Alan Keyes
Erasing gender endangers unalienable right
The high cost of abandoning 'the authority of empirical science'
By Alan Keyes
June 7, 2016

Insofar as the life of the American people requires a basis in common humanity for recognizing and evaluating empirical facts, America's Founders made empirical science the practical standard for our factual judgments. Empirical science has increased in importance as knowledge derived from it has become the context for an ever increasing proportion of our everyday life and commerce. The main premise of empirical science is that Nature operates according to laws that may give rise to reliable empirical knowledge of physical things, if and when our experience of them is systematically observed, logically analyzed, and accounted for.

With this in mind, what should we do if a person or group of people were to assert, on the basis of feeling and will, that they are totally owned by other persons; that they and their offspring exist to provide all manner of labor and personal services to those others and to call them their masters; and that they are bound to act at their masters' behest without remuneration, no matter how detrimental or dangerous the commanded actions may be to their own life and health?

This would effectively re-introduce slavery into the United States, of course, for all people willing to identify as slaves. But it would also suspend all lawful protection for them, with respect to both the Constitution and ordinary criminal and civil law. Moreover, what if they demanded to be treated by others according to their own self-willed identity? So they passionately protest against any effort of law enforcement that interferes with their slavery. Moreover, they insist that everyone else in the society must call them slaves; that those who refuse to do so damage their self-esteem, as individuals and as a group; and that this disparagement is a violent act.

They go to court, insisting that this disparagement of their self-willed identity be prohibited by law, along with the even greater offense of using any gesture, word, or manner of speaking that suggests they are not enslaved, but free. The self-willed slaves also demand that all public accommodations be reconfigured to provide separate facilities for slaves and non-slaves – because, as slaves by nature, they are forbidden to eat, drink, or relieve themselves using facilities frequented by their masters.

A simple question: Would it make sense for the government and people of the United States, or its respective states, to agree to the demands of this group of self-professed slaves? To do so would appear, on the face of it, to deny that equality under the law which the principles and provisions of the U.S. Constitution require in respect of all human persons. Can we agree to abrogate that respect for persons simply because the people in question demand that we do so? By doing so we would countenance rape, murder, and all the other abuses associated with absolute slavery.

We already know from our experience with illegal immigrants that people can be induced by their circumstances to accept living in what amounts to slavery, with all its attendant personal abuses. This raises the possibility that, once the law accepts agreements that dispense with the personhood of individual human beings, the appearance of agreement, even though extorted by means of circumstantial fear, would give license to the expansion of human slavery.

This is why the rights the American Declaration of Independence holds to be every human being's endowment from God are called "unalienable." That word means that no human person can agree to surrender such rights; they are intrinsic to humanity itself. In terms of the Declaration, they are not a function of individual human will, but of the will of the Creator, God.

To claim such rights would still be problematic if there were no way, generally accepted as reliable, to recognize a human being as such. But because human beings have a physical form, this is precisely the kind of knowledge empirical science can reliably provide. These days it can do so more conclusively than ever, thanks to the discovery and decipherment of the genetic code that accounts for the distinctive physical form of our humanity.

So these days, we can reliably conclude that, despite superficial physical differences, people as different as black and white are nonetheless all recognizably human. We could therefore say to people who demand to be treated without regard for their humanity that we cannot take their self-willed identity as a basis for excluding them from the human race, since their self-will conflicts with the fact of their humanity established by the empirical science we commonly accept as a source of reliable factual knowledge.

Now carefully consider this question: What becomes of the authority of empirical science, in respect of our laws, if and when we agree, as a people, to acquiesce in laws and judgments that simply reject and disregard a fundamental feature of humanity firmly established by empirical science as a matter of fact?

The distinction between male and female human beings is just such an empirically known, scientifically established fact. If feelings and willful self-conceptions can now give rise to conclusions, enforced by law, that fly in the face of such well-known, scientifically established empirical fact, this effectively abandons our common standard for practical judgments. But this abandonment not only casts doubt on the gender distinction. Since the authority of empirical science is also the basis for factually recognizing our common humanity, it also undermines that factual recognition.

So if and when, by dint of violence or fear, our people agree to surrender the rights intrinsic to their humanity, to call themselves slaves and live in subservience to those who have overpowered their will (as populations throughout the earth have done since time immemorial), the scientifically verified fact of our common humanity will no longer stand in the way of that abject surrender of personhood.

If the people of the United States agree to discard the logic of empirical science by which our common humanity comes to light, that logic will no longer be available to verify the factual basis on which all human persons may lay claim to their God-endowed unalienable rights. With no agreed-upon basis for recognizing humanity as such, the rule of right, as endowed by God to each and every human being, will hang in suspense.

If past human experience is any indication, it will quickly be supplanted by the rule of fear and self-conceit, imposed by power without regard to any application of right all human beings may claim. The whole foundation of government of, by, and for the people will be undermined – all so that a few people can force everyone in our society to worship some identity they ascribe to themselves, though it flies in the face of empirical fact, scientifically established. Isn't this rather too high a price to pay so that a few may be publicly secure and happy in the identity of their self-willed self-conceit?

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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