Re: Ethics

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2005 - 22:17:56 MST

 --- Phil Goetz <> wrote:

> 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.

May be, but I think it's a waste of time to speculate
on that (not to mention the fact that you'll probably
come to the attention of the CIA if you go on about it
too much). Best leave it to the transhumans.

> 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.

Rights are not all or nothing. There are *degrees* of
rights. We can broaden the circle to include all
mammals without granting them the same degree of
rights that we grant to people. Read up on
'Personhood' ethics (which is probably the most
popualr ethical system among transhumanists). The
idea is we assign rights based on the *degree* of
sentience present. So entities get rights based on
their degree of cognitive abilities. So is not
actually that much different to what happens now:
small children for instance, have *some* rights, but
not the same *degree* of rights that adults have. For
instance small children can't drive, own a gun, vote
etc. But as their cognitive abilities improve, they
are gradually given more and more rights.

So so it would be with a transhuman society. It is
not the case that humans would *lose* any rights. it
is simply the case that the transhumans would have
*more* rights. But hopefully, they would offer all of
us the opportunaty to upgrade ourselves, then we could
choose to take on these extra rights (just like
children get to take on adult rights when they grow


Find local movie times and trailers on Yahoo! Movies.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:50 MDT