Re: Ethics

From: Phil Goetz (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2005 - 07:37:22 MST

--- Thomas Buckner <> wrote:

> So what if the human
> species bifurcates? Sentient beings have
> inalienable rights. If you wish to suggest that
> it could become "no longer feasible to maintain
> moral relations between them" I think you would
> be under the obligation to explain how, or why
> that could happen. The ethical approach would be
> to widen the circle again, to include all
> sentient beings, and expect them to behave
> ethically also. It's the social contract, baby,
> yeaaah!

Current ethical systems are based on interactions
between agents with equal rights. This will not work
when the agents have vastly dissimilar needs,
intelligences, and inclinations. Imagine trying to
run a democracy in a population in which the
standard deviation of IQ was 50 points. The smart
people actually making the decisions would not be
able to explain their reasons to the populace, and
would have to use deception and manipulation for
everything they did. Democracy would be a joke.
Democracy would be evolutionarily unstable in
such an environment; a new power structure would
have to arise with unequal rights.

Suppose that we widened the circle to include all
mammals. We would not be able to build any new
buildings, because that would be taking habitat
from other animals. We would have to stop using
cars, which kill many mammals. We would have to
become vegans. We would not be able to ride horses,
or keep dogs as pets, or even use seeing-eye dogs.
Our nation would immediately be bankrupted by the
popular vote to spend all our money on a public
handout of liv-a-snaps. You get the picture.
That's the sort of society you're talking about.
The variety of transhumans could be as great as
the variety of mammals.

The notion of "sentience", when closely examined,
turns out to mean nothing other than "human",
so it is not a useful qualification.

- Phil G.

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