Re: The "questionable search for immortality"

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Fri Aug 10 2001 - 20:07:16 MDT

Russell: Thanks for the background on Kass.
You wrote:
> In arguing this way, Kass assumes that we may freely repudiate the
> liberal position, in which the state should remain essentially neutral in
> moral disputes among its citizens, offering a framework in which diverse
> visions of the good can be pursued, but declining to lend its might to
> favour one vision over others. He evidently feels free to state expressly
> that we should ban human cloning in order to foreclose a version of the
> future that he finds morally repugnant but which he believes may eventuate
> without the denial of anyone's freedom, simply through the accumulation of
> individual decisions and the operation of market forces. Although he does
> not argue why the state has a role in preventing such outcomes, it is
> essential to his whole argument that it should act to do so, by
> prohibitions if needed. Kass's assumptions are fundamentally at odds with
> the classical liberal ideal.
The classical liberal ideal usually is expressed as two parts, (1) the idea
that the state ought to remain morally neutral in matters of morality (and
the pursuit of our own individual conception of human flourishing) and (2)
so long as the individual does not, in Mill's words, "make himself a
nuisance to other people" and "short of injury to others". (Chapter 3 On
Liberty). I know you are aware of this, but I wonder if Kass makes any
arguments that invoke the second clause. Kass aside, do you see the coming
debate focused on 1 or 2? (If I were against transhumanism I think I would
work on 2, after all, many of us are all too cognizant of the potential for
unintended consequence of technologies, for example, black goo and
unfriendly AI etc.)

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