Re: Tough Questions

Edgar W Swank (
Tue Sep 07 09:52:19 1999 PST wrote on Sun, 5 Sep 1999 10:30:23 EDT

In a message dated 99-08-31 16:25:24 EDT,
(Lee Daniel Crocker) wrote:

> (1) Children's rights.
> It is intellectually consistent, and even rationally defensible in
> some ways, to believe that children have no rights at all and are
> entirely subject to the whim of parents on whom they are dependent.

I, for one, disagree that this is an intellectually consistent or rationally defensible point of view. I refer to the long post I made a week ago or so regarding "Mind abuse" for a more complete discussion of my own "morality of mind", in which I propose that an information processing system as complex and full of potential as a human child has significant rights vis-a-vis adults (including her parents). A slightly different take on similar ethical issues arising from interaction between entities with disparate mental abilities is discussed in my essay "Extropian Ethics and the Extrosattva" at

The referenced passage seems to be

How do these ideas and values translate into the transhuman and posthuman world? First, we will continue to live our lives somewhere along a spectrum of capability, i.e. in at least some aspects of our lives -- no matter how long or augmented -- our individual power, wealth and knowledge will be greater than that of some individuals and less than others. We will need to cooperate -- trade -- with moral entities both more and less powerful than ourselves, and we will need to do so on an ongoing basis. In fact, as immortalists, we expect that we will do so on an indefinitely extended basis. It will be a very long game, indeed. And throughout this game, our moral reputations will be just as important as the specifics of any isolated trade within any such hierarchy of capabilities.

But an infant has nothing to trade and and obligations can't be enforced against a child. So I agree with Crocker except that the child has one right, to run away. This, I think, was also Murray Rothbard's view, although I can't quote a source.

The current situation, which I call a "cult of the child," where children have all the "rights" and the parents have none, is just slavery of the productive parents to the unproductive child and I have a hard time justifying that!

I think the problem of enforcing contracts made by/with children can be solved if a court (of a government or defense agency) approves it in advance, possibily with the advice of a lawyer or advocate appointed to represent the child's interests. If the court doesn't approve the contract, then the court won't enforce it.

Children have the right to run away, and fend for themselves. This works fairly well right now in many 3rd world countries. c.f. "street children." Another possibility is a "Kiddy Pound" where parents can bring unwanted children or children can run away to. Hopefully, an acceptable parent can be found for every child brought in. But if not, then the child can be put back on the street. Or, perhaps, if stray children become a pest, an unwanted child can be "put to sleep" as we now do to unwanted pets. I don't see how "society" has any motivation to protect a child which NONE of its citizens wants.

Edgar W. Swank <>

Edgar W. Swank   <>
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