[Cz-health-sci] [Czinternal-constable] [Cz-biology] [Cz-philosophy] Abortion article
malangthon at xtra.co.nz
Fri Oct 26 11:48:14 CDT 2007
I have not contributed to the article and will not do so. I speak now not as
Constable but as an author in biology and health science and also lend my
voice as an editor (applied linguistics)--I have analysed a lot of these
things and its over riding inappropriate characteristics standout like a red
My point here: The writer¹s approach to the CZ readers and this forum is
inappropriate and the writer is treating this forum as a legitimate place to
advance a personal point of view while demeaning the opposing view of a very
This has been referred to as course notes. I would say that yes, I have
heard people stand up and take this voice with classes I took at the
undergraduate level, even in high school. Beyond that level the speaker
would get much of it back in his or her teeth. It represents the sort of
thing I would have expected to hear in the 60s and the speaker was working
the students over--"Vietnam is good" or "Vietnam is bad." "We should never
trust out leaders," or "We should always trust out leaders."
The voice is very familiar. It is meant to persuade, even manipulate, rather
than inform. The voice is not appropriate for an encyclopaedia.
This is overwhelmingly not encyclopaedia ready (the fit ain't no good)
PROBLEM: No sources other than the writer. This is an original work that
means to convey the authority of the writer
PROBLEM: The content and the language register have serious issues.
Consider these examples from the text:
- ³1. Wastage: We should not forget the high degree of natural wastage
of eggs and sperm:²
#Who is we?
The writer assumes a group oriented stance in what is an obvious move to
garner group identity and therefore authority within the group of readers.
In other words, the assumption here is "We are together in this, we agree on
these things and I speak as a leader of this group."
This is not an encyclopaedia voice I would expect in the 21st century. More
like the 19th century writers telling us that Israel is a defunct nation
without a home and will be forever more and of course we all know this. The
voice is wrong for this venue and it is in fact a voice that is prohibited
by the guidelines as we will see.
The voice is also meant to provoke and to extend disdain--you are one of us
or you are not. The we¹ voice is a constant in this article.
And what is the purpose of the voice here
- " We should therefore be cautious of moral attitudes which give too much
value to sperm or eggs."
#Why? Whose position is this? Again the writer assumes authority in what is
supposed to be an encyclopaedia article written in the 21st century.
We are now placed in a specific camp. These in this camp accept the
authority of the speaker. Anyone else is not a 'we' and of course does not
have an appropriate view. It is an implied ad hominem. We are being told
what to believe by the writer. Or you are in the wrong group.
The writer makes more such moves
-"It used to be believed that the soul entered the foetus at some stage,"
#Used to be?
- "2. What the Church has Taught"
#I do not see the imprimatur of the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch any
where in this document and since it is without sources, certainly not on any
PROBLEM: This is overwhelmingly an argument for a position rather than an
Under the subheading
³2. What the Church has Taught²
- ³intentional abortion is not mentioned in the Old or New Testaments²
#(i.e. Its absence removes any support claimed from Jewish or Christian
- ³[Augustine] made little distinction between abortion and contraception.
The biological process was not understood, and sperm were seen as ³little
men², the woman¹s role being like that of the fertile soil in the
germination of any other seed.²
#(i.e. Augustine was ultimately an ignorant person as were others of his
age. That ignorance renders that position unreasonable. This hardly subtle
attempt means to discredit the authority of a historically significant
figure in the Roman Catholic Church)
- ³[Aquinas] recognised that there might be values equal to or greater than
the life of the foetus, such as the life or health of the mother.²
#(i.e. Even Aquinas, one of the Great Souls who valued life above all and
gave everything he had, even he accepted the possibility that abortion may
be right. This is also an example of first refuting the authority and
credibility of the opposing position and then using it to bolster the
writers arguments. ³The Church is wrong, but their great Saint on the other
hand agrees with us.²)
- ³Abortion was allowed only by the ³double effect² argument, . . . The
subsequent death of the foetus is an unfortunate, but allowed, side-effect,
so the action was considered morally acceptable.²
#(i.e. A crack in the façade of "The "Church" has been identified. Their
authority and their voice has been compromised. Again this treats the voice
of the opposition with disdain and then does a turnabout and uses it to
support the writer¹s position.)
This is so very clear and so very cliché. What the writer is saying here
(after having foisted upon us the declaration that the section is what "The
Church" has taught while using the implied but non-existent authority to
make such a statement) is that the traditional voices that speak for a
position have been brought down. That other position is without the
underpinnings to proceed with their argument.
This is also continued in the following section mixing the two categories to
some extent and muddying the issue, to wit:
- Roman Catholic Attitudes:
* (a) Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes (1960¹s): personhood is hard to define
for a foetus.
#(Appeal to authority plus "They don't know")
* (b) In 1975, the Congregation of Faith (a body in the Catholic church
which establishes doctrine) said: it cannot be established with certainty
that a person is made at the moment of conception,
#(Appeal to authority plus "They don't know")
* (c) In 1976, the attitude of Vatican II was repeated. Laws allowing
abortion were declared immoral. IUD and the mini-pill were declared
#(Appeal to authority plus "They really don't know" and considering the
antecedents the writer here is also saying, "but they are willing to take a
position without substance as I, the writer define it")
This is diatribe, not encyclopedia.
This continues under the subheading
D. Twentieth Century
- New Understandings: . . . labels such as zygote, embryo, foetus, infant
- New Moral Arguments:
* [A, B & C] are now used by some ethicists to argue for the acceptability
* The moral distinction between born and unborn has been disputed,
* There is a wider vision of the purpose or aims of sexuality; it is not
just about having children.
- New Conclusions: Biomedical science cannot say when a being with the
rights of a human person comes into existence; neither is an answer likely
from Philosophy, Theology or Law.
Into the next section
- "3. The Moral Status of a Foetus: does it have human rights?"
* 1. We feel differently about killing humans and non-humans.
#The line is drawn in the sand, using the comparison here of baboon babies
or human ones
The 'we' voice continues to provide us direction and identity, the
comparisons are meant to show us the error of our ways and the flaws in our
thinking. At this point in 1969 in a university or a high school class I
would have expected the professor or teacher to stand before the class with
arms raised and declare Nixon a vile and evil man to be resisted or, if it
was their counterpart at say, Country Club Christian Church in Prairie
Village, Kansas (not making any of this up) to encourage us to support our
president and to enlist to kill commies for Christ.
PROBLEM: Only one voice (filtered through the writers assumed authority to
represent that voice) speaks for the opposing view. Lest you may have missed
this. The entire argument is made against a straw man identified as ³The
My point (besides the obvious problem of taking issue with this diatribe,
i.e. never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel) is that the writer
is treating the reader as a gullible undergraduate fresh out of high school
and this forum as a legitimate means to advance a very controversial point
of view while degrading the voice of the opposing view of a very specific
It must be extensively re-worked.
On 27/10/07 03:13, "Larry Sanger" <sanger at citizendium.org> wrote:
> Matt Innis has reinstated the article, by editor request.
> Clearly, it needs to be formatted and rendered into encyclopedic form. As it
> stands now, it looks like course notes. For that reason, I've moved the
> article to the talk page: it needs to be formatted and rendered into regular
> prose paragraphs, at the very least, before it can be displayed even as an
> "article in progress."
> I don't actually spot any very obvious bias problems. It looks like excellent
> course notes (I can't tell if they are the teacher's or the student's!) for
> several hours of lecture/discussion about abortion in a philosophy class.
> My opinion, not as editor-in-chief but as someone who has taught the subject
> to college students, is that it's an excellent place to start. But you'd
> really have to know the subject to be able to convert these raw notes into an
> article. That's why I've put the article on the talk page.
> Note that we already have an article that covers medical methods of
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: cz-biology-bounces at mail.citizendium.org
>> [mailto:cz-biology-bounces at mail.citizendium.org] On Behalf Of Diana
>> Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 9:57 AM
>> To: John Hymers; Dr. S N Sarbadhikari
>> Cc: cz-philosophy at voltaire.citizendium.org;
>> cz-biology at voltaire.citizendium.org; John Stephenson;
>> czinternal-constable at voltaire.citizendium.org;
>> cz-health-sci at voltaire.citizendium.org
>> Subject: Re: [Cz-biology] [Cz-health-sci] [Cz-philosophy] Abortion article
>> I'd also like to see it.
>> Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D.
>> National Research Center for Women & Families
>> 1701 K Street, NW, Suite 700
>> Washington, DC 20006
>> (202) 223-4000
>> www.center4research.org <http://www.center4research.org>
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: John Hymers <mailto:hymers at gmail.com>
>>> To: Dr. S N Sarbadhikari <mailto:supten at amrita.edu>
>>> Cc: cz-biology at mail.citizendium.org ; cz-philosophy at mail.citizendium.org ;
>>> John Stephenson <mailto:citizendium at linguistics.org.uk> ;
>>> cz-health-sci at mail.citizendium.org ;
>>> czinternal-constable at mail.citizendium.org
>>> Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 7:53 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [Cz-health-sci] [Cz-philosophy] Abortion article
>>> although i am sure your judgement was correct, i would still love to read
>>> this piece ...
>>> cheers, john
>>> On 10/26/07, Dr. S N Sarbadhikari < supten at amrita.edu
>>> <mailto:supten at amrita.edu> > wrote:
>>>> I agree with Harvey
>>>>> > I don't see why it is necessary to "do" anything with it (except
>>>>> > perhaps
>>>>> > to add citations to referenced philosphers).
>>>>> > The author has done an excellent job of showing both sides, meaning
>>>>> > that
>>>>> > extremists on both sides will be annoyed. There is no way an article on
>>>>> > controversial topic can be written without annoying someone. Let it be.
>>>>> > Harvey
>>>>> > =========================
>>>>> > Harvey S. Frey MD PhD Esq.
>>>>> > hsfrey at harp.org www.harp.org <http://www.harp.org>
>>>>> > =========================
>>>>> > ----- Original Message -----
>>>>> > From: "John Stephenson" < citizendium at linguistics.org.uk
>>>>> <mailto:citizendium at linguistics.org.uk> >
>>>>> > To: <Cz-biology at mail.citizendium.org>;
>>>>> > <Cz-health-sci at mail.citizendium.org
>>>>> <mailto:Cz-health-sci at mail.citizendium.org > >;
>>>>> > <cz-philosophy at mail.citizendium.org>
>>>>> > Cc: <czinternal-constable at mail.citizendium.org
>>>>> <mailto:czinternal-constable at mail.citizendium.org> >
>>>>> > Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 11:08 PM
>>>>> > Subject: [Cz-health-sci] Abortion article
>>>>>> >> To biologists, health scientists and philosophers (copied to
>>>>>> >> constabulary in case of future problems),
>>>>>> >> You might want to take a look at the Abortion article, started by
>>>>>> >> author Peter Whale. I really don't know what to do or where to begin
>>>>>> >> with it.
>>>>>> >> http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Abortion
>>>>>> >> He has assigned it to the philosophy workgroup.
>>>>>> >> John.
>>>> Cz-philosophy mailing list
>>>> Cz-philosophy at mail.citizendium.org
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