Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Minors: Rights And Children

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I've been trying to figure this one out.

Why exactly is it that parents are obligated to keep their children alive and healthy? Why would it be a violation of the child's rights if the parent neglects to feed it, change its diapers, or even teach it language?

Is it against the child's rights for a parent to enforce curfews and whatnot?

I know the story of a girl who was chained to a chair in one room of her parents' house from when she was 3 until she was 13, and she never learned English and was barely kept alive. Her parents were arrested for child abuse, but I always saw that mainly as due to the fact that they physically restrained her in one place. What if they'd simply put her down in some place, whether in their home or not, and simply not done anything after that?

I don't know if it's sufficient to argue that the parents committed to that obligation in deciding to have a child.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 504
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I've been trying to figure this one out. 

Why exactly is it that parents are obligated to keep their children alive and healthy? 

It is essentially a moral issue, one of responsibility for one's actions. The parents gave life to the child and they are therefore responsible for the child's existence, at least until the child becomes an adult.

Why would it be a violation of the child's rights if the parent neglects to feed it, change its diapers, or even teach it language?
The responsibility of upbringing includes being a custodian for the rights of the child, and the child, via his right to life, has the right to live as human being. Giving proper care to feeding, clothing, and medical attention are essential elements of leading a proper human life. As part of that upbringing the parent needs to provide for the child what that child will need as an adult to properly survive. Obviously to "teach it language" is essential, but, more generally, to provide a proper education for the child is a requirement for that child to survive on his own as an adult.

Is it against the child's rights for a parent to enforce curfews and whatnot?

Of course not. The parent must establish the proper environment for the child, which includes setting up rules for safety and proper behavior. The parent is, in effect, acting as a custodian for the rights of the child because the child cannot make such decisions for himself.

I know the story of a girl who was chained to a chair in one room of her parents' house from when she was 3 until she was 13, and she never learned English and was barely kept alive.  Her parents were arrested for child abuse, but I always saw that mainly as due to the fact that they physically restrained her in one place.  What if they'd simply put her down in some place, whether in their home or not, and simply not done anything after that?

If you are really serious about this question -- if the answer to it is not crystal clear in your mind -- then please, I urge you, do not ever consider being a parent.

Link to post
Share on other sites
What if they'd simply put her down in some place, whether in their home or not, and simply not done anything after that?

Sounds like murder. Why don't your parents just close you up in a vault from which there is no escape and simply do nothing after that?

Link to post
Share on other sites
The parents gave life to the child and they are therefore responsible for the child's existence, at least until the child becomes an adult.
Like I said, it doesn't seem sufficient to justify the parents' responsibility by simply saying that they gave life to the child. What chain of reasoning does one follow to arrive at that conclusion?

Also, how are you defining when a child has become an adult?

because the child cannot make such decisions for himself.

How do you know when a child goes from inability to make decisions to a decision-making adult? Many adults seem to not know how to make decisions, or even how to think freely, but as far as I know, that doesn't justify allowing their parents to continue to physically control them. And just as many children seem totally capable of making their own rational decisions.

Where is the line drawn?

If you are really serious about this question -- if the answer to it is not crystal clear in your mind -- then please, I urge you, do not ever consider being a parent.

It seems right to me that a parent should have to take care of their children, but thats a feeling I can't justify as of yet. And I plan on someday having children, and treating them well and helping them become intelligent, but perhaps I'm a hypocrite for not being able to logically justify my urge to do so. And that's also why I've started this discussion.

:huh:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Like I said, it doesn't seem sufficient to justify the parents' responsibility by simply saying that they gave life to the child. What chain of reasoning does one follow to arrive at that conclusion?

As I said, in the part that you cut out, "It is essentially a moral issue, one of responsibility for one's actions." Do you not accept that we are responsible for our actions? We bring a child into the world, one who cannot survive on his own, and we assume responsibility for that act by taking care of his needs which are his by right. How much more justification do you need?

Also, how are you defining when a child has become an adult?
That is not very important considering the other issues at stake here. But, for argument's sake, I am content to take whatever the current law states, including laws for emancipation.

How do you know when a child goes from inability to make decisions to a decision-making adult?

This is a gradual process, part of the growth and transition from baby to adult. A proper upbringing encourages children to think on their own and they should be given responsibilities for decisions and actions in accordance with their mental and physical development. But, assuming normal brain functioning, then a child no longer requires a guardian for his rights when he becomes a legal adult.

It seems right to me that a parent should have to take care of their children, but thats a feeling I can't justify as of yet.  And I plan on someday having children, and treating them well and helping them become intelligent, but perhaps I'm a hypocrite for not being able to logically justify my urge to do so.  And that's also why I've started this discussion.

Okay. But when I am in a position where I lack full understanding or knowledge I still have as a backbone my common sense attitude and a whole array of values. I find it diffcult to conceive how you can consider chaining a child from age 3 to 13 to a chair in a room, a child that never learns language and is barely kept alive, as being wrong "mainly as due to the fact that they physically restrained her in one place." You then suggest that perhaps it would be okay to do the same if only not confined to such a small space. This suggests to me that not only are you unable to "logically justify my urge to do so," but also that your basic moral compass and sense of decency has gone astray. That is why I said that if you were serious about the issue that you raised, I would urge you never to have a child.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Why would it be a violation of the child's rights if the parent neglects to feed it, change its diapers, or even teach it language?

First off, parents do not teach their children language. Children learn language on their own with no instruction. Second, you're using the terms "parent" and "child" freely without thinking of who you are referring to. A 17 year of is a minor, not a child; same with a 16 year old. You can't give an absolute answer for all minors. In some cases, it is proper to completely abandon the minor so that he faces reality. Similarly, you need to distinguish "parent" in the literal sense meaning biological origin, versus in the sense of caretaker.

Is it against the child's rights for a parent to enforce curfews and whatnot?
For instance... The parent has a right to enforce a curfew stemming from two considerations. First, the parent has a responsibility to keep the child safe and exercise judgement that the child lacks. Second, the state imposes on the part a derivative responsibility for the actions of the child. In addition, the state imposes the curfew (if you doubt this, do the research) and thus the parent has a completely rational obligation to enforce a curfew on the child. As I told my son, "the one thing you may not do is get us in trouble with the law for something you have done".

I know the story of a girl who was chained to a chair in one room of her parents' house from when she was 3 until she was 13, and she never learned English and was barely kept alive.  Her parents were arrested for child abuse, but I always saw that mainly as due to the fact that they physically restrained her in one place.  What if they'd simply put her down in some place, whether in their home or not, and simply not done anything after that?

Her father, who committed suicide before he appeared in court, was primarily to blame. The chaining was not the whole story: he would also beat her if she made any noise. So while the chaining was a reason for prosecuting him, the beating was also a sufficient basis for prosecution.

I think you are focusing on the rights and prosecution issue too intently. Pay more attention to what a person should do, and less attention to when it's okay to call the police with guns blazing to enforce a moral code. When a woman gets pregnant and decides to carry the fetus to term, if she is acting rationally then she will understand the consequences of the act of bringing a new human into the world. If the pregnancy is an accident, or if she realises that she is not capable of doing what needs to be dont to bring the fetus to the status of independent rational being, then she is morally obligated to terminate the pregnancy. This is one reason why it is mandatory that abortion be legal. Given that the woman does indeed have alternatives to bringing a child into existence, then the fact that she has not exercised the option of terminating the pregnancy is clear implicit evidence that she has accepted the consequences of bringing a pregnancy to term.

Infants and children up to a point do require things that they themselves are incapable of providing, even if freely left to their own devices (note that Genie was not left alone by any means). The decision to continue a pregnancy is (or should be) a recognition of what those things are, and should constitute a commitment to provide the things that the child is not capable of providing on his own. If you recognise that this is not possible, terminate the pregnancy.

Above I mentioned the distinction between a biological parent and a caretaker. It is a fact than in some cases, a person turns out to not actually be capable of providing those things for the child, and this is not known in time for an abortion. In that circumstance, when the parent cannot provide what is metaphysically necessary for the child's survival, then the parent should give the child to the voluntary care and custodianship of someone who can satisfy those needs. They should not kill the child or abuse the child as a way of avoiding the problem. The question of responsibilities then should not focus on the parent, but rather on the caregiver -- who normally is the parent, but may be a grandparent, adoptive parent, uncle, neighbor, interested friend or interested stranger, or charitable institution. If you have a child that you cannot properly raise, you have the right to give the child to another person who is able to do what you cannot do. Let me emphasize the "cannot" as opposed to "don't feel like".

The issue of what to do with 14-18 year olds is interesting but marginal. The real question is, is this person capable of comprehending facts and integrating them via the faculty of reason to decide which actions to take? You cannot demand that a person be omniscient before they have rights --then nobody would have rights. You cannot demand that they be college-smart before granting the person rights. The essential test should be whether a person grasps the relationship between actions and the consequences of actions. But I'm afraid that that would deprive a lot of congressmen of their rights. I've known 14 year old adults, and 22 year old children. In this case, you should me more interested in the rights of the parent rather than the rights of the child.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is an analogy:

You go up to a random person, break his legs with a crowbar, thereby rendering him an invalid. You are required to compensate this person, pay damages, and do what it takes to get him back to self-sufficiency.

Similarly, when you bring a child into this world, you are essentially creating a person who is not self-sufficient and YOU are responsible for bringing it to self-sufficiency, just as you are with the invalid.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a gradual process, part of the growth and transition from baby to adult. But, assuming normal brain functioning, then a child no longer requires a guardian for his rights when he becomes a legal adult.

Stephen:

That makes sense, that the child no longer requires assistance/guardianship, but when does the parent no longer have the right to impose rules? A parent might forbid his child from, say, engaging in time-consuming activities that hinder the child's education when the child is too young to know how to organize his time and whatnot, but what if a parent a parent misjudge's the child's ability to make decisions, and continues this when the child is rather old, say 16 or 17, and forbids the teenager from holding a job, or travelling, or something? Does the parent still have the right to impose such restrictions, due to his status of guardianship? Francisco D'anconia held his first job when he was 12, and I believe that that was against the knowledge of his guardians.

I find it diffcult to conceive how you can consider chaining a child from age 3 to 13 to a chair in a room, a child that never learns language and is barely kept alive, as being wrong "mainly as due to the fact that they physically restrained her in one place." You then suggest that perhaps it would be okay to do the same if only not confined to such a small space. This suggests to me that not only are you unable to "logically justify my urge to do so," but also that your basic moral compass and sense of decency has gone astray.

I'm sorry for being misleading. I didn't think that those abusive parents were only wrong "due to the fact that they physically restrained her in one place"; I thought that that was the only reason that they were arrested. And I certainly don't feel that it's "okay to do the same" if they only removed the physical restraints. I was partially playing devil's advocate by posing that question. As I said before, I feel that treating children in such a way is wrong, but I hadn't been able to figure out the justification for such a feeling. Besides, I think I understand your argument now.

Second, you're using the terms "parent" and "child" freely without thinking of who you are referring to. A 17 year of is a minor, not a child; same with a 16 year old. You can't give an absolute answer for all minors.
Link to post
Share on other sites

That makes sense, that the child no longer requires assistance/guardianship, but when does the parent no longer have the right to impose rules?

When the child becomes an adult the parent is no longer the guardian so therefore cannot claim an inherent right to impose rules. However, even when the child is an adult there are certain conditional circumstances under which the parent may claim a right to impose rules. For instance, the condition may be: "You are 18 and an adult but if you want to continue living in my home then there are certain rules that you must obey." But, clearly that is different from the circumstances of being a guardian of a child's rights.

I was partially playing devil's advocate by posing that question.

It is usually a good idea to make that explict, especially considering the horrendous circumstances you described of the child being chained.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Stephen seems to have been saying that one can't do so until the kid turns 18.  Or 16, if you live in Europe.

My point wasn't about what the law says, but about the facts regarding people under 18. The magic age was 21 a few decades ago, and I don't think any facts about "children" changed, rather, it was recognised that the "people are children until they have their 21st birthday" viewpoint was not just arbitrary, but unjustifiably so. For better or worse, 18 is what we have in the US, because some clear line of demarkation has to be made under the law. The courts do have the power (and rightly so) to recognise that one size does not fit all, and they use it.

That's a big part of the sticky issue: how do you tell when it's right to assume the child has the ability to exercise judgment?  The guardian might misjudge and assume the minor, at a later stage, still has no judgment and impose unjust rules; or he might misjudge and assume the minor has already gained judgment when he hasn't, and use unjust neglect.
But that problem exists for every decision -- you might be wrong. Because the possibility of error is universal, it is irrelevant. You shouldn't assume anything; instead, you should conclude, based on the evidence. It's the same way you know whether it's okay to leave the child without a babysitter, by observing whether the child shows the degree of maturity needed to let them be alone in the house for an hour or a day without constant supervision.

I was understanding and agreeing with you up to this point.  What a couple or a single pregnant woman got pregnant by accident, and for some reason or another, didn't have an abortion in time, but decided that they don't want to go through the sacrifice of raising a child?  It clearly is a long and difficult committment.  Clearly they shouldn't kill or abuse the child, but why can't they find someone do adopt the child either?  If a couple/parent is constantly annoyed by the fact that they have to deal with a needy, dependent child, not only would their negative feelings and attitude have a very negative effect on the child, but I don't see why it would be immoral to find someone else to adopt the child.

The main issue is whether the parent takes the commitment to child-raising seriously. So what about this "some reason or other" that the mother did not have an abortion? Okay, you can come up with a bizarre scenario where a woman gets pregnant and the next day slips into a coma, and only wakes up during the delivery. Then she has had no chance to think seriously about whether she is willing to commit to raising a child. Set aside such a scenario -- I am saying that there is the better part of a year when she can think very seriously about whether she wants to bring a life into the world, and it needs to be a decision made with full cognisance of reality. If the father is Hunky Scott, the quarterback, and Tiffany the Cheerleader Mommy-to-be has some crazy conditional ideas like "I can do this -- as long as Scotty marries me", then Tiffany is not facing reality. The answer should be "I will do this, period".

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a question I've thought about, and have never seen satisfactorily addressed from an Objectivist perspective. (I was getting near to starting a similar thread myself.) The difficulty I have, which has been approached but not explicitly stated on this thread, is that the Objectivist validation of the right to life breaks down when applied to children. Children, and I'm talking about infants/newborns here, don't possess a developed rational faculty in any practical sense. (Research has shown that the rational faculty is not fully developed until sometime after puberty.) The idea that each man is an end unto himself depends on the possession of a rational faculty, and thus it seems children cannot possess a right to life. In order maintain the right to life with respect to children, it would have to be dependent not on a functioning rational consciousness, but on the potential for the development of such a consciousness. This explicitly contradicts the Objectivist justification for abortion, which issue I view as closely related to this one. (Metaphysically, the only difference between a newborn and a fetus is that the newborn is no longer dependent on any particular person for its survival, though it is obviously still dependent on some person or persons.)

Unless I'm misunderstanding either a) the validation of the right to life, which I doubt, or B) the nature of a newborn's consciousness, which may be more likely, the right to life cannot be validated with respect to a newborn. All the explanations given above, C-Wolf’s "invalid" analogy and the idea of the parent as guardian of the child’s rights, presuppose the existence of the natural rights of the child.

The notion of the child being the parents' responsibility due to their choice to bear the child seems most likely to hold up, but this would be nearer to contract rights than natural rights, and this explanation holds its own problems. The "contract" would be entered by the unilateral choice of the parents, rather than by consent of both parties, which is obviously impossible with respect to the child. Additionally, the right to enter into a contract, like all other rights, derives from the right to life. What this explanation has in its favor is that both parties should gain some value from the relationship: the child has its needs taken care of, and the parents, if they had the child for morally acceptable reasons, i.e. for selfish reasons, gain some value from the experience of raising the child.

Ultimately, the question comes down to whether the child is an end in itself or a means to the ends of others. Clearly, the child is born of the parents' choice, as a means to their ends. That the child has its own interests which may be harmed by the parents' actions, by abuse, neglect, etc., is undeniable. A parent who is actively hostile toward their child's welfare is simultaneously hostile toward whatever end for which they chose to have the child in the first place, assuming they chose those ends, and the child as means, rationally. But on what basis are the welfare and interests of the child elevated to the status of rights? On what basis are abuse and neglect to be prosecuted? To be clear, I believe they should be; I’m not trying to play devil's advocate here. I just can't seem to validate that belief. (Go ahead. Call me a raving emotionalist.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Children, and I'm talking about infants/newborns here, don't possess a developed rational faculty in any practical sense. (Research has shown that the rational faculty is not fully developed until sometime after puberty.)

Sez who??

Children absolutely DO have a rational faculty which they can exercise at a later time and that's why they have rights. A sleeping adult can't exercise his rational faculty but he has rights too and for the same reason.

As for when the rational faculty is "developed," that happens long before puberty. A child begins to abstract, integrate, and form ostensively-defined concepts about the age of 18 months and begins to use logic and abstract from abstractions around 5-7 years of age. That's all the rational functionality an adult will ever have. All other differences are due to an adult's greater experience.

The idea that each man is an end unto himself depends on the possession of a rational faculty, and thus it seems children cannot possess a right to life. In order maintain the right to life with respect to children, it would have to be dependent not on a functioning rational consciousness, but on the potential for the development of such a consciousness. This explicitly contradicts the Objectivist justification for abortion, which issue I view as closely related to this one. (Metaphysically, the only difference between a newborn and a fetus is that the newborn is no longer dependent on any particular person for its survival, though it is obviously still dependent on some person or persons.)
A fetus is totally human and has a rational faculty, but it is not a being until it is born. Rights are for human beings. Animals don't have rights because they are not human. Fetuses do not have rights because they are not beings.

Unless I'm misunderstanding either a) the validation of the right to life, which I doubt, or :) the nature of a newborn's consciousness, which may be more likely, the right to life cannot be validated with respect to a newborn. All the explanations given above, C-Wolf’s "invalid" analogy and the idea of the parent as guardian of the child’s rights, presuppose the existence of the natural rights of the child.

The child is a human (rational potential) being (independent organism) and has all the rights an adult has.

The notion of the child being the parents' responsibility due to their choice to bear the child seems most likely to hold up, but this would be nearer to contract rights than natural rights, and this explanation holds its own problems.
It is a moral and legal responsibility as a result of the parents chosen actions. In this respect it is more like a trusteeship.

The "contract" would be entered by the unilateral choice of the parents, rather than by consent of both parties, which is obviously impossible with respect to the child.

That's the way a trusteeship is set up. The consent of the beneficiary of the trust is not required.

But on what basis are the welfare and interests of the child elevated to the status of rights?
The child is a human being.

On what basis are abuse and neglect to be prosecuted?

It is a violation of the trustee's fiduciary responsibility.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Betsy:

Thanks for helping me check my premises. The "trusteeship" idea makes the most sense and is nearest to what I had in mind. The only difficulty I had was validating the child's right to life. Once established, the rest follows from that. I'm going to have to go back and try to find where I read the part about the rational faculty not being fully (note the key word "fully") developed until after puberty. The "sleeping man" analogy did occur to me as I was writing my original post. I didn't mention it, because I couldn't specifically define its relationship to the question at hand, since it was my understanding that rights could not be based on a potential, whether the potential for "being" or the potential for rationality.

Link to post
Share on other sites
But that problem exists for every decision -- you might be wrong. Because the possibility of error is universal, it is irrelevant. You shouldn't assume anything; instead, you should conclude, based on the evidence. It's the same way you know whether it's okay to leave the child without a babysitter, by observing whether the child shows the degree of maturity needed to let them be alone in the house for an hour or a day without constant supervision.

That's true. But doesn't that mean that parent(s) shouldn't necessarily be permitted by law to be in charge of their children solidly until the age of 18? Shouldn't it be something more along the lines of "until the parent/guardian deems the child self-sustaining"? Because, otherwise, it seems like the law might be allowing a gaurdian to inflict unjust rules on a "child" simply because of the guardian's poor judgment about the child/teenager's independence.

So what about this "some reason or other" that the mother did not have an abortion? Okay, you can come up with a bizarre scenario...
I don't think it's a bizarre situation for a woman to either not have the financial means to get an abortion (although then she probably wouldn't be able to raise it either and then would be justified in giving the baby up for adoption), or if the woman initially thinks she wants to raise the child and then decides against it only after it's too late to get an abortion. But either way, it's not as if bizarre scenarios should be exempt from ethical analysis.

The answer should be "I will do this, period".

My question to you was why that should be the answer. Why is a woman or a couple not justified in giving a baby up for adoption if their reason is "merely" that they don't want to give up all the time and effort and money?

I'd also been wondering the same things as Evangelical Capitalist, but Betsy cleared them up.

The one question I have remaining from reading EC's and Betsy's exchange, is that how do you determine whether or not someone does indeed have a "rational potential"? Are there humans (members of the species homo sapiens) who don't have such a faculty, such as severely mentally handicapped people (who might so handicapped as to not have the ability to use or fully understand language)? If you define "rational faculty" as the ability to form abstract concepts, etc., then such people might not have rights in your (Betsy's) definitions.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think it's a bizarre situation for a woman to either not have the financial means to get an abortion (although then she probably wouldn't be able to raise it either and then would be justified in giving the baby up for adoption), or if the woman initially thinks she wants to raise the child and then decides against it only after it's too late to get an abortion.  But either way, it's not as if bizarre scenarios should be exempt from ethical analysis.

It's still very unlikely with all the free women's clinics and charities.

My question to you was why that should be the answer.  Why is a woman or a couple not justified in giving a baby up for adoption if their reason is "merely" that they don't want to give up all the time and effort and money?

I think it's a great reason for giving a child up for adoption. It shows a realistic attitude on the part of the biological mother and a willingness to do what is best for the child.

The one question I have remaining from reading EC's and Betsy's exchange, is that how do you determine whether or not someone does indeed have a "rational potential"?  Are there humans (members of the species homo sapiens) who don't have such a faculty, such as severely mentally handicapped people (who might so handicapped as to not have the ability to use or fully understand language)?  If you define "rational faculty" as the ability to form abstract concepts, etc., then such people might not have rights in your (Betsy's) definitions.

Occasionally babies are born without a functioning brain and this is a borderline case. The parents are still responsible for taking ordinary care of a defective child, but not extraordinary care. The same is true of retarded children who have a rational capacity, but a severely limited one.

Thankfully, most children are born normal. For those who aren't, expectant parents should be able to buy "birth insurance" to pay for the special care an impaired child might require.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Occasionally babies are born without a functioning brain and this is a borderline case.  The parents are still responsible for taking ordinary care of a defective child, but not extraordinary care.  The same is true of retarded children who have a rational capacity, but a severely limited one.

That is why I am in favor of amnio centesis, genetic testing and abortion. I for one would never want to bring such a child into the world.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Alright, in my many hours spent pondering objectivism, and furthermore, the question of "would a truly objectivist government/economy work", I'm often brought back to one question:

In a hands-off economy, will there not always be severe abuses? I think it should be clear that some of the industrial methods of the early 19th century where wrong- industrial "towns" in which housing is provided for workers and workers families, but is deducted from pay, and the pay is kept at a rate which insures generations and generations of workers will little to no chance of ever advancing one's position in life, no matter how hard working or able they may be. And the inevitable child labor- children are biologically different from adults, and cannot healithly meet a 40 (or 60, or more) work week, especially in hard industrial conditions. And what of monopolies? It seems somewhat clear that within several decades, we could have a veritable Ultra-Monopoly, with nearly every commerical aspect of the country being ruled by one or two enormous corporations. And then, at the bottom of all this- one cannot deny the scientific fact that some individuals are born with certain chemical unbalances that make them bad, bad people (maliciously cruel and inhuman). Look at cases of anti-social personality disorder, or violent schiztophrenia. Imagine the CEO of one of those mega-corps (which the government has no control over, whatsoever) being a rather nasty sociopath. Perhaps this individual has no ethic or moral code whatsoever- why bother with things like product advancement, research, development? What you end up with, is a dictator.

I'd like to add that I believe as an objectivist, it's my moral duty to never accept anything that came before me. Instead, I must seek to improve and create something better and new. I'v been lurking this forum for several weeks now, and it seems like some wish to follow Ayn Rand's teachings in an almost blind manner, as if Atlas Shrugged was a manuel(or bible) for all life. Isn't perfection something never to be achieved, but always to be stroven for?

Ok, looking forward too all the insightfull replies!

Edited by softwareNerd
Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of your concerns have already been addressed extensively on this forum. I suggest doing a search for "monopolies," "child labor," etc.

I'd like to add that I believe as an objectivist, it's my moral duty to never accept anything that came before me...

As an Objectivist, you shouldn't believe in any moral "duties."

...Instead, I must seek to improve and create something better and new. I'v been lurking this forum for several weeks now, and it seems like some wish to follow Ayn Rand's teachings in an almost blind manner, as if Atlas Shrugged was a manuel(or bible) for all life.
This, from someone who thinks Objectivism imposes moral "duties" on him? :P

Isn't perfection something never to be achieved, but always to be stroven for?

That sounds awfully Christian. You should strive for perfection precisely because you can achieve it!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alright, in my many hours spent pondering objectivism, and furthermore, the question of "would a truly objectivist government/economy work", I'm often brought back to one question:

In a hands-off economy, will there not always be severe abuses? I think it should be clear that some of the industrial methods of the early 19th century where wrong- industrial "towns" in which housing is provided for workers and workers families, but is deducted from pay, and the pay is kept at a rate which insures generations and generations of workers will little to no chance of ever advancing one's position in life, no matter how hard working or able they may be. And the inevitable child labor- children are biologically different from adults, and cannot healithly meet a 40 (or 60, or more) work week, especially in hard industrial conditions. And what of monopolies? It seems somewhat clear that within several decades, we could have a veritable Ultra-Monopoly, with nearly every commerical aspect of the country being ruled by one or two enormous corporations. And then, at the bottom of all this- one cannot deny the scientific fact that some individuals are born with certain chemical unbalances that make them bad, bad people (maliciously cruel and inhuman). Look at cases of anti-social personality disorder, or violent schiztophrenia. Imagine the CEO of one of those mega-corps (which the government has no control over, whatsoever) being a rather nasty sociopath. Perhaps this individual has no ethic or moral code whatsoever- why bother with things like product advancement, research, development? What you end up with, is a dictator.

You obviously have fallen prey to the typical lies about capitalism. The examples you use are like another socialist/communist rant about exploitation, long working hours, low wages, child labor, evil monopolies, etc...

I suggest you ground yourself on good economics. Then you'll understand why such things are actually NOT the result of laissez-faire capitalism. Read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, for the best intro.

And as for your "question": Of course there will be abuses--the system is not made to ensure absolute and universal perfection, but freedom for those who want to achieve perfection.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Most of your concerns have already been addressed extensively on this forum.  I suggest doing a search for "monopolies," "child labor," etc.

As an Objectivist, you shouldn't believe in any moral "duties."

This, from someone who thinks Objectivism imposes moral "duties" on him?  :P

That sounds awfully Christian.  You should strive for perfection precisely because you can achieve it!

What?? Progress is the act of always seeking to improve upon what came before you, but you can never achieve perfection. It's an ideal, not something tangible. You strive for it or stagnate. And, please don't do the mechanics-police thing. I'll admit, I chose a bad use of words, all I meant by 'duty' was- If i'm going to be truthfull to myself and my ethics, which are based on reason, i'm going to always strive to better what came before me, and create things that wheren't there at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites
You obviously have fallen prey to the typical lies about capitalism. The examples you use are like another socialist/communist rant about exploitation, long working hours, low wages, child labor, evil monopolies, etc...

I suggest you ground yourself on good economics.  Then you'll understand why such things are actually NOT the result of laissez-faire capitalism.  Read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, for the best intro.

And as for your "question":  Of course there will be abuses--the system is not made to ensure absolute and universal perfection, but freedom for those who want to achieve perfection.

What do you mean "socialist/communist" rant? Are you denying that such things HAVE happened in the past, and are extremely likely to occur if allowed too? Don't we have to realistically look at the idea of a sadistic ethicless commercial leader? Slavery has many forms, and i'm not to arrogant to admit that it could exist under a system labeled "free market". The question is, in a free economy, how do we prevent from things like this happening? Should we prevent things like this from happening? Do you dissagree that power corrupts?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you denying that such things HAVE happened in the past, and are extremely likely to occur if allowed too?

The things you name: child labor, poor working conditions, etc. were not so much products of capitalism as they were inherited by capitalism. By the time child labor was outlawed, it was already on the decline; a decline made possible by the increased productivity that capitalism brought. When child labor was prevalent, the alternative for those children may well have been starvation. The alternative to poor working conditions was abject poverty, again, a condition created by the pre-capitalist era.

Slavery has many forms, and i'm not to arrogant to admit that it could exist under a system labeled "free market"... Do you dissagree that power corrupts?

It is true that slavery has many forms. That doesn't mean that anything you assert to be slavery is slavery. It does not mean that all power is enslavement. It does not mean that eating your cake and not having it too is slavery. Slavery is a condition under which man's life and the product of his effort do not belong to him. This condition necessarily requires the use of coercive force to keep man in such a state. In a free economy, such force is banned. A worker is free at any time to leave his job and seek any alternatives that may be open to him. Slavery is precisely what can not exist under a free economy. To sugggest otherwise is to fail to distiguish between the power of trade and the power of force or coercion. Economic power is the ability to offer value in exchange for value. No one can force anyone else to engage in such a trade. It must be voluntary for both parties. Again, such is the nature of a free economy. The root of economic power, of offering value for value, is production, the ability to create value to offer. Your "sadistic ethicless commercial leader" isn't going to produce very much, nor for very long, nor will others be willing engage in trade with him.

Link to post
Share on other sites
What?? Progress is the act of always seeking to improve upon what came before you, but you can never achieve perfection. It's an ideal, not something tangible. You strive for it or stagnate.

The proper standard for "perfection" is that which man can achieve here on Earth, not some unreachable "ideal" in heaven. If you derive standards that are not based on the nature of man and the facts of reality, then indeed "perfection" will not be possible. But a proper standard is based on what is real, not some irrational fantasy. As far as incorporating Objectivism into one's life is concerned, nothing less than moral perfection is required.

Link to post
Share on other sites
As far as incorporating Objectivism into one's life is concerned, nothing less than moral perfection is required.

I agree there, I was reffering more to the idea of scientific and philosophical progress.

Incredibly intresting feedback, gotta love this place.

On a side note, I picked up 'Selfishness as a virtue'. 'Philospohy: who needs it' and 'The new left- the anti industrial revolution' Looking foward to reading them all!

Link to post
Share on other sites
What do you mean "socialist/communist" rant? Are you denying that such things HAVE happened in the past, and are extremely likely to occur if allowed too? Don't we have to realistically look at the idea of a sadistic ethicless commercial leader? Slavery has many forms, and i'm not to arrogant to admit that it could exist under a system labeled "free market". The question is, in a free economy, how do we prevent from things like this happening? Should we prevent things like this from happening? Do you dissagree that power corrupts?

Read what I said carefully. I didn't say they didn't exist. I said they were "NOT the result of laissez-faire capitalism.

And as others have already mentioned: such "exploitation" as long working hours, low wages, child labor, poor working conditions, were the result of a LOW PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOR, and were gradually eliminated as the productivity of labor rapidly and continuously rose since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They were not manifestions of the sadism of capitalists. The industrialists/capitalists were the ones who actually worked continually to raise the low productivity of labor inherited from the Industrial Revolution. Just study some good, basic economic theory and economic history for confirmation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...