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#1
Old 08-09-2004, 11:25 AM
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Political Compass #31: Seriously disabled people should not reproduce.

Welcome back to the second half of this endeavour!

Many political debates here have included references to The Political Compass, which uses a set of 61 questions to assess one’s political orientation in terms of economic left/right and social libertarianism/authoritarianism (rather like the “Libertarian diamond” popular in the US).

And so, every so often I will begin a thread in which the premise for debate is one of the 61 questions. I will give which answer I chose and provide my justification and reasoning. Others are, of course, invited to do the same including those who wish to “question the question”, as it were.

It would also be useful when posting in these threads to give your own “compass reading” in your first post, by convention giving the Economic value first. My own is
SentientMeat: Economic: -5.12, Social: -7.28, and so by the above convention my co-ordinates are (-5.12, -7.28). Please also indicate which option you ticked. I might suggest what I think is the “weighting” given to the various answers in terms of calculating the final orientation, but seeing for yourself what kind of answers are given by those with a certain score might be more useful than second-guessing the test’s scoring system.

Now, I appreciate that there is often dissent regarding whether the assessment the test provides is valid, notably by US conservative posters, either because it is “left-biased” (??) or because some propositions are clearly slanted, ambiguous or self-contradictory. The site itself provides answers to these and other Frequently Asked Questions, and there is also a separate thread: Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading? Read these first and then, if you have an objection to the test in general, please post it there. If your objection is solely to the proposition in hand, post here. If your objection is to other propositions, please wait until I open a thread on them.

The above will be pasted in every new thread in order to introduce it properly, and I’ll try to let each one exhaust itself of useful input before starting the next. Without wanting to “hog the idea”, I would be grateful if others could refrain from starting similar threads. To date, the threads are:
Does The Political Compass give an accurate reading?
Political Compass #1: Globalisation, Humanity and OmniCorp.
#2: My country, right or wrong
#3: Pride in one’s country is foolish.
#4: Superior racial qualities.
#5: My enemy's enemy is my friend.
#6: Justifying illegal military action.
#7: “Info-tainment” is a worrying trend.
#8: Class division vs. international division. (+ SentientMeat’s economic worldview)
#9: Inflation vs. unemployment.
#10: Corporate respect of the environment.
#11: From each according to his ability, to each according to need.
#12: Sad reflections in branded drinking water.
#13: Land should not be bought and sold.
#14: Many personal fortunes contribute nothing to society.
#15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.
#16: Shareholder profit is a company's only responsibility.
#17: The rich are too highly taxed.
#18: Better healthcare for those who can pay for it.
#19: Penalising businesses which mislead the public.
#20: The freer the market, the freer the people.
#21: Abortion should be illegal.
#22: All authority must be questioned.
#23: An eye for an eye.
#24: Taxpayers should not prop up theatres or museums.
#25: Schools shouldn’t make attendance compulsory.
#26: Different kinds of people should keep to their own.
#27: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.
#28: It’s natural for children to keep secrets.
#29: Marijuana should be legalised.
#30: School’s prime function is equipping kids to find jobs.


Proposition #31: People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.

SentientMeat (-5.12, -7.28) ticks Strongly Disagree.


Anyone can have a baby with a serious disability. This proposition would appear to arbitrarily target those who already have such a condition, even though it is entirely possible that their baby will be born healthy while a healthy couple’s baby is born with their condition. There is a word for such double jeopardy, ie. punishment of one born with some affliction by denying them the joy of parenthood: eugenics.

It might be that such a policy could reduce the frequency of that condition in future generations, thus reducing suffering in the long run. However, I would counter that the suffering which such a policy would immediately cause to those denied the choice of parenthood would take a heck of a long time to redress, and perhaps would never be compensated for since the genes are still carried by those without such disabilities and thus the condition’s incidence may not actually become that much less frequent.

Far better, say I, to seek to cure that condition, or to select from a reproductory sample of the afflicted person a zygote which tests negative (a mere refinement of what occurs naturally in many cases anyway - the failure of a blastocyst to implant in the womb.) I feel that the suffering in this scenario effectively falls to zero (unless one contends that single celled organisms can 'suffer', in which case one should really be lobbying for a ban on antiseptic.)

Civilisation has long since reached a point where people with tragic conditions can enjoy fulfilling lives and contribute to society - we can rejoice that Stephen Hawking’s parents were not barred from reproduction, for example. We might argue about precisely what constitutes a “serious disability” and whether embryo screening is therefore appropriate, but I would suggest that this is peripheral to debating proposition #31. On its face, it is a vastly authoritarian contention which I would think few to none of us here would ascribe to without some pretty strained interpretation.
#2
Old 08-09-2004, 12:35 PM
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Welcome back SM.

7.0/-3.0 here. Strongly disagree.

Leaving aside the potential for abuse (who gets to decide what "disabilities" qualify), it's really a simple matter of individual rights. One does not give up one's right to reproduce just because one is a member of a society.

However, the corrolary to this is that a person's right to reproduce (and produce a disabled child) does not give that a person a lien on my income to care for that child. If it does, then I will want a say in whether or not that person can reproduce.

One more issue to throw out in this discussion: If you disagree with the proposition, you must also disagree with laws forbidding close relatives (including siblings and parent/child couples) from marrying.
#3
Old 08-09-2004, 12:35 PM
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Hoo boy, I get to be first to respond!

Shodan ticks "Agree". People with serious, inheritable conditions should not reproduce.

Please note that the phrase DOES NOT SAY "should not be allowed to reproduce". I am not advocating government intervention. But, Stephen Hawkings notwithstanding, it would better if we could free up limited resources by not spending them on avoidable problems.

Now bring on the Beethoven references.

Regards,
Shodan
#4
Old 08-09-2004, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Please note that the phrase DOES NOT SAY "should not be allowed to reproduce".
That was my title, necessarily abbreviated. The proposition we are debating is #31 which contains the words "should not be allowed".
#5
Old 08-09-2004, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
Please note that the phrase DOES NOT SAY "should not be allowed to reproduce".
Actually, it DOES say that.

SM often shortens the proposition for the thread title, and in this case it changes the whole meaning. You actually need to read the OP, not just the thread title.
#6
Old 08-09-2004, 12:47 PM
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I don't see why seriously siable people as a whole shouldn't be allowed to reproduce.

But I'll go with Shodan saying that with today's genetic screening and research, people should be informed of the chances of producing a defective iffspring.

The moral choice would then be to reproduce or not, depending on the chances.

Unfortunately genetic and prenatal screening is disgustingly sad in the U.S. I can look up a cite if someone needs it but I believe we are not only not near the top, but somewhere around #10. And even when we are # 1 (as we should be! - for all the pride we take in our country!)

(slight hijack)
I heard of a case a month or so ago. This woman knew that she should take her folic acid pills, she knew folic acid can totally prevent spina bifida and hydroencephaly, she knew she should get proper prenatal care. (Or so her mother told me on the phone). Yet she chose to do none of the above. Her baby was born with spina bifida.
(/end hijack)
#7
Old 08-09-2004, 12:58 PM
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I don't know enough about inherited disabilities and how likely they are to be transmitted to answer this question either way. It seems like the goal of alleviating suffering of future generations should be valued less than ensuring freedom from tyranny for future generations, though.

I strongly disagree based on the limited knowledge I have. There is just too much authoritarianism in that statement for me to take it seriously.
#8
Old 08-09-2004, 01:04 PM
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Last time I took the test I was:

Economic Left/Right: 4.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.44


People should be "allowed" to reproduce, sure. But am I, personally, going to judge them fairly harshly? Yes.

Like Mattie Stepanek's parents. I believe they are incredibly selfish people. Whatever their reasons for continuing to have children, I don't think I can believe that they are behaving any way but selfishly. If you have four children and three die horribly at an early age and one lives longer but almost completely incapacitated, I want to know what you're thinking.
#9
Old 08-09-2004, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Proposition #31: People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.
Its all about individual rights and allowing people to be responsible for their own actions. To me its a no brainer, and I strongly disagree that people with serioud disabilities should not be ALLOWED to reproduce. It should be their individual choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
However, the corrolary to this is that a person's right to reproduce (and produce a disabled child) does not give that a person a lien on my income to care for that child. If it does, then I will want a say in whether or not that person can reproduce.
Well, thats the rub of the nanny society. If they are paying the bills they can have a say, and in fact they can INSIST they have a say in various facets of the lives of the members...for the good of the collective society of course. In Europe there are many decisions (though I'm not sure if this is one...yet) that the government can make for its citizens to curtail their rights, because society picks up so much of the tab and so has so big a stake in things.

-XT
#10
Old 08-09-2004, 01:20 PM
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If it is "should not be allowed", then I Disagree. Not the government's business.

Regards,
Shodan
#11
Old 08-09-2004, 02:09 PM
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Should not reproduce? Definitely. Should not be allowed to reproduce? No. Even the most profoundly disabled life is still precious and comes complete with all the rights and responsibilities as all of us. I'd rather that society support some of those who perhaps should not have been born than let society dictate who should not reproduce. Disagree- agree with the ends but not the means.
#12
Old 08-09-2004, 03:02 PM
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(1.62, -4.92) here. fun quiz. does it mean anything (i.e. do our differences in scores indicate a difference in political philosophy?)?

strongly disagree on the same grounds as just about everyone else. perhaps "three generations of imbeciles are enough", but it's not up to the government to make that determination.
#13
Old 08-09-2004, 03:12 PM
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I wonder who this question is targetted at...i.e. what kind of folks would say that 'seriously disabled people should not (be allowed) to reproduce'? And what their rational would be.

As I see it, a large percentage of Americans, while disagreeing on the details, would disagree agree with this position: (most) liberals are going to say people should be allowed to reproduce if they want (and have the state pick up the tab, a la BobLibDem), conservatives (at least the quasi-religious fundi-conservatives) are going to be against abortion reguardless, libertarians (a la John Mace) are going to be against it on personal choice and freedom grounds (while NOT wanting the government to pick up the tab)...who does that leave? Centrists? Even most of them would disagree probably for all of the reasons of the liberals/conservatives/liberatarians etc. Seems like it would be a pretty narrow niche group of eugenics types, no? Perhaps true Communists? Facists? How about the Greens? They seem to me to be a likely candidate for this, no?

-XT
#14
Old 08-09-2004, 03:12 PM
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I think physical and mental disabilities need to be divided into two camps.

Imagine sitting in a room full of the seriously mentally retarded. They can’t make informed decisions about their own welfare and are unable to provide subsistence for their own lives. Payments by other people must be made for their upkeep. Their condition is inheritable.

Under such circumstances, preventing them from reproducing is essential and wholly justifiable. Absolutely no good could result from the birth of a child with such serious mental disabilities. I think, in such cases, the guardians of the seriously mentally retarded should ensure that conception does not occur. If they have no rational idea for what having a child would entail and no ability to provide for a child, I would strongly agree they should not be allowed to reproduce.

However, if someone with a purely physical inheritable disability makes a reasonable and informed choice to reproduce, I would disagree they should not be allowed to reproduce.

I remember a story form two decades ago about a woman born without hands. Her condition was inheritable; even odds on whether her children would have hands or not. She gave birth to a kid without hands. She wanted more kids—with hands or without hands. Now, if I were her doctor, I’d certainly recommend not reproducing given her condition, but I don’t think prohibiting her pregnancy should be allowed.
#15
Old 08-09-2004, 04:15 PM
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Since there isn't a whole lot of debate here...

Is there anyone who disagrees with the proposition but who would support mandatory car seat belt laws or motor cycle helmet laws? Or, as I originally posed it, anyone who would disagree with the proposition but who supports laws against sibling marriage?
#16
Old 08-09-2004, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyrrhonist
If they have no rational idea for what having a child would entail and no ability to provide for a child, I would strongly agree they should not be allowed to reproduce.
I would argue that they should not be allowed to be raped and that any sexual encounters with such people is rape. If they are protected against sexual encounters that they cannot, by law, consent to, then they will not reproduce.
#17
Old 08-09-2004, 07:23 PM
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I worked for a brief time in a temp job at our county's MR/DD center.

While I was there, a couple of people who attended classes in the center fell in love and decided to marry. Both of these people had the mental abilities of a child of about seven. They were minimally functional, in other words: they could communicate on a basic level, could perform simple tasks, but needed around-the-clock assistance to live on their own.

After the wedding, they announced their intentions to have a baby, because, in the words of the potential mother: "Babies are pretty." The job ended before I found out if they ever had a baby or not.

I remember at the time discussing this with my husband. I was torn between two minds on the issue-- and still am. On one hand, I fear for the child, who, if born "normal" will suffer a lack of parental socialization and education, and if mentally disabled will have needs which may not be met by parents who cannot even meet their own. On the other hand, forced birth control or sterilization smacks of eugenics and facism.

One way or another, the child would end up being cared for by the staff who assisted the parents in their home and supported by State money. The parents relied on the State for the lion's share of their income: they worked at a special industry set up for them here in town, but it pays pittance wages which could never support them. This also tears me, because on one hand, I support the welfare system in our country, but on the other, I realize that this child could be potentially more of a drain on resources than another child. If the child is born disabled, chances are that the State would always have to support him, whereas a "normal" child has a chance at a successful, tax-paying life.

This seems to be one of those painful issues for which there is no cut-and-dried answer. Constitutionally speaking, the rights must lie with the potential parents, not with a child not yet concieved. Childrens' Services will have to do the rest: if it is proven that the child cannot be cared for in its home environment, they can make decisions as to what to do at that point.
#18
Old 08-09-2004, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Since there isn't a whole lot of debate here...

Is there anyone who disagrees with the proposition but who would support mandatory car seat belt laws or motor cycle helmet laws? Or, as I originally posed it, anyone who would disagree with the proposition but who supports laws against sibling marriage?

Car seatbelt laws is not the same case. If you don't wear your seatbelt, you are only harming yourself. But if you procrerate while you have some inheritable disease, you are harming your child.
#19
Old 08-09-2004, 09:26 PM
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Strongly disagree
#20
Old 08-10-2004, 12:24 AM
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Strongly disagree. It isn't the governments job to tell me who I can screw and whether or not I can produce a child. Of course I think people who are likely to pass on serious genetic flaws shouldn't have children but that's a personal choice.

Marc
#21
Old 08-10-2004, 04:11 AM
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Around +5, +0.5 or so iirc.

Strongly Disagree.

My parents are well inside the gray area for this issue. I think that it was morally wrong for them to have me on account of moderate physical and very severe mental problems on my mom's side, as well as my dad's age, but it would be more wrong to have an outside entity forcing its perception of morality upon them. I guess I am the product of the lesser of two evils.
#22
Old 08-10-2004, 06:05 AM
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-6.something on both axes
Strongly disagree


I see two main underlying principles in this question:

1. Should government be allowed to restrict the freedom of indivduals to protect society against avoidable expenses?
2. Should government be allowed to restrict the freedom of parents to protect their children from suffering?

To a lesser extent, it also touches on:
3. Should government be allowed to restrict the freedom of individuals to protect them from their own stupidity?

In cases 1 and 3, I think government should have these rights, but if and only if the restrictions are in reasonable proportion to the problems adressed, and if and only if the restrictions don't place an unreasonable burden on individuals. So, I'm all for seatbelt laws, helmet laws, and laws about mandatory lifesaving equipment in boats. I'd support mandatory (and governement sponsored) prenatal care and health checks for children, as well. Not being allowed to have children comes in the "unreasonable burden on indiviuals" category, and thus fails.

As for 2, I want government to have both a right and a duty to restrict parents' freedom if it's neccessary to protect children from serious harm. So, obligatory education is fine. And in extreme cases government should be able to take the children from the parents, to be raised by others. But strong interference should only be allowed if we're very, very sure that it's in the child's best interest. I admit I don't know much about inheritable diseases, but I strongly doubt there are cases where outsiders can be really sure that a couple will have children who'd be better off if they'd never been born. That's a decision I'm willing to let the parents take, but I'm not willing to give it to the government.

In one kind of situation, I'd say government has a right - even a duty - to prevent someone from procreating. It's the situation Pyrrhonist described, ie. people who're so mentally retarded that they can't make this kind of descicions for themselves. I'll also support birth control for such people if they are likely to have completely healthy children. The case Lissa described is one where I might support forced birth control. It would be cruel to allow someone who is mentally the equivalent of a child to go through the physical burden of pregnancy and birth, and then the mental suffering of not being allowed to raise a wanted child. And it would be cruel to the child to let it be raised by seriously retarded parents.

My stance in this issue has nothing to do with expenses, though. My tax money is wasted in lots of ways, and I'm not willing to restrict someone's freedom that drastically just to save a tiny fraction of a percent on some health and welfare budgets.

<veering off on a somewhat related tangent>

If I read John Mace, xtisme, and Lissa correctly, you see a significant difference between situations/countries where the costs of raising a disabled child is covered (mainly) by tax money, and situations/countries where it's covered in other ways. Is that right?

I don't see this difference as important at all. A seriously disabled person will cost society something. Taxes are merely one way of distributing the expenses, but even if you do away with taxes, the costs don't disappear. If there's health insurance, the cost will be covered by the other insured people. If there's little or no welfare, society will carry the cost partly by having disabled persons living under bridges, begging on the streets, committing crimes, and partly by family members taking care of them (thus being less able to contribute to other aspects of society).
#23
Old 08-10-2004, 06:15 AM
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Disagree.

Ought not: yes. Prohibited from: no.
Ought to be able to demand society help them conceive and raise children where they’re unable due to entirely foreseeable problems relating to their disability: no.
#24
Old 08-10-2004, 06:34 AM
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Well, here we go again - the moment something is paid for by taxation everyone seemingly wants a say on a case by case basis, from which roads get repaired to which people get to have a baby. The idea of democratically electing a government to govern seems to be curiously old-fashioned in these parts.

Like I said, anyone can have a seriously disabled child. Those advocating either 'should not' or 'should not be allowed' seem to be appealing to some notional probabilistic threshold above which the risk is considered too great, and furthermore assuming that the person with the disability will simply not secure employment necessary to raise a child (disabled or not) without said taxation. This, I feel, is outright discrimination. We might all, through our genes, negligence or outright bad luck, bear and raise a child who is somehow a drain on the state. I might just as well object to your reproduction because your brother went to prison.

John:
Quote:
Is there anyone who disagrees with the proposition but who would support mandatory car seat belt laws or motor cycle helmet laws? Or, as I originally posed it, anyone who would disagree with the proposition but who supports laws against sibling marriage?
Again, we must balance the costs and benefits to society of each policy. I would say that wearing a seatbelt or helmet is a mere inconvenience, unworthy of a petulant libertarian tantrum, which prevents a great deal of death, suffering and unnecessary medical care. Disallowing reproduction to the disabled is not a mere inconvenience for them, it is a drastic and life-changing punishment for something that might engender more medical care and suffering. As for sibling/parent-child marriage, I always thought the genetic risks were vastly overblown - I always thought that the mental health of the spouses rather than the physical health of the offspring was the greater concern. Be that as it may, so long as genuine informed consent was present, I'm not too bothered - this debate being pretty peripheral to #31 of course.
#25
Old 08-10-2004, 07:26 AM
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First time in one of these threads, just took the quiz. Fun!

Economic Left/Right: -4.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67,

I Strongly Disagree. This was one of the questions that required the least thought for me. Even if the "seriously disabled people" is more clearly defined, my answer doesn't change. It's a large invasion of privacy, and though it's a bit far-fetched, I don't like the idea of the government practicing eugenics on the people it's supposed to represent. Barring specific types of people from reproducing shouldn't be allowed.
#26
Old 08-10-2004, 07:29 AM
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Re: John Mace's questions

I'll allow the government into the bedroom, so to speak, in the following circumstances: rape, violence/abuse, statutory rape (the laws we have about it have problems but I think it has to exist in some form), incest and polygamy. I think that's everything, anyway. I just see no good reason to legalize the last two, and I don't see the conflict with the position I've taken, which is that the wrong in this case is barring specific types of people from reproducing.
#27
Old 08-10-2004, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23
[...]incest and polygamy. I think that's everything, anyway. I just see no good reason to legalize the last two.
Shouldn't the burden be on you to justify its illegality, since they do not harm third parties? (I am against polygamy, as well, due to legal and tax complications, not due to social inertia.)
#28
Old 08-10-2004, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hildea
If I read John Mace, xtisme, and Lissa correctly, you see a significant difference between situations/countries where the costs of raising a disabled child is covered (mainly) by tax money, and situations/countries where it's covered in other ways. Is that right?
For me, no, not really. As I said, I firmly support social welfare programs. The potential cost to the system was just a small factor in this issue I thought worth mentioning. Even if the potential parents were rich, I'd still have the same basic concerns-- the human suffering potentially involved.
#29
Old 08-10-2004, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SentientMeat
John:
Again, we must balance the costs and benefits to society of each policy. I would say that wearing a seatbelt or helmet is a mere inconvenience, unworthy of a petulant libertarian tantrum, which prevents a great deal of death, suffering and unnecessary medical care. Disallowing reproduction to the disabled is not a mere inconvenience for them, it is a drastic and life-changing punishment for something that might engender more medical care and suffering.
It's certainly true that reproductive rights are a much beigger deal than the right to "not wear a seatbelt". But you can draw the two much closer together that you might think. Although traffic accidents are a major cause of death and injury, the odds of being killed or severly disabled in an accident are still quite small. There are certain genetic defects that are highly probable and easily preventable. A perfect example is Tay-Sachs Disease. Parents who are both carriers have a 1 in 4 chance of having a child who will have the disease and die in early childhood. In vitro fertilization techniques can screen for the defect. At what point does it become "too inconvenient" to require that parents, if they know they are carriers, use this screening technique? They are not being asked to forego reproduction.
#30
Old 08-10-2004, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
They are not being asked to forego reproduction.
Aye, there's the rub - I would actually advocate some coercive element in asking sufferers of a particularly risky condition to seriously consider embryo screening (or, at least, provide a portion of carrot to go with such a stick.)
#31
Old 08-10-2004, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SentientMeat
Aye, there's the rub - I would actually advocate some coercive element in asking sufferers of a particularly risky condition to seriously consider embryo screening (or, at least, provide a portion of carrot to go with such a stick.)
In some cases they would be. The screening technique requires that "defective" embryoes be discarded. Many people would consider that to be murder, and would have to refrain from using any such screeing method.

And just FYI, I'm definitely playing devil's advocate here. But I do want to point out that this issue is much more complex than most posters are implying. And as technology improves, it will be MUCH more of an issue.
#32
Old 08-10-2004, 11:55 AM
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I know John - indeed the last two paragraphs of my OP addressed pretty much what you diabolically advocate so. (I would advocate ignoring the entreaties of those who consider it 'murder' just as I would ignore similar suggestions to ban antiseptic.)
#33
Old 08-10-2004, 03:52 PM
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Debaser picks Strongly Disagree.

One interesting take on this would be the serious inheritable disability of sterility. I have heard the argument made (IRL, not on the SDMB) that all of the fertility treatments and IVF procedures are a bad thing. Some people feel that if you aren't able to have children naturally, then you shouldn't be having them at all. Maybe this could be a subject for debate?

I, of course, do not agree with this philosophy. To me, the same logic could be used to not cure cancer or AIDS.

This all strikes a close chord with me. My step brother and his wife are both parapalegic due to seperate accidents which occured in thier youth, before they met. They used modern science and medicine to have a baby, born of his sperm and her egg, carried to term by her womb. They certainly have serious disabilities which prevent them from attempting to have a baby naturally. But, so what? I don't see the point of modern science and medicine if we don't use it to improve our lives.

My nephew is a very healthy seven year old boy now.
#34
Old 08-10-2004, 03:54 PM
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Oh, and welcome back, SentientMeat. I'm glad to see this string of threads will continue.
#35
Old 08-10-2004, 06:16 PM
I Am the One Who Bans
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 78,234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic
Shouldn't the burden be on you to justify its illegality, since they do not harm third parties?
I think the current reasons for their illegality are good enough, and I was attempting to deal with the law as it exists now.
#36
Old 08-11-2004, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Since there isn't a whole lot of debate here...

Is there anyone who disagrees with the proposition but who would support mandatory car seat belt laws or motor cycle helmet laws? Or, as I originally posed it, anyone who would disagree with the proposition but who supports laws against sibling marriage?
i personally think that mandatory seat belt laws are much more defensible than helmet laws or government-enforced sterility. while i don't buy SentientMeat's inconvenience argument (for the same reason he doesn't buy that disabled people with inheritable conditions shouldn't reproduce--the line drawn must inherently be arbitrary), i do think there are reasons for seat belt laws that go beyond the safety of the person wearing the restraint.

a friend of mine got into an accident about a year ago. he was hit from the side, and a seatbelt was not needed to prevent him from going through the windshield. the force of the accident, though not at a terribly high speed, was enough to cause some CDs that were on his seat to fly into the side window, breaking it. had he not been wearing a seat belt, he would've likely been thrown from the driver's seat and been completely unable to control his car. he was wearing one, and he was able to stop the car before charging off the road and doing more damage.

basically, i think as long as one can demonstrate that when someone wears a seat belt, there is a decreased chance of harm to others, mandatory seat belt laws are justifiable. laws that prevent someone from harming someone else are always justifiable when the burden placed on the individual is reasonably tailored to the possible and preventable risk involved, much like drunk-driving laws are easily defensible in even a libertarian society.
#37
Old 08-11-2004, 12:28 PM
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Location: DC area
Posts: 29,335
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramanujan
basically, i think as long as one can demonstrate that when someone wears a seat belt, there is a decreased chance of harm to others, mandatory seat belt laws are justifiable. laws that prevent someone from harming someone else are always justifiable when the burden placed on the individual is reasonably tailored to the possible and preventable risk involved, much like drunk-driving laws are easily defensible in even a libertarian society.
My husband has a convertible and when I ride in it I occasionally get struck by flying rocks. Usually they are quite small, but it happens.

How often do motorcyclists get hit by rocks, how often are they impaired or distracted by it, and how often would a helmet prevent that? I'm just curious.
#38
Old 08-11-2004, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SentientMeat
Well, here we go again - the moment something is paid for by taxation everyone seemingly wants a say on a case by case basis, from which roads get repaired to which people get to have a baby. The idea of democratically electing a government to govern seems to be curiously old-fashioned in these parts.
I don't think anyone said they personally want to sit in judgement on each and every case. Does not your conception of democratically elected government allow for democratically supported laws?

Quote:
Like I said, anyone can have a seriously disabled child.
I'm not sure this is strictly true. I agree that many disabilities are hard to predict. But the question specifically targets inheritable disabilities. Is it really true that everyone has an equal likelyhood of producing children with these disabilities?

Quote:
Those advocating either 'should not' or 'should not be allowed' seem to be appealing to some notional probabilistic threshold above which the risk is considered too great,
This is closer.

Quote:
This, I feel, is outright discrimination. We might all, through our genes, negligence or outright bad luck, bear and raise a child who is somehow a drain on the state.
But these are not all equally likely, nor do they represent equal amounts of culpability. Are you really saying that treating a person who steals on purpose differently than a person who accidentally shoplifts is discrimination?

Quote:
I might just as well object to your reproduction because your brother went to prison.
Except that prison is not an inheritable condition. So, it clearly does not apply to the question at hand. I understand that this objection was more likely aimed at the "able to provide for" argument (which you may note I did not address). But I think this misses the point of the question. It does not say that we should only allow people to reporduce who can prove they will be capable of providing for the offspring. It simply says that we might want to select against inheritable disabilities.

Quote:
Aye, there's the rub - I would actually advocate some coercive element in asking sufferers of a particularly risky condition to seriously consider embryo screening (or, at least, provide a portion of carrot to go with such a stick.)
Ok, but here you are the one drawing a line at some probabilistic level. Your earlier post seemed to suggest that this is discrimination. Perhaps you were conflating this and the "provide for" argument?

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Just so you can't say that I have forgotten our long running morality debate:
Quote:
It might be that such a policy could reduce the frequency of that condition in future generations, thus reducing suffering in the long run. However, I would counter that the suffering which such a policy would immediately cause to those denied the choice of parenthood would take a heck of a long time to redress, and perhaps would never be compensated for since the genes are still carried by those without such disabilities and thus the condition’s incidence may not actually become that much less frequent.
I thought we were concerned with medically provable / observable suffering as the standard. Now you are saying that denial of the opportunity to parent qualifies? At the expense of demonstrably medical suffering? Do you still not see how suffering is useless standard for building moral systems? Your don't even be able to use it in a consistent fashion, and you've definately come the closest that I've seen.
#39
Old 08-12-2004, 05:40 AM
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Location: Cardiff, EU
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Quote:
Is it really true that everyone has an equal likelyhood of producing children with these disabilities?
I said that anyone can, ie.the probability is non-zero (including the non-zero probability of a screening producing an erroneous response through incompetence). It may well be very small compared to the notional threshold.
Quote:
Are you really saying that treating a person who steals on purpose differently than a person who accidentally shoplifts is discrimination?
I am saying that denying parenthood only to those who already have a disability is discriminatory. Again, I don’t know where you see any espousal of “equal likelihood” in my position.
Quote:
Except that prison is not an inheritable condition.
Predeliction towards criminality may have some inheritable element (at least insofar as parental neglectfulness might also have some), but I agree that this is straying off my point; that targetting only certain people with a “should not (be allowed to) reproduce” is an arbitrary and quasi-eugenic game to play.
Quote:
Ok, but here you are the one drawing a line at some probabilistic level. Your earlier post seemed to suggest that this is discrimination.
Screening embryos is not denying reprodction. As I said in my OP:
Quote:
SentientMeat: We might argue about precisely what constitutes a “serious disability” and whether embryo screening is therefore appropriate, but I would suggest that this is peripheral to debating proposition #31.
Quote:
pervert:I thought we were concerned with medically provable / observable suffering as the standard. Now you are saying that denial of the opportunity to parent qualifies? At the expense of demonstrably medical suffering?
Remember that I classify genuine mental distress as ‘suffering’ also, and that can indeed be proven/observed with reference to neurotransmitter depletion and amygdala/hypothalamus/prefrontal cortex function. (Put simply, my suffering after weeks of sensory deprivatory/psychological torture would be every bit as acute as if you had gone at me with red hot pokers - it would merely need more expensive equipment to ‘measure’ it.) I can easily envisage someone keen to experience the joy of parenthood, having had their dream snatched from them so cruelly and arbitrarily, succumbing to such observable clinical depression - as I said to John, denial of parenthood is not a mere inconvenience, it is a life-changing and possibly life-shattering punishment for a ‘crime’ not yet committed. In medical terms, they might well literally give their right arm for the chance to have a baby.
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Quote:
Do you still not see how suffering is useless standard for building moral systems?
Useless? That, I feel, is an unnecessarily overstated and emotive descriptor. We must all find the morality we think most reasonable given that gray areas are so easily contrived in such a complex consideration.
Quote:
Your don't even be able to use it in a consistent fashion, and you've definately come the closest that I've seen.
Well, I strive for consistency, and note that I am the one who is putting his head above the parapet here - it is so much easier to attack another’s proposal than to defend one’s own, especially in such a hellishly difficult field. Alternative moralities simply seem to me to require some indifference towards suffering which I find abhorrent (although I accept that suffering will never be eradicated and its definition requires some arbitrary threshold to be agreed upon).
#40
Old 08-12-2004, 12:13 PM
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I'm going to take the position of someone who agrees with the proposal. I would like to note, that I do not, in fact, endorse any such proposal. But in the interest of debate, and in order to illuminate what I think are more important principles, I am going to try and take the other side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SentientMeat
I said that anyone can, ie.the probability is non-zero (including the non-zero probability of a screening producing an erroneous response through incompetence). It may well be very small compared to the notional threshold.
[...]
Again, I don’t know where you see any espousal of “equal likelihood” in my position.
Fair enough. You are not saying equal liklihood. But you do seem to be saying that the difference in liklihood is not important enough to warrant treating the situations differently. It seems like you are saying that since preventing known risk factors will not elliminate the risk, that addressing the risk factors is discriminatory. This seems too strong a conclusion.

Quote:
I am saying that denying parenthood only to those who already have a disability is discriminatory.
Right, but I think you are confusing other things in this part of your analysis. The question specifically mentions inheritable disabilities. We are not talking about denying reproduction to those who have been injured in an accident, for instance. But those born with an elevated risk of producing disabled babies are another matter. I think there is something qualitatively different. I'm willing to agree that we would not want to include every disability with any inheritable risk at all.

Quote:
Predeliction towards criminality may have some inheritable element (at least insofar as parental neglectfulness might also have some), but I agree that this is straying off my point; that targetting only certain people with a “should not (be allowed to) reproduce” is an arbitrary and quasi-eugenic game to play.
But surely not in specifically limited cases. If we limit the cases we are discussing to those with serious chances of producing profoundly disabled babies, surely the arbitraryness is significantly reduced.

Think about your medically demostrable suffering standard. No matter what you do, you will not ever come up with a way to measure all suffering that you might consider suffering. Even if you could, you would still have to draw a line somewhere which would entail some form of arbitrariness. This issue is no different. That it "smacks of eugenics" is not a sufficient reason to discount it outright. Some level of disability, some level of inheritable risk, and some level of force could be agreed on, probably by most of us. For instance, if we knew that a particular couple had a 75% chance of producing profoundly disabled offspring you seem to indicate that embryo screening is not out of the question.

However, how would you enforce such screening? How would you prevent this couple from simply going off and reporducing at will? Would you not have to institute more henious controls on an inherently private activity in order to ensure that everyone screened their zygotes? And what would you do with such a couple who managed to evade whatever controls you erected?

Quote:
Screening embryos is not denying reprodction.
As I indicated above, it would, however, require invasive laws to ensure that screening occured. Also, I would argue that sterilization does not deny reproduction except in the biological sense. Anyone so sterilized would still be elligible to adopt, for instance. Unless you want to argue that specific biological reproduction is far and away the most important aspect of parenting vis a vie suffering.

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Just to be clear, I think this part of the discussion is much more interesting. But I don't want to hijack this thread. I'm more than happy to stick to those portions of the "suffering" principle which specifically apply to the question in the OP. Let me know, and I'll let you have the last word on these remaining questions.

Quote:
Remember that I classify genuine mental distress as ‘suffering’ also
Yes, but you always have to include that "genuine" measure in there. The problem with this is that people can genuinely suffer for all sorts of reasons which are not amenable to external remedies or even verification. As I said before, for instance, it is quite possible to imagine a particular psyche which would be so upset by paying high taxes that they might pass your suffering threshold. You suggested that this means they need psycological help.

Quote:
[...]and that can indeed be proven/observed with reference to neurotransmitter depletion and amygdala/hypothalamus/prefrontal cortex function.
Do you have any proof of this?


Quote:
Useless? That, I feel, is an unnecessarily overstated and emotive descriptor. We must all find the morality we think most reasonable given that gray areas are so easily contrived in such a complex consideration.
Agreed. But you wish to raise medically provable suffering to the level of an end in itself. That is to the ultimate arbitor of morallity. Suffereing is not useless in forming a complete moral system. It is, however, useless as a starting point.

Quote:
Well, I strive for consistency, and note that I am the one who is putting his head above the parapet here - it is so much easier to attack another’s proposal than to defend one’s own, especially in such a hellishly difficult field.
Agreed, again. And let me say that you are very very consistent indeed. You are also very brave, erudite, and well spoken about these beliefs. If our discussion could be decided on bravery alone, you would have won long ago.

Quote:
Alternative moralities simply seem to me to require some indifference towards suffering which I find abhorrent (although I accept that suffering will never be eradicated and its definition requires some arbitrary threshold to be agreed upon).
Some do, some don't. I understand entirly your desire to put suffering near the top of any moral system. I agree. I simply think it cannot go above certain other imperitives. Liberty and justice among them.
#41
Old 08-12-2004, 05:31 PM
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Well, perv (if I may be so familiar!), it appears that we are now full square in the debate I suggested was peripheral, which is when embyonic screening is appropriate and what carrots or sticks might be used to encourage the seriously disabled to use it. I had hoped to keep these threads focussed on each specific proposition alone, explore the various positions in order to consider which responses might indicate which final scores, and move on, but if you think it demonstrates some important principle I'm prepared to carry on.
Quote:
It seems like you are saying that since preventing known risk factors will not elliminate the risk, that addressing the risk factors is discriminatory.
The discriminatory nature manifests as, like I said in the OP, targetting only those with the condition itself rather than all of those carrying the genes which produced it. It is this 'double jeopardy' I am concerned with: assessing risk factors is perfectly acceptable so long as nobody is being unfairly picked on while others with similar or even higher risk go unassessed.
Quote:
How would you prevent this couple from simply going off and reporducing at will?
I would not. I would offer vastly more carrot than stick. In fact, the only stick I'm willing to introduce is mandating an appointment with a medical professional to talk through the options and make those risks crystal clear. Should they go against all advice, well, their call.
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I think this part of the discussion is more appropriate in the recent thread Is morality a human construct? where I set out my stall rather more rigorously, but I'll continue here if necesssary.
Quote:
it is quite possible to imagine a particular psyche which would be so upset by paying high taxes that they might pass your suffering threshold. You suggested that this means they need psycological help.
The level of suffering I suggest necessitates psychological help: it would be characterised not by a feeling of annoyance, peevishness or mild upset but by clinically diagnosable stress and depression. This is what I call suffering.
Quote:
Do you have any proof of this?
I have evidence of specific brain activity associated with stress and depression.
Quote:
Suffereing is not useless in forming a complete moral system. It is, however, useless as a starting point.
Well, I am suggesting it is a 'bottom line' and that a good starting point for agreeing the worst when exploring the question "what is the good?".
Quote:
let me say that you are very very consistent indeed. You are also very brave, erudite, and well spoken about these beliefs.
Many thanks, friend. Complements such as those are no less brave.
Quote:
I understand entirly your desire to put suffering near the top of any moral system. I agree. I simply think it cannot go above certain other imperitives. Liberty and justice among them.
Of course, I find those entities (which I note are an altogether more slippery kettle of fish to define and measure in comparison to 'suffering') important also. But I feel that even they can be accomodated into a general 'suffering level', it clearly being perfectly possible to suffer because of a totalitarian and unjust tyranny. We must balance the 'liberty' of eg. paying less tax against the 'suffering' caused by eg. the consequences of removing (or at least cutting large holes in) the social safety net. I personally find it difficult to look upon what I consider genuine human suffering if I think it somehow feasibly preventable.
#42
Old 08-12-2004, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SentientMeat
Well, perv (if I may be so familiar!),
Of course, if you don't mind if I think of myself as pervect?

Quote:
The discriminatory nature manifests as, like I said in the OP, targetting only those with the condition itself rather than all of those carrying the genes which produced it. It is this 'double jeopardy' I am concerned with: assessing risk factors is perfectly acceptable so long as nobody is being unfairly picked on while others with similar or even higher risk go unassessed.
Ooooooooh. That's different. I misread the question. I took the phrase "with inheritable disability" to mean "with the ability to pass on a disability". I see now, you are concerned that a person could have the genes, but not have developed the symptoms. I agree with you entirely. I think this may end our discussion, because it completely invalidates some of what I said. Let's see how the rest fares.

Quote:
In fact, the only stick I'm willing to introduce is mandating an appointment with a medical professional to talk through the options and make those risks crystal clear. Should they go against all advice, well, their call.
Ok, but how do you enforce even this stick? Right now a couple can mate and reproduce without any such consultation. I don't mean they can legally, I mean that they have the physical ability. How would you alter this?

Quote:
I think this part of the discussion is more appropriate in the recent thread Is morality a human construct? where I set out my stall rather more rigorously, but I'll continue here if necesssary.
It is not necessary at all. You are the OP and I am quite willing to defer to your wishes in this thread. I admire very much your willingness to put these threads together. I recognize that I tend to hijack threads. I will refrain from doing so here in deference to your contribution in managing these threads. I'll post a response to that thread instead. I had not noticed your response there. My appologies. And thanks for those links.
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