I have a reoccurance of Base of Tongue cancer, and this is a dehumanizing sort of cancer in that it starts to strip away some our most basic asthetic appreciations: eating food, tasting, swallowing, speaking and sexual intimacy. It is also dreadfully painful. So - I've been having the internal question of, when is enough enough, and I think there was a classical parable of how someone would choose their death.

Leaving the law to one side (I don't know which jurisdiction you live in or could reach), I think there is nothing morally wrong with your bringing your life to an end under these circumstances. You will want to make this decision with sound medical information about your prospects and you will want to make sure that your loved ones understand -- even if, perhaps, they cannot approve. You may also want to think beyond your own life. For example, is there anything morally important that you might yet want to accomplish -- perhaps something that can free or protect others from as great a burden as you are bearing yourself. If your cancer is tobacco-related (some cases are), for instance, you might help warn young people against this danger. Or you may simply devote your remaining energies to a good cause you believe in. Such an active commitment may be quite as meaningful as the joys and pleasures no longer accessible to you. As a final thought, it may be worthwhile to communicate with others who...

According to value theory, does manufacturing an object (e.g. a bicycle) always result in more value than performing a service (e.g. giving a haircut) since the object can be used again and again, can be resold, and cannot be destroyed (by law of conservation of mass). Or is this question out of the domain of value theory and limited to philosophy of economics?

Manufacturing adds value by configuring materials in certain ways; and this value can be lost even if the object's mass is preserved. Thus, destruction of the bicycle cancels the value of manufacturing it, even if the metal and other materials survive the destruction. Conversely, a service can continue producing value for a very long time: a medical treatment administered today can add decades to a person's life, and good education can convey knowledge, wisdom or a skill which can be useful for the student's lifetime and beyond (if she passes it on to others). So the reasons you consider do not show that manufacturing something is always more valuable than performing a service.

Is a person only as valuable as the good he/she produces for others?

Making the lives of others better certainly does add value to your own. But I believe it would be a bit extreme to say that making your own life better adds nothing to the value of your life. How might one argue for this belief? Here is one way. There are wonderful writers and artists who create novels, paintings, movies, sculptures and performances that can greatly enrich our lives. The fact that these people enrich the lives of others makes them and their lives more valuable, as we said. But this enrichment will happen only if we go and expose ourselves to their creations. By doing so, we -- alongside them -- make a necessary contribution to the enrichment. It would be odd to celebrate their necessary contribution to the enrichment (by saying that it makes them more valuable) while ignoring our necessary contribution. Surely, just as they have a reason to produce their creations for us, so we have a reason to expose ourselves to these creations. The richness of human lives matters, and an...

Is it immoral to spend your days playing World of Warcraft, just eating and sleeping at your parents' house? They have an extra bedroom and plenty of money so the food is a non-issue--they already have to feed 4, so 5 is not much different. Is it any different than playing golf every day trying to go pro when the likelihood of doing so successfully is very remote. Nothing else really interests me and I don't see why I have to live the way everyone else does if I don't want to. I could work and pay some rent but it would have a negligible effect on the overall finances and I can't find a job anyway.

Your rent-free lifestyle does not wrong your parents who can easily afford you and are apparently willing to do so. And there's also nothing wrong with refusing to live like everyone else does -- some of the most admirable people in human history did just that. If everyone in this world were as well-off as you are, then there would be nothing immoral about your way of life. It would merely be lackluster, irrelevant, and boring for everyone but yourself. Pretty much everything worthwhile and interesting in this world is there thanks to human beings living with more than your level of ambition. But then not everyone in this world is as well-off as you are. And in this case, I think, your lifestyle does qualify as immoral. There are lots of people in this country and even more so abroad who are vastly worse off than you are, and you have a moral responsibility to do your share to fight these deprivations -- as many others are doing, through volunteer work, donations, and so on. If you had a job,...

If someone died at age 95, we wouldn't think him unfortunate--it isn't a bad thing, for him, not to have lived much longer. However, if someone died at age 15, we would thing him unfortunate. Why? I suspect that our intuition here has to do with the fact that 95 is well above the average life expectancy for humans, while 15 is well below average. But why should that matter here?

I suspect that your suspicion is partially correct: there is the intuition that someone who is doing worse than average and worse than most is unfortunate. But two other factors come in as well. There is the fact that only a very small percentage of those who reach age 15 fail to reach 16 -- whereas a rather substantial percentage of those who reach age 95 fail to reach age 96. And people perceive it as more unfortunate to be among a very small fraction who suffer harm than to be one in a larger fraction. (If you're among 20 people worldwide to catch some infectious disease, you'll feel very unfortunate, much more so than if you got a cold along with 3 billion other people.) And there is the further fact that life beyond the 95th birthday tends not to be all that good -- the person who dies at 15 is losing many probably very good years of life whereas the person who dies at 95 is losing just a few bad ones. (If you lose $5000 you'll probably feel a lot more unfortunate than if you lose just $1....

I have a question about whether individual lives are innately valuable. Say for example that genetic engineering reaches the point where all human beings could be engineered to be born without any disabilities. I know that this would be beneficial because it would alleviate the suffering of the person who would have otherwise been disabled and those who would have been responsible for him or her. However, does being free from a physical or mental disability make a human being more worthy than a person who is disabled? Or compare a multi-lingual person to a monolingual person. Is the value of a life dependent on the person's productivity and skills or is life innately valuable?

It is of value for someone to be free of suffering or disease. But in order for this to be valuable period, the being in question must have a certain intrinsic value. And this intrinsic value of persons, in virtue of which it is valuable that they be free of suffering or disease, is a value that they have independently of whether they are healthy or disabled. This intrinsic value of persons is presupposed as what gives value to what they value and also gives value to their developing their moral and other capacities along with a stable disposition to add value to the lives of others. This disposition to be productive, again, is valuable in virtue of the intrinsic value of the people whose lives are enriched by this productivity. In short, the word "value" is a bit tricky here as it's used both for the intrinsic value of persons and for the contingent and variable value that their health, feelings, capacities, and conduct may have in enriching (adding value to) their own lives and the lives of others.

I am from a developing country, a poor country, a very populated country. We live a hard life here. People often say westerners have a life while we only do the living, or according to one of my friends, we only do the breathing. I still remember a line from a popular song here: are we changing the world or changed by the world? And my friend gave me the answer: being an American means one is changing the world while being a non-American means one is changed by the world. So what is the meaning of life for a man living in a developing country anyway?

In terms of income, the panelists on this site by and large belong to humanity's top ventile (5%) -- where the average income is 9 times the global average. This is roughly 300 times more than what is available to people in the bottom quarter, where average income is about 1/32 of the global average. (The difference is still about 100:1 if one adjusts for purchasing power parities.) Moreover, people in the bottom quarter typically work longer hours in more exhausting jobs, and have about 20 to 30 fewer years of life. So, yes, those among whom you live do not enjoy anything like our opportunities to live a full human life, anything like our freedom to learn, think, enjoy, and be creative. These huge discrepancies are profoundly unjust, and it would be good if many people in the more affluent countries used their much greater powers to change the world toward overcoming such injustice. Unfortunately, this is not happening, though some are trying. Those who have most power to contribute to change also...

Is it irrational to desire or view as beneficial things which would, in effect, make one a different person? For example, take someone who has a great admiration for David Beckham. While there it might seem perfectly ordinary for this person to say things like "I wish I were just like David Beckham," it seems to me that this wish, if taken literally, is somehow incoherent.

The answer is NO . Whatever incoherence there might be in wishing that *I* were just like David Beckham, this does not render it incoherent or irrational to desire or view as beneficial things which would, in effect, make one a different person. Thus suppose that I wish that the person sitting in this chair one minute from now (and from then on) shall not be subject to any of the worries and temptations that distract me from what's important and that he shall otherwise be committed to the same ends as I am. Now would this person be me? That's an irrelevant question, because nothing about this topic was contained or implied in my wish. So my wish is perfectly coherent -- and also rational, I think, for my ends would be better promoted if my wish came true. Now, of course, if your real end is that *you* should experience the positive reactions that many visit upon Beckham, then you better not wish for the person sitting in your chair a minute from now to be just like Beckham....

When I say "strawberries are delicious" am I saying something about strawberries, or am I just saying something about my tastes?

About both, I would think: about their relation. Your quoted sentence says something about tastes (that they respond positively to strawberries) and also something about strawberries (that they evoke a positive taste response). Still, there is something to your deflationary "just": What you are saying about strawberries is not true of them apart from (human) tastes. So your sentence is shorthand for a longer sentence that specifies a subject ("... to me", or "... to human beings"). This is similar to how the sentence "elephants are big" is shorthand for "elephants are big animals" (or "... big relative to other animals").

What use are philosophers to Modern Society? I mean, in the eyes of modern society, the objective in life is to earn a living, and how best to earn it. But we can't seem to put to use knowledge like "Whether absolute truth exist". So is there more to it, or are we mere entertainers to satisfy human inquiries that could just be disregarded and forgotten later on?

Well, if THE objective in life really is to make money without too much effort, then indeed there isn't much use for philosophical inquiries -- there are better ways of earning money than by being a philosopher. But is earning a living in the best way really the (one and only) objective in life? I think most people would say that there are other important objectives as well: love, religion, friendship, music, sports, and so on -- but of course people have different views about what matters and how much. So here philosophy comes in, helping us to think clearly and wisely about what matters in life. Perhaps earning an easy living is really the best way to live. But wouldn't you want to think about this, and the alternatives, a bit before you commit yourself to such a life?