Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Justifying Objective Morality and Population

I read a sad story in the news today. A mother and a father are at odds over whether or not their child should be kept alive. The baby is on serious life support and cannot live without it. The doctors say he will live a painful and pitiful life.


The father has a video of himself interacting with his son and hopes that this will show the baby recognises him and is aware of his surroundings. He believes this is enough and that one day an operation may improve the condition and give this baby a chance to live.


The mother, with whom the doctors agree, simply says that this baby experiences intolerable suffering and should be released from artificial life support and allowed to die peacefully and 'with dignity'.


Now, the way I see it, there are two ways of looking at this situation: subjectively and objectively.


If that were my son I'd be like the dad. I'd want my child to have a shot at living. I'd think that any chance was worth taking and that, the baby being a baby, he should at least be given a few years to develop ideas of his own.

I once wrote an entire blog about the (existence) of objective morality. I don't intend to repeat it here, but it was fun. *My* idea of objective morality in this case (oh, the oxymorons!) is that this baby should be allowed to die. The world is massively over populated and natural selection should not be so completely thwarted.

Now you may have opinions on any of this, but to me, today, the most interesting question is this: Do we have a right to make objective decisions (supposing they are agreed by the majority to be correct, for a simple take on 'objective') even though we acknowledge that our decision would be different if we were involved?

Can the higher good be pursued at the expense of hypocrisy?


Nick James said...

Ha, what's a higher good?
Maybe a state (I assume that's what we're talking about here) could make a decision founded on the basis of a utilitarian argument, and that decision would be best for everyone, but awful for the people involved. In fact, the NHS makes decisions of this type quite often.
So, I guess what I'm saying is, haven't you just described utilitarianism?

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