Kill To Live: Evil or Neutral?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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An example: Deathweb

I am aware that this thread will probably veer wildly off-topic as some wiseass brings in an extreme example, possibly involving orphanages, to prove his point. But before that happens, we just might have some meaningful discussion about this. So, to put the question simply: Is it evil to kill indiscriminately if it's the only way to keep yourself alive?

This discussion assumes that you do not have any great cause--you simply want to live and will do whatever it takes to keep doing that, though you may feel really cruddy about it. The discussion will also assume you do not kill children, just to avoid that easy "extreme example" fodder.

In fact, here's a list of who you kill in two months: Three innocent farmers, two goblins, a serial rapist, five hobgoblins, two guards and an internet troll from Earth.

Keep in mind I'm asking for opinions. This is not a Rules Question. Does your opinion on this matter change if he only kills a single farmer to save his own hide? What if all the death is the consequence of a single action, rather than a prolonged practice?


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I would be curious why so many people from such diverse walks of life are trying to kill him.


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It's not self-defense. That, I feel, would be justifiable. The reason he has to kill them to live doesn't matter because that's no what we're discussing. This isn't an actual scenario, it's something I'm curious about opinions on.

If we really need an explanation, let's say he's Edward Cullen and he needs to eat to live, but there's no easy supply of evil people, so he has to eat whoever he can find.


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Cheburn wrote:
I would be curious why so many people from such diverse walks of life are trying to kill him.

No, his life is sustained by murder, not people trying to kill him.

Meh. I'd call it neutral. People cannot reasonably be expected to value the lives of strangers over their own.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

An example: Deathweb

...Is it evil to kill indiscriminately if it's the only way to keep yourself alive?

...In fact, here's a list of who you kill in two months: Three innocent farmers, two goblins, a serial rapist of orphans, five hobgoblins, two guards and an internet troll from Earth.

Just to clarify, does the question assume that I am killing them because I am a creature like the Deathweb? ie. Are these people food?

Edit the first: Ninja'd

Edit the second: Given that these people are food, this is no more evil than making a roast beef sandwich. I'll admit to some real-world ambivalence about that sort of thing, but eaters gonna eat.

Edit the third: Dammit. Now I want a sandwich.


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Also, I just realized that by defining this guy as Edward Cullen, I have dramatically reduced the chances of anybody taking his side.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
...Does your opinion on this matter change if he only kills a single farmer to save his own hide? What if all the death is the consequence of a single action, rather than a prolonged practice?

Okay that's slightly trickier. I may not understand exactly what you're asking though.

If I only need to eat one person, but I kill all of them at once because it's just the most convenient way to get one of them between two slices of bread, then that's a lot more like evil.


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I'd answer in that it is an evil act to kill innocents to keep yourself alive.

Whether or not someone who would do this would have an evil alignment is another question altogether.


aboniks wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
...Does your opinion on this matter change if he only kills a single farmer to save his own hide? What if all the death is the consequence of a single action, rather than a prolonged practice?

Okay that's slightly trickier. I may not understand exactly what you're asking though.

If I only need to eat one person, but I kill all of them at once because it's just the most convenient way to get one of them between two slices of bread, then that's a lot more like evil.

I meant more like, say, someone needs to kill twelve people to survive (like, they're unknowingly blocking his way). Same amount of death, same reasons, but it's a single action rather than something he chooses to do again and again.


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Cheburn wrote:

I'd answer in that it is an evil act to kill innocents to keep yourself alive.

Whether or not someone who would do this would have an evil alignment is another question altogether.

So much for non-vegetarians.


blahpers wrote:
Cheburn wrote:

I'd answer in that it is an evil act to kill innocents to keep yourself alive.

Whether or not someone who would do this would have an evil alignment is another question altogether.

So much for non-vegetarians.

Nah, it's cool. You can't be meaningfully innocent unless you're capable of feeling guilt.

I have yet to meet a guilty double-bacon cheeseburger.

#ludicrousrationalizations


blahpers wrote:
Cheburn wrote:

I'd answer in that it is an evil act to kill innocents to keep yourself alive.

Whether or not someone who would do this would have an evil alignment is another question altogether.

So much for non-vegetarians.

Meh, we're talking about things with an INT score above 2 here.

The Exchange

Evil


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That's an interesting conundrum... Assuming the creature making the killing is intelligent... On one hand, it's only doing the necessary to survive, and we do kill stuff for sustenance all the time (I'm pretty sure the only reason I instinctively value human life more than that of a random bovine is because I'm human).

OTOH... It's putting its life above that of multiple innocent creatures. Is it looking for alternative feeding habits? Is it killing as little as possible or just accepting it as an everyday thing?

I can't be sure if this should be considered Neutral or Evil, but I'll say that it is indeed a neutral act, it's dangerously close to slipping into evil territory. Just a little slip and the creature is suddenly no longer doing just the necessary to survive.


In Pathfinder, neutral.

A Tarrasque is the ethical equivalent of a very dumb person (int>2) and kills indiscriminately yet it is True Neutral in Pathfinder.


Lemmy wrote:
(I'm pretty sure the only reason I instinctively value human life more than that of a random bovine is because I'm human not a cannibal)

Fixed that for you. ;)

Liberty's Edge

Cheburn wrote:

I'd answer in that it is an evil act to kill innocents to keep yourself alive.

Whether or not someone who would do this would have an evil alignment is another question altogether.

I agree with this. Killing innocents to live is Evil, and will usually turn you Evil if you keep doing it long enough...but if you really try to avoid it, work to help people the rest of the time, or commit other Good acts along the way you can quite possibly remain Neutral for quite a while. Good alignment is gonna go the way of the dodo quick, though.

blahpers wrote:
So much for non-vegetarians.

The lives of sapient beings and non-sapient beings are not equivalent.The first are not morally acceptable to kill for food, the second are.


Deadmanwalking, the tarrasque is intelligent enough to comprehend a language, kills loads of innocents for no real reason, and is Neutral.

Please explain why having a good reason for killing suddenly makes it evil. Killing people for a good reason, i.e. your continued existence, is not evil. It could become evil quickly, sure, but it's not inherently evil.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
The lives of sapient beings and non-sapient beings are not equivalent.The first are not morally acceptable to kill for food, the second are.

Oh? Those are bold claims. Upon what basis do they stand?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:

An example: Deathweb

I am aware that this thread will probably veer wildly off-topic as some wiseass brings in an extreme example, possibly involving orphanages, to prove his point. But before that happens, we just might have some meaningful discussion about this. So, to put the question simply: Is it evil to kill indiscriminately if it's the only way to keep yourself alive?

This discussion assumes that you do not have any great cause--you simply want to live and will do whatever it takes to keep doing that, though you may feel really cruddy about it. The discussion will also assume you do not kill children, just to avoid that easy "extreme example" fodder.

In fact, here's a list of who you kill in two months: Three innocent farmers, two goblins, a serial rapist, five hobgoblins, two guards and an internet troll from Earth.

Keep in mind I'm asking for opinions. This is not a Rules Question. Does your opinion on this matter change if he only kills a single farmer to save his own hide? What if all the death is the consequence of a single action, rather than a prolonged practice?

Why is Deathweb a discussion? It's not a person, it's a THING, a created monstrosity. It doesn't even have the excuse of being natural. When one appears it's a menace plain and simple. It's something that you may need heroes to take down, but there is no moral quandary about doing so.


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I'm with Deadmanwalking and for the exact same reasons. Killing for selfish reasons, and knowing that you will continue to do so for the remainder of your existence is pretty much a classic definition of evil.

Whatever has put you in that state is unfortunate, but your misfortune is not reason to preserve your life at the expense of potentially thousands of people over the course of your 'life'. You are not worth that much, as you are just one person just like them.

This is absolutely no different than organ traffickers who murder innocents to get organs for someone who is too far down the waiting list to survive. It is unfortunate what has happened, but that doesn't make the activity any less evil. It is wholly irrelevant whether or not they are strangers.


As far as I'm concerned if somebody is consciously deciding to kill a dozen random people in order to prolong their own life then that's evil. The fact that it is on some level understandable doesn't keep it from being cold, calculating and selfish.

Liberty's Edge

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Ipslore the Red wrote:
Deadmanwalking, the tarrasque is intelligent enough to comprehend a language, kills loads of innocents for no real reason, and is Neutral.

The Tarrasque is a weird corner case. It's not entirely clear to what degree it understands that other beings, y'know, really exist. It's this huge unstoppable monster and there are no others of its kind, and it can't speak, and only has Int 3...so just barely above animal...and it's a lot less fragile than most of the things it runs into. It's very hard to gauge whether it even knows what 'innocence' is. Or that the damage it causes hurts beings as real as it is.

Ipslore the Red wrote:
Please explain why having a good reason for killing suddenly makes it evil. Killing people for a good reason, i.e. your continued existence, is not evil. It could become evil quickly, sure, but it's not inherently evil.

Whoah, I never said it was more Evil to do it to live. Killing innocents is always an Evil act. It's probably less Evil the more it's necessary, but it never stops being Evil.

blahpers wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
The lives of sapient beings and non-sapient beings are not equivalent.The first are not morally acceptable to kill for food, the second are.
Oh? Those are bold claims. Upon what basis do they stand?

The idea that sapience matters. The idea that the ability to think and reason is what makes something a person, morally speaking. If it's not a person...well, killing it for no reason or being unnecessarily cruel to it is still Evil, but killing it for a reason like survival is acceptable. If it is a person (or is only not a person temporarily, like with Feeblemind) then the moral strictures governing killing them are a lot more strict simply because they are sapient beings capable of, say, having a discussion like this.

I consider this a basic moral and ethical principle in real life, and thus think it's true in-game as well. Others moral codes may differ, but, frankly, I think they are incorrect if they differ on this particular issue.


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Going with the Edward Cullen example, of course I despise the guy but for the purposes of psychological discussion he is a good example to bring up. I'd say he's neutral or even good depending on who he targets. By all means he's just hunting to survive.

And heck, if all he kills are people that are say, going to die of old age in a week anyways, then I'd argue he's going out of his way to hunt in the least damaging way as possible. This in my eyes would make him good, or as good as a vampire can be. Or, perhaps he snacks on Nazis exclusively? That would make him good also IMO. Especially if he's hunting for the cause of good.

However, if he instead relishes in killing and his victims suffering, then he is evil.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
aboniks wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
...Does your opinion on this matter change if he only kills a single farmer to save his own hide? What if all the death is the consequence of a single action, rather than a prolonged practice?

Okay that's slightly trickier. I may not understand exactly what you're asking though.

If I only need to eat one person, but I kill all of them at once because it's just the most convenient way to get one of them between two slices of bread, then that's a lot more like evil.

I meant more like, say, someone needs to kill twelve people to survive (like, they're unknowingly blocking his way). Same amount of death, same reasons, but it's a single action rather than something he chooses to do again and again.

In this situation I would say it's totally up what the character thinks in the situation.

If he does so without hesitation or only for his own life it's definitely evil, chaotic as well.

If it's very-VERY unwillingly, unintentionally done or for the greater good (aka not only his own life, he hopes that they maybe won't die from it or he very carefully decided that it has to be done) and just maybe those that gets killed aren't the very nicest people (should be known by the guy killing them). Then I'd say it's closer to neutral.


I'm going to go out on a limb. This shouldn't have anything to do with the monsters, just because this is a D&D game.

When I think of a man that kills to survive, I think of him going to that farmer that HE MUST KILL and he has a choice. He can decide to ask that farmer to help him. An animal doesn't have that option. Also a man is an Omnivore. What is stopping this man from taking crops from these farms and eating them instead of killing?

If he is killing because there is something in him that says he must go out of his way to kill an innocent farmer then he is more than neutral.

Perhaps in this discussion he is evil but not flat out evil. Perhaps that is the problem with the Alignment system, there isn't enough degrees. (Paladins would have more room)

In any case, if the man can't find a way to not find another food source (there are other animals out there) then I would put him in the EVIL slot.


Blatantly not evil.

You're doing what you need to in order to survive. Thats natural, otherwise every living thing thats not a plant is evil.

And no, sentience does not inherently make one living thing better than another. There is no grand overarching rule that says sentience is level 3 on the living thing importance scale, no arbitrary ruling that makes it so.


Hm. I figured this was a moral dilemma posed by a hunger games fan.


I wouldn't consider it evil to kill another person if you were caught in a SAW-like scenario where it's you or them. However, I would consider it good to defer and let them kill you.


Apotheosis wrote:

I'm with Deadmanwalking and for the exact same reasons. Killing for selfish reasons, and knowing that you will continue to do so for the remainder of your existence is pretty much a classic definition of evil.

Whatever has put you in that state is unfortunate, but your misfortune is not reason to preserve your life at the expense of potentially thousands of people over the course of your 'life'. You are not worth that much, as you are just one person just like them.

This is absolutely no different than organ traffickers who murder innocents to get organs for someone who is too far down the waiting list to survive. It is unfortunate what has happened, but that doesn't make the activity any less evil. It is wholly irrelevant whether or not they are strangers.

Oh, here we go...

It might be easy to obtain something, but it becomes harder and harder to further maintain that something, until eventually one cannot handle that something any further, and then consequences follow. How about you walk a mile in its shoes first before you condemn it.

You're in some decrepit area nearby what appears to be a food source. If you have sentience, and no knowledge of the after-life, not being shackled to the ways of Society (as we Humans, in this modern day era currently are), it's not going to sit there and starve itself to death in order to keep it from living, to fulfill some cut-out duty fit by the same thresholds it does not abide by.

By this logic, all Humans, no...all living things are Evil, since it is doing a selfish act (eating other life) for a selfish reason (preserving your time on the mortal world).

Except that's not the case. Don't feed me that garbage. Life is full of a constant struggle to stay alive and claim superiority, for an endgame unknown, and for reasons about as clouded and misguided as those who exist in it. Darwin's Theory of Evolution is practically the only sort of Law a creature such as that must abide by in a world such as Pathfinder, as that's the only Law that has consequences for him.

And even if the creature in question does what it does, what are the villagers going to do? Kill the creature to protect themselves? Wait...isn't that:

1. Killing?
2. For selfish reasons? (Protection and Survivability? Pretty damn selfish to me.)
3. Doing so knowingly?
4. These same 3 reasons and actions in conjunction are to be done repeatedly over the course of their existence?

Congratulations, the villagers killing the creature are now also the same sort of "Classic Evil" you described to both the creature and the cliche assumption. And depending on how little or how often the creature has been eating villagers, the villagers could actually be more Evil than the same creature they killed, according to your misguided definition.

I'm glad we've managed to confuse "Vying for Survival" and "Physical/Mental/Emotional Torturing for Amusement and Pleasure" into thinking they're the same thing. They aren't.

I'm sure you've heard the term of phrase "Strength of 10 Men." Quantity is nothing. Quality is everything. If you have 1 Human Being with Strength equal to 10 Human Beings, the Strength exchange rate for this "Super-Human" to "Regular Humans" would be 10 to 1. The same applies for all other forms of life too.

The example the OP mentions is different from the one you describe. The creature isn't "murdering innocent people" for a subject which it otherwise has no specific use for or cares for; it's eating what it considers a natural food source. How is that Evil, exactly? And if it is Evil, then why don't all Humans; no, all living beings, have Evil as a required alignment?

Liberty's Edge

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Thomas Long 175 wrote:
And no, sentience does not inherently make one living thing better than another. There is no grand overarching rule that says sentience is level 3 on the living thing importance scale, no arbitrary ruling that makes it so.

Arbitrary? No. But I believe there is such a rule. A cow is not morally equivalent to a human and killing it is simply not as morally wrong. A cow can feel pain, but it can't think deep thoughts or dream of the future, nor does it have free will and moral agency. And all that, again, means it is simply not morally equal to a human being, and killing it is not the same.

Note: I use cows and humans for this example. Other animals could easily replace cows and other sapient beings could easily replace humans.

EDIT:
@Darksol the Painbringer: The difference is the fact that if killing humans you are killing fully intelligent beings who have done nothing wrong. This is not the same as killing deer, cows, or other animals.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Thomas Long 175 wrote:
And no, sentience does not inherently make one living thing better than another. There is no grand overarching rule that says sentience is level 3 on the living thing importance scale, no arbitrary ruling that makes it so.

Arbitrary? No. But I believe there is such a rule. A cow is not morally equivalent to a human and killing it is simply not as morally wrong. A cow can feel pain, but it can't think deep thoughts or dream of the future, nor does it have free will and moral agency. And all that, again, means it is simply not morally equal to a human being, and killing it is not the same.

Note: I use cows and humans for this example. Other animals could easily replace cows and other sapient beings could easily replace humans.

Define where said rule comes from, and please, please let this not be a religious debate.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
@Darksol the Painbringer: The difference is the fact that if killing humans you are killing fully intelligent beings who have done nothing wrong. This is not the same as killing deer, cows, or other animals.

And these same "humans" the creature kills are also killing "fully intelligent beings" for similar selfish reasons. My point is if you're going to sit there and proposed that sentient creatures who kill things for selfish reasons are Evil, then you're just as easily describing the Human race as it stands in this modern day society, much more so ones that exist in Pathfinder, as you are the same creature you deem "Evil".

As far as I'm concerned, this same "creature," if it functioned in the same modern-day society that Humans live in, could take you to court and sue you for racism, since it is not getting the same rights that Humans should.

Liberty's Edge

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Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Define where said rule comes from, and please, please let this not be a religious debate.

Okay, I'll avoid religion. :)

Philosophically, a thinking being is not morally equivalent to a non-thinking being. This can be easily determined by asking if a Lion is Evil for murdering a human in cold blood, not for food but simply for entertainment. Most philosophical systems will say no, because the lion lacks awareness (and, in fact, the ability to have awareness) of the wrongness of its actions. It is not a moral actor and it never will be.

It is therefore reasonable not to judge the deaths of creatures that are not moral actors (and are, indeed, incapable of being so) by the same standards you judge the deaths of moral actors. Beings capable of moral judgment are people, and killing them is wrong. Beings not capable of such are not people and killing them if necessary is not wrong in and of itself.

So it comes from the idea that morality exists as a thing and that, say, cows are not capable of moral action. Both seem reasonable ideas and principles to me.

Liberty's Edge

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

And these same "humans" the creature kills are also killing "fully intelligent beings" for similar selfish reasons. My point is if you're going to sit there and proposed that sentient creatures who kill things for selfish reasons are Evil, then you're just as easily describing the Human race as it stands in this modern day society, much more so ones that exist in Pathfinder, as you are the same creature you deem "Evil".

As far as I'm concerned, this same "creature," if it functioned in the same modern-day society that Humans live in, could take you to court and sue you for racism, since it is not getting the same rights that Humans should.

Sorry, misread your post. The creature you mention, if intelligent, is not equivalent to deer or other such things.

The creature you mention is Evil if it knows the humans are intelligent and kills them anyway, because it has alternate avenues to feed itself, so it's choosing to kill innocents simply out of convenience. Even if it lacks other avenues for food, it could choose to die rather than kill innocent beings. A being that chooses to murder innocents in order to prolong its own life is performing an Evil act.

The humans are not Evil because self defense isn't Evil. There is a moral distinction between killing someone because they have something you want (even if that thing is food) and defending yourself.


I deem that blatantly incorrect.

Killing for amusement, the act of doing so, independent of the being doing it, is a blatantly evil act. Regardless of who does it. The action is what is defined as evil, and a being's status is decided by the actions they take, regardless of their ability to comprehend.

In other words. Someone with the mental intelligence of a very small child (Int 3 or so) who delighted in the suffering of others and causing such would still be a bad person.


Morality is inapplicable to non-sentient beings. It is also arguably not equally applicable to all sentient beings, given the fact that the definition of morality is variable among humans themselves. It 's a construct we define culturally and individually and then hang upon each others actions.

A wolf that kills a sheep is amoral, not good or evil. (because "nature")

A wolf that kills an orphan a human is amoral, not good or evil.

A human that kills a wolf? Moral; good or evil, depending upon who judges. (because "nature", except for humans who assert that we are special and no longer "natural")

A human that kills a sheep? Moral; good or evil, depending upon who judges. (because "nature", except for humans who assert that we are special and no longer "natural")

Humans are animals, like sheep and wolves. Sentience does not make us better, or more important, but it makes us behave differently. The difference is that we are capable of assigning, communicating, and internalizing guilt. Guilt is the cornerstone of morality. Guilt is what gives us the illusion of being fundamentally different from sheep and wolves. It's a function of language and memory; in a nutshell, the capacity for guilt is the beginning of sentience.

Wolves can reason, or cooperative hunting wouldn't work; But until there's a way to demonstrate that a wolf (or any other predator aside from us) can feel guilt, we humans get to preserve our illusion of exceptionalism.

If killing is always an act that must be viewed though the lens of human-defined morality, then Jack the ripper and a venus flytrap are equivalent, and evil.

Liberty's Edge

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Thomas Long 175 wrote:

I deem that blatantly incorrect.

Killing for amusement, the act of doing so, independent of the being doing it, is a blatantly evil act. Regardless of who does it. The action is what is defined as evil, and a being's status is decided by the actions they take, regardless of their ability to comprehend.

Animals are always Neutral in the game, they are incapable of being Evil...so the game itself agrees with me.

Thomas Long 175 wrote:
In other words. Someone with the mental intelligence of a very small child (Int 3 or so) who delighted in the suffering of others and causing such would still be a bad person.

With Int 3? You're right. Int 3 is the game's cutoff point for sapience, and thus the ability to be a moral actor. An Int 2 creature with the same attitude, however, would not be Evil. Only supernatural effects (like being literally made of the essence of Evil ala Undead) make creatures that low in intellect count as Evil.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Thomas Long 175 wrote:

I deem that blatantly incorrect.

Killing for amusement, the act of doing so, independent of the being doing it, is a blatantly evil act. Regardless of who does it. The action is what is defined as evil, and a being's status is decided by the actions they take, regardless of their ability to comprehend.

Animals are always Neutral in the game, they are incapable of being Evil...so the game itself agrees with me.

Thomas Long 175 wrote:
In other words. Someone with the mental intelligence of a very small child (Int 3 or so) who delighted in the suffering of others and causing such would still be a bad person.
With Int 3? You're right. Int 3 is the game's cutoff point for sapience, and thus the ability to be a moral actor. An Int 2 creature with the same attitude, however, would not be Evil. Only supernatural effects (like being literally made of the essence of Evil ala Undead) make creatures that low in intellect count as Evil.

Wanna bring up the terrasque again, or the fact that paizo has openly admitted the rules for animal intelligence are completely wonky and run on an entirely different scale?

As for beyond, i'm making a moral statement in general, beyond the confines of game. Nothing even said tghat i recall even stated this was purely in game.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

And these same "humans" the creature kills are also killing "fully intelligent beings" for similar selfish reasons. My point is if you're going to sit there and proposed that sentient creatures who kill things for selfish reasons are Evil, then you're just as easily describing the Human race as it stands in this modern day society, much more so ones that exist in Pathfinder, as you are the same creature you deem "Evil".

As far as I'm concerned, this same "creature," if it functioned in the same modern-day society that Humans live in, could take you to court and sue you for racism, since it is not getting the same rights that Humans should.

Sorry, misread your post. The creature you mention, if intelligent, is not equivalent to deer or other such things.

The creature you mention is Evil if it knows the humans are intelligent and kills them anyway, because it has alternate avenues to feed itself, so it's choosing to kill innocents simply out of convenience. Even if it lacks other avenues for food, it could choose to die rather than kill innocent beings. A being that chooses to murder innocents in order to prolong its own life is performing an Evil act.

The humans are not Evil because self defense isn't Evil. There is a moral distinction between killing someone because they have something you want (even if that thing is food) and defending yourself.

And once again you proceed to describe this same "Creature" the same way anyone would describe an average Human Being.

Let's take a look at the creature's behavior again, shall we?

Deathweb wrote:
Deathwebs lair where they can build webs to trap passersby, such as among thick trees or in caves or tunnels. The creatures don't actively collect valuables, but they kill indiscriminately to feed the multitude of spiders within.

Let's say it's in a mine in a nearby town; one of the workers get stuck in there and gets eaten by it. This same creature then lives in the mine for the rest of the days, eating several workers who dare venture down there. If the workers simply stop mining there, the creature will starve, and it will need nourishment or it dies.

So it moves into the forest, another popular habitat. It might come across forest animals or livestock, but this same area is a spot that humans might be located in, be trapped by the creature, and eaten all the same.

It takes what it can get, but just because the habitat consists of nothing but Humans, makes it a convenience for the creature, and thusly makes it Evil? I don't think so.

Also, bolded your flatline contradiction. Murdering living sentient beings to prolong their own life means all interactions that involves killing one another, regardless of what side it is, then becomes Evil. This includes the side that claims self-defense. (Why not, if Death was an actual entity, then Death would be the Evilest thing in the world.)

It doesn't matter. There were 2 (or more) sides, one wanted to kill the other guy and vice versa, simply to stay alive; the truth is, regardless of the result, one participated in the murder of a living, sentient being, and even if the side claims self-defense, they still killed somebody to prolong their own life. That is the definition of Evil you decided to cite, of which self-defense still falls under.

I'll tell you what, if there's nothing but canned soup around for me to eat, and I eat it, then I'll have the Soup Gods condemn me to hell and call me the most vile things you can think of. After all, that's basically what you're telling me, which is a bunch of horsepuckey.

Liberty's Edge

aboniks wrote:
Humans are animals, like sheep and wolves. Sentience does not make us better, or more important, but it makes us behave differently. The difference is that we are capable of assigning, communicating, and internalizing guilt. Guilt is the cornerstone of morality. Guilt is what gives us the illusion of being fundamentally different from sheep and wolves. It's a function of language and memory; in a nutshell, the capacity for guilt is the beginning of sentience.

I disagree with this profoundly. I'm gonna talk a little bit here about something I don't talk about a lot: I'm a borderline sociopath, or at least I think so, it's hard to diagnose that sort of thing absent antisocial behavior. In any case, I've never felt guilt about anything in my life, the closest I come is cognitive dissonance (the feeling that what I just did is inconsistent with who I think I am). I don't think I can feel guilt. I remain a moral person, because I choose to be. I have a philosophical belief in certain principles, and an aesthetic appreciation for the concept of justice, and that seems to work for me without the necessity of guilt.

aboniks wrote:
Wolves can reason, or cooperative hunting wouldn't work; But until there's a way to demonstrate that a wolf (or any other predator aside from us) can feel guilt, we humans get to preserve our illusion of exceptionalism.

Abstract reasoning is the usual cutoff, and there's little evidence wolves can do that. The great apes and dolphins might be able to, of course, but that simply expands the range of sapient creatures, not changes the difference between sapient and non-sapient.

aboniks wrote:
If killing is always an act that must be viewed though the lens of human-defined morality, then Jack the ripper and a venus flytrap are equivalent, and evil.

I disagree with this quite a bit, just for the record.

Thomas Long 175 wrote:
Wanna bring up the terrasque again, or the fact that paizo has openly admitted the rules for animal intelligence are completely wonky and run on an entirely different scale?

Animal intelligence is wonky, I'll grant you. But generally speaking the 3+ thing does apply.

Thomas Long 175 wrote:
As for beyond, i'm making a moral statement in general, beyond the confines of game. Nothing even said tghat i recall even stated this was purely in game.

I'm not stating purely in-game. I firmly believe in the moral principles I'm espousing in real life, and I'm hardly alone in thinking that killing a cow and killing a man aren't the same thing, morally speaking.

Silver Crusade

After looking at this I have then gone to sourcebooks. It seems there are several species that are non-evil that kill rather indiscriminatly. Either from being hungry, territorial, bad-tempered or all three.

As for killing for sport always being evil even if int is 2 or lower. there are some creatures who have no connection between the kill instinct and the eat instinct. Housecats for example, need to be taught a mouse is dinner before they'll eat one. However they'll kill one because it's something that moves, is small and therefore is to be pounced upon and attacked.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

The idea that sapience matters. The idea that the ability to think and reason is what makes something a person, morally speaking. If it's not a person...well, killing it for no reason or being unnecessarily cruel to it is still Evil, but killing it for a reason like survival is acceptable. If it is a person (or is only not a person temporarily, like with Feeblemind) then the moral strictures governing killing them are a lot more strict simply because they are sapient beings capable of, say, having a discussion like this.

I consider this a basic moral and ethical principle in real life, and thus think it's true in-game as well. Others moral codes may differ, but, frankly, I think they are incorrect if they differ on this particular issue.

I can't think of a diplomatic way to point this out, but . . . You realize that your response was, in kinder terms, "sapience matters because sapience matters, and if you don't agree then you're wrong"? Surely you can do better.


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aboniks wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
(I'm pretty sure the only reason I instinctively value human life more than that of a random bovine is because I'm human not a cannibal)
Fixed that for you. ;)

I don't think so. Even if I had been raised in a culture where eating other human beings was socially acceptable (or even encouraged), chances are I'd still value a human life over that of an animal or plant.

I don't eat dog meat, and I had a few of them as pets. But still, I (instinctively?) value a human life more than a dog life.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
aboniks wrote:
Humans are animals, like sheep and wolves. Sentience does not make us better, or more important, but it makes us behave differently. The difference is that we are capable of assigning, communicating, and internalizing guilt. Guilt is the cornerstone of morality. Guilt is what gives us the illusion of being fundamentally different from sheep and wolves. It's a function of language and memory; in a nutshell, the capacity for guilt is the beginning of sentience.
I disagree with this profoundly. I'm gonna talk a little bit here about something I don't talk about a lot: I'm a borderline sociopath, or at least I think so, it's hard to diagnose that sort of thing absent antisocial behavior. In any case, I've never felt guilt about anything in my life, the closest I come is cognitive dissonance (the feeling that what I just did is inconsistent with who I think I am). I don't think I can feel guilt. I remain a moral person, because I choose to be. I have a philosophical belief in certain principles, and an aesthetic appreciation for the concept of justice, and that seems to work for me without the necessity of guilt.

Fair enough. Let's start from the baseline assumption that your psychological makeup is at significant variance to the prevailing biological human norm. Take a step back then. Imagine yourself in a world where there is no pre-existing framework created by others to define what morality is or to give you an example (even a negative one) of who you 'should' be. Would you still choose to be a 'moral person' in a cultural and philosophical vacuum?

Liberty's Edge

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

Sorry, misread your post. The creature you mention, if intelligent, is not equivalent to deer or other such things.

The creature you mention is Evil if it knows the humans are intelligent and kills them anyway, because it has alternate avenues to feed itself, so it's choosing to kill innocents simply out of convenience. Even if it lacks other avenues for food, it could choose to die rather than kill innocent beings. A being that chooses to murder innocents in order to prolong its own life is performing an Evil act.

The humans are not Evil because self defense isn't Evil. There is a moral distinction between killing someone because they have something you want (even if that thing is food) and defending yourself.

And once again you proceed to describe this same "Creature" the same way anyone would describe an average Human Being.

Let's take a look at the creature's behavior again, shall we?

Deathweb wrote:
Deathwebs lair where they can build webs to trap passersby, such as among thick trees or in caves or tunnels. The creatures don't actively collect valuables, but they kill indiscriminately to feed the multitude of spiders within.

Okay, first off, a Deathweb isn't Evil because it's effectively mindless. Or at least not smart enough to be a moral actor or understand that humans are different to prey on than deer, morally speaking.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

Let's say it's in a mine in a nearby town; one of the workers get stuck in there and gets eaten by it. This same creature then lives in the mine for the rest of the days, eating several workers who dare venture down there. If the workers simply stop mining there, the creature will starve, and it will need nourishment or it dies.

So it moves into the forest, another popular habitat. It might come across forest animals or livestock, but this same area is a spot that humans might be located in, be trapped by the creature, and eaten all the same.

It takes what it can get, but just because the habitat consists of nothing but Humans, makes it a convenience for the creature, and thusly makes it Evil? I don't think so.

If it's intelligent and understands that these are other intelligent beings? Yes. It could always move somewhere humans weren't or make some sort of deal with them (protection for livestock or something). Or, if all else fails, die rather than murder beings with as much right to live as it has. It doesn't have to kill.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Also, bolded your flatline contradiction. Murdering living sentient beings to prolong their own life means all interactions that involves killing one another, regardless of what side it is, then becomes Evil. This includes the side that claims self-defense. (Why not, if Death was an actual entity, then Death would be the Evilest thing in the world.)

An intelligent creature that kills people for food is not innocent. No contradiction there. There is a moral as well as legal distinction between being the aggressor and defender.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
It doesn't matter. There were 2 (or more) sides, one wanted to kill the other guy and vice versa, simply to stay alive; the truth is, regardless of the result, one participated in the murder of a living, sentient being, and even if the side claims self-defense, they still killed somebody to prolong their own life. That is the definition of Evil you decided to cite, of which self-defense still falls under.

This is flatly incorrect. Again, defending yourself is different from preying on others, even for survival. Protecting your home from thieves is not the same thing morally as being a thief, nor is protecting your life the same thing as going out to kill someone. Theft and murder aren't always unjustified, but protecting yourself from theft and murder is pretty much always justified.

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I'll tell you what, if there's nothing but canned soup around for me to eat, and I eat it, then I'll have the Soup Gods condemn me to hell and call me the most vile things you can think of. After all, that's basically what you're telling me, which is a bunch of horsepuckey.

Soup is not a living being. If you're trapped on a life raft with nothing to eat and another person is there with you, and you kill them to eat them, then you may not be Evil, but guess what? That was an Evil act, and if you keep doing it, you'll be Evil fairly quickly.


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Lemmy wrote:
aboniks wrote:
Lemmy wrote:
(I'm pretty sure the only reason I instinctively value human life more than that of a random bovine is because I'm human not a cannibal)
Fixed that for you. ;)

I don't think so. Even if I had been raised in a culture where eating other human beings was socially acceptable (or even encouraged), chances are I'd still value a human life over that of an animal or plant.

I don't eat dog meat, and I had a few of them as pets. But still, I (instinctively?) value a human life more than a dog life.

The only reason a human ever values the life of a human over another animal is because instinctively we are basically a pack culture, tribal, much like primates. Our ancestors stood a better chance of surviving if we watched out for each other and got rid of the ones that posed a threat to the group.

So whats left is us, those with pre existing natures that say, "They are like us. They are part of our group. We should not want them to hurt or die, because we're all safer if we each do something if another hurts or dies."

There is literally zero morality to any of it, it is a survival instinct, albeit a more complex one than the lizard "eat sleep have sex fight"

Liberty's Edge

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aboniks wrote:
Fair enough. Let's start from the baseline assumption that your psychological makeup is at significant variance to the prevailing biological human norm.

That's certainly true. :)

aboniks wrote:
Take a step back then. Imagine yourself in a world where there is no pre-existing framework created by others to define what morality is or to give you an example (even a negative one) of who you 'should' be. Would you still choose to be a 'moral person' in a cultural and philosophical vacuum?

I...don't know, actually. Biologically, people do seem to have an inherent grasp of fairness/justice (experiments indicate apes know when they are being treated unfairly and object to such treatment), and I seem to still have that wiring functioning normally, I am also interested enough in understanding other people to realize they care about this as well...and I seem to have developed my aesthetic appreciation of justice pretty much as soon as I ran into the concept. So, I'd probably care about that...but I might easily be a lot less particular about how results were achieved. Or maybe I'd be some sort of monster. Or both.

Really, it's such a bizarre hypothetical I'm not sure how anyone could predict their behavior properly in such circumstances.

Liberty's Edge

blahpers wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:

The idea that sapience matters. The idea that the ability to think and reason is what makes something a person, morally speaking. If it's not a person...well, killing it for no reason or being unnecessarily cruel to it is still Evil, but killing it for a reason like survival is acceptable. If it is a person (or is only not a person temporarily, like with Feeblemind) then the moral strictures governing killing them are a lot more strict simply because they are sapient beings capable of, say, having a discussion like this.

I consider this a basic moral and ethical principle in real life, and thus think it's true in-game as well. Others moral codes may differ, but, frankly, I think they are incorrect if they differ on this particular issue.

I can't think of a diplomatic way to point this out, but . . . You realize that your response was, in kinder terms, "sapience matters because sapience matters, and if you don't agree then you're wrong"? Surely you can do better.

It was late. And I went into more detail about why I feel things work that way in a later post. Feel free to respond to it.

And I did phrase it as "I think you're wrong."


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Thomas Long 175 wrote:

The only reason a human ever values the life of a human over another animal is because instinctively we are basically a pack culture, tribal, much like primates. Our ancestors stood a better chance of surviving if we watched out for each other and got rid of the ones that posed a threat to the group.

So whats left is us, those with pre existing natures that say, "They are like us. They are part of our group. We should not want them to hurt or die, because we're all safer if we each do something if another hurts or dies."

There is literally zero morality to any of it, it is a survival instinct, albeit a more complex one than the lizard "eat sleep have sex fight"

What has this got to do with the Pathfinder alignment rules?

Thomas Long 175 wrote:
The only reason a human ever values the life of a human over another animal is because instinctively we are basically a pack culture, tribal, much like primates.

.

Not me. Sometimes I override instinct. Like posting in this thread.

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