April 7, 2016

"Reading is inherently ephemeral, but it feels less so when you’re making your way through a physical book..."

"... which persists when you’ve finished it. It is a monument to the activity of reading. It makes this imaginary activity entirely substantial. But the quiddity of e-reading is that it effaces itself.... There is a disproportionate magic in the way black marks on white paper — or their pixilated facsimiles — stir us into reverie and revise our consciousness. Still, we require proof that it has happened. And that proof is what the books on my shelves continue to offer."

From "Books to Have and to Hold," by the delightfully named Verlyn Klinkenborg, published in the NYT in 2013. I'm reading that today as a consequence of becoming fascinated by the word "quiddity" which I encountered while researching the word "entity," which is illustrated in the OED by a phrase written by the philosopher George Berkeley in 1710: "The positive abstract idea of quiddity, entity, or existence."

We were talking about the word "entity" in the midst of a discussion of Hillary Clinton's use of the word "person":
Hillary Clinton faced criticism from both sides of the abortion debate on Monday after she waded into the fraught argument about when life begins by describing the unborn as a “person.”

Mrs. Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, made the comment during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after she was asked about abortion restrictions and the rights of the unborn.

“The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Why did she say "person"? Was it purely a gaffe or did she mean to wink a subtle "I care" at those who are unsettled or anguished at killing the unborn? It's hard, in conversation, to restrict yourself to "the unborn," which is neutral, but formal. Talking about that with Meade, I said that when I teach the abortion cases in law school, I say "the unborn entity." I apologize for the strangeness of the term, which I don't mean to sound humorous or alienating. I genuinely think it's the right word for me — the law-professor person — to use to conduct a professional, balanced examination of the judicial opinions. But I did want to check my perception by looking up the word just now.

I wrote "the law-professor person" in what was, really, a private joke aimed at Meade. He had observed — talking about Hillary's gaffe/non-gaffe — that it's become a tic of modern language to add "person" to moderate a perceived harshness in using a noun to designate someone as a member of a group. Thus, we might think we shouldn't refer to someone as "a white," so we say "a white person." The noun seems to distance and "otherize," but if you plunk "person" after it, it's a milder descriptive — a kinder, gentler adjective. The Chinese becomes a Chinese person. (I guessed that it all started with "Jewish person.") Meade theorized that Hillary had become so used to this linguistic etiquette that it naturally and inconveniently happened to "unborn."

173 comments:

Meade said...

Well done, blogger person.

Meade said...

I mean... blogger entity.

iqvoice said...

The joy I feel when holding a favorite book can not be replicated by holding an e-reader entity.

The Godfather said...

How about "unborn thing"? Or even just "thing"? After all, does 't "unborn" imply that the natural or expected state of the "thing" is to be "born"? And the purpose of euphemisms is to obscure reality.

tim maguire said...

I work in an area that spends a lot of time worrying about how to describe groups of people, often we worry about it more than the affected person does. The main idea behind it is, if you describe someone as white, black, handicapped, homeless, then they become the thing you are describing and all the other aspects that make up their humanity get lost behind the label.

So they are people experiencing homelessness, people of color, people with disabilities.

Hillary was worried about denying the humanity of the person she says has no rights. You're probably right that it was reflexive, she moves in circles that phrase things this way so much that it's become automatic for her.

Rae said...

Hmmm. Thank you for introducing me to the word quiddity. I'll have to use that in a sentence today.

dbp said...

Oops! I humanized when I meant to do the opposite.--HRC

In fairness, it is tough to describe something as not having constitutional rights without either sounding like a fool or a heartless entity.

This Zippo lighter has no constitutional rights, true but so obvious that it sounds stupid.

Dogs do not have constitutional rights, true but now you sound heartless.

DKWalser said...

The question to Hillary referred to the "unborn child". I think her answer merely reflected the wording of the question. I don't think it was an intentional hint that she cares. Nor do I believe the pro choice crowd has a legitimate beef with her ( they should be upset with her questioner, if anyone). She guilty of the loose wording all of are guilty of in oral conversation. (I can't believe I'm defending Hillary!)

Qwinn said...

Because history, as we all know, always looks kindly on those who have advocated to strip a subgroup of "persons" of the most basic human right at the behest of a more favored group of "persons". Why, the list of instances where that's worked out peachy for everyone involved, and those who denied those rights being celebrated as heroes, just goes on and on...

DKWalser said...

Sorry for all the typos in my comment.

Curious George said...

"the unborn entity."

I wonder what will happen when they discover the gay "unborn entity" gene. Ahhh, no matter. It's just a fucking "entity" after all.

rhhardin said...

It's a person or not depending on plans and relationships.

That's a fact about the speaker, not a fact about the fetus.

A neutral term isn't taking a position on the fetus but on the speaker's plans.

As for Hillary, she's echoing the questioner's term. The questioner takes it as a person and asks about rights, to which the answer is none.

The underlying truth, which is one of language, is that you learn to be human.

You might say of a criminal that he hardly seems human. About a newborn it would be a joke, but touches on the fact that he's to be treated as human and that how he eventually learns to be human. His performances become fuller.

The language is everything. He hardly seems human of a criminal is possible because of it.

Largo said...

To exist is to be monetized.

And how many quid are you?

Daniel Richwine said...

Quibble with her wording all you wish, she is correct. A person who has yet to be born dies not have rights to exist over a person's right to privacy, I think that sums up the Court's opinion?

Birkel said...

Clump of cells? Parasite? Foetus?

Part of the problem is there is no simple term that will obfuscate the truth of the advocated public policy. Even if one is resigned to the choice that the government should not prohibit the individual decision, the truth is still ugly.

It would be nice, perhaps, if the federal government did not have the assumed power to control so many other individual decisions. Why are there no penumbras and emanations that protect from overbroad readings of enabling legislation for federal agencies?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Of course, the big problem here is that once you humanize the unborn entity, it becomes nearly impossible to keep our current lack of restrictions on legal abortion (up to birth, for any reason.)

Because at that point, you have to either legalize infanticide, or outlaw abortion. And if you legalize infanticide, you also have to legalize toddler-cide. etc. etc.

So we either return to a fun twist on Roman law, where instead of the paterfamilia, the materfamilia can kill any descendant at any time, or we embrace that horrific Christian idea where you don't get to kill anyone. Given that our society is totally ignorant of Western Civ these days (see, KKK scare at Indiana U), I suspect we'd choose the former.

Ann Althouse said...

"How about "unborn thing"? Or even just "thing"? After all, does 't "unborn" imply that the natural or expected state of the "thing" is to be "born"? And the purpose of euphemisms is to obscure reality."

But I'm not looking for a euphemism or to obscure.

"Thing" is inaccurate and inflammatory. It doesn't obscure. It takes a position. I'd never use "thing" as the right word in teaching abortion cases. Think about why "entity" is the right word for the situation.

Ann Althouse said...

"Quibble with her wording all you wish, she is correct. A person who has yet to be born dies not have rights to exist over a person's right to privacy, I think that sums up the Court's opinion?"

No, because the state can ban abortion (with a life/health exception) after viability. That's a lot of in-womb time for the entity the state has the power to preserve. The unborn entity doesn't have a constitutional right (and the woman isn't the government, so what would that right even be?). But the state may exert its power to limit the woman's liberty interest for the sake of the unborn person.

Bay Area Guy said...

Not to wade too deep into the abortion wars, but "unborn entity" sounds a bit Orwellian.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind" --George Orwell.

Most normal women, when pregnant, say with delight, "I'm having a baby!"

The problem - as it often is with the Left - is lacking objective standards. It's either a beautful baby, filled with hope and joy or a worthless clump of cells to be discarded - I'll let you know when I decide.

Rusty said...

Well it ain't a giraffe all up in yer cooch.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Entity implies a separate, distinct state of being/existence, though. That seems like a problem when you're trying to ensure the thing is defined as part of the woman's body at all times. Acknowledging that it's separate prompts the discussion about what separate rights or duties it has (that is, separate from the woman's rights and duties).

That's what's so great about "clump of cells." They're cells, but they're cells in the woman's body, so even if they have their own DNA they're not really separate in a meaningful sense and they don't deserve any more consideration than any other clumps of cells. Hell, the gut microbiome has tons of bacteria that doesn't have your DNA, so if the "unborn entity" is instead just a "clump of cells" then anything you do to it is morally equivalent to anything you do to your gut bacteria...and no one argues gut bacteria deserves any moral consideration.

"Unborn" also seems like a needlessly-deterministic modifier--either that or unnecessary. Any clumps of cells can be considered "unborn" after all, and using unborn in just the case of the particular cells that make up the thing in question gives weight to the idea that what those cells WILL become is important...and of course we can't have that.

Clumps; clumps of cells.

Fritz said...

Quibbling over words is fun. Has a baby removed from the womb by C-section ever been "born"? Definitions seem to differ. I can imagine lawyers arguing either way. If not, such a person is not granted rights under the 14th amendment because they have not been born or officially "naturalized".

Meade said...

"E (for "entity") not busy being born is busy dying," said Bob Dylan.

Bob Boyd said...

Yeah, you couldn't use "thing".
You'd have to soften it, "Thingy" "Thingamajig" "the unborn little thingmeister there"
Like that.
Dohickey is no good either.

rhhardin said...

Well it ain't a giraffe all up in yer cooch.

Human as opposed to wolf, yes. A human, yes or no, depending on parents' views.

Society's views, if they differ, can't get beyond dogmatism. The language forces persist.

CStanley said...

@ Althouse 8:01 But the state actually can't protect the unborn at all because health exceptions are used so broadly as to be meaningless and privacy trumps the ability of the state to regulate what health exceptions qualify. it's a farce because the idea of the state having any ability to protect life of the unborn exists only in the abstract.

traditionalguy said...

Quiditity pro quo. Consideration for recognition as being an inhabitant of the planet and not a weed or a disease. It all amounts to "Where's the money?"

This is the politics of cash talks, and an unborn entity has only the value of a treatable disease to the Medico-industrial complex. It is not yet deemed a valuable inhabitant of our planet.



Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...

...for the sake of the unborn person."

Whoa, whoa, whoa there! Person?

Meade said...

Seems like it was Millennials who started adding "guy" to the end of identifier nouns to soften them. "Hey, Dad, pizza delivery guy is here. He needs some money!" "Hi, biker guy." "Run, old man guy, run!"

Basil said...

"Baby" works. You can even go with unborn baby. The refusal to use the most accurate word is political, to justify the asserted right to kill the unborn baby.

Tank said...

I always liked "human being under construction."

Meade said...

"Are you a Bernie guy or a Hillary?"

"Hey look, it's Puparazzo guy."

"Welcome to the world, little baby guy."

Meade said...

Personally, I prefer to save "baby" for use such as, "Hey, baby, let's go to bed early... wink... wink. Who knows — maybe we'll make an entity?"

Bob Boyd said...

Birth may be the moment you acquire rights, but it's also when you become a potential sucker, according to the old adage.
Which is the part Hillary's interested in. At least she didn't blurt that out.

Meade said...

And who can forget that lovely old 1974 pop tune by Canadian song artist, Paul Anka, "Having My Entity"?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Adjacent to the heart of liberty is the right to impose one's definition of the concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life on any clumps of cells that happen to temporarily reside within one's body.

Michael K said...

"the fact that he's to be treated as human and that how he eventually learns to be human."

Actually, if you believe Stephen Pinker and I do, All the behavior of a human is intrinsic in the baby's genetics at birth and even after viability in utero.

A child raised as a feral child, as most inner city blacks are today, will have behavioral pathology that results from a lack of parental control and nurturing. The babies in Romania orphanages were severely stunted by the lack of mothering they received but the genetics were the same. This distortion of behavior due to a lack of parenting is also seen in young male elephants that do not have older males to imprint a pattern of behavior on them. They become rogues, much as black males in inner cities do.

Another question is whether this is what Islam does to young males. They certainly seems to have an unusual number of rogues.

Nature and nurture with seem to be necessary for civilization

Laslo Spatula said...

If "reading is inherently ephemeral" what is reading about reading?

This is not even here.

I am Laslo.

Henry said...

Who about we call the unborn "the living dead".

Kevin said...

Althouse: "Why did she say "person"? Was it purely a gaffe or did she mean to wink a subtle "I care" at those who are unsettled or anguished at killing the unborn? It's hard, in conversation, to restrict yourself to "the unborn," which is neutral, but formal."

And incomplete. What is unborn? A rhinoceros? A snake?

An entity? Like a yet-to-be-filed LLC?

We are not debating the morality of killing "the unborn" in a general sense, but in a very particular one. To ignore that is to ignore the entirety of the argument at hand.

Which is really the point, now isn't it?

tim in vermont said...

The Supreme Court already held that the unborn baby human being is not a legal person. We can find precedents for finding human beings not to be legal persons in Dred Scott, for example.

Sorry you people who deny that the baby you are advocating killing is not a real baby, but the precedents are not nice. We have the Jews in Germany, should I go with that one? Oh nooos!

My favorite comment in this was at the Webster's Dictionary site, I think, where a commenter was congratulating them on not including the sense of baby in the womb for "baby." So if you were a non native speaker of English who depended on that dictionary, and you were trying to translate the phrase "I felt the baby kick this morning" coming from a pregnant woman with no actual born baby around to kick her, well you would walk away mystified I guess.

It is almost like they consider 1984 a "How to" and not a warning.

Meade said...

Didn't have to keep it
wouldn't put you through it
You could've swept it from your life
But you wouldn't do it
(I'mma woman in love
An' I love what's going' through me)
Now you're havin' my entity

tim in vermont said...

Reading is not inherently ephemeral. Lots of writing is, but that property is not inherent to the act of reading or writing. Read Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground" and you will see a lot of the psychology of blog commenters discussed. R&B types come up a lot, full of bluster and certainty, never plagued by doubt.

Vonnegut has stuck with me my whole life, even though I thought he was writing ironically mocking the ideas that apparently he really believed. Still, in its way, it was as good as Heinlein.

tim in vermont said...

"We felt the entity kicking today for the first time!!" - Happy news

"We lost the entity" - Sad news.

NewSpeak

bagoh20 said...

I like "developing human". It's honest, not trying to hide anything, nor take a position while giving the appropriate respect for it's potential. It simultaneously states it's value and it's difference from the rest of us. Terms like "entity", "thing", or even "fetus" are attempts to ignore what clearly makes it important, and consequently controversial.

Meade said...

hi bagoh guy.

Laslo Spatula said...

Imdb:

"The Entity" (1982, Barbara Hershey)

Carla Moran awakens one night to find herself being beaten and raped by an unseen presence. Terrified of what's happening to her, and shunned by friends and family who think she's lost her mind, she seeks help from parapsychologists. The researchers soon discover that evil spiritual force has been drawn to Carla and is responsible for the violent attacks.

So: unwanted baby = evil spiritual force.

I am Laslo.

Largo said...

@Fritz: I like to go with "...from its mother’s womb untimely ripped..."

tim in vermont said...

How old is language? Who knows? How intimately is it intertwined with human evolution and what it means to be human? It is central. How long have we been referring to an unborn baby as anything but a baby? That would be for about the metaphorical last tick of the second hand.

I suppose there is a liberty interest in allowing a person the killing of another person because they are inconvenient but in every civilized country, that "liberty interest" is heavily outweighed by the other person's right to life.

It takes a really smart person to believe a really stupid thing.

The only actual liberty interest involved is the inconvenient for the left argument that any government powerful enough to prohibit abortion effectively is a danger to the liberty of all. But we can't say that because we need a really powerful government to take other people's stuff for us!

Bob Ellison said...

We should encourage straight talk.

Your "unborn entity" usage makes sense, given the context. Remove the debate as best you can from the discussion at hand.

But that does not come naturally to most people in most discussions. We'd all talk differently on a bar stool than in an interview chair. We should encourage people to talk straight in the interview chair. People can tell when you're not talking straight. That's part of why that jagoff Trump is doing so well.

Hillary is a rapacious jerk, but she said something direct and simple, and she should get a pass for that from Planned Parenthood. She was trying to say something that her listeners could understand.

rhhardin said...

Cavell cites an instance:

His four-year-old wants to pay for the meal. He hands the four-year-old the money and the four-year-old puts the money on the counter for the cashier.

Did the four-year-old pay for the meal?

Part of the full performance is lacking. But you treat him as him as paying for the meal. Repeat that hundreds of time a year and he learns it.

That's treating as a human. It's a learning thing.

"He hardly seems human" of a criminal is the same word, something not learned or kept.

That's the word that's valued.

It can be in the future plans of parents, in which case a fetus is a baby. Or if not, not.

It's just how the language works.

At some point, always after birth, society takes an interest and has plans whether the parents do or not. You can push the point back with displayed cuteness until it doesn't work any more, and they you have a point of compromise for abortion that works within the language.

The holdouts will be dogmatists rather than language-interested.

oleh said...

In a the same genre, Deacon Jones gets caught up in language of equality:

https://youtu.be/Lm2l0pxYw-4

rhhardin said...

Dogmatists are worried by indefiniteness. No fuzzy lines where language doesn't take hold because interest doesn't take hold.

They care no matter what, which is in fact not caring.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that this was an unforced error on the part of Hillary. Personhood is essentially what the extreme anti-life (i.e. pro-choice) crowd want to deny the late term fetus/baby/person. It is only by denying their personhood that they can justify killing fully viable fetuses, ones that could live outside the womb. And, that is what late term abortion is, the killing of entities that are an (maybe emergency) C-section or (possibly) induced delivery away from full legal personhood, fully protected by our laws.

One of the reasons that I liked Carli Fiorina so well is that she could articulate the moderate position so well, and pointed out that the extreme position is demanding or requiring that late term abortions are morally and ethically justified. And, in my reading, that is what Hillary really did - that she essentially was defending this extreme position, which turns out to be quite contrary to that of a significant majority of Americans (who are willing to allow first term abortions, but not third term abortions, plus those who don't want any abortions). I think that you can only justify allowing third term abortions by denying the fetuses there legal personhood. And, since there is very little difference between them, and a just delivered baby of equivalent gestation, that denial seems to be both arbitrary and punitive.

Michael K said...

As fro ebooks and paper books, I use my Kindle for fiction and the physical books for non-fiction plus a few fiction books that are classics. I have several thousand of the latter and the Kindle has about 150 books on it.

rhhardin said...

The Explanatory Supplement to the American Ephermeris and Nautical Almanac is the most unreadable book ever written, owing to doing precession in spherical coordinates.

Good luck in computing where a star is, using it.

Bruce Hayden said...

I always enjoy it when Ann (and presumably Meade) come up with these posts that jump all over the place. Almost stream of consciousness. Which means that you aren't exactly sure where they are going to go. I started this one thinking about reading, and ending up thinking about abortion (which was probably intended).

Michael said...

Kevin @8:34 Well put.

And Meade is correct in the softening effect of appending "person" to what we already know as a person. But in the context of abortion as understood and discussed by the radical left applying that word essentially undermines their stance. One does not soften tree with "person" nor engine oil.

The "entity" appellation is unsettling to me. Vile actually.

Rance Fasoldt said...

Baby, fetus, infant, toddler - these are words, which we are at liberty to refine, define, revise, misuse as we may. Science, however, is very precise: it is human and it is separate and it is living, a different human being, at conception. Those facts do not change from conception through death.

Bruce Hayden said...

Rereading my longer post above, I realized that to some extent I do stream of consciousness sometimes too - noting that a lot of my argument is essentially duplicated between the two paragraphs. Which means that I rarely reread my comments after I have finished them before submitting them (which probably means that I spend much less thought commenting than Ann does blogging).

tim in vermont said...

The problem bagoh, with your perfectly sensible position, is that it is far to inflammatory! You see we must choose "entity" so that we can completely obscure the subject at hand and only speak of this in the most abstract sense. Which is hysterical, because to ask a lefty to speak in abstract terms about any other issue is futile. Everything is case by case and they will let you know when the committee decides.

tim in vermont said...

Science, however, is very precise: it is human and it is separate and it is living, a different human being, at conception.

Ha ha ha! Taxonomy is almost as political as economics or sociology.

rhhardin said...

Coleridge wrote in the margins of everything he read. They've gathered up all the paragraphs of stuff he wrote in and published it all with his margenalia, in several huge volumes from Princeton U Press.

Here's the first flyleaf of the first volume, with my notes on his notes, pic.

All my books look that that, on the flyleafs. I start at the back flyleafs.

So not too ephemeral anyway in Coleridge's case.

holdfast said...

So I am an post-birth, adult humanoid. Presumably my mother does not have the right to kill me. But do I have a Constitutional Right to protection from my mother's desire to kill me? I don't think so - unless we're no citing to the Declaration of Independence?

So why would a partially executory, in utero, pre-homonid entity have a Constitutional right against its female parental unit's enticidal tendencies?

tim in vermont said...

The argument regarding the liberty interest of the mother simply begs the question, because it pre-supposes that the right of the other human involved to life has been obliterated and must be reconstructed from the beginning within the context of some kind of near equal weight to the mother's liberty interest. Which, because she is a woman and not, for example a male draftee whose liberty interest is much more proscribed, the outcome of that weighing is preordained.


So try to think about why the term "entity" is begging the question.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Bob Boyd said...

You'd have to soften it, "Thingy" "Thingamajig" "the unborn little thingmeister there"

Thingy McThingface.

Fernandinande said...

As a thing, I'm offended.

"Thing" is inaccurate and inflammatory.

Synonyms for entity
noun thing

rhhardin said...

The point of marginalia, mostly, is to slow down reading.

It also serves to aid in re-finding stuff you want to quote.

tim in vermont said...

Scalia probably just died of the frustration of living among so many self interested fools.

rhhardin said...

Words come from interest in saying stuff. They become nuanced.

That's why esperanto is ugly. No interest behind the words.

Sane volema kara rara kamelo venas.: "A healthily wishful dear rare camel is coming."

Leslie Graves said...

I think I might say "the entity under discussion" rather than "the unborn entity".

Char Char Binks said...

I have a friend who said I was being offensive when I called someone a Jew instead of calling him Jewish. Now I just say "person of Hebraism".

tim in vermont said...

They should refer to the mother as the "Female" and the baby as the "entity" and nobody will ever question the right to abortion again! Problem solved! Also Spracht Orwell.

Karen of Texas said...

"Unborn entity" on the surface appears neutral. But to those who consider the potential human life under construction in that womb as valuable and deserving of protection no matter its stage of development, "entity" I would think has a recoil factor. Maybe it's because "entity" is used in our modern world as somehow alien - like science fiction alien - and therefore "entity" is seen as an attempt to distance one from the fact that that is a developing human? People carry their bias into the discussion. It colors their interpretation no matter what words you use.

holdfast said...

@Char Char Binks

How about a "person of no pork"?

Kidding, we love bacon.

rhhardin said...

Right to abortion is political.

I'd predict it will end but owing to low birthrates and an interest in population stability, rather than over dogmatism about whether a fetus is a human.

The woman loses the right to her body but gains a stable society, so is better off, will be the compromise.

tim in vermont said...

I think I might say "the entity under discussion" rather than "the unborn entity

Yes, because "unborn" still carries that faint whiff of humanity that might poison the discussion against your desired outcome! I see it now!

Bob Ellison said...

Karen of Texas, why not carry that bias and say out loud, your words betray you!

Let people expose their crappy biases. You hate babies, or even yourself (probably)? Go for it. Say so. Hate blacks or Jews? Say so. Don't be afraid.

tim in vermont said...

How about "widget"? Perfect!

Fernandinande said...

Laslo Spatula said...
"The Entity"
...
So: unwanted baby = evil spiritual force.


The Thing
"It's the first week of winter in 1982. An American Research Base is greeted by an alien force, that can assimilate anything it touches. It's up to the members to stay alive, and be sure of who is human, and who has become one of the Things."

So: unwanted baby != alien force.

I'll have to send a note to those thesaurus people...

Meade said...

rhhardin said...

Sane volema kara rara kamelo venas.

Tish! I just love it when you speak Esperanto!

rhhardin said...

When you and your husband make a dinner reservation when you're pregnant, do you reserve a party of three? - Alan Colmes


rhhardin said...

The esperanto is also a palindrome.

Karen of Texas said...

Bob Ellison - Go for it, I say. Not many people are either capable of recognizing or willing to consider that they are are indeed biased. Full-on blinders as it were. Or its cousin - willful ignorance.

You also must, in this wretched, social media interconnected hell, consider the big PC. Political correctness shaming keeps many people mute. Although via social media many people say crap they normally wouldn't - anonymously. There is such a thing as being civil. Blurting out whatever you are thinking or feeling is often a precription for disaster. See Donald Trump.

Meade said...

"Right to abortion is political."

I agree it's political. But the right isn't "to abortion" is it. It's the pregnant person's right against the power of government to choose whether or not to continue the pregnancy. Who gets to make the choice — government or people?

Meade said...

But it is true: at certain tipping points, the government has an existential interest in drafting people into forced labor — war, procreation...

tim in vermont said...

I agree it's political. But the right isn't "to abortion" is it. It's the pregnant person's right against the power of government to choose whether or not to continue the pregnancy. Who gets to make the choice — government or people?

You almost have it, except that in your case, the government shouldn't have any power to make murder illegal either. I mean who gets to decide? The government or the people? The right to end an inconvenient human life weighs pretty low on the scale if things as a "liberty interest."

It's the population's right as a whole to not live under a government with too many intrusive powers.

Meade said...

Did I say pregnant "person" and drafting "people"?

I meant pregnant "entity" and drafting "entities" of course.

Largo said...

@rhhardin:

"At some point, always after birth, society takes an interest and has plans whether the parents do or not."

I think that by saying 'always after birth' you are assuming the conclusion.

tim in vermont said...

But it is true: at certain tipping points, the government has an existential interest in drafting people into forced labor — war, procreation...

Oooh oooh! Mr Kotere! I have an idea, we could decide when we are at such a point with something I like to call an election! Is the black community in NYC, for example, near such a "tipping point?"

Oh noos! These things must be decided by unelected judges who often lie about what they believe to get the job!

Bob Ellison said...

Karen of Texas, well written.

madAsHell said...

Who gets to make the choice — government or people?

She made a choice when she jumped in bed with a male. After that, everything is murder. Government frowns on murder.

virgil xenophon said...

I'm surprised that AA (and others) has not brought up the example of the pregnant woman shot during a robbery and the "entity" is killed. Do not the authorities ALWAYS prosecute the offender for murder in the killing of another "human being?" In fact the news media almost always refers to "the killing of the pregnant woman's baby." Yet many of these self-same people (news"persons", police, judges, etc.,) when the life of the baby/"entity" is discussed in terms of abortion invariably discuss matters using terms like "the fetus" suggesting a less-than-human entity when they do not do so at all if the unborn "fetus" is killed by a miscreant? Is not society just a tad schizophrenic here?

Brando said...

"When you and your husband make a dinner reservation when you're pregnant, do you reserve a party of three? - Alan Colmes"

You better, if her pregnancy bump spills out into a second chair.

Meade said...

"Government frowns on murder. "

Government doesn't really frown or smile. Only people do. And sometime entities in utero do. (That's Latin. Not Esperanto.)

Brando said...

If you think abortion is keen, just refer to it as a "cell clump." Who's going to object to removing a cell clump?

Of course then you have to get into determining at which point a cell clump turns into a baby.

Hillary's "gaffe" was well-timed. Here she is pivoting to the middle for the general election. The GOP will be painted as pro-life extremists who want to prosecute women for murder when they have abortions, and meanwhile moderate ole Hillary is showing us she has concerns about aborted persons.

Meade said...

My advice to people who are "pro-life": Replace "fertilized ovum," "zygote," and "blastocyst" with "fertilized ovum person," "zygote person," and "blastocyst person."

Meade said...

"You better, if her pregnancy bump spills out into a second chair."

The clean up can be murder on the waitentity persons.

cubanbob said...

rhhardin said...
When you and your husband make a dinner reservation when you're pregnant, do you reserve a party of three? - Alan Colmes"

Ask the guy on California's death row for killing his wife and unborn entity.

Kevin said...

"When you and your husband make a dinner reservation when you're pregnant, do you reserve a party of three?" - Alan Colmes

Of course not, you're reserving based on the number of seats required and the table space required to set out the necessary food and drink. To reserve for a party of three, whether you consider the unborn child a clump of cells or a rights-bearding human would be ridiculous.

It's amazing what passes for logic in popular culture these days.

cubanbob said...

Meade said...
"Right to abortion is political."

I agree it's political. But the right isn't "to abortion" is it. It's the pregnant person's right against the power of government to choose whether or not to continue the pregnancy. Who gets to make the choice — government or people?

4/7/16, 9:37 AM"

You made an excellent argument for the elimination of child support on the part of the male biological person unless he granted affirmative consent to be a father. You also made an equally valid argument for society to not have to support financially the choice of the female person to choose single motherhood.

Paddy O said...

Reading is ephemeral? It's an imaginary activity?

I don't get this. If the only proof a person has is a physical book then they're not doing it right. It reminds me of a recent article that talked about an autistic boy that loved going to the movies. His mother said he enjoyed the changing images without any conception there was a coherent story.

Much of my being is an accumulation of the books I've read since being able to read. I write out of what I read. I speak of what I read.

The author has a way with pretty words, but I'm not quite sure she knows what it is to read. Of course, I didn't read the article, too ephemeral for me, these online discussions about physical books.

Paddy O said...

Oh, this is another thread on the ephemeral definition of human life.

We're all but undied persons. Dust to dust and whatnot.

What is the word "unborn"? Is it an adjective? It's not very clear as a noun. Unborn what? We want the unborn to be assumed, then people quibble about what the assumers assume. Unborn implies some specific entity that is to be born, so saying entity isn't really helpful, it's non-specific avoidance. Because the "unborn" is denoting an unborn something, a something that is not yet born. What is it that is not yet born in this conversation? An entity?

That word is an attempt to describe the unborn according to its current status, not connecting it with the descriptor of unborn. It is a person who is not yet born, because the process of gestation is the creation of a human along the standard course of development. Even if born with severe mental or physical issues, that which is born is a person. Entities may or may not develop into or already be a person. It's too non-specific and being non-specific isn't very scientific. Medicine depends on knowing what specific thing a thing specifically is.

If it's an entity only then that is too vague as to avoid any suggestion of its potentiality. Entity is just a fancier way of saying thing. It's wanting to speak while avoiding a known clarity.

Language games to avoid uncomfortable clarity = ephemeral ethics.

Sebastian said...

"I genuinely think it's the right word for me — the law-professor person — to use to conduct a professional, balanced examination of the judicial opinions" Let's do a survey of 1. your students and 2. the general public to see how many people agree that this is the "professional, balanced" way to examine things. Prediction: a significant minority of students will find the approach "unbalanced" from the start, and a majority of the actual pubic will pick option e., "who[m] is she kidding?"

Paddy O said...

I don't think an entity that finds reading ephemeral is a person.

Robert Cook said...

I agree that reading a physical book is far more satisfying than reading an ebook, (which I have done on my iPhone).

Bruce Hayden said...

Given my post above, I found the first paragraph in an article in Salon interesting: Camille Paglia: Feminists have abortion wrong, Trump and Hillary miscues highlight a frozen national debate

Like stumbling twin mastodons, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton fell into the abortion tar pit this past week. Trump blundered his way through a manic inquisition about abortion by MSNBC’s resident woodpecker, Chris Matthews, while Hillary committed an unforced error on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where she referred to the fetus as an “unborn person,” scandalizing the vast pro-choice lobby, who treat all attempts to “humanize” the fetus as a diabolical threat to reproductive rights.

Paddy O said...

"who treat all attempts to “humanize” the fetus as a diabolical threat to reproductive rights."

Anti-abortion folks want to humanize a fetus.
Pro-abortion folks want to entitize a fetus.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"And who can forget that lovely old 1974 pop tune by Canadian song artist, Paul Anka, "Having My Entity"?"

My first introduction to feminism. My female 7th grade humanities teacher was outraged at the presumption of the singer. Having whose baby? Funny the things that stick with you. Yes, she was hot.

Paddy O said...

Maybe we should switch to Latin: Homo Sapiens in gestatio. That way the uneducated and unsophisticated and educated and sophisticated can leave the ethics-drenched terminology for private discussions.

But that's just switching the problem to a dead language. A gestating wise person?!

At what point does an implanted entity truly become a homo sapiens? Maybe never!

jimbino said...

You mention a "Chinese person" and "black person." Just as you capitalize Chinese, you need to capitalize Black. Not all Blacks are black persons (e.g.,albinos, etc.) and some black persons (e.g., Ethiopians, etc.) are not Black. The same holds, mutatis mudandis, for White.

Further, use of the term "African American" for what we used to call Blacks should be allowed to fade away for want of accuracy, since there are many African Americans who are White or Asian and Black Brazilians who, whether American citizens or not, wouldn't call themselves "African American."

As far as a proper term for the unborn entity is concerned, why not say "unborn human being" or "unborn human life"?

Meade said...

My advice to people who are "pro-choice": Be honest. Replace "fertilized ovum," "zygote," and "blastocyst" with "human fertilized ovum," "human zygote," and "human blastocyst." In other words, call the "clump of cells" a "human clump of cells."

jimbino said...

You mention a "Chinese person" and "black person." Just as you capitalize Chinese, you need to capitalize Black. Not all Black persons are black (albinos, etc.) and some black persons (Ethiopians, etc.) are not Black. The same holds, mutatis mudandis, for White.

Further, use of the term "African American" for what we used to call Blacks should be allowed to fade away for want of accuracy, since there are many African Americans who are White or Asian and Black Brazilians who, whether American citizens or not, wouldn't call themselves "African American."

As far as a proper term for the unborn entity is concerned, why not say "unborn human being" or "unborn human life"?

Bay Area Guy said...

"My advice to people who are "pro-choice": Be honest"

Honesty isn't a left-wing value. Slogans and narratives are.

Fernandinande said...

tim in vermont said...
They should refer to the mother as the "Female" and the baby as the "entity" and nobody will ever question the right to abortion again! Problem solved! Also Spracht Orwell.


The female thing has an entity which becomes a thing after it's ejected.

rhhardin said...

You'd think morse code would be ephemeral but my early teen ham conversations are just now arriving at HD 189733b, at least on the upper bands.

F said...

The same social pressure is at work by political entities (quiddities?) who insist on the term "gay marriage." If gay marriage is indeed marriage, it does not need a qualifier; if it is not, it deserves its own name. Not as a social matter, but rather as a linguistic reality. I believe having the term "gay marriage" forced upon us is an attempt to accomplish a social result, but in reality it creates a linguistic differentiation. It would have been better, I think, to create an entirely new term that recognizes a reality and gives it social acceptability rather than hitching a ride on an existing term. I have suggested the term "farriage." Or come up with your own.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Black Entities Don't Matter?

rhhardin said...

"Human in embryo" is fine. The interests of the speaker might be anything.

Sammy Finkelman said...

"Reading is inherently ephemeral, but it feels less so when you’re making your way through a physical book..."

I read this column yesterday in the New York Post - -about how she stopped borrowing books for her children from the library because books got lost and due dates became more important to her than work deadlines, and started buying books instead, and how gifts of books are good amd a physical book is much better than the same thing on a Kindle. She used to worry about how much time her childre would spend reading abook or whether it was better to wait for the paperback, but she stopped doing all that.

http://nypost.com/2016/04/05/the-right-way-to-spoil-your-kids/

When a book arrives, they rip open the packaging, feel the cover, study the illustrations, read the description and then run off with it, so their siblings won’t be able to get a hold of it...

..,Books have become treats. Almost all the birthday presents I buy for their friends are also books. I ask the kids to give me recommendations of books they think other kids will like...

... No doubt I spend more money than I have to on books. I wouldn’t want to show my Amazon order history to older generations of my family.

But spoiling my kids with books is something that gives me great pleasure. I buy my children a lot of books because they like reading, but I also think they like reading because I buy them a lot of books.

Like all kids, they enjoy owning things. And while I’m not trying to encourage crass materialism, I think that they should take pride in the books they own — particularly once they’ve finished reading them.


If money is a problem, there are used books, and many books can get gotten online for $4.00 with shipping, and random books bought in places for $1.00 or $2.00. There are also ways to handle library books. They can now be renewed online, and all of them can be renewed periodically at the same time, Every three weeks, or whatever the library's check-out period is. Although that won't do anything about lost or misplaced books or books on reserve or exceeding the number of renewals. Everyone has something they find easy to do, that others have probems with and vice versa.





Birkel said...

"Who gets to make the choice -- the government or people?" -- Meade

You typed that without irony, as if the government is not people? How odd.

jimbino said...

@Meade My advice to people who are "pro-choice": Be honest.

Furthermore, call the sperm and the egg "human sperm" and "human egg." And a cancer tumor "human cancer tumor." They are equally deserving of the protection afforded the fetus.

It's too bad that SCOTUS didn't base the Roe v. Wade decision on the self-defense right of a woman to eliminate an unwelcome 9-month long touching. Then we wouldn't have to deal with all this artificial "trimester" nonsense or wonder when "quickening" occurs, since every state allows a person to kill, if necessary, an already born attacker who threatens death and serious bodily injury.

jimbino said...

@Meade My advice to people who are "pro-choice": Be honest.

Furthermore, call the sperm and the egg "human sperm" and "human egg." And a cancer tumor "human cancer tumor." They are equally deserving of the protection afforded the fetus.

It's too bad that SCOTUS didn't base the Roe v. Wade decision on the self-defense right of a woman to eliminate an unwelcome 9-month long touching. Then we wouldn't have to deal with all this artificial "trimester" nonsense or wonder when "quickening" occurs, since every state allows a person to kill, if necessary, an already born attacker who threatens death and serious bodily injury.

MadisonMan said...

Do not the authorities ALWAYS prosecute the offender for murder in the killing of another "human being?"

Prosecutors charge offenders with as many crimes as they can possibly do. I think of it as job insurance for prosecutors. "We need 5 prosecutors on this case because we've charged Mr. Heinous with 47 different felonies" -- when really what happened is the guy committed one serious crime. But what if they charge Mr. Heinous with just the one crime....and for some reason Mr. Heinous is found not guilty?

Sammy Finkelman said...

jimbino said...

You mention a "Chinese person" and "black person." Just as you capitalize Chinese, you need to capitalize Black.

The word Negro is, or was, capitalized. Black isn't, except when called for for some other reason, like at the start of sentence. That's because "black" is really an adjective rather than a noun, although it is used as a noun, except you don't mean it literally, and even the color (of the skin) is wrong. It should be chocolate, or pumpernickel, or brown, except brown is - sometimes - used for some other people.

You can always use African-American, which isn't 100% accurate either, since what you mean is a person descended from the pre-Columbian inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa, some of whose ancestors were involuntarily transported to the western hemisphere before 1860 at the latest, and that's not the literal meaning of "African-American".

I Callahan said...

If Clinton had just skipped the word "person" and left it as "unborn" by itself, we'd probably be discussing ephemeral reading as its own post...

rhhardin said...

It has to be perperson to avoid the sexist "son."

Meade said...

Birkel said...
"Who gets to make the choice -- the government or people?" -- Meade

You typed that without irony, as if the government is not people? How odd.


The government isn't people. It isn't even an entity. How odd that you would think it is.

Sammy Finkelman said...

I don't think "unborn person" implies anything about the right to life.

After all, you can also say "imaginary person"

Unborn person can mean that this creature becomes a person when and if it is born. Pre-born would be more consistent with the right to life.

Sammy Finkelman said...

While a corporation may be a person, the government isn't.

jimbino said...

@Finkelman

Here's a discussion of "black" vs. "Black."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/opinion/the-case-for-black-with-a-capital-b.html

Freeman Hunt said...

I write in my books. I went to a Bible study this week and took an Oxford Annotated Bible that I don't often use but have had for almost two decades. It has marginalia spanning years as an atheist up to now as a Christian. Fun to peruse.

Sebastian said...

@Birklel: "Who gets to make the choice -- the government or people?" -- Meade

You typed that without irony, as if the government is not people? How odd."

Only one of many oddities in the pro-"choice" camp. Of which I am a very reluctant member.

But the more basic question is: who gets to make the choice about who gets to make the choice, SCOTUS or people? The baseless arrogation of power by an unelected body in defiance of tradition, precedent, logic, and the actual meaning of the actual Constitution, is the true absurdity here.

Terry said...

Philosophers used to refer to human beings as being 'rational substances.' The government has no substance. It is an idea, or 'an occurrence within rational substances' (note the plural).

bagoh20 said...

We all have billions of "entities" living inside us, so some additional specificity is required - at least an email address.

Owen said...

"It's too bad that SCOTUS didn't base the Roe v. Wade decision on the self-defense right of a woman to eliminate an unwelcome 9-month long touching."

What about the prohibition on quartering troops in peacetime?

Rusty said...

The government isn't people. It isn't even an entity. How odd that you would think it is.

Then tell it to quit asking me for money.

Smilin' Jack said...

But I'm not looking for a euphemism or to obscure.

"Thing" is inaccurate and inflammatory. It doesn't obscure. It takes a position. I'd never use "thing" as the right word in teaching abortion cases. Think about why "entity" is the right word for the situation.


Ummm...because it's an obscure euphemism for "thing"?

Full Definition of entity
plural en·ti·ties
1
a : being, existence; especially : independent, separate, or self-contained existence
b : the existence of a thing as contrasted with its attributes
2
: something that has separate and distinct existence and objective or conceptual reality

Laura said...

Unwelcome nine-month touching, the surprise doppelganger of unconstrained touching...

Since intent to attack with threat of death or serious bodily injury allegedly applies to unborn children, can prenatal exit mode agreements be far behind?

A smart grandchild would limit the number of heirs to a candidate's lucrative foundation.

Meade said...

Alright, I take that back. The government IS an entity. But it isn't people. Ideally, it's of, by, and for people.

Meade said...

And if government becomes oppressive (for example: asking Rusty for too much money), then the people have a natural right to abort it and start over by imagining and agreeing on a new entity called"government."

There. I think I've got that right.

bagoh20 said...

The government, as currently configured, is not an entity, people or even an idea. It most often functions as an excuse.

Meade said...

Ah but I have done my research and I now know that even an excuse is an entity. Metaphysics 101, bro. I mean, bro guy.

Richard Dolan said...

"I guessed that it all started with 'Jewish person.'"

Meade is no doubt right about the way "person" has come to be used as an ameliorative, given the sensitivity to identity issues these days. But it is strange nonetheless since the whole "person" idea with its "identity" focus is so un-Jewish, as Jonathan Sacks explained in his commentary on Genesis. As he notes, the English word "person" is derived from the Latin "persona", which originally meant "a mask" worn by an actor in a play or other theatrical presentation. The word took on the meaning of a role played by someone in society, immortalized in the society-as-theatre metaphor ("All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players ...."). From there it was a short hop to today's meaning of an individual in society.

But that original idea of role-playing is still embedded in how we use "person" in English -- we talk about being one "person" at work and a different one at home, the "games we play," etc. That same idea is at the heart of the existentialist crisis -- what's left when all the "roles" unravel, all the "masks" are stripped away? Sacks notes that there is no word for "person" in Biblical Hebrew, because the Bible rejects the idea of society-as-theatre or self-as-roleplayer on a stage. Far from being the masks we wear, we are beings made in the image of God who knows our hearts and minds no matter what mask we try to wear.

That provides a different spin to Hillary! gaffe-speak -- an instant before it is born, an infant is a "person" with no role to play in the world, no place on the stage, no claim on the audience's attention, just a prop to be dealt with accordingly. I'm not suggesting Hillary! was thinking in those terms (or any terms other than that in Dem-world abortion is an absolute right so who cares what terminology is used). But the semantic differences between the Latin and Hebrew concepts at work, and how they've developed and played out over the millennia, sheds some light on how so many today devalue the gift of life.



bagoh20 said...

An entity can be an excuse, but an excuse is like a newborn American - it can be anything it wants to be if it just applies itself.

wildswan said...

The government gave the woman the power to determine the language used about her clump of cells or unborn child. This in turn gave her the power to abort it or be its mother. Why should not the father or the government have the power to determine the language used about the entity in question? Because if they, as well as the woman could determine the language then when they disagreed with the woman it would become necessary to determine the truth about the entity or at least - in terms of secularism - to settle its contested legal status. And this gets to the questions that are beginning to be asked about the basis of secularism. How do you settle a question such as that posed by abortion - who gets to determine the language when in a case where the language determines who gets to live? The government said it could say "the woman gets to determine the language" - but why?

Religion and philosophy have answers to these questions but these answers are contested, the language is not settled. Secularism is powerful but its answer on this question has no other basis - "because I said so", hardly a moral or philosophical position. That position could be flushed away like a Kindle book from the cloud or an unborn child today.

I'm still reading The Dialectics of Secularization in which Jurgen Habermas and Cardinal Ratzinger debate how the talk about whether secularism, the prevailing social structure, has any philosophical basis and how religion and secularism might talk about the current situation. A short book or a long book, depending on reading time vs. comprehension - just like life.

Paddy O said...

My suggestion is to skip Habermas and read Luhman.

virgil xenophon said...

Time is not on the pro-choice side. With every passing second, hour, day, week, month and year science is traveling back down the time-line to the point of inception in terms of survivability of the fetus/baby outside the womb. Today major "corrective surgery" designed to help the "baby" once "born" is done on "babies" once thought to be naught but a "fetus" without human characteristics. Whether science,and metaphysics will ever meet at the point of inception to declare the resultant fertilized human cells a lifeform deserving of the sort of rights and protections we accord those making it into this world via a "live birth" is currently strictly conjecture, but again, time is not on the side of the pro-choice crowd..

rhhardin said...

Modern insult heard somewhere this morning - One hundred thousand sperm and you were the fastest?

Unknown said...

Someone who was blind once explained to me that, even better than putting "person" after the category, move it before the category in the sentence. "Blind people" becomes "People who are blind". I know it sounds minor and maybe even overly PC, which is what I thought at first. But since becoming aware of it, I've noticed that it takes a little bit of edge and discomfort off of classifying people.

wildswan said...

Here's another language question. Is race a biological category? The answer from the secular state was "no" from the end of World War II to the end of the Human Genome Project. But now the answer is "yes, if the purpose is to achieve social justice or better health through understanding genome based categories." see Race Decoded by Catherine Bliss. But can the rise of "good racism", "really scientific and only to be used for social justice purposes racism" can it all really be good? Can we expect that re-establishing race as a biological category and in consequence abolishing the social goal of the the color-blind society, can all this really result in anything but socially acceptable segregation? Even if Black Lives Matter wants it, even if the sniveling-snowflakes of the campus want it, even if the new eugenicists want it (and they do) - isn't segregation wrong in every possible senses of the word, in all languages, and all the time? Don't we know this by now?

Terry said...

"Person" is not a biological description. People talked about personhood long before they knew anything about biology. They knew that human beings were persons, but animals were not persons. I am going from memory, but I believe the Medieval definition of person was a being with reason, emotion, and will. Hence non-biological beings (like God and the Devil) were persons, but animals were not.
Consciousness should not be required to be considered a person. I am still a person when I am sleeping.

poker1one said...

This is the culture of death feminism that has arisen. It's why feminists don't give muslims a hard time about their treatment of their women because they are drawn to the death part. Both are death cults. Demons walk the earth, Hillary is one.

wildswan said...

Since 1945 "abortion" and "race" have been redefined - and the results seem under fire. Other words may become non-words. Paradigm Lost - and in my opinion the sociologists will not find it. But they will be funded by the government. This will lead to a new version of the investiture conflict which rocked Europe in the eleventh century. I know this because when all else fails, I return to reading William of Malmesbury, a good source for that conflict. I download the text and illustrate it with pictures from illuminated manuscripts and cathedral statues of the time. This is not a book, unless I print it but not a Kindle either. Far away from the election, and other present dangers, I immerse in a past regardless of its future.

jimbino said...

@ Virgil Xenophon:

Time is not on the pro-choice side. With every passing second, hour, day, week, month and year science is traveling back down the time-line to the point of inception in terms of survivability of the fetus/baby outside the womb.

That's the beauty of deciding a woman's right to terminate the pregnancy at any stage on the basis of self-defense.

If you are attacked by another, an adult, a child suicide bomber, an animal or a fetus that, in your honest belief threatens you with death or serious bodily injury, you may kill to defend yourself. Self-defense theory does not rely on "intent," "science," "survivability," "quickening" or "innocence" of the attacker. You may certainly kill the attacker, especially if there is no alternative way to stop the attack, as is the case of a gestating fetus.

Lydia said...

The Guardian writing about pandas: "Edinburgh zoo has said that its giant panda Tian Tian has again lost a cub during pregnancy, despite growing optimism in recent weeks that the zoo’s midwifery would finally pay off." A cub, not an unborn entity. Funny, that.

Paddy O said...

It's not self-defense to kill someone you've invited to stay in your home just because they're interfering in your plans to go out.

Fernandinande said...

wildswan said...
Here's another language question. Is race a biological category?


Yes. And yes. And of course it is.

cubanbob said...
Meade said... [some stuff]
You made an excellent argument for the elimination of child support on the part of the male biological person unless he granted affirmative consent to be a father. You also made an equally valid argument for society to not have to support financially the choice of the female person to choose single motherhood.


You seem to be assuming some sort of weird "equal treatment under the law". The "womens be special" argument doesn't succumb to logic.

Ann Althouse said...

"You mention a "Chinese person" and "black person." Just as you capitalize Chinese, you need to capitalize Black. Not all Blacks are black persons (e.g.,albinos, etc.) and some black persons (e.g., Ethiopians, etc.) are not Black. The same holds, mutatis mudandis, for White."

Me? No, I didn't. I said "white person."

Robert Cook said...

"Prosecutors charge offenders with as many crimes as they can possibly do. I think of it as job insurance for prosecutors. 'We need 5 prosecutors on this case because we've charged Mr. Heinous with 47 different felonies' -- when really what happened is the guy committed one serious crime. But what if they charge Mr. Heinous with just the one crime....and for some reason Mr. Heinous is found not guilty?"

The purpose of piling charges on charges is not job insurance for prosecutors, but to overwhelm the defendant with charges and make the defendant aware that a conviction at trial on all or even several of the charges will result in an exceedingly long--if not life--sentence. The defendant is encouraged to take a plea bargain that will result in a lesser sentence, (if often still long).

The aim is to avoid going to trial, which is time-consuming, expensive, and uncertain of outcome. It is judicial tyranny, as most defendants don't have the means to hire top-level defense attorneys, so many take the plea even if they may be innocent, simply in order to have a chance of seeing freedom in 20 years, for example, rather than 40 years, or never.

Robert Cook said...

"Is race a biological category?"

No.

However, racists think it is, and they operate in thought or deed from that first principle. I'm not quite sure what the rest of your disquisition is on about.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Me? No, I didn't. I said "white person."

The preferred term is "typical white person" Professor.

mtrobertslaw said...

Rather than talking about "unborn entities", a phrase that encompasses all "entities" that are not "born" and therefore includes beer cans, a more fruitful approach would be to have a class discussion on the definition of a "person".

Jonathan Graehl said...

quiddity = essential quality. for a two-part concept (e-book) i guess you'd be talking about the thing that makes it e- as opposed to not).

question: why not just say 'essential quality' in all cases? this isn't a concept you'd often use in front of someone who knows what 'quiddity' means (i didn't, and i easily memorized every likely-tested word back in the day)

Jonathan Graehl said...

i think you're just supposed to say 'jews'. you seem like some kind of weirdo if you say 'jewish person'. a good rule of thumb: what do they call themselves?

tim in vermont said...

Is race a biological category?"

No.


Taxonomy is totally political. No matter how much medical evidence comes up, for example, that race is an important factor in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and not just lifestyle related disease either, we can count on Robert to deny it. I am sure that he is the other white guy, besides Michael Moore, who believes that OJ is innocent, too.

There was a recent article, for example that was written about a finding that there are five basic brain morphologies in the human species, and that by studying this factor alone, they can determine your ancestry accurately. Not your race, they were quick to add, but your ancestry. LOL.

tim in vermont said...

Chocolate rations will be increased from 50 grams to 30.

Largo said...

"Furthermore, call the sperm and the egg "human sperm" and "human egg." And a cancer tumor "human cancer tumor." They are equally deserving of the protection afforded the fetus."

@jimbino:
Do you think that these things are equally deserving of the protection afforded to postnatal human beings?

Largo said...

"""I don't think "unborn person" implies anything about the right to life.

After all, you can also say "imaginary person"

Unborn person can mean that this creature becomes a person when and if it is born. Pre-born would be more consistent with the right to life."""

@Sammy:

I think this is assuming a bit to much. It is true that some adjectives modify the nouns that way. The adjectives 'imaginary' and 'fictional' do. A 'toy giraffe' is not a real giraffe (though a 'toy dog' is often a real dog, and a 'toy knife' *could* be a real knife.) Also some seeming adjectives are not adjectives but parts of a compound noun. Not every 'great white shark' is great or white, and 'sea horse' is certainly not a horse -- but it is a real thing.

Does 'unborn' function the same way as 'imaginary'? I don't think so. I think to use 'unborn' *to mean* something like 'imaginary' is misleading and inapt. At the very least it is highly tendentious. You might try to make the case that this is a correct use, but that is simply to say that you might try to make the case that the fetus *is* imaginary. But do say that it is imaginary because (i) it is unborn and because (ii) 'unborn' means 'imaginary' is begging the question. Try harder. Up your game.

After all, if calling it an 'unborn child' means it is an imaginary chile, then calling it an 'unborn fetus' means it is an imaginary fetus. But it is and unborn fetus, right? ;)

Perhaps there are *metaphorical* uses of 'unborn' in which 'unborn' might mean 'as yet imaginary, but with potential to be actual'. Perhaps you can say that the unborn fetus has unborn *rights*. The rights will be born (ie become actual) when the fetus is delivered.

Let me be clear. In this way it *does* make *sense* to speak of 'unborn persons' and 'imaginary persons', if you believe that personhood does not exist until the fetus is born. I am not saying that it is nonsensical to speak of 'unborn persons' where 'unborn' is taken to mean 'imaginary'. What I am saying is that you cannot argue that personhood does not exist until the person is born on the *basis* of saying it is an 'unborn person'. (And I will advise you to consider that if you do start using 'unborn' to *mean* 'imaginary' when you speak of 'unborn person', your usage will be very nonstandard even among pro-choice advocates and more likely to cause *miscommunication* than communication.)

Cheers!
I am Largo

Largo said...

Ugh. Many typos are above. Your forbearance of them while reading is appreciated.

Sammy Finkelman said...

"I don't think "unborn person" implies anything about the right to life.

After all, you can also say "imaginary person"

Unborn person can mean that this creature becomes a person when and if it is born. Pre-born would be more consistent with the right to life."

Largo said...

I think this is assuming a bit to much.

That may be subjecting the word to too much analysis. But often people really do have in mind what a full exploration of the meaning would be - and people were doing it the other way.

Does 'unborn' function the same way as 'imaginary'? I don't think so.

It could. Not imaginary, but "not-yet-present" Unborn does carry with it the idea that there is an expectation it will be born, but not necessarily. An "unborn revolution" is a revolution that never came to pass.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/egypt%E2%80%99s-unborn-revolution-10812.html

http://shswavebreaker.com/opinion/columns/2016/03/15/beyonces-unborn-revolution/

After all, if calling it an 'unborn child' means it is an imaginary chile, then calling it an 'unborn fetus' means it is an imaginary fetus. But it is and unborn fetus, right? ;)

Actually that's an oxy-moron.

Perhaps you can say that the unborn fetus has unborn *rights*. The rights will be born (ie become actual) when the fetus is delivered.

You could say that actually.

What I am saying is that you cannot argue that personhood does not exist until the person is born on the *basis* of saying it is an 'unborn person'.

I wasn't arguing that. I was saying that the term "unborn person" does not concede that what we have now is a "person." Someone could say that to be a person you need to be born - or at least delivered via a Caesarian section.

Sammy Finkelman said...

What's really standard pro-life is "unborn child" Person is too grown up, plus calling the uborn child a person might imply that abortion is the same thing as murder, and maybe should carry the death penalty, or whatever you give to a mother who kills her pre-school age children.

I was just reading one case in the newspaper, where a woman who had killed her infant and maybe 4-year old because their father had left her for another woman with whom he had another chlld, was sentenced to something or other. No, the news peg is that she was just convicted. She had looked up methods on the Internet. The first method, adding two tablespoons of windshield wiper to their grape juice, didn't work, so then she tried drowning.

And then she tried to commit suicide by turning on the gas, but that hasn't worked since about 1953 or so, when they switched from "coal gas" which was about 10% carbon monoxide, to "natural gas," which contains only methane and ethane.

http://io9.gizmodo.com/5959303/why-have-people-stopped-committing-suicide-with-gas

So then she cut her wrists and drank the windshield wiper fluid but that didn't succeed either. She only killed her children.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/09/nyregion/bronx-woman-convicted-of-poisoning-and-drowning-her-children.html

A lot of women think that if they gave birth to a child they have a right to kill them. And sometimes want to, if they are planning to kill themselves.

I just found a case where awoman did get the death penalty (in Alabama) for klling pre-school children. But they were her step-children, and infliction of pain previously was also involved.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/alabama-woman-sentenced-death-kids-torture-murder-article-1.2332679

Largo said...

I take your point about "unborn child".

Blogger just ate most of the comment I just wrote to you. The following paragraph is all that remains. It lacks some of the context I wanted to have, but I think it stands pretty well on it's own. So here it is:

"It frustrates me to see language twisted for polemic ends, but worse still is when language bewitches our own thinking without our knowing it. I have my own views on the ethics of abortion but I rarely opine. What I am after, above all [or at lease *before* all], is language that distinguishes things *that are* from other things *that are*, prior to ethical discussion. Perhaps my best example is distinctions in purposes in seeking an abortion. The perspective of 'my body my choice' affords two different views of the fetus. One that the fetus is *in* my body, and I have the right to decide what resides in my body and what does not. This gives ground for the desire of a pregnant woman to 'GET IT OUT'. The other is that the fetus *is* (part of) my body and so I have the right to do what I want with it. This gives ground for the desire of a pregnant woman to 'MAKE IT DEAD'. In the past the only way to get the fetus out of the body was to kill it. In other words, the only way to abort the pregnancy was to kill the fetus. With so called 'partial birth abortions' the acts of GET IT OUT and MAKE IT DEAD have become separable. Now: is there a significant moral difference between a woman wanting the fetus OUT and wanting the fetus DEAD? I am inclined to think there is. What the difference is I am not sure. What it should mean as a matter of public policy I don't know. What it might mean for pre (or post) counselling of the pregnant (or once pregnant) woman, I don't know. [Note how I am deliberately avoiding the word 'mother']."

(I don't know what your purpose in providing the cases you just did, but they are grim, and I think it is your statement 'A lot of women think that if they gave birth to a child they have a right to kill them' which made me think of my 'GET IT OUT'/'MAKE IT DEAD' distinction. In any case this in an interesting discussion and I would enjoy having it continue. I have an ethical point of view on abortion but I rarely opine about it. I am more immediately interested in finding language that mutually acceptable regarding the ontological aspects of abortion. Ethics can follow. (Of course some ontological clarifications *might* make *some* people's ethical position problematic, which I think is one reason why many people do not *like* language that makes things clear.) )