Re: Amusing anti-cloning arguments

Robin Hanson (
Thu, 29 Oct 1998 09:15:24 -0800

Max More writes:
>>Consider someone considering setting up a colony on the moon, where a legless
>>colonist could barely afford passage back to Earth, or around Jupiter, where
>>transportation is just too expensive for a legless colonist to afford passage
>>back to Earth. Max's moral calculus would encourage them to set up the
>colony at Jupiter rather than the Moon, all else equal.
>Maybe it's just too late, but I don't see how you get this result, Robin. A
>*pragmatic* calculus would give you this result. Setting aside the moral
>issue, you might go for the Jupiter mission because you know the legless
>astronauts will be stuck with it and can't screw up your mission by
>deciding to return to Earth. But, if they take the moral issue into
>account, they would do the opposite of what you suggest. If they cannot
>afford to get back from Jupiter, they are simply stuck and their options
>limited. If they are on the moon and can barely afford to return to Earth,
>their options are not great, but they are broader than the Jupiter people.
>They may get home poor (maybe they can sell their story to the media...)
>but at least they have that option, whereas the Jupiter folks do not. So, I
>get the opposite result from you. Or are we somehow talking at
>cross-purposes here?

It seemed to me that that you were arguing before for evaluating these scenarios based on whether the creature was well-tuned for his environment, *taking for granted* whatever environment he was in. This seems to me to let people off the hook for choosing what environments to place people in. Here you seem to accept responsibility for environments. But in this next case you don't seem to accept this.

>In my scenario, the already-grown unaltered humans have decided to go into
>space. They have every right to do this.

It isn't obvious that they do have every right to do this. If you are responsible for the total package you put your children into, their environment plus how tuned they are for that environment, then it becomes open to question whether it was all right to take your kids into space.

>Given that they are going into
>space, I was suggesting that it might be morally unproblematic for them to
>then have children in space who were better adapted. I don't think that the
>children would have a justifiable complaint about being in space, since it
>was a decision made by the parents for themselves. Given that decision,
>they must then decide whether to have children. If the offspring will have
>lives worth living, this seems a reasonable choice. The parents in this
>situation are not limiting the children, the parents are making choices
>about their own lives then producing offspring in the resulting situation.

This seems a complicated rule-based morality, which I can't follow very well. My more consequentialist morality just asks about how much worth living those lives would be. Parental choices for themselves are no excuse.

>If someone left China and came to the USA, and then had a child here, that
>child would usually not have a defensible moral objection if they wish they
>had been born in China.

Only because the USA is not considered such a terrible place to be.

Robin Hanson RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884 140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614