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Thread: Does a zygote have rights?

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    Does a zygote have rights?

    The purpose of this thread is to continue/reboot the debate between myself and Chuz Life within the general topic of abortion legality. My contention is this: since joining the forums, Chuz has posted pro-life arguments based on the initial assumption of "the fact that a human individuals life biologically begins at conception". However, ever since he started a thread attempting to convince others of this 'fact', he has consistently ignored the vast majority of arguments against his reasoning - while continuing to tout the 'fact' in other threads. This has got to the state where I can't think of a single argument backing up his 'fact' that I have not seen (or, in many cases, written) a rebuttal to.

    My challenge to Chuz, then, is to provide an argument which backs up his statement. The statement is: "Biologically speaking, a human individual's life begins at conception". An alternative (shorter!) wording of the statement, taking into account the greater context of the Constitution, would be "A zygote is a person". As hinted by the title, the general context of this thread is how the statement relates to the rights of a zygote; we may end up branching out into that area, but the statement is the starting point.

    Feel free to repeat any prior arguments you've made, Chuz; I welcome this thread as the 'start anew' you suggested elsewhere. While I'll probably use the ideas I've rebutted with before, I'm quite aware I wasn't as accurate in my wording of some posts as I could have been; so no assumptions of my position on any specifics, please, just as I will (try to) make no assumptions of yours. In light of that - and given that it is you who is defending your position - I leave it to you to make your own arguments, rather than have me rebut a possibly misrepresented one.

    Fire away.

    NB: This is in the Challenger's Corner on request from Chuz, not me. As such, I cannot guarentee a swift reply - one is highly likely, but not guarenteed. Hopefully this won't make much of a difference.
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head.

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    I accept your challenge, IANGB!

    For those interested in voting on the issue; "When does a human individual's life begin?" (click on the link)

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    The purpose of this thread is to continue/reboot the debate between myself and Chuz Life within the general topic of abortion legality.
    Fair enough.

    However, before we start I would like to clarify a few minor points in your opening challenge.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    My contention is this: since joining the forums, Chuz has posted (1) pro-life arguments based on the (2) initial assumption of "the fact that a human individuals life biologically begins at conception".
    1. IANGB, I consider my arguments to be "anti-elective abortion" not "pro-life." And I would appreciate it if you would try to understand the differences between the two. "Pro-lifers" approach the abortion debate from an "all life is sacred" generally religious based point of view. I do not. I neither believe that "all life is sacred" nor that "god" or religion should be used in the debate at all.

    2. My argument that a "human individual's life biologically begins at conception" is not an "assumption." It is a conclusion. A conclusion reached by an in depth study of the facts and references available. Please don't malign my position in this way again as I will not attempt to malign yours.


    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    However, ever since he (Chuz) started a thread attempting to convince others of this 'fact', he has consistently ignored the vast majority of arguments against his reasoning - while continuing to tout the 'fact' in other threads.
    I'm not sure what thread or posts you are talking about, IANGB. But If you are talking about posts where I invited you to start a challenger's corner debate,... here we are.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    This has got to the state where I can't think of a single argument backing up his (Chuz's) 'fact' that I have not seen (or, in many cases, written) a rebuttal to.
    That's great,... hopefully you will re-post some of them here and we can debate/ discuss them.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    My challenge to Chuz, then, is to provide an argument which backs up his statement. The statement is: "Biologically speaking, a human individual's life begins at conception".
    I accept.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    An alternative (shorter!) wording of the statement, taking into account the greater context of the Constitution, would be "A (human) zygote is a person". As hinted by the title, the general context of this thread is how the statement relates to the rights of a zygote; we may end up branching out into that area, but the statement is the starting point.
    Please note that I added the word "human" to your comment above IANGB. After all it is not my claim that all zygotes are human beings / "persons." Agree? Also, I want to make it clear that I am arguing only for the most basic of human rights (life) and not for the full panopoly of rights that say an adult human individual would have.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Feel free to repeat any prior arguments you've made, Chuz; I welcome this thread as the 'start anew' you suggested elsewhere. While I'll probably use the ideas I've rebutted with before, I'm quite aware I wasn't as accurate in my wording of some posts as I could have been; so no assumptions of my position on any specifics, please, just as I will (try to) make no assumptions of yours.

    In light of that - and given that it is you who is defending your position - I leave it to you to make your own arguments, rather than have me rebut a possibly misrepresented one.

    Fire away.

    NB: This is in the Challenger's Corner on request from Chuz, not me. As such, I cannot guarentee a swift reply - one is highly likely, but not guarenteed. Hopefully this won't make much of a difference.
    Pasted from another thread;

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz Life View Post
    You have my respect for accepting the challenge, (my challenge to you to issue this challenge) IANGB. You also have my respect for defining your disagreement with me in a fair (almost uncomfortably) challenging way that considers both our points of views quite nicely.

    I accept your challenge and (as you eluded to) reserve the right to take my time on some of the more challenging responses.

    If we have to agree to disagree at the end, I hope that we will have had the most informative. intellectually honest and civil discussion possible. And that it serves as an example and benefit to others.

    Let's get it on!
    P.S. If it's ok with you, IANGB,... I would like to keep this debate ONLY between the two of us; and (if it's ok with Admin) I would like to create a mirror thread in the Abortion forum for those who want to add their 2 cents.

    Ref; Challengers Corner
    This is the challenger’s forum for one on one only debates. Start a thread with your challenge, then PM your opponent with a brief description and a link. It’s up to them if they want to accept..
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-23-2009 at 06:21 PM.
    "How can a government that has the authority to grant or to deny "personhood" to a prebirth child not also have the authority to define "marriage" as it sees fit to address the general welfare of the nation?" - Chuz Life

    Something smells!

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    Exclamation Words have meanings

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    My challenge to Chuz, is to provide an argument which backs up this statement. The statement is: "Biologically speaking, a human individual's life begins at conception".
    IANGB I hope you don't mind the slight rephrase to begin my arguments.

    Before I proceed anything further,... is this (above) ok with you?
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-19-2009 at 11:47 AM.
    "How can a government that has the authority to grant or to deny "personhood" to a prebirth child not also have the authority to define "marriage" as it sees fit to address the general welfare of the nation?" - Chuz Life

    Something smells!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    P.S. If it's ok with you, IANGB,... I would like to keep this debate ONLY between the two of us; and (if it's ok with Admin) I would like to create a mirror thread in the Abortion forum for those who want to add their 2 cents.
    That sounds good to me. Although it might be easiest to preserve flow later on it we don't actually mirror each of our posts once comments arrive (and inevitably digress) - just let people quote/cite us from this one if needs be. I certainly plan on adding in more off-topic commentary/digressions in the mirror thread (marked in these posts as *, when I remember to).

    Incidentally, I hate to be finicky with names, but there's not need to go all-caps with my name - I keep imagining you shouting it! Iangb, iangb or just plain Ian is all good.

    IANGB, I consider my arguments to be "anti-elective abortion" not "pro-life." And I would appreciate it if you would try to understand the differences between the two. "Pro-lifers" approach the abortion debate from an "all life is sacred" generally religious based point of view. I do not. I neither believe that "all life is sacred" nor that "god" or religion should be used in the debate at all.
    Fair enough; I was just simplifying and using 'pro-life' as a dichotomy with 'pro-choice'. Clearly, it's not that simple.

    With regards to religion in the debate - that's fine by me for this thread*.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    My argument that a "human individual's life biologically begins at conception" is not an "assumption." It is a conclusion reached by an in depth study of the facts and references available. Please don't malign my position this way again as I will not attempt to malign yours.
    Apologies, that wasn't my intention. My meaning was this; while it was your conclusion, your use of it as an unsupported 'fact' forced us to treat it as an assumption. We had no way by which we could make it a conclusion - that's the purpose of this thread!

    That's great,... hopefully you will re-post some of [your rebuttals] here and we can debate/ discuss them.
    I will; but I'd like you to make your arguments before I post the rebuttal! This ensures that I haven't just misread/misremembered your position from earlier - it also saves me wasting time rebutting something which you can instantly dismiss as a misunderstanding of your POV.

    I will post an argument supporting my POV for you to rebut, however - either at the end of this post or (more likely) tomorrow, depending on when sleep happens.

    Please note that I added the word "human" to your comment above IANGB. After all it is not my claim that all zygotes are human beings / "persons." Agree? Also, I want to make it clear that I am arguing only for the most basic of human rights (life) and not for the full panopoly of rights that say an adult human individual would have.
    "Human" is all good, as is your definition of the right you are arguing for - although I may use that definition as a talking point! I have no objections here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    I hope that we will have had the most informative. intellectually honest and civil discussion possible. And that it serves as an example and benefit to others.

    Let's get it on!
    Ditto! With that in mind...

    I want to let you make your own arguments for your position before I post a rebuttal to any of them, for reasons described above. Instead, though, I can post a brief few arguments of my own.

    Firstly: the statement you are trying to support is "Biologically speaking, a human individual's life begins at conception". However, the word 'life' - that which you are arguing has a factually determinable beginning, does not have an absolute biological definition. To quote the wikipedia article on it: "It is still a challenge for scientists and philosophers to define life in unequivocal terms". This is doubly the case when considering the 'life' of an individual, as opposed to the 'life' of, say, a skin cell. For example, a person with no brain activity can be composed of living cells if they are kept on life support, but legally and medically the individual is considered dead.

    The argument, then: If 'life' has no definitive definition, how can you argue that it has a clearly definable start?

    Secondly: Consider a zygote. According to you, it is an individual. But a zygote can split into two - to form monozygotic, or 'identical', twins. Before splitting, it is one 'individual'. Afterwards, it is two. Where has the extra individual come from? Given that the split can happen up to 15 days after fertilisation, when was the start of that individuals life?

    Thirdly: In contrast to identical twins, consider a chimera organism. A chimera is made up of cells containing one of two different strands of human DNA - they are formed when two fertilised eggs or early embryos collide and become one embryo, which then goes on to be a single human being. Given that the single individual was created by the merging of two different individuals (by your definition), when was the biological start of their life?
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head.

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    Procedures procedures,...

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    It might be easiest to preserve flow later on it we don't actually mirror each of our posts once comments arrive (and inevitably digress) - just let people quote/cite us from this one if needs be.
    My thoughts exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Incidentally, I hate to be finicky with names, but there's not need to go all-caps with my name - I keep imagining you shouting it! Iangb, iangb or just plain Ian is all good.
    It's a habit thing I'll see what I can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    My meaning was this; while it was your conclusion, your use of it as an unsupported 'fact' forced us to treat it as an assumption. We had no way by which we could make it a conclusion - that's the purpose of this thread!
    As far as I am concerned, the purpose of this thread is to discuss in greater focus and detail the facts that I have supported my conclusions upon. If in the end you still do not agree with or share my conclusions,.... you must know that-that in itself will negate neither my conclusions nor the facts that I support my conclusions with.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    I'd like you to make your arguments before I post the rebuttal! This ensures that I haven't just misread/misremembered your position from earlier - it also saves me wasting time rebutting something which you can instantly dismiss as a misunderstanding of your POV.
    My preference would be that we conduct the debate in a Question and Answer "interview" styled format. I can not anticipate your questions any more than I can read anyone elses mind in these forums. I'm sorry but asking me to make my arguments so you can read them and post a rebuttal is a bit much like asking me to load your cannon for you. I would appreciate it if you would just ask a specific question, let me answer and then rebut it if you feel the need to.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    I will post an argument supporting my POV for you to rebut, however - either at the end of this post or (more likely) tomorrow, depending on when sleep happens.
    That's fine but honestly, I didn't expect as much. I would rather not debate BOTH our points of views and sources at the same time. Why not let's just do one and then the other? I'll gladly go first,... you ask the questions and I will provide my answers along with my sources and the necessary links that I used to support them.... When you have no more questions for me,... I will then interview you. Deal?

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    I want to let you make your own arguments for your position before I post a rebuttal to any of them, for reasons described above. Instead, though, I can post a brief few arguments of my own.
    Excellent,... after proof reading your arguments, iangb... I think we can use them as your first questions in the "interview" that I mentioned above.

    To keep things simple, I will address them one at a time.

    Your first question;
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Firstly: the statement you are trying to support is "Biologically speaking, a human individual's life begins at conception". However, the word 'life' - that which you are arguing has a factually determinable beginning, does not have an absolute biological definition. To quote the wikipedia article on it: "It is still a challenge for scientists and philosophers to define life in unequivocal terms". This is doubly the case when considering the 'life' of an individual, as opposed to the 'life' of, say, a skin cell. For example, a person with no brain activity can be composed of living cells if they are kept on life support, but legally and medically the individual is considered dead.

    The argument, then: If 'life' has no definitive definition, how can you argue that it has a clearly definable start?
    As this post is already long enough, I will attempt to answer your question (above) in a following post.
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-19-2009 at 11:50 AM.
    "How can a government that has the authority to grant or to deny "personhood" to a prebirth child not also have the authority to define "marriage" as it sees fit to address the general welfare of the nation?" - Chuz Life

    Something smells!

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    Post First things first,....

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    firstly: The statement you are trying to support is "biologically speaking, a human individual's life begins at conception". (1) however, the word 'life' - that which you are arguing has a factually determinable beginning, does not have an absolute biological definition.

    To quote the wikipedia article on it: "it is still a challenge for scientists and philosophers to define life in unequivocal terms".

    This is doubly the case when considering the 'life' of an individual, as opposed to the 'life' of, say, a skin cell. For example, a person with no brain activity can be composed of living cells if they are kept on life support, but legally and medically the individual is considered dead.

    The argument, then: if 'life' has no definitive definition, how can you argue that it has a clearly definable start?
    Iangb, there's no delicate way to approach this so I'll try to be as anti-antagonistic as I can.

    I simply don't share your premise (above #1.)

    In fact, the link that you provided undermines your own (quoted) basis as it continues and says in the very next sentence; "Any definition must be sufficiently broad to encompass all life with which we are familiar, and it should be sufficiently general that, with it, scientists would not miss (even) life that may be fundamentally different from earthly life."

    That's pretty dang broad!

    Your own citation attempts to correct the narrowminded thinking in the one line that you have selected for your basis.

    When I make the claim; "biologically speaking a human individual's life begins at conception." I am not assigning anything more to that new life than the fact that they are human organism, that they are alive, and that their specific (individual) life began at their (specific) individual conception.

    We can debate further the definitions of the word "life" if you like, Iangb. However, I think I'll keep it right here for now until I get your response on this post.
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-19-2009 at 03:17 PM.
    "How can a government that has the authority to grant or to deny "personhood" to a prebirth child not also have the authority to define "marriage" as it sees fit to address the general welfare of the nation?" - Chuz Life

    Something smells!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    As far as I am concerned, the purpose of this thread is to discuss in greater focus and detail the facts and the arguments that I have supported my conclusions upon. If in the end you still do not agree with or share my conclusions,.... you must know that-that in itself will negate neither my conclusions nor the facts that I support my conclusions with.
    Indeed, although I'd add in the bolded text. I don't think we have an issue here; I was talking about 'my assumptions', you were talking about 'your conclusions', but we both had the same thing in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    My preference would be that we conduct the debate in a Question and Answer "interview" styled format. I can not anticipate your questions any more than I can read anyone elses mind in these forums. I'm sorry but asking me to make my arguments so you can read them and post a rebuttal is a bit much like asking me to load your cannon for you. I would appreciate it if you would just ask a specific question, let me answer and then rebut it if you feel the need to.
    My question, when it comes (after my arguments), will be a singular one - 'what evidence/arguments do you have that support your statement'? At the moment, even if you have rebuttals for my current three arguments, there is nothing which supports your statements - my three are arguments against, disproving them does not count as an argument for. Burden of proof, etc.

    After reading the rest of your post... it's possible we're talking about different things but using the same words. By asking you to post your 'arguments', I mean 'the methods by which you have arrived at your conclusion'. I can then 'rebut' those arguments by (attempting to) find methodological (and just plain logical) flaws in your ideas. However, I've beaten you to the punch and launched my own 'arguments' first - these do not counter your methods (because you have yet to explain them), but instead attack your conclusion directly. You're in the process of rebutting them.

    Sorted? Again, I don't think we have an issue here. Onwards to the debate!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz (square brackets added by iangb)
    I simply don't share your premise [that 'life' is insufficiently defined].

    In fact, the link that you provided undermines your own (quoted) basis as it continues and says in the very next sentence; "Any definition must be sufficiently broad to encompass all life with which we are familiar, and it should be sufficiently general that, with it, scientists would not miss (even) life that may be fundamentally different from earthly life."

    That's pretty dang broad!

    Your own citation attempts to correct the narrowminded thinking in the one line that you have selected for your basis.
    I don't think that quote 'attempts to correct' the thinking, I think it is simply explaining why 'life' is such a difficult term to define. The term needs to be massively broad, but at the same time specific enough to eliminate things like 'fire' - this proves a problem. The final definition provided by the article - 'an organism that exhibits all or most of the following phenomena' remains vague: how much is 'most'? 50%? 90%?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    When I make the claim; "biologically speaking a human individual's life begins at conception." I am not assigning anything more to that new life than the fact that they are human organism, that they are alive, and that their specific (individual) life began at their (specific) individual conception.
    I'm not sure I see how this is relevant. The split up claim still requires a definition for 'life', for both the second and third parts of the claim (and possibly the first, depending on how you use the dictionary). We can go into the evidence you have for each of the three parts when it's your turn to 'be interviewed', but for now...

    If you consider 'life' to be a acceptably-defined term: how would you define it?
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head.

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    I don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    <everything else snipped for brevity> If you consider 'life' to be a acceptably-defined term: how would you define it?
    That's just it, I don't "define life" Iangb.

    Neither do I (nor anyone else, IMO) need to 'define life' in order to conclude that an "individual's" life begins at the moment of their conception.

    Adult persons for example have a right to their life and to due process, etc. Correct? So, to acknowledge that fact, do you also pause to debate with yourself over what the definition of "life" is for adult persons as well?

    Unless you were to be looking for an angle to deny them their rights or personhood, I doubt that you do.

    Existing definitions and other sources (including the one you linked to) combined with the biological facts that animals (including humans) pass on life from one generation to another and must do so without breaking the life cycle are sufficient for me to conclude that a zygote is alive.

    QUOTE; "The human life cycle begins at fertilization, when an egg cell inside a woman and a sperm cell from a man fuse to form a one-celled zygote."

    My conclusion that an individual human zygote is alive from the moment of conception is based upon all these facts and more, Iangb. The sources range from dictionaries, to links like the one you provided and even acknowledgments by the likes of Planned Parenthood.

    In the 'Liar's Corner'; Iangb, you posted; "I've maintained since coming here that I would be as intellectually honest as possible - for example, I've pointed out several times when something I've discovered actually works against what I've been arguing at the time."

    Remember?

    So, please tell me how you consider it to be 'intellectually honest' when you deny something as simple as 'whether a human zygote is alive' even as you are faced with such an abundance of evidence; evidence that a human zygote IS biologically "alive" from the moment of it's conception, on.
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-20-2009 at 12:27 AM.
    "How can a government that has the authority to grant or to deny "personhood" to a prebirth child not also have the authority to define "marriage" as it sees fit to address the general welfare of the nation?" - Chuz Life

    Something smells!

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    I've split your post into parts and then rearranged the first few to parts to give my own post some flow. I suggest you read the lot rather than approaching it one bit at a time, as there's a shortcut through this particular argument suggested halfway through the post.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    Existing definitions and other sources (including the one you linked to) combined with the biological facts that animals (including humans) pass on life from one generation to another and must do so without breaking the life cycle are sufficient for me to conclude that a zygote is alive.

    QUOTE; "The human life cycle begins at fertilization, when an egg cell inside a woman and a sperm cell from a man fuse to form a one-celled zygote."

    My conclusion that an individual human zygote is alive from the moment of conception is based upon all these facts and more, Iangb. The sources range from dictionaries, to links like the one you provided and even acknowledgments by the likes of Planned Parenthood.
    So, in fact, you have given a definition to 'life'. You have defined 'life' implicitly, as 'anything that is part of a life cycle'.

    Technically, you're entirely correct. I'm not denying that the cell a zygote is made of is 'alive', nor have I ever done so - it's provably a living cell. What I am trying to do is distinguish between a 'life' in the context of a cell (which a zygote is), and a 'life' in the context of a person (which, my argument would be, it isn't). There's a big difference - for example, a corpse on life support can be composed mainly of living cells, but be entirely brain dead. In contrast, an alive person may have many dead cells as part of their body - dead skin cells, if nothing else. Furthermore, most of the cells in your body are younger than you are - most human cells live for less than ten years. You need to be talking about the period of life of the individual, not of the cells that make them up.

    In this case, you are most definitely talking about the life of a cell, not a person. The life cycle is defined as "the continuous sequence of changes undergone by an organism from one primary form, as a gamete, to the development of the same form again." In short, the life cycle for humans includes sperm and unfertilised eggs - these are clearly not alive as 'individuals' (context:people), or you should be arguing against contraception as well as abortion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    That's just it, I don't "define life" Iangb.

    Neither do I (nor anyone else, IMO) need to 'define life' in order to conclude that an "individual's" life begins at the moment of their conception.
    That's simply not the case. You said it yourself in this thread; you can break the statement you are defending into three parts -

    1. They are a human organism
    2. They are alive
    3. Their specific (individual) life began at their (specific) individual conception.

    In order to prove #2, you need to define 'life'.

    Having read through your posts a few times, I think I see a possible solution here. It's possible that all along you've been meaning your statement to say "Biologically speaking a human individual's individuality begins at conception". While that wouldn't remove the 'defining the life of an individual' problem completely, it would reduce it in importance significantly - part #2 would become "they are an individual" and part #3 would become "their individuality began at their conception".

    The other two arguments I've made so far deal with 'individuality'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    Adult persons for example have a right to their life and to due process, etc. Correct? So, to acknowledge that fact, do you also pause to debate with yourself over what the definition of "life" is for adult persons as well?
    In most cases, the question 'is an adult human alive' has been pretty much thoroughly exhausted - back before 1981. Even so, there are still some cases where the argument resurfaces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuz
    Unless you were to be looking for an angle to deny them their rights or personhood, I doubt that you do.

    In the 'Liar's Corner'; Iangb, you posted; "I've maintained since coming here that I would be as intellectually honest as possible - for example, I've pointed out several times when something I've discovered actually works against what I've been arguing at the time."

    Remember?

    So, please tell me how you consider it to be 'intellectually honest' when you deny something as simple as 'whether a human zygote is alive' even as you are faced with such an abundance of evidence; evidence that a human zygote IS biologically "alive" from the moment of it's conception, on.
    Whatever happened to being 'as anti-antagonistic as possible'? This is pretty much pure ad hom; you are claiming I'm am not being intellectually honest and have an agenda to meet. As both of these are irrelevant to the debate itself - quite apart from both being untrue - I'll ignore them.
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head.

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    Living life to the fullest,....

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Whatever happened to being 'as anti-antagonistic as possible'? This is pretty much pure ad hom; you are claiming I'm am not being intellectually honest and have an agenda to meet. As both of these are irrelevant to the debate itself - quite apart from both being untrue - I'll ignore them.
    That's not what I am claiming at all, Iangb. You stated in the liars corner that you try to be intellectually honest. I posted it only to remind you so that you would (hopefully) maintain that standard as you considered the links, definitions and arguments that I presented here and will be presenting here in the future.

    So far, you seem to be a man of your word.

    Feel free to remind me (whever you feel necessary) that I claim to be intellectually honest as well.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    {Chuz} in fact, you have given a definition to 'life'. You have defined 'life' implicitly, as 'anything that is part of a life cycle'.
    I think you are getting the word "application" confused with the word "implication" Iangb. That so many definitions of the word "life" and or "alive" are applicable to "every living thing" and that human zygotes are a part of that group is not an "implication" that a human zygote is alive. It's a biological fact. A biological fact that you finally agreed to; in the post I'm now responding to.

    You said;
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Technically, you're entirely correct. I'm not denying that the cell a zygote is made of is 'alive', nor have I ever done so - it's provably a living cell.
    And then you added;
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    What I am trying to do is distinguish between a 'life' in the context of a cell (which a zygote is), and a 'life' in the context of a person (which, my argument would be, it isn't). There's a big difference - for example, a corpse on life support can be composed mainly of living cells, but be entirely brain dead. In contrast, an alive person may have many dead cells as part of their body - dead skin cells, if nothing else. Furthermore, most of the cells in your body are younger than you are - most human cells live for less than ten years. You need to be talking about the period of life of the individual, not of the cells that make them up.
    Iangb, a human zygote is only one cell in size. Unlike your corpse on life support example or even your other examples, The entirety of a human zygote's 'life' is contained in that one cell. And I can't stress this point enough.

    The life that zygote is living is it's own.

    You have just acknowleged (above) that a human zygote is "alive." Well tell me who's life (if not it's own) do you think it is living?

    Let's consider an amoeba. A single celled animal that will remain a single celled organism it's entire life.

    Please explain for me the argument for how an amoeba can be and is recognized as an individual organism living it's own life,... but that a newly conceived human being in the zygote stage of their life and development is somehow something less.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    In this case, you are most definitely talking about the life of a cell, not a person.
    The purpose of this debate, Iang was a challenge for me to show that 'a human being's life biologically begins at conception.' You lead off with specific questions about the biological definitions of "life." So, I obliged and have been posting links and comments about the zygote's life. All of this is still headed towards my defending my ultimate point that conception also biologically begins the "person's" life.

    A human zygote is only one cell in size, Iangb,... (though it doesn't stay that small very long.) So, rest assured that I am talking about BOTH a zygote the single cell,... as well as the fact that the human zygote is a human individual being. (person)

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    The life cycle is defined as "the continuous sequence of changes undergone by an organism from one primary form, as a gamete, to the development of the same form again." In short, the life cycle for humans includes sperm and unfertilised eggs - these are clearly not alive as 'individuals' (context: people), or you should be arguing against contraception as well as abortion.
    Some people actually do 'argue against contraception as well as abortion, Iangb.' Though, I don't and hopefully as we go forward, you will understand why.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    You said it yourself in this thread; you can break the statement you are defending into three parts -

    1. They are a human organism
    2. They are alive
    3. Their specific (individual) life began at their (specific) individual conception.

    In order to prove #2, you need to define 'life'.
    To which you just said;
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Technically, you're entirely correct. I'm not denying that the cell a zygote is made of is 'alive', nor have I ever done so - it's provably a living cell.
    We are not in disagreement on whether or not a human in the zygote stage of their life is "alive," Iangb.

    We are in disagreement as to "who's" life it is living; and what rights if any does the human zygote have to that life it is living.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Having read through your posts a few times, I think I see a possible solution here. It's possible that all along you've been meaning your statement to say "Biologically speaking a human individual's individuality begins at conception". While that wouldn't remove the 'defining the life of an individual' problem completely, it would reduce it in importance significantly - part #2 would become "they are an individual" and part #3 would become "their individuality began at their conception".
    I have read through this comment of yours also (several times now) Iangb.

    And when I read it in light of your earlier comment;
    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Technically, you're entirely correct. I'm not denying that the cell a zygote is made of is 'alive', nor have I ever done so - it's provably a living cell.
    It takes on a completely different meaning from what you likely intended.

    My position all along has been that a 'human beings life biologically begins at conception.' And here you have in just these two statements just about drawn (illustrated) the conclusions for me. You acknowledge that a zygote is one cell, that it's alive, that it comes about by conception, and now that it's individuality of sorts likewise has began (biologically) by *it's conception. You still have your caveot "While that wouldn't remove the 'defining the life of an individual' problem completely,..." But I have to say,... I do greatly respect you for the amount of intellectual honesty you have shown so far!

    Bravo!

    * (fyi, I would rather call a human zygote "him/her" and not an "it")
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-21-2009 at 11:20 PM.
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    I think you are getting the word "application" confused with the word "implication" Iangb. That so many definitions of the word "life" and or "alive" are applicable to "every living thing" and that human zygotes are a part of that group is not an "implication" that a human zygote is alive? It's a biological fact.
    No, I'm not. I said (paraphrased) 'you are implying that a definition of 'life' is "anything that is part of a life cycle"'. I didn't say "you are implying that a zygote is alive". As it was, you were implying that the definition of 'life' is 'anything that is part of a life cycle' - you stated that a zygote was alive, and we know this because it's part of a life cycle.

    A biological fact that you finally agreed to; in the post I'm now responding to.
    ...
    Iangb, a human zygote is only one cell in size. Unlike your corpse on life support example or even your other examples, The entirety of a human zygote's 'life' is contained in that one cell. And I can't stress this point enough.

    The life that zygote is living is it's own.

    You have just acknowleged (above) that a human zygote is "alive." Well tell me who's life (if not it's own) do you think it is living?
    ...
    So, rest assured that I am talking about BOTH a zygote the single cell,... as well as the fact that the human zygote is a human individual being. (person)
    I'm going to have to clarify something for you here. Just as there is more than one 'type' of nail (fingernails and iron nails), there is more than one 'type' of life (cellular life and individual life, at the very least). Furthermore, just because something meets all the criteria for one type of 'life' does not mean that it automatically is both types - just as you don't have long iron rods growing out of your fingers.

    A zygote meets the criteria for the 'cellular' type of life. You have yet to properly define the criteria for the 'individual' type of life - all we know so far is that it does not match up wth the 'cellular' definition. For example; the 'life' on terms of cells does not include a 'who' in it's definition; skin cells, sperm cells etc. are all alive by cellular standards, but would you ask 'who's life is an individual sperm cell living'? Would you consider your arm to be an 'individual' in its own right?
    Some people actually do 'argue against contraception as well as abortion, Iangb.' Though, I don't
    I realise that they do, just as I realise that you don't agree with them. What I was trying to show here was that if you use your definition ('part of a life cycle') to refer to individual life, you should be agreeing with them. As you don't - clearly there must be something wrong with your argument, as it leads to inconsistencies.

    Let's consider an amoeba. A single celled animal that will remain a single celled organism it's entire life.

    Please explain for me the argument for how an amoeba can be and is recognized as an individual organism living it's own life,... but that a newly conceived human being in the zygote stage of their life and development is somehow something less.
    An amoeba:
    Is independent from others: it eats and digests it's own food.
    Can reproduce: 'an amoeba' refers to one in any stage of it's life cycle, like 'a human'
    Has a complex system: If cut in half, the half that doesn't contain the nucleus will die

    A zygote does none of these things. A zygote is:
    Biologically reliant on the mother for nutrients and oxygen, having no way to absorb them itself
    Cannot reproduce without further development
    Has a 'holistic' (possibly the wrong term) system - if you separate the two cells of a newly-divided zygote, they may well become identical twins.

    A zygote is 'alive' in the same way that a sperm is 'alive' - it is entirely made of a living, human cell. That doesn't make it an individual.

    I have read through this comment of yours also (several times now) Iangb.

    And when I read it in light of your earlier comment; It takes on a completely different meaning from what you likely intended.

    My position all along has been that a 'human beings life biologically begins at conception.' And here you have in just these two statements just about drawn (illustrated) the conclusions for me. You acknowledge that a zygote is one cell, that it's alive, that it comes about by conception, and now that it's individuality of sorts likewise has began (biologically) by *it's conception. You still have your caveot "While that wouldn't remove the 'defining the life of an individual' problem completely,..."
    Again, you appear to need clarification.

    I was not conceding a point here. I was attempting to do you a favour, true - but by suggesting an alternative solution to your particular problem that you cannot acceptably define 'the life of an individual'. I was not suggesting that 'individuality begins at conception', I was suggesting that this is what you should be arguing if you wish to avoid defining 'life' on an individuals terms. Furthermore, the very next line of my post reminded you that the other two arguments I made earlier dispute the idea that 'individuality begins at conception'.

    You can either define 'life' in terms of an individual organism and then show why a zygote matches that definition, or you can re-phrase your opening statement so that it refers to 'individuality' rather than 'life' - and then come back to the whole 'life' question later (if it hasn't been dealt with by proxy of your other arguments). Either way, you still have my other two arguments to deal with, plus whatever else I think/write up in the meantime. To re-state, though, for one last time:

    Just because a zygote is alive at a cellular level does not make it alive as an individual, in the same way that just because I have nails growing out of my fingers, this does not make my fingers iron-tipped.

    *(fyi, I would rather call a human zygote "him/her" and not an "it")
    However, a human's sex is not purely determined by their genes. A zygote does not have a fixed sex. 'It' is an 'it.
    Furthermore, 'he/she' implies individuality, which I don't agree with; why would I agree to undermine my own position every time I refer to what we are arguing about?
    Last edited by iangb; 07-21-2009 at 07:46 AM. Reason: grammarcheck
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    Over-edited maybe?

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    No, I'm not. I said (paraphrased) 'you are implying that a definition of 'life' is "anything that is part of a life cycle"'. I didn't say "you are implying that a zygote is alive". As it was, you were implying that the definition of 'life' is 'anything that is part of a life cycle' - you stated that a zygote was alive, and we know this because it's part of a life cycle.
    Whaaat?

    This is somehow supposed to be your response to my comment; "I think you are getting the word "application" confused with the word "implication" Iangb. That so many definitions of the word "life" and or "alive" are applicable to "every living thing" and that human zygotes are a part of that group is not an "implication" that a human zygote is alive. It's a biological fact. A biological fact that you finally agreed to; in the post I'm now responding to?"

    I have no idea as to what you are driving at in your quote above, Iangb. If you had a point, I think you buried it.


    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    I'm going to have to clarify something for you here. Just as there is more than one 'type' of nail (fingernails and iron nails), there is more than one 'type' of life (cellular life and individual life, at the very least). Furthermore, just because something meets all the criteria for one type of 'life' does not mean that it automatically is both types - just as you don't have long iron rods growing out of your fingers.
    The Constitution says that a person has a right to their life, Iangb. It doesn't specify what "kind" of life or level of life, etc. So, I get the sense that you are either seriously confused or that you are actually trying to insult my intelligence. However, having proof read your following comments, I'll play along just so I can comment further.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    A zygote meets the criteria for the 'cellular' type of life. You have yet to properly define the criteria for the 'individual' type of life - all we know so far is that it does not match up wth the 'cellular' definition.
    You do realize that you just contradicted yourself. Right?

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    For example; the 'life' on terms of cells does not include a 'who' in it's definition; skin cells, sperm cells etc. are all alive by cellular standards, but would you ask 'who's life is an individual sperm cell living'? Would you consider your arm to be an 'individual' in its own right?
    No. However, I would ask you; "who's life is a human that is in the zygote stage of their life living?"

    Indeed, I would also ask you; "who's life is an amoeba living?" "Who's life is a tree living?" A horse, dog, or camel? A tick, flea or lamprey? And on and on and on. Hopefully your answer would be consistent for all of them. "They are living each their own lives."

    If you disagree, I think that we may have a lot more reason to stay focused on this aspect of the debate.

    -----------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    What I was trying to show here was that if you use your definition ('part of a life cycle') to refer to individual life, you should be agreeing with them. As you don't - clearly there must be something wrong with your argument, as it leads to inconsistencies.
    Again, 'part of a life cycle' is not my argument any more than it is yours. It is your characterization of my argument. You yourself have acknowledged the biological fact that a human zygote is alive (even if it's only what you call cellular life.) Remember, my claim is that "a human individual's life biologically begins at conception." If it begins at the cellular level and it has "begun,..." Do the math. The individual life has began.

    ------------------------------------------------

    An amoeba:
    Is independent from others: it eats and digests it's own food.
    Can reproduce: 'an amoeba' refers to one in any stage of it's life cycle, like 'a human'
    Has a complex system: If cut in half, the half that doesn't contain the nucleus will die

    A zygote does none of these things. A zygote is:
    Biologically reliant on the mother for nutrients and oxygen, having no way to absorb them itself
    Cannot reproduce without further development
    Has a 'holistic' (possibly the wrong term) system - if you separate the two cells of a newly-divided zygote, they may well become identical twins.

    Iangb, you should know better than to think that a I was equating a human zygote and an amoeba. Can you not appreciate the difference between a comparison and and equation?


    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    A zygote is 'alive' in the same way that a sperm is 'alive' - it is entirely made of a living, human cell. That doesn't make it an individual.
    You called for patience from me earlier, Ianbg. Now it's my turn to ask the same of you.

    In this comment, it seems we are stating (or-restating) some common ground that I would like to explore a little bit further before we move onto the "individuality" aspects. And yes (before you ask) it's all intertwined in reality.

    Above, You stated (1) that a human zygote is alive. And (2) that it is an entity in and of itself (made up entirely of a living human cell).

    Thus we refer to it as "A" human zygote. As in a "single" human zygote or a specific human zygote or (by logical extension) an individual human zygote.

    a 2 (ə; ā when stressed)
    indef.art.
    Used before nouns and noun phrases that denote a single but unspecified person or thing: a region; a person.


    A Human Zygote!

    Now, I already know that you will protest the use of the word "individual" as you claim a human zygote is "not." My comment above is not to convince you (at this point) that a human zygote is alive, human and an individual.... But to show you how I begin the basis for my claim that it is (biologically speaking) a human individual. Even though it is (for a day or so) only one cell in size.
    ---------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    Again, you appear to need clarification.

    Just because a (human) zygote is alive at a cellular level does not make it alive as an individual, in the same way that just because I have nails growing out of my fingers, this does not make my fingers iron-tipped.
    Semantics? You are not hung up on semantics are you, Iangb?
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-22-2009 at 03:07 PM.
    "How can a government that has the authority to grant or to deny "personhood" to a prebirth child not also have the authority to define "marriage" as it sees fit to address the general welfare of the nation?" - Chuz Life

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    I'll post this one bit here, as this particular part of the argument is starting to drag us in circles and I think I see a resolution to it which should umbrella over the entirety of your post. I'll then respond to all the individual bits of your post in the mirror thread, as I'd quite like to clarify my argument so far. If you don't like my proposition below, respond to it in this thread and if needed I'll port over my individual responses from the mirror thread, as they will suddenly have become relevant again.

    *******************************

    So far, we have argued two differing views. Note: 'differing' - not 'opposing'. I think we've been arguing at cross-purposes.

    Your argument so far has been that 'life' - no matter the context; be it cellular life, an individuals life or any other - is acceptable to fit the 'right to life' mentioned in the Constitution (as long there is a human element). Furthermore, a zygote has 'life', so it matches. Correct so far? I would guess you are planning on attempting to do the same to the other words from the 14th amendment, in order to show that a zygote fits the bill (pun only slightly intended) in all the other ways.

    My view as stated so far is that there are several definitions for 'life', just as there are several definitions of many words ('nail' and 'key', for example). More specifically, the two types of 'life' we have been discussing are the generic, catch-all definition (what I called 'cellular' life) and the life of a person/animal (what I called 'individual' life). My view was that while a zygote is provably alive by the 'cellular' definition, this did not prove it was a person: in order for you to do this, you must prove that a zygote has 'individual' life. Furthermore, I argued that you had yet to present an unequivocal definition for 'individual' life; all we had discovered so far is that it differs from 'cellular' life, because one can refer to sperm, skin cells etc and the other cannot.

    So... you've been trying to show that a zygote has 'life' by any definition, and I've been trying to show that this fact does not matter in the slightest as to whether a zygote is a person or not. I would say that we've both succeeded.

    At some point, I'll come back to your conclusions from the fact that the constitution "doesn't specify what "kind" of life or level of life, etc". However, that particular argument is better suited for later (unless you particularly want to hear it now, in which case let me know). For now, though... we've moved on to you trying to show that a zygote is an 'individual human being'. You have those two other arguments of mine as hurdles, too.

    Onwards!
    Last edited by iangb; 07-22-2009 at 12:52 PM.
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    I already don't like it,...

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb View Post
    If you don't like my proposition below, respond to it in this thread and if needed I'll port over my individual responses from the mirror thread, as they will suddenly have become relevant again.
    *******************************
    After reading your proposal, Iangb I've decided I really would rather you respond to the points I've tried to make in post #12

    I honestly think that slow and easy with a great attention to detail is the best way to get us both on the same page. Both of us claim to be intellectually honest, correct? So a point made is a point made. Correct?

    In post #12 I have addressed the 'life' aspects of my basis as well as a start towards the 'individuality' aspects. Rather than take things off in another direction, I would rather you respond to the points I raised in post #12.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Chuz Life; 07-22-2009 at 01:50 PM.
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    Post #12 it is, then.

    Whaaat?

    This is somehow supposed to be your response to my comment; "I think you are getting the word "application" confused with the word "implication" Iangb. That so many definitions of the word "life" and or "alive" are applicable to "every living thing" and that human zygotes are a part of that group is not an "implication" that a human zygote is alive. It's a biological fact. A biological fact that you finally agreed to; in the post I'm now responding to?"

    I have no idea as to what you are driving at in your quote above, Iangb. If you had a point, I think you buried it.
    My point was this: for a large part of your post (#8) you had stated (falsely) that you didn't need to define 'life' in order to prove that a zygote was alive. You then provided your own evidence for the claim, stating that because a zygote is part of the life cycle, it must be alive. I simply responded that in order for this statement to be a valid piece of evidence, you must be implicitly defining 'life' as 'anything which is in a life cycle'.

    The Constitution says that a person has a right to their life, Iangb. It doesn't specify what "kind" of life or level of life, etc.
    [snip]
    However, having proof read your following comments, I'll play along just so I can comment further.
    I would like to take this quite a lot further, as I suspect (like I just said in post #13) that this will be a recurring theme. However, I'd like to know your position first.
    Would I be right in saying that you would also state "[the constitution] doesn't specify what kind of 'person'", too? Ditto for 'individual'.

    Quote Originally Posted by iangb, numbers added by iangb in the current post
    A zygote meets the criteria for the 'cellular' type of life(1). You have yet to properly define the criteria for the 'individual' type of life (2) - all we know so far is that it does not match up wth the 'cellular' definition(3).
    You do realize that you just contradicted yourself. Right?
    No, I didn't. I stated (with reasons now added):
    1. A zygote meets the criteria which you had provided for 'cellular' life - it is part of a life cycle.
    2. You haven't said yet how to define 'individual' life - you haven't.
    3. All we know about the definition for 'individual' life so far is that it is not the same as 'cellular' life - because 'cellular life' refers to sperm cells etc where as 'individual' life does not.
    I don't see the contradiction.

    No. However, I would ask you; "who's life is a human that is in the zygote stage of their life living?"

    Indeed, I would also ask you; "who's life is an amoeba living?" "Who's life is a tree living?" A horse, dog, or camel? A tick, flea or lamprey? And on and on and on. Hopefully your answer would be consistent for all of them. "They are living each their own lives."

    If you disagree, I think that we may have a lot more reason to stay focused on this aspect of the debate.
    The question "who's life is a human that is in the zygote stage of their life living?" makes as much sense as the question "who's life is a human that is in the sperm/egg stage of their life living?".
    Either the (cellular) 'life' definition you have provided so far is one that you can ask the "who's life it it anyway" question of, or it isn't. If it is, you can ask it of both sperm/egg and zygote. If it isn't (which is the case), you need to show what sort of 'life' a zygote has that a sperm doesn't; you need to actually define what I've been calling 'individual' life.

    I realise that you don't agree with me that you've provided a definition for (cellular) life. Hopefully I've explained why that is the case above, I'll be doing so again in a few lines time. Even if that isn't the case though, substitute 'the (cellular) definition of life you are using', rather than 'the (cellular) definition of life you have provided' in the above paragraph. The point still stands.

    Again, 'part of a life cycle' is not my argument any more than it is yours. It is your characterization of my argument. You yourself have acknowledged the biological fact that a human zygote is alive (even if it's only what you call cellular life.) Remember, my claim is that "a human individual's life biologically begins at conception." If it begins at the cellular level and it has "begun,..." Do the math. The individual life has began.
    If 'part of the life cycle' is not your argument, then on what basis do you consider all of your links about the 'life cycle' in post #8 to be valid evidence?

    The only way for it to be so is if being part of the 'life cycle' is evidence that something is alive. In other words, you've defined at least one possible attribute of 'life' to be 'part of a life cycle'.

    I have acknowledged the fact that a zygote is alive, based on the definition of 'life' as 'something that is part of a life cycle'. I don't think it's a particularly bad definition, for 'cellular' life. If you have a better alternative, feel free to share.

    Furthermore, you readily agree that 'life' is a continuum, a cycle. The only way that 'a human individuals life begins at conception' is if:
    1. The individual begins at conception (hence my attempt to reword your opening statement)
    2. The zygote is 'individually' alive at that point (not 'cellularly' alive, the word individual in the sentence gives context to which definition of 'life' should be used).

    You have proven neither of these.

    Iangb, you should know better than to think that a I was equating a human zygote and an amoeba. Can you not appreciate the difference between a comparison and and equation?
    Yes - an equation insists that they are identical, a comparison highlights their similarities and differences.
    You highlighted their similarities, I highlighted their differences. I also pointed out that those differences were significant enough to make a amoeba an individual organism, compared to a zygote, which is not.

    In this comment, it seems we are stating (or-restating) some common ground that I would like to explore a little bit further before we move onto the "individuality" aspects. And yes (before you ask) it's all intertwined in reality.

    Above, You stated (1) that a human zygote is alive. And (2) that it is an entity in and of itself (made up entirely of a living human cell).

    Thus we refer to it as "A" human zygote. As in a "single" human zygote or a specific human zygote or (by logical extension) an individual human zygote.

    a 2 (ə; ā when stressed)
    indef.art.
    Used before nouns and noun phrases that denote a single but unspecified person or thing: a region; a person.

    A Human Zygote!

    Now, I already know that you will protest the use of the word "individual" as you claim a human zygote is "not." My comment above is not to convince you (at this point) that a human zygote is alive, human and an individual.... But to show you how I begin the basis for my claim that it is (biologically speaking) a human individual. Even though it is (for a day or so) only one cell in size.
    Now lets apply the same rational to a human sperm cell.
    A sperm is alive: it's a living cell that is part of the life cycle
    A sperm is a human: if not, what else is it?
    A sperm is an individual: A sperm.

    Seeing as it is the male sperm which carries the X or Y chromosome, you could even insist on calling them 'he' or 'she'...

    What is it about the sperm which disqualifies it from the 'alive human individual' club, if those are the criteria which you use?

    Semantics? You are not hung up on semantics are you, Iangb?
    Why not? We are arguing about how to define words: that's the very definition of a semantic argument.

    You are just as guilty as me. Not that it's anything to be ashamed of, mind you...
    The truth may be out there, but lies are in your head.

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