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Why would you say this? I am an unmarried man and have and should have by moral right 50% rights to my child. He does have half my D.N.A. and my last name and he is my son.

By what standard? If you are willing to help support him (with or without an actual contractual obligation) then, yes, you should have some rights to him. If it became an actual issue, say, of your son's mother refusing you visitation, etc., the court could legitimately say that, since there is no contract involved, she is, under the law, in the right.

This is the difficulty with "handshake" and informal agreements, and why child custody cases so often end up in civil court. Essentially, you have to earn rights to your offspring (just as a woman has to earn the right to HER offspring by providing for them, if she refuses to do so and another is willing to take the responsibility, the state does have the legal authority to reassign custody and deny even the BIOLOGICAL MOTHER rights to her children). If you want the state to protect your rights, you need to make a formal state-sanctioned agreement. This need not be the complete marriage contract, I could easily see having a child-support agreement. Simplicity.

Your declaration that you have absolute 50% RIGHTS to your son means that your son's mother has THE ABSOLUTE RIGHT to TAKE YOUR PROPERTY (i.e. make you a slave) in order to support him. And how about this; does that mean that, if you don't WANT to support him, you have the ABSOLUTE RIGHT to DEMAND that she get an abortion? Is that the situation you would like to see? This is, by the way, the situation AS IT EXISTS NOW.

It is slavery of the worst kind.

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Enjoy! :D

Problem is threads are all tangled up. There is a lot there but needs organization. One day maybe I will see a book in the ARB catalog "Hot Topics among Objectivists" by J.M.Snow. (Abortion, Homosexuality, Women as President, ?? what else??)

Romance, maybe? Child support? ::chuckle:: We'll see . . . I may write that book.

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Oh really, what are the then, non-existent entities that pop into existence when they are born? Why should a baby be considered a baby the second it "pops out", but while it still resides within the mother a nanosecond earlier it is "not an animal or a baby"? That doesn't even make sense. My sister was born three weeks premature, was she simply just a "potential" for the first three weeks of her life with no rights? All of this argumentation seem to imply there is some "magical" moment when a child first leaves its mothers body which is absurd. If you are something right now you were also that something a nanosecond earlier regardless of your current location. A is A.

Um, there is a metaphysical difference between a baby after birth and a fetus prior to birth, Eric, namely that a BABY is not PHYSICALLY ATTACHED TO THE MOTHER. To put it simply, you cannot GIVE AWAY a fetus. You CAN give away a BABY. And premature babies are BABIES, because, *gasp* they AREN'T PHYSICALLY ATTACHED TO THE MOTHER!!!

*pant pant* Sorry. Grr I'm fierce grr!!

Only a man could think that giving birth is of no consequence. "Pops out" indeed!

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Check your premises!  You seem to be saying that sex is only moral for procreation purposes.  However, man as a rational, volitional being has a need for sex beyond the need for procreation.

If one is only to engage in sex if one is ready to procreate, then any other needs and desires must be what... suppressed?  Ingored? Evaded?

Incorrect! I would surmise that J is actually quite grateful for birth control as it assists in squashing the potential of pregnancy and allows partners to indulge in sexual pleasure. Um, could you elaborate on "need" for sex. Needs and desires are not synonymous.

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Let's say it like this:

The desire for sex builds up eventually to the point where there becomes a need to release it. It works the same way anger and aggression do; if you keep it built up inside you for long enough it will sooner or later lead to mental problems. It's not healthy to keep it built up inside.

I believe I'll be the first one to say this forum so...

Hear, Hear! Masturbation is a completely moral act so long as it promotes my sexual health, releases that built up tension, and given that I am thinking about only the purest of thoughts as I do so!

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I believe I'll be the first one to say this forum so...
A search of previous posts, for the word "masturbation" brought up a list of about 10 threads. Some may mention masturbation only in passing but this one addresses it more directly.

Masturbation is a completely moral act so long as it promotes my sexual health, releases that built up tension, and given that I am thinking about only the purest of thoughts as I do so!
So much context and qualification! :D

Also, the idea "pure thoughts" is empty unless one assumes a particular morality. That brings us back to the question of "what is right", and "what is pure".

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On the contrary, marriage includes a contractual obligation to take care of any children that result from the couple's sexual activities
Since when? Do you mean a legal contract or a moral obligation? I would disagree in either case.

You might as well say 'having sex includes an implicit contractual obligation to raise any children produced' (and indeed this is how some do argue).

Edited by Hal

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The precise nature of a marriage contract depends on what state you live in. However, the legal obligation to children produced in the marriage IS part of the marriage contract. There are a lot of BIZARRE things that are ALSO part of the marriage contract (it's cause for a divorce if your spouse "cheats" on you, for example) and the fact that if you want a divorce without cause, your spouse gets half your stuff.

Other things include; your spouse becomes your legal next-of-kin; upon the death of one partner all property owned by that partner is automatically remanded to the other partner, etc.

Marriage is not a "declaration of love" (people can get married and not be in love, so that's hardly a definition, merely an attribute and not a consistent one at that!), it is a legal contract. It has definite functions under the law (different for each state perhaps) but providing for children is one of them.

Sex doesn't imply a legal or moral obligation to care for a child, because one CAN have sex and not have a child, and can have sex with no INTENTION of having a child.

Assuming that a.) no birth control was used, b.) no options such as abortion were pursued, if a woman gives birth to a child she IS morally and LEGALLY obligated to provide for the support of that child. If she is unwilling, she is obligated morally and LEGALLY to find someone that will or support the child anyway. The ONLY case when this would not be true would be if the pregnancy was the product of an involuntary action (rape) and no abortion or similar solution were available. If she is INCAPABLE, well, that's tragic. Someone that is capable may take the child off her hands, otherwise, the child is going to die.

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The precise nature of a marriage contract depends on what state you live in.  However, the legal obligation to children produced in the marriage IS part of the marriage contract.  There are a lot of BIZARRE things that are ALSO part of the marriage contract (it's cause for a divorce if your spouse "cheats" on you, for example) and the fact that if you want a divorce without cause, your spouse gets half your stuff. 
I didnt know that, and it's pretty strange. Another argument for design-your-own-marriage-contracts at least.

Marriage is not a "declaration of love" (people can get married and not be in love, so that's hardly a definition, merely an attribute and not a consistent one at that!), it is a legal contract.
It wasnt intended as a definition, but you are correct. I was meaning that people generally claim to get married in order to 'publically declare their love', but from the point of view of the state I agree it should be treated as a purely legal institution.

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I didnt know that, and it's pretty strange. Another argument for design-your-own-marriage-contracts at least.

I agree with this. In any discussion about the current marriage contract, I always imagine what a fully free market in mariage would be like; and by that I mean if the government's only involvement in the marriage business was to enforce legally entered into marriage contracts and provide courts to interpret the contracts where clauses are either contradictory or vague. The common law courts excell at this. It seems to me that one of the big problems with current marriage is that the government provides a "one size fits all" contract with "till death to us part" as sort of the expected duration. This to me is rediculous.

I think in a free market contracts would be of various lengths. For example, I would like to get married but I would like a contract of say 3 to 5 years of length. At the conclusion of such a term, my partner and I would decide if we were still growing together and if we should "renew" our marriage agreemeent. I think this would encourage people to improve themselves and constantly expect and give value in their relationships. The way it is now, once you're married, its almost innevitable that all self-improvement stops.

There are a ton of other ways a fully privatized marriage industry would improve the relations of the partners and the quality of the homes (especially for children). But I think an Objectivist audience would already know most of this.

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I just wanted to weigh in on the whole abortion thing from my perspective. Before I became an Objectivist I was fully pro life. Now that I have some different ideals, I have mixed feelings about it. I believe that it is in fact a womans right to choose, simply because the option is there for abortion, and no man has a right to force a choice on another. However, I think when it comes to the choice that any rational, responsible mind, would choose life. With the undertanding that you are in full control of your own actions, and are fully aware of all potential consequences (which you should be before taking such action), then you know that sex leads to pregnancy. Sure, there are plenty of precautions you can take, but aside from abstinence or a Hysterectomy no precaution is full proof. I contend that since you were aware of the potential consequences, you should by all rights take responsibility when they happen. That responsibility is to carry the child to term and berth it into this world. After that, if you want to give up responsibility and pass it on to someone who wants it (adoption), that is your choice. Abortion is just an easy fix for the irresposible in my humble opinion.

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spydawebz,

If you have not done so already, you'd profit by reading the entire thread. Previous posts in support of the right to an abortion would indicate that the issue is not so much "should we shirk our responsibilites". Rather, it is "why does this create a responsibility?"

I contend that since you were aware of the potential consequences, you should by all rights take responsibility when they happen.  That responsibility is to carry the child to term and birth it into this world.
Take a completely unrelated example -- if you go sking and break a leg, you would have it fixed rather than "taking the consequences". The example obviously does not apply to the case of abortion. Question is: why not? What are the unstated assumptions that make it different?

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I contend that since you were aware of the potential consequences, you should by all rights take responsibility when they happen.   That responsibility is to carry the child to term and berth it into this world.

Why can't the responsible action be paying for an abortion? Being responsible doesn't mean that you unnecessarily accept the potential negative consequences of your actions--in this case having to go through the lengthy and painful process of giving birth to a child.

Edited by MisterSwig

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Take a completely unrelated example -- if you go sking and break a leg, you would have it fixed rather than "taking the consequences".

Breaking your leg while skiing is a potential consequence of skiing, and the responsible thing to do is to seek medical attention to and to stop skiing for the moment. So since seeking medical attention would be the responsible thing to do, I don't think that analogy works very well.

Why can't the responsible action be paying for an abortion?

For the same reason that it would be irresposible to buy a puppy, then pay to have it put to sleep because you do not wish to go through the trouble of house training it and it keeps relieving itself on your carpet. Yes, child birth is much more responsibility and a much bigger issue than owning a puppy, which should make sex, especially unprotected and/or without some form of birth control, all that much bigger a decision and definately something not to be taken as casually as some people take it.

There are certain instances in which I think abortion is perfectly fine. In case where the woman was a victim and not consenting to the act, or consented to the act under force. She would have no repsonsibility to any child produced by such a dispicable act then. Children concieved out of acts of incest fall into this category as well.

Again, I believe that women do have the right to choose. However, I believe that abortion is not a responsible way out of a situation that you knew full well could happen when you entered into the act. In a crude way its almost like bribing your way out of trouble with the law instead of taking responsibility for your actions and taking whatever punishment is dealt you.

Sorry for not reading through all 7 pages of this thread, I needed to spare my eyes of undue pain staring at the compter screen reading for that long. I thought the first and last pages would be sufficient. I wish I would have been around since its inception, but I'm here now and decided just to way in with my 2 cents.

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For the same reason that it would be irresposible to buy a puppy, then pay to have it put to sleep because you do not wish to go through the trouble of house training it and it keeps relieving itself on your carpet.

This analogy fails on at least two counts. First, when you go buy a puppy, you do so with the expressed intent of getting that puppy and taking care of it. People frequently have sex for another reason other than the expressed purpose of procreation. Second, there is no certainty of pregnancy when engaging in sex (protected or otherwise), whereas one will absolutely walk out the door with the puppy if a person buys one.

As far as the "responsible" choice, you are deciding that based on your values, not some set of universal values that governs everyone. You can certainly pass moral judgement on a woman who has an abortion based on her own values and reasons, but that doesn't mean you moral judgement is justified.

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Again, I believe that women do have the right to choose.  However, I believe that abortion is not a responsible way out of a situation that you knew full well could happen when you entered into the act.  In a crude way its almost like bribing your way out of trouble with the law instead of taking responsibility for your actions and taking whatever punishment is dealt you.

Part of being responsible is correcting your wrongs when you have the opportunity to do so. If you mistakenly or accidentally got pregnant out of ignorance or carelessness, the responsible thing to do is to reverse that wrong and abort the fetus.

If, out of ignorance or stupidity, I married a woman who was completely wrong for me, would you have me remain in the bad marriage and suffer years of agony and frustration? Or should I get a divorce?

If you don't believe that a fetus is a human child with rights, then you really have no argument here. The responsible thing to do when you make a mistake is to correct the mistake. In the case of a bad pregnancy, like in the case of a bad marriage, the right thing to do--the responsible thing to do--is to abort.

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There are certain instances in which I think abortion is perfectly fine.  In case where the woman was a victim and not consenting to the act, or consented to the act under force.  She would have no repsonsibility to any child produced by such a dispicable act then.  Children concieved out of acts of incest fall into this category as well.

Please forgive my mistakes; this is my first time posting here.

I don't understand your statements totally. Suppose an unconscious woman is unknowingly impregnated by her boyfriend/husband. You would have no problem with an abortion in this case? And why grant an exception for (consensual) incest?

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Welcome, hunterrose; you may want to read the forum rules and post an introduction in the appropriate forum before going much further.

spydazweb was not talking about granting a legal exception, he was speaking of his personal judgement of whether the woman involved in having the abortion was moral or not. Objectivists, being advocates of rights as they are derived from man's nature as a rational being, are necessarily advocates of the freedom to choose an abortion for any reason or no reason. Freedom is a requirement of man's life.

However, this does not prevent us from judging people to be immoral if they DO have an abortion for a bad, irrational reason or no reason whatsoever; acting morally, i.e. in a fashion to ensure your own long-term best interests, requires the application of reason to problems. Acting randomly, on whim, is not conducive to health or long life.

Are you pro-choice?

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I am pro-choice, and I'll take your advice.

spydawebz's argument against abortion not only is contrary to Objectivism ideas on abortion, it seems to lead to a lot of moral conclusions I'm not sure he'd agree with. The two cases I used weren't the most poignant examples.

Suppose the (now born) child needs a blood transfusion, and the mother is the only available match. spydawebz's rationale, as I understood it, would lead to a postbirth moral imperative upon the mother, possibly for as long as the child lives?

If such conclusions are necessarily derived from spydawebz's rationale, I would be interested in hearing why not.

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That's an interesting question, and I personally switched my view on the matter after putting some serious thought into it.

Keeping in mind the fact that abused/neglected children are FAR in the minority, so we're talking largely about borderline cases here, children have no more right to support than adults do.

Let's use your example, changing it a bit to make it realistic (I work in a blood/tissue bank, heh). Suppose my son has leukemia and requires a bone-marrow transplant. (Bone marrow has to be matched with extreme precision*). I am the only available donor. Now, bone marrow procurement, from the iliac crest, is an outpatient surgery, it really doesn't inconvenience the donor terribly. So, assuming normal conditions, where I feel at least some affection for my son, if I didn't undergo the procedure to donate I'd be immoral and evil.

But let's look at peculiar situations: borderline cases where the matter of the law, i.e. rights, comes into play.

Suppose I'm taking steroids to control a life-threatening illness. Or I'm on blood-pressure medication. Or, my son is insane, violent, schizophrenic, and hurts me even when I attempt to take care of him. If he has a right, under the law, to physical support from his parents the government can step in and literally force them to act against their own personal values; the fact that donating (or whatever) might be fatal for them, the fact that they have no desire whatsoever to maintain the life of their monster, whatever. To a rational person, such a situation would be untenable: it is the initiation of force against innocent people.

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.

It is for this reason that child support legislation is a travesty and a hideous miscarriage of justice; all the worse because it puts innocent children in the position of recipient and beneficiary of a whole litany of human miseries. Only a supremely benevolent person could stand that sort of situation and not come to see their child as a leech and a chain locking them away from their freedom, and the damage done by THAT is far worse than any perhaps inflicted by the occasional willful evil.

Part of child support legislation, in fact, makes it impossible (or almost) to FIGHT said willful evil, because benevolent people of means that want to step in and help truly unfortunate children are PREVENTED from doing so by the semi-mystical belief that children are somehow "better off" with their biological parents (who must, under the law, provide for said children) regardless of the nature OF those parents.

As in any other avenue of human existence, (except one, which precludes all the others) freedom is better than controls.

*Bone marrow has to be matched precisely because before they go to implant it in the recipient they give him or her a MASSIVE dose of radiation, so massive, in fact, that it kills the recipient's immune system completely. When the graft is implanted, if it's not a precise match IT will reject the RECIPIENT and begin attacking their remaining healthy tissue and most likely kill them, as they have no remaining way to fight back. This is known as graft vs. recipient disease or syndrome.

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In all the Objectivist arguments I have yet read (about three) I have seen the support for abortion rights based on the "fact" that if a woman has a baby, she will automatically be saddled with that offspring's economic and emotional support for the next eighteen years, and if this occurs at the wrong time of life, it can destroy her ever having a chance at true happiness. Individual happiness being the supreme goal in life, therefore that woman must have the right to abort.

Often, the arguments of anti-abortionists are characterized as consisting of only theistic, soul-based arguments, and are then denigrated as being part of the "culture of death." I believe, however, that other, more logical arguments can be made against abortion.

Whether or not a fetus has a soul, it is a given that, barring some sort of mishap, that fetus will, before very long, become a human. While this is plainly an impossibility, let us say that I made an enemy who had a time travelling machine. While this was clearly a bad choice on my part, let us say that this enemy travelled back in time, to a period after my conception but before my birth, and terminated that pregnancy. Is that murder? The fact is, despite the hardship that pregnancy and birth can cause a woman, she is in no way forced to care for the resulting child thereafter. We have ways in our society in which women may give up custody of their children, and thereafter have no responsibility for their well-being.

A woman can recover from an unwanted pregnancy that is carried to term, but the child, who was never born, never will. The momentary misfortune of an unwanted pregnancy is, in fact, no excuse for not succeeding in life. Such a circumstance has a limited duration, and a person of creativity and strength of will should be able to succeed despite such temporary setbacks, if one wishes to view it that way.

I have also seen it stated that the fetus is a part of a woman's body until it is born, a statement that is completely false. Rather, the fetus is an obligate endoparasite, like an adult tapeworm. One can hardly argue that a tapeworm is a part of its host's body! A fetus is as much a human as any human, in that all humans pass through that stage. A human, Homo sapiens, does not change species once born, any more than a caterpillar changes species when becoming a butterfly. It looks different, yes, but so do our largely hairless, fatty infants. A fetus begins to resemble a human by its seventh week.

What is it that defines us as human but our genes. A severely retarded person may not have any greater consciousness that a housecat. Does that justify our killing him if it would be helpful to those of greater consciousness? If the level of consiousness does not define a human, what does? Is it anatomy? Is a person who loses an eye, limb, or section of intestine less human? I think not. Therefore, what is left is genetics, and a fetus is genetically human. The idea that a fetus suddenly becomes human at birth is as specious and miraculous an argument as the idea that a soul is granted at the moment of conception.

Humanity is very, very difficult to define. Should we not, therefore, err on the side of caution, and avoid what may well be murder?

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In all the Objectivist arguments I have yet read (about three)

Are these arguments that you have read the ones that are already contained in lengthy debates on this forum? As you said, this is a can of worms, and it has been discussed several times before on here, by numerous participants of varying view points. In fact, I'm going to merge your comment and mine into the most recent previous thread.

I would ask that you review those threads, and see if there are not other arguments you may not be aware of, as well as finding out if you really are positing a unique perspective.

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Are these arguments that you have read the ones that are already contained in lengthy debates on this forum? As you said, this is a can of worms, and it has been discussed several times before on here, by numerous participants of varying view points. In fact, I'm going to merge your comment and mine into the most recent previous thread.

I would ask that you review those threads, and see if there are not other arguments you may not be aware of, as well as finding out if you really are positing a unique perspective.

All the previous anti-abortion posts seem to resort to the voluntary or involuntary nature of the sexual act as the criterion for whether abortion should or should not be allowed. I have tried very hard to avoid any arguments apart from those relating to the humanity of the fetus. It can be shown, for instance, that fetuses, from a rather early stage, can sense and react to pain. EKGs of fetuses have shown that a mother's voice, when heard inside the womb, muffled as it is, can be soothing to the fetus. Further, after birth the mother's voice, as well as any other that spent much time making their voice audible to the fetus, also has a soothing effect, one that could only be carried over from the womb.

How is a newborn different? A newborn cannot see, speak, or make agreements. They have very little voluntary muscle control. They are utterly helpless. While it is true that the child is now a seperate human, does that not mean, by Objectivist principles, that, having no ability to enter agreements nor to rationally consider any point or circumstance, it has no rights? Even if a mother has no right to kill the infant, has she the right to abandon it in any circumstance she chooses, even if that circumstance would almost certainly result in death? Isn't it also true that, given the fact that we did not have any role in choosing to create that child, that we as a society can have no legal requirement to care for that child in the mother's stead? An infant cannot reason and is utterly dependent. How, other than being outside its mother's body, is it any different from a fetus?

Edited by Neverone

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All the previous anti-abortion posts seem to resort to the voluntary or involuntary nature of the sexual act as the criterion for whether abortion should or should not be allowed.

That statement makes it pretty clear that you have not heeded my suggestion in reading the threads on here regarding abortion. There are other arguments presented. I'm not going to cover old ground with you.

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