“The problem with not setting the value of human life at infinity is that it will lead to situations where someone can decide to kill you because they deem the benefit to outweigh your life.”

You mean like, say, in a war? Or executing a criminal? Or a police officer killing somebody who points a gun at them?

Your mistake here lies in assuming that the decision to terminate a life need not be an arbitrary, subjective decision, but in fact is governed by law. Do you claim that any killing sanctioned by law, or in self-defense is necessarily unethical?

“a major problem with government run health care is that the government decides how much a human life is worth and rations health care according to that.”

The government has been doing that for fifty years! First it was the highway people deciding how much money to spend on safety equipment. Then it was the Environmental Protection Agency assigning a dollar value to life in order to evaluate the benefits of environmental regulations. We do it every day when we budget money for police, courts, and prisons. We do it when we establish safety regulations for aircraft.

Our resources are finite; therefore we have no choice but to ration those resources. This is elementary logic.

“So would it be justified to murder someone if my anger overcomes human reason?”

I wrote nothing like that. My point is that humans are not computers and must be judged on the basis of reality, not fantasy.

You say that it’s a bad thing that people foolishly engage in sex all the time. “Bad” is a sloppy term here. It’s a shame that people do that. But decrying fundamental human nature is a waste of time. People are not computers.

The US has solved that struggle by saying that human passion is no excuse for infringing on someone’s rights.

I suggest that you learn about the meaning of the phrase “extenuating circumstances”. The problem may be solved inside your head, but courts in the real world struggle with the problem every day.

“That doesn’t matter at all. The act of sex could create an expected life so anyone engaging in it does so with that risk. Standing in the street and shooting a gun wildly might hit some people or it might not hit anyone, but you go out and do that with the risk that it could hit someone, and if it does, the consequences are your responsibility.”

In fact, our society has already established the principle that actions that create a reasonable probability of injuring another person can be criminal, even if nobody is actually hurt. Drunk driving is one example. Discharging a firearm in an inhabited area is another. But equating sex with drunk driving in this matter represents a grand failure to grasp the human condition. Laws against sexual activity have never worked.

“They enter into the agreement to have sex with that knowledge and accepting of the risk of the consequences.”

Obviously you have never known any teenagers. Sex is not a formal transaction with negotiations leading up to an agreement that is then executed in conformance with the agreed-upon conditions. Millions of young people every year wake up in the morning without their underwear, hung over, and not knowing what they did the night before. And you want to treat these people like cold, rational actors??!?!?!

“Why are you using the argument that the potential consequences of an action erase the responsibility for the action? I just don’t understand that position at all.”

We have always accepted the notion that young people are not fully responsible for their actions. If a five year old manages to shoot and kill his brother with his dad’s gun, we don’t throw him in jail for murder. We recognize that he did not understand the consequences of his action. There’s a concept in law called mens rea. It refers to the idea that a person cannot commit a crime unless they have the appropriate criminal state of mind. The concept applies in softer form to all sorts of activities. Teenagers do all sorts of idiotic things and, in most cases, we indulge them their foolishness. More important, the law provides plenty of leeway in such cases.

“defining different stages of human life as different percentages of fully human, like your 100% at 9.25 years old example, allows you to justify killing those beings that are less “human” than others.”

No, it doesn’t. If society makes a law that declares that a person with 0.075% humanity (a newborn baby) has the same right to life as any other human, then you cannot kill that baby. Society can draw the line at 0.080%, or 0.001%, or any other number. My point is that the line itself is arbitrary.

“ The whole point of inalienable rights are to prevent scenarios like this by saying that human life is infinitely valuable and that no one can say otherwise.”

No, the phrase ‘inalienable rights’ refers to rights that may not be denied to a recognized person without due process of law. It does NOT define who is a ‘recognized person’ and it most certainly does NOT declare that human life is infinitely valuable. You are welcome to assume that human life is infinitely valuable, but I won’t believe you until you sell all your belongings and send the money to feed starving people in Africa.

Master of Science, Physics, 1975. Computer Game Designer. Interactive Storytelling. www.erasmatazz.com

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