Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ideas CC struggles with

1. Transhumanism.
You can now get laser eye surgery to make your eyes much better than the average person's. Baseball players can get surgery that rearranges the muscles in their arms to make their pitching better.

Yes, it's probably "playing God" in the classic mad scientist sense. But it might be that the next step in human evolution will come from our inventions and if we close the door on such things, we're closing the door on making a world of smarter, stronger, people.

Should lines be drawn in what we can do to our bodies? Where should that line be? And what about genetic engineering?

2. Race
I've had it pointed out to me that race doesn’t exist at all. I mean, we’d likely agree that someone from France and someone from India are different races.
But are people from India and Pakistan different races?
Pakistan and Turkey?
How about Turkey and Greece?
Greece and Italy?
Italy and… we're in France.

When people look obviously different in large groups, we can make these distinctions. But when it comes to drawing the line necessary for "race" to be a useful definition, our ability to classify breaks down.

3. OK, one more. CC has to go to work.

Mental illness in poor people.

Judging by the people asking me for money every time I get off the subway, our treatment of the mentally ill isn't working. My aunt's best friend is the former president of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and she plaes the blame soundly on Ronald Reagan with his policy of lowering standards to release people from mental hospitals so he could save money and close a few.

I don't know. But I do know that something needs to be done. Furthermore, literally nobody I've ever known who was taking medication for mental illness was perfect about it. If society gives somebody a place to live and a job, should we be able to legally force them to take their medication?

It seems like taking away their freedom to say "Yes," but it seems like a possibly huge waste of societal resources to say "no."

And furthermore, a mentally ill poor person is more likely to have trouble keeping their paperwork filled out, keeping a job and staying away from crime and drugs. (Not a moral judgement, but a practical one I think. Lots of mental illnesses have impulsivity and not living by society's standards attached, or are so very painful that drugs may seem like a good escape. )

To what degree does society have a duty to "chase them down" and help them out? Not letting anybody slip through the cracks sounds like a terribly expensive proposition. But as I get off the subway and walk past people, I do wonder if they couldn't be more useful to society working?

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