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I would like to analyze a problem from an objectivist point of view: my grandmother has anemia, she needs a blood transfusion to avoid a deterioration of her illness but she refuses this kind of solution because she is a Jehova's witness. Apparently her belief forces her to suffer unneccesary because there are some passages on the Bible that forbid the acceptance of a transfusion because it is contrary to the desires of her god. 

I am sure that her refusal is not rational but based on irrational ideas. Despite of my efforts I cannot convince her that it is a injurious decision (even after showing her how incoherent Jevoha's witnessess are, not just theologically). Since I do not want to see my grandmother suffering, I wish to do something to help her. Her doctors said that blood is the only possible solution, but they cannot force her to use it if she is not insane, she has right to decide. My point is that she cannot choose correctly due to an irrational alienation she has suffered, so I want that the transfusion be performed even perforce (applying anaesthesia e.g).

My ethical doubt comes at this point; Do I have the right to do it?, Can I save my grandmother's life even if I break her creed?. I know that her beliefs are irrational and I know that they can kill her, but I do not know if ethically I have the right to go against her beliefs.

From an objectivist point of view, what would be the correct choice?.

Greetings!  :P

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No. You can try convincing her, but you cannot initiate force.


What is an irrational alienation?

I meant that she experienced a process through her conscience was shaped to another totally contradictory with what a human being should be, i.e; a rational being. 

I do not know if I am being clear enough...

She has to actually be insane, not just wrong.

The problem is that she is risking her own life and her family is suffering the effects of her decision. The collateral damage is not nonexistent but it is boosted day by day. We know exactly how to help her, we have the technology and the money, but we cannot do anything. It is frustrating. That is why I think that it would not be too much reprehensible to evade her beliefs. I know that her freedom must be respected but her error is also being harmful to everyone around her.

Greetings!  :)

Edited by Kyniklos
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You cannot initiate force because she is rational, and is consciously choosing to be irrational. She is not incapable of rationality, she's chosen it.

If you initiate force against her, a being fully capable of being rational, then you surrender the right not to have force used against you.

Explain how her choice risks her family, as you say? Her choice affects her. She's responsible for her, and not for her grown children, or the children of her grown children. Neither are you responsible for her, as being so removes responsibility for herself from her, which you have no right to take.

Edited by Greebo
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... she is risking her own life and her family is suffering the effects of her decision.

... I know that her freedom must be respected but her error is also being harmful to everyone around her.

It is her life. This does not mean you cannot pull out all stops to convince her, with the full impact of everyone's emotion and reason. Still, it is her life, and she should have the final decision if she is not mentally impaired.
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Man's nature is to survive by reason -- acting rationally. Only the individual has the knowledge to determine what choices do indeed constitute proper choices regarding himself for his life. In a moral society, the fundamental ethical concept regarding the relationship of society to the individual is that the individual has the right to live according to his own judgment, as long as he does so by using reason and not initiating forms. (Force is the method of survival of animals like wolves and tigers, but not man. Photosynthesis is the method of survival for plants. Etc.). I can elaborate if you need, e.g. by explaining in more detail how man's nature relates to moral concepts.
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  • 3 months later...

Do you know what, during my times discussing different books, topics and everything, this may actually be a little easy. I do realize how serious this problem is. What you have to do is, poke holes into her theory. Let's see, if he belief forces her not to get the only cure, what you would have to do is, ask her, what the problem is, record it down, WORD FOR WORD on a piece of paper and just read it over and over again until you find some problems. If her belief means she's going to die, you have to stop her. No matter what, you will get her to get the blood. If it does become necessary, you will have to use force. this type of person will seem like they don't want something to happen but, on the inside, will be screaming for help. She really does want the blood, trust me, but she doesn't want to say it. If you go against her, she'll be glad until you finally find a real solution. Perhaps, maybe a little blood instead of a lot or something in between that will help her. Also, because of what you said about her belief, I would think that if they suicide, they wouldn't go to heaven. So, what you would have to do at the 2nd to end problem, would be to say that probably.

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If you force her to receive treatment she does not want, against her will, you are not saving her life - you are destroying it by saying it is no longer hers. She will resent you and anyone who complied with your decision for the rest of her life - not only for doing something to her body against her will, but also for declaring her incapable of making her own choices.

She may hold irrational beliefs, but she has the right to hold them. Forcing her to go against those beliefs destroys her right to her own body and her right to her own mind. Would you want to live with yourself if you took those away from her?

Forcing her to accept a transfusion against her will would put you in the same category as rapists and slave owners. However, as others have pointed out, this is not the same as trying to convince her to change her mind.

Luckyboys, you have no way of knowing what thoughts are inside anyone's head unless they tell you. You could use that rationalization to justify anything - e.g. "she was asking to be raped." I find that disgusting.

Edit: I just realized this thread is several months old, and therefore my post is probably pointless. However, I'll let it stand.

Edited by miseleigh
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