There was a good discussion that came out of the first part of my post, and I’d like to take the time to respond to some of the issues brought up in the comments. I haven’t had time to respond directly to some of the commenters so I figured I’d address it in a post. First, what I did say in the comments but didn’t in my post is clarify my position of human nature. So I will just repeat what I said in the comments here:
In the context of human nature, our soul is the form of the body (matter). Our soul is what makes the body alive and, because it is a rational soul, it has the powers of intellect, will, and the whatever powers the vegetative and animal souls have.
I also added that my arguments derive from an Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical view.
I had said the following:
“But the kernel, in essence, is popcorn. It has “popcornness” (haha) and thus will develop and actualize its potency given something else in aactuality brings it about. So, yes, you pointed out there was an element missing, and that was a metaphysical principle that I didn’t bring up. Namely, that for something to transition from potency to act, it cannot do so on itself but must require something else that’s already in act or actuality to bring it about by acting as an efficient cause. So, the heat would be the efficient cause of the kernel actualizing its potency of being the popcorn; the heat is that thing in actuality which the popcorn comes about.”
To which one commenter replied:
“‘But the kernel, in essence, is popcorn’
Except it isn’t. Not every instance of a kernel will become, or has the capacity to become popcorn. In fact many don’t. It’s rare that I’ll have a bag of popcorn that doesn’t have a good dozen kernels that refuse to pop. The fact that not every kernel will actualize into popcorn seems like a pretty big hole in the argument. To connect this to abortion, not every instance of an egg and sperm make it through to gestation, or becoming a fetus.”
I respond that:
It is in essence popcorn. To say that because there are kernels that don’t develop into popcorn doesn’t at all bring a hole into the argument. When we see the kernel’s that didn’t pop, we tend to think that there must have been something wrong with those kernel’s that didn’t allow them to become popcorn. If they were like other normal kernels, they would have developed. Take for example trisomy 21. This occurs when something called non-disjunction happens during mitosis–which is the dividing and multiplying of cells to make copies. When this happens, the fetus has an extra chromosome and begins developing in an unnatural way and it doesn’t develop properly. This is what happens to the kernels, except the kernels don’t develop at all for whatever reason that may be. We say that this is normal insofar that it’s a common occurrence. But it’s not normal in the sense that it should not be this way. All things being equal, the kernel would develop properly. So, if the egg and sperm do not make it through gestation, this does not affect my argument at all. Genetic issues, problems, and accidents occur that may impede development or make it unnatural.
The commenter goes on and argues:
“We can establish as a given that any woman who can produce an egg is a human being. She has rights, she will more often than not have the capacity to reason, and is in possession of any number of other qualities that we attribute to being part of the human experience. She has grown to the point of maturity, or very near it.
Now, as far as the Zygote goes, it is completely dependent on the woman. After birth, an infant may be dependent on any number of sources – a father, a family friend, an orphanage, etc. However, while in the womb, the mother is the only viable option for survival. This parasitic tendency brings up two questions for me. The first is whether or not the worth of the zygote can empirically supersede that of the woman. The woman is an actualized human, while the zygote is a potential human. I don’t accept that they are the same in any regard other than in possessing human DNA.
The second question is how you distinguish between a zygote and a wart. Beyond their DNA strands, is there a difference in the relationship? Why then is it acceptable for a woman or man to eliminate warts, but sometimes unacceptable with other parasites? They are both dependent on the mother, and both have the capacity to grow and reproduce.”
I find this parasite argument by pro-choicers to be alarming and, quite frankly, asinine (no disrespect intended). For one, a parasite is of a different species than their host. A fetus is of the same species. A parasite is an intruder coming from the outside. The fetus is right at home and where it’s supposed to be. I can go on and on. (See here for more points and citations to textbooks)
Now, the two questions that are brought up seems to be besides the point. What does it mean to say that the zygote can empirically supersede the woman? Are you saying that because the zygote doesn’t look or seem to be like an adult, that therefore it isn’t on par with a fully grown human? If that’s the case, then we should say infants and even toddlers are not on par with adults in terms of values or rights. But, I’m just grasping at air here. This is ambiguous. Also, the commenter says the woman is an actualized human. Umm, the zygote is an actualized human as well. The zygote is not a potential human, it is human. It’s a human zygote, just like an infant is a human infant. A zygote is just one stage along the stages of development just as adolescence is one stage along development. On what grounds do you not accept that they’re the same? I’ve already given the metaphysical case.