Re: Dyson (Was: Paths to Uploading)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 07 Jan 1999 20:07:08 -0600

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > Imagine Albert Einstein breaking a store window and grabbing the
> > merchandise, running away with a boom box on his shoulder, his wispy
> > white hair flying in all directions as the German physicist anxiously
> > looks back over his shoulder for pursuing cops.
> > That's the kind of morals and ethics he had, right, Terry?
> Well, if one is to be consistent in applying moral judgment to
> everyone, then yes, those were his morals. That he chose to steal
> with votes rather than a mask and gun is no excuse to me. I can,
> however, separate the genius and scientific integrity of the man
> from his lack of personal integrity.

Pardon me? "Lack of personal integrity?" That's a rather strong phrase, don't you think? Let's not Atlas overboard. The strong exist to serve the weak - but I consider myself one of the strong, and would never dream of enunciating that theory for my own benefit, or for that matter of using force to compel any person A to serve person B. Does my defiance of Ayn Rand's morality make me a looter? And for that matter, there is a long way between saying "I have a right to your new stereo" and stealing it. One can believe in that right, while still believing that your property rights take precedence.

I don't think that socialism/Libertarianism has anything to do with lack of personal integrity. It is possible to be a socialist and still have plenty of personal integrity; it's just stupid, because socialism has been demonstrated not to work. Personal integrity is defined by your unswerving adherence to high ideals for deeply altruistic reasons, not the intelligence or stupidity manifest in choosing those ideals.

If Libertarian countries were squalid, criminal, poverty-stricken, fear-ruled countries, and socialist countries were wealthy, technological, educated bastions of opportunity, I would be a socialist. Does this reflect my lack of personal integrity?

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.