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Post 20

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 12:29pmSanction this postReply
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Welcome, John-Evert!

John-Evert and I are on the Conservative Atheists forum on Facebook. He asked about a secular defense of the pro-life position. I encouraged him to come to this thread for a dialogue.

Please visit Abortion Is Pro-Life for more substance.

See also "Of Living Death" for Ayn Rand's own view of the subject.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 8/28, 12:30pm)




Post 21

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 12:12pmSanction this postReply
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Yes, I do support individual rights and self ownership. I'm confused as to why most who subscribe to the philosophy of objectivism also uphold abortion as that seems to contradict individual rights and self ownership.



Post 22

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 12:44pmSanction this postReply
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In what way does it conflict? 

The articles Luke suggested are very good. I encourage you to read them, as well.




Post 23

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 3:12pmSanction this postReply
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Luke, thank you for the links.

Teresa, you are so right - those are excellent references.

John-Evert, I would second what Teresa recommended. Read the articles - they are very precise, comprehensive and powerfully written.



Post 24

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 3:38pmSanction this postReply
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John-Evert Veldhuyzen,

From: ARI's sanctioned abortion faq

"The essential political question concerning abortion is: does the fetus have a right to be in the body of a woman against the will of the woman? Or: does a woman's body belong to her, or to the government to forcibly dispose of in favor of the fetus?"

Objectivists arguments:
#1. Reject that need implies duty. Hence a woman does not have the duty to nourish and protect an unborn human.
#2. Claim that its not a "human being" until after the "potential human being" is born.

I claim that argument #2 is a slippery slope and an invalid argument. #1 is Objectivism's core position.

================

A woman decides that she no longer wants to nourish and protect the unborn human. In an Objectivist's eyes there are now two options available:

1. Both: A. The mother feels safe and requests a procedure to induce labor or surgical birth; B. Someone volunteers to nourish and protect the unborn human after it is born.

2. Either A or B is not true in #1. Induced labor or surgical removal is performed. Developing human dies due to no one volunteering to continue to nourish and protect, or dies due to the surgical procedure.

An Objectivist does not consider option #2 a wonderful thing that they like to happen all the time. Yet we uphold the mother's right to do as she wills with her own body. Some of us feel that abortion is despicable, and that a women should take precaution to prevent themselves from resulting in such a situation, yet we do not consider it a crime.



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Post 25

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 4:52pmSanction this postReply
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Here is Peikoff from Luke's links:
The status of the embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that cannot be sidestepped. The embryo is clearly pre-human; only the mystical notions of religious dogma treat this clump of cells as constituting a person.

We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman's choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman's body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous.

If we are to accept the equation of the potential with the actual and call the embryo an "unborn child," we could, with equal logic, call any adult an "undead corpse" and bury him alive or vivisect him for the instruction of medical students.

That tiny growth, that mass of protoplasm, exists as a part of a woman's body. It is not an independently existing, biologically formed organism, let alone a person. That which lives within the body of another can claim no right against its host. Rights belong only to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual.

Recap:

An embryo is more primitive than a frog, and a frog doesn't have rights. Therefore, an embryo doesn't have rights.

If you accept the equivocation of the potential with the actual (required in order to call an embryo an "unborn child"), then you cannot reject the idea of burying people alive because -- under the very same logic -- they are already "undead corpses."

Rights only belong to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual.

For these reasons, abortion is moral.

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 8/28, 8:31pm)




Post 26

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 5:11pmSanction this postReply
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""The essential political question concerning abortion is: does the fetus have a right to be in the body of a woman against the will of the woman? Or: does a woman's body belong to her, or to the government to forcibly dispose of in favor of the fetus?""

This argument seems to oversimplify the issue. It assumes that there are only two possibilities, one being that either a woman has the right to her own body or that a fetus has the right to be in her body whilst implying that in this case her body does not belong to her.

There is another possibility. This being that her body belongs to her but the body that is inside her does not belong to her. Her body does not belong to the government, or to any outside entity other than herself. The same is true for the body inside her. The fetus/embryo/zygote's body belongs solely to him/her and not to any outside entity including but not limited to his/her mother, father, or to the government.

"Objectivists arguments:
#1. Reject that need implies duty. Hence a woman does not have the duty to nourish and protect an unborn human.
#2. Claim that its not a "human being" until after the "potential human being" is born.

I claim that argument #2 is a slippery slope and an invalid argument. #1 is Objectivism's core position."

Well, I shall not attempt to dispute argument number 2 as you have already demonstrated the logical fallacies surrounding it.

I shall now attempt to dispute argument number 1.

Need does not imply duty. Rather, duty is derived from responsibility for ones own actions. If one chooses to commit suicide, then one chooses to die. If one chooses to chronically take drugs, than ultimately one is responsible for one's own addiction that follows. Based on these arguments, if one chooses to have sex, then one chooses to reproduce as reproductive activity is inherently, erm, reproductive.

Liberty implies responsibility. If we are free to have the right to live, then we are responsible in the sense that we will not murder. If we murder, then we forfeit our right to live as we have failed to live up to the responsibility that accompanies our liberty. If we are free to have the right to liberty, then we must not enslave others. And, if we are free to have the right to our property and the pursuit of our happiness, then we must not deprive others of such. Ultimately, responsibility accompanies freedom. Thus, a truly free society must also not allow some to attempt to avoid the consequences of their own actions by trampling upon the rights of others.

Ultimately what it boils down to is whether or not a fetus or embryo are individuals deserving rights.



Post 27

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 5:34pmSanction this postReply
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Firstly, I will attempt to refute what Peikoff has to say:

"The status of the embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that cannot be sidestepped. The embryo is clearly pre-human; only the mystical notions of religious dogma treat this clump of cells as constituting a person."

This depends upon an assumption regarding the definition of "human" and "person."

An embryo is clearly still a human entity as he/she is in a stage of human development. Your level of humanity should not be based on what stage of development you are in. You are no less human as an adult than you are as a senior citizen. And, you are no more human as an adult than you are as a teen. Level of development has nothing to do with humanity.

"We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman's choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman's body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous."

Yes, I realize that an embryo is not an infant. An embryo is an embryo. And yes, I realize that an embryo is biologically, in its current state, more primitive than a frog. The error in this argument is that it assumes that rights must accompany sophistication and complexity.

Why is it that, in order to have rights, a human being must be in a complex and/or sophisticated state?

"If we are to accept the equation of the potential with the actual and call the embryo an "unborn child," we could, with equal logic, call any adult an "undead corpse" and bury him alive or vivisect him for the instruction of medical students."

I do not equate potential with actual. Rather, I value all human life because of its potential.

Ultimately, to kill an innocent is the ultimate robbery. Said innocent is completely deprived of their future and their potential.

"That tiny growth, that mass of protoplasm, exists as a part of a woman's body. It is not an independently existing, biologically formed organism, let alone a person."

This assumes that in order to have inalienable human rights one must be independently existing rather than to simply be human.

"That which lives within the body of another can claim no right against its host."

And why is that? If the parent chose to create he/she that lives in her body by choosing to engage in reproductive activity, then why is it that the individual that is currently not able to live independently is to be made responsible for the parent's actions.

And secondly, by his usage of the term "host," Peikoff is insinuating that a mother-unborn human relationship is analogous to the host-parasite relationship. This assertion is ridiculous as firstly, there are no parasites in nature that are of the same biological kind and/or species as their host, and secondly, because the embryo is the result of sexual intercourse, not parasitic infestation.

"Rights belong only to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual."

I agree. Thus, rights belong to all individuals, regardless of what race, sex, ideology, sexual orientation, or developmental stage one is in.

Now, to respond to your argument, (yes, I realize that you are merely recapping Peikoff, but I want to respond to your statements as well to promote clarity.)

"An embryo is more primitive than a frog, and a frog doesn't have rights. Therefore, an embryo doesn't have rights."

Why is it that, in order to have rights, a human being must be in a complex and/or sophisticated state?

"If you accept the equivocation of the potential with the actual (required in order to call an embryo an "unborn child"), then you cannot reject the idea of burying people alive because -- under the very same logic -- they are already "undead corpses.""

I do not equate potential with actual. Rather, I argue that the reason why the actual has rights is because of its potential.

This is why animals don't have rights while human beings do. We humans have a much greater potential than animals.

I can reject the idea of burying people alive as that suffocates their life potential.

"Rights only belong to individuals, not to collectives or to parts of an individual."

I agree. Thus, rights belong to all individuals, regardless of what race, sex, ideology, sexual orientation, or developmental stage one is in.

"For these reasons, abortion is moral."

And I dispute this supposition.



Post 28

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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Dangit, It appears that I have not responded to all of your argument Mr. Gores. I post part two below:

Situation 1 is the ideal in this circumstance. Situation two is unfortunate and avoidable without abortion. The developing human does not need to die due to lack of nourishment as developing human can become a ward of the state and/or be put into a public or private adoption system.

Death through surgical procedure is unlikely, but if it happens, it is unfortunate. But unfortunate unavoidable death is preferable to intentionally induced death.



Post 29

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 12:09amSanction this postReply
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John-Evert,

There are some fallacies in your attempted rebuttles. You wrote, "This argument seems to oversimplify the issue. It assumes that there are only two possibilities, one being that either a woman has the right to her own body or that a fetus has the right to be in her body whilst implying that in this case her body does not belong to her.

There is another possibility. This being that her body belongs to her but the body that is inside her does not belong to her. Her body does not belong to the government, or to any outside entity other than herself. The same is true for the body inside her. The fetus/embryo/zygote's body belongs solely to him/her and not to any outside entity including but not limited to his/her mother, father, or to the government."


If her body belongs to her, then she gets to say what can be in it. Wouldn't matter if the fetus was seen as a human or not. And the government has nothing to do with this distinction. I belong solely to myself and not any outside entity but if someone tells me to leave their property, I must go. I don't have a right to trespass and to claim that I did, would be to invalidate what is meant by property. So, the fetus whether human or a clump of cells, can't trespass. If the owner of the body says, "leave," it must go.
--------------------------------

You wrote, "Need does not imply duty. Rather, duty is derived from responsibility for ones own actions. If one chooses to commit suicide, then one chooses to die. If one chooses to chronically take drugs, than ultimately one is responsible for one's own addiction that follows. Based on these arguments, if one chooses to have sex, then one chooses to reproduce as reproductive activity is inherently, erm, reproductive."

Yes, there are logical consequences to having sex and one of them may be pregnancy. But no one is obligated to forego abortion. Abortion is a choice that can be made. Chronic drug abuse may lead to death, but no is under an obligation to die so long as they can still change their path and get off of drugs. Unwanted pregnancies are not a case of "one chooses to reproduce." They chose to enjoy sex. Your argument sounds suspiciously like a religion-based moral duty to pay for the sins of pleasure.
--------------------------------

You finished that post saying, "Ultimately what it boils down to is whether or not a fetus or embryo are individuals deserving rights."

That's partially correct. If the fetus or embyo has no rights then this is all a moot point. But it is only partly correct, because even if the fetus or embryo has some rights, they wouldn't include forcing the mother to carry them about for 9 months, occupying her body against her will, and then making a slave of her for 18 years. But there is another error in your statement: you calll the fetus or embryo an individual - but they aren't, they are a part of the mother, like her heart or big toe. To overcome that objection you need to address the "potential versus actual" argument.
-----------------------------------

You wrote, "An embryo is clearly still a human entity as he/she is in a stage of human development."

My big toe is a human entity - that is an entity that is common to all humans. But it isn't in a stage of human development. However, each individual, human sperm cell is clearly a 'human entity' that is in a stage of human development.
------------------------------------

You wrote, "Level of development has nothing to do with humanity."

Humanity is word that is larded down with ambiguity in this context. Humanity includes things like concern for fellow beings - with human decency, "Show your humanity." Humanity usually refers to all humans alive rather than indicating a single individual belonging to homosapiens species: "Today humanity thinks nothing of..." It can refer to the quality or state of being human as opposed to being animal like - as a murderer is. It can refer to "The Humanities" - a course of study. If a sperm is not an individual human being possessing the individual rights, then at some point in the course of development there is a change. You appear to be arguing for potential and the potential occurring at conception.
--------------------------------------

You wrote, "Yes, I realize that an embryo is not an infant. An embryo is an embryo. And yes, I realize that an embryo is biologically, in its current state, more primitive than a frog. The error in this argument is that it assumes that rights must accompany sophistication and complexity. Why is it that, in order to have rights, a human being must be in a complex and/or sophisticated state?"

People who argue from a religious position see rights given to humans by God. It is that arbitrary and not clear if they go to all humans as a group and in perpetuity, or if God acts individually granting the rights on an individual by individual basis at the moment of conception. And no way to validate any of those assertions or related assertions or any questions they raise, like, "Why don't frogs have rights?" It is all mystical and all based upon interpretations of scripture.

Objectivists logically derive rights as arising from man's nature. It is by definition an individual that is a separate being from the mother. The parents of a child act as the guardians of the child. A human being must have developed a rational capacity which includes choice.
----------------------------------------

You wrote, "I value all human life because of its potential."

That's fine. You are a human being. You exercise you rational faculties and choose values and form opinions, but your valuations aren't the same as individual rights as applying to those who have been born. Someone from PETA may value all animals, but that doesn't give a frog property rights, for example, nor stand as evidence that frogs have property rights.
------------------------------------------

You wrote, "This assumes that in order to have inalienable human rights one must be independently existing rather than to simply be human."

That isn't an assumption, it is an assertion - one that is backed up by logic and not scripture. If the argument is that because an embryo or fetus is a human clump of cells, then it is an individual human being you are abusing the word "individual" and you are arguing the potential versus actual again. And you are coming from a place where you can't argue against giving rights to sperm cells, or to skin cells that can be grown in a petri dish. Either rights come from God, or they are derived logically from man's nature and what survival requires and the context of society. They aren't just floating abstractions to be attached to any old thing.
-----------------------------------------

You wrote, "If the parent chose to create he/she that lives in her body by choosing to engage in reproductive activity, then why is it that the individual that is currently not able to live independently is to be made responsible for the parent's actions."

The parents chose to engage in sex, and that is not the same as choosing to reproduce. I can choose to drive to the supermarket, and then change my mind, or not pay attention and start driving to work instead. There is no individual until there is birth - separation - individuation. It is those who oppose abortion that make parents into slaves to an unwanted pregnancy.
------------------------------------------

You wrote, "I argue that the reason why the actual has rights is because of its potential."

That's either circular reasoning, irrelevant or ambiguity depending upon how you approach it. You have argued before that the fetus or embryo have rights to start with. Now you are saying that the actual has rights because of it's potential. You haven't given any other statement of where these rights come from in the first place - why don't frogs have rights? One of the potential states of the actual is death... is that a source of rights. Potentially, I might have a bad day tomorrow - does that infer any kind of rights. You talked about liberty and responsibilities - is that the source of rights, or potential liberty and potential responsibility. Potential always includes "not yet." You can't make a "not yet" individual human being into a "at this very moment" individual human being.
-------------------------------------------

Frogs have potential too. They too can be deprived of their lives, of their potential. Where do you draw the line?




Post 30

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 12:15pmSanction this postReply
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Steve, I'm going to play the devil's advocate here. You wrote,
If her body belongs to her, then she gets to say what can be in it. Wouldn't matter if the fetus was seen as a human or not. And the government has nothing to do with this distinction. I belong solely to myself and not any outside entity but if someone tells me to leave their property, I must go. I don't have a right to trespass and to claim that I did, would be to invalidate what is meant by property. So, the fetus whether human or a clump of cells, can't trespass. If the owner of the body says, "leave," it must go.
I don't think this is a good argument. Let's say that I invite you onto my ocean liner for a cruise that lasts more than a month at sea. But while on the cruise, you and I have a falling out -- a serious conflict -- and I tell you that you are no longer welcome on my ship. Must you leave? If you do, you will drown. Clearly, I can't just kick you off my ship in the middle of the cruise, on the grounds that you're now a trespasser. I must wait until we reach port or return to our point of departure. Otherwise, I'm violating your rights, because evicting you in the middle of the cruise will cause your death. Similarly, if a woman "invites" a fetus into her womb, she can't just "evict" it in the middle of her pregnancy on the grounds that it's now a trespasser, because doing so will cause its death. She must wait until she "reaches port" -- until she delivers the baby -- at which point, she can put it up for adoption.




Post 31

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 1:05pmSanction this postReply
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Bill,

Here is the problem with your Devil's advocate argrument: You are drawing on the underlying moral fairness we see in contract law. But that moral fairness comes from the observance of the elements of a valid contract. There are required elements like "meeting of the minds" - which is not present in your argument. Valid contracts require consideration - which is not present here. Valid contracts require specific conditions and terms - which aren't present here.

Let's say a couple have sex, and lets say their intention is pleasure and it is the contraceptive that fails - there was no third party in existence prior to conception with whom they had a 'meeting of the minds' - no explicit terms and conditions were discussed and no consideration provided.

Someone could say that there are implied conditions and terms - say a couple wanted to reproduce and then the woman changed her mind after getting pregnant and got an abortion. One could say the offer of birth was conditional and abortion was an implied, alternative that existed as a term of the implied contract.

I existed prior to the cruise on your ship, and I was alive before I boarded your cruise liner. I was before and after boarding an individual with rights already attached. We had a meeting of the minds when we formed the contract that covered the cruise. I paid (provided consideration) for explicit conditions and terms that put me ashore at the end of the cruise.

However, if you wanted you could have made the contract with terms that stated I could be put off the ship at any time based upon specified conditions (such a contract might reduce demand for cruises with those terms - not a recommended business model unless you wanted to compete with Dr. Kevorkian).

Your cruise ship analogy isn't valid. The embryo or fetus did not get the woman's approval before boarding the ship or pay for the voyage (remember that boarding is for an 18 year, 9 month cruise). It's not a valid comparison.

Any argument that relates to the use of property may end up having to do with contracts. If I am accused of trespassing, then I will have to assert a positive defense stating that I acquired the legal right to be on/in the property (like a lease or rental agreement). The embryo or fetus can claim an implied invitation, but cannot claim that consideration was given and agreement reached that abortion would not be exercised. I can invite a friend to come over for a beer, but that doesn't mean they can stay for 18 years.
--------------

And remember, that whole argument of mine that the embryo or fetus has no right to occupy the woman's body without her permission worked even if one assumed the embryo or fetus had rights - and I do NOT believe the embryo or fetus have rights. You were playing the Devil's advocate to an argument being made by me while I was playing the Devil's advocate.
(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 8/30, 1:10pm)




Post 32

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 2:14pmSanction this postReply
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Steve,

Very well, let's say that a woman decides to have a baby, but that once the baby is born, she decides that she doesn't want to spend the next 18 years raising it. As per your argument against my cruise ship analogy, the baby didn't consent to a contract specifying that the mother couldn't "evict" him from her household as a trespasser, if she decided he was no longer a welcome "guest."

How does your argument apply here? Why can't she evict the baby if she decides that he's no longer welcome in her home? There was no contract made between the baby and his mother specifying the terms under which the baby is allowed to remain in the mother's house. So why can't she simply evict him, as you say she can with the fetus?

I understand that you don't think the fetus has rights, whereas you do think that the baby does. But the question is what are the grounds for those rights? On what grounds do we say that the baby has rights, but the fetus does not? Is it that the baby is a separate entity, because it's not attached to the mother's body? Why should the presence or absence of physical attachment make any difference? While the baby is in the mother's body, it's a burden -- that's for sure -- but it's also a burden as a separate baby. So I don't see the relevant difference.

If rationality is a condition of rights, the baby is not yet rational, so on what grounds does he have rights? To be sure, he has the potential to become rational, but you've already dismissed the argument from potentiality.





Post 33

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:19pmSanction this postReply
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I found this approach to be very interesting, John -

Why is it that, in order to have rights, a human being must be in a complex and/or sophisticated state?

I don't think I've ever heard that argument before, at least not offered in such an articulate and sincere way.

Let me counter by saying that the issue isn't complexity, but viability.  You're making the subtle argument that the standard of life for human beings, and thus the matrix for a right to life, is a constant, continuous state of dependence: that human life, as a requirement, needs the blood of another to survive.   If a blastocyst has a right to its mother's blood, why can't a anyone claim a right to a transfusion from whomever they choose, for whatever reason?  

If complexity or, more precisely, viability aren't important factors when determining rights, then we're all pretty much screwed, wouldn't you say?




Post 34

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 4:08pmSanction this postReply
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Bill,

Birth is the bright line that the law chooses and that makes sense. Once a child is born they have both moral and legal rights and the parents become the guardians - by law. The parents can still "evict" the child - that is, they can turn the child over to the local children's services agency and give up parental rights. And many states have enacted laws to allow new mothers to take the child to any police station or fire station and give it over - no penalties.

The parents can't throw the child out into the snow because of the established obligations as guardians. But they aren't required by law to stay guardians.

If they have some extraordinary reason for getting out of the guardianship, like they both contract incurable diseases, then they would be morally remiss to not find good replacements. If they just decide it is too much work, then they are morally scum (and the child will probably be better off with someone else).

You ask the question of why do rights exist for the baby but not the fetus.
1.) Rationality is part of the equation - it is the fact that humans, by nature, have a rational capacity. It isn't a measurement of this or that baby's degree of rationality (if we had to measure each individual to determine rationality there would be some adults that failed). So, humans are rational beings by nature and that is why they have rights. This is a statement of what the nature of a human beings is. But it isn't the only requirement.

2.) Being an separate entity is also required. Before the separation we treat the fetus and mother as one. She is the only right holder. The fetus is a potential, not actual, human being until birth.

3.) There is also a sort of requirement to be a member of a society with at least two people (only because the issue of rights doesn't arise for a person on a desert island all by themselves.)
---------------------

You wrote, "If rationality is a condition of rights, the baby is not yet rational, so on what grounds does he have rights?"

A baby is rational in the sense that it is a human being (a rational animal) and it's means of survival is the use of it's rational capacity. (And babies ARE engaged in rational learning - large, large quantities of learning - abstracting and integrating - laying down the foundation for further learning.)

And, again, it isn't the individual baby's degree of rationality that makes it human or gives it rights. It is being a human being that tells us that the baby's proper mode of operation is the exercise of its rational faculty and it is by being a human being that we know that this entity has individual rights.
We identify the concrete as a member of a class and then assign to it all those properties common to all members of that class - Is this a human being I'm looking at, or is it a cleverly designed android? It is a human... ah, then I know it has human rights.



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Post 35

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 11:22amSanction this postReply
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Firstly, I would like to thank you for being willing to cordially discuss this with me. I trust that we can have an open and rational discussion.

"If her body belongs to her, then she gets to say what can be in it."

This is most certainly true. The problem here is that she already chose for the fetus to be in her body by engaging in reproduction. For her to kill her offspring after deciding to create him/her seems cruel and inhuman as the fetus/embryo had no say as to whether or not he/she would be within her body.

Actually, as you pointed out in response to Dwyer's cruise ship analogy, the passenger existed prior to the voyage, whereas the embryo did not exist prior to the pregnancy. I actually find this fact to support my argument as the embryo had absolutely no say as to whether or not he/she would even exist, it was completely the parents choice to create him/her. Thus, contract law arguments are not applicable in this case as the embryo was forcibly created regardless of his/her will. Thus, to perform an abortion in the case in which one is reversing the result of consensual sex, one is in essence creating a human being merely for destruction. In what way is this fair?

"Wouldn't matter if the fetus was seen as a human or not. And the government has nothing to do with this distinction. I belong solely to myself and not any outside entity but if someone tells me to leave their property, I must go. I don't have a right to trespass and to claim that I did, would be to invalidate what is meant by property. So, the fetus whether human or a clump of cells, can't trespass. If the owner of the body says, "leave," it must go.""

Yes, but you entered their property on your own will. The fetus/embryo had no choice. They were forced into the parents womb. Would it be fair if someone kidnapped you, dragged you onto their property in chains, and then killed you for being on their property?

"Yes, there are logical consequences to having sex and one of them may be pregnancy. But no one is obligated to forego abortion. Abortion is a choice that can be made."

Abortion's being a choice has nothing to do with its rectitude.

"Chronic drug abuse may lead to death, but no is under an obligation to die so long as they can still change their path and get off of drugs."

Yes, this is because they were responsible and changed their path.

"Unwanted pregnancies are not a case of "one chooses to reproduce." They chose to enjoy sex. Your argument sounds suspiciously like a religion-based moral duty to pay for the sins of pleasure."

There is nothing wrong with pleasure. The fact that you are responding by comparing my argument to religion's inherent dislike for empowerment of the individual seems to tell me that you might be misinterpreting my argument. I am not arguing that pleasure is wrong, rather, I am arguing that sacrificing human life on the altar of pleasure is wrong. Our right to the pursuit of happiness always ends where the Right to Life of others begins, in essence, we cannot permit anyone to kill people for their own pleasure.

"...even if the fetus or embryo has some rights, they wouldn't include forcing the mother to carry them about for 9 months, occupying her body against her will,"

The mother's rights do not include creating a person against their will simply to murderously destroy them.

"and then making a slave of her for 18 years."

One word: adoption.

"But there is another error in your statement: you calll the fetus or embryo an individual - but they aren't, they are a part of the mother, like her heart or big toe."

They have separate and individual genetic codes that define them as people. Thus, the fetus is not simply "part of the mother," as physical contact has nothing to do with whether or not one is an individual. An individual is defined by their respective traits, which are defined by their genetic makeup.

"My big toe is a human entity - that is an entity that is common to all humans. But it isn't in a stage of human development. However, each individual, human sperm cell is clearly a 'human entity' that is in a stage of human development. "

Your big toe is not capable of participating in the human developmental cycle. Thus, your big toe is not an individual.

A sperm cell is only partially capable of participating in the human developmental cycle as it does not possess its own individual genetic code as its code is merely a fragment. This, couples with the fact that the vast majority of sperm cells do not ever fertilize an ova, a sperm cell lacks the same level of individual potential that an embryo has.

"Humanity is word that is larded down with ambiguity in this context. Humanity includes things like concern for fellow beings - with human decency, "Show your humanity." Humanity usually refers to all humans alive rather than indicating a single individual belonging to homosapiens species: "Today humanity thinks nothing of..." It can refer to the quality or state of being human as opposed to being animal like - as a murderer is. It can refer to "The Humanities" - a course of study. If a sperm is not an individual human being possessing the individual rights, then at some point in the course of development there is a change. You appear to be arguing for potential and the potential occurring at conception."

This is correct.

"People who argue from a religious position see rights given to humans by God. It is that arbitrary and not clear if they go to all humans as a group and in perpetuity, or if God acts individually granting the rights on an individual by individual basis at the moment of conception. And no way to validate any of those assertions or related assertions or any questions they raise, like, "Why don't frogs have rights?" It is all mystical and all based upon interpretations of scripture."

This is irrelevant to me. Firstly, this is because I am an agnostic atheist who does not base his opinions on religious dogma, and secondly because the logical interpretation from scripture is that we have no rights.

Actually, you have touched onto one of the reasons I shook off the shackles of religion, there is a clear dichotomy between defending the rights of the unborn, and ripping infants out of their mother's bellies with a sword. Yahweh obviously has no problem with abortion.

"Objectivists logically derive rights as arising from man's nature. It is by definition an individual that is a separate being from the mother. The parents of a child act as the guardians of the child. A human being must have developed a rational capacity which includes choice."

So, it seems that you are arguing that a human being must have a rational capacity in order to have rights.

Well, then what about someone who has been unconscious for a year? Do they not still have the right to live?

This actually brings me back to my question as having a rational capacity is a form of human sophistication and complexity. Why is it that one must be in a sophisticated or complex state to have rights?

"That isn't an assumption, it is an assertion - one that is backed up by logic and not scripture. If the argument is that because an embryo or fetus is a human clump of cells, then it is an individual human being you are abusing the word "individual" and you are arguing the potential versus actual again. And you are coming from a place where you can't argue against giving rights to sperm cells, or to skin cells that can be grown in a petri dish. Either rights come from God, or they are derived logically from man's nature and what survival requires and the context of society. They aren't just floating abstractions to be attached to any old thing."

Why do you keep bringing religion into this? I am not religious in any way.

And secondly, I am not merely arguing that an embryo is a human because it is a clump of human cells, I am arguing that an embryo is a human because it has his/her own genetic code that is fully capable of defining him/her as an individual human being, and because he/she is in a stage in the human life cycle, meaning that he/she has the potential to walk this earth among us. I am not equating the actual with the potential, rather, I am arguing that the rights of the actual are derived from the potential.

"The parents chose to engage in sex, and that is not the same as choosing to reproduce."

Just like choosing to pull the trigger to a 1911 pointed at your head is not the same as choosing to commit suicide, I gotcha.

"I can choose to drive to the supermarket, and then change my mind, or not pay attention and start driving to work instead."

Yes you can, this is because you do not destroy another human life when you do so.

"There is no individual until there is birth - separation - individuation."

It is this contention that I attempt to challenge. I hold that physical contact does not cause one to not be an individual.

"It is those who oppose abortion that make parents into slaves to an unwanted pregnancy."

It is those who uphold abortion who cause more than 80 percent of people who have down's syndrome in the US to not even get a chance to live.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51671-2005Apr13.html

"That's either circular reasoning, irrelevant or ambiguity depending upon how you approach it."

There is nothing circular about this. Ask yourself this, why do we become incensed when a perfectly innocent person is brutally murdered? Is it not because they have just been robbed of everything?

You see, the three parts of time are the past, the present, and the future. Due to the fact that the past is what has been, and what has been done, the result of our past is our property. How we use our present depends upon our liberty. And in order for us to have the freedom to utilize our present and move into the future, then we need to keep living. In essence, to lose one's Life is to lose one's future, to lose one's Liberty is to lose one's present as we cannot use our present without Liberty, and finally, to lose our Property is to lose the fruit of our labor in the past.

In essence, the slaughter of an innocent is the ultimate robbery as it is the theft of their future.

"You have argued before that the fetus or embryo have rights to start with. Now you are saying that the actual has rights because of it's potential."

Yes.

"You haven't given any other statement of where these rights come from in the first place - why don't frogs have rights?"

If we wish to be able to secure for ourselves and those that we love a "good life," then the best way to do so is to set up societies in which we are all capable of obtaining this "good life" without infringing upon the ability of others to obtain their "good life." Rights, are merely parts of what are necessary for the "good life." We cannot truly obtain the "good life" for ourselves unless we Live, are Liberated, and are capable of Pursuing our Happiness without the fear that our Property, that is, the fruit of our Pursuits of Happiness, will be deprived of us. This is from whence Rights cometh, from a type of Altruistic and Enlightened self interest, a self interest that respects the self interest of others, and will, in some cases, sacrifice itself for the perpetuation of the society in which this self interest is secured. In essence, to say, "GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH" is pretty much the same as saying, "I shall fight for the freedom for me and those around me to engage in the pursuance of the "good life," and I would rather die than for me and those that I love to not be able to pursue such a life as then I shall die a free man, a man who truly lived, rather than a man who was philosophically dead before he even entered the grave."

"One of the potential states of the actual is death... is that a source of rights."

Of course not. You have no potential when you are dead. Rather, your potential is fulfilled by what you do with the time that you have.

"Potentially, I might have a bad day tomorrow - does that infer any kind of rights."

I don't see how it could. This analogy seems to tell me that you may be misinterpreting me.

I arguing that human beings have a great potential, one greater than any other species on this planet. This potential is what differentiates us from other species such as frogs. And, it is this potential that gives our lives meaning.

"You talked about liberty and responsibilities - is that the source of rights, or potential liberty and potential responsibility. Potential always includes "not yet." You can't make a "not yet" individual human being into a "at this very moment" individual human being."

I don't see a fetus as a "not yet" individual human, rather, I see a fetus as a fully individual human. Yes, if a fetus was a "not yet" individual human, then it would not qualify as an individual as there is a clear line between the potential and the actual. But, if a fetus is an individual human, then the line does not apply as then the actual, that is the fetus being an individual, is not merely a potential but rather an actual that is coupled with great potential.

Ultimately, we have a difference of opinion as to what an individual is. You argue that in order to be an individual, one must be of a certain stage of development, that is, of a certain stage of sophistication. I see an individual as being based on one's ability to live a sentient human life.

"Frogs have potential too. They too can be deprived of their lives, of their potential. Where do you draw the line?"

I draw the line with a recognition of the levels of precedence. Yes, a frog has potential to hop around, eat flies, and swim. This is where a frog's potential ends. Human beings are potentially capable of so much more than frogs. The reason why humanity is the dominant species on this planet, and the reason why, if we continue to advance rather than regress by capitulating to evil and stupidity, we may be able to secure a place for ourselves in the stars for a very long time.



Post 36

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 11:36amSanction this postReply
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Firstly, I would cordially like to thank you for being willing to discuss this with me. It is rare that I am able to find open discussion on the internet.

"I don't think I've ever heard that argument before, at least not offered in such an articulate and sincere way."

Thank you.

"Let me counter by saying that the issue isn't complexity, but viability."

I counter by arguing that viability is a form of sophistication.

"You're making the subtle argument that the standard of life for human beings, and thus the matrix for a right to life, is a constant, continuous state of dependence: that human life, as a requirement, needs the blood of another to survive. If a blastocyst has a right to its mother's blood, why can't a anyone claim a right to a transfusion from whomever they choose, for whatever reason?"

Actually, the argument that I am trying to make is that the standard for human life is whether or not the being in question has a future that is, more precisely, a sentient future.

Also, a blastocyst did not choose to be created, he/she was created by his/her parents. Thus, it is the parents who assume responsibility for the care of their offspring. I was not created by you, thus, I do not have any claim to receive anything from you, whether it be blood, or financial help.

"If complexity or, more precisely, viability aren't important factors when determining rights, then we're all pretty much screwed, wouldn't you say?"

I wasn't trying to say that complexity, viability, and/or sophistication are not important factors. What I am trying to argue is that they are not the only factors. Yes, abortion is justifiable if the parent's life is endangered as she is first in line due to her being more developed and due to the fact that no human should be forced to give up their lives and/or their self interest up for another, but, if her life is not endangered, then sophistication and complexity cease to be foremost factors as the embryo should not be forced to give up his/her life and/or self interest up for the life of another. Ultimately, I find the most important factor to be whether or not the being is capable of a sentient future.



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Post 37

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 2:12pmSanction this postReply
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John -

Actually, the argument that I am trying to make is that the standard for human life is whether or not the being in question has a future that is, more precisely, a sentient future.


Right. I understand that your premise claims a potential is an actual, but my problem is that this premise isn't true, and you haven't offered any proof that it is.

 
The argument that sexual intercourse demands your idea of desired ends is also false.  Conception happens automatically and non-volitional. There's no magic in it, no inherent or intrinsic value, and no guarantee that intercourse will always result in conception.   Sex and conception are not mutually inclusive.  People who have no capacity to conceive still enjoy sexual relationships.  Intercourse isn't even required for conception anymore.

Also, a blastocyst did not choose to be created, he/she was created by his/her parents.

And sometimes couples don't choose to make one. Like I said, conception is an automatic, non-volitional process. I've also shown why sex and conception are not mutually inclusive. Your argument is against sexual relationships, not for life.

I submit that your argument isn't really about valuing the life of a fertilized egg, but more about disdain for sexual relationships among people who choose not to have children.

Correct me if you think pregnancy free sexual relationships among healthy, fertile couples is perfectly okay.

This:



is not a "baby." 

  





Post 38

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 2:19pmSanction this postReply
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Further, should 'mother nature' decide to abort [called miscarriage], how then to apply so-called morals to the woman - 'aiding and abetting' nature? how to prove? and, btw, this is not hypothetical, as there are legislations to accuse the woman of just this should there be a miscarriage!



Post 39

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 2:31pmSanction this postReply
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Further still,


John is making the horrible,(but currently culturally fashionable,) assumption that children are, and worse, should be, the penalty and punishment for sexual relationships. I can't think of anything more immoral, or nihilistic, honestly.  I certainly hope that isn't what he means. 

I might puke. Excuse me.




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