How to Think About Bottled Water

By Damien Knight

It was a hot day for April and I was checking in to Opryland Hotel in Tennessee for my honeymoon. I was parched and on my bed was a bottle of heaven. It was Dasani water. I think back on that day and recall seeing one water fountain in the entire building. Opryland is huge, surely there would be water fountains at every restroom.  Yet it seems water fountains are antiquated. This incident happened in 2006 but according to Reader’s Digest our bottle water consumption has increased 10% since then.

You might think we increased to this point because bottled water is just safer than the tap, right? I mean look at the pristine mountains on Aquafina’s water. The thing is Aquafina’s water comes from the same source as the tap. 25 percent of bottled waters come from Municipal tap water. Not only is most of these bottled waters not safer, they are expensive.

You end up buying this bottle water that is just as good as tap for 1000 times the rate of tap. It’s outrageous when you consider it.  I did not believe this myself, so I went to the Walmart in Bowling Green and a Casey’s in Russellville, Kentucky. I recorded the prices and compared that to Bowling Green’s Municipal. I placed my findings in the chart below.  The price per gallon for tap is 0.01 cent versus Aquafina which $5.12 cents a gallon. My favorite water, Dasani, was cheaper but still outrageous at $3.97 per gallon.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Human Genome Research Summaries

Written by Damien Knight

2011

 

DeSalle, Rob, and Michael Yudell. Welcome to the genome: a user’s guide to the genetic past, present, and future. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Liss, 2005. Print.

 

Welcome to the Genome: A User’s Guide to  the Past, Present, and Future is a basic introductory to the relatively new field of genomics and its influence on human social and political issues.  Genomics is a merge of many sciences biology included.  The science of genomics started with the ideas of heredity and where we come from. What are our differences or similarities? The answers it came upon were startling. It discussed how race is not biologically supported.  To understand the human genome one has to understand DNA and genetics. Without an understanding of what the building blocks of life were one cannot go forward into genetics. The Human genome itself contains 3 billion units of DNA code that defines the human species. The human genome is 99.9% identical.  Several things had to push the science forward, first basic sequencing of DNA. Then the capability to read the genetic code had to be developed. After which we had to understand how DNA was made. After all this is done we go from examining genes to sequencing the human genome.  The book touches social issues that could be caused by genomics such as genetic discrimination. Still the study of the human genome may help make great strides in the field of medicine. The book also covers how legislation is being made to prevent misuse of genetic information.

The authors are Rob Desalle and Micheal Yudell. Rob Desalle  and Micheal Yudell both have worked at the American Museum of Natural History. Desalle presently works at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics and has assisted in several books on DNA and genetics. Yudell works presently as an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University. Like Desalle he has worked on several other books involving the study of DNA. His primary focus is on genetics and health. Welcome to the Genome: A User’s Guide to  the Past, Present, and Future  was published in 2005.

Continue reading

Philosophy: Case 28 Assisted Suicide

Written By: Damien Knight

Case 28

In November 1994, voters in Oregon approved by a margin of 52 to 48 percent a ballot initiative known as the “Death with Dignity Act”. This law, after surviving constitutional challenges and second referendum in which Oregon voters opposed repeal by a margin of 60 to 40 percent, ultimately went into effect in November 1997. The law permits physicians in Oregon to prescribe lethal drugs for terminally ill adult patients who want to end their own lives. In order for a patient to be eligible for such assistance, the attending physician must determine that the patient has a terminal illness and is expected to die within six months, and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis. The following requirements are also stipulated:

(1)  The patient must make an initial, oral request; reiterate the oral request after 15 days have passed; and also submit a written request, supported by two witnesses.

(2)  Before writing the prescription, the attending physician must wait at least 15 days after the patient’s initial request and at least 48 hours after the written request.

(3)  The attending physician must fully inform the patient with regard to diagnosis and prognosis, as well as feasible alternatives – including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.

(4)  Both the attending physician and the consulting physician must certify that the patient is “capable” (i.e. has decision making capacity), is acting voluntarily, and has made an informed choice.

* (5)  If either physician believes that the patient’s judgment might be impaired.

(e.g. by depression) the patient must be referred for counseling.*

The Oregon law allows the attending physician and others to be present when the patient takes the lethal dose.
Assisted Suicide

The Oregon law “Death with Dignity Act” allows for assisted suicide in fatal cases. First the basis of this law is that it has to be an adult patient who has only six months to live, and this patient is aware fully of their condition. For many this law might be seen as legalized murder but I think it is justified and support it. Many would question the morality of such a law but if we ask ourselves does this in the long run provide for the greater good we would have to recognize it as our duty to give this option to those who are dying of illness.

Those who often oppose things such as assisted suicide give various reasons why they do. Often these reasons involve religious and moral values. These reasons being that ‘murder is wrong’ and ‘suicide is wrong.’ Also taken into these arguments is how the loss of a loved one as the immediate result being too painful to bear. Often people will say that if they were kept alive just a little longer that the person could have been saved. The Oregon law states that for the assisted suicide to be permissible the patient has to be fully aware of his alternatives. So if the person fully knows they can be saved it would be in their best interest not to commit the assisted suicide.

So when would ‘murder’ and ‘suicide’ be societies moral obligation? If we look at this from a benefiting everyone perspective such as utilitarianism we would find we are obligated to commit to this law when the person’s death is more beneficial than the person’s life. When we ask what circumstances would make this probable, we then have to look at the facts. In the beginning of the book we are given a story of a man who murders his brother at his brother’s request while he is very sick. We can examine this murder and see if like the Oregon law it holds up to being beneficial in the long term.

The story mentions that Mathew Donnelly (CH7 p 460 pg 4 Philosophy: a text with readings) contracted cancer he was in constant pain and had little left of his body due to surgery to remove the tumors. Now they don’t say if he was in a fatal condition but let’s assume he was and his brother comes and relieves him of his misery. Is his brother wrong for the murder? In the long term not only does Mathew no longer suffer, but he is no longer incurring hospital bills that his family may or may not be able to pay. This is good for his family. He also could no longer be a working part of society he would have to had drawn disability draining government money. These points mean that in the long run in spite of immediate loss of life and a funeral bill his murder is justified.

Assisted suicide would have to be assessed in the same way. The doctor after receiving an oral request and after 15 days have ascertained that the patient is both not depressed and is acting of his own will, and then the doctor can write the prescription for the lethal dose. These requirements make it harder for people to choose this method. This way we do not accidentally allow the suicide of a person who might heal and become an able bodied citizen of society.

So what makes assisted suicide moral? It is moral when it does not just benefit the patient, and the family but the entire society. These burdens include: financial, physical, and emotional tolls. If he is spending more money to try and stay alive, then his family can afford. If watching his suffering is more painful than bearing death and he would need an aid if he were to be dismissed. If he could never work again once dismissed meaning others would pay for him. These things he might determine would make him a burden.

If the patient determines he would be a burden upon himself, his family, and his neighbors and the government with his illness then it is best he utilize this law and take his life, he would be morally obligated too. This way not only is he or she no longer in pain they can die knowing they will burden no one else. They can die as the law says with dignity instead of living as a burden and for these reasons I support the law.

What is Art?

By: Damien Knight

     Art has so many definitions; each person who views a work of “Art” defines it differently. What is art? Art is the interpretation of a person’s individual reality. Since reality is how we see the world then should not art be the sharing of how we see it? Is not art the interpretation of it?

      I have stated in prior writings that reality is what we make it to be to some extent. An artist is a creator of realities. He paints worlds that are in his mind to the canvas, he carves into marble images only he saw prior to its carving. Art is the creation of realities and the artist’s interpretation of it.

     Different people have different aesthetic tastes but that is not what determines if art is art. In fact, one could say there is no real way to determine what art is. Art can indeed be what an individual views as “artistic.” Most claim they like a certain style of art because they can relate to it. It helps them interpret their own reality. So we return to art being an interpretation of a reality except now it is not the artist’s reality being defined but the viewer.

      The viewer looks upon the reality created by the artist and applies it to their own view of the world. If it relates then the viewer will say “This is art.” If it does not relate the viewer will view the work as junk and not understand the artist’s message. Art is the portrayal of reality so long as people can relate it is worth being displayed.

      Since art is first the artist’s reality it does not have to portray the material world. It can display dreams and emotions. How the artist displays these alternate realities is what makes an artist a creator of reality. These images or sculptures become art when others including the artist view it as art. When it is viewed as such it becomes worthy of being displayed as art. Art that is considered beautiful to one person may be displeasing to another. So long as it is an interpretation of reality by the artist and relates to the viewer’s own reality is art truly art.

Philosophy: The Past and Future

Written By: Damien Knight

“Is There a Good Sense in Which the Past is Fixed and The Future Open?”

I do not believe the past can ever literally be fixed. Even if some say that time travel to the past is conceivable going back might not fix the future that already occurred. It might instead create an alternate timeline. But could we possibly fix our past mentally. The answer is yes we alter our memories to suit our purposes and often have false memories in place given to us by our own-selves and family members around us. The future is believed to be an open page or blank slate but in reality our future is affected directly by our present action. We alter our chances by acting presently therefore the future is never truly open. We are defined by our present through altering our past memories.

I wrote the above back in 2012 and reading the question I realise I misunderstood the point of the question. How I passed my philosophy 100 and 300 level courses and not realised this I do not know. Is the past fixed and the future open? What this is asking is time fluid or static? Is destiny predetermined?

All things that have happened in the past can’t be changed, but memory is a funny thing. How we perceive our pasts changes. Our memories have a way of lying to us based on our present. In a figurative way the past is only as fixed as our memories allow it to be. So, I guess my answer on the past isn’t changed with this new understanding of fixed being not to repair but held in one place.

So, what of the future? Is it fixed or open? This one I think as I answered above is still relevant, but a part of me think the future should not be tied to our past. Our pasts can be burdensome. As long as you leave the present an open slate, the future can become open. If you’re burdened by your past, in your present, your future is as fixed as your past.

Philosophy: Conceivability and Possibility

Written By: Damien Knight

What is the relation between conceivability and possibility?

Well most things we believe possible are also conceivable. In the same that which is conceivable is often possible. For example I will use time travel. We can conceive or imagine that time travel is possible and it is in the sense that right now you and I are traveling through time from the present and into the future. But could one possibly travel into the past from the future. While the idea has been conceived it has not been proven possible. Still If a space ship were fast enough to travel the speed of light then maybe it would be possible to travel through time itself.

Now let’s take the meanings of the word possible and conceivable and examine them. Conceivable means to be able to be grasped or imagined. Many things are conceivable that are not possible. Humans sprouting wings for example. Possible means it is able to be done, that it is within the capacity of someone or something. Most things if not all that are possible are conceivable. Airplane flight for example is both conceivable and possible.

Therefore the relation between what is possible and conceivable is that all things conceivable are not possible but all thing possible have been conceived first.