Friday, 16 March 2012

We are all victims

We were all born, causing us great harm*.
We will all die, causing us great harm if our future utility would have been positive and we did not wish to die - a great harm for most of us.
We can't stop being hurt, and we can't stop hurting others (except by not breeding).

But let's reverse things a little:
We were a all born, and that means almost all of us have experienced pleasure.
We will all die, but that might be okay because life is a 'gift' and we experienced pleasure along the way (?).
Most of us can't stop feeling pleasure, and it's hard to stop causing others pleasure (except by murdering them).

So is life generally a good thing then? Should it continue throughout the aeons, while we traverse the universe in optimistic ignorance of the oncoming heat death (or big crunch)?

The problem ultimately with this view is that it neglects the actual non-logically contradicting desires of human beings in favour of a belief system. The second paragraph there, was an example of such a belief system: ignore harm despite how humans feel no compulsion to make others happy, but feel a compulsion not to make others suffer (in non-conflicting instances**) and downplay the inconceivable existential horror of death and the rights of others not to experience such horrors. Pleasure is a good thing. This is why death is a bad thing for a lot of people besides causing suffering - it results in the ending of pleasure, turning positive utility to zero in moments. But a pleasure-based outlook on life simply does not work. You can't throw people to the lions to provide happiness (entertainment), because almost everyone finds that morally wrong - even if the happiness caused is greater than the suffering caused. You can't just say "I accept this because, uh, logic says so". Because logic doesn't say so. Morality is based on the collective will of the human race. That is not what we want.

Life, is not exactly not worth living for everyone. But it is clearly, CLEARLY against the collective morality of the human race. We do not want to cause harm, hence antinatalism. We do not wish to cause harm, hence living makes us uncomfortable if we take time to think about everyone we have hurt. We do not wish to come to harm, yet we will, and those of us who do not wish to stop living, will cease to move. Life is a not a good deal for us.

A world full of Unbreakables***, however, would be, well, okay. No suffering, a lot of pleasure, maybe high-tech hallucinogens in the mix to provide meaning to the world. It would be better than okay, actually. It would probably be great. Would harm still be done to those being born? Nope. That's my answer, after a buttload of thinking. You see, in my post on consent, I realised that since real-life consent never occurs without suffering (even if that suffering is only 'I do not want' accompanied by a feeling), consent is only an indicator of harm, and its breaking does not always constitute a harm by itself in hypothetical situations. Hence, Unbreakable is fine to create. (EXCEPT EXCEPT EXCEPT EXCEPT, Unbreakable will eventually die. And her positive utility will therefore decrease to zero. Is this a harm? No duty to cause happiness, so no duty to continue happiness, so no, it is not. Phew)

But quite obviously we do not live in such a world. And to wait for it to happen, as has been said by Jim in some post that I can't find, would be tremendous folly. Creating Unbreakable is not a good action. It is a neutral action, because we have no duty to increase the pleasure of others. And therefore, there is absolutely no reason not to stop this pointless, useless and most of all, painful game we play. The human race should be extinguished.****

*The extent your parents harmed you is equivalent to the sum-total of all your bad experiences. So if you have lived the happiest life ever, you have still been severely harmed.
**Mob violence and murder for pleasure and revenge go against this, but they are never the bare bones essence of our morality. People disagree with actions such as these, and hence the consensus is that these things are either wrong or contested (with revenge some people naturally turn the other cheek, some people think it is justice). Very few people disagree with not causing harm to others in general, so this IS the consensus, even if individuals may violate it.
***I am really scared that Diabasis will shut down soon due to the inactivity of its author. Hence, I shall post the main point now to this blog as a back-up: "[L]et us imagine a being — call her Unbreakable — who has an even better existence than One Pinprick. Unbreakable isn’t human, although she looks human and has human-ish goals. Unbreakable is capable of feeling things and has a utility function based on what she feels, but she doesn’t feel pain. Instead what she has is a pleasure gradient. When things go well (in terms her own goals) she feels ecstasy. When things go badly, say when she’s damaged in some way or her pursuit of her goals is frustrated, her enjoyment declines to something much more mild. Correctly tuned up, she works as hard to avoid damage and frustration as human beings do, but her hedonic experiences in doing so are vastly different.
Would it be wrong to bring Unbreakable into existence? (In our mad science lab, perhaps?) I very much doubt it."
****Not against consent, however. In this case consent is a marker for real loss of utility - the positive utility of some people living, and if they know about it, the suffering caused when they realise they will die and the human race will die.


  1. Pleasure is only attainable through the suffering of others, either directly or indirectly. That in and of itself is sufficient justification for damning the species.

  2. Yeah think I agree with that quite a bit Karl, especially since everything is so causally linked.