WINCS: A difficult consequence

2012-01-18 (Wednesday) § Leave a comment

Something just occurred to me that may force me to abandon the idea of using suffering as my sole moral metric.  It seems obvious now that I’ve thought of it.  If the morally better of any two situations is the one where the conscious being suffering most in that situation is suffering less than the being that occupies that position in the other situation, then the morally optimal situation is one where no one is suffering at all.  So far so good.  But if every being capable of suffering actually is suffering to some extent (even if just a tiny bit), then I should favor, if it’s available, an instant euthanasia of all suffering-capable beings, in preference to any situation in which any being is suffering at all.  (I say “suffering-capable” in order to eliminate the possibility of causing survivors’ suffering to beings that have zero suffering now but might suffer as a result of all the other beings being dead.)

That euthanasia isn’t available, but I’m not sure if I can accept that it’s desirable in principle.  Maybe I can.  I’ll have to let that question swirl around for a while and see what my intuitions produce.


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