Bodily Integrity Arguments and Misapplications

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People have the unfortunate tendency of favoring reasoning that is favorable to their preferences. Once an individual encounters the same logic applied to a position they disagree with, the application is assumed to be invalid. The abortion debate is no different in this respect. Pro-Choice advocates basing their stance on the logic of bodily integrity must be willing to extrapolate this same principle to other situations. Anything else would merely be convenient cherry-picking.

For example, advocating for choice regarding bodily integrity also applies to several other controversial topics. Such subject areas include drug use, the right to commit suicide, and objections to vaccine mandates, to name a few. Despite any Pro-Choice advocate’s misgivings about permitting the listed rights above to be consistent, they must begrudgingly accept that these are rights that cannot be prohibited by law. Any counterargument or suggestion to criminalize the above positions is a deviation from the logic of bodily integrity. Permitting an activity does not mean you believe it is moral. Moreover, this argument is predicated on an externalities argument; in a rash attempt to weigh the societal costs.

However, many Pro-Choice proponents may then surmise that individuals defending the decision to use drugs, commit suicide, and decline immunizations must accept abortion as a permissible procedure. Reverse application is not quite so linear and has several complications. Indeed, abortion presents a predicament for exponents of a Lockean conception of self-ownership. In one sense, abortion violates the Lockean notion of self-ownership. As Locke asserts that we cannot “… nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other… or take away the life or property of another..”(p.43)[1].

If we define the fetus as a living being, there is a conflict between the mother and the unborn child. Drug abuse, refusing immunization, and suicide confines direct bodily harm to the individual making the decision, thereby comporting with the tenants of the Non-Aggression Principle. Although, even in a legal sense, living children do not have rights[2] as they are under the guardianship of their parents. Also, if we truly own ourselves, can’t we choose which procedures we can have performed on our bodies? There is no easy solution to this complex and taxing quandary. 

Foot Notes:

1.) I omitted the portion of the quote regarding self-destruction. This portion of the doctrine is wholly illegitimate. If we own bodies, we have a right to dispose of ourselves; if God exists, he transferred our spirit to our corporal bodies. Through this transfer, God relinquishes ownership of our essence extending to us full possession of our bodies. Meaning we can maintain our physical bodies how we see fit, including but not limited to drug use and suicide.

2.) See Rothbard pages 97-113.

Focal Points- II: Roe V. Wade (1973)

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The seminal Supreme Court case Roe V. Wade (1973) is a textbook example of a game-theoretical focal point. Why? Roe like many other Supreme Court rulings operates as an unspoken point of convergence in public policy. Ideally, such decisions made by the high courts should clarify the existing laws. In theory, the application of the law is the attempt to apply static statutes to dynamic circumstances. Generating ample opportunities for ambiguity and other categories of confusion regarding the administration of law. These cases generally serve as centering fixtures of public policy debates. After all, there are typically steep penalties for violating the law. If a law is flawed or otherwise unjust it can be amended or repealed, providing use revisions have gone through the proper channels. Making such court decisions a common destination of all pundits regardless of their stance on abortion. Endowing this infamous court decision with all of the unique characteristics of a focal point. No formal coordination or communication is required to reference this court case in the abortion debate, for decades it has been the centerpiece of all the contemptuous verbal sparring matches.

In many regards, Roe is unique even from the standpoint of being a Schellingian focal point. Even individuals lacking the proper understanding and context of the legal and normative arguments if the debate knows the case. Maybe not a bit of the factual or legal details of the case, but they know it by name. It is long been know as being synonymous with the legal justification for abortion. Many pro-choice and pro-life advocates use this case as a springboard to crafting normative positions either defending or repudiating the legality of this controversial procedure. Oddly enough, most of these talking points craft from a superficial understanding of the case has little to no legal substance, it degenerates into an ethical debate. Ethical justifications are also important but signify a conflation between normative and positive arguments. This an all too common occurrence in just about any political debate, the confusion between hard facts and ethics. Despite the common misconceptions regarding the abortion debate, without any formal coordination, even the arm-chair pundit looks towards Roe for the basis of their arguments.

Even people who are not interested in nor have an invested interest in the abortion debate, colloquially know Roe as the “abortion case”. Demonstrating how culturally in the United States this one Supreme Court decision from the 1970s has taken on a life of its own. Whether its legal significance is overblown is almost immaterial, but a matter to be debated among proper jurists. The significance or the salience of the focal point is culturally constructed. This isn’t to say that the moral arguments surrounding the debate are subjective. Rather, points of reference are most certainly subjective, but what makes them centralized or significant is a consensus of its importance. There is certainly a democratization effect that takes place in the establishment of culturally relevant focal points. The actual importance of the case is not nearly important as its perceived significance. A lot of Roe cultural clout was most likely sustained due to the decision being sandwiched between the cultural liberalization of the 1960s and the nascent period of feminism. It’s difficult to surmise if this ruling was made at a different point in time that it would possess the same degree of gravity. The cultural tides of the 1960s and 1970s provide the fertile substrate for such a contentious issue to be in the Supreme Court docket. These temporal and cultural aspects of the 1970s made Roe the ideal cause to be a focal point. In the decades since it has remained a consistent point of reference that also doubles as a divisive cultural event. Mirroring the same contentions of the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights movement.

Bootleggers & Baptists: Volume 1

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Below are the first ten blog entries of the Bootleggers and Baptists series on the Inverted Logic Blog. Going forward collective volumes of the series will be published for every ten blog posts, composing a volume. These volumes include supplemental essays and  addendums written within the timeframe of the corresponding blog posts.

Essays 1-10:

Bootleggers & Baptists- Part I- Gun Control Act of 1968

Bootleggers and Baptists Part II- Netflix is One of the Winners of COVID-19

Bootleggers and Baptists- Part III: Holy Rollers and The Beer Industry Take On Pot Legalization in The Bay State

Bootleggers & Baptists IV: Good Cop, Bad Cop. Qualified Immunity

Bootleggers and Baptists Part V: Occupational Licensing- Arizona Edition

Bootleggers & Baptists Part VI: Unlikely Foes of Universal Medicine

Bootleggers and Baptists VII: Jones Act

Bootleggers & Baptists VIII: Can The Bootlegger and The Baptist Be The Same Person: A Drive-Thru Revelation

Bootleggers and Baptists IX: Ballot Access Laws- An Example of A Dual Role Actor

Bootleggers and Baptists X: Marijuana and Taxes

Supplemental Content:

Dual-Role Actor- A Fresh Look At Bootlegger and Baptists Dynamics- Pending Acceptance by The Journal of Brief Ideas

Dual Role Actor Thesis Published by The Journal of Brief Ideas

Letter to Bruce Yandle: Dual Role Actor Dynamic: Bootleggers and Baptists

Letter to Bruce Yandle- Dual-Role Actor Dynamic

Bruce Yandle’s Reply

My Response to Bruce Yandle