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Minors: Rights And Children

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AisA,

You may recall that I stated I think our positions are closer than it may appear. Additionally, I acknowledged that there is some involvement of rights, just not special rights. I think I may have finally figured it out.

After re-reading your statement about the right to compensation being gained due to "causal responsibility", I finally realized that THAT is the right in question. The child and the crippled man (from your example) are BOTH entitled to compensation for their conditions being caused by someone else. The specific compensation is dependent upon the condition caused. In the case of the child, guardianship of rights, material support, faculty development and education are the COMPENSATION for the child's condition, whereas for the crippled man the compensation would have to be determined accordingly. All men have this right to compensation if causally placed in some detrimental condition by another man, not simply infants or crippled men. All men do NOT require the same compensation, which means the compensation is "special" or at least specific in each case. No special rights are required for the infant, simply the right to be compensated by the parents being causally responsible for it's helpless condition (or more basically, it's existence).

This goes hand in hand with the parents having the responsibility of taking care of the child (or finding someone else who is willing and able), not that the gain any "right" to take actions against the child's will. The "initiation of force" against the child's wishes is justified by the fact that the parents are responsible for insuring that the best rational interests of the child are sought while the child is incapable of making that decision for itself. That represents a proper guardianship of the child's rights. It is not their right to do that, it is their DUTY to do that because they are responsible for the child.

Any attempt to take the child from the parents is not a violation of the parents rights, it's a violation of the child's right NOT to be abducted. Of course, the exception to this is if the person(s) taking the child can rationally demonstrate that the parents are in fact endangering or harming the child, or in other words, they are not being proper guardians of the child's rights. Additionally, I think the person(s) taking the child would have to demonstrate that they are capable of taking proper care of the child, and that some evidence exists that they WOULD in fact take proper care of the child. Clearly the exchange of guardianship should not be taken lightly.

This responsibility diminishes as the child becomes more capable of taking care of itself, or in other words, when the parents have either compensated the child for their causal part in it's condition, or when child of it's own volition seeks to be emancipated from the parents.

Your thoughts?

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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.
But is that a sufficient reason to respect the rights of others?

Living my life to the fullest requires I observe the right of other men to be free from initiated force. I can't flourish if I as a principle prefer the lesser gains from force to the greater gains from allowing other men's free action.

OTOH if the threat of retialiatory force were the basis for respecting the rights of others, then I would be justified in not respecting others in cases in which I could overpower or otherwise escape the threat of retaliatory force.

One shouldn't necessarily always observe the rights of others if the reason to observe rights doesn't always apply. If sometimes there is no repercussion from force, then one would justified in weighing whether or not to violate another's rights in those instances.

Would the argument be then that this threat of force does always apply, or that rights are justified only to the extent to which it is in our objective best interest to observe this right? Or something else?

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But is that a sufficient reason to respect the rights of others?

Yes.

One shouldn't necessarily always observe the rights of others if the reason to observe rights doesn't always apply. If sometimes there is no repercussion from force, then one would justified in weighing whether or not to violate another's rights in those instances.

So, are you saying that you are okay with someone having the right to murder you IF they can get away with it without the consequence of retaliation?

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AisA,

You may recall that I stated I think our positions are closer than it may appear. Additionally, I acknowledged that there is some involvement of rights, just not special rights. I think I may have finally figured it out.

After re-reading your statement about the right to compensation being gained due to "causal responsibility", I finally realized that THAT is the right in question. The child and the crippled man (from your example) are BOTH entitled to compensation for their conditions being caused by someone else. The specific compensation is dependent upon the condition caused. In the case of the child, guardianship of rights, material support, faculty development and education are the COMPENSATION for the child's condition, whereas for the crippled man the compensation would have to be determined accordingly. All men have this right to compensation if causally placed in some detrimental condition by another man, not simply infants or crippled men. All men do NOT require the same compensation, which means the compensation is "special" or at least specific in each case. No special rights are required for the infant, simply the right to be compensated by the parents being causally responsible for it's helpless condition (or more basically, it's existence).

I have been thinking about the same thing for the last few days.

I originally brought up the example of the injured man in response to the arguments that "rights are rights to actions, not to objects" and "everyone has the same rights and they apply to all people". My point was simply to illustrate that there are exceptions to those principles; they do not necessarily veto the notion of a child's right to material support. It was not my intent to use the compensation argument for children; to make the compensation argument, one has to establish that the parents are the cause of the child's helplessness -- and I rejected that notion. In fact, in my last response to Inspector, I objected to the idea that that the parents "crippled the child"; I argued that the child is helpless by his very nature, not because the parents made him that way.

However, upon further review, I can see some logic to support the view that the parents are the cause of the child's helplessness. It is beyond argument that the parents are the cause of the child's existence, and it is beyond argument that the child is helpless. It is also beyond argument that the parents could not have made the child any other way but helpless. To make a child at all, is to make it helpless.

For this argument to work, i.e. for it to be truly analogous to the "injured adult argument", the act of "making a helpless being" has to mean the same thing as the act of "making a being helpless". Are those two things equivalent? I don't know. They certainly produce the same results. Let me think about this some more.

Do the child's rights derive from his nature as an infant rational being, or do they derive from his right to compensation for his helpless condition?

This goes hand in hand with the parents having the responsibility of taking care of the child (or finding someone else who is willing and able), not that the gain any "right" to take actions against the child's will. The "initiation of force" against the child's wishes is justified by the fact that the parents are responsible for insuring that the best rational interests of the child are sought while the child is incapable of making that decision for itself. That represents a proper guardianship of the child's rights. It is not their right to do that, it is their DUTY to do that because they are responsible for the child.
Here I see a potential problem. If restraining a child is merely a duty, and not a right, then one may not call upon the government for help in discharging that duty. For example, if the child runs away at the age of 10, and the parent only has a duty to find the child and return it home, and not a right, then one could not call on the police to help look for the child. Not unless we want to expand the function of government beyond the protection of rights.

I suppose one could argue that a child running away from home is violating his own rights, and bringing him back would be a proper police function.

Any attempt to take the child from the parents is not a violation of the parents rights, it's a violation of the child's right NOT to be abducted. Of course, the exception to this is if the person(s) taking the child can rationally demonstrate that the parents are in fact endangering or harming the child, or in other words, they are not being proper guardians of the child's rights. Additionally, I think the person(s) taking the child would have to demonstrate that they are capable of taking proper care of the child, and that some evidence exists that they WOULD in fact take proper care of the child. Clearly the exchange of guardianship should not be taken lightly.
I agree.
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Do the child's rights derive from his nature as an infant rational being, or do they derive from his right to compensation for his helpless condition?

Why not simply ask, does the right to be compensated for being causally placed in a detrimental condition by another person derive from man's nature? If it can be derived from man's nature, it is applicable to the child as well as to the adult since they are both "man".

Here I see a potential problem. If restraining a child is merely a duty, and not a right, then one may not call upon the government for help in discharging that duty.
Well, why does this necessarily have to be a function of government to begin with? One could consider the age of the child, and the child's capability to take care of itself. For instance, a missing 5 year would be considerably different than a missing 16 year old.

Couldn't the parents hire a private agency to investigate the location of their child? Once located, the parents could come and retrieve the child preventing any need on part of the private investigators to use force. Or, should the investigators or parents find that the child is being the subject of force (outside of an emergency situation in which they themselves could act), they could then call the police.

However, in many cases of runaways, it may be difficult to tell whether or not the child left on it's own accord, or whether or not the child was abducted. The police could certainly be called if the parents suspect a crime has been committed.

I suppose one could argue that a child running away from home is violating his own rights, and bringing him back would be a proper police function.

I would agree this could be an argument, again based contextually on the age and capability of the child.

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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.

If you recall, we've been over this territory. That argument is invalid and you've admitted it.

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?
No, not at all. My position is that the state should enforce it ONLY from the parents.

Let me give an example: If you are shot by a criminal, does the state pay your medical bill? No. You had the right to life (and therefore to not be shot) just as surely as a neglected child has a right to the support of his parents. In both cases, the state can and should bring legal action against the criminal. In neither case is the state required to provide material support to the victim.

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?

I don't. I am against your specific form of derivation of that right. When you use the derivation that I outlined, it limits that right to the parents and only to the parents. Under your derivation, it is a universal right which EVERYONE, potentially, can be made to pay for.

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.

I think you have a handle on the general idea of what I mean by that. (i.e. not literally crippled him, but effectively)

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So, are you saying that you are okay with someone having the right to murder you IF they can get away with it without the consequence of retaliation?
I can't flourish if I as a principle prefer the lesser gains from force to the greater gains from allowing other men's free action.
Unlike the "requirement" derivation, a "rational best interest" derivation of rights is not dependent on retaliation, and does not determine whether your hypothetical right to murder was legitimate based on whether it were a survival requirement. So no to the question.

I believe that my argument wasn't interpreted correctly though I am being rather altruistic in placing the blame for that upon myself.

This is veering from topic. Check the earlier thread on "Predation" for a related discussion.
While rather amusing :dough: the Predation topic had little to do with my point:

uno :lol:There is a rational reason to always respect the rights of others:confused: (long-term context.)

dos Retaliatory force was given as that reason.

tres Retaliatory force is not a reason to always respect others' rights (because retaliatory force isn't always applicable.)

quatro If the reason to always respect others' rights is man's objective gain from respecting rights, then any potential right would legitimized based on whether there was an objective gain in respecting it.

Finally cinco IMO this infant right to support can't be legitimized based on man's objective gain in respecting that "right."

If that's veering, then I am wasting my time.

It has been suggested that, because I have advocated violating individual rights :confused: I read OPAR (or in my case reread) and then present my questions with this established Objectivist position on a child's right to support. I'll keep that in mind.

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I believe I am having a problem interpreting Peikoff's meaning here, so I ask for clarification.

By its nature, the concept of a "right" pertains, in Ayn Rand's words, "only to action - specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men. "Since each man is obliged to be self-sustaining, no one has a right to the actions or products of other men (unless he earns that right through a process of voluntary trade). A right is not a claim to assistance or a guarantee of succes; if what one seeks involves the activity of other men, it is their right to choose whether to cooperate or not. A man's rights impose no duties on others, but only a negative obligation: others may not properly violate his rights."

Is an infant "right to support" a right to freedom of action?

How is an infant "right to support" not a right to the actions or products of other men?

If the mother-child process is a process of voluntary trade, what is the mother gaining?

Is an infant "right to support" a negative obligation?

A man must respect the freedom of human beings for a selfish reason: he stands to benefit enormously from their rational actions...

There are no rights to the labor of other men, and no rights of groups, parts, or nonhumans. There are only the rights of man, his right to pursue on his own a certain course of action.

The rights of men, Ayn Rand holds, can be violated by one means only: by the initiation of physical force (including its indirect forms, such as fraud). One cannot expropriate a man's values, or prevent him from pursuing values, or enslave him in any manner at all, except by the use of physical force. Whoever refrains from such initiation - whatever his virtues or vices, knowledge or errors - necessarily leaves the rights of others unbreached.

Does he mean that the enormous benefit from others' rational actions is a reason to always respect the freedom of human beings?

Is an infant "right to support" is not a right to the labor of other men?

Would violating an infant "right to support" be an initiation of physical force?

Doesn't a mother who refrains from initiation of force leaves the rights of her child unbreached?

Sorry for so many questions :lol:

thanks in advance :confused:

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If you recall, we've been over this territory. That argument is invalid and you've admitted it.
You are confusing two different things. I agreed (as distinguished from "admitting") that the mere fact that government is funded voluntarily does not justify making something a function of the government; I have never made such an argument. However, that does not negate the fact that if a government is funded voluntarily, then no one can be said to be "required" to support any thing the government does, including its proper functions.

I have NOT argued that the government should intervene in the case of child abandonment merely because government funding is voluntary. I have argued that government should intervene because the child has a right to material support from the parents, and the proper function of government is the protection of rights. I am sure you are aware of the distinction between these two arguments.

You, of course, disagree with the method of my derivation of the right -- and that is fine -- but please do not misrepresent my position.

No, not at all. My position is that the state should enforce it ONLY from the parents.

Let me give an example: If you are shot by a criminal, does the state pay your medical bill? No. You had the right to life (and therefore to not be shot) just as surely as a neglected child has a right to the support of his parents. In both cases, the state can and should bring legal action against the criminal. In neither case is the state required to provide material support to the victim.

I don't. I am against your specific form of derivation of that right. When you use the derivation that I outlined, it limits that right to the parents and only to the parents. Under your derivation, it is a universal right which EVERYONE, potentially, can be made to pay for.

I say again, it is not an axiom that all rights derived from man's nature may be invoked against all people. Since it is not an axiom, the burden is on you to show why such rights must be universal. Until you offer some support, your statement is an unsupported assertion.

Nor have you ever answered, at least as far as I can recall, why it is appropriate to protect the survival requirements inherent in man's nature as an adult, but ignore the survival requirements inherent in man's nature as an infant. The closest you have come is the "slippery slope" argument that a child's right to material support is the "thin edge" of the wedge of statism, if I recall your words properly.

This argument, however, amounts to saying that you will not consider acknowledging a right if doing so can be twisted into an argument for other things that are not rights. I share this concern to an extent, but by this logic, you would have to oppose all rights; even the right to life has been twisted into an argument for a right to a job, a right to medical care, a right to housing, etc.

I think you have a handle on the general idea of what I mean by that. (i.e. not literally crippled him, but effectively)
I think that is questionable. The parents have not injured or damaged the child in any fashion. They've done nothing to diminish the child's ability to deal with reality. As I said in my last post to RationalCop, is the act of "creating a helpless being" the same as the act of "making a being helpless"? I am not convinced that it is necessarily the same. But I am willing to listen to additional arguments on the point, if you have any.

Why not simply ask, does the right to be compensated for being causally placed in a detrimental condition by another person derive from man's nature? If it can be derived from man's nature, it is applicable to the child as well as to the adult since they are both "man".
What do you say about the fact that, unlike the injured man example, the parents have not injured or damaged the child in any fashion. They've done nothing to diminish the child's ability to deal with reality. Doesn't this distinguish the act of "creating a helpless being" from the act of "making a being helpless"?

I agree with the rest of your post.

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What do you say about the fact that, unlike the injured man example, the parents have not injured or damaged the child in any fashion. They've done nothing to diminish the child's ability to deal with reality. Doesn't this distinguish the act of "creating a helpless being" from the act of "making a being helpless"?

In terms of causal responsibility, I would ask why the distinction is important?

Would it be your contention that creating the child's helpless state infers LESS responsibility than making a being helpless?

They created the very existence of this being's "diminished" capacity.

As you have mentioned (whether if only in consideration of the idea, or if you really hold that position), the parents by creating the child's existence, have essentially created the child's helpless condition because they cannot bring the child into existence in any other way. How can one avoid acknowledging that they are in fact, causally responsible for the child's helpless condition? If it were bizarrely possible for them to create a child that was born self-sufficient, then that would change their obligations and this whole discussion. However, it is not possible. I don't think one can say, they made the child, but they didn't "make" the child helpless. They made everything that is that child.

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I have NOT argued that the government should intervene in the case of child abandonment merely because government funding is voluntary.

I disagree. By putting those words into that context, that is precisely what you were implying. What other possible reason would you have to bring up the voluntary funding of government in this context?

But let's not get bogged down in that point. I'm willing to accept you didn't intend to shift the argument in that direction, so let's not do so. As you said, the lynchpin here is whether or not the rights-derivation proceeds as you say or I say (or perhaps in some other way).

I say again, it is not an axiom that all rights derived from man's nature may be invoked against all people. Since it is not an axiom, the burden is on you to show why such rights must be universal. Until you offer some support, your statement is an unsupported assertion.

I thought it was shown quite thouroughly by your own example of how a government would intervene to "protect" the child's "rights." Note that the government doesn't intervene in this way for ANY OTHER initiation of force, such as a man being injured by a criminal.

Nor have you ever answered, at least as far as I can recall, why it is appropriate to protect the survival requirements inherent in man's nature as an adult, but ignore the survival requirements inherent in man's nature as an infant. The closest you have come is the "slippery slope" argument that a child's right to material support is the "thin edge" of the wedge of statism, if I recall your words properly.
I did cover this, but it was quite a while ago so I understand it could become lost in the confusion. An infant CANNOT survive qua infant. It CANNOT survive as an independant being; it must survive on the dime of someone else. If you read the definition given above of rights given by Dr. Peikoff, there is no kind or amount of "freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men" that will sustain or allow an infant to survive.

Consider also, your advocacy for the state to step in and care for orphans or neglected children (not just to force their parents to care for them). Note that from your own argument, the state can only step in to prevent an initiation of force. Well, what about a child orphaned in an accident? If the state must care for that child, then it is because it is preventing an initiation of force. WHO, then, is initiating force against that child? Presumably, ANYONE who doesn't walk by and provide care... the care that the child has a universal right to.

This argument, however, amounts to saying that you will not consider acknowledging a right if doing so can be twisted into an argument for other things that are not rights.

Not "twisted." I'm not "twisting" your position to say that it creates things which are not rights. You said yourself that the state steps in to provide care for orphans and such. (The argument that the "right to life" provides that kind of nonsense, is something we both agree IS "twisting.")

As I said in my last post to RationalCop, is the act of "creating a helpless being" the same as the act of "making a being helpless"? I am not convinced that it is necessarily the same.

It's not EXACTLY the same. But it's strikingly similar, enough so that it shows that legally, a parent has an obligation to... well... be a parent!

Also, note that as I have said before, it isn't necessary for the state to step in for orphans. I've covered this in detail before how a free system provides care. And if that's not good enough for you, remember that YOU can go ahead and fund orphans to your heart's content. But don't force ME to do it, brother.

How can one avoid acknowledging that they are in fact, causally responsible for the child's helpless condition?

Yes, precisely! :thumbsup:

Edited by Inspector
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I disagree. By putting those words into that context, that is precisely what you were implying. What other possible reason would you have to bring up the voluntary funding of government in this context?
Here is the full exchange that "brought up" the issue of voluntary funding of government:

AisA said: 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?

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

AisA said: 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.

Given the number of posts I have made arguing for children's rights based on their nature as helpless beings, I don't see any way to interpret the above as an advocacy of children's rights based on government funding being voluntary.

It is not my habit to forget the actual argument I am making and, instead, switch to an argument no Objectivist would make, only to switch back when confronted about it -- which is what your previous use of the term "admitted" implied.

But let's not get bogged down in that point. I'm willing to accept you didn't intend to shift the argument in that direction, so let's not do so.
I didn't shift the argument at all. I responded to the assertion, "AisA, you seem to be saying that everyone (via the state) should be required to provide guardianship.' I merely pointed out that since government financing should be voluntary, no one "should be required" to support any government activity they disagree with, including the proper ones.

Responding to another poster's incorrect interpretation of one's argument does not constitute a shifting of the argument. It constitutes clarification.

I thought it was shown quite thouroughly by your own example of how a government would intervene to "protect" the child's "rights." Note that the government doesn't intervene in this way for ANY OTHER initiation of force, such as a man being injured by a criminal.
I truly don't understand this. You keep saying, in effect, that if a child has a right to material support based on his nature as an infant rational being, then that would necessarily mean he could invoke that right against everybody. I keep saying, why must that be so? The right only applies to his parents.

Yes, if his parents default, the government should intervene because the government's function is to protect rights. Yes, protecting a child's right to support is a different form of protection than what is involved in protecting adults from criminals. That does not mean that the state has the right to sieze your money to pay for the upkeep of someone else's child -- just as it does not mean that the state should seize your money to pay for the prosecution of murderers or the performance of any other government activity. It means that the state should force the parents to provide support.

If the parents cannot be found or are killed, then yes, I think the government should take responsibility for the child until an adoption can be arranged. But no one should be forced to pay for this, just as no one should be forced to pay for the prosecution of other criminals.

I did cover this, but it was quite a while ago so I understand it could become lost in the confusion. An infant CANNOT survive qua infant. It CANNOT survive as an independant being; it must survive on the dime of someone else. If you read the definition given above of rights given by Dr. Peikoff, there is no kind or amount of "freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men" that will sustain or allow an infant to survive.

Consider also, your advocacy for the state to step in and care for orphans or neglected children (not just to force their parents to care for them). Note that from your own argument, the state can only step in to prevent an initiation of force. Well, what about a child orphaned in an accident? If the state must care for that child, then it is because it is preventing an initiation of force. WHO, then, is initiating force against that child? Presumably, ANYONE who doesn't walk by and provide care... the care that the child has a universal right to.

I have not argued that the state can only step in to prevent the initiation of force. I have argued that the state can only step in to protect individual rights. In the case of a child whose parents have died, that means providing minimal support until an adoption can be arranged. If people do not wish to support that function of government by voluntary contributions, the child will die.

Not "twisted." I'm not "twisting" your position to say that it creates things which are not rights. You said yourself that the state steps in to provide care for orphans and such. (The argument that the "right to life" provides that kind of nonsense, is something we both agree IS "twisting.")
I don't understand your response. I thought your comment about the thin edge of the wedge of statism meant that you opposed the notion of a child's right to material support because it would lend credence to other arguments for things that are not rights. Is that not what you meant?

It's not EXACTLY the same. But it's strikingly similar, enough so that it shows that legally, a parent has an obligation to... well... be a parent!
Would you say that giving birth to a cripple is the same thing as crippling an adult by breaking his spine?

Also, note that as I have said before, it isn't necessary for the state to step in for orphans. I've covered this in detail before how a free system provides care. And if that's not good enough for you, remember that YOU can go ahead and fund orphans to your heart's content. But don't force ME to do it, brother.
I see. You start this post by accusing me of using the VOLUNTARY funding of government to justify a right, and then you end this post by implying that I have proposed that you be FORCED to fund orphans, topped off with the term, "brother". I don't know what to say in response; I cannot find anything in any of my posts to justify such accusations.
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1) The "shift" is in your attempting to bring the "voluntary government" factor in as if it mattered ONE BIT. The fact is that if something is NOT the proper function of government, it SHOULD NOT be done by the government and being voluntarily funded means SQUAT.

I know that I said that your argument said that everyone was obligated to provide care. This remains true whether or not the government is voluntarily funded. I just don't see why you think that makes a difference.

You keep saying, in effect, that if a child has a right to material support based on his nature as an infant rational being, then that would necessarily mean he could invoke that right against everybody. I keep saying, why must that be so?
If the parents cannot be found or are killed, then yes, I think the government should take responsibility for the child until an adoption can be arranged.

QED. You've answered your own question.

I don't understand your response. I thought your comment about the thin edge of the wedge of statism meant that you opposed the notion of a child's right to material support because it would lend credence to other arguments for things that are not rights. Is that not what you meant?
Yes, that is what I meant. What I was saying there is that it doesn't require any "twisting" to turn your argument into an argument for things which are not rights; your argument DIRECTLY posits just that. You have said so yourself in the words I quoted above.

I see. You start this post by accusing me of using the VOLUNTARY funding of government to justify a right, and then you end this post by implying that I have proposed that you be FORCED to fund orphans, topped off with the term, "brother". I don't know what to say in response; I cannot find anything in any of my posts to justify such accusations.

Why does it matter if the government is voluntary? Even if a person didn't want their (voluntary) funds to go to your orphan charity, they would have no choice but to fund it in the course of funding the legitimate functions which they do want and need.

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The "shift" is in your attempting to bring the "voluntary government" factor in as if it mattered ONE BIT.
I only mentioned it in response to your claim that I wanted “everyone to be required to support the child. “ Since I don’t want that, am I not entitled to say so?

The fact is that if something is NOT the proper function of government, it SHOULD NOT be done by the government and being voluntarily funded means SQUAT.
No one, that I have seen, has argued otherwise.

I know that I said that your argument said that everyone was obligated to provide care. This remains true whether or not the government is voluntarily funded. I just don't see why you think that makes a difference.

I don’t think it makes any difference in determining what rights are proper. It simply means that it is false to say that “everyone is obligated to provide support” for something under a properly financed government.

You keep saying, in effect, that if a child has a right to material support based on his nature as an infant rational being, then that would necessarily mean he could invoke that right against everybody. I keep saying, why must that be so?

If the parents cannot be found or are killed, then yes, I think the government should take responsibility for the child until an adoption can be arranged.

QED. You've answered your own question.

That is a non-sequitur. A “child’s right to support may be invoked against everyone” does not follow from “the government should take care of him until an adoption can be arranged” – not unless you are making the statist assumption that the government is funded by coercive taxation.

I don't understand your response. I thought your comment about the thin edge of the wedge of statism meant that you opposed the notion of a child's right to material support because it would lend credence to other arguments for things that are not rights. Is that not what you meant?

Yes, that is what I meant. What I was saying there is that it doesn't require any "twisting" to turn your argument into an argument for things which are not rights; your argument DIRECTLY posits just that. You have said so yourself in the words I quoted above.

You have lost me with this. I understand that you disagree with me on this issue, but I cannot find, in any of my posts, the statement, “The following things are not rights but I wish to push them as rights nonetheless.” If I have not said such a thing, I don’t see how you can say I have DIRECTLY posited such a thing “in my own words”.

I see. You start this post by accusing me of using the VOLUNTARY funding of government to justify a right, and then you end this post by implying that I have proposed that you be FORCED to fund orphans, topped off with the term, "brother". I don't know what to say in response; I cannot find anything in any of my posts to justify such accusations.

Why does it matter if the government is voluntary? Even if a person didn't want their (voluntary) funds to go to your orphan charity, they would have no choice but to fund it in the course of funding the legitimate functions which they do want and need.

Why is this necessarily so? Why can’t the department of children’s services be a separate department that operates strictly on the basis of direct donations to that department? Why does all government funding have to be through one lump sum payment?

For instance, wouldn't we want the Department of Defense to be seperately funded so that anyone who opposes a given war is not required to indirectly support it?

Of course, you may respond, “It doesn’t matter, "orphan charity" is not a valid function of the government in the first place”. Okay, but that is a different issue than the one you have raised above, is it not?

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I only mentioned it in response to your claim that I wanted “everyone to be required to support the child. “ Since I don’t want that, am I not entitled to say so?

I don't know quite how to put this...

What if I changed the wording from "everyone to be required to support the child" to "anyone besides the parent to be required to support the child?"

That is a non-sequitur. A “child’s right to support may be invoked against everyone” does not follow from “the government should take care of him until an adoption can be arranged” – not unless you are making the statist assumption that the government is funded by coercive taxation.
The right is still being invoked against people other than the parents, even if there exist people who aren't contributing to a government. Even in today's united states, there are people who are poor enough that they aren't paying taxes, and yet the expression "society at large is made to foot the bill for social security" is a valid one.

You have lost me with this. I understand that you disagree with me on this issue, but I cannot find, in any of my posts, the statement, “The following things are not rights but I wish to push them as rights nonetheless.” If I have not said such a thing, I don’t see how you can say I have DIRECTLY posited such a thing “in my own words”.

Have you not asserted that the child may claim support, by right, from persons other than their parents? That is not a right and you are asserting that it is.

Why is this necessarily so? Why can’t the department of children’s services be a separate department that operates strictly on the basis of direct donations to that department? Why does all government funding have to be through one lump sum payment?

At that point, what would distinguish this "children's services" from a private charity? And how would the people who aren't donating to that branch of the government NOT be "initiating force" against the orphans by not providing their rightful care?

For instance, wouldn't we want the Department of Defense to be seperately funded so that anyone who opposes a given war is not required to indirectly support it?
No, that would result in chaos. A sort of "direct democracy" in foreign policy. There is a very good reason for a representative government.

Of course, you may respond, “It doesn’t matter, "orphan charity" is not a valid function of the government in the first place”. Okay, but that is a different issue than the one you have raised above, is it not?

Well, you know I will. But I think that maybe the rest will be clearer. (I hope)

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I only mentioned it in response to your claim that I wanted “everyone to be required to support the child. “ Since I don’t want that, am I not entitled to say so?

I don't know quite how to put this...

What if I changed the wording from "everyone to be required to support the child" to "anyone besides the parent to be required to support the child?"

If people are free to donate to a state department of children’s services, or NOT donate, how is anyone being “required” to support the child?

That is a non-sequitur. A “child’s right to support may be invoked against everyone” does not follow from “the government should take care of him until an adoption can be arranged” – not unless you are making the statist assumption that the government is funded by coercive taxation.

The right is still being invoked against people other than the parents, even if there exist people who aren't contributing to a government. Even in today's united states, there are people who are poor enough that they aren't paying taxes, and yet the expression "society at large is made to foot the bill for social security" is a valid one.

How can you equate the two situations? In one case, one escapes taxation only by existing in poverty with little or no income; in the other situation, one escapes taxation because there isn't any -- and one is free to pay as much or as little for whatever government function one wishes.

You have lost me with this. I understand that you disagree with me on this issue, but I cannot find, in any of my posts, the statement, “The following things are not rights but I wish to push them as rights nonetheless.” If I have not said such a thing, I don’t see how you can say I have DIRECTLY posited such a thing “in my own words”.

Have you not asserted that the child may claim support, by right, from persons other than their parents?

No, I have not. If the state steps in to arrange an adoption in the event of the death of the parents, and the funding for that is voluntary, the child is not asserting a right against anyone. Essentially, the government is helping the child ask for help. If no one wants to help, the child perishes. If a private charity wants to take over at that point, great. I don’t see the problem with the government, whose function is to protect rights, acting as a temporary guardian of the child’s rights until a permanent guardian is found.

Why is this necessarily so? Why can’t the department of children’s services be a separate department that operates strictly on the basis of direct donations to that department? Why does all government funding have to be through one lump sum payment?

At that point, what would distinguish this "children's services" from a private charity?

A private charity cannot take action against the parents; for example, they cannot put out an all-points-bulletin to search for the parents; they cannot seize the parent’s assets to pay for the child’s care; they cannot issue subpoenas to check the parent’s bank accounts or search for hidden accounts. The state can do these things.

And how would the people who aren't donating to that branch of the government NOT be "initiating force" against the orphans by not providing their rightful care?
I am amazed that you would ask this question. The child’s right to care extends only to the parents. Everything else they receive must be given voluntarily. You seem to take it as an absolute, as an axiom, that if the government is involved in helping the child find a new guardian, then it automatically means the child has the right to demand care from everyone. But why does that have to necessarily be the case?

For instance, wouldn't we want the Department of Defense to be seperately funded so that anyone who opposes a given war is not required to indirectly support it?

No, that would result in chaos. A sort of "direct democracy" in foreign policy. There is a very good reason for a representative government.

I don’t see why it would result in chaos. If someone does not want to fund a war, why should they be required to do so? I assume you would not think anyone should be required to fund a war any more than they should be required to fund the care of someone else's child. So why wouldn't government financing be set up accordingly?
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If people are free to donate to a state department of children’s services, or NOT donate, how is anyone being “required” to support the child?

That model is NOT a government, but a CHARITY.

A private charity cannot take action against the parents; for example, they cannot put out an all-points-bulletin to search for the parents; they cannot seize the parent’s assets to pay for the child’s care; they cannot issue subpoenas to check the parent’s bank accounts or search for hidden accounts. The state can do these things.
ALL of those things would be done by the government in my model. A "department of children's services" ISN'T necessary for any of that. Absent from that list is that actual supporting of the child, which should be handled by PRIVATE CHARITY.

How can you equate the two situations? In one case, one escapes taxation only by existing in poverty with little or no income; in the other situation, one escapes taxation because there isn't any -- and one is free to pay as much or as little for whatever government function one wishes.

In the only model of voluntarily-funded government I've ever seen, the state charges "contract enforcement" fees and other fees (court fees?) for government services. (The idea being that these fees pay for the services that the government provides that it CAN'T charge for, such as police, military, etc) Of course, people would still be free to donate to the government, or to departments of it, but there would be NO way to ensure that your fee money wouldn't go to any specific branch or department.

No, I have not. If the state steps in to arrange an adoption in the event of the death of the parents, and the funding for that is voluntary, the child is not asserting a right against anyone. Essentially, the government is helping the child ask for help.

Yes, the child IS. The child is asserting a right to “help with asking for help.” Remember, the ONLY function of an Objectivist government is the protection of individual rights. ANY action that government takes MUST be to protect a right. If the government is providing temporary care to an orphan, then de facto that orphan has “the right to temporary care.” No matter how much you limit the scope of this care or support, if it is done by the government, then it is an assertion of a right.

I don’t see the problem with the government, whose function is to protect rights, acting as a temporary guardian of the child’s rights until a permanent guardian is found.

Emphasis mine. I hope you see this proves the point I was making above.

The child’s right to care extends only to the parents. Everything else they receive must be given voluntarily. You seem to take it as an absolute, as an axiom, that if the government is involved in helping the child find a new guardian, then it automatically means the child has the right to demand care from everyone. But why does that have to necessarily be the case?
I hope that you see this is answered by my above statement. If the government’s sole function is the protection of rights, and someone gets something from the government, then by definition that “something” must be theirs by right.

If someone does not want to fund a war, why should they be required to do so? … So why wouldn't government financing be set up accordingly?

This demands its own topic, which if you want answers, you should start…

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I don't think one can say, they made the child, but they didn't "make" the child helpless. They made everything that is that child.
If a child is born with a defective heart and dies shortly after birth, would you say, "The parents made him defective and are therefore responsible for his death"? Or would you say that the possibility of such an occurrence is inherent in the nature of a child, i.e. it is an inherent possibility in the process of creating a child, and therefore the parents cannot be held responsible?

In addition to that question, here are some things to consider about the differences between "making a helpless being" and "making a being helpless".

In the case of "making a being helpless", as in the case of an injured adult, the being involved suffers a loss; (note that, legally, to collect compensation one must prove damages.) Something that was rightfully his has been taken away.

In "making a helpless being", as in giving birth to the child, the being involved does not suffer a loss. Nothing that was rightfully his has been taken away.

Why, then, is a being that has not suffered a loss, nor had anything taken away, entitled to compensation?

I am not saying I disagree with the compensation argument; I'm still thinking about it. But I do see these problems and wonder what you think about them.

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ALL of those things would be done by the government in my model. A "department of children's services" ISN'T necessary for any of that. Absent from that list is that actual supporting of the child, which should be handled by PRIVATE CHARITY.
Putting an assertion into all capitals does not make it true or support it in any fashion.

In the only model of voluntarily-funded government I've ever seen, the state charges "contract enforcement" fees and other fees (court fees?) for government services. (The idea being that these fees pay for the services that the government provides that it CAN'T charge for, such as police, military, etc) Of course, people would still be free to donate to the government, or to departments of it, but there would be NO way to ensure that your fee money wouldn't go to any specific branch or department.
The fact that this is the only model you have seen does not prove that it is the only possible model.

Yes, the child IS. The child is asserting a right to “help with asking for help.” Remember, the ONLY function of an Objectivist government is the protection of individual rights. ANY action that government takes MUST be to protect a right. If the government is providing temporary care to an orphan, then de facto that orphan has “the right to temporary care.” No matter how much you limit the scope of this care or support, if it is done by the government, then it is an assertion of a right.
Of course it is an assertion of a right. That is not the issue. The issue is your assumption that any such "assertion of a right" means an assertion against everyone. You continue to state that as if it were an axiom that requires no support. But it isn't an axiom, and it isn't true, and it isn't even what you advocate.

For instance, you just said that the government should protect the child's right by attempting to find his parents, seize their assets, etc. Clearly, here is a case where a child has a right, that the government should protect, that applies only to his parents, and no one else. Those efforts by the government are the child's by right, but they apply to no one other than the parents. Why, then, does a child's right to have the government help him "ask for help", become a right that can be asserted against everyone?

I don’t see the problem with the government, whose function is to protect rights, acting as a temporary guardian of the child’s rights until a permanent guardian is found.

Emphasis mine. I hope you see this proves the point I was making above.

I hope that you see this is answered by my above statement. If the government’s sole function is the protection of rights, and someone gets something from the government, then by definition that “something” must be theirs by right.

If you want to prove something, try to prove your notion that any right protected by the government must automatically be a right that can be invoked against everyone else on the planet.
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Of course it is an assertion of a right.

...and it is a right to what? In my case, the only right being asserted is the right to have the parents perform their duties as guardians. In your case, there is a right to material support being asserted against the government. (i.e. an entity other than the parents)

For instance, you just said that the government should protect the child's right by attempting to find his parents, seize their assets, etc. Clearly, here is a case where a child has a right, that the government should protect, that applies only to his parents, and no one else. Those efforts by the government are the child's by right, but they apply to no one other than the parents.
Yes, agreed, by searching for the parents, seizing their assets, etc, the child's right is still only being asserted against the parents.

Why, then, does a child's right to have the government help him "ask for help", become a right that can be asserted against everyone?

This is not merely a right to "help with asking for help," it is a right to material support, albeit for a limited (though unspecified) time frame.

Given this fact, it should be clear why this is an assertion of a right to material support from someone other than the child's parents.

Also, you seem to claim that there exists a right to material support, but only for a limited time, and this makes no sense. Either the government is obliged to provide support for the child not at all, or it is obliged to do so until adulthood, if necessary.

If you want to prove something, try to prove your notion that any right protected by the government must automatically be a right that can be invoked against everyone else on the planet.

How about addressing what I said:

A full laissez-faire government acts only to protect rights. Any action taken by this kind of government is only to protect a right. The only support that such a government could provide to an orphan would be support that is funded by the assets seized from that child's parents. If any other assets are used, then logically this is an assertion that the child has the right to assets other than those of the parents.

As I said, if you are interested in having orphans be supported by funds of people who voluntarily donate, then use a private charity. The government, whose only function is to protect rights, has no business doing this! The goverment's domain is to find the parents, seize their assets, etc.

Edited by Inspector
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If a child is born with a defective heart and dies shortly after birth, would you say, "The parents made him defective and are therefore responsible for his death"? Or would you say that the possibility of such an occurrence is inherent in the nature of a child, i.e. it is an inherent possibility in the process of creating a child, and therefore the parents cannot be held responsible?

Though not directed at me, I would like to begin to answer this question. A key issue is causation, and a key in causation is control. What do the parents have control over in most situations? Whether to conceive the child, and whether to birth it.

Regarding your defect, parents usually do not have control over defects. There are very risky behaviors, such as ingesting insane amounts of drugs, that might pose such a risk that they might be considered "causing" the defect. But defects are not the norm. A defect should not be expected. That's why it's called a defect, because it's not normal. So, in order to say that the parent caused the defect, you would usually have to say that the parent should be responsible for the unusual situation. That is, if giving birth at all will be considered causing a defect, then you're holding a parent responsible for the abnormal.

Regarding feeding a child, however, a child needing to be fed is the norm. Not only is it the norm, it's true in every instance. Feeding should be expected. The chain of causation is much stronger there.

I don't know what to do with all this information, as I'm still sorting it out. But perhaps there's a meaningful distinction in there somewhere.

[Edit: I'm going to sum this up addressing the emphasized language of the original post. If you give birth to a child, there is a possibility it might have a defect. If you give birth to a child, don't feed it, and don't give it over to someone who will feed it, it is more than a possibility the child will die. It is a certainty.]

Edited by Groovenstein
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If a child is born with a defective heart and dies shortly after birth, would you say, "The parents made him defective and are therefore responsible for his death"?

The distinction I draw here is, did the parents intentionally create the child with a congenital defect? Not all children are born with congenital defects. Some causes of congenital defects are known and to some degree predictable, and others are not.

By contrast, ALL of mankind (children) is born helpless, period. There are no if, ands, or buts. The parents know when they make the decision to have a child, that it WILL be born in a helpless condition. They do not know that whether or not it will be born with a congenital defect. By analogy, if I intentionally shoot a person in the head and kill him, is my action as legally culpable as if I were going to the store to get some milk and accidentally get involved in a car accident which results in another's death? I had not intention to kill the person, nor did I know in advance that when going to the store I would be involved in a fatal accident. I bear some culpability, but not nearly the same level.

So are they responsible for creating the baby with congenital defects and his subsequent death? Yes, certainly no one else did. However, the degree to which they are responsible in terms of intent means they aren't murdering the child or anything. They (probably) had no control over the defect, and they (probably) had no intent or knowledge to produce it. They have ABSOLUTE control over whether the baby is born at all in it's ABSOLUTELY unavoidable helpless condition.

If however they know in advance that the baby is going to be born with a congenital defect, their responsibility (should they decide they are going to have the baby) is to provide the baby whatever prenatal medical care they possibly can in order to improve or eradicate such congenital defect.

Now one might consider a bizarre scenario where the parents are actually injecting all kinds of chemicals into the fetus with the specific intent of creating a child with defects, but I think that is highly unlikely. More likely would be that the parents live some kind of unhealthy lifestyle which may impact the child's health and development. In this case, you may actually have a "loss" case for the child. If the child has defects because mom was a crackhead, the child suffered the "loss" of not being born a normal healthy baby due to actions directly attributable to the mother.

Why, then, is a being that has not suffered a loss, nor had anything taken away, entitled to compensation?

As far as I'm concerned, this is irrelevant for reasons I have already stated. If you can convince me that it bears some relevance, I will consider it further. They have created everything that is that entity, it's helpless state intentionally (because there is no other way to create a child), any defects (probably) unintentionally and (probably) unknowingly.

PS: Thanks for veering back to our line of discussion. :)

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This is not merely a right to "help with asking for help," it is a right to material support, albeit for a limited (though unspecified) time frame.
Why is it not merely a right to "help with asking for help"? Why does it inherently expand to include a "right to material support"? If no one wants to fund this function of government, the child will perish; in what sense, then, is he exercising anything other than a request for help?

Given this fact, it should be clear why this is an assertion of a right to material support from someone other than the child's parents.
But it isn't a fact that "a right to help in asking for help" means the same thing as "a right to material support". The right to ask for something is not the same as the right to have it.

Also, you seem to claim that there exists a right to material support, but only for a limited time, and this makes no sense.
There only exists a right to material support from the parents until the child is able to function as an adult.

Either the government is obliged to provide support for the child not at all, or it is obliged to do so until adulthood, if necessary.
No, the government is only obligated to help as long as people are willing to fund it, which, if what you say about charities is true, won't be for long.

How about addressing what I said:

A full laissez-faire government acts only to protect rights. Any action taken by this kind of government is only to protect a right. The only support that such a government could provide to an orphan would be support that is funded by the assets seized from that child's parents. If any other assets are used, then logically this is an assertion that the child has the right to assets other than those of the parents.

If you fail to donate to the government, then "assets other than yours" will be used to pay the police that come to your house when there is a break-in. Does this mean that you are "asserting a right to assets other than yours"? No, it means that you're benefiting from assets volunteered by others; it does not mean you have a right to them.

As I said, if you are interested in having orphans be supported by funds of people who voluntarily donate, then use a private charity. The government, whose only function is to protect rights, has no business doing this! The goverment's domain is to find the parents, seize their assets, etc.
Why is an infant's right to ask for help not a right the government should protect?
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