I've been working slowly on a book (well, so far a WORD file) about parenthood. I'm dealing with topics in the order in which people encounter them, so the first several chapters are about the reasons why we have children, whether there are good reasons not to have children, and how choosy we ought to be about the kind of children we have. I'm trying to delve into the most thorny puzzles about these things, while also orienting my writing to an imaginary real person, or real couple. My intended readers are philosophical parents, or prospective parents, who reflect on their decisions every step of the way. This is basically a conceit, as they say, but nevertheless ... that's how I'm proceeding.
This week I'm feeling pretty excited for my imaginary reader(s). Finally they've decided to go ahead and have a child and (hurray!) she's pregnant! Hyper-reflective as always, my imaginary readers are studying up on the day-by-day growth of their baby-to-be. They quickly start to wonder when their future baby starts to exist. Is it on the very first day of gestation or later on, or will it only be at birth, or even later than that? My job is to help them think about this, or possibly even tell them the answer. (Philosophy is hard work ... but somebody's got to do it!)
My goal: to think about this as a question about personal identity, and leave abortion completely out of the picture. In fact, it would be great to pretend (if only I could) that pregnancies simply cannot be terminated, once they begin. Or it might be good to think about when a life starts in relation to gestation in other species. We don't have pro-choice or pro-life commitments when it comes to the gestation of kittens. Maybe it would be good to think about when Kitty starts to exist, instead of when Baby starts to exist. Or you could think about tree reproduction, and ponder when a particular tree has its first day of life. Or is there something special about people--so plants and animals start existing earlier, and people later?
Anyhow, that's the subject du jour. See next post for an interesting puzzle.