Is the world getting better or worse?

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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:17 pm

Alex Starkiller wrote:
RyukaTana wrote:The question, I feel, isn't: 'Is the world better or worse?' It's more important to ask: 'Could the world reasonably be better than it is right now?' I know that my answer to that is a resounding 'yes'.

I agree with you. Well, about what question matters. Technically I agree with your answer, but I am not sure whether or not it's possible to make the world better. Or rather, if we can get humans together on what matters long enough to do so.


Yeah, I don't disagree. I don't see the world improving to a reasonable level, probably ever.

Merle wrote:
RyukaTana wrote:Life expectancy is a shitty way to measure how good the world is, since population rates go up with it, and with an increase in population comes overpopulation issues, an increase in poverty rate. People living longer in shittier situations is a negative, by my reckoning. Not saying that that's what is happening, I'm just tired of seeing an overvaluing of just existing, rather than valuing quality of life.


I'd rather live for a thousand years in crappy conditions (with the possibility of improving them) than a hundred years in a palace.


That sounds... suckish. I don't even want to live 100 years, much less live them in squalor (or even a palace).

Merle wrote:
RyukaTana wrote:Ask yourself, what is really the value of the answer to that question? If the world is better, is it good enough? Or should we more focus on how to make it continue to be better still?


If we track the changes in the rate at which the world is improving or decaying in various respects, we can look for trends and perhaps spot areas that may need improvement.


That's a lot of data, not just one big question. Plus, as Alex said, people can't even agree on what 'improvement' means.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Alex Starkiller » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:25 pm

It's sad.

Oof. If we are also counting "being more friendly and kind and other variations of a good existence" to each other as an improvement, and by proxy the opposite as "crappy conditions", I would definitely choose a good but short life over it. If you just mean "living in a hovel eating ramen" and we were just talking about the material here, then I could live with that.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:39 pm

Alex Starkiller wrote:It's sad.

Oof. If we are also counting "being more friendly and kind and other variations of a good existence" to each other as an improvement, and by proxy the opposite as "crappy conditions", I would definitely choose a good but short life over it. If you just mean "living in a hovel eating ramen" and we were just talking about the material here, then I could live with that.


I'm not sure I understand what you mean entirely. However, I am also struggling to put into words what I think you mean, so maybe we're on the same page... Basically, are you asking if I'd rather have 30 years of life in a world where people are good to each other and I have good friends, even though I have the bare minimum of living requirements, as opposed to 100 years in a palace in the world we currently live in, and I have no friends? If so, then yes, I'd rather have the former.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby Alex Starkiller » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:18 pm

Yeah, thanks for figuring it out. Again, I'm bad at expressing what I wish to, but you got it. Anyway, yes, that is my conclusion assuming this ties into an "improved world".
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby snowyowl » Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:56 pm

RyukaTana wrote:Life expectancy is a shitty way to measure how good the world is, since population rates go up with it, and with an increase in population comes overpopulation issues, an increase in poverty rate. People living longer in shittier situations is a negative, by my reckoning. Not saying that that's what is happening, I'm just tired of seeing an overvaluing of just existing, rather than valuing quality of life.

A good point, but it's not as if life expectancy exists in a vacuum. People don't just magically live 20 years longer than they used to: high life expectancy requires good health care, low violent crime, good nutrition, high education, stable government, and so on. Happiness is correlated with good health - there's even studies that show being happier has direct health benefits.

Life expectancy is even tied to equality: there's diminishing returns in life expectancy, and for the price of a course of chemotherapy to save one first-world cancer patient, you could buy a hundred courses of antimalarials to save a hundred third-world children. If the rich cancer patient's money were more equally distributed, it could increase life expectancy. (Not that people shouldn't be able to afford cancer treatments if they need them, of course.)

I'm not saying life expectancy is the ideal measure of society's progress, but it's probably the simplest one. Anything more complicated (like the UN's Human Development Index) means you risk focusing on the official criteria for success rather than striving for genuine success.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby doctor100 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:20 pm

I can name several world wars before the 1900's. Includes the Napoleonic wars, the Colonial wars, perhaps even Alexander the Great; though the last did not include America.

Greater population leads to greater poverty rates is FALSE. Consider Europe, it's dense population now, versus a population a portion the size during the Middle Ages. (or, compare California to West Virginia, or look at the improved quality of life in both China and India in the last decade)

My opinion, based on disease, luxury, individual ability, knowledge, and yes, death by violence, is that the world is on a upward trend.
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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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby fnordstar » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:29 pm

Seems we have lots of factors to consider including life expectancy and quality of life, energy generation and the efficiency to which it is put to use, amount of information and trade, equality, amount of conflict, damage being done to the environment, etc.

There's also freedoms, but they're even more difficult because they contradict each other. If you want to defend worker's rights, you limit employers rights. Rights for groups like homosexuals, ethnic minorities, etc limits the rights of those who dislike those groups and want to live without employing/offering services to them. Rights to travel and move freely limits the rights of tribes and small cultures to defend traditional ways of life

Whether the world is improving or not depends on how much importance you tie to each of these factors. And it's all so complex that really it depends how you look at it. I don't think there can ever be an answer.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:38 pm

fnordstar wrote:Rights for groups like homosexuals, ethnic minorities, etc limits the rights of those who dislike those groups and want to live without employing/offering services to them.


I strongly disagree here. I can't think of any reasonable definition of 'rights' (with regards to ethics and law, at least) that gives the second group any justification.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby fnordstar » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:09 pm

I very strongly agree that any justification of bigotry is entirely wrong. But I see a right as a freedom which you can only get by limiting the freedoms of others. So, for instance, the freedom to go kill someone is restricted to create the right to live without fear of your life.

A big issue in the UK right now is the homophobes claiming a right to conscience - to not have to recognise and conduct gay marriages. They are concerned that there's no legal justification for them to discriminate against homosexuals under current equality legislation. They believe that their right to practice religious beliefs against homosexuals trumps the right of others to marry who they want. My point is, rights can conflict with each other.

The irony is, many priests aren't homophobic, and feel that the conservatives are trying to limit their right to practice religion by not allowing them to conduct gay marriages. But I'm getting off topic here, sorry.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby JustinReilly » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:32 pm

I'm curious, fnordstar, are these Anglican priests or civil servants that don't want to conduct the marriages?
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