To Do or not To Do
The torture planet
November 24, 2020 at 5:20 pm #34813
So we can travel the stars. We come across a planet that has a form of life that evolved differently than us. Every single creature suffers endlessly in this world (a ghastly product of a strange evolution). Scientists have studied the hell out of them and there is no conceivable way to re-engineer them. There is zero possibility they will ever develop intelligence (or develop beyond a planet of suffering creatures). These creature provide no utility to any known species in the universe (they cannot be consumed nor provide any value as working creatures or be converted into a useful resource).
Question 1: You can freeze samples of all life in case one day in the future they can be re engineered. You have a chance to painlessly wipe out this horror show and stop potentially millions of years of trillions of creatures who experience nothing but suffering. Would you do it?
(please answer this question before moving on)
Question 2: If the planet can be mined for an extremely valuable resource (which will greatly benefit countless planets) and that this mining process will wipe away a planet full of creatures that do nothing but suffer. Would this change anything in your decision?November 24, 2020 at 6:26 pm #34821November 24, 2020 at 6:51 pm #34826
@davis, you removed my entire reply lol.
Is not “suffering less” equivalent to “pleasure”? Pleasure is a motivator because it indicates moving towards fitness benefits.November 24, 2020 at 9:00 pm #34832
Oh dear. It seems my reply also disappeared.
Pleasure is part of the tool box that has emerged in Earthly evolution as an aid to natural selection. For non-sentient beings I don’t think pleasure and pain are particularly balanced they both play different roles in natural selection. But there is no reason why pleasure MUST be a part of evolution. A suffering creature “suffering less” can be as much of a motivator as say pleasure.
In any case life could emerge through entirely different processes on other planets, ones that little resemble ours. It is an outlandish thought experiment but not inconceivable. Just think there could be life out there that evolved in such a way that they would be utterly horrified by the extent of the suffering that happens on this planet (not just for humans which is immense but how many creatures live lives of near endless stress and struggle and meet very ugly ends?). They could easily refuse to believe that such a hellish place as the natural environment of our planet could exist.
In any case…perhaps pleasure and suffering would be better dealt with in another discussion. For humans at least pleasure and suffering are by no means mutually exclusive.
Suffering less is not pleasure, it is relief which may be accompanied by some sensations similar to pleasure but they are two different kind of motivators.
Let’s just leave it that the nightmare planet of our scenario is one of endless terrible suffering and see what kind of decisions you would make.November 24, 2020 at 9:13 pm #34833
My first inclination is to object to some of the premises because that’s the sort of person I am. However, given the variables in place:
Q1: Would I?
Yes, in this hypothetical scenario. The chief consideration is that the preservation of life doesn’t, on its own, trump reduction in suffering.
Q2: Would resource benefits at the expense of the creatures’ lives affect my answer?
No. I’m not weighing the lives of the creatures against resource availability. While the mere act of living as a human will almost always result in other creatures dying, that’s a far cry from trading the lives of an entire species for mining operations.November 24, 2020 at 9:50 pm #34836
There is zero possibility they will ever evolve sentience (or develop beyond a planet of suffering creatures).
I’m a little puzzled. How do these creatures suffer at all if, indeed, they have yet to evolve sentience, given that “sentience” means “the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively” (from Wikipedia)?
Perhaps you mean “consciousness”?November 24, 2020 at 11:55 pm #34837
Yes indeed unseen. I should have said “intelligent” and/or “self-aware”.
Thank you Kristina for actually answering the question. I particularly like:
the preservation of life doesn’t, on its own, trump reduction in sufferingNovember 25, 2020 at 12:30 am #34839
Oh dear. It seems my reply also disappeared.
LOL, I’ve come late to the spam party. Awesome to see this happen.November 25, 2020 at 12:44 am #34841
Q1: Assuming they love “freedom” and freedom of choice, I’d ask them to take a poll, first… secretly if necessary to not get caught by authorities they could be afraid of offending or inciting. (I think like this, e.g. in case theocratic nation sometimes gives me the opportunity to free them.)
Q2: That one’s tougher, like the trolly car conundrum. I’m basically utilitarian by nature, so I’d probably say yes, move aside you miserable lot, but not loudly enough for them to hear it or anything that’s coming before we eliminate them. (There’s still a we here, in on this decision together, right?)
However, you might change all this with a third question currently lurking in your head, and itchy keyboard fingers.November 25, 2020 at 12:42 pm #34844
On the grounds that we would put down a sick animal out of mercy, I would answer yes to both questions.
In this case, there would be a loss of scientific knowledge we could gain through studying the planet’s life. This would be regrettable.November 25, 2020 at 2:53 pm #34845
Q1. I would say No. Even if you studied them, you are seeing them through your own limitations and values. It is the “prime directive” in the Star Trek series… they constantly violate it.
“General Order 1”, and the “non-interference directive” is a guiding principle of Starfleet, prohibiting its members from interfering with the internal and natural development of alien civilizations. The Prime Directive applies particularly to civilizations which are below a certain threshold of technological, scientific and cultural development; preventing starship crews from using their superior technology to impose their own values or ideals on them.
Imagine if a way more advanced alien species decided humans were constantly suffering according to their standards.
Q2. NoNovember 25, 2020 at 3:38 pm #34846November 25, 2020 at 4:39 pm #34847
Robert we are talking about non-intelligent species and no conceivable way for them to develop intelligence. It is certainly not the same as a planet Earth were we can choose to continue living or not despite our suffering. In other words we aren’t helpless nor need the assistance of others to put us out of our misery.November 25, 2020 at 5:13 pm #34848November 25, 2020 at 5:46 pm #34849
If you can positively conclude these things then I would say (Q1)Yes,(Q2)No, same logic as Kristina. Unlike the many theists, I don’t think it is wise to let people needlessly suffer. We are more kind to our beloved pets.
I do wonder…just because we can’t “conceive” of a way…does that necessarily preclude a path to advancement and betterment of alien lifeforms in the future? It is a big assumption. Life on this planet had such humble beginnings that for millions of years might have been interpreted as pointless suffering by an alien species unaware of our brand of earthly evolution.
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