Re: Extropian ethics (was: Re: sentient rights)

From: Olga Bourlin (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 00:29:40 MST

From: "Damien Broderick" <>

> At 04:34 PM 2/21/02 -0800, Hal wrote:
> >But then for each of us there will come times when we are tested and
> >tempted. You find someone's wallet with money in it... Then you have
> >to decide whether your ethical system is just about you, or about the
> >world as a whole.

The quick-and-dirty reply is - it's about you. Of course, there could be
extenuating situations ... you are dying of starvation, you find a wallet -
you decide to "borrow" a few bucks for food (saying to yourself, as soon as
you get some grub, you can think about getting a job, and repaying the

Throughout my life I've found a few wallets and have always returned them to
their owners. It never even occurred for me not to. It's always a steeper
price ... to sell your integrity out over a few bucks, yes?

I'm not certain how the "world as a whole" fits into the finding-a-wallet
scenario -- oh, but wait ... there are the likes of Kenneth Lay, whose
selfish antics are having far-reaching effects not unlike stealing money out
of ALL our wallets (via the stock market, our IRAs, 401-Ks and the like).

> Yeah, it's odd. I must be a crypto deontologist, via residual childhood
> programming, although I tell myself I'm a rule utilitarian. A former
> grrlfriend once informed me merrily about an acquaintance who, I dunno,
> somehow activated an ATM withdrawal with the wrong PIN and got several
> hundred dollars, which she kept; my friend made it clear she'd do the same
> in a trice. I was taken aback.

I'm a crypto, too. When my children were young, I cannot tell you how many
parents I observed who thought it was all right to lie about how old their
children were - to sneak them into movie theaters and such at a reduced
price. I didn't think this set a very good example. It may be a minor
thing, but I've never figured out where one draws the line (although I can
imagine circumstances where I would lie my head off and consider it quite
ethical - e.g., in some variation of a "Sophie's Choice" dilemma, or in
harboring Anne Frank and her family, pokata ... pokata ... pokata).

> It was the beginning of the end for a beautiful relationship, now that I
> look back on that moment...

Yep, know the feeling. Luckily (and not accidentally), all three of my
each-quite-different husbands had this one thing in common: unimpeachable
integrity. Years after we were divorced, when the IRS gave my last husband
(#2) a return for deductions which were overlooked for taxes during one year
when we were married, he sent me me my share ($3,000 - nice surprise!). He
could have rationalized keeping the money, I'm sure - and how would I ever
have known? But he was and is - upstanding (and that's why we're still good


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