1. The uniqueness of our existence and glory of consciousness is so unlikely that we cannot have wished the past to have been any different were it to impact our chance of being born.
— The comment “glory of consciousness” – made me think of the George Carlin joke that “Only living people care about [the affirmation of life], so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view”. While appreciating what we have isn’t irrational (and I’d argue is a good thing), moving from appreciation to glorification could bias us against alternatives that may have been better, and seems reminiscent of rationalization (take a look at behavioral economics, Dan Ariely is a great place to start). Also, what about those that would have preferred not to have been born? Or those considered bad by most other people?
i. ‘The comment “glory of consciousness” – made me think of the George Carlin joke that “Only living people care about [the affirmation of life], so the whole thing grows out of a c completely biased point of view”: I agree with George Carlin’s joke.
ii. ‘What about those that would have preferred not to have been born?’: The desire to live amongst most species is best demonstrated in Darwinism.
The question of subjective moral determinism relies on this exact question the logical imperative being that were you to have wished not to have been born then you are allowed to make claims on the past on the condition that you wish that you weren’t alive.
2. Therefore, every ethical, historical and philosophical judgement that we make prior to our existence has primarily to be a calculation of how we may have been born to a given circumstance. For instance, one may have to assume gratefulness because of mass migration, even within the context of terror or disaster.
— Understanding that the events of history led to the way things are now does allow retrospective judgement (we can view the effects of decisions that were made with the (slightly better) clarity of hindsight, although unless we are specialists in the history of specific times/places we tend to lose context – see a discussion of hermeneutics), but the understanding that the events of history led to one’s existence doesn’t require that we include that in our ethical judgements – it doesn’t even require gratefulness.
i. ‘The understanding that the events of history led to one’s existence doesn’t require that we include that in our ethical judgements’: The understanding of the past is of paramount importance towards rationalising how society is functioning today, however, given that the primary circumstance of our experience is existence one cannot have wished the events of the past to have been different for they might have prevented one’s being born. Therefore it would be irrational to have wished the past to have been different. Moreover, given that the greatest condition of our life is existence then moral calculus stems from the condition of our subjective existence.
3. To make an effective moral statement about the past one has to adopt the position, for instance, that while I am thankful that the Roman invasion of AD 43 led to my creation, I am of the opinion that the Roman Conquest was completely unjust. Therefore, all morality, ethics and problem solving must be founded on the conditional calculation of your being born, which, very often, leads towards embracing gravely immoral events and philosophical doctrines.
— I think Hume’s “is-ought” problem and the naturalistic fallacy are relevant here. Depending on one’s ethical philosophy, it may even be required to argue that one’s birth is a bad thing, e.g., if 1000 people died in an event that led to your birth, it would likely be wrong in consequentialism/utilitarianism. In deontology the consequence (one’s birth) would be irrelevant. This also raises the philosophical question of what it means to be you / us / ‘ourself’- depending on the historical events, an alteration may not effect one’s birth, but just the conditions of one’s life – is that person with different experiences / memories the same person even if the genetics/epigenetics were all the same?
i. Depending on one’s ethical philosophy, it may be required to argue that on’e birth is a bad thing’: Morality stems from the goodness of our experience, thus morality exists within the conditions of the subjective being born. It would be irrational to wish that you weren’t born in conditions that another may see as immoral. This idea emphasises the subjective relativism of morality. I might for instance say that those born as a result of the Second World War, for instance mass migration or intermarriage, were born within immoral circumstances, yet, those born within that circumstance cannot rationally have wished the events in Second World War to have been different because they may have affected their being born.
ii. ‘This also raises the philosophical question of what it means to be you / us / ‘ourself’. Of course when someone is born they may experience a variety of decisions and problems, subjective, collective and universal, that will drastically impact their future and the experience of consciousness. Nonetheless, the body and experience of consciousness that exists depends on the circumstance of existence.
4. After someone has been born, they have the ability to make assertions on the present and future, yet must be aware that events they call immoral or unjust will inevitably lead towards the greatest level of individual justice and morality through creating the unique conditions into which certain individuals will be born.
— Justice and morality only make since from the perspective of the impacts of actions/inactions on others. And while correct that things we can judge to be moral/immoral and/or immoral/unjust will lead to the existence of people that, in other circumstances, would not have existed (who may well go on to do great things outweighing the injustices leading to their birth – an inevitable difficulty of long-term consequentialism/utilitarianism), we’re back to the issue discussed in #2. #4 is excellent in highlighting the fact that both morals and norms change over time. Things that are normal, acceptable, and even ‘just’ now may not be normal, acceptable, or just in the future.
i. ‘Justice and morality only make sense from the perspective of the impacts of actions/inactions on others’: Justice and morality are abstract concepts that determine good or bad. Intuitively I would say that given existence is the primary condition of our experience then morality has to stem from the subjective experience. The suggestion that ‘justice and morality only make sense from the perspective of impacts of actions/inactions on others’ would suggest that the morality and justice of my being born would be dependent upon my doing more good and just things to others then bad things, yet, were you to ask an individual what is the greatest act of justice and morality that they have experienced they would say that it is in their experiencing existence.
ii. Given that you are the subject of DNA that has been passed through generations, subjective morality for existence may be assigned throughout the family, to your parents, grand parents, great grandparents and so on. This would assert the highest level of justice and morality with the parents as opposed to the subjective. Yet, we also have a very interesting moral dilemma where the parents, if they chose to have a child, would have likely been very happy with any circumstance of conception. Yet for the subjective, they cannot have wished any of the other billions of combinations of egg and sperm. Given that the combination of your existence could not have stemmed from another egg or sperm the subjective morality and justice lies with the parents, yet, your parents would very happily have offered the justice and morality of existence to any other fertilisation. Therefore you have been born to a situation where the greatest act of subjective morality and justness was defeating billions of other sperm in fertilising the female egg.