What is X?

Kantian ethics as it applies to humans:
(1) All humans have intrinsic value.
(2) All those who have intrinsic value have it equally.
(3) All and only those which have some relevant property, X, have intrinsic value.
(4) Any property, Y, which is not common to all humans is not X. (1, 3)

Jeff G

What is X?

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22 Responses to “What is X?”


  1. 1 ギャビン March 7, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Excuse my n00blyness, but I just can’t put 1 and 3 together. One states unequivocally that all humans have intrinsic value, then three appears to create a subset of of that group that includes all members of the group. Huh?

  2. 2 ギャビン March 8, 2007 at 12:00 am

    (continued)
    In order to create a subset of the group “all humans” three attempts to exclude any humans who do not have property X which is in direct contradiction of rule one which doesn’t allow for exclusions.

    The only way to rectify the problem is to make X = Human, but doing so turns the entire exercise into a pointless word game.

  3. 3 Will March 8, 2007 at 5:47 am

    Yeah, the question is what aspect of humans makes them such they have intrinsic value. X is the thing that results in something having intrinsic value.

    What makes us different from animals?

    Do fetus’ have X? If they do, how is ‘murdering’ them ok?

    Will robots that pass the Turing test have X?

    If X is something like ‘99.99% shared genes with President Bush’, would people that have radical gene therapy splicing their genes with a tomato to cure their cancer have intrinsic value?

  4. 4 yoko March 8, 2007 at 8:34 am

    my guess is X=the ability to stand erect as normal biologically designed posture

  5. 5 yoko March 8, 2007 at 8:43 am

    oops, don’t wanna be an ass for people on wheelchair….

    X=the body which biologically designed to stand erect

  6. 6 ギャビン March 8, 2007 at 8:52 am

    This seems to assume there is only one thing that = X. Isn’t being human more about “the whole being more than the sum of it’s parts”?

  7. 7 Will March 8, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    There’s no requirement that X be a single thing.

    Standing upright… That’s really the thing that gives us value?

    If someone invented a technology to allow me to put my brain in a vat and I could control a monkey shaped robot to do my daily business, would I not be human?

  8. 8 yoko March 8, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Yes! You will not be a human, cause it’s not gonna happen.

    Being able to stand erect made it possible for us to move our heads and hands more freely and that made our brain improve its functions. One of the reasons that we have our intelligence now is that because we started to stand erect.

  9. 9 Will March 9, 2007 at 4:44 am

    So abortion is wrong because fetus’ are biologically designed to stand erect?

  10. 10 yoko March 9, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    yes
    why does this bother you??

  11. 11 yoko March 10, 2007 at 1:55 am

    i’m not saying abortion wrong, btw

  12. 12 Will March 10, 2007 at 2:11 am

    hey lady, take a stand! 🙂

    No really, either abortion is wrong, it which your X might work or its not in which case ‘biological propensity to stand upright’ won’t work.

    So yeah, take a stand.

  13. 13 yoko March 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    i looked up what “take a stand” mean in Japanese. so i guess you want me to give you more details about my opinion or you’re saying that didn’t satisfied you.

    how about…
    X=the body which biologically designed to stand erect,which makes one’s brain developed in a way that it want to value itself.

  14. 14 Will March 13, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Well, you got the expression right, but I wanted you to take a stand on abortion. Is it right or wrong?

  15. 15 ギャビン March 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Err… when did we get to abortion? Keep your posts straight, man! Are we talking about X or abortion?

  16. 16 yoko March 13, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    is it right or wrong….
    well, I don’t think it’s always wrong.

    Because the fact that embryos cannot live without their mom’s uterus, they’re physically depend on mom’s body. So i think their lives should be up to their mom’s opinion.

  17. 17 Will March 14, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Never mind, my point was that if abortion is OK, then the X Yoko suggests can’t be right because fetuses have X.

    My morality suggests, and I’m pretty sure yours does too, that if you have intrinsic value then you have a right to existence. If fetuses have X, they have intrinsic value and thus the right to existence. Abortion must be wrong.

    On the other hand, if you think abortion is OK then you must have the wrong X.

    (Honestly, for this thread, I don’t care what your opinion on abortion is… Its just a good test of any X’s you come up with. Its inconsistent to believe fetuses have X and to believe abortion is OK. If abortion is ok then you need to come up with an X that fetuses don’t have.)

  18. 18 ギャビン March 15, 2007 at 5:03 am

    1) X is the ability to pass judgement on the morality (write or wrong) of one’s own actions. (Note that I’m NOT suggesting that the individual in question must have moral opinions consistent with it’s peers).

    2) In the absence of #1, is the individual maturing toward being capable of #1?

    This seems to me like a pretty fair definition of X. The reason abortion is not necessarily a good test is that it involves impeding the rights of one individual over another. If you consider the child a separate entity from the mother (as anti-abortionists often do) then you MUST admit that opposing abortion is equal to holding the rights of the child in higher regard than the rights of the mother.

    On the other hand, if you consider the child to be merely an extension of the mother’s body, then you MUST conclude that the mother has as much right to cut it off as she does to have a tumor surgically removed.

    I think most people recognize two different stages of fetal development. One fits the “two individuals” scenario and the other fits the “one individual” scenario. The reason we may never reach total agreement on the issue is that most people consider that transition to happen at different times.

  19. 19 ギャビン March 15, 2007 at 5:05 am

    Not to hijack the thread, but clearly this is a state issue and should be kept out of the federal government.

  20. 20 Will March 15, 2007 at 5:11 am

    Ok: X is the ability to morally reason.

    Children don’t have this ability, but you give them an escape clause… they’re learning to reason morally.

    What about the mentally handicapped?

  21. 21 ギャビン March 16, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Well… here we may need to seek the advice of those better educated. I can only call on my own experience, but I’ve never met a mentally handicap person who is incapable of moral reasoning. In fact, parents of children with Down Syndrome often say that their child shows more empathy (certainly one form of moral reasoning) than their developmentally “normal” kids.

  22. 22 Will March 17, 2007 at 5:05 am

    terry schiavo (sp)?

    What about folks that are in comas or otherwise, temporarily, incapable of moral reasoning?


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