Re: physical pain is bad (was Re: Dynamic ethics)

From: Phillip Huggan (
Date: Tue Jan 24 2006 - 00:33:54 MST

Michael, you are arguing that an animal's physical suffering is justified because it gives us pleasure to watch, and is beautiful. What is wrong with using holographic techniques and surround sound to viscerally recreate a gazelle being hunted by a lion, or even us being hunted by a (holographic) lion? Our senses would not know the difference. Your trick below is to suggest that since animals do not possess abstract thought at a level sufficient to exercise volition; that we cannot know if they would prefer to eat grass near a water-hole, or if they would prefer to be eaten alive by a lion. I think we can know this with 100% certainty for mammals and very high probabilities for most higher life forms.
  What were your other reasons for keeping ecosystems naturally intact? They might give us a fail-safe in case we kill ourselves off? If we get a singularity level of engineering I'm sure we can come up with more creative lifeboat ideas than hoping lions will industrialize. I think you also suggested we might lose info if we cease ecosystems in their natural form. Umm, what info will we lose?
  There was a very famous philospher who kicked his dog around obsessively. He couldn't believe the dog acted as if it experienced pain. He didn't believe his cherished god had instilled the experience of pain in animals.
  Physical pain is bad. Physical pleasure is good. Everything in the universe is derivative of these two axioms. Every societal construct of worth and every psychological brain-state reduces to pain/pleasure, there is not a single exception.
Michael Roy Ames <> wrote:
  Your assumption is a little misstated. It is not "death and suffering are
unnecessary and must be defeated", it is "Eliminating involuntary death and
unnecessary suffering will greatly improve the human condition". As you
might see, the implications of the two statements are quite different.

As for drawing a line between "human-ish" wild animals and others that are
less so: I do not. That line was drawn at mammals (AFAICT) by Phillip
Huggan, and I disagree with him on this point. Two lines, probably fuzzy
ones, must be and should be drawn somewhere along the dimensions of
intelligence and biological maturity dividing those beings who are given the
ability to choose (to not die - line #1, to not suffer - line #2) from those
who are not. The ability to choose not to die being given to (I tentatively
suggest) beings who have grasped the concepts of life and death and some of
the main implications surrounding those states. The ability to choose not
to suffer being given to (again hesitantly suggested) beings who have
progressed to adulthood - a stage that can be defined socially,
biologically, and in many other ways. Of course the whole time I am talking
about humans here - the lines are *within* the human species, not outside
it. Humans should arrange for wild animals to remain wild - and continue
evolving - see my previous arguments for reasons. If we want to keep some
as pets, well... that is a different discussion.

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