Leonard Peikoff at Huffington Post

Ayn Rand Center's picture
Submitted by Ayn Rand Center on Thu, 2013-01-24 00:43

We have just had Leonard Peikoff’s essay “Abortion Rights Are Pro-Life” published at HuffingtonPost.com.

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade 40 years ago, there is still no one defending the right to abortion in fundamental terms, which is why the pro-abortion rights forces are on the defensive.

Read the entire essay here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

If you like the piece, we encourage you to leave a short comment in HuffPo’s comment section!

--ARC Media


Hmm

Jules Troy's picture

Goverments go around killing people every day Richard.

Jules

Richard Goode's picture

No one has a right to go around killing people ... the fact that the person in question is inside a woman's body is irrelevant.

Richard

Jules Troy's picture

Try telling that to a woman..

Be prepared to duck and run!

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

Interesting clip from Touré.

A problem with the rights perspective is that people think of rights as absolutes

Is it a problem with the rights perspective or a problem with people (losing perspective)?

The existence of moral dilemmas is a recognised and much discussed problem in meta-ethics. But I don't see the case of the pregnant woman who wants to have an abortion as being a moral dilemma. The unborn child has a right not to be killed by its own mother. The mother does not have a right to do whatever she wants with her own body. No one does.

...

reed's picture

Toure: 'I cannot imagine arguing against a woman's right to control her body, and thus her life'

Richard

reed's picture

The problem comes when people lose sight of justice and think of rights as absolutes.

Does a woman have a right to do whatever she wants with her own body?

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

There is a choice between competing rights.

... and that is what is wrong with the rights perspective - you have a right to do anything that is not unjust.

If murder is unjust, then the child's right to life trumps the mother's right to abort. (The mother has no right to abort. Abortion is murder. Murder is unjust.)

Is murder unjust? Yes.

reed's picture

Is murder unjust?

Yes.

Same discussion different year...

reed's picture

Damien
Here is my realisation regarding rights and justice.

As a result of this discussion I now doubt that people even have inherent rights, I'm even more doubtful that some have more inherent rights than others.

I now realise that I see things as "just", "unjust" or "neither just nor unjust". What we have been calling "rights" are simply things that I consider "not unjust".

I think there isn't even such a thing as the "right to exist" (i.e. death is not an injustice). I consider the "right to abort" is even less likely.

A problem with the rights perspective is that people think of rights as absolutes and they will promote injustice to protect what they think are rights.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

Now go back to the gun club thread and answer my questions.

While you're at it, please answer my questions here and here.

ok Greg

Damien Grant's picture

I will accept those changes. I am, after all, in favour of abortion on demand.

(Actually, on occasions I have been known to argue for universal, compulsory and retrospective abortions).

Now go back to the gun club thread and answer my questions.

And do not quote Ronald Reagan again unless you actually agree with what he is saying!

Many thanks.

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

Is murder unjust?

Rewritten for clarity for Damien

gregster's picture

... and that is what is wrong with the rights perspective - you have a right to do anything that is not unjust.

I do not understand what you are saying here.

We have two rights, the foetus’s and the potential mother’s. If the potential mother wants an abortion, someone's rights are going to be affected. This seems obvious.

Even a pro-choice person who thinks that the foetus is not yet human is likely to agree that the foetus has some rights, even if they are very limited (a right not to suffer unnecessary pain, say).

We can go further, however, and infer a preference for the foetus. If the foetus had a say in the matter, the foetus would choose life. If the foetus had a lawyer, the lawyer would argue for life. The prevailing desire to live exists in all creatures, so the desire of the foetus to live can be inferred.

If this desire extends to a right seems more an issue of semantics than anything else to me. The creature exists because the potential mother took actions that created it. The potential mother has some obligations to her creation.

Where you sit on the abortion debate would be a function of whose rights you think should prevail. I think it is the potential mothers, you presumably disagree. On that basis we come to a different conclusion.

Reeding between the sheets

Damien Grant's picture

... and that is what is wrong with the rights perspective - you have a right to do anything that is not unjust.

I do not understand what you are saying here. 

We have two rights, the child’s and the mother’s. If the mother wants an abortion, someone's rights are going to be affected. This seems obvious.

Even a pro-choice person who thinks that the child is not yet human is likely to agree that the child has some rights, even if they are very limited (a right not to suffer unnecessary pain, say).

We can go further, however, and infer a preference for the child. If the child had a say in the matter, the child would choose life. If the child had a lawyer, the lawyer would argue for life. The prevailing desire to live exists in all creatures, so the desire of the child to live can be inferred.

If this desire extends to a right seems more an issue of semantics than anything else to me. The creature exists because the mother took actions that created it. The mother has some obligations to her creation.

Where you sit on the abortion debate would be a function of whose rights you think should prevail. I think it is the mothers, you presumably disagree. On that basis we come to a different conclusion.

the abortion debate is old and tired

Doug Bandler's picture

The Objectivist position on abortion orients around the question when do individual rights apply; ie in the womb or at birth. The mainstream position is that it is the individuation of the fetus at birth that marks the political birth of the child. There is a minority position that argues for personhood during the third trimester. Greg Perkins, associated with Diana Hsieh oddly enough, has written a pretty solid argument for personhood at third trimester. Its not the viability argument. Its more complicated.

I'm not really committed to either position, either one will do. But IMO it won't matter eventually. Why? Male birth control, that's why. Once male birth control becomes standard and omnipresent, and it will, it will radically change the sexual landscape like nothing we've seen. It will also give men back the power they lost with the advent of the female birth control pill. Men will now control when a pregnancy occurs. Hah, hah, men back on top the way it should be.

The abortion debate will be obsolete soon. Like the betamax, the floppy drive, and travel agents.

Should the state prevent

reed's picture

Should the state prevent abortion?

If you think the answer is yes then you need to make an argument that the women can be forced against her will to carry the child to term and the doctor can be prevented by force from plying their trade.

There's no need to make a prevention argument. Just punishments can be given after the fact.

However... should the state prevent murder?

If someone is intent on murder there is nothing immoral about using whatever force is necessary against them to prevent the murder. The use of force is justified by the intent to murder.

There is a choice between competing rights.

... and that is what is wrong with the rights perspective - you have a right to do anything that is not unjust.

The answer seems obvious. You cannot force someone to provide the necessities of life to another...

Really? We do it all the time regarding infants... well... to be more precise we punish failure to provide the necessities of life.

Absurd

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

If early abortion is truly murder, then justice demands that the mother and doctor be executed.

IVF

Tom Burroughes's picture

I know a few people who have had IVF treatment as a way to have kids and in each case I simply cannot see how or why they would want to consider abortion after that unless some serious abnormality, potentially life-threatening, was discovered.

As for Peikoff and other ARIers writing in Huffington Post, I fail to see why this is getting some folk oxidised. If the presence of pro-reason articles on such sites increases, well good, if it manages to persuade some of the readership there.

goblins and babys

Damien Grant's picture

There is a disconnect here.

The morality or otherwise of an abortion does not change the the answer to the question

"Should the state prevent abortion"

If you think the answer is yes then you need to make an argument that the women can be forced against her will to carry the child to term and the doctor can be prevented by force from plying their trade.

This argument is rarely ever advanced. The case is made on the basis of the immoral element of the abortion and not justifying the immortality of using force to prevent the abortions.

There is a choice between competing rights.

The answer seems obvious. You cannot force someone to provide the necessities of life to another, certainly not when the other is not a conscious being.

"Thirdly, what your friends

gregster's picture

"Thirdly, what your friends in Auckland think about the social or any other status of IVF babies is of no relevance or concern to a discussion about abortion." Not friends. Relatives of friends with IVF children. Irish Protestant bigots.

So all in all, you goblinites are inconsistent in your treatment of embryos. No surprise there because you have to be inconsistent in your morals to merely stay alive.

Second connection

gregster's picture

"A biological fact of every human life is that it begins in the womb." Not strictly the case. Or Petri dish, or..

One connection

gregster's picture

"So how many embryos die to produce a healthy child? Some studies in Australia and New Zealand show a live birth rate to embryos at 4.4. So around 96 embryos die or are killed for 4 live births. The reasons for this massive loss of life are many. Firstly the woman is given very powerful drugs to over stimulate her ovaries (The long term detrimental effects of this drug is unknown). Then they are harvested using a laparoscope, which is a tube inserted into the woman's abdomen, with a light and microscopic lens on the end. The eggs are then found and sucked up this tube. Sometimes up to 10 eggs can be harvested. They are then placed in a petri dish, with a culture medium and mixed with sperm. When fertilisation occurs the doctor looks to see which ones appear to be developing normally. All the abnormal ones are discarded and die. Only the good-looking ones are implanted. Then you have the dilemma of how many to place in the womb. In the UK this is limited to three. If many of the embryos look healthy, and only 2 or 3 are placed in the womb, then the others are frozen. If the first cycle does not produce a born child, then the frozen embryos are thawed. Many die just as a result of the thawing process. Then you are left with the enormous dilemma of what to do with the frozen embryos. For some of these the parents cannot be found, or they divorce, and the father does not want the mother to have the child as he would have to pay child support. These are just a few of the moral dilemmas we face with IVF."

http://www.spuc.org.uk/about/e...

For the removal of doubt, Greg

Rosie's picture

Just so you don't get the impression that by not addressing your statements regarding IVF babies I think for a moment that there is any merit in them, let me make it clear I do not.

Firstly, this is a discussion about abortion, and any person who goes to the trouble and expense of seeking a baby through IVF is not likely to seek an abortion.

Secondly, are you aware that within seconds of fertilisation the embryo is immediately inserted in to the womb?

Thirdly, what your friends in Auckland think about the social or any other status of IVF babies is of no relevance or concern to a discussion about abortion.

Greg

Rosie's picture

Nice try.

Tell me, do you think that Ayn Rand acknowledges a distinction between legal duties and moral duties?
You see, from what you have written, it would seem that you do not understand the distinction and do not consider that Ayn Rand did also. Failure to recognise the validity of any legal duties logically means the failure to recognise the validity of any legal right. If you dispute the validity of any legal right you are, in effect, disputing the validity of the rule of law, the authority of government to legislate and the authority of the court to interpret and apply the legislation to any given set of circumstances before it and adjudicate over any claims. In short, you are an anarchist.

Philosophically, if you assert that there is no such thing as a moral duty it follows that you assert that there is no such thing as a moral right. So from where does this notion of "choice" arise? Does a human have a right to his choice? Note that a power to choose is a category of a right. Are there any protections for him in his choice? Or can we all just run roughshod over his choice?

Perhaps you might like to have another shot at reason.

Reporting a judicial decision from the court in this instance was to illustrate the court's recognition that a foetus has legal status.

Reporting that legislation recognises the existence of a duty of care owed by the mother to her unborn child further supports the legal status of a foetus and because in law a duty entails a correlative right, this evidence also supports a recognised legal right of the foetus.

The point being that there is a direct contradiction in what Peikoff is asserting to be a fact regarding the status of a foetus (a clump of cells) and what the law asserts.

Saturn's Children

Richard Goode's picture

Libertarianism and Abortion - a definitive statement of the Christian libertarian position on abortion from Tim Wikiriwhi.

Objectivism must die

Richard Goode's picture

before I throw up.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term “duty.”

Oh, right. So Rand thought she had no duty to respect other people's right to life?

The meaning of the term “duty” is: the moral necessity to perform certain actions for no reason other than obedience to some higher authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive, desire or interest.

What utter fucking bullshit.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

How old are you?

(What I'm asking is, when *exactly* did *your* life begin?)

No Goode

gregster's picture

"Since an arbitrary statement has no connection to man’s means of knowledge or his grasp of reality, cognitively speaking such a statement must be treated as though nothing had been said.

[..]

In a sense, therefore, the arbitrary is even worse than the false. The false at least has a relation (albeit a negative one) to reality; it has reached the field of human cognition, although it represents an error—but in that sense it is closer to reality than the brazenly arbitrary."

Therefore I'm generous to reply with anything at all. Rosie's post is a wordy juxtaposition of falsities with the arbitrary.

Starts with a fallacious comparison. "I wonder whether Leonard is aware that in his own country, when a man took the life of a pregnant woman (who was not in the third trimester) he was charged and found guilty of two murders." The cherry-picking of an instance where the outcome from a court suits her argument.

"Although unborn, the human embryo or foetus is alive - it is not dead. Its life has begun." It is dead without the woman.

A biological fact of every human life is that it begins in the womb." Not strictly the case.

"that it is alive and human is indisputable." Of human origin. What would that created from a designer genome be? Would the same emotionalism apply. Yes, religionists resisted IVF development and still resist stem cell research. I know some goblinites in Auckland who state that IVF-conceived children are inferior or "not proper."

"The fact that it is alive and human is recognised in the duty of care owed to embryos and foetuses in law." That is not to make an argument. That is saying that what politicians decide is somehow correct. Ridiculous.

"Where there is a duty there is also a correlative right." Two or three clangers in one short sentence. Since this begins with Peikoff, here is Ayn Rand; "One of the most destructive anti-concepts in the history of moral philosophy is the term “duty.” [..] "In a mystic theory of ethics, “duty” stands for the notion that man must obey the dictates of a supernatural authority.""

I like it

Doug Bandler's picture

Hanging out there and interacting with the cretins who live there after publishing, ~would~ be a waste of time because you'd be drowned out. Whatever is said in the comments section, Peikoff's article is ~always~ going to be at the top of that pile.

And ~that~ is a tangible benefit.

A fair point. I especially like your phrase "we come to bury socialism". Hah.

"We come to bury socialism not to praise it."

Oh I like that.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

Until I'm born again.

I look forward to the day. Smiling

I'll leave that other guff

gregster's picture

I'll leave that other guff alone but this one takes the cake; You're an accessory to murder. If I am - how come your Goblin doesn't get the blame. I can't help it. I was made to be evil. Until I'm born again.

What Rosie said

Richard Goode's picture

I (mostly) agree with Rosie.

a moral right to commit a moral wrong – for which the only plausible philosophical justification is so that people may learn about morality from the consequences of morally wrong acts

An interesting idea - germane to the conversation here.

gregster(minator)

Richard Goode's picture

You have a nerve to believe your nonsense and force your superstitions upon others.

No, Greg. It is *you* who has a nerve to believe *your* nonsense ("the embryo is clearly pre-human ... a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman's body") and force *your* stupid, stinking superstition (Objectivism is a religion) upon others.

You condone the wholesale slaughter of millions of innocent people who have the simple misfortune of being in the wrong place (their mothers' wombs) at the wrong time (the first few months of their short lives).

As usual, you religionists believe you own a part of other peoples' lives.

You're an accessory to murder.

Greg

Rosie's picture

Pro-life means being pro the life of an individual with rights, rather than the embryo.

As I pointed out in my post, clearly the law accepts that the human embryo does have a right if a correlative duty of care is required of the mother.

I do not presume for a moment that I own part of another's life! My post contains no superstition. It addresses philosophical issues of morality, rights-based arguments and existing law.

I look forward to the day when you illustrate integrity to your belief that reason is your only absolute and address what is actually written. Ad hominem is no substitute for reason.

Jules

Rosie's picture

1. Rape

When a woman is raped she has the right to report it to the police and have a medical examination. The day after pill is offered as a matter of course.

2. Take care to analyse facts and ignore political bias in journalism

Your article from the Guardian does not provide evidence that laws prohibiting abortion except in circumstances where the life of the mother is threatened are wrongful; it provides evidence of a woman receiving inadequate medical services and care when her circumstances fulfilled the legal condition for an abortion.

Ms Purchas

gregster's picture

It is the taking of a life. And no person has the right to take away the life of another.

Another? This "other" is not "another." It is a dependent. Pro-life means being pro the life of an individual with rights, rather than the embryo. Who are you to meddle in the affairs of women who choose early term abortions? As usual, you religionists believe you own a part of other peoples' lives. That is immoral. You have a nerve to believe your nonsense and force your superstitions upon others.

Rosie

Damien Grant's picture

I agree that abortion is immoral and I like the symmetry argument being put to practical effect.

It annoys me that the issue is defined as "choice" when the child has no choice.

The choice was getting pregnant. The pro abortion argument cannot be made on moral grounds.

I am in favour of abortion on demand for a number of reasons but I think having an abortion (birth defects and other medical complications alter dramatically this moral equation) a profoundly immoral act. That does not mean I wish to see the state intervine.

The mother cannot and should not be forced to carry the child to term against her will. She is the moral agent.

She must choose her own actions. Should the state prevent her from smoking or drinking?

The moral choice lies with her. Not the collective, because the cost of pregnancy lives with her.

I think that the cost borne by the mother is what separates this case from other areas where the state may have a right to forcefully intervene.

ARI wasting time?

Robert's picture

"If you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite." W.S. Churchill after formally declaring war on Japan following Japan's surprise attack on Malaya & Singapore.

The same sentiment applies here. We come to bury Socialism and in the age where the act of publishing is as simple as pressing a button, why not publish at the Huff. Post?

Besides, socialism on makes sense when you are hermetically sealed inside a room filled exclusively with other socialists. If the real world leaks in, the spell is usually broken if your brain hasn't atrophied that is.

Hanging out there and interacting with the cretins who live there after publishing, ~would~ be a waste of time because you'd be drowned out. Whatever is said in the comments section, Peikoff's article is ~always~ going to be at the top of that pile.

And ~that~ is a tangible benefit.

Well

Jules Troy's picture

What about rape?

and how bout this?

http://m.guardian.co.uk/world/...

Not exactly a shining example for "right to life" groups...

An inconvenient truth

Rosie's picture

Does she have the right to choose murder? That's what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.
The status of the embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that cannot be sidestepped. The embryo is clearly pre-human; only the mystical notions of religious dogma treat this clump of cells as constituting a person.
We must not confuse potentiality with actuality.

I wonder whether Leonard is aware that in his own country, when a man took the life of a pregnant woman (who was not in the third trimester) he was charged and found guilty of two murders. Clearly, the criminal court in the US is not of the view that an unborn child is a pre-human “clump of cells” or that it was “ludicrous” to consider the death of the unborn child. Indicating recognition of an unborn child's right to life, a mother is deemed in law to have a duty of care to her unborn child which means that if her behaviour is injurious to the health of the child and brought to the attention of the government authority, she may be prosecuted.

On another SOLO thread about abortion, I posted links to many photographs of aborted embryos and foetuses. From the earliest photos, at only about four or five weeks old, you can see a tiny baby with little hands and feet. To see these photos and to say “pre-human” or a “clump of cells”, is what is ludicrous.

From a philosophical point of view, subject to one exception, I disagree with the assertion made that to not allow abortion is to take away a right. I do not think that a right to abortion exists. There is a right to life for the mother and a duty from medical practitioners to assist in preserving life and so an abortion would be morally permissible in circumstances where the pregnancy would jeopardise the life of the mother, e.g., an ectopic pregnancy.

Although unborn, the human embryo or foetus is alive - it is not dead. Its life has begun.
It is not correct to call it pre-human. Its technical name is human embryo or human foetus.
A biological fact of every human life is that it begins in the womb. Its physical location and the fact that its existence has just begun bears no relevance to whether it is alive or human. And since it is not dead, has human dna and is the offspring of human parents, that it is alive and human is indisputable.

The fact that it is alive and human is recognised in the duty of care owed to embryos and foetuses in law. Where there is a duty there is also a correlative right. This must be the right to life and it must therefore begin in the womb; and the right to life entails that no other person has the right to take any action that would interfere with this right.

The person who seeks to have an abortion, therefore, commits moral wrong when she seeks to destroy a life and when she violates the moral right to that life. She commits another morally wrong act in paying someone else to act wrongfully performing the abortion. Her motive is also morally wrong: to avoid the truth and reality of her life; to avoid the responsibilities and consequences of her freely chosen actions.

Her right to life was not taken away by pregnancy. Fact is, she waived her right to her life being pregnancy-free when she chose to have sex and failed to use contraception. Fact is, she also waived her right to having an illegitimate child, emotional stability and economic security when she chose to have sex without contraception with a man who did not wish to marry her. Abortion is not a form of contraception. It is the taking of a life. And no person has the right to take away the life of another.

Fact is, also, that when she exercised a moral right to commit a moral wrong – for which the only plausible philosophical justification is so that people may learn about morality from the consequences of morally wrong acts – instead of learning about morality, taking responsibility and going on to make moral choices , if she wants an abortion on demand she thinks that she should be protected from the consequences of her immoral act, that the consequences allow her another right to commit an immoral act and also brazenly accepting that someone else will quite happily to do it for her. It seems remarkably shallow thinking to me. Governments should have no role in protecting irresponsible citizens from the consequences of their immoral choices. To do so, and particularly when to do so requires the commission of further immoral acts from its citizens, doesn't foster moral responsibility and I think legislating to protect people from the consequences of their wrong actions creates moral confusion because these consequences teach us to think about right and wrong which can lead to new ideas that advance our understanding of morality.

I don't see it that way

gregster's picture

And again they're damned when they do..

If lefties can begin their discovery with some commonality that is a positive.

waste of fucking time

Doug Bandler's picture

Why is the ARI wasting time submitting anything to the Huffington Post; ie Leftism central? The fact that they even did this fills me with disgust. Trying to reach out to Leftists? Jesus fucking Christ on a pony.

I.Want.To.Spit.

Fair comment

gregster's picture

Poor old Leonard is damned if he does and near damned if he doesn't.

Interesting ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Abortion rights advocates should not cede the terms "pro-life" and "right to life" to the anti-abortionists. It is a woman's right to her life that gives her the right to terminate her pregnancy. Nor should abortion-rights advocates keep hiding behind the phrase "a woman's right to choose." Does she have the right to choose murder? That's what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.

The status of the embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that cannot be sidestepped. The embryo is clearly pre-human; only the mystical notions of religious dogma treat this clump of cells as constituting a person.

We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman's choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman's body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous.

Quite so.

But why doesn't Leonard address the issue of the third trimester? Some Objectivists, including myself and Tibor Machan, have parted company from Rand on this. Peikoff's article is great for what it does say, but disappointing for what it doesn't. This is a typical example of the Objectivist orthodoxy being terrified to move beyond The Word of Ayn. Remember, our first question must always be, what is the reality here, not, what did Rand say!?

Don’t like abortions? Don’t get aborted.

Richard Goode's picture

dont_get_aborted

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