Re: POL: Abortion-neutral Extropian Principles

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 17 Mar 1999 11:20:04 -0600

Tim Hruby wrote:
> At 7:07 PM -0600 3/16/99, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> > Tim Hruby wrote:
> > >
> > > A question more closely related to Extropianism (at least the political
> > > threads thereof) is the view of the Principles on whether the state should
> > > be imposing a certain view of morality on individuals. But that question
> > > is broader than and different from the issue of the _morality_ of abortion.
> >
> > Not at all! The point others have been trying to make is that outlawing
> > abortion is legislating morality, irrespective of the *actual* morality,
> > and thus against the Extropian Principles. My point is that there
> > exists a plausible position stating that abortion is not "immoral", it
> > is "violating the right to life of another sentient", and thus
> > prohibited by the Extropian Principles.
> (I'm assuming that Eliezer meant "moral" and not "immoral" for that
> statement to make logical sense)

You are incorrect. The statement is as I meant to say it. I suggest that you put your own semantics in order before accusing others of either misinterpretation or "projection".

There is a distinction between "immoral" and "violating rights". You cannot successfully legislate morality. You can successfully legislate rights, as long as that legislation is phrased as negative penalties for violating the rights of others, rather than as positive entitlements.

And no, they are not the same thing. Most Extropians would say it's immoral to convert someone to an irrational cult so that you can bilk them, but it should never be illegal.

Your statement appeared to say that abortion was merely immoral, rather than rights-violating. If that's not what you meant, fine - point out that you're using a different interpretation of a statement which wasn't ambiguous under your particular set of postulates, but which had entirely different connotations under mine. This is not properly known as "projection", nor is it irrational.

Kindly do not engage in accusations of irrationality unless you encounter a statement which CANNOT be explained in any other way. It is EXTREMELY impolite and destructive of rational discussion.

> Eliezer seems to be projecting thoughts and beliefs into what I said. Why,
> I don't know -- that's a soft question of human psychology, and I don't
> know Eliezer well enough to make an educated guess.

No, you don't.

After publishing 350K about how to build minds in general, and 100K about how to build mine in particular, I know far better than to trust my mind. But I do trust myself to accurately evaluate claims that my mind functions in a particular way; or that someone else knows the emotional contents of my mind, and resultant functioning, better than I do.

Your claim follows a known pattern of generic conversational tactics which have yet to produce useful self-analytic content, so I am not granting it serious consideration. This does involve an assumption about the cognitive etiology of the claim; which, under The Rules, I am permitted to publicly mention *only* because defense against this class of conversational tactics may require response on the same level.

> Extropianism is properly concerned with taking a stand on the legislation
> of morality -- I say that right in the snippet Eliezer quotes.

If you are using "moral" as synonymous with "noncoercion", then you are incorrect. We state that legislating against victimless "immorality" is illegal, but we do legislate against coercion-based "immorality".

These are two different stands. That is why we use two different terms.

> I don't know why Eliezer is projecting
> disagreement. I could theorize, but then I'd be projecting as well.

Too late for that.
You started theorizing the moment you used the term "projection".

--          Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

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