Andrew Brown

  • Fellow Unbelievers,

    No Thanksgiving on an Atheist Forum would be complete without these chestnuts:

    Bart Simpson’s Blessing

    Pop Charlie Anderson gives the Thanksgiving “Blessing” in _Shanandoah_ 😁

    Happy Thanksgiving!  And remember to thank the cook, the host,…[Read more]

  • 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…[Read more]

  • PopeBeanie,

    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. …[Read more]

  • Robert,

    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…

    [Read more]

  • Davis,

    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…[Read more]

  • 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…[Read more]

  • 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 the…[Read more]

  • 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…[Read more]

  • @davis – organisms don’t have to have intelligence to have rights.

  • 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.

  • Good point, @robert.

  • 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…[Read more]

  • 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.

  • 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 c…[Read more]

  • Oh dear. It seems my reply also disappeared.

    LOL, I’ve come late to the spam party. Awesome to see this happen.

  • 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 suffering

  • 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…[Read more]

  • 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…[Read more]

  • 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.…[Read more]

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