At 17:15 03/16/99 , Tim Hruby wrote:
>However, I think Eliezer is wrong in assuming (or purposefully framing) the
>abortion question around "sentience." Many people frame the question as
>one of "having a soul."
Well, those are the non-sentient ones, that's the point... :-)
> Many others think the reasonable question is
>"potential for sentience/intelligence/humanity" (after all, a newborn human
>is much less sentient than my cat).
Exactly. Potentially sentient entities should have potential rights, real entities-real rights. I could claim that every fertile woman who passes by is a potential for carrying my sentient offspring, and she would commit a crime if she refuses to do everything possible to bring this potentiality into existence.
Of course, a fetus is less intelligent, sensitive, purposeful, coordinated, etc. than a cat or even a frog. It takes a real idiot to go against all reason and claim that this blob of flesh that can later turn into a sentient human if given proper food and education (*everything* can be turned into a sentient human with proper addition of matter and knowledge) is somehow "sacred" just because of this fact or because it looks somewhat like a human.
But then, of course, a newborn baby is also inferior to a cat, so rationally, getting rid of them is ethically no worse than killing a cow - right? And then, there are mentally retarded folk who will never turn into anything sentient... But that's really different... right?