anders at aleph.se
Tue Jun 14 20:25:56 UTC 2016
On 2016-06-14 15:49, Will Steinberg wrote:
> Midazolam is also a potent producer of retrograde amnesia. You are
> aware the entire time they massacre your mouth, but you forget.
> What are the morals of that? It squicks me out for sure.
Pain and suffering are different things: one is a sensory stimulus, the
other is the aversive emotional reaction (which can be triggered by
non-pain stimuli too). Pain is not bad in itself, but one can make a
case that suffering is something that is inherently bad.
If one argues suffering is inherently bad, then even forgotten suffering
is a bad thing. At least it made the world worse when it was occurring.
Remembered suffering is not obviously as bad as experiencing suffering:
at least pain cannot be remembered vividly (you don't flinch from
remembering a bad toothache or an injury, even though it is still
unpleasant to remember - compare that to remembering something truly
disgusting: you feel similar disgust again). Suffering, being a strong
inducer of neural plasticity, can of course change behavior and outlook
in important ways. But not all such changes are bad ones.
So I would argue that instantaneous suffering matters morally. Just as
instantaneous pleasure does. However, the time-bound forms of suffering
or happiness have potential for *meaning*. That adds another dimension
that can be far more important. Living a life of amnesiac bliss might
not be as good as a long dramatic struggle to make the world better.
Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
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