moral blind spots

CTRandall

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#1
Picking up a theme started by Brian Turner, what modern practices that we accept as normal, even good, might future centuries look back on with horror? Brian's thread dealt heavily with AI, so maybe minimize that here.

One I was thinking of was prison. Not just the death penalty, as that is already controversial, but the whole notion of locking criminals, even violent criminals, away from the rest of society. Can we realistically imagine a society that views punishment with horror and focuses solely on rehabilitation? Maybe, in some more "enlightened" future, criminals are embedded in a cluster of people whose task it is to ensure that convicts learn to adjust their behaviour to the norms of society. This could have a dark side, too, as people grow accustomed to monitoring everyone around them for unacceptable behaviour. And so everyone ends up being constantly rehabilitated. Kafka, here I come.

Any other ideas?
 

TheDustyZebra

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#2
I think the time is not terribly far off when our modern medicine will be looked upon with the same horror with which we now look at everything from a hundred years ago. The treatment of symptoms with ever-increasing piles of medications to counter the effects of other medications is just frightening.
 

Ihe

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#3
Probably not considered immoral in the future per se, but the institution of marriage won't hold up forever. One can already see the cracks in what once was the sole "correct" foundation for a family. It might look barbaric in hindsight to agree to a life-long exclusivity deal with a single partner.
 

Foxbat

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#4
I wonder how long it will be before somebody not only creates or modifies an embryo through genetic engineering but also tries to trademark it.
 

CTRandall

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#5
Hmm, I'm imagining combining a proliferation of family-types in combination with trademarks. I can see the television ads now:

"Are you tired of your 2.5 kids? Then come on down to 'Family Tree'! We've got a wide range of children for you to choose from--intelligent, sporty, charismatic, whatever you want! You can even design your own! And if your current partner has got you down, we have a multitude of plans covering everything from single-parenting to multiple-partner, non-exclusive relationships! So what are you waiting for!"

(The customer assumes responsibility for all psychological and/or emotional damage. 1032% annual instrest rate on all financing.)
 

tinkerdan

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#6
Morality is a sticky issue or at least it can be. [Sometimes difficult to discuss without getting into religious and even sometimes political arguments.]

Morality is fluid and yet for some it's as rigid a ice.

Public nudity can be a moral issue: Some places have strict laws prohibiting it and often even more stringent toward certain segments of the population.
Some places had nudest camps and some allow nude beaches for recreational use.

Alcohol consumption can be a moral issue. Some places have strict measures perhaps all the way to prohibition. Some places allow children to drink alcohol and some require a specific age to be attained before they can drink.

This fluidity is what causes laws to be passed with some majority consensuses on how to handle these issues. And it is laws and upholding and enforcing the laws that created the need for prisons. For instance you can drink and run around nude at home but not in public.(Some places you might not want to do that because if you get caught it may not prove to be that loosely interpreted by the local enforcers.) If you do so in public you will be arrested. If you continue to do so in public you will be fined. If you are a repeat offender then you might eventually go to prison--you'll already have spent some time in jail. Prison and jail are the result of law and not necessarily involved in moral issues--sure things that happen in a prison might seem morally deficient, but that's why the prisoners are there because they have demonstrated an inability to rehabilitate. Oh did I mention prisons don't rehabilitate. But the fact and function of prison fall more under law than morality and in some cases it might prove to be protecting the criminal from retaliation from victims and their close family and friends.

The point is that although there may be some moral issues I feel are immutable, that doesn't mean everyone thinks that way and there might be some rigid moral issues they have that don't strike me as that important and it's this sort of disparity that leads to the necessity of law . That gives us some tough choices--we can kill those who don't adhere to law--we can throw them into prison--we can try to rehabilitate them--we can fine them endlessly--or we could always strike the law from the books.

So which decision would be moral correct?

Or does anyone have other suggestions for viable decisions?
 

Judderman

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#7
We could argue that laws are immoral and constrain people's rights. I don't see that happening though as it would be bordering on impossible to avoid anarchy...and then new laws.
 

Ihe

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#9
To me, morality, just like politics, human rights, economy, religion, etc, kinda runs the cycle of thesis-antithesis-synthesis that Hegel talked about--if I recall anything from my philosophy classes. But even then, all those areas have some nigh-"universal" truths (or at least points almost everyone agrees with, like "incest/murder is bad", or "people should have a say in how they are governed", be those notions practiced or not, they are more or less well-known and accepted theoretically by the great majority). This gives me some hope that these cycles aren't infinite random loops. With each cycle that passes, we get just that bit closer to the ideal state (although reaching it is likely impossible, "close enough" is alright by me) because those perennial points of reference anchor the cycle in the right direction in a cumulative fashion.

With this said, I don't believe it'll be humanity's moral or intellectual merit if we end up at the right destination. Evolution dictates that most cultures know incest is bad not because of morality, but because it diminishes the survival chances of progeny and therefore, the species itself. In the same vein, world peace isn't desirable because it is morally good, but because it increases the chances of survival of a greater percentage of the gene pool. The selfish genes pull all the strings people! :eek: Morality is just another world-wide genetic expression meant to positively modulate our general chances of survival, just like social dynamics, economic systems, government, etc.........Gosh I'm cynical today.

Am I making sense?(n)
 

paranoid marvin

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#10
So many things could be frowned upon. Doing irreperable damage to our world because it's easier and cheaper to continue doing what we're doing or worse pretend it's not happening . Allowing some people to starve to death whilst others die because of having too much to eat. Having 1% of the world owning 50% of the wealth. Having weapons that have the power to end every life on earth.
 

Penny

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#11
When it comes to looking back on our society from a fictional future society. it becomes entirely about the journey that got your fictional future to where it is, the events that shape your society are the events that form your societies world view.

Here is a real world example - touchy subject bare with me please Americans I have a point with this :p

In Australia, we used to have lots of guns, it was pretty free but we had lots of support for tighter restrictions on guns (you don't need assault rifles to hunt, you only need 1 bullet type mentality), you needed licences and such.
then we had the Port Arthur massacre (Australia) - Wikipedia and almost overnight what resistance there had been (US NRA was supporting our pro-gun lobby >.> go figure) melted away. and a gun buyback scheme was established as well as much tighter restrictions on ownership, mental health and background checks, as well as training, being mandatory for getting a gun.

So, we had a pre-established environment, we had a crux event (the massacre), which caused change, leading to our future society (tight gun regulation because guns kill people)

So, initial world, casual event, result

your future world will look back on our world through the eyes of experience, things that happened to cause your world inform their views.

So say America now, poor gun control, chaotically regulated, lazily organised. it has massacres every other week, what crucial event might happen in your fictional world to change America's view. does it get worse or does it get better? how they view the past will be one of acceptance or disgust.

In an accepting future America, the school massacres continue, some regulations are added, but things remain mostly the same, parents start arming children, eventually arming all citizens becomes mandatory, they accept that guns have a vital place in society, they have no problem with the massacres, other than possibly not arming people sooner.

In a disgusted future America, eventually, a horrific massacre happens, hundreds die. armed teachers in the school fail to stop it. public opinion turns. guns are federally restricted and laws are put in place to ensure a minimum level of maturity and competence are required for access to weapons of different classes. gun buyback schemes are put in place and generally, people become happier as the slaughter stops. they look back with disgust at themselves and the politicians responsible.

(I understand that for American culture gun ownership is as much about a statement of personal freedom as it is about being able to shoot things or defend yourself)
(I use this merely to point out that history tells us that the course society takes often pivots on an individual event, this event shapes the society of the future, if America had such a defining event that fundamentally changed its societies views on gun control, then whatever that event was is what changed things. it could be anything.)

So how a future society views us is more about the journey and less about how things are at either end.
The journey informs our future world and its views, but there are reasons for those views.

To have a structurally sound scifi you do need to do a bit of backstory development on the history of your world


If your world needs to eat babies and be fine with that... well good luck coming up with a logical course of events for that one but yeah, your going to need, your intial conditions (now) the event (babies became delicious?) and that informs your result (now we all eat babies)

Morality doesn't come into it in the long run. morality is only an issue if the changes are short term, eg, within the current generation people remember clearly what it was like when we didn't eat babies. any future world will be fine with it if enough time removes them from the decision that eating babies was a thing we do now.
 

mosaix

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#13
I think today's prisons are already looked upon with horror.
Visited Shrewsbury prison two weeks ago. It is now a museum of sorts. It closed as a prison in 2015. It is absolutely barbaric.

Each cell is about 8” x 6”, held two prisoners, had windows above head height and only had running water and toilets installed in 2005.
 

WaylanderToo

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#17
wow, talk about a quandary. On the one hand, something that we can view through a genre lens - on the other hand, this is deffo one of the 'world affairs' issues that was closed off some time ago.


there are certainly black and white areas for me here. I am vehemently anti-capital punishment (that pesky changes in morality aspect) so the life for a life punishment is off the cards:

Murder - life imprisonment
Rape (proved beyond doubt) - life
Child abuse (all kinds) - life
No time off for good behaviour - time added for poor behaviour.

is that barbaric? Possibly. Does that make me a 'neanderthal'? Again, quite possibly.

The thing is that society needs laws, needs boundaries. Without these it would be anarchy (and not in the cuddly sense that many anarchists seem to think is desirable), we would be no better than animals.

I'll say here and now I'm far from an environmentalist as many view this - I am however appalled at the amount of waste we generate for no reason. To me, it makes no sense to throw away finite resources and I think that it is the sheer waste that happens that will appall future generations.

With regards to the starving masses, I'd have to put myself in a different camp. I truly feel for these poor souls. The issue however is that there is not a lot that can be done. 30 years of handouts have destroyed livelihoods (who'd become a farmer/fisherman etc when you can get free food?) and encouraged 'strongmen' to hold sway over large areas.

There is a lot of good that can (and should) be done - however, we need to think beyond the 'quick fix' and the sticking plaster. We need to think for not the next generation, possibly not even the generation after that but the generation after that.
 

Nick B

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#18
With regards to the starving masses, I'd have to put myself in a different camp. I truly feel for these poor souls. The issue however is that there is not a lot that can be done.
.
This is a very common misconception, worldwide, we grow enough crops to feed approx 8 billion people, that we feed solely to livestock. That figure doesn't include crops we grow for human consumption.
80% of Amazonian deforestation is for livestock, or to grow crops to feed livestock.
51% of total worldwide greenhouse gasses are from animal agriculture.

These figures aren't propaganda, they are UN figures and readily available.

I suspect in the future, if there are any people left, they will look back, shake their heads, and ask 'Why?'
 

WaylanderToo

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#19
This is a very common misconception, worldwide, we grow enough crops to feed approx 8 billion people, that we feed solely to livestock. That figure doesn't include crops we grow for human consumption.
80% of Amazonian deforestation is for livestock, or to grow crops to feed livestock.
51% of total worldwide greenhouse gasses are from animal agriculture.

These figures aren't propaganda, they are UN figures and readily available.

I suspect in the future, if there are any people left, they will look back, shake their heads, and ask 'Why?'

not denying yourfigures at all but... 30 years of handouts have destroyed livelihoods (who'd become a farmer/fisherman etc when you can get free food?) and encouraged 'strongmen' to hold sway over large areas.
 

Nick B

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#20
Yep, that happens on small and large scale. It induces dependancy, great for the big guys, terrible for the rest.
 

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