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  1. #1
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Default What's the worth of a person?

    I cruising over the lunch hour, listening to Sly & the Stone and talking to my INTP (probably) friend and we started dancing around this topic. It's common in the Western world to believe that every person is as valuable as another. I believe this because I recognize every one of my fellow species sharing a common experience with one another, each from our own POV. My INTP friend has this conviction that everybody has the same potentiality to affect the world in some way, and that makes us worthy.

    What makes a person worthy? Is everybody worthy in your eyes?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tiger Owl's Avatar
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    Every person has equal worth from conception to death, we have each been created in the likeness of God and human life and worth must be defended. The only thing that changes that is when a person commits heinous acts of violence against others, the perpetrator's worth does not decrease but they must be punished without regard to that worth.
    And I would agree that this mindset is more common in the western nations but in reality it is common anywhere the Judeo-Christian worldview has taken root.

    What you have to ask yourself is - 1. If there were members of our species who did not have common experience with the rest, would you still consider them to have equal worth, why or why not, and is that position resistant to being altered in such a way as to look at some humans as less worthy/less human?
    2. Your friend's point of view, if challenged - If it could be demonstrated that portions of humanity will not have any statistically significant chance of every contributing anything positive to the world or society, that they are a net drain on resources, a burden on the societal structure, do they still have the same worth? Do the needs and resources of the many whom are contributing to their societies and can be demonstrated to have a positive potential impact on the world supersede the inherent worth of those who are/can not contribute? Is that stance a viable defense to atrocities sanctioned by governments using the progressive 'for the greater good' defense.

    I would argue that neither stance is strong enough to convince a 'good' person to stand against all odds and defend the worth of the seemingly worthless, those who drain society and will never likely contribute anything positive. Most genocides, ethnic cleansing and atrocities against our fellow human beings have been justified by those involved and those who turned a blind eye through different perversions of the aforementioned by you definitions of human worth.
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  3. #3
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by earthtrekker1775 View Post
    ...
    What you have to ask yourself is - 1. If there were members of our species who did not have common experience with the rest, would you still consider them to have equal worth, why or why not, and is that position resistant to being altered in such a way as to look at some humans as less worthy/less human?
    Another thought that came to mind was whether I had to ask myself anything at all. I often wonder and doubt as to whether my thought any subject actually matters.. that would be the subject of a different thread.

    Anyway, what would be the lowest common denominator for something to be worthy in my eyes? I'm not exactly sure. I think it's just an fuzzily defined ability to be tied into the world in the same way that I am, to have hopes and experience pain. And also things that symbolise humanity shold be ascribed some sort of worth. Mostly it's just another set of very interesting questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by earthtrekker1775 View Post
    2. Your friend's point of view, if challenged - If it could be demonstrated that portions of humanity will not have any statistically significant chance of every contributing anything positive to the world or society, that they are a net drain on resources, a burden on the societal structure, do they still have the same worth? Do the needs and resources of the many whom are contributing to their societies and can be demonstrated to have a positive potential impact on the world supersede the inherent worth of those who are/can not contribute? Is that stance a viable defense to atrocities sanctioned by governments using the progressive 'for the greater good' defense.

    I would argue that neither stance is strong enough to convince a 'good' person to stand against all odds and defend the worth of the seemingly worthless, those who drain society and will never likely contribute anything positive. Most genocides, ethnic cleansing and atrocities against our fellow human beings have been justified by those involved and those who turned a blind eye through different perversions of the aforementioned by you definitions of human worth.
    My friend's view has a lot to do with what he has to believe about his career as a foster parent. He wants to believe that even taking in a child who could've ended up in prison, but instead will live in an apartment and work in a low income job has as a long lasting impact on society as fostering a child who'll accomplish 'great things'.

    I guess to address your other topic. What does having worth afford a person, is it defending somebody at all costs? Not necessarily. I guess the things I do with other people of worth is to not arbritrarily deny them the right to life and to contribute to soceity.

  4. #4
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    since nobody can ever know what a person is capable of or what the future may bring I would say that the safest assumption would be to mark all people as being of equal worth
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  5. #5
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    Potentially, yes, I think people have an equal potential to effect the world via different means. Idealistically, people's lives can be viewed as an equal essence( that is, not the individual themselves, but rather what makes them human-->basic human functions), in that sense, we are all equal.

    If you view this in a literal sense: Economically, genetically, and fiscally.
    People are not equal. Just look at human history: it's insistence on using titles and statuses, class warfare, and employment, or the most basic of human groupings, a tribe.
    I think there is a general standard that would lead to one person being viewed as more valuable than the other, mainly by the skill-set or their 'offerings' that might be beneficial to the tribe or a potential mate.
    If you think of it as a job type scenario, an employer is more likely to find worth in a employee that has the specified degree, is well tempered, healthy, etc, than an individual who lacks all of these things but offers different qualities that would be categorized as useless, and possibly "harmful".
    Genetically speaking, naturally, we're still constantly striving to improve as specimens. This means that we are working towards looking for a mate that will give us the best chance to procreate with the best genetic outcome for basic survival.
    The possibility of selection leads to subjective views of what is important to the viewer. The viewer can be a large group of people, or one individual.

    If it comes to a survival scenario, the tribe would pick who they think will help them survive in the long run, and leave who will slow them down behind.

    Where there is selection, there is inequality.

    Edit: To an extent, worth could be measurable if there is a specific standard that everyone is being measured too.

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    Worth is a value judgement; it ultimately has no meaning in any true objective sense and is not something that exists a priori to humanity; rather the worth of a human is dependent on the value of itself as well as other agents. Of course worth can be applied in various ways by different criteria; the value of a worker solely depends on his abilities, but the value of love depends on his character (note: worth here is still based on the subjective desire of people: a skilled worker only has worth to one whom desires him in the first place). Now where value gets tricky is that since it is not an objective force to be properly measured, nor one single entity, how we can attribute it to people is a challenge; worth is essentially, or at least to a certain degree, completely arbitrary and subjective. There also comes the pragmatic issue of what consequences arise from how we determine worth and in what ways we determine it. Thus the safest measure is to ensure that all are assumed equal in the most immediate sense, and that any discrimination of worth should not interfere drastically with their life nor socieatal rights given to them (thus the incompetenet lazy man will not be allowed to be killed nor hurt by society, although businesses will find less worth in him anyway).

  7. #7

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    I'm a humanist and believe that in theory or principle human beings have an intrinsic worth, on the other hand I've got to say that I do not believe that it is an objective fact that all individuals who principally or potentially or possibly have equal worth do. Not for an instant.

    There are plenty of people who have squandered and continue to squander their potential and are objectively worthless individuals, ironically this is most often the case where those individuals have treated others as worthless or only as worthy of exploitation, manipulation or abuse.

  8. #8
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    About SO bucks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Idealist View Post
    Worth is a value judgement; it ultimately has no meaning in any true objective sense and is not something that exists a priori to humanity; rather the worth of a human is dependent on the value of itself as well as other agents.
    Wow there nelly!!

    I dont buy that, not for an instant, there are objective realities besides anyones subjective assessment of them. The extent to which subjective vs. objective evaluations have been overestimated or asserted is something which is nothing normal. In reality opinion accounts for much less than what most people figure and objectivity much more.

    To assert worth (or even worthlessness or simply neutrality) of human kind is something distinctly human, animals dont do that, animals dont possess the consciousness of human kind in order to be able to do that. I'm not talking about communication, basic cognition or language skills, animals may possess those but they dont possess the consciousness which allows humankind to stand apart from nature and pose or comprehend those sorts of questions in the first place.

    Ultimately it could be considered the bane of human kind's existence, living in full knowledge of your eventual fate to die, but it is uniquely human.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Wow there nelly!!

    I dont buy that, not for an instant, there are objective realities besides anyones subjective assessment of them. The extent to which subjective vs. objective evaluations have been overestimated or asserted is something which is nothing normal. In reality opinion accounts for much less than what most people figure and objectivity much more.

    To assert worth (or even worthlessness or simply neutrality) of human kind is something distinctly human, animals dont do that, animals dont possess the consciousness of human kind in order to be able to do that. I'm not talking about communication, basic cognition or language skills, animals may possess those but they dont possess the consciousness which allows humankind to stand apart from nature and pose or comprehend those sorts of questions in the first place.

    Ultimately it could be considered the bane of human kind's existence, living in full knowledge of your eventual fate to die, but it is uniquely human.
    I'm not denying objective reality completely, and clearly objective things do exist and hold great value, but worth, to be worthy of something, or possess worth towards another object, still requires an agent to actively possess worth. However the worth of something can be measured in an objective sense, as I mentioned how one can judge the worth of a worker by an objective criteria, but without the desire of a person assessing that worker's worth, then worth of him is essentially meaningless.

    Or, perhaps worth can objectively exist, but without agents to utilize and assess worthiness of other things, it essentially has no real meaning to it.

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