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Hedonic_Treader comments on Open Thread 2 - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: [deleted] 08 October 2014 04:06:48PM *  4 points [-]

Reproduction can't be morally neutral.

Imagine a thought experiment where you have to push exactly one of three buttons:

  • a - a person is created from thin air and tortured horribly for 1,000 years, then vanishes
  • b - nothing happens
  • c - a person is created from thin air and lives in unimaginably intense bliss and subjective freedom for 1,000 years, then vanishes

I can accept someone saying there should be no laws that mandate or ban reproduction for various practical and political reasons.

But I can't take someone seriously who says it's morally neutral which button you push in the thought experiment above.

Comment author: Larks 10 October 2014 12:35:28AM 3 points [-]

This is an argument that I've previously made, but I can't recall ever seeing anyone else ever make it. I wish you hadn't deleted your account so I could see who you were!

Comment author: ericyu3 10 October 2014 04:33:36AM 1 point [-]

It was Hedonic_Treader.

Comment author: pappubahry 09 October 2014 01:53:49AM 0 points [-]

I was too lazy to specify that I was talking about the world as it is.

A couple might have a third (or first, or...) child, or they might not. I can accept that the two possibilities lead to slightly different total or average utilities, but as I said, I am not utilitarian on this point. I think we just allow people to choose how many children they have, and we build the rest of ethics around that.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 October 2014 03:20:24AM 0 points [-]

I think in the world as it is, allowing people to choose how many children they have is exactly the utilitarian thing to do.

Of course, there are forms of persuasion other than coercion. Some ideas like liberal eugenics have world-improvement potential imo.