X-Message-Number: 16860
Subject: Re: Why beings of the future WILL reanimate us.
Date: Tue,  3 Jul 2001 16:54:35 -0700 (PDT)
From:  (Peter C. McCluskey)

  (david pizer) writes:

>The new way of valuing the worth of a thing is to consider it's interests.
>This is not the same as considering it's utility or rights as was used in
>the past.  When we consider the interests of persons of another race, sex,
>religion, or sexual preference, we consider what *kind* of interests these
>persons have.  To consider a person's (or an animal's) interests we don't
>ask if it can help us, or if it can reason.  The aspect that determines if
>a thing has interests is if it can be benefited or harmed.

 I wish I could believe people were switching to such an ethical system,
but the evidence for this hypothesis appears rather weak. It looks to me
like people are broadening their notion of whose interests matter only
as interactions with those beings makes it in people's self-interest to
be seen as caring about those beings. Logical arguments by themselves
show no signs that they are about to convince people to respect the
interests of ants. (If the effort required to value the interests of
ants becomes low enough, I wouldn't be surprised to see people change
their attitudes towards ants in order to show off their altruism).
 I'm currently in the middle of reading an impressive book, The Biology
of Moral Systems, which seems to do a good job of explaining ethical
systems by showing how it has been in people's self-interest to adopt
increasingly sophisticated ethics (and to claim that those ethics are
based on something better than self-interest).
 Do you have clear evidence that people are adopting a consistent ethical
system that values everything's interests? Or an argument that they
ought to?

  (david pizer) writes:
>Message #16832
>What I am struggling to understand and develop further is an understanding
>of value or worth that is indendent of everything else - if there is such a
>thing.  I am having trouble putting together the words "inherent" and "value."

 People have been attempting this for a long time, and as far as I can tell,
the people who have thought most clearly about this (such as Austrian
economists) have concluded that a concept of inherent value can't be made
to correspond with the way people use the term value as well as the
subjective theory of value does. Attempts to use an absolute theory of
value in economics generally produce harmfull policies such as wage and
price controls.

>An example that comes to mind is, perhaps, a universe that is not
>accessable from the outside that has the answers to all mathematical
>theorms and nothing else in it.  In other words it just has some wonderful
>information in it but no one to receive that information.  Is that universe
>valuable?  Valuable in itself, not to any person?  If you think information

 I don't think information is valuable unless it is available to a valuer.

>*The power of the inherent value argument comes from the position, that if
>someone denies this, he/she is saying his/her own life has only conditional
>value, if it has any value at all.*  I think we would all like to think of
>our lives as more than that.  Our lives are more valuable if they have
>absolute value.

 I claim that my life has value because I and/or my acquantances value it.
Since virtually any human life is valued by someone, it is usually a harmless
simplification to treat lives as if they had absolute value.
 Are there any practical advantages to claiming that a life is valuable
when nobody values it?
Peter McCluskey          | Fed up with democracy's problems? Examine Futarchy:
http://www.rahul.net/pcm | http://hanson.gmu.edu/futarchy.pdf or .ps

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