Instigator / Pro
14
1693
rating
19
debates
100.0%
won
Topic
#5222

THBT: Personhood begins at conception [for @Intelligence_06]

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
6
0
Better sources
4
4
Better legibility
2
2
Better conduct
2
1

After 2 votes and with 7 points ahead, the winner is...

Savant
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Rated
Number of rounds
3
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
10,000
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Open
Minimal rating
1,740
Contender / Con
7
1731
rating
166
debates
72.89%
won
Description

RESOLUTION:
THBT: Personhood begins at conception.

BURDEN OF PROOF:
BoP is shared equally. Pro argues that in human development, personhood begins at conception in the majority of cases. Con argues that personhood begins at some other point in the majority of cases.

DEFINITIONS:
Conception is “the fusion of gametes to give rise to a human zygote”
Moral consideration is “consideration with regards to actions that may affect an individual.”
Personhood is “the point at which a human being should be given moral consideration.”

RULES:
1. All specifications presented in the description are binding to both participants.
2. Only Intelligence_06 may accept.

Round 1
Pro
#1
Framework:
Definitions
Harm: To adversely affect
Person: A human being who should be given moral consideration
Human being: An individual human

Burdens
Per the description, a person is a human individual who deserves moral consideration. Hence, if human beings deserve any level of moral consideration from the point of conception, the resolution is affirmed.

As BoP is shared, to negate the resolution, Con must show that unborn children should be given no moral consideration in early stages of pregnancy.

Uncertainty Principle
For the sake of argument, suppose we are uncertain about the moral status of an unborn child. In this case, their status would be similar to someone who has been injured and appears unresponsive. If we are not sure whether said individual is alive or dead, we should still give them some moral consideration (for example, we should refrain from stabbing them in the throat.) Similarly, if we are uncertain whether killing an unborn child will be very harmful, they still deserve some level of moral consideration and are persons, per the resolution.


1. Harm Principle:
I hold that any human being who can be harmed is a person. Furthermore, having one’s lifespan reduced is a harm. Someone with CIPA may not physically suffer when they are killed, but they have been harmed nonetheless. Prima facie, we ought to follow the non-aggression principle—if a human can be harmed, we should avoid harming them without a sufficient justification. Hence, my criteria for personhood follows.

Harm
I will distinguish here between (1) removal of bodily functions and (2) not adding bodily functions. The first is a harm, while the latter is not.

For example, (1) removing one of someone’s limbs is harming them. However, if someone requests an operation which would add a third arm to their body, (2) refusing to perform this operation is not harming them.

Furthermore, starvation and suffocation fall under (1) as well. Despite the fact that starvation results from a lack of resources, it results in direct adverse effects on the body. If your child is starving, for example, that is a direct harm which you ought to prevent.

Support for this Definition
Moral statutes must work in practice. Immoral actions are undesirable; hence, the existence of rights is predicated on the objective of preventing undesirable effects. Murder prevents someone from living a human life—a life experienced by the human mind. If removing someone’s ability to live part of a human life is evil, then removing someone’s capacity to live an entire human life must be immoral as well. If reducing a human lifespan is immoral, then all humans with prospective lifespans deserve moral consideration.

Unborn Children can be Harmed
I bring this up to distinguish between (1) abortion and (2) contraception. An unborn child will develop the capacity for consciousness unless directly harmed (if their bodily functions are impeded). But sperm will not develop into a person unless combined with an egg (if bodily functions are added). Since unborn children can be directly harmed, it follows that they deserve moral consideration.


2. Humans as Persons:
The overwhelming scientific consensus holds that a human being is formed at conception. Since gametes only have half the genetic information necessary to create a human, they cannot be classified as individual humans; hence personhood cannot begin before conception since it is defined as “the point at which a human being should be given moral consideration.”

Rights of Humans
Note that a human being has the right not to have their lifespan reduced, regardless of their stage of development (infant, teenager, adult). A toddler and an adult are not the same thing, but they are both persons. It hardly makes a difference to someone whether they are aborted as an embryo or killed painlessly in their sleep minutes after their birth. Both actions achieve a similar immoral effect.

An alternate view holds that moral value should come from intelligence, past experiences, ability to feel pain, level of dependency, or level of development. But a number of obvious counterexamples show this view to be flawed:
  • An infant born in a coma with no past conscious experiences is a person, and killing them is wrong.
  • Pigs are smarter than newborns, but killing a newborn is more evil than killing a pig. Eating the flesh of babies is significantly more problematic than eating bacon.
  • Newborns are dependent on their parents and on society, but killing them is wrong.
  • Killing a child is as bad as killing an adult, if not worse. Thus, it is clear that the potential to live a long life is morally significant, while a human’s level of biological development is not.

3. Future Like Ours:
Coma Analogy
Suppose there is someone in a deep coma who will awaken in nine months without their memories. Killing them is still murder. (We’d save on social security by killing dementia patients in their sleep, but doing so would clearly be evil.) Note that any argument that the comatose individual has personhood can also be used to show that unborn children are persons.

Per the harm principle, actions should generally be considered moral unless they cause some kind of harm to someone else. Therefore, if the action of killing the comatose person is wrong, it must be because it has one or several harmful effects. I can think of several:
  • Missed opportunities: The comatose individual could have lived a long life
  • Lack of choice: No choice was given to the comatose individual
These harms also occur when an unborn child is killed. If they make killing the comatose individual wrong, then they certainly make killing an unborn child wrong. Hence, unborn children deserve moral consideration and are persons.

Operation Thought Experiment
Suppose there is an operation that can be performed on an unborn child that will hinder their eyesight in the future with no medical benefit. This operation would clearly be harmful, even though it removes potential experiences, rather than ones that the unborn child is currently capable of.

Removing more potential experiences (hearing, taste, etc.) would be worse, not better. Since unborn children can be wronged by having their potential conscious experiences removed, they deserve moral consideration.


4. Comparison to Infanticide:
I argue that if newborns are persons (which I assume my opponent will agree with), then unborn children must also be persons.

Immoral Actions
When determining the morality of an action, there are essentially three things that must be factored into account:
  • Total harm/gain from said action
  • How said action is performed
  • Context surrounding said action
Given this information, you would know everything about the action and hence everything concerning the morality of said action. This may seem like an obvious point, but I bring it up to compare harm committed against unborn children to harm committed against newborns.

Total harm/gain
The loss to a newborn from being killed painlessly is effectively the same as the loss to an unborn child from being killed. Both individuals would benefit from a higher lifespan if they were not killed.

It’s generally intuitive that individuals are generally better off existing for longer periods of time—people pay large sums of money to avoid dying. If being sentient for 20 years grants more utility than being sentient for 10 years, it follows that living for some amount of time should generally lead to more utility than never having conscious experiences.

Antinatalists may object to this by arguing that the happiness in the world should be measured by average quality of life and not total utility. But philosophers have shown this view to be flawed since marginal utility does not diminish with the addition of more people. If greater average utility is always better, it would follow that happy people whose happiness is below average would be better off dying in some accident, since this would improve average quality of life.

Suppose a philanthropist gives money to an effective charity. The more people they give money to, the more happiness they have created. Since being alive enables someone to achieve utility (even more so than having money), it follows that if more people are given life, more happiness can be achieved. Hence, people are better off existing than not existing. Most people value their existence at millions of dollars.

Some might argue that the positive experiences of the unborn child are hypothetical since they are not yet sentient, but this is no different than arguing that the future of the newborn is hypothetical since they have not experienced it yet. Since the newborn and unborn child have effectively the same future, they both stand to lose from being killed and both deserve moral consideration.

How said action is performed
Unborn children can be killed in the same ways as newborns. For example, both newborns and unborn children can be torn apart or crushed, causing them to die. Hence, the same harm can be committed against a newborn and an unborn child, causing the same adverse effect to both.

This also distinguishes abortion from contraception, since these actions are not performed in the same way. Killing an unborn child or newborn stops a human organism from growing, whereas contraception prevents gametes from joining to create an organism in the first place.

Context
Since the resolution deals with personhood, all that must be established is that there is some context in which an unborn child can be killed that is not morally different from the context in which an infant can be killed. For example, an active shooter could kill a mother and her infant in the same context that they kill a pregnant woman and her unborn child. If an injustice can be committed against an individual in any context, it follows that said individual deserves moral consideration.

Since similar injustices can be committed against newborns and unborn children, it follows that unborn children are also persons.

Con
#2
Intro

I accept the BoP and definitions imposed by Pro, Savant. Given that I am supposed to prove that personhood starts at some other moment rather than "at conception", I will attempt to do so in the form that:

Personhood begins the moment after conception is complete, but not within the timeframe in which conception is still considered persisting.
I do not need to clarify the BoP and definitions anymore for they are already clear enough as seen by Pro's description section.

Argument

1. "At"

To be fair, I could very well make more, but 1 argument is all it takes for this case.

Again, let's look at the title.
Personhood begins at conception.
In a way, this proposed view is oxymoronic. How could anything be "at" something that is not a single moment?  Maybe we say "at dawn" or "at dusk" even though the event could have taken place 30 minutes prior of after it, however, even then, it would be an estimate, akin to me calling my homie to get to the gym by 9, got a car crash and arrived 5 minutes late. While tardiness is something worth at least symbolic punishment, it does not negate that the usage of the term refers to a single moment or at worst an estimate of a single moment, but never a directory for an entire period of time.

Even if we say stuff like "at morning" or "at night", we meant an unspecified moment within said morning or night, for otherwise we would yield absurd results. One example is, "She left the house at night." Does this imply,
  • She left the house at some point in the night, but the speaker cannot narrow it down any further during the conception of this sentence.
  • She was leaving the house the entire night, for some reason.
I am pretty sure all English speakers with natural networks of chaining word salads into word kebabs could tell that it is the first one. Same applies to the topic statement. It would be entirely absurd to assume that a yes-n'-no(personhood-or-not) transformation occurred during the entire process(for there are no dynamic intermediate stages between the two - either one is a person or one is not) as opposed as being changed within one momentary moment with delta-t being zero here, so absurd in fact I refuse to consider this a separate argument, but keep in mind. Therefore, the topic would be,

Personhood begins at some unspecified interval within the process of conception.
2. What is Conception?

I will kindly remind that nowhere did Pro really acknowledge what conception is other than that it starts the pregnancy process. In fact, given what is currently on the table, we can only believe that either Pro does not know whether conception is momentary or not or did not intend to disclose his views on this issue. 

Nevertheless, facts do not care about Pro's feelings, so I am going to state a few facts about what conception is. Source.
  • Conception is the fusion of a sperm cell and an egg cell. Because speed caps out at c(lightspeed), the process whatsoever cannot be done infinitely fast and thus conception is not a momentary process but occupies a period of time.
  • Until the conception process is to its completion, that is, the sperm DNA completely fusing with the egg, no human is created or have its creation set off, as it is just a sperm attached to an egg like my head is attached to the pillow in the night. I never fuse with my pillow, obviously.
    • In this case, since no change in quality have been induced, then to consider a starting-to-concept-but-did-not-complete set of gametes as a "person" would be no different than to consider an egg laying in a random woman's body and a random sperm in a random man's egg to be a "person", for the entire difference between the two would be location.
Given what the process actually is, we can safely assume that should the title not be moved a single goalpost,
  • According to Pro's perspective, sperm + egg = person
    • Since two gametes that started but not finished conception would be literally no different from "sperm + egg". They have not yet created anything new until conception is finished.
Can we even say that even an attached set of two gametes would be a person? (we are not yet talking about zygotes here) No. The concerned system is no more alive than on the cellular level, where organelles can transport mRNAs and proteins and lipids throughout the cytoplasm. If we consider such a system to be anything, let alone morally a person, then we may as well be declaring an A5 Wagyu steak an organism, or a rotting carcass harassed by the local criminal, or a disattached kidney ready for transplanting, for they consist of "living cells". But should we consider those morally on the same plane as humans? Obviously, no.

Now, let us jump to another set of inquiries.
  • Is the war taking place when the enemy has surrenderred?
  • Are you still enjoying the meal when the plate is precisely empty?
  • Are you still drinking beer when the glass is drunk empty and dried?
  • What about the statement "The habitability of a building starts at construction"?
Exactly. The war is no longer there once a party surrenders. The meal cannot be enjoyed once absolutely nothing is left, same with the beer glass. The habitability of a building begins when constructions are complete and checked, rather than at some unspecified moment within construction, such as when you are dumping concrete into the foundational levels.

According to how it works(same source), for the eventual product of fertilization or conception is to form a zygote using two cells, as soon as the zygote forms, the conception process is complete. Thus, the presence of a zygote suggests that there is no conception taking place, for it is over, like a war is no longer taking place when the enemy concedes.

As for anything before that, I have already explained how absurd it is to consider pre-zygotes humans in any possible way for they are no more alive than a laboratory sample of spinach or lab grown meat: in the cellular level and no more, whilst we know that humans are alive on more levels, above that.

I will repeat, at conception, there is not an unborn child, there is hardly any organism so to speak.

Genetic Change

This is a separate argument that in no way works in tandem with the previous one, acknowleging that the previous train of thought already suffices in proving my position. Nevertheless, in the wild west of DArt, you gotta toot all of your guns.

We have been troubled by the question, "did the chicken or the egg come first?", and one solution is, "the chicken was a proto- and now extinct form of the organism, and genetic change is brought about within the egg that makes it a chicken and not something else."(source) In this case, since speciation is ultimately defined in the sense of reproductive barrier, if somehow the process of pregnancy can bring about genetic mutation within the zygote cell so that the end product becomes some other organism rather than human that cannot realistically mate with people, it cannot be considered, morally, a human, due to the fact by considering it a human it would be removed from the truth regarding what it is.

What does that mean? Having the outcome of pregnancy be a new human is only expected but never destined, for genetic mutations could occur to the point it is no longer human. Since we have no existing statistics on how likely it is but cannot disprove the potential existence of such cases, we cannot say, for any case of pregnancy, that the outcome "is" a person. And no, disproving is different than acknowledging how unlikely it is, for a planet carrying life is too unlikely, yet we both are here.

Conclusions
  • A zygote is formed only when conception is complete, in which, it is outside the boundary for "at conception".
  • Before that, cells are alive at cellular level, but nothing new is created. The system is not alive in any other level unlike a person, and thus should not be considered as one.
  • At conception, there is not an unborn child, there is hardly any organism so to speak. Regardless of whether it deserves moral consideration, it is not a human individual.
  • Because of the potential possibility of the eventual outcome to be a non-human, we cannot say, that for any case of conception, that the end result "will" be a human, and to say that it "will be" or "is" a human individual would be oversimplifying and dishonest, which is not what we want here.
  • Therefore, "at conception", there is no personhood, and possibly not even after conception is completed. I have disproven the topic statement and welcome Savant to make any remarks on it.
Here are the sources.

Round 2
Pro
#3
Framework:
Con concedes that “personhood begins the moment after conception is complete” (i.e. the process of conception directly leads to personhood). Given the most obvious interpretation of the resolution, this would just be a concession that Pro is right, but Con hinges their case on a semantic dispute over the word “at.” I will spend this round defending my interpretation of the resolution, as well as showing that Con’s kritik depends on using alternate definitions to those in the description.


Arguments 1-4:
Extend.


1.CON “At”:
Con’s entire case hinges on this point. If “personhood begins at conception” means the same thing as “the being created by conception is a person,” then Con has essentially conceded this debate. Con starts with a very narrow scope of the word “at,” and then tries to generalize this outward, ignoring that the meaning of words is generally dependent on context. I will start by arguing the meaning of the word in context and then showing how this is consistent with the use of the word “at.”

“Begins at conception”
Conception is generally defined as the process of formulating an idea or child. Since to “begin” means to start something, we can simply phrase this as “formulating a child starts the existence/personhood of the child” which is essentially a truism now since Con does not dispute the moral status of the unborn child. To begin can mean to cause to come into being, per the dictionary. Conception is essentially beginning the unborn child, as Con points out, and since things obviously begin at the beginning, it follows that the child’s life begins at conception. This is clearly what the phrase means.

Authoritative sources use this phrasing all the time:
  • The vast scientific consensus is that life begins at conception.
  • “Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” (Carlson, Bruce M.)
  • “At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun.” (Considine, Douglas)
“Begins at”
We say that X “begins at” Y all the time when Y is the event that precedes and causes X.

For example:
  • “The day begins at sunrise.”
  • “We began writing at the stroke of noon.”
  • “The teacher began toward the door at the sound of the principal’s footsteps.”
  • “I began vomiting at the sight of the severed head.”
“at”
Con gives examples largely ripped out of other contexts but does not once use the phrase “begins at.” Even if there were counterexamples, all that I must demonstrate is that the phrase “X begins at Y” can be used to indicate that Y is the process that precedes and causes X. This affirms the resolution.


2.CON “What is Conception?”:
Voters should note that the term conception is defined in the description as “the fusion of gametes to give rise to a human zygote.” Hence, this is the only definition of the term relevant to this debate. “To give rise to” and “to begin” mean the same thing, so per the definition in the description, the zygote does begin to exist at conception. Since Con concedes that the zygote is a person, it follows that personhood begins at conception.

Even if voters accept Con’s extremely narrow view of the word “at,” a zygote would still begin at conception if a zygote existed during that process. Furthermore, “the fusion of gametes to give rise to a human zygote” clearly ends with a human zygote. But, as I stated before, the phase “begins at” need not be used so narrowly, so even under Con’s heterodox definition of conception, personhood begins at conception.

“Personhood begins at some unspecified interval within the process of conception.”
Con demands that for the resolution to be affirmed, “personhood must begin at some interval within the process of conception.” Although this view of the word “at” is too narrow as I have shown, the resolution is still satisfied since conception includes “giving rise to a human zygote,” and Con does not argue against a zygote being a person.


3.CON “Genetic Change”:
“speciation is ultimately defined in the sense of reproductive barrier, if somehow the process of pregnancy can bring about genetic mutation within the zygote cell so that the end product becomes some other organism rather than human that cannot realistically mate with people, it cannot be considered, morally, a human”
Con argues that humans who suffer from genetic mutations that prevent them from mating are not humans. But this is patently false. Eunuchs and people who have been chemically castrated are still humans. People suffering from infertility are still humans.

“Since we have no existing statistics on how likely it is but cannot disprove the potential existence of such cases, we cannot say, for any case of pregnancy, that the outcome "is" a person.”
This is not true. My conception resulted in a person. My opponent’s conception resulted in a person. Every person alive today exists as a result of conception. Even if a person can turn into something other than a person, they are still a person. George Washington turned into a corpse and then decomposed into dust, but that does not negate the fact that he was, at one point, a person. Even if we accepted Con’s argument (and we should not), at best it would yield uncertainty, but I’ve already explained why the uncertainty principle works in my favor.

Con argues that if personhood does not always begin at conception, then the phrase “personhood begins at conception is false.” But this is clearly untrue. People eat at restaurants, even if people do not always eat at restaurants. Firefighters fight fires, even if it is possible for a firefighter to not fight a fire.

Con concedes that the possibility of conception resulting in a new species is extremely low, which is enough to dismantle this argument since the description states “Pro argues that in human development, personhood begins at conception in the majority of cases.” Furthermore, if conception results in something other than a human, then human development never occurs and the case is not relevant to this debate. Remember, we are arguing at which point in human development conception occurs and per the description, “Con argues that personhood begins at some other point in the majority of cases.” Con is arguing here about some hypothetical case when personhood never begins and cannot meet their burden in such a case.
Con
#4
My opponent seems to agree on:
  • During the conception process, nothing that could be labeled as a human is created; one arguably is only created once it is no longer within the conception process, that is the end of it.
"Begins at"

I would argue that none of the example brought up here that is used, according to "Pro", to representably vindicate the meaning of such a term, is representative of the sense that applies here. This is for the reason that conception is not a matter of moment or any specific point set in time but actually by definition a process that spans a time range, in which anything that is created within that timespan(if anything at all) cannot be life until the process is no longer active.

All the examples given here refer to a single moment rather than a timespan. Keep in mind, "dawn" or "sunrise" is a single moment, and if it is used to refer to a time period, it is usually served as an estimate or directory rather than precisely literally, similarly to the utterance of "omg, I am literally dying hahahaha".
  • “The day begins at sunrise.”
  • “We began writing at the stroke of noon.”
  • “The teacher began toward the door at the sound of the principal’s footsteps.”
  • “I began vomiting at the sight of the severed head.”
As for the last two examples, the initial perception of an event is similarly a single moment rather than a time period, so the proof of that "begins at" can refer to a period of time rather than a single moment comes down to but authority, and I will get into that in a moment, or after a period of time.

"Sources"

I should point out that just because a term is used interchangeably with another one and has gone unnoticeable because it usually directs to something else, doesn't mean it inherently means said something else and is correct in meaning so. As an example, this graph is usually shown to demonstrate the concept of the Dunning Kruger effect even though this graph was absent in the original research

We have no evidence that in any case other than this one, that "begin at" is applicable to any period of time that is not used to approximate a key moment within said period of time. Pro has brought none, either. Upon reading these three sources, it becomes clear that what they are really referring to is the end of fertilization as a key moment of which a product that can be expected to become human is created, which is the first moment after it can still be considered to be within the conception timespan. We have no reason to believe that such a usage is a general rule, as if it were, it would yield ridiculous statements like:
  • The habitability of a building begins at construction
  • The 2nd movement of the opera begins at the 1st movement
  • Momentary peace begins at the war
  • College begins at high school (note: this is supposed to mock a general statement rather than to appeal to dual-enrollment)
  • Vacation begins at a school day (Even if the vacation only officially starts in 0:00 next day)
  • The morning routine begins at sleeping
You see, this is what happens when Pro's supposedly applicable rule to the general extent of English is indeed applied as a general rule to the extent of the entire English language. At this point, we have two options left:
  • In respect to conception, this is a special case
  • OR the topic statement hinges on a common phrase that is not actually technically correct
Unless Pro can somehow prove the first one, the second one is to be taken here. Unless this is a certified exception, we remain standing on that "life begins at conception" is merely a technically incorrect common misunderstanding that got spread throughout the entire world, just like we say "The Strip is in the city of Las Vegas" even though it is actually in Paradise next to the extent of the city, or that we say "The City of London is a part of London" even though it is not, or that we say "Harvard and MIT are in Boston" even though they are in the next city over, Cambridge, MA. Obviously we are not going to add a footnote everytime we mention the Las Vegas strip to say "It's actually in Paradise, NV", but we still understand that this term refers to something that isn't this term perfectly clear even though this term isn't the actual term that refers to what it supposedly refers to in an utilitarian sense. Still we should acknowledge that the nominal term isn't really the idea usually represented by it due to a simplification of understanding or similarly, and thus we should not conflating it with what actually represents the idea. In this case, confusing "conception" with "the end of conception that gives rise to a zygote" may seem harmless due to how little it matters in discussing the full cycle of human growth; except drawing two equal lines between the two equal terms would ignore that a given moment where a sperm is still halfway through the egg's membrane that is not the end of it is nevertheless still within the timespan of "conception".

Especially, since the key moment chosen to image what conception is isn't even in the timespan that is within the conception process, to say any life begins at conception would be akin to saying MIT is in Boston, et cetera.

Once again, since within the entire timespan of conception, a sperm and an egg is still a sperm and an egg and no qualitative changes have been made, therefore, if only cellular levels of life are considered, especially within eukaryotes, then we might as well reach the conclusions that a raw steak is an organism. 

"Genetic Change"

I don't need this point anymore.

Conclusions
  • The conflation of "conception" with the end of said process which is not even a part of the process is not a sign that the two are equivalent ideas even though they are used as so with popularity.
  • If "begins at" can be used in respect to timespans rather than just moments in time generally, then the results would be hilarious.
  • Unless in respect to conception is a special case with proof that it is one, it will be treated as nothing other than a conflation with a related yet distinct idea aforementioned.
  • I reiterate,
  • A zygote is formed only when conception is complete, in which, it is outside the boundary for "at conception".
  • Before that, cells are alive at cellular level, but nothing new is created. The system is not alive in any other level unlike a person, and thus should not be considered as one.
  • At conception, there is not an unborn child, there is hardly any organism so to speak. Regardless of whether it deserves moral consideration, it is not a human individual.
  • Therefore, "at conception", there is no personhood.

Round 3
Pro
#5
Framework:
Mostly agreed on at this point. Note that Con drops the genetic change argument and personhood argument and hinges their entire case on the semantics of the word “at.” Since my entire initial case has gone unchallenged, Con must win on this semantic point to negate the resolution.


Are Unborn Children Persons?:
Extend Arguments 1-4, plus the uncertainty principle, all of which have gone unchallenged by Con.


What can “begins at” mean?:
Begin literally means “to come into being,” and conception is when a human organism comes into being. Conception is generally defined as the process of formulating an idea or child. Since to “begin” means to start something, conception is “beginning” the zygote’s life. The zygote must begin at conception, since things obviously begin at the beginning.

Authoritative Sources
Extend.
  • The vast scientific consensus is that life begins at conception.
  • “Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)... The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” (Carlson, Bruce M.)
  • At the moment the sperm cell of the human male meets the ovum of the female and the union results in a fertilized ovum (zygote), a new life has begun. (Considine, Douglas)
“Time period vs moment”
Con appears to imply that moments are not time periods, which is false. Moments are short time periods. If I say I am “waiting for a moment,” I am saying that I am waiting for a short period of time. Not to mention that a sunrise usually lasts longer than a minute. Besides, if something can begin at a point in time despite not existing until after that point in time, then surely something can begin at a time period despite not existing until after that time period (i.e. sunrise and day). This is how transitions work. X can “begin” at the period in which Y transitions into X. For example, adolescence begins at puberty despite arguably occurring directly after puberty.

“if it is used to refer to a time period, it is usually served as an estimate or directory rather than precisely literally, similarly to the utterance of "omg, I am literally dying hahahaha".”
This is not true. I can say that I watched the sunrise for two minutes if I did, in fact, watch the sunrise for two minutes. Even if it was an estimate, we could also estimate the time that conception takes, so personhood begins at conception as much as the day begins at sunrise.

“As for the last two examples, the initial perception of an event is similarly a single moment rather than a time period”
Again, a moment is a time period, but plenty of people perceive conception as a single moment as well. For example, these five sources [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. Just because something is a process doesn’t mean it can’t happen in a moment. Con only seems concerned with whether things are “perceived” as moments (which is a hard to define time length anyway), and conception fits the bill.

“Sources”
Recall what I said in R2: We say that X “begins at” Y all the time when Y is the event that precedes and causes X. Conception is specifically defined by its resulting in a human zygote, and some other biological process that doesn’t result in a human zygote isn’t conception. Each of Con’s examples is a false equivalence, as I will argue below.

“Dunning Kruger effect”
The link to Con’s graph doesn’t work for me for some reason, but I think Con is saying that words can be used incorrectly. But this misses the point because figures of speech and even words themselves can take on new meanings and be used in new ways. For example, the “Dunning Kruger effect” refers to an effect itself, not the initial study that discovered said effect. A “basket case” really does mean something other than a case of baskets. When we say the day “begins at” sunrise, that is actually true. The phrase “begins at” can actually have that meaning.

“The habitability of a building begins at construction”
Construction is not defined by its resulting in a habitable building. Construction can result in half of a house or an unfinished apartment building. Not to mention that just because a house has been constructed doesn’t make it habitable. A better analogy would be that “the habitability of a house begins at furnishing” which is indeed true.

“The 2nd movement of the opera begins at the 1st movement”
The 1st movement does not cause the 2nd movement, the players cause both of them. The composer could swap both of them around if they wanted to, not to mention that there’s usually a break in between movements. The 1st movement still occurs if there is no second movement, whereas conception does not occur by definition if a zygote is not created. A better analogy would be that “the 2nd movement begins at the signal from the conductor” which is indeed true.

“Momentary peace begins at the war”
The war does not directly cause the period of peace. A better analogy would be that “peace begins at the surrender agreement” which is indeed true.

“College begins at high school”
High school doesn’t cause college. A better analogy would be that “college eligibility begins at graduation” which is indeed true.

“Vacation begins at a school day”
The school day doesn’t cause vacation. A better analogy would be that “vacation begins at the ringing of the dismissal bell” which is indeed true.

“The morning routine begins at sleeping”
Sleeping doesn’t cause the morning routine, and there’s usually a break between waking up and doing the morning routine. A better analogy would be “my habit of doing morning routines started with a video I saw from X youtuber” which could indeed happen.


What is Conception?:
Voters should again note that the term conception is defined in the description as “the fusion of gametes to give rise to a human zygote.” If I say that a developer gave rise to a new website on Monday (which is a period of time), then we would say that this website began on Monday. To say that a human zygote is not formed at conception is to ignore the definitions outlined in the description, which are again “binding to both participants.” Some (more thorough) definitions even include stages after fertilization like implantation, such that a zygote clearly exists for a significant period during conception. (But obviously we should just use the definitions in the description, which indicate that conception includes a period where the zygote does exist.)

If house-creation is defined as “the process that results in a house,” then we could say that a house begins at house-creation. It’s just a truism.


Conclusion:
A zygote is a person (this has basically gone unchallenged), and the existence of the zygote begins at conception. Therefore, personhood begins at conception.
Con
#6
For the last round, all Pro's "correct examples" are him giving either a single point in time in respect to the term "begins at" rather than a non-momentary lapse of time, or at least estimates thereof. Let me give some examples.
A better analogy would be that “the 2nd movement begins at the signal from the conductor"
A better analogy would be that “peace begins at the surrender agreement”
A better analogy would be that “college eligibility begins at graduation”
A better analogy would be that “vacation begins at the ringing of the dismissal bell”
A better analogy would be “my habit of doing morning routines started with a video I saw from X youtuber”
All of these talks about a single moment, or to be precise, point in time with delta-t being zero, either via perception or via something else, as such:
  • at a signal
  • at an agreement
  • at the first moment one is deemed to have graduated(which happens sometime WITHIN the graduation ceremony)
  • at the first moment a bell rung
  • at some time in a youtube video(IN the video)
Keep in mind, that the term "moment", as pointed out, was also being thrown imprecisely just like the word "Conception" or the term "Las Vegas" is being used all the time. Nevertheless, they are being understood in the intended contexts. This, in turn, supports the fact that the term "conception" can be used technically incorrectly whilst still being widely used for these two never contradict each other even though only one pragmatic definition out of the conflicting two would be the true one. Nevertheless, we are here to argue what is technically correct, not what is technically widely used in an incorrect sense.
Again, a moment is a time period, but plenty of people perceive conception as a single moment as well. For example, these five sources [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. Just because something is a process doesn’t mean it can’t happen in a moment. Con only seems concerned with whether things are “perceived” as moments (which is a hard to define time length anyway), and conception fits the bill.
The problems are...the perceived moments are basically estimates of a single coordinate in the time dimension, for you must turn from ungraduated to graduated in a single coordinate as there are no intermediate states for buffering, nor are there any for a sun not yet risen versus one that has. 

All examples that have been given include the representative time coordinate within the described timeframe, exemplified by sunrises, graduation ceremonies, and even house furnishings. When you watch the sunrise for 2 minutes while not bluffing, you are expected to have watched the sun actually rise for the first time in the day within those 2 minutes. When you attend the graduation ceremony, you enter a high school student and exit a prefrosh or enter a senior and exit a bachelor of whatever your major is, et cetera. As for house furnishings...The house becomes habitable with just a few appliances in, as shown by a low-end habitable space here. You can move in furniture even if you made your home your home. I am sure that any voters who have ever moved in their entire life knows about this. This is different from construction, where before the structure is constructed, it would not be stable enough for shelter.

In the end, a house within furnishing becomes habitable within the furnishing process, but a building being constructed cannot be habitable until the absolute end of it, which is not within the process's timespan. What else possesses the quality of having the marked time coordinate just outside of the process itself? Conception!

Well, maybe it is time to admit that "at" can indeed be used on timespans, for if that is not possible, the topic would make no sense(which would still benefit me). Still, in order for the structure of the sentence to work, a representative time coordinate that is not a timespan corresponding thereto must in some way make sense, and in order for the expression to be technically correct, said time coordinate must be within the timespan corresponding thereto, due to the nature of what "at" is which Pro merely appended to but never dismantled. Just as the interval [5, 8) can be said to begin at (3, 5], the interval [5, 8) did not begin at (3, 5), and the point x=5 is not included in (3, 5) for trivial reasons, similarly is that the intersection between [5, 8) and (3, 5) is a null set. If there is not a single point that is included in both sets before and after the "begins at", then the expression would be false as a result.

Essentially, the representative time coordinate is the first ever point of the set that begins later, and if it is not included in the former(or what said point is supposed to represent) then the latter beginning at the former would be incorrect. That would be the case for peace and war: where upon signing the peace treaty the war is no more, no intersection; for morning routines: for once you start your day, you would have woken up from sleep, meaning there is no intersection between morning-ing versus sleeping; for conception, for once the system becomes anything that can be argued to be a human, the conception is over.

Curiously, the time point representing conception according to the masses is the first moment after its completion where arguably a human has been created in its first stage. That "representative" point is NOT within the set of time-dimensioned points that constitutes the timespan of conception the process, which is what in reality the term means. That leaves only one possibility: the usage is mistaken and technically incorrect. As shown with the term "moment", such mixups are common but nevertheless do not forgive any terms for being something that they are not.

The theory dissolves this.
Recall what I said in R2: We say that X “begins at” Y all the time when Y is the event that precedes and causes X. Conception is specifically defined by its resulting in a human zygote, and some other biological process that doesn’t result in a human zygote isn’t conception. Each of Con’s examples is a false equivalence, as I will argue below.
And Pro has presented no counterexamples to my explanation except the one we are trying to have a virtual beer arguing over. Keep in mind, since the interpretation issue is tackled, the sources Pro has given would be dropped into the hole back where they belonged in the last round.

If I say that a developer gave rise to a new website on Monday (which is a period of time), then we would say that this website began on Monday.
But you will not say it "began at monday", arguably for that monday has no representative frame in time. It would be places like this that alternatives like "on" would be better suited. That is the entire issue we are trying to resolve and Pro sneakily tried to dodge it by making it something else which may possess a Pandora's boxful of distinct properties that will not fit into the textbox here.

If house-creation is defined as “the process that results in a house,” then we could say that a house begins at house-creation. It’s just a truism.
That is not a truism. A house is not a house until the house creation stage is done. This is vaguely similar to "Peace begins at war". A house begins when house-creation is done, not "at" it.

Conclusions
  • Essentially, all cases of "begins at" making sense involves the first frame of the time set before the "begins at" being representative of the time set after the "begins at" actually being in the time set after the "begins at". Pro has not proven a counterexample in the case on conception, and Pro's attempt to vindicate the whole class has so far been unsuccessful. Hint: Trying to prove general cases would lead to absurdity like "peace begins at war" and all Pro has done is just give examples that seems to not touch this problem when in reality it doesn't, when in reality that is the problem at burden. All cases that meets such problems can be pointed out with ease, as shown above.
    • Pro admits conception is a process that takes time.
  • Since the representative time coordinate, as regarded by mass use, of "conception" is not within the timeframe where conception actually is active as a process, the expression stays in a sort that makes no sense. Personhood is absent within the entire duration of conception, which is what we are concerned with. The end.