[ExI] Ethics and Emotions are not axioms

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Jun 3 22:03:16 UTC 2007

Spike writes

>> Absolutely more valuable in what way...    Is the survival of ebola an
>> unqualified moral value?   ... - samantha
> I am always looking for moral axioms on the part of the environmentalists
> that differ from my own.  Samantha may have indicated one with her question.
> Does *any* life form currently on this planet have a moral right to
> existence?  If we could completely eradicate all mosquitoes for instance,
> would we do it?  My answer to that one is an unqualified JA.

Disregarding the highly questionable notion of "moral right", we
should all heartily approve of the eradication of mosquitos to
any degree that they interfere with human domination of and
use of the Earth. We ought to approve of our own existence,
and, as a minor corollary, the existence of life that is more
capable of receiving benefit in preference to the existence of
life that is *less* capable.

(I will duck for now the problems of Utility Monsters, and
just what we would approve of were the choice between
humans and an incredibly more advanced life form that
was immeasureably more capable of receiving benefit
than are we.)

> I see it as an interesting question however, one on which modern humanity
> has apparently split opinions.  Humans are indigenous to Africa but our
> species has expanded its habitat to cover the globe.  Not all species are
> compatible with humanity, therefore those species have seen steadily
> shrinking habitat with no change in sight.  Do we accept as an axiom that
> all species deserve preservation?  Or just all multi-cellular beasts?  All
> vertebrates?  All warm blooded animals?  All mammals?  All beasts, plants
> that can survive among human civilization?

My answer---avoiding the peculiar and highly suspect language of "axioms"
---is that as soon as we are capable, we ought to reformat the solar system
to run everything in an uploaded state.  Earth's matter alone could support
about 10^33 human beings, and just why should any of them be denied
existence in the name of hot rocks or inefficient trees?

Do beautiful mountain ranges really need to exist?  Why can't dynamic
images of them (and variations by the trillions and trillions) be a lot more
computationally efficient than using billions of tons of physical matter
merely to reflect photons?


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