"Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."
- Fransisco D'Anconia - Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Doug TenNapel has a legimitate argument against the stance of the Ayn Rand Institute on embryonic research. How can a philosophy of life, both recognize the value of life and ignore its inception? I must say, that even for a self-proclaimed Objectivist*, this opening statement makes absolutely no sense to me...
"In the name of the sanctity of human life and the inviolability of rights, embryonic stem cell research must be allowed to proceed unimpeded."
In the first place, the government is not, at this time, seeking to forbid research, but rather reject Federal funding of research that by its nature, destroys embryonic tissue. In the Second place, it has historically been the position of ARI and the philosophy of Objectivism to be fundamentally opposed to any government involvement in scientific research, just as with business ventures (Ayn Rand's own defense of NASA notwithstanding). To make an argument now, on behalf of one specific type of government intrusion is odd at best. The Institute stands opposed to Federal taxation for a number of reasons. Ayn Rand herself likened it to slavery and a veritable devaluation of life itself... (HT: The Binary Circumstance)
"Remember that there is no such dichotomy as "human rights" versus "property rights." No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the "right" to "redistribute" the wealth produced by others is claiming the "right" to treat human beings as chattel."
The authors of the article argue that those opposed to embryonic research recognize the origins of life within these particularly unique specimens of human tissue by means of irrational faith. One might respond that to ere on the side of life is a profoundly rational position with regard to scientific unknowns. But the most absurd part of their point is the criticism of faith in life on the one hand, while espousing their own faith in (incomplete) knowledge as a source of an absolute ascertion. This is profoundly contradictory.
Mr.'s Holcberg and Epstein wrap up their argument by stating...
"If these enemies of human life wish to deprive themselves of the benefits of stem cell research, they should be free to do so and die faithful to the last. But any attempt to impose their religious dogma on the rest of the population is both evil and unconstitutional. In the name of the actual sanctity of human life and the inviolability of rights, embryonic stem cell research must be allowed to proceed unimpeded. Our lives may depend on it."
What is an imposing of dogma upon free-thinking people, if not the confiscation of the products of their efforts in opposition to their values in service of another's altruistic ends?
If you think that it is a moral contradiction that men can value the sanctity of human life, yet ingor its inception,
...that men who detest the State's intrusion into scientific research, lobby in favor of its federal subsidization,
...that men ethically opposed to the despotism of altruism, engage a defense of human sacrifice to demonize their opponents,
Then check their premises. You will find that many of them are wrong.
"Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive."- Ayn Rand
* Ayn Rand herself asked that those who do not follow the strict precepts of her Principles not call themselves "Objectivists." I am a Christian. And while I try not to guide my existence in a rational universe by means of my faith, nor use it to establish principle, I choose to honor her wishes in that regard. I write from the standpoint of Objectivism and I identify my philosophic position with that of an Objectivist.