Short Story: "Dogs"

Plain old discussion of Alicorn stories.

Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby MaggieoftheOwls » Sun Aug 30, 2015 3:44 pm

And it's strongly implied that the reason she's not advocating revivalism has less to do with personal laziness and more to do with revivalism being publicly considered the moral equivalent of Nazism.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby DeAnno » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:25 pm

jalapeno_dude wrote:(except for how you can possibly take acausal bargains seriously without being a utilitarian; maybe you're calling "explicitly not a utilitarian" is what I'd call "having a selfish utility function")


Yes, that, though it's a bit more complicated than pure "selfishness" in execution. I am not sure that I buy that acausal reasoning is effective, but even without it, it is easy to imagine wiping out all animal life as being what tilts on some other race's moral scale to the point that they decide to wipe us out. It registers to me as a very nasty action, and those tend to provoke like responses. After all, if we got the upper hand on the other race, who's to say we wouldn't invent some more fancy moral reasoning and use it to decide to wipe them out too?
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby Alicorn » Sun Aug 30, 2015 4:54 pm

It is possible to take acausal bargains seriously without being a utilitarian. I have no idea why it wouldn't be, what do these things have to do with each other?
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby DanielH » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:25 pm

I don’t know why acausal bargains are connected to utilitarianism.

I find myself agreeing with the protagonists on several points, although I think animal/human communication is better than they seem to and that this is relevant to some of their conclusions. Except for this, and granting some technological and societal benefit of the doubt, I almost fully agree. Animals take food and attention that could be better enjoyed by humans. As somebody pointed out above, SMBC (not xkcd) was leaning too heavily on the noncentral fallacy with the word “genocide”. If humans existed without animals, it would not be necessary to invent sentient things with limited intelligence and communication skills (note: use of link does not imply Alicorn agrees with my position).

I also feel like Lady Clara was not the best advocate for revivalism (not a criticism of the story given the audience). All the arguments she presented aloud were for the “I want an animal” point, not mentioning the welfare of the animals at all. I still feel some sympathy for her, though: I also have beliefs so far outside the Overton window that I would want some pretty extreme security before discussing them.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby DanielH » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:13 pm

Since nobody responded in a while I wanted to clarify two things:

1. I emphasized things poorly in my last post. In general, I don’t agree with the protagonists. I said that “I almost fully agree” under certain assumptions. Those assumptions are pretty big, though; only a small space of potential futures would actually fall into those assumptions. It is unclear whether the story universe fits or not, so I could give the benefit of the doubt. ONLY IF I grant that benefit of the doubt do I agree. These assumptions include my being wrong about how well humans can understand animals (in the present tense based on my not being around nonhuman animals much), other communication technologies including fMRIs not actually working well, and animals not having lives worth living.

I could also see causing the Last Extinction deliberately for reasons only partially related to animal welfare, but that gets into specific ways of handling the the repugnant conclusion and various other metaethical principles. This doesn’t seem relevant to the story because it doesn’t seem to be the historical reason animals were actually eradicated.

2. My purpose talking about beliefs outside the Overton window was twofold¹. One, I wanted to give a new perspective on Lady Clara’s position relative to the rest of society, and two I wanted to start discussing Lady Clara’s infosec procedures. I said I would want extreme security before discussing some of my beliefs, and I was hoping somebody would chime in about the ethics of amnestics. Since nobody did, I’ll say that I think amnestics as portrayed in the story should be heavily controlled even for use by consenting individuals, because there is too much opportunity for somebody to exert undue pressure on somebody else. I’m not saying they should be outright illegal, but I think this particular use might be unethical.

¹ Having beliefs outside the Overton window merely means having beliefs which, if spoken aloud, would cause some sort of negative consequence you don’t like. These beliefs could be “in some cases it is okay to murder babies”, “animals are a net negative on the world”, “the people of the same gender and different races should be allowed to marry each other”, “we should consider sharing Warp technology with others”, etc. Unless you think that society is correct about everything, merely having beliefs outside the Overton window is not bad. It means that I think that there is some moral issue society is violently wrong about.
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