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What price life?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by dong, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. dong

    dong New Member

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    I note that there haven't been many new threads lately, so I'm going to go nuts and post more stuff as often as I can for a while.

    The following comes from a blog affiliated with NewScientist:

    Source: http://www.newscientist.com/blog/shortsharpscience/2006/10/what-price-life.html


    My response to the moral quandrary is this: I think this case is another reflection on the cultural rise in the valuation of life. The statement "one cannot buy life" meaning, rather that "one should not put a monetary value on life" has been becoming more reality and less platitude, as medical advancements are now such that these cases are not only possible but a rapidly growing number. The same applies to the other end- geriatrics and a heightened life expectancy and thus cultural expectations and demand, and also to those who have previously fatal congenital disorders.

    The reality however is that economic and resource cost is only one of the measures by which the value of a human life is considered. The biggest mistake made my most people is in presuming that "human life" is somehow a value separate from all these things, when in fact it is ultimately involved as the culmination and aggregation of all these factors. We therefore cannot justifiably assert that we are being governed by a greater moral principle when one says that one should keep a life at all costs- the burden of the consideration always comes back to those making the decision. It inevitably becomes a matter of egoism, then, regardless of what moral agency and arguments of 'potential gains' that one might grant upon the subject in question. Besides, the question of potential is largely dependent on the contingencies.

    But of course this might seem a bit harsh, or cold. What are your views?
     
  2. lizakollman

    lizakollman New Member

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    wow. that is extremely interesting.

    i guess that in this case i would think that something greater is at work. apparantly the parents were supposed to be the catalysts that got her to stay alive, but she's meant to be raised by soemone else. i think it it is a terrible situation, and it is very sad.
     
  3. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    I find it disgusting that the parents are described as 'infrequent visitors'. But as stated above, this is interesting. I disagree however that each life isn't as valuable, which is a view that has been held for some time. I feel that this little girl, no matter how sickly or costly, should have the right to live. It's morbid to let her die, especially for economic reasons. I feel that an economy should support all it's subjects in times of distress, and this is certainly one of those times. If we allow her to die because of money, what's to stop us from going to the hospital for mild injuries, and even severe?
     
  4. Agaric

    Agaric New Member

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    When a couple has a conscious choice to have a child, then they should WEIGH their options and resources before they pop one out. If people have only been married for a short time, then they should wait a few years. If they don't have the income or the time to devote to successfully raising a child, then they shouldn't have one. If they want to have a fun little plaything that they can give a stupid Hollywood name, then they can get a damn pet.
     
  5. dong

    dong New Member

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    Okay, but let's throw two spanners into the works. First, I claim that there are no such things as inherent human or animal "rights" per se, they only apply as a common formal consideration of how we should treat others- and how compelled we are as a whole to practice this. Second, the implications of your position turn paradoxical when considering the question of abortion. How do you propose to answer that?

    I'm afraid I don't follow that one. Also- I did say that economics was only one vector of consideration and too often the only one considered in such discussions.
     
  6. Furious George

    Furious George New Member

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    I feel that human and animal rights are essential. Exploitation of these rights in instances other than survival are outright wrong. I'm pretty sure Locke was on the money, as were other Enlightenment thinkers. If we allow human and animal rights to be ignored, or even forgotten, I'm afraid we'd be living in an anarchaic bloodshed.

    I see abortion in a light most people don't-if we don't allow women to abort their children, this will only lead to millions in uncollected child support money, and a rise in dead-beat dads. These mothers will then be partner-less, job-less, and without any income. Welfare will inevitably rear into the picture, and where does this get us? Sure, you can say abstinence or birth control, but accidents happen, and desire is more powerful than willpower these days. Another negative effect of pro-life is the fact that maybe a mother just isn't ready to have a child. Imagine the outcome of a situation like this?

    I was presenting you with a paradigm-if we allow an economic mindset to dictate all of our decisions, what's to stop us from getting a potentially life-saving surgery which of course is quite expensive? This also begs the question; are medical professionals over-paid?
     
  7. framed

    framed New Member

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    The "if we do X whats to stop us from doing Y" argument has never made much sense to me. Our brains stop us from doing Y if Y is wrong. Because Y is a different decision from X we can make it independently.

    Its not valid to discount economic considerations. Unless you know something I don't, we have limited economic resources. Given that we have to decide how to use those resources appropriately. If prolonging this girls life costs you as much money as it would cost you to save 100 other lives (say by using the money to improve speed bumps or hire more police or something) can you honestly say we should spend the money on her just because she happens to be in the news?

    I agree with you George that people have a right to life, but theres a difference between "right to life" and "right to unending levels of extraordinary support to keep you alive" If you have a national policy that says "every individual is entitled to life saving support costing in excess of the amount of taxes they ever have or ever will pay" how will you pay for it? Everyone dies, and we could spend millions (per person) extending each of those lives hours to years. You have to be able to draw the line.

    Ultimately its a zero sum game, if you want to provide something like that you have to be able to pay for it. In the case of unlimited life saving medical support, its simply to expensive to just grant to the entire population without limitation.

    Dong to your question - I would suggest taking a top down view to establish what percentage of the tax base should be used for nationalized health care. Then allow that pot of money to be administered to do the largest amount of good possible for the largest amount of people possible. If that excludes certain conditions or individuals those people would still certainly be free to purchase their own health care.

    Once you start thinking of it that way you can start making constructive decisions like "this money will do more good being spent on health care than on a 700 mile fence, lets spend this money on health care"
     
  8. lizakollman

    lizakollman New Member

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    This whole thing just bothers me. I totally agree with you - it is disgusting that the parents don't feel that they should visit very often.. I think in this case the best thing for them to do is to sign over their parental rights to either adoptive parents or some sort of organization that will look out for the little girl's best interests.
     
  9. dong

    dong New Member

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    On a social level, I think you are partially right on the grounds that most people will simply not be able to appreciate the intricacies of the point I am driving at here. My quibble is one firmly couched in the critical sectors of philosophy, where the precision of knowing exactly what entails what have broader implications on the entire moral framework- namely it dictates how I should go about my moral commentary, such that my consideration is more on a case-by-case basis and is more consequentialist in nature. This allows me to give what I see as a more proper regard to contextuality.

    That said, I am not certain or even convinced that were we to have no concept of rights talk, that we would be living in an anarchic bloodshed. I'm not really sure that anything much would change at all, come to think of it. And, as I demonstrate below, the universal rights talk can often be a hindrance in moral dilemmas.

    Which is exactly where the classic paradox lies. On one hand, you claim rights extends to all those who can be considered alive. This implies that we have an obligation not to abort children otherwise, due to the broadly prescriptive nature of your assertion, you are obliged to find some principle by which it is acceptable- i.e. the great divide of "when a life becomes a life".

    Also I note that you've expressed the argument almost solely in economic terms. Obviously, though, it does imply the reduced ability to provide a child with the stable network of relationships and enriched environment that we consider prerequisites to a satisfactory childhood.

    I'm still not following your train of thought here because I don't know how this addressed the original post. My initial criticism was in part levelled against the habit of using economic criteria as the primary and often the only factor in debates regarding life. It appears to have become much the case here because this thread has attained a discernibly utilitarian flavor.

    Relative to what? If anything, the income distribution across the profession and across the world (within the profession) is unevenly skewed. Some doctors are blantantly overpaid. Others are blatantly underpaid (this also means taking much longer across the board than any other professional career path to become self-sustaining). But as to how to decide that requires consideration of things beyond the scope of this present discussion.

    Minor anally-retentive quibble here- I'd like for us to consider what the judgment of Y(wrong) entails, and so I think that'd be "our brains stop us from doing Y if we percieve Y to yield less benefits according to our axiology than the alternatives."

    Otherwise I believe Framed actually frames much of my argument quite nicely: Life and investment in a life necessarily entails a tension- the expense of others.

    Regarding (back to) economic considerations of the distribution of national capital, as is my habit, I appreciate that it's impossible to cater to absolutely everybody so it's just as much a conundrum for me to think about how one can deal with those who will inevitably not be covered.
     
  10. wondering

    wondering New Member

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    Wait, just because the parents split there's an argument that the doctor should have let the child die? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
     
  11. tater03

    tater03 New Member

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    I think it is terrible divorce or no divorce that the parents are not visiting their child. As for whether or not she should be takin off of life support I believe this should be the parents decision and no one elses. From what I am understanding at the time of the decision to keep her on life support their relationship was stable. Now as for the comment that you should be the one to pay for it if you choose to do this, I feel is wrong. I understand where the comment comes from but then you would have only the rich being able to decide that their childs life is viable and that to me is wrong.
     
  12. hokeshel

    hokeshel New Member

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    I agree with you, Wondering. Somehow the child's life is now less relevant? Her condition may compound the difficulties of the divorce but, she is still human.
     
  13. dong

    dong New Member

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    I see that people have pointed out the obvious incongruity between the questions being asked and the actual situation it was derived from, so I'll say this: One should at least attempt to understand the conditions and circumstances behind a divorce as caring for any person who is unable to support themselves or has a disability is a significant strain, and this affects relationships to the point where it is better that the parents split. This is a common phenomenon, and I wager that it would be one of those situations where blame is not an option.
     
  14. luvcamerasnic

    luvcamerasnic New Member

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    Ok, in a society where we have the medical technology to keep just about anyone alive, we have to come to a point when we decide that enough intervention is enough. I am not sure when that point is, but if someone is living in a completely comatose state, cannot breathe, eat, or even think, are they really alive? Yes, I know it is a rabbit trail, but something I was thinking about.
     
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