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I have come up with a new argument for abortion, and I was wondering if anyone would rebut it for me. I am defining morality as whatever is best for society (feel free to take issue with this too).
The argument against abortion compares it to murder, so this argument will explore the differences between abortions and murder. There are three main reasons that murder is immoral:
1. The dead person's contribution to society: most people contribute to society, so killing a random person will eliminate their further contributions and be bad for society.
2. A general sense of security: if the law allows anyone to kill anyone, people will be scared and waste time defending themselves, decreasing productivity, and being bad for society.
3. Interpersonal connections: a person builds connections in their life, and killing one person will have damaging effects on those that they have made connections with.
Now it will be explained how abortion is different in these three points.
1. The never to be born person's contribution to society: although it is likely the person would have contributed had they been alive, it is possible they would have had a negative contribution had they been a criminal. However, not allowing them to be born means a definite contribution to society by reducing the population, and contributing to stem cell research (although the second one will not be always be a contribution, when research is no longer needed).
2. A general sense of security: if only non-self aware fetuses are killed, then the people who would have been affected by a lack of security are not threatened, and do not lose their sense of security.
3. Interpersonal connections: the only people that are connected to the fetus are the ones who have decided that their need to get pregnant is more important to them than their want to keep their child alive, meaning that it is probably better for them for the child to die than to survive.

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    Jul 5 2011: You are essentially making a utilitarian argument. In fact, your method of calculating value to society sounds almost exactly like Jeremy Bentham's calculations of utility. John Rawls and Daniel Dennett have both offered rigorous critiques of utilitarian methods, which is probably a fine place to start when considering the consequences of implementing this idea. Since this is an old idea there is a ton of material hashing out its variations.

    On question that came to my mind after reading this is, who else can we kill with this argument? Can your argument apply to the mentally disabled? Can we institute a eugenics program based on contributions to society? Do individual rights figure into your calculations at all?
    • Jul 7 2011: well i have not had time to look into those critiques you mentioned yet, although i will as soon as i can and will comment about them then. however, as for your questions, eugenics programs for the mentally disabled and all already existing people would not be immoral for the first listed reason, but would be for the second two; sense of security, and interpersonal connections. the difference is that people would not feel personally threatened by abortions as they have already passed the stage where their "murder" would be acceptable, and the only personal connections they have are most likely outweighed by the burden they would place on the unprepared mother and father.
    • Jul 7 2011: oh, and as for individual rights, part of contribution to society is improving one's own quality of life, as one is a part of society. this does put a hole in my argument though, so allow me to readjust it: if a mother wants to abort her baby, in most cases it means that she cannot fully support it. we have to consider quality of life; it is better to use our resources to help babies who were raised in fully functioning families rather than helping those who will probably end up uneducated and possibly criminal due to their likely inadequate upbringing.
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    Jul 8 2011: What happens when technology will be able to let us take a flake of skin, which we hardly remorse over when it has shed, and from that sample to develop a complete organism? Skin will become a seed of life too.
    The argument from religious conservatives is nauseating and such people should remain isolated from life decisions which have not effect on theirs.
    On the other hand, cases where women make a trend out of the thing, quite rare, is highly immoral. Who's job is it to lay down the law on her? Who sees the inherent contradiction yet in the freedom of individuality?
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    Jul 8 2011: All the laws in our society are customized to human selfish motives. I am strongly against abortion, can someone please explain us the difference between aborting a 7 month old baby who is in mothers womb and a killing a 7 month old prematurely born baby who has just spent 30 seconds in this world, the first one will qualify as abortion and second one will be a murder why so? Because humans have the selfish motives to serve vested interest, its high time we change the rules of the game across the globe.
    • Jul 8 2011: To say that "All the laws in our society are customized to human selfish motives" is a bit simplistic in my view. However, you have a completely valid argument regarding abortion Kunal. Even though your comment is far from politically correct, I believe you hit this issue right on the head. The issue is about human value. There are those that believe it is intrinsic, while others believe it is simply relative, and determined by others.
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        Jul 11 2011: Thanks Jim, but I always believe that thought experiments’ should focus more on generals which affect life of millions and not on exceptions to prove a particular point.
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        Jul 12 2011: Jim, if you see the breakup of reasons given by women for aborting the child your reason doesn’t feature in the top 90%, your thought experiment would only cover 2.8% of women which abort the child for her health related issues whereas majority abort as they want to postpone childbearing.
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    Jul 5 2011: I would not agree that morality is "whatever is best for society". Who defines society? A group of people, how many? do they need to be organized? do they need to share a written language? Are two people on a deserted island with no hope of rescue a society?

    Who determines what is best? Smaller population would not be viewed as a benefit to Cold War USSR, and it would be foolish to assume we know the absolute truth in our current state.
    • Jul 7 2011: i agree that it is a wishy-washy definition because not everyone agrees on who and what should be included in society, and because of this, most people have different definitions of society. I personally would define society as every living thing on earth, but this could obviously be innacurate if people in the future have contact with life on other planets. anyways, i understand its not a perfect definition, but maybe you could provide me with a better one?
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        Jul 9 2011: I don't think there is a good constant definition of society, but defining society isn't important to my position on abortion. Because my position does not balance on a particular definition of society it is a stronger position.
    • Jul 7 2011: also, as for your last question, it is a good point. we can't know for sure what is best, however, we can use logic and working together to try to find what is close enough to best. if your philosophy of not doing anything because no one knows for sure what is the best thing to do was applied to all of society, government would collapse and anarchy would ensue, as no one could trust anyone else to make the right decision.
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        Jul 9 2011: I'm not saying "don't do anything no one can be certain which is right" but I also don't see population (something you use to justify abortion) as a problem like you do.
        even if I did
        I am more for preventing pregnancies before terminating them.

        Applying my (assumed) philosophy to the whole world could result in tragedy, but that is why we must pick and choose how to solve different issues (there is not one answer to everything)
        for example sometimes I can't pick between green or black tea, in that instance I flip a coin... now try applying a coin flip solution to everything... what a MESS!
  • Jul 5 2011: Is it fair to summarize your moral stance as this: "The value of a human life is determined by what/how he/she can contribute to society"?
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      Jul 5 2011: I agree with your sentiment here Steve. When building a stance around abortion, we should focus on what is rather than what could be.
    • Jul 6 2011: Yes, that would be how i would describe my moral stance, but don't forget that part of contribution to society is improving one's own quality of life, as one is a part of society.
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    Jul 6 2011: Interesting that there are only men weighing in on this conversation...

    The argument for abortion is this:

    If a womyn (yes, womyn) does not want to have a child in existence, she certainly isn't likely to want to carry it to term. As carrying it to term would involve living for two and thus being responsible for two. On the rare occasion a womyn is actually willing to carry a baby to term in order to put it up for adoption, or bequeath the baby to someone who will actually care for it, then clearly abortion is not necessary. But if a womyn does not want a child, she should a) be more responsible about not having one if the sex was consensual and b) not have it. A child that is unloved/uncared for is probably the main reason society is such a mess today anyway.

    Men factor in should a man want the baby and a womyn not want the baby. To this I say a) Men, know the integrity, morals, preferences and characteristics of the womyn you're having unprotected sex with or b) adopt a baby to make up for the lack of experience you were allowed with the offspring aborted.

    At the end of the day, people's obsession with keeping their "family line" alive is probably the main reason there are so many unhappy families. Wanting to be "immortal" through genetic coding is a) NOT a justifiable reason to create a person via baby (because ultimately they are their own person ya know), b) UNNECESSARY as we are one species and we all carry on each others genetic coding anyway and c) there are plenty of alive people to adopt should you really want to "influence" a young person's existence.
    • Jul 7 2011: ok good points, but i was wondering if you took issue with any of the arguments listed above. do you?
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        Jul 7 2011: Well the theory you posit is gratuitously based on SPECULATION, so unless I too want to speculate I can't really respond. However...

        Your Point 1: Sure, Hitler might have never been born if his mom got an abortion. Same with Anne Boleyn...but what is the point of speculating about that? The people who are born are born and the people who aren't born are not.

        Further, as someone pursuing a career in Criminal Rehabilitation (1 in 99 people in the US are imprisoned by the way), it seems to me you're arguing against society and populations in general.

        Your Point 2: In terms of "security," the law does allow people to kill others. It's called War and it is applauded and celebrated by the majority of societies on this Earth.

        Your Point 3: You'll really have to clarify, because I'm confused by this point entirely.

        Lastly, any theory about abortion that does not include the express right of choice by the womyn involved in the potential birthing process is not a theory that I can much respect as a womyn who believes in ABSOLUTE right to my own body and bodily functions.
        • Jul 7 2011: 1: i'm saying that if a mother wants to get an abortion, it is more likely that the baby will turn out a criminal than a contributer to society. however, this is just speculation; i have no proof of this

          2: sorry, i didn't clarify; i was reffering to homicide within a society, not between societies, and although i don't agree with war when it is unprovoked, it is sometimes necessary for a society to defend itself, and this may very well require war.

          3: sorry again. the point is that if someone is murdered well into their life, everyone who knows that person well will be made very unhappy, and may even be scarred for life. this scarring and grieving decreases each affected person's contribution to society, possibly for their whole life, but at least temporarily.
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        Jul 7 2011: Don't you think your clarification for Point 2 and your clarification for Point 3 contradict each other?

        And while I doubt a baby whose mother wanted to abort it would have a happy time in the womb, I hardly think a child's future is dependent on the nature of their delivery onto this planet.
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    Jul 5 2011: I think when dealing with the abortion issue, we should abolish hindsight arguments and talk about the things that actually matter. The "you've just killed Beethoven riddle", apart from being a lie (Beethoven was the 2nd oldest child and his parents didn't have syphilis) is a massive joke, it's designed for people who think with their emotions rather than their head.