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Why does life begin at birth?

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On 5/14/2022 at 8:55 AM, Doug Morris said:

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.

Upon again reading the passage I may have misinterpreted the line. It may have been better not to call into question something that does not exist. If I may, I believe my point was that Rand believes many things to be ‘objective’ when they are not. The truly objective are more rare than she wishes or presents. I don’t believe that human nature can be codified to any great degree. Agreement does not signify objectivity. As with science, things become considered factual when any random individual that does an experiment will come up with the same results. I fail to see something similar with objectivity. It remains highly subjective.

This does not mean that I do not strive for objectivity in my own deliberations, but acknowledge that since little of the mind can truly be defined and demonstrated we have to live with approximations and reasoned conclusions.

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On 5/14/2022 at 8:55 AM, Doug Morris said:

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

Speaking of ‘twisted’ those that have no compunction to killing mice or even lower life forms like insects, without reason or need, are something less than human. Animals and plants are alive and deserve respect for their lives as they exist. They may not have rights in the same sense that we do, but laws exist for many of them, both plant and animal, that makes it an actual ‘crime’ to exterminate them which seems to disagree with much of your premise. If we just dismiss what we don’t like or agree with, we are simply irrationally self-interested individuals of little consequence.

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3 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

We need to determine at what point an individual is alive and considered human. That was ‘my’ interpretation of the OP.

There are two kinds of questions here.  One is the question of what government should have to say about abortion; the other has to do with the complexity of moral, medical, and psychological issues a woman needs to consider when deciding about abortion.  I do not claim to have a good understanding of the latter and am not trying to address it.  I am trying to address the former.  Not only is this a "hot" current issue, but it is a very important issue, because government, by trying to control abortion, has a big impact on people's lives, and because it relates to fundamental issues about rights and government.  Also, it is the issue Ayn Rand was trying to address when she said life begins at birth.  It is in connection with this issue that the question becomes, at what point does an individual acquire rights.

3 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

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.

The question I am trying to address requires us to determine what people's rights are in the sense relevant to what the law should say.  Ayn Rand has given us a basic approach to determining this objectively.  We need to carry this further and to teach it to others.

3 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

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

Children who are using concepts like "food" and "chair" are using their faculty of reason to a sufficient extent to qualify as humans with rights.  This is true even if they are not speaking.  Once people acquire rights, they retain them even if they lose their faculty of reason.

3 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

Some people drown kittens and puppies in bags because they are inconvenient to them.

They are within their political rights to do this.  Whether it is rational is an entirely different question.

3 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

You state that some ‘legal line’ needs to be drawn at some point but you neglect to explain why.

Because of the way the law works, it must involve the drawing of lines.

3 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

I see no attempt at persuasion, only an attempt to create a paradigm with no foundation.

I am stating my position and giving some indication of my reasons for it, in order to indicate some of the breadth of issues that must be considered in order to have a sound approach to the issue of what the government should have to say about abortion.  I realize that further discussion may be necessary for persuasion.

 

4 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

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.

I addressed this in the second part of my answer.

 

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4 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

If I may, I believe my point was that Rand believes many things to be ‘objective’ when they are not. The truly objective are more rare than she wishes or presents. I don’t believe that human nature can be codified to any great degree. Agreement does not signify objectivity. As with science, things become considered factual when any random individual that does an experiment will come up with the same results. I fail to see something similar with objectivity. It remains highly subjective.

This does not mean that I do not strive for objectivity in my own deliberations, but acknowledge that since little of the mind can truly be defined and demonstrated we have to live with approximations and reasoned conclusions.

People may be guilty of a lot of subjectivity, but this does not mean they have to.  Aristotle and Ayn Rand have given us a good start on understanding objectivity; we need to carry this work forward and to teach it to others.

 

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4 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

Speaking of ‘twisted’ those that have no compunction to killing mice or even lower life forms like insects, without reason or need, are something less than human. Animals and plants are alive and deserve respect for their lives as they exist. They may not have rights in the same sense that we do, but laws exist for many of them, both plant and animal, that makes it an actual ‘crime’ to exterminate them which seems to disagree with much of your premise. If we just dismiss what we don’t like or agree with, we are simply irrationally self-interested individuals of little consequence.

I was trying to clarify the concept of "twisted" in the sense being used in this discussion.  I agree that animals and plants are alive and deserve respect for their lives as they exist.

What should be illegal and what is immoral are two different questions.  Since I am talking about what the law should do, this distinction is important for understanding what I am saying.

 

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6 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

They may not have rights in the same sense that we do, but laws exist for many of them, both plant and animal, that makes it an actual ‘crime’ to exterminate them which seems to disagree with much of your premise.

But very few people claim that they have rights. You are equivocating again: rights as respect, versus rights as a rich legal concept pertaining to the needs of individuals. 

6 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

If I may, I believe my point was that Rand believes many things to be ‘objective’ when they are not.

What things? The phrase in that way suggests you don't know what she meant anyway. Objectivity is a method as I said, if you mean that she was mistaken at times that she was being objective, that's fine. But I don't think you meant that, what you said is more like "things are not absolutely and permanently true in every context about far more things than she thought" which is pretty far off the mark. I actually don't know what you mean by subjectivity.

I was going to say more, but then I realized, if someone wants to lie and say that they have read Rand over the course of 50 years, they probably aren't trying to argue in good faith. I don't care if you agree ultimately, but the people you're arguing with underlying premises that you claim to understand. 

 

Edited by Eiuol
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On 2/16/2022 at 10:27 PM, Mr Jenko said:
Hey all - this is my first post. Please help me with the below (probably novice question).
 
Consciousness is that faculty of an entity which perceives existence. One must exist (and be living) to perceive existence. The unborn processes sensory material - perceiving existence- during some stage in its development. This is measurable by various technology from what I gather. Individuation of the unborn entity from the entity of the mother must therefor occur prior to its physical separation from the mother? The unborn entity maintains some relational quality (eg physical connectedness) to its host mother until its separation?
 
I don't see why a change in some qualities of an already living entity (say connectedness to its host) indicates the beginning of a new process for that entity- life. It is already alive prior to its birth is it not? Hence the use of the phrase 'stillbirth' to indicate when the the opposite occurs?
 
Why then does Rand say life begins at birth? Rather than birth being some stage one passes through during ones life which has already begun prior?
 
Thanks. Any recommended additional reading on this topic would be much appreciated. 

As I recall, the notion of individual and its connection to legality of abortion as Rand had it was also the notion and connection in common law before the statutes against abortion came about in the US.

The neonate remains utterly dependent on humans capable of supporting the life of the infant and toddler. I don't think that birth is the correct stage for altering the moral-permissibiility relations among adults concerning the dependent. The turning point is viability of the fetus to survive (with assistance) outside the womb. That point does not change some sort of rights-bearing of the fetus/infant inhering in it; that is an incorrect notion of what and how rights are anyway. No, the viability-turn changes what can (physical possibility) be done by would-be supporters of the infant without impressing the mother into their service, i.e., without impessing her (or anyone) into the service of their project, their aims.

The stage at which viability is reached changes with advances in medical technology, but that is nothing against it's decisiveness in shifting the rights relations among the adults over their actions (and their governmental agents' actions) concerning the fetus/infant. Prohibitions of pre-viability abortion are slavery of some adults to other adults (e.g. to Catholic theologians).

The bodies of Christians were purchased by Jesus Christ on Calvary. But I don't think he ever gave license to impress non-Christians into that faith, and anyway, even if he agreed with latter-day Catholic reasoning about wrongness of abortion, I have Catholic friends who think that although abortion is morally wrong at any point of development, it should not be made flatly illegal in the secular law.

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On 5/11/2022 at 9:52 PM, Eiuol said:

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. 

I am not sure what to say. It seems that in this case you are misunderstanding what I have been saying. Do you really mean to say that I have made no conclusions or presented no answers, no matter how feeble they may have been, to the questions under discussion? I am somewhat confused and disappointed.

While it is true that I may ask more questions than give answers, I would have to ask what you believe philosophy to be. For me, it is primarily about asking questions, without the need or possibly unrealistic expectation to finding any particular answers. It is an inspiration and an opportunity to think of concepts and the perspectives of others and to make an attempt to learn something from the experience. Perhaps that means answers, and maybe just more questions. That is my reality

One only needs focus if it is a subject that interests them and they wish to pursue the investigation for whatever reasons. I have no obligation to explore everything simply because someone else wishes to do so. I don’t have the time to do so in any case. Life will always be a matter of priorities and ironically, that is a fundament precept of Objectivism as well. We look at and question those things that have relevance and significance for us. That is the beauty of philosophy. Someone else can look at those subjects that are outside of our interest, and we may someday learn from their efforts, even though we did not partake.

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11 hours ago, Lone Cypress said:

Do you really mean to say that I have made no conclusions or presented no answers, no matter how feeble they may have been, to the questions under discussion? I am somewhat confused and disappointed.

It looks like you have posed some questions, then provided preliminary answers, and others including me have responded to those questions. But I don't think the discussion progressed from there, with you speaking further as if the answers were arbitrary (as in based on nothing but assertions), and you were committing fallacies like equivocation, and throwing around red herrings. Then you claim things like reading Rand for over 50 years, despite making some very common mistakes for people who have only read very little by her except a few essays. So it doesn't look like you are trying very hard. I mean, it isn't a general philosophy forum, the intent is to learn a particular philosophy. 

Of course you have no obligation to explore everything, but you are trying to explore a hard subject without very much focus. 

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