I am referring, of course, to the existential crisis of global warming. Regardless of whether or not we've by now passed the tipping point, obviously there was a time when 'we had time to act' (say, on November 7, 2000). So, ethically speaking, am I morally justified in despising humanity as a whole? Epistemologically, after all, it is said that "morals are about (human) survival and reproduction and have nothing to do with moral truth." Meaning we've failed the critical test? And that, if so, would seem to warrant as more than just opinion my both 'misanthropic' and generalized loathing of all of humanity. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-epistemology/

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    What does (all the) despising do? Dec 26, 2022 at 19:40
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    If you walk the planet despising everyone you meet, that's a personal psychological problem.
    – user4894
    Dec 26, 2022 at 22:23
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    Theoretician, despise yourself.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 27, 2022 at 0:47
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    Can you step back and explain 'I am referring… to the existential crisis of global warming'? Either way, how did '…of course…' come into that, please? Dec 27, 2022 at 1:27
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    Perhaps it would be wise to consider what moral justification there is for self-righteousness. Dec 27, 2022 at 6:01

8 Answers 8


Isn't it interesting that every "solution" offered to global warming involves massive expansion of government and extension of government powers?

The very worst predictions of warmistas are that ocean levels will rise about 30cm per century, and severe storms will be more frequent.

The IPCC suggests something in the range of about a relative 10% reduction of GDP by the year 2100, depending on which model you use. However, this is in a background of GDP increasing in absolute terms over the same time, such that global warming would reduce the GDP relative to what it might have been, not in absolute terms. Within the next 78 years, nearly every country will be much richer than it is now, just not as rich as it could be.

Deaths from climate have dropped steeply over the last century. How can it be? Being in a rich country allows a drastically superior response to any climate problem such as drought, flood, storm, etc. Indeed, being in a country that neighbors a rich country also allows significantly superior response, since your neighbor is likely to want to help just to keep the damage from spilling over the border.

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This is manifestly not a crisis involving the potential ceasing to exist of the human race. It might be pretty annoying, but end humans it will not.

There is another meaning of existential crisis and that sure seems to apply.

In psychology and psychotherapy, existential crises are inner conflicts characterized by the impression that life lacks meaning. Some authors also emphasize confusion about one's personal identity in their definition. Existential crises are accompanied by anxiety and stress, often to such a degree that they disturb one's normal functioning in everyday life and lead to depression.

Consider, as an archetype, Greta Thunberg.

How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight. [...] You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that.

A teenager has had her personality constructed around the species-extinction-urgency of political action. And when this is challenged, it makes her sad and angry. Well, yes, that is what an existential crisis produces.

And of course she is powerless to do anything about it. She did not create her personality. She is clearly manipulated by her parents and teachers and politicians. They want the political changes for the sake of the political changes themselves.

But the people who created this crisis, they deserve to be despised. What they did was child abuse. The more acutely so on an autistic child.

And what large numbers of epistemological comprachicos are doing to millions of school children the world over is exactly the same thing. It is child abuse. They are deliberately and overtly preventing children from having the ability to think about these issues in a rational manner. They are training up armies of foot-soldiers to demand the political changes becuase they want the political changes. And they seriously deserve to be despised.

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    Probably not very reasonable to cherry-pick a single metric and build an entire narrative around that, while throwing a lot of insulting assertions towards a teenager, and accusations of lying towards most of the scientific community. It would be much more reasonable to look at all the data, and at what scientists are actually saying. Although if you've already concluded that scientists are lying, I don't expect any amount of evidence they could produce (in addition to everything they have already produced) would be able to convince you.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 28, 2022 at 2:17
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    @NotThatGuy So the question is: "Will climate change end humanity?" And your claim is that data about climate deaths over the last century, during which we saw roughly 1°C global warming, is "cherry picking." OK then.
    – BillOnne
    Dec 28, 2022 at 20:47
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    @BillOnne "So the question is: 'Will climate change end humanity?'" - did someone say "strawman"? If you have listened to any scientist or pro-science person ever, you'd know it's more a question of whether billions will suffer and die (but I guess that's just "annoying" for you?). Also, your argument is about as compelling and rational as someone saying "well, the mortality rate of car accidents at 20 MPH has historically decreased, so raising the legal speed limit to 200 MPH is fine, because car accidents at 200 MPH is also nothing to worry about". That's not how thinking works.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 28, 2022 at 21:38
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    @ScottRowe Despite is not always justified. But when an innocent is destructively manipulated to achieve dubious goals, it is a valid consideration.
    – BillOnne
    Dec 29, 2022 at 23:36
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    @NotThatGuy here in Germany we do not have a speed limit on the Autobahn, limiting it to 200mph seems quite harsh and would make you lose the next elections (even though people discuss CO2). Once I researched how traffic deaths/ accidents in Germany actually compare to other countries, precisely to see the effect of the lack of a speed limit. I could not find any differences to say France (speed limit 130km/h) or the US. So.. it's actually nothing to worry about :)
    – Apfelsaft
    Dec 31, 2022 at 11:22

A couple of issues:

Am I morally justified in despising humanity as a whole?

Presuming that not everyone takes the stance you despise, it would seem unreasonable to despise the whole of humanity. It may constitute a fallacy of composition.

You touch upon another issue with:

...after all, it is said that "morals are about (human) survival and reproduction and have nothing to do with moral truth."

If you consider human behaviour from a purely evolutionary perspective (particularly if you subscribe to - or allow for the possibility of - causal determinism (even if modified by quantum randomness) - then it is difficult to criticise people who have arrived at different beliefs to those you hold dear. Even if you take the stance (and I make no such assertion here) that a person who fails to acknowledge the ramifications of human-induced climate change is 'stupid' or 'pathetic'; then to despise such a person would seem unreasonable if they have no control over the beliefs they hold, or their level of intelligence.

A person is either convinced of a proposition or they are unconvinced. If a person has not encountered information which is needed to convince them, can they be held responsible? If they have been taught to prioritise bad information over sound information, poor sources over reputable sources, can they be blamed for their beliefs?

To despise someone's ideas and or behaviour is reasonable, especially when those ideas or behaviour lead to the harm of others, but to despise the person implies judgement of an individual that - for all we know - has very little if any control over the attitudes they hold or the actions they perpetrate.

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    "..an individual that - for all we know - has very little if any control over the attitudes they hold or the actions they perpetrate" this is quite far from what we know about people and how they do seem to have control over their lives to a considerable extent at least as far as certain actions are concerned
    – Nikos M.
    Dec 26, 2022 at 13:24
  • I acknowledge that is a common view, but I - and many real philosophers (I'm not one) - don't believe in libertarian free will and tend to sandwich notions of free will into the compatabilistic viewpoint. There was even a survey conducted about this which supports this claim. See here. Dec 26, 2022 at 13:28
  • Maybe true that many philosophers have this view, but our reality is far more important than a theory which cannot explain why we have this reality and not one compatible with the theory they subscribe to.
    – Nikos M.
    Dec 26, 2022 at 13:38
  • On the contrary. Theories against free will are very well articulated. As an intro, read SEP's entries on Causal Determinism and Do We Have Free Will?. It is a far from non-controversial topic, but to assert that theories against free will cannot explain why we might experience an illusory reality is unfair. It is also bold to assert that trained philosophers who have likely thought about the issue far more than most might be naive and lack a 'truer' 'commonsense' view. Dec 26, 2022 at 13:43
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    Agreed. We already use a sort of deterministic thinking to analyse why offenders offend, not merely as a justification for the mitigation of sentencing, but in order to try to implement preventative social strategies. But these efforts could of course be greatly enhanced (in 1st world countries, let alone 3rd world). As for the discussion ending up with what 'is really the case' though, do you mean that it ends up with an acknowledgement that we don't know what the case really is yet? Dec 27, 2022 at 11:11

In essence, no, you should not despise people that can truely not save themselves.

What you can dislike morally is they not saving themselves if they can. As in not want to save themselves, not putting enough or any effort in saving themselves.

Its considered one's right that other people around are clean enough to not look or smell bad. You cannot stay comfortable for more than a minute or two with your eyes closed, and you cannot comfortably hold your breath for longer than that. The onus is on other people to look clean and smell good or nuetral, not on you.

Now consider someone that has skin infection or wound that is smelling. You would obviously not like that. If the person is not responsible for the smell - the disease affect him without his consent, the wound may be from a just war he fought in - then you cannot morally hate the occurance of the smell itself. You may object on why he is there, why he not stay in home till he recover. But if that place is something he have to be in, say its a doctor's clinic or a food bank he cannot avoid to visit, then he is not taking away anything from you. Therefore, your dislikeness / hate / objection will be immoral.

People dont like those who needlessly hurt themselves or are not careful about their own well-being. Why? Its said they are not hurting anybody but they are. Humans have built-in sympathy. Seeing other suffer hurt us emotionally and psychologically. As long as we come to know about their sufferings, and their sufferings are avoidable and/or self-inflicted we have some level of hate for them. They are taking away our peace.

Another example is an ugly or old woman or man who is half naked in public. No, its not her or his right to wear whatever she or he want in public. Its because its a public place, people when see you get hurt. Be as much naked as you want in privacy of your home, nobody will object that.

  • It is also true that people who needlessly waste resources or do things which cause others to waste resources to save them are considered culpable. No one exists solely by their own effort, resources are shared.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 27, 2022 at 0:58
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    People who waste resources will almost always be hated by other people. The "almost" part is there because if resources are abundant and easy to get then people may not care. For example you breath slowly or heavily nobody cares about wasting of air, unless you are somewhere where air is scarce. Right now there is only one truely abundant resource, its sea water. Waste it as much as you want. We all are in a planet which is small when compared to how much we can waste and get happy to waste whenever our population is greater than a million and even then there can be local scarcity.
    – Atif
    Dec 27, 2022 at 3:05

"Despise" is not a moral position nor conclusion of an argument (unless also implied by its premises). It's an emotion, i.e. what you feel, not what you think.

So no, you wouldn't be morally or rationally justified in despising humanity just because we may ultimately be doomed, because emotion isn't generally morally or rationally justifiable.

Now of course one might discuss the utility of emotion and whether we should try to evoke or repress certain emotions due to their utility. I'm personally of the opinion that despising anyone or anything does little more than harm your own mental health. But this is getting a bit far from the question of morality with regard to humanity's ultimate fate.

Since there isn't much to say if we consider "despise" specifically, I'll try to address the closest related questions that can actually be rationally discussed.

Do humans have any moral value if they're ultimately doomed?

I would say the answer is somewhat trivially "yes", because humans experience pleasure and suffering, and creating pleasure and minimising suffering are "good" because we as moral agents want maximal pleasure and minimal suffering in our lives, and want others to aid in that goal. This applies regardless of whether a meteor will strike Earth within a few minutes and kill all of humanity, or whether we'll still survive for billions of years.

Note that evolution (the part of this you quoted) explains where morals come from, i.e. why we feel the way we do towards other and helping others. It does not have anything to say about how we "should" act (it says how things are, not how they should be). If you want to get some "should" from that, one might say one should try to maximise the chances of human survival, and the duration and quality of said survival, which is certainly at the core of the fight against climate change. But there are other moral frameworks too.

Was it "wrong" for people of the past to not act against climate change?

Probably, to varying degrees.

Does doing something "wrong" strip someone of all their moral value?

I might say it reduces their moral value depending on their intent. Someone who burnt fossil fuels just because they enjoyed the thought of others suffering as a result, is obviously a worse person than someone who drove because that was the only option to get to their job to feed their family.

But it seems like a very extreme position to say burning fossil fuels (regardless of intent) would strip someone of all moral value, as one might infer from this question.

(I don't think anyone would ever be stripped of all moral value, and this should be the case even if you believe in the death penalty - even people are death row are still afforded some decency and respect, if only because we don't want to treat others poorly, or live in a society where people are treated poorly.)

Does the wrong-doing of a few individuals strip all humans of all their moral value?

Given the above, it's probably unsurprising that I think the answer to this question is also "no".

Beyond that, holding one person responsible for the wrong-doing of another is generally seen as unjust. Not all people support burning fossil fuels. In fact, in the modern day, there are quite a lot of people fighting against it. Those people aren't to blame for the actions of the people who don't fight against it.

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    I would say that a moral framework which does not maximize survival and quality of life is self-defeating. If it is self-defeating, then it can't really be called a moral framework. I think you really can get an ought from an is, by choosing what will work instead of what will not. But then, I'm an engineer.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 27, 2022 at 0:53
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    @ScottRowe All members of a species following some moral framework might lead to their ultimate demise, but why is that something they "should" care about? Some might feel that humans ultimately do more harm or experience more suffering than joy (as per some variants of antinatalism, I believe). Some might believe some invisible being is telling them what to do. Some might just be selfish. Survival is just something we are predisposed to believe is important (and similarly for quality of life, due to empathy).
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 27, 2022 at 2:55
  • Some things work and others do not. Things that don't work get eliminated. I have this sense that humans can choose their survival path, because we have so far. But if I am a member of a species that is not smart enough to survive, there's not much I can do about it. Whoever does exist in the future will be making the choices, and the less effective ones will be at an end. It seems like something to care about.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 27, 2022 at 11:02
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    Whether we have a conscious motivation to survive is really beside the point, for we are instinct-driven to at least try to, anyway (if I've got my Darwin down pat). Or one would plausibly think. Judging by our present not-so-collective behavior, however, I'd have to say the jury is out. And that raises disturbing questions about the nature of modern society even as the hour of reckoning draws nigh. Without a single (moral) framework to guide us both our future outlooks appear dim, as the conformist ant might say to a member of the schismatic ants who are dead set on breaking up the colony. Dec 27, 2022 at 11:27
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    @StephenWaterhouse Our primal understanding of existential treats is not much more complex than "lion = bad". Ok, it's a little more complex than that, but we don't have an instinctive drive to deal with a problem on the scale of climate change, in the same way that we have one to deal with predators. It's something we need to reason our way into, and most people aren't all that good at doing that.
    – NotThatGuy
    Dec 28, 2022 at 1:59

The basic question is "should we despise people for some reason?"

Really does despising someone remedies any situation or problem? The answer is no. Despising by itself does not solve any problem. Well, this is not entirely correct. Despising has some psychological value for us in the sense that it is the expression of hurt feelings that somehow need to be expressed.

So in the above sense, despising has some value for our feelings rather than remedy an actual situation. But this psychological function can be satisfied through other means as well. For example, through constructive and positive feelings instead of negative ones and which most likely have more apt results as well.

So people act foolishly and destroy our planet. What will help correct the situation: despising them or taking positive action and providing good examples and educating them?

I stand for the second

BTW yes despising someone in the sense that it is a psychological function that serves some purpose is a valid feeling, bur it is useless in the long run.


I don't want to get into the weeds of discussing the hypothesis of CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) so I'll just answer your overarching question about despising a group that lacks the characteristics required to survive in the long-term. One could certainly view a species in evolutionary terms and make a diagnosis of whether or not they have the characteristics to survive as a species in the long-term. If you conclude that they cannot, you could reasonably regard this as a fatal flaw in that species and then make a corresponding normative conclusion that this species is defective; a fortiori if their own behaviours and actions tend to bring about their extinction.

In principle, it is possible that the nature of human beings is such that we will end up extinguishing ourselves entirely through some means (e.g., through nuclear war, below-replacement birth rates, etc.) and if that is the case then you could reasonably say that we are a defective species. As you allude to, sensible moral theories seek to achieve some form of long-term prosperity, so if our species leads itself to extinction then that is a failure relative to this standard. As to whether it is then appropriate to despise this species and its members, that will depend on your underlying normative philosophy and your assessment of the relationship between the individual and the group. Assessing people in individual terms, one might take the view that even if humanity extinguishes itself, many individual humans still got to have a good life before this happened and so they succeeded (to some limited degree) in moral terms. Assessing the species as a whole, self-drive to extinction is clearly a failure and warrants a negative normative evaluation of the species. So as you can see, a negative evaluation of the whole does not imply a negative evaluation of the individual parts (i.e., don't commit the fallacy of composition).

In regard to this issue, it is worth noting a tension that occurs in despising an alleged tendency of humanity to lead itself to extinction. If one despises humanity for its own alleged tendency to self-extinction, this suggests an underlying positive evaluation of humans --- otherwise why would you want them to live and why despair at their extinction? Here it may be that the evaluator compares the actual behaviour/activities of man to what we "could have been" and makes a negative conclusion about mankind relative to its potential. This is what can cause love to turn to despair, which then turns to hate. Ask yourself if you really want to go down this track.


Clearly questions like this are largely a matter of opinion, as there is no gold standard for what is a fair justification for feeling a particular emotion. That said, I suggest you consider the following when reflecting on your feelings...

Humans are fallible in many ways. An unwillingness to confront climate change is not the only example of how humans bring about personal or collective self-harm. Consider the person who eats much, exercises little and shortens their life by becoming obese. The alcoholic who dies early of liver failure. The reckless driver who dies in a crash. The husband who ruins his family life for the sake of an impulsive affair. With a few moments thought you can surely imagine other examples of how people can 'fail to save themselves'.

But the short list I compiled contains only the kinds of clear-cut cases where most people would view the outcome as tragic in a way. Let us cloud the issue by considering what we mean by 'save' themselves. Save themselves from what? Who is the judge of what outcome constitutes a failure to have saved oneself? Perhaps the alcoholic preferred to life a short life in mentally benumbed state than a longer life confronting reality. Perhaps the husband thought the affair was worth the risk.

A certain type of person might consider you to be guilty of being unable to save yourself from wasting your life contemplating pointless philosophical questions.

You also have to bear in mind that many people may be genuinely unaware of the causes and remedies of a particular fate, such as climate change, or have no practical option to avoid the former and embrace the latter. Is it fair to despise them for being unable to do anything about a particular outcome?

  • Your first examples are individual and affect a few people. Global warming involves everyone and affects everyone, so individual failure contributes directly to the systemic failure, in the same way that individual choices to break the law undermine society. So it matters more. It's more important that people live together well than that their own lives go well. They benefitted from past people's contributions and they affect future lives. It's more urgent. Someone with some power needs to correct the situation. Technology has solved most of our problems so far, so it seems the only option.
    – Scott Rowe
    Dec 29, 2022 at 13:47

Morals are not universal, and generally they are embedded in a religious background. Even Kant's Categorical Imperative can be challenged as not purely logically based but instead having its roots in Christianity. Hence asking for universal moral justifications will become difficult.

Independent of morale, as has been established by the other answers, despising will not advance things. Despising humanity as a whole seems inadequate since we do not all reason and act identically.

Salvation is not much of a problem. In a physical world, there is certainly no "test of humanity in the grand scheme of things", so there is nothing to fail in the first place. Secondly, it is unlikely that human induced climate change will wipe out humanity. In a religious context, there may be "tests for humanity", yet salvation works however the dogma defines it.


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