On health care debate, good to think of others

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

In health care debate, good to think of others

Solipsism is a philosophical approach holding that, ultimately, one’s own existence is the only thing of which one can be assured.

In it’s extreme form, it almost becomes a lampoon of itself, holding that the entire world simply exists in the mind and for the pleasure of the one doing the solipsizing. It is rooted in, but far afield from, Descartes’ “ I think, therefore I am.”

This school of philosophy is so obscure that, even though I have been teaching philosophy courses since 2002, I was unaware that this existed until fall of 2008. It is so obscure that my Microsoft program doesn’t even seem to recognize the word.

Not surprising, given the fact that very few reasonable people could buy into this philosophy, and those who did, would probability deny it. To assert that only my opinion mattered, or held any validity, is not the road to popularity and success.

Logical jump to the health care system, and the ongoing debate over an obvious problem which seems to be bringing out the hidden solipsists in the dark corners of our society.

They are, you may be sure, lurking on both sides, the so called liberal and the so called conservative.

The obvious question is, how can there be a truly liberal, or truly conservative, thought to health care reform? In other words, don’t both liberal and conservative assume the system is broken, and needs to be fixed?

Yet each side seems to maintain its reality is the only reality.

I am not sure if health care should be based on a survival of the fittest approach.

I am not sure that it should be grounded on a system where everyone must be on an equal footing. How practical is that, economically?

What does seem certain is that every human being is entitled to some form of compassionate and reasonable health care. This should be rooted in a simple commitment to follow the Judeo/Christian ethic on which we claim to base our society.

What are your standards?

How do you decide?

The athlete in me — the guy who has followed a long term commitment to “fitness for life” — balks at the idea of paying health care costs to cover the excesses of drinkers, overeaters, and tobacco abusers.

On the other hand, the utilitarian in me, who believes in the greatest good for the greatest number of people, feels that a society rises or falls on the willingness of its citizens to watch out for one another. (Which would address the above issues by means of education, wellness planning, and prevention rather than cure focus.)

It is not the place of this column to provide a definitive answer, only a thought provoking question.

What do you think, and on what grounds?

Solipsism aside, each of us must remember we are not the only one who matters.