Morality and Ethics of the Termination of Life.

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by proletarian, Jan 3, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ☭proletarian☭
    Online

    ☭proletarian☭ Guest

    Ratings:
    +0
    Okay, this is somewhat broad and I think that's what's needed. Looking at how people view homicide- willful and otherwise- and also matters pertaining to other animals, there seems to be great confusion over the underlying question: when is it acceptable to end life and when is it not?
     
  2. Cecilie1200
    Offline

    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    26,879
    Thanks Received:
    3,720
    Trophy Points:
    280
    Ratings:
    +7,052
    My personal opinion - which is all I can speak to, since your title said "morally and ethically" rather than legally - is that motive is everything. It's not a difficult formulation.

    Unborn children who are inconvenient - unacceptable
    Annoying spouses with large life insurance policies - unacceptable
    Mugger/rapist attacking you - acceptable

    The issues of war and capital punishment are more complicated. While they are both technically moral and ethical in my view, both are rather ugly and undesirable and to be avoided as much as possible and carefully hemmed in with firm boundaries.

    I know it is often argued that if one opposes abortion on the grounds of respect for the sanctity of life, that means that one must also oppose war and/or capital punishment. I don't consider that a respect for human life automatically translates into wanting to preserve all lives at all costs. Not all lives have equal claims on us in all respects.

    War should take place only for just cause, when there is no other, more effective means available. In a just war, enemy soldiers are killed in self-defense or in the defense of others against unjust aggression. It is deplorable that this is ever necessary, but when it is, it is morally acceptable.

    In the case of capital punishment, as I said on another thread, I consider it to be societal self-defense. In addition, I consider that my respect for life requires nothing less than the forfeiture of the murderer's life, either through life imprisonment with no chance of parole or through death in the most heinous of cases. Anything less would be to devalue the lives of those he killed and would not properly convey the true horror that such crimes should evoke.
     
  3. uscitizen
    Offline

    uscitizen Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2007
    Messages:
    45,941
    Thanks Received:
    4,791
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    My Shack
    Ratings:
    +4,807
    When is it acceptable to end life?

    When it interferes with profitable commerce.
     
  4. ☭proletarian☭
    Online

    ☭proletarian☭ Guest

    Ratings:
    +0
    Cecile,

    How do you feel the wrongness of taking life relates to the obligation, if there is any, to preserve life? Is refusing to help a man who is dying comparable to actively harming him? To what extent are medical professionals and society at large obliged to sustain the life of an individual?

    You said before that, in the abortion thread, that letting a life end is not the same as ending it. How do you view starving a person to death or letting them die of dehydration? Is letting someone who is 'braindead' in that 'higher' brain functions have ceased die slowly, though the brain stem is still keeping the heart and lungs going less objectionable than doing the same with someone who is merely comatose? If so, why?

    Is ending the life of a dog, an ant, a rabbit, or someone of a different nation or race more or less wrong morally than ending the life of your own kind? If so, should the law reflect this? Why or why not?
     
  5. Cecilie1200
    Offline

    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    26,879
    Thanks Received:
    3,720
    Trophy Points:
    280
    Ratings:
    +7,052
    No, refusing to take a hand in someone's life - or death, as the case may be - is not comparable to actively harming him. This is not to say that it is not (probably) morally reprehensible to allow someone to die when you could save him, but it is not on the same level as deliberately ending his life.

    Medical professionals, in my opinion, have taken on a greater responsibility toward their fellow men than the average person has. While I am generally loathe to establish blanket rules of "people must always do thus-and-so in all situations", I do believe that they should be held to a higher standard of obligation to help others within their capacity to do so, commensurate with the level of trust and respect that they are accorded.

    I don't know that society has an obligation to SUSTAIN someone's life, but it does have an obligation to protect people's lives from unjust deliberate termination. If it does not perform that most basic of functions, then nothing else it does has any real meaning at all.

    Withholding food from a helpless/handicapped person for whom you are responsible is, to me, actively ending his life. Letting someone who is, essentially, dead actually BE dead is not. A merely comatose person is not essentially dead. He is unconscious. He may be deeply unconscious, and it may be the considered opinion that he will never be conscious again, but that is just an opinion, and people in that condition have, on occasion, woken up. There's a big difference between stopping a machine that is doing the brain's work for it and basically animating a corpse, and withholding sustenance from a body whose brain is still performing basic functions.

    If I want my life to be viewed as intrinsically valuable, I must establish a precedent that ALL human lives are intrinsically valuable. For that reason alone, humans should value their own species above others. Which is not to say that the lives of lower species should be viewed with no concern or consideration at all, but they simply do not have an equal claim on us.
     
  6. ☭proletarian☭
    Online

    ☭proletarian☭ Guest

    Ratings:
    +0
    What do you mean, 'probably'? Is it morally reprehensible to your mind?
    Is it not a conscious decision to allow him to die? Do you mean that it is not a wrong, or merely that it is a lesser offense? Are not the many who ignorance Catherine Genevese's cries, instead turning the volume up on their TV at least partially responsible for what happened to her? Does not the man who allows evil to happen bear the stains of the blood he allows to be shed?
    Does protecting that life not extend to attempting to sustain it? Does not society's obligation to attempt to keep a criminal from shooting a random person not also imply some obligation to treat that person's wounds- or are we simply to turn away once the deed has been done?
    Does society as a whole have any such obligation, or only those who willfully incurit by choice of their profession? If society has no obligation to sustain life, do you object to taxes paying for public hospitals that are intended to preserve life and wellbeing?
    Is not the duty to pay taxes that keep such facilities open simply a means by which the untrained can fulfill their obligation to their fellow Man?

    Does society as a whole and does every citizen bear an obligation in your opinion to sustain that individuals life, either ethically or morally?
    Why do you say that only of human life? Also, why do you say 'if I want my life to be viewed as intrinsically valuable'? Do you mean to say your respect for human life is solely based on self-interest and the social contract, rather than on any moral objection to wanton slaughter?
    Why humans above others? What is your reasoning? Again, are implying that it is based only on the social contract and ethics, and not upon any moral a foundation? How would a hypothetical race of intelliigent extraterrestrials fit into your scheme?

    I was hoping there would be more participants in this discourse :/
     
  7. Cecilie1200
    Offline

    Cecilie1200 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    26,879
    Thanks Received:
    3,720
    Trophy Points:
    280
    Ratings:
    +7,052
    I say "probably" because all situations are different. It is theoretically possible to have a situation where it would not be morally reprehensible to stand aside and let nature, or fate, or whatever, take its course without interference.

    Not necessarily, whereas actively killing somene definitely is, with their death being the primary goal. Back to "motivation is everything".

    Probably wrong, generally a lesser offense, definitely a DIFFERENT one.

    Certainly, which is why it's morally reprehensible. However, the primary guilt and blame belong with the person who actually did the killing.

    For individuals? Maybe, maybe not. For society? Not really. The proper functions of society as a whole are limited, in my mind, to those things which MUST be done collectively because they cannot be done effectively on an individual basis.

    Society doesn't treat wounds. Individuals do.

    My preferences run thusly, in order:

    Personal responsibiliy for oneself by the patient
    Responsibility by family and friends of the patient
    Private charitable hospitals (responsibility taken by the community on a more individual level)
    Action taken on a governmental level

    You overestimate both how much obligation I think people have to total strangers AND how much I think it's appropriate to force that obligation unwillingly onto people. On the other hand, I think you underestimate how much obligation people are willing to take on themselves voluntarily without needing it forced.

    I don't say that only of human life, but in this case, we are speaking primarily of human lives, and I happen to be a human myself.

    You're skating perilously close to cutting and cherrypicking quotes in order to misrepresent what I said. I trust I won't have to warn you about this again. I think if you go back and look at my WHOLE quote, rather than just the partial sentence you selected, you will see that I never said that was the ONLY reason. It is merely the single one I chose to articulate at the moment.

    Why humans above others? What is your reasoning?[/QUOTE]

    My reasoning was already expressed, and then obscured by your narrow quoting. If you have no intention of reading with an open mind and honest desire to understand how I believe, but only to twist things to suit your agenda, we can end this discussion right now.
     
  8. ☭proletarian☭
    Online

    ☭proletarian☭ Guest

    Ratings:
    +0
    The problem I have with such statements is that it would imply that a man's actions cannot be objectionable in and of themselves. This would effectively mean that homicide, rape, or theft is never wrong, merely the reasons behind it. DO you really mean to imply such a thing, or must action and motivation both be taken into account?

    Are not most of those things- mutual defense, public roadways, et al- means of bettering the condition of the populace and each member thereof? Does a man bear no moral obligation in your mind to defend his neighbor or his neighbor's children?

    And society compensates them and provides the facilities and employs the specialists who treat wounds. Most hospitals in the U.S. are primarily paid for with 'public' (tax) dollars.

    And I'm trying to get you you state the rest. The point of this exercise iis to get and the underlying moral obligations one perceives. Again, how would a hypothetical alien race git into the picture?

    For what reasons, if any, outside of social contract and their ability to aid or act against you, do you elevate humanity above the other races of life?

    Also, what of a hypothetical non-biological race of intelligence, such as sentient machines? How would they fit into your philosophy?
     
  9. amrchaos
    Offline

    amrchaos Pentheus torn apart

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Messages:
    9,501
    Thanks Received:
    926
    Trophy Points:
    215
    Location:
    Miami
    Ratings:
    +2,573
    I do not think that suicide(or attempted suicide) is, in itself, unethical.

    Of course, there are cases where its practice/uses is unethical and illogical.
     
  10. uscitizen
    Offline

    uscitizen Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2007
    Messages:
    45,941
    Thanks Received:
    4,791
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    My Shack
    Ratings:
    +4,807
    The government is the only one allowed to permit someone to die or actually kill them?

    the final personal freedom of ending ones life is denied us?
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page