Sunday, July 31, 2011

Does Cancer Have "Rights"?

Normal cancer cell division from NIH             Image via Wikipedia
Previously I have argued that, under a strict darwinian view of life, cancer can be considered neither good nor bad -- it just is. Since there is no intention behind biological lifeforms, no purpose, no real functions, there can be no aberrations. Cancerous cells are just darwinian nature doing its thing, no better or worse than non-cancerous replication.

Little did I know darwinists would see my 10 and raise me 20. They're suggesting cancerous cells should be considered a form of speciation.

Well, I gotta ask. If cancer can be a species, does cancer have "rights"?

Just askin'.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.
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6 comments:

Anon1152 said...

I recall reading that Cancer was a form of "speciation" some time ago. I think it was an article in Harper's... something about the DNA of the cells being very different from our own. But I'm not sure why any species would have rights per se. A form of dangerous bacteria is a species, just as "evolved" as any other. We see no need to grant bacterial rights.*

If you want to look at things from a purely biological, darwinian, amoral, apolitical point of view, then sure. Cancerous cells "just are". They are trying to survive. And so are we.

To bring in the question of rights is to completely change the frame of reference, however. The question of rights takes for granted politics and morality.

I think you're trying to ask single question while simultaneously using two sets of incompatible assumptions.
-anon1152


*Of course, some bacteria have evolved in ways that benefit us. Think of all of those "healthy bacteria" in your intestinal tract, and the "probiotic" products you can buy to benefit them, which benefits you. I'm eating Yogourt right now. But I digress.

RkBall said...

"I think you're trying to ask single question while simultaneously using two sets of incompatible assumptions."

Yes, I am -- because if darwinism is true, the idea of rights (at least as anything more than a purely human invention) are absurd.

Anon1152 said...

"if darwinism is true, the idea of rights (at least as anything more than a purely human invention) are absurd."
--I think Richard Dawkins (and others) might agree with that completely.

Anonymous said...

William in Ajax said...
Regardless of what Darwinism says...

When cancer can prove itself sentient, by finding and showing us (oh ...maybe a 30,000 year old drawing in a cave somewhere).
Then cancer could demand rights for itself, like all the other sentient species do here on earth.!
JMHO

RkBall said...

Europe has already argued that animals and plants have rights.

Usually when someone argues that someone or something has a right, they are saying it is intrinsic, the right actually exists, and is simply being recognized. Under darwinism, rights -- the foundation for the modern western world -- are an absurdity.

Anon1152 said...

I think it's a mistake to focus on "animal and plant rights". Perhaps the word "rights" makes sense in that context sometimes. As a metaphor. But I think "rights talk" gets into trouble when it strays from an anthropocentric point of view. That's not to say that I think we can do whatever we want to plants and animals. My cat doesn't have "rights" that I must respect. But I do have "duties" toward my cat. (And she reminds me of them regularly). Maybe rights and duties are two sides of the same coin. Maybe you can't have one without the other. I'm not so sure. But whether or not rights and duties go hand-in-hand or not, I think we can emphasize one or the other.

That said, darwinists can argue (and I think some do) that rights are a product of evolution. And so for them, rights (or morality) would be just as "real" as any other product of evolution. E.g., the human eye.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"