Save Yourself or a Hundred Others

What would you do if?

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ChaosBorders
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Save Yourself or a Hundred Others

Post #1

Post by ChaosBorders »

Medical Treatments in the United States are quite expensive, often running in the thousands of dollars, even for people with insurance. The cost to save a child from dying of Vitamin A deficiency in Africa, however, is roughly $65.

So if you had the choice of saving yourself for $6500, or the choice of saving a hundred children for the same amount, which would you choose?

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McCulloch
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Post #2

Post by McCulloch »

In a hospital waiting room, there are patients, all with the same blood type, who need kidney, heart, liver and lung transplant. By coincidence, a healthy man walks in who is an exact match. Would it be ethical to harvest the organs of the one healthy person to save the lives of the four others?

More interesting than trying to answer such dilemmas, is the research that shows that the answers given by people with various religious beliefs or not are not significantly different. Religion really does not inform our morals or ethics. Who'd a thunk it?
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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ChaosBorders
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Post #3

Post by ChaosBorders »

McCulloch wrote:In a hospital waiting room, there are patients, all with the same blood type, who need kidney, heart, liver and lung transplant. By coincidence, a healthy man walks in who is an exact match. Would it be ethical to harvest the organs of the one healthy person to save the lives of the four others?

More interesting than trying to answer such dilemmas, is the research that shows that the answers given by people with various religious beliefs or not are not significantly different. Religion really does not inform our morals or ethics. Who'd a thunk it?
Maybe so, but this is the ethical dilemma thread. Wouldn't be much of a post if there were no dilemma. In the case you posit there are too many other factors at play because they are forcing the person to give up his organs involuntarily without consideration for outside variables. In my scenario I am more interested in people's personal decisions regarding their own lives and their rationalization of those decisions.

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Re: Save Yourself or a Hundred Others

Post #4

Post by EduChris »

ChaosBorders wrote:...So if you had the choice of saving yourself for $6500, or the choice of saving a hundred children for the same amount, which would you choose?
Why not do both? A person who contributes $100 per month to needy children can ammortize the $6500 he spends (to save himself) over the next 65 months, and then anything he contributes beyond that is pure generosity.

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Post #5

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McCulloch wrote:...Religion really does not inform our morals or ethics. Who'd a thunk it?
Book recommendation: Who Really Cares

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Post #6

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McCulloch wrote: Religion really does not inform our morals or ethics. Who'd a thunk it?
The question remains. Do people who participate in religions become more ethical by doing so? Or is it that people who are ethical tend to participate in religions more, believing that is what they should do?
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Re: Save Yourself or a Hundred Others

Post #7

Post by McCulloch »

EduChris wrote: Why not do both? A person who contributes $100 per month to needy children can amortize the $6500 he spends (to save himself) over the next 65 months, and then anything he contributes beyond that is pure generosity.
Because that is not within the framework of the question. The basic question is whether you would sacrifice yourself for the sake of one hundred others. The answer, for those of us who are alive in affluent countries is no, we would not. Otherwise, we would have already done so.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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ChaosBorders
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Re: Save Yourself or a Hundred Others

Post #8

Post by ChaosBorders »

McCulloch wrote:
EduChris wrote: Why not do both? A person who contributes $100 per month to needy children can amortize the $6500 he spends (to save himself) over the next 65 months, and then anything he contributes beyond that is pure generosity.
Because that is not within the framework of the question. The basic question is whether you would sacrifice yourself for the sake of one hundred others. The answer, for those of us who are alive in affluent countries is no, we would not. Otherwise, we would have already done so.
I think the response is a decent one though, if I am reading it correctly. If one dies, their earning power is gone. If their earning power is sufficient, then surviving can allow them to do far greater good in the long run than merely sacrificing themselves in the short run. Generally this is the reasoning I apply to myself when spending to stay in good health. I try to help people now, but I realize I could help far more than I do. However, I am quite young and if don't screw things up I'll be able to help a hundred times as many people in the long run as I would be able to if I spent all my financial reserves trying to now.

This reasoning breaks down though if you no longer earn any money or the operation is only expected to add a very short time to your life. What factors do you weigh then, if you are not able to do both?

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Re: Save Yourself or a Hundred Others

Post #9

Post by EduChris »

ChaosBorders wrote:...This reasoning breaks down though if you no longer earn any money or the operation is only expected to add a very short time to your life. What factors do you weigh then, if you are not able to do both?
What you are asking is whether we ought to perform acts of supererogation. Many variables would have to be taken into account, such as what do your loved ones think, and would your aid really be helping the children or just prolonging their suffering.

Christians throughout history have performed acts of supererogation, and I find their example inspiring. However, I don't believe that the Christian faith requires us to value lives numerically; each life is a precious gift from God and no life can be reduced to mere quantitative analysis.

It is the responsibility of Christians to make sacrifices for the sake of others, and many of us don't even do that much. Maybe instead of debating about acts of supererogation, we ought to simply work harder on making sure the basics are taken care of.

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Post #10

Post by EduChris »

McCulloch wrote:...Do people who participate in religions become more ethical by doing so?...
With time and effort and practice, yes--assuming their religious tradition actually fosters ethical and altruistic behavior (not all religious traditions do so). There is power in numbers, there is encouragement and support within community.

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