February 25, 2013

"Government isn't an all-purpose social-utility machine just waiting to help us make better decisions..."

"... if only we'd be willing to give up our stubborn adherence to the principle of individual autonomy."
Even if we were to set aside all our cherished notions about how liberty is intrinsically good, it would still make sense to be skeptical of whether regulators know or care about the full consequences of their regulations.
And:
If helping people involves insulating them from the natural consequences of their actions, this could "nudge" them to be more irrational. For instance, everyone knows that students sometimes act irrationally: they procrastinate, they write substandard papers when they're capable of doing better, they turn work in late, etc. Given these realities, it's an open question how teachers should nudge students to do less of this kind of thing. The teacher who's willing to give any grade from an A+ to an F- might be more effective than the teacher who gives everyone a B+ or A-.
"Nudge" is in quotes because the author of the linked post — disclosure:  he's my son — is talking about an article — which we discussed recently — written by Cass Sunstein, who's made "nudge" his buzzword.

I wonder if the tendency to lean libertarian or fascist has more to do with how much you love autonomy or more to do with how much you trust government.

(Sorry about writing "libertarian or fascist." I know it's inflammatory. I was going to put "right or left," but it just didn't make sense. Some righties are out to control us, and some lefties — especially on some issues — love autonomy.)

191 comments:

Brew Master said...

I think the dividing line is probably how much you trust others to make decisions for you.

Calypso Facto said...

If helping people involves insulating them from the natural consequences of their actions, this could "nudge" them to be more irrational.

Exhibit A: National Flood Insurance Program

Jay said...

and some lefties — especially on some issues — love autonomy

I can only think of 2.

Abortion
Gay Marriage

And the Gay Marriage is not really "autonomy" since it is coming via judicial fiat.

AprilApple said...

Remove all consequences and watch it all decline.

edutcher said...

A lot of the "research" quoted by jaltcoh is influenced by people's willingness to accept the idea the Socialist "safety net" will save them.

Go back a century and people were much more perspicacious, I'm betting.

PS Considering he's the biggest manufacturer of all purpose social utility regulations, he's going off the rail the way Ann has. If he's not careful, machine and the She Devil of the SS will be on his neck.

PPS And the Libertarians are less about liberty than they are not being inconvenienced. they just expect everybody should do it their way.

PPPS The use of fascist here is really unwise. Democrats can be just as oppressive.

May I suggest the dichotomy is lovers of liberty vs regimentarians?

traditionalguy said...

Reality therapy. Anyone who has had dealings with a Federal Agency knows they are not on the side of anyone except them selves seeking power, and will produce no simple work of the Agency without a 3 to 9 month wait until they punt again with another faked Need for more Forms or extra information as your reply leaving you stranded in limbo.

There has been a slow cooked frog transition since around 1996 when the gradual retirements of service, oriented well trained (dare I say white) workers became a tsunami of retirements until no one was left that remembers the Agency's mission or how its actually done.

traditionalguy said...

Anyone who listens to "trust me" from another person handling your money will wake up poor. The other person always does it for their benefit and not your benefit.

Shouting Thomas said...

White European and American culture is far too rational. Women who hate babies. Everybody wanting to be a fag in order to escape the consequences of childbirth and rearing. Men who want to spend their adult lives playing video games and playing out the Heartiste crap. Idiocracy played out in real life.

The emotional deadness of white culture is what everybody is rebelling against. The dullness and lack of action. It's terrible. Nothing ever happens.

Government can't fix this. It's probably irrelevant to the problem. Autonomy isn't really the problem either.

The old masculine culture of action and adventure is what is missing. Feminism isn't just wrong. The problem isn't just that it leads to a nanny state. The overwhelming problem is that it brings the dead boring security culture of middle and upper class white women into control.

Death by boredom.

Scott M said...

I wonder if the tendency to lean libertarian or fascist has more to do with how much you love autonomy or more to do with how much you trust government.

What if it's tied to a subconscious lack of self-confidence?

Shouting Thomas said...

In other words, we don't need more people living their lives by the balance sheet and "making better decisions."

That's precisely the problem. We're dying of boredom and inaction already.

Larry J said...

edutcher said...
A lot of the "research" quoted by jaltcoh is influenced by people's willingness to accept the idea the Socialist "safety net" will save them.


When my granddaughter was a toddler, she was absolutely fearless. She knew that no matter how high she climbed, someone would be there to catch her. She's 8 years old now and has learned that gravity isn't just a good idea, it's the law. As a result, she's quite a bit more cautious.

Stupidity should be painful. If it actually hurt to do something stupid, you'd have less stupidity. Instead, we've instituted a $1 trillion "entitlement" system (completely separate from Social Security and Medicare) to shield people from their stupid decisions. In effect, we're subsidizing stupidity so no one should be surprised when we get more of it.

Nonapod said...

I think a lot of people seem to place a great deal of faith in government in the abstract. They hold to a belief that there is this group of very smart, very talented people out there who are just naturally both selfless and wise This group of people will know better how to make decisions than you will. In other worlds, believers in big government think that it's about getting this mythical right group of people in power.

It's difficult to explain people that think this way that there is no such thing as this group of truly wise and altruistic people, people who are born to lead. History has demonstrated over and over again that when power is consolidated amongst a small oligarchy that it leads to nothing but trouble for everyone else.

EMD said...

The old masculine culture of action and adventure is what is missing. Feminism isn't just wrong. The problem isn't just that it leads to a nanny state. The overwhelming problem is that it brings the dead boring security culture of middle and upper class white women into control.

Death by boredom.


To Mars!

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann - you have the makings of a thoughtful conservative here with JAltCoh.

Let us all start with an agreement that humans sometimes make bad decisions. Some people make many bad decisions, and all people make some.

It is an easy response to that, that we will trust a philosopher king to make the correct decisions for us. But, we don't live in a world of perfect people (and, hence the failure of any Utopian attempts), and governments are formed of people. There are the politicians who decide what a government is going to do, and the bureaucrats who are supposed to carry out their will.

The politicians are not truly interested in what is in your best interest, rather, they are more interested in their own best interests, and that very often means reelection, and that often means catering to those who are best positioned to effect that.

And, the bureaucrats are also not truly overly concerned with what is in your best interests, at least when it conflicts with their own best interests, which often include less work and hassle, while garnering more power, pay, and benefits.

In other words, both the politicians and the government workers are just as human as the rest of us. They most often operate with their own best interests at the forefront. So, now why would they make better decisions for you than you would, especially, since you would have your own best interests at the forefront, as they have theirs?

Revenant said...

"Libertarian or totalitarian" would probably have been a better way to put that.

edutcher said...

Shouting Thomas said...

In other words, we don't need more people living their lives by the balance sheet and "making better decisions."

That's precisely the problem. We're dying of boredom and inaction already.


The Blonde likes to say, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room".

This is usually followed by me picking up her pieces and getting her to ER.

As they say in the Army, "There's a difference between brave and stupid". Shout thinks being on the edge is cool. It is when you're 16 and you think everything will mend overnight.

You get a little older (and acquire some scar tissue) and you understand there are reasonable risks and there are the risks preceded by, "Hey, y'all, watch this!", and followed by a closed casket.

The trick is knowing the difference. The people who moved from Pennsylvania to Oregon weren't so much risk-takers as they were misinformed about the realities of what could happen.

AprilApple said...

The most hard-ass teachers I remember were the teahers who stated: "If you don't turn in your paper by X, it's an automatic F".

did I say hard-ass? I meant- these were the best teachers.

Now it's all teachers union Howard Zinn Paul Krugman blame amerika worhsip obama yes i'm a communist but if you hear someone call you a communist you will scream "McCarthy!"... don't worry about turning in your paper on time everyone gets a B and you don't have to pay back your student loan it's the evil banks fault. Look over there --creationists! Obama will tax the rich and they will pay for it.
skool.

Scott M said...

The people who moved from Pennsylvania to Oregon weren't so much risk-takers as they were misinformed about the realities of what could happen.

If you have any maturity whatsoever, the amount of risk you are willing to take on should drop precipitously when small children are relying you. A spouse, not so much...after all you're both supposed to be adults and co-supportive.

SJ said...

RE: Libertarian vs. Fascist.

I'm reminded of a quote attributed to sci-fi author (and occasional social commentator) Robert A. Heinlein.

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

bpm4532 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bpm4532 said...

Sunstein's view's rapidly approach reprehensible. Yes, people make choices that are sub-optimal even destructive by another person's viewpoint, but others make choices that are super-optimal and constructive, so in the aggregate they all make the correct choice. The attempt to define behavior and control others is the surest way to not only eliminate the very sub-optimal, but also eliminate the super-optimal. Moreover, the inability to define optimal relegates a society to embrace the slightly less-than optimal as the standard, thus leading to the destruction of society

Seeing Red said...

The irony is the ones who busted government wide open, don't trust anyone over 30 now wants fealty to their supposed superior intelligence, wisdom, guidance and all-around googooness.

Paul said...

People learn from their mistakes. It's called the 'learning curve' for a reason. Without positive or negatve feedback one does not see what works and what does not.

So if you take away the consequences of mistakes, they don't learn. And take away the ability to make those decisions does the same thing.

They won't learn.

And that is alot of what is happening today.

And why when harsh reality sets in so many are shocked. They had no idea a bad decision could, you know, hurt.

Hagar said...

"Fascist" gets a reaction for other reasons. Say "statist" instead.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think a lot of people seem to place a great deal of faith in government in the abstract. They hold to a belief that there is this group of very smart, very talented people out there who are just naturally both selfless and wise This group of people will know better how to make decisions than you will. In other worlds, believers in big government think that it's about getting this mythical right group of people in power.

I think that most of us figure this out fairly quickly. With me, I think that it may have started with cops lying on the witness stand when I was just out of college. This was followed by a short stint with the city of Denver, where I was chastised for doing too much work, making the rest of the auditors look bad. Then, fifteen years as an employee and then contractor with the federal government, working with better than a half a dozen agencies, including Census, NOAA, IRS, and a number of DoE national laboratories.

My Census experience was illuminating. A bunch of highly motivated, highly skilled programmers, were hired for the 1980 Decennial Census. We were brought into an agency with a lot of dead wood, with GS-12 programmers who had taken on-the-job retirement. They couldn't and wouldn't do their jobs, and couldn't be fired because management couldn't trust them with GS-12 work, with the high profile deadlines involved. So, they were pushed to the side, in dead-wood branches, and then, after the Census, those branches were chopped off. Fine, except that they had bumping rights, which meant that the younger, more motivated, much higher performing programmers were the ones ultimately let go.

Over my years working in and with the government, I met plenty of highly motivated and skilled employees. The problem is that many weren't, and they were often the ones who were able to rise to power.

One of the big problems with government and government workers is that there is no bottom line, like you find in small and medium sized businesses. There was no single metric that could be applied to the work done or the employees involved to determine whether a good or bad job was done. Rather, there were multiple conflicting goals, and the employees involved would invariably pick and choose what they thought was more important. Thus, as an absurd example, we have NASA worrying more, it seems, about Islamic outreach than space exploration.

edutcher said...

If so, Heinlein didn't know much about people. There are always gradations.

Granted, many will go along to get along, but the rest will have different points where enough is too much.

AprilApple said...

The most hard-ass teachers I remember were the teahers who stated: "If you don't turn in your paper by X, it's an automatic F".

did I say hard-ass? I meant- these were the best teachers.


Not always. There were always a few mean ones, but I see your point about the ones who didn't cut any slack when it came to standards.

Larry J said...

Nonapod said...
I think a lot of people seem to place a great deal of faith in government in the abstract. They hold to a belief that there is this group of very smart, very talented people out there who are just naturally both selfless and wise This group of people will know better how to make decisions than you will. In other worlds, believers in big government think that it's about getting this mythical right group of people in power.


Government is a blunt instrument wielded by fools, knaves and the corrupt.

Those who say things like "it would've worked if the right people were in charge" invariably mean they themselves should be in charge. And they're invariably wrong.

Nonapod said...

Human beings aren't ants. We aren't intrinsically fungible automatons. We enjoy exercising our free will, and we become unhappy when the ability to do so is prohibited. The more that our free will is compromised, the less happy we will become. The more our freedom is curtailed, the less hope we have. As more limitations are placed on us our desire to work harder diminishes.

People who have lived under Communism under stand this simple truth. But strangely it's a truth that eludes a lot of people who have grown up so much freedom. And it's a truth that escapes most well meaning people who call themselves "progressives".

Seeing Red said...

"In God We Trust, all others pay cash."

Works for my family.

BDNYC said...

I generally oppose statism on both sides, but leftwing statism concerns itself broadly with economic and social justice issues, which means it tends to inflict the greatest and most lasting damage to the country. So I can better tolerate rightwing statism, despite my revulsion at the overbearing religiosity, moral intrusiveness, etc.

Tim said...

Brew Master said...

"I think the dividing line is probably how much you trust others to make decisions for you."

Idealistically, maybe so.

In reality, the dividing line is how much you think you will depend upon others to pay your bills, and how much you rationalize them doing so is morally proper.

EMD said...

"Don't trust anyone over 30! Except me, when I'm over 30."

Michael K said...

Speaking of Heinlein:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein

Methadras said...

Which righties are out to control us, professor?

Nomennovum said...

"Sorry about writing "libertarian or fascist." I know it's inflammatory. I was going to put "right or left," but it just didn't make sense. Some righties are out to control us, and some lefties — especially on some issues — love autonomy.)"

The reason you are having these problems, Ann, is that, in politics, "left" and "right" really have no objective meaning at the end of the day. There are two types people in this world: those that believe in using government to collectively manage human beings in the pursuit of some purported goal or goals and those that don't. The rest -- economics, religion, ethnicity, sex -- is just noise.

So, yes, "fascism" and "libertarianism" is better than "right" or "left," but its not perfect. I need to think of a better set of terms.

AJ Lynch said...

I bet Sunstein is using anecdotal evidence to claim people make bad decisions and are overly optimistic. He is a Dem and so he creates govt programs in response to community organizers' complaints and then assumes the average individual can't make it without Big Brother from The Imperial City [heh I may have just coined a new nickname for Obama].

Mark said...

Re: Right v. Left == Libertarian v. Authoritarian -- Virginia Postrel wrote a great book about this false dichotomy. You might consider plugging "The Future and Its Enemies" in this post.

Who knows, it could mean a couple of bucks to this establishment.

Palladian said...

Which righties are out to control us, professor?

For starters there are a lot of whining, tiresome old fuckers in this thread who have no problem with the idea of governmental social engineering.

AJ Lynch said...

I am in favor of govt social engineering if that means blowing up many and I mean many of the entrenched and useless govt social welfare programs.

Scott M said...

The Future and Its Enemies

I actually bought this one recently for book research. Though, with only 30 minute slices of evening after-the-kids-go-to-bed-and-before-run-out-of-gas time to dedicate to reading or proofreading, I haven't gotten very far into the weeds with it.

I'm not at all convinced, so far, that libertarian vs authoritarian is a false dichotomy. If you hold that, on any given issue greater centralized control is "left" while less government regulation on the issue is "right, than the extremes are tyranny and anarchy.

I have seen cogent arguments that show loops instead of lines, but that doesn't change the fact that an extreme authoritarian is the opposite of an extreme (or simply pure) anarchist.

Marshal said...

Tim said...
Brew Master said...

"I think the dividing line is probably how much you trust others to make decisions for you."

Idealistically, maybe so.

In reality, the dividing line is how much you think you will depend upon others to pay your bills, and how much you rationalize them doing so is morally proper.


I think this mixes issues. Paying your bills is the bribe fascists offer in return for ceding your autonomy.

RichardS said...

The argument for checks and balances grew from the recognition that people are irrational in predictable ways and, therefore, we need to set up institutions that nudge elites to work for the public good, rather than allowing them to work in ways that make life better, or easier, more comfortable, etc., for them.
Does Sunstein allow that Professors are no less likely to act irrationally than are others?

RichardS said...

P.S. Is "autonomy" the same as liberty? Why or why not?

JackOfClubs said...

Sorry about writing "libertarian or fascist."

Perhaps a better dichotomy would be "individualist" vs. "collectivist" or "statist".

Nonapod said...

RichardS said...

The argument for checks and balances grew from the recognition that people are irrational in predictable ways and, therefore, we need to set up institutions that nudge elites to work for the public good, rather than allowing them to work in ways that make life better, or easier, more comfortable, etc., for them.


Perhaps the biggest goal the founders had was to keep power diffuse rather than concentrated. They had lived under the yoke of a strong centralized power (the Monarchy of England) and found it disagreeable. They were smart enough to not make a strong distinction between a Monarch and an elected official when it came to power. They understood the effect a great deal of power can have even with the best of intentions.

Scott M said...

Perhaps a better dichotomy would be "individualist" vs. "collectivist" or "statist".

Tyranny vs anarchy. How hard is that?

Tibore said...

""Government isn't an all-purpose social-utility machine just waiting to help us make better decisions if only we'd be willing to give up our stubborn adherence to the principle of individual autonomy."

Amen. Didn't George Will say something similar, along the lines of government being a "blunt object" instead of a 'surgical tool' or scalpel... something like that?

Original Mike said...

A government that can't find its own ass with both hands and a mirror is going to help me make better desicions?

Mark said...

Postrels point is that Liberty is pretty much always attacked by government, no matter who happens to control the government at a given time. That's kind of the nature of the beast.

RichardS said...

"They had lived under the yoke of a strong centralized power (the Monarchy of England) and found it disagreeable."
Is that correct? Or did they rebel when the government of the empire in London seemed determined to change things and become a powerful central authority, whereas it had only exercised limited power for most of the colonial era?

Franklin said...

Genuinely curious to know on which issues the professor thinks the Left likes liberty more than the Right.

Franklin said...

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

JackOfClubs said...

Scott M said...
Tyranny vs anarchy. How hard is that? 2/25/13, 1:36 PM


Too subjective and not descriptive. There are many types of tyranny, we are trying to specify the components of a particular kind. Also, anarchy isn't the only alternative to tyranny and usually results in a more brutal tyranny of the mob. It would be helpful to find a path between statism and anarchy, which is what I think America was originally about.

Maybe "individualism" isn't the right word either, but it at least expresses the intended focus. I personally like "liberal" or "libertarian" for this purpose, but both of those words have too much historical baggage to be much use.

ricpic said...

I thought you wrote libertarian or fascist the way Republican or conservative are linked nowadays. After all, those libertarians are pretty damned fascistically cruel about the consequences of their lack of compassion!

I Callahan said...

there are a lot of whining, tiresome old fuckers in this thread who have no problem with the idea of governmental social engineering.

I've seen no evidence of this. Who's advocating that?

Scott M said...

I've seen no evidence of this. Who's advocating that?

I took it as a backhanded insult to same-sex marriage opponents.

Bob_R said...

"I wonder if the tendency to lean libertarian or fascist has more to do with how much you love autonomy or more to do with how much you trust government." If you substitute the word "statist" for the word "fascist" the question answers itself.

As far as actually using the word "fascist" in an intelligent manner, or generating some reasonable discussion on the topic, forget it. Jonah Goldberg tried. It was a big money maker (and mostly a good book), but after the smoke settled the rules are still the same. The word can be used by the left against the right with no justification at all. It can't be used against the left no matter how much collectivism, statism, or cult of personality they embrace.

DADvocate said...

how much you love autonomy or more to do with how much you trust government.

No matter how much I trust government, I will always love autonomy more.

Many people seem to be horribly insecure and seek a government that protects them, care for them and resolves all negatives in their lives. Others want to force people to live according to their ideology Radical environmentialists and PETA types fall into this category along with your typical wingers on both sides.

Anyone who trusts government is a fool. When in the course of history have governments, or a government, been so trustworthy you wouldn't have had to be vigilant against it taking your rights, freedom, property, life, etc?

Tim said...

Marshall said...

"I think this mixes issues. Paying your bills is the bribe fascists offer in return for ceding your autonomy."

If by "fascists" you mean Democrats, then yes. If not, then no, I don't think so.

Today's Democrats (consistently since FDR, anyway) are utterly dependent upon votes bought by government social welfare and entitlement programs. Fostering dependency and then expanding that dependency is the primary impetus behind the Democrat Party. It's the primary reason behind Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now, the PPACA. It is, also, the reason behind the growing cries of alarm from the Democrats over the surpassingly small cuts resulting from the impending "sequestration."

If the Constitution were to disallow rent-seeking and wealth redistribution, the Democrat Party would wither for want of something to do.

I Callahan said...

I took it as a backhanded insult to same-sex marriage opponents.

That's what I was thinking too. Except that same-sex marriage IS governmental social engineering; traditional marriage isn't.

Chip S. said...

jaltcoh is onto something truly important here.

Sunstein and the behavioral economists treat decision-making skills as innate and fixed, but in reality there's a lot of learning-by-doing involved. "A calm sea doesn't make a skilled sailor" and all that.

The more bad choices the gov't protects us from, the more protecting we need. And gov't's competence at protecting us surely declines as the scope of its responsibility increases.

Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"(Sorry about writing "libertarian or fascist." I know it's inflammatory. I was going to put "right or left," but it just didn't make sense. Some righties are out to control us, and some lefties — especially on some issues — love autonomy"

To me, it's no surprise that lefties/Marxists want autonomy for themselves. That is probably one of their strongest identifiers. Totalitarians including Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao etc. will kill to achieve unlimited autonomy for themselves. Indeed, of all people, totalitarians are probably the ones who most prize their personal autonomy. On the other hand, leftiss/Marxist totalitarians are not willing to take responsibility for the results of their autonomy. They are wild teenagers who have never grown up. They are constantly challenging the traditional culture and breaking the rules without thinking about how their behavior will affect everyone else. They love to tell everyone else what to do, but they will not tolerate anyone telling them what to do. Many of them have rejected traditional religion and do not believe there are any universal standards of morality.

Dictators love rules, they love power and control, but they always exempt themselves from the rules which they apply to everyone else. When applying the rules to other people they are highly moralistic, but they never feel guilty for their own failings. This desire for personal autonomy is why the left/Marxists despise the constitutional restrictions on their power, which forces them to live under the rule of law.

The right is not a well defined group. Some groups such as the Nazis are sometimes called right wing, but that does not apply to our country. Here people classified on the right are usually conservatives who believe that the rule of law applies to everyone, including themselves. They are adults who accept responsibility for their own actions, and expect everyone else to do the same. They value the traditions which have worked in the past and are constantly looking to the future, at how changes to society will affect everyone over time. Generally they adhere to traditional religious beliefs and accept universal moral standards.

From my understanding of these groups, I think you have described leftists/marxists very well indeed. Although some of their economic policies in which government picks winners and losers are fascist, but their general orientation seems more Marxist to me.

Writ Small said...

"Libertarian or totalitarian" would probably have been a better way to put that.

Isn't that only slightly less inflamatory than "fascist?"

You could dial it down a bit more and use "authoritarian," but if you were shooting for neutrality - cruel or otherwise - you would have used "collectivist." No?

Sandi Denio said...

The reason why people think "that people should be able to go their own way, even if they end up in a ditch," is because they have little or no skin in the game.

This is also why the progressives want to soak the wealthy and eliminate more tax on low income. If only the wealthy have skin in the game it creates a wider entitlement base at the bottom, and ever increasing power for the left.

DavidD said...

How about if, instead of "libertarian or fascist", you wrote "anarchist or tyrant"?

And you're right--right versus left is a false dichotomy designed to keep people off-balance.

Scott M said...

And you're right--right versus left is a false dichotomy designed to keep people off-balance.

How was it "designed" that way?

Chip S. said...

How was it "designed" that way?

The members of the French Assembly of 1789 were a bunch of sneaky bastards.

DADvocate said...

Actually, I've been hoping the government would teach me to live far beyond my means and postppone paying it back forever.

Revenant said...

Tyranny vs anarchy. How hard is that?

It doesn't describe the problem space.

Revenant said...

Isn't [totalitarian] only slightly less inflamatory than "fascist?"

No, not really. "Totalitarian" simply describes any system in which the state recognizes little or no limit to scope of its authority. "Fascism" carries has a whole lot of baggage beyond that, as do "communism", "socialism", "Nazism", etc.

Michael K said...

"I bet Sunstein is using anecdotal evidence to claim people make bad decisions and are overly optimistic. He is a Dem and so he creates govt programs in response to community organizers' complaints"

Actually, the Democrats provide assistance for those making bad decisions to make more. In 1944, the black illegitimacy rate was 11%. Now it is 70%. What changed ?

Walter Williams says welfare is worse for blacks than slavery was.

Revenant said...

but if you were shooting for neutrality - cruel or otherwise - you would have used "collectivist."

No, not really. Collectivism vs individualism are two approaches to how an individual's role in society is seen. Totalitarianism vs libertarianism is about the scope of government power.

I didn't say "anarchy" because nobody of consequence seriously argues for anarchy or tries to implement it. That a government is necessary is basically a given; the debate is over its scope. Libertarian government is a government which does only those things which *only* a government can effectively do; totalitarian government is one which does everything, whether or not it could be done outside of government.

chrisnavin.com said...

Revenant, you'll find that the more you look, the less there is a libertarian consensus.

There is an anarchic wing, and maybe a few actual anarchists out there. There's a spectrum from Nozick's night-watchman state to more classical liberals, so in a sense you're correct.

Linertarians beef is often with collectivism, and seeking virtue under rationalist Enlightenment principles, the kind that most American progressives embrace and which vastly increase the size and scope of government.

Roy Childs put out an open letter to Ayn Rand advising her objectivism leads to anarchy.

EMD said...

We kicked the conservatives out of our bedrooms only to find our kitchens and dens swarming with liberals.

Astro said...

There was a song in the late 60s or early 70s titled 'Sunshine (Go Away Today)'.
The chorus included:
'He can't even run his own life,
I'll be damned if he'll run mine..."

mtrobertsattorney said...

Politically speaking, if we define "right" as a pre-disposition to distrust government and "left" as a predisposition to trust government, then the logical and furthest extreme of the "right" is anarchy, and the logical and furthest extreme the "left" is fascism.

chrisnavin.com said...

But many on the Left think they are extending freedom, not servitude to people. Equality is more like the French egalite. Rights on this view don't come from God, nor Natural Rights nor Law and we weren't born with them. It is the job of having the right people, with the right ideas in charge of pursuing this ideal, which is presumed to be universal. They will make more egalite, more justice, and the dread 'social justice', and the world and society will be a better place for it.

NPR, product of the 60's and the boomer generation drums it in your ears, or some version of this, every day. Harvard in the 60's was overrun by various such types and radicals who pushed the old liberal guard out of the way.

The government for such people is a means to an end, and while the perks are nice, Obama said it himself: 'The arc of history bends towards justice.'

This is partly what we're dealing with.

Pettifogger said...

edutcher said: "PPPS The use of fascist here is really unwise. Democrats can be just as oppressive."

I did not take "fascist" to exclude Democrats. It's a progressive conceit that one thing distinguishing conservatives from progressives is that conservatives are fascists. A few conservatives are but far more progressives fill the bill by my way of thinking.

Pettifogger said...

mtrobertsattorney said: "the logical and furthest extreme of the "right" is anarchy, and the logical and furthest extreme the "left" is fascism"

Perhaps true, though I think the distinction between communism and fascism in practice is minimal. I view the political spectrum as a circle. At one point on the circle, write complete freedom from restraint and opposite that, write complete government control. You can move from freedom to government control to the right via fascism or you can move there to the left via socialism and communism. But either way, you end up in much the same place.

Progressives are horrified by this view. And I caused my daughter to miss a test question once because of this. She tried to explain the political spectrum as a circle as she had heard me say, and the teacher counted her wrong. I explained to her that teachers are not always right.

chrisnavin.com said...

If you want to get a real flavor for libertarian thinking, Check out Pournelle's chart of political organization:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pournelle_chart_color.gif

Some libertarians, like liberals, are trying to come up with a rights based theory of man from the products of the Enlightenment. Others aren't, and why libertarians often seem quirky to conservatives, and closer to liberals, is because many conservatives see God, the Bible, Natural Rights, the deism of the founders etc as the moral source for our thinking and laws. To some extent, though, we've already been founded on Enlightenment principles.

Many conservatives are not on board with shaking loose the individual from such thinking (pro-porn, pro-marijuana legalization, pro gay marriage, anti-war) but do support the economic freedom, and the anti-collectivism of libertarians when we've got a progressive President in power.

Libertarians draw a circle around the individual and proceed from there, and right now, Obama's statism is a serious threat.

Pettifogger said...

Revenant said: "That a government is necessary is basically a given; the debate is over its scope."

I agree. And in trying to determine the scope, how about starting with "governments are instituted among men to secure their unalienable rights"?

Nonapod said...

One way to look at it as a graph.

The x axis is the level of government. On the far left is anarchy and on the far right is an extreme government which micromanages every aspect of its citizens life.

The y axis represents the average level of happiness of the people.

Now the problem with anarchy is no rule of law, only the strongest survive, which can lead to warlordism. Average happiness is low in such situations (see Somalia).

On the other side (the extreme interventionalists government) people have little to no ability to exercise free will, to make decisions for themselves. Again, happiness is very low.

Somewhere along that graph is a peak point in happiness. I believe that point is closer to the left side (as minimal government involvement as possible while maintaining personal security, property rights).

chrisnavin.com said...

Nonapod, I like the formulation, but you're already starting at a ground floor of freedom and invidualism that is Western. Libertarians actually hear that criticism a lot: "You assume too much, you're shallow and ideological."

Liberals are making it all the time because libertarians are challenging the progressives as they try and govern.

Muslim societies, like Somalia, have tribal and local customs, kin based social networks, much less space for the individual (if at all), and then Islam as the glue uniting them.

You're looking out at the world through a Western lens (hey, aren't we all), but one mistake is assuming that our lens IS universal. (Many Muslims certainly think their ideas are universal, and a few came over here and killed 3,000 civilians).

Many people in the Muslim world simply don't get free speech, nor the products of the Enlightenment.

Obama is using the rationalist, human rights, universal freedom model which tries to subsume American interests to international organizations and institutions ALL THE TIME.

This is partly why Benghazi raised such a stink. Many Americans don't see the world that way.

Revenant said...

Revenant, you'll find that the more you look, the less there is a libertarian consensus.

I didn't say there was a libertarian consensus.

chrisnavin.com said...

There are serious anarchists. The implication is that there aren't, and thus, if not a libertarian consensus, more clearly defined boundaries as to what a libertarian is.

Anarchy forms a large wing of libertarian thinking.

Revenant said...

And in trying to determine the scope, how about starting with "governments are instituted among men to secure their unalienable rights"?

Unfortunately that doesn't tell you much about what the scope of government should be. People just invent new unalienable rights and declare it the business of the government to provide them.

E.g., "rights" to health care, education, housing, food, and a "living wage".

Revenant said...

There are serious anarchists.

What I said was "nobody of consequence seriously argues for anarchy".

Yes, there are some very serious anarchists, just like there are very serious Birthers and very serious Truthers. Just nobody worthy of attention.

chrisnavin.com said...

Revenant:

Most of them can't do that without the rationalist framework that allows them to claim that such rights are universal in the first place.

This is one reason the modern Left has such trouble with the Constitution. Many would be better off in France.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

(Sorry about writing "libertarian or fascist." I know it's inflammatory. I was going to put "right or left," but it just didn't make sense. Some righties are out to control us, and some lefties — especially on some issues — love autonomy.)

To my mind, there's conservative vs. progressive, and then there's authoritarian vs. libertarian.

The two forms of tension have almost nothing to do with each other. They're like "quarks", different flavors of political affiliation and polarization.

Not as stupid or dumbed-down as "right vs. left", but this is America. No conflict without the oversimplification that we love so much.

chrisnavin.com said...

How about David Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and as I mentioned, Roy Childs' claim that Ayn Rand's objectivism leads to anarchy?

Those are pretty serious thinkers and they are whittling the State down to bare essentials, or starting from a point of anarchy.


O Ritmo Segundo said...

Most of them can't do that without the hierarchical framework that allows them to claim that such rights aren't universal in the first place.

This is one reason the modern Right has such trouble with reality and civilization. Many would be better off in Somalia.


FTFY

Revenant said...

Those are pretty serious thinkers and they are whittling the State down to bare essentials, or starting from a point of anarchy.

Whittling the state down to bare essentials is libertarianism, not anarchism. Anarchism is the belief in no government at all.

As for your view that Rothbard and Rand are worth taking seriously -- they're worth taking seriously as moral philosophers. As political philosophers they are not; their ideas are as impossible to implement as communism's are. It doesn't matter (for example) an anarcho-capitalist society founded on legitimate property ownership is "a good system", because you can't actually get to such a point in the first place. Rothbard's writing is essentially mental masturbation.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The non-inflammatory antonym for "libertarian" that you're looking for may be dirigiste.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I think it's funny that both right and left understand that the way rights are applied expands and/or changes with the times, but that their interpretation can't. What utter nonsense.

The right accepts that the left can apply "speech" to broadcast media and the internet; the left accepts that the right can apply "arms" to AK-47s.

But the right-wing says that no right to be "secure in one's person" from the government can include one's own body.

Not only is this strange, it is judicial activism. Even John Locke, a direct inspiration for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, believed that ownership of one's own body is one of the first rights of property.

The right wants your body. They really are like zombies in their belief in the deprivation of the body and its subordination to society and the state.

Even when both disagree with them. Dead-enders to the bitter end, they are.

chrisnavin.com said...

I said rationalist, Ritmo, not hierarchical. Hierarchy is what usually comes in response to anarchy, and the kinds of extreme swings between hierarchy and anarchy we've seen in Europe, and the kinds of people who tried to implement, top-down rationalist systems of hierarchy, is what we've managed to avoid here in the United States.

Part of the reason is because a people united by religious beliefs, practices and traditions doesn't need a law for every problem, nor do they break down into anarchy. Such people have a protected sphere in which to practice their religion, and more specifically, we have no religious test for office.

Are you comparing Somalia and France? Because, you know, we are talking about the West here.

Perhaps you were just going for the easy moral equivalence.

Scott M said...

FTFY

Good luck to Rev and chris in continuing this very interesting discussion without the impending rhetorical devices you're about to be subjected to.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I was actually making contrasts.

The right fears disorder, and so they are comfortable arranging society into hierarchies, so that they can have a way of legitimizing who should be thought of as "right", "good", "powerful", etc.

The left would rather have purpose, reason, and yes, as you note, rationality.

Anyway, I could think of many places and countries in which life would be worse than it is in France. The funny question is, what would a right-winger define as an ideal society?

In some ways, it's a great way to trip them up - because nationalism compels them to answer with the obvious: AMERICA!

Ok, you answer. America is great by definition. But what would a good life look like in America?

That's where they get confused -- when they have to identify what they think could be wrong, and should be fixed about America.

It reminds you of the dilemma that Stephen Colbert brilliantly illustrates in his caricatures: America: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't

Brilliant.

Revenant said...

But the right-wing says that no right to be "secure in one's person" from the government can include one's own body.

Assuming that's an abortion reference, the problem is that -- scientifically speaking -- the fetus isn't part of the woman's body.

The right to be secure in one's person doesn't logically cover the right to kill other things, except in self-defense.

Revenant said...

the left accepts that the right can apply "arms" to AK-47s.

That's kind of hilariously wrong, isn't it? Most of the left is currently bitching about ownership of scary-looking *semi*-automatic "assault weapons". Few on the left accept the right to own actual assault rifles!

I'm tempted to say "nobody on the left", but there's probably somebody out there. Maybe the New Black Panthers?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Assuming that's an abortion reference, the problem is that -- scientifically speaking -- the fetus isn't part of the woman's body.

Bullshit.

Anything more detailed than that and you'll have to read a high school biology text, first.

But, bullshit.

chrisnavin.com said...

Revenant:

So serious libertarian thinkers whittle down the State from a political philosophy that stems from a moral philosophy that stems from their having wrestled with anarchy?

I get why anarchy is not politically possible, and utopian in many ways, but if you're a libertarian you can't dismiss anarchy out of hand.

It's part of the core libertarian tradition which often stems from the same rationalist base (theories of the Rights of Man that don't come from God) that many liberals embrace as they seek to extend rights to every citizen under the sun.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

That's kind of hilariously wrong, isn't it? Most of the left is currently bitching about ownership of scary-looking *semi*-automatic "assault weapons". Few on the left accept the right to own actual assault rifles!

I guess it's wrong in that even Scalia's ruling opinion in Heller states that certain kinds of "dangerous" weapons could still be banned. If they were already banned. Which is judiciously circuitous. But then, Scalia's a conservative. His "thinking" MUST contain circuitous inconsistencies.

But no, I don't see any minds of the left complaining that Heller must or should be overturned. They're proceeding from it as a point of settled law. At least, Obama is.

The irony is, I think that Scalia offered them a loophole with that caveat, but the left is just talking about "assault weapons" as red meat. I think they have to know that the other proposals will gain much more traction.

I'm tempted to say "nobody on the left", but there's probably somebody out there. Maybe the New Black Panthers?

Oh, this is tooo funny. And sooo relevant.

Are you trying to channel Shouting Thomas, or something?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

the fetus isn't part of the woman's body.

Right. It's part of the state's body.

What are you talking about?

Revenant said...

That's where they get confused -- when they have to identify what they think could be wrong, and should be fixed about America.

I'm not sure I've ever met a conservative -- or a left-winger, or a libertarian, or anyone else -- who couldn't name things that should be fixed about America.

After all, nothing about the statement "America is the greatest nation in the world" implies that there's nothing wrong with America. The implication is only that all the *other* countries have even *more* wrong with them. :)

Nonapod said...

One way to look at political beliefs is like a graph, average happiness of the citizenry versus the overall level of government.

If the Y axis is the average happiness of citizens and the x axis is the level of government, the left side is no government (complete anarchy) and the far right side is an extreme interventionist government.

Under complete anarchy you'd have a low average level of happiness because ultimately it's survival of the strong, which leads to warlordism (see Somalia). No rule of law, no property rights, no security beyond that which you can provide for yourself.

On the other side (extreme interventionist) you also have a low level of happiness since you have a government which micromanages every single aspect of your life. An average citizen has no freedom or hope since everything about you is predetermined. There is no free will, you are just a cog in a grand machine.

Now somewhere along the graph is a peak level of happiness. I believe that high point is generally closer to the left side of the graph where you have a government that provides security and property rights and then gets out of the way.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

After all, nothing about the statement "America is the greatest nation in the world" implies that there's nothing wrong with America. The implication is only that all the *other* countries have even *more* wrong with them. :)

That's what they want you to think. But in the age of Obama and obstruction for it's own sake, I think we can see that they only care to entrench power wherever it currently resides - a perfectly conservative goal.

Any agenda of "fixing" anything is political media-driven subterfuge.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Does a fetus have biological autonomy?

Does a siamese twin with shared vital organs?

In retrospect, I see your point. But to separate a biological "identity" with the biology that keeps that identity alive isn't really all that helpful to the science known as "biology".

Also, confusing "identity" with "personhood" is what "life at conception" fanaticists get wrong from the very start.

A DNA code is a genomic identity. It is no more a "life", however, than are a bunch of letters. In this case, A, C, T, and G.

Revenant said...

What are you talking about?

Basic human biology. A fetus is a genetically human organism, physically and genetically distinct from its parents, that resides (parasitically) within the mother's body.

It is "part of her body" only metaphorically. Biologically it is a separate organism.

Chip S. said...

Does a fetus have biological autonomy?

Does a siamese twin with shared vital organs?


Is there a difference b/w an abortionist and Dr. Ben Carson?

Shouting Thomas said...

Ritmo the Retard with his usual poorly concealed PC schoolboy wisdom.

When you gonna move beyond the indoctrination, kid?

The big words don't cover it up. You're really just a dumb obedient schoolboy, spitting at anybody who steps outside the PC indoctrination.

You must have kissed a lot of ass in school. Completely pussy whipped schoolboy. Funny, Ritmo the Retard.

I keep trying to break through that indoctrinated idiocy, but you are a weak, cowardly schoolboy, Ritmo. Any possibility that you'll ever venture into the world beyond the PC indoctrination? Have you done anything... been anywhere? Doesn't look like it.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

It is "part of her body" only metaphorically. Biologically it is a separate organism.

See above. I think I already answered this.

Anyways, at least you're coming around to terminology that is less demeaning/dehumanizing (or inaccurate) than "parasitic".

I heard another libertarian once refer to fetuses this way. Is it something about libertarians that prevent them from understanding the role of cooperation, nurture or sacrifice in human society and across the animal kingdom?

Without those things, humans wouldn't have created civilization and taken over the world. They wouldn't even have become human.

Heck, they wouldn't even be primates.

Libertarians believe in a reptilian future for humanity. You could even say they are the driving force among the right for this comically fictitious and corrupt vision.

Scott M said...

In retrospect, I see your point. But to separate a biological "identity" with the biology that keeps that identity alive isn't really all that helpful to the science known as "biology".

So...after the baby is born, what is the biology that keeps it alive? Is it separate?

Chip S. said...

Libertarians believe in a reptilian future for humanity.

Shit. You cracked the code.

chrisnavin.com said...

Nonapod:

I'm in agreement about the form your graph takes, and its explanatory power, but not about it's universality nor portability..

Like you, I find minimal government inviting, which is why I find Locke or say, Milton Friedman, inviting

A little regulation is necessary, and some ground rules are needed, but they should be sensible, clear and minimal.

There are assumptions built into that graph which have a Western, post-Enlightenment pedigree, and have explanatory power, in say, Somalia, but not universality nor portability.

Islam itself is unreformed, and unenlightened (no reformation and no Enlightenment), and most Muslims don't understand some of those base assumptions unless they've lived in the West.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Oh, boy. Thomas comes in to tell everyone how resentful he is of the articulate.

That should be illuminating.

It's like listen to Goebbels tell us that the only books being burned were the ones that should have been burned.

Seriously, old asshole. Go fuck off.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

So...after the baby is born, what is the biology that keeps it alive? Is it separate?

I think they're called "lungs" and access to oxygen via a medium other than the umbilical cord.

Shouting Thomas said...

You were quite the ass kissing schoolboy, Ritmo the Retard.

It's all over your writing.

Revenant said...

I guess it's wrong in that even Scalia's ruling opinion in Heller states that certain kinds of "dangerous" weapons could still be banned.

Ah, I see. "The left accepts that the right can apply 'arms' to AK-47s" meant "the left acknowledges that AK-47s are, in fact, guns, but still think there's no right to own one".

Similarly, the right recognizes that the right to be secure in one's own person covers necessary medical procedures, but think the right to kill a fetus via abortion isn't covered.

In any event, given that so-called "assault weapons" are responsible for fewer average deaths per weapon than handguns, shotguns and hunting rifles, any attempt to ban them as "particularly dangerous" is likely to get laughed out of court.

RichardS said...

Would it be unfair to say that autonomy is what one has after one's basic needs (food, shelter, health care, etc) are met.
Liberty implies, or, at least, it may imply, choice about how one goes about supplying those needs--hence one's autonomy is limited by necessity in such a situation.

The trouble is that government programs designed to provide those basic needs may themselves compromise both autonomy and liberty.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Help me! I've been "indoctrinated" by the political correctness taught by Watson and Crick.

And Rosalind Franklin.

Seriously, you're as dumb as a post. Go get some priest to explain to you the finer points of biotechnology, you sorry excuse for a toadstool. Anything else would be "indoctrinated".

You are the hands-down blue-ribbon champion in the tournament of dumb.

Nonapod said...

Chrisnavin, I agree that there is a strong cultural (Western) component that I have overlooked in an attempt to simplify things (something I do a lot when looking at problems). I concede it's true that ideally there should be a strong cultural sense of what's right and what's wrong, basic morality, a respect for individuals, which is present in the Judeo-Christian West as well as perhaps certain Eastern philosophies and theologies. These are the building blocks to form a good system of governance.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Similarly, the right recognizes that the right to be secure in one's own person covers necessary medical procedures, but think the right to kill a fetus via abortion isn't covered.

Oh. Ok.

But the "right" to kill a human vegetable by withdrawing the life-supporting artificial "uterus" known as mechanical ventilation, is.

I see your point. Not really, but I think I see what you want me to see.

It's bullshit. The right fights over that shit too, but with less success.

Shouting Thomas said...

Libertarians believe in a reptilian future for humanity.

Who's dumb, Ritmo the Retard?

You actually wrote that malicious, stupid statement. Par for the course for you, too.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

In any event, given that so-called "assault weapons" are responsible for fewer average deaths per weapon than handguns, shotguns and hunting rifles, any attempt to ban them as "particularly dangerous" is likely to get laughed out of court.

Not a court that has the sense to agree that mass casualties are less acceptable to any decent society than isolated events.

You get a bunch of 9/11s happening regularly on American roads, but we somehow sought to respond to the former differently.

I guess libertarians are just so anti-cooperation that they can't even understand why mass casualties are particularly worthy of being addressed and prevented. Bad things can (or should?) only happen in big numbers, eh?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Who's dumb, Ritmo the Retard?

Whoever has ever attempted to actually teach you a damn thing certainly is.

You actually wrote that malicious, stupid statement. Par for the course for you, too.

Oh, I'm sorry. Was it not endorsed by some "traditional" authority figure that you think you shouldn't be alone in bowing to?

Shouting Thomas said...

You're babbling like a 13 year old, Ritmo the Retard.

And, you're doing your usual bit of talking to the voices in your head, too.

The horrible libertarians villains that you're talking to only exist in your brain.

Scott M said...

I think they're called "lungs" and access to oxygen via a medium other than the umbilical cord.

So the newborn breathes until it starves/dehydrates?

What biology supplies food and water to the newborn?

Civilis said...

The problem with abortion as a political topic is that regardless of what the outcome is, someone's rights are going to be violated. You're playing the mother's rights off against the fetus's, and you can't have it both ways... someone loses.

Furthermore, abortion is only tied to political parties by historical coincidence. There's nothing in libertarian or progressive political theory that dictates which moral opinions one should have on abortion.

Abortion is, paradoxically, such a passionate political topic because it is founded on moral beliefs outside the realms of politics.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

No one's talking about newborns, Scott.

If you want a discussion with an incurious ass who has no agenda other than to agree with whatever you say about abortion than the guy with the tie-tonge and guitar-eye is available.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Seriously Thomas,

At what age were you molested?

Shouting Thomas said...

Abortion also involves the rights of a man... the father.

Shouting Thomas said...

I like it when you start descending into savagery, Ritmo the Retard.

You're always close to it. I like you better when you're open about it.

Be my guest.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Abortion also involves the rights of a man... the father.

Just what the discussion was missing.

You really can't stand to allow another discussion proceed without it somehow being about YOU, can you?

So, who aborted your baby, Big Daddy?

Scott M said...

No one's talking about newborns, Scott.

Yes, we are. We, meaning me and you. I specified "after the baby was born" and you replied with "lungs". I'm asking you to continue the example to food/water because both of those things were provided invitro just as oxygen was.

Are you suggesting a newborn can both breath on its own and feed itself?

Shouting Thomas said...

Savagery suits you, Ritmo the Retard. I find it very tiring waiting for you to go through the prelims before you bare your teeth and start shrieking.

Why are you such a savage?

Revenant said...

See above. I think I already answered this.

Well, you certainly threw out of a lot of chaff. I'll run down the list.

1. Distinguishing between a host and a genetically distinct living organism that relies on the host to live is not merely "helpful to the science known as 'biology'" but universal within it.

2. While "genetically distinct" isn't the same as "alive", it is a scientific fact that fetuses are both. Scientifically speaking, a fetus is indisputably a form of human life. The only question is whether it is a form of human life with rights, or whether it is more the equivalent of a coma patient after brain death.

3. The "life begins at conception" fanatics are the counterparts of the "life begins when the baby passes through the vagina" fanatics.

4. Starting around week 23 fetuses have a shot at surviving outside the womb, so "I have a right to kill it because it can't survive without me anyway" loses any merit as an argument.

5. The left doesn't generally recognize a person's right to ignore things that rely on them to live. For example, mothers somehow have an absolutely right to abort in the 9th month of pregnancy, but no right to abandon a newborn to die in the wilderness -- even though the two organisms are functionally identical to one another.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Are you suggesting a newborn can both breath on its own and feed itself?

I'm suggesting that the obvious caveat on viability still applies. If a fetus at 20-some odd weeks can survive, and many - with the help of medical technology can - then that is a different discussion. If you'd like to say any fetus that could be aborted but could instead survive with nutrition and ventilation should be given the latter option - with the state footing the bill, of course, then that's an inherently less offensive or controversial problem than just saying that post-conception zygotes are autonomous people.

It might be a bureaucratic nightmare, but you're the one taking the conservative argument. You'll figure it out.

Civilis said...

Take a theoretical and hypothetical but related debate question:

We have an artificial being, be it an AI or a lab-uplifted animal. Does it have rights, and if so, what rights does it have?

1. The question of what rights it has if it is a person under law is a political question. I expect two libertarians (or two progressives) to give similar answers.

2. More importantly, the question of 'is it a person' is a partially-scientific, partially-moral question, not a political one. We can scientifically look at the being and say, 'it shows signs of self-awareness' or 'it shows higher thinking skills', but the exact line between person and non-person isn't a scientific distinction. We can expect two libertarians to both have different answers while both being consistent with their political philosophy.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Guys - Revenant, Scott M. - we should really end this discussion.

Shouting Thomas is getting really pissed that he doesn't have the brain for coming up with anything useful to add to it.

We should think about him, right?

Shouting Thomas said...

Why do you hold on so fiercely to the PC indoctrination, Ritmo the Retard?

What do you think would happen to you if you let it go?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I sense a new book title:

Everything Shouting Thomas Knows about Biology He Learned by Opposing PC

What do you think? Will it go down on the best-sellers' list, along with that book about everything learned in kindergarten?

Scott M said...

It might be a bureaucratic nightmare, but you're the one taking the conservative argument. You'll figure it out.

You're the one writing off a human life because the "biology" it depends on wants to kill it. You're giving the right of property to that which sustains the fetus.

Once the baby is born, it can no more care for itself than just a few seconds prior when it was still in the birth canal. I'll grant you the caveat of breathing, but aside from that, the newborn is wholly dependent and will die in short order without nourishment.

You implied the fetus doesn't have biological autonomy and therefore belongs to the biology (the mother, I believe you were referring to) that keeps it alive and thus to the whims of that biology.

Why does your stated right of property cease when we start talking about newborns?

Scott M said...

If you'd like to say any fetus that could be aborted but could instead survive with nutrition and ventilation should be given the latter option - with the state footing the bill, of course, then that's an inherently less offensive or controversial problem than just saying that post-conception zygotes are autonomous people.

Why should the state foot the bill? Even if it does, is it also less offensive and controversial than killing perfectly viable humans based solely on the whims of the mother?

Revenant said...

Not a court that has the sense to agree that mass casualties are less acceptable to any decent society than isolated events.

Handguns and shotguns are used in mass killings with greater per-weapon frequency than "assault weapons", too.

So even if the court accepted the legally and morally ridiculous argument that 10 people shot all at once is somehow so much worse than 10 people shot one at a time that is justifies restrictions on constitutional rights -- that argument still wouldn't justify an "assault weapon" ban. It would justify a handgun ban.

Civilis said...

The ironic thing about contrasting the gun control and the abortion debate is that the democratic party platform seems rhetorically inconsistent.

Support for abortion rights is rhetorically built on the rare case where 'the mothers life is in danger', that is abortion as self-defense. Yet self-defense with guns is not permitted because of the risk guns pose to the innocent. (And, for the slippery-slope enthusiast, look at the state of self-defense in England for an idea of this principle taken to its logical end.)

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Rev - as you know, it's important to apologize to Shouting Thomas for discussing things with you that he believes in, even if he doesn't know why. But do it I must.

1. Distinguishing between a host and a genetically distinct living organism that relies on the host to live is not merely "helpful to the science known as 'biology'" but universal within it.

Not sure what point you're trying to make. That libertarians think economies should be beholden to big banks but that fetuses shouldn't be beholden to uteruses? That's interesting.

2. While "genetically distinct" isn't the same as "alive", it is a scientific fact that fetuses are both.

One of these observations is useful. The other gets mistaken often as one that is useful.

Scientifically speaking, a fetus is indisputably a form of human life.

Amphiboly. A "form" of life could be a strand of DNA. Viruses are a "form of life". They aren't autonomous, don't reproduce by themselves, don't even undergo metabolism. So you use language that is biologically unmeaningful.

The only question is whether it is a form of human life with rights, or whether it is more the equivalent of a coma patient after brain death.

Maybe at some point, when it becomes sentient in some way. I have been willing to support this framework repeatedly on this site. It is the perfect analogy to the other scenario.

Perhaps because it is sensible, it keeps getting ignored.

3. The "life begins at conception" fanatics are the counterparts of the "life begins when the baby passes through the vagina" fanatics.

A talking point, but one that I can accept.

4. Starting around week 23 fetuses have a shot at surviving outside the womb, so "I have a right to kill it because it can't survive without me anyway" loses any merit as an argument.

If you want to offer your own uterus or the financing, permission and devices of someone else's to host, be my guest.

5. The left doesn't generally recognize a person's right to ignore things that rely on them to live.

For good reason.

For example, mothers somehow have an absolutely right to abort in the 9th month of pregnancy, but no right to abandon a newborn to die in the wilderness -- even though the two organisms are functionally identical to one another.

The reasons for these cases almost exclusively have to do with fetuses that are too deformed to have any shot at life whatsoever and/or present extraordinary hardship to the expectant mother. I'm surprised you haven't learned about them. And then, there's the FACT that pregnancy and labor are still medical risks. The state has no right to force those risks on others.

Seriously, how much recent history must a conservative forget to not know that pregnancy itself is a medical risk?

But at least you're having a cogent debate - over Shouting Thomas' whining and screaming tantrums and objections to it.

That's something.

Revenant said...

I expect two libertarians (or two progressives) to give similar answers.

I wouldn't. Libertarians tend to mostly agree about what rights people have, but the *source* of those rights, and the means by which they are acquired, is a subject of much debate.

Civilis said...

Yet, even as I write that, I realize that is based on my moral distinction that the life of the unborn baby is worth more than that of the attacker, a belief others may not share...

O Ritmo Segundo said...

You're the one writing off a human life because the "biology" it depends on wants to kill it.

"It" actually, usually wants to not take on the medical burden and risk of using its own body for that purpose. But you don't see women as having a legitimate interest, do you? Are they just baby-making machines?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Once the baby is born, it can no more care for itself than just a few seconds prior when it was still in the birth canal. I'll grant you the caveat of breathing, but aside from that, the newborn is wholly dependent and will die in short order without nourishment.

You implied the fetus doesn't have biological autonomy and therefore belongs to the biology (the mother, I believe you were referring to) that keeps it alive and thus to the whims of that biology.

Why does your stated right of property cease when we start talking about newborns?


Most late-term abortions involve monstrous deformities that, incidentally, put the mother's life at even greater danger than normal births. You should really learn about them. Many, a great many, are decided upon reluctantly, upon learning about the threat to their own health for the purpose of "delivering" a stillborn or soon-to-be-dead cyclops, decerebrated or other specimen for collection in a jar and exhibition to the next medical school class.

Really, you should learn about this.

Civilis said...

"It" actually, usually wants to not take on the medical burden and risk of using its own body for that purpose. But you don't see women as having a legitimate interest, do you? Are they just baby-making machines?

Again, this is the tragic situation where someone's rights are going to get trampled on one way or the other. So, it's a choice: inconvenience the mother or kill the child.

Shouting Thomas said...

Ritmo the Retard, it's so obvious that you don't even care about the issues you're babbling about.

Why do you do this?

Carry on with the ferocious babbling about things you don't even care about, Ritmo the Retard.

Is there anything that you actually do care about? Nothing you've ever written on this blog suggests that you care about anything... which I suspect is the problem.

Time to go rehearse.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Why should the state foot the bill? Even if it does, is it also less offensive and controversial than killing perfectly viable humans based solely on the whims of the mother?

Again, assumptions that all these late-terms are "perfectly viable" and present no threat to the mother. Her decisions are always just "whims".

Seriously. Ignorance is offensive. Lives at stake? Learn about them. Both "lives".

Thanks.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Is there anything that you actually do care about? Nothing you've ever written on this blog suggests that you care about anything... which I suspect is the problem.

The problem is that you don't care about anything or anyone but yourself.

Time to go rehearse.

As I said. Do you think anyone gives a fuck? I've seen your videos. You have less talent than a writer of nursery rhymes.

Actually, most nursery rhymes take more talent to compose than anything you've ever written, here or elsewhere.

But what do you care? Again, as long as you get to make every discussion about yourself, then you're happy.

But most of the rest of us think you can piss off, fuck off and shove off.

Time to go bye-bye.

Civilis said...

But you're doing the exact same thing, arguing that since a tiny fraction of abortions are medically necessary, all abortions must be permitted.

Scott M said...

"It" actually, usually wants to not take on the medical burden and risk of using its own body for that purpose. But you don't see women as having a legitimate interest, do you?

Of course they do. I just don't believe that they automatically supersede those of the unborn child they carry, which, excepting in cases of rape, they are wholly responsible for bringing into being.

Are they just baby-making machine?

Obviously not, but I've not attempted to belittle you so far in this debate. Why did you start doing it to me?

Most late-term abortions...

Your answer doesn't answer the question. It dodges it completely and attempts to change the subject. Please answer the question as it was politely asked.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

But you're doing the exact same thing, arguing that since a tiny fraction of abortions are medically necessary, all abortions must be permitted.

All should be permitted, because one life actually exists whereas another is more-or-less theoretical. How theoretical is something that we can debate, but one actually, unequivocally exists.

Those "tiny fraction" are the ones that incense the conservative propaganda machine and provide the most intense debate. They are important because they miss and mislead the public entirely from why those cases do, the majority of the time, exist. That is a travesty.

And then we get into earlier term, where the majority do take place. At that stage, arguing for the role of some rudimentary form of sentience in deciding to apply rights of any sort is paramount, but some priests have convinced some partisans that UNIQUE HUMAN DNA = LIFE.

Which it doesn't.

O Ritmo Segundo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O Ritmo Segundo said...

Scott - I will answer your polite questions and apologize if you feel I've tried to belittle you. Hopefully my later responses can do this. If not, please reiterate which ones you think I've ignored.

I think I'm doing my best to underscore that medical risks to the mother are under appreciated, and that the best reasons for allowing late-term abortions (medical catastrophes) tend to be different from the best reasons for allowing them at an earlier term (lack of sentient, uniquely human qualities apart from the arbitrary and not uniquely human ability to contain DNA).

Revenant said...

Not sure what point you're trying to make.

Just correcting a mistake you'd made.

One of these observations is useful.

Well, for some reason you decided to point out that DNA isn't life. I just wanted to clarify that fetuses are alive as well as genetically distinct.

So you use language that is biologically unmeaningful.

Yeah, mumbling about the difficulty of defining "life" really doesn't do you much good, Rit. Sure, there are some things (like viruses) that may or may not count as "alive", but cells and organisms composed of cells aren't in the gray area. :)

Maybe at some point, when it becomes sentient in some way.

There's no known test for sentience. We don't know when we acquire it.

If you want to offer your own uterus or the financing, permission and devices of someone else's to host, be my guest.

You're missing the point.

Most abortion methods kill the fetus in order to remove it. Prior to week 23 you could possibly say "well, it would have died anyway, so that's the big deal?". After week 23 you can't, because it might have survived if you had removed it without killing it. After that point you have the right to remove it, but no more right to *kill* it than you would have to kill a newborn.

The reasons for these cases almost exclusively have to do with fetuses that are too deformed to have any shot at life whatsoever

There are no good statistics available on why women choose late-term abortions. They are not, after all, generally required to justify the procedure to anyone but themselves.

The state has no right to force those risks on others.

I would agree, but that argument would only apply to people pregnant as a result of non-consensual sex. You can't have sex, wind up pregnant, and then be like "this was completely unforeseeable". :)

Astro said...

Sometimes this comment page reminds me of
mere contradiction; not an argument.

Revenant said...

All should be permitted, because one life actually exists whereas another is more-or-less theoretical. How theoretical is something that we can debate, but one actually, unequivocally exists.

The obvious problem there is that the sentience and sapience of the child only becomes non-theoretical many months after birth, when the child begins displaying indisputable reasoning ability. Which brings us around, once again, to the question you have thus far been unable to answer: "why does the mother have any obligations to a baby *after* it is born?".

If you can kill a fetus in its 35th week because you decided a kid would be inconvenient -- and you're arguing that women SHOULD be allowed to, even if they virtually never do -- then there really isn't any good reason why she shouldn't be allowed to say "on second thought, motherhood sucks" and toss the baby into a wood chipper a week after it is born.

Cripes, lefties never cease yammering about how we need ever-increasing amounts of tax money For The Children (tm). But why should we care about the smelly little clumps of cells if they can't even feed themselves or outsmart a housecat?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Just correcting a mistake you'd made.

Hey. Pat yourself on your own back however you must.

"One of these observations is useful."

Well, for some reason you decided to point out that DNA isn't life.


Which is a useful observation to those who equate zygotes with people.

"So you use language that is biologically unmeaningful."

Yeah, mumbling about the difficulty of defining "life" really doesn't do you much good, Rit.


Me, or anyone else who cares to think, and not just vent, about the actual issues involved.

Sure, there are some things (like viruses) that may or may not count as "alive", but cells and organisms composed of cells aren't in the gray area. :)

You might want to look up the definition, which includes "reproduction". You might as well say that if gonads haven't formed, then they aren't alive. In either event, you've never provided (or even asked for) a definition, let alone determined how it would apply.

But that gray area is huge. Neurulation might help create some borders, though. Ever heard of it?

In any event, a zygote isn't an "organism composed of cells". It's just one cell. Fused from two. But at least you're able to attempt a definition that allows me to point out the utter futility of the lazy, bullshit ZYGOTE=PERSON mantra that's shoved down our throats all the time.

"Maybe at some point, when it becomes sentient in some way."

There's no known test for sentience. We don't know when we acquire it.


Well, we know that without a brain, sentience doesn't exist. And we know at what point an embryo develops:

1. Neural tissue
2. Neural structures

If you weren't so incurious and empirically opposed, you might be tempted to go along with my suggestion at looking at those as frameworks for sentience that at least make sense and are much more likely to get people to think that you have an interest in being sensible. Even if they are still far from perfect and still sacrifice an indeterminate idea of function over the conservative ideal of form.

"If you want to offer your own uterus or the financing, permission and devices of someone else's to host, be my guest."

You're missing the point.


Oh, were you making one?

Most abortion methods kill the fetus in order to remove it. Prior to week 23 you could possibly say "well, it would have died anyway, so that's the big deal?". After week 23 you can't, because it might have survived if you had removed it without killing it. After that point you have the right to remove it, but no more right to *kill* it than you would have to kill a newborn.

The reasons for these cases almost exclusively have to do with fetuses that are too deformed to have any shot at life whatsoever

There are no good statistics available on why women choose late-term abortions. They are not, after all, generally required to justify the procedure to anyone but themselves.


There is reason, common sense and medical literature.

I have a feeling you fancy yourself too good to look to those things. Pity that empiricism gets in the way of your zest for reason. You might have better arguments if it didn't.

The state has no right to force those risks on others.

I would agree, but that argument would only apply to people pregnant as a result of non-consensual sex. You can't have sex, wind up pregnant, and then be like "this was completely unforeseeable". :)


Oh, boy. Scratch a self-described "libertarian" in America and the conservative comes out.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

The obvious problem there is that the sentience and sapience of the child only becomes non-theoretical many months after birth, when the child begins displaying indisputable reasoning ability. Which brings us around, once again, to the question you have thus far been unable to answer: "why does the mother have any obligations to a baby *after* it is born?".

That's not true. The definition of sentience also involves instinctual responses to pleasure and pain that have nothing to do with the kind of "thought" you're elevating it to. A jellyfish can feel pain. A baby cries as a response to the "pain" associated with lack of comfort or familiarity.

If you want to argue embryology or early childhood development, you really might want to acquaint yourself with these concepts. I mean, assuming credibility and a believable argument matters to you.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Shouting Thomas is trying to relieve some pain right now, in fact...

Revenant said...

You might want to look up the definition, which includes "reproduction".

Reproduction at some point during life, sure. The organism in question becomes fertile at around the 150th month of life, give or take a couple dozen.

In either event, you've never provided (or even asked for) a definition, let alone determined how it would apply.

There's no definition used by biologists under which it doesn't qualify, Rit. Pick whichever you like. :)

In any event, a zygote isn't an "organism composed of cells". It's just one cell.

I said "cells and organisms composed of cells", silly.

Well, we know that without a brain, sentience doesn't exist.

No, that's just a reasonable but untested (and untestable) hypothesis. I find it ironic that after your stubborn insistence that a cell doesn't clearly count as a living thing you've turned around and based your argument on a concept as ill-defined and unmeasurable as "sentience".

I have a feeling you fancy yourself too good to look to those things.

I'm confident that I'm the only one of us who actually has.

Oh, boy. Scratch a self-described "libertarian" in America and the conservative comes out.

I do love your inability to distinguish between "Ritmo, your argument is flawed" and "Ritmo, your conclusion is wrong". Women have the right to have abortions. It just isn't found in the silly-assed arguments you're using. :)

Nini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nini said...

Sure, government is not a decision-maker run by automation because the government is “we the people”.

It is this principle of the government being “we the people” that the decisions for the country are made. How does this work? In 2 ways. In a representative democracy which is what most countries in the west are, we elect our politicians who we think will serve our own best interest. And in a direct democracy, Switzerland being the only country I know that is a direct democracy, people vote on policy initiatives by way of referendum or petition to the legislature. With the advances in technology you will wonder why more countries are not direct democracies, afterall direct democracies will mean leaner government . The common reason cited by those who have dislike for direct democracy is that the majority can oppress the minority: that there is a danger that the majorities will force their will on minorities.

Lord Acton , a British historian, writer and politician said in the late 19th century "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." So true, so we see a system of check and balance in the political system in the form of 3 separate entities the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

So I do not know if the question of trust in the government is a meaningful question at all in a democracy, if we agree that the government is “we the people”. Sure, being skeptical of the intentions of the people in the government is expected but once scepticism becomes a factual claim there is a way to address it, in democracy, it’s through the ballots. Remove the people you do not like.

I don’t know that libertarians think that they can have full autonomy from any regulating or governing body because if they can, then that would be anarchy. I don’t know that they or we want to live where there is social disorder. And I also don’t think that libertarians don’t trust the government. I think the libertarians believe that liberty is the highest political end which can be achieved through a limited central government with clear boundaries regarding its functions and it’s power dispersed by the workings of the state governments.

For instance I would think that libertarians would favour the decision on same sex marriage issue be decided directly by the people, like Proposition 8 referendum in California but I also think that gay libertarians would have a free-wheeling attitude in regard to relationships – they may not care about formalities from the government.

I think fascism results not so much about how much the citizens trust their government, (afterall all political bodies need the trust of the people to do its job) but more about extreme nationalism combined with a charismatic, authoritarian leader governing a central body which is not subject to check and balance.

kentuckyliz said...

Those who do not have a desire to be controlled would enjoy the Samizdata blog.

Revenant said...

The definition of sentience also involves instinctual responses

The definition of sentience includes, and requires, consciousness. Humans aren't provably conscious unless we are able to demonstrate it through communication.

Ironically, the incredibly broad definition of "sentience" you're trying to use here would cover the entirety of human development from zygote to birth; even single cells can respond to stimulus. :)

O Ritmo Segundo said...

I find it ironic that after your stubborn insistence that a cell doesn't clearly count as a living thing you've turned around and based your argument on a concept as ill-defined and unmeasurable as "sentience".

It's not a person. And it's you who's providing cover to people who use "living" as code for "a living person with rights".

Sentience is a pretty important concept when it comes to rights, and the relevant one here. We use it when it comes to end of life issues all the time - the only concretely realistic analogy you actually had the presence of mind (but not sentience? can we be sure of that?) to entertain.

I do love your inability to distinguish between "Ritmo, your argument is flawed" and "Ritmo, your conclusion is wrong". Women have the right to have abortions. It just isn't found in the silly-assed arguments you're using. :)

It sure as hell isn't found in whatever you are (or would be) arguing. Slippery disbeliever in evidence for sentience that you are, you still can't seem to bring yourself to agreeing that zygotes aren't people with rights. So who cares what positive arguments you have for a right to abortion? Every angle discussed that anyone could find reasonable agreement on, you've slithered your way around and avoided staking a clear position on.

Don't bother making a clear position, or even what you would consider a basis for one. It's quite evident that you see your strength in not having one.

And people wonder why your political clique can't find votes. Fascinating.

Good luck on your search for a perfect argument.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

The definition of sentience includes, and requires, consciousness. Humans aren't provably conscious unless we are able to demonstrate it through communication.

Bullshit.

Quote your definition (if you can stand to; evidence has a way of eluding you) and I'll quote one that negates it.

You are arguing in bad faith at this point. No intelligent person can directly contradict available evidence (definitions, even!) and mean what they say.

Ironically, the incredibly broad definition of "sentience" you're trying to use here would cover the entirety of human development from zygote to birth; even single cells can respond to stimulus. :)

As with your idiotically obstinant refusal to even agree that zygotes are not persons in any sense in which we would seek to attach rights, you cannot agree that "pain" and "pleasure" are neurological stimuli or perceptions that are distinct from whichever generic stimuli, or specific stimulus, that you can prove to me that a zygote can be evoked to respond to. Can you even do that? You asserted it without any reference to evidence. One assumes you made it up.

What stimulus does a zygote respond to, O Guru of the Paultards?

Revenant said...

So I do not know if the question of trust in the government is a meaningful question at all in a democracy, if we agree that the government is “we the people”.

We don't, and it isn't. This is a constitutional republic governing a union of states; it is not a democracy, nor was it ever meant to be.

Democracy is a fairly good way of ensuring that 50% of the public enjoys the protection of the law and sees its rights and wishes respected. Getting beyond 50% requires putting measures in place that will thwart the majority when it tries -- and it always does -- to oppress the minority.

I also don’t think that libertarians don’t trust the government.

I think the government has a long way to go before the libertarian attitude towards government *improves* to the point where we simply don't trust it very much. :)

O Ritmo Segundo said...

"I also don’t think that libertarians don’t trust the government."

I think the government has a long way to go before the libertarian attitude towards government *improves* to the point where we simply don't trust it very much. :)


Libertarians don't trust society, or anyone else. So their distrust of even a democratically elected, representative self-government is axiomatic.

That is their dilemma. They hate society and seek to mask that with a hatred of the "self-government" that represents it.

Who could afford to be anything but slippery, opaque and vague about what they actually want when this is the psychological motivation behind their pretension to a political philosophy?

Nini said...

Ritmo: All should be permitted, because one life actually exists whereas another is more-or-less theoretical. How theoretical is something that we can debate, but one actually, unequivocally exists.


Why theoretical? Can a butterfly come into being without passing through the stages of egg, larva and pupa?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Can a butterfly come into being without passing through the stages of egg, larva and pupa?

The butterfly is none of those things in the same way that a person is not a zygote.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

IN other words, you answer your own question without realizing it.

Revenant said...

Quote your definition

Sentient
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: conscious

From thesaurus.com :)

Of course, that opens up the "but what IS consciousness" can of worms, but I covered that already.

As with your idiotically obstinant refusal to even agree that zygotes are not persons in any sense

I agreed that it is reasonable to think they aren't people but rejected your ignorant assertion that science can prove as much. I'm sorry that you can't emotionally handle the idea that not all reasonable beliefs are demonstrably true. :)

you cannot agree that "pain" and "pleasure" are neurological stimuli or perceptions that are distinct from whichever generic stimuli

The "pleasure" and "pain" requirements for sentience were invented by you. You've got it backwards; an organism must be conscious in order to experience sensation subjectively, pleasure and pain being two examples of subjective sensations. We know that babies make an unpleasant noise when something bad happens, but so does my computer. Stimulus-response is necessary but insufficient.

What stimulus does a zygote respond to

The cleavage process appears to depend on environmental stimuli indicating the host is receptive to pregnancy.

Anyway, as enjoyable as it has been to poke at you, I actually do have other things to get to this evening. I'll let you have the last word.

Revenant said...

Ok, one last response. :)

Libertarians don't trust society, or anyone else.

Libertarians, among those people who believe governments should exist at all, are actually the most trusting of society and other people. Pretty much everyone else thinks you need large numbers of police and bureaucrats making sure everybody does what they're supposed to, whether that's "buy insurance" or "put their kids in car seats" or "respect the flag" or "abstain from drugs" or etc, etc, etc.

It should be obvious, really, that a person's trust of others is inversely proportional to his desire to pass laws telling those other people what to do. :)

O Ritmo Segundo said...

"Experiencing sensation or feeling."

Consciousness not required.

Even when people dream, experiencing something much more complex than mere perceptions, we don't call this "consciousness".

Sensations or feelings are perceptions, and therefore a part of sentience. (Note the root of sentient: same as "sensation" - related to "feeling").

"As with your idiotically obstinant refusal to even agree that zygotes are not persons in any sense"

I agreed that it is reasonable to think they aren't people but rejected your ignorant assertion that science can prove as much.


Not ignorant. Humans are considered multicellular organisms - zygotes are unicellular. You do not grasp that this is an elementary distinction in biology. A unicellular person would be an extremely foreign thing in the world of human life. The zygote is but a transition stage.

I'm sorry that you can't emotionally handle the idea that not all reasonable beliefs are demonstrably true. :)

I'm not sorry that you can't emotionally handle the fact that some beliefs are much more reasonable and much more likely than others.

"you cannot agree that "pain" and "pleasure" are neurological stimuli or perceptions that are distinct from whichever generic stimuli"

The "pleasure" and "pain" requirements for sentience were invented by you. You've got it backwards; an organism must be conscious in order to experience sensation subjectively, pleasure and pain being two examples of subjective sensations.


Not true. Sensations are not only ONE definition of sentience, they're required for the attribute of consciousness that you selectively choose to define as the only meaning for sentience. Reflexes are consciousness-independent. They often don't even travel to the brain, but terminate in a loop that leads to muscular response much earlier.

Perceptions/sensations precede any cognitive/conscious evaluation of them. You are mistaking the philosophical speculation that used to comprise neurology with what empiric neurological evidence has actually shown for the last hundred years or so, at least.

We know that babies make an unpleasant noise when something bad happens, but so does my computer. Stimulus-response is necessary but insufficient.

This is not a coherent response to anything. But at least you got to compare a baby to a computer. Which, I suppose, must come natural to an automaton such as yourself.

"What stimulus does a zygote respond to"

The cleavage process appears to depend on environmental stimuli indicating the host is receptive to pregnancy.


You say "appears" so I'll assume you neglected to check your facts on this one, as well.

But whether this "stimulus" registers in any way that could be neurological is anyone's guess. (Doesn't seem likely as neural tissue doesn't exist yet).

But then, you are the one who doesn't seem to have a grasp on the importance of neurology in defining human traits, let alone that the nervous system is the system assigned to sentiently perceive stimuli that we can associate with cruelty (pain) or decency (pleasure), so who knows where you're coming from with an anecdote as far-fetched as this one?

Anyway, as enjoyable as it has been to poke at you, I actually do have other things to get to this evening. I'll let you have the last word.

I don't doubt that you consider your poking comments a form of intellectual rape.

Luckily, I'm able to perceive the intellectual impotence on your part that overwhelms them.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

It should be obvious, really, that a person's trust of others is inversely proportional to his desire to pass laws telling those other people what to do.

What is obvious, is that self-styled libertarians (glibertarians, really) don't care to do anything about the costs burdened by a society that doesn't refuse emergency care while refusing to require a personal sacrifice for receiving it no questions asked.

They just leave it to others to not only solve, but argue for responsibly solving that problem.

Libertarians like to leave social messes for others to solve. Again, they don't believe in society. And apparently, they don't believe in responsibility, either.

Unless you're like Ron Paul's supporters, who believe that the responsible thing for an uninsured person to do is to die.

They call you guys glibertarians for a reason. They're just socially irresponsible. And then tell you that they love and trust society.

What a bunch of self-serving, glibertarian bullshit.

Kirk Parker said...

Can we please just ignore the MULish Ritmo for once? This discussion was actually interesting before s/h/it arrived.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Can we please just ignore the MULish Ritmo for once?

Sorry. Normally I do ignore him, but occasionally a mean part of me likes to toy with him for my own amusement.

Mostly because it so obviously annoys him that he can't make me angry. :)

Inga said...

Revenant, you give yourself too much credit.

Inga said...

Some imagine themselves above the fray, they are not. Revenant was being used to prove a point, he just didn't realize it. Consciousness and sentience are not one in the same, anyone with any medical knowledge knows this.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Ritmo does make a strong arguement for abortion, through his existence.

What worthless miserable creatures inhabit the fevered swamps of the left.

Revenant said...

Inga, sweetie, "consciousness" and "sentience" are synonyms. Do consult a dictionary from time to time; it'll save you embarrassment. :)

Inga said...

Revenant,
You have no medical training, that is very evident.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Neither does he have any capacity to accept, let alone learn, some very basic medical concepts.

Revenant said...

You have no medical training, that is very evident.

"Sentience" isn't a medical term, sweetie. It is a philosophical term. :)