Grounding for the Metaphysics of Introductions

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Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 01:03 pm
Hello,

I have but just graduated from a women's liberal arts college with a BA in Philosophy. My areas of focus are Kantian ethics as well as the ethics of mental illness. It is my intention to take these ideas with me to graduate school.

My philosophical favorites include Marx, Kierkegaard, Christine de Pizan, Beauvoir, Parmenides, and Augustine. I have a historical background, but I am also interested in normative ethics and their applications. Furthermore, I am of a Continental frame of mind, so be forewarned!

I look forward to meeting all of you.

LS
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 02:30 pm
@LouSalome,
LouSalome,Smile

:)Sorry you just will not do!------------just kidding!!Wink You sound like a most interesting individual, I am unsure with all those ingredients what the emergent philosophical quality will be, but I would bet it is impressive. We are happy you have chosen to join us LouSalome, relax make yourself at home, and think about making your first post. boagie:D
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 02:33 pm
@boagie,
Thankee indeed. I am nothing if not eclectic, to be sure. And heh...already made my first post...I'm still looking for a good thread to argue on, philosophically. I hate coming in in media res.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 04:05 pm
@LouSalome,
Pleased to meet you LouSalome. I was just wondering what exactly you mean by 'ethics of mental illness'?
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 04:45 pm
@Arjen,
Sure. I wrote my honors thesis about it.

It is certainly difficult to explain to people within the field of philosophy because the subject has not exactly been touched by philosophy. I can list how I perceive what I call the ethics of mental illness.

(1) Do the mentally ill fit within the ethical sphere, that is, do they meet the requirements of the ethical systems under which our society works. I chose, for simplicity, deontology and rights theory.

(2) If they do not (which I am afraid is the case, because those with mental illness are neither autonomous nor agents), then how can we make it such that they can engage in the system or be engaged.

(3) Therefore, ought we to trash the mentally ill and disregard them as we do when it comes to abortion and euthanasia (simply because those entities do not meet the qualifications of autonomy and agency), or ought we to rethink how we see these two theories?

(4) Finally, there is also the question of if a person within a particular state (e.g. the bipolar person in a state of mania) can actually be moral. If that is not the case, then what happens when the person lapses out of the episode?

Anyway, that's what I'm talking about when I talk about ethics and mental illness.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 12 Jun, 2008 10:24 pm
@LouSalome,
Would you think psychosis a state in which a person can no longer be thought of as not being able to be moral?
 
urangutan
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 07:23 am
@Arjen,
Assured diagnosis and medication. Kind of reminds me of the movie House Of Cards, crossed with Benny and June.

G'day LouSalome.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 08:57 am
@LouSalome,
LouSalome,Smile

:)In essence it comes down to, can you or should you hold someone responsiable, who could not be said to be self-responsiable---or is that an over simplification? None of us are autonomous relative to our context, those who cannot be held accountable for their actions require an extra measure of control.
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 12:34 pm
@boagie,
I've been having problems with posting, unfortunately.

Anyway, I would like to address boagie first, because I think his (assuming) comment relates to what Arjen is questioning.

You're right that none of us are completely autonomous. And we're not even partially autonomous at times. For instance, when we are sleeping, we are not autonomous. This is a part of my critique of rights theory (which uses the notion of autonomy as well as in Kantian deontology--but uses it more aggressively).

Within rights theory (which I am sure you know is very, very popular--i.e. "You can't do this because I have a right to this!" or "You don't have the right to do that!"), agency--being able to act in the world and make one's own decisions in a completely rational manner--is the prime quality that a rights bearer must have. This is precisely why there are so many arguments about abortion (moreso than a hundred years ago)--because the rights theorists are questioning the agency (and therefore ethical relevancy) of the infant/fetus/whatever term you care to use.

Now, this, I think (though not as in as strong a way as in relation to abortion) is also a factor with people who have mental illnesses. Like the unborn child, they too are considered irrelevant when it comes to formulating and ethical scenario concerning them.

Having said this, I think there are two ethical viewpoints--the out and the in ethics. That is, how you act toward others and how they act toward you. I was, of course, just talking about the "in," which was what I wanted to deal with in my honors thesis at first.

Responsibility, which is, for me, a bit more difficult at times, addresses the "out" aspect. I think that, when it comes to someone with psychosis, the answer is simple, one cannot hold them responsible because of the illness which is preventing them from acting in even a simple or basic ethical manner.

I give you a scenario. A schizophrenic woman has the delusion that her roommate was sent by the aliens to kill her. In addition, she hears voices in her head which command her that she ought to take action to defend herself. She therefore takes up a knife and stabs her roommate multiple times.

There is a difference between that, and this:

A woman has hated her roommate since the moment she moved in. He's been disgusting, invites his loud friends over, and sexually harasses her on a routine basis. She decides to move out, but decides as well, that a little going away present would be nice, so she stabs her roommate to death, making sure to clean the weapon, and goes about her business as though nothing had happened.

Of course, within the United States judicial system, there is an insanity defense, which can (and optimally should hold) for people committing crimes in a state of psychosis.

But I think, regardless of legality, you can see the difference between the two. In the first, in a sense, the woman has little to no control over what occurs. In the second, the woman plans the killing and acts it out in a (at least mildly) rational frame of mind.

I have no idea if this is answering things, but I hope it helps.
 
boagie
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 01:08 pm
@LouSalome,
LouSalome;Smile

I am unsure what the problem is, one is a person who has no self-control due to her illness, thus no responsiablity for what she does, the other, a self responsible person who commits premeditated murder. You might have difficulty with this but, there is no such thing as autonomy, that which you consider liberties are in accord with context[ society] autonomy infers freedom from, what are you free from, violate your context and you will be held accountable.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 02:55 pm
@boagie,
I myself am a compatiblist and I gave reason for disregarding the incompatiblist view in a prior thread. I consider responsibility to be to be an illusion that must be treated as a reality as we cannot use the deterministic quality of the universe to determine how we should act and we cannot simply act on impulse as we are compelled to act rationally to avert dangerous and unforseen circumstances as best we can, there is a carefull balance between our compulsions but the compulsion to self preserve is the most basic and pervasive aspect of natural condition, thus all moral grounds should be built upon self preservation which translates to preservation of the species and a moral framework for a society of compromise.

I am not sure what your point is, but I have this to say of my inference of it based upon your writing:In a sense the mentally ill person is a potentially rational i.e. mentally well person. In the same token, a fetus is potentially a competent person, however it is nonsensical to consider every egg and sperm sacred as they biologically recycle or terminate. Once they are combined however, there is no such self destruct mechanism and thus there is little basis in its disposability besides medical reasons or personal convenience( in the case of the latter it is very difficult to justify for the being inside of the woman is not of only her but her mate as well and of its own so the my body my choice argument fall apart unless the former is proven(medical need)).
In light of this, a potential should not be terminated on the assumtion that it will not develop for this is not the general case, there are treatments and these people are still potentially productive, just look at John Nash, he was probably of more import to human development than nearly anyone on this forum will ever be (I only say nearly to allow for the slim possibility of the falsehood of that statement) and delt with his schizophrenia. This is why eugenics fall apart, it is essentially along the same lines of A Modest Proposal.
The best we can do is try to provide a place for the afflicted individuals to go when it is not safe for them to be unsupervised in society and develop treatments to help these people fit within the arbitrarily chosen artificial norms of our society which we hope maximize positive outcome(greatest degree of furtherence of species).
Im not sure if this helps or even adresses the line of thought that you are presenting. Judging by your chioce of philosophers and focus areas I fear that you may have a very dogmatic stance on ethics and morality which I consider nonsensical unless you conjunctly acknowledge the arbitrary nature of your stance and that self preservation being the best choice to simply be an arbitrary point upon which most agree due to similar instinctual urges and desires.
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Fri 13 Jun, 2008 07:33 pm
@Zetetic11235,
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.

First, boagie, 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!
 
Justin
 
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2008 05:31 am
@LouSalome,
Welcome Lou! Looks like you're jumping right in. Glad you signed up and hope you enjoy the forums.

Let's limit this discussion by starting a thread that is more specific. We don't want to carry out long discussions in the intro forum.
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2008 12:45 pm
@Justin,
This is true. That's what I was thinking, but I guess I opened a can of worms. (I didn't mean to, upon my honor!) I'd be more than willing to start a thread on the topic if anyone else thought it was interesting enough to do so.

Thanks for the welcome.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2008 02:44 pm
@LouSalome,
LouSalome wrote:
This is true. That's what I was thinking, but I guess I opened a can of worms. (I didn't mean to, upon my honor!) I'd be more than willing to start a thread on the topic if anyone else thought it was interesting enough to do so.

Thanks for the welcome.

I'd be more then interested in a topic on what you would call mentally ill and from there we can get to how these people are treated and how they should be treated..if you'd like.

Smile
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2008 07:23 pm
@Arjen,
Sure. Not sure where I would put it, and furthermore, not sure if I am wanting to talk about it at the moment. I'm glad to have my views challenged but it can surely be exhausting. I'm sure if I can have a few days of respite and suggestions as to where this ought to go, I'll be good.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2008 02:10 pm
@LouSalome,
LouSalome:Though you and Zetetic may think that (a) autonomy is illusory and (b) responsibility is illusory (respectively, of course),
Not True, I clearly stated that I was a compatiblist, responsibility must be taken as a solid fact, we cannot apply determinism as a directive for our actions, it is imposssible. I agree though, with point (a); it seems to be the only thing which makes sense in the physical framework of the universe.
 
LouSalome
 
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2008 05:29 pm
@Zetetic11235,
I welcome you, Zetetic to continue this discussion in another forum, to be sure. As the moderators have mentioned, this is an introduction thread and not an argumentation thread.

I thank you for your response and would like to hear your explaination of compatibalism, but I do not think this is the appropriate place to do it. Thanks.
 
 

 
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