Patrick Lee opened the panel in good philosophical style with a thought experiment: Would it be wrong, he asked, to kill someone after a surgery that would irreversibly erase all his memories and leave him unconscious for several months? Yes it would, he argued, even though he would be in the same psychological position as a human embryo or fetus. For he would still retain, as a human being, the basic natural capacity for personal acts—even if the immediate ability to perform them would be delayed. Similarly, the human embryo or fetus has that same personal nature; she just needs time to develop herself to the point where she can exercise it. Lee summarized his argument in three simple steps: 1. We are intrinsically valuable from the moment we come to be. 2. We are essentially animal organisms of a rational sort, so that all human beings are persons. 3. Human organisms come to be at fertilization. Conclusion: Every whole human organism (meaning human beings, not human parts)—including embryos—is intrinsically valuable as a subject of rights.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Patrick Lee Soundbite [SK]
Ryan Anderson reports on a bioethics forum featuring Peter Singer, Patrick Lee, Robert George, and others at Princeton University. The topic of the forum was, "Is it Wrong to End End Early Human Life?" and Ryan's piece does a great job summarizing the arguments presented. I love how he summarizes Patrick Lee's opening shot: