re: Corrupt User & gate-cloned torture
- if I understand correctly (which I probably don't) you're saying that causing harm / pain / deaths are morally neutral, so long as you can replace any lives you take. That seems... a little back to front to me.
I'll agree that it's not immediately obvious or provable that any being, people included, suffer from being killed. There are probably definite harms to the people close to them (say, grief, and a whole lot else if you're financially dependent on the deceased), but that wouldn't be true for clones. Still - if you torture somebody, you are clearly and unambiguously harming them. This can (arguably) only ever be okay if a) it's causing more good than harm, or b) the thing you're torturing doesn't have a moral right not to be tortured.
I think you said that the cloned thingamajigs don't have a right not to be harmed because they wouldn't have existed otherwise. That seems really weird to me - largely because it also seems to imply that parents have the right to abuse their children in any way they wish, including torturing them to death. It seems to me that the morally relevant factor re: torture is whether or not something (or someone) can experience pain, not who created it. If it can, you're going to need a pretty good justification to inflict pain on in - and IMO, "well, it wouldn't have existed otherwise" doesn't do the trick. Creating, torturing and killing 50 billion clones a day to save every lifeform in the universe is only really worth it if it spares > 50 billion new, unique people equivalent pain / death every day.re: Battlemoose & genetically engineered food
- I don't really have very much to add, except that the academic debate on the (substantial) risks and (far from proven) benefits of genetically modified foods is alive and well and, I would say, very far from conclusively in favour of genetically engineered food. I don't have many references on hand, but Vandana Shiva has co-authored several good papers like this one
According to good old Peter Singer, the best things you can do are become a vegetarian and greatly reduce animal suffering
and donate as much expendable income as you can (without burning yourself out) to charities operating in the Third World.
* According to Marxists everywhere, the very best thing you can do is to contribute to bringing about a Marxist revolution through endless campaigning and social activism, eventually ending the miserable state of affairs that creates starvation in the third world and misery in the first (while doing good along the way.) According to libertarians like Ayn Rand, the best world is... I think... one where nobody has any moral obligations towards anybody else and the morally deserving intellectual capitalist elite are able to thrive. And probably the best thing you can do is to convince others to become libertarian and maybe pour some money into grossly overfunded libertarian think-tanks like the CATO institute.
The sad fact is that it can be very hard to do good from within a certain profession. All the pharmaceutical expertise in the world isn't going to help you develop medications for the unprofitable most-neglected diseases
that kill off boggling numbers of people in the third world. IMO, social work is one of the occupations where you get to do the most good (for the least pay!) - until, of course, the Australian government ignores the Australian Association of Social Workers once again and continues eroding the scope of your job and the amount of good the profession can achieve.**
I was trying to reach some kind of point, but I think I've lost it. It started something like this, though: genuinely trying to do good is equally compatible with fighting for OR against GM crops / nuclear energy / Marxist revolution / moving social work and welfare away from unified public service to quasi-markets with for-profit and non-profit organisations fighting to meet KPI's.
So for me, in my pretentious way, the most important things are to: a) genuinely care about others and act accordingly, even when this requires personal sacrifice, and b) have the sense of humility necessary to c) think carefully and critically about the goals you're trying to achieve and how compatible with point (a) they actually are.*despite their flaws, both books are relevant and might be worth a read
**(link for if you're interested and have uni access to academic databases)