The Ethics of ET

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Madness

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Madness

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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 01:49:10 pm »
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 03:49:29 pm »
The ethics of ET: The discovery of independent life beyond Earth would have deep philosophical implications for us, and our ideas of morality

Let's dissect this shall we.
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My central claim is that the discovery that life is ubiquitous would support normative non-naturalism. This is because, if life is ubiquitous, then we need non-naturalism to explain an otherwise puzzling fact. Given the vast number of potentially inhabited planets in the Universe, we would expect at least one extraterrestrial species to have either visited us or transformed the galaxy in ways that were clearly visible. Yet we see no one. Where is everybody? This is the Fermi Paradox, named for the physicist Enrico Fermi who posed the question in 1950.
Why? Why do back of envelope calculations with several unknown variables that Fermi did in the 50's still command so much attention? There's no paradox, there's only unknowns and unknown unknowns. Who knows what trajectory an alien species might be on?

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The discovery that life is ubiquitous would obviously rule out any explanation based on the rarity of life. And if we found evidence of intelligent life elsewhere, we would be forced to conclude that intelligence was not rare either. Of course, if we discovered life elsewhere, then in one sense the Fermi Paradox would simply be dissolved; there is no need to explain why we see no evidence of life elsewhere once we do see it! But the deeper puzzle would remain: if life is ubiquitous, why don’t we see much more evidence of alien civilisations? We must still explain what the astrophysicist and science fiction writer David Brin in 1983 called ‘the Great Silence’.
Maybe Aliens just don't like to send signals randomly everywhere in the universe, maybe the distances are too great such that the signals are indistinguishable from background noise.

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Why would intelligent species choose not to make themselves visible? Webb lists 25 distinct Wontian solutions that have been seriously defended. [...]

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Any Wontian solution faces one obvious objection. One non-Wontian species – or even one maverick group or individual – could do things that would be clearly visible for a very long time. To solve the Fermi Paradox, Wontian motivations must be universal, not merely very widespread. But surely that degree of uniformity is simply implausible.
Is it? And if it isn't, it can still easily be explained away e.g. by distances. Again, unknowns.

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Of course, Cantianism faces a parallel objection. Even if most intelligent, tool-using species face a feasibility constraint, why should we believe they all do? Cantians must defend a universal feasibility barrier. And that natural universality seems as suspect as the Wontian’s motivational one. Isn’t it more likely that, sooner or later, one lucky species will have sufficient time and resources to escape the feasibility constraint?
1. Star Wars and Star Trek are not realistic. 2. define "sufficient time and resources". 3. Again, unknowns.

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Wontians need universal motivations that are not specific to species or individuals. This is where normative non-naturalism comes in. Armed with non-naturalism, Wontians can argue as follows. Objective values are built into the fabric of the Universe; the discovery of those values is essential if one is to understand the Universe sufficiently well enough to manipulate it successfully on a large and lasting scale; and that discovery transforms any rational being’s motivations. Aliens smart enough to conquer the stars will inevitably abandon their previous plans and follow those universal values.
If "objective values" are "built" into the fabric of the universe they would be physical parameters.

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Alien species might have very different natures, and therefore their moral facts would be quite different from ours. Wontians cannot limit their ontology to natural facts. They need non-natural normative facts that transcend biological differences. In the contemporary intellectual landscape, this is controversial but not absurd.
We might be somewhat close to an interesting argument here.

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If we discovered that life was ubiquitous, then Kantian Wontianism would be the least unsatisfactory solution to the Fermi Paradox [...
Why?
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...], and normative non-naturalism is essential to any successful Kantian Wontian story.
Is it?
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Once we grant these conclusions, it then follows that the discovery of independently originating life supports normative non-naturalism – in the modest sense that this new information raises the probability that normative non-naturalism is true. Philosophical claims can be supported by empirical facts in surprising ways.
A bit too liberal with the conclusions here.

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Theism supports Kantianism. By supporting Kantian Wontianism, the discovery that life is ubiquitous thus indirectly supports theism. But what kind of theism? What sort of universe would a Kantian Wontian God create? Could the God of traditional theism create a universe where life was ubiquitous?
Or more precisely (imo), what sort of God would create this universe?

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The discovery of extraterrestrial life would thus support theism in two ways. We saw earlier that independently originating life would raise the probability of two other hypotheses that support theism, namely Kantianism and normative non-naturalism. We now see that ubiquitous life would also allow theists to agree with Leibniz that God has, indeed, created the best of all possible worlds.
Not really.

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n my book Purpose in the Universe (2015), I defend a new alternative to both atheism and (traditional) theism. Ananthropocentric purposivism (AP) holds that the Universe has a purpose and that humans are irrelevant to that purpose. If there is a God, then God cares about what matters, but we do not matter to God. Western theism has always combined both God-centred and human-centred elements. While we are created in God’s image, there is a vast distance between our feeble human concerns and God’s incomprehensible divine plan. AP pushes God-centred theism to extremes, abandoning divine benevolence altogether.
Yes, abandon the projection of human values on to God.

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If aliens converge on a metaphysical view, it could be something like ananthropocentric purposivism. Perhaps all advanced civilisations are Wontians because they are simply indifferent to anything we care about, including communication with beings such as us. If life is ubiquitous, this might be the best solution to the Fermi Paradox. But it paints a very unsettling picture of our place in the cosmos.
Sure.

All in all, even though the author reaches an interesting conclusion, the article is a good example of why intentional philosophy fails. The conclusion same can be reached and generalized, but without the need for any philosophy at all.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 10:56:55 pm by TLEILAXU »

Madness

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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 02:14:44 pm »
All in all, even though the author reaches an interesting conclusion, the article is a good example of why intentional philosophy fails. The conclusion same can be reached and generalized, but without the need for any philosophy at all.

You seem to have a better grasp of the language than I, tleilaxu, but can you unpack the bold for me and how it follows from your various preceding comments?
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 07:48:42 pm »
All in all, even though the author reaches an interesting conclusion, the article is a good example of why intentional philosophy fails. The conclusion same can be reached and generalized, but without the need for any philosophy at all.

You seem to have a better grasp of the language than I, tleilaxu, but can you unpack the bold for me and how it follows from your various preceding comments?
Arguing for normative non-naturalism.

Wilshire

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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2017, 04:24:03 pm »
I'm reminded of Xenocide and Children of the Mind (Card) Piggies - or whatever the name was for the native sentient aliens. "Treat other's like you'd want to be treated" doesn't applies poorly to other species. Spoilers aside, when a high honor for one is the biggest trespass for another, things get rather confusing.
Hardly works in different cultures - imagine butchering the family cow for a feast because a dignitary from India was staying over :P . We can only just barely interact with other humans from different cities, let alone continents and cultural histories - trying to navigate that with another sentient animal seems far, far off.
I definitely don't think humanity today is capable of acknowledging another animal as sentient.
One of the other conditions of possibility.