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What is Your Intrinsic Value?

Posted by on Jun. 20, 2014 at 1:19 AM
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What is your intrinsic value?

I have a sister-in-law whose mentally handicapped. She doesn't work, she can only live for herself. What purpose does her life serve? She can't be what we consider productive, so does she have any intrinsic value as a human being?

I certainly believe so!

She has been the object of her mother's affection for decades. She has given other people purpose. She has offered other people love. She has been loved. Perhaps she's even given various people in her life, a perspective that has enhanced their life experience.

What about you?

Do you work? Is your career what makes you productive? Would you be worth anything if you didn't have a job?

Of course you would! And intellectually, you know it. But do you live your life that way? Do you feel it?

Every passing day, you live out a schedule, or try to. You have short term goals all meant to satisfy long term goals. Or maybe not. Maybe you live moment to moment. Regardless, each day, you have some kind of purpose. But maybe that's not your value. Your intrinsic value is simply in your actual, physical existence.

Each daily interaction, more than happenstance. Conversations, thoughts, feelings, relationships with others wound around something substantial and not mere coincidence.

There is an element of "being" that means something in and of itself. Like a painting that exists and 'says' something, but has no practical function.

Could our whole lives be a culmination of this essence we call ourselves, like a collection of artwork in a museum, rolled into one being that is you? Your body, mind, psyche a thumbprint on time, an addition to some collective expression?

When we lable ourselves this, or we label ourselves that, aren't we really just summing up a vast array of human-ness in a short syllabic, anecdotal peice of our entire selves? We are just skimming the waves of an ocean that runs leagues deep, neglecting that we are more than just a projection of what others see us as in perhaps a breif, fluctuating moment.

So you are not doctor, nurse, insurance salesperson, customer service rep, lab technician, bank teller, school teacher, car mechanic, geologist, engineer, school bus driver, receptionist. You are that person who someone loves, who gives love, who creates, who shares, who helps, who cares for.

Instead of asking children "what do you want to be when you grow up" we should instead ask them, "Who are you now?"

And we could answer, "You are somebody I love."

Perhaps love is inherently productive. Perhaps our intrinsic value is love.

Your intrinsic value, you can't earn. You can't buy it. You can't work for it. You don't produce it.

It just comes with you, you're born with it. It is you.

Where do you stand on this philosophical argument? Do you have intrinsic value ? Or are you only worth what works you can accomplish within your lifetime?

 

by on Jun. 20, 2014 at 1:19 AM
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Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 2:35 AM
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Quoting buttersworth:

What is your intrinsic value?

Where do you stand on this philosophical argument?

Good topic!

Some of my intrinsic value comes from being a living creature who can experience pleasure/pain and happiness/unhappiness.   The same reason why it is wrong to gratuitously torture cats and dogs.

On top of that, I also have some additional intrinsic value from being a person - a unique sentient/sapient/self-conscious/self-aware being who wants to be happy, and is aware of wanting that and who understands future threats to it, and the concept of fair/unfair, ethical/unethical.   The same reason why it would be wrong to gratuitously torture a peaceful alien, such as from the film E.T., or even just treat them as an object to experiment upon whose own opinions don't count.

That my DNA happens to be that of Homo sapiens sapiens, rather than an uplifted dolphin, or a Vulcan from Star Trek, is irrelevant, except to other humans, who share a tribal loyalty to their own species, in the same way that a French person might say "My country, right or wong", and save a French person's life over a German person's life if they had to choose when a building burns down.


In addition to my intrinsic value, I hope that I also have extrinsic value.  But that's relative to the group deciding upon my value.   I support myself, in an ethical manner, pay taxes, help out with charities and am nice to people around me (generally).  I take thought for others, when deciding how to spend and invest my money.   I'd like to think that the society I live in would be worse off if I died early.  Not least because my family and some of those who know me, might miss me and grieve.

But life is a cycle.  Am I that amazing, that the grief for my passing would be so much greater than the joy felt by those finding out about a new baby that replaced me in the population?   Am I so charitable that the average amount of charity per person would drop, rather than just the absolute amount?   Do I pay so much tax to society, that it outweighs the burden upon the world from the population being higher than can be currently sustained easily in all resources?


All of which is a separate question from "How much intrinsic value does it make sense for a human society to accord me as having?".   Because there are sound reasons why it might make sense to a legal system to GRANT every adult human as having the same minimum legal rights, even if they actually vary in intrinsic value.   It isn't desirable, for example, to re-write laws to give people in irreversible comas fewer rights, both because the medical profession sometimes diagnoses that incorrectly, and because it would add incentive for them to diagnose it incorrectly.

buttersworth
by Silver Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 3:50 AM

 

Quoting Clairwil:

 

Quoting buttersworth:

What is your intrinsic value?

Where do you stand on this philosophical argument?

Good topic!

Some of my intrinsic value comes from being a living creature who can experience pleasure/pain and happiness/unhappiness.   The same reason why it is wrong to gratuitously torture cats and dogs.

So you say that you are intrinsically valuable because of what you are able to experience? I don't understand how that makes you valuable. I would understand how what you experience would be valuable to you but how does it add value to you?

are you saying that you are a sum total of your experience? are you saying that your existence is dependent upon your experience? Because if you are, then the idea that you're value is dependent on anything contradicts what would be intrinsic

On top of that, I also have some additional intrinsic value from being a person - a unique sentient/sapient/self-conscious/self-aware being who wants to be happy, and is aware of wanting that and who understands future threats to it, and the concept of fair/unfair, ethical/unethical.   The same reason why it would be wrong to gratuitously torture a peaceful alien, such as from the film E.T., or even just treat them as an object to experiment upon whose own opinions don't count.

What I think you're saying here is that your value is actually not intrinsic, but rather, dependent upon something

That my DNA happens to be that of Homo sapiens sapiens, rather than an uplifted dolphin, or a Vulcan from Star Trek, is irrelevant, except to other humans, who share a tribal loyalty to their own species, in the same way that a French person might say "My country, right or wong", and save a French person's life over a German person's life if they had to choose when a building burns down.

What does a tribal loyalty have to do with intrinsic value? It would seem to me, that the concept of loyalty dependent upon a condition would not be exemplary of an appreciation of intrinsic value. The examples you give seem more having to do with external value. Or perhaps, perceived value.

 

In addition to my intrinsic value, I hope that I also have extrinsic value.  But that's relative to the group deciding upon my value.   I support myself, in an ethical manner, pay taxes, help out with charities and am nice to people around me (generally).  I take thought for others, when deciding how to spend and invest my money.   I'd like to think that the society I live in would be worse off if I died early.  Not least because my family and some of those who know me, might miss me and grieve.

I would hope so!

But life is a cycle.

In what way?

What is the beginning, middle and end of the cycle (or, what are the parts of the cycle) ?

 Am I that amazing, that the grief for my passing would be so much greater than the joy felt by those finding out about a new baby that replaced me in the population?  

Perhaps neither would be compared in the case of actual events. After all these would be two distinct events; and each itself is relational to other external factors. Like, who would be grieving? And who would be joyous?

 

 

 Am I so charitable that the average amount of charity per person would drop, rather than just the absolute amount?   Do I pay so much tax to society, that it outweighs the burden upon the world from the population being higher than can be currently sustained easily in all resources?

As you said yourself previously, those extrinsic values would be relative.

First upon those who would judge the value, and second contingent upon irrefutable facts. You would have to prove beyond a doubt first the premise that there is a human burden on the world, and you would also have to definitively prove the premise that there is a finite number of people who could be easily sustained by the earth's resources. Moreover you would have to prove that taxpaying was indeed the solution.

No one has proven these claims. But if one were to prove these claims, it would only bolster a theory regarding extrinsic value and again neglect the intrinsic value. Or at least cast neutrality on it.

 

much intrinsic value does it make sense for a human society to accord me as having?".  

If you have intrinsic value, society does not accord you having it. Intrinsic means it is not accorded by anyone. You don't bring anything to it. It is that it is.

Because there are sound reasons '

which are?

why it might make sense to a legal system to GRANT every adult human as having the same minimum legal rights, even if they actually vary in intrinsic value.  

you can't measure intrinsic value, therefore it cannot be determined that there are variables to it. besides, the characteristics of it excludes it being conditional

 It isn't desirable,

isn't desirable for whom? 

 for example, to re-write laws to give people in irreversible comas fewer rights, both because the medical profession sometimes diagnoses that incorrectly, and because it would add incentive for them to diagnose it incorrectly.

so in this instance it seems you're a proponent of equal rights for humans based upon a system of ethics. but whose ethics? and what of intrinsic value that cannot be measured in a traditional way ?

 

From what I gather, you are saying actually that you do not believe people are intrinsically valuable, because all the examples you give show you ascribing value to yourself for what you've done or can do. So do you believe that people only have value conditional upon others judging it?

 

Meadowchik
by Silver Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 4:02 AM
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We are each born with immeasurable value.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:20 AM


Quoting buttersworth:

you can't measure intrinsic value

Why?

You may be correct.  It depends upon what we decide "intrinsic value" means.

But you seem to be taking it as an axiomatic property, that MUST apply, no matter where we decide intrinsic value comes from.


Would you be willing to distinguish between not being able to measure a particular property of something directly (for example, the temperature of the sun), and yet that property still having a fixed value that might be estimated by indirect means (such as looking at the colour of the light given off by the sun) ?

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:22 AM


Quoting Meadowchik:

We are each born with immeasurable value.

By "immeasurable" in this context, do you mean "immeasurably great"?   As in "so much larger than the value of mere inanimate objects, that we can't meaningfully compare the two" ?

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:28 AM


Quoting buttersworth:
Quoting Clairwil:

That my DNA happens to be that of Homo sapiens sapiens, rather than an uplifted dolphin, or a Vulcan from Star Trek, is irrelevant, except to other humans, who share a tribal loyalty to their own species, in the same way that a French person might say "My country, right or wong", and save a French person's life over a German person's life if they had to choose when a building burns down.


What does a tribal loyalty have to do with intrinsic value? 

Do you think an individual human has greater intrinsic value than an individual chimp?

Why?

What if that particular chimp was more intelligent and more ethical than that that particular human?   (And, yes, at least 1 in 1,000,000 adult humans are less intelligent than the average chimp.)

Are you not showing tribal loyalty to those who share your DNA?

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:33 AM
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Quoting buttersworth:

What I think you're saying here is that your value is actually not intrinsic, but rather, dependent upon something

So are you.

You are saying that a person's value depends upon their species.

Why do you think my species is more fundamentally my nature, than my identity as a being who thinks and feels?


intrinsic (adj.) Look up intrinsic at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "interior, inward, internal," from Middle French intrinsèque "inner" (13c.), from Medieval Latin intrinsecus "interior, internal," from Latin intrinsecus (adv.) "inwardly, on the inside," from intra "within" (see intra-) + secus "alongside," originally "following" (related to sequi "to follow;" see sequel). Meaning "belonging to the nature of a thing" is from 1640s. 
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:36 AM


Quoting buttersworth:

You would have to prove beyond a doubt first the premise that there is a human burden on the world, and you would also have to definitively prove the premise that there is a finite number of people who could be easily sustained by the earth's resources. 

Why is absolute proof required, rather than merely the balance of evidence?

romalove
by Roma on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:43 AM
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We have whatever value we each of us assign ourselves, as well as what value others assign us. There are no absolute answers here.
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2014 at 6:46 AM


Quoting buttersworth:
Quoting Clairwil:

life is a cycle.


In what way?

You've not heard the expression?

It refers to the cycle of procreation, birth, life, death and new births

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