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Is the LPPa Platform Truly Objectivist?

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Having said all of this, I don't think I've nailed it. We left out a plank regarding animals in the LPPa Platform and decided to leave the question up to county Libertarian committees and local municipalities...

If you find that you are grasping at straws, ask yourself whether you truly have an understanding of the requisite principles. The fact that your party has to leave a question of rights up to committee consensus is proof of moral bankruptcy. Animal rights is not some marginal issue that you can afford to delegate to committees; failure to answer this question is a failure to uphold human rights, and animal rights activists will use that against you.

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3. Miss Rand said (ARL, IV, 2, 3) "One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months." I'm aware of, and disagree with, the ARI position that rights begin at birth. The LPPa Platform position is scientific; it defines the beginning of human life as the onset of human brain waves and the end of human life as the cessation of human brain waves.

Brain waves are not an appropriate measure of the beginning or end of life and, further, what constitutes rights. People who are in vegetative states on life support typically have some amount of brain wave activity. Does this make them alive? Are they independently engaging in self-sustaining actions? Absolutely not.

Brain waves indicate that some basic electrochemical activity is occuring. But that is not necessarily consciousness or an indication of an entity that is alive.

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Another possible approach to this problem is to ask: does the proposed action reduce, or increase, the overall entropy of the world? Slaughtering animals for food does reduce entropy, because humans reduce the entropy of the world much more so than animals do. Gratuitous abuse of a pet increases entropy without any prospect of a corresponding reduction of entropy elsewhere.

Having said all of this, I don't think I've nailed it. We left out a plank regarding animals in the LPPa Platform and decided to leave the question up to county Libertarian committees and local municipalities...

Not only haven't you nailed it, but your hammer is broken. When it comes to human action, without reference to reason as the method of dealing with all aspects of reality, any theory will wind up pounding dirt, as you've deomonstrated.

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3. Miss Rand said (ARL, IV, 2, 3) "One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months." I'm aware of, and disagree with, the ARI position that rights begin at birth. The LPPa Platform position is scientific; it defines the beginning of human life as the onset of human brain waves and the end of human life as the cessation of human brain waves.

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Your conclusion is a non-sequitor. If being scientific is the standard, then any fetal fact can be used as a basis for your claim. Life begins when blood flows; life begins when fertilization occurs, life begins when the heart starts beating, life begins when the fetus starts kicking, life begins when the fetus is viable, etc., etc. The issue of abortion is not when life begins but when does it become independent of the mother's physical body and is able to survive on its own? Does the mother have a right to her own life and to take actions necessary to organize her life around her use of reason and best judgment? Rights pertain to actual, living beings, not organisms that are part of or inside of another human being.

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3. Miss Rand said (ARL, IV, 2, 3) "One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months." I'm aware of, and disagree with, the ARI position that rights begin at birth. The LPPa Platform position is scientific; it defines the beginning of human life as the onset of human brain waves and the end of human life as the cessation of human brain waves.

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Your conclusion is a non-sequitor. If being scientific is the standard, then any fetal fact can be used as a basis for your claim. Life begins when blood flows; life begins when fertilization occurs, life begins when the heart starts beating, life begins when the fetus starts kicking, life begins when the fetus is viable, etc., etc. The issue of abortion is not when life begins but when does it become independent of the mother's physical body and is able to survive on its own? Does the mother have a right to her own life and to take actions necessary to organize her life around her use of reason and best judgment? Rights pertain to actual, living beings, not organisms that are part of or inside of another human being.

The fetus recapitulates three billion years of biological evolution. Only at the 20th week does it achieve human status: human brain waves are generated. Plus: the fetus at that stage is viable outside the womb--it doesn't need to be attached to another human being. Thus the LPPa Platform position is scientific.

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Having said all of this, I don't think I've nailed it. We left out a plank regarding animals in the LPPa Platform and decided to leave the question up to county Libertarian committees and local municipalities...

If you find that you are grasping at straws, ask yourself whether you truly have an understanding of the requisite principles. The fact that your party has to leave a question of rights up to committee consensus is proof of moral bankruptcy. Animal rights is not some marginal issue that you can afford to delegate to committees; failure to answer this question is a failure to uphold human rights, and animal rights activists will use that against you.

That's a misunderstanding. We decided to leave it to each county Libertarian Committee to draft proposed animal ordinances which would be appropriate for their local community. Pennsylvania is a very large state--one wag said that "it's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between."

My interest in philosophy is to apply it to the real world. The LPPa Board concluded that recommendations for legislation at the state level on this topic were inappropriate; each county should draft its own ordinances because each county has the relevant knowledge.

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The fetus recapitulates three billion years of biological evolution. Only at the 20th week does it achieve human status: human brain waves are generated. Plus: the fetus at that stage is viable outside the womb--it doesn't need to be attached to another human being. Thus the LPPa Platform position is scientific.

Those are all facts, but are those facts relevant and causally related to having rights? What about the rights of the mother to her own body and her own life?

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3. Miss Rand said (ARL, IV, 2, 3) "One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months." I'm aware of, and disagree with, the ARI position that rights begin at birth. The LPPa Platform position is scientific; it defines the beginning of human life as the onset of human brain waves and the end of human life as the cessation of human brain waves.

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Your conclusion is a non-sequitor. If being scientific is the standard, then any fetal fact can be used as a basis for your claim. Life begins when blood flows; life begins when fertilization occurs, life begins when the heart starts beating, life begins when the fetus starts kicking, life begins when the fetus is viable, etc., etc. The issue of abortion is not when life begins but when does it become independent of the mother's physical body and is able to survive on its own? Does the mother have a right to her own life and to take actions necessary to organize her life around her use of reason and best judgment? Rights pertain to actual, living beings, not organisms that are part of or inside of another human being.

The fetus recapitulates three billion years of biological evolution. Only at the 20th week does it achieve human status: human brain waves are generated. Plus: the fetus at that stage is viable outside the womb--it doesn't need to be attached to another human being. Thus the LPPa Platform position is scientific.

But your response doesn't address the issue. Your scientific position is irrelevant and doesn't answer the questions I posed. Why does generating human brain waves give a fetus the title of human? Why isn't having human DNA sufficient? If it is not a human fetus before 20 weeks, what is it? What does any of your "scientific position" have to do with either rights of the mother or alleged rights of the fetus?

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I read that document and I have to say it isn't Objectivist, not because of what it says, but because what is lacking. It lacks an explicit moral justification for liberty. Instead of providing a moral base for its political positions, it merely asserts them or makes feeble pragmatic / utilitarian arguments. Because utilitarianism is essentially altruism, that undercuts, rather than supports, liberty.

The lack of a proper moral defense of individual rights is what renders this platform, as well as most L/libertarian and conservative positions and arguments, totally ineffective when it comes to persuading those who do not agree or effectively guiding the actions of those who do.

A political platform shouldn't be expected to be a philosophical statement, should it? As far as I know, political parties are just ad hoc organizations. The fundamental problem is not with the Libertarian Party, but with the Libertarian Movement -- which says that no justifications for liberty are necessary; that simply any justifications will do, that all are just fine. The problem with the Libertarian Party is incidental -- it is currently filled with cranks who believe environmentalism more strongly than even an insane person would, and believe US was attacked due to its guilt and interventionism. (Non-neo-con) Republicans are essentially classical liberals, and have a much more consistent political philosophy for government.

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A political platform shouldn't be expected to be a philosophical statement, should it?

It should be the statement of a political philosophy.

What Ayn Rand said with regard to political candidates running for office is also applicable to the political platforms on which they run:

One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate's total philosophy—only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials).

A political platform should state the essentials of a political philosophy.

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A political platform shouldn't be expected to be a philosophical statement, should it?

It should be the statement of a political philosophy.

What Ayn Rand said with regard to political candidates running for office is also applicable to the political platforms on which they run:

One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate's total philosophy—only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials).

A political platform should state the essentials of a political philosophy.

Then I don't understand the connection between that and her 'ad hoc' comment. What's wrong with voting for a party whose sole platform is 'to lower taxes', without any philosophical statement to that effect. AR expressed clear support such a party.

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A political platform should state the essentials of a political philosophy.

Then I don't understand the connection between that and her 'ad hoc' comment. What's wrong with voting for a party whose sole platform is 'to lower taxes', without any philosophical statement to that effect. AR expressed clear support such a party.

There is nothing wrong with advocating lower taxes because that is a political principle. It is a fundamental political idea unlike, for example, cutting the capital gains tax by 50%. A platform, like a candidate's views, should not just be a collection of concretes. As Ayn Rand wrote:

It is only in terms of principles that a candidate can offer us a program and indicate his future course-not in terms of floating abstractions, stale generalities and contradictory promises about a miscellaneous collection of concrete, out-of-context, range-of-the-moment issues. A candidate's view on whether the U.S. should or should not withdraw from the U.N. is not a principle; his view on whether a nation should or should not protect its sovereignty is a principle, which covers many issues besides the U.N.

Since it is only by means of principles that men can judge the alternatives confronting them and project their future, a political campaign conducted in terms of concretes means a candidate's demand for a blank check on power.

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There is nothing wrong with advocating lower taxes because that is a political principle. It is a fundamental political idea unlike, for example, cutting the capital gains tax by 50%. A platform, like a candidate's views, should not just be a collection of concretes.

Ok, I see what you mean there, and completely agree with you.

But how does that comport with your earlier post, that the LP must mention a moral justification for liberty, or else violate the foundation of its platform? LP platform should mention political principles, like 'lower taxes'. I don't necessarily agree that it has to have philosophical statements, in order to have legitimacy. What needs to have philosophical statements is the libertarian movement, and that doesn't have legitimacy by being absent of them. The LP, as all parties, is an ad hoc organization, at the moment (and for the foreseeable future) overrun by people with views completely incompatible with political freedom.

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The fetus recapitulates three billion years of biological evolution. Only at the 20th week does it achieve human status: human brain waves are generated. Plus: the fetus at that stage is viable outside the womb--it doesn't need to be attached to another human being. Thus the LPPa Platform position is scientific.
This is an arbitrary and unscientific assertion, unsupported by any relevant scientific data, as far as I was able to discover in an admittedly brief survey. Fortunately, others [Margaret Sykes] have done some of that work for me, reviewing the literature:
They found "electrical activity" in fetal brainstem cells from 10 weeks of pregnancy (56 days after fertilization) on, but that doesn't mean much. An EEG involves measuring varying electrical potentials across a dipole, or separated positive and negative charges. Any living cell has an electrical potential across its membrane, and any living structure is a dipole, which explains why people have been able to put electrodes on plants, hook them up to EEG machines, and get "evidence" that plants have feelings. But this has nothing to do with "brain waves," which are a nontechnical term for a particular kind of varying potentials produced by certain brain structures that don't even exist in an embryo and associated with consciousness and dreaming as well as the regulation of bodily functions. The Bergstroms did not find electrical activity of a kind that had anything to do with "brain function" until 84 days (12 weeks) of gestation, or 70 days after conception. The activity then recorded was not in any way similar to what is seen on a normal EEG, which includes what people call "brain waves." Rather, the Bergstroms stimulated the fetal brain stem and were able to record random bursts of electrical activity which looked exactly like the bursts they got from the fetal leg muscles when they were stimulated.
There is more in the Sykes review and elsewhere, but the relevance of this is not the political one, but in the nature and carelessness of the claim that this "brainwave" issue somehow supersedes fetal separation as the determinant of legal status as an individual. The appeal to science, very selectively considered and applied, does not clarify a political issue, it confuses it. It asserts that the mother's rights are to be trumped, her body invaded or controlled, when certain biometrical markers are detected or an elapsed time period passed. There is other credible scientific literature that says that the actual post-partum event is necessary to stimulate the brain to begin its process of cognitive development.

But the political issue has always been the woman's willing delivery of the fetus and the legal separation that makes it a 'person' as far as the State is concerned.

The fact that the LPP would use such a debatable, misrepresented yardstick to declare de facto law on a party platform is quite disturbing. It is not a philosphical grounding, it's a rationalization and based on feelings, not science.

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The fetus recapitulates three billion years of biological evolution. Only at the 20th week does it achieve human status: human brain waves are generated. Plus: the fetus at that stage is viable outside the womb
It may be viable outside the womb, but it still is inside it. It still is a parasite.
it doesn't need to be attached to another human being.
It may not need to be attached, but it still is.

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But how does that comport with your earlier post, that the LP must mention a moral justification for liberty, or else violate the foundation of its platform?

The particular platform presented was merely a collection of concretes and the underlying political principles were not stated at all. There were implicit ideas there, of course, but many of them were so controversial they needed to be made explicit and defended. Other positions in the platform were flat-out wrong (criminalizing animal cruelty and the 20-week abortion limit) and make me question what ideas and misunderstandings underlie them.

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Fortunately, others [Margaret Sykes] have done some of that work for me, reviewing the literature:

Thanks for your post, alann. I haven't yet read the full article, just pieces. However, I was still quite troubled by her second to last statement:

So I have no objection to saying that "a human life" or "human personhood" begins when brain waves are measured on an EEG.

I do. This is a materialist view of consciousness--the idea that the mind and the brain are the same thing, or that concsiousness is merely the complex pattern of firing neurons in one's brain. Materialism is determinism. It contradicts free will.

Any platform that is going to simultaneously claim that man has free will--a fundamental aspect of his consciousness and his distinctly human nature--AND that life begins with brain waves has a LOT of explaining to do. Plus, imagine the form determinism would take legally. I don't want this legislated.

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I'm sure that electrical activity can be measured in any animal brain, including any animal at a sufficient stage of development, and including the likes of fish and tadpoles. That hardly implies that all animals have rights.

Even a newborn baby disconnected from its mother has no independent personality or knowledge, much less a fetus, hence the term "tabula rasa".

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My interest in philosophy is to apply it to the real world.

B)

Do you think that the rest of us have some other interest in philosophy? Would Ayn Rand have devised her philosophy for use in some other world?

Objectivism is the only philosophy that is useful in the real world. You are arguing from the corner of the pragmatist.

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Fortunately, others [Margaret Sykes] have done some of that work for me, reviewing the literature:

Thanks for your post, alann. I haven't yet read the full article, just pieces. However, I was still quite troubled by her second to last statement:

So I have no objection to saying that "a human life" or "human personhood" begins when brain waves are measured on an EEG.

I do. This is a materialist view of consciousness--the idea that the mind and the brain are the same thing, or that concsiousness is merely the complex pattern of firing neurons in one's brain. Materialism is determinism. It contradicts free will.

Any platform that is going to simultaneously claim that man has free will--a fundamental aspect of his consciousness and his distinctly human nature--AND that life begins with brain waves has a LOT of explaining to do. Plus, imagine the form determinism would take legally. I don't want this legislated.

I agree. I was referencing Sykes in a limited context; that of examining the nature of the claims to some "power-on" point at which the fetal brain is suddenly switched on and the fetus is now considering its kindergarten options. All of these organs are developing and maturing prior to birth, at which point they will be useful and the newborn will then be learning to breath, to maneuver, to locate and ingest food, to perceive and differentiate. Prior to that it is not a person.

Like many here and elsewhere, I'm not a big fan of late-term abortion, but it is not my obligation nor right to intervene. Intelligent human beings plan and act long range. A woman who does not want to have a child must have the option to terminate the pregnancy up until she actually delivers. Till then, the fetus has no independent existence and the state has no right nor obligation to protect it as if it were a person. A willing mother thinks of the fetus, from the first positive test or the first kick, as an actual child, but it is still a potential. Plenty of quite intelligent people are confused about this and the Christian religion has gone out of its way to formalize that confusion from the ridiculous pictures of the miniature adult "homunculus" in fanciful Medieval paintings and theology

"Preformationism," a theory of heredity, claimed either the egg or the sperm (exactly which was a contentious issue) contained a complete preformed individual called a homunculus. Development was therefore a matter of enlarging this into a fully formed being.
Even if a modern knowledge of embryology is now available to anyone with an interest, that doesn't mean that people don't hold incompatible floating abstractions of that Little Person in the womb, however it might be rationalized.

In Understanding Objectivism, when one of the participants in an exercise of "chewing" a concept -- reducing it to concretes as a means to better understand the abstraction -- used abortion as their topic, Leonard Peikoff said (as best I can recall): "If someone told me to use abortion as my topic to learn how to chew a concept, I think I'd jump out a window." He went on to suggest that it was far better to select clear black-and-white concepts to start with, not the more complex and difficult issues. Yet, here, in a political platform, we have The Solution to The Abortion Issue, rationalized with the latest 2-decade-old arbitrary assertion and pseudoscience. Of all things to lay out specifically as an allegedly rational platform plank, this is not one of them.

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But how does that comport with your earlier post, that the LP must mention a moral justification for liberty, or else violate the foundation of its platform?

The particular platform presented was merely a collection of concretes and the underlying political principles were not stated at all. There were implicit ideas there, of course, but many of them were so controversial they needed to be made explicit and defended. Other positions in the platform were flat-out wrong (criminalizing animal cruelty and the 20-week abortion limit) and make me question what ideas and misunderstandings underlie them.

Hogwash. The LPPa Platform is an axiomatic system: all planks are logically derived from the Statement of Principles. It is perfectly well organized. Also, there is nothing in the Platform about criminalizing animal cruelty. The 20-week abortion limit is scientific. I have to say that I'm very disappointed with the lack of intelligence on this Forum.

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But how does that comport with your earlier post, that the LP must mention a moral justification for liberty, or else violate the foundation of its platform?

The particular platform presented was merely a collection of concretes and the underlying political principles were not stated at all. There were implicit ideas there, of course, but many of them were so controversial they needed to be made explicit and defended. Other positions in the platform were flat-out wrong (criminalizing animal cruelty and the 20-week abortion limit) and make me question what ideas and misunderstandings underlie them.

Hogwash. The LPPa Platform is an axiomatic system: all planks are logically derived from the Statement of Principles. It is perfectly well organized. Also, there is nothing in the Platform about criminalizing animal cruelty. The 20-week abortion limit is scientific. I have to say that I'm very disappointed with the lack of intelligence on this Forum.

I'm very disappointed that you have not addressed any of the issues I have brought up about your statements. To call a political platform "axiomatic" is beyond the pale.

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Hogwash. The LPPa Platform is an axiomatic system: all planks are logically derived from the Statement of Principles.

What does that even mean? Is it itself a set of axioms, or merely derived from axioms? If it's the second you're conceptually unclear, and if the first you don't understand what an axiom is.

It is perfectly well organized. Also, there is nothing in the Platform about criminalizing animal cruelty. The 20-week abortion limit is scientific.

I suppose the environmental stances of the LPP are scientific? Eugenics has also been called 'scientific'. Just because you call something scientific doesn't automatically make it so.

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That's a misunderstanding. We decided to leave it to each county Libertarian Committee to draft proposed animal ordinances which would be appropriate for their local community. Pennsylvania is a very large state--one wag said that "it's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between."

My interest in philosophy is to apply it to the real world. The LPPa Board concluded that recommendations for legislation at the state level on this topic were inappropriate; each county should draft its own ordinances because each county has the relevant knowledge.

That sounds like pragmatism, not applying philosophy. Do you think that rights are contingent on the community you live in? Why was it "inappropriate" for your party to make recommendations to local committees? Either animals have rights, or they don't. Which is it, and why? I'm surprised that although "all planks are logically derived from the Statement of Principles", on an important issue like animal rights you "don't think [you've] nailed it". If your system is "axiomatic" as you claim, it should be a no-brainer, yes?

Insulting the intelligence of posters here will not help you. There's an apt colloquialism: put up or shut up. If your system is "perfectly well organized", then you should have no trouble answering the questions that were put to you.

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The LPPa Platform is an axiomatic system: all planks are logically derived from the Statement of Principles. It is perfectly well organized.

This epistemological approach -- deriving conclusions from ideas taken as axiomatic -- is what Ayn Rand called "rationalism." Although many honest and intelligent people are rationalists, it is a big mistake because it essentially starts with ideas in consciousness and tries to derive facts of reality from them. This is a de facto primacy of consciousness metaphysics leading to an actual break between the rationalist's mind and reality.

Instead, Objectivism advocates a sense-based, rather than idea based, starting point and proceeding by induction, rather than deduction, from that starting point. For a clear and useful discussion of why rationalism is a problem and how to overcome it, I cannot do better than recommend Leonard Peikoff's wonderful course, "Understanding Objectivism."

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