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August 6th, 2009

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11:22 pm - shut up for a minute island

Party Report #2: Matt and Ben (and everyones) delayed Birthday Parties

Occasion: It was a slow part of the drinking season.

Expectations: I expected it to start at 10 pm, because the invitation said 20:00 and I can't do subtraction. Then I expected it to be in a different room number than it actually was.

Venue: Matt and Ben live at Daron's house, which is an apartment. Daron's house had a painting of Reagan, and a lot of upholstered furniture on the balcony. It was one floor upstairs from a very nice lady with a very big dog.

Props: Josh and Zak (quitters), Matt, Ben, Daron, Steven D., Tom Hays, Simon, everyone who played Apples to Apples

Slops: The guy who wished Ottawa had more night-life, the guy who said Utilitarians could support sex crimes, drunk Andrew but not regular Andrew.

- Tom giving advice to the guys who were trying to toss their hats and catch them on their heads*.
- Simon listing off the three things he knows about Toronto.
- Me drawing the "Men" card in Apples to Apples.

I got to see a whole bunch of people I always like to see. I waited a long time for the bathroom before someone told me about the other bathroom. And I found out that Taylor Lautner is single again.

8 out of 10, those are cool people. I really should have gone to the first two hours.

*It was not helpful advice.

Bonus: Rebuttal to a Philosophy Major

Sir --

I would have mentioned this earlier, except you were talking non-stop until you interrupted yourself to go to the bathroom. You may not remember this, but you made some comments about the Utilitarians to this effect:

If there's a town of 100 children and 100 pedophiles, and if it's more pleasurable to have sex with a child than it is painful to be molested, then a Utilitarian says it's completely okay for the pedophiles to molest the children, because that would create more happiness.

That sounds like a horrible town. Sex abuse is never okay. Nothing that could excuse something so horrible. But I think Utilitarians know this.

Let's say that in this town, "molestation" is when you tickle someone. Not bad-tickling, just tickling. You sweep a feather across the kid's neck, she squirms, you both laugh. Let's say for some reason, the pedophiles in this town get off on that.

That seems like a case where "molestation" would cause more pleasure for the adult than pain for the child. It's inconvenient, sure, but the child accepts this as a kind of playing, and the adult gets a huge kick out of it. In fact, if we replace sexual pleasure with a friendly, sneaky, thrill, like most real people get out of tickling children, it starts to sound like something everyone's uncle might do.

(If tickling still sounds sexual, think of giving noogies. It's pretty annoying for the child, but the annoyance is outweighed by the fun of giving noogies.)

Of course, it's completely obscene to compare molestation with everyday rough-housing. In a town with actual molestation, those kids are being violated and they'll have emotional repercussions for the rest of their lives.


It says in the rules of your thought experiment that the pain of being molested is less than the pleasure of molesting a child. And I would imagine, for some people, taking advantage of a child could bring them some amount of happiness, but that much happiness? If anyone out there would trade the experience of being abused as a child for the opportunity to have some sex they'd really enjoy, then they must live in a world where harmful acts are not that harmful.

I did not learn your name, and you did not learn my name, but you were lying that night. You were proposing an inherently painful situation, and saying that if it weren't painful, the Utilitarians would think it was fine. And then you were counting on my instincts to kick in and I'd forget the rules you just made, and I'd be repulsed at how much pain those guys would have allowed.

Do you think a Utilitarian could ever be convinced that the molestation of children did more good than harm in a certain town? Do you think they would only consider the discomfort of the physical act, and somehow forget about the pain it would cause in other places? Or do you think that molestation of children is wrong for some other reason than that it damages the children?

There is an animal one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books that loves being killed and eaten. I can't explain why, but it does. And I think most people who have a problem with eating animals, they would gladly eat meat from the animal that loves being killed and eaten. The problem isn't inherent to the killing and eating; the problem is because it causes pain.

So if somehow there is a town where child molestation doesn't cause much pain, then in that town, it would be completely okay for pedophiles to have their way with children. Utilitarians believe this, and I think you believe this.

So please, keep telling me how life works, because obviously I am not a philosophy major and I will never smoke enough pot to understand things the way you do. But don't ever, ever put your mouth to a baby's tummy and blow a raspberry. There may exist some other town where you can ruin lives with that.

Current Music: Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Happy

[5 comments | what do you think?]


[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Forget it Brendan, it's Molestationtown.
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2009 06:19 am (UTC)
why Reagan?

My favourite part is the bonus. The only thing worse than edgy utilitarians are edgy libertarians. And if it's anything that livejournal has taught me, it is that edgy anti-feminists aren't edgy. they're just really really angry and scary.
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)

like that except catch it with your head next time

I am a potentially edgy utilitarian. The philosophy major did not know this, but he was ranting against utilitarianism just for fun. Molestationtown was his main argument.

Matt's step-dad painted it. I believe it was displayed out of irony.
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)

someone got me a basket-hat with balls. is it like that?

oh in that case, he's just ignorant. I thought he wanted to be contrary for liking utilitarianism for it's no holds barrelled happiness.

I suspect most people are utilitarians, except for the part where most people don't make many life style decisions from a coherent rational basis. here's Helen DeWitt talking about it.
[User Picture]
Date:August 19th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Sexy argumentation, Brendan. The last line was gold. You should post more essays.

Regarding the Hitchhiker's animal, though, I would argue that you can only extend that sort of consideration to members of your own species. So much of ethics depends on reciprocity, i.e. we don't murder other people to create an environment where we ourselves are less likely to be murdered. An animal is incapable of abiding by the ethics that we impose upon ourselves for their benefit. A dog will bite and maim people regardless if we decide maiming people is ethical or not. Similarly, a dog will bite another dog, regardless of whether or not we decide that ethically, it is wrong to bite dogs.

Environmental and animal rights laws are based on human values anyway. We protect those species that we consider valuable, whether it is because they are endangered or because they are cute. We can't kill pets because that means someone else cannot kill our pets. The idea that we can't cause non-humans pain is flawed because they are free to cause us pain. By free, I mean not ethically bound. Of course, if a dog bites us, we kill it (and damn right too), but it is not because it betrayed its own ethics against us, it's because we again are imposing our own values onto them.

I guess in summary, we cannot speak for the pain of non-humans because we are not and can never be non-human. (In this lifetime. Not that I believe in that).

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