Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Saturday, October 30, 2004

How Should We Think of Early Embryos?

I have encountered some skepticism about whether an embryo immediately after conception should be regarded as a separate human being. On one hand, it is preposterous to think that a fetus is an inanimate object a minute before birth but a full human being a minute after birth. On the other hand, some people cannot believe that a single cell can have rights. On the gripping hand, there is no clear dividing line.

The question of whether a fetus is a human being can be divided into two separate questions:

  1. Is the embryo part of a human body?

    The answer is clearly yes.

  2. Which body?

    This is less clear. Fuzzy logic might be appropriate. You can think of the mother and child as two different beings with a fuzzy boundary in space–time. If you cannot believe that an embryo 1 second after conception is not a separate human being but an infant 23 million seconds later is a separate human being then maybe the embryo could be considered 1/23,000,000 part of a human.

    In that case, it would clearly be inexcusable to destroy over 23,000,000 one-second embryos.


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