dozyrosie
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Is it wrong?
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Falcatas
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Of course it is.
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Falcatas
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(Original post by douglas merritte)
Not according to Peter Singer...

The cut-off date for abortion is very arbitrary. Why does the point of birth have such special significance?
I couldn't care less what Peter Singer thinks.

You have an obligation to take care of (or find someone who will) your child.

Parents have forced the child into existence without its consent or permission and have a duty to make sure it is taken care for.
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Falcatas
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(Original post by douglas merritte)
I think you might be confused. This is the philosophy section, not the philistinism section. You should care what Peter Singer thinks as he puts forward a fairly interesting perspective which should stimulate your thought processes. To blindly disallow certain avenues of thought seems a little narrow-minded.

In order to address the question 'Is infanticide wrong?', we must first define the terms 'wrong' and 'infanticide'. Unfortunately, whilst the term 'infanticide' is quite easy to define it would appear that the term 'wrong' is very much harder to pin down. What is wrong to one person might not be so wrong to another person. Of course, context is also important.

For the sake of argument, let's say that the term 'wrong' applies to what I judge to be disagreeable according to my own personal opinion. I will happily admit that, generally speaking, I perceive that infanticide is probably best avoided. However, I can think of several scenarios whereby infanticide might be justifiable and so I cannot truthfully say that infanticide is always wrong. Nor can I say that it is always right but that is by-the-by, or at least one would hope so (!).
Yet you''ve ignored by reasons for my objection.

Some bizarre hypothetical cases may exist but such examples are usually absurd.
Would you murder your own child to save 1 million people? How would such a situation would occur?

The point of ethics and morality is to focus what actually happens in reality not some made up situation.
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dozyrosie
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Infanticide occurs in the animal kingdom too, I think the (too few) answers have demonstrated the superiority of humans and our desire to not be part of the animal kingdom at all. So is infanticide really wrong or is it just a consequence of survival?
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Illiberal Liberal
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(Original post by Falcatas)
The point of ethics and morality is to focus what actually happens in reality not some made up situation.
Philosophical ideas are most interesting when they are tested to their extremes through thought experiments (which consist almost entirely of made up situations).
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Falcatas
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(Original post by Law-Hopeful)
Philosophical ideas are most interesting when they are tested to their extremes through thought experiments (which consist almost entirely of made up situations).
True, but they do little to actually help our current existence.

Often people criticise ideas what just coming up with "What if X...?" and absurd examples as a counter argument.
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Falcatas
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(Original post by douglas merritte)
In another thread somewhere, I have used a similar argument to you to attack the idea of equality amongst humans. It was something along the lines of, 'Equality is a fanciful concept and has no relation to the real world'. However, I don't think the possible justifications for infanticide are as far-fetched as the impossible ideal of equality.

To clarify, would you count switching off a life-support machine as an act of infanticide? To take it one step further (or back, depending on your perspective) one could argue that smoking whilst pregnant is a form of infanticide, no?

One more very pertinent question - what is so special about the point of birth that it automatically imbues a being with such a sense of worth? You accuse me of ignoring your argument but you'll have to forgive me for I do not recall you providing one. On the other hand, you have certainly avoided this question once already. I shall assume that you are not so close-minded as to be pro-life and so I wonder, what is the reason for your attaching such significance to the act of birth? I too naturally recoil at the thought of killing a baby but it seems rational to ask - if you support abortion, why does the cut-off point finish where it does... why not at 6 months old? Or 2 years old?

As a point of interest, I currently work with a former funeral director and they have told me that burying a baby was not so traumatic as you might imagine, for these were more undeveloped, personality-less objects than fully-formed characters. Indeed, my own mother suffered a still-birth before having me and although I should never wish to call her cruel, she only ever mentioned it once or twice.

And as a side-note, infanticide has been incredibly common throughout history.
Believing one can incur obligations by the cause of their own actions is not "close minded".
While I am not for restrictions against abortion ( just defunded from taxpayer money), Abortion is not a good thing. It involves the stopping of a beating heart.
The woman does own her own body and it can be argued that the fetus is trespassing if she withdraws consent but regardless she is to blame for why the fetus is now trepassing (the fetus was forced into its status as a trepasser). If abortion was removing a fetus from a woman intact and without killing it, there would be no objection.

Assuming the woman was not raped, (otherwise she has no obligation) she acted in a way that forced another into that situation.

If I invite you for a ride in my hot air balloon I have an obligation not to suddenly change my mind and throw you out 10000 ft in the air. By ordering and eating food at a restaurant you have incurred an obligation to pay for it.

I can understand perhaps valuing an adult life (who has experienced a lot) over a new baby (who hasn't developed as personality or experienced anything). But this is not do with the question.

Infantcide in most cases is without a doubt murder. Some cases like killing a horribly sick baby who is suffering and has no hope to recover are debatable however.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by Falcatas)
I couldn't care less what Peter Singer thinks.

You have an obligation to take care of (or find someone who will) your child.

Parents have forced the child into existence without its consent or permission and have a duty to make sure it is taken care for.
I hope you don't eat meat, milk, eggs or use leather, suede etc.
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viddy9
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(Original post by dozyrosie)
Is it wrong?
A newborn infant, as Peter Singer points out, is neither rational nor self-aware, and thus has no interest in continuing to live. If the procedure is carried out painlessly, I see no reason to view it as morally wrong. To say that it is morally wrong would be akin to saying that it's wrong to kick a stone down the road because one will harm it.

That said, in the vast majority of cases, I can't think of any reason why someone would want to commit infanticide.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Parents have forced the child into existence without its consent or permission and have a duty to make sure it is taken care for.
What? How could it have possibly consented in the first place?

Caring for a being usually means that you aim to satisfy its preferences and minimise its suffering. A newborn infant can't be taken care of when discussing life and death because it does not understand the concept.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Some bizarre hypothetical cases may exist but such examples are usually absurd.
Would you murder your own child to save 1 million people? How would such a situation would occur?
If you read Singer's book, Practical Ethics, he cites a number of cases in which newborn infants have had to be euthanised; that is, an action was taken such that their hearts stopped beating.

As a result, we do not require wildly implausible scenarios to discuss this issue. Furthermore, we're discussing whether the act itself is wrong, not whether the reasons for carrying out the act are bizarre or not, and I contend that the act itself can very possibly not be wrong at all.

(Original post by Falcatas)
The point of ethics and morality is to focus what actually happens in reality not some made up situation...
Philosophical thought-experiments exist so that we can determine whether one's beliefs are logical and consistent - as others have pointed out, this is philosophy. Moreover, they will often have a direct bearing on reality.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Abortion is not a good thing. It involves the stopping of a beating heart
Interesting pro-life position. I take it you're a vegan, then?

(Original post by Falcatas)
If I invite you for a ride in my hot air balloon I have an obligation not to suddenly change my mind and throw you out 10000 ft in the air.
The difference lies in the fact that the newborn infant has no interest in continuing to live, whereas those who have replied to you on this thread do. That is, you do have an obligation to take into account any relevant interests and weigh them equally, but an infant, in a life and death situation, has no interests. It can, however, feel pain and suffer, so throwing an infant from a hot air balloon would still be morally wrong.
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dozyrosie
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I don't see why the vegan or vegetarian argument is used here, we are after all omnivores, but do we eat babies?
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viddy9
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(Original post by dozyrosie)
I don't see why the vegan or vegetarian argument is used here
If, as Falcatas says, the stopping of a beating heart is morally wrong, it is reasonable to probe into this assertion more deeply. Falcatas doesn't seem to like thought-experiments, so we can give a real example instead: by his logic, the killing of nonhuman animals in the meat industry is likewise wrong.

(To digress slightly and address what you were saying, the rationalizations that meat-eaters often offer, i.e "animals are less intelligent" could also be used to justify eating human infants as well. To paraphrase Jeremy Bentham, an adult pig is beyond comparison a more rational, intelligent, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old.)
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Falcatas
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(Original post by viddy9)

What? How could it have possibly consented in the first place?
It couldn't but it doesn't matter it did not choose its own fate, it was brought into the world by the actions of others.


If you read Singer's book, Practical Ethics, he cites a number of cases in which newborn infants have had to be euthanised; that is, an action was taken such that their hearts stopped beating.

As a result, we do not require wildly implausible scenarios to discuss this issue. Furthermore, we're discussing whether the act itself is wrong, not whether the reasons for carrying out the act are bizarre or not, and I contend that the act itself can very possibly not be wrong at all.
Why had too? If it was because they could not viably live in long term, that is understandable or perhaps they have severe genetic conditions.

Ok if it just the act itself then no.

However I think it is safe to say that Infanticide is wrong is most cases.
There are very few cases where it wouldn't be.

Philosophical thought-experiments exist so that we can determine whether one's beliefs are logical and consistent - as others have pointed out, this is philosophy. Moreover, they will often have a direct bearing on reality.
Yes but there some absurd situations that are suggested like stealing a penny in order to save the world.


Interesting pro-life position. I take it you're a vegan, then?
No, animals are not humans. I am an extreme specist *gasp*
Although if animals were capable of rationally thinking and able to understand concepts such as rights then it would be different.

I guess I should have specified human hearts.


The difference lies in the fact that the newborn infant has no interest in continuing to live, whereas those who have replied to you on this thread do. That is, you do have an obligation to take into account any relevant interests and weigh them equally, but an infant, in a life and death situation, has no interests. It can, however, feel pain and suffer, so throwing an infant from a hot air balloon would still be morally wrong.
Interest doesn't matter. There are people who wish to die. Killing them without permission would still be murder. Of course they can consent and voluntarily asked to be killed which is fine.

Also newborn infant do have an interest to live which is why they cry demanding attention so they can live.
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viddy9
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(Original post by Falcatas)
It couldn't but it doesn't matter it did not choose its own fate, it was brought into the world by the actions of others.
Where did you get the idea that we have an obligation to the child, though? Do you have a source of knowledge that I'm not aware of?

(Original post by Falcatas)
No, animals are not humans. I am an extreme specist *gasp*
Humans are animals, but not all animals are humans. And, yes, I do gasp at the fact that you subscribe to an irrational ideology.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Although if animals were capable of rationally thinking and able to understand concepts such as rights then it would be different.
Why would it be different then? Why does rational thinking and understanding of rights give one these rights? Do severely intellectually disabled humans not have rights because they're not capable of rationally thinking and understanding concepts such as rights?

(Original post by Falcatas)
Interest doesn't matter. Of course they can consent and voluntarily asked to be killed which is fine.
Interest does matter. One can't claim that one is harming an object or a being if they have no interest in avoiding an action. The fact that you would ask for consent essentially means that you are considering people's interests.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Also newborn infant do have an interest to live which is why they cry demanding attention so they can live.
No, they cry to satisfy their very short-term needs. These needs may contribute to their survival, but they aren't aware of this. Similarly, many nonhuman animals engage in actions to demand our attention to satisfy their short-term needs, which may contribute to their survival, but they aren't aware that it contributes to their survival.

A newborn infant would not object to being killed, and neither do most nonhuman animals (primates, dolphins, whales, elephants and some birds probably do, however).
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Falcatas
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(Original post by viddy9)
Where did you get the idea that we have an obligation to the child, though? Do you have a source of knowledge that I'm not aware of?
Like I said before, your own actions can make you occur obligations.
If not, how why is it not permissible to starve your own children?

I have no obligation to help a person who is dying of starvation. If I refuse to help him, I certainly would be a jerk but I did not force him into such a situation.

Parents however are responsible for creating a baby and as soon as the that baby is born, is now responsible for the baby who is now is a very vulnerable state. This is because babies will die pretty quickly if they do not have assistance.

Humans are animals, but not all animals are humans. And, yes, I do gasp at the fact that you subscribe to an irrational ideology.


Why would it be different then? Why does rational thinking and understanding of rights give one these rights? Do severely intellectually disabled humans not have rights because they're not capable of rationally thinking and understanding concepts such as rights?
Because they are still human. Young children and babies aren't full capable of understand right either but they still are humans.

Do you not recognise the difference between humans and animals? Animals cannot to any higher type of thinking along the lines of morality.
Humans are special, we are unique.

I am not suggest humans are somehow divine or intrinsically more important but rather more important but of their unique abilities to reason etc.





Interest does matter. One can't claim that one is harming an object or a being if they have no interest in avoiding an action. The fact that you would ask for consent essentially means that you are considering people's interests.

Interest cannot always be known though. When it is known it then usually becomes consent.

Not objecting is not the same as consent.

No, they cry to satisfy their very short-term needs. These needs may contribute to their survival, but they aren't aware of this. Similarly, many nonhuman animals engage in actions to demand our attention to satisfy their short-term needs, which may contribute to their survival, but they aren't aware that it contributes to their survival.

A newborn infant would not object to being killed, and neither do most nonhuman animals (primates, dolphins, whales, elephants and some birds probably do, however).
That is because a newborn infant can't physically express or display its interest.

You seem to be suggesting it is fine to kill people if they have no interest in being alive. This demands the person being capable of expressing their interest.

I would at least require them to actively declare their interest in being killed because I would say killing is permissible.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by dozyrosie)
I don't see why the vegan or vegetarian argument is used here, we are after all omnivores, but do we eat babies?
What does having the ability to digest meat have to do with the morality of eating meat?

I can beat up children, that doesn't make that moral though.
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viddy9
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(Original post by Falcatas)
Like I said before, your own actions can make you occur obligations.
And as I said before, why do our own actions make us incur obligations? You're just asserting that they do, but why is this the case? Or is it just your opinion?

(Original post by Falcatas)
If not, how why is it not permissible to starve your own children?
It's not permissible to starve one's own children because they have a preference to be adequately nourished, and starving one's children would frustrate this preference. This has nothing to do with whether I am responsible for their predicament or not, and everything to do with the fact that, like me, my hypothetical children would be sentient beings who wish their preferences to be satisfied.

(Original post by Falcatas)
I have no obligation to help a person who is dying of starvation. If I refuse to help him, I certainly would be a jerk but I did not force him into such a situation.
You're forcing him into such a situation by not helping him. Let's say that you become aware that a piece of machinery in your workplace is faulty and that if it is not repaired then there will soon be an accident which will result in someone losing the use of their legs. Are you morally obligated to tell someone about it?

(Original post by Falcatas)
Parents however are responsible for creating a baby and as soon as the that baby is born, is now responsible for the baby who is now is a very vulnerable state. This is because babies will die pretty quickly if they do not have assistance.
The key point here is that we should satisfy the infant's interests by feeding it, sheltering it, and so on. An infant does not have an interest in continuing to live, however.

Whether or not we are responsible, in some way, for the infant's predicament is irrelevant. If I found an infant on a street without its parents, I would be morally obligated to help it by at least contacting the appropriate authorities, irrespective of whether I was responsible for putting it in that condition.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Because they are still human. Young children and babies aren't full capable of understand right either but they still are humans.
Aha, so your true reason for not giving weight to the interests of nonhuman animals is that they're not human animals.

Your position has nothing to do with understanding rights or being able to think rationally, then: if you still believe that severely intellectually disabled humans and human infants have rights that nonhuman animals do not have, then it's got nothing to do with understanding rights or thinking rationally, and everything to do with the fact that the former are members of the species Homo sapiens and the latter are not.

But, why should being human matter? Is it that we have two legs rather than four, or that we have 46 chromosomes? You can't say that it's because humans understand rights and are able to think rationally, because human infants and severely intellectually disabled humans can't.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Do you not recognise the difference between humans and animals? Animals cannot to any higher type of thinking along the lines of morality. Humans are special, we are unique. I am not suggest humans are somehow divine or intrinsically more important but rather more important but of their unique abilities to reason etc.
There are differences between humans and nonhuman animals, but there are also differences between some nonhuman animals and others. And, moral behaviour and empathy has actually been observed in many nonhuman animals, from mice to primates, as have complex social and emotional bonds. Pigs can outcompete human infants in video games, and chimpanzees can outperform humans of any age on some memory tests.

Finally, once again, human infants and severely intellectually disabled humans can't think in temrs of morality and don't have the unique abilities to reason that most humans have. So, again, why should being human matter? You can't say that it's because humans understand rights and are able to think rationally, because human infants and severely intellectually disabled humans can't.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Interest cannot always be known though. When it is known it then usually becomes consent.
When it is not known, but the being is capable of having an interest, then you should obviously not do anything without their consent.

(Original post by Falcatas)
That is because a newborn infant can't physically express or display its interest.
No, that's because human infants are neither rational nor self-aware. They don't yet have the capacity to even hold an interest in continuing to live. Like most nonhuman animals, they merely have very short-term desires, but they physically cannot object to dying because they don't understand the concept.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Interest cannot always be known though. When it is known it then usually becomes consent.
When it is not known, but the being is capable of having a preference to continue to live, then you should obviously not do anything without their consent. But, human infants are not capable of having an interest in continuing to live.

(Original post by Falcatas)
You seem to be suggesting it is fine to kill people if they have no interest in being alive. This demands the person being capable of expressing their interest.
We know that newborn infants can't have an interest in continuing to live. So, even if they could express their interests, continuing to go on living wouldn't be one of them.
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Falcatas
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(Original post by viddy9)
And as I said before, why do our own actions make us incur obligations? You're just asserting that they do, but why is this the case? Or is it just your opinion?


It's not permissible to starve one's own children because they have a preference to be adequately nourished, and starving one's children would frustrate this preference. This has nothing to do with whether I am responsible for their predicament or not, and everything to do with the fact that, like me, my hypothetical children would be sentient beings who wish their preferences to be satisfied.

Yes, it is my subjective moral opinion but isn't your subjective moral opinion that a children's preference for living outweighs my preference for letting them starve?
Who's preference is 'worth more' and how do we calculate such worth?


You're forcing him into such a situation by not helping him. Let's say that you become aware that a piece of machinery in your workplace is faulty and that if it is not repaired then there will soon be an accident which will result in someone losing the use of their legs. Are you morally obligated to tell someone about it?
No I am not, if I was not there he would still starve. I am not responsible for him.
If I am not the owner/manager or person responsible for said piece of machinery I would not be obligated to tell anyone. This example doesn't involve an action also as only the person themselves can know if they are aware. The fault is with who is however is responsible for the machinery at time.


The key point here is that we should satisfy the infant's interests by feeding it, sheltering it, and so on. An infant does not have an interest in continuing to live, however.
Again, why is the infants interest above my interest to not feed it?


Whether or not we are responsible, in some way, for the infant's predicament is irrelevant. If I found an infant on a street without its parents, I would be morally obligated to help it by at least contacting the appropriate authorities, irrespective of whether I was responsible for putting it in that condition.
I think you should but would not say you are morally obligated.
If you are obligated to do something then it is permissible to use violence or force (not excessive of course) against you if do not do so.
Helping an infant find its parents is a good thing to do but I don't think it is fine to use violence to make sure that you do.



Aha, so your true reason for not giving weight to the interests of nonhuman animals is that they're not human animals.

Your position has nothing to do with understanding rights or being able to think rationally, then: if you still believe that severely intellectually disabled humans and human infants have rights that nonhuman animals do not have, then it's got nothing to do with understanding rights or thinking rationally, and everything to do with the fact that the former are members of the species Homo sapiens and the latter are not.

But, why should being human matter? Is it that we have two legs rather than four, or that we have 46 chromosomes? You can't say that it's because humans understand rights and are able to think rationally, because human infants and severely intellectually disabled humans can't.
Well I can if it only requires one being to be able rationally think or respect rights to confer the same status to the whole species.
Surely you must be horrified by how everyone one seems to regard animals as inferior to some degree. I mean we are allowed to 'own' animals. Why is this allowed?


There are differences between humans and nonhuman animals, but there are also differences between some nonhuman animals and others. And, moral behaviour and empathy has actually been observed in many nonhuman animals, from mice to primates, as have complex social and emotional bonds. Pigs can human infants in video games, and chimpanzees can outperform humans of any age on some memory tests.
It is true that some animals are more intelligent than others and even newborn humans. But some humans are more intelligent than other humans.
Is a pig's interest more important than a baby's interest because pigs are more intelligent (or a greater capacity to think)?


Finally, once again, human infants and severely intellectually disabled humans can't think in temrs of morality and don't have the unique abilities to reason that most humans have. So, again, why should being human matter? You can't say that it's because humans understand rights and are able to think rationally, because human infants and severely intellectually disabled humans can't.
They are members of a species that can. Perhaps if a pig could think in terms of morality and think rationally (to a the degree most human can) and respect rights we should treat all pigs on a basis equal to humans (ie not being able to own them or slaughter them).

Should humans and animals have completely the same 'rights' if any?



When it is not known, but the being is capable of having a preference to continue to live, then you should obviously not do anything without their consent. But, human infants are not capable of having an interest in continuing to live.
Babies cannot consent though, do parents have to gain consent to be able to feed their baby or move them around?




We know that newborn infants can't have an interest in continuing to live. So, even if they could express their interests, continuing to go on living wouldn't be one of them.
How do you know they don't? How do you know they have a interest to be fed?
There is no way to known anyone else's interests (without them declaring them to you)

You can know your own interests but I don't see how you can use this to assumes other people's interests.

Interest is a subjective personal preference, it cannot be used to attempt to come up with some sort of objective standard for ethics (if even such exists).
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viddy9
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(Original post by Falcatas)
Yes, it is my subjective moral opinion but isn't your subjective moral opinion that a children's preference for living outweighs my preference for letting them starve? Interest is a subjective personal preference, it cannot be used to attempt to come up with some sort of objective standard for ethics (if even such exists).
The consideration of preferences, first of all, is not subjective moral opinion. Maximising the preference-satisfaction of all sentient beings is an objective moral truth.

Every sentient being aims to minimise its own suffering and maximise the satisfaction of its interests. However, there is no rational justification for anyone to assign more importance to their suffering, or their interests, than to anyone else's: their suffering is no less real when they experience it than when you do. Thus, if we are to aim to minimise our suffering, and maximise the satisfaction of our interests – which it is impossible not to – it logically follows that we are obligated to do the same for others.

Or, as the philosopher Magnus Vinding put it: suffering and its inherent badness is a fact about consciousness, and this is not a made-up value statement, anymore than the assertion that the moon exists is a made-up value statement and something we could decide to change. We cannot just decide that suffering is not bad, where suffering is defined as the frustration of people's preferences.

Hence, we come as close to an objective morality as possible, in the form of utilitarianism; specifically, preference utilitarianism. This moral system is also universal, given that there is not a sentient being out there which does not try to maximise the satisfaction of its interests, and minimise its suffering.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Who's preference is 'worth more' and how do we calculate such worth?
We weigh the preferences using a test of universalizability. Which preference would you rather be left unsatisfied, the preference not to starve, or the preference to starve a child? Humans' interests and moral intuitions are broadly the same, so it's logical to use this answer to weigh preferences. Essentially, we use a version of the Golden Rule to weigh the preferences, and it's clear that we'd rather have the preference to starve the child left unsatisfied rather than the preference not to starve.

To put it another way, would you be willing to starve in order to starve the child? It's almost certain that the answer is no.

Ergo, you should not allow the child to starve.

(Original post by Falcatas)
No I am not, if I was not there he would still starve. I am not responsible for him.
If I am not the owner/manager or person responsible for said piece of machinery I would not be obligated to tell anyone. This example doesn't involve an action also as only the person themselves can know if they are aware. The fault is with who is however is responsible for the machinery at time.
Well, as I say, I think you're violating an objective moral truth when giving this answer.

(Original post by Falcatas)
I think you should but would not say you are morally obligated. If you are obligated to do something then it is permissible to use violence or force (not excessive of course) against you if do not do so. Helping an infant find its parents is a good thing to do but I don't think it is fine to use violence to make sure that you do.
In an ideal world, we would use the threat of violence to help make sure an infant finds its parents. In practice, however, this would lead to negative consequences that outweigh any good that comes from it, i.e. a government watching your every move and scrutinising whether you are maximising the preference-satisfaction of everyone.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Well I can if it only requires one being to be able rationally think or respect rights to confer the same status to the whole species.
That's completely illogical. A species, first of all, is an incredibly loosely defined term in biology. Evolutionary biology has taught us that relations between all living beings are on a continuum: there are no non-arbitrary dividing lines.

Secondly, a species, even if it could be well-defined, simply cannot hold characteristics. Only individuals can.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Surely you must be horrified by how everyone one seems to regard animals as inferior to some degree. I mean we are allowed to 'own' animals. Why is this allowed?
Of course I'm horrified - although there are plenty of people out there who are anti-speciesist. It's allowed because we still haven't overcome speciesism to anywhere near the degree we've overcome racism and sexism.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Is a pig's interest more important than a baby's interest because pigs are more intelligent (or a greater capacity to think)?
A pig's interest in avoiding suffering is equally as important as a human infant's, and its interest in continuing to live is more important, other things being equal. This is because humans and nonhuman animals suffer equally, and adult pigs are more rational and self-aware than human infants.

(Original post by Falcatas)
They are members of a species that can. Perhaps if a pig could think in terms of morality and think rationally (to a the degree most human can) and respect rights we should treat all pigs on a basis equal to humans (ie not being able to own them or slaughter them).
Well, as I've said above, this is an illogical position. I think you're moving the goalposts as well: whenever you've said something to justify giving special consideration to the interests of humans, and I've shown it not to be valid, you then come up with another excuse.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Should humans and animals have completely the same 'rights' if any?
Jeremy Bentham called rights "nonsense on stilts", and I agree with him to some extent. Neither humans nor nonhuman animals should have 'rights', because there are always situations in which 'rights' ought to be violated in order to maximise utility.

However, rights are an important framework on a societal level. Humans and animals should have an equal right not to suffer, certainly. Of course, they shouldn't have completely the same rights: a chicken should not have the right to vote in an election because a chicken does not understand the concept of an election. Neither does a human infant, hence it does not have the right to vote.

(Original post by Falcatas)
Babies cannot consent though, do parents have to gain consent to be able to feed their baby or move them around?
We know that babies have an interest in being fed, regardless, because of behavioural responses and the fact that they have the same neurophysiological structures as we do when it comes to basic needs such as being fed.
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(Original post by viddy9)
The consideration of preferences, first of all, is not subjective moral opinion. Maximising the preference-satisfaction of all sentient beings is an objective moral truth.
Again how do you measure this maximum preference-satisfaction without knowing all the individual preferences, these of which are subjective.



Every sentient being aims to minimise its own suffering and maximise the satisfaction of its interests. However, there is no rational justification for anyone to assign more importance to their suffering, or their interests, than to anyone else's: their suffering is no less real when they experience it than when you do. Thus, if we are to aim to minimise our suffering, and maximise the satisfaction of our interests – which it is impossible not to – it logically follows that we are obligated to do the same for others.
Maximising the satisfaction of our interests and minimising our suffering sounds like getting everything we want. This is impossible to do universally because our interests conflict with others.


Or, as the philosopher Magnus Vinding put it: suffering and its inherent badness is a fact about consciousness, and this is not a made-up value statement, anymore than the assertion that the moon exists is a made-up value statement and something we could decide to change. We cannot just decide that suffering is not bad, where suffering is defined as the frustration of people's preferences.

Hence, we come as close to an objective morality as possible, in the form of utilitarianism; specifically, preference utilitarianism. This moral system is also universal, given that there is not a sentient being out there which does not try to maximise the satisfaction of its interests, and minimise its suffering.
But it sounds like that system would entail positive obligations on people. Being obligated to help someone (whose suffering was not caused by you) suggests that violence is justified for that person to help that suffering person. Obligations are things we 'must do' rather than things that are aesthetically good.

There are such things that are universally preferable, (they are preferable but certainly not preferred). Examples are like not being murdered or not being raped. Only behaviour can be described as such.
Not suffering (frustration of people's preferences) cannot be universally preferable because our interests and preferences conflict with each other. Someone will always be frustrated because of someone else's preferences.

We weigh the preferences using a test of universalizability. Which preference would you rather be left unsatisfied, the preference not to starve, or the preference to starve a child? Humans' interests and moral intuitions are broadly the same, so it's logical to use this answer to weigh preferences. Essentially, we use a version of the Golden Rule to weigh the preferences, and it's clear that we'd rather have the preference to starve the child left unsatisfied rather than the preference not to starve.

To put it another way, would you be willing to starve in order to starve the child? It's almost certain that the answer is no.

Ergo, you should not allow the child to starve.
What I do (or anyone else for that matter) is not what is universal.

The golden rule is certainly a good rule of thumb but cannot be applied here because the child is creating a obligation or demand for you to feed them.

You are still suggesting we have obligations for others even if we have caused no actions. You took issue with me suggesting our actions makes us incur obligations but your condition for obligations is even stronger (positive obligations). These obligations are unavoidable.

There are many children starving in the world. It is permissible to use violence to force people to help these children? If so you have now judged one preference over another and it is now in the realm of subjectivity.


As for 'rights' I do agree they are mostly nonsense. A better way of thinking about things is what cannot be universally preferable and proscribed such things.
There is no need to say "We have a right to life." If people believe "Murder is wrong."
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