• Olivier5
    Would you enjoy playing a game of chess against a grandmaster other than to say you did so?Outlander

    This happened to me once, in an airport lounge. I had hours to wait and the old gentleman next to me in the lounge was reading a chess magazine. I asked him if he wanted to play. He did, though he did not look particularly excited about it, like if playing chess was a bit boring to him... Anyway, I looked around the airport shops for a set, found one, and came back to the lounge with it.

    What followed was rather humbling. I could not make it pass 20 moves in any of the six or seven games we played. When I congratulated him, he said he was a grandmaster.
  • David Pearce

    Apologies, by “hedonic zero” I just mean emotionally neutral experience that is perceived as neither good nor bad. Hedonic zero is what utilitarian philosopher Henry Sidgwick called the “natural watershed” between good and bad experience – though it’s complicated by “mixed states” such as bitter-sweet nostalgia.

    Chess? I enjoy playing against a super-grandmaster. I lose every time. By contrast, I wouldn’t ever enjoy losing against a human opponent. This is because I’m a typical male human primate. Playing chess against other humans is bound up with primate dominance behaviour of the African savannah. I trust future sentience can outgrow such primitive zero-sum games.

    Thank you for the link to The Twilight Zone (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nice_Place_to_Visit).
    Perhaps see my response to “What if you don’t like it in Heaven?”:
    In short, if we upgrade our reward circuitry, then all experience will be heavenly by its very nature.
  • David Pearce
    I think it’s an open question whether or not a negative utilitarian should rescue that childTheHedoMinimalist
    Negative utilitarianism (NU) is compassion systematised. NUs aren’t in the habit of letting small children drown any more than we’re plotting Armageddon. I’m as keen on upholding the sanctity of life in law as your average deontologist. Indeed, I think the principle should be extended to the rest of the animal kingdom, so-called “high-tech Jainism”: https://www.hedweb.com/transhumanism/neojainism.html
    The reason for such advocacy is that NU is a consequentialist ethic. Valuing and even sanctifying life is vastly more likely to lead to ideal outcome, i.e. the well-being of all sentience, than cheapening life.
    In’t it cost plenty of money to implement any sort of technical fix as a means to end the suffering of wild animals?TheHedoMinimalist
    A pan-species welfare state might cost a trillion dollars or more at today’s prices – maybe almost as much as annual global military expenditure. It’s unrealistic, even if humans weren’t systematically harming nonhumans in factory-farms and slaughterhouses. However, human society is on the brink of a cultured meat revolution. Our “circle of compassion” will expand in its wake. The most expensive free-living organisms to help won’t be the small fast-breeders, as one might naively suppose (cf. https://www.gene-drives.com), but large slow-breeding vertebrates. I did a costed case study for free-living elephants a few year’s ago: https://www.abolitionist.com/reprogramming/elephantcare.html

    Any practically-minded person (they exist even on a philosophy forum) is likely to be exasperated. What’s the point of drawing up blueprints that will never be implemented? Yet the exponential growth of computer power means that the price of such interventions will collapse. So it’s good to have a debate now over the merits of traditional conservation biology versus compassionate conservation. Bioethicists need to inform ourselves of what is – and isn’t – technically feasible. On the latter score, at least, the prospects are stunningly good. Biotech can engineer a happy biosphere. Politically, such a project may take hundreds or even thousands of years. But I can’t think of a more worthwhile goal.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    Negative utilitarianism (NU) is compassion systematised. NUs aren’t in the habit of letting small children drown any more than we’re plotting Armageddon. I’m as keen on upholding the sanctity of life in law as your average deontologist.David Pearce

    Wait, so are you like a rule utilitarian then? Also, it seems to me that you can argue that we should uphold the sanctity of life in law without thinking that we should prevent a child from drowning. For one, I think that the notion of preserving the sanctity of life that exists in law mostly has to do with the prohibition against ending lives rather than an obligation that one must prevent the ending of a life. I don’t think it’s usually illegal for someone to refuse to prevent the child from drowning. Given this, I’m not sure why you think that this scenario isn’t even an open question or a tricky judgement call for a NU. After all, aren’t NUs ultimately trying to reduce the amount of the suffering in the world as their primary goal? Wouldn’t preventing the child from drowning have a significant potential to increase the amount of suffering in the world? If the answer to the latter question is yes, then wouldn’t letting the child drown be potentially compatible with the notion that NU is compassion systematized? Also, Wouldn’t you just define compassion as the prevention or alleviation of suffering as a NU?
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.