conception or in between, there would be no need for the term 'fetus'; we'd just use baby the whole time.
It should be pretty obvious that the same sort of logic would also eliminate the need for separate terms for baby, child, and adult.

Science says that "life" is essentially eternal, emerging from other live things in an unbroken chain that extends back a billion years.

An unique individual life begins essentially at conception, when the mixing of the parents' genetic material occurs. Our law follows our science in most respects: this unique genetic material can identify a person for purposes of acquittal or conviction at trial. Convicted criminals are being released after years in jail because the material doesn't match.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:49 PM   #20

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@OP Yes, indeed. Spermatozoons are living cells, so even before that, lol
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