Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are we in control of our lives??

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Death may simply be defined as the termination of life. Dying is something that all of us taught from grade school about. Everybody knows that death is something that is inevitable irrespective of class, wealth, beauty or any attribute. It is something that everybody, or for that matter, every living thing experiences. When does death, which is supposed to be so accepted, become something that is wrong is the question here, and when is it justified? There are so many subdivisions of killing human beings or letting them die that are being addressed nowadays. For the sake of my paper, I intend to concentrate on abortion, world hunger and war, each of which I will address separately. The end result might be the same, but the three situations are entirely different.


Abortion is the termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus that is incapable of survival. The Roman Church does not accept abortion. There are two factors influencing the debate of abortion.


The first way one can argue about abortion is by stating that the fetus, although not a child that walks around, still has life and hence has a moral status and so is entitled to a full life. Looking at it from the graduated species criterion, we can see how this ties back to this argument. According to the graduated species criterion, a zygote is a person. A fetus is scientifically proven to resemble a person and definitely has a potential for becoming a person.


The second way one can argue about abortion is based on the social/political aspect of the same. A woman does have rights to decide whether or not she wants to go through with her pregnancy. She is after all going to be the one who will deliver the kid and look after the kid too.


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Based on these two important factors, we have why people are for and against abortion. The people who are against abortion have the deontological perspective. These people have some very valid points. One of the biggest points is that people have to take responsibility for their actions. There are so many situations such as teenage pregnancies where people are just enjoying themselves without thinking about the consequences. Living that kind of life is not ethical. Here, not only are they hurting themselves, but also they are hurting that zygote that could be a potential human being.


People who are for abortion, utilitarians, have valid points too. They believe that a child is a result of a loving relationship. What is a woman supposed to do if a pregnancy is the result of a rape? Is she supposed to keep the child then too? If abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, then abortion in this case is morally right because you will not be intending the death of an innocent person. You will be, in fact, intending the death of a guilty person. That is, a person guilty of endangering this life of another. In this case, the abortion would be considered self-defense, which is acceptable even in murder cases. It will not be murder, it would be self-defense. Another argument is that potential people’s rights cannot be of more importance than people who are already living. How can we argue that people’s rights are of lesser value than that of living beings who do not exist as of yet. These are the basic arguments for abortion.


In this case, I personally think that abortion is really a woman’s choice. It is true that the fetus is a person to be and all, but the question we have to ask ourselves here is whether or not that child will be able to have a proper life when he or she comes to this world. I have always believed that giving birth is not even a drop compared to bringing up the child, which is an ocean. Take instance the case of rape. How is a woman supposed to keep the child of the man that she does not even know? What if the woman is a fifteen-year-old girl? I’m not saying that abortion is always right. All I am saying is that a woman should really have the right to choose. After all, nothing is really carved on stone, every situation defers from the other.


World Hunger is a common problem that is faced by many of the underdeveloped countries in the world. In contrast to America, which has a very high standard of living, there are many counties where it is difficult to even eat once a day. How do we tackle it is the question. Do we go out and help those countries? Or do we let them fend for themselves? If we just leave them, does that mean that we are letting them die? How do we justify what we do? To understand this, we need to look at the two perspectives.


The utilitarian theory speaks of greatest happiness greatest numbers. Malthus, a famous philosopher, states that population increases geometrically while food only increases arithmetically. We could probably feed the people who are starving now, but what about tomorrow when there are going to be a lot of people to feed and only so much food? How do we pick whom to feed and whom to not? This is similar to the lifeboat effect, which describes America as the people on the lifeboat who are trying to save people drowning in the sea. However, there are only so many people that they can accommodate. The question that then arises is how do they choose whom to get on the boat? Would not the best thing to do be to let the countries figure out their own solution to their problems rather than have us picking and then be blamed for choosing, as there are so many countries that are starving.


The deontological theory gives us the theory of beneficence. The Roman Catholic Church for example feels that it is our duty to save all the people who are starving. Letting people starve is never justified according to the Roman Catholic Church.


Regarding world hunger, I have a very strong view. I believe that people who are starving should really be left to fend for themselves. My thinking is really not based on any of the theories I mentioned in my description of world hunger, but on the fact that people’s hunger might be satisfied today, but how long are other people going to support them? According to me, I feel that developed countries should not just feed these people. What these people need is the correct infrastructure in order to fend for themselves. So instead of supplying them with fish, they should really teach them how to fish so that they will not have to rely on other countries for their bread and butter. This is possible by providing loans to the country in order to better their country. This is better than just giving it to them because then they get the sense of responsibility. When you just give people money, they tend to not only take advantage of you by accepting that money, but also misuse it. I think that this is the best possible way of handling world hunger.


The third situation I would like to look at before giving my comments on killing people or letting them die is War. War is a state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties. The question is when is fighting war justifiable? There is a lot of immorality that occurs during war. There are many human beings killed, so much rape that goes on, destruction of property, not to mention the amount of lies that are told during war.


There are three main theories to war. The first theory is Pacifism. Buddhists mainly use this theory. Ideal pacifists say that it is never morally justified to kill. According to Pacifists, even self-defense is no excuse for using lethal force. I do not believe that anyone can fight a war using pacifism. For a war to be fought, there has to be two sides fighting. If people believe that they can fight a war using pacifism, they are really mistaken, because that is only going to get them killed in today’s world.


The second theory is the Political Realism theory, which is the teleological persuasion to the argument. This theory says that going to war is just based on self-interest. It is in order to better the economic status of the country. Also, this says that in war lethal force is sometimes morally justifiable. To sum this theory up in a few words, the saying “All’s fair in love and war”, would be the most apt.


The last theory is the deontological perspective of war, which is the Just War theory (modified pacifism). There are two components to this theory which are, the reasons to go to war, just ad bellum, and the reasons to stay in war, jus in bellum. Jus ad bellum basically states that in order to go to war; one must have a proper authority (government), a just cause, which is to right a wrong, the right intentions, and a reasonable chance of success. If these aren’t there, then going into war isn’t justified. We also look into the tradeoff. It is a known fact that when there is war, there will be many innocent civilians dying. If it is, then we consider the harm as a side effect, as we don’t intend to do any bad. During the war, or jus in bellum, the theory states that it is not morally justifiable to kill innocent people and harm property. Only what is being wrong should be corrected, and all such unnecessary loss should be minimized. The double effect rule is taken into play here, where there is good being done when we are correcting the wrong, however, we are doing wrong too by killing innocent people and destroying property. One must see if the good outweighs the bad in order to stay in war.


War is something that is inevitable. I have only one sister, and we fight so much. When we fight so much at home, how can we expect all these countries to be at peace. It is not really possible. There will be disputes between the countries, and some of those disputes will have to be fought. Technology is so advanced in the world today. It is impossible to expect that wars should be fought without killing any innocent civilians. At the same time, the only way to solve some disputes is to go into war. So war is a real shady area. Is it right to kill another person just because you don’t agree with them? I don’t really know.


As seen in my paper, I have discussed the three issues of abortion, world hunger and war. As it is obvious, the three issues, although involve the same topic, are very different from each other. Whether or not it is right to kill someone or let him or her die really depends on the situation. An argument that I have always heard against killing or letting die is that we have no right to play God. Therefore, if a person is in need of food, clothing or shelter, we should always help them. The question arises when the situation is such that it is better for everybody to let people just take care themselves and not worry about others. Is there a solution to this dilemma?





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