View Poll Results: A living person has more value when...

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  • They are willing to sacrifice themselves for the group

    5 27.78%
  • They have money and/or own a lot of property

    2 11.11%
  • They are healthy and reproductive

    4 22.22%
  • I know them (family, friends, neighbours, etc.)

    4 22.22%
  • They have a useful profession or special knowledge (doctor, politician, etc.)

    7 38.89%
  • I find them attractive

    2 11.11%
  • They are of a favorable gender

    1 5.56%
  • They have no criminal record and/or don't engage in illegal activity

    3 16.67%
  • Everyone has equal value simply by being alive

    8 44.44%
  • Other (explain)

    2 11.11%
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Thread: A person's value

  1. #1
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    A person's value

    When someone dies, we often think about how they lived. When someone dies that we don't think has value or virtue, we tend to think their death didn't matter. Likewise, for the living, we tend to not think that some people are worth care, expenses, or the time of day. I'm just curious to see the breakdown.

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    Re: A person's value

    I can't fit on your lists very well, but I know it is hard to put something like this down as a list and be even remotely comprehensive.

    On the one hand I believe every soul has infinite value, because when the material universe no longer exists, that immortal soul will remain: a work of perfection and beauty beyond conception, or a horror beyond imagining, depending on the individual's path.

    On the other, more pragmatic, side, yes I believe some lives have more value than others, and yes I believe we can make such choices: both as societies, and as individuals. Indeed I believe we are morally obligated to make such choices in some situations.

    If you are a triage nurse after a disaster, and there isn't enough medical care to go around, you'll have to make choices. In triage, you make those choices based on who is badly hurt, and who has a reasonable chance of survival. What if you had half a dozen people who could be saved with immediate surgery, but only one surgeon available? You'd have to choose based on the value of the life.

    An otherwise healthy child is of probably of greater importance than a very old person whose life is near its end anyway. The child likely has so much more life ahead of them, so much more potential, so many more opportunities to do good things.

    A self-made man whose innovations and enterpreneurship revolutionized an industry, like Bill Gates, is probably of more value than someone who inherited their wealth, let alone a homeless alcoholic. The potential for the former to do more good in the world is much higher.

    Someone who spends much energy serving others is more important than someone who serves only their self. The former brings happiness to many, the latter seeks only his own.

    A person with four young children is probably more important than a person with no children. The former has more people depending on him financially, emotionally and otherwise.

    You'll notice I'm saying "probably". We can't see the future, we can only judge based on probabilities... and occasionally we'll be wrong, and have to live with that.

    A doctor is more important than a lawyer. Come on now, you know that one was easy.

    A person who seeks to do good to others is more important than someone who maliciously harms the innocent. The man who lets a serial killer escape because he won't scruple to get blood on his own hands is a moral coward who puts his personal scrupulousness above the good of the many, above the blood of the innocent.

    Many people live out their lives and never have to be "the chooser of the slain", the person who decides whose life has more value, who lives and who dies. Those people are fortunate, but sometimes someone does have to choose. Refusing to choose is also a choice, but a poor one.

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    Re: A person's value

    A man has more value when he contributes to society.
    "Other" is right up there with the wheel and the remote control.
    Useful pofession....then..(doctor, politician)...thats some oxymoron.....useful....politician...
    The doctor....yes.
    The ditch-digger....yes.
    Used car salesman or the politician...this is much closer.
    Last edited by earthworm; 12-04-09 at 10:40 PM.

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    Re: A person's value

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    A doctor is more important than a lawyer.
    Obviously you haven't been through a divorce yet.




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    Re: A person's value

    They are not a drain on society...

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    Re: A person's value

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    I can't fit on your lists very well, but I know it is hard to put something like this down as a list and be even remotely comprehensive.

    On the one hand I believe every soul has infinite value, because when the material universe no longer exists, that immortal soul will remain: a work of perfection and beauty beyond conception, or a horror beyond imagining, depending on the individual's path.

    On the other, more pragmatic, side, yes I believe some lives have more value than others, and yes I believe we can make such choices: both as societies, and as individuals. Indeed I believe we are morally obligated to make such choices in some situations.

    If you are a triage nurse after a disaster, and there isn't enough medical care to go around, you'll have to make choices. In triage, you make those choices based on who is badly hurt, and who has a reasonable chance of survival. What if you had half a dozen people who could be saved with immediate surgery, but only one surgeon available? You'd have to choose based on the value of the life.

    An otherwise healthy child is of probably of greater importance than a very old person whose life is near its end anyway. The child likely has so much more life ahead of them, so much more potential, so many more opportunities to do good things.

    A self-made man whose innovations and enterpreneurship revolutionized an industry, like Bill Gates, is probably of more value than someone who inherited their wealth, let alone a homeless alcoholic. The potential for the former to do more good in the world is much higher.

    Someone who spends much energy serving others is more important than someone who serves only their self. The former brings happiness to many, the latter seeks only his own.

    A person with four young children is probably more important than a person with no children. The former has more people depending on him financially, emotionally and otherwise.

    You'll notice I'm saying "probably". We can't see the future, we can only judge based on probabilities... and occasionally we'll be wrong, and have to live with that.

    A doctor is more important than a lawyer. Come on now, you know that one was easy.

    A person who seeks to do good to others is more important than someone who maliciously harms the innocent. The man who lets a serial killer escape because he won't scruple to get blood on his own hands is a moral coward who puts his personal scrupulousness above the good of the many, above the blood of the innocent.

    Many people live out their lives and never have to be "the chooser of the slain", the person who decides whose life has more value, who lives and who dies. Those people are fortunate, but sometimes someone does have to choose. Refusing to choose is also a choice, but a poor one.
    It's funny that I totally forgot to add age to the poll. There were many possible things I could have put up there but a child did not come to mind. I actually see old people as very valuable because they hold a wealth of knowledge about our world that we don't have access to. A WWII veteran who is still living and able to tell his stories is, in many ways, way more valuable than a history textbook.

    Anyway, I know it's all subjective. I was just curious to see what people came up with, or if they could even be honest enough to face this poll.

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    Re: A person's value

    Quote Originally Posted by Orius View Post
    It's funny that I totally forgot to add age to the poll. There were many possible things I could have put up there but a child did not come to mind. I actually see old people as very valuable because they hold a wealth of knowledge about our world that we don't have access to. A WWII veteran who is still living and able to tell his stories is, in many ways, way more valuable than a history textbook.

    You know, I thought about that. My Dad was a WW2 vet, my Mom a Depression-era farmgirl. Their stories about the 30's and 40's were always facinating to me; they knew things, knew how to DO things, that have virtually been forgotten in 2009.

    My mother still lives at the age of 80, though perhaps not for too much longer. To me, personally, her value is extremely high indeed. Yet, if I were in some improbable situation where I could save her or my 2-year old nephew, there is no doubt in my mind that my mother would insist that I must save the little child and let her go. Her character has always been one of service to others and devotion to the next generation of the family.

    Okay, back to the topic... I notice that there's an option to distinguish between family and strangers. This is where personal valuation starts to overwhelm objectivity. If I am faced with the choice of saving Doctor Brainiac, who is working on a cure for cancer, or saving one of my own family members who is shall we say otherwise undistinguished... well that would be a hard one. I'd hate to have to make that choice... because I'd probably succumb to emotion and save my family member.

    A family member vs a random stranger? Easy choice, family. My 80yo mother vs some two-year old child I've never seen before? Well that one is harder and I don't know that I have an answer for it. I know what Mom would probably say.






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  8. #8
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    Re: A person's value

    I didn't answer your poll, but if I had I would have answered everything but "wealth" and "we're all equal". Wealth only matters when it comes from the person's own good work-- I recently spent thirty thousand dollars of my father's money and invested twenty thousand of it in my company, and it hasn't improved my value by one thin dime. Perhaps once my business is steady and I am working to keep improving it, then the money will have added to my value.

    The reason I didn't answer is I felt that answering your poll in the format it was given would have suggested moral equivalence in the answers-- someone who is willing to sacrifice for his family or his nation is worth more than someone who is not, but that doesn't mean he's worth as much as a member of my family or my nation. A healthy, attractive young woman is worth more than the others, but not as much as my girlfriend.

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    Re: A person's value

    Quote Originally Posted by Orius View Post
    When someone dies, we often think about how they lived. When someone dies that we don't think has value or virtue, we tend to think their death didn't matter. Likewise, for the living, we tend to not think that some people are worth care, expenses, or the time of day. I'm just curious to see the breakdown.
    I think the world would be a better place if we gave the living the respect we are supposed to give the dead.
    Quote Originally Posted by faithful_servant View Post
    Being a psychiatric patient does not mean that you are mentally ill.



  10. #10
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    Re: A person's value

    Whether or not I care if someone dies has entirely to do with whether or not I know them. People die every minute, I can't possibly care about them all. I care about the ones that have value to me. I care about the ones that affect my life in some manner. It doesn't matter to me what some stranger did in his or her life, it matters whether or not I *knew* them.

    Does that mean they have no value if I didn't know them? Of course not. It means they had no value to me.

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