Human social life, I suggest, is the magma that erupts and builds up, so to speak, at the fault lines where natural human capacities meet and grind against and over natural human limitations…. This meeting of powers and limitations produces a creative, dynamic tension and energy that generates and fuels the making of human social life and social structures…. It is real human persons living through the tensions of natural existential contradictions who construct patterned social meanings, interactions, institutions, and structures.
The baby should always be saved in preference to the mother. That is the advice of the Holy Church, you know that. I was only reminding women of their duty. There is no need to make everything so personal, Margaret. You make everything into your own tragedy.
There are at least two ways to believe in the idea of quality. You can believe there's something ineffable going on within the human mind, or you can believe we just don't understand what quality in a mind is yet, even though we might someday. Either of those opinions allows one to distinguish quantity and quality. In order to confuse quantity and quality, you have to reject both possibilities. The mere possibility of there being something ineffable about personhood is what drives many technologists to reject the notion of quality. They want to live in an airtight reality that resembles an idealized computer program, in which everything is understood and there are no fundamental mysteries. They recoil from even the hint of a potential zone of mystery or an unresolved seam in one's worldview. This desire for absolute order usually leads to tears in human affairs, so there is a historical reason to distrust it. Materialist extremists have long seemed determined to win a race with religious fanatics: Who can do the most damage to the most people?
It is recorded in the monastic rules that a monk once performed an abortion on a girl; the Buddha judged his action seriously wrong, which incurred him the highest offense in the monastic rule. A monk committing this kind of wrongful deed must be expelled from the monastic community. The Buddha considered the embryo to be a person like an adult, so the monk who killed the embryo through abortion was judged by Buddhist monastic rules as having committed a crime equal in gravity to killing an adult. In the commentary on the rule stated above, it is stated clearly that killing a human being means destroying human life from the first moment of fertilization to human life outside the womb. So, even though the Buddha himself did not give a clear-cut pronouncement about when personhood occurs, the Buddhist tradition, especially the Theravada tradition, clearly states that personhood starts when the process of fertilization takes place.