The Philosophy and Opinions of Chisanga Puta
Hedonistic Altruism instead of Hedonistic Utilitarianism

For the second time I’m reconsidering altruism as an alternative to utilitarianism. “Reconsidering” in the sense of possibly regarding it as the better ethical system, I’m not an altruist and I don’t claim to be one. Both are forms of consequentialism but (in theory) a utilitarian gives equal consideration to all beings and an altruist gives greater consideration to other beings (I still think that every other being should be regarded as equal to every other being except oneself). Humility does not regard others as equal, it regards them as greater. This is an irrational position. I still believe that happiness is (factually) the only intrinsic good and the logically consistent conclusion to this is hedonistic utilitarianism ; regarding one’s own well-being as equal in value to everyone else’s. But the first concern is not which position is logically consistent  but which position is more likely to maximize a greater balance of happiness over suffering if adopted individually or on a widespread level. I believe altruism is better because for self-aware, rational beings the secret to stable, long term happiness that isn’t dependent on external circumstances is to respect, love and care about others more than you do yourself (in addition to gratitude, which I think is related to compassion, as well as optimism, positive thinking etcetera). A preoccupation with one’s own happiness and pain is like ‘putting all of your eggs in one basket’ and I think there’s strong evidence for people being happier when they focus more on something other than themselves and their own emotional states. Altruism is much easier said than done (hence “ I’m not an altruist and I don’t claim to be one” ) and it doesn’t guarantee happiness but I think altruistic tendencies necessarily make it more likely - other factors considered. What’s the point in maintaining the logically consistent position if another position is necessarily more likely to maximize happiness?

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A secondary point for ‘altruism’ (that doesn’t necessarily involve a fundamental greater concern for others over oneself) is that a natural bias in favor of our own well-being prevents us from being impartial in our ethical judgments and assuming that others stand to gain more from a decision that has some cost to ourselves or giving their interests priority when expected cost-benefit to both parties is roughly equal helps curb this bias.
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Altruism doesn’t look that different than utilitarianism in practice. I still think that people should care about their own happiness even if I may no longer consider this to be moral (it would still be moral for me to encourage other people to be somewhat ’selfish’). I don’t want anyone to sacrifice their arm to prevent someone else from getting a paper cut. Even giving greater consideration to the happiness and suffering of others would still allow prioritizing your interests in some circumstances. It’s been argued that altruism is counter productive because if two people both insist that the other have the last piece of pie neither will ever eat it. Altruists should be able to accept gifts and help from others if they believe the other person will experience sympathetic joy from making them happier. The offer means something and it’s enough. I also still believe that an altruist’s ethical concern should extend to all other sentient beings and every other other being should be regarded as equal to every other (besides oneself). Altruism is inherently impartial. Without bringing your feelings (your emotional attachments) into consideration there would be no reason to prioritize one being’s interests over any other’s. I don’t think that altruism should come from an impersonal sense of duty but we truly respect other people and do them justice when we consider their feelings for the sake of considering their feelings and not just our feelings about them. Paradoxically, impartiality might be the highest expression of ‘loyalty’ toward friends, family members and anyone who has special status when it comes to our affections (and although there are selfish reasons to try to love everyone since love is happiness I don’t consider affection without a genuine concern for the felt well-being of others to be moral. The two are clearly related but there seem to be many people who sincerely ‘love’ or have positive feelings toward people whose privately felt emotional states they have little to no concern for. I see this as objectifying. ).
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There’s still the issue of demandingness that applies to the altruism required by utilitarianism as well. You’re in a better position to help others if you’re not burnt out or suffering from so-called ‘compassion fatigue’. Other altruists should also demand that you be a little selfish, for their sake. Moral perfection isn’t practical.
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Altruism could possibly have less demoralizing implications than utilitarianism when it comes to hypothetical or even practical necessary evils such as when the only way to maximize a single point of happiness for 1000 people each involves causing 500 points of pain to one person. It’s true that altruism can justify sacrificing someone’s interests for the benefit of *others* but an altruist would not want to profit at the expense of another, even if the benefit to him or herself was equal to or somewhat greater than the cost to the victim so none of the 1000 would accept the 1 point benefit or even benefit at all from the sacrifice of the one’s interests if they were all altruists and were aware that someone was being harmed or disadvantaged for their sake - and we should encourage other people to be somewhat altruistic not just because they’re more likely to help others (besides ourselves) but because they themselves will probably be happier if they lean more toward altruism than egoism.
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If affective empathy-sympathy-compassion means caring about the happiness and suffering of others (and this is the only definition that would make me regard it as virtuous. My concern is still with felt emotional states and not preference fulfillment or some kind of Objective List value) then hedonistic altruism and not hedonistic utilitarianism is an ethics of empathy because empathy is other oriented. Hedonistic utilitarianism justifies my causing someone 50 points of pain if it’s the only possible way for me to experience 100 points of happiness (factoring into consideration any long term harm caused by the memory of this event; including guilt felt by the beneficiary) . There are definitely many circumstances in which prioritizing your interests over someone else’s is understandable but it doesn’t stem from empathy and it’s not intuitively virtuous or moral.
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Subjective idealism

After having been a hardcore materialist, agnostic about the mind-body issue and a pan-psychist I’m now considering that the polar opposite of materialism might be true ; that there is no mind independent physical world and subjective experience is the only ‘substance’ that exists. As ‘new ageish’ and hokey as that might sound it might be the only coherent mind-body problem position that takes the existence of consciousness seriously.

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Materialism fails because a coherent version of materialism has to deny the existence of consciousness (and I mean what “appears” to be consciousness because appearance is consciousness). When considering the different alternatives the one starting point that I’m absolutely committed to is the existence of consciousness (I’m also convinced that an internally self-contradicting proposition must be false for the same reason a proposition that contradicts direct experience must be false but whether or not a proposition is internally self-contradicting isn’t always obvious). My reasoning is fallible but direct experience is undeniable and certain. To argue that consciousness is an illusion (that - contrary to appearance- it is “really” the third party neurological activity that it corresponds with) violates the law of identity and is tantamount to denying it altogether. An illusion is an experience. The subjective experience of thoughts, feelings and sensory perception (of things other than neurological activity) is not the image of neurons firing and forming synapses that I might see under a microscope. It isn’t the same thing viewed from different perspectives. Electrical and chemical signals in the brain aren’t internal mental states and neurons would still have to be already sentient in order to perceive them as such. Neurological activity can’t be conscious (and consciousness can’t be an emergent property of activity) because activity is not a thing, it is behavior carried out by things. The strong emergence of consciousness from behavior carried out by (or an arrangement of) non-conscious particles is inconceivable (a thing cannot contain entirely new properties not possessed by any of it’s components. A ‘whole’ is-not more than- the sum of it’s parts) and there’s no reason whatsoever why it should occur but materialism goes one step further than emergent property dualism in flat out contradicting the existence of the one thing we can be certain of. None of the other positions can be ruled out empirically even if they aren’t supported by experience alone.
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Materialists and property dualists agree on the implausibility of substance dualism (I think of pan-psychism - the view that mind is intrinsic to matter- as the non-emergent version of property dualism- the view that mind and at least some matter are different properties of the same one substance). It’s not conceivable how mind could interact with matter or have any causal influence on it if they are two fundamentally different things that share no commonality. A disembodied mind - which we can imagine ( being paralyzed with no sensory perception) - would not be a spatial entity that could exchange energy and momentum with physical objects or temporarily occupy a body - which is a region of space. The mind-matter interaction that substance dualism requires violates the law of conservation. What I didn’t realize as a pan-psychist is that property dualism collapses into substance dualism, the same reasoning  I would have used to argue against substance dualism can be used to discredit pan-psychism (I currently believe). A substance is defined by it’s properties. If a causal relationship or interaction between mind and matter as two fundamentally different things is inconceivable then it’s just as hard to imagine the two being interdependent or shared traits of the same one substance. How can non-spatial phenomenon be intrinsic to spatial entities? How does a physical entity have non-physical characteristics? It seems contradictory to say that something is simultaneously spatial and non-spatial or that it has two kinds of properties that are fundamentally incomparable. Even the analogy I once used of the mind being the ‘inside’ to the body’s ‘outside’ doesn’t seem to work. The inside of a house takes up space and it makes sense that the inside of a spatial object would. How can something that is not located in space be ‘attached’ to something that is?
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Idealism might raise more unresolvable questions than it answers but it has many points going for it. It’s one possible solution to many of the paradoxes and mysteries of quantum physics (like the effect that simply observing quantum particles seems to have on them or objects being located simultaneously in different locations). I’m not a physics expert and I don’t know how many of these events are genuinely ‘spooky’ or just the physicist’s tendency to word the behavior of quantum particles in confusing and seemingly illogical ways (contrary to popular belief there is no evidence of particles literally arising out of ‘nothing’). Idealism is arguably supported by Occamz Razor. Everyone agrees that we have no direct access to an external, physical world. Every statement we make about it is a statement about our perception. The assumption of a non-mental reality beyond anything we could ever experience can be considered an unnecessary supposition. If mind and matter are fundamentally different how can mind-independent physical events cause our mental representations of them? Even if the possibility of a non-mental physical world can’t be ruled out through experience alone is even the possibility of sensory perception being a representation of that reality coherent if everyone agrees that we can never have any direct access to a non-mental physical world? How could there even possibly be an intrinsically non-mental physical world that is more or less identical to sensory perception (there’s no distinction between sensory perception and the ‘objects’ of sensory perception) - which is mental and which only tells us about itself-despite being non-mental? It’s impossible to understand what the nature of a non-mental physical world could be beyond our perception of it. I don’t think the assumption of other minds is superfluous in the same way because I know at least one to exist. It may be that we collectively and subconsciously create the same shared and consistent ‘virtual’ reality because we are connected or that the illusory physical world is dictated by a powerful being (hopefully a compassionate and omnibenevolent being who has a valid excuse for allowing the suffering she does. As a pan-psychist I was a strong atheist but as an idealist I would have to consider myself to be an agnostic about a god or gods. I’ve been an agnostic before but I didn’t think evidence for an incorporeal god’s probable existence was even theoretically possible). There is some not completely illegitimate evidence for Out of Body Experiences, reincarnation and possibly even other paranormal phenomenon that is readily dismissed by many materialists. Idealism allows for this. As hard as it is for some materialists and dualists alike to take such a ‘mystical’ and counter intuitive view of reality seriously I don’t think that there are any logical or empirical problems with ‘mentalism’.
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Hedonistic Utilitarianism and Animal Equality revisted

Many ethical vegans and animal rights theorists have serious issues with utilitarianism as an ethical view either for reasons unrelated to their attitudes toward non-human animals or because they believe utilitarianism is in direct conflict with the ethical principles they use to justify their anti-speciesist position. I feel that this is ironic because no other ethical philosophy can defend the idea of animal equality as well as hedonistic utilitarianism can. Regardless of whatever non-animal related reasons ethical vegans may have for rejecting hedonistic utilitarianism it is a thoroughly non-speciesist worldview because the interests of humans and non-human animals is given equal consideration and the criterion for what constitutes ‘interests’ or the basis of moral status is a characteristic that humans almost indisputably share with non-human animals ; a capacity to experience happiness and pain. Preference utilitarianism (which is concerned with the fulfillment of preferences and not our actual experience of emotional states per se) is implicitly speciesist because it involves an unavoidable hierarchy between beings whose desires are moment to moment and beings who can have extended future oriented desires as well as an abstract and self-conscious desire to continue existing. I’m not convinced that most non-human animals lack self-awareness and a capacity for mental time travel but I can imagine a hypothetical being for whom this would be true despite their feeling the same basic emotions that psychologically normal human adults do and I have to take seriously the possibility that only a handful of species posses these characteristics because it seems to be the general consensus among researchers. Someone could in turn accuse hedonistic utilitarianism of being ‘kingdomist’ because the criterion for moral status is a trait that excludes some biological organisms but hedonistic utilitarianism involves no hierarchy, either you are a full fledged person or you are not. Also unlike preference utilitarianism, hedonistic utilitarianism gives equal consideration to the interests of potential beings (when understood in this way, ‘moral replaceability’ becomes less chilling) because it is concerned with the maximization of what’s good, preference utilitarians are concerned with the actually formed preferences of beings who do or did exist. According to the preference utilitarian view, because factory farmed animals do not have a desire to live per se (this would require a meta-cognitive realization and concept that one is alive and is the same being who exists over time and favoring this future existence over the conceivable alternative) the primary issue is with the unwanted pain caused and not the killing or the prevention of the future happiness they could have otherwise experienced. Arguably there is a difference between a preference and a desire ( one can have a desire to eat tasty but unhealthy food or have sex with an attractive partner but rationally prefer not to).

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A libertarian argument for animal equality fails for similar reasons. If autonomy is understood to be sole decision making control over one`s body someone could argue that most non-human animals lack a capacity to make choices and thus that their autonomy cannot be violated. Obviously pigs, chickens, cows and fishes want to avoid the painful conditions that are inflicted on to them but `choice` requires consciously considering and evaluating alternatives and rationally preferring one over the other. If I accidentally place my hand on a burning stove I immediately move it away because I`m driven by an emotional desire to avoid pain but not because I`ve rationally decided that doing so would result in a more favored state of affairs. Again, I am nowhere near convinced that most non-human animals lack a capacity to make decisions but I can imagine this being the case for some animals. If autonomy is understood simply as doing what you want to do with your body then pro animal equality people will run into the same problem with libertarianism that they do with preference utilitarianism.
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Deontology is one of the two very broad opposing normative ethical views (I consider virtue ethics to be dependent on circular reasoning if you don`t refer to the desirability of either actions or consequences to determine what good character and intentions are) and in focusing on the rightness or wrongness of actions in contrast with utilitarianism`s concern with consequences it emphasizes inalienable rights and duties. To include all emotional beings completely we have to reject the idea of rights being intrinsic to rational minds who can make choices or form rational preferences regarding their own existence. If we say that these rights come from a capacity to feel (or have desires, the felt satisfaction and frustration of which would be pleasurable and painful) then we eventually arrive at hedonistic utilitarianism if we want to actually help beings and not just allow them the opportunity to pursue their interests. What would we base our claim that they should have the opportunity to pursue happiness on if not the goodness of their actual happiness? Or alternatively, why would the infliction of pain be morally bad if pain itself is not bad? If pain is bad then the focus should be on minimizing it as opposed to just not causing it, even when causing some of it is absolutely necessary to minimize more of it.  Where do natural rights come from to begin with, the concept is not supported by evidence and while it may be logically coherent it’s not logically demonstrable (the meta-ethical view that justifies hedonistic utilitarianism is empirically justified but even if moral realism is false consistency still requires equal concern for everyone’s happiness if we care about anyone’s happiness because happiness is happiness just like water is water and fire is fire).
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The senseless killing of cognitively less developed animals (including human infants and severely retarded adults) can only be opposed out of concern for the victim’s felt well-being and not out respect for autonomy or preference. If autonomy and preference fulfillment don’t work what non-hedonistic concept of ‘interests’ or ‘welfare’ can someone base an argument for non-speciesist equal consideration on and if they accept that experiencing happiness and avoiding pain is the only thing that benefits someone they still have to regard the happiness and suffering of factory farmed animals as good and bad simpliciter in order to justify opposing behavior that harms animals unnecessarily. This leads us to support a view of maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering and not absolutely inalienable rights (I do think that every being should have an absolute right to equal consideration if not certain actual treatment). To the extent that someone opposes factory farming, vivisection or the general oppression of non-human animals because ‘animals want to live’ or ‘they have a right to decide their own destiny’ I think they should seriously reconsider their position. Maybe they would adopt a value pluralist world view with suffering regarded as one of many bads but as long as some wrongdoing applies only to humans or ‘human-like’ animals and not all non-human animals (ie. anything that does not cause pain or minimize happiness but is still considered immoral) then the moral hierarchy will remain and there will be at least some hypothetical scenarios when the interests of non-humans will be completely in-commensurable with the human interests they’re being sacrificed for. Someone could argue that it is an animal’s life that has value (regardless of what they want or would choose) and not their happiness but they have to come up with some non-arbitrary reason why they believe this or at least it should be consistent with every other moral judgment they make (if they care about having a rational ethical code) and it’s hard for me to imagine why just existing would be beneficial.
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It’s worth noting that Bentham and Mill had attitudes toward non-human animals that were inconsistent with their ethical philosophies (Mill’s ‘qualitative’ hedonism was incoherent in itself). Bentham felt that the suffering of non-humans mattered equally but seemed to ignore the fact that killing an animal will prevent them from experiencing the happiness they would have otherwise felt. Mill’s assumption that humans are capable of experiencing pleasure that is qualitatively more valuable than what non-humans can experience is unintelligible because ‘quality’ refers to the nature of a thing and not the amount of it. One shade of blue can be quantitatively darker than another but it cannot be qualitatively ‘more blue’. Light blue isn’t closer to pink than dark blue is. Either a ladybug can experience happiness or (s)he cannot, it is a yes or no thing like vision or hearing which is also unrelated to cognition. If (s)he can then his or her happiness at any specific moment is just as valuable as the same amount felt by humans.
Prisoner’s rights

I don’t believe that prison abolition is practical at this point in history but there are some general and specific reforms that I think should probably be implemented. Some of these policies may already be in practice in some places and in some prisons :

* Legal discrimination against ex-convicts (when it comes to employment, housing, voting etc.) should be abolished. One’s criminal record should not be made available to the general public.
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* Prisons should not be privately owned and run by private companies. If they are motivated by profit and not public interest then they have the wrong incentive and less of a vested interest in the well-being of prisoners or deterring recidivism. I can’t imagine what kind of an impartial standard a privately run prison in an anarchist society would answer to if they probably had a bias in appeasing clients rather than a non-profit based concern for ‘justice’.
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* Rape as well as physical and serious psychological abuse in general should be harder for both guards and prisoners to commit and easier for victims to report.
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* Life w/out possibility of parole should be abolished (this would also give ‘lifers’ an incentive to not harm others).
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* Non-violent offenders should not be integrated with violent offenders and most non-violent offenses (ie. drug possession or sex work) should be decriminalized.
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* House arrest, community service (especially something like working in a hospital or animal shelter) and/or some form of restitution to the victims or victim’s loved ones should always be preferred over incarceration which should be a last resort.
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* Prisoners should have the option of a vegan diet and lifestyle ( I hope the day comes when factory farmed animal products are not an option).
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* I do not accept psychology as a legitimate science and I believe that anti-depressants are typically no more effective than placebos and that psychiatric drugs can cause serious ‘mental health’ issues by tampering with the brain’s natural hormonal balance in addition to having a devastating long-term effect on one’s physical health (all of this is supported by evidence) but I do think that consensual therapy can be beneficial and prisoner’s should have the right to talk with therapists, health care workers, religious and spiritual leaders or anyone who can offer positive counsel or a sympathetic ear.
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* There should be as much emphasis on rewarding good behavior as there is on punishing bad.
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* Considering the link between physical health and mental well-being I think that prisoners should have the option of not only a healthy diet but regular aerobic exercise, classes that teach meditation and yoga (as well as positive thinking and how to cultivate a compassionate attitude), fresh air etc. as well as recreational activities like art, music, drama, writing and so on.
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* Some research suggests that classical music played in prisons helps to lower aggression and I suspect this is true for peaceful, slow tempo instrumental music in general (especially ambient music with no dominant melody) and maybe even jazz as well.
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* Prisons should officially celebrate the birthdays of every inmate
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People can only be as kind as their environment and past experience allow them to be. The more mistreated prisoners are the more of a threat they will be to other people.
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Whether or not all of these policies are practical (or all of my claims true) my main point is that a right to equal consideration should be inalienable and punishment should never cause more suffering than the crimes it is intended to deter. Deterrence is the only justification for punishment which is evil whether it’s necessary or not.
Non-monogamy and competition

I wouldn’t be interested in swinging (one committed romantic relationship with non-romantic casual sex partners ) even if a relationship of any kind were an option because of the emphasis on separating sexual attraction from romantic affection. It seems to me that the two necessarily involve one another (other people might feel differently). I’m not sure why romantic feelings should be suppressed even if they don’t. It seems to me that sexual pleasure stems more from the emotional intimacy that sex involves than the raw physical sensations. Swinging seems inhibiting but I wouldn’t be sociable enough for polyamory (multiple romantic relationships) and I’m not interested in one committed relationship let alone multiple. Everyone may not have in mind what I do when I use the terms ‘swinging’ and ‘polyamory’. I don’t feel that romantic love warrants a formal commitment considering it’s unstable nature but I don’t think that can be connected to my basic ethical belief (I would say that any relationship -platonic or romantic or committed or casual-serves no valid purpose other than the happiness of some or all of the parties involved). I do think that a valid argument can be made for non-monogamy beyond just personal preference.

Besides arguing for non-monogamy on the basis that people who themselves prefer to be monogamous should want their partners to experience whatever happiness they would if they developed relationships with other people or even that having sexual/romantic encounters or relationships for at least partially altruistic reasons can be considered acts of kindness, the widespread adoption of non-monogamy would eliminate competition for mates which might radically alter society in ways we wouldn’t immediately consider. The same mentality that could lead one to reject the competition for resources that capitalism involves could lead one to reject the competition for exclusive sexual and romantic companionship that monogamy (as well as polygyny and polyandry) involve. Competition necessarily involves a conflict of interests. In a more altruistic and empathetic society there would be less competition because people would identify with the interests of other people and the emphasis would be on co-operation. It’s not unreasonable to limit sharing when it comes to a scarce and finite resource like food because you shouldn’t care any less about your interests than you do anyone else’s (the diminishing marginal utility of a finite thing almost always justifies some degree of sharing but if someone else would benefit from something more than you would I think that you should prefer that they have it) but to have a problem with someone else spending intimate time with your partner that they wouldn’t have otherwise spent with you anyways suggests that instead of sympathizing with your ‘competitor’ you see an unnecessary conflict of interests where there doesn’t have to be one. It’s ironic that jealousy could be a big factor in someone’s opposition to non-monogamy when jealousy is only warranted in a monogamous arrangement. Your partner’s time and energy is finite (and you would have to share that with their platonic friends and family members and children regardless) but feeling love for one person doesn’t lessen the amount someone is capable of feeling for another. Although personal history and familiarity has a lot to do with attachment, characteristics that draw you to one person will draw you to another (which is why I don’t believe that, in terms of actual desire, there are any sexually monogamous animals).
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Some non-monogamous people would argue that polyamory does involve competition  because people are hurt by the idea of their partner being more attracted to one of their other partners or the possibility of being ranked and compared to others. This is no less of an issue in monogamous relationships except that in monogamous relationships it could culminate in  one partner leaving the other for a ‘better’ one (or an unfamiliar one of they’re driven by a need for variety). In a non-monogamous society romantic rejection and frustration would still exist and relationships would still fall apart but no one would leave anyone for anyone else if they weren’t given the ultimatum (by their partner or their own preference for one mate). Someone only ‘has’ to decide which of two options is better if they’re restricted to one.  If two women are interested in one monogamous man  at least one of them has to be rejected in favor of another . In a non-monogamous arrangement no one has to have favorites. I would think that people would love different people in different ways or for different reasons rather than more or less but either way non-monogamy would still eliminate competition for actual mates and any competition to be someone’s favorite would stem from the same mentality that I’d criticize, people would want to be their partner’s favorite not because they would want to be more loved than they are but because they don’t want anyone else to be loved more than they are. The problem isn’t that you don’t have a higher amount of something but that someone else has more of it than you do, this wouldn’t be a problem if you identified with the interests of the envied person. Many people would argue that competition is or can be good because it helps one to maximize their potential or drive them to succeed or to not take their partner for granted but it isn’t the only incentive that can accomplish this. Raising children communally might also have some benefits that a polyamorous home environment could provide. 
Communism

I’ve always believed that a communist economy was morally ideal but I’m now coming to think that encouraging a non-violent and democratic transition to a global (or possibly inter-planetary) communist economy is practically desirable. If capitalism provides the incentive that boosts economic production it’s only because people are as self-interested as they are and I think our egocentric tendencies should be discouraged. Communism that works on a widespread level might be achieved by developing a culture that is oriented around altruism and universal empathy. I disagree with the class warfare and violent revolution that Marxism involves. I think of capitalism as amoral but not as an injustice (although I don’t believe in natural property rights either). I think that liberals and other leftists make a mistake in arguing for progressive taxation and economic redistribution on the basis of fairness or ‘social justice’ and not just a concern for the welfare of the less fortunate. The egalitarianism that I believe is moral is equal consideration of everyones’s interests (emotional well-being) and not economic or political equality for it’s own sake. Similarly, I think that everyone in the ideal society would be equally happy only because everyone would experience as much happiness as a person could and not because the equalization of happiness or suffering itself is worth promoting. Bringing those who are better off down to the level of those who are worse off is counter productive.

I’ve also come to realize that my ideal society isn’t properly thought of as ‘anarchist’-communist. Coercion wouldn’t exist in my perfect utopia only because it would be unnecessary but the utilitarians in this society would be willing to initiate coercion and force for the greater good, which would include the allocation of resources on the basis of benefit alone and controlling means of production with the interests of the community as a whole in mind if the harm done was compensated for and necessary. In the same way that regarding violence as distasteful is not enough to make one a pacifist if they are still willing to employ it, consistent anarchists are willing to use force only to combat or prevent force. I think that physical force-and the threat of it- can be justified to prevent suffering that isn’t the result of the infringement of autonomy. Even in ideal circumstances, I think that a communist one world government that is prepared to initiate force would be justified if this party gave every being’s interests the same consideration and had as it’s sole objective making the world a better place. 

Doing vs. allowing and the trolley problem

Causing pain or depriving someone of happiness is morally bad in all conceivable hypothetical scenarios. The utilitarian position should never be misrepresented as being “OK” with something like pushing a man in front of a runaway trolley in order to save 5 passengers even if this is the best decision someone could make under those circumstances. Hedonistic utilitarianism would not actually favor killing the 1 to save the 5 simply because more people benefit. The ‘greatest happiness for the greatest number of people’ is a double maxim because maximizing happiness and maximizing the number of happy people are two different goals. There are factors involved that could make killing the 1 worse than letting the 5 die. This could be the case if the 1 was a single mother in her 30s and the 5 were terminally ill senior citizens or if the 1 was kind and compassionate and the 5 were sadistic and cruel (I believe that everyone’s happiness has equal inherent value but people who are kind and compassionate are more instrumentally valuable because they are necessarily more likely to maximize happiness generally and never mind their actually being happier) or even if the 1 had social, political and economic influence that could help many people that the 5 lacked. All other factors being equal the death of 5 people would be even worse than the death of 1. We should be completely demoralized by the idea of killing 1 to save 5 but there’s no valid reason to make a distinction between harming or killing people and allowing them to suffer or die. We should be just as demoralized by the idea of allowing people to suffer or die. Allowing people to die may not be ‘unjust’ since no one is entitled to help but it has the same consequence and when it isn’t reluctantly deemed necessary for the greater good it involves the same lack of empathy.  The badness of killing the 1 should be weighed against the badness of allowing the 5 to die. It’s the ultimatum that is cold and harsh, not utilitarian reasoning. The hedonistic utilitarian wants everyone involved and all sentient beings generally to be free from pain and to experience happiness. The utilitarian would not sacrifice the 1 out of a lack of empathy for him or her or their loved ones who will mourn their death but because (s)he empathizes just as much with the 5 passengers and their loved ones. Sacrificing the interests of some is sometimes necessary for the same reason it’s bad to begin with. If it’s an option and if all other factors are equal the best thing for the utilitarian to do would probably be to sacrifice him or herself instead of anyone else which would let people know that sincere utilitarians are serious about egalitarianism (read : impartiality).

Some might argue that a utilitarian should not kill the 1 to save the 5 because it would lead to public outrage and alienate people from utilitarianism. Any public outrage it lead to would be the result of non-utilitarian intuitions which utilitarians should discourage. It’s one thing to argue that a harmful decision is not a necessary evil because it will not produce the best possible overall consequences or that uncertainty about what the consequences of a decision will be justifies being cautious or not making unwarranted assumptions but I don’t believe hedonistic utilitarians are ever justified in not promoting hedonistic utilitarianism and criticizing contrary moral views. The best way to ace a test is if your objective is to answer questions correctly instead of just guessing randomly. The best way for moral agents to maximize the balance of happiness over suffering is if doing so is their explicit and sole objective. Any offense or distress that hedonistic utilitarianism causes should clarify why it is the desirable ethical theory . Hedonistic utilitarianism should not be contrasted with an ethics of empathy. I doubt that moral perfection is possible and any human being will ever care equally about the felt welfare of all beings but consistent universal empathy would take us to total hedonistic act-utilitarianism.
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Edit : I do think that you can give a utilitarian argument for certain inalienable legal rights while still promoting utilitarian sentiments so that people wouldn’t have to live in fear of being sacrificed or having to sacrifice someone else.
Moral consistency revisited
Moral realism and moral nihilism are both logically coherent meta-ethical views. If moral realism is true and there are objective moral truths then these truths must be rooted in a single, intrinsic value because it is contradictory to claim that two entirely different things are the same in some respect (sharing the inherent property of goodness or badness) despite being fundamentally different. If moral nihilism is true and intrinsic value does not exist then all normative judgments are completely arbitrary and entirely a matter of personal preference. Many moral nihilists attempt to give a quasi objective justification for their normative judgments but this is what moral nihilism implies. To criticize something is to expose it as factually erroneous or flawed in some way. We can only criticize the belief that 2 + 2 = 7 because it is objectively wrong. Moral criticism is baseless without objective morality. If moral nihilism is true we can still point out matter of factly that certain beliefs that justify some moral positions are untrue or unwarranted or that egoism (and agent relative partiality by extension), value pluralism, double standards and regarding actions (for reasons other than their consequences) or consequences as circumstantially good or bad is morally inconsistent  but there is nothing objectively bad about being inconsistent or believing something that is untrue or unwarranted. I argue that  our experience of pleasure and pain is proof for moral realism because we don’t experience happiness or suffering as being of neutral value and then arbitrarily judge it as good or bad, we experience happiness and suffering as inherently good and bad. The felt value and dis-value of pleasure and pain is judgment independent. The value of happiness cannot be illusory because, unlike the external world of spatial objects which can be misrepresented by our sensory perception of it, happiness is exactly the way that it appears. It is not the visible neurological activity it corresponds with.
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Moral relativism is not a logically coherent view. Cognitive relativism is self-contradictory because the claim that there is no absolute truth is itself presented as an absolute truth. Absolute certainty that absolute certainty is unwarranted is itself absolute certainty. Something can not be true for one person but not for another, this violates the law of excluded middle and the general premise of non-contradiction.  A statement cannot be both true and false in the same respect and it must be either. Normative relativism is self-refuting because consistent relativists must tolerate the view that relativism is intolerable. Relativism provides no neutral basis for settling conflicts between different value systems when they inevitably conflict. Neither relativism or nihilism give us any reason to favor any view or stance over any other.
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Moral consistency requires value monism. Value pluralism is inherently inconsistent. When people advocate maximizing happiness in some scenarios (there’s no conflict between maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering because happiness and suffering are positive and negative versions of the same one thing) and preference fulfillment, life, justice or some other value in any other they are contradicting themselves. A morally inconsistent worldview is unintelligible in almost the same way as asking someone to raise their right hand without raising their right hand. If someone cares about their own happiness then it is consistent for them to care equally about anyone else’s happiness and this is true regardless of whether or not happiness is inherently desirable. The same cannot be said for preference fulfillment. Like justice and fairness (which I think stem from our capacity for anger and envy and our sense of entitlement), preference fulfillment is purely conceptual. Painting a tree does not cause the fulfillment of someone’s preference for the tree to be painted, painting the tree is the fulfillment of their preference. You can’t say “if you care about your preferences then it’s consistent to care about anyone else’s” because we don’t have generic preferences, our preferences are necessarily oriented toward specific things. It’s not consistent to want a monument built on the moon (someone else’s preference) just because you want your body to be cremated after you die (and there’s no reason for preference utilitarians to distinguish between preference’s regarding one’s own life and preferences regarding the world in general).Retributive justice (giving people their due) is also inconsistent because it involves a double standard based on desert. If killing innocent people is bad then the same action has to be bad when the victim is himself a murderer, rapist, bully or unkind in some way. Killing innocent people is the same action as killing (relatively) immoral people, the circumstance (status of the victim) is different but this doesn’t change the nature of the action. If it’s not the action of killing that is necessarily bad but the consequence (ie. the happiness the victim is deprived of or the grief caused to their loved ones) then the same reasoning applies, you can’t make an arbitrary distinction between the same actions or consequences based on the social status of the affected. The experienced badness of suffering is not in anyway commensurable with the perceived badness of non-experienced preference frustration, injustice and unfairness or any other conventional moral value.
Ex nihilo nihil fit

Without arguing specifically for pan-psychism I think I can show that phenomenal consciousness is eternal and written into the very fabric of reality rather than an epiphenomenal consequence of mindless brain activity. For a thing to come into existence, the potential for it’s existence must have existed prior to it’s actuality. That potential can’t exist in ‘nothingness’, the absence of anything can’t produce something because it doesn’t exist. The potential for a table exists in the elements that are rearranged to form a table, a table cannot be created out of nothing. A thing would have to exist in order to produce itself. Matter-energy has always existed in some form or another (contrary to popular belief, the Big Bang is not a theory about the origin of matter-energy, just as evolution is not a theory about the origin of life, and virtual particles do not literally pop into and out of existence. Virtual particles pop into and out of quantum ‘vacuums’ that are filled with fluctuating energy). If subjective experience is numerically identical to objective brain activity, phenomenal consciousness can come into and out of existence because it is only a particular arrangement of preexisting matter and there is no problem of radical emergence. The problem is that unless you deny the very existence of what ‘appears’ to be consciousness, in claiming that subjective experience is really corresponding objective brain activity materialism defies the law of identity. A rock is a rock and a chair is a chair. Even an illusion would be proof of consciousness since an illusion is an experience. I agree with materialists that consciousness is a process, just not a physical one. Internal mental states are not extended in space, they have no mass and can’t be converted into anything that does, and they cannot be observed through sensory perception but clearly they exist. Even if we define ‘physical’ in a way that includes the mental, the latter is a different ‘dimension’ of nature, or reality, than the external world of spatial objects. Since nothing comes from nothing, every moment of experience must come from a preceding moment of experience in an infinite continuum, the past became the present and the present is becoming the future. Consciousness cannot be created or destroyed, it only changes.

Pan-psychism
Panpsychism is the view that mind is an inherent property of matter as opposed to non-existent (consistent/eliminative materialism), ontologically reducible to brain activity (reductive materialism), causally but not ontologically reducible to brain activity (emergent property dualism) or fundamentally unrelated to the physical world (substance dualism). ‘Panpsychism’ is sometimes used in contrast with ‘panexperientialism’ to include basic cognition and not just some kind of passive experience. Substance dualism argues that the mental and the physical are two different kinds of substances that can exist independently, pan-psychism is the non-emergent form of property dualism which argues that the mental and the physical are two different kinds of properties of the same one ‘substance’. Pan-psychism doesn’t necessarily imply that inanimate objects have unified experience, only that they’re comprised of indivisible particles who do. Animals, as well as individual cells, molecules and atoms, are probably comprised of elementary particles who experience and act in unity. Unlike my claim that happiness and suffering have ‘objective’ (factual) intrinsic value and dis-value I can’t confirm through direct experience that pan-psychism is true but I can rule out materialism empirically and logically and argue that an emergence of mind from mindless matter or a causal interaction between mind and matter as two independent things is also logically incoherent.
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I know through direct experience that consciousness is not objective brain activity. Neurons firing electrical and chemical signals, forming synapses and behaving the way that they do is not the subjective feeling of love, the perception of color or the sensation of heat. Experience is non-spatial and cannot be described or understood with materialistic concepts. I can’t rule out through direct experience the possibility that brain activity causes mental experience but I can rule out through direct experience the idea that experience is an inter-subjectively observable physical process. The materialist position isn’t just that experience is caused by neurological activity, which emergent property dualism claims, but that it can be reduced to it. This leaves me with either 1) mental and physical entities are fundamentally unrelated to each other, 2) phenomenonal consciousness is an inherent property of matter or 3) mental experience is all that exists. Substance dualists have to account for how minds can temporarily animate bodies and interact with the physical world and both emergent property dualists and materialists have the same problem of having to account for how external, physical processes, a particular arrangement of sub-atomic particles, can bring about internal, mental experience where there was none before. I can understand the concept of my knocking over one domino which knocks over another which knocks over another because it makes sense to explain external, inter-subjectively observable events in relation to other external events but how external, physical events in the brain, no matter how complicated, can lead to internal subjective experience is inconceivable because it requires the emergence of a qualitatively new kind of reality (I would also argue that even weak emergence is illusory, it only appears as though complex systems have fundamentally novel properties that are irreducible to the properties of the parts they’re made up of because of our perceptual limitations. What we perceive as the property of wetness is just a specific combination of the already existing properties of the individual particles who make up H20 molecules.The idea of a whole being more than the sum-whole- of it’s parts is logically incoherent and a whole can’t have novel properties not had by any of it’s parts because nothing comes from nothing). Materialists might maintain that neurons don’t experience, experience itself is nothing more than neurological activity, but it’s a direct contradiction to say that external, inter-subjectively observable activity is internal subjectivity and activity can’t experience, only actors can. I’m not denying that the arrangement of matter corresponds with the content of subjective experience, and states of mind change with the rearrangement of matter just as the physical properties of an object do. For one thing to cause another isn’t just to precede it but to have a relationship with it that necessitates it’s existence, for two things to have a causal relationship or interact they have to share some commonality, to be the same in some respect which brings me back to my argument against materialism. Cartesian interaction is also unintelligible because minds aren’t spatial objects that the physical world can exchange energy with and they would have to be located in space in order to enter or leave bodies which would be moving through space. Some pan-psychists reject the concept of free will or the mental having any causal influence in the physical world based on the causal closure principle but I would counter that mind isn’t something external to matter that causally influences it, mind (desire or will) is an essential trait of matter that enables it’s self-motion or agency. Every event that happens in the universe is driven by feeling.
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The simplest explanation, one without the problem of emergence or causal interaction, seems to be that mental experience is a fundamental attribute of matter and that what we call ‘physical’ (external) and ‘mental’ (internal) are two different aspects of the same thing ( “For every inside there is an outside, and for every outside there is an inside; though they are different, they go together.” - Alan Watts).  I can conceive of mind and matter existing without the other (although without a body a mind couldn’t travel through space or have sensory perception of anything real) and my problem with how independent minds can causally interact with spatial entities is logical and not empirical. Materialism, on the other hand, defies empiricism in addition to being incoherent. Consciousness cannot be an illusion because it would have to exist in order to appear as though it did (our sensory perception of the external world, although mentally real, may misrepresent the external world but consciousness is as exactly as it appears). With metaphysical idealism, the idea that consciousness is all that exists and the polar opposite of materialism, my problem is also not empirical. Sensory perception is mental but the objects of sensory perception are not. Something must cause sensory perception so where did the mind get the idea of inventing something fundamentally different from itself? Everything we can imagine comes from what we what we’ve already perceived or experienced, the ancient Greeks could imagine centaurs only because they’d seen humans and horses and combined the two in a novel way but ideas don’t come entirely from scratch. If the external world is real, there’s no reason to assume that I would be the only outside with an inside.
 
edit - I don’t currently ascribe to pan-psychism, I’m considering a version of idealism that could explain some of the paradoxes of quantum physics.