Re: PHIL: Extropy, Boundaries and Suicide

den Otter (
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 10:41:21 +0100

Darren Reynolds <> wrote:

> "True freedom requires a life without boundaries."

> The introductory message to this list claims that Extropians may have an
> interest in "rational ethics (ethics for survival and flourishing)".
To survive and thrive (to be free of suffering, and full of joy) are the only things
that really matter, they are the core of any rational ethics system. Ultimately,
we all are motivated by discomfort-minimalization and pleasure-optimalization
(unless the brain blows a fuse). Whether we like it or not, "it's like that, and
that's the way it is". If everyobody stuck to pure rational ethics, this would
ultimately benefit all, because helping others/not damaging them often pays
off in the long run (or instantly). We don't need christian or socialist values
(which *force* you to share, help etc.) to create a pleasant society; self-interest
with foresight has largely the same positive results, minus the bad ones
(sanctimoniousness) that are inherent to so many other memetic systems.
Holier-than-thou beliefs/philosophies ultimately only cause moral decay,
because virtually no-one can live up to their standards. A great example
of the resulting sanctiomonious behaviour are the folks who one hand hand
oppose the death penalty because it's supposedly "barbaric", while on the
other hand they don't give a damn about the situation in prisons, where rape,
beatings, extortion & murder are commonplace. A rational system would
be exaclty the opposite: there would be capital punishment (preferably
so that the mode of execution fits the crime) for murderers (cryopreservation
standard, just in case), and the prisons would be clean & safe, with no
(involuntary) physical contact between inmates, video/audio surveillance all
over and highly automated (human guards are nothing but trouble) so that
they no longer are a place where the least-guilty suffer most, and bad guys
get even worse. Of course, this is just one example of rational ethics in
action; the effect on the whole of society would be profound.

> This must surprise a lot of list members, who seem to take a far more
> libertarian view of ethics. Many here seem to take the view that it's OK to
> do what you like, so long as you don't harm anyone else. I challenge those
> people to place a boundary around causing "harm to anyone else".
> Every action a person takes will affect every other person to some small extent.
> You can't live your life without causing harm to someone else. All you can
> do is mitigate the degree of harm whilst promoting your objectives. I for
> one have an interest in the "rational ethics" declared in the introduction.
If you want to follow rational ethics, than you only have to worry about the
most apparent damage done to others (or, more specifically: can I get away
with it?) "Not damaging others" should not become a mindless dogma/taboo,
that wouldn't be rational.

> Which brings me, finally, to the point.
> Someone you know, rationally, carefully and thoughtfully, decides that it
> is time to end their life. Such an action has a number of easily
> identifiable anti-Extropic effects.
> What is the right thing to do? Do you give the person their liberty, or do
> you exercise your "ethics for survival and flourishing" and forcibly remove
> it?
>From a rational ethics point of view, the choice is easy: you try to prevent
the permanent destruction of someone you care about, even if this person
doesn't want to be saved *at this time*. Freedom of choice does not apply
to the mentally ill, IMO, just like it doesn't apply to small children. The only
rational reason why someone would want to die is unbearable (mental or
physical) suffering. If this can't be cured by today's medicine, euthanasia
and cryonic suspension are in order. If the person in question is revived
at some point in the future, he will be cured of all his physical and mental
disorders, *and* he'll be hedonistically engineered so that satisfaction is
guaranteed. And on this day, he will surely thank you from saving him
from himself.