Re: MORALITY: right & wrong (was: A Bioethical Foundation for Human Rights)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu Nov 08 2001 - 14:19:23 MST

On Thu, Nov 08, 2001 at 10:57:54AM -0800, Wei Dai wrote:
> I define freedom as access to choices. Being freedom-loving means
> valuing other people's access to choices, and therefore not trying to
> restrict their range of choices unless necessary to serve a great good.
> Here restrict means not just physically prevent a choice, but also making
> the consequences of that choice less pleasant.

This is a good start.

Affecting the consequences is an interesting area. As I have said, some
views claim that this undermines freedom altogether even when the change
is to make some consequences *better* than others; I disagree with that,
the freedom to act according to the pre-change values is always there.
On the other hand, making certain choices worse makes it impossible to
achieve the pre-change values, and quite often threaten or remove
important freedoms (like threatening you with violence if you make a
certain choice).

Real coercion of course involves interfering directly with the decision
process, not just biasing it but by removing certain choices or
circumventing the decision.

> I would defend the extropian enterprise this way. The current lifestyles
> are not self-sustaining or self-sustainable, thus the choice of remaining
> in those lifestyles is not available anyway. What we're trying to do is
> achieve a lifestyle, for ourselves and others, that does offer the
> greatest range of choices, compared to the alternatives that are possible.

After all, extropians have always been for sustainable development. Most
other views doesn't care about limited resources like the sun (just a
few billion years left!) or baryonic matter with proton decay. In the
really long run we are the true environmentalists :-)

Seriously, I think seeking to enlarge the range of possible choices and
the potential value of these choices is a good core principle. We need
to balance it with a commensurate increase in ability to evaluate
choices (or stand the undertainty in making choices), of course, but
having more possibilities is in general preferable to having less.

Note that this also provides an answer to those who fear that we will
force everybody with us: we seek to make it possible to ignore us
totally too. It is always good to have a control group or reserve in
case the transhuman project fails in one way or another (or if it turns
out that there *is* an objective morality, and it is derived from the
Old Testament).

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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