Re: Ethics

Daniel Fabulich (
Tue, 30 Jun 1998 21:51:42 -0400 (EDT)

On Tue, 30 Jun 1998 wrote:

> Considering the interest that this thread has generated, why don't we get a
> late summer reading club/discussion group going on the topic ? Perhaps we
> could all throw around some suggested readings on the theme of "Self, Others &
> The Politics of Immortality", and once we can reach an agreement slate one
> week for the discussion of each book... anybody up for it ??? I'll take it
> upon myself to jot down the names of all proposed materials, then post the
> list, and we could vote a pre-determined number of selections in or out. The
> reading order would be chronologically. Perhaps everybody could select 1
> "classical" selection and one "contemporary". Anybody up for it?

I'd reccomend John Stuart Mill's _Utilitarianism_ and _On Liberty_. Then
I'd especially reccomend Chapters 41-43 of David Friedman's _Machinery of
Freedom_. All of these are already online at:

On Liberty:
Machinery of Freedom:

These don't relate explicitly to immortality, however, but IMO immortality
isn't particularly a special case: dying is always bad for our well-being,
no matter how old we become.

Also, as I seem to recall, this debate arose from asking ethical questions
about Alife; since I am a utilitarian I must first ascertain how and to
what extent an Alife-form is or isn't made better off before I can begin
to answer questions about dealing with it ethically. Unfortunately, since
there isn't really a convenient example of Alife that we can point to and
say "This Alife-form is better/worse off," it seems to me impossible to
determine how or even *if* it could be made better or worse off.
Therefore, if you believe that consequentialism is true, then we must
concede that we have no basis upon which we could even begin to answer
ethical questions about Alife.

Oh! of course, how silly of me to forget. The primary argument which is
often levelled against me when I speak out in favor of immortality is
population growth; I definitely want to reccomend Julian Simon's _The
Ultimate Resource 2_, which puts these arguments to shame. It's also
online at:

Sorry if that wraps on you... Try pasting it into your browser in parts
or just typing it out by hand.

Have fun!