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Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
I suppose that, depending on the scope you are looking at, patriotism is *by definition* an ethical good, so a better framing of the question might be "Is patriotism a moral good, and should it be considered an ethical good?" At present, I am unable to formulate a sound argument that patriotism is a moral good. Is there anyone here who can?
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
Adam, can you please provide a clear definition of ethics versus morality?

My strong suspicion is that patriotism cannot possibly be a moral good unless the entity one feels patriotic towards is itself moral, on the balance.

But I would be interested in understanding how ethics differ from morality in order to better understand why patriotism might always be an ethical response.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
It also depends on how you define patriotism. The way I see it, patriotism is a moral good the same way as honoring/loving your parents is a moral good.

Patriotism is not a good thing when it makes you blind to the faults of your country. But it is a good thing when it makes you appreciate the good points of your country, and when it makes you work to change the faults of your country in order to make your country the best it can be.

I'd disagree with jasonr that patriotism can only be a moral good if the country you're patriotic towards is moral. You can love your country and think that it has betrayed its best self and become evil. In this case loving it means you want it to become good again.

Patriotism doesn't mean you stand behind your country whether it's right or wrong.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
I agree with Carlotta but would add that patriotism is not a moral good if it makes you value your countrymen over others.
 
Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
Jason, for these purposes, I guess I don't need a distinction. I was referring to the idea that morality was personal, and ethics were social, but my 5 minute web research hasn't yielded any consensus on the distinction between ethics and morality. And I'm not trying to be that precise anyway; just asking if patriotism is good in and of itself.

Carlotta, I can see that being sound, but right now it sounds tautological: patriotism is good because we define it to be only the good aspects of nationalism or devotion for country. What positive definition would you supply for "patriotism" that makes it good in and of itself?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
Adam, I am not sure how your question makes sense. Patriotism is a feeling, an emotion. Like most feelings or emotions it can be good or bad depending on the actions it inspires.
 
Posted by jasonr (Member # 969) on :
 
quote:
I'd disagree with jasonr that patriotism can only be a moral good if the country you're patriotic towards is moral. You can love your country and think that it has betrayed its best self and become evil. In this case loving it means you want it to become good again.

Patriotism doesn't mean you stand behind your country whether it's right or wrong.

Doesn't this definition essentially render the word meaningless? I mean honestly, apart from an outright traitor or fifth columnist, who would ever not qualify as being patriotic under this definition? A country's "best self" is almost invariably whatever policy or ideology a given individual wishes to promote. Patriotism becomes little more than a mirror for one to gaze into with admiration.

To me patriotism must be toward the country as it actually is, warts and all, not towards some mythic "true self".

quote:
Jason, for these purposes, I guess I don't need a distinction. I was referring to the idea that morality was personal, and ethics were social, but my 5 minute web research hasn't yielded any consensus on the distinction between ethics and morality. And I'm not trying to be that precise anyway; just asking if patriotism is good in and of itself.
I only asked because it seemed like you were saying that patriotism could be seen as universally ethical, but not necessarily moral. If we can't precisely define ethics versus morality, how can we come to such a categorical statement?
 
Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
quote:
The way I see it, patriotism is a moral good the same way as honoring/loving your parents is a moral good.
But honoring/loving your parents isn't a moral good in and of itself either. Honoring and loving *people* is, and showing special gratitutde towards parents could be as well, in situations where it is appropriate. I would not expect children of extreme abuse to honor and love their abusers beyond that of the least of their brethren.

Also, if the object of devotion possesses virtue, isn't it better to love and honor the virtue itself? Should you love America because it stands for freedom, or simply love freedom?
 
Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
quote:
I only asked because it seemed like you were saying that patriotism could be seen as universally ethical, but not necessarily moral. If we can't precisely define ethics versus morality, how can we come to such a categorical statement?
Ah. I was just anticipating the argument that, since "ethical" meant "good from the civic/social point of view", then patriotism was inherently ethical. I was just saying "if that is your view, then 'is patriotism moral as well?'"
 
Posted by Pyrtolin (Member # 2638) on :
 
quote:
But honoring/loving your parents isn't a moral good in and of itself either. Honoring and loving *people* is, and showing special gratitutde towards parents could be as well, in situations where it is appropriate. I would not expect children of extreme abuse to honor and love their abusers beyond that of the least of their brethren.
You're mistaking trying to match it to your own moral sense with being a moral value in general. More, I'd say that, by trying to account for the situation, you're looking at it as an ethical value (is it right or wrong to do this?) rather than a moral value (is it good or evil to do this?)

I really don't think patriotism, in the abstract, is either absolutely moral or ethical, because it's about a person's relationship with a concept. It can be more if dictated as such by a moral value system, but that's specific to the moral belief, not universal. Ethics are only really meaningful in terms of animal/sentient interactions, so it only has ethical value in as much as it defines interactions with the people of the country, but the ethical value comes from how it guides those relationships and avoids or causes harm to the people in question.
 
Posted by Viking_Longship (Member # 3358) on :
 
Is love a moral good?
 
Posted by TommySama (Member # 2780) on :
 
An individual's patriotism is amoral. It only becomes evil, like so many things do, when it is used to manipulate people's emotions. Like in this commercial, or this quote:
quote:
Why, of course, the people don’t want war.... Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his ...farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship....

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

I doubt anybody will be surprised that I think patriotism is usually used immorally. Its a personal feeling that is only invoked to manipulate. My "patriotism" might be to a feeling that freedom is the best thing ever, and that 'America' is the best example of freedom. Or my patriotism could indicate my feeling that the State reigns supreme and is the final arbiter of moral and legal authority, and so it ultimately decides what happens. Or some combination. But some ******* politician can still use the word to mean both of these things and many other definitions to sell a war, his campaign, or cars and vibrators. We can do better.

[ January 05, 2011, 05:04 PM: Message edited by: TommySama ]
 
Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
quote:
You're mistaking trying to match it to your own moral sense with being a moral value in general.
No, I'm just asking for an argument in which it can be shown to be a moral good. Is it moral in *anyone's* moral system?

quote:
More, I'd say that, by trying to account for the situation, you're looking at it as an ethical value (is it right or wrong to do this?) rather than a moral value (is it good or evil to do this?)
I'm not seeing a difference here. Right/wrong and good/evil are synonyms unless you specify a meaningful distinction.
 
Posted by KidTokyo (Member # 6601) on :
 
The moral person loves what is good and hates what is evil, regardless of where the good or the evil is found, because good and evil are transcendent properties.

If a country behaved in a way that was fully good, the moral person would have no need to resort to patriotism -- his own morality would supply full loyalty to his country.

Patriotism exists and is appealed to specifically because there is always a gap between what is good and moral and what a country actually does. Its very purpose is to foster loyalty without the prerequisite of morality.

Ergo, patriotism is not a moral good, because it subjugates the moral faculty to loyalty.

That's my two-minute Artistotle on the subject.
 
Posted by Daruma28 (Member # 1388) on :
 
Well, Kid, let me just say with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, that you've been sounding quite patriotic lately...

...about Japan.

[LOL]

I used to think I was Patriotic. I now understand that Patriotism is the means for politicians to herd we the sheeple into a desired direction and support there objectives without question.

I would be patriotic to a country that deserved patriotism.

In my book, America Inc. doesn't.

[Frown]
 
Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
The moral person loves what is good and hates what is evil, regardless of where the good or the evil is found, because good and evil are transcendent properties.

If a country behaved in a way that was fully good, the moral person would have no need to resort to patriotism -- his own morality would supply full loyalty to his country.

Patriotism exists and is appealed to specifically because there is always a gap between what is good and moral and what a country actually does. Its very purpose is to foster loyalty without the prerequisite of morality.

Ergo, patriotism is not a moral good, because it subjugates the moral faculty to loyalty.

That's my two-minute Artistotle on the subject.

That's essentially the way I see it; it seems self evident. The question was prompted, btw, by the fact that the school I teach at is promoting Patriotism as this month's theme value (previous months used honesty, generosity, etc.) I couldn't think of a reason why patriotism would be considered a value in and of itself, so I posed the question to y'all.
 
Posted by DonaldD (Member # 1052) on :
 
Hmm... Public education is a subset if the state's apparatus. It is definitely in the interest of 'the state' to inculcate patriotism in its subjects, so it's even consistent that such a 'theme' be promoted in a school (I doubt it's coincidental that most schools also have a vested interest in using emotional tools to control the student population - which is not a priori a bad thing). It's also kinda ironic that if you oppose this policy you will likely be branded as unpatriotic by the white blood cells of the state.
 
Posted by TheRallanator (Member # 6624) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
And I'm not trying to be that precise anyway; just asking if patriotism is good in and of itself.

In that case: No.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
What a good opportunity to explore with your students both the good and wrong uses to which patriotism can be put.
 
Posted by Aris Katsaris (Member # 888) on :
 
If you offer a definition for patriotism, the answer becomes self-evident.

If the definition means "supporting your country's causes" then patriotism's morality depends on the country's morality.

If the definition is "striving for the good of one's country" then your patriotism is morally good, the same way that all forms of altruism are morally good.

If the definition is "obedience to one's country, no matter what" then patriotism is morally evil.

[ January 06, 2011, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: Aris Katsaris ]
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
quote:
If the definition is "striving for the good of one's country" then your patriotism is morally good, the same way that all forms of altruism are morally good.


I'd like to expand on this a bit and hopefully answer some of the challenges thrown at my earlier definition. To strive for the good of one's country is a form of altruism, but I think it's more specific than that. I would say it is something along the lines of a natural virtue. A patriotic person doesn't stive for the good of his country to the same extent or with the same fervor that he strives for the good of every country. It's okay to be more invested in the good of your own country than in someone else's, just like it's okay to love and care for your own parents more than someone else's. I'm not saying that it's ever okay to hurt another country or someone else's parents in order to help your own, but that it's perfectly human and perfectly fine in and of itself to be more invested in your own than in the other.
 
Posted by Mariner (Member # 1618) on :
 
Obviously, it depends on what your definition of patriotism is. I'm not too surprised to see people defining it the way they do and declaring it moral, immoral, or amoral based on that. It appears my way of thinking is different than everyone else's. To me, patriotism most definitely falls on the moral side.

It appears people are equating patriotism with pride in/love of one's country, which of course it is. But it appears that to most of you that pride is a superficial, shallow pride, equivalent to essentially approval of one's country. And to others, it is simply a tool to cynically guilt people into doing what they don't want to do. Given those definitions, certainly the conclusion that patriotism's morality is "it depends" or "immoral."

However, shouldn't that pride/love be deeper than mere approval/satisfaction? I see patriotism as something more than that, as a willingness to commit to a community. It is essentially a selfless act to consider the needs of others as well as the needs of yourself. And selfless acts are generally moral.

Ask yourself this: why do you vote for the people that you do? Is it because they bring home the most pork? Is it because it benefits you the most? Or is because you think their term in office will be better for America as a whole than the other guy?

If it's the last one, is that a selfless act? Especially if the other guy would benefit you more? And if it is selfless, why are you doing it? For the benefit of the community? Isn't that essentially "love of country"?

If you were to run for office, why would you do it? For the challenge? For the interesting problems you can solve? For the sweet, sweet corruption? Because you know better than everyone else how things should work? Or because you care about the community and wish to put effort into making it better?

All but the last one is a selfish reasons. Some of those selfish reasons are amoral, some could even be good. But it's all based on what you want and what you think. The last one is selfless. And it is also patriotic.

If an invading army was threatening you, which group of people would you want protecting you? Those that are in it for the money? Those that want fame and glory as a hero? Those that love killing? Or those that care enough about you to not want to see you hurt? Again, it is selfish vs selfless, and the selfless one is equivalent to patriotism.

It isn't just approval of one's country. Any honest assessment of any country would acknowledge that there's a lot of bad things about it. It isn't just a general selflessness either. There are other ways of being selfless and caring about others, because there are other ways of doing that as well. It's a fusion of the two.

Kmboots said that patriotism is no longer moral if it means you value your countrymen more than others. I vehemently disagree with that. When you start trying to value everyone equally, then you only consider people in the abstract, and thus don't value people at all. It is human nature that when you are participating in a group, you will value that group more than others. That doesn't mean you shouldn't value other groups, of course, but it does mean that you care more for some people.

Kmboots, an improbable scenario for you: Suppose you are in a building that's about to collapse with a dozen other people. 11 of them are strangers, the other is your parent/spouse/sibling/child/etc. You have time to grab one person and hustle them out, but you can't save the other 11. So who do you grab? Obviously it will be your family member. Obviously you value your family member more than the strangers. Does that mean that familial love is immoral? Obviously not.

And why do you value your family member? Because you share a bond with him/her. And that bond is a selfless act of love. By participating in your family, you gain a connection with them, and you perform actions outside of your selfish best interest because it is good for that person or good for the family unit as a whole. That is undoubtedly a moral act, even though it necessarily changes the way you value said person over others.

Hence why I said that if you value everyone equally, you value nobody. The only way that happens is if you have no connections with people, groups, or communities. And this lack of connection generally involves a selfishness towards oneself, and an inability to love others. There are no roots to one's value other than an abstract.

So essentially, my argument is that patriotism involves a connection with and willingness to participate in the community that is a nation-state. Connecting with communities/groups and willingness to put the needs of that group above your own is an inherently selfless act. And selfless acts are, generally, moral. Now, obviously those acts themselves would need to be moral as well. One can participate in a street gang, and one would hardly call pride in/love of one's gang a moral act. But as long as the driving force behind the group is not evil, is it immoral? I'd say not.

Adam implies that a child of abusive parents should have no love of their family, or at least not above any other love. Is this so? Obviously, a person in an abusive situation must look after themselves as well, regardless of commitment to a group. But is it wrong of that child to want to help his/her parents out later in life? What if it wasn't abuse, but just a crummy upbringing? Should one still honor one's parents?

I recall when Knight Ender was here, he would occasionally tell of problems he had with his father and cousins (IIRC). Clearly it was not the best of families, and his family was not the best of people. Yet KE also would go to great lengths to help them out. And he did it because they were family. Was that not moral?

One final thought. To all you parents out there, are you proud of your children? You know they aren't always good kids, and you know they aren't always the best at what they do. But you're proud of them anyway, right?

What do you mean by that? What does it mean to be proud of them?

And for those that can understand that emotion (admittedly, not being a parent, I don't understand it entirely), is it not moral to be proud of them? And is it that far of a stretch to equate that to one's nation?
 
Posted by Mariner (Member # 1618) on :
 
Huh, I see that Carlotta's last post is fairly similar to mine, albeit a lot shorter. Basically, like Carlotta said, it is perfectly natural to be more altruistically committed to one group than another. And that is because one is participating with that group. And participation within a community is, IMO, inherently moral (assuming the group isn't clearly immoral). Thus, patriotism itself is moral for two reasons: altruitism (moral) and being a participating member of a community (moral).
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
Mariner, you said it better than I could have. Building on what you said, I'd say that as humans we move from the specific to the general all the time. Thus a specific love of family can expand to a more general love of community and then further to a love of all mankind. It is moral and praiseworthy to love (want the good of) all mankind, but (a) doing so does not negate the love and bond we have with our communities or our families and (b) it's arrogance to try to skip over the more specific loves in order to get to the more general love.

I think it was either CS Lewis or GK Chesterton who pointed out the danger in trying to skip the specific for the general. He said that it's easy to love the (insert nationality) across the world while despising your neighbor, because the neighbor is the one who actually annoys you.
 
Posted by DonaldD (Member # 1052) on :
 
Committing oneself to a community is not selfless unless you expect to receive no benefit from that community; heck, possibly not unless you actively reject any benefit from the community.

But the very document that defines what your country is and is not at a very basic level explains very clearly how your country is designed to benefit you. On a more pedestrian level, building any community accrues benefits to its members which is probably why all communities create themselves in the first place. And the more local the community the more immediate the benefits to the members.

Not to say that sacrifice for the community is bad, but let's not pretend that most of what passes for patriotism is altruistic.
 
Posted by Adam Masterman (Member # 1142) on :
 
@Carlotta

I can see the wisdom is that observation (not skipping the specific for the general), but I'm reminded of the verse:

"If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much."

Couldn't we say that mere patriotism is being described here as unworthy of reward (praise)?
 
Posted by RickyB (Member # 1464) on :
 
Patriotism can be a moral good if defined as a (moderate) pride in one's group of reference and a commitment to its betterment and defense from threats (real ones, not imagined or overblown for the purpose of satisfying the deep need for an enemy to fight). Those are healthy things. It's not some great sacrifice or moral effort, because it doesn't require anything against self interest, but it's a healthy thing when, like all good things, done in moderation.

</mytwocents>
 
Posted by RickyB (Member # 1464) on :
 
"I think it was either CS Lewis or GK Chesterton who pointed out the danger in trying to skip the specific for the general. He said that it's easy to love the (insert nationality) across the world while despising your neighbor, because the neighbor is the one who actually annoys you. "

Very true, and sounds like Chesterton. Smart cookie, he was. Did the Catholics proud. [Smile]
 
Posted by Athelstan (Member # 2566) on :
 
I would say patriotism is neither good nor bad. It depends on what it is referring to. Take the case of Captain Richard Lippincott and Nathan Hale; both were American born and patriotic in the 18th century manner to their State. In my opinion how you judge these men today, in America, depends entirely on which side won.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
Adam, I could almost agree with you and so in this discussion I'll give you that. Patriotism is not so much worthy as praise. But its absence is still worthy of criticism. Yes, it's natural to love those who love you and we're called to more - but to not EVEN love those who love you, that is a defect.

RickyB, I'm simultaneously reading several Chesterton books right now and loving them. If you have an ereader they are all on the public domain. I got mine from Amazon's Kindle public domain section, and though I think that only works in the US I'm sure it's available elsewhere too. The guy is both hilarious and insightful.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
Mariner, I don't have any trouble with communities. I do have a problem with communities or contributing to those communities. I do have a problem with the idea that people in "my" community are more valuable than those in other communities. This is especially pernicious when those communities are defines by nationality - particularly because, until recently and "locally" nations have been tied to ethnicity. This is what leads to things like slavery or invading Poland or deciding that Iraqi casualties aren't worth bothering to count.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
Sorry. That second sentence in the above post needed some editing. It should have read, "I don't have any problem with contributing to those communities."
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
kmb, agreed that we can't say that certain groups of people are *inherently* worth more than others. But there's nothing wrong with saying certain groups of people are worth more *to me*, right? We do this all the time with our own families - buying our kids things that we think will be good for them even though other people's kids may not have these things. I'll pay for my own kids' school supplies and medical care before I pay for someone else's. I don't think my kids are inherently more valuable as human beings, but they do matter more to ME.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
I think that it is natural and human to do that, but I don't think it is a good thing. The more we care about other children as we do our own, the better we will be. Can you imagine? Talk about the Kingdom of God! I think, too, that for those of us who are Christian, that is a central message of the Gospel if not the central message.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
It reminds me of the two ways to fail at "love your neighbor as yourself" though. One is by not loving your neighbor, but one is by not loving yourself. I've seen people in this thread give examples of what I'd call false patriotism, and people making arguments that patriotism is not enough, but the point I'm making is that just because it's not "enough", not the be-all and end-all of morality, doesn't mean it has no value. The highest cannot stand without the lowest.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 6161) on :
 
Again, it depends on how you are defining patriotism.If it helps you value your community is is a good thing; if it encourages you to value your community over other people, it is not.
 
Posted by JWatts (Member # 6523) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Carlotta:
kmb, agreed that we can't say that certain groups of people are *inherently* worth more than others.

I disagree with that statement, we can (and I would) say that certain groups of people are "inherently" worth more than others. In point of fact it's a common societal attitude.

The most obvious example is children and to a lessor degree women. Hence the sentiment of "women and children first".
 
Posted by Jordan (Member # 2159) on :
 
I've enjoyed reading this thread so much that I am scared of spoiling it by participating. [Smile]
 
Posted by RickyB (Member # 1464) on :
 
Carlotta - I love Chesterton cause he's my kind of guy - despite the fact that he's, well, your kind of guy, that is a practicing, believing Catholic (which I as you well know am so not, on so many levels). But he's a fighter, packs a hell of a punch, has a wicked sense of humor, is brilliant as any writer one can name, and deep down is a helluva decent guy. Which kinda means that all these distinctions don't really mean as much, in the end. [Smile]

JWatts - what is this "inherently" of which you speak? I do not think it means what you seem to imply it does.

Ed to add: Now that I've seen your "Women and Children first" thing - the women part is outdated in our society, where women participate fully in the "affairs of men" and are equally responsible for their choices, and being a child is not "inherent". It is a phase with an expiration date. Children are not "worth more" because they are "better" but because they are not culpable, or not deemed to be so by civilized people.

[ January 07, 2011, 06:31 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]
 
Posted by JWatts (Member # 6523) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Ed to add: Now that I've seen your "Women and Children first" thing - the women part is outdated in our society, where women participate fully in the "affairs of men" and are equally responsible for their choices,

Perhaps, does that mean you are going to object if someone says women first on the lifeboat?

I'm not saying it would make you necessarily a bad person. I am saying if it's my wife versus you, she goes and you stay; and if it's your wife versus me, I'll suck it up and let her ahead of me in line. I wouldn't let you ahead of me in line.

quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
and being a child is not "inherent". It is a phase with an expiration date.

Ok, what particular trait is so inherent that it can never be changed? Assuming, sex changes, immigration, plastic surgery etc. I see your point, but for practical purposes children are inherently different than adults. We treat them differently, specifically due to their being children.


quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Children are not "worth more" because they are "better" but because they are not culpable, or not deemed to be so by civilized people.

If a ship is sinking, most of the people trying to board the lifeboats aren't culpable. But we, as a society value children more than adults. Nearly all adults would, given a choice and assuming no other extrinsic factors choose to save a child's life over an adult's life.

Thus children are inherently more valuable than adults.
 
Posted by RickyB (Member # 1464) on :
 
"Perhaps, does that mean you are going to object if someone says women first on the lifeboat? "

I'm personally a pretty chivalrous guy. But your wife ahead of my unconscious brother (so he can't decide for himself)? I don't know. And to add: Ahead of my unconscious adult son? No. Hell no.

"But we, as a society value children more than adults. "

It's a biological thing. We've already reproduced. We need to ensure they do too.

"Ok, what particular trait is so inherent that it can never be changed?

Is the point. Nothing is. You choose what you are at any given point, and can change what you are. Fictional case in point: Darth Vader at the end of "Return" (episode 6). He spent the entire war being evil, but at that point chose to be good.

[ January 07, 2011, 08:05 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]
 
Posted by Jordan (Member # 2159) on :
 
quote:
JWatts:
[D]oes that mean you are going to object if someone says women first on the lifeboat?

I'm not saying it would make you necessarily a bad person. I am saying if it's my wife versus you, she goes and you stay; and if it's your wife versus me, I'll suck it up and let her ahead of me in line. I wouldn't let you ahead of me in line.

That's very different from me. [Smile] I have no idea how I'd behave in a situation like that, but without more information I wouldn't distinguish between either you or your wife. Given the choice, I would prefer for my boyfriend to get on before either of you. I like to think I'd let both of you on ahead of me, but I have no idea how far my courage would stretch.

My main concern, if organising lifeboats were up to me, would be with getting children, pregnant women and weak swimmers on first. I suppose women are, on average, likely to be weaker swimmers, but I'd put a man who couldn't swim on before a non-pregnant woman who could in a heartbeat.

I honestly do not, and never have, empathised with or even really understood the motivation for letting women go first. Though I understand that some people do consider it important, no matter how hard I strain I just cannot appreciate why. Perhaps my female-dominated upbringing has some bearing on this? (For most of my formative years, my immediate family consisted of a single mother, separated grandmother, widowed great-grandmother and two sisters.)
 
Posted by JWatts (Member # 6523) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jordan:
My main concern, if organising lifeboats were up to me, would be with getting children, pregnant women and weak swimmers on first. I suppose women are, on average, likely to be weaker swimmers, but I'd put a man who couldn't swim on before a non-pregnant woman who could in a heartbeat.

What would be your priority if there was no chance of survival for those left behind? Assume the boat is sinking in frigid waters and the ability to swim was irrelevant.

If you still would want to ensure that children go first, then we agree that children are inherently more valuable that adults (all things being equal).
 
Posted by Jordan (Member # 2159) on :
 
quote:
JWatts:
What would be your priority if there was no chance of survival for those left behind? Assume the boat is sinking in frigid waters and the ability to swim was irrelevant.

If you still would want to ensure that children go first, then we agree that children are inherently more valuable that adults (all things being equal).

We're agreed on the children. [Smile] I would prefer to say that they have a lot more life to live than that they're "more valuable"; in terms of years-of-human-life saved, more are saved by rescuing a child than an adult.

If the probability of survival were essentially nil, I'd prefer to run with that reasoning and go in order of age: if you're fifty, you've had more chance to live your life than someone who's twenty, so it seems like a worse exchange for them to give up another sixty years so you can have another thirty.
 
Posted by Carlotta (Member # 3117) on :
 
I think I'd agree with that reasoning, with the exception that if the 50 year old's death would cause a lot more pain for his family than the 30 year old's... say the 50 year old's family had just lost two other family members that year but the 30 year old was single and had no family.

At this point we're not saying that one life is more valuable than another but just trying to minimize the aggregate suffering.
 
Posted by RickyB (Member # 1464) on :
 
Yes, children, agreed. I think we weren't really talking about that when the notion of "some people more worthy than others" was first raised, so your technical correction is accepted on children, not nearly as much on women. But other than that?
 


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