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Lexilogio

The ethics of alcohol

Like it or not, we live in a society, and receiving the benefits of that society - piped water to taps, electricity, gas, television, radio, waste collection, health service, fire service, and the police.

So how much should freedom of choice be allowed?

For example, drinking to excess. Is this a right? Is the choice to make yourself physically ill, requiring health service intervention, a right? Or should society impose limitations on alcohol use? And I acknowledge that there are two different strands within the "drinking to excess". There is the person on the street, who may also need police intervention (violent, nuisance or collapsed in the street), and there is the person at home, who may injure themselves. With both, there is the danger of liver damage, requiring treatment / transplant.

Should society be expected to pay for this? How far should choice go?
Ketty

They are big questions Lexi.  Generally speaking (talking of things within the law), I'm of the opinion that we should be prepared to accept the consequences of our own actions.  Our actions should be a matter of free will according to our own choices.

How much, then, society is prepared to pick up the pieces of emotional, physical, and financial fall out due to excesses or other reasons, is a political debate.  Do we still continue to send out emergency services and make it free at the point of delivery?  Should some pay more than others, and how would all that be weighed and measured?
Shaker

Re: The ethics of alcohol

Lexilogio wrote:
Like it or not, we live in a society, and receiving the benefits of that society - piped water to taps, electricity, gas, television, radio, waste collection, health service, fire service, and the police.

So how much should freedom of choice be allowed?

To the maximum extent possible, unless there's a very, very, very good reason for infringing freedom.

Quote:
For example, drinking to excess. Is this a right?

Yes.

Quote:
Is the choice to make yourself physically ill, requiring health service intervention, a right?

Yes.

Quote:
Or should society impose limitations on alcohol use?

Far less than it does. There are good reasons, other-regarding reasons, why we don't let people drink and drive, operate machinery or be in control of vehicles (of all types) which carry other people - that's why we don't allow drunk drivers, inebriated bus and train drivers, pissed airline pilots and sozzled surgeons, for instance. We don't allow people under a certain age to drink. But otherwise, in the absence of these and similar considerations, if you are a competent consenting adult then what you choose to put into your own body, even if to your detriment, is your own concern entirely.

Quote:
And I acknowledge that there are two different strands within the "drinking to excess". There is the person on the street, who may also need police intervention (violent, nuisance or collapsed in the street), and there is the person at home, who may injure themselves. With both, there is the danger of liver damage, requiring treatment / transplant.

Should society be expected to pay for this?

I assume that these people are taxpayers who are materially providing, by means of taxation direct and indirect, for the upkeep of the services which you mention. That being the case then the individual, surely, is paying for it.

Quote:
How far should choice go?

As far as it possibly can.

Quote:
"... the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.


(John Stuart Mill, On Liberty).
Powwow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rowt0MpeWZY
cyberman

Re: The ethics of alcohol

Shaker wrote:

Quote:
"... the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection..."


(John Stuart Mill, On Liberty).


Not the protection of others?

If person A does something which increases the likelihood of person B coming to harm (e.g. driving too fast), is person C not warranted to intervene? Is this not for the greater good for the greater number? (Greater, that is, than allowing person A unfettered freedom).

That being the case - does not drinking to excess increase the risk of harm to others in society? Is society therefore not warranted in prevention of this risk? How great an increase in risk do JSM and his disciples feel is required in order to feel that 'self'-preservation warrants action?
Powwow

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/sheshatshiu.html
This is the reality of what booze has done in most of our aboriginal communities. Shaker's stance appears to be that the right of an idividual to booze it up trumps the breakdown of these communities. Just some collateral damage I guess.

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