Sentience should not be the only threshold for our moral consideration. An ethical system that considers wellbeing would transform our relationship with the world around us | Peter Godfrey Smith

  1. In this talk, philosopher and author of Other Minds and Metazoa Peter Godfrey-Smith argues that the discussion of normative ethics surrounding non-human life ignores important meta ethical questions. He suggests there are no evaluative facts to be discovered that can guide us in asking which forms of life are worthy of consideration, and sets out a framework for creating valuative principles that can guide our treatment of the living world.

  2. So, as a person who wrote their Masters on well-being, I find this hard to parse given that well-being is normally construed as a mental phenomena. That is, I don’t know what it would mean for something to be non-sentient yet to still have well-being. Sure, there are theories of well-being that don’t rely on that, like objective list theories, but they’re generally viewed as weak and incomplete.

  3. this is such a common occurrence especially on this site that i've just started culling any half baked and/or far fetched essay immediately from my memory before getting too invested in it.

  4. I've never seen it argued before that well-being is a mental phenomena. I could see the argument that well-being only makes sense for living things; but are you arguing that if you were to consider whether or not to cut down a tree from the perspective of the well-being of the tree that you would have any difficulty arriving at the answer of 'no'?

  5. I feel like this shouldn't be some major breakthrough, a bit saddening to see it being sold as "check this new one out".

  6. At 12:00 minutes he says that there is now better Empirical evidence for Sentience among animals and seems to put great store in it.

  7. Sentience is the capacity for subjective experience. If you accept animals can feel pleasure or pain, you've already accepted their sentience.

  8. I mean, its a pretty big point of contention that the current ecosystem is moral at all. I'm not convinced that nature as it has operated for the last 4 billion years is inherently moral. We may be obligated to radically overhaul nature.

  9. We have concept of "alive" already, and the main feature that makes this category is the ability to suffer. Although sentience is not binary, we do not need to regard animals as sentient to empathize with their suffering.

  10. I dislike the whole line of thinking around sentience and now this well-being. I don't think it's sensible for humanity to be held responsible for the wellbeing of all creatures or all life, at least such as are not directly in our care.

  11. How does this outlook deal with suicide? Wellbeing would be best suited by any large predator or herbivore killing itself to feed microbes and plants more than a pyramid of concentrating water, meat, lives and potential for thriving in one organism rather than photosynthesisers.

  12. A rabid raccoon in a cage was having seizure after seizure, and I thought, we know what rabies does, there is no scientific value to letting this animal continue to suffer.

  13. Well being of what, rocks and landscapes? Personally I think the wellbeing of the mona lisa or a specific view in zion park is worth more than some piggies, a tough and complicated problem.

  14. First, any philosophic consideration of ethics that doesn't address Hume's Is/Ought problem is IMO not worth serious consideration. How do you go from "Doing X will change the world to make it more Y" to "Thus everyone should do X"? Any sort of reasoning like that is logically flawed. It assumes that everyone will want the world to be more Y but there will always be people who don't want or care if the world is more Y. I'm not saying there aren't solutions to Hume's problem, I think there are but if you don't address it then you haven't done serious work on ethics no matter what else you say. Second, where is the evidence that treating non-sentient things ethically will "transform our relationship with the world around us"? I mean I guess it obviously will but how do we know that transformation will be something that most people desire? And where do we draw the line? Do I have to avoid skipping stones off the lake because I'm taking the stone away from its home? Or to be a bit more serious: we do all sorts of experiments on animals from flat worms to primates that we would never do on humans. Do we have to stop doing that?

  15. Don't think any philosopher claims there are universal morals though, however minimising harm sounds good to me. Don't think anyone is calling people evil either, good people can make immoral decisions too

  16. Personally I view reciprocity as the most important threshold. Which is suppose entails sentience. Any being that is fundamentally incapable of reciprocating moral behavior does not deserve moral consideration. Can I make a deal with a tiger that we not kill each other? A chimp? A dolphin?

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