Voluntary Euthanasia: A Quantum Theory of Moral Action (part 2)

This is part 2 of a multi-part series.

I contemplate writing a book on this subject intended for the educated reader, tentatively titled “My Death, My Choice: A Secular View of Voluntary Euthanasia” in which this quantum theory will play an integral role.  The book assumes that readers hold a secular humanist worldview.  That is, secular in the sense that no deities, afterlives, or other supernatural notions are involved, and humanistic in the sense that the wellbeing of human and non-human sentient creatures is the only valid measure of moral virtue. Readers of this article are requested to read my short, free ebook, The Reason Revolution: Atheism, Secular Humanism, and the Collapse ..., an atheistic rationale for secular humanism. 

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An adequate understanding of this theory requires definition of several terms and concepts:

Pleasure (with a capital”P”) is defined as the total subjective pleasant experience of the self as well as of all other human and nonhuman sentient creatures that may be affected by a decided action.  Such experience includes not only hedonistic pleasure, but also joy, happiness, wonder, playfulness, humor, meaningfulness, achievement, love, and other forms of experience that “feel good” and may be considered positive.

Pain (with a capital “P”) is defined as the total subjective unpleasant experience, including not only physical pain, but also emotional suffering, distress, grief, angst, sadness, despair, fear, dread, malaise, and other forms of experience that “feel bad” and may be considered negative.

Quanta, in the context of this article, are measurable units of Pleasure and Pain.  Although objective measurement of Pleasure and Pain is elusive, subjective measurement may be empirically estimated by self-assessment, self-report, and/or observation of individuals affected by an action. Each quantum is of equal “mass” (weight, importance, impact), regardless of whether it is one of Pleasure or of Pain.  Quanta of Pleasure carry a “positive charge” and quanta of Pain carry a “negative charge” (analogous to the charge of subatomic particles).

Sentience refers to the capacity for experiencing Pleasure and Pain by animate beings, both human and nonhuman.

Self (with a capital “S”) is the person considering taking an action, such as ending his/her life.  It is assumed the Self is capable of deciding and implementing or directing the action.

Moral refers to the attribute of ethical virtue associated with an action resulting from a decision taken by the Self.  As used here, the term “moral” bears no relationship to religion-derived rules of conduct nor to any consensus opinion held by dominant segments of societies.  Rather, the term refers to the objectively determined or predicted cumulative impact (PPQ) of a considered action.

Pleasure/Pain Quotient (PPQ) refers to the total quanta of positively charged Pleasure divided by the total quanta of negatively charged Pain experienced by sentient beings affected by an action, including but not limited to the Self.

(Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series.)


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