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Minors: Rights And Children

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Heck, why would it even need to be the state? A bank might give such a loan, or a corporation might sponsor the child if it thought it could profit... The possibilities are endless, and there's no reason to force anyone!

That's an idea. The kid grows up well fed & cared for courtesy of his backers, gets a good education courtesy of his backers and pays it back when he can fend for himself. The company, in turn, gets the interest from the loan and possibly an invaluable employee...

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I have thought on this topic quite often with little success. My biggest barrier in unravling this is defining the line at which a child becomes an adult. My previous post touches on what I think might be the answer however I am not sure now if it covers everything. Is that a matter of statutory law? Is there no objective standard other than an "average age of competence?" Clearly there is a difference between the rights of a child and the rights of an adult, but again at what point does it change? The exploration of the specifics of the parent-child relationship will, I think, reveal most questions involving child rights. However, that aspect of the issue doesn't seem to address the adult/child line.

Any thoughts?

Felipe I thoroughly enjoyed your post on you site. It brought to light quite a few point I had yet to consider.

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Moderator's note: Reader discretion advised:

The subject of this thread is controversial. No particular poster's comments should be assumed to represent "the Objectivist position".

I think it would be helpful to Neverone to identify what you think a right is and where rights come from before asking if he can justify granting rights based on genetics -- a viewpoint no Objectivist would entertain.

Before I delve into rights, I would like to present a definition of humanity that many here are familiar with: Man is the rational animal. Therefore, to live in a human sense, is to live rationally. This is something that will come into play when defining man's rights.

My view of rights is consistent with Ayn Rand's as she summarizes it in "Man's Rights," Virtue of Selfishness, 124 pb 93:

A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context.
Addressing just this sentence, it is clear that a fetus has no freedom of action. A newborn is engaging in some form of self directed action simply by developing concepts and learning to use its body. A fetus is not engaging in willful action to become human; its mother is the one responsible for gestation.

To continue the quote from where I left off:

There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action -- which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

The concept of a "right" pertains only to action -- specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

This last sentence is where parental obligation makes the situation slightly (and only slightly) more complex. A newborn child did nothing to make it what it is; an independent, yet helpless, human. The responsibility for its existence lies with its parents. This is where the parental obligation originates. It is the parents' obligation to facilitate the newborn's growth to the point where it can sustain and make choices regarding its own existence.

Also, regarding some things brought up in previous posts...

Associating rights with genetics is dangerous for two reasons: One, it divorces the concept from the individual, where it belongs. And two, it attaches the concept to something non-essential.

Because, Neverone, you are fond of examples derived from science fiction, I'll give one of my own. Let's say that a new breed of lemur was capable of living primarily by its mind, forming high concepts and language, inventing new technology to sustain itself, resolving disputes through argumentation instead of violence and engaging, understanding and abiding by contractual agreements. Would the accident of its genes bar it from having rights?

More importantly, I will rephrase a question posed by HunterRose: Why grant rights based on genetics?

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Moderator's note: Reader discretion advised:

The subject of this thread is controversial. No particular poster's comments should be assumed to represent "the Objectivist position".

It has occured to me that, if the statements some of you have made, particularly Ms. Snow, are representative of your beliefs, that I am indeed not an Objectivist nor even close to one. Examples such as "children have no more right to support than adults do" and "Does this mean that people can choose to neglect their children for perfectly irrational reasons? Yes." and "child support legislation is a travesty and a hideous miscarriage of justice" and most particularly "If she's incapable of providing support, well, the most merciful thing would probably be what the ancients used to do and some incredibly poor people still do; exposure." No one seems to have challenged these statements in any way, other than those, like myself, who differ from the general Objectivist thinking. I realize that I have not included all context with these quotes, but Ms. Snow seems to be quite stalwart in not basing her stances on particular contexts.

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If I am right, and these are consistent with the general understanding of Objectivist philosophy, then consensus Objectivism is a monstrosity, and hardline Objectivists are monsters. I'm going to go force my opinion on someone.

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It has occured to me that, if the statements some of you have made, particularly Ms. Snow, are representative of your beliefs, that I am indeed not an Objectivist nor even close to one.

Take caution against using the views of members of this site as representative of the Objectivist view on an issue, unless it is explicitly stated as being so. Even in the cases where it is explicitly stated, understand that there may be a misinterpretation involved. For an accurate statement of Objectivism, I'll just point to all of Ayn Rand's philosophical works.

I disagree with a number of the things Jennifer said in that post (though not all of them).

Edit: Actually, I think my original disagreement may have been due to some missed context from the previous post. I want to clarify.

Was the post quoted by Neverone supposed to be relating to contexts where the parents wanted to abort, but for whatever reason, the baby was born anyway. Such as a man who expresses to a woman he impregnated that he has no desire to be a parent, and she carries through with the pregnancy, or in countries where abortion is illegal? Or were they meant to be valid for all parents?

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If I am right, and these are consistent with the general understanding of Objectivist philosophy, then consensus Objectivism is a monstrosity, and hardline Objectivists are monsters. I'm going to go force my opinion on someone.

Thank you: there are a few people I work with who'd probably agree with you on that (at least about me) but they're socialists, so I don't mind too much :)

With all the above posts to read through you seem to have missed a central tenet of Objectivism; namely, that when people say that the unwanted child (for whatever reason it is unwanted) should be allowed to be born and be raised it supposes the question: At who's expense? No-one has the right to take away someone elses' property without their consent, and considering the cost of raising a child the money must come from somewhere- whether it be the mother too scared by 'Public Opinion' to have an abortion, or the tax-payers forced to subsidise welfare payments. If the child is wanted then (hopefully) the parent(s) will take financial and practical responsibility for the childbut if unwanted then the rights of the parent(s) to pursue their own happiness is curtailed due to the time and effort involved in the upbringing.

Also, since the mother has a right to her own life, no-one has the right to force her to undergo the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and labour. If a mother decides, objectively, that a child is of such value to her that she is willing to go through with child-bearing then that is one thing. No-one else has that right to make the choice for her-at least, not in a rational society that respects individual rights.

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Does this mean that people can choose to neglect their children for perfectly irrational reasons? Yes. But no government in the world could possibly act to secure support for a potentially unlimited number of children; as the saying goes, "free milk for part of the population means slavery for the rest." If the goal is unachievable, unattainable, unmanageable, and impossible in principle, any attempt to enact it in reality is doomed to failure and can only function as a sort of metaphorical blood transfusion from the good to the evil, keeping the evil alive while destroying the good.
Is it your position that a child does not have a right to expect a minimal level of support from his parents? I believe that he does, within limits. (One such limit would be a minimal level of rationality on the child's part.) If a child does possess such a right, then a failure, by the parents, to provide that support would constitute a violation of the child's rights. This should trigger government intervention.

Of course, there are many specifics to be settled to properly protect both the child's right to minimal support and the parent's rights as well. What, for instance, constitutes a minimal level of support? What sort of government intervention is appropriate? And so forth.

However, I do not see how the notion of a child's right to minimal support necessarily means that the government must be prepared to support every child in society. Government is expected to defend our rights against criminals, but this does not mean we expect the government to be able to defend us all from criminal attacks simultaneously. Criminals are a small minority in a free society, which makes a police force and criminal justice system economically and logistically feasible. Would it not be reasonable to assume that irresponsible parents would also be a small minority?

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Michael, please explain your reasoning that a child has a right to a certain minimal level of support.

There's a name for the notion that people are entitled to a certain minimal level of support: The Welfare State. The nature of the beast does not change if you apply the idea only to children. As with all questions of this sort, people often start out by saying "Isn't it desirable that all children have the support they need to reach adult functioning?" My question is: "Whose support? Who is going to pay for it?"

Don't use deduction to arrive at the conclusion that because children need support that they are entilted to it: project what would be the results of such a program. Hmm, we already have this, so we don't exactly have to project the results.

1. Legislation of what children's needs are, who has to provide for them, etc. Bureaucracy, Social Workers invading people's homes, children taken forcibly from their parents and even children forcibly returned to delinquent parents, taken from someone that WILL provide for them. THIS is a travesty.

2. Ever-increasing benefits to children (this happens with any kind of entitlement system, until it becomes bankrupt, and sometimes even afterwards) because they "need them", that need being decided, of course, by the government. Unless, that is, you intend to set the limit of benefits in stone and prevent it from ever being changed.

3. An ever-increasing number of children of the irresponsible being put on this program. Why not? The government will pick up the tab! There's no penalty for acting irrationally any more: you have cut people off from the consequences of their actions. THIS is why the problem eventually becomes that of supporting an endless number of children. What's been the result of this in real life? Judges ordering women (and some men) to be forcibly prevented from reproducing until such time as they can support the children they already have. Good heavens, it's an invasion of your life tantamount to someone standing over you while you're screwing. You can't tell me that this is desirable, and it is the necessary and logical consequence of such a program. Why? Because the government is responsible to taxpayers for all expenditures, and if your sex life is a cause of government expenditures, the government MUST become the aribiter of your sex life. One follows the other.

EVERY entitlement program of ANY kind has followed this pattern. Medicare. Welfare. Corporate subsidies. Subsidized education. EVERYTHING.

Now, what would be a sensible manner of handling this situation? Instead of proclaiming that children are entitled to support (which they aren't, because, as I said, no one could support an unlimited number of children: let them cry their entitlement to the unfeeling universe) what you say is that children are entitled to not be denyed support if it is offered. This kills two birds with one stone: the government can still LEGALLY take children away from delinquent parents if there is somewhere better for those children to go, and the people that are willing to support the child (grandparents, foster parents, even a police officer drawing on petty cash for a few days if necessary) have the force of the law enabling them to continue doing so, a situation that does not obtain now. Kids are cute, and unless a country is impoverished (or birth control is forbidden or unavailable) there's almost always (I'd be tempted to say "always", but I know it's not quite true) someone willing to take care of them if you look hard enough. Without the government check that comes with foster care now you won't have the moochers that take advantage of the system, either, so it won't be difficult to screen for decent people.

Now, it is reasonable to have legislation providing that if you are a child's guardian and you permit that child to come to harm through inaction, you are as liable as though you caused the harm by pre-meditated action, (i.e. assault, murder, what have you) but like all criminal laws the government cannot do anything until a crime has actually happened. Preemptive law punishes the innocent for crimes that they might commit, and it is not just to ever punish an innocent man; it is a far greater injustice than failing to punish a guilty one.

As for triggering government action: only a complaint of some kind can trigger government action, (hence why you have the "plaintiff") whether it be someone turning up missing, a body being found, someone going to the police, what have you. There is a cute summarization from a Terry Pratchett novel (paraphrase):

Sure, law enforcement would love to be able to prevent crimes from happening, but the fact is we don't have enough police, say, one per person, to follow people around all day and make sure nothing untoward happens. Even if you wanted to, where are you going to find that many men? And who is going to pay for them? And who wants a policeman following them around all the time, anyway?!

Generally what happens now is that I'll get accused of "Pragmatism" . . . but Pragmatism is the idea that there is no way to derive a principle to guide you, so you have to just "try it and see". Here, I have derived a principle from my objective observations and applied reason to it. What philosophy advocates that, again?

The fundamental choice here is between the loss of liberty for security . . . an illusory security, because the government is no more omniscient nor omnipotent than the individuals that work for it . . . and a security provided by liberty. Neither will ALWAYS prevent evil. But I'd say the choice is pretty clear.

Dave: I think this answers your question as well. If impoverished parents in modern America were to expose one of their children (or otherwise put them to death) it would be a criminal act . . . because they could have chosen to try and find someone else to care for the child. My comment was along the lines that exposure would be a kindness if and only if no one was willing or able to do so. Why is willing important? Because slaves tend to resent their masters just a wee bit and God help the unknowing child "master" that is resented by an adult "slave": a child has no ability to defend himself from the tortures such a "parent" could devise--tortures that would leave no physical marks but destroy the child as surely as a bullet would have.

To Neverone: If that is unfeeling, then, well then, yes, I guess I have never felt anything at all.

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It has occured to me that, if the statements some of you have made, particularly Ms. Snow, are representative of your beliefs, that I am indeed not an Objectivist nor even close to one.

As a brief aside, I find it amusing that no one (except me . . . I call Burgess "Mr. Laughlin" sometimes) uses honorifics unless they're attempting to be snarky.

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Moderator's note: Some readers have expressed disgust at this post and have questioned if it even belongs on the forum. Subsequent posts show that this post has not remained unchallenged by other members.

It has occurred to me that, if the statements some of you have made, particularly Ms. Snow, are representative of your beliefs, that I am indeed not an Objectivist nor even close to one. Examples such as "children have no more right to support than adults do" and "Does this mean that people can choose to neglect their children for perfectly irrational reasons? Yes." and "child support legislation is a travesty and a hideous miscarriage of justice" and most particularly "If she's incapable of providing support, well, the most merciful thing would probably be what the ancients used to do and some incredibly poor people still do; exposure."

If this makes Jennifer Snow a monster, then I am an even bigger monster.

I think that if the parents are dissatisfied with their child, e.g. if it has a birth defect, then they may ethically abandon it to die and have another child instead.

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I think that if the parents are dissatisfied with their child, e.g. if it has a birth defect, then they may ethically abandon it to die and have another child instead.

1. When you say "dissatisfied," does that mean for any reason? If not, what standard do you use? If so, then you don't need the "dissatisfied" criteria. They may abandon it for any reason, period.

2. If they may abandon it, may they also affirmatively kill it, such as with a gun? If not, I'm curious why, because when you're talking about a child, abandonment is pretty much the same as affirmative death, and particularly so when you've said they may ethically abandon it to die (emphasis mine).

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A child, as a rational being, has the same rights as an adult.

“A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right……a man’s right to his own life…… The right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action – which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life.” (Lexicon, pg 212)

What does this mean in the context of a child? The "self-sustaining and self-generated" action the child must take is to undergo a process of acquiring knowledge and growing, both physically and mentally, so that he may eventually initiate the adult act of sustaining his own life. This initial action is an absolutely necessary and inescapable precursor to the full exercise of his right to life – every child begins life with the right to take this action. If a child does not have a right to take this action -- without which he cannot possibly ever exercise his right to life in an adult sense -- then he cannot be said to have a right to life.

And – based on the principle that adults are responsible for their actions – the adults that created the child have the obligation of providing the material support required for him to initiate and sustain the process of learning and growing. The act of creating a rational being brings with it the obligation – the chosen obligation – of helping that rational being exercise its right to life.

“’Rights’ are a moral concept – the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to principles guiding his relationship with others – the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context – the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society…” (Lexicon, pg 213)

In its most basic terms, the moral code of a man, of an Objectivist man, is summarized as follows:

“All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that destroys it is the evil.” (Atlas Shrugged, pg, 940)

Accepting responsibility for one’s actions is clearly “proper to the life of a rational being”. Nothing about “the life of a rational being” suggests that one should be allowed to create new rational beings and allow them to die of starvation or neglect. Indeed, since every rational being must grow from child to adult, it is clearly "proper to the life of a rational being" that this transition occur -- and the only logical place to assign the obligation of supporting this transition is to the adults that created the rational being. They and they alone have control over whether or not this obligation is brought into existence.

The purpose of the concept of rights, then, is to define the conditions that must exist, vis-à-vis other men (i.e. the social condition that must exist), for rational beings to properly coexist. When the rational beings in question are adults, the basic condition that must prevail is a ban on the initiation of force. When the rational beings in question are a child and its parents, the basic condition that must prevail is the provision of material support by the parent while the child exercises the initial stages of its right to life.

The alternative is to say that it is proper and valid to create an organization (a government) that insures that the fundamental social requirement of adult rational beings is met (i.e. that bans the initiation of force), but ignores the fundamental social requirements of infant rational beings (i.e. that permits parents to abandon their children). This would mean that man has the right to life, but man does not have the right to be supported by those that created him in the absolutely inescapable and universally required transition from child to adult, a transition inherent in man's nature and identity. It means that man has the right to be an adult, but no right to get there. That does not make sense to me.

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There cannot be any such thing as a right to a thing, though, only rights to actions. If you are incapable of carrying out an action that doesn't mean that you somehow instantly get a right to the products of that action. Even an adult human has no inherent right to existence, that would be a right to a thing. What an adult has is the right to provide for his own existence.

Rights are derived from the status and requirements of an adult human being; this may be why you're thinking that I'm saying only adults have rights and sweeping children under the mat. No, children have rights. What they do not have is rights that aren't rights at all.

I agree that abandoning a child that you could support is immoral. (I do agree, to an extent, if the child cannot be a value to you for a specific reason, namely a permanent and irreparable physical defect, then even this may not be immoral.) I even explained above that it would be illegal if there existed anyone who would be willing and able to support said child. However, that does not mean that any entitlement can be assumed or provided-for under the law. Just as it would be both immoral and illegal to take advantage of temporary disability on an adult's part and cause them harm, that doesn't mean that the government can or should step in to provide security for temporarily disabled adults.

The fact that someone had a choice in the past does not mean that they are no longer entitled to a choice now. This is one of the arguments of anti-abortionists "you chose to have sex you can deal with the consequences". Imagine what would happen if someone told you that your choice to take a job, or get married, or what-have-you was permanent and could not be rescinded! The result would be, in a responsible individual, endless self-denial, lest one incur a hideous disvalue, and in an irresponsible individual, to choose on whim and enjoy the fact that your employer, spouse, what-have-you now can't be rid of you, so you can act however you please. Legal situations such as these turn an obligation into a duty, and there's nothing better to destroy any value you might percieve in a choice than telling someone that they have to.

Proponents of this duty-centered view of childrearing are assuming two things that are false: having a child is some sort of hideous ball-and-chain disvalue, and people are so evil that they would be ditching their responsibilities willy-nilly if there were any out. BOTH are false and BOTH are in fact CAUSED BY a duty-centered view of child support! If you don't have an out of any kind, then your child will in fact be a disvalue to you. Look at how hard people fight to get their children back if they do get taken away.

Do you know that the primary cause of death for pregnant women is for her to be murdered? Is THIS a good situation? Why on earth do you suppose that is? (Link to news article.) Men aren't known for accepting threats in a docile manner. Nowadays "I'm pregnant" is one of the worst threats a woman can make.

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I think that if the parents are dissatisfied with their child, e.g. if it has a birth defect, then they may ethically abandon it to die and have another child instead.

There may be those reading these boards who think that some opinions are representative of Objectivism and Ayn Rand's views simply because they're posted here. I want to note that the above comment represents neither. (There's a marginal issue regarding a child with serious genetic problems, but even then, just abandoning it to die from exposure and dehydration or to wild animals is hardly justifiable, and the criteria would hardly be "dissatisfied", which in this context, is practically advocating whim-worship. Somebody can be dissatisfied with their debts, that doesn't give them a free pass to evade the responsibility.)

Children have rights, and it is the responsibility of their parents - who are *causally responsible* for the child - to look after it. That does not mean that anybody is responsible for *other* people's children, just their own. (This fact is one of the reasons why anti-abortionists are so anti-life, because they want to impose a massive burden on the unwilling living.)

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Children have rights, and it is the responsibility of their parents - who are *causally responsible* for the child - to look after it. That does not mean that anybody is responsible for *other* people's children, just their own. (This fact is one of the reasons why anti-abortionists are so anti-life, because they want to impose a massive burden on the unwilling living.)

Thank you, Phil. I was appalled when I read the previous statement and agree with what you've said 100%.

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Children have rights, and it is the responsibility of their parents - who are *causally responsible* for the child - to look after it. That does not mean that anybody is responsible for *other* people's children, just their own.
Not that I disagree with the conclusion that children have rights, but there are consequences, so feel free to explain where and why you disagree with the bottom line, which I take to be wrong (anti-life). If a child has the right to be taken care of, and given that that right cannot be forcibly imposed on anyone else, then until the point where the child no longer has the right to be provided for, the parents must not place their own existence above that of the child. That means that if a parent is just barely able to keep themselves alive, then they cannot rightfully abandon the child for the sake of their own preservation. Of course they do have the right to seek the charity of any other person who might take over the responsibility of providing for the child, but if no one else will take over the care of the child, the parent must look after the child at the expense of his own life.
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I agree that abandoning a child that you could support is immoral. (I do agree, to an extent, if the child cannot be a value to you for a specific reason, namely a permanent and irreparable physical defect, then even this may not be immoral.) I even explained above that it would be illegal if there existed anyone who would be willing and able to support said child.
I am a bit confused by the second part of this last statement. Are you saying that child abandonment should be illegal -- if and only if there is someone else willing and able to support said child? If there is not someone else, then child abandonment should be legal?

I would like to discuss the rest of your post, but this needs to be clarified first.

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Are you saying that child abandonment should be illegal -- if and only if there is someone else willing and able to support said child? If there is not someone else, then child abandonment should be legal?

Well, this might not be straying from abortion...

I would say that, I don't know whether that was Jennifer's :kiss: position. Take two highly hypothetical examples:

A single parent is given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (w00t) which requires leaving immediately and indefinitely - thus abandoning the child. I'd hold such abandonment illegal, and I suppose this relies on some idea that those who choose to be guardians over non-independent persons have some sort of legal obligations.

A mother and her child are shipwrecked :wacko: on some desert island. Even assuming that the mother doesn't view taking care of the child as endangering her life, I'd argue that abandonment would be morally permissable once rescue is determined to not be a "reasonable" expectation within a "reasonable" time.

What exactly those obligations are, what time span and conditions constitute abandonment, and what is "reasonable" are intentionally left unanswered :P

This is an interesting subject :) though I imagine that if it continues to be dealt with that it'll be spun off into a separate topic.

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I am a bit confused by the second part of this last statement. Are you saying that child abandonment should be illegal -- if and only if there is someone else willing and able to support said child? If there is not someone else, then child abandonment should be legal?

That's EXACTLY what I said. Why is it so confusing? In ordinary child abandonment cases: the mothers are usually young, poor, often drug addicts, and terrified that anyone should find out that they had a baby. (Why, I don't know.) They don't look for someone to take care of the child, they attempt to flee the entire situation. THAT should be illegal.

The whole question is an example of hair-splitting, it's like people asking "What if the woman is in labor and wants to abort, huh? What then?" The point I was trying to make is that in an emergency situation when the only way to provide for a child would be to sacrifice yourself (and I mean, not something you happen to want, I mean, your entire life) or FORCE someone else to do it, you should NOT be considered evil for choosing YOURSELF. As Phil indicated, you have NO right to FORCE someone else to take care of your child. So who is it that has the right to force YOU to choose someone else over yourself? It's a drowning-man question.

The truth is that free people are generally enormously productive and have way more than they need, most of the time, and people in that situation are marvelously generous. They give to charity. They take in the children of strangers. If you live in a free society that is reasonably prosperous, having a child that you can't support is not an emergency because there are many options. The morality of this depends on the context of not being, essentially, screwed.

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I would say that, I don't know whether that was Jennifer's :kiss: position. Take two highly hypothetical examples:

Those examples are seriously bizarre. To the first one, I'm like, "They don't have telephones? You couldn't call your mom and say, 'will you take care of little Billy for me because I'm sitting on a pile of gold bricks in New Guinea and I won't be able to get home for a few weeks?'" HIRE A SITTER. Not an emergency.

Is the child endangering her life or not? If it's not, why would she abandon her child? That's just silly. "We're getting along fine, but I'm tired of looking at you. Scoot." Now, if it is a real emergency, with starvation looming, then it probably won't matter because in short order they'll both be dead anyway, but that's a decision the mother would have to confront.

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I think that if the parents are dissatisfied with their child, e.g. if it has a birth defect, then they may ethically abandon it to die and have another child instead.

1. When you say "dissatisfied," does that mean for any reason? If not, what standard do you use?

Since I was talking about when it is ethical to abandon a child, I mean when the parents have a rational reason why it is in their interest to abandon it. For example, if the child is retarded and they can only afford to support one child, it might be in their interest to try again for a child with normal or above normal intelligence. But this would require shrugging off the burden of the retarded child.

2. If they may abandon it, may they also affirmatively kill it, such as with a gun? If not, I'm curious why, because when you're talking about a child, abandonment is pretty much the same as affirmative death, and particularly so when you've said they may ethically abandon it TO DIE (emphasis mine).
I do not think that they should kill him. It might be that someone will come along and adopt the child. But I included "to die" to make it clear that even if no one adopts the child, they may still abandon him.

There may be those reading these boards who think that some opinions are representative of Objectivism and Ayn Rand's views simply because they're posted here.

My statements on this issue are my personal opinions; and are not intended to be reflective of Ayn Rand's beliefs.

Children have rights, and it is the responsibility of their parents - who are *causally responsible* for the child - to look after it.

The parents are free to change their minds, if they discover that they have made a mistake. And since creating the child does not harm him, they have no obligation to the child other than the obligations that strangers would have not to actively harm him.

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Those examples are seriously bizarre. To the first one, I'm like, "They don't have telephones? You couldn't call your mom and say, 'will you take care of little Billy for me because I'm sitting on a pile of gold bricks in New Guinea and I won't be able to get home for a few weeks?'" HIRE A SITTER. Not an emergency.

Is the child endangering her life or not? If it's not, why would she abandon her child? That's just silly. "We're getting along fine, but I'm tired of looking at you. Scoot." Now, if it is a real emergency, with starvation looming, then it probably won't matter because in short order they'll both be dead anyway, but that's a decision the mother would have to confront.

Bizarre? Of course, who are you talking to :lol:

But bizarre for a reason. The first example's point was that, regardless of whatever gain this parent might be able to obtain by abandoning (barring potential death/extreme harm?) such abandonment should be illegal.

Be being rather... unorthodox, suppose some :kiss: come down and invite me to learn how to make fusion and Galt devices, extend my life span into hundreds of years, make me into a Sooperman, etc. I live in the boondocks and don't have a phone or car, 4 foot snowdrifts, etc. - there's no way I can get anyone within the :) departure time.

I'm just saying that an extreme gain shouldn't legally justify abandoning the child.

As for the second, supposing the mother doesn't regard the caring for the child as threatening her existence, should the mother be required to take care of the child for 18 years? I'd say no. That'd be close to saying a mother can't change her mind once she's chosen to take care of the child.

Or if the mother knows without a doubt that a particular adventurer :yarr: comes to this island every 10 years (1993, 2003, 2013) should the mother be required to take care of this child for 8 years? I'm not absolutely sure what amount of time is reasonable here, but I'd say that while society should require her to care for this child until a prompt rescue is improbable ( 6 months, maybe? ), it would be illegitimate to legally force the woman to take care of the child against her will for multi-year spans.

I'm just saying that there is some time span for which waiting for an alternate guardian should be legally optional.

I'm considering this issue as I go :geek: so it's likely I've said something that's less than well thought out. Nonetheless, I'll stick with these examples, for the moment anyway :)

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I am a bit confused by the second part of this last statement. Are you saying that child abandonment should be illegal -- if and only if there is someone else willing and able to support said child? If there is not someone else, then child abandonment should be legal?

That's EXACTLY what I said. Why is it so confusing? In ordinary child abandonment cases: the mothers are usually young, poor, often drug addicts, and terrified that anyone should find out that they had a baby. (Why, I don't know.) They don't look for someone to take care of the child, they attempt to flee the entire situation. THAT should be illegal.

Interesting, but I see a problem.

The whole question is an example of hair-splitting, it's like people asking "What if the woman is in labor and wants to abort, huh? What then?" The point I was trying to make is that in an emergency situation when the only way to provide for a child would be to sacrifice yourself (and I mean, not something you happen to want, I mean, your entire life) or FORCE someone else to do it, you should NOT be considered evil for choosing YOURSELF. As Phil indicated, you have NO right to FORCE someone else to take care of your child. So who is it that has the right to force YOU to choose someone else over yourself? It's a drowning-man question.
I agree that in an emergency situation, no one can force you to surrender your life for your child's sake.

What I cannot get clear is your position on the non-emergency situation. Granted, it is not proper to force someone else to take care of your child. But this fact alone does not prove that it is improper to force you to take care of your child. We cannot ignore the distinction that you chose to create the child, while "someone else" did not.

I think the essence of our disagreement is in this statement of yours: "There cannot be any such thing as a right to a thing, though, only rights to actions." I understand that this is the Objectivist view on rights and I fully agree that this is true with respect to adults. In post 199, I made an argument that rights, as applied to the special case of children, are not limited in this fashion. You obviously were not persuaded by this, and I am willing to address the points you made in post 200. But first I have a question.

If it is true that the only rights are rights to actions, and the only valid purpose of government is to use retaliatory force against those who infringe these rights, then parents may discard their children at will -- and the government should ignore it. Given this, why would you advocate, as you do, that child abandonment should ever be illegal? Since the child has no right to material support, no rights have been violated and it is none of the government's business.

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If it is true that the only rights are rights to actions, and the only valid purpose of government is to use retaliatory force against those who infringe these rights, then parents may discard their children at will -- and the government should ignore it.
While society has no right to impose an unchosen obligation on another, it does have the right to impose a chosen obligation on another. For that reason, if one person contracts with another to perform a service and the service-performer has been paid, it would be right for the courts to force him to satisfy that obligation, should he reneg. Of course it would not be right for the courts to force him to commit suicide for the sake of fulfilling that obligation. The situation with a child is analogous, except that the obligation isn't contractual -- it is, however, chosen. If you interpret the concept of a right to an action too narrowly, along the lines of "you may do anything you want", you run into the problem that courts could not enforce contracts and specifically could not oblige performance. I think the concept of initiation of force is highly relevant here, both in contract cases and child-custody cases.
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