No life or short life?

Which is preferred: to have never lived or to have lived a short life, fairly content, and to die without too much distress?

Consider it from the POV of humans and from the POV of the potential suggested in this article to make livestock for meat a thing of the past. (Yes, I know i is a long way from reality.)

Are the answers different? If so why?

How would a creature (human or otherwise) that never existed be able to compare its existence with one that had?

That is, of course, not the question. The question is how do you compare the two. Unless you feel that it is impossible to compare one and none.

Whose preference?

Once the “quality of life” issues is settled – the quality is stipulated to be “fair or better” – then the next question, to my mind, is the experience of life.

Human infants don’t really have much in the way of “experience.” Not until around 18 months of age does even the most basic function of abstract reasoning arise. Very, very young infants are not fully conscious, at least not in the way that, say, a five year old child is.

Once you get up into the toddler stage, life can be pretty good. Human quality of life, in the rich industrialized nations anyway, seems to reach a localized peak at around age 12. After that, it’s adolescence and getting bullied at school…

A friend of mine lost her brother to a nasty genetic disease that caused him to die slowly and painfully at around age 12. The quality of life declined severely at the very end. So, when she was pregnant, and learned that her child was going to have the same disease, she chose an abortion. She decided that twelve good years wasn’t sufficient justification for the last year or so of slow, horrible dying.

Many would say this was the wrong decision. Others would say it was the right one. Yet others might suggest there is no single “right decision” available, and that no two people will assign the same weights to the moral pluses and minuses.

This is where choice comes in play. The real question is what do you want to do. And the answer to that defines you.
Personally, I prefer a brief lifespan, filled with meaningful work, kids, blah blah… might be bcause i m old fashioned :smiley:

I’d go with no life. You can’t miss what you never had.


I’m not sure what the article had to do with the question.:confused:

Don’t you mean “a brief lifespan, filled with meaningless work, kids, blah blah…”? :smiley:

As described – a life that’s “fairly content, and to die without too much distress” I don’t see the argument against life vs. no life, regardless of the length of the life. The argument that no life is better because you can’t miss what you never had makes no sense to me. When would you be missing life? Once you’re dead you won’t be missing anything! Life is a gift. Why not take it if it’s going to be a decent one (per the OP)?

I think it would be different for humans versus (non human) animals. Assuming that animals are oblivious to their mortality - I see a good short life as better than no life.

Not as sure with a human.

The article/question link is basically - if a cow could have a good life, but a short one, and was killed humanely - is that really worse than no cow at all?

At least that is what I was getting from this post.

Where can I return it or exchange it for something more useful?

I still don’t know what the story about artificial meat has to do with anything or how it would have any effect on my answer.

I hadn’t seen DataX’s post.

That POV hadn’t occurred to me me. I don’t see anyone wanting to use me as meat, I’m way too fat.:smiley:

Say I had ten children, to whom I gave all the love in the world, but then smothered in their sleep at one year of age. Would this be preferable to not having children at all? Good luck with getting a jury to think so.

Well I don’t think a jury should acquit someone of murder in that case, but let’s say the death was totally painless.

Then let’s say at the end of the trail - you are convicted, but the judge brings the jury back and and tells them.

“I have a new invention. A time machine. You can press this button - and the kids will never have existed - wipe out their memories of their existence for all eternity if you so choose”

I might be in the minority, but I would convict you (assuming the evidence was sufficient), but I wouldn’t push the button.

Forget the smothering issue – most people wouldn’t push that button under any circumstances (well, unless one of the kids is hitler…).

And I think it’s because of our intuitions about actual vs potential life. Now, some of those intuitions may be invalid in a world where trivial time travel exists.
But it’s difficult for someone in our world to appreciate or adjust to that kind of reality.

The question was inspired by the article: artificial meat could theoretically mean no more livestock. Independent of health of the planet and of humanity, from an ethical-philosophical POV, is it a “greater good” to have a species in the world, albeit to have them raised for food (assuming done humanely and in manner consistent with them living a content life)? Or to have them not be born? Would I answer differently if I was thinking of humans and humanity? If so, and I think for me it is so, why do I think that?

I was not sure how to answer it for myself so I wondered what the TMs would think.

I too find the question very relevant in deciding for myself the ethics of meat eating. I have pondered the question and I honestly don’t know an answer yet. Thanks for posting the OP, Dseid.

:: subscribes to thread ::

So are we supposed to assume that animals raised for food have a good life until it’s time for them to be slaughtered? That’s not exactly what I’ve heard.

Right now, no. I think that for industrially raised chickens, no life is better then their current miserable short lives. At least, if some god made me choose between such a life and oblivion, I’d choose oblivion. For cows and horses, I’d think I’d choose life. Pigs I’m on the fence about. Pigs in traditional farms are bored stiff, yet seen more or less content. Free range pigs seen like they have fun and contentment.

If all livestock would be raised according to the current standards for organically produced meat, then what would I choose? A short life, or oblivion? And I really don’t know. If I was born a male chick, for instance, my life would still be a short period of missing a mother, disorientation, followed by bewildering transport, followed by being thrown on a conveyor and sucked into a machine that hacked me to pieces. Quickly hacked me to pieces, it would be over in a second, and I would not dread or understand any of it, but still. If I had to choose between oblivion and being born as an male chick on an organic farm, I’ll have oblivion, please.

And If I’d choose oblivion, doesn’t in follow that the ethical thing to choose as a consumer is artificial meat?