Monday, January 22, 2007

The Big Guns

We have started to discuss ethics, in case you didn't notice for whatever reason, and so I decided to bring out the two biggest ethics arguments i could think of!
Abortion -- this is the (controversial) removal of fetuses. This often (at least 90% of the time) results in the death of the fetus. My question is: Is abortion ethical.

The Death Penalty -- This is the (controversial) removal of criminals. This often (at least 90% of the time) results in the death of the criminal. My question is: Is the death penalty ethical.

Just as a reminder I feel that I should remind everyone that this will get people very, very tense and angry, so please be careful with words. No ad hominim. This is supposed to be a discussion board, not a flame board, and please respect that. I am saying this again because I am very selfish and don't want to get hurt because I brought this up.
Thank you.


Wolf Man Jack said...

I think that either both are ethical, or neither. One cannot be "pro-life" and then condone the killing of criminals. Someone may argue that you can be pro-choice and anti-death-penalty, but i feel that this is as unfair as the camp that supports the opposite of the two. Killing a fetus is killing, and so is killing a mass murderer. Because I believe very strongly in "pro-choice" I therefore also believe strongly in the death penalty.

Abortion: I am for abortion because, although many argue that uopu cannot take away the baby's life, you also cannot take the mother's. In cases where it will harm the baby or the mother, where the mother is inable to support the infant, or where the baby's life will be extrodinarily shortened because of some rare genetic disease I feel that abortion is acceptable. However, I do not, and will not, support the use of abortion as a form of contraceptive. That was the responsibilty of the would-be-parents, before they made such a "mistake." They should no better.

As for the death penalty. I feel that mass-murderers, not just Saddam Hussein, but Charles Manson should be put to death. I feel we have an ethical responcibilty to remove these madmen before they have even the slightest chance of escape. This may sound harsh, but they gave no second thought to their victims, why should we do so to them? The idea that we are morally superior is falicious, but that is another post. We are not bringing ourselves down to their "level." They have no level. Their execution need not be painful, but it is neccessary to prevent others from seeing any benefit to murder. I feel that it is in fact the ethical thing to do, because we are saving many, many down the line, and saving billions of dollars spent on prisons that could be rerouted to more important objectives, like social wellfare that helps to prevent this from happening further.
In fact it is rather hypocritical just to execute the mass-murderes, those who commit any preconceived murders, or those proven to be amoral and psychotic (and prove it we can) should be executed as well. We shouldn't waste money on prisons to support those out of reach of reform. There is a reason they are called "Correctional facilities" and by holding people such as these they are not doing their job.

To sum it all up: I think that both are ethically, and morally for that matter, acceptable, and should in fact be encouraged.

devin said...

Well, I agree with Wolf, but for different reasons. If you haven't read my ethics post yet, and you probably haven't, then I'll tell you up front I have very cynical views of morality and ethics. I believe that abortion shouldn't even be considered an ethical question because you're not killing anything, and I believe that the death penalty is also a ethical non-issue because the people in question have obviously disturbed society enough to warrant their life sentence, why not spare the government some money and prison room and board and just kill them? It makes SO much more sense then stuffing them in solitary confinement for life, which, for all intents and purposes, is just as bad as getting killed.
Anyway, I should defend my abortion view a little more. The fetus that is "killed" during an abortion, although alive, was never living. It knows nothing, it sees nothing, it's practically a barely formed mass of cells, NOT A HUMAN BEING.
We have to ask the questions "what does it mean to be alive?" and "what does it mean to be human?" however, in order to understand the above statement. To the first question: being alive implies sensations, perceptions, and individuality. In the womb, a fetus is eating and growing, not showing any of the above traits. To the second question: being human implies, to me, not merely the hints of physical traits common to humans, but also the constantly inquisitive state of mind. Although there is no quantitative evidence that could support this or denounce this, I'm going off of the "eat and grow" existence of the fetus to say that it does none of these things.
So...abortion doesn't cause the death of a human life, it just ends the existence of an organism previously inside a human. No ethical considerations apply to this case.

Wolf Man Jack said...

You assume that ethics only apply between humans and other humans. Therefor it is perfectly justifiable to kill dogs. Or cause the extenction of any species, right?

devin said...

As long as it benefits the society creating the ethical code that supports it, yes, it would be. Ethics are no more than a part of the social contract we all unknowingly sign when we live in a society. They help people stay in their situation of being productive members of a society. If the society benefits from the killing of dogs, then so be it. Animal sacrifices have been considered holy in many cultures. Another point against what you just said: livestock. We kill chickens, cows, pigs, deer, fish, crustaceans, but you automatically think that ethics would apply to dogs but not the other myriad of animals we kill to support our society. Huh. Now, the society supporting the extinction of dogs would be an extreme case, but not an impossible one. What I was meaning to say is that everyone making a fuss about killing another human life through abortion is just silly. No human being is being killed. I never meant to insinuate that we should all go out and cause the extinction of another species. Under our ethical code, killing a dog is not nearly as unfortunate as killing another human, they are valued much less, and for good reason - they don't work for US companies and help stimulate the economy. It's all about the money.

pichachoo said...

I recently read a book called Freakonomics, and in it was this short passage about abortion. The author claimed that crime rate had gone down mostly because abortions were legalized. See, most women having children they don't want neglect that child, or don't have enough money to support that child. Thus, this child grows up to be someone more likely to be involved with gang activity and/or commit crimes. This is a logical argument that abortion is morally and ethically right. This may not be an emotionally sound argument, but I feel it really depends on the individual. If your religion says that abortion is wrong, then no logical argument will convince. Otherwise, if say you're a logically based person who is not too religious, you may believe abortion is ethically right.

pchaffey said...

I would have to agree with Devin on this issue. A fetus isn't a human life. A human has to have coherent thoughts and emotions to be considered as such. Since a fetus experiences none of these things it cannot be considered a human life. Therefore having an abortion isn't murder in any way. In fact the fetus can barely be considered an independent organism, since it is completely dependant on the mother for survival. Because the fetus is essentially a part of the mother, I believe it should be her decision as to whether or not she wants to have the child.
As for the death sentence question, I think it is not only justified but morally imperative. As wolf pointed out, the purpose of a prison is to better the criminals and release them back into the world as better people willing and able to follow the rules of society. Someone sentenced to a life sentence has absolutely no chance of being rehabilitated. They are already dead to the society. If you are going to condemn someone to life in prison, you might as well just kill them.

maitboy said...

Ah the big guns. Though, there's not as much dischord as I would have expected here, I'm rather shocked. Wolf, I must say, kudos on your justifications.
In each case, I would say that the ethical code which must be considered is the Constitution of the United States. That said, I will make the assumption that the basic human rights within the Constitution amount primarily to this: Human beings have a right to be free from suffering caused by others. I acknowledge that that is far too much of an oversimplification, but it's what I'm going to start with.
In abortion, I do not think that anyone can argue that the fetus suffers. It does not experience pain or grief, and I do not believe it to be 'alive', thus, I feel that suffering is avoided (in only certain cases) by giving abortions. That said, there needs to be a very good justification for them, as I do feel that it is a reckless act for a society to accept without controversy.
Murderers, I believe, endure nothing but suffering on Death Row. While killing them would cause grief and suffering on their parts, if it is done humanely, and after their fair trial, I see it as a fair course of action for the government to take.