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Old Yesterday, 09:09 AM   #161
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not sure we need to go all the way back to first principles. But be my guest, if that's where you think the conversation needs to start.
Well, you may have noticed that you and others seem to be disagreeing about the higher level of analysis of this issue. What matters, what has value? You are asking others why they think biodiversity matters, etc.

Given that disagreement, it might be useful to go back to something that we can all agree on.

I also don't really think that it's axiomatic to you or anyone else that more human lives are better. Rather I think you really do think that individual human lives have value and have reasoned from there to the conclusion that more human lives are more valuable than fewer.

Ignoring other factors I actually agree with that conclusion (I think my first post in this thread was exactly me agreeing with you about that). But that other factors might impact on that conclusion seems a reasonable thing to think about, and I don't think that it makes sense when presented with that possibility to retreat to the idea that the conclusion that more human lives is better is axiomatic, rather than that it's a conclusion reached from the prior belief that individual lives have value.

I personally think that the fact that individual lives have value is also a conclusion more basic axioms, but on that issue I agree with you that it's probably not necessary to go back to that given that we all seem to agree that individual lives have value, and the ways in which they do (for instance that that value can vary depending on things like the quality of that life, it's length, etc.).
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Old Yesterday, 10:20 AM   #162
Minoosh
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My question to you is: Why? What do you believe, that makes you say this? How does this belief inform your global policy?
I believe that the technological nature of our species has given us an unprecedented ability to manipulate the environment, often with unintended or poorly understood consequences that may not be easily reversible.

In terms of "my" global policy: In advanced countries fertility rates fall. So perhaps in terms of stabilizing population, economic development of poorer countries might be useful. Access to safe drinking water, primary education and birth control, for example, might facilitate this development.

How about you? What beliefs inform your global policy? Do you have anything to say on the topic?
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Old Yesterday, 08:38 PM   #163
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I'd like to go back to this notion that "intrinsic" value is the only sort of value we should consider in this model.

Upon consideration, I see no logical basis for this assumption. We should consider total value, not just "intrinsic" value, excluding all other sorts of value considerations.

Surely no one would argue that we should burn our houses down because houses don't have "intrinsic" value?

Other considerations: we have potentially hundreds of millions of years ahead of us if we somehow manage to avoid extinction. We shouldn't overvalue the present at the expense of the future. What will happen if we have, for example, 6 degrees of global warming due to the greenhouse effect? I'd rather have a billion people and have that last for millions of years, while preserving the natural ecosystems, than 10 billion right now but lasting only a century or two with the end result being a mass extinction event.

Quality of life is also important. I'd rather have fewer people with each enjoying a higher quality of life, than more people with each having a lower quality of life.
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Old Yesterday, 08:54 PM   #164
Puppycow
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I will try to keep your idiosyncratic definition of "harm" in mind in this discussion.


And that's totally fine. But now you're not actually trying to optimize for ideal sustainable population. You're trying to optimize for ideal population that preserves certain personal aesthetic and experiential values that you hold.

What you really want here isn't the ideal sustainable population. You want the minimum viable population, as being the one that leaves the least anthropogenic footprint on the "natural" environment. You could have a sustainable population of homesteaders, but each homesteader would cut down a patch of old-growth forest to build their home and clear some land for agriculture. You could figure out what's the minimum amount of forest needed to sustain a given population. You could cut back to that much forest, turning the rest of the land over to other population-sustaining uses. But while that would go towards your stated goal of the ideal sustainable population, it would go against your actual goal of minimum viable population.
No, that's not what I meant, either. I'm looking for a population that maximizes overall value, not a "minimum viable population". There will be an "anthropogenic footprint" but I just want it to be small enough that there is room for other natural ecosystems and species to survive alongside us. I'm looking for balance between goods, one that maximizes overall value to humans in the long term.
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Old Today, 04:26 AM   #165
W.D.Clinger
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Other considerations: we have potentially hundreds of millions of years ahead of us if we somehow manage to avoid extinction. We shouldn't overvalue the present at the expense of the future. What will happen if we have, for example, 6 degrees of global warming due to the greenhouse effect? I'd rather have a billion people and have that last for millions of years, while preserving the natural ecosystems, than 10 billion right now but lasting only a century or two with the end result being a mass extinction event.
That's a good point.

It works in the opposite direction as well. Imagine how this discussion might go if today's news brought credible word that an asteroid whose diameter is on the order of 200 kilometers will hit earth ten years from now. Sustainability would cease to be much of an issue. Our perception of values would change.

We see something of this on an individual scale as people recognize the approach of their own death (via illness or age). When planning for themselves, they begin to focus on the short term, but many also adopt a longer and less self-centered perspective as they consider the impending reality of a world they will no longer inhabit.
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