Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Lovejoyfeminism has an entry that I can't find where the author says she doesn't know how to explain her pregnancy to her kid because she can't say it's a baby in her tummy, because it's not a baby yet, but she can't say it's a fetus because her kid doesn't know what a fetus is.

I could tell her kid what a fetus is.  It's a baby that's still in the womb.  My biology book has some illustrations of babies at various ages in the womb that could show her exactly what a "baby in the womb" is.

It is totally accurate to call a fetus a baby.  Why?  Because that is one of the common uses of the word "baby".  Baby is not a technical term, so it doesn't have a precise definition.  It tends to refer to things that are young or to things that people love.  People sometimes call their friends and spouses baby, to express love.  A fetus is definitely something young, and for many people it's also something they love.  I'm not saying it's wrong to call it a fetus.  That term is correct.  But baby is also correct.

The pro-choice crazies often say, "It's not a baby, it's a fetus."  But then after it's born, you could just as correctly (incorrectly) say, "It's not a baby, it's a neonate."  The technical terms are embryo, fetus, neonate, and infant.  And the word baby can refer to all of those, and more.  But using the same word for all of them doesn't mean we're equating an embryo with an infant.  Like, the japanese word for leg is the same as the word for foot.  They're both "ashi".  That doesn't mean that japanese people think that a foot is exactly the same thing as a leg.  It just means they have something relevant in common.  And an embryo, fetus, neonate, infant, and all the other things that the word baby can refer to, do have something relevant in common:  They're all young and/or loved.  So when someone refers to a fetus or embryo as a baby, they're telling you what they find relevant -- that it's their child and they love it and they care for it, and they'll keep feeling that way after it comes out of the womb.

I've pointed this out to the crazies many times.  I tell them that it is correct to call a fetus a baby, because that is a common usage of the word baby.  And that's how language works.  And baby isn't a technical term.  They never accept this, or even respond directly.  But I think I've figured out what they're thinking.

They think that if a fetus is called a baby, then that makes it a person, and that would make it immoral to get an abortion.

There are two problems with this.  1, fallacy of equivocation; 2, bodily integrity.

The fallacy of equivocation is when you have the same word in two different contexts and then you claim that the word has to mean the same exact thing on both contexts.  For example

A chess player is a person; therefore a bad chessplayer is a bad person.

Chess player is not a synonym for a person.  Also, the word bad has two different meanings here.  First it's modifying chessplaying ability, then it's modifying a person's character.

The pro-choice crazies's argument about the word baby uses a fallacy of equivocation.  Calling something a baby does not necessarily make it a person.  People sometimes refer to projects or objects such as cars as their babies.  And I'm totally willing to agree that there's a period of time at the beginning of a human's gestation during which they are not a person, because they don't even have a brain or any thoughts or feelings.  But they're still human, and they're still young, and people can still feel love for them.  So they fall with in one or more of the definitions or connotations of the word baby, but not of person.  Language is complicated like that.

But even if a fetus is a person, that still doesn't make abortion immoral.  Here's the article that convinced me:  Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion
Read it.  Basically it says that you still are not obligated to share your body with someone, even if they are a person.

So, it's not incorrect to call a fetus or embryo a baby, because it falls under one or more of the meanings of that word.  And it's not a danger to the pro-choice stance, because something being a baby doesn't mean it's a person, and something being a person doesn't mean you have to sacrifice anything of yourself to it.


I used to watch Charmed every day.  I got bored with it.  Amazingly there are still some episodes I haven't seen.

Anyway, what's the deal with this show?

There are demons, who are "evil" but supposedly don't have free will, so then it's not really their fault that they do bad things, right?  Really, they are totally innocent pawns.  Yet there's an episode where Piper tortures a demon.  The demons supposedly don't have souls, yet they often express a desire to keep living.  A demon falls in love, a demon sacrifices his life to save his half-brother (who is half demon and half human), a demon asks to be turned human because she wants to experience "good" and "feelings".  The demons supposedly get their power and take their orders from a thing called "the source of all evil".  The source can be killed, but then a different demon becomes the new source.  None of this makes any sense!!

There are these people called elders.  They're like angels or something.  But they're not like the opposite of demons.  They don't fight the demons.  Instead, they turn dead people into these things called whitelighters, and then send the whitelighters to liase with certain humans who are witches, to give the witches vague instructions about how to fight the demons.  Demons are evil, elders are good, and they are battling over humans.  Why can't the elders just go and destroy the demons themselves?  I don't know.

Humans are not considered to be good or evil.  They're called innocents.  They can be swayed by good or evil.  If a human kills another human, that's not evil, and the witches are not allowed to use their powers to kill the murderer.  If a witch uses their powers to "punish the guilty" rather than "protect the innocent", then the witch turns evil.  But if a demon kills a human, the witches can totally kill the demon.  Even though demons have no free will and are just pawns of "the source" or whatever.  Also, a demon doesn't even have to have done anything wrong to merit being killed.  It just has to exist, and then if a witch sees them, they get dead.

They also make references to a "god".  A god that is greater than the elders.  Whatever.  This show makes no sense.