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A hypothetical morality question

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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25 September 2007 10:16
 

A pregnant woman decides to have her fetus screened for Down Syndrome.  She’s already decided that if the result is positive, she’ll terminate the pregnancy. 

Q1:  In your opinion, is the woman’s decision (to terminate the pregnancy in the event of a positive test result) moral?

The result is negative and she goes on to give birth.  However, immediately after birth it becomes clear that the baby suffers from Down Syndrome after all.  The test gave a false negative.

Q2:  Legal issues aside, would a decision at this point to “put the baby to sleep” be moral in your opinion?

 
 
Occam's Razor
 
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Occam's Razor
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25 September 2007 11:40
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 25 September 2007 02:16 PM

A pregnant woman decides to have her fetus screened for Down Syndrome.  She’s already decided that if the result is positive, she’ll terminate the pregnancy. 

Q1:  In your opinion, is the woman’s decision (to terminate the pregnancy in the event of a positive test result) moral?

The result is negative and she goes on to give birth.  However, immediately after birth it becomes clear that the baby suffers from Down Syndrome after all.  The test gave a false negative.

Q2:  Legal issues aside, would a decision at this point to “put the baby to sleep” be moral in your opinion?

A1: Yes.

A2: Yes.

Any more questions?

 
 
 
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waltercat
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25 September 2007 11:42
 

Assuming that by “moral” you mean morally right, then:

A1: No

A2: No

Any more questions?

Down syndrome is not a good reason to kill any person.

 
 
Lapin Diabolique
 
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Lapin Diabolique
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25 September 2007 12:14
 

A1. Yes.
A2. Perhaps.

The ambivalence in A2 comes from my lack of knowledge about the moment when people become aware of their existence.
I.e. you can’t be negatively affected by someone taking away something that you weren’t aware of.

I know this is not at the core of this post but how realistic is it that a fetus is falsely diagnosed with not having Down Syndrome ?

One of my favorite movies is Gattaca ( go rent it if you haven’t yet, it is great ) and I am all for improving the gene pool and the overall quality of human life and I don’t think we ought to be that squeamish about it either.
If it weren’t for that damned Austrian we probably would have given this more thought already.

 
 
 
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waltercat
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25 September 2007 12:27
 
Sander - 25 September 2007 04:14 PM

A1. Yes.
A2. Perhaps.

The ambivalence in A2 comes from my lack of knowledge about the moment when people become aware of their existence.
I.e. you can’t be negatively affected by someone taking away something that you weren’t aware of.

You can negatively affect someone by killing them.

 
 
Occam's Razor
 
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Occam's Razor
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25 September 2007 12:30
 
waltercat - 25 September 2007 04:27 PM

You can negatively affect someone by killing them.

QFT

 
 
Johnny Sweatpants
 
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Johnny Sweatpants
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25 September 2007 13:04
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 25 September 2007 02:16 PM

Q1:  In your opinion, is the woman’s decision (to terminate the pregnancy in the event of a positive test result) moral?

Q2:  Legal issues aside, would a decision at this point to “put the baby to sleep” be moral in your opinion?

Q1: Yes.
Q2: Of course not.  Once the baby develops a spinal cord and can feel pain, it’s clearly murder.

[ Edited: 25 September 2007 22:29 by Johnny Sweatpants]
 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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25 September 2007 15:59
 

My answer is yes to both. 

The ambivalence in A2 comes from my lack of knowledge about the moment when people become aware of their existence.
I.e. you can’t be negatively affected by someone taking away something that you weren’t aware of.

All right, but even if they are self aware, they won’t be after they’re dead.  The dead aren’t negatively affected by anything.  So why should that make a difference?

Once the baby develops a spinal cord and can feel pain, it’s clearly murder.

Assume it’s a painless death.  Would that make a difference?

 
 
Lapin Diabolique
 
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Lapin Diabolique
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25 September 2007 16:29
 

The ambivalence in A2 comes from my lack of knowledge about the moment when people become aware of their existence.
I.e. you can’t be negatively affected by someone taking away something that you weren’t aware of.

All right, but even if they are self aware, they won’t be after they’re dead.  The dead aren’t negatively affected by anything.  So why should that make a difference?


You can always push questions about morality to a slippery slope. In your example I am trying to take a moral position based on suffering and therefore on the ability to have experiences/awareness.
It seems a good place to start a conversation about this.

Your comment about the dead I take not to be serious.

 
 
Ecurb Noselrub
 
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Ecurb Noselrub
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25 September 2007 16:38
 

A1 - No - I see no evidence that the woman engaged in any sort of moral analysis whatsoever, so how could her decision be “moral.” Also no, for the reason waltercat gave. Downs kids (as well as those with other defects) can live meaningful lives, and should be given the same chance to experience life as the rest of us.

A2 - No - See answer to A1.

 
 
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waltercat
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25 September 2007 16:41
 
Bruce Burleson - 25 September 2007 08:38 PM

A1 - No - I see no evidence that the woman engaged in any sort of moral analysis whatsoever, so how could her decision be “moral.” Also no, for the reason waltercat gave. Downs kids (as well as those with other defects) can live meaningful lives, and should be given the same chance to experience life as the rest of us.

A2 - No - See answer to A1.

Yes, Bruce, that was my assessment as well.  The description of the scenario was too thin.  If the only reason the woman has for aborting the child is that the child has Down’s syndrome, then that is not a good justification for the abortion.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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25 September 2007 22:18
 

I can see the reasoning behind choosing no for both questions.  I don’t agree with it, but it’s consistent. 

The yes/no answers are more interesting.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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26 September 2007 08:09
 
waltercat - 25 September 2007 08:41 PM

Yes, Bruce, that was my assessment as well.  The description of the scenario was too thin.  If the only reason the woman has for aborting the child is that the child has Down’s syndrome, then that is not a good justification for the abortion.

What’s your stand on abortion in general?  Is it ever justified?

 
 
 
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Talha777
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26 September 2007 08:55
 

A pregnant woman decides to have her fetus screened for Down Syndrome.  She’s already decided that if the result is positive, she’ll terminate the pregnancy. 
Q1:  In your opinion, is the woman’s decision (to terminate the pregnancy in the event of a positive test result) moral?
The result is negative and she goes on to give birth.  However, immediately after birth it becomes clear that the baby suffers from Down Syndrome after all.  The test gave a false negative.
Q2:  Legal issues aside, would a decision at this point to “put the baby to sleep” be moral in your opinion?

IF youre asking whether the decision is moral, than no it is not moral. It is based on selfishness, pride, and fear. Moral virtues are generally understood as being courageous, fair, and self-sacrifice. None of these moral virtues are identified in the woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. Rather her decision is nazi-like, seeking to cleanse the society of “undesirable elements”.

 
 
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waltercat
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26 September 2007 10:03
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 26 September 2007 12:09 PM
waltercat - 25 September 2007 08:41 PM

Yes, Bruce, that was my assessment as well.  The description of the scenario was too thin.  If the only reason the woman has for aborting the child is that the child has Down’s syndrome, then that is not a good justification for the abortion.

What’s your stand on abortion in general?  Is it ever justified?

I think that, in some cases, there are good reasons to have an abortion.  But my view is still evolving.

Here are some thoughts:

I think that sentience (by which I mean the capacity to have experiences, e.g., of pain or pleasure) is a morally significant feature; once a being is sentient, then it deserves moral consideration.  So, once a fetus becomes sentient, it becomes much more difficult to justify aborting it.  Before sentience, I think abortions are easier to justify.  The problem, however, is that it is not clear when a fetus becomes sentient.

 
 
 
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mcalpine
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26 September 2007 10:51
 

I’m all for abortion. Who wants to be raised by parents who don’t want children? Enough children in the world are already.

 
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