Re: Phil: The VALUE of life & individualism vs self-sacrifice.

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Fri, 14 Feb 1997 16:33:43 -0800 (PST)

> >Not only /can/ "the good of the many" be ignored in a rational
> >system, it /must/ be. It, like democracy, is a pretty idea that
> >can only produce misery in the long run, by mechanisms well known
> >and clearly evidenced over the ages. There are only two ways for
> >all human interaction to take place: by unanimous consent, or by
> >force. Any attempt to place value on "society" or "the many" or
> >"the majority" or anything else but individual self-interest will
> >inevitably require the use of force, and is doomed to failure.

> here's where i disagree, and like to point out that you yourself said you
> can't pursue your opwn self interest without others, so up to some point
> the good of the many is inherent to the good of the individual (& vice
> versa!!!). There are situations where the good of the many limits the good
> of the individual, but i believe there are also situations where the
> opposite CAN be the case. Why is striving for a system where both
> situations are minimalized so bad ?

"The good of the many" is a rhetorical device much like "the selfish
gene", but neither exist as real things. One can speak of the /results/
of evolution appearing /as if/ a gene were a volitional being, acting
for its own propogation, but no one (except perhaps Moravec:) suggests
that genes actually possess consciousness and volition. Similarly, one
can speak of an action that benefits many people /as if/ it benefits
the group--but the reality is that a "group" has no mind to value things,
or to experience benefit. Values imply a valuer, a volitional being.
Though I may use both of those rhetorical devices myself, I would no
sooner attribute values or rights to a group than I would to a gene.
It so happens that the /results/ of my selfish interest appear /as if/
I am benefiting the group--but that's just your mind's pattern-matching
machinery seeing something that isn't really there.