[extropy-chat] SI morality

Harvey Newstrom mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Sat Apr 17 17:09:36 UTC 2004

On Saturday, April 17, 2004, at 09:52 am, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> 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.

You keep reminding us of this, but I have yet to see any explanation as 
to how nuking Afghanistan could be rational.  How is killing a 
magnitude greater number of innocent people in response to our smaller 
number of innocent people rational?  How is a massive nuke sweep of a 
country any more likely to hit Osama, since we don't know where he is 
or when he left Afghanistan?  How will the aftermath of a nuclear war 
going to cost less in lives, dollars, or effort?  I don't see how your 
"solution" solves anything better than the current "solution".  Both 
seem to be a waste of lives with no strong likelihood of success.

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

It seems like you are doing just that.  Killing innocents to get what 
you want is similar to what terrorists advocate.

> 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).

There is no way that a false premise accepted on faith with no proof, 
evidence, logic, or testability can be called rational.  You are using 
an odd definition of the word.  An example of a rational false premise 
would be if several scientific experiments seem to indicate a fact 
which is then accepted, and later we find out that all the experiments 
were flawed.  It was rational to believe in them at the time, even 
though they turned out to be wrong.

>   That is the problem we need to deal
> with here -- *when* are rational arguments based on invalid premises.

When the premise is unfalsifiable, untestable, or unobservable.  This 
is an invalid premise.  It may turn out to be true, but it was not 
valid to assume so.  You may roll dice to pick lottery numbers, and 
those numbers just might win, but it would be invalid to assume this as 
a premise that they will win.  Whether they win or not has no bearing 
on whether the original premise was sound, or whether the process was 

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<HarveyNewstrom.com> <Newstaff.com>

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