July 13, 2019 at 9:48 am #27036
1. You come across the planet filled with millions of insect like creatures. Your scientists show they are extremely basic life forms with few senses, almost non-existent mental activity, no signs of pleasure or pain and most importantly your scientists have concluded with as much certainty as humanly possible that without our help, this life form will never evolve into anything more (they’ve been like that for billions of years and have no capacity for genetic change or any other mechanism).
The planet has resouces humans desparately need to survive. We can keep a few of those guys in a zoo like enviroment off the planet to preserve at least a few of them. But to get the resources the planet life will have to be eradicated. Nothing will live on the planet for a long time to come. Do you destroy this ecosystem and take the resources?
2. (the more interesting one)
You come across a planet that is full of mammalian type creatures. Their mode of replicating and evolving is a lot more extreme than ours, meaning animals spend the majority of their time suffering. Their lives are 99.999% about striving through suffering in order to reproduce. The scientists have concluded as best as humanly possible that there is virtually no chance life on that planet will evolve beyond it’s form of life. They will never be sensitive, joyful, sentient, vibrant creatures. If anything the amount of suffering will likely increase. There is no way to genetically modify them. It is a planet of torture. You have a gentle bio-weapon. It quickly and painlessly eradicates all life on that planet ending their suffering. You have the ability to take several of each species and freeze them so that perhaps in the future with unimaginable technology they can be adapted so that their lives aren’t 99.9% agony. Would you do it?July 13, 2019 at 3:16 pm #27042
As for number 1, kill them all. pull their legs off one at a time, use flame throwers and RAID bombs. Take their coal, drill for their oil baby, drill, drill, drill.
Actually unless us humanoids need their resources for our very survival we have no right to destroy their world. However……if we need these resources in a dire way; the first directive of all life is to survive. It is hard to morally argue against survival unless you are some sort of depraved Christian who believes life begins after death. They don’t behave that way often.July 13, 2019 at 3:57 pm #27044
this life form will never evolve into anything more (they’ve been like that for billions of years and have no capacity for genetic change or any other mechanism?).
We need to discuss an unstated assumption in your arguments, which s that not evolving is bad somehow. Maybe not evolving further (they must have evolved somehow into their current form, right, unless you believe they were invented by God to be just as they are).
Does every species need to become an intelligent life form that discovers logic and mathematics and thus develops technology?
Here on Earth, dragonflies and cockroaches haven’t changed in eons (I’m too lazy to figure out exactly how long, LOL). Are they somehow unsuccessful species, or does a species reach a point where it can sustain itself pretty much as is and thus has no further need to evolve?
July 13, 2019 at 4:04 pm #27047
- This reply was modified 2 days, 21 hours ago by Unseen.
pull their legs off one at a time
Well, if you really want them to suffer just pump a trillion tons of carbon dioxide into their atmosphere and they can “global warming” to death over a century or so.July 13, 2019 at 4:10 pm #27048
that not evolving is bad somehow
That’s not what I meant at all. I included that because for many people, they would be MORE likely to not eradicate some simple life forms if they were eventually to become conscious sentient beings capable of all the wonders and creative abilities and emotion and experiences that we have. The point wasn’t to suggest they are worthless but through answers see which of us care whether or not they evolved. I personally haven’t decided how to answer either of these questions because it is extremely difficult to apply deontological-ethical systems to them, most especially question number TWO. Almost always our moral systems are purely earth based and this is obviously an alien problem in an entire different dimension of ethical problem solving, where we can choose whether to limit ourselves to human centred ethics, universal ethics or both (or perhaps neither if that’s possible). The categorical imperative is no longer about relating with other humans (or Earth creatures) but life in all forms in places we cannot relate to or even care about. Humans will have to start doing so systematically one day (I hope).July 13, 2019 at 4:27 pm #27049
2. NoJuly 13, 2019 at 11:12 pm #27052
pull their legs off one at a time
Well, if you really want them to suffer just pump a trillion tons of carbon dioxide into their atmosphere and they can “global warming” to death over a century or so.
Yeah, I was gonna say we are actually doing this to all the earth’s creatures now. Is the prime directive continuation of our species or not? As much as we like to “cherish” our hard learned moral values, I wonder if they just become a luxury during the worst of times. What do you all think?July 14, 2019 at 11:41 pm #27064
What do you all think?
Like so many many many times. A star trek episode sums up many philosophical ideas better than most philosophy books do. In an episode of DS9, in a future where Earth is a paradise and a strong Federation reigns, they are invaded by a dominion and humans become somewhat ugly in the war. Quark says:
Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, Nephew. They’re a wonderful, friendly people, as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people… will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don’t believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes.
Very true. Human ugliness became a permanent fixture over once we left the savanna and started concentrating in groups larger than a tribe.July 14, 2019 at 11:42 pm #27065
Unseen, I’m still curious what your answer is.July 15, 2019 at 1:13 am #27066
Like so many many many times. A star trek episode sums up many philosophical ideas better than most philosophy books do
This line has stuck with me over the years.
“I have found that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” ~ Gandalf (J. R. R. Tolkein ~ The Hobbit)”
A simple smile, a kind word, an ear that listens, a $0.17 cent gift when a person is short at the market……..
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