Login Register

All times are UTC - 5 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic Page 1 of 1   [ 17 posts ]   
Author Message
 Post subject: Intrinsic value of human life: faith or reason?
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 2:11 pm 
Offline
Huckleberry
Huckleberry
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:48 pm
Posts: 14677
Location: The Bright, Sunny South
Religion: Catholic
Our Church teaches us that human life is valuable in and of itself. For us, embracing this teaching is a relatively simple matter of assent through faith. The problem (and this is related somewhat to the Schiavo case) is convincing those who do not share our faith. For example:

Me: Terri Schiavo's life should have been protected.
Atheist: Why?
Me: Because human life is valuable.
Atheist: And why is human life valuable?
Me: Ummm... :scratch:


The real answer is that the value of human life is regulated by God, in his commands through his Church...but being as my chances of converting this person are relatively slim, I'm simply at a loss for explaining this while being confined squarely within the realm of reason...where faith plays no part.

In every ethical system I've ever studied, there is only one of these two possibilities:

1) Human life has no intrinsic value.
2) The intrinsic value of human life is assumed.


So, assuming you can't use faith or religion for your argument, how do you prove this by reason alone?

_________________
"Spread love everywhere you go."
- Bl. Mother Teresa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 3:54 pm 
Offline
Suspended at request of user
Suspended at request of user
User avatar

Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 4:32 pm
Posts: 5559
Location: Maryland
Religion: RC
How about appealing to perpetuation of the human species? IOW, if human life is not potected universally then it eventually could lead to extinction. I say "universally" so as to cover life that may be considered not worth protecting (the unborn, Terry Schiavo, etc.). If all human life is not valuable than no human life is. If random criteria is used to determine a "valuable life" then that criteria can change. As it has. As the list of less desirable forms of human life grow, so does the opportunity for elimination and eventually extinction.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 4:04 pm 
Offline
Huckleberry
Huckleberry
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:48 pm
Posts: 14677
Location: The Bright, Sunny South
Religion: Catholic
I thought about that angle, but I could just hear the guys retort of: "Hitler killed the Jews to preserve the survival of the Aryan race"....or some such nonsense.

I didn't wanna go there.

_________________
"Spread love everywhere you go."
- Bl. Mother Teresa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 7:31 pm 
Offline
Citizen
Citizen

Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 9:17 pm
Posts: 335
Society depends on each member respecting certain basic laws. When those laws are no longer valid, society collapses. The most basic laws of society include the right to live, the right to shelter and the right to food and water. Our global community has a long history of trashing the poor and stomping on the homeless but now, we are returning to a medieval disregard for life. I believe we are in the final twist of our downward spiral. Evidence of the breakdown of society is everywhere, one only has to drive a few miles anywhere in the world to realize we have no regard or respect for fellow humans, nor do we respect the laws. Religions appear, more than ever to be preaching hatred of and isolation from each other.

I do believe God created us and everthing around us but sometimes have to wonder, what was He thinking, to let His creation get into such a state. Evil truly seems to be winning.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 9:57 pm 
Offline
Sons of Thunder
Sons of Thunder
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 1:25 am
Posts: 1672
Location: St. Louis, MO
Religion: Catholic
Church Affiliations: KoC
If we do not value every human life, then we cannot effectively value any human life. For each of us is flawed in one facet or another, and so there is reason to exterminate each of us, if human life is not valuable.

_________________
~~ Hello, you have reached the signature of Faramir (a.k.a. mattmoss). ~~

War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 11:28 pm 
Offline
Hammer of Heretics
Hammer of Heretics
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 6466
That's a damn good question.

_________________
Ora et Labora


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Intrinsic value of human life: faith or reason?
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 10:44 pm 
Offline
Resident Philosopher
Resident Philosopher
User avatar

Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:28 pm
Posts: 11080
Location: Playing Guitar for Siggy's Choir...
Religion: Catholic
Church Affiliations: 2nd Deg. KoC, SSFJDOG
Max Majestic wrote:
Our Church teaches us that human life is valuable in and of itself. For us, embracing this teaching is a relatively simple matter of assent through faith. The problem (and this is related somewhat to the Schiavo case) is convincing those who do not share our faith. For example:

Me: Terri Schiavo's life should have been protected.
Atheist: Why?
Me: Because human life is valuable.
Atheist: And why is human life valuable?
Me: Ummm... :scratch:


The real answer is that the value of human life is regulated by God, in his commands through his Church...but being as my chances of converting this person are relatively slim, I'm simply at a loss for explaining this while being confined squarely within the realm of reason...where faith plays no part.

In every ethical system I've ever studied, there is only one of these two possibilities:

1) Human life has no intrinsic value.
2) The intrinsic value of human life is assumed.


So, assuming you can't use faith or religion for your argument, how do you prove this by reason alone?


If atheism is true, then there aren't ANY values at all. I doubt your atheist friend would accept that, but then ask him to demonstrate how you can have objective value without an objective source.

FJ

_________________
Ut est rabidus.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 1:39 am 
I would recommend a book called The Selfhood of the Human Person by Dr. John Crosby. He is the Department Chair of Philosophy at Franciscan University.

In the beginning of the book, he uses our moral intuition to get at aspects of our personhood. So our universal rejection of slavery, being used as a scapegoat (a mere part of society) or as a mere means brings him to a definition of a person: persona est sui iuris et alteri incommunicabilis. This means that a person is their own and not another. Therefore, we can't be owned, used, or treated as a mere part to a whole without doing violence to our personhood.

He brings up an interesting idea in the sense of our incommunicability - our uniqueness. We are not mere specimens of what it is to be human. The strength of our incommunicability is such that each person is unique in all of history and space. As an example, the uniquenesss of a copy of a newspaper is quickly lost as you find yourself with a pile of copies. This is due to the fact that the newpaper has a very weak incommunicability. We are interested in the communicable (shared) aspects of the paper NOT in THAT copy of the paper. We see the same things even in sentient animals. We don't care if there is this or that particular Spotted Owl. We just want Spotted Owls to exist.

Obviously, with human persons it is totally different. Human persons have an extremely strong incommunicability because we as persons image the divine person. God is supremely incommunicable. So much so that God is his nature. There is a certain infiniteness to human persons because they are humanity in an utterly unique way. Socrates is his humanity in a way that Plato can never be and vice versa. When a human person is recognized as person, then they attain this infinite quality. There will never be another Socrates for all time and eternity. Humans resist "getting lost in the crowd" when approached as persons.

Therefore, Schiavo has intrinsic worth because there will never be another person like her ever. period. Who would want to be the one to kill the last elephant, whale, tiger, etc? Every human person is so unique as to be the one and only of that type. Well worth honoring and protecting.

Crosby's arguements build on each other to show the dignity and value of human persons. I don't have the space or eloquence of Dr. Crosby to explain all here. He book is excellent.

One last point...we see the dignityof every human in the slavery issue I mentioned above. Even the most rabid animal rights person has no problem owning an animal as a pet due to the fact that they are not their own as we are. It is ludicrious to think of owning a human. This moral intuition helps us grasp at human personhood.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 9:14 am 
Offline
Sons of Thunder
Sons of Thunder
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2003 9:34 pm
Posts: 29117
Location: Sine Domum
Religion: Roman Catholic
hmmm... and here I though a peson was an incommunicable substance of a rational nature ;) (of course as you said he is getting at aspects. Still, I see other animals as incommunicable substances. This Spotted Owl is indeed this primary substance Owl per se, not another. Perhaps the value of this is not as meaningful as it is with persons. Though I have seen many animal rights activists who think it is wrong to own animals. The statement "even the most rabid animal rights person has no problem owning an animal" is false)

I see his point, but I know many who would argue about the uniqueness of this or that animal as well. I think our value is not so much our incommunicableness but our being a primary substance of a rational nature. I also shrink from saying that man attains any infinite quality. That he may participate, in a finite way, with an infinite quality is true to me.

_________________
Quoniam sapientia aperuit os mutorum, et linguas infantium fecit disertas.

http://stomachosus-thomistarum.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 11:56 am 
Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
hmmm... and here I though a peson was an incommunicable substance of a rational nature ;) (of course as you said he is getting at aspects.


Never did say that Boethius' definition wasn't proper. I was trying to answer Max Majestic's question.

Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Still, I see other animals as incommunicable substances. This Spotted Owl is indeed this primary substance Owl per se, not another. Perhaps the value of this is not as meaningful as it is with persons.


I never said that animals weren't incommunicable substances. What I was trying to say is that the strength of the incommunicability is much less in animals than humans since we are persons and they are not.

Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Though I have seen many animal rights activists who think it is wrong to own animals. The statement "even the most rabid animal rights person has no problem owning an animal" is false)


I have never heard of any people that are against any animal ownership. Wow.

Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
I see his point, but I know many who would argue about the uniqueness of this or that animal as well. I think our value is not so much our incommunicableness but our being a primary substance of a rational nature.


Again, the uniquness of an animal doesn't rise to the level of a person. If you had 6,000,000,000 goldfish, the one would get lost in the sheer number. We as persons, when taken as persons, completely resist that generalization. Of course, there is this or that animal, but, due to our personhood, we instantiate our humanity in a way completely unique when compared to how an animal instantiates its 'animalness'.

How would you answer Max's question then using your statement that you think our value comes from being a individual substance of a rational nature? (which, by the way, makes us incommunicable - It is our personhood that gives us our value, however you may define it. What you just said is that you don't think it is our personhood (incommunicability) that makes us valuable but it is our personhood (individual substance with a rational nature)).

Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
I also shrink from saying that man attains any infinite quality. That he may participate, in a finite way, with an infinite quality is true to me.


Right. My point exactly. As persons, we approch this infinitude due to deriving our peronshood from God's. Part of the infinitude I was speaking about was our resistance, as persons, to being swamped out, so to speak, by sheer numbers of other persons as animals and other substances are due to their weaker incommunicability. Again, we instantiate our humanity in such a way that we approach being the only one because we are persons.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 12:56 pm 
Offline
Huckleberry
Huckleberry
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:48 pm
Posts: 14677
Location: The Bright, Sunny South
Religion: Catholic
ShoelessMike wrote:
.....the uniquness of an animal doesn't rise to the level of a person. If you had 6,000,000,000 goldfish, the one would get lost in the sheer number. We as persons, when taken as persons, completely resist that generalization. Of course, there is this or that animal, but, due to our personhood, we instantiate our humanity in a way completely unique when compared to how an animal instantiates its 'animalness'.


And this very thing was also a point of contention. He argues that not all humans instantiate "humanity". I hate to use a sci-fi reference, but if you've ever seen/read the movie Dune, you'll recall the scene where the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother tests the duke's son with the box. She states essentially that a trait of humanity (in fact, THE trait of humanity) is the ability to invoke the will to a degree that overrides instinct.....and that not all "humans" possess this trait. This, coupled with the fact that only 60% of the adult human population is capable of abstract thought sheds some doubt on the assertion that all homo sapiens are "human".

When confronted with these ideas, my first reaction is to retreat into Catholic assertions regarding humanity.....but these are pretty much verboten as he won't be persuaded by them.

_________________
"Spread love everywhere you go."
- Bl. Mother Teresa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 4:01 pm 
Offline
Newbie
Newbie

Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 4:26 pm
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
mattmoss wrote:
If we do not value every human life, then we cannot effectively value any human life. For each of us is flawed in one facet or another, and so there is reason to exterminate each of us, if human life is not valuable.


I believe this is the second part of the argument. The first step is with the atheist - doesn't *he* believe *his* life is precious? He certainly believes he himself is important and would not like someone to come along and kill him, because his life has value to himself.

Next step would be - does not everyone value his/her own life in the same manner? And how can we require others properly to regard our own lives if we will not do the same for them? Certainly each of us is flawed, but we recognize that we as humans need to value each others' lives as much as our own, or eventually we cannot sustain the case for our own life to be regarded by others.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Value
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 10:43 pm 
Offline
Master
Master
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 11:47 am
Posts: 3917
Location: A state capital on a salt creek.
Religion: None
Ask if he would defend his life? The ask if it is intintual that lafe be defended? you see where this is going?

_________________
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur
Tu ne cede malis
Vincit omnia veritas


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 11:35 am 
Offline
Huckleberry
Huckleberry
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:48 pm
Posts: 14677
Location: The Bright, Sunny South
Religion: Catholic
I know he'd agree that he'd behave in such a way as to defend his own life. That's human instinct. But I'm not sure it follows that, by acting to defend your own life in dire circumstances, it necessarily means that ALL human life has intrinsic value.

_________________
"Spread love everywhere you go."
- Bl. Mother Teresa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 12:08 pm 
Offline
Hammer of Heretics
Hammer of Heretics
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 6466
I don't believe one can argue the intrinsic value of anything without the foundation of the Absolute. I keep trying and cannot seem to avoid the slippery slope fallacy. Of course, that's my puny mind at work; I don't know if it can be done or not.

_________________
Ora et Labora


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 12:15 pm 
Offline
Huckleberry
Huckleberry
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:48 pm
Posts: 14677
Location: The Bright, Sunny South
Religion: Catholic
We're in the same boat, Matthew. I don't think there's any good argument for it in the absence of faith (or rather, faith-based arguments). I think the furthest we can go with these limitations is more of a practical, social-contract respect for life rather than the intrinsic value arguments. Hmmm....maybe that can still get me where I wanted to go with this. I'll have to see where the argument goes and report back.

If it helps, he does accept some absolutes.....The Laws of Logic, for example. His epistemology (and apparently, his ethics :roll: ) I think are more informed by Randian Objectivism than I think he cares to admit.

_________________
"Spread love everywhere you go."
- Bl. Mother Teresa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 5:08 pm 
Offline
Hammer of Heretics
Hammer of Heretics
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 6466
Well, I don't think supernatural revelation is necessary and by consequence, supernatural faith; I only meant that one must concede what natural theology demonstrates, that is, the necessary existence of a personal God.

_________________
Ora et Labora


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic Page 1 of 1   [ 17 posts ]   


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


Jump to: