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In Objectivism the choice to live is a basic choice on which all other choices depend. However such a premise is puzzling. Life is precondition of any choice, including the choice to live. One may decide not to live, but in order to make such a choice one has to be alive in the first place. Moreover, Objectivism regards choice to live as a precondition of morality. Whoever decided not to continue on living is acting therefore outside of the realm of morality. Thus, unjustified suicide is not bad or good, it's simply amoral. And so any action which is not based on the life as a standard of value.

Any ideas?

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That is clearly not what Rand meant when she discussed the choice to live. Acceptance of man's life as a standard of value is an act of fully realizing the implications of one's choice to live. The

I agree that a standard is something you measure against. And yes, value requires a "to whom" and "for what." I agree that choosing is a natural ability of man and thinking is a natural ability,

The Greeks who became famous as philosophers had a reputation for undermining respect for the gods with their arguments. That is why Socrates was killed, and why Aristotle had to flee Athens for a ti

Leonid,

So, could one conclude that the 'order' is first - life, then - choice to life, then - morality?

Therefore, for a 'justified' suicide, a moral person would have to reverse the process - relinquish morality, choose death, and, death.

Interesting...

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Leonid,

So, could one conclude that the 'order' is first - life, then - choice to life, then - morality?

Therefore, for a 'justified' suicide, a moral person would have to reverse the process - relinquish morality, choose death, and, death.

Interesting...

One doesn't need to choose life, he's already alive. However,one has to choose man's life as standard of value. If he fail to do so then he's not amoral but immoral. Suicide justified only when life becomes its opposite. Instead to be a process of self-preservation and bettering, it becomes a process of destruction, an agony. To end such a process is in fact an act of life's affirmation.

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Objectivism regards choice to live as a precondition of morality.

I think this is where the confusion lies. Youre using two distinct contexts. Objectivism regards the choice to live as pre-rational. While I agree that the choice to live is a necessary prerequisite for morality, it cant be contrasted with suicide as if it was the literal opposite. I consider the choice to live to be implicit in every rational activity.

Choosing to live means pursuing basic day to day values that sustain life, it doesnt mean contemplating "should I live or should I die?". Hence, its pre-rational. Suicide however can be rational in certain contexts, and this all goes back to debate over whether life has intrinsic value. I submit that it does not. If a person is no longer able to pursue value, spiritual, or existential, what value can his life possibly have? The only question is: has he rationally weighed his options?

edit: typo

Edited by JayR
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Doctors know that patients die despite everything being done to help them live. When infants die in that manner, it is called "failure to thrive." The the so-called "choice" to live is actually a meta-choice, the denial of choice, a blanking out, a retreat, the surrender of will.

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Doctors know that patients die despite everything being done to help them live. When infants die in that manner, it is called "failure to thrive." The the so-called "choice" to live is actually a meta-choice, the denial of choice, a blanking out, a retreat, the surrender of will.

Huh? This makes no sense whatsoever that I can tell.

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Literally the expression "choice to live" is a misnomer. One cannot choose to live since for that he has to be already alive. One, however may choose not to continue to live, which is not the same. Such a choice doesn't necessarily mean suicide. It also means that one accepts and practices any morality which is not based on the man's life as the standard of value. Evidently, the actions, based on anti-life's code of values can only lead to death as 2000 years of human history promptly demonstrated. If one acts in accordance with such a morality then he chooses not to continue to live-like suicide bombers for example. Therefore I wonder why Objectivism considers such a choice as pre-moral? Is suicide bomber or any other sacrificial beast who sacrifices himself or others in the name of god, race or common good is not bad or good but simply amoral? It hardly seems to be Ayn Rand's position. Moreover, what does pre-moral choice mean anyway? It only can mean a choice which is not based on any code of values, implicit or explicit. But there is no such a thing. Epileptic fits aside, all human actions are volitional, goal-orientated and therefore presuppose the existence of a value. The action is good if it promotes the achievement of the goal and bad if it not. Even action on whim is based on such an implicit code of values. If one desires X and acts to get it, then X in accordance with one's code of values is good. Therefore, no man's action exists outside of the realm of morality. Morality however depends on the standard of values. Any action which is based on any other standard than man's life, is not amoral but immoral.

Edited by Leonid
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Literally the expression "choice to live" is a misnomer.

The choice to live is in no way a misnomer. Living doesn't just "happen," you have to make it happen. Death does just happen, you don't need to do anything. You can indeed simply do things to end your life, but you are unable to live without making choices towards that end. Choosing to live is pre-moral and even pre-rational because morality requires having made that choice, and rational action can only be evaluated in a context of some ultimate end, which can only be life. There is no problem really with making a choice absent of a code of values, especially since, for example, a code of values can't be identified until a choice to focus. Morality simply cannot be discussed until certain choices have been made. No action can can be outside of moral evaluation, however, that changes somewhat when you make choices that are the exact opposite of which morality depend upon. So suicide specifically I would say is amoral.

The suicide bomber is not immoral for committing suicide, but is immoral for all the other choices involved to reach that point. It's plainly irrational to kill others in the name of god, and many other reasons which I don't need to be stated. In a sense, a suicide bomber maintains their choice to live by desiring to continue their existence, so anti-life choices are not also amoral. But that choice of suicide at that last moment is what's amoral.

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...this all goes back to debate over whether life has intrinsic value. I submit that it does not. If a person is no longer able to pursue value, spiritual, or existential, what value can his life possibly have?

I disagree. A life of endless suffering is better than no life at all. The intrinsic value of life is experience (and consciousness), as opposed to the non-experience of death.

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I disagree. A life of endless suffering is better than no life at all. The intrinsic value of life is experience (and consciousness), as opposed to the non-experience of death.

Better by what standard? "Experience" is not an end in itself. Mans life is the pursuit of values, if a rational adult no longer has means to that end, life qua human being is no longer possible.

Mans life as the standard of value doesnt mean its the source of value, it means its the compass that determines what our values are. Yes, life is what makes values possibe, but life qua being alive isnt a standard by which we determine our values. Granted, the context required for suicide to be rational is extreme, but the fact that a rational person could deem their life no longer worth living is proof that life qua breathing alone is not intrinsiclly valuable.

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Life is metaphysically given. Choice to live shouldn't be taken literally as choice to become alive but as a choice of actions which sustain man's life. This is a choice to value life, to choose life as a standard of value. Valuation is a moral act; therefore such a choice cannot be pre-moral. However Allan Gotthelf, an Objectivist philosopher observed " All moral obligations are grounded in a choice to live...in Rand'd view, a choice to live antecedes the application of morality to a human being..."Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself," but...only so long as it is chosen at all. If it not chosen...he (man) completely outside the moral realm. (The Choice To Value, 1990). Mentally illness aside, no man can choose to shut down and die from inaction. Even suicide requires certain course of actions. But much more importantly, man may choose a standard of value which is not life. If choice to live antecedes morality, then everybody who didn't make this choice, every suicide bomber, every adept of sacrifice, every bloody dictator who kills millions in the name of god or "common good" is outside the realm of morality, cannot be judged or condemned. Even the killing of others by suicide bomber cannot be considered as immoral since the concept of morality is inapplicable to him. I think that this is a very serious contradiction which is a result of wrong premises that choice to value life is pre-moral. As I mention before, there is no such a thing as pre-moral choice. Free Will doesn't operate as a dice. Every choice is driven by the code of values. The choice therefore is not between life and nothing, but always between life as the only objective rational standard of value and some other irrational subjective standards. Such a choice is always moral, since rational choice is good and irrational is evil.

Edited by Leonid
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If choice to live antecedes morality, then everybody who didn't make this choice, every suicide bomber, every adept of sacrifice, every bloody dictator who kills millions in the name of god or "common good" is outside the realm of morality, cannot be judged or condemned.

By suicide, I hope you understand that means the specific action of killing yourself. I don't mean something like drinking oneself to death over decades of alcoholism, I mean specifically choosing to die. A dictator who kills isn't committing suicide, as more than likely they choose to eat and try to live. Even something like that is choosing to live, even if many other actions contradict that. The actual choice to kill oneself is not a matter of morality, of right or wrong, though. You can condemn a suicide bomber as immoral because of the various irrational premises they hold, but I think there isn't much basis to say anything they do is immoral once they do decide to die. That doesn't mean suicide bombers are good for me or anyone else, however, morality is about what it does for your life, if you choose that anyway.

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... and this all goes back to debate over whether life has intrinsic value. I submit that it does not. If a person is no longer able to pursue value, spiritual, or existential, what value can his life possibly have? The only question is: has he rationally weighed his options?

Analyzing the phrase "intrinsic value", I find it to be meaningless, because "intrinsic" implies "given" i.e. "not chosen"; whereas "value" implies an evaluator making an evaluation, i.e., exercising the power of choice, which power is given, but the exercise of it is a choice -- not a given.

That life is "intrinsic" is clear; so, does life have value? Well, if an evaluator judges life to have value, then it has value. Yup, life has value (to me!).

- ico

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By suicide, I hope you understand that means the specific action of killing yourself. I don't mean something like drinking oneself to death over decades of alcoholism, I mean specifically choosing to die. A dictator who kills isn't committing suicide, as more than likely they choose to eat and try to live. Even something like that is choosing to live, even if many other actions contradict that. The actual choice to kill oneself is not a matter of morality, of right or wrong, though. You can condemn a suicide bomber as immoral because of the various irrational premises they hold, but I think there isn't much basis to say anything they do is immoral once they do decide to die. That doesn't mean suicide bombers are good for me or anyone else, however, morality is about what it does for your life, if you choose that anyway.

A dictator who kills doesn't commit suicide, but he doesn't choose life as a standard of value either, his standard is different. He lives, all right, but life for him is not an end in itself, only means to serve his ultimate value-god, communism or whatever you have. He's ready therefore to sacrifice his life and the lives of others for sake of this ultimate value And yet, in accordance to definition of pre-moral choice, he's outside of the realm of morality. This is obvious contradiction.

Edited by Leonid
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A dictator who kills doesn't commit suicide, but he doesn't choose life as a standard of value either, his standard is different.

I'm pointing out that even a dictator that you describe implicitly has chosen to live by the simple fact of eating meals and all that other stuff people need to survive. The choice to live does not mean choosing life as the standard of value; it really does mean choosing to live since living requires self-directed action.

Edited by Eiuol
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Analyzing the phrase "intrinsic value", I find it to be meaningless, because "intrinsic" implies "given" i.e. "not chosen"; whereas "value" implies an evaluator making an evaluation, i.e., exercising the power of choice, which power is given, but the exercise of it is a choice -- not a given.

That life is "intrinsic" is clear; so, does life have value? Well, if an evaluator judges life to have value, then it has value. Yup, life has value (to me!).

- ico

Value to you, sure. But I take "intrinsic value" to mean value without the need to reference any context. Its like saying gold has intrinsic value, ok, that seems to make sense until you meet a man with bars of gold whos dying of thirst in the desert. Now your 16 ounce poland springs is looking intrinsically valuable.

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Value to you, sure. But I take "intrinsic value" to mean value without the need to reference any context. Its like saying gold has intrinsic value, ok, that seems to make sense until you meet a man with bars of gold whos dying of thirst in the desert. Now your 16 ounce poland springs is looking intrinsically valuable.

Ico rationally defined "intrinsic" and "value" and determined the two words created an oxymoron. To say that the words mean something different to you is quite arbitrary and irrational.

Gold is valuable because its rare. You can't just go find it in the streets. You said "intrinsic value" doesn't need context but then you set up a scenario in which you claim a bottle of water is more intrinsically valuable than it otherwise would have been.

A note on the value of life. Without life, there is nothing (for me at least, and that's all that matters).

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Ico rationally defined "intrinsic" and "value" and determined the two words created an oxymoron. To say that the words mean something different to you is quite arbitrary and irrational.

Gold is valuable because its rare. You can't just go find it in the streets. You said "intrinsic value" doesn't need context but then you set up a scenario in which you claim a bottle of water is more intrinsically valuable than it otherwise would have been.

Oh sorry, its not what it means to me, its what it means. To accuse me of being arbitrary and irrational for using words in the way theyre supposed to be used rather than dropping/mixing contexts as to make them fit my argument is irrational.

The point I was making about the water in the above example was to drive home the fact that in order to say anything has intrinsic value you need to drop context. Im not surprised you missed it.

to be clear, I reject intrinsic value all together.

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A dictator who kills doesn't commit suicide, but he doesn't choose life as a standard of value either, his standard is different. He lives, all right, but life for him is not an end in itself, only means to serve his ultimate value-god, communism or whatever you have. He's ready therefore to sacrifice his life and the lives of others for sake of this ultimate value And yet, in accordance to definition of pre-moral choice, he's outside of the realm of morality. This is obvious contradiction.

He's most definitely not outside the realm of morality. Morality applies to any volitional organism that wishes to remain in existence. He's attempting to pursue, among other things, his own life according to a philosophy which is unfit to further his life. He is quite clearly immoral. He may name some other value as higher than his own life, but so long as he wishes to remain alive, his own life is the only ultimate value he can accept without contradiction.

Now, there is a contradiction in using one's own life to end one's life, but the individual who wants to die no longer has any reason to care about contradictions. Eliminating contradictions in thought and action is only important to those who want to remain alive. Your dictator fits this criterion, and yet engages in contradictions anyways.

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I'm pointing out that even a dictator that you describe implicitly has chosen to live by the simple fact of eating meals and all that other stuff people need to survive. The choice to live does not mean choosing life as the standard of value; it really does mean choosing to live since living requires self-directed action.

And that exactly the reason why I object to the wording " choice to live". Nobody choose to live by breathing-this is an automatic process. Eating, drinking and excreting are hardly a result of volitional choice-there are responses to very basic automatic biological drives like hunger and thirst which very difficult to resist. If you consider automatic functions of human body as a choice to live, then you are right-such a choice has nothing to do with morality and volition. Volitional choice to live, however, means acceptance of man's life as standard of value and cannot be pre-moral.

Edited by Leonid
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And that exactly the reason why I object to the wording " choice to live". Nobody choose to live by breathing-this is an automatic process. Eating, drinking and excreting are hardly a result of volitional choice-there are responses to very basic automatic biological drives like hunger and thirst which very difficult to resist. If you consider automatic functions of human body as a choice to live, then you are right-such a choice has nothing to do with morality and volition. Volitional choice to live, however, means acceptance of man's life as standard of value and cannot be pre-moral.

You're bogged down in a semantic argument, and completely missing the point of that phrase in Rand's philosophy. In the real world life is not automatic, it has to be sustained, by choice. Choosing not to sustain it means death.

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Volitional choice to live, however, means acceptance of man's life as standard of value and cannot be pre-moral.

That is clearly not what Rand meant when she discussed the choice to live. Acceptance of man's life as a standard of value is an act of fully realizing the implications of one's choice to live. The original choice, however, only reflects the fact that the individual wishes to remain in existence. It does not say anything about the type of ethics they will adopt. You are simply misunderstanding the argument. No one is saying that a full acceptance of life as a standard of value is pre-moral. The argument is simply that an individual has no reason to care about any ethical code unless he or she at least wishes to remain alive. It is this 'choice to live' which then gives moral import to one's knowledge and decisions.

Any claim to the contrary amounts to a claim that morality has some sort of 'higher' hold on man, that it should be adhered to for the sake of something other than one's own life. This is the stance taken by most religions, Kantianism, etc, that 'duty' or 'God's commands' or some other outside force makes morality binding on us. According to Rand, all of this undermines morality's core purpose as a chosen tool to aid us in living our lives. We first must choose to remain alive before morality can become binding.

Edited by Dante
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