Environmental Ethics and Prioritization

 
Dzoldzaya
 
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Dzoldzaya
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18 December 2017 12:05
 

Sam recently spoke about global warming on his episode with Joseph Romm and correctly realizes the urgency of the problem. But previously he’d hardly even mentioned environmental problems as significant ethical questions, despite going very deeply into ethical questions concerning human and (farm) animal rights. There are a few questions I seem to constantly think about while listening to Sam:

1. Everybody knows that keeping the current (already greatly diminished) biodiversity on earth will bring great value, both practical and aesthetic, to future generations of humans, but is human consciousness/ suffering necessarily the ‘master value’ for discussion on morality and ethics? Can we rationally talk about environmental ethics without centring it on to the impact of environmental issues on human lives?

2. Are crimes causing human suffering, or those involving farming and mistreatment of countless non-human farm animals really the great crimes our ancestors will condemn us for? Or, will it be the loss of species diversity and a sustainable global eco-system, which don’t really enter into the more narrow view of morality based on experience and suffering?

3. Is there arguably a different value to other existing life forms and potential life forms that could/ will exist? Even from the more narrow ‘suffering as master value’ view, biodiversity will lead to more different forms of experience, which could lead to something like ‘higher levels’ of experience in the future.

4. Even if we consider human experience/ suffering to be the ‘master value’, shouldn’t we still be aware that environmental destruction will have greater impacts on future generations than even the most heinous of human rights abuses? Shouldn’t every moral philosopher’s priorities be massively stacked in favour of environmental issues? Should we consider contributing to environmental destruction as a far more morally abhorrent crime than something simply causing human suffering? Is this a problem with both the legal system and moral philosophy?

5. If the more pessimistic predictions on climate change and global environmental damage are likely to be true, how would moral philosophy address the ‘extreme measures’ that could be called for? Think what a super-intelligent AI would do if its job was to save the planet?

I’ve always been a bit biased towards biophilia and an anti-humanist viewpoint (although I’m currently reconsidering my ethical stances), but I think the commonly held biases the other way are so strong and so ubiquitous that people with my inclinations see narrow anthropocentrism and ethical short-sightedness everywhere.

Any thoughts?

 
brazen4
 
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brazen4
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19 December 2017 21:39
 

I also relate to having a bias towards biophilia which I feel as a gut feeling in favor of leaving as minimal a footprint as possible as I go about my life. That said I make no claim to getting this “minimal footprint” thing down pat. A lot of what makes my life as comfortable as it is depends on others stepping heavily here and there so I try not to be hypocritical in my self assessments. I have to fight the urge to see humans as a scourge in the biosphere of the planet. I know that that is too strong an indictment and that we also have a “right” to be here. We also may be this planets best hope of contributing a long lasting life form that is capable of abstract thought, etc., that could possibly travel beyond the planet and colonize elsewhere. We gotta hope should this actually happen, that our ethics /morality have advanced along with our technology by that time. I’m a fan of old timey words like greed to describe some of the lessor aspects of our nature (at times, my own also) but as I age I’m better at not doing the “either/or” thing of “all good or all bad” and instead try to be objective when assessing myself and others. I continue to learn from other posters how to frame various concepts that I share and often find that I am capable of more “in-depth” thinking than I am used to. “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Human suffering is mostly self inflicted, for a variety of reasons, but the glaring examples due to war, drought, etc. “could” be mitigated without having to ignore the plight of other species. All human activity “could” take into account the plight of other species. Aside from the fact that they are a delight to have around, there is something to be said for respecting life that has arisen from the very same primordial ooze that we came from.

 
FROZEN
 
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FROZEN
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21 December 2017 04:51
 
Dzoldzaya - 18 December 2017 12:05 PM

Sam recently spoke about global warming on his episode with Joseph Romm and correctly realizes the urgency of the problem. But previously he’d hardly even mentioned environmental problems as significant ethical questions, despite going very deeply into ethical questions concerning human and (farm) animal rights. There are a few questions I seem to constantly think about while listening to Sam:
1. Everybody knows that keeping the current (already greatly diminished) biodiversity on earth will bring great value, both practical and aesthetic, to future generations of humans, but is human consciousness/ suffering necessarily the ‘master value’ for discussion on morality and ethics? Can we rationally talk about environmental ethics without centring it on to the impact of environmental issues on human lives?
2. Are crimes causing human suffering, or those involving farming and mistreatment of countless non-human farm animals really the great crimes our ancestors will condemn us for? Or, will it be the loss of species diversity and a sustainable global eco-system, which don’t really enter into the more narrow view of morality based on experience and suffering?
3. Is there arguably a different value to other existing life forms and potential life forms that could/ will exist? Even from the more narrow ‘suffering as master value’ view, biodiversity will lead to more different forms of experience, which could lead to something like ‘higher levels’ of experience in the future.
4. Even if we consider human experience/ suffering to be the ‘master value’, shouldn’t we still be aware that environmental destruction will have greater impacts on future generations than even the most heinous of human rights abuses? Shouldn’t every moral philosopher’s priorities be massively stacked in favour of environmental issues? Should we consider contributing to environmental destruction as a far more morally abhorrent crime than something simply causing human suffering? Is this a problem with both the legal system and moral philosophy?
5. If the more pessimistic predictions on climate change and global environmental damage are likely to be true, how would moral philosophy address the ‘extreme measures’ that could be called for? Think what a super-intelligent AI would do if its job was to save the planet?
I’ve always been a bit biased towards biophilia and an anti-humanist viewpoint (although I’m currently reconsidering my ethical stances), but I think the commonly held biases the other way are so strong and so ubiquitous that people with my inclinations see narrow anthropocentrism and ethical short-sightedness everywhere.
Any thoughts?

Yes i have a few thoughts.
First off wow what a puzzle it was to get to that last question and wow what a payoff. It was totally worth it.
But, when I read the post I noticed the title, intro and conclusion made perfect sense and seemed to be in the voice of a native english speaker but the body questions really felt like they were not written by a native english speaker.
Wass up wit dat?
Maybe its just me but please feel free to double check me.
OK here it is.

1. Everybody knows that keeping the current (already greatly diminished) biodiversity on earth will bring great value, both practical and aesthetic, to future generations of humans, but Is human consciousness/ suffering necessarily the ‘master value’ for discussion on morality and ethics?
Answer: YES.
Edit: Since the OP used the phrase “great value” in his question intro and ‘master value’ in the body im going to define master value as ‘greater value.’
*And even though Javascript fans fully understand the relation between mutable and immutable ‘master value’ im not sure the OP, I or anyone else does.

1B) Can we rationally talk about environmental ethics without centring it on to the impact of environmental issues on human lives?
Answer: YES, of course we can.

2. Are crimes causing human suffering, or those involving farming and mistreatment of countless non-human farm animals really the great crimes our ancestors will condemn us for OR will it be the loss of species diversity and a (loss of a ) sustainable global eco-system, which don’t really enter into the more narrow view of morality based on experience and suffering?
Answer: YES. Our ancestors will condemn us more for ruining our sustainable eco-system than for crimes committed against farm animals.
** Mistreatment of innocent animals is inexcusable in every case but steaks are tasty.

3. Is there arguably a different value to other existing life forms and potential life forms that could/ will exist?
Answer: YES

3A) Even from the more narrow ‘suffering as master value’ view, biodiversity will lead to more different forms of experience, which could lead to something like ‘higher levels’ of experience in the future.
Answer: This is technically a statement.

4. Even if we consider human experience/ suffering to be the ‘master value’, shouldn’t we still be aware that environmental destruction will have greater impacts on future generations than even the most heinous of human rights abuses?
Answer: No. If its a choice between cutting off a humans limb or a trees limb id have to give the nod to the human.
Environmental destruction is however a human rights issue as it destroys human habitat but habitat destruction doesn’t reach the same level as a human rights abuse/ violation.
Personal Note: This was a hard question to answer.

4A) Shouldn’t every moral philosopher’s priorities be massively stacked in favour of environmental issues?
Answer: NO and please don’t should on your reader.

4B) Should we consider contributing to environmental destruction as a far more morally abhorrent crime than something simply causing human suffering?
Answer: NO. There is no defense for simply causing human suffering.

4C) Is this a problem with both the legal system and moral philosophy?
Answer: YES. Corporate interests lobby (bribe) lawmakers and that prevents them from representing the general populations interest.

5. If the more pessimistic predictions on climate change and global environmental damage are likely to be true, how would moral philosophy address the ‘extreme measures’ that could be called for?
Answer: You should refer this question to the moral philosophers because im not touching it!

5A) Think what a super-intelligent AI would do if its job was to save the planet?
Answer: This is the most interesting question of the bunch. Id guess, and at this time its only a guess, but I believe ASI is already saving the planet.
They are finding comets, charting seismographic activity, monitoring tectonic drift and keeping my Poke bowl cold in my brand, new, smart fridge!

Frozen

 

 

[ Edited: 22 December 2017 02:47 by FROZEN]
 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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21 December 2017 06:44
 
FROZEN - 21 December 2017 04:51 AM
Dzoldzaya - 18 December 2017 12:05 PM

Sam recently spoke about global warming on his episode with Joseph Romm and correctly realizes the urgency of the problem. But previously he’d hardly even mentioned environmental problems as significant ethical questions, despite going very deeply into ethical questions concerning human and (farm) animal rights. There are a few questions I seem to constantly think about while listening to Sam:
1. Everybody knows that keeping the current (already greatly diminished) biodiversity on earth will bring great value, both practical and aesthetic, to future generations of humans, but is human consciousness/ suffering necessarily the ‘master value’ for discussion on morality and ethics? Can we rationally talk about environmental ethics without centring it on to the impact of environmental issues on human lives?
2. Are crimes causing human suffering, or those involving farming and mistreatment of countless non-human farm animals really the great crimes our ancestors will condemn us for? Or, will it be the loss of species diversity and a sustainable global eco-system, which don’t really enter into the more narrow view of morality based on experience and suffering?
3. Is there arguably a different value to other existing life forms and potential life forms that could/ will exist? Even from the more narrow ‘suffering as master value’ view, biodiversity will lead to more different forms of experience, which could lead to something like ‘higher levels’ of experience in the future.
4. Even if we consider human experience/ suffering to be the ‘master value’, shouldn’t we still be aware that environmental destruction will have greater impacts on future generations than even the most heinous of human rights abuses? Shouldn’t every moral philosopher’s priorities be massively stacked in favour of environmental issues? Should we consider contributing to environmental destruction as a far more morally abhorrent crime than something simply causing human suffering? Is this a problem with both the legal system and moral philosophy?
5. If the more pessimistic predictions on climate change and global environmental damage are likely to be true, how would moral philosophy address the ‘extreme measures’ that could be called for? Think what a super-intelligent AI would do if its job was to save the planet?
I’ve always been a bit biased towards biophilia and an anti-humanist viewpoint (although I’m currently reconsidering my ethical stances), but I think the commonly held biases the other way are so strong and so ubiquitous that people with my inclinations see narrow anthropocentrism and ethical short-sightedness everywhere.
Any thoughts?

Yes i have a few thoughts.
First off wow what a puzzle it was to get to that last question and wow what a payoff. It was totally worth it.
But, when I read the post I noticed the title, intro and conclusion made perfect sense and seemed to be in the voice of a native english speaker but the body questions really felt like they were not written by a native english speaker.
Wass up wit dat?
Maybe its just me but please feel free to double check me.
OK here it is.

1. Everybody knows that keeping the current (already greatly diminished) biodiversity on earth will bring great value, both practical and aesthetic, to future generations of humans, but Is human consciousness/ suffering necessarily the ‘master value’ for discussion on morality and ethics?
Answer: YES.
Edit: Since the OP used the phrase “great value” in his question intro and ‘master value’ in the body im going to define master value as ‘greater value.’
*And even though Javascript fans fully understand the relation between mutable and immutable ‘master value’ im not sure the OP, I or anyone else does.

1B) Can we rationally talk about environmental ethics without centring it on to the impact of environmental issues on human lives?
Answer: YES, of course we can.

2. Are crimes causing human suffering, or those involving farming and mistreatment of countless non-human farm animals really the great crimes our ancestors will condemn us for OR will it be the loss of species diversity and a (loss of a ) sustainable global eco-system, which don’t really enter into the more narrow view of morality based on experience and suffering?
Answer: YES. Our ancestors will condemn us more for ruining our sustainable eco-system than for crimes committed against farm animals.
** Mistreatment of innocent animals is inexcusable in every case but steaks are tasty.

3. Is there arguably a different value to other existing life forms and potential life forms that could/ will exist?
Answer: YES

3A) Even from the more narrow ‘suffering as master value’ view, biodiversity will lead to more different forms of experience, which could lead to something like ‘higher levels’ of experience in the future.
Answer: This is technically a statement.

4. Even if we consider human experience/ suffering to be the ‘master value’, shouldn’t we still be aware that environmental destruction will have greater impacts on future generations than even the most heinous of human rights abuses?
Answer: No. If its a choice between cutting off a humans limb or a trees limb id have to give the nod to the human.
Environmental destruction is however a human rights issue as it destroys human habitat but habitat destruction kdoesn’t reach the same level as a human rights abuse/ violation.
Personal Note: This was a hard question to answer.

4A) Shouldn’t every moral philosopher’s priorities be massively stacked in favour of environmental issues?
Answer: NO and please don’t should on your reader.

4B) Should we consider contributing to environmental destruction as a far more morally abhorrent crime than something simply causing human suffering?
Answer: NO. There is no simple human suffering. Its all horrible.

4C) Is this a problem with both the legal system and moral philosophy?
Answer: YES. Corporate interests lobby (bribe) lawmakers and that prevents them from representing the general populations interest.

5. If the more pessimistic predictions on climate change and global environmental damage are likely to be true, how would moral philosophy address the ‘extreme measures’ that could be called for?
Answer: You should refer this question to the moral philosophers because im not touching it!

5A) Think what a super-intelligent AI would do if its job was to save the planet?
Answer: This is the most interesting question of the bunch. Id guess, and at this time its only a guess, but I believe ASI is already saving the planet.
They are finding comets, charting seismographic activity, monitoring tectonic drift and keeping my Poke bowl cold in my brand, new, smart fridge!

Frozen

 

What seems most alarming to me is how apathetic so many people have become. To suggest that humanity has some kind of moral authority over all other life is evidence of how patently flawed the concept of morality is. There is no beneficent Artificial Intelligence coming to save the planet or otherwise present us with our salvation, and we are judged by our progeny, not our ancestors.

There’s a very simple reason that a discussion regarding the rapid acceleration of climate change would altogether exclude any mention of the behavioral ethics which have led the species to such an ostensibly dire crisis. The planet is saving itself from our species, not for our species.


“God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time.” -James Baldwin

 
 
FROZEN
 
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FROZEN
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21 December 2017 21:17
 

UBIQUE13
The planet is saving itself from our species, not for our species.

I think you should flesh out your position, develop a defensible argument and post it up!
My advice. Aim small, miss small.

 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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21 December 2017 21:54
 
FROZEN - 21 December 2017 09:17 PM

UBIQUE13
The planet is saving itself from our species, not for our species.

I think you should flesh out your position, develop a defensible argument and post it up!
My advice. Aim small, miss small.

Fortunately, smarter individuals than myself have made the arguments for me.

All of it seems to have been predictable.

So very predictable.

Then it turns into a headache.

 
 
FROZEN
 
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FROZEN
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22 December 2017 02:34
 
ubique13 - 21 December 2017 09:54 PM
FROZEN - 21 December 2017 09:17 PM

UBIQUE13
The planet is saving itself from our species, not for our species.

I think you should flesh out your position, develop a defensible argument and post it up!
My advice. Aim small, miss small.

Fortunately, smarter individuals than myself have made the arguments for me.

All of it seems to have been predictable.

So very predictable.

Then it turns into a headache.


Yes thats true but we havent heard your spin.

WTF else are you here for? (respectfully)

OK if you wont accept the challenge then how about just a simple 5 paragraph essay on any forum subject.
Lets see what you are made of…

FROZEN SOLID

 

 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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22 December 2017 04:58
 
FROZEN - 22 December 2017 02:34 AM
ubique13 - 21 December 2017 09:54 PM
FROZEN - 21 December 2017 09:17 PM

UBIQUE13
The planet is saving itself from our species, not for our species.

I think you should flesh out your position, develop a defensible argument and post it up!
My advice. Aim small, miss small.

Fortunately, smarter individuals than myself have made the arguments for me.

All of it seems to have been predictable.

So very predictable.

Then it turns into a headache.


Yes thats true but we havent heard your spin.

WTF else are you here for? (respectfully)

OK if you wont accept the challenge then how about just a simple 5 paragraph essay on any forum subject.
Lets see what you are made of…

FROZEN SOLID

Oh, Frozen… snake

My personal opinion on this matter isn’t one that I’d consider to be popular or widely held, and I can’t say that I can blame most people for being unwilling to want to imagine that it is true. Nevertheless, I’m not exactly shy about it, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Having spent most of my life in the area of New York City’s suburbs/exurbs, I have quite vivid memories of a time when there were four very distinct seasons, each with relatively predictable yearly weather patterns. In the little over three decades that I have existed, those weather patterns have shifted so dramatically that New York has begun to see tropical storms unlike anything that most people here seem to have been expecting. The next tropical storm that hits this area that is as powerful as Sandy had been will likely cause far more property and infrastructure damage than the State or Federal governments have prepared for, to say nothing of the cost in human life.

With that said, and having addressed my own individual existential dread, I really don’t think that there is much reason to worry about any of what I am fairly sure is going to happen. The ice caps are melting so much faster than expected that it’s caused a bizarre kind of reflexive denial of climate change (which had already been rebranded because people seem allergic to understanding how a rapid global warming might cause an ice age).

With the most recent cleaving and calving of the Antarctic ice shelf, my instinct tells me to get to a higher altitude. In lieu of escaping the glorified sandbar that I live on, I suspect I’ll have an awesome view of the tidal wave that will inevitably turn my house’s foundation into beachfront real estate.

 
 
FROZEN
 
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22 December 2017 13:37
 
ubique13 - 22 December 2017 04:58 AM

Quote edited by FROZEN

Oh, Frozen…
My personal opinion on this matter isn’t one that I’d consider to be popular.

Fair enough U/13,
I think you realize im not your enemy and my proding is because id like to hear your opinion.

If you get to the point where you feel compelled to share your personal opinion and would like a cool organizer you can check this one out.
It really helps me stay on point and clearly state my position.

Best of luck,
Frozen

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/724/01/

 

 

 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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22 December 2017 14:16
 
FROZEN - 22 December 2017 01:37 PM
ubique13 - 22 December 2017 04:58 AM

Quote edited by FROZEN

Oh, Frozen…
My personal opinion on this matter isn’t one that I’d consider to be popular.

Fair enough U/13,
I think you realize im not your enemy and my proding is because id like to hear your opinion.

If you get to the point where you feel compelled to share your personal opinion and would like a cool organizer you can check this one out.
It really helps me stay on point and clearly state my position.


Frankly, I would probably be perpetually terrified if I thought that more people saw things from a perspective as jaded as my own. I do gain some satisfaction from being able to share whatever knowledge that I may possess, but I certainly don’t have any pressing desire to document my thoughts. My opinion regarding the widespread usage of the written word is something of a figurative minefield.

 
 
FROZEN
 
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FROZEN
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22 December 2017 23:35
 
ubique13 - 22 December 2017 02:16 PM
FROZEN - 22 December 2017 01:37 PM
ubique13 - 22 December 2017 04:58 AM

Quote edited by FROZEN

Oh, Frozen…
My personal opinion on this matter isn’t one that I’d consider to be popular.

Fair enough U/13,
I think you realize im not your enemy and my proding is because id like to hear your opinion.

If you get to the point where you feel compelled to share your personal opinion and would like a cool organizer you can check this one out.
It really helps me stay on point and clearly state my position.


Frankly, I would probably be perpetually terrified if I thought that more people saw things from a perspective as jaded as my own. I do gain some satisfaction from being able to share whatever knowledge that I may possess, but I certainly don’t have any pressing desire to document my thoughts. My opinion regarding the widespread usage of the written word is something of a figurative minefield.

Ok
You win!

 
Dzoldzaya
 
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Dzoldzaya
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03 January 2018 09:58
 

Thanks for the reply!

The odd-native speaker thing is probably because I’m a native speaker who’s been living in Asia pretty much only speaking Chinese (and some Hmong) for the last 5 years… I didn’t realise it had affected my English so badly…

In your reply, Frozen, this phrase is the main one I really take issue with:

‘Environmental destruction is however a human rights issue as it destroys human habitat but habitat destruction doesn’t reach the same level as a human rights abuse/ violation.’

This ‘if it doesn’t affect humans it’s a lower level’ seems to be the real crux of the issue. I’m not quite sure what you mean by the mutable/ immutable master value (don’t know java, I’m afraid), but I presume I meant an immutable value that supercedes all other values, which I think you’ve asserted in this claim. To give an analogy:

e.g. If human suffering is a master value, you could ethically wipe out countless animal species just to relieve somebody’s upset stomach.
But, if it isn’t a master value, and you argue that x amount of human suffering has as much value as a certain insect species in the Amazon, irrespective of this species’ effect on human life, human suffering has a value that somehow comparable to other values. This latter example seems reasonable to most lay people, if not those with the typical anthropocentric utilitarian view, possibly including Sam Harris.

I think the ‘suffering as immutable master value’ leads us to a few reductio ad absurdum arguments, but it seems to be the basis of a lot of moral philosophy, which is one issue I’ve been struggling with recently.

The AI question is of course a big, and increasingly relevant, question, I think it raises the issue of how we would think about this without our anthropocentric bias; it’s the classic superintelligence scenario, telling an AI to save our planet and it wipes out half the population before we’ve had a chance to set the parameters.

As for Brazen4’s reply, I think exploring how our moral intuitions interact with our reason can be the most interesting part of ethical questions. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that the ‘minimal footprint’ can be an almost infinite ‘anti-footprint’, but it might take some inventive genius and persuasion, it might take a reassessment of human suffering.

 
Poldano
 
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10 January 2018 21:19
 

The problem of ethics can be seen as entirely a problem of prioritization. We would like a simple axiom from which every correct action decision could be generated by deduction, but the world is too complex in its interdependencies for us to empirically verify any such axiom with any acceptable degree of reliability.

By the way, I think the minimization of suffering is insufficient as a value on which to ground such an axiom. Suffering can be minimized quite inexpensively by giving everyone an overdose of heroin. If one prioritizes either individual life or species continuation as a value, then some suffering has to be accepted. So it is with any singular value that we can currently identify. Neither species continuation nor individual life can be prioritized as a value without quite a number of mitigations to avoid situations that a majority of people would not consider optimum in valuation.

 
 
ubique13
 
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ubique13
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11 January 2018 05:01
 
Poldano - 10 January 2018 09:19 PM

The problem of ethics can be seen as entirely a problem of prioritization. We would like a simple axiom from which every correct action decision could be generated by deduction, but the world is too complex in its interdependencies for us to empirically verify any such axiom with any acceptable degree of reliability.

By the way, I think the minimization of suffering is insufficient as a value on which to ground such an axiom. Suffering can be minimized quite inexpensively by giving everyone an overdose of heroin. If one prioritizes either individual life or species continuation as a value, then some suffering has to be accepted. So it is with any singular value that we can currently identify. Neither species continuation nor individual life can be prioritized as a value without quite a number of mitigations to avoid situations that a majority of people would not consider optimum in valuation.

Just because you would rather overdose on Heroin than live your own life does not mean that life has no value to anyone else. The only problem with ethics is that so few people seem to care.

 
 
Poldano
 
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11 January 2018 15:01
 
ubique13 - 11 January 2018 05:01 AM
Poldano - 10 January 2018 09:19 PM

The problem of ethics can be seen as entirely a problem of prioritization. We would like a simple axiom from which every correct action decision could be generated by deduction, but the world is too complex in its interdependencies for us to empirically verify any such axiom with any acceptable degree of reliability.

By the way, I think the minimization of suffering is insufficient as a value on which to ground such an axiom. Suffering can be minimized quite inexpensively by giving everyone an overdose of heroin. If one prioritizes either individual life or species continuation as a value, then some suffering has to be accepted. So it is with any singular value that we can currently identify. Neither species continuation nor individual life can be prioritized as a value without quite a number of mitigations to avoid situations that a majority of people would not consider optimum in valuation.

Just because you would rather overdose on Heroin than live your own life does not mean that life has no value to anyone else. The only problem with ethics is that so few people seem to care.

I believe you misread my post. I suppose it’s my fault because it was a little sarcastic, and contained more than one idea. I am not in favor of anyone overdosing on heroin, and I don’t believe I said that. I was criticizing a common Utilitarian notion that all ethics can be reduced, in principle, to prioritizing or maximizing a single value. If there is such a value, I don’t believe it is any one that we as humans currently comprehend as a value.

 
 
ubique13
 
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11 January 2018 15:40
 
Poldano - 11 January 2018 03:01 PM
ubique13 - 11 January 2018 05:01 AM
Poldano - 10 January 2018 09:19 PM

The problem of ethics can be seen as entirely a problem of prioritization. We would like a simple axiom from which every correct action decision could be generated by deduction, but the world is too complex in its interdependencies for us to empirically verify any such axiom with any acceptable degree of reliability.

By the way, I think the minimization of suffering is insufficient as a value on which to ground such an axiom. Suffering can be minimized quite inexpensively by giving everyone an overdose of heroin. If one prioritizes either individual life or species continuation as a value, then some suffering has to be accepted. So it is with any singular value that we can currently identify. Neither species continuation nor individual life can be prioritized as a value without quite a number of mitigations to avoid situations that a majority of people would not consider optimum in valuation.

Just because you would rather overdose on Heroin than live your own life does not mean that life has no value to anyone else. The only problem with ethics is that so few people seem to care.

I believe you misread my post. I suppose it’s my fault because it was a little sarcastic, and contained more than one idea. I am not in favor of anyone overdosing on heroin, and I don’t believe I said that. I was criticizing a common Utilitarian notion that all ethics can be reduced, in principle, to prioritizing or maximizing a single value. If there is such a value, I don’t believe it is any one that we as humans currently comprehend as a value.

No worries, the false idolators who worship at the altar of Capitalism have decided it for us all. Our lives are all under control. Just not by us.