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MisterSwig

Spies Who Commit Suicide

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Don quoted me as saying suicide could never be good.

I did!

4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Well, the spy case is a rare case of it being good that I hadn't thought about.

Hmm...

All right. Well, are there potentially other kinds of cases that you haven't yet thought about? Or have we now covered all of our bases, such that we can say "suicide is never morally good... except in the rare case of spies"?

I recognize that you give a few "clear conditions" which allow the spy's suicide to be moral -- but are these the only possible conditions which do the trick? Or is there something about the spy's suicide which makes it fundamentally different from others (like Maynard's) which you could state as a principle, so that we could assess for ourselves whether some other rare case also qualifies as moral? For instance, your quoted reasoning that suicide is never morally good is that it is a "rejection of life." Is that not true of the spy? If not, what makes it different in kind?

4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

1) The day of execution is known

Just out of curiosity, why must the day of execution be known? It's not enough to know you're slated for execution soon-ish?

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Nah, it's not like he goes on much more than that paragraph. At worst he is mistaken that suicide here is the best way to attain or get close to his (proper and rational)  goal.

So he's a mistaken Objectivist hero? What does "nah" mean? Are you saying that he's mistaken about potentially the most important choice of his life? He's mistaken about setting Dagny up as his most important value? Mistaken about being willing to die for her?

He's mistaken because Eiuol knows best what Galt's proper and rational goal should be?

Edited by MisterSwig

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30 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

So he's a mistaken Objectivist hero?

That's right. But mistakes are inessential. The point is, no rational -purpose- is going to extend past one's own life. All rational sub-purposes are for that end.

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Twas the night before Christmas, and here on this forum,
discussions of suicide challenge decorum. ...

I'm about done discussing Galt's thoughts on suicide. Perhaps for Christmas we could direct our attention to a type of suicide related to the story of Jesus. Of course I'm referring to Judas.

We read in the King James (Matt 27):

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Then Judas, which had betrayed [Jesus], when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.

Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.

And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

 

Judas was a disciple of Jesus, and for money he betrayed his master to the Jewish leaders who did not appreciate the Christ's antisocial antics in the temple and elsewhere. Jesus was subsequently handed over to the Romans for execution, and Judas suddenly had a change of heart. He returned the blood money to the temple priests, publicly repented and proclaimed his unforgivable sin, and then killed himself.

We might call this the betrayer's suicide. Is it another case of a potentially moral self-annihilation?

Leaving aside the messy religious elements, this is really about one man betraying his innocent friend, perhaps even his greatest value, and then afterward realizing the enormity of that act, and how utterly unworthy he is to continue living. Perhaps he cannot cope psychologically with the ever-present knowledge of destroying his best chance at happiness. Perhaps his vicious act completely obliterated any and all purpose and self-esteem he had, and killing himself is the most sensible choice available. To continue living would be a violation of the only value still within his grasp: reason. The reason that allows him to see that he in fact does not deserve life, because he so thoroughly betrayed it. Thus the only moral act remaining for him, the only way he can salvage an ounce of self-respect, is to punish himself in the most extreme way possible, in accordance with what he reasonably deserves.

Edited by MisterSwig

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22 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I don't think that morality depends upon having purposes which extend beyond a person's own life. I think it perfectly moral to work for the benefit of one's own life and happiness.

Here's the problem, Don: the conventional context for morality is the choice to live, but we are talking about the choice to die. Is it rational to apply moral standards for life to actions that involve choosing suicide?

Don't we need to expand our context and develop separate moral guidelines for choosing death? In what sort of situation is it good or bad? What makes it good or bad?

Our purpose in life is to pursue our own happiness by achieving our chosen values. But what if by living we find ourselves in the untenable situation of acting or being used against our top values and purpose? What if our only corrective measure is suicide? What then should the moral purpose of our death be? Simply to die for the sake of death? Or to die for the sake of the living--for whatever values that remain after you kill yourself. That's what I mean by having a suicidal purpose that extends beyond your own life. To kill yourself merely to kill yourself would be wholly immoral. It would be essentially anti-life. But to die for a living value, that is pro-life.

Edited by MisterSwig

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10 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Thus the only moral act remaining for him, the only way he can salvage an ounce of self-respect, is to punish himself in the most extreme way possible, in accordance with what he reasonably deserves.

This is Christian morality, that a person is judged by god to deserve punishment for a sin. Objectivism would see any person as redeemable to some degree, and moral action is possible.

What does this have to do with the spies?

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

What does [Judas] have to do with the spies?

It's another example of an atypical suicide. Perhaps it even represents a corollary of the captured spy. Consider how the spy sometimes kills himself to prevent betrayal, while the betrayer kills himself on account of it.

Judas and Jesus also relates to Dagny and Galt. Both stories involve talk of betrayal and suicide. But from opposite philosophical perspectives.

Edited by MisterSwig
Added additional thoughts.

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6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

But what if by living we find ourselves in the untenable situation of acting or being used against our top values and purpose? What if our only corrective measure is suicide? What then should the moral purpose of our death be? Simply to die for the sake of death? Or to die for the sake of the living--for whatever values that remain after you kill yourself. That's what I mean by having a suicidal purpose that extends beyond your own life. To kill yourself merely to kill yourself would be wholly immoral. It would be essentially anti-life. But to die for a living value, that is pro-life.

No, choosing death is the opposite of choosing life; all of Objectivist ethics being objective depends on the objective requirements of life. So if you opt for death, there is no objective code to use as long as there are moral codes. There is no code of moral action for sinners, like atonement, as many religions do. Careful about "to die for" - risk may be included, but it doesn't at all mean dying for their sake if you feel worthless. The thing about the spies is you need a pro-life reason for yourself, while "betrayal morality" is asking for reasons die in payment for becoming irredeemably sinful.

 

I'll get to Don another time next.

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On 12/25/2016 at 9:24 AM, MisterSwig said:

Here's the problem, Don: the conventional context for morality is the choice to live, but we are talking about the choice to die. Is it rational to apply moral standards for life to actions that involve choosing suicide?

I think that's only a problem if "the choice to live" is taken alone to mean "the choice to survive," which imo is the implicit (and mistaken) root of the problem for those who think suicide is immoral and cannot understand why Rand would potentially approve of it in certain cases.

But I've been arguing (especially in the other thread) that Objectivism actually centers something more than survival alone at the heart of its ethics. This has sometimes been described elsewhere (and argued against elsewhere, equally) as "life/survival qua man" and "flourishing" and "eudaimonia," but I have been using the term "life-as-experience" to try to hone in on my meaning (and also because I think my focus is slightly different than most commentators I've read, and produces better results).

I believe that the true measure of morality is not alone what contributes to (or detracts from) our life in terms of longevity, but what contributes to (or detracts from) the sum of our experience of our existence, which notably consists of pleasures and pains and their emotional analogues.

And thus, choosing suicide may be subject to moral standards -- and indeed Objectivist moral standards (helping to resolve the apparent "contradiction" epistemologue claimed to note in his OP in the other thread) -- if those moral standards focus on the experience of one's existence, rather than simply its duration.

This is why there is a real choice between three months of life in relative comfort versus six months of life in pain: one must assess those experiences in full to decide his preference, rather than simply saying that six months of life is necessarily preferable to three months of life, regardless of the quality or character of those months.

On 12/25/2016 at 9:24 AM, MisterSwig said:

What then should the moral purpose of our death be? Simply to die for the sake of death? Or to die for the sake of the living--for whatever values that remain after you kill yourself. That's what I mean by having a suicidal purpose that extends beyond your own life.

I approach this a different way, I think. I wouldn't counsel choosing to die for the sake of death (obviously) or for the sake of the living, either, but only for the sake of the self. It is one's own experience that's important -- not after death (obviously again), but while one lives.

Frankly, I thought we were already closer to agreement on this point than perhaps is the case. For in the OP, you'd written:

On 12/21/2016 at 11:27 PM, MisterSwig said:

While some might argue that Bineth could have enjoyed a day or two more of imprisoned life, I would counter that such a brief and pointless extension of life might be utterly worthless compared to the final psychological satisfaction in knowing that one's suicide will deprive the enemy of a public victory.

And this expresses my essential reasoning, too. It's weighing the experience of a day or two more of imprisoned life, and finding it "utterly worthless" as against a "final psychological satisfaction," which I would describe as a kind of (cognitive/emotional) pleasure. So in the name of morality, I would say take the option that's worth more.

It's not so much that one's "purpose" extends beyond the self, but it's the satisfaction one can take in his own actions, even right up to the end. Even when options are limited and not ideal (by our usual standards), it is rational and moral to try to find the best for the self. By pursuing assisted suicide, Brittany Maynard buys herself peace of mind in the time she does have left. Now, instead of dealing with treatments she dreads and all that comes with wasting away from cancer, she can spend (a smaller amount of) time with her loved ones where she can enjoy herself more fully. That's valuable, and her choice says to me that it's worth more to her.

Or to approach my idea from a slightly different angle, consider estate planning. ARI helps some of its more generous regular donors set up plans to donate to the Institute after their deaths. But why should any individual care what becomes of his money after he dies? If his life is the standard of morality, what value can he get from making such donations -- or anything else -- after he's dead, and lacks the capacity to enjoy anything at all.

But that's not the point. The point is the experience of life one has while he's alive, knowing that he's striking a blow for the things he believes in and values. It's the same for setting aside money for one's children, or perhaps some forms of environmental conservation (so long as they do not violate others' rights).

What makes any of these efforts moral (if they are, which is a case-by-case basis) is not that they "help others" who yet live -- it is not that the purpose "extends beyond one's own life" -- it is that they reward the actor while he is alive. Which is to say that his motivations are fundamentally selfish, and insofar as the resultant actions provide more happiness, more pleasures, generally a better experience of life than otherwise (even in a smaller time frame), they are both rational and moral.

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11 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I wouldn't counsel choosing to die for the sake of death (obviously) or for the sake of the living, either, but only for the sake of the self. It is one's own experience that's important -- not after death (obviously again), but while one lives.

There is no self after you end your self. So how does the act of suicide gain or keep the self?

I'm talking about the ethics of suicide. I don't see how it makes sense to commit suicide for the sake of the self. It's a contradictory purpose. It's like chopping off your arm for the sake of your arm. Or would you say it's for the sake of the experience of chopping off your arm?

The purpose of suicide cannot exist in your past or present, otherwise there would be no need to perform the act of killing yourself. You would already have fulfilled your purpose. The purpose of suicide must therefore be something you hope will happen in the future, as a result of your action. That something can be pro-life or anti-life. But it cannot be pro-self, because your self would no longer exist. It can only be anti-self, which would not necessarily be anti-life in the philosophical sense.

Quote

I believe that the true measure of morality is not alone what contributes to (or detracts from) our life in terms of longevity, but what contributes to (or detracts from) the sum of our experience of our existence, which notably consists of pleasures and pains and their emotional analogues.

We might disagree in a fundamental way. It appears that, for you, the measure of morality is the experience of sensations and emotions. Therefore, if something causes a positive experience, then it's good. And if something removes a negative experience, then it too is good. In this view, if living is a positive experience, then suicide is immoral. But if living is a negative experience, then suicide is moral.

The measure of morality, however, is the good, not a personal experience of pleasure. And to measure the good objectively requires "an evaluation of the facts of reality by man's consciousness according to a rational standard of value."

Of course, the standard of value is not pleasure. It's life. So even with regard to suicide, the purpose of the act should be in accordance with the standard of life. However, it would be absurd to claim that the purpose of a moral suicide is to benefit one's own life. Thus, it must be to benefit someone else's life.

This does not mean that such an act is necessarily altruistic, because the suicider is not necessarily sacrificing a greater value for a lesser one. He may be acting to preserve a value without which his life would be worthless. And therefore he is dying for a greater value, not a lesser one.

Now I realize that the above might be confused with the rhetoric of altruists who preach about the greater good. But the altruist's trick is to fool you into thinking that his greater good is really everybody's greater good. That is not what I'm arguing.

If we are to win the ethical battle, we must take such concepts as greater good and put them in a valid context. The altruist mistakenly applies the idea to intrinsic or subjective values, when it applies only to objective values.

Typically the greater good is one's own life, because an objective value is a value to the individual valuer, and usually that valuer's own life is his greatest objective value. But, in some unusual circumstances, the greater good might be someone else's life, if that life is objectively more valuable to the valuer than the valuer's own life.

Here it is important not to drop the critical context of the individual, suicidal situation. Let's consider Galt. His life is a life in a particular context which can change. While in Galt's Gulch with Dagny, his life is free and full of values, including his top value. To commit suicide in such a context would be absurdly bad. He would be destroying his own life, which in this context is the greatest good. But imagine him, as he did in the previously quoted passage, in the context of being captured by the enemy and threatened with the murder of Dagny if he refuses to obey their will. In this situation the context of his life would radically change. Would his own life still be his greater good? No. His life would be reduced to a choice between acting against his own purpose or watching his greatest value be murdered. Objectively, his life could no longer be considered his greatest value, nor his greater good. In fact, both evil alternatives would depend on him continuing to live.

Faced with such a choice, in which both options for living went against Galt's greatest values and purpose, what could he do to remain true to the standard of life except to die for Dagny, whose life would be objectively, in context, better than his own? She would be his greater good, but only after his own life had been turned against him.

Edited by MisterSwig

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14 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I think that's only a problem if "the choice to live" is taken alone to mean "the choice to survive," which imo is the implicit (and mistaken) root of the problem for those who think suicide is immoral and cannot understand why Rand would potentially approve of it in certain cases.

I don't see how it's implicit at all, I think it's related to how impossible it seems to flourish in -any- sense of the word in some situations. If the NEEDS of flourishing remain possible, then there's no rational reason to suggest suicide. The deeper question seems to be if the process of following one's nature via virtue is itself happy and makes for flourishing.

"Well, are there potentially other kinds of cases that you haven't yet thought about?"
No, I don't think so.

"Or is there something about the spy's suicide which makes it fundamentally different from others"
Knowing the day you'll die. This is exceedingly rare, of course, but it happens in war and revolutions sometimes. It's a difference of degree, as in the difference is information. Knowing when you'll die is a threshold to at least say "maybe".

"Just out of curiosity, why must the day of execution be known?"
Because there is (most likely) nothing you are able to do to alter or thwart your demise. Your flourishing potential leaves your hands on that hour.

Edited by Eiuol

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

There is no self after you end your self. So how does the act of suicide gain or keep the self?

I'm about to hate this use of language -- and in fact, I already regret it -- but

There is no self after you end yourself, but there is a self beforehand (and that self endures, for a time, even when one has opted for suicide, and even at times when one has enacted whatever will result in one's own death). The act of suicide does not "gain or keep" the self, but then the self is not a value in that sense: values are what the self acts to gain or keep. In some cases, though rare, the self may act to gain or keep values through a decision to commit suicide -- and the self may enjoy taking that action, in terms of emotions and etc., up until the actual moment of cessation.

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I don't see how it makes sense to commit suicide for the sake of the self.

It's for the sake of values one may enjoy, while one may enjoy them.

Perhaps this does not make sense to you currently, or maybe I misread you initially, but again I would refer you to the quote you'd provided, where you'd described Bineth as having achieved a "final psychological satisfaction" which was more valuable, to her, than an extra day or so of technical life. I can also refer you to Maynard, who acquired a sense of peace through opting for suicide, and was able to better enjoy the life remaining to her, accordingly.

That's how one may commit suicide for the sake of the self.

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We might disagree in a fundamental way.

I don't doubt it. Rumors of a monolithic, lock-step Objectivist mentality notwithstanding, this forum is no testament to it.

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It appears that, for you, the measure of morality is the experience of sensations and emotions. Therefore, if something causes a positive experience, then it's good. And if something removes a negative experience, then it too is good. In this view, if living is a positive experience, then suicide is immoral. But if living is a negative experience, then suicide is moral.

This comes close, but does not have it exact. It is not quite "if something causes a positive experience, then it's good"; but rather, the good comes from seeking to maximize a life of positive experience. This may seem a subtle difference? But practically it means that one may morally reject some positive experience (or embrace a negative one) for the sake of greater positive experience ahead.

But yes, it is a recognition that when we discuss "life as the standard of value," what we really mean is not simply "survival," but "flourishing" or "life qua man" or "eudaimonia" or, as I would have it, a life characterized by positive experience.

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The measure of morality, however, is the good, not a personal experience of pleasure. And to measure the good objectively requires "an evaluation of the facts of reality by man's consciousness according to a rational standard of value."

Of course, the standard of value is not pleasure. It's life.

There are some problems here, I believe, with respect to "begging the question" and perhaps strawmanning as well. But more centrally, I agree that to measure the good objectively requires "an evaluation of the facts of reality by man's consciousness according to a rational standard of value." Pleasures both physical and mental/emotional, as well as pains, are among "the facts of reality."

And I agree that "the standard of value is not pleasure, but life." But I contend that "life" is not alone survival; I am arguing that such pleasures and pains are part and parcel to "life" when we refer to "life as the standard of value."

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However, it would be absurd to claim that the purpose of a moral suicide is to benefit one's own life. Thus, it must be to benefit someone else's life.

I disagree. Even taking action to benefit the life of another (whether via suicide or any other sort of act) is only moral when its primary purpose is to benefit the self. Again, this is realizable through suicide as described above and elsewhere.

In That Other Thread (tm), when epistemologue claimed that we "exist for the sake of achieving values," you rightly disagreed, saying:

On 11/19/2016 at 3:21 PM, MisterSwig said:

No. People exist to pursue their own happiness, and they choose values based on that pursuit.

You have made dutifully achieving values the very standard of value, when the standard of value should be an individual person's own life and happiness.

Just so. The standard of value should be (and is, and remains, even when we discuss suicide) "an individual person's own life and happiness." It is to that very life and happiness that I appeal, and nothing else.

Where suicide is concerned, we do not suddenly abandon that standard and pick up the standard of "someone else's life." And if that is the only defense of a "moral suicide," then there is no such thing.

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This does not mean that such an act is necessarily altruistic, because the suicider is not necessarily sacrificing a greater value for a lesser one. He may be acting to preserve a value without which his life would be worthless. And therefore he is dying for a greater value, not a lesser one.

You say "his life would be worthless."

"Worthless" to whom and in what sense? What does that mean, in reality?

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Now I realize that the above might be confused with the rhetoric of altruists who preach about the greater good. But the altruist's trick is to fool you into thinking that his greater good is really everybody's greater good. That is not what I'm arguing.

If we are to win the ethical battle, we must take such concepts as greater good and put them in a valid context. The altruist mistakenly applies the idea to intrinsic or subjective values, when it applies only to objective values.

Typically the greater good is one's own life, because an objective value is a value to the individual valuer, and usually that valuer's own life is his greatest objective value. But, in some unusual circumstances, the greater good might be someone else's life, if that life is objectively more valuable to the valuer than the valuer's own life.

I'm not about to accuse you of being an altruist, so let's not fret about that. If your ideas eventually amount to altruism (and I'm not saying that they do), I trust that you will abandon them accordingly as soon as you make that identification.

But I will say that I reject the idea of a "greater good." I do not believe that there is a "greater good" than any individual's life. And I believe that the attempt to introduce a "greater good" to Objectivism would have the same effect it does everywhere else: it would turn certain people into the means for other peoples' ends.

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Here it is important not to drop the critical context of the individual, suicidal situation. Let's consider Galt. His life is a life in a particular context which can change. While in Galt's Gulch with Dagny, his life is free and full of values, including his top value. To commit suicide in such a context would be absurdly bad. He would be destroying his own life, which in this context is the greatest good. But imagine him, as he did in the previously quoted passage, in the context of being captured by the enemy and threatened with the murder of Dagny if he refuses to obey their will. In this situation the context of his life would radically change. Would his own life still be his greater good? No. His life would be reduced to a choice between acting against his own purpose or watching his greatest value be murdered. Objectively, his life could no longer be considered his greatest value, nor his greater good. In fact, both evil alternatives would depend on him continuing to live.

Faced with such a choice, in which both options for living went against Galt's greatest values and purpose, what could he do to remain true to the standard of life except to die for Dagny, whose life would be objectively, in context, better than his own? She would be his greater good, but only after his own life had been turned against him.

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

But you think it would be right in the minds of these characters (or their author) to die for the sake of another man? Or for the "greater good"?

Yet if we want to assess Rand's views on suicide, or Peikoff's by extension, we have access to the information epistemologue and dream_weaver helpfully provided... in that other thread: non-fiction statements regarding the topic of suicide specifically. For instance, in the OP epistemologue quotes Peikoff as writing (in OPAR):

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Suicide is justified when man's life, owing to circumstances outside of a person's control, is no longer possible; an example might be a person with a painful terminal illness, or a prisoner in a concentration camp who sees no chance of escape.

You'll notice no mention of a "greater good" here. I don't think justifying suicide requires it.

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't see how it's implicit at all, I think it's related to how impossible it seems to flourish in -any- sense of the word in some situations. If the NEEDS of flourishing remain possible, then there's no rational reason to suggest suicide. The deeper question seems to be if the process of following one's nature via virtue is itself happy and makes for flourishing.

Above I have Peikoff saying that "man's life" may be "no longer possible" as for instance in the case of a "painful terminal illness" (which should immediately call Brittany Maynard to your mind, by now) or life in a concentration camp.

What do we think he means by the qualifier "man's"? I would suggest that he's addressing the same sort of idea (if not exact) as what you might mean by "flourishing," or what I'm referring to as "life-as-experience." For "life-as-survival" is certainly possible in a concentration camp, and perhaps Maynard could hang on for six months more -- or even longer -- despite her illness. So I take Peikoff to mean that there's something else that is more important than survival -- something without which survival itself might not even be desirable, and which might not be available to a man in every conceivable circumstance.

In response, epistemologue suggests (paraphrased), "Well, have a terminal illness, be trapped forever in a concentration camp, hell, go through the worst possible tortures, and just be happy anyways - DUH!" A view to which you'd hitched your own wagon. But in answer to your "deeper question," no, I don't think that happiness works that way in reality.

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"Well, are there potentially other kinds of cases that you haven't yet thought about?"
No, I don't think so.

LOL, that's convenient! :) Leave it to MisterSwig to happen upon the singular and unique case in all of human society which constitutes an exception to your rule!

(Of course, I guess you would have said the same before MisterSwig had introduced the spy example...)

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"Or is there something about the spy's suicide which makes it fundamentally different from others"
Knowing the day you'll die. This is exceedingly rare, of course, but it happens in war and revolutions sometimes. It's a difference of degree, as in the difference is information. Knowing when you'll die is a threshold to at least say "maybe".

"Just out of curiosity, why must the day of execution be known?"
Because there is (most likely) nothing you are able to do to alter or thwart your demise. Your flourishing potential leaves your hands on that hour.

Does the specificity matter? (Will "the day" really suffice? Or must one also know the hour? The minute?) Is it enough to know that one has a prognosis of six months to live, for instance?

Edited by DonAthos

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

So I take Peikoff to mean that there's something else that is more important than survival -- something without which survival itself might not even be desirable, and which might not be available to a man in every conceivable circumstance.

I don't think anyone here disagrees. We only disagree -when- flourishing becomes a pipe dream or impossible. I mean, if your existence is undesirable, it can't be possible to flourish if it's rational perspective. So with the spies, it also is someone who would like to keep living, they desire to live, and know there's a hard end date. Does that reasoning sound sensible at least?

 

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10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think anyone here disagrees. We only disagree -when- flourishing becomes a pipe dream or impossible.

I am not at all convinced of this.

Or even if people "agree" that life (as the standard of value) is more than survival, should that question be posed to them directly, that doesn't mean that their arguments regarding suicide reflect that understanding. I believe that many of the arguments I've seen over these two threads rely upon treating the standard of value as survival. While I could be mistaken in my assessment, it could also be the case that others have not completely integrated their views; there could be compartmentalization or a more general evasion at work. Their views could be internally inconsistent.

I've attempted to test for that. I'd asked you whether there was a real choice between three months of pain-free life versus six months of painful life... but I didn't get any clear or direct answer from you (despite repeating the question twice more), so I still don't really know your mind. Will you answer it now?

Three versus six was chosen arbitrarily, and equally arbitrarily I could ask whether there's a real choice between five months, twenty-nine days of pain-free life versus six months of painful life; would that extra day of life be worth all of that pain? This tests for one's view of "pain," primarily, but I think that it also probes the question of "life as the standard of value," and what "life" in that phrase means to the individual uttering it. (What answer should we expect from someone who holds that life=survival, such that "survival is the standard of value"? How might it be different from the answer of someone who holds that "life" entails more than just survival?)

So answer as honestly as you can, and in as straightforward a manner as possible, but please do answer: Five months, twenty-nine days of pain-free life vs. six months of painful life. Is there a real choice between them? How do you assess this?

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18 hours ago, DonAthos said:

But you think it would be right in the minds of these characters (or their author) to die for the sake of another man? Or for the "greater good"?

Yes, I don't see a problem with it. I explained the importance of acknowledging the change in context. It's a radical switch in moral perspective which occurs at the base level of the choice between living or dying. Understanding suicide requires recognizing that the context of the person's individual life has changed at this base level. Which means that new guidelines must be formulated from the ground up.

Galt would live for his own sake, right up until he is forced to live for the sake of his enemy's life, at which point living for his own sake would no longer be possible. In that context he would rather choose to die for his lover's life, since dying for his own life would be a logical absurdity.

I realize that Rand didn't use my words to express her sentiment in Atlas Shrugged. The closest she got was having Galt say to Dagny, "At the first mention of a threat to you, I will kill myself and stop them right there." I agree with that sentiment and have attempted to find the logic in such a purpose for suicide.

I think Rand would have jumped at an opportunity to take a concept like greater good away from the altruists, if she had thought of doing it. She spent her entire philosophical life trying to take selfish away from them. And that concept has way more attached stigma than greater good.

I'm not sure we will ever win the ethical battle unless we better understand and resolve the problem of suicide. It is a common enough human behavior, and we need a thorough answer on how to judge it objectively.

Quote

 

You say "his life would be worthless."

"Worthless" to whom and in what sense? What does that mean, in reality?

 

I mean it in the sense that Galt means it when he says, "There will be no values for me to seek after that [Dagny's murder]--and I do not care to exist without values." If Galt should let them kill Dagny, then his life would be worthless to him. Because he would have no values to pursue. Remember the context of his hypothetical. He's under arrest and his captors are threatening to harm Dagny. If the standard of life was mere survival, he should then surrender and cooperate with the enemy. But the standard of life is living as a man, and that means much more than simple survival. It means being able to live in an ethical manner. No matter your moral code, if living morally becomes impossible, then the remaining choice seems to be dying morally.

As Objectivists, we should want to discover the objective guidelines for such an action. And if that requires saving abused concepts from the clutches of altruism, then so be it.

Quote

The standard of value should be (and is, and remains, even when we discuss suicide) "an individual person's own life and happiness." It is to that very life and happiness that I appeal, and nothing else.

A person's own life is the standard of value for him. Yes. But I wonder if you're also making it intrinsically the greatest value for him? An individual's life is objectively the greatest value to him, until he finds himself in a situation or context in which it objectively is not. Nothing has intrinsic value, not even a person's own life to himself.

Edited by MisterSwig

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5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Or even if people "agree" that life (as the standard of value) is more than survival, should that question be posed to them directly, that doesn't mean that their arguments regarding suicide reflect that understanding.

Sure, I don't think you showed it though - because it's not the disagreement. As weird as it may be to you that some of us see flourishing as possible to some degree in bad situations, that's how it is.

I didn't answer you right away because I'm not sure you follow my argument about the spies. I was going to get to it. It doesn't really matter if you can quantify the amount of time involved. Those are utilitarian ways of thinking, and not about principles. Generally, 3 months without pain are preferable to 6 months of pain. I'd rather be living as I do now than as a POW. But... Pain is not a proper measurement of flourishing any more than your blood sugar, though. Life may be full of pains for some people, but this does not make life itself painful for them. All that matters is in what way you may be able to flourish. All you need to assess is the best way to flourish in the long run.

Or as a metaphor:

What is the highest you'll be able to climb the mountain? Some people don't even try to climb and assume they'll be miserable.

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20 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I mean [that Galt's life would be worthless] in the sense that Galt means it when he says, "There will be no values for me to seek after that [Dagny's murder]--and I do not care to exist without values." If Galt should let them kill Dagny, then his life would be worthless to him. Because he would have no values to pursue. Remember the context of his hypothetical. He's under arrest and his captors are threatening to harm Dagny. If the standard of life was mere survival, he should then surrender and cooperate with the enemy. But the standard of life is living as a man, and that means much more than simple survival. It means being able to live in an ethical manner. No matter your moral code, if living morally becomes impossible, then the remaining choice seems to be dying morally.

There is a lot in your post, potentially, to comment on -- but can we focus for a moment on this passage?

For context in examining this paragraph, allow me to introduce Rand on value (from "The Objectivist Ethics"):

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An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are evaluated. An organism’s life is its standard of value: that which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil.

and also

Quote

Man must choose his actions, values and goals by the standard of that which is proper to man—in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.

Taking these together, we have that an "ultimate value" is the end to which all of his "lesser goals" are the means, and that an individual man's ultimate value is his own life.

Are we agreed that this is a fair reading?

If so, then isn't Galt's love for Dagny, in itself, meant to be in service to Galt's ultimate value -- which is his own life? (If we hold him to act according to the Objectivist Ethics; it is also possible to suppose that Galt's actions and attitude represent a deviation from what Rand discussed in her non-fiction.) Galt is held ("man must choose") to decide upon his "actions, values and goals" ("values" including his relationship with Dagny) according to the standard of that which is proper to man to, among other things, enjoy his own life. In other words, and from Galt's point of view, his love for Dagny is meant to support Galt in achieving, maintaining, fulfilling and enjoying his own life. It is not meant to be the object to which he sacrifices all of that. (If it were, then Dagny's life would be his "ultimate value," which seems to contradict "The Objectivist Ethics" at least.)

To clarify, I don't necessarily believe that Galt is wrong to threaten suicide over Dagny's murder, but I mean to get at the reasons why -- and I don't believe that Galt valuing Dagny's life above his own is the key. I do not believe that it consists of introducing the "greater good" to Objectivism, which I object to not simply as a matter of "stigma," but because I think it would gut the very meaning of selfishness. I think it would reintroduce any number of evils that Rand worked so hard to eliminate.

You say that Galt would have no values left to pursue after Dagny's murder, but how should this be so? Why shouldn't Galt be able to discover other values which allow him "to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy" his own life, without Dagny? Could he not eat? Could he not find shelter? Could he not continue to invent or find other employment? Would it be indecorous to suppose that he could even find romantic love in another person? Don't all of these things have worth? Why or why not?

You also intimate that Galt would not be able to live "in an ethical manner," after Dagny's murder -- but what does that mean? If we're concerned about Galt's willingness to sacrifice his relationship with Dagny for the sake of his own life as being unethical (if we even attribute that outcome to him, which I would not; Dagny's death would be the fault of her murderers and nobody else), then that's begging the question. For after all, if Galt's relationship with Dagny is meant to serve his own life, and if these things come into conflict, then it would be ethical for him to "sacrifice" the lesser value for the greater.

So I do not yet see, per the views you've advanced thus far, why Galt should regard his own life as "worthless" if Dagny is murdered. Galt would be able to do all of the things he had been doing prior to meeting Dagny -- what's worthless about that?

19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Life may be full of pains for some people, but this does not make life itself painful for them.

For a number of reasons, I might not have a fuller response for your post any time soon, Eiuol. But I'd ask you to review and reflect upon this statement.

I recognize that there is a subtle shade of difference here -- and arguably it is even meaningful -- but I believe that this is as close as we will ever come to seeing an earnest assertion on this forum that A is not-A.

Rather

If Joe's life is full of pain, then Joe's life is painful.

Quote

What is the highest you'll be able to climb the mountain? Some people don't even try to climb and assume they'll be miserable.

And finally, I (generally speaking) agree with you that it's not right to assume you'll be miserable. Go ahead and make an effort. Climb the mountain.

But there is also a point at which it is right to conclude that further assent will make you miserable, not accounting to pure "assumption," but to what you've learned through experience.

And it is not wrong, at that point, to decide to end your climb.

Edited by DonAthos

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

You say that Galt would have no values left to pursue after Dagny's murder, but how should this be so? Why shouldn't Galt be able to discover other values which allow him "to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy" his own life, without Dagny? Could he not eat? Could he not find shelter? Could he not continue to invent or find other employment? Would it be indecorous to suppose that he could even find romantic love in another person?

How would he do all that after the enemy kills him too for refusing to help them?

Context.

My argument will make no sense if you drop the context of Galt's hypothetical situation.

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10 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

How would he do all that after the enemy kills him too for refusing to help them?

Context.

My argument will make no sense if you drop the context of Galt's hypothetical situation.

Neither does the term in contention -- "worthless" -- make any sense if the assumption is that Galt cannot somehow survive Dagny's death. If Galt assumes that after Dagny dies, then he will die quickly thereafter (because he does not plan on complying in any circumstance), there's no need to talk about "existing without values"; in such a case, he wouldn't exist at all.

So I took your argument to be, not that Galt would be immediately executed, but that he would potentially live in a state he considers "worthless" -- perhaps indefinitely. For you'd said:

22 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I mean it in the sense that Galt means it when he says, "There will be no values for me to seek after that [Dagny's murder]--and I do not care to exist without values." If Galt should let them kill Dagny, then his life would be worthless to him. Because he would have no values to pursue.

You see? There is a rather sizable difference between "I will be killed" versus "I do not care to exist" or between "he would be unable to pursue values, because he would be dead" versus "he would have no values to pursue." This seems to suggest, both in the original quote and in your commentary on it, that Galt would have no reason to live -- even if he could.

And in trying to make sense of your position over two threads, I don't see how I can relate this purported defense of suicide ("for the greater good" and "when survival is literally impossible") with Brittany Maynard, or what Peikoff said about suicide, or with the examples you yourself had raised, such as damaged soldiers or athletes, writing at one point that "it's hard to fault a former athlete for wanting to die because he has no use of his legs or arms."

That is neither a person incarcerated and set for execution, nor forced to act unethically by men with guns... but it is potentially someone who might find his existence "worthless" -- and so that is the concept I would like for you to explore.

If you still hold to it, that is. I suppose it possible that you have changed your position since your entry into this debate, for there you had written:

On 11/18/2016 at 11:10 AM, MisterSwig said:

[...]

Suicide may not be a philosophic rejection of life. Obviously it's a physical rejection. But mentally it might be a statement on how life is too valuable to waste on neverending suffering. Life is supposed to be about achieving values and happiness. If that's not possible to you, then why suffer forever?

You could assert that given enough time and effort, one might escape such hopeless misery. But that's not your call to make. Each individual must determine for himself when life is not worth living.

Again: this seems to support an idea that life can be "worthless," even where technical survival is possible. (And without any overarching threat of being forced by evil captors to do wicked deeds; though even in such a case, I think that this does not necessarily make the victim "immoral" should he comply.)

Is this still your position? If so, could we explore that idea? I had taken this to be your meaning re: Galt and Dagny (that like an athlete without use of his arms or legs, Galt would be doomed to some kind of "neverending suffering" should Dagny be killed -- that this is the sense in which his life would be "worthless"), but if that is not what you mean -- if you only mean that Galt will be literally killed, should he refuse to comply -- then let's abandon that unhelpful (or "worthless") example and find something that speaks better to this issue.

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13 minutes ago, Eiuol said:
5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

If Joe's life is full of pain, then Joe's life is painful.

Looks like a fallacy of composition.

It does? :)

All right. You're maintaining that there's a meaningful difference between "full of pain" and "painful," then? (For I trust that "Joe's life" remains uncontroversially "Joe's life.") Fair enough. Let's explore that.

In the first place, would you say that there is a meaningful difference between "full of hope" and "hopeful" or "full of joy" and "joyful"? Or is there something characteristically different with respect to "painful" such that these comparisons do not hold?

But then, let's look at the substance. Take Brittany Maynard, but suppose that she does not opt for suicide, and develops the resistance she feared for whatever pain-relievers (or opts not to take them, because they interfere substantially with her ability to focus). Suppose that her every waking moment is subsequently filled with pain.

You think that it would be proper for her to say "my life is full of pain," but not "my life is painful"? At first blush, that doesn't seem to me to be a meaningful distinction. Can you elaborate on the difference?

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3 hours ago, DonAthos said:

...life can be "worthless," even where technical survival is possible ...

Is this still your position? If so, could we explore that idea? I had taken this to be your meaning re: Galt and Dagny (that like an athlete without use of his arms or legs, Galt would be doomed to some kind of "neverending suffering" should Dagny be killed -- that this is the sense in which his life would be "worthless"), but if that is not what you mean -- if you only mean that Galt will be literally killed, should he refuse to comply -- then let's abandon that unhelpful (or "worthless") example and find something that speaks better to this issue.

It's absolutely still my position: a person's life can be rendered worthless to themselves even if mere survival is still possible. By worthless I mean: objectively of no moral value.

In Galt's hypothetical, suppose the enemy threatens to torture Dagny, and Galt does not commit suicide. He is then compelled to give his captors whatever they want, in which case he betrays his own moral code. He betrays the most important principles for which he stands, while betraying cherished values, namely the cardinal ones: reason, purpose, and self-esteem. He now thinks and works for the enemy. His life as a moral man is forfeit. Bare survival might be possible. But how much meaning does life have without moral integrity, especially to a man like Galt?

Or: suppose Galt refuses to comply with his interrogators. He lets them kill Dagny before killing him. Not only is Galt dead now, but in life he evaded a critical opportunity to do some good in the end. He could have killed himself in order to remove the particular threat to Dagny's life. But he didn't. And in that sense, in that final context, his life was worthless. In the concluding measure, he rejected the fact, the moral, the good. He sacrificed his ideal girlfriend for a few more minutes of worthless existence.

I'm not sure if this is the sort of reasoning Rand had in mind. But she thought about it enough to have Galt realize that his only chance for survival was to convince Dagny to lie--to pretend that she hated him. For, if the enemy thought she was on their side, then they would have no reason to torture her as a means of inducing Galt's obedience. And if she were free, he would have a chance of out-lasting whatever torture awaited him. In some sense, Galt decided at that moment that his greatest value was Dagny being free. She was the most valuable thing to his life. Without her, he was a dead man. But with her freedom, there was hope.

I'll get to your other points later.

Edited by MisterSwig

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It's absolutely still my position: a person's life can be rendered worthless to themselves even if mere survival is still possible. By worthless I mean: objectively of no moral value.

We may fast be approaching the point at which we should agree to disagree, if at least temporarily. I need a bit of a breather. :)

For now, I have to report that "objectively of no moral value" does not yet help me to understand "worthless" any better than I did before.

Quote

In Galt's hypothetical, suppose the enemy threatens to torture Dagny, and Galt does not commit suicide. He is then compelled to give his captors whatever they want, in which case he betrays his own moral code. He betrays the most important principles for which he stands, while betraying cherished values, namely the cardinal ones: reason, purpose, and self-esteem. He now thinks and works for the enemy. His life as a moral man is forfeit. Bare survival might be possible. But how much meaning does life have without moral integrity, especially to a man like Galt?

Given what you've posited, I don't believe that Galt submitting to his captors' demands necessarily entails a life "without moral integrity." Following orders at the direction of a gun is not in itself immoral (the immorality belongs to the man holding the gun); and furthermore such apparent submission might give Galt opportunities to undermine his captors.

***

Spoiler(s) for Star Wars: Rogue One (and the Star Wars series more generally)

If you're reading this, the plot of Star Wars: Rogue One hinges on one of the characters submitting to the Empire and helping them to construct the Death Star (which he believes will finally be built with or without his help, though perhaps not so quickly). It also affords him, over many years, the ability to undermine the Death Star's construction by planting a flaw in the design. It is that design flaw which is eventually exploited in A New Hope, which means that it is instrumental in the fall of the Empire.

***

But perhaps this is rather besides the point. It does not yet test for what I would like to test for, and I hope to redirect us forthwith:

Quote

Or: suppose Galt refuses to comply with his interrogators. He lets them kill Dagny before killing him.

Let us go off the beaten path a bit. Suppose that Galt hatches a plan that allows him to escape, but only while Dagny is removed for interrogation/execution. Or he could cause a disturbance which would allow Dagny to escape, but at the cost of his own life. He deems escape for the both of them impossible.

With such options on the table, would Galt be willing to escape by himself, leaving Dagny to die? Or would he reject such a thing, because, "There will be no values for me to seek after that [Dagny's murder]--and I do not care to exist without values"?

Quote

I'll get to your other points later.

I especially look forward to the application of this line of reasoning to the examples you'd raised in the other thread, such as the athlete without functioning limbs -- because as yet, I cannot see the logic for myself.

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On 12/28/2016 at 1:13 PM, Eiuol said:

Sure, I don't think you showed it though - because it's not the disagreement. As weird as it may be to you that some of us see flourishing as possible to some degree in bad situations, that's how it is.

All right, Eiuol, I'll attempt to respond to this more fully now. I was beginning to feel a little discouraged about this conversation, but "hope springs eternal." (Or at least until you have terminal brain cancer. ;))

Again, I sincerely believe that there is that "life-as-survival" thing going on here. I'll go further and say that it is a confusion that infects a fair amount of Objectivist thought, as I believe that it is a common misread/misunderstanding of Rand. (It is further possible that Rand was not, herself, entirely clear on this subject.) I've referred to it elsewhere, but here is David Kelley and his Logical Structure of Objectivism, wherein he writes:

Quote

Although Ayn Rand made it clear that she meant her morality to ensure a rich, fully human life, it is the bare fundamental alternative of survival versus death that stands at the root of all values.

Several admirers of Rand’s approach to ethics have debated the sense in which survival can serve the most basic criterion of ethics. Here we have argued that survival is the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence.

I think this is a mistaken view, I believe it to be widespread (and to inform positions we might not even always be aware of, apart from careful analysis), and I expect that it will probably take decades more for Objectivists to work through this subject completely. (Just as I believe that the mind/body split continues to infect much thought, and etc. Being aware of these sorts of issues does not make us immune from them.)

But never mind that. If you believe "flourishing" possible even under torture and so forth, then you're welcome to continue to argue that point. In That Other Thread, you've attempted to describe an "inherent pleasure" to living, or to acting morally, or etc., which are meant to demonstrate how one may endure torture and yet flourish, and I believe that I've offered salient rebuttal to each approach.

(This is the last/most current post arguing those lines. I see that the forum has erased your name from the quote headers for some reason, so my apologies if you missed that this was written in response to you.)

Quote

I didn't answer you right away because I'm not sure you follow my argument about the spies. I was going to get to it. It doesn't really matter if you can quantify the amount of time involved. Those are utilitarian ways of thinking, and not about principles.

Well, Eiuol, I've been trying to get you to present your views on the spies in terms of principles for some time, writing:

On 12/24/2016 at 8:55 PM, DonAthos said:

I recognize that you give a few "clear conditions" which allow the spy's suicide to be moral -- but are these the only possible conditions which do the trick? Or is there something about the spy's suicide which makes it fundamentally different from others (like Maynard's) which you could state as a principle, so that we could assess for ourselves whether some other rare case also qualifies as moral? For instance, your quoted reasoning that suicide is never morally good is that it is a "rejection of life." Is that not true of the spy? If not, what makes it different in kind?

And actually, I don't think you've yet made the case as to why you consider the spy's suicide moral in terms of principles -- talking only about the particulars of "knowing an execution date" and so forth. (I would suggest that this is why you can think of no other possible application, apart from the very case that MisterSwig provided. You seem unwilling to abstract past those concrete details.)

I still would like to understand what, in your opinion, principally allows the spy's suicide to be moral -- or at least for it to not be a "rejection of life," as you claim every other suicide to be. Why does the spy knowing he is slated to die in the near future (without needing to quantify the time involved) make his suicide moral, but Maynard knowing she is slated to die in the near future (without needing to quantify the time involved) fail to do likewise for her? Are you taking up MisterSwig's argument that there is a "greater good" involved (for the spy and no one else, for some reason)? Or is there something else?

I really don't know what your position is, or why you hold it, or what it portends for any other case (if it does; if the spy case is not somehow utterly unique, which seems... unlikely, if there is any principle underlying it, and if you have not decided to support it ad hoc).

Quote

Generally, 3 months without pain are preferable to 6 months of pain.

[...]

All that matters is in what way you may be able to flourish. All you need to assess is the best way to flourish in the long run.

Okay...

So if, in the process of assessing "the best way to flourish in the long run," you determine that three months without pain are preferable to six months of pain (in the circumstances/context you find yourself in) -- for I suppose that this must be what you mean by "preferable" in the first place, in that it must be "preferable" with respect to flourishing -- then can't we say that the fact of this pain "matters" with respect to your choice, and with respect to "flourishing" more generally? (Because if the pain did not exist, and all else being equal, we would prefer six months of life to three, n'est-ce pas?)

Edited by DonAthos

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21 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Following orders at the direction of a gun is not in itself immoral (the immorality belongs to the man holding the gun)

If someone held a gun to your head and forced you to rape a hundred women, would you be morally in the clear because you were "following orders?" You could argue that raping a hundred women is much different than helping your enemy enslave the masses, but your culpability would only be a matter of degree. It's still immoral, because you are responsible for your own actions, even those done under duress.

[SPOILERS in the following paragraph. Skip to the next paragraph if you haven't seen the latest Star Wars installment.]

Regarding Rogue One, which I thought was a pretty entertaining movie by the way, the situation is a good contrast to Galt's. Both guys are brilliant scientists. Both are captured by the enemy and ordered to do evil things. But Galt's woman escapes, whereas Galen's is murdered. Galen also has a daughter, though, whose escape is uncertain to him. Galt flat-out refuses to help his enemy. While Galen helps enough to stay alive, but secretly conspires to sabotage his own work. In the context of the movie's fantastic plot, Galen comes out a sort of hero. Without his deceptive engineering the rebels would not have been able to blow up the Death Star. Galen's heroic action, however, depends on there being a rebel group capable of enacting his plan. Galt had no rebel group capable of physically challenging the enemy. His plan depended upon convincing people to not help the enemy. To not give the enemy the benefits of his mind. If he then did that very thing under duress, he would betray everything for which he fought so hard.

[End of SPOILERS]

Quote

With such options on the table, would Galt be willing to escape by himself, leaving Dagny to die?

Tough question, but I seriously doubt it. Consider what he tells Dagny before he's about to be captured: "I was the symbol of what you wanted to destroy in the world ... But you were my symbol of what I wanted to achieve ... This is how men expect to feel about their life once or twice, as an exception, in the course of their lifetime. But I--this [pointing at her picture] is what I chose as the constant and normal."

Galt would fight to his last breath to save Dagny. He would never abandon her. Why? Because he wanted Dagny in the worst way possible. He was prepared to die for her. Why was he prepared to die for her? Because she was the woman. She was his ideal woman. He devoted his life to winning her from the clutches of the enemy. To drop that pursuit in the end, to suddenly abandon her to the enemy's murderous will, this would be unimaginably unforgivable. It would be a complete betrayal of his chosen purpose in life. A full rejection of his moral code.

Quote

I especially look forward to the application of this line of reasoning to the examples you'd raised in the other thread, such as the athlete without functioning limbs -- because as yet, I cannot see the logic for myself.

Seeing the logic depends on seeing the context. If you consider life, or the experience of life, as an intrinsic value, then you won't see the context. You have to be able to see why a man's life is objectively his ultimate value. Then you may be able to see the rare cases when it stops being his ultimate value.

Experience itself is not a value. The thing, the object of reality, which you experience via consciousness is the real value. 

In my view, to lift experience to the level of the standard of value is to inject the primacy of consciousness into a moral code. Doing this undermines further development of an objective moral system which is based upon the primacy of existence. (By the way, I believe that the reliance on this conception of experience is also where some Objectivists have gone astray in the realm of introspection.)

Now, to get to the examples, my current understanding is that suicide can be moral if done for a good purpose. We, as Objectivists, believe it should be an objectively good purpose. And to judge that requires rational evaluation of the particulars, which I've already done over the course of two threads.

A man does not have to commit suicide for someone else in order to be moral. It is enough that he has a good purpose for the action. But such purposes usually involve someone else, because good people want their deaths to be good for their most cherished values, which tend to include other people. This is why good people donate organs after their death, bequeath property in their wills, and don't commit suicide by cop. In Maynard's case, her purpose was to save her family from the burden of caring for her and to save herself from an undignified deathbed. In the case of paraplegics, it might be for similar reasons, such as saving someone the burden of having to care for them. But losing a limb is not as debilitating as it used to be, so this is a less likely scenario for a good purpose. More likely is a full quadriplegic wanting to die for this reason, especially if they can't monetarily support themselves through sheer mental productivity. As far as the CTE and PTSD sufferers go, their moral purpose might also be similar to Maynard's. Some also see themselves becoming uncontrollably irrational and a potential threat to loved ones. It's probably good that they kill themselves, before they lose control of their physical actions and harm somebody.

The link between the above examples and the spies and Galt, is that they all have a good purpose for suicide. Of course they would rather not have to die. But given the fact that their lives have been ruined, they choose to die for lives that are not ruined, thus making their deaths meaningful beyond the fact that they are dead.

Edited by MisterSwig

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