Otherwise, it would be completely impossible to hold anybody morally or criminally responsible for anything, even the most horrific crimes. The basis of all modern legal and ethical systems is precisely that we are all capable of making conscious choices and, therefore, we are all responsible for our choices and our behavior. I believe that since we are all capable of making conscious choices, we are, therefore, also completely responsible for our choices and our behavior.
What do you consider to be beautiful and why?
In my opinion, aesthetic beauty is very subjective and almost completely in the eye of the beholder. Personal perspective often suggests beauty where individuals with a different perspective see none at all and vice versa.
Philosophically, I believe that beauty is also capable of being found in other areas outside of the realm of aesthetics. For example, the commitment to the health, welfare, and happiness of others is a beautiful thing. That includes all forms of charitable activities, the choice to become involved in the process of improving the lives of others, particularly when one could enjoy an easier life without doing so.
Therefore, it is beautiful when a medical professional chooses to pursue a medical specialty because of its value to others, when a person foregoes a lucrative career in private industry to become involved in politics for the purpose of improving the circumstance of others who are less fortunate, and when a parent endures great personal hardship and/or sacrifice to better the lives of his or her children and provide them with a better life than the parent had.
Are people entitled to basic human rights? Why?
The short answer is yes, I believe that everyone is entitled to basic human rights. A longer answer must address the fact that it is actually impossible to prove that people are entitled to any rights or to establish exactly what rights they are entitled to for the same reasons that it is impossible to prove the truth in general. Therefore, when considering basic human rights, it is helpful to return to the analogy about sculpting: it is much easier to challenge the right of anyone to deprive others of basic human wants and needs than it is to establish that human beings have an affirmative right to anything in particular.
In principle, I would say that we all have the right to anything we desire or need unless or until those desires or needs conflict with the same rights of other. While it is not possible to prove that we have an affirmative right to anything, it is possible to disprove the arguments used to suggest that others have any right to interfere with our desires and needs or with any rights we can be said to have. The alternative to the belief that we all have rights to whatever we desire and need is the belief that we only have the rights to whatever we can prevent others from taking from us.
This "might makes right" is the antithesis of moral values such as equality and fairness. While I cannot possibly prove that any of us necessarily has any affirmative right to anything, I believe that the most important rights that society should respect and that we should all respect in one another are the right to intellectual and spiritual freedom of personal belief (i.e. religion), the right to participate in the decision-making process of society (i.e. political self-determination), the right to express our thoughts without fear of punishment (i.e. freedom of speech), the equal right to all of the benefits and opportunities available in society (i.e. equal opportunity), and the freedom from unnecessary and unjustifiable interference in our lives.
What are other important beliefs in your life?
I believe that we live in one of the most privileged societies and times in the history of human life on earth, even in the current economic situation in this country. Compared to the vast majority of people living in the rest of the world, even people of relatively modest means in this country live a life of good fortune, ease, and relative luxury. I try to keep that in mind at all times and to do my share to improve the lives of people les fortunate than me. I consider that a moral obligation for anybody who is lucky enough to live in this society and that is part of the reason that I chose nursing for a profession.