Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Harm Principle

The Case for “Death with Dignity”

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year old newlywed, recently learned that she has terminal brain cancer. Brain cancer is an awful way to die–sufferers often experience morphine-resistant pain, personality changes, and loss cognitive and motor skills. So she decided to relocate to Oregon, one of 5 US states that has a “death with dignity” law, allowing people with terminal disease to commit assisted suicide. On November 1, she intends to kill herself. Should euthanasia be permitted? Under what circumstances might it be ethical? These are the questions I pursue today.

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Reject the Fat Acceptance Movement

As waistlines have expanded in the western world, we’re seeing a push for “fat acceptance”. This movement takes the view that society unfairly discriminates against fat people on arbitrary grounds, that being fat is a legitimate way of being that should be no more open to criticism than being gay or being black. As the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) puts it, “we come in all sizes”. While the Fat Acceptance Movement identifies some genuine problems in our society, its answers to these problems are wholly inadequate.

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The Lottery and Reverse Redistribution

I recently read a Salon article by Natasha Lennard drawing attention to the statistical tendency for lottery tickets to be purchased in quite disproportionate numbers by the poorest in society. The article brings up several interesting statistics–households that earn $13,000 or less in the United States spend an average of 9% of their income on lottery tickets, people who feel poor buy twice as many lottery tickets as those who do not, and those earning less than $40,000 in South Carolina make up 54% of the state’s lottery players despite only constituting 28% of its total population. This brings forward to my mind the question of whether or not it is ethical to permit the poor to voluntarily give significant portions of their income to the government so that statistically negligible numbers of them might get extremely lucky and hit it rich.

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