Kinsella Wants To License Breeding

Kinsella thinks a guy should be banned from breeding for failure to pay child support. (*) Kinsella gets it wrong, but there are parts of his argument that I’m sympathetic with:

If you pass by a drowning man in a lake you have no enforceable (legal) obligation to try to rescue him, nor should you; but if you push someone in a lake you have a positive obligation to try to rescue them. If you don’t you could be liable for homicide. Likewise, if your voluntary actions bring into being a baby with natural needs for shelter, food, care, it’s akin to throwing someone into a lake. In both cases you create a situation where another human is in dire need of help and without he will die. By creating this situation you incur an obligation to provide for those needs.

By this argument Kinsella and I would probably agree that abortion is morally indefensible. But I hold that full responsibility for the child must be recognized where nature bestows the child. Consent to sex is not a contract to raise children together. Consent to sex neither commits a man to providing for a woman’s child nor commits the woman to allowing that man in her child’s life.

As Lynette has written:

Children are born as the consequence of a series of deliberate and cognitive decisions that only their mothers make, such as 1) Will I have sex? 2) Will I use birth control? 3) Will I carry this child to term? 4) Will I elect to keep this child rather than to adopt it out?

Those are each questions that take considerable thought and deliberate action to implement over the course of time. However, if potential mothers would face up to just one question, it would solve almost all custody and support issues existing today. It’s a question which has been so far relegated into the background that it’s hardly ever featured in these sorts of discussions, but it’s what women need to put the most emphasis on.

Is this man worthy of fathering my children?

It’s only in recent times that the above question of utmost importance has been driven into obscurity by the perversity of a statist system that inevitably awards the most irresponsible behaviors. Throughout the ages, women have realized the importance of being selective about the men with whom they breed and have recognized that they are ultimately responsible for the care and upbringing of their children, but the burgeoning nanny state vigorously selects for numb-cunted felon factories who siphon the public dole, it encourages good for nothing ex-wife princesses to use their crotchfuit as an excuse to soak their ex-husbands for a 20 year meal ticket and it has muddled the heads of the masses into thinking that some external force must always ride to the rescue of any bedraggled madonna who ends up in the cold with her sprog because of dismally poor choices on her own part.

It’s clear to me that women are, by nature, 100% responsible for the children they bear. If the prospect of having children is such a burden to them, if they cannot shoulder that responsibility on their own, it’s imperative that they use special care and caution in the selection of a mate and/or get a signed contract addressing the duties of each parent toward their children and each other if needs be.

By imposing legal consequences on this man Kinsella would actually be shielding women from the costs of their own bad judgment, which of course will never encourage them to employ better judgment. In a free society individuals bear the costs of their own decisions. It’s a biological fact that the natural consequences and costs of reproduction are not symmetrical for men and women. Any attempt to shift those costs is misguided social engineering.

Even though I hold mothers morally responsible for providing for their children I would never invite the state to regulate reproduction, as Kinsella has. If Kinsella individually wants to protect a child from its unfit mother then perhaps he may morally do so, but collectivist regulation of reproduction is a nightmare scenario.


(*) – Here I had written: ” (By the way Stephan, it would be polite to link to us when you refer to us directly as chattering punks, or at least to your earlier chattering punk piece. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at LRC has had a few words with you about linking to NT, but I assume you could still do it on your own blog.)”

I stand corrected; Kinsella has informed me that no one discouraged him from linking to No Treason. He has now linked his reference to No Treason, which I appreciate and for which I thank him.

111 thoughts on “Kinsella Wants To License Breeding”

  1. It’s not that the man and woman have contracted to raise a child together, it’s that the mother and the father have equal duties to provide for the child until the child is capable of self-provision. Whether they choose to do that together or not is their choice, but the father has as much duty to the child as the mother.

  2. Joshua,.

    “Whether they choose to do that together or not is their choice, but the father has as much duty to the child as the mother.”

    And if the mother and father disagree about who should raise the child?

  3. And if the mother and father disagree about who should raise the child?

    Courts of Chancery deal with competing claims of right. They can (and do) form some sort of equitable decision. I don’t see any reason to think that the mother automatically has a greater duty to the child than the father, although the closer physical bond between mother and child than between the father and child can serve as a principal to inform a decision.

  4. Stephan Kinsella: state should also license fornication and permit it only if one of them is gainfully employed. This is only for hetero, homos don’t have babies.”

    Have you changed your mind about that being “over the line,” Stephan? I think you’re just being silly for the sake of it, now.

  5. Kinsella also mentioned “fornication” on another thread. Typically I only hear religious-types use that sort of language–it sounds like Kinsella isn’t very comfortable with the large amount of unregulated, unsupervised sex that goes on in the US these days.

    If so, the following off-the-cuff calculation should make Kinsella somewhat nervous:

    http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Studios/7605/anymin.html

  6. “As a sidenote, if someone has refused to fulfill their duties, is it wrong to prevent them from acquiring others?”

    Usually yes, since usually such duties are only acquired by contract between consenting parties. Possibly one could make the argument that it is not in some cases where such obligations arise out of unilateral choice, but even in those cases there’s no justification for making this the subject of collectivist policy.

  7. From another Kinsella-themed thread…

    Did I say I concluded that? I’m simply pointing out why we libertarians are interested not in “harm” but in aggression. I.e., my point is really, we should not even discuss harm *qua libertarians*, any more than we should debate qua libertarians what kind of toothpaste to use.

    Yet suddently Kinsella feels like discussing non-coercive harm in this thread…

    I also differ from most libertarians in believing that by creating a child you incur enforceable obligations to the child, such as child support, etc.

    Since this is a libertarian thread, allow me to interpret this remark in context: You are advocating initiating force against, say, deadbeat dads for refusing to fulfill their supposed “duty” to their offspring?

    To hell with hedonistic, libertine, atomistic, non-reality-based libertarianism if it robotically monotones that the child has no rights.

    Interesting that you characterize libertarianism as “hedonistic”. As for robotic intonations, the people on this blog aren’t in general the super-irrational hatemongers you make them out to be; most, like JTK, seem to want what Lopez wanted out of you: A statement indicating you acknowledge your position is inconsistent with libertarianism or else a revision of the statement, or of your belief in libertarianism.

  8. Usually yes, since usually such duties are only acquired by contract between consenting parties. Possibly one could make the argument that it is not in some cases where such obligations arise out of unilateral choice, but even in those cases there’s no justification for making this the subject of collectivist policy.

    I don’t entirely understand the first clause of your second sentence.

    I definitely don’t support state licencing of parenting, but I think in situations where parents continuously shirk their duty to provide for their children, it’s just to prevent them from having more. Fulfill the duties you have first before you acquire more.

  9. “No one had a word with me you conspiracy minded fool. Okay , I added the link, happy?”

    Thanks Stephan. I was just guessing, based on the fact that LRC bloggers from Lew on down have referred to No Treason without linking.

  10. I don’t see any reason to think that the mother automatically has a greater duty to the child than the father

    I gave several reasons in the piece that Kennedy quoted.

    Courts of Chancery deal with competing claims of right.

    Weighting rights and responsibilities where nature bestows them- with the mother- is no small part of the basis of a responsible society. It is certainly the cornerstone of the marriage market. In a truly free market the caveat applies, “let the buyer beware,” just as it applies in the market of choosing a mate.

    If, upon their overall evaluation of one another, the couple desires more concrete assurances of the conditions of mating and the prospect of parenthood, then they can enter into an explicit contract, but the bottom line is that if it’s important to a woman to receive assistance or a partnership in raising a child, it’s incumbent upon her to take due care and caution in selecting a mate who will accomodate her in that endeavor. Likewise, if a man wants equal say in matters of custody he needs to select a mate who agrees with him.

  11. “Since this is a libertarian thread, allow me to interpret this remark in context: You are advocating initiating force against, say, deadbeat dads for refusing to fulfill their supposed “duty” to their offspring?”

    Sure. But in most cases it’s futile. For example I think there is a duty to love and care for and shelter, educate, etc. your kids. But some things can’t be forced.

    Still, I don’t oppose forcing parents to financially support a child; realistically that’s all that’s practical and worth doing.

    Andy: “Stephan Kinsella: state should also license fornication and permit it only if one of them is gainfully employed. This is only for hetero, homos don’t have babies.”

    Have you changed your mind about that being “over the line,” Stephan? I think you’re just being silly for the sake of it, now.”

    Yeah, hyperbole.

    stefan: “Kinsella also mentioned “fornication” on another thread. Typically I only hear religious-types use that sort of language–it sounds like Kinsella isn’t very comfortable with the large amount of unregulated, unsupervised sex that goes on in the US these days.”

    An am atheist secularist dude. I just think it’s not for kiddies or unemployed people, since it can have consequences (emotional, physical, procreative) that those people are not ready for. It’s just not responsible. This is outside libertarianism proper, I grant you; but since I am obviously the heir apparent to Mr. Libertarian (Rothbard), my views on these subjects are of general interest. Hence I cast these crumbs down before you, in my magnanimity.

  12. But, of course, were there already a law against people without jobs having babies, it would be perfectly libertarian to oppose repeal of that law, as doing so would doubtless result in higher taxes eventually. Right?

  13. If Americans were charged $1 million per family for breeding licenses wouldn’t that encourage a better class of parents?

    I mention this of course because it’s Kinsalla’s prescription for immigration.

  14. Stephan

    Banning this guy from having more kids amounts to a pre-emptive strike on behalf of possible future victims. It’s commonly asserted on LRC that pre-emptive attacks constitute aggression. Do you disagree with your fellow bloggers on that?

  15. Well I’m pretty sure Kinsella’s position on breeding is not compatible with Rockwell’s, even though his position on immigration is. And Kinsella is the one who is more consistent across the two issues, more consistently collectivist.

  16. It’s commonly asserted on LRC that pre-emptive attacks constitute aggression. Do you disagree with your fellow bloggers on that?

    I haven’t read LRC much, so I don’t know how much they like Objectivists…but just for the record I think Rand said preemptive strikes are OK because basically “the specific time” or something of the initiation of force isn’t really important compared to defending yourself against aggression. Looking at some examples of preemptive (military) strikes, it seems the context of her remark is one where two countries are continually harassing each other–e.g. Israel invading Lebanon as “an act of self-defense”–so that, in effect, talking about “preemptive” doesn’t apply because the parties are already de facto at war. If there is no previous harrassment, then “preemptive strike” would seem to be just a synonym for “aggression”.

  17. “It’s commonly asserted on LRC that pre-emptive attacks constitute aggression. Do you disagree with your fellow bloggers on that?”

    Yes. I have already said I have no problem with treating standing threats or stalking as a crime. That does not mean I agree w/ a preemptive strike by a state against another, tha’ts a diff matter.

    Consider: IF somehow you had known Hilter as a baby would be Hitler as adult, woult it be unlibertarian to kill him? IF you knew some 18 year old would of certainty in 1 year rape and kill your wife, and your only chance to stop him was now, would it be unlibertarian to do so? I say no, of course not. But you can’t know. We don’t live in Minority Report world.

  18. “…it sounds like Kinsella isn’t very comfortable with the large amount of unregulated, unsupervised sex that goes on in the US these days. “

    I agree with Kinsella 100% and propose that we solve this vicious problem by appointing me supervisor of all intimate activities. As Grand Sinquisitor, I of course will only be required to monitor such interactions between people that are considered attractive. As for the rest of society (the uglies), the loathesome Sabotta seems disturbed enough to handle the task. I just hope he has the decency to avert his eyes when my parents are at it.

  19. Stephan,

    “Yes. I have already said I have no problem with treating standing threats or stalking as a crime.”

    Fair enough, neither do I.

    “That does not mean I agree w/ a preemptive strike by a state against another, tha’ts a diff matter.”

    Why would you favor pre-emptive strikes by the state against individuals but not against other states?

    “Consider: IF somehow you had known Hilter as a baby would be Hitler as adult, woult it be unlibertarian to kill him?”

    That’s not a coherent possibility. You couldn’t know what the future held if there were alternate possible futures. So no, I wouldn’t kill the baby Hitler.

    ” IF you knew some 18 year old would of certainty in 1 year rape and kill your wife, …”

    Then it would happen and libertarianism would be moot along with my preferences.

  20. I agree with Kinsella 100% and propose that we solve this vicious problem by appointing me supervisor of all intimate activities.

    Proposal accepted, but only if I get to be Noble Second to the Grand Inquisitor.

  21. Stephen Kinsella quoting me: Aaaaaaron: “”…it sounds like Kinsella isn’t very comfortable with the large amount of unregulated, unsupervised sex that goes on in the US these days. “

    Using the scroll bar, you will discern that the comment was mine, not Aaaaaaron’s.

    Okay, here’s where common sense leaves libertarians (if I understand Venlet’s convoluted prose). The man is responsible. The woman is responsible. They both are responsible to the kid.

    Why is the man responsible? Because you want him to? Because his sperm was “his property”? If a child is a piece of property, then there is a strong prima facie case that it belongs to the mother, not the father. If it is not property, the question doesn’t seem to have much meaning.

    Maybe, but you can’t eviscerate the kid’s rights to support by both parents in the name of trying to engineer some kind of incentive for mothers.

    Since Kennedy is a deontologist, I doubt he was trying to be rigorous…however, some of your postings indicate that YOU are a consequentialist, so it would then behoove you to show us the bad consequences that are avoided by initiating force against peaceful folks.

    Another simple question: Exactly how old does the kid have to be before his “right” to parental support no longer exists?

  22. Venlet,

    Right. Now it’s gonna be tough for me to generate much respect for a guy who sires children without concern for how they will be cared for. And If Kinsella wants to shun someone on that basis I may join him. But women must be the gatekeepers, their greater natural investment gives them a greater natural interest in the children the bear.

    As usual, social engineering exacerbates the problem it was designed to fix. To shield women from the costs of picking losers as sex partners encourages them to pick more losers, producing more unfortunate children, not less.

  23. John T. Kennedy

    “By imposing legal consequences on this man Kinsella would actually be shielding women from the costs of their own bad judgment, which of course will never encourage them to employ better judgment. In a free society individuals bear the costs of their own decisions. It’s a biological fact that the natural consequences and costs of reproduction are not symmetrical for men and women. Any attempt to shift those costs is misguided social engineering.”

    Lynette Warren

    “It’s clear to me that women are, by nature, 100% responsible for the children they bear. If the prospect of having children is such a burden to them, if they cannot shoulder that responsibility on their own, it’s imperative that they use special care and caution in the selection of a mate and/or get a signed contract addressing the duties of each parent toward their children and each other if needs be.”

    Read those two quotes, above, again, and consider, thoughtfully, what is stated. Lynette stated it more clearly, “…women are, by nature, 100% responsible…”

    Arguing that women are less than 100% responsible, is arguing that women, when they have sex with a man, are willingly conceding responsibility for their body, to the male individual who happens to be mounting them at that time. Is that the idea one desires to be promoted? A continuation of the woman is a victim culture?

  24. “To hell with hedonistic, libertine, atomistic, non-reality-based libertarianism…”

    …Says the man who can’t even answer simple questions.

    Yeah. Nice grip on “reality” you’ve got there, Kinsella.

  25. “Since this is a libertarian thread, allow me to interpret this remark in context: You are advocating initiating force against, say, deadbeat dads for refusing to fulfill their supposed “duty” to their offspring?”

    Sure. But in most cases it’s futile. For example I think there is a duty to love and care for and shelter, educate, etc. your kids. But some things can’t be forced.

    Someone on here mentioned that any argument that calls for the continued existence of the state is invalid. Hate to break the bad news to you Kinsella…

    Still, I don’t oppose forcing parents to financially support a child; realistically that’s all that’s practical and worth doing.

    I hope this isn’t a recurrence of the chickenhawk/postive-negative rights debate we’ve been having with Micha lately. Just to be clear, you advocate initiation of force against peaceful (albeit negligent and unpraiseworthy) folk?

  26. Pete: “This shit is all a joke to Kinsella. He gets off on you guys getting all uppity about it.”

    Hey Pete, don’t cock block me.

    Aaaaaaron: “”…it sounds like Kinsella isn’t very comfortable with the large amount of unregulated, unsupervised sex that goes on in the US these days. ”

    “I agree with Kinsella 100% and propose that we solve this vicious problem by appointing me supervisor of all intimate activities. As Grand Sinquisitor, I of course will only be required to monitor such interactions between people that are considered attractive.”

    Aaaaron, I am sorry but your extra-a is too annoying. http://tinyurl.com/56qsr Not your fault I know, but still. So you are out of the running.

    President Kennedy: >”That does not mean I agree w/ a preemptive strike by a state against another, tha’ts a diff matter.”

    Why would you favor pre-emptive strikes by the state against individuals but not against other states?<

    I didn’t say I did favor it. I favor private preemptive strikes against private criminals. But a preemptive strike by a state against a criminal does not necessarily violate anyone’s rights. A state striking another state does, b/c of collateral damage.

    >”Consider: IF somehow you had known Hilter as a baby would be Hitler as adult, woult it be unlibertarian to kill him?”

    That’s not a coherent possibility. You couldn’t know what the future held if there were alternate possible futures. So no, I wouldn’t kill the baby Hitler.<

    I agree it’s not possible, but your last sentence “fights the hypo”. Tut tut.

    >” IF you knew some 18 year old would of certainty in 1 year rape and kill your wife, …”

    Then it would happen and libertarianism would be moot along with my preferences.<

    Libertarianism would not be moot.

    Venlet: Read those two quotes, above, again, and consider, thoughtfully, what is stated. Lynette stated it more clearly, “…women are, by nature, 100% responsible…”

    >Arguing that women are less than 100% responsible, is arguing that women, when they have sex with a man, are willingly conceding responsibility for their body, to the male individual who happens to be mounting them at that time. Is that the idea one desires to be promoted? A continuation of the woman is a victim culture?<

    Okay, here’s where common sense leaves libertarians (if I understand Venlet’s convoluted prose). The man is responsible. The woman is responsible. They both are responsible to the kid. The man is responsible but has few rights. The mother has more rights. Just the way it is. Tough crap, whining fornicating men. The baby has paramount rights. To be clear: even if the mom and dad are equally responsible, the mom usually has the right of custody, and the man has child support obligations even though he has no right of custody and even though he has no right to decide on an abortion, even if the woman has the baby and keeps it against the man’s demands for abortion or adoption. If the mother decides to keep it the man is still on the hook.

    The baby matters, not the irresponsible parents.

    Lopez: “To hell with hedonistic, libertine, atomistic, non-reality-based libertarianism…”
    …Says the man who can’t even answer simple questions.
    Yeah. Nice grip on “reality” you’ve got there, Kinsella.”

    Grip on this, Lopez.

    Kennedy: “Now it’s gonna be tough for me to generate much respect for a guy who sires children without concern for how they will be cared for. And If Kinsella wants to shun someone on that basis I may join him.”

    Why thank you Senator.

    “But women must be the gatekeepers, their greater natural investment gives them a greater natural interest in the children the bear.”

    Of course. But that does not let the stud off the hook.

    “As usual, social engineering exacerbates the problem it was designed to fix. To shield women from the costs of picking losers as sex partners encourages them to pick more losers, producing more unfortunate children, not less.”

    Maybe, but you can’t eviscerate the kid’s rights to support by both parents in the name of trying to engineer some kind of incentive for mothers.

  27. Stefan: “Kinsella: Okay, here’s where common sense leaves libertarians (if I understand Venlet’s convoluted prose). The man is responsible. The woman is responsible. They both are responsible to the kid.

    “Why is the man responsible?”

    Because he caused the child to come into existence.

    “Because you want him to? Because his sperm was “his property”? If a child is a piece of property, then there is a strong prima facie case that it belongs to the mother, not the father. If it is not property, the question doesn’t seem to have much meaning.”

    He caused the child to exist. The child has needs. He has to be responsible for it. So does the mom. Just like, if two guys rob a bank they are jointly liable.

    >Kinsella: Maybe, but you can’t eviscerate the kid’s rights to support by both parents in the name of trying to engineer some kind of incentive for mothers.

    >Since Kennedy is a deontologist, I doubt he was trying to be rigorous…however, some of your postings indicate that YOU are a consequentialist, so it would then behoove you to show us the bad consequences that are avoided by initiating force against peaceful folks.<

    Maybe it would, but I have steadfastly avoided being behooved for all my 39 years and don’t intend to change now.

    >Another simple question: Exactly how old does the kid have to be before his “right” to parental support no longer exists?<

    23. Unless he’s retarded or something, in which case, forever.

    Next question!

  28. Stefan: “Kinsella: Okay, here’s where common sense leaves libertarians (if I understand Venlet’s convoluted prose). The man is responsible. The woman is responsible. They both are responsible to the kid.

    “Why is the man responsible?”

    Because he caused the child to come into existence.

    I thought according to libertarian theory you can only incur enforceable duties through contract and the like…how exactly did I sign away a piece of my income to the Kinsella Child Funds Collection Service when I stayed over at my girlfriend’s place last night?

    >Another simple question: Exactly how old does the kid have to be before his “right” to parental support no longer exists?<

    23. Unless he’s retarded or something, in which case, forever.

    Next question!

    Oh well, at least Lopez can’t get you for being evasive on this one, at least. I’ll tell my A-rab friend (who’s got 1 year left) to notify the Kinsella Collection Service, since he’s fallen on hard times lately, what with helping out his girlfriend and living with all these job-stealing immigrants and all.

  29. Stefanski: “I thought according to libertarian theory you can only incur enforceable duties through contract and the like…how exactly did I sign away a piece of my income to the Kinsella Child Funds Collection Service when I stayed over at my girlfriend’s place last night?”

    Why did you think this?

    If you injure someone you incur an obligation, no? yet there was no contract. If you push someone in a lake you have to rescue them. It is actions that incur obligations. One type of such action is a contract, others are doing things that injure others. Etc.

    Next question!

  30. {H-E-L-P — shhh — this is Stephan–the real Stephan, the younger, more idealistic, principled libertarian one… I’m trapped in the body of this cynical, aging, smart ass dude who has taken over and corrupted me… help …. helpppp let ME OUT!!!}

  31. How would you justly go about forcefully preventing people from having children?

    There are a couple of ways:

    1. Forced time apart – there could be an injunction against being in the same region as one another. You could also accomplish this by imprisoning one or both parents, considering they’ve already committed neglect against their children.

    2. Compulsory abortion – definitely not my preference (I’m pro-life).

    3. Appointment of legal guardian to take possession of child upon birth

  32. “Maybe, but you can’t eviscerate the kid’s rights to support by both parents in the name of trying to engineer some kind of incentive for mothers.”

    It’s not necessary to engineer an incentive for mothers to choose good mates, they naturally have great incentive to do so in a free market for reproduction, which is what Lynette and I have advocated here.

    You on the other hand are championing a collectivist eugenics project.

  33. Kennedy: NSK: “Maybe, but you can’t eviscerate the kid’s rights to support by both parents in the name of trying to engineer some kind of incentive for mothers.”

    “It’s not necessary to engineer an incentive for mothers to choose good mates, they naturally have great incentive to do so in a free market for reproduction, which is what Lynette and I have advocated here.”

    I agree. But the child has a claim for support against the father too.

    “You on the other hand are championing a collectivist eugenics project.”

    No, I’m not. I’m really only advocating that fathers have an obligation to pay child support.

  34. Venlet: “Stephan – though my prose may be convoluted, I do not think I stated that the man is responsible. With that said, and I speak for myself here, if I impregnated a woman, I would honor my own self imposed responsibility to the resulting child. Don’t send the state knocking at my door for responsibilities I am capable of assuming for myself.”

    Well, the issue arises when people are not responsible. In my view the child has a legally enforceable right to child support from both parents. Deadbeat dads should be treated as if they owe money to the kid. If he refuses to pay, it can be taken from him by force.

    Whether we are talking about a private, anarchist society or the current system is an uninteresting detail.

    In anarchy, the question is what uses of force would a libertarian-minded, justice-seeking jury tend to believe is justified. I believe most would think force necessary to take property from a deadbeat dad to help support his offspring is justified. I do.

    Stefan: “Kinsella: If you injure someone you incur an obligation, no? yet there was no contract. If you push someone in a lake you have to rescue them. It is actions that incur obligations. One type of such action is a contract, others are doing things that injure others. Etc.

    “Well since this is a libertarian thread I thought we were talking about enforceable duties, not personal vices. Probably lots of folks here agree you have a duty to support your offspring, and that to do otherwise would be a personal vice…the ambiguity arises when you say “enforceable duties”, i.e. when you seem to be saying it’s OK to coerce parents into providing for their children in whatever manner the Kinsella Collection Agency determines is best. So yes, there is such a moral duty…but you have to prove why aggression against non-violent people can be justified if it is to _force_ that duty to be carried out.”

    I gave the anlogy in my original LRC post that spawned this thread, to pushing someone in a lake, giving rise to a duty to rescue. I generalize the underlying principle as creating a situation where someone has natural needs, giving rise to a duty on the creator relative to those needs. If you generate a child that is dependent by nature, of course you have the obligation to support that child. Who else does? If anyone has the obligation, it’s the parents, as the creators; if no one has the obligation, it means the child in principle could be left to starve at the discretion of the parents. AS a libertarian who focuses on innocent victims instead of hedonistic, pleasure-seeking libertines who want no consequences for their rutting around, I prefer to favor the child. If you prefer to favor the stud, that’s your perogative, but I know how I would vote on a jury and i suspect most fellow libertarian anarchists in libertopia would join me.

    Orange Julius: “Stephan K: But where sex is consensual and the woman knows the risks of pregnancy, what is the legal source of a duty to support the child? I can’t see it myself. If I consent to being pushed in a lake, then absent a contact, I have no legal claim to be rescued.”

    True, but if you didn’t consent, you do; and the child does not consent to being created, of course.

    >That being so, your argument must be based not on the existence of a legal duty to support (of which there is none, absent marriage), but on the tax consequences of having men going around siring children who will then be raised at the expense of taxpayers.<

    NO, that is a secondary argument only. Even in anarcho-capitalism I believe there is a legally enforceable duty.

    >The trouble with this is that it would apply to all behaviour that has a tendency to impose burdens on taxpayers – i.e. almost everything, given the extensive scope of the modern State. For example, if it were the case that smokers were a net burden on the State (a big “if” I admit), then by your logic you would have to ban smoking (or maybe sue the tobacco companies for the welfare/State health costs of smoking?). You would end up endorsing all the kind of stuff that the health nazis are so keen on. <

    True,a nd this is yet another problem with the welfare state, that it pits man against man; it makes us natural enemies.

  35. Stephan K:

    “If you injure someone you incur an obligation, no? yet there was no contract. If you push someone in a lake you have to rescue them. It is actions that incur obligations. One type of such action is a contract, others are doing things that injure others. Etc.”

    All true. But where sex is consensual and the woman knows the risks of pregnancy, what is the legal source of a duty to support the child? I can’t see it myself. If I consent to being pushed in a lake, then absent a contact, I have no legal claim to be rescued.

    That being so, your argument must be based not on the existence of a legal duty to support (of which there is none, absent marriage), but on the tax consequences of having men going around siring children who will then be raised at the expense of taxpayers.

    The trouble with this is that it would apply to all behaviour that has a tendency to impose burdens on taxpayers – i.e. almost everything, given the extensive scope of the modern State. For example, if it were the case that smokers were a net burden on the State (a big “if” I admit), then by your logic you would have to ban smoking (or maybe sue the tobacco companies for the welfare/State health costs of smoking?). You would end up endorsing all the kind of stuff that the health nazis are so keen on.

  36. Stephan – though my prose may be convoluted, I do not think I stated that the man is responsible. With that said, and I speak for myself here, if I impregnated a woman, I would honor my own self imposed responsibility to the resulting child. Don’t send the state knocking at my door for responsibilities I am capable of assuming for myself.

  37. Joshua Holmes wrote:
    I definitely don’t support state licencing of parenting, but I think in situations where parents continuously shirk their duty to provide for their children, it’s just to prevent them from having more.

    How would you justly go about forcefully preventing people from having children?

  38. If you injure someone you incur an obligation, no? yet there was no contract. If you push someone in a lake you have to rescue them. It is actions that incur obligations. One type of such action is a contract, others are doing things that injure others. Etc.

    Well since this is a libertarian thread I thought we were talking about enforceable duties, not personal vices. Probably lots of folks here agree you have a duty to support your offspring, and that to do otherwise would be a personal vice…the ambiguity arises when you say “enforceable duties”, i.e. when you seem to be saying it’s OK to coerce parents into providing for their children in whatever manner the Kinsella Collection Agency determines is best. So yes, there is such a moral duty…but you have to prove why aggression against non-violent people can be justified if it is to _force_ that duty to be carried out.

  39. Everybody, can’t you see? Stephan is just jealous of guys who get to go around having sexing with loads of women.

    Perhaps he is going through an early menopause.

  40. Stephan,

    Suppose a woman chooses to concieve a child with sperm from a sperm bank.

    Would you say the biological father is morally obliged to provide for the child?

    Are supervisors and employees at the sperm bank also morally obliged to provide for the child, since they were knowing accomplices to the conception?

  41. Stephan,

    “No, I’m not. I’m really only advocating that fathers have an obligation to pay child support.”

    No, you called for the state to license breeding. Remember?

    “Curious–assume this site is named after Spooner. What do you think Spooner would say of the idea that a guy who sires children and moves on to the next conquest has no legal obligation to support the child? My guess is he would think anyone is a hedonistic nutjob who didn’t believe this, but I am not sure.”

    Dunno for sure either, but I’m confident he would not call for the state to license breeding.

  42. Curious–assume this site is named after Spooner. What do you think Spooner would say of the idea that a guy who sires children and moves on to the next conquest has no legal obligation to support the child? My guess is he would think anyone is a hedonistic nutjob who didn’t believe this, but I am not sure.

  43. JTK: “Suppose a woman chooses to concieve a child with sperm from a sperm bank.

    Would you say the biological father is morally obliged to provide for the child?”

    I don’t know. Probably not.

    “Are supervisors and employees at the sperm bank also morally obliged to provide for the child, since they were knowing accomplices to the conception?”

    Probably not.

    “”No, I’m not. I’m really only advocating that fathers have an obligation to pay child support.”

    “No, you called for the state to license breeding. Remember?”

    Primarily wishful thinking. My point is that you have positive obligations to the kid. I think they include more than child support, and are theoretically legally enforceable; but as a practical matter how are you gonna force someone to “love” a kid? You can’t. If you have to force them the kid may be worse off. So the only thing left really that makes sense is to force them to pay child support.

    But that implies that someone who refuses to do this or keeps breeding with a blatant inability or lack of intention to support them is, in fact, a type of criminal. He is violating the rights of the kids he creates, who have a claim on him.

    Given that he is a rights violator, it’s not in principle unlibertarian to propose punishing him, and this punishment could include a prohibition on making moer children. Such a prohibition theoretically could also be justified on the grounds of preventing future crimes.

    As a practical matter such prohibtions are probably unworkable. It’s similar to the abortion issue. Even if you believe that abortion of a first-semester embryo/fetus is murder, this cannot really be policed; the only way to do so would be to basically violate the rights of many innocent pregnant women, e.g. those who have miscarriages, etc. So practically speaking there has to be a “right to choose” at least in the early stages.

  44. Kennedy: “It’s not necessary to engineer an incentive for mothers to choose good mates, they naturally have great incentive to do so in a free market for reproduction, which is what Lynette and I have advocated here.”

    Kinslla: I agree. But the child has a claim for support against the father too.

    I disagree. The woman is free to do what she will with what the man man has provided. The consequences are to her body and are her responsibility.

    Plus I think it’s clear that the rights we’ve outlined are more economically and legally efficient than the rights you’ve outlined and that this is some evidence that we are more correct. I don’t argue for rights strictly on the basis that they are efficient, but I also don’t think it’s coincidence that natural rights tend to be economically efficient.

  45. “My point is that you have positive obligations to the kid.”

    If so, how does the man get out of these obligations in the sperm bank example? There is no one entitled to release him from that obligation on behalf of the child if you are correct.

    And why don’t the people at the sperm bank have a similar positive obligation to the child they helped conceive?

  46. “If so, how does the man get out of these obligations in the sperm bank example? There is no one entitled to release him from that obligation on behalf of the child if you are correct.

    And why don’t the people at the sperm bank have a similar positive obligation to the child they helped conceive?”

    Don’t know, man, I can’t do all the heavy lifting. We’d have to wait and see how libertarian-minded, justice-seeking juries came down on these issues and see how the legal rules develop.

    That’s my stock answer when I’m stumped.

  47. “How would you justly go about forcefully preventing people from having children?”

    Uncle buck used a 9-iron, and he was the best surrogate father evar.

  48. In the sperm bank example you said you thought the biological father was probably not morally obliged to provide for the child. Why do you think not?

    What is the moral difference between the sperm bank example and a more typical conception?

    I would say that as far as positive moral obligations to the child go there is no moral difference in principle between the two cases. In both cases the man provides material which the woman is free to do with as she sees fit. If she has a child with it as a consequence of her choice then she is the only one with a positive moral obligation to the child.

    If “deadbeat dads” are a problem then they are ultimately a problem that only women can solve – by choosing better fathers for their children. Your proposals exacerbate the problem by shielding women from the natural cost of bad choices. Remove that shield and women will stongly tend to choose better out of their own self interest, to the benefit of their children.

  49. The Kinsella Collection Agency’s Spokesman: I gave the anlogy in my original LRC post that spawned this thread, to pushing someone in a lake, giving rise to a duty to rescue. I generalize the underlying principle as creating a situation where someone has natural needs, giving rise to a duty on the creator relative to those needs.

    Like all analogies, this one contains a slight flaw…namely that in the lake scenario you have placed a reasoning, intelligent being with rights in imminent danger of drowning; yet when a man and a woman couple there is no intelligent, reasoning being who is being put in imminent danger of dying… there’s just the man and the woman. A zygote is not a person by any reasonable definition of “person”, hence has no rights. The intelligent, reasoning being you have in mind comes much later. Thus, when the zygote has grown into an intelligent, reasoning being, the question remains: Why do you advocate the existence of the state in order to force the dad to “pay up”?

    If you generate a child that is dependent by nature, of course you have the obligation to support that child.

    I’d agree with that. How does that necessitate the existence of the state?

    AS a libertarian who focuses on innocent victims instead of hedonistic, pleasure-seeking libertines who want no consequences for their rutting around, I prefer to favor the child.

    There you go again, accusing libertarians of being “hedonists”. What’s up with that?

    JTK: I disagree. The woman is free to do what she will with what the man man has provided. The consequences are to her body and are her responsibility.

    This is what I’m puzzled about as well–morally speaking, a guy and a girl just having sex is equivalent to the guy giving the girl a bag of sperm, no? This is equivalent to the scenario where the girl goes to a sperm bank, no? (The sperm bank is essentially acting as a third party for the “transaction”.) So JTK is right–Stephan seems to be saying the Kinsella Sperm Bank has the moral right to go around hitting up deadbeat dads for their “fair share”.

    To hell with hedonistic, libertine, atomistic, non-reality-based libertarianism if it robotically monotones that the child has no rights.

    You seem to be worried that the theory of libertarianism doesn’t have a provision amounting to “If a small baby is drowning it is moral to steal, pilfer, enslave, and coerce as needed to save the child’s life”. Not to be impractical, but parents who abandon their children “to nature” are probably pretty rare these days…so how exactly would a jury in libertopia determine that the dad “owed” the mother anything at all?

  50. Joshua Holmes wrote:
    I think in situations where parents continuously shirk their duty to provide for their children, it’s just to prevent them from having more.

    There are a couple of ways:
    1. Forced time apart – there could be an injunction against being in the same region as one another. You could also accomplish this by imprisoning one or both parents, considering they’ve already committed neglect against their children.

    2. Compulsory abortion – definitely not my preference (I’m pro-life).

    3. Appointment of legal guardian to take possession of child upon birth

    It’s mind boggling that compulsory abortion can be advanced by a pro-lifer as a just method of birth prevention. Even moreso, that a libertarian would justify the State acting on his behalf to imprison sperm donors.

  51. J-dog wrote: “Stephan K: “Given that he is a rights violator, it’s not in principle unlibertarian to propose punishing him, and this punishment could include a prohibition on making moer children. Such a prohibition theoretically could also be justified on the grounds of preventing future crimes.”

    “You are using “punishment” too loosely. Your analysis works in a Statist context in which “crimes” are divorced from rights violations. But that is not a libertarian scenario.

    Let’s assume that a parent owes a legal duty to maintain his child. The person whose rights are violated is the child. As with any other rights violation, the starting point is that any libertarian remedy would be directed at the enforcement of the right or compensation for its violation. Your injunction achieves neither of those ends. It confers no benefit upon the person whose rights have been violated.”

    I am not of the purely-restitutionist libertarian mould. I disagree I am divorcing crime from rights violations; they are one and the same. The penalty for a crime is punishment. The victim can use this right to punish to bargain for restitution if he wants, but it is up to him.

    In the case of the parent, I’d say he has a legal obligation to support the child out of his estate. If he has any property, some of it becomes in effect the child’s property for maintenance purposes. If the dad refuses to hand over the child’s property voluntarily, he becomes a trespasser, and it can be taken from him.

    Aside from these rights-related, libertarian considerations, a corresponding ethical view holds it that if you sire children when you are not in a reasonable position to care for them emotionally, financially, etc., you are scum of the earth, but not necessarily a criminal.

    >So your approach must depend upon the right of a third party to prevent a person from committing a crime (rights violation) in the future.<

    Well, there can be any number of variations. Probably it would be hard to justify preemptive action. Though one would want to.

    >Undoubtedly such a right does exist. I am entitled to intervene to prevent my neighbour from being burgled by a man who is half way across the threshhold; and perhaps even before he has crossed the threshhold if it is clear he is about to burgle.<

    What about turd-burglars?

    >But such rights must be extended very sparingly. For good reason, common law courts will only grant injunctions to prevent future rights violation in clear cases, even where the person seeking the injunction is the potential victim. The common law would never countenance a principle whereby X may use force (or obtain an injunction) for the purpose of preventing Y from doing something at some uncertain time in the future which might entail a rights violation vis a vis Z. Libertarian law may not be identical to common law; but the reasons for caution – that such a principle would be hopelessly wide and open to abuse – are generally appilcable.<

    I agree completely.

    Orange Julius, b/c that is the name in the US of a chain of shopping-mall juice stands. How about J-Dog?

  52. Stephan K:

    “Given that he is a rights violator, it’s not in principle unlibertarian to propose punishing him, and this punishment could include a prohibition on making moer children. Such a prohibition theoretically could also be justified on the grounds of preventing future crimes.”

    You are using “punishment” too loosely. Your analysis works in a Statist context in which “crimes” are divorced from rights violations. But that is not a libertarian scenario.

    Let’s assume that a parent owes a legal duty to maintain his child. The person whose rights are violated is the child. As with any other rights violation, the starting point is that any libertarian remedy would be directed at the enforcement of the right or compensation for its violation. Your injunction achieves neither of those ends. It confers no benefit upon the person whose rights have been violated.

    So your approach must depend upon the right of a third party to prevent a person from committing a crime (rights violation) in the future.

    Undoubtedly such a right does exist. I am entitled to intervene to prevent my neighbour from being burgled by a man who is half way across the threshhold; and perhaps even before he has crossed the threshhold if it is clear he is about to burgle.

    But such rights must be extended very sparingly. For good reason, common law courts will only grant injunctions to prevent future rights violation in clear cases, even where the person seeking the injunction is the potential victim. The common law would never countenance a principle whereby X may use force (or obtain an injunction) for the purpose of preventing Y from doing something at some uncertain time in the future which might entail a rights violation vis a vis Z. Libertarian law may not be identical to common law; but the reasons for caution – that such a principle would be hopelessly wide and open to abuse – are generally appilcable.

  53. Julius wrote:
    (apologies for my ignorance but I am English)

    Then you know the meaning of the word wanker as it applies to Kinsella. He’s barely worth the attention and is behaving like a buffoon. I don’t see much evidence to indicate that he’ll be applying any thought to his responses.

  54. Lynette:

    Goodness, I can’t agree with that. SK is more libertarian than 99.9% of people and we don’t go around calling the other 99.9% w-nkers! Anyway, the important thing is the content of the arguments, rather than the way they are presented; and so far SK has responded substantively to my arguments, even to the extent of admitting (I think) that his original proposition is unlibertarian. I wish he would stop calling me orange, though. I like my name.

  55. Stephan K:

    “Probably it would be hard to justify preemptive action.”

    I tentatively infer from this that you now agree your proposed injunction (a species of pre-emptive action) to restrain feckless fathers from siring children is unlibertarian

    p.s. what is a “turd burglar”? (apologies for my ignorance but I am English)

  56. I wasn’t suggesting the canonical list of just ways, simply a list of ways that it could be accomplished.

    And I don’t necessarily need a state for any of these things: private arrangements could work as well.

  57. I’ve already made a post on my blog regarding this issue (if anyone is interested, you can find it at this link. I only have one point regarding this discussion, though it appears long over – so I’m making it after the fact. Children have a RIGHT to both parents. It has less to do with the parent’s rights, though they do exist, than with the child’s rights and best interests. Children have a right to both parents, and since the only thing the state can legislate is the financial support, then that is what they get. So in a way, sex is a contract to raise children, even if it only means paying 18 years of rent.

  58. Stephan,

    “There are several differences between the sperm bank and copulation cases. In the case of copulation, both parents cooperate in the act of conception. The man can choose not to have sex; or to use protection. Same with the woman. In the sperm bank case, the man has already provided semen. At this point he is no more responsible for an act of conception than a man who masturbates. It’s completely up to the woman at this point whether to acquire and use the semen to inseminate herself.

    By contrast, copulation is voluntary on both parties’ part.”

    That’s simply nonsense. The man who donated his sperm via the sperm bank was just as free as any other man to decline to conceive a child – he could obviously choose to not contribute his sperm. And of course he did cooperate with the mother, even if they never met. She needed his permission and she got it. And there is no reason in principle why things are completely up to the woman after he donates his sperm – there is no reason in principle why he can’t attach whatever conditions he likes to the use of his sperm, is there? Shouldn’t he be able sell his sperm to her if he so chooses?

    A man who gives his sperm to a sperm bank is clearly volunteering to contribute to the conception of a child, far more clearly than a man who has simply consented to sex. You said that fathers had a moral responsibility to support the children they conceived. If that is true then no one has any moral standing to excuse a volunteer from that responsibility. The participants at the sperm bank are also clearly voluntary parties to the conception who should also be responsible to raise the child by your reasoning.

  59. I’ll take Ally’s post step-by-step:

    One, I find the concept of sperm banks and those that use them to conceive children on their own absolutely reprehensible.

    Since you qualify this later by saying sperm banks are OK when couples use them who cannot otherwise conceive, I’m guessing what you mean to say is that single parents who use purchased sperm to conceive children are behaving reprehensibly–not the people who own the sperm bank.

    A child has a right to TWO parents, a mother and father.

    This is not what libertarians understand by the word “rights”. A “right” is usually understood to mean the right to live your life free from coercive interference. For example, libertarians do not consider sentences like “Children have a right to an education” to have any more moral meaning than “I have the right to take all of Ally’s stuff”, as neither fits the definition of what rights are.

    Psychology shows us that children do better with both parents, need both parents – one of each gender.

    Probably most people here agree with that. I certainly do.

    It does not make it OK – I would love to see a case of human rights based on it – nor does it negate the right of a child conceived in the natural way to have both parents.

    A little later…

    Why in God’s name someone is arguing to get someone, man or woman, out of their responsibility towards the children they begat is beyond me.

    That’s not what we’re arguing… support for not using violence to stop X is not synonymous with positively lending aid to X. It’s the Greek Math fallacy–a smaller negative is not a positive any more than a smaller positive is a negative. And negatives are not positives.

    If you continue this line of reasoning, and the man is not responsible and should be able to walk away, then let me tell you, many men will have no right to their kids period….which is what the feminists would have happen.

    As stated above, most here would probably agree that feminists are wrong in this and that both parents ought to support the child. It doesn’t make it Ok for feminists to employ coercion, however.

    Oy. Y’all baffle me. Why the heck are you arguing men out of their responsibility and right to their kids?

    Men ought to take responsibility, but the debate is over exactly how this ought to be carried out. You seem to be advocating the existence of the state in order to FORCE them to take responsibility–and anarchists oppose the existence of the state, since it amounts to an organization of legimitzed violence. We are saying the opposite–it is the responsibility of individuals to care for their children, and if they are doing manifest harm to the child then a third party like yourself may be justified in removing the child to a better home. But in either case, robbing the father’s bank account isn’t the answer.

  60. Is that so?

    So? What’s your point? Are you going around boinking chicks w/o a John Thomas? Don’t be so worried, dude. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time (no offense, Lopez–not John Lopez, just some random Lopez recently put in jail for purse-snatching, spray-paint-can vandalism, switch-blade fights, or what-not).

  61. Stephan,

    What crime? You’ve pretty much acknowledged that some men have no moral obligation to support the children they voluntarily conceive, which thoroughly undermines your argument that other men do.

    Should a man be able to sell his sperm directly to a woman, rather than through a third party? If he does is he then morally obligated to raise a child she conceives with his sperm?

  62. One, I find the concept of sperm banks and those that use them to conceive children on their own absolutely reprehensible. A child has a right to TWO parents, a mother and father. In a situation such as this, the child has been robbed of the right. I believe that is wrong. And quite honestly, as many unexpected pregnancies as there are out there, how hard is it to get knocked up? (This is not meant to relate to those who cannot conceive on their own and look to a sperm bank to provide what the male in the relationship cannot – that is the only time I think a sperm bank is legitimate.) Psychology shows us that children do better with both parents, need both parents – one of each gender.

    However, I am looking at situations in which two people engage in consentual sex. Children conceived from sperm banks and other such nonsense are robbed of the right of two parents, and there is nothing more to say about it. It does not make it OK – I would love to see a case of human rights based on it – nor does it negate the right of a child conceived in the natural way to have both parents.

    Consentual sex brings with it the risk of children. To some, that is a joy; to others, it is a fear. But it is the responsibility of being sexually active. Why in God’s name someone is arguing to get someone, man or woman, out of their responsibility towards the children they begat is beyond me. Men are just as responsible as women for the children they create. It takes two. We all know how they come into being. This is not about the man’s right to walk away, this is about the child’s right to have the support of both parents. Do women need to be careful about their bed partners? Absolutely. SO DO MEN. It is still YOUR child. If you continue this line of reasoning, and the man is not responsible and should be able to walk away, then let me tell you, many men will have no right to their kids period….which is what the feminists would have happen.

    Oy. Y’all baffle me. Why the heck are you arguing men out of their responsibility and right to their kids?

  63. Ally,

    I’ll ask you the same things I asked Stephan:

    Suppose a woman chooses to concieve a child with sperm from a sperm bank.

    Would you say the biological father is morally obliged to provide for the child?

    Are supervisors and employees at the sperm bank also morally obliged to provide for the child, since they were knowing accomplices to the conception?

  64. At this point he is no more responsible for an act of conception than a man who masturbates.

    Exactly the main point.

    By contrast, copulation is voluntary on both parties’ part.

    What part of selling sperm is not voluntary?

    The man can choose not to have sex; or to use protection.

    I’ll notify the neighborhood watch to look for agents from the Kinsella & Ally Collection Agency then.

  65. Lopez: “Kinsella: In Kennedyesque fashion, JTK asks…

    How else would you expect Kennedy to ask something, Stephan?”

    That was tongue-in-cheek, Mr. Lopez. Take the dour, Randian, humorless, O-so-serious stick out your ass.

  66. In Kennedyesque fashion, JTK asks: “Suppose a woman chooses to concieve a child with sperm from a sperm bank.

    Would you say the biological father is morally obliged to provide for the child?”

    There are several differences between the sperm bank and copulation cases. In the case of copulation, both parents cooperate in the act of conception. The man can choose not to have sex; or to use protection. Same with the woman. In the sperm bank case, the man has already provided semen. At this point he is no more responsible for an act of conception than a man who masturbates. It’s completley up to the woman at this point whether to acquire and use the semen to inseminate herself.

    By contrast, copulation is voluntary on both parties’ part.

  67. What, are you back, Lawyer Kinsella? Go away now.

    But as long as the subject of “humor” has arisen, allow me to say that finding any humor in the work of Tucker Max is kind of like getting your laughs from poking a kitten’s eyes out with a sharp stick, letting it wander loose on the freeway, and chortling uncontrollably when it is finally flattened by a semi.

    Reform thyself, Lawyer Kinsella, and you may someday be fit to interact with actual human beans, as opposed to the dregs of the earth over at LRC.

  68. Sabotta:

    “What, are you back, Lawyer Kinsella? Go away now.

    But as long as the subject of “humor” has arisen, allow me to say that finding any humor in the work of Tucker Max is kind of like getting your laughs from poking a kitten’s eyes out with a sharp stick, letting it wander loose on the freeway, and chortling uncontrollably when it is finally flattened by a semi.

    Reform thyself, Lawyer Kinsella, and you may someday be fit to interact with actual human beans, as opposed to the dregs of the earth over at LRC.”

    While I like the “human beans” term (which I believe I read used as a joke in Highlights probably about 30 years ago, and have liked it ever since), your comments indicate you are a punkish dickwad and three-D loser. Who gives a flying fuck if we share the same taste in humour, you savage elf?

  69. I tend to agree w/ Ally.

    If I loan you one of my guns and participate with you in a bank robbery, we are both responsible.

    On the other hand, if I sell you a gun, and you later use it for a robbery, I am not necessarily resonsible. This is because the selling of the gun is not per se a crime. One reason this is so is that the gun has both innocuous, and bad, uses. You might use it for self-defense; but you might also use it for evil. Nevertheless all libertarians say the gun seller is not responsible if his customer ends up deciding to use it for evil.

    Copulation is analogous to the first situation above. The man is cooperating in an action which very well might result in a single-parent child.

    Selling sperm to a sperm bank is analogous to the second sitiation above. There are some innocuous uses of his semen: for example a childless couple may want it to inseminate the wife. In this case the child is being brought into a two-parent world. Or a selfish single mother type might use it also to create a single-parent child, which is arguably a form of child abuse. But the sperm donor is arguably no more responsible for this than the gun seller above.

  70. Ally has apparently asserted that children have a positive right to support and Stephan says he tends to agree. Let me offer three cases in an attempt to clarify their views of rights.

    1. A woman is raped. Does she have any moral obligation to support a child that results from such a union? Is she within her rights to abort the child?

    2. Due to obstacles encountered in their attempts to conceive a child a man and his wife have some of his sperm frozen. The man dies in a traffic accident. Everything the man owned was explicitly willed to his wife. If the woman chooses to conceive via her husbands frozen sperm, does she violate anyone’s rights? Have any rights been violated by anyone in this case?

  71. Stephan,

    “If I loan you one of my guns and participate with you in a bank robbery, we are both responsible.”

    Suppose a husband and wife wish to have a child but can only conceive in vitro. Are doctors or medical specialists who actively participate in the conception of such a child morally obliged to support the resulting child, as you hold both parent to be?

    “Copulation is analogous to the first situation above. The man is cooperating in an action which very well might result in a single-parent child.”

    As of course is true in the example of the sperm bank. Why is the production of a single-parent child an offense? If a single mother conceives via the sperm bank have her child’s rights been violated? If so, by whom?

  72. Stefan,

    “Men ought to take responsibility,…”

    Not in all cases, and in any case there is a crucial distinction here to be made about oughts – the distinction between moral vices and moral crimes. It’s a moral crime to aggressively harm another, a moral vice to harm yourself. Moral vices can be notoriously difficult to identify in others.

    The man donating sperm to the sperm bank doesn’t harm anyone, and I see no reason to think he is engaging in vice. So I wouldn’t say he ought to take responsiblity for supporting any offspring he has via the sperm bank. I hold that the “Player” who engages in sex without consideration of the consequences to others also commits no moral crime, but in my judgment he’s engaging in vice because I judge his behavior is destructive to self-respect and to his prospects for happiness. In such cases I would agree that the these men ought to take responsibility – for their own good – but their refusal to do so is no moral crime and thus not morally actionable. Only crimes are morally actionable, by which I mean that intervention by force can only be justified in the case of moral crimes.

    All of this holds even in the absence of the state.

  73. “1. A woman is raped. Does she have any moral obligation to support a child that results from such a union? Is she within her rights to abort the child?”

    She has the moral obligation to support the child, or make sure that it gets taken care of – perhaps through adoption. I don’t believe one wrong – no matter how egregious – gives her the right to kill the child.

    As for the willing sperm and such….that is way too bizarre and I do not believe applies to the every day situations that we are discussing. That being said, I am not a fan of someone having a child because THEY want to without any regard to the child and its needs. Exceptions are just that….they are individual cases that fall outside the norm and have to be evaluated accordingly. I am more interested in the norms.

    “Why is the production of a single-parent child an offense? If a single mother conceives via the sperm bank have her child’s rights been violated? If so, by whom?”

    Again, go back to the needs of the child. Children need both parents. That is a just a fact, like it or not. Is it wrong to have a child purposely putting the child at a disadvantage? I believe so, because you are doing it for selfish reasons, strictly for yourself. Children need male input – they need their fathers. When fathers die or are injured and incapable of giving input, that is one thing. To ensure that your child never even has the opportunity – that is selfish. I do not agree or support single mothers who purposely put themselves in that situation.

    “You seem to be advocating the existence of the state in order to FORCE them to take responsibility–and anarchists oppose the existence of the state, since it amounts to an organization of legimitzed violence. We are saying the opposite–it is the responsibility of individuals to care for their children, and if they are doing manifest harm to the child then a third party like yourself may be justified in removing the child to a better home. But in either case, robbing the father’s bank account isn’t the answer.”

    I agree, it is the responsibility of individuals, but as history has shows us, people don’t always do the right thing. I am all for limited government and people being responsible for themselves. However, when they are not, then what? In the abstract, or the ideal, shall we say, I see your point. If we could start over at square one, raise a generation with concepts of personal responsibility, I believe then government interference and coersion would not be necessary, and, in fact, quite intrusive and counter-productive. I am looking at the situations we are discussing in light of the attitudes of my generation and those that come after me. We live a society where people think they do not have to be responsible for their behaviors. If that means taking some piece of sh** to court, suing his/her ass, and getting financial support (at least) for the child they irresponsibly produced, then fine, do so. At least we are forcing this person to take up the responsibility they are trying to force society to shoulder. I guess that is where I see government as a necessity in social organization: to make individuals take responsibility when they refuse to do so.

    As an aside: we are a species governed by violence – it has always been so. I’d rather have some organized violence then disorganized. I am sure that is whole other – very long – thread and line of thought! =)

    There are too many points to possibly respond to – I think everyone makes very good, if at times a little odd, points. I am not saying we should tell people how to raise children, but as most would agree (I think), children need both parents. No doubt that is why it takes two of us to produce one. And people have to be responsible for their sexual behavior. To say that women shoulder the brunt of it is trying to shift blame. We cannot spontaneously conceive on our own. It takes the input of a man – most children are produced this way, not in labs – and men need to think about their sexual activity and the consequences. If we had the old “shotgun” weddings and men “being men” attitudes that left it to honor and social right to do the right thing and shoulder the responsibility, that would be fantastic. I much prefer the “Old West” style of governing – but as the current climate exists, the only resort appears to be force and ensuring the provision, at least financially, for one’s responsibilities.

  74. Ally,

    “She has the moral obligation to support the child, or make sure that it gets taken care of – perhaps through adoption.”

    Why does the raped woman have such an obligation to the child?

    JTK:”Why is the production of a single-parent child an offense? If a single mother conceives via the sperm bank have her child’s rights been violated? If so, by whom?”

    Ally: “Again, go back to the needs of the child. Children need both parents. That is a just a fact, like it or not. Is it wrong to have a child purposely putting the child at a disadvantage? I believe so, because you are doing it for selfish reasons, strictly for yourself. Children need male input – they need their fathers. When fathers die or are injured and incapable of giving input, that is one thing. To ensure that your child never even has the opportunity – that is selfish. I do not agree or support single mothers who purposely put themselves in that situation.”

    You didn’t answer these simple questions: If a single mother conceives via the sperm bank have her child’s rights been violated? If so, by whom?

    Your idea of rights based on need simply won’t do. Suppose a couple has a child and the father dies. Now the child has only a single parent. Another couple wants to raise the child in a loving and stable two-parent household. If the child’s rights are based on need wouldn’t you have to say that the mother is obliged to remarry or else surrender her child to the two-parent family? Wouldn’t it be selfish to deny the child that opportunity?

  75. Ally: I am all for limited government and people being responsible for themselves.

    Ah, so you do support the existence of the state…that’s what I was trying to figure out.

  76. The purportedly-named Stefan writes: “‘A child has a right to TWO parents, a mother and father.’

    “This is not what libertarians understand by the word “rights”. A “right” is usually understood to mean the right to live your life free from coercive interference. For example, libertarians do not consider sentences like “Children have a right to an education” to have any more moral meaning than “I have the right to take all of Ally’s stuff”, as neither fits the definition of what rights are.”

    No, there can be positive rights under libertarianism, if they arise due to one’s actions.

  77. The Kennedenator asks: “Suppose a husband and wife wish to have a child but can only conceive in vitro. Are doctors or medical specialists who actively participate in the conception of such a child morally obliged to support the resulting child, as you hold both parent to be?”

    Hmm. Good question. Just parents.

    “As of course is true in the example of the sperm bank. Why is the production of a single-parent child an offense? If a single mother conceives via the sperm bank have her child’s rights been violated? If so, by whom?”

    The mother, at least, for committing child abuse by intentionally bringing a child into a single-parent situation.

    If she’s a democrat the damage is only compounded. Which leads me to think… any socialist or democrat is ipso facto committing aggression when they procreate at all, in several ways. First, it’s child abuse. Second, it’s imposing a greater threat against the rest of us, by creating another likely socialist voter/citizen.

    I submit: socilialists have no right to free speech, and no right to procreate. We might as well just shoot them all.

  78. “Your idea of rights based on need simply won’t do. Suppose a couple has a child and the father dies. Now the child has only a single parent. Another couple wants to raise the child in a loving and stable two-parent household. If the child’s rights are based on need wouldn’t you have to say that the mother is obliged to remarry or else surrender her child to the two-parent family? Wouldn’t it be selfish to deny the child that opportunity?”

    Kennedy, some on, this is sophistry. Saying that it is better for a child to have both ITS parents rearing it, does not at all imply that IF one of its parents dies, it would be better off being given to strangers.

    Do you seriously deny that a child raised by mom and dad (ceteris paribus) is much better off than one raised solo? Just as one raised solo is better off than one raised by no one, a la Tarzan.

  79. Stephan,

    “Kennedy, some on, this is sophistry. Saying that it is better for a child to have both ITS parents rearing it, does not at all imply that IF one of its parents dies, it would be better off being given to strangers.”

    Ally is arguing that children have rights as a consequence of their needs. If that is true, and it’s true that a baby needs a mother and a father then why shouldn’t the child’s rights be decisive?

    “Do you seriously deny that a child raised by mom and dad (ceteris paribus) is much better off than one raised solo? Just as one raised solo is better off than one raised by no one, a la Tarzan.”

    The child might be better of if raised by ten loving parents, but that doesn’t imply any rights for the child to any configuration of family, now does it?

  80. Stephan,

    Why aren’t doctors and other specialists who actively participate in in vitro fertilization responsible for supporting the child? They fully qualify under your original argument for the responsibilities of the parents.

    Kinsella: If you pass by a drowning man in a lake you have no enforceable (legal) obligation to try to rescue him, nor should you; but if you push someone in a lake you have a positive obligation to try to rescue them. If you don’t you could be liable for homicide. Likewise, if your voluntary actions bring into being a baby with natural needs for shelter, food, care, it’s akin to throwing someone into a lake. In both cases you create a situation where another human is in dire need of help and without he will die. By creating this situation you incur an obligation to provide for those needs.

    Hasn’t the doctor who performs an in vitro fertilization brought into being a baby by his voluntary actions? Or by your other analogy if this is akin to a bank robbery how can you say he’s not completely complicit in the job?

  81. The purportedly named Stephan writes:

    No, there can be positive rights under libertarianism, if they arise due to one’s actions.

    Two points:

    I. Rights arising due to “action” as you say are usually understood to be the result of aggression…that’s why Rand’s dictum uses the word “initation”. For instance, if you rob someone you have an obligation to return the stolen loot; however, aggression is the one thing noticeably absent from your examples, as JTK has repeatedly pointed out: Precisely who violated the child’s rights, when, and how? You cannot violate the rights of someone who isn’t a person, or who doesn’t exist, so presumably that means the alleged rights-violator couldn’t have done the dirty deed prior to, say, birth or some such time. In such a case where, say, the father skips town for Europe the day after copulating, at precisely which point during the child’s development did he initiate force against the child?

    II. If you really mean what you say, you ought to consider the sperm bank workers as also financially responsible for the child’s well-being as JTK points out. They helped create it, did they not? Or the scientist who discovered the research in the first place? Or even the father, say, if he happened to be working at the sperm bank at the time? Your argument depends on both there being a person who was a primary cause and a subsequent positive obligation on this person; but multiple people can cause a single birth in principle, and absent rights violations there are no “positive rights” as you mention even if there is only one (two?) parent(s).

    The bottom line: Any argument that calls for the continued existence of the state is invalid, and since your argument is prima facie calling for the existence of the state, you’ve got to show us where we’ve gone wrong if you wish to claim to be a consistent libertarian.

  82. Stephan,

    Maybe you are right; maybe the doctor who intentionally helps a single woman bring a baby into the world is helping her to commit a crime. Good point.

    Isn’t he morally obliged to support the child, by your argument, even if he’s helping a husband and wife?

    But why is it a moral crime for a sigle woman to have a child? Even if we grant for the sake of argument that a child might be better off with two parents ceteris paribus the fact remains that all things do not remain equal and many women may be better able to raise a child on their own than many couples. Why hold such women as criminals if they can do better for their children than couples you do not hold to be criminal?

  83. JTK: “The child might be better of if raised by ten loving parents, but that doesn’t imply any rights for the child to any configuration of family, now does it?”

    Do you have no recognition at all of the natural order? Is it not common sense to you that a mommy and daddy are naturally the way to raise a kid? Do we really need to argue this? What’s next, the world is flat?

  84. Stefan: “‘No, there can be positive rights under libertarianism, if they arise due to one’s actions.’

    “I. Rights arising due to “action” as you say are usually understood to be the result of aggression…that’s why Rand’s dictum uses the word “initation”.”

    “Usually”? Oh, I don’t know, ever heard of contract?

    “Any argument that calls for the continued existence of the state is invalid, and since your argument is prima facie calling for the existence of the state, you’ve got to show us where we’ve gone wrong if you wish to claim to be a consistent libertarian.”

    Arguments don’t do anything “prima facie”; but in any event, you are wrong. I don’t call for the existence of the state. If I state someone has an obligation to do, or not to do, something, even a legally enforceable obligation, it does not imply the state at all. Silly wabbit! Time for the elementary kiddie-lectures on libertarian basics again?


  85. “I. Rights arising due to “action” as you say are usually understood to be the result of aggression…that’s why Rand’s dictum uses the word “initation”.”

    “Usually”? Oh, I don’t know, ever heard of contract?[/i

    I’m strongly suspecting at this point that you’re a lying weasel Kinsella…scrolling up the page (as you’ve no doubt gotten accustomed to by now), I mention contracts, you retort with “There are obligations arising from actions that may not be contracts”, I respond that those typically arise in cases of aggression, and you respond by asking if I know what a contract is….

    [i]Arguments don’t do anything “prima facie”

    So you aren’t a lying weasel then either, prima facie? That’s good to know.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=prima%20facie

    If I state someone has an obligation to do, or not to do, something, even a legally enforceable obligation, it does not imply the state at all.

    No, you called for state licensing of breeding, remember?

  86. Lynette: “Children are born as the consequence of a series of deliberate and cognitive decisions that only their mothers make, such as 1) Will I have sex? 2) Will I use birth control? 3) Will I carry this child to term? 4) Will I elect to keep this child rather than to adopt it out?”

    Same can be said of men except for 3) excluding the use of force. Mecna can 1) Decide to have sex. 2) Decide to use birth contron 3) Decide to support the child or adopt it out. Also the guy can decide to pay for the abortion or not.

  87. it’s amazing how many people can judge morality when most of us have or are violating some type of moral law…

    Without flaw the woman has the innate and legal right to decide to have sex, abort, keep or adopt DESPITE what the father in question wants/feels. Moreover, if the woman decides after 5yrs life is too hard society will praise her for opting for adoption for “the best interest of the child.” does the obligor receive restitution..or is that just an opportunty cost associated with a 5 year experiment.

    ANYBODY having recreational sex could find themselves facing child support payments. If the father doesnt’ want anything to do with the child..he’s a snake. If the woman aborts, or givesup the child for adoption she’s a HERO (best interest of the child) oops mistake.. BEST INTEREST FOR HER.

    Woman can change their minds yes/no from conception even after birth. Men only get to physically contribute to the “act” of procreation.

    Summary: We all have a circle of sin we must confront and deal with daily. Absent father or bad judement on the part of the mother (debate- abortion,,,adoption) seems like whatever the outcome, society feels the woman should have right to change her mind. Thats fine and dandy..but please dont insult me and say it’s a 50/50 Proposition and responsible..that’s like a mortage between a husband and wife where BOTH SIGNATURES are required to transfer property.

    If you want the mortgage/house (child) YOU MAKE THE PAYMENT MISS WOMAN..afterall you can return you “property/child) via adoption if the payments become too difficult. Dont bother the guy (father) who built the house..he doesn’t own it nor the life time decisions that come with it!

  88. May I chime in? I hope so since I’m doing it anyway. What is this rubbish that a child has a “right” to two parents, one of each gender? First, when I was rather young my father died. Were my rights violated? Who violated them? I didn’t have two parents then. Does this mean that since my mother was obligated to protect my rights that she was obligated to remarry or at least find a man in some form or another? Was she then abusing my rights by not remarrying? How would this right of mine be enforced and against whom?

    And of course a child with two parents is better off than one without. But a child with grandparents is better off than one without. Does this mean the child has a right to grandparents? Are the grandparents obligated to be there and bounce them on their knees, etc? It’s nice but is it an obligation? I won’t dispute that the studies show kids with two parents are better off than kids with one. But none of them show that they require two parents of different genders. That is fundamentalist Christian rhetoric usually misquoting studies that make no reference to the gender of the parents. It might be shown that kids with three adults in the home (say a grandmother) are better off than kids with only two. That was not uncommon when I was a kid but less so now. But that it’s better does not make it a legal obligation.

    Would single mothers who give their children up for adoption be legally required to find a two parent household only? And if they don’t would it be a violation of the rights to have “two parents”? What of a two parent family that can’t care for the child due to financial problems so they want to adopt out. If they find a working woman, who has the resources and ability to care for the child, would adoption violate the child’s alleged right to two parents? It seems to me that the laws required to enforce this concept would keep on growing. In the case I just mentioned it would appear that two parents who can’t care for the child would be obligated to keep the baby since adoption to a wealthy single parent would “violate” the right to two parents. That strikes me as bizarre.

    And what do we do to parents who violate the rights of children? Say parents who abuse them. We punish them. So in this new order of rights does that mean that we punish single women who give birth, not on the basis that they are immoral, but because they have violated their baby’s rights by not giving it two parents?

  89. Well New Visitor, in modern political discourse you’re going to quite often find a claim for “a right to X” where X is pretty much anything that sounds good. You’ll note, for instance, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the occurence of rights of freedom to speech and property mentioned alongside rights to education and a “standard of living”. Mostly this is due to confusion about what rights are.

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