Re: Ethics in a void (Re: meaning of life (RE: (repost) ))

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 23:48:28 MST

Charlie Stross wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 22, 2001 at 11:14:07AM -0500, Michael Lorrey wrote:
> > Do you believe in any sort of objective reality? If you do, then it
> > should be not very difficult to extrapolate objectively human rights
> > from physical law.
> Your search for certainty is laudable but unreliable: it boils down to
> just another expression of the religiosity that infuses American culture.

Exactly how does any such thing follow?

> The universe doesn't owe us a living. The wave front from a [hypothetical,
> I hope!] gamma ray burster five hundred light years away may reach us
> tomorrow and exterminate every species on the planet -- just as other
> GRBs suffice to sweep the universe of life periodically. If that were to
> happen, what, then, would the whole of human existence signify?

How is that at all relevant?
> So let's try to derive a concept of rights from this mess ...
> To start with, all I know is that, pace Descartes, "I think -- therefore
> someone is". (For all I know I'm a simulation in some corner of a much
> smarter being's mind, so I can't simply settle for the traditional
> "cogito, ergo sum".) I also know that I want to continue thinking and,
> preferably, receiving external stimuli that are compatible with my
> continuing to do so.

How is this relevant?

> Solipsism might seem like a rational viewpoint at this stage, but it's
> by no means necessary: I know that _I_ exist, I perceive that you match
> my internal model of how a human being might think and communicate,
> therefore by Occam's razor it's simplest to conclude that I am just one
> of a class of entities, and you are another. So I'm not alone.

Or this?

> By Occam's razor I can also assume that you posess the same core
> motivation as I do -- to continue thinking and interacting with your
> environment.

So far you have left out almost any analysis of the nature of the
existents, human beings, except for a rarefied departure from a
caraciture of Descartes.

It is pointless to have a discussion attempting to derive natural rights
on this basis.

- samantha

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