Re: TERRORISM: Is genocide the logical solution?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Sep 18 2001 - 01:08:30 MDT

On Mon, Sep 17, 2001 at 08:41:24PM -0700, Spike Jones wrote:
> Was there not a writer back a couple hundred years ago
> who wrote an essay about how to deal with the problem
> of overpopulation among the starving lower classes? I
> think it was called "A Modest Proposal" in which he suggested
> devouring the hungry children, something so shocking that
> people realized that something had to be done to help the
> starving masses.
> Knowing Robert as I do, one who has offlisted me personally
> suggesting that I redirect my life from what I am doing to
> helping save starving children, a person I know to be kind
> and generous, I suggest we read his essay in the spirit of
> "A Modest Proposal."

While I would like to read it as a Swiftean parody (and I still like
Robert as a very bright and creative person), one thing makes the post
worth critizising to pieces: that plenty of people on the list doesn't
seem to be averse to its reasoning. Imagine if Swifts proposal to solve
the Irish Problem by cannibalism had been received by some as a good
idea worth considering! So even if it was intended as a parody, it
might have the same effect as a serious proposal (i.e. nearly nothing,
since this list fortunately doesn't write US foreign policy; however,
the effects of allowing bad memes to creep into the transhumanist
perspective is very real).

> Perhaps we must admit that on the event horizon of deed so
> horrifying and morally reprehensible as to elude sane analysis,
> our extropic notions and individualistic objectivist theory breaks
> down as completely as do all the other methods of calculus
> of the suffering of humanity. spike

Does it? I have so far not seen any such breakdown. Rather, Roberts post
showed that utilitarianism can easily diverge when you take too many
people or too grand future states into account.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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