Re: Greed

Technotranscendence (
Sat, 7 Feb 1998 07:26:26 -0500 (EST)

At 09:34 PM 2/5/98 -0800, Damien R. Sullivan <>
>> We could argue about the economics of chattel slavery, but it's
>> irrelevant. Slavery is wrong, and has no place in a civilized society.
>Irrelevant? If a society with slavery was more stable and more
>productive than a free society, the latter would shortly pass out of
>existence. This is not the case now, but it may well have been the case
>for every agricultural society above the subsistence level.

It is not pure efficiency here that one should look for. For instance, a
society which is more efficient at making war but less so at everything
else can usually conquer others. E.g., the Mongol invasions of China
or the Roman takeover of the Eastern Mediterranean.

>It is easy for me to believe that we have greater scientific truth than
>ever before, because I can see where it is coming from. The claim that
>we are ethically superior to all previous civilizations is harder to
>swallow, especially as I still lack any idea of where 'right' and 'wrong'
>come from.

The ethical superiority thing may or may not be so, depending on a
lot of factors, BUT you are right to bring this up. There is generally
a "Whig" view of history -- that what is now is better than what came
before -- pervading these sorts of discussions. (This is not exclusive
to Extropians/transhumanists. Almost everyone I've talked to on
anything like this is a Whig in this sense.)

>Science cannot answer questions of right and wrong, but it can answer
>questions of how society should be arranged to reach a certain goal. I
>suspect that in the long run that is all which really matters. I will
>be convinced that a gov't-less society is possible, let alone optimal,
>when I see one exist and succeed.

I think questions of right and wrong can be answered by reason,
if you will. I do not think they are totally arbitrary, but that is a
discussion for another time.

Greed is good!

Daniel Ust