moral blind spots

Ihe

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#21
And I'd add that most "handouts" almost never make it to their intended targets, partially or fully, as the more needs a country has, the more governmental corruption. I've never seen a case that has not been so, and I've been around :oops:.
 

Brian G Turner

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#22
IMO the following are going to be huge moral issues in the future:

Near future: Any form of prejudice and inequality will be rejected as unacceptable. This will go way beyond issues of race or gender, and include any form of negative connotations connected to body shape, form, expression, etc: we are all equal, merely different.

Continuous future: Having seen how much we've harmed the planet and its wildlife, not only will positive environmentalism become the norm, but the everyday consumerism of our time - which has fueled global devastation - will become routinely condemned, along with all people taking part in it. The future will also be naturally horrified by our treatment of animals.
 

Judderman

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#23
The animals and environment one is a funny one in that due to our breeding of cattle they (particularly cows) account for a large chunk of greenhouse gases. Plus deforestation occurs to have grazing land. I wouldn't really want to be vegetarian but even ignoring ethical concerns there is a good environmental case for making meat a restricted produce. Effectively requiring a cull on livestock (or stopping breeding). The media focuses on factories, fossil fuels and transport but maybe this will be a focus one day.
Rice, via rice paddies, also produces methane so that is not a good alternative.
 

Penny

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#24
If we were to try to predict future norms based off current and past events. I would say things will always be different based on geography and culture.
In russia it is basically illegal to be gay, it is illegal to tell children that you can be gay "because it might make them gay as well! ,tis like cooties i tell you!!!"

Many countries who take an anti american or european stance on things have begun enacting homophobic laws that they previously never had. they see the move towards equality and acceptance as a westernization. as Moral corruption. this allows them to paint the west as an immoral culture.

Saying the world is moving towards acceptance is a very narrow view. in many ways it is getting worse, especially as countries latch onto equality as being a western ideal.


There are moves to increase punishments for various sexual offences and to make sure offenders are punished for it, in the past many kinds of sexual abuse were largely ignored by society as a whole and the law.
For example in many places if a prostitute was raped. police would completely ignore it. this is still the case in many countries.

Marriage in many countries used to happen at crazy young ages compared to our views today. It was not until we started legally defining the age of adulthood that laws and protections were put in place to protect young people from making bad decisions or being used by predators.
In some countries children are still married to 40 year olds. usually in arranged marriage situations.


Most if not all moral issues are entirely cultural, geographical or religious in their origins.

Technically we are not moral beasts, society works within a framework of agreed norms. these change over time in response to short term issues.
Using various drugs, alcholol and other substances has, in many places at different times been illegal, usually as a political response to make it look like whoever is in power is seen to be doing something to protect people from lawlessness or define thier regime from the previous one.

If you want to know what will be the state of laws, culture and societal norms in the future. it really depends what happens. Australia has some really good examples of what I am talking about. we have a small population compared to most countries but a strong legal system and active government. so when things happen our government often reacts and creates laws about how we need to behave.
In melbourne a few years ago we had a spate of knife attacks, in the period of like a month there was something like 10+ stabbings. as a result it became illegal to carry pocket knives beyond certain lengths. and of certain types.

Our system moves very quickly to react to things perceived as a threat or wrong or injust.
Other countries seem to move very slowly, but australia is very very young compared to the others. but it has some good examples on the way things change politiclaly and legally based on reaction to stimulus.
 
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Toby Frost

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#25
I think that we are so morally varied that the moral blind spots of the future will depend on who ends up in charge. I would say that there are four main moral/political groups in the West (or the developed world), which can overlap in different ways: Capitalist Right; Religious Right; Workers' Left and Diversity Issues Left. (I would also say there is a fifth group, Extremists, who seek power or purification in helping destroy society, but they don't quite apply here). Each group will have potential blind spots depending on the sort of person it idolises or exoticises: a banker, a pastor, a proleterian, an immigrant, say.

I think it is too hard to call which of these groups will have the most say in society in the future, and I suspect that the answer will vary by location. Also, I would not expect people's reactions to the world's problems to necessarily be rational: the response to the extinction of species, for instance, might be to deny that it has occurred or praise God for destroying them as much as it might be to try to conserve others.
 
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Parson

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#26
Interesting Thread..... Here's one I would like to see pursued in a SF book which I could easily see happening. A world without pets. I think it is beyond the pale if as I've heard: if every American would give the money they use to feed their pets to fight world hunger there would be none!
 

Montero

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#27
Mine would be overpopulation - how we keep on increasing in numbers, using up resources ever faster, taking land away from wildlife.

In terms of SF that has been done - Sheri Tepper for one. Including aliens coming to earth to stop us trashing it further.

I'm afraid I completely disagree regarding pets - I think having pets, and indeed feeding wildlife in the sense of wild birds coming to suburban gardens - connects humans with species other than our own and helps to focus outward from human-centric behaviour. Like anything, it can be done to excess, but I think keeping pets in conditions where they are happy, is a good idea.
 

Judderman

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#28
There are lots of items and luxuries we could say we spend money on but don't need. In fact could be more than half of spending is far from necessary for many people. On the other hand there are jobs and incomes for people involved in the industries/companies making/advertising/selling these products.
 

Parson

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#29
Like anything, it can be done to excess, but I think keeping pets in conditions where they are happy, is a good idea.
But not if it means humans must do without. I would like to see a 100% tax on pet food and have every dollar/pound etc. go toward world hunger.
 

Montero

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#30
Parson there is no direct correlation that food fed to pets would go to humans if the pet wasn't there. It is my understanding, that a lot of pet food is made from stuff that are by-products of the human food chain - as in already rejected for human consumption - gristle for example. World hunger is far more complex than that, starting with the delivery of food being part of the problem as has been mentioned earlier in the thread.
I also disagree that humans are so important that their needs should always take precedence over animals'.
 

SilentRoamer

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#31
Interesting thread.

I think the West suffers from a sort of cultural and moral relativism, where we think "deep down" everyone yearns for the Western ideal - liberty, equality, freedoms - sexual, religious and other forms of Western morality which have developed (arguably) out of a particular Judeo christian ideology.

I have a lot of friends from different places in the world and we often talk about their culture and a good Chinese friend of mine says one of the thoughts the Chinese have with the West is that we try to push our own moral values onto the East. They generally don't do the same to us.

Moral narratives, are fluid and change over time, they arise from different ideologies. I think there are some basic moralities that almost all demographic groups have but I think these arise out of a Darwinian necessity for co-operation and are a by product of that.

Will be interesting to see where the world goes as the West becomes more liberal I feel other places in the world will become less liberal as a direct counter measure to protect their own moral consistency.

Just my thoughts.
 

SilentRoamer

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#32
@Parson I think you have oversimplified the issue of world hunger. Lets just say that all funds that were used for pets are now ploughed into solving world hunger. So:

1. Who would organise possible the largest redistribution of wealth ever seen?
2. Would they neccesarily be benevolent (corruption in some of the poorer places in the world is rife and visible)
3. What about the millions now displaced from a job? The people who have trained for many years as vetinaries, the drugs companies manufacturing vetinary medicie, the animal food production, pet accessories, the list goes on.

It's like a magic panacea with no real thinking behind it - it would probably cause more problems than not, I also don't think the sums would come close to adding up. I truly believe the population is approaching a point where world hunger CANT be solved. We have a finite world, with finite energy systems and there's a reason for the UN agenda 21.

I consider you a measured and reasoned person from your posts on here but I think your heart is ruling your head on this one.
 

Montero

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#34
Interesting thread.

I think the West suffers from a sort of cultural and moral relativism, where we think "deep down" everyone yearns for the Western ideal - liberty, equality, freedoms - sexual, religious and other forms of Western morality which have developed (arguably) out of a particular Judeo christian ideology.

I have a lot of friends from different places in the world and we often talk about their culture and a good Chinese friend of mine says one of the thoughts the Chinese have with the West is that we try to push our own moral values onto the East. They generally don't do the same to us.
I do wonder if this is arising from Christianity having an Evangelical tradition - starting with all the saints going out from Rome to convert the pagan. This was also a very strong theme in the Victorian period, with all the missionaries and converting the heathen. By then there seemed to be a lot of blurring of Christianity with Western tradition - not just convert the heathen to Christianity but get them to wear respectable clothes and behave like a Western template because that is what the Victorians considered a Christian to be.
 

Parson

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#35
I think you have oversimplified the issue of world hunger
Of course I have over-simplified the argument. We are talking about story plot ideas, not trying to solve the problem. And my argument is not about what is being fed to the animals, (although a lot of that is in fact very edible for humans) my argument is about what is being spent to feed the animals. In reality, today there is no need for anyone to live with dangerous hunger. The food is available it's just not affordable with the present economic distribution.

On thread topic: My story plot would begin in a near future world where humans have to prioritize what will have access to the available food, humans or human pets. I can't help but believe that such a story would garner a lot of attention and a lot of anger, (but that might be good for book sales) to suggest it is more important for people to support an orphan in Niger or Cambodia or wherever than to have a friendly puppy running around the house. The moral question which would lurk would be: Is it morally acceptable to choose for a pet to eat when it means to choose against some person living far away whom I will never meet to eat.

Aside: In our world today that choice is not so stark. Here in the West we can easily choose both. But the vast majority of us, pet owners and others are only focused on what makes me feel good. I also suspect that the distribution would be easier than some would think. A lot of NGO's have the ability to feed many more people if they had the monetary means to do it. For example: If Bread for the World would have double the income I suspect that they would have at least double the impact. --- If I were to try to solve the problem of today's world hunger I would see "handouts" as the story idea suggests as short term, and things like micro loans, training and education as longer term answers. All of which takes capital, which is available with only a slight adjustment of our priorities.
 

Montero

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#36
Regarding how much money is spent, why target pets?
Why not target money spent on re-decorating to follow fashion? Buying a new car when your old one works just fine? Why target living creatures when you could easily make far larger savings elsewhere?
And why do story plots have to be over-simplified and unrealistic? Because that is the corollary of what you are saying.
If I were to be presented with a story which did an either/or on feeding pets or people, I would say that the plot was oversimplified and melodramatic - it had picked on an overly restricted either/or that was deliberately setting out to upset people. In writing sf, we should do better than that.

Regarding distribution there are many cases of corruption in receiving countries. There is only so much an NGO can do when a bunch of armed locals turn up and point guns at them and their food convoy.
There are also cases where handouts were the worst possible thing - I remember seeing a documentary on how the economy of an East African country was trashed by EU beef mountain beef. So EU over-produced, it wasn't actually a hand-out, but it was sold cheaply, it was more tender than locally produced meat. The economy of the country rested in part on inland farmers raising local beef cattle and walking them to coastal markets. They did that, got there and their former customers said, no thanks, we prefer the tastier stuff from Europe.
 

Judderman

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#37
Muslims may also try to convert people so that is not just restricted to western religion. It comes back to religions usually claiming that if you don't follow their belief you will suffer in the afterlife.. Muslims, Christians and Jews follow the same God, although it doesn't seem like that. But still usually view their own religion as the way to enlightenment/reward/holiness etc.
 

Brian G Turner

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#38
Okay, can we try and keep this thread specifically on topic to imagining moral considerations of the future - a simple thought experiment good for spec fic? I don't want this thread turning into a World Affairs thread by the backdoor. :)
 

Nick B

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#39
The moral blind spot of world hunger can be simplified down to this - we grow enough crops to feed 14 billion people. We feed so much of it to cattle, that a billion or more humans are starving. If we fed people instead of cattle, there would be no hunger, and all of the land (roughly 1 third of the world's landmass apparently) currently used for animal agriculture, could be turned over to forest, and still have more food than we can currently use. This would also eliminate 51% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Pretty much most of the climate problems solved, all hunger eliminated, no more farm animal welfare problems, our medical system would see a massive decrease in expenditure, no more deforestation, water shortages would be almost eliminated... Need I go on?

Just one change. One. Some day, hopefully humans will look back in utter dismay that we didn't solve this sooner.
 

Montero

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#40
Nick - I'd love to go into detail disagreeing with your simplistic statement, but Brian has asked us not to go into World Affairs, so .........

I'd post a moral consideration of the future but am struggling to think of one that isn't related to stuff likely to tumble into World Affairs. Mucking up the sky with jet aircraft trails, nope, using resources for personal adornment, nope.

One thought - art. Sculpture, oil paintings, great buildings. Society currently puts value on great creations (and IMHO some rather less than great - unmade beds spring to mind). I've had a lot of pleasure from going round art galleries, visiting impressive buildings and am glad the art exists. However much of it was created for the elite that could afford it. So could there one day be a view of say Rubens, Constable, Landseer and the like as immoral, not uplifting, because they were paid for with money gathered by people at the top of the economic pyramid? And that art should only be enjoyed if it was ethically paid for? Ethically being say a small subscription from a very large number of ordinary people? (In the way that mosques are built in the UK - the local muslim community collecting money to build the mosque.)
Though all the starving artists then spring to mind - folks like van Gogh who painted pictures that sold for diddly squat in their life time and only became valuable later - they'd fall outside that particular criticism. You could add in paintings for which the artist didn't receive appropriate reward.
 

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