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Why value life?

  1. Feb 14, 2006 #1
    Im not speaking of your own. But of others. Others which arent able to value their own.

    Take animals for example. It could be said that they dont have value for their life. As they completely run on instincts.

    So ok they dont value their life. So we dont. and we basically mass produce and kill animals for food.

    (Ok im not PETA or whatever. I eat meat.)

    But take mentally deficient people. Now im not talking about like IQ of 70 people. But im speaking of the people where instincts arent even present. That they live in the wheelchair and are basically kept alive by the people who care for them. These people cant feed themselves. They cant do anything basic. That even my dog Buster out performs these people.

    Ok im not saying that we should kill these people. or just let them die.

    But why do be value their life by keeping them alive?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 14, 2006 #2
    Perhaps, such right actions yield grace unto the caregiver, reinforces the foundation of a right society, and guarantees the ill time until they are miraculously cured of all ailments at one point. :smile:
  4. Feb 14, 2006 #3
    Are you talking about a case like that of Terry Shiavo, where she arguably didn't have any mental capacity at all?? Or are you talking about where people have fully functioning minds but can't control their bodies?? Could you please be more specific?
  5. Feb 14, 2006 #4
    not really specifically. I didnt think it would really matter. but for arguements sake.

    Im talking completely like Terry Schiavo i suppose. But would rather have a generic subject. We could also discuss people who arent intelligent enough to do anything at all for themselves.

    What Im not talking about is anyone who is physically handicapped but is there mentally.

    So basically. Physically your fine, or relatively fine. MEntally the person isnt.

    Ok thats the thing. Here in Canada anyone who cares for these people get money from the government and get tax benifits. I know 3 families that are like this. one family near my uncle had 3 people like this. they gave the basic care and had enough money from a part-time job and from the government from these people to live very nicely. The same thing went for the other 2 families that ive observed. They did the basics and left them be. They didnt much care for these kids. Though anytime they spoke or saw anyone they acted like they cared very very much for these kids. Like the one person, I was on the porch doing some physics homework and it was real nice out, and the person comes outside, like is put outside by the parents, and eventually sorta rolls all the way to the edge of the road, between the edge and the sidewalk. He stayed there for the rest of my homework. which was pretty long. The parents never came to check up or anything.

    So I highly doubt the "caregivers" actually get anything out of it. Other then a paycheck. and a brand new Leased vehicles every couple of years.
  6. Feb 14, 2006 #5
    There were only two types of "caregivers". One type, the true right type, intends to and does provide care despite anything.

    The other type of "caregiver" may or may not have intended to provide care and did not provide care.

    Let it be known: "care" includes the caregivee knowing the definition of one type of "caregiver", and is being provided with care by one type of "caregiver".
  7. Feb 14, 2006 #6
    I think you're getting off topic here. Let's go back to your question -Why value life? Next, why value a mentally handicapped life? And then, why value life where there is no mind, ie way to experience it? For the second, there are plenty of philosophical beliefs that think a life of sensual experience and pleasure is worth living. I'd also disagree that these people are not mentally "there." I'm not speaking of people who are basically in vegetative states, I mean people you'd call mentally handicapped. Obviously, that's a cultural term, we view them as incomplete or missing out on things we view as essential. However, they do still have a brain that works, they still experience a world (if not the same world the majority of people do). From my viewpoint, living a life is worth it if you can actually experience it and if it isn't an unbearable, misery-filled life.

    Were you talking about these people too, or only people who are brain dead?

    Secondly, you're also asking why we should value those aforementioned peoples' lives, those who aren't able to "value" their own life. That's a pretty bold statement for something so complex and even unknowable. You're making a lot of assumptions that I don't think you can make. You've framed the question mistakenly, I think.
  8. Feb 14, 2006 #7
    well i never really got off topic. the title is just short. and then the second part was what i was talking about. the next parts were just further detail.

    Something i was trying to specify was. Animals are instinctual.

    Think of it like an IQ line or something.

    (Area im talking about, where even instincts arent there.)->Instinctual IQ range, animals and stuff.-->Lower IQ people, or monkies with sign language :)-->and up.

    As for live for the experience philosophy. Alot of freethinkers are this way. Me included. But if your totally not there mentally. You dont experience. You dont even instinctually experience.

    But im not speaking about anything that has enough IQ to be even instinctual. I mean less.
  9. Feb 14, 2006 #8
    If you're talking about mental vegtables who are brain dead or close they are kept alive a lot of times just to ease the family's pain as they hang on to the hope that their loved one may get better. Their life is valued because they were cared about and loved when they were functional, and they are still loved and cared for when they are not functional. The grieving process and trauma for the family in a case like this must also be taken into account as they move forward past the denial stage to accept the eventual death of their loved one which can be a long and hard ordeal.
  10. Feb 14, 2006 #9
    id perfer not to get into the Terry Schiavo thing. I understand thats stuff.

    what im wondering is the "born that way" people.
  11. Feb 14, 2006 #10
    A lot of times people "born that way", don't survive, or else their inherited a condition that makes them that way over time......such as in some genetic disorders...........
    In a sense, life is valued because the individual "born that way" is a person and not a thing to the family taking care of him or her if they are what jimmie calls the true type of caregiver.
    In the other instance, where the family is just collecting some sort of insurance money or perks because of the disabled individual, as you pointed out....life is obviously not valued.......
    where are you trying to take this?
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2006
  12. Feb 14, 2006 #11
    I think it the responsibility of those with the capability of compassion to value the lives of those who cannot themselves.
  13. Feb 14, 2006 #12
    There are some cultures that kill babies (or don't care for them) if they're deformed or sick. They make a cost benefit analysis of whether or not they can care for the child. Others kill baby girls because boys are more valuable, eg some inuits I think. However, lots of cultures care for those we view as sick, eg many cultures see epilepsy as a gift of spirits, epileptics get to be shamans. In our culture, we have the choice of whether or not we care for individuals that are completely dependent. But, our instincts conflict with our cultural values - humans (and other primates) are distinct from other animals for their "desire"/instinct to care for others. However, our culture tells us that people who cannot contribute materially are worthless. Add to this the ideas we hold about life, eg a life without purpose/accomplishments isn't a life worth living. With these views in mind, then their lives aren't worth living and aren't of value (to us at least).

    Again, we have the ability to, so why wouldn't we? I don't think it's out of guilt, or a dislike of murder (active or passive). I think most of us do in fact find value in the life of these people (what term are we using for them?). I guess it's a combination of objective assessment (yes, they have a life, albeit not the one we experience) and metaphysical belief (we don't know the exact nature of reality, so we hold that there is a possibilty of something great, or even just ok in these lives).

    Sorry for the writing style, not in an editing mood.
  14. Feb 14, 2006 #13


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    I'm still unclear on the type of people you are talking about. If you have a certain IQ level or minimum cognitive functions in mind, what are these? Are these people that cannot feed themselves? People that cannot move with any purpose? People that cannot achieve any level of communication with the outside world? Are they still capable of any sensory perception?
  15. Feb 15, 2006 #14
    Why value life? You might as well ask why value yourself? If you ask yourself what you are good for, you will answer a number of things, but these do not exhaust your value. Beyond your usefulness to others, you will feel that you have a worth that is not measured in your mere usefulness. Therefore, in order to be logically consistent, if you value your own life, then you should value other life, regardless of its usefulness to you or others.
  16. Feb 15, 2006 #15
    Life has value in the same way a potential has value. Life is valued because, as a living being, you are able to ask questions like the one you're asking.

    Life offers you the potential and the right to end your own life. Value that personal gift.

    Placing no value on another's life or their potential is equal to not valuing one's own potential and life. As it goes, if one thinks some human like one's self should be left to die, one is, consciously or not, placing the same condition on one's own life.

    The value of life itself is all about valuing one's personal experiences. Compassion dictates that we extend the compassion (value) we have for our own life to others... regardless of what colour they are or who declares them to be not worth maintaining.

    If one has no value for life, one is soon to be dead because one is an example of what life is and is not valued to the point of remaining alive.

    (I see warren has said pretty much the same thing as this post)
  17. Mar 8, 2006 #16
    Life can be full of funs if you have enough money, therefore we must not give up and try our best to earn a lot of money to enjoy our lives !
  18. Mar 8, 2006 #17
    This explanation can only go so far. Sure, if you value your life you value others, but lets flip the coin around. Lets say you don't value other people's lives and because of this you don't value your own. Someone asks you how this can be, how you can be like this, and you just shrug and say we're all animals, what difference does it make. You're one of over six billion, I'm one of over six billion, what difference do any of us make? Just matter in motion cursed with self-awareness, that's all we are. My life is worthless, so is yours.

    What do you say to someone like that? This existential argument ceases to work then, becuase it is dependent upon your own beliefs. Using this atheistic logic none of us are worth a damn.
  19. Mar 8, 2006 #18


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    To the person who believes that, it's true. What can you say to them? what can you say to the Pope, or the Dalai Lama, or a religious suicide bomber? Essentially that you do or don't agree with them. What more is there to say? Nobody elected either of us to prescribe morality or philosophy to mankind.
  20. Mar 9, 2006 #19
    Firstly, we all (not counting mentally ill for now, I'll come back to that) value our own lives. We (typically) value the lives of our families, especially children.
    Human beings are social creatures. We recognise people of our society (or social class, or creed if you're biased that way, etc.) as 'like us'. They are extended family, and valued by association. We also want to keep our immediate family safe, and the best way to do this is moral compromise. Your life is sacred to me -- mine is to you. We're safe from everyone else who adopts the value system.
    Now, remember that morals are subjective and mostly involve a matter of degree. We have to 'believe' an absolute into the idea, or it's full of loopholes. We have to see ALL human life as sacred... for fear of being left out of the loop ourselves, or current or future (disabled or otherwise less valued) family members being left out. So people are reluctant to make exceptions from the compromise.
    Some people, taking such morals seriously, have extended the value of life to other animals. Most do not (there is no survival-related reason to -- it would be a one-sided agreement). But we can still see ourselves in disabled human beings. Some reach the conclusion that people with little or no brain activity, or those in a perpetual coma, don't count, but for most of us the value system is so ingrained that there's at least some doubt, and we feel we should keep them alive... just in case.
  21. Mar 9, 2006 #20
    Is true for them, or is it true? If its true then there is no value in life. If its true for them then the meaning of life is relative, and therefore worthless. Ultimatly the argument that you have to value other life becuase that is the only way to give value to your own life is incomplete. That was my point, and we need to find a way to give absolute meaning to all life from an objective process. Subjectively everything will fall apart, so we have to view it objectivly. If this is so then there must be something inherent to human nature that gives meaning to life.

    However you might choose to define this objective quality is your choice, just so long as you do define it. It might be called a soul, it might be a philosophical explanation: whatever you make it. The only important thing is that it be an objective, absolute and inalienable part of human nature.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2006
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