Thursday, April 13, 2006

More on the Value of Human Beings

I have previously stated that I do believe in some starting fundamenltal equality of human beings (the final value can be greater or lesser depending on how they effect other people - in other words, we all have equal intrinsic value, our instrumental value varies).

Nonetheless, this doesn't mean that people ought to act as if all people have equal value in all cases. The "equal value" is based on God's point-of-view (which I truly believe in, although to some it is just a metaphor). I think that valuing the members of one's own family or one's own country more than those who are unrelated or foreign is perfectly acceptable.

How does this square with my notions of equality?

Simple. Because it is reciprocal.

I don't think that in some cosmic sense that my family is more valuable than another's. I just think that they are more valuable to me and that the greatest good for all is ultimately achieved by my behaving as if they were more valuable. Likewise, I would expect someone fom another family to feel the same way about his or her family.

Likewise, in foreign policy I feel that, all else being equal, I ought to hold American lives more dear than foreign ones (which does not necessarily mean that foreign ones are worhtless; sacrificing one American to save three hundred Iraqis is not necessarily a bad trade, and sacrificing five American soldiers to save an Iraqi who has a high instrumental value [say, he can get a group of other Iraqis to sop attacking us] may make sense).

Does that mean that I think that Americans are more valuable in an objective sense? No. Because I think that it would be perfectly appropriate for a French soldier to save French people or to pursue French interests before he pursues American ones. And French people ought to be more valuable to aa French person. In the end, this is better for all of us.

This is not to aruge that these are absolute principles. There are cases in which treason to one's own is morally better than "Sticking with one's own kind." It would be very moral for a German to be a traitor during World War II, for example. But in general I think that having a greater love for one's own, combined with a respect for those not one's own having a greater love for their own, is appropriate.

Of course, this brings up the question of who is "one's own?" Personally, I think that for the most part, when all else is equal nationality ought to trump race (Citizenism) but not one's immediate or near-immediate family. Where shared ideology fits in is largely dependent on what and how different the ideologies are.

That is all.

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