Instigator / Pro
7
1702
rating
21
debates
100.0%
won
Topic
#5362

THBT: Personhood begins at conception [for @FishChaser]

Status
Finished

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

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
3
0
Better sources
2
2
Better legibility
1
1
Better conduct
1
1

After 1 vote and with 3 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
1,600
Contender / Con
4
1527
rating
60
debates
55.0%
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 FishChaser 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
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.
So right off the bat, it seems like you are claiming that only humans deserve moral consideration since your position is that humans deserve moral consideration from conception and that any level of moral consideration grants personhood. If this is true then sentience is not a trait worthy of moral consideration, and you are claiming that humans are worthy of moral consideration by virtue of the fact that they are human alone. There is no basis to claim that non-human and non-person animals aren't sentient nor is there a basis to claim that a mere zygote is sentient, therefore you are arbitrarily picking "human" as the thing which grants moral worthiness and I could just as easily say other non-sentient things like rocks are the only thing worthy of moral consideration.

I disagree that being human is what makes humans worthy of moral consideration, I believe that sentient beings who want to live and feel pain are inherently more worthy of moral consideration than inanimate objects and clumps of cells that happen to have human DNA. Therefore if we define personhood as 
 “the point at which a human being should be given moral consideration.” I would take the position that personhood begins when the fetus becomes sentient.


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
Boom, you just conceded that sentience is the point where humans deserve moral consideration. If this wasn't the case then why does it matter if you are causing harm? Why does it matter if the fetus appears responsive? Hell, why does it even matter if the fetus is alive or dead? Moral consideration i.e personhood supposedly begins at having human DNA, so none of this shit should even matter and by admitting that causing pain or ending consciousness of said human is bad you are admitting that moral worthiness is deeply tied to sentience.

Also, we do have a good idea of when sentience could begin in a fetus. 




I hold that any human being who can be harmed is a person

If sentience isn't the basis for moral consideration, then what is the difference between harming a being and breaking an inanimate object?

If being human is the only basis, why does it matter if they can be harmed?

Animals can be harmed in a sense that is different from an object being broken, because they can feel pain and want to live, thus you are arguing that there is something other than having human DNA which grants moral consideration which animals have and human zygotes do not.


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). 

There is literally no difference between saying this and saying it is immoral to wear a condom because otherwise your cumshot would have resulted in conception. The clump of cells doesn't care if it gets destroyed because it isn't sentient.



  • An infant born in a coma with no past conscious experiences is a person, and killing them is wrong.
They are still fundamentally a sentient being or at the very least one that has the capacity for sentience, if not then why can't I just arbitrarily decide that rocks deserve personhood and humans are objects?



Pigs are smarter than newborns, but killing a newborn is more evil than killing a pig. 
First of all, why? Second of all, smarter isn't the same thing as more sentient.



Suppose there is someone in a deep coma who will awaken in nine months without their memories. Killing them is still murder.
A zygote has never developed sentience, a coma patient who could still wake up is a sentient being who is essentially just sleeping.



Since unborn children can be wronged by having their potential conscious experiences removed, they deserve moral consideration.
If an AI was developed that could be more intelligent and more sentient than humans, but it was never switched on, would not switching it on be immoral because you are robbing it of it's potential experience?


Round 2
Pro
#3
Framework:
Con does not dispute the burden of proof or the uncertainty principle.

“You conceded sentience is where humans deserve moral consideration.”
On the contrary, even if the unresponsive person on the ground is not sentient currently, we would still not be justified in killing them, since depriving someone of a life is harmful even if they are not currently conscious. Both the unresponsive person and a zygote can attain lots of life experiences in the future.


1. Harm Principle:
I argued that any human being who can be harmed is a person. Even unconscious people can have their lifespan shortened and thus be harmed. Con’s criterion for personhood is sentience.

Harm
Con talks about harm in a more vague sense than what the non-aggression principle actually means. Harm in a moral sense is causing someone to experience something they wouldn't like, or preventing them from experiencing something they would enjoy.

“What is the difference between harming a being and breaking an inanimate object?”
The harm principle refers specifically to the experiences of individuals (i.e. causing  negative experiences or depriving individuals of positive experiences). Even if this principle were using a more broad idea of “harm,” it would be difficult to classify breaking a vase no one cares about in a vacuum as harmful. You wouldn’t say, for example, that digging in the ground is harming the ground.

“It seems like you are claiming that only humans deserve moral consideration”
Moral consideration of nonhumans is simply not the subject of this debate. Defining persons for the sake of this debate as “humans who deserve moral consideration” does not imply that nonhumans do or do not deserve moral consideration.

“Animals can be harmed in a sense that is different from an object being broken…which animals have and human zygotes do not.”
I am arguing that human zygotes can also be harmed in a sense that is different from an object being broken. Remember that harm can include depriving someone of positive experiences they would have otherwise had. Con agrees that killing unconscious people is still harmful, even if they are not conscious at the moment.

“There is literally no difference between saying this and saying it is immoral to wear a condom because otherwise your cumshot would have resulted in conception.” / “If an AI was developed that could be more sentient than humans…would not switching it on be immoral?”
This is a misunderstanding of what my harm criterion actually refers to. I did not say that any action which does not maximize the number of sentient beings is wrong; I said that removal of bodily functions that would allow/enhance conscious experiences is a harm.

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

For example, (1) removing one of someone’s limbs is harming them. Furthermore, if someone is in danger of having one of their limbs removed, either by a hostile third party or from some other threat, we should do our best to protect them. (If a serial killer threatens to cut off my neighbor’s arm, I should call the police.) 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.

If someone in a coma is becoming malnourished, causing their immune system to become weaker, that malnourishment is a harm which we ought to prevent if possible. However, if someone in a coma does not have superpowers, it does not follow that we have a moral responsibility to try and give them superpowers.

People wear condoms so that their actions do not create an individual with bodily functions that will result in consciousness. That is not the same as directly removing bodily functions.

Even if sperm did deserve moral consideration, they would still not be persons. Since gametes only have half the genetic information necessary to create a human, they cannot be classified as individual humans, and personhood is defined as “the point at which a human being should be given moral consideration.”


2. Humans as Persons:
“If this is true then sentience is not worthy of moral consideration”
When I say human beings are persons, I am specifically arguing that stage of development does not affect personhood. If a toddler, a teenager, and an adult can all be harmed in the same way, causing that harm is wrong regardless of age differences. Humans can be deprived of a human life (a significant harm), which is what makes them deserving of moral consideration. Hence, the label of “person” should include all humans that can be deprived of a human life, not simply those above some arbitrary age.

“[An infant in a coma] is still fundamentally a sentient being or at the very least one that has the capacity for sentience”
People in comas are not sentient, as consciousness is required for sentience. Individuals in comas don’t even have the capacity for consciousness/sentience. Coma patients lack features necessary for consciousness, often from damage to the RAS, in which case the brain doesn’t have the capacity to think. Even if “all brain structures remain” for someone in a coma, these structures are incapable of consciousness in their current state and missing neurons necessary for it. They can become sentient in the future, which makes them deserving of moral consideration, but zygotes can also become sentient in the future, so they also deserve moral consideration.

“Why [is killing a newborn worse than killing a pig]?…Smarter isn't the same as more sentient.”
In biology, sentience is typically measured via intelligence or information processing. Since Con has not given an alternate metric for measuring sentience, default to the ones used by biologists. These metrics would strongly imply that pigs are more sentient than newborns and possibly even 3-year-olds. Yet if we considered pigs to be more valuable than human newborns, this would lead to absurd conclusions. For example, it would imply that eating newborns as described in Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal is less bad than eating bacon. Clearly, the social contract between humans must carry significant weight, enough to outweigh the difference in sentience between pigs and newborns. Further, this means we should likely give more weight to the experiences one is deprived of when being killed. Even if a toddler isn’t very smart right now, killing them would deprive them of an entire human life. 


3. Future Like Ours:
“A coma patient who could still wake up is a sentient being.”
Comatose individuals are not sentient. An adult organism’s neurons begin natural regeneration by reverting to an embryonic state. These findings are consistent with other research on human neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, which would be even more prevalent in a comatose child. On capacity for consciousness, the unborn and coma patients are morally equivalent.

“A zygote has never developed sentience”
Con agrees that an infant born in a coma with no past conscious experiences is still a person, so even if an individual has never been sentient in the past, they still deserve moral consideration. Furthermore, whether or not a coma patient has been sentient in the past, this does not change the harm from killing them now (removing their future experiences). Con agrees that harming individuals is a bad thing whether or not they are conscious, so harming an unborn child this way must be wrong as well. Per the harm principle, harm specifically focuses on the effects of our actions, not things that have already happened. Attributing this harm to someone’s past conscious experiences would be the sunk cost fallacy.

Operation Thought Experiment
I’ll extend this, as Con doesn’t respond to it. As I said in R1, 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.

In other words:
  • P1: Removing an unborn child’s potential conscious experiences is wrong.
  • P2: If wrongs can be committed against someone, they deserve moral consideration.
  • C1: Therefore, unborn children deserve moral consideration.

4. Comparison to Infanticide:
Con argues that non sentient beings are not persons, but I will argue here that they did not refute any premise of my comparison to infanticide.

Immoral Actions
Con does not dispute that knowing the harm/gain from an action, how the action is performed, and the context of said action would be enough to determine whether the action is moral or immoral.

Total harm/gain
Con does not dispute that the loss to a newborn from being killed painlessly is effectively the same as the loss to an unborn child from being killed, or that individuals are generally better off having life experiences than not having life experiences, valuing their existence at millions of dollars.

How said action is performed
Con does not dispute that the way in which an unborn child can be killed can be identical to the way in which a newborn is killed.

Context
Con does not dispute that there are some contexts in which an unborn child can be killed, that are identical to contexts in which a newborn can be killed.

Con has not disputed that the above three attributes specifically are morally equivalent when comparing the killing of newborns to the killing of an unborn child. Since similar injustices can be committed against newborns and unborn children, it follows that unborn children are also persons.
Con
#4


This is an example of “sentience” being confusing, as the test is more similar to concepts of sapience or intelligence than sentience. The Sentience Quotient is not considered a valuable measure of a creature’s ability to suffer or feel pain and should be thought of more as a thought experiment. 

The above is from Pro's own source. He is misrepresenting an article that talks about various perspectives on sentience and cherry picking a definition that suits his needs. It is possible for an AI to be 30 times more intelligent than a human without being self-aware or having feelings.




Harm in a moral sense is causing someone to experience something they wouldn't like, or preventing them from experiencing something they would enjoy.
In other words, harm is about sentience. It is ridiculous to compare something that doesn't have the capacity for sentience to a person who is currently unconscious. If a newborn is born in a coma it simply needs to be woken up, on the other hand a zygote is no more a sentient being than a sperm cell or an egg but Pro arbitrarily draws the line between one clump of cells and another.

Pro has never actually stated why conception is the point where some future sentient being's potential experiences start to matter. If an unconscious sentient being and a zygote are morally equivalent, then why not every sperm cell and every egg cell? Clearly Pro thinks there is a difference between something that may be sentient in the future and a zygote, which Pro claims is morally equivalent to a sentient person and more valuable than a sentient animal because it is a person. 

I postulate that this difference is a soul, Pro is simply tip-toeing around the fact that his position is secretly based on a combination of baseless religious beliefs and speciesism ( i.e "humans are the most important because humans")
Round 3
Pro
#5
Con has dropped most of my arguments, implicitly conceding them. Voters should note that Con introducing new arguments in his last round where I cannot respond to them would be a conduct violation and any said arguments should be ignored. The operation thought experiment and comparison to infanticide have gone unaddressed by Con for this entire debate, and they are each sufficient to affirm the resolution and quash Con’s sentience criterion.

Extend the uncertainty principle, which Con does not object to.


What is Harm?
Operation Thought Experiment
Extend.

Comparison to Infanticide
Extend.

“Pro has never actually stated why conception is the point where some future sentient being's potential experiences start to matter. If an unconscious sentient being and a zygote are morally equivalent, then why not every sperm cell and every egg cell?”
Voters should note that I did in fact address this in R2, and my entire argument was dropped. I will repeat what I said there, since it addresses this objection.

I did not say that any action which does not maximize the number of sentient beings is wrong; I said that removal of bodily functions that would allow/enhance conscious experiences is a harm.

I will distinguish again between (1) removal of bodily functions and (2) not adding bodily functions. The first is a harm, while the ladder is not. At conception, a zygote will grow into a being with likely many positive life experiences unless its bodily functions are impeded.

For example, (1) removing one of someone’s limbs is harming them. Furthermore, if someone is in danger of having one of their limbs removed, either by a hostile third party or from some other threat, we should do our best to protect them. (If a serial killer threatens to cut off my neighbor’s arm, I should call the police.) 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.

If someone in a coma is becoming malnourished, causing their immune system to become weaker, that malnourishment is a harm which we ought to prevent if possible. However, if someone in a coma does not have superpowers, it does not follow that we have a moral responsibility to try and give them superpowers.

People wear condoms so that their actions do not create an individual with bodily functions that will result in consciousness. Not creating an individual with bodily functions is not the same as directly removing bodily functions.

Even if sperm did deserve moral consideration, they would still not be persons. Since gametes only have half the genetic information necessary to create a human, they cannot be classified as individual humans, and personhood is defined as “the point at which a human being should be given moral consideration.”

“I postulate that this difference is a soul”
A soul cannot be what determines personhood, as this would imply that gingers are not persons. Many people are gingers and still possess personhood, despite not having souls.


What is Sentience?
“He is misrepresenting an article that talks about various perspectives on sentience and cherry picking a definition that suits his needs.”
Con criticizes the sentience quotient as an insufficient measure of sentience. Note that Con has not defined sentience or said how it should be measured, despite using it as their criterion for personhood. As noted in said article, many scientists do use “sentience” to refer to depth of intelligence. Con seems to dispute my claim that pigs are more sentient than newborns, citing self-awareness, without giving evidence for newborns being more sentient than pigs. 

Pigs vs. Newborns
Very young newborns lack self-awareness, which Con considers a measure of sentience. Pigs have self-awareness. Pigs feel a wide range of emotions, while newborns exhibit only two. Yet Con does not dispute that valuing pigs over newborns would lead to absurd conclusions, such as the idea that eating children is preferable to eating bacon. Hence, sentience alone cannot be a sufficient criterion for personhood. We must give weight to a social contract between humans and future experiences that humans would have.

“It is ridiculous to compare something that doesn't have the capacity for sentience to a person who is currently unconscious. If a newborn is born in a coma it simply needs to be woken up”
Con has explicitly stated multiple times that sentience is their proposed criterion for personhood. They have not argued that mere capacity for sentience is sufficient for personhood, aside from incorrectly claiming that unconscious individuals have sentience. Sentience requires consciousness, and unconscious individuals are therefore not sentient.

Furthermore, waking up from a coma is not a simple process. The brain of someone in a coma can’t generate consciousness, but it will develop into an organ with capacity for consciousness (including features and syntactic structures it doesn’t currently possess). Coma patients lack features necessary for consciousness, often from damage to the RAS, in which case the brain doesn’t have the capacity to think. The zygote, too, will develop into an organism with consciousness. Both organisms will be conscious at a later stage of development.

Some components necessary for consciousness are missing from the embryo, but the same is true of the coma patient. Even if “all brain structures remain” for someone in a coma, these structures are incapable of consciousness in their current state and missing neurons necessary for it. An adult organism’s neurons begin natural regeneration by reverting to an embryonic state. These findings are consistent with other research on human neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, which would be even more prevalent in a comatose child. On capacity for consciousness, the unborn and coma patients are morally equivalent. A coma patient with a chance of waking up is a person, so the unborn child is as well.


Conclusion:
In each round of this debate, I have given a number of reasons that removing bodily functions that would create sentience in non sentient humans is an immoral action, allowing us to conclude that said humans have personhood. Each of these arguments alone is sufficient to affirm the resolution, and Con has dropped all of them. They are as follows:
  • Operation thought experiment
  • Moral equivalence to infanticide
  • An infant born in a coma with no past conscious experiences lacks neurons necessary to create consciousness and thus has neither sentience nor capacity for sentience until the brain repairs itself through a slow process. Yet they are still a person.
  • Harm (which Con seems to agree is bad) specifically focuses on the effects of our actions, not things that have already happened. Attributing this harm to someone’s past conscious experiences would be the sunk cost fallacy.
Thanks to Con for participating in this debate!
Con
#6
Even if sperm did deserve moral consideration, they would still not be persons. Since gametes only have half the genetic information necessary to create a human, they cannot be classified as individual humans, and personhood is defined as “the point at which a human being should be given moral consideration.”
So highest moral value is attributed to anything that has human DNA, regardless of sentience. In that case it is no more valid to say a zygote has personhood than it is to say a rock has personhood. Without sentience or at least a framework for sentience already being established, the claim of something having moral value is arbitrary and based on nothing. Pro's argument is "object is person because DNA" and should be disregarded.


Con criticizes the sentience quotient as an insufficient measure of sentience. Note that Con has not defined sentience or said how it should be measured, despite using it as their criterion for personhood. As noted in said article, many scientists do use “sentience” to refer to depth of intelligence. Con seems to dispute my claim that pigs are more sentient than newborns, citing self-awareness, without giving evidence for newborns being more sentient than pigs. 

Sentience is measured in self-awareness and ability to feel. Pigs and newborns are probably equally sentient despite differences in intelligence.



Very young newborns lack self-awareness,
Article merely SPECULATES and talks about fetuses in the womb rather than newborns lacking self-awareness.



 Yet Con does not dispute that valuing pigs over newborns would lead to absurd conclusions, such as the idea that eating children is preferable to eating bacon. Hence, sentience alone cannot be a sufficient criterion for personhood. We must give weight to a social contract between humans and future experiences that humans would have.
This is merely speciesism but even if pigs were more sentient, it still wouldn't be moral to eat either children or pigs. Veganism is ethically superior to consuming any form of sentient being.



Con has explicitly stated multiple times that sentience is their proposed criterion for personhood. They have not argued that mere capacity for sentience is sufficient for personhood, aside from incorrectly claiming that unconscious individuals have sentience. Sentience requires consciousness, and unconscious individuals are therefore not sentient.
Ok, in that case I argue in favor of slitting everyone's throat the moment they fall asleep since it's morally equivalent to terminating something that never did have sentience and doesn't even have the framework for it.

Except that would be ridiculous, because unconscious people are still conscious on a lower level and have a continuity of experience from the past that will extend into the future unlike something that was never sentient. And if a baby is born into a coma, then it is ethical to kill it if it will never wake up but terminating a zygote is different because it hasn't yet even developed a basic framework of sentience and an unconscious infant still has a tiny semblance of sentience at the very least since people can still react to pain while unconscious.