Sunday, August 31, 2003

Factual Knowledge and Conceptual Clarity

Iman, you said that in this case we have enough factual knowledge and conceptually it is clarified. I think that it’s far from it. Here I mention some of them.

Factual knowledge:

Do we have one person among others that is (terminally) sick and is going to die no matter if we feed him or not?
Do we have someone among us that is a criminal and is a menace for society?
Do we have someone who is a volunteer to stop eating?
Is there one person among us who doesn’t have a spouse or children or father and mother waiting for him/her, so his death will have the least effect on others?
Is there someone who is viscously hurting others or plans to kill them?
What is the relation of the environment with this system (=these 5 people)?
How much other people need them? E.g. Suppose that these people are doctors on a mission to help lots of sick people who desperately need them, so in fact what we have here is not the life of one person against lives of 4 others, but life of one person against lives of thousands of people and many and many other factors.

Conceptual clarity:

Is it life in all forms of it that is important or a happy healthy life?
E.g. Socrates before drinking the hemlock that ended his days said “... not life, but a good life is to be chiefly valued…”
Can life be treated as an additive quantity? E.g. by adding the hours of it, or adding the lives of different persons, to make us able to compare two situations from this view.
Is an act moral when the initial purpose has been a moral one or that morality of the act depends on the consequences of that act?
Does numbers matter in a moral decision(the way Bentham believed it does) , or that numbers don’t matter ( as Kant believed)?
And most importantly:
Is morality adherence to a particular code, whatever that may be, or it’s the code that matters?
And if it’s the code that matters, what is that that code or base?
Is it a religion? If yes which one?
If no, is it reason? if yes, which one of the following are reasonable:
Self-interest? If yes, is it the self-interest of one person( as Hobbes believed) or all people( as Smith believed in )?
I also mentioned some other conceptual problems in my comments, which I don’t repeat here.

And these are only a handful of many more that should be decided on before reaching to a conclusion.

(posted by Farid)

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