Re: Final draft of my philosophical platform now on line

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Mon Aug 16 2004 - 00:16:19 MDT

 --- Keith Henson <> wrote:
> At 08:18 PM 15/08/04 +1200, Marc Geddes wrote:
> snip
> >"But the framework is in my opinion tightly
> >interconnected, forming a dazzling self-consistent
> >whole. I do not believe that parts of it can be
> >chopped and changed arbitrarily without serious
> >contradictions. For instance I do not think that
> >Transhumanism can be separated from Libertarianism
> or
> >visa versa. Both provide the natural logical
> support
> >for the other."
> snip
> My sympathies are with you, but I don't think you
> can make a logical
> connection between Transhumanism and Libertarianism.

Well, I disagree. I think that at root the
fundamental 'explanatory' principles of reality form a
unified whole which encompasses metaphysics,
epistemology, ethics and politics. Popper's
epistemology, when sufficiently extended into
Pan-Critical Rationalism is a good approximation to
the Bayesian ideal capable of dealing with ALL aspects
of reality. I think reason truly is all encompassing.
 Reason can even *partially* (but not entirely) tell
us what to value. I think many modern philosophers
and scientists realize this, but they're too scared to
say it. They're 'keeping their heads down' and
staying out of ethics and politics for pragmatic

> Transhumanism is a view of a future with lots of
> technologically derived
> changes in it, up to and including fundamental
> changes in humans. It is
> rooted in reasonable extrapolations of technical
> progress. I was at least
> an observer as the aspects of the transhumanism view
> of our future developed.
> Libertarianism is a political philosophy about
> proper/ideal relation of
> humans to each other. Heinlein was the biggest
> political/philosophical
> influence in my formative years so you have to rate
> me as at least as a
> lower case libertarian.
> Unfortunately, libertarianism, especially
> "Libertarianism" is rooted in
> air--as are all political philosophies. Infection
> with the Libertarianism
> meme set too often results in uncompromising people
> with very poor
> political skills. The only people worse off are the
> Objectivists/Randroids. I think I know why if you
> are interested.

Well, there are 'degrees' of Libertarianism. Of
course any political philosophy has its crack-pots and
extremist elements. It's more accurate to say that
I'm a 'Semi-Libertarian'. I don't think individual
rights are an absolute. I subscribe to the
Utilitarian approach of people like Richard Epstein.
And that's the sensible position that most moderates
seem to come around to.

Take out the anarchist extremists and crack-pots and
moderate the movement somewhat and there's a good
viable politics there.

> I remember years and years ago hearing an
> Objectivist rant that if offered
> such a choice, a person should choose to save their
> life over that of the
> rest of humanity. It felt really wrong but it was a
> number of years before
> I understood Hamilton's inclusive fitness and was
> able to say *why* it felt
> wrong.

Be careful not to equate Libertarianism with
Objectivism. Thankfully, most Libertarians are not

I spent quite a few months visiting an NZ Objectivist
web-site, trying to persuade Objectivists there to
look into Transhumanism, Bayesian reasoning and
altruism but it was hopeless. They just spat bile at
me. I've now totally given up on those guys. They're
rather like religious fundamentalists actually. I'm
gonna steer well clear of those idiots from now on.

I did used to toy with egoism as a viable ethical
theory but I've rejected it now. I think pure egoism
is just as flawed as pure altruism. I finally settled
on good old Utilitarianism with a mixture of altruism
and egoism.

> The most accepted transhumanist meme set includes
> evolutionary
> psychology. If someone wants a political philosophy
> to go along with
> transhumanism, they really should think about
> basing it on EP at least up
> to the point we abandon human mental configuration.

Yup, I agree with you there. That's why in my
'platform' I said:

"So Good and Evil are not objective properties of
reality in the same way that mathematical or physical
facts are, since they are in part created by the
choices that humans make. But the choices that people
make will be heavily influenced by human nature
itself. Minds require brains shaped by our biological
heritage. Evolutionary psychology studies how human
morals stem from the forces of biological evolution."

"But morality is not wholly relative. As explained,
the nature of a mind will be heavily influenced by its
physical substrate. In humans that is our biological
evolutionary heritage."

"There should exist general characteristics that
virtually all rational beings (like humans) have in
common, emerging from their basic natures."

> Memetics is really rooted in EP and transhumans tend
> to be up on memetics
> as well. You might be amused that the "meme about
> memes" set off a major
> allergic reaction among Libertarians back in the
> 80s.
> If you want the story, it is in a dozen postings on
> the memetics list. If
> there is interest I could condense it and post it
> here as a bit of
> historical trivia.

I haven't heard the story. Post a little about it
here if you want.

> From your next post down
> >The one thing that's likely to trip up Sing Inst
> is
> >their over emphasis on 'altruism'. Most of the
> people
> >who run around being 'altruistic' get a knife in
> the
> >back for their troubles. Altruism is gonna be
> Eli's
> >down-fall if he's not careful. Because the Sing
> Int
> >guys are so benign I think they tend to make the
> >mistake of thinking that other people are more
> benign
> >than they actually are.
> I hope Eliezer has enough insight into both his own
> motivations and those
> of other people to keep him and the Institute out of
> trouble. If you have
> not read _Evolution of Cooperation_ by Robert
> Axelrod, you should.
> Keith Henson

Haven't read it fully, but may have skimmed it.

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