132 karmaJoined Jul 2015


Fai, thanks for your article. Interesting thoughts. I do think that my book might be interesting to you  (Sjlver thanks for mentioning it) - it's certainly relevant for this discussion. I give several examples in it of how moral attitude change is easier achieved after having alternatives (technological ones being one kind of them). I like what Sam Harris said (or quoted) somewhere: that cultivated meat could be the technological revolution that precedes the moral revolution. I think it's entirely likely that moral arguments will more easily find a firm footing and be more palatable when people know they don't have much to lose.  

(As a side note, person-affecting views seem to be defined rather consistently as the views that an outcome can only be bad if it is bad for people. It seems to be better to replace this with for sentient beings)

Thanks for this post :)
Fun and not fun: sometimes i get out "The book of horrible questions". It's a real book that asks if you would do a certain horrible/digusting action x for an amount of money y. If one is EA and takes into account that you can donate the money, you almost always have to say yes. Like I said, fun to play, though they outcome this way is not fun like you intend it :)

Exactly. I'm actually a bit puzzled as to why this needs to be made explicit. When we say "indifferent about making happy people", it seems hard to interpret this as indifferent about whether future people will be happy or not. Or am I misreading something here?

Richard, I do agree that the "indifferent to making happy people" view can lead to that sort of conclusion, that sounds indeed nihilistic. But I find it hard to find good arguments against it. I don't find it obvious to say that a situation where there's beings who are experiencing something is better than a situation where there's no beings to experience anything at all. Reason 1) is that no one suffers from that absence of experience, reason 2) is that at least this also guarantees that there's no horrible suffering. This might be very counterintuitive to some (or many) but I also feel that as soon as there is one creature suffering horrible for a prolonged amount of time, it might maybe be better to have nothing at all (see e.g. Omelas: do we want that world or would we rather having nothing at all?)

Thanks. This is exactly what I can't understand. If Michael was already alive, then yes, a great party is great for him. If he's not alive, he is not able to care about the party.  I do not think it makes a difference whether there's 10 or a 1000 people enjoying this wonderful party (and I am aware that this leads to strange conclusions). 
Like I said in the title of the OP, I'm confused because 1. it remains hard to understand this other view and 2. I know that many very smart people take the other view. So I feel there's something I'm missing :-)


Thank you both. 
I think my intuition is like Amber's here. Obviously I care about any human that will be born as soon as they are born, but I cannot seem to make myself about how many humans there will be (unless that number has an impact on the ones that are around). 

Thank you both. Yes, what Michael wrote here below is what I meant (I thought it was obvious but maybe it's not):

"When people say they're indifferent to creating happy people, they could just mean relative to not creating them at all, not relative to creating people who would be less happy. This is what I usually have in mind."

i agree with the 80/20 idea, and i wonder we apparently 98% of our movement keeps stuck in black and white thinking. for instance in this case, we are apparently thinking that the question to what level of consumption the vegans are sliding back is irrelevant, but it's not, of course. for one thing, moderate use still saves a lot of animals, for another, every reducer helps make full time veganism more easy, by increasing demand (and thus the supply), the social acceptability, the convenience with which to eat vegan etc... a society where 60% of people are 75% vegan is probably a lot better and closer to a vegan society than one where 10% of the people are full time vegan...

also, something jonathan saffran foer told me: you know the example of the guy that eats meat again because once he was at an airport and it was the only thing he could it? he fell back entirely. i think that has to do with the fact that we see veganism too much as an identity, and as something binary. when we fail, we might as well give up

i know the second point is perhaps in contradiction with the first, but maybe they both have some merit somewhere...

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