Re: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Damien R. Sullivan (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 12:52:09 MST

On Fri, Feb 22, 2002 at 01:37:19PM -0500, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> "Damien R. Sullivan" wrote:

> Well, the left transhumans seem to be far more BORG oriented, and as
> such put their fictional rights of society above the rights of
> individuals.
Society's rights are fictional, but individuals's rights aren't?

> > you believe in generosity and helping people as a good, the decent
> > society shows up automatically.
> Not so. Codifying compulsory generosity and cooperation makes for about
> the worst society an individual could experience.
Uh, how so?
Culture Minds are designed to be 'nice', but they don't seem to be
living in Hell.

> Because emphasis of selfishness makes individuals more productive,

Emphasis of selfishness by itself does not make them more productive.
Prisoner's Dilemma, anyone? Bureaucratic corruption? Enron?

The Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma is self-enforcing when the parties have
to stick around each other. Without iteration -- like a large society,
with many hit-and-run interactions -- selfisness leads to mutual
defection leads to suckitude. Instinctive niceness leads to better
results for all.

> This is a point which I tried to make at Extro5 but I'm not sure how
> many actually understood it: virtuous behavior is only virtuous when it
> is voluntary. Compulsory virtue is nothing but hell on earth.

So parents compelled by evolution to love their children are in hell?

> question of the existence of natural rights. Rights exist as a result of
> nature, not because some people choose to grant them.
What does it mean for the rights to exist, without people granting them?
How would a universe where rights didn't exist as a result of nature
differ from the one we live in?

> I do recognise that there is a difference between the existence of
> rights and their recognition by people. Objective truth always exists
> irrespective of our ability to observe it and understand it.

Objective physical truth can be demonstrated to those who don't believe
it. Gravity pulls. Bullets kill. Light bends. How can you
demonstrate the existence of the rights you believe in? If you can't,
how can you claim they're objective?

Western rights lead, under our circumstances, to more pleasant and
efficient societies. Thus they spread. The rights do not include an
untrammeled right to selfishness. And under different circumstances,
with different technologies, they may not be optimal. What do objective
individual rights mean in the face of the Borg? They won't keep you
from being assimilated.

-xx- Damien X-)

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