Finding the Morality Pill Hard to Swallow

After a week of talking about transhumanism, brain-hacking, and the persistence of identity, I couldn't pass up a chance to comment on Brian Appleyard's slam on using science to improve people's moral character. Moral enhancement cannot be a scientific project because neither term has any measurable meaning that can be universalised. Rather, it is an ideological project which would hand power to an oligarchy of neuropharmacologists who would be permitted to decide that somebody – probably them – … [Read more...]

Simulated Ethics and Brainmodding

It's a week of tough questions about transhumanism.  After reading my post on moral hazard for uploaded humans, Gilbert asked: OK, so people value other people based on some kind of proximity function. In practice they instinctively use some evaluation procedure that generalizes badly to modern situations (where interactions can be more remote) and even worse* to uploads. Perhaps a bit like different polynomials may be functionally identical on some finite fields but not on others so that using … [Read more...]

Hoist on my own (Virtual) Petard?

Last week, I was ragging on people who deny meaning in this life or put all their focus on a questionable world to come, and deisach wondered in the comments if I might havc neglected the beam in my own eye: "the idea of enlightenment as total disregard for the world you live in"May I ask, how does this apply to your support for transhumanism (as I think you said you support it)?Pardon me if my notion is the clichéd notion that you do not hold, but how is your hypothetical computer … [Read more...]

Natural Death Black Boxes

I warned commenters against turning the Soup Nazi Approach to Sex post into an abortion debate. Any free-ranging discussion of abortion tends to fail; I've only had productive conversations when I spend a lot of time narrowing the focus of a conversation and screening off anything else. I’m not surprised to see the discussion that broke out entering a tailspin, but I think there’s something to be gleaned from the wreckage.I’m certainly not recapping the whole thread, so I picked the quote bel … [Read more...]

Why Bother Genemodding?

Flesh to fiber-optic interface from Battlestar GalacticaAlex Knapp likes to kick around transhumanist problems at Forbes, and he’s concluded genetic engineering will almost certainly result in “horrific moral atrocities.” Simply put: The “failed prototypes” are people. People who have to grow up and live with the consequences of the inevitable mistakes that will be made in the process of experimenting. Assuming, of course, they can physically live with those consequences at all.And t … [Read more...]

Dualism and Descartes’s Demon

At the National Catholic Register, Frank Cronin has written a post titled, “Atheism, Quidditch, and the Truth.” So that was enough linkbait alone to have me itching to write a post, but then, just to sweeten the deal, the whole thing turns out to be about dualism (which gives me a good opening to talk transhumanism). So let’s get going.The Harry Potter reference in the title looks like it’s just there for the search engines, since he uses Quidditch to lead in to his main theme: disting … [Read more...]

Natural vs Normative

I appreciate the Christians weighing in on why they oppose gay marriage and trying to explain how they think people are harmed. One genre of response has turned up in thread and is fairly widespread, so I’ll try to address it. Anonymous wrote: Many people are wondering why infertile heterosexual marriages are considered moral and praise worthy while homosexual "marriages" are not. The reason is that in an infertile heterosexual marriage the sexual organs are, at least, being used for the p … [Read more...]