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comment by bioemerl
bioemerl  ·  2084 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Do we need an ethics of self-organizing tissue?

    By what criteria do we separate the ethical treatment of humans and animals from sufficiently complex organ structures?

I have my own little "theory of morality" that I mostly produced while thinking about how we treat animals as a society, and I think it applies well here.

There are two sides to morality, practical morals, the pure concept of value of an action, and empathetic morals, based around the emotions we feel.

When we lose a loved one, we mourn the loss of all they knew, of their support, we are sad because that person is gone. When we lose a child, we mourn the loss of the parents, who suffered (half) of nine months, and are fully expecting to be raising a child. We mourn the loss of who could have been, with those lost years.

Then we have empathy, the non-practical factor of morality, illogical, we feel suffering ourselves when we see it in the world. When we see, or perceive the pain of another, we feel pain ourselves, and seek to end it for the other, for our own sake.

These "minds", incapable of growing into a human, a being connected to society, to their family, capable of holding conversation, inventing, and all those other things.

We are able to produce these "minds" with some sugar and a few minutes of cell development, is practically worthless. It doesn't have big cute eyes, or a mouth to speak with, and isn't a "baby" that culture anthropomorphizes in the mothers belly.

Empathy, practicality, neither apply, so morality doesn't either. Cells do not deserve moral treatment.



Animals (non-pets) have little practical value. They don't listen to rules. They aren't willing to obey orders, and they have no real working value in the age of machines. However, they provide practical value as eggs, meat, and other goods.

Meanwhile, animals have a massive empathetic value. We see their cute eyes, and put human emotions into them, we hurt when we see, or believe we see, the suffering of an animal.

So the two drives of morality are at odds, and people start acting strange. Some react by picking empathy, the animals are people, I love them, don't kill them. Some react with practicality. The animals are worthless, meat-factories, hah, that one danced when I shot it in the head. Some balance the two, performing empathetic rituals of sorts, ensuring the animals feel good, have a fast death, ensuring an empathetic compatible style, while fulfilling the practical one as well.


I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of my ass, but I really feel like this view of morality works very well, although it's kind of bad at predicting how we should act, more good at explaining why we do.