]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]      SECOND REPLY TO MR. GAEDE     [[[[[[[[[[[[[[
                    on the Subject of Abortion        (10/4/1989)
                        by Oleg Panczenko

                        26 September 1989

REPLY I.1: Under Objectivist philosophy, abortion is not murder.
I.1.1  I agreed that, under  Ayn Rand's philosopy of Objectivism,
eabortion is not murder.
I.1.2   However,  Objectivism   is  deficient  as   a  system  of
philosophy  because it  is insufficiently  grounded in  a general
framework.  Too many proposals are asserted rather than sustained
analytically.  For an account of the deficiencies in knowledge of
philosophy by members of the Rand Cult see Rothbard.
I.1.3  Rand's epistemology is authoritarian in that knowledge can
be certain and  known to be  absolutely true, in  contrast to the
skeptical rationalism of Hume-Popper-Hayek.
I.1.4  The use of reason cannot be justified by reason.
I.1.5  I agree with Hume that reason alone cannot provide us with
a system of normative ethics.
I.1.6   ``The whole  political point  of  the Humean  (and indeed
Hayekian)  critique of  the role  of reason  in human  affairs is
precisely that  it is  more likely  to be  used for authoritarian
ends than libertarian ones.'' (Barry, p. 131)
I.1.7  Rand is wrong when she  says that freedom in necessary for
human  survival.   The  survival-value  of   freedom  depends  on
I.1.8  Consider primitive men: their  lives are governed by myth,
rigid codes of behavior, ceremony and all encompassing religions.
The precepts  for survival,  unarticulated and  even unknown, are
embodied  in what  some  would dismiss  as  `superstition'.  Such
restrictions  on  individual  autonomy  are  necessary  to assure
survival because primitive man lives  on the brink of extinction.
The cost of experimentation is too often death, and there are not
so many  men that  they can be  expended.  The  importance of the
individual to the survival of the group is too great to allow him
to be free.
1.I.9   Capitalism  makes  greater   freedom  both  possible  and
necessary.   For  in  an  industrialized  capitalist  society the
consequences  of failure  are  diminished: we  have  insurance, a
surplus of material goods and rapid transportation, so that goods
may be  transported from  regions of  plenty to  regions of want.
Our science  and technology,  along with  our empirical approach,
allows us to greatly reduce the uncertainties of the consequences
of our action.
I.1.10 Freedom becomes  necessary because we  are less certain of
what the  best survival  strategy is  as society  grows ever more
complex.   We  should  tolerate  experimentation  by  individuals
(though intolerance  has its place).   People then  adapt what is

REPLY: I.2. On Fallacious arguments and ``A is A''.
I.2.1   The law  of identity,  stated in  the formulation  due to
Leibniz (1646-1716), is `A  is A'.  In modern  notation it may be
written  x =  x.   The law  of identity  may  be understood  in a
semantic  sense as  stating that  a term  must preserve  the same
denotation throughout any given context.  I gave it as an example
of an assertion  which seems obviously  and irrefutably true, yet
which has  been picked at  by philosophers.  The  question of how
things that vary with time can be identical with themselves dates
back at least to the  time of Heraclitus (c.535-c.475 B.C.).  His
assertion that one cannot  step in the same  river twice (for the
water  flows)  is  well  known.   Here  are  a  few  remarks from
Wittgenstein (1889-1951):
     ``3.323 ... (In  the proposition ``Green  is green'' --
     where the first word  is a proper name  and the last an
     adjective  --  these words  have  not  merely different
     meanings   but    they   are    different   symbols.)''
     ``4.243 ... Expressions like  ``a = a'', or expressions
     deduced from these  are neither elementary propositions
     nor otherwise significant signs.  (Wittgenstein)
     ``5.5303  ...  [T]o say  of  two things  that  they are
     identical is nonsense, and to  say of one thing that it
     is  identical   with  itself   is  to   say  nothing.''
     ``5.534  ...[W]e see  that apparent  propositions like:
     ``a =  a'' ... cannot  be written in  a correct logical
     notation at all.''  (Wittgenstein)
I refer  interested readers  to Edwards,  Encyclopedia and Quine,
Methods of Logic,  though there are many  books on philosophy and
logic which cover the idea of `identity'.
I.2.2  ``Stolen  Concept'' is a  Randian term.  It  means using a
concept  while  denying  the  antecedent  concepts  on  which  it
(logically)  depends.   One  must  use  care  in  classifying  an
argument  as  suffering  from the  fallacy  of  `Stolen Concept',
because  practical  questions cannot  be  reduced  to syllogistic
exercises. It  is quite  possible to  reach the  same conclusions
using  different  lines   of  argument.   There   is  no  logical
inconsistency in  holding conclusion  B, which  is identical with
conclusion A, while  rejecting arguments B1,  B2, ... Bn, because
one is using arguments A1, A2, ... An.
I.2.3  Certainly  one can  criticize of  Kant's classification of
axioms into  analytic (``true  by virtue  of the  meanings of the
words used  to formulate  them'', Scruton,  History, p.  139) and
synthetic  (``saying  something   about  the  empirical  world'',
Scruton, History, p. 139).  The American philosopher W.V.O. Quine
has  attacked  the  distinction  (Quine,  View),  and  there  are
philosophers who argue that the laws of logic have some empirical
reference.   But  this  is not  grounds  to  call  the `analytic-
synthetic'  classification a  fallacy.  Kant's  classification is
considered a fallacy by Ayn  Rand and Objectivists, who hold that
objective reality  is absolutely  knowable by  human intelligence
(as contrasted with, for example, the skeptical rationalists such
as  Hume, Popper  and  Hayek), but  at  best it  is  premature to
consider it so.

REPLY I.3: `Will to death' not characteristic of collectivists.
I.3.1    The  ``will   to  death''   is  not   characteristic  of
collectivists generally.  I define  `collectivists' to mean those
who put the good  of the group before  the good of the individual
(clearly  there  are  limits,  for   the  group  is  composed  of
individuals), and  by `sacrifice' I  mean coercing  or forcing an
individual to do something which  benefits the group at some cost
to  himself.   Suppose  we measure  the  goodness  of  a survival
strategy  of  a  group  by the  degree  of  proliferation  of its
members.  Suppose that groups  which `sacrifice' certain of their
members proliferate  more than  those that  do not.   Clearly, in
this hypothetical case, `collectivism'  is a manifestation of the
``will  to  life''.    One  can  argue   that  a  willingness  to
`sacrifice'  for the  group,  i.e. `altruistic'  behavior,  is an
inborn mechanism to  assure the survival  of the group (species).
In any case, collectivism does  not logically presuppose a ``will
to death''.

REPLY I.4:  Social context.
I.4.1  The  disagreement here is  due to different  senses of the
word `social'.   One may  exist within  a social  context without
necessarily  having  any  social   interaction.   A  prisoner  in
solitary confinement  has no  systematic interaction  with others
(i.e., social interaction),  but the fact  of his imprisonment is
due  to the  existence of  a  social context!   It is  clear that
though the  fetus itself is  incapable of  social interaction, it
can provoke a great deal of social interaction by others!
I.4.2  If the fetus has a right  to life then it can be prevented
from exercising  it.  In  any case,  the possession  of rights is
contingent neither on  the ability to  exercise those rights, nor
for a need or use for those rights.  A natural-rights philosopher
would argue that  human beings possess  certain rights by nature.
Hence  human beings  possess rights  even  if they  are comatose,
senile,  asleep, or  in  any other  state  where they  cannot act
volitionally.  A human  being would still  possess rights even if
he were the only one in the universe.
I.4.3  In any case, as  soon as the abortionist's tool penetrated
the womb,  a social context  would be  established, thus endowing
the fetus with rights and  making any procedure which resulted in
its death a crime.

REPLY I.5: Use of `Kiss-of-death'.
I.5.1   There  is an  implicit  ``Kiss-of death''  element  in Mr
Gaede's  arguments.  He  associates  opposition to  abortion with
strongly religious people.   Since he considers  the religious to
be highly  irrational, one can  infer that he  considers the held
belief that abortion is wrong to be irrational as well.

REPLY I.6: Abortion is an impermissible use of force.
I.6.1   According  to  Rand,  ``[F]orce   may  be  used  only  in
retaliation  and  only  against  those  who  initiate  its use.''
(Rand, s.v. Self-Defense)
I.6.2   The fetus  is  a being  utterly  devoid of  volition.  It
cannot initiate anything.   It came into  being solely because of
the willful, volitional acts of its biological parents.  If it is
even  a minimally  rights-bearing entity  then  any use  of force
against  it  is  impermissible.   Abortion,  which  by definition
entails the death of  the fetus, is thus  an impermissible use of
I.6.3   Further, from  the Principle  of Nonaggression  we derive
one's obligation to provide for the care of those whom he has put
in a state  of helplessness through either  his direct actions or
the foreseeable consequences of his indirect actions.
I.6.4   By  its  nature  a `duty'  is  something  which  can't be
discarded or passed off. It is inalienable (non-transferable).  A
slave is chattel, an article of personal, movable property.  Duty
is not  slavery, though  one may be  a slave  to duty,  and it is
possible to use  `duty' to reduce  a man to  little better than a
slave.   Deontology  is the  branch of  philosophy which concerns
itself with ideas of duty and obligation.  The word `slavery', as
used by Mr Gaede, is Randian jargon.
I.6.5  A mother  walks her colicky  baby at three  in the morning
because of  her duty  to it.   She does  not do  it for happiness
(defined  by Rand  as a  ``state  of non-contradictory  joy'') or
I.6.6   Suppose the  following: You  are  standing by  a swimming
pool.  Next  to your  foot is  a switch  which, when  stepped on,
triggers an automatic life-saving device.  A man is drowning, and
you are the only one nearby.  I  would argue that you have both a
legal and a moral duty  to step on the switch.   I do not see how
this makes you a `slave'.  Granted there are degrees of and kinds
of `duty',  and that there  are many arguments  about what `duty'
entails.  But the members of a civilized society must accept some
notion of `duty' if their society is to survive.

REPLY I.7. Artificial Wombs no solution.
I.7.1  `Babies' do not go  into artificial wombs; fetuses do.  If
the fetus has no rights, removing it from the artificial womb and
discarding it  cannot be  murder.   Only  rights-bearing entities
can be murdered (rights-bearing is a necessary but not sufficient
condition).  If the fetus has no rights, killing it either inside
or outside of the womb is of no import.
I.7.2   Suppose the  following: Fetuses  can be  removed unharmed
from a mother's  womb.  A hospital  has a policy  of assuming all
costs associated with removing and  caring for an unwanted fetus.
A mother refuses  to allow her  removed fetus to  be placed in an
artificial womb.  Indeed, she insists that it be thrown away with
the  excised  cancers  and  amputated  limbs.   What  should  the
hospital do?  Does the mother have  a say over the disposition of
her fetus when it is inside her, but not when it is removed?

REPLY I.8: Influence of the Roman Catholic Church good and bad.
I.8.1   I  ask  Mr  Gaede  to  cite  any  authoritative  historic
pronouncement from the Church opposing the use of anesthetics.
I.8.2  The influence  of the Church  has been both  good and bad.
From it we get  the doctrine of natural  law, the idea of limited
government, the idea of the  inviolable rights of the individual,
and ideas  of just  wars and just  conduct of  wars.  Our written
inheritance from Greece and Rome  comes to us only through copies
made by Catholic  scribes. The originals  have disintegrated long
ago.  Hayek states that
     ``[E]ven  agnostics   ought  to  be   grateful  to  the
     religious  traditions  which, for  reasons  they cannot
     accept,  have preserved  long enough  those nonrational
     beliefs that  made available  the building  elements of
     the  extended  order   which  we  call  civilization.''
     (Hayek, p. 322)
I.8.3   The  Church  was also  responsible  for  the Inquisition,
though  that  was  in   part  a  reaction  against  Revolutionary
messianism in Medieval  and Reformation Europe  (see Cohn).  And,
particularly after  the Galileo  affair, the  Church took  a turn
towards  rigidity in  matters of  orthodoxy.   But this  was also
partly  a  reaction against  the  Reformation  (see Finocchiaro's
introductory essay in Galileo).
I.8.4  In any case,  the Church of the  12th century is different
from the Church of  the 16th Century which  is different from the
Church  of the  early 20th  century which  is different  from the
Church of the  late 20th century.  Given  such great variation in
dogmatic outlook, prediction of the  Church's teachings is not as
straightforward as one would suppose.

REPLY I.9: Hidden agendas.
I.9.1  There is no hidden  agenda. The religious argument against
abortion is clear: No one can  force you to become pregnant.  But
if you do become pregnant you  have the duty to see the pregnancy
to  term and  to  raise the  child.  This  duty  is one  of piety
(non-contractual,   non-voluntary  obligation).    Further,  this
obligation  also  exists because  the  being you  conceive  is an
innocent human  life, and  it is  impermissible to  take innocent
life. (This is a deliberately simplified summary.)
I.9.2  You may disagree with this  line of argument, but there is
nothing `hidden' about it.

REPLY I.10: Soundness of analogy of robbers/ex-robbers.
I.10.1   The  point  of  the  analogy  is  this:  if  an  act  is
impermissible, the convenience or happiness  of those who want to
perform the act cannot be a matter of consideration.

REPLY I.11: No disagreement.

REPLY I.12: Socialism Promoted by the Roman Catholic Church.
The world's  greatest socialist economies  are under  the rule of

II. `Libertarians for Life' and other matters.

II.1   Doris Gordon  argues  from a  natural  rights perspective.
Natural rights are  ``rights which belong to  all human beings by
nature, and independently of positive law [law `posited', or laid
down]'' (Scruton, Dictionary).

II.2 Mr  Gaede holds  that `rights  are acquired  at birth' (i.e.
`social context') and that they  are ``activated by human social,
volitional,  rational,  acting,  nature.''   But  a  baby  cannot
acquire rights, for `acquisition'  implies effort, and a nenonate
is incapable of effort  (presumably it must do  more than cry for
its  rights).  Hence  a baby's  rights are  either bestowed  by a
rights-granting  authority or  are inherent.   But we  reject the
idea of a rights-granting authority (God or the State).  Hence if
the  baby is  a rights-bearing  entity after  its birth  (true by
hypothesis) it must be a rights-bearing entity before its birth.

As to the assertion that the baby's rights are `activated' by its
birth: What  can be activated  must be latent,  implying that the
baby has  some sort  of inherent  rights.  Is  the right  to have
rights activated by birth?  Yet this itself is a right.

II.3   A  newborn  baby  does have  the  right  to  be  a nuclear
physicist,  for the  possession  of a  right  and the  ability to
exercise it are not predicated on  each other.  As soon as a baby
becomes a citizen  (say after the moment  of birth), it possesses
the right of Free Speech, as defined by the Government and Courts
of the United Sates.  Clearly it  has no ability to exercise that

II.4  Mr Gaede establishes a  false distinction between the right
to abortion  and the  right to  kill.  By  definition abortion is
``[a]ny fatally  premature expulsion of  an embryo  or fetus from
the womb.'' (American Heritage Dictionary, s.v. abortion).  Hence
abortion is killing.  It is a very crude method of birth control.

II.5  Ayn Rand states that  ``[a] child cannot acquire any rights
until it  is born''.   Mr Gaed  claims that  a mother  carrying a
child does  not have the  right to  knowingly consume teratogenic
substances because ``[t]he unborn  are entitled to an implication
of rights.''  Entitlement establishes a right. The entitlement to
an  implication of  rights  is a  right.   Hence the  unborn have
rights,  contradicting  the  proposition that  the  fetus  has no
rights.  Secondly,  if the  unborn have no  rights then  it is no
crime for  the mother  to do  whatever she  wishes to  her unborn
child.  She cannot be punished after the birth of the child, when
it become a rights-bearing entity, for  what she did to the child
before it was a rights-bearing entity.

II.6  I agree that there is nothing inherently sacred about human
life and that ``rights are epistemological constructs and have no
metaphysical existence even though they refer to human nature''.

II.7  Human life  has value only  because we give  it value.  The
question of abortion  will not be resolved  by argument or reason
but  by a  shift of  the  popular Weltanschauung  one way  or the


Barry, Norman P. On  Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism. New
   York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.
   Chapter 7 is devoted to ``Ayn Rand and Egoism''.

Cohn, Norman. The Pursuit of the Millennium, Second Edition.  New
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Edwards,  Paul, Ed.  The  Encyclopedia of  Philosophy.  New York:
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   s.v. Identity.

Galilei,  Galileo.  The  Galileo  Affair: A  Documentary History.
   Edited  and  translated  with  an  introduction  and  notes by
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Hayek,  Friedrich A.   The Essence  of  Hayek.  Edited  by Chiaki
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Kant,  Immanuel.  Logic.  Translated,  with  an  introduction, by
   Robert  S.  Hartman  Wolfgang  Schwarz.   1974  translation of
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   New York: Dover Publications, 1988.

Quine,  Willard Van  Orman.  From  a Logical  Point of  View, 2nd
   Edition.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961.
   See ``Two Dogmas of Empiricism'', pp. 20-46 for a criticism of
   the analytic-synthetic distinction.

Quine,  Willard Van  Orman. Methods  of  Logic, 3rd  Edition. New
   York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972.
   Chapter 40, ``Identity'', pp. 221-226.

Rand, Ayn. The Ayn Rand Lexicon:  Objectivism from A to Z. Edited
   by Harry Binswanger. New York: New American Library, 1986.
   Dr.  Binswanger, who  was an  associate of  Ayn Rand,  holds a
   doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University.

Rothbard, Murray  N.  ``My  Break With  Branden and  the Ayn Rand
   Cult''. Liberty 3(1), 27-32 (September 1989).

Scruton, Roger. From  Descartes to Wittgenstein:  A Short History
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Scruton,  Roger. A  Dictionary of  Political Thought.   New York:
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Wittgenstein, Ludwig.  Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated
   by C.K. Ogden. 1922.  Reprint.  New York and London: Routledge
   and Kegan Paul, 1988.

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