Humanity Scale

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Harbinger
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Humanity Scale

Post: # 50983Post Harbinger
Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:34 am

I was talking with my philosophy prof. awhile back about abortion--specifically when a fetus is considered a human. It made me think of a scale devised on the APGAR Scale that I learned about in my medical studies. It didn't put a great deal of thought into it, but honestly after making it I didn't feel a great deal of need to. I used it in a paper awhile back, and I recently thought back to it, and was curious what you guys might think. Here is an excerpt from my paper:

Humanity Score
A score of 5 must be achieved to be considered human, with a maximum score of 8. For the purposes of this scale, a score of 5 must only be achieved once. Humanity cannot be taken away, so it only needs to be scored once—regardless for how long it is held.

~ Genetic Code (0-1): This states whether or not a person has human genetic code. Zero dictates that a person does not, and 1 that they do. It amounts to a true or false statement of human DNA.

~ Consciousness (0-1): This states whether the person has consciousness or not. Zero states its absence, one its presence. *Some cases of comma patients present signs of consciousness when not. In such cases this would be left to a medical expert to determine. Keeping the score to a 0 or 1.

~ Conceptualization of Self (0-1): Determines whether or not the subject has a concept of self. Zero being its absence, 1 its presence.

~ Free Will (0-2): Determines the presence and degree of free will. This is a fundamental part of being human, even though sometimes it may be reduced as in the case of minors, convicts, or the mentally retarded. Zero is the absence of free will, 1 would be reduced (children, convicts, mentally retarded, etc.), and 2 would be a normal adult.

~ Reasoning Capacity (0-3): Reasoning is the hallmark of humanity, and is judged in this scale by the levels that the subject can achieve. Zero is the absence of reason, 1 being a severely crippled ability (severe mental retardation or infancy), 2 being reduced levels (moderate or minor mental retardation or childhood/minor status), and 3 being that of a normal healthy adult.

Now that you know the details of the scale, here are some example cases and the scores that the subject would incur:

Fetus:
Genetic Code = 1
Consciousness = 0
Concept of Self = 0
Free Will = 0
Reasoning Capacity = 0
Total = 1

Infant
Genetic Code = 1
Consciousness = 1
Concept of Self = 1
Free Will = 1
Reasoning Capacity = 1
Total = 5

Child
Genetic Code = 1
Consciousness = 1
Concept of Self = 1
Free Will = 1
Reasoning Capacity = 2
Total = 6

Adult
Genetic Code = 1
Consciousness = 1
Concept of Self = 1
Free Will = 2
Reasoning Capacity = 3
Total = 8

Metnally Retarded Adult (Severe)
Genetic Code = 1
Consciousness = 1
Concept of Self = 1
Free Will = 1
Reasoning Capacity = 1
Total = 5

Metnally Retarded Adult (Functional)
Genetic Code = 1
Consciousness = 1
Concept of Self = 1
Free Will = 2
Reasoning Capacity = 2
Total = 7

"As you can see, a healthy infant, child, and adult all score within the bounds of being human. Even mentally retarded individuals achieve scores that are assuredly human, although paralleling an infant’s state in severe cases and a child’s in moderate but functional cases. Notice though, that a fetus only satisfies one qualification of the scale in achieving humanity. Thus, without an infant being considered human, the question of whether or not it is morally permissible to abort it should be resolved."


There are a few holes with it. Most notably, that some people consider Human Genetic Code to be enough to qualify as being human. However, I won't go into all of them--that' what I'm hoping to gain from all your wonderful comments :).



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Egaladeist
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Post: # 50984Post Egaladeist
Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:00 am

Well :D

Buddhists have long held that life begins at conception...human or not...

but since we're speaking of human specifically...

I think the scale is flawed...the Human Genetic Code you refer to would be enough to qualify as being human...
but...
would it qualify as being independent...

this is the real crutch of the abortion issue...

the pro-choice side says: a fetus has no rights until it is able to live independent outside of the womb...prior to that only the mother has rights

the anti-abortion side says: the fetus has rights upon conception...even without being able to survive outside the womb it is still nevertheless a growing independent entity within a woman's body

the human issue is not an abortion issue...your philosophy teacher obviously does not understand the debate...or he is trying to see the debate from a purely philosophical angle based upon human notions...

the issue is again not humanity but rather life...or...more precisely...independent life

at what point is a fetus considered life? Life deserving of rights?

at what point does the fetus' rights usurp the mother's rights?

.................................................................................

A discussion that rarely takes place in either circle is the father's rights...

father's are in a situation that they have little or no control whatsoever...if they do not want the child and yet she decides to have the baby against his wishes...should he still be liable for that child?

if a mother chooses to abort against a father's wishes should he have the right to appeal to the court and have the fetus go to term?

Speaking as a single parent who IS raising his daughters, who did fight for them, and who was put through the wringer for it, I can still sympathize with those who don't want that responsibility and say that women who have babies against the wishes of the father should accept full responsibility for that decision....if she wants the baby and he doesn't then that was her decision...not his.

We presently live in a society where everyone has rights ( gays, fetus', women, animals, criminals, etc )... but fathers...

it's high time fathers got some rights too.

alleyCat
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Post: # 50990Post alleyCat
Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:34 am

Hey Harbinger,

I'm not sure you have analysed your ranking well enough...

Shouldn't the 'consciousness of self' be a zero for an infant? I'm pretty sure (from my 1&1/2 year of psych...) that an infant cannot distinguish between themselves and their mothers.

I'm not even sure an infant has any reasoning capacity... you know what I'm talking about... a new-born who still depends on a parent for everything.

Also your scale seems a little inconsistent... what about extending it to 5 for each item and then trying to redefine the values?

Of course, all of this seems a bit self-defining. Meaning I don't think there is any baseline to determine what you are trying to determine.

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Harbinger
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Post: # 50994Post Harbinger
Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:28 am

AlleyCat wrote:Shouldn't the 'consciousness of self' be a zero for an infant? I'm pretty sure (from my 1&1/2 year of psych...) that an infant cannot distinguish between themselves and their mothers.
Correct, that's one of the holes I didn't feel like pointing out--especially in my paper. Self Awareness actually begins at 8-12 months typically.

The rankings actually are not really weighted in terms of importance, just degrees, which is an issue all unto itself. The rest of the paper covers why even if a fetus is considered human, that abortion is still morally permissable from just about any moral standpoint (Egoism, Utilitarianism, etc).

The scale is certainly crutched, but I figured it was at worst and most flawed be a nice discussion piece. I came up with it in about 30 minutes.

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Post: # 50997Post Striek
Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:45 am

Personally, I think the ability to question one's own existence should be on that scale as well. A dog may or may not be self-aware, but certainly does not question its own existence.
Government is like fire - a handy servant, but a dangerous master - George Washington
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force. - George Washington.

catch
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Post: # 51035Post catch
Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:10 pm

Personally, I think the ability to question one's own existence should be on that scale as well. A dog may or may not be self-aware, but certainly does not question its own existence.
This would be too subjective. What information do you use to judge if something questions its existence?
Correct, that's one of the holes I didn't feel like pointing out--especially in my paper. Self Awareness actually begins at 8-12 months typically.
I thought about this as well and I am not sure it is a hole. There is no statement of the correctness of the sense of self (as if we could even define one). I think it just needs to be aware that it is a self, the inablity to differentiate this self from the breast, god, nature, their codependant relationship, or the inablity to recognize internal stimuli like hallucinations as part of their self should not detract from their humanity. Or perhaps the do, but we run into the same issue as the dog point, it is just too subjective. Does someone with Jesus in their heart have any better or worse idea of self than an infant that believes itself to be part of mom?

In short I think that part of the scale is actually good (as something so simple dealing with something so complex with so little analysis can be expected anyhow).

I do think the scale has a problem in being too sociocentric. Too much weight is applied to Free Will and Reasoning Capacity, giving addiction, poverty, and abuse far too much sway over an individual's humanity. Maslow's hierarchy of human needs addresses this point further.

cheers,

catch
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