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Can we treat humans without a rational capacity as property?

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fatdogs12
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Essentially we are talking about a person lower than a dog as far as abilities mental and otherwise go,

definitely far below a monkey.

(My bold)

You are right, we are talking about a person, not a monkey or a dog.

However, to play Devil's Advocate from the perspective you are posing (and to be clear I still maintain that my distinction and reasoning is valid), let's look at the following;

How would you determine who would "own" this person such that you could do whatever you wanted to him/her? Who had ownership of him/her to begin with?

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In that from everything I read I thought rights were predicated on a rational capacity.
The logical hierarchy is important, though: you can't just point to one aspect of the concept of "rights" and say 'This is where rights come from'. To repeat from "Man's Rights",

"Rights" are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law."

A right is a principle, a conceptual statement of society's proper relationship to individuals.Thus it is not a concrete statement about certain individuals, it is a general one defined in terms of "man". At the conceptual level, that statement is "men have these rights". The concept of rights cays "Certain immoral acts are so immoral, in a specific way, that we have a special rule that you may not do it, and the government will enforce that rule". Remember that "rights" refers to a very restricted subset of "morality" questions, namely ones pertaining to other humans, and stateable in generally-applicable conceptual terms. The immorality of torturing animals does not make the act a rights violation. Objectivists would condemn, but not imprison, animal torturers.

The concept of rights here on Earth refers to a specific fact about man's nature and the nature of other animals, that man has free will and by nature survives by reason. Space aliens could also have rights, and society would no doubt recognize that fact when we are faced with it. Since we don't have do deal with space aliens though, that's not a topic that needs further investigation.

There is a fundamental scientific question that has to be addressed in proopsing that some hominid-looking object has no rights, namely, the proof that the being has no rational faculty. There are such beings, who usually die within hours of birth because they have no brain). Other babies, the ones that we're talking aout, do have a rational faculty. You may want to argue otherwise -- if so, tell me what the objective test for "has no rational faculty" is. BTW, remember not to answer a question or a question expressed in the imperative with another question.

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(My bold)

You are right, we are talking about a person, not a monkey or a dog.

However, to play Devil's Advocate from the perspective you are posing (and to be clear I still maintain that my distinction and reasoning is valid), let's look at the following;

How would you determine who would "own" this person such that you could do whatever you wanted to him/her? Who had ownership of him/her to begin with?

Well the parents definitely did in the beginning I would think. So now they could either be owned by the parents or could have been abandoned.

A dog can do much more yet is own-able so I don't see how that makes a person who has no rational capacity any different. Would love to see the reasoning behind it though if someone wants to share.

Edited by fatdogs12
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There is a fundamental scientific question that has to be addressed in proopsing that some hominid-looking object has no rights, namely, the proof that the being has no rational faculty. There are such beings, who usually die within hours of birth because they have no brain). Other babies, the ones that we're talking aout, do have a rational faculty. You may want to argue otherwise -- if so, tell me what the objective test for "has no rational faculty" is. BTW, remember not to answer a question or a question expressed in the imperative with another question.

Okay see that's why I was so specific that the person did not have a rational capacity. That they had less brain ability then many animals. If they had any rational capacity at all then these are people that are not part of the discussion. I'm not sure how you came to believe that 'the ones that we're talking about, do have a rational faculty.' If that was the case this would not even be an issue.

Most retarded people in my experience have a basic rational capacity, which is beyond any animal. They know basic concepts, they know what pants are etc. Definitely not talking about those people.

I don't see that the scientific aspect matters though. All that matters is if doctors can be certain they have no rational capacity and will never have one would it be moral.

From everything I've read it doesn't make sense to grant someone with no rational capacity and no hope or one any rights. They certainly can't exercise any rights. They have no values. They don't try to live, they just exist.

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A dog can do much more yet is own-able so I don't see how that makes a person who has no rational capacity any different. Would love to see the reasoning behind it though if someone wants to share.

Well, I'm not being facetious when I say the reasoning is being shown to you, you just don't agree with it.

Well the parents definitely did in the beginning I would think. So now they could either be owned by the parents or could have been abandoned.

I've never seen a code in law or any moral indication that parents own their children. How did you derive that?

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Well, I'm not being facetious when I say the reasoning is being shown to you, you just don't agree with it.

I've never seen a code in law or any moral indication that parents own their children. How did you derive that?

Here is one way. It could be argued that a newborn human infant (either normal or not) is NOT a Person. It has only one third the brain mass of a self-conscious sentient human being capable of volition. Why do I say that? Because the size of the birth canal in human females requires that they give birth while their fetus is relatively underdeveloped. Humans are neonates. We are taken (or evicted) half baked out of the oven.

Now, if a newborn human is not a Person, what is it? I say it is the property of the mother. The mother nourished the child through the normal chemical processes associated with maturing embryos. Furthermore the mother assumes ALL of the mortal risk and pain associated with child birth. By going to term she has assumed the risk and pain and that is sufficient (to me anyway) to make her the owner of her not yet-a-person infant. Once the infant develops into a young child with self awareness, volition and autonomy, then that child is a Person with full rights as such. We do not yet have a scientific bases to pinpoint when this stage is reached, but it is reached at some stage. Getting a set of rules to determine when a child is a Person, could be politically intractable. Even if my name were Solomon, I would not want the job.

Bob Kolker

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From everything I've read it doesn't make sense to grant someone with no rational capacity and no hope or one any rights. They certainly can't exercise any rights. They have no values. They don't try to live, they just exist.

Baby's that are born brain dead, exist in a vegetative state. They are still protected, by virtue of being human, but they cannot excercise any of their rights, because they cannot function properly. Decisions about them have to be made by parents/family/doctor.

Born without a brain at all? As far as I understand it, they are still living human beings, and so they have a right to life, like any other human being when born, it's the most fundamental of all rights (the source of rights comes from the law of identity) so they are protected, care is provided, and decisions will be made on their behalf.

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Here is one way. It could be argued that a newborn human infant (either normal or not) is NOT a Person.

Regardless, because of the law of identity, when baby is born, it is born as a human being.

Now, if a newborn human is not a Person, what is it? I say it is the property of the mother.

Property? Her responsibility, is more appropriate word usage, imo.

Once the infant develops into a young child with self awareness, volition and autonomy, then that child is a Person with full rights as such. We do not yet have a scientific bases to pinpoint when this stage is reached, but it is reached at some stage.

The stage is called birth. That's where our rights begin. What do you mean by "full rights"?

Edited by intellectualammo
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Born without a brain at all? As far as I understand it, they are still living human beings, and so they have a right to life, like any other human being when born, it's the most fundamental of all rights (the source of rights comes from the law of identity) so they are protected, care is provided, and decisions will be made on their behalf.

This does not happen. If such an anomaly occurs during the pregnancy, the fetus will naturally be aborted. It the mother does somehow manage to live for it and then give birth to it, it will die very shortly afterwards. No higher-order animal can exist without a brain. If it does not have a brain, then it is not a higher-order animal. If this were a potential human being, the question of rights is out the window because even if the mother gives birth, the baby will die soon.

Edited by Mimpy
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This does not happen. If such an anomaly occurs during the pregnancy, the fetus will naturally be aborted. It the mother does somehow manage to live for it and then give birth to it, it will die very shortly afterwards. No organism can exist without a brain. If this were a potential human being, the question of rights is out the window because even if the mother gives birth, the baby will die soon.

I see. Say we had no idea it was brainless, and it was born alive somehow. Until it dies after its birth, it's treated like any other baby would, until they had found that something was wrong, which would be very noticeable. But we still identify it as a baby as Watkins said, which is important to note.

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Okay see that's why I was so specific that the person did not have a rational capacity. That they had less brain ability then many animals. If they had any rational capacity at all then these are people that are not part of the discussion.
Now go back to the part about rights being the subordination of society to moral law, and specifically rights are concepts, with objective characterization, that pertain to allowed interactions. The conceptual principle is that humans have rights, not that beings with a rational faculty have rights. They mostly are the same thing, except for anencephalic infants.
All that matters is if doctors can be certain they have no rational capacity and will never have one would it be moral.
You're speaking of the anencephalic ones, which are borderline cases -- they are never conscious, they will die within hour at days of birth, and there is no compelling reason to call them human at all -- humans aren't just a pile of homo sapiens flesh. Otherwise, the point is that doctors cannot make that assertion. It is proper that the evidentiary standard for rights be high -- that it be nearly impossible to conclude that a living homo sapiens does not have rights. The existing concept of "rights" does not have a "doctors excuse" exception.
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That's instantaneous, because they have a hole where the brain and scalp should have been. You can inspect pictures, but I warn you they are shocking and graphic so do not click this casually.

I'm not going to click on it, but yes very noticeable indeed. But, would you call it a human being? a baby? I would. Why is there no compelling reason to call it human, as you had mentioned before? I call it a human baby born without parts of a brain, or a human baby born without a brain. Human baby nonetheless.

Edited by intellectualammo
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I'm not going to click on it, but yes very noticeable indeed. But, would you call it a human being? a baby? I would. Why is there no compelling reason to call it human, as you had mentioned before? I call it a human baby born without parts of a brain, or a human baby born without a brain. Human baby nonetheless.

The nature of a human being requires him to have a brain. The state of that brain is not the point here. The fact is, even a mentally retarded person has a brain. He can't use it as well as the rest of us, but he can still use it to an extent. One cannot be called human without a brain. Just like you can't call something a bird if it's got no feathers.

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I just want you to know that you made me do this... :)

Featherless Bird.

Yeah, I knew someone would google it and find something obscure. :) You get my point, though, I hope.

EDIT: That bird was not naturally featherless. The trait was artifically selected by a breeder. So my example is still good!!!

Edited by Mimpy
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The nature of a human being requires him to have a brain.

His survival requires it, at best. Defintionally, we can have "broken units" and still be a human being. that's why I can call it a human baby that was born without a brain or parts of a brain, as opposed to a "something" or "[whatever Dave or you would call it here]", imo.

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His survival requires it, at best. Defintionally, we can have "broken units" and still be a human being. that's why I can call it a human baby that was born without a brain or parts of a brain, as opposed to a "something" or "[whatever Dave or you would call it here]", imo.

But a human being is defined as having a brain. I don't consider this a "broken unit" scenario. A baby born without arms is still human. It still has the capacity to think and make decisions. Someone born with holes in their heart is still human. But without a brain, a human being isn't...well, a human being. It is not a dog or cat or any other animal that is defined as having a brain. It is a true anomaly. It cannot be considered a human. It is at the level of a simple prokaryote who acts automatically. Because a human being requires a brain to function properly, it will, of course, die.

Edited by Mimpy
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Let me add, sticking with the political concept of rights, that even an anencephalic infant has rights, in the sense that in the US, euthanasia of such a thing would not be allowed (I don't think). While I would argue that the concept "person" does not properly apply to such objects, that subtle philosophical point hasn't worked its way into the concept of rights. I could be, but it hasn't.

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I think that in both cases, the law should essentially act as a "stand-in" decision-maker for that person. This might mean hastening the death of a terminally ill baby

Actually, I would say in the case of a baby the parents should be the ones deciding, not the law.

Added: In the Rand quote above, I think she goes beyond the idea of simply having the law allow people to take care of such disabled adults. It sounds at if she might be saying that the government should actually ensure that such care is provided.

I assume that by this you do not mean forcing anyone to care for them or creating a government agency to care for them. So what do you mean?

Now, if a newborn human is not a Person, what is it? I say it is the property of the mother.

Babies are NOT property! Any quarter decent mother would resent you calling her baby her "property". The "her" part in that sentance no more denotes ownership than the "your" in the phrase "your friend" does. You cannot own humans. Babies are still humans, so cannot be owned.

We will remain in disagreement then.

Actually, Mimpy has a point. The biological definition of human includes that we have brains. I remember that from biology and human biology classes in high school. If a baby has no brain it doesn't fit the biological definition of human. Now, there is nothing in the dictionary definition that includes having a brain, but the biological definition is more complete in this case, as is often the case when comparing scientific and dictionary definitions. In cases like this the dictionary definition does not suffice because it is less comprehensive. The biological definition does because it is more comprehensive.

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Wow! How awesome! Peikoff just posted a podcast recently on his site, it's podcast 2, addressing a question regarding some of our issues in this thread. I only just started listening to it, so I'm not sure how much is addressed in it. A questioner asks (to paraphrase) that if a human being is born without a reasoning mind or is mentally retarded is it still in fact a man? ... which Peikoff responds emphatically with a yes.

Edited by intellectualammo
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Wow! How awesome! Peikoff just posted a podcast recently on his site, it's podcast 2, addressing a question regarding some of our issues in this thread. I only just started listening to it, so I'm not sure how much is addressed in it. A questioner asks (to paraphrase) that if a human being is born without a rational mind or is retarded is it still a man? ... which Peikoff responds emphatically with a yes.

So what? Of course he's still a man, that's not being debated. Ayn Rand already said a retarded person should not be afforded the same rights as a regular person. But he is afforded some rights according to her because he may improve.... Our guy can't improve. I don't see rights coming of this

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Well, I'm not being facetious when I say the reasoning is being shown to you, you just don't agree with it.

I see the reasoning from people. but I don' think it addresses the issue. I've shown a direct quote from Rand

that says that not all humans are afforded the same rights and that their rational capacity is the reason for

that. While a number of things have been said I don't think anyone so far has addressed that issue...

I've never seen a code in law or any moral indication that parents own their children. How did you derive that?

Parents call all the shots for their children, make decisions for them. They decide where they will go, what they

will do. I guess that means they just have the legal responsibility for them? Idk on that. We are talking about

someone in essence who is more animal than human in man's most fundamental category though and can't

support their self at all. I'm interested to see your view on this issue.

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