Construction, Development, and Redevelopment

Richard Stith, Valparaiso University

This paper was presented at the University Faculty for Life's 2007 Life and Learning conference.


If a claim that appears utterly convincing to the speaker is treated as absurd by others, the speaker is likely to think those others willfully perverse. But perhaps those others simply fail to grasp some background truth that the speaker has assumed to be obvious. Rectification of their mistake can then provide a basis for unexpected agreement and for isolating those respondents who are in fact deeply hostile to the speaker’s claim. This Article suggests that many of our fellow citizens find the pro-life argument against lethal embryo research to be absurd simply because they mistakenly treat gestation as a process of construction rather than as a process of development. Only an isolated segment of those who favor such research may have abandoned our traditional shared belief in human equality and dignity. The contrast between construction and development is also used to illuminate our disagreements over abortion and euthanasia.