Michael Stuart Kelly

LOL... Virginia Governor Northam had a Train Wreck Week

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2 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

The question of abortion is complex because the thing growing inside a woman undergoes a number of developmental changes, from zygote to blastocyst to a collection of distinct items including the placenta, amniotic sac, and embryo. The embryo further develops into the fetus and the fetus undergoes a number of changes including development of the ability to feel pain.

Darrell,

It seems like I'm picking on you, but I'm not. You just raise the important questions.

(And for the record, I like you. :) )

Regarding the quote above, I don't think the issue is complex at all because "the thing growing inside a woman" is human.

I vehemently disagree with anyone who claims it isn't human.

All of the changes you mentioned were changes to a human.

Michael

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On 2/2/2019 at 11:32 AM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Dennis,

I don't even know what that means.

How and why do you resuscitate (Northam's word) a newborn that "isn't viable"? Just so you can make it comfortable and kill it?

That's fucked up, pure and simple.

I'm not giving him a pass of reasonableness.

Michael

Mercy killing. Medical decision. Euthenasia. Murder. Redrum. "Here's Johnny!" (That link goes back in time.) 

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23 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Darrell,

This kind of formulation is what I call deducing reality from principles. Reality is what it is, not what it should be by logically extending a principle.

And the reality is humans have lived in governmental organizations since prehistory. Having leaders is built into the human brain. We come that way.

How anyone wants to call that, or ignore it, will not change that reality.

In my view, both rights and sovereignty are later, more higher-level concepts and, to be frank, both are necessary for human society to work. To argue by analogy, it's like saying the heart comes before the lungs in a human body. Or vice-versa. The reality is you need both. Remove on or remove the other and the body dies.

Tell that to the guys with the guns.

In an imaginary world, such a country has no legitimacy. In the world we live in, it does.

I can project a future where such a country would no longer have legitimacy and fight for that, but I have stopped looking at present-day reality and lying to myself by claiming it doesn't.

It does.

And that fact doesn't depend on me liking it.

Michael

Michael,

I'm not sure what to make of your argument.

Might makes right?

Quote

And the reality is humans have lived in governmental organizations since prehistory. Having leaders is built into the human brain. We come that way.

How anyone wants to call that, or ignore it, will not change that reality.

So? Were not talking about the way things are. We're talking about the way things should be. We're talking about morality, about ethics, about rights.

Your original argument is that a woman should have sovereignty over her own body. Obviously, whether she does or not is a matter to be decided by other members of society. If she lives in a kingdom, then the king has sovereignty. Don't believe it? Try crossing him. In a democratic republic, the voters and their elected representatives have sovereignty. If they decide a woman should be punished for her actions, then she doesn't have much choice in the matter. She is not sovereign. They are.

The same argument applies to the country of Somalia. If the U.S. or some European power decided to take over Somalia, there isn't much that the Somalian government, army, or people could do about it. They just don't have the force of arms to prevent a first world country from conquering their country. So, the U.S. could make itself sovereign over Somalia and their isn't much Somalia could do about it. 

The question is not about whether Somalia's government is sovereign, but whether the U.S. should invade or not. If the government of Somalia were protecting the individual rights of the Somalian citizens, then the U.S., as a rights-respecting country should not conquer Somalia. If the government of Somalia were not protecting individual rights, then the U.S. must decide whether it would be in our interests to invade. If not, then we still should not invade, but for different reasons.

Believe me, I am very sensitive to the issue of "deriving reality from principles." If you think I'm doing that, then you're perfectly justified in calling me out, but I don't think that's what I'm doing here.

In the case of abortion, both the question of sovereignty and the question of the rights of the fetus are within realm of what can be adjudicated by a court of law. Women might have late term abortions in defiance of the law, but the police are perfectly capable of ticketing or arresting them and their doctors if their actions violate the law. It might be impossible to prevent such abortions, but it is also impossible, as a practical matter, to prevent most crimes. Most murders, rapes, and robberies are punished after the fact. Sometimes, they are prevented, but justice is usually retributory. A woman only has sovereignty over her body if that is allowed as a principle of law.

Darrell

 

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On 2/6/2019 at 3:35 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Darrell,

To continue, look at the quote you provided from Rand. She laid down the law and spoke with absolute certainty.

Now let's put that into reality.

We can start by asking what would happen if a country's founding documents affirmed, say, that all rights come from God? Is that government illegitimate? Is it an outlaw? That happens to be the USA.

And if it is illegitimate, when does it become legitimate, become sovereign?

Or what can we do? Pretend that the US was not legitimate until Rand came along? Because, don't forget, the only thing granting her the power to issue her decrees of who has rights and who does not, which countries have sovereignty and which do not, is her own tone of certainty. That's all. If nobody ever listened to her, would it matter to anyone out in the real world that she thought this one was illegitimate and that one not? 

. . .

And I say all this as someone who supports Rand's ideology.

Michael

Michael, 

You raise an interesting question and it is one with which I have struggled. I've come up with a few different tests for determining whether a government is legitimate, though none is totally satisfactory.

The first test is to ask whether a rational person would be willing to live in a particular country given it's governmental system or not.

Of course, that can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. One way would be to demand that country be an ideal Objectivist utopia. Unfortunately, I see a lot of Objectivists who seem to think that way. Among other things, I don't think an Objectivist utopia is possible.

Another way of interpreting the test is to look at it from the standpoint of the existing alternatives. In other words, one must choose from the existing possibilities. In such a scenario, a rational person might be willing to live in a country in which there are significant rights violations if that country were better than all of the other choices available.

The problem with the second interpretation is that it turns the question into an optimization problem. If one country is slightly better than the rest, then logically, everyone would move to that country. That seems unreasonable. By the same token, if all of the countries in the world were horrible despotic regimes, the rational person would just choose the least bad option, move there, and consider it an acceptable choice since it would be the best choice. There would never be a call for revolution even if all countries were despotic regimes.

I've also looked at the question from the standpoint of what a good government would look like. If a bunch of people moved to a previously unoccupied area and created a new country, what basic framework would they agree to? That is a complex question, but it is clear with a little consideration that such a country would have to have a government that was sufficiently flexible to handle a great many unforeseen problems. As such, it would probably have to be some form of republic or representative democracy with various branches and other devices designed to prevent it from turning into a despotic regime. In other words, it would have to be similar to the government of the United States or some European country.

Given such considerations, so long as the government continued to function mostly as designed by allowing people to vote on their representatives and so long as there were strong protections for property, liberty, and other rights, it would seem to be a reasonable choice even if there were some significant rights violations.

As I stated in my other post, it isn't just a question of what is. It is a question of what should be. So, it becomes a question of whether a reasonably constructed government of a mostly free country should liberate another country from its government or not. It is hard to produce cut and dried answers to such difficult questions, but it is often obvious when a country is despotic or when it does a reasonable job of protecting individual rights, even if the latter category doesn't measure up to utopian standards.

Darrell

 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Darrell,

It seems like I'm picking on you, but I'm not. You just raise the important questions.

(And for the record, I like you. :) )

Regarding the quote above, I don't think the issue is complex at all because "the thing growing inside a woman" is human.

I vehemently disagree with anyone who claims it isn't human.

All of the changes you mentioned were changes to a human.

Michael

Michael,

I agree completely that the "thing" is human. I just have a hard time with nomenclature because there are so many names for the unborn including zygote, blastocyst, embryo and fetus.

The question is not whether the thing is human. The question is whether it is sufficiently well developed to merit some form of protection by the state.

Darrell

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On 2/5/2019 at 9:54 AM, 9thdoctor said:

This leaves the SJW crowd with something like a Sophie's Choice in reverse.

Now that both 1st and 2nd in line are tainted, the occupant of 3rd place, the Speaker of the House, who is a Republican, is being thrust into the spotlight.  His name is Kirk Cox, and he came to office after beating John Dicks. 

This remake of Sophie's Choice is going to be a slasher movie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirk_Cox

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5 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

The question is whether it is sufficiently well developed to merit some form of protection by the state.

Darrell,

This is my entire point.

The state does not exist inside a person's body.

If it does, then it does for everything, not just for a degree of development. 

Does a person who is severely mentally impaired have a right to life? That person is outside the womb, but certainly at such an extremely low stage of development, some folks would not even call the person human. What's worse, this person will likely not grow out of it. But even in that case, the right to life is protected by the state.

The same standard will exist one way or other if we grant ingress of the state to the innards of human bodies.

Thus my formulation of separate sovereignty.

btw - Maybe to you "the question is not whether the thing is human," but it certainly is the question with people who defend abortion. They claim it is not human, but merely a piece of protoplasm. Even Rand made that argument and I can get you a quote if you like.

Michael

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5 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

As I stated in my other post, it isn't just a question of what is. It is a question of what should be.

Darrell,

It is a question of what is before it can ever be a question of what should be.

Either we start from reality or we go full on Disneyland.

You don't argue an issue very satisfactorily by dismissing it and saying that's not the question. That's actually sidestepping the question.

Michael

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5 hours ago, Darrell Hougen said:

If a bunch of people moved to a previously unoccupied area and created a new country, what basic framework would they agree to?

Darrell,

This actually brings up a thought experiment I have conducted in arguments before. Suppose we take a few hundred of the most hardened criminals from a prison, take them to a tropical island and tell them they are now free, including free to set up their own government. What do you think will be there when we come back in a year? As you ask, "what basic framework would they agree to?"

:) 

Does gang warfare do it for ya'? And about a minority of the population left over after the others were murdered?

:) 

This leads me to something Glenn Beck once said that exploded in my mind (back before Beck became an Old Testament prophet :) ).

He said that freedom can only persist where people want to be good.

That is 100% true.

Why? Because human nature does not admit otherwise. And since that is human nature, I believe any formulation of government has to emerge from human nature, not be imposed on it in an attempt to stamp out the bad in human nature. What's more, I don't believe this in just moral terms, I believe this already exists and cannot be otherwise.

When people have tried to impose government on human nature, generally mass murder has resulted.

So, in my view, if philosophy is to be a shaping force in human society, before it deals with power over others, it must deal with a person's power over himself. The last must be the foundation of the first or it doesn't work.

Too many times, I see the wish to be good ignored from formulations of which government is legitimate, which is not, and so on.

In practical terms, a government is legitimate if it can survive. Starting from there, one can then talk about which ones do one thing and which do another morality-wise. Then one states a preference--which can become so heated war erupts. 

But, as a starting point, calling, say, the Russian government or an Islamic government illegitimate when it is there, has been there for a long time and will still be there for God knows how long, is a form of sophistry, not philosophy at any serious level. Hell, even the Nazi government in Germany was legitimate. It was evil, but legitimate.

One cannot eliminate what exists with the wave of a hand and the issuance of a syllogism.

Michael

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Rights are or should be protected by government by force (of law).

Rights are what people use. If they are incapable because of age or disability then there are rights they cannot use but that doesn't mean their rights are morally or legally to be violated.

Rights appertain to human social existence and are a philosophical creation based on human nature.

The quest for practical perfection through ideological thinking will run into a brick wall every time. Utopianism is contra human nature so don't seek it in government. Merely seek more freedom using the moral ideal as a City on a Hill.

Government is--and is there to be fought--always. Fought and harnessed and kept in its necessary place. It will keep breaking free, albeit not in the ironical name of freedom.

--Brant

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Nazi Germany was legally legitimate and a moral abomination or morally illegitimate. Hence the statement that it was legitimate as such is a contradiction. As such it was illegitimate.

--Brant

if you take morality out of Objectivism there is nothing left to speak of except a denuded libertarianism without even effective championing of rights

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13 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

The quest for practical perfection through ideological thinking will run into a brick wall every time. Utopianism is contra human nature so don't seek it in government. Merely seek more freedom using the moral ideal as a City on a Hill.

Brant,

This is a different form of what I am saying.

And it all boils down to two different views of mankind:

1. Those who think humans are perfectible according to some model or other, and
2. Those who think humans are not perfectible and never will be.

The contradictions inherent in the "humans are perfectible" model are so great, its breathtaking how people miss them--how the human mind evolved the capacity to be fooled by a good story to miss them.

For instance, if humans are imperfect right now, how can they design a model of human perfection? How do they even know what that is from their perspective of imperfection? The one who designs the model is imperfect by observation and definition.

Yet, like the Sirens calling Ulysses, this vision of perfection drives people crazy and they jump overboard to shatter themselves on the shoals trying to to get to it. They shatter their ships, too. They have done this throughout history, but it got especially bad with communism.

And their model of perfection designer? What do people do about that person's imperfections? They make up a story and deify the person. That is, until they all shatter.

Rand heard this call of the Sirens and jumped overboard, too. Moral perfection is one of the parts of Objectivism I no longer accept. I don't think I ever did. Fundies will say I am trying to make a half-assed excuse for my own pathetic soul, but my problem has always been the contradictions.

How can I aspire to something that is improperly identified?

Take it on faith?

And when we move this vision to power over others (government), what do you do when those little human suckers refuse to cooperate, refuse to become perfect, insist on doing things their way? The obvious solution always triumphs in the end because reality always triumphs no matter what a visionary says to the contrary. When reality triumphs over quests for utopia, some form of eugenics emerges. The frustrated social and human nature engineers always end up sanctioning murder--just kill the goddam imperfect bastards off. Then those all-wise self-appointed perfection lords and masters turn the executions over to people who don't mind doing it, or even like it. 

And they don't even see that an executioner of innocent people can never be perfect under any model of perfection. So the ones executing will ultimately have to be executed, too. But who will do it? Only the imperfect, who will ultimately need to be executed. Talk about a contradiction...

My point is that government is and should be for humans as they exist, not for humans in some form of future perfected model. That means, no matter how rigid the principles are underlying any social system, there has to be flexibility built in to deal with human imperfections.

Even something as simple as don't hurt people, at least don't start it. That should be pretty easy, right? Never hurt people if they are not hurting other people. No exceptions.

But if you know a human monster is educating himself and arming himself to the teeth, or manufacturing some dangerous form of gas or poison, it's better to do something about it before he kills gobs of people, even if you have to hurt him first. The problem is you can't turn that into a principle. You have to do it case by case to the best of your common sense ability. And that bothers the shit out of those who have heard the Siren's call and want a static universe.

But if they allow primacy of the Sirens, mass murder will ensue. They don't care when they get the craving to jump, though. They jump anyway. And reality will prevail as it always does.

Michael

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13 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

if you take morality out of Objectivism there is nothing left to speak of except a denuded libertarianism without even effective championing of rights

Brant,

It's more complicated than that.

Tell me this. What rights are infringed with cannibalism? Why is selling human flesh for food immoral? (Or selling aborted fetuses or parts of them for any use at all?)

None of the O-Land rights anyone enumerates or the O-Land moral principles I have read deal with this so long as the human flesh was obtained through voluntary trade and not coercion. (For instance, a person could conceivably trade his own future cadaver to a restaurant for a lump sum of money today.) Yet, cannibalism is considered evil by those in charge of Official Objectivism. They even roasted Diana Hsieh a few years back for bringing the issue up as something to seriously consider.

(Roasted? Dayaamm, I'm sorry... that was unintentional... :) )

So what was the basis of their objection? Essentially it was revulsion. But revulsion is an emotion and emotions are not tools of cognition, right?

Don't get me wrong. I fully support the orthos in this case. Cannibalism is one issue where I am not in favor of moving the Overton Window. 

But this means I hold there is a lot more to human nature than just the rational faculty (or reason), including these other human nature elements applied to morality and rights for that matter. 

By implication, many Objectivists do, too, although many of those would gladly die before admitting it.

Michael

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I have a thought experiment:

The world's largest person and the world's smallest are traveling together and making appearances.

A madman kidnaps them, anesthetizes them, and surgically inserts the small person inside the large person's body (including a means of providing for the small person's survival and body functions: a means to breathe, eat and drink, etc.).

The larger person wakes up and wants to kill the smaller person. Not just surgically have the smaller person removed, but killed.

Does the larger person have that right?

J

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I remember a movie where a group of people were shrunk and placed in a mini submarine and placed in someone's blood stream or was the plot different? Gross thought, anyway Jonathan. Both peoples' rights were violated. It is an emergency situation. Both may / should fight for their life.   

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Perhaps the State of Virginia could be absorbed into the District of Columbia. 

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

It's more complicated than that.

Tell me this. What rights are infringed with cannibalism? Why is selling human flesh for food immoral? (Or selling aborted fetuses or parts of them for any use at all?)

None of the O-Land rights anyone enumerates or the O-Land moral principles I have read deal with this so long as the human flesh was obtained through voluntary trade and not coercion. (For instance, a person could conceivably trade his own future cadaver to a restaurant for a lump sum of money today.) Yet, cannibalism is considered evil by those in charge of Official Objectivism. They even roasted Diana Hsieh a few years back for bringing the issue up as something to seriously consider.

(Roasted? Dayaamm, I'm sorry... that was unintentional... :) )

So what was the basis of their objection? Essentially it was revulsion. But revulsion is an emotion and emotions are not tools of cognition, right?

Don't get me wrong. I fully support the orthos in this case. Cannibalism is one issue where I am not in favor of moving the Overton Window. 

But this means I hold there is a lot more to human nature than just the rational faculty (or reason), including these other human nature elements applied to morality and rights for that matter. 

By implication, many Objectivists do, too, although many of those would gladly die before admitting it.

Michael

Weeeeeeeel--might Yee be seeking  perfection through complication?

--Brant

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1 hour ago, Peter said:

Both peoples' rights were violated. It is an emergency situation. Both may / should fight for their life.   

Uh huh. But that's not what I asked.

The question was, does the larger person have the right to kill the smaller person.

J

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6 hours ago, Jonathan said:

I have a thought experiment:

The world's largest person and the world's smallest are traveling together and making appearances.

A madman kidnaps them, anesthetizes them, and surgically inserts the small person inside the large person's body (including a means of providing for the small person's survival and body functions: a means to breathe, eat and drink, etc.).

The larger person wakes up and wants to kill the smaller person. Not just surgically have the smaller person removed, but killed.

Does the larger person have that right?

J

Is he going to give birth?

--Brant

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23 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Darrell,

This is my entire point.

The state does not exist inside a person's body.

If it does, then it does for everything, not just for a degree of development. 

Does a person who is severely mentally impaired have a right to life? That person is outside the womb, but certainly at such an extremely low stage of development, some folks would not even call the person human. What's worse, this person will likely not grow out of it. But even in that case, the right to life is protected by the state.

The same standard will exist one way or other if we grant ingress of the state to the innards of human bodies.

Thus my formulation of separate sovereignty.

btw - Maybe to you "the question is not whether the thing is human," but it certainly is the question with people who defend abortion. They claim it is not human, but merely a piece of protoplasm. Even Rand made that argument and I can get you a quote if you like.

Michael

Michael,

The state does not exist within a person's body, but a person exists within the dominion of the state.

You could say that a person should have sovereignty over the inside of his or her body. Then it would be seen that the question of sovereignty over ones innards is a question of individual rights. It doesn't precede questions of individual rights.

Personally, I don't see it as a slippery slope. The only time the state would have an interest in the inside of a person is if there were someone else living inside that person.

With regard to the humanness of the fetus, I've heard all kinds of arguments. "It's not human." "It's a parasite." "It's an invader." etc. I've also heard ridiculous arguments on the other side. In response to the idea that a woman has property rights over her body and can withdraw the right for another person to inhabit her body at any time --- an argument with which I disagree --- I've heard the following: "That would be like a person allowing another person to fly on his airplane, withdrawing that right in flight, and pushing the other person out without a parachute." No, it wouldn't be. A fetus is not an individual adult human being.

That's why I have problems with both extreme positions. A late term fetus is not just a little clump of cells and an early term embryo is not the same as an adult human being. A fetus is what it is and our policies should reflect that fact, in my opinion.

Your position is not unreasonable. I just don't happen to agree with it.

Darrell

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Darrell,

It is a question of what is before it can ever be a question of what should be.

Either we start from reality or we go full on Disneyland.

You don't argue an issue very satisfactorily by dismissing it and saying that's not the question. That's actually sidestepping the question.

Michael

Michael,

I'm not trying to side step the question. That's why I spent a few sentences describing what zygote-blastocyst-embryo-fetus is before launching into a discussion of what I think the rights of the woman and zygote-blastocyst-embryo-fetus are.

Darrell

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