• schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    With ethical theories, you can have positive ethics and negative ethics. Roughly speaking, negative ethics would be about preventing or mitigating suffering while a positive ethics would focus more on creating well-being and happiness. You can have a mixture of the two, but I am proposing that it is only negative ethics that matters. Well-being presupposes that we are on some "journey" and thus "people" should "get on board with it". In the real world what this amounts to is that suffering is often at the behest of well-being. "True well-being requires suffering". "Being born has its suffering aspects, but it is well worth the rewards". Thus the "mixed bag" approach to ethics leads to an inevitable violation of negative ethics in favor of positive.

    However, I do not see why this assumption must be true that negative ethics must give way to positive or that the positive necessarily needs to override the negative. Why would the prevention of suffering take a back seat to the promotion of "well-being"? Of course, the biggest place we find this coming to loggerheads is the issue of procreation. People want children DESPITE the inevitable suffering, because they want to create well-being (de novo) which will require them to experience and even overcome suffering.
  • armonie
    36
    Good and evil, let's start there.

    We can also bring this ethic to the fact that we are forced to live.
    Live = good. And from this perspective, euthanasia for example is considered a less of morality.
    Socrates said to live, all life in general is like being sick.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    We can also bring this ethic to the fact that we are forced to live.
    Live = good. And from this perspective, euthanasia for example is considered a less of morality.
    Socrates said to live, all life in general is like being sick.
    armonie

    Why does live=good? Why does the principle of preventing harm when you are able (even by simply refraining from procreation, as birth is the source of experiences of suffering) have to give way to positive ethics? What justifies positive ethics over and above a negative one? Simply asserting life=good doesn't seem like much of an argument at this point, though I can see you perhaps starting one with a certain premise that life just "is" necessary. However, this still needs some reasoning and substantiation behind it.
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    I am proposing that it is only negative ethics that mattersschopenhauer1

    Matters to whom and by what measure?

    I do not see why this assumption must be true that negative ethics must give way to positive or that the positive necessarily needs to override the negative. Why would the prevention of suffering take a back seat to the promotion of "well-being"?schopenhauer1

    What would constitue an answer to this question?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    Matters to whom and by what measure?Isaac

    Humans. Ethical first principles.

    What would constitue an answer to this question?Isaac

    One where you would justify prevention of harm being less important than X positive ethic.
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    Maslow's hierarchy of needs comes to mind.

    Suffering, the real gut-wrenching kind, inhabits the world of basic necessities. Granted the definition of basic necessities require modification but let's stick to food, shelter and clothes. As you already know the privation of the severest kind consists in these bare necessitiesof life being unfulfilled.

    Sure, negative ethics which I'll read as alleviation/mitigation of suffering is vital to any viable ethical theory. However, considering that the bare necessities of life is now achieved (at least in the developed world) we can turn to the other pressing concern viz. achieving true wellbeing - the Socratic eudaimonia - which I think is another word for what you call positive ethics.

    I'm ignoring the true complexity of the issue here. The definition of bare necessities changes and as we acquire the items in the lower rung of Maslow's hierarchy of needs they fade away and a new set of bare necessities take their place. I believe this is how it works.

    So, what you see as a fault is just what is expected. Perhaps disparities in wellbeing in our world reinforces this belief.
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    Matters to whom and by what measure? — Isaac


    Humans. Ethical first principles.
    schopenhauer1

    How are you determining that the primacy of positive ethics isn't itself an ethical first principle? Do ethical first principles have labels attached identifying them as such?

    One where you would justify prevention of harm being less important than X positive ethic.schopenhauer1

    You've just changed the words. What would constitue my having 'justified' it?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    You've just changed the words. What would constitue my having 'justified' it?Isaac

    That is precisely what I'm asking everyone.

    How are you determining that the primacy of positive ethics isn't itself an ethical first principle? Do ethical first principles have labels attached identifying them as such?Isaac

    I don't know, tell me how it is. That's what I'm wondering. A person only has to label it such and explain why more important than other ethical theories (in this case negative ethics). Which is what I'd be asking here about positive ethics.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    Maslow's hierarchy of needs comes to mind.TheMadFool

    I'm ignoring the true complexity of the issue here. The definition of bare necessities changes and as we acquire the items in the lower rung of Maslow's hierarchy of needs they fade away and a new set of bare necessities take their place. I believe this is how it works.TheMadFool

    Right, suffering is more than bare necessities. It encompasses any negative feeling. Undue suffering is surely its own category but need not be the only one. If we define it like that, why does self-actualizing or any other higher levels in Maslow's hierarchy HAVE to be the goal over and above mitigating negative experiences? This ties into the idea that we are on a mission to self-actualize. Why is this mission to self-actualize, or to accomplish things, or to connect with people have to take place above and beyond prevention of bad experiences? Also, being that in reality self-actualization and positive psychology, etc. vascilates with negative ones, it should really be rephrased as to why does the pursuit of the positive experiences become more important than simply preventing negative ones or suffering.

    To re-frame this in antinatalist terms. Why does the chance to pursue higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy matter more than preventing all negative experiences? Why experience over non-experience? Do we get a spiritual dog biscuit when we go through the experiences? Is it because we are on a mission to make more people who must self-actualize?
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    You've just changed the words. What would constitue my having 'justified' it? — Isaac


    That is precisely what I'm asking everyone.
    schopenhauer1

    It sounded like you were asking why people thought positive rather than negative ethics should have primacy, as if you already knew what kind of statement might constitue an answer.

    If I said, in answer to your question "positive ethics should have primacy over negative ethics because I prefer positive ethics" would that be an acceptable answer for you? If not, what would be wrong with it?

    A person only has to label it such and explain why more important than other ethical theories (in this case negative ethics)schopenhauer1

    No, if it's an ethical first principle there is no further underlying principle upon which to make any such measure of importance. Importance to whom and to what end?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    If I said, in answer to your question "positive ethics should have primacy over negative ethics because I prefer positive ethics" would that be an acceptable answer for you? If not, what would be wrong with it?Isaac

    It would be essentially a tautology. That it is an obvious preference for many is recognized. Why is it preferred though? To what end are we getting out of people born for X positive ethics, for example? TheMadFool gave an example of people pursuing higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy. This is somehow preferable than no experience, but why? I jokingly answered, "in order to get a spiritual dog biscuit at the end of the run for Maslow's self-actualization"? To bask in the glow of self-actualizationhood?

    Importance to whom and to what end?Isaac

    To humans, and I'm asking for what end.
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    To humans, and I'm asking for what end.schopenhauer1

    This is the crux of the problem. Nothing at the level of rhetoric, where we now are, is important 'to humans'. Some things are important to some humans, other things are important to other humans, and there's no external judge to determine who's right and who's wrong about that.

    And isn't 'persuing what I prefer' an end... the only end, in fact?

    At some point in asking why people prefer the things they do, you have to defer to either their final say on the matter (usually "I don't know, I just do"), or you look to empirical evidence you see as correlating with unconscious desires (say sociology or human biology). Asking people is never going to get you further back than their own first principles, which could be almost anything.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    This is the crux of the problem. Nothing at the level of rhetoric, where we now are, is important 'to humans'. Some things are important to some humans, other things are important to other humans, and there's no external judge to determine who's right and who's wrong about that.Isaac

    But in the realm of procreation, we certainly are making those decisions for others and then letting them "decide" with suicide :chin: . That is suspect, so there is something to be said as to what should be important for all humans, being that we are all born for "some" reason (i.e. positive ethics).

    And isn't 'persuing what I prefer' an end... the only end, in fact?Isaac

    You tell me. Is pursuing X more important than preventing negative experience? This really comes to a head in the realm of procreation. Why are we making more people in the first place?

    At some point in asking why people prefer the things they do, you have to defer to either their final say on the matter (usually "I don't know, I just do"), or you look to empirical evidence you see as correlating with unconscious desires (say sociology or human biology). Asking people is never going to get you further back than their own first principles, which could be almost anything.Isaac

    Granted. Again, this is more about creating new people. But certainly, they have SOME answer (not usually a good one) as to why X, Y, Z has to happen by bringing a new person into the world. They MUST accomplish X, Y, Z.. And being that you and I and everyone is a product of this kind of thinking, it is extremely relevant to existential matters of why anything.
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    there is something to be said as to what should be important for all humans, being that we are all born for "some" reason (positive ethics).schopenhauer1

    But on what could we possibly base such an investigation? Having just established that what is important for humans is a mixed bag, and you having previously answered twice that any judgements can only be rendered on the basis of what is important to humans, how can we possibly make any progress determining what should be important to humans?

    If we don't accept what actually is important to all humans as authoritative, then how can we possibly judge what should be important to all humans, when the only metric we have to make that judgement is what actually is important to all humans?

    Again, just imagine an answer "what should be important to all humans is the opportunity to find happiness". What's wrong with that answer?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    Again, just imagine an answer "what should be important to all humans is the opportunity to find happiness". What's wrong with that answer?Isaac

    If it means physically bringing another human into existence, it would violate non-aggression principle (don't force things for any reason, including "finding the opportunity to pursue happiness"). It assumes people pursuing happiness is more important than not bringing about conditions of negative experiences upon another person (which does happen in the "mixed bag"). Why the violation of non-aggression and why the violation of creating conditions of negative experiences in the first place for another person must be followed, does not seem to compute.

    Rather, if no one is born, no one suffers. No one is forced into anything. No one is around to be deprived of happiness. Those are my reasons, but I see no good ones on the other side. I suggested one jokingly, that we all get a spiritual dog biscuit because we "pursued our happiness". That is to say, there is no real good excuse to do this in regards to making other people.
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    Right, suffering is more than bare necessities. It encompasses any negative feeling. Undue suffering is surely its own category but need not be the only one. If we define it like that, why does self-actualizing or any other higher levels in Maslow's hierarchy HAVE to be the goal over and above mitigating negative experiences? This ties into the idea that we are on a mission to self-actualize. Why is this mission to self-actualize, or to accomplish things, or to connect with people have to take place above and beyond prevention of bad experiences? Also, being that in reality self-actualization and positive psychology, etc. vascilates with negative ones, it should really be rephrased as to why does the pursuit of the positive experiences become more important than simply preventing negative ones or suffering.

    To re-frame this in antinatalist terms. Why does the chance to pursue higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy matter more than preventing all negative experiences? Why experience over non-experience? Do we get a spiritual dog biscuit when we go through the experiences? Is it because we are on a mission to make more people who must self-actualize?
    schopenhauer1

    Look at the accepted history of humanity. Started off as hunter-gatherers who could manage a few grunts in form of communication, finally settled down on the banks of a large river, and then built what we call "civilization". Superimpose on that Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Do you observe any changes? Food --> House --> self-actualization. While not completely true, negative ethics is a thing of the past for a good number of modern humans. They're now in the self-actualization business. Much like you are and others who pursue the arts and sciences. At a very minimum the world now has the environment for positive ethics. Of course, even taking only a wild guess, the vast majority live in conditions that validate your claim for emphasis on negative ethics. Yet, the dark ominous cloud does have that thin silver lining where some are lucky to reside.
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    If it means physically bringing another human into existence, it would violate non-aggression principleschopenhauer1

    A principle not everyone agrees with, without exceptions.

    It assumes people pursuing happiness is more important than not bringing about conditions of negative experiences upon another personschopenhauer1

    Again, an assumtion many are happy to make.

    I see no good ones on the other sideschopenhauer1

    Of course you don't, because the 'goodness' of a reason is subjective. You think other people's reasons are not 'good', they think they are 'good'. Unless you have a definition of 'good' on which you both agree, no further progress can possibly be made can it... And yet you persist.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    While not completely true, negative ethics is a thing of the past for a good number of modern humans. They're now in the self-actualization business. Much like you are and others who pursue the arts and sciences. At a very minimum the world now has the environment for positive ethics. Of course, even taking only a wild guess, the vast majority live in conditions that validate your claim for emphasis on negative ethics. Yet, the dark ominous cloud does have that thin silver lining where some are lucky to reside.TheMadFool

    I see a lot of assumptions that suffering is only about third world problems. I see it much deeper than that. You yourself were trying to explain how as you go higher in the hierarchy (if we are to buy into the model), more refined forms of negative experience await you. You don't automatically become the happiest person ever, the situations which bring about negative experiences, the milieu changes. One can argue it is even worse than before if we don't look at negative experiences as pure crass survival or lifespan, etc. Think of the hedonic treadmill, etc.

    We have only so many options. We didn't have the option for no options. Why not? What is it about these options that we need to live out?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    Of course you don't, because the 'goodness' of a reason is subjective. You think other people's reasons are not 'good', they think they are 'good'. Unless you have a definition of 'good' on which you both agree, no further progress can possibly be made can it... And yet you persist.Isaac

    I agree it is all about agreeing about first principles. I will keep trying to convince on this front. At the very least, by NOT having children, my first principles brings about no collateral damage, no suffering onto a new person. I am not forcing an agenda to live out the options of our reality. I do not have to prove much. I harmed no one, and forced no one. I see the onus on the otherside as to why bringing about conditions of harm, and forcing these conditions with collateral damage is necessary. That is the difference here in our current deadlock.
  • HereToDisscuss
    68
    Thus the "mixed bag" approach to ethics leads to an inevitable violation of negative ethics in favor of positive.schopenhauer1

    Apart from the unnecessary word -"violation", which has negative connations and can just be replaced by something like "trade off"-, this is exactly what people who claim that positive things have intrinsic value say. I'm not sure what your point is.

    However, I do not see why this assumption must be true that negative ethics must give way to positive or that the positive necessarily needs to override the negative. Why would the prevention of suffering take a back seat to the promotion of "well-being"?schopenhauer1
    Well, i would say that it comes from the fact that pleasure/happiness and pain/suffering come hand in hand-suffering is there so that we are discouraged from doing that thing in order to avoid suffering (for example, we do not come too near to a fire because of the pain that we would experience if we did so) while pleasure is there so that we are encouraged to do another thing in order to achieve pleasure (for example, a little child may do his homework because the mother will give him a chocolate if he finishes it) These two things make is so that we are inclined to do the best thing for our species and the species may actually function properly as a result.
    This is probably oversimplified, so there are most likely some errors. Howewer, the point is, there is no reason to treat them very seperately-they exist for the same thing (the betterment of society), they just work differently.
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    more refined forms of negative experience await you.schopenhauer1

    Look at it this way then. Yes, suffering scales with your situation on the hierarchy of needs. You called it, quite aptly I must say, "refined suffering". However, realize that suffering gains a place in ethics only insofar as it prevents self-actualization or flourishing. Of course immediate relief of real and abject suffering is vital. Absence of such privation must be a priority but then it's meaning is only in relation to fulfillment, the real goal

    Imagine a bucket with a hole. Yes the hole (suffering) must be adequately sealed (negative ethics) but the goal actually is to fill the bucket (positive ethics).
  • Isaac
    1.7k
    why bringing about conditions of harm, and forcing these conditions with collateral damage is necessary. That is the difference here in our current deadlock.schopenhauer1

    You keep getting almost there but then fall back on the same absolutism at the end.

    What possible reasons could anyone give you in answer to the question 'why?' here. Both what makes something 'necessary' and what constitutes a satisfactory reason why, are subjective. People have given you reasons why they think such conditions are necessary to bring about. They have given you such reason in droves. You have simplyffound they do not match what you consider necessary, or that their reason isn't sufficient for you. This is inevitable because you are clearly fairly well versed in the opposing arguments and yet remain of an anti-natalist perspective.

    So I'm baffled (and I think you're confused too) about what you're asking for here.

    If people give their reasons for having children according to their own ethical principles, you say "I don't share those ethical principles". Well, that much is obvious.

    If you ask people to give their reasons for having children according to your ethical principles, they obviously can't because your ethical principles lead to the conclusion that one shouldn't have children.

    I don't understand what you think you're going to get out of keeping on hammering this.
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    Sorry, misunderstood discussion. Delete comment please mods
  • deletedmemberMD
    590
    So I have some questions for you; What are you views on the consent problem with regards to being born and vice versa the exact same problem with regards to dying?

    I did not consent to have life, neither did I consent for life to one day end.

    Then as with all ethical principles; we have to justify to ourselves whether or not a demanding principle will ever be universally applicable. If Antinatalism is ethical, why not genocide or mass sterilisation? Come to think of it, in order to really eliminate pain and suffering, (important distinctions which I'll get to in a moment) doesn't the problem demand a universe ending solution? Is that not a little too demanding of a principle for our small little species to have?

    Finally on the difference between pain and suffering. We have very little control over whether we feel pain. Pain is a cold hard objective truth about the human experience. Suffering however, that is letting the abstract self via esteem or ego be harmed is entirely within ones own control. You can just not put your sense of self value on such shaky pedestals that bodily pain has any bearing on them. You dont have control of your body, it's out of your control. Bacteria doesn't ask our permission to make us sick its just trying to live itself. You can make choices which contribute towards positive outcomes but the outcomes themselves are mostly out of your control. You can be healthy as a horse and still fall and break your leg.

    If we want to go into the deep why of why we believe or do anything then maybe I'll claim to be a complete fatal asteroidist and claim that absolutely everything is pointless because tomorrow might be Asteroid impact day. Or as the Gauls would say, "The sky will fall on our heads tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes."

    The key thing to remember is that humans are getting better at reducing pain inducing environments.

    Can I ask you something which I feel is very important? How teachable is Antinatalism to a child? How would a child feel if they were told that having children is the worst thing a person could do? Pretty sure the reaction would not be a good one.

    You seem to know a lot about your ethical principles, but what about your metaethical ones?
  • NOS4A2
    1.7k


    With ethical theories, you can have positive ethics and negative ethics. Roughly speaking, negative ethics would be about preventing or mitigating suffering while a positive ethics would focus more on creating well-being and happiness.

    I think the assumption of a “negative ethics” is the problem to begin with, because “not bringing about negative experiences” seems to me to be the same as doing nothing. One cannot show ethical conduct towards beings that do not exist, so it turns out negative ethics is more an exercise in self-serving than an ethical stance.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    Apart from the unnecessary word -"violation", which has negative connations and can just be replaced by something like "trade off"-, this is exactly what people who claim that positive things have intrinsic value say. I'm not sure what your point is.HereToDisscuss

    I'm saying why should this trade off be considered justifiable on behalf of someone else? What makes the trade off more important than the original state of non-being (and non-suffering) to begin with?

    These two things make is so that we are inclined to do the best thing for our species and the species may actually function properly as a result.
    This is probably oversimplified, so there are most likely some errors. Howewer, the point is, there is no reason to treat them very seperately-they exist for the same thing (the betterment of society), they just work differently.
    HereToDisscuss

    So the species work properly and betterment of society are the two positive ethics I see here (an example of X that I proposed for whatever positive ethics one proposes). Why do we need people born to better society and the species to work properly? I guess, a) Why prima facie does this matter? b) Why would forcing existence on someone who will definitely suffer be justified for this? In other words, why would the two negative ethical principles of non-aggression (non-forcing) and non-harming be violated on behalf of this grand agenda of species and society?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    Imagine a bucket with a hole. Yes the hole (suffering) must be adequately sealed (negative ethics) but the goal actually is to fill the bucket (positive ethics).TheMadFool

    If we both agree that more refined suffering exists at higher levels (along with the "fulfillment"), why would the fulfillment matter in the face of at least some negative experience? In other words, what about "fulfillment" overrides the two principles of non-aggression and non-harm? Why should this grand agenda be enough justification to override the negative ethics? Certainly no one needs fulfillment prior to birth. You must violate the principles of non-harm, non-aggression to another person, in order to create these chances for fulfillment. Why does thinking something is good for someone else count as being a reason to violate these negative ethical principles?
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    I don't understand what you think you're going to get out of keeping on hammering this.Isaac

    So discourse on ethical principles to me is like discourse on politics. In politics, there are people with very inbuilt beliefs that are hard to dislodge with even the best of arguments. However, it does not mean we must give up trying to maintain the dialogue. Same goes for this discourse on ethics and antinatalism. It is a discourse that despite the seeming intractable nature of differences, can still find some understanding and at least get something from hearing the other side, even if there is no compromise. Perhaps my arguments give someone just a bit of pause when thinking about they "why". Perhaps my arguments get more perspectives to consider, even just to strengthen it in the end.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    If Antinatalism is ethical, why not genocide or mass sterilisation? Come to think of it, in order to really eliminate pain and suffering, (important distinctions which I'll get to in a moment) doesn't the problem demand a universe ending solution? Is that not a little too demanding of a principle for our small little species to have?Mark Dennis

    Nah, I couple the prevent harm principle almost always with non-aggression principle. You should not force anyone into your perspective. In fact that is one of the main reasons for antinatalism in the first place.

    Suffering however, that is letting the abstract self via esteem or ego be harmed is entirely within ones own control. You can just not put your sense of self value on such shaky pedestals that bodily pain has any bearing on them. You dont have control of your body, it's out of your control. Bacteria doesn't ask our permission to make us sick its just trying to live itself. You can make choices which contribute towards positive outcomes but the outcomes themselves are mostly out of your control. You can be healthy as a horse and still fall and break your leg.Mark Dennis

    I'm getting mixed messages here.. You acknowledge collateral damage- the undue suffering (you refer to as pain) of individuals from being born. You also think that there are things in our control like making pain worse than it is or whatnot. In other threads I talk about how forcing someone into a game, EVEN if it is "character-building" (in this case, overcoming the temptation to fester on pain), is forcing a game on someone, period. Having a life, means people have to deal with overcoming negative challenges (like succumbing to suffering, if your theory is correct that one succumbs and never just "is" suffering).

    The key thing to remember is that humans are getting better at reducing pain inducing environments.Mark Dennis

    As I've said previously, the higher we go up Maslow's hierarchy, the more the pain just gets "refined", it never actually goes away. Even thinking it can be eliminated would still be using the current non-eliminated beings as a way to get to a generation without suffering (which may not exist at all). To say that suffering is good for people because they can overcome it, still turns suffering into a good thing (like Nietzsche's beyond Good and Evil), and tries to subvert the idea that suffering is negative in order to justify inflicting it on others (in the first place) just so they can feel better by overcoming it.

    Can I ask you something which I feel is very important? How teachable is Antinatalism to a child? How would a child feel if they were told that having children is the worst thing a person could do? Pretty sure the reaction would not be a good one.Mark Dennis

    I probably wouldn't introduce it so starkly to a child like that.

    You seem to know a lot about your ethical principles, but what about your metaethical ones?Mark Dennis

    They can be construed as partly deontological (don't use people for agendas, don't violate certain principles of force and harm) and partly based on consequences of suffering. They rely a lot on axioms of asymmetry of non-existence and its relation to pain. They are also simply existential.. Suffering is not just brute and utilitarian. There is an aspect of desire and will itself which has aspects of suffering due to being deprived, etc. This is a deprivationalist view similar to Schopenhauer.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    I think the assumption of a “negative ethics” is the problem to begin with, because “not bringing about negative experiences” seems to me to be the same as doing nothing. One cannot show ethical conduct towards beings that do not exist, so it turns out negative ethics is more an exercise in self-serving than an ethical stance.NOS4A2

    As long as you think that someone who could have suffered does not suffer is a good thing, it would indeed be ethical. The absolute is that it is good not to suffer. The relative is that not having positive/good experiences only matters if there is some actual person to be deprived of that positive/good.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Positive ethics is intra-worldly, i.e. how to live.

    Negative ethics is prior to the world, i.e. whether or not one should live.

    Once a person exists, they have interests which include having positive experiences.

    Before a person exists, they have no interest in having positive experiences.

    Metaphor: once noodles are boiled, the noodles cannot become rigid again. They also taste better with spice.
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