I was talking about slavery recently and it got me thinking about morality and how it changes and evolves. A couple of hundred years ago it was fairly widely accepted that slavery was okay, that black people were obviously inferior, etc - and whilst no doubt some still think that way, society as a whole now looks on that as repellant. Nothing unusual about that, standards evolve and all that.
But it got me wondering, what might society in 2200 think when they look back at us? Are there everyday things we take for granted that they will find morally repellant? It seems obvious that there will be, but what?
Of course we can only really speculate and guess, and I'm more interested in what people's guesses might be than in trying to make accurate prophecy.
One guess I would make is that extreme poverty will be more or less gone, and the idea that it was allowed to exist at all will be incomprehensible. According to wikipedia, the percentage of the world living in extreme poverty has halved
in just the last thirty years. There will always be poor, I think, but I suspect the images of whole countries where most of the people live in absolute grinding starve-to-death poverty will be gone. And after a century or more of that, people will find it bizzare that anybody could ever think it was normal for things to be that way.
Another guess is that democracy will be the standard form of government and other systems will be regarded as immoral. There may still be places like the UK which have elements of monarchies or whatever, and perhaps the odd dictatorship will arise, briefly, here or there. But people will look at such things the way we looked at the likes of apartheid; a non democratic country will be a pariah, despised by other nations.
I wonder if pollution sill be seen as fundamentally immoral. We've already gone down this road to a degree, but given that our descendants will have to live in our mess to an extent, I suspect they will be very puritanical about it. Mind you, I think a lot of environmentalism is overblown nonsense myself. But there clearly are environmental issues, and it's the kind of thing I could see becoming so ingrained that it's just part of the moral landscape.
Any other suggestions?
Give a man a fire, and you keep him warm for a day. SET a man on fire, and you will keep him warm for the rest of his life...