Right, Wrong, and Killing

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This topic contains 44 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Dang Martin 5 years, 2 months ago.

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    David Boots

    Wow. Big decisions. But if you think you made the wrong decisions do you now think you could go back in time and make a better decision. Probably not.


    But also the choices were very different. One required a positive action to end a life. The other decision was to refuse treatment.


    Dang Martin

    But if you think you made the wrong decisions do you now think you could go back in time and make a better decision. Probably not.

    With my grandmother’s situation, the one requiring the active decision, I think that I was in a place where the right decision was impossible, because my son’s presence was the wild card. It came down to either killing grandma and not getting to be my son’s father, OR the path that I chose.

    Since grandma was on her way out, and my son had just arrived, I think it was the best decision. Still feel that I let grandma down. In our society, I had to pick one.



    There are countless moral/ethical systems that give a variety of answers. There are five rather common (often repeated answers) to this question.

    Virtue ethics: It may be a reasonable move. I cannot possibly sum up virtue ethics other than saying “it’s complicated”.

    Utilitarian: It may be. Just work it out on a large matrix of actions and consequences and what is the general good and some subjective variables and safeguards and you’ll have something like an answer.

    Deontological. No. Actively ending someone’s life against their will is wrong. One might rationalise an exceptional case or precieved “worse” consequences if they don’t do what is usually wrong….but ultimately it is a highly subjective and possibly incorrect analysis of the situation and the likely consequences. That doesn’t mean you can never do it. It simply means when you do…you cannot pretend as though you didn’t break a categorical rule. If you can live with that, and live with the possibility that you can be the arbitrary victim of someone else arbitrarily breaking those rules based on their own biases or hunches or whatever…then at least you are being honest and consistent even if you did break your rule.

    Post-modern: What is the essence of ending-experience or more traumatically… experience ending? How do we approach the deconstruction of death and its power-structures without drowning out the quiet voice whose emergent infiltration of the daily experience, the transient becoming that may begin as a judgement yet end in an obscene detached hesitation to follow one’s élance…or reluctant will? Can we treat the objectified, who has lost subjective experience as a player in the absurd consequences? The game of control and of self-feeding guilt?

    Consequentialism: It depends on what happens post-death

    Hedonism: It was probably ok…

    Nihilism: Wrong or right? Where does wrong or right even come from? Point me to it. Good luck

    Teleoligical: It depends on the objectives of the agent “or their subjective-goal” and rightness and wrongness hinges more on this than the consequences. That is, the rightness of it can be worked out before the event as been executed.

    Fed-morality: Murder is always bad (several times in the bible), but you must murder some people or God will get angry, though one should turn the other cheek and let ones strike you down with their other arm, but if you kill someone’s slave, you have to replace him with several asses and gold, though mudering satanic creaters (or their posessed) is compassionate but thoushalt not murder!!!! Clear?

    Ive always preffered the deontological appoaches, especially those that came after Kant. The strength of a rule is how unwavering it is and how resistant it is to a persons will to exceptionalism.



    @davis what about Just good ok common sense? Which camp would this fall into?



    @davis Hedonism has always appealed


    Good. Stay all day, if you want to 🙂



    There are countless moral/ethical systems that give a variety of answers.

    Nice summary @davis



    Unfortunately @ belle, common sense is a cultural construction for the most part. Common sense really varies from place to place (even within a country). For example, I think it’s really common sense to wear headphones if you want to play loud annoying music while on the bus or subway…and to let people get off the elevator before trying to get on (one would imagine the latter is simply logical too) but you’d be in the minority in India or even in a European country like Greece.

    The only universal “common sense” that has been worked out (forgive me i really don’t remember the author who did it) concluded that the only real common sense that was prevalent in the overwhelming majority of cultures…is pointlessly doing stuff that can seriously harm you. Like staring into the sun, or trying to hug a rattle snake or forgetting your wife’s birthday. But when it comes to murder…there is no consensus at all on the topic (even if the murder was pointless). Even serious moral dilemmas find very different attitudes of what “common sense” would dictate. For example, if you want to end your pregnancy, common sense would tell you to go to a safe medical clinic and probably let your partner know…while in Pakistan common sense would tell you fall down some stairs and hope an ambulance gets to you in time and never tell anyone about it. In Spain when emergency vehicles are trying to pass cars, most people keep crossing the street and cars inch forward until they can see the vehicle and leave them a pretty narrow hole to pass by. I often watch this scene utterly flabberghasted. I’ve even said to people who start crossing “how could you risk delaying emergency services just so you can cross the road and save 30 second of your time?” To which there is no defensiveness….it simply didn’t cross their mind and they are confused about what im saying. For many its just a case of crossing timing…like strategically running a red light or red walk sign. They honestly don’t see it as common sense, even when a life may be on the line. And then there is incarceration. The general attitude of people in the Southern US and in Saudi Arabia and in China…is if someone murders someone…lock them away in a jail…perhaps where unpleasant things will happen to them…possibly state murder (execution). It’s common sense then that you keep a murderer away from everyone else for a long time. While in Scandinavia common sense would say rehabilitation and education following any method that shows lower rate of recidivism (repeat crimes after leaving) is better for everyone.

    As for murder in self defense. No…there is no universal “common sense”. There are so many variables that effect people differently in different countries (like moral blame, self-guilt, public shaming, the status of you and the aggressor, who has a family to support, the motives of the aggressor and even the gender, race and class of the aggressor  (unfortunately). You can be sure some women in some countries worry that if they kill a man in self defense their testimony will be seen as far less reliable than men. They may end up in jail or even executed if the prosecution can make the woman seem unreliable or a vengeful wife if it happens to be her husband smacking her around. In some countries its not that hard to get a woman who killed in self-defense in jail. There is a nice book that breaches that subject “A thousand Splendid Suns” set in Afghanistan on that very topic.

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by  Davis.



    Unfortunately @ belle, common sense is a cultural construction for the most part

    Good point. But I think some of the most primitive people on the planet have the highest sense of morality within their cultural construct. I’m referring to indigenous tribes around the world who still live traditionally. They have practically zero carbon foot print. They have an intimate knowledge and understanding of nature. There is no word for war in their language, and they live in peace and harmony with each other and with nature…

    THAT is the way it’s done. They don’t need a bunch of philosophical mumbo jumbo. These people aren’t even literate but they are the most hospitable and happy I’ve ever seen.



    And they have the best common sense above and beyond anything we could fathom here in the western world.


    What is common sense for one person is often special knowledge for someone else.



    @bellerose I’ve globe trotted a fair bit in my life and have spent time with indigenous tribes around the planet.  They are indeed very grounded, and in touch with ‘mother earth’ having practically no carbon footprint.

    They live in the moment- they don’t plan ahead further than the next meal.  Life is very fragile, there is little to no medication available at all.

    Pacific Islanders :- When a child breaks a limb, they have a combination approach, by strapping the limb straight, then leaving the child in the ‘graveyard’ where their ancestors are buried.  If the child survives the night, then it is the ancestors will.

    Maori:- food is the solution to almost everything, it is nutritionally terrible, full of fats.  The ancestors are kept appraised (seriously) of lost pots, broken teeth and more or less every small thing that occurs in daily life.  Infections in the mouth mean teeth are few and far between after the age of 40.

    Nubans in Egypt :- they live as second class citizens, in little communes.  The men are treated like gods by their wives, and like dirt by ‘pure’ egyptians.  Female children are sold off into marriage once they hit puberty.

    There are many tribes that have half merged with ‘western’ lifestyles.  The most common denominator is poor nutrition and an absence of medicine or medical approaches.  Unfortunately, the half merged tribes have been converted to Christianity (more so than Islam or Hinduism although Hinduism is a close second).

    I was in Fiji and attended a funeral wake for a four year old boy who had accidentally swigged antifreeze from an old coke bottle.  We sat, legs respectfully covered, outside the house and they sang a few hymns and other local songs.  I went to express my condolences to the mother, and she shrugged and said he was in heaven now so it was all fine.  She laughed.  I learned.

    I could go on, but you get my point.

    Americans have such a romantic view of tribal life.  In reality, and by our measurements, every day there’s a reasonably fair chance you’ll get ill and then die and it’s all very alarming.




    Americans have such a romantic view of tribal life. In reality, and by our measurements, every day there’s a reasonably fair chance you’ll get ill and then die and it’s all very alarming.

    I don’t know. Realistically their odds of dying every day are not much different than ours. We just think we are safer than they are. But the lifestyle we are forced to live in the western world makes for a much more miserable life. And I think every time we get behind the wheel we are just as susceptible. We just don’t think about it. I don’t think they do either.



    i wonder whether indigenous people are less subject to mental illness.



    i wonder whether indigenous people are less subject to mental illness.

    They absolutely are. Mental illness is something the western world has run rampant. It’s because of our way of life. When you have true community of people around you, mental illness doesn’t happen. We don’t even know what community is here. It’s not genuine.

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