[extropy-chat] Books: Harris; Religion and Reason

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Thu Jan 12 01:31:15 UTC 2006

On 1/12/06, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> When Robert has proposed destroying some portion of that which he very
> publicly and very obviously values, he was trying to promote
> intelligent debate about a certain class of decision-making that is
> very difficult for many people to even consider, let alone decide.
> Sometimes a military leader is faced with the difficult choice of
> sacrificing some of his troops in order to save the rest.  Sometimes
> an individual will sacrifice himself to allow others to survive in an
> overloaded lifeboat.  Sometimes a surgeon will advise a patient to
> undergo radical amputation in order to have a chance at life.
> Sometimes a politician will risk loss of popularity in order to
> contribute to a greater good.
> And too often people recoil in moral repugnance for lack of seeing the
> bigger picture.

I think what you say is true in general terms, but I don't think the reason
people (myself included) recoiled in moral repugnance at Robert's proposals
was for lack of seeing the bigger picture.

Yes, there are situations where one needs to make unpleasant decisions, and
yes, nuclear weapons for example do have a valid role as a second strike arm
for deterrence, and one could hold a debate about the exact circumstances
under which their use would be appropriate (though I don't propose to engage
in such a debate here, because I think it would be likely to slide into one
of those acrimonious arguments about contemporary politics that generate
more heat than light).

But that is very different from using them for casual pre-emptive genocide,
and that is the proposal that was unanimously reviled.

- Russell
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