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Tom Robinson

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  1. If Churchill actually meant that “The inherent blessing of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings, and the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of misery,” then it is hard to imagine why he introduced socialism to Britain in World War I and brought it back during World War II. Perhaps in Churchill's upside-down morality vices are preferable to blessings. In any case, even if Churchill meant that the vice of socialism is its equal sharing of misery, he would still be embracing a falsehood. Socialism does not mean equality. Members of the Communist Party in the USSR enjoyed luxury apartments, vacation homes, limousines and special stores that featured goods made in the West.
  2. Want honesty? I can't stand that quote from Churchill. It states the opposite of reality.
  3. And if you are not presented with such knowledge, then presumably you are beyond moral judgment. Accordingly, we could not regard the terrorist acts of 9/11 as immoral unless we knew that the perpetrators had been "presented with the knowledge that, once grasped," would have prevented them "from taking another person's property in the name of god."
  4. I agree in general with your comments. But I am troubled by your phrase "modern moral standard." If morals, and more specifically rights, are derived from man's nature (as Rand discusses in "The Objectivist Ethics") then rights and the principle of not initiating force would be as valid 400 years ago as they are today -- unless one believes that there has been an essential change in man's nature since then. Therefore, a distinction between modern and pre-modern morals can only be descriptive, not prescriptive.
  5. Ayn Rand is right. Look how quickly, as a result of U.S. economic boycott, Cuba collapsed over the last 40 years. Yep. It happened in the twinkling of an eye. When Ayn Rand wrote those words, Cuba was on its very last legs. Given how much Cuba imploded in the last 40 years, surely Cuba will be fully ready for capitalism by, say, mid-2005?
  6. Great! Why not start an Objectivist political party? (Shall we call it the "Party of Reality, Reason and Rights"?) Of course, the cost to get such a party on the ballot in all 50 states would be in the several millions. However, falling short of that goal, there is no reason why a highly motivated (as well as attractive and persuasive) individual over the age of 18 could not run for public office on an Objectivist platform. Don't forget to tell the electorate that you favor abortion and drug usage rights and also want to pump up the War on Terror and extend it to Iran and N. Korea. Test the waters and then come back and give us a report.
  7. TomL: No I wouldn't, because warts and blood are not a fundamental component of the concept "right", and are not presupposed by it. One does not need "blood" or "warts" in order to have "rights". One needs "reason" & "volition". Robinson: Good, if “one does not need ‘blood’ or ‘warts’ in order to have ‘rights,’” then Jones can draw all of Smith’s blood out of his body and Smith will still have his rights. TomL: No, I won't. Performing actions on a person's body is not the same thing as killing them. Robinson: If "performing actions on a person’s body is not the same as killing them,” then Jones could, with Smith’s permission, inject Smith with lethal dose of adrenaline and still be innocent of murder. TomL: In a social context only. On a deserted island, there is no such thing. Robinson: Yes, in asocial context one has ownership over his body. Therefore, in a social context, an owner can destroy his own property -- or contract another to do it for him. TomL: Only if she blows her own brains out before transplant surgery starts. If the doctors kill her to take out the heart, they are murderers. Robinson: If a doctor removes a person’s kidney without the kidney owner’s permission, he should be charged with assault and battery. If he removes the kidney with the owner’s permission, he is acting as the owner’s agent and has done no wrong. Similarly, if Dr. Jones ends Smith life with Smith’s permission, the doctor has acted as the owner’s agent and has done no wrong. TomL: How are mowing a lawn and killing someone the same thing? The mind boggles at this ridiculous comparison. Robinson: Who said murder and assisted suicide are the same thing? The mind reels at the confusion between these distinct ideas. TomL: He's screwed, but there's no one to blame but himself. Next! Robinson: When Jones follows Smith’s instructions and injects Smith with a lethal dose of adrenaline, there’s no one to blame but Smith himself. Next! TomL: Hell, no. In the case of Jones killing Smith, the contract is not one of assisted suicide, but of "consensual murder". Robinson: Consensual murder is a contradiction in terms and therefore invalid. Stick it in the same category of nonsense as consensual rape or consensual kidnapping. TomL: Jones is still a murderer, and goes to the death chamber for it. Assisted suicide, as I've already painfully described, does not involve death being induced by the other person. Robinson: So the person doing the assisting in assisted suicude should not fill the syringe with anything lethal -- otherwise it would be “consensual murder.” TomL: The contract is for Jones to help Smith, but Jones cannot actually physically KILL Smith. Smith must kill himself. Robinson: If someone helps a hit-man load his gun and take aim at an innocent target, shouldn’t the assistant be charged with murder along with the trigger man? How is it justifiable to help in one killing, but not another? TomL: You have repeatedly ignored my explanations of: the definition of "rights", "assisted suicide", equivocation of body parts with life itself, and numerous other things -- and continued to use your own flawed definitions and erroneous logic without explaining what you think is wrong with mine or explaining why yours are correct. I have repeated myself so many times its making my head swim. This is out of control, and no new material has been brought in for several posts. You are just repeating the same old, tired things. I'm done. Robinson: Gee, leaving so soon? I was just starting to have fun.
  8. Yes, as I've said, read Cox's book.
  9. You might as well say that it is not the same thing for a man to draw his own blood (or remove his warts) as it is for another man to draw his blood (or remove his warts), and that therefore the former is legitimate and the latter is illegitimate. In order to prove the contention that self-induced death is permissible but contracted death is impermissible, you will have to demonstrate that the only one who can morally perform actions on a person’s body is the person himself. If I cut my wart out, it’s okay; if you cut it out it’s assault and battery! Then contrary to your post earlier today, there is indeed such a “thing as a right to oneself.” If a woman owns her body parts, then she may rightfully sell them. If she owns her heart, she may rightfully sell it. If she wishes, she may also rightfully donate her heart to her son with a heart defect. She may also instruct her doctor to remove her heart and insert it into her son’s chest. If she does all of this by her own volition, then none of her rights have been negated. And if no one’s rights have been negated, then no one may be charged with murder or any other rights violation. Then accordingly, you should find the practice of mowing one’s own lawn acceptable, but mowing someone else’s lawn morally wrong and abhorrent. Okay then, what if the subject injects himself with a lethal dose and then suddenly changes his mind? Any objections you apply to contractual death would also have to apply to self-induced death. Let me quote your words in their entirety: “I have no idea what the above nonsense means. It has no bearing on my statement to which it apparently was attempting to refer. A contract for assistance in suicide is not a contract for killing someone. I don't see how we can reject the statement of hierarchy which makes all rights possible based on a false equivocation between ‘suicide’ and ‘murder’.” I replied, “If a ‘contract for assistance in suicide is not a contract for killing someone,’ then Jones should not be arrested for following Smith’s orders to give him a lethal injection of adrenaline.” Do we agree?
  10. TomL: No. I am saying suicide is a man's choice, but murder isn't. Robinson: If Smith’s taking his life by his own free will is not murder, neither is Jones’s taking of Smith’s life by Smith’s permission murder. TomL: I wouldn't; they have done nothing to injure anyone else. Punishment is for those who would injure others. Robinson: So following what you wrote before, “Only an objective individual can make the judgement” to commit suicide, we would add that non-objective individuals can also make the choice to commit suicide. TomL: It is not the same action. For Jones to kill himself is one action, named "suicide". For Smith to kill Jones, regardless of agreement, is a different action entirely, named "murder". Again, I am not talking about an emergent situation, but a normal, healthy Jones. Robinson: If we would punish Jones for taking Smith’s life with Smith’s permission, to be consistent we would have to punish Smith (if he survives the attempt) for doing the same thing that we would punish Jones for. TomL: No, we don't. I make no extrapolation from "kidney" or "blood" to "body". That is uniquely your error here. Robinson: Very well, if body and consciousness are not separate things, then a double amputee would have less consciousness than a man with all of his limbs. TomL: The morality being questioned is not whether the ending of Smith's life is wrong. The morality being questioned is: who is doing the ending, and how does the person doing the ending know the decision is consistent with reality? Robinson: If Smith contracts with Jones for Robinson’s murder (and Robinson does not wish to die), then both Smith and Jones should be charged with murder (or attempted murder). Following your argument, we would have to say that if Smith contracts with Jones for Smith’s own death, then the police would have to charge both Smith and Jones with attempted murder. TomL: Again, there is no such thing as a right to oneself. Rights only exist in a social context, and in the case of a man committing suicide, there is no social context. Only the man himself -- thus, no concepts of a right ever enters the picture. Robinson: Then a woman could not sell her kidney or blood or hair because she would have no property right in those things. TomL: This is not how assisted suicides are done. The helper may set up an apparatus to inject a chemical, but it is the person who is to be killed that physically causes the injection to occur -- not the helper. If the person wishing to die cannot physically push a button, then the helper cannot do it for him as no suicide is possible. Robinson: Just as I can confer on another person the power to sign my checks, I can confer upon him the full power to conduct the termination of my life. I need not be physically involved at all to have it occur with my consent. TomL: I don't know why you are stuck on "irreversibility", I said my argument had nothing to do with that, but rather fundamental nature of "life" as opposed to the non-fundamental nature of "kidney". Robinson: You are the one who introduced the objection: what if the subject changes his mind. TomL: Yes, there is. The medical professional may set it up such that the subject may inject themselves, but they must not inject the subject themselves. That is murder. Or, by your illustration of using a "medical professional", are you really talking about an emergent situation? Because THAT is different, and wholly outside the context of this thread. Robinson: If we are speaking of current law, no assisted suicides in any manner are permitted in the United States. If we are speaking of a society of contract, in which each person is given full exercise of his rights, then there is nothing immoral (rights violating) about an individual assigning an agent to take all steps necessary to end the person’s life. TomL: I have no idea what the above nonsense means. It has no bearing on my statement to which it apparently was attempting to refer. A contract for assistance in suicide is not a contract for killing someone. I don't see how we can reject the statement of hierarchy which makes all rights possible based on a false equivocation between "suicide" and "murder". Robinson: Good. If a “contract for assistance in suicide is not a contract for killing someone,” then Jones should not be arrested for following Smith’s orders to give him a lethal injection of adrenaline.
  11. But someone acting under my instructions is performing actions on my behalf. So you would forbid only the suicides of non-objective individuals? And how would you punish those non-objective individuals who attempted suicide and did not succeed? You cannot punish Jones for taking the same action that you would allow to Smith. If Smith’s taking his own life does not violate any rights, then no rights are violated when Jones acts on Smith’s instructions to end Smith’s life. No rights violation, no crime. Then we agree that the body and consciousness are separate things. If ending Smith’s life is morally wrong (a rights violation), then it would be just as wrong for Smith himself to do it as Jones. If we punish Jones for assisting in suicide, then we would have to punish Smith for attempting his own suicide. On April 29 you wrote, “What if he injects the chemical and you change your mind?” Now if you are concerned about the subject changing his mind once an assisted suicide has commenced, why would you not be similarly concerned about a kidney donor changing his mind once the surgery to remove it has commenced? The problem of irreversibility is the same in both cases. As for not having life without life -- who said otherwise? The point is that the consciousness ruling a body may not want life anymore -- and it is his right as owner of that body (or that life) to end it. If I have the right to take an action with regard to my own property, then I can transfer the right to take that action to another party. There is no rights violation if a medical professional under the instructions of the subject takes every step necessary to inject the subject with a lethal dose of adrenaline. Good. So we would reject the statement, “So, if one trades away the right to life, one has traded away the right to property, and the right to execute a trade over that property -- including one's body.” A suicide contract does not result in loss of property rights, including the rights over one’s body.
  12. Never mind what others say. You are right to enjoy Vonnegut, one of the great masters of the comic novel. Cat's Cradle is perhaps the best satire of religion ever written.
  13. The owner of the heart may legitimately take actions to make it stop beating. You have said, “There is nothing ethically wrong for a man to want to die and even for him to want someone else to do it. But in the abscence of an emergency, it is morally wrong for anyone else to execute that wish. Anyone who does so defaults on his own right to life.” First of all, who gets to decide whether it is an emergency? More importantly, you are caught in a contradiction. If Smith kills himself (presumably with his own permission), he has not violated anyone’s rights. Therefore if Jones kills Smith (with Smith’s permission), he has taken the same action that it was legitimate for Smith to commit. A legal system cannot punish one man for doing the same thing that another is legally permitted to do. They are conceptually separable. If consciousness is one and the same as the body, then donating a body part, say, a kidney, would be the same donating a part of one’s consciousness. Having donated blood and undergone operations to remove neoplasms, I can state without fear of contradiction that my consciousness was not in the least diminished by the procedures. Ergo, consciousness and body are not identical. The consciousness rules the body and is the proper owner of it. As owner, the consciousness is within its rights to destroy the body. What if you want to donate a kidney and change you mind after the operation? If the irreversibility of a procedure makes it illegitimate, then there would be very few actions that a surgeon could perform. So if a man contracts to have his life ended, then he “has traded away the right to property, and the right to execute a trade over that property -- including one's body.” In that case, if an assisted suicide attempt should fail or be interrupted, the body of the would-be suicide would no longer belong to him. Who would be the new owner? The state? The first one to come along and claim finders-keepers rights? Furthermore, if someone assists another person in a suicide that succeeds, how could the assistant be charged with murder? You have stated that the one who trades away his right to life has traded away rights over his body. How is it the killing a crime if no rights are violated?
  14. Either an individual’s person (body) is his property or it is not. If a human body is the property of the occupant (the consciousness within), then the occupant may dispose of it as he wishes, including placing it in the hands of someone who will administer a lethal injection. In theory, a surgeon could imprison a person, remove her brain and insert someone else’s. By the Lockean principle of first occupation, we say this is illegitimate because the original occupant is the only legitimate owner. But we do not have to resort to such a science fiction hypothetical. A fetus can occupy a woman’s body. Our position that a woman may rightfully abort the pregnancy is based on the premise that she is the exclusive owner of her womb and may legitimately eject anything or anyone inside her. Then, if you wish, the consciousness owns the body. But clearly they are separable. Otherwise, people would not be able to donate blood, bone marrow or internal organs. Then, if you wish, I retain my right to life until I breathe my last breath. I retain my right to life until the chemical that I have ordered a doctor to inject me with makes my heart stop beating. Then people who donate blood or body organs are acting illegitimately? “Is man a sovereign individual who owns his person, his mind, his life, his work and his products -- or is he the property of the tribe (the state, the society, the collective) . . . ?” -- Ayn Rand, "What Is Capitalism" It is clear that Rand and the Objectivist philosophy recognize ownership of one’s person. If "you do not possess the right to not be killed yourself," then there can be nothing immoral (rights violating) about your hiring someone to kill you.
  15. As H.W. Fowler asked, have you made up you mind to say, "Everyone was blowing their noses" or “Everyone were blowing their noses"? Let's see how this sounds: "Whoever allows a 'somehow' into their view of the means by which their desires are to be achieved, is guilty of that 'metaphysical humility' which, psychologically, is the premise of a parasite." Try it another way: "Whoever allows a 'somehow' into his view of the means by which his desires are to be achieved, is guilty of that 'metaphysical humility' which, psychologically, is the premise of a parasite." Does the second version sound fussy or pedantic? Not to my ear. The second version is the one that came from Ayn Rand's pen. See "The 'Conflicts' of Men's Interests."
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