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In The World of Science VI
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AfyonBlade



Joined: 16 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bet we could get a 15 page thread on "When is it a human?"
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WheelsOfConfusion



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's inarguably human at conception.
Although when it becomes a PERSON is more open to discussion.
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kame



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmmm, we're highly succesful replicators, stem cell research would make us better ones.

i take the non-humanist position on this one. Smile
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AfyonBlade



Joined: 16 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
It's inarguably human at conception.
Although when it becomes a PERSON is more open to discussion.


Yes, that is a much better way to put it.
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CB00



Joined: 05 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
It's inarguably human at conception.
Although when it becomes a PERSON is more open to discussion.


Actually, strictly speaking, it doesn't become human until cellular differentiation begins. Until this point its basically just a benign cancer: cells with an abhorent genetic coding (in comparison to the host, or "mother" if you prefer) that replicate at up to and including an exponential rate. The cells don't necessarily have to end in the creation of a human, or even in any one part of a human. It is this plasticity that make stem cells so valuable. It is with differentiation that cells begin to lose their "flexibility" and start to form parts that function together in a system, at which point the ball of goo officially becomes human rather than just human-based.

In other words, the classification into the human species is not inferred at conception. It is inferred in differentiation and functionality. But you're absolutely right in the second part of your statement.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CB00 wrote:
Actually, strictly speaking, it doesn't become human until cellular differentiation begins. Until this point its basically just a benign cancer: cells with an abhorent genetic coding (in comparison to the host, or "mother" if you prefer) that replicate at up to and including an exponential rate.

It is not a cancer because it's genetically an individual human being rather than simply a mutated version of the host's cells. It isn't differentiated early on, but then again this is a process of development and you'd be hardpressed to make the argument that a caterpillar isn't the an individual member of the butterly species to which it belongs. Both are simply stages of development.
As long as they're the self-contained product of sexual reproduction they ARE a whole human made up of parts, even if those parts are undifferentiated at the time and the whole human is just a collection of identical cells. These undifferentiated parts happen to make up the whole of an human blastocyte. They are unique in that they don't come solely from the mother or aren't just a piece of another human body but a whole unto themselves.
I think the cancer comparison is highly flawed in that the mechanisms that make cancer and those that make embryos are completely different, as are their respective natures. There are certain passing similarities but not enough, in my opinion, to warrant equating one with the other.
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