Re: Amusing anti-cloning arguments

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 28 Oct 1998 09:17:15 -0800

Max More responds to Hal Finney:
>>Suppose a ship is being launched to the stars, at relatively slow speeds,
>>which will take centuries to make the journey. ...
>>Bringing kids into such an environment dooms them to life in space
>>as certainly as biologically adapting them would. If we accept the
>>historical precedent for parents to have children in environments which
>>limit their choices, shouldn't we accept that modifying them is equally
>If a whole bunch of people are going into space for a long journey to
>another star, then it may sense for them to have children with no legs (or
>extra arms). ...
>This is different from the case as described by Pizulli. The legless people
>may be well adapted for a space voyage. But they may not want to go on the
>voyage. Then, they either must compelled or conditioned into going (both of
>which I find ethically unacceptable), or they will stay on Earth and find
>themselves physically disadvantaged.
>In one case, given that you're going on the trip, you are maximizing your
>engineered children's choices and abilities. In the other you are reducing
>them, perhaps drastically (if they are forced to go). So I see these as
>essentially different cases from a moral point of view.

Consider someone considering setting up a colony on the moon, where a legless colonist could barely afford passage back to Earth, or around Jupiter, where transportation is just too expensive for a legless colonist to afford passage back to Earth. Max's moral calculus would encourage them to set up the colony at Jupiter rather than the Moon, all else equal.

This seems perverse to me, and argues for Hal's position. Another example would be: it is all right to make a Morlock tuned for mining deep beneath the Earth, as long as you close off all the tunnels they could use to return to the surface? I don't like the idea that you can do things to people which would be considered bad in our environment, but which are all right as long as you limit their options to move.

Robin Hanson RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884 140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614