Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

What do you think of pro-life supporters who use pictures of aborted embryos to make a point?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5479points) March 11th, 2017

I’m pro-choice myself and I was debating with a pro-life person in Twitter who decided to share one of these crude images as a means of “debating”.

To me it illustrates that they want to exploit the unfortunate situation and difficult choice many women have to make, rather than understanding it. What are your views on this?

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64 Answers

Sneki95's avatar

Cheap move. Below the belt.
Debate with words, wits and good arguments, not shock images.
It shows their intentions were not to convince or prove their statement, but to simply shock and nauseate the supposed opponent. That is not how you prove your point.
Not to mention the dignity of a dead person/body/being. Whatever your stances are on the subject of abortion, that thing was someone’s child, or at the very best, it was a living being. Have some respect.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s a petty gimmick

jca's avatar

Expoitative.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Let’s be clear on a couple things.

They are not pro life. They are anti abortion and they are anti-choice. Words are important. Using the term ‘pro life’ is buying into that propaganda.

Second, use of those pictures is in poor taste, and in my opinion it does their movement more harm than good.

It reminds me of the ‘scared straight’ movement about 20 years ago that was supposed to convince kids not to get into gangs and drugs because of the horrors of prison. Except it wasn’t effective education. It got a lot of publicity, but was ineffective.

I think this “show dead babies” strategy is like masturbation for the anti-choice people. It makes them feel good, like they are doing something, but there’s not much there afterwards.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It’s slightly worse than having a 3 year old girl hold up a “don’t kill me” sign….

They’ll stoop to any level.

I guess that means that I have a low opinion of these types of people.

kritiper's avatar

Terrorists, plain and simple. People die everyday, some in nice confines, others, not so much. What ya gonna do?? Shit happens. C’est la vie!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

To be honest I find some of the protesting from the other side to be just as low and equally repugnant.
Last time the anti-abortion activists pulled this in my town it was out on the square where people were trying to eat. Fuckers.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I think it’s an admission of defeat. They don’t have an argument, so they try to gross you out. But assuming they aren’t all vegetarians, I wonder if they’ve ever watched a cow being processed into hamburgers and steaks. Or if they’ve ever seen a video of heart surgery, liposuction, or anything else involving blood and guts. Life isn’t always pretty, but ugliness isn’t immoral. Birth itself is one of the messiest events most people will ever go through. Ironically, the only way to completely avoid the unpleasant aspects of life is to never be born in the first place.

LostInParadise's avatar

Who takes these pictures and for what purpose? How about pictures of little aborted embryo specks, which account for most abortions? Are there pictures of women dying during childbirth because they chose not to have an abortion? How about pictures of infanticide performed by parents who can’t provide for their children? They do not get mentioned much, but they are more common than you might suppose.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Fantastic answers everyone, glad I’m not the only one who sees it this way.

ragingloli's avatar

All you need to do is respond with a picture of Hitler, whom, as you would caption the image with, his mother failed to abort.
Or even better, a picture of a fetus with a Hitler moustache, with the caption “Save 11 million lives. Have an abortion.”

Coloma's avatar

The same way I feel about graphic animal rights/abuse images. I think everyone can imagine what an aborted embryo/fetus or a cat that has been burned with a blow torch looks like.
I am pro-chice and not wanting to see these types of images has nothing to do with any sort of residual guilt over being pro-choice, just not necessary and intended as a guilt trip and manipulation tactic.

Dixon's avatar

I agree with everyone else. I feel the same when I see pictures of abused animals and children. Graphic images are not needed to prove your point.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I agree and I think @elbanditoroso answer was spot on.

Zissou's avatar

Quite an echo chamber we have here.

Why do those pictures bother you? It’s not a person, right? It’s just a mass of tissue, right? It shouldn’t upset you any more than looking a photo of an organ or tumor or tapeworm that has been removed from someone’s body, if you really believe what you claim to believe about the fetus. If it bothers you, then maybe you should give the matter more thought.

The use of these photos is an appeal to emotion, of course. But if you can’t handle the emotions it raises within you, then maybe you should re-examine your position or bow out of the debate altogether.

Edit: conceivably, those on the pro-choice side could use this tactic too. They could show a photo of a blastocyst in the context of debates about stem cell research or morning-after pills.

DominicY's avatar

I think @SavoirFaire already partially addressed that, @Zissou. I almost fainted once trying to watch a video of a heart surgery. But that doesn’t mean that I think heart surgery is immoral. I just don’t want to see it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Zissou “Quite an echo chamber we have here.”

Ah, yes. The meaningless buzzword people use when their opinion is unpopular but they don’t have a counterargument.

“Why do those pictures bother you?”

As @DominicY has pointed out, I already addressed this. But let’s take it further. Why do people get upset when fictional characters die? They aren’t real. Or to go in a different direction, why do people dislike the smell of halitosis? It’s just a mass of atoms, right? In fact, it’s just air. Plenty of things bother us for reasons that are tangential to the thing itself. They latch onto some visceral subsystem and deliver results that do not ultimately hold up when scrutinized by intellect. These reactions may lead us to investigate further, but they are not themselves reasons for thinking that what caused them is bad.

“But if you can’t handle the emotions it raises within you, then maybe you should re-examine your position or bow out of the debate altogether.”

Who said we can’t handle them? There’s a difference between finding something distasteful and finding it so bothersome that you can’t go on. Just because people do not like being ambushed with these photos does not mean that they cannot bring themselves to look at or consider them. Assuming otherwise is just another empty move in the overall debate.

Aster's avatar

They are trying to raise awareness that a living, breathing being has been sucked out of it’s mother’s body, often for convenience’s sake and was not given a choice in the matter. I don’t believe they enjoy making or holding the pictures. I think they simply feel they’re doing the right and moral thing. On the other hand, sticking a picture like that in front of someone getting ready to eat lunch is inappropriate. After lunch, fine.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Aster – do these people who make the pictures feel that it effective? Do they feel that this method changes any minds? Do they feel that someone who sees this picture will be motivated to change their thinking?

My guess is that the average person will look at these pictures, see who created the advertisement, and have negative feelings towards the anti-choice people because of that.

Aster's avatar

I think the people making the pictures hope they’ll make a difference. I cannot imagine why any human being would dislike them for it or dislike them in particular.

DominicY's avatar

@Aster How do you feel about animal rights protesters who display pictures of abused and bloodied animals to make their point against eating meat?

Aster's avatar

Eating meat is nothing to compare with killing the unborn. And I think that action would be ineffective. Most people eat meat and most vegetarians go back to eating it. I don’t think a pig or cow is as meaningful as a human being and it’s vitamins serve a purpose and have kept humans alive for thousands of years. You just can’t compare the two.
Now, some will say a pig or turtle is just as important and sacred as a baby but I disagree.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The graphic images they show are not even indicative of an abortion. They’re more like 8 month old fetuses. I had a girlfriend who marched and marched. She carried one of those signs along with many others in the marching. I asked her how she could even look at it day after day. She just shrugged her shoulders and said, “That’s what it is like.”

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I actually would not call “echo chamber” a meaningless buzzword, buzzword yes but not exactly meaningless. Most of the folks with different opinions here have been run off. Despite what some would say this is not a diverse group with regard to opinion. While I’m with flutherites on most issues there are a few I’m quite against the grain with. It’s almost run me off a time or two. Fluther has sort of become a social click and dare I say a bit of reverberation in a closed building.

Aster's avatar

@Dutchess_III I would have said, “I try not to look at the signs, they break my heart. But it’s worth it to me to let people know what goes on in abortion clinics.” Then I’d say, “did you know the “doctors” break their necks on their way out just to make money? Let’s not talk about it, ok?”

DominicY's avatar

@Aster My point isn’t to compare the eating of meat with abortions, my point is to compare the use of shock imagery to make a point. It’s hypocritical to say “people need to know the reality of abortion” but act as if pictures of tortured animals are “wrong” (and vice versa—animal rights activists who use shock images shouldn’t be criticizing anti-abortion activists who do the same). Both are using the same methodology, regardless of which issue is more important to an individual.

I also do think there is some responsibility on the part of a person who supports or opposes something to know what it is they support or oppose. The issue is assuming that pro-abortion people do not know, and that graphic images such as the ones anti-abortion activists use are a fair sample of abortion or accurately reflect what occurs in most instances.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Aster…you seem to think we’re talking about a fully developed fetus. Not an embryo that’s only a few weeks old. WHY would they break their necks and HOW would they make money from it? I think we should talk about it because that makes no sense. It isn’t true. Why would you want to continue to believe something so gruesome that isn’t even true?

When I had an abortion at 4 weeks, This is what the embryo looked like. The protestors don’t post realistic pictures.

Aster's avatar

I’m thinking of any form or age of human life that is killed by an unethical doctor who I assume gets paid unless he does it for a hobby. Like stamp collecting.
Ok; off to the shower and then for some reading.

Zissou's avatar

@SavoirFaire Buzzword? Maybe. Meaningless? Clearly not, because you knew exactly what I meant by it. If the shoe fits, wear it.

As it seems it does, judging from your response. Not your A-game, which betokens a complacency on your part. Fictional characters? Not relevant. Halitosis? Plainly false; it’s not “just air”, and our aversion to it is adaptive. “Distasteful”? That begs the question.

Our emotional reactions to a gory operation on non-sentient tissue and our emotional reactions to a gory operation that involves the horrible suffering and death of a sentient being are obviously different, and the difference matters. There are times when an appeal to emotion is justified. You mentioned the horrors of meat production. I eat meat, but have no problem with animal rights activists who want me know what goes on in factory farms. My exposure to that information has in fact altered my behavior. I eat less meat than I used to and I try to eat more wild-caught fish, free-range chicken, and other meat that doesn’t come from factory farms. (Edit: Am I wrong about meat? Should I ignore my emotional reaction to the cruelty of factory farms? Is it irrational to pay more for non-factory meat?)

Thought experiment: for each of the following graphic images or videos, would exposure to the material make people more likely or less likely to come to the correct conclusion about the morality of the practice that resulted in that material?

1. Photo of that naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack
2. Photos of concentration camp victims
3. Those recent movies about factory farming
4. A video of a monkey being vivisected for research

I don’t know anyone who thinks female genital mutilation is ok, but if I did, I don’t think it would be unfair or fallacious to challenge such a person to watch a video of it being done or at least listen to testimony from someone who had underwent the procedure.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That didn’t answer the question @Aster. You said the doctors break the fetuses neck because they get paid extra to do so. Where did you get that idea?

Coloma's avatar

I do watch animal rescue videos, the before & afters. I find these quite heartwarming. I am especially fond of cats and horses. Seeing a starved horse that has to be held up in a sling with matted fur, hundreds of pounds underweight, skin and bones and then, a year later the magnificent, filled out, shiny coated, full of piss & vinegar stories end, now that’s good stuff!
She who is off to feed the healthy, happy and spoiled horses here right now.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Aster “They are trying to raise awareness that a living, breathing being has been sucked out of it’s mother’s body, often for convenience’s sake and was not given a choice in the matter.”

As has already been noted, the pictures do not actually represent most aborted fetuses. The vast majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy (66% within the first eight weeks, 92% within the first 13 weeks, 99% within the first 20 weeks). Lungs aren’t developed until the 36th week. So in 99% of cases, it is not even possibly a “living, breathing being.” And for the remaining 1% of abortions, most are performed on wanted pregnancies that have gone terribly wrong. It is not for the sake of convenience and is often devastating to the would-be family.

I have left aside the “living” part of your formulation because it is rather fraught. There are living cells there, but no one thinks that cells are themselves morally valuable. The question of whether the fetus is alive is thought by moral and political philosophers to be a red herring. The issue isn’t life, it’s personhood.


@ARE_you_kidding_me “I actually would not call ‘echo chamber’ a meaningless buzzword”

Then you would be wrong, at least in the context I made the statement. See my response to @Zissou below.

“Most of the folks with different opinions here have been run off.”

This is not actually true. Very few people have been run off of Fluther, and the two most prominent people I can think of had views that fit the mainstream of the site. A number of people who were known for having different opinions have been banned, however, and several of them have lied on Facebook and elsewhere saying they were run off rather than admitting to what got them banned (since they know that we generally do not make public announcements on such matters). Some of the people who have been held up as heroes that were run off are actually deeply disturbed.

“Despite what some would say this is not a diverse group with regard to opinion.”

No argument here. But it takes more than a lack of diversity to make an echo chamber.

“Fluther has sort of become a social click and dare I say a bit of reverberation in a closed building.”

Fluther has always been cliquish. That’s what happens when the original members are all friends and family of the founders and the majority of users are attracted by word of mouth. But again, cliquishness is insufficient for an echo chamber.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Zissou ” Buzzword? Maybe. Meaningless? Clearly not, because you knew exactly what I meant by it.”

Another poor rhetorical move, I see. “Meaningless” does not necessarily mean “lacking semantic value.” It can also mean “lacking significance.” That I understood the semantic value of the term, then, does not entail that using it provides any significant contribution to the discourse. Not only should it be clear that I was using “meaningless” in this second way, the principle of charity demands that you assume as much.

“Not your A-game, which betokens a complacency on your part.”

I’ve been having this discussion for nearly 20 years. I’ve taught multiple courses on it. This isn’t complacency. This is boredom with the fact that the opposition hasn’t come with anything new in two decades. You’ve also largely misunderstood my response, so I’m not prepared to accept your judgment of it.

“Fictional characters? Not relevant.”

You made them relevant by focusing your argument on a juxtaposition between certain individuals’ somatic reactions and their intellectual judgments (tacitly insinuating that the putative inconsistency was indicative of something). I responded by pointing to other cases where there is a similar juxtaposition without there being any hint of a problem.

As it turns out, you also gave an example of your own that undermines your position (though I left it alone since @DominicY had already alluded to it). You said: “It shouldn’t upset you any more than looking [at] a photo of an organ or tumor or tapeworm that has been removed from someone’s body, if you really believe what you claim to believe about the fetus.” But as I had already pointed out, plenty of people are upset by such things.

The problem with your argument is the mistaken assumption that there should always be a 1:1 correlation between our somatic reactions and our intellectual judgments (and that when there is not, it is indicative of some sort of problem). This is simply false. Emotions and reason both need to be tempered by the other. Bringing them completely in line with one another might be possible—and if it is possible, perhaps it would be worthwhile—but it is not necessary for having a stable or defensible moral view.

“Halitosis? Plainly false; it’s not “just air”, and our aversion to it is adaptive.”

I picked halitosis precisely because it is not itself harmful in any way. It is simply breath that some other person does not like the smell of. While it very occasionally accompanies a serious medical condition, the vast majority of cases are purely aesthetic (making it an unreliable signal and thus a poor example of adaptation). At best, one could argue that it is an outgrowth of something else that is adaptive. But of course, that was precisely my point. Adaptive tendencies are heuristic. Even when they do a good job of tracking, they can still produce false positives. Therefore, their results are not to be given authority. They are invitations to further inquiry, not final judgments.

”‘Distasteful’? That begs the question.”

Misquoting me will get you nowhere. I very specifically and purposefully said ”finding something distasteful” and used the phrase as a description of one type of possible reaction. There is no question to beg here.

“Our emotional reactions to a gory operation on non-sentient tissue and our emotional reactions to a gory operation that involves the horrible suffering and death of a sentient being are obviously different, and the difference matters.”

Let’s just pretend for a moment that this is true. The brain structures required for sentience aren’t even formed until the 30th week of pregnancy, and it is unclear when exactly they start operating. So a fetus is demonstrably non-sentient tissue during the time when nearly all cases of abortion take place, and is possibly non-sentient tissue for the remaining cases.

That said, I’m not sure why we should think that the emotional reaction itself is different in any non-trivial way. Indeed, I suspect that a gory operation on non-sentient tissue that you (falsely) believed was a sentient being experiencing horrible suffering would likely be stronger than your reaction to a gory operation on a sentient being that you (falsely) believed was non-sentient tissue. So our perceptions are at least as important as the actual facts here, which is one reason we ought to find out the actual facts rather than trusting our perceptions to deliver them straightforwardly.

But I suppose I should assume you meant something like “Our emotional reactions to (what we believe to be) a gory operation on non-sentient tissue and our emotional reactions to (what we believe to be) a gory operation that involves the horrible suffering and death of a sentient being are obviously different, and the difference matters.” Once we add the extra clauses, however, we see that there is a previously unacknowledged element—our beliefs—that may account for the difference you say is so important. So again, it isn’t our emotional reaction alone that makes the difference. And that is all for the good because some emotional reactions are misleading. Even the most adamant moral sentimentalist would not advocate following them blindly.

“There are times when an appeal to emotion is justified.”

Appeal to emotion is a fallacy. It is, by definition, never justified in any logical sense. If you mean that our emotions are sometimes relevant, however, you’ll notice that I haven’t denied this. Emotions are crucial to many kinds of judgment, particularly moral judgment. But it does not follow from this that we ought to let them lead us around by the nose.

“You mentioned the horrors of meat production.”

No, I did not. I mentioned the gore of it. “Horror” is an additional judgment that I would not say applies to all meat production, even if it applies to some.

“I eat meat, but have no problem with animal rights activists who want me know what goes on in factory farms.”

I don’t have any problem with it, either. But there’s a difference between saying “I have an argument against eating meat (or against eating meat from certain sources), and let me warn you up front that there are some graphic images I will be presenting that I think are important to see” and attempting to force such images on people unprepared. You’ll notice that is was specifically ambushes that I objected to.

“Am I wrong about meat? Should I ignore my emotional reaction to the cruelty of factory farms? Is it irrational to pay more for non-factory meat?”

As someone who also does not eat meat from factory farms, I would not say that it is irrational to pay more for meat from alternative sources. I would say, however, that it is irrational to do so merely on the basis of an emotional reaction. And as someone who has killed and prepared animals with my own hands, I would also say that it is irrational to not eat meat merely because there is gore involved. When I judge something to be cruel—whether it be factory conditions or anything else—I do so based on more than a somatic reflex. It’s not about ignoring my emotional reaction, but rather about making sure it is tempered by reason.

“Thought experiment: for each of the following graphic images or videos, would exposure to the material make people more likely or less likely to come to the correct conclusion about the morality of the practice that resulted in that material?”

Neither. At least not in isolation.

“I don’t know anyone who thinks female genital mutilation is ok, but if I did, I don’t think it would be unfair or fallacious to challenge such a person to watch a video of it being done or at least listen to testimony from someone who had underwent the procedure.”

The people who spring these images on others aren’t doing so as a challenge or as part of an argument. It’s a substitute for an argument that they don’t have. Furthermore, watching a video of it being done is not the same as listening to the testimony of someone who has had it done (something I don’t think anyone here has objected to). But I’m not sure why anyone needs to watch something being done if they are capable of understanding it without that experience. I don’t expect everyone to kill and prepare their own meat products to understand whether or not it’s okay to eat meat or what sort of treatment is unacceptable when it comes to animals. It might be instructive for some, but it hardly seems necessary for all.

cheebdragon's avatar

Mostly I think they are just idiots who haven’t really thought through all of the negative effects that making abortion illegal would have on America.

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t read the above answers.

In my experience the photos the pro-lifers use are typically very late term or even nine month babies! Is it ever a two week embryo? Nope. They also show the size not to scale. They will make it look like it is 7 pounds and 15 inches, when it’s 6 ounces and 2 inches.

I don’t trust them at all to be honest in how they go about their protests.

Zissou's avatar

@SavoirFaire This stuff about somatic reflexes is a red herring. I’m talking about emotions. I don’t care about whether a gory picture makes someone gag, I care about whether it evokes feelings of sympathy or pity that they stifle for the sake of their ideology or self-interest. And I never said our emotional reactions were all that mattered; that’s a straw man.

Speaking of fallacies, “fallacious” does not equal “not deductively valid”. There are times when it is not fallacious but appropriate to appeal to emotion, just as there are times when it is appropriate to cite an expert authority or point out a conflict of interest that may raise doubts about a person’s credibility. These moves are fallacies when they introduce irrelevant information or considerations.

Our emotional reaction to an image of an aborted fetus is not irrelevant in this debate, so the appeal to emotion here is not fallacious. Moreover, when the question is not simply a matter of establishing facts but also of action, emotions must be involved. When something important is at stake, getting people to act always involves emotions.

Going by the timeline Dutchess_III supplied, there is good reason to think the fetus feels something well before 30 weeks. But again, as I alluded to in the edit of my first post, above, and as Dutchess_III showed, use of such images can cut both ways, and of course if the images are really of a late-term miscarriage or stillbirth and not an aborted fetus at all, then that is a different matter altogether.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t trust them either @JLeslie. They like to pretend an abortion=ripping the fetus from limb to limb, and not vacuuming out something the size of a marble or a walnut. And we must not forget the breaking of the neck so they get paid extra, though how they’d break the neck of something that virtually doesn’t have a neck, and why they’d get paid extra somehow is still a mystery to me. It’s just another of their misleading propaganda tactics and utter bullshit. They just take sadistic delight in shocking people.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I think with late term they do sometimes dismember the fetus, or used to, but I don’t know how many months along. I think usually the woman basically has to deliver when the baby fetus is 5 months. She gets dialated and delivers.

The thing that pisses me off is when someone like the friend of mine who stayed with us a couple of weeks ago says, “Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are ok with aborting a baby a day before it’s delivered.” He really fucking believed that. I told him that’s ridiculous and illegal, and no one is trying to make that legal.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The pro life folks I routinely see downtown and on campus show pictures of tiny fetuses next to things like quarters for scale.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I’ve never seen that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I remember when that BS was going around on FB. There is a slight difference between delivery and abortion!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I can’t imagine an situation where they’d have to dismember the fetus. I mean everything comes out the regular way.

JLeslie's avatar

Too many lies, which make it hard to listen to them at all, even when they tell the truth. I see that on all sides in politics now. Too much hyperbole and lies, which brings to the point I question everything, and don’t want to listen to much of anything.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Lies and misrepresentation. It destroys their credibility and causes you to question their intelligence. The friend that I had that was into it just wanted the attention I think.

Zissou's avatar

@Dutchess_III Dilation & evacuation may involve dismemberment. It happens often enough that when it doesn’t, it is called intact dilation & evacuation. WebMD entry on D&E. More explicit: Wikipedia entry on D&E.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh. Ew. But I can only imagine something like that would happen when a woman’s life is at risk or there is something severely wrong with the child.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

From the link:
“A D&E is sometimes recommended for women diagnosed in the second trimester with a fetus that has severe medical problems or abnormalities.
A woman who is pregnant as a result of rape or incest may not confirm the pregnancy until the second trimester because of her emotional reaction to the traumatic cause of the pregnancy.
A woman who doesn’t have access to an affordable abortion specialist in her area or whose access is slowed by legal restrictions may take several weeks to have a planned abortion. When an abortion is delayed, a D&E may be necessary.”

JLeslie's avatar

Ah, ok, yes, I remember now that it was a two day process I think for the women I know who had abortions in the 4th and 5th month. A day to dialate, and then the procedure to remove the fetus.

Pretty upsetting when an abortion is so late because it’s difficult to get an abortion. An irony of the pro-life movement.

Most of the women I know who had one so late were because there was something very wrong with the fetus.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have never known any woman who had an abortion because they didn’t want the child, so late.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I only know one. It was many many years ago. Over 30 years ago. Everyone else I know who had abortions past three months wanted to have a baby.

Coloma's avatar

I had an abortion at 7 weeks. It was basically a D&C and while it was sad, I have no regrets and am confident, all these years later, that I made the right choice at age 16. Hard to imagine though that I could now have a 41 year old “child.” my daughter is 29.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I had one at 4 weeks. It was sad, but the father, who I dated for over 2 years, was relieved. He’s probably anti-abortion now, but I have no clue. I was supposed to be grateful that he drove me to the clinic, and I haven’t seen him since then.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Aster you do realise that humans are scientifically classed as animals right? I’m not a vegetarian myself, but I can totally understand where they are coming from. Although I don’t appreciate seeing slaughter houses, it’s bad taste and lacks class. Much the same as seeing a dead embryo.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Scientific classification of humans:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Family: Hominidae
Tribe: Hominini
Subtribe: Hominina
Genus: Homo

Scientific classification of chimpanzees:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Family: Hominidae
Subtribe: Panina
Genus: Pan

We are great apes, and there are only 5 others: chimpanzees, bonobo, gorillas and orangutans.

Zissou's avatar

We are primates. We are not great apes. Not the same! Chimps and other great apes are in the family Pongidae, not Hominidae.

Zissou's avatar

Edit: Ok, I guess some scientists have re-jiggered the taxonomy and put apes and humans in the same family. That still doesn’t make us great apes. That makes great apes and humans all Hominids.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/whats-in-a-name-hominid-versus-hominin-216054/

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Zissou “This stuff about somatic reflexes is a red herring. I’m talking about emotions.”

Emotions are included under the heading of somatic reactions. And indeed, the only time I used the phrase “somatic reflex,” it was immediately followed by a sentence that made it contextually obvious that emotions fell under the category I was discussing. So no, it is not a red herring to talk about what you are talking about.

“And I never said our emotional reactions were all that mattered; that’s a straw man.”

First of all, I never presented you as saying that our emotional reactions are all that matters. I was only discussing the limitations on their usefulness. In the absence of anything more than insinuations that our emotional reactions are relevant somehow, it is not inappropriate to respond by pointing out ways in which they are not relevant.

Second, the only argument I’ve attributed to you is one about the correlation between emotional reactions and intellectual judgments—an argument that not only lacks the claim that our emotional reactions are all that matter, but that necessarily relies on them not being the only thing that matters. So if the crows are being scared off, it’s not by a straw man.

“Speaking of fallacies, ‘fallacious’ does not equal ‘not deductively valid’.”

Of course not. All instances of begging the question are deductively valid. So are arguments based on contradictory premises. But that doesn’t mean we should find them convincing. After all, deductive validity is not the only measure of a good argument (not least because not all arguments are deductive in form). Furthermore, not all bad arguments contain fallacies. But all fallacious arguments are bad arguments.

“There are times when it is not fallacious but appropriate to appeal to emotion”

Perhaps you missed it, but I already dealt with this: “Appeal to emotion is a fallacy. It is, by definition, never justified in any logical sense. If you mean that our emotions are sometimes relevant, however, you’ll notice that I haven’t denied this. Emotions are crucial to many kinds of judgment, particularly moral judgment. But it does not follow from this that we ought to let them lead us around by the nose.”

“Our emotional reaction to an image of an aborted fetus is not irrelevant in this debate”

You have offered no evidence in favor of this claim.

“so the appeal to emotion here is not fallacious.”

Do you just not get that “appeal to emotion” is the name of a fallacy? If you are introducing evidence about an emotional reaction to be considered logically, you are no longer appealing to emotion. You are appealing to reason, but using facts about emotions as evidence. It is unclear, then, why you are insisting on terminology that undermines your view.

“Going by the timeline Dutchess_III supplied, there is good reason to think the fetus feels something well before 30 weeks”

The timeline uses the word “feel” in a purely mechanical sense. But just as there are reflex responses that continue after brain death, there are reflexes responses that can be triggered before brain development. The structures required for higher brain functions do not develop until around 30 weeks, however, so there cannot be any feeling in the sense of conscious awareness until then. Furthermore, there is reason to believe that a fetus is sedated by the womb environment until birth. So even if it is physically capable of feeling pain at 30 weeks, it may be externally prevented from experiencing anything.

“But again, as I alluded to in the edit of my first post, above, and as Dutchess_III showed, use of such images can cut both ways”

Indeed, they can. I’ve never found images of blastocysts to be legitimate as anything other than a counter to the bad argument insinuated by images of fetuses (which, as you note, are often pictures of late-term miscarriage or stillbirths rather than of aborted fetuses). These pictures do not get at the relevant issues when it comes to the questions of whether or not abortion is morally permissible and whether or not it should be legally accessible.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Zissou why wouldn’t humans be considered apes then? Is there something wrong with being an ape?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think the issue is that “great ape” is not a strictly defined taxonomic label. It’s a common name that gets used in different ways by different people. Add this to the fact that there have been a lot of revisions to our system of biological classification over the past few decades and the opportunity for confusion becomes both abundant and understandable. That said, you are correct that all members of the family Hominidae—including humans—are commonly referred to as “great apes” under the current classification scheme.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Humans share a common ancestor with great apes making us…a great ape. It’s not exactly true that we evolved from chimps but rather humans and chimps branched off from a common lesser ape

Dutchess_III's avatar

And a lemur-like animal before that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Love it @ARE_you_kidding_me. Thanks for the link.

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