X-Message-Number: 2824
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 94 14:33:17 EDT
Subject: CRYONICS Donaldson & values

Thanks again to Thomas Donaldson for showing where my exposition of values
failed in clarity.  In part, this may be due to the excerpted and abbreviated
nature of the Net version, but still each discussion should be clear in
itself. Let me try to meet Thomas'
objections--if I can in another short space:

First, any individual's values pertain to HIS overall satisfaction, no one
else's. It is not PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE to be motivated by anything other than
self interest, since the only thing that can ever matter to
anyone--directly--is what goes on in his own head. (We leave out of account
tenuous possibilities such as direct mental interactions between individuals
etc.) The individual can, of course, estimate values from the viewpoint of
other people, or from the viewpoint of a social entity such as a state or a
church, but this is only to help him decide where his own best overall
interests lie. Obviously our common interests affect my individual interest,

Thomas says one good postulate would be that  "...all other people have worth
only insofar as they have worth to me."  That is a crude and unpleasant way
of putting it, but factual from the standpoint of the individual--any
individual, including those who would view the statement with horror. (Again
I note that each individual, and each institution, has its own agenda and
values, and none exists in isolation; nevertheless, nothing is or can be
INTRINSICALLY important to you except your own personal welfare.)

Second, how do we decide which values are valid? This comes in two parts.
Part One is just logical: a valid value system must be internally consistent,
and the derived values--those obtained by calculating probable results of
policies--must be based on correct reasoning and mathematics. This is
something that, to a considerable extent, we can handle right now, and it
yields results often at variance with traditional values.

Part Two is biological, and we need more experimental and theoretical
information before we can put it to good use. We need to know the anatomy and
physiology of the Self Circuit; we need to know which values are truly basic
and which derived; we need to  know the mechanisms by which a derived valued
acquires apparently autonomous status, and so on. How is music appreciation
or art appreciation or patriotism translated into thrilling feelings? To what
extent can we edit values without unacceptable change in the individual? And
so on. 

In other words, if this viewpoint were adopted, then we could immediately
accomplish some beneficial changes in personal strategies, and could also
suggest lines of research that should ultimately allow much more.

As a final note, I reiterate that  memory is not necessarily the be-all and
end-all of survival. It is very important certainly, but "you" could probably
survive with virtually zero memory (other than "read-in" memory) of  the
details of your previous life. 

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