[extropy-chat] SI morality

Robert J. Bradbury bradbury at aeiveos.com
Sat Apr 17 13:52:22 UTC 2004

On Sat, 17 Apr 2004, Paul Bridger wrote:

> Paul carbone wrote:
> >>>> Paul Bridger wrote:
> >>>>> I'm interested: have people on this list speculated much about the
> >>>>> morality of a purely rational intelligence?
> >
> > While it appears thus far that being rational in thought and deed is
> > effective and important, is it really rational to attempt to be
> > completely rational?
> >
> I don't understand how attempting to be "completely rational" could be
> anything other than a rational choice. Rationality is self-affirming -
> if your core value is rationality (as opposed to faith) then clearly
> being completely rational is better than being incompletely rational.

We have been over parts of this previously.  Rational does not equal moral.
I was raked over the coals for suggesting the proper response to 911 was
to nuke Afghanistan.  Rational (I was perhaps exercising my Vulcan side)
but not moral.  Net result 2+ years later we are *still* looking for
Osama at who knows what cost.

The problem I have with "complete rationality" is that it is easily
used to justify terrorist actions (bombers, land grabs, etc.).

An argument may be completely rational -- but may be based on false
premises.  For example a premise that Jews were granted *all*
of Israel/Palestine (by God).  That is the problem we need to deal
with here -- *when* are rational arguments based on invalid premises.
Secondarily when one is dealing with invalid premises how does one assert
that?  It seems like it is reasonable for anyone to assert that my premises
are as valid as yours unless one can claim higher ground with respect
to the superiority of the validation of ones premises.  If one is
dealing with people uneducated in these methods of evaluation then
such asserations are useless.

If I claim that gravity is a physical force that draws things
towards greater masses I can drop a tennis ball and demonstrate
it for anyone to see.  If I claim that Christ could manage to
turn 5 loaves of bread into enough to feed 5000 people (John 6:1-15)
without invoking nanotechnology I am on somewhat swampy ground.
(And even with nanotechnology I may be somewhat doubtful.)
But most people are willing to accept the premises based on
belief or faith rather than on evidence that the premises are

That is a fundamental problem for extropianism.

With regard to Paul's question.  You have to view the fact that
rational argument, behavior, etc. has a greater value than the
inverse.  If one believes from a rational perspective that
greater amounts of information, understanding, insight, etc.
is reasonable (and an extropic perspective) then the pursuit of
rational thought (and proven assertions on which that is based)
is entirely reasonable.  If one does not believe in and support
those things then it would seem to me that one might as well
say "screw it all" and chaos is the result.  I would suggest
that lifespans are significantly shorter in a reality where
chaos prevails rather than a system of rational thought and
well supported assertions.


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