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"Because we can," ethics in scientific experiments

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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Lawndart wrote: »
    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.
    That supports the claim that pain is something we negatively react to, that doesn't mean it's morally wrong. Unless you're willing to claim that any negative reaction means something is therefore bad.
    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.
    it being written in a book isn't good support for a moral argument, but generally there are at least arguments as to why something is wrong. ("The Lord doesn't want you to" may not be a reasoning I buy, but it is at least a reasoning.)
    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.
    I'm pretty sure that the claim is that pain is in and of itself always bad. Like
    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


    Edit: I mean, if we take negative reaction to pain being proof of it being morally wrong then we must accept that pain itself is always bad whether inflicted by others on you or by yourself (or falling rocks or earthquakes).

    Julius on
  • V1mV1m Registered User 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.

    I think you're missing a pretty huge risk here, specifically the erosion or moral barriers to lower and lower levels of return until we finally logically accept that it's morally acceptable to condemn 49.99% of humanity to perpetual screaming torment if it would provide eternal bliss to the other 50.01%.

    At which point I would ask: you implicitly accept this concept and you're also the guy who claims to be mortally offended that someone wants to toke up a little weed simply because you don't like the smell of the smoke?

  • cptruggedcptrugged Time Dilated Registered User 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?

    Because otherwise, what good are your ethics laws and regulations. If someone knows that his data will be used no matter what. If he doesn't care about his own punishment. Why not do what needs to be done for the greater good? Isn't this just an argument for ends justify the means?

    Now others have said that bad practices don't always equal better / faster results. In that case the point is really moot as a good scientist will want the best results.

  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    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.

    So we're still on "might makes right", which makes talk about "harming one's psyche" meaningless unless we're talking about the psyches of the people in positions of power.

    Also, cost-benefit analysis would also be meaningless since whatever the strongest people decide to do is morally right, according to your logic. They could perform painful medical experiments on children for the benefit of science, or for pure pleasure, and they would both be morally equivalent.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    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.
    Fine, if "pain is bad" is somehow not self-evident to you (this seems very odd to me: have you ever experienced pain? Do you remember what it felt like? Didn't it feel bad?), here are some "it says so in this book" citations which apparently make me more right:

    Bentham, Jeremy. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Oxford, London, New York: Clarendon Press; 1907.
    Brink, David Owen. Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
    Donaldson, Sue. Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
    Korsgaard, Christine M. The Sources of Normativity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
    Nagel, Thomas. The View from Nowhere. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
    Scanlon, Thomas. What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.
    Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1977.
    Street, Sharon. “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.” Philosophical Studies 127, no. 1 (2006): 109–166.

    I could of course give hundreds of other examples, because aside from people with like the Stoics, who have convinced very few others, most have found it self evident that pain is bad. Basically anyone with a functioning nervous system and no commitment to obscure philosophical theories that imply otherwise can tell that pain is bad. It's one of the few things we can all agree on except for some people in this thread.

    My last volley on this topic, at least for now, is to ask, if pain isn't bad, WHY THE FUCK ARE WE EXPERIMENTING ON ANIMALS TO MAKE NEW DRUGS?! What the fuck do we need drugs for if pain isn't bad?




    TychoCelchuuu on
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    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.

    @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.

    While you response is very interesting, it doesn't seem to address my position.
    The phrase "pain is bad" is meaningless without context. Well not meaningless, pointless would be a better word since the answer would "okay".

    In the context of "Pain is bad, so don't have surgery" or "Pain is bad, don't play paintball", it doesn't make pain less "bad", however now you can evaluate it with the gain.

    Trying to cure cancer and causing pain in the process isn't a net "bad". I guess you can try and equate that to your 'current pain/future pain' paradigm, but honestly trying to measure something like that seems impossible.

    Or to put it another way, I view the future pain of people with cancer more than the current pain of rats involved in cancer treatment experiments. Let them throw themselves on a grenade for us.

    Or you can view their pleasure/pain calculus over the life that they live, versus not having existed at all (since they're specifically bred for these applications)

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
    spacekungfuman
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User 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.

    I weighed in earlier on this, but it is something I'd like to see expanded on.

    I'm in two minds though.
    Assuming the data is good, discarding it doesn't undo the harm, and might prevent us from mitigating what happened by using it for beneficial applications.

    Is there a risk of people doing more of these in a sense of self-sacrifice if we use these types of data?

    I'm still leaning on the side of using it though.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    V1m wrote: »
    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.

    I think you're missing a pretty huge risk here, specifically the erosion or moral barriers to lower and lower levels of return until we finally logically accept that it's morally acceptable to condemn 49.99% of humanity to perpetual screaming torment if it would provide eternal bliss to the other 50.01%.

    At which point I would ask: you implicitly accept this concept and you're also the guy who claims to be mortally offended that someone wants to toke up a little weed simply because you don't like the smell of the smoke?

    Well, we won't accept your future if (1) we have reason to fear that we could one day fall into the other 49.99% or (2) it is so appalling to the 50.01% don't want to do it. I think that (2) is a very compelling reason why we would not do so.

    I think my stance on drugs is completely consistent with what I'm saying here. I don't value the pleasure people obtain from them and so don't want anyone to use them, including myself for a number of reasons, one of which is the "harm" of being inconvienced by users. I don't fear being subject to similiar restrictions (I'd be fine with alcohol being banned) and my empathy does not make me feel bad for those who can't use them because of the ban.
    cptrugged wrote: »
    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?

    Because otherwise, what good are your ethics laws and regulations. If someone knows that his data will be used no matter what. If he doesn't care about his own punishment. Why not do what needs to be done for the greater good? Isn't this just an argument for ends justify the means?

    Now others have said that bad practices don't always equal better / faster results. In that case the point is really moot as a good scientist will want the best results.

    How could we stop the person you are describing from doing the experiment anyway? He explicitly doesn't care about the sanction, so it seems to me that where we don't fear being made the subject of his experiment, and we can't stop him from performing the experiment, there is no good reason not to use the data. If we have reason to fear his experiments, then I see the point in refusing to use the data if it will be an effective sanction against him performing them.
    Lawndart wrote: »
    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.

    So we're still on "might makes right", which makes talk about "harming one's psyche" meaningless unless we're talking about the psyches of the people in positions of power.

    Also, cost-benefit analysis would also be meaningless since whatever the strongest people decide to do is morally right, according to your logic. They could perform painful medical experiments on children for the benefit of science, or for pure pleasure, and they would both be morally equivalent.

    Yes, that is the harm to the psyche I was referring to.

    Only if the strongest people are so strong that we as a society can't stop them. If gods walk among us and do whatever they please and we cannot stop them, what value in calling them 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
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS 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.
    Fine, if "pain is bad" is somehow not self-evident to you (this seems very odd to me: have you ever experienced pain? Do you remember what it felt like? Didn't it feel bad?), here are some "it says so in this book" citations which apparently make me more right:

    Bentham, Jeremy. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Oxford, London, New York: Clarendon Press; 1907.
    Brink, David Owen. Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
    Donaldson, Sue. Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
    Korsgaard, Christine M. The Sources of Normativity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
    Nagel, Thomas. The View from Nowhere. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
    Scanlon, Thomas. What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.
    Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1977.
    Street, Sharon. “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.” Philosophical Studies 127, no. 1 (2006): 109–166.

    I could of course give hundreds of other examples, because aside from people with like the Stoics, who have convinced very few others, most have found it self evident that pain is bad. Basically anyone with a functioning nervous system and no commitment to obscure philosophical theories that imply otherwise can tell that pain is bad. It's one of the few things we can all agree on except for some people in this thread.

    My last volley on this topic, at least for now, is to ask, if pain isn't bad, WHY THE FUCK ARE WE EXPERIMENTING ON ANIMALS TO MAKE NEW DRUGS?! What the fuck do we need drugs for if pain isn't bad?




    Because it is not incoherent to say that the pain we experience is bad, but that we don't care about the pain of others? The entire idea of self defense in predicated on this notion. Do you disagree with that, or do you think that if someone attacks you then you are wrong for causing him pain when you defend yourself?

    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
  • 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.

    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.

    Which is why I bought it up. IIRC you didn't consider that a good alternative to not torturing or experimenting on people, even in the dreaded 24 POW experiment/torture scenario.
    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.

    You would be in fear if you were one of the prisoners in a government sanctioned torture/experiment program. I wasn't discussing the cat thing, I was talking about doing that to humans. A disgusting method used by amoral scientists & the military in the real world. Morality is there so you can protest the changes and if enough political power is on your side you'll get it stopped. Without that limitation in society protests won't change anything. That's why it's vital for humanity to have its ethics and regulations to police itself.
    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.

    Bad analogy. Such a choice would never happen. There's no reason for either prisoners or cats to be experimented on at the behest of a civilian. You're also condemning possible innocent prisoners in your scenario. Not all prisoners are guilty, nor arrested terrorists. Not that being guilty makes experimenting on them any better it's still a terrible practice. Nor is it just your psyche that matters. Many people will disagree with you and feel awful about prisoners being tortured anyway.
    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.

    America is the strongest now. That won't always be the case. In a few decades it might be China or India that's the top of the heap.

    Harry Dresden on
  • PaladinPaladin 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.
    Fine, if "pain is bad" is somehow not self-evident to you (this seems very odd to me: have you ever experienced pain? Do you remember what it felt like? Didn't it feel bad?), here are some "it says so in this book" citations which apparently make me more right:

    Bentham, Jeremy. An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Oxford, London, New York: Clarendon Press; 1907.
    Brink, David Owen. Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
    Donaldson, Sue. Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
    Korsgaard, Christine M. The Sources of Normativity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
    Nagel, Thomas. The View from Nowhere. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
    Scanlon, Thomas. What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.
    Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Avon Books, 1977.
    Street, Sharon. “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value.” Philosophical Studies 127, no. 1 (2006): 109–166.

    I could of course give hundreds of other examples, because aside from people with like the Stoics, who have convinced very few others, most have found it self evident that pain is bad. Basically anyone with a functioning nervous system and no commitment to obscure philosophical theories that imply otherwise can tell that pain is bad. It's one of the few things we can all agree on except for some people in this thread.

    My last volley on this topic, at least for now, is to ask, if pain isn't bad, WHY THE FUCK ARE WE EXPERIMENTING ON ANIMALS TO MAKE NEW DRUGS?! What the fuck do we need drugs for if pain isn't bad?




    death is worse

    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.
  • JuliusJulius 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.
    Fine, if "pain is bad" is somehow not self-evident to you (this seems very odd to me: have you ever experienced pain? Do you remember what it felt like? Didn't it feel bad?), here are some "it says so in this book" citations which apparently make me more right:

    I could of course give hundreds of other examples, because aside from people with like the Stoics, who have convinced very few others, most have found it self evident that pain is bad. Basically anyone with a functioning nervous system and no commitment to obscure philosophical theories that imply otherwise can tell that pain is bad. It's one of the few things we can all agree on except for some people in this thread.

    Bad can in context be translated as 'not-good'. Given that the topic is ethics, I take it as to mean morally not-good. My experiences of pain are, I think, not of very much importance since I don't base my ethics on personal feeling. So skipping lightly over that, we come to the point that pain is a morally wrong thing.

    So you've stated that pain is a morally wrong thing. Cool. You haven't explained yet why it is, other than saying it's self-evident, but cool. To what extent does this apply? Is it always? I assume so, since you've stated that it is still wrong when lions do it or when having surgery.

    I don't think pain is inherently anything other than pain. Utilitarianism usually argues that causing pain is bad because it reduces happiness, not because it's inherently morally wrong itself. Some people have gone that route, but you end up with negative utilitarianism and then you're just advocating the extinction of the entirety of life. So better avoid that.

    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    pain reduces happiness if pain makes you unhappy

    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.
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    How could we stop the person you are describing from doing the experiment anyway? He explicitly doesn't care about the sanction, so it seems to me that where we don't fear being made the subject of his experiment, and we can't stop him from performing the experiment, there is no good reason not to use the data. If we have reason to fear his experiments, then I see the point in refusing to use the data if it will be an effective sanction against him performing them.

    The point isn't stopping the experiment, though it'd be a good thing for third parties to stop such experiments from occurring before people are hurt. It's to arrest and convict them so they can't do it again, along with helping the survivors get over the trauma they experienced.
    Yes, that is the harm to the psyche I was referring to.

    Only if the strongest people are so strong that we as a society can't stop them. If gods walk among us and do whatever they please and we cannot stop them, what value in calling them wrong?

    Gods don't walk among us. If we cannot stop them that does not make them right, it only means they're better at gaining enough control to get what they want made to happen. Being right doesn't mean that person or group has a bigger stick then their opponents. Facts and reality are beyond what humans can control.

    Harry Dresden on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?

    Yep, you're still misreading the argument.

    The experience of pain is not a moral wrong, but it is a bad thing that pretty universally all living organisms that can sense pain seek to avoid.

    This makes consciously inflicting pain on other living things without their consent to be a moral wrong.

    TychoCelchuuu
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Only if the strongest people are so strong that we as a society can't stop them. If gods walk among us and do whatever they please and we cannot stop them, what value in calling them wrong?

    Possibly, none. But that doesn't mean that what they're doing isn't wrong. Consider a parallel: suppose that I am a medieval courtesan, and furthermore that my king smells intolerably bad. What is the value in saying so? Possibly, none. If I say so, he may kill me for my insolence. But the fact that there is no point in saying so doesn't mean that it isn't true that my king smells bad. All that's required for my king to smell bad is that he does, in fact, smell bad. In just the same way, the gods who walk among us might be wrong even though there is no point in saying so. All that's required for them to be wrong is that they are in fact wrong.

    MrMister on
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Julius wrote: »
    it being written in a book isn't good support for a moral argument, but generally there are at least arguments as to why something is wrong. ("The Lord doesn't want you to" may not be a reasoning I buy, but it is at least a reasoning.)

    Any moral system is going to be confronted with the same question. Schematically: for any φ that is ostensibly morally required we can ask why we ought to bother caring about φ, and when further reasons are given we can ask why we ought to care about them, and when further reasons are given we can ask why we... etc.

    There are different ways to try to stop the line of questioning. Humeans try to bottom it out in desire--you want to φ. Kantians try to bottom it out in some form of practical contradiction--not-φing is self-contradictory. Rationalists appeal to an independent order of facts--that φ is required is simply true. Virtue ethicists appeal to human nature--human nature is such that the good human φs. Proponents of each of these theories hope that they can thus explain why φ is required in a final way, one that does not admit of further questioning.

    But regardless of which of these explanations works, if any, the point is that anyone who puts forward anything that we ought to care about is going to face a similar problem--this includes even spacekungfuman, at least if he construes his egoist position as the claim that everyone ought to care about their own well-being; if so, then φ is just "your personal welfare." Anyone who isn't a nihilist is going to have to face the task of giving an explanation which, at some point, comes to an end.

    MrMister on
    TychoCelchuuu
  • manwiththemachinegunmanwiththemachinegun METAL GEAR?! Registered User regular
    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.

    Suddenly Aperture Science doesn't seem so far fetched.

    And now, as a lightside to all of this discussion of grotesque inhumanity.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    [snip]

    Because it is not incoherent to say that the pain we experience is bad, but that we don't care about the pain of others? The entire idea of self defense in predicated on this notion. Do you disagree with that, or do you think that if someone attacks you then you are wrong for causing him pain when you defend yourself?
    I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT ANYBODY CARES ABOUT (for the purposes of this discussion). You might care about raping and torturing kittens! That's entirely beside the point. I am talking about what is right and wrong, and it may just be that you do not care about what the right thing to do is.*

    Self-defense is fine! But imagine you have two options for self-defense against an attacker. Option 1 is to stab him in the stomach. It will be incredibly painful and for the next few months he is in agony, but he's still going to be entirely unrepentant (let's say he's mentally ill, so he really doesn't learn anything from his mistakes). Option 2 is to use your magic knockout machine to neutralize him painlessly. You are just as safe and he learns just as much (that is, nothing).

    Which option is better? Anyone with a functioning conscience and any ability to feel empathy will say "obviously choose option 2, it's just as good for me and less painful for this poor madman." Pain is bad and we should avoid it when we can.
    Paladin wrote: »
    death is worse
    Sure! Not really relevant though.
    Julius wrote: »
    Bad can in context be translated as 'not-good'. Given that the topic is ethics, I take it as to mean morally not-good. My experiences of pain are, I think, not of very much importance since I don't base my ethics on personal feeling. So skipping lightly over that, we come to the point that pain is a morally wrong thing.
    It's not basing ethics on "personal feeling" to say that pain is bad. If ONLY YOU felt pain to be bad, it would be, but EVERYONE feels pain to be bad. If you can provide a solipsistic challenge to the idea that EVERYONE feels the sort of pain that I feel, then I will retract all of my conclusions. That's crazy, though, because everyone feels the same pain and pain is bad to everyone.
    Julius wrote: »
    So you've stated that pain is a morally wrong thing. Cool. You haven't explained yet why it is, other than saying it's self-evident, but cool. To what extent does this apply? Is it always? I assume so, since you've stated that it is still wrong when lions do it or when having surgery.

    I don't think pain is inherently anything other than pain. Utilitarianism usually argues that causing pain is bad because it reduces happiness, not because it's inherently morally wrong itself. Some people have gone that route, but you end up with negative utilitarianism and then you're just advocating the extinction of the entirety of life. So better avoid that.

    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?
    What is morality? Morality is about what we ought to do. We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad! If you don't think pain is bad, then maybe you can stab yourself with a fork until you get the picture!

    *As @MrMister points out, if I'm a Humean, I ultimately do care what you care about, because reasons bottom out in desires, but that is, I think, a few levels above where the discussion is at this point. I don't really care that you're an egoist at least, because I think egoism about morality is obviously wrong.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    Also in the realm of self-experimentation with sea creatures, Ed Ricketts. From The Log of the Sea of Cortez -
    Once in a tide pool, we were discussing the interesting fact that nudibranchs, though beautiful and brightly colored and tasty-looking and soft and unweaponed, are never eaten by other animals which should have found them irresistible. He reached under the water and picked up a lovely orange-colored nudibranch and put it in his mouth. And instantly he made a horrible face and spat and retched, but he had found out why fishes let these living tidbits completely alone.

    Clearly the ethical response to the complications of animal testing is for scientists to only experiment on themselves.

    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.
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!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.

    Two remarks.

    1) You say that it's arbitrary to care about pain, and the functional systems capable of feeling it, without caring about the well-being of other functional systems--like stars, rivers, and lakes and so on. But this is not so arbitrary as you make it out to be. For instance, who's to say that it's better for a star, for its own sake, to keep on burning, rather than to go out? I cannot see why you would pick one rather than the other. Similarly, although we sometimes use intentional language to describe things like rivers--it reaches for the sea--I take such language to be strictly analogical. Strictly speaking, rivers do not reach for anything, and there is no answer to the question of whether a river would rather be dammed or not. Creatures which feel pain, however, do have very obvious, and very asymmetrical answers to these sorts of questions. A rat would most definitely rather not be stabbed; it is better for the rat not to be. A capacity for pleasure and pain, it turns out, is a pre-requisite for having interests at all; since rivers lack it, there is no answer to whether they have an interest in being dammed or an interest in being allowed to flow free. So when one tries to take account of everything which is even capable of having interests, the result is that one considers those creatures which can feel pleasure and pain. But that surely is not arbitrary--after all, you're trying to take account of everything with interests!

    2) You're a little incautious with claims about how we must make decisions. White supremacists do not care about certain subsets of the species and make their decisions accordingly. I, by contrast, do not care about the species per se at all, preferring a more universalistic approach, and also make my decisions accordingly. Am I or the white supremacists part of the relevant 'we?' If yes, then we will surely object that you are not correctly describing what we must do, because we are in fact not doing it.

  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Yes, that is the harm to the psyche I was referring to.

    Only if the strongest people are so strong that we as a society can't stop them. If gods walk among us and do whatever they please and we cannot stop them, what value in calling them wrong?

    Gods don't walk among us. If we cannot stop them that does not make them right, it only means they're better at gaining enough control to get what they want made to happen. Being right doesn't mean that person or group has a bigger stick then their opponents. Facts and reality are beyond what humans can control.

    Well, morality isn't as black and white as that. There are groups and people out there that believe your lifestyle is wrong, and if they had power it would be.

    Similarly, you prevent other people from doing things they believe is morally right.

    And this goes for any metric you use to measure your morality. Even if you get others to use your metrics, they'll still end up with different opinions.

    It also changes as we advance, learn more, and depend less on biological resources.

    At the end of the day, might is the only thing that determines what's right. In a practical sense.

    Doesn't mean I have to like it though.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    [snip]

    Because it is not incoherent to say that the pain we experience is bad, but that we don't care about the pain of others? The entire idea of self defense in predicated on this notion. Do you disagree with that, or do you think that if someone attacks you then you are wrong for causing him pain when you defend yourself?
    I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING FUCK WHAT ANYBODY CARES ABOUT (for the purposes of this discussion). You might care about raping and torturing kittens! That's entirely beside the point. I am talking about what is right and wrong, and it may just be that you do not care about what the right thing to do is.*

    Self-defense is fine! But imagine you have two options for self-defense against an attacker. Option 1 is to stab him in the stomach. It will be incredibly painful and for the next few months he is in agony, but he's still going to be entirely unrepentant (let's say he's mentally ill, so he really doesn't learn anything from his mistakes). Option 2 is to use your magic knockout machine to neutralize him painlessly. You are just as safe and he learns just as much (that is, nothing).

    Which option is better? Anyone with a functioning conscience and any ability to feel empathy will say "obviously choose option 2, it's just as good for me and less painful for this poor madman." Pain is bad and we should avoid it when we can.

    Option 2 is better, but has anybody argued anything different?

    I apologise if I've been misreading your arguments, but using the example of yours above:
    Your attacker is going to infect you with AIDS, you only have a knife.
    Your options are:
    1 - cause him pain, and maybe not get AIDS.
    2 - not cause him pain and maybe get AIDS, which is not painful (for the purpose of this discussion)

    My interpretation of your argument is take (2), whereas I will take (1).

    i.e. Cause unintentional pain to a rat, which you try to minimize, while trying to cure AIDS. If we have a "magic knockout machine" version for tests, use that instead, sure.

    I'm really hoping that we can get computer modelling up to a level of our "magic knockout machine".

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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    it being written in a book isn't good support for a moral argument, but generally there are at least arguments as to why something is wrong. ("The Lord doesn't want you to" may not be a reasoning I buy, but it is at least a reasoning.)

    Any moral system is going to be confronted with the same question. Schematically: for any φ that is ostensibly morally required we can ask why we ought to bother caring about φ, and when further reasons are given we can ask why we ought to care about them, and when further reasons are given we can ask why we... etc.

    There are different ways to try to stop the line of questioning. Humeans try to bottom it out in desire--you want to φ. Kantians try to bottom it out in some form of practical contradiction--not-φing is self-contradictory. Rationalists appeal to an independent order of facts--that φ is required is simply true. Virtue ethicists appeal to human nature--human nature is such that the good human φs. Proponents of each of these theories hope that they can thus explain why φ is required in a final way, one that does not admit of further questioning.

    But regardless of which of these explanations works, if any, the point is that anyone who puts forward anything that we ought to care about is going to face a similar problem--this includes even spacekungfuman, at least if he construes his egoist position as the claim that everyone ought to care about their own well-being; if so, then φ is just "your personal welfare." Anyone who isn't a nihilist is going to have to face the task of giving an explanation which, at some point, comes to an end.

    Exactly. I'm perfectly fine with that. But the positions here seem to veer from intentionalist to consequentialist to experience-based. I'm asking for clarification on which it is exactly so we can run with it and see whether it's a good position.

    Like:
    consciously inflicting pain on other living things without their consent to be a moral wrong.
    This is pretty much about the intention being wrong.
    We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad!
    this however seems to say pain itself is a moral wrong. screw intention or reasons.

    My issue is not that the explanation ends, but rather why it ends. Does it end on the experience being bad? Or the action? Or the consequences?

    ----
    Yep, you're still misreading the argument.

    The experience of pain is not a moral wrong, but it is a bad thing that pretty universally all living organisms that can sense pain seek to avoid.

    This makes consciously inflicting pain on other living things without their consent to be a moral wrong.

    Well....a) I was talking to TychoCHeluss and he said it was okay if it was to help the living thing, so that can not possibly be the argument. Also, you're now saying that saving an infant in surgery is a moral wrong.
    b) he is very explicit in pain itself being a moral wrong. Getting happiness from pain, even if self-inflicted (thus consensual) is good, but the pain itself is still wrong.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Bad can in context be translated as 'not-good'. Given that the topic is ethics, I take it as to mean morally not-good. My experiences of pain are, I think, not of very much importance since I don't base my ethics on personal feeling. So skipping lightly over that, we come to the point that pain is a morally wrong thing.
    It's not basing ethics on "personal feeling" to say that pain is bad. If ONLY YOU felt pain to be bad, it would be, but EVERYONE feels pain to be bad. If you can provide a solipsistic challenge to the idea that EVERYONE feels the sort of pain that I feel, then I will retract all of my conclusions. That's crazy, though, because everyone feels the same pain and pain is bad to everyone.
    It being based on everyone's "personal feelings" doesn't change that it's based on personal feeling. Everyone could feel that homosexuality is wrong yet it wouldn't make it wrong. Everyone could feel that slavery isn't wrong but that wouldn't make it true.

    Julius wrote: »
    So you've stated that pain is a morally wrong thing. Cool. You haven't explained yet why it is, other than saying it's self-evident, but cool. To what extent does this apply? Is it always? I assume so, since you've stated that it is still wrong when lions do it or when having surgery.

    I don't think pain is inherently anything other than pain. Utilitarianism usually argues that causing pain is bad because it reduces happiness, not because it's inherently morally wrong itself. Some people have gone that route, but you end up with negative utilitarianism and then you're just advocating the extinction of the entirety of life. So better avoid that.

    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?
    What is morality? Morality is about what we ought to do. We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad! If you don't think pain is bad, then maybe you can stab yourself with a fork until you get the picture!

    So yes, it is your base axiom. Then I reject it. I think intentionally causing pain to a living thing without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain is a bad thing.

    *As @MrMister points out, if I'm a Humean, I ultimately do care what you care about, because reasons bottom out in desires, but that is, I think, a few levels above where the discussion is at this point. I don't really care that you're an egoist at least, because I think egoism about morality is obviously wrong.
    I don't care that you're an egoist either.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Mortious wrote: »
    Self-defense is fine! But imagine you have two options for self-defense against an attacker. Option 1 is to stab him in the stomach. It will be incredibly painful and for the next few months he is in agony, but he's still going to be entirely unrepentant (let's say he's mentally ill, so he really doesn't learn anything from his mistakes). Option 2 is to use your magic knockout machine to neutralize him painlessly. You are just as safe and he learns just as much (that is, nothing).

    Which option is better? Anyone with a functioning conscience and any ability to feel empathy will say "obviously choose option 2, it's just as good for me and less painful for this poor madman." Pain is bad and we should avoid it when we can.

    Option 2 is better, but has anybody argued anything different?

    I apologise if I've been misreading your arguments, but using the example of yours above:
    Your attacker is going to infect you with AIDS, you only have a knife.
    Your options are:
    1 - cause him pain, and maybe not get AIDS.
    2 - not cause him pain and maybe get AIDS, which is not painful (for the purpose of this discussion)

    My interpretation of your argument is take (2), whereas I will take (1).

    i.e. Cause unintentional pain to a rat, which you try to minimize, while trying to cure AIDS. If we have a "magic knockout machine" version for tests, use that instead, sure.

    I'm really hoping that we can get computer modelling up to a level of our "magic knockout machine".
    If AIDS literally caused no pain and also didn't make people die, then yes, I would choose option 2. Self-defense is a bad analogy for animal experimentation, though, because in self-defense cases the attacker is doing something wrong by attacking you, whereas in animal experimentation, the animals have done nothing wrong. Here is a better analogy: you're going to get AIDS. There's only one solution: torture an orphaned baby. This actually only has a 50% chance of stopping the AIDS, but that's a pretty good chance.

    Most people would probably say "torturing the baby is wrong" or at the very least "torturing the baby is not obviously the right choice and if you torture the baby you had better have a pretty good reason for doing your choice that isn't just 'I gotta look out for #1'." Non-human animal experimentation is like this except instead of babies we use rats. Can we justify using rats instead of babies? I argue that we cannot. There is no good line to be drawn that is not arbitrary and based on blind unthinking prejudice.
    Julius wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    it being written in a book isn't good support for a moral argument, but generally there are at least arguments as to why something is wrong. ("The Lord doesn't want you to" may not be a reasoning I buy, but it is at least a reasoning.)

    Any moral system is going to be confronted with the same question. Schematically: for any φ that is ostensibly morally required we can ask why we ought to bother caring about φ, and when further reasons are given we can ask why we ought to care about them, and when further reasons are given we can ask why we... etc.

    There are different ways to try to stop the line of questioning. Humeans try to bottom it out in desire--you want to φ. Kantians try to bottom it out in some form of practical contradiction--not-φing is self-contradictory. Rationalists appeal to an independent order of facts--that φ is required is simply true. Virtue ethicists appeal to human nature--human nature is such that the good human φs. Proponents of each of these theories hope that they can thus explain why φ is required in a final way, one that does not admit of further questioning.

    But regardless of which of these explanations works, if any, the point is that anyone who puts forward anything that we ought to care about is going to face a similar problem--this includes even spacekungfuman, at least if he construes his egoist position as the claim that everyone ought to care about their own well-being; if so, then φ is just "your personal welfare." Anyone who isn't a nihilist is going to have to face the task of giving an explanation which, at some point, comes to an end.

    Exactly. I'm perfectly fine with that. But the positions here seem to veer from intentionalist to consequentialist to experience-based. I'm asking for clarification on which it is exactly so we can run with it and see whether it's a good position.

    Like:
    consciously inflicting pain on other living things without their consent to be a moral wrong.
    This is pretty much about the intention being wrong.
    We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad!
    this however seems to say pain itself is a moral wrong. screw intention or reasons.

    My issue is not that the explanation ends, but rather why it ends. Does it end on the experience being bad? Or the action? Or the consequences?

    ----
    Yep, you're still misreading the argument.

    The experience of pain is not a moral wrong, but it is a bad thing that pretty universally all living organisms that can sense pain seek to avoid.

    This makes consciously inflicting pain on other living things without their consent to be a moral wrong.

    Well....a) I was talking to TychoCHeluss and he said it was okay if it was to help the living thing, so that can not possibly be the argument. Also, you're now saying that saving an infant in surgery is a moral wrong.
    b) he is very explicit in pain itself being a moral wrong. Getting happiness from pain, even if self-inflicted (thus consensual) is good, but the pain itself is still wrong.
    Think about two kinds of wrong. Prima facie wrong and all things considered wrong. Prima facie wrong means "wrong unless other things outweigh it." Poking someone in the eye is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain. All things considered wrong means "wrong no matter what." Poking someone in the eye purely for fun when there will be no beneficial consequences and the person will suffer severe eye trauma is all things considered wrong, because it causes them pain and there's no other reason to do it.

    Infant surgery is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain but all things considered not wrong because it has a very good aim: saving them from further pain or from death, which many consider to be worse than pain. Infant surgery to save SOMEONE ELSE (taking an infant's heart and giving it to yourself so that you can have a nice shiny new heart) is much harder to justify: it's prima facie wrong to cause that infant pain, and all things considered it might still be wrong to take a babie's heart for yourself.

    I think non-human animals are similarly situated to babies. It's not OBVIOUSLY wrong to experiment on them, but if you think it's all things considered wrong to use babies for medical experiments then you should think it's obviously wrong to use rats.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Bad can in context be translated as 'not-good'. Given that the topic is ethics, I take it as to mean morally not-good. My experiences of pain are, I think, not of very much importance since I don't base my ethics on personal feeling. So skipping lightly over that, we come to the point that pain is a morally wrong thing.
    It's not basing ethics on "personal feeling" to say that pain is bad. If ONLY YOU felt pain to be bad, it would be, but EVERYONE feels pain to be bad. If you can provide a solipsistic challenge to the idea that EVERYONE feels the sort of pain that I feel, then I will retract all of my conclusions. That's crazy, though, because everyone feels the same pain and pain is bad to everyone.
    It being based on everyone's "personal feelings" doesn't change that it's based on personal feeling. Everyone could feel that homosexuality is wrong yet it wouldn't make it wrong. Everyone could feel that slavery isn't wrong but that wouldn't make it true.

    Julius wrote: »
    So you've stated that pain is a morally wrong thing. Cool. You haven't explained yet why it is, other than saying it's self-evident, but cool. To what extent does this apply? Is it always? I assume so, since you've stated that it is still wrong when lions do it or when having surgery.

    I don't think pain is inherently anything other than pain. Utilitarianism usually argues that causing pain is bad because it reduces happiness, not because it's inherently morally wrong itself. Some people have gone that route, but you end up with negative utilitarianism and then you're just advocating the extinction of the entirety of life. So better avoid that.

    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?
    What is morality? Morality is about what we ought to do. We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad! If you don't think pain is bad, then maybe you can stab yourself with a fork until you get the picture!

    So yes, it is your base axiom. Then I reject it. I think intentionally causing pain to a living thing without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain is a bad thing.
    Why in the world is causing pain without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain a bad thing if pain isn't bad? What other justification are you using? I think I just want to use that justification because you don't like mine.

  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Self-defense is fine! But imagine you have two options for self-defense against an attacker. Option 1 is to stab him in the stomach. It will be incredibly painful and for the next few months he is in agony, but he's still going to be entirely unrepentant (let's say he's mentally ill, so he really doesn't learn anything from his mistakes). Option 2 is to use your magic knockout machine to neutralize him painlessly. You are just as safe and he learns just as much (that is, nothing).

    Which option is better? Anyone with a functioning conscience and any ability to feel empathy will say "obviously choose option 2, it's just as good for me and less painful for this poor madman." Pain is bad and we should avoid it when we can.

    Option 2 is better, but has anybody argued anything different?

    I apologise if I've been misreading your arguments, but using the example of yours above:
    Your attacker is going to infect you with AIDS, you only have a knife.
    Your options are:
    1 - cause him pain, and maybe not get AIDS.
    2 - not cause him pain and maybe get AIDS, which is not painful (for the purpose of this discussion)

    My interpretation of your argument is take (2), whereas I will take (1).

    i.e. Cause unintentional pain to a rat, which you try to minimize, while trying to cure AIDS. If we have a "magic knockout machine" version for tests, use that instead, sure.

    I'm really hoping that we can get computer modelling up to a level of our "magic knockout machine".
    If AIDS literally caused no pain and also didn't make people die, then yes, I would choose option 2. Self-defense is a bad analogy for animal experimentation, though, because in self-defense cases the attacker is doing something wrong by attacking you, whereas in animal experimentation, the animals have done nothing wrong. Here is a better analogy: you're going to get AIDS. There's only one solution: torture an orphaned baby. This actually only has a 50% chance of stopping the AIDS, but that's a pretty good chance.

    Most people would probably say "torturing the baby is wrong" or at the very least "torturing the baby is not obviously the right choice and if you torture the baby you had better have a pretty good reason for doing your choice that isn't just 'I gotta look out for #1'." Non-human animal experimentation is like this except instead of babies we use rats. Can we justify using rats instead of babies? I argue that we cannot. There is no good line to be drawn that is not arbitrary and based on blind unthinking prejudice.

    True, it wasn't the best example. But it was handy.

    Also, my example wasn't that AIDS didn't cause you to die, just that it caused no pain doing so.

    Let's go with your baby example then.

    The cure for AIDS is baby bone marrow. This can be extracted without casing any permanent damage to the baby's development (just removing any variables except for pain here).

    Can't use a full anesthetic because Science!, and this will cause the baby some pain.

    I'd do it. The baby has some temporary pain, which is mitigated however possible, and people gets saved.

    Also, I would put forth that the line between animals and humans might be thinking prejudice. :P

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Okay, if you're fine with using babies like that, then you should be fine with using non-human animals like that in scientific testing. Often we go beyond that, I think, to the point where we give the non-human animals cancer or diabetes or other extremely painful ailments, which you would probably not want to do to babies, so we should stop using non-human animals for those tests.

  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    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).

    Note, I said 'similar to' in that you've claimed that there are two bad things in 'the world', which are those feelings limited to your own inner domain. I mean, yes, technically you exist in the world, but your pain isn't really experienced by the world. If only your pain is bad, it seems to suggest that the pain of others doesn't come into consideration, unless it also makes you feel bad. This seems to be denying the tangibility of others pain in some weird way.

    You mention that seeing your own pain as bad is what enables us to exist as a society, you don't believe that anyone sees others pain as bad, only their own? That seems like something difficult to prove on your part.
    Well, we won't accept your future if (1) we have reason to fear that we could one day fall into the other 49.99% or (2) it is so appalling to the 50.01% don't want to do it. I think that (2) is a very compelling reason why we would not do so.

    I think my stance on drugs is completely consistent with what I'm saying here. I don't value the pleasure people obtain from them and so don't want anyone to use them, including myself for a number of reasons, one of which is the "harm" of being inconvienced by users. I don't fear being subject to similiar restrictions (I'd be fine with alcohol being banned) and my empathy does not make me feel bad for those who can't use them because of the ban.

    I think the implication is that in V1m's scenario, you don't have reason to fear falling into the other half. Why would you find it appalling at this point, if you're only concerned about your own pain? You're in the group that's benefiting from the pain of the others.

    In terms of drugs, the inconvenience you mention, how does this override the pleasure experience of others? I can't imagine you actually being significantly inconvenienced, so why should others, under your own logic surrounding pain, care about what you feel?

    Lucid on
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Oh I'm definitely fine with using animals in scientific testing. As long as there's a purpose, and we try our best to not do anything excessive.

    Cost/Benefit, with humans getting a heavier weighting on the Benefit side.

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  • DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    Tycho I think you are entirely confused on my position.

    I think your body telling you something is wrong through pain is a good thing. Because I dont want to be walking around with a broken limb doing further damage to myself.

    Inflicting pain and suffering on others is the bad thing, not the pain.

    What your doing in my mind is blaming the victim for feeling pain. Pain is the response to bad things, it is not THE bad thing.

    I am not saying pain feels good, or people in general desire pain. I'm saying we shouldn't be looking to permanently try to cure the feeling of pain because being able to feel pain is a good thing. Are you saying we should be trying to cure the feeling of pain because pain is bad? We should cure bad things right?

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Oh I'm definitely fine with using animals in scientific testing. As long as there's a purpose, and we try our best to not do anything excessive.

    Cost/Benefit, with humans getting a heavier weighting on the Benefit side.
    Well, no, that's not okay, any more than giving white people heavier weighting on the benefit side is okay.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Bad can in context be translated as 'not-good'. Given that the topic is ethics, I take it as to mean morally not-good. My experiences of pain are, I think, not of very much importance since I don't base my ethics on personal feeling. So skipping lightly over that, we come to the point that pain is a morally wrong thing.
    It's not basing ethics on "personal feeling" to say that pain is bad. If ONLY YOU felt pain to be bad, it would be, but EVERYONE feels pain to be bad. If you can provide a solipsistic challenge to the idea that EVERYONE feels the sort of pain that I feel, then I will retract all of my conclusions. That's crazy, though, because everyone feels the same pain and pain is bad to everyone.
    It being based on everyone's "personal feelings" doesn't change that it's based on personal feeling. Everyone could feel that homosexuality is wrong yet it wouldn't make it wrong. Everyone could feel that slavery isn't wrong but that wouldn't make it true.

    Julius wrote: »
    So you've stated that pain is a morally wrong thing. Cool. You haven't explained yet why it is, other than saying it's self-evident, but cool. To what extent does this apply? Is it always? I assume so, since you've stated that it is still wrong when lions do it or when having surgery.

    I don't think pain is inherently anything other than pain. Utilitarianism usually argues that causing pain is bad because it reduces happiness, not because it's inherently morally wrong itself. Some people have gone that route, but you end up with negative utilitarianism and then you're just advocating the extinction of the entirety of life. So better avoid that.

    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?
    What is morality? Morality is about what we ought to do. We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad! If you don't think pain is bad, then maybe you can stab yourself with a fork until you get the picture!

    So yes, it is your base axiom. Then I reject it. I think intentionally causing pain to a living thing without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain is a bad thing.
    Why in the world is causing pain without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain a bad thing if pain isn't bad? What other justification are you using? I think I just want to use that justification because you don't like mine.


    Well it first bases the wrongness of an action in it's intent. I think morality is based in actions, human actions that is, intentional actions. (This means that accidentally hurting someone is not wrong, you have to want it.) Because I think morality pertains to humans and what they do. A tsunami might kill and hurt a lot of people, but you can't really call it immoral. We should prevent harm to others, but that is an action.

    Second, it gives a context to the utility of an action. Causing pain to prevent greater pain (like shooting someone to prevent them shooting others) is moral. It calls upon the faculties that allow us to reason to promote the moral good, rather than putting moral good/wrong into another part of our experience.



    I think you're not really defining the line between bad and morally wrong. Morally wrong can only ever apply to humans, even if bad things happen despite humans. Someone can die from cancer and it's bad, but it's not morally wrong because a moral wrong is an action by a human being.

    Interestingly, you can still use this line of reasoning to be against animal experiments. It does not discount animal pain as irrelevant, merely says that it needs to be weighed against other things.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Julius wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Bad can in context be translated as 'not-good'. Given that the topic is ethics, I take it as to mean morally not-good. My experiences of pain are, I think, not of very much importance since I don't base my ethics on personal feeling. So skipping lightly over that, we come to the point that pain is a morally wrong thing.
    It's not basing ethics on "personal feeling" to say that pain is bad. If ONLY YOU felt pain to be bad, it would be, but EVERYONE feels pain to be bad. If you can provide a solipsistic challenge to the idea that EVERYONE feels the sort of pain that I feel, then I will retract all of my conclusions. That's crazy, though, because everyone feels the same pain and pain is bad to everyone.
    It being based on everyone's "personal feelings" doesn't change that it's based on personal feeling. Everyone could feel that homosexuality is wrong yet it wouldn't make it wrong. Everyone could feel that slavery isn't wrong but that wouldn't make it true.

    Julius wrote: »
    So you've stated that pain is a morally wrong thing. Cool. You haven't explained yet why it is, other than saying it's self-evident, but cool. To what extent does this apply? Is it always? I assume so, since you've stated that it is still wrong when lions do it or when having surgery.

    I don't think pain is inherently anything other than pain. Utilitarianism usually argues that causing pain is bad because it reduces happiness, not because it's inherently morally wrong itself. Some people have gone that route, but you end up with negative utilitarianism and then you're just advocating the extinction of the entirety of life. So better avoid that.

    So anyway, the experience of pain is a moral wrong. What do you use to justify this? Or is it your base axiom that one must either accept or reject?
    What is morality? Morality is about what we ought to do. We ought to, among other things, reduce pain if we can. Why? Because pain is bad! If you don't think pain is bad, then maybe you can stab yourself with a fork until you get the picture!

    So yes, it is your base axiom. Then I reject it. I think intentionally causing pain to a living thing without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain is a bad thing.
    Why in the world is causing pain without consent for the sole purpose of causing pain a bad thing if pain isn't bad? What other justification are you using? I think I just want to use that justification because you don't like mine.


    Well it first bases the wrongness of an action in it's intent. I think morality is based in actions, human actions that is, intentional actions. (This means that accidentally hurting someone is not wrong, you have to want it.) Because I think morality pertains to humans and what they do. A tsunami might kill and hurt a lot of people, but you can't really call it immoral. We should prevent harm to others, but that is an action.

    Second, it gives a context to the utility of an action. Causing pain to prevent greater pain (like shooting someone to prevent them shooting others) is moral. It calls upon the faculties that allow us to reason to promote the moral good, rather than putting moral good/wrong into another part of our experience.



    I think you're not really defining the line between bad and morally wrong. Morally wrong can only ever apply to humans, even if bad things happen despite humans. Someone can die from cancer and it's bad, but it's not morally wrong because a moral wrong is an action by a human being.

    Interestingly, you can still use this line of reasoning to be against animal experiments. It does not discount animal pain as irrelevant, merely says that it needs to be weighed against other things.
    If wrongness is based on intent, intent to do what? What is it wrong to intend to do, and why is it wrong to intend to do it? Why is it wrong to intend to cause pain and not wrong to intend to cause cupcakes?

    edit: I am also not conflating bad and morally wrong. I am saying it is morally wrong to do something bad.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Oh I'm definitely fine with using animals in scientific testing. As long as there's a purpose, and we try our best to not do anything excessive.

    Cost/Benefit, with humans getting a heavier weighting on the Benefit side.
    Well, no, that's not okay, any more than giving white people heavier weighting on the benefit side is okay.

    Giving white people a heavier weighting on the benefit side in a study using black people is absolutely okay. As long as a study is scientifically valid, it can be as racist as it wants to be. People will just look to other studies for a better understanding of minority groups.

    That's why grants exist for underserved communities. It doesn't mean that we need to pull at all away from research catered to the most well off of the population, and I think you'll find that the progress of science has a way of evening out knowledge disparities.

    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.
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Oh I'm definitely fine with using animals in scientific testing. As long as there's a purpose, and we try our best to not do anything excessive.

    Cost/Benefit, with humans getting a heavier weighting on the Benefit side.
    Well, no, that's not okay, any more than giving white people heavier weighting on the benefit side is okay.

    See, I don't agree with the animals are equal to humans thing. Feeling pain is not the end all/be all of considerations.

    I also don't agree with equating it with racism, because it's not really (imo). Otherwise using horses as beasts of burden must be stopped, by war if necessary!

    I agree that we need to reduce the harm we do to animals (and the harm we do to humans for that matter)

    However, if I have to choose between an unknown cow and an unknown human life, I'll pick human everytime. And yes, a lot of time it's a choice between the two. Kill some rats and cure cancer, or let people die of cancer.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Think about two kinds of wrong. Prima facie wrong and all things considered wrong. Prima facie wrong means "wrong unless other things outweigh it." Poking someone in the eye is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain. All things considered wrong means "wrong no matter what." Poking someone in the eye purely for fun when there will be no beneficial consequences and the person will suffer severe eye trauma is all things considered wrong, because it causes them pain and there's no other reason to do it.

    Infant surgery is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain but all things considered not wrong because it has a very good aim: saving them from further pain or from death, which many consider to be worse than pain. Infant surgery to save SOMEONE ELSE (taking an infant's heart and giving it to yourself so that you can have a nice shiny new heart) is much harder to justify: it's prima facie wrong to cause that infant pain, and all things considered it might still be wrong to take a babie's heart for yourself.

    I think non-human animals are similarly situated to babies. It's not OBVIOUSLY wrong to experiment on them, but if you think it's all things considered wrong to use babies for medical experiments then you should think it's obviously wrong to use rats.

    Yeah but this is ethics where we only consider the latter kind of wrong. prima facie wrongs are merely a good summary of rules, to know whether something is actually morally wrong you must consider all things (or all things that you deem important).

    Thing is, you're going with the only thing needed to be considered is personal harm and consent. I think there are a lot of other considerations that can be made.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Mortious wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Oh I'm definitely fine with using animals in scientific testing. As long as there's a purpose, and we try our best to not do anything excessive.

    Cost/Benefit, with humans getting a heavier weighting on the Benefit side.
    Well, no, that's not okay, any more than giving white people heavier weighting on the benefit side is okay.

    See, I don't agree with the animals are equal to humans thing. Feeling pain is not the end all/be all of considerations.

    I also don't agree with equating it with racism, because it's not really (imo). Otherwise using horses as beasts of burden must be stopped, by war if necessary!

    I agree that we need to reduce the harm we do to animals (and the harm we do to humans for that matter)

    However, if I have to choose between an unknown cow and an unknown human life, I'll pick human everytime. And yes, a lot of time it's a choice between the two. Kill some rats and cure cancer, or let people die of cancer.
    Yes! We should probably stop using horses as beasts of burden! We should use cars instead! I know this sounds wacky, but it sounded wacky as fuck to say "we should stop using slaves to pick our cotton." I mean, who the fuck is going to pick the cotton if not the slaves? Let's go back in time! Do you honestly realize how many slaves there are and how much of our economy relies on slaves? I agree we need to reduce harm to slaves (and the harm we do to animals for that matter). However, if I have to choose between an unknown white person and and unknown black person, I'll pick white every time. And yes, a lot of times it's a choice between the two. Infect some black people with syphilis in the Tuskegee experiment, or let white people die of syphilis.
    Julius wrote: »
    Think about two kinds of wrong. Prima facie wrong and all things considered wrong. Prima facie wrong means "wrong unless other things outweigh it." Poking someone in the eye is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain. All things considered wrong means "wrong no matter what." Poking someone in the eye purely for fun when there will be no beneficial consequences and the person will suffer severe eye trauma is all things considered wrong, because it causes them pain and there's no other reason to do it.

    Infant surgery is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain but all things considered not wrong because it has a very good aim: saving them from further pain or from death, which many consider to be worse than pain. Infant surgery to save SOMEONE ELSE (taking an infant's heart and giving it to yourself so that you can have a nice shiny new heart) is much harder to justify: it's prima facie wrong to cause that infant pain, and all things considered it might still be wrong to take a babie's heart for yourself.

    I think non-human animals are similarly situated to babies. It's not OBVIOUSLY wrong to experiment on them, but if you think it's all things considered wrong to use babies for medical experiments then you should think it's obviously wrong to use rats.

    Yeah but this is ethics where we only consider the latter kind of wrong. prima facie wrongs are merely a good summary of rules, to know whether something is actually morally wrong you must consider all things (or all things that you deem important).

    Thing is, you're going with the only thing needed to be considered is personal harm and consent. I think there are a lot of other considerations that can be made.
    Yes, lots of other considerations, blah blah blah etc. Which of these count in favor of using non-human animals for medical experiments that we wouldn't use humans in? I want to argue that these reasons do not withstand scrutiny.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Oh I'm definitely fine with using animals in scientific testing. As long as there's a purpose, and we try our best to not do anything excessive.

    Cost/Benefit, with humans getting a heavier weighting on the Benefit side.
    Well, no, that's not okay, any more than giving white people heavier weighting on the benefit side is okay.

    See, I don't agree with the animals are equal to humans thing. Feeling pain is not the end all/be all of considerations.

    I also don't agree with equating it with racism, because it's not really (imo). Otherwise using horses as beasts of burden must be stopped, by war if necessary!

    I agree that we need to reduce the harm we do to animals (and the harm we do to humans for that matter)

    However, if I have to choose between an unknown cow and an unknown human life, I'll pick human everytime. And yes, a lot of time it's a choice between the two. Kill some rats and cure cancer, or let people die of cancer.
    Yes! We should probably stop using horses as beasts of burden! We should use cars instead! I know this sounds wacky, but it sounded wacky as fuck to say "we should stop using slaves to pick our cotton." I mean, who the fuck is going to pick the cotton if not the slaves? Let's go back in time! Do you honestly realize how many slaves there are and how much of our economy relies on slaves? I agree we need to reduce harm to slaves (and the harm we do to animals for that matter). However, if I have to choose between an unknown white person and and unknown black person, I'll pick white every time. And yes, a lot of times it's a choice between the two. Infect some black people with syphilis in the Tuskegee experiment, or let white people die of syphilis.
    Julius wrote: »
    Think about two kinds of wrong. Prima facie wrong and all things considered wrong. Prima facie wrong means "wrong unless other things outweigh it." Poking someone in the eye is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain. All things considered wrong means "wrong no matter what." Poking someone in the eye purely for fun when there will be no beneficial consequences and the person will suffer severe eye trauma is all things considered wrong, because it causes them pain and there's no other reason to do it.

    Infant surgery is prima facie wrong because it causes them pain but all things considered not wrong because it has a very good aim: saving them from further pain or from death, which many consider to be worse than pain. Infant surgery to save SOMEONE ELSE (taking an infant's heart and giving it to yourself so that you can have a nice shiny new heart) is much harder to justify: it's prima facie wrong to cause that infant pain, and all things considered it might still be wrong to take a babie's heart for yourself.

    I think non-human animals are similarly situated to babies. It's not OBVIOUSLY wrong to experiment on them, but if you think it's all things considered wrong to use babies for medical experiments then you should think it's obviously wrong to use rats.

    Yeah but this is ethics where we only consider the latter kind of wrong. prima facie wrongs are merely a good summary of rules, to know whether something is actually morally wrong you must consider all things (or all things that you deem important).

    Thing is, you're going with the only thing needed to be considered is personal harm and consent. I think there are a lot of other considerations that can be made.
    Yes, lots of other considerations, blah blah blah etc. Which of these count in favor of using non-human animals for medical experiments that we wouldn't use humans in? I want to argue that these reasons do not withstand scrutiny.

    The greater good.

    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.
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