The Instigator
Evan_MacIan
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
Ragnar_Rahl
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

Anti-Abortion Laws

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/22/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,685 times Debate No: 3342
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (12)

 

Evan_MacIan

Pro

I saw another debate Ragnar did on this topic. He was not given much of a challenge. While abortion topics are generally copy and paste affairs, and one can basically map out an objectivist's position on just about anything in advance (which is not an insult, but a testament to objectivism's simplicity and consistency), I decided this would be a good debate anyway. It is possible that Ragnar will give me something I haven't heard before, and judging from the responses he gave in the other debate, I certainly plan on making Ragnar work for anything approximating a victory.

I won't be posting my arguments just yet, as they're more of a reaction against the other debate. I will, however, suggest a direction for the debate that Ragnar should be entirely comfortable with: I intend this debate to be about the nature of rights, personhood, and the untenability of Ragnar's position on each. So, Ragnar, if you would be kind enough to state why you believe a fetus has no right to life, the debate can begin.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

To have a view of rights, one must first have an ethics- a code of survival based on the facts of reality. This presumes of course the choice to live, as it's alternative, the choice to die, is naturally something that will, if honestly taken with conviction, result in the person in question becoming unable to formulate an ethics, and lacking a need for one. There is no system for dying, there are a million random alternative deaths with no standard for preference. It is not death by immolation or indifference, but life which demands standards, preset attributes for one's actions, life which demands purpose, the goal one's action is to achieve, life which demands self-esteem, the knowledge that one is worthy of it, life which demands reason, the means of acquiring knowledge.

One's own life is not any sort of means but an end to ethics.

Politics, the field in which rights are discussed, begins when one realizes the impact other rational creatures tend to have on one's life. Any discussion of "rights," the proper relations between rational creatures, must begin with the goal of one's own life. We start simply, with A is A- with life as the goal of rights, the first right and the source of all others is the right to life, that is, one defends one's life from others, and since they are rational, that means they will defend theirs from you if you attempt to encroach. They will do so by eliminating the threat, i.e. you. Thus you do not deny them their right to life, so as to facilitate their denying you yours. This changes when they deny yours first, as they prove themselves irrational by doing so, and remove any future causality between your attacks on them and theirs on you. Indeed they reverse it, because you now have to kill them or otherwise interfere with their life in order to preserve your right to your own.

The rights of liberty and property are derived from this, because with the requirement of the conforming of one's actions to the use of a reasoning mind to live, one's actions cannot be conformed to the dictates of force instead in order to live; and with the requirement to produce things necessary to one's existence, one's production must be reliably available in order to live.

In summary rights require two things: Rationality, i.e. they are a code of action that applies to other rational beings, and Reciprocity, for treating beings in a manner consistent with rights that they do not treat you with is not only not helpful to your life, it's harmful to it.

Where does a fetus play into this? A fetus is a group of cells that happen to have the characteristic of homo sapien DNA. It may or may not eventually turn into something rational, but at the moment it most certainly is not. It does not demonstrably think, and if it does think it's thoughts are certainly not evident in its actions. It does not produce the necessities of it's existence, nor anything to trade for them. It just sits there in a womb, suckling away. It thus violates the requirement of Reason.

A fetus also does not observe the rights of the woman who does not wish it there. It does not ask permission, it does not leave when requested, it simply continues to trespass in a rational being's body, stealing that being's nutrients (violating the right to property), interfering with that being's actions (violating the right to liberty), and oftentimes endangering the host (thus often violating more directly the right to life as such). It thus violates the requirement of Reciprocity.

This is why it does not have a right, to life or anything else.
Debate Round No. 1
Evan_MacIan

Pro

Before I give my argument, I have a few notes:

"A fetus is a group of cells that happen to have the characteristic of homo sapien DNA."
This sentence is really absurd coming from one who happens to claim that A is A. The closest thing I could think of is saying that a rabbit is bits of flesh and fur that happen to have the characteristic of big ears and a fuzzy tail. Let's break it down further:

"a group of cells"
Why not a group of atoms? That's technically accurate too. The fact that the group of cells forms a single living organism really isn't worth mentioning anyway. An organism or a mold, it's all really the same thing. That is, a group of cells.

"characteristic of homo sapien DNA"
I'm not certain why characteristic is here. And homo sapien means human. And the fact that it is human DNA means it is genetically human.

So, translated away from the long words and gross imprecision, the sentence reads: "A fetus is an organism that happens to be genetically human." But A is A, right?

"It may or may not eventually turn into something rational"
REALLY? What, so it might turn into a chicken? A goose maybe? Will that fetus turn into a little turtle? The fact of the matter is, if everything goes as it is biologically intended to, the fetus will DEFINITELY turn into something rational, which is no surprise, since it is already human (at least if we are to trust genetics in such matters). For someone who makes the audacious claim that A is A, you certainly seem to be doing a lot of equivocating.

Now, to my argument. I thought of it in a much more informal debate with another objectivist, and it was merely denied rather than disproved. Anyway, you've been much clearer in your arguments, and I will be really interested to see what you do with it.

Frankly, your position quite clearly supports infanticide. Or, if not infanticide, at least what would clearly be child abuse.

Rights are, according to you, "the proper relations between rational beings." Babies are no more rational than third trimester fetuses. Certainly, they have no conception of ethics, which you also deem necessary. A new born child, or any baby that can not yet speak, "does not demonstrably think, and if it does think, its thoughts are certainly not yet evident in its actions. It does not produce the necessities of its own existence, nor anything to trade for them. It just sits there," on a teat "sucking away. It thus violates the requirement of reason." While this may not justify outright killing of the baby, it certainly justifies starving the child, taking no precautions for the baby's safety, or any other form of neglect one can think of. As you say, the lack of reason "is why it does not have a right to life, or anything else."

I mean, you've really dug a hole here. In your system, reason is everything. Because of that, it would seem that every pregnancy ought to end in an abortion. You build the argument yourself.

Any fetus is in violation of reciprocity.
"A fetus also does not observe the rights of the woman who does not wish it there… It thus violates the requirement of Reciprocity."

Violating reciprocity is against one's rational self interest.
Reciprocity, for treating beings in a manner consistent with rights that they do not treat you with is not only not helpful to your life, it's harmful to it.

It is rational to remove the violator of reciprocity.
"Thus you do not deny them their right to life, so as to facilitate their denying you yours. This changes when they deny yours first, as they prove themselves irrational by doing so, and remove any future causality between your attacks on them and theirs on you. Indeed they reverse it, because you now have to kill them or otherwise interfere with their life in order to preserve your right to your own."

The logic is pretty clear here. If rational self interest based on reciprocity justifies the choice of an abortion, it demands the choice of an abortion. A being acting against reason, if I am not mistaken, is contemptible by your standards. And based on Reciprocity, allowing any pregnancy is violating reason.

I may be getting out of line with your principles here. It is possible there is some subtlety that I'm missing, but it seems to me that A is A, and A is very clear in this case.

I'm unfortunately busy right now, so I'll post my arguments FOR anti abortion laws in the third round.

I'll sum them up here, though, and give Ragnar a chance to hit them before I elaborate on them (and his hitting them ought to improve my elaborating them anyway).

1.No really acceptable definition of the nature of rights has been found thus far.
2.Rights based on rationality is further unacceptable, because rationality (being immaterial, as most of the greatest things in life are) is imprecise and open to abuses (for instance, many would call religious people irrational, making it possible for them to be stripped of rights).
3.Given that philosophy has been unable to give an acceptable framework of rights, science should intervene, and propose a solution that is not open to broad or abusive interpretations.
4.Genetics being the best guide to nature, anything genetically human possesses basic rights, like that of life (a note, a sperm and an ovum are not genetically human).

5.On a less interesting note, 95% of abortions are unrelated to rape or health of the mother, and ought to be banned, as at some point the woman involved consented to an act that she knew could result in a child.
6.On another (somewhat feeble) note, the topic is merely anti-abortion laws, and since I can't pop an Advil in school without parental permission and a doctor's note, underage teens should not legally be allowed to undergo this invasive surgical procedure without parental consent (allowing, of course, for exceptions decided by a court in cases of possible abuse).
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
This sentence is really absurd coming from one who happens to claim that A is A. The closest thing I could think of is saying that a rabbit is bits of flesh and fur that happen to have the characteristic of big ears and a fuzzy tail. Let's break it down further:
"

Actually a rabbit is not "bits of flesh and fur," the flesh and fur is merely external. Internally there are other things going on, unless we use a very loose definition of flesh. Thus the analogy isn't accurate, because my description of a fetus is more accurate than your description of a rabbit.

"
Why not a group of atoms? That's technically accurate too. The fact that the group of cells forms a single living organism really isn't worth mentioning anyway. An organism or a mold, it's all really the same thing. That is, a group of cells.
"

The "atoms" don't have the characteristic of homo sapiens DNA. The organism bit may be worth mentioning, but a description is not inaccurate by omission of a trait alone, so long as it does not claim to be exhaustive.

"
I'm not certain why characteristic is here. And homo sapien means human. And the fact that it is human DNA means it is genetically human."
"Homo sapiens" for any meaningful purpose is not synonymous with "human." Homo sapiens" is the biological species under which all known humans fall, but human, for the purpose here, is defined as "rational animal." It is entirely possible to be of the species "homo sapiens" without being "human" in this definition (and theoretically possible to be "human" without being homo sapiens), so to equate them based on an irrelevant biologist's definition is the fallacy of equivocation when applied to a philosophical discussion.

"

So, translated away from the long words and gross imprecision, the sentence reads: "A fetus is an organism that happens to be genetically human." But A is A, right?"
There is no such thing as "genetically human" under the above definition of human. Humanity is not a trait defined by genes, regardless of whether it is caused by them.

"
REALLY? What, so it might turn into a chicken? A goose maybe? Will that fetus turn into a little turtle? The fact of the matter is, if everything goes as it is biologically intended to, the fetus will DEFINITELY turn into something rational, which is no surprise, since it is already human (at least if we are to trust genetics in such matters). For someone who makes the audacious claim that A is A, you certainly seem to be doing a lot of equivocating."

It will not turn into a chicken or a goose, or a turtle, but those are straw men, and you are obviously ignorant of what I was getting to. It will not "definitely" turn into something rational, and there is no such thing as "biologically intended." Biology does not have a teleology. It may turn into a miscarriage, or an aborted fetus, or a stillborn creature, or someone who accepts absolutely everything on faith Many such possibilities exist in which a homo sapiens fetus does not become rational. We are not to "trust genetics" in such matters, certain traits in genetics may be a necessary cause of rationality, but nothing except one's own choice can be a sufficient cause of it, by definition- rationality is the choice to be conscious of the truth, the choice to take actions conducive to that end, and actions in accordance with the truth once known.

"
Frankly, your position quite clearly supports infanticide. Or, if not infanticide, at least what would clearly be child abuse.

Rights are, according to you, "the proper relations between rational beings." Babies are no more rational than third trimester fetuses. Certainly, they have no conception of ethics, which you also deem necessary. A new born child, or any baby that can not yet speak, "does not demonstrably think, and if it does think, its thoughts are certainly not yet evident in its actions. It does not produce the necessities of its own existence, nor anything to trade for them. It just sits there," on a teat "sucking away. It thus violates the requirement of reason." While this may not justify outright killing of the baby, it certainly justifies starving the child, taking no precautions for the baby's safety, or any other form of neglect one can think of. As you say, the lack of reason "is why it does not have a right to life, or anything else."

True to a certain extent. Babies are in fact demonstrably capable of certain rational functions, although they lack accumulated knowledge of the world with which to make extensive use of it- for example, they are able to become conscious of certain quantitative functions (at least according to various psychological experiments that show babies to be quite shocked when faced with apparent quantitative impossibilities, compared to being faced with that which is apparently possible. They thus do have rights- they aren't particularly capable of making use of them of course. Simply their being born incurs no obligation to feed them or do anything else for them- but when they are born they do exercise their liberty by crying. When a parent (or other party) begins the task of caring for them, they make an implicit promise to continue to do so as long as necessary, and therein lies the obligation by contract- but prior to that implicit promise, prior to someone taking up the task of caring for them, the infant is on their own. I should note this isn't the "official" Objectivist position: most of the writers at both TAS and ARI have scrupulously avoided specific discussion of it, perhaps because of evasion, they might be made uncomfortable by it- but it is the only position I can take in light of the knowledge available.

"I mean, you've really dug a hole here. In your system, reason is everything. Because of that, it would seem that every pregnancy ought to end in an abortion. You build the argument yourself.
"

Surely you must realize that some people will have a kid because they want to? It's their womb, their issue. EVERY pregnancy ending in abortion would mean force of law against them still, and would violate the woman's rights as much as outlawing abortion.

"
The logic is pretty clear here. If rational self interest based on reciprocity justifies the choice of an abortion, it demands the choice of an abortion. A being acting against reason, if I am not mistaken, is contemptible by your standards. And based on Reciprocity, allowing any pregnancy is violating reason."

You have to keep in mind that, IF the fetus is made by the woman's conscious will (hard to believe but there are such women out there :)) the fetus is no longer violating reciprocity, it's just doing what she invited it to do. I was speaking of unwanted fetuses when describing the violation of reciprocity. So nope, your objection doesn't hold.

"

1. No really acceptable definition of the nature of rights has been found thus far."

What's unacceptable of what I put up above?

"2. Rights based on rationality is further unacceptable, because rationality (being immaterial, as most of the greatest things in life are) is imprecise and open to abuses (for instance, many would call religious people irrational, making it possible for them to be stripped of rights)."
It is entirely possible to have an error of rationality, or a breached rationality. Simply because someone holds a specific irrational belief does not mean they are completely lacking in rationality. If they choose to be irrational of course they are evil, but evil alone does not remove rights. To consider someone without rights they must either completely lack the trait of rationality (which would mean not having religion but being incapable to form religion, because religion, though it stems from the irrational concept of "Faith," requires a logical structure in order to have room to commit it's error, error without a mind is a contradiction), or one must violate reciprocity. Length violation, will continue in comments :D
Debate Round No. 2
Evan_MacIan

Pro

"Homo sapiens" for any meaningful purpose is not synonymous with "human." Homo sapiens" is the biological species under which all known humans fall, but human, for the purpose here, is defined as "rational animal."
I looked up the definition of human on dictionary.com. Several of the definitions mentioned homo sapiens, or hominid, or the genus "homo," but none of them defined human as being a rational animal (though one or two did mention higher intelligence). I was not equivocating. My rephrasing of your sentence was substantially correct, even if not a philosophically precise (though I contest your philosophical definition anyway. The nearest term I can reconcile to your definition would be "person"). A homo sapiens is something one talks about in a laboratory, and not something one encounters in real life. A human is a member of your own species.

"It may turn into a miscarriage, or an aborted fetus, or a stillborn creature, or someone who accepts absolutely everything on faith Many such possibilities exist in which a homo sapiens fetus does not become rational."
Many such possibilities do not exist. There are essentially three possibilities: A rational creature, a fetus that dies naturally, or an abortion. Saying "It may or may not turn into something rational," is misleading. It will either turn into something rational or it will cease to exist somehow. This is, in principle, the same thing as a sleeping adult. It is not currently using rational judgment, but if it continues to exist, it certainly will. Frankly, I think your distinction between a "rational being" and a being that will certainly use reason if it continues to exist to be blown way out of proportion.

"Babies are in fact demonstrably capable of certain rational functions"
I hadn't heard this. Or, at least, some animals are capable of many of the same functions. Dolphins supposedly have the intelligence of a five year old. Are dolphins entitled to the same rights as babies or small children? I don't believe they are, because rights should not be based on rationality or intelligence.

"but when they are born they do exercise their liberty by crying."
I would be interested to see some study which says that crying is a rationally chosen action. I was under the impression that it was instinct. Actually, don't doctors spank the new born in order to start it crying so it will breathe?

"When a parent (or other party) begins the task of caring for them, they make an implicit promise to continue to do so as long as necessary, and therein lies the obligation by contract"
This is demonstrably false. I fail to see in the least how ANY implicit promise made. And anyway, if this is the case, there are a LOT of nurses out there who have violated this contract. I guarantee you that there have been many cases in which a doctor or nurse begin caring for the child before the parents.

"it is the only position I can take in light of the knowledge available."
It is a clever position, even if it is flawed. I don't see how you can prove this implicit promise. It seems to me to be as arbitrary as saying a rich man must care for a poor one if the rich one gives to charity. The only reason your claim to an implicit promise is more tenable is the fact that the ones making the promise are assumed to be the parents (which is often not the case).

"Surely you must realize that some people will have a kid because they want to? It's their womb, their issue. EVERY pregnancy ending in abortion would mean force of law against them still, and would violate the woman's rights as much as outlawing abortion."
I never argued that your position would necessitate an abortion legally. I only said it would ethically, and the way you stated your position, it would. I recognize, though, that this is not your position, but only an argument made possible but a tiny lack of clarity on your part.

"for treating beings in a manner consistent with rights that they do not treat you with is not only not helpful to your life, it's harmful to it."
This statement of yours is not a really accurate reflection of your position, or else it would make owning a pet or caring for a child unethical.

1. "What's unacceptable of what I put up above?"
It relies on what is a best an unproven premise of an implicit promise. It further gives rights to the more intelligent animals (the same rights as small children) that I believe both of us agree they should not have.

2. "Simply because someone holds a specific irrational belief does not mean they are completely lacking in rationality."
True, but it might make them less rational which could conceivably entitle them to fewer rights. While you give babies a minimum of rights (and more than I think your system logically entitles them to), you can't give them the same rights as adults, so rights do exist in degrees of rationality. While the more egregious and obvious violations of rights would only occur under perversions of objectivism, I think it is entirely conceivable that "indoctrination of children" could be considered a crime under an objectivist legal system. If a child does indeed posses rights, a parent passing on their beliefs could be seen as a violation of those rights.

3. ""Science" is strictly for discovering particulars, concretes. It is incapable of a solution in ethics."
You're correct, but science is perfectly capable of determining what is human. According basic rights based on species might not be supported by any particular ethical system (in this debate), but it does accord an acceptable safety net of rights. That safety net really is needed, as was proved in the genocides of the 1940's.

4. "But my skin cell is genetically human, does it have the right to not be forced by me to go through sunlight? Cancer is genetically human; does it have a right to not be killed by being cured?"
A skin cell is not an organism. It can not be considered an organism by itself and cannot therefore be accorded the rights of an organism. Cancer may be a bit more difficult. I would maintain that it is not technically human either, as it does not function like a human cell. This is a bit more difficult to maintain, as I'm not particularly studied in genetics, but I think it is a tenable contention.

4.5
Voters, if you feel that my opponent's views about rights have been disproved, and that my safety net idea may be correct, you have practically conceded my point. If a hunter believes that there is a reasonable chance that a being possessing rights MIGHT be behind a bush, he is ethically obligated not to fire into that bush. Therefore, if there is a reasonable chance that a fetus might legitimately possess rights, that fetus should possess those rights (at least in cases of basic rights like life and death).

Length Violation, ccontinued on comments.
Ragnar_Rahl

Con

"
I looked up the definition of human on dictionary.com. Several of the definitions mentioned homo sapiens, or hominid, or the genus "homo," but none of them defined human as being a rational animal (though one or two did mention higher intelligence). I was not equivocating. My rephrasing of your sentence was substantially correct, even if not a philosophically precise (though I contest your philosophical definition anyway. The nearest term I can reconcile to your definition would be "person"). A homo sapiens is something one talks about in a laboratory, and not something one encounters in real life. A human is a member of your own species.
"

Ad authoritatem, dictionary.com or any other dictionary is not the sole determinant of what a word can be defined as.
I got the definition from Ayn Rand's definition of man (I used "human" to make it sound more gender-neutral.) When a word is consistently used in a certain definition, it acquires that definition for the purposes it was used for. "Person" should not be used because it is linguistically derived as a subset of "people," i.e. the individual is derived from the collective rather than the other way around, which is simply bad aesthetics. Besides it also contains the legal term "person," which includes all sorts of strange things. I have given the definition of the term, abide by it or give a better reason to cast it aside than some book or website you take as an article of faith.

"
Many such possibilities do not exist. There are essentially three possibilities: A rational creature, a fetus that dies naturally, or an abortion. Saying "It may or may not turn into something rational," is misleading. It will either turn into something rational or it will cease to exist somehow. This is, in principle, the same thing as a sleeping adult. It is not currently using rational judgment, but if it continues to exist, it certainly will. Frankly, I think your distinction between a "rational being" and a being that will certainly use reason if it continues to exist to be blown way out of proportion."
You ignored the possibilities "Something that takes EVERYTHING on faith," and the unmentioned possibility of a permanent mental disability (some of which do not remove the trait of rationality, and some of which do.) Both of those continue to exist (albeit at the whim of others) yet neither can be called rational. A key part of the definition of reason is that you have to choose to use it. A "Certain" (i.e. preordained) use of reason is a contradiction in terms.

"
I hadn't heard this. Or, at least, some animals are capable of many of the same functions. Dolphins supposedly have the intelligence of a five year old. Are dolphins entitled to the same rights as babies or small children? I don't believe they are, because rights should not be based on rationality or intelligence."

Dolphins have shown quantitative ability? Or any other form of reason? News to me. Show me the results. And then show me it is possible for them to ever show reciprocity (because remember without it the reason alone doesn't help :D).
Keep in mind I'm not saying the evidence is conclusive on infants having reason, I'm just saying it's there. If it turns out not to be there, the baby doesn't gain rights by that fact, it loses them. And preschoolers certainly have one, in forming their theory of mind (wellman & others, 2001). They have reciprocity too, as someone watching them interact can tell, even if it's imperfect.

"
I would be interested to see some study which says that crying is a rationally chosen action. I was under the impression that it was instinct. Actually, don't doctors spank the new born in order to start it crying so it will breathe?
"
I didn't say that the crying was proof of rationality, I said it was among the things it had a right to do without interference if it does have rationality.

"
This is demonstrably false. I fail to see in the least how ANY implicit promise made."
Failure to see is not a demonstration :P

"And anyway, if this is the case, there are a LOT of nurses out there who have violated this contract. I guarantee you that there have been many cases in which a doctor or nurse begin caring for the child before the parents."

As paid employees of the parents. Obviously contracts can exchange obligations rather easily. That's how people are able to take on another's debt if they wish for example.

As for how it's an implicit promise, it is because showing affection and care to a newborn infant means in that infants' understanding, (and the parents obviously realize this, usually), "This is my momma, she wants to care for me for a long time." Much as a handshake in the understanding of two businessmen means "Bargain struck," or "I promise to help you" in the understanding of two english speakers means- well I think you can figure that out.

I might be making an error here, but if so, the consequence would not be that all of a sudden "Nevermind anti-abortion laws are good." It would be "nevermind there is never an obligation to care for an infant." You don't toss everything out because you make one error at the end, when the rest is valid.

"It is a clever position, even if it is flawed. I don't see how you can prove this implicit promise. It seems to me to be as arbitrary as saying a rich man must care for a poor one if the rich one gives to charity."

Do both the rich and the poor understand that a one-time charity donation is essentially code for "I'm your mommy, I will help you for a long time?" I don't think so. Most infants and most parents as far as I can tell do understand the relevant action as such.

"
"for treating beings in a manner consistent with rights that they do not treat you with is not only not helpful to your life, it's harmful to it."
This statement of yours is not a really accurate reflection of your position, or else it would make owning a pet or caring for a child unethical"

Perhaps I should clarify that this only applies when you don't have some other reason than "Rights" for doing it. E.g. you may find the harm from doing so less than other harm for not. It's harmful in itself but it may not be harmful on net.

"It relies on what is a best an unproven premise of an implicit promise. It further gives rights to the more intelligent animals (the same rights as small children) that I believe both of us agree they should not have.
"

Your assuming that my arguments are designed specifically to give rights or exclude them from populations according to idle whims. They are not. There is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that this gives rights to animals (by which you mean known non-homo sapiens on earth I presume, homo sapiens are after all among the more intelligent animals), but if such evidence arose, I would not abandon these rights, because I still seek to live. I would apply them to the animals that fit the criteria. So far the only animal that has been demonstrated to is homo sapiens, but I will not ignore evidence of others, nor abandon it for fear of them. Note that most "animal rights" advocates still rely on the "rights from suffering" approach (which makes no sense, murderers suffer when you defend yourself from them, such a notion of rights is suicide).

And the "implicit promise," since the challenge was to your notion that my whole idea of rights (not the specific application to infants) was flawed, means you are stating something false. My concept of rights does not rely on an implicit promise, only the application to infants does. Since the rights themselves are of a higher order, and have no assumption dependency on the application to infants, your argument does not cancel them.

Length violation, continued in comments.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"Ragnar Rahl, you talk about people not considering the idea of getting pregnant. "

No, i don't. Pay more attention.

And when you already have an open debate with me on this subject of much more recency, it's good form to argue their where I am more likely to notice.

"Upon the moment of conception there is a life, and after that it is murder."

I addressed that nonsense.

"

The people who were for slavery, were free.
The people who were for abortion, were born.
"
No, in fact. Very few of the people who were for slavery were free, in fact very few people have ever been free.
And the latter statement is trivial, because the people who are for anything were born.
Posted by blondesrule502 6 years ago
blondesrule502
Ragnar Rahl, you talk about people not considering the idea of getting pregnant. Even a ten year old knows that. Whether or not they want a pregnancy is their choice, but only by avoiding sexual intercourse. Upon the moment of conception there is a life, and after that it is murder.

The people who were for slavery, were free.
The people who were for abortion, were born.

Notice something?
Posted by blondesrule502 6 years ago
blondesrule502
You talked about parental consent, but in many states you only need parental notification, which basically means nothing because parents can lie so doctors have to allow you the abortion. It's the law where I live, unfortunately.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 6 years ago
Evan_MacIan
Sorry. You're a worthy opponent (certainly the best pro-choicer that I've debated), but I have a limited tolerance for abortion debates.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"If a hunter believes that there is a reasonable chance that a being possessing rights MIGHT be behind a bush, he is ethically obligated not to fire into that bush. Therefore, if there is a reasonable chance that a fetus might legitimately possess rights, that fetus should possess those rights (at least in cases of basic rights like life and death).

"

A "reasonable chance?" How does a fetus have a more reasonable chance than a dog or a monkey? Or a tree for that matter, depending on the stage of the fetus of course.

Besides which, since reason AND reciprocity is required, and no fetus has ever shown the slightest "reasonable chance" of reciprocity, such a thing doesn't work. If you don't derive rights from reason or reciprocity, you need a whole new system with which you can derive them before you can even begin to think of obligations. And you need to make it consistent with an end, and make that end something someone will want. Because life is already taken by the reason and reciprocity derivation. Get to work on it.

I've got plenty of time, no need to make the debate end here :D.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 6 years ago
Evan_MacIan
We each seem to have lost track of the other's argument in the last few posts. Still, I think this was a good debate.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
A skin cell is not an organism. It can not be considered an organism by itself and cannot therefore be accorded the rights of an organism. Cancer may be a bit more difficult. I would maintain that it is not technically human either, as it does not function like a human cell. This is a bit more difficult to maintain, as I'm not particularly studied in genetics, but I think it is a tenable contention.
"

Rights are not derived from status as an organism. A murderer is an organism, but there is no "proper social relationship" with respect for the autonomy of a murderer in a given field.

And you already said you wanted humanity defined genetically. If that is the case it is not tenable to exclude cancer. Cancer is (often) caused by temporary genetic abnormalities, but genetic abnormalities of a far lower order than most human differences. (which is another problem with genetic derivation, where do you draw the line? There is no clear spot where a human becomes a nonhuman in genetics, unless you declare humanity to be an absolute exact genetic code (which would leave one person and their clones/identical twins rights, no one else :D).

"
I believe there is a better possible analogy. Say you are playing Russian Roulette with drugs. There are 1000 syringes (assuming you use protection) , and most of them will only give you a high and a small chance for addiction. One or two of them, though, contain a massive overdose that will certainly kill you. The odds are the same every time (as far as you know, though not really). That is a matter of life and death every time, and a person should be willing to face the consequences of their actions."

So you would forbid them from subsequently paying for emergency care to try not to get certain death. Right?

And it still doesn't change the fact that the fetus is constantly kicking you with no regard for any rights you happen to have.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 6 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"
True, but it might make them less rational which could conceivably entitle them to fewer rights. While you give babies a minimum of rights (and more than I think your system logically entitles them to), you can't give them the same rights as adults, so rights do exist in degrees of rationality. While the more egregious and obvious violations of rights would only occur under perversions of objectivism, I think it is entirely conceivable that "indoctrination of children" could be considered a crime under an objectivist legal system. If a child does indeed posses rights, a parent passing on their beliefs could be seen as a violation of those rights.
"

False. Rights are clearly an either/or thing. They are absolutes. Either infants have rights (the same rights as adults) or they don't.

And indoctrination, that depends on how it is accomplished. Merely speaking about what you believe is not a violation of anyone's rights. Telling a child not to speak about a given position while on your property is also not a violation. Telling them they cannot think something however, or cannot speak about their beliefs while not on the parent's property, is a violation of rights. Herding them into a church when they have made clear they are not willing to go there is.

"You're correct, but science is perfectly capable of determining what is human."

Only when handed a definition. Definitions cannot themselves be formed scientifically.

"ccording basic rights based on species might not be supported by any particular ethical system (in this debate), but it does accord an acceptable safety net of rights. That safety net really is needed, as was proved in the genocides of the 1940's."

"Safety net" of rights? What on earth are you talking about? Rights are an idea of proper social relations. If you have them no "Safety net is needed." Or do you mean "Safety net" as in a state-mandated minimum dogma? I don't get it.
Posted by Evan_MacIan 6 years ago
Evan_MacIan
5. "By walking down the street you consent to an act that you know CAN result in a car crashing in to you. That does not mean you consented to the car crash itself."
I believe there is a better possible analogy. Say you are playing Russian Roulette with drugs. There are 1000 syringes (assuming you use protection) , and most of them will only give you a high and a small chance for addiction. One or two of them, though, contain a massive overdose that will certainly kill you. The odds are the same every time (as far as you know, though not really). That is a matter of life and death every time, and a person should be willing to face the consequences of their actions. Having sex is the same thing. It is not like walking down the middle of the street because every time you engage in the act there is a possibility that LIFE (and regardless of all else, it is life) will be created. If people have a different idea, they are misinformed. You can't claim they didn't choose to get pregnant. If they had consensual sex, they accepted the possibility that they will get pregnant. If they didn't think it was possible, their conception of reality was flawed. Abortion is avoiding the foreseeable consequences of their actions. Saying they have no choice if they can't have an abortion is entirely inaccurate.

6. "It is immoral for the school to require such notes (or if it's a public school, to even exist for that matter :D"
Yikes. I'm not about to argue against an objectivist in defense of our public school system. = )
Posted by Evan_MacIan 6 years ago
Evan_MacIan
I'm going out of town on a college visit, so my response will be posted some time Friday night.
12 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by intj22 5 years ago
intj22
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Chestertonian 5 years ago
Chestertonian
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Vote Placed by lorca 6 years ago
lorca
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Logical-Master 6 years ago
Logical-Master
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by KoolKat 6 years ago
KoolKat
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by blondesrule502 6 years ago
blondesrule502
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Spiral 6 years ago
Spiral
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by HadenQuinlan 6 years ago
HadenQuinlan
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by liberalconservative 6 years ago
liberalconservative
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by captgeech 6 years ago
captgeech
Evan_MacIanRagnar_RahlTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30