His casuistry is dense and tangential (what does the manufacture of human-animal chimeras have to do with the mundane observation that a baby in the womb is human?) ...Egnor has argued, it seems, that there is something inherently different about Homo sapiens compared to other animals, that Homo sapiens from the moment of conception have the natural potential to be fully human and therefore should be regarded as fully human with the right to life. This not a developed capacity (graded variable) it is a natural capacity that is either present or not (discrete variable). Furthermore, Egnor has argued that this is confirmed as a scientific fact. But we immediately run into a problem; the delineation between species is not discrete but graded and consequently the gradation of natural potential is also not discrete but graded. So hypothetically it is possible to have an individual who is clearly a hominid but whose membership in the species Homo sapien is in question. I want to emphasize that this is not a novel critique of the natural capacity opposition to abortion, though it is one of which some may be unaware. There are two ways out of this as I see it. One, Egnor could claim that he is a committed fruitarian who believes all species have an inherent right to life, in which case I withdraw the critique and applaud Egnor on his internal consistency. Two, Egnor could argue that there is in fact a scientific metric by which we can determine a) the presence of said natural capacity and b) demonstrate that it is a discrete rather than graded variable. This seems to be the tack that Egnor has taken. I am simply curious as to what that scientific metric is.
On to what has become a regular feature of such posts, correcting misrepresentations Egnor has made. Today’s is a doozy:
Regarding another horrendous act of violence, several emphatically pro-abortion scientists -- P.Z. Myers, Joshua Rosenau and Tantalus Prime -- have suggested on their blogs that inflammatory political metaphors may have inspired the recent shootings in Tucson of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen other people.Go ahead and search my blog. I make no reference to Giffords or the Tucson shootings anywhere prior to today’s post. I did not suggest that inflammatory political metaphors may have inspired such an event because I did not believe there was enough evidence at the time to make such a conclusion. But rather than let that stop him, Egnor grabs onto another post I made and asserts I make the suggestion there. Except I didn’t. Go look. I in fact said that arguing about whether or not inflammatory rhetoric was responsible for the Tucson shootings distracted people from a much more obvious case of inflammatory political rhetoric, namely putting an anti-Obama slogan on rifle components. If anything, I was saying the opposite of what Egnor asserts. I have been charitable in the past and ascribed such errors to misunderstandings, but it has happened a few times too often to continue doing so.
In short, you lie.
Now that I find myself in the odd position of defending something I never said (just call me Josef K.) I may as well try since Egnor and his defenders will claim I said it anyway. If I had said such a thing, which I want to reiterate I did not, I might defend those comments thus.
Claiming that humanity is not automatically conferred upon a zygote at the moment of conception provides a moral justification for abortion. It does not however assert that an abortion must occur, nor does it assert the use of any means legal or illegal.
Claiming that citizens need to assert their second amendment rights and feed the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants provides more than just a moral justification for political assassination. It asserts a moral obligation to perform assassination through means legal or illegal.
Egnor is creating a false equivalence. He is also shifting from a moral argument to making a consequentialist argument against abortion. He’ll have to find someone else if he wants to start that sort of debate. That someone performs an illegal act is no reason to make that act illegal under all circumstances.
The Gosnell case isn’t anymore an argument against abortion than do-it-yourself trepanation is an argument against neurosurgery.