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[P]
Whose right to choose?

By skim123 in Culture
Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:19:07 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

OK, I know this may seem a bit weird for k5, but I can't shake this... According to this article, a British couple gave birth to conjoined twins connected at the waist. One twin is stronger than the other, containing the vital organs that support both. If the babies aren't separated, they will both die - if they are separated, the weaker will die. The government may force the parents to save the one child, thereby killing the other. Does the government have the right to make such a decision for parents?


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Does the government have the right to tell parents that they can or cannot let their child die? The parents want to let "God decide" the lives of their daughters, but if it will lead to certain death for both, can that be viewed as neglect? (For example, a parent may say, "I will not feed my baby, and let God handle it." Obviously the child would die and the parent held responsible.)

If the government is allowed to decide that the twins must be separated, would that be opening the door for other decisions by the government, such as deciding if a child could or could not go off life support?

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Whose right to choose? | 155 comments (143 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
Where do you start? (3.14 / 7) (#2)
by reggyt on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:05:56 AM EST

Over the last few months I have seen and heard many reports on this in The UK. I would like to see this posted front page because I believe it will provoke discussion of a type we don't see very often.

At The BBC there is another article which gives some insight into the feelings of one of the guys having to make a judgement on this case. I'm happy I don't have to do that kind of thing for a living.

For the record my current opinion is that the courts should never have been involved.


"The importance of being earnest" -- A man called Ernest.
A couple more points (4.00 / 10) (#3)
by douglas on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:10:18 AM EST

There's been (obviously) quite a lot of discussion of this in the UK. Some medical experts seem to be claiming that the weaker twin is effectively just a teratoma, an abnormal growth, which should not have been given a name. I believe it is not clear whether the weaker twin is conscious (though I could be wrong).

Some other comments in the Observer said that the parents' statement suggested that they were worried about the effort/cost to them involved with looking after the stronger twin if she should survive. I can understand their position, but it does cast a slightly different light on the case than the pure 'let us follow our religious beliefs' that a cursory reading would suggest.

There's a lot of material about this case on the BBC website.

D

Split....... (2.66 / 6) (#14)
by reggyt on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:19:49 AM EST

News at The BBC in this article says that the judges have ruled for the twins to be separated.

I'm not flaming here, but I've seen posts asking why we are discussing this on K5. This for me is absolutely fundamental stuff and worthy of frank and open discussion on any site.

My point of view has not changed. This is wrong.


"The importance of being earnest" -- A man called Ernest.
This is a non-story (1.62 / 8) (#15)
by _cbj on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:39:26 AM EST

The law is clear on this already: an adult can only refuse medical treatment on behalf of themselves, not their children or anyone else. The parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and think this grants them rights above the law. It's really a non-story, British news is just a cloying populist mess right now.

Not the usual medical treatment. (4.33 / 6) (#24)
by Merekat on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:02:34 PM EST

Yes, an adult can only refuse medical treatment on behalf of themselves. Normally, however, medical treatment does not guarantee death without breaking the law. The law is clear on this too. Religious issues aside (and the parents are Catholic, not Jehovah's Witness), think about being asked to allow the death of one of your children so the other can survive. Then think about being forced to do this.

It would only be a non story if all available options to the parents and the courts did not result in the death of at least one human being.
---
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show
[ Parent ]

Re: This is a non-story (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by reggyt on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:14:30 PM EST

Why? Only by discussion and hearing of public opinion will governments change their view. In this case I believe the parents acted correctly. Just because something is enshrined in the law does not make it correct and beyond debate. Look at Jack Straw's recent bill regarding trial without jury for certain kinds of "naughty" people.


"The importance of being earnest" -- A man called Ernest.
[ Parent ]
Split....... (3.88 / 9) (#16)
by reggyt on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:57:46 AM EST

News at The BBC in this article says that the judges have ruled for the twins to be separated.

I'm not flaming here, but I've seen posts asking why we are discussing this on K5. This for me is absolutely fundamental stuff and worthy of frank and open discussion on any site.

My point of view has not changed. This is wrong.


"The importance of being earnest" -- A man called Ernest.
Re: Split....... (1.33 / 3) (#30)
by redwood on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:23:48 PM EST

Definetly good discussion material
T: "how that workin out for ya?" J: "what?" T:"being clever"
[ Parent ]
Decision appears to have been made. (2.28 / 7) (#17)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:59:54 AM EST

According to this story the Court of Appeal has decided that the twins should be separated.

This is, in my opinion, a good decision; while the parents may be devout Catholics who believe that it's "God's Will" that both girls should die, neither of the twins are. The excuse of "God's will" doesn't count if a parent neglects a child any other way, and it shouldn't count now.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown

Re: Decision appears to have been made. (4.40 / 5) (#20)
by reggyt on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:32:13 AM EST

Peter, you and I have had some discussion of high quality in the past. I am happy you have posted an opinion on this because at the moment, most people on K5 appear to "lack interest", though for me I interpret this as fear of the subject. I am happy because if we can have an adult discussion about this, maybe other people reading these posts will experience how two alternate views can both be constructive without resorting to blatant flaming or personal attacks.

Heres my angle.

I have three children. My wife has delivered four children. Unfortunately our third child in the foetal stage developed a form of spina bifada known as anencephaly (without brain, from latin). Our doctors at the time used the phrase "incompatible with life". We were advised to terminate, which is in fact what we did. The day of termination was the longest day of our lives and we'll remember it forever. We named our child Alice. My wife and I and our other two children at the time had to come to terms with the situation. For me I do not see any difference from my famliy's experience and what has happened in the case of these twins. The parents of these children did not want them separated. Somebody somewhere thought it was a good idea to interfere and force this issue into the courts. There is no guarentee that either of these unfortunate kids will survive. The only sure thing is that the both of them won't survive if they remain as they are. Is this such a bad thing?

There is plenty more to say on this, but I feel its time for the comments of another.


"The importance of being earnest" -- A man called Ernest.
[ Parent ]
Re: Decision appears to have been made. (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by mickwd on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:34:22 PM EST

A further appeal can be made to the House of Lords (the highest law authority in the UK). If this fails, a further appeal can be made to the European Court of Human Rights - EU law now has precedence over UK law.

I understand that the doctors involved will not operate on the children until the appeal process has been exhausted - unless their condition worsens.


[ Parent ]
JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (3.00 / 10) (#18)
by FFFish on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:30:43 AM EST

The Jehovah Witnesses believe that blood transfusions are wrong. They would choose to have their child die for want of readily-available blood.

There are more than a few nutcase cults that believe children should be treated in certain ways. These parents would choose to have their child neglected or abused for want of a sane parent.

And so on.

In all these cases, the courts in Canada, the US and Britain - and, I'm sure, other countries - have decided that parents can not choose to cause such harm to their children, and will take custody of the childrne to protect them.

This story has echoes of the recent child spanking/abusing discussion: do parents have the right to inflict physical abuse (from something as minor as a swat, to as major as the denial of life blood), or must our society offer those children protection against abuse?

So far, it seems that society care enough about children to protect them. Thank goodness, IMO. If we don't care enough to protect kids, then we're sure as heck not going to care enough to protect people like you and me!


Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by MarkR on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:01:20 PM EST

Please don't imply that Jehovah's Witnesses don't care about their child. We love our children as much as anyone else, it's just that the bible commands us to abstain from blood, which includes blood transfusions and products made from blood.

Besides that we accept most all other medical treatments. Also there are plenty of products available that can be used in place of blood, so we do not feel that not being able to have a blood-transfusion is a detriment at all. If anything it is a safeguard because of the various blood borne contaiminents(sp?)

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by zoltar on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:49:23 PM EST

It's not a matter of people not caring about their children. It's just another case of religion and superstition taking more lives as they have done throughout history.

<rant>
The bible "commands" people to do many horrible things. Doesn't make it right. I can find justification for just about any vile act somewhere in the bible. As I understand it, one of the babies will not live no matter what. The other will live only if separated. It's a no-brainer to me unless your judgement is clouded by what you think some mythical super-being wants you to do.
</rant>

There are many precedents for this situation already. The state will not let you neglect your child in any way. They won't allow abuse or starving your child to death. How is this different? By inaction, they will allow their one child, who has a chance at life, to die.

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (4.66 / 3) (#76)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:57:33 PM EST

The bible claims that you shouldn't take the blood of others; this comes from ancient sayings meaning 'murder'.

Only fools take several thousand yeard old texts from ancient civilizations that have been translated and take them literally, word for word.


[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (none / 0) (#97)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:13:12 AM EST

The thing I find more interesting is *which* things get selected to be taken literally. I mean, the book of Leviticus says a lot of stuff....

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (none / 0) (#114)
by MarkR on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:26:18 AM EST

Thats one of the commands yes, however Leviticus 17:14 does say to abstain from the eating of blood.

And as to the your implication that I'm a fool for believing in the bible so be it. Everyone has to believe in something and I prefer to believe that there is something greater then myself that cares. Provides a much better outlook on life then those of an atheist(sp?) who says there is nothing beyond this life.

Mark R

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by FFFish on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:34:00 PM EST

"We love our children as much as anyone else, it's just that the bible commands us to abstain from blood, which includes blood transfusions and products made from blood."

It's rationales like this wot cause problems.

The bible commands a lot of stuff. And a lot of it demands or encourages behaviours that lead to discrimination, intolerance, violence and wars.

And it's not like you're following the commands of the bible at all anyway. There are some pretty clear commandments about kosher food practices which I note the JWs don't follow in the least.

If you can ignore such a significant, detailed and exacting bit of commandment as that, on a daily basis every time you sit down to eat, then you can certainly choose to ignore an obscure, colloquial bit of commandment that would lead to your loved child's imminent death.

And even if your misinterpretation of that biblical passage were right, the end result is that you put your own personal salvation above the life of your child. God ain't gonna punish your kid for actions you have made: you choose to get 'em infused, you pay the afterlife price, not your kid.

Here's an idea: free your mind from the confinements of religious dogma. Choose your life actions based on your sense of right and wrong: as a JW, I'm confident that your moral senses are pretty decent. When the dogma would have you harm someone, it's time to lose the dogma. Keep the bits that work, the bits that make our real life in the here and now go easier, more pleasantly, more cooperatively and more successfully.

Of course, this will be a hugely unpopular post with all the religionists out there. Before you vote the post, please consider whether you're doing it appropriately based on Rusty's guidelines, and not out of some sense of needing to punish me.

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (2.00 / 1) (#115)
by MarkR on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:38:55 AM EST

The bible commands a lot of stuff. And a lot of it demands or encourages behaviours that lead to discrimination, intolerance, violence and wars.

Your right many religions do promote this, but it is not part of the bible. One of the most important commandments in the bible promoted by Jesus was to love your neighbor as yourself. If you follow this it is very difficult to discriminate and/or cause violence to others.

And it's not like you're following the commands of the bible at all anyway. There are some pretty clear commandments about kosher food practices which I note the JWs don't follow in the least.

The reason this is not followed by Jehovah's Witnesses is because it is part of the old law covenant which was replaced by the new covenant, ie Jesus Christ.

If you can ignore such a significant, detailed and exacting bit of commandment as that, on a daily basis every time you sit down to eat, then you can certainly choose to ignore an obscure, colloquial bit of commandment that would lead to your loved child's imminent death.

ummm I don't ignore this commandment on a daily basis. I only eat meat that has been properly bleed. And I would NOT ignore this precept if the life of my child was in jeopardy simply because their ARE alternatives to blood. And beyond that I believe I will meet my maker, so to speak, eventually and I'd rather not have to try and explain this to him at that time. eyond that Jehovah's Witnesses believe that there will be a resurection, at which time we will see any family that may have died.

When the dogma would have you harm someone

Unlikely to happen. As I said earlier their are alternatives to blood, and even if there weren't there is still the resurection.

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (none / 0) (#119)
by FFFish on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:27:30 PM EST

Waaaaaiiitttasecond!

I quote you from above: "The reason this [kosher food practices] is not followed by JWs is because it is part of the old law covenant." Note that kosher practices are defined in Leviticus 11.

I then quote you, in message #114: "...Leviticus 17:14 does say to abstain from the eating of blood [as rationale for not taking transfusions]."

You're picking and choosing your commandments pretty arbitrarily. You don't have seperate kitchenware for kosher food practices, because that's old testament, but you don't take a transfusion... because it's an old testament commandment?!

Please know that I'm not trying to pick on you or your religion, Mark. If what you believe empowers you and helps you through life, then I'm all for it (at least up to the point where it starts to cause harm to others).

What I'm on about is the inconsistency of the thing, the gaping logical flaws that, for me, completely invalidate the system. It's not just JW faith in particular; it's almost all faiths.

If you can arbitrarily choose to follow Lev.17:14, but arbitrarily choose to ignore Lev.11, then you can pretty much pick and choose *anything* you want. In which case, you might as well pick only the things that really make a difference to improving life for yourself and others while we eke out our physical existance on the face of this planet.

IMO, YMMV, etc.

[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by MarkR on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 03:57:27 PM EST

I quote you from above: "The reason this [kosher food practices] is not followed by JWs is because it is part of the old law covenant." Note that kosher practices are defined in Leviticus 11.

I then quote you, in message #114: "...Leviticus 17:14 does say to abstain from the eating of blood [as rationale for not taking transfusions]."

Sorry should have expanded on this one. This particular command in Leviticus is also repeated later in Acts 15:28, 29 and also 21:25. So we are not really picking them arbitrarily and I didn't mean to imply that either.

What I'm on about is the inconsistency of the thing, the gaping logical flaws that, for me, completely invalidate the system. It's not just JW faith in particular; it's almost all faiths.

Your right in that many many religions do have inconsistencies and their may be a few I have yet to run across being a Jehovah's Witness. But by using the laws set forth as part of my religion it does help me to lead a better life in general and provide a hope for the future.

Also I don't mind discussing my religion, partly because that is also part of my religion (discussing it with others). Please feel free to ask any question you want and I will answer it to the best of my ability.

Mark R



[ Parent ]
Re: JDubs, Wingnuts, etc (none / 0) (#152)
by Pakaran on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 07:31:36 AM EST

The Bible commands many things.

"If a man lies with another man, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."
- Leviticus 20:13

That is one of many examples. I wonder what would happen to me, as a college student, if I started following that particular verse, or for that matter even wearing a T-shirt decorated with it.

[ Parent ]

Well... (3.30 / 10) (#19)
by DJBongHit on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:31:04 AM EST

In this particular case, the Government was correct. Parents don't have the right to refuse medical treatment for their children (only for themselves), and so had no right to let both their children die. In this case, the parents were not acting as responsible parents, and therefore the Government can overturn their judgement.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

Re: Well... (4.75 / 4) (#21)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:46:46 AM EST

Normally I would agree with you (and I do agree with your comment on medical treatment etc), but in this case I think you are wrong:

It is not a case of refusing treatment and letting a child die, it is a case of does the government have the right to sentence the second child to certain death, even if it is to save the first. Now, I'm no expert, but I thought our government (I'm from the UK) had no right to sentence someone to death.

For that reason, and that reason alone I think it is for the parents to decide whether it is morally right to kill one child to save the other (what effect will that have on the surviving child?) or to let them both die a natural death (and some experts think they could survive for a few years at least).

In any case, not a decision I would want to make.



[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (3.50 / 4) (#25)
by DJBongHit on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:05:41 PM EST

It is not a case of refusing treatment and letting a child die, it is a case of does the government have the right to sentence the second child to certain death, even if it is to save the first. Now, I'm no expert, but I thought our government (I'm from the UK) had no right to sentence someone to death.

That's just a technicality, though - when you look at the overall picture, both children would have died, and the alternative is that only 1 would die. This isn't a death sentence for one of the twins, it's a life sentence for the other.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (5.00 / 3) (#54)
by Wah on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:51:23 PM EST

yes, a life sentence. Suspiciously like one would get for murder. It's not a simple matter of 1's and 2's, it's not an accounting question.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (none / 0) (#100)
by blane on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 03:56:29 AM EST

That's just a technicality, though

Court cases are won and lost on technicalities - almost all elements of the law are about them, otherwise you wouldn't need judges and juries, just the "Big Book of Law" (or "Law by Numbers", whichever you prefer :-)

You also ignored the fact that by it's actions the courts are effectively ordering the death of a child, albeit to try (and note it is try, it is not definate) and save the life of another. Does the court have the right to value one childs life above anothers? Remember, some experts have said they could both survive for a while. There is no guarantee either will survive the operation. The court could possibly be shortening both their lives with the decision to seperate - is that state sanctioned murder?

As I said - difficult decisions, not ones I would want to make.



[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (4.66 / 3) (#29)
by redwood on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:22:30 PM EST

So the government has a "right" to determine what care these children are given? What other "rights" does the government have over you, I guess you signed that waiver at birth huh. The one that gives the government the "right" to who you are and what you produce. What you are suggesting is that those people should not have their freedom. They are not free to deal with their own issues in a way they see fit, because the way they would deal with them would be contrary to the government. What a bunch of crap. I agree that parents should be held accountable for physically damaging their own children, but that is not what happened in this case. These parents did not cause this problem, so if they feel religion is the cure all then let them be. They have to deal with the consequences.
T: "how that workin out for ya?" J: "what?" T:"being clever"
[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (4.66 / 3) (#36)
by rusty on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:20:33 PM EST

What you are suggesting is that those people should not have their freedom. They are not free to deal with their own issues in a way they see fit, because the way they would deal with them would be contrary to the government.

This sounds appealing, but think about it this way: Does the government determine that you don't have the right to beat your children? I certainly hope so. Yes, in most cases leaving people free to deal with things in their own way is a good thing, but sometimes it's not. In this instance, the government says "We won't let you allow both children to die, when one could be saved." Maybe it's interfering with the parents "freedom", but the goal is to save a child's life. I think the life of a baby is more important than the religious beliefs of the parents, in almost any instance, but particularly this one.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: Well... (5.00 / 3) (#62)
by vinay on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:28:17 PM EST

There is a line where the government can and can't intervene. I think I agree that "the life of a baby is more important than the religious beliefs of the parents." At the same time, that's not all that's at stake here. There's another baby that's dying, so another can live. No, I can't beat my kids (wait.. I don't kids, but if I did, wouldn't be able to beat them.. not that I want to..). I also can't kill my kids. Are they killing their child by not wanting the operation? I guess that point is up for discussion. Are they killing their child by allowing the operation? (Mary) Again, that point is also up for discussion. It brings into play the idea that one life is worth less than two lives. I'm really not sure that's true (and neither is the opposite).

-\/

"I will paint my picture Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray All of the beautiful colors are very very meaningful Greg is my favorite color I felt so symbolic yesterday If I knew Picasso I would buy myself a gray guitar and play"-Mr. Jones, Counting Crows

-\/


[ Parent ]
Offtopic (none / 0) (#106)
by fluffy grue on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:11:03 PM EST

I don't like getting into religious debates, so I'm going to stay out of this one.

However, in your signature...

Since when is Greg a color? :)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Offtopic (none / 0) (#128)
by vinay on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:31:23 AM EST

:-) check the song lyrics for Mr. Jones.

www.countingcrows.com

-\/

-\/


[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (4.75 / 4) (#41)
by knightphall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:46:29 PM EST

>What you are suggesting is that those people should not have their freedom.
>They are not free to deal with their own issues in a way they see fit, because the
>way they would deal with them would be contrary to the government.


They are not free to deal with their own issues in a way they see fit because they do not have the right to allow two people to die when there is a possibility of saving one.

Two people are drowning, you have time to save one of them. Saving one would be condemning the other to death. Do you just stand there, watching them drown? No, you make a quick decision (which can be saved?) and offer help. Hopefully you can live with your decision, knowing that you did what you could. The situations sucks, but just standing back and watching both die is not (in my opinion) a valid response.


-- To most people solutions mean finding the answers.
But to chemists solutions are things that are still all mixed up.

[ Parent ]
Re: Well... (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by Wah on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:44:31 PM EST

Even if your analogy were correct (and I think it was flawed), given this particular case, I can very much see the surviving twin asking her parents quite frankly "Why didn't you let me drown?" and "Why did you kill my sister?".

There are times when one must stand back and let nature take its course. The true hubris here is that a government know what is better for a family than that family.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
I don't know (3.75 / 8) (#22)
by vinay on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:52:01 AM EST

that it's as easy as, oh, the parents are refusing to give proper medical care.

all considering, no matter what, someone's going to die. Why is it right that Mary (the weaker, so-called 'parasitic' child) should die to preserve Jodie's life? At the same time, why is it right that they should both die? As the abc article says, there is no right answer, just a choice between two wrongs.

I'm not saying I disagree with the ruling. I guess if I were that judge, I might make the same ruling. Still, I think it's important to remember that there is no right answer.

-V

-\/


Re: I don't know (none / 0) (#117)
by Jongo on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 06:22:14 AM EST

Well, the decision has been referred to as "The lesser of two evils". There's no way out. This sort of case has happened before, and I'm still not sure as to why it's been so sensationalized.

[ Parent ]
My thoughts. (3.71 / 7) (#23)
by mindstrm on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:55:55 AM EST

As for rights, that is a matter for the courts.

I was listening to this on the radio this morning... and one lady that phoned in said something I think I agree completely with.

The government intervenes if we find someone beating their kids.
The government intervenes if we find someone killing their kids.
The government intervenes if we find someone mistreating their kids.
The government intervenes if we find someone who is starving their child to death.

Given that it is known fact that both these children will die if they are not separated, and only one will die if they will (which is inevitable anyway), it would be wrong of the parents, by this logic, to not separate them and save at least one.

I have to agree that this is not really any different than many cases there are already precedent for.

Now.. the other argument, of course, is that the government has no business in any of these cases, and that a child's fate is up to their parents. That's a debate I won't enter.



Re: My thoughts. (1.50 / 4) (#27)
by redwood on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:14:06 PM EST

Isn't that the debate though?
T: "how that workin out for ya?" J: "what?" T:"being clever"
[ Parent ]
Re: My thoughts. (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by knightphall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:26:04 PM EST

>Now.. the other argument, of course, is that the government has no business
>in any of these cases, and that a child's fate is up to their parents. That's a debate
>I won't enter.


How is it that the child's fate (living or dying) is up to the parents? The parents do not have the right to purposely allow their child to die. The government, then, in my opinion must do something to seperate the children, allowing one a chance at life. I agree that it would be a painful position to be in, sentencing one child to death for the life of another, but when the alternative is two deaths, there is no alternative. This may set a legal precedent, but I believe that any future cases even remotely similar to this should be decided on a case by case basis, rather than saying "Well, this is how they did it that time..."


-- To most people solutions mean finding the answers.
But to chemists solutions are things that are still all mixed up.

[ Parent ]
Re: My thoughts. (4.66 / 3) (#58)
by vinay on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:59:22 PM EST

Given that it is known fact that both these children will die if they are not separated, and only one will die if they will (which is inevitable anyway), it would be wrong of the parents, by this logic, to not separate them and save at least one.

It's is not a "known fact." Not by any means. This is the professional guess of the medical experts who have been asked. If the twins are left joined, they've been given an estimated lifespan of anywhere from a few months to (I believe) a year or two. As another poster noted, in a year or two, the medical technology might exist to prolong it to a few decades, or even separate and save them both.

In effect, you're saying that life.worth < (life.worth x 2). Do you really thing that lives can be quantified that way? I guess what I'm saying is, I don't. I wouldn't want to kill one child to save the other (though I might, after studying all the facts more thourougly).

There is no right answer here. Either way, someone's going to die. And it sucks.

-\/

-\/


[ Parent ]
This is up to the parents (3.66 / 6) (#26)
by redwood on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:10:28 PM EST

Many women find themselves pregnant, sometimes without a father. It is the parents right to decide wether to give birth to the child or abort it. It seems that once the child is born, even if it is permanently damaged(or will die as the one twin in this case), outsiders(government, other parents, society) feel they have a right to determine how those parents should deal with their misfortune. That is wrong. There are only two people who have to deal with the twins in death or life, the parents. They will have to deal with them both dying if that is their wish, or sacrifice one to save the other. The parents moral stupidity stemming from religion makes a good case for negligence, but that is their decision. The government supports religion(example: swearing to god before testimony in legal courts)as a standard of truth and therefore should support people using it(religion) to make their decisions. Although I feel this case is absolutely negligence, it is up to the parents. They should not be persecuted if they both do die.
T: "how that workin out for ya?" J: "what?" T:"being clever"
What if God wants the gov't to choose? (5.00 / 7) (#44)
by teeheehee on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:57:49 PM EST

What about the parents that worship Satan or believe in sacrifice to protect the people of their land (like those who would toss their virgin daughters into a volcano to appease the Gods).

People, from my perspective mind you, seem to believe in religion to explain what happens in Nature. Some may argue that it's God's will that these two were born joined, and even perhaps that it was His/Her plan to raise the debate of how to treat this kind of event altogether. A "test of faith". Where's the faith in letting two children die when you have the chance to save one? I feel so much for the parents in having this decision laid at their feet, and I'm not one to side with a government's authority on matters of most kinds, but it is intriguing to me that only certain religions are accepted above the law (as in choosing not to take medicine to cure ailments easily curable, but rather praying and succumbing to the ailment - sometimes not surviving the process).

I used to be a believer. I will not disclose my former religion, as it shouldn't matter. I believed. It was easy to trust that there was a reason for everything, and there may very well be, but it's impossible to discern how to interpret the events which take place. Did God(s) mingle with the primordial soup so that eventually we would have twins born joined at the hip in days when we have ethical questions being answered by the masses instead of the few at the top of the pulpit? Pretty good one, if it's true. I tend to side more with dealing with life as if we never had evolved a distinction between right and wrong, like other animals today. If you ask a chimp mother what God(s) meant by doing this, would it care? It would want it's children to survive, and with all hopes of surviving it's own lifespan. If it had just the technology to save one and not the other, or let both die, which would it decide on?

I don't mean to degrade the situation any with my analogies, but it seems to me that there's two very well defined evils trying to take control of these two children's lives.

Two memetics:

  1. Religion: Too many of them to say which is right, and a lot of them conflict. If you believe in one you have an obligation to follow it, theoretically to the death, as you like the idea of living forever in a much nicer place than here. The difficulty is in itself the fact that there are so many and whichever one you choose you've got to live by and with all the repercussions that come with it... even if it requires watching your very own flesh and blood die by your decision.
  2. Government: We're a social sort of animal, and because we haven't worked out all our problems with each other (spawned by desires, beliefs, needs, wants, etc.) we need something to try and keep us from dying off as a race. I think our gene code would rather not like it if we killed ourselves off because of petty issues spawned from differing views of how to live life. At the same time governments have proven themselves to be infallable because humans run it, some of which (most, more likely) believe in one religion or the next, and it comes full circle to how different people think differently, and that causes strife.

What's my take on all this? I try to be a practical man. One can't be a practical man if their ethos lies in things written and preached by other men. All men and women are fallable, mind you, and it's very easy to confuse one's own desires and wishes with that of "higher authorities", especially if you have it ingrained that you have a better link to those higher authorities than everyone else and everyone else believes you. As a practical man I would spare one of the children. If it were God(s) testing me, I would fail. But my child would thank me for giving it the option to live, which would mean so much more to me than an apparition I have no evidence of existing. Like I said, I'm practical.

If God(s) are testing us in this way I have to follow MY beliefs on tests. They're not engineered properly, they don't test the right things, and the answers could not necessarily be among those available. If I were to translate this as the will of God(s), then I would interpret it as a sign that we don't have good enough medicine to a) determine the probability of this happening and decreasing it, b) have both children survive, c) prevent this from happening.

Nature tries to have us evolve, always. Sometimes what happens doesn't work, and if it doesn't then it can't propogate and happen again. In my eyes these tragic flukes happen, and it would be nice if it were a good evolutionary change and it all worked out, but where one seeks to progress then one needs to understand failure. Evolution doesn't work correctly right away, and even when it does it doesn't always continue.

Again my heart goes out to all who are directly involved in this matter, but everyone has a different mentality on how to approach these things, and it's that very difference in mentality that keeps us (as a race) from dying off completely (what if from now on all children were born as siamese twins and the ruling was that God's will was to be followed, after a while they'd see that doesn't always work). It's always very rough when two distinct ideologies collide like this. Who's right --- ? Everyone, and no one.

You want a solid answer, think one up yourself. You know if you don't like my answer you won't believe it anyways, and if you're troubled in figuring out which way to side on this you'll be easily influenced by whosever argument society claims to be the right one. I think we've all learned from history's teachings that society, as a whole, isn't always right (Inquisition, witch trials, persecution of the Jews, annhilation of almost every Native American). And while I'm right in my respects right now, I can't say I will choose the same way tomorrow... for who knows what tomorrow may bring?
(Discordia) :: Hail Eris!
Everything you've just read was poetry and art - no infringement!

[ Parent ]
Well said (2.50 / 2) (#56)
by redwood on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:53:50 PM EST

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS WRITTEN HERE TODAY.
T: "how that workin out for ya?" J: "what?" T:"being clever"
[ Parent ]
Re: What if God wants the gov't to choose? (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by cesarb on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:27:48 PM EST

Where's a +6 when you need it?

[ Parent ]
Re: This is up to the parents (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:53:47 PM EST

There are only two people who have to deal with the twins in death or life, the parents.

Funny, my parents always told me that I had a say in my life too. This isn't a "lifestyle issue", this is a "life-and-death issue".

Speaking as a parent, I can't imagine a decision much more horrible than this, but to treat it as just between the parents' and their God ignores both children.

Where do I draw the line between government intervention and government interference? "Imminent danger" sounds about right, the same sort of criteria I might use if a police officer knocked down my door and snatched my daughter -- if he did so because the house was on fire I could overlook the lack of a warrant.

How do you judge whether or not their deaths are "imminent" or even certain? Well, I suppose you talk to doctors -- lots of doctors, if need be. That's certainly imperfect, but no more so than any other expert testimony.

Just for the exercise, try in cases like this to reverse the roles: how supportive might you be of children who refuse medical care for aged parents on religious grounds? Around here if you want to withhold care you'd better have a case based on quality of life and the preferences of the patient, not just your feelings and rights.

Somehow the "unbreakable bond between parent and child" seems a bit one-sided.

[ Parent ]

Re: This is up to the parents (none / 0) (#82)
by 1111111 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:25:22 PM EST

It is the parents right to decide wether to give birth to the child or abort it.
I'm curious what you base this statement on. I assert we all have a right not to be murdered by our own parents, both before and after birth. I believe that having created a life, you implicitly take responsibility for it. I've read Peter Singer's...thoughts on the matter, and still didn't find a justification that I found satisfactory. For those of you who don't know, Singer's the guy who has claimed that parents should be able to euthanize their children up to 28 days after birth. That's really the problem with the abortion issue. You must draw a line which delineates when it's ok, and when not. What changes at 28 days? At birth? 6 months gestation? 24 weeks? Nothing. Present law seems to be based on when a fetus is viable outside the mother, and that's determined by nothing more than currently available medical technology. There is no arbitrarily drawn line. You either have the moral (as opposed to legal) right to kill your kids or you do not. I believe we do not.

[ Parent ]
Setting Precedent (4.44 / 9) (#31)
by Synonym on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:23:50 PM EST

One problem with this case is the line of reasoning that "It's Ok. to kill one person to save another". True that if the operation does not take place that both children will die, but the next question is then "When does it become Ok. to terminate one person's life in favor of another?". What if the change for survival for both twins was 0.001% with no operation, and the chance of survival for one seperated twin was 99% and the other dies? Would it then be justified to deny one the right to a chance for life? Who would decide these levels of where it was appropriate? The govement, parents, church?

One of the issues raised is the legal precident set that could then be used in future cases of a similar (but not necessarily identical) nature. It is this which makes the legal ruling so difficult to do.

Say what? (1.16 / 6) (#33)
by RiffRaff on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:46:06 PM EST

Where have you guys been? The government (any government) has the right to do whatever the hell it wants.

http://www.lp.org


http://www.lp.org Enough is enough!
[ Parent ]
Re: Say what? (2.00 / 1) (#94)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:58:57 AM EST

That's one of the nice things about the Bill of Rights in the United States. It explictly states that this isn't so. 9th Amendment 10th Amendment.

[ Parent ]
Re: Setting Precedent (4.42 / 7) (#40)
by Thaniel on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:40:53 PM EST

Doctors have to do this sort of balancing act every day. Do you give him heart surgery, knowing it has a 1% chance of being rejected, or let him live with a faulty heart that might stop in the next 10 years? It's their job to make these decisions, or at the very least advise in these decisions. I think it's pretty obvious what the best choice is in this particular situation. Either one dies now, or both die in a year. It's a sucky situation, but no one ever said life's fair.

Look at it this way. If you separate them, you rob the fragile one of a year of her life which would be spent in a hospital, probably miserable and in pain. If you don't, you rob the strong one of decades of something approaching a normal life. There is no right answer, there's just the lesser of two wrongs.

Some people would say that it's "more" wrong to have the surgery because you're actively killing one child. But is it any less of an active action than not doing anything and killing them both? If you stand back and watch someone drown while you hold a life preserver, you're no less a killer than if you pushed his head under.

[ Parent ]
Re: Setting Precedent (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by Zagadka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:14:45 PM EST

<blockquote type=cite>Doctors have to do this sort of balancing act every day. Doctors in ER's and in the military often have to do a "balancing act" between patients, just as in this case. They even have a name for this process: triage. The standard procedure is to help the patient(s) with the greatest chance of survival. In this case, that would mean saving the stronger child.

That said, I have bad feelings about the government being able to force the people to have the children separated. While I think separating them would be the right choice, I think that this isn't a decision for the government to make.

[ Parent ]

Re: Setting Precedent (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by Zagadka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:15:27 PM EST

Doctors have to do this sort of balancing act every day.
Doctors in ER's and in the military often have to do a "balancing act" between patients, just as in this case. They even have a name for this process: triage. The standard procedure is to help the patient(s) with the greatest chance of survival. In this case, that would mean saving the stronger child.

That said, I have bad feelings about the government being able to force the people to have the children separated. While I think separating them would be the right choice, I think that this isn't a decision for the government to make.

[ Parent ]

Re: Setting Precedent (4.00 / 2) (#105)
by Synonym on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:09:27 PM EST

While I agree that in this case (to me) that it is a pretty stright forward descision, I am just weary of another case coming along where, say, 2 twins, one of them terminally ill with 6 months to live is used as an organ doner for the other sibling who without a suitable doner match will die. Is this also acceptable?

I agree that doctors have a hard job to do, making decisions on matters like this. Ideally I would like to see each case of this nature looked at and decided on in isolation to other cases, so it can be judged on it's own merits. It is the way the decision made in this case could potentially influnce the outcome of other cases that concerns me.

[ Parent ]

Two People? (3.50 / 2) (#108)
by AndyL on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 05:45:29 PM EST

The way I understand it that's not really even the whole issue. In addition to a heart and a few other organs the weaker of the pair doesn't have a useful brain. To me this means that the weaker child will never be alive except in the sense that a tree is alive. I'm really not sure I'd even consider that a "person".

Lets say the odd's are 0.001% for the survival of both twins. So if the 1 in 100,000 miracle happens, Would they really be 'twins'? Or wouldn't we have one person with a person-shaped growth attached to her? If a infant is born with a disabling and likely fatal disfigurement that can be fixed, isn't fixing it the right thing to do?

[ Parent ]
Hubris (3.72 / 11) (#32)
by Rand Race on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:45:02 PM EST

One's rights, religous or otherwise, extend only up to the point where those rights infringe on another's (to put it another way; your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins). The child's right to live trumps the parent's right to inflict their religion on the child.

That said, this case is a hairy one seeing as how, barring a miracle (and what loving god would condemn two people to be congoined at the hip for life is beyond me), one or both will die no matter what. As a rationalist and atheist, saving one at the cost of another is infinately preferable to both dieing. I completely fail to grasp how someone could believe what these parents believe, it is irrational and it represents the pride that their very religion calls a sin. Even most christians believe that science and medicine are god's method of saving people. Expecting god to do his miracles in a flash of light from heaven with horns sounding and angels singing hosanahs is hubris of the worst sort.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

Moral justifications (4.00 / 9) (#34)
by Mobbsy on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:50:09 PM EST

There's much more here than a "Government intervention" scenario. There's a fundamental moral question of whether it is worse to actively kill one human or allow two to die through neglect.

This situation is a ghastly realisation of a philosophical thought experiment. It can be phrased a number of ways, but the base of the dilemma is the moral judgement between allowing many deaths through inaction or actively causing fewer deaths.

On one hand, quite simply murder is wrong. Killing a human without their consent is evil. Besides, people contribute towards many deaths every day through inaction, why are these two deaths worse than those we've already caused?

On the other hand, if there was no other way to stop them, wouldn't you want a sniper to kill a terrorist before the terrorist could blow up a building full of hostages?

I don't feel there is a right answer, particularly as even if the healthy twin is successfully separated, it is exceedingly likely that she will be badly crippled for the rest of her life. I'm just glad that I don't have to make the decision.

Define, "Will Die" (4.11 / 9) (#35)
by BTilly on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:16:01 PM EST

What I see nobody questioning is that the doctor's opinions are correct. But are they?

In the article there are two medical opinion. One is a few months. The next a few years. In a few years we might be able to make it become a few decades. (ie A reasonable lifespan.) They might not.

My wife is in medical school, so I know a couple of items relevant to this general type of situation. First of all the doctors who want to operate have careers that (among other things) are helped by their having done interesting operations. This kind of high-profile operation certainly qualifies. Therefore the doctors are not purely offering disinterested opinions. Secondly doctors have to face the fact that with the progress of medicine they will some day find that they accidentally killed people because of a lack of knowledge. (My sister's third baby suffocated to death a few months before the pediatrics community changed their recommendation from having babies lie on their front to their sides because of the risk of suffocation.)

Therefore while I think it likely that the only real chance is for the babies to be separated, I don't have enough confidence in that statement to say that the medical authorities should necessarily be able to make that decision for the parents.

Cheers,
Ben

Re: Define, "Will Die" (4.60 / 5) (#39)
by philov on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:30:04 PM EST

Yeh, I've also wondered about the complete lack of critical thinking on the account of the doctor's opinions. I've heard numerous stories about friends of friends (you know the drill) that were told: "You will die in 8 days or less" then somehow managed to live 10 more years.

I haven't seen any medical facts in this case, save the extremely vague: "There is only one set of organs." If there's only one set of organs, then there is no cojoined twin. If there is an extra set of ribs, femurs, hips, and skull with a brain, then it seems like there are at least some duplicated organs.

Exactly which organs are shared? What is the capacity of the single organs? Is there only one kidney? One stomache?

On what historical precedent did the doctors base their opinions? What current medical procedures could normally save both babies, but somehow don't apply in this case? Why do the doctors believe no medical treatment will appear in the next couple of years that would save both babies? We have nearly cloned a human being. How long before we could grow some extra organs for the cojoined twin?

I didn't see any of those questions even APPROACHED anywhere in this discussion. I admit, I didn't follow any links because beyond the blind belief in what one or two doctor's said, I don't see much here worth commenting on.

The single biggest educational problem in the United States (and probably most countries of the world) is that the children aren't actively encouraged to engage in critical thinking.

In any given professional field, a complete novice is correct about 25% of the time. An expert is correct about 50% of the time. A God: 75%. It doesn't get any better than that.

--
power to the soul, belief to the people
echo $fakeemail | sed -e 's/spammenot.//'
[ Parent ]

Important Issues that must be dealt with. (4.12 / 8) (#37)
by Strider on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:21:03 PM EST

I think that there a couple of issues which must be resolved in order to come to a rational resolution (there may be more).

First, all human life is of immeasurable value. As such, I believe that two lives are not better than one. They cannot even be compared. We cannot even predict the quality of any life that would be preserved. Even if Jodie was separated *and* survived over a year, how would we be able to guarantee that this life would not be a living hell (tubes and life support, a reconstructed lower abdomen, etc...)? My point is that these are able to base an argument for or against the opperation.

Second, there is no guarantee that either child would survive the operation - in any case. They will probably both die.

Third, the only case in which Mary is not actively sentenced to death is the case in which medical treatment is denied. In all other cases, the party deciding on the operation is *responsible* for Mary's death.

There was an interesting quote at one of the websites discussed earlier. It said something to the effect of "It is never morally correct to do something bad in order to bring about something good." This is something I have believed all my life, and IMO forcing Mary's death is wrong and should not be used to bring about the life of Jodie.

Someone said that Mary was already living on borrowed time, but by the same argument, Jodie is as well.

As probably the only survivors, the parents should be the ones to make this decision. They are the ones who are going to have to live with the death(s) of their children.

IMO This is not neglect. The parents should be able to make the decision. Their decision should be respected by the rest of us who don't know the entire situation and will in fact forget about in the days and weeks to come. They have to live with it everyday for the rest of their lives.

thank you for your time.
---
"it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
Ends Never Justify the Means? (4.33 / 6) (#43)
by weathervane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:53:33 PM EST

There was an interesting quote at one of the websites discussed earlier. It said something to the effect of "It is never morally correct to do something bad in order to bring about something good." This is something I have believed all my life, and IMO forcing Mary's death is wrong and should not be used to bring about the life of Jodie.

This is the shallow philosiphising of people who have never had to make hard decisions. I suppose we should have sat around and played checkers while the Germans were terrorizing Europe. After all, killing Germans would be morally wrong, and saving a few million Jews and Slavs could hardly justify our sins, could it? A cop breaking someone's arm to keep them from killing someone in cold blood? Completely unjustifiable. Shooting someone to stop them blowing up an entire city of people? The ends don't justify the means.

This is garbage and we all know it. Anyone who says "The ends never justify the means", is in dire need of a serious reality enema. The truth is, it depends on the ends sought, and the means used.

As far as these poor kids go, it's not an easy call. To call for the death of one to save the life of another is not an easy decision to make, and to put that power in the hands of the government makes it even less palatable. But the parent's comment that the death of their children is 'willed by God' makes me sick. Are these the sort of people you would want making life and death decisions about you?

It's not a simple situation, there is no black or white here, only an unending field of grays. Were I the judge, I would seek as many medical opinions as possible, examine the competency of the parents to make such a grave decision, and assuming that all the facts were as reported, order the operation.



[ Parent ]

Re: Ends Never Justify the Means? (4.20 / 5) (#51)
by vinay on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:40:15 PM EST

This is the shallow philosiphising of people who have never had to make hard decisions. I suppose we should have sat around and played checkers while the Germans were terrorizing Europe. After all, killing Germans would be morally wrong, and saving a few million Jews and Slavs could hardly justify our sins, could it?

This is the shallow statement of someone who hasn't actually thought things through. It hasn't been stated that killing is morally wrong. What he did say (ok, he didn't actually say this, but I'm going to read into what he said and give my own spin to it), is that it's morally wrong to kill someone who hasn't done anything wrong. In that light, the poster can both feel that taking Mary's life is unreasonably, and believe that WW2 was a morally correct means.

Now, I don't completely disagree with you. But the parent's comment that the death of their children is 'willed by God' makes me sick.

I agree with you, there, but for different reasons (I think). I think the parents have given up here. It's perfectly understandable, but a little sad.

It's not a simple situation, there is no black or white here

here again, you're right. There is no black or white. There is no right answer.

-\/

-\/


[ Parent ]
Re: Ends Never Justify the Means? (3.85 / 7) (#57)
by weathervane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:56:09 PM EST

Do you think that every german soldier had actually performed evil acts? Are bombing operations where civilians might be killed intrinsically indefensible? Even if they've been placed there as a human shield?

I did think my comments through: the whole 'we must avoid all evil acts' strain of argument drives me crazy because it leads to passivity in the face of greater evils. My temper probably led me to build a few straw men and blow them away in the wind, but my point holds: sometimes we must commit evil to prevent greater evils. To wave away this responsibility is an act of cowardice, and makes our world a playground for those with less finely developed morals.

[ Parent ]

Re: Ends Never Justify the Means? (3.60 / 5) (#61)
by vinay on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:14:33 PM EST

Do you think that every german soldier had actually performed evil acts? Yes, and no. I'm sure there were some that had misgivings or something, but the vast majority of them were engaged in the act of fucking with the rest of europe, and infringing on their rights. I think it's sad that innocent people might get killed in war, but not wrong.

To wave away this responsibility is an act of cowardice, and makes our world a playground for those with less finely developed morals.

What about Gandhi? he was a pacifist. Once again, in someways, I still don't completely disagree with you. You're right, in that, sometimes (ok, maybe a lot of the time), innocent people are going to get hurt, and there is no around that sometimes. I myself, am not a pacifist. At the same time, I don't think it's an act of cowardice to avoid violence.

I guess this is how I look at it: The germans were attacking our friends, and we defended them (our friends, not the germans. :-) Mary and Jodie are both innocent. How do just kill one of them? both of them? In the former case, we're doing something that I define as right (stopping oppression, etc.. etc), in the other, I don't think there is no right answer.

-\/

p.s. sorry about the shallow remark, that came off a little stronger than I intended. Then again, I guess I didn't appreciate your "shallow" statment. But yeah, it did come off much more harshly than I intended.. :-)

-\/


[ Parent ]
Re: Ends Never Justify the Means? (3.50 / 6) (#65)
by Strider on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:59:02 PM EST

This is the shallow philosiphising of people who have never had to make hard decisions.

I am not sure what possesed you to say this. You do not know me or the decisions I have made...

After all, killing Germans would be morally wrong, and saving a few million Jews and Slavs could hardly justify our sins, could it?

Since when is wartime killing morally wrong?

A cop breaking someone's arm to keep them from killing someone in cold blood?

Since when are police officers exempt from protecting victims?

Shooting someone to stop them blowing up an entire city of people?

Since when is stopping a bomb the wrong thing to do?

I hear your argument but I don't understand it.

Doing the wrong thing may bring about temporary benefits, but it will *always* destroy the future.


---
"it's like having gravity suddenly replaced by cheez-whiz" - rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Ends Never Justify the Means? (4.00 / 2) (#96)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:08:42 AM EST

Ok, by the standard 'net discussion rule, you lose at this point. :)

However -- this is always a tough question. It's hard to know what to do in such situations. The best solution is to work to make sure that the conditions which led to the rise of facisim never exist. Work for justice, equality, life, and fairness. Encourage communication among all people. Help different religions understand one another. Share resources when you have plenty. Fight racism. Discourage nationalism. World War II wasn't just the work of one evil man and his followers -- it was the result of a whole world doing things the wrong way.

[ Parent ]
Thoroughly foul... (4.36 / 25) (#42)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:49:33 PM EST

Warning: what follows is liable to offend many people. It is explicitly NOT intended as a troll or an invitation to a flamewar - I am quite serious about what I say, and I will ignore responses whose authors cannot be civil. However, for the betterment of us all, I'm warning in advance: if you can't handle -very- open discussion of -very- controversial issues, just go read something else. Yes, I really do think a disclaimer is necessary, and no, you should not read merely out of curiosity "just to see what could be so bad." If that was what popped into your head, then "this means you."

I don't believe the government has any business in matters such as this one, regardless of what present law says. However, the idea that anyone would allow two children to die when one can be saved is so foul that it was hard at first for me to even comprehend that it is possible. Yes, in the literal sense, separating the two will directly cause the death of one, but that one -cannot- be saved. The other can. The one which cannot has no right to exist at the expense of the other, just as I have no right to exist at the cost of being hooked to YOUR kidneys, lungs, and so on.

This is so obvious to me that I couldn't fathom any other response. Then I remembered that these people are religious - by definition, faith means telling your intellect to shove it when reality conflicts with your beliefs. At the risk of being labelled a troll, which I certainly am not, -this- is why religion has no place among civilized people, and the difficuilty posters here are having coming up with a clear "right" answer to a question like this is why we need a real secular morality instead of the relativist crap that is taught today. (Yes, I realize that any given poster may be religious. I doubt the majority are, although some may keep up a pretense of it to others, and maybe to themselves.)

See? I told you you wouldn't like it. But, I am quite serious. Relativism and religion are the moral "alternatives" offered today, and they're both lousy tools for anyone but skeptics and dogmatists, neither of whom has any chance of properly resolving -any- moral situation except by pure luck. Now, kids, watch as my mojo goes straight to hell:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

A fellow objectivist I see (2.60 / 10) (#47)
by skim123 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:19:53 PM EST

I agree with most of what you say. However, one must ask if the babies' rights to life are in their hands or in their parents. If the parents have complete control and decision over the right to life for their children, then it is the parent's call.

Imagine for a moment that these two were adults, and that a doctor had informed them that they had one year to live if the other wasn't separated (which would cause death to the parasitic one). Now... talk about an interesting case there!

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.23 / 17) (#48)
by vinay on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:23:04 PM EST

If you don't mind, I'm just going to give a point by point rebuttal. And don't worry, I'll be perfectly civil.

Then I remembered that these people are religious - by definition, faith means telling your intellect to shove it when reality conflicts with your beliefs

That is by no means true for everyone. While I won't argue that some people do do this, it's definitely not true for everyone. I know it's not true for me. Faith can also be an explanation of those things for which there is no other explanation, among other things.

The one which cannot has no right to exist at the expense of the other

This is an incredibly harsh statement. What happens if we expand the scope of it? What about people with mental disabilities? People who are blind or deaf? In large part, these people rely on society (in the form of their family and friends, as well as society at large). Should we kill all of them? do they have no right to exist at the expense of those with full mental or physical faculties? I would argue that yes they do have the right to live. Why? Because everybody has something to contribute, even if they don't happen to have their own heart and lungs.

I have no right to exist at the cost of being hooked to YOUR kidneys, lungs, and so on.

Yeah, I do. Just kidding. You're right, I have absolutely no right to be hooked up to your lungs and kidneys without your permission. Now, in the case of little Jodie and Mary, who owns these precious bodily organs? Jodie, because they're seated in her body? that might be a good way of measuring it. What if Mary had formed the organs, and they ended up in Jodie? then who has rights to them. It's not a case that's so easily simplified. An argument is easily made that they both have rights to them.

a question like this is why we need a real secular morality instead of the relativist crap that is taught today.

You're assuming that, forgoing religion and relativism, that all humanity would believe the same thing, and have the same priorities. Based on this, it would be easy enough to say, ok, we all know what right and wrong is. This just isn't true. We all have different beliefs, and vastly different priorities. I'd argue that there are few situations where this is one and only one right answer.

See? Me play nice! :-)

-\/

-\/


[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.50 / 6) (#68)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:23:09 PM EST

I know it's not true for me. Faith can also be an explanation of those things for which there is no other explanation, among other things.
Why do you want an explanation so badly that you will accept one which is essentially guaranteed to be wrong? I can understand taking a best guess and then accepting the fact that you might later be shown to be wrong, but religion per se is not a best guess - it is the enshrinement of a host of assumptions, most of which were made in order to create positions of influence for those who "herd the flock" rather than because they really made any sense whatsoever.
This is an incredibly harsh statement. What happens if we expand the scope of it? What about people with mental disabilities? People who are blind or deaf? In large part, these people rely on society (in the form of their family and friends, as well as society at large).
They do not have a right to live at someone else's expense, but that does not mean they won't live. The key is that people willingly help those people.
Should we kill all of them?
Certainly not, but it would be wrong to seize the resources of the unwilling in order to keep them alive. Fortunately, that is almost never a problem, because despite what politicians might have you believe, people are pretty generous if left to their own devices. Of course, generosity can be limited by fiendish taxation...
I would argue that yes they do have the right to live. Why? Because everybody has something to contribute, even if they don't happen to have their own heart and lungs.
The implication I -think- I see(correct me if I'm wrong,) is that everyone has a right to live, even if it means taking from others who are not willing to give. I disagree. The reason would take quite a bit of space, but if you search for the phrase "negative rights" you will probably find more on the subject than you can read anyway. The -very- short form is basically that all rights derive from the right to your own life(which explicitly is NOT a right to live regardless of who has to pay for it,) and that rights cannot conflict. Rights are expressed as restrictions upon the behavior of others; for instance, your right to property is a right not to have it taken away, as opposed to a right to be given property. Your right to speech is a right not to be silenced, as opposed to a right to be given a microphone to speak into. This is a much bigger subject than this tiny explanation can convey, though.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.50 / 2) (#91)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:31:14 AM EST

The negative rights concept sounds appealing, but I don't think that it is ultimately just.

Take for example property rights: it sounds reasonable to say "our right to property is a right not to have it taken away". However, that doesn't take into account how you might have gotten that property. Unfortunately, if you trace back far enough, the answer usually seems to come down to theft. Look at the United States, for example. A vast majority of the property here was taken from the native people in an extremely unfair way. I don't see how one can build a just system of "no taking this from me" ultimately based on force and trickery.

But even in the ideal case, if we were to assume that some bit of land was uncompletely unclaimed before I stepped on it, why exactly would stepping there first give me some sort of magical right to not allow anyone else there? That doesn't really make any sense. Does this extend to intellectual property as well? (I don't see why not.) What if I think of the number "6" before anyone else? Do I have the right to not have that idea stolen from me?



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (2.00 / 1) (#135)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:45:41 PM EST

Have -I- ever stolen any property? No. Have the people I rent from? No. Have any of us? No. History may be fortunate or unfortunate, but the Judeo-Christian notion of inherited sins is invalid, and we are not responsible for what was done hundreds of years ago. Today, we have a chance to be a free nation, with opportunity for all, but instead we're slowly sinking into the same socialist cesspool that is currently eating away at most of the rest of the world. I don't know if I can do anything about that, but I'll certainly keep trying to make it clear to people what is going on.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#143)
by mattdm on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:15:44 PM EST

At what point does violation of rights become meaningless? If someone were to steal something from you and give it to me, would you then lose your right to it? Didn't the native people have any right to the land they were living on? Why do they no longer? I'm not suggesting that all current land in the US be given back to the native people -- as you suggest, that's not actually going to be very helpful to anyone. However, I'm still extremely curious as to where you believe the right to property come from. (By the way: I'm not advocating socialism by any means here -- I'm not sure where that comment came from.)

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#149)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:26:16 PM EST

Violation of rights does not become meaningless. It isn't meaningless, and it never will be. If anyone alive today stole anything, he should be forced to make reparations. If I am in possession of property stolen from someone, then a complex chain of legal events needs to occur to set things right, and exactly how that works depends on a lot of circumstances. However, the fact is, nobody alive today stole land from any natives, nor are there any remaining victims of such theft among the natives. The records don't even exist to tell us who stole what from whom, when, and by what means, much less how the property was split up, merged with other deeds, bought, sold, and so on afterward; there is no conceivable legal resolution of this matter - we all, including the natives, are better off moving forward, regaining our freedoms, and benefiting from the absolutely amazing power of a modern economy to better ourselves than we can possibly be if we try to "set things right."

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Another situation (3.00 / 3) (#99)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:50:50 AM EST

This is a scenario in reverse from the problem of the babies, but I think useful for talking about the issues of "rights". Consider these:

Case A: You and I live in on adjoining plots of land in a desert. We're both out of water and about to die. Suddenly, a very small rainstorm comes along. It's a really small storm -- it only hits my property, and I manage to gather most of it in a barrel. It turns out to be exactly twice as much as one person needs to last through the dry season. However, I refuse to share with you. In desperation, you come over during the night and take half of my water. We've now both got enough to last 'til the next storm.

Case B: Same thing, except this time I stay up all night and prevent you from taking any water. In the morning, you're dead of dehydration.


Now, according to what you're saying about negative rights, Case B is the only morally acceptable situation. In Case A, you violated my right to not have property taken away. But in Case B, no one's rights even came into it -- you don't have a right to water at my expense.

This seems completely absurd! It's arbitrary and unjust, and no way to build a functioning society.

[ Parent ]
Re: Another situation (2.00 / 1) (#129)
by vinay on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 08:49:09 AM EST

Quick reply, them me work.. :-)

Anyway. I think it's an interesting belief that their is a basic set of human rights, that we could all adhere to. At the same time, I think it's entirely possible (as, I believe mattdm has stated) that priorities are different, that murder is unjust, even though it might cause some entity's demise. An extension to this is that it's entirely possible that multiple, disparate groups agree on this discrete set of rights. It still remains that they might have different implementations that would almost certainly cause disagreement. For example (and I'm sticking my neck out here, so feel free unlimber those battle-axes), muslim women are required to remain extremely covered up, to the point of wearing veils and whatnot. As seen by the western world, this is an example (albeit, a small one, and others exist) of how they oppress their women. Now, not all muslim women accept this, and many (at least in the states), dress however they want to. It is also true that many muslim women who live in the states dress as their beliefs dictate.

Here's the point: Who are we to dictate that this "oppression" is wrong? We feel it's wrong according to our view of things, but they (even the so-called 'oppressed') don't.

-V

-\/


[ Parent ]
Re: Another situation (none / 0) (#136)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:51:15 PM EST

Having met and/or heard/read many arab women, I'm convinced that the majority might remain silent in the face of a religious tyranny that would murder them for dissent, but they do not want the chains their society places on them anymore than women anywhere else would. This is related to the argument that is often made that "we should not destroy the culture of blah blah pisshole deathtrap country," ignoring the fact that the people of that country would give their collective left arm for a chance at life expectancies over 30, homes built of something besides mud and straw, reasonable health care, sane wages, and so on.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.40 / 5) (#70)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:35:03 PM EST

Oops. I'm an idiot now. Forgot to respond to one other part that I needed to respond to. It is true that even moving away from religion and relativism, people would not all agree on one morality. However, the differences would tend to shrink over time instead of growing, presuming that people were any good at all at the act of deciding what morality best suits and supports human life(which is the standard I think should be applied.)

I personally am fairly uninterested in arguments over who has rights to whose organs, because the fact is, one of them can be saved by virtue of currently "possessing" the organs, and the other cannot be saved regardless of what is done. I can't imagine that organs developed in A and then moved over to B later anyway, and I doubt there's any way to tell, seeing as they have the same DNA. At this point, legally and ethically, those organs belong to the one who has some chance of living.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (1.00 / 9) (#49)
by RiffRaff on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:23:40 PM EST

Hear, hear...
http://www.lp.org Enough is enough!
[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.30 / 10) (#50)
by Wah on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:30:12 PM EST

While I agree with most of your sentiments, I simply cannot agree with your conclusion. That's the type of thinking that keeps the terminally ill on life support until all their money runs out. It's the type of thinking that put Kevorkian in prison. The right answer is what the parents decide to do. The state should have no say. Looking at the artists rendering, it would probably be best if both children were allowed to die. If they don't, and life can be quite tenacious, then so be it. But, I really don't see where you have any right to condemn the parents hiding behind some "religion is stupid" argument. oh, and your disclaimer applies here too.:)
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.16 / 6) (#67)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:02:47 PM EST

Actually, I'm all for terminating life support for people who are terminally ill unless they have a proper source of funding. If they have insurance that pays, or can afford it themselves, or someone chooses to support them, then assuming they can't or don't choose to die, so be it. However, they have no right to live at someone else's expense. Kevorkian should be a free man for the same reason; people who choose to die have a right to do it, and to procure whatever assistance they can find from whomever wants to offer it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.00 / 3) (#92)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:44:35 AM EST

Everyone always lives at the expense of those around them. That's the way interacting with the universe works.

Do people have a right to live at the expense of others? If we have a right to live at all, we must. A society that works well needs to recognize this.

I'm always confused by libertarians on this point; on the one hand, they say that people are basically good and that if left to their own devices, there would be more than enough charity for those in need. On the other hand, they say even more loudly that there is "no right" to this. Well, why not? We are society, after all, and we're the ones who get to say what rights members of society have. If it is more just and more good for there to be a basic right to life, why not have one?



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.00 / 2) (#112)
by plastik55 on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 11:51:43 PM EST

Everyone always lives at the expense of those around them. That's the way interacting with the universe works.

Well, I generally consider most of my friends to be a benifit to my life. Not an "expense." Their existence produces a positive effect on my life. And someone whom I have never met usually does not live at my expense. That's the way community works.

We are society, after all, and we're the ones who get to say what rights members of society have.

Interpreted literally this is a statement of Populism, and is very much opposed to libertarianism. In the libertarian philosophy basic rights are a constant, and if 49 of people disagre with, those 51 and 0.01%% the libertartian position does not waver. Hence to call simething a "right" is a very grave statement, and is difficult to apply to a situation like life support for the terminally ill, where a significant number of people would not agree that they should be paying to prolong someone's already doomed life. Pather let those willing to pay the expense, pay the expense.

A libertarian does not disagree that society needs charity; rather he disagrees that the government should choose what charities he should support.


w00t!
[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (1.00 / 1) (#113)
by plastik55 on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:01:36 AM EST

Good grief--something seriously mangled this in between "Preview and "Post" I'll try it again <i>without </i> clicking preview.<p>

<i>Everyone always lives at the expense of those around them. That's the way interacting with the universe works.
</i><p>

Well, I generally consider most of my friends to be a benifit to my life. Not an "expense." Their existence produces a positive effect on my life. And someone whom I have never met usually does not live at my expense. That's the way <i>community</i> works.<p>

<i>We are society, after all, and we're the ones who get to say what rights members of society have.</i><p>

Interpreted literally this is a statement of Populism, and is very much opposed to libertarianism. In the libertarian philosophy basic rights are a constant, and if 49%% of people use their rights in a way that 51%% of people disagre with, those 51%% do not have a right to interfere, or vote to take away that right. Even if the percentages were 99.99%% and 0.01%% the libertartian position does not waver. Hence to call simething a "right" is a very grave statement, and is difficult to apply to a situation like life support for the terminally ill, where a significant number of people would not agree that they should be paying to prolong someone's already doomed life. Pather let those willing to pay the expense, pay the expense. <p>

A libertarian does not disagree that society needs charity; rather he disagrees that the government should choose what charities he should support.<p>
w00t!
[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by mattdm on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 03:09:06 PM EST

Well, I generally consider most of my friends to be a benifit to my life. Not an "expense." Their existence produces a positive effect on my life.

Ideally, this is true of everyone in society.

And someone whom I have never met usually does not live at my expense. That's the way community works.

Perhaps this would be true for a simple society in an infinite world. Our society is complex enough (and our worlds small enough) that you affect and are affected by many people you've never met and never will.

In the libertarian philosophy basic rights are a constant, and if 49 of people disagre with, those 51 and 0.01%% the libertartian position does not waver.

So where does the libertarian think that these basic rights come from? God? Nature? If so, why is property a basic right and not life? Or phrased negatively, as someone earlier suggested, why is there a right to not have stuff taken away, but no right to not have your life taken away?



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#123)
by mattdm on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 03:10:44 PM EST

Huh. I copied your quote about percentages from your other message where you repost it correctly, and it mangled it for me too. Sorry about that -- I actually did read the correct statement.

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#134)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:42:21 PM EST

Or phrased negatively, as someone earlier suggested, why is there a right to not have stuff taken away, but no right to not have your life taken away?
There is such a right. I cannot murder you or otherwise wrongfully deprive you of your life - but that is not the same as a right to be kept alive at someone else's expense. Healthcare, homes, food, and so on do not grow on trees. They cost people money to obtain, and you have no right to enslave doctors, construction workers, farmers, and so on, nor anyone who purchases their products. This is the problem that you don't seem to pick up on: it is no more right to enslave people than it is to steal from them or kill them, and the governmental attitudes that I am opposed to have done ALL of these things.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#139)
by mattdm on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:42:54 PM EST

Hmmm, actually, some food *does* grow on trees. :)

Point taken. However, making a huge distinction between passively taking someone's life and doing it actively seems a bit disingenuous. (See my post elsewhere in this story about water in the desert.)

Slavery is one thing, but in most cases, the situtation isn't that extreme.

Given your answer, let me ask my question a bit differently. Why is the right to have stuff regarded as *stronger* than the right to life? Why does one have a right to horde natural resources beyond what one needs at the expense of other people?


[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#144)
by mattdm on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:19:02 PM EST

Why does one have a right to horde natural resources beyond what one needs at the expense of other people?

"One" in the above being: me, you, the government, corporations, whoever.



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#150)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:33:28 PM EST

Why does one have a right to horde natural resources beyond what one needs at the expense of other people?
Why is your standard of value based on need, which is indeterminate, versus earning, which is clear-cut and inarguable? The former leads to politicking, pandering, "poor" people with cars and television sets, and so on; the latter leads to a culture in which people rise as far as they can and want to, and opportunity for those at the bottom is immeasurably greater than it could possibly have been had they not had betters on whom to rely.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#151)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:36:16 PM EST

I don't think the distinction between someone dying and me killing him is disingenuous in the least; if I choose to help him or am previously obligated, that is one thing, but why should I be obligated against my will merely by the fact that he has come into misfortune?

As for slavery, what do you suppose it is if I tell you that "you're free, but whenever we decide we need you, you must do what we tell you?"

And as for the right to property vs the right to life, assuming you mean the right to life as I've defined it, property is merely a subset; it is your insistence upon a right to life that includes infringing upon those of others in times of need that causes a conflict, and that is because your idea is incorrect:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.00 / 2) (#138)
by plastik55 on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 11:26:02 PM EST

So where does the libertarian think that these basic rights come from? God? Nature? If so, why is property a basic right and not life?

That's one of the things I've always been somewhat confused about. A lot of hardcore Libertarians speak of the Framers of the Constitution with a kind of hushed awe, and take the Bill of Rights as holy writ. Myself, I just agree with them more than most other political positions.

Note that the Libertarian Party has been unable to reach a coherent position on abortion, which is a related issue. It shows the high value with which they hold the internal consistency of their logic--they'd rather leave it out of the platform than allow it to come in and contradict some other principle which they hold dear.
w00t!
[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#140)
by mattdm on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:50:26 PM EST

The framers of the Bill of Rights almost certainly believed that rights came from God/Nature (which are approximately the same thing in a Deist worldview). I think a lot of libertarians could do with a good look at the 9th Amendment, or at the Declaration of Independence, where Locke's "life, liberty, and property" was changed to "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness".

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#148)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:40:15 PM EST

Notice that the declaration of independence was written hastily to declare an intent to fight for and earn soveriegnty, whereas the constitution was deliberated over, because it was the core of a new system of law. The intent of the two documents is entirely different, as is the amount of thought put into them, and in any case, the particular item you cite from Locke was changed for a very simple reason: most people understand "the pursuit of happiness" to include what Locke meant by "property," but many people would mistake a "right to property" to mean the "right" to appropriate property under some circumstances or other, which of course was never intended.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.00 / 1) (#133)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:35:17 PM EST

Everyone always lives at the expense of those around them.
I do not. I will not knowingly take anything from someone who does not owe me, with a couple of exceptions that amount to taking what was taken from me improperly in the first place.
If it is more just and more good for there to be a basic right to life, why not have one?
Consider what your "right to charity" would mean. It means that if I am worthless, or if I can make myself appear worthless to the governmental goons in charge, then I am entitled to take from someone who is not and who has chosen to take responsibility for his life and advance himself. It is the right of the useless, hopeless, and worthless to steal from the successful, hardworking, and honest. It is the right of the bad to take from the good, and frankly, it is disgusting. This is not the same "right to life" that many people speak of; the right not to be murdered is not the same as the right to seize property to further an existence you cannot or will not support for yourself. Charity as a voluntary act is noble; charity at gunpoint is loathsome.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.44 / 9) (#59)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:03:30 PM EST

Then I remembered that these people are religious - by definition, faith means telling your intellect to shove it when reality conflicts with your beliefs. At the risk of being labelled a troll, which I certainly am not, -this- is why religion has no place among civilized people, and the difficuilty posters here are having coming up with a clear "right" answer to a question like this is why we need a real secular morality instead of the relativist crap that is taught today.

Speaking of relativism, what basis is there for a "real secular morality"?

It seems to me that to start making "moral" judgements, one has to enter into the realm of faith of some sort or the other. The definition of 'good' and 'foul' are truly relative phenomena unless they are handed down by an 'outside' source which is what most religionists claim.

[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.66 / 6) (#66)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:59:31 PM EST

My answer depends on my concept of what "morality" is in the first place. To most religious folks, it is the rules as handed down from on high. You follow them because that's what you do, period. To most relativists, it is nothing but a set of personal preferences. To me, it is a guide to action which we must create ourselves. One could argue that relativism is all you can achieve, but here are some points against that:

1) the fact that many people disagree does not mean that there is no correct answer. Similarly, the fact of not always having all the answers does not imply that there are none, or that we should not seek after them.

2) the fact that we find it hard to condemn people for taking actions they were taught to take and were taught to believe were acceptable which we find to be reprehensible(say, ownership of slaves in the first years of the US,) does not mean the actions themselves are any less reprehensible; what we are doing when we let them off easy is giving the benefit of the doubt on the question, "Was he aware that this is a reprehensible thing to do?"

3) given an acceptance of a basic theory of rights as envisioned by many thinkers in recent centuries, it is possible to define a great many things as clearly moral or immoral, and such a theory of rights might itself have a rational justification. (In fact, I believe it does, but that explanation would fill a good sized book.) This is why my argument above hinges on rights.

4) A good deal of the morality of situations that only affect yourself is in fact a matter of personal decision. This does not make it relative; the benefits of one moral choice as opposed to another are measurable, albeit perhaps incompletely and usually only after the fact - but the results are not impossible to predict. For instance, using crack cocaine is a bad decision, regardless of the legality thereof, but using toothpaste is a good idea.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.00 / 2) (#93)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:51:36 AM EST

Most relativists aren't arguing about whether or not there actually is a correct answer. The point is: instead of killing each other over our different conceptions of what it is, could we figure out some way to coexist?

You feel that your answer is rationally, justifyably, and obviously more correct than other people's. That's fine, but unfortunately, many people with diametrically opposed views think the same about their belief system. You could yell at each other for days, and no one would be swayed one bit.

So here we are as a society and as a world made up of multiple societies. We've got the technical power to destroy ourselves many times over. What are we going to do about it?



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.62 / 8) (#64)
by erotus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:52:48 PM EST

Well here goes nothing... or something...

I can understand you have religious beliefs and of course there are those out there with none. The plain truth is that nature decided that these two children be joined. In nature there is no good or bad, only consequences. It is hard to say what the right decision would be in this case. I'm not saying not to have faith in God, but to realize natures limitations and to deal with them.

The couple implies that God will decide - they are truly saying let the Darwinian principles of evolution take place and if our baby lives, it lives, and if it dies it dies. If they separate the babies are they interfering in natures process or God's process? The answer is neither. Mandkind was given the capicity by God to change nature which will have consequences. The good or bad is our actions when we don't agree with nature and/or nature's God.

If I were in their situation I would separate the children because the reality of the situation indicates that both will die if no action is taken. I will put my faith in a surgeons scapel and ask God to give me strength to accept whatever decision I've made. The government has no right to decide in the case of these twins - the parents choice, whether that decision leads to one life and a death or two deaths, should be theirs to make. I can't say I agree with their decision, but I'm not in their shoes.

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.00 / 6) (#71)
by royh on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:04:22 PM EST

by definition, faith means telling your intellect to shove it when reality conflicts with your beliefs

Well, there are degrees of faith. Part of why faith works so well is that reality is a nebulous concept.

... -this- is why religion has no place among civilized people, and the difficuilty posters here are having coming up with a clear "right" answer to a question like this is why we need a real secular morality instead of the relativist crap that is taught today.

I agree with what you're saying, but rationality has limits. There is no particular way to prove that one or another person has a right to anything. The best we can do is make as few assumptions as possible and work off of that.

It is irrational to believe in rationality.

[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.40 / 5) (#74)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:21:44 PM EST

Well, there are degrees of faith. Part of why faith works so well is that reality is a nebulous concept.
Reality is not a nebulous concept. Our understanding may be imperfect, but we are not zombies walking around in an incomprehensible realm comprised half of our own superstitions. Reality existed before we did, and it is not subject to our whims - it does not obey us, but rather we obey it, if we hope to prosper. This, in fact, is why faith fails so consistently. The fact that it fails does not stop people from believing, of course, because they know that the failure is their OWN fault. (Nothing like a guilt trip, eh? That particular element is common to every major religion. Not a coincidence.)
I agree with what you're saying, but rationality has limits. There is no particular way to prove that one or another person has a right to anything.
"Proof" is the wrong term. However, I do claim that you can demonstrate the validity of rights as a concept, and furthermore, I can offer you a simple test for whether something is or is not a right, which requires only two questions. First, does it impinge on any other right? If so, then it is not a right. Second, does it consist entirely of a limit on the behavior of others? If not, then it is not a right. If it passes both of those tests, then it is a right, and you in fact -do- possess it. That's actually a very small set, though, and they are all just subdivisions and clarifications of the basic right to your own life.
It is irrational to believe in rationality.
Immanuel Kant would have agreed wholeheartedly, but as it happens, he was wrong. It is irrational to believe that you are always going to be right. It is irrational to believe that you are going to learn everything there is to know. However, reason is the only faculty that gives us any chance of success, and if you look around you, you'll find that we're doing pretty well with it, when we give it a chance.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.33 / 3) (#104)
by royh on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:51:24 PM EST

However, reason is the only faculty that gives us any chance of success

only? says who?

and if you look around you, you'll find that we're doing pretty well with it, when we give it a chance.

I agree, despite my last comment. The point I was trying to make was that we only act in accordance with rationality because it seems to work. This does not mean the universe is rational or consistent; anyways, my last post was an attempt to soften your hard-line anti-religion stance, because, frankly, while I personally don't care for it (agnostic), I think it's way too simplistic to dismiss it as mystical nonsense, because mystical nonsense is unavoidable, considering, as you elegantly put it: It is irrational to believe that you are always going to be right. It is irrational to believe that you are going to learn everything there is to know.

[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#132)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:27:16 PM EST

If you can point at any method of coping with the world that does not involve the use of reason which has ever provided any generally recognized benefit to human beings, please do so. Otherwise, I'll keep my "hard line stance." It may not make me popular, but insofar as there are thousands of years of evidence in support of my position and nothing substantial discrediting it, I'm as convinced as I am of anything that reason is a necessary part of any attempt to truly live a human life.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#141)
by royh on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 12:56:11 PM EST

*sigh*, I'll try to be more direct. Here's what I was trying to get at:

Religion is not necessarily at odds with rationality. For the most part, religion involves taking a certain set of assumptions as truth, which really is unavoidable. Example:

If I am not mistaken, your beliefs (at least the one relevent to this discussion) would be something like this: "Life is worth preserving". From this we can rationally get to "the babies should be separated, and the weaker allowed to die".

I imagine the couples belief goes like this: "Thou shalt not kill". So from that we can rationally determine that "the babies should not be separated". Their religion precludes the active destruction of human life; presumably they believe that is worse than the resulting deaths that would probably occur. This is perfectly logical if you take that commandment as a postulate.

Taking a set of assumptions is unavoidable.

Most of these assumptions are obvious to people and commonly held.

Sometimes there are discrepancies, which is why this whole topic came up.

It is not an issue of religion vs. reason.

However, I do claim that you can demonstrate the validity of rights as a concept, and furthermore, I can offer you a simple test for whether something is or is not a right, which requires only two questions. First, does it impinge on any other right.

Your so-called "right" to be left alone impinges on my right to throw my fists at you. Your so-called "right" to life impinges on my right to kill you.



[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (5.00 / 1) (#147)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:21:28 PM EST

If I am not mistaken, your beliefs (at least the one relevent to this discussion) would be something like this: "Life is worth preserving".
While I do in general believe that life is worth preserving, this is not the basis of my argument, and it is not always true, either.

This is in fact an issue of religion versus religion, because I claim that any assumption you identify in my argument(so far, you failed to get one right, but I'll explain some of them below,) can itself be justified, and that this process can be applied recursively until we reach a set of statements that everyone agrees on(and I do mean everyone,) whether he realizes it or not.

The fundamental assumption of my argument is that there is a right to life, and that it consists entirely in freedom from active disruption of your life by others. One of these babies is using the organs of the other; this is not justifiable. It would be wrong to just kill a baby, but it is not wrong to prevent it from utilizing the organs of someone else any more than it would be wrong to remove me from a connection that let me use someone else's organs; in both cases, the parasitic individual might have come into the situation without ever knowing what happened or how, and certainly without any willful intent to infringe upon the life of another, but this does not alter the situation.

So, I have this assumption. Either it is true, or I am wrong. The assumption is that there is a negative right to life(ie, I cannot rightfully impose upon you without your consent.) Here's the kicker: the only reason human beings exist at all today is because of our minds. We have nothing else that could conceivably enable us to survive in a world of faster, stronger, better hidden, more lethal, and far more aggressive species. We can't even feed ourselves without the use of our minds. A mind, however, is a fickle thing. In order to function properly, it must be free of outside coercion; I must first observe, then think, then act on that thought, and if I cannot do these things, then either someone else will do them for me or I will die. It would be a lengthy argument to determine the exact scope of this necessary freedom, but who would disagree that the use of force against me, either to compel my thoughts or deeds or to gain advantage, certainly impinges upon this freedom?

If you don't disagree, then I've settled the matter, assuming one more little thing. That little thing is that everyone should think for himself and act accordingly. If this is false, then enslaving some for the benefit of others is not only acceptable - it is the right thing to do. That would quite possibly negate my entire argument. However, it is clear that the fundmental distinction between some humans and others that would be necessary to support such a position does not exist; we are far more alike than we are dissimilar, we all have minds, and we can and should all use them to our benefit.

Of course, I did slip in one other little assumption. This one is that human beings should continue to exist. If you disagree, then I'll rest my case for now, because while I do believe that we should further our own goals, a discussion of that subject is truly outside the scope of this story.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.57 / 7) (#90)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:10:55 AM EST

You're not being fair. Assume for a moment the existence of a god with an overall plan for the universe who also actually meddles in the particulars. And/or assume a spirit that transends the body -- eternal life of some kind, whether reincarnation or heaven or whatever.

You may not believe these things, but a lot of people do. You may think that you know more about the actual workings of the universe than someone who would believe such primative things, but think of it this way: compared to the actual universe, all of us are so basically ignorant that any difference in closeness to "Truth" is almost irrelevant. The important thing is that they're not doing this out of malice, selfishness, or stupidity. They have a very different view of the world than you.

In that worldview, it's not their place to make decisions over life and death. There are religious groups who refuse modern medicine for this very reason. If someone dies, it's not a big deal because this life is only a part of a greater scheme. To you, the best resolution is to try to guarantee the survival of at least one child through whatever means necessary. To another view, there is no such thing as a "just murder".



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.75 / 4) (#98)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:23:48 AM EST

To make myself more clear: to you, someone dying when they could be saved is the worst possible outcome. To another viewpoint, the act of killing someone is the worst possible thing -- whether someone dies or not is of course important, and potentially tragic, but when it comes right down to it, not as important.



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (3.00 / 1) (#118)
by collar on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:26:22 PM EST

Assuming that God does exist; how can the parents (or anyone for that matter) assume to know God's will or be able to know God's plan. Maybe God's plan involves the parents doing everything they can to save the twin that can be saved, pressumably His plan involved us making all the various advances that we have to this point and probably using that knowledge and ability.

For example, God gave humans legs, arms and the ability to run. I would think that, if confrunted with a large hulking beast in front of us, God's plan would probably involve us running away as fast as possible using the ability that we were given. Surely God's plan would not have us just stand there infront of the beast going "God will decide whether this beast will maul me or not, I cant mess with that". God gave us a brain larger than all other animals according to His plan, we would just be making use of that.

standard religion discussion disclaimer: I dont actually believe in any religion, I'm sorry if this post offends anyone in a way I wasnt aware of.
.sig?
[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by mattdm on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 02:41:28 PM EST

Well, presumably the parents feel that god has revealed enough of his (probably his) plan to give guidance in situations like this one.

As for your example of the "large hulking beast": I've actually heard it argued in all seriousness that we don't need to worry about working for nuclear disarmament becase only God could decide if the world is to be destroyed, so it doesn't matter what we do.



[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.00 / 1) (#131)
by trhurler on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 04:23:05 PM EST

And if they're wrong? That's the problem; we're not playing Yahtzee here - these are peoples' lives, and if those parents are wrong, they've just done something unconscionable, whereas if they're right, and this all-good, all-forgiving god exists, nothing too horrible would happen if they saved the one life. (You can argue for a god who would care; at that point, you've moved beyond any semblence of reason and into a simple "I can define "reality" to mean whatever I want" sort of rant, and I don't do those.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#142)
by mattdm on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:05:08 PM EST

And if you're wrong?

(That's not a very useful form of argument.)

I'm not going to argue for a god of any kind. However, it is apparent from the actions of the parents that they *do* believe in, as you say, a "god who would care".

As I said before, it's not a matter of "defining reality". It's a matter of "how do you figure out whose perception of reality is Better". Unfortunately, you and the parents have diametrically opposed and irreconcilable differences in worldview. Relativism isn't about saying "well, you're both right" -- it's about saying "okay, what can we do with this?".

And what can we do? Well, telling them that their beliefs are primative and unreasonable and they should do what you tell them isn't going to help anything. (And, it's an extremely dangerous road to go down once you've got the government involved -- not so long ago *your* beliefs could have gotten you burned at the stake.) A better approach might be to start with respect for their beliefs and an attempt to understand where they're coming from. Then you can talk with them *reasonably*.

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#145)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 01:32:54 PM EST

No, you can't talk to them reasonably. That's the whole point. You cannot reason with blind faith. Faith is merely a mental form of brute force; you do not argue with a gun, and you do not argue with a zealot. Both arguments would be hopeless and dangerous.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Re: Thoroughly foul... (4.50 / 2) (#137)
by anonymous cowerd on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:54:52 PM EST

...by definition, faith means telling your intellect to shove it when reality conflicts with your beliefs.

No. After all, you in your post issue dogma as freely as a religionist, but where is that "reality" which makes you so sure of your opinions on this issue? what scientific experiments can you conceive to impartially settle the ethical case yea or nay?

Reason rests upon faith just the same as the terrestrial disc rests upon the back of a giant turtle. Ultimately, if your interrogator is assiduous enough, he can bring you to the point in argumentation where you can no longer prove anything. For example, though my sister tells me she was born there, and my sister-in-law sends the family mail postmarked from there, for me it's a matter of faith that the city of New York exists. Because I've never been there to see it with my own trusty eyes (and even if I had, it's only my faith in non-hallucination that underlies my faith in the data so dubiously reported by my fallible eyes.)

If even the existence of a big gross material thing like a modern day city is a matter of faith, then how much more so is a cloudy matter like situational ethics, where there is nothing you can see hear smell or lay hands on at all?

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

"This calm way of flying will suit Japan well," said Zeppelin's granddaughter, Elisabeth Veil.
[ Parent ]

Re: Thoroughly foul... (none / 0) (#146)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 03:00:50 PM EST

Your argument is known as "degenerate skepticism." The answer to it is quite simple: it is as wrong to doubt the truth of that which all evidence suggests as it is to doubt the falsehood of that which all evidence denies. This does, of course, mean that you may occasionally believe something to be true when in fact it is false, or false when it is true, but that is the state of being human. Yes, my ethical judgements -could- theoretically be in error. However, consider what would have to change in order to make them so, and consider the evidence for and against the possibility of those changes, and it quickly becomes apparent that I can be as certain of my judgement here as when, for instance, I decide what kind of car is best suited to my needs.

One possibility is that there is a deity who arbitrarily decides what is right and wrong; in this case, what you have really done is totally redefined ethics, and done so in such a way that nobody can EVER be certain of what is right and wrong. Faith will not provide certainty for anyone but an idiot or someone willing to act like one, because it has no means of verification, and worse, because there is more than one faith, and they disagree on what is ethical - how should a person choose? (Hint: the answer, in practice, is that they either decide which appeals to them most or they choose the one they're most familiar with - neither one of which methods has ANYTHING to do with right and wrong. ) In this case, it would indeed be miraculous that humanity has not died off entirely.

Another possibility is that the second twin can be saved, but this is a medical judgement; my claim was that, IF the medical professionals are right, then THIS is the correct thing to do. If they're wrong, then all bets are off, but unless we find reason to believe that they are wrong, we should act according to the best knowledge we have. (The alternative is never to do anything unless it is known that there are no negative consequences; this is commonly advocated by cowards and fools, but if we did it consistently, the human species would be extinct within a matter of decades.) There are other possible changes that might invalidate my reasoning, but by now the pattern should be obvious; my statements are true, provided that the premises I started from are true, which is all I ever claimed in the first place.

Reason does not rest on faith unless you insist that certainty means omniscience, omnipotence, and perfect veracity. This definition of certainty is absurd; knowledge is contextual, and definitions correlate words to the concepts to which they refer, rather than being the concepts themselves. The concepts are basically categories, and the categories are defined by us in order to represent what we observe; as our observations improve, so do our concepts. Because of this, certainty and definitions are also contextual; when I say that I am certain that there cannot be a computer in which information travels at greater than the speed of light, it is implicit that I mean that this is true given everything I know, and that unlikely as it may be, it is possible that some future knowledge might require me to refine my statement in some manner or other.

Skepticism in thought is mental inaction; skepticism in deed is physical inaction - both lead only to stagnation. Neither has any answers, and neither ever will. I would rather answer and later have to correct myself than never answer at all; this course can potentially make life better, whereas the only future stagnation offers is eventual death.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Very tough decision (2.80 / 5) (#46)
by MarkR on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:06:53 PM EST

Being a fairly religious person myself I feel that the decision made by the parents has to be the toughest they have EVER made.

I honestly can not say how I would decide because as it's been stated before this has some moral and ethical dilemas in it that I would have a hard time with.

Whether or not the government should have a say in this particular case is tough too. Especially since the parents decision is based on their religious beliefs


Mark R

Re: Very tough decision (none / 0) (#107)
by TheMgt on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 04:03:20 PM EST

The fact that their decision is based on their religious beliefs doesn't give it any special status. Why somebody's beliefs about the world should be granted some different status because they are 'religion' rather than 'insanity' or 'stupidity' or whatever is just beyond me.

[ Parent ]
Re: Very tough decision (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by MarkR on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:45:25 AM EST

Religion makes a huge impact on peoples thoughts and actions. This is one of those cases where the parents have to resolve the moral and ethical beliefs they hold to reach some sort of decision.

However I am not saying that their decision is the right or the wrong decision... It is just THEIR decision. If I was put in the same position I would PROBABLY decide different from them, but I really won't ever know unless I am put in the same posistion.



[ Parent ]
Can we set a rule? No. (4.20 / 10) (#60)
by Manish on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:09:34 PM EST

Can we set a rule for these type of situations? No. Every parent who (God forbid) finds him/herself in this situation is not going to be "helped" by a strict court decision. The parents are responsible for the birth of a new entity - they must take the decision themselves. Who are you or the court to interfere in a living entity who has been created by 2 individuals not concerned with you?

Many of you may feel like thrashing me ;-) for saying the above. Humanity and Human Responsibility are the two words I am eager to see. Okay, next time you try to scold your 4-year old in the privacy of your home, remember that there will be a procession in front of your home because 10024345 people don't think you should be scolding that little entity like that.

Did I went off-topic? Sorry for that. ;-)
Manish.

But whose decision (4.60 / 5) (#75)
by dopefishdave on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:25:39 PM EST

I hate to say but I think the horrible truth of the situation is that nobody concerned wants to make a decision.

As a parent, how the hell can you decide to kill one child to save the other? I Am Not A Parent, but I know for sure that kinda decision would really mess me up inside. Imagine trying to tell your child 10-20 years down the line: "Oh yeah, you were a conjoined twin, but we killed the other to save you"... yeah... i can imagine that kinda conversation.

And what doctor, certainly in the growing UK climate, could honestly suggest killing one of them? Now, I'm sure its been suggested as medical advice but they sure as hell don't want to push it - they'll have a public backlash.

So once again, we leave it to the courts decide. Because they're SOOOO GOOOD at making decisions... [ Doesn't mention DeCSS, Napster etc... etc... etc... ](D'oh!)

Maybe I'm missing the point, but isn't this what this comes down to? We value human life so much, nobody can stand to take the decision to end it anymore, save a court, who have no choice. This isn't the first pair of conjoined twins, and it won't be the last...

We think we understand music until we try to compose it and what comes out of the piano scares the cat.
-- Robert McKee
[ Parent ]

A Pro-death Movement? (3.12 / 8) (#63)
by adamd on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:40:46 PM EST

This has indeed been a very emotive debate here in the UK and it has solicited a broad spectrum of comments, many of which are reflected in the debate here.

One thing that I do find rather unusual, however, is that there seems to be a group of people who advocate that both children should be allowed to die using religious reasoning or rhetoric as a basis for their arguments.

Perhaps this is oversimplifying, but it seems that they are advocating the kind of 'Pro-death' choice that many rightwing religious organisations so vehemently oppose in the 'Pro-choice/Pro-life' abortion debate. These stances seem to be contradictory.

Re: A Pro-death Movement? (none / 0) (#85)
by ignatios on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:06:04 PM EST

rather than a pro-death movement, it seems more like pilate washing his hands to me...

(if you are unfamiliar with "pilate" and his hands, email me)

-ignatios

[ Parent ]

Triage (3.40 / 10) (#72)
by ZephyrAlfredo on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:13:34 PM EST

Triage Categories
Conventional NATO Triage Classification:

T1: Immediate Surgery to safe life or limb. Minimal operating time. Expected good quality survival.

T2: Delayed. Time consuming surgery. Life not jeopardized by delay. Stabilization minimizes effects of delay.

T3: Minimal. Minor injuries. Managed by minimally trained staff.

T4: Expectant. Serious, multiple injuries. Treatment is complex and time consuming. Treatment consumes considerable personnel or resources.

Assuming the doctor's medical opinion is correct, the joined pair will die within a certain amount of time. This seems to me to be triage. One baby is about T1/T2 YELLOW. The other is T4 RED/BLACK i.e. already dying. If the definition of the baby is the head, perhaps it could be saved if we had amazing transplant and artifical organs. But we do not.

Based on triage priority, I would save the most likely to die first.

Categorization source: http://206.39.77.2/dmcr/triage/categories.html

-=-Simple GPL'd Java Starcraft Clone-=-
http://www.bigfoot.com/~mbuttrey/snow.htm


Re: Triage - except for one thing... (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by Solaarius on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:49:01 PM EST

I would normally agree with you, but in this case, one WILL die. The other MIGHT die. There is no way to save the weaker of the two (from what I understand).

----
----

"The Age was called Dark not because there was no Light, but rather because the People refused to see It."
[ Parent ]

I can't take it anymore (3.81 / 11) (#73)
by squirrel on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:16:57 PM EST

Previously my thoughts on this issue were limited to "Man, what a tragedy" and "I'm glad it's not my decision". Then I read this article talking about London's Court of Appeals ruling in favor of separating the twins.

Anti-abortion groups slammed the ruling as ``deplorable.''

``(The judges) simply didn't consider the human rights implications,'' said Bruno Quintvalle of ProLife Alliance.

``The green light has been given to further attacks on human life and the dignity of people at their most vulnerable.''
I'm sorry, that quote is just too much. More than anything this case is a harsh reminder that sometimes life presents us with some fucked up problems for which there are no good solutions. Nobody involved in this case wants to cause either of these infant girls to die, but they are presented with a choice of saving one or saving neither. I find it physically sickening that an organization would reduce this sad situation to a fucking sound bite to further their cause, no matter how noble.

one pissed off squirrel

My opinion... (3.66 / 3) (#77)
by TheButler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:42:13 PM EST

Okay, this is NOT flamebait. This is my honest opinion...

Okay, from what I've heard (correct me if I'm wrong), even if the stronger twin does survive the operation, she would have severe disabilities in later life - as a responsible parent, would you want to put your child through that?

Or another angle - these children have been together for all of their short life - what trauma is it gonna cause them? How do WE know that they aren't self-aware at that age? All of your world, for all of your life, has been shared with another person..and now you want to take that away from them? For what? Death for one, and disabilities for the other? This is unfair on both of them

Re: My opinion... (4.00 / 2) (#79)
by TheButler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:57:07 PM EST

Eeek, sorry about the double-post...enter key got in the way...

[ Parent ]
My opinion... (3.57 / 7) (#78)
by TheButler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:47:11 PM EST

Okay, this is NOT flamebait. This is my honest opinion...

Okay, from what I've heard (correct me if I'm wrong), even if the stronger twin does survive the operation, she would have severe disabilities in later life - as a responsible parent, would you want to put your child through that?

Or another angle - these children have been together for all of their short life - what trauma is it gonna cause them? How do WE know that they aren't self-aware at that age? All of your world, for all of your life, has been shared with another person..and now you want to take that away from them? For what? Death for one, and disabilities for the other? This is unfair on both of them...

No, in my opinion, its kinder to let them die, as the parents want..give them morphine..no pain..no suffering - the way I see it, it is a kindness. If there was some way of saving both, or making sure the stronger one would go through life with no disabilities, my decision might have been different...

I do not say this casually, but think of it from the children's point of view - ease their suffering - that should be our priority.

Re: My opinion... (3.50 / 4) (#81)
by 1111111 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:55:03 PM EST

Okay, from what I've heard (correct me if I'm wrong), even if the stronger twin does survive the operation, she would have severe disabilities in later life - as a responsible parent, would you want to put your child through that?
I am a parent. During each pregnancy I confront this question. What if there's something wrong? I don't believe abortion as currently practiced is morally correct, but think aborting a non-viable fetus (as in will die naturally before birth) is acceptable under some circumstances. My conclusion, after years of consideration, is that nearly any life is worth living, however brief, however apparently less than you or I enjoy. I've known a few people with disabilities ranging from mild to severe, and learned that they find their lives as rewarding as I find mine. Given the choice, I know they'd rather not have the disabilities, but given the choice between disability and death, they'd also choose disability. So would I. It would have been tragic had their parents "kindly" ended their lives.
I do not say this casually, but think of it from the children's point of view - ease their suffering - that should be our priority.
Think of it from the child's view 20 years from now. Will the survivor tell mom and dad she'd rather be dead, or will she be grateful to be alive, even if disabled? I'm more concerned at this point how the survivor will deal with knowing her parents wanted to let her die. I understand their motivation, and that there is no malice in it, but it is surely a difficult bit of knowledge to grapple with if it falls in your lap. It's reasonable to "ease the suffering" (euthanize, let's be blunt) when death is imminent and living is a burden, but not when the subject doesn't meet your ideal of what a life should be.

[ Parent ]
furthermore (3.00 / 2) (#95)
by mattdm on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:00:06 AM EST

Who is to say that this is two people?

[ Parent ]
Let them die (3.40 / 5) (#83)
by k5er on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:42:40 PM EST

Bad situation here. I think saving the one twin should be the paramount concern for everyone involved. The second twin is not gonna make it anyway you look at it. No one should have the right to decide the fate of someones life. Therefore the only viable alternative is to separate the twins, giving at least one a chance at life.
Long live k5, down with CNN.
Re: Let them die (3.50 / 2) (#101)
by goosedaemon on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 10:54:49 AM EST

everyone involved. The second twin is not gonna make it anyway you look at it. No one should have the right to decide the fate of someones life. Therefore the only viable

Well, okay, no right to decide someone's life. Apply that to the deathly twin.

[ Parent ]
Re: Let them die (none / 0) (#154)
by Pakaran on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 07:50:36 AM EST

The weaker twin is going to die no matter what is done. There is not much doubt about that. So I think that the question is whether preserving one life for a few months is better than preserving another for decades.

Mind you, I've been going back and forth on this issue ever since I saw the article on the moderate submissions page, and I would not want to have to make this sort of decision, especially for my own children!

[ Parent ]

murder is bad (2.40 / 5) (#88)
by goosedaemon on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:51:36 PM EST

Pretend you have two people, Joe and Shmoe. Joe and Shmoe are good people. However, Shmoe is going to trip one day, and he will hit Joe, who will proceed to fall down the Grand Canyon's cliff walls and die--they were hiking. Should you kill Shmoe before this happens, assuming that you have good foresight?

Re: murder is bad (3.00 / 2) (#102)
by k5er on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 12:08:45 PM EST

Just tell them not to go on there trip.
Long live k5, down with CNN.
[ Parent ]
Re: murder is bad (4.50 / 2) (#110)
by esjewett on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 08:28:08 PM EST

Well, actually, a more pertinent scenario would be if Shmoe would trip, causing both he and Joe to fall down the mountain and die. Now, given no other options, would you kill Shmoe or not?


AIM: esjewettii


[ Parent ]
It's not the Government! (4.00 / 3) (#109)
by holdfast on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 07:45:53 PM EST

I can't answer for you guys in the USA but I thought that you were the same as us and that the Government and the Judiciary are two separate things. (I agree that certainly too many lawyers have found their way into running both our countries.)

I don't believe that the UK government has actually made any statements on this matter. I would think that politicians would have enough sense to keep their mouths shut on this one. I wouldn't want people who are known for the quality of their soundbites and not their morals deciding this.
The people landed with this ghastly decision have been experienced judges. They seem like decent thoughtful people. They are independent of the state. Again I repeat, we do not want our politicians deciding matters like this. They will make whatever decision they think will win them more votes.

My opinion? If it comes to choosing between letting two people die or saving one of them, I will try and save one.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
Re: It's not the Government! (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by plastik55 on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 10:58:51 PM EST

Well. in the US we have Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches, but we consider them all to be part of Government. Our judges make decisions based on laws that the legistlature makes; and their decisions are enforced by the Executive branch which includes the police force. So I don't see how I could reasonably call the American judiciary "seperate from the state;" is the UK system significantly idfferent?
w00t!
[ Parent ]
Re: It's not the Government! (none / 0) (#120)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:51:35 PM EST

The UK is only really different in that things are a lot less clear :) There's no formal separation of powers between executive, legislature and judiciary, though in practice things function as if there were. In principle parliament (or strictly speaking The Crown in Parliament - though noone knows exactly what this means) holds all power, and everything else functions only because parliament chooses to delegate some of its powers.

The term "government" is generally used to refer to the executive, which in practice holds most of the power that formally belongs to parliament. In practice, the judiciary (and note there are at least three separate legal systems in the UK) is independant enough to occasionally tell the government that it cannot do whatever its trying to do at the time, though the highest court is in fact the House of Lords, which is also one of the houses of parliament, although in practice only the Law Lords ever sit to judge cases.

The only way to justify this (and believe me we've only scratched the surface here) is that by some standard (don't ask me what) it works.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Re: It's not the Government! (none / 0) (#125)
by holdfast on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 07:13:25 PM EST

I think that a good part of the reason it works so 'well' is that it has evolved through trial and error rather than the prescriptions of helpful people and interfering politicians.
Perhaps I have a low opinion of politicians. One day I hope to have this opinion changed. So far, there are few of them that make me think of changing.
I prefer judges to make decisions of life & death. I would never want someone to cause someone to die just because he was running for office.
"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
State can decide, but should not... (2.50 / 2) (#126)
by driptray on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 02:40:51 AM EST

In these sort of life and death situations I think the state has a perfect right to be involved. Its crazy to think that they shouldn't. We talking about actions that border on murder, and if that isn't a subject fit for state intervention, then nothing is.

So the state should be involved. But in this case I think they've got it wrong. Lets pretend we're the judges on the case.

There are three "bad" things that need to be weighed up before a decision can be made.

  1. Killing Mary to let Jodie live is bad.
  2. Letting Mary suck Jodie's lifeblood so that they both die is bad.
  3. Not respecting the wishes of the parents is bad.

How do we weigh these up? Its very very hard, and I can accept that different people are going to come to different answers on the relative weights of the three factors above.

If it was my child, I'd probably kill Mary, but it would be a tough decision, and I (and Jodie) would bear a terrible burden for the rest of our lives. So I think 2 is worse than 1, but its such a close call that I think it should be trumped by 3. The parents will have to live with this for the rest of their lives, and unless their decision is truly monstrous (and I don't think it is, even though I disagree with it), then they should be in charge.
--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating

The weaker twin... (4.33 / 3) (#127)
by sparks on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 05:09:37 AM EST

The weaker of the two, Mary, does not have any lungs, has a non-functional heart, and has a severely underdeveloped brain. If she had not been joined to her sister, she would have been stillborn.

There was never any possibility that Mary would be a viable person in her own right.

It's important not to think of this as two little gurgling baby girls joined together. That's not the case.

What we have is one otherwise normal, healthy girl (Jodie) joined to her stillborn sister.

Re: The weaker twin... (none / 0) (#153)
by Pakaran on Thu Sep 28, 2000 at 07:39:44 AM EST

Maybe we should consider that the definition of 'stillborn' and 'terminally ill' changes every couple of years. I had a friend in high school who was an insulin-dependent diabetic. She was one of the most healthy people I knew, simply because she had learned to, in all ways, take care of herself. A century or two ago she would have a terminal illness leading to a certain, very protracted death.

By the same token, 700 years ago the black death was the fear of all Europe; it would routinely come through and wipe out between a quarter and a half of the population. If I came down with that illness today, I would go to a doctor, he would give me some pills and in a week or two I would be completely healthy again.

[ Parent ]

God's will expressed how? (3.50 / 2) (#130)
by acetylX on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 02:09:58 PM EST

I'm not religious, and haven't studied any religion outside of RE at school, many years ago (though I have watched both Kundun and Seven Years In Tibet).

What occured to me is that perhaps the parents should consider that god's will is possibly being expressed through the surgeons, or the judges involved.

Maybe his intention was to highlight that we sometimes have to make tough decisions...?

I guess god would post here, but I understand that heaven's bandwidth is as shitty as it is down here. How many trillions of people on one bit of thinnet?

Update on the situation (3.00 / 1) (#155)
by Merekat on Fri Sep 29, 2000 at 10:26:01 AM EST

According to today's news, the parents have decided not to oppose the court ruling any longer. A quote from their solicitor said they felt they had done their best for their daughters and were unable to take this any further.

This suggests how important the human and not religious factor was to the parents, as if religous conviction was the main driving force, I don't think they would have given up.

More details here.
---
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show

Whose right to choose? | 155 comments (143 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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