I don't like the conclusion people are reaching here, and I'll explain why.
At the end of the day, there are two facets to the euthanasia issue. The first seems grounded in kindness, and aims at sparing a living thing pain and suffering. The second is based on greed and ruthless objectivity, objectivity which I think is misplaced.
Science and mathematics give us beautiful objectivity, cleanly cutting through complicated issues and painting a black and white picture of how the universe works. They remove sides in issues, separate true things from the false, and most importantly, they neutrally determine the real, actual facts. There's never room for debate with a scientific conclusion, since everyone can run the same experiment or do the same derivation and get the same answer. This gives us a power, which we can use to do everything from build machines that fly to the moon, to see inside the smallest things in the universe. We can make medicines that help people live long and happy lives, grow more food so fewer people go hungry, and tie ourselves closer together through devices like the internet.
Looking at these things, and all the good our objective work has done in the last hundred years alone, it's easy to conclude that that's all there is. It's easy to say that it's a guide to our morality, and we can use the same precision and neutrality to decide things like whether abortion is ok, whether animals should have rights, and even less controversial everyday things like how to treat other people.
There's a fatal mistake in this line of reasoning.
Science is neutral and objective. This neutrality is what gives it power, but it never says anything about how it should be used. Nuclear physics gave us chemotherapy that help children with leukaemia survive, and the exact same equations and understanding gives us terrible weapons which can kill millions in an instant. Classical mechanics gives us equations we can use to explore the solar system, but the same equations give us ballistic missiles which fly through space and crash, killing hundreds or thousands of people. Biology and chemistry make medicines which keep us healthy, and they also make poisons which make people sick.
Something gets lost when we strip a situation down to the bare, scientifically relevant. Equations are cold things, they don't come painted with emotions, desires, intentions, or anything that their creator felt when they were written down or discovered. They only tell us what, how, and sometimes, why. They're tools and facts, nothing more. I find aesthetic beauty in them, but that's my perception. You might think differently.
What I think is this: when we take a tool that's been specifically designed to remove every trace of humanity and emotion from what it's used on, and then apply it to a situation *heavily rooted* and *about* emotion and kindness, we're not using the tool for the right purpose. It's a misapplication of something that wasn't ever intended to be used on the subjective, many times un-defined or under-defined, and logically fuzzy world of human emotions and ethics.
You can't capture a beautiful sunset in an equation, model the love of a mother for her child, or place a metric on a human being. You can't place a least upper bound on friendship, measure kindness, or control empathy. You can't distil joy, derive sadness, or even find it's causes most of the time.
Science is a tool, a beautiful language and set of knowledge which helps us. It can also be a deadly weapon and our biggest downfall, but which is which is entirely up to us. We're removed ourselves from the picture by it's very definition, it is dangerous and inappropriate to try to use it to probe exactly what it was engineered to throw away.
It's easy to use it as a justification for a conclusion which is convenient for the person making the argument. Economically beneficial to kill those who couldn't ever do a job? No doubt, the numbers can't and don't lie. Is this something we should do? Science returns the answer NULL when it's asked this question. We've gotten nowhere ethically, all we know is what the consequences are.
Social Darwinism was a sad and terrible bastardization of Darwin's theory of evolution. By modelling how we treat other people after how animal populations interact, grow and die in the wild, we killed a critical part of what makes us human. Animal populations are things you can write as numbers, equations, and condense down to the language of science. People populations are as well, but these equations don't tell you anything about what's *right* and *wrong*. They only tell you *what* and *how*. Seeing that this is *how* some system in the universe works doesn't give you moral permission to use it and appeal to it's natural-ness. It's just the way it is, nothing more, and nothing less. Social Darwinism lead to ethically justified racism, classism, and imperialism. These things are almost universally rejected today.
What I'm saying is this: embrace the precision, the theory, the facts. Use the power that science and math give us to do great things, but always keep a clear sharp line drawn on the ground between what it can and can't do. Science lets us know what this is, that's one of it's great achievements. Don't step over this line, or you might do things that kill our humanity and reduce us to cold, heartless machines.
Lookit that. Costs a fucking fortune to keep it alive. For what? I mean, besides loaning her out to circuses.
I could feel love for her. Why can't you?
This post has been edited by Starwatcher: 02 March 2012 - 09:44 PM