I'm trying to create a short litmus test to expose some inconsistencies in my liberal opponent's thinking. I have come up with 4 true or false questions relavent to current events:
1) Women have the right to birth control.
2) If women cannot afford birth control, the government should provide it for them.
3) Man has the right to bear arms.
4) If man cannot afford to purchase arms, the government should provide it for him.
Please critique this. Is it adequate? What are some of the likely responses from liberals? Thanks.
The only way one could (validly) argue with that is if it actually wasn't their position that having the right to birth control is the reason government should provide it.
But I doubt you'll find many where that's the case. To ensure against this, simply ask. "You believe government should provide birth control free of charge? Why?"
Once you have your answer, which probably will be something along the lines of "because it's their right as a woman" or something like that, then you can proceed.
The likely response you'll get is the default "well that's different!" When you ask for more explanation you'll get a bunch of irrelevant nonsense about how birth control doesn't kill people, or birth control is "necessary" for good health or at least that it's a wellness product and that you don't need guns to prevent pregnancy and regulate menstral flow, or some bullshit like that.
It's very rare that logic will phase someone who holds such beliefs. I think you're much better off (1) spending time persuading people who are much more inclined to your ideas...basically someone who is just a little more statist than you are, and is interested in the discussion and can reason. Pull them closer to your view of more freedom by opening their eyes to the problems that come with whatever level of statism they support. And in turn, question your own views, and talk to people who support even less statism than you do (if that's possible).
See here (and definitely follow the link trail from those first two threads in the OP).
For argumentation tips, see here and here.
Simply put, 1) and 3) are using the word 'right' when they actually mean 'freedom' or 'liberty' - unless they are using different terms, since 3) definitely means 'freedom' rather than 'right'. Thus if 1) and 3) are concerned with 'freedoms' due to the fact that 3) undoubtedly is, 2) and 4) are necessarily non sequiturs, regardless of whether one supports them besides that fact.
EDIT: In regards to JJ's point, the two situations could in fact be different - and I would say actually are. We know that 'right to bear arms' really means 'freedom to bear arms'. It's possible that by 'right to birth control' someone could mean - and most who employ the phrase probably do mean - that an actual legal obligation should fall upon the taxpayer to provide funds for this purpose, rather than simply a freedom to use birth control (the existence of which does not require any sort of law, of course). It would seem that the contradiction in fact lies in the definition of the word 'right' in 1) vs. its definition in 3).
Aristippus outlines the logical point that I was kind of getting at with my first sentence, so you will have to be mindful of that...however, anyone who is arguing from the postition of 1 & 2 is probably not going to logical enough to differentiate between those two understandings of "rights".
If they are, first you could press them on why exactly you have a "right" to birth control, but not a "right" to arms. They're both material objects that can help maintain your health. For most people it won't even get to that point, but if the person you're talking to is sharp enough to get there, this is where they're probably start dancing.
If they're really slick and find a clever way around that one, you could easily walk them through to the actual implications of the notion that individuals can have a "right" to any "stuff". The minute you claim someone has a right to "stuff", it effectively means that someone else has to provide it...which literally means slavery.
Either one group is subordinate to another group and has to supply them with goods that they themselves do not get, or, everyone has "a right" to the stuff...which essentially means everyone is a slave to everyone else....because obviously the stuff doesn't just come from nowhere like manna out of heaven. Someone has to produce it. And if everyone is entitled to get it without having to do anything for it (which is literally what a "right" in this sense means) then the only way to get the stuff is if everyone gets to force everyone else to make it for them. (which, of course, this second scenario never happens, because the whole idea in saying "everyone has a right to this" is to force people who are productive enough to acquire it on their own to pay also for those who cannot, or who just don't feel like it. So it's virtually always the same old "one group is indentured to another" slavery.
I think left-liberals claim to be in favour of acts between consenting adults (hence their support for legalization of prostitution, light drugs, pornography, etc.). But why are they not then in favour of "capitalist acts between consenting adults," for instance someone's right to consent to work for less than the prevailing minimum wage?
tunk:I think left-liberals claim to be in favour of acts between consenting adults (hence their support for legalization of prostitution, light drugs, pornography, etc.). But why are they not then in favour of "capitalist acts between consenting adults," for instance someone's right to consent to work for less than the prevailing minimum wage?
...Because capitalist acts are exploitative and always at least a little bit evil and dirty. The seller makes a "profit", which means he has exploited the buyer. But I act as a buyer every day because "what choice do I have?" I need the stuff I'm buying, so I guess I just have to bend over and take it. F-ing greedy capitalists.
The reason he/she would be most likely reject the analogy is that modern liberals will be more inclined to see the issue from an egalitarian perspective. Men cannot get pregnant, but women can, so in order for them to be "equal" women have the positive right to birth control, whereas most see the right to bear arms as a negative right or as not being a right at all. The left is going to be philosophically supportive of increasing assistance toward what they see as the oppressed or underprivileged classes. Above posters are also correct to emphasize the differentiation between the use of the word "right" in each case. Maybe a good precursor to debating the issue would be a question about where rights come from, and go from there.
Many leftists will disagree with 3).
Friedmanite:Many leftists will disagree with 3).
That's okay. They're also usually guilty of argument from authority and legal positivism, so it would be a great opportunity to use their own fallacies against them and respond with "it's in the Constitution!"
So I asked this question to a friend of mine that I knew would agree to the premise of question 3, as well as 1 and 2. Here is the direct conversation:
Friend: " I guess they have the some sadistic consequence, but I think population management holds more water in the argument. Do you not?
Me: "So your claim is that the government must provide for some rights, but not others? correct?"
Friend: "I know these are loaded questions, but yes, some things should be provided and some are not so vital."
Me: "There's nothing loaded about them, and you've answered my question just as I expected."
Friend: "It was loaded and of course I did... any rational person would."
From here on the conversation got derailed completely, but the bottom line is, he acknowledges the contradiction but really doesn't care. Apparently some rights are more important than others.
@Prime: Don't let him derail - the point is that if some rights take precedence over others, the question of which rights take precedence over which is not a value-neutral question. So your friend can't make a pretense of objectivity and assign a hierarchy of rights at the same time.
Give 'em hell!
"1) Women have the right to birth control.
4) If man cannot afford to purchase arms, the government should provide it for him."
The first two would be argued by the liberals to have positive and benevolent causes. We don't need more people walking the streets and its obvious that a person has the right to their own body.
Then they would claim that guns are different in that guns are expressly negative, whereas decreasing population growth, especially unwanted population growth, is clearly positive. Guns are dangerous to other people's well being, while birth control is not.
Therefore in the liberal mind: Increasing access to birth control increases utility, whereas increasing access to guns decreases total utility. Control over one's body is a human right, whereas control over dangerous objects are not.
My Advice: Do not use this argument! It's the kind of argument which, even if reasonable, makes libertarians look like crazies who jump off to wild conclusions based upon their insane convictions of equivocation which don't click for "normal" people. Use a different argument for consistency. For instance, I find the contradiction between the "liberal" opposing military intervention abroad, social planning other countries, while supporting economic and social programs, social planning at home. Does the government become wiser just because one uses guns? If the government can control the 17 trillion dollar economy then why can't it easily become the righteous policeman of the world?