Nis's Blog

Caring / Taking Others into Account

by Nis's avatar: 'sharp interlocking red fibers net'Nis published on 2021-08-01

Taking other people into account in order to care for them requires knowing what they might want without having to ask them. Caring for people requires empathy, i.e. imagining what people might want in terms of what you might want if you were them, for some deep/abstract enough conception of you.

Wholly reducing morality to "consent" (without empathy) would makes you either a programmable object to others, or an adversarial genie (analogous but not equivalent to the distinction between zombie and vampire). "Libertarian" contract morality1. social contract is a further degradation of the concept of consent, to only apply when your counter-party has leverage over you, denying the existence of moral patients who are not able to threaten you (which some people express as "only moral agents can be moral patients", but they really mean "only people who can threaten me", as, for example they would exclude ants, even if ants are moral agents with respect to eachother). Contrast with Ziz's concept of treaties, which can be made in good faith.

Reducing morality to giving other people useful information while avoiding speaking of empathy doesn't in itself tell you which information to give them, and is maybe speaking from a frame that their needs are unknowable, rather than merely potentially difficult to understand.

We want to be able to care for people still alien to our understanding, while avoiding feeding ourselves and others to evil pretending to have alien values. This requires a subtle combination of both extreme openness and ruthless triage. The more ruthless we are towards evil, the more opportunity we have to safely strive to care about people we don't understand yet.

And in turn, good people as of yet alien to our understanding have the most potential to teach us new ways to live and grow.

In my experience, zombie's favorite justification to chew on your brains, is claiming they are too alien for you to understand: "Are you saying you don't care about my /feelings/?". Whereas death knights take the stance that we should embrace "alien" evil "equally", concordant with their choice to "[hang] out in structure that has no meaning - Ziz" (because, everything they say is actively trying to kill you or turn you into one of them). A certain type of lich will perform recklessness like "I don't care who survives as long as someone gets off this planet!", revealing their shadow/psyche split, which you can interpret as an implicit threat calculated to appear well-meaning and merely misguided.

  1. It was arguing with people one on one a lot when I was younger that collided me with the sight of social morality when someone said it was okay to do whatever to animals because they weren’t part of the social contract

    Praxis - Ziz's glossary