Defining Human - pt. 1

Geoff Smith (
Mon, 9 Mar 1998 17:53:23 -0800

Reilly Jones wrote:

> AS: <I find genetics a piss-poor criterion for personhood.
> any objective criterion I can think of (e.g. the Turing Test) is fuzzy,
> the right to life is binary.>
> I have never claimed that genetics is a criterion for personhood. The
> moment the self begins to develop is what defines human.

Maybe you consider this question trivial, but how exactly do you know when
the self begins to develop? What does that mean and why does it grant
rights? Wouldn't you say that the crossing over of the chromosomes during
meiosis of the ova (which occurs *before* contact with spermatazoa) is the
beginning of self-development? What about if a spermatazoa is partway into
the ovum? What if you abort an embryo that you know cannot develop past
the size of a couple thousand cells, are you still killing a "developing
self"? It seems to me you're trying to convince list-members that an
arbitary decision such as what defines human (and therefore what defines
murder) is obvious and concrete(or at least the evolutionary advantages of
a legal system that makes this decision is obvious and concrete). I'm a
little puzzled by your view, especially considering the logical nature of
most of your other writings.

I have one more question that might shed some light on your view: Say you
have an ovum that has just been fertilized... it has yet to divide. It is
also the perfect vehicle for cloning, so you to decide suck out the genetic
material, and insert your own.(lets just assume that this can be done, I
have a feeling it can) Is this murder?