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DonAthos

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  1. This is games playing and demonstrative of the "rationalism" I'd noted earlier.
  2. "Basically" the Court expressed an interest in "viability," as well, and drawing distinctions between the trimesters. Just as Rand did, when she spoke about the essential issue concerning only the first three months, and that one may argue about the later stages. Since those thoughts seem to mirror the Court's decision in those aspects as well, maybe her agreement runs that far? I don't know. I don't know Rand's thinking on the subject beyond what she's written, which is confused to say the least, but I do know that it is not some endorsement of "full-term abortion." Because as I've said, if she had wanted to make such a claim, it would have been easy to do so unambiguously. But "one may argue about the later stages" implies the very opposite, that there is something about the entity -- "embryo," fetus, child, or by any other name -- that changes over the course of the pregnancy and (at least) invites the very argument that this changing and developing entity may be subject to rights, at some point before birth. Look, if I wanted to take up the side some people wish to impart to Rand, it's easy enough to do so in a straightforward manner. Watch: "The unborn have no rights until birth. A mother may terminate her pregnancy at any time without exception. Roe v. Wade was a good start, but it does not go far enough. There is no debate to be had about the 'later stages' of pregnancy, and it does not matter whether an 'embryo' at eight months is alive medically or not," and so forth. If Rand wished to say these things, she could have done at least as well as I have managed, and then I could say, "Well, I agree with Rand about most things... but I don't agree completely with her position on abortion." Yet as it stands, I agree with Rand that the issue essentially concerns the early stage of a pregnancy -- and that abortion there is fine (let alone birth control) -- and that one may argue about the later stages (which I do). Thus, I am not "anti-abortion," as you have put it elsewhere (I am as pro-abortion as Rand and Roe v. Wade), but anti-infanticide. Certainly. And that entity, at full-term, is growing and moving, with internal and external actions consistent with the newborn to which we would ascribe rights (and the parents, parental obligation); only its relationship with its surroundings (and significantly, the mother) changes at birth. Yet the entity is not defined by those relationships. I mean, you could also make an argument that the newborn is fundamentally a different entity when in the bathtub or bassinet -- nothing stops you, outside of reason -- but it would be just as wrong. One of my attractions to Rand, generally speaking, is that she is an inordinately precise writer and speaker. I thus find her sometimes misuse of "embryo" both striking and suggestive, and what it suggests to me is that, perhaps, part of the confusion is that Rand continued to deal with the subject as she saw it "essentially": meaning that she sometimes misused the word "embryo" because when she thought about abortion, she thought of it primarily in terms of pregnancy to three months (like she indicated elsewhere), where the word "embryo" is (at least mostly) appropriate. You'd quoted her, after all, also speaking about "birth control" and thus (as I imagine it), contra the argument that sperm or a fertilized egg are also human life, and subject to protection, etc., which is ridiculous, but an argument that some people make. Rand rejected the idea that such an entity -- a "piece of protoplasm" -- could be considered "human life" in the full sense, with which I agree. But she also seemed to allow (without committing one way or the other) that later stages of pregnancy might be different, with which I further agree. And beyond that, did she give "full-term abortion" much thought? I doubt it. I also don't know how much thought Rand gave to parenthood/parental obligation, generally, which is an under-explored topic that might shed some light on the present debate. I know you consider it "put to bed," but I believe that it's meaningful as an antidote to the rhetoric you'd introduced, regarding "the right not to be regarded as the means to any end." So where does that "right" go, given the obligations of parenthood? Instead of coming up with yet more angles, why not play out one or two of the several already introduced? A woman has the right not to be regarded as the means of any end, we agree, and yet we do both also ascribe a mother obligations to her newborn. How do we reconcile that? And if a mother could have an obligation to her newborn+1 day, why could she not have an obligation to her newborn-1 day? Because that entity is magically transformed at birth, from an unperson to a human being? That sounds not alone like rationalism, but shamanism. I do claim that an unborn child, at thirty nine weeks, say, is a human being, yes. If I claim that it has a right to life, that's because I believe that human beings have a right to life, generally. I think that the "argument" (for which you claim to give "philosophical and biological evidence" where I find nothing but mere assertion) that a child one minute prior to delivery is not a human being, is preposterous. Earlier you'd related this to "connection" -- and maybe that's the "evidence" you're referring to -- but such a thing is utterly irrelevant. I'd proposed a (only somewhat) futuristic test tube baby example to demonstrate this irrelevancy, but I'm not certain you've weighed in on it. So what do you say? Given an (actual) embryo, a true "piece of protoplasm," being brought to term via test tube, do we agree that initially it is not a human being, and subject to termination, but at some point thereafter, it is a human being and cannot be terminated/aborted, and must instead be cared for? Rand wrote, "[The] valid definition of man, within the context of his knowledge and of all of mankind’s knowledge to-date [is]: 'A rational animal.' ('Rational,' in this context, does not mean 'acting invariably in accordance with reason'; it means 'possessing the faculty of reason.'...) " And so, I would go "one minute before," not till conception, but until that point where the entity in question possesses the faculty of reason -- which I think is ultimately a question to be settled by science.
  3. It's my understanding that Roe v. Wade (which I expect is the decision referenced, but correct me if I'm wrong) stops short of "full-term abortion," allowing legislation at or after the point of "viability." I could be wrong about that, but if so, then Rand's agreement with the Supreme Court does not distinguish between our arguments. It's not altogether clear to me that Rand was clear in her own mind on the particulars of the subject, but "birth control" is very far (and fundamentally) removed from "full-term abortion" (except in the minds of many conservatives, whom Rand may have been setting herself against, to the detriment of further nuance). Besides, we all agree about "the right of man and woman...not to be regarded as the means to any end." Yet parenthood itself carries certain obligations; and while I don't regard a mother as the means to the end of her child, should she neglect to feed her newborn or otherwise provide it care, and it dies, then she is liable for that. Saying that "she is not to be regarded as the means to any end" is not rhetorical magic; it doesn't change the facts on the ground, and that is that the mother of a newborn is responsible for that life. There ought to be and are means by which she can divest herself of that responsibility, legally and morally, but she must do so in a way that allows the newborn to live as well. If we're agreed on that, then the difference we're discussing is between one week (or day, or hour, or minute) before delivery and one after. The question seems to turn on the nature of the entity -- Rand discounts the "embryo" because it is merely some human cells, is "protoplasm," etc. But the full-term fetus is not merely a few human cells, it is not protoplasm, it is not an embryo, it is not the stuff of three months -- it is a human child. Justice requires that we treat things according to what they are. Rand's "essential" position on abortion is appropriate to the "embryo" to which she referred, to the "piece of protoplasm," to the initial three months she addressed herself to. The unborn child at three months is fundamentally different than nine months (but not much different than delivery plus a day). It is the difference in that entity which requires us to treat them differently.
  4. I agree that Rand may have spoken too loosely, at times, and especially when speaking extempore. I further agree with you that "life," as such, is not the salient issue. That said, I would argue that her meaning is fairly particular and clearly drawn when she said, as I'd quoted, "One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months." When she says that "one may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy," I take her as meaning that one may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy; when she says that "the essential issue concerns only the first three months," I take her as meaning that the essential issue concerns only the first three months. Given that, Rand and I are "essentially agreed" -- when we are discussing, as she termed it, a "piece of protoplasm," there is no question as to the right of abortion. This is enough to set Rand against many conservatives (whom Objectivists all-too-often seem to consider their ideological allies, and it ain't so), but I don't think it means that Rand would necessarily have embraced "full-term abortion," as some appear to contend, or that full-term abortion is consistent with her ideas more generally. After all, it would have been easy enough for her to say, "One may not even argue about the later stages of a pregnancy; the issue encompasses the entire duration until birth." It's rather amazing to me that there are people who appear to believe she said the former while somehow meaning the latter, its very opposite.
  5. I don't mean to argue any position at the moment, but just to note that I believe that Objectivism holds that other "orientations" were possible (and are possible going forward); and that this is the essential meaning to the difference between the "metaphysical" and the "man-made," and also the foundation of moral reasoning.
  6. As Objectivists, we sometimes enjoy having context -- as an aid for understanding. For instance, here is that quote you've pulled from Rand with a touch more of it (bold added; italics in original): "A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . " I agree fully. A piece of protoplasm has no rights -- and no life in the human sense of the term. But a "full-term fetus" has life in the human sense of the term. It has as much life as a baby, post delivery. It is no longer a mere "piece of protoplasm" or (as Rand elsewhere describes, speaking on this subject), "a few human cells," or an "embryo" -- but it is a baby, a human being. Not "potentially" so, but actually so. If equating a potential with an actual is vicious, treating an actual as some mere potential is more so, and with far less reason.
  7. No, it isn't a particularly good question. A human being is what it is: we don't define it in or out of being. The entity that is a human being one minute post-delivery is also a human being one minute beforehand; to say that it is not yet "a human life" because it fails to satisfy some ad hoc, contrived definition (in this case, because it is "connected") is a classic example of rationalism. There's no need to resort to such outlandish scenarios. Actual existence provides sufficient material. Conjoined twins are "connected"; according the definitions and reasoning you've supplied, neither twin is a "human life" or has rights? But no. It is an admitted complication for "individual rights" that neither twin is individuated, but our resolution is not that either twin has the "right" to murder its twin (because the victimized twin somehow fails to meet our definition of entity (!), or human being). Conjoined twins still have rights, because they are entities possessed of rights by their nature. In real life, a mother carries a child for some time before birth. It is a human child. The point at which that is true is not conception (where that "potential human child" is but a collection of cells, and fully the mother's to do with what she wishes), but it is true at some point thereafter. The proper way to reason about this has nothing to do with the umbilical cord, which is meaningless. Suppose a full "test tube" process, where there is no umbilical cord at all, no "connection." At conception, the potential child in the test tube would be a clump of cells, property, and wholly the mother's to dispose of. At some point thereafter, this would no longer be true. The cells in the test tube will have developed into a human being, and no longer be the mother's property (though the parental relationship is still special, and this special relationship persists for some time). At this point, the human child has rights and cannot be aborted. The difference is not according to placenta or umbilical cord or birth, but based on the nature of the entity itself.
  8. We ought to repeal all anti-discrimination laws (those which affect the "private sector," at least) -- and sure, we could have a "Bigot Town" insofar as most of the people who live in a particular community are bigots. But there could be nothing particular about that Bigot Town instituted in law; anyone living there who wished to deal in a non-discriminatory fashion could do so, including selling their property to (for instance) non-whites, or marrying non-whites, or hiring/serving non-whites, etc. Without those sorts of legal barriers to action, I don't know how long a Bigot Town could exist as such, especially given the modern economy, ease of transportation and communication and so forth. Could such a system be more effectively arranged through a complex series of contractual or licensing/leasing agreements? Perhaps. But if it could, to the extent that it could, I expect it would be an utter disaster. And the people who would participate in such a thing would not long be able to sustain themselves or a community (let alone exercise political power in any rational fashion). Such a community would also be ruthlessly ostracized by the rest of society -- and rightly so. Tribal nations within the US are a very particular historical artifact and not something to be emulated for the sake of supporting white nationalist fantasy (or black nationalist fantasy, for that matter, or any other). We aren't giving neo-nazis special permission to run casinos, either. The current creep of fascism/tribalism into even the Objectivist community is... well, probably to be expected, given everything, but still disheartening.
  9. While I agree with Van Horn that there is no "intrinsically good action" -- which obviously includes "being early" -- I find the implicit suggestion interesting that this company looked upon being early as a kindness or a favor. I think it's far more likely (as it dovetails with my own experience) that the company/driver did not care much at all about Van Horn's schedule or request, and that the driver was simply operating at his own convenience. And I am not as confident as Van Horn is, that a late delivery would have automatically triggered either a warning or an apology. I've experienced late deliveries, and early deliveries, and delayed deliveries, and missing deliveries... but I don't know that I've ever had a service (let alone a driver) volunteer an apology. It may be that in a more rational culture, businesses would interact in a certain way with their clients and customers... but in the here and now, I find that many of them are as irrational and unpleasant to deal with as the worst elements of the culture as it stands. Being in business does not appear to convey any particular virtue.
  10. So, I just today finished reading Barbara Branden's biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand, and I have to say, I don't really understand why it caused a furor in the Objectivist community (or so I have been told as I was not around to witness the reception firsthand). Maybe it's a generational thing, belonging to a very specific time and place, but could anyone with the experience I lack help me to understand the nature of the controversy? What was it about Rand's portrayal that was so questionable (for I can only conclude that this must be the issue in some respect), and why was whatever it was so significant? So far as I can tell, there is no aspect to Objectivism that is challenged -- or could be challenged -- by Rand's personality or personal history, so why should I get worked up about such details in the first place?
  11. I don't know the extent to which this is potentially subject-specific, or "compartmentalized," but you are being deeply dishonest. I cannot help you with that. Whatever respect you claim to have for reason should provoke you to reflection.
  12. Alex Jones is worthless, except as a case study of a dying culture. But the discussion in this thread inspires me to recommend two books I've read recently: How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan and Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen
  13. People will have pre-developed arguments against the boat/trespass argument, I'd imagine, but I believe you're on the right track. The way I've come to think about this is: imagine, as Boydstun suggests, that in the future, fetuses can grow/develop entirely outside of a mother's body. When we begin, with a fertilized egg, we will not have a human being -- we will not have an entity with rights. That egg will develop, the cells will divide, and it will pass through the various stages, zygote, embryo, blastocyst, fetus. At some point, we will have a human being -- an entity with rights, and presumably entitled to the protections thereof. At the beginning of the process, the fertilized egg is property, and should the mother want it terminated, we would offer neither moral nor legal objection. At some point later, a person will have developed from that fertilized egg and it will no longer be property. This can clearly be seen at, say, three years of age -- the three year old is not property, and should the mother want it terminated (and act in any capacity to achieve this), we would throw her in prison with warranted disgust. So there is a point between the absolute beginning and, say, three years, where we would allow that this is an individual human being. Our question becomes, what is that point? In earlier discussions on this same topic, I believe I've related it to the development of a rational capacity (i.e. the development of the architecture of the brain such that reason is possible to the entity). The broader point is that, how we treat the entity at any stage, in reason, it depends upon what it is, in fact; it is a question to be settled by science. My lay guess is that this point is not precisely forty weeks, but at some point earlier.
  14. Yes, and it was magnificent. Indeed. I don't know how else to square your responses in this thread. Do I really need to recap them? (Technically you should be able to read them over again for yourself, but I don't know that I can trust you to do that honestly, either.) You argued that people should not be allowed to advocate for socialism; I questioned whether that was consistent with Objectivism (or at least with Rand's views), and I provided quotes to demonstrate that Rand supported free speech, specifically including that for communists/socialists. In direct response, you claimed consistency with Rand and that you were not arguing against free speech. The implicit dishonesty involved in such a thing is just staggering. I don't know whether "Orwellian" or "Trumpian" would be more damning, but they both apply -- it is doublethink, pure and simple, on par with 1+1=3. A month on, fresh off of a vacation, and I'm still blown away by it. So I'll put it this way: perhaps it goes too far to say that you have zero respect for reason (how could I possibly know such a thing to such a degree?)... but if you do have any respect for it, that respect will drive you to understand your incredible error, and the disregard for reason and reality it conveys, make amends for it, and try to root it out from all future conversation -- because it is the kind of error that renders all such conversation worse than worthless (to say nothing of what it portends for your thinking).
  15. The country isn't "our property"; property is not owned by a collective. Defense of a "border" only makes sense insofar as it is the defense of individual rights, but there are also ways to "defend the border" which amount to the violation of individual rights. Telling immigrants seeking jobs that they may not cross the border to do so, for instance, is not any defense of right, in reason, but it is the violation of right and the initiation of the use of force. (And because I've had this conversation enough times to know the next tack, yes it is valid to screen at the border for criminals, etc.)
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