Re: Beating a dead...

Reilly Jones (
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 02:38:29 -0400

Hal Finney wrote 4/8/98: <Suppose technology evolves to the point where
people can create new biological entities in the privacy of their homes.>

Um... We've been here for some time now, Hal. The biological entities are
called children. With the socialist statism we live under, the privacy of
our homes isn't very private any more. It seems the state has largely
coopted raising our children, at least those children not murdered by their
mothers with the sanction of our judicial oligarchy.

Hal: <Biotechnology allows you to grow an organism with a desired genetic
code in an artificial womb. You can create people in this way, and modify
their genome any way you like.>

We're not here yet, but we're certainly trying to get here. Following my
distinction between "developed" individuals (which many abortion
enthusiasts pretend to find at some arbitrary point before or even after
birth but which actually don't ever exist) and "developing" individuals
(which begin to develop after conception and continue until death - with
polycentric jurisdictions free to handle different options), then the only
area here subject to political jurisdiction would be if the genome were
intentionally altered during development. That would be altering a self
other than your own self, which involves the larger polity. The polity may
choose to ignore the alterations, set guidelines for them, outlaw them,
whatever they see fit. Choose a different polity if you don't like it.
But let's not have one giant standard for all, a monoculture.

Hal: <It seems to me that intentionally creating a being whose life will
involve more suffering than pleasure is wrong. The degree of wrongness
would relate to how much suffering there was, and the level of
consciousness and intelligence which perceived the suffering.>

Half the world's population believes in some form of redemptive qualities
in suffering. Suffering or pleasure are very weak guides to morality. Why
would suffering or pleasure matter much at all, especially since such
physiological reactions are increasingly modulated by technological means?
They just don't mean much in the moral sphere because humans (and
transhumans) are able to transcend both, whether aiming towards great
achievements or high ideals.

Michael Scarazzo wrote 4/8/98: <I followed for a while the thread that
pitted Reilly Jones against the majority of the list over what amounted to
a discussion of the morality of abortion.... I think that a discussion
resulting in the creation of an "us and them" dichotomy, fails to exemplify
and to encourage thought based on the principles of extropy.>

Fortunately, majorities don't manufacture truth. Discussion that relates
to what is entropic vs. extropic is always appropriate to the list.
Oftentimes individuals adopt some personally convenient position that
appears extropic without following the chain of moral logic to its entropic
endpoint. Exploring these chains of moral logic is often interesting and
informative even if annoying and uncomfortable.

MS: <Is life, human or transhuman, meant to be simply existence? Should
transhuman life be happy, or should it simply be existence? I believe that
life should be happy, or at least that a human has the intrinsic right to
have happiness from the beginning of that existence, and even to the
frequently unfortunate end.>

Rocks are simply existing, yet they aren't life. Perhaps you should
consider the possibility that life is qualitatively different than rocks.
I could care less about happiness, especially now that it can be
technologically modulated. When we can get eudaemonia-in-a-pill, what
worth is striving for knowledge, or sacrifice for achievement? Try reading
Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" about how elusive happiness is ("feeling
of conscious vitality") and think about how feeble happiness is as an ideal
to develop morality by. There is never a right to happiness. The right to
*pursue* happiness is no different than the right to pursue unhappiness, it
is simply a statement of the centrality of volitional freedom to humanity
(and transhumanity).

MS: <Wedding rational means and truth is rather difficult. All things,
events, and thoughts are relative. Truth relates to reality and each
person has his/her individual reality.>

Is the statement "all things are relative" a true statement? You see how
absurd such windage is? Relativism is incoherent. If rationality is not
wedded to truth then it is clearly irrationality.

MS: <Linking "a life affirming way" and "good" is also very subjective and
difficult, because good is greatly open to interpretation...>

If "life affirming way" does not refer to "good" then why use the word
"affirming"? This makes no sense at all. Any time you specify a moral
direction ("way"), you are inescapably referencing the good.

MS: <Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What you see as beautiful may
or may not correspond to what another person sees.>

I see an underdeveloped imagination here.

MS: <Your emotions have greatly confused your ability to discern between
those who support a right to an action or a procedure and those who seek to
expand its application(s).>

If you really followed the earlier discussion, you will see that I
presented a rational chain of moral logic, entirely secular in nature,
beginning with clear definitions and ending with clear, reasonable options.
Emotions are not a part of this presentation until the end of the
consequences are reached and they are a bad end. I was met with
unintelligent bigotry, stereotyped as a religious kook, and flaming
emotional irrationality was heaved my way, including a prescription for
guillotining half my state for not wanting to turn our doctors into
murderers, into neo-Nazi "angels of death." My options are polycentric in
nature. The options of those who support a right to murder, by a clear
chain of cause-and-effect logic, proceed to overwhelm world society with
not just sanctions, which soil all those opposed to it, but inevitably
statist taxpayer-funded support for it. Extropian culture is inherently
polycentric, the culture of death is inherently monocentric. No compromise
between the two can be made. Even Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a well-known
libertarian, in this week's "Washington Times" was quoted saying: "The
Libertarian argument, or the principle is, you can't initiate force, you're
not allowed to use violence. We even sign a pledge. If you're not allowed
to initiate violence, you're not allowed to kill. How can you kill a fetus
without initiating violence?" Duh...

MS: <I would rather have one unhappy person weeping for the child that
could never be in her reality, than to have two unhappy people as the child
grows into a world that it comes to despise because it is not happy.>

Happiness isn't everything, in fact, it's not much at all. Individuals are
remarkably resilient, the backgrounds of people throughout history show an
amazing ability to make something of their lives regardless of how horrible
their beginnings were, or their formative years. Let me sum up your
position here as "better dead than sad." It's ridiculous.

MS: <What is affirming life? I take this phrase to mean more than
an individual life. Life can refer to the general human condition, for
which the extropians and transhumanists stand to improve.>

This is the classic twentieth-century rationalization for Stalinism,
Maoism, etc. Butchery on a mass scale to improve the general human
condition at the expense of some poor slobs who just were getting in the
way. Either we have individual rights, not group rights, or we have no
rights at all.

MS: <Reilly, you are the person who wishes to force your beliefs and your
truths upon everyone else.>

No, I am the person who has had other persons force their beliefs on me and
mine, and the society I live in and am trying to raise my children in, is
so much more degraded than the one I grew up in that it shocks me. A large
part of that decline is due to the way nihilism transformed into concrete
expressions of the culture of death, such as abortion, infanticide and

MS: <By saying that others are trying to make you tolerate says that
because you do not tolerate those beliefs, they should not be allowed to
continue. THAT is forcing beliefs on others.>

No, I am repeatedly saying we should have extropic polycentric solutions,
only the culture of death will not allow them, it's internal logic forces
sanctioned and taxpayer-supported butchery on all jurisdictions by

MS: <Do you not think that there are already enough unhappy people in the

Who cares? Life's tough. Let them work it out for themselves without
murdering innocents on the way.

MS: <I personally believe that abortion, particularly late-term, should be
avoided at all costs, unless there are dire circumstances, such as the
threat to a woman's life.>

Well, of the 35 million innocent unborn children murdered in the U.S. since
Roe v. Wade, the best estimates are that less than 3% were for
life-of-the-mother, rape or incest. If only 1 million had been murdered
during this time span, the culture of death's devaluing of life would not
have extended its grip nearly so hard on us. We would have a lot more
happy citizens on the streets than we do now. There'd be a lot more
brainpower in our pool. There'd be a lot more women around.

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology: | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'