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Why self-awareness?

MTGandP
Posts: 702
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7/2/2009 4:34:55 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Why is it that beings with self-awareness deserve more rights than those without? It makes intuitive sense to me, and I base a lot of my moral decisions on whether the being at hand has self-awareness, but I don't really understand it. Sure, humans have self-awareness. So what?

A perhaps better argument is that beings with self-awareness have a truly conscious desire not to die, as they are fully capable of comprehending death and therefore can decide for themselves that death is bad. But why does this mean that we should not kill them? Evolutionarily, individual desires do not matter. Individuals are just survival machines.

So why does self-awareness matter?
Harlan
Posts: 1,880
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7/2/2009 5:27:40 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/2/2009 4:34:55 PM, MTGandP wrote:
Why is it that beings with self-awareness deserve more rights than those without? It makes intuitive sense to me, and I base a lot of my moral decisions on whether the being at hand has self-awareness, but I don't really understand it. Sure, humans have self-awareness. So what?

"So what" anything?

You're trying to apply logic to morality and it doesn't work.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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7/2/2009 6:25:29 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
\

YOU as a being with a rational mind, which incidentally is of course self-aware, do not want to die, and are capable of logically deriving what the source of threats to your life is. Other human beings do similarly. Attempting to attack someone rational, when they aren't currently attacking you, makes them want to eliminate you. Since you value your life, you refrain from attacking theirs or suffer the natural consequences of reduced chances of life.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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7/2/2009 6:25:45 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
And evolution is irrelevant.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Lexicaholic
Posts: 526
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7/2/2009 8:06:43 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/2/2009 4:34:55 PM, MTGandP wrote:
Why is it that beings with self-awareness deserve more rights than those without? It makes intuitive sense to me, and I base a lot of my moral decisions on whether the being at hand has self-awareness, but I don't really understand it. Sure, humans have self-awareness. So what?

A perhaps better argument is that beings with self-awareness have a truly conscious desire not to die, as they are fully capable of comprehending death and therefore can decide for themselves that death is bad. But why does this mean that we should not kill them? Evolutionarily, individual desires do not matter. Individuals are just survival machines.

So why does self-awareness matter?

I would agree with Ragnar, but add a more positive spin by arguing that it is in your self interest to cooperate with other 'self-aware' minds. Such minds can be convinced to ally with oneself in meeting mutual needs/concerns. They can be reasoned into it, whereas un-self aware life can not. It would be rather nice if you could convince a tree to make a house of itself for you, though.
http://mastersofcreationrpg.com... - My new site and long-developed project. Should be fun.
MTGandP
Posts: 702
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7/3/2009 12:23:40 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/2/2009 6:25:45 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
And evolution is irrelevant.

Why? Evolution is responsible for all fundamental behaviors of living beings, so why not morality?

Since you value your life, you refrain from attacking theirs or suffer the natural
consequences of reduced chances of life.
But this does not explain altruism in cases when one's own life is not in danger, without using evolution to explain it. Even with evolution, it's a bit fuzzy.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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7/3/2009 8:56:02 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/3/2009 12:23:40 AM, MTGandP wrote:
At 7/2/2009 6:25:45 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
And evolution is irrelevant.

Why? Evolution is responsible for all fundamental behaviors of living beings, so why not morality?
Evolution is responsible for fundamental behaviors of nonrational living beings. Rationality includes the ability to override evolutionary drives.


Since you value your life, you refrain from attacking theirs or suffer the natural
consequences of reduced chances of life.
But this does not explain altruism in cases when one's own life is not in danger, without using evolution to explain it. Even with evolution, it's a bit fuzzy.
Evolution may be relevant to actual altruism (as opposed to cooperation for mutual gain, which is important but often subject to being overstated). These people have decided to surrender to evolutionary drives, or maybe something else. Oh well. Not my problem, not mine to answer for anyway, altruism is icky. When I said evolution was irrelevant, it was to coming up with an explanation for the moral behavior you have observed. The specific case of the altruist, which is not necessary for that behavior, is another matter entirely.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.