Thursday, October 30, 2008

On Morality, "Should," and Murder

The “Should Trap” and How we Ought to Behave

I've frequently mentioned the trap hidden in the word, “should.” It's time now for us to look at exactly what the word means, what it doesn't mean, and how a good understanding of these things will allow us to understand how humans form concepts of morality. We'll soon see that everything from what we should eat for dinner to who we should vote for in the upcoming election to whether or not we should have children or adopt – all of these questions become much easier to answer when we realize exactly what we're asking.

Like so many words in the English language, “should” has multiple meanings. “Should I decide to get married, I will do so in a courtroom, not a church,” is one possible usage. This is a relatively uncommon usage. It essentially means, “If I decide to get married.” Another usage involves probability. “The Patriots should win the Superbowl next year.” We're saying that we believe the Patriots are more than 50/50 favorites to win the Superbowl. We can also use it as a way to blunt or soften an otherwise harsh statement, as in “I should think that it's a bad idea to drive in your condition.”

All of these usages are irrelevant to the topic at hand. We are going to be using the word as expressing a sense of obligation or necessity: “You should go to the bathroom before we leave the house.” If you think about this statement for a moment, you realize an essential part of any sentence using the word with this meaning. There is an unspoken, yet implicitly understood, phrase at the end of it: “You should go to the bathroom before we leave the house IF you don't want us to have to stop at a gas station on the way.” Of course, there may be other equally valid phrases – “IF we're going to make it on time,” for instance. Stopping at a gas station takes longer than walking to the bathroom now, and we're in a rush.

Any statement about what we should do is really an IF-THEN statement, or a contingency. In other words, a certain outcome is contingent upon us doing a certain thing. “You should temper the milk before adding it to your hot pan, IF you don't want the sauce to curdle.” There are different ways of expressing contingency. The word must is stronger than should. “You must keep your speed under sixty-five miles per hour if you are to obey the law.” There is no wiggle room in this statement. If we exceed sixty-five, we will be breaking the law, regardless of whether or not we are caught. On the other hand, we should drive under seventy if we don't want to run an excessive risk of being pulled over in a sixty-five zone. We know that the chances of being pulled over are very slim if we maintain a speed of five miles per hour over, but it's not certain.

This all seems very simple, but we are talking about relatively uncontroversial topics. Let's talk now about something from the opposite end of the spectrum. Should abortion be legal? If you are like the majority of people, you have a strong opinion on this question, but let's make sure that our opinion is based on an accurate and well constructed contingency. We need to be able to construct a sentence in the following form: “Abortion should be legal if X is to occur.” The letter “X” represents some outcome on which the legality of abortion is contingent. Perhaps we can make a statement with more certainty by saying that abortion must be legal. Let's look at some possible sentences.

Many abortion rights activists say that abortion should be legal because women have the right to make their own choices about their bodies. To rephrase it as a contingency, we will say that IF women are to have reproductive control over their own bodies, THEN abortion should be legal. Others use a different approach. IF we are to reduce the number of deformed, chemically addicted, unwanted, or severely retarded babies, THEN abortion should be legal. There are many more arguments, and I'm sure that astute readers have already begun to dissect and critique the ones I've made based on their own opinions. I do not intend to answer this question, so forgive me for not listing every possible contingency statement.

What about abortion opponents? Probably the most common statement has to do with the sanctity of human life. IF we are to respect the rights of the unborn, THEN abortion should be illegal. IF a fetus is a human, THEN it should have all the rights of a human. Again, depending on your own view, you've probably raised your eyebrow at something inherent in these statements. When we talk about critical thinking, debate, and evidence, we'll dig deeper into this kind of complicated question, but for now, I want you to see that regardless of the peripheral issues, each side of the abortion debate is creating their own contingency statement, and it's based on what they believe to be a good outcome. For abortion rights advocates, they envision a society where individual adults have as much freedom of choice as possible. For opponents, society would give equal legal rights to the unborn and the born, restricting freedom of choice to gain legal recognition of the sanctity of human life.

A Taste for Something Sweet

Now that we've looked at two very opposite questions, let's try to establish how we can start from scratch, with nothing but our knowledge of human nature, and develop a working model of what we should or should not do. We'll use something that's pretty much universal, and also very well understood – the sweet tooth.

Why is a taste for sweet food pretty much universal to humans? Across all cultures, humans crave sugar in some way or another. Not only that, but our taste develops well before we can learn it culturally. It is clearly a biological constant among humans, but why is this? To answer this question, we must remember that human nature is nothing more than a reflection of the evolutionary forces that created us. If we crave sweets, then there's a good evolutionary reason for it. Also, we must remember that the agricultural revolution happened so recently in our evolutionary past that we are, for all intents and purposes, post-industrial humans with pre-agricultural brains. We have the same instincts and emotions as we did forty or fifty thousand years ago when we were hunting and gathering in small tribal groups of twenty to perhaps two hundred.

As we look across the animal kingdom, we realize that natural selection has 'learned' to encourage beneficial behavior. In even the most unintelligent species, we recognize something in common with humans. That is, the experience of both pain and pleasure. Things that are painful are generally avoided, and things that are pleasurable are generally sought out. Pain and pleasure are nature's way of getting us to do what is best for us while avoiding that which is harmful. It's obviously not a perfect system, but we must remember that natural selection is not concerned with the individual. It is diversity which makes a species adaptable and likely to survive, but diversity is a double edged sword. By creating lots of highly varied individuals, natural selection has made things very bad for some and very good for others. Nature is an amazingly complex system, and the 'rules' of pain and pleasure are general guidelines that tend to benefit the entire species – not each individual. We must always remember this humbling truth. Natural selection could care less about you or me. We are both little more than genetic dice rolls in a much larger game.

Now, with a little educated guesswork, we can come up with the correct answer to the sugar question, an answer which science has verified. In nature, things that taste sweet are ripe. More than that, very few naturally poisonous substances are sweet. So, as man was evolving, the members of the species that ate more ripe fruit and avoided poisons became the best nourished, and consequently, the most reproductively successful. Within perhaps ten or twenty thousand generations, those humans who tended to eat poisonous food died out, leaving virtually all of humanity in possession of a sweet tooth. The species had evolved an adaptive trait that made it more successful.

Pre-agricultural man had two principle pursuits in life. He wanted to avoid starvation, and he wanted to reproduce. The former was usually critical to the latter, so food gathering was probably the most common activity for our ancestors. Most fruits that our ancestors would have eaten were under 10% sugar. Not only that, fruits are almost all more than 80% water, and contain fiber and important nutrients. If you think for a moment about the natural growing season of most fruits, you will realize that the average human would have had very few opportunities to get fruit, and consequently, sugar. It would have been terribly important to get the accompanying nutrients whenever possible. Sugar was an indicator of foods that were high in nutrients. Not surprisingly, our sweet tooth is one of our strongest taste cravings.

As a result of this adaptation, we in the post-industrial world crave sweets, and enjoy them when we get them. There's a big difference, though. Post-industrial man has something that pre-agricultural man did not – processed sugar. We have learned to farm beets and sugar cane, and aided by advanced tools, to extract the pure sugar. We can use it to flavor everything from barbecue sauce to tiramisu to cough syrup to coffee. We can get sugar year round.

There's another adaptation we must consider. Our ancestors had to catch pretty much any protein they were going to consume. Protein came primarily from animals, and most of the animals we lived with were faster than us. To put it simply, it cost us a lot of calories to catch and kill our dinner. In addition, we were very seldom certain that we would find a meal tomorrow, or the day after. Food for us, like every other creature, was a hit and miss proposition. To that end, we developed a propensity for gorging. If there was a dead antelope by the fire, we consumed not just enough to sate our hunger, but as much as we possibly could, for that stored fat energy might well be the difference between a successful hunt in a week. It could literally be the difference between life and death.

By now, you've probably anticipated where I'm going with this. Very few humans expend energy in catching their food anymore. Not only that, but we get to eat our fill every day, and we add pure sugar to a large percentage of our food items. Our natural desire to gorge ourselves only compounds the problem.

According to the 2008 stat sheet from the American Heart Association, more than 9 million children under 19 years old are overweight. Nearly 14 percent of preschool children are overweight. Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of remaining overweight as adults. Obesity increases as we reach adulthood. Among women between 30 and 40 years old, 34 percent are overweight. The link between obesity and myriad health problems is so well documented as to be incontrovertible.

The problem isn't just sugar. We also crave fat, for obvious reasons. Fat is one of the best ways to store energy in the body. Stored energy was crucial to our ancestors, but it is literally death to us today. Salt was an extremely precious commodity well into the modern human era. Today, it is available for a nickel a box at the supermarket, and is added to virtually everything we cook. Our ancient instincts have turned on us, and we are eating ourselves to death. Potato chips, candy, Big Macs, cheesecake, and All-You-Can-Eat Buffets are slowly and consistently killing us.

How does this relate back to our discussion of the word should? Very clearly, as it turns out. Remember, in order to make a statement about what we should do, we must provide an outcome. The chain is quite clear. Salt, sugar, and fat are clearly important to the human diet, but with science, we have identified clear dangers to our health that result from consuming too much of any of them. We can say with scientific certainty that IF we wish to increase our chance of being healthy and living for a long time, we SHOULD take special care to monitor our intake of calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

How much should we monitor our diets? Again, the answer depends on our goals. If we wish to give ourselves the maximum chance of a very long life, we will have a lot of work ahead of us, because very few foods today are designed with that goal in mind. We must balance our desire for a long and healthy life with the time constraints of our work and leisure time, as well as our income (eating a maximally healthy diet is much more expensive!) and ultimately, the amount of pleasure we are willing to sacrifice today for the goal of living a long life.

Here, we get a sneak peek at the conclusion of this line of inquiry. If we see that, say, 90% of the food industry produces food that is less than optimally healthy, should we all become full time activists, trying to change the way food is produced worldwide? Optimal food production is clearly a reasonable goal, if we believe healthy eating is the most important thing to aim towards. If we think about this for a second, though, we will realize that it's absurd to suggest that everyone in the world do such a thing. Clearly, the conception of absolute normatives (“should” statements) is on shaky ground. If everyone works toward food production, where will everyone live? Who will run the police departments? Who will study energy sources for the future? There are many, many competing goals in the world, all of them with their own merits.

But Isn't There More To It?

Sugar craving is something virtually all humans do. It's part of our nature. As such, it's a great example for illustrating several common misunderstandings of what morality is. The first, and the most obvious, is the appeal to nature. As we have clearly demonstrated, all of our natural inclinations are not inherently good for us. Remember, our sweet tooth is something that benefited our species at a time when we desperately needed it. Today, indiscriminate indulgence of that which feels natural is the equivalent of signing our own death warrant, at least when it comes to food.

We can also see the beginnings of another fallacy, the false dichotomy. Many moralists will argue that a certain moral issue is black or white, wrong or right. By looking at the natural, healthy consumption of fat, sugar, and salt, and comparing it with unmoderated consumption of all three, we can see that there are an almost unlimited number of positions along the middle ground. If it can be scientifically demonstrated (and it can) that a diet of say, five percent excess fat, sugar, and salt will have a minimal effect on our health, particularly if we counteract the effect to some degree with exercise, how can we say that based solely on health and longevity, it's wrong to consume such a diet?

Here, we see another error lurking just around the corner. Is our diet truly based solely on our own health? If we eat our fill, will someone else starve? Is it cruel to eat foix gras? If raising enough of a certain crop to sate our national appetite causes us to harm the environment, is that morally wrong? Is it actually justifiable to say that everyone in the world should always eat as healthy as possible? If someone is dying of cancer, for instance, should they still adhere to eating practices that will never be a benefit to them? These are all questions that need answers, and in each case, we can use science and a proper understanding of the word “should” to find answers.

In less enlightened times, philosophers decided that animals were simply automatons, put on earth to perfectly mimic life, which only human beings had, because only humans had souls. As a result of this scientific inaccuracy, it was considered acceptable to nail a living dog to a plank by its feet and cut it open while it was still alive to see how it worked. Today, through the critical lens of science, we know that dogs do indeed feel pain. We have come to the conclusion that such research is morally wrong. At the risk of overgeneralizing, I will hazard a guess that virtually every sane person on the planet would agree that nailing dogs to planks and cutting them open while alive is wrong.

Why is this, though? If we can find an evolutionary explanation for our sweet tooth, and find a middle ground, can we also examine the mutilation of living animals? Why do humans cringe at the sight of other humans in pain? Why would we do the same for dogs, when they are not members of our own species? Why can some people wring the neck of a chicken, cook it, and eat it for dinner, while other people become sick to their stomach at the sight of a steak?

Our ability to recognize pain in others, and our aversion to seeing it, is rooted in our social nature. Remember that our ancestors lived in small tribal groups, and were probably all closely related. They also depended upon each other for their survival. If the group weakened, the chance of each individual to survive lessened. Those of our ancestors who developed a negative response to pain in their kin were more likely to try to help prevent or alleviate this pain. When everyone in the tribe had this tendency, a sort of mutual protection pact resulted, even though it would be millenia before such a thing would ever be written down.

Why, then, do we fight wars? Why do soldiers experience excitement, jubilation, and even sexual pleasure when they take the life of an enemy soldier, or worse, an enemy civilian? Again, the answer lies in our genes. To the eyes of natural selection, the tribe is almost like an organism itself. Each member, like an individual cell in a large organism, contributes to the survival of the whole. As we've seen previously, natural selection is driven by several competitive forces – interspecies, intraspecies, parasitic, and environmental. The superorganism, that is, the tribe, is at a state of relative equilibrium, competing within itself for mating, power, and social status, but the ultimate goal is the survival of the tribe. With limited resources in any patch of land, the encroachment of another tribe meant the threat of death by starvation. Those of our ancestors who were instinctively driven to drive off or kill members of other tribes were able to protect their own resources, ensuring survival of the tribe.

Remember that pleasure is nature's way of encouraging a behavior, and pain is its way of discouraging it. Also remember that our brains are the same today as they were in the days when a small grove of fruit trees might be the difference between survival and starvation. Cooperative pacts and international treaties were simply not possible because there were neither the resources, the language, or the advanced abstract thought necessary to conceptualize such things. Like all the other animals who lived in small social groups, the choice was clear. Either drive the competitors away, kill them, or die.

Ancient humans, then, developed what seems to us to be a contradictory nature. They were appalled at pain experienced by their 'fellow man,' and delighted with pain inflicted on 'the enemy.' Once we understand that these feelings are normal, natural, and instinctive, we can begin to look at the question of murder in the same way that we approached the question of sugar intake. We can recognize that in a post-industrial world, our instinctive desires are not necessarily to our advantage. We can look at the real, scientific picture of what the world is, and make decisions about what our laws should be, and what our own actions should be, based on our goals. In other words, we can say, IF we want a society that accomplishes X, then we SHOULD or MUST have Y laws about killing other human beings.

But what about animals? Why do we feel empathy and sorrow for animals when they are clearly not part of our tribe? The answers to this would take a great deal of space to adequately explain, but if you think about a few of our instinctive traits, you can probably understand at least some of the reasons. Humans have instinctive nurturing tendencies. All humans, and especially women, and even more so, mothers, naturally feel nurturing instincts towards our babies. This isn't a uniquely human trait, of course. All animals that nurture their young feel some degree of the same thing. In nature, something that works for one species often works for another species. Human babies have fat cheeks, big eyes, and big heads. These traits are common in many baby animals, not just humans. In fact, many adult animals appear to humans to have baby like qualities.

Additionally, humans do not experience feelings of animosity towards things that are not a threat. Notice that the things we find most cute in the animal kingdom are those that very seldom kill humans – baby seals, for instance. Where we see things that resemble humans, and we perceive no threat, our other instinct, nurture, can kick in. This tendency varies widely among individuals, which explains why humans have invented both cock fighting and PETA.

Next, consider that animals benefit from not being killed by humans. We cannot overstate the complexity of natural selection. Notice that humans have driven whales to the brink of extinction, and we don't find them particularly adorable. Dogs and cats, on the other hand, are nearly ubiquitous in our society, and we think they're very cute. Animals that are unlikely to inspire animosity or a killing instinct in other potential predators have a much greater survival capacity than those that do. Humans are part of the ecosystem, and as such, we've been at least a partial cause of selective pressure on other species for our entire history!

Finally, think about fishermen. Recreational fishermen put sharp hooks through the mouths of fish, and then let them freeze to death in a cooler, all with a calm, removed demeanor, and almost nobody on the planet protests. The observation that humans feel empathy towards animals is highly subject to bias. We feel empathy for some animals, and indiscriminately kill others. Our moral outrage varies tremendously with regard to other life forms. We have no problem killing rats by the million, but killing a hamster from the pet store is considered immoral. Once again, the quest for an absolute answer to the question of morality looks to be on thin ice.

Ok, So What's The Right Answer?

We've talked about sugar, and it's fairly clear that there's no single right answer. We've talked about animals and witnessed our own bias when it comes to moral outrage. Nevertheless, murder is in a special category, right? It's human life we're talking about, after all. So, what is the correct moral law with regard to murder? Are we ready to say with certainty that we shouldn't kill at all, or that we should only kill for certain offenses, or that war is never the answer? Can we finally answer the question of what morality is, with only science as our guide?

If you are asking this question, then you are forgetting a couple of fundamental truths about natural selection. First, you're forgetting that diversity is the biggest strength of natural selection. Second, natural selection is not concerned with the individual. It is concerned with the species. If we're still expecting a single answer to a question of morality, we must be getting that expectation from somewhere, but it's not science. All of the evidence points to a dynamic and changing relationship between members of a species, between different species, and species and their environment. If anything is constant in nature, it is that nothing is constant. Many, if not most, highly socialized creatures are known to commit murder in some form or another, whether it's infanticide, inter-tribal warfare, or intraspecies competition over territory or mates.

If you find yourself insisting that there has to be an answer to the ultimate question of morality, where are you getting this idea? What scientific theory led you to believe such a thing exists? If you can't think of one, perhaps the idea came from elsewhere. Maybe it's the idea that humans are better than, or higher, than the animals. We've already seen that this is not so. We are very smart products of evolution, but we are products of evolution, and nothing more. Maybe it's the idea that we can rise above our nature and use our brains to end suffering for everybody. While this sounds noble, we must ask what the justification is for wanting this. Once we offer our justification, we must realize that someone else can offer an equally reasonable goal for humanity which does not include the eradication of all suffering or rising above killing. For instance, one might point out that without suffering and death, humans will literally multiply exponentially, and will probably destroy our habitat, and we may all die. Though we can't be one hundred percent certain of this, there are extraordinarily strong indications that this is true.

In good science, the researcher usually expects a certain answer from his experiments. This is because he's formed a hypothesis based on what he's observed. The experiment is a way of either verifying or falsifying his educated guess. The good scientist will recognize that both results are possible, and will be prepared to accept either. Though he may be disappointed with the findings, his ultimate goal is discovering the truth of reality, not ensuring the correctness of his own guess.

Likewise, when we approach the question of morality, we must be prepared for what science tells us. When we look at the life on earth, we see everywhere the undeniable proof that competition is what drives natural selection. We see that life and death are part of reality, and that there is no such thing as an eternal environment. Things change for individuals within a species, for the species itself, and for the competitors outside of the species. As much as we might want to believe in a reality where any taking of human life is morally wrong, we must, if we are to search for truth, realize that this does not, and cannot exist.

The first reason such a reality cannot exist is the very obvious fact that competition often involves directly conflicting goals, both of which have their own legitimate justification based on facts. If I am to protect my children, I must kill the man who intends to kill them. If I am to preserve the sanctity of every human life, I must hold my trigger finger, even though the man who is trying to kill my children can only be stopped if I shoot and kill him. But, if I do not kill him, my children will die, and my inaction will have caused death.

If someone objects that the man should not be trying to kill my children, he is falling prey to a fallacy. Science has shown us with empirical certainty that deviance is unavoidable within society. All conventions will be broken by at least some of the members of a society. If you think about it, this is obvious, for if there was no deviation, there would be no rule. Somewhere in the world, someone will try to kill another man's children, and the man will have to make a choice as to who will die.

Death is inevitable. Competition is instinctive and unavoidable. Goals are necessarily different for individuals, and groups of people, whether families or tribes or countries or global alliances, will always seek to ensure their own survival. We can imagine a world where we completely overcome our own instincts, but such is the stuff of science fiction and religion, not reality. Our instincts are what make us human, and our instincts drive us inevitably to conflict, which often results in death.

So Does This Mean I Can Just Kill You?

No. If you believe this, then you have ignored the most crucial message that science has to teach us about morality. This doesn't take any philosophy to answer. It only takes historical observation. In all of recorded history across all cultures, there has never, ever been a time when humans arbitrarily killed other humans. Never. In all of the collected archaeological data in the world, there is no compelling case for humans ever arbitrarily killing other humans. As long as humans have had societies, they have had agreements, whether unspoken, verbal, or written into law, about when killing is acceptable, and when it is not. These agreements are part of the balance of natural selection. If intraspecies competition leads to extinction, the species will die. On any legitimate computer simulation, a population which arbitrarily kills its own kind will become extinct. Science gives us the answer, as clear as day. If humans had ever developed the tendency to kill arbitrarily, we would not be here to ask the question of why we do not.

More compelling still, in all of nature, there is no evidence of any intelligent creature that arbitrarily kills its own kind. Across all intelligent species, where there is intraspecies killing, there is always a reason for the killing. Period. Nature is yelling at us. It is screaming to us. It is telling us in the most certain terms that we could ever see that there is something inherent in us which prevents us from crossing certain boundaries. In nature, we see the same thing, over and over. In bee hives, females who try to lay their own eggs are killed or banished by other workers loyal to the queen bee. This behavior is entirely instinctive, and is not driven by the intelligent desire to follow laws, or some higher mandate. It is simply the way that bees have survived, and it is the way we have survived since before we were intelligent enough to ask why we don't kill our own.

Among many ants, there are often coups, where a young female gathers enough followers to overthrow the queen and take her place. Again, this is entirely instinctive behavior, programmed through long eons of reproductive successes and failures. Yet, humans do the same things, over and over, through history, all the while thinking ourselves to be above the animals.

The answer to the question of morality is that there is no single, immutable answer, but there are the realities of nature. Like all social animals, we have individuals who try to further their own goals at the expense of other members of the group. Sometimes they succeed, and other times they fail. Depending on our own perspective, sometimes we approve of deviants, and sometimes we disapprove. We love Dirty Harry for killing the bad guys, and we despise Ted Bundy. This is instinctive, and is based on that apparent contradiction we saw earlier. Our ancestors survived by killing outsiders and protecting insiders. Ted Bundy killed insiders. Dirty Harry killed the enemy. Where things get trickier is when the enemy is not so clear cut. When American soldiers killed civilians in Vietnam, they were killing people who had the same desires, goals and instinctive drives as everyone else. To the Vietnamese families, the Americans were the enemy, and rightly so.

The goals of the war were based on a great many false beliefs. The North Vietnamese government believed that communism was a workable political system. Experience and science have taught us that this is false. Americans believed that stopping communists at all costs was a reasonable goal. Much of the American public believed that the war was started by the communists, when in fact, the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin was likely provoked by the Americans. Few Americans knew of the American and French governments' politically suspect motivations for being involved in the first place.

Could knowledge of reality have changed history? If the leaders of the communist regime knew for certain that communism would collapse under its own weight, would they have continued to infiltrate other countries? Would America have gone to war if it was universally known that there were nefarious reasons for doing so? It's impossible to answer these specific questions, but we can use the questions themselves as evidence of our incredibly dynamic sense of morality.

At this point, we can review history and see how science has improved the human condition, specifically with regard to morality. Once we learned that there are no such thing as witches, we recognized the inherent danger of allowing young girls to point out people at random and use that 'evidence' to justify killing those who were likely innocent of any wrongdoing. We know from history and from psychology that humans given unchecked power over others will abuse their power for their own gain, and so we create governments with checks and balances. We know that our instincts instill in us desires that often contradict our own best interests, so we learn to balance our instincts against our goals.

Finally, we know that the human condition is dependent on competition. From the level of our genes up to individuals, and ultimately to global alliances, competition is inherent in nature, and will never go away. We recognize that even though these questions of morality do not have universal answers, they most definitely have answers on a local level with regard to a specific goal. The more we acknowledge our instinctive desires, the more accurately we can judge whether or not they apply to a specific situation. If we are aware that our inherent desire is to kill all of our adversaries, it becomes easier to recognize that our desire to go to war with a rival country might be detrimental to everybody, and that there might be a middle ground, as there is with sugar consumption. By allowing science to document human nature in an unbiased manner, we can recognize the dangerous legacy of some of our instincts. Again, by using science, we can objectively evaluate which goals truly are better from whatever perspective we agree on. We can set our goal and then determine the best way to get there. It's not a perfect answer for those who still want to believe that utopia is possible, but it is the real answer.

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