Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Kevin

Regulars
  • Posts

    72
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Previous Fields

  • Country
    United States
  • State (US/Canadian)
    California
  • Real Name
    Kevin
  • Copyright
    Copyrighted

Kevin's Achievements

Junior Member

Junior Member (3/7)

0

Reputation

  1. From what I've read of Ron Paul, it sounded as though he was against abortion at all times, in all cases. Yet here he specifically talks about a viable fetus with brain waves and such. Does anyone have any recent info on his exact position regarding abortion? His position on abortion is my main stepping block in considering him the most palatable candidate so far (other than the fact that he'll never win the election, but why get caught up in details...), but I'd be much less concerned if he was against particularly late abortions, though I'd want to know the reasons why.
  2. Kevin

    Abortion

    This goes back to something I discussed with Jennifer- I don't think it should be legally permissible to have a child, and then let it die of starvation. The fact that an infant cannot survive on its own, and that the parents knowingly put it in that situation, gives them an obligation to provide certain things (similar to what I just posted to Meta). This obligation exists despite the fact that the infant is fully functional and independent. The same could apply to a developed fetus, and in neither case are the mother's rights being "supersceded".
  3. Kevin

    Abortion

    I would agree with you if it weren't for the fact that the mother is responsible for the fetus being there in the first place (again, excluding rape). As I see it, this argument is invalid if two things are true. One, that the fetus has a rational capability akin to that of an infant, and two, if the pregancy was nor forced upon the mother. If one of them is not true, then by all means, abort away, but if they are...freedoom over one's body is not an absolute. If I push someone over a cliff without provocation, catching them before they fall to the bottom, my freedom of action doesn't extend to opening my hand and letting them fall. I am responsible for putting them in this dangerous situation, and I am therefore obligated to get them out of it, even if it requires effort on my part. Again, this obligation requires both my responsibility for the danger and that a rational being it involved, but that is not an impossibility with a fetus, and so to simply say that a mother can do whatever she wants with her own body is not quite correct, any more than it is to say that I'm free to move my arm in any way I please, even if it causes someone to get punched in the face.
  4. Kevin

    Abortion

    I understand this position, given your conception of a being, but I still feel that leaves us in an kward place. If the fetus may at some point have an independent rational faculty, while still being inside the womb- does that make it a second brain of the mother? A sort of double consciousness? I would say that your logical presentation makes more sense in the inverse- that given an independent rational faculty, it's nonsense to talk of it belonging to a non-being. Incidentally, I think the slipery slope argument is precisely why it's important to have clarity of principles when dealing with the issue, and I think it's already being used on both sides of the argument- one side slides all the way to no abortion after conception, and the other slides to abortion up to the moment of chord-severing, but neither one has a solid moral backing.
  5. Kevin

    Abortion

    But you didn't answer my last question. If the answer is that is does achieve rational capability at some point (Softwarenerd, when I say that, I mean a capability just like that of an infant's), then we have two separate conscioussness in one being. Does that really seem sensical to you? How can a fetus with a rational capacity not actually exist as a being? Is its consciousness somehow part of the mother's? It seems like you're putting this physical connection on a higher pedastal than the mental devlopment, which just doesn't seem right. And I don't buy that a fetus with some rational capacity has no rights simply because it's inside its mother, completely dependent on her. Why would it not have the same rights as any other rational capable being? What difference does dependence make? Incidentally, yes softwarenerd, from a practical standpoint there are extremely few abortions that I would even conceivably object to. Like I said before, it's more a matter of nailing down the principle of the issue.
  6. Kevin

    Abortion

    David, I'm not sure I understand your definitions. When you say an "actual being", are you implying that actuality requires separation? So, a fetus is not an actual being because it's not totally separate from its mother? If so, why? Or maybe more importantly, why is that important? My understanding was that rights pertained to rational beings. And while it's curious to me to think that a being could be rational and yet not actual, that seems to be the case given your definitions. But maybe I'm jumping ahead of myself. Would you say that there is no point in a fetus' devlopment that it can be said to have a rational faculty as an infant does? Is it the moment that the chord is cut that rationality has begun?
  7. Kevin

    On Abortion

    An infant has the right to life, correct? That at least I'm fairly sure squares with Objecitivist thought, and while I had understood that it also placed certain legal and moral obligations on parents for some period of time- such as, it should be illegal for a parent to not feed of clothe their one-year old- that may not be an actually established Objectiviist position, though it seems logical to me. However, they certainly have the right to life (which, as I understand, is not a right a thing, as you mentioned, but a right to action. Correct so far?) So, killing an infant woulf certainly be immoral and should certainly be illegal. I have no problem with a government holding a gun to her mother's head and telling her she can't kill her child. My question, which I asked you once before and I don't think you covered in your post, is what is that basis for that killing being illegal? I understand it to be the toddler's rational capability (and as David pointed out earlier, capability doesn't mean full function- toddlers are certainly not fully rational beings, but they have a rational cpaability). Now, the only reason why aborting a fetus would be morally and legally acceptable is if it didn't have that moral capability like an infant does. And, as you said, for much of the pregnancy it clearly doesn't (though I'd be curious to know where you got 5 1/2 months from. I've had a hard time finding much specific chronology for that sort of thing), but it doesn't seem reasonable at all to assume that the dividing line for rational capability is the actual physical birth. So, if the line can be drawn at some point before birth, then yes, I would say the government has the right to hold a gun to the mother's head and say "you cannot kill this baby". If that means expensive and painful medical operations, then too bad for the parents. They should have aborted earlier or decided to keep the baby to term. But the fact that it's expensive or difficult is irrelevant if in fact you're dealing with a rational being. And, again, it's true that few pregnant women seriously consider abortion past the time when rational development is likely to occur. Nevertheless, it has happened, and could happen. And even if it hadn't happened, it's still imporant to base your positions on solid principles. It's not a matter of a straw man- if an Objectivist claims that a fetus is not a person until it is physically separate from the mother, and I claim that that a fetus is a person once it achieves rational capability, regardless of its in-vetro state, our positions on a case to case basis would probably be pretty similar. But it doesn't change the fact that the former stance is illogically founded, and could lead to an improper practical choice. So, I think that there is value in establishing the essential points of the issue, even if the end result is not greatly changed.
  8. Kevin

    On Abortion

    From what I've read, no, I don't see any reason to forbid 1st trimester abortions. I've never seen anything to indicate any evidence for cognition at that stage. And it's true that the vast majority of abortions don't even come close to crossing any reasonable line of cognitive/non-cognitive status (I don't know how partial-birth abortions fit into that). I didn't bring up the question of moral basis because I felt that many abortions aren't actually justified- it's more because the reasons that I've read to justify abortion often appeared based on non-essentials, and while they may ultimately lead to the same ocnclusion most of the time, I'd prefer to establish a more rationally justifiable guideline. Of course, a clear guideline is only half the battle in this case- it may be some time before we can pinpoint with any real accuracy the time at which significant brain development occurs, but there is at least some knowledge, and no doubt more to come in the future.
  9. Kevin

    Wagner's music

    Is it really true, though, to say that we don't know the cause for affinity or distaste regarding certain music? People certainly have lots to say about why they enjoy certain works more than others- it's obviously not a random thing. And while I guess it's true that ultimately there's no objective reason to prefer one work to another, it's kind of like saying there's no reason to prefer one steak to another. Technically, no, there's no objective justification for preferring an excellent filet mignon over a practically charred piece of london broil, but the general consensus is so widespread and clear that I don't feel unjustified in saying that the filet is "better", if not in a universal sense. In the same way, there's no way to prove someone wrong when they say "I like songs with no melody, organization, refinement, contrast, etc.", but that hasn't kept a whole culture of musical analysis and critique from developing, and with good cause.
  10. Kevin

    On Abortion

    I appreciate your guiding us to other references, and I understand that no one wants to rehash old material over and over again, but the threads you provided links to are both really long and generally really multi-faceted. I'm sure there's lots of interesting stuff, but I'm not sure that wading through 50 pages of it is the best way to answer relatively specific questions. I did look through 10 pages or so, and I didn't find much of an answer to my primary concern, that being: what determines a fetus' rights, or lack thereof? Or, more specifically, why would the determing factor be anything other than its rational faculty, or lack thereof? A two-week old baby doesn't have rights because it's physically independent of its mother, any more than a twenty-year old does- it has them because it has a rational faculty of some sort. though it's obviously not fully developed. Or is this not the case? Ar ethe rights of an infant based on something other than rational faculty?
  11. Kevin

    Wagner's music

    It's pretty easy to find objectionable philosphical material in Wagner's later operas. He explains it pretty neatly himself in a letter to August Rockel, saying that "if there is any expression of an underlying poetic motive in these works [Flying Dutchman, Tannheuser, Lohengrin], it is to be sought in the sublime tragedy of renunciation, the negation of the will, which here appears necessary, and alone capable of working redemption". He goes on to explain that this idea was working subconsciously inside him, even as he penned numerous writings expressing the contrary. But, after he discovered SHoppenhaur, the subconscious became conscious, and he had an external validation of what had already been supposedly dwelling within him. Certainly that theme is extremely prevalent in Tristan and Parsifal- Parsifal's central issue is redemption through compassion, not reason, with the "pure fool" as its agent. I don't know the operas before Sigfried well enough to propse any similar underlying ideas, but his prose writings from that period are definitely quite different.
  12. Kevin

    On Abortion

    A mother does have an obligation to provide for her infant child, yes? That is because, I assume, the infant has certain rights, given its nature, and because it is in danger as a result of the mother's actions, the mother is therefore obligated to provide certain things until it is able to fend for itself. So what about the nature of the infant gives it those rights? Is it the fact that it is no longer attached by an umbilical chord? I don't see how its being a rational entity can be of no importance whatsoever in determing its rights. I assume you wouldn't call a mother a slave to her infant because of her obligation, but you feel the term is justified when dealing with a fetus. It make ssense to me to say that since an infant's rights are derived from its rational faculty, however limited that may be, then a fetus' rights should be determined the in the same way, and not based on the existence of an actual physical connection between mother and offspring. This definitely does not mean that a fetus at any stage should have the same rights as an infant, or any rights at all for that matter, but it does suggest that if a similar rational faculty can be demonstrated at some point of development, then the rights should be similar as well.
  13. Kevin

    On Abortion

    Really? What we're talking about here is the potential execution of a human, and if we accept that cognitive ability is the determining factor, then I think an "innocent until proven guilty" attitude is more reasonable. That is, unless we have evidence to suggest that a fetus doesn't have any such abilities at a given point of development, then we probably shouldn't be killing it. So, the question becomes, what are you willing to consider as human cognitive ability? I think their disorientation or lack of initiative (as in the suckling example) are pretty irrelevant- but I wonder if it's possible to examine brain waves of human and non-human organisms and to pinpoint certain kinds of brain activity that are specifiically "human". Either way, this quesiton of onus of proof seems a bit off- if the line you're drawing is arbitrary (and I don't see why relying to an infant's feeding abilities as a determining factor is any more sensical than it's size or its eye color), then why would the onus of proof be on one line and not another? We know that the embryo will at some point develop abilities solely human, whether that's at age 1 or week 30 after conception, and assuming we don't know when exactly it happens, it seems much more sensical to demand that someone prove that those abilities don't exist than the opposite. Is it different somehow than demanding conclusive proof to condemn a man to death, rather than relying on a lack of proved innocence?
  14. Kevin

    On Abortion

    But why separation rather than cognition? What's the basis for attaching any significance at all to attachment? Or more clearly, what's the reason to consider any factor beyond brain activity? I would disagree with the assumption that a fetus cannot formulate desires before the umbilical chord is cut. But again, my scientific backing on this is unsure at best- does anyone know of real evidence that no "human" perception and integration takes place before the umbilical chord is cut? That seems like a pretty big assumption to me, and if in fact it's not true, then both the questions of separation and the ability to communicate desires are nonissues.
  15. Kevin

    On Abortion

    What exactly is the definition of "human" in this context? Is it purely a matter of physical connection to the mother? Does cognitive ability come into play somehow? Peikoff mentions the idea of a fetus being a parasite that lives off its host, but I'm not sure that's really relevant as far as its rights are concerned. It's not as though the fetus came to that point of its own free will- it was the direct action of the mother (except I suppose in the case of rape, though even that might not fundamentally change the issue) that brought the fetus into being in its dependent state. In fact, isn't that oneof the reasons why parents are obligated to provide for their children- because children start out unable to fend for themselves, and it is the parents who brought them to that point? It seems like in both cases a dependency is present, and I don't see why a physical attatchment would be the fundamental moral libe. It seems to me that in order to be considered "human", and therefore possessing of the right to life, a festus need only demonstarte some higher order brain function associated soley with humans- that is, some aspect of rational thought. I admit, I don't know how well scientists can determine that kind of activity, if at all, but philosophically speaking, that seems like the only relevant consideration in determining whether or not this "clump of cells" can be said to have rights.
×
×
  • Create New...