Please present your model of a utopian society, and why you think it would work. Or are you reasonably happy with the present system? Are there any significant changes you would like to make?
Have there been any outstandingly good people in human history, or have the life stories of those held up as good (e.g. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King) been “photoshopped” to suit the purposes of others? Do our concepts of what is good progress over time anyway, such that what once was morally outstanding (e.g. opposing slavery) is now merely normal?
Humans are not static. Evolution is an ongoing process. Humans will inevitably change over time from various selective pressures on survival and reproduction. That much is certain. Equally certain is the fact that the individual and collective decisions of humans will have various direct and indirect effects on this gradual change. The only question that remains is to decide whether we wish for our influence on our continued evolution to be random, disorganised and entirely unintentional (remaining in denial of the facts due to the stigma on eugenics), or to make our influence very deliberate, careful and calculated.
The fact is that (whether we like it or not) we are faced with the question of how we want to change our species, and denial of this will only mean that we leave the destination of our species to pure chance, which doesn’t seem like a very responsible or intelligent response to me.
Humans have a short physical existence on a planet that will eventually cease to support life at all. In this context, what strategies should humans use to impart meaning to their own lives? Some possibilities are listed. Which of these have you used, and how effective have they been? Are different approaches appropriate to different stages of life?
A. Compete with other humans (e.g. for status)
B. Care for other humans (e.g. as a humanitarian)
C. Maximize close connections with other humans (e.g. with a love partner)
D. Maximize positive subjective experiences (e.g. “be happy”)
E. Align yourself with what you believe to be a higher purpose (e.g. politics)
F. Adhere to a set of rules/standards (e.g. moral precepts)
G. Attempt to create something that will outlive you (e.g. art)
H. Invest in the next generation of humans (e.g. your biological offspring)
I. Other approaches?
Some believe “ignorance is bliss”, and the more they know the more they get worried. On the other hand we definitely can’t be indifferent about many things. From a social perspective, through which we try to manage our relationship with others in a friendly manner, what is the borderline between legitimate worry (which leads to taking action) and indifference (which preserve peace of mind, at least in the short term)? Is it morally permissible to encourage other people to worry about certain issues, say global warming, human rights, animal rights, etc. to precipitate effective action? Should we consider them selfish if they are innately not concerned about such issues, or merely show token agreement?
Sharia law in Australia. Is it possible for Islamic law to coexist with Western principles in Australia? Are efforts to create parallel legal systems legitimate for Muslim Australians? How does this compare with parallel legal systems where they exist for indigenous Australians?
Marriage laws–how broad should they be? Gay marriage is a current topic in many countries around the world, and it is likely that it will eventually become the norm in most Western countries. What other forms of marriage might we be prepared to accept? Polygamy is a form of marriage that is technically not legal in Australia, but is informally accepted. Should polygamous marriage be legal and if so, within which limits? How would the legal system need to change to accommodate polygamous marriage?
Recreational drugs–should they be decriminalized? In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to abolish criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. (This goes well beyond policies adopted in Holland, which has not legalised soft drugs, but does not enforce the existing laws.) Is decriminalising drugs a good idea? What would be the effect if it were done in Australia?
Coal seam gas–a technology for a green future? Most projections of future energy use include an increasing proportion of natural gas as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas is increasingly produced by “fracking”, and has already led to a decrease in US CO2 emissions, but it is a controversial method. Should we allow fracking in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions? Is it better for us to use coal seam gas, than directly mine the coal?
Drugs in sport. What should be our response to the use of performance-enhancing substances in professional sport? Should athletes be allowed to use any and all drugs? What about blood transfusions? What about genetic therapy or surgical enhancement? Is it possible to have a clean sport?
America has obviously just gone into severe trust deficit with NSA intercepting everyone’s private communications. Is this just about countries though? Is the “trust index” dropping everywhere, even at a personal level? How do cultures differ in this?