To Do or not To Do

The torture planet

This topic contains 20 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Davis 3 years ago.

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    just because we can’t “conceive” of a way…does that necessarily preclude a path to advancement

    Robert that is an extremely good point (one of the few nitpicking with this scenario that is as interesting as the actual answers themselves). I would say that this would have to be part of the risk assessment formula. Even if we cannot fathom how they would ever evolve in the future to be other than “endlessly suffering” or develop intelligence or be of any use to anyone (including themselves) that doesn’t mean of course that it could never happen. If there were say a 1% chance of developing intelligence a few billion years in the future would that change your approach to the problem (remember that would mean trillions of suffering creatures suffering just in the very low chance that things would change for these doomed souls).



    Secondary question:

    If these creatures could indeed be re-engineered to suffer much less and yet still continue be able to somewhat adapt to this barely ever changing planet…would you consider enabling this? If you had the choice between a little less suffering (totally pointless suffering) but a tiny chance to develop intelligence would you choose that over the “a lot less suffering” but a future of the tiniest of adaptions making the development of intelligence likely to happen well after their star exploded…which would you choose and why?




    These kinds of ethical questions are always irksome.  If one doesn’t grant the premise of the question, how can one answer it?

    Surely a species cannot live a life of complete suffering or it would be too immobilized to do life-sustaining, reproducing acts and would eventually become extinct.

    Also, even waste products of a species have some use.  Cattle manure fertilizes crops and yeast waste from eating sugar becomes alcohol when anerobic and vinegar when aerobic.

    And as many ways as humans anesthetize their own pain, surely we could come up with ways to relieve pain of other species.

    Finally “ought” implies “can.”  If something is not an actual possibility, it’s not within the realm of ethics.

    Sorry I couldn’t come up with a better answer.




    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.

    Yep, ‘ can’t have a Star Trek episode without violating “The Prime Directive” as the “McGuffin.”

    Almost as axiomatic is the rule: “The one in the red shirt always gets it.”  Scotty was the lone exception, which shows what a gristled old Scottish Highland bad-ass he was.🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿


    Imagine if a way more advanced alien species decided humans were constantly suffering according to their standards.

    Q2. No

    Interesting you mention that.  There is an actual school of thought called Anti-Natalism that says all humans, by nature, are born both suffering and causing suffering, that we are the species on the torture planet, and that it is morally wrong to bring other humans into the world.  Some Anti-Natalists think this also applies to all sentient and sapient life, both here and perhaps everywhere.  (Pessimist Atheist Arthur Schopenhauer is a favorite author-philosopher of Anti-Natalists.)

    This is, of course, not light Holiday reading or YouTube viewing, and on grim news days, it’s hard to argue, but the worldview is out there.

    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Spelling. This device is infirm
    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Ditto



    You wrote:

    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?)

    This reminds me.  Maybe among the first ethical rules should be: Don’t take trolley cars.

    Trains are Nineteenth Century (really Eighteenth Century) pieces of transportation technology anyway.  Ethical questions about trains and trolleys are why real ‘Muricans like their own automobiles.  Then, the only ethical question is: Will the Mystery Machine make it and take the ‘meddling kids’ to safety?

    Another of the first ethical rules should be: Learn to build lifeboats and floatation devices out of anything, so you don’t have ‘lifeboat scenarios.’

    U.S. Navy Sailors are actually taught in The Bluejacket’s Manual that, when thrown overboard, to take off their pants, tie up the legs, blow air into the inside of the pants, tie up the waist, then hold on for dear life.  (This might explain why sailor pants have big flared legs, lace up in the front, and are often white for visability.)

    Finally, the first ethical rules should include: Keep spares of everything, so there’s no “zero-sum” game and no one ends up on the main course.




    Encoginator, you are assuming that life would develop on other planets the same way that it does here. The development of life is disinterested in our happiness or suffering and any mechanism which ensures the continuation of life will be ruthlessly utilised including the terrible byproduct of suffering. If life can continue, even with immense suffering as a consequence, it will continue. Just look around at the Earth and the number of creatures whose entire life is one of endless stress and fear, always living on the brink of starvation and living with painful parasites and diseases ridden in their body. Yet they continue on. Earthly creatures have an immense pain tolerance before they shut down (let’s not forget about our own species where in most societies that come from Abrahamic religions discourage suicide despite even decades of unthinkable physical and/or mental agony).

    Some people cannot insert the outlandish premises of thought experiments into their brain and answer the question. The aim in answering it isn’t to demonstrate one’s own cleverness in pointing out the dubiousness of the scenario but facing how you would deal with a terrible choice in which the consequences are immense. These though experiments aren’t for everybody. It’s really okay if you don’t want to answer it.

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