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Re: Striking a blow against the predatory guilds



My problem with this is twofold. My tgreat hanks if you read all the
way through.

One, moral relativism surely exists. One can claim that only one set
of morals applies to all humans everywhere throughout time, but the
fact is that people will always disagree and different cultures will
develop moral codes based on their immediate needs, not unchanging
abstract principles. Even though human psychology follows fairly
predictable parameters, our conclusions about ethical behavior are
ultimately very diverse. I, for example, value pain in some
circumstances - feeling fatigued (i.e. pain) after hard work but
taking it as a sign that I've done something worthwhile, for example,
or to teach me that certain phenomena are dangerous and should be
avoided, or hunger (i.e. pain) that underscores a meal and makes it
more delicious. It is an integral part of human experience and I would
strenuously resist if someone tried to force me to accept a treatment
that nullifies all unpleasant sensations.

Now, consider animal life in general. (Taking away the benefit of the
doubt for most critters, let's even say that only vertebrates can feel
pain.) If humans can have strongly differing opinions based on what is
essentially the same psychology, then animals, with their vastly more
diverse survival strategies, evolutionary histories, and hence
psychologies, could only be surmised to possess even more wildly
diverse ideas of ethics if they could somehow possess human-like
intelligence and communicate it to us. I'm pretty damn sure
hypercarnivorous lions would never evolve any widespread subjective
value of not wanting to eat meat, because that's a fundamental part of
their history, their physiology, and their very survival on this
planet. I'm pretty sure water buffalo would want to slaughter every
last lion on Earth if given the opportunity, because security for
their young takes top priority. Humans want sex - lots of sex - with
only rare exceptions, because it was a defining aspect of our
evolutionary biology; people don't want it taken away from them
wholesale for purported reasons of "it's better for you this way,"
which explains the release of sexual repression from prudity in our
own more recent history. The point is, these notions of morality come
from specific frames of reference, which are defined subjectively by
emotional dictates and objectively by survival pressures. Assuming
that the human frame of reference applies equally and absolutely to
animals that are profoundly *different* from humans in morphology and
psychology is monumentally arrogant.

Morality works for humans, and is indeed vitally important for humans,
because of group consensus/mutual agreement. If we can't ask other
animals to participate in a consesus or obtain their stated consent,
then we are making presumptions for them based on our bias, not
theirs, and when we do that to other humans we call it conceit. Sure,
reasonable measures should be taken when we introduce animals into the
setting of our own societies. Pets, zoo animals, and even livestock
are essentially "guests" in our realm, dependent on us for food and
shelter seeing as how they no longer exist in their natural
environment. Given that dependence, it's only fair that we not be
cruel to them. But outside of that? Let animals be free to do as they
evolved to do. If a bunch of super-advanced aliens came down and
started modifying us to suit their subjective preferences without
consulting us, we would, by default, find ouselves defending our own
traits, i.e. telling them to let us do as we evolved to do - which is
to simply be human.

Two, it's an entropic universe, dammit. Stuff breaks down over time;
you can't keep anything going forever. Also, it's a universe governed
by chaos, meaning that no implementation is ever free of unintended
consequences down the line. So, not only is pain a crucial survival
mechanism that exists precisely because it is effective at extending
lifespan and reducing the risk of oblivion, it is something that will
*re-evolve* just about as soon as human civilization goes down the
toilet and can no longer afford the resources to manage the vast
pacified herds of herbivores. Survival pressures are intense, and even
if you remove the genetic capability for pain from all organisms, the
physiological mechanisms that permit it to exist are still possible
and can still re-develop in some fashion from existing neural tissue.
Further, organisms that can't feel pain that are released into a real
world - where they'll walk on the leg they broke when they tripped,
fail to rest up when infected by parasites, and decide not to flee to
shelter from the no-longer-bitter cold of freezing rain, as examples,
will be at severe survival disadvantages. Such a course is
guaranteeing that these organisms will either die out immediately
after humanity can't baby them anymore,  or gradually succumb to
competitors without such disadvantages, provided there are any. In
other words, humans would be picking out organisms to die regarding
the herbivores just as much as with the carnivores.

And that leads us again to the annihilation of sensate life itself, in
order to prevent pain. In other words, we end up saying that we value
the positive aspects of life so much that we have to destroy life in
order to avoid its negative aspects. We find that we have to
obliterate the very experience of total being that includes joy in
order to preclude pain, because the slow decay of the universe cares
not a whit about our whims and will destroy without mercy that which
cannot perceive its rigors. This path is absurd, self-defeating, and
incredibly presumptuous. When your friend breaks their leg or, god
forbid, gets cancer, you don't put a bullet in their head so that they
can be released from mortal suffering. Only when pain truly exceeds
the ability of a person to work through and live with do we even begin
to contemplate such an option, and even then usually only if they
request it. Most animals work through most pain, so if we don't do it
for humans without hesitation, we damn well shouldn't do it for other
creatures who can't even tell us whether they agree with our
perspective.

And, of course, I would be remiss if I did not express humble awe and
trepidation at the very nature of the universe in witnessing the
visage of predators like tyrannosaurs and carnosaurs, beasts produced
by the same global flow of evolution as we ourselves ultimately were.
This goes beyond simple ethics; this drives at the fundament of how we
perceive, understand, relate to, and interact with the universe. The
universe is not a happy place free of unpleasantness, and utopian
visions to the contrary ignore the laws of thermodynamics. Predators
help us grasp this concept more intuitively, while at the same time
providing substrate for understanding how reality actually works when
free of arbitrary human whims. And that, to me, is of indescribable
importance as a person of science.

Yes, I've thought about this.