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Why does life begin at birth?

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On 5/8/2022 at 8:47 PM, Eiuol said:

2) At least by the way Rand defines it, perception is not the interpretation of sensory input. Perception is a presentation of reality in some form, and once presented, can be interpreted.

I am not confident about perception and interpretation in any real sense. I find the terms to be nebulous and again, subjective. Is perception a direct link to the event, or do anecdotal and ‘obvious’ information as valid as objective? I think it is a combination of both. It is the best conclusions that we can make depending on our own abilities and personal knowledge-base as well as our best reasonable guesses as to whatever issue is under consideration.

Perception, interpretation, cognitive, conscious. All of these things are difficult to define under the best conditions. As with Rand’s rational self-interest that I have watched being debated throughout my entire adult life, the issue remains unsettled and a matter of conflict between so many. If an objective answer exists, I have yet to see it, but that does not conflict with my own considered opinion. But that may well be subjective. So, . . . .

You conclude with comments about perception and forms, and I must admit, this is when philosophy makes my head spin. I am not sure that it brings clarity, and yet it needs to be done if there is to be understanding at some point. I am just not sure I am the one to do so.

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On 5/9/2022 at 5:41 PM, dream_weaver said:

Selfish is an apt example. The way selfish is used is an inversion, and rational self(ish) interest made it easier to illustrate her point for those of us who were helped to grasp it via her choosing selfish as worthy to battle over.

I am somewhat confused as to your term of inversion. Could you clarify?

I found her conflict with the use of the concept to be insightful and legitimate. I have watched over the years as so many words have been co-opted by certain movements and ideologies that has perverted the arguments themselves by inciting a certain ignorance of the fundamentals of the issues. I realize that language is fluid and dynamic and a degree of evolution is to be expected, but I find myself considering that it was a strategic move to manipulate and oppress those that are not paying attention or do not have the abilities to discern that there are often multiple definitions for specific concepts. I have to congratulate them if that is the case, since it has irrefutably helped their causes.

Her willingness to do combat with her opposition over such a concept was legitimate and genius in essence since it has initiated and continued to be a focal aspect of Objectivism, which it is anyway, but an issue that demands investigation and contemplation. I would have hoped that it would have resulted in a greater understanding of the differences, but we often cannot predict the outcomes of philosophical conflict. The masses are often not easily reached, although many believe that they can be controlled through intimidation and violence mush easier than through reason and intellect. It seems that history makes that apparent.

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On 5/9/2022 at 5:41 PM, dream_weaver said:

In a seek first to understand, then to be understood stance, Objectivism has within its arsenal the sage advice with regards to concepts, that concepts can both be used as well as misused in the process of cognition. 

Some use concepts to bring clarity and comprehension while others use them to create chaos and opportunity and ignorance. The final arbiter is the individual.

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On 5/9/2022 at 5:41 PM, dream_weaver said:

On an issue given as much importance, getting it right should not be left to a consensus. Especially in a country that was founded on recognizing and upholding the importance of rights.

Rights should always be the focus of any argument, unfortunately it is the perspective of the individual that controls the ‘recognition’ and ‘upholding’ of rights, notwithstanding the conflicting interference of government in the definition and implementation of those rights.

Consensus seems to be a necessary evil, but rarely a definitive resolution. The majority of citizens or of politicians is fleeting and can change without reason at times. But a majority, as much as we like to think it relevant, is simply that, a majority, and it never in any way means that the determination are correct, moral or valid. Only that the system has spoken, even if it be with a forked-tongue.

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44 minutes ago, Lone Cypress said:

I am somewhat confused as to your term of inversion. Could you clarify?

Consider the built in catch-22. 

As an acting agent in the world, the acting agent needs to choose how to act. It is self action, to accomplish for the self, whatever action is taken by the self. 

Is this not the essence of selfishness? Can the preceding paragraph easily be re-rendered to reflect the oft touted bromide: don't be selfish?

 

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7 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

As an acting agent in the world, the acting agent needs to choose how to act. It is self action, to accomplish for the self, whatever action is taken by the self. 

Is this not the essence of selfishness? Can the preceding paragraph easily be re-rendered to reflect the oft touted bromide: don't be selfish?

As a child I had little choice but to accept what was presented to me as selfishness. It was difficult to argue the point with no developed reason or experience, and a strong liberal and religious base that preached a perspective of selfishness that was not really open to discussion or debate. I was always confused as to the veracity of the concept, and with the first introduction to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, it soon became apparent that others have questioned the concept of ‘only’ a negative selfishness, and have come to conclusions more in line with whatever ‘intuition’ I may have had up to that point.

Selfishness is not, and never was, a single interpretation of a fundamental concept. We can talk forever on the differences that are demonstrable and irrefutable. If it were not for liberalism and religion, Christianity specifically, trying to control and manipulate the philosophy of ‘self’ then it would have been obvious that selfishness, or rational self-interest as Rand eventually characterized it, was and is never something that by definition has to be a negative quality or a deliberate action that results in harm and disadvantage to another individual. In fact, from my experience, it is almost exclusively a benefit to the individual, and those within family and community to act in a way that is selfish, or rationally self-interested, as opposed to irrationally self-interested, as I like to characterize the mirror image of Rand’s depiction.

What is selfishness? Oxford Languages says it is ‘the quality or condition of being selfish’. I find no fault with that, and no negative aspects either at this point. Merriam-Webster’s primary definition is ‘concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself’. Also not a negative implication although the words excessively or exclusively imply a negative, but is it really a prerequisite in any way? I have always questioned such a perspective. Dictionary.com says it is ‘the quality or state of caring only for oneself or one's own interests’. Once again nothing that declares any negative actions or even thoughts that are implicit in the concept.

Now, second definitions bring up some different perceptions, albeit unfortunate and unsubstantiated. Merriam-Webster saying that it is ‘seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others’ while Dicitionary.com offers that it is ‘concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others’. I have to ask where this interpretation, this insinuation comes from? Is it an imperative of the condition of selfishness or is it simply that selfishness, in conjunction with unethical, immoral and immature and psychologically damaged individuals is responsible for the negative consequences of this ‘selfishness’.

Rand and Objectivism never suggest or promote the negative actions that are described here, only the positive and beneficial ones that we determine for ourselves. Why is the negative version that has no reasonable connection to the person or philosophy, always held up as some excuse for the illegitimacy of the ideology when it espouses the complete opposite?

Our lives are centered on being selfish from the moment we come into the world. While it is true that babies and children simply want that they want, at this point they have achieved no command of their thoughts or actions and especially whatever philosophical abilities they may have in relation to those around them, whether known or strangers. They are not responsible for their paradigm. If anything, it is the parents and extended authority structure around them that has the obligation and culpability for whatever they do.

My day is focused on selfish necessities that make life manageable and hopefully enjoyable to some degree. I try to get enough sleep so my health does not suffer and my metabolism and physical needs can get their minimum daily requirements not just of sleep, but of exercise, nutrition, and personal bodily care activities. All of this is selfish by any definition and none of this is at the expense of others in any way and only results in a healthier and happier person, which translates into an individual that probably has less conflict with those around them.

I work hard trying to get an education, and achieve some recognition and the ability to think and discuss and engage with others is matters of import. Perhaps I gain a scholarship through my efforts and inevitably (hopefully) a position of some importance with a company that allows me to pay my own way, so to speak. Highly personal and selfish. It provides me with the means to pay for whatever items and even luxuries that I may desire without the need to steal or coerce anyone else to cover my needs. Selfish and yet beneficial to those that would have had to help me or support me directly or indirectly in any sense. Again, obviously selfish and without any harm to another.

I have children, which may be one of the most selfish acts someone could possibly envision, taking care of another human being with my blood, my own DNA and working to take care of all his needs, as well as the rest of the family, without the need for anyone else to become involved on any level. Selfish, no harm once again.

I could go on and on. Reading a book, taking a drive in the countryside, learning to paint or perhaps to play a musical instrument. Taking a vacation, building or buying a house, helping others through volunteerism or charity. Offering advice to those that may need it, assistance of some physical nature when necessary. All of these things are selfish to some degree, some intensely so. No harm, no foul. All selfish and all are the obligation of the individual who never reneges on his obligations so as never to put anyone else at a disadvantage of any kind, physical, financial, psychological or philosophical.

What is wrong with this? There is no intent to harm, and no harm is inflicted. Where does this criticism come from that selfishness is bad and harms others? It only harms others when the ‘actor’ is an individual of little or no integrity, with a horrible character and no moral foundation which results in unethical activity. Someone who cares little for others, and finds nothing to stop them from taking advantage and hurting others in a myriad of ways, with no remorse, no respect and no concern for those others.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Rand or Objectivism. Rational self-interest is what we need ‘more’ of in this society, not less. We need individuals that strive to be a better person today than they were yesterday, with the expectation that it will continue into tomorrow.

I not only intend to continue to be rationally self-interested till the day I cease to exist. I reject and condemn irrational self-interest and those that practice such a disgusting habit. The problem is that I cannot stop them, we cannot stop them, and we can only prevent ourselves from being like them. If we can somehow re-energize our educational system to produce more independent critical thinkers that will not consider such behaviour as normal or acceptable then maybe we have a chance to change the paradigm. If not, then we are lost, and the future will only be more of the same. I don’t see any other alternative.

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13 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

I would posit that dreams, intuition, memory, innovation and creativity, among others, are, or can be, examples of nonconscious perception.

I don't have any particular issue with you saying nonconscious as far as this discussion, but those things weren't really be a type of perception would they? Perception is something with a sensory organ or some act that allows you to grasp reality either internal to your body or external to your body. But dreams, intuition, and so on, or forms of mental processes, but not perceptual mental processes. Sure, they may be very perceptual-like, but that doesn't make those processes perceptual in nature. They are in some way cognitive. They might refer to something perceptual, but they are not themselves perceptual.

Even if everything you have ever experienced is etched somewhere into your mind, that doesn't say anything about the memory of those experiences being perceptual. I think you're right that just about everything we have experienced is etched into our minds, and that much of this information is potentially accessible to direct thinking, although much of it probably occurs in the untrained mind in a habitual way. For what it's worth, Rand would agree, which you would find in Romantic Manifesto. But what does that even say about nonconscious perception?

With all that considered, it seems that the subconscious or nonconscious mechanisms cannot function without some prior perceptual content. You might characterize dreams as a kind of indirect perception, but without some direct perception, that indirect perception would not have any content. So without having at a minimum direct perceptual experiences, dreams and everything else you mentioned as nonconscious perception just would not function. You say that your perspective is more fundamental and organic, but I would say it is far more organic to say that being alive and even thinking requires perception, yet there is no example of a living thing that doesn't perceive. Even people in vegetative states perceive. 

As for your last paragraph, I think you misunderstand or have not read enough about what Rand believes about objectivity. It doesn't mean without exception, or infallible, or absolute truth, or provable necessarily; and what she says about forming concepts objectively doesn't exclude past experiences or beliefs (although I don't quite know what you mean by belief in this context). You might say that if she believed what I said, then she doesn't know what objectivity is or she accepts the subjectivity of mankind while at the same time condemning subjectivity. The important thing to understand is that she conceives of objectivity as obeying and following the nature of the human mind, while objectivity that is beyond or transcends the human mind is a twisted notion.

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13 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

I am not sure that it brings clarity, and yet it needs to be done if there is to be understanding at some point. I am just not sure I am the one to do so.

If you are stopping there, then all you are doing is asking questions, without trying to answer them. Yes, perhaps it could make your head spin, but hard subjects require focus. 

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On 5/11/2022 at 9:47 PM, Eiuol said:

I don't have any particular issue with you saying nonconscious as far as this discussion, but those things weren't really be a type of perception would they? Perception is something with a sensory organ or some act that allows you to grasp reality either internal to your body or external to your body.

Perhaps they may be a stretch but I think they are valid nonetheless. I find it hard to not accept that some form of perception is indicated with their existence. The simple connotation of ‘perception’ is, of course, more easily understood when connected to sensory organs but if not perceived I would have to question how these things exist at all. I think I understand that you are looking at this from a distinct perspective, but I am not sure that perception has to be cognitive in nature. All of this seems to be with the intent to show that reason and intellect and cognitive abilities are directly linked to being alive, but I find that interesting but not definitive in any way.

The fetus knows when it is uncomfortable and may change position, it hears sounds from outside the body, as well as inside I would presume. It feels heat and it can feel pain. It does not need to categorize these things to be able to perceive them. Perception is one of the most fundamental and simple of human attributes. I think this line of thinking, while fascinating, is distracting from the initial focus of the OP and that would be to determine if the fetus is alive and if it is human.

It has already been stated that existence is identity, with which I completely concur. Without complicating the concept, I find that existence is proof of life, and that the existence of human DNA from conception is proof of humanity. There is no evidence that I have seen to this point (throughout my life, not just these comments) that dissuade me from this positon. Nothing more than idle contemplations. Quite specific and well-considered, but nothing more than opinion and theory.

The issue of abortion revolves around coming to these conclusions before it can even be considered or determined. If it is not just an amalgam of random cells, then the decision has much greater consequences than many seem to conclude.

Al of these other considerations are valuable in speaking of the development of a human being, but if the fetus is not human or alive, then there has to be a specific ‘and’ demonstrable point in time when these things are introduced, and this has not been made evident. We actually develop from 50 to 70, even if many of these developments are deterioration. We change as well from 30 to 50 and from 10 to 30. I find this irrefutable.

There is a tremendous amount of development from birth to 10, and incredible amount of new and, if I may say, miraculous changes and abilities come into play, but that time in the womb, from -9 months to that birth, are simply another stage of development, nothing more, nothing less, and the life and humanity that exists is simply another ‘stage’ of growth, not matter how fundamental and primitive it is at that time.

I am willing to admit that my ‘perceptions’ are perhaps not what you were talking about but still think they are relevant, and examples of perception. They are not legitimate reasons in any case to dismiss the reality of what the fetus actually is.

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On 5/11/2022 at 9:47 PM, Eiuol said:

Even if everything you have ever experienced is etched somewhere into your mind, that doesn't say anything about the memory of those experiences being perceptual.

Is it truly significant to talk of the ‘untrained’ mind in this respect? Does not ‘habitual’ infer some learned action, and if so, then is not learning something an attribute of cognition. I have more questions than answers to your comments. I find little or nothing definitive to the question at hand. I may certainly be wrong, but I see no absolutes here about life or humanity, only stages and positions about when certain attributes first become evident. Interesting, but not compelling.

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On 5/11/2022 at 9:47 PM, Eiuol said:

With all that considered, it seems that the subconscious or nonconscious mechanisms cannot function without some prior perceptual content. You might characterize dreams as a kind of indirect perception, but without some direct perception, that indirect perception would not have any content.

I again find difficulty is simply accepting the comment that is ‘seems’ that the nonconscious cannot function without some prior perceptual content. Why? A human being in a vegetative state can feel pain without perceptual content, at least the body can. Are we suggesting a separate state between mind and body? I would find that another distraction to the focus of the original question.

I am not trying to be contrary or argumentative, but what does content have to do with the state of being alive or being human? My examples of nonconscious perception were not meant to be in respect to a fetus or an infant, but of an adult, and my abstractions may not make sense but they are real and have been created and ‘perceived’, probably with some level of content, but exactly what and how is unknown or unknowable to us as conscious beings.

You say that thinking requires perception? I would like to have more information before I can be persuaded of this reality. You say there is no example of a living thing that does not perceive but I see no legitimate evidence of that. I am sure many agree but I see nothing to convince me to that end. Do ‘all’ people in vegetative states perceive? How do we know this? If an individual cannot express this perception to another through some communicative process, how can we know this?

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On 5/11/2022 at 9:47 PM, Eiuol said:

As for your last paragraph, I think you misunderstand or have not read enough about what Rand believes about objectivity.

I may well have not understood Rand correctly over the years, but I have been studying and investigating her positions for over fifty years and feel as qualified as anyone else in my interpretations of her realities. I agree with some, and disagree with others. I am not infallible or incapable of making mistakes, but I also am confident that much of what I think that I have comprehended is valid, significant and relevant. At least to me, and that is what philosophy is all about.

I was attracted to Objectivism because it is self-actuated, without the need for dogma and ‘scriptures’ although some may disagree. I never felt pressured to do anything particular, and there were no lists or manifesto that need be embraced or proselytized. I was not required to ‘donate’ or pay a monthly subscription fee. The fundamental that impresses me the most was that the philosophy suggested that the individual was completely responsible for their own decisions and actions, and would have to accept responsibility and obligation for the consequences and ramifications of those thoughts and actions. I was more than a little impressed. It was what I was looking for, and I would embrace no other.

When I speak of Rand and her overzealousness when it comes to objectivity, perhaps I was not clear. I think she clearly said that she was not the be all and end all of information but her positions and perspective was simply a source for contemplation and investigation. Another aspect of the ideology that I appreciated. My comments were simply to the point that she seemed to be a bit irrational with the degree of objectivity that exists in the world around us. She was perhaps too optimistic and I can understand why. With objectivity comes something more relevant and explicable that may be understood and accepted by a wider audience. I think that is what she wanted. I have found that subjectivity is much more prevalent and like the concept of freedom, interminably ‘messy’. My conclusions are somewhat more pragmatic and possibly realistic. Nothing more.

I would never presume to say that I know the genesis of what Rand believed, only what I can glean from it with the abilities I have, which changes every day. I revisit and reevaluate my own positions with each new piece of data and comment I see from whatever source, and do my best to comprehend myself and others to the best of my ability.

On 5/11/2022 at 9:47 PM, Eiuol said:

The important thing to understand is that she conceives of objectivity as obeying and following the nature of the human mind, while objectivity that is beyond or transcends the human mind is a twisted notion.

I find this comment tremendously interesting. If what you say is true, than Rand does in fact believe that she is omnipotent or infallible, since she would have to have intimate and irrefutable information to make the determination that this ‘other’ objectivity, which you infer indeed exists, is ‘beyond or transcends’ the human mind itself. That seems to suggest that she recognizes an objectivity that exists outside of her ability to ‘perceive’ and for it to be a twisted nothing, it means that she dismisses it out of hand. That seems highly hubristic and that is not my interpretation of the woman. There are always things that we do not know or understand, or have not yet perceived in whole or in part. We come to conclusions, and the future gives us more opportunity to learn and to grow. Since we continue to develop, does this mean that we are not yet alive or human? I think not.

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1 hour ago, Lone Cypress said:

The issue of abortion revolves around coming to these conclusions before it can even be considered or determined. If it is not just an amalgam of random cells, then the decision has much greater consequences than many seem to conclude.

Al of these other considerations are valuable in speaking of the development of a human being, but if the fetus is not human or alive, then there has to be a specific ‘and’ demonstrable point in time when these things are introduced, and this has not been made evident. We actually develop from 50 to 70, even if many of these developments are deterioration. We change as well from 30 to 50 and from 10 to 30. I find this irrefutable.

There is a tremendous amount of development from birth to 10, and incredible amount of new and, if I may say, miraculous changes and abilities come into play, but that time in the womb, from -9 months to that birth, are simply another stage of development, nothing more, nothing less, and the life and humanity that exists is simply another ‘stage’ of growth, not matter how fundamental and primitive it is at that time.

We need to determine at what point an individual acquires rights.

We have rights, not because we are alive, as plants and bacteria are, and not because we are conscious, as cats and mice are, and not even because we possess the faculty of reason, but because we use our faculty of reason to live and flourish.  To me, this indicates that an individual must be using their faculty of reason to possess rights.  It is not enough to be conscious and perceiving, like the cats and mice.  Admittedly, this criterion would be difficult to implement in law; we might have to draw the legal line a fixed short period of time after birth.

 

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1 hour ago, Lone Cypress said:

I find this comment tremendously interesting. If what you say is true, than Rand does in fact believe that she is omnipotent or infallible, since she would have to have intimate and irrefutable information to make the determination that this ‘other’ objectivity, which you infer indeed exists, is ‘beyond or transcends’ the human mind itself.

As I understand the point, it is not that this other objectivity exists, but that it does not exist, and that it is twisted to think that it does.

It is twisted to think that mice have rights, or that plants have consciousness, or that rocks have life; they do not.

 

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Aside from a continuing pregnancy creating an immediate medical harm/emergency to the woman , what would be a moral justification for another individual to take purposeful volitional action to kill the fetus ?

I can relate to the construction of a legal designation that would /could absolve an abortionist from criminal liability , but subjectively throughout my adult life my estimation of the morality of abortionists’ actions has yet to be settled.

I haven’t be able to resolve the apparent dichotomy between the abstraction of abortion as opposed to ‘all cause ‘ end of pregnancy. Ie a ‘happy miscarriage ‘ as opposed to a late term abortion.

Just real glad I emerged from the fetal stage intact.

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There are two kinds of issues relating to abortion.  One is the question of what government should have to do with it; this reduces to the question of rights.  The other has to do with all the other moral and psychological issues relating to abortion; this is more complicated.  (People out there who do not understand the nature of government will tend not to understand this distinction.)

 

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1 minute ago, tadmjones said:

By “people out there” are referring to ‘non’ oists?

Yes.

2 minutes ago, tadmjones said:

I think most people have at least the implicit idea that the nature of government is force.

Explicit premises win out over implicit ones   Implicit premises are of limited value in achieving understanding.

 

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11 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

Perhaps they may be a stretch but I think they are valid nonetheless

You might not intend it, but you are equivocating.

1) I perceive the tree.
2) I perceive that the tree is an evergreen.

1 is sensory perception, while 2 is a cognitive identification. 1 refers to things that you see, 2 refers to things like memories and recalling concepts. You can use both versions of 'perception', but they refer to different things. 

The intent of this is to show you that perception implies being conscious, that's all. Consciousness is sufficient for something to be alive, but lacking consciousness does not necessarily mean that something is not alive. Consciousness with a capacity for conceptual cognition does imply having rights, though. You can properly say that a fetus is alive, yet since it does not have the capacity of perception, it couldn't be conscious, let alone possess a conceptual consciousness. Keep in mind that the primary point should be that of a human life begins at birth, that the process of living doesn't begin until birth, even if in some other way the fetus is alive and functioning. 

I don't know what you mean that I think that perception has to be cognitive in nature, I'm saying that cognition itself is not part of perception, that is, the process of perception is not the same broad process as cognition. 

11 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

The fetus knows when it is uncomfortable and may change position,

You presume a lot to say that the fetus is uncomfortable and changes position for that reason. I actually didn't say that a fetus can't perceive. My dispute was your reasoning about nonconscious perception: if there is no such thing as nonconscious perception, your argument fails at this angle. 

A fetus is a different kind of thing than a developing baby. Sperm is even a different kind of thing from a fetus, and from a developing baby. All of these things have human DNA. Birth itself is pretty demonstrable and specific, that's when personhood is introduced. But you already know that's my conclusion, the only thing I really need to demonstrate is that a fetus is a different kind of thing than a baby. Not "another stage of development". 

11 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

Does not ‘habitual’ infer some learned action, and if so, then is not learning something an attribute of cognition.

Yes, so I realize now that 'habitual' wasn't a good word choice. I should've said something like 'in a somewhat automatic way'. I was pointing out that access to some cognitive processes or some physiological processes can be accessed with training. This does not demonstrate that any of these processes are perceptual, were perceptual, or will be perceptual. 

11 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

A human being in a vegetative state can feel pain without perceptual content, at least the body can.

I don't know what you mean that a human being in a vegetative state can feel pain without perceptual content. Pain is perceptual content. Anyway, this is relevant because if something has conceptual consciousness, it has perceptual consciousness, and if it has perceptual consciousness, it has perceptual content. If something does not have perceptual content at all to any degree, it can't be perceptually conscious, and therefore cannot be conceptually consciousness. Additionally, since we know that people in a vegetative state have been conceptual creatures in the past, even if they don't fully qualify as conceptually consciousness, they are alive and conscious, perceiving the world around them. We know that these people perceive because they react to the world around them. If you found someone that didn't even react, I would argue that they are not conscious one bit, and should count as dead.
 

 

11 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

If what you say is true, than Rand does in fact believe that she is omnipotent or infallible, since she would have to have intimate and irrefutable information to make the determination that this ‘other’ objectivity, which you infer indeed exists,

If you studied her that long, I'm surprised that you don't know what she means by objectivity. Fine that you don't agree, but you didn't even get her position correct. I don't know what you mean though by Rand being too optimistic about objectivity that exists. To her, objectivity is a method, you say that a concept or idea is objective, in the sense that the concept refers to something in reality or the proper method has been used to develop the concept or idea. 

Twisted notion, as in bizarre and unfounded notion. I have no idea how you interpret that as suggesting she believed that two kinds of objectivity really exist, and that one is "bad". Clearly you read enough to know that Rand made arguments why her notion was correct and proper. She never did argue that there is some kind of objective truth outside the ability to perceive existed. Since after 50 years of reading Rand you still do not understand this... you certainly are not qualified to say much of anything about Rand. Again, I don't care that you disagree, I'm saying you got her position wrong.

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  •  
  Here are some edited paragraphs Robert Tracinski wrote about abortion back in 2013:  

April 28, 2013 FEATURE ARTICLE The Philosophy of Gosnell. The Abortion Debate Requires a Philosophical Perspective on Individual Rights by Robert Tracinski

 . . . Put simply, if you think rights are granted by society, as the left does, that leads to one particular view of abortion. If you think that rights are given to us by God, that tends to support a different view. And if you believe that rights have a secular, non-collectivist foundation, as I do, that leads to yet another approach to the question. The standard "pro-choice" view on the left clearly reflects the social and collective view of rights. If rights are granted by society, then issues of freedom and entitlement will naturally be defined in terms of which groups a society is seeking to protect or empower. We will think of every issue in terms of a battle between women, racial minorities, and youth versus old white males (who are themselves a minority, of course, but whose wealth and power the left seeks to redistribute to the other groups) . . . The traditional conservative view that rights are granted by God makes rights an inherent possession of the individual, rather than the group. There are collectivist strains in conservatism, by the way, but when it comes to abortion, the conservatives generally are absolutists in their insistence that the individual has a right to life that supersedes social norms or needs. But who counts as an individual? If you believe that rights are implanted in us by God, then you will look for a theological answer to the question of when those rights begin. Thanks partly to John Paul II, who popularized among Protestants the Catholic doctrine that God implants the soul at the moment of conception, this is the moment the religious right identifies as the point when an individual acquires rights.

What about a secular concept of individual rights? The religious right relies on the assumption that rights either come from God or from society, but what about a third possibility: that they come from nature? Thomas Jefferson described the rights in the Declaration of Independence as coming from "the laws of nature and of nature's God." Those of us on the secular right, which is to say those of us influenced by Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, accept the first half of that formulation while seeing no need for the second half. So, what in the "laws of nature" provides a secular basis for the concept of rights?

The secular basis for individual rights is the quality that separates man from the animals: our ability to reason. When we ask what is the basis of rights, what we are really asking is: why not just deal with other men by brute force, the way we deal with the animals? There is no such thing as "rights" in the animal kingdom, because there is no such thing as persuasion; you can't reason with a lion and convince it that its long-term interests would be better served by not eating you. But when it comes to your fellow man, you have far more to gain from voluntary cooperation than you do from expropriation or coercion. That's true from the very beginning, from early men banding together to hunt gazelles, to every step up on the rungs of civilization: working together to build farms, cities, factories, and global telecommunications networks. The difference between a long, peaceful, fulfilling life in a civilized society and the short and brutal life of a solitary hunter-gatherer is the scope of cooperation among men . . . .

. . . . If that is the basis for individual rights, what does this imply about when rights begin? Well, for example, it explains why children don't have the same rights as adults. A three-year-old does not yet have the ability to think clearly and to rationally control his actions; believe me, I have one at home. But the key word is "yet." . . . .

. . . From a secular perspective, an embryo is an easier case. It is living, of course, and if allowed to grow it will become a human being. But at these early stages, it is still part of a woman's body and totally dependent on her. An embryo has not yet even formed the organs that will make it capable of being conscious or viable outside the womb. Because it is not a separate, independently viable living being, much less a rational being, it does not have a separate right to life.

But as a fetus moves along the continuum the question becomes more difficult. A late-term fetus in particular has developed all of its organs and is mostly just growing in size and strength. It is already capable of being conscious and of independent life. Advances in medicine have pushed back the point at which a fetus is viable outside the womb to as early as 24 weeks, which is probably the limit of what is possible. But the survivability of a fetus at this stage is still somewhat doubtful, so we can take the third trimester of the pregnancy—from about 28 weeks on—as a better guide for when the fetus is fully formed and viable . . . .

 . . . And here is where I will agree with the conservatives. In the third trimester, I think it is immoral to abort a fetus—in the absence of some serious extenuating circumstance, such as a threat to the life of the mother. By the time you have reached the third trimester, you have already made a baby; you're just waiting for the right time to deliver it. You might decide you don't want to raise the child, in which case you can pass that responsibility on to someone else. But the baby is already there, ready and able to live, and I cannot think of a moral reason to deny it that opportunity, particularly in a day and age when there are waiting lists for couples eager to adopt a healthy child and give it a good home.

But the moral issue is not necessarily the same as the legal and political issue. To begin with, the fetus is still in its mother's body and ideally will stay there until full term, so you cannot protect the life of the fetus without regulating the use of the mother's own body, which raises both legal and practical difficulties. And you will notice that I made an exception for extenuating circumstances such as a threat to the life of the mother. When my oldest child was at this stage, the Supreme Court was considering a case that related to late-term pregnancies, and I remember how close to home that idea hit. I remember thinking that if something went horribly wrong in my wife's pregnancy that we might have a very difficult decision to make, and that we wanted to be able to make it ourselves, based on the best advice from our doctor, without a judge or a prosecutor sitting over our shoulders ready to countermand that decision.

So, while there is a legitimate debate about restrictions on late-term abortions, there must also be a strong presumption in favor of the judgment of parents and doctors, even at the risk that some will use their authority immorally. It is important to fill that gap, to know where we stand philosophically, and to clearly define our principles, because this debate is just getting started.

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As far as a rational morality is concerned, the challenge is bringing together that ethics and individual rights.

For the late stage fetus, physically dependent upon its mother -  of course, as it will go on being, long after birth -- but of a developed and ¬independent¬ nervous system, brain, organs and, above all, senses, I think it's indeed "immoral" to abort it.

While it remains her right to do so.

Generally, as this comes up often, what is and might be within one's individual rights to do does not necessarily make it "right", rationally and selfishly, to do.

No longer a potential. The point of *actuality* in Tracinski's and (Roger Bissell's "bright line") argument has been reached and passed for the advanced fetus; the mother is who allowed it to be.

Therefore, her value-choice, her responsibility. To have ignored the growth of her embryo-fetus, that continuum, which she may believe can be disposed of at any moment in future up until natural birth, was her evasion. That involves and indicates a selfless disregard for her bodily and psychological well-being.  

Life (and rights) "begin at birth"? Not by our present understanding of fetology. That is one Randian statement that can be put aside. And with it, the premise of "individuation".

The fetus is the identical entity for some period, pre-birth, to its birthed 'twin'. It gains no human and biological attributes in a magical or mysterious transformation by emerging into the outside world and our complete awareness. (The emotional, awe-inspiring and heightened value components of that event, a human birth, is what has traditionally lent it the mystique, you could guess).

The only distinction, as extreme abortion advocates would have it, between late abortion and infanticide lies in the narrow time frame separating them. 

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42 minutes ago, tadmjones said:

You could say there is a right to suicide , but no right to have someone ‘perform’ it for you. 

 

Well, no. Not if you choose to have someone assist who also chooses and/or is professionally competent and volunteers a service to perform that task. No one's rights are abrogated.

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On 5/14/2022 at 8:49 AM, Doug Morris said:

We need to determine at what point an individual acquires rights.

We have rights, not because we are alive, as plants and bacteria are, and not because we are conscious, as cats and mice are, and not even because we possess the faculty of reason, but because we use our faculty of reason to live and flourish. 

We need to determine at what point an individual is alive and considered human. That was ‘my’ interpretation of the OP. Rights in the way I see them being portrayed here are arbitrary, subjective and legal, unless we speak of natural or intrinsic rights which would be something more organic, fundamentally philosophical and morally based, which indeed is again somewhat personally arbitrary and subjective, with whatever objectivity we may derive from our abilities and whatever data is available to us.

Your opinion notwithstanding, if the determinate reality is our ‘use’ of our faculty of ‘reason’ that eventuates our ‘rights’ then the human in a vegetative state, those with dementia, those in the womb and even those below the age of let’s say five to seven are not using their ‘faculty’ of reason to any significant extent. Are they available for post-birth abortions or executions? I know adults that have not demonstrated any real use of reason or intelligence. Are they available as well? You seem to be creating your own standards and using them as absolutes and from my perspective they are not.

What is the significance of have the faculty of reason to possess rights? Some people drown kittens and puppies in bags because they are inconvenient to them. Is this acceptable behaviour to you? Does this demonstrate the ability to reason in any substantive way?

You state that some ‘legal line’ needs to be drawn at some point but you neglect to explain why. I see no legitimacy in the position, only opinion. I see no attempt at persuasion, only an attempt to create a paradigm with no foundation.

I still don’t understand why we are speaking of rights in some legal sense when it is the right of existence that needs to be addressed. Whether an individual has the right to terminate something with life is another matter and each needs to accept responsibility for the decision, whether it be to terminate the life of an unborn human individual or the eating of animal flesh, which I do and struggle with continually. I think that the unnecessary taking of a life is debatable and complex. Legal rights are a human construct and prone to corruption, ideology and irrational self-interest.

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