Reproduction and the Objectivist Ethics


Leif Martyn

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Hello - I'd like to know if anyone attended Greg Salmieri's talk at OCON 2022 on this topic? If so, to what degree of detail did he discuss this?

Here's the brief description from Objectivist Media:

logo-a2892f6dae4c94108a0891a8c17b0991ff6
OBJECTIVISTMEDIA.COM

The Objectivist ethics is grounded in the nature of life. Spanning meta-ethics to politics, this talk surveys the implications for this ethics of an...

I suppose this question / topic could just as well have been placed in "Ethics" but iit seems to me that this is a more focused area, and I have an intention to follow up with more specific questions and ideas on the subject.

Anyone reading this will recognize that this is an under-explored area, so I hope we can make some progress here.

In a subsequent post, I would like to look at one of the earliest discussions in the literature on this topic, which is Nathaniel Branden's brief essay on "The obligations of parents and children." Nathaniel Branden. I.A.D. (Intellectual Ammunition Department): Objectivist Newsletter 1(12), Dec 1962, p. 55.

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7 hours ago, Leif Martyn said:

Hello - I'd like to know if anyone attended Greg Salmieri's talk at OCON 2022 on this topic? If so, to what degree of detail did he discuss this?

Here's the brief description from Objectivist Media:

logo-a2892f6dae4c94108a0891a8c17b0991ff6
OBJECTIVISTMEDIA.COM

The Objectivist ethics is grounded in the nature of life. Spanning meta-ethics to politics, this talk surveys the implications for this ethics of an...

I suppose this question / topic could just as well have been placed in "Ethics" but iit seems to me that this is a more focused area, and I have an intention to follow up with more specific questions and ideas on the subject.

Anyone reading this will recognize that this is an under-explored area, so I hope we can make some progress here.

In a subsequent post, I would like to look at one of the earliest discussions in the literature on this topic, which is Nathaniel Branden's brief essay on "The obligations of parents and children." Nathaniel Branden. I.A.D. (Intellectual Ammunition Department): Objectivist Newsletter 1(12), Dec 1962, p. 55.

My suspicion is that you will not get the kind of "detail" or "content" you may be looking for.  Under-explored area is an understatement.  I mean the title of the talk itself is mechanistic, biological, inhuman. "Reproduction?" Meaaah, what ARE the ethics of the biomechanics of the elbow?  meahh...  No.

Humans have societies, culture, FAMILIES... these are the root and base of humanity, its nurturing soil, in which free individuals flourish, and which they experience and enrich, with rationality of each a flourish and a quality check on the experience of being.

Inasmuch as we are more than a plucked chicken, (featherless biped) we are far more than simpliciter "rational animal". 

 

A psychologist like Nathaniel Branden was always in a better place to understand this.  A psychologist who understands families, cultures, societies, evolutionary biology, and the psyche of humans (far deeper than 2+2=4) would be in an even better place.

 

It seems that the so-called "Objectivist" purist, the sanitation agents and gate keepers of the Objectivist movement (who tend to lean towards over-simplistic academic rationalism) overstate and overextend the philosophy of Objectivism beyond its proper fundamentals, apply supposed corollaries or supposed logically necessary implications of its proponents (and even Rand herself) as though they were the canons of the philosophy proper, (rather than specific instances of their application which they are).. which serves to sterilize the vitality and richness of the life which is the birthright of every human.  The effect of these sanitation agents, the gatekeepers of purity, is not to inform the richness of human life with the core metaphysics, ethics, and politics, but to neuter humanity of every individual at its very root.

IMHO 

 

NOW thank goodness for the likes of MSK.. who tend to define the philosophy as residing within its proper sphere, and to properly distinguish between it and its application/implications.  I myself have learned a thing or too from that man.

 

Maybe it's time for someone to write a book about how being a human being participating in a society with culture and a family can benefit from Objectivism (rather than suffer)? 

any takers?  Kelly?  Kelly?

 

 

 

 

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Leif,

Welcome to OL.

Are you a fan of Greg's?

I don't know him, but from what I have seen, he seems reasonable enough.

As to reproduction, who wants to rule over the reproduction of others? Do you? I don't.

 

Incidentally, I am not in favor of abortion as a practice, but I am also not in favor of the government prohibiting it. I am less in favor of the government paying for it. 

And I am totally in favor of those people who go to places where abortions are performed and offer last chance efforts to persuade women who show up to not get an abortion.

I can discuss any one of these positions, and many others, as we have here on OL over and over.

 

The bottom line, though, is that any species, or culture within a species, that does not have robust reproduction dies out.

How many individuals will there be if the species dies out?

Or how will Objectivism save the word from dying in an orgy of this or that in the next generation if people stop reproducing? Missionary work? That's about the only way and Objectivists suck as missionaries. (It's true. I know. I used to be one, so to speak.) :) 

People here in O-Land who talk about abortion and reproduction hardly ever mention these things.

 

But it gets worse. When they define right to life for all individuals and exempt the unborn as mere pieces of protoplasm (like Rand did), they create an identification problem that is no longer based on reason. Human life is defined by biology, not by ideology.

(btw - In my own thinking, since two lives are at stake in a pregnancy, not just one, but one of them is biologically supporting the life of the other, I think it reasonable to remove the state and let the mother have sovereignty--political sovereignty--over the unborn in her belly. The means the power to protect it and the power to kill it. Once the baby is separated from the mother, the state assumes political protection of its rights. But that's just an idea--me trying to answer the most of many of the weird and contradictory problems that come up with reproduction.)

Michael

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Thanks to both of you for your initial responses: as you can see, I posted my comments about the Objectivist Newsletter "Intellectual Ammunition" piece separately, and I intend to work through several other sources in separate posts.

Since this is the start of my project, I won't make more than a few general comments here, largely in response to Michael's note:

I am not especially a fan of Greg Salmieri, but I am aware of the work he's done (published), and it appears that he picks up where Allan Gotthelf left off.
If I were to be a fan of anyone, it would be the work that's come out of the Ayn Rand Society (APA) so far.

My "thing," as should be immediately apparent, is the literature: this is the scholarly record as far as it goes, and as far as it will have an impact going forward. I am also aware that Salmieri's lecture (to the extent that it was a lecture) at OCON will be "published" or released on a schedule that is not his own - I suspect copyright has a lot to do with it - so I was just hoping...
To finish that idea, since he actually made a presentation on this topic area, in a recognized forum, I thought this would be a useful benchmark of where to go. I will extend some charity and assume that his ideas will not have the appearance of a mechanistic approach - but I stand prepared to be disabused of that conceit!

Michael, I think your "bottom line" is where I ultimately intend to go, but only after reviewing what's been done - which isn't much, I think that too is apparent. If I were to put the conclusion before the premises, I would say that going forward Objectivism, as an organized body of thought, with a vision of the human, has the potential to offer a cogent argument for the value of procreating: I reserve the right to revise this formulation, but I'd like to see if an egoist position for natalism can be coherently stated, from Objectivist principles. Your point about the biological aspect of identity is also well-taken; I will add here that if you have looked at all at discussions of "future time perspective" then you may see some angles worth exploring.

I really don't want to get into abortion as a topic here, since I think it has been done, and is a distraction from my main intention. I do expect, however, to look at "Of Living Death" to some extent, since Ayn Rand makes a number of comments there that reflect (not very well, IMHO) on the problem of deciding to have children.  I also expect to mine the depths of the comments made over the past several years in the several forums where discussions have been held. Let's see what emerges!

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  • 3 weeks later...

So Tad, I think I know where you're going with this, but I'm not much at unpacking high-context stuff without some background.

Have you been trying to figure this out elsewhere? If so, please include a reference.

If this is new, please expand on the ideas of 'species-free riders' (species free-riders?) and the charge of moral culpability in this case.

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