Be Fruitless and Dwindle, and be Subdued, and Die

Words of wisdom from a woman who knows.
http://thewomanandthedragon.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/artificial-birth-control-satans-little-helper/

It is not Friday, but I am allowed to post links. I commend the insight into feminism, which, to be honest, had never occurred to me before.

About John C Wright

John C. Wright is a practicing philosopher, a retired attorney, newspaperman, and newspaper editor, and a published author of science fiction. Once a Houyhnhnm, he was expelled from the august ranks of purely rational beings when he fell in love; but retains an honorary title.
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70 Responses to Be Fruitless and Dwindle, and be Subdued, and Die

  1. This line:

    [after giving birth] They [doctors] usually feel the need to give you a basic biology lesson at that point, and it’s hard to resist the urge to respond with a sarcastic, “Yes, I know how babies are made.”

    I laugh so hard every time I read that.

    • Mary says:

      Oddly enough, many SF and fantasy writers do not know it. They build worlds that could not last a generation.

      • Stephen J. says:

        Who would some sample offenders be, along these lines?

        • Mary says:

          Lois McMaster Bujold’s Beta Colony is perhaps the most prominent. It’s set up like a European welfare state, which is already below replacement rate, minus the lowest classes, which would depress it farther, and it puts up addition obstacles to having children. It would not last two generations.

          • Suburbanbanshee says:

            To be fair, I think Bujold does know that Beta Colony is ridiculous. (It’s set up to be a place that the heroine leaves, and which is extremely cruel in its way. In fact, it’s sort of a parody of certain sectors of fandom.) There are a lot of signals that it shouldn’t work and only survives by draconian measures, immigration of the desperate, lots of money, and hidden social dynamics that outsiders can’t understand.

            Beta Colony is kinda like Sparta, really. Never understood how they survived, either.

        • luckymarty says:

          Iain Banks’ Culture is a good example.

          …though in that case it wouldn’t collapse, exactly, because the Culture is really an AI civilization in which the humans are superfluous if not actually parasitic.

    • Scott W. says:

      Where you really have to watch out is if your wife gets a c-section. I believe Kimberly Hahn had an incident where they gave her the paperwork to sign off on the c-section and someone had already checked the box authorizing having her tubes tied.

  2. Tyrrell McAllister says:

    Feminism requires absolute enmity between men and women; don’t believe the lie that it doesn’t.

    This is false, or true only for a definition of “feminism” that no significant number of self-identified feminists would recognize as their own.

    I guess that this is easier to see when most of the women in your personal life are feminists and yet bare no enmity, much less “absolute enmity”, towards men as such.

    • Mary says:

      Then I must have faced a statistical anomoly. Because whenever I go looking about for feminism, I find that.

      And then whenever I bring it up, I get dismissed out of hand. Then they wonder why I’m not a feminist.

      • Tyrrell McAllister says:

        You have found that Feminism, as such, requires absolute enmity between women and men, as such?

        Take, for example, Ms. Magazine. This is the closest thing to a mainstream liberal-feminist publication that I know. It aims at a broad readership within the set of people who self-describe as liberal feminists. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t serve as a mouthpiece for any particularly idiosyncratic brand of feminism. It seems to be basically the common denominator of contemporary left-leaning feminism.

        Thus, if feminism, as such, has any given quality, then I would expect that quality to be evident in the feminism espoused by Ms. Magazine. In particular, if feminism requires its adherents to take a stance of absolute enmity against all men, then I would expect that requirement to be advocated, at least implicitly, by Ms. Magazine.

        So, can you find an example of Ms. Magazine advocating this requirement, even if only implicitly?

        The words “require” and “absolute” place a pretty heavy evidential burden on anyone making the claim that Feminism requires absolute enmity. I just don’t see the evidence that could possibly justify this claim. And I think that I’m familiar enough with feminism that I would be aware of this evidence if it existed.

        • Just one example?

          “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” — Robin Morgan, current editor of MS magazine.

          • More?

            Would you like more from Miss Morgan?

            From her “The Demon Lover” (NY: Norton & Co., 1989) p. 138-9: The phallic malady is epidemic and systemic… each individual male in the patriarchy is aware of his relative power in the scheme of things…. He knows that his actions are supported by the twin pillars of the State of man – the brotherhood ritual of political exigency and the brotherhood ritual of a sexual thrill in dominance. As a devotee of Thanatos, he is one with the practitioner of sado-masochistic “play” between “consenting adults,” as he is one with the rapist.

            “I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire.” — Robin Morgan, in 1974

            “…rape is the perfected act of male sexuality in a patriarchal culture– it is the ultimate metaphor for domination, violence, subjugation, and possession.” — Robin Morgan

            “I haven’t the faintest notion what possible revolutionary role white hetero- sexual men could fulfill, since they are the very embodiment of reactionary- vested-interest-power. But then, I have great difficulty examining what men in general could possibly do about all this. In addition to doing the shitwork that women have been doing for generations, possibly not exist? No, I really don’t mean that. Yes, I really do.” — Robin Morgan

            “And let’s put one lie to rest for all time: the lie that men are oppressed, too, by sexism–the lie that there can be such a thing as ‘men’s liberation groups.’ Oppression is something that one group of people commits against another group specifically because of a ‘threatening’ characteristic shared by the latter group–skin color or sex or age, etc. The oppressors are indeed FUCKED UP by being masters (racism hurts whites, sexual stereotypes are harmful to men) but those masters are not OPPRESSED. Any master has the alternative of divesting himself of sexism or racism–the oppressed have no alternative–for they have no power–but to fight. In the long run, Women’s Liberation will of course free men–but in the short run it’s going to COST men a lot of privilege, which no one gives up willingly or easily. Sexism is NOT the fault of women–kill your fathers, not your mothers.” — Robin Morgan

            “I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire.” – From Robin Morgan, “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape” in “Going to Far,” 1974.

          • Perhaps we should hear from someone other than the editor of the Magazine you linked to.

            Do you recognize the names of the women who made these statements?

            • “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas
            • “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin
            • “Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” — Susan Brownmiller
            • “The more famous and powerful I get the more power I have to hurt men.” — Sharon Stone
            • “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” — Catherine MacKinnon
            • “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.” — Sally Miller Gearhart
            • “Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.” – Catherine Comins
            • “All men are rapists and that’s all they are” — Marilyn French
            • “Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the imminent threat of release.” — Germaine Greer.

            I found this in about one minute’s time by typing the words “MS Magazine” and “Man-hater” into Google. It was perhaps a shallow method of research, but hardly difficult.

          • Tyrrell McAllister says:

            Just one example?

            “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” — Robin Morgan, current editor of MS magazine.

            Since “man-hating” is in quotes, I want to see the context. It is clear that she is advocating hatred of a certain class. It is not clear to me that all biological men are, of necessity, members of that class, or that those who are ought all to be hated as individuals, in her view.

            Regarding your additional quotes below:

            Many make claims about the power relations that held/hold in a certain society at a certain time and place. They paint a picture of an oppressor class and an oppressed class. However, (1) it is not clear that they advocate hatred of all individuals within the class that they identify as the oppressor, and (2) it is not clear that they believe all biological men are of necessity in this class, for all time and all places.

            In other words, it is logically consistent to hate the patriarchy without hating all people in the patriarchy. Nor does belief in the patriarchy entail belief that all biological men for all time are members of the patriarchy.

            Your Marilyn French quote is actually a quote of a fictional character in a novel whose daughter had just been raped, according to Wikipedia. I will need to see more before I believe that this was French’s own sober view upon reflection.

            The Dworkin quote is basically saying “if society is going to celebrate those kinds of images of women, then I’d like to see it celebrate those kinds of images of men, too.” This is morally incorrect. It is very, very bad for a society to torture half of its members, but it would be even worse to torture all of its members. That notwithstanding, Dworkin’s sentiment just is not a required belief of all feminists.

            The Sally Miller Gearhart quote is also a very idiosyncratic view among feminists. As bizarre and obviously wrong as it is, it doesn’t require hatred of all men, or else even 10% would be too large a number.

            Some of your quotes don’t appear to me to be requiring feminists to hate men under any interpretation. Examples include the Sharon Stone quote, the Germaine Greer quote, and the Catherine Comins quote. These aren’t even purporting to make statements of Feminist doctrine.

            The one quote that I agree fits the bill is Valerie Solanas’s. She was someone who advocated absolute enmity between men and women. I was aware of her prior to your comment, and I know that she was definitely not mainstream. She was a member of the vanishingly small number I referred to. It is because I know what this enmity looks like that I am able to recognize its absence among nearly all mainstream feminists.

            Consider also another quote from Ms. Magazine, showing that man-hatred is not required of feminists.

            http://www.msmagazine.com/jun2k/marryafeminist.asp

            In giving reasons why a feminist would marry a man, the article says, “Well, there are a lot of reasons, actually. Foremost are the emotional ones: love, companionship, the pure joy that meeting your match brings with it.”

            • Now you are engaged in mere weaseling. I said feminists hated men. You said not. I quoted the editor of MS magazine, who approves of hating men (her words not mine) and you say when she says “man” she does not mean “man” but means a class of men of whom perhaps not all men are members. You might as well say that a feminist who hates all men except for one member of the most northern Eskimo tribe is not really a man-hater.

              All you are doing is narrowing your definition of what I said, or, rather, misinterpreting it, and them misinterpreting the plain meaning of the quotes here, so as to pretend I made a bolder claim than I made, and that these quotes do not support it.

              I submit that anyone who describes the most free and liberal nation in the world, the one who has done more to establish and protect the equality of the sexes, as a ‘patriarchy’ based on ‘rape’ is motivated by hate, just as much as a man who describes a black man as a ‘nigger’ is motivated by hate. You can find exceptions, but this is the rule.

              There are many people who call themselves ‘feminists’ who do not know or do not care that their movement has devolved into little more than Marxism applied to the male-female relations, and who interpret all things in terms of an irreconcilable struggle to the death between oppressor and oppressed.

              If your claim is that a feminist regards the male half of the race as engaged in widespread oppression, humiliation, and denigration of the female half, but she has no hate for her oppressors and enemies, then you are claiming feminists do not have normal human emotions. They are, in fact, Christian saints who bless those who martyr them.

              Let us continue our wager. I have given you a dozen quotes showing feminists hate men, which I found after four minutes search on the Internet.

              You show me a dozen quotes of feminists blessing men and praising masculinity, maleness, and manliness of behavior. You may search for more the four minutes. I will give you double points if you can quote them directly from MS magazine. Is this fair?

              And I don’t mean quotes saying that some women like getting married and take joy in their husbands. And I don’t mean quotes saying that some women like the effete eunuchs in touch with their feelings. I mean quotes showing they like men who act like real manly men. That they like romance. That they want to get swept off their feet.

              • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                Now you are engaged in mere weaseling. I said feminists hated men. You said not. I quoted the editor of MS magazine, who approves of hating men (her words not mine)

                She put “man-hating” in scare-quotes. My experience has taught me two things:

                (1) When authors put a phrase in scare-quotes, the quoted phrase does not have the same meaning as it would have had, had there been no scare-quotes.

                (2) I usually need to see more context than I otherwise would to ascertain what the phrase means with the scare-quotes.

                If you are able to arrive at the meaning of the scare-quoted phrase without seeing the additional context, then more power to you. It is beyond my ability.

                Let us continue our wager. I have given you a dozen quotes showing feminists hate men, which I found after four minutes search on the Internet.

                You show me a dozen quotes of feminists blessing men and praising masculinity, maleness, and manliness of behavior. You may search for more the four minutes. I will give you double points if you can quote them directly from MS magazine. Is this fair?

                (1) As you know, I do not agree that your dozen quotes establish this.

                (2) I said that I could give you quotes showing that Feminism does not require absolute enmity between women and men as such. I concede that I will not be able to provide any quotes in which feminism “blesses men and prais[es] masculinity, maleness, and manliness of behavior … men who act like real manly men” in the sense you mean. As you might expect, feminists (and I) disagree with you about what qualities are essential to biological men as such.

                (To be clear, I’m not trying to redefine words like “manly”, etc. I agree that “manliness” has a certain meaning in the English language, that certain behaviors fall under its definition while others don’t, and that I don’t get to choose which behaviors those are. I further agree that it would be underhanded to surreptitiously redefine the word in my argument. However, it does not follow that “manly” behavior, so-called, is in fact essential to being a biological male.)

                • More weaseling. I did not say “Feminists hate biological males” I said “Feminists hate MEN.”

                  Your dodge with the scare quotes comment disgusts me. The whole point of political correctness is to talk in elliptical phrases of ambiguous meaning so that, when confronted with obvious truth, you can retreat under a squid ink cloud of hair-splitting, hemming and hawing, and pretending plain words do not mean what they mean.

                  However, I accept that you concede the point that you will not find any feminists who express admiration for masculinity, or the traditionally manly characteristics of men, particularly of heroic men.

                  This is because you know the two concepts are mutually incompatible and mutual hostile.

                  By ‘hostile’ I do not mean the feminists hate the biological aspect of the male nature — that is a surface feature of the soul, a mere outward manifestation. No one cares about that, and it is yet another disgusting and cowardly display of weaseling on your part to pretend that this was what was meant.

                  You know that is not what we are talking about. You know I know. We both know. So why bother to say it?

                  You say it because you are losing the argument. You say it because you are not willing to face that you are, in fact, hostile to the spirit of masculinity, which is the only real masculinity there is.

                  You may like eunuchs, or little boys, or effete Eloi from the year 802701 AD. But you are hostile to men, that is, to the spirit of manhood.

                  This is a hostility to maleness in and of itself, to the masculine character, to the confrontational, domineering, masterful, overwhelming, brutal, brave, wildness and gaiety characteristic of the spear side of the race. You hate the remorseless logic of the male, the pitiless clarity and single-mindedness of the sex, with all its absurd drawbacks.

                  You hate that we both subordinate ourselves into tasks and team better than you, and are more solitary than you. We are both more legalistic and more anarchic than you. You hate clumpy armpit hair. You hate beards.

                  Or perhaps you like beards, but you don’t like what they stand for.

                  You do not like fathers, or our authority over you.

                  On the other hand, I love women. I love everything about them, good and bad, high and low, in every aspect. Life would be death without them. I do not think women are equal to men: I think they are our superiors, more spiritual, and possessed of a feminine genius without which the world would be too cold and cruel and scattered to tolerate. The woman can accept life into her body, and give of herself to her child in a fashion men can only envy in awe. Our acts of self-sacrifice in combat or in toil are trivial compared to this.

                  And you look at this beautiful complimentary gift of mutual strengths and weaknesses, and you give up femininity, your greatest and most mysterious strength, and attempt (badly) to adopt the signs and tells of masculinity, and not of the highest type of man, but the lowest, the braggart and the cad. And you make excessively poor he-men.

                  In turn, you want us to practice feminine virtues, like adoring peace and abrogating honor, seeking consensus rather than seeking glory. We make very poor maidens and matrons.

                  And you claim not to hate the very thing you are trying to destroy?

                  Feminism is using a Marxist analysis of oppressors and oppressed to tell outrageous lies about the dynamic between male and female, and to stir up envy and enmity between the sexes.

                  Feminism consists of nothing but groundless accusations against men: that we oppress you, that we are cruel, that we are rapists, that we are phallocrats, that we are violent against you, that we wish you ill, that we fear you, and on and on and on.

                  We love you. If you were more like us, that love would be less worthwhile, for then it would only be a displaced form of self love.

                  I also accept your concession as an admission of defeat. Because I am a man, I feel the impulse to vaunt and swagger at crushing my enemy. But because I am a gentleman, and seek forever to live up to the higher and more civilized standard that women impose on men, I will accept the concession with mild humility.

                  But no more weaseling, please. Feminists hate masculinity. You hate the concept. You oppose the spirit. Substitute whatever euphemism or qualification or hemming and hawing you wish to make the statement more accurate, if you like, but it is not inaccurate as it stands, and you know this.

                  • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                    We love you. If you were more like us, that love would be less worthwhile, for then it would only be a displaced form of self love.

                    I’m not sure whether you are still addressing me personally at this point. If so, then I should clarify that I am male, that I have a beard, and that I am a father. So, if I understand your position correctly, then you do in fact think that I should be more masculine, be more like you, etc.

                    • Unfortunate. I thought you were a naive schoolgirl whose head had been poured full of filthy propaganda. I did not realize you were the filthy propagandist.

                      As a grown man, you know or should know that modern feminism robs life of romance, infuses women with confusion, envy and misanthropy, and infuses men with confusion, shame and misogyny, wrecks marriages, victimizes children, ruins lives, and produces a general disorder, dishonor, and dishonesty in life. It is meant to produce acrimony and mutual accusation.

                      So far, the conversation has been unrewarding. You have been playing simple tactical tricks on me which I find childish. When I thought you were a child, I thought it was forgivable.

                      Instead of discussing the matter like a man, you quibbled with whether ALL feminists are manhaters or just MOST. To prove that somewhat pointless point, you challenged me to find a quote from MS magazine. In four minutes, with an utmost minimum of effort, I found not only a quote but a quote from very Editor-in-Chief of the magazine calling manhating a duty. You responded that perhaps the quote did not mean what the quote meant, and that manhater does not mean manhater. I gave a dozen other quotes, and you gave rather unconvincing excuses about them. I asked you for a dozen quotes in favor of masculinity, and you conceded the point that you could not provide them. At that point, the honorable thing for you to do was to concede: feminists hate masculinity, no matter what they think of “biological men” — another pointless distinction you drew. Instead you smirked and made a quip that I wanted you to be like me. I doubt that I think of myself so highly as to recommend myself as a model. I do want you to be like Christ, and be bold. He was a true man.

                      My poor foe, if you don’t believe what you are saying, you are dishonest, and no logical argument can make you honest, because dishonesty is a moral error, not a logical one. If you do believe what you are saying, you are negligent in thought, and no logical argument can make you diligent in thought, because mental laziness is a character flaw, not a conviction.

                      I have no wish to discuss any matters further with you, sir. Your world is already passing away. The Culture of Death is dying. Change your mind and choose again.

                    • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                      I have no wish to discuss any matters further with you, sir.

                      Very well.

                      Thank you for taking the time to discuss as much as you did. If I am making the moral mistake that you say I am, then I want to know it. Since I am evidently incapable of figuring out this mistake on my own, I must rely on others to help me see it. That can only happen if people such as yourself are willing to engage me in conversation, as you have done. So, thank you.

                    • Sir, I apologize and retract my comment. I have been praying to God Almighty to make me a humble man, and I see that He (in His wisdom and incisive sense of humor) this very day and hour provided me an opportunity to humble myself before you in public, to beg your forgiveness, and to confess that I have been an ass.

                      There is nothing wrong with what you are saying. I reacted emotionally rather than rationally, and spoke arrogantly, which is the prince of all sins and the source of all sins. I ask you in the meekest terms to overlook my insulting and condescending words. I am sorry.

                      Different people coming from different axioms of course reach different conclusions. Your starting point of your reasoning, the axioms you accept, and your experience and judgment differ from mine. Of course we disagree: you said as much to me and I ignored your wisdom on this point.

                    • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                      Sir, I apologize and retract my comment.

                      Apology gladly accepted.

                  • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                    You know that is not what we are talking about. You know I know. We both know. So why bother to say it?

                    I’m afraid that you have too great a confidence in my ability to understand you. Cf. inferential distances.

                • When authors put a phrase in scare-quotes, the quoted phrase does not have the same meaning as it would have had, had there been no scare-quotes.

                  Except you have no way of distinguishing between “scare quotes” and what one might call, quote quotes or term quotes.

                  It’s been my experience that a lot of people like to use the term “scare quotes” as a new method of dismissal when more often (especially on the internet), the use of “” around a term is more correct to be used as: [this is the term used in the discussion and I'm using it here to keep us in a common context, although I do not buy into the term or its full meanings]

                  Wait, I think I just overexplained sarcasm quotes.

                  • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                    Except you have no way of distinguishing between “scare quotes” and what one might call, quote quotes or term quotes.

                    Good point. But doesn’t this strengthen my underlying point that we need to see more context to be confident that we understand the meaning fully and correctly?

        • lampwright says:

          When I was a child, I thought I was a feminist. There were very few people more devoted to freedom and equality than I. (Still aren’t.)

          Then, in college, I went to a meeting of feminists with an older girl I admired. I stayed for exactly one meeting. It was all it took to convince me I was NOT a feminist.

          I was completely and utterly for equality for women…but these girls hated men. They just wanted to dump on how bad men were.

          I LOVED men. Still do.

          Being equal and free does not require us to denegrade men or masculine qualities. If it did…if women had to make men not men to be equal to them…then we really would not be equal, would we?

          If you have to handicap a sportsman to play as well as he does…you aren’t his equal.

          What I did not realize until later is that I had bought into the feminist idea that feminine qualities are bad. The idea that feminine qualities should be avoided–that a woman should not want to shop, or giggle for that matter. Giggling* is great fun. It should not be denegrated.–in favor of our acting more direct and forthright…more like men.

          If we have to turn ourselves into men to be equal, then women still aren’t equal. Fake men are equal.

          I still believe in equality of men and women…but now I believe that we are of equal worth as we are, not converted into some lesser versions of ourself.

          *I mean real giggling, like girls do when something amuses them, not the high fake giggle used by evil girls in movies that some seem to think is what giggling is.

        • Mary says:

          Ah, Ms. magazine. The institution that could solemnly state that while it was true that men were more likely to die on the job, murders constituted a large majority of women dying on the job, and were only a small percentage men dying.

          They did not have the gumption to assert the actual lie, that women were more likely to be murdered on the job, because in reality men are the overwhelming majority of the murder victims, but they were certainly willing to do everything short of that to deceive because they could not count on people to agree with their basic premise, that the deaths of women, unlike those of men, matter.

    • The phrase “self-indentified” is the weasel word here. There is many a woman I know who believes that women should be allowed to vote and to own property and who wish women entering the professions or the workforce to be judged by her merit and skill alone, but who, when the national feminist movement (that movement which self-identifies as ‘feminist’) supporting the right of a sitting president to ejaculate semen into the face of a White House intern young enough to be his daughter, and then to use the considerable power and prestige of his high office to demean, cow, and terrify her and women like her into positions of submission, at that point the woman — at least those I know — who believe in the suffragette goals of legal equality for women no longer ‘self-identified’ as femininsts.

      The trick among the Leftists is to change the meaning of words to mean their opposites, so that some women will continue to believe in “equality for women” when the Left is using those exact same words to mean “Support for the semen-in-face spraying sexual predator president because he supports prenatal infanticide.”

      So, putting aside your weasel-words, are the women to whom you refer actually feminists, or suffragettes?

      If they are suffragettes, and they support the classical liberal (i.e. Republican) attitude toward the equality of the sexes, then they have had the vote for over a generation now, and may retire with a sigh of satisfaction for a job well done.

      If they are feminists, and they support the politically correct (i.e. Democrat) attitude toward the equality of the sexes, then they hate men and want to impersonate them.

      • Tyrrell McAllister says:

        … when the national feminist movement (that movement which self-identifies as ‘feminist’) supporting the right of a sitting president to … use the considerable power and prestige of his high office to demean, cow, and terrify her and women like her into positions of submission …

        If your definition of “feminism” requires that a feminist, so-called, must believe that the President should have this right, then I have never known any feminists, so-called. Indeed, I’m pretty confident that vanishingly few feminists, so-called, have every existed.

        Needless to say, that is not the definition of “feminism” that I am using. I am sincerely sorry (as in, it actually makes me a little sad) if my not using this definition strikes you as an egregious re-definition on my part.

        Would you give an example of an organ (e.g., magazine or newspaper) that was a mouthpiece for the “national feminist movement” at that time? I would bet that I could find an example in that very same organ in which the author explicitly denies that the president has this right.

        (Note that supporting someone’s presidency is not the same thing as saying that that person had the right to do everything that they have used the office of the presidency to do.)

        If they are feminists, and they support the politically correct (i.e. Democrat) attitude toward the equality of the sexes, then they hate men and want to impersonate them.

        They (and I) do support an attitude towards the equality of the sexes that is comfortably within the mainstream of the Democratic party, so the hypothesis of your conditional applies. I am denying the conclusion of your conditional, viz., that “they hate men and want to impersonate them”.

        • Suburbanbanshee says:

          I will try to find you exact quotes… but the general comments from feminists (including Steinem) during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal were that Clinton had been such a great friend to feminism that they weren’t going to worry about what he did during his private time.

          And Lewinsky, though not in a situation where an ethical man would have made a move on her, was at least consenting. You will recall that, during the election and in later Clinton scandals with women who didn’t consent to be sexually harassed or even to have rape attempts made on them, the feminist establishment attacked the women’s credibility and defended Clinton. (And were happy about Mrs. Clinton standing by her man.)

          Mr Wright and you may not be aware that the Clintons lost a lot of support from really really old school feminists, however, because of course this opposition was largely unreported and airbrushed out of existence. One suspects that some of the maneuvering in favor of Obama and against Hillary in the 2008 election was revenge for this, but one does not know for sure.

          • Tyrrell McAllister says:

            I will try to find you exact quotes… but the general comments from feminists (including Steinem) during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal were that Clinton had been such a great friend to feminism that they weren’t going to worry about what he did during his private time.

            To be clear, I do expect that there are quotes saying that Clinton did nothing wrong. There will also be quotes from others saying that he did something wrong, but that supporting him is better than the alternative. Finally, there will be still other quotes saying that what he did was so wrong that supporting him is impossible, and one should go and vote for the Greens or something. All of these opinions are allowed under the banner of Feminism.

            What I would be very surprised to see would be quotes agreeing that he “use[d] the considerable power and prestige of his high office to demean, cow, and terrify her and women like her into positions of submission”, and yet which say that he did nothing wrong and was acting perfectly within his rights.

            • A quote that says Mr Clinton did nothing wrong, or that he did something wrong but that supporting him is prudent, is the same as saying he did nothing wrong and was perfectly within his rights, because that is precisely the same effect.

              The effect is that a sexual predator suffers neither penalty nor opprobrium, nor do the so-called ‘feminists’ who say this show the slightest interests in the rights, dignity, or humanity of the weak young female being exploited and abused by the powerful male. It is cheering for female subjugation.

              It is pure, rank, foetid, outrageous hypocrisy. It shows that the feminist movement has been corrupted from his once-noble suffragette goals of seeking legal equality for women to the appalling Marxist goals of seeking the subordination of women to the cynical political goals of powerlust, and to the moral inversion of Political Correctness. Moral inversion is the ethical stance that evil must be lauded as good, and good be scorned as evil.

          • Mr Wright and you may not be aware that the Clintons lost a lot of support from really really old school feminists, …

            In fact, the Baltimore branch of the NOW (National Organization of Women) denounced the main branch when the main branch sided with Clinton against women, and won my undying admiration for showing a modicum of integrity and decency. I had not expected feminists capable of either.

    • Robert Mitchell Jr says:

      I am reminded of the old woman/young lady picture. The feminist movement is solidly in the Abortion camp, and Abortion certainly requires absolute enmity between men and women.

    • Stephen J. says:

      I think it might help clarify this point to consider the difference between “enmity” and hostility.

      Enmity is, I would suggest, the existence of a difference of essentially irreconcileable and mutually exclusive fundamental interests between two groups; abortion-rights advocates and the Church will always be enemies because they simply cannot tolerate the position of the other without betraying their own position. Hostility is the explicit expression of malice, anger or hatred towards another person or group. Because the two so often occur together they are often seen as essentially the same thing, but they don’t need to be. You can be hostile towards someone for no good compelling reason, and you can recognize that you must be an enemy towards a particular group without necessarily screaming, ranting, or wishing personal ill upon any members of that group.

      If you accept the thesis that the interests of women as defined by the feminist movement are essentially incompatible with the interests of men as defined by most men, then you have accepted that women and men as groups are essentially enemies, because the satisfaction of the interests of one group cannot be achieved without denying the interests of the other. However, it is possible for people to believe this and still feel honest affection and desire, and a certain benevolence, for people in the other group — possibly even true Christian love, if one decides that the only acceptable solution to that enmity is to sacrifice your own interests for the others’. (Friendship, I am not sure about; I think true friendship requires an absolute acceptance of each other as equals, and I think belief that ones’ interests are fundamentally mutually incompatible thwarts this — but alternate perspectives showing this suspicion to be wrong would be welcomed.)

      So I can buy the idea that feminism’s core theses require an absolute enmity between men and women, yet that plenty of individual women can believe these theses without actually being hateful or hostile towards the individual men they personally know. (I do, however, think that the fatal temptation towards prideful condescension that this stance, sooner or later, inevitably involves does just as much damage to the sexes’ relations, albeit far slower and less violently.)

      • Tyrrell McAllister says:

        I think it might help clarify this point to consider the difference between “enmity” and hostility.

        A helpful dose of clarity. Thank you.

        In the terms of your comment, I am saying that, according to mainstream feminism, men and women do not, as such, have irreconcilable interests.

        Feminists generally believe that all people, men and women, would have their actual interests better met if society were run along feminist lines. Here, by “actual interests”, they mean what would in fact contribute to the flourishing of the individual, as opposed to whatever the individual might incorrectly think are in his or her interests. Also, obviously, unborn fetuses usually do not count as people for adherents of this view.

        • Stephen J. says:

          “I am saying that, according to mainstream feminism, men and women do not, as such, have irreconcilable interests. …Here, by “actual interests”, they mean what would in fact contribute to the flourishing of the individual, as opposed to whatever the individual might incorrectly think are in his or her interests.”

          Granted, but the problem here is that this proves rather than disproves my point: if the interests are only reconcileable by one group agreeing to accept the other’s definition of what the first group’s interests “really” are, that is submission rather than reconciliation. The “false consciousness” is the oldest trick of delegitimizing an argument in the book.

          • Tyrrell McAllister says:

            if the interests are only reconcileable by one group agreeing to accept the other’s definition of what the first group’s interests “really” are

            I don’t follow. Suppose that group A believes that it has figured out what is in group B’s best interest, but that B thinks that its own best interest is something else. Is it always an act of aggression for A to try to convince B that B is mistaken? Is it always an act of “submission rather than reconciliation” if B allows itself to be convinced?

            Suppose that you and I are playing a game with the following payoff matrix:

            If I choose X and you choose X, then I get 1 and you get 0.
            If I choose X and you choose Y, then I get 1 and you get 1.
            If I choose Y and you choose X, then I get 2 and you get 2.
            If I choose Y and you choose Y, then I get 3 and you get 3.

            Suppose that I erroneously think that I should choose X. You would be better off if I chose Y. But so to would I. If you explain to me that we are both better off if I choose Y, is it necessarily “submission” for me to agree?

            That seems like a very pessimistic view. It is very hard to see, on this view, how I could ever be corrected by some else about what is truly best for me. Since I am not very confident in my ability to figure that out entirely on my own, I would like to be able to learn and still call it “reconciliation”.

            • Mary says:

              Bait and switch. Feminists do not aim at persuading. Indeed, a great many of them aim at “educating,” which is to say, starting out with the presumption that the object of their attentions is self-evidently wrong, and they are self-evidently right. And they are perfectly willing to escalate. Leaving aside their legal hijinks, I went to college in the days where PC was not masked with weasel words: a college professor explicitly said the purpose was the same as Newspeak, to keep me from being able to commit thought crime.

              That is why I am not a feminist, being merely another facet of the attitude mentioned above.

  3. Somewhat related. On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s heir, published a piece in the Huffington Post, obviously, in defense of abortion.

    What is interesting to note is this: I have seen many an article about Ayn Rand or her ideas appear in the Huffington Post, and invariably the crows come out to mercilessly throw pie in her face in any manner possible. Sometimes the comments go for several hundred rounds of mudslinging and ballyhooing against her and any of her ideas.

    But, on this issue, the mudslingers are no where to be seen. Indeed, some come hesitantly crawling to sniff at her feet. I have never seen such a subdued (and even in some places – lauding) response to Ayn Rand or her ideas – not anywhere else and especially not at the Huffington Post.

    Interesting that. This is the one idea they can agree with her on, and even consider her a friend. Every other idea – TO THE FIRES! Link below.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonard-peikoff/abortion-rights-are-pro-life_b_2526853.html

    To save anyone time (if they should deem it worthy of response) I do not agree with Peikoff’s argument. I have always found Rand’s argument for abortion to be the weakest of her arguments – by far. One of the major reasons is her use of Aristotle’s Potential/Actual distinction that she herself neither uses, nor acknowledges at any point in her philosophy except in this one issue.

    • deiseach says:

      “Does she have the right to choose murder? That’s what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.”

      Do these abortion-rights apologists not recognise they are sawing off the branch on which they are sitting? If personhood is not an intrinsic part of humanity, but rather dependent on certain attainments, or if it is a status that can be granted, then it is also a status that can be revoked. And if your only claim to the legal rights of a person is based on “autonomous entity” or “advanced stage of development” or “possession of full mental faculties”, then those rights and that status can be lost the moment you are no longer an autonomous entity, or your stage of development becomes tooadvanced, or you lose the fullness of your mental or physical powers.

      I get the “autonomous entity” language from this piece in “Salon”, link courtesy of the Anchoress’ blog:

      Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.

      Well, that’s clear, is it not? And suppose Ms. Williams – God between us and all harm! – ends up in hospital due to being knocked down by a car and breaking both legs. She’s no longer autonomous; she is dependent on others to feed, bathe, dress, help her to the bathroom, give her medications and treat her until she is able to take care of herself.

      Does she therefore lose her personhood, although maintaining her humanity? I think she would be very indignant if the doctors decided she was no longer a person, therefore they could take her kidneys or lungs for transplant. Yet what, in her logic, prevents this happening? How can she defend her rights to personhood, or on what grounds? That she is not an embryo or a foetus? That she is not so elderly that she is suffering from senile dementia, or not even dementia, merely the slowing down and ills of old age? But if the benefits for the able-bodied outweigh the costs of looking after her when she is not able to look after herself, temporary as that may be, why shouldn’t society choose to sacrifice her life?

      As to Mr. Peikoff and his notions of foetal development (“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.”) or Ms. Williams and her “Because when they wave the not-even-accurate notion that “abortion stops a beating heart” they think they’re going to trick us into some damning admission.”, may I direct them to this video?

      Around 3 mins in – foetus at 25 days (well within Mr. Peikoff’s three months period): sure looks like a beating heart to me! And rather more diffentiated than just an amorphous clump of cells.

      Granted, it is “more primitive than a frog or a fish”, but so are frogs and fish while still in the egg-sac. Comparing an embryo of any species with an adult organism of any species is a trick of rhetoric, which we are probably supposed to not notice while it softly glides down and is easily swallowed.

      • deiseach says:

        Still banging on about this, but here we go:

        Picture of nine week old foetus.

        Still a lot of development to go? Yes.

        Mr. Polikoff’s “mass of relatively undifferentiated cells”? Not so much, at least to my view. I mean, to me it looks recognisably like a thing that is a human thing that is growing into a baby (oh, I’m sorry, incorrect medical terminology alert*! I mean of course a neonate – as if using medical Latin makes a change to the nature of the thing being described), not a blob of cells that might be a blood clot or a piece of liver or just a growth you would want to get removed, but I’m not “Ayn Rand’s legal and intellectual heir”, being just an ignorant Irish peasant.

        Oh, and Ms. Williams? Even at this stage, apparently “The heart is a four-chambered fully-formed organ that beats around 180 times per minute, which is twice the speed of an adult heart.” So if you do have an abortion even this early into the pregnancy, you are stopping what is a completely formed organ from performing its task.

        *I had the privilege of reading comments (on an different article about abortion) which scolded those who used emotive and incorrect terms like “baby”; the correct term is “fetus” and we should use it because it’s not a baby. The fact that “foetus” is Latin for “offspring; bearing or bringing forth young” without any connotations of “not being fully human yet”… let us say, that went unaddressed.

    • I also have never been convinced by Ayn Rand’s argument for abortion. Even back before I was an antiabortionist, her argument always struck me as out of step with the logical rigor of the rest of her reasoning, as if, in this one case, she was making an emotional decision and casting about for likely-sounding excuses to support it.

      A woman who announces as if with a blast of trumpets and blinding burst of lightning that the primary moral command of man’s reason is that coercion never be used except against the aggressor in proportionate retaliation for aggression, who then says arbitrarily that niggers (or, excuse me, fetuses) are not human and can be lynched (excuse me, exterminated by a medical procedure) at will, does more than merely contradict herself. She betrays everything she stands for an casts doubt on her whole procedure.

      I mean, if her philosophy can come to this conclusion without a blush, how can be we her conclusions on other doubtful areas, such as the virtue of selfishness or the nonexistence of Original Sin, are valid?

      Back when I admired Ayn Rand, one thing I admired her for was her forthright honesty of speech. She called a spade a spade. But in her article on abortion, suddenly she was doing the very thing she most scathingly abhorred in the collectivists, looters and moochers she so despised — doing that “blank out” thing in the brain that will not call things by their right name, using a deceptive euphemism, ignoring scientific facts, using politically correct jargon instead of plain speech.

      Under her strict formulation, the only excuse for attacking the baby, either with knife or chemicals while it cowers in the womb, would be if having a baby were an deliberate attack by the baby with malice aforethought against his mother.

      • I mean, if her philosophy can come to this conclusion without a blush, how can be we her conclusions on other doubtful areas, such as the virtue of selfishness or the nonexistence of Original Sin, are valid?

        By the same method by which we judge any conclusion, including any and all of hers.

        But you also seem to be saying two things in your first and third paragraphs. First it seems “out of step” “in this one case” and then “her philosophy comes to this conclusion”. It is either an exception or it derives from the premises.

        Myself, I have never been able to bridge a logical consistency in this case and the rest of her philosophy. And I have always found it out of step. As I stated before, her arbitrary inclusion of Aristotle’s potential/actual distinction in this single instance is not found in her philosophy at all, no even hinted at – not in metaphysics, epistemology. But in this one case it is whipped out and then disappears never to reemerge again. As you know that is wildly out of step with her usual rigor (right or wrong, at the least within the rigor of her own terms).

        At the same time, however, I have never been able to derive a sufficient anti-abortion argument from her premises either. I haven’t really addressed the issue for years since I decided to just have my own damned judgement on that.

        But I really thought nothing of the actual article, I came across the argument eons ago, and I never agreed with it. Much more interesting, I thought, perhaps I was wrong, was the reaction of the Huffington Post crowd. It is this single issue that makes them hum appreciatively, while all the others make them hiss, cackle and spit venomously.

        Perhaps I’m the only one familiar with the Huff and Puff Post.

        • “At the same time, however, I have never been able to derive a sufficient anti-abortion argument from her premises either.”

          That was my experience as well. Indeed, I was completely agnostic and undecided about the issue of abortion until my wife was pregnant, and I saw a picture of my son in her womb. From a purely logical standpoint, I could not see a way of decided which of the axiomatic starting-points of the pro-abortionists or the anti-abortionists were correct, nor could I detect a logical inconsistency with the arguments that followed from the axioms of either. If we granted that it was not human, there seemed to be no reason not to kill it; if we granted that it was human, there was no excuse which made killing it permissible. The Randian principle of Non-aggression did not apply in the first case, and was absolutely clear in the second case: but which case was reality?

          I have since realized that the whole approach of looking at the rights of the mother versus the rights of the child is illogical. As Ayn Rand says, in a logical system, among rational actors, there can be no real conflict of rights.

          A rational actor recognizes that rights are the compliments of duties. For every right one must not trespass there is, in effect, a duty one must uphold. If you assert that men have a right to private property, for example, then you admit they have a duty to take up arms and establish laws and obey them — in a word, a duty to act like civilized men — since they have a duty to defend that right from trespass.

          We can take it as a given that parents have a duty to safeguard their children and rear them. This is not just a negative duty of not killing a child, but a positive duty to see that the child is educated and kept in good health and molded into a proper human being. Since our current laws punish parents for abandoning, starving, neglecting a child, or even keeping a child truant from school, I assume anyone loyal to our current laws will admit that there is such a parental duty.

          Now, even if we assume that the child in the womb is not a human being possessed of human rights, what does it mean if we admit parents have a duty to raise that child? A doctor could easily lobotomize or cripple or blind a child in the womb so that when the child was born, he would suffer the rest of his life the inflicted harm. No one in his right mind would say that a mother was adhering to her duty to care for her child if she hired a doctor to cripple the babe before birth, inflicting wounds or diseases or brain damage to last the rest of his life. She is abrogating that duty, even if the harm is inflicted at the point before which the child is legally human.

          And if maiming is an abrogation, a fortiori, killing is a greater abrogation.

          Nor can the argument be made that killing the child before it is human does not deprive any human of its rights. That is legally unsound. I can make out a last will and testament right now which leaves my property to persons not yet in being, and place the property in the hands of another to keep and use for them. If I entrust my land to trustee to maintain and keep in order for any child born, let us say, from my siblings after my death, it is nonetheless an abrogation of that trust if the trustee ruins the land or its value, and he would still be in abrogation of his duty whether the act were done before or after the birth of the nephews or nieces who eventually inherit.

          The principle is not just legal, but moral. Any environmentalist who claims it is wrong to use up resources or pollute or ruin land and water which would otherwise one day be enjoyed by humans centuries from now is in effect asserting that duties can exist toward people not yet in being. Generations not born have rights which rational actors must respect, even as our rights were respected by generations prior, such as the monks in the scripturium in the Dark Ages who preserved Aristotle for us.

          • Tyrrell McAllister says:

            The argument is that we have duties to those not yet born but who will be, but that we do not have duties to those not yet born who won’t be.

            • I cannot tell if you are making a joke. If your argument is that you owe no duty not to kill to those you intend to kill on the grounds that killing them eliminates all duties running to them, the logic assumes the conclusion.

              You also get points for chutzpah, like the man who murdered both his parents and begged the judge for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.

              If you are claiming to know beforehand who will and who will not be born, then are are absurdly arrogating to yourself the omniscience of God, and using that as a claim that you can play God, to grant life and take it away. (Which I think is at the bottom of all of this nauseating and elliptical kill-the-unborn rhetoric.)

              • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                I am not making a joke. I’m afraid that I honestly don’t see the sense in which “the logic assumes the conclusion”.

                I am a mathematician, so logical argument is my bread and butter. Spotting circular reasoning is part of my day-to-day job. If circularity exists here and I am failing to see it, then I have a professional obligation to remove whatever is blinding me to that circularity.

                So, I ask as someone whose paycheck depends upon removing this blindness if it exists: Where is the circularity? Can you make it manifest as a syllogism?

                • Darrell says:

                  [W]e have duties to those not yet born but who will be…we do not have duties to those not yet born who won’t be.

                  Mr. Wright is saying that your above quote is the same as, “We have duties to those who we will not decide not to murder…we do not have duties to those we will decide to murder.”

                  This is because the person claiming not to have the duty is (or can be) the selfsame person that gets to decide who will and won’t be born.

                • I am a philosopher and an attorney. Logical argument is not only my bread and butter, it is my nectar and ambrosia, the food of the gods

                  A circular argument is one that assumes the conclusion. I gave the following argument: 1. All parents have a duty which it would be wrong to abrogate to safeguard their children even if the child is not human 2. Abortion abrogates that duty 3. Therefore abortion is wrong. (This is modes ponens in the figure of Barada. If A then B; A; therefor B.)

                  Anticipating an objection that the duty does not vest until after the life in being, I argued reductio ad absurdam that, if duties only vest after the period of the life in being, neither remaindermen nor trustee could be under any duties to heirs yet unborn; but in law, they are; therefore at least some duties vest before the life in being.

                  You then objected as follows: Of births, some come to term and others do not. Granting that duties can flow to those that come to term, duties do not flow to those that do not come to term because no life ever comes into being: therefor the duty to bring the birth to term can be abrogated.

                  Stated as a syllogism, this runs: 1. We have duty to protect the life of lives that do not yet exist but will exist, but no duty to protect the life to lives that do not yet exist and will not exist 2. Protecting a life means seeing to it that it will exist, i.e. not exterminating it; and these lives will exist if not exterminated 3. Therefore we have a duty not to exterminate lives that will exist if we do not exterminate them, or, in other words, we have no duty to protect the nonexistent lives that are nonexistent because and only because we exterminate them.

                  That is a little angular, even for a mathematician. Put more simply, you assume that no duties apply to people before they exist, including the duty not to prevent them from existing, and from this conclude that the duty not to prevent them from existing does not apply if you prevent them from existing, because no duties apply to people before they exist.

                  • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                    This part —

                    1. We have duty to protect the life of lives that do not yet exist but will exist, but no duty to protect the life to lives that do not yet exist and will not exist 2. Protecting a life means seeing to it that it will exist, i.e. not exterminating it; and these lives will exist if not exterminated 3. Therefore we have a duty not to exterminate lives that will exist if we do not exterminate them, or, in other words, we have no duty to protect the nonexistent lives that are nonexistent because and only because we exterminate them.

                    — is supposed to be a syllogistic rendering of my argument, correct?

                    In that case, I should clarify that I am not assuming Premise (2) as you state it. In particular, I am not using that definition of “protecting a life”.

                    Having a duty to allow a life to come into being is distinct from and not entailed by having a duty to protect that life. The duty to protect a life is, as I define it, the duty to act, at all times, so that that life will continue in good health if and when it ever exists. I can be committed to belief in that duty without being logically committed to belief in the additional duty to allow that life to come into existence in the first place.

                    (I am using “life” above to mean “morally relevant life”, which I hold to come into existence at some point well after conception. This might be wrong as a matter of moral fact, but I would like to table this issue for the moment unless it is directly relevant to why my argument was, as you allege, circular.)

                    To give an analogy: Suppose that I announce to the world that I will feed anyone who comes into my house. I thereby take on the duty to feed anyone who is or will be in fact my house when they are in my house. It even follows that I have a duty right now, before anyone is in my house, to be prepared to feed anyone who is, in fact, in my house in the future. (See the parenthetical note at the end of this comment if that sentence seemed temporally incoherent.)

                    However, it does not follow that I must allow anyone to come into my house. It would not be contrary to this duty to prevent you from coming into my house, even if you would otherwise have come into my house in the natural course of events. (It might be contrary to other duties, but not this one.) And if I successfully prevent your coming into my house, the duty described above does not oblige me to feed you. This is true even though the only reason why you are not in my house is that I prevented it. That is, the only reason you could not invoke my duty was because I prevented your reaching the position where you could invoke my duty. And yet there is no circularity here (right?).

                    I am not saying that this analogy is exactly like the case of abortion. It’s not especially relevant to the morality of abortion at all. What I am saying is that it is structurally identical to the argument I made concerning abortion. Therefore, if my argument concerning abortion were circular — ie, structurally flawed — then that same circularity would exist in the analogous argument above. But I still do not see the circularity.

                    Setting aside for the moment whether my abortion argument was circular, do you agree that the analogous argument above (with the house and the duty to feed) is not circular?

                    (By the way, it might make some of my statements concerning future people clearer if they are read in the context of the B-Theory of time. If you think that the B-Theory is incoherent or obviously wrong, then that might be part of our disagreement.)

                    • Very well. If the argument was not circular, it was irrelevant, because we were not discussing the same topic. My argument was that the parent’s duty to protect and raise his child logically must vest at the moment when any act impinges on that duty, even if this is a point in time before the child’s life is what you so stupidly call “morally relevant.” I used the care of land which is willed to heirs not yet in being as an example. If your comment was merely based on ignoring what I said, you have said nothing. I gave your comment the dignity of assuming it was an attempt to distinguish between duties owed lives that did not yet exist and would versus lives that did not yet exist and would not. I assumed this because that is what you said.

                      If you have a duty to perform a certain act at a given point in time, this logically implies that actions which render you unable or unprepared to do that duty before that point in time abrogate that duty. To will the end implies willing the means to that end.

                      I do not think this changes according to any particular theory of time. If you think duties cannot be owed to unborn or unidentified people, you are a hypocrite, since you yourself, as am I, as is everyone, is a beneficiary of duties carried out by prior generations.

                    • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                      If the argument was not circular, it was irrelevant, because we were not discussing the same topic. … If your comment was merely based on ignoring what I said, you have said nothing.

                      Huh. The relevance of my comments seems obvious to me, so I am puzzled by your denial of it. This bodes ill for our having a productive conversation.

                      My best guess is that you are reacting to this line of mine:

                      I am not saying that this analogy is exactly like the case of abortion. It’s not especially relevant to the morality of abortion at all.

                      By “not especially relevant to the morality of abortion”, I meant that you could accept the argument in the analogy without having it affect your belief in the immorality of abortion. That is, whether I, in the hypothetical scenario, have an obligation to feed you has no bearing on whether abortion is immoral. It was not an argument by analogy for abortion.

                      Then why was it relevant? I will attempt once more to explain why my comments were relevant and responsive to yours. If this attempt fails, I’ll concede my inability to make myself understood, and I’ll drop the subject.

                      So, here is that attempt: I argued that a certain argument against abortion fails. You said that my argument is circular. I do not see the circularity.

                      Now, circularity is a logical feature. Hence, if I am failing to see circularity when it is there, then this needs to be addressed immediately, before the discussion continues. Why? Because, if I am making such an elementary logical error, then I cannot count on myself to evaluate the validity of any future argument correctly. Thus, any further arguments would be a waste of time. Hence, if I am making a logical error, then understanding my logical error is the first priority in this conversation.

                      Therefore, I sought to understand this alleged circularity. Now, circularity is a structural feature of an argument, and the structure of an argument can be divorced from the subject matter of the argument. That is, the same structure can be filled with a different subject matter. Indeed, this helps to reveal the structural features, such as circularity, because they are brought into sharp relief as what remains after the subject matter is changed. Therefore, I sought to make any circularity manifest by giving another argument with the same structure as the one you called circular, but with a different subject matter.

                      If I still see no circularity in the second argument, then that suggest two possibilities. Either the second argument is not structurally identical to the first, or the first is not really circular, contrary to your claim. That is the sense in which bringing in the analogous argument (with the house and the duty to feed) should help to settle the earlier disagreement (over whether my original argument was circular). That is why my comments were relevant.

                      As I said, if I still seem to you to be introducing non sequiturs, I will drop the subject.

                    • The irrelevance of the argument has nothing to do with what you identify as your “best guess”, nor should it be taken as a sign of whether the conversation will be fruitful or not. It is merely a statement of logic.

                      My argument, I say again, was this Major Premise: Duty X requires Action Y, where X is parenthood and Y is seeing the life in question protected. Protected means not exterminated. Minor Premise: Duty X is not carried out if the life in question is exterminated. Conclusion: Duty X requires not exterminating the life.

                      Anticipating an objection that Duty X cannot vest (that is, the duty is not binding) before the life in question comes into existence, I pointed out an analogy at law where other duties vest before that time. My argument there was a reductio: it cannot be that all duties only vest at time of performance, for there are many contrary examples we would all (or so I assume) admit.

                      Your rebuttal, in order to be relevant, has to address the point of when duties vest.

                      What you did was try to draw a distinction between (a) lives not yet in being which would some day come into being and (b) lives not yet in being which would not some day come into being. You then argued that if the life not yet in being would not come into being because it was exterminated, the duty did not vest.

                      I assumed you meant what you said, and that a different duty flowed to lives of category (a) than to lives of category (b).

                      If that was your argument, it was circular for the reasons stated: it assumes the conclusion. Extermination is, indeed, the act of putting a life from category (a) “it will someday live” into category (b) “it will never live.” If the duty not to exterminate vests before the life exists, one cannot be excused of the duty on th ground that only lives of type (b) those that would exist fall under the duty, for the act of extermination places the life from type (b) into type (a). One cannot be excused of the duty not to exterminate on the grounds that one has successfully exterminated the life to which the duty flows.

                      If, on the other hand, as you now say, your argument was merely that there were lives not yet in being, some in category (a) and some in category (b), but the membership in either category does not does not change the duties owed them, then the distinction makes no difference.

                      So the distinction, if it does not change the duty, is irrelevant to the argument about the duty. If the distinction does change the duty, the argument is circular.

                      That is all meant.

                      I admit that I am allergic to people who read things into my words which are not there, and who, instead of asking for clarification, charge ahead and argue against a position I do not hold. Perhaps you meant it innocently enough this time; but since you are evidently more loyal to the Cult of Death than you are to the rules of logic, I doubt further discussion would be edifying or entertaining to either of us.

                    • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                      Extermination is, indeed, the act of putting a life from category (a) “it will someday live” into category (b) “it will never live.”

                      As I suspected, the B-Theory of time is at the root of our disagreement here. (It was not the cause of all disagreement, obviously, but it was there from the beginning, contributing to the disagreement.)

                      On the B-Theory of time, what you just said cannot be right, because lives cannot move from category (a) to category (b). If something will in fact not live at time t, then it was always never going to live at time t. In particular, if something X will never live, then it was always true that it will never live.

                      More precisely, if X will never live, then there never was, nor will there ever be, a time t’ such that, at time t’, one could truly say, “X will someday live.” Conversely, if X will someday live, then there never was, nor will there ever be, a time t’ such that, at time t’, one could truly say, “X will never live.”

                      Therefore, on the B-Theory of time, extermination cannot be what you say it is above. Extermination does not move anything from category (a) to category (b), because nothing can do that. Yes, the act of extermination caused X to be in category (b), but it did not move X from category (a).

                      On the B-Theory, a fetus that will in fact be exterminated was always going to have been exterminated. It was always never going to be born.

                      That is just the B-Theory of time. As it stands, it has no bearing on duties or the morality of abortion, so far as I can see.

                      My argument, made within the context of the B-Theory, claims further that we always never had a duty to protect the life of a fetus that was always going to be exterminated, because it was always never going to have a life to protect.

                    • Unfortunately, as far as humans taking actions in the world is concerned, whether the B-Theory of time is correct or not, while interesting as a metaphysical point, has no bearing on any decision made by a being like you or like me who does not know beforehand whether his victim is in one category or another.

                      If I have a duty, for example, not to murder hotel guests for their boots, but someone makes a clever argument telling me that I cannot move a hotel guest from category (a) “alive” to category (b)”murder victim”, on that grounds a B-Theory or time or any other theory whatsoever, then the argument cannot reach the conclusion that I have no duty not to murder those whom I am destined to murder, ergo I may choose to murder them. If I am destined, then there is no choice, and if there is choice, I cannot be excused from the moral implications of the choice by claiming the outcome is destined. I am not saying the B-Theory of time is right or wrong. In fact, I have no interest in that theory of time at all, because no theory of time has any relevance to the discussion.

                      So, with all due respect, no, our disagreement has nothing to do with any theories of time of any kind whatsoever. The only theory of time which would defeat the concept of duty is the pagan theory of inescapable destiny or fate. Fortunately, that same Western civilization which gave us so many technological advances has given us several philosophical advances, one of which is the theory of free will, which says that men are responsible for their actions. Any theory of time which cuts against this theory of free will, we have a moral duty to avoid entertaining, as well as a pragmatic need not to return to primitive and incoherent thought.

          • I will think about some of these things as I haven’t considered a few of your arguments.

            The common charge that the objection to abortion rests only on a mystical premise, that the whole argument rests on the belief of God instilling a soul at conception is false. I find it to be quite objectionable on natural grounds.

            I always found it quite amazing that we can say life began billions of years ago with single celled organisms – and that was all that existed for millions upon millions of years – but a baby at one month that consists of (millions?) does not. Also life feeds on life – why then do so many predators eat the eggs of the unborn if they are not life? Why do human babies get the designation of non-life arbitrarily?

            But there are a thousand of those “paradoxes”.

            • The common charge that the objection to abortion rests only on a mystical premise, that the whole argument rests on the belief of God instilling a soul at conception is false. I find it to be quite objectionable on natural grounds.

              Oddly enough, no one ever made that argument to me. Back when I was an atheist, and a vituperative evangelical atheist at that, the only arguments I heard boiled down to three:
              1. The pro-abort argument. The child is not human, and ergo has no more rights than livestock. Usually this argument selected some property that was imponderable or not open to being measured, such as self-awareness or an ability to think in the abstract, as the defining characteristic of human. The pro-aborts never used the word ‘soul’ but they used roundabout phrases which meant the same thing: the defining essential character of a man, the thing that gives him a point of view and makes him a person rather than a clump of cells. So, in truth, ONLY the pro-aborts were arguing about instilling a soul. They merely thought it was instilled at birth.
              There were parallel arguments which described the child as a trespasser or a parasite, but these were sophistry, and not meant to be taken seriously even by those who made them.

              2. The anti-abort argument. The child is human, even if at a very primitive stage of development. This is a biological and scientific fact, and the anti-aborts never seem to know what to do with this. The argument is that if the child is human biologically, he is human legally. The athiest problem with this argument is that we (we atheists, I mean) usually attribute the source of rights as springing from our rational nature, and while the undeveloped child is a member of a species that has a rational nature, at no point before birth and for a year or two after does a child himself personally have a rational nature.

              3. The agnostic argument. Whether the child is human or not in the legal sense is in dispute. Hence, there are only four possibilities: the child is human and we kill him; the child is human and we outlaw killing him; the child is not human and we kill him; the child is not human and we outlaw killing him. Of these four possibilities, the first is manslaughter, the second is the normal way we should treat all humans big and small whether strangers or neighbors, the third is a convenience for the mother who wishes she were not pregnant, and the fourth imposes on the mother nothing ore than the danger and inconvenience which attends all mothers by nature throughout all time. So, reckoning up the costs and benefits, at the worst case scenario if we outlaw aborticide, we impose the burdens of motherhood on mothers, whereas if we do not, we commit manslaughter of the innocent.

              Similar to seeing a baby carriage the road at night, and, not knowing whether the moving shape inside is a baby or a raccoon, the only moral thing to do is to err on the side of avoiding manslaughter. It shows a shocking and reckless contempt for the sanctity of human life to swerve the car to run over the baby carriage when half the people in the car with you are shrieking that it is a human being. How much worse if the person in the car with you said it was your very own baby, a child who is helpless and depending on your for his life.

              The argument against the agnostic argument is subjectivism. If the mother who yearns to kill her baby says she is certain it is not a baby, but it is instead a nonbeing-being who both is and is not human, neither alive nor not-alive, and that she is PERFECTLY certain that the child-nonchild is a nonchild, well, then, she can scoff at your doubts, because the fact that you have a doubt in your mind does not impose a duty on her.

              My argument about parental duties circumvents all this issues and strikes to the core of the matter. If your son was turned into a frog by an evil witch from a fairy tale, and you knew that nine months later he would turn back, even during the time period when he was not human and had no human rights, it would be a vile dereliction of duty to serve the frog up to the French Chef.

              Likewise, if the nature power of reasoning is the only source of our human rights, then, logically, any murderer who lobotomizes his victim a minute or two before the murder, is guilty only of assault, or of slaughtering livestock.

              • Mary says:

                “at no point before birth and for a year or two after does a child himself personally have a rational nature. ”

                Only in the sense that none of us have a rational nature in our sleep, namely, the child is not evincing a rational nature at the moment, but nonetheless, we all know that the child, like us while asleep, is a being that is rational by nature.

              • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                Likewise, if the nature power of reasoning is the only source of our human rights, then, logically, any murderer who lobotomizes his victim a minute or two before the murder, is guilty only of assault, or of slaughtering livestock.

                If the natural power of reasoning is the only source of our right to life, then destroying someone’s power of reasoning is morally equivalent to murder. Thus, on this view, your lobotomizer committed the moral equivalent of murder when he lobotomized his victim. The magnitude of his moral guilt is unchanged.

                • If the natural power of reasoning is the only source of our right to life, then destroying someone’s power of reasoning is morally equivalent to murder. In which case a bartender offering a drink to someone is like assault and battery. And a teacher who convinces a student that reasoning is futile is like maiming. And a man falling asleep is morally equivalent to committing suicide. And so on. If the premise leads to foolish conclusions, then the premise is folly.

                  • Tyrrell McAllister says:

                    If the premise leads to foolish conclusions, then the premise is folly.

                    Indeed. From this you may infer that only a fool would believe that those conclusions follow from those premises.

                    • Tom Simon says:

                      Since conclusions equally foolish do follow from those premises (Our Host has oversimplified in the interest of satire), I may infer that only a fool would accept those premises.

                    • What? Whether the conclusions follow from the premise is a matter of logic, not opinion. If the conclusion does not follow from the premise that can be shown, especially from someone who claims he has a firm knowledge of logic, being a mathematician and such.

                      Are we substituting halfwit wisecracks and windbaggy flatulence for arguments, now, my dear mathematician? Newton is ashamed.

  4. Noah D says:

    Back in the days of my first try at college, I attended a small, Liberal liberal-arts school in Indiana. This was, like Mary says above, when ‘PC was not masked with weasel words’. There was, of course, a large, strident feminist movement on campus, aided and abetted by the faculty (at one point, there was a class in which it was seriously proposed that men not be allowed to speak, only women. The idea was shot down when some of the men said ‘fine, give us As, in writing, and we just won’t show up’ and a good portion of the women were threatening to just walk out – but it was a seriously suggested, and entertained, notion).

    There was a common saying amongst the ragged fringe of feminists, that ‘all heterosexual sex is rape’. One woman who attended the school a bit before me had two responses she would deploy. The first, was to keep doing whatever it was she was doing at the time this was said, and mutter, sotto voce, ‘Only if it’s done right…’ The other was to say, breathily, ‘That is so hot…excuse me, I have to go find my boyfriend…’

    We’ve been married for 16 years.

    • lampwright says:

      LOL

      Good for her!

    • fabulous_mrs_f says:

      In college, I took great delight in helping my male friends enrage the feminists. I admit, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to throw those responses out there.
      I am most irritated by the question, “When is your husband going to get fixed?” which increases in frequency after each child. I started telling them that my husband wasn’t broken, thank God.

      • DGDDavidson says:

        I can’t quite bring myself to approve of breathy jokes about rape, even if the ridiculous claim that all heterosexual sex is rape is obnoxious enough to almost earn them, but this here is a quip I can laud.

  5. Pingback: John C. Wright Quote of the Day « romish internet graffiti

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