morality_play (morality_play) wrote in waldentwo,

Paradise engineering

The second model I would like to submit for discussion is paradise engineering. To my knowledge, this idea originates within the writing of the philosopher David Pearce, since most references to it I have seen refer back to him. Pearce’s thesis is called the hedonistic imperative. It’s basic premise is that the biological origins of pain and distress through natural selection are morally repugnant and do not possess any intrinsic worth by virtue of being “natural.” Pearce is explicit about extending the sphere of his moral world to include the entire vertebrate genome. He is troubled (as am I) by the fact that the model of ecosystems that has emerged from nature is one where everyone needs to eat one another to survive. Since surely, if the creatures that fall under this heading possess intrinsic moral worth, then the model of self perpetuating pain and anguish which has emerged is an abominable situation.

Pearce makes the inquiry, “is this model even necessary?” It emerged by accident of being favored by natural selection. Could it be subjected to design intervention? To this end, he proposes an ambitious global technology project, which takes as it’s objective the redesigning of the vertebrate genome and the redesigning of the global ecosystem. One of the peripheral features of this model that I find so compelling is that it offers a prescription for how to invest the energies of the applied sciences. It submits a broad objective for human creative endeavor to be working towards. Right now that endeavor is dominated by an ideologically driven fantasy that market forces cause scientific innovation to excel.

I don’t submit these models to the exclusion of more obviously political strategies for intentional living, but I suspect that any model that does not include them will be incomplete. These strategies speak directly to the underlying conditions that propel the idea of Utopia. That injustices and the suppression of our potential are built into the existing system. Normally that system is treated as a political entity, but the fact that it could be a much more fundamental system (a natural or biological one) should not dissuade inquiry into an alternative model. Utopian thought should be about a strategy to achieve the best of all possible worlds.
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