The challenge today comes from a post on Debate.org arguing that it’s okay to abort a fetus if it doesn’t have a functioning brain:
The proposition on offer is that abortion before a fetus’ brain is functioning is not wrong. There are at least two considerations that support this position.
First, it is commonly held that a person’s personality is contained in the brain. For example, nobody seriously thinks that one somehow would retain their personality if their brain were removed or somehow wiped clean. Furthermore, if one considered a situation with two people (Jeff and Clara) and a transplant surgery that moved Jeff’s brain to Clara’s body, nobody seriously believes that Clara’s body retains Clara’s personality. Indeed, it is obvious that the situation would be that Jeff’s personality has moved to Clara’s body. In fact, it would be more accurate to refer to the entity that inhabits Clara’s body as “Jeff” and to consider that person to BE Jeff, but simply in a different “container.” Similarly, if Jeff’s brain and conscious were somehow recorded into a computer where he retained communicative capabilities, we would consider the computer to be Jeff.
Thus, it becomes obvious that the contents of a person’s personhood are dependent on a functioning brain. The notion that a fetus may be “part of a person” is a silly idea. One cannot be “part of a person” any more than one can be “partially legally married.” One is either a person, or not a person. Since a brain is a necessary prerequisite for personhood, it must be the case that entities without functioning brains cannot be people.
You’ll notice he said he would cover two considerations that support his position. We’re going to save his second reason for the next time Alan does the video challenge. For now, let’s just cover this first one. Is the fetus without a brain a person? If so, why? If not, is it okay to kill it? How do you respond to this challenge? Alan will be here on Thursday to let you know how you did.