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This thread is to discuss the logic of a conflict of two principles. The self ownership principle and non-aggression principle. If self ownership is taken to a logical conclusion it leads to a woman owns her body and abortion is permissible. If non-aggression is taken to a logical conclusion it leads to a woman does not own her body because a fetus has a higher right to her own body than she does.

That is the conflict and those same principles taken to extremes can be easily applied to any other issues where they conflict.

I will use a logical NAND gate:

Q = NOT ( A AND B )
Refer to truth table at source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAND_logic

For my discussion Q = Result, A = Evict, and B = Abort
Result = NOT ( Evict AND Abort ) [ie. Answer = NOT ( Non-Violence AND Violence )]

Now for the question:

Is it permissible to Abort (ie. or use violence)?

Now for the statements in months 7-9:
A = Evict = Is eviction possible? (ie. non-lethal means) = TRUE = 0
B = Abort = Is abortion possible? (ie. lethal means) = TRUE = 0

Referring to the truth table the result is 1 or false so the answer to the question in this scenario is it is not permissible to abort.

Now for statements in months 0-6:
A = Evict = Is eviction possible? = FALSE = 1
B = Abort = Is abortion possible? = TRUE = 0

Referring to the truth table the result is 0 or true so the answer to the question in this scenario is it is permissible to abort.

How does this equation apply to say ... trespass? It says that if non-violent methods are not possible when there is a conflict with self ownership then it is permissible to use violence. That is it. Is it perfect? No, but for all of the criticism I see no one offering any alternatives to reconcile any conflict between the two principles of self ownership and non-aggression.

Some people are outraged at the notion of it being permissible to use violence against a trespass where there are no non-violent alternatives. Fortunately, the market is a really good platform to solve problems. In the same way it will eventually be possible to safely evict all fetuses should any other instances of a trespass where non-violent means are not possible ... there will be a solution.

Grandstanding on one of these two principles (ie. self ownership for pro choicers and non-aggression for pro lifers) to an extreme is not going to cut it. The very existence of fetuses proves there will be times these two principles intersect. Foreign policy could greatly benefit from eviction theory application. Violence is only permissible if no non-violent options are possible. Self defense uses the same logic ... when there is a conflict between self ownership and non-aggression and non-violent means are not possible it is permissible to use violence.

The same equation can also be applied to uses of violence:
Is it permissible to use lethal means?

Answer = NOT ( Non-lethal Means AND Lethal Means )

Which would result in it is never permissible to use lethal means when non-lethal means are possible. Incidentally being a reason there is a lot of police backlash because despite plenty of non-lethal means available, especially when they show up in a gang, they still pull out guns and shoot people or pets all the time.

One final thought about burden of proof. He who claims proves. The burden of proof ought not be upon he who is accused of excessive means. If the accusation against one is unnecessary violence was used the burden of proof ought to be upon he who claims non-violent means were appropriate.

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Here's a thought

Recognize that a doctor who treats a pregnant woman has two patients. If he kills one of them, charge him with murder. If she has hired him to do it, charge her as an accessory or murder-for-hire.

Obvious exceptions would be those circumstances where failure to abort would lead to a greater loss of life such as a pregnancy that is expected to kill mother and child if continued.

Here's a hypothetical:

If a doctor killed a woman's "wanted" unborn child, he would be charged with a crime, likely murder. An abortion doctor wouldn't be so charged if she didn't want the child. So I guess the difference between murder and justifiable homicide in the case of an unborn is simply the want or lack thereof on the part of the mother.


Here's a thought ...

I fail to see the relevance of "if a doctor killed a woman's ... he would be charged with a crime."

Do you know why? Well, I know people like to think freemem are full of poop but a doctor is in business to derive a gain or profit. One can not tout a doctor analogy as an ethical example because there is a business nexus with the state.

It is a lot like prostitution. Having sex is not a crime, however business activities involving sex to derive a gain or profit are regulated.

It is a lot like the history of travel leading to driver licensing. One has a right to travel but deriving a gain or profit from use of the public highway, such as a horse drawn carriage or modern taxi, is a business activity.

It is a lot like adoption. Giving up ones child is not a crime, however business activities to derive a gain or profit via adoption are regulated.

It is a lot like alcohol or pot prohibition. It is not a crime to drink alcohol but business activities to derive a gain or profit involving alcohol are regulated.

I could probably present a mile long list of examples for regulations which might appear to be based on moral grounds but the actual nexus to codes or statutes is a business type activity. Libertarian ethics concerns itself with legitimate uses of force irregardless of whether it is a business, government, or private type activity.


This reminds me of my philosophy on spanking my children: only do it if it is necessary to prevent an even greater harm.


Since I think it's the crux of the matter with abortion, I'll try to interject it into your analysis: Will you please define what you mean by "permissible?"


I conceded relationship was likely better terminology than conflict. I have no problem conceding permission is not the best terminology. All action is permissible, just not necessarily deemed ethical. The OP represents a quick effort to blog out a line of thought using boolean. Your typical writer might formulate something, think it over and then polish it up. Terms used in the OP do not reflect polish.

Below I used an expression least path of ethical resistance or most ethical choice and that is the spirit of what is meant by permissible.

Consider electrical networks, which are a force. They are presently quantified in nine elements:

If human action is also a force abstractly comparable to electrical networks, a NAND gate would represent a relationship between two of the elements. I have suggested self and will. I could be wrong, I haven't given it a lot of thought. Capacity is an element of person hood or human action. Something like a parental obligation could fall under capacity. Do no harm as something like a natural capacity.

Providing another example of elements that could be missing to represent something like inductance. What about the environment, such as law? Or peer/social pressure? These are things that could influence a choice other than potential and will. If included in a longer equation could or should they influence the result set? So not only what are all the elements but which are valid to influence an ethical result set?

Take something like a database. There are one to one, one to many, and many to many relationships. There is only one relationship between two given tables for any result set. It may very well be that the ethical result set of abortion/eviction is incomplete because it is missing a relationship to another element(s) in the equation.

All that said, the equation to me appears correct for a relationship it presently describes. Nor do I see anyone objecting that more force is logically ethical or the boolean analogy is illogical. Given more force or less force, less force is more ethical. Given lethal or non-lethal, non-lethal is more ethical. By taking two elements which determine the quantity/quality of force there is a logical statement that can be made to yield a consistent result in all cases less is considered more ethical.

Keep in mind I am not an electrical network genius, just somewhat familiar with the subject matter. If I understood all of the concepts of electrical networks better I could likely make a better analogy or perhaps my writing would make more sense. I hope I at least answered your direct question.

Abortion is tolerated

because most people in our present culture engage in casual sex and don't want to be bound legally or otherwise to such casual partners. It really hasn't got much to do with aggression or self ownership.

When abortion was not tolerated, it wasn't because non aggression had greater power than self ownership. It was because a woman who engaged in the practice was either destroying her husbands' and family's heir, which was not her call to make. Or, she had broken a social and moral norm in conceiving the child without a husband and then compounding the sin with a callous and unnatural act that goes against all the instinct of motherhood. Finally, a couple who consensually decided to destroy a child produced in marriage when they could have reared it must have seemed so morally inverted as to be scarcely understandable. In a world where so many pregnancies ended in miscarriage or infant death, for a couple to destroy their healthy children must have been horrific.

There was also no such thing as a safe abortion until last century, other than what might be better categorized as post-conception birth control. Think about it...

There has always been 'birth control,' just use your imagination. Including 'remedies' that must have seemed like "prevention" in the age before the science of conception or fetal development was understood. What difference was there between birth control and a day after or week after herbal remedy in the pre-scientific era? Who could know if the pregnancy had begun yet before there were outward signs? Birth control was a grey area surrounding the conception event, not necessarily attended with the kind of life/death moral questions we have today. Yes, there was surely social guilt, feelings of hiding something, doing something wrong, but it would have been of a different character since it was seen as birth prevention rather than abortion.

I doubt there was any pubic "enforcement" for such behaviors, except in blatant grievous cases of public and clear acts of deliberate destruction, later term. These must have been rare, secretive, difficult to establish, and a family's business that wasn't going to be publicly broadcast. Even a family that was horrified and ashamed would keep it a private matter. No one is going to investigate a miscarriage... who would accuse besides the family?

It is only an issue now because of abortion medical services. And that goes back to the culture. It is tolerated by the public as a safe outlet for situations which follow from morality and culture, not from this or that law. You can't legislate morality.

Today it is so much different. We don't feel the same about children, about family and marriage. The family bond is weaker, there is more privacy. The legal status of a pregnancy puts the decision 100% with the mother. It is anonymous, safe, and morally ambiguous.

The science is better understood, but it is no less a gray area where 'birth control' stops and 'abortion' starts. It is neither obvious nor morally striking for a non religious person, that conception is somehow the holy rubicon for life.

The moral issue of abortion goes so much deeper than the politicized soundbite world of "life begins at conception" ... The issue is much deeper, about a culture that values life and family or one that values individual atomism and privacy, casual sex and having children is a "me" question rather than a question of a sense of obligation to future/past generations.

Those are the real differences that get lost in the soundbites. As if the issue were really about the 10 minutes before and after conception, and that's what God really cares about?Come on, people.

Interjecting non aggression and self ownership into waters this muddy already doesn't seem to add much clarity, but makes things that much murkier.

you talk about casual sex

as if it were a bad thing

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus



I am not all that

interested in the history of abortion. I am not pro-abortion. I am interested in the size and scope of government. The size and scope of government is formulated by unwritten laws, rules, principles, and logic which people believe to be ethical.

wolfe's picture

If no one comments.. the thread will die...

So, even though I think we have done a good job of exercising each others arguments, I am gonna comment anyway. (You had me at truth table, lol).

I do understand your perspective, but I do disagree that the NAP and Self Ownership can ever be at odds. If they appear to be, generally, I think it is because we are missing something in the bigger picture. Sometimes this creates very nuanced but defensible arguments.

So let's look at what -I-(hint: opinion :) ) consider to be the origin of the NAP. The NAP doesn't exist for me as an ethical or moral principle to follow. It exists as the lowest common denominator among things that people can agree on. We all want to live, so we will suffer other people to live in exchange for our own life. If in fact, someone doesn't want to live, they will or already have removed themselves from life and therefore become irrelevant in the discussion. You are alive, therefore, you want to live.

Self ownership is merely an extension of this concept. All things have measurable value. What I produce/own is the exchange of a portion of my life for that item, and therefore by extension is protected by the NAP. I do not believe the concept of self ownership can truly exist without the protection of the NAP.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

I am

going to cite an excerpt from a comment I recently made in the other thread to make a point:

"Reason is not emotion and people sit upon prideful mountains of justice or rules of law precisely because they do not derive from emotion or animal instincts. A rule is akin to a ruler when used as a consistent tool to measure action comprising elements of persons, places, things, and time. If you have a sphere of human action with points of persons, places, things, and time upon it ... a rule becomes the line between two points which creates jurisdictions that can be triangulated within a sphere of human action and used to measure. Incidentally, I could probably explain the entire structure of a legal system in one picture using this analogy and adding beams of light to it which represent the trajectory of any given action."

That analogy is in terms analogous to energy. Having spent a great deal of time studying the legal system I perceive differently today than I did some years ago. Despite a lot of court hypocrisy there appears to me some clear, definable patterns in the world that can not be easily explained rationally. I think of something like the NAP in terms of a least path of resistance, something like self ownership akin to something like voltage, and will (ie. source of aggression) akin to something like amperes. I agree conflict is probably not a great term. Relationship is likely more technically appropriate.

All that said, I have not seen anyone try to provide an alternate description to the logic conveyed above describing any such relationship between self ownership and non-aggression. It isn't my logic. I am merely standing on the shoulders of other intellectual giants paraphrasing their work in boolean terms.

wolfe's picture


I would need to think on your comment a lot longer to decide whether or not I think it fits in my worldview. It is certainly thought provoking.

I have always viewed it as a tree structure with the NAP as the source and all subsequent principles being refined explanations of the NAP (or children of the NAP, etc).

I'll let you know my thoughts after I think through your comparison some more.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

To make a quick

useless analogy. Ohms law demonstrates I = V/R. Ohms law describes aspects of energy but nothing that could be compared to an ethical choice. Contrast that with a NAND gate substituting electrical variables. For silly argument sake let's make current (I) akin to human action, voltage (V) akin to self (ie. property/knowledge/potential, things that derive from self), and resistance (R) akin to will. That would make the NAND gate of least ethical resistance or most ethical choice something like:

R --->
........ --> I
V --->

I will send you a PM. Maybe we can do a Skype sometime.

ChristianAnarchist's picture

I've made it clear that I

I've made it clear that I think there's no place for "government" to be involved in abortion. If a woman wants to kill her fetus she needs to take that up with the Creator. I will not avenge the murder (and I think anytime you kill a human who is not attacking you it's murder). I'm not making this argument from a "holier than thou" position because I can think of instances where I would consider murder against someone and I fully believe that I would have to sit in front of our Creator to be judged. I stated before: A fetus is a trespasser = TRUE. Abortion is murder = TRUE. A fetus is a human being and can be scientifically proven by a DNA test. The cells are dividing which shows the fetus is alive.

Beware the cult of "government"...

A fetus can not possibly be

A fetus can not possibly be trespassing when two consulting people put it there. Gee wiz.

ChristianAnarchist's picture

Yes, of course you are right.

Yes, of course you are right. If the fetus is "invited" by the woman then trespass is not applicable. I'm using that here simply for the women who claim they don't want the fetus... Even if they willingly had sex I guess the argument could be made that they did not invite the fetus. It's entirely possible that some young girls really don't even understand how pregnancy occurs.

Beware the cult of "government"...

I'm guessing in most cases

I'm guessing in most cases people understand that pregancy is likely to happen after sex.

Again, how can it be trespassing when you put it there?

Acquired by Homesteading ....

“Children…may be controlled by parents, under a very different type of legal provision, not ownership, of course, but, rather, attainment and retention of guardianship rights. This means that as long as the parent is properly guarding, safe-guarding, caring for, bringing up, the child, he maintains his right to continue to do so.”

“How are these rights first established? In the good old fashioned way: through pregnancy and child birth of course. The parents in effect ‘homestead’ not of course any ownership over their children which do not and cannot exist, but rather guardianship rights over them.”

“May they give up these rights? Yes. To the extent a person may not give up, or sell, or relinquish rights, it is to that extent he does not really fully own them. If the parents do not continue to feed, clothe and otherwise care for their children, or abandon them, they lose these guardianship rights.”


It is one thing to argue if you homestead a right of guardianship it comes with an obligation to safely abandon or abandon without doing harm. It is another thing to argue there is some arbitrary vaginal/penis obligation deriving from an implied invitation to non-existence. In the former, responsibility follows rights but in the latter rights would only come after responsibility.