3612

The opening of the paper (CA proposition against eating dog meat) reminded me of a story concerning my brother-in-law,Marc, a grad student in applied linguistics. He was tutoring a newly arrived Chinese mathematician, to help make his English pronunciation more understandable. They were going through the World Almanack comparing imports and exports of China and the US. In the section of US meat imports(so many thousands of tons of beef from Brazil, etc.) the mathematician got to the bottom of the list and said,"But no dog?"Marc, realised he could go beyond English pronunciation aid and talked about dogs as pets and Americans revulsion to dogs as food. And he sounded out his student and found that in China dog meat is considered very hearty and satisfying especially for cold winter nights.

Don Robertson

Well. I am going to make a case against organ transplation, as well as a case against the medical industry as a whole. It won't be a popular stand, but I think it is cogent enough for those who bear with their disagreement with my ethical position to take from it something of value.

There are supposed to be medical ethics. We all have read stories about the many failures of living up to such a standard, and about just how imposssible it is to enforce any of those standards. We all also have loved ones for whom we would likely do just about anything to preserve their lives. But what is it really all about?

The medical industry is a huge profit-driven enterprise. I have nothing against profit, but with the intensification of profit generally comes ever more corruption, and, a willingness to overlook ethics. This is clearly the case in the medical industry. But that isn't my point here. My point is about the ethics of medicine.

We all hold dear the sanctity of life. We're appalled to read when suicide bombers kill scores. Our humanitarian instincts are intact.

Others, for religious reasons oppose abortion basing their objection again upon the sanctity of life.

These are not my arguments, and I merely pull them up from recollection to establish that the concept of sanctity of life has some human-truth validity to it.

I approach the problem differently. I have coined and cite here the moral imperative:

To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it.

It is my assertion that if you cannot abide by the moral imperative, you are immoral.

Any reader here can take exception to the moral imperative, it is however, a cogent view, and one that has the strongest of philosophic arguments behind it.

Most all medicine is immoral by this perspective.

The ethical considerations of medicine are set for as, Do no harm.

This statement of medical ethics is millennia old, and it meant, do no harm to the patient.

Medical ethics however, can be easily expanded to mean, do no harm to either the patient or anyone else, which would seem to be implied by the original statement of medical ethics. I would argue, it is more implicitly implied than medical ethics in practice is applied to any given patient.

It is easy to see and illuminate how the practice of medicine harms everyone else.

The use of antibiotics has undeniably created superbugs that have killed many millions of people. Blood transfusions have made of the collective of human being's circulatory systems a polluted pond of infectious and potentially infectious disease, providing organisms an opportunity to mutate and transform themselves into real threats to every human, again, no doubt already having killed many millions of people.

The medical invention of organ transplantation too has provided infectious disease and potentially infectious diseases an avenue and a niche where they can develop into widespread killers of millions of other humans.

The same is true of stem cell research.

In fact the same is true about just about the entirety of all of modern medicine's treatments.

It is unfortunate for cognitive purposes that the religious community is so vocal in their opposition to medical propositions as their arguments based upon gods ad infinitum carry little weight within the medical community itself, as they are easily defused by empirical logic as fallacy based upon religious belief.

I however, do not approach it from a religious perspective. I approach it from a philosophic perspective. And in order for the medical community to defeat my arguments, they need to defeat the moral imperative I have asserted, again:

To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it.

For medicine to ignore this philosophic moral imperative is not only arrogant and reckless, it is immoral, just like a suicide bomber is immmoral.

If you are a doctor who eases past this challenge, the very sanctity of every human life condemns you as immoral.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers
Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge
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lpax

Your premise is that any action detrimental to another human is immoral? Is there any consideration of the greater good concept? A creation which heals millions for every one harmed (antibiotics, as an example) is still immoral?

Don Robertson

pax-

No. My premise is that anything that endangers the life humans will live be able to live in the future is immoral. In other words, the Utilitarian ideal of the best for the most is obsolete.

What is important is the best for the future.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

Mango

Strange, about dogs being hearty food. I always thought people avoided eating carnivores because their meat is less palatable. Honestly, are there any other cases where humans eat non-herbivores in quantity? (Seafood excepted.)

Gaijin51

This paper contains some interesting ideas. It has occurred to me that another example of this kind of “repugnance” is that people find it more “repugnant” or offensive to lose their job to a foreigner than to a machine. Because logically, it makes no difference.

Technological and economic progress makes it inevitable for certain jobs to become obsolete. People don't like this because they like a comfortable situation that they are used to, and do not want to retrain for a new career. But in reality, every job that is made obsolete, is a sign of economic progress, is it not? Creativity is what creates new wealth, but some people do not want to be creative; they want secure, stable employment.

Many people feel insecure in their job these days, because in fact economic progress is very rapid. Rationally speaking, it should make no difference to a worker why his job has become obsolete, but it does. It is easier to complain about globalization than about technological progress. If you complain about the latter, you are labeled a Luddite. But rationally speaking, anti-globalization people are also Luddites.

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Gaijin51

Don:

Your argument makes no sense at all. Medicine may have some harmful side effects, but antibiotics will also help future generations, not just the present generation. Just as we live better lives today thanks to the achievements of our predecessors, so will future generations live better lives thanks to this generation's efforts to further advance the field of medicine. You cite only the harmful effects of medicine, without considering its benefits, which most people would say far outweigh the harms.

Acrobat

Mr. Robertson

By your definition, you must consider yourself immoral - for by consuming resources, you (both directly and indirectly) deprive others of the ability to consume those resources. The example (admittedly extreme) can be extended in that, by your use of a vehicle, residing in a home that is other than naturally existing, and use of the internet (and other electrically-powered devices), you have contributed to the accumulation of non-degradable pollutants on the planet. This has harmed both humans and non-humans alike.

Do you consider yourself immoral?

Joe

When organ-donor cards were first introduced here in Oregon, I signed right up. Then, several years later, I began to learn the system of allocating donated organs to prospective recipients was one big sleazy and unethical mess.

Do you need an organ? Well, try getting on some waiting list; and then wait; and wait; and wait. Have you a few million dollars? In that case, here's the organ! There's no waiting list for you!

My organ-donor card went right into the bin. Here's the deal henceforth: If any establishment wants me to donate any of my organs, they can pay me top dollar right now; then I'll sign their piece of paper and commence being very careful.

Don Robertson

Gaijin51 writes that I only look at the "harmful side effects", and that we live "better lives today," and "so will future generations" "thanks to this generation's efforts to further advance the field of medicine," and, "considering its benefits, [] most people would say far outweigh the harms."

Gaijin51- By the tenor of your post, even though you haven't specifically endorsed the moral imperative, To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it. and at the same time you want to hold onto the Utilitarian ideal, the best for the most.

Consider both of these ideals.

The two are in conflict with one another. And here's why:

The best for the most implies an overarching importance to lives being lived today, of which both you and I are participants. The moral imperative places us in a category secondary to another category of first importance, lives to be lived in the future. Here you must also consider, our lives were once "lives to be lived in the future".

The Utilitarian ideal succumbs on the morality meter as selfish.

Having established this difference, and our priorities, we must then consider how medicine can affect potential "lives to be lived in the future."

After all, the thrust of medicine is treatment of lives being lived in the present, but, I have already established there is a prioritized difference between the two, present lives and future lives.

There is no doubt the negative biproducts of the practice of medicine have bequeathed to the future some things that are going to give them very serious trouble.

We often hear of the innoculation of American school children against childhood diseases, which is a plus for the present, but, because these diseases mutate in the un-innoculated population of the wider world, they continue to grow ever more virulent, making them an ever greater threat to the lives of the future, what we have already determined to be of prime importance. TB is a good example here, but there are others, measles etc.

In general empirical solutions to medical problems seem to open a Pandora's box of problems. We have tentative solution that gives rise to ever greater problems. Yes, technology has continued to advance, but, whether technology can keep up with the increasing problems the very same technology has given rise to, is the question for which we must determine an answer.

In a great leap of reasoning, I'll assert here our belief in the ability of technology to keep pace with the problems it creates, is an animistic belief at best.

Here's why: To believe technology is somehow guided by a humane and apodictic principle that it will provide solutions to every problem it creates and thus treat future humankind kindly is animism. Technolgy is not a conscious, living, breathing entity that stands over us protecting us.

The potential of technology simply has no humanely benificent guide. Technology can only provide solutions that are possible, not what might be required to make life as good as what we have had for the future, here weighed against the very problems technology creates.

And, to drive home the argument I will assert, we simply have no historical evidence that technology is going to be able to keep pace with the problems it creates. The evidence, look around you.

Now, having phrased the problem, I will grant that our current culture strongly believes there is a technological solution to every problem technology has created. But this is a temporal view, and to inspect the veracity of any such belief, we must be realistic.

If there never was invented anything we call medicine, none of the problems empirical medicine has given us would ever have arisen. Life then in this hypothetical fantasy in the future would at least be neutral in a better or worse off equation.

I will take the equation further with another hypothetical assertion. Many millions around the world have succumbed to superbugs created by the use of antibiotics in the West. None of these people would have died this way had there never been the discovery and invention of antibiotics.

Antibiotics have no doubt saved many lives, but, subject to a probably impossible verification, it could be asserted, more people have died due to the invention of antibiotics than have been saved by their use.

To get to the veracity root of this statement, we must look to the future with this question, i.e., will more people die of superbugs in the future than will be saved by antibiotics? I think you see where this is headed. The answer is eventually going to be, no, whether or not the answer for today's population of the earth is that more people have already been killed by the use of antibiotics than saved.

In the case of organ transplants, the evidence is less well established. But, it seems clear organ and tissue transplantation, as well as blood transfusions offer a new path and niche for pathogens and potential pathogens to develop. We clearly would not pour other people's blood into our open wounds for fear of infection, buth this is what these doctors who perform these procedures are doing. The moral danger is less to those who have these procedures performed than it is to future generations, should some pathogen develop that could not have devceloped any other way.

Acrobat asks, do I consider myself immoral?

Yes, Acrobat. Although, I want to point out on the consumption end of your argument, the moral imperative, i>To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it, also seems to imply that it is possible to leave the world a better place than when you entered it.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers
Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge
The Grand Unifying Theory & The Theory of Time
http://www.geocities.com/donaldwrobertson/index.html
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Gaijin51

Don, I have to say that I think you share some qualities with a namesake of yours: Don Quixote. Criticizing "empiricism" seems truly Quixotic.

I am also reminded of the words of another American Philosopher, and also another Don, Rumsfeld that is, who said that there are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. It is really impossible to forsee or predict all the future consequences of our actions today. I am sure that Mr. Rumsfeld would agree.

I am not convinced that your Moral Imperative trumps everything, but I will concede that we probably should try not to ruin the world, but instead to preserve it as best we can for future generations. Medicine would seem to be the least threatening problem of today. Global warming and proliferating nuclear weapons seem like more likely dangers.

Of course, medicine could help to create an overpopulation problem, because not enough people are dying from illness. There is a law of unforseen consequences. If there are too many mouths to feed in the future, then perhaps what you say will come true.

But, who knows? The world is much too complex, and there are too many unknown unknowns.

So might as well relax and see what happens. Whatever happens, will happen, and I doubt that there is much that you or I could do to have any significant impact on the Big Picture in the future.

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bk

To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it.

As someone else suggested, to simply live AT ALL and to consume any resources while doing so detracts from the lives of subsequent others in any case where a good resource has a finite supply. I don't have any quarrel with trying to leave the world a better place than you found it, but your prescription, in the absolute case you state, seems quite unsupportable.

In particular, I don't see it as putting any dent whatsoever in utilitarianism. Starting from the point of this unsupportable absolute seems like an especially poor choice if your goal is to persuade others of the efficacy of your philosophy, since you're bound to be dismissed right out the gate.

Nice try, though.

Don Robertson

Gaijin51-

I am also reminded of the words of another American Philosopher, and also another Don, Rumsfeld that is, who said that there are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. It is really impossible to forsee or predict all the future consequences of our actions today. I am sure that Mr. Rumsfeld would agree.

Yes. However, what sank Mr. Rumsfeld's ship of state is the same thing that will sink these doctors and every other empiricist, the unknown knowns.

The doctors and scientists advocating, organ annd tissue transplantation, blood transfusions, stem cell research and/or genetic engineering are fully aware of the near apocalyptic dangers in tinkering with the genome and creating a new path and niche for pathogens.

These men and women, and indeed all empiricists are like Alexander the Great, and, those who blew off the first A-bomb at Los Alomos despite the worry by some that the atmosphere would catch fire and detroy the earth... They are willing to risk the end of humanity for all eternity by applying their empirical witchcraft, and, for no other reason than their own vain-glory shot at immortality through their immorality. They rush to these ends to be first! What is the rush?

The world is indeed very complex, but in most cases the experts are expert enough to know very well what it is they're doing, and the dangers however remote are simply immoral to tempt.

bk says, [..] to simply live AT ALL and to consume any resources while doing so detracts from the lives of subsequent others in any case where a good resource has a finite supply.

Let me reiterate, the moral imperative, To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it, also seems to imply that it is possible to leave the world a better place than when we entered it.

Consumption of resources does not depleat the world's content, as they generally may be recycled. No one knowingly throws gold away. Planting fruit or nut trees is perhaps a better example, but there are many other ways to improve the world we're in due to the myriad mistakes of the past.

Something you have touched on however, is very dear to my philosophical pursuit. The question of free will.

We should presume the exercise of the free will of a moral man is moral conduct as prescribed under the moral imperative.

This is however, a very complex world, and it is near infinitely difficult to determine whether or not what we are doing will have the desired effect, the reverse of the butterfly's wing flapping... (Such are the dangers of empiricism as well.)

It is not impossible to exercise free will, however. There is always an infinite choice.

It is not impossible in our world so full of immorality as set forth our free will under the moral imperative.

The moral imperative is less than a year old, and who knows where it will lead us? Perhaps away from barbarism and finally to some real sense of civilization?

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers
Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge
The Grand Unifying Theory & The Theory of Time
http://www.geocities.com/donaldwrobertson/index.html
Art Auctions:
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lpax

Don,
I would like to sidestep the bulk of your argument to make one minor point. The sloppy term "superbug" is generally used in the press to denote a bacteria that is resistant to common antibiotics. They do not have to be, and generally aren't more virulent or dangerous. The problem is that we can't kill them easily. If you believe that antiobiotics should never have been created or used then the presence of bacteria resistant to them is irrelevant. you are no more likely to die of vancomycin resistant staph aureus than vancomycin susceptible s. aureus if you are not goint to be treated for either. I don't think this example supports your premise as much as a casual reading of the popular press would lead you to believe.

Don Robertson

IPAX-

Accepting your assertion, could it also your contention that a wider genetic variety of these pathogens makes them less of a threat?

Or, that the walking incubators for these now common hospital germs that doctors and nurses represent in the general population are also a good thing?

At the same time these pathogens are regularly irradiated and subjected to chemotherapy in pathogen-susceptible cancer patients giving them even more opportunity and even the catalysts to evolve yet again.

Simlarly, where our Utilitarian societies care least for often massive prison populations, is not medicine providing the perfect incubation centers for disease pathogens to flourish, mutate and get released back into the general population as has been the case with TB coming out of Russia, and is now infiltrating our own population, as well as other populations in countries more susceptible than are we?

We must recall from our history, because of their isolation from European diseases, it was disease that killed of most American Indians, all aboriginal Cubans, and all the Tasmanians as well. These threats are very real.

I think the evidence is pretty clear. Not to stray from the topic hear, organ transplant economics, I have tentatively improvised a law about all the empirical sciences, from politics, to medicine, to physics and chemistry.

No matter the problem, no matter the solution, if it's an exclusively empirical solution applied to the real world, the resulting biproducts of the processes of empirical reason will give rise to problems tenfold that of the original problem.(Robertson's law.)

The more you consider Robertson's Law, the more truth it holds. The evidence is all around us. It's a different view of meaning and knowledge in a philosophical sense.

Somone earlier stated I was a Quixotic figure by attempting to dethrone the mantle and mace of human truth from the empiricists, which at this stage of the game I must appear to be.

However, as I stated earlier, the moral imperative is less than a year old.

Again philosophically, the moral imperative To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it, can be derived entirely from the cogito, Descartes' I think, therefore, I am, (what has been perceived as something of a philosophic barrier since it was scribed).

The overarching power of philosophy has long been known. The moral imperative is irrefutable as such, should it stand. I believe it will not out of pride, but out of the sheer beauty of it.

I believe the moral imperative is destined to become the first rung of every step of the empirical process, as well as every other step every step along the way.

It is not empiricism, it is human truth.

The moral imperative rightly demands of all empiricists, who up until this point in our history have declared themselves amoral despite the clearly immoral results of their work, that the empirical processes they employ must accord with the moral imperative of human reason that is only philosophy.

Enjoy, but don't trash the place!

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher

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Dani.Shorel

My sister works in medicine, and she once told me that if you have an organ donor card, and you have and accident, there is a greater possibility that you die and someone gets your organs. If you don't have the card, the possibility of making it alive is better.

I don't know if that's true, but this is surely a good question to try to answer with Freakonomics.

3612

The opening of the paper (CA proposition against eating dog meat) reminded me of a story concerning my brother-in-law,Marc, a grad student in applied linguistics. He was tutoring a newly arrived Chinese mathematician, to help make his English pronunciation more understandable. They were going through the World Almanack comparing imports and exports of China and the US. In the section of US meat imports(so many thousands of tons of beef from Brazil, etc.) the mathematician got to the bottom of the list and said,"But no dog?"Marc, realised he could go beyond English pronunciation aid and talked about dogs as pets and Americans revulsion to dogs as food. And he sounded out his student and found that in China dog meat is considered very hearty and satisfying especially for cold winter nights.

Don Robertson

Well. I am going to make a case against organ transplation, as well as a case against the medical industry as a whole. It won't be a popular stand, but I think it is cogent enough for those who bear with their disagreement with my ethical position to take from it something of value.

There are supposed to be medical ethics. We all have read stories about the many failures of living up to such a standard, and about just how imposssible it is to enforce any of those standards. We all also have loved ones for whom we would likely do just about anything to preserve their lives. But what is it really all about?

The medical industry is a huge profit-driven enterprise. I have nothing against profit, but with the intensification of profit generally comes ever more corruption, and, a willingness to overlook ethics. This is clearly the case in the medical industry. But that isn't my point here. My point is about the ethics of medicine.

We all hold dear the sanctity of life. We're appalled to read when suicide bombers kill scores. Our humanitarian instincts are intact.

Others, for religious reasons oppose abortion basing their objection again upon the sanctity of life.

These are not my arguments, and I merely pull them up from recollection to establish that the concept of sanctity of life has some human-truth validity to it.

I approach the problem differently. I have coined and cite here the moral imperative:

To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it.

It is my assertion that if you cannot abide by the moral imperative, you are immoral.

Any reader here can take exception to the moral imperative, it is however, a cogent view, and one that has the strongest of philosophic arguments behind it.

Most all medicine is immoral by this perspective.

The ethical considerations of medicine are set for as, Do no harm.

This statement of medical ethics is millennia old, and it meant, do no harm to the patient.

Medical ethics however, can be easily expanded to mean, do no harm to either the patient or anyone else, which would seem to be implied by the original statement of medical ethics. I would argue, it is more implicitly implied than medical ethics in practice is applied to any given patient.

It is easy to see and illuminate how the practice of medicine harms everyone else.

The use of antibiotics has undeniably created superbugs that have killed many millions of people. Blood transfusions have made of the collective of human being's circulatory systems a polluted pond of infectious and potentially infectious disease, providing organisms an opportunity to mutate and transform themselves into real threats to every human, again, no doubt already having killed many millions of people.

The medical invention of organ transplantation too has provided infectious disease and potentially infectious diseases an avenue and a niche where they can develop into widespread killers of millions of other humans.

The same is true of stem cell research.

In fact the same is true about just about the entirety of all of modern medicine's treatments.

It is unfortunate for cognitive purposes that the religious community is so vocal in their opposition to medical propositions as their arguments based upon gods ad infinitum carry little weight within the medical community itself, as they are easily defused by empirical logic as fallacy based upon religious belief.

I however, do not approach it from a religious perspective. I approach it from a philosophic perspective. And in order for the medical community to defeat my arguments, they need to defeat the moral imperative I have asserted, again:

To live a life that detracts not at all from the lives others who will come into this world will have available to them to live after we leave it.

For medicine to ignore this philosophic moral imperative is not only arrogant and reckless, it is immoral, just like a suicide bomber is immmoral.

If you are a doctor who eases past this challenge, the very sanctity of every human life condemns you as immoral.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers
Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge
The Grand Unifying Theory & The Theory of Time
http://www.geocities.com/donaldwrobertson/index.html
Art Auctions:
http://www.artbyus.com/auctions.php?a=6&b=4807

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lpax

Your premise is that any action detrimental to another human is immoral? Is there any consideration of the greater good concept? A creation which heals millions for every one harmed (antibiotics, as an example) is still immoral?

Don Robertson

pax-

No. My premise is that anything that endangers the life humans will live be able to live in the future is immoral. In other words, the Utilitarian ideal of the best for the most is obsolete.

What is important is the best for the future.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher