we are all savages

January 23, 2023 on Eric Bower's blog

It’s a common practice for us to look at the past using a modern lens of morality in an effort to judge great historical figures. How can we praise someone if they are not perfectly moral by today’s standards?

This is commonly called presentism.

Instead, I like to think about the morality of the future to see what actions future humans will consider abhorrent today.

There is one area of great suffering that a significant portion of the population relishes three times a day. You might even be doing it right now.

Here’s the thought experiment. Imagine we could choose between two meals:

These two meals are identical in every meaningful way except for how they were produced. Which would you choose? It seems clear to me what our future children will pick.

The reality is pretty stark, all we need is the technology and overnight the consumption of livestock meat will be deemed immoral.

If my prediction is true, then anyone who employs presentism in the future will deem us gravely immoral.

Or maybe, we should reject this concept entirely and not judge our past using morality of the present because it has no fruit to bear, no insight to gain.

We are all savages.

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