Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethical?

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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Packbat » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:44 am

Globus wrote:
Packbat wrote:I think it's a little wrong, if for no other reason than the second law of thermodynamics. If someone used their time and energy creating something, they don't get that time and energy back when it is wrecked - and what is life, but our time and energy?


They got money for it, for which they can buy time (having someone do something for them) and energy (food, also they can convert some of the time they bought by sleeping more).
Also, you can't fight thermodynamics II, if you don't spend your energy, you'll just radiate heat, and that will get rid of the same negentropy anyway.

I'm not saying there ought to be a law, or that making something and then destroying it is more wasteful of negentropy than burning equivalent resources watching Janelle Monae music videos. But there already are laws against destroying, say, historic buildings.

Plus, look at Nichole's scarf. No-one got money for that.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby JustinReilly » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:43 pm

Well, since destroying a...I don't know, widget that you own increases the value of widgets in the posession of others, one could make the argument that it's an altruistic act.

The answer really depends on whose ethics we're talking about. Aristotle would ask if destroying the object facilitated your development into a more virtuous person. Bentham would ask if the destruction increased net happiness. Kant would write a lengthy, oblique, and ultimately circular argument that ultimately supported his own prejudices (take that, deontologists! Philosophy jokes, amirite?)
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Globus » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:28 pm

I may not get philosophy in-jokes, but I'm Sartre-nly not Zenophobic though, I Kan't refuse a laugh at a philosophy pun!

I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself. It's 3:30 AM, and I should be asleep for some time now... Back to our scheduled serious discussion program.
Last edited by Globus on Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Merle » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:50 am

When an object can be put to use, destroying it is wrong.
What needs to be avoided is waste - recycle an object when it's possible to do so, or re-purpose it rather than simply rendering it useless. Destroying a guitar as part of a performance is problematic, but the artistic value of the act may outweigh the problem of destroying a useful instrument.

That said, there are circumstances where destroying a useful object is the least wrong of several courses of action - to save space, for example, or to reclaim the substances of which it is composed.

In the end, it really is all about not increasing entropy any faster than is necessary.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Globus » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:14 am

Merle wrote:In the end, it really is all about not increasing entropy any faster than is necessary.

What if the item's purpose is to increase entropy in the long run? (My example will be farms, only to show the hypocrisy inherent in self-terminating-capable biological machines worrying about entropy for entropy's sake.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Merle » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:48 am

Globus wrote:
Merle wrote:In the end, it really is all about not increasing entropy any faster than is necessary.

What if the item's purpose is to increase entropy in the long run? (My example will be farms, only to show the hypocrisy inherent in self-terminating-capable biological machines worrying about entropy for entropy's sake.


That's the "any faster than is necessary" part. Living creatures increase entropy just by existing - in a sense, what we really consume is negative entropy. There's a limited "food supply" in the universe, so it makes sense not to use it up any faster than we have to. Turn off lights when you leave the room, don't drive gas guzzlers, that sort of thing.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Globus » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:55 pm

Knowing my opinions of the connection between body and soul (well, lack of connection), which I'll teach my children (if any), and knowing the price tag on funerals, I'm likely to be cremated. I am also about 140 kgs (300 lbs). Most likely, I'm going to die fat. Do you think (and don't be afraid of offending me or anything, I really am interested in people's views) my lifestyle to be unethical (as opposed to irresponsible, unhealthy or idiotic; those have been told to me in a waste of negentropy many times before)?

Also, what about objects destroyed because they might (as opposed to will) be put to... what's the opposite of use? Put it to bad use?
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby snowyowl » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Globus wrote:what's the opposite of use? Put it to bad use?
Misuse.

Entropy is a poor metric here, there are cosmic quantities of entropy going through the Earth every moment. Based on a 2000kcal/day diet, I estimate that a human body uses about 100W of power on average. That's 700 gigawatts for the human race's metabolisms. Add an order of magnitude or so to power our cars, lights, and other tech.

The total amount of solar energy hitting the Earth is another four orders of magnitude higher.

If your goal is to increase entropy as slowly as possible, the best way I can think to do that is not to live a healthy, environmentally friendly life. Nor a short one. Your contribution will be a matter of kilowatt-years, which is utterly insignificant even if you can get a million people to follow you.

No, if you want to increase entropy as slowly as possible, you should blow up the Sun. And any other stars you can find. Then you can use the spare hydrogen in a more efficient manner (contained fusion reactors) and use the energy you get to do... whatever it is people normally do with large amounts of energy. Terraform a galaxy's worth of planets, perhaps.

It is my firmly held belief that any simple set of ethical principles, if followed perfectly and to the letter, will lead one to silly conclusions such as destroying humanity for their own sake. This is one of the less silly examples I've seen.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby Packbat » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:54 am

*applauds*

Nicely done, snowyowl! And yes, in the long-term, your plan is sound ... but in the short-term, we're limited to the resources that we can acquire on Earth with our present technology. That means limitations like "how much of that solar flux can we convert into usable energy?" come into play, sharply reducing our negentropy budget.

Thus, a corollary of your core argument - which is this one, basically - is that our present priority should be to ensure that we are in a position to maintain technological progress in directions which will ultimately lead to our gaining the capacity to perform star-mining. And that makes things like reducing, reusing, and recycling quite important in the short-term.
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Re: Is destruction of an object of value inherently unethica

Postby doctor100 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:29 pm

Particularly considerign that so much of morality is emotional based 'not to hurt people' 'don't be mean' 'build community' 'listen' 'be humble', a logical answer doesn't present itself, the problems exist in an emotional framework.
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