View Poll Results: Should the goverment control actions you consent to?

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  • Yes the goverment should have control over peoples actions with or without consent

    2 20.00%
  • No the goverment should not have control over peoples actions if they consent

    2 20.00%
  • It depends on the situation

    7 70.00%
  • Other

    1 10.00%
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Thread: Should the goverment tell people what they can can can't consent to?

  1. #1
    Member Bartender's Avatar
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    Should the goverment tell people what they can can can't consent to?

    Should the government be allowed to dictate whether or not you can consent to things? I personally think the state has no place telling people what they can and can't do with themselves. Be it drugs or voluntary euthanasia. What is this forums view? Should the state be able to dictate what you are allowed to do to yourself?

  2. #2
    a fool on a journey pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Two things come to mind. First, consent isn't always cut and dry. Certain circumstances can make people more vulnerable to exploitation - being young, intoxicated, very poor or lonely or just stupid. I'm reminded of that Chinese kid who sold his kidney for an iPad (the doctor who performed the operation got like 95% of the money and the kid later died from complications) and also loan shark type situations. It's easy to say that people should be free to agree to any loan terms they want until you have predatory lenders everywhere practically enslaving people once they take out a payday loan and don't read the fine print.

    And there's also the idea that you can consent to things that seemingly only affect you but really have a greater impact on society as a whole. What comes to mind immediately are people who don't want to wear seatbelts but also don't want us to leave them bleeding to death in a ditch after they're ejected through their windshields.

    I dunno, in principle I think that individuals should be free to do what they like until it starts affecting other people. In reality though everything we do has some effect on everyone else, we just have to draw a line somewhere.

  3. #3
    Member El D.'s Avatar
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    Generally, I dont think its the government's responsibility to protect people from themselves, but I admit you do run into issues with liability, for example, lets say there is no seat belt law, and someone accidentally crashes into someone else not wearing a seat belt and kills them. Maybe they wouldve survived had they been wearing a seat belt, but since they werent the person at fault is now being charged with vehicular manslaughter. Its complicated.

  4. #4
    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pathogenetic_peripatetic View Post
    Two things come to mind. First, consent isn't always cut and dry. Certain circumstances can make people more vulnerable to exploitation - being young, intoxicated, very poor or lonely or just stupid. I'm reminded of that Chinese kid who sold his kidney for an iPad (the doctor who performed the operation got like 95% of the money and the kid later died from complications) and also loan shark type situations. It's easy to say that people should be free to agree to any loan terms they want until you have predatory lenders everywhere practically enslaving people once they take out a payday loan and don't read the fine print.

    And there's also the idea that you can consent to things that seemingly only affect you but really have a greater impact on society as a whole. What comes to mind immediately are people who don't want to wear seatbelts but also don't want us to leave them bleeding to death in a ditch after they're ejected through their windshields.

    I dunno, in principle I think that individuals should be free to do what they like until it starts affecting other people. In reality though everything we do has some effect on everyone else, we just have to draw a line somewhere.
    pp has the sensible (and objectively correct) view.

    Firstly, matters of consent are not black and white. Many matters of consent rely upon mental state of the individual at point in time and in societal context. So i can say that a prostitute consents to have sex with me for money, but "consent" is IMO a completely different matter when they have a child and no food or shelter, vs when they live in a society that provides food/shelter/healthcare with no obligations of sex. Then there are matters of informational asymmetry, ignorance, whose motives and interests and power a society works and uses force for, etc, etc.

    Secondly, because we live with other people, actions we undertake or can consent to for ourselves can either directly have effects on others (smoking, public urination/intoxication/bodily excretions, policies for use of public transport and shared resources, noise/visual pollution), or effect the probabilities of future/indirect social costs and pressures (car use changes the entire shape, environment, and legal background of a city in terms of both safety, funding, planning, carparks vs sidewalks vs bikepaths vs fitness facilities vs living density vs fuel use. Smoking and obesity have indirect effects on what treatments are needed in hospitals, the funding amounts available to all things, take away resources from other areas, increase fundamental costs for construction, and even the debate between public and private or insurance doesn't quite solve it because premiums and probabilistic costs rise on everyone no matter which system you use: some/many societal costs are essentially probabilistic and temporal in nature.

    I think the ideal is one of persons able to be left to their own devices. But we should never forget that a person left to their own device dies young, ignorant, early and painfully. Societies and interaction are responsible and necessary for any living standard above that of eating dirt.

  5. #5
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    To see why it's necessary to restrict some actions, consider our cannibal island scenario:

    If you have only 5 people, and the group's survival depends on all 5 working together as a unit, you're going to do everything you can to force him to do what needs to be done. Even if he doesn't particularly care about the group's survival, it's in everyone else's interest to make him care.

    A country functions as a very very big island.

    It'd be nice if we could all do what we want, but it makes sense to persuade people to do what's in all of our interests. There's a tradeoff, and you have to find the ideal spot on that spectrum of freedom vs efficiency.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

  6. #6
    Member Zephyrus's Avatar
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    I believe that just laws are consistent with the harm principle: to protect individuals from being harmed by others. On the other hand, paternalistic laws, laws that are intended to protect an individual from themselves or advance their own good, lead to tyranny.

    Now to the OP:

    As pathogenetic_peripatetic illustrated, people will sometimes consent to outrageous contracts, like forfeiting their dignity or bodily integrity, when they are destitute or unable to make rational decisions. And...

    Fuck it, thinking sucks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Linnea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyrus View Post
    I believe that just laws are consistent with the harm principle: to protect individuals from being harmed by others. On the other hand, paternalistic laws, laws that are intended to protect an individual from themselves or advance their own good, lead to tyranny.
    There are also laws that are based on some silly principle or a remnant of religion and actually cause harm while protecting nobody. These are obviously not meant for the protection of an individual or the nation but are there just to force people to behave in a "correct" way. For example, if a person wants to change their sex officially in Finland, they have to get sterilised. A transgender person can't have their own children after having an official sex change. This serves no purpose other than to punish transgender people. It's not an essential law for the cohesion of the nation and only concerns a small part of the population. Also a married person has to get a divorce before they can change their sex. They can register a partnership afterwards. Which clearly highlights the lie in the statements by the conservative politicians that a same sex registered partnership is practically the same thing as marriage anyway so there's no need to amend the marriage laws.

  8. #8
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    If it was possible for a group of people to be able to come up with their own laws that take precedence over what the official law says they can and cannot do then a society effectively does not have a law anymore. And that would suck for most people. So yes. The government must have final word on this.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyrus View Post
    On the other hand, paternalistic laws, laws that are intended to protect an individual from themselves or advance their own good, lead to tyranny.
    Many argue that laws shouldn't protect an "individual from themselves." But, individual rights are not always so individual. A motorcyclist who refuses to use a helmet and, then, gets horrific injuries in an accident, causes my insurance premiums to increase. His seeming "individuality" costs me (and society) more money so I have no problem forcing motorcyclists to wear helmets. OTOH, the first amputation my wife ever did was on a motorcyclist who took one last, drunken spin on his bike to celebrate selling it. So, there can be some benefit to society (i.e., training docs) that is a counterpoise to legislating safety. My basic point is that many people can't see beyond themselves when they preach freedom and individuality, yet it's a fact that we're both individuals and members of a community. Like so many things in life, what is needed but missing, is balance.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thevenin View Post
    Many argue that laws shouldn't protect an "individual from themselves." But, individual rights are not always so individual. A motorcyclist who refuses to use a helmet and, then, gets horrific injuries in an accident, causes my insurance premiums to increase. His seeming "individuality" costs me (and society) more money so I have no problem forcing motorcyclists to wear helmets.
    This is basically my thoughts on the matter. If people actually took more responsibility for their stupid decisions, perhaps I would agree that laws shouldn't "protect an individual from themselves."

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