Currently dealing with point 1a which is specificaly an argument that it is ok to kill someone/thing that can not feel pain at the time of killing.
Discussion of point 2a rather depends on if point 1a is upholdable, or not.
Argument 1.a. proposes that a fetus under 30 weeks does not have the neuroanatomy necessary to experience pain, Argument 2.a. proposes that a fetus prior to birth is not and has never been awake, and thus is also non-sentient for a second reason and for a longer duration of time. Given that, 2.a. does not depend on 1.a. - however were your argument persuasive, it would be sufficient to refute both of them. However, it is not, as will be described below.
Originally Posted by Clueless Git' date='08 July 2010 - 01:23 PM' timestamp='1278609821' post='2670877
Unless prior sentience ranks highly in the 'right to life' then prior sentience as opposed to present sentience or future sentience then that is not relevant.
The life support machine analogy was the best I could think of to isolate the importance of prior sentience in peoples moral framework of what determines the right to life and what doesn't.
Take the life support machine analogy only to apply to those who are not going to return from the coma/whatever.
If, in your own moral framework, you would turn life support off then you rank the chances of future sentience higher than you rank the importance of prior sentience.
Only those who would NOT turn the life support machine off under any circumstances rank prior sentience as being more important than future sentience.
This is an interesting argument.
However, you have incorrectly framed the question. As I will explain below, the issue is not prior sentience vs future potential sentience, rather it is prior sentience with the potential for future sentience
vs. potential future sentience absent prior sentience
This is the actual difference between a sleeping person and a never sentient fetus that could potentially be sentient later in the future.
It is also the morally relevant distinction between one acquires self interest only when they acquire sentience
. Before sentience, there is no self, no mind, and therefore no interests, and without any interests, there is no relevance. However, once sentience is acquired, one gains a mind and with it an interest in maintaining that mind in the future.
Similarly, someone who is in a coma from which they can never come out of, which is to say, someone with prior sentience, but no potential for future sentience, also has no interests, and is also not morally relevant. This is because, while they had interests, those interests are exhausted without the potential for the continuity of their mind; their mind will never be active again and so they can never acquire an awareness of self interest again - thus, they have no interest in the future since their mind can never be again operable.
So, as you can see, the question is not prior sentience vs future sentience, but prior sentience with the potential for future sentience, vs no prior sentience, or no potential for future sentience.
Finally, I should say, that I will not indefinitely reply to exchanges with you on this one point unless you are going to reply to my other arguments in the original post. I'm happy to continue to talk about this but I don't want this thread to be reduced from a post offering many arguments to one that discusses only a single argument - that would not be as worthwhile for everyone I don't think (or at least not for me). My aim is to seriously explore ideas here not to have a rhetoric contest, so sticking only to an perceived weakest point is not helpful. Having said that I am happy to continue to defend points 1.a. and 2.a. if you are happy to address the other points as well.
As a side note, I do not believe in a "right to life" (instead a negative right not be unjustifiably killed, a right not to be exploited, but not a positive right to life)