Can non-sentient things have innate moral value?

Frankly, I think only sentient beings can have ultimate moral value. Other things can have it only instrumentally. However, the matter is a little more complicated than that. I will argue my view here.

“Sentient” means having inner experience, being able to feel something. As far as I can see, there is good reason to think that animals with a sufficiently complicated nervous system — and it doesn’t have to be very complicated — all have sentience, and other things don’t. It’s not really a question of whether the thing is an animal specifically or whether it has just what we call a nervous system, but you need something like that, and the only thing we know of at the moment that seems to fit are animals.

Sentience apparently implies the capacity to feel something like pleasure and pain, to experience things as positive or negative. As I see it, that is the core of moral value. Continue reading


“I’m deeply disappointed and will not buy from you again unless you do as I say” – yeah, right

It seems like every customer complaint about different things I’ve read in the last few years has this. Here’s the latest and otherwise particularly stupid example. Do you really think it works?

“I didn’t like what you did there, so now I’m going to take MY MONEY elsewhere.”

It would certainly scare companies if a lot of people were reacting like that, but when every single whining buyer uses it all the time — how could it possibly matter? Everything is going to be disliked by someone. If they did as you want them to, they’d displease someone else.

Oh, you have “a lot of friends who feel the same way”? So does everyone else.

All saying this is makes you look like you feel entitled to determine the whole company with your meager demand. You could mention you’re taking your business elsewhere, I suppose, but don’t imply this determines the fate of the seller. Or that they have to please you just because. Legitimate complaints are another thing.

This may combine with the phenomenon of the audience that has usually been pandered to (usually dumb straight white males — not saying straight white males are dumb but rather that the dumb ones are the ones getting their demands met because, honestly, the rest of us don’t like that crap either) thinking that anything else than going on pandering to them at the expense of others means catering only to some marginal niche instead, because the rest of the world aside from them is just a bunch of niches while they’re not. But it doesn’t take that. Everyone can do it. You shouldn’t, though, because it just makes you look like a spoiled brat with delusions of grandeur.