07 August 2010

Worthy of study?

I’ve abstracted this from the context that inspired it because I think the abstract situation is more interesting that the specifics of one instance.

The Actor (in the general sense of “someone who does something”) thinks that their Activity is not worthy of study. They request that, upon their death, the Artifacts of their Activity be destroyed. An Observer, however, feels that the Activity is worthy of study. They work to try to preserve those Artifacts.

Let’s further assume that there is something significant about this particular Actor that distinguishes them from any other actors.

There are two aspects of this I wonder about: Selfishness and right versus wrong. (And what does this say about the rightness or wrongness of selfishness?)

Is the Observer’s desire to preserve those Artifacts against the Actor’s wishes selfish? Is it wrong for the Observer to take action to preserve them?

Is the Actor’s desire to have those Artifacts destroyed selfish? Is it wrong for the Actor to put into place measures that would hinder the Observer’s attempt to pursue their own activity of choice, studying the Actor’s Activity through studying those Artifacts?

3 comments:

rainswept said...

Both are selfish, both are right. The Observer will triumph if the Actor's will is too weak to destroy the Artifacts before her death. The Actor can handily triumph before her death because of her rights of property.

Anonymous said...

You may be assuming you know the Actor's reasoning. Suppose that the Actor didn't want their works made public not because they weren't worth much, but because they were personally embarrassing. Would you not want them to have that dignity, even after they were deceased?

Robert Fisher said...

I don’t know. Does “for dignity” really change the equation? Is not “embarrassing” as subjective as “worth”?

Do we say that right and wrong are dependent upon the motivations and that, therefore, no one can judge either party because we cannot ever be sure of their true motivations?

From the first-person point-of-view, are you saying that the Actor would be wrong to have the Artifacts destroyed based on a lack of worth but right if based on embarrassment? Can the Observer not determine which of their choices is right or wrong without knowing the reason behind the Actor’s choice?