[extropy-chat] Extinctions

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Sat Jun 10 15:55:35 UTC 2006

Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
>> So, how do we fix it?
> ### So why bother fixing it?

As I see it in my personal value system, diversity of complex, contingent
systems have an aesthetic (if not moral) value. Even if a species of bug
isn't useful in any human sense it is still valuable. It is contingent:
re-run evolution and you will not get it again, so removing it will mean
an irreversible loss of information. Sure, we could make our own
replacement species, but that would merely make it contingent upon our
human culture - it would be like another piece of music, not a composer.

> I think that Nature shall be the servant of Man (and Woman). When
> calls are made to preserve species for their own sake at substantial
> cost to humans, it means a reversal of this relationship, which I find
> to be quite odious.

I regard humanity as co-creators with nature. Or maybe (to link with the
previous metaphor), as partners in a musical jam session. We of course
need to have subsystems of the ecosystem that "work for us" and becoming
slaves to some imagined natural order is very politically and
philosophically bad, but the border between the human and non-human is
fairly blurred. And there is no need to keep a sharp line between them if
we ask ourselves what particular goals we (and other systems) are aiming
for rather than take an all-or-nothing approach saying human goals OK,
nonhuman goals not OK.

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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