Author Topic: The morality of Thanos  (Read 6004 times)

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Online Noisy Rhysling

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2019, 05:22:34 PM »
"This is how the world ends, not with bang, but with a whimper."
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Online The Latinist

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #46 on: January 02, 2019, 06:37:22 PM »
I do not find your proposal, Daniel, significantly different from Thanos’ from an ethical perspective.  Your genocide is no less monstrous because you would allow the current generation to live out the remainder of their lives in despair; indeed, it may be more monstrous for that fact.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Captain Video

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #47 on: January 02, 2019, 06:38:58 PM »
I'm compelled to post one of my favorite Heinlein quotes

Quote
There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who
"love Nature" while deploring the "artificialities" with which
"Man has spoiled 'Nature.'" The obvious contradiction lies
in their choice of words, which imply that man and his artifacts
are not part of "Nature"--but beavers and their dams
are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie
absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by
beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams
erected by men (for the purpose of men) the "Naturist"
reveals his hatred of his own race --i.e. his own self-hatred.
   In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable;
they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an
emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most
they rate.
   As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H.
sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for
me I like being part of a race made of men women
--it strikes me as a fine arrangement and perfectly "natural."
   Believe it or not, there were "Naturists" who opposed the
first flight to old Earth's Moon as being "unnatural" and a
"despoiling of Nature."
“Don't explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to a virgin.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Offline bimble

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #48 on: January 02, 2019, 07:38:15 PM »
I do not find your proposal, Daniel, significantly different from Thanos’ from an ethical perspective.  Your genocide is no less monstrous because you would allow the current generation to live out the remainder of their lives in despair; indeed, it may be more monstrous for that fact.

In Thanos' case no more than a couple of dozen people knew what was at stake, meanwhile the rest of the universe had no idea what was coming. In Daniel's it's like the film 'Children of Men', (though presumably without the baby) - at least in premise... I haven't seen the film, but the only other example I could think of at this time of night were the Asgards from SG1.

Online daniel1948

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #49 on: January 02, 2019, 09:00:38 PM »
I do not find your proposal, Daniel, significantly different from Thanos’ from an ethical perspective.  Your genocide is no less monstrous because you would allow the current generation to live out the remainder of their lives in despair; indeed, it may be more monstrous for that fact.

I will accept your characterization of my proposal as monstrous, if you accept that the slaughter of billions of animals by the meat industry is at least as monstrous, if not more so. Humans justify their monstrous brutality with the myth of exceptionality. But humans can only justify their brutality by invoking the myth of a God who, as ultimate law-giver, gives us the right, or created the animals specifically so that we could abuse them so monstrously. Otherwise they must invoke the discredited notion that non-human animals do not suffer or have feelings.

Contrary to what some folks here seem to think, I do not hate humans or humanity. I merely recognize that we are a cancer, on a rapid road to killing our host. “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I don’t go quite that far. I don’t love the sinner, but I don’t hate him either. I merely recognize that the world would be better off without us, and I categorically reject the idea that because we have evolved self-awareness, we are somehow God’s gift to the universe, or that we have the right to run roughshod over all the Earth’s other creatures.

And to be clear, I do not consider myself to be any better than anyone else.

I do think it would be more humane to stop reproducing than to continue the present population explosion which will inevitably (IMO) end in a worldwide economic collapse, with riots, wars, gangs fighting for the last remaining food, and death by starvation for billions. I do not share the belief of some here that technology can keep up with exponential population growth and distribute our numbers to other worlds.
Daniel
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Online daniel1948

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #50 on: January 02, 2019, 09:08:31 PM »
P.S. I do not understand why some folks think that ending reproduction would lead to despair. Right now, in the real world, countless people are living and dying in despair because they lack sufficient food, because, humans being what we are, the people in charge (and the people who elect them) refuse to allow an equitable distribution of the world’s resources. I cannot imagine that my proposal would lead to greater suffering than exists in the world today.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline mindme

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #51 on: January 03, 2019, 08:58:44 AM »
P.S. I do not understand why some folks think that ending reproduction would lead to despair. Right now, in the real world, countless people are living and dying in despair because they lack sufficient food, because, humans being what we are, the people in charge (and the people who elect them) refuse to allow an equitable distribution of the world’s resources. I cannot imagine that my proposal would lead to greater suffering than exists in the world today.

I know a movie is just a movie but it scares me. There might be something deep in our brain that makes us freak out we can't continue the species. It's pure speculation, however.
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Online daniel1948

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #52 on: January 03, 2019, 09:21:03 AM »
P.S. I do not understand why some folks think that ending reproduction would lead to despair. Right now, in the real world, countless people are living and dying in despair because they lack sufficient food, because, humans being what we are, the people in charge (and the people who elect them) refuse to allow an equitable distribution of the world’s resources. I cannot imagine that my proposal would lead to greater suffering than exists in the world today.

I know a movie is just a movie but it scares me. There might be something deep in our brain that makes us freak out we can't continue the species. It's pure speculation, however.


All animals, including humans have a strong drive to reproduce. Some of us fail to reproduce, either because we cannot find a mate, or because of a physiological problem. These people do not all freak out or become intensely depressed.

I never thought of this movie as being scary. My proposal is never going to happen. But the consequences of our present trajectory will be far worse than what happens in the movie. We, collectively, are far worse than Thanos, because he only kills half the population, and does it quickly and at random. We are making the world uninhabitable for our civilization and the result will be slow and violent deaths for far more than half.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline mindme

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #53 on: January 04, 2019, 08:10:14 AM »
All animals, including humans have a strong drive to reproduce. Some of us fail to reproduce, either because we cannot find a mate, or because of a physiological problem. These people do not all freak out or become intensely depressed.

I never thought of this movie as being scary. My proposal is never going to happen. But the consequences of our present trajectory will be far worse than what happens in the movie. We, collectively, are far worse than Thanos, because he only kills half the population, and does it quickly and at random. We are making the world uninhabitable for our civilization and the result will be slow and violent deaths for far more than half.

I'm not freaked out, much, my family line dies with me. But then we've never faced a situation where everyone is faced with the same reality. Moral panics are not logical but happen when people share the same disconnect. Until we do face that reality, who is to say how society might react. But based on a history of moral panics, I'd lean towards freak out versus "meh".


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Online Harry Black

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #54 on: January 04, 2019, 08:38:56 AM »
You dont need god to have a morality that places ones own species against others. There are proven natural drives to prefer entities we can relate to and identify with. Your own internal morality might give humans and other species equal value.
And sure, industrialised farming is monstrous. Just not as bad as genocide of humans for most of society.

And yes, I know many people who are intensely sad that they cannot be parents (biological or adoptive) and I presume even more would feel that way to have the choice taken from them.
Even for myself, I feel that without future generations, there is very little (personal) value to any of my actions.

Online daniel1948

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #55 on: January 04, 2019, 10:55:36 AM »
You dont need god to have a morality that places ones own species against others. There are proven natural drives to prefer entities we can relate to and identify with. Your own internal morality might give humans and other species equal value.
And sure, industrialised farming is monstrous. Just not as bad as genocide of humans for most of society.

And yes, I know many people who are intensely sad that they cannot be parents (biological or adoptive) and I presume even more would feel that way to have the choice taken from them.
Even for myself, I feel that without future generations, there is very little (personal) value to any of my actions.

Of course killing animals for most people is not as bad as killing people. Note also that for most people, killing people they perceive as “different” is not as bad as killing people they regard as “like themselves.” And for most westerners, killing certain animals is worse than killing others. Some here who eat cows have expressed revulsion at the idea of eating dogs.

People are very good at justifying whatever activities or lifestyles they embrace. It’s called hypocrisy. Since I reject the proposal that humans are “better” than other animals, or exceptional among the species in the world, I also reject “moralities” that assert that killing an animal is less of a monstrosity than killing a human.

Note that I make no claim to be less hypocritical than anyone else, I merely don’t try to pretend that my lifestyle is in anyway justified. Morality is a purely human invention which has no basis in reality. Different societies have vastly different moralities and many contradict each other, yet everyone is convinced that their morality is “the right one.” Since most people believe in a God or gods, they claim that morality comes from God or the gods. But even atheists have moralities, they just claim that their morality is intrinsic to the universe. The proof that all these moralities are merely subjective expressions of people’s own personal preferences is the lack of any common thread. Even the most-often cited example that “killing [people] is wrong” is so riddled with exceptions as to be an excellent example of my point that moralities are contradictory between groups. Because most people actually believe that killing is justified under certain circumstances. (War, self-defense, execution of convicted criminals, are common exceptions contained in different moralities.)

The human race is a cancer. We are killing our host and we will die out with it. I believe that my suggestion, that we stop breeding, is far more humane than the inevitable alternative of riots, wars, and mass starvation when our civilization collapses with the depletion of the resources it needs and the climate changes that will wreak havoc with our agriculture.
Daniel
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Online The Latinist

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #56 on: January 04, 2019, 11:55:54 AM »
You are not merely suggesting that it would be preferable for human beings not to reproduce; you are saying that, given the power, you, individually, would strip that choice from 7 billion other people through forced sterilization.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #57 on: January 04, 2019, 01:31:29 PM »
You are not merely suggesting that it would be preferable for human beings not to reproduce; you are saying that, given the power, you, individually, would strip that choice from 7 billion other people through forced sterilization.

We could probably get a thread out of this. 

Iirc, feminism and healthcare are major factors behind the developed world's below-replacement-rate growth.  You can reduce growth without hurting anyone, by actually helping everyone. How much can you reduce it that way? No idea. Never seen any studies parsing out hte influence of individual factors.

The morality of reducing growth would either be rejected on principle (growth is always good) or it would come down to the means. And I think 'good things eliminate bad growth' undercuts the blanket moralizing about 'growth is good' because some growth si caused by, say, expecting half your kids to die before age 5. 

I think you could get a few pages out of this.
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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #58 on: January 04, 2019, 04:33:10 PM »
You are not merely suggesting that it would be preferable for human beings not to reproduce; you are saying that, given the power, you, individually, would strip that choice from 7 billion other people through forced sterilization.

Yep. But it’s unlikely I’ll ever have that power. Or that I’ll even be around all that much longer. So, on account of my age, I claim the right to engage in curmudgeonly rants from time to time.

But I agree with superdave, so I’ll post no more on this topic in this thread. (It did come out of a legitimate movie discussion, but I agree it’s gone on too long here.)
Daniel
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Offline werecow

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Re: The morality of Thanos
« Reply #59 on: January 04, 2019, 09:50:44 PM »
All animals, including humans have a strong drive to reproduce. Some of us fail to reproduce, either because we cannot find a mate, or because of a physiological problem. These people do not all freak out or become intensely depressed.

Not all of them perhaps, but that says nothing about any individual or even a majority of them. I think the vast majority of people that I know would be very depressed and stressed at the thought of being infertile. I say that as someone who (at least for the moment) doesn't actually want kids himself. I'm open to the idea of having kids (a few years from now perhaps), but I would be equally OK with infertility (on it's own; not taking into account the relationship issues and possible social stigma and such that come with it). However, I have some idea of what it can be like for those who do want it but don't or can't have it. My sister has been in a deep depression for the last two years for exactly that reason. My best friend ended a good relationship because she can't have kids and he feels such a deep need for that that he just can't be happy without kids in his future. It hurt him badly but it was an essential part of his experience as a human being. My aunt has always wanted kids but never had them, and was then confronted with a stepkid resulting from an extramarital affair (who she basically adopted). My ex want kids so badly she'd like to start an elementary school (but feels she's too young to have her own right now). My mom basically coerced my dad into having me (he seems OK with the outcome }|:op). So I know enough to say that the pain of not being able to have children is not to be trivialized.

I imagine it is a lot like my own struggle to find a lasting romantic relationship. That urge has been a constant in my life even when I felt like I had given up and was something of a hermit. I know a few guys who simply don't care or they have different priorities in life. To them, this seems like a trivial thing. I don't have the "need kids" predisposition, but I guess I do have the "need a mate" one. For me that drive is inescapable, and the resulting misery when I can't find a compatible mate has been at the forefront of my life for as long as I can remember. I've tried hard to be content, let alone happy, without a mate but I can't seem to manage it (which is probably the drive behind all of my major life changes in the last three years). There's just something in my genetics that screams for a partner, regardless of how much of an introvert and a loner I am in other regards. I imagine the drive to have kids feels the same way. Not everyone has it in equal amounts, but when you have it it is a terrible thing if you can't fulfill it. So taking that option away from people is not to be taken so lightly. You're talking about this as if it's a trivial thing but for a lot of people it defines their life's purpose and a major source of happiness.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 09:53:36 PM by werecow »
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