Re: [sl4] Re: Property rights

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Fri Jul 11 2008 - 04:44:42 MDT

> Most people who act in a way that they consider completely moral won't
> want to change anything. If they have a twinge of guilt about
> something then they are more likely to modify their minds so that
> their behaviour changes in a way that will diminish the guilt, or not
> modify themselves at all, rather than the alternative solution of
> simply removing the guilt.


> And while it is easy enough to
> think of situations where guilt can push someone in the direction of
> greater evil, for example jihadist who feels guilty because he is
> squeamish about killing infidels, I still think that in the majority
> of cases guilt would tend to drive people to modify themselves in
> order to behave better, not worse; "better" and "worse" being loosely
> defined as what the majority of people would undestand by those terms.

The vatican would make itself more dogmatic on the condom issue...
Anti-free traders would live up to their beliefs and become more vocal
about them... anyone in a semi-repressive environment (even a
repressive family environment) would be pressured to make the "right"
modification to their mental make-ups... companies would only offer
jobs to those who can prove they have modified to unswerving

The "better" or "worse" of the individual is practically irrelevant
compared with the format they express that feeling. A psychopathic
killer serving his country loyaly on the battlefield is much better
than the devout, considerate, kindly, compassionate bishop denying
condoms to africans, or the aid worker pushing well-meaning but
erroneous solutions on the populations.

The biger problem is that people's beliefs in how the world works is
only tangentially related to reality. Self modification will increase
this gap, not diminish it; we may soon see the rise of the dogmatisms,
in a much more potent form.

> I expect there would be great pressure for people to conform to some
> general standard of moral behaviour. There is such pressure today, but
> we all reluctantly acknowledge that there will be people who behave in
> antisocial ways because, without getting into a whole discussion about
> free will, they can't help it. This excuse won't count for much if
> anyone can easily change their nature to whatever they want.

But based on what most people think today, once of the first things
they'll do is make themselves less worried about the opinions of
others. Few people value conformity to "whole human population", so
conformity impulses will be the first ones out the window, replaced by
rabbid individuals or tightly knit opposing groups.

The more I think about it, the less attractive uncontrolled
self-modification sounds :-)


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:01:03 MDT