[extropy-chat] The Urge for Self Preservation (was Criticizing One's Own Goals---Rational?)

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Tue Dec 12 17:01:12 UTC 2006

On 12/11/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> I had written
> > > The remainder here seems unproblematical, except for the
> > > remark about "many-worlds".  I would demur from the claim
> > > that the *urge* for self-preservation is in any way itself
> > > affected.  What is changed for one is the realization that self-
> > > preservation may be achieved in non-obvious or non-customary
> > > ways.
> and Rafal responds
> > ### Well, there are some changes to the real-world meaning of
> > self-preservation as soon as you start messing with your definition of
> > self. If you decide that your copy is still self, the behavioral
> > correlates of self-preservation may change dramatically. In certain
> > hypothetical situations you may use your .45 to destroy the
> > instantiation of self that is directly controlling the movements of
> > the arm holding the gun, that is, you may blow your brains out, if
> > necessary to preserve yourself, instantiated in your copies. You and I
> > would do it, but people with other definitions of self would not.
> Thank you for the cogent description:  yes indeed, the raw behavioral
> correlates, as you call them, indeed do change just as you say. An instance
> of someone who has suddenly become convinced that copies are selves
> may blow its brains out for suitable reward to himself in the other instances.
> But my point above was that the *urge* to self-preservation does not
> seem to be affected by whether there are copies or not, or whether MWI
> is considered true.  It might only appear to the uninitiated that a person
> seemed to value his life less;  that bystander would simply be failing to
> realize that the instance itself---in the view of that person---was hardly
> all there was to that person.

### But what if somebody changes his definition of self to include not
only reasonably similar copies but also copies that diverged
significantly? What if this leads to a situation where you can't
anymore tell who is a copy and who is just another guy, even in
principle, so you are willing to blow your brains out to save anybody?

If your operational concept of self (i.e. all that you treat as self)
is sufficiently modified, bystanders who do not share your concept of
self may say you no longer have the urge for self-preservation, and
that you are perhaps crazy, or worse, an altruist :)


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