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Ishinho

"Rights" of disabled individuals

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No one said a word in objection so I am assuming this must be the general concensus here.
A dangerous assumption, on any forum.

Anyway, would the following be an accurate summary of your viewpoint: it is moral to put a gun to someone else's head and force them to pay for the upkeep of others. This is your concept of a moral political system? Is that a correct representation of your viewpoint?

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The idea that human beings who don't or can't contribute to society at all ( or any more, as the case may be) are worthy of being left to die.
You're making a number of invalid assumptions here. For example, you don't seem to realize that the concept of "contributing to society" is an invalid basis for evaluating a person. Whether some person lives or dies is their own responsibility, and no man should be brutally sacrificed to provide sustenance for another person. Your only obligation is to respect the rights of others.
A serious weakness in the Objectivist point of view is that there seems to be a general assumption here that private charities or individuals willing to help, purely for personal satisfaction, are waiting in droves out there to pitch in to help.
I don't think they are waiting in droves, I think they are already voluntarily helping people in need. And really, there are very few people who are truly in need.
I just don't see how people can say taxing individuals is immoral, and then turn away from the cold hard truth that without government intervention, needless death and suffering is inevitable.
I take it you are advocating the use of brutality against people who are unwilling to voluntarily contribute to charities? I suggest that you read some basic works of Objectvism, to understand Objectivist ethics. That would help you to understand why taxation and force in general are immoral.

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This thread as a whole was quite shocking to read, but I think this particular post stood out. The idea that human beings who don't or can't contribute to society at all ( or any more, as the case may be) are worthy of being left to die. The logical extension of this is that that certian elderly people or people with crippling diseases such as alzheimers would also fall in to this category. No one said a word in objection so I am assuming this must be the general concensus here.

You seem to be forgetting that elderly people can support themselves through the use of a retirement fund.

A serious weakness in the Objectivist point of view is that there seems to be a general assumption here that private charities or individuals willing to help, purely for personal satisfaction, are waiting in droves out there to pitch in to help. I can say unequivally that this is not the case. In so many cases the lack of assistance means someone must die or suffer. I just don't see how people can say taxing individuals is immoral, and then turn away from the cold hard truth that without government intervention, needless death and suffering is inevitable. How immoral is that?

Actually, no one ever said "droves." It only takes a small number of willing people and organisations to help the vast majority of those that genuinely need help. When you remove the leeches the number of people needing help is very small, so it takes little money to support them and thus few people donating that money.

Taxing is immoral because it takes money off those that earn the money. It is immoral because no one, not even government, has the right to force people to pay for the living of others. Doing that makes those that earn their money suffer so the poor and disabled can survive. That is simply evil. Also, as K-Mac so succulently points out, without taxes people would be willing to donate more. BUt as it stands they cannot afford to because of taxes.

For better understanding of the evil of taxes read up on Objectivist ethics like DavidOdden said.

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You seem to be forgetting that elderly people can support themselves through the use of a retirement fund.
Yes, old age and the ailments that are typical of old age are things a person plans for, and saves for. If the average person is unable to save for his average old age, I'm not quite sure why socialists think forcing the average younger neighbor to pay the bill will solve the problem. It doesn't add up.

As for the worse-than-average cases, that's what insurance is for (as discussed above).

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How immoral is that?

It's not immoral at all. You are assuming that somebody else's need gives them a right to my (or anybody else's) money. That is not true. If this concerns you, you give your money to them. But if you want the government to strong arm money out of me to help other people who need it, well that's immoral and I'll fight it when I can.

I can say unequivally that this is not the case.

I can say unequivocally that your word needs the support of an argument established by facts before I and most other people on here will accept what you say.

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So that Rourke further understands my position, I understand he claimed that I "acquiesced" to the idea that charities would necessarily compensate for the lack of government assistance. For the record, while I tend to think (though I don't know) that that would be the case, you should realize that it is immaterial to my position. Whether I think that or not has nothing to do with the principle I support. I'm not concerned with whether or not that gap would be filled. I'm concerned with the principle that the government has no right to steal from me (or anyone) for the sake of someone else's need. So whether or not that gap would get filled still doesn't justify government theft from people for the sake of other people's needs.

If you can learn to think in terms of principles and justice, you may understand this.

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If you're asking whether they have ordinary rights, the answer is basically "yes"

Why do mentally handicapped people have rights? Why does being human justify the existence for rights for them even if they don't have the mental capacity of what gives rise to rights in humans?

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Why do mentally handicapped people have rights?
Who or what has rights?
Why does being human justify the existence for rights for them even if they don't have the mental capacity of what gives rise to rights in humans?
The burden of proof is on you to establish that they do not have that capacity.

I suggest that if you want to decide the question of rights on a case-by-case basis, you propose (and justify) a criterion for "having rights", and define a simple legal test so that any man can know in advance of the trial whether they have committed a crime by killing the being. Remember that "rights" is a moral concept, and concepts are man's unique way of grasping reality, which means that it is open-ended (not a specific list) therefore general, and economical (something that actually facilitates cognition). So I want simple and general answers to my questions.

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However, there are those that are incapable of choosing their clothes, let alone where to live. What is the Objectivist viewpoint about this?

Thanks.

One need only look within the system to find that there are institutions which are privately run whose purpose is to care for such individuals.

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One need only look within the system to find that there are institutions which are privately run whose purpose is to care for such individuals.

Indeed. My cousin lives in one.

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If I understand you correctly, if no one volunteers assistance, severely disabled individuals are left to fend for themselves under the Objectivist viewpoint? This would be my understanding of Rand's description of a "true" capitalist system.

I had an issue with this and objectivism for a short period of time. But as is usually the case, I fell back on the advice of Rand herself:

"Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." - Ayn Rand

In actuality, I hadn't really looked to closely at the premises. Or at least hadn't broken them down enough. So I strove to do so.

What I came up with among a number of things included some of the following:

1) life has value

2) no one wants to suffer

3) limitations both persistent and transient can exist to limit ability

4) limits on ability can prevent someone from fulfilling even their most basic needs

5) not fulfilling one's basic needs leads to suffering

My first epiphany in that re-examination was #1. Life has value. Even the disabled or less capable can provide value to others through living their lives. People recognize value in others, which led me to another conclusion:

6) any decent person does not wish another to suffer

Why? Because any decent person at least perceives that life has value and can therefore identify with the value in the lives of others. And most people have experienced some form of suffering, and can therefore also identify with the consequences of suffering in others. This leads to another conclusion.

7) helping others in whom we identify their value, provides decent people with value in return

As others eluded to, people with family members will help the disabled in their families out of love. People will help their friends out of friendship. People will help strangers out of a sense of compassion and the aforementioned identification with their suffering. There is value to be found in helping others, and many people find it all the time. This made me realize, I had underestimated the compassion of people.

But of course, there was still one big sticky in my head. I tend to draw such concepts out to extremes to test them under the best and worst case scenarios. I imagined a condition where even the able were faced with limitations that made it difficult to help others. Say a global disaster or a full blown nuclear exchange - something way out there! There may exist some very extreme scenario where even the compassion people have in finding value in being charitable will be limited by their ability to meet even their own basic needs. What of the disadvantaged then?

Do you see what I saw? Based on my prior conclusions that people find value in charity, and that I underestimated the compassion (ability to find such value) people have, do you see what suddenly hit me?

Try to imagine the scenario I described - a situation sooooo bad that even the most capable cannot provide for themselves. Cannot do so soooo badly that they are unable to even consider compassion in helping others. Can you even imagine a scenario where no one - absolutely no one is able to express fundamental human traits like compassion? If we ever really really reached a situation that terribly and incredibly bad, who "should" survive it? The most capable or the least?

Edited by treii28

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*** Mod's note: Moved these posts here, from another thread. - sN ***

Based on this, it would appear that the severly retarded do not have any right to life.

The severely retarded fail the test for being human: they are not rational beings.

Therefore, they do NOT have the (political) right to life, in the sense meant by the Founders, i.e., the right to unfettered if rational pursuit of happiness, because they aren't capable of exercising it. The right to life is a consequence of the nature of Man; but a severely retarded person is NOT a Man by definition, any more than a brain-dead patient on life support is.

Now, these creature do have feelings, they do scream in pain if poked with a hot stick, so, like dogs, they deserve compassion and sympathy at least; and that is enough, because that will cause some to act in their aid. Let good will do the work, legislation is not called for.

I am so so so fed up and sick with people trotting out the sick and wounded in a feeble attempt to convince me that I should pay taxes so they can sleep at night knowing that the severely retarded or what have you are cared for.

I don't believe in euthanasia, but neither is pouring resources down a rat hole wise. Let people who care, care. Leave off stealing from the rest of us to pay for the ideological axes of few bleeding hearts.

Frankly, if I found out that a fetus in the womb of a woman I inseminated was genetically broken, I'd argue for an abortion post haste.

- ico

Edited by softwareNerd
Merge from another thread

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Based on this, it would appear that the severly retarded do not have any right to life.

From "Ayn Rand Answers" page 4:

Do severely retarded individuals have rights?

Not actual rights - not the same rights possessed by normal individuals. In effect, they have the right to be protected as perennial children.

...

But you could not extend the actual exercise of individual rights to a retarded person, because he's unable to function rationally. Since all rights rest on human nature, a being that cannot exercise his rights cannot have full human rights."

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Based on this, it would appear that the severly retarded do not have any right to life.

Just don't confuse that as saying that anyone else has a right to kill them though.

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The severely retarded fail the test for being human: they are not rational beings.

This is just despicably, disgustingly, wrong. There is no test for being human that can designate some humans as not really human. The only way to justify removing the legal status of personhood is by being dead or clinically dead by some technical definition.

Rights are rights to actions. The severely retarded can hardly act at all so their rights are largely moot. They come into life under the guardianship of a parent like all other persons, but stay under guardianship until the end of their lives. They have a right to life protected under the law the same as any other person is protected, meaning that if someone murders them that is a crime.

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This is just despicably, disgustingly, wrong.

I was using the word "test" in a literary sense, as in, "a severely retarded individual cannot do what is natural, cognitively, to a healthy human adult".

And your reasoning applies equally to people in comas, (they can't "pass the test" of being human in that state, either) so of course any form of euthanasia other than assisted suicide is verboten -- and assisted suicide is hard to prove voluntary after the fact, so it's probably not wise to allow that, either, as a rule.

Sorry to hit the nerve, Grimes.

- ico

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A completely incapacitated patient with no prospect for recovery is just a special case of when it can be permissible to find the person already technically dead. Persons suffering from various forms of developmental retardation are not completely incapacitated.

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Just don't confuse that as saying that anyone else has a right to kill them though.

Well, I don't see that killing the severly retarded is any different than killing a dog or a cow, if, as is claimed here, they aren't really human. After all, no one has a specified "right" to kill animals, but that doesn't mean that they aren't killed.

I can see a whole lot of persons, and not just the retarded, being declared "non-man" according to the definitions given here. It's not a big step to decide that people that don't act as rationally as you think they ought to aren't "man qua man" either. That's what the Nazis were good at -- determining who did and didn't meet their standard of a human being with rights.

I hope you can provide a better basis for the right to life than has been given so far here, because they are horribly open to abuse and manipulation.

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Well, I don't see that killing the severly retarded is any different than killing a dog or a cow, if, as is claimed here, they aren't really human.

That is not an Objectivist position, and the people who have made this claim here are simply wrong.

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Well, I don't see that killing the severly retarded is any different than killing a dog or a cow, if, as is claimed here, they aren't really human.

Their species does not change just because they have mental retardation.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Well, I don't see that killing the severly retarded is any different than killing a dog or a cow, if, as is claimed here, they aren't really human. After all, no one has a specified "right" to kill animals, but that doesn't mean that they aren't killed.

I can see a whole lot of persons, and not just the retarded, being declared "non-man" according to the definitions given here. It's not a big step to decide that people that don't act as rationally as you think they ought to aren't "man qua man" either. That's what the Nazis were good at -- determining who did and didn't meet their standard of a human being with rights.

I hope you can provide a better basis for the right to life than has been given so far here, because they are horribly open to abuse and manipulation.

I think you skipped over the answer Alfred Centauri helpfully provided. As this is an Objectivist forum Objectivist answers are the appropriate answers:

"From "Ayn Rand Answers" page 4:

Do severely retarded individuals have rights?

Not actual rights - not the same rights possessed by normal individuals. In effect, they have the right to be protected as perennial children."

As you can see Ayn Rand was very clear that the severely mentally retarded are in fact human. To think otherwise is absurd. On the other hand she did see some difference between the rights of the fully functioning and the non or minimally functioning.

On a similar note I saw a few months back an online article claiming that Ayn Rand would have advocated for the "forced sterilization" of the mentally ill. Also absurd, she simply advocated that if someone chooses to bring such children into the world it is not the repsonsibility of others to provide for them.

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