The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, September 25, 2008
What Harper doesn't want to talk about
Campaign Life Coalition has finally got its election website up and running. The site has several good features, including an exhaustive look at where candidates stand on some controversial so-con issues, and a report card rating all the major (and one minor) federal leaders.
It's worth checking out, if only to confirm to the folks at the CLC that issues such as abortion and doctor-assisted suicide deserve to be raised during the campaign, not buried under a rug of political correctness.
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Here's an article that quite clearly and simply explains why libertarians have to support keeping abortion legal: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/colb/20080915.html
In short, (1) a woman cannot reasonably be said to consent to being pregnant just because she has voluntary sex. (2) A woman not consenting to being pregnant means she has not consented to providing her body as for life-sustaining services to a fetus or as material for nutrition to a fetus. (3) Requiring a woman to provide her body as for life-sustaining services to a fetus or as material for nutrition to a fetus without her consent is a violation of her liberty. (4) That a fetus is blameless for inhabiting her body and using her for material for nutrition does not negate her right to liberty. (5) Therefore, a woman must have the right to be free from being the host nutritional source to a fetus she has not consented to carying and feeding. (6) Therefore abortion, even if it causes the death of a person, must remain a legal option for all women.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-25 7:35:21 PM
Can you explain why a libertarian can't wait 9 months?
Posted by: lwestin | 2008-09-25 7:43:07 PM
William Gladstone once said "justice delayed, is justice denied". While it might not be *literally* true in the case of justice, it certainly is literally true that liberty delayed is liberty denied. In other words, waiting nine months to grant a person their liberty is the same thing as denying them their liberty for that nine month period.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-25 8:14:56 PM
FC; That you bought into that crap shows, simply, and quite clearly, that you're a retard.
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-09-25 8:24:45 PM
One problem, Fact Check--what about the fetus's right to all those liberties? To argue that B's life is irrelevant to A's liberty is inconsistent with universal liberty. Otherwise I'd be able to shoot a cop who tried to arrest me because he was trying to deprive me of liberty without my consent.
For those of you who don't think a fetus is a person, the science is pretty clear on the matter. Granted, the law can state whatever it wants, reality be damned, but sometimes the law is an ass.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 9:08:19 PM
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy sumarizes Judith Thompson's famous answer to your question, originally published some 37 years ago:
"The fetus is an innocent person with a right to life. Abortion results in the death of a fetus. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong. In her thought experiment we are asked to imagine a famous violinist falling into a coma. The society of music lovers determines from medical records that you and you alone can save the violinist's life by being hooked up to him for nine months. The music lovers break into your home while you are asleep and hook the unconscious (and unknowing, hence innocent) violinist to you. You may want to unhook him, but you are then faced with this argument put forward by the music lovers: The violinist is an innocent person with a right to life. Unhooking him will result in his death. Therefore, unhooking him is morally wrong.
"However, the argument does not seem convincing in this case. You would be very generous to remain attached and in bed for nine months, but you are not morally obliged to do so. The parallel with the abortion case is evident. The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: 'right to life' and 'right to what is needed to sustain life.' The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter."
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-25 9:38:33 PM
Fact Check, you haven't done your usual due diligence here. Your argument in favour of abortion is based on one person's "thought experiment"? Sorry, but sound policy comes from facts and ethics, not fanciful what-ifs. And the facts of the matter are these:
1. The fetus is human.
2. The deliberate killing of a human is murder.
3. Abortion kills the fetus.
4. The woman had the option not to conceive and did so; therefore there are no grounds to claim it was beyond her control.
5. Therefore no abortion, unless the mother's own life is at risk.
Also, reference the "right to life, but not to what is necessary to sustain it" argument, you could say the same of a newborn baby, or even a school-age child not yet old enough to earn his living. You "would be very generous" indeed to tie yourself to this new life for just not nine months, but twenty YEARS. Yet once the child is born, the law requires you to provide that child with the necessities of life. How is it different for the unborn, which are much lower-maintenance?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 9:51:52 PM
Cold man, very cold. Fact Check, I hope you don't try to rationalize like that with your own kids. Most women I care to know would suffer nine months of hell for the sake of a child(born or unborn). It might not be rational, but it's productive.
Posted by: dp | 2008-09-25 9:59:57 PM
Actually, DP, all the thought experiments aside, the decisions either to keep or not to keep are both predicated on emotion (we are talking about women, after all). The difference is that one is profoundly selfish.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 10:44:52 PM
Your protestation against the thought experiment are silly, so I'll ignore it.
"Also, reference the 'right to life, but not to what is necessary to sustain it' argument, you could say the same of a newborn baby, or even a school-age child not yet old enough to earn his living."
When a woman decides not to terminate her pregnancy and deliver the child, she has consented to taking on the role of parent, which includes feeding and otherwise providing for the child until it reaches maturity. So the right of a newborn or school-age child to be provided for is based on the voluntary committment made by the mother.
Cold? Me? Firstly, I merely have argued that a libertarian must support abortion, not that *I* support it. Secondly, to say you have a right to something is not the same as saying it is a good thing to exercise that right. Libertarins (and I) support the right to free speech that includes the right to hurl insults at undeserving targets. Richard "Dick" Evans and all of us have the right to do that. But that does not mean that hurling insults at undeserving targets in a nice thing to do. So to believe that women have the right to have an abortion is not the same as thinking it's a nice thing to do.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-25 10:49:14 PM
1. Why is it silly? Because you have no reasoned comeback but still had to diss it to save a little face? Why should we base an important legal question on a mind game conceived by, of all people, a playwright?
2. When a woman CONCEIVES, she has consented to taking on the role of a parent. Pregnancy is completely avoidable, even with an active sex life. A child's right to life does not devolve on the mother's say-so; it has the same right to life every other human has. Life begins at conception. You're just arguing in circles.
And by the way, where are the FATHER'S rights in all this? Or do mere males not merit rights?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-25 10:58:51 PM
This has become tiresome, so this is my last reply to you.
Thought experiments are just elaborate hypotheticals. Nothing more. You used a hypothetical (about you shooting a cop) in the post right before the one where you attempted to dismiss thought experiments. Maybe you don't like what this one proves or maybe you just don't understand it, but that gives no basis for rejecting them completely, especially when you use one when it suits you.
"Why should we base an important legal question on a mind game conceived by, of all people, a playwright?"
A playwright? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! You know just enough about how to use google to make yourself look very foolish indeed.
"When a woman CONCEIVES, she has consented to taking on the role of a parent."
Conceiving is not an action, thus conceiving cannot confer consent. I know you don't understand that sentence I just wrote, but it is nevertheless true.
"Pregnancy is completely avoidable, even with an active sex life."
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Your knowledge of pregnancy makes you look even more silly (if that's possible). Read the article I linked to in my first reply in this thread and you will see how idiotic your claim here is.
"A child's right to life does not devolve on the mother's say-so; it has the same right to life every other human has."
So you not only didn't understand the thought experiment, you seem not to have even read it. Let me quote, one more time, part of the passage from it that answers you: "The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: 'right to life' and 'right to what is needed to sustain life.' The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter." I did not question the fetus' right to life. So your comments here oppose a claim that has not been made.
"And by the way, where are the FATHER'S rights in all this?"
If any person requires the use of another person's body to sustain their survival, they must get the consent of that person in order to use their body. So if the fetus does not get the consent of the woman, then that's the end of the story. If the fetus has no right to force a woman to remain pregnant, the father hos no right to force her either. So long as it is her body, it is her liberty that is in question, so the libertarian answer to the abortion question can be summed up as: Her body, her choice.
In fact, in any circumstances unrelated to abortion it is pretty obvious that the libertarian position is "my body, my choice." Should people be allowed to take drugs? "My body, my choice." Should people be allowed to ride a motorcycle without a helmet? "My body, my choice." Should people be allowed to work as prostitutes? "My body, my choice." Sell organs for transplant? "My body, my choice."
I'm sure you will have more questions to ask now, Shane. But unless you pay me to read and reply to your posts, I'm going back to ignoring you. My body, my choice.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-25 11:54:38 PM
"Here's an article that quite clearly and simply explains why libertarians have to support keeping abortion legal"
Any philosophy or ideology that posits that you can kill another innocent human being is BS.
If you can kill innocents and deprive them of the right to life-- their most important right-- that's not liberty, that's tyranny.
We have obligations towards other human beings, and the first is to respect the right to life.
Posted by: SUZANNE | 2008-09-26 6:24:44 AM
Let's take another look at it.
Suppose I could shrink you, Fact Check and stick you inside a woman's body. Would she have the right to vacuum you?
There's a difference between saving someone who is sick and doing nothing to respect life.
We're not individually compelled to treat the sick and the dying.
But we're required not to take action to terminate life.
Posted by: SUZANNE | 2008-09-26 6:30:52 AM
"Suppose I could shrink you, Fact Check and stick you inside a woman's body. Would she have the right to vacuum you?"
This sounds like a variation on the violinist story, so the answer should be the same. If it is a violation of a person's liberty to require that they - against their will - remain attached to the violinist (which it is), then surely it is just as much a violation of a person's liberty to require that they remain attached to a srunken version of me stuffed inside them. As with the example of hurling insults I used earlier, there is a difference between what a person has a right to do and what is the nice thing to do. We might think the person is very mean, nasty, rotten, uncaring, even evil if they refuse to remain connected to the violinist, the shrunken me, or a fetus, but it would still remain their right to do so - a right the state must protect.
In response to the violinist story, Philippa Foot introduced the first so-called "trolley problem" which she and Thompson wrote quite a lot about subseqently. Here's a variation on a trolley problem:
Suppose you are sitting on a trolley track near the top of a hill. A trolley is rolling slowly toward you. If you stay where you are on the track, the trolley will hit you causing injuries no worse than a couple of cuts and bruises, but the trolley will also be stopped. If you get up and out of the way, the trolley will roll down a hill, gathering speed, and hit and kill another person on the track below.
Should the law require that you sit on the track and take the injury in order to save the other person's life? Here the answer seems to me to be the same. You would be a very mean, nasty, rotten, uncaring, even evil person if you did not stay on the track, but a law requiring you to remain there against your will would be a violation of your liberty, and so would be a very bad law.
Non-libertarians might come up with a different answer. A more utilitarian kind of view would say that when the injuries or inconvenience to one person is relatively minor and the benefits to another persom are very great that the law can compel them to do that which they don't want to do. But then again, such a view also makes taxation to redistribute property from the very rich to the very poor a legitimate power of the state for the same reasons. Libertarians can and often will maintain that it is a very mean, nasty, rotten, uncaring, even evil person who, if they are very rich, does nothing to help the very poor. But they also maintain that it is their right to be mean, nasty, rotten, uncaring, even evil and that the state has no legitimate authority to force one person to help another.
Requiring women to carry a fetus and let it feed off her flesh against their will is just an extreme form of socialism. Who'd've thunk it?
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 7:17:39 AM
1. Yes, I’m sure it has. Nothing is more frustrating than wracking your brain for hours and still being unable to answer a simple question.
2. Agreed: Thought experiments are elaborate hypotheticals. It was therefore inappropriate for you to offer one as an excuse for abortion. My own example wasn’t so much a hypothetical as simply plugging different players into the same equation to see if the result would be similar in yours eyes. Apparently it wasn’t. Which was the intention.
3. Then be more specific.
4. The action that results in conception is entirely by consent. Precautions exist to prevent pregnancy. Use them or accept the consequence.
5. Your Joker-like laugh is doing considerable harm to your carefully cultivated image of “Fact Checker,” smartass. My wife and I had an active sex life for ten years before she got pregnant—and that was within mere weeks of actually trying for kids. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. I’ve DONE it.
6. Again, why are we basing an important legal matter on A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT? The law says that all humans have a right to life, period. Fetuses are not currently recognized as persons but that call was made purely for political reasons and, strictly speaking, is contrary to common law.
7. Unless the person consents by getting pregnant.
8. Unless there is demonstrable harm to others or society. Absolute libertarianism would allow someone to lop your head for any reason or no reason. How far down that particular road do you wish to travel?
9. Consider your surrender accepted, Fact Check.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 8:09:54 AM
Fact Check: "Requiring women to carry a fetus and let it feed off her flesh against their will is just an extreme form of socialism."
And to think, you owe your survival to just such a piece of socialism. Ingrate.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 8:11:52 AM
P.S. And the trolley question doesn't address the issue of how the equation would change if the trolley was rolling because you set it in motion, as you do by getting yourself pregnant. It also doesn't address the possibility of hopping aboard and pulling the brake, or calling to the other person to get out of the way. Or the reality that no single human could hope to stop even the slowest-moving trolley; resting masses range from 6 to 30 tonnes--empty.
That's the trouble with such contrived situations; they're not an accurate reflection of reality. Mostly they're just idle distractions for philosophy students. At any rate, they're certainly not sound enough to serve as foundations for public policy. QED.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 8:24:51 AM
Fact Check doesn't seem to understand that actions have consequences and that causes have effects. If a woman allows herself to be inseminated (action), there is the reasonable expectation that conception will take place (consequence). Upon dropping her drawers, the woman is accepting the associated risk. It is at that point that she makes the decision that will effect her for the next 20 years.
OH, and Fact Check; Abstinence, when implemented, is 100% effective. Babies don't get made unless there's some jiggy goin' on. Period. That's one eternal truth that you can't philosophize your way out of...
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-09-26 8:32:20 AM
One fact that FC seems to be missing.
WIthout defending the sanctity of human life, a person devalues his own existence.
What is ‘choice,' other than a weasel-word which describes a whole series of options?
I choose life.
Seems to me FC has chosen something that does not fully celebrate the miracle of life.
Posted by: set you free | 2008-09-26 9:18:11 AM
Yes, FC is really struggling on this one. Perhaps it's because there is no really rational argument for abortion, unless you want to go to the extremes of Malthusianism and eugenics.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 9:23:01 AM
You obviously did not read the article I linked at the start of this discussion. Here's the link again: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/colb/20080915.html You should be interested because the article shows that if the argument you just made is sound, then Sarah Palin - or any other woman who gets an amniocentesis - has consented to an abortion in the event that the amniocentesis results in a miscarriage. So by your own logic it is merely a matter of luck that Palin is not a baby murderer. I (and the author of the article) think that this is an absurd conclusion, but it's your logic, not ours, that leads to it.
Stop living up to your name, Dick, and read a little. You might actually learn something.
"One fact that FC seems to be missing. WIthout defending the sanctity of human life, a person devalues his own existence."
I'm not missing anything here. I have argued that libertarians must defend keeping abortion legal. Even if we agree that abortion *does* devalue the existence of the person who gets the abortion, it is their existence. So if it is their existence they should have the right to devalue it if they want to do so. Their existence, their choice.
At best, you have given a reason for thinking that no woman should ever have an abortion. But that is not yet an argument for thinking it is legitimate for the state to prevent a woman from so doing. Just as with the other examples I gave (prostitution, drug use, etc) some might think they are inherently degrading to the person who does them or disrespectful of the value of human life. we can all agree that this is true, yet still defend to the death a person's right to degrade and disrespect themselves. That's what liberty is all about. Choices. Even self-destructive choices.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 9:26:53 AM
1. Your chicanery machine is really working overtime on this one. The amniocentesis procedure's chances of fetal harm are virtually zero, especially today, when the needle is guided by ultrasound. Granted it carries some risk, but so does walking down a flight of stairs. Guess every mom-to-be in a multi-story dwelling is a potential murderess.
2. What makes you think everyone here is a libertarian, or that libertarianism--especially the extreme form you espouse--is the only legitimate social model? Most libertarians just want less government interference in their lives. That doesn't mean they lose respect for life in the process. Libertarians also generally favour personal responsibility, and if you create a life, you are responsible for that life. It doesn't "just happen," it is the product of something YOU did. And unlike prostitution, drug use, and the other things you mention, abortion directly harms not you, but SOMEONE ELSE. Better crack that biology textbook again, FC.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 9:46:18 AM
Self-destructive choices obviously exist.
In most cases, those actions are the symptom of a failure of parents to instill and refine the fundamentals of a moral compass.
I understand that now, after screwing up with my oldest child.
With the two children in my second marriage, we got it right.
I'll try to keep it simple as possible.
1) At birth we are blessed with the gift of free will.
2) There are a variety of options and choices open to us all, some good and some, for lack of a better phrase, self-destructive.
3) Each individual must be aware of all the options and base his decision on what is best for them.
The most important thing, IMHO, a parent can do is teach their children how to make good decisions.
Before expanding this topic, do you agree or disagree so far?
Your move next.
Posted by: set you free | 2008-09-26 9:48:13 AM
FC "...has consented to an abortion in the event that the amniocentesis results in a miscarriage."
No, the mother has consented to a medical procedure that may or may not have an adverse effect. Abortion has nothing to do with it. More to the point, however, yes, consent has been given for the procedure to be performed.
Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-09-26 9:54:27 AM
To add a neurological (and *gasp* an evolutionary) twist to these mind games ...
possible conclusion: the libertarian perspective on abortion (and all other issues) is a matter of 'accounting' for actions and we actually access a different part of the brain than ... when we go to an absolutist perspective on abortion, which is a 'moral' derivation of historically and socially constructed norms.
This is where attempts to share a space between the libertarian purist and the conservative purist are actually incommensurable. (Can you see the ironies in this?)
Posted by: holographic | 2008-09-26 9:57:53 AM
"1) At birth we are blessed with the gift of free will."
"2) There are a variety of options and choices open to us all, some good and some, for lack of a better phrase, self-destructive."
"3) Each individual must be aware of all the options and base his decision on what is best for them."
Must be? All? Well, it is a very good thing to be as aware as possible of as many as possible. So it is a very good thing for parents, teachers, etc. to help make children as aware as they can (which is why sex ed that goes far beyond abstinence ed is important, but I digress) and it is a very good thing for an older child or adult to actively seek out as much information as they can. But in virtually all cases we will, as a practical matter, lack some information about available options or their consequences. But I think we are in basic agreement here so far.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 10:00:43 AM
I think you are essentially right here, which is why I have not claimed that the libertarian and the conservative can come to some agreement on the issue. I have merely been pointing out what the libertarian position must be. The replies of others that there must be something wrong with this reasoning is either their inability to understand the libertarian position or their inability to see that the libertarian position is not at all internally inconsistent. Just different.
I would, however, contest the idea that the other POV in the debate is "conservative". It is not conservative so much as it is just religious ideology. Good religious people learn that God does not like abortions and God wants good people to prevent bad people from having them. That is not "conservative" thinking, it is merely riligious dogma. As I pointed out before, it is actually *socialist* thinking that presents a political alternative to the libertarian view. The socialist, who thinks that people can be compelled to share by force, could argue that forcing a woman to sacrifice her liberty for the welfare of another person is legitimate.
Of course, most socialists don't argue this way. They typically either think that there is a difference between socializing property and socializing the human body (eg; you can legitimately force a person to share their money with the destitute, but you cannot legitimately force a person to give a blood transfusion to someone who needs it.) or they are committed to the idea that a fetus is not a person, thus a fetus has no rights.
But then again, "conservative" is not a stable political ideology like "libertarian" or "socialist" is. There is no basic "conservative" political principle as their is for the other two schools of thought. It's just a hodge-podge of Old Testiment religious-based ideas on social policy (no abortion, no gay marriage, the harshest forms of retributive justice possible) with a dash of libertarianism on economic policy.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 10:18:40 AM
Fact Check wrote: "But then again, "conservative" is not a stable political ideology like "libertarian" or "socialist" is. There is no basic "conservative" political principle as their is for the other two schools of thought. It's just a hodge-podge of Old Testiment religious-based ideas on social policy (no abortion, no gay marriage, the harshest forms of retributive justice possible) with a dash of libertarianism on economic policy."
So your argument here is that the contents of the Old Testament have subject to continuous change since it was written 3,000 years ago? Astonishing! Things have come full circle, then, for the Old Testament that was written then and must have undergone extensive revision during the medieval and early modern period had somehow morphed back into exactly what it said then, unless the Dead Sea Scrolls are forgeries.
You Lefties would have a bit more credibility if you would just abandon your addiction to dissing Christians, Jews, and Muslims (who all read the Old Testament and who, collectively, make up over half the world's population). You're excluding half the human race from legitimacy by something as mundane as force of habit.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 11:05:00 AM
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