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DataPacRat wrote

If it ever came to the crunch, and you were honestly faced with a choice of whether or not to save a human life, and you took more time thinking about it than it took to figure out how, I don't doubt that you would receive all sorts of social pressure, the very least of which would involve being called "inhuman" and "monstrous". Depending on the circumstances, it wouldn't be out of the question for the legal system to convict you of some degree of murder.

Even if you don't feel any particular inclination for or against rugrats, there are very solid reasons why humans as a whole have evolved tendencies to promote the welfare of the tykes, and if you want to maintain the freedom and social respect to be able to save lots of nonhuman lives, it's in your own self-interest to cooperate with the larger group's values here.

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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DataPacRat wrote

To the best of my understanding, values can't exist in a vacuum. That is, when someone says "X is good" or "Y is bad", they're leaving out a bit of implication: "X is good (according to standard-of-value A)" or "Y is bad (according to ethical system B)". Without referring to /some/ system of values, even if just a vague wishy-washy pointing in the general direction of things that are assumed to be in common, then it makes no sense to try to claim anything has moral significance.

I'm sure there are people who disagree with the above, but it's worked well enough for me in resolving a number of practical philosophical matters.

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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DataPacRat wrote

Which is why I mentioned the "magic of thought experiments". Hypothetical situations have a purpose: because they /are/ simpler than reality, they let you ignore all the complicated factors that muddle matters, allowing you to figure out what your actual preferences and values are. Eg, "Which is more important to me, the life of a baby or the life of a pig?", or "Which is more valuable, the life of a child or the life of a dog?". It's only once you understand the basics of your own moral-and-ethical system that you can understand how to apply value judgements in more complicated arenas.

(Of course, one of my usual .sig lines is "Then again, I could be wrong.")