X-Message-Number: 15197
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 20:37:28 -0800
From: Lee Corbin <>
Subject: Re: To Be or Not to Be

Mike Perry wrote in #15187
>I don't agree that making a person rescues that person from nonexistence.
>The multiverse idea, to which I subscribe, provides that any given person,
>instantiated in some finite construct, *must* come into existence over and
>over, and this must follow no matter what any one person or persons may do
>either for or against. Of course I can feel gratitude to my parents for the
>hard work they did in giving rise to and raising me. But I feel no moral
>obligation to follow in their footsteps. I can contribute in other ways to
>what I see, overall, as a good thing, namely, the human community, which I
>hope to see develop into a community of immortals.

I probably agree, if you want to utilize a strict meaning of "exist".

But if you consider concrete cases, then your argument falls to the
ground.  Suppose for the purposes of illustration that a young man
and woman are intending to have a large family, but some wacko 
population control advocate talks them out of it.  The woman's
father then speaks to them as follows:

"Suppose that you do go ahead and have six children.  Try as hard
as you can to imagine these people.  Such fine young people as you
are most likely to have children that will richly enjoy and appreciate
life.  Does the ghost of Christmas future have to come and take you
to the future where you meet these children?  Imagine them laughing,
living, and loving, and now imagine them fading away because you
chose not to have them."

The grandfather is exactly right.  A whole lot of bad decisions are

made because people do not have the imagination to see the probable
future. (I hardly need remind a cryonicist of this!)  If a potential
murderer could only see the subsequent funeral that he is going to
cause to take place---the grieveing parents, the grieving children
and spouse---in many cases he would think twice.

The same goes with people living or not living.  Cryonicists 
especially have the ability to see that life is better than
death---always better, in fact, except in those extremely
rare cases where life is not worth living.

And to invoke the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics to 
rationalize that some people might as well not be born (here)
is mere sophistry.  It's an after the fact rationalization that
is slightly akin to people saying, "well, that people or those
people should never have been born".

Now, I am NOT saying that failing to conceive children is in any
way tantamount to murder.  That would be an egregious misuse of
the term, much as many pro-life people misuse the term with
regard to abortion.  "Murder" has the sematic links that it has
for very good reasons: to name a few, we must guarantee citizens
the right to remain unmolested by others; laws exist in every
society to protect people from murder; for one citizen to take
the life of another clearly violates the golden rule.  Neither
abortion nor "failing to conceive" fits these.

>Not creating a life is not as bad as destroying one that is
>already here, assuming we are talking about a sentient creature.

We agree, for the reasons that I have just given.  But it is 
still a better universe that has life than one that does not,
it is still a better world that has many people than one that
does not.  If you doubt this, I recommend you read Dominic
LaPierre's "The City of Joy".  He illustrates (for those of us,
like me and like almost everyone, who has inadequate imagination),
that the lives of even the poorest of the poor in Calcutta are
very rich and well worth living.

(Some rich Americans cannot stand the though of being that poor
and mistakenly believe that anyone that poor must be suffering
the way that they would suffer.  This mistake is partly, but not
entirely, due to sheer arrogance.  To be sure, this does not
imply in any way that these peoples lives cannot be radically
improved.  All our lives can be radically improved.  See
http://www.hedweb.com )

>(Not all abortions are of sentient creatures, however.) If my
>parents hadn't made me, yes, I wouldn't be here, but I would,
>once again, be somplace else, if the multiverse idea is correct.

This violates the Many Worlds Normalization Principle.  In 
particular, if some dreadful person had got to your parents and
persuaded them not to have children, or if your mother was struck
by a car and could not conceive, it would be the worse for you in
many, many worlds.  In fact, it would be the worse for all of us.

Lee Corbin

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