Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Minors: Rights And Children

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Simple. An adult's survival requirements aren't a proper basis for determining rights.

To recognize individual rights means to recognize and accept the conditions required by man's nature for his proper survival.

VOS - Chapter 14 - The Nature of Government - p. 127

the source of man's rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival.

AS - Galt's Speech - p. 977

I pointed this out before, but it bears repeating. Is it your position that the above two statements are incorrect in terms of describing a proper basis for deriving rights? If so, what do you use as a proper basis for deriving rights? I know earlier you simply said "rationality". Please describe how and/or why "rationality" is the proper basis for deriving rights.

Or are you simply pointing out that the usage of "an adult's survival requirements" is not synonomous with "man's survival requirements"? By that I mean, "man's requirements" refers to man in all his stages (infant to adult), not simply to the adult man.

I would agree with the later, that "man's rights" do not simply refer to the rights of an adult man. Rather, "man's rights" refer to man the species, regardless of age. In that sense, all men have the same rights, not different rights categorized by age or stage of development. However, rights ARE still properly derived from man's requirement to use reason for his proper survival qua man.

To all:

My position still remains that care for the infant is the scrupulous responsibility of the parent(s) who brought the infant into existence. My position still rests on the nature of choice and chosen obligations, in which the parent(s) become gaurdians of the child's rights (man's rights) and in so doing, have chosen to either care for the child, or find someone willing to care for the child. This can include instances of it being proper for the state to become involved in cases of abandonment or neglect.

I acknowledge that some have argued against this position, but I have not seen argumentation that has compelled me to abandon that position. I think the primary reason for disagreement by those who may still oppose my position is the difference in how we interpret choice and responsibility.

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

Top Posters In This Topic

Is it your position that the above two statements are incorrect in terms of describing a proper basis for deriving rights?

I would say that they are misleading. "Rationality" is a decent basis for deriving who has rights, but it's not necessarily because it's man's survival requirement that we protect it by rights.

I believe the quotes are to be taken in the context of "adult's survival requirement" instead of "anything a right-bearing being requires by his nature."

While I admit that "rationality" isn't a complete answer to who has rights, it is a short cut that I (and several others recently in the topic) have used. softwareNerd's take on what necessitates having rights was more accurate and better.

If so, what do you use as a proper basis for deriving rights? I know earlier you simply said "rationality". Please describe how and/or why "rationality" is the proper basis for deriving rights.
IMO it would be far more accurate for me to say that

Beings realizing that allowing the free action of certain other beings is in their rational best interest is the impetus for the creation of society/rights

is the proper basis for deriving rights. If society is created based on the rational benefit of allowing the free action of these certain beings, then the only legitimate rights are those that protect the free action of these beings.

I was not aware of it before this topic, but there is apparently a different basis also being used for deriving rights.

The concept of rights proceeds from a single fact: a rational being’s survival requirements demand certain “conditions of existence” vis-à-vis other men.
I'm not necessarily saying that the "rational best interest" and "survival requirement" bases for society/rights are incompatible - but at the least they are different perspectives that might lead to divergent conceptions of rights.

If my conception of rights is correct, then whether or not a being's survival requirement should be protected by rights would depend on whether limiting the action of all other men regarding that requirement would be in their rational best interests. The right to be free of initiated force is in all men's rational best interest. Is this infant right to support in the rational best interest of all men?

If not, then it'd seem the "survival requirement=support right" argument doesn't work in a "rational best interest" conception of society.

Link to post
Share on other sites

RationalCop:

It seems to me there are problems with saying that a child and his parents have the same rights.

If the parent has the right to act as the guardian of the child's rights, then the parent possesses a right that the child does not. If the parent does not have the right to act as the guardian, then anyone may take the child away from the parents and act as guardian instead. Doesn't this necessarily mean that they have different rights?

If the child has the right to expect the parents to act as the guardian of his rights, then he has a right that the parents do not have. If he does not have the right to expect the parents to act as his guardian, then they may abandon him.

Doesn't this necessarily mean that the parents and the child have different rights?

I don't think it helps to change from the word "right" to "obligation". If the parent merely has an obligation to act as the child's guardian, then what is the justification for state intervention in the case of abandonment?

Perhaps I misunderstand your position. But these seem to be contradictions.

Feliple:

You say that a child does not have a right to food, but if the parents fail to provide food, this constitutes the initiation of force. You say there are no rights to objects, only rights to action.

But look at your example of the man who charges a car on his credit card and refuses to pay the bill. At that point, doesn't the credit card company have a right to his money? Isn't that a right to an object, not just to an action?

In fact, there are many cases where we have rights to objects. If I hold a job, come payday I have a right to a paycheck for the agreed-upon amount. What we do not have is the right to an object we have not earned or do not deserve.

The reason the refusal to pay the credit card company constitutes the initiation of force is because they have a right to the card holder's money. If they do not have a right to the card holder's money, then why should they be able to invoke the power of government to collect from you?

This example, therefore, does not support the notion that it is an initiation of force to withhold something from someone who does not have a right to it. It also does not support the notion that there is no such thing as rights to objects.

A child can have a right to objects like food and clothing, to be provided by his parents, because he deserves it; he is not responsible for his helpless condition; they are.

Hunterrose: You wrote:

"Beings realizing that allowing the free action of certain other beings is in their rational best interest is the impetus for the creation of society/rights is the proper basis for deriving rights. If society is created based on the rational benefit of allowing the free action of these certain beings, then the only legitimate rights are those that protect the free action of these beings."

Why does the fact that something is "in one's rational self-interest" make it a right? If "beings realizing" is the proper basis for deriving rights, what happens when "beings refuse to realize"?

The realization that something is in one's rational best interest may be a motivation for respecting the rights of others. But it is a mistake to tie rights to a mere process of consciousness. "Realizing" is not what gives man the right to life. Man has the right to life no matter who realizes what.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Infancy [...] is a function of man's identity as a rational being [...]. A rational being, by virtue of the fact that he holds his knowledge in conceptual terms, must start with a blank consciousness; there is no possibility of conceptual knowledge prior to becoming conscious. Thus, a period of infancy is required to "fill in the blanks" and learn how to use his rational faculty. Infancy is as inherent in man's identity as a rational being as is the fact that man survives by reason and must, therefore, be free to think and act.

I’m sorry, I cannot agree with you on this. Beginning life as an infant is something common to all animals, not just rational animals. All animals start with a blank slate. And therefore it cannot be used as the essential characteristic which confers rights.

My interpretation of Ayn Rand’s statement that: “rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival.” is: rights are conditions of society required by a rational being for his ethical survival. This interpretation also shows how rights are derived: observing man’s nature, his ethical survival in society requires rights.

Notice how the relationship between ethics and metaphysics is flip-flopped if “conditions of existence” is interpreted as “metaphysical conditions”. Because metaphysics doesn’t “require” anything, it just is. Only a derivative, like rights, can be “required” by certain conditions, reality is a given.

As I have always said, rights have two parts, rights are moral sanctions to positive action. Every adult is responsible to decide for themselves which actions to take in furtherance of their lives, we should not prosecute them for taking too little action on their own behalf. [Children are unable to take the action required to sustain their lives, so] when you are deciding for [them], you are responsible to take action on their behalf. Not doing so violates the positive action part of their rights.

The problem I have with this theory is that it seems to rest on an unsupported assertion: that creating a human being inherently means one has agreed to exercise that being's rights on its behalf.

Please don’t tell me that you are taking up the mantle of hunterrose, jrs or EC. You don’t think that creating a helpless rights-bearing being means that you agree to care for it?

Doesn't that amount to saying that a child has a right to expect the adults to exercise his rights for him?

Yes, just as what you are advocating amounts to saying that a child “has a right to material support from those who brought him into existence.” Both of us are saying that in order not to violate its rights, a child’s nature requires certain support from its voluntary guardian. You are saying that that support is material while I maintain that it is an action.

This is a very important distinction and should not be glossed over. Let me expound in reference to the “official” Objectivist position you cited.

Notice how when Branden describes the parent’s responsibilities it is always an action that is enumerated: “[...] to equip [...] to provide [...] to feed, clothe and protect him; to raise him [...] to equip him [...] training him [...] to educate him [...].”

This may seem like splitting hairs since ultimately the parent’s actions will be translated into the material needs of the child, but it is a very important hair to split. The reason Branden only describes actions when referring to the responsibilities of the parents is because as Ayn Rand said: “rights pertain only to action”.

Even the word “support” in the phrase “[t]he support is his by right.” can be seen as an action.

Nothing I have said is contradicted by the article whereas the contradiction I mentioned in my last post to you (post #254) is confirmed by the article.

I am further heartened by the frequent use of the word “responsibility” in Branden’s article. A word I use frequently in association with rights.

I’d like to ask you: do rights confer any responsibilities upon us? That is, are we each responsible to take action in order to realize our rights?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As an interesting side note related to this topic of the burden of non aborted children, someone recently discussed the impact of Roe vs. Wade, stating that this court case was responsible for a drop in crime in the past 15 years, because of a reduction of unwanted poverty children and the corresponding criminal activity they would likely be involved in.

As many of you know, the courts are considering overturning Roe v. Wade, which could have a negative impact on crime in the next 15-20 years, as the population of poverty children explodes due to lack of abortion services.

The implications of this are implicit.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems to me there are problems with saying that a child and his parents have the same rights.

Man has rights, not men or women, parents or children, sisters or brothers, old people or young people. All people have the same rights because of their need to use reason as their primary means of survival.

If the parent has the right to act as the guardian of the child's rights, then the parent possesses a right that the child does not.
I don't see the words obligation or guardian being replaceable with the word right. A person who has chosen (or created) an obligation has not created a right.

If the parent does not have the right to act as the guardian, then anyone may take the child away from the parents and act as guardian instead. Doesn't this necessarily mean that they have different rights?

No, it does not necessarily infer different rights. Abduction would be a violation of the child's right to be free from the initiation of force, not any rights of the parents. Parents, as guardians of the child's rights would represent the child in any legal preceeding in which the child would have been abducted, but the child would still have been the victim of the initiation of force, not the parents. In any instance I can think of where the parents are actually accepting and acting properly on their obligation as guardians, an initiation of force AGAINST THE CHILD would be necessary to take that child from the parents.

I can see how one might view this a "right" in a VERY limited legal sense, in that the parents are the people recognized as those who can speak on the child's behalf from a legal standpoint. However, the child is not the property of the parents, they have no "rights" regarding the child as something they own or possess. Any violation of the child's rights is just that, a violation of the child's rights, not the parent's rights. I don't see it so much as a legal right, as a legal recognition that absent other evidence, the parents are the most appropriate people to be the guardians for the child they brought into the world, and the initial responsibility for such care lies with them. That doesn't mean that the parents couldn't later be found to be incapable of being proper guardians for the child's rights with the introduction of new evidence. I think there has been cases where other family members "abducted" a child, and the state recognized that it was the proper thing to do based on a parent's inability to be guardians of the child's rights, or outright violations of the child's rights.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Beings realizing that allowing the free action of certain other beings is in their rational best interest is the impetus for the creation of society/rights

Why is it in man's rational best interest to realize that other beings men should be allowed free action? That is what is incomplete about your "rationality" position.

I'll answer that. Because man, in order to pursue his life qua man, he must be able to do so free from the physical force of others if he does not wish to spend all of his life (a life that would be mere survival, not the flourishing life that should be man's qua man) fighting tooth and nail in the chaos that would be "might makes right".

Do you agree or disagree that man's life is more than just "grave avoidance"? By the view of life that man be allowed to flourish, not simply fight to avoid the grave, isn't reason required for men to live amongst other men? Isn't that why it's in man's long term rational interest to recognize the concept of rights? I think so.

Note: I'm deliberating avoiding the use of "beings" until you can demonstrate to me that their are other rational beings that qualify for rights. Until such time, I think the discussion should remain a discussion of the rights of man.

[Edit: Clarification - RC]

Edited by RationalCop
Link to post
Share on other sites
I’m sorry, I cannot agree with you on this. Beginning life as an infant is something common to all animals, not just rational animals. All animals start with a blank slate. And therefore it cannot be used as the essential characteristic which confers rights.
Rights have nothing to do with the characteristics of animals. The reason that the fact of rationality gives rise to rights is not because animals don’t have it; it is because the fact of rationality has implications for man’s relationships to other men. If some animal were discovered to have the ability to reason, this would have no implications whatsoever for man’s rights. Men would not suddenly forfeit all of their rights just because rationality is no longer unique to man. (There might be implications for the animal, but man’s rights would not disappear.)

Therefore, “unique to man” cannot be a requirement for deriving rights. The fact that the survival requirements of childhood are mirrored in the animal kingdom is irrelevant. The question is whether infancy is inherent in man’s identity as a rational being and whether that fact has implications for his relationships with other rational beings.

Let us answer these two questions one more time: Is a period of helplessness inherent in the identity of a rational animal? Yes, it is. His rational faculty, by virtue of its nature, must start out blank; therefore, he will go through a period of mental helplessness while he learns to use his rational faculty. And, because he is a rational animal, this period of mental helplessness will coincide with a physical helplessness.

Does this period of helplessness have any implications for his relationships with other rational beings? Yes, it does. If his creators do not provide material support, he will perish.

It does not matter that other, non-rational animals also go through a period of helplessness. In deriving rights, we are concerned only with the nature of man. (Since man is a rational animal, it is natural that some of his characteristics overlap those of other animals; natural, but not relevant to the issue of rights.)

My interpretation of Ayn Rand’s statement that: “rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival.” is: rights are conditions of society required by a rational being for his ethical survival. This interpretation also shows how rights are derived: observing man’s nature, his ethical survival in society requires rights.

Notice how the relationship between ethics and metaphysics is flip-flopped if “conditions of existence” is interpreted as “metaphysical conditions”. Because metaphysics doesn’t “require” anything, it just is. Only a derivative, like rights, can be “required” by certain conditions, reality is a given.

I certainly agree that rights stem from man’s nature . I have not argued otherwise. I think the confusion on this issue stems from the belief that I use the term “survival requirements” to mean, “needs”.

But I do not use them as synonyms.

A “need” is potentially anything that might be of value that any given man does not have at the moment. A “survival requirement” is a condition that must exist between men for man’s proper survival. Thus, a “need” does not necessarily have any implications for the conditions that must exist for man’s proper survival. For instance, the “need” for a job tells us nothing about the conditions that must exist between men. The need for freedom, on the other hand, tells us a great deal about the conditions that must exist between men. The need for a job is not a “survival requirement”; the need for freedom is.

Please don’t tell me that you are taking up the mantle of hunterrose, jrs or EC. You don’t think that creating a helpless rights-bearing being means that you agree to care for it?

I think it means you agree to respect the child's rights, which are different from the rights of an adult.

Doesn't that amount to saying that a child has a right to expect the adults to exercise his rights for him?

Yes, just as what you are advocating amounts to saying that a child “has a right to material support from those who brought him into existence.”

Yes, I am not merely implying it, I am stating it explicitly.

Both of us are saying that in order not to violate its rights, a child’s nature requires certain support from its voluntary guardian. You are saying that that support is material while I maintain that it is an action.

This is a very important distinction and should not be glossed over. Let me expound in reference to the “official” Objectivist position you cited.

Notice how when Branden describes the parent’s responsibilities it is always an action that is enumerated: “[...] to equip [...] to provide [...] to feed, clothe and protect him; to raise him [...] to equip him [...] training him [...] to educate him [...].”

This may seem like splitting hairs since ultimately the parent’s actions will be translated into the material needs of the child, but it is a very important hair to split. The reason Branden only describes actions when referring to the responsibilities of the parents is because as Ayn Rand said: “rights pertain only to action”.

I think you are taking “rights pertain only to action” out of context. There are clearly situations in which we have rights to objects. If I hold a job, I have a right to a paycheck on payday. If I pay for a car, I have a right to the car. If my rich uncle dies and leaves me a fortune, I have a right to that money.

What we do not have is a right to objects that we have not earned or do not deserve.

A child has a right to objects like food and clothing, to be provided by his parents, because he deserves it; he is not responsible for his helpless condition; they are.

Furthermore, if a child only has a right to the action of support on the part of the parents, but not a right to the goods, then that means the parents are only required to try to support the child; it would mean that, if the attempt fails, the child must be allowed to die of starvation; there would be no basis for government intervention because no rights have been violated.

It is clear that Miss Rand did not mean that rights apply only to actions, and not to the consequences of those actions. She would not say that a man has only a right to the action of working, but not a right to the product produced by that work.

Even the word “support” in the phrase “[t]he support is his by right.” can be seen as an action.

Here is what the article says:

"In accepting the basic necessities of food, clothing, etc., from his parents, the child does not incur an obligation to repay that support at some future date. The support is his by right."

There is no way to construe that as anything other than an endorsement of the child’s right to food, clothing, etc. It does not say that, “in accepting the actions of his parents”, it says, “in accepting … food, clothing, etc”.

Nothing I have said is contradicted by the article whereas the contradiction I mentioned in my last post to you (post #254) is confirmed by the article.
??? Here is post 254:

At the same time, the child surrenders a portion of his rights,

[...]

The child lacks the capacity for consent

Hold on, slow down a minute. Do you see a contradiction here.

As I said before, the parent consents for themselves and their child -- effectively making an agreement with herself -- which could be the definition of responsibility.

I didn’t respond to this before because it seemed obvious that in controlling the child's activities, parents do not need the child's consent; therefore, it does not matter that he does not have the capacity to consent.

The parents have the right to impose limits on the child’s activities whether he consents or not. One does not need the consent of a toddler to keep him form putting his fingers into an electric outlet.

I fail to see how that article confirms a contradiction that does not exist.

I am further heartened by the frequent use of the word “responsibility” in Branden’s article. A word I use frequently in association with rights.

I’d like to ask you: do rights confer any responsibilities upon us? That is, are we each responsible to take action in order to realize our rights?

Rights confer on us the obligation to respect the rights of others. However, my rights are not contingent on any actions on my part (except to respect the rights of others) If I fail to take any action in support of my life, I will eventually die. But that does not mean that I have surrendered my right to life. I continue to possess that right until my last breath.

In the case of children, the obligation to respect the rights of other means the parents must respect the child’s right to material support.

Link to post
Share on other sites

RationalCop, I do not understand your response.

You said:

"My position still remains that care for the infant is the scrupulous responsibility of the parent(s) who brought the infant into existence. My position still rests on the nature of choice and chosen obligations, in which the parent(s) become gaurdians of the child's rights (man's rights) and in so doing, have chosen to either care for the child, or find someone willing to care for the child. This can include instances of it being proper for the state to become involved in cases of abandonment or neglect."

If a child does not have a right to material support, and he does not have a right to have his parents act as his guardian, then on what basis can the government intervene to stop child abandonment? Whose rights have been violated?

Link to post
Share on other sites
If a child does not have a right to material support, and he does not have a right to have his parents act as his guardian, then on what basis can the government intervene to stop child abandonment? Whose rights have been violated?

As has been defined previously in this thread, a right pertains to a man's freedom of action. The right to life, being the primary right, is the right of a man to be free from physical force to take those actions necessary to provide for his life. A "right" to material support does not refer to any "freedom to act", but rather it refers to a "duty to act" on the part of one individual for another individual. A "duty to act" is created by a chosen obligation or by a contract. This requires changing the definition of "rights" because it has nothing to do with the child's freedom to act for it's survival. Also, I don't see how one can ascribe something as a "right", but then limit the applicability of that right to a certain set of people, except in the fashion I would propose in the next paragraph.

To generate "rights" which are only applicable to a specific person or persons, one engages in contracts. I think the applicable relationship between parent / child is that of the (implied) contract, which has also been mentioned before. Contracts do infer certain "rights" between parties that are not binding to anyone other than the involved parties. Contracts also allow for government intervention when one party fails to live up to their part of the bargain. This concept is consistent with the principle that all man has the same rights since any man who engages in a contract has the same "rights" to the fulfillment of that contract, or a legal redress if necessary. It does not require the creation of a special right pertaining to man according to his developmental stage, that being a special right that expires at some point unlike "real" rights.

That said, the child did not enter the contract willingly. As such, assuming the child is capable of doing so, a child should be able to back out of that contract when the child so chooses. Obviously, this relinquishes the parents of further responsibility, and the child is then on it's own to provide for it's life.

The child has a right to life, just as any other "man". No new or different right there. However, as a man, I have a right to take action to provide for myself. Were I a child, that same right, not some new or different right, would be the responsibility of the parents because they are the guardians of my rights. Another justification for government involvement is that essentially any violation of the parent / child contract on the part of the parent represents not a violation of a right to material support, but a violation of the child's right to life, of which they are supposed to be the guardians. If one has chosen the obligation to assume guardianship of someone's right to life, to default on that obligation would be a violation of that person's right to life. In the same sense that the government acts on the behalf of a dead person in a murder trial, so can they act on behalf of a child when the child is unable to represent itself in a contract dispute with a parent or in the case of abandonment.

I think that our positions are not that far apart, in that, yes, there are rights involved in the caretaking of a child, but they are not rights unique to the child or created because of his developmental stage. As I have described above, they are the same rights that all men possess, at all times during their life. Any rights a child possesses are the same rights any other man would possess when engaged in a contractual agreement, or when another person has chosen an obligation to act on that man's behalf.

I hope this explains my position well enough, and as always, I await critique. :confused:

EDIT:

PS: AisA - I realize this varies to some degree from my previous response, this being the result of further consideration of the issue. So, one might say I'm closer to your position now in that I agree to some extent that there are rights involved. The distinction now is that I don't think they are a special set of rights created by the child's developmental stage.

Edited by RationalCop
Link to post
Share on other sites
The distinction now is that I don't think they are a special set of rights created by the child's developmental stage.

I agree with your statement there and the "contractual" (for lack of a better term) approach.

Only unlike a traditional contract, this is more like my example of a person crippling another person in an accident and having to provide support/compensation. (a loose metaphor, of course; the parent hasn't crippled the child, but has caused him to be born in a helpless state... thus the parent is responsible for that state and... well, you get the idea)

The approach of the "special set of rights" is false, and furthermore is the thin end of the wedge of "positive rights" and the subsequent statism of that ilk. As I tried to show earlier, even though AisA and Felipe have stated explicity that the parents and only the parents must support the children, this statement does not follow logically from their "special rights" structure.

This fact is why this debate has gone on so long, because the "other side" senses this problem.

To AisA and Felipe, if you can show how the "parents only" position follows from your "special rights" argument, then I would like to hear it, and I would stand corrected.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see the following problems with the “contractual guardianship/no-special-rights” argument:

1) This argument holds that guardianship attaches as a contractual obligation inherent in the decision to have a child. The only thing that supports this notion, as near as I can tell, is the idea that a rational man accepts and assumes responsibility for his actions.

We can easily establish that accepting responsibility for one’s child is the moral thing to do: if the good is, “that which is proper to the life of a rational being”, how can it be proper to create and then abandon new rational beings? It is not proper; providing support for the child is the moral course of action for a parent.

But how do we extend this moral principle into the legal realm without resorting to rights? The fact is that one cannot, because “rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law”.

Unless a child has a right to such a guardianship, how can you ever prove that it must legally exist? If child and parent have identical rights, how can there legal requirements that apply to one and not the other?

2) Contracts require consideration from both parties to be enforceable. What consideration does the child give? Many parents view the very existence of their children to be consideration, but others may not feel that way after experiencing the rigors of child rearing. In those cases, the child may be viewed as a burden, not any kind of consideration. Why would a contract be enforceable in this situation?

3) Contracts require consent. If the child has not consented, how can we enforce the contract against him? RationalCop said: “That said, the child did not enter the contract willingly. As such, assuming the child is capable of doing so, a child should be able to back out of that contract when the child so chooses.”

Including the phrase, “assuming the child is capable”, means that when he is not capable, the contract may be enforced against his will. If he has the same rights as an adult, how is this justified? Because it is for his own good? For those who fear “slippery slopes”, that sounds like one to me.

4) Child rearing occasionally requires the parent to initiate the use of force against the child. For instance, a toddler may be restrained to prevent him from injuring himself. A child may be forced to go to bed at a certain hour. Indeed, proper child rearing demands some of these things; a parent that failed to impose any discipline would be unfit. Yet, if the child has the same rights as an adult, these are violations of his rights.

5) Under this guardianship, the parents are responsible for exercising the child’s right to life; if that right is only a right to actions, with no guarantee of the success of those actions (which is a proper interpretation of an adult’s rights), then the parents are only obligated to attempt to obtain support for the child. They are only obligated to try . Assuming they are making a reasonable effort, but failing, they are not in breach of their obligation to “exercise the child’s right to life”, and government intervention, on the basis of breach of contract, would not be warranted. I don’t think this is what we want, is it?

6) Does the contractual obligation attach to a woman impregnated by rape who cannot afford an abortion? Is she still obligated contractually to raise the child? If so, then an egregious breach of her rights results in an enormous obligation she did not accept by choice. If the contract does not apply in this case, and if a child does not have a right to have a guardian to exercise its rights, government intervention would not be justified; the parent could properly abandon the child, and the state should not intervene.

7) RationalCop said: “The child has a right to life, just as any other "man". No new or different right there.” If a child does not have a right to this guardianship, then what happens when the parents are killed in an accident which the child survives? On what basis could the state step in under those conditions?

What is obvious in this discussion is that the relationship between child and parents, as well as the relationship between child and other adults, does not and can not operate by the same rules that govern relationships between adults. Different “conditions of existence” must prevail between the child and the parent versus adult and adult. If those “different conditions” do not stem from the fact that child and parent have different rights, then there is no logical way to provide legal protection for those “different conditions”.

Inspector said:

"The approach of the "special set of rights" is false, and furthermore is the thin end of the wedge of "positive rights" and the subsequent statism of that ilk. As I tried to show earlier, even though AisA and Felipe have stated explicity that the parents and only the parents must support the children, this statement does not follow logically from their "special rights" structure."

The purpose of rights is to define the proper relationships between rational beings. It is not an axiom that all rights derived from man's nature must be applicable to all other men in all situations. If that were true, then a parent would not have a right to impose restrictions on a child, restrictions that they could never properly impose on another adult.

It would make no sense to say that a child's right to material support can be asserted against all of mankind. Such a notion would ignore the distinction between those who are causally responsible for the child's existence versus those who are not. It is clear who must respect the right to material support: those whose actions led to the existence of the being possessing this right. I don't see the problem with that notion.

Nor so I see a thin edge of statism looming from this. A child's need for food from his parents is easy to distinguish from all of the ridiculous claims of rights being made these days.

Link to post
Share on other sites

AisA,

I will continue answering your concerns in your latest post after you address the concerns I mentioned in my previous post.

How do you limit a "right" to guardianship to simply the parents? A "right" to guardianship would mean that the child has a right to be provided for by ANYONE.

Please address the change in the definition of "rights" from "a freedom of action", to "a duty of one to act on behalf of another"?

Link to post
Share on other sites
How do you limit a "right" to guardianship to simply the parents? A "right" to guardianship would mean that the child has a right to be provided for by ANYONE.

PRECISELY. Note the following:

If a child does not have a right to this guardianship, then what happens when the parents are killed in an accident which the child survives? On what basis could the state step in under those conditions?

From this statement, AisA, you seem to be saying that everyone (via the state) should be required to provide guardianship.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And, to address the issue of contracts, you're being too literal. It need not follow the structure of a "standard" contract. Again, re-read what I said about the nature of the relationship being based on the fact that the parent has created a rational being, but caused that being to be crippled. In this sense, the parent isn't entering into a contract for the gain of consideration, they are assuming a duty as a consequence of their actions.

In the case of rape, where the mother did NOT take any action to cause the situation, she can NOT be made to assume the duty. (The criminal, on the other hand, could be fined to pay for the child's care by a third party agency)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Why is it in man's rational best interest to realize that other beings should be allowed free action?
There is a rational benefit in protecting the free action of men because the potential value gained from another man's ideas far outstrips any potential value gained by force against him.

I'll answer that. Because man, in order to pursue his life qua man, he must be able to do so free from the physical force of others if he does not wish to spend all of his life (a life that would be mere survival, not the flourishing life that should be man's qua man) fighting tooth and nail in the chaos that would be "might makes right".
Correct me if I misinterpret you, but I would sum up this "requirement" derivation of rights in two premises.

1) My life requires men observe my right to my survival requirement.

is fine with me, but I have a problem with

2) My life requires I observe the right of other men to their survival requirements.

Why does my life require I observe the rights of others?

Don't you at some point have to use the "best interest" argument to justify 2)? If so, then the "requirement" derivation of rights would be superfluous, and the fact that an infant requires support by his nature wouldn't be a valid reason for conferring a right.

Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a rational benefit in protecting the free action of men because the potential value gained from another man's ideas far outstrips any potential value gained by force against him.

I suspect from your statement that you view "man surviving qua man" to mean simply staying alive or avoiding the grave. "Surviving qua man" means more then simply avoiding the grave, it means being allowed to flourish, having the opportunity to live a happy, productive life, not simply remaining alive. Your rational benefit of the potential of trading values with others is but one aspect of "surviving qua man". It is that benefit and more that constitutes man's life in terms of recognizing reason as a survival requirement.

2) My life requires I observe the right of other men to their survival requirements.

Why does my life require I observe the rights of others?

This is quite simple. Go around murdering or assaulting people and see how long others will respect your rights. Go around stealing from others and see how long others will respect your rights. To vary a phrase, you can't have (take) the other guys cake and expect him not to take yours.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1) My life requires men observe my right to my survival requirement.

is fine with me, but I have a problem with

2) My life requires I observe the right of other men to their survival requirements.

Why does my life require I observe the rights of others?

You've drawn a distinction where none exists. The proper phrase of both 1 and 2 is: Freedom is a survival requirement of man.

Link to post
Share on other sites
My life requires I observe the right of other men to their survival requirements. Why does my life require I observe the rights of others?
One useful way to "chew" on this is to spend some time trying to create a practical code of living, based upon a 'lone wolf' approach.
Link to post
Share on other sites
AisA,

I will continue answering your concerns in your latest post after you address the concerns I mentioned in my previous post.

How do you limit a "right" to guardianship to simply the parents? A "right" to guardianship would mean that the child has a right to be provided for by ANYONE.

First of all, let me clarify that I am not arguing in favor of a "right to a guardianship"; I am arguing for a "right to material support". (The two may turn out to be essentially the same thing, but I have not thought that through yet.) I was merely pointing out that if a child has no more rights than an adult, then he does not have a right to a guardianship, and that leaves one in the contradictory position of arguing that parents should be forced by law to provide something that the other party (the child) has no right to.

Having said that, in my last post I did address the question of why a child's right to material support is limited to his parents. Let me repeat a statement from my last post with the request that you respond to it directly:

The purpose of rights is to define the proper relationships between rational beings. It is not an axiom that all rights derived from man's nature must be applicable to all other men in all situations. If that were true, then, for example, a parent would not have a right to impose restrictions on a child, restrictions that the parent could never properly impose on another adult.
Please answer this question: Does a parent have a right to impose restrictions on a child, restrictions one could never properly impose on another adult? If the answer is yes, doesn't that mean that the parent has rights, with respect to the child, that the parent does not have relative to other adults? And, doesn't that also mean that the child lacks certain rights, relative to the parent, that he does not lack relative to other adults?

I have also previously cited another example that shows that rights are not necessarily and axiomatically applicable to all men under all circumstances: If, due to negligence on your part, you cripple another man, that man has the right to some sort of support or compensation from you, and only from you. Why you and only you? Because you, and only you, are causally responsible for his condition. In the same way and for the same reason, the child's right to material support is limited to the parents because they, and only they, are causally responsible for the child's existence.

Please address the change in the definition of "rights" from "a freedom of action", to "a duty of one to act on behalf of another"?
"Freedom of action" is not the definition of rights. "Rights are conditions of existence required for man's proper survival."

The most basic "condition of existence" required for man's proper survival is the absence of the initiation of force by other men. However, in other situations, different "conditions of existence" are required, and I have given you two examples of situations in which different conditions clearly must apply: 1) A parent's right to impose limitations on the child's activities, and 2) The case where one's negligence causes substantial harm to others.

While it is true that Miss Rand stressed that rights are rights to actions, not to objects, she said a great deal more about rights than just that statement. For instance, she says that the right to property "is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values", which means one does have the right to objects one has produced, earned or is otherwise entitled to have.

Miss Rand also clearly agreed that the child has a right to material support provided by the parents. I believe she regarded children as a "special case". The alternative is to think that she endorsed a flat-out contradiction. How likely is that?

Link to post
Share on other sites
PRECISELY. Note the following:

From this statement, AisA, you seem to be saying that everyone (via the state) should be required to provide guardianship.

Yes, since I think the child has a right to material support, and since I think the purpose of government is to protect rights, I believe the government should intervene in the case of abandonment or death of the parents. However, like all government functions, this one should be funded voluntarily. In that sense, no one is "required" to provide the support except the parents.

But I am not sure what point you are trying to make: is it your position that the parents enter into a contract with the child, but the state should not enforce it?

And, to address the issue of contracts, you're being too literal. It need not follow the structure of a "standard" contract. Again, re-read what I said about the nature of the relationship being based on the fact that the parent has created a rational being, but caused that being to be crippled. In this sense, the parent isn't entering into a contract for the gain of consideration, they are assuming a duty as a consequence of their actions.

In all the other cases that I can think of, when one person "causes another being to be crippled", we say that the being in question has a right to support or compensation from the person responsible. Why, then, do you deny this right to a child?

Personally, I don't think you can say that the parents "caused the child to be crippled"; he is not a cripple because of any act on their part; his existence is their responsibility, but he is a cripple by nature. However, even if one accepts your notion that the parents crippled the child, how does this differ from the situation where one cripples another adult through negligence? One would certainly say, in such a situation, that the crippled adult has a right to some sort of compensation from the person doing the crippling; why doesn't the child have this same right?

Furthermore, in the case of a "duty assumed as a consequence of one's actions", if the other party cannot claim a right to that duty, then government cannot be used to enforce that duty. It cannot, unless you want to expand the function of government to something other than the protection of rights.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think before we can go any further, we have to agree on the definition of rights. I'm going to show you the definition of "rights" that I'm going by, because we are apparently operating under different definitions.

OPAR - Chapter 10 - pg. 351 Individual Rights as Absolutes

A "right," in Ayn Rand's definition, "is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context."
Notice that it refers to "man's freedom of action", not "man's obligation to act". An "obligation to act" refers to a responsibility, not to a right. The "right to provide support" would require an "obligation to act" on the part of another person.

Your stated definition of rights is;

"Rights are conditions of existence required for man's proper survival."

I contend that that does not define rights at all, it merely states that "rights" are CONDITIONS for man's proper survival. Access to food and water are also CONDITIONS of existence required of man's proper survival, but "access to food and water" is not defined by that statement.

I did however search for your definition (as phrased), and I think it's important to quote the rest of what follows that statement that you use to define rights;

John Galt's Speech - AS - pg. 976

Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man's rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.

Notice that after your definition, it refers man's actions for himself, in his interests, for his well being. It does not refer to his obligations to act on the behalf of others.

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...