Re: [sl4] Re: Property rights

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Tue Jul 08 2008 - 09:17:40 MDT

2008/7/8 BillK <>:

> The problem is not 'deriving satisfaction'.
> If that was the problem, let's just derive satisfaction by itself and
> forget about the 'doing stuff' bit.
> The problem is competitive gaining of power and resources.

A person engages in some behaviour such as the pursuit of power and
resources because he expects to get some reward from it. This reward
may have several components: a warm inner glow from being top dog, a
feeling of security, the opportunity to torture his enemies, whatever.
Some components of the reward relate to the goal being considered
intrinsically worthwhile while others are simply ends in themselves.
The point of using drugs of dependence is usually just to get the
pleasant feeling, and the behaviour itself has no intrinsic value. The
point of going to the dentist is that it is considered desirable to
have good teeth, and the experience of having a filling is usually not
in itself enjoyable.

If the person pursuing power and resources considers that
intrinsically worthwhile, he won't modify his mind to get the same
reward for nothing, since that would lead him away from his goal. If
he considers another activity even more intrinsically worthwhile, but
would in his natural state rather not pursue it because its net reward
is less, then he would modify his mind to make that activity more
rewarding. For example, if he thinks using his acquired wealth for
philanthropic purposes would be better than than using it for
self-indulgent sensual pleasure, but philanthropy isn't as much fun,
then he could modify his mind so that philanthropy is *more* fun.

Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but I like to think that if mind
modification were freely available the net effect from people choosing
to make themselves better would outweigh the effect from people
choosing to make themselves worse. There might still be a hard core of
bad people, but there would be fewer of them, and they would be easier
to resist.

Stathis Papaioannou

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