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 Incentivized euthanasia

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PostSubject: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:22 am

We are faced with large, almost insurmountable problems when it comes to retiring baby-boomers. We all know this (at least those in America are probably aware). Social safety-nets and welfare programs will be (already are) stretched to and beyond the limit assisting and caring for this growing elderly population. This is a sad and tragic, and dangerous, situation, and will only continue to get worse.

A possible solution would be to incentivize elderly people to choose euthanization. As their quality of life deterriorates, many elderly commit suicide anyway. This is tragic, but we must look at this from the point of view that each individual has the right to choose the manner and indeed extent of his or her own life (within reasonable limits, of course). I would argue that we might see euthanasia as a remedy to this problem of overpopulation and especially of elderly overpopulation, government could offer money to the families or other sources chosen by the elderly person in exchange for the elderly choosing to be euthanized humanely. The monetary incentive granted to be disposed of at the individual's discretion, before they pass away, would be some percentage of the expected savings in money and resources to society gained by the person's death.

This might sound heartless, but it would be entirely voluntary, it would have to be in order to remain humane which is of utmost importance. An elderly or otherwise terminally ill or suffering individual would have a choice to make: they could continue to live, or if they would rather they could agree to be humanely euthanized in exchange for being able to give either a loved one, relative, family member, friend or organization a large amount of money. Like life insurance, kind of.

The incentive for the individual is that they are facing impending death anyway, they would like to make something of their life, would like to be of some benefit to society and to the ones they love, and would in that sense like the ability to still make a noble gesture with their life. They also gain a sense of self-control over their own life and age/illness, being able to will and choose for themselves how and in what way it will end, and to do this in a way which produced net benefit. The incentive for government/society is clear: you give the choice to an elderly/sick person the dignity of control over his or her own life, the escape from pain, the ability to help out and contribute to society and loved ones, and also the society as a whole saves money and resources by not needing to care for this individual for a protracted period of time until they inevitably die from natural causes.

Someday, it might be very common that people choose willingly to die in exchange for generating a benefit and value for a loved one, for a cause they value, or for society in general. This might even be seen as a very noble act, worthy of admiration and reverence and appreciation. Individuals in this way become able to value themselves in a broader and more direct sense, and society also becomes more able to directly value the individual.

 

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"It would be wise to exercise caution with one's wishes." --Penny Royal AI

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:05 pm

Having considered this for a while I must object to such policies. The reason is this: as a person grows sick and weak, it becomes more difficult to sustain a kind of pride in being alive, harder to self-value. But as self-valuing is the root of being, it should be encouraged under all circumstances, even if one is deeply ill. I think that there are no circumstances when a person should be encouraged to end his self-valuing, to stop self-valuing, to value others above himself on the ground that he is not worth anything to these others, or even presents negative value to them.

If such a measure would be in effect, what would happen is certainly this (I say certainly because I've seen it happen in my own family, even without government encouragement or monetary rewards): even if the person in question wishes to continue, despite great suffering and being now a burden on the people he once put on the earth and supported, to live (self-value, be), people will pressure him to end his life, or to allow it to be ended for him. As they have convinced themselves that such a life can not possibly of any value to itself, (ah, he couldn't enjoy it anyway, let's relieve him of his suffering) but they are in fact solely motived by the wish to terminate the burden that the sick one places on them.

If monetary compensation becomes available to family of the one whose life is terminated, pressure on the individual to let his life be ended will multiply by great factors. Since people are generally not very noble or generous once a personal gain is being projected before them, I would expect everyone beyond the age of 70 acquiring even minor ailments to come under constant pressure from family members to end their life.

So I have two objections: the first is value-ontological-ethical -- self-valuing should always be encouraged and never discouraged. The second is practical psychological: family members should not be trusted to remain neutral or reasonable at the prospect of gaining from a family members death.

Simply put - there is only one thing in which I invest any moral authority, and that is self-valuing. Since a government can not be a self-valuing entity, but can at best guarantee the conditions for self-valuing, I would at all cost keep it away from any interference with particular self-valuings.


 

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:16 pm

Very good, your reply is what I was seeking, it is refreshing to find such a clear disagreement. Now considering your perspectives here I am mediating my own thoughts along these lines. Certain the incentivizing of taking advantage of one's elderly or sick family needs to be curbed, I agree. And it does stand to reason that, all other things being equal, my proposal would increase this sort of pressure to take advantage of others, would increase the sort of conflict of interest here we wish to avoid. But of course your objections run far deeper than just this, and while it is conceivable that such incentivizing of taking advantage of others might be reduced or eliminated with various adjustments to the idea (see the end of this post), this would not touch directly enough upon the root of the objection itself.



What I most strongly oppose, myself, is the idea that one absolutely has no right to decide one's own death, manner or time of dying, or that we must a priori legislate against this right of others. To me this reflects an unspoken-implicit view that treats death metaphysically, as an 'authoritarian meme' in how it functions memetically, semantically, and socially-ideologically. To view death, the ending of a life, as absolutely "bad", detrimental, or to be avoided at all costs is a sign, in my view, of this sort of implicit authoritarianism and metaphysical appeal. Rather I believe that one makes one's own self-valuing increase when one confronts the specter of one's death, and this involves (or may involve) degrees of contemplation of how/where/when one will meet one's ending. Nor is it antithetical to value ontology, in my view here, that one might martyr oneself for the cause/s of others or of the world. Jesus comes to mind here quite easily. I do not feel we can a priori legislate against such acts of martyrdom without betraying or failing to take into account certain aspects directly relevant to value ontology and the 'science' of self-valuing and valuing-increase. For instance, that one's specific life (as a system/s of valuational activities) has immediate impacts upon the lives of others, and impacts the potentiality of the world itself. Even after one's death one continues to exert direct impact upon the world (some more than others, of course). In this sense one does not need to be alive to have one's own self-valuing impacting and directly shaping the world.



Where one comes to determine, on one's own grounds, that one's death might serve some such cause of valuational increase or expansion then I cannot see a grounds on which to view this as unjustified. A Heideggerian approach might work here to mediate: that beings are thrown into the world, and that beings are a part of the world, being-in-the-world which directly conditions in-dividual beings themselves. I.e. without "a world" there are no "beings", no you or I. Additional to this we have the other point that to value others over oneself is not necessarily a betrayal of self-valuing. Indeed in love we see the impetus to sacrifice for the other, and the mother who gives her life to protect her child, or the lover who gives his life to protect and secure life for a loved one, these are acts of extreme self-valuation. Shopenhauer noted that suicide is often a means of preserving life, and this insight coincides here as well.



On these grounds I feel it is important to work toward a value ontological model which takes into consideration each of these aspects, and allows for each. The self-valuing of one might consist in "fighting death", wishing with one's entire will to survive as long as possible so as to prolong and further one's own self-valuations; yet for another, his or her self-valuation might be quite different, instead preferring to give one's life in defense of something or someone which will lead, in the future, to an increasing expansion of valuation for which oneself was an incipient center-point and birthing. It is in this sense that the idea of euthanasia comes into play, because for most people their life and life conditions are not such that their own sacrifice could reasonably be said to achieve any sort of grand increase in values upon the/a future. Because of this, the idea I generated of socially-beneficial euthanasia fills this gap by providing the "ordinary person" with a direct and potent means of adding and increasing value. If indeed their own self-valuation values other values, such as individuals, causes, organizations, or society generally, then faced with their inevitable death they may feel strongly that they wish this death to be of some benefit somehow, with respect to what they the dying individual value directly.



Here we see it is possible that this idea of euthanasia might not only be "encouraging someone to end their self-valuing" but rather encouraging them, which is to say providing for them choices which would allow their own (now limited) self-valuing to couple with and connect into other valuations, other values and valuing activities which the dying individual him or herself values. To me this is wonderfully beneficial. I imagine myself on my deathbed, perhaps faced with a year or so of life left, and am offered the chance to contribute a large sum or money or other resource of benefit to a cause or person/s that I value very much. I would feel very good about this, I think. This would be giving me an increase in self-valuation in the face of an otherwise lack thereof. (Of course, if it is not the case that there is an otherwise lack thereof of self-valuation on my part, the offer will not look appealing to me and I will reject it).



So taking into consideration your own objections, I agree it is unwise to directly tie incentives into gain of other individuals who would feel conflicted about their feelings and influences toward the dying or elderly/sick individual. Now that we have provided for a possible mediation with respect to valuation of our two perspectives here, we might explore possible ways to repair the idea without falling prey to these sort of problems you mention. For starters, I am not very comfortable that family is currently expected or encouraged to "suffer" the burden of caring for very sick or elderly family. As you point out this causes all sort of problems, this burden is very great and imposes upon everyone in the family, causing hard feelings, stunted personal self-valuing, and conflicts of interest. Rather it would be more ideal if other systems were in place to better care for such people. So increasing the scope and effectiveness (and also the humanity!) of social systems assisting elderly with staying healthy and functioning is a clear priority. In many cases this could include hospice-like care in the home, so family can still be around their loved one, but without the total burden of caring for them.



So the idea now sits in the following stage and configuration: the possibility of adding to one's self-valuing by coupling it with the self-valuings of others in a beneficial way, and the necessity that such a possibility not be imposed upon anyone against his or her own personal interests, since this would generate decrease of self-valuing or at least pressure in that direction. Along with this latter we find it is necessary to remove with a certain distance or other means immediate family who have personal influence over an individual from direct benefit from such a decision to euthanize. Perhaps this can begin to be accomplished by some modest modifications to the idea, such as requiring decisions like this to be kept secret until one has died, allowing only small portions of funds to be granted to close individuals, requiring a degree of monitoring and counseling for the elderly/sick or dying individual before considering such options, legislation and powerful legal deterrents against trying to influence someone in the direction of dying, etc. I think we migth amass a collection of small mitigating changes here that might conceivably work well to curb this sort of influence. But as you point out, this influence already exists even without a social system of incentivized euthanasia, and so this must be addressed as well, and probably before any such system could be put into place. To this end I would propose reducing the burden upon family and friends for caring for loved ones, by providing either hospice or other out-of-home care for these people. This touches upon another problem here that is of direct import to value ontology, which is the imposition of other human lives upon our own, and the warping, strain and confinement this causes to individual self-valuings. I think this issue should probably be addressed somehow on its own, regardless of the idea of euthanizing.



My goal here is not to push for euthanasia, I agree that "reasonable people" can disagree on the idea. Rather my goal is to develop toward conceiving of death and dying in a new way, more honest, more beneficial and more in line with value ontology and its implications and demands. While I do agree with most of your objections to the idea, I cannot agree that in any and all cases terminating one's own or another's life is antithetical to value ontology (although I can certainly be persuaded that in most cases this is indeed the case. And therefore it might follow that in the majority of cases such euthanizing is antithetical to valution, but where this is not the case, such incentivized euthanasia as allows for the coupling of one's self-valuing with those of others and with direct beneficial possibilities for the future becomes justified).



In sort, I agree that self-valuing should always be encourage and never discouraged. It is with repect to this belief that I propse the possibility of incentivized euthanasia along the lines outlined above -- which is to say, only in those cases where such would add to self-valuing rather than subtract from it or prevent it. So of course this is also to say that I do not believe that value ontology implies that all self-valuings must always and forever strive to remain alive under any and all conditions, regardless of all factors. I do not believe that value ontology and the implications of self-valuing either imply or necessitate such a view toward life and death (nor am I saying that such a view is so implied or necessitated by the idea that self-valuings must always "strive for being-alive", but I see this as a possibility which requires further exploration).


 

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"It would be wise to exercise caution with one's wishes." --Penny Royal AI

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:59 pm

Capable wrote:
Rather my goal is to develop toward conceiving of death and dying in a new way, more honest, more beneficial and more in line with value ontology and its implications and demands.
Why is that your goal?
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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:16 pm

The Asian philosophy led to self-killing as precisely an act of self-valuing. What was their concept of death, Capable? Might be useful to you.
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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:21 pm

James S Saint wrote:
Capable wrote:
Rather my goal is to develop toward conceiving of death and dying in a new way, more honest, more beneficial and more in line with value ontology and its implications and demands.
Why is that your goal?

You mean, other than the obvious answer that for this to be beneficial is more valuable than for it not to be?

There are several reasons. One is that death represents a limit for valuing and self-valuing systems. How we perceive and interpret, and anticipate, death is an implication of how we value (as individuals), and how we are valued (by society, by others, by the future). Currently death/dying is valued in the manner of either fear, ignorance-fantasy (heaven/etc) or ambivalence. None of these are ideal from the perspective of value ontology, since each represents a naive, unconscious valuing from the perspective of the individual, and a chaotic-wasteful valuing from the perspective of the group/society.

Another reason is that people ought to be able to live in societies that give them utmost opportunity to value themselves and to be of value to others. This is akin to health, for the individual and the species. One part of life that is not at present very well, rationally or usefully valued is death/dying. I would like that to change, and indeed value ontology necessitates, to me, that we try and correct this, improve it.

Another reason is that I am simply interested to see if such a valuation potential is indeed possible. I view the current schemas and methods employed in the face of death to be woefully inadequate, childish even, wasteful and worse than useless. A self-valuing ought to be able to conceive beyond itself, in terms other than only just itself, and it ought to seek to properly situate itself within its environmental embeddedness which includes relations to others, to nature, to society and to future. And of course society ought to be constructed in such a way so as to facilitate these increased valuations and improved potentials for self-valuing.

 

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"Since the old God has abdicated, I shall rule the world from now on." --Nietzsche

"It would be wise to exercise caution with one's wishes." --Penny Royal AI

Odinwar <---[truth]---> Jeraz

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:28 pm

Parodites wrote:
The Asian philosophy led to self-killing as precisely an act of self-valuing. What was their concept of death, Capable? Might be useful to you.

I am not very familiar with Asian religious/philosophical views on death. From what I understand they include the belief in ancestors continued existence in some manner. Asian self-sacrifice is, to my knowledge, employed so as to preserve a sense of personal honor. This is not exactly what I am going for, since for an otherwise healthy and useful/productive individual to kill him or herself based on a sense of honor (itself based on a religious-metaphysical belief system of survival and judgment after death) is not ideal. Rather what I am trying to do here is to find a way to increase the value and self-valuing potential for individuals (and the relation between the individual and the group) in those cases where it otherwise is severely lacking or even absent.

 

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"It would be wise to exercise caution with one's wishes." --Penny Royal AI

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:41 am

I agree wholeheartedly that death and dying is approached by our civilization, our cultural type, in a worse than worthless manner. There are and have been cultures where the end of a life and its ending are approached as a celebration of that life, as its culmination and fulfillment. I think that this is a properly value-based approach. But the absolutist urge to prolong a life even when self-valuing is no longer active, when a person is actually kept alive against his 'ethical motorics', (this urge is perhaps derived from the false, pseudo-darwinist notion that self-reservation is the ultimate reality of life) clearly stands in the way of viewing a life in terms of its value, both to itself and to other self-valuings. And in this light I am in favor of the possibility of euthanasia. This possibility however does present the problem sketched, and unfortunately witnessed by me, of other people trying to decide for the dying one when his time has come.

This does not however address the problem of the burden placed on the family of the dying one. The sense that these burdens are unbearable is of course the result of our individualized society, where no one has time to take care of his dying parents. But combined with this are the increased perceived needs of a dying person. This is a complex issue as people are so different, and some do indeed need more attention than others, and the advance of modern medicin has greatly extended the potential of prolonging a life without it being able to prolong itself. I think that this is a rather unnatural and undesirable situation. I would not enjoy to be kept alive when I am unable to perform any actions. But I can not decide for others that this is undesirable, as I would commit the same error as I am condemning. I would however want to place grave restrictions on the role the state must play to prolong the life of the incapacitated. Rather than having the state encourage dying, I would start with removing the incentive to keep on living. Having recently set foot in different houses of 'institutionalized dying' -- care-hospitals where people are brought who are certainly going to die, I think that it would be better to abolish such institutions. They are value-stripping machines, where life, in its final phase, is undone. Self-valuing is made almost entirely impossible, and all that is left to the family members is the hope that it will be over soon. I think the error and dishonor of our society comes to the surface in these dying-houses.

The best and most simple solution would be to have family members take care as far as they want/can, and for the rest have a helper around the house who is paid with the money saved by shedding the burden of these industrial twilight-zones. Such an individual could be anyone who is willing to change diapers for a living so to speak. It may be a humble and relatively unprofessional (read: non-institutional, human) undertaking. Humble as opposed to humiliating. I believe that most of the economical burden can be removed in this way. An emotional burden is placed on the household of which the dying one is/has been part, but I believe that this is the natural consequence of sharing a life. It is rather dishonorable to commit to a person for ones own advantage (for example love or security), and when this person is of no more use, kick him/her out.

In general however the burden that a dying one places on his surrounding is intensified by our attitude towards death. As this meaningless black hole that our pseudo-darwinist model projects before us it can not but evoke in us the desire to remove it from our field of perception, to stow the dying one away from view. When however death is turned into a last celebration, family will be drawn to its sphere as a reinvigorating stimulus to their own life, as a communal space, which, despite our erroneous understanding and disgraceful habits, a death always becomes nevertheless, in spite of what our morals and habits prescribe. I think that it may be a simple matter of changing colors, from black to for example red or yellow, and of changing the type of environment wherein the funeral takes place -- perhaps even the whole idea of putting a body in the ground is detrimental, the idea of a 'last resting place' is kind of sickly insane. To use the element of fire certainly evoke the idea of regeneration of nature that is implicit in mortality much more effectively, and places less of a burden on the environment.

When I let my mind run, I seem to be in favor of what I am tempted to call 'Eleusian fields' -- large terrains of beautiful countryside, perhaps beaches where available, where cremations take place, where death is a constant presence but not as darkly solemn, but as provokingly exiting. Of course many people will be opposed to this as gruesome and unhygienic -- regarding the latter I do not know much but would certainly agree that this is a valid objection if indeed a fact, regarding the former, I disagree, because the true horror comes with the making invisible of the disintegrating process, and giving the body to the worms in a lengthy invisible process is far more gruesome than giving it quickly to the fire and air.

Then there is the issue of suicide. Let's distinguish two forms first: the affirmative and negating type.
- The affirming type: If one sacrifices oneself effectively for a loved one, I think that there is nothing to say about this, one can only respect it. What one values in oneself the highest in such a case is the love one feels, one values ones valuing-capacity above all. Such a death may be seen value ontologically as a true fulfillment. But I see no possibility of evoking such a fulfillment from the outside. I think that only certain inner and outer circumstances permit such a meaningful sacrifice.
- The negating type: If one ends ones life because it is too much to bear, then this reflects in deeply detrimental ways on the surroundings. Unfortunately I have been very close to such occurrences several times, and the result is always one of disintegration, self-questioning, unsurmountable doubt, a severe challenge to all the self-valuings involved. In such cases goes that healthy individuals are capable, in time, of overcoming the bulk of suffering caused by this, and in this overcoming things may be gained, but it doesn't bring any good by itself. The main way in which such overcoming seems to be accessible to the ones who love him/her is to imagine that the self-killer committed his act out of some kind of nobility -- to make the suicide in the imagination into an act of noble sacrifice. The workings of such an interpretation on the psyche are life-altering, irreversible and deeply strange. Surely, all sorts of value may be derived from it, and depths acquired. But the more people I see depart in this way, the more people I see affected and changed by it, the angrier it makes me. But I am still processing the numerous intrusions on my own life by such acts, so I can not perceive it clearly. It is true that I owe some of my depth to these suicides around me.

In the end I affirm any persons right to end his/her own life, as no one can deny this right but the individual himself. But the degree to which I can affirm these acts themselves diminishes with every consecutive case I experience. The first time I saw only nobility. Now I see mainly tragic failure to self-value, due to ineffective chemistry both in the physiological makeup and the interactions of individual with the world. Suicide is a sign that something was not working properly, as it might have. From this awareness we may learn a great deal -- someone who kills him/herself is a messenger, and this is how I imagine that they feel, but the message can be deeply deceptive, as what was wrong in the life of the dying one may have been what was right in the life where and until the message arrives.

 

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:55 am

I have often contemplated suicide. Sometimes my physical pain is so severe I cannot even consume food or raise myself out of bed. It prevents me from thinking, writing, it destroys my mind at times and makes me intellectually mute. It takes my own self away from my self. It has over time made me a more brutal creature. I can't laugh with things, I can only laugh at them. I don't live, I exist. All I know of true life I find in the brief embers of some freshly kindled dream in my opium-sleep, which always die before they can strike upon real flames. I am not dead though... Two aphorisms on the subject:









... It is a wonder that, for such a delicate and ingeniously constructed melody as composes our inner life and idea of the world, the truly somber and the deeper notes such as love or suffering do not disconcert it, but that all the subtler notes of which it is comprised should almost immediately order themselves after them, incorporating them into the self-same theme of our personality; life recovers itself, not by opposing, but by encompassing, that which would disturb it. Truly vital character remains immutable, not from resolve or from obstinacy, but from a more complete understanding, and loftier sympathy.


... A Roman would slay himself, not out of despair, but out of happiness, when he was at the height of his physical and intellectual powers, so as not to be cut down inch by inch, as is the way of nature. A Greek would, at the height of passion, slay the object of his love, rather it be a lie, a god, or even a man, in order that it may not betray him. These are the two heights of spiritual independence which are, however, no longer possibilities for us: might there not be a third? The great soul suffers silently, as Schiller says: the great soul may, perhaps, also love silently.

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:47 am

"... It is a wonder that, for such a delicate and ingeniously constructed melody as composes our inner life and idea of the world, the truly somber and the deeper notes such as love or suffering do not disconcert it, but that all the subtler notes of which it is comprised should almost immediately order themselves after them, incorporating them into the self-same theme of our personality; life recovers itself, not by opposing, but by encompassing, that which would disturb it. Truly vital character remains immutable, not from resolve or from obstinacy, but from a more complete understanding, and loftier sympathy."

Yes, the truly vital character is the self-valuing that finds the means to value that which first opposes it in terms of itself. What happens, what is the process of this chance? What changes? How does this growth occur? What are its steps? Or must we simply be content to observe that this flexibility and ingeniousness, and at the same time unbreakable integrity, is simply what life, in as far as it remains life, is?

Then we can draw closer to this quality, the root-quality of life, by being awake to how suffering and opposition is transformed into understanding. I think that this mystery has been too deep to be expressed in any sort of methodology, even as it is expressed in great art. (The Apollonian world arising out of this confrontation with the suffering, the Dionysian the approach of the creator of the Apollonian with the ground of his creation)

It seems reasonable that he who bears the greatest suffering without breaking is given to understand most accurately what life, and by the logic of value ontology, what being is. Perhaps this is what during the Christian age, has been called "spirit". How shall we call it in this new dawn? This life-of-life, should it have a royal name? But it name should not have to be a single word.




 

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:45 pm

I don't know, Cabable. I somehow intuit how this could possibly turn into an epidemic of such abuse when we consider just how capable human beings are of corruption, greed, abuse of power, especially when they are lacking in a sense of human rights and justice. As it is, many or most already in this society do not value the aged and the infirmed...they are put into and left in homes, abandoned and forgotten about because they are too inconvenient...they have outlived their use. So now we are to destroy them or to allow them to think they ought to be destroyed, to die, and that that is a good, noble and honorable thing, simply because we may not, do not see the meaning and value that may be a part of their lives, except for the money which may be gotten or saved by killing them? Money truly does hold a lot of meaning in our society.

Who is to be the watchdog of all those making the decisions and who is to be the watchdog of the watchdogs?

And after THAT, what is next?

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This might sound heartless, but it would be entirely voluntary, it would have to be in order to remain humane which is of utmost importance. An elderly or otherwise terminally ill or suffering individual would have a choice to make: they could continue to live, or if they would rather they could agree to be humanely euthanized in exchange for being able to give either a loved one, relative, family member, friend or organization a large amount of money. Like life insurance, kind of.
Entirely voluntary? And what would prevent a family member[s] from convincing this human being that the family would be well served by doing this {withou knowledge of anyone else}? Whenever money enters into the issue, at least for me and especially under these kind of circumstances, a person already becomes devalued - and becomes a commodity. I may be wrong - I don't know, but this is what I intuit. Do you not see any kind of an ethical problem arising there?

For the most part, I have no issue with allowing a very, very old person and one whose life lacks all quality to his/her existence because of sickness or disease to die with dignity - IF THAT IS THAT PERSON'S CHOICE alone. But there is something really very disturbing to me when money enters into the equation.

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I would argue that we might see euthanasia as a remedy to this problem of overpopulation and especially of elderly overpopulation, government could offer money to the families or other sources chosen by the elderly person in exchange for the elderly choosing to be euthanized humanely. The monetary incentive granted to be disposed of at the individual's discretion, before they pass away, would be some percentage of the expected savings in money and resources to society gained by the person's death.
I am NOT saying that this is the way you feel or what you are suggesting - you are simply suggesting a solution to world population but and it is an enormous BUT at least for me, this reminds me too much of the same kind of thinking, mentality as that from the past which caused such a horrific moment in our world history. And in many areas and minds, things have not changed much. Who was it who said that if we do not remember our past, we are doomed to repeat it?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some now would probably love nothing more than to just gather up all of the elderly and infirmed - - and those who they see as totally usless to society, no matter their age, and extinquish them. That would certainly take care of the population problem for them, don't you think?!!!! We must take care that our well-though out plans and well-placed stepping stones do not turn into monsters for us.



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The incentive for the individual is that they are facing impending death anyway, they would like to make something of their life, would like to be of some benefit to society and to the ones they love, and would in that sense like the ability to still make a noble gesture with their life. They also gain a sense of self-control over their own life and age/illness, being able to will and choose for themselves how and in what way it will end, and to do this in a way which produced net benefit
What comes to mind here, though we are speaking of the aged and infirmed, is a living will of sorts, like an organ donor. Or is that too unrealistic, considering the age of the person? Anyway, in that way, society would benefit - those would benefit whose lives were in jeopardy of being lost. Those people themself would be truly the ones in dire need. And as you say, it would give those prepared and wanting to die - those being given their inalienable and just right to die - the opportunity to do a noble thing.

It reminds me of Niemoller's quote....

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the old, infirmed and 'useless' - and I did not speak out --
Because I was not old, infirmed and useless.


Then they came for the 'unborn' - and I did not speak out --
Because I was not the 'unborn'


Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.



“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation–just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer–we are challenged to change ourselves.” –
Dr. Viktor Frankl

If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life.”
Albert Schweitzer

Reverence for life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life, and that to destroy, to harm, or to hinder life is evil”
Albert Schweitzer


EDITED: On February 18, 2012


 

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PostSubject: Re: Incentivized euthanasia   Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:43 am

Fixed Cross wrote:
I agree wholeheartedly that death and dying is approached by our civilization, our cultural type, in a worse than worthless manner. There are and have been cultures where the end of a life and its ending are approached as a celebration of that life, as its culmination and fulfillment. I think that this is a properly value-based approach. But the absolutist urge to prolong a life even when self-valuing is no longer active, when a person is actually kept alive against his 'ethical motorics', (this urge is perhaps derived from the false, pseudo-darwinist notion that self-reservation is the ultimate reality of life) clearly stands in the way of viewing a life in terms of its value, both to itself and to other self-valuings. And in this light I am in favor of the possibility of euthanasia. This possibility however does present the problem sketched, and unfortunately witnessed by me, of other people trying to decide for the dying one when his time has come.

I agree, to avoid this we can try and empower individuals to make these sort of decisions as freely from outside influence as possible. Different manner of things could be brought to bear in this regard. One would be to remove the incentive aspect of euthanasia that allows for individuals euthanized to direct funds to family members. Similar to life insurance, this would tend to provoke competing urges in family members, competing values and conflict of interest. While this might not necessarily be "bad", from a value ontological perspective, I can certainly see how in the majority of cases this would end badly for all involved. So the incentives for euthanizing should be less crude, less overt and material than a mere sum of money. Money is a useful valuing apparatus, but as shallow as it is universal, and so probably should be removed from the situation of euthanasia (a situation directly touching on the very possibility of the life/being of the individual itself) as much as possible. I believe this also goes for health care issues, for the same reason, but that is another subject entirely. Regarding the burden that care of a sick/elderly places on family members, you touch on that below.

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This does not however address the problem of the burden placed on the family of the dying one. The sense that these burdens are unbearable is of course the result of our individualized society, where no one has time to take care of his dying parents. But combined with this are the increased perceived needs of a dying person. This is a complex issue as people are so different, and some do indeed need more attention than others, and the advance of modern medicin has greatly extended the potential of prolonging a life without it being able to prolong itself. I think that this is a rather unnatural and undesirable situation. I would not enjoy to be kept alive when I am unable to perform any actions. But I can not decide for others that this is undesirable, as I would commit the same error as I am condemning. I would however want to place grave restrictions on the role the state must play to prolong the life of the incapacitated. Rather than having the state encourage dying, I would start with removing the incentive to keep on living. Having recently set foot in different houses of 'institutionalized dying' -- care-hospitals where people are brought who are certainly going to die, I think that it would be better to abolish such institutions. They are value-stripping machines, where life, in its final phase, is undone. Self-valuing is made almost entirely impossible, and all that is left to the family members is the hope that it will be over soon. I think the error and dishonor of our society comes to the surface in these dying-houses.

Yes this is a good approach. These places of 'dying homes' are truly demoralizing and tragic. I want to focus on something you wrote here, "I would start with removing the inventive to keep on living". I am wondering how this might be done. I am still in favor of incentivizing euthanasia, but not in such a crude manner as with money or material gains. What this incentive ought to be is more emotional, subjective, valuable to the individual on the level of his or her identity and self-worth. A society where humans valued dying at the right time, and valued not prolonguing life "too much", which is just to say does not place an absolute value on the quantity of life over its quality, would be far more rational than what we have now. What would truly be ideal would be to change the cultural view toward death, which is really what I am trying to express here. I think this should be done. I think that legalizing euthanasia is a necessary and huge first step in this direction. Along with euthanasia comes a whole host of philosophical implications that must be grapped with, on the individual and societal level. This is good. So it remains to be seen if legalizing euthanasia would work toward addressing the problems of negative/harmful views of death and of heavy burden on society and on families of caring for the terminally ill.

The incentive for euthanization should be more subtle, mroe direct to the individual in terms of his or her consciousness and being. It should be a choice to end a life because to prolongue it any longer serves no use, is highly painful or burdensome, and there is no absolute and/or implicit value placed on "just being alive". This would be an attempt to value oneself directly through the notion of dying. And a part of this more direct and conscious attempt to self-value with respect to self-death could (and I would argue, should) involve some degree of awareness and recognition of how this will be of benefit to society generally, in the sense of preserving communal healthcare or financial resources. But this aspect should be secondary, not a primary value concern, it should compose a part of the overall valuing system here but not dominate or direct it.

I am also thinking of how "death celebrations" could result from legalizing euthanasia, where the to-be-euthanized individual gets a sort of celebration thrown in his or her honor by family and friends, recounting his or her life, a celebration and honoring of a life lived. Here the lives of others would be valued as well, those who live on and will remain positively impacted by the dying individual. In this way the attempt is made to explicate the to-be-euthanized individual's valuing-relations and positive contributions to others, firmly revealing the value of this individual even in the face of his or her soon to be death.

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The best and most simple solution would be to have family members take care as far as they want/can, and for the rest have a helper around the house who is paid with the money saved by shedding the burden of these industrial twilight-zones. Such an individual could be anyone who is willing to change diapers for a living so to speak. It may be a humble and relatively unprofessional (read: non-institutional, human) undertaking. Humble as opposed to humiliating. I believe that most of the economical burden can be removed in this way. An emotional burden is placed on the household of which the dying one is/has been part, but I believe that this is the natural consequence of sharing a life. It is rather dishonorable to commit to a person for ones own advantage (for example love or security), and when this person is of no more use, kick him/her out.

That is true, but on the other hand, it is also (although perhaps not necessarily so) dishonorable to bend to near-breaking one's own life, opportunities and self-valuing to care for a family members out of feelings of obligation or guilt. Regarding the idea of removing dying homes and replacing them with home helpers, this could work in many cases. I wonder if we could truly go without dying homes, since at a certain point individuals cannot really be cared for in the regular home/family setting. Maybe the best approach here would be to use home hospice-like service wherever possible, and to transform what remains of dying homes into places of life rather than death -- even short life. Emphasis should be on quality of life over quantity. I think the congruence of these three factors (legalizing euthanasia -- and along with this changing the cultural attitude toward it --, using hospice wherever possible, and turning what remains of dying homes into emphasizing life over death, quality over quantity) could do wonders toward addressing the problems of how we view/confront death and of social and family burdens of caring for the sick or elderly.

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In general however the burden that a dying one places on his surrounding is intensified by our attitude towards death. As this meaningless black hole that our pseudo-darwinist model projects before us it can not but evoke in us the desire to remove it from our field of perception, to stow the dying one away from view. When however death is turned into a last celebration, family will be drawn to its sphere as a reinvigorating stimulus to their own life, as a communal space, which, despite our erroneous understanding and disgraceful habits, a death always becomes nevertheless, in spite of what our morals and habits prescribe. I think that it may be a simple matter of changing colors, from black to for example red or yellow, and of changing the type of environment wherein the funeral takes place -- perhaps even the whole idea of putting a body in the ground is detrimental, the idea of a 'last resting place' is kind of sickly insane. To use the element of fire certainly evoke the idea of regeneration of nature that is implicit in mortality much more effectively, and places less of a burden on the environment.

Yes it does seem that it is our, what you call pseudo-Darwinist model (and I would also include most religious models here as well) which creates and projects this "black hole" of meaning/value. The scientific model has not (yet) surpassed the religious models here in terms of understanding and valuing death. This is probably getting more to the heart of the problem here. Another consideration is that death rituals do serve the function of expressing and aiding the grief of the survivors. It is expected that survivors of loved ones who have died will feel tremendous grief and pain, and the death rituals serve this. What we need is not to get rid of this aspect altogether, but to harmonize and compliment it better with a more life-affirming attitude and a more direct valuing of life and death. We already attempt this, with statements like, "It happened for a reason" or "This is a part of God's plan", statements like this are a meager attempt to value death indirectly by finding a way to mitigate the feelings of grief and loss. The emptiness and pain we can feel when a loved one dies does serve as this sort of motivator for valuing death, but while it continues to remain unconscious it is only a pale version of itself, barely functional. Baseless metaphysical religious appeal serves us well here, but it is also a sign that our will to value death is relatively small. For those who have a stronger value of life and death, these sort of metaphysical consolations are insufficient. So a reformation of the burial and funeral rites could lead to both the opportunity for emotional catharsis and healing as well as celebration of life. The idea of "changing colors" seems like a very good step in this direction. The funeral black seems like more of a stimulating of the reactive-negative unconscious valuing of death via indirect appeal to metaphysical comfort and self-deception. Utilizing colors here would work to curb this aspect and mediate it with a more positive and conscious valuing intention.

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When I let my mind run, I seem to be in favor of what I am tempted to call 'Eleusian fields' -- large terrains of beautiful countryside, perhaps beaches where available, where cremations take place, where death is a constant presence but not as darkly solemn, but as provokingly exiting. Of course many people will be opposed to this as gruesome and unhygienic -- regarding the latter I do not know much but would certainly agree that this is a valid objection if indeed a fact, regarding the former, I disagree, because the true horror comes with the making invisible of the disintegrating process, and giving the body to the worms in a lengthy invisible process is far more gruesome than giving it quickly to the fire and air.

I agree that something like you mention could be a good substitute for our current social rituals regarding death and the body. But again, we must be careful not to legislate here where others feel differently about it. I see no necessary reason why burial of the body should be disallowed in favor of cremation, just a personal sentiment in that direction. Arrangements could be made to allow for either viewpoint. But I do agree that burning up in fire has a stronger and more conscious valuing possibility than burial in the ground, which seems to be an attempt at preservation rather than of acceptance.

Death is an extremely important issue, and my topic here is not meant to belittle or make light of it, quite the opposite in fact. For self-valuings, death represents an extreme limit and an object the power of which serves as a test of sorts for valuing. It may be true that as a species humans gained our self-consciousness only when we were able to conceptually understand death, to understand that we are alive now because we understand that someday we will cease to be. This extreme insertion of self-perception and possibility into being probably works to subtlize and differentiate being within itself, to spur subjective self-development and possibility. In this way I think we should still allow for individual variations on how death is experienced and confronted, aim for incentivizing and demonstrating what we deem to be of superior worth and value, but not necessarily legislating it where we can avoid this.

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Then there is the issue of suicide. Let's distinguish two forms first: the affirmative and negating type.
- The affirming type: If one sacrifices oneself effectively for a loved one, I think that there is nothing to say about this, one can only respect it. What one values in oneself the highest in such a case is the love one feels, one values ones valuing-capacity above all. Such a death may be seen value ontologically as a true fulfillment. But I see no possibility of evoking such a fulfillment from the outside. I think that only certain inner and outer circumstances permit such a meaningful sacrifice.

Agreed, but we can nonetheless structure the outer environment (society) in such a way so as to create the greatest opportunity for this possibility to become expressed. I am not entirely sure how that would be done, however, but I do know that it would certainly not be impossible. I feel strongly that at the very least steps could be made in this direction.

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- The negating type: If one ends ones life because it is too much to bear, then this reflects in deeply detrimental ways on the surroundings. Unfortunately I have been very close to such occurrences several times, and the result is always one of disintegration, self-questioning, unsurmountable doubt, a severe challenge to all the self-valuings involved. In such cases goes that healthy individuals are capable, in time, of overcoming the bulk of suffering caused by this, and in this overcoming things may be gained, but it doesn't bring any good by itself. The main way in which such overcoming seems to be accessible to the ones who love him/her is to imagine that the self-killer committed his act out of some kind of nobility -- to make the suicide in the imagination into an act of noble sacrifice. The workings of such an interpretation on the psyche are life-altering, irreversible and deeply strange. Surely, all sorts of value may be derived from it, and depths acquired. But the more people I see depart in this way, the more people I see affected and changed by it, the angrier it makes me. But I am still processing the numerous intrusions on my own life by such acts, so I can not perceive it clearly. It is true that I owe some of my depth to these suicides around me.

Certainly we must see this sort of suicide as a sign that "something is wrong", that society is not well enough producing either individuals or the conditions to which these individuals are subject. These suicides are like red flags. The idea that the suicided individual did it as a noble act seems an attempt to turn it into the affirming type of suicide, in order to "save" it (or at least our image of it). This does not strike me as entirely wrong (in some ways it is probably healthy, and might even be to some degree correct) assuming it is tempered also with a more self-honest understanding of the "red flag" aspect as well. It does seem that the extreme and life-changing pain and suffering that suicide causes to loved ones should serve as a deterrence of suicide in almost all cases, and where this is not the case then it is more likely that the suicide is more "negating" rather than "affirming". But the fact remains that our consciousness has limits, and at times we are more vulnerable to these than at others. Life certainly imposes itself as a severe hardship, and what ought to be changed is not the fact that life is difficult or painful, but the way in which we deal and are able to deal with this fact. This should be changed on the level of the individual (in terms of cultural beliefs and memes absorbed into/by the individual) and on the level of society (in terms of opportunities and supports available to individuals, chances for individuals to self-value effectively regardless of how difficult or painful life may be). A more communal society with less emphasis on absolute individualism and individualistic consumption/the value of money would probably naturally check the suicidal impulse.

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In the end I affirm any persons right to end his/her own life, as no one can deny this right but the individual himself. But the degree to which I can affirm these acts themselves diminishes with every consecutive case I experience. The first time I saw only nobility. Now I see mainly tragic failure to self-value, due to ineffective chemistry both in the physiological makeup and the interactions of individual with the world. Suicide is a sign that something was not working properly, as it might have. From this awareness we may learn a great deal -- someone who kills him/herself is a messenger, and this is how I imagine that they feel, but the message can be deeply deceptive, as what was wrong in the life of the dying one may have been what was right in the life where and until the message arrives.

Yes, exactly. It is a very complex issue then, and we might start not by trying to impose "solutions" from without, but rather more quietly by trying to find ways for individuals to have better opportunities to self-value, developing the possibility for a more effective "chemistry both in the physiological makeup and the interactions of individual with the world". Of course this starts with and is sustained by the world, since it is the world which plays a large role in producing individuals in the first place, and then it is the world which is the environment to which these individuals will be subject throughout their lives. New and more useful social functions and methods for allowing and encouraging individual self-valuings are called for, and these must tend to produce the greatest possible depth of value, must not be merely superficial or shallow valuing opportunities -- life is full of such meager opportunities to self-value, and the effect of these is to render the problem even worse. But we do need a multitude and diversity of ways in which individual fit into value-relations, with themselves, with other individuals and with/in broader society-level projects and goals. In the end we aim for a more holistic, healthy and productive synthesis of the individual life, which includes death. Re-thinking death rituals seems a necessary step in this direction.

 

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