Re: [sl4] Re: Property rights

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Wed Jul 09 2008 - 03:53:05 MDT

2008/7/9 Lee Corbin <>:

>> I agree with this appraisal, but I think the problem is at bottom due
>> to human psychology rather than particular cultural and historical
>> factors. Utopian projects will fail because they don't take into
>> account the fact that people are greedy, lazy, dishonest and
>> inconsiderate. Few people *want* to be this way, but they can't help
>> it. Like drug addiction, they know that it's bad and they keep doing
>> it anyway because it makes them feel good.
> Not only that, but it's in their *immediate* (if not long term)
> interest to continue to "be practical". If everyone else around
> you is taking bribes, and those who do not get beaten up, it's
> just easier to go with the flow. My own martyrdom capacity,
> for example, is extremely limited.
>> but if they could feel just as good doing something that in their
>> ideal world they consider positive, why wouldn't they? There
>> is huge pressure for people to be good even now that being
>> good is often difficult and being bad can be so tempting: how
>> much greater would the pressure be if it were just a
>> trivial exercise to make good more attractive than bad?
> But take even very honest, good, and idealistic politicians
> today in some country with a long history. (Italian history
> is twice as long as American history, for one example, and
> New York history is twice as long as California history.)
> Those new politicians *must* learn the system, *must*
> learn to compromise their principles, and *must* learn
> to exchange morally dubious favors.

But everyone can see that it's morally dubious, even those who profit
from it. If this weren't so then no-one would make efforts to conceal
it and, by definition, it wouldn't be corruption. So there is a core
of ethical principles common to almost everyone, even those who
routinely flout them. I speculate that given this, the free
availability of mind modification (changing one's own desires,
including second and higher order desires) would bring about a
fundamental change in society even if all else remained equal, and
that this would be a change for the better. We can't be certain what
would happen: that would be like trying to foresee modern financial
markets before the concept of money had ever been tried. In any case,
it is a very interesting and important idea which as far as I am aware
has received no more than passing consideration in either fiction or

Stathis Papaioannou

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