Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 21:05:55 -0700

At 10:47 PM 7/29/96, Ben Goertzel wrote:
>As I see it, none of us truly has an individual "self" -- the self
>is a social/cultural construct. We are all, in the end, made up
>of EACH OTHER. (This sounds flaky perhaps, but as I have shown in my
>book "Chaotic Logic" it can be put on a mathematical basis).
>It is true that in becoming trans-human we may lose our "selves" as
>currently conceived and thus lose this fundamental sociality. But
>it is also possible that sociality is inherent to intelligence. IN
>fact it is my inclination to believe this is true (as I argued in
>a recent paper in Informatica called "Artificial Selfhood," also
>contained at my website

I am inclined to agree with you. Certainly 99.9% or so of the good ideas
and values in my head originated with someone else, and I'm inclined to
identify a large part of my "self" with these ideas and values that were
cooked up by someone else and transmitted into my culture and thence into
me. I judge these ideas and values, and sort them out myself, as an
individual, but I would never be able to cook them all up from scratch.
Without them, I'd be just another shuffling mammal.

But libertarian political theory is much too concrete to depend on these
abstract concerns about the boundaries of the self. Even a radical altruist
would have to admit that there's nothing compassionate about robbing Peter
to pay Paul. Libertarian political theory revolves around issues of the
plurality of values, the institution of property, and the ethics of the use
of force and fraud. Giving alms may be a moral mandate, contra Rand,
without necessarily making it morally permissible to *force* the giving of

I don't know of any altruist/collectivist arguments that solidly
demonstrate that it's okay for a person A to stick a gun to the head of
person B and make person B do something (or refrain from doing something)
that person B doesn't want to do (or refrain from doing). And ultimately,
these are the kinds of situations that libertarians are concerned with
identifying and preventing.

Eric Watt Forste <>