Re: Final draft of my philosophical platform now on line

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon Aug 16 2004 - 17:48:12 MDT

At 06:16 PM 16/08/04 +1200, you wrote:
> --- 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.

We already know what we value. But to understand *why* we value certain
things you have to view the world from a genes "viewpoint."

>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

And what is that based on?

>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.

If that is the case, then why are libertarian policies not the norm?

> > 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.

Yep. You were trying to communicate with minds taken over by
Objectivist/Rand cult.

> 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.

It is very much worth while trying to generalize your experience. I have
not only the scientology cult as a sample, but the L5 Society (which
certainly had cult aspects to it).

>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.

As long as you are not hung up on Utilitarianism with a capital U, you
might consider taking a look at evolutionary psychology as a foundation
upon which to base reasoning about human motivations, drives, psychological
traits, behavioral switches and the like. I suspect you will come to much
the same conclusions, but based on a logical extension up from evolutionary
biology. (Which is of course based at the root on chemistry, which is
based on physics.)

> > 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."

You might consider taking this seriously. I am far from the final word on
this subject, but you might want to look at the first link for sex drugs
cults for a start.

> > 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.

It will take a bit of effort since it was spread over more than a dozen
posting on the memetics list.

> > 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.

If you have, you should remember that tit for tat was found to the most
robust strategy.

Keith Henson

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