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marotta
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Is pro-life consistent with Objectivism?  

148 members have voted

  1. 1. Is pro-life consistent with Objectivism?

    • No, Objectivism is inherantly pro-choice.
      111
    • Yes, the fetus is rational and has rights sometime before birth.
      6


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Regarding the poll: Claiming to be an Objectivist is not the same as actually being an Objectivist. The rejection of the right to abortion is a rejection of a significant part of Objectivism. If one thought that way, it would be proper to say that you agree with all of Objectivism with the exception of the right to abortion, but you should not claim the title of Objectivist.

Also, it has been my experience that those who claim to accept Objectivism except for [insert some important fundamental or important consequence] usually wind up over a long-enough period of time rejecting more aspects of Objectivism. The philosophy is an integrated whole, logically connected, and chipping away a small piece of the foundation usually winds up with the structure falling down.

p.s. The poll question had a note that I had already voted, but if I did it must have been by doing something accidental. I certainly hope that my mysteriously-generated vote was not against the right to abortion.

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I second Stephen's comments. It's not opposition to the right to abortion as such that conflicts with Objectivism, but the reasons one would have for doing so. Sooner or later, as one's knowledge developed, one would reach the point where one would have to choose between the principle of individual rights, and one's opposition to abortion rights. If one chose the latter, one would no longer be an Objectivist; if one chose the former, one would no longer oppose the right to abortion.

The fact is, a correct grasp of the facts that give rise to man's rights cannot lead one to conclude that something inside of and attached to a human being has rights. Rights deal with the interaction of individuals. There is no interaction of individuals before birth - there can't be.

I like the way Peikoff puts it:

"Just as there are no rights of collections of individuals, so there are no rights of parts of individuals - no rights of arms or of tumors or of any piece of tissue growing within a woman, even if it has the capacity to become in time a human being. A potentiality is not an actuality, and a fertilized ovum, an embryo, or a fetus is not a human being. Rights belong only to man - and men are entities, organisms that are biologically formed and physically seperate from one another. That which lives within the body of another can claim no prerogatives against its host" (OPAR 357).

If you include under the concept "man" non-individuals, biological dependencies, or potential human beings growing inside the body of actual human beings, what is left of individualism? Or of egoism? And, what therefore, is left of Objectivism?

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I second Stephen's comments.  It's not opposition to the right to abortion as such that conflicts with Objectivism, but the reasons one would have for doing so.  Sooner or later, as one's knowledge developed, one would reach the point where one would have to choose between the principle of individual rights, and one's opposition to abortion rights.  If one chose the latter, one would no longer be an Objectivist; if one chose the former, one would no longer oppose the right to abortion.

Yes, exactly. And, once the full meaning of individual rights becomes blurred, it is only a matter of time before that lack of clarity is applied to other areas, such as "animal rights," or an overly-sappy "concern" for the loss of innocent life in a war, at the expense of the lives of our soldiers. Contradictions do not exist in physical reality, and the mind cannot compartmentalize contradictory principles forever.

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I would also like to point out that just because I agree with the RIGHT to abortion, does not mean that I have to like it-or choose it. I personally do not like abortion, and would much rather choose contraceptives. However, I still agree that people have the right to choose an abortion or not. It reminds me of a quote...

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

-Voltaire

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I personally do not like abortion, and would much rather choose contraceptives.

The implication of this statement is that abortion is a form of birth control, just as are contraceptives. This is not so, and such an implication suits the purpose of undermining the completely moral justification for abortion. I might add that I have often heard such an equivocation of abortion and birth control by those who, unlike JRoberts, do seek to deprive a woman of the right to her own body.

If you, JRoberts, do indeed believe, as you said, that a woman has a right to abortion, even though you do not personally aprove of it, then it would be best not to equivocate between abortion and birth control.

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The implication of this statement is that abortion is a form of birth control, just as are contraceptives. This is not so, and such an implication suits the purpose of undermining the completely moral justification for abortion.

I do not understand how this is so. Would you please explain?

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I do not understand how this is so. Would you please explain?

It is not clear to me if you want me to explain my first or my second sentence, so I will explain both.

First sentence: Your use of "and" as a conjunction, along with your "much rather choose," likens abortion to birth control.

Second sentence: The main purpose of abortion is to remove a fetus which usually occurs when birth control methods fail. The medical act of abortion is a significant event, certainly not on the casual level of the regular use of condoms. There is risk to the woman and such indiscriminant use of abortion places the act on the level of a flighty, not all that serious choice. This stands in distinction to the very serious choice a woman faces when abortion is the only means she has to remove an unwanted potential of a child.

If abortion were, both medically and legally, on the same simple level as the use of condoms, I would have no difficulty with your statement. However, that is not the case, and abortion is[/b} a very serious choice that a woman might have to face, and should not be likened to simple everyday birth control.

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  • 2 years later...

Objectivism is inherently pro-choice and the fetus-embryo-zygote has inalienable rights from the moment of conception. The mother, however, has no right to invade, occupy, or feed off the body of another human being. Such an act would be criminal. Since inalienable rights are also equal rights, the fetus, like the mother, has no right to occupy or feed off the body (property) of the mother without her consent and, thus, can rightly be aborted or forcibly ejected from the mother's body. The correct answer to the poll is both choices.

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...the fetus-embryo-zygote has inalienable rights from the moment of conception.
Why?

Added: There are a whole lot of threads on abortion. Use Search to find them. The longest is this one.; but there's also this one, and this one.

Edited by softwareNerd
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How can the embryo have the same rights as the mother? She's a bit more conceptual than the clump of cells in her uterus. :) The embryo is more like a tumor at that point, if anything...it is certainly not like a fully functioning and independent human being.

Edited by Mimpy
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Objectivism is inherently pro-choice and the fetus-embryo-zygote has inalienable rights from the moment of conception. The mother, however, has no right to invade, occupy, or feed off the body of another human being. Such an act would be criminal. Since inalienable rights are also equal rights, the fetus, like the mother, has no right to occupy or feed off the body (property) of the mother without her consent and, thus, can rightly be aborted or forcibly ejected from the mother's body. The correct answer to the poll is both choices.

So the correct answer is that Objectivism is both consistent AND inconsistent? Lets check some definitions for a moment:

Consistent: agreeing or accordant; compatible; non-contradictory.

Inconsisten: lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; contradictory:

So we would therefore reasonably expect that if pro-life claims abortion is not a right, than it is INCONSISTENT with Objectivist ethics (it contradicts with fundamental premises of Objectivist ethics), therefore it cannot possibly be consistent with them (ie cannot be non-contradictory, as it contradicts with Objectivist ethics). Something cannot be in agreement and disagreement at the same time on t he same points, something cannot be a contradiction and a non-contradiction at the same time.

Your claim that it is both is non-sensical. When you arrive at conclusions that cannot be true, trace your reasoning backwards, you will find that somewhere along there you will find one of your premises to be wrong. Contradictions cannot exist in reality in part or in whole, therefore if you conclude they do you, AT LEAST one of your premises is wrong.

You claim the fetus has rights that the mother does not. On what [shaky] grounds should we beleive this? Why should we beleive rights apply to a fetus at all? Consider for a moment why the adult mother has rights, and whether the fetus would have any rights. Maybe then you will find a root cause of your ridicolous assertion that pro-life is both consistent and inconsistent when it is hugely inconsistent..

Edited by Prometheus98876
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A fetus is a collection of cells that may or may not develop into a proper human being, at some stage after birth. Rights do not apply to a fetus which is a potential for life, a potential for one day acquiring rights. It has no rights whatsoever. Rights are a moral sanction to take action in a social context, presuming the ability to make choices and act on them in order to acheive values? how can these apply to a fetus which has no decision-making ability or ability to act to acheive values (which it cannot hold)?

The mother however has rights to determine if she wishes to bear the burden of a child, to determine if the fetus feeds off her energy, and if she then wishes to support it after birth as well. She has the right tot say "no, Im going to decide what to do with my own body" and terminate the organism she bears. The fetus has no rights to demand that she keeps it alive agaisnt her will, no right to demand that she sacrifice her body to slavery to some unborn potential, some mass of cells, nor does anyone else have the right to demand that she does in the name of a mass of cells with no rights.

If you wish to claim the mother should not have an abortion, dont disguise it as an issue of the babies rights, the truth is you wish to overlook the mothers rights, and promote slavery to some biological potentialk....nothing more.

Edited by Prometheus98876
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You need to check your premises, as Prometheus98876 said. Both cannot be true. For something to be inconsistent and consistent is a contradictions. As Prometheus98876 said, contradictions cannot exist in reality, not in part or in whole. To state otherwise is to abdicate your conciousness, to abdicate your belief in objective reality. To abdicate your belief in objective reality is to abdicate your belief in existence and identity.

You are saying that both the foetus's and the mother's rights are applicable. But if so they are in conflict. However, no man's rights are ever in conflict with another's. Therefore, you have an error with who's rights apply. The best way to resolve this issue is to go back to the question of whether or not the foetus has any rights. The answer is, no. Why? Because the mind is the source of human rights. The foetus has no mind. On top of that the foetus cannot survive except by means of its mother. No one has a duty to support another. They have only the choice to do so. Any being the lives off another against their will is the very definition of a parasite.

Ps, this is a reply to Aureus.

Edited by DragonMaci
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The foetus has no means of demanding that anyway, so how are we to kn ow its demands? We cannot act on the demands of a being that cannot communicate. Besides it has no means of formulating any demands. That, Aureus, is a part of why baby's have no rights.

Edited by DragonMaci
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The foetus has no means of demanding that anyway, so how are we to kn ow its demands? We cannot act on the demands of a being that cannot communicate. Besides it has no means of formulating any demands. That, Aureus, is a part of why baby's have no rights.

I do not disagree with your conclusion, but it seems that the fetus' lack of communication is poor grounds for the denial of rights. Otherwise, infants, people in coma's, mentally disabled, sleeping folks, etc all could have their right to life denied. I would suggest other approaches.

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The foetus has no means of demanding that anyway, so how are we to kn ow its demands? We cannot act on the demands of a being that cannot communicate. Besides it has no means of formulating any demands. That, Aureus, is a part of why baby's have no rights.

Yeap, but I didnt think that needed pointing out as last I checked we (Aureus included I hope) realize that :-)

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I second Stephen's comments. It's not opposition to the right to abortion as such that conflicts with Objectivism, but the reasons one would have for doing so. Sooner or later, as one's knowledge developed, one would reach the point where one would have to choose between the principle of individual rights, and one's opposition to abortion rights. If one chose the latter, one would no longer be an Objectivist; if one chose the former, one would no longer oppose the right to abortion.

The fact is, a correct grasp of the facts that give rise to man's rights cannot lead one to conclude that something inside of and attached to a human being has rights. Rights deal with the interaction of individuals. There is no interaction of individuals before birth - there can't be.

I like the way Peikoff puts it:

"Just as there are no rights of collections of individuals, so there are no rights of parts of individuals - no rights of arms or of tumors or of any piece of tissue growing within a woman, even if it has the capacity to become in time a human being. A potentiality is not an actuality, and a fertilized ovum, an embryo, or a fetus is not a human being. Rights belong only to man - and men are entities, organisms that are biologically formed and physically seperate from one another. That which lives within the body of another can claim no prerogatives against its host" (OPAR 357).

If you include under the concept "man" non-individuals, biological dependencies, or potential human beings growing inside the body of actual human beings, what is left of individualism? Or of egoism? And, what therefore, is left of Objectivism?

What exactly is the definition of "human" in this context? Is it purely a matter of physical connection to the mother? Does cognitive ability come into play somehow? Peikoff mentions the idea of a fetus being a parasite that lives off its host, but I'm not sure that's really relevant as far as its rights are concerned. It's not as though the fetus came to that point of its own free will- it was the direct action of the mother (except I suppose in the case of rape, though even that might not fundamentally change the issue) that brought the fetus into being in its dependent state. In fact, isn't that oneof the reasons why parents are obligated to provide for their children- because children start out unable to fend for themselves, and it is the parents who brought them to that point? It seems like in both cases a dependency is present, and I don't see why a physical attatchment would be the fundamental moral libe. It seems to me that in order to be considered "human", and therefore possessing of the right to life, a festus need only demonstarte some higher order brain function associated soley with humans- that is, some aspect of rational thought. I admit, I don't know how well scientists can determine that kind of activity, if at all, but philosophically speaking, that seems like the only relevant consideration in determining whether or not this "clump of cells" can be said to have rights.

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The foetus has no means of demanding that anyway, so how are we to kn ow its demands? We cannot act on the demands of a being that cannot communicate. Besides it has no means of formulating any demands. That, Aureus, is a part of why baby's have no rights.

Yeah, I am going to go with a=a on this one. The fact that someone cannot communicate, is not by itself a part of the reasons someone has no rights, though I assume you do not mean to imply it is. Sure it cannot communicate, and it has no rights, but both are ultimately because it has not got a proper working mind and so forth...

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I do not disagree with your conclusion, but it seems that the fetus' lack of communication is poor grounds for the denial of rights. Otherwise, infants, people in coma's, mentally disabled, sleeping folks, etc all could have their right to life denied. I would suggest other approaches.

I never said the lack of ability to communicate was the reason. I said the lack of ability to have any demands is. Hence my, "Besides it has no means of formulating any demands."

Yeah, I am going to go with a=a on this one. The fact that someone cannot communicate, is not by itself a part of the reasons someone has no rights, though I assume you do not mean to imply it is. Sure it cannot communicate, and it has no rights, but both are ultimately because it has not got a proper working mind and so forth...

I know the mind bit, hence the, "Besides it has no means of formulating any demands." My response to the res is the same as what I said to aequalsa.

EDIT: I added a reply to Prometheus98876.

Edited by DragonMaci
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Anything that one says on this topic is probably a repetition of that arguments already in those threads to which I linked, above. Nevertheless...

What exactly is the definition of "human" in this context? Is it purely a matter of physical connection to the mother?
You're right, that the pure fact of a connection is not all there is to it. We'd might need to modify the idea of rights, and add in some special obligations, if fully-grown humans were routinely bodily-attached to each other. Other factors go into drawing the legal "line". Personally, I think separation is the best point at which to draw it.
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