[extropy-chat] What the #$?! are rights anyway?

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Fri Jun 16 22:17:28 UTC 2006

On Fri, Jun 16, 2006 at 02:47:16PM -0700, The Avantguardian wrote:

> I am hoping that there might be something superior to
> social contract theory. Especially since as you say it
> does not protect minorities from majorities. Also it
> does not speak to the cause of individuals apart from
> society. What if for example we are speaking of a
> hermit? Or a unique non-human entity (the first AGI or

Millennia of thought have failed to come up with a superior alternative;
in fact, there seems to be a marked convergence to social contract or
utilitarianism among materialists, and with the latter there's the
question of one why should care about everyone else's utility.

Your questions to Amara about the auriferous hermit or the uploadphilic
AI are similar to how I gave up on natural rights.  (In my case it was
"how can I convince a Nazi they're wrong?")  Not only do I see no
answer, I fail to see how absolute rights can be relevant.  Say someone
proves that the hermit has a right to the gold -- so what?  What
prevents you from killing him anyway?  What prevents the AI from
uploading Amara no matter what argument she makes?  Nothing.

Rights without consequences seem pointless.  Note that theistic
doctrines promised consequences, even if those were vague or untestable:
Heaven, Hell, karma, general forture or misfortune.  Having stripped
away the supernatural, naturalists have to back up the rights they
assert by real force or incentives.

> ET)? Is the fact that ET is not part of "society" mean
> that we can dissect him?

Of course we *can*.  Do we want to?  Do we want to be that kind of
people, or tell our children we did that, or hide that sort of thing as
a secret?  Do we fear he came from a greater society which might get
pissed off if it finds out?

-xx- Damien X-) 

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