• Deleteduserrc
    2.8k
    The worst source of severe and readily avoidable suffering in the world is simply remedied. Without slaughterhouses, the entire industrialized apparatus for exploiting and murdering sentient beings would collapse. What's needed isn't Zen-like calm, but a fierce moral urgency and vigorous political lobbying to end the animal holocaust. By contrast, reprogramming the biosphere to eradicate suffering is much more ambitious in every sense. Yes, the "regulative idea" of ending involuntary suffering should inform policy-making and ethics alike. And society as a whole needs to debate what responsible parenthood entails. People who choose to create babies "naturally" create babies who are genetically predisposed to be sick by the criteria of the World Health Organization's own definition of health. By these same criteria, most people alive today are often severely sick. Shortly, genetic medicine will allow the creation of babies who are predisposed to be (at worst) occasionally mildly unwell. A reproductive revolution is happening this century; and the time to debate it is now.David Pearce

    Zen-like calm doesn't preclude fervent participation.

    (I'm laying myself bare to criticism - wouldn't be surprised if there's a revisionist account of Thích Quảng Đức I don't know.)

    But fervency bred from calm here-and-now feels strong to me. I vibe with that, it feels right. No arguments really now: I'd have to pivot to literature. But that's why I mention that I've also gone deep into antinatalism - that suggests we've both touched the harsh nerve of pain, really touched it, and realized how frame-shatteringly painful real pain is.

    But couldn't someone ingenuously frame transhuman as a reflexive reaction (perfect inversion) of holding your hand to the coals and pulling it back (a world - *hands pulling back* - where hands will never be burnt?)
  • David Pearce
    209
    we've both touched the harsh nerve of pain, really touched it, and realized how frame-shatteringly painful real pain is.csalisbury

    Yes. Words fail to communicate the awfulness of severe pain. Extreme suffering corrodes one's values, personality and life itself. Philosophers are widely supposed to love knowledge. But there are some things best left unknown. That said, cultivated ignorance is no excuse for inaction. I hope that oft-derided philosophers will be at the forefront of the abolitionist project. The biotech and AI revolution means that blueprints are now feasible for eradicating suffering altogether in favour of genetically programmed gradients of well-being. A dietary, genetic, reproductive and ecological revolution will eliminate the root of all evil. Whether your hero is Bentham- or Buddha-inspired, will bioethicists rise to the challenge?
  • Deleteduserrc
    2.8k
    I feel you, but how do you personally massage those knots I gestured toward in an earlier post, knots I imagine you're long familiar with? Namely: that 'bayesian' thing I mentioned of how there seems to be a constant (invariance) in scientific and historical progress where what we think we know now proves a hard misframe ( though, granted, a misframe that dialectically lays the conditions for a new frame)

    I absolutely respect your devotion to mitigating clearly-defined evils (to say you're doing much more than me to help others would be a wild understatement) - but how do you sustain your pinpointing of (biologically based, and so capable-of-being-engineered-out) evil against, say, the knocking-down-chesterton's-fence argument? What I'm trying to get at is, it feels to me you have full faith in the current scientific framing (an end of scientific framing ala the much discussed political 'end of history') Is that fair?
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    I absolutely respect your devotion to mitigating clearly-defined evils (to say you're doing much more than me to help others would be a wild understatement) - but how do you sustain your pinpointing of (biologically based, and so capable-of-being-engineered-out) evil against, say, the knocking-down-chesterton's-fence argument? What I'm trying to get at is, it feels to me you have full faith in the current scientific framing (an end of scientific framing ala the much discussed political 'end of history') Is that fair?csalisbury

    From the 26 letters (sic) on my keyboard I can write more than a million English words, about 170,000 in common usage, and string these words into a virtually infinite number of meaningful sentences consistent with correct syntax and grammar. There are 118 known elements. Four or five - (possibly more) fundamental forces (when you think about dark matter/energy.) I think the end of scientific history may be some way off yet.

    Thinking in those terms, and bearing in mind Chesterton's fence - what about epigenetic engineering? Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. For example, it's been shown that starvation suffered by ancestors can alter the epigenetic expression of genes associated with metabolism in subsequent generations.

    This is very strange, and quite contrary to the supposed unidirectional nature of Darwinian (or Mendellian) genetics. It's like the blacksmith's son inheriting big arms. It's not supposed to work like that. It's the Lamarkian heresy come back to bite Darwin in the ass! But it does seem to be real. The mechanisms are not currently well understood - which speaks to Chesterton, or does it - because arguably, epigenetic engineering could bypass many of the moral dilemmas associated with germ-line genetic alteration foisted on subsequent generations, in that - gene expression could be altered phylogenically, as opposed to ontogenically, meaning you could have informed consent.
  • David Pearce
    209
    I absolutely respect your devotion to mitigating clearly-defined evils (to say you're doing much more than me to help others would be a wild understatement) - but how do you sustain your pinpointing of (biologically based, and so capable-of-being-engineered-out) evil against, say, the knocking-down-chesterton's-fence argument? What I'm trying to get at is, it feels to me you have full faith in the current scientific framing (an end of scientific framing ala the much discussed political 'end of history') Is that fair?csalisbury

    Science doesn't understand existence. Our conceptual scheme is desperately inadequate. Cosmology is in flux, the foundations of quantum mechanics are rotten (cf. https://www.hedweb.com/quora/2015.html#measurementproblem) and scientific materialism is inconsistent with the entirety of the empirical evidence:
    https://www.hedweb.com/quora/2015.html#physexplan

    However, the case for reprogramming the biosphere to end suffering is still compelling.
    Compare surgical anaesthesia: https://www.general-anaesthesia.com . Why phenomenal pain exists isn't understood. (Why aren’t we zombies?) Nor is the existence of phenomenal binding. (Why aren't we micro-experiential zombies?) Consequently, a Chesterton's-fence argument might suggest we should shun pain-free surgery until these mysteries are elucidated. Moreover, the mechanism of anaesthetics is still elusive. Surgical anaesthesia itself carries gross and subtle risks. But in practice, I'd insist on anaesthesia (as distinct from just a muscle-paralysing agent like curare) before surgery. I bet you would too. Furthermore, I'd argue that every other patient is entitled to surgical anaesthesia as well (I'm not special.). Reckless? No, we are weighing risk-reward ratios. Likewise with a biohappiness revolution. Mental and physical pain are frightful. They will shortly become genetically optional. Preserving our information-sensitivity keeps our collective options open. Humanity stands on the brink of post-Darwinian life: a "civilisation" in every sense of the term. We should facilitate the transformation.
  • David Pearce
    209
    what about epigenetic engineering?counterpunch
    In our discussion, I've glossed over the role of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (cf.
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/parents-emotional-trauma-may-change-their-children-s-biology-studies-mice-show-how) and indeed epigenetic editing to enhance mood, motivation and analgesia in existing human and nonhuman animals (cf. "'Dead' Cas9-CRISPR Epigenetic Repression Provides Opioid-Free Pain Relief with No Side Effects":
    https://www.genengnews.com/news/dead-cas9-crispr-epigenetic-repression-provides-opioid-free-pain-relief-with-no-side-effects/ ).
    The catch-all term "biological-genetic strategy" to defeat suffering is intended to include these interventions – and more besides.

    because arguably, epigenetic engineering could bypass many of the moral dilemmas associated with germ-line genetic alteration foisted on subsequent generationscounterpunch
    The question to ask is: What should be the "default settings" of new life? Should we continue to create people genetically predisposed to a ghastly range of unpleasant experiences they will only later be able to palliate? Or should we design healthy people:
    https://www.who.int/about/who-we-are/constitution
    ?
  • counterpunch
    1.6k


    In our discussion, I've glossed over the role of transgenerational epigenetic inheritanceDavid Pearce

    Why? You said:

    Philosophers need to acquaint themselves with what's technically feasible so we can have a serious ethical debate on what should be done.David Pearce

    I asked you repeatedly about germline intervention. I wrote:

    Interfering in the human genome, so altering every subsequent human being who will ever live, is a risk that's not justified by depression
    — counterpunch

    You replied:

    Recall that all humans are untested genetic experiments. The germline can be edited – and unedited. But if we don't fix our legacy code, then atrocious suffering will proliferate indefinitely.David Pearce

    You haven't just glossed over epigenetic engineering - that could be performed on the adult individual with their consent. You omitted to mention entirely, an approach that would directly address concerns that I have raised, after telling us that we need to acquaint ourselves with what's technically feasible that we can have a serious ethical debate. Is not consent a serious ethical consideration?
  • David Pearce
    209
    Interfering in the human genome, so altering every subsequent human being who will ever live, is a risk that's not justified by depressioncounterpunch
    Germline interventions are not irreversible. They merely change the genetic default. Might a future hyperthymic civilisation revert to creating babies with high-pain, low-mood (etc) alleles and allelic combinations? It's technically feasible. Likewise breeding babies with alleles for cystic fibrosis and other nasty genetic disorders. But such scenarios lack sociological credibility.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    Germline interventions are not irreversible.David Pearce

    Nor, apparently, necessary to address the problem.
  • David Pearce
    209
    epigenetic engineering - that could be performed on the adult individual with their consentcounterpunch
    Children don't consent to be born. If lack of prior consent is the key issue, one should stay child-free.

    Nor, apparently, necessary to address the problem.counterpunch
    If one believes that antinatalists are wrong to condemn baby-making as inherently unethical, then one must show that genetic experimentation can and will be conducted responsibly. I'm not convinced that responsible experimentation is yet feasible. But we now at least know enough to mitigate the harm of coming into existence in a Darwinian world.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    Children don't consent to be born.David Pearce

    Children can't consent to be born - because they don't exist, and for a long time after they are born, are not deemed responsible enough to give consent. Consent is the purview of responsible adults, and it's responsible adults with ability to make germline genetic interventions on behalf of their offspring - and all subsequent generations. The questions is - should they make germline interventions on behalf of their unborn offspring, and grandchildren etc, when epigenetic engineering suggest that detrimental conditions can be treated with epigenetics, when they are adults - able to give consent?

    If one believes that antinatalists are wrong to condemn baby-making as inherently unethical, then one must show that genetic experimentation can be conducted responsibly. I'm not convinced that responsible experimentation is yet feasible. But we now at least know enough to mitigate the harm of coming into existence in a Darwinian world.David Pearce

    I do not regard causing suffering as inherently unethical. Suffering allows us to navigate the world by teaching us to avoid that which is harmful. The fact that a child born is destined to suffer - is just part of the learning process. Depriving the child of the ability to suffer is harmful. A harm you would inflict without consent - when, again, epigenetics allows for treatment of unnecessary suffering of the individual, with consent, without forever after altering the human genome. Your omission of individual epigenetic therapy on adults, in favour of germline genetic engineering on unborn offspring remains unexplained.
  • David Pearce
    209
    Children can't consent to be born - because they don't exist, and for a long time after they are born, are not deemed responsible enough to give consent. Consent is the purview of responsible adultscounterpunch
    "Responsible" adults are engineered by evolution to maximize the inclusive fitness of their genes, not impartially to weigh whether it's ethical to generate more pain-ridden Darwinian malware. I coo over babies as much as anyone. But on an intellectual level, I recognise they are the victims of our evolutionary psychology.

    I do not regard causing suffering as inherently unethical. Suffering allows us to navigate the world by teaching us to avoid that which is harmful. The fact that a child born is destined to suffer - is just part of the learning process. Depriving the child of the ability to suffer is harmful.counterpunch
    If I (or transhumanists in general) advocated getting "blissed out", thereby robbing people of their ability to learn, then you might have a point. However, you may recall we urge intelligence-amplification. Sentient beings with a hedonic range of +70 to +100 can learn as well as savages with a hedonic range of -10 to 0 to +10.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    If I too ignore everything you say, I'm not interested in talking about, I have to say goodbye!
  • David Pearce
    209
    If I too ignore everything you saycounterpunch
    Apologies, I've done my fallible best to respond, and cited your comments verbatim in my replies. Possibly the conceptual gulf that separates us is too large. Either way, I promise I'm as keen on fostering education as you are – just not by means of suffering:
    https://www.gradients.com/
  • counterpunch
    1.6k


    The question I asked is quite simple: why do you advocate genetic interventions - which are passed on through germ cells to subsequent generations - when, epigenetic therapies are not passed on to subsequent generations, but merely effect the expression of genes in the individual?

    It's using a sledgehammer to break a nut. Why - when there's nutcrackers right there? Were you unaware of epigenetics? Or, did you want to scare people back to the Church - and/or postmodern subjectivism with a sci-fi nightmare?
  • David Pearce
    209
    The question I asked is quite simple: why do you advocate genetic interventions - which are passed on through germ cells to subsequent generations - when, epigenetic therapies are not passed on to subsequent generations, but merely effect the expression of genes in the individual?counterpunch
    Remediation is harder than prevention. Preimplantation genetic screening and counselling are available now. By contrast, the gene-repressing strategy I cited above for pain reduction has been invesigated only in "mouse models". I hope human trials can begin soon.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    high-tech JainismDavid Pearce

    Magnifique! Superb! Excelente! Carry on. Just ignore me!
  • David Pearce
    209
    Magnifique! Superb! Excelente! Carry on. Just ignore me!TheMadFool
    Please forgive me if I've missed a post / point you'd like to see addressed. If you let me know, I'll do my best!
    (High-tech Jainism: https://www.hedweb.com/transhumanism/neojainism.html)
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    So. The real question is, David. Will you use your wealth and influence to purchase a large enough area where, your own and this is the most important, your own offspring can participate in these trials and we all can watch from a distance and see how they fare over time? This I believe, is a vital step in others accepting what seems.. just so odd lol.
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    @David Pearce

    sorry for the double post just for the "@" reminder notification thingy.
  • David Pearce
    209
    So. The real question is, David. Will you use your wealth and influence to purchase a large enough area where, your own and this is the most important, your own offspring can participate in these trials and we all can watch from a distance and see how they fare over timeOutlander
    Recall I'm an antinatalist:
    https://www.hedweb.com/quora/2015.html#agreeantinatal
    My view of life is bleaker than David Benatar's. So no, I won't be conducting genetic experiments on anyone but myself. But selection pressure means that the future belongs to natalists. Natalists conduct around 130 million genetic experiments each year. Should prospective parents be encouraged to mitigate the suffering their experimentation creates? Or should pain-ridden Darwinian malware be encouraged to proliferate indefinitely in its existing guise?
    The transhumanist option strikes me as more humane:
    https://www.hedweb.com/transhumanism/
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    Should prospective parents be encouraged to mitigate the suffering their experimentation creates?David Pearce

    Within reason, sure. I'm sure you can understand and perhaps even respect your opposition calling - not your motives but your attempt to actualize them - this, "transhumanism" as an abominable "Pandora's Box". There is already gene editing and there's been a fierce backlash against it. You yourself said one should be careful and thoroughly and exhaustively account and acknowledge the potential risks. Example, say one is able to make one not need food or water anymore, being able to live for an entire decade. This would cut carbon emissions, animal slaughter, and squalid living conditions worldwide by an unimaginable amount. This is good. Now imagine if that person becomes trapped in a cave. A normal person would eventually starve to death after a month or so. Thus relieving their suffering. A transhuman in this case would live and suffer in their cavernous prison for 10 years. This is bad. The examples only get more extreme. Torture by political powers or criminals, for example. The body shutting down after deprivation or enough trauma is a blessing not a curse, I dare say.

    Or should pain-ridden Darwinian malware be encouraged to proliferate indefinitely in its existing guise?David Pearce

    David.. I've always encouraged one should, at least consider the idea of, separating the art from the artist, as far as philosophies and other creative works. But in this example it's simply not the case. Everything you perceive, have perceived, and ever will perceive is the byproduct and result of "Darwinian malware" .. all your ideas, beliefs, motivations, and suggestions are of the same as well. Life sucks. You wish to make it better. That's admirable. However. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" .. and no that doesn't mean what others think it does. More of a Pandora's Box, better the devil you know, such and such is a double-edged sword, one step forward two steps back, etc..
  • David Pearce
    209
    Life sucks. You wish to make it better. That's admirable. However. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" .. and no that doesn't mean what others think it does. More of a Pandora's Box, better the devil you know, such and such is a double-edged sword, one step forward two steps back, etc..Outlander
    Where in this chronology would you call a halt:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_medicine_and_medical_technology ?
    Or do you advise against only future innovation?
    I don't trust humans either. But if we choose to conserve our genetic source code, then millions of years of obscene suffering still lie ahead of us. By contrast, even a handful of genetic tweaks could dramatically reduce the burden of suffering in the world:
    https://www.hedweb.com/social-media/paradise.pdf
  • Outlander
    1.5k


    You are an atheist, friend. Whether closeted or flouted, it is one and the same. You will never see the big picture in your current state of beliefs. Tell me. Do you really think you knew the world as it was when you were 6? What about when you were 12? Or 20? Or now? The answer has always been the same. A resounding yes. Why do you limit yourself to further knowledge and potential. The answer is the same as why you did when you were 6. Ignorance. Pray some. In sincerity. I dare you.
  • David Pearce
    209
    Do you really think you knew the world as it was when you were 6? What about when you were 12? Or 20? Or now? The answer has always been the same. A resounding yes. Why do you limit yourself to further knowledge and potential. The answer is the same as why you did when you were 6. Ignorance. Pray some.Outlander
    Current scientific evidence does not support the therapeutic benefit of prayer:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16569567/
    ("Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer")
    I am sceptical of the adequacy of our existing conceptual scheme:
    https://www.hedweb.com/quora/2015.html#philmat
    But phasing out the biology of suffering is not just morally imperative. Life animated by gradients of bliss promises an intellectual revolution:
    https://www.hedweb.com/quora/2015.html#psychedelics
  • creativesoul
    10.5k


    Kudos for actually engaging. I appreciate you keeping the implicit promise that many others did not.

    Cheers!
  • David Pearce
    209
    Kudos for actually engaging. I appreciate you keeping the implicit promise that many others did not.creativesoul
    Creativesoul, you are very kind. It's much appreciated.
  • Baden
    13.2k
    Kudos for actually engaging. I appreciate you keeping the implicit promise that many others did not.

    Cheers!
    creativesoul

    Second this. :clap:
  • David Pearce
    209
    Second thisBaden
    Baden, very many thanks.
    Apologies if I've left any loose ends.
  • fdrake
    5k
    Apologies if I've left any loose ends.David Pearce

    You've been talking with us for two months! Time flies. Very many thanks for all you've done.
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