Death is the unavoidable conclusion to our time on this earth and there is much debate on what is ethical when it comes to how it can take place when it doesn’t occur from natural causes. In this essay I will be examining the topic of death as it relates to abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty. I believe that people have a right to make choices about their body and health and that death is a natural part of society and too many obstacles are being set up in an attempt to avoid it. Quality of life is more important than just being alive and a person living with a low quality of life as far as their health is concerned should have the option to die. Life without quality is worse than dying. While some people may take the stance that all life is sacred and should protected even if it is only for the sake of being alive and not for its enjoyment, I believe my stance is important to a societal morality because the world’s population is increasing and the prolonging of all life actually lowers the quality of life for many people. Trying to get rid of things such as abortion, euthanasia, and death penalty allow the world’s population to rise above what can be sustained by its resources and so death shouldn’t be avoided. In situations where the quality of life of a person or of those in a society is threatened, death is the best option for all involved.
In building on my views on death being a better alternative to have a lower quality of life, I believe that abortion is a situation in which the quality of life of both the mother and child should be considered. I believe that if a mother does not have the means to support a child it is an acceptable option to abort the child in order to save it from the low quality of life it would have to bear if it were to be born. Although some people might oppose my view by saying that abortion is murder and is wrong because murder is a cruel act. I disagree because I believe that the fate that some children endure because their families are not capable of providing even the most basic needs of the child is sometimes worse than if they were never born. The mother and family should be able to make the decision that is most beneficial for the child’s potential life.
Euthanasia is another situation in which the quality of a person’s life must be considered before making a decision on whether they should have the option to end their life however more consideration should be given to the physical health of the person looking into euthanasia than the mental or emotional health. I believe a person should have the right to choose when they want to end their life if they are in a position where they feel that life is not worth it. Patients with terminal illnesses or that are in physical agony should be able to go out on their own terms if they feel that is their best option.
CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Data_Stats/. n.d. 25 May 2013.
After reading the chapter on “managing the news” in our book, felt that there would be many good examples of how the news and media is swayed to portray the views of one political party over another’s or show a company in a favorable light or bring attention away from situations that could incite panic, and there are many examples of these things….far too many examples to exhibit in one blog post. These are not things that happen every one in a while, these happen every day, multiple times a day. This is our generation’s “news”. At least on television, there is no more objective source and there is no news anchor that will give you a story without voicing their opinion or the opinion of the companies which finance or own that news station. The news has been completely and thoroughly managed. To the point that I am not entirely sure that I have heard of any news story that had not been swayed to be more favorable to a certain group of people over another. I personally find it difficult to watch mainstream news channels because I have no desire to pick through the fluff news and subjective commentary to find the bare bones of what the original story was. Somewhere between a celebrity arrest and an extremist group’s protest there may be some thirty seconds dedicated to foreign affairs or government dealings but it is not without heavy criticism from one political side or another.
And while smaller news sources such as Huffington Post may do a better job at delivering actual news items, will they ever receive as much or more recognition than large news stations without selling out to sponsors as well?
All I know is that watching a news broadcast nowadays makes my head spin and that is exactly what it is intended to do. An example of politics, corporations, lobbyists or anything else “managing the news”?…I’ll just point you to a television. Because the example is the news, day in and day out. I would urge someone to find an example of news that has not been touched by any influence and I would be very impressed if someone were to find one.
The second reading for this week, “What is wrong with Affirmative Action?” by Shelby Steele, explores the problems that affirmative action creates. He explores the idea that affirmative action is white people’s way of trying to right discrimination that has been inflicted on blacks. However, he believes that this is also somehow offensive because it makes some assumption that blacks are inferior and could not have competed with white students without the help of affirmative action. He also believes that affirmative action does more for whites by making them believe that they are being more fair to black people and in so allowing them to maintain some feeling of “innocence” when it comes to racism.
I felt that this reading spiraled into more of a rant on racism rather than discussing affirmative action. The author bases many of his points on what black people think that white people think of them, which does not seem like a very strong argument since I could not find any studies confirming any race being particularly adept at mind-reading. Also this reading is very specifically focused on African-American students, and fails to look into the effects of affirmative action on any other race or ethnicity. All and all I could understand some of his points but I did not agree with how they were stated.
Requiem for a Dream follows the stories of Sara Goldfarb, her son Harry and his girlfriend Marion Silver through three seasons of a year in New York. In the beginning of the movie Harry is regularly selling his mother’s television set to fund his heroin addiction. Harry and his friend Tyrone come up with a plan to make money selling drugs around Coney Island. They are successful during the summer and Harry and Marion have hopes of opening a fashion store selling Marion’s designs. During this time Sara, who is an avid watcher of infomercials, receives a calls saying she has been chosen to be on television. She becomes fixated on fitting into the red dress she wore to Harry’s graduation so that she can wear it when she goes on television. After struggling with a diet at first, she goes to a doctor who prescribes her amphetamine pills to lose weight.
As fall begins Tyrone gets caught in the middle of a drug gang shooting and is arrested which substantially cuts into the money he and Harry made from selling drugs over the summer. Because of the drug gang war it becomes near impossible to obtain drugs. Sara has become increasingly addicted to the amphetamine pills and is hallucinating that the refrigerator is attacking her and that she is in the infomercials that she watches on television.
In winter begins Harry, Marion and Tyrone have run out of money and drugs. Harry and Tyrone decide to go to Florida to get drugs and Marion exchanges sexual acts for heroin in New York. On the drive to Florida Harry’s arm becomes infected from unsanitary injections and they are forced to take him to a hospital where he and Tyrone are arrested. Sara’s addiction has increased and she takes the subway to the television studio in Manhattan to ask when she will be put on television. The police are called and she is committed to a psychiatric ward in a hospital.
There are a handful of ethical issues in this movie but I’d like to focus on Sara’s need to lose weight at the expense of her health and Marion’s willingness to do anything for the drugs she desires.
Sara starts the amphetamine pills without knowing that they can be harmful and addictive. However, when Harry confronts her about their danger, Sara tells him that the idea of being on television has given her a reason to live and it has given her importance among the other women in the apartment complex. She had been living so long without husband and with a distant and troubled son that she needed to feel like she was achieving something. Even though I have watched this movie several times, I have never understood the significance of the infomercial she watches constantly or her desire to be on that specifically. Even though it is an ethical decision to continue the pills after Harry has warned her about their danger, at a certain point I believe that it was no longer a decision for Sara to keep taking them because she was so far into her psychosis to have any real grip on reality and make a conscious decision to stop or continue the pills.
Marion has several instances where she compromises herself sexually for what she needs. She first is talked into having sex with her psychiatrist for money so that Harry can buy drugs. There is an implication that this is not the first time she has been with this man and has received favors from him before in exchange for sex. Later when she has been without heroin for a few days she decides to go to a man that she knows will only give her drugs in exchange for sex. Despite her saying that she is not an addict, he knows that she will do anything to get her drug fix and takes advantage of that by putting her in a “sex show” for a group of men. It seems like she has long ago devalued herself as far sex goes. It is not something that she is afraid to use to get what she wants however, she has some self-hatred for doing these things.
Polls can be an important and useful source of information however, they can be misleading and the information that comes from them can be easily manipulated.
One way the information in polls can be manipulated is by polling an area or group of people with a known bias that is relevant to the question being asked. An example would be to have asked a neighborhood of whites that are known to be prejudiced if they believed schools should be integrated during the 1960’s. the information gathered from this would not necessarily reflect the views of all people in that city and definitely would not accurately represent the view of the nation as a whole yet many polls taken in this manner claim to represent a majority view that simply is not accurate.
Another way that polls can be skewed is in the way a question is worded. There is a difference between asking “Do you think that smokers are endangering the people around them?” and “What are your views on people who smoke in public?”
Using inflammatory language, loaded questions, technical or slang terms can effect how people interpret the question and therefore how they answer it. The comic above shows an example of polls that probably contained some inflammatory words that swayed the answer.
Those who conduct polls should be sure to ask the most correct question to get the information they are looking for.
The last way in which a poll can misrepresent information is if the size of the population that is surveyed is too small or the group is not relevant to what the poll is about. Asking NFL players if they feel that professional athletes are over-payed will probably not yield a response that represents the views of most Americans.
Chapter 4 of Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric takes a look at a few types of fallacious reasoning, the first of which is the ad hominem argument. An ad hominem is the attacking of one’s opponent rather than the argument they present. A couple examples of these are attacks on irrelevant credentials or guilt by association. Although attacks on character or credentials may be relevant at times, such as when someone who has no prior knowledge in the field they are speaking about, unwarranted attacks are very common. Guilt by association occurs when someone attacks the character or actions of the people someone associates with and puts the guilt of those people on the person in question. The main difference between the straw man fallacy and an ad hominem is that the straw man attacks an argument that the opponent did not make and an ad hominem attacks the opponent directly. The picture above is an example of an ad hominem because when the the goose on the left gives a well thought out statement, the goose on the right attacks him by saying he is stupid because he eats corn and other irrelevant reasons.
Guilt by association along with many other versions of ad hominems is found frequently in political campaigns, debates and discussions. The picture above is a political cartoon depicting Sarah Palin. In it she says that it is reasonable to judge people based on the company they keep however, the cartoon also shows her aligning herself with people that are guilty of the “hatred of America” that she says is wrong. Although there are times such as when someone is associated with gangsters or other criminals where the judgement placed on that person may be accurate, it should not be the only proof of their guilt.
Several things can make an argument fallacious including an appeal to an authority that is irrelevant, inconsistencies in arguments, straw man arguments, attacking a false dilemma, begging the question, using a questionable premise, overlooking evidence, and accepting a token gesture in lieu of an actual action.
The comic above depicts someone using a straw man argument. A straw man fallacy occurs when someone misrepresents their opponent’s position and attacks that position rather than the actual one. In the comic the man attacks his boss’s false belief that certification is a waste of time instead of addressing the question that his boss actually asked which was what he was getting certified for. Even though the man looks completely insane, he accomplishes what he wanted to by using the straw man argument because he has distracted his boss from the fact that he didn’t get any work done that week. Straw man fallacies are often seen in political campaigns, usually to distract the voters from real issues by focusing their attention on something irrelevant but controversial.
The book Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues says there is a need for ethics because of they determine how people approach everyday decisions even if people don’t always realize that ethics are affecting their decision making. Ethics both interact and at times conflict with laws and religion.
The link above is an article written by a professor of ethics at the Graduate Theological Union at Cal Berkeley. In it he argues that there is a middle ground between ethics and religion and that what most accurately depicts this are Aristotle’s “virtues” including prudence, reason, accommodation, compromise, moderation, wisdom, honesty, and truthfulness.