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What are the obligations of a biological father?

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KevinD
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If I understand Sophia's position, it is this:

1. If a man chooses to have sex with a woman, and that action results in conception, he is causally responsible and morally obligated to care for the resulting child, even if he doesn't want the fetus to be born.

2. If a woman chooses to have sex with a man, and that action results in conception, she is causally responsible but NOT morally obligated to care for the resulting child, because she has the choice to abort a fetus she doesn't want to be born.

This is clearly a double standard, in which a man is obligated to care for an unwanted child but a woman is not.

I've noticed one other tendency on Sophia's part, which is a failure to fully recognize that bringing a fetus to term is a choice made by the mother. It does not go Sex->Baby, but rather Sex->Zygote->Fetus->long-time-to-think-about-it->Baby. Hence the idea that the decision to have sex is equivalent to the decision to have a child is false. It may have been true a millenium ago, but not with modern medicine. Now, the choice to have sex in no way means the choice to become a parent -- that choice is made at any point up until birth.

Lastly, the idea that people should be responsible about sex is a straw man -- nobody is advocating that people have sex without regard to consequences. It is irrelevant whether the couple was being "responsible" or not. The essential here is whether a man and a woman have equal choice in the matter of the child being born, and what this implies for the obligation (or lack thereof) of each party.

Edited by Spano
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It does not follow that if you create life, you are responsible for maintainign it. That is the part you have to prove.

I disagree. Man's means of survival is reason, but an infant can't reason. Therefore it's right to life (which it gets from being part of society with rest of us) imposes an obligation on the parent to look after it until it can.

In the case of an adult, right to life implies only right to be left alone to reason. But in the case of infant, right to life implies right to be left alone to reason, implies right to live long enough to develop reason.

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We are all agree that a man is responsible for his actions. We also agree that a man can not demand an abortion from a woman. She may choose to have one but that is her choice. A woman does not have a responsibility to abort a pregnancy - it is a choice.

Men should be responsible for their actions but not for women's choices. So if they got married and conciously decided to have children with a woman and then left, he should be held accountable, but when engaged in recreational sex without that intention, it is only their problem to the extent they choose to make it their own.

Another thing is, a man will not end up pregnant if he has irresponsible sex. A woman may. The consequences are her's to consider. This dilemna is essentially why women have a tendency to be more selective sexually. The possible consequences for them have historically been more considerable. It might be a double standard but it is one created by reality not us.

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quote= Sophia]It does not follow that if you create life, you are responsible for maintainign it. That is the part you have to prove.

Note specifically the wording, as I highlighted in bold.

"Life."

Not a human life. But "life."

As stated, this is correct. Only human beings have rights. If one creates a fetus - a non-rights-possessing object - there is no obligation to maintain it. Objectivism holds that only human beings have rights, not lumps of cells.

The choice of whether to allow the fetus to become a human being is the mother's and only the mother's. And thus the responsibility for the result of that choice is the mother's and only the mother's.

Excepting of course some sort of contract between the parents. Such as a marriage.

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I disagree. Man's means of survival is reason, but an infant can't reason. Therefore it's right to life (which it gets from being part of society with rest of us) imposes an obligation on the parent to look after it until it can.

In the case of an adult, right to life implies only right to be left alone to reason. But in the case of infant, right to life implies right to be left alone to reason, implies right to live long enough to develop reason.

I think the "created life" statement is in reference to conception(ironic considering it's an objectivist board). The actual creation of the rights posessing human being that you are concerned with is the one created by the mother over the following 9 months. At that point, an obligation is created.

edit: ahh...time delay....you beat me to it inspector.

Edited by aequalsa
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If I understand Sophia's position, it is this:

1. If a man chooses to have sex with a woman, and that action results in conception, he is causally responsible and morally obligated to care for the resulting child, even if he doesn't want the fetus to be born.

2. If a woman chooses to have sex with a man, and that action results in conception, she is causally responsible but NOT morally obligated to care for the resulting child, because she has the choice to abort a fetus she doesn't want to be born.

No it is not my position.

I am very tired but I will try to respond.

Both people are responsible for conception and both are responsible and obligated to care for the child if it is born. The responsibility to care for the child does not come from the fact that they share DNA (if you adopt a child - you are also responsible for caring for it eventhough you do not share DNA). Instead, it comes from being responsible for the outcome of your actions even of that outcome was only a possibility and was not really intended (that is true for other actions not only sex so I am not sure why in case of sex it should be any different).

A sperm donor is not responsible for the care of a child eventhough he does share the same genetic material.

I do not think that one should be held responsible for the care of other's children just your own children.

So that covers what I think is moral after a child is born.

So, this was a case of "an accident" happening where the conception was not intended. A man may think that since abortion is a moral choice - it can be always used (and should be) in this case to "fix the problem", that a woman is somehow obligated to go through with it, and if she does not - it is her problem.

If abortion was as harmless as other "birth control" methods I would agree. If it was as simple as taking a morning after pill - but it is not. It is a serious procedure that has a possibility of very negative consequences, some of which I have already provided in my previous posts. In light of that fact a man can not assume - without having a conversation with that woman before hand - that abortion is an option in case of 'an accident'. It maybe for many women (like me for example) but it is not for all.

If the two people agree that, in case of an accident, she will have an abortion then he makes a decision to have sex with that woman on those terms. He takes action under those conditions and they should be upheld. If that woman changes her mind later - he is not responsible for the financial care of the child.

If he finds out that, in case of an accident, she won't or may not have an abortion then he must consider that having sex with this woman implies the possibility of a child. If despite of knowing that fact he decided to have sex with this woman and conception happens, following the birth of a child - he is responsible to help to care for it. He knew of that possibility when he took the action and decided to go through with it.

If he does not ask, and take action blindly and she gets pregnant and has the child - he is also responsible. Because entering into something without asking, agreeing on conditions does not relieve one from taking responsibility for that action.

If in the future technology changes (and it got better already) making this procedure safer to go through and removes the negative consequences (like the possiblity of never being able to have children again) - I will change my point of view.

The reason why I hold this view right now is that I think there are rational reasons at this point why a woman may not want to have an abortion in case of an unwanted pregnancy. Please note that I do not consider religious reasons as rational.

I do not have anything more to add to this topic.

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In order to stay on this particular topic, I am going to try to "head this off at that pass" before it happens. Any discussion regarding the rights or parental obligations of a child once born should be taken to the other thread What rights do children have?

This is a distinct enough topic by itself without introducing an entirely separate argument for which there is already a 21 page thread.

Be forewarned that I may move posts without notification if this line is crossed, so please help me out folks.

Edited by RationalBiker
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I think the "created life" statement is in reference to conception(ironic considering it's an objectivist board). The actual creation of the rights posessing human being that you are concerned with is the one created by the mother over the following 9 months. At that point, an obligation is created.

I would say life is created at conception, but it's not yet human life. It is the man's choice whether to create life or not and the women's choice whether to gestate it. If she so decides, then it gradually becomes human life, and both parents have an obligation to raise it.

Though if the man truly objects, the women should take this in to account, because it wouldn't be much fun for a kid to have their dad resent them, but even so it is her choice.

Edited by ian
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If it is her choice and only her choice, why is it not her responsibility and only her responsiblility?

That's like saying there are 5 people deciding to rob a bank. 2 vote yes and 2 vote no. The tiebreaker votes yes, so they take the full blame because it wouldn't have happened without them, and the other 4 are morally innocent.

The fact that the woman chooses second is just a biological fact (you can't choose whether to gestate life until there is some), it doesn't change the fact that before that the man got her pregnant.

Edited by ian
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That's like saying there are 5 people deciding to rob a bank. 2 vote yes and 2 vote no. The tiebreaker votes yes, so they take the full blame because it wouldn't have happened without them, and the other 4 are morally innocent.

Not analogous. The man has no vote. The woman is the ONLY one who has a vote to carry out the pregnancy, she's not simply the tiebreaker, at that point she's the only bank robber and the guy is a hostage.

And the man didn't "get her pregnant". It's been acknowledged by all sides up to this point that they BOTH got her pregnant.

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Then we can not debate any longer.

So, you believe that women should not be allowed to a.) have abortions or b.) give the child up for adoption? If a woman gets pregnant, she is legally bound to have the baby and raise it to adulthood? THIS is what your statement means, whether you intended it or not. The woman is not legally bound in this manner, so why should the man be . . . on the woman's whim?

In an analogous case, if I purchase a house with someone and they decide later that they want to sell it and move, they are not allowed to just sell it out from under me: I own half of it. If a man owns half the fetus in the same manner that the woman does when its part of her body, he is by law part-owner of her body. I don't care WHAT happens, I will fight any law that makes any other person part-owner of my body under ANY circumstances.

The law does not exist to force people to be moral or exercise good judgment; it exists to delineate who has what rights and obligations in the base case, without other agreements, stipulations, or contractual obligations. While you can certainly morally condemn people that exercise poor judgment (just like we sort of laugh at the people on Judge Judy that buy cars for their idiot next-door-neighbors and never get paid back), you cannot condemn them to a life of slavery because they were an idiot.

The base case in an unintended pregnancy is having no formal agreement whatsoever, in which case all rights and responsibilities for the zygote or fetus (not for the sex act) devolve on the woman because she is, by default, in custody. It's her body, after all. If there is a contractual agreement (i.e. they are MARRIED), the case is different because the contractual agreement takes precedence if the contract itself is not in some way illegal.

In sexual matters women always act as the gatekeepers simply because they have (metaphysically) more to lose. Granting a woman, legally, all rights and responsibilities and acknowledging her ability to kick the man to the curb if she so desires is simply recognition of this metaphysical fact; it gives her complete power over her life, but not one iota of power over men. I don't understand how anyone, woman especially, would want to abdicate that freedom for the sake of child support payments, any more than I understand how one could wish to abdicate freedom of choice in schooling of that child in favor of "free" mandatory public schooling.

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The use of any type of birth control is an implied statement saying 'I don't want a child'. Assuming the couple under discussion used birth control of some sort, the man has implied that he does not want a child, and the woman has implicitly agreed. At this point, the accident happens - the condom breaks, this couple is one of .01% that concieve while using the pill, etc.

Now the woman is pregnant. Neither she nor the man chose for her to be in this state - in fact, they tried to avoid it. Now she has a choice. The man does not have any choice at this stage, because it is her body. If she decides to have a baby, this is going against their implied agreement not to have a child. Therefore, he cannot be forced to care for the child.

He is not forcing her to have or not have the child. Similarly, she cannot force him to care or not care for it if she chooses to have it.

Sophia, you keep arguing that unless an agreement is reached before sex is performed, the man will have moral obligations towards the result of the act. What I think you've missed is that an agreement to use birth control, as is the case with our hypothetical couple, is an agreement to not have a child (hence the term 'birth control').

Edit: JMeganSnow, that was an excellent post. I agree wholeheartedly.

Edited by miseleigh
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So, you believe that women should not be allowed to a.) have abortions or b.) give the child up for adoption? If a woman gets pregnant, she is legally bound to have the baby and raise it to adulthood? THIS is what your statement means, whether you intended it or not. The woman is not legally bound in this manner, so why should the man be . . . on the woman's whim?

I don't believe that. I should have been more clear. My statement refered to a living child, after it is born. We have not been debating here the morality of abortion and I am certainly not against it. I am certainly not against adoption.

But I do believe that after a child is born a parent is responsible for maintaining this child's life until adulthood. Adoption is an option if a parent is not able or unwilling to do so.

If you would give consent to your friend using your car and in the process he would damage your car, he would be responsible for it. He may have done it by accident, it was not his intension, nonetheless he is responsible for creating that damage. By consenting to him using your car - you did not consent to him damaging it, although you knew it was a possibility. When he borrowed his car he also knew that accidents happen, that it is a possiblity.

If you damage someone's property (intensionally or not) - you are responsible.

It is the same thing with a woman's body. In this case two people are responsible for the damage to her body. So when that happens - if she is willing to have an abortion then I think it would be proper for a guy to offer to at least partially pay for the procedure (in case of a car, he would have to pay for fixing his friend's car). Certainly I don't think that the society should cover that bill.

But if she is not willing to have a procedure, and if he asked her in advance he would have a choice to have sex with this woman or not - he is also responsible if knowing that he went through with it. She can have rational reasons why she does not want to take the risk of creating further (that can be permanent) damage to her body. In case a child is born, if she does not give it out for an adoption - he is responsible for helping her to care for that child.

So say that a men is not responsible for the outcome of the action of sex because it is her body - is equal to saying he is not responsible for the outcome of his actions when it comes to sex. This would also apply to other forms of 'damage' to her body like disease. A man could be careless about not using protection and not be responsible for the outcome of those irresponsible actions.

I do not consider this as a huge issue. It is not hard these days to prevent pregnancy. If done properly - I think that there is less than 1% chance. Nowdays, "accidents" are usually the result of acting irresponsibly.

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What I think you've missed is that an agreement to use birth control, as is the case with our hypothetical couple, is an agreement to not have a child (hence the term 'birth control').

That would be absolutely true if birth control was 100% effective. Since it is not - the possiblity of an accident happening is a risk both people have to take into consideration and both are responsible in case of it happening.

Since fixing the problem is a further risk to woman's body - and some women may not be willing rationally to go through with it - it is not wise for a man to assume that in case of an accident she will have an abortion.

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Not analogous. The man has no vote. The woman is the ONLY one who has a vote to carry out the pregnancy, she's not simply the tiebreaker, at that point she's the only bank robber and the guy is a hostage.

And the man didn't "get her pregnant". It's been acknowledged by all sides up to this point that they BOTH got her pregnant.

He’s not a hostage, he had a vote earlier on. Maybe it was not a vote about breaking in to the bank, but it was a vote to drive there with a car load of guns.

Because sex is not just "some pleasurable thing" that your body can do, like eating cake. It is the reproductive act foiled at the last minute by technology. If we look past the words "sex" and "reproduction" and at the similarity of the concretes of each, we see that whatever we call it, we are in fact driving to the bank. So we can't claim total innocence when she decides to break in.

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If you damage someone's property (intensionally or not) - you are responsible.

An unintentional pregnancy is not damage any more than an unwanted and awkward Christmas present is. If someone gives you a horse, or property, or anything else that may involve undesired entanglements and be difficult to dispose of, that doesn't mean that they've injured you, nor are they responsible for paying for the upkeep of the horse or property if you, acting alone, decide to keep it.

A potential for future damage to your body is no more relevant than the potential for killing myself accidentally if someone gives me a sword or a chainsaw . . . or a dog, and it chews up my furniture. It's even less relevant (if there's such a thing as negative relevancy) if they gave it to you because you asked for it.

If, under the law, they retained part-ownership by making payments, you'd have the Dickens of a time getting rid of it if you didn't want it. The principle applies to a baby as well as to property.

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He’s not a hostage, he had a vote earlier on.

Yes, he is. He never voted to drive to the bank for the purpose of the robbery or with knowledge of any guns. He never voted to engage in an already immoral or evil act. Sex is not a bad thing like robbing or assisting in the robbery of a bank. Sex is not an evil act. The purpose of sex is not bound by the biological possibilities or implications, at least not for human beings. In human beings, the purpose of sex is decided by the man's mind (man generically, not the gender) and goals. I would offer that you need to look past sex as SOLELY the reproductive act.

No agreement in advance means just that, no agreement. It does not mean some tacit or implied agreement that the man intends to help rob a bank (or become a father). In fact, as was mentioned before, if they both agreed to use protection, there was definetly an implied agreement NOT to rob the bank (or become parents) no matter who drove there. The fact that she changes her mind does not mean he changed his nor should it obligate him in anyway.

The bank analogy still does not work.

Edited by RationalBiker
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An unintentional pregnancy is not damage any more than an unwanted and awkward Christmas present is. If someone gives you a horse, or property, or anything else that may involve undesired entanglements and be difficult to dispose of, that doesn't mean that they've injured you, nor are they responsible for paying for the upkeep of the horse or property if you, acting alone, decide to keep it.

In case of a gift - you have an option not to accept it. There is no damage done by simply offering a gift. It is not the same as unwanted impregnation of women's body. That is damage. It is done, you have a parasite growing in your body. Both people are responsible, not just a man - not just a woman.

Also the situation of being pregnant is not the same as you harming yourself by using a chain saw given to you as a gift. If you have been given a chain saw, and you accepted it - there are no consequences of you not taking any further action (like not using a saw). In case of pregnancy - taking no further action results in a birth of a child - which is life changing. That is damage.

Both options avilable to a woman at this point have potential of further damage to her. She is making a choice between what she thinks will damage her life less, pretty much.

And yes a father, who is making payments and wants to be a part of his child's life has a right to it. A child is not a property of anyone. Parents are not owners of a child - they are guardians. Furthermore, if a woman wanted to give a child for an adoption but a father would want instead to raise the child - he has a right to prevent that adoption from taking place. In case when both parents want custody of a child - they have to share custody, a woman does not have a right to full custody. A child is not her property.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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Yes, he is. He never voted to drive to the bank for the purpose of the robbery or with knowledge of any guns. He never voted to engage in an already immoral or evil act. Sex is not a bad thing like robbing or assisting in the robbery of a bank. Sex is not an evil act. The purpose of sex is not bound by the biological possibilities or implications, at least not for human beings. In human beings, the purpose of sex is decided by the man's mind (man generically, not the gender) and goals. I would offer that you need to look past sex as SOLELY the reproductive act.

No agreement in advance means just that, no agreement. It does not mean some tacit or implied agreement that the man intends to help rob a bank (or become a father). In fact, as was mentioned before, if they both agreed to use protection, there was definetly an implied agreement NOT to rob the bank (or become parents) no matter who drove there. The fact that she changes her mind does not mean he changed his nor should it obligate him in anyway.

The bank analogy still does not work.

When you invest money there is a risk involved of loosing it. You do not sign up or vote to loose it, you don't make an agreement to loose it but you have take the potential of that happening into consideration. The purpose of this action is not to loose money - it is a risk.

The purpose of sex may not be to get pregnant but it is a risk.

You consider the risk involved in you taking that action and then you decide if you are willing to take that action.

As with any action, you may not vote for a certain outcome but you have to consider its possiblity and in case of that happening you are responsible for your action and that outcome.

When people engage in an action in good faith, both trying to prevent certain outcome - simply taking steps to try to prevent that outcome does not remove the risk completely unless the prevention step is 100% effective. If it is not - the risk is not removed completely - just lowered.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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But if the man in the situation is responsible for it then he, too, should have veto power over it.

It's the woman's body that it happens to, but if I am now partly responsible for the state of your body then I should also be able to have an impact on further decisions. It doesn't make sense to sign away someone's life without giving him any choice in the matter whatsoever just because of one stupid mistake.

I think you are the one using a double standard now. Even though they both make the same mistake together only one of them gets to choose what happens, yet we hold the person who had no more choice to be equally responsible?

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But if the man in the situation is responsible for it then he, too, should have veto power over it.

It's the woman's body that it happens to, but if I am now partly responsible for the state of your body then I should also be able to have an impact on further decisions.

You can't because that would be a violation of her rights - we are all agree on that. Unfair? Biology is unfair - I don't want to be getting my period every month like I do. I would gladly see both sexes be able to get pregnant and give birth to an offspring. I would not like to be the only one who has to disrupt my work in order to have a family. I would also like to see some technology similar to birth control pill but for men so that I won't have to be the only one who has to drug myself with hormones (other methods are not as reliable - so it would be even more of a risk). I don't have to - I could just become a monk. Great option!

It doesn't make sense to sign away someone's life without giving him any choice in the matter whatsoever just because of one stupid mistake.

Is that also true if you make a mistake in other aspects of human interation? Should you also not be held responsible because it was one stupid mistake?

Again, a man has options. You do not sign your life away by simply having sex - we are far far from those days. You can safely engage in that activity if done responsibly. The chances of 'an accident' happening is tiny and on top of that you can further protect yourself by not engaging in sex with any woman who in case of that accident happening - is not going to abort the pregnancy.

If you are irresposible - I have no sympathy and that applies to any other 'stupid mistake' you may make, like stealing or harming someone. Sex is no different.

I think you are the one using a double standard now. Even though they both make the same mistake together only one of them gets to choose what happens, yet we hold the person who had no more choice to be equally responsible?

Again, a man has a choice. What makes you think that this is a good deal for a woman? A woman has to ether go through a risky procedure of abortion, or carry pregnancy to its full lenght and give birth (which is also risky to her health).

The stakes are higher on the side of a woman and I agree that she has to act responsibly even more so than a guy because it is her who is going to have to physically go through the whole thing but it does not mean that there is no responsiblity on the part of a man. There is no logical leap from one party having more at stakes and saying the other is therefore not responsible at all.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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There are also less risky procedures a woman can choose in a more limited time span after the sexual act. I don't think the alternative of abortion/carrying the child to term is exhaustive. You're making it sound as if all the options a woman has are equally horrible, but I do not think that is true at all. Sure, those other things leave a lot less time for deliberation but they are also less dangerous.

If she decides not to go for that then she can't complain later on that she had only less appealing choices open to her, now can she?

Edited by Maarten
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There are also less risky procedures a woman can choose in a more limited time span after the sexual act. I don't think the alternative of abortion/carrying the child to term is exhaustive. You're making it sound as if all the options a woman has are equally horrible, but I do not think that is true at all. Sure, those other things leave a lot less time for deliberation but they are also less dangerous.

If she decides not to go for that then she can't complain later on that she had only less appealing choices open to her, now can she?

I am all for a morning after pill. Absolutely. There is no reason that I can see that would justify a woman not taking the pill knowing, for example, that a condom broke. If she refuses at that point - a guy is not responsible for the care of a child that may result from that.

If abortion was as safe (and someday it will be) - I would not hold a guy responsible for her choice of not aborting a pregnancy. There would be no rational reason for not doing so.

Problem, in case of a morning after pill, is that you have only 72h in which you have to know that something went wrong. If you know (or protection was not used) - no excuse not to take that step.

We are talking here about a situation in which both people did what was possible to avoid the pregnancy and did not notice that something went wrong until later on.

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