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Brant wrote: The fundamental grounding for human rights is human nature. Brains applied to biology. Brains are biological too. Thus ideology is neither first nor second to biology; it's just using your brains.

I agree, (I think . . .  joke) the human brain wave activity signals that an individual human exists, though the viability factor is also involved. What are the rights of an unborn child? At what point do (or should) those rights either morally (or legally) exist in a “free country?” Can a mother be forced or (persuaded) by the State to take care of her unborn child? Should she be obligated to do no harm to the unborn child as in drug taking or poor nutrition that harms the unborn human? There are a lot of gray areas involved and some much darker areas too.   Peter

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“The State” or even "The Deep State" is or should be established to protect individual rights in a free society. And in my opinion, other seemingly free “States” are more overbearing or denying individual rights, as in England. Yet, in a free country I would want a deep state to exist to protect individual rights. But how much surveillance and monitoring is too much? Peter

Notes. Here are the top ten countries (or cities) in the ‘economic freedom’ rankings, as calculated by the Fraser Institute: 1. Hong Kong 2. Singapore 3. New Zealand 4. Switzerland 5. United Arab Emirates 6. Mauritius 7. Jordan 8. Ireland 9. Canada 10. United Kingdom/Chile.

What About America? So, where does the U.S. come in on the Fraser Institute’s rankings? To end the drama, America is number 16 — sandwiched between Taiwan at 15 and Romania at 17. Now, 16 isn’t bad, especially considering that the entire list encapsulates 157 total countries. And the U.S. is still clearly in the ‘most free’ strata of the rankings, which includes the top 40 nations. But what is worrisome is that when you take the ranking of 16 into historical context, the U.S. seems headed in the wrong direction. In 2000, America ranked number two, and the biggest drops in America’s scores have occurred during the years since 2010.

“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world, a steep fall from second place in the world rankings in 2000,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom with the Fraser Institute, in a press release. “A weakened rule of law, the so-called wars on terrorism and drugs, and a confused regulatory environment have helped erode economic freedom in the United States, which has now fallen behind more economically free countries such as Qatar, Jordan and the U.A.E..” McMahon said.

Since 2000 the U.S. has experienced a couple of huge events — 9/11 and the financial crisis — that caused some government clampdown. America’s descending down the list, starting in 2010, definitely had something to do with regulators pushing back after the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. The risk of individuals and organizations abusing the system which was in part the cause of the global economic meltdown, comes along with the benefits of more economic freedom . . . .

Closed Circuit surveillance and spying? From CCTV UK: In London there is 1 CCTV Camera for every 14 people, meaning there are now 627,707 CCTV Cameras in London (2019) How we came to calculate how many CCTV cameras are in London in 2019. London is one of the most heavily surveilled cities on earth with some of the most surveillance cameras per head of population in the developed world.

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

The fundamental grounding for human rights is human nature. Brains applied to biology. Brains are biological too. Thus ideology is neither first nor second to biology; it's just using your brains.

An unborn baby has no right to life according to Objectivism. I think that's much too severe. But Rand came out of Jewish culture which seems to be much more amenable than Christian to abortion. If she had an abortion herself in the 1930s, her stance may be that of obviating guilt. In any case she resorted to simplicity and abortion is beyond simplicity.

Brant,

This is essentially the way I see it.

Michael

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On 11/25/2019 at 5:35 PM, Brant Gaede said:

I think we need to differentiate between philosophy and ideology. Everybody has a philosophy. We can even say a culture has a philosophy. It's likely a mess full of contradictions. Then we bring in ideology and the real fun begins.

--Brant

a philosophy is the operating software of volitional human consciousness

Human life begins with sentience (measurable by brain activity). Sensations experienced in utero, if only touch, warmth, vibrations at first, are the start and signs of man's independent cognition. Before the unborn is at the point of feeling sensation - and at the point medical care is capable of its sustainable parturition - there - should be the cut-off point for legal abortion .

Using Rand's terms, I say it's clear a fetus past this stage is "an actuality" - no longer a potential. Possibly why she was hesitant to consider the morality of late term abortion ("the essential issue concerns only the first three months...") and only mentions the "embryo". And her "a human being's life begins at birth" is wrong or badly informed. Why birth? When we know how arbitrary or voluntary the moment of birth can be? Give or take hours or days. Awareness of its surroundings evidently begins earlier, and surely Rand would agree that that first awareness of reality by a mind is what counts.

Biological facts (like any facts) can't ever be separated from their objective value-importance, in a rational ethics.

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Human life begins at conception. This has nothing to do, however, with rights' theory. Attach a right to life to it and it's religious dogma or faith.

Human life beginning with brain activity is yet up in the air respecting theory.

--Brant

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

Human life begins at conception. This has nothing to do, however, with rights' theory. Attach a right to life to it and it's religious dogma or faith.

Human life beginning with brain activity is yet up in the air respecting theory.

--Brant

If at conception, then taking "the morning after" pill is (possibly)to commit murder?

I argue that the right to life (her freedom to act; individual rights) stays with the mother. Until her unborn is an actual, biological, pre-cognitive human who can live apart from her. 

I think that serves precisely to avoid dogma and faith, either from "an embryo with built-in soul" intrinsicists or "I can do what I feel like and when I want", subjectivists.

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There was a fad once (in the 80's?) where it was recommended that a "soon to be mother" play classical music which was detected by the infant inside. I think sonograms showed the infants scratching their ears if the music was too loud. I would not recommend it. Stay normal, because that has worked for a million years. And no bongo music either. 

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3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Human life begins at conception. This has nothing to do, however, with rights' theory. Attach a right to life to it and it's religious dogma or faith.

Human life beginning with brain activity is yet up in the air respecting theory.

--Brant

At conception, I agree. Trace you back and you have to stop at conception. But that doesn’t mean rights obtain that early, also agree.

I’m not persuaded by the brain activity argument: reason sets us apart, makes us “human,” therefore rights begin when this organ that will eventually do reason starts to fire its neurons. I’m not persuaded by that. To me it is a mistake to lean on what sets us apart from animals in this very different question of when one of us obtains rights.

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Who grants individual rights? 

Who granted yours?

Who granted mine?

In fact, who owns individual rights in order to be able to grant them?

These are the questions that bounce around in my head when talking about the unborn.

Michael

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4 hours ago, anthony said:

If at conception, then taking "the morning after" pill is (possibly)to commit murder?

Anthony,

I don't like the word murder for this context since crime comes loaded into it.

A morning after pill definitely kills the unborn human being in his or her earliest stage of life.

So the right word for me--for correct identification--is killing.

Michael

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26 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Who grants individual rights? 

Who granted yours?

Who granted mine?

In fact, who owns individual rights in order to be able to grant them?

These are the questions that bounce around in my head when talking about the unborn.

Michael

I had the same thoughts reading through the conversation. Those and thoughts of how rights are violated and also how and by who are they protected.

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5 hours ago, Jon Letendre said:

At conception, I agree. Trace you back and you have to stop at conception. But that doesn’t mean rights obtain that early, also agree.

I’m not persuaded by the brain activity argument: reason sets us apart, makes us “human,” therefore rights begin when this organ that will eventually do reason starts to fire its neurons. I’m not persuaded by that. To me it is a mistake to lean on what sets us apart from animals in this very different question of when one of us obtains rights.

Life precedes and is the precondition for rights. Properly, you know, individual rights protect one's right to life, the freedom of action one needs. First, the mother's. That is inarguable. Then the fetus. "When" IS the burning question. When else but when the fetus has achieved that basic consciously-aware growth stage, when it has become de facto human life not only biological human - and is "man"? Here and then, one would think he/she should have the right to future freedom of action.

(Not of course that it can 'act' freely - neither can an infant for several years - "action" for that period is more metaphysical-biological than volitional).

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19 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Who grants individual rights? 

Who granted yours?

Who granted mine?

In fact, who owns individual rights in order to be able to grant them?

These are the questions that bounce around in my head when talking about the unborn.

Michael

Nobody.

They are a human political-philosophical invention.

But not arbitrary.

You use rights by moral-ethical right. That is, you are not initiating force against another person or persons.

True, this has to be put into law and properly maintained therein.

--Brant

Rand's definition is still operative though it may need improving

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Is abortion an initiation of force against another human being?

Man's freedom of action in a social context can only be violated by the initiation of force. Do the unborn lacking the social context get dehumanized  through logic and semantics?

Forcing a woman to have an abortion is hands down a violation of her rights. Forcing a woman not to have an abortion . . . .

My old position from 30 years ago is still my position: the unborn not able to survive outside of the mothers's womb is part of her body--part of her-- and she is free to do as she wants. Brain waves (socially) don't count.

--Brant

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12 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

... the unborn not able to survive outside of the mothers's womb...

Brant,

That means all the unborn. Not just some of them.

Hell, newborns certainly can't survive outside the mother's body. They need help. They can't even get food or water unless someone gives it to them. If their own action is the standard, they had it better and more survivable inside the mother's body.

Anyway, I think this is a sore spot in O-Land because no proposition about abortion fits into a square box with a bow on it, yet part of the appeal of Objectivism is that Rand identified all fundamental questions (including the oughts) that the wisdom of the ages missed--and she communicated it in an easily understood manner. But with abortion, you have a fundamental issue Rand did not cover very well. Boom boom boom. Super-clash.

This thing causes massive cognitive dissonance. Even people who say they are 100% convinced of Rand's view on abortion always go on and on and on and on and on and on about it when it comes up. The damn thing just won't let them alone. I never hear people go on like that about existence exists. :) 

As a related tangent, here's another point that is rarely discussed in O-Land, and it is usually dismissed when brought up. But it's true, it's deadly, and those who ignore it play with existential fire. It starts with a question. When people are encouraged to not have families and use abortion as a means of contraception, what happens to those people over time? The answer is just common sense. They don't reproduce and their numbers diminish until their group becomes extinct. 

Cultures that encourage reproduction and raising kids eventually become the power culture. For example, many climate change-focused millennials are refusing to have kids because they believe they will bring their babies into a world that will destroy their kids in the long drawn-out torture of a planet sliding into uninhabitability . Muslims, on the other hand, are family-oriented like all get out and humping and reproducing like rabbits. 

Who gets to vote when this generation grows into adulthood? The unborn or the born?

It's kinda duh... one has to be alive to be able to vote. This goes for entire generations.

The Shakers no longer exist because they thought sex was sinful and they died off. The millennials, in their "OK Boomer" wisdom, figured that one out and know for certain that sex is not sinful. Instead, reproduction is. It's funny how I see the ghosts of the Shakers shaking it up and laughing their asses off at that. :) 

So, it's a possibility that the manmade climate change issue could go away simply because those who believe in it get old and die off while the topic of climate change becomes under the exclusive province of Allah. All it takes is a generation or two.

And what was the philosophical principle involved? Individual rights? Hell, does it even have anything to do with climate or science? Think about it.

That's oversimplified, but the underlying principles are not. And one of the main principles is that a species or a culture whose individual members do not reproduce eventually withers away. This also applies to the Objectivist subculture. To quote Rand (from her essay, "The Objectivist Ethics"):

Quote

If he [man] chooses irrational values, he switches his emotional mechanism from the role of his guardian to the role of his destroyer. The irrational is the impossible; it is that which contradicts the facts of reality; facts cannot be altered by a wish, but they can destroy the wisher.

Granted, the context of that quote is emotions, but how can one fight for a better world when one ignores a basic truth of existence, thus helps--by default--the future world become inhabited by generations of folks devoted to other forms of thought? Objectivism deserves more that a Darwin award in the end.

And that means integrating into the philosophy the fact that biology is fundamental, including the parts that exist, but didn't fit before. That does not mean other things like reason are to be ignored. After all, to make an easy false either-or dichotomy, what is more critical to the life of a human being, the heart or the upper brain? Which one can you remove and still have a human being?

Well, you can have a living human vegetable without an upper brain, but whose heart pumps. You cannot have a living upper brain without a heart pumping.

Ditto for another context. What is more important to human civilization, reason or reproduction? And obvious answer is that if humans do not reproduce, who is going to use reason when the older generation dies off? 

Living things, whether individuals or groups, ignore biology at their own peril. Their ignorance, for whatever reason, will not alter the facts of reality, but persisting in such ignoring can destroy everything they work for.

Michael

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One other comment.

I do not check this premise in order to say Rand was wrong.

And I do not check it in a half-assed manner just to say I checked it.

I check it hard because something is not working and I want to see it fixed.

Rand informed my worldview for at least half a century--that ain't going anywhere.

And that makes me more than qualified to poke around in this sore to see what can be done.

Michael

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On 11/27/2019 at 3:33 PM, tmj said:

I had the same thoughts reading through the conversation. Those and thoughts of how rights are violated and also how and by who are they protected.

T,

Your comment is a good indication that this entire topic needs addressing in a way it hasn't been up to now.

How many people think like you (and me) but don't speak up? And how many others go off into morality agnosticism (including many strains of libertarianism) just because this premise check is constantly brushed aside through reams of verbiage?

Just keeping people quiet with long-winded declarations or intimidation does not convince them. They may shut up to avoid the hassle, but they eventually seek answers elsewhere.

Michael

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What else is irrationality but ignoring and contravening reality? What one *knows*? Here's a mature fetus which has visibly expanding physical presence (anyone can see) moves and responds (the mother knows) has brain activity (her fetologist-doctor scans and knows) -- but somehow is not autonomous, actual, human life? Until that magical moment of birth ... somehow. Well, why the actual, natural, birth? Everybody knows by now that a birth date and time is often flexible, by necessity or choice. Is it because the baby has detached/emerged in one's plain view for the first time? That's primitive dogma. (i.e. an entity does not exist until it can be seen and touched in the flesh). And as if the fetus' environment, inside/outside, is the deciding factor of its status. 

By those criteria and the identity of life itself, the mother and doctor who evasively leave things to the last moment to perform a last-minute abortion, without due cause ( i.e. medical emergency) are objectively irrational and immoral. Not to add the barbarity of the procedure, which is on record from doctors themselves. 

Acting against the pregnant woman's rights - and illegalizing such procedures - is harder to answer (and implement).

But look at it this way: A minute after birth, a baby's rights are protected; to kill him would be criminal. A day before, is euphemistically, "late-term abortion", and laudable. How much did he change in that time to merit his right to life?

At least the medic should be struck off for unethical behavior.

Abortion rights are consolidated in the West, and a very good thing. In a once socially repressive country I saw and heard of the shame and misery when girls and young women had little choice or recourse - such as, not often recalled from those ignorant times in pro-abortion debates, submitting themselves to arranged, shotgun marriages and certain unhappiness for her and him; apart from risking their bodies with underground abortionists. What she does with her body, mistakes included, should not be open to public judgment. So the subject would be redundant for me if not for those horrible bureaucrats and other (mostly) men who - get this - have been pushing for late-term abortion. No reason. Just because, um, "we can". Notice the pandering of male politicians displaying their hardcore-feminist sympathies. Even leftist women in the great majority, are too sensible of the value and responsibility of carrying and giving birth to actively follow them in practice. Very, very few actually need and do it. (Going by stats). I am more incensed by ARI writers who, by some twisting of her statements on rights and when life begins, try to conclude Rand would have positively approved of all abortion including late-term, therefore advocating irrational behavior under the authority of Objectivism. AND - one writer encourages, the woman should self-aggrandizingly join the Shout Out Your Abortion group of activists. Suspect that, how often where there's a Leftist cause, ARI is close behind.

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30 minutes ago, anthony said:

What she does with her body, mistakes included, should not be open to others' view.

Tony,

That sounds perfect with my idea of a woman's sovereignty over her body--a sovereignty that preempts the state's sovereignty over her as a citizen. (If this is difficult to imagine, think of the Indian reservation structure of a separate sovereignty under the same governing organization as the rest of the country for a legal precedent.)

On the rights level, the morality of abortion is a far more dicey proposition as all these discussions prove.

Michael

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19 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

Saying "biology is fundamental" is saying "man qua man" isn't?

--Brant

Did someone mention axioms? Some more off topic old, deep thoughts. The basics. One. The nature of an unthinking human embryo endows it with more importance than any other life form and if it is to be aborted at any time, I think the abortion should be given the utmost consideration. After fertilization the new human embryo should be given more consideration than inanimate matter and more consideration than all other creatures in the vast, animal kingdom, though a family pet is also considered as a “lesser” family member, to most owners. But to use the term, “owner” also means the pet is property.

Two. Being a socially, living lifeform, our DNA and body structures, endows some rights, but it is our thinking brains that exemplify completed and full rights in a normal human society. Mentally defective humans are considered humans just as babies who “barely think” are humans. But neither is given the right to drive a car or vote. We place humans at all stages of their lives on a sliding scale of value and rights.

Saying that only a “separately living” conscious, conceptually thinking adult can ever be considered as possessing rights, is short sighted. The position that ONLY a mother has rights in the unique situation of pregnancy means that a “FETUS” can be killed one second before it is born naturally without any recourse to the law. I think this position is inconsistent with a stand on contextual knowledge and truth, inconsistent with even a naïve morality and not tenable under Objectivist ethics. Yet there the "Off with their heads!" appendage sits to this day, attached to Objectivist Politics and Ethics, as Tony mentioned. Peter

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

That sounds perfect with my idea of a woman's sovereignty over her body--a sovereignty that preempts the state's sovereignty over her as a citizen. (If this is difficult to imagine, think of the Indian reservation structure of a separate sovereignty under the same governing organization as the rest of the country for a legal precedent.)

On the rights level, the morality of abortion is a far more dicey proposition as all these discussions prove.

Michael

Yes, this is tricky, Michael. But by comparison, how much can a clearly, physically abusive mother hold sovereignty over her children? You gotta oppose on principle state interference and social workers entering her and their lives, but only libertarians ( I think) will maintain that she may do whatever she wants with her child, nobody's business.

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