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"Because we can," ethics in scientific experiments

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Posts

  • CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »

    Painkillers was mentioned above, so controlled pain/pain relief for instance.

    Does the ban on primate research hamper our advancement of science? Also, what's the reason for it? If it's "we can get the same results for less harm", cool, go for it. If its "wook at his wittle face" then the reasoning gets wonky for me.

    Now I like the eye example on the rabbits. It still allows vital research, and decreases harm. I'm down for doing more things like that.

    The funny thing about painkiller research is that, as I understand it, we mostly do it on people anyway since pain is a highly subjective experience. You do animal trials to confirm the drug isn't toxic, or have weird whole organism side-effects, but the only real way to know if it works is to give it to people and see if they report reduced symptoms.

    Primate research isn't banned, but you have to have a very good justification for it. The classic case would be something like Ebola research where the only real way to know if the vaccine is working is to find an animal the disease infects, and see if they survive it. That can be a whole range of things, but the nearest you get to humans is chimps (and they do catch it in the wild anyway). But - that's last hurdle type stuff. And pretty self-limiting anyway since handling the Ebola virus is amazingly dangerous.

    A bad justification these days would be stuff like the Pit of Despair. That whole series of experiments (hell, that 1 guy really) is more or less the reason you can't do stuff like that anymore, and also a pretty good example of what I mean about the dangers of allowing humans to commit wanton animal cruelty.

    Are those the experiments where they were testing the effects of isolation on monkeys? I remember reading about those in an article on the effects of solitary confinement on humans.

    I thought they, at least initially, produced some useful results though.

    Initially they were studying maternal bonding, but then they went on to do depression studies. The problem was that they were just horrific - i.e. they weren't learning anything we couldn't have inferred by other means, and it just straight up wasn't important enough to justify it.

    Obviously we can't make logical inferences that pouring sulfuric acid in someone's eye will burn it to cinders, we have to find out for real. For science.

    2007-09-03-047.gif

    Actually though I'm posting this as a joke, Jack Barnes apparently had a reason for acting the way he did: he trying to prove that this particular jellyfish was the cause of these symptoms.

    Nevertheless: damn.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    unfortunately when you make inferences in biology you get jacked

    which is why I postulate that all biology grad students are bottoms

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Cambiata wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »

    Painkillers was mentioned above, so controlled pain/pain relief for instance.

    Does the ban on primate research hamper our advancement of science? Also, what's the reason for it? If it's "we can get the same results for less harm", cool, go for it. If its "wook at his wittle face" then the reasoning gets wonky for me.

    Now I like the eye example on the rabbits. It still allows vital research, and decreases harm. I'm down for doing more things like that.

    The funny thing about painkiller research is that, as I understand it, we mostly do it on people anyway since pain is a highly subjective experience. You do animal trials to confirm the drug isn't toxic, or have weird whole organism side-effects, but the only real way to know if it works is to give it to people and see if they report reduced symptoms.

    Primate research isn't banned, but you have to have a very good justification for it. The classic case would be something like Ebola research where the only real way to know if the vaccine is working is to find an animal the disease infects, and see if they survive it. That can be a whole range of things, but the nearest you get to humans is chimps (and they do catch it in the wild anyway). But - that's last hurdle type stuff. And pretty self-limiting anyway since handling the Ebola virus is amazingly dangerous.

    A bad justification these days would be stuff like the Pit of Despair. That whole series of experiments (hell, that 1 guy really) is more or less the reason you can't do stuff like that anymore, and also a pretty good example of what I mean about the dangers of allowing humans to commit wanton animal cruelty.

    Are those the experiments where they were testing the effects of isolation on monkeys? I remember reading about those in an article on the effects of solitary confinement on humans.

    I thought they, at least initially, produced some useful results though.

    Initially they were studying maternal bonding, but then they went on to do depression studies. The problem was that they were just horrific - i.e. they weren't learning anything we couldn't have inferred by other means, and it just straight up wasn't important enough to justify it.

    Obviously we can't make logical inferences that pouring sulfuric acid in someone's eye will burn it to cinders, we have to find out for real. For science.

    2007-09-03-047.gif

    Actually though I'm posting this as a joke, Jack Barnes apparently had a reason for acting the way he did: he trying to prove that this particular jellyfish was the cause of these symptoms.

    Nevertheless: damn.

    Also: Barry Marshall and heliobacter pylori.

    Not quite as awesome as exposing yourself to irukandji, I admit.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Cambiata wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »

    Painkillers was mentioned above, so controlled pain/pain relief for instance.

    Does the ban on primate research hamper our advancement of science? Also, what's the reason for it? If it's "we can get the same results for less harm", cool, go for it. If its "wook at his wittle face" then the reasoning gets wonky for me.

    Now I like the eye example on the rabbits. It still allows vital research, and decreases harm. I'm down for doing more things like that.

    The funny thing about painkiller research is that, as I understand it, we mostly do it on people anyway since pain is a highly subjective experience. You do animal trials to confirm the drug isn't toxic, or have weird whole organism side-effects, but the only real way to know if it works is to give it to people and see if they report reduced symptoms.

    Primate research isn't banned, but you have to have a very good justification for it. The classic case would be something like Ebola research where the only real way to know if the vaccine is working is to find an animal the disease infects, and see if they survive it. That can be a whole range of things, but the nearest you get to humans is chimps (and they do catch it in the wild anyway). But - that's last hurdle type stuff. And pretty self-limiting anyway since handling the Ebola virus is amazingly dangerous.

    A bad justification these days would be stuff like the Pit of Despair. That whole series of experiments (hell, that 1 guy really) is more or less the reason you can't do stuff like that anymore, and also a pretty good example of what I mean about the dangers of allowing humans to commit wanton animal cruelty.

    Are those the experiments where they were testing the effects of isolation on monkeys? I remember reading about those in an article on the effects of solitary confinement on humans.

    I thought they, at least initially, produced some useful results though.

    Initially they were studying maternal bonding, but then they went on to do depression studies. The problem was that they were just horrific - i.e. they weren't learning anything we couldn't have inferred by other means, and it just straight up wasn't important enough to justify it.

    Obviously we can't make logical inferences that pouring sulfuric acid in someone's eye will burn it to cinders, we have to find out for real. For science.

    2007-09-03-047.gif

    Actually though I'm posting this as a joke, Jack Barnes apparently had a reason for acting the way he did: he trying to prove that this particular jellyfish was the cause of these symptoms.

    Nevertheless: damn.

    Also: Barry Marshall and heliobacter pylori.

    Not quite as awesome as exposing yourself to irukandji, I admit.

    Australians don't seem to have a sense of self-preservation...

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.
    So basically, morality doesn't matter unless someone is keeping score and punishing the bad people? It seems to me that it would make more sense to say that morality exists independently of whether anyone gets punished for the bad things they do. Murder isn't wrong because someone is going to punish you for murder. Someone punishes you for murder because murder is wrong. How is this magical afterlife gatekeeper supposed to figure out who to punish? Based on some morality, surely! And why can't this morality exist even if the gatekeeper does not?

  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.

    Why does "might makes right" apply to non-human animals but not other humans?

    Would it be morally acceptable to perform painful medical experiments on prisoners?

    Also, assuming that without a theological basis that there's no way to judge that hurting humans (or animals) is wrong is, to put it mildly, incredibly silly.

    Lawndart on
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Would it be morally acceptable to perform painful medical experiments on prisoners?

    Yes, he does think it's okay to do so.
    If we capture them instead, would we be justified in torturing them to get information out of them which would save our entire army? If we think we would (I personally think we would) then what if instead we use them to test 5 antidotes for the nerve gas, one of which we are pretty certain will work, knowing that at least 4 of the enemy soldiers will probably die a horrible death from the nerve gas?

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    What wrongness bottoms out in is a very complex question. I don't think we need to answer it to figure out if we can experiment on animals. We just need to figure out whether causing pain to something that can feel pain is prima facie wrong. I think it is, and I'm willing to take this as a starting premise on the grounds that if you can't tell that kicking a dog is wrong because it hurts the dog, and that the only way to make it right would be to discover that dogs don't feel pain, then you're missing something that's fairly obvious.

    If you want me to go about giving reasons, here's a reason: causing pain is bad. Sometimes we do bad things because they lead to good things, like when we give someone a root canal so that they can get healthier. But that just outweighs the badness of the pain, it doesn't mean the pain wasn't bad in the first place. If you disagree that pain is bad, then I'm not really sure what to say - it seems like you don't really understand what it means for things to be good or bad. Pain is to be avoided, it is undesirable, it is something we are inclined to take a negative attitude towards. These are synonymous with bad. If you have some reason for thinking that pain is good (and not a reason for pain being instrumentally good, but a reason for the pain itself to be good) then I would be in trouble, but I think that's going to be a little tough to plausibly provide.

    The intuition I'm working with here is that kicking a baby in the face is wrong, even if nobody finds out about it, even if you don't feel bad about it, etc. Why? Because pain is bad.
    Pain is inherently and absolutely wrong because sometimes it's wrong when there is pain.

    I suppose that might be a good argument somewhere, but if you're unwilling to further than pain=bad because pain=bad then you're simply failing to provide a good argument.

    Like this:
    What makes pain bad? THE FACT THAT IT IS PAINFUL.
    Best argument ever.
    You say it's easy to make a utilitarian or pragmatic argument for why causing pain to humans is bad, but only one of those arguments helps you. The pragmatic one helps, but the utilitarian argument doesn't, because utilitarianism is a philosophy that aims to maximize something, and some utilitarians (Bentham, Mill, Singer) maximize PLEASURE and minimize PAIN because it seems obvious to them that pain is BAD and that therefore the answer to ethics is to minimize pain. You seem to not be on board with that.
    The purpose was not to maximize pleasure and to minimize pain, it was to maximize 'happiness'. It is important.

    Following that, the answer to ethics is clearly not to minimize pain because it is to maximize happiness.

  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.

    Hmm, so if an alien species that was far more advanced than us decided we were in the way(or say, wanted to harvest humanity for experimentation), are we to assume you'd just accept whatever comes? Based on your 'might makes right' principle I mean.

    Lucid on
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.
    So basically, morality doesn't matter unless someone is keeping score and punishing the bad people? It seems to me that it would make more sense to say that morality exists independently of whether anyone gets punished for the bad things they do. Murder isn't wrong because someone is going to punish you for murder. Someone punishes you for murder because murder is wrong. How is this magical afterlife gatekeeper supposed to figure out who to punish? Based on some morality, surely! And why can't this morality exist even if the gatekeeper does not?

    If no one is keeping score, what does being wrong even mean? If we all agree that it is wrong to hurt animals, then the reason not to do it is that people decided it is wrong and will punish or shun you for hurting animals. If we change our minds and now there is no repercussion for hurting animals, what does it mean for it to be wrong, and how does it being wrong disincentivize us from doing it?
    @lawndart asked why this would not apply to people, but I think it absolutely does. The reason we don't allow experiments on prisoners is that we fear we may be prisoners one day ourselves and would not want to be experimented on. We never fear being in the animal's position, so this would not apply here. Morality is a system of rules meant to direct behavior, but there is no reason for people to follow rules which are not enforced and which do not carry sanctions when breached, even if for no reason other than that we would not expect other rational beings to follow them.
    Lucid wrote: »
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.

    Hmm, so if an alien species that was far more advanced than us decided we were in the way(or say, wanted to harvest humanity for experimentation), are we to assume you'd just accept whatever comes? Based on your 'might makes right' principle I mean.

    I'd fight back, but if I lose (because they in fact have the might to defeat us) then what does it even mean to say they are wrong?

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.
    So basically, morality doesn't matter unless someone is keeping score and punishing the bad people? It seems to me that it would make more sense to say that morality exists independently of whether anyone gets punished for the bad things they do. Murder isn't wrong because someone is going to punish you for murder. Someone punishes you for murder because murder is wrong. How is this magical afterlife gatekeeper supposed to figure out who to punish? Based on some morality, surely! And why can't this morality exist even if the gatekeeper does not?

    If no one is keeping score, what does being wrong even mean? If we all agree that it is wrong to hurt animals, then the reason not to do it is that people decided it is wrong and will punish or shun you for hurting animals. If we change our minds and now there is no repercussion for hurting animals, what does it mean for it to be wrong, and how does it being wrong disincentivize us from doing it?
    @lawndart asked why this would not apply to people, but I think it absolutely does. The reason we don't allow experiments on prisoners is that we fear we may be prisoners one day ourselves and would not want to be experimented on. We never fear being in the animal's position, so this would not apply here. Morality is a system of rules meant to direct behavior, but there is no reason for people to follow rules which are not enforced and which do not carry sanctions when breached, even if for no reason other than that we would not expect other rational beings to follow them.
    Lucid wrote: »
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.

    Hmm, so if an alien species that was far more advanced than us decided we were in the way(or say, wanted to harvest humanity for experimentation), are we to assume you'd just accept whatever comes? Based on your 'might makes right' principle I mean.

    I'd fight back, but if I lose (because they in fact have the might to defeat us) then what does it even mean to say they are wrong?

    If you take good notes you get brownie points in starbase elementary history class

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain in humans. Utilitarian morality, like any moral system that doesn't pre-suppose some universal, inherent moral code, is ultimately either selfish or about humans. We can maximize utility based on its impact on us, individually and personally, or based on its impact on humanity as a whole, largely dependent upon whether we think that the species' ability to prosper is a driving goal. In either case, avoiding unnecessary harm to humans is an easily defensible utilitarian moral position.

    Two comments.

    1) Your use of 'utilitarianism' here is pretty non-standard. Utilitarianism is usually taken to be the code that the ultimate good is happiness, which is tightly identified with maximal pleasure and minimal pain, and that actions should be taken in accord to how much either they, or the principles of choice from which they flow, serve to maximize happiness. Of the classical Utilitarians, Bentham saw no difference between humans and animals on this score:
    The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate... the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes"

    John Stuart Mill, his protege, thought that there was a difference between humans and animals on this score, but that it had not to do with what they deserved but rather with the sorts of pleasures and pains to which they were susceptible. Pigs cannot, for instance, get any pleasure out of the sublime beauty of the works of ancient philosophy. But he took this to be irrelevant toward the fact that what pleasures and pains they are capable of are morally important in just the same way as those same pleasures and pains are when they occur in humans. Furthermore, all classical Utilitarians, and everyone following in the tradition, has put forth the requirements of the Utilitarian calculus as fully impartial: in Bentham's words it requires "each to count for one, and none for more than one." So Utilitarianism, in standard use, is actually an example of a moral theory which is neither selfish nor about humans.

    2) The 'why' question you ask here--why include animals?--can just as well be asked about the fundamental principles of any moral system. The Kantians think they have a non-question-begging answer, but I (and many others) think that it is not any good. Instead, it seems that there may be some primitives in this area of discourse which are not given much in substantive further explanation and defense. And this is so in all sorts of places--try giving a substantive definition of truth, for instance; even the barest logic must appeal to some notions that are not themselves further argued or explained. So it's not obvious that the why-question cannot be met with "that's simply how it is."

    Apothe0sisFeral
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    either that or we lack the capacity or experience to discern the answer

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Draygo wrote: »
    I don't consider pain a bad thing. Pain is not something that needs to be cured. It's a good thing. So careful with your blanket statements there. I'm sure you dont object to pain in itself, but needlessly causing pain. Kicking a baby is bad not because the baby can or can not feel pain. Kicking a baby is bad because you are causing needless harm to the baby. Just like kicking a dog is bad because you are causing needless harm to the dog.
    What is "needless harm" if it is not a synonym for "needless pain?" Can you cash out harm in some way where causing pain to someone doesn't harm them? Why is needless pain worse than non-needless pain? Surely it's the need that justifies the pain, and in that case, the NEED is the good thing and the pain is still bad. If we could get what we needed without pain, we would do that, because pain is bad.

    Pain isnt bad. Its the things that cause pain that are bad. Pain is good. Pain tells us that bad things are happening to our body, pain itself is not the bad thing. The bad thing is the thing causing the pain.

    You are trying to say the effect is the bad thing, when its not. Cause and effect. The thing that is causing the pain is what is bad. Feeling pain is never bad, but a good thing. In the case where the need to cause pain is justified, then the need is also good and the pain response is good. (For example the prick on your finger for a blood test is a good thing, because they might discover what is ailing you, the pain response is a good thing because your body should be telling you it was just harmed).

    The fact you feel pain is never bad.

    Draygo on
  • RT800RT800 Registered User regular
    It's bad when there's nothing you can do about the pain.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    Draygo: I don't see anywhere that you've answered one of my questions: if you could have all the avoidance response behaviors associated with pain without feeling the pain itself, wouldn't that be better?

  • Craw!Craw! Registered User
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    Draygo: I don't see anywhere that you've answered one of my questions: if you could have all the avoidance response behaviors associated with pain without feeling the pain itself, wouldn't that be better?

    Some people like feeling certain kinds of pain, to them it can be pleasure. This is partly because when the body is in pain, endorphins are released. So pain, as most people define it anyhow, isn't an opposite of pleasure and is not always subjectively a "negative" experience.

  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    It's also a strange argument, since there's a lot of time pain in not "bad", since it's necessary. It might not be pleasant, but it's not the end-all and be-all of badness.

    Surgery isn't bad because it has pain. Breaking a leg isn't bad because "pain", it's bad because you broke your leg!

    At least my is problem is your arguing about pain without context. So it's really hard to phrase any response around it, except in the vaguest terms.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • RT800RT800 Registered User regular
    The stoics would say that nothing is good or bad, only the views we take of them.

    "Get rid of the judgment, get rid of the 'I am hurt,' you are rid of the hurt itself." - Marcus Aurelius

    Good luck with that though.

  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    For ease of exposition, define the position "pain is the only ultimate evil and pleasure is the only ultimate good--all other goods and evils are explained in derivative terms" as hedonism.

    @Craw!

    The hedonist has an easy response here, namely, that endorphins are pleasant, and hence that in some cases the pleasure of the endorphins outweighs the attendant badness of the pain. That may be the right way to talk about the feeling a runner has after a very long run, for instance. It's not that the pain itself isn't bad, as evidenced by our thought that if you could have the endorphins without the pain, it would be even better.

    @Mortious

    The hedonist explains surgery by noting that, although it involves some present pain, it also involves the prevention of a great deal more future pain (think of how a toothache goes when untreated). So we can still explain why one should get surgery by reference to avoiding future pain. They say something similar about why it is bad to break your leg: why is 'broken' a worse state for your leg to be in? Because it causes a great deal of pain, and because it interferes with your future obtaining of pleasure. It is not very easy to walk to the ice cream shop on a broken leg, if you develop an infection you will get a dreadful fever and be stuck in bed until you possibly die, and etc.

    I think both of you have made the understandable error--indeed, one made by many historical critics of hedonism--of conflating the idea that pleasure and pain are the ultimate goods and evils in the world with the idea that it is always wrong to do anything painful or abstain from anything pleasant. On the contrary, Utilitarian hedonists will in fact require that you do quite a few painful things--like jump on a grenade to save your five comrades in a fox-hole, or be honest in a situation in which the truth will bring you great shame. But their point, as hedonists, is that when we explain the goodness of that action we must eventually ultimately advert to the degree to which it promotes a greater net balance of pleasure over pain. Jumping on a grenade very obviously contributes to the net balance of pleasure over pain by saving five at the cost of only one; honestly, more indirectly, contributes to the social conditions which enable flourishing human life and to the attendant happiness that secures. Either way, the ultimate of the goodness and badness of these actions bottoms out, always, in considerations of pleasure and pain--or so the hedonist claims.

    MrMister on
    Arch
  • Craw!Craw! Registered User
    MrMister wrote: »
    For ease of exposition, define the position "pain is the only ultimate evil and pleasure is the only ultimate good--all other goods and evils are explained in derivative terms" as hedonism.

    @Craw!

    The hedonist has an easy response here, namely, that endorphins are pleasant, and hence that in some cases the pleasure of the endorphins outweighs the attendant badness of the pain. That may be the right way to talk about the feeling a runner has after a very long run, for instance. It's not that the pain itself isn't bad, as
    evidenced by our thought that if you could have the endorphins without the pain, it would be even better.
    Well sure, if you exclude endorphin reactions from "the physical experience of pain". Maybe most people would? That's not the way I usually think of what "pain" entails, but alright. I don't want to argue over semantics.
    I think both of you have made the understandable error--indeed, one made by many historical critics of hedonism--of conflating the idea that pleasure and pain are the ultimate goods and evils in the world with the idea that it is always wrong to do anything painful or abstain from anything pleasant.
    I think you mistook my post for being something else than what I intended it to be.

  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain in humans. Utilitarian morality, like any moral system that doesn't pre-suppose some universal, inherent moral code, is ultimately either selfish or about humans. We can maximize utility based on its impact on us, individually and personally, or based on its impact on humanity as a whole, largely dependent upon whether we think that the species' ability to prosper is a driving goal. In either case, avoiding unnecessary harm to humans is an easily defensible utilitarian moral position.

    Two comments.

    1) Your use of 'utilitarianism' here is pretty non-standard. Utilitarianism is usually taken to be the code that the ultimate good is happiness, which is tightly identified with maximal pleasure and minimal pain, and that actions should be taken in accord to how much either they, or the principles of choice from which they flow, serve to maximize happiness. Of the classical Utilitarians, Bentham saw no difference between humans and animals on this score:
    The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate... the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes"

    John Stuart Mill, his protege, thought that there was a difference between humans and animals on this score, but that it had not to do with what they deserved but rather with the sorts of pleasures and pains to which they were susceptible. Pigs cannot, for instance, get any pleasure out of the sublime beauty of the works of ancient philosophy. But he took this to be irrelevant toward the fact that what pleasures and pains they are capable of are morally important in just the same way as those same pleasures and pains are when they occur in humans. Furthermore, all classical Utilitarians, and everyone following in the tradition, has put forth the requirements of the Utilitarian calculus as fully impartial: in Bentham's words it requires "each to count for one, and none for more than one." So Utilitarianism, in standard use, is actually an example of a moral theory which is neither selfish nor about humans.

    2) The 'why' question you ask here--why include animals?--can just as well be asked about the fundamental principles of any moral system. The Kantians think they have a non-question-begging answer, but I (and many others) think that it is not any good. Instead, it seems that there may be some primitives in this area of discourse which are not given much in substantive further explanation and defense. And this is so in all sorts of places--try giving a substantive definition of truth, for instance; even the barest logic must appeal to some notions that are not themselves further argued or explained. So it's not obvious that the why-question cannot be met with "that's simply how it is."

    In my somewhat limited experience with modern philosophy (I always focused on ancient philosophy and philosophy of law) it seems that many people have backed off of Bentham's focus on pleasure in favor of theories based on maximizing utils (however someone would define them). There is nothing about the approach which requires you to focus on pleasure IMO.
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    Draygo: I don't see anywhere that you've answered one of my questions: if you could have all the avoidance response behaviors associated with pain without feeling the pain itself, wouldn't that be better?

    I think there are only two bad things in the world: 1) my own pain (whether direct or indirect) and 2) my reasonable anticipation of pain. I think this means I should keep others from being hurt to the extent their hurt will upset me (empathy) or to the extent their hurt may lead to my own hurt. Since I do not fear retaliation from animals for experimenting on them, I have no reason not to do so other than it making me upset.

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited August 2012
    So it is ok for kids to starve in Africa, just so long as you don't have to hear about it?

    Are you actually arguing that or making a horrible solipistic strawman of hedonism?

    redx on
    This machine kills threads.
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I think there are only two bad things in the world: 1) my own pain (whether direct or indirect) and 2) my reasonable anticipation of pain. I think this means I should keep others from being hurt to the extent their hurt will upset me (empathy) or to the extent their hurt may lead to my own hurt. Since I do not fear retaliation from animals for experimenting on them, I have no reason not to do so other than it making me upset.

    This seems similar to solipsism. If you only view your own pain as bad, how does this involve 'the world'?

    Lucid on
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Lucid wrote: »
    I think there are only two bad things in the world: 1) my own pain (whether direct or indirect) and 2) my reasonable anticipation of pain. I think this means I should keep others from being hurt to the extent their hurt will upset me (empathy) or to the extent their hurt may lead to my own hurt. Since I do not fear retaliation from animals for experimenting on them, I have no reason not to do so other than it making me upset.

    This seems similar to solipsism. If you only view your own pain as bad, how does this involve 'the world'?

    I don't think this is solipsism at all, because you see your own pain or the anticipation of your pain as bad, as does everyone else. This is the mindset that enables us to exist as a society (we all make sacrifices to lessen the situations in which we expect to be hurt) and I also allows for self sacrifice (it may hurt me more to see my love ones suffer than to sacrifice myself).
    redx wrote: »
    So it is ok for kids to starve in Africa, just so long as you don't have to hear about it?

    Are you actually arguing that or making a horrible solipistic strawman of hedonism?

    This is where empathy and indirect pain come in. But let's be honest here. We all have varying levels of awareness about the suffering of people but largely go on living our lives. I walk past tons of homeless people on my way to work every day and I don't stop to help them. I would prefer it if their circumstances were better, but I'm not going to sacrifice my own resources for them. By contrast, I give money and make other donations to causes like animal shelters and organizations that help sick children, because I empathize with them more, but I still don't give everything I could, and I think that is fine. There is a middle ground between Peter Singer saying my friends and I are literally culpable for the death of a child in Africa because we had a $200 lunch instead of donating that money and Kane saying "I am not my brother's keeper.". If we say something I bad but are not willing to do much I anything to change it, is that even a meaningful pronouncement?

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain in humans. Utilitarian morality, like any moral system that doesn't pre-suppose some universal, inherent moral code, is ultimately either selfish or about humans. We can maximize utility based on its impact on us, individually and personally, or based on its impact on humanity as a whole, largely dependent upon whether we think that the species' ability to prosper is a driving goal. In either case, avoiding unnecessary harm to humans is an easily defensible utilitarian moral position.

    Two comments.

    1) Your use of 'utilitarianism' here is pretty non-standard. Utilitarianism is usually taken to be the code that the ultimate good is happiness, which is tightly identified with maximal pleasure and minimal pain, and that actions should be taken in accord to how much either they, or the principles of choice from which they flow, serve to maximize happiness. Of the classical Utilitarians, Bentham saw no difference between humans and animals on this score:
    The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate... the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes"

    John Stuart Mill, his protege, thought that there was a difference between humans and animals on this score, but that it had not to do with what they deserved but rather with the sorts of pleasures and pains to which they were susceptible. Pigs cannot, for instance, get any pleasure out of the sublime beauty of the works of ancient philosophy. But he took this to be irrelevant toward the fact that what pleasures and pains they are capable of are morally important in just the same way as those same pleasures and pains are when they occur in humans. Furthermore, all classical Utilitarians, and everyone following in the tradition, has put forth the requirements of the Utilitarian calculus as fully impartial: in Bentham's words it requires "each to count for one, and none for more than one." So Utilitarianism, in standard use, is actually an example of a moral theory which is neither selfish nor about humans.

    In standard philosophical use, but as it applies to experimental and industrial ethics? Humanity has never, on average, given much of a shit about anything that isn't human. Bentham may have believed that there will come a day when we consider our treatment of rats to be equivalent to the 19th century treatment of blacks and Asians, but to what benefit? Why should all things that breath be included? For that matter, why should things that don't breath be excluded? There are some plants with stimulus response systems more complex than some animals; shouldn't we include them? Without significantly more information than modern science possesses, any distinction we choose to make is going to be horribly arbitrary. And even with more knowledge than we have now, any distinction that doesn't include every system in the universe--organic or otherwise, living or otherwise--which has states that may be divided into some binary set of more and less prosperous is, ultimately, arbitrary.

    I have a preference for humanity. Bentham has a preference for things that breath. There are folks out there who think picking fruit off of plants is immoral because it harms the plant; they apparently have a preference for organic systems. Is a star a less complex system than a rat? A rat deprived of food will starve, and this deprivation is immoral because feeding the rat would put it in a more pleasurable state. Is it then not our moral imperative to ensure the sun's supply of hydrogen? What makes one hideously complex physical system more or less important to moral consideration?
    MrMister wrote: »
    2) The 'why' question you ask here--why include animals?--can just as well be asked about the fundamental principles of any moral system. The Kantians think they have a non-question-begging answer, but I (and many others) think that it is not any good. Instead, it seems that there may be some primitives in this area of discourse which are not given much in substantive further explanation and defense. And this is so in all sorts of places--try giving a substantive definition of truth, for instance; even the barest logic must appeal to some notions that are not themselves further argued or explained. So it's not obvious that the why-question cannot be met with "that's simply how it is."

    The why question appears, to me at least, to be the only relevant one here. We can extend moral consideration to any degree, to the extent that essentially any action any human takes could be considered immoral on the basis of its impact on some species of animal, some species of plant, or some equivalently complex non-living system. That extension makes the framework fundamentally useless. It can no longer tell us anything useful about morality because every action aside from submitting to entropy is, in some fashion, immoral.

    Humanity, on average, wants to survive and to thrive. Human pleasure, as a sum over all humans, increases as the prosperity of our species increases. There is abundant historical evidence that subjugating and mistreating any fraction of the human population of a region is objectively worse, over a long enough time scale, for the entire population of the region than to do otherwise. There is no equivalent evidence with regard to animals. Certainly there are limited classes of animals whose survival and prosperity have an influence on that of humanity, either because they provide some resource on which we are dependent or because we've integrated them into our society in such a way that their displeasure affects those humans around them in the same way that human displeasure would. But, by and large, being mean to other living things has no significant impact on humanity.

    No species aside from humanity, and those few animals we've altered through the domestication process to the extent that they now believe humans to be part of their own species' social order, gives a shit about any species aside from its own. Any attempt we make to ensure the pleasure of a non-human species is already rising well above the biological norm. To the extent that there can be a reason for "why should we include non-human, non-sapient creatures in our moral framework", the only obvious one is "because it makes us feel good to do so". In a human-pleasure-maximization calculus, being nice to animals is good. Being nice to plants is good too, for that matter, as is being nice to many non-living systems. And that's the only calculus that I see in evidence over the course of human history.

    We can devise any arbitrary philosophical system of morality we'd like to, but when it comes down to making decisions about what sort of medical and biological research to perform, what kinds of food to farm, and what impact on the environment to allow, pragmatic concerns about the future of the human species have to win out. Until the point where humanity, on average, cares about something other than its own survival more than it cares about continuing to exist, our decisions must be, at most, a selection from among those options which most benefit humanity while least impacting everything else in the universe.

    A moral framework which judges the pleasure of rats equivalent to the pleasure of humans sounds nice but, so long as our species' biological imperative is to survive, it has no business determining whether or not we perform potentially human-life-saving research. Treating the research animals as nicely as possible within the constraints of the research is both scientifically valuable and, via humans' empathetic response, pleasant, but I see no logical reason that we should, as a rule, consider the pleasure of non-humans equally important to our own. Their pleasure, unlike ours, is largely irrelevant to our survival, and survival is the closest thing to a uniform imperative that our species has.

    I don't agree with most of what SKFM has had to say, but I do agree with him that our actions, and indeed our survival, is not inherently important to the universe in any way. Our actions have no inherent import to the world around us. But our survival is inherently important to us. Being moral carries no such intrinsic weight, except within such moral frameworks as support our long-term prosperity as a species. I can't see any logical reason, therefore, to select a moral framework on which to base our ethical considerations in which the prosperity of the human species isn't foremost.

    Nothing would necessarily even change were we to one day locate or create another sapient species. I imagine that, in most cases, it would be in our own long-term best interest to treat them decently. Perhaps we would even find that the mistreatment of other sapient beings has the same effect on human societies that the mistreatment of minorities has; I don't know.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    Humanity, on average, wants to survive and to thrive. Human pleasure, as a sum over all humans, increases as the prosperity of our species increases. There is abundant historical evidence that subjugating and mistreating any fraction of the human population of a region is objectively worse, over a long enough time scale, for the entire population of the region than to do otherwise. There is no equivalent evidence with regard to animals. Certainly there are limited classes of animals whose survival and prosperity have an influence on that of humanity, either because they provide some resource on which we are dependent or because we've integrated them into our society in such a way that their displeasure affects those humans around them in the same way that human displeasure would. But, by and large, being mean to other living things has no significant impact on humanity.

    No species aside from humanity, and those few animals we've altered through the domestication process to the extent that they now believe humans to be part of their own species' social order, gives a shit about any species aside from its own. Any attempt we make to ensure the pleasure of a non-human species is already rising well above the biological norm. To the extent that there can be a reason for "why should we include non-human, non-sapient creatures in our moral framework", the only obvious one is "because it makes us feel good to do so". In a human-pleasure-maximization calculus, being nice to animals is good. Being nice to plants is good too, for that matter, as is being nice to many non-living systems. And that's the only calculus that I see in evidence over the course of human history.

    We can devise any arbitrary philosophical system of morality we'd like to, but when it comes down to making decisions about what sort of medical and biological research to perform, what kinds of food to farm, and what impact on the environment to allow, pragmatic concerns about the future of the human species have to win out. Until the point where humanity, on average, cares about something other than its own survival more than it cares about continuing to exist, our decisions must be, at most, a selection from among those options which most benefit humanity while least impacting everything else in the universe.

    A moral framework which judges the pleasure of rats equivalent to the pleasure of humans sounds nice but, so long as our species' biological imperative is to survive, it has no business determining whether or not we perform potentially human-life-saving research. Treating the research animals as nicely as possible within the constraints of the research is both scientifically valuable and, via humans' empathetic response, pleasant, but I see no logical reason that we should, as a rule, consider the pleasure of non-humans equally important to our own. Their pleasure, unlike ours, is largely irrelevant to our survival, and survival is the closest thing to a uniform imperative that our species has.

    I don't agree with most of what SKFM has had to say, but I do agree with him that our actions, and indeed our survival, is not inherently important to the universe in any way. Our actions have no inherent import to the world around us. But our survival is inherently important to us. Being moral carries no such intrinsic weight, except within such moral frameworks as support our long-term prosperity as a species. I can't see any logical reason, therefore, to select a moral framework on which to base our ethical considerations in which the prosperity of the human species isn't foremost.

    Nothing would necessarily even change were we to one day locate or create another sapient species. I imagine that, in most cases, it would be in our own long-term best interest to treat them decently. Perhaps we would even find that the mistreatment of other sapient beings has the same effect on human societies that the mistreatment of minorities has; I don't know.

    If the only logical moral goal is the survival and prosperity of the human species, then I'm wondering what forms of medical experimentation on individual human subjects would be considered immoral or unethical as long as that research provided a benefit for the human species as a whole.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain in humans. Utilitarian morality, like any moral system that doesn't pre-suppose some universal, inherent moral code, is ultimately either selfish or about humans. We can maximize utility based on its impact on us, individually and personally, or based on its impact on humanity as a whole, largely dependent upon whether we think that the species' ability to prosper is a driving goal. In either case, avoiding unnecessary harm to humans is an easily defensible utilitarian moral position.

    Two comments.

    1) Your use of 'utilitarianism' here is pretty non-standard. Utilitarianism is usually taken to be the code that the ultimate good is happiness, which is tightly identified with maximal pleasure and minimal pain, and that actions should be taken in accord to how much either they, or the principles of choice from which they flow, serve to maximize happiness. Of the classical Utilitarians, Bentham saw no difference between humans and animals on this score:
    The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate... the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes"

    John Stuart Mill, his protege, thought that there was a difference between humans and animals on this score, but that it had not to do with what they deserved but rather with the sorts of pleasures and pains to which they were susceptible. Pigs cannot, for instance, get any pleasure out of the sublime beauty of the works of ancient philosophy. But he took this to be irrelevant toward the fact that what pleasures and pains they are capable of are morally important in just the same way as those same pleasures and pains are when they occur in humans. Furthermore, all classical Utilitarians, and everyone following in the tradition, has put forth the requirements of the Utilitarian calculus as fully impartial: in Bentham's words it requires "each to count for one, and none for more than one." So Utilitarianism, in standard use, is actually an example of a moral theory which is neither selfish nor about humans.

    In standard philosophical use, but as it applies to experimental and industrial ethics? Humanity has never, on average, given much of a shit about anything that isn't human. Bentham may have believed that there will come a day when we consider our treatment of rats to be equivalent to the 19th century treatment of blacks and Asians, but to what benefit? Why should all things that breath be included? For that matter, why should things that don't breath be excluded? There are some plants with stimulus response systems more complex than some animals; shouldn't we include them? Without significantly more information than modern science possesses, any distinction we choose to make is going to be horribly arbitrary. And even with more knowledge than we have now, any distinction that doesn't include every system in the universe--organic or otherwise, living or otherwise--which has states that may be divided into some binary set of more and less prosperous is, ultimately, arbitrary.

    I have a preference for humanity. Bentham has a preference for things that breath. There are folks out there who think picking fruit off of plants is immoral because it harms the plant; they apparently have a preference for organic systems. Is a star a less complex system than a rat? A rat deprived of food will starve, and this deprivation is immoral because feeding the rat would put it in a more pleasurable state. Is it then not our moral imperative to ensure the sun's supply of hydrogen? What makes one hideously complex physical system more or less important to moral consideration?
    Bentham's method was "can it suffer?" We should care about things that can feel pain because pain is bad. Any other method of drawing the line was arbitrary, according to him. You want to draw the line at humans, which is blatant unjustifiable prejudice.
    MrMister wrote: »
    2) The 'why' question you ask here--why include animals?--can just as well be asked about the fundamental principles of any moral system. The Kantians think they have a non-question-begging answer, but I (and many others) think that it is not any good. Instead, it seems that there may be some primitives in this area of discourse which are not given much in substantive further explanation and defense. And this is so in all sorts of places--try giving a substantive definition of truth, for instance; even the barest logic must appeal to some notions that are not themselves further argued or explained. So it's not obvious that the why-question cannot be met with "that's simply how it is."

    The why question appears, to me at least, to be the only relevant one here. We can extend moral consideration to any degree, to the extent that essentially any action any human takes could be considered immoral on the basis of its impact on some species of animal, some species of plant, or some equivalently complex non-living system. That extension makes the framework fundamentally useless. It can no longer tell us anything useful about morality because every action aside from submitting to entropy is, in some fashion, immoral.

    Humanity, on average, wants to survive and to thrive. Human pleasure, as a sum over all humans, increases as the prosperity of our species increases. There is abundant historical evidence that subjugating and mistreating any fraction of the human population of a region is objectively worse, over a long enough time scale, for the entire population of the region than to do otherwise. There is no equivalent evidence with regard to animals. Certainly there are limited classes of animals whose survival and prosperity have an influence on that of humanity, either because they provide some resource on which we are dependent or because we've integrated them into our society in such a way that their displeasure affects those humans around them in the same way that human displeasure would. But, by and large, being mean to other living things has no significant impact on humanity.
    Who gives a shit? Why does it matter that some things cause humanity to thrive? What is so special about the human race that makes its pleasure matter so much? If I replace "humanity" with "white people" and say that the pure Aryan race must do what it takes to increase its pleasure, what mistake am I making, and why are you not making the same mistake?
    No species aside from humanity, and those few animals we've altered through the domestication process to the extent that they now believe humans to be part of their own species' social order, gives a shit about any species aside from its own. Any attempt we make to ensure the pleasure of a non-human species is already rising well above the biological norm. To the extent that there can be a reason for "why should we include non-human, non-sapient creatures in our moral framework", the only obvious one is "because it makes us feel good to do so". In a human-pleasure-maximization calculus, being nice to animals is good. Being nice to plants is good too, for that matter, as is being nice to many non-living systems. And that's the only calculus that I see in evidence over the course of human history.
    You're being very over-inclusive here. Not all humans "give a shit about any species aside from its own." Some humans don't care about other members of their species (spacekungfuman only cares about his own pleasure, ultimately, and white supremacists only care about white people, and babies don't care about anyone, and people in a coma don't care about anyone...). More importantly, you've basically just repeated the Kantian answer that MrMister and so many others do not find compelling: the only things that matter morally are the things that can make moral judgments. This doesn't sound right - clearly there's something wrong with kicking a dog, even if the dog doesn't understand that. As moral creatures, human beings have the ability to do good and bad things, but this doesn't mean that we can only do good and bad things to each other. We can do good and bad things to anything that matters morally, even if that thing doesn't understand that what's being done to it is bad.

    We can devise any arbitrary philosophical system of morality we'd like to, but when it comes down to making decisions about what sort of medical and biological research to perform, what kinds of food to farm, and what impact on the environment to allow, pragmatic concerns about the future of the human species have to win out. Until the point where humanity, on average, cares about something other than its own survival more than it cares about continuing to exist, our decisions must be, at most, a selection from among those options which most benefit humanity while least impacting everything else in the universe.
    You say that if human beings only care about human beings, then morality is based on only what we do to other humans, but clearly that would not work for "white people," so why is it okay to draw the line at the species level if it's not okay to draw it at the skin color level?
    A moral framework which judges the pleasure of rats equivalent to the pleasure of humans sounds nice but, so long as our species' biological imperative is to survive, it has no business determining whether or not we perform potentially human-life-saving research. Treating the research animals as nicely as possible within the constraints of the research is both scientifically valuable and, via humans' empathetic response, pleasant, but I see no logical reason that we should, as a rule, consider the pleasure of non-humans equally important to our own. Their pleasure, unlike ours, is largely irrelevant to our survival, and survival is the closest thing to a uniform imperative that our species has.
    What the fuck does a biological imperative to survive have to do with morality?! People have biological imperatives to rape, murder, and steal! Morality is about right and wrong, not about what our natural urges tell us to do. Sometimes the moral thing to do might be self-effacing and go directly against the set of biological imperatives that evolution has left us with.
    I don't agree with most of what SKFM has had to say, but I do agree with him that our actions, and indeed our survival, is not inherently important to the universe in any way. Our actions have no inherent import to the world around us. But our survival is inherently important to us. Being moral carries no such intrinsic weight, except within such moral frameworks as support our long-term prosperity as a species. I can't see any logical reason, therefore, to select a moral framework on which to base our ethical considerations in which the prosperity of the human species isn't foremost.

    Nothing would necessarily even change were we to one day locate or create another sapient species. I imagine that, in most cases, it would be in our own long-term best interest to treat them decently. Perhaps we would even find that the mistreatment of other sapient beings has the same effect on human societies that the mistreatment of minorities has; I don't know.
    If you think that morality doesn't fundamentally exist, and that we just make up whatever morality we want, then why can't I make up a white supremacist morality where what matters is the prosperity of the pure Aryan race and fuck everyone else? What mistake have I made and why are you not making the same mistake?

    Your argument is fundamentally circular. You say "humanity is all that matters, so therefore, since we can choose whatever morality we want, we will choose one that only cares about humanity, and thus morality doesn't really tell us to be nice to animals." Unfortunately you cannot justify the first premise: why is it humanity that matters? Why not all sentient creatures? If I replace "humanity" with "white people," the argument goes through just as well, I think, which is to say it doesn't go through at all. I can't just start with the premise that white people are the only ones that matter. The reason I think I can start with "sentient creatures" as the only ones who matter is because I think that non-sentient things, like plants and rocks, don't matter because they can't experience anything, and therefore you can't do anything bad to them because I can't think of anything bad that can't be experienced.* Animals can experience things, so their live matter. Of course, maybe things get fuzzy on the edges: are plants really not sentient? What about mollusks? But I don't really give a shit because this thread is about experimentation and I'm just saying we need to stop experimenting on most non-human animals in cases where we would not also use humans.

    *Just for the record, I don't believe any of this, but it's close enough to the truth and simple enough to get the job done.

  • cptruggedcptrugged Time Dilated Registered User regular
    Wow, I would love to take the opinions on the value of human and animal life presented here and quote them forever in other topics. It's amazing how peoples basic opinions on this subject could be shown as the basis for opinions on other topics.

    Not to threadjack or anything. Good reading in here.

    So a bit on to the original topic. Does anyone believe that the data itself gained from such horrific actions as Unit 731 is tainted? I've seen the debate come up before that using this data at all is unethical as you are in effect putting pseudo stamp of legitimacy on the action. But the counter being that the value of the data cannot be weighed with the means by which it was gained. The benefits of such data is too great to be simply discarded.

    I saw a lot of opinions on the means by which we gain the data in the discussion here (animal experiments and such) but nothing on what should be done with the "ends" after the fact.

  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Humanity, on average, wants to survive and to thrive. Human pleasure, as a sum over all humans, increases as the prosperity of our species increases. There is abundant historical evidence that subjugating and mistreating any fraction of the human population of a region is objectively worse, over a long enough time scale, for the entire population of the region than to do otherwise. There is no equivalent evidence with regard to animals. Certainly there are limited classes of animals whose survival and prosperity have an influence on that of humanity, either because they provide some resource on which we are dependent or because we've integrated them into our society in such a way that their displeasure affects those humans around them in the same way that human displeasure would. But, by and large, being mean to other living things has no significant impact on humanity.

    No species aside from humanity, and those few animals we've altered through the domestication process to the extent that they now believe humans to be part of their own species' social order, gives a shit about any species aside from its own. Any attempt we make to ensure the pleasure of a non-human species is already rising well above the biological norm. To the extent that there can be a reason for "why should we include non-human, non-sapient creatures in our moral framework", the only obvious one is "because it makes us feel good to do so". In a human-pleasure-maximization calculus, being nice to animals is good. Being nice to plants is good too, for that matter, as is being nice to many non-living systems. And that's the only calculus that I see in evidence over the course of human history.

    We can devise any arbitrary philosophical system of morality we'd like to, but when it comes down to making decisions about what sort of medical and biological research to perform, what kinds of food to farm, and what impact on the environment to allow, pragmatic concerns about the future of the human species have to win out. Until the point where humanity, on average, cares about something other than its own survival more than it cares about continuing to exist, our decisions must be, at most, a selection from among those options which most benefit humanity while least impacting everything else in the universe.

    A moral framework which judges the pleasure of rats equivalent to the pleasure of humans sounds nice but, so long as our species' biological imperative is to survive, it has no business determining whether or not we perform potentially human-life-saving research. Treating the research animals as nicely as possible within the constraints of the research is both scientifically valuable and, via humans' empathetic response, pleasant, but I see no logical reason that we should, as a rule, consider the pleasure of non-humans equally important to our own. Their pleasure, unlike ours, is largely irrelevant to our survival, and survival is the closest thing to a uniform imperative that our species has.

    I don't agree with most of what SKFM has had to say, but I do agree with him that our actions, and indeed our survival, is not inherently important to the universe in any way. Our actions have no inherent import to the world around us. But our survival is inherently important to us. Being moral carries no such intrinsic weight, except within such moral frameworks as support our long-term prosperity as a species. I can't see any logical reason, therefore, to select a moral framework on which to base our ethical considerations in which the prosperity of the human species isn't foremost.

    Nothing would necessarily even change were we to one day locate or create another sapient species. I imagine that, in most cases, it would be in our own long-term best interest to treat them decently. Perhaps we would even find that the mistreatment of other sapient beings has the same effect on human societies that the mistreatment of minorities has; I don't know.

    If the only logical moral goal is the survival and prosperity of the human species, then I'm wondering what forms of medical experimentation on individual human subjects would be considered immoral or unethical as long as that research provided a benefit for the human species as a whole.

    I would say their is no limit other than the fear that if we allow these experiments on people we may be the next subjects or the harm done to our psyches by experimenting on other people.

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
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    @chanus
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I'm pretty uncomfortable with not using the data. I understand the arguments for not using crocodile-skins obtained by poachers, and the same would apply to such data, as far as I can tell, but while I think that level of justification is sufficient for discarding something of as little practical value as crocodile-skin, I don't think it's sufficient for discarding something potentially very valuable like data.
    Quid wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Would it be morally acceptable to perform painful medical experiments on prisoners?

    Yes, he does think it's okay to do so.
    If we capture them instead, would we be justified in torturing them to get information out of them which would save our entire army? If we think we would (I personally think we would) then what if instead we use them to test 5 antidotes for the nerve gas, one of which we are pretty certain will work, knowing that at least 4 of the enemy soldiers will probably die a horrible death from the nerve gas?

    Nervegas-testing might be more useful than interrogation. Making interrogation actually do things rather than not doing anything is hard.

    PLA on
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    If no one is keeping score, what does being wrong even mean? If we all agree that it is wrong to hurt animals, then the reason not to do it is that people decided it is wrong and will punish or shun you for hurting animals. If we change our minds and now there is no repercussion for hurting animals, what does it mean for it to be wrong, and how does it being wrong disincentivize us from doing it?

    We keep score. Otherwise what's the point in having a justice system or religion's ethical codes to guide humanity so they don't commit bad acts on people. Humanity requires morality to be a civilization rather than descend back into primitive tribalism.
    @lawndart asked why this would not apply to people, but I think it absolutely does. The reason we don't allow experiments on prisoners is that we fear we may be prisoners one day ourselves and would not want to be experimented on. We never fear being in the animal's position, so this would not apply here. Morality is a system of rules meant to direct behavior, but there is no reason for people to follow rules which are not enforced and which do not carry sanctions when breached, even if for no reason other than that we would not expect other rational beings to follow them.

    It's a bit more complex than that. Many people, myself included, don't endorse torture or mad scientist batshit insane medical experiments (re: Josef Mengele) not only because we might be the ones under the knife under the right circumstances, if it's done on prisoners by government sanction, or fear reprisals from enemies torturing our POW's if we do it to their's, but because we believe it's a bad thing to do because they're living human beings who don't deserve to be guinea pigs for people who deserve to sentenced to life (or death) at the Hague or other government's military justice tribunals. I'm sure there are and were people in America's armed forces and spy agencies that loathed torture for these reasons (as well as the fact torture is useless for gathering intelligence that's why it was a controversial topic in Bush's reign).

    I'd fight back, but if I lose (because they in fact have the might to defeat us) then what does it even mean to say they are wrong?

    Being beaten by a superior force doesn't mean anything but humanity has acquired morality so we understand what's good and bad so if they do torture/experience on people we know it's a bad thing. We need morality to govern our actions otherwise we become worse than the most vicious animals to curtail humanity's destructive nature from hurting weaker species and ourselves.

    Harry Dresden on
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    cptrugged wrote: »
    Wow, I would love to take the opinions on the value of human and animal life presented here and quote them forever in other topics. It's amazing how peoples basic opinions on this subject could be shown as the basis for opinions on other topics.

    Not to threadjack or anything. Good reading in here.

    So a bit on to the original topic. Does anyone believe that the data itself gained from such horrific actions as Unit 731 is tainted? I've seen the debate come up before that using this data at all is unethical as you are in effect putting pseudo stamp of legitimacy on the action. But the counter being that the value of the data cannot be weighed with the means by which it was gained. The benefits of such data is too great to be simply discarded.

    I saw a lot of opinions on the means by which we gain the data in the discussion here (animal experiments and such) but nothing on what should be done with the "ends" after the fact.

    The only reason that I can see not to use it is if we thinking using it will lead to people kidnapping us and experimenting on us. If we don't have that fear, why not use it?

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    Draygo: I don't see anywhere that you've answered one of my questions: if you could have all the avoidance response behaviors associated with pain without feeling the pain itself, wouldn't that be better?

    No, because that will be the new 'pain'. It would be equivilant. All I'm trying to get across to you is that pain itself is a pretty good thing. The issue is what is causing the pain that could be bad.

    The guy stabbing you with the knife is bad, the fact that you are feeling pain is good, so you know you are being stabbed, and you will try to react to it.

    Sure pain feels bad, but that has nothing to do with pain itself being bad. Pain isn't bad, it just feels bad, because its trying to get you to react to it. There is a reason we feel pain the way we do and animials feel pain the way they do. If it didnt hurt enough we wouldnt react to it the way we should. If you broke a bone and kept running on it, you will cause even more damage to your body. Pain stops you from doing that. (Unless of course survival instint is kicking in overriding the pain and letting you run on it).

    Just because something doesnt feel good or taste good, doesnt have any relevence on if it actually is good.

    You might not like cabbage, but its good for you. You probably dont like feeling pain, but that is also good for you.

    Pain is like someone yelling to a crowd about some imminent danger. The person yelling isnt the problem, the danger is.

    Back to the science of it, how exactly do you propose we develop pain killers if 'pain is bad' and we cant do pain in experimentation. Now the morality of it might be the difference between willful (human) and unwillful participants (animal) in your view.

    Draygo on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    Lawndart wrote: »
    If the only logical moral goal is the survival and prosperity of the human species, then I'm wondering what forms of medical experimentation on individual human subjects would be considered immoral or unethical as long as that research provided a benefit for the human species as a whole.

    I would say their is no limit other than the fear that if we allow these experiments on people we may be the next subjects or the harm done to our psyches by experimenting on other people.

    So then any kind of medical experimentation on children would be acceptable as long as the adult researchers had no fear that they would be the next test subjects?

    Also, why would fear of being a test subject or psychological harm be an issue when the context is benefit for the survival of the human species as a whole?

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Draygo wrote: »
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    Draygo: I don't see anywhere that you've answered one of my questions: if you could have all the avoidance response behaviors associated with pain without feeling the pain itself, wouldn't that be better?

    No, because that will be the new 'pain'. It would be equivilant. All I'm trying to get across to you is that pain itself is a pretty good thing. The issue is what is causing the pain that could be bad.

    The guy stabbing you with the knife is bad, the fact that you are feeling pain is good, so you know you are being stabbed, and you will try to react to it.

    Sure pain feels bad, but that has nothing to do with pain itself being bad. Pain isn't bad, it just feels bad, because its trying to get you to react to it. There is a reason we feel pain the way we do and animials feel pain the way they do. If it didnt hurt enough we wouldnt react to it the way we should. If you broke a bone and kept running on it, you will cause even more damage to your body. Pain stops you from doing that. (Unless of course survival instint is kicking in overriding the pain and letting you run on it).

    Just because something doesnt feel good or taste good, doesnt have any relevence on if it actually is good.

    You might not like cabbage, but its good for you. You probably dont like feeling pain, but that is also good for you.

    Pain is like someone yelling to a crowd about some imminent danger. The person yelling isnt the problem, the danger is.

    Back to the science of it, how exactly do you propose we develop pain killers if 'pain is bad' and we cant do pain in experimentation. Now the morality of it might be the difference between willful (human) and unwillful participants (animal) in your view.
    You are separating out two things: the feeling of pain, and pain itself. Fine. Erase everything I've ever said in this thread about "pain" and replace it with "the feeling of pain." Now my argument goes through fine.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    I don't think it's particularly strange to ask someone to justify their reasoning a bit better than "it's self-evident".

    Since most systems of ethics don't actually hold that pain is bad the way you do, I think it's safe to say that it is not self-evident for most people.


    There are plenty examples of arguments about what's morally wrong (e.g. it says so in this book. it says so in this other book.if, taken as a general rule, it destroys society it's morally wrong), a lot of them start with the notion of what is morally good and then deem that which negatively affects that is a moral wrong. It's pretty easy.

  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    I don't think it's particularly strange to ask someone to justify their reasoning a bit better than "it's self-evident".

    Since most systems of ethics don't actually hold that pain is bad the way you do, I think it's safe to say that it is not self-evident for most people.

    There are plenty examples of arguments about what's morally wrong (e.g. it says so in this book. it says so in this other book.if, taken as a general rule, it destroys society it's morally wrong), a lot of them start with the notion of what is morally good and then deem that which negatively affects that is a moral wrong. It's pretty easy.

    I'd say that negative reactions to painful stimuli, something that's present in pretty much every single living organism, supports the claim that "pain is bad" is pretty self-evident.

    I'm fascinated that simply claiming "it says so in this book" is enough to support a moral argument, since then your question has already been answered since Utilitarianism and the books written in support of that ethical stance say that pain and suffering are bad.

    But you're missing the point here. The claim isn't that pain is in and of itself always bad, but that inflicting pain on others is, in general, morally wrong.

  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    Draygo wrote: »
    I've been getting a lot of pushback on "pain is bad" in this thread. Specifically people have been asking me to justify this statement. I'm a little at a loss because it seems self-evident that pain is bad, at least if you understand what the words "pain" and "bad" mean. What would really help me is if someone can tell me something that is bad, and then justify it in the way they want me to justify that pain is bad. That is, give some sort of justification for why SOMETHING is bad so I can get an idea of what sort of proof you're looking for.

    Draygo: I don't see anywhere that you've answered one of my questions: if you could have all the avoidance response behaviors associated with pain without feeling the pain itself, wouldn't that be better?

    No, because that will be the new 'pain'. It would be equivilant. All I'm trying to get across to you is that pain itself is a pretty good thing. The issue is what is causing the pain that could be bad.

    The guy stabbing you with the knife is bad, the fact that you are feeling pain is good, so you know you are being stabbed, and you will try to react to it.

    Sure pain feels bad, but that has nothing to do with pain itself being bad. Pain isn't bad, it just feels bad, because its trying to get you to react to it. There is a reason we feel pain the way we do and animials feel pain the way they do. If it didnt hurt enough we wouldnt react to it the way we should. If you broke a bone and kept running on it, you will cause even more damage to your body. Pain stops you from doing that. (Unless of course survival instint is kicking in overriding the pain and letting you run on it).

    Just because something doesnt feel good or taste good, doesnt have any relevence on if it actually is good.

    You might not like cabbage, but its good for you. You probably dont like feeling pain, but that is also good for you.

    Pain is like someone yelling to a crowd about some imminent danger. The person yelling isnt the problem, the danger is.

    Back to the science of it, how exactly do you propose we develop pain killers if 'pain is bad' and we cant do pain in experimentation. Now the morality of it might be the difference between willful (human) and unwillful participants (animal) in your view.

    Pain itself is often debilitating. Pain is often kinda pointless, as it causes more harm than the initial injury, prevents people from doing things that will improve their health(physical therapy is often very painful, this pain doesn't do the patient any good), it exists beyond the danger or presence of the underlying cause.

    Pain in humans in modern society causes an awful lot of harm. If we were install a nerve block so no one ever again felt anything more than a 4 on the pain scale, it would do nothing to harmful to humans' ability to survive.

    You can hurt so much that you can not function. This can exist for reasons that pose no danger to survival or health. Pain as it exists is a pretty poor solution to the problem of potential hazard. We need some sort of survival mechanism that preforms this function, as is demonstrated by all the crap people who don't feel pain have to deal with, but I don't think this means pain is good/an ideal solution.


    Also, considering that his whole discussion comes from a discussion on utilitarianism, it is not so much pain that we are talking about, but the situations that give rise to pain. There isn't a lot wrong with the idea that, all other things being equal, situations which cause more total pain are worse than situations which give rise to total less pain. ("all other things being equal" meaning we can ignore pain/pleasure calculus for the moment and "total pain" meaning over a longish timeline)

    This machine kills threads.
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    If no one is keeping score, what does being wrong even mean? If we all agree that it is wrong to hurt animals, then the reason not to do it is that people decided it is wrong and will punish or shun you for hurting animals. If we change our minds and now there is no repercussion for hurting animals, what does it mean for it to be wrong, and how does it being wrong disincentivize us from doing it?

    We keep score. Otherwise what's the point in having a justice system or religion's ethical codes to guide humanity so they don't commit bad acts on people. Humanity requires morality to be a civilization rather than descend back into primitive tribalism.
    @lawndart asked why this would not apply to people, but I think it absolutely does. The reason we don't allow experiments on prisoners is that we fear we may be prisoners one day ourselves and would not want to be experimented on. We never fear being in the animal's position, so this would not apply here. Morality is a system of rules meant to direct behavior, but there is no reason for people to follow rules which are not enforced and which do not carry sanctions when breached, even if for no reason other than that we would not expect other rational beings to follow them.

    It's a bit more complex than that. Many people, myself included, don't endorse torture or mad scientist batshit insane medical experiments (re: Josef Mengele) not only because we might be the ones under the knife under the right circumstances, if it's done on prisoners by government sanction, or fear reprisals from enemies torturing our POW's if we do it to their's, but because we believe it's a bad thing to do because they're living human beings who don't deserve to be guinea pigs for people who deserve to sentenced to life (or death) at the Hague or other government's military justice tribunals. I'm sure there are and were people in America's armed forces and spy agencies that loathed torture for these reasons (as well as the fact torture is useless for gathering intelligence that's why it was a controversial topic in Bush's reign).

    I'd fight back, but if I lose (because they in fact have the might to defeat us) then what does it even mean to say they are wrong?

    Being beaten by a superior force doesn't mean anything but humanity has acquired morality so we understand what's good and bad so if they do torture/experience on people we know it's a bad thing. We need morality to govern our actions otherwise we become worse than the most vicious animals to curtail humanity's destructive nature from hurting weaker species and ourselves.

    It isn't just physical pain or the fear/anticipation of physical pain. The emotional upset of seeing things we don't like or of knowing we are responsible for those things counts too. I don't fear that I will be forced to undergo an experiment if a cat is experimented on, but I love cats and would be upset if I knew they were being used for experiments, and so I have a justification not to perform such experiments or support them, and if enough people will agree with me then I will ban them. In fact, given the choice of experiments on cats or murderers, I will choose experiments on murderers because I don't care about them and so their harm does not hurt my psyche.


    Lawndart wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    If the only logical moral goal is the survival and prosperity of the human species, then I'm wondering what forms of medical experimentation on individual human subjects would be considered immoral or unethical as long as that research provided a benefit for the human species as a whole.

    I would say their is no limit other than the fear that if we allow these experiments on people we may be the next subjects or the harm done to our psyches by experimenting on other people.

    So then any kind of medical experimentation on children would be acceptable as long as the adult researchers had no fear that they would be the next test subjects?

    Also, why would fear of being a test subject or psychological harm be an issue when the context is benefit for the survival of the human species as a whole?

    Please see the above. Harm to children would harm my psyche. My personal cost benefit analysis could come out against something which a species wide cost benefit analysis would result in, and our actions will be decided by what the strongest people decide to do. I would wager that all countries, acting as a group, would be opposed to drone assassinations, but the US doesn't have to decide based on other country's views. We are the strongest, so we can do them until enough countries object so that their combined might rivals ours.

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    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
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