Utilitarianism’s Repugnant Conclusion

I recently watched the discussion Alex O’Connor (CosmicSkeptic) had with Peter Singer earlier this year on YouTube (check it out for yourself here) in which the pair discuss animal rights and ethics in general. Incidentally, I was really impressed with Singer here. I’d never seen him in this type of… well, it wasn’t a debate, but it was a ‘debate-ish’, discussion before, and I think his experience and knowledge really shone through (by the way, I say this as someone who disagrees with him on a couple of key issues). Anyway, during the discussion, the notorious utilitarian problem known as the repugnant conclusion came up, prompting me to offer my own two cents.

Continue reading

Blindsight (1) – Consciousness as Impediment / Life in a VR Simulation

Blindsight is an exceptional 2006 SF novel, in which Peter Watts raises so many fascinating philosophical and psychological/neurological issues that I couldn’t stop myself from writing a couple of articles dedicated to some of them. As my primary concern in these articles will be the discussion of some of the key issues, I won’t bother with an outline of the plot (for that, you’ll have to read the book; a task I highly recommend).  However, a proper discussion of the issues will necessitate a little context which will unavoidably involve sneak peeks of scenes at varying points in the book. Although I will deliberately avoid plot spoilers, if you plan to read the book (which, again, you should – it’s almost worth reading just to see the highly original way in which he has interpreted and brought the vampire myth to life – bonus point to Watts for the ingenious crucifix glitch!), please bear this in mind.

Continue reading