Is the Fetus a Person? / Caterpillars and Butterflies

I had philosophy discussion this morning with my classmates and TA about abortion.

All the arguments we learned about in lecture failed to answer whether or not a fetus is a person.

On that topic, I compared the fetus to a caterpillar and people to butterflies. I said this: “If we saw a caterpillar, some of us feel okay with killing it. But if we all saw butterflies, none of us would want to kill them. Why are the lives of butterflies valued much more than caterpillars? Why are the lives of fetuses valued less than people’s lives?”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who used that analogy! I just Googled my analogy, and found it mentioned on the NCBI site:

The term “potential” as it is being used in this essay is not meant to describe mere possibility, i.e., X has the potential to achieve Y does not just mean X may possibly attain Y. If that were what was meant by potential, it would be very weak indeed. A seed would not just be a potential flower or plant, but also a potential food or a potential material for an art project. A kitten would not just be a potential cat, but also a potential delicacy at some restaurant, or a potential fur coat. Rather, potential, in the way I am using it here and the way I assume most advocates of the argument from potential use the concept, refers to, as Stephen Buckle puts it, a certain being’s “potency… the power it [actually] possesses in virtue of its specific constitution” [4] to grow into a being of a certain sort. That is, X is a potential Y if X possesses the power to become Y; that X will become Y, if it lives long enough. In this way, a caterpillar is a potential butterfly (since it possesses the power to become a butterfly; it will become a butterfly if it lives long enough), as a child is a potential adult. A fetus is a potential person in this way; a fetus may not just possibly become a person, it will become a person, if its growth is unfettered and if it lives long enough.

So, during lecture, my professor talked about how comparing two similar things or beings isn’t good enough to make a strong argument because being “like” something doesn’t imply that it “is” that thing, and therefore it doesn’t necessarily have the same characteristics and rights as that thing it is being compared to.

I skimmed through the NCBI argumentative paper, and I found some pretty interesting points that weren’t discussed in class.

I’m gonna give my thoughts for each section of the paper here in my blog post.

I can harm the future person that the fetus becomes if I do something now against the fetus, for example, I can administer to a pregnant woman a drug that would result in the fetus’ eyes not developing correctly, thereby blinding the future person that develops from the fetus. That is, once the fetus is born there is an individual (the subsequent infant, child, and adult) who is substantially worse off than she otherwise would have been had the development of her eyes not been interfered with while in the fetal stage. But notice, the objection continues, that this is not what happens when we are talking about abortion. If a fetus is aborted, what we are doing is preventing the existence of a future person rather than partaking in a current action that will result in a harm for a future person. Thus, when we abort the fetus, we are really harming no currently existing being and we are doing nothing but preventing the existence of a future being. Whereas if we thwart the development of a fetus’ eyes, we are, thereby, truly harming someone: the future person that will be blinded as a result, granting that the fetus is allowed to be born and grow up.

Wow, I didn’t think of this scenario. I can see how if someone wants to abort a baby but can’t pay for a proper abortion, then that person is essentially harming the fetus and ruining the fetus’ future health condition.

Nothing I have said in this paper necessarily grounds a position that abortion is always morally wrong or unjust (which is why I keep referring as the fetal moral right to life as a prima facie right). Even though potential can ground an interest in continued existence for an early embryo or mid-gestation fetus, depending on what theory of personal identity one adheres, we still have to contend with Thomsonian-like objections which state that a fetus’ moral right to life does not entail a woman’s obligation to sacrifice her body in order to gestate it for nine months [51]. Nevertheless, I believe I have demonstrated why potential does matter, and I hope to have also illustrated that perhaps the major disagreement about this issue has more of its roots in the metaphysical question of personal identity that has previously been acknowledged.

Bruh. Okay. I skipped to the conclusion section of the paper, and I’m disappointed. My professor talked about the Thomsonian theory. A woman may not be obligated to let the fetus live according to the theory, but killing or aborting the fetus is murder.

I don’t have much time left to analyze any more paragraphs from the essay. I guess the last thing I’ll say is this: If abortion is considered murder, then oooohhhhh boy, a lot of people are gonna be killed over abortion – including the mothers, doctors, and anyone else who approved the action. Imagine what the world’s population would be like if abortionists were killed.

knitemaya Controversy / Cultural Appropriation / Arguments

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UPDATE: It has been a little less than two years since I wrote this blog post. As of January 2020, this has received over 5,000+ readers. Thank you all so much for the interest!

There are some things here that I disagree with now. So, I apologize for the thoughtless writing.

Here is the latest thing I wrote in response to this blog post. (That is only Part 1. I’m still in the middle of writing something detailed for Part 2.)

I hope that 2020 continues to bring more awareness to racism and other important social issues.

-M.C. Tan (01/27/2020)


Late in January, I came across a trending topic on Twitter called the “knitemaya controversy” and got involved in an argument with some users.

Basically, knitemaya is a cosplayer who got criticized for skin-darkening and eye-taping.

Just in case some of you aren’t familiar with some of the terms I used, here are some definitions:

  • cosplayer: someone who puts together a costume of a Japanese (anime or manga) character
  • eye-taping: the act of pulling back one’s eyes by taping around the temples or near the ears

Image result for knitemaya my natural skin tone compared to akiraImage result for knitemaya eye taping

Some cosplayers simply dress up like their favorite Japanese characters while others go to the extent of looking like those 2D characters.



The extent to which cosplayers modify their physical appearance is often a debatable topic in the cosplay community.

I’m not a cosplayer nor am I into cosplaying. Plus, it’s been a long time since I last watched anime (about 6 years at least). So I was really surprised to learn about knitemaya on my Twitter feed.

knitemaya is a pretty popular cosplayer for his amazing costumes, makeup, photoshoots, and other fan activities.

Moreover, not to long ago, his popularity surged when he cosplayed a character from the anime “Devilman: Crybaby”.

That show became so mainstream as soon as Netflix announced that it’s going to be their first original anime series.

The series became available online early January, and has attracted a large following mostly due to its unique art style and music, and partly due to the fact that it’s a spin-off of the original Devilman story (1972).

I found out about the controversy through seeing Twitter posts about “Devilman: Crybaby” because “popular cosplayer” + “popular anime series” = “lots of conversations and related content recommendations”.

When I first heard about the knitemaya controversy, I had no idea that racism was an issue in the cosplay community. Also, I was aware that certain cosplayers are popular because of their looks, photoshoot gigs, “extravagant” costumes, ability to travel to near and far events, etc. etc.

Some of the posts I saw about the controversy mentioned how it’s wrong to represent another race by changing your skin tone. One example of cultural appropriation people liked to mention is black-facing – the act of changing one’s skin color to look like an African (or African American).


Black-facing was done in Japan by comedians and singers for entertainment-purposes, and not always with the intention of being racist.

Those that defend skin-darkening/lightening say that there’s nothing wrong with doing that as long as there are no racist intentions behind the actions and permission is granted from someone who represents the culture that is being mimicked.

On the other hand, those that are against those practices say that it’s wrong to represent a large population or culture that one is not a part of, regardless of how many permissions one got, or how not-racist or culturally-informed he or she is.

On Twitter, I wrote some posts regarding the controversy in an argumentative thread:

I mentioned some pretty valid points, but think I was pretty mediocre at debating. (I wasn’t even debating, LOL. I guess I was in the middle of bringing up my argument.)

You can find the original thread on my Twitter. I don’t know if some of the posts within the thread are still there because the user I was talking to is kinda known for deleting posts and blocking people (or so what I’ve heard).

knitemaya apologized for eye-taping, but people aren’t buying his apology because they think he’s still doing it.

I don’t know what to think of his apology. I don’t know too much about him (I don’t follow his social media) to judge his apology.

I can see why eye-taping by non-Asians is disrespectful to Asians; because it’s similar to making a chinky-eye face.

Do I think it’s racist? Hmmm… I don’t know. I’m 50/50 on this one.

Image result for chinky eye teasing

Moreover, I don’t completely agree and disagree that changing one’s skin color is racist.

Before I learned about the blackfacing culture, I knew about the Japanese ganguro culture. That culture involves girls (gyaru) who darken their skins to either look tan or brown while maintaining a colorful appearance and sometimes wearing a school-girl outfit (kogyaru)

Some (not all) of those girls gather inspiration from African females, especially American R&B and hip-hop artists.

Yeah, it’s shocking to see Asian girls so dark, right?

Why? You know there are Asians that are dark. Not all Asians have porcelain-white skin.

Image result for kpop girls generation

The girls in the picture above (SNSD Girls’ Generation) are Korean idols who, like many other Korean idols, conform to the Korean standards of beauty by doing physical changes like whitening their skin.

Those who adhere to Korean or Asian beauty standards see those girls as beautiful, not as people who are trying to look white. Moreover, since the vast majority of the media identifies light skin tones as beautiful, you and others find the picture of SNSD to be more appealing than the picture of ganguros. (Am I right? Right?)

Scroll back up and look at the image of the blackfaced Japanese man again. There’s not much context in the image, but… Is he really racist for darkening his skin? What if he admires dark skin tones? How dark is too dark? Can’t the media embrace dark skin tones more by showing more people like him and/or ganguros?


Image result for jessie kpop

This woman is a Korean rapper called Jessie. She grew up in New Jersey and, obviously, loves hip hop. She fights Korea’s (and the world’s) light-skinned beauty standard with her unnatural skin tan.

Image result for cl chaerin tan

Similar to Jessie, CL is sometimes seen with an unnatural skin tan. She grew up traveling to various countries like Japan and France, and in turn became “globally-minded” – someone who explores new perspectives.

You can’t tell that CL and Jessie are English-speakers just by looking at them, and they certainly don’t look like the average Korean citizen and idol.

Image result for korean normal person

Okay, this blog post is super long. I didn’t imagine it’d be this long.

Anyways, to end this post, here’s a random yet not-so-random fact: Ne-Yo is a Blasian (Black and Asian). You can’t just judge people’s feelings towards a race by their appearance; you gotta try to look at the actions, mentality and appearance.

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Lastly (and most importantly), you can say, do, and/or think wrongful things, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person as long as you understand what was wrong and shape yourself to become more mindful of others. Even if you didn’t intend to be hurtful or wrongful, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of the black, gray and white.

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The man above is PewDiePie – the most popular YouTuber. He accidentally mentioned some racist things, but released some amazing videos in response to how the media and viewers reacted to his racist comments. Here is one of his videos: