Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’

Insect Agonies

Utilitarianism dominates the rationalization of morality within the English-speaking world. It is scarcely imaginable that it could be expressed with greater purity than this:

There are roughly 10^18 insects in the world. Suppose we give insects a .1% chance of being sentient, with their sentience being .1% of a human’s. (These values are intentionally small to demonstrate the scale to which insect suffering dominates) Assuming we assign moral weight to categories of beings by their number and the intensity of their inner experiences, this assignment gives each insect 1/1,000,000 of the moral weight for a human, meaning that the suffering of 1,000,000 insects equals the suffering of one human. Even when assigning insects this absurdly low moral weight, their suffering still dominates, as 10^18 insects comes out to 1 trillion human equivalents. If the number of insects were smaller, say around 7 billion, the consequences of not considering insect suffering might be acceptable. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and as we shall see, ignoring insect suffering even if we assign a low probability to insect consciousness presents an unacceptably high risk of ignoring a catastrophic moral harm.

There’s no need to condescend to this argument by pretending to ‘steelman’ it. It’s already quite steely. For a start, it’s conceptually pure — undistracted by irrelevances such as habitat preservation. It’s solidly consequentialist, and — in its development from of its own basic axiom — practical. There’s no sign of a fetishistic rejection of pesticide use, for instance, or an appeal to any totemic vision of ‘nature’. It’s even realist, in that it recognizes enough about the character of this universe to understand the utilitarian obligation as primarily about the alleviation of suffering (positive pleasures being, in the grand scheme of things, no more than a rounding error). On this basis, there’s an insectoid antinatalist sub-theme, which (briefly) explores the thought that ethical extermination might be a positive moral good: “It is possible that most insects have lives that aren’t worth living … meaning the fewer insects in existence the better.” It focuses tightly upon the problem of relieving insect agonies, by chemically inducing a comparatively painless — rather than agonizing — death. Building its case in uncontroversial steps, it concludes that no effective altruistic cause has higher priority, since “… insect suffering probably dominates all other sources of suffering” and “… humane pesticides saves 25 human equivalents from a more painful death per dollar.”

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September 24, 2015admin 64 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy
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Quote note (#121)

From ClarkHat‘s Gamergate epic, a masterpiece of Gnonology:

It doesn’t matter if it’s nice; it matters if it’s effective. Gnon has no pity and laughs at your human ideals … especially because he created your human ideals to help you be a convincing liar in social games.

(Cited with whatever degree of apology is appropriate for the self-referential loop.)

October 22, 2014admin 15 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cosmos
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Darkness

When the winter comes, life becomes hard. Do the nice thing, too often, or too indiscriminately, and “Gnon will destroy you.”

Only the most extreme sociopath is oblivious to the comforts of moral squeamishness. It almost counts as the basic scaffolding of sanity to believe, or to immersively pretend, that our deepest qualms are shared by the commanding principles of being. At the highest level of hegemonic global culture, such scruples — projected ever more wantonly into the nature of things — are represented by Francis Fukuyama’s teleo-zenith “liberal democracy” which, as Daniel McCarthy accurately points out, “turns out to be a synonym for ‘the attitudes and institutions of a world in which Anglo-American power is dominant.’” Hobbesian realities have receded from Western public consciousness in direct proportion to the rise of a titanic ‘Atlantean‘ power. To confuse the gentle webs of civility with fundamental structures of reality is decadence, a path that Western sensibilities have been traveling for decades, if not centuries. Nothing deep within the fabric of the world gets upset about the same things, and in the same ways, that we would want it to.

‘Children’. That single word, alone, says everything that is necessary here. Lost, abandoned, exploited, sick and neglected, crippled, starved, and slaughtered, they saturate the media-scape of the harshening Western winter. Their real features are hard to discern beneath the thick coating of symbolism they bear, as every scale of the media, from brainwashed micro-blogger to massive news conglomerate, orchestrates the pathetic cry: how can this possibly be allowed to be? There should be something, profoundly rooted-down into the nature of the world, that cares about tormented and massacred children, shouldn’t there? Something other, and more, than the fragile machinery of a civilization that now tilts and groans ominously in the rising winter wind? When these media-blitzed fate-damned children scrape our moral sensitivities down to the raw, bloody quick, there has to be something basic concerned to protect them, surely?

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July 21, 2014admin 26 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Horror , Neoreaction
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