Can morality be objective?


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The Objective Standard contains an article titled "Objective Moral Values" by Craig Biddle.

More fuel for the fire!

Mary, I'm not familiar with this. Could you summarize?

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I found this old letter and was looking for a place to post it. I could not find "Libertarian," and this looked like a home for it. I was surprised about Ron Paul. I agree with him.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

From: "Doris Gordon" <>

To: "lpus-plat" <>, <>

Subject: ATL: Ron Paul on Partial Birth Abortion

Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 02:45:41 -0400

Return to the

1997 Congressional

Record directory


Opening Page

The Congressional Record (House)

March 19, 1997

Partial Birth Abortion

Mr. Speaker, I have practiced obstetrics and gynecology for more than 30 years and have delivered thousands of babies. I have never needed to, nor have I known of any circumstance where the partial birth abortion procedure was necessary for the health of the mother. Quite to the contrary, it is my most sincere conviction that the procedure itself is quite dangerous to the mother.

When it was first said by the right-to-life advocates that this procedure was frequently done, I was reluctant to believe this possible, considering its danger and its grotesque nature. It was only after the admission by the proponents of abortion that, indeed, it was done frequently, and on healthy babies, that I was willing to consider that we had slipped to the point where this operation is promoted as an acceptable medical procedure.

The notion that this procedure should be available for the protection of the health of the mother is disingenuous to say the least. As a physician who encountered inter-uterine fetal death in the second and third trimester, I never entertained the thought of performing this procedure because of the risk to the mother. Using the mother's health as an excuse for abortion reminds me of what I witnessed in the 1960's as an obstetrical resident. Physicians defying the law were using a legal loophole saying that if an individual threatened suicide, it was a justification for abortion. It was a matter of course to make a phone call and get a commitment from a sympathetic psychiatrists to say, yes, he would sign the papers -- and that's all that it took.

It is one thing to defend abortion because one sincerely believes it should be legal, but it is another thing to distort the truth, fudge the statistics, and pretend that its done for the health of the pregnant women. This should be exposed for the falsehood that it is.

I am convinced abortion is the most important issue of the 20th century. Whether a civilized society treats human life with dignity or contempt will determine the outcome of that civilization. Supporters for legalization of abortion in the 1960's never dreamed it would come to the debate that we face today over this grotesque procedure -- the partial birth abortion.

Determining whether or not this country endorses this procedure or not makes a moral statement of the utmost importance regarding the value of human life.

The legislative approach to abortion is of lesser consequence than the issue itself. Abortion regulation, like all acts of violence, traditionally and under the Constitution, were dealt with locally until 1973 when the courts chose to legalize nationally the procedure. Removing the issue from the jurisdiction of the federal courts so states could deal with all the problems surrounding abortion would be more in line with the traditional constitutional approach to government. Obviously, all funding by any government ought to be prohibited in a society that pretends to protect human life and defend individual liberty.

It is now a worn out cliché that abortion is defended in the name of women's right and freedom of choice. But claiming to protect the freedom of one individual can never be an excuse to take the life of another. Life and liberty are never in conflict; life and convenience may well be. The inconvenience and responsibility of caring for a hungry, crying baby at 3 a.m. never justifies baby killing. Nor is a inconvenient baby in the womb a justification for its elimination.

For those who cry out for choice, let me point out that someone must speak out for the small, the weak, and the disenfranchised so their choice for life is heard.

No one in this body can challenge me on my defense of personal choice in all social, personal, and economic matters, but I do not accept the notion that choice means the right to take the life of a human being. That's a mockery of the English language and truth.

Those so bold who today would argue that choice means not only the killing of the unborn but the partially born as well, I say to you: Where are you when it comes to real choice in economic transactions, hiring practices, gun ownership, use of private property, confiscatory taxing policies, taking personal risks, picking schools for our children, medications and medical procedures not yet approved by the FDA? Let me hear no more about choice as the excuse to kill. Please, with due respect, pick another less offensive word.

This great debate over life has lasted now for over 30 years. And it took the partial birth abortion procedure to crystallize, vividly, exactly what the debate is all about.

The deliberate killing of a half born infant, with heart beating, arms and legs flailing, and a chest struggling for a first breath by aspirating the infant's brain is, to many of us, an uncivilized, abhorrent and unacceptable procedure.

Yet, we as a nation, now without a moral barring, appear frozen as to what to do. The debate has boiled down to this: should the police be called or should the abortionist be paid a handsome fee?

For now, the best we can do is make a statement that there is a limit -- and we have reached it. Hopefully, someday, there will be enough respect for local government to handle problems like this, but we must forcefully acknowledge that the defense of all liberty requires the utmost respect for all life.

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<br />
<br />The Objective Standard contains an article titled "Objective Moral Values" by Craig Biddle. <br /><br />More fuel for the fire!<br />
<br /><br />Mary, I'm not familiar with this. Could you summarize?<br />
<br /><br /> Edited by Mary Lee Harsha
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I need to practicing my posting better. Sorry about that.

I assume that you are familiar with The Objectivist Standard.

First I'll just plagiarize Biddle's own description of the article:

"Zeros in on the nature of objective, life-serving values; demonstrates that man's most fundamental value is his faculty of reason; and shows that both physical survival and spiritual health require keeping one's thinking tied to reality (via reason) so that one's ideas, values, actions, and emotions correspond to reality, too."

I checked to see if this article would be free to the public, but it is not. You can purchase articles in PDF format for $5.00.

This article is the fourth chapter from Craig Biddle's Book, Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts That Support it. In prior chapters he presented the argument that resulted in the principle that "human life is logically the standard of moral value – and that each individual's own life is logically his own ultimate value." This thinking is well known among Ayn Rand fans.

Since your originating question was "Can Morality be Objective?" this looked like a pretty good piece to add to your discussion.

This article refers to the philosophical category of Ethics and asks the questions, "What things do we need in order to live?" "What actions must we take in order to gain and keep those things?" and "What makes those actions possible?"

The thesis presented in this article is that we cannot just act randomly to achieve our happiness and survival; that we must discover the "actual, objective requirements of survival." Biddle then explores what we need to do in order to survive either alone on an island or in the heart of New York City. At the end of the list of obvious survival needs, he demonstrates that we have discovered the first of the survival values required by man which is the requirement that we think. This is the most basic requirement of human life, the value of Reason. He then lists the ways and means by which we can meet those needs and discovers the second value which depends on the use of reason - Productivity.

Biddle follows this introduction to the first two fundamental values according to Objectivism with a description of the nature and source of our emotions which will play into the third fundamental value of Self-Esteem. Biddle doesn't talk about the term self-esteem as such in this chapter, but does describe those aspects of human life necessary to achieve it. Briefly, Nathaniel Branden defines Self-esteem as the self evaluation that one is competent to live and that one is worthy of living. See his "Honoring the Self" and "The Art of Living Consciously" for a full definition of the requirements for healthy Self-esteem.

Couldn't help thinking about Branden as he is in Arizona today celebrating the publishing of The Vision of Ayn Rand.

My own personal note: I've been following this thread as an observer since the first couple of posts and while I don't believe that I'm equipped to become a debater on the topic, I could offer this observation. When I first saw the heading of the thread, "Can Morality be Objective?" my immediate reaction was "It had better be". That's why I became curious about how the discussion would proceed. So carry on. I'll butt back out.

Mary Lee

Edited by Mary Lee Harsha
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Mary Lee writes:

"...I don't think that I'm equipped to become a debater on the topic..."


"When I first saw the heading of the thread "Can Morality be Objective?" my immediate reaction was "It had better be"."

Mary Lee, on your debating skill, you are too modest. :)

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Mary Lee writes:

"...I don't think that I'm equipped to become a debater on the topic..."


"When I first saw the heading of the thread "Can Morality be Objective?" my immediate reaction was "It had better be"."

Mary Lee, on your debating skill, you are too modest. :)


This is getting scary. I have been "debating" since her post last night whether to reach out to her by private instant message or e-mail.

As a college instructor of debate, argumentation and rhetoric, I was going to complement her on her posting and knowledge of objectivism skills and the clarity of her arguments.

Marsha, I know that you have been and would be a tremendous asset to all of us.

Hell, if a crazy person like me can post, you will have no problems.


mulling about making a formal request for everyone to sign

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Mary Lee Harsha: I don't think that I'm equipped to become a debater on the topic..."

Why exactly, Mary Lee?

We know she is not teaching in Catholic school lol.

I would never teach there, even if they paid me far more than the salary I earn in the public school system.

As a college instructor of debate, argumentation and rhetoric

How about giving me a demonstration of your debating skills by adressing my post # 191 about

"Christian Morality

What Objective Morality Means" ? :)

No takers so far, which is not surprising. For the similarites to Rand think are just too striking. What do you think?

Edited by Xray
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