Justify Your Existence (in Debates)


AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] May 22 2009 5:08 PM EDT

The size of the world isn't changing, but the size of the human populace inhabiting it has increased significantly in the more recent history.

With all of this being said: What criteria should determine if someone is important enough to justify them being allocated more or less resources then someone else?

Being a bit of a nerd myself, I would like to think that someone who has lots of information and the ability to parse that information in a reasonably intelligent way is more likely to make good decisions with their own resources then someone who has very little information, or someone who can't parse the information they do have. Is that always necessarily the 'greater good' stance to take?

AdminShade May 22 2009 5:16 PM EDT

You have made a good point, however I am thinking differently. I myself am well educated, have a good job and am in the process of buying an apartment in the village / town I was raised in and still live.

However, I am driving an old car while I could have bought a much newer car. I don't think of me to be better than other persons, I don't go brag about how good my life is but I do reason that I am lucky to live this life.

The thing is, I believe in Easter Philosophy and believe that this life is a lesson for my soul. I once lived in great poverty most likely and this reflected a certain 'missing' in my life. This might be filled in this life in an attempt to make myself complete.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 22 2009 5:29 PM EDT

Very few people in the US can even begin to justify the resources they consume. I myself just ate enough beef protein for lunch to feed a small village. The gasoline and petroleum products used to bring that beef to the store I drove to (it's a block between work and my home) combined with the mesquite I burned to cook it is impossible to justify. No one deserves to be kings of the world, we just happen to be the ones on top.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 22 2009 5:33 PM EDT

I justify my personal consumption by ignoring morals and logic, underneath the thin layer of comfortable apathy I'm fully aware that in any other era a person who has made it to my age has done more work in a day than I've done ever.

I'm a product of an affluent nation, and my ignorance betrays that constantly.

j'bob May 22 2009 11:41 PM EDT

More interestingly to me, who among us feels qualified to justify the life they or anyone else is living and what "resources" would some people feel could even make such a justification fulfilling?

Who is to say the "type" of life you lead is any better than the next. Is the genius who brings the world a cleaner more efficient fuel any more deserving that the unwed high school drop out mother living on welfare who against all odds raises her child with enough love and guidance to allow him to be even a fairly productive member of society?

There are people in this would that would I'm sure, trade all the fancy apartments and swimming pools for the love of another.

Self determined importance is seldom justified.
And what one feels one deserves is not always what one needs.

:D

QBOddBird May 22 2009 11:44 PM EDT

I'm good with the card I was dealt by the genetic lottery. I see no reason to justify that, as it was beyond my control.

00 May 28 2009 11:35 PM EDT

To rock and roll.

Rawr May 28 2009 11:57 PM EDT

"Who is to say the "type" of life you lead is any better than the next. Is the genius who brings the world a cleaner more efficient fuel any more deserving that the unwed high school drop out mother living on welfare who against all odds raises her child with enough love and guidance to allow him to be even a fairly productive member of society? "

Yes, the genius that brings a cleaner, more efficient fuel IS more deserving that the unwed high school drop out mother. The mother made the unintelligent decision to become impregnated at an inappropriate age. The genius with the better fuel not only didn't make a poor decision like this, he/she improved humanity across the globe. In my opinion, that makes him more "important to be allocated more resources."

My friend recently was expelled from school for drug trafficking. He made the conscious decision to deal drugs on school campus, and was caught. Proper punishment was executed, and that will affect his life severely. I chose not to make such a poor decision. In turn, not only do I have access to resources he does not (higher education, in this case), I feel I deserve more because I keep my grades high, I study hard, and I don't make poor decisions.

Cube May 29 2009 12:15 AM EDT

Rawr reread the situation jbob proposed. She didn't necessarily make poor choices. The single mother could have done the best she could with the given circumstances. Considering she successfully raised her children to become successful, I would say that's pretty worthy. Especially if one of her kids IS the one to bring the world a cleaner more efficient fuel.

In which case the problem gets a bit more complicated, no?

Cube May 29 2009 12:27 AM EDT

As for my existence, I can hardly justify it yet, unless you can predict my future. I'm okay with that.

I think Verifex's description is accurate though. Considering the most information is probably stored and processed by businesses, marketing firms, and the government, I don't think it's surprising where the money ends up. Look at Google, the information capital of the world.

Rawr May 29 2009 12:44 AM EDT

"Rawr reread the situation jbob proposed. She didn't necessarily make poor choices. The single mother could have done the best she could with the given circumstances. Considering she successfully raised her children to become successful, I would say that's pretty worthy. Especially if one of her kids IS the one to bring the world a cleaner more efficient fuel."

One cannot "not choose" to become pregnant, unless she was raped. In which case, yes, things do become complicated. Otherwise, no. She made the decision to become pregnant. She may raise her children well, but the chances that they are successful not as good as if she chose to have kids at a later stage in her life when she is financially sound and under a good roof. And people who invent things for the betterment of the world tend to be well educated. Having a child in high school diminishes her ability to send her child/children through the best education system in order to become that person.

Rawr May 29 2009 12:48 AM EDT

*in order for her kid to become that person.

Cube May 29 2009 12:51 AM EDT

Regardless, that could happen. I could start listing countries, but there are plenty of places I would not expect someone to come out of the woodwork and solve a worldwide problem. It can happen, but it's very unlikely. Many times people can only make the best with what they have.

If someone is born in the wrong place to the wrong parents, they may not have a choice between dealing drugs or not dealing drugs. I'm guessing this wasn't true for your friend, but it does happen.

This doesn't necessarily make them more deserving, but it's worth consideration.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] May 29 2009 12:54 AM EDT

"If someone is born in the wrong place to the wrong parents, they may not have a choice between dealing drugs or not dealing drugs."

Wrong, they always have a choice. It may be to starve or deal drugs, but they always have a choice.

Cube May 29 2009 12:59 AM EDT

Starving doesn't get you the Noble Prize either.

Colonel Custard May 29 2009 1:00 AM EDT

"Considering she successfully raised her children to become successful, I would say that's pretty worthy. Especially if one of her kids IS the one to bring the world a cleaner more efficient fuel.

In which case the problem gets a bit more complicated, no?"

But if the kid inventing a more efficient fuel justifies both his existence and his mother's, isn't that double-dipping?

How far can a person's accomplishments justify the existence of his or her ancestors? Without any single one of them, he or she would not have come into existence.
Conversely, how much of one person's uselessness can be blamed on a poor upbringing, or other environmental factors?

That said, I think the original question is flawed. Utilitarianism reduces people to machines in the sense that they have no value if they do not function normally or properly. The old and the disabled become viewed as worthless and useless, and need to be disposed of for the sake of preserving resources. The poor, as well, for those in extreme poverty who can not even eat a meal once every day will not be able to produce much of anything by comparison to healthy individuals. The chronically ill, as well, become less valuable if they have to be hospitalized (consuming large amounts of resources while not working) even briefly at fairly distant intervals.

Rawr's statement unjustly categorizes and systematically rejects people because they make poor decisions, as if wisdom were a natural human tendency. Making mistakes should not preclude a person from benefiting from whatever they can produce with their own efforts. And, hey, maybe one who imparts wisdom to others would be worthy of higher resource consumption, as he is benefiting humanity - except that by rehabilitating the otherwise-dismissible and making them worthy of life, he's causing a greater strain on the earth's resources. So, maybe his contribution is not only worthless, but destructive and detrimental to the survival of the species.

I'm with j'bob, mostly.

As far as the distribution of resources is, I don't think there's a better solution than capitalism, aided by proper stewardship of resources.

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] May 29 2009 1:01 AM EDT

Well ends don't justify the means in my book, guess I'll just have to disagree with you on this.

Rawr May 29 2009 1:02 AM EDT

"Regardless, that could happen. I could start listing countries, but there are plenty of places I would not expect someone to come out of the woodwork and solve a worldwide problem. It can happen, but it's very unlikely. Many times people can only make the best with what they have."

Sure, I suppose there are a few people that make the best of their circumstances that become world-changers. But this fact alone does not make them more deserving of resources. I'm aware that you stated this, I am merely reinforcing the fact.

Similarly, if a prisoner rehabilitated and became a good citizen instead of a criminal, does that mean we should allocate resources to all the prisoners in hope that another prisoner is turned? I do not think so. Prisoners made the choice to commit crimes. Therefore they do not deserve the resources that we all enjoy.

Rawr May 29 2009 1:04 AM EDT

"Rawr's statement unjustly categorizes and systematically rejects people because they make poor decisions, as if wisdom were a natural human tendency."

What should make me think wisdom is not a human tendency?

Rawr May 29 2009 1:07 AM EDT

Triple :(

And I want to apologize if I am offending anyone. This is just how I feel, naive/ignorant as it may be.

Colonel Custard May 29 2009 10:08 AM EDT

"What should make me think wisdom is not a human tendency?"

Observation of general human (or mammalian) behavior shows that the most natural tendency is towards "whatever feels good." Generally, when it feeling good is the primary reason for its execution, it has little other defensible merit, which means it's not all that great of a thing to do. Responsibility for one's actions is something that has to be learned, either by effective parenting or "the hard way." And it's one of those things that people can refuse to learn, which leads to stubborn, irresponsible individuals leading generally worthless and unprofitable lives.

And even responsible individuals retain more than a vestige of this nature. This is demonstrated by the consumerism in our country. You can be extremely productive, extremely well-off, and extremely wasteful, because you feel like spending your resources on yourself or your own desires. Not that a person shouldn't be allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labor, but novice and Verifex have a very valid points: in terms of total world resources, the fact that you even have access to the internet proves that you have a lot.

The other thing I question is your claim that some people "deserve" more resource allocation than others. I agree with your sentiment insofar as it means that people who produce nothing without any good excuse haven't earned resources, but beyond that, it's very hard to judge what people "should" have.

Do doctors and surgeons "deserve" their six-figure salaries? One could argue that of course they do, because they have sacrificed so much to get there, because they save lives on a daily basis, and because they often work long shifts and total more weekly hours than the average person in the workforce. One could also argue that they don't, if for no other reason than that it's not fair to other people who work just as hard in a different field or a different country just to survive how they are. The fact remains, however, that healthcare is a very important industry and people are willing to invest a lot of money into their own survival or good health. Does the fact that people are willing to spend money on it then legitimize any and all money that goes into it? Who is to determine to what the value of doctors' services entitle them, or how much compensation they "deserve"?

Do hedge fund managers and the Wall Street crowd "deserve" their massive profits? Well, they're not really producing goods or rendering services; they're playing a system. Is resourcefulness and pattern-recognition deserving of such recompense when the direct increase in world resources and production of resources amounts to nothing? Would it be right for them to spend all this money and these resources on themselves, simply because they've earned it?
And have they earned it, really? Sure, it was given them as compensation for their work, but does anything make their work intrinsically valuable, beyond the capitalist ideology that everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it?

I guess I might possibly be off on a completely different thing, right now. I've had the poor in Haiti on my mind, I guess.

Hmmmm. So those who earn large amounts of money through legitimate products and services are deserving of their rewards for such endeavors, but they do not deserve to spend that many resources on themselves? Yes; I guess that is what I'm saying. In an objective sense, it's not justifiable to consume so much, yourself, just because you can.

What I can draw from this is: produce a lot, make more money than you need, and then share it with others who are deserving but struggling. Do this yourself; a government authority has no place in the matter.

Does sharing justify your existence?

Cube May 29 2009 2:30 PM EDT

To Cube:
Re: Noble
Starving doesn't get you the NOBEL prize either.

To: CC
Re: Double dipping
If you were that kid, and your mother did that much for you I imagine you'd support her in her old age. The system does work like Verifex is saying for the most part.

Re: Blamed on a poor upbringing
All of it can be. It's sad to think about but without support it's very hard for a child to mature. I recently read an article about a Russian girl who was literally raised by Dogs and Cats, so she acted like one.

Re: Utilitarianism
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with utilitarianism. You're interpreting it too strictly. Someone's relatives have a use because they give advice as well as moral support. I know if my parents needed help supporting themselves I'd provide it.

Again it's sad to think about but an old person, who can't afford an operation to save there life they do end up dying because they didn't get enough resources (money) allocated to them when they were in their productive years. As a society with our current abundance of resources, I think we gain by supporting the mentally ill etcetera, but as there are more people and fewer resources it poses a very difficult question.

Re: Wisdom
Good point. I wanted to bring that up but wasn't sure how to.

Re: Capitalism
Well, what Verifex is arguing I think actually is capitalism. That's how it works. You just have to look at it differently. Resources get allocated because of superior ability (for the most part, excluding misinformation). Whether it's the company that knows how to produce the right product, or the man that knows how to harvest energy more efficiently.

To: Artemis
Re: Ends justify the means
I never understood this concept actually. I remember in the last thread some people said they were against torture no matter what because it's inherently wrong. I was simply arguing that it didn't work.

I really don't understand the concept behind the following sentiment: If torture is guaranteed to work and get the information we need 100%, and we are sure there are no consequences for torture (no media backlash), and we are 100% sure that many people will die if we don't get this information that 1 million people will die, that would wouldn't torture him.

That doesn't make sense to me from any standpoint. I just really don't think that anything is inherently evil. Let's put it this way - I don't believe in true malicious pure evil.

To: Rawr
Re: Best of their circumstances
Agreed, they aren't necessarily deserving, but sometimes they are, and they can become rewarded for that as my example. No one choice means someone is worthless, and no one answer is the right answer. Drug addicts can go on to be famous artists etcetera.

Re: Prisoners
If prisoners have a superior ability than others, yes I think we should allocate more resources to them. If for some reason prisoners understand society far better because they experienced it from a different angle, of course we should allocate more resources to them. This is why I agree with Verifex - more information => more resources.

Re: Wisdom not a tendency
Because not everyone does make the right choices, some people don't realize it or don't know it. Sometimes the 'wrong' choice is the right choice.

Re:Apology
No reason to apologize. I don't think anyone's offended just a discussion. =)



Overall though, it's a very difficult question with no correct answer. Since everyone has something to contribute to society, it's very difficult to compare vastly different jobs. This question is the very basis of economics

QBRanger May 29 2009 3:01 PM EDT

The simplest of all:

I think therefore I am.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] May 29 2009 4:48 PM EDT

"With all of this being said: What criteria should determine if someone is important enough to justify them being allocated more or less resources then someone else?"

Might makes Right.

We're a pack animal, and we always look up to the Alpha. They get the best cuts, and the decsion on what to do with them. Whether it's thier choice to give it to another pack member or not.

When the Alpha is no longer the strongest, they are removed, and a new Alpha takes thier place.

j'bob May 29 2009 6:32 PM EDT

Food for thought:

Mother Teresa was the third child of Albanian grocer Nikola Bojaxhiu and his wife Drane. She had an older sister, Aga, and an older brother, Lazar. Her father died when she was about eight years old. When Mother Teresa was 18 years old, she went to Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto. Nobel Prize Winner. I don't think she went to college.

Alexander Hamilton's family was too poor to afford any regular schooling for the boys, to help make ends meet, the teenaged Alexander became a clerk for Nicholas Cruger, a merchant who traded throughout the Caribbean and with the British colonies that would later become the United States. Cruger quickly recognized the intensity of Alexander's genius. Even though he was only fifteen years old, Alexander had a gift for mathematics and business. Alexander was born to James Hamilton and Rachel Lavien, while Lavien was still legally married to John Lavien. Hmm, there's an interesting story of someone who turned out to be pretty "important".

Rawr: "She made the decision to become pregnant."
Or maybe not. Maybe as so many "kids" today she made the poor decision to have unprotected sex never thinking of the consequences.
Speaking of decisions... were you 100% unaware of your "friends" actions? If not, and you did nothing, how do you feel about that?
(that is not an attack Rawr, simply a question relating to decisions)

Sometimes the choices we make do NOT define us. Sometimes the end MUST justify the means. As has been mentioned, at least part of the original post is flawed.
"What criteria should determine if someone is important enough to justify them being allocated more or less resources then someone else?"

Are we ready to make this decision without all the information. Sometimes it is not until much later in ones life that one may come to "justify" ones existence. Who is ready to take the burden of this decision?


(no OB, you can't. cause I say so) ;p

QBOddBird May 30 2009 4:37 PM EDT

"Rawr: "She made the decision to become pregnant."
Or maybe not. Maybe as so many "kids" today she made the poor decision to have unprotected sex never thinking of the consequences. "

I find it silly to think people engaging in the action of reproduction do not consider the possibility that it could result in reproducing.

j'bob May 30 2009 5:51 PM EDT

"I find it silly to think people engaging in the action of reproduction do not consider the possibility that it could result in reproducing."

Silly? Really? I find it increasingly SAD. Because it's true. And there are entire cities of proof. Populations of children having children.

"The Center for Disease control says that one-third of girls get pregnant before the age of 20. Teenpregnancy.org, a site managed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, states that there are "750,000 teen pregnancies annually. Eight in ten of these pregnancies are unintended and 81 percent are to unmarried teens.""

Cube June 6 2009 10:51 PM EDT

'I find it silly to think people engaging in the action of reproduction do not consider the possibility that it could result in reproducing.'

You and I both know that they aren't calling it 'the act of reproduction'. Nor is that where they're minds are at the time.

Not to mention, there are far more benefits to sex than just reproduction. Mental and physical.

DarkPrince June 6 2009 11:15 PM EDT

QBRanger May 29 3:01 PM EDT The simplest of all:

I think therefore I am.

Ranger has it on the dot.

Why are you trying to justify your existence? If one has to justify his existence then he feels or doubts that he is worthy of the gift of life. Else why would one need to think of reasons to explain why he should be living? An example to explain this is when some males feel insecure of their so-called 'manliness', they try to pick fights with other males to prove they are tough, they are a 'man'. If he was so sure that he was 'manly' then why would he need to prove it? The act itself proves quite the opposite.

I understand that there are many stupid people in this world. Sometimes I question the purpose of their existence and wish they would cease to exist. But who are we to judge whether their lives are of meaning or not? The meaning of life is so subjective and only pertains to the individual. What may be meaningful to you may not be meaningful to me.

PS: If there weren't these unworthy people living then how would those of worthiness be recognized? For there to be winners there has to be losers. For there to be smart people there has to be stupid people.

DarkPrince June 6 2009 11:32 PM EDT

I apologize for double posting.

Verifex: I agree with your statement that those who can think critically will be able to make better decisions. But how many of us actually uses our critical thinking on a daily basis? Most people in our society nowadays uses 'group think' instead. I think the latter of your criteria is more important when making decisions.

Also, I like to point out that the so-called 'greater good' is almost always determined by a few individuals. How many times does these decisions for the 'greater good' made by a minority of individuals actually benefit everyone? I'd rather make my own decisions rather than allowing others determine what is for my own good. Would you like a select few to make decisions and then imposing their decisions upon you, telling you that it's for your own good? I'd doubt it unless you prefer being in the cave (reference to allegory of the cave) or a puppet.

Rawr June 6 2009 11:38 PM EDT

In retrospect, I suppose I mean this:

Those who make poor decisions naturally are worse off than those who make wise decisions. Whether or not one or the other deserves EXTRA resources, via government or whatever, is probably an impossible thing to judge. Almost impossible, anyways.

DarkPrince June 6 2009 11:47 PM EDT

Rawr: LOL! I hate to burst your bubble. But the government does have standards to judge whether or not you are eligible to attain resources from it. It may not be the standard that Verifex wishes to impose or believes should be the standard, but nonetheless it is a form a judgment therefore it is not impossible. Theoretically the ability to think critically can be applied as a standard to attain assistance or resources from the government (yes, you can test people's ability to think critically. Just look at the LSATs). But whether or not it'll ever happen is a whole other discussion.

Cube June 7 2009 12:06 AM EDT

And I'm saying is I'd like to think that for the most part it works out. Of course government intervention wouldn't work.

Froy June 8 2009 12:26 AM EDT

We're all slaves.

Dave's The Man June 12 2009 1:31 AM EDT

I don't like to be the party blooper, but all of you who said some were (certainly) more deserving than others or that no one is (certainly) more deserving than the other are all wrong, and here is why:
There is no absolute truth over what "deserving" means. Therefore, the simple act of implying certainty over what is to be distributed is wrong, and implying that a certain criteria can be used to determine this distribution is also again wrong. We can only presume, without getting rid of doubt, things like this, all this being ruled by logic.
But yet again, who ever managed to prove that logic is the system to be used in such matters? What about faith and subjective feelings? Who ever proved that arguments had to be objective?

Brakke Bres [Ow man] June 12 2009 9:45 AM EDT

I don't have to justify my existence on this planet, its not my fault I was born.

The desire of people to have children is fundamental for everyone. Its what you do in your life that counts.

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