Oy. I'm not going to use the quote function because I am not quite sure at the moment where I want to start. Take a breath, Lou, take a breath.
, there is a problem, because unlike many matters in philosophy, ethics is not merely a theoretical process. I presented those situations to better help Argen
understand what I meant about responsibility.
Though you and Zetetic
may think that (a) autonomy is illusory and (b) responsibility is illusory (respectively, of course), it is not so within the majority of the Western populace, or with the legislators who help to make life for the mentally ill better (or worse). So, in the end, my statements on the matter of mental illness and ethics is (and will continue to be as I further my knowledge on the subject) of a political nature.
I am working within the framework of the common conceptions of Western society, as I had said before. It is my intent to critique these theories and their implications to how people act toward the mentally ill.
Therefore, I would say that:
(a) The mentally ill have been (and continue to be) mistreated in ways that we would not treat non-mentally ill persons.
(b) This mistreatment is due to a perception of the mentally ill which dehumanizes them.
(c) Part of this dehumanization is a result of the slipperiness of rights theory and the question of who obtains rights and who does not.
(d)We ought to look into rights theory and critique it in regards to the way it emphasizes the quality of agency as a quality for ethical consideration--that is, for that human being to be added into the ethical equation.
I'm not sure if this clarifies what I am getting at, but perhaps it will help.
As to autonomy, as aforesaid, I am of accord that if not illusory, there never can be a complete autonomy--that's a fairy tale.
But on the other hand, autonomy and agency are often cited by others of our era who wish to give or to take away rights (which, I do say are themselves mythological) from human beings.
The essence of my debate is a debate dealing with the mentally ill and rights.
As for what Zetetic
has said in regards to my argument, I am certainly of the mind that responsibility is a solid concept, or rather, something that has a positive existential value. However, I would not have a problem with a person who said that though they perceive responsibility as another fable, the illusion of it is necessary. For me, the result is the same, so I do not (for the sake of this introduction thread) really have any criticism to level against it.
Furthermore, I am not quite sure if anyone is quite grasping what I am saying. I admit myself that it is rather tricky, particularly since it is not a subject often discussed.
As for the subject of abortion, I only used it as a sort of parallel so that people could (hopefully) better see what I am getting at. I am not, to be frank, rather comfortable arguing about it because (a) Most arguments on abortion tend to get into the ad hominem realm (not that yours was nearing that), (b) My views on the matter are such that I am not quite comfortable revealing them, and (c) I am not fond of arguments in which no-one changes their mind, or is willing to see the vitality of the other position. Unfortunately, that is how it often is with the abortion debate.
About mental illness and potential for making an impact on the world, I would say that I am in no way against this or that I believe it has not or will not happen. I myself have bipolar illness, and I am well aware of people with bipolar illness who have made contributions to the world (e.g., Kay Jamison--the foremost authority on bipolar illness, and Ernest Hemmingway, among others).
What I am trying to say is that these people, who do on occasion have untoward behaviors and do act unethically as a result of their condition, are not seen as viable moral entities. And this is because their agency is marred by their disease, again, according to strict rights theory.
Furthermore, my end in starting this conversation is (certainly in the main) to hope that by writing on this matter I might help improve the way the mentally ill are perceived and treated, if only in an indirect and very small way.
I think that you have addressed several of the points within what I have been talking about and I thank you for your input, to be sure. I am not sure that I could call my position "dogmatic" but as aforesaid, I do not see things as arbitrary. I come from a Kantian background and have studied ethics like some people ritually follow some of their favorite television programs. I am well aware of what is out there and to me, a Kantian ethic (though with some editing, I will confess) makes the most sense to me.
Edit: I am both flattered and surprised that my introductory post would receive such a response!