Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Happy Ending: What Do We Do As the Credits Roll?

It is 2136. Every person currently alive has the nanotechnology and genetic enhancements to realise the ultimate truth: the advent of the complete eradication of suffering is not worth waiting for, and every conception is morally wrong as a result of the continued (though far less) suffering of people that are born. As a vote commences, the World Government announces on every TV and every television feed plugged directly into viewers' brains that every single person, 100% of people living, has decided unanimously that bringing children into a meaningless, painful world is a sin. However, the last child born in the world, inquisitive as they are, asks 'What do we do now?'


   Yes this is wishful thinking. But if it does happen (a big 'if' there), what would we say to that child? The problem I have is that the antinatalists I have asked do not seem to have thought this far - they believe that humans should simply live out the rest of their days, committing suicide as they please or indulging in the last remaining pleasures. But, inspired by the work of David Pearce, even if he is not strictly an antinatalist, I believe that we still have more work to do (Gary Inmendham may have talked about this - I do not know). Why is it that we are so focussed on humans? Can animals not suffer? Some even have rudimentary memes - are they not worthy of our help? The main problem is, however, that no animal can adopt an antinatalist viewpoint or understand our arguments other than, I believe, humans. So strictly speaking, we would have to act without their consent. But still, I think the ends would justify the means here; wiping out every living thing on this planet, to make sure nothing ever evolves to suffer again is surely a noble cause, is it not? I know that the issue of consent is quite a tough one here, but I really don't understand what other way we could have of stopping this endless cycle of birth and suffering and death on this world. But I would like to hear any alternative theories you may have on what we must do.

7 comments:

  1. What really is the relevance of antinatalism to this topic though? Antinatalism is an ethical position about procreation, not a position about how humanity should be extinguished (for extinguished it will be someday, whether we like it or not). We can have all sorts of schools of thought on what should or what should not be done. Either way, they are all going to be hypotheticals unless antinatalism becomes more popular and influential. So why divide each other on what is currently an irrelevant issue? I have also made that point about the "big red button" hypothetical.

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  2. The thing is, antinatalism being adopted by the vast majority of humanity will ultimately lead to our extinction - and I assume here that any antinatalist should be for the world adopting this position, as this means fewer immoral acts being committed. I also assume that any antinatalist will ultimately feel that other animals other than humans being born into a world of suffering is wrong. But I see what you mean by this potentially dividing us, so I won't really put too much emphasis on this in the future - I only really meant it as a little thought experiment to entertain others.

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  3. Well yes I agree with all these points. I'm just saying that antinatalism in itself doesn't really involve pragmatic arguments on how to end life. That is to say, you don't have to be able to formulate a foolproof plan for ending life in order to be an antinatalist, because antinatalism is an ethical issue about the creation of life. Likewise, you don't have to know anything about how the universe works to be an atheist (or a Christian for that matter, as IDers make blindingly obvious).

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  4. I think it is good to do some thinking around the fringes of ones believe, because it could turn up relevant new insights. The question if it would be good to wipe out all life, instead of just going extinct ourselves, is an interesting one.
    I guess if we sterilised all life, without killing anyone, that would be an easy case. We should to it. We would not have consent, but we also do not deem it necessary that those who are about to do another bad act give consent to it's prevention. We just prevent it (if possible, and the side-effects are acceptable). But the question wether the would-be-murderer consents to us preventing the murder is irrelevant, for example.
    It is also possible that animals do not even wish to have babies, but only have a sex-drive that happens to lead to baby-animals. But I don't know if that is really so.

    It might be more difficult to tell wether it would be good to actually kill off all live instantly.

    All the best,
    rob

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  5. Hmm, I just realised that the same argument could be made for forced sterilisation of humans ;-) Tricky! To compare it to this year-2136-scenario we would at least have to say that this sterilisation is painless/instantanious/etc, and does not involve dragging people to hospitals against their will or some other terrible nazi-stuff like that.
    But should we put sterilising drugs without side-effects into peoples drinkingwater? Would it matter if it affected everybody the same, i.e. would be fair, and not discriminating against some individual or group? Difficult.

    All the best,
    rob

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  6. Thanks for the comments rob, you beat me to the punch on this one - I just finished the post on involuntary sterilisation myself. And yeah, I see what you mean about the side-effects, which could be nasty. I think it's simply better to wait for when enough people are antinatalists and would consent to the sterilisation - or even sterilise themselves without all this authoritarian-style behaviour.

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  7. blatant nonsense

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