Short Story: "Dogs"

Plain old discussion of Alicorn stories.

Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby Alicorn » Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:44 am

Dogs. Science fiction, < 2,500 words.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby Bluelantern » Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:22 pm

So. I was supposed to be left confused about the moral implications of this story? o.O
Sorry for my bad english

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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby Alicorn » Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:23 pm

People seem to have SHARP disagreements on the moral value of the premise, it's fun!
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby Bluelantern » Sat Aug 29, 2015 12:32 pm

Alicorn wrote:People seem to have SHARP disagreements on the moral value of the premise, it's fun!

yeah, I can see why.

Also, of course it is fun to you.
Sorry for my bad english

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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby rockeye_stonetoe » Sat Aug 29, 2015 1:59 pm

I don't enjoy pets, but I still find myself siding with dog-lady on this one.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby DeAnno » Sat Aug 29, 2015 6:54 pm

Humans wouldn't want to be wiped out and replaced by robots and hobbyists either, if something smarter came along.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby MaggieoftheOwls » Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:08 pm

The way I see it, if animals are people enough for worrying about their suffering to be meaningful, they're people enough that driving them to extinction is genocide.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby rockeye_stonetoe » Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:01 pm

I remember XKCD saying that the Black Angus cow is completely unsuited to surviving in the wild. If humans stopped eating meat, we would have no reason to cultivate them and they would quickly go extinct. And therefore, if meat is murder vegetarianism is genocide.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby cbhacking » Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:11 am

@DeAnno: The difference, of course, being that humans can actually consider such possibilities and could communicate our preferences on them. Dogs have no ability to do any such thing. Besides which, I personally question your assertion: while *I* have no desire to cease, I also am quite unattached to being human; I would cheerfully exchange my humanity for a more intelligent alternative. Obviously, the dogs aren't being given options such as "upload into the robots" or "mod your brain to human cognitive ability" but then, they wouldn't know what to do with such options if offered. Not all steps in cognitive ability are equal. Also, don't forge the point mentioned near the end of the story: a suffering human (usually) has the agency to end emself; a suffering dog usually does not.

Regarding genocide, while it is a useful heuristic to say "X is genocide => X is bad", that doesn't make it universally true. Genocide (when discussing species, not "races" of humanity) is simply the end of a genetic line; the negative utility of genocide depends on the positive utility of that line (both directly, and considering externalities such as the value it contributes through enriching diversity in the ecosystem). We consider dogs to be of pretty high utility (they're comforting, cute, useful workers both assisting humans directly and performing tasks such as killing rats, and edible), but we consider smallpox to be of quite negative utility. As for suffering, bear in mind that the story implies that the Extinction was a matter of targeting the reproductive systems; the surviving animals would have presumably lived out their lives as happily as they would have been anyhow, but they wouldn't have had children (and bear in mind that we routinely neuter pets and livestock today).

I have no clear feelings on this one either way, but nobody here seemed to be arguing in favor of the protagonists' viewpoint.
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Re: Short Story: "Dogs"

Postby cbhacking » Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:24 am

Alicorn, I think I've said this before but after reading this it bears repeating:
That thing that really good sci-fi has, where it takes some really Out There idea, speculates that it exists or is at least being considered, and explores the world where this happens? Yeah, you're good at that. Good characters, plot structure, dialog, pacing, and so on are of course important to the quality of the story, but really good sci-fi (or other speculative fiction) needs more than that, it needs a world which is intriguing and differs from our own in an intriguing way. You're one of the best authors I've ever read at pulling that trick off, especially in such short stories. I've been thinking about this story's premise most of the day. Well done!
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