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DonAthos

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  1. But Eiuol, in the case of crossing a border, the government needs to know who you are in order to know whether there is explicit suspicion that you have committed a crime. That's why we require a full stop. All right. Let's roll with this for a moment, and I'm going to ask you to stretch your imagination just a touch. We have a tradition which includes "probable cause" and "warrants," but taking these things for granted -- or imagining that they're the only possible tradition -- is itself a bias, and I don't see that it is completely justified. So let's say that "an individual has the right to be left alone, even if they might possibly somehow potentially perhaps be a criminal." And let's say that, accordingly, our legal tradition affirms that there is no such thing as "probable cause." You have evidence, like a witness testimony, that someone has maybe, possibly committed a crime? So what? That's not cause to stop the person or arrest him, or search him or seize his things -- an individual has the right to be left alone, after all, even if they might possibly somehow potentially perhaps be a criminal. Let us say, instead -- as the learned Lord Snuffbox himself opined -- that you may only arrest a fellow when he has been tried and convicted of a crime by a jury of his peers. (This may be done in absentia, or he may participate in his trial, as is his right, but none may compel his participation.) Suspicion of a thing is not proof of it, and you can suspect a person of something all you'd like -- but mere suspicion is no cause to violate the rights of a person who may, after all, very well be innocent. We therefore only use force against those proven guilty. Now, you might protest that it would be wickedly difficult to prove very much at all if the person against which we have some initial shred of evidence cannot be interviewed against his will, cannot have his effects searched, cannot be followed, etc., etc., as, absent a guilty verdict, all of these things would be violations of his rights. (And no mere judge's opinion, a so-called "warrant," can change this fact.) And sure, it might make it a little harder -- but so what? Detectives just have to do a better job, to prove a murder potentially without a murder weapon, or DNA evidence, or etc. If you'd argue that we need to make an arrest without proving guilt first, because effective law enforcement requires that we have access to those sorts of things (and as a preventative against evidence tampering/destruction, or flight, or further crime, or etc.), I would just remind you, "someone would say that [letting such a person remain free] might be threatening because the person *could* be a criminal, but that isn't individual rights." In our world, in our reality, all of the police powers we grant in such cases -- the very basis of "probable cause" itself -- is not because we know someone has initiated the use of force, or otherwise committed a crime, but because the effective enforcement of law requires the police to gather information such that we can make that eventual determination. This is also the fundamental basis for a border stop, the specific necessity of which being precipitated by the fact of jurisdiction, and how the legal entity an individual is leaving may have evidence of his guilt (and a warrant for his arrest) while the legal entity he's entering will not.
  2. I believe that I do understand about probable cause and warrants -- but as to your argument, I agree that I might not understand it very well, because I have found the argument you've presented in this thread to be confused and scattershot. Are you basing your argument in the idea that one may not initiate the use of force, and that a stop at the border is the initiation of the use of force? If so, then I'd refer you to the argument(s) I've made that any proper administration of justice will involve some use of force against those who are potentially innocent, and sometimes later proven to be (and who are factually innocent all the while, and have not initiated the use of force). The existence of a "warrant" -- that whatever action is undertaken with a judge's permission -- does not change this fact. But if a judge's permission or evaluation that some action is reasonable given a set of circumstances makes some difference for us, in the case where some individual's "lawn is bruised," then the border question is perhaps satisfied by the fact that general stops at a border are seemingly allowed by judicial opinion in both the US and UK -- and perhaps everywhere else, as well. Besides which, I have made the case, at length, that a border stop is both "reasonable" and also necessary for the effective administration of law in a world where countries maintain separate jurisdictions, separate repositories of information, and etc. As to all of the rest of it, Eiuol's "aided" versus "unaided" (do glasses count?), "active" versus "passive," etc., etc., I believe it reflects an attempt to justify those things that strike you yourself as reasonable, like examining license plates (even in an "arbitrary" manner) against those things that strike you differently for whatever reason, like facial recognition technology. Yet I don't think these proposed distinctions represent anything real or meaningful with respect to the protection of individual rights. And while I respect the existence of preexisting law and doctrine, and legal opinion, the fact of them does not really settle the question for me of what ought to be, which does rely on our actual arguments and understanding. I'm not so interested in what Lord Snuffbox thought, per se, as I am in the reasons for his position, and comparing them against reality as I understand it.
  3. How seriously am I meant to take this? Suppose that an innocent person is suspected of some crime -- such that there is probable cause for his arrest (if you grant that such a thing might sometimes happen, even in an otherwise ideal justice system). There is search, seizure, and incarceration, though the target of all of these has not initiated the use of force. I'd say it is a lawn fairly bruised, but can we design a system without this as an unfortunate sometimes byproduct? Or there is the further question of something like subpoena power over witnesses. If we say that a stop at a border is the bruising of a lawn (and I grant that it is) in the delay of however-so-long it might take, what about the delay incurred when the police make an otherwise justified stop, and traffic snarls behind it? Having a justice system and giving it the necessary power to function as a free society requires does not come cost-free. Some lawns will inevitably be bruised in the process, even as we work to minimize whatever burden innocent citizens might suffer when empowering law enforcement to do their job. For the purpose of the creation of a just society, I think that a crucial distinction must be drawn between bearing the burdens of unjust law versus the burdens of enforcing just law. But even if we were to take "bruised lawns" as the standard, I don't see how a scan qualifies. I don't see what lawn is bruised. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg for the police to have information about my identity or whereabouts. And as for "active" versus "passive," I don't know that such a distinction does us any favors. Is entering a license plate number "active" or "passive"? How much closer does that bring us to resolving the actual issue?
  4. I would like to try to focus in a bit on my argument: Imagine a person wanted for murder in Paraguay. There is probable cause to stop such a man, in or out of Paraguay -- there is physical evidence implicating him, a witness, or whatever we imagine required for such a warrant. (It should be noted that this does not guarantee his guilt; he may yet be innocent, yet if he were, would we argue that it is the initiation of the use of force for the police in Paraguay to detain him?) However, accounting to the current division of government/jurisdiction, the knowledge of this man and the extant cause to stop him resides in the country of his crime, Paraguay. Should he go to another jurisdiction, for instance the United States, the authorities there will have no idea of the warrant for his arrest. No knowledge of him whatever. Ideally, then, should the man go from Paraguay to the United States, the government would transfer whatever relevant data to the US authorities, so then the US authorities would be aware of the existence of the crime, the evidence of his guilt, the probable cause to arrest him and thereafter (again, accounting to current divisions, and practical realities) transfer him back to Paraguay for trial. However, if no authority has knowledge of this man's travel from Paraguay to the United States, this information cannot be transferred. And this provides the rationale -- and the "reasonableness" -- of the stop at the border, to allow for this gathering and transfer of information, as a person moves from one jurisdiction to another. It is reasonable because it is required for the effective enforcement of law. I have thus far declined to argue whether stopping someone for information constitutes a "search," and have agreed to treat it as such, but I also find that there are people who also consider a facial recognition scan a "search," and so it's worth a moment of reflection... If the technology existed such that people traveling across the border were automatically scanned in a non-intrusive fashion (like passing through a gigantic, benign scanner, perhaps) such that their information could be transferred from one jurisdiction to another without the inconvenience of a stop, any questioning, or demonstration of identification (like a passport), then this would serve the core purpose just fine. Yet I suspect that this would still run afoul of what some here consider to be an "unreasonable search." But why? What is the case for preventing law enforcement from having information -- information that is necessary for the very enforcement of law? I have great sympathy for the idea that we must be careful to empower law enforcement when the law itself is immoral, even in part. And in Nazi Germany, one hopes that the law is generally powerless and incompetent -- or at least to the extent that it upholds that portion of the law which characterizes the regime. (Even in Nazi Germany, I suppose one would hope to prevent or redress quotidian murder, robbery, etc.). But if we are discussing the ideal system towards which we want to work, where laws are designed to prevent/redress the initiation of the use of force and thereby uphold individual rights, then I don't know why we want to limit the police in their access to information, the very information needed to do this work. Work which is foundational to the whole system. So long as I'm not a murderer, why should I care whether the authorities know if I'm crossing the border from Mexico to the US? That process of gathering information is precisely what would allow them to address the murderers who actually threaten my life. This reply just came up as I was finishing the above; so I may not respond to everything here, now, but in brief: It is selective and not arbitrary in any sense: it is predicated on the change in jurisdiction. That's a based-in-reality discriminator. Then it would be selective, and then I'm fine with it. That is, a systematic and selective way to decide who to stop is perfectly fine to me. I feel like I'm missing something about your question. Because they have Fring's name and face, but they don't know what car he is in. Because no car is stopped, no faces are looked at, no information is processed. They can't decide who to stop because they don't know who is out there, at all. But that's just it: the stop at the border is the very thing that allows for that data sharing and communication. Data sharing/communication itself has to be targeted, if it is to be effective. Otherwise it's just noise. We can't simply ask every police agency in the world to send all of their information to Topeka, in hopes that one of its officers will one day just happen to notice a Paraguayan murderer lounging in a coffee shop -- and without facial recognition technology, no less! It's like, imagine that you find a student wandering the halls of the school. You check his hall pass and now you know what classroom he comes from: you can talk to the teacher in that classroom and confab about his activities. Now imagine that he has no hall pass. Are you going to go classroom to classroom, asking every teacher? Now imagine that the student has a teleporter (and no hall pass): he may have originated from any classroom in any school on the globe, or maybe he's homeschooled. I suppose it means overtime, which is nice, but good luck in tracking him down. I don't know that it's right to call something a "failure" in law enforcement if we're asking the impossible. And why shouldn't we want to take into account things we're unable to note otherwise? Why isn't this a good thing -- the better for police to stop murderers? I well know your penchant for rabbit holes, Eiuol, so I'm leery of going too far down this one... but... with regards to science, don't we in fact create tools to measure/monitor systems in ways that we are unable to do with our bare, physiological perception? Isn't that the very basis of microscopes and telescopes and Geiger counters and so forth? If you're suggesting that we don't simply point a telescope into space without knowing precisely what we're looking for -- well, don't we? And with respect to criminology, we do have some broad idea of what we're looking for: we know that criminals exist, and we have information on specifics (albeit stored separately, according to jurisdiction; in a One World Government scenario, this discussion changes... but maybe, then, we wouldn't sensibly have "borders," either). Still, we need to look at people, "randomly," to be able to make use of that information. Police officers on the street look at people as they pass them by, "arbitrarily," I suppose, but it has to start somewhere. If there's a bloodied arm hanging out the back of a car, there's no need to suppose a border... So that's your plan to catch Fring...? Wait until we find him literally red-handed? And with the Parguayan murderer, I suppose we wait until he strikes again in Topeka...
  5. Er... no? I mean, I'm aware of the literal difference involved -- but I'm not convinced there's a difference in kind, vis a vis "privacy." I don't know why "unaided ability" should matter at all or be considered virtuous, or make the difference between what you contend to be a violation of right. And besides, the totality of checking a license plate also requires "aided ability" -- a computer, for instance, and telecommunications, and... a car.
  6. I don't know where I've advocated "random searches on some individuals." I've advocated stops at the border (not random, nor even selective, but all those who cross) for the purpose of gathering information -- though it's true that 2046 describes that as a "search," and I've not argued the point. If it is a "search," it is apparently not considered "unreasonable" by current jurisprudence. The basis of the reasonableness of the stop/"search" is what I'm trying to get at with the fact of changing jurisdiction. Sure. So suppose the DEA has a list of names, or even faces, of high-powered Mexican cartel figures. What then? If Gus Fring isn't stopped at the border at any point, if he simply drives on through, what exactly is the DEA supposed to do with that information? Except that American law enforcement won't have access to all of the data that Mexico does, let alone every other country. So far as I know, there's no worldwide criminal database: all of the information is compartmentalized, primarily by national jurisdiction. So in a way, it is very much like starting from scratch; if there's a wanted murderer in, say, Paraguay, who manages to cross through to the US/Mexico border (because he's never stopped, no one checks identification, etc.), and he makes it to the United States, then suppose he is later stopped for some traffic violation in Topeka. He gives his name as "Joe Smith." He has no other identification, and his fingerprints are not in the US record. Are Topeka PD going to track down his information all the way to Paraguay? How? As far as I can tell, getting across the US border is very much a clean slate for our Paraguayan murderer, because he has managed to cross from a jurisdiction where he was wanted (where the evidence of his crime exists, and with it probable cause for further search/seizure/incarceration) to a jurisdiction where he isn't at all known. So 2046 at least agreed that reading a license plate number and entering that into a database would not count as a "search" (or if it does, not an "unreasonable" one). But would you not go so far? Or if you think that's okay, what is the difference between entering a license plate number and scanning a face, to compare either against electronic records? What about using eyes to "scan" someone's face and see if they match a database (i.e. memory)? How do we begin the trail towards "probable cause" if every step along that path is itself an "unreasonable search" needing prior justification? Zeno makes for a poor police officer, and the gathering of information must start somewhere, via some generalized and warrant-free method.
  7. Yes. Individual rights apply to every individual on the planet (and beyond). A nation does not have particular individual rights, as such, though some nations do a better job of respecting rights than others. There is a difference between pro-actively "protecting" rights (in the sense of the administration of justice) and refraining from violation. The US Government, for instance, has no particular mandate to go into other countries to solve their crimes and redress wrongs, but the US Government has no allowance to violate the rights of other countries' citizens just because they aren't US citizens. "Being a foreigner" is a strawman, and nothing I've said or intimated in any of my posts. If you're a US citizen, cross the border to Mexico or Canada and then return. See whether you're stopped, and your information processed, or whether you qualify for an exception because you aren't a foreigner. This is because the legal agents with jurisdiction in the US do not have general access to the information possessed by the legal agents in the jurisdiction of (for instance) Mexico. So in fact there may be a specific criminal act, witness testimony and evidence that they have committed a crime, but the change in jurisdictions requires a process by which that sort of information can be transferred/accessed.
  8. For completeness' sake, I'm going to go ahead and review Binswanger's essay and respond to it here: Granted that "freedom of entry and residency" are absolutely different from citizenship/voting rights or other means of participation in governance. Agreed, though to the point of contention I would say that a procedure by which immigration takes place does not amount to a barrier against it. Absolutely, and also agreed to Binswanger's arguments re: seeking employment, buying homes, etc., and against immigration quotas. Indeed. And it is depressing to note that I've witnessed many Objectivists on this very site make a version of this argument. Right. And speaking to the point of departure I'm anticipating, the fact of that jurisdiction requires a certain procedure at the border... Precisely. Criminals do not carry signs announcing the fact, but the government can sometimes ferret it out by contacting those other governmental bodies that have the requisite information: for instance, the Mexican government may be aware that a certain car is stolen. Whether such a stop/gathering of information is "violating the rights of the innocent immigrant" in those cases where no car is stolen is precisely the question at issue. Here's the rub. There may well be evidence that a given man is a criminal, or even actively on the run from law enforcement, but accounting to a transfer of jurisdiction, that evidence may not be immediately available (as it would otherwise be when a man goes from New York to Connecticut). When Binswanger writes that a man does not have to satisfy "the government," it elides the fact that there are two distinct governments involved. A criminal ought not have a "home base" by crossing the border, where he is thereafter safe, and must commit fresh crimes before he can bear investigating. He remains responsible for the crimes he has already committed. But law enforcement in this new jurisdiction, if it is to hold him responsible for the crimes he has committed in the other, must be able to access that sort of information. And it cannot do so instantaneously with respect to everyone who might cross the border, nor would it even know to do so if it does not know who crosses the border at all. Binswanger argues against an "indiscriminate subjection of everyone to a screening process," but a border screening process is not indiscriminate: it is alone for those who cross the border, and accounting to the fact that law enforcement agencies in different jurisdictions have different information. So when someone enters the new jurisdiction, there must be an opportunity to gain access to that information, so that criminals can be stopped and law-biding citizens can pass without further delay. Without Binswanger available to defend himself, I don't want to expand on this too much, but I do wonder why these are exceptions, "of course." War and an epidemic presumably constitute exceptions in his mind because they are dangerous, creating "emergency conditions" (which is often a kind of magic totem for some Objectivists); yet a criminal, too, can be dangerous and threaten life, liberty and property. Indeed, that's what it is to be criminal. But let it pass... Once we have eliminated those aspects of immigration policy that seek to prevent access on the basis of collectivist notions like racism, economic protectionism, etc., I do not believe that rights-respecting people would experience the remaining inspection required at the border as harassment, but rather as the protection of their own rights. This is often true, and has been true for a long time, here and elsewhere, yet it might still be possible to want people to be able to immigrate freely... and bar criminals, terrorists and plague-carriers, for the very same fundamental reason: the protection of individual rights.
  9. Gathering information is necessary to enforce the law. You can't protect individual rights without the enforcement of law. So your arguments do not serve to protect individual rights. Allowing criminals to flee from Mexican authorities to the US, without so much as a stop at the border, will not better protect anyone's rights (though I imagine that it would create an incentive for Mexican car thieves to come north). If you want to call it a "search" to check identification at the border, and compare against the information Mexican authorities have, and etc., that's fine. If the US Supreme Court sees it as such, that's fine, too, though I expect that they do not consider it "unreasonable." It is not unreasonable, and is reasonable (far beyond my "considering" it to be so) because it is again required for the purpose of enforcing the law. Whatever procedures are necessary to enforce those laws required to protect individual rights are both reasonable and proper. (Which is the morality that underlies all of our methods of information gathering, including warrants, which may also apply to people who have not themselves initiated the use of force; but a stop at the border to check identification and so forth does not require a judge's personal consent, and you've demonstrated no reasonable argument that it should.)
  10. I'm uncertain that what I'm suggesting qualifies as a "search," let alone an unreasonable one. The gathering and processing of some amount of information I think is generally necessary for law to be enforced, as such. A police officer enters a license plate number into a computer system, for instance, to determine whether a particular car has been reported stolen and must be stopped -- is this a "search" or a "seizure" of anything? The gathering and processing of information at a border is further a special case because, again, we're dealing with the reality of someone moving from one jurisdiction to another. That's a fact which has implication, again, if our goal is to enforce law generally. If we imagine a criminal crossing the border -- a car thief, perhaps, driving a stolen car -- well, the border agent ideally would detain and incarcerate that criminal (or return him to the relevant authorities). But without any information about the person in question (let us say the license plate number on the car the prospective immigrant is driving), it is impossible to even get to the stage at which we could say whether there's cause to do anything at all. And so, to continue the example, it would be necessary for the border agent to get the requisite license plate data from the emigrant's country of origin, to see whether that car has been reported stolen, to determine whether any stop must be made. But even that minimal bit of processing takes time, may require a queue, a stop, and etc. If you've ever actually traveled from California to Nevada -- and back again -- you might know that there are indeed border controls at the state border, which are irregularly staffed on the California side, complete with a stop and questions upon entry, the better to enforce California state law. Individual rights are not threatened by the enforcement of law, as such; in fact, they rely upon it. A stop, in order to gain/process information upon a change in jurisdiction (which is non-existent, as far as I'm aware, going from the Bronx to Brooklyn; minimal going from California to Nevada; total going from Mexico to the United States) seems to me to not be unreasonable in any sense.
  11. (Caveat: I haven't read Binswanger's essay.) I think there's reason for border patrol/checkpoint/a controlled point-of-entry, and that this does not interfere with what we might call the "right of travel," but which is really just a specific application of the normal liberty/property/right-to-life stuff. Such a checkpoint represents a broad transfer of legal jurisdiction, and I believe that the proper administration of law and justice requires an opportunity for ensuring that -- you know -- someone leaving Mexico to come to the United States isn't fleeing Mexican justice, etc., because all else being equal, American authorities aren't going to be on the lookout for people who've committed crimes in Mexico (and will not have the requisite information on them). Thus, such a border checkpoint provides at least an opportunity for that information to be transferred/collected by the appropriate bodies, when relevant. It's mostly a procedural matter, then, but procedure matters. The comparison that I've used before is this: part and parcel to our rights, vis a vis the administration of justice, we have the right to a "fair and speedy trial." Fair enough. We can't simply throw people into prison indefinitely without establishing that they've committed whatever crime, and without having received an appropriate sentence; the lack of a fair and speedy trial, then, is an abrogation of liberty/individual right. But that fair and speedy trial must actually be executed, in reality, and we need real world procedures to achieve this. Someone arrested, however he might have the right to a "speedy" trial, cannot expect an immediate trial. Some actual judge must be found to hear the case, evidence must be collected, etc., etc., and this may amount to some delay, in reason, even if every actor is doing his level best to provide that speedy trial. Even an innocent man may have to spend some time in prison to accommodate the provenance of justice on his behalf. And so it is with crossing a border (whether international or, say, between states): an individual has every right to do this, yet there may be some kind of delay at a crossing reflecting the real procedural change between one legal jurisdiction and another -- to ensure, again, that the person involved isn't a wanted criminal, or a known terrorist, or etc. Edited to add: It may go without saying, but just in case... The appropriate procedural delay I discuss above has nearly nothing to do with modern or historical immigration policy, which is usually a mish-mash of xenophobia, economic protectionism and various other assorted collectivist ideas. If the border checkpoint were delimited to what I've briefly outlined, it would look far, far different than our own border today. That said, I think it's important to at least acknowledge that there's a role for such a checkpoint, if only because bad faith debaters seem to enjoy suggesting apocalyptic scenarios where actual invading armies stroll across an unguarded border, because we don't believe we have the right to stop them. But no, we're within our rights to stop invading armies and wanted criminals, just as we could stop them on our own, domestic streets. A rational border policy then is really just an inspection service meant to identify and respond to such threats as they enter our jurisdiction.
  12. This is games playing and demonstrative of the "rationalism" I'd noted earlier.
  13. "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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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?
  22. 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.
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. 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).
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