Re: Tough Questions

Patrick Wilken (
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 11:11:09 +1000

>If there are other recurring "tough questions" I have missed,
>let me know and I'll add them to my list. If you can point me to
>interesting discussions or essays on these topics elsewhere, I
>would be interested as well.

Many people on this list rightly fear and loath the tryanny of the majority over that of the minority. One aspect of this is the tryanny of government over peoples lives. The counter-problem has not had as much air time (perhaps because the rights of an individual are seen - rightly in my opinion - as so important).

The tryanny of the minority over the majority is not as easy to deal with. Do we allow everyone the right to have a pound of plutonium each and ready instructions on how to build a bomb? Do we - as individuals (let's not get into Statist distractions) - have an ethical right to stop this? If yes, then what about nanotech, high powered AI all of which seem to pose even greater risks. Do

Or a completely different example. What if 90% of people want a particular unique forest to remain. Then someone who claims the land (perhaps through theft - at least in Australia the original 'owners' were killed last century) - and starts destroying it. Do individuals have a right to protect their rights? Do they have any rights? Perhaps people could buy the land, but what if this simple solution is not open and the land is not for sale? If forests aren't your favorite things take this example: say I've just uncovered some missing works of Plato or Aristole of Shakespeare and now I want to burn them because I don't agree with their ideas and I don't want anyone else to ever read them (echoes of Eco). Do the majority have any rights here?

Please no flames. I just want to understand how to maximise everyone's freedom here.

best, patrick

Patrick Wilken
Editor:        PSYCHE: An International Journal of Research on Consciousness
Board Member:      The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness