self ownership

Tony Belding (
Sun, 19 Apr 1998 17:26:38 -0600 (Tony Hollick) wrote:

TH> I don't know how 'self-ownership' can be made to work without some kind
TH> of methodological dualism (a 'self' to own the body). I have no problem
TH> with methodological dualism -- I'm an interactionist dualist; but I
TH> notice quite a few people hereabouts who are monists -- they believe the
TH> self is identified with the atoms and molecules of the physical being.

Am I reading you correctly? That sounds like an odd thing for extropians to
believe. (Although, I have certainly heard stranger.) If you accept the
concept of uploading in any form, it's based on an assumption that the person
is software -- a pattern of information. So, you can move this software from
one hardware "platform" to another, and it's still valid.

TH> Even if we go with dualism, it is far from clear how an infant acquires
TH> self-ownership from its parents -- who provided the initial and necessary
TH> material basis for the new person in the form of sperm and ovum. Are we
TH> to say that the person is wholly owned by their biological parents unless
TH> or until some form of manumission takes place).

I certainly wouldn't say that. It's a gradual shift, as the child grows and
becomes more and more responsible for his own person and well-being.

One amusing aspect is that current law assumes the whole process works on a
fixed 21-year time schedule, as driven by human biology. What happens if
someone designs a child that will never grow up? Is is morally wrong to do
such a thing? Or what about the opposite, someone creating a new person fully
formed and ready to enter life as an adult, like Minerva springing from Jove's

TH> Then there's the problem of title to ingested resources as the person
TH> grows -- does this give another whose (claimed) resources are consumed a
TH> literal right to their 'pound of flesh'?

If you're raising a kid, that's an investment in your own reproduction
imperative. Your payback is the success of your offspring, carrying your
genes into the future.

TH> There is a real problem with ingesting living organisms (or their body
TH> parts) -- do they not also enjoy degrees of self-ownership?

No, they don't. They would have to be sentient persons in order to OWN
anything, including their own bodies.

   Tony Belding