Stem Cell politics was Re: [extropy-chat] Proposal: was-AChillingThought.

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at
Thu May 19 14:59:17 UTC 2005

From: "Mike Lorrey" <mlorrey at>

> I think theraputic cloning is fine, *for me*. I would be happy to
> help plug it.

Well, your provisional willingness is a start.

But I'm not sure if you understood what I meant by "plug it". I
meant take action in the real world with a view to influencing
and changing policy by influencing and changing the views of
voters and politicians. To be persuasive on an issue like this
that is very controversial you'd have to be or become pretty
knowledgeable so you can share your knowledge with others.
The way to plug therapeutic cloning is not to browbeat people
but to engage them in conversation and to inform them of facts
that they may not currently know and that might once they are
known cause them to re-evaluate their moral positions to take
account of those facts.

Having a good understanding of biotechnology, which is the
interface between the life sciences and commerce could give a
person a good knowledge base from which to educate others.

>I don't think that is the debate here. The debate is whether
> others can be forced at gunpoint to pay for something they
> may not use, will enjoy no profit from the investment, and
> morally regard as manslaughter or murder.

Whether others "can" be, or whether others "ought" be? Are
you making an argument about morality or about capacity?
I suspect that you intend to make a moral argument but I'd
like to be clearer on what you mean.

>If you are going to seek to use the gun of the state to fund your
> research bandwagon, you need to be prepared for those you
> intend to rob to use the same tool to tell you "hell no".

I am not interested in robbing people with a gun I am interested
in persuading them with arguments about public policy.

> If you are not willing to accept those risks and/or outcomes,
> you shouldn't engage in that game. Whining about it is poor
> sportsmanship, to say the least.

Do you think I am whining?

[This next section is about abortion not stem cell politics, I'm
leaving it here so you know where to look for it but if you
want to continue this part of the conversation can you please
separate it from the Stem Cell politics thread and put it in
an abortion thread]

>> >I am entirely fine with aborting a fetus less than,
>> > say, two weeks old. It is incredibly hard for anyone to justify
>> that is
>> > either an individual or with sensory capacity of any sort
>> whatsoever. I
>> > am increasingly less fine as the fetus ages.
>> Okay but you spoke of three entities as having rights to choose, the
>> mother, the father and the child.
>> Up until two weeks is it your view that only the woman should have
>> the right to decide?  In practice I think it would be hard to enforce
>> much else.  The embryo has not brain to have an interest and the
>> male quite possibly might not even know that he was a potential
>> father.
> Up until two weeks, both the father and mother have a right to choose,
> IMHO generally clear of obligations to the fetus. As the fetus gets
> older, both have an increasing obligation to the fetus. While it would
> be hard to enforce if a woman is intent on subterfuge, but such a woman
> is going to have bad relationships to begin with given she is
> untrustworthy and manipulative.

(Aside: I hope that, as a result of checking for yourself  the link that
up until two weeks, (14 days), we are talking about an embryo not a fetus. 
distinction matters because a fetus has far more structure and development
than an embryo.)  Its also very small at less than 0.2 millimetres in 
(see the 17 days example at Stage 6).

By looking at that example I think you can see how Amara must be right
when she said

   " *Some* women know very soon when something has changed in their
    body. Many women do not know, until the next MONTH (at least), that
    they are pregnant. "

>> > This is the real problem. The right to a pursuit of happiness does
>> not include the right to feel pleasant, or even less unpleasant, at the
>> > expense of others rights or existences.
>> I agree that no constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness
>> amounts to that.  But I still don't get what you are referring to
>> as the real problem.
> The real problem is that pro-abortionists base their demands upon their
> 'right to feel less unpleasant', their right to not be inconvenienced
> by a child. Except in cases of rape, the woman and man got into that
> situation in the pursuit of happiness.... you don't get to avoid the
> hangover of your pleasures.

Perhaps *some* pro-abortionists do. If so I would not agree with them
that there is a *right* to feel less unpleasant either. Such a notion of 
would be poorly grounded imo.

>> Do you want to give an unborn independent legal child rights? Perhaps
>> that is not a bad idea, such rights do not need to be the equivalent
>> to the rights of a full citizen, but at what stage of its
>> development?
> I'm not a contractualist like you might be.

Actually I do not think of myself as a contractualist. That is not a term
I can remember hearing before so its not negatively loaded for me, and
it might be an okay one word stereotype of my standpoint.

> I recognise the
> preexistence of a natural right to live that takes on increasing
> prominence with the age of the fetus.

I think rights only arise in a social context.  There would have to be a
God for me to think there were natural rights. Nature isn't an agent.
This doesn't mean that I couldn't agree in a social context to grant
some rights to embryos or other forms of living things like animals etc,
but it does mean that I have to balance the books such that there can
be no rights that are not underwritten in principle by reciprocal
responsibilities accepted.

I wonder to whom a person like you would appeal for the upholding
of a natural right if no one else thought you had that right? Would it
be G/god?  I think that with but one other willing person I can create
rights (and responsibilities) that did not previously exist. This is where
your characterisation of me as a contractualist isn't too bad.

> Is the actual life of the mother more important? Of course it is.


> Is her convenience or career goal more important? Definitely not.

Probably not.

> At what age does the fetus's right to live override the convenience
> or plans of the mother? I am almost positive it doesn't happen at
> two weeks. I know for a fact that it has happened by six months.

Agree and tend to agree. For me what rights the six month fetus
has is a matter of law. But what the law could be in future always
remains a matter of negotiation.

> It is up to honest and objective science, coupled with
> an objective and ethical philosophy, to decide where the hair gets
> split in between those two points, and any grey area should be decided
> on the side of life.

If you take a look at the link I provided I think you'll see that the amount
of development between 2 weeks and 6 months isn't a hair split. Actually
I'm not sure that there is a picture there of a six month old fetus, a 56
day old embryo is the most developed I saw there.


> Honesty and openness with all parties is all I ask. If DNA checking of
> such a young fetus is impossible, and the woman is so promiscuous as to
> not know (i.e. multiple partners per day), it is likely a good choice
> if she chooses to abort early. I doubt her partners are looking for the
> responsibility either.

I respect your desire for honest and openness. But I think you have
to be practical too. It is not possible to have a set of laws or rules
to govern every possible contingency sometimes we have to make
do with guidelines and leave some discretion to the relevant parties
involved.  In fact leaving as much discretion as possible to the relevant
parties involves where there is not very good reason to override
that discretion is a pretty libertarian outlook and I have a lot of
sympathy for that.


> Honesty and openness versus manipulation and skulduggery.

Nice principles. But they don't amount to practical policy.

>> > c) if a man does not want an abortion, and the mother does, she
>> must
>> > either compense him the cost of a surrogate pregnancy, or have the
>> > child, and relenquish it to the father in exchange for fair expense
>> for
>> > the term of pregnancy. When the father pays the bills, the mother
>> > permanently relenquishes all rights and obligations.
>> The principle is not unreasonable but to implement it would be
>> complicated as the womans health is intimately linked to the health
>> of the unborn child or fetus.
> Quite so. This would obviously be solved when a fetus can be
> transferred to the male...

I'm not touching that.

[This section seems to be about your views on tax, and why you
shouldn't have to pay it, and what the various organs of the state
are.   This also should be a separate thread ]

>> You seem to be equating taxing you with the crime of theft.  You are
>> calling the state "criminals and accessories to death", but "the
>> state" makes the law.  The state is not just the executive
>> government.
> You are right, it is the legislature that ignores the will of the
> people and authorizes the theft, it is the courts that legislate from
> the bench to fit their own agendas, and it is the Constitution that all
> three ignore as much as they are permitted to get away with by the
> citizenry.

I don't buy this. I don't know that you know what the real role of
the judiciary is. Its not obvious that you do from what you say

>   Let us look at a few things in that document:
> Article 1 Section 9:
> "No Capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid unless in proportion
> to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

Okay, I'll take your word for this much.

> The Federal gov't can't constitutionally issue a tax bill to a citizen
> directly, they must always collect from the states, or through
> corporate person enterprises in direct federal jurisdiction (in federal
> territories or engaged in international trade). They must tax
> 'sources', which, given the next section, can only be on federal
> territories, or american owned enterprises or investments in foreign
> lands, or foreigners doing business in the several states.

This sound like you giving a legal opinon. Why should I trust that
your legal opinion is sound?

> "No tax or duty shall be levied on articles exported from any state."


> This means the $200 transfer tax on my machine gun is unconstitutional,
> federal and state cigarette duties are illegal, alcohol duties are
> illegal (if these are produced in one of the several states), gas taxes
> are illegal on gas refined in the US.

Again this is you giving legal opinion. It does not necessarily follow
from the material you show me.

> You might say, "ah, the 16th Amendment changed that". Wrong,
> the SCOTUS has ruled that the 16th created no new tax or tax
>  power/authority.
> I, a private sovereign citizen domiciled in my freehold in one of the
> several states, doing no business for gain in a federal territory or
> foreign nation, do not have 'income'. I do earn a living. You figure
> out the difference.
> Mike Lorrey

It would be crazy for me to take on blind faith that your legal opinions
are valid Mike without doing a lot of work to check them out.

Its possible that some of the terms you use like "sovereign", "domiciled"
"income", "sources" just to name a few have special meaning within
the legal structure you are operating in and that you don't have the
legal skills to tease out that special meaning.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not a lawyer either. I think it is
good that you try to understand what legal documents mean but if
you are going to try and persuade me using them you'll have to
have either a lot of skill to excerpt the right bits or you'll have to
find a strong reason for me to care enough to do the research

Is it possible that you are being taxed in a manner that is not
constitutional? For all I know it is possible. Is it likely? No.

More to the point even if you are being taxed under laws
that are invalid what would be the political consequences of
succeeding in making that case in the relevant court? Wouldn't
it be that the laws or the constitution would just be changed?

Brett Paatsch

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