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Can't this same argument be made in respect of a fetus? At least one which has the capacity to reason? Is it lack of a physical attachment to the mother alone which creates the rights of a child?
No, it cannot (and even if it could, that would not be a basis for dismissing it).

The rights of a child stem from its identity as an infant rational being.

A fetus is not only not a human being, it is not even a being. It is part of a woman's body.

The purpose of deriving rights is to identify the conditions of existence required for the survival of actual human beings. A pregnant woman is an actual human being. A fetus is merely a potential human being. To ascribe rights to a potential being that trump the rights of an actual human being, is to turn the entire concept of rights on its head.

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"A pregnant woman is an actual human being. A fetus is merely a potential human being. To ascribe rights to a potential being that trump the rights of an actual human being, is to turn the entire concept of rights on its head. "

And the basis on which you say that the fetus is merely a potential human being is that it is still attached to the mother by way of an umbilical cord. Correct?

I agree that rights cannot be ascribed to a potential human being. The difficulty I am having is seeing why it is you say that the attachment to the mother is the key ingredient in terms of defining it as a being. Why that over the ability to speak? or the ability to fend for oneself?

If softwareNerd is saying that it is a matter of drawing a line that needs to be drawn, then the moment of birth seems arbitrary to me.

If I am crossing a line that has been drawn, let me know.

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The rights of a child stem from its identity as an infant rational being.

Isn't a fetus an infant infant rational being then?

A fetus is not only not a human being, it is not even a being. It is part of a woman's body.

If you were to take a fetus out of a woman's body a week before its natural birth, it could survive pretty much as well as a child. Would it have rights?

If so, then why would leaving it in the womb for that extra week eliminate its rights?

The purpose of deriving rights is to identify the conditions of existence required for the survival of actual human beings. A pregnant woman is an actual human being. A fetus is merely a potential human being. To ascribe rights to a potential being that trump the rights of an actual human being, is to turn the entire concept of rights on its head.

That all depends on how you define "human being." If you define it as "a rational animal that uses conceptual intelligence to purposefully further its own existence," then no, a fetus is not a human being, but neither is a child. If you define it as "a rational animal that uses conceptual intelligence to purposefully further its own existence, which develops from a child which develops from a fetus, and is created by the purposeful act of procreation," then a fetus is absolutely a human being.

I don't really care if it turns your concept of rights upside down to recognize that men develop from fetuses, and therefore fetuses are premature men. We can either decide that this particular parasite has the right to live qua parasite, because it's a part of the survival requirements of man to exist temporarily as this parasite, or we can decide that these parasites must be subject to the same rights as any other parasite, and depend on the charitable sentiments of their hosts in order to not be violating their rights.

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"A pregnant woman is an actual human being. A fetus is merely a potential human being. To ascribe rights to a potential being that trump the rights of an actual human being, is to turn the entire concept of rights on its head. "

And the basis on which you say that the fetus is merely a potential human being is that it is still attached to the mother by way of an umbilical cord. Correct?

Yes, it is not a separate being until it is born. A "being" is a biologically independent, self-contained entity. A fetus is no more a being than an arm or a heart or a tumor.

I agree that rights cannot be ascribed to a potential human being. The difficulty I am having is seeing why it is you say that the attachment to the mother is the key ingredient in terms of defining it as a being. Why that over the ability to speak? or the ability to fend for oneself?
Because the ability to speak or the ability to fend for oneself are derivatives, i.e. they are consequences and capabilities that arise from the fact that one is a rational being.

If softwareNerd is saying that it is a matter of drawing a line that needs to be drawn, then the moment of birth seems arbitrary to me.
It is only arbitrary if you discount the fact that the moment of birth is the first moment a biologically independent, self-contained, conscious, rational being comes into existence.
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Isn't a fetus an infant infant rational being then?
No. A fetus is not a being.

If you were to take a fetus out of a woman's body a week before its natural birth, it could survive pretty much as well as a child. Would it have rights?

If so, then why would leaving it in the womb for that extra week eliminate its rights?

The difference between being in the womb and being out of the womb is not like the difference between being in the kitchen and being in the living room. See my last post.

That all depends on how you define "human being." If you define it as "a rational animal that uses conceptual intelligence to purposefully further its own existence," then no, a fetus is not a human being, but neither is a child. If you define it as "a rational animal that uses conceptual intelligence to purposefully further its own existence, which develops from a child which develops from a fetus, and is created by the purposeful act of procreation," then a fetus is absolutely a human being.
Neither of those definitions is correct. Man is a "rational animal". Rational, in this context, does not mean "always exercising one's rational faculty" or "always acting in accordance with reason." Rational means, possessing the faculty of reason, even if one is still in the process of learning to use it.

A child, in addition to qualifying as a "being", is able to begin learning how to use its rational faculty. A fetus, in addition to not qualifying as a "being", is not. Just one more distinction.

I don't really care if it turns your concept of rights upside down to recognize that men develop from fetuses, and therefore fetuses are premature men.
You are free to disregard the purpose and derivation of rights.

We can either decide that this particular parasite has the right to live qua parasite, because it's a part of the survival requirements of man to exist temporarily as this parasite, or we can decide that these parasites must be subject to the same rights as any other parasite, and depend on the charitable sentiments of their hosts in order to not be violating their rights
In the first place, you are equivocating on the term "parasite". An infant is not a parasite in the same sense as a fetus. Taking in one's own air, eating and digesting one's own food, learning how to focus one's own eyes, i.e. learning how to see -- these are fundamental, significant differences in the actions of those "in the womb" and those "out of the womb".

More important, a fetus is not a being, much less a rational being, so the concept of rights does not apply. Unlike the situation with an infant, the fact that we are dealing with something that is not a being makes it irrelevant that all men had to pass through the fetus stage, in the same way and for the same reason that it is irrelevant that all men had to pass through the stage of being an undifferentiated mass of cells attached to the wall of the womb and that those cells had to first be an egg and a sperm.

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What is it with the obsession with "the line?" Why does knowing "the line" help with determining whether a child has rights?! Can someone please tell me how "the line" is at all relevant?

Because on this forum, it's accepted that fetuses don't have rights, and men do. We've worked toward the idea that being a child is a necessary component to the survival requirements of man. If so, then a child might have the right to live qua child, and this right should be recognized and protected.

But being a fetus is also one of the components to survival qua man. Thus, we are debating why the fetus shouldn't have rights, but the child should, especially when both are parasites. It's ok to say that a child can exist qua child if its parent wants it to, because there are no conflicts in rights there.

The conflicts seem to arise from the fact that a child requires value from the parent. If the parent doesn't want to give that value, then, if what we believe is true, it would be unethical to force the parent to provide that value.

We seem to be progressing toward the idea that it's negligent to have a child and not care for it. If this is the case, then the "infringement" of the parents' "rights" is simply a moral response to the parents failure to recognize the rights of the child.

However, a large portion of the board does not accept that a fetus has the right to live qua fetus, and therefore it's important that we can understand why a fetus is different than a child in a way that disposes of its rights. If it's negligent to have a child and not care for it, then why is it not negligent to have sex which results in conception, and kill the result?

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What is it with the obsession with "the line?" Why does knowing "the line" help with determining whether a child has rights?! Can someone please tell me how "the line" is at all relevant?

I share your frustration that they don't understand what has been clearly stated many times over, but "the line" is eminently relevant... to the abortion issue. Which is off-topic to this thread. :)

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More important, a fetus is not a being, much less a rational being, so the concept of rights does not apply. Unlike the situation with an infant, the fact that we are dealing with something that is not a being makes it irrelevant that all men had to pass through the fetus stage, in the same way and for the same reason that it is irrelevant that all men had to pass through the stage of being an undifferentiated mass of cells attached to the wall of the womb and that those cells had to first be an egg and a sperm.

Why is not being a being important? It seems that you're saying that it has no rights because it's not a being, and for a non-being to have rights would be ridiculous. Why?

The egg and the sperm were united by willful action. That's a significant event. They then become a mass of undifferentiated cells, which begins to form into human form. That's not really that significant. Eventually, the fetus leaves the womb, but doesn't really undergo any changes that are significant to that which distinguishes man from animal at this stage.

The fact that humans are beings might not matter here as much as you think. Beings don't necessarily have rights. Humans that are on life support have rights. Humans on life support aren't really that different from fetuses, in terms of their being beings.

That's just another reason to establish where we draw the line and why.

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Why is not being a being important? It seems that you're saying that it has no rights because it's not a being, and for a non-being to have rights would be ridiculous. Why?
If one is not a "being", then one is not a "human being". If anything merely "human" can be said to have rights, then any cell in the human body qualifies.

It is only "beings", more specifically rational beings, that face choices about how to interact with other rational beings. The purpose of rights is to define the proper relationships between these rational beings.

The relationship between a rational being and any of its body parts is strictly up to the rational being involved.

Eventually, the fetus leaves the womb, but doesn't really undergo any changes that are significant to that which distinguishes man from animal at this stage.
This is simply not true. From the moment of birth forward, the infant can begin to learn how to use its rational faculty, something it could not do before that point. That is certainly "significant to that which distinguishes man from animal". It involves the very essence of what distinguishes man from animal.
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but "the line" is eminently relevant... to the abortion issue. Which is off-topic to this thread. :dough:

We have a winner. People, this thread was split off from the abortion thread for a reason. I agree with AisA's assertion that a fetus is not a being. If anyone wishes to discuss that further, please do it in the abortion thread. A biologically independent child, however, is indisputably a being. The discussion in this thread should focus on what rights, if any, this biologically independent being has, given that its nature is different from a grown man with a fully developed rational faculty.

Again: What rights, if any, does a child--a biologically independent being--have, given that its nature is different (at least for a time) from a grown man with a fully developed rational faculty?

Answering this question requires no discussion of the nature of a fetus.

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What rights, if any, does a child--a biologically independent being--have, given that its nature is different (at least for a time) from a grown man with a fully developed rational faculty?

I’d like to state emphatically that children have no fewer or more rights than any other rational volitional being (probably redundant). No special rights. There is one set of rights, we all possess the same ones.

Children’s underdeveloped nature confers no additional rights. It is only their nature as rational beings that has any bearing on the issue.

Instead the issue bears directly on ethics, on choice. The only way that the metaphysical nature of children is overcome is by freewill. The fact that children are unable to take all of the actions required in order to be responsible for themselves by exercising their rights -- means -- that someone must volunteer to take that action for them.

Parents, of their own free will, choose to be the guardians of their children’s rights. Once you are the guardian of someone’s rights, with all of the responsibilities that implies, you cannot then violate their rights by not taking the action you promised. You may transfer your responsibilities to a willing party. But you may not shirk the responsibility of action required in the exercise of rights.

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Okay, let me try to see if I can end this:

The common concern of the "opposition" seems to be:

If a child has the right to material support from his parents, why does he not have the right to demand support from anyone else?

It is clear to me at least that nobody here says that they do.

And, to those of the opposition, why do you suppose that it follows from the premises of AisA, Felipe, SoftwareNerd, RationalCop, myself, and others, that children do have this right, even though we have explicitly stated that children may only demand support from their parents?

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I’d like to state emphatically that children have no fewer or more rights than any other rational volitional being (probably redundant). No special rights. There is one set of rights, we all possess the same ones.

Children’s underdeveloped nature confers no additional rights. It is only their nature as rational beings that has any bearing on the issue.

(Emphasis added.)Their nature as rational beings is precisely why children are "underdeveloped". Why is this aspect of their nature as rational beings irrelevant, while other aspects are not?

And if a child's rights are exactly the same as an adult's, then any interference in a child's actions is a violation of his rights. Forcing a child to stay home and do his homework, for instance, is a violation of his right to freedom and constitutes kidnapping. Correct?

If a child's rights are the same as an adult's, a 10 year old girl has a right to be a prostitute -- and adults may legally have sex with consenting children. Correct?

Instead the issue bears directly on ethics, on choice. The only way that the metaphysical nature of children is overcome is by freewill. The fact that children are unable to take all of the actions required in order to be responsible for themselves by exercising their rights -- means -- that someone must volunteer to take that action for them.

Parents, of their own free will, choose to be the guardians of their children’s rights. Once you are the guardian of someone’s rights, with all of the responsibilities that implies, you cannot then violate their rights by not taking the action you promised. You may transfer your responsibilities to a willing party. But you may not shirk the responsibility of action required in the exercise of rights.

It is not clear to me where you stand. Are you saying that a parent, by deciding to have a child, is agreeing "of their own free will" to provide care? If so, does the government intervene if the parent's default on that agreement? If so, why is government intervention justified if there is no violation of rights?
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And, to those of the opposition, why do you suppose that it follows from the premises of AisA, Felipe, SoftwareNerd, RationalCop, myself, and others, that children do have this right, even though we have explicitly stated that children may only demand support from their parents?
My premesis do not amount to the right to support. Rights are moral principles, they are statements of the freedom to act to live in accordance with one's identity--rights aren't "rights to objects". That is, there ain't no right to a meal ticket.

A child is a volitional being of a specific identity, and when a parent chooses to bring him into his home, they agree to treat the child in accordance with its identity. This is the foundation of all rights, whether for adults or children: the obligation of treating others in accordance with their identity, that is, the obligation of not attempting to violate identity.

How does one attempt to violate the identity of an adult? By the use of force. Why does this constitute an attempt to violate his identity? Because man has free-will. Therefore, rights are moral principles, they are statements acknowledging the freedom to be man qua man. They aren't rights to things, or entities as such. Children, being a form of the animal "man," must also be legally protected from attempts at violating their identity. Why? Because whether they are fully capable of using it or not, they have free-will.

So someone asked "how does one attempt to violate the identity of a child?" Easy. A child cannot engage in self-sustained action to completely care for itself, so a parent who attempts to have their child do so is attempting to violate the identity of the child. What happens? Well, suppose the parent puts the child in a room and walks away, leaving him for days on end, thinking the child will get up and feed itself, bathe itself, etc. What will happen? Clearly the child dies.

I think what is confusing all the "children have the same rights as adults" crowd is that you can't envision idleness as the initiation of force. That is, you are mentally blocked by the idea that a parent idly leaving their child to fend for itself doesn't constitute "force." "I mean, c'mon," you say, "the parent isn't doing anything to the child." But it only takes a feeble mental effort to see that it does constitute the use of force: the parent is forcing the child to try to act against its identity.

By the same "this doesn't constitute force" argument, people who default on contracts aren't initiating force. Suppose you sign up for a credit card, and you charge a car on it, and then remain idle and choose not to pay your financer. "Where's the force there?," you could easily say.

Call it a social contract, call it whatever you want, but when you decide to live in a free society, you accept the principle of rights. Similarly, when you choose to take in a child, a free-will-possessing animal, you agree to treat it according to its identity.

But anyway, back to the reason I was responding. My view is not that a child has a right to anything. My view is that a child has a right to be a child qua child.

Edited by Felipe
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In my last post, I wrote:

If a child's rights are exactly the same as an adult's, then any interference in a child's actions is a violation of his rights. Forcing a child to stay home and do his homework, for instance, is a violation of his right to freedom and constitutes kidnapping. Correct?

If a child's rights are the same as an adult's, a 10 year old girl has a right to be a prostitute -- and adults may legally have sex with consenting children. Correct?

The point is to illustrate that children are a special case. The rights that apply to adults cannot be ascribed, without alteration, to children, as these two points clearly show. In the case of children, we clearly must derive different "conditions of existence vis-à-vis other men", specifically different conditions vis-à-vis their parents. We cannot simply apply the same rights that exist between adults.

This is the first point we must settle. Those who insist that children's rights are the same as adult's rights must explain how to handle situations like the ones above.

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Felipe, my concern is the following statement:

My view is that a child has a right to be a child qua child.

What is required for a child to be a child, Felipe? (I ask because I want to be completely, perfectly, 100% clear)

In other words, I want to be able to fill in the blank of "A child has a right to [blank]." (which is currently filled with "be a child qua child.")

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Forcing a child to stay home and do his homework, for instance, is a violation of his right to freedom and constitutes kidnapping.

Ah, but clearly a stranger forcing a child to stay in HIS home and do homework WOULD constitute kidnapping. Obviously, your conclusions are that the parent has a special relationship with the child, from a rights-standpoint. Not-so-obviously is why.

What would be helpful would be to define this.

(I'm not criticizing your position)

As I said, I don't ascribe to the "right to (blank)" viewpoint. A child has a right to be a child, and a child is a helpless living entity at one point, an immature rational animal at other points. The answer lies in the identity of a child, which is different at different points of developement.

Please read my post more carefully. You've missed what I'm saying.

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No, I haven't. Or, I don't think in your terms.

I don't see where the confusion is. A parent brings a volition-possessing entity into the world with special requirements given by its identity. As such, the parent has the moral and legal responsibility to treat this volition-possessing entity according to its identity. What that requires, is consequential. That the child has a special identity and that a parent is obliged to act accordingly is more important. Once this is understood, what those special requirements are follow from the identity of the child. What isn't clear about this?

Again, I'm interested in principles. These are:

A child's identity is different than a man's.

A child, like a man, is a volition-possessing living entity.

As such, the principle of rights applies to children.

The application of the concept rights must be different for a child, because it is a different kind of volition-possessing living entity.

Parents, by willingly carrying out the actions required for creating a child, bear the special responsibility of ensuring the child is not forced to live contra his identity.

Edited by Felipe
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No, I haven't. Or, I don't think in your terms.

Then let me clarify:

My view is that a child has a right to be a child qua child.
I don't ascribe to the "right to (blank)" viewpoint.

"be a child qua child" IS a "blank," at least in the sense that I was using the term "blank." What I meant was "words go in here." I was asking you to define WHAT is required for a child to be a child qua child.

I don't see where the confusion is. A parent brings a volition-possessing entity into the world with special requirements given by its identity. As such, the parent has the moral and legal responsibility to treat this volition-possessing entity according to its identity. What that requires, is consequential. That the child has a special identity and that a parent is obliged to act accordingly is more important. Once this is understood, what those special requirements are follow from the identity of the child. What isn't clear about this?

That is clearer.

The problem is that you made the statement:

My view is that a child has a right to be a child qua child.

I don't see any qualifyers with that statement. I don't see any context that limits that statement. Taken by itself, that statement has implications.

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