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PostSubject: ESTIPONA Questions for the Third Exam   ESTIPONA Questions for the Third Exam Icon_minitimeSun Mar 29, 2009 11:26 pm

1. What could be the underlying reason/s or principles in the practice of (encouraging) the creation of advance directives and living will?

2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.
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Estipona [J]

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PostSubject: Re: ESTIPONA Questions for the Third Exam   ESTIPONA Questions for the Third Exam Icon_minitimeMon Mar 30, 2009 8:33 pm


Before anything else, it should be noted that the terms living will and advance directive should not be considered as interchangeable. Living will is only a form of the advance directive, which means that the latter could described as the generic definition, while the former, the specific. In any case, the definition does not really matter, since they both carry the same underlying theme for their purpose, which would be to inform. Simply put, an advance directive is crafted to inform the immediate people around the author of specific instructions that he/she wants them to take in the event that he/she could not make any logical decisions for him/herself anymore. This idea has gained increasing popularity in the last few years among those diagnosed to be terminally ill and bedridden, though it was supposed to have existed even as early as 1969. Around in the 1980s, people were supposedly unaware of the fact that these forms of deathbed formalities existed; it was only in the late 90s that people actually began to employ law firms to settle this kind of legal process. However, an interesting thing to note here is that those statistics probably apply only to the United States. Back here in the Philippines, the advance directive is relatively unknown to the general public. Why would this be so? For one thing, majority of the Filipino people have no use for such a triviality. More often than not, people who create living wills have something material that they wish to share with members of their family: money, property, some account that they haven’t settled before they got bedridden. In a sense, this kind of process would be only applicable to those who can actually use it. The average Filipino’s concerns would not encompass anything truly significant enough to even consider paying a lawyer to assist in the creation of living will. Being a true pragmatist, he would probably ask, “Who would want to hire somebody just to write what I want on a piece of paper?” Yet, in the present times the practice of such is being encouraged to a considerable extent. Why is this so?
In the first place, one would not be able to write such a directive if he/she does not possess prior knowledge about his condition. The word “advance” in the advance directive implies that the author would like address something that would happen in the future. The future, as we all know, is not just something that can be predicted by anyone. In fact, it something not meant to be predicted at all. But, in the case of the medical profession, certain technological advances have been made that enable the person to accurately predict the circumstances that will befall him/her regarding their medical condition. This fact may possibly explain the reason why people begin to write directives that address the future; because they have been given a sense of certainty. In early times, when the medical institution was not yet given that developed, people had no certainty as to the exact moment when they will die. As it happens, because they have no certainty, they choose to live life as they go, without worrying as to what the future can possibly hold. Being certain about something would entail the desire, or to be more precise, the feeling of being responsible for the manifestation of that future. Certainty is what dictates to some extent the decisions that we make, for if we act based on certain set of circumstances, then we are more likely to follow that plan because we see some sort of goal in the end. The end in the discussion of living will is that of death. Because they see death as something palpable, or something that they can grasp within their hands, they see the need to prepare for the moment when it will actually come. It is no small wonder that most of the people that see fit to write an advance directive are those whose conditions are diagnosed to be near-death, or if not, terminally ill.
The knowledge of certainty can probably be attributed to the fact, but not necessarily the reason. People write such things when they die for different reasons and for different purposes. But to an objective observer, one cannot help but notice the similarity of the things people write down in their living wills. More often than not, almost everything that living wills address pertain to some material inheritance or dispute issue that the author would like to see resolved after his/her death. Of course, one can justify that similarity by saying that it is a legal document after all, and mushy stuff such as love, affection, and personal messages would be best left to a letter of some sorts. An interesting question to pose here would be: is the reason for this prevalence of living will decisions due to the fact that people everywhere are becoming more materialistic? If you think about it, there would be no actual need for a living will, apart from resolving some issues with family, friends, or relatives that can be discussed even without the interference of some legal body. It just so happens that because of the idea of material possession, which falls under influence of the law and included in most living wills to date, remains such a prevalent phenomenon. Siblings fighting over a piece of land, Husband and wife quarrelling over possession issues, benefactors demanding shares of a beneficiaries’ resources, company executives bickering for acquisition shares that a CEO left undistributed: All of these illustrate to some extent the increasing materialism of people in present times. Advance directives are really not that necessarily, but if the law leaves this kind of conflicts to chance without the original owner to at least delegate some kind of instructions as to the possible distribution of their ownership, then chaos would ensue in the aftermath of the people’s greed. Perhaps it is not so much the existence of the materials, or resources, but the nature of the people’s materialism that drives our institutions to implant these kinds of measures for the sake of peace and order. And in a way, it gives the dying person some semblance of peace to know that he left this world knowing that what his earthly possessions were not the cause of some huge mishap that may befall his close associates.
A moral issue? Perhaps not. After all, everybody has the right to his own opinion, even if that particular person is already dead.


In the first place, I have already determined that I adhere to the Divine Command theory above anything else, yet still consider the fact that morality is relative. However, I feel that I must differentiate my own perception of what is a moral relativist to what the existing body of philosophy considers as a moral relativist.
A simple, yet contradicting description of my moral imperative would be: I am a person that adheres to the Divine Command Theory but believes that morality as perceived by different persons is relative. A common misconception that people will assume here is that I equate truth with morality. What I believe is the truth, and that it applies to my perception of an absolute morality. However, I cannot actually say that the principle of absolute truth applies to each and every person that happens to have his or her own perception of the absolute truth. For me, the truth as I know is absolute, but I cannot impose the same on other people since the concept of autonomy and freedom to choose exists. I am not God, or some entity that transcends normal understanding to determine if something is absolute or not, hence people cannot say that even if I believe in one absolute truth, and they believe otherwise, that my truth is not absolute. Who are they to say that this particular truth is absolute when they themselves have no idea whether a truth is absolute or not? That would be like two people arguing their own depiction of an elephant when both of them have not once seen an elephant in their misbegotten lives. The question of what is absolute may be relative, but the idea that one thing is absolute is indisputable, it just so happens that it is beyond our comprehension to establish that a particular belief is absolute. That fact is what gives us the freedom to believe that what we believe in is the absolute truth, and that we have our own personal decision to continue that belief or not.
That being said, I believe in the concept of choice. I was raised under the principle of “Whosoever will,” meaning even if we consider our belief to be the truth, it is useless to try and force other people to accept our own convictions. In the first place, the basis of our belief is faith, and through the uncertainty that permeates our understanding as to whether our belief is absolute or not, it is the only thing that holds our belief together. If the person chooses to adopt that faith in something that we cannot describe by empirical circumstances, then it is his/her own decision as to whether they would also consider the belief as absolute or not. The fact is, uncertainty is the essential flaw in every existing belief, since we have no way of assuring ourselves of the fact that there is a particular truth to be held. But, it is essentially the faith in your own belief that overrides this uncertainty. Your choice to place your faith in something that is uncertain gives credence to the fact that even if our own understanding of the absolute is limited, we are still free to determine our own definition of absolute; freedom of thought implies freedom to believe. That is how I would like to define the word relative: not by saying that the absolute is relative, but by saying that because absolute itself cannot be understood by our meager understanding, then we are free to try and associate the absolute by what we understand.
Being a moral person is not about belief. If that is so, then even criminals have the right to be morally justified. The operative phrase to be used here is code of conduct. A code is a set of laws and principles that reflect your own belief. But before anyone could claim that he/she is a moral person simply by saying that he/she adheres to his/her own moral principles, it should be noted that because we live in a world where we share our existences with one another, with other people, we must consider the fact that how we operate should coincide with the basic nuances of living here with other people. In short, we must remain true to our beliefs while at the same time considering the welfare of other people. I’m sure that you have seen movies that portray some sort of bad guy acting in such a way that he portrays himself as a bad guy, yet the results of his actions benefits the lives of many. The beneficience of life is an important factor to consider as one tries to follow his/her own moral imperative. That is why, even if I believe in the Divine Command theory, I see people who act on their own principles as morally justified in their own right. Although I may view them as wrong in my perception, I hold respect for their actions if they feel that their act is morally justified according to their belief. Perhaps that is the reason why I could not bring myself to blame suicide bombers for their actions, because they have inculcated their entire understanding in such a way that they decided to act on that belief, although I do consider their act as morally wrong because they acted not on the beneficience of mankind. Nor could I blame other people for holding rallies as a form of expression of their principles. Simply put, the actions of man can be morally justified if they act on the tenets of their principles while at the same time considering the welfare of the entirety of man. (the absolute perspective) In my definition however, that would not be the case if they do not coincide with the teachings of my belief. The idea here is that I believe in a law that applies to all, yet I apply a particular belief to myself.
I know that this sounds weird, and incredulous, but each person has the right to believe in his/her own particular belief, no matter how out-of-place in might seem. And by my own standards, I'm probably as weird as I’m ever going to be.
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