>Do you think your life has more worth/value than that held by others? If not then what stops us signing a donor card and committing suicide?

>Please don’t take this question as advice. It was on the TV show House and I thought it made a good debate.

6 comments

  • >I think this question needs to be tackled from three angles: the neutral perspective, the group/family one, and the personal one.From the neutral perspective it is hard to judge whose life has more value. Essentially it all depends on what that value is judged against. Take a diamond ear ring for instance. That ear ring may have insurmountable value to someone who can wear it, but to me it would have only the value at which I could sell it or the replacement value of another gift that I might give to someone in its stead. So human life can equally have insurmountable value, or even a negative one depending on your perspective. I take the view that value should be measured against the amount you're able to increase positive emotions and/or decrease negative ones. Unfortunately though we once again hit a wall. This value is still subjectively decided. So if we cannot distinguish the relative values of different people I must conclude that from a neutral perpective all people are equal. This implies two things: number one is that sacrifice for only one person would be a zero-sum outcome and therefore pointless (exceptions may apply); and number two is the age old proverb that you should not do something that would be bad for others to copy i.e. if everyone did it then we'd all be dead!From the family/group perspective you may be able to have a big role in the world at large but you will always have a bigger role within your family/group of friends/tribe etc. There have been many people who have throughout history been labelled 'great' for their impact on the rest of humanity when their home life was much worse. You can spread love and kindness to a thousand people but your impact on their lives will still probably add up to a small percentage of what they experience say 1%. Whereas the impact on your family is much greater, say 75%, and it is possible for you to have an extremely detrimental impact on the happiness of those people whom you share a great deal of your life with. Basically what I am saying here is that creating extreme misery in one person can outweigh slight increases in happiness for many people. Suicide always creates misery with loved ones, and that misery outweighs any postive emotional outcome of a new organ for a hospital.Then from a personal perpective we should perhaps be more selfish. We obviously are anyway so I'm sure this isn't a great shock. Basically, it is all very well to preach putting others before yourself, but if you're not happy then you will become a burden on others. Society is like a series of circles and you cannot be a truly effective part of one without being an effective part of the one below. The first circle is you yourself. If you aren't happy then at least part of your contribution to the circle outside will be negative. If you don't help in your family/group of friends they will begin to resent you (even if only at the subconscious level) and others from outside circles will eventually look in and see a weakness to exploit. So we must be selfish from time to time (in an ideal world only in cases where our gained happiness exceeds that lost by others but obviously this is next to impossible to judge).

  • >No time for a long essay but – I think most people would agree that their life has no more worth than any other persons. What stops people from commiting suicide and donating their organs is fear of dying -this means that we are all essentially cowards or 'human'. This makes people who believe in life after death bigger cowards (and while i'm at it retarded :0)). We could go into whether or not people who have made more of a positive impact on the world have more worth than others – but should we take into account what they may do in the future as well? This might turn out to be impossible – we will never know everything (although I would like to think I will learn everthing after I die – I know how to seperate desire, belief and reality(this makes me right and unhappy, as apposed to wrong and happy – see previous postings). It's not peoples fault they are stupid or ignorant etc. Therefore it's not their fault if they have less worth than others. Therefore it is probably unfair to act upon 'worthiness' information. On the other hand in my future eutopia these people need to all be shot anyway so the greater good should prevail. Should the ends justify the means? well that is always subjective – for some people it does, for others it doesnt – there is never an objective yes or no. I might add more after the sleeping tablets have worn off. If I wrote a book do you think people would buy it? – or be so horrified and unwilling to peer into their own 'souls' that they dismiss it?

  • >ps I think one of the reasons that this question has limited answers is that people don't like to think about it – it's like they automatically switch off with some of these questions because it makes them feel uncomfortable – perhaps because on some level they already know the answer will be unfavourable to them. instead they will use the time up by having another baby to try and make themselves happy again .Disgusting. I am going to live as a monk – wish i had ther courage

  • >I think that in some instances the ends do justify the means. Lets face it this is the way of the world. If you always mean well, and work harder than anyone else in your company it would be fair to promote you. But if you're unproductive and have a negative impact on others you have to go. So sometimes the ends do justify the means. The problem is, and this is where I come back to agreeing withyou, that in terms of life and death the stakes are increased. When the stake is increased we cannot take the same level of risky decisions that we take in business based on an incomplete picture. So we must judge people equally if only because we cannot judge them unequally.Also, I do not think the sole reason people avoid death is through cowardice. This would mean that no one would mind dying, but that only those who had suffered enough so that the prospect of living the rest of life outweighed the fear of death, would committ suicide. This would outrule sacrifice too (altruism as it's usually referred to by scientists).Though I agree that people avoid questions like these. The answers are not obvious and require some reflection and level of thought. It's a scary prospect that if you did do so then you could find something you do not want to find and be unable to disprove it. There are enough stories of academic depressives out there after all. One professor, who discovered a mathematical formula relating to happiness, all of a sudden completely changed his life, donating everything he had and giving up his home to the homeless. Unfortunately those people took advantage and robbed him blind so that he was so appalled with human nature he commited suicide. Damn this is a pessimistic topic isn't it?

  • >1. For some people the ends will justify the means – for other people with different priorities etc they will not = subjective. E.g. I might believe we should kill all homeless people to make the streets look pretty (means to end). Others would say the price of murder is too high. 2. The stakes are not increased in religious peoples eyes – it is not a gamble. For them it is a FACT that there is… …life after death with some exeptions – i.e. people who go to church without really thinking about it – but this is disgraceful in itself – i have more respect for people who have read scripture and at least made limited (if not flawed) sense to defend it.

  • >Ah yes this was one of the things I found interesting. You speak like an educated Dawkins or Steven Landsburg (if you've read them you'll know they don't sound very clever). Landsburg, in one of his more clever points in the book "The Big Questions" says that few people truly believe because they all doubt i.e. if you asked a religious person 'are you 100% certain that God exists?', then most would hesitate.But even religious people believe it's a gamble on some level; you might go to hell or purgatory. And of course they all believe in purpose here on Earth. How could they choose death if God chose life?

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