Question: “When a baby is born very ill, we believe we should use all means available to save that child. When an adult suffers a tragic accident, and there is little chance of survival, we are quicker to end the adult’s life. In general, we find it more terrible when a young person’s life ends than when an older person’s life ends. Explain this sentiment by appealing to at least two of the philosophers we have studied in this course."
I would like to explore the ethics behind our decisions we as human beings make in regards to what extent we would like to save an individual's life depending on age, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and/ or sexual orientation. I agree with the statement that people tend to disregard elders yet society invest a lot to take care of young ones only. I will use the argument of Plato and Aristotle as the main two philosophers to assert my argument.
Plato attempts to make the distinction between knowing and believing. This is important to this topic because some people might think that a younger person's life is more valuable than an older person's life because one can argue that they are the future of society, whereas an older person has reached his/her plateau of growth. Plato provides the example “if someone thinks the wind is cold, then it is cold - for that person."(Melchert, 2010). The statement asserts that every individual believe is but an assumptions that is only true to that person but very different in the mind of another individual. Individuals formulate diverse opinion that are influenced by personal situations, individual understanding of ideas and situations. Equally, the society tends to make its own opinions that at times dominate individual beliefs since the former are based on the opinions of the majority. The dominant social appeal asserts that children are helpless and in want of a caregiver all the time to help the children get up and face the world. Contrastingly, elder people are least looked after since the supposed caregivers remain reluctant to understand that the elderly person is in need of care due to their advanced age. Every person believes that an adult is more aware of personal situations to afford and take care of himself more than an ill child whose conditions remain at the mercy of an adult. Contrary, the same life that the society wants to save as a child is more prone to be lost at an adult age because of social negligence. Biased judgment among adults is the main cause of the disparity between childcare and adult care; in that an ill child received better care than an ill adult yet the adult is more economically active than the child. Similarly, a child is least economically active but if none helps the child from the helpless condition, then the society would be blamed for being negligent and insincere to support human life. Contrary, adult life is easily overlooked by the society since adults have a higher sense of resilience when hurt through accidents unlike a fragile child. Furthermore, every individual defines what to accept as truth even if the idea is false which makes it difficult to find out truth from lies accepted as truth by the society. Ideally, I accept that a child’s life should be assisted less an ill adult when working from the humanistic perspective of compassion. However, every life is more important and need to be preserved for the sake of their life.
According to Aristotle, four man causes hold together the nature and define the importance of man as part of the species. Material cause asserts that a material constituent defines every species. An adult man is thought to be completed in attaining material cause and therefore an injury for an adult is not quite detrimental like an injury to a child. The material cover of a child is sensitive and liable damage from illness and that is the reason why a child’s life is more sensitive to an adult’s life when both are in danger.
Formal cause defines the form or pattern that accounts for the essence that comprise a human being. The development of man known from a simple and fragile form to a bulky and strong form that is more resilient. A formal cause thus decides whether an ill child is readily taken care of to help the child overcome the ill that may cause abnormal development while for an adult facing an accident, the form is already intact to be destroyed by an accident except a few scratches and dislocation. An adult’s form is stable and least prone to injury unlike a child’s form that has soft bones and delicate skin and organs easily damaged by illness. Formal cause determines how natural things are generated and develop over time.
Efficient cause is the source of the primary principle that defines whether an entity is more stable to changes or less stable when facing changes. The principle of efficient cause asserts that the value of a life depends on what that life is able to achieve as the result (Melchert, 2010). An adult is more likely to get older but not younger and since the society considers older people an added economic burden, few would help an adult facing an accident as they would offer compassion to an ill child. The biased importance of efficient cause is brought about by the fact that every man is believed to have a way to deal with any situation while a child lacks options due to passive activity of the child’s form. The efficiency of an adult is prime but declining with ageing but the efficient cause of a growing child promises more than unseen potential that is yet achieved and the need to protect the potential in children drives the society to take care of children more than adults are taken care of when in dire need. Equally, the efficient cause asserts that an adult means independent entity while a child needs a caregiver to nourish besides overseeing the state of the young child.
The final cause by Aristotle claims that the end of any organism is the definition of the organism’s duty of happening (Melchert, 2010). Therefore, since the final cause of man is reproduction and continuation of the generation, an adult facing an accident is not readily helped like an ill child because the adult has just finished the final cause in life while the child is budding and is yet to attain anything ascribed to an adult life. The final cause in life of a man is reproduction and independence, which an adult has already attained; the child is yet to reach the final cause and this there is a need to help the child to become and adult and attain the expected final cause. However, since the final cause of a human life is to live, the decision by the society to help the child but not the adult is a biased move that contravenes what Aristotle believed in that the final cause of man is to live. On the contrary, the move to help a ill child but abandon an adult’s life is neglecting the first actuality of man as a soul.
The believe in helping children as opposed to adults stems from the form differences and the final cause that determines whether a man’s life is more important than the situation they are in. "In matters of practical decisions, we are not likely to get the same certainty we can get in mathematics." (Melchert, 2010). The statement asserts that men have varied reactions to various practical situations based on the capacity to reason and find the best result. Therefore, the society should help both the child and the adult facing a threat that would work against the final cause of life which is to live since every soul is set to be free and to live in freedom.
In conclusion, although it would be practical for us to think that we should treat each individual equally, unfortunately, we fail to treat everyone so equally in some cases that arouse different feelings of duty. Biased treatment of people in the society stems from how the society forms its opinions and judgment concerning the final cause of every living organism. That is why sometimes we tend to treat people with certain characteristics we could benefit from with a sense of higher priority those people we least benefit from. For example as the topic states, we tend to value a child's life over an adult’s life. In a crisis, people tend to equate standards of procedure about safety in order such that children and women are helped first before adult men.