Re: Extract from paper: The Paradox of Rationality vs. Integration

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 02:29:08 MDT


You said

>In our society, this happens too often and we find bloodbaths, brutal
>violence, and warfare occurring around the world when conflicts spiral out
>of control. We can also find censorship, pretensions of a harmonious
>society and ambiguous doubletalk statements like "everything has the
>correct point in accordance to their perspective" when people attempt to
>minimize conflict and impose their way.
>You may wonder what if we all think rationally even when starting with
>irrational beliefs. In such a case, we will actively seek viewpoints
>contrary to our own to minimize guilt (of learning about the truth too
>late) and in our quest for a more accurate personal theory about the
>universe. Eventually, through the free exchange of incompatible views and
>from our seeking of more knowledge, we will come across a theory that
>satisfies all the logical prerequisites. Since this theory and our other
>theories will mutually exclude each other, so we can only believe in this
>theory and only this theory.
>Hence, in a society with even one irrational member, we have to exercise
>censorship to prevent conflicts from occurring, or we will have to live
>outside each other's influence. However, in a society with only rational
>members, we will eventually come to a common consensus while enjoying free
>speech. Hence, the paradox shows itself.


But doesn't the good ol' Enlightenment liberal framework deal with a lot of
this stuff about social disagreement? We don't have to turn ourselves into
ethical relativists (like J.R., I think that ethical relativism is a useless
theory - though I am an ethical *subjectivist*, a slightly different sort of
an animal), but we can live and let live about issues that are less
important to us than freedom of conscience, belief and expression, getting
along in a pluralist society, etc. Admittedly, there is then a "market"
element in the way society develops, which some people don't like but I and
most others here think is actually a good thing.

A current hobbyhorse of mine is that it's time to stand up very strongly for
what I'll call metapolitical views that leave space for transhumanist ideas
to grow, and for transhuman technologies and ways of life to be developed
and implemented by those who want them. I do think that the issue of
metalevels in social values, social design, etc is pretty crucial and it's
come up in different ways here lately.

Since the 1960s when the first transhuman technology - the contraceptive
pill - came on stream, all this has worked quite well in Western societies.
However, there's now a realisation beginning that the classical liberal
framework may allow society to develop in very radical ways - and the view
is now being expressed pretty openly by people like Leon Kass that this must
be stopped. How do we (as a society? as transhumanists?) handle this kind of

You've told us frankly in another post that you're only 18 and at an early
stage in developing your ideas. But you certainly write well, and you're
obviously smart enough to have found the smartest list in town <grin>, and
we have to talk about these things anyway... so welcome to the conversation,
as far as I'm concerned.

Your only problem is that a lot of us have been thinking about these things
for many years. We may not have the answers you want, but we've probably
assimilated a lot of theory and terminology which you may have to engage
with quickly. Just ask if that causes a communication difficulty. And we'll
do likewise if your concepts aren't obvious.

Good luck


Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:01 MDT