Saturday, January 9, 2021

MSLN Infinite and Population Ethics

Notes on the "rest view" of population ethics (MSLN population ethics).

To understand this, first read population axiology by Hilary Greaves. (That was my source.) Or search for such terms as:

population ethics

total view

average view

critical level view

Repugnant Conclusion

Sadistic Conclusion

Additionally, Greaves (p. 5) defines the Mere Addition Principle as:

The Mere Addition Principle: Let A be any state of affairs. Let B be a state of affairs that is just like A except that, in addition, some extra people with lives worth living exist in B who do not exist in A. Then B is not worse than A.

(These are notes, rather than a normal post. Fewer words, but you may have to think more. Let me know if this format works.)

The rest view (compare with total view, average view, etc.): God wants to rest. He can't bear what is unbearable forever -- that's what unbearability is all about. New people start out of tune with him and have to come into tune with him. They suffer, and God suffers with them. They also violate legitimacy, which is God. This also causes God to suffer. (These things are unbearable to him.) God can suffer for a finite time, but not infinitely. So there must come a time when no new people are created. There must be a finite number of people who can be with God in the end. It probably has to be an arbitrary number, and it has been chosen or will be chosen by God.

(What if God creates an infinite number of people at once? See the end of this post.)

Ultimately, what threatens entering God's rest is hardening. So well-being can be defined as "likelihood to not be hardened". Society tries to reduce hardening. Hardened people must be destroyed -- God feels the pain of loss.

How does rest view stand up against problems that affect other views?

Repugnant Conclusion: We don't have to create people if we can't take care of them, because God can always create more. He can prolong the duration of the world, to give more time to create people.

Mere Addition Principle: adding a person who won't be hardened is always good. It's not necessarily our responsibility to add that person.

Sadistic Conclusion: Say you have one person with low (less than 50%) likelihood of not being hardened. And you have four people with high (more than 50%) likelihood of not being hardened. If you compare creating the one with creating the four, which is more likely to cause one or more people to be hardened? Whichever one is less likely to produce the hardened outcome is better. I don't think there's anything counter-intuitive here.

What would a society do if it were following the rest view? It may take a certain amount of civilization to be effective at managing temptation and anti-temptation. It takes a certain amount of people to have civilization. And also to make civilization robust, likely to survive. God doesn't or can't intervene in civilizational development beyond a certain point, so a civilization may be a valuable thing to him that we should protect and improve. So there would be a reason to increase population up to a point. (No obligation to engage in space colonization.) Other than the above considerations, try to have a smaller, better-cared-for population.

Strategies for raising likelihood of making it into God's rest, listed in increasing degree of acceptability to secular government: increasing MSLN theism, managing temptation / increasing anti-temptation, fiducial utilitarianism (treats hardening in general, without recommending loyalty to a specific God).

Infinite population (see also "infinite ethics" -- I read Bostrom's "Infinite Ethics"): I'm not sure that infinity can be real (haven't figured out a position on it but intuitively would lean toward "no"). But assuming that it can be, and that we have a population that is infinite in quantity, what then? The number of saved and the number of lost would both be infinite, but the size of the two infinities could vary, and that's an angle of attack for policymakers. Another way to look at it would be: suppose the rate of hardening is 1 per 5. If you have a stream of people, it would look like (where 1 is unhardened and 0 is hardened) 1 1 1 0 1. Or, if you sample ten people, you could get 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1. For whatever finite sampling of the infinite number of people, you will get 1 hardened per 5 unhardened. It's as though there's a density of hardening of 0.2 (20%). 0.2 is a finite number, which (ideally) can be reduced. It requires an infinite number of people to reduce it (but in this scenario, there are an infinite number of people). Would the people actually know to try to reduce the density? God is present in all of reality (even if reality is infinite), so he works to reduce that density in all regions, through the people that exist in them.

If, say, I decide to disobey God and thereby not help my neighbor who is heading toward hardening, then does that matter? It might appear that it does not, if it's assumed that I'm the only one who disobeys. The infinity of other people, lost or saved, would dominate that one loss. The total number of people saved, and lost, would both be infinite, regardless of what I do. But the loss of my neighbor matters to God, who knows everyone, even if there are an infinite number of people. Does God care that the math says that the loss of the person doesn't matter? God's opinions are the foundation of reality, so if he cares, people matter, despite what the math may say.

No comments:

Post a Comment