- The Worst That Could Happen Is Nothing Could Happen
- The Worst Thing That Could Happen
- English Phrase: What's the worst that can happen? | badufyjuhi.cf
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To inquire into the worst state of affairs, then, is to ask about what things are good in themselves and the sense and degree in which they are good. Even in the absence of a full philosophical defence of any such claims, we can at least give some reasons why we think certain things are intrinsically good and their disappearance bad. And as you will see, what is centrally good in this sense is closely connected with morality in a narrower sense. Compare three outcomes:. Which is the greater of these two differences?
Most people believe that the greater difference is between 1 and 2. I believe that the difference between 2 and 3 is very much greater. That is primarily why he thinks the second difference is so much worse than the first. The destruction of the whole of humanity would mean that we would never succeed in answering a most fundamental question: What is right and wrong? So for that reason the total destruction of humanity is the worst thing that could happen.
But surely, you will say, the question of what is right and wrong is not the only fundamental question to be pursued. Human beings have made enormous progress with other scientific and philosophical questions. Who could confidently dismiss the possibility that future discoveries may make present-day achievement in physics appear modest?
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Or fail to see that technology may allow us to create new forms of art which provide profound fresh insights into the world and the human condition? Parfit indeed considers science and art, but he concludes that the subject of ethics is special insofar as progress there is likely to be greater than progress in any other subject. He believes that achievement in ethics has traditionally been hampered by religious assumptions. Overcoming the latter, he thinks, raises the tantalising prospect of tremendous and unshackled progress in moral philosophy over coming millennia.
He supposes that the writings of Kant are the very model of how to do ethics, whereas the dialogues of Plato and the writings of Nietzsche are not, on account of their literary form and peculiar manner of expression. Others might think that ethics influenced by religion has accomplished more than Parfit allows. That is, we could recognise that the whole gamut of extraordinary human achievement in understanding the world is what would make human extinction a terrible loss: science, art, literature, architecture, law, technology, medicine, as well as all kinds of philosophy, are special and the wonders of human thought, creation, and discovery.
Many think that the highest kind of understanding and achievement is that of science. We might at least concede that it is misleading to characterise the achievements of Bach, Shakespeare, or Rembrandt as progress. Great artists may indeed create original forms of expression and aesthetic language, but perhaps they do not bring forth new facts or discoveries.
The Worst That Could Happen Is Nothing Could Happen
Could there be any higher achievements in art than those attained by Bach and Shakespeare? If we feel that this is unlikely, it is perhaps because their works speak to the centre of human existence in the most unfathomably moving ways. Yet even this is no grounds for saying that artists of equal or greater stature will never emerge; and the obliteration of human life would tragically deprive the world of that further insight and beauty. Moreover, it need not be assumed that advancement, say, in science and philosophy, is a more wondrous thing than the understanding and innovation afforded by art and perhaps religion.
Art, one might say, is at least as splendid, at least as central to the wondrousness of the existence of the human species, as science, or for that matter, philosophy. One need not be an aesthete to view the annihilation of such things as objectively bad. The true aesthete may include other things on their list of fundamental goods: the beauty of desolate desert landscapes, and also of places teeming with plant and animal life; the beauty of the human body; virtues like honesty and kindness; play, adventure, exploration, and sport; relationships both sexual and Platonic; and so on.
And you may agree that some or all of these items are intrinsic goods, which help make this galactic speck of a planet special. Critics, however, might want to point out that the list we are forming is not objectively founded.
The Worst Thing That Could Happen
Such things as are on it, said the utilitarian moral philosopher R. Hare believed that personal ideals are relevant to morality not as fundamental goods or imperatives but rather as preferences. On this utilitarian view our list contains items that are good only because they are good for someone or something, namely, for beings with interests and preferences.
According to this way of thinking, the worst possible calamity is that sentient life suffers without significant compensating enjoyment, while the second worst is that it ceases altogether to be. This need not show a species bias, for it is the sum total of happiness or preference satisfaction that matters, and any beings with strong preferences or capacities for happiness will do as well as any others. Dogs and cows will do as well as humans so long as utility that is, happiness or benefit is maximised.
Many people will feel that this is wrong because human life is special for the sort of reasons we have been discussing. When we wonder about extraterrestrial intelligence, we are usually not just thinking of mere cleverness or IQ levels, but also a capacity to understand say science and art and to have relationships that are emotionally sensitive and rich. But the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe may be more significant still.
The birth of a new human being is often regarded as a more profound joy, and the death of a human being a deeper loss, than that of any other known being. This could make us wonder whether something unprecedented and remarkable happened in the world when humans came into existence. Earlier I strove to separate value in general terms from moral value. But now I plan to bring them together. For it may be claimed that what makes human life the most marvellous creation of all is that we can care morally for other humans more than for anything else.
Supposing it were true that human creatures can be more deeply wronged than other creatures, it would arguably render a world with human beings far richer than a world without them. He would express his sorrow, offer some judicious remarks on the damage to trade and reflect on the precariousness of human existence, before turning back to his own affairs. When you think about the worst that could happen, you should resist this temptation to make yourself the centre of the world.
Turn away from the injustice of being falsely condemned or the despair of being utterly alone. Quash the thought of losing a child. On this melancholy subject, at least, I am with Smith rather than William Blake: instead of trying to hold infinity in the palm of your hand, broaden your gaze and contemplate a tragedy for the whole of humanity. In the next few decades the prime candidate is war between China and America. As the superpowers strive for economic, political and technological supremacy, so their mutual mistrust will become more explicit.
But when the dominant male and the pretender square up, everything about them is at stake. The shadow of nuclear devastation is one reason to be fearful. But even if we avoided that last, hideous step, the cost would be immense. The flow of goods to our shops would dry up, as globalisation failed.
The financial system might collapse, because America could not borrow from China, and China would have nowhere to put its savings. Cyber-warriors might wreck communications and infrastructure. Collaboration on trade, science and action on climate change would be swept aside. Global economic depression would drag billions back into poverty. America and China have every reason to avoid such a catastrophe.
You might conclude therefore that the superpowers will not fight — that they have too much to lose from war and too much to gain from peace. When I first read this, I thought it a chilling but harmless fantasy. Now it has become more like a prophecy. Before, the passing scene offered a lively spectacle with many growth areas in the arts and imaginative investment in public works; also, however tested, we Brits hung on to our reputation for tolerance—which may have contributed to our undoing.
For wherever you go beyond surface impressions, whether in the food industry, the housing market, the universities, newspapers, publishing or sport, there is a gut sensation that, while we were looking the other way, something essential has been extracted from the cultural heart and is either being sold back to us in a debased form or has vanished altogether. You cannot say who or what is personally responsible for this act of theft. The best clue to its identity is in technology.
Theft is invisible and easy to overlook. Technology is there for all to see; the speed-camera, the taser, the Exocet missile—all perhaps defensible as means of protection. But what about drones? Technology, Max Frisch said, is the means of controlling the world without experiencing it. We know who owns the technology; and who else can have committed the theft? Happily there is another side to technology.
English Phrase: What's the worst that can happen? | badufyjuhi.cf
There are others who use it for the free exchange of information; and who may outwit him. He prefers to play on fear—fear that prevents sensible action, and never inspires it. In America, many say we need the death penalty to prevent crime, thereby distracting us from demanding restrictions on guns, a wise drug policy, or adequate education.
We are taught to fear terrorism to such an extent that we end up forfeiting our liberties, even if the chance of it affecting our lives is infinitesimal. We are told to fear losing our jobs to immigrants, rather than to the powerful who destroy the economy. Fear escalates in inverse proportion to experience.
So white people in the white-flight suburbs of American cities fear crime far more than do black citizens in the city centres—because of, not despite, the fact that the suburban white is far less likely to be a victim. We spend hours catastrophising horrors that will never come to pass. We are so averse to failure that we ensure before we begin that nothing will ever be achieved. Over several years, I cannot recall a single strategy that really harmed our efforts to get the authorities to act within the law even when one attorney dropped his trousers at a press conference in Yemen, in an ill-advised effort to illustrate how detainees were being humiliated.
But some of the lawyers who joined our coalition were devoted to dithering, constantly worrying that a particular action would backfire. As a result, they achieved little and prevented others from accomplishing a great deal. So our fear of death impedes us from fully living life. The birthplace of humankind is today one of its greatest repositories of human talent and natural resources. Enormous potential, for the continent and for the world. Select any statistic from access to potable water to maternal mortality, and Africa is likely to be at the wrong end of the list. This is the despair of Africans and many others.
Yet evidence that this continent is fighting hard to transform its potential into success is abundant. Governance, which is the non-negotiable foundation to this process, is going in the right direction. If they are imperfect, I defy anyone to point out a perfect one.
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From to , the figure will be seven out of ten. The Millennium Development Goals prescribed a two-thirds decline in the rate of infant mortality, and 12 countries in Africa surpassed it. Kenyan techies, some of the most innovative in the world, are building apps for mobile phones that bring health care and banking to people in the remotest areas.
This is encouraging, but it is still far from a continent-wide, irreversible trend. There is still no critical mass of African countries achieving good enough governance to ensure sustainable development and economic prosperity.
I don't know when a bad movie has made me laugh as much as this heist farce did.
This continent stands an excellent chance of creating governments with equal numbers of men and women, building schools that are eco-friendly and teaching respect for the environment as a core subject. African architects can design smart cities that use technology to ensure access to water, housing and health care; cities that can grow truly green economies and create new categories of employment. Will we be able to take advantage of this unique position to provide the world with a new model of society? First must come the African minds that decide to lead themselves and the rest of the world to a new plateau in human development.