Talk:Embryo

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Personhood[edit]

I see that the following sentence is included in this article: "Despite what some say, the zygote is not a person and couldn't care less if it is aborted, if it implants, etc." I point out here that the concept of personhood is a social construct that is subjective, means different things to different people, and varies greatly between different cultures and different time periods. Some non-living, inanimate entities, such as corporations and ships, have been granted legal personhood, while, in some cultures, newborn baby humans are not regarded as being persons yet. Notably, in the past, groups of adult humans, such as women and non-White races, were also thought to not be persons, as well. I feel that this sentence is a biased, loaded one that detracts from the goal of this article of providing the scientific information about what an embryo is and what it is like, without forcing such subjective notions as certain definitions of personhood onto its readers. Troodon Roar (talk) 19:23, 11 March 2017 (UTC)

I agree (allthough I have my personal views) which is why I reverted my own edit. It's no longer in the article. Christopher (talk) 19:34, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Needs a rewording since a zygote has little, if any brain matter, and even if there is, it probably isn't advanced enough to feel complex emotions or be aware of its surroundings unlike an infant. Overall, it's more of poor wording rather than a legal tangle. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 21:18, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
A zygote does not have any brain matter, as it is a single-celled organism. However, it is too hasty, at this point, to extrapolate from that fact to claim that it likely cannot feel complex emotions or be aware of its surroundings. On the contrary, it seems that other single-celled organisms, such as bacteria, are, indeed, aware of their surroundings, in some way. There exist phenomena such as chemotaxis, in which unicellular organisms monitor concentrations of certain chemicals in their surroundings and, based on that, make a decision about where to move, and quorum sensing, in which bacteria can sense how many other members of their own species are in their vicinity in order to initiate joint cooperative actions that require the coordination of large numbers of individual bacteria. Additionally, the intricacies and specificity of quorum sensing seems to imply the existence, in an individual bacterium, of the ability to tell itself apart from other individual bacteria, and to tell its species apart from other species, and a study (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006PhyA..359..495B) has referred to this as "self vs. non-self distinction", i.e., a form of self-awareness. And it has even been hypothesized that a network of interacting proteins that transduce signals between different parts of the cell in a multicellular organism might function analogously to the nervous system of a unicellular organism, with such a system being referred to as a microbial nanobrain in the microbiological literature. In fact, an entire new subfield termed sociobacteriology, which is pretty much what it sounds like, the sociology of bacteria, has sprung up thanks to these many new lines of evidence. So, no, a zygote does not have brain matter. But the research definitely does not support the assertion that this entails that it is definitely impossible for it to have perceptions or awareness of itself and its surroundings. Troodon Roar (talk) 21:07, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
Fair enough. I guess it's impossible to avoid underestimating the capabilities of little beings we perceive as "lesser" or "simplistic" (like how insects do have a sense of will since they can get mind controlled, though people perceive them as just automatons). --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 21:15, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm skeptical about bacteria being "aware" in a meaningful sense though I won't deny it as a possibility. However, if bacteria are aware and embryos are similarly aware, abortion is still no worse than using antibiotics. Christopher (talk) 21:18, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
To be fair (though not intending for a contentious abortion debate), people might argue that a zygote is more valuable since it is potential human life that needs to be nurtured as best as it can and antibiotics remove cells perceived as pathogens. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 21:22, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't really intend to begin an abortion debate on this page, as, in any case, I actually perceive the issue of personhood for zygotes, embryos, and fetuses to be a separate issue from the issue of abortion, as antenatal personhood ≠ abortion being illegal. For instance, the state still allows homicide, of unequivocal legal persons, in certain situations, such as in self-defense and for capital punishment. This is why I think pro-life advocates who hinge their entire hopes of ending abortion on attaining personhood for the unborn, as well as pro-choice advocates who hyperventilate with fear that personhood for the unborn means no more abortions, are both misguided. As for my own personal views, I consider all living organisms to have the same inherent value, so I would not consider a human zygote's life to be intrinsically more valuable than a bacterium's -- but, then again, neither would I consider any adult human's life, for example, Albert Einstein's, to be intrinsically more valuable than a bacterium's. My views may be seen as wildly radical by many, but they are what they are. Troodon Roar (talk) 22:14, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
My view is that it's okay to see life as valuable to some, less valuable to others. I consider an adult human's life more valuable than a bacterium's and I think it is okay to have inconsistent views. I list life by priority and I try to not to think too hard about prioritizing one life over the other. Adding on to my point, some things are intended to die, so again, life is more valuable to some than others and I think we waste time contemplating and rationalizing why we don't practice giving equal weight to all life. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 23:04, 12 March 2017 (UTC)