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    Thread: Dream and Fantasy Morals

    1. #26
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      ^^ I couldn't have said it better myself...

      Mzungi, I don't believe you can list a long "wiki" definition of sentience (which surprisingly is a fairly decent definition, even though it omitted sentience's key aspect of self-awareness) and then pick out a couple of words from it and decide that is what sentience means. Yes, sentient beings have the perhaps unique ability to understand their pain, but that understanding is a product of sentience, and not its reason for being. Sentience involves a whole lot of other things, and non-sentient beings are more than able to feel pain, even if they do cannot metaphysically grasp what they are feeling. So I guess DC's could potentially feel pain without being sentient, even if they cannot comprehend their suffering.

      And yes: why couldn't DC's simply be excellent unconscious constructs that are "putting on a convincing show" of sentience? That doesn't seem too farfetched, given the creative capacities of our dreaming minds, and our conscious expectations of how DC's ought to behave.
      Feeling, perception and subjectivity are all summed up in the ability to suffer, that's why I said that the ability to suffer was the primary meaning of sentience. First, obviously, you need to be able to feel. Then, of course, you need to be able to perceive your sensory information, which is pain or the lack of pain. Then you must experience yourself subjectively... this is your pain, not somebody else's, and maybe by running away from the bee hive you can cause that pain to stop. You are confusing sentience with intelligence. Non-human animals have sentience because they can feel, perceive and experience subjectively. They cannot, however, reason (except maybe dolphins) which is why eighteen century philosophers made a distinction between sentience and reason. Humans, therefore, have the ability to suffer in more intense ways than non-human animals, mainly because of our ability to expect pain before it comes and also our experience of emotional pain. But the requirements of sentience is met in non-human animals as much as in humans, and saying that sentience involves a perception of human consciousness is really being too loose with the word.

      And you could say that any human's exhibition of intelligence is just "putting on a convincing show" as is any human's exhibition of pain. We can't really be sure that other humans are intelligent, or that they really do feel pain when we stab them in the arm with a needle. However enough humans have experience of pain that we have agreed that pain is a thing experienced by all humans, and therefore even though we can never measure pain, or intelligence for that matter, subjectively, we treat it objectively as something possessed by all humans. I don't see how DCs are any different.

    2. #27
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      "sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer" quoted from the wiki. This sentence would seem to imply that sentience precedes pain, but pain is not the entirety of sentience and it seems incredibly limiting to make the definition of one of the most complex concepts so seemingly simple.

      They cannot, however, reason (except maybe dolphins) which is why eighteen century philosophers made a distinction between sentience and reason.
      Can they not? How do you know?

      Looking at the wiki definition, reason consists of "consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information." Well, I'd argue that animals can consciously make sense of the world (even if it is as rudimentary as "This is dangerous. Better avoid this"), apply logic ("This hurt me once. It'll probably hurt me again, if I touch it") and change beliefs ("owner chased me away, maybe peeing in the corner wasn't quite a clever idea" or, for a darker example, "Owner hurt me. Maybe he's not really benevolent"). Establishing and verifying facts is a bit trickier to prove, but they may do so in a different way to us. I'd argue animals can experience emotional pain (elephants will always pay respects and hold their version of funerals for fallen friends and relatives) and they can expect pain. Its a horrible example, but if you whip a creature often, it'll begin to work out what's coming when you raise it again.

      Either way they are sentient. Therefore, should we not treat them as you propose we treat DCs? No more killing for meat etc.

      And you could say that any human's exhibition of intelligence is just "putting on a convincing show" as is any human's exhibition of pain. We can't really be sure that other humans are intelligent, or that they really do feel pain when we stab them in the arm with a needle.
      Absolutely. The only difference is that, illusion or not, other humans seem to have a brain that offers an explanation of how they may be able to be sentient. Doesn't prove it, but they've got a better argument than DCs.
      I don't see how DCs are any different.
      Not all DCs look or even act like humans, for starters. Even if they do posses some measure of sentience, so what? There's no guarantee that they're intelligant and they're degree of sentience may be sub-insect, for all we know. Treat them as well as you would humans if you wish, but I feel you should elevate all creatures to the same level.

    3. #28
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      Quote Originally Posted by splodeymissile View Post
      Perhaps I'm being closed-minded, but I also thought possessing multiple egos was a sign of split personality disorder. I wouldn't say we know for a fact that DCs are different egos. Its possible, but, as far I'm aware, there's no proof, so, it seems like an assumption on my part. And are DCs becoming lucid or are they acting as we expect them to (subconsciously or not) when faced with this realisation? I know that the waking mind doesn't encompass the entire brain's functions, but the rest is the subconscious and automatic responses, like breathing. Other egos could be down there, but there's no real proof, so, I'm going to assume that I'm the only one in my head.
      I'm not really assuming that DCs have egos, just listing possibilities. We assume other humans have egos like us, just because they exhibit characteristics of intelligence and self-concern similar to ours. But we can never be sure it is actually an ego. The same holds true for DCs. They sure seems to have egos, but we can't really be sure. We tend to err on the side of saying humans have egos, just because the experience of our own. Then why not DCs? Even if these egos our not different from our own, I don't see why that should give us leave to do whatever we want with them. Just because they are in some mysterious sense us, why should they deserve any less moral consideration if they can suffer, and have preferences not to suffer? These two things alone should merit ethical treatment. We can never be sure whether anything we experience, waking or dreaming, is actually being done or whether it is our brain's own expectations. That is the nature of consciousness- our mind creates everything by which we experience both worlds.

      Quote Originally Posted by splodeymissile View Post
      I wouldn't say its infinite. Immensely large, but still limited by the individual whose mind it is. Speaking of limitations, the dream world and imagination, while definitely linked, seem to me to be based on perception. In that, unlike reality, they disappear when unobserved. Even in dreamless sleep, we still possess some (mostly automatic) mental functions. In terms of the actual consciousness, though, I agree. I don't think we completely fade from the dream world, if only because we can still use our imagination and daydream. However, this is probably going to be our main source of disagreement. You seem to be implying that the dream world is sort of like an independent plane, existing alongside ours, with sleep being akin to a portal between realms. Why, then, do Dream characters seem unable to enter our world and, if they have entered, are they able to "lucid reality"? If I'm completely wrong, I apologise. My own personal view is that the dream world is just a sophisticated hallucination, created so we have some stimulation whilst the body sleeps. This is the reason I have such a lax attitude towards morality in dreams. Its about as real to me as fiction.
      Yes, reality does tend to have a permanence that the dream world does not, doesn't it? But it is just as likely to be a simulation, or hallucination, as the dreamworld is. Except reality is shared with billions of other egos. And so when you disconnect from reality, all those other egos are still there to simulate it. It's the difference between an enclosed environment in a single-player RPG and a persistent world in an MMORPG. Or, if you wished to talk in phenomenological terms:

      Quote Originally Posted by Martin Heidegger
      “Adding on value-predicates cannot tell us anything at all new about the Being of goods, but would merely presuppose again that goods have pure presence-at-hand as their kind of Being. Values would then be determinate characteristics which a thing possesses, and they would be present-at-hand”(Being and Time 21: 132).
      Meaning that we think things in the world are separate from us because we have stripped away all the relations that thing has with other things in the universe and see it as having its own essence, separate from us. This is what Heidegger calls present-at-hand consciousness. But as he says later, we are really in ready-at-hand relationship with the things in this world and the world itself, which means that there is essentially no distinction between us and the world, as we are both caught up in a ontologically priory verbal framework that encompasses all reality. We are all caught up in the same activity- living, consciousness, perceiving, whatever you want to term it.

      Maybe if we ever figure out how to share dreams, like in Inception, we'll learn how this process of environment-creation works. It is the very number of people, and non-people too, that are involved in simulating reality that creates the various laws of nature that we are familiar with. I guess that if we ever end up sharing dreams, the same thing would happen. The radical subversion of natural laws in dream realities would be subdued as more and more people need things to be more permanent and reliable.

      But to get back to your original point, even if DCs end up being impermanent, living only during that time we engage with them, that still is not a very good argument for their moral neutral-ness. If babies were born already talking and already grown up, but lived only a number of hours, we would still grant those people rights because they exhibit sentience and intelligence. The shortness of DCs existence, if it exists as such, makes the moments while they are alive that much more meaningful. It's like contracting an entire life in the span of one or two hours.

      So the dream world is not a separate plane. Like the real world, it is something our minds create, and our Being dwells proximally alongside in a ready-at-hand relationship. The thing is, however, that dream creations are limited to the realm in which they are created. They cannot cross over to the waking world because they do not share Being with the real world. Hence a DC couldn't "wake up" in the real world, because he does not shared the verbal framework of that world from which existence of that world is predicated. The dream world is an entirely different form of verbal being, with only inconsequential links to the real world.

      Quote Originally Posted by splodeymissile View Post
      Again, it comes down to how I see the dream world, but like with supposed lucidity, I think the DCs would just be acting as we expect them to act. Considering how DCs act differently in terms of sheer logic sometimes and often are barely self consistent themselves, its going to be difficult to arrive at anything remotely resembling a consensus view of dream morality. Because of this, unless you want to painstakingly ask every dream character (sometimes multiple times because they may completely ignore you or even change their answers) whether a proposed actions is good or bad in their book, you're never going to be sure whether you've ever done good whilst dreaming. And DCs will act immoral. Numerous people suffer from nightmares where DCs abuse them. If they do not care for morality in their own world, why should we? We could strive to be the better person, but because of the problems already outlined, its going to be difficult and make lucid dreaming seem more like work.
      RL people are different in terms of logic, and often aren't self consistent. That's no reason not to have a moral consensus. We do, in fact, have one despite these things and despite our different cultures our moral consensi are very similar to each other. RL people also act immoral. That's no reason to throw out the ethics textbook. Perhaps we should try asking them if they care about morality? If they care when children are killed by serial murderers. If they care when there stuff is taken. DCs exhibit individuality just like RL people do. That's no reason not to try. It would be a huge task, too, to establish a moral consensus in our world if socialization and millennial of history had not already done it for us. In the real world, we have these two things helping us. In the dream world, we don't. However DCs could be created with simulated moral frameworks, and by using our time in the dream world to ask what these moral frameworks are, even among multiple dreams, I think we can get an idea of what DCs think is good behavior and what they think is bad behavior. And, of course, sometimes you don't even have to ask them. Just pay attention to how they act. That can tell us a lot about their underlying morality alone.

      Quote Originally Posted by splodeymissile View Post
      Even if we do, morality is still tricky there. So, would it reasonably change our attitudes? You can't prove a negative, but if there's no evidence for the positive, it really falls to personal preference on how we should act. Personally, and perhaps I'm slightly evil, I still see DCs as not real. So, unless I'm following the dream narrative for fun, I see no reason to treat them as such.
      No, we can't prove a negative. But we must decide something, as we do in the real world, because we must interact with these beings. In the real world, deciding in the negative has many negative consequences. In the dream world, it doesn't. I think it is the lack of consequences that creates the opinion that DCs are not real. Many of us would do the same in the real world if we could.

      Quote Originally Posted by splodeymissile View Post
      Not quite. It refers to the capacity to feel, perceive and experience subjectivly. This would mean emotions, opinions and how our other senses see the world. A DC might react appropriately about a painful response, but this doesn't mean it actually "felt" it.
      And yet we can't even be sure whether the person we just stabbed in the arm felt that too.

    4. #29
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      The same holds true for DCs.
      Does it, though? Even if they possess egos, because of the often nonsensical nature of the dream world, its unlikely its anything resembling our own egos. We can reasonably assume that other humans have egos like ourselves because, through observing them, we can see that they see the world in a similar fashion (broadly speaking, anyways). Even if we don't agree, we can often understand the other's point of view and sometimes see how they got to that conclusion. As you said, they exhibit similarities with us. What similarities do we share with DCs? Their version of intelligence and logic are often so dissimilar to our own, that a Lovecraft creation has more in common with us. At least with other humans, we have some common frame of reference. That's not to say we treat them immorally because of their differences, but when weighing up whether something has consciousness, those more similar to you have a more convincing argument.

      Just because they are in some mysterious sense us, why should they deserve any less moral consideration if they can suffer, and have preferences not to suffer?
      Depends on how you see morality. My view has always been whether it causes suffering to others. Self-inflicted suffering, while not a good idea, seems morally neutral. You're not intruding on anyone if the only one who can suffer is yourself. So, if DCs are literally ourselves and we see no downsides in waking life from doing as we wish with them, then, not only is morality inapplicable to it, but whether its sensible is hardly relevent. If you chop off your arm, you haven't committed an evil act. If you then set fire to your severed arm, you're still not evil. I don't see how a fragmented mental state is any different to a physical state.
      our mind creates everything by which we experience both worlds.
      Which is why you can never be sure whether your sense of morality truly works in any world. My mind perceives the dream world as being as real as fiction. Therefore, I treat it as such. We both see the real world as real, therefore, we treat it as such. Whether its wrong or right can never be proven, and, so, you're left with preference.

      It's the difference between an enclosed environment in a single-player RPG and a persistent world in an MMORPG.
      Which just illustrates my point. Except when caught in the narrative and deliberately made to feel, no one cares about NPCs, whether they're enemies or not. Countless goombas have been killed, but we don't call video games players immoral. MMOs are not unreal in moral terms, but simply less real than reality. In that, immoral actions in an MMO can have consequences (making a fellow plater upset), but they are less important (there's probably a better word for it), than reality. If I stab the real you, I'll rightly get labelled as evil. If I stab your avatar, I don't think anyone's going to throw that word around. With shared dreaming unproven, I suppose I see dreaming as a single player RPG. The only real person is me and even then, I'm using an avatar. If shared dreaming is proven and used regularly, I would consider abusing other people's DCs to be immoral, but not your own.

    5. #30
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      I'll have to read up more on Heidegger.

      But to get back to your original point, even if DCs end up being impermanent, living only during that time we engage with them, that still is not a very good argument for their moral neutral-ness. If babies were born already talking and already grown up, but lived only a number of hours, we would still grant those people rights because they exhibit sentience and intelligence. The shortness of DCs existence, if it exists as such, makes the moments while they are alive that much more meaningful. It's like contracting an entire life in the span of one or two hours.
      It's still a big if, though, and one that hasn't yet convinced me that DCs have a real existence, as such. And even if they do possess an existence, it doesn't mean they personally consider it meaningful. Why should we, if they don't? If they are both sentient and consider their existence to be meaningful, then we should treat them with respect. If it isn't the case, then the seemingly impermanent nature of the dream world just makes our actions consequence free and morally irrelevent.

      RL people are different in terms of logic, and often aren't self consistent.
      I'd argue they have a greater degree of consistency than DCs.

      We do, in fact, have one despite these things and despite our different cultures our moral consensi are very similar to each other.
      Among western and some eastern cultures, perhaps. But what's considered morally right in North Korea may not be so elsewhere. Which culture is more "right" in universal morality terms? And if there isn't a universal code of ethics, then how can you be sure that you're more right than me?

      That's no reason to throw out the ethics textbook.
      When dealing with others, keep the textbook. But I'd argue that when you deliberately perform an immoral act, you waive away your right to not have the same act committed against you.

      DCs exhibit individuality just like RL people do
      Or do they just act as you expect them to?

      That's no reason not to try. It would be a huge task, too, to establish a moral consensus in our world if socialization and millennial of history had not already done it for us. In the real world, we have these two things helping us. In the dream world, we don't.
      Despite lucid dreaming being around since fairly early in mankind's history. If the dream world is shared, then the consensus would seem to have been already made and would apparently be anything goes. If each dream world is individual, then its morality can only ever be based on that of its creator. And if the creator only created the world for the purpose of fun, then, regardless of what form it takes, having fun would be the only "good" actions

      However DCs could be created with simulated moral frameworks, and by using our time in the dream world to ask what these moral frameworks are, even among multiple dreams, I think we can get an idea of what DCs think is good behavior and what they think is bad behavior.
      But new DCs are created with every dream and could have new frameworks for every dream. It still doesn't solve the issue. If you're lucky, you'll get a consensus for one dream, but that doesn't mean it'll apply for the next, so, you'll be back to square one the next night.
      I think it is the lack of consequences that creates the opinion that DCs are not real. Many of us would do the same in the real world if we could.
      Can the unreal have any consequences? And if there are no consequences to anything, why would morality matter? I do agree that if someone suddenly had a "lucid reality" and some subsequent reality warping powers, any pretense of this being real and actually being of consequence would go out the window and they'd just do what they feel like.

      And yet we can't even be sure whether the person we just stabbed in the arm felt that too.
      No, we can't. And if you can't be sure whether the people of this world are sentient, why assume that a seemingly less real world would possess people with sentience? As you said, we're a product of our minds and mine says, correctly or no, that this world is real and the other isn't. There's no guarantee that disagreement with this intuition is any closer to the truth.

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