Would/should you or wouldn’t/shouldn’t you?


New Member
Consider this scenario, which is only a theory (as opposed to a practical or real consideration) only due to the difficulty/near impossibility of providing the requirements (resultant considerations mentioned*) to make it work.

If you had the opportunity (or could vote) to press a button in one week’s time, (* that would instantly, entirely and without pain) destroy all life on earth, would you?

You could, at no expense, get to meet anyone you want to beforehand and do anything reasonably possible in that time for free, too.

I do not want to add more or go into further explanation or (to those who think this is a totally weird or stupid thought) justify it. I want you to think for yourself, e.g. come up with reasons why this would even be considered. Perhaps it can be left there and any further comments (or an alternative scenario) may be added if/after any other genuine or serious responses.



To be honest, I don't think that is a button worth pushing. Things would have to get extremely bad already for me to even think it worth considering; I'd have to firmly believe the world as we know it is already coming to an end within the next week anyway, whether the button was pushed or not.

We are Borg

Staff member
Why would you push a button that destroys all life on this planet. Nature then needs to start over from scratch. A better idea would be to remove 50% from the human population from this planet. This way nature could restore itself. The population would not be able to get past 4 billion people else the button would react again.


New Member
Thanks for respectfully playing along, guys.

Akamia. you correctly recognised that I was referring to the state of the world as a potential reason to destroy it, but you were looking at it just through your own eyes on a set level and as a mixture of everything, levelling it off and deciding that (on balance) it would need to be a whole lot worse before you’d consider it, if I hear you right. Which is a very common, typical and reasonable position to take.

We are Borg. You saw no reason to ask the question or posit the extreme action, though I did ask you to have a think about why this odd suggestion was being suggested. You did mention that perhaps the problem was human population and we might, at some stage, need to curtail it in order to go back to a better, more universal, ecological situation.

Consider this scenario and I’ll move on as quickly as I can:

If a person were suffering horrifically and there were no way to prevent the suffering, e.g. you could not access the person or give a painkiller, but the person would go on to live by being fed for many years, in that perpetual suffering state and nothing could be done, if you had the chance to end that person’s life, (by pressing a button) would you (e.g. there is no punishment for you)?


A better idea would be to remove 50% from the human population from this planet.
MCU!Thanos says "hello".

Yes, I am fully aware he cut 50% of all animal (and some plants) life in his universe, but don't ruin the joke.

If a person were suffering horrifically and there were no way to prevent the suffering, e.g. you could not access the person or give a painkiller, but the person would go on to live by being fed for many years, in that perpetual suffering state and nothing could be done, if you had the chance to end that person’s life, (by pressing a button) would you (e.g. there is no punishment for you)?
If the person doesn't want to die in spite of this suffering, I don't think I would. That is also my assumption if I can't contact them in any way to find out one way or the other.


New Member
I totally agree with you Akamia (and would say the same) and it is my own fault by giving too little or missing information based on where I am going with this, and you may even have hit a trump card or holy grail on my ultimate point here, so I will try to fully make my point now. (I did assume that the person in my example would do anything to have the suffering stop sand death would be heaven by comparison).

Sometimes the worst (or more extreme) thing is to do nothing, if we don’t recognise the elephant in the room.

The world is full of pleasure and suffering on a spectrum. For many of us, the nice outweighs the not so nice or we take the rough with the smooth and we feel sorry for those less well off than us, and move on with our lives.

Others and charities take a more focussed interest in the woes of the world and we offer donations or time or skills to help alleviate the poverty, illness or any of the many things that cause suffering.

But we cannot remove all of the suffering and never (conceivably) will be able to. Some suffering is not as bad as others, and it comes in many forms. Natural (the result of accidents, earthquakes, tsunamis etc.) and moral (our own acts/bad choices). And there are things like chemotherapy, correctional leg splints and antibiotic injections which are a lesser of two evils, and the mental anguish of losing someone or similar is also suffering.

Imagine that in a room, a lot of things are going on. People playing, talking, working. A kid had grazed his knee and a man has proposed to his girlfriend. A nice eclectic range of events and scenarios.

If someone were to ask, at this point, if the room should be evacuated, this would seem a ridiculous question. The total or collective average is typical and with all things being equal, carry on.

But behind a small screen is a dog mauling a small child. I assume that everyone’s issues would suddenly count for nothing and all attention would now turn to the suffering child with the purpose of relieving her. Many would be willing to sacrifice their situation/pleasure in order to relieve the suffering of that child, and probably everyone would be willing to do so if it was a defenceless baby that was being tortured horrifically and the baby was your own.

I want to argue that it does not matter if it is your own child or a complete stranger, as suffering is suffering to that person and that person has value to others, if not you. And any person, as a human being represents you or a loved one. Most laws do this by protecting the rights of the innocent or suspect as much as anyone else. The same rights apply. Hitler would have been accorded the same human dignity whilst on trial as any innocent citizen.

We also have to consider what level of suffering is worth the cost of what level of pleasure. You might be willing to have or risk a grazed knee in exchange for an average life, and life is a gamble – we don’t know what life will throw at us.

What if you KNEW you would have an awful life, or your potential offspring would. Really awful. Some people can even know this due to certain genetic or inheritable condition. Is there a limit where you would say that it is not worth it?

Taking this a logical step further; we KNOW that right now, tens of thousands of people (or more) are suffering horrifically right now. Not a second goes by when this is not happening to someone somewhere, often behind closed doors and sometimes on a 10/10 level of pain. Torture, rape, illness, accident, deprivation, abuse, burning, natural disasters, disease, starvation etc. How many of these cases (each of which, ‘represents’ someone you love) and how bad must even one be, for you to be willing to do anything or make any sacrifice for it to end, forever, instantly?

We all live in the room I described earlier, and most of us just look at the middle (the mostly observed part) levels of the spectrum of pain/suffering and assume it is worth it generally. But from the viewpoint of those suffering, they don’t see it this way, and this is an argument that asks you to look at life from the position of the most suffering. I haven’t even mentioned nature as a whole with all the predation.

Life is under extreme suffering right now as billions of humans and animals are suffering. My question is how much do we understand, relate, value or really want to eliminate this? Are we willing to give up our own happiness and future and hopes and dreams in exchange for relieving, permanently and painlessly, all suffering? Sure, you would be missing out on a lot, but weigh this against the suffering, which could be your own loved one(s).

Is it even right to make this a democratic issue? Could you sit and watch a baby being joyfully tortured and say that it is worth the exchange of your own selfish future? Sometimes there are things that are not up for a vote or utilitarian rules, like let’s all pick on the goofy kid because most of us like to.

Remember that there is no big red button and there is no instant, permanent way of doing this, so it is all hypothetical, but I just wonder if this resonates with anyone else as fair, ‘in theory’?

For those who fall short of the affirmative here, there is a less extreme option called antinatalism, which means that all suffering will continue for now, but by preventing all future human life (no more children) we eliminate human suffering within 100 years. Obviously this is also impractical to force or get everyone to agree or do this, but as a theory, it has its supporters, but does not address suffering of animals or the future evolution of higher organisms and sentience.

I am exploring the benefits and flaws in reasoning here, so please feel free to comment on any aspect.