You run the risk of confusing two very different types of "experience" here. On the one hand, you've taken the position that the ability to experience is a prerequisite to being a moral entity (i.e. things that are capable of experiencing are the subjects of morality). On the other hand, here you're saying that act of experiencing has moral consequences. I don't necessarily disagree, but we need to be careful not to confuse the two types of "experience."
Sorry to be unclear. Using the word experience is liable to lead to confusion. For clarities sake, can I suggest that we use the following:
abcde= A thing that experiences.
vwxyz= The ability to experience.
So, if something has vwxyz, is it therefore an abcde. Abcdes are morally relevant. Experiences affect abcdes, and how
they affect them determines whether they are neutral, positive, or negetive is that particular instance.
Certainly, my stabbing of a non-experiencing person may have unwelcome repercussions. But then my stabbing of a cactus may likewise have unwelcome repercussions. The question, however, is not whether my action in stabbing has any repercussions -- I assume that it will, regardless of who or what I stab. The question is: what moral difference does it make whether I stab a non-experiencing person or a non-experiencing cactus?
None. Only the repercussions for abcdes are morally relevant, and as you say, either act, indeed any act, will have repercussions.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned here is the concept of duty. It is possible that I have a duty to a non-experiencing person that I do not have toward a non-experiencing cactus, such that my stabbing of the former is, in moral terms, qualitatively different from my stabbing of the latter. Without adding the concept of duty, however, I find it difficult to understand why the two stabbings are of different moral qualities.
I could phrase part of my initial position: “I have a duty to all abcdes”. I have no other duties, none to non-experiencing people, none to non-experiencing cacti. The two stabbings are not of different moral qualities.
Now if you, djbt, think that the concept of duty is relevant here, you need to connect it to the concept of (the ability to) experience in order to show that stabbing a brain-dead person is morally objectionable whereas the stabbing of a cactus is morally neutral. If, however, you do not think injecting the notion of duty into this debate is relevant, then you'll need to do a better job of explaining why the brain-dead person and the cactus enjoy different moral statuses.
To clarify, I do not say that they enjoy different moral statuses. Both have no moral status. By the way, the choice of an acronym for my username was a heat of the moment error. Please call me David.
To bring this discussion back to the original premise of this thread, we also need to ask if we have duties toward non-human animals. Is a cat more like a brain-dead person or a cactus?
The evidence seems to suggest that a cat, like most, if not all, animals, has vwxyz, and so is an abcde. I don’t know for sure that a cat has vwxyz, but then I don’t know for sure that any human other than myself has vwxyz, the evidence for both seems comparable. That a cat is an abcde is an assumption, but a reasonable one. It is therefore morally relevant, in the same way, and for the same reasons, as a human.
Do I owe a duty to a dog because it can experience or because my acts in relation to the dog may have unwelcome repercussions on others who can experience?
The former certainly, the latter most probably.
If I shine a light in your eyes, that affects your experience. Does that make it a morally relevant act?
on an abcde is morally relevant. That affect may be positive, negative or perhaps neutral, depending on things like how close the light is, how bright, and what the ‘you’ in question is.
And why is "upsetness" wrong? Is it wrong as to the person causing the upsetness or to the person experiencing it?
“Upsetness”, or emotional distress, is a negative affect on an abcde, as is physical pain. I understand that both affect the brain in the same way. It is certainly wrong as to the person experiencing it, and may well be wrong to the person causing it (if it upsets them to be upsetting someone), although they might enjoy causing suffering, in which case it would be a positive affect on them as an abcde (don’t misunderstand though, it may well have negative affects coming up soon… again getting into the balancing act here).
I seem to be having problems with all aspects of your position, so it doesn't much matter where we start.
We should deal first with more fundamental problems, the debate over weighing positives and negatives can only happen if we’ve temporarily agreed that a positive affect on an abcde is right or good, and a negative affect on an abcde is wrong or bad, and that nothing else is relevant. If you still have problems with that position, we should deal with them first.