Discussion:
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
(too old to reply)
Averthanus
2010-01-05 06:55:02 UTC
Permalink
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.

An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
pregnancies arbitrarily,evoked a very interesting and vigorous
discussion on the internet.The women in question have appealed to the
European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Irish Constitution
violates their human rights because it does not provide themwith the
facilities toterminate their pregnancies.Some of the opinions expressed
in the internet discussion were totally irrelevant; some others
(particularly by one contributor) were juvenile and snide.These can
safely be ignored because they only confuse the issue.

The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of whether an
embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One argument advanced the view
that a human being is not a ?person? until some time after birth.The
contributor (presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an awareness of
the world around him, and who freely exercises his will.When confronted
with the specific cases of Christopher Reeve who became a quadriplegic
due to a riding accident, and that of the well known physicist Stephen
Hawkin who has lost total control of his bodily functions because of a
motor neurone disease,he argued that both these cases did not invalidate
his argument because they could both speak and couldcommunicate with the
world around them.He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these
two cases represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not
entirely fit into his own definition.

This doctor, however, made his basic argument clearer when, in response
to the question ofwhether a human being who is in acoma and has no self
consciousness or awareness of his surroundings, and who has no control
over his own physiological functions, and is certainly unable to
exercise his will is still a person, responded that: ?He loses his
personhood.?(N.B.) He went on to inform us that:?The latest developments
in neuroscience indicate that personhood is a dynamic state continuously
created every waking moment.? (sic). Interestingly (but consistently),
this good doctor also asserted that an Alzheimer?s patient,in severe
cases, ceases to be a ?person.?

We have finally arrived at the basic assumptions from which our good
doctor proceeds.The definition of a person by his neurological functions
is the queerest argument that hasever been propounded.It is like saying
that an aeroplane is an aeroplane because it flies.This means that if it
is grounded, it is no longer an aeroplane;or again, it is like saying
that a gun is a gun because it shoots, which means that if it is locked
up in a gun cabinet, it is no longer a gun.By the weirdesttwist of
logic, we are asked to accept the argument that personhood is a kind
of?on again?/ ?off again?phenomenon; that under certain circumstances we
are persons and under other circumstances we are not persons.By this
weird logic, if a human being is undergoing surgery under general
anaesthesia (when he is not conscious and cannot exercise his will
freely), he is not a person, and the surgeon is merely operating on a
chunk of human flesh. According to thisabsurd logic, if the patient dies
without regaining consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not
kill a ?person?but that he merely destroyed a human being.This is
consistent with the claim that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not
constitute murder.

The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had
developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser
primates, such as baboonsand chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.According to his argument it appears that ?personhood? can be
quantified and therefore measured in animals.The doctor does not favour
us with any detailsof when a gorilla or a baboon can be said to be a
full person.Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would
qualify to be described as a ?human? being.He only asserts that:
?Indeed, in most developed countries, the new knowledge is already
leading to the enactment of new laws to treat the great apes and other
primates as persons.?(sic).It is widely recognized, even though,
perhaps,not adequately articulated, that when we attribute
?intelligence? to animals, this is done only in ananalogical manner.The
common man speaks of horses being ?more intelligent? than dogs; or of
elephants being more intelligent than horses. We often hear that whales
and dolphins are far more intelligent than horses and primates.Even
aboutdomestic animals, there is much discussion on whether a Doberman
Pinscher is as ?intelligent?as a Labrador or a German Shepherd.In all
common parlance, it is implicitly admitted, that the term ?intelligence?
which is attributed to animals is not used in the same sensein which it
is attributed to human beings.To take this analogy even further, we
attribute intelligence even to insects such as ants and bees, because
they exhibit extremely intricate and complex social
organizations.Zoologists and biologists have not yet exhausted their
search of these ?intelligent? creatures.Our good doctorseems to overlook
the fact that the study of?Primates?is still a study of ?Primates? and
not of ?humans.?The distinction between primates and humans remains
clear and recognizable.To cite primatologists in support of his
argumentdenying that ?personhood? is the exclusive preserve of human
beings, therefore, is simply inane and totally unconvincing.

Which brings us to the argument that the concept of ?personhood? is
derived, not from science, but from Philosophy.We shall gladly concede
his argument on this point.There are realities which are much, much
beyond the domain of Science(note that Science is spelt with a capital
S). Every intelligent pursuer of truth recognizes this fact.The
discipline of Metaphysics (which means ?meta?=beyond +
?physica?=physics) was elaborated brilliantly by Aristotle in the fourth
century before Christ.It is simply ingenuous to holdthe view that every
explanation of reality has to be made solely according to known
scientific criteria.This understanding of the comprehensiveness of
science has been abandoned by most scientists today. Science has its
legitimate place in human understanding; it also has its limitations.To
dismiss explanations which are beyond the scope of science is to be
obtuse and also unscientific.Arguments, such as those advanced by our
good doctor are precisely those which led to massive human tragedies in
the very recent past.Nazi doctors and biologists advanced the view (like
our good doctor is doing) that human embryos are not ?persons.? This led
to the widespread practice of eugenics which was calculated to eliminate
?undesirable? elements from the glorious ?Vaterland? which the Nazis
were endeavouring to build.From genetic ?engineering? they proceeded to
physically eliminate adult persons (?) who had particular traits ?
physical, racial, cultural or intellectual - which did not conform to
their own specifications. Human ?beings? were not recognized as
?persons? because they did not fit into the politico-scientific
definition of Nazism. The criteria were defined by the reigning
political philosophy, and the social and human consequences which
followed, is history . . . as the common expression has it.

Our good doctorwould do well to study some history, if he is not
overly-absorbed in his medical sciences, to see whether his ?scientific
perspective? is the only valid perspective on the question of whether a
humanembryo is a ?person? or a mere aggregate of cells. He could not do
worse than examine, objectively and dispassionately, the claim by
philosophers and ethicists that an human embryo is sacred and
inviolable, and should never be, for whatever reason, treated as
?something?insteadof?someone.? Science may not yet have definitively
established the exact stage at which the embryo becomes a person,but
that the embryo, undeniably,is a potentialperson should cause every
doctor to be extremely cautious about how s/he treats the human embryo.
Embryology as a science is itself only in its embryonic stage.It would
be crass and extremely unwise to presume that doctors have found
explanationsfor everything in the universe.As it is, we can
whole-heartedly agree with Ivan Illich who asserts that ?The medical
establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact
of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an
epidemic.? (Limits to Medicine, Penguin Books, 1976).In discussions of
this nature, there is, all too often, evidence of arrogance on the part
of the ?professionals? who think that they know more than everyone
else.They tend, maybe unwittingly, to be condescending and patronizing
in their responses to perfectly legitimate questions.This does not augur
well for healthy debate and for the enlightenment of those who are not
as well instructed as themselves in scientific matters.


Averthanus L. D?Souza
Dona Paula, Goa
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-05 20:20:35 UTC
Permalink
Folks, Averthanus and Dr Santosh,

Step aside and please welcome the dolphins!
http://www.theweek.com/article/index/104684/Are_dolphins_people_too

PS: I am all for animal rights too. Don't be biased against them!
Post by Averthanus
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.
An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
--
Frederick Noronha

Columnist :: journalism
editing :: alt.publishing
photography :: blogging
Santosh Helekar
2010-01-06 07:52:51 UTC
Permalink
The post appended below commits many gaping blunders on the issue of personhood, in paraphrasing what I have stated in this forum and elsewhere, and the context in which I have stated it. Let me just enumerate them below.

1. The said post conveniently fails to mention that my objections were directed solely against the following original statement of its author on Goanet:

"The vast majority of medical opinion holds that a human embryo or foetus is a distinct human person. This should be obvious to anyone with common sense."
....Shri A. L. D'Souza

Please see my earlier post at:

http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2009-December/187686.html

So it was not me, but the author in question who invoked what he believed to be the wisdom of medical professionals and medical science to support what he calls his "philosophy". And now he wants you to believe that "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health", after finding out from me that medical science does not support his "philosophical" statement, after all.

If he had not made the bogus claim about the definition of "human person" on behalf of the vast majority of medical professionals, and had said instead that it was simply his religious belief or his "philosophy", I would have had no problem with his statement.
One argument advanced the view that a human being is not a ?person? until >some time after birth.
This is false. I stated that a fetus at some stage in gestation (perhaps, around 22 weeks) is likely to satisfy the neuroscientific definition of a person.
He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these two cases >represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not entirely fit >into his own definition.
False. I clearly indicated that Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking possessed full personhood.
According to this absurd logic, if the patient dies without regaining >consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not kill a ?person?but >that he merely destroyed a human being.This is consistent with the claim >that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not constitute murder.
False. In the above, the political campaign tactic of misplaced extrapolation and demonization is being used. I have clearly stated that science has nothing to do with defining murder, and that in secular law the definition of murder is not necessarily tied to the definition of personhood, as is clear from the fact that killing of soldiers and innocent bystanders in war, killing in self-defense and judicial executions are not considered murders.

BTW, the legal definition of murder is unlawful killing of a human being, not person. Please see the quote and link below:

QUOTE
The US Code, at Title 18, defines murder as:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
UNQUOTE

http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/M/Murder.aspx
The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had >developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser >primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.
Chimpanzees are not lesser primates.
Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would qualify to be >described as a ?human? being.
False. I have already stated that a human being is an animal belonging to the genus Homo.

7. The said post contains utterly confused assertions about intelligence, which as nothing to do with personhood from a scientific, or for that matter, philosophical standpoint. According to modern philosophy, a person is a self-conscious being.

8. There is also a confusion between the definition of "human" and the definition of "person". A self-conscious being does not have to be human.

9. A totally irrelevant argument about limitations of science is presented while conceding my scientific argument, but ignoring the fact that my objection in its entirety had to do with science in the first place. I have no problem with the supernatural or metaphysical beliefs of other people.

10. The Nazis are invoked to demonize people who disagree with the author's view. I wonder what the Jews would have to say about this, because according to their religion a baby becomes a full human life only at the time of birth, and they support embryonic stem cell research and abortion for medical reasons.

11. Finally, self-perceived arrogance and condescension in my candid responses are generalized to indict the entire medical community, and a sense of despair is expressed for not being able to engage in a healthy debate because of them.

I guess comparing us with the Nazis and murderers is more conducive to a healthy debate.

Cheers,

Santosh

P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to write something on it when I have some free time.
The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of
whether an embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One
argument advanced the view that a human being is not a
?person? until some time after birth.The contributor
(presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an
awareness of the world around him, and who freely exercises
his will.
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-06 20:30:06 UTC
Permalink
Better still, you could contribute to the evolving page on the
Wikipedia, and we could all read you there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Personhood_in_theology

Btw, are you referring to "personhood in theology", the application of
social psychology or the scientific approach?

Eitherway, doesn't mean much to someone like me. We should just go
along with what our conscience, beliefs, religion (or lack of it)
tells us, rather than trying to find complex ways of justifying our
own respective positions. To each his own. FN
Post by Santosh Helekar
P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas
regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers
and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to
write something on it when I have some free time.
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-06 20:30:06 UTC
Permalink
Better still, you could contribute to the evolving page on the
Wikipedia, and we could all read you there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Personhood_in_theology

Btw, are you referring to "personhood in theology", the application of
social psychology or the scientific approach?

Eitherway, doesn't mean much to someone like me. We should just go
along with what our conscience, beliefs, religion (or lack of it)
tells us, rather than trying to find complex ways of justifying our
own respective positions. To each his own. FN
Post by Santosh Helekar
P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas
regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers
and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to
write something on it when I have some free time.
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-06 20:30:06 UTC
Permalink
Better still, you could contribute to the evolving page on the
Wikipedia, and we could all read you there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Personhood_in_theology

Btw, are you referring to "personhood in theology", the application of
social psychology or the scientific approach?

Eitherway, doesn't mean much to someone like me. We should just go
along with what our conscience, beliefs, religion (or lack of it)
tells us, rather than trying to find complex ways of justifying our
own respective positions. To each his own. FN
Post by Santosh Helekar
P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas
regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers
and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to
write something on it when I have some free time.
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-06 20:30:06 UTC
Permalink
Better still, you could contribute to the evolving page on the
Wikipedia, and we could all read you there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Personhood_in_theology

Btw, are you referring to "personhood in theology", the application of
social psychology or the scientific approach?

Eitherway, doesn't mean much to someone like me. We should just go
along with what our conscience, beliefs, religion (or lack of it)
tells us, rather than trying to find complex ways of justifying our
own respective positions. To each his own. FN
Post by Santosh Helekar
P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas
regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers
and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to
write something on it when I have some free time.
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-06 20:30:06 UTC
Permalink
Better still, you could contribute to the evolving page on the
Wikipedia, and we could all read you there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Personhood_in_theology

Btw, are you referring to "personhood in theology", the application of
social psychology or the scientific approach?

Eitherway, doesn't mean much to someone like me. We should just go
along with what our conscience, beliefs, religion (or lack of it)
tells us, rather than trying to find complex ways of justifying our
own respective positions. To each his own. FN
Post by Santosh Helekar
P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas
regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers
and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to
write something on it when I have some free time.
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-06 20:30:06 UTC
Permalink
Better still, you could contribute to the evolving page on the
Wikipedia, and we could all read you there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person#Personhood_in_theology

Btw, are you referring to "personhood in theology", the application of
social psychology or the scientific approach?

Eitherway, doesn't mean much to someone like me. We should just go
along with what our conscience, beliefs, religion (or lack of it)
tells us, rather than trying to find complex ways of justifying our
own respective positions. To each his own. FN
Post by Santosh Helekar
P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas
regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers
and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to
write something on it when I have some free time.
Averthanus
2010-01-05 06:55:02 UTC
Permalink
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.

An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
pregnancies arbitrarily,evoked a very interesting and vigorous
discussion on the internet.The women in question have appealed to the
European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Irish Constitution
violates their human rights because it does not provide themwith the
facilities toterminate their pregnancies.Some of the opinions expressed
in the internet discussion were totally irrelevant; some others
(particularly by one contributor) were juvenile and snide.These can
safely be ignored because they only confuse the issue.

The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of whether an
embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One argument advanced the view
that a human being is not a ?person? until some time after birth.The
contributor (presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an awareness of
the world around him, and who freely exercises his will.When confronted
with the specific cases of Christopher Reeve who became a quadriplegic
due to a riding accident, and that of the well known physicist Stephen
Hawkin who has lost total control of his bodily functions because of a
motor neurone disease,he argued that both these cases did not invalidate
his argument because they could both speak and couldcommunicate with the
world around them.He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these
two cases represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not
entirely fit into his own definition.

This doctor, however, made his basic argument clearer when, in response
to the question ofwhether a human being who is in acoma and has no self
consciousness or awareness of his surroundings, and who has no control
over his own physiological functions, and is certainly unable to
exercise his will is still a person, responded that: ?He loses his
personhood.?(N.B.) He went on to inform us that:?The latest developments
in neuroscience indicate that personhood is a dynamic state continuously
created every waking moment.? (sic). Interestingly (but consistently),
this good doctor also asserted that an Alzheimer?s patient,in severe
cases, ceases to be a ?person.?

We have finally arrived at the basic assumptions from which our good
doctor proceeds.The definition of a person by his neurological functions
is the queerest argument that hasever been propounded.It is like saying
that an aeroplane is an aeroplane because it flies.This means that if it
is grounded, it is no longer an aeroplane;or again, it is like saying
that a gun is a gun because it shoots, which means that if it is locked
up in a gun cabinet, it is no longer a gun.By the weirdesttwist of
logic, we are asked to accept the argument that personhood is a kind
of?on again?/ ?off again?phenomenon; that under certain circumstances we
are persons and under other circumstances we are not persons.By this
weird logic, if a human being is undergoing surgery under general
anaesthesia (when he is not conscious and cannot exercise his will
freely), he is not a person, and the surgeon is merely operating on a
chunk of human flesh. According to thisabsurd logic, if the patient dies
without regaining consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not
kill a ?person?but that he merely destroyed a human being.This is
consistent with the claim that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not
constitute murder.

The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had
developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser
primates, such as baboonsand chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.According to his argument it appears that ?personhood? can be
quantified and therefore measured in animals.The doctor does not favour
us with any detailsof when a gorilla or a baboon can be said to be a
full person.Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would
qualify to be described as a ?human? being.He only asserts that:
?Indeed, in most developed countries, the new knowledge is already
leading to the enactment of new laws to treat the great apes and other
primates as persons.?(sic).It is widely recognized, even though,
perhaps,not adequately articulated, that when we attribute
?intelligence? to animals, this is done only in ananalogical manner.The
common man speaks of horses being ?more intelligent? than dogs; or of
elephants being more intelligent than horses. We often hear that whales
and dolphins are far more intelligent than horses and primates.Even
aboutdomestic animals, there is much discussion on whether a Doberman
Pinscher is as ?intelligent?as a Labrador or a German Shepherd.In all
common parlance, it is implicitly admitted, that the term ?intelligence?
which is attributed to animals is not used in the same sensein which it
is attributed to human beings.To take this analogy even further, we
attribute intelligence even to insects such as ants and bees, because
they exhibit extremely intricate and complex social
organizations.Zoologists and biologists have not yet exhausted their
search of these ?intelligent? creatures.Our good doctorseems to overlook
the fact that the study of?Primates?is still a study of ?Primates? and
not of ?humans.?The distinction between primates and humans remains
clear and recognizable.To cite primatologists in support of his
argumentdenying that ?personhood? is the exclusive preserve of human
beings, therefore, is simply inane and totally unconvincing.

Which brings us to the argument that the concept of ?personhood? is
derived, not from science, but from Philosophy.We shall gladly concede
his argument on this point.There are realities which are much, much
beyond the domain of Science(note that Science is spelt with a capital
S). Every intelligent pursuer of truth recognizes this fact.The
discipline of Metaphysics (which means ?meta?=beyond +
?physica?=physics) was elaborated brilliantly by Aristotle in the fourth
century before Christ.It is simply ingenuous to holdthe view that every
explanation of reality has to be made solely according to known
scientific criteria.This understanding of the comprehensiveness of
science has been abandoned by most scientists today. Science has its
legitimate place in human understanding; it also has its limitations.To
dismiss explanations which are beyond the scope of science is to be
obtuse and also unscientific.Arguments, such as those advanced by our
good doctor are precisely those which led to massive human tragedies in
the very recent past.Nazi doctors and biologists advanced the view (like
our good doctor is doing) that human embryos are not ?persons.? This led
to the widespread practice of eugenics which was calculated to eliminate
?undesirable? elements from the glorious ?Vaterland? which the Nazis
were endeavouring to build.From genetic ?engineering? they proceeded to
physically eliminate adult persons (?) who had particular traits ?
physical, racial, cultural or intellectual - which did not conform to
their own specifications. Human ?beings? were not recognized as
?persons? because they did not fit into the politico-scientific
definition of Nazism. The criteria were defined by the reigning
political philosophy, and the social and human consequences which
followed, is history . . . as the common expression has it.

Our good doctorwould do well to study some history, if he is not
overly-absorbed in his medical sciences, to see whether his ?scientific
perspective? is the only valid perspective on the question of whether a
humanembryo is a ?person? or a mere aggregate of cells. He could not do
worse than examine, objectively and dispassionately, the claim by
philosophers and ethicists that an human embryo is sacred and
inviolable, and should never be, for whatever reason, treated as
?something?insteadof?someone.? Science may not yet have definitively
established the exact stage at which the embryo becomes a person,but
that the embryo, undeniably,is a potentialperson should cause every
doctor to be extremely cautious about how s/he treats the human embryo.
Embryology as a science is itself only in its embryonic stage.It would
be crass and extremely unwise to presume that doctors have found
explanationsfor everything in the universe.As it is, we can
whole-heartedly agree with Ivan Illich who asserts that ?The medical
establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact
of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an
epidemic.? (Limits to Medicine, Penguin Books, 1976).In discussions of
this nature, there is, all too often, evidence of arrogance on the part
of the ?professionals? who think that they know more than everyone
else.They tend, maybe unwittingly, to be condescending and patronizing
in their responses to perfectly legitimate questions.This does not augur
well for healthy debate and for the enlightenment of those who are not
as well instructed as themselves in scientific matters.


Averthanus L. D?Souza
Dona Paula, Goa
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-05 20:20:35 UTC
Permalink
Folks, Averthanus and Dr Santosh,

Step aside and please welcome the dolphins!
http://www.theweek.com/article/index/104684/Are_dolphins_people_too

PS: I am all for animal rights too. Don't be biased against them!
Post by Averthanus
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.
An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
--
Frederick Noronha

Columnist :: journalism
editing :: alt.publishing
photography :: blogging
Santosh Helekar
2010-01-06 07:52:51 UTC
Permalink
The post appended below commits many gaping blunders on the issue of personhood, in paraphrasing what I have stated in this forum and elsewhere, and the context in which I have stated it. Let me just enumerate them below.

1. The said post conveniently fails to mention that my objections were directed solely against the following original statement of its author on Goanet:

"The vast majority of medical opinion holds that a human embryo or foetus is a distinct human person. This should be obvious to anyone with common sense."
....Shri A. L. D'Souza

Please see my earlier post at:

http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2009-December/187686.html

So it was not me, but the author in question who invoked what he believed to be the wisdom of medical professionals and medical science to support what he calls his "philosophy". And now he wants you to believe that "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health", after finding out from me that medical science does not support his "philosophical" statement, after all.

If he had not made the bogus claim about the definition of "human person" on behalf of the vast majority of medical professionals, and had said instead that it was simply his religious belief or his "philosophy", I would have had no problem with his statement.
One argument advanced the view that a human being is not a ?person? until >some time after birth.
This is false. I stated that a fetus at some stage in gestation (perhaps, around 22 weeks) is likely to satisfy the neuroscientific definition of a person.
He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these two cases >represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not entirely fit >into his own definition.
False. I clearly indicated that Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking possessed full personhood.
According to this absurd logic, if the patient dies without regaining >consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not kill a ?person?but >that he merely destroyed a human being.This is consistent with the claim >that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not constitute murder.
False. In the above, the political campaign tactic of misplaced extrapolation and demonization is being used. I have clearly stated that science has nothing to do with defining murder, and that in secular law the definition of murder is not necessarily tied to the definition of personhood, as is clear from the fact that killing of soldiers and innocent bystanders in war, killing in self-defense and judicial executions are not considered murders.

BTW, the legal definition of murder is unlawful killing of a human being, not person. Please see the quote and link below:

QUOTE
The US Code, at Title 18, defines murder as:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
UNQUOTE

http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/M/Murder.aspx
The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had >developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser >primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.
Chimpanzees are not lesser primates.
Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would qualify to be >described as a ?human? being.
False. I have already stated that a human being is an animal belonging to the genus Homo.

7. The said post contains utterly confused assertions about intelligence, which as nothing to do with personhood from a scientific, or for that matter, philosophical standpoint. According to modern philosophy, a person is a self-conscious being.

8. There is also a confusion between the definition of "human" and the definition of "person". A self-conscious being does not have to be human.

9. A totally irrelevant argument about limitations of science is presented while conceding my scientific argument, but ignoring the fact that my objection in its entirety had to do with science in the first place. I have no problem with the supernatural or metaphysical beliefs of other people.

10. The Nazis are invoked to demonize people who disagree with the author's view. I wonder what the Jews would have to say about this, because according to their religion a baby becomes a full human life only at the time of birth, and they support embryonic stem cell research and abortion for medical reasons.

11. Finally, self-perceived arrogance and condescension in my candid responses are generalized to indict the entire medical community, and a sense of despair is expressed for not being able to engage in a healthy debate because of them.

I guess comparing us with the Nazis and murderers is more conducive to a healthy debate.

Cheers,

Santosh

P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to write something on it when I have some free time.
The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of
whether an embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One
argument advanced the view that a human being is not a
?person? until some time after birth.The contributor
(presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an
awareness of the world around him, and who freely exercises
his will.
Averthanus
2010-01-05 06:55:02 UTC
Permalink
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.

An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
pregnancies arbitrarily,evoked a very interesting and vigorous
discussion on the internet.The women in question have appealed to the
European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Irish Constitution
violates their human rights because it does not provide themwith the
facilities toterminate their pregnancies.Some of the opinions expressed
in the internet discussion were totally irrelevant; some others
(particularly by one contributor) were juvenile and snide.These can
safely be ignored because they only confuse the issue.

The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of whether an
embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One argument advanced the view
that a human being is not a ?person? until some time after birth.The
contributor (presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an awareness of
the world around him, and who freely exercises his will.When confronted
with the specific cases of Christopher Reeve who became a quadriplegic
due to a riding accident, and that of the well known physicist Stephen
Hawkin who has lost total control of his bodily functions because of a
motor neurone disease,he argued that both these cases did not invalidate
his argument because they could both speak and couldcommunicate with the
world around them.He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these
two cases represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not
entirely fit into his own definition.

This doctor, however, made his basic argument clearer when, in response
to the question ofwhether a human being who is in acoma and has no self
consciousness or awareness of his surroundings, and who has no control
over his own physiological functions, and is certainly unable to
exercise his will is still a person, responded that: ?He loses his
personhood.?(N.B.) He went on to inform us that:?The latest developments
in neuroscience indicate that personhood is a dynamic state continuously
created every waking moment.? (sic). Interestingly (but consistently),
this good doctor also asserted that an Alzheimer?s patient,in severe
cases, ceases to be a ?person.?

We have finally arrived at the basic assumptions from which our good
doctor proceeds.The definition of a person by his neurological functions
is the queerest argument that hasever been propounded.It is like saying
that an aeroplane is an aeroplane because it flies.This means that if it
is grounded, it is no longer an aeroplane;or again, it is like saying
that a gun is a gun because it shoots, which means that if it is locked
up in a gun cabinet, it is no longer a gun.By the weirdesttwist of
logic, we are asked to accept the argument that personhood is a kind
of?on again?/ ?off again?phenomenon; that under certain circumstances we
are persons and under other circumstances we are not persons.By this
weird logic, if a human being is undergoing surgery under general
anaesthesia (when he is not conscious and cannot exercise his will
freely), he is not a person, and the surgeon is merely operating on a
chunk of human flesh. According to thisabsurd logic, if the patient dies
without regaining consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not
kill a ?person?but that he merely destroyed a human being.This is
consistent with the claim that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not
constitute murder.

The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had
developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser
primates, such as baboonsand chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.According to his argument it appears that ?personhood? can be
quantified and therefore measured in animals.The doctor does not favour
us with any detailsof when a gorilla or a baboon can be said to be a
full person.Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would
qualify to be described as a ?human? being.He only asserts that:
?Indeed, in most developed countries, the new knowledge is already
leading to the enactment of new laws to treat the great apes and other
primates as persons.?(sic).It is widely recognized, even though,
perhaps,not adequately articulated, that when we attribute
?intelligence? to animals, this is done only in ananalogical manner.The
common man speaks of horses being ?more intelligent? than dogs; or of
elephants being more intelligent than horses. We often hear that whales
and dolphins are far more intelligent than horses and primates.Even
aboutdomestic animals, there is much discussion on whether a Doberman
Pinscher is as ?intelligent?as a Labrador or a German Shepherd.In all
common parlance, it is implicitly admitted, that the term ?intelligence?
which is attributed to animals is not used in the same sensein which it
is attributed to human beings.To take this analogy even further, we
attribute intelligence even to insects such as ants and bees, because
they exhibit extremely intricate and complex social
organizations.Zoologists and biologists have not yet exhausted their
search of these ?intelligent? creatures.Our good doctorseems to overlook
the fact that the study of?Primates?is still a study of ?Primates? and
not of ?humans.?The distinction between primates and humans remains
clear and recognizable.To cite primatologists in support of his
argumentdenying that ?personhood? is the exclusive preserve of human
beings, therefore, is simply inane and totally unconvincing.

Which brings us to the argument that the concept of ?personhood? is
derived, not from science, but from Philosophy.We shall gladly concede
his argument on this point.There are realities which are much, much
beyond the domain of Science(note that Science is spelt with a capital
S). Every intelligent pursuer of truth recognizes this fact.The
discipline of Metaphysics (which means ?meta?=beyond +
?physica?=physics) was elaborated brilliantly by Aristotle in the fourth
century before Christ.It is simply ingenuous to holdthe view that every
explanation of reality has to be made solely according to known
scientific criteria.This understanding of the comprehensiveness of
science has been abandoned by most scientists today. Science has its
legitimate place in human understanding; it also has its limitations.To
dismiss explanations which are beyond the scope of science is to be
obtuse and also unscientific.Arguments, such as those advanced by our
good doctor are precisely those which led to massive human tragedies in
the very recent past.Nazi doctors and biologists advanced the view (like
our good doctor is doing) that human embryos are not ?persons.? This led
to the widespread practice of eugenics which was calculated to eliminate
?undesirable? elements from the glorious ?Vaterland? which the Nazis
were endeavouring to build.From genetic ?engineering? they proceeded to
physically eliminate adult persons (?) who had particular traits ?
physical, racial, cultural or intellectual - which did not conform to
their own specifications. Human ?beings? were not recognized as
?persons? because they did not fit into the politico-scientific
definition of Nazism. The criteria were defined by the reigning
political philosophy, and the social and human consequences which
followed, is history . . . as the common expression has it.

Our good doctorwould do well to study some history, if he is not
overly-absorbed in his medical sciences, to see whether his ?scientific
perspective? is the only valid perspective on the question of whether a
humanembryo is a ?person? or a mere aggregate of cells. He could not do
worse than examine, objectively and dispassionately, the claim by
philosophers and ethicists that an human embryo is sacred and
inviolable, and should never be, for whatever reason, treated as
?something?insteadof?someone.? Science may not yet have definitively
established the exact stage at which the embryo becomes a person,but
that the embryo, undeniably,is a potentialperson should cause every
doctor to be extremely cautious about how s/he treats the human embryo.
Embryology as a science is itself only in its embryonic stage.It would
be crass and extremely unwise to presume that doctors have found
explanationsfor everything in the universe.As it is, we can
whole-heartedly agree with Ivan Illich who asserts that ?The medical
establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact
of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an
epidemic.? (Limits to Medicine, Penguin Books, 1976).In discussions of
this nature, there is, all too often, evidence of arrogance on the part
of the ?professionals? who think that they know more than everyone
else.They tend, maybe unwittingly, to be condescending and patronizing
in their responses to perfectly legitimate questions.This does not augur
well for healthy debate and for the enlightenment of those who are not
as well instructed as themselves in scientific matters.


Averthanus L. D?Souza
Dona Paula, Goa
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-05 20:20:35 UTC
Permalink
Folks, Averthanus and Dr Santosh,

Step aside and please welcome the dolphins!
http://www.theweek.com/article/index/104684/Are_dolphins_people_too

PS: I am all for animal rights too. Don't be biased against them!
Post by Averthanus
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.
An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
--
Frederick Noronha

Columnist :: journalism
editing :: alt.publishing
photography :: blogging
Santosh Helekar
2010-01-06 07:52:51 UTC
Permalink
The post appended below commits many gaping blunders on the issue of personhood, in paraphrasing what I have stated in this forum and elsewhere, and the context in which I have stated it. Let me just enumerate them below.

1. The said post conveniently fails to mention that my objections were directed solely against the following original statement of its author on Goanet:

"The vast majority of medical opinion holds that a human embryo or foetus is a distinct human person. This should be obvious to anyone with common sense."
....Shri A. L. D'Souza

Please see my earlier post at:

http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2009-December/187686.html

So it was not me, but the author in question who invoked what he believed to be the wisdom of medical professionals and medical science to support what he calls his "philosophy". And now he wants you to believe that "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health", after finding out from me that medical science does not support his "philosophical" statement, after all.

If he had not made the bogus claim about the definition of "human person" on behalf of the vast majority of medical professionals, and had said instead that it was simply his religious belief or his "philosophy", I would have had no problem with his statement.
One argument advanced the view that a human being is not a ?person? until >some time after birth.
This is false. I stated that a fetus at some stage in gestation (perhaps, around 22 weeks) is likely to satisfy the neuroscientific definition of a person.
He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these two cases >represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not entirely fit >into his own definition.
False. I clearly indicated that Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking possessed full personhood.
According to this absurd logic, if the patient dies without regaining >consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not kill a ?person?but >that he merely destroyed a human being.This is consistent with the claim >that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not constitute murder.
False. In the above, the political campaign tactic of misplaced extrapolation and demonization is being used. I have clearly stated that science has nothing to do with defining murder, and that in secular law the definition of murder is not necessarily tied to the definition of personhood, as is clear from the fact that killing of soldiers and innocent bystanders in war, killing in self-defense and judicial executions are not considered murders.

BTW, the legal definition of murder is unlawful killing of a human being, not person. Please see the quote and link below:

QUOTE
The US Code, at Title 18, defines murder as:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
UNQUOTE

http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/M/Murder.aspx
The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had >developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser >primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.
Chimpanzees are not lesser primates.
Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would qualify to be >described as a ?human? being.
False. I have already stated that a human being is an animal belonging to the genus Homo.

7. The said post contains utterly confused assertions about intelligence, which as nothing to do with personhood from a scientific, or for that matter, philosophical standpoint. According to modern philosophy, a person is a self-conscious being.

8. There is also a confusion between the definition of "human" and the definition of "person". A self-conscious being does not have to be human.

9. A totally irrelevant argument about limitations of science is presented while conceding my scientific argument, but ignoring the fact that my objection in its entirety had to do with science in the first place. I have no problem with the supernatural or metaphysical beliefs of other people.

10. The Nazis are invoked to demonize people who disagree with the author's view. I wonder what the Jews would have to say about this, because according to their religion a baby becomes a full human life only at the time of birth, and they support embryonic stem cell research and abortion for medical reasons.

11. Finally, self-perceived arrogance and condescension in my candid responses are generalized to indict the entire medical community, and a sense of despair is expressed for not being able to engage in a healthy debate because of them.

I guess comparing us with the Nazis and murderers is more conducive to a healthy debate.

Cheers,

Santosh

P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to write something on it when I have some free time.
The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of
whether an embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One
argument advanced the view that a human being is not a
?person? until some time after birth.The contributor
(presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an
awareness of the world around him, and who freely exercises
his will.
Averthanus
2010-01-05 06:55:02 UTC
Permalink
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.

An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
pregnancies arbitrarily,evoked a very interesting and vigorous
discussion on the internet.The women in question have appealed to the
European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Irish Constitution
violates their human rights because it does not provide themwith the
facilities toterminate their pregnancies.Some of the opinions expressed
in the internet discussion were totally irrelevant; some others
(particularly by one contributor) were juvenile and snide.These can
safely be ignored because they only confuse the issue.

The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of whether an
embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One argument advanced the view
that a human being is not a ?person? until some time after birth.The
contributor (presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an awareness of
the world around him, and who freely exercises his will.When confronted
with the specific cases of Christopher Reeve who became a quadriplegic
due to a riding accident, and that of the well known physicist Stephen
Hawkin who has lost total control of his bodily functions because of a
motor neurone disease,he argued that both these cases did not invalidate
his argument because they could both speak and couldcommunicate with the
world around them.He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these
two cases represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not
entirely fit into his own definition.

This doctor, however, made his basic argument clearer when, in response
to the question ofwhether a human being who is in acoma and has no self
consciousness or awareness of his surroundings, and who has no control
over his own physiological functions, and is certainly unable to
exercise his will is still a person, responded that: ?He loses his
personhood.?(N.B.) He went on to inform us that:?The latest developments
in neuroscience indicate that personhood is a dynamic state continuously
created every waking moment.? (sic). Interestingly (but consistently),
this good doctor also asserted that an Alzheimer?s patient,in severe
cases, ceases to be a ?person.?

We have finally arrived at the basic assumptions from which our good
doctor proceeds.The definition of a person by his neurological functions
is the queerest argument that hasever been propounded.It is like saying
that an aeroplane is an aeroplane because it flies.This means that if it
is grounded, it is no longer an aeroplane;or again, it is like saying
that a gun is a gun because it shoots, which means that if it is locked
up in a gun cabinet, it is no longer a gun.By the weirdesttwist of
logic, we are asked to accept the argument that personhood is a kind
of?on again?/ ?off again?phenomenon; that under certain circumstances we
are persons and under other circumstances we are not persons.By this
weird logic, if a human being is undergoing surgery under general
anaesthesia (when he is not conscious and cannot exercise his will
freely), he is not a person, and the surgeon is merely operating on a
chunk of human flesh. According to thisabsurd logic, if the patient dies
without regaining consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not
kill a ?person?but that he merely destroyed a human being.This is
consistent with the claim that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not
constitute murder.

The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had
developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser
primates, such as baboonsand chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.According to his argument it appears that ?personhood? can be
quantified and therefore measured in animals.The doctor does not favour
us with any detailsof when a gorilla or a baboon can be said to be a
full person.Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would
qualify to be described as a ?human? being.He only asserts that:
?Indeed, in most developed countries, the new knowledge is already
leading to the enactment of new laws to treat the great apes and other
primates as persons.?(sic).It is widely recognized, even though,
perhaps,not adequately articulated, that when we attribute
?intelligence? to animals, this is done only in ananalogical manner.The
common man speaks of horses being ?more intelligent? than dogs; or of
elephants being more intelligent than horses. We often hear that whales
and dolphins are far more intelligent than horses and primates.Even
aboutdomestic animals, there is much discussion on whether a Doberman
Pinscher is as ?intelligent?as a Labrador or a German Shepherd.In all
common parlance, it is implicitly admitted, that the term ?intelligence?
which is attributed to animals is not used in the same sensein which it
is attributed to human beings.To take this analogy even further, we
attribute intelligence even to insects such as ants and bees, because
they exhibit extremely intricate and complex social
organizations.Zoologists and biologists have not yet exhausted their
search of these ?intelligent? creatures.Our good doctorseems to overlook
the fact that the study of?Primates?is still a study of ?Primates? and
not of ?humans.?The distinction between primates and humans remains
clear and recognizable.To cite primatologists in support of his
argumentdenying that ?personhood? is the exclusive preserve of human
beings, therefore, is simply inane and totally unconvincing.

Which brings us to the argument that the concept of ?personhood? is
derived, not from science, but from Philosophy.We shall gladly concede
his argument on this point.There are realities which are much, much
beyond the domain of Science(note that Science is spelt with a capital
S). Every intelligent pursuer of truth recognizes this fact.The
discipline of Metaphysics (which means ?meta?=beyond +
?physica?=physics) was elaborated brilliantly by Aristotle in the fourth
century before Christ.It is simply ingenuous to holdthe view that every
explanation of reality has to be made solely according to known
scientific criteria.This understanding of the comprehensiveness of
science has been abandoned by most scientists today. Science has its
legitimate place in human understanding; it also has its limitations.To
dismiss explanations which are beyond the scope of science is to be
obtuse and also unscientific.Arguments, such as those advanced by our
good doctor are precisely those which led to massive human tragedies in
the very recent past.Nazi doctors and biologists advanced the view (like
our good doctor is doing) that human embryos are not ?persons.? This led
to the widespread practice of eugenics which was calculated to eliminate
?undesirable? elements from the glorious ?Vaterland? which the Nazis
were endeavouring to build.From genetic ?engineering? they proceeded to
physically eliminate adult persons (?) who had particular traits ?
physical, racial, cultural or intellectual - which did not conform to
their own specifications. Human ?beings? were not recognized as
?persons? because they did not fit into the politico-scientific
definition of Nazism. The criteria were defined by the reigning
political philosophy, and the social and human consequences which
followed, is history . . . as the common expression has it.

Our good doctorwould do well to study some history, if he is not
overly-absorbed in his medical sciences, to see whether his ?scientific
perspective? is the only valid perspective on the question of whether a
humanembryo is a ?person? or a mere aggregate of cells. He could not do
worse than examine, objectively and dispassionately, the claim by
philosophers and ethicists that an human embryo is sacred and
inviolable, and should never be, for whatever reason, treated as
?something?insteadof?someone.? Science may not yet have definitively
established the exact stage at which the embryo becomes a person,but
that the embryo, undeniably,is a potentialperson should cause every
doctor to be extremely cautious about how s/he treats the human embryo.
Embryology as a science is itself only in its embryonic stage.It would
be crass and extremely unwise to presume that doctors have found
explanationsfor everything in the universe.As it is, we can
whole-heartedly agree with Ivan Illich who asserts that ?The medical
establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact
of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an
epidemic.? (Limits to Medicine, Penguin Books, 1976).In discussions of
this nature, there is, all too often, evidence of arrogance on the part
of the ?professionals? who think that they know more than everyone
else.They tend, maybe unwittingly, to be condescending and patronizing
in their responses to perfectly legitimate questions.This does not augur
well for healthy debate and for the enlightenment of those who are not
as well instructed as themselves in scientific matters.


Averthanus L. D?Souza
Dona Paula, Goa
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-05 20:20:35 UTC
Permalink
Folks, Averthanus and Dr Santosh,

Step aside and please welcome the dolphins!
http://www.theweek.com/article/index/104684/Are_dolphins_people_too

PS: I am all for animal rights too. Don't be biased against them!
Post by Averthanus
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.
An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
--
Frederick Noronha

Columnist :: journalism
editing :: alt.publishing
photography :: blogging
Santosh Helekar
2010-01-06 07:52:51 UTC
Permalink
The post appended below commits many gaping blunders on the issue of personhood, in paraphrasing what I have stated in this forum and elsewhere, and the context in which I have stated it. Let me just enumerate them below.

1. The said post conveniently fails to mention that my objections were directed solely against the following original statement of its author on Goanet:

"The vast majority of medical opinion holds that a human embryo or foetus is a distinct human person. This should be obvious to anyone with common sense."
....Shri A. L. D'Souza

Please see my earlier post at:

http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2009-December/187686.html

So it was not me, but the author in question who invoked what he believed to be the wisdom of medical professionals and medical science to support what he calls his "philosophy". And now he wants you to believe that "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health", after finding out from me that medical science does not support his "philosophical" statement, after all.

If he had not made the bogus claim about the definition of "human person" on behalf of the vast majority of medical professionals, and had said instead that it was simply his religious belief or his "philosophy", I would have had no problem with his statement.
One argument advanced the view that a human being is not a ?person? until >some time after birth.
This is false. I stated that a fetus at some stage in gestation (perhaps, around 22 weeks) is likely to satisfy the neuroscientific definition of a person.
He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these two cases >represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not entirely fit >into his own definition.
False. I clearly indicated that Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking possessed full personhood.
According to this absurd logic, if the patient dies without regaining >consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not kill a ?person?but >that he merely destroyed a human being.This is consistent with the claim >that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not constitute murder.
False. In the above, the political campaign tactic of misplaced extrapolation and demonization is being used. I have clearly stated that science has nothing to do with defining murder, and that in secular law the definition of murder is not necessarily tied to the definition of personhood, as is clear from the fact that killing of soldiers and innocent bystanders in war, killing in self-defense and judicial executions are not considered murders.

BTW, the legal definition of murder is unlawful killing of a human being, not person. Please see the quote and link below:

QUOTE
The US Code, at Title 18, defines murder as:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
UNQUOTE

http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/M/Murder.aspx
The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had >developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser >primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.
Chimpanzees are not lesser primates.
Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would qualify to be >described as a ?human? being.
False. I have already stated that a human being is an animal belonging to the genus Homo.

7. The said post contains utterly confused assertions about intelligence, which as nothing to do with personhood from a scientific, or for that matter, philosophical standpoint. According to modern philosophy, a person is a self-conscious being.

8. There is also a confusion between the definition of "human" and the definition of "person". A self-conscious being does not have to be human.

9. A totally irrelevant argument about limitations of science is presented while conceding my scientific argument, but ignoring the fact that my objection in its entirety had to do with science in the first place. I have no problem with the supernatural or metaphysical beliefs of other people.

10. The Nazis are invoked to demonize people who disagree with the author's view. I wonder what the Jews would have to say about this, because according to their religion a baby becomes a full human life only at the time of birth, and they support embryonic stem cell research and abortion for medical reasons.

11. Finally, self-perceived arrogance and condescension in my candid responses are generalized to indict the entire medical community, and a sense of despair is expressed for not being able to engage in a healthy debate because of them.

I guess comparing us with the Nazis and murderers is more conducive to a healthy debate.

Cheers,

Santosh

P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to write something on it when I have some free time.
The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of
whether an embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One
argument advanced the view that a human being is not a
?person? until some time after birth.The contributor
(presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an
awareness of the world around him, and who freely exercises
his will.
Averthanus
2010-01-05 06:55:02 UTC
Permalink
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.

An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
pregnancies arbitrarily,evoked a very interesting and vigorous
discussion on the internet.The women in question have appealed to the
European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Irish Constitution
violates their human rights because it does not provide themwith the
facilities toterminate their pregnancies.Some of the opinions expressed
in the internet discussion were totally irrelevant; some others
(particularly by one contributor) were juvenile and snide.These can
safely be ignored because they only confuse the issue.

The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of whether an
embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One argument advanced the view
that a human being is not a ?person? until some time after birth.The
contributor (presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an awareness of
the world around him, and who freely exercises his will.When confronted
with the specific cases of Christopher Reeve who became a quadriplegic
due to a riding accident, and that of the well known physicist Stephen
Hawkin who has lost total control of his bodily functions because of a
motor neurone disease,he argued that both these cases did not invalidate
his argument because they could both speak and couldcommunicate with the
world around them.He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these
two cases represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not
entirely fit into his own definition.

This doctor, however, made his basic argument clearer when, in response
to the question ofwhether a human being who is in acoma and has no self
consciousness or awareness of his surroundings, and who has no control
over his own physiological functions, and is certainly unable to
exercise his will is still a person, responded that: ?He loses his
personhood.?(N.B.) He went on to inform us that:?The latest developments
in neuroscience indicate that personhood is a dynamic state continuously
created every waking moment.? (sic). Interestingly (but consistently),
this good doctor also asserted that an Alzheimer?s patient,in severe
cases, ceases to be a ?person.?

We have finally arrived at the basic assumptions from which our good
doctor proceeds.The definition of a person by his neurological functions
is the queerest argument that hasever been propounded.It is like saying
that an aeroplane is an aeroplane because it flies.This means that if it
is grounded, it is no longer an aeroplane;or again, it is like saying
that a gun is a gun because it shoots, which means that if it is locked
up in a gun cabinet, it is no longer a gun.By the weirdesttwist of
logic, we are asked to accept the argument that personhood is a kind
of?on again?/ ?off again?phenomenon; that under certain circumstances we
are persons and under other circumstances we are not persons.By this
weird logic, if a human being is undergoing surgery under general
anaesthesia (when he is not conscious and cannot exercise his will
freely), he is not a person, and the surgeon is merely operating on a
chunk of human flesh. According to thisabsurd logic, if the patient dies
without regaining consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not
kill a ?person?but that he merely destroyed a human being.This is
consistent with the claim that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not
constitute murder.

The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had
developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser
primates, such as baboonsand chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.According to his argument it appears that ?personhood? can be
quantified and therefore measured in animals.The doctor does not favour
us with any detailsof when a gorilla or a baboon can be said to be a
full person.Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would
qualify to be described as a ?human? being.He only asserts that:
?Indeed, in most developed countries, the new knowledge is already
leading to the enactment of new laws to treat the great apes and other
primates as persons.?(sic).It is widely recognized, even though,
perhaps,not adequately articulated, that when we attribute
?intelligence? to animals, this is done only in ananalogical manner.The
common man speaks of horses being ?more intelligent? than dogs; or of
elephants being more intelligent than horses. We often hear that whales
and dolphins are far more intelligent than horses and primates.Even
aboutdomestic animals, there is much discussion on whether a Doberman
Pinscher is as ?intelligent?as a Labrador or a German Shepherd.In all
common parlance, it is implicitly admitted, that the term ?intelligence?
which is attributed to animals is not used in the same sensein which it
is attributed to human beings.To take this analogy even further, we
attribute intelligence even to insects such as ants and bees, because
they exhibit extremely intricate and complex social
organizations.Zoologists and biologists have not yet exhausted their
search of these ?intelligent? creatures.Our good doctorseems to overlook
the fact that the study of?Primates?is still a study of ?Primates? and
not of ?humans.?The distinction between primates and humans remains
clear and recognizable.To cite primatologists in support of his
argumentdenying that ?personhood? is the exclusive preserve of human
beings, therefore, is simply inane and totally unconvincing.

Which brings us to the argument that the concept of ?personhood? is
derived, not from science, but from Philosophy.We shall gladly concede
his argument on this point.There are realities which are much, much
beyond the domain of Science(note that Science is spelt with a capital
S). Every intelligent pursuer of truth recognizes this fact.The
discipline of Metaphysics (which means ?meta?=beyond +
?physica?=physics) was elaborated brilliantly by Aristotle in the fourth
century before Christ.It is simply ingenuous to holdthe view that every
explanation of reality has to be made solely according to known
scientific criteria.This understanding of the comprehensiveness of
science has been abandoned by most scientists today. Science has its
legitimate place in human understanding; it also has its limitations.To
dismiss explanations which are beyond the scope of science is to be
obtuse and also unscientific.Arguments, such as those advanced by our
good doctor are precisely those which led to massive human tragedies in
the very recent past.Nazi doctors and biologists advanced the view (like
our good doctor is doing) that human embryos are not ?persons.? This led
to the widespread practice of eugenics which was calculated to eliminate
?undesirable? elements from the glorious ?Vaterland? which the Nazis
were endeavouring to build.From genetic ?engineering? they proceeded to
physically eliminate adult persons (?) who had particular traits ?
physical, racial, cultural or intellectual - which did not conform to
their own specifications. Human ?beings? were not recognized as
?persons? because they did not fit into the politico-scientific
definition of Nazism. The criteria were defined by the reigning
political philosophy, and the social and human consequences which
followed, is history . . . as the common expression has it.

Our good doctorwould do well to study some history, if he is not
overly-absorbed in his medical sciences, to see whether his ?scientific
perspective? is the only valid perspective on the question of whether a
humanembryo is a ?person? or a mere aggregate of cells. He could not do
worse than examine, objectively and dispassionately, the claim by
philosophers and ethicists that an human embryo is sacred and
inviolable, and should never be, for whatever reason, treated as
?something?insteadof?someone.? Science may not yet have definitively
established the exact stage at which the embryo becomes a person,but
that the embryo, undeniably,is a potentialperson should cause every
doctor to be extremely cautious about how s/he treats the human embryo.
Embryology as a science is itself only in its embryonic stage.It would
be crass and extremely unwise to presume that doctors have found
explanationsfor everything in the universe.As it is, we can
whole-heartedly agree with Ivan Illich who asserts that ?The medical
establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact
of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an
epidemic.? (Limits to Medicine, Penguin Books, 1976).In discussions of
this nature, there is, all too often, evidence of arrogance on the part
of the ?professionals? who think that they know more than everyone
else.They tend, maybe unwittingly, to be condescending and patronizing
in their responses to perfectly legitimate questions.This does not augur
well for healthy debate and for the enlightenment of those who are not
as well instructed as themselves in scientific matters.


Averthanus L. D?Souza
Dona Paula, Goa
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-05 20:20:35 UTC
Permalink
Folks, Averthanus and Dr Santosh,

Step aside and please welcome the dolphins!
http://www.theweek.com/article/index/104684/Are_dolphins_people_too

PS: I am all for animal rights too. Don't be biased against them!
Post by Averthanus
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.
An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
--
Frederick Noronha

Columnist :: journalism
editing :: alt.publishing
photography :: blogging
Santosh Helekar
2010-01-06 07:52:51 UTC
Permalink
The post appended below commits many gaping blunders on the issue of personhood, in paraphrasing what I have stated in this forum and elsewhere, and the context in which I have stated it. Let me just enumerate them below.

1. The said post conveniently fails to mention that my objections were directed solely against the following original statement of its author on Goanet:

"The vast majority of medical opinion holds that a human embryo or foetus is a distinct human person. This should be obvious to anyone with common sense."
....Shri A. L. D'Souza

Please see my earlier post at:

http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2009-December/187686.html

So it was not me, but the author in question who invoked what he believed to be the wisdom of medical professionals and medical science to support what he calls his "philosophy". And now he wants you to believe that "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health", after finding out from me that medical science does not support his "philosophical" statement, after all.

If he had not made the bogus claim about the definition of "human person" on behalf of the vast majority of medical professionals, and had said instead that it was simply his religious belief or his "philosophy", I would have had no problem with his statement.
One argument advanced the view that a human being is not a ?person? until >some time after birth.
This is false. I stated that a fetus at some stage in gestation (perhaps, around 22 weeks) is likely to satisfy the neuroscientific definition of a person.
He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these two cases >represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not entirely fit >into his own definition.
False. I clearly indicated that Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking possessed full personhood.
According to this absurd logic, if the patient dies without regaining >consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not kill a ?person?but >that he merely destroyed a human being.This is consistent with the claim >that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not constitute murder.
False. In the above, the political campaign tactic of misplaced extrapolation and demonization is being used. I have clearly stated that science has nothing to do with defining murder, and that in secular law the definition of murder is not necessarily tied to the definition of personhood, as is clear from the fact that killing of soldiers and innocent bystanders in war, killing in self-defense and judicial executions are not considered murders.

BTW, the legal definition of murder is unlawful killing of a human being, not person. Please see the quote and link below:

QUOTE
The US Code, at Title 18, defines murder as:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
UNQUOTE

http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/M/Murder.aspx
The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had >developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser >primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.
Chimpanzees are not lesser primates.
Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would qualify to be >described as a ?human? being.
False. I have already stated that a human being is an animal belonging to the genus Homo.

7. The said post contains utterly confused assertions about intelligence, which as nothing to do with personhood from a scientific, or for that matter, philosophical standpoint. According to modern philosophy, a person is a self-conscious being.

8. There is also a confusion between the definition of "human" and the definition of "person". A self-conscious being does not have to be human.

9. A totally irrelevant argument about limitations of science is presented while conceding my scientific argument, but ignoring the fact that my objection in its entirety had to do with science in the first place. I have no problem with the supernatural or metaphysical beliefs of other people.

10. The Nazis are invoked to demonize people who disagree with the author's view. I wonder what the Jews would have to say about this, because according to their religion a baby becomes a full human life only at the time of birth, and they support embryonic stem cell research and abortion for medical reasons.

11. Finally, self-perceived arrogance and condescension in my candid responses are generalized to indict the entire medical community, and a sense of despair is expressed for not being able to engage in a healthy debate because of them.

I guess comparing us with the Nazis and murderers is more conducive to a healthy debate.

Cheers,

Santosh

P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to write something on it when I have some free time.
The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of
whether an embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One
argument advanced the view that a human being is not a
?person? until some time after birth.The contributor
(presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an
awareness of the world around him, and who freely exercises
his will.
Averthanus
2010-01-05 06:55:02 UTC
Permalink
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.

An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
pregnancies arbitrarily,evoked a very interesting and vigorous
discussion on the internet.The women in question have appealed to the
European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Irish Constitution
violates their human rights because it does not provide themwith the
facilities toterminate their pregnancies.Some of the opinions expressed
in the internet discussion were totally irrelevant; some others
(particularly by one contributor) were juvenile and snide.These can
safely be ignored because they only confuse the issue.

The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of whether an
embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One argument advanced the view
that a human being is not a ?person? until some time after birth.The
contributor (presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an awareness of
the world around him, and who freely exercises his will.When confronted
with the specific cases of Christopher Reeve who became a quadriplegic
due to a riding accident, and that of the well known physicist Stephen
Hawkin who has lost total control of his bodily functions because of a
motor neurone disease,he argued that both these cases did not invalidate
his argument because they could both speak and couldcommunicate with the
world around them.He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these
two cases represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not
entirely fit into his own definition.

This doctor, however, made his basic argument clearer when, in response
to the question ofwhether a human being who is in acoma and has no self
consciousness or awareness of his surroundings, and who has no control
over his own physiological functions, and is certainly unable to
exercise his will is still a person, responded that: ?He loses his
personhood.?(N.B.) He went on to inform us that:?The latest developments
in neuroscience indicate that personhood is a dynamic state continuously
created every waking moment.? (sic). Interestingly (but consistently),
this good doctor also asserted that an Alzheimer?s patient,in severe
cases, ceases to be a ?person.?

We have finally arrived at the basic assumptions from which our good
doctor proceeds.The definition of a person by his neurological functions
is the queerest argument that hasever been propounded.It is like saying
that an aeroplane is an aeroplane because it flies.This means that if it
is grounded, it is no longer an aeroplane;or again, it is like saying
that a gun is a gun because it shoots, which means that if it is locked
up in a gun cabinet, it is no longer a gun.By the weirdesttwist of
logic, we are asked to accept the argument that personhood is a kind
of?on again?/ ?off again?phenomenon; that under certain circumstances we
are persons and under other circumstances we are not persons.By this
weird logic, if a human being is undergoing surgery under general
anaesthesia (when he is not conscious and cannot exercise his will
freely), he is not a person, and the surgeon is merely operating on a
chunk of human flesh. According to thisabsurd logic, if the patient dies
without regaining consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not
kill a ?person?but that he merely destroyed a human being.This is
consistent with the claim that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not
constitute murder.

The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had
developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser
primates, such as baboonsand chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.According to his argument it appears that ?personhood? can be
quantified and therefore measured in animals.The doctor does not favour
us with any detailsof when a gorilla or a baboon can be said to be a
full person.Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would
qualify to be described as a ?human? being.He only asserts that:
?Indeed, in most developed countries, the new knowledge is already
leading to the enactment of new laws to treat the great apes and other
primates as persons.?(sic).It is widely recognized, even though,
perhaps,not adequately articulated, that when we attribute
?intelligence? to animals, this is done only in ananalogical manner.The
common man speaks of horses being ?more intelligent? than dogs; or of
elephants being more intelligent than horses. We often hear that whales
and dolphins are far more intelligent than horses and primates.Even
aboutdomestic animals, there is much discussion on whether a Doberman
Pinscher is as ?intelligent?as a Labrador or a German Shepherd.In all
common parlance, it is implicitly admitted, that the term ?intelligence?
which is attributed to animals is not used in the same sensein which it
is attributed to human beings.To take this analogy even further, we
attribute intelligence even to insects such as ants and bees, because
they exhibit extremely intricate and complex social
organizations.Zoologists and biologists have not yet exhausted their
search of these ?intelligent? creatures.Our good doctorseems to overlook
the fact that the study of?Primates?is still a study of ?Primates? and
not of ?humans.?The distinction between primates and humans remains
clear and recognizable.To cite primatologists in support of his
argumentdenying that ?personhood? is the exclusive preserve of human
beings, therefore, is simply inane and totally unconvincing.

Which brings us to the argument that the concept of ?personhood? is
derived, not from science, but from Philosophy.We shall gladly concede
his argument on this point.There are realities which are much, much
beyond the domain of Science(note that Science is spelt with a capital
S). Every intelligent pursuer of truth recognizes this fact.The
discipline of Metaphysics (which means ?meta?=beyond +
?physica?=physics) was elaborated brilliantly by Aristotle in the fourth
century before Christ.It is simply ingenuous to holdthe view that every
explanation of reality has to be made solely according to known
scientific criteria.This understanding of the comprehensiveness of
science has been abandoned by most scientists today. Science has its
legitimate place in human understanding; it also has its limitations.To
dismiss explanations which are beyond the scope of science is to be
obtuse and also unscientific.Arguments, such as those advanced by our
good doctor are precisely those which led to massive human tragedies in
the very recent past.Nazi doctors and biologists advanced the view (like
our good doctor is doing) that human embryos are not ?persons.? This led
to the widespread practice of eugenics which was calculated to eliminate
?undesirable? elements from the glorious ?Vaterland? which the Nazis
were endeavouring to build.From genetic ?engineering? they proceeded to
physically eliminate adult persons (?) who had particular traits ?
physical, racial, cultural or intellectual - which did not conform to
their own specifications. Human ?beings? were not recognized as
?persons? because they did not fit into the politico-scientific
definition of Nazism. The criteria were defined by the reigning
political philosophy, and the social and human consequences which
followed, is history . . . as the common expression has it.

Our good doctorwould do well to study some history, if he is not
overly-absorbed in his medical sciences, to see whether his ?scientific
perspective? is the only valid perspective on the question of whether a
humanembryo is a ?person? or a mere aggregate of cells. He could not do
worse than examine, objectively and dispassionately, the claim by
philosophers and ethicists that an human embryo is sacred and
inviolable, and should never be, for whatever reason, treated as
?something?insteadof?someone.? Science may not yet have definitively
established the exact stage at which the embryo becomes a person,but
that the embryo, undeniably,is a potentialperson should cause every
doctor to be extremely cautious about how s/he treats the human embryo.
Embryology as a science is itself only in its embryonic stage.It would
be crass and extremely unwise to presume that doctors have found
explanationsfor everything in the universe.As it is, we can
whole-heartedly agree with Ivan Illich who asserts that ?The medical
establishment has become a major threat to health. The disabling impact
of professional control over medicine has reached the proportions of an
epidemic.? (Limits to Medicine, Penguin Books, 1976).In discussions of
this nature, there is, all too often, evidence of arrogance on the part
of the ?professionals? who think that they know more than everyone
else.They tend, maybe unwittingly, to be condescending and patronizing
in their responses to perfectly legitimate questions.This does not augur
well for healthy debate and for the enlightenment of those who are not
as well instructed as themselves in scientific matters.


Averthanus L. D?Souza
Dona Paula, Goa
Frederick Noronha
2010-01-05 20:20:35 UTC
Permalink
Folks, Averthanus and Dr Santosh,

Step aside and please welcome the dolphins!
http://www.theweek.com/article/index/104684/Are_dolphins_people_too

PS: I am all for animal rights too. Don't be biased against them!
Post by Averthanus
HUMAN BEING OR PERSON ?
Averthanus L. D?Souza.
An earlier article ?Is Abortion a Human Right??which questioned the
legitimacy of the claim by some Irish women that their country?s
Constitution should be changed to permit them to terminate their
--
Frederick Noronha

Columnist :: journalism
editing :: alt.publishing
photography :: blogging
Santosh Helekar
2010-01-06 07:52:51 UTC
Permalink
The post appended below commits many gaping blunders on the issue of personhood, in paraphrasing what I have stated in this forum and elsewhere, and the context in which I have stated it. Let me just enumerate them below.

1. The said post conveniently fails to mention that my objections were directed solely against the following original statement of its author on Goanet:

"The vast majority of medical opinion holds that a human embryo or foetus is a distinct human person. This should be obvious to anyone with common sense."
....Shri A. L. D'Souza

Please see my earlier post at:

http://lists.goanet.org/pipermail/goanet-goanet.org/2009-December/187686.html

So it was not me, but the author in question who invoked what he believed to be the wisdom of medical professionals and medical science to support what he calls his "philosophy". And now he wants you to believe that "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health", after finding out from me that medical science does not support his "philosophical" statement, after all.

If he had not made the bogus claim about the definition of "human person" on behalf of the vast majority of medical professionals, and had said instead that it was simply his religious belief or his "philosophy", I would have had no problem with his statement.
One argument advanced the view that a human being is not a ?person? until >some time after birth.
This is false. I stated that a fetus at some stage in gestation (perhaps, around 22 weeks) is likely to satisfy the neuroscientific definition of a person.
He evaded the pointed question, however, whether these two cases >represented only partial ?personhood? since they did not entirely fit >into his own definition.
False. I clearly indicated that Christopher Reeve and Stephen Hawking possessed full personhood.
According to this absurd logic, if the patient dies without regaining >consciousness, the surgeon can claim that he did not kill a ?person?but >that he merely destroyed a human being.This is consistent with the claim >that destroyingembryos or foetuses does not constitute murder.
False. In the above, the political campaign tactic of misplaced extrapolation and demonization is being used. I have clearly stated that science has nothing to do with defining murder, and that in secular law the definition of murder is not necessarily tied to the definition of personhood, as is clear from the fact that killing of soldiers and innocent bystanders in war, killing in self-defense and judicial executions are not considered murders.

BTW, the legal definition of murder is unlawful killing of a human being, not person. Please see the quote and link below:

QUOTE
The US Code, at Title 18, defines murder as:
"Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought."
UNQUOTE

http://duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/M/Murder.aspx
The good doctor went onto assert that some (higher) primates had >developed ?almost? complete personhood, while some of the lesser >primates, such as baboons and chimpanzees,had acquired ?a great deal? of
personhood.
Chimpanzees are not lesser primates.
Neither does he explain at what stage such an animal would qualify to be >described as a ?human? being.
False. I have already stated that a human being is an animal belonging to the genus Homo.

7. The said post contains utterly confused assertions about intelligence, which as nothing to do with personhood from a scientific, or for that matter, philosophical standpoint. According to modern philosophy, a person is a self-conscious being.

8. There is also a confusion between the definition of "human" and the definition of "person". A self-conscious being does not have to be human.

9. A totally irrelevant argument about limitations of science is presented while conceding my scientific argument, but ignoring the fact that my objection in its entirety had to do with science in the first place. I have no problem with the supernatural or metaphysical beliefs of other people.

10. The Nazis are invoked to demonize people who disagree with the author's view. I wonder what the Jews would have to say about this, because according to their religion a baby becomes a full human life only at the time of birth, and they support embryonic stem cell research and abortion for medical reasons.

11. Finally, self-perceived arrogance and condescension in my candid responses are generalized to indict the entire medical community, and a sense of despair is expressed for not being able to engage in a healthy debate because of them.

I guess comparing us with the Nazis and murderers is more conducive to a healthy debate.

Cheers,

Santosh

P.S. BTW, I know a little bit about the history of ideas regarding personhood, and how modern philosophers and medical ethicists view that question. I will try to write something on it when I have some free time.
The discussion (rightly)focused on the vital question of
whether an embryo or a foetus was a person or not.One
argument advanced the view that a human being is not a
?person? until some time after birth.The contributor
(presumably a medical doctor) contended that a person is a
human who is fully (please note)self conscious, who has an
awareness of the world around him, and who freely exercises
his will.
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