• leo
    704
    One can abstain from procreation and promote love. I would get on board with it. Sadly, the everyday messiness of the world often demands that we demand stuff from each other, and "love" the mooshy good feeling can turn into other things. This especially goes when stuff is on the line (products and services need to get produced!!). So, there is some realities that are not amenable to "love".. Managers gotta do what managers gotta do.. People will feel they deserve more, are better, understand more.. are resentful of those who aren't living up to certain ideals, etc. etc. You can probably name a whole bunch of real life scenarios with even just a small group of people where "love" simply breaks down due to the conditions that are mitigating factors, personalities, education, background, beliefs, how people think.. The variations and factors that distort "loving relations" are mind-boggingly complex and multi-faceted. So in the end, though a great notion, I think it just falls flat in terms of how it plays out.schopenhauer1

    Yes it is more profound and complex than just saying "let's love one another", otherwise Jesus, Gandhi and Lennon wouldn't have been killed. The message is the goal, the problem to work on is how do we get there. Just because simply saying it doesn't solve the problem, that doesn't imply that the problem can't be solved, and thus that love doesn't work. Love works but it's not sufficient. Understanding the world, others and oneself is important too, otherwise how can we truly love that which we don't understand? If we don't understand then love isn't effective, because we don't provide what the other needs.

    The idea that endless growth of production and exploitation of resources is what we need has to go, that idea is mistaken and leads to a lot of suffering. We have to question, rethink and change a lot of things, loving one another within this society won't be very effective, society has to change, and in order for society to change our beliefs have to change. Such as the belief that "it's impossible", "we can't do it". When we believe it's not possible we give up, when we believe it's possible we eventually make discoveries.

    Stopping procreating is the overkill solution to prevent suffering (and it might not work depending on what there is after death). There are ways to ease and prevent suffering within this world, ways we have found and likely ways we have yet to find. When pain is accompanied with suffering we have found painkillers to prevent that suffering. When one suffers from being isolated, love eases that suffering. When one suffers from being harassed, help eases that suffering. As a general rule fear and hate lead to suffering, understand what people fear/hate and why and you can prevent a lot of suffering. Understand how everything is connected and you can see how we all need one another, the whole human species and even the whole of life is like one big organism that we have to take care of, if we hurt one part we're hurting the whole. One great source of suffering is the need to kill to live, I believe eventually we should be able to synthesize food from non-living matter and this will make an immense amount of suffering disappear. And that's just the beginning, there is so much more we can do.

    So I really don't believe suffering is inevitable within this world, I believe and see that we have barely begun working in that direction. It's only beliefs that are hindering progress, but beliefs can change, and people can wake up, not all at once, but a few, and then more and more. And then maybe the antinatalists will be glad to be alive and will change their mind.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    And i will accept this conclusion that is prima facie counter-intuitive. What is wrong with it?HereToDisscuss

    One actually encompasses and respects the individual, and not using them. The other is in a locus that is not where the ethical concerns lie. An principle does not feel pain, people do. Wanting people to be happy and doing something for the principle of happiness are two different things. But it really becomes egregious when the third-party entity is not just happiness (as this can be construed as trying to make the largest number of individuals happy and thus possibly bypassing this argument of third-party), but things like "humanity", "civilization", "technology". People need to be born to keep these kind of things going. That would be a very poor argument for putting conditions of harm on others.

    But even the greatest good or principle of happiness (positive ethics) can be flawed because it is also using people as autonomous individuals for ends that violate this. Thus agreeing that you will put someone in conditions of harm (procreation) because they might experience happiness later on is still using people (by being forced into harm) in order for some greater good principle (some positive experiences) will be some hoped for outcome for that person. It is overlooking the person's autonomy represented by being someone who can be harmed and who can be forced for some hoped for positive outcome. Why did someone's harm and non-aggression (being forced) need to be violated to see some outcome (agenda) come about?

    It was a weaker form of my view that negative ethics entails that we ought to destroy all human life-which was the main topic the whole time. The weakened version was that.
    Do you agree with that at least version? If not, which part of my reasoning was wrong?
    HereToDisscuss

    No because you are violating those who are still here. Somehow your reasoning is stuck in this "greatest good" calculation which this ethical system would not endorse. At least that's how I am reading it. If you feel I've misinterpreted you somewhere, ,let me know.. From what you are saying, we can prevent all future violations by doing a little violation now. That would be exactly the thing I would be advocating against. That's why people often procreate.. by thinking that causing of conditions of harm don't matter as long as X, Y, Z comes from it.
  • HereToDisscuss
    68
    One actually encompasses and respects the individual, and not using them. The other is in a locus that is not where the ethical concerns lie. An principle does not feel pain, people do. Wanting people to be happy and doing something for the principle of happiness are two different things. But it really becomes egregious when the third-party entity is not just happiness (as this can be construed as trying to make the largest number of individuals happy and thus possibly bypassing this argument of third-party), but things like "humanity", "civilization", "technology". People need to be born to keep these kind of things going. That would be a very poor argument for putting conditions of harm on others.schopenhauer1
    Well, what does it mean for the "ethical concerns" to "lie with" individuals? Assuming you are not begging the question by saying our ethical concerns are only about individuals and not society (which is not really correct, see people who advocate such a concept), how does that entail your conclusion that the betterment of society is just some kind of abstract construct that is just really not in touch with this reality?
    I would like to see your argument in a logical form, as i can not imagine such an argument which does not beg the question or has premises that i have no reasons to accept.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    I would like to see your argument in a logical form, as i can not imagine such an argument which does not beg the question or has premises that i have no reasons to accept.HereToDisscuss

    All logic starts with premises. You would just reject that, and it would be a waste of time.
  • HereToDisscuss
    68
    All logic starts with premises. You would just reject that, and it would be a waste of time.schopenhauer1

    Yes, it does. But the point of an argument, typically speaking, is to show that some intuitive premises lead to a position contrary to the defender's position or that the premises the defender adopts lead to a conclusion that is agreed upon to be wrong.
    But your premises seem to be the type that would only be accepted by people who already adopt the conclusion that is entailed by it-so it is kind of useless in showing one thing to be at least somewhat unreasonable and does not actually mean anything regarding whetever that thing is reasonable or not.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    Well, you could just phone me and say "There is a sale going on over a house you would definitely like and time is running out, i will send you the details and you could tell me whetever you wanr to but it or not."HereToDisscuss

    But if I COULDN'T do that for whatever reason I shouldn't buy the thing right? Now can I phone my future kid and ask if he'd be fine with being born? No. So I shouldn't have a kid

    So, that is not a really good example.HereToDisscuss

    You're just being too literal, it is implied I can't get consent from you or else why wouldn't I? Though admittedly I'm bad with examples

    There is always a risk, but it can be drastically reduced.HereToDisscuss

    Would you be fine with me, say, signing you up to the hunger games (I'm bad with examples but bear with me) without your knowledge? After all, while the risk of painful agonizing death is there, there is also the chance you win and have a lifetime of luxury ahead. Also the risk of agonizing death can be reduced significantly with proper training. So it's cool if I sign you up suddenly right? And before you say something about how life isn't nearly like the hunger games and that it's a bad analogy I ask you: How bad must life be for you to consider having children immoral? And should YOU really be the one arbitrarily deciding this? How would you react if someone punched you in the face because they arbitrarily thought that amount of pain was "low enough" that it's fine to do so? Would you forgive them if they said "grow up you should be able to handle that one"
  • khaled
    1.1k
    Physical wellbeing takes precedence over mental wellbeing. I believe the history of medicine stands testimony to this - psychiatry is younger than surgery for example.TheMadFool

    I'm not sure what you mean by "take precedence over". Sure physical well-being takes the highest priority but what I'm saying is after you treat physical ailments the person treated still suffers a similar amount although he is experiencing less physical pain.

    were chosen for their tangible, indubitable impact on our wellbeingTheMadFool

    Do you mean well-being as in "less suffering" or "less pain". They have an indubitable impact on the latter not the former I think.

    My point is that pain has very little to do with suffering and science and technology have thus far mostly treated pain. There are cancer patients that are perfectly content and millionaires struggling with depression. There is surprisingly little evidence to suggest that human suffering has declined over time though pain definitely has.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    My point is that pain has very little to do with suffering and science and technology have thus far mostly treated pain. There are cancer patients that are perfectly content and millionaires struggling with depression. There is surprisingly little evidence to suggest that human suffering has declined over time though pain definitely has.khaled

    Good points...The human animal is hard to satisfy.. and even thinking of it in terms of "satisfaction" might be wrong if it is structural. Satisfaction means that there can be something that will always satisfy.
  • Congau
    64
    From the outset, we can’t demand that anyone does anything, but we can demand that they abstain from doing.

    The ideal amount of suffering that a person should cause is zero – an absolute specific number. There is no ideal amount of well-being to be caused. We can only say “the more the better”. However high a number you make (for example the number of people you have made happy in any way) you can always make it higher, and you will never get closer to any perceived perfection.

    Causing zero suffering can conceivably be a duty. You will fall short, but at least you will know when you have transgressed. It wouldn’t make sense to claim that we have a duty to cause as much well-being as possible. You would never come any closer to having fulfilled this duty.

    Ethics by no means stops at negative ethics. A person who does absolutely nothing, is not a good person although he doesn’t cause any suffering. Also, when actively doing something to promote well-being, there will inevitably be missteps on the way that will cause suffering, but it is to be hoped that the suffering will be much less significant than the well-being.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.6k
    From the outset, we can’t demand that anyone does anything, but we can demand that they abstain from doing.Congau

    Agreed

    The ideal amount of suffering that a person should cause is zero – an absolute specific number. There is no ideal amount of well-being to be caused. We can only say “the more the better”. However high a number you make (for example the number of people you have made happy in any way) you can always make it higher, and you will never get closer to any perceived perfection.Congau

    Good points.

    Causing zero suffering can conceivably be a duty. You will fall short, but at least you will know when you have transgressed. It wouldn’t make sense to claim that we have a duty to cause as much well-being as possible. You would never come any closer to having fulfilled this duty.Congau

    Yep. Yep.

    Ethics by no means stops at negative ethics. A person who does absolutely nothing, is not a good person although he doesn’t cause any suffering. Also, when actively doing something to promote well-being, there will inevitably be missteps on the way that will cause suffering, but it is to be hoped that the suffering will be much less significant than the well-being.Congau

    I would agree with this but with a caveat. That once born, we cannot help but making missteps. The procreational decision is the only one where we can perfectly prevent harm without any collateral damage. Someone might say here that if you are supposed to help alleviate suffering, and then cause suffering, then why not the same for procreation? That's why I mentioned that caveat.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    From the outset, we can’t demand that anyone does anything, but we can demand that they abstain from doing.Congau

    Why not and why? I agree with you but not everyone does.
  • Possibility
    787
    From the outset, we can’t demand that anyone does anything, but we can demand that they abstain from doing.Congau

    Well, I’d be one who disagrees with this. You CAN demand both, but the question is HOW would you ensure that your demand was successful?

    You can demand that people pay taxes, for instance. And you can demand that people abstain from having sex. But how successful can we be with these demands?
  • TheMadFool
    4.3k
    My point is that pain has very little to do with suffering and science and technology have thus far mostly treated pain. There are cancer patients that are perfectly content and millionaires struggling with depression. There is surprisingly little evidence to suggest that human suffering has declined over time though pain definitely has.khaled

    This is really odd indeed. Are you saying that among the countless millions of our forefathers not one single person had the sense to say what you're saying, that suffering is more important than pain or is the more plausible alternative, that pain is the first of our problems, true?

    That said I must agree that medicine has only managed to pluck the low hanging fruit, pain, but then to compare that with the failure to tackle suffering is like disgracing a runner for not winning before the race finishes.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    This is really odd indeed. Are you saying that among the countless millions of our forefathers not one single person had the sense to say what you're saying, that suffering is more important than pain or is the more plausible alternative, that pain is the first of our problems, true?TheMadFool

    I.... Just straight up don't understand this paragraph idk why

    That said I must agree that medicine has only managed to pluck the low hanging fruit, pain, but then to compare that with the failure to tackle suffering is like disgracing a runner for not winning before the race finishes.TheMadFool

    The thing is though, the runner in this case had never even been attempting to win the race I'm talking about. Science and Medicine don't treat suffering, they treat pain. And what I'm saying is, no matter how well you treat pain you haven't treated suffering. I haven't said you CAN'T treat suffering or that we won't some day. It's my hope that we do because while I think the suffering involved in creating a Utopia isn't worth the Utopia, since I know procreation will never cease of people's own accord realistically speaking, I'd much prefer a Utopia than whatever we have right now.
  • Congau
    64
    The procreational decision is the only one where we can perfectly prevent harm without any collateral damage. Someone might say here that if you are supposed to help alleviate suffering, and then cause suffering, then why not the same for procreation?schopenhauer1
    The procreational decision would be much the same as any other well-meaning act that also may cause collateral damage, wouldn’t it? The only difference is that procreation is not in itself good or bad since the potential sufferer or happy person is not yet existing. If you think life in general is more well-being than suffering, at least procreation can’t be that bad.

    From the outset, we can’t demand that anyone does anything, but we can demand that they abstain from doing.
    — Congau
    Why not and why? I agree with you but not everyone does.
    khaled
    A person has not chosen his birth therefore it would be very unfair to make demands just because he has been born. On the other hand, if you apply for a membership in a club, they can make demands on you as a condition for membership. Then you can choose if you accept it or not.

    We can demand that a person involuntarily born abstains from doing since other people who also happen to have been born are present and from the plain fact of birth no one takes precedence. From that common starting point, we can’t allow that anyone takes up space at the expense of others. It can only be allowed later when more facts are added.

    You can demand that people pay taxes, for instance.Possibility
    No, you can’t demand that people pay taxes if they have never worked. If a person chooses to be a vegetable, you can’t demand anything from him.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    A person has not chosen his birth therefore it would be very unfair to make demands just because he has been bornCongau

    Again, some people genuinely disagree with this. They believe that just being born is grounds for making demands of someone. Again, I agree with you but you can't say anything justifies either of our beliefs other than a shared sense of empathy (or whatever you wanna call it). There is no objective basis for this stuff.

    The only difference is that procreation is not in itself good or bad since the potential sufferer or happy person is not yet existingCongau

    Assuming this is true, What is wrong with genetically modifying a child to suffer by... Say giving them 2 extra eyes and 4 extra legs if anything? After all the sufferer doesn't exist yet. Also what is wrong with someone signing a contract promising to sell their future children to slavery, again, the sufferer doesn't exist yet. It's situations like these that make me think that the sufferer not existing at the time the action was caused is irrelevant, the end result is the same, someone got hurt
  • Possibility
    787
    No, you can’t demand that people pay taxes if they have never worked. If a person chooses to be a vegetable, you can’t demand anything from him.Congau

    A government, king, authority, etc CAN still demand it. It’s how they justify it and how they enforce it that matters - how they align it with the value structures of those to whom it applies, and how they interact with those who don’t comply for whatever reason - NOT the demand itself.

    A person who does absolutely nothing is not far off dead. In the meantime, their very existence - breathing in and out the way they do, consuming oxygen and energy, displacing air, etc - can be seen by some as inadvertently causing suffering, depending on your perspective. If you exist and do not make effective use of the suffering you will cause just in choosing to live, by finding something to do that will offset your unavoidably negative impact on the universe, then what are you still doing here, and why make more like you?

    Don’t get me wrong - I don’t think we can or should enforce anything. We can increase awareness, connection and collaboration, or we can contribute to ignorance, isolation and exclusion - at various levels of interaction. That’s pretty much it.
  • Congau
    64
    Again, some people genuinely disagree with this. They believe that just being born is grounds for making demands of someone. Again, I agree with you but you can't say anything justifies either of our beliefs other than a shared sense of empathy (or whatever you wanna call it). There is no objective basis for this stuff.khaled
    Of course we can say there is something that justifies our beliefs. Whenever we make a philosophical argument attempting to be rational and logical, that’s our justification. Sure, another person would disagree and present logical arguments for his views, and since there is no third-party judge we can never settle once and for all who is ultimately right, but that doesn’t mean there’s no justification. If you think everything is just emotional bias, there’s no reason to do philosophy. (This goes beyond this thread, though, and would merit a separate thread.)

    The reason some people think that we can demand something from everyone, that is, that everyone has duties, is probably because they observe that in real life everyone lives in some kind of society of which they have indirectly chosen to be a member. They unavoidably get involved with others and thereby it’s demanded that they somehow pay back. This starts happening shortly after birth, but not at birth, but since it happens so early it may look like the demands are given as a consequence of birth. Therefore, I maintain that a demand that is derived from birth is illogical. (It’s not just an emotional reaction on my part.)
  • khaled
    1.1k
    and since there is no third-party judge we can never settle once and for all who is ultimately right,Congau

    That's all I'm trying to say. So asking "what justifies a positive ethics" is ultimately only answerable by "because it makes sense to me"
  • ovdtogt
    465
    To do good is to alleviate suffering.
  • Congau
    64
    So asking "what justifies a positive ethics" is ultimately only answerable by "because it makes sense to me"khaled
    There’s never an independent third-party judge to settle anything, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make objectively reasonable arguments.
    Imagine two scientists arguing whether the Earth is round or flat. No one can settle that discussion for them, but I for one believe, based on thoroughly convincing arguments, that the Earth is round. I arrive at conclusions about ethics in the same way, through convincing arguments. There’s no difference.

    the sufferer not existing at the time the action was caused is irrelevant, the end result is the same, someone got hurtkhaled
    I was referring to procreation as such. You don’t know if the future child will predominantly suffer or be happy, so procreation as such is not bad.

    A government, king, authority, etc CAN still demand itPossibility
    I meant of course “can” as in “having the moral right to”.

    A person who does absolutely nothing is not far off dead. In the meantime, their very existence - breathing in and out the way they do, consuming oxygen and energy, displacing air, etc - can be seen by some as inadvertently causing suffering, depending on your perspective. If you exist and do not make effective use of the suffering you will cause just in choosing to live, by finding something to do that will offset your unavoidably negative impact on the universe, then what are you still doing here, and why make more like you?Possibility
    “Negative impact on the universe” is really something so minuscule that it doesn’t count. Besides, you can only cause individuals to suffer not the universe in general.
    If you avoided all interaction with other people, lived on a deserted island or isolated in house (say you had a fortune and paid a landlord and a delivery boy, making them happy), it would be possible to live without causing suffering, but it wouldn’t be a good and a moral life. We can’t demand (meaning we don’t have the moral right to demand) that that person does something specific. In positive ethics we can only make general recommendations, many things would be good to do, but none of them is necessary. For negative ethics we can (have the moral right to) make very specific demands: Don’t kill Peter! Don’t do A!
  • frank
    3.8k
    To do good is to alleviate suffering.ovdtogt

    If there was a quick medical procedure that would end all suffering, would you have it done?
  • Possibility
    787
    “Negative impact on the universe” is really something so minuscule that it doesn’t count. Besides, you can only cause individuals to suffer not the universe in general.Congau

    I never claimed that the universe suffers. Suffering is a perspective of harm from negative affect towards experiences of pain, loss, lack and humility. It all adds up when considered from the ‘perspective’ of the universe - which is the only way to approach an objective position.

    If you avoided all interaction with other people, lived on a deserted island or isolated in house (say you had a fortune and paid a landlord and a delivery boy, making them happy), it would be possible to live without causing suffering, but it wouldn’t be a good and a moral life. We can’t demand (meaning we don’t have the moral right to demand) that that person does something specific. In positive ethics we can only make general recommendations, many things would be good to do, but none of them is necessary. For negative ethics we can (have the moral right to) make very specific demands: Don’t kill Peter! Don’t do A!Congau

    No, you would still cause suffering - you’d just remain ignorant of what and how much suffering you cause to whom, which in itself cannot be a ‘good and moral life’. How you interact with the landlord and the delivery boy, with those who source, produce and supply or are otherwise impacted by your various needs and wants - that’s not doing nothing at all. Your existence and your impact on the universe is not just about ‘physical’ interaction. You’d have to be fully aware of how your interactions contribute to pain, loss, lack and humility from the perspective of each of these people, animals and ecosystems in order to be certain that you are not causing suffering. Which means that you would have to interact more.

    What is a ‘moral right’ as such? How does a moral right pertain to negative ethics but not to positive ethics? I looked it up, and it was defined as the right of an author or creator to preserve the integrity of their work. So your ‘moral right’ is to make demands of me in any interactions with your limited construction of how the world is supposed to work, whether or not we agree on the details.

    I know that it seems like declaring something to be ‘immoral’, ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ justifies our actions to do what we can to exclude instances of it in our experience of the universe, but this is not an objective position. You believe you have a ‘moral right’ to interact with others in a way that excludes, isolates or ignores the ‘moral rights’ of others because they’ve excluded, isolated or ignored the ‘moral rights’ of others - but most likely they’ve merely exercised their ‘moral right’ to do the same...this does nothing to reduce suffering.
  • ovdtogt
    465
    Yes. The absence of suffering is the Utopia humanity is (sub)consciously striving for.
  • khaled
    1.1k
    There’s never an independent third-party judge to settle anything, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make objectively reasonable arguments.
    Imagine two scientists arguing whether the Earth is round or flat. No one can settle that discussion for them, but I for one believe, based on thoroughly convincing arguments, that the Earth is round. I arrive at conclusions about ethics in the same way, through convincing arguments. There’s no difference.
    Congau

    Agreed. But every argument has to have premises. And at some stage you can no longer break the premises down into other arguments. At that point it is a matter of opinion. I'm saying that positive vs negative ethics is one of those irreducible presmises. Just keep asking "Why do you believe this" and eventually you'll have to answer "Just cuz"

    I was referring to procreation as such. You don’t know if the future child will predominantly suffer or be happy, so procreation as such is not bad.Congau

    So it's fine if I gamble with your money without consent? After all you COULD win. I think that if an action risks harming someone else and there is no good incentive to take said action then it is wrong. Even if there is a chance the person in question benefits
  • frank
    3.8k
    Yes. The absence of suffering is the Utopia humanity is (sub)consciously striving for.ovdtogt

    It just seems that this is close to saying that the grave is what we truly strive for (I think Schopenhauer would agree).
  • ovdtogt
    465
    Well it is indeed the 'death' of all suffering and as pain and pleasure are the yin/yang of life I suppose you would be correct. Christianity is very much a death-cult. It is not for nothing they worship a dead man hanging on a cross.
  • frank
    3.8k
    Well it is indeed the 'death' of all suffering and as pain and pleasure are the yin/yang of life I suppose you would be correct.ovdtogt

    So in choosing the procedure that ends all pain, you would be choosing death. Does reflecting on that change your mind?
  • ovdtogt
    465
    So in choosing the procedure that ends all pain, you would be choosing death. Does reflecting on that change your mind?frank

    It is not a matter of 'choosing death', it is a matter of not desiring life at all cost.
    In seeking death (of desire [to live]) I have found freedom from suffering.

    Janis Joplin: Freedom just another word for nothing left to lose.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTHRg_iSWzM
  • Congau
    64

    Having said that the utterly passive life is not a moral life, implies that it has a negative impact on the world. But you can’t pinpoint exactly what that person is doing wrong. He could for example have worked for the poor in the slum, painted his neighbor’s house, played music to cheer people up or an infinite number of other possibilities. Positive ethics doesn’t specify what is wrong. There are no specific demands.

    The passive person doesn’t cause suffering directly and that’s why we can only reproach him through positive ethics (without making specific demands). He produces garbage, like everyone else, but no one in particular suffers because of that. Besides you and I produce garbage too, are we doing something immoral then? Yes and no, indirectly, but what exactly are we doing wrong. We could certainly reduce our consumption, but how much is it reasonable to expect from us. It is open-ended, non-specific and thus no absolute demands can be made.

    Contributing to suffering is not the same as causing suffering. If you are one out of millions of people who hurt the environment with your garbage, in this respect no one suffers because of your existence. If you dump garbage in your neighbor’s back yard, your neighbor suffers because of you. In the first instance we can only encourage caution (positive ethics), in the second we demand that you stop (negative)
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