Mid-Michigan Objectivists-Jan. Meeting

Tenyamc's picture
Submitted by Tenyamc on Wed, 2006-01-18 07:58

It's time for the Mid-Michigan Objectivist Conference!
The announcment is pasted below.
The meeting will be Thursday, January 19th, at the home of Jack McHugh on Verlinden in Lansing. Social time will start at 6pm, and we'll try to get the meeting started
around 7 at the latest. Bring anyone that you think might be interested.
Email me if you need directions.

Parental rights is a more complicated matter than anyone could possibly fathom at first glance. Those we would call conservatives today believe parental rights are absolutist, almost in the same way that most Objectivists hold property rights as absolutist. Rand actually had very little to say about parenting and parental rights. But in our morality, how far do these rights really go? At what point should the government be allowed to step in to protect the child's rights as an individual? Consider the following cases in point:

The other day on television I saw some "inked" up parents, with tattoo's on every extention on their bodies. This is something that, without expensive surgery on the skin, can not be undone. One set of parents had a tattoo on the forearm of their 4 year old girl. At 4 years old, the child has little choice, no good judgement, and barely any free will. Should this be allowed? Is it abuse and a violation of that individuals rights? Should the
government be able to make a law to ban this act by parents? Or should the parents be allowed to make these kinds of decisions for their children?

Compulsory education! This is one of the most complicated issues related to parental rights, and this is the issue that made me really consider this topic. Lets assume for a second that there is no public education, and everyone could afford a private school at that point. Lets also pretend for a second that parents X and Z own family run busineses, and they need all the help they could get. People who believe in absolutist parental rights
would say that compulsory education should be taken off the books and that they should be allowed to raise their kids in the family business, never teaching them to read, write, or how to understand math. Would this be a
violation of the child's rights as an individual in their own right? When the child reaches the "age of reason", whatever that may be, what if they wanted to do something else, but had no education? Have the parents violated their rights? Is compulsory education an actual protection of an individuals rights by allowing them to get educated, and then be equipped with the proper knowledge to make the decision of what they want to do with the rest of their lives? Could we consider holding kids at home abuse, as
we do in law today?

Spare the rod spoil the child? Since it is damn near impossible to reason with children, should parents be allowed to force children to be reasonable, by physical means if nessesary? If so, where's the fine line?

Circumcision. A lot of new debate about it, I'll be bringing some material to introduce

Religious and philosophical indoctrination.

How would we define children's rights? With rights, come the responsibility to respect the rights of others. With something like freedom of religion, we as free thinking adults are allowed to choose what religion if any at
all. If we were to absolutly afford children these decisions, how would we enforce that right? Would we ban parents from taking their kids to church or Mosque until the child is old enough to decide for their own? If so
would this conflict with a parent's rights to raise their kids as they see fit? When considering all of this and other questions regarding this subject, remember that children are people of reason, rationality, or valid
free-will (by valid I mean that they don't have the cognitive capacity to make wise judgement, and also that they will probably just do what their parents make them do). If we had absolutist parental rights, wouldn't
children be treated more like property than like individuals with rights of their own? These are very complicated matters, so take some time to think
about it. We may not be able to get to everything on here, but it's a big issue, and as much as we hate to say it, it's a gray area when it comes to what Rand said and how far the already laid out principles of Objectivism
go. The reason that we are having this debate is that we're looking for one, wide scoping, all encompasing principle or rule that applies to parental rights. "Nobody has an unearned obligation or duty to any other person" is the all encompassing rule for ethics in Objectivism, so what is it for parenting?

( categories: )

Children's rights

VSD's picture
... I accept my responability for a child's obligations and needs based on my unilateral decision of giving birth to it without it's consent, thus impinging on it's right not to live - as I cannot determine the childs wish to live before birth I am incurring a debt of 'unearned obligation to another person' - which in reverse would include the child's right to terminate it's own life of it's own free will anytime it so choses
(this precludes the split issue of female reproduction which has to be unsplit first - full autonomy, legal, physical, psychological of females over their reproductive functions - as soon as that issue get's split any child resulting will have to deal with all the consequences of that split)
... I am offering a child an equal share in the opportunities for health, wealth and happiness (add as needed) I can procure on my own or for myself - included is the obligation to share in the child's obligations except where restricted below
... I give a child the full rights and self-responsability of any other person (adult or otherwise) including the same obligations not to harm the rights of others - if the child is not able to meet those obligations and my above obligation to the child makes me responsible for my child's transgressions I am entitled to take measures to ensure that the child's incapacity to meet it's own obligations don't impinge on my own rights in the future
(which precludes only directly related measures for obligations and rights transgressions based on a particular failure of the child)
... I allow the child to chose it's educational form - which precludes that I can actually offer it differing ways of education - even if the child choses not to be (formally) educated - if it lacks education in whatever field later it is it's own responsability to make up for this lack when it requires knowledge it did not acquire when offered
... I allow a child the same religious choice I offer in education - which precludes my own openess to introduce or facilitate introduction of the child to varying religions - even of no religion
... I secure a child's physical intactness within the boundaries of my obligations to that child - it is not my obligation to protect a child from being influenced by other's example (or I'd turn it into a hermit)
(exposure to differing social, moral, intellectual, physical environements as far as my own ressources allow or the child's ressources can procure will take care of any unreflected influences)
... I abhor circumcision - I have yet to see any valid justification for circumcision before I even attempt to answer this question rationally
this is just an initial summary on an abstract level of children's rights and obligations - most others can be referred from these and the examples you cited can easily be evaluated along the lines of these arguments
many of the arguments you used imply that children are to a varying extent incapable of making good decision about their own needs and how to satisfy them - my experience was to the contrary, that children often know far better than I do what they need and even how to get it (dozens of examples on request if needed for the argument) - if you accept this ability of children (even of infants) and nourish their self-reliance you'll soon find out how many so-called 'chilren's rights' become superfluous
let me know which points you think need revision and what other 'gray areas' came up during your meeting

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