Poll

How much do you value your own life?

I'm a strict utilitarian. If tomorrow I could save three (stranger) kids by giving up my own life, I would.
9 (14.8%)
I wouldn't die for strangers, but I would jump in front of a bus and give my life for my spouse or kids.
21 (34.4%)
Same as above, but only for my kids! (don't tell my spouse)
15 (24.6%)
I admit to being a selfish bastard. I view the world through my lens, and I don't want it to end. I want to live as long as humanly possible.
12 (19.7%)
Not only would I not die for anyone, I might be willing to hurt others to live longer. (rich person using wealth to gain unfair advantage for organ donations, etc.)
4 (6.6%)

Total Members Voted: 61

Voting closed: June 09, 2019, 12:37:37 PM

Author Topic: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)  (Read 1683 times)

Nick_Miller

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I think about things like this a lot.

The only caveat I'd put on people responding is to be brutally honest. I don't think there's anyway to track answers back to you, so pick the option that most closely tracks how you really feel.

Also feel free to comment if you wish!




NotJen

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I donít (and very likely wonít) have kids, so that ruled out a couple answers.

I donít understand picking #1 - why not donate all your organs today and save a bunch of people?

Blueberries

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I didn't vote.

I like thinking about these types of things* too, but I've come to the realization that any answer I come up with is just guessing and thoughts until/unless it happens.

*I'm talking scenarios, not necessarily how I view and/or value my own life in the context of this world.  Though, I think about that aspect as well. 
« Last Edit: May 30, 2019, 01:29:03 PM by Blueberries »

ChpBstrd

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At least half of life consists of experiences like pain, discomfort, sorrow, fear, and irritation. The war hero who jumps on a grenade saves himself from years of marital conflict, worry, arthritis, funerals of friends, and bowl/urinary incontinence. We may overvalue our lives, from a purely experimental perspective. Yet this is the only way we humans can stay afloat. Whoever was born lacking this bias toward optimism, cheer, and self-aggrandizement probably offed themselves a long time ago.

So I find little of meaning in chasing emotions like satisfaction or joy. If there is meaning, it would have to lie in what we do for one another. We have an entire culture devoted to scratching our own itches, but enduring satisfaction is an illusion and we know it.

GuitarStv

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I don't think it's possible to answer this question the way it's presented.  At least for me, I need a very specific scenario to make that kind of call intellectually . . . and emotionally it's entirely possible that whatever was intellectually decided just gets overridden in the moment anyway.

iris lily

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I think there are many answers outside of the choices you have given.

I donít have kids.  not sure I would ever jump in front of a bus to save my spouse as Iím not athletic so anything physical I do is likely not to save anyone anyway, and I know that.

I do not want to live as long as humanly possible which is one of those choices you give. Longhevity every isnít what itís about,  quality-of-life is what itís about.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2019, 09:28:00 AM by iris lily »

talltexan

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I thought this was going to be something like, "If you could die tomorrow, but in doing so secure a $80,000,000 nut that would sustain your family for several generations, would you do it?"

GuitarStv

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I thought this was going to be something like, "If you could die tomorrow, but in doing so secure a $80,000,000 nut that would sustain your family for several generations, would you do it?"

That's a hard no from me.  I don't want a useless rich asshole kid growing up to be president of the USA.

talltexan

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Forgot about that dang estate tax.

iris lily

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I thought this was going to be something like, "If you could die tomorrow, but in doing so secure a $80,000,000 nut that would sustain your family for several generations, would you do it?"

That is a good question for people who have children. But put it a different way: what if you could ensure that your progeny would never experience extreme adverse situations in life,  would you give up your life for that? By Extreme adversity  I mean war,  extreme poverty, losing a child,  loss of a limb or having server long term health problems, being bullied on the Internet.

You would want your progeny to experience small life problems because thatís how we learn  to be competent adults who cope well and Produce good for our society. But Do you protect them from the big stuff?

BlueMR2

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2019, 06:10:43 PM »
No children, so that could skew my result. 

I'd certainly try to save my Spouse, but if it's a guaranteed death for one of us I think I'd take the route of inaction rather than the route of action (action would be too close to suicide for me, which is a total non-starter).  However, it wouldn't take much of a chance of success for both of us for me to try...

I definitely wouldn't actively harm another to extend my life, but even though at this point I find life pretty boring, I'd still take whatever reasonable measures I have to keep going.  It's all I know, so keep going with it.  If someone gifts me body parts, sure, I'll do it.  On the other side though, my gift to the future world is to NOT be an organ donor.  The biggest problem facing this planet is that there are simply too many people living too long.  I'm greedy enough that it doesn't affect my decision to extend my own individual life if possible, but donating parts that could extend the lives of 5-10 more is just too big of a step over the line.

Cassie

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2019, 09:58:27 PM »
I would do anything for my kids.

Malkynn

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2019, 04:52:04 AM »
I literally don't give this much thought.

I don't have kids, so I don't have the weird hormones that make me constantly think about my willingness to die for them.

That said, I do have a history of acting immediately in emergency situations in order to protect people while putting myself at risk, but that's just training, it's not a personal value thing, it's a cultivated reflex of being a healthcare worker. We're indoctrinated to help first, think later.

No fucking way I'm stepping in front of a bus for people or some shit like that.

spartana

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2019, 09:01:25 PM »
There are quite a few people around these forums (including me) who are, or have been, first responders and rescue workers, and worked or volunteered in very dangerous situations daily. They put their own lives on the line to aid or save others. So I imagine that mindset is fairly common and lots of people would try to save strangers even if it meant their own possible death. Now if it was their kid trapped in a burning building or drowning at sea amongst other kids what would they do? Or if they had 2 of their own kids amongst others in jeaporady? Especially if they are more likely to be successful rescuing only one of their own, or another stranger kid then their own. I don't have kids but that would be a horrible "Sophie's Choice" situation.

I voted number one. Totally no issues for me at all with this choice. However I don't view it as my life having less value than someone else - just equal value - and if I am in a position to save someone at my own demise I consider the value of my life well served. 
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 10:04:02 PM by spartana »

PDXTabs

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2019, 09:25:11 PM »
I voted for #3, but I would add:

Imagine that you are in a space capsule that is going to make it back to earth but you don't have enough oxygen for all 8 people on board. Who do you pick to survive? Because of the lack of oxygen supply the sooner you make your choice the more of you get to live, and if you wait too long everyone will die. How do you make the decision of who lives and who dies?

In my simple mind, the easiest answer is to pick the youngest crew members, because they have the most life (on average) to lose. The oldest crew members have the least to lose by death.

But if you do this though experiment with your atomic family, you might decide that dad killing mom and the oldest teenager before taking his own life would be very traumatic for the younger children. They could be left with a lifetime of bad memories, survivors guilt, no parents, and generally have bad lives in spite of having lived. It might be better just to hold hands as everything goes black.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 09:28:47 PM by PDXTabs »

Zamboni

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2019, 10:46:07 PM »
Haha at least I wasn't the first person to think about how suicide with organ donation is what the first option says.

At this point, though, I'm not even sure what my organs are worth. I'm getting up there in age, and my heart and lungs are definitely not up to snuff for donation ( . . . happy to still be here myself!)

So I picked option 2.

There will come a time, though, when my own kids will be grown enough that I won't value my own life as much as the lives of other people's children. I'm probably already there, honestly, but I'm not completely sure because the tug to survive myself for the sake of my own children is very strong.

I would try to sacrifice myself for my beloved . . . we'd probably end up going down together in an attempt to save each other. That's when you know you truly have love in your life.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2019, 11:50:22 PM »
For the utilitarian option, I could save many more people by going back to work for the rest of my life, living in a van, and donating all excess cash to a few efficient charities. So, uh, I guess I can cross option 1 off my list. (ETA: I did go back to work for a cause, and will do so again. I also am leaving all my investments to charity when I die. But I intend to have plenty of selfish, leisurely retired years as well.)
« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 01:37:49 AM by MonkeyJenga »

Bloop Bloop

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2019, 01:21:48 AM »
These are the values I assign

My partner - 1.1
Me - 1.0
Sibling - 1.0
Parents - 0.8
Close friends - 0.5
Society at large - 0.00000000000001

spartana

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2019, 09:00:06 AM »
For the utilitarian option, I could save many more people by going back to work for the rest of my life, living in a van, and donating all excess cash to a few efficient charities. So, uh, I guess I can cross option 1 off my list. (ETA: I did go back to work for a cause, and will do so again. I also am leaving all my investments to charity when I die. But I intend to have plenty of selfish, leisurely retired years as well.)
But you wouldn't have to die to do all that. Leads to another philosophical question - how much are we willing to give up in order to save someone else? How many starving children in Africa can be saved if we give up avocado toast and world travel?

The problem with option one (which I choose) is that it doesn't give scenarios. Most here would probably run into a burning building to save their own kid and probably someone else's. Even if they knew they could die there is hope of survival. Where as offing yourself in order to donate your organs is a 100% death sentence. Most would do that to save their own kid but not strangers.

ender

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2019, 09:03:34 AM »
For the utilitarian option, I could save many more people by going back to work for the rest of my life, living in a van, and donating all excess cash to a few efficient charities. So, uh, I guess I can cross option 1 off my list. (ETA: I did go back to work for a cause, and will do so again. I also am leaving all my investments to charity when I die. But I intend to have plenty of selfish, leisurely retired years as well.)

It's easy to talk hypotheticals but when people around the world are actually dying, it's easy to just look at how much we spend on ourselves vs give away to answer this question...

driftwood

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2019, 09:07:45 AM »
These are the values I assign

My partner - 1.1
Me - 1.0
Sibling - 1.0
Parents - 0.8
Close friends - 0.5
Society at large - 0.00000000000001

Nice way to look at it, and thank you for participating. Every time a thread like this pops up both here and in reddit, some folks will be unable to answer the question that is being asked, instead focusing on the scenario. Your math answers the question for you.

Another question that is popping up now in this thread and shows more about us as a person is how do you value your time here vs other peoples'? I'd die for my kids today if needed. But when they're 18 they're on their own and I will not live for them (as in, I won't toil away the rest of my life to support them). A single heroic sacrifice may be easier than decades of suffering for someone we love.

For the original question though, in any scenario where the outcome is death of you, or death of someone(s) else, who would trade your life for another's? So ignore the bus. Imagine a scenario that works better for you instead of rejecting the scenario to avoid the question. How about gods come and they pick people to die. You have not been picked but you can trade your life for theirs. Whose life would you save?

« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 09:12:15 AM by driftwood »

MonkeyJenga

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2019, 09:58:13 AM »
For the utilitarian option, I could save many more people by going back to work for the rest of my life, living in a van, and donating all excess cash to a few efficient charities. So, uh, I guess I can cross option 1 off my list. (ETA: I did go back to work for a cause, and will do so again. I also am leaving all my investments to charity when I die. But I intend to have plenty of selfish, leisurely retired years as well.)
But you wouldn't have to die to do all that. Leads to another philosophical question - how much are we willing to give up in order to save someone else? How many starving children in Africa can be saved if we give up avocado toast and world travel?

Yup, that was my point. I can save more people alive than dead. Organ donation can save a handful of people, hundreds of thousands of dollars to the AMF can save even more. I would need to change my choices, though: decrease my living expenses further, go back to a six figure job, and donate everything for the next 35 years.

Which means anyone trying to be FI isn't a strict utilitarian. That money can be used more efficiently to save lives instead of build a bigger and bigger personal safety net.

NotJen

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2019, 01:57:49 PM »
The problem with option one (which I choose) is that it doesn't give scenarios. Most here would probably run into a burning building to save their own kid and probably someone else's. Even if they knew they could die there is hope of survival. Where as offing yourself in order to donate your organs is a 100% death sentence. Most would do that to save their own kid but not strangers.

Thatís my problem with option one, it says certain death.

Certainly many people are willing to face increased risk and help others - especially first responders - but there is the hope of survival.  Sure they are willing to die, but take many precautions to keep them and others safe.

Since I donít have kids, no, there isnít anyone I would swap life for.  Among my BF, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, I guess we can just draw straws if it comes down to that - in my eye weíre all equally worthy of continuing to live.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2019, 09:54:39 PM »
Iím in the middle of reading ďThe Sane SocietyĒ by Eric Fromm. At the dawn of consumerism he made the interesting observation that people were illogically assigning dollar values to things like experiences and sensations or evaluating whether life is worth living, as one would evaluate a business bankruptcy. Strangely I had never heard anyone question such logic, which came naturally to me as an American kid raised on TV and taught in the marketplace.

soccerluvof4

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2019, 03:41:39 AM »
I literally don't give this much thought.

I don't have kids, so I don't have the weird hormones that make me constantly think about my willingness to die for them.

That said, I do have a history of acting immediately in emergency situations in order to protect people while putting myself at risk, but that's just training, it's not a personal value thing, it's a cultivated reflex of being a healthcare worker. We're indoctrinated to help first, think later.

No fucking way I'm stepping in front of a bus for people or some shit like that.


hmmmm, didnt know you had to have some weird hormone to care about protecting or saving your kids. Bit strange. I think in reaction I would do most anything to save a loved one. 

Malkynn

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2019, 04:23:04 AM »
I literally don't give this much thought.

I don't have kids, so I don't have the weird hormones that make me constantly think about my willingness to die for them.

That said, I do have a history of acting immediately in emergency situations in order to protect people while putting myself at risk, but that's just training, it's not a personal value thing, it's a cultivated reflex of being a healthcare worker. We're indoctrinated to help first, think later.

No fucking way I'm stepping in front of a bus for people or some shit like that.


hmmmm, didnt know you had to have some weird hormone to care about protecting or saving your kids. Bit strange. I think in reaction I would do most anything to save a loved one.

Nope, my post doesn't say anything about needing hormones to care about protecting or saving loved ones, I said "constantly think about my willingness to die for them".
Big difference.

And yes, obviously parenting causes huge surges of hormones that make people protective and anxious about their kids...hence why they think about being protective A LOT more than kid-free people.

My point was not that I don't value the lives of my loved ones, but as I said in the above quoted post, I literally don't think very much about having to protect them because I don't have the evolutionary hormones surges that parents do making them worry all the damn time about the safety of their offspring.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 04:29:21 AM by Malkynn »

talltexan

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2019, 09:14:21 AM »
My wife is a better parent than I am. Her hourly rate in the labor market is higher than mine. It'd be an easy choice if it came down to one of us.

FreeWheel

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2019, 12:59:55 PM »
At least half of life consists of experiences like pain, discomfort, sorrow, fear, and irritation. The war hero who jumps on a grenade saves himself from years of marital conflict, worry, arthritis, funerals of friends, and bowl/urinary incontinence. We may overvalue our lives, from a purely experimental perspective. Yet this is the only way we humans can stay afloat. Whoever was born lacking this bias toward optimism, cheer, and self-aggrandizement probably offed themselves a long time ago.

So I find little of meaning in chasing emotions like satisfaction or joy. If there is meaning, it would have to lie in what we do for one another.
We have an entire culture devoted to scratching our own itches, but enduring satisfaction is an illusion and we know it.

I agree with your perspective on this, and sometimes even think a step further. Since "chasing emotions like satisfaction or joy" offers little meaning, helping others (while the compassionate thing to do in certain instances) is really just helping them do the same meaningless chasing.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2019, 09:31:49 AM »
At least half of life consists of experiences like pain, discomfort, sorrow, fear, and irritation. The war hero who jumps on a grenade saves himself from years of marital conflict, worry, arthritis, funerals of friends, and bowl/urinary incontinence. We may overvalue our lives, from a purely experimental perspective. Yet this is the only way we humans can stay afloat. Whoever was born lacking this bias toward optimism, cheer, and self-aggrandizement probably offed themselves a long time ago.

So I find little of meaning in chasing emotions like satisfaction or joy. If there is meaning, it would have to lie in what we do for one another.
We have an entire culture devoted to scratching our own itches, but enduring satisfaction is an illusion and we know it.

I agree with your perspective on this, and sometimes even think a step further. Since "chasing emotions like satisfaction or joy" offers little meaning, helping others (while the compassionate thing to do in certain instances) is really just helping them do the same meaningless chasing.

Perhaps so. However I really like Maslowís hierarchy as it fits into this perspective. The pinnacle of human achievement, whether appreciated by others or not, is self-actualization. Self actualization is not necessarily a pleasant-feeling experience and might be a struggle. It is the blossoming of oneís potential which might occur in the context of a struggle. Anyone who has achieved self-actualization must have done so with the help of a lot of people (e.g. family, teachers, mentors, people who built systems long ago, and authors of helpful ideas throughout history).

To provide another person food or safety, or to reduce their pain, may only allow them to pursue the next levels of emotional satisfaction (e.g. friendship, love) but your help was a necessary, if insufficient, condition for them to someday rise to self-actualization.

Also, even if that person you helped never achieves their full potential, by operating at increasingly higher levels of the hierarchy they might contribute something to someone else who can. The people who helped Anne Frank survive for a while had no idea they were part of producing one of humanityís greatest works of literature. The elderly neighbor who helps the struggling single mom with afternoon childcare has no idea what the child - or the childís child - will someday achieve. Perhaps someone once gave the young Martin Luther King an unexpected smile that led to a string of thoughts in his mind that led to his conclusion that he and all people had worth? Positively applied energy erupts somewhere else or some time later, and is utterly unpredictable. We all owe everything to the helpers.

pecunia

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2019, 03:28:17 PM »
I guess I'm pretty selfish too.  These posts have reminded me of this old quote:

When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car. -Will Rogers

Semi related I guess.

rocketpj

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2019, 08:52:18 PM »
I know I'd rather die trying than watch my kid die and feel guilt for the rest of my life for not trying.  The same may apply to a stranger in danger - I tend to step up when something serious is happening, though like anyone I have often wondered if I made the right choices in the moment.  I'd rather make errors of commission though.


Cassie

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Re: How much do you value your own life? (philosophical issues abound!)
« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2019, 10:15:00 PM »
No matter how old your kids are itís a biological urge to save them.