Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Everyone should die, but no one should kill themselves to make it happen?  Um... This is about where I headdesk.

 

=><=

 

Logic dictates that if everyone should die, then anyone should die.  (General to specific is a sound conclusion).  Or more specifically, if all people should die, then for all x, if x is a person, x should die.  That's logically entailed by the claim that everyone should die.

Microsuffering arg - if you kill yourself, you cause more suffering to those around you.

But let's run with this suffering thing.  How do we calculate what an acceptable comic-book-supervillain doomsday device attack looks like?  Is it a bad idea if even one person is left alive?  What if we manage to simultaneously kill off enough people that the death of the rest is guaranteed after some period of time?  What if extinction isn't possible, but a large number of people die?  How large is enough?  How do we weigh the future suffering of those who live against the future suffering avoided by those who die?  Is suffering really the only thing that weighs into this consideration?  I'm disturbed that reasons for rejecting an attack under this ethic look like 'it doesn't kill enough people'. 

Sounds like an aff warrant - the 1AC is 8 minutes of EVERYTHING, not almost everything, will die.

On the one hand, I agree with Edgehopper that 'Death Good' necessarily argues for suicide, and that such an advocacy is on-face evil.  (Which, unlike Edgehopper, doesn't mean I haven't voted for it, although I make sure to express my disappointment on the ballot and in the oral K).

 

On the other hand, advocating for extinction is arguably more evil than advocating for suicide.  In addition to the extinguishing of current lives, it destroys the promise of any future lives.  Because the value of future suffering outweighs any short-term suffering (there's literally more of it), the argument necessarily makes things like Genocide into goods instead of the evils they are.  Especially if it doesn't cause their murderers undue suffering.  If suffering is the only calculus that matters, the ideal person is the psychopath who cannot empathize and therefore cannot suffer for the misfortunes of others, and who is duty bound to act towards their extermination.  (Minimalizes suffering of survivors, massive "benefits" in the elimination of long-term future suffering).  Similarly, if you actually believe death is good because suffering must be reduced / eliminated, you would also advocate for the murder of (especially older) homeless people, who tend to lack the personal connections which would create suffering at their passing, which means there's a net gain from the cessation of their own personal suffering.

1. Future lives: If the arguments about death being good because of suffering are true, then you're benefiting those future lives.

2. Genocide: The protection of life is what justifies genocide. We need to destroy the Other to protect our own lives.

3. Old people: Don't need to murder old people if nuclear war kills us instantly.

 

Finally, suffering is neither the only nor even the major moral consideration in any such calculus.  What about future happiness?  What about the potential for future happiness?   Or any of countless other positive reasons to live.  Arguing death good as you're presenting it takes the extreme pessimism of the suicidal depressive, and says that means not only should they kill themselves, but they should want everyone killed because they're miserable.  The individual belief is depression, and deserves counseling and sympathy.  

The risk of solving suffering instantly outweighs the potential in the future.

 

When your ethics look more like the ethics of a serial killer than anything else, you have a problem.

None of these are our "ethics," debate is simply a training ground for intellectuals and a testing ground for theories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DnG  '87 - Humanist conception of death creates a false dichotomy between life/death -> hierarchization of life

I don't know what card it is, but the tag is probably wrong and a double turn.

a) What is the impact to the hierarchization of life? More humanist death.

B) Sounds like a conception of the self which does not exist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone should die, but no one should kill themselves to make it happen?  Um... This is about where I headdesk.

Well the way debate works, quite conveniently, is that the aff says about nuclear war -> extinction 12+ times. Which means its relatively easy to end everyone's life pretty quickly 

=><=

 

Logic dictates that if everyone should die, then anyone should die.  (General to specific is a sound conclusion).  Or more specifically, if all people should die, then for all x, if x is a person, x should die.  That's logically entailed by the claim that everyone should die.

x=all of humanity. x-x=0. That's the goal. Logic.

 

But let's run with this suffering thing.  How do we calculate what an acceptable comic-book-supervillain doomsday device attack looks like?  Is it a bad idea if even one person is left alive?  What if we manage to simultaneously kill off enough people that the death of the rest is guaranteed after some period of time?  What if extinction isn't possible, but a large number of people die?  How large is enough?  How do we weigh the future suffering of those who live against the future suffering avoided by those who die?  Is suffering really the only thing that weighs into this consideration?  I'm disturbed that reasons for rejecting an attack under this ethic look like 'it doesn't kill enough people'. 

Yes. No one should be left alive. The goal is to minimize suffering to zero, ie. non existence. That may require some people suffering maybe a few months than others however we have millions more years on the planet which means millions of more years to suffer. 

There is also a pretty big framing argument here that everyone dies - The question is either now or later. Do we want to doom future generations to the explosion of the sun or do we take the reigns now and ensure they never have to live in a world so wrought with pain. No one suffers who's not born so that's a hell of a lot of suffering reduced

 

On the one hand, I agree with Edgehopper that 'Death Good' necessarily argues for suicide, and that such an advocacy is on-face evil.  (Which, unlike Edgehopper, doesn't mean I haven't voted for it, although I make sure to express my disappointment on the ballot and in the oral K).

If you'd give a warrant here I'd love to answer it.

Death good rejects suicide for two reasons - 

a. Suicide means those you knew and love you will suffer more. Extinction through something like a nuclear war resolves that since there's no one left to feel bad

b. The people who go through the worse forms of suffering (gitmo, cambodian rape camps, etc) are denied things like sharp objects to end their life even though several reports show they want to very badly. That means that suicide isn't even an option for people who really need it

 

On the other hand, advocating for extinction is arguably more evil than advocating for suicide.  In addition to the extinguishing of current lives, it destroys the promise of any future lives.  Because the value of future suffering outweighs any short-term suffering (there's literally more of it), the argument necessarily makes things like Genocide into goods instead of the evils they are.  Especially if it doesn't cause their murderers undue suffering.  If suffering is the only calculus that matters, the ideal person is the psychopath who cannot empathize and therefore cannot suffer for the misfortunes of others, and who is duty bound to act towards their extermination.  (Minimalizes suffering of survivors, massive "benefits" in the elimination of long-term future suffering).  Similarly, if you actually believe death is good because suffering must be reduced / eliminated, you would also advocate for the murder of (especially older) homeless people, who tend to lack the personal connections which would create suffering at their passing, which means there's a net gain from the cessation of their own personal suffering.

Prior to winning this argument, however is winning that there's something valuable about human life in the first place. There's no reason we've done anything particularly good or useful and the world would probably be better without us. 

I am, however, troubled by your constant use of psychopath to describe this argument. I think it's pretty reductionist. Yes, schopenhauer and ligotti are pessimists but the reason behind their arguments is to minimize suffering. I would say that would be the most empathetic thing to do - It is because you believe people's beings are so important that any suffering they go through is wholely unacceptable. 

As for homeless populations, that assumes that we're advocating going out and solely killing people who don't have a place of residence. Which we're not doing. See above

 

Finally, suffering is neither the only nor even the major moral consideration in any such calculus.  What about future happiness?  What about the potential for future happiness?   Or any of countless other positive reasons to live.  Arguing death good as you're presenting it takes the extreme pessimism of the suicidal depressive, and says that means not only should they kill themselves, but they should want everyone killed because they're miserable.  The individual belief is depression, and deserves counseling and sympathy.  

For sure - Happiness is good, yes, but the suffering of the world necessarily outweighs. Your ethic justifies torturing one person for eternity so two other people can live utopian lives which I would say is infinitely more messed up. Yes, people have plenty of reasons to live but using the handy cost benefit analysis skills that debate gives us, there's quantitatively more pain than pleasure in this world and extinction is the absolute zero between the two which means there's really nothing inherently bad about it.

 

When your ethics look more like the ethics of a serial killer than anything else, you have a problem.

I'll close with a word from our sponsors - 

Ligotti 2012 (Thomas, THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE, LB)

Being somebody is rough, but being nobody is out of the question. We must be happy, we must imagine Sisyphus to be happy, we must believe because it is absurd to believe. Day by day, in every way, we are getting better and better. Vital fictions for vital persons. They shoot horses, don’t they? But as for shooting ourselves...Almost nobody declares that an ancestral curse contaminates us in utero and pollutes our existence. Doctors do not weep in the delivery room, or not often. They do not lower their heads and say, “The stopwatch has started.” The infant may cry, if things went right. But time will dry its eyes; time will take care of it. Time will take care of everything that is and everything to come. Then all will be as it was before we took our place in this place. Human life: it does mean something, but not so that it might as well mean nothing. So be it. There will come a day for each of us—and then for all of us—when the future will be done with. Until then, humanity will acclimate itself to every new horror that comes knocking, as it has done from the very beginning. It will go on and on until it stops. And the horror will go on, as day follows day and generations fall into the future like so many bodies into open graves. The horror handed down to us will be handed down to others while the clock is still ticking. Could it be possible that we all deserve to die, and to die out? But our heads are not obsessed by such questions. To ask them is not in our interest . . . or what we think is our interest, which amounts to the same thing. And to answer them hand on heart and not with our heads in the sand could put an end to the conspiracy against the human race. But that will never happen. Ask anybody.

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am, however, troubled by your constant use of psychopath to describe this argument. I think it's pretty reductionist.

Policy Debate: Where calling for the death of humanity is acceptable, but calling that argument psychopathic isn't!

 

Yes. No one should be left alive. The goal is to minimize suffering to zero, ie. non existence. That may require some people suffering maybe a few months than others however we have millions more years on the planet which means millions of more years to suffer.

There is also a pretty big framing argument here that everyone dies - The question is either now or later. Do we want to doom future generations to the explosion of the sun or do we take the reigns now and ensure they never have to live in a world so wrought with pain. No one suffers who's not born so that's a hell of a lot of suffering reduced

This is what I mean by "life is generally preferable to death" being an undebatable moral axiom. There is nothing to debate; it is a first principle that cannot be derived but must be accepted as self-evident. Most forms of ethics would say that it's self-evident because absent that principle there are no ethics to speak of.

 

Death good rejects suicide for two reasons -

a. Suicide means those you knew and love you will suffer more. Extinction through something like a nuclear war resolves that since there's no one left to feel bad

1. The answer is to this is obviously that you should work to alienate all your friends and make everyone hate you first, and then kill yourself to end your suffering. And then complain when someone points out you have the ethics of a psychopath.

2. Even without doing that, doesn't all the suffering you avoid for the rest of your life outweigh theirs by your same argument?

 

b. The people who go through the worse forms of suffering (gitmo, cambodian rape camps, etc) are denied things like sharp objects to end their life even though several reports show they want to very badly. That means that suicide isn't even an option for people who really need it

And your ethical calculus would have us euthanize them rather than free them. I hope you won't be too offended when I point out that's the ethics of a Nazi?

A person certainly has the right to decide that their suffering outweighs their future hope of happiness--I'm an believer in individual rights, not pure utilitarianism. But that's very different from making that conclusion for others and imposing it on them.

 

Prior to winning this argument, however is winning that there's something valuable about human life in the first place. There's no reason we've done anything particularly good or useful and the world would probably be better without us.

1. Warrant?

2. See discussion of moral axiom above.

3. Good or useful for whom? How do you define "good" without reference to a being who can comprehend good?

 

I am, however, troubled by your constant use of psychopath to describe this argument. I think it's pretty reductionist. Yes, schopenhauer and ligotti are pessimists but the reason behind their arguments is to minimize suffering. I would say that would be the most empathetic thing to do - It is because you believe people's beings are so important that any suffering they go through is wholely unacceptable.

1. The fact that the vast majority of people aren't suicidal suggests that most people value their current and future happiness over their current and future suffering. Few wish to give up what time on Earth they have.

2. It's lines like this that make me agree with Mike Greenstein of GBN and intervene--a 15-18 year old American high school student does not have the life experience necessary to make this argument in an informed way. Having never even had to bear full responsibility for yourself, you have no idea of the relationship between responsibility, suffering, and joy that comes with love of a spouse or child, or of any adult burden. This is a particular problem with the policy debate world, in which slightly older children (college students) teach children.

 

For sure - Happiness is good, yes, but the suffering of the world necessarily outweighs. Your ethic justifies torturing one person for eternity so two other people can live utopian lives which I would say is infinitely more messed up. Yes, people have plenty of reasons to live but using the handy cost benefit analysis skills that debate gives us, there's quantitatively more pain than pleasure in this world and extinction is the absolute zero between the two which means there's really nothing inherently bad about it.

1. You really need a warrant for that first sentence and for your cost benefit analysis. The fact that most people are not suicidal suggests otherwise.

2. No, because neither Squirreloid nor I are pure utilitarians. One cannot ethically take any part of another's life by force. You're the one pushing an ethic that doesn't recognize human autonomy.

 

And if you're going to end with a literary quote from an obscure philosopher:

 

"Are you thinking death and taxes are our only certainty, Mr. Rearden? Well, there's nothing I can do about the first, but if I left the burden of the second, men might learn to see the connection between the two and what a longer, happier life they might have the power to achieve. They might learn to hold, not death and taxes, but life and production as their two absolutes and as the basis of their moral code." - Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged."

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Policy Debate: Where calling for the death of humanity is acceptable, but calling that argument psychopathic isn't!

I for one, you're calling a bunch of individual students psychopaths which isn't really the best way to change someones mind - Ad hominem attacks much?

 

This is what I mean by "life is generally preferable to death" being an undebatable moral axiom. There is nothing to debate; it is a first principle that cannot be derived but must be accepted as self-evident. Most forms of ethics would say that it's self-evident because absent that principle there are no ethics to speak of.

Undebatable moral axioms are the epitome of dogmatism. The ethics that you continually assert are based on a biased preference for life that refuses any other possibility. The sort of logic that says "life must always be preserved" is the epitome of sovereign violence: Make live or Make die. If you choose anything else you're a psychopath. 

Also, who decides ethics? The philosophers who enjoy their expensive wine or the slaves struggling under the master's whip?

1. The answer is to this is obviously that you should work to alienate all your friends and make everyone hate you first, and then kill yourself to end your suffering. And then complain when someone points out you have the ethics of a psychopath.

Or accept extinction? That involves a ton less work. Plus suicide still doesn't resolve suffering on a macro level which means nothing really changes. 

2. Even without doing that, doesn't all the suffering you avoid for the rest of your life outweigh theirs by your same argument?

If there is a solution to resolve every being's suffering, it would make sense that we would choose that?

And your ethical calculus would have us euthanize them rather than free them. I hope you won't be too offended when I point out that's the ethics of a Nazi?

Not really. Extinction would necessary involve us destroying those bodies that put them in that place in the first place. Of course, I don't see you going out to help them, nor do I really see anyone else - Why? Because their lives aren't valuable enough to save. The idea of helping people is great but in a world where life has devolved into pure slavery, is one really living anymore? I suppose this gets more into a Wildersonian perspective of social death which I'm a strong believer is increasingly relevant in these discussions. If we can end all oppression ever at the cost of non-existence, why shouldn't we? 

 

A person certainly has the right to decide that their suffering outweighs their future hope of happiness--I'm an believer in individual rights, not pure utilitarianism. But that's very different from making that conclusion for others and imposing it on them.

For sure - But what does that mean to doom future generations to a life of suffering? No one who is never born suffers because non-existence is non-suffering. They didn't agree to come into the world in the first place. Extinction by our own hand is the ultimate act of autonomy since we necessarily ensure that no one suffers ever again. 

 

1. Warrant?

Slavery, Cambodian rape camps, the Inquisition. If you can justify why these justify the beauty of humanity, I'm all ears. 

2. See discussion of moral axiom above.

See discussion of how you justify slavery below

3. Good or useful for whom? How do you define "good" without reference to a being who can comprehend good?

If you'll notice, there's a pretty consistent pattern between humans going somewhere and violence erupting in that area. A lack of humans, or beings on that note would resolve that. I would say violence is kinda bad. Which would mean a lack of violence is good. We can make that predictive argument even if there's no one to experience it.

 

1. The fact that the vast majority of people aren't suicidal suggests that most people value their current and future happiness over their current and future suffering. Few wish to give up what time on Earth they have.

Yes, clearly there's a psychological bias towards life. That would be because we're alive. Of course, if you grew up in the south and owned a very large plantation with slaves bending to your every whim and that's all you ever knew and that's all you'd ever been taught something tells me you wouldn't want to give it up either.

 

2. It's lines like this that make me agree with Mike Greenstein of GBN and intervene--a 15-18 year old American high school student does not have the life experience necessary to make this argument in an informed way. Having never even had to bear full responsibility for yourself, you have no idea of the relationship between responsibility, suffering, and joy that comes with love of a spouse or child, or of any adult burden. This is a particular problem with the policy debate world, in which slightly older children (college students) teach children.

I'm glad that you think that living a nice life in America matters a lot more than slavery in African countries. Being privileged allows us to say that life is really great and there's so much to enjoy but at the same time, there's even more people who live awful lives who are forced to live because of the conditions they're put in. 

It's times like this I agree with Michael Hester -- the kind of community you endorse is a failure because people no longer make arguments; cards are highlighted down to one or two sentences that say nothing but statements such as "life is intrinsically good because we exist and that's all we can ever know." The quality of argument that GBN makes is no better than anything in this conversation and the type of debate that you believe in seems to be 'if I don't like your argument I won't even consider it as a possibility.' I've been on both sides of the death good debate, when were you?

 

1. You really need a warrant for that first sentence and for your cost benefit analysis. The fact that most people are not suicidal suggests otherwise.

For sure - Several million people love coffee. Several million people are also in slavery. You can only pick one. Do you pick pleasure or pain to focus on?

It's the same logic with extinction. Lots of people live enjoyable lives. Lots of people live unbearably painful lives. Which should we work on? Making sure the people who enjoy their lives continue to enjoy their lives at the expense of those who suffer. Your suggestion of suicide is literally the out of sight, out of mind argument that means that if it's not affecting us we don't have to worry. 

2. No, because neither Squirreloid nor I are pure utilitarians. One cannot ethically take any part of another's life by force. You're the one pushing an ethic that doesn't recognize human autonomy.

I mean, you're telling high schools kids to kill themselves. So keep up the good work on that one. Between the two of us, I'm the only one saying suicide is bad. 

Also see above on how extinction would be the ultimate act of autonomy. Never before have we had the opportunity to break out of the confidence trick that is existence - Seizing the reigns now is a pretty good warrant for autonomy

And if you're going to end with a literary quote from an obscure philosopher:

 

"Are you thinking death and taxes are our only certainty, Mr. Rearden? Well, there's nothing I can do about the first, but if I left the burden of the second, men might learn to see the connection between the two and what a longer, happier life they might have the power to achieve. They might learn to hold, not death and taxes, but life and production as their two absolutes and as the basis of their moral code." - Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged."

Life and production. I'm sure that chinese factory worker would love you to tell him that if he works a little harder, adds 3 more hours to his 16 hour day, he'll definitely be able to find a reason to live.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know what card it is, but the tag is probably wrong and a double turn.

a) What is the impact to the hierarchization of life? More humanist death.

B) Sounds like a conception of the self which does not exist.

1st - not the tag line of the card

 

2nd - Deleuze and Guattaris concept of death is different from the humanist conception of death. Yes, hierarchization of life leads to death, and other things like capitalist exploitation, but the reasons why that death is bad is because of a different realms (ie it halts the productivity of desire)

 

3rd - don't understand the b supboint, I never claimed there to be a "self" that presupposes the human; neither exist

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the record. I find this ethic abhorrent.  In my discussion of what it actually advocates, I am not advocating adopting this ethic, nor am I advocating anyone on the other side of the debate truly adopt and act on this ethic.  But it is important to identify the consequences of particular beliefs, and if those consequences are abhorrent or offensive, the beliefs which inspire them are probably wrong.

 

Seriously, please don't become a suffering-reduction paperclipper and commit suicide.  Get counseling. Talk to people you love who understand you.  Find reasons to want to live - the world really is better with you in it.

 

 

Policy Debate: Where calling for the death of humanity is acceptable, but calling that argument psychopathic isn't!
I for one, you're calling a bunch of individual students psychopaths which isn't really the best way to change someones mind - Ad hominem attacks much?

 

No one has called the students psychopathic.  Calling the argument psychopathic is not the same thing as calling the person making the argument psychopathic.  (If they actually acted on it, that would be different).  The ideal person of this philosophy has also been described as a psychopath, with good reason.

 

And since it isn't directed at the arguer, but the argument, it isn't ad hominem.  

This is what I mean by "life is generally preferable to death" being an undebatable moral axiom. There is nothing to debate; it is a first principle that cannot be derived but must be accepted as self-evident. Most forms of ethics would say that it's self-evident because absent that principle there are no ethics to speak of.
Undebatable moral axioms are the epitome of dogmatism. The ethics that you continually assert are based on a biased preference for life that refuses any other possibility. The sort of logic that says "life must always be preserved" is the epitome of sovereign violence: Make live or Make die. If you choose anything else you're a psychopath. 

Also, who decides ethics? The philosophers who enjoy their expensive wine or the slaves struggling under the master's whip?

 

Every argument has to start with some axiom. It is literally impossible to do otherwise.  Even mathematics is impossible without axioms.  Your argument, for example, seems to assume axiomatically that suffering is the only metric of value.

 

I actually don't need 'life is generally preferable to death' as an axiom.  I take as my axiom the sanctity of individual liberty in the Lockean sense, at which point each individual has the right to choose whether they personally prefer life or death.  But they can't choose for other people - and arguing for extinction does exactly that - attempts to choose for other people.  I can then observe that most people choose life.

 

As far as the claim of psychopathy goes, if you choose to prefer and act towards the death of others, you're literally meeting the definition of psychopathy.  If you act like a psychopath, you are a psychopath.

 

1. The answer is to this is obviously that you should work to alienate all your friends and make everyone hate you first, and then kill yourself to end your suffering. And then complain when someone points out you have the ethics of a psychopath.

Or accept extinction? That involves a ton less work. Plus suicide still doesn't resolve suffering on a macro level which means nothing really changes. 

 

It's not just about the macro level.  You're literally advocating an ethic where the only imperative is to reduce suffering.  Such single-minded maximizing philosophies have a name in the context of AI studies - paperclippers (and avoiding that kind of failure before we develop generalized AI is a central goal of machine ethics research).  And if all we're trying to do is reduce suffering, then any action which results in net less suffering is desirable and a consistent moral actor who believes in your ethic should engage in such actions.

 

In the case of suicide specifically, it reduces net suffering by all your future suffering, and any potential offspring's future suffering.  Now, it also causes some suffering, but: a. The most social relationships a person can maintain is approximately Dunbar's Number (~150).  Most of those aren't going to be particularly close relationships, so you make maybe 120 people feel bad for a couple days.  The remaining people might have their suffering increased for months, years, or even longer.  The ones who will suffer the most are close family, especially parents.  But since it's axiomatic to this ethic of yours that life is suffering, they would have suffered anyway, your suicide may be more intense in the short term, and in brief flashes down the road, but it's simply replacing other suffering they would have otherwise felt.  So the net increase in suffering from a suicide is arguably outweighed by the elimination of your own suffering.  And when we consider the potential of future children, and their children, and their children, unto the end of the human race, whereas any suffering deriving from your suicide will disappear within a generation, it's pretty clear that suicide always reduces net suffering.

 

For perspective, mitochondrial eve, from whom every extant person is descended, lived about 200,000 years ago.  The suffering of every person alive today is, in a sense, her fault for not committing suicide.  As there are more people alive today than if you summed up all the dead from the origination of homo habilus onwards, that's orders of magnitude more suffering than she would have caused by suicide.  Exponential growth dominates this moral calculus.

2. Even without doing that, doesn't all the suffering you avoid for the rest of your life outweigh theirs by your same argument?

If there is a solution to resolve every being's suffering, it would make sense that we would choose that?

 

Doesn't answer the argument / question.  On the one hand, you don't actually have a course of action that would end every person's suffering, so you can't choose that.  You can talk about it, but you can't do it.  On the other hand, you do have a course of action available to you which will reduce net suffering, and yet you're strangely averse to it.

 

Please don't actually act on this.  This is a plea to reject this ethic, not make you a more consistent practitioner.  

 

And your ethical calculus would have us euthanize them rather than free them. I hope you won't be too offended when I point out that's the ethics of a Nazi?

Not really. Extinction would necessary involve us destroying those bodies that put them in that place in the first place. Of course, I don't see you going out to help them, nor do I really see anyone else - Why? Because their lives aren't valuable enough to save. The idea of helping people is great but in a world where life has devolved into pure slavery, is one really living anymore? I suppose this gets more into a Wildersonian perspective of social death which I'm a strong believer is increasingly relevant in these discussions. If we can end all oppression ever at the cost of non-existence, why shouldn't we? 

 

While there is life, there's hope.  Maybe that hope won't come to the current generation - maybe it'll be their children or their grandchildren which are the ultimate benefactors.  

 

And there are plenty of people engaged in various forms of aid and activism to solve these problems.  We might not agree with the courses of action they pursue, but no one has a silver bullet which will solve all these problems overnight either.  

 

I respectfully disagree that life is pure slavery for most people.  I'd also point out that your argument here plus the general ethic you're advocating supports things like genociding all the people in Africa, because it would eliminate all their suffering while causing relatively minimal suffering elsewhere (since you explicitly claim other people don't care).

 

And to the degree your arguments here don't apply to all people, they only justify the killing of the people they do apply to.

 

A person certainly has the right to decide that their suffering outweighs their future hope of happiness--I'm an believer in individual rights, not pure utilitarianism. But that's very different from making that conclusion for others and imposing it on them.
For sure - But what does that mean to doom future generations to a life of suffering? No one who is never born suffers because non-existence is non-suffering. They didn't agree to come into the world in the first place. Extinction by our own hand is the ultimate act of autonomy since we necessarily ensure that no one suffers ever again. 

 

We can't ask them beforehand, but we can ask them afterwards.  What do you think most people would say?  I'm betting a majority would thank their parents for giving them life.

 

Also, if we accept that women have the right to have an abortion, then childbirth is actually a matter of the mother's autonomy, not the baby's.  I mean, I'm assuming no one here wants to side with the religious conservatives on this issue.

1. Warrant?

Slavery, Cambodian rape camps, the Inquisition. If you can justify why these justify the beauty of humanity, I'm all ears. 

 

We don't have to.  We acknowledge there are bad things in the world.  But the world also produces Mozarts, Michelangelos, Shakespeares, Feynmans, Darwins, etc... There is beauty in the world.  There are problems which engage the intellect and experiences that awe and inspire.  There is also happiness.  Why should suffering outweigh these things - to hear you tell it, they don't even count at all.  You just want to talk about the bad.

 

Edgehopper's use of Ayn Rand for a quote is appropriate, not because she doesn't have problems (she does), but because she had the right attitude towards life as a human being - that is her perspective on aesthetics, humans as heroic beings who face down and overcome what seemed to be once intractable foes.  To pick just the 20th century and just a small branch of medicine, we defeated small pox, polio, mumps, and a host of other diseases, something prior centuries would have thought unimaginable.   

 

Every one of us can aspire to be heroes for someone, whether its our children, our friends, our significant other, our students, or just random passersby.  It can involve as little as refusing to get up from where you sat on a bus.  It can be going to build / repair houses with habitat for humanity.  It can be convincing someone that there is something worth living for in the world.

2. See discussion of moral axiom above.

See discussion of how you justify slavery below

3. Good or useful for whom? How do you define "good" without reference to a being who can comprehend good?
If you'll notice, there's a pretty consistent pattern between humans going somewhere and violence erupting in that area. A lack of humans, or beings on that note would resolve that. I would say violence is kinda bad. Which would mean a lack of violence is good. We can make that predictive argument even if there's no one to experience it.

 

There's violence without humans too.  Even barnacles will crush their neighbors and knock them off rocks in the competition for space, and trees will compete to shoot up fast enough to choke their neighbors of sunlight, and that's the more innocuous end of destructive competition in nature.

 

And a world without life is a world without value.  Without life, there is nothing to do the valuing.

1. The fact that the vast majority of people aren't suicidal suggests that most people value their current and future happiness over their current and future suffering. Few wish to give up what time on Earth they have.

Yes, clearly there's a psychological bias towards life. That would be because we're alive. Of course, if you grew up in the south and owned a very large plantation with slaves bending to your every whim and that's all you ever knew and that's all you'd ever been taught something tells me you wouldn't want to give it up either.

 

It might surprise you to know that there were slave owners who released their slaves for moral reasons.  And not just hypocritically like Thomas Jefferson on their death.

 

Regardless, you can't support individual autonomy if you would deny people their own choice in the matter of their life or death.  Why they make that choice is irrelevant - it's *their* choice, not yours.

 

2. It's lines like this that make me agree with Mike Greenstein of GBN and intervene--a 15-18 year old American high school student does not have the life experience necessary to make this argument in an informed way. Having never even had to bear full responsibility for yourself, you have no idea of the relationship between responsibility, suffering, and joy that comes with love of a spouse or child, or of any adult burden. This is a particular problem with the policy debate world, in which slightly older children (college students) teach children.
I'm glad that you think that living a nice life in America matters a lot more than slavery in African countries. Being privileged allows us to say that life is really great and there's so much to enjoy but at the same time, there's even more people who live awful lives who are forced to live because of the conditions they're put in. 

It's times like this I agree with Michael Hester -- the kind of community you endorse is a failure because people no longer make arguments; cards are highlighted down to one or two sentences that say nothing but statements such as "life is intrinsically good because we exist and that's all we can ever know." The quality of argument that GBN makes is no better than anything in this conversation and the type of debate that you believe in seems to be 'if I don't like your argument I won't even consider it as a possibility.' I've been on both sides of the death good debate, when were you?

 

I think the point was, as high school debaters are (mostly) still children (legally), judges and coaches have a responsibility as educators to intervene to prevent them from making poor decisions (like committing suicide), and identifying when particular ethical arguments favor making those kinds of poor decisions, they are obligated to step in somehow.

 

1. You really need a warrant for that first sentence and for your cost benefit analysis. The fact that most people are not suicidal suggests otherwise.

For sure - Several million people love coffee. Several million people are also in slavery. You can only pick one. Do you pick pleasure or pain to focus on?

 

mmmm... I love the taste of strawmen in the morning.

 

It's the same logic with extinction. Lots of people live enjoyable lives. Lots of people live unbearably painful lives. Which should we work on? Making sure the people who enjoy their lives continue to enjoy their lives at the expense of those who suffer. Your suggestion of suicide is literally the out of sight, out of mind argument that means that if it's not affecting us we don't have to worry. 

 

If some people live enjoyable lives, your argument to kill everyone to eliminate suffering fails.  It may be an argument to kill the people living unbearably painful lives - but you'll excuse me if I find that distasteful, probably racist, and misguided.

 

2. No, because neither Squirreloid nor I are pure utilitarians. One cannot ethically take any part of another's life by force. You're the one pushing an ethic that doesn't recognize human autonomy.

I mean, you're telling high schools kids to kill themselves. So keep up the good work on that one. Between the two of us, I'm the only one saying suicide is bad. 

Also see above on how extinction would be the ultimate act of autonomy. Never before have we had the opportunity to break out of the confidence trick that is existence - Seizing the reigns now is a pretty good warrant for autonomy

 

No, we're telling high school students 'this way lies madness, and here's why.'  Neither of us want anyone to commit suicide.  And pointing out the ethic you're espousing favors suicide is an argument against the ethic.

 

We both believe suicide is bad.  You're the one arguing for an ethic where, assuming it, you need to necessarily conclude suicide is a moral action, and both of us are balking because suicide is bad and you seem unable to successfully reason about future suffering or degrees of empathetic attachment, and thus can't see where your moral arguments necessarily lead.

 

And if you're going to end with a literary quote from an obscure philosopher:

"Are you thinking death and taxes are our only certainty, Mr. Rearden? Well, there's nothing I can do about the first, but if I left the burden of the second, men might learn to see the connection between the two and what a longer, happier life they might have the power to achieve. They might learn to hold, not death and taxes, but life and production as their two absolutes and as the basis of their moral code." - Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged."

Life and production. I'm sure that chinese factory worker would love you to tell him that if he works a little harder, adds 3 more hours to his 16 hour day, he'll definitely be able to find a reason to live.

 

Life is actually improving dramatically for Chinese workers.  Please stop with the strawmen.

 

Also, I'm having a hard time thinking of an anti-production position in political philosophy.  The critiques of capitalism are about the organization and ownership of production, not whether it should occur.  I suppose things like deep ecology are against production in general, but that has little to nothing to do with the plight of Chinese factory workers, since those kinds of philosophies would like to kill off humans too.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with everything Squirreloid says, and thank him for taking the time I was very reluctant to spend doing a line-by-line refutation. One note:

 

I think the point was, as high school debaters are (mostly) still children (legally), judges and coaches have a responsibility as educators to intervene to prevent them from making poor decisions (like committing suicide), and identifying when particular ethical arguments favor making those kinds of poor decisions, they are obligated to step in somehow.

Not quite (though I agree with this)--my point was that one should not attempt to reach totalizing conclusions about life, the universe, and everything, without having actually lived a life, similar to the principle in Jewish mysticism that one should not study the Zohar and Kabbalah until the age of 40. It's telling that often, a philosopher's greatest area of incompetence is that which he or she hasn't experienced (e.g., Ayn Rand never had children and never thought about them in her writings, while Rousseau never cared for his children and proposed insanely harmful philosophies of education). Exceedingly few high school debaters have the experience of taking full responsibility for their lives, having a job, owning substantial property, having financial obligations, having another person they are willing to make serious sacrifices for, etc. Literature and historical knowledge can make up only some of this gap.

 

Note that this is the quote from Mike Greenstein's judging paradigm I'm referring to:

 

In recent years there have been a few times where students have made arguments in debate that are not appropriate for a high school forum. If such arguments enter a debate I judge, I will stop the debate and explain to the students why the arguments are inappropriate, and will vote against the team that made the arguments.

I'm inclined to add this to my paradigm. I've never judged a round so far where I would feel a need to do this, but I've certainly seen arguments on this site for which I would.

Edited by Edgehopper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Note that this is the quote from Mike Greenstein's judging paradigm I'm referring to:

In recent years there have been a few times where students have made arguments in debate that are not appropriate for a high school forum. If such arguments enter a debate I judge, I will stop the debate and explain to the students why the arguments are inappropriate, and will vote against the team that made the arguments.

I'm inclined to add this to my paradigm. I've never judged a round so far where I would feel a need to do this, but I've certainly seen arguments on this site for which I would.

He's refering to arguments like racism and sexism good. People have read death good in front of Greenstein before. And if your model for debate is to act like Dr. Greenstein, then you should re-eveluate your priorities. (In reference to "An Activity At Risk: A Call for Topic-Centered Debate")

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I'm glad that you think that living a nice life in America matters a lot more than slavery in African countries. Being privileged allows us to say that life is really great and there's so much to enjoy but at the same time, there's even more people who live awful lives who are forced to live because of the conditions they're put in.

Just wondering, but what about the Zapatistas? They find enjoyment in life without depending on the suffering of others. Sure, I would acknowledge that a lot of the nice stuff I have is probably from some super distant relatives of mine in China, but then what about the few people here and there who don't depend on the suffering of others to have nice stuff? Should they die too? 

 

Also, is it okay if we make a different thread on this? I'm actually very interested in how this thread ended up like. I'll make a link of it to this thread so that y'all don't have to retype everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wondering, but what about the Zapatistas? They find enjoyment in life without depending on the suffering of others. Sure, I would acknowledge that a lot of the nice stuff I have is probably from some super distant relatives of mine in China, but then what about the few people here and there who don't depend on the suffering of others to have nice stuff? Should they die too? 

 

Also, is it okay if we make a different thread on this? I'm actually very interested in how this thread ended up like. I'll make a link of it to this thread so that y'all don't have to retype everything.

This is too broad a statement to be true; there may be subconscious superiority complexes, for instance, that develop within people that direct them to "depend on the suffering of others." The statement also begs the question of what it is that you mean by "others," does the others redirect back to Kant's personhood, humanism, or beings that exist as an "other" to ourselves. If so, then Zapatistas definitely thrive off of the suffering of others; do the animals they kill to eat meat and remain alive not feel pain, do they not suffer? 

 

I don't think we can ever be absolutely sure that there exists people who do not live off of the suffering of others. 

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...