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122284 No. 122284
#Discussion

Hello people and ponies of Ponychan! You may call me =D (or whatever else you want, so long as it falls within Community Guidelines).

I am a big fan of Blackwell's ...and Philosophy series, so I thought it would be fun if we did something similar here on the /fic/ board. Basically, we will discuss the philosophy behind popular My Little Pony fan-fictions. I've made a sample to get the thread started.

DISCLAIMER: I make no claims of being a brilliant philosopher; my knowledge of philosophy is extremely limited.

Fallout: Equestria; Is it Right for Ponies to Eat Ponies?

Even those of you who are only a little bit familiar with Fallout: Equestria know that it is very, very violent, so when Little Pip and the gang encounter the overtly friendly town of Arbu, you know that either everypony in this city is doomed or that the city holds a dark secret. After Little Pip and friends are treated to a delicious stew for saving the villagers from a group of thieves, we assume that our former assumption was correct, and that Arbu is most certainly doomed because of the evils of the Wasteland.

Until we find out what was in the stew.

The Arbians, being good souls, offer to bury the aforementioned thieves that were killed by Little Pip and Calamity. And by bury, I mean cut up, turn into a stew, and feed to Velvet Remedy, Calamity, Little Pip, and the rest of the village. Oh, and did I mention they adopted the son of one of the deceased thieves, and fed him his dad? Because they did. In fact, Arbu has been killing and eating for awhile. Additionally, they also traded some of the flesh, passing it off as radigator meat. The residents of Arbu are sick, twisted, disgusting ponies.

Or are they?

The justification or condemnation of cannibalism all comes down to ethics, or the way we decide what behaviors are "good" and what behaviors are "bad." For our purposes, we'll focus on three schools of thought:

1) Deontological Ethics: A behavior is either good or bad, regardless of the consequences of that action. For example, if you can save five people by killing one person, deontological ethics still says you have committed an evil deed by killing one person, regardless of how many people you saved by killing that one person.

2) Utilitarianism: Behavior should benefit the most people as possible. For example, if you can save five people by killing one person, utilitarianism commends you for contributing to the greater good and saving as many people as possible. As we will soon see, deontological ethics and utilitarianism are not opposites.

3) Virtue Ethics: This branch focuses more on the person committing the act as opposed to the act itself. For example, if Rainbow Dash were to kill one pony to save her five friends, virtue ethics sees her action as good, as she is performing as according to her loyalty virtue. Fluttershy, however, may not be seen as doing good when she does the same thing, as her main virtue is kindness.

Both deontologists and utilitarianists would see Arbu's actions as good. A deontologist would think:

1) Starving ponies is always wrong.

2) Eating pony meat, the only available food source, would stop the starving.

3) Cannibalism is morally justified.

A utilitarianist would think:

1) All ponies must eat to survive.

2) By killing and eating some ponies, most of the ponies will survive from their sacrifice.

3) Cannibalism is morally justified.

Since you probably still said (or thought) ewww... when I mentioned pony cannibalism, you know that there is some facet of ethics that makes us think eating others is wrong. This hesitation when it comes to people or pony eating is because of virtue ethics.

Think about it the way somepony who believes in virtue ethics would:

1) Kindness is a virtue.

2) Feeding others is kind.

3) Killing others is not kind.

4) Feeding others the killed is not kind.

5) Therefore, cannibalism is not justified, because the murder of the food negates the virtue of feeding somepony.

Khat, the clever devil that he is, addresses this form of corrupted kindness later in his story.

Disagree with me? Yay! Let's talk about it!

Agree with me? Yay! Let's talk about it!

Have some philosophical mumbling of your own? Yay! Let's talk about it!

By the way, I never want to eat at Arby's again, thanks to Fallout: Equestria.

Cordially,

=D
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>> No. 122317
>>122284

Interesting topic. Let's see where this thread goes.

As far as your actual points are concerned however, I'm going to have to disagree with most of your conclusions. Your arguments in favor of pony cannibalism from both the deontological and utilitarian schools of thought rest on the assumption that failure to cannibalize was equal to death. If we remove this assumption, then things get hairy really fast.

In the case of Arbu, it appears that cannibalism is engaged in not because the alternative is the death of everyone in the town, but because the town itself lacks food and trade materials sufficient to maintain itself otherwise. Now, it's certainly true that, the Equestrian Wasteland being what it is, the collapse and dissolution of Arbu probably means that most of its inhabitants will die, but the point is that we aren't facing a black and white "eat pony or starve to death" situation.

Moreover, your dentological argument seems to skip over the fact that Arbu doesn't just harvest dead bodies; they kill travelers for their meat, and they sell that meat to unsuspecting traders. A strict dentologist would probably hold that 1) murdering ponies is bad, therefor 2) murdering ponies to eat their flesh is still bad. Toss in the lesser sin of trading in ill faith, i.e. out-and-out lying, and it's hard to see how a dentologist could make the case that Arbu's actions are good.

As for the utilitarian perspective? Their argument is only valid so long as the number of ponies killed doesn't exceed the number whose lives are saved. Arbu clearly isn't a big place; although there aren't any numbers given in the story, the fact that Pip is able to single-hoofedly massacre the entire population over a relatively short span suggests to me that the number of ponies living there is probably not much over a hundred, if that. Considering how long Arbu's been in the cannibal business, I think it's safe to say that they've long since exceeded that limit. So even if we accept the argument that no cannibalism = everyone dies, a utilitarian would presumably argue that more lives are lost sustaining this population than in allowing it to die out.
>> No. 122325
>>122317

Pleasantries:

Oh goody! My first poster!

As I said before, I make absolutely no claims of being a brilliant philosopher (or even a good one!), so if I commit any major faux pas, please forgive me. I will attempt to rebuttal anything I find wrong in your argument and agree where I think you are correct.

First off: That thing you people do when you quote me with arrows and blue text: How do you do that? I think it would help me present my thoughts better.

(A Pitiable Attempt at an) Argument:

I do agree that my arguments erroneously assumed that removal of the meat equals death. I should have been more clear; I'm sure Khat does mention that the ponies are Arbu's only source of food. However, I forgot to say this, so I'm not going to argue over what I meant to say; we'll go with what I said instead. Otherwise, your post would have been a waste of time, and we don't want that!

I agree 100% on the deonologist argument. I'm frankly a little embarrassed to see how stupid my argument was now.

As far as my utilitarian argument goes, I do agree that the residents of Arbu have probably exceeded their kill limit, but consider that they trade the pony meat with other villages. I may be making to big a leap here, but if enough villages depended on Arbu's meat shipments, then the numbers could actually balance out.
>> No. 122341
>>122325

To green-, er, bluetext, just type a > at the start of the line

>like this.

It does the rest automatically.

While I understand the argument behind your hypothetical utilitarian's point, the equation quickly spirals towards uselessness as we add variables. For example: ponies trade for food with Arbu. Is all of that trade necessary to sustain life, or is some of it a matter of convenience? Do some towns find it easier to purchase "radgator" meat than to try and hunt their own, even if they hypothetically could? If so, then we have to factor the number of traders' lives lost while transporting what are, essentially, luxury goods into the picture: had Arbu not been trading cannibalized ponies, those traders wouldn't have been traveling the wastelands (or at least, there would be fewer traders to match the reduced need for trade), and thus their deaths can be "blamed" on Arbu.

Of course, we can go the other way, too: if there would be fewer traders in the badlands without Arbu's meat production, then presumably that means traders would come to towns less frequently, which might mean deaths due to disease which could have been cured had merchants bearing medicine been making more frequent trips, for example. But the point is that once you get beyond immediate consequences, it's awfully hard to make a numbers judgement that's anything more than a guess. For a real-world example of how hard these kind of second-and third-order variables are to calculate, consider the economic impact an NFL team has on the city around it. The NFL estimates that each of its franchises brings $50,000,000 plus to their respective communities each year; other groups (specifically, those that campaign against state funding for stadiums) estimate the yearly impact to be a fraction of that. The vast difference in numbers comes from trying to figure out things like how much bar and restaurant revenue is generated by people watching games and whether they'd go out to eat anyway, figuring out what percent of tax revenue from ticket sales to count, i.e. what percent of ticket revenue wouldn't be spent on other in-state entertainment of the team weren't there, and a hundred other things.

So yeah, I get where you're coming from, but I don't see how we could try to generate a functional lives saved vs. lives cost calculation once we get past population of town vs. number of ponies killed.
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