Re: Beating a dead horse?(Was: Transhumanist Principles)

Sonny B. (
Wed, 08 Apr 1998 20:15:51 PDT

>Dan Fabulich, <>, writes:
>> Hal Finney wrote:
>> >Based on this rather cautious principle, I would tentatively
>> >the above procedures as moral, as long as they were done carefully
>> >that suffering was minimized.
>> I'm dubious of this conclusion... By this premise, all of the above
>> necessarily be moral if they were created in such a way that they
>> always (artificially) happy, no matter how difficult or otherwise
>> their circumstances...
>What is the difference between artificial happiness and the real thing?
>Can someone be happy and still be in terribly difficult and painful
>circumstances? That seems a bit contradictory.
>Perhaps the real difficulty here is the difficulty of knowing what the
>true mental state is. Obviously, creating someone with a fixed smile
>on their face is no indication that they are actually happy. Even if
>have good general understanding of genetics it may be much longer
>we can say with confidence that a particular design will lead to a
>being, one which does not suffer.
>Still, in terms of judging morality, I'd say we have to use our best
>understanding of these matters, just as in other areas of uncertainty.
>We may want to err on the side of caution, in which case creating
>with drastically new mental structures could be considered immoral,
>since we might unknowingly create a being who was constantly in
>pain, and who (of course) never volunteered to undergo that experience.
>This would obviously hinder the growth of understanding the mind and
>brain, but it would be wrong to gain knowledge at the cost of
>suffering by others.

The idea of gain of knowledge at the painful expense of others is
akin to the controversy of abortion. To include issues of morality in a
discussion where everyone is not in agreement with a moral, is a waste
of time.
I don't feel that we could ever know for sure whether or not our
procedures/experiments are inflicting unnecessary pain on an individual.
In the name of advancement, it becomes necessary to take those "immoral"
steps to whatever degree necessary before dedicating efforts to
modification of experiments to decrease discomfort for the specimens. I
know the preceding statement may sound Hitlerian, but when push comes to
shove, and life to death, how else do we humans operate in this world
I propose that we could develop interfaces to allow ourselves to
become the specimen being subjected to whatever stresses other impose on
it. Later on, we could, upon exit of such xfers, more accurately
interpret what the specimens may be "feeling".


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