Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

29 January 2013

Tacit Consent to Pregnancy? No!

By Diana Hsieh

This short commentary raises an excellent question about the "if you have sex, you're consenting to pregnancy" argument against abortion rights.

According to many pro-lifers, when women consent to sex, they thereby consent to (and commit themselves to) bearing any resulting children. And so, in deciding to having sex, these women have in effect voluntarily waived their right to get an abortion.
Now, I find this pro-life claim utterly baffling: consent to sex is clearly different from consenting to anything further, many women deliberately use birth control to avoid pregnancy, many women plan on getting an abortion if they should end up pregnant, etc. According to this pro-life claim, it seems, we are supposed to interpret the act of consensual sex itself as involving some sort of mysterious tacit consent and occult commitments that are not only morally significant, but so overwhelmingly morally important as to completely override the actual preferences of the woman. I don't think actions carry occult commitments, and this all seems like superstition to me.

But here's my question. Let's suppose for the sake of argument that actions do carry occult commitments. Even granting this, we still need a way of telling what those commitments are. Without a method of interpretation, we're utterly in the dark. For example, a typical pro-lifer might say that the act of consensual sex carries the commitment to bear the child, waiving one's right to an abortion. But a more radical pro-lifer might say that the act of consensual sex carries the commitment to bear and raise the child, waiving one's right to an abortion as well as one's right to put the child up for adoption. My question is: how are we supposed to tell which interpretation is correct, and which occult commitments are (and are not) carried by the act of consensual sex?

Ultimately, all arguments against abortion rights -- including the argument from tacit consent -- depend on the claim that the fetus has a right to life.  Ari Armstrong and I refuted that argument in our 2010 policy paper, The "Personhood" Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception.  If you've not yet read it, be sure to check out the section on "Individual Rights and Abortion."

That being said... over the past few months, I've been thinking off and on about how to defend abortion rights in a way that's more persuasive than the standard pro-choice arguments, including the better arguments of Objectivists.  I want to find a way to make my own view resonate better with reasonable people of the "but it's a baby!" mindset.  So if you have any thoughts on more effective rhetoric on this issue, I'd be interested to hear that in the comments.  I'd be particularly interested to hear from people who switched from "pro-life" to pro-choice views: What convinced you?

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23 January 2013

Veto Power over Abortion: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh



On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on veto power over abortion. The question was:

Should a man be able to prevent his pregnant girlfriend from aborting his baby? Sometimes, a man will get his girlfriend pregnant accidentally, and they disagree about what should be done. If the man wants the woman to carry the pregnancy to term, whether to give up the baby for adoption or him take sole custody, while the woman wants to get an abortion, should he be able to prevent her? It's his baby, shouldn't he have some say?
My Answer, In Brief: The right to abortion is not based on any property right in the fetus. Rather, the right to abortion is based on a woman's right to her own body, including the fact that the embryo or fetus is not a person. The man might object, but he has no moral or legal right to interfere.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:


Tags: Abortion, Children, Ethics, Fatherhood, Pregnancy, Rights Relevant Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I also answered questions on solutions to widespread racism, recommended works of Aristotle, staying in a marriage, and more – is available here: Episode of 20 January 2013.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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18 January 2013

Veto Power over Abortion: Sunday on Philosophy in Action Radio

By Diana Hsieh

On the next episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer a question on veto power over abortion. The question is:

Should a man be able to prevent his pregnant girlfriend from aborting his baby? Sometimes, a man will get his girlfriend pregnant accidentally, and they disagree about what should be done. If the man wants the woman to carry the pregnancy to term, whether to give up the baby for adoption or him take sole custody, while the woman wants to get an abortion, should he be able to prevent her? It's his baby, shouldn't he have some say?
Interested? I hope so!

This episode of internet radio airs on Sunday morning, 20 January 2013, at 8 PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET. The full show will cover solutions to widespread racism, recommended works of Aristotle, veto power over abortion, staying in a marriage, and more. Be sure to check out the full slate of questions.

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

Again, if you miss the live broadcast, you'll find the audio podcast from the episode posted in the archive: Radio Archive: 20 January 2013.

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

I hope that you join us on Sunday morning, but if you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later!

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16 January 2013

Romance Between an Atheist and a Believer: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on romance between an atheist and a believer. The question was:

Can a romance between an atheist and a religious believer work? What are the major obstacles? Should the atheist attend church or church socials with his spouse? Should they have a religious wedding ceremony? Should they send their children to religious schools? Do the particular beliefs – or strength of beliefs – of the religious person matter?
My Answer, In Brief: Religion is a fundamental motivator of values, and so romance between an atheist and a religious believer is possible, but fraught with danger.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:


Tags: Atheism, Character, Children, Compromise, Ethics, Honesty, Integrity, Marriage, Relationships, Religion, Romance Relevant Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on free will and natural law, romance between an atheist and a believer, bringing children into a statist world, and more – is available here: Episode of 13 January 2013.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedPhilosophy in Action's YouTube Channel

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Link-O-Rama

By Diana Hsieh

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14 January 2013

Paul Sherman on Free Speech in Elections: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

I interviewed Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman about "Free Speech in Elections" on Philosophy in Action Radio on Wednesday, 9 January 2013.

You can listen to or download the audio podcast any time. You'll find the podcast on the episode's archive page, as well as below.

Podcast: 9 January 2013: Paul Sherman on "Free Speech in Elections"

Many people support restrictions on spending in elections, particularly by corporations, in the name of "transparency" and "accountability." Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman takes a very different view. He argues persuasively that any restrictions on campaign spending are violations of freedom of speech. He has successfully argued that view in courts across the country.

Paul Sherman is an attorney with the Institute for Justice. He litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting the First Amendment, economic liberty, property rights and other individual liberties in both federal and state courts. Paul has litigated extensively in the area of campaign finance. He currently represents a group of Florida political activists in Worley v. Roberts, a challenge to state campaign finance laws that burden the right of citizens to pool money for independent ads about ballot issues. Paul also served as co-counsel in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, which the Congressional Research Service described as representing one of "the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades."
Listen or Download:

Topics:
  • Common federal and state campaign finance laws
  • The history of campaign finance laws
  • Breadth in decisions, and my case
  • The results of campaign finance laws
  • Private enforcement of campaign finance laws
  • The value of "transparency" and "accountability" in elections
  • Money as a form of speech
  • Protections for corporate speech
  • Privacy and campaign contributions
  • The irrelevance of funding to campaigns
  • SuperPACS
  • Individuals versus groups in campaign finance
  • The Institute for Justice's current cases and strategy
  • Truly supporting the First Amendment
  • How to effectively defend free speech


Relevant Links:

Tags:

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09 January 2013

Paul Sherman on Free Speech in Elections: Wednesday on Philosophy in Action Radio

By Diana Hsieh

On tonight's episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll interview Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman about "Free Speech in Elections."

This episode of internet radio airs on this evening, 9 January 2013, at 6 PT / 7 MT / 8 CT / 9 ET in our live studio. If you miss that live broadcast, you can listen to the podcast later.

Here's a bit more about the show:

Many people support restrictions on spending in elections, particularly by corporations, in the name of "transparency" and "accountability." Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman takes a very different view. He claims that any restrictions on campaign spending are violations of freedom of speech, and he has successfully argued that view in courts across the country.

Paul Sherman is an attorney with the Institute for Justice. He litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting the First Amendment, economic liberty, property rights and other individual liberties in both federal and state courts. Paul has litigated extensively in the area of campaign finance. He currently represents a group of Florida political activists in Worley v. Roberts, a challenge to state campaign finance laws that burden the right of citizens to pool money for independent ads about ballot issues. Paul also served as co-counsel in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, which the Congressional Research Service described as representing one of "the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades."

To join the live broadcast and its chat, just point your browser to Philosophy in Action's Live Studio a few minutes before the show is scheduled to start. By listening live, you can share your thoughts with other listeners and ask us follow-up questions in the text chat.

Again, if you miss the live broadcast, you'll find the audio podcast from the episode posted in the archive: Radio Archive: 9 January 2013.

I hope that you join us on Wednesday evening, but if you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later!

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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08 January 2013

Gay "Conversion" Therapy: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on gay "conversion" therapy. I thought that might be of interest. The question was:

Was California right or wrong to ban "gay cure" therapy for minors? Recently, California banned "reparative" or "conversion" therapy – meaning, therapy that aims to make gay teenagers straight. Such therapy is widely regarded as dangerous pseudo-science by mental health professionals. The ban only applies to patients under 18. So adults can still choose such therapy for themselves, but parents cannot foist it on their minor children. Is such therapy a form of child abuse? Or should parents have the power to compel such therapy on their children, even if they're morally wrong to do so?
My Answer, In Brief: Gay "conversion" therapy, even when voluntary, can be deeply destructive to a teenager. I'm not sure that it should be banned, however.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:


Tags: Ethics, GLBT, Law, Parenting, Psychology, Rights, Torts Relevant Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on manipulating finances to qualify for welfare, initiating contact in friendship, poking fun at values, gay "conversion" therapy, and more – is available as a podcast here: Episode of 6 January 2013.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedPhilosophy in Action's YouTube Channel

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02 January 2013

The Good in American Culture: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on the good in American culture. I thought that might be of interest, particularly given the depressing political news of late. The question was:

How is American culture better today better than people think? I've heard lots of depressing claims about the abysmal state of American culture lately, particularly since Obama won the election. You've disputed that, arguing that America is better in its fundamentals that many people think. What are some of those overlooked but positive American values? How can they be leveraged for cultural and political change?
My Answer, In Brief: American culture, while not perfect, is so much better than most people realize. Notice, enjoy, and promote that goodness!

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:


Tags: Activism, America, Apocalypticism, Business, Culture, Ethics, Politics, Rights, Technology Relevant Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread. A podcast of the full episode – is available here: Episode of 30 December 2012.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedPhilosophy in Action's YouTube Channel

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