Re: Animal Consciousness

From: Matt Mahoney (
Date: Fri Mar 07 2008 - 14:00:12 MST

--- Lee Corbin <> wrote:

> Matt writes
> > It is in the best interest of
> > tribes to practice altruism to other tribe members. Those tribes were
> more
> > successful than the anarchists, so we inherited their genes and culture.
> This
> > doesn't mean such behavior is right, just that we believe it is right. We
> say
> > we do not inflict pain on others because they are conscious like us and we
> > would not want them to inflict pain on us. But that is just an excuse to
> > justify our beliefs, just like we make excuses to justify killing
> criminals or
> > enemies at war.
> It sounds like a good reason more than it sounds like "an excuse",
> to me. Yes we don't know what is "Right" with a capital R.
> We approve of some things, disapprove of others. All of us except
> the psychos disapprove of needlessly and warrantlessly inflicting
> pain on conscious creatures.

All of us rationalize, even monkeys.

> > Evolution does not favor compassion to other species. Dogs and cats are
> > carnivores. There is no moral dilemma for them. But your question is
> > important. We will try to apply the arguments that justify our ethics to
> > intelligent machines, and our logic will fail. There is no right answer.
> But there may be an answer on which we can achieve consensus.
> Perhaps a century ago you would have said about the slavery question,
> "There is no right answer". Well, maybe not, but we came to agree on
> an answer that almost all of us strongly endorse.

Industrialized countries abolished slavery because it was not economical, not
because it was wrong.

-- Matt Mahoney,

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