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'National' Euthanasia, if you will Dec. 29th, 2006 @ 12:01 pm
In this world of expanding populations and diminishing resources, do people believe we should continue to spend money, effort and time on those who can't enjoy quality of life. At the very least shouldn't they be able to interact satisfactorily. I am getting the strong impression that many can't even do that, and yet are being kept alive in, for instance, care homes for people with long term dementia. I am beginning to question, from some experience of working in a home, whether it is not cruel and flagrantly wasteful.

Nanobrains and Unemployment Sep. 17th, 2006 @ 05:31 am
Hello everyone. While I did also post this in neurophilosophy, I think something relating to the ethics of technology is fitting to ask about here.

While I was ranting about future evolution, jimboboz came in and started ranting about body enhancement technology (one of my interests). We've been debating a bit for a while (and I'll provide any links if anybody's actually interested). Right now, however, I'm asking about an entry where he replies to comments in my entry on the fairness of cybernetically enhanced brains (which in turn is based on a comment about how envy creates conflict).

Here's the thing, I'm not making any economic arguments one way or another, I'm arguing that improving body parts with technology won't be the End Of All Civilization. Here, Jim Bob is arguing that letting people be more efficient will force more people into unemployment, on the assumption that there is only a set amount of any particular job available. My intuition tells me that something's wrong with his argument, but I'd like the backing of other points of view. Would you mind reading the entry and giving me your appraisal?

moral obligation Apr. 29th, 2006 @ 06:32 pm
i have noticed this theme question that comes up in many ethical debates. people don't phrase it like this, because it's always just a small part of a big debate, but the question is this:

if we see something bad happening, but we do not actively contribute to the bad action, are we morally OBLIGED to do something to stop it? or, does "not contributing to the problem" exempt you from having to do anything to stop others from perpetuating the problem?

AND, if we ARE morally obliged to do something to stop these bad actions, then to what extent are we obliged to go to? i.e. what if doing our best to stop something bad from happening, involves risking our own lives, or risking our own freedom (eg. being put in jail as a result of stopping the bad action), or endangering our family member's lives, etc?

definition of "bad actions":
- something that we are PERSONALLY morally opposed to.
- something that is illegal
- something that we can forsee a flow-on of bad effects happening as a result

some examples of situations where this question comes up/could be asked:

eg.#1. vegans see the meat industry torturing and killing animals. vegan's believe this killing is wrong, and so they don't eat animals. BUT, is the vegan morally obliged to also actively try and stop others from killing animals?/try and prevent animals (in general) from suffering?

eg.#2. leaders of democratic countries see people being forced to live under dictorships. leaders of democratic countries believe dictatorships are wrong, so they would never lead their country like that. BUT, is the democratic leader morally obliged to actively try to overthrow dictators of other countries and make those countries democratic?

eg.#3. in WWII, "human rights for everyone" supporters could see the nazi's exterminating jews and people with disabilities. the "human rights for everyone" supporters believed that exterminating jews and people with disabilties is wrong, so they wouldn't personally do it. BUT, were those human rights supporters morally obliged to actively try to stop the nazi's from doing it? (this example is even more interesting because in many cases, people were put in the situation of "help exterminate jews or you will be killed" - were these people morally obliged to be killed so as to prevent themselves from contributing to the problem?)


the only exception i can think of, where this question is answered for us, is in the case of child abuse and people in positions of authority. (at least in australia) we have mandatory reporting laws which state that if a teacher/child care worker/police person/counsellor/etc becomes aware, or even has reason to SUSPECT that child abuse is occuring, they are LEGALLY OBLIGED to report it, and authorities are then legally obliged to investigate it. so, this takes away the question of moral responsibility, because it has already been decided for us.

however, that situation does raise an interesting point. WHY are these people legally obliged to report child abuse? if they don't report it, WHY are they then considered part-responsible for the abuse? and if we morally accept this law, WHY does this conclusion not always follow in other situations where the victim is powerless?

does anyone else have knowledge of any other laws that mandate people to actively try and stop "bad actions"? like, if we have information that suggests a murder is going to take place, are we legally obliged to report it? if we don't report it are we considered part-responsible if the person does get murdered?

i guess there's that line in court that mandates that people promise to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", and it would follow that in actively telling the truth you are acting to stop a bad thing from happening (or 'happening again').


my personal stance on this is not quite concrete.

i know what my belief is around animal cruelty. but in terms of the other examples i raised, i haven't formed my position on them yet.

i believe that if we are morally opposed to an action, then we are morally obliged not to take part in that action, IF through doing so, we are not significantly harmed in the (non)process ourselves. for example, i believe that being morally oposed to unnecessary cruelty to animals, i am morally obliged not to contribute to causing unnecessary cruelty to animals (that is, i am obliged to be vegan as doing so does not harm me). however, I DON'T THINK that i am morally obliged to devote my life to stopping unnecessary animal cruelty. i believe that it would be GOOD and ADMIRABLE should i choose to invest energy/money into stopping unnecessary animal cruelty, however, as i am not actively contributing to the problem, i am not OBLIGED to fix it.

it troubles me that i don't feel as convinced of this view point when it comes to the other examples i raised. i swing back and fouth and all over the place with what i think about them.

i know that i could not go to war to die/risk my life for someone else's freedom, i.e. the freedom of someone i've never met (baring in mind that the freedom of people in my community is not in direct threat in this example). i believe i would be a useless soldier, i would curl up in a corner and cry. but does that necessarily mean i wouldn't morally LIKE TO be able to die/risk my life for someone else's freedom? no, it doesn't answer the question either way.

i would like to think that if someone held a gun to my head and told me to kill another person, otherwise i would be shot, that i would choose not to shoot the person. but realistically, i don't think i would. i would probably shoot the person dead, particuarly if i didn't know them. but i can think of reasons to justify the ethics of me killing that person. for example, in the case of WWII, imagine i (a non jew) was being asked to kill jews. it could be in the best interests of THE OVERALL CAUSE if, in that moment, i killed jews, because, i would then still be "free" and "alive" and in a position to do something to potentially stop more killing of jews. where as, if i didn't kill the jews, and got killed myself, i am then no use to anyone, and neither is the jew, as they will be killed anyway. but, would i only be morally justified in killing the jew, IF i intended to take action to try and prevent further killings of jews once my life was not being immediately threatened. IF on the other hand, i was only killing the jews to save my own life, is that a fair justification?

i would like to think that if i was alive in WWII and i had knowledge of hitlers where-abouts or knowledge of some other bit of info that could help bring down the nazi's, then i would have told the appropriate people, but if i had thought that this could cost me my life... would i have? or would i have quietly gone about my life trying to keep a low profile?

the thing that bothers me is: if i would "like to think" that i would've done something to prevent jews from being killed, and the only thing that gets in the way of me saying that i would DEFINITELY do something, is the fact that my life would be at risk, then does it follow that: if my life was not put in danger through doing so, i would be morally obliged to try and stop jews from being killed in WWII? and if that does follow, then why is it morally permissible (to me) for me to NOT ACTIVELY do something to prevent people from unnecessarily harming animals? basically, in holding those two moral positions, it could then be concluded that i place human life above animal life. where as, logically, i cannot justify that. (i.e. logically i can't accept that humans should be given more rights than animals).


any comments on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Essay Apr. 3rd, 2006 @ 01:47 pm
Hello I'm new. :)
I have to write an essay discussing a film with an obvious ethical dilemma. I can't seem to find a film in my collection that seems to work, maybe i'm just thinking about it too much. I was wondering if any of you would have some suggestions? I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!
Current Mood: confusedconfused

Class Assignment Mar. 10th, 2006 @ 09:09 pm
for once, im not someone asking for homework help.  i have already done the assignment, but i thought that i would post it here for the sake of discussion:

assignment: Please discuss if you think there should or should not be a weight limit in which neonatal care is given or withheld at the time of birth.  For example, should a 1 pound neonate be given all the medical treatment available and should every effort be made to keep this infant alive or should the expensive resources be spent on saving the lives of children who may have a better chance of a full life, such as increasing the immunization rates?

my responseCollapse )

so, questions?  comments?  alternate viewpoints?  opinions on my 'debate style'?
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Other entries
» syllabus suggestions?
Howdy folks,
I'm rounding off a syllabus for a class teaching applied ethics via pop culture (specifically episodes of Stargate:SG-1), and am still sifting thru potential readings for a few topics. I thought I'd see if anyone has any suggestions... :) Specifically, I'm looking for short (no more than 40 pages) chapters or essays on just war theory, eugenics, and medical ethics in a broad sense. I have about 15 books I'm en route to sift through, but hey - figured I'd see if anyone had some favoured readings they think should be inflicted on the world at large. I'll put the readings and paired episodes/information I do have established behind a cut tag, for those interested in seeing the entire kit'n'kaboodle...

SyllabusCollapse )
» Utilitarianism, Reproduction, and Adoption
1) according to utilitarianism, when is reproducing ethically desirable?  does one ever have an ethical obligation to or not to reproduce?  (textbook interpretations as well as your own interpretations are welcome)

2) according to utilitarianism, is adoption a) ethically superior to reproducing, b) an ethical equal to reproducing, or c) ethically inferior to reproducing?  why and under what conditions?  (again, if you can find any professional articles on this subject, they are welcome, as are your own interpretations)

i ask this question as someone who generally follows singerian/utilitarian ethical principles and will eventually be faced with the decision between reproducing and adopting a child. 
» (No Subject)
So what are your thoughts on this?

A model was in a car accident. She is 20. She is paralyzed from the neck down. She needs a machine to regulate her breathing and she is on dialysis. She asks her father to help her end her life. She is rational and mental competent. What should her father do?

Now, my group said he should help her carry our her wishes to kill herself. We all agreed on that. I would be interesting in hearing other people's opinions. Do you all think our position is morally right? Or are we "godless monsters" as one of my classmates so eloquently stated?
» Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest
Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let you know about an amazing opportunity for college students passionate about ethics-- the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest. The first prize is $5000, and it is a great way to explore ethical issues, so I'm sure all of you would be ideal applicants. Here's some information about the Contest:

Now entering its 17th year, the Prize in Ethics Essay Contest is an annual competition designed to challenge college students to analyze the urgent ethical issues confronting them in today's complex world.
Full-time juniors and seniors at accredited four-year colleges and universities in the US are welcome to enter the Essay Contest and compete for $10,000 in prizes and the opportunity to meet Elie Wiesel in New York City.
The postmark deadline is Friday, December 9, 2005.

You can find additional information at www.eliewieselfoundation.org, and you can leave me a comment if you have any questions!
» (No Subject)
I recently created the community: bioethics. If anyone is interested in posting news articles, essays, commentary, and discussions related to bioethics, including such issues as: abortion, animal experimentation, artificial insemination, circumcision, cloning, eugenics, genetic engineering, homosexuality, population control, stem cell research, and transhumanism, please join. Professional and non-professional bioethicists and/or ethicists would be much appreciated as well as students of bioethics and/or ethics. Also, anyone who’s just interested in the topic (such as myself) are more than welcome.

If community promotion is against the rules, I'll be more than happy to remove this post.
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