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Unspeakable Conversations - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Feb. 15th, 2003

02:35 pm - Unspeakable Conversations

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From:crasch
Date:February 15th, 2003 02:29 pm (UTC)
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Physical health/ability !=mental health/ability, and it's unwise to make decisions of such magnitude based upon so shallow a criteria.


I'm not sure what I think about this issue. I'm still mulling it over. However, here's some questions I'm considering?

Healthy babies are frequently aborted for economic reasons. Why not for birth defects?

Wouldn't the appropriate comparison be between a world with Stephen Hawking and a world with the child Hawking's parents would've had, had they not had Stephen? Maybe that child would've been as bright as Hawking, but uncrippled, and therefore even more productive than Hawking as been.

Raising even a healhty child is exhausting and time-consuming. How many Hawkings were never born because their would-be parents were too exhausted caring for a child who, at best, would eventually be potty trained and count to three? How many Hawkings were born, but never had the opportunity to demonstrate their potential because their parents were too debt-ridden after paying for a disabled sibling's medical care?

What percentage of the disabled population are like Hawking and the attorney, and are on net, productive? How many are wards of the state?
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From:selfishgene
Date:February 16th, 2003 08:11 am (UTC)
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The real problem, as so often happens, is collectivist decision making. A specific parent (or pair of parents) should make their own decision on whether they wish to support a child. Some parents may want to put the child to death, and others will choose to nurture their child regardless of defect. It is not the business of the state to compel them to kill the child, nor to compel them to nurture the child, nor even to compel them to hand over the child for nurturing by others if the parents wish to kill it.
It is an enormous commitment to raise a child. To raise a child who will require extreme medical care, parental attention and who might NEVER be self sufficient is a very great commitment indeed. Who has more right to judge the pains and costs and benefits and love than the parents? Should state employees and academics and lawyers make this decision for them?
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From:ernunnos
Date:February 17th, 2003 06:49 am (UTC)
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Who has more right to judge the pains and costs and benefits and love than the parents?
Given your user name you should realize the flaw in this argument.

To raise a child who will require extreme medical care, parental attention and who might NEVER be self sufficient is a very great commitment indeed.
And no parent of a child who requires extreme medical care makes that commitment. They all demand the support of the collective. When the collective gets involved, the collective gets a say.
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From:selfishgene
Date:February 17th, 2003 04:05 pm (UTC)
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'Given your user name you should realize the flaw in this argument.'
- If by this comment you mean the parents will make a selfish decision, that is exactly what I want them to do. If you meant something else, please explain.
'When the collective gets involved, the collective gets a say'
- If the parents seek assistance from state or church or extended family then those entities can claim some say in the decision. Parents who are not asking for assistance should make their own decision.
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From:ernunnos
Date:February 18th, 2003 07:37 pm (UTC)
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If by this comment you mean the parents will make a selfish decision, that is exactly what I want them to do.
Parents should be responsible, not selfish.
Parents who are not asking for assistance should make their own decision.
Two problems with that.
  1. Parents are making decisions for another person. It is not just their decision to make.
  2. Parents of severely handicapped children who do not ask for assistance are so rare as to be non-existent.
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From:selfishgene
Date:February 19th, 2003 03:59 am (UTC)
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People have children for selfish reasons. Nobody ever asked a sperm cell and an ovum whether they wished to be united. When a child is born the parents have to support it financially, physically and emotionally for more than a decade (in the US, over 2 decades). They have every right to say we refuse this burden, especially if the child is seriously deformed. (The usurpation of parental rights by the state in the name of the child is just another statist power grab.)
The child is not in a position to make a decision nor can it support it's decision in any way since it is completely dependant on the parents for everything except oxygen.
Parents of handicapped children do usually ask for support but this would be irrelevant if it was legal to kill the child and they then chose to do so.
The whole notion that an infant has rights is derived from the religious position that it has a soul. Economically and politically it makes no sense to say an infant has rights since it has no power to even ask for it's rights, let alone defend them.
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From:pbrane
Date:February 16th, 2003 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Wouldn't the appropriate comparison be between a world with Stephen Hawking and a world with the child Hawking's parents would've had, had they not had Stephen? Maybe that child would've been as bright as Hawking, but uncrippled, and therefore even more productive than Hawking as been.

This is an interesting comparison - but if you read interviews with Prof. Hawking himself, you'll see that he feels that he would never have actually accomplished what he has if it were not for his ALS: in college, he was the prototypical slacker-nerd, more likely to drink 4 or 5 pints on a monday night then study, and barely convinced his graduation committee to give him a first-class diploma (undergrad - he got it by threatening to stay there for his PhD work, knowing fully well that they knew he was really sharp and should broaden his horizons, and thus they caved and gave him the first, instead of second, so he'd leave).

But when he was diagnosed with ALS and came to be able to see the harsh reality of what would happen (that he most likely would only live another few years [little did they know at the time that he'd still be alive in 3 decades]), and he specifically chose a subfield of theoretical physics in which he could do mostly in his head (GR, with all it's geometrical foundation, instead of QFT, which is more algebraic computation heavy), and threw himself into it completely, with *far* more vigor than he would have had he been still able to party and chase girls, for he thought that if he didn't make his mark soon, he'd never have amounted to much.

And if he'd not had ALS, he might not have. He may have had "more fun", but what is "fun" really? It seems his life has been more *rewarding* (both to himself, and to the world at large) disabled than it would have been not.
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