Is Biology or Personality the Essential Ingredient
The Vatican has opened a Pandora's box that won't be closed until society answers a fundamental question: Is biology or personality the essential ingredient of valuable human life? Rome says biology.
Society increasingly says personality. The question is not new, but the debate is ratcheted up makeup pandora charm several notches by the promulgation pandora bracklet of the Roman Catholic Church's statement of doctrine, "Respect for Human Life in Its Origins and on the Dignity of Procreation."
The biological model holds that every manifestation of Homo sapiens is of intrinsic worth. Therefore the Vatican speaks of the embryo as "the unborn child" who "must be cared for, to the extent possible, in the same way as any other human being as far as medical assistance is concerned."
The Vatican is unflinchingly consistent in reasoning that the embryo "must be treated as a person." Even in vitro fertilization, which utilizes the husband's sperm, is banned because, among other objections, unused embryos might be used for experimentation or destroyed outright. The incapacity of one out of five couples to procreate is lamented but is no excuse for sinning against the natural, hence moral, method of human reproduction.
The personality model argues that the essence of being human is not genetic composition but uniquely personal capacities for example, the capacity for rational creativity. Thus the more artificially procreation is done, the more "human" it is because it involves personal creativity.
The personality model draws a fundamental distinction between mere human being and valuable personal being. All humans are not personal, and all persons are not human. Individuals in a permanent coma are undeniably human, but questionably personal; "ET" is an engaging little pandora jewels person, but surely is not human.
Persons are defined as individuals who are capable of self awareness, rational choice, loving and being loved. An embryo does not possess these capacities; neither does a fetus, nor for that matter a newborn. Those who advocate personhood criteria for determining valuable life are liberal regarding abortion and non treatment of severely handicapped newborns; however, they are the first to contend for animal liberation particularly the right to life of dolphins, whales and primates.
Neither position takes its case to a logical, if extreme, conclusion. The Vatican gives weight to humanhood, but it does not conclude that medical science should attempt to arrest the high rate (over 50%) of spontaneous abortions of embryos, and thus potentially save millions of lives. Philosopher Michael Tooley, a leading advocate of personhood, argues that infanticide is intrinsically moral but, because of untoward social consequences, unwise.
The question is not one of absolute rightness, but of weighting. And such weighting in a democracy is determined by neither Pope nor philosopher, but by a people's collective experiencing of and thinking about human life. The church is to be praised for putting a long simmering discussion on the front burner. Indeed, legislation is needed to keep technology in place, but the contours of the legislation must emerge from public discussion.
An appropriate social policy in a pluralistic, non sectarian state is neither a thoroughgoing biological nor a personal model of a human being, but a reasonable compromise. A basic reasonableness suggests two important standards determining the value of early human life: potentiality and proximity derived cheap pandora australia from the biological and personal models, respectively.
Potentiality suggests that the human conceptus is not just any tissue, but is uniquely endowed with the potential of attaining full human status if nature takes its normal course. In one sense all humans are merely potential persons, for no one has achieved his or her ideal potential; the embryo is merely the weakest of the weak. As such, it could be argued that the conceptus deserves the protection of law, just as the law now protects other classes that have faced discrimination at the hands of the strong slaves, foreigners, blacks, women. The civility of a society may be determined by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable members. (The norm in Western countries that are involved in embryo research is to limit invasive procedures to subjects fewer than 14 days old.
Proximity means that the embryo fetus is a person in the process of becoming, and the greater the approximation of personhood, the greater its value. Proximity grants the potential of the newly fertilized single cell zygote but distinguishes between its value and the value of a mature human person. The difference is so significant that most reasonable persons do not believe that the right of a conceptus to life is as weighty as the right of a woman to take a morning after pill.
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