Jump to content






Photo
- - - - -

Ronald Reagan: Fan of Ayn Rand


  • Please log in to reply
71 replies to this topic

#1 Dennis Hardin

Dennis Hardin

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 1,494 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Pedro, California
  • Interests:Philosophy, psychology (Ph. D., licensed therapist)

Posted 12 February 2012 - 05:06 PM

This may have been referenced previously on OL, but I couldn’t find any mention of it. Most OL members are well aware of Rand’s vehement disapproval of Ronald Reagan, but this is the first statement I have seen expressing Reagan’s view of Rand.

In a May 23, 1966, letter William Vandersteel, president of the Ampower Corporation, expressed confidence that Reagan could win the presidency in 1968 and enclosed a pamphlet by Ayn Rand titled “Conservatism: An Obituary” written after the 1960 presidential campaign. In the essay Rand argues that many conservatives are opposed to statism but don’t seem to realize the only good alternative is capitalism.

Reagan’s letter:

William Vandersteel
New York, NY
May 23, 1966

Dear Mr. Vandersteel:

Thanks very much for the pamphlet. Am an admirer of Ayn Rand but hadn’t seen this study.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan
From Ronald Reagan: A Life in Letters
pp. 281-282


This letter was written in 1966, two weeks before Reagan was first elected governor of California. Soon afterwards, Rand would make a profoundly positive public statement in support of Reagan. She credited his sudden political success to Reagan’s brilliant speech in support of Barry Goldwater in 1964, and expressed cautious optimism about his future.

Her tempered optimism would take a radically negative turn when Reagan opposed Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. In 1980, she denounced him in even stronger terms. Rand regarded his mixture of capitalism and religion as a profound threat to America’s future. Once again, this warning from the author of Atlas Shrugged turned out to be remarkably prophetic.

#2 Brant Gaede

Brant Gaede

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,036 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tucson, AZ
  • Interests:All kinds of stuff

Posted 12 February 2012 - 05:10 PM

She objected mostly to his stand on abortion and called him a power seeker.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#3 Dennis Hardin

Dennis Hardin

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 1,494 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Pedro, California
  • Interests:Philosophy, psychology (Ph. D., licensed therapist)

Posted 12 February 2012 - 06:24 PM

She regarded Reagan’s opposition to abortion as symptomatic of his religiosity and his miserable inadequacy as a defender of individual rights. In a letter dated March 11, 1981, she stated: “I do not approve of Mr. Reagan’s mixture of capitalism and religion.” (Letters of Ayn Rand). Of course, this echoed her prior warnings about the threat represented by National Review magazine in her Playboy interview.

Abortion was certainly a pivotal religious issue for her. She called Reagan’s stance on abortion “despicable” and literally begged her readers not to vote for him. If you read her statements, she makes clear that she regarded the anti-abortion advocates as motivated by a religious hatred for happiness on earth and in this lifetime.

Now, more than thirty years later, abortion remains the litmus test for conservative Republican candidates. Even the "libertarian" Ron Paul displays total ineptitude when it comes to defending a woman's right to do as she pleases with her own body. It would be unbelievably discouraging but for the fact that liberals, despite all their collectivist insanity, totally reject such religious claptrap for the nonsense that it is. For some bizarre reason, that gives me hope for the future.

#4 Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 2,379 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Land of Sky Blue Water

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:07 PM

Dennis Hardin wrote:
It would be unbelievably discouraging but for the fact that liberals, despite all their collectivist insanity, totally reject such religious claptrap for the nonsense that it is. For some bizarre reason, that gives me hope for the future.
end quote

That expresses the modern liberals elitist appeal. What you also agree with Marxism since it claims a scientific, atheistic stance?

A reasoned opposition to abortion would recognize that a fetus CAN BECOME a person with rights before birth. The criteria for rights is *human consciousness* which begins around the twenty sixth to twenty eighth week of gestation.

If you disagree, with that, kindly remember that Ayn Rand modified her stance and did not agree with your position. Rand considered a fetus a person with rights if it were aborted yet viable. She did not think a mother had a *right* to a dead baby. Viability occurs before the beginning of consciousness.
Peter Taylor
Semper cogitans fidele,
Independent Objectivist,
Peter Taylor

#5 Selene

Selene

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,184 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Interests:Chess, birding, football, baseball, minimalist backpacking, argumentation and debate, politics and philosophy, strategic board gaming, history, Rand, poetry, writing.

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:14 PM

If you disagree, with that, kindly remember that Ayn Rand modified her stance and did not agree with your position. Rand considered a fetus a person with rights if it were aborted yet viable. She did not think a mother had a *right* to a dead baby. Viability occurs before the beginning of consciousness.
Peter Taylor


Mr. Taylor, do you have the exact cite, or quote on that modification of her position?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#6 Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 2,379 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Land of Sky Blue Water

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:35 PM

The easiest quote is still the current quote. Her stance, from the letter “A” in “The Ayn Rand Lexicon”:
Abortion
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).
end quote

If the above is sufficient, stop there. I will try to reconcile all her stances below, with an old letter of mine.

Using the above definition, here are the definitions from Merriam Webster Online, of her words, EMBRYO, RIGHTS, AND LIFE /LIVING. I will zero in on the sub-meaning Ayn Rand used from her definition of Abortion:
Quote
EMBRYO
b : an animal in the early stages of growth and differentiation . . . especially the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the eighth week after conception

RIGHTS, or more exactly, HUMAN RIGHTS
as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons

LIVING
1 a : having life

LIFE
b : a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings
c : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
end quote

Now I will begin my critical, contextual analysis.

“An embryo has no rights.”
Rand’s definition is correct in that sentence and she is correct in the next sentence that states, “Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being.” It is true using the definition of embryo, as up the eighth week after conception. When she uses the phrase “only to an actual being” she must logically mean a *person*, since normal human embryos naturally become persons. There is an actual human being in the mother from conception onwards, at a particular stage of development. However, that being may not YET be a *person*, which I will explain.

Rand next writes that, “A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born.”

Again from Merriam Webster, Rand is using the sub-meaning of Human Rights, as “freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution as belonging fundamentally to all persons”. Ayn Rand is wrong if it can be shown that a *person* exists before birth.

Rand’s next phrase is: “The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).”

Rand is correct. “The living take precedence over the not-yet-living.” However, a living baby is never the “not-yet-living.” It is alive by definition. And Rand is only partially correct when she says, “or the unborn,” if it can be proven that a human always exists after conception within the mother and that a *PERSON* exists after a certain stage of development. Birth, or any change in location, is not the cause of the change from non rights bearing human to rights bearing *person*.

I will NOT parse her words any further at this point. My readers have the tools and perspective to do that. Ayn Rand continues in The Ayn Rand Lexicon:

Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?
end quote

“Who can conceivably have the right to dictate,” Ayn Rand asks? I won’t dictate but I can assert the truth that I am contextually upholding individual human rights. As the reader parses that statement, consider the logical reminder that while A is A, AB is not A, unless entity B is subtracted from the equation.
Part two
Ayn Rand had no public questions about when a *person* exists or other technicalities. She never officially changed her position of when humans possess *rights* which she claimed was immediately after birth. Nor did she ever officially change her stance on the *absolute* right of a woman to have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy. Ayn Rand did classify humans in the womb by age, as in “up to two months,” which is the definition of *embryo*, and she mentions that she is not considering in her formulation a baby living in its last trimester.

As an Objectivist, I am NOT comfortable with the moral (and now legal issue) of *abortion* in the last trimester. Rand showed some evolution in contextual thinking based upon the medical science available at that time, but as I said, she never revised her official position.

In "The Comprachicos," Rand said around 1970:
At birth, a child's mind is tabula rasa; he has the potential of awareness -- the mechanism of a human consciousness -- but no content. Speaking metaphorically, he has a camera with an extremely sensitive unexposed film (his conscious mind), and an extremely complex computer waiting to be programmed (his subconscious). Both are blank. He knows nothing of the external world.
end quote

Science advanced in the late 1970’s and we now know that the Baby is not a blank slate. When a baby is inside its mother's womb, the baby is already in the world. The womb is not a sensory‑deprivation tank. Light and sound enter. The Baby’s neurons are firing after the 24th to 28th week of gestation.

In The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Thomas Verney, M.D., writes
. . . . from the sixth month of intrauterine life (and sometimes even earlier) the unborn child is a feeling, experiencing, remembering being who responds to and is deeply influenced by his environment.
end quote

One case study mentioned in the book cites this example:
A woman plays a cello piece often during her pregnancy; in later life her child knows the score of that piece by heart before he ever plays it.
end quote

In other words if you hum a bit of the melody, the child who frequently experienced that music in the womb can hum the rest of the bar of music FROM MEMORY.

Canadian Objectivist Ellen Moore who once taught courses through the Nathaniel Branden Institute, continued teaching Objectivism into the 1990’s, and who agreed with the official Objectivist stance wrote:
. . . . The thing is, it never occurred to me that knowledgeable Objectivists took literally the idea of "tabula rasa". It is a metaphor, and at the very least an inaccurate simile. The mind is not a "slate", and I know of no evidence that the neurons in the newborn brain are "blank". There is much misunderstanding in taking such a literal approach, and I do not think Objectivism is at fault for causing it. You know, "using common sense" is a good place to start. Identification of the structure and content in the neurons of the newborn brain is a topic for scientific research . . . . I do not think that Rand went beyond the claim of scientific information available as it was in her lifetime.
end quote

Many scientists and obstetricians like Representative Ron Paul agree that after the Baby is conscious, or even before that instant, it is in no way a blank slate and that the issue of when a Baby in the womb is a *person* is settled. This issue is also being addressed by philosophers, Doctor’s colleges, ethics committees and the Courts. What cases should do they consider? Here are some examples.

Case one.
A caesarian section or induced labor is one way to think of delivering a living Baby that mimics a non - lethal abortion procedure. The Baby is born before the end of its gestation period but has the brain wave patterns of a freely born baby and is viable outside the mother’s womb.

The baby, in this case, is universally considered to have “the rights of a person.”

Case two.
Should an aborted, viable baby have “the rights of a person?” Medical Ethicists and an overwhelming number of obstetricians say, yes. Birth is also the deciding factor according to the official Objectivist stance, so the official Objectivist stance is, yes.

The baby, in this second case, is considered to have “the rights of a person,” except by some potential mothers, their sympathizers, and some abortion doctors. As an Independent Objectivist venturing forward with this thinking, I maintain that this is a moral and legal ethics issue different from a religious point of view that asserts a person is created upon conception. And I agree with Official Objectivism, that the aborted but living Baby should have rights.

Part Three
Ayn Rand’s official definition of a woman’s right to an abortion is a side issue of her concept *Man’s Rights*. This side issue was born of the radical sixties and before that, the rise of Feminism, and horror stories of women who had “illegal” back alley abortions. Two biographers “have some evidence” that Ayn Rand had an abortion. This information came from a relative of Miss Rand’s who lives in the United States.

She was friends with Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote the beloved "Little House on the Prairie" children's books, Isabel Paterson, author of “The God of the Machine,” and Edith Efron, author of “The Feminine Mystique. They were all feminists.

Abortion is a unique political and medical issue from that time, because The Christian Religion had banished this medical procedure from polite, legal society, and criminalized the woman and the doctor who performed the abortion. That was a horrible injustice. History can provide a backdrop to what was written and thought at that time. Am I saying this as an excuse or alibi for Ayn Rand’s thinking? No. She arrived at her conclusions using reason. I maintain that on this side issue of abortion, Ayn Rand was at the forefront of progressive reasoning. Roe v Wade was enacted in 1973.

Separation from a place does not change a potential to an actual, nor does remaining in a place change the nature of a being. Rand’s concept of “not-yet-living (or the unborn)” is in error. It is not scientifically valid. A LIVING human being, whatever its stage of development, is living inside the mother, even if it is unborn.

Do Ayn Rand’s statements somehow change the imputation of rights? Is there a change in a child before and after birth, based on the fact that it is beholden upon its mother for life itself? And does this transformation occur because of the thoughts and words that Ayn Rand wrote? No. That would be a logical fallacy. Let us use simple logic.

Let us term “A” stand for the mother and “B” for the baby before brain wave activity similar to that of an adult, commences and B+ as a baby after brain wave activity similar to an adults, commences.

A is A. B is B.AB is not A, unless B is subtracted from the equation.
BA is not B, unless A is subtracted from the equation.
B (residing within the being of A at one day of existence) is still B since location does not change its nature.
B (residing within A, yet viable outside the mother) is B.
B (at the spark of consciousness becomes) B+. It was B but now has the addition of consciousness changing its potential to an actuality.
B+ (residing within A just before birth) is B+
Therefore, B+ (residing outside of A) is B+
It is not Non B nor does it revert back to B.

A baby is always a baby. An unthinking baby has the potential of being a thinking baby. After the development of consciousness a thinking baby is always a thinking baby. So when should rights be conferred? After it becomes separate from its mother’s body? Ayn Rand says “Yes.” I say, “No.” Its nature does not change at birth. How one views a baby as rights bearing (or not) does not change its nature.

Based upon its nature it is always a human being, but before the ignition of that special spark of consciousness, it is still a human, and deserving of all the consideration we give a human, but the human embryo is still not yet a *person*. Neither conception or birth are relevant to the granting of rights.

It’s nature changes it to a *person* when it begins thinking like a person, and not when it is no longer needy and inside the womb. Both a BORN baby and an older child are separate from their mother but still needy. Neediness does not affect the imputation of rights to a thinking child outside the womb, nor should it affect the imputation of rights inside the womb.

This argument is the law in several states and will undoubtedly make it to the Supreme Court making it the law of the land. Roe v. Wade will not be overturned, nor should it be overturned. The battle should be to keep Roe v. Wade as law but with one huge modification. I will let you think about that one modification As disagreeable as you may or may not be, think about it. Discover the right answer through reason not recitation of a forty year old definition. Discover it via a healthy psycho-epistemology. THAT is the Objectivist way.
Part Four
If an Objectivist says, there is an exact time which is implied by definition of "human being", and that is when a baby is born that is scientifically incorrect. A fetus is not a potential human being. It is a human being.
We may be at odds over terminology and a wrinkle in Randian philosophy. Let us clear up one point. When the sperm and egg unite what is *created* is a human being - at that stage of development. A day later it is a one day old human being. There is a continuity of existence from that first unification of human sperm and egg. It never ceases to be a human being, biologically, until death and then it is still a dead human being.
My terminology, which I maintain is more scientific than Rand’s, is that a normal human while it exists in the womb, is always a *potential person,* no matter its state of development. I think that is what we are discussing. When is a baby a *person*? When is a human, a person possessing rights? I see a modification in Ayn Rand’s stance as contextual knowledge was gained during her lifetime modifying the instant that *potential* becomes *rights bearing*.
I have looked and looked for the source of one of my semi quotes but I cannot find it, I must have gotten it from correspondence from another Objectivist. I will repeat it from memory. Briefly, the story goes that a “mature Ayn Rand” was kind of ambushed and asked some quick questions by a big fan, (it may have been Doris Gordon from “Libertarians for Life.” Imagine sitting outside her apartment hour after hour waiting for Ayn Rand to emerge!)
One of the questions asked was does a baby one minute before birth have the rights of a person? And Ayn Rand said yes. The second question was what if a mother who is aborting her baby, and during the procedure, the baby happens to be delivered alive and viable. Does the aborting mother have a right to a dead baby? And Ayn Rand is reported to have said No she does not have that right. I won’t dignify this with quotes but I think it could be true. Regardless of its veracity, if you look at the Lexicon you will see an evolution of thought in Ayn Rand.
Should an aborted baby excised before the end of its gestation period but that has the brain wave patterns of a freely born baby, and is viable outside the mother’s womb have “the rights of a person?” Yes, this is true and this is part of Objectivism.


Should a delivering / aborting doctor have the right to kill the baby? According to the official Objectivist stance of the imputation of rights upon birth, NO. yet some Objectivists say that is NOT the official Objectivist stance.

To reiterate, I maintain that the moment a baby becomes conscious is the moment that it becomes a person. From that first moment onward, sensations and perceptions in and out of the womb are experienced, memories are stored, and a unique BRAIN is in existence within its mother.
THIS NEW PERSON HAS AN IDENTITY THAT WILL REMAIN THE SAME THROUGHOUT ITS LIFE. It’s rights are modified at birth. Its rights that were secondary to its mothers because it was dependent upon her for its existence, now change to equal to the mothers. This normal baby is thinking as evidenced by the brain wave patterns alpha, delta and theta that are also found in thinking adults.
A good measure of Aristotle’s and Rand’s law of identity is that they are based on the facts of reality as we observe them. After consciousness a fetus becomes a *person*. There are things in the universe that a person in the womb cannot know because it is not yet aware of them. For millennia humans did not know about the dark side of the moon. That does not affect my argument. Omniscience is not required of a *person*. Conceptual thinking is not required for a human child to be granted rights.
I agree that a mother’s rights ALWAYS trump the unborn baby’s rights but at some point there is a person on board, and an abortion at that point, without JUST CAUSE would be similar to an airline pilot jettisoning a stowaway.
The official Objectivist stance is over forty years old and many Objectivists maintain that Ayn Rand is dead and so her Philosophy will stay as it is, and not be extended.


I UNDERSTAND THIS POINT, but I must also logically disagree on a technicality. Why has ARI issued a book on induction as an advancement of Objectivism, Ayn Rand’s philosophy? When OPAR was issued some complained that Doctor Peikoff had changed Rand’s thinking, YET, OPAR still stands as Her Philosophy.
This position of official vs unofficial Objectivism is a minor quibble and not what I wish to discuss. I am NOT suggesting big “O” Objectivism as written by Ayn Rand should be edited. I have heard the arguments about calling modern day contextual Objectivism, little o’ism, or Independent objectivism, etc., to reflect the facts as we NOW know them to be. That is the philosophy I am trying to change, not what
Rand
wrote. As more facts are gathered, those can change, though not the axioms.
To suggest that a change can occur within a part of Objectivism is not absurd. I am not saying we change the writings of Ayn Rand. CHANGE NOTHING that she wrote.


I do not want any modern guardian of the Politically Correct to change her fictional or essay writings, editing out smoking, or something else deemed not quite right by today’s standards. Someone, if not Mr Binswanger, editor of “The Ayn Rand Lexicon, will someday create an Objectivist Lexicon based on the Philosophy of Ayn Rand which will modify its stance on abortion and other issues. It will occur. Life marches on. Science marches on. Philosophy marches on. More knowledge is acquired at an ever accelerating rate. Rand is our heritage. She demanded that we think for ourselves.

Accept that a thinking baby inside the womb is a person, because it is. At this point, the situation between the mother and her thinking baby is analogous to the dilemma of Siamese twins when one will die, if they are not separated. If one must be sacrificed, then so be it. However, if the baby can be delivered alive, then that is the objective thing to do.

In conclusion, in the contexts of Ayn Rand’s life at various times, her positions on abortion were *justified* though they were not *true belief* which is what we also call a *fact*. To this day pro-abortion proponents will argue that Consciousness in a baby that has gestated for 28 week is not a valid prerequisite for the imputation of rights; it must be born. I maintain that the moment a baby becomes conscious is the moment that it becomes a person. From that first moment onward, sensations and perceptions in and out of the womb are experienced, memories are stored, and a unique BRAIN is in existence inside its mother.

THIS NEW PERSON HAS AN IDENTITY THAT WILL REMAIN THE SAME THROUGHOUT ITS LIFE. A study of personal identity is not mysterious if you are talking about yourself. And it is still child’s play if we are talking about someone else. To be a bit silly let me posit a case of uncertain identity: “Mom? Is that you? Well, Mom, I can ‘t be sure. What is the password?”

How do we know a person’s identity persists? And how do we re-identify ourselves in the morning after awakening, or another person if we have not seen them since last month? Human beings have the least trouble re-identifying themselves or someone else, yet once again, pro-abortion rights group say there is no rights bearing entity present until after birth.

If it looks like a baby human, and it thinks like a baby human, it is a baby human. If it can be demonstrated that many of the modes of thinking are present at the age of 28 weeks of gestation, that are also present in a mature, conceptually thinking adult, then it obviously is a human person at a younger age.

To reiterate: fMRI’s show that a conscious fetus, sleeps, dreams and can redirect its attention. The fact of personal identity is primary: it is self-evident to you that you exist. You are conscious. You remember. Outside of Science Fiction, personal identity in yourself or others can be demonstrated, through brain wave patterns and physical presence.

Sound is present in the womb and the baby pays attention to the sounds it hears, and remembers them. When my daughter Sarah was born a tray was dropped by a nurse, over to baby Sarah’s left. She instantly turned her head left to look at the source of the sound. The nurse assured me that was normal unless a baby was lethargic from ant-pain shots given to the Mother.

The persistence of consciousness from its inception onwards, is self-evident. It exists at some point and does not cease to exist until death (which could also be complete and irreversible mental loss, though the body lives on.) A conscious baby in the womb is the same conscious baby out of the womb, and it will grow into the same conscious adult: this embodies the Law of Identity.

If we could only speak to Ayn Rand today. What would she change in her philosophy? Would she agree with me? It would be wondrous if Ayn Rand revisited all of her works and within her PRESENT context make her writings *justified* and *true*.

I will say, “Roger Bissell’s theory on the attributes of a human in the womb is true. Good work, Roger!”
Semper cogitans fidele,
Peter Taylor
Semper cogitans fidele,
Independent Objectivist,
Peter Taylor

#7 Selene

Selene

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,184 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Interests:Chess, birding, football, baseball, minimalist backpacking, argumentation and debate, politics and philosophy, strategic board gaming, history, Rand, poetry, writing.

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:55 PM

The easiest quote is still the current quote. Her stance, from the letter “A” in “The Ayn Rand Lexicon”:
Abortion
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).
end quote


Mr. Taylor:

So am I understanding you correctly that there is no Rand quote that says that, "I am modifying my stand on abortion and it is ____________."

Correct?

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#8 Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 2,379 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Land of Sky Blue Water

Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:55 PM

Adam wrote:
So am I understanding you correctly that there is no Rand quote that says that, "I am modifying my stand on abortion and it is ____________." Correct?
end quote

Correct. In fact she NEVER refuted herself as far as I can tell, unless you count her approval and then disapproval of Barbara and Nathaniel Branden, David Kelley, etc., and all those decent people who were condemned, shamed, and shunned. But be an Objectivist and go back to that lexicon definition. Parse it a bit. It is very different from her explicit endorsement of abortion rights.

For the sake of argument let us use Ayn Rand’s statement that rights begin at birth. Is a viable baby delivered by Caesarian Section rights bearing? Rand would say, “Yes.” If personhood begins at separation from the mother, does the miscarriage of a viable infant also count as personhood? Rand would say, “Yes.” The baby lying there is equivalent to a naturally born baby. Its location is only important in the sense that it is no longer inside the mother. Does location change the law of identity? No. I agree with Ayn Rand, that there IS a status change at birth, but the law of identity states that what is, is.

If you disagree imagine this emergency room scenario. Three women are in the emergency room. One woman gives birth “naturally.” One women has a Caesarian Section. One woman has a miscarriage, but in each case the baby is viable. The shift changes and new doctors and nurses enter the ER and observe all three babies in incubators. Would they observe any difference in those baby’s, rights bearing, personhood? Of course not, and Rand would agree. All three are persons.

Let us extend our ER scenario to four viable babies. What if a woman’s intent is to kill her baby by abortion? Does intent change the law of identity? No. If a baby is viable but is separated from its mother by abortion it is still the same as a viably born, naturally delivered baby. It has the same identity as a viably born baby miscarried, or a viable baby born through Caesarian Section. The shift change medical personnel see four babies in incubators and the doctors and nurses all agree that those four babies are all the same: rights bearing individuals, endowed with certain inalienable rights. I think the evidence shows Ayn Rand and true Objectivists agree with this analysis.

The real controversy is with the law. What about a doctor who kills a potentially viable baby before it is separated from the mother? The law in many States has decided those doctors go to jail and even make a case that they should be considered serial or mass murderers.
Peter Taylor
Semper cogitans fidele,
Independent Objectivist,
Peter Taylor

#9 Selene

Selene

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,184 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Interests:Chess, birding, football, baseball, minimalist backpacking, argumentation and debate, politics and philosophy, strategic board gaming, history, Rand, poetry, writing.

Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

For the sake of argument let us use Ayn Rand’s statement that rights begin at birth. Is a viable baby delivered by Caesarian Section rights bearing? Rand would say, “Yes.” If personhood begins at separation from the mother, does the miscarriage of a viable infant also count as personhood? Rand would say, “Yes.” The baby lying there is equivalent to a naturally born baby. Its location is only important in the sense that it is no longer inside the mother. Does location change the law of identity? No. I agree with Ayn Rand, that there IS a status change at birth, but the law of identity states that what is, is.


Therefore, there are two (2) bright lines that you are establishing for rights to exist in the entity inside the womb:

1) separation from the mother's corpus; and
2) viability.

Correct?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#10 Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 2,379 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Land of Sky Blue Water

Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:53 PM

Adam wrote:
Therefore, there are two (2) bright lines that you are establishing for rights to exist in the entity inside the womb: 1) separation from the mother's corpus; and 2) viability. Correct?
end quote

Those are two “bright lines” but your syllogism is confusing to me. The baby is either inside or outside. And I am looking at things historically and contextually, which is even confusing myself. Early Rand would say that only actual human beings (which excludes any babies in the womb) have rights and a woman has an absolute right to determine what happens to her body including whether or not to have an abortion. To early Rand, "viability" was not a proper standard for personhood. Viability AND separation equaled rights for the baby in early Randian philosophy. But science advanced, and now viability equals legal personhood. Does viability now equal Philosophical Truth? I say it does. We now also know a baby in the womb has a consciousness at a certain point, and Rand did not. I maintain that consciousness is also a marker to recognize personhood and rights.

Rather than a refutation of her earlier statements, if she were still alive, we would see a contextual change in her Lexicon. Leonard Peikoff changes the Lexicon as it suits him. I notice he is the author of a lot of the quotes now. He should contextually change her definitions or simply start a new Objectivist Lexicon based on Contextually True Objectivism, and leave The Ayn Rand Lexicon as is.

Is there an exact time implied by the definition of "human being"? Is a baby in the womb a potential human being? That is not scientifically precise. When the sperm and egg unite what is *created* is a human being - at that stage of development. A day later it is a one day old human being. There is a continuity of existence from that first unification of human sperm and egg. It never ceases to biologically be a human until death and then it is a dead human being.
My terminology, is more scientific. A normal human while it exists in the womb, is always a human but it is also a *POTENTIAL PERSON,* no matter its state of development. I think that is what we are discussing. When is a baby a *person*? When is a human a person possessing rights? I see a modification in Ayn Rand’s stance as contextual knowledge was gained during her lifetime modifying the instant that *potential* becomes *rights bearing*, but she never refuted a woman’s right to an abortion.
Should an aborted baby excised before the end of its gestation period but that has the brain wave patterns of a freely born baby, and is viable outside the mother’s womb have “the rights of a person?” Should a delivering / aborting doctor have the right to kill the baby? According to the early Randian stance which MANY MAY STILL THINK is the official Objectivist stance, the answer is ignored (close eyes) or yes. But as I have said that stance is philosophically wrong, and in many states and eventually in all our states that will be considered murder. Birth is the shining line for Rand. But birth is the separation from the mother which can occur in many ways.


I will leave the historical analysis, though I see I am mixing them up. To Philosophically reiterate, I maintain that the moment a baby becomes conscious is the moment that it becomes a person. From that first moment onward, sensations and perceptions in and out of the womb are experienced, memories are stored, and a unique BRAIN is in existence within its mother.
THIS NEW PERSON HAS AN IDENTITY THAT WILL REMAIN THE SAME THROUGHOUT ITS LIFE. It’s rights are modified at birth. Its rights that were secondary to its mothers because it was dependent upon her for its existence, now change to equal to the mothers. This normal baby is thinking as evidenced by the brain wave patterns alpha, delta and theta that are also found in thinking adults.
A good measure of Aristotle’s and Rand’s law of identity is that they are based on the facts of reality as we observe them. After consciousness a fetus becomes a *person*. There are things in the universe that a person in the womb cannot know because it is not yet aware of them. For millennia humans did not know about the dark side of the moon. That does not affect my argument. Omniscience is not required of a *person*. Conceptual thinking is not required for a human child to be granted rights. I agree that a mother’s rights ALWAYS trump the unborn baby’s rights but at some point there is a person on board, and an abortion at that point, without JUST CAUSE would be similar to an airline pilot jettisoning a stowaway.
Historically, I am not saying we change the writings of Ayn Rand. I say CHANGE NOTHING in her writings. I do not want any modern guardian of the Politically Correct to change her writings, editing out smoking, or something else deemed not quite right by today’s standards. Would you want to see a King James Version of Atlas Shrugged? Yet, Rand
is our heritage, and she demanded that we think for ourselves.
I wish someone would contrast historic and modern day Objectivism in a scholarly work. George, Stephen, Peter Reidy, Phil, or anyone as long as they are knowledgeable and sympathetic to Reason and Objectivism.


Semper cogitans fidele,
Peter Taylor

Semper cogitans fidele,
Independent Objectivist,
Peter Taylor

#11 Dennis Hardin

Dennis Hardin

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 1,494 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:San Pedro, California
  • Interests:Philosophy, psychology (Ph. D., licensed therapist)

Posted 13 February 2012 - 04:01 PM

You may find this prior post of mine relevant here.

It includes the following quote from Miss Rand:

"Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a 'right to life.' A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable." Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Letter, A Last Survey--Part I ,Vol. IV, No. 2 November-December 1975



#12 Mark

Mark

    $$$$

  • Members
  • 424 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 February 2012 - 05:00 PM

I read the first post of this thread, that’s all. (That’s enough!) Comment:

Take not the words of an oportunistic politician at face value -- and Reagan was a particularly opportunistic politician (e.g. making Bush Sr. his vice presidential running mate) -- especially when the words are addressed to a potential campaign doner.

When in Hollywood Reagan covertly supported communists there even as he denounced them in public -- one day I’ll flesh that out.
 

#13 Reidy

Reidy

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 1,596 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:CA
  • Interests:Architecture, cooking, music, philosophy

Posted 13 February 2012 - 05:12 PM

When I took Branden's basic course in the 60s he made a remark similar to what Dennis quotes in #11. When asked his position on the issue, part of his answer was that you might be able to make a case against late-term abortion (like Rand, he seemed to consider it an open question) but this was "academic" because at the time medicine was unable to perform such procedures.

#14 Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 2,379 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Land of Sky Blue Water

Posted 13 February 2012 - 05:58 PM

Peter Reidy wrote about Nathaniel Branden:
When asked his position on the issue, part of his answer was that you might be able to make a case against late-term abortion (like Rand, he seemed to consider it an open question) but this was "academic" because at the time medicine was unable to perform such procedures.
end quote

Dennis Hardin’s view and quote are similar to that mentioned on the Atlas Society’s web site and That Loyal Opposition’s view is also similar to mine:

From the Atlas Society:
Ayn Rand held that "abortion is a moral right-which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved." ("Of Living Death," The Objectivist, Oct. 1968, 6) In her view opposition to abortion arises from a failure to grasp both the context of rights and the imposition that child-bearing places on women. As she put it: "A piece of protoplasm has no rights-and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable." ("A Last Survey," The Ayn Rand Letter, IV, 2, 3) These conclusions rest on the distinctively Objectivist approach to the relationship between human nature and rights, so to understand Rand's position we must begin with her distinctive view of rights.

. . . . The proper legal status of healthy, second and third trimester fetuses is less clear. In the third trimester a fetus is likely to be viable outside the womb. Concerning the second trimester, one can note that the cognitive processes of a human being are under way, although the fetus still lacks the clear-cut existence as an independent organism that is the key to the rights of infants. Although this is a gray area, this author is of the mind that a woman's right to control the use of her own body can be secured by her choice during the first trimester, and that in such a context, abortion in the second and third trimesters is inappropriate in the case of a healthy pregnancy. In this view the right to abortion not only falls, but may be fairly said to stand, on the issue of a woman's right to abort in the first trimester.
end quote

This is contextual, philosophical evolution at work. Rand states, “. . . the essential issue concerns only the first three months."

For some background and perspective I have included two positions different from Objectivism’s. How do some Libertarians who are fans of Rand differ in their stance on abortion?

The Honorable Ron Paul of Texas in the House of Representatives:
Mr. Speaker, as a medical student, I had not really thought about abortion until I saw a two-pound infant taken from the mother's womb after a hysterectomy and left on a table to die. That experience taught me all I needed to know. The right to life is seamless, extending from the moment of conception, when a new life begins through the grace of God, until old age. Abortion, like infanticide and euthanasia, is murder.

end quote

Doris Gordon is the leader of the group “Libertarians for Life.” She wrote about how she differs from Ayn Rand and Objectivism:
. . . The general principle here and the one that should guide all our chosen actions is that the ends do not justify the means; that is, the initiation of coercion or force is impermissible, whether committed by the individual, the group, or the state. This means that peaceful people have the right to be left alone and go their own way.

. . . The fact that such popular definitions of "personhood" break down in principle leads them to break down in practice. When we try to assign a time at which we "acquire personhood," we find that there are no break-off points. There are no nice points in human life at which we can see that we have characters A, B, and C afterward, but lacked them before. (Unless we limit ourselves to some very arbitrary and superficial descriptions -- usually physical.)

This has led some to believe that the question of what a person is cannot be answered. Yet it is the pro-abortionist's method of answering the question that has broken down. Logically, in attempting to set a time for the "acquisition of personhood," the pro-abortionist has simply begged the question. They have assumed that it happens at some time convenient enough to permit abortions, and then set out to prove this time or that. The failure of the approach only means that we should try to find the definition of the person, the essence of the person, and then see whether it is the sort of thing that is added on or not.
end quote

I like Doris Gordon’s continuity of being idea but I disagree about when there is a relevant point to begin. A lot of implanted fetuses never mature and are lost but we don’t hold a funeral for them. Embryos don’t think. There is no consciousness there. So the point of conception is premature. Thinking must first occur. An embryo is a person when there is somebody home. However, a viable fetus is granted a sort of pre-person status, even if it is not thinking. I know that is a slippery slop toward Ron Paul’s position. It needs some work.
Peter Taylor
Semper cogitans fidele,
Independent Objectivist,
Peter Taylor

#15 Selene

Selene

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,184 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Interests:Chess, birding, football, baseball, minimalist backpacking, argumentation and debate, politics and philosophy, strategic board gaming, history, Rand, poetry, writing.

Posted 13 February 2012 - 06:04 PM


Posted Image
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#16 Michael Stuart Kelly

Michael Stuart Kelly

    $$$$$$

  • Root Admin
  • 20,485 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:16 PM

Rand framed her position incorrectly.

You can make a case for government-protected rights of a human life starting only at birth.

You cannot make a case that a human embryo is merely a "piece of protoplasm" (to use Rand's characterization) and is not a human life.

What else could it be except a human life? You certainly won't get a baby donkey or snake when a human embryo comes to term.

Rand claims that only human beings have rights. OK so far. Then she claims that an embryo is not the same thing as a human being. That's a false premise.

Until that contradiction is settled in O-Land, people are going to keep arguing about it. The weird part is that there is nothing solid to agree with logically in Rand's formulation. Merely her preference, since the logic is flawed. The second premise in the following syllogism is incorrect.

Premise: Only human beings have rights.
Premise: An embryo is a piece of protoplasm and not the same thing as a human being.
Therefore: An embryo has no rights.

Why not throw in a snarl or two about the "vicious nonsense" of those who disagree? Voila. Case settled.

Sort of. The problem is logic doesn't work by snarling. Going on this path you certainly have a philosophical something-or-other, but it is not a well argued philosophical case. It is flawed.

Incidentally, in my formulation, legally, I would restrict government enforcement of right to life to human beings who have been born, and I would assign the responsibility of a human being's right to life from conception to birth to the mother, being that she can call on the government, if need be, to protect the embryo from attack of others--but not call on the government to destroy it. That last would be her legal prerogative and responsibility.

I, also, would not support restricting any teaching about the morality of this one way or the other. If some call it evil, so be it. And if some call it good, so be it.

Cognitively, and in legal terms, it would have to be clear that the mother is destroying a human life if she aborts. A human being in the stage of life between conception and birth, but still a human being. I cannot agree with defining an embryo as a "piece of protoplasm" that is not a human life. That's just an erroneous identification.

Rand knew better, too.

But then again, Rand had an abortion back when having one was a scandal. I suspect this had something to do with her ham-handed nastiness in talking about this topic.

Michael

Know thyself...


#17 Selene

Selene

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,184 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Interests:Chess, birding, football, baseball, minimalist backpacking, argumentation and debate, politics and philosophy, strategic board gaming, history, Rand, poetry, writing.

Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:28 PM

Well put maestro.

I would add that there is also an interest, property interest(?), of the person who impregnated the egg.

My example in prior arguments has been that if both mother and father had a contract where they agreed that:

1) they both wanted to have a child and raise a child; and
2) they both agreed that the pregnancy could only be aborted if the life of the mother was at risk.

Then that would be an enforceable contract and no abortion could be performed unless the mother's life was in danger.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#18 Brant Gaede

Brant Gaede

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 16,036 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tucson, AZ
  • Interests:All kinds of stuff

Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:34 PM

Has it actually been established that Rand had an abortion?

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#19 BaalChatzaf

BaalChatzaf

    $$$$$$

  • Members
  • 11,487 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Currently residing in New Jersey, the Bad-a-Bing State.
  • Interests:mathematics, physics, alternative energy sources.

    I am also involved in preparing recorded books for blind and dyslexic folks.

Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:35 PM


Then that would be an enforceable contract and no abortion could be performed unless the mother's life was in danger.

Adam


And who shall judge the danger or the risk. If there is the least danger in going to term then the mother should have the final say since it is her life that is on the line, not daddy's. Once daddy has shot his wad, he is in no danger.

Ba'al Chatzaf
אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#20 Michael Stuart Kelly

Michael Stuart Kelly

    $$$$$$

  • Root Admin
  • 20,485 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 February 2012 - 08:45 PM

Has it actually been established that Rand had an abortion?

Brant,

I think it's in the Heller book.

Michael


EDIT: See here in The New Individualist:

TNI: One of your most noted revelations in the book was that Ayn Rand probably had an abortion when she was in her twenties. Can summarize the evidence that lead you to this conclusion?

Heller: Marna Wolf, Frank O’Connor’s niece who was not yet a teenager in the 1930s, was the first person to mention that Rand had had an abortion in that decade; she recalled it as a sidelight while describing her father A.M. Papurt’s relationship with Rand and Frank. Papurt, Frank’s brother-in-law, had loaned Frank the money to pay for the abortion. As with almost every assertion in the book, I checked this with multiple sources. Mimi Sutton, Marna’s sister, who was old enough to remember both the loan and abortion, independently described the event in a taped interview from 1983. Connie Papurt, whom I interviewed, recalled hearing the story from her mother, Frank’s sister. When I asked Barbara Branden about it, she told me that Rand had mentioned the abortion to her, in an intimate setting; that's when I decided to put it in the book.

For the record, I did not print unsubstantiated gossip. If only one source—particularly one who hadn’t already proved reliable—told me something that was out of the ordinary, I didn’t print it.

Incidentally, Barbara discussed this with me, too.

Know thyself...





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users