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There are many ways to kill yourself and many reasons to do so. When I lived in Livingston County, Michigan, there was this old couple, married a hundred years more or less and she passed away first and a few days after the funeral, he died. No one asked any questions or needed to. His death was ruled "natural causes" and it was close enough.

Even a nominally young person could face unremediable prospects of disease, paralysis, overall loss of life quality. Why delay the inevitable as it just gets worse? (Clearly, someone 20 has more likelihood of better outcomes over time than someone 60. "Nominally young" could mean early to late middle age.) The point is that as your life is your own, what you do with it is your business.

But "business" implies calculation. Businesses are economic entities of profit. And yes, they fail and are liquidated. But not because everyone's favorite accountant quit. And when they go, the board of directors does not call in professional dynamiters to bring the building down. In fact, arson is one of the common crimes of business - a failing business is destroyed - and it is considered a crime. In other words, the decision to close a business is calculated ... and suicide often is not.

Objectivists recognize that children have fewer rights than adults. It is easy to say that if a policeman sees an adult poised to jump off a bridge, the moral imperative to act is different than if the jumper were a child. If the two were only walking the bridge for fun, the same standard would apply: the adult has a right to risk his life; the child does not.

I submit that anyone who attempts a dramatic death is not rational. Therefore, they do not enjoy thte rights of an adult. With the legal status of a child, that person can and should be restrained for their own good, as a moral imperative of the state which has a compelling interest in the well-being of all under its protection.

Another way to approach this is to ask if you have the right to sell yourself into slavery. When I brought this up on RoR, one reply was that the voluntary choice to involuntary servitude is a contradiction and therefore does not need to be discussed. However, that ignored the reality of the Roman latifundists: thousands of farmers became slaves through debt. Here and now debt is real. By the standards of Objective moral philosophy, can you agree to sell yourself for the rest of your life to pay off your debts? Can that include your children? At what age or by what other standard could they agree, if they wanted to?

(In America, at first, the children of slaves were considered freeborn, but that became inconvenient.)

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Michael,

Of course you can sell yourself as a slave. You just cannot litigate that contract in court.

Here's a good recent example from real life.

There is a self-help guru I took a look at a few years ago because Diana Hsieh said she was a "big fan" of his (see here for instance: Steve Pavlina on Ayn Rand and The Danger of Snooze Buttons).

Since this was within the ballpark of my new Internet marketing interest, I read him for a while. I'm always interested whenever there are crossovers between the self-help industry and Objectivism other than NB's work on self-esteem.

But after a while, my BS meter went into overdrive and I drifted away. Still, I kept seeing his name appear here and there in my wanderings throughout the IM world.

Well, recently, I looked again because of a a post I saw on a blog I read (scroll down to the one time-stamped "# 17 October 2011 at 10:35 am"). This blog, Salty Droid, bashes Internet marketing gurus and the owner is factual, if overly-colorful and totally biased. (I always try to get all sides on issues I find important.) Here is the text that peaked my interest.

Sorry if this is too off-topic, but it reminded me of similar shannanings with Steve Pavlina. Some time ago (a couple of years?) he brainwashed his wife into adopting a polyamorous life style. Some time after that, we [sic - "he"] eventually left her and the kids to pursue [h]is BDSM interests with a younger slave.

I thought, "Woah theyah hossie! Whazzat?"

So I looked it up. What I found was charming. When it came to intellectually exploring slavery, this guy Pavlina didn't screw around.

He advertised.

He essentially made want ads for slaves for himself. Note, this was for double-duty slaves--business and sex.

And women showed up.

And did it!

Rather than post a bunch of links, here's a blog post by one Cosmic Connie giving a run-down of the whole shebang (and it has a bunch of links for those who are interested): D/s, I love you.

The good news is that not only did this guy pursue owning slaves as a moral thing, he used the experience for business enhancement, great sex, and even profound spiritual development. Self-help at its finest.

But wait, there's more!

Apparently, he ended up falling in love with one of his sex slaves. And now he has found his bliss.

Isn't it great to see how slavery ties into Objectivism?

:smile:

Michael

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Of course you can sell yourself as a slave. You just cannot litigate that contract in court.

Yes, that's my verdict as well. Slave contracts are unenforceable. I expand on why in my book (basically: justice means, if you break a contract, putting the other party back to where they were, taking into account various changes since it was originally made; it does not mean forcing the parties to adhere to the contract).

Not all libertarians conclude this, e.g.:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block134.html

Debt adds a complex aspect to this that I'll just not touch on for now, maybe later.

Shayne

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I just went through the comments on the Cosmic Connie link I gave and one comment cracked me up:

What kind of a future are these weirdos creating? Even depraved sex acts are not safe from being spiritualised and exploited. Is nothing sacred?

:)

I say the same goes for slavery. What happened to the good old days when you could whip slaves without thinking of the act as the one true path to spiritual enlightenment?

:)

Michael

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I am very torn on the subject of suicide. I recognize that everyone has the right to end their own life, however I do not recognize the right of the mad or temporarily mad to suicide.

I wont go into details but I had it very hard as a teenager. When I was fifteen I was driven to the point of total despair and I really lost my grip for a while, its not a joke when I say that I was clinical. I had people telling me the world was one way, and I was trying to live in the world as they told me it existed, but it didnt meld with the facts. Finally I sat down one day and decided that I was going to discover the truth about truth and reality. If there was no reality, no truth, I was going to kill myself, if there was than I would commit my life to reality and the truth. That examination saved my life, it was done rationally. If however I had just tried to end it than i would not have had a right to.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think the following :

Take two persons, A and B. If there is no more information about them, A has no right to prevent B from suicide.

Take two persons, A and B. They belong to the same society. A, qua member of the society has no right to prevent B from suicide.

------------------

Take two persons, A and B. They are good friends\relatives. A knows B, and personally has really good reasons to think why it is not really good for B to commit suicide. In such a case, A has a right to prevent B from suicide.

Take two persons, A and B. A has reasoned in depth about suicide, and has realized (gained true, deeply justified knowledge) that suicide is always irrational. (I believe such knowledge is possible). To the extent that A has such knowledge, he has a right to prevent B from suicide.

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I am very torn on the subject of suicide. I recognize that everyone has the right to end their own life, however I do not recognize the right of the mad or temporarily mad to suicide.

I wont go into details but ... That examination saved my life, it was done rationally. If however I had just tried to end it than i would not have had a right to.

Thank you for the insight. I like that you considered this as a problem in egoistic ethics. In other words, as it is wrong to act irrationally, you have no "right" to do so, where "right" is not meant in the sense of social contract as a "right to freedom of speech."

Take two persons, A and B. ... To the extent that A has such knowledge, he has a right to prevent B from suicide.

Again, thanks for the analysis. You parsed the problem nicely. I appreciate your work and I am in agreement, as above, with your egoistic, rather than social contract, viewpoint. The social contract aspect of preventing another from self-destruction (or mere harm) is still unresolved, but the considerations above were weighty.

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Another way to approach this is to ask if you have the right to sell yourself into slavery

I think that any contract that cuts its own feet is illegitimate. I don't have a good formalized way of defending it, but it sounds wrong. To use freedom of speech in order to deny your self the right for freedom of speech? To use your freedom of judgement to deny it?

One can hire himself for very low wages, on a horrible contract, for a long number of time. But that wouldn't be slavery, just horrible work conditions.

Maybe this will be valuable.

http://jim.com/treason.htm

It isn't directly about the same, but he makes a detailed analysis on how binding voting is, which might be extended to slavery.

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I am very torn on the subject of suicide. I recognize that everyone has the right to end their own life, however I do not recognize the right of the mad or temporarily mad to suicide.

Do you have an objective "bright line" criterion that separates madness from sanity. Even if one exists, in the absence of diagnostic methodology one's judgement concerning the sanity or insanity of another is largely a matter of opinion. So are you saying: if -in your opinion- A is mad, you have a right to prevent A from committing suicide. Do you think the legal authorities of the society have that right?

One man's madness is another man's original and creative thought process.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I am very torn on the subject of suicide. I recognize that everyone has the right to end their own life, however I do not recognize the right of the mad or temporarily mad to suicide.

Do you have an objective "bright line" criterion that separates madness from sanity. Even if one exists, in the absence of diagnostic methodology one's judgement concerning the sanity or insanity of another is largely a matter of opinion. So are you saying: if -in your opinion- A is mad, you have a right to prevent A from committing suicide. Do you think the legal authorities of the society have that right?

One man's madness is another man's original and creative thought process.

I am not the least bit torn. The right to commit suicide is part and parcel of the right to live. All that is required is that one's self destruction does not impose a hazard or unjust burden/cost on a second party. That means he who would commit suicide is morally obliged to arrange for picking up and disposing of his bodily remains in a safe permissible way. Of course, if someone wants to kill himself in a messy way and he succeeds we are in no position to punish or penalize him. The successful suicide has "the last word". Tough luck on the rest of us.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Do you have an objective "bright line" criterion that separates madness from sanity. Even if one exists, in the absence of diagnostic methodology one's judgement concerning the sanity or insanity of another is largely a matter of opinion.

... All that is required is that one's self destruction does not impose a hazard or unjust burden/cost on a second party. That means he who would commit suicide is morally obliged to ...

Right. And wrong. You contradict yourself.

You say then that even if a bright line did exist, diagnosis would be a matter of opinion. That would not be a bright line, would it? It would be a gray area. If a bright line exists, then diagnosis is readily available.

I agree that there may be no bright line for sanity versus conformity, only a broad gray area between the unconventional and madness. In real life the difference between mental competence and incompetence is usually easy enough to perceive. As I said up top in Post : "I submit that anyone who attempts a dramatic death is not rational. Therefore, they do not enjoy thte rights of an adult. With the legal status of a child, that person can and should be restrained for their own good, as a moral imperative of the state which has a compelling interest in the well-being of all under its protection."

We are not discussing people who mix stripes and plaids.

A messy suicide is evidence of internal conflict, not of rational choice in unremitting circumstances.

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Michael, Of course you can sell yourself as a slave. You just cannot litigate that contract in court. ... Apparently, he ended up falling in love with one of his sex slaves. And now he has found his bliss. ... l

Cute, but irrelevant. First you deny the meaning of "sell" if the contract is not enforceable. Generally, the law says that an illegal condition is not enforceable and often a single unlawful condition does not invalidate an entire contract. I rent you a car and the contract specifies that a fee if your minor child drives it, which the child does, and you refuse to pay the fee. That is my loss. Similarly, I have no right to rent you a car for the express purpose of getting away from a bank robbery.

The basic premise is that the law rests on morality. Laws are how are how we actualize right and wrong. I might agree that you have a right to smoke any herb you choose, but I also assure you that you have no right to smoke anything in my home. We know of wrongful laws, immoral laws. I get anti-trust notices from the DoJ, for instance. But we are look for the underlying foundation of law, not the technical reading of existing legislation.

Also, a sex slave can walk away from the agreement at any time, the "slavery" is only symbolic and you knew that, of course. So, it was a funny story, but not helpful.

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Do you have an objective "bright line" criterion that separates madness from sanity. Even if one exists, in the absence of diagnostic methodology one's judgement concerning the sanity or insanity of another is largely a matter of opinion.

... All that is required is that one's self destruction does not impose a hazard or unjust burden/cost on a second party. That means he who would commit suicide is morally obliged to ...

Right. And wrong. You contradict yourself.

You say then that even if a bright line did exist, diagnosis would be a matter of opinion. That would not be a bright line, would it? It would be a gray area. If a bright line exists, then diagnosis is readily available.

No contradiction. In an emergency or crisis situation one does not have time to apply fancy diagnostics like EEGs and CAT scans. One forms a judgement on the spot. The assumption that an attempt at suicide is proof of insanity begs the question of whether the person is really nutsy fagin or has just had his fill of his miserable existence.

Again I ask. Does a second party have a -right- to deny a person the opportunity to kill himself just because he -thinks- the suicide is nutsy fagin?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Well, Baal, samr and equality 72521 both gave more cogent and nuanced replies.

Given the full range of possible relationships among the actors, yes, a right to interfere may well exist, even if no duty is operant. For some - the police for example - that duty does exist. We know that children and teens take their own lives, though not in numbers suggested by those in a moral panic; but when it is your child, numbers are irrelevant. The arbitrary voting age of 18 is capped by a legal drinking age of 21, If you are under 25 getting automobile insurance can be a challenge, specifically because your better reflexes are at the mercy of your less developed judgment. So, how a parent or friend or social guardian views this is a matter of context.

I do not remember the celebrity, perhaps it was Richard Dawkins, but he was diagnosed with cancer and when he asked his doctor about the literature, she told him that it was not helpful. So, he wanted to know what that meant and found out that 50% of those diagnosed die within six weeks or something like that. Wow! Get your affairs in order... Then, he realized that 50% live longer... in fact, it sort of trailed off to a full and natural lifespan. And he realized that probably none of the early deaths occurred at the moment of diagnosis. So, he looked more deeply into it. The point is that bad news can lead to bad decisions. Someone in your life might have a clear and proper motivation to interfere in your choice.

And for the third time, Robert, anyone who attempts a very public and very messy death is obviously suffering from internal conflicts and has given up all rights but those of a child. So, the public guardians have a mandate to interfere.

Finally, this is an edit. After a couple of hours of mulling, I am not sure that your example of an EEG resolves the contradiction in your claim that there is no bright line, but if one existed,"... in the absence of diagnostic methodology one's judgement concerning the sanity or insanity of another is largely a matter of opinion." Diagnostic methodology does not need to be a complex machine. The Experiental World Inventory and the Minnesota Multiphasic were both "diagnostic instruments" but were really just verbal tests. You can ask someone some basic questions to determine their mental state. As a security guard working nights on the fringe of the desert, I met several homeless people who were very engaging and yet not at all coherent. It only took a few minutes to determine that. Moreover, if some imaginary machine could provide a physical measurement of brain function showing insanity, that machine would only validate what we suspect from social engagement. In other words, you would not act normal, but be shown to be insane by the machine.

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This is creating an ethical issue in Budhist circles, however, it should create an ethical issue in America because of what Chjina is truly about which is repression, extending its power and defeating this country.

http://frontpagemag.com/2011/10/31/tibetan-buddhist-monks-set-themselves-on-fire-to-protest-chinese-oppression/

It is not a cause the leftist ‘Occupy Wall Street’ crowd would ever espouse, since its life-or-death issues would shame theirs and show where true evil and oppression resides.

Largely ignored by the Western media, nine Tibetan Buddhist monks and one nun have attempted suicide by self-immolation since last March in China’s eastern Sichuan province, a hotbed of unrest against perceived Chinese government oppression. Eastern Sichuan is largely inhabited by ethnic Tibetans and was once historically part of Tibet.

tibetan.jpg

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I do not remember the celebrity, perhaps it was Richard Dawkins, but he was diagnosed with cancer and when he asked his doctor about the literature, she told him that it was not helpful. So, he wanted to know what that meant and found out that 50% of those diagnosed die within six weeks or something like that. Wow! Get your affairs in order... Then, he realized that 50% live longer... in fact, it sort of trailed off to a full and natural lifespan. And he realized that probably none of the early deaths occurred at the moment of diagnosis. So, he looked more deeply into it. The point is that bad news can lead to bad decisions. Someone in your life might have a clear and proper motivation to interfere in your choice.

S.J. Gould.

And for the third time, Robert, anyone who attempts a very public and very messy death is obviously suffering from internal conflicts and has given up all rights but those of a child. So, the public guardians have a mandate to interfere.

Then the person should do his suicide privately. The right to suicide is implicit in the right to live.

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Then the person should do his suicide privately. The right to suicide is implicit in the right to live.

Absolutely .How can both these statements not be true?

It raises a small conundrum, that anyone attempting to take his life publicly - or at the least in the presence/knowledge of only one other - lacks full conviction. So should be prevented. As much for our human response to anyone else's pain, as it is for our rational value in life.

A private suicide, which can't be prevented (self-evidently), would more likely be one of sane conviction, I imagine.

My conclusion: it is moral to attempt to intervene - and equally moral to condone it in principle.

Tony

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It is not a cause the leftist ‘Occupy Wall Street’ crowd would ever espouse, since its life-or-death issues would shame theirs and show where true evil and oppression resides.

"Free Tibet" is a traditional part of the leftist stew.

Largely ignored by the Western media, nine Tibetan Buddhist monks and one nun have attempted suicide by self-immolation since last March in China’s eastern Sichuan province, a hotbed of unrest against perceived Chinese government oppression. Eastern Sichuan is largely inhabited by ethnic Tibetans and was once historically part of Tibet.

I can't see why you side with these people. Who's an ethnic Tibetan and which group historically inhabited what land should be irrelevant.

The only good reason to be on their side is if you believe they have a better protection of individual rights than the Chinese. My impression is rather the opposite.

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Also, a sex slave can walk away from the agreement at any time...

Michael,

Tell that to the pimps in the hood...

If a sex slave walks away, he or she better move a long ways away. Masters tend to get royally pissed when they lose their property.

Michael

Precisely. Whenever I read that kind of apparently superficial statement about a "sex slave," or, prostitute, it rings falsely. The real world gives slim to no opportunities for escape.

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Precisely. Whenever I read that kind of apparently superficial statement about a "sex slave," or, prostitute, it rings falsely. The real world gives slim to no opportunities for escape.

Not all prostitutes have a pimp and male immigrants having their passport taken away to create a dependency isn't unheard of either.

Prostitution as a trade is a perfectly legitimate business.

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Precisely. Whenever I read that kind of apparently superficial statement about a "sex slave," or, prostitute, it rings falsely. The real world gives slim to no opportunities for escape.

Not all prostitutes have a pimp and male immigrants having their passport taken away to create a dependency isn't unheard of either.

Prostitution as a trade is a perfectly legitimate business.

John:

And your point about saying this is...?

No one argued that prostitution is not a legitimate business. No one argued that all prostitutes have pimps. Moreover, there is a difference between a prostitute and a sex slave, my friend.

Adam

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No one argued that prostitution is not a legitimate business. No one argued that all prostitutes have pimps. Moreover, there is a difference between a prostitute and a sex slave, my friend.

Then I misunderstood you, sorry about that.

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Precisely. Whenever I read that kind of apparently superficial statement about a "sex slave," or, prostitute, it rings falsely. The real world gives slim to no opportunities for escape.

And so would it in our utopia?

A long time ago, back in the 80s, when I was living in Lansing, I was on a city bus late at night and the passengers included this overweight white woman. And a few stops later this black guy gets on. And he says to her, "How much did you get?" and she gives him a $5 bill. And I think, "Maybe she got more..." But he took it happily without argument. So, I understand your argument, Selene.

But, if free will means anything, then we all have choices, or none of us does.

Context is always important. You have no idea how you come across to me as you think of yourself as some 60-year old guy, but my daughter's name is Selene.

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Precisely. Whenever I read that kind of apparently superficial statement about a "sex slave," or, prostitute, it rings falsely. The real world gives slim to no opportunities for escape.

And so would it in our utopia?

A long time ago, back in the 80s, when I was living in Lansing, I was on a city bus late at night and the passengers included this overweight white woman. And a few stops later this black guy gets on. And he says to her, "How much did you get?" and she gives him a $5 bill. And I think, "Maybe she got more..." But he took it happily without argument. So, I understand your argument, Selene.

But, if free will means anything, then we all have choices, or none of us does.

Context is always important. You have no idea how you come across to me as you think of yourself as some 60-year old guy, but my daughter's name is Selene.

Michael:

Of course we all have choices. I just know that some folk's minds are burnt out, drugged out or were never allowed to grow and choices appear to never appear.

For example, there is a woman in Florida who is 37ish. Fifteen (15) children from three (3) diferent men. They are all in jail now. The last one is the father of ten (10) of the children. Three (3) are out and about on their own.

She was just evicted and is living in a motel room with the twelve (12) children having gone through all the social services money which included $800..00 dollars for rent.

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