Re: physical pain is bad (was Re: Dynamic ethics)

From: Michael Roy Ames (
Date: Mon Jan 23 2006 - 13:47:01 MST


I deny this thread's subject, the contention that physical pain is bad.
Humans frequently (but not always) dislike physical pain, it is true, and
often try to avoid it. However most intelligent humans, both today and in
the past, have considered physical pain to be neither bad nor good in and of
itself. The situational context surrounding the experience of pain must
always be taken into account before one can make a moral judgment about the
goodness or badness of it. I take it as a given that moral judgments are,
and must be made by humans, as to cede moral decisions to the capabilities
(real or imagined) of other species would be to fail in our moral
responsibility as the species with overwhelming power on this planet.

In regards to your implication that physical pain should be eliminated from
earth's biosphere for certain species (mammals?), I strongly doubt that you
will find much support for this idea. The value humans place on preserving
Earth's ecosystems intact is currently quite high, and continues to rise
with our increasing awareness of our destructive effects on various
ecosystems and the need for a healthy biosphere in order to survive. There
is also the considerations of preserving ecosystems for future study (with
better technology), for future generations, and as simple resources should
we experience societal collapse. There is nothing to gain from the
anthropomorphic extension of human morality toward controlling the day to
day life experience of wild animals, neither for the animals nor for
ourselves. The suffering of wild animals is not a problem that requires a
solution. The obliteration of ecosystems along with the attendant loss of
knowledge, of biodiversity, and of the beauty we see in them *is* a real and
pressing problem. The Singularity could resolve this through making
preservation much easier by resolving many of the human issues that lead to
ecosystem destruction, and giving us ready alternatives to that destruction.

Michael Roy Ames

----- Original Message -----
From: "Phillip Huggan" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 11:29
Subject: physical pain is bad (was Re: Dynamic ethics)

Gazelles are mammals. They experience physical pain and fear similiar to
the way we humans do. If we can substitute fake gazelles with printed
tissues and carbon composite skeletons for the hunting pleasure of lions, we
should. You might have some basis if you were defending a spider's right to
be eaten while mating or while giving birth, but we are talking mammals

  Why must we preserve eco-systems in which mammals suffer if a (cheap)
solution can be found in which the same population of animals don't suffer?
Why must we preserve economic systems where people suffer? The common-sense
I speak of is the very simple fact that physical pain is bad. Are you
seriously questioning this? It sounds to me like you are suggesting
evolution-of-predator-species is a superior moral guide to follow than is

  There are many resources we will have to artificially restrict
post-singularity (so there won't be any "eco-systems" to speak of for these
resources). We can't have people making UFAI, time-machines, anti-matter
bombs, MNT, screwing with the vacuum state of the local universe, etc. If
some energy resources of the future are deemed similarly untouchable because
we may need them to harness even greater energy resources, we will retrict
them too.

Philip Goetz <> wrote:
  The lion must continue to be allowed to hunt and kill gazelles. That
is the starting point.

> There are ways to artificially push an ecology's energy requirements to a
> system's max resources (make a trillion gazelles). I don't think we should
> do this until we can safely discover exactly how much energy we have to
> work
> with in the universe.

I don't think we "should", but we know that "we" will, because that is
how ecosystems work. SOMEBODY is going to use those resources.
Resources are never left lying around unused for long. I have been
trying to explain this to transhumanists for 15 years now. Why is
this so hard for transhumanists in particular to accept? I suppose
because they are infected with extropian memes that preach the joy of
expansion unsullied by any problems with conflicts or resource
"Common-sense" is different for humans than for lions. That is the problem.

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