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Everything posted by ragingpanda

  1. You all have given me a lot to think about. I will be responding to your replies shortly, but I need a little time to process what I have learned here. Thanks to ZSorenson for taking the time to respond so fully. Thanks to Grames for the reading recommendation.
  2. TLD and Jake Ellison did succeed in illuminating for me the lack of necessity of a Social Contract for protection of individual rights in the scheme of Objectivist ethics. I am still, however, on the fence regarding the status of children.
  3. Haha. We're talking pre-school. Like, way before pre-school.
  4. That's good. A man's highest value is his own life. A rational man derives his ethics from his need to promote his highest value. As such, anything that promotes his life is good, and anything that would destroy it is evil. Where one man takes the life of another man, he is acting unethically and condemning himself to the same fate. No Social Contract required. Very good. Whether children are excluded or not is a factual determination, and it is based on whether or not they possess the rational faculty. If they don't, they cannot be said to rely on a rationally derived system of ethics for survival. I just don't see it. Surely, a man who lacks rational capacity cannot be considered a rational being.
  5. Thanks for the additional reading material. According to Rand, 'is good' does not mean 'exists'. Why does everyone keep saying that there is no Social Contract? It's true that there doesn't have to be a Social Contract. A Social Contract is created by men and does not exist until then. Are you suggesting that men are incapable of entering into Social Contracts?
  6. In my example, the bear is guilty of taking away, suspending, infringing, restricting and violating your right to life. Furthermore, the bear is not acting unethically in doing so.
  7. Haha. You're right. There's not really a parallel there, but I just couldn't resist. Either way, I think that my point stands. Rand's only justification for the existence of rights is man's need of them. I find that wholly unsatisfactory. Children also lack a conceptual faculty. Children cannot exercise their "rights" either.
  8. Actually, only the specific parent of the specific child could, hypothetically and against his/her own rational self-interest, beat, enslave and sexually abuse his/her specific child. No adult could beat, enslave and sexually abuse the child of another, however, without violating the rights of the parent of that child.
  9. Try invoking your right to life before a hungry bear who is about to eat you. If the bear could talk, he'd tell you that he is not a rational being and, as such, has no obligation to respect your rights, no matter how inalienable you consider them to be. All bears aside, however, I'm at a loss. Rationally speaking, how does one come about inalienable rights? This is precisely my problem: I cannot conceive of rights except as arising out of agreements, enforceable contracts between rational beings, where consideration is exchanged. I agree with this statement. Unfortunately, nothing about it indicates that the right to life is inalienable or that it does not arise by virtue of contract.
  10. Earlier this month, I posted regarding the nature of rights of human beings that lack the rational faculty (namely, young children). At the time, I had read only Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I was dismissed for my perceived lack of understanding of basic tenets of Objectivism and directed to read further. As such, I procured a copy of The Virtue of Selfishness, which was one of the works recommended to me by members of this forum. I did not consult sources credited to the Ayn Rand Institute. I also reviewed “The One Minute Case for Individual Rights”. As of right now, based upon my limited knowledge, I remain unconvinced that Rand’s argument for inherent rights of human beings is rationally supported. As such, I hold that rights must arise by virtue of an enforceable Social Contract (that conforms to a rationally derived system of ethics) and, as such, must exclude any being, human or otherwise, that has never been capable of exercising its rational faculty (the sleeping man, as well as the insane man, would be entitled to rights, assuming that he was, at some point, capable of exercising his rational faculty and, by virtue of said exercise, presumptively, entered into an enforceable Social Contract). Rand offers barely two paragraphs in her essay “Man’s Rights” from The Virtue of Selfishness on the nature of rights. In the rest of the essay, Rand describes rights, promotes capitalism as the only system capable of sustaining rights and illuminates the absurdity of the concept of so-called collective rights (she continues these discussions in her essay “Collectivized Rights”). For purposes of this post, I will focus on the two paragraphs that concern the nature of rights. I will not comment on “The One Minute Case for Individual Rights”, as it merely echoes Rand’s position. First, Rand asserts: “he [man] is an entity of a specific kind – a rational being… he cannot function successfully under coercion.” Man’s right to freedom from coercion is, according to Rand, synonymous with man’s right to life because (to paraphrase from “One Minute Case”) if man is not free to think and act on his judgment, he is incapable of achieving the values necessary to sustain his life. Based on this premise, Rand concludes: “rights are conditions of existence required by Man’s nature for his proper survival.” Then, her argument ends, as if she had proven that human beings have rights. It appears to me that she is guilty of the fallacy that she frequently attributes to proponents of altruism – namely, that need creates entitlement: a human being must have rights to survive and, as such, is entitled to rights. Furthermore, she ignores or, for some reason, chooses not to address questions that her position necessarily raises. After all, beings that lack rational capacity, including animals and fetuses and human babies, would all benefit immensely if the concept of rights were extended to them. Their likelihood of survival would greatly increase. Ultimately, it makes no difference whether one must be free to use his mind to survive or be free from being killed and eaten to survive or be free from being exposed to the cold by her parents before her mind and muscles are fully developed to survive. If one accepts the Objectivist position, as I’ve understood (misunderstood?) and summarized it, then one must also accept that pro-life and animal rights activists are acting according to Objectivist ideals. I do not believe that the Objectivist position on the subject of the nature of rights is rationally sound. I, therefore, hold that man has rights not because he is man, but because he is a rational being who takes certain steps toward procuring protection for his values. As such, in the spirit of intellectual honesty and with a deep sigh, I must accept the fact that children, whose rational faculty is not yet developed, are not entitled to any rights.
  11. Ok. Why are ya'll replying to my question with more questions? I came to this forum for answers. I understand that there's a lot out there to read. What is it that I'm supposed to learn about rights? According to Rand, are they inherent? How is this conceptualization of rights rationally justified? What is it that I'm missing? Tell me and we can debate it.
  12. I have skimmed the linked threads. I am definitely concerned with the last issue you've cited (concerning the enforcement of the rights of children under a social contract based on Objectivist ideals), but the thread addressing it is 26 pages long and contains a lot of tangential debate. Since I went through some trouble in putting together my original post, I feel as if a new, more specific thread concerning the subject is warranted. I ought to note that, for purposes of this thread, the term "child" refers to a human being who is incapable of exercising his rational faculty in a meaningful way. While I feel that the issues of abortion and animal rights are directly related to this issue, neither is the focus of my original post and, I ask, that neither be the primary focus of any replies. Your conceptualization of rights as transcendent and independent of the rational faculty seems flawed. It's as if you are arbitrarily assigning rights to human beings without any justification. A human being does not have rights by virtue of the fact that she is born biologically human. Neither does she have rights because she is rational. Rights arise when she, a rational and living being, encounters other rational and living beings and enters into an enforceable social contract with them in order to most efficiently promote her own values, chief among which is her own life. Since beings that lack rational capacity cannot contract, children cannot be party to the contract and, therefore, cannot be protected. The "sleeping man" example cannot apply, because, presumably, the sleeping man has contracted for the protection of his rights prior to going to sleep and has rights by virtue of that fact. A child has never had rational capacity and, as such, could not have contracted for the protection of his rights prior to losing his ability to exercise his rational faculty.
  13. PREMISES: Please, consider my attempt to sufficiently describe the Objectivist position before tackling the issue. --A: The human mind cannot conceive of square circles. As such, for the human mind, A must always be A. --B: The concept of value arises only where there is life. As such, the standard of value for each living being is its own life, the value that makes all other values possible. --C (from A, : The human being is a living and rational being. As such, she must act in her rational self-interest, utilizing her rational faculties to pursue her values, chief among which is the preservation and enrichment of her own life. It is irrational to exchange a value for a lesser value or a non-value. As such, self-sacrifice is irrational and should never be practiced by the human being. --D (from A, B, C): Since A is A, something cannot be both right and wrong at the same time and in the same sense. As such, the human being acting in her rational self-interest must adhere to a rationally derived, objective system of ethics. --E (from A, B, C): The human being exists in a hostile world, lacking fangs and claws and other naturally occurring physical instruments of defense. As such, her only bulwark against the forces threatening her life is her mind, the use of which allows her to be productive. By being productive, the human being is able to preserve and enhance her life. As such, the human being must utilize her mind and be productive. --F (from A thru E): Since it is rational to be productive, the human being acting in her rational self-interest must act to maximize her productivity. She would be more productive if she were secure in her person, liberty and property. As such, she ought to develop mechanisms that would provide such security. --G (from A thru F): The human being ought to develop a concept of rights and enter into an enforceable social contract. Under the social contract, the human being may avail herself of the privilege to use force to defend her life, liberty and property. --H (from A thru G): A rational human being may not utilize the social contract in violation of A through F. ISSUE: Beings that Lack Rational Capacity --I (from A through H): A human being that lacks rational capacity has values only to the extent that a living being has values; his only value is his life. A human being that lacks rational capacity is incapable of making rational choices and is, therefore, incapable of acting in his own rational self-interest. A human being that lacks rational capacity cannot contract and, therefore, cannot be said to have rights (which arise by virtue of contract). Hypo 1: Bill attacks Jimmy, the child of Jim. Jim calls the cops and has Bill arrested. --Jim violates no premise. He is acting rationally and in his rational self-interest to defend something of value to him, his child. He is acting ethically, according to the maxim that no one may arbitrarily, without cause and due process, deprive him of a value that he has produced and that he has not willingly contracted away (in this case, his child). Hypo 2: Bill attacks Timmy, the child of Tim. Jim calls the cops and has Bill arrested. --Jim violates no premise. By acting to defend the child of Tim, a fellow party to the social contract, Jim is acting rationally and in his rational self-interest to defend the integrity of the social contract, which, in turn, serves to defend his own life, liberty and property. He is acting ethically, according to the maxim that no one may arbitrarily, without cause and due process, deprive him of a value in which he has investment that he has not willingly contracted away (in this case, the protection of his own rights under the social contract). Hypo 3: Bill attacks Billy, the child of Bill. Jim calls the cops and has Bill arrested. --Jim appears to violate premises B and C. While he is not engaging in self-sacrifice, Jim does not appear to be acting in his own rational self-interest. Billy is not Jim’s child. As such, Billy’s life holds no inherent value for Jim, and Jim cannot be defending something of value to himself by defending Billy. Jim is a rational being and Billy is not. As such, Jim’s status under the social contract is different from that of Billy, and Jim cannot hope to defend his own rights under the social contract by defending the rights of Billy. --Jim appears to violate premises A, D and H. Since A is A, it cannot both be right and wrong for Jim to violate Bill’s rights in order to defend something of value to Bill from Bill. If Jim cannot concede that it is right for him to call the cops and have Bill arrested where Bill destroys Bill’s own valuable piece of china, then Jim is acting irrationally. If he can, then Jim has assumed an inherently unethical position, one that is not governed by a rationally derived system of ethics, that a rational human being may arbitrarily deprive another rational human being of life, liberty or property. Thereby, Jim effectively dispenses with the concept of rights altogether and deprives the social contract of purpose. Conclusion: The analysis in Hypo 3 yields some undesirable (or desirable, depending on one’s political biases) results: abortion, animal abuse and child abuse may not be prevented so long as such acts are perpetrated against a being that lacks rational capacity by the parent or owner of that being. I have checked and re-checked my premises. I am at a loss. I hope that I have come to the right place. Please, troubleshoot my premises. Below is my feeble attempt at retribution. I do not find it satisfactory. Feel free to consider it in your responses. Alternative Analysis to Hypo 3: Clearly, I have an aversion to intellectual honesty. --Jimmy, the child of Jim, would, if he did not lack rational capacity, have an interest in defending the integrity of the social contract. His status under the contract would be identical to that of Billy. Jim, acting as Jimmy’s representative, could act to defend Billy from Bill. Of course, by doing so, Jim would be defending Jimmy’s interest as against himself. Jim may still be acting in his own rational self-interest, however, provided that he believes that it would be in his best interest to be restrained, even in violation of his right to liberty, in the event that he proceeds to attack his own child. --This alternative analysis may give rise to some absurd results. For example, abortion could not be defended on grounds of privacy and personal liberty of the mother. Also, Michael Vick would have been rightly imprisoned on grounds of animal abuse. Also, the hippies from Whale Wars would be justified in attempting to deprive Japanese whalers of their bounty. Notes: 1) I shorthanded premise A. 2) The social contract under premise G could only support a representative form of government (a government that acts as a physical manifestation of the will of the people). 3) Nothing in the Hypos calls for scrutiny of Bill’s actions (I realize that Bill is a jerk). Please, focus on the actions and rights of Jim. 4) Comprehensive responses will be appreciated.
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