Rights occur in a more general moral context. Morality is a set of
principles for achieving values. It is the fact that humans are of real
value to each other that supplies the valuative component that gives the
concept substance. In a lifeboat situation, where other humans are of
definite disvalue - not enough food, air, space, whatever - rights no longer
apply. Morality still applies in the lifeboat - it tells you to kill first
and best, because that's in your self-interest.
To reiterate, in anything approaching normal society, however, other humans
- collectively at minimum, and hopefully, individually on a case by case
bases - are the most valuable thing in the universe to date. Most of the
things that make life worthwhile are provided by the fact that there are
billions of other selfish humans out there.
The unborn and young children may or may not be of value to anyone else, on
a case by case basis. There is nothing in objective morality that demands
that anyone, parent or otherwise, sacrifice their self-interest for the
survival of foetuses or anyone else. It is easily observable, however, that
many more people in present-day society want children and are willing to
spend huge sums to raise them than there are children available. (Much -
probably most - of this is due to the evil social workers who block
adoptions because they undercut their livelihood in the social services /
foster-care system, as has been thoroughly documented.)
No one can morally force someone to raise an unwanted child. But, as I
mention above, in a normal society, the great value that people are to one
another ensures that very few children are genuinely unwanted. To claim
that anyone has the "right" to live at someone else's expense, however,
invalidates the very concept of rights itself.
In previous postings, I have discussed ideas for actually enhancing the
value of children and other humans to each other. The concept of investing
in children - or adults - is hardly new. What is new is the notion that the
newer financial vehicles and information systems make this process extremely
feasible and potentially profitable far beyond buying stock in traditional
investment vehicles such as corporations or trusts.
A fluid international (post-national eventually, as this idea has the
possibility of actually obsoleteing the nation-state) system of sureties,
bonds, local monitoring - as with the micro-loans system - and low-cost
arbitration makes it possible to concieve of mass investments in people as
individuals, whether case by case or through mutual fund type arrangements.
In a system in which it would be profitable for a 1st worlder to invest
directly in the education of a child in central Africa - the payback coming
in the value of the negotiable shares - the value of individual people would
become much more apparent and explicit. It would be much harder to ignore a
person's humanity or pretend that they were worthless because of the wrong
skin color or religion, etc.
In such a world, it would be rare for a late-term abortion or actual child
abandonment to happen.
>From: Robert Bradbury <email@example.com>
>Subject: Re: rights for late-term and yet unborn human beings...
>Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 11:51:33 -0500 (EST)
>On Fri, 21 Jan 2000, john grigg wrote:> > Isn't a late-term fetus (last
>trimester) to be honest a... baby? Semantics
> > are used to make something appear not so human and so more easily
>Its a semenatic issue. The collection of information contained in
>a late-term fetus (leaving aside the question of information growth
>due to the experience of the parents), probably falls into the category
>of semi-easily reproducible. On the other hand the information
>contained in a 2 year old is many many orders of magnitude above this.
>Instead of pushing the valuation back towards the younger end of the
>spectrum, it is probably much more rational to push it *ahead*
>to the older end of the spectrum (though this flies in the face
>of the emotional ties that soft wet cuddly babies generate).
>I'd suspect that the first year or so of life is primarily involved
>in neural outgrowth laying the foundation for the huge pattern
>accumulation that is occurs in the 1-3 y.o. stage. Once you have in place
>the foundation for locomotion and speech recognition and production
>then the rate of accumulation of difficult-to-reproduce information
>goes up substantially (as would rational valuations on the proto-human).
> > I remember reading about a controversial philosophy professor who has
>put forward the idea that children up to a certain time after birth should
>be under "probation" as to whether or not they are allowed to live by the
>parents. There have been protests at the college that recently hired him
>to try to kick him out.
>Irrational people know no limits. Seems like a reasonable and logical
>strategy to me. Though it depends what he uses to judge the "probation"
>period. Past problems with gene defects (that might provide a rationale
>due to the "poor investment") will soon be correctable. So the question is
>how do you decide who has a right to life and who doesn't??
>[Oh the thought police are going to get me for that comment...]
> > Of course ancient cultures like the Spartans and also I believe the
>Vikings did this. But they were warrior societies that wanted only the fit
>to survive to produce the best fighters and parents.
>I believe the current investment in Western countries for raising
>children to adulthood is running around $500K. For that price those
>babies had better be giving you a *lot* of emotional "stroking".
>If you can't get that stroking (from a retarded or autistic child
>for example), then the only rationalization is compassion. As the
>state of the world shows, compassion is a limited resource and
>people should look a little more closely at how they allocate theirs.
>[Please don't flame me for the above, I have a huge amount of compassion
>but I tend to allocate mine towards humanity in general rather than
>specific instances of humanity.]
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