Then Who Am I?

According to The Nation‘s Eric Alterman, this is the definition of a Liberal:

 The “larger message” for what Roosevelt called “the liberal party” was a clear and simple one: “As new conditions and problems arise beyond the power of men and women to meet as individuals, it becomes the duty of the Government itself to find new remedies with which to meet them.” Add to this John Dewey’s precept that “government should regularly intervene to help equalize conditions between the wealthy and the poor, between the overprivileged and the underprivileged,” while acknowledging Reinhold Niebuhr’s prescient call for “humility” in all such undertakings, and you have a concise, compelling statement of what it means—then as now—to call oneself an “American liberal.”

I find the quotes Alterman includes here to be completely alien to my political position. Actually, they horrify me. This means I’m not a Liberal. Then who am I? This is not a rhetorical question. We all know I’m not a Conservative (just read the posts on abortion, housewives, religious fanatics, gay rights, etc.). And now it turns out I’m not a Liberal either.

Is there any group that shares my opinions? And please don’t say “Libertarians”, unless you can point me to the Libertarian activism aimed at keeping the government out of people’s uteri and their beds. Also, I don’t think that children are objects owned by their parents, which means I’m definitely not a Libertarian.

Who, then?

104 thoughts on “Then Who Am I?”

  1. You may well be a classical liberal in the sense of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman. Even in the sense of Charles Rowley. None of us share the attitudes of the religious right. We believe that private matters should not be the business of the state at all. We believe in capitalism, limited government, economic freedom, individual liberty and the rule of law. I have never seen you transgress any of those objectives in your blogs.

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    1. An acquaintance of mine used to call himself a classical liberal, using that same definition. This terminology was a regular source of confusion and annoyance for people when he would himself a (classical) liberal, but his political views didn’t match today’s ordinary definition of liberal. Lately he calls himself a small-l libertarian, which I think is clearer to people.

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      1. By “today’s ordinary definition of liberal”, you mean “the American definition of liberal”. In my country, Britain, liberalism is a socially progressive center-right ideology. It’s much closer to what you’d call libertarianism, but European libertarianism is leftist-anarchism. See how confusing this gets?

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  2. Murray Rothbard argued for abortion on grounds of property rights. Since the mother owns her own body she has the right to expel even a “living baby” in the same way that a homeowner can expel an unwanted tenant. Rothbard did not recognize “children” as a legal category. There are people with the intelligence to form contracts and engage in homesteading, thus becoming political players, and those who do not have this ability. This would give children the right to walk out on their parents. No one owns anyone else.

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    1. “Rothbard did not recognize “children” as a legal category. There are people with the intelligence to form contracts and engage in homesteading, thus becoming political players, and those who do not have this ability.”

      – You see? Obviously, I can’t agree with that. So this political movement is out.

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        1. “It would give you what you want, freeing children from their parents and allowing them, at least in theory, to act as full adults.”

          – Ah, here you go again, ascribing your opinions to me. 🙂

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      1. Forgive me but I try to understand your opinions. From reading you I took it that you were trying to free children from their parents. Your solution at the moment seems to be to bring in government. Rothbard is giving you an alternative. The point here is to keep children out of the hands of parents who abuse them.

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      2. Rothbard believed that parents shouldn’t be obligated to take care of their children. He actually thought you should be allowed to kick your daughter out on the curb and let her starve. Can we all agree that is a horrifying idea?

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        1. “Rothbard believed that parents shouldn’t be obligated to take care of their children. He actually thought you should be allowed to kick your daughter out on the curb and let her starve. Can we all agree that is a horrifying idea?”

          – There are all kinds of weirdos in the world.

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        2. Saying that people have a legal right to kick their child out on the curb is different then saying that they should. This is a good example of how being a classical liberal is about method and not ideology. I believe that parents and children, as with everyone else, should peacefully work out rational arrangements as how they should relate to each other. What sort of relationships they may choose to work out is a different matter.

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          1. “Saying that people have a legal right to kick their child out on the curb is different then saying that they should.”

            There some things that are immoral that shouldn’t be illegal (for example, adultery). But kicking your child to the curb is one of those immoral things that ought to be illegal too. Do you agree?

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          2. Are you still talking about underage children? What rational agreement can they reach with people who hold so much power over every aspect of their existence?

            As for the legal right to kick one’s children out, what about my right not to see starving miserable children in public spaces? I think that right should trump the rights of people who are so useless that they can’t put on a condom right.

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      3. There is something ironic about your position regarding abortion and childcare. You support the right of parents to kill their unborn children. (Considering that much of the opposition to abortion comes from the assumption that a fetus is a living being, anyone who wishes to seriously defend legalized abortion needs to accept as their starting point that a fetus is a living being even if they do not personally agree. Rothbard is a good example of this in that he is willing to treat a fetus like a full human being.) Yet you are not willing to grant parents the simple right to kick their children out of the house, an action which will not directly lead to the death of the child. Either parents have property rights or they do not. On a side note, I do wonder if you are willing to place the parent who throws their child naked out into the cold to be worse than the helicopter parent.

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        1. “You support the right of parents to kill their unborn children.”

          – No, I don’t. “Unborn children” is an oxymoron and I respect the rules of the English language. 🙂

          “Considering that much of the opposition to abortion comes from the assumption that a fetus is a living being, anyone who wishes to seriously defend legalized abortion needs to accept as their starting point that a fetus is a living being even if they do not personally agree.”

          – So I need to accept the ravings of lunatics to defend my right not to be assaulted in the street by said lunatics who are in the grip of their delusions? No, thanks, I’m not interested. 🙂 Let them accept my position that fetuses are body parts and argue from that perspective. I see no reason for me to abandon my position for the sake of people who are evidently disturbed. Mind you, I do not advocate the intrusion into their bodies with the purpose of preventing them, miserable stupid freaks, from procreating. But they want to invade my body. They are the aggressor here and they are obviously in the wrong. I defend my own self-interest. They speak in the name of a fetus which – even if it were a potential human being or whatever – never authorized them to defend it in any way. Maybe the fetus’s only purpose is to be aborted. Who are they to decide? 🙂 🙂 The only person who can even remotely be expected to know the fetus’s wishes is the person out of whom it grows. 🙂

          ” Yet you are not willing to grant parents the simple right to kick their children out of the house, an action which will not directly lead to the death of the child. Either parents have property rights or they do not. ”

          – Parents don’t. Owners of their own bodies do.

          “On a side note, I do wonder if you are willing to place the parent who throws their child naked out into the cold to be worse than the helicopter parent.”

          – What’s the difference? Neither sees the child as a human being and, curiously, sees him or her precisely as a body part.

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          1. Speaking as an agnostic on the issue of when life begins, the idea that life begins before birth is hardly insanity. While birth is a pragmatic dividing line it makes no sense scientifically. A baby an hour before birth is biologically speaking indistinguishable from a baby, an hour after it is born. I agree that it is absurd to declare zygotes to be human beings, but I am not certain where to draw the line. Rothbard’s argument avoids the entire problem.
            Just as it makes little sense to premise pro-choice arguments on the assumption that a fetus is not alive, pro-lifers should argue based on the premise that a fetus is not a living being. One always needs to argue based on the other person’s premises.

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            1. “One always needs to argue based on the other person’s premises.”

              – Only if you respect the opponent and see a possibility of a dialogue. I consider anti-abortionists to be unworthy of a dialogue. These are very unhealthy people and arguing with them is like going to a lunatic asylum and trying to understand the point of view of insane people.

              Anti-abortionists consider me personally to be subhuman. There will be no dialogue or understanding of premises from me for such creatures. I was walking outside tonight when a dog started barking at me. Should I have stopped and tried to understand why it was attacking me?

              “A baby an hour before birth is biologically speaking indistinguishable from a baby”

              – There is no “baby” before birth.

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    2. Every argument you use to say that parents cannot throw out their children can be used against abortion.
      “What rational agreement can [underage children] reach with people who hold so much power over every aspect of their existence?”
      Fetuses are underage, incapable of reason and their parents literally have power over every aspect of their existence.
      “What about my right not to see starving miserable children in public spaces?”
      What about the right not to see abortion clinics or for that matter birth control pills and condoms in the public sphere?
      Read J. S. Mill’s On Liberty. There is no such thing as a right not to be exposed to something. Allow such a right to exist and every other right will cease to exist. Also I would add that your problem of public space would be solved in a Rothbardian system by eliminating all government property leaving only private property.

      “I think that right should trump the rights of people who are so useless that they can’t put on a condom right.”
      Pro-lifers would agree with you that their “rights” should trump that of people who cannot put on a condom.
      Understand that I support legalized abortion. My concern here is to make sure that abortion is properly defended and we do not accept principles in other places that pro-lifers can use against us.

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      1. “Fetuses are underage, incapable of reason and their parents literally have power over every aspect of their existence.”

        – Fetuses don’t have parents. Neither does hair. For some reason, nobody is trying to make hair salons illegal and people snip part of their bodies – that with today’s technology can reasonably be said to have a potential to transform into human beings – every single day there.

        “Pro-lifers would agree with you that their “rights” should trump that of people who cannot put on a condom.”

        – Who’s infringing upon THEIR rights in any way? What I do inside my own body cannot infringe upon anybody else by definition.

        “My concern here is to make sure that abortion is properly defended and we do not accept principles in other places that pro-lifers can use against us.”

        – What’s inside my body is nobody else’s business. Who needs a better argument? 🙂

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        1. “Fetuses don’t have parents. Neither does hair.”
          But if, for the sake of argument, we were to accept that fetuses were human beings with parents then would you say they had a right to life and could not be aborted?
          “Who’s infringing upon THEIR rights in any way? What I do inside my own body cannot infringe upon anybody else by definition.”
          But you claim that what a parent does in their house is other people’s business and they can interfere. What it comes down to is the fact that I do not see a difference between body and property. The body is simply the first piece of property someone can own and the most important, but still property. Do you recognize these things as different? Based on what?

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          1. “But if, for the sake of argument, we were to accept that fetuses were human beings with parents then would you say they had a right to life and could not be aborted?”

            – We then have to accept that I committed mass murder when I cut my hair two weeks ago and I just can’t do that. 🙂 On a serious note, I can’t imagine a reality where a hair (a fetus, a toenail) is a person. I also can’t imagine a reality where people have five heads and I’m not ready to discuss what kind of legislation should be adopted to defend the rights of those 5 heads. These are hypotheticals that are so far outside of human experience that I can’t address them and I don’t see why I should.

            “But you claim that what a parent does in their house is other people’s business and they can interfere.”

            – As soon as a child is born, it becomes his or her house as well. And, of course, people can interfere in what you do in your house. If you invite me over and murder me, I’m sure you’d agree that the authorities would be right in arresting you for that.

            ” What it comes down to is the fact that I do not see a difference between body and property.”

            – We spend a lot of time on somebody else’s property, which does not give the right to the owners of the property to do us any sort of harm. You can own the land or the house but you can’t own people who are on that land or in that house. Especially, if they appeared in that house through absolutely no fault of their own.

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            1. We are not talking about doing harm, just the right not to allow other people the use of one’s property. If I invite you over to my house I am allowed to tell you to leave whenever I wish. So why can I not tell a five year old post fetus to leave my house? If you want to take this post fetus and allow it onto your property that is up to you.
              Your willingness to deny the rationality of “anti-choicers” is in essence a denial of their agency, What is the biological difference between a fetus that will come out of the mother in an hour and a “fetus” that has been out of the womb for an hour? Both have all the signs usually associated with being “alive.”

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  3. How does the Alterman definition preclude State religions? Issues like the ultimate meaning of life are clearly beyond individuals so should the government step in and form an official religion? In truth just about everything in life is beyond the ability of mere individuals. (Have you ever tried manufacturing a pencil from scratch?) A true classical liberal is someone who believes that free markets, not government, should step in to provide those things, from pencils to religions, that people cannot create for themselves.

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    1. “How does the Alterman definition preclude State religions? Issues like the ultimate meaning of life are clearly beyond individuals so should the government step in and form an official religion? In truth just about everything in life is beyond the ability of mere individuals. (Have you ever tried manufacturing a pencil from scratch?) ”

      – Good points. This is precisely why I hated Alterman’s definitions. There is no telling what will end up being considered a crisis in need of governmental intervention.

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    2. You´re overreading. Look at who he cites and when they lived, and realize he´s describing the general influences and tendencies of Americans who, in the 20th century, have identified as «liberals». Remember that every history and civics class explains the difference between this general tendency and classical or 19th century liberalism.

      Alterman is citing Roosevelt who was talking about things like public works – problems individuals can´t solve as such – e.g. building libraries or getting fiber optic cable to your door. He´s not talking about establishing religions. Get a grip and some facts.

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      1. What modern liberals fail to understand is that, while they may not want it, their arguments open the door to bringing religion back into government, perhaps under a different label. This is why we need principled classical liberalism and cannot afford to budge from it.

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  4. Have you taken this test? http://www.politicalcompass.org/test It’s simplistic of course. But it is interesting and it callibrates things according to a couple of different scales…….So, I think the above quotation is clumsily worded but I don’t personally find it problematic. (I consider myself to be far left….) In general, when I read the above quotation, I took it to advocate for a social safety net– to advocate for thing like Soscial Security and welfare and unenployment–all of which I believe in. Do you support government funded health care? Do you support any welfare system at all? Do you believe in Social Security? If you answered yes to the above, then you probably are still liberal. But maybe a moderate liberal?

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    1. The test is weird. It makes the following statement: “It’s natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.”. Is there any reasonable human being who’d disagree? Or “Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society’s support.” Would anybody really disagree with that?

      In any case, according to the compass, I’m the Dalai Lama, with whom I disagree on pretty much everything. Hmmm. . . . 🙂

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      1. I’ve taken that test before, and it thinks that I too am aligned with the Dalai Lama. I think it’s a bit fuzzy and too capable of interpretation bias.
        There are lots of things in there that I can see other people answering differently, and some of those answers may well be due to fuzzy questions. That societies support one – there were at least five ways to interpret that question.
        The children and secrets question too; the answer you give will depend upon how you define natural and what your reaction to it is. Authoritarian people will read natural and have a thought process of: I don’t think kids who should have secrets therefore secrets are bad and my kids aren’t bad therefore it can’t be natural for kids to have secrets therefore I will strongly disagree.

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      2. Weirdly and sadly enough, there are many people who think it’s wrong for children to have a secret life apart from their parents. They believe that children should always reflect their parents. That only “bad” children keep secrets from their parents. …………….You are undeniably a social liberal. There is no question about that. Your support of gay/trans/women’s/men’s rights, puts you in that camp unarguably….. The thing that’s more difficult is whether you or a economic conservative or an economic liberal. I think that you are probably an economic moderate who leans towards the left. (Again, you have voiced a support of a social safety net, seem supportive of modest tax increases, are obviously in support of public primary and higher education etc. etc) But I could be wrong. You are complicated! 🙂

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      3. Clarissa, if you’re who I think you are, then you’re not only complicated, but you are also a “statistical outlier.” But I’m probably already saying too much considering my promise of anonymity re. A.I.S. (which is free of interpretation bias because it’s free of interpretation :-)). But there are six statistical outliers, so some CYA there…

        Also, not to be a moocher, but I’d be curious as to N’s professional opinion on use of “principal component analysis” in preparing the map of worldviews.

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        1. “Clarissa, if you’re who I think you are, then you’re not only complicated, but you are also a “statistical outlier.” ”

          – This sounds vaguely familiar, so you might be right. Have we met in RL? Shoot me an email if you’d like and we’ll figure this out. 😉

          “Also, not to be a moocher, but I’d be curious as to N’s professional opinion on use of “principal component analysis” in preparing the map of worldviews.”

          – I can ask, although I don’t understand the question. 🙂 🙂

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    2. Well I am left libertarian as usual, so far to that corner you couldn´t get further. All the presidential candidates are right authoritarian.

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  5. I´d have said you were a conservative, never understood why you said you were a liberal, *except* for the fact that nowadays, what passes for conservative is outright reactionary.

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  6. The liberal wing of the Republican party when it still existed, allowed for those kinds of liberties. Several conservative parties in Europe do. A presidential candidate you might be able to work with now would be Buddy Roemer. In the past, someone like Nelson Rockefeller.

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      1. I suspect you may like them both. That would mean I would have actually worthy opposition – different ideas and principles, but *coherent* opposition.

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  7. If you’re having such a hard time categorizing yourself, why bother? You’ve said it before that you hate collective identities.

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  8. A liberal is one who believes that government should be by the consent of the governed, that people have rights “civil rights” or “human rights” that must be protected against arbitrary acts of governments, like freedom of movement, speech etc. That there should be no detention without trial.

    If you believe in those things, you are a liberal.

    It seems that “liberal” and “American liberal” are two different things.

    Oh, and “liberal” and “classical liberal” are also two different things.

    I see “liberal” on its own meaning a political liberal, who believe the things above. Political liberals are not necessarily economic liberals. Economic liberals are the ones who look to Adam Smith, Milton Friedman & Co. And Neoliberalism is the ideology that seeks to revive all that sort of stuff.

    I prefer to be an unhyphenated liberal.

    But then I’m no kind of American, hyphenated or unhyphenated.

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    1. “A liberal is one who believes that government should be by the consent of the governed, that people have rights “civil rights” or “human rights” that must be protected against arbitrary acts of governments, like freedom of movement, speech etc. That there should be no detention without trial.”

      – Of course, I agree with all of that. But that seems to not be enough to fit the definition of an American liberal.

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  9. I am really puzzled by your rejection of the ‘liberal’ definition that you quote. The primary way in which government attempts to equalize the diffeences between economic and social classes is by subsidizing education, so that, for example, people born poor do not have to quit school and go to work at age 9, as a great uncle of mine did. If you believe that government should not work to educate everyone, thereby reducing the inequalities between the rich and the poor, how can you justify working at a (partially) publicly funded university? Thinking about the Alterman definition you quoted, I cannot think what else besides education of young people the reference to equalizing differences could possibly refer to.

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    1. The quote bothers me precisely because it says nothing specifically and allows for too much room for speculation. I’m all for public education but there is absolutely no indication that the quote was oriented towards that. The quote says “government should REGULARLY intervene.” I find it very hard to interpret regular intervention as subsidizing public schools. Actually, I have no idea how to interpret it, and that’s precisely the problem.

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      1. I think that perhaps what you object most to is bad writing. 😉 I must admit that the quotation is disastrously written. So you need the Politcal Party of Good Writers! Kidding. 🙂

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        1. “I think that perhaps what you object most to is bad writing. I must admit that the quotation is disastrously written. So you need the Politcal Party of Good Writers! Kidding.”

          – No, this makes total sense! Let’s outlaw torture of the English language! 🙂

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  10. I have trouble interpreting this as anything but education, except maybe for a person who is raising children alone who in an accident becomes profoundly disabled and thus ought to get some government assistance in the form of Social Security disability payments, for example.

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  11. A baby an hour before birth is biologically speaking indistinguishable from a baby, an hour after it is born.

    This is demonstrably false, regardless of the terminology. A fœtus an hour before birth derives oxygen from its placenta. A baby an hour after birth derives oxygen from his/her lungs, which in turn derive it from the air.

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    1. I am talking about the fetus itself. I assume you agree that an eighty year old using an oxygen tank is still fully human. Astronauts on the moon are still human. The fetus has lungs and is capable of breathing. Such a being clearly has more in common, biologically speaking, with a living human than with a strand of hair. The physical place a person is in and the supports they would need to stay alive in a given environment do not affect biology. Whether or not politically the fetus should be treated more like a human than a strand of hair is a separate issue. But such a position cannot be simply thrown away as irrational.

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      1. “The fetus has lungs and is capable of breathing. ”

        – I don’t think that the discussion of what’s “capable” of what is very productive. This is all so hypothetical that nobody can reasonably rely on it.

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        1. That a fetus has a pair of functional lungs, along with a heart and a brain, before it leaves the womb is a scientific fact. There is nothing hypothetical about it even if it is not politically convenient for people like us who want to keep abortion legal.

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            1. How do you define complex intelligent life? Most definitions include things like a functioning conscious brain, a heart and lungs and not just DNA.

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              1. I life is something you only have after you get born. This is why your life span is measured from the day of your birth, not of your conception. As far as I’m aware, even the most passionate anti-choicers celebrate their birthdays and say they are as many years old as they have actually lived, not including the gestation period. 🙂

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              2. While birth may be politically convenient as a dividing line it means nothing from a biological perspective. An interest in birthdays is a modern concept and their are practical and social reasons for not going based on conception. I never asked my parents on what day they concieved me and I assume they do not know the exact day.

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              3. “While birth may be politically convenient as a dividing line it means nothing from a biological perspective. ”

                – It just shows that the anti-choicers themselves don’t believe their own party line. 🙂

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              4. Whether or not people you recalculate their birthdays does not change the fact that leaving the womb is a very unscientific way of judging life. A more valid line would be the point at which the fetus develops that part of the brain the produces consciousness. All of this is a side issue from the point of what the basis is for your decision to draw a line between body and property. It is telling that your ideology relies on your ability to draw arbitrary lines when they are convenient for you instead of being based on firm principles.

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              5. The entire discussion of how a fetus right before birth and a baby right after are completely the same betrays such a profound ignorance of the human organism that it’s scary. The method of birth and the entire process of giving birth is discussed by women and health specialists so passionately and so at length not because they have nothing else to do but because the way a person comes into the world has an incomparably huge influence on that person’s entire life.

                It leaves me speechless to see how people manage to miss that entire chunk of knowledge. But I’m not surprised because when one needs to avoid noticing an herd of elephants for psychological reasons, nobody cannot do anything about it.

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              6. Yes the fact that human beings come from a womb has a tremendous influence on a person. This is a basic part of psychology going back to at least Freud. This has nothing to do with the fact that the physical human body does not gain a conscious brain, heart or lungs through leaving the womb.

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              7. I suspect that consciousness, as we normally understand it, begins around age two or two and a half. I have known people who said that they were not conscious until age 14.

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              8. Consciousness comes from a part of the brain, which exists before the fetus is born. It has nothing to do with whether you remember later on.

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      2. No, consciousness arises in the interaction of the brain, the body and the environment. Not the brain itself, else it would not be possible to have periods of unconsciousness. But I think memory of the time is a good marker. What evidence is there that it is not. (Bear in mind, it is impossible to define consciousness in a satisfactory way; it is the ultimate manifestation of the Russell Paradox.)

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      3. “The important thing is the existence of that part of the brain that creates consciousness.”

        This is not clear at all, even in the opposite direction! Can you prove conclusively that a tree is not conscious? The fact that you cannot communicate with it is not proof that it is not, as far as I can see.

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        1. I operate according to Occam’s razor and accept the simplist explanation. If there is nothing to indicate that a tree is conscious then I will assume it is not conscious until I am presented with evidence to indicate otherwise.

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      4. If there is nothing to indicate that a tree is conscious then I will assume it is not conscious until I am presented with evidence to indicate otherwise.

        Which is exactly how I evaluate a brain having little or no interaction with its environment. I do not believe that a brain in isolation is conscious. I argue that consciousness develops over time, and is a product of the interaction of two or more different systems interacting, whether brain and environment or some other two.

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  12. So why are you so insistent that coming out of the womb should define intelligent life that no sane person could ever think otherwise? On scientific grounds the development of a conscious brain makes much more sense. Strands of hair do not have conscious brains, but a fetus does.
    You insist that people who consider fetuses intelligent life do so for psychological reasons. Are you convinced that your reasons for not considering fetuses intelligent life are not also psychological?
    This is a side issue from why you draw a line between a body and property.

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    1. Once again, refuses are not intelligent LIFE because there is no life before birth. There is a potentiality but so what? If we start legislating potentialities that will be the end of all freedom forever.

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      1. I agree with you that politically it causes all sorts of trouble the moment we grant unborn fetuses the status of life. Of course saying that African slaves were intelligent life once caused a lot of political trouble. You claim that a fetus is only potential life. What is your basis for that when a fetus can have a concious brain and even feel pain?

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    2. Everything is “psychological “. I have a healthy relationship with my body and have managed to separate myself from my parents. This is my psychological reason for having no need to inscribe my opinions on other peoples bodies.

      Once again I remind you that anti choice position is that of extreme aggression. Mine does not aim to impose any aggression onto others. Hence it is clear that I’m the healthy one here.

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      1. Yet you grant yourself the right to practice “aggression” against other people’s property, telling them that they have to shelter, feed and cloth a “post birth fetus” for eighteen years.

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  13. @Izgad: it’s not that difficult. When a biological entitiy exists INSIDE somebody else, they are not yet alive and thus not entitled to protection by the law/state.The entitiy is literally part of a woman’s body. Once the entity is born and has an independent existance, s/he is now human and entitled to rights and is recognized by the law. I won’t argue from any other persepctive because any other perspective denies the very basis upon which I find abortion to be valid. If I start from the premise that the entitiy is human and the entitiy is like any other child who depends upon parental support to survive, then you are right: suddenly I find myself in a strange position where I have to allow parents to abuse their children. And of course, I don’t think that makes sense. The VERY point is that the moment of birth changes EVERYTHING. The moment of birth is when we recognize that entitiy as a social being; the moment of birth is when the entity leaves the mother’s body; the moment of birth is wheh the entity asumes an independent existence. So I will never recognize anything else OTHER than birth as granting life/personhood on to a being,

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    1. Whether or not someone is alive is different from being granted protection by a State. Regardless of whether the State should involve itself with an entity that has not left the body of the mother, why should we use birth as the standard for life as from a scientific perspective, the moment of birth changes nothing.
      What about people who are living inside their “mother” countries? Why should they have rights? Your willingness to throw in an arbitrary concept like living inside a mother as opposed to trespassing on someone else’s property opens you up to all sort of anti-liberal arguments.

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      1. We are going in circles. I thought we just agreed that the moment of birth changes everything.

        I never suggested that anybody lives inside a mother. Before a child is born, a woman cannot be a mother. I’m talking about body parts. And you still have not answered the question as to whether you are prepared for the government to defend your organs from you. Your kidneys, liver, heart, eyes are all potential lives – many of them! – that can be saved by harvesting your organs after your death. You are carrying a crowd of people inside you right now. So should the government be able to force you to live a healthy lifestyle to ensure that these organs are viable?

        And then there is that entire issue of sperm. Nobody will argue that there is ton of potentiality right there, going to waste all the time! Who cares if it’s inside the father, right? Let’s protect those babies right now! 🙂 🙂

        If the government can tell you what you have to have inside your body, then there is absolutely no way of resisting forced medication or forced feeding. Either the Congress can legislate inside your belly or it can’t. You can’t have it both ways.

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        1. I have not been defending a pro-life position. All I have been talking about is whether life starts before birth. My lungs are not their own person. I have one concious brain in my body so there is one person. One way or another this body is my property to do with as I wish. I can kick anyone out of my property whether it is my house or my body.

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  14. “Yet you grant yourself the right to practice “aggression” against other people’s property, telling them that they have to shelter, feed and cloth a “post birth fetus” for eighteen years.”

    – They have chosen to have not a fetus but an actual child. That was their choice. It will be unfair for them to get me to pay for the consequences of their choice. How is that aggressive? If people choose to steal or murder, they live with the consequences. If your employee chooses to stop showing up for work, you’ll fire him. How is any of this aggressive?

    “My lungs are not their own person.”

    – Just like a fetus isn’t. They both are a potentiality.

    ‘What is your basis for that when a fetus can have a concious brain and even feel pain?”

    – You need to stop paying attention to right-wing propaganda. The Silent Scream flick is a fake that the entire world is laughing at.

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    1. Assuming we are not talking about rape, the pregnent woman “chose” to engage in unprotected sex. This issue is of course irrelevant for abortion because that choice did not involve entering into any sort of contract with the rest of society.
      In the example of throwing a child out onto the streets the parents are not making anyone else take care of the child. This child is not being actively mistreated in any way. The child is just not being given services that he had no legal right to in the first place. The parents were not obligated to have the child and they owe the child nothing. If someone else wishes to take on the responsibility for a time then they are free to do so.

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      1. “Assuming we are not talking about rape, the pregnent woman “chose” to engage in unprotected sex.”

        – ??? What makes you think that? There is a gazillion of scenarios and this is just one of them.

        “The parents were not obligated to have the child and they owe the child nothing.”

        – You are not serious, are you? You are obligated even to pick up the poop after your dog. You can’t even buy a pet and then just let it loose outside. Hell, you can’t leave a peace of trash in a public place.

        And if you do have a child, you are absolutely 100% obligated to take care of it financially, emotionally, intellectually and in every other way until the age of 18. Everybody who thinks otherwise has something severely wrong with them. But I know you don;t argue this seriously. This is just some intellectual exercise.

        Parents owe everything to their children. But the children owe them nothing. That’s simply how it is. On the other hand, children always love their parents, and parents often don’t. So it all evens itself out. 🙂

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        1. By law I am talking about a process of contract. Our “legal” system in practice not based on contract and is therefore nothing more than aggressive force. Even under our “legal” system, I am not obligated to pick up the trash in my basement. You are of course not free to trash someone else’s property. We are not talking about causing any damage to anyone else’s property, just not granted services that you were not obligated to offer in the first place. To owe someone something they must first lend you some good or service. A child pays nothing for the service of being born. The mother goes through a lot of effort to give the child something that the average person values at about $7 million. So it is an objective fact that the child owes the parent and not the other way around. Granted in practice it is the custom to pay this debt forward by having children of one’s own. A parent may not be able to demand the child pay them back for the service of being born, but that does not mean that the parent cannot simply cut their losses and tell the child to leave. Again we are not talking about causing any brain activity to cease, unlike in the abortion case.

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          1. ” A child pays nothing for the service of being born.”

            – That’s a service TO the child? Are you serious? It;s a service that a child provides without his or her consent.

            “The mother goes through a lot of effort to give the child something ”

            – This is very funny. 🙂 🙂

            “A parent may not be able to demand the child pay them back for the service of being born”

            – This is the first time in my entire life I have heard anybody see childbirth as a service that parents do the child and not vice versa. 🙂 I’ve got to ask, my friend, where did you pick this up? 🙂

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            1. Now let’s look at how things really are: people bring a child into the world for completely selfish reason. They don;t ask the child’s consent, they just choose to do so out of boredom, prestige, to be like their friend Suzy, to get Mom off their back, etc. Then, they use the fact that they have all the power in the world over the miserable creature, bug it like there is no tomorrow for the next 18 years, conduct weird experiment on it, in 30% of cases abuse it sexually, dump all of their psychological issues on it, and then make the poor individual solve their problems and keep them when they get old. And the child owes THEM something for this wonderful wonderful gift?

              Yeah, right.

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            2. A major part of my philosophy of life is that I really like being alive. Because I like being alive so much I am willing to overlook all sorts of non-physical harm as I am not about to put my life at risk in order to do so. My mother went through a lot of pain and suffering to bring me into this world (I weighed about ten pounds at birth), to say nothing of having to raise me. I try to make her proud (her being able to say “my son the Dr.” will go a long way), but beyond that I can’t say I have done much for her.
              I would support making children pay back a given sum to their parents as an alternative to social security. This would solve the problem of children being thrown out onto the streets. They could now be a good investment so if their parents do not want them someone else will.

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              1. I’m glad you had such good experiences but what about those of us who’ve had a different kind of life? My mother put me through a lot of pain and suffering because she always wanted a toy of her own (her words). But the toy disappointed by liking to read, not being smiley and chatty, and, later on, having opinions and hopes of her own. This is a daily martyrdom I experience. A daily one. And I’m a pretty light case. Many people have been put through so much worse by their parents.

                And now we owe something? I would gladly give any sum of money to avoid being humiliated, criticized and insulted on a daily basis. But money is not what they need. A daily infusion of a child’s blood is.

                Of course, compared to how my husband grew up, my childhood was a paradise.

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              2. For all of your talk about how psychologically healthy you are, so comfortable with your body, it comes out that you have serious parenting issues. That is alright, I do not think there is anyone who comes out of childhood without some psychological damage. Psychological damage is so ubiquitous yet so difficult to measure; this is why it must be checked at the door when entering the political sphere.
                I do not believe I had an ideal childhood. (If you want I can tell you about it privately.) The thing is I do not blame my parents for it. I accept that they are flawed human beings, who did the best that they could with the hand they were dealt. At the end of the day I like the adult I grew into so I can’t be too harsh on my parents.
                A major part of my dissertation involves the role of literal martyrdom in religion. I am right now in middle of reading a book on early modern Christian martyrdom. So be careful how you use the word. You are not a martyr, thank god. 🙂
                The fact that you are not attempting to commit suicide suggests that you are also happy to be alive. Try spending some time thinking about that and maybe you will hate your parents a little less.

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              3. Projections, projections. 🙂

                I don’t hate my parents and I don’t understand what being comfortable with one’s body has to do with the comment I wrote.

                I also really dislike it when people try to offer me unsolicited advice. I’m in analysis right now and a big part of it, at this point, is voicing my grievances. Which is what I’m doing on my blog. If people are too prissy to accept the idea that the road to mental health lies through the renunciation of their good boy – good girl persona, that is not my problem.

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              4. Also, based on a variety of factors, I have a feeling that my childhood was actually much better than yours. You still don’t dare to criticize the sainted mommy. That is no way to grow up.

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      2. Granted in practice it is the custom to pay this debt forward by having children of one’s own.

        Grandchildren are not an entitlement!

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