Imagine Farmer Rights

Yesterday I criticized proposals by George Dvorsky and Anders Sandberg to give rights to ems by saying that random rights are bad. That is, rights limit options, which is usually bad, so those who argue for specific rights should offer specific reasons why the rights they propose are exceptional cases where limiting options helps strategically. I illustrated this principle with the example of a diner’s bill of rights.

One possible counter argument is that these proposed em rights are not random; they tend to ensure ems can keep having stuff most of us now have and like. I agree that their proposals do fit this pattern. But the issue is whether rights are random with respect to the set of cases where strategic gains come by limiting options. Do we have reasons to think that strategic benefits tend to come from giving ems the right to preserve industry era lifestyle features?

To help us think about this, I suggest we consider whether we industry era folks would benefit had farmer era folks imposed farmer rights, i.e., rights to ensure that industry era folks could keep things most farmers had and liked. For example, imagine we today had “farmer rights” to:

  1. Work in the open with fresh air and sun.
  2. See how all  food is grown and prepared.
  3. Nights outside are usually quiet and dark.
  4. Quickly get to a mile-long all-nature walk.
  5. All one meets are folks one knows, or known by them.
  6. Easily take apart devices, to see materials, mechanisms.
  7. Authorities with clear answers on cosmology, morality.
  8. Severe punishment of heretics who contradict authorities.
  9. Prior generations quickly make room for new generations.
  10. Rule by a king of our ethnicity, with clear inheritance.
  11. Visible deference from nearby authority-declared inferiors.
  12. More?

Would our lives today be better or worse because of such rights?

Added: I expect to hear this response:

Farmer era folks were wrong about what lifestyles help humans flourish, while we industry era folks are right. This is why their rights would have been bad for us, but our rights would be good for ems.

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  • Sewing-Machine

    You are suggesting that past folks would disapprove of the way modern folks live and are treated. If we disapprove of the way future folks might live or might be treated, why shouldn’t we try to stop it? If past folks were not successful at ushering in a present era that they approve of, we can try to learn from their mistakes even if we don’t share their goals.

    • http://overcomingbias.com RobinHanson

      Wow, instant verification of my prediction!

      • Siddharth

        Wait. What Sewing-Machine said is not at all your prediction. Sewing-Machine is simply saying that every generation wants to propagate its values. Farmers tried and failed. And now we’ll try and maybe fail or succeed. And why shouldn’t we try, because every other generation did so. He’s making no claims about the intrinsic rightness of our values. (I personally don’t agree with Sewing-Machine.)

      • Sewing-Machine

        Is Robin’s prediction that people will view the progression from farmer values, to modern values, to em values as moral progress followed by moral decline?

        Another view, possibly Robin’s, is that both steps in the progression represent moral progress.

        A third view is that both steps in the progression represent moral decline. I think most farmer-era folks would take this view.

        Does anybody take the fourth view, decline followed by progress?

      • IMASBA

        These views are too simplistic. There are “rights” that we had as hunter-gatherers, lost as farmers and we now have again, there are also rights we have that come from the farmer era or even the hunter-gatherer era. We are making progress figuring out which rights are the most rational and/or compatible with our nature (many of these rights are seen as modern but we actually used to have them in the hunter-gatherer era as well, insofar as they were applicable at the time, still the farmer era gave us some good rights as well).

  • Alexei Sadeski

    Robin,

    For all practical purposes, it will most likely be impossible for any one or any organization or any government to regulate Ems in anything other than the very short run once they are introduced.

    So why the concern? Even if some farmer/industrial societies elect to remain in the stone ages post Em introduction, surely such resistance will be short lived?

    • IMASBA

      Depending on your version of ethics an unregulated EM society can be hell on Earth, so people could support extreme measures and strong governments to prevent such a scenario,

      • Alexander Gabriel

        I do not necessarily agree with Alexei, but I do wonder how much easier it would be to enforce such regulations after ems/AGI came into existence as compared with simply stopping that existence from materializing. If extreme measures could stop the “hell on Earth,” could we stop ems/AGI too?

      • IMASBA

        “could we stop ems/AGI too?”

        Sure, with harsh enough measures we could akways do it, but I think the best way is to take away incentives through fundamental economic reforms.

  • IMASBA

    Had farmers insisted on the right to fresh air we couldn’t be here with 7 billion, but if 5 billion of us had never been born we wouldn’t have missed them. It’s only when you start to view not realizing potential worlds as destroying those worlds that you should feel bad about choices you make right now and that’s not a very sane view (there will always be an infinite number of possible worlds and lives that don’t get realized, there’s no point worrying about them and they won’t know what they’re missing out on because they never existed in the first place).

    We can shape the future to be like what we want it to be, after all, the best indicator of what future people will want is to look at what we want, all the other options are less probable.

    Also, and I’ve said this a million times before, if we’re going to change everything we know then let’s start with capitalism and the narrow version of utilitarianism where only material wealth contributes to quality of life. This would immediately discard most of Robin’s future scenarios where somehow everything we know and hold dear, even our deepest ethics, has been replaced, but somehow a 19th century economic system survived.

  • Lord

    Some of their rights I see as inalienable. Others, not so much. If they have self determination and cannot alienate this right, the rest are largely superfluous if not ridiculous. An em may want to exist in real time to interface with and experience the world, but it hardly means they will always want to. Some may wish to travel in to the future, awakening every 20 years to see what has changed. Now if they decide to be operated on, the effect of which is to be manipulated into acquiescing to all future operations, there is a conundrum as it would remove self determination and it may be difficult to anticipate that, but in so far as it could be, it would also have to be banned.

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

    Some intellectuals do bemoan the loss of farmers’ values. How do you know that most ems wouldn’t deeply regret the loss of pre-em culture?

    You assume they’ll think their culture best because its theirs. (Otherwise you lose the parallel with us and farmers.) But we think our values are better than farmer values because we prefer the conditions of life created by modern industry. An em can’t say the same. Em historians will have to acknowledge that dream time was much better than em society for most individuals.

    Time travel to ask a farmer-era intellectual–say Aristotle–what he thinks of the whole package, not just the values, of industrial society, and the response would seem less predictable than the response you get today when you present em civilization. Values are completely subjective but assessing conditions of life isn’t.

    • Hedonic Treader

      Speculation: Most ems might value their own existence positively. If so, they might see the resource-efficiency that allows more of them to exist as a positive living condition, compared to an alternative state where they have rights that indirectly make many of them not exist. If so, your prediction that they will assess our conditions of life as superior to theirs would be wrong.

      • IMASBA

        The vast majority of humans have never seen it that way and the few that claim they do never act on it or only espouse this view when it is conveniently about farm animals they find tasty. And even if EMs do develop a different view I don’t want to be the one to explain to them how most of them live short brutish lives so more of them can exist while a privileged elite is allowed to effectively buy rights, higher clockspeeds and longer existence. The moral narrative of Robin’s scenario is fatally flawed there.

      • Hedonic Treader

        I’m told a lot of humans today value their own existence quite highly. Antinatalism is a minority view, even though many people personally choose not to have children for various reasons.

        One thing to consider is hedonic enhancement. Humans who live short and brutish lives may be unhappy, but happiness and suffering are in the brain. Since ems have simulated brains, it will be easy to decrease their pain intensities and increase their pleasure intensities.

        Some poor people today may view privileged elites as enemies, but a large percentage of poor people still prefers to exist. Speculatively, but not implausibly, this percentage will go up with cheap and very effective hedonic enhancement.

        Imagine a world where even poor ems feel 3 or 5 times as good as the average human, per time unit. It is an implausible prediction that em historians of that era will then declare a population of 7 billion humans to be superior to a population of, say 100 billion such ems.

        Generally, predictions of what they will value are probably harder to get right than we think.

      • IMASBA

        “I’m told a lot of humans today value their own existence quite highly. Antinatalism is a minority view, even though many people personally choose not to have children for various reasons.”

        If you think this is about antinatalism you seem to have misinterpreted some important points. The EM scenarios on this blog are based on the logic of the larder, that is something entirely different than valueing one’s own existence.

        The view of elites would also be different in EM society because inequality will go far deeper (like the rich buying higher clockspeeds and much longer life) and because rich EMs taking up a lot of resources goes directly against the core principles of their logic-of-the-larder-based society. EMs would have every reason to view elites much more negatively than we do.

      • Hedonic Treader

        The logic of the larder applies to beings literally in cages who can’t make choices for themselves and who can’t even communicate their preferences properly! Assuming that this will be true for the majority of ems is obviously nonsensical.

      • IMASBA

        It does apply: the exact same reasoning as is used with farm animals is used to force EMs into a world in such numbers that they will immediately have a very large population and then they can’t go back to smaller numbers without killing themselves (they do not die of natural causes). The people who make the decision to create EMs in such numbers are the ones who make the choices without asking the EMs what they think of it. To be clear: I reject this reasoning, I find it ethically repugnant.

      • Hedonic Treader

        Then you are an antinatalist, which is currently a minority position. Coercive antinatalism is politically infeasible in any society that has ever existed, and there is no reason to predict that this will change. The claim was that future em historians “will have to acknowledge” that our dream time was better than their bigger em future, according to their values. This is not a plausible assumption. The personal feelings of current blog readers on the matter are completely irrelevant for that prediction.

      • IMASBA

        “Then you are an antinatalist, which is currently a minority position.”

        You should look up what it means to be an antinatalist. I do not oppose bringing life into the world, I oppose bringing life into the world in such numbers that the living will suffer a loss in quality of life and I do not feel guilty when I use a condom or feel bad for the infinite number of possible lives that will never exist because there’s no point in that, this is the majority view and has been so for all of history. In human society many births are necessary for replacement of those who die, fertility levels reflect societal attitudes and opinions and the population cannot grow explosively (at the most it doubles in 30 years, giving people more than enough time to think about what they’re doing). In EM society a single individual (even if all other EMs oppose him) can cause explosive population growth at a small cost, while not a single EM-creation is necessary to keep the population afloat since there is no natural death anymore. Freedom to multiply without justification is one of those human rights that would have to go in an EM world, it’s strange that Robin wants to abolish all kinds of rights but not this one, even though it would make sense to most people and most EMs.

        The big lie of the EM age would be that the major EM creators are increasing the number of lives for moral reasons (while they’re just creating cheap indentured servants, while the elites buy rights other EMs don’t get, and a far longer lifespan, taking up resources that could have gone to new EMs, but they’re the elite, the rules and morals of society don’t count for them), this will complement the age old big lies of capitalism (an archaic human economic system which Robin wants to preserve in the futuristic virtual EM world): that hard, honest work will lead to riches and that poverty is the result of lazyness.

      • Hedonic Treader

        You’re making many claims at once, some I agree with and some I don’t. One point of contention is your apparently selective antinatalism that applies only to populations of “such numbers that the living will suffer a loss in quality of life”.

        The question is, relative to what? The status quo? Some arbitrary limit defined by an authority? It seems a good way of measuring the positive value of bringing someone into existence would be to see if others are worse off – which is not the case for economically useful ems who can finance themselves – and if the created individual would be glad about the fact of their creation – which is all but guaranteed if they have basic rationality and reliable suicide rights and methods.

        If life is voluntary, and the created individual is not a rent-seeker, how could their creation not be an improvement?

        I am generally skeptical about paternalistic arguments that override such self-determination, because I trust the benevolence and rationality of paternalists less than the self-interest and (bounded) rationality of the individuals themselves.

        Ironically, aggressive paternalism restricting suicide rights is one of the reasons why coming into existence can actually be quite a severe harm. I just don’t see why your position is any better. It is just as authoritarian and non-consensual and doesn’t rely on the natural filter of voluntary trade-offs.

      • IMASBA

        “The question is, relative to what? The status quo? Some arbitrary limit defined by an authority? It seems a good way of measuring the positive value of bringing someone into existence would be to see if others are worse off – which is not the case for economically useful ems who can finance themselves”

        Being able to finance themselves is not a good measure, it could simply mean the new EM displaces others. If there’s a high probability that creating a new batch of EMs will increase total computational resources by more than the current average per capita consumption of computational resources multiplied by the number of new EMs then that would justify creating new EMs. But that’s unlikely: natural resources would limit computational resources long before the number of EMs maintaining and designing servers will.

        “I am generally skeptical about paternalistic arguments that override such self-determination”

        I’m skeptical about even thinking of the self-determination of beings that do not exist yet. Their minds do not exist, so they won’t miss not existing. Also, it’s not just about the new beings, it’s also about the survivors of the previous generation (which could be everyone, in an EM society) that have to live in the future too.

        Reproduction itself becomes moot in an EM society: there’s no urge anymore because EMs don’t die of old age and there are no accidental pregnancies anymore either. Reproduction could be relegated to an emergency protocol in case an EM server is destroyed by a natural disaster. Another major difference is that EMs can’t reduce their number significantly without killing, while humans can just have less babies and watch old people die to reduce the number of humans without any killing, therefore EMs have to think twice before increasing their number.

        A population of 1 trillion EMs living 5-times happier than today’s humans could choose to use technological progress to live 50-times happier instead of increasing their number to 10 trillion (or even 200 trillion: Robin accepts a decrease in quality of life for most individuals). It is my contention that most humans would choose the former option and most EMs would too, unless they adopted a radical new ideology that says increasing the number of beings that get to exist before the end of the universe is a moral goal, that they should feel guilty when they do not multiply (the ideology Robin thinks they will adopt), this must clash with unfettered capitalism (which Robin says they will have as their economic system).

      • Hedonic Treader

        “A population of 1 trillion EMs living 5-times happier than today’s humans could choose to use technological progress to live 50-times happier instead of increasing their number to 10 trillion”

        You arbitrarily assume that this is factor is possible by linearly consuming more resources per capita. Even if you assume it, there is obviously going to be a limit, and you still have to choose how to spend additional resources.

        “Their minds do not exist, so they won’t miss not existing.”

        True, but if you accept this argument, you must either follow it to Benatar’s logical antinatalist conclusion, or else symmetrically accept that they won’t object to being brought into existence, which makes your whole criticism moot. Either way, your particular position seems logically untenable.

      • IMASBA

        “You arbitrarily assume that this is factor is possible by linearly consuming more resources per capita. Even if you assume it, there is obviously going to be a limit, and you still have to choose how to spend additional resources.”

        If a limit to “quality of life” is reached then it does indeed become time to look at expansion, but it’s doubtful that will happen (maybe EMs will derive pleasure from each EM owning a planet) and it sure as hell isn’t going to happen in Robin’s scenarios.

        “True, but if you accept this argument, you must either follow it to Benatar’s logical antinatalist conclusion”

        In EM scoiety I would be an antinatalist (except in emergencies) because reproduction would serve no purpose to the living anymore. Do note that this is not because I think these new lives would have a horrible existence (to illustrate this look at my belief that controlled reproduction should be allowed after a natural disaster that destroys an EM server), it’s because those alive today (and alive until the end of the universe if they are EMs) would be giving up a bit of their (potential) quality of life for no good reason (no one’s getting hurt: beings that don’t exist and will never exist cannot feel anything, so they can’t be hurt about not existing either, it should drive you mad to believe otherwise because there will always be an infinite number that you cannot bring into existence). I think you are making it too much about what an unborn being would want instead of what purpose those living today would have for a child.

        P.S. as others have pointed out on this blog: being unwilling to commit suicide =/= enjoying life. If I get my arm caught between two large boulders I may would be reluctant to cut off my arm to escape, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rather be somewhere else than being stuck between those boulders. Similarly it’s entirely possible that I wouldn’t want to commit suicide when I have some hideous disease while at the same time I would not feel guilty about euthanizing someone else with the same disease if they asked me to (it’s not uncommon for people to wish they had the strength to commit suicide).

      • Hedonic Treader

        I trust you to make that choice for your own life more reliably than any other person, and I don’t trust you one bit to make the same choice for other individuals without their consent, which is of course the whole aim of your position.

      • IMASBA

        “I trust you to make that choice for your own life more reliably than any other person, and I don’t trust you one bit to make the same choice for other individuals without their consent, which is of course the whole aim of your position.”

        Nope, it’s not just about me: more people fighting over the same amount of resources affects everyone (negatively for most people), so it becomes a public issue and most people would vote my way (if not immediately they will after watching the population grow and the quality of life decrease for a while), barring some major ideological shift.

        In short reproduction would be sidelined to an emergency procedure to be used in case an EM server blows up. This single infringement of freedom (which EMs would mind far less than we would since immortal beings do not need children to replace them and carry on their legacy in the future) would prevent the Malthusian hellhole of Robin’s scenarios and the general lack of freedoms that comes with it.

      • Hedonic Treader

        “Nope, it’s not just about me: more people fighting over the same amount of resources affects everyone (negatively for most people)”

        Uh. They earn those resources by adding more value to other people’s lives through their own voluntary activity than those resources are worth, unless they are rent-seekers.

        Comments like these make it pretty obvious that your primary problem is a simple lack of economic literacy.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

        It seems a good way of measuring the positive value of bringing someone into existence would be to see if others are worse off – which is not the case for economically useful ems who can finance themselves

        I’m really beginning to think you miss the point of ems (taken as a thought experiment) and that if you understood it, you wouldn’t like the idea much at all. Ems create a Malthusian crunch. In general, additional ems lower the living conditions of other individuals.

        …the created individual would be glad about the fact of their creation – which is all but guaranteed if they have basic rationality and reliable suicide rights and methods.

        You must be importing your moral values into your concept of rationality. It’s very weird to be glad you were created, if you think about it. One might almost think people who don’t believe in souls should be incapable of this enthusiasm. Individuals really can’t be individuated in any nonarbitrary way before they’re born: is it you if one of your father’s sperms that’s almost identical with the actual sperm is the operative one? Joy at one’s own existence doesn’t survive rational scrutiny.

        [Added. 1 pm] Hedonic Treader: If I can answer you here because I think I’ve exceeded my quota.

        Only if they are rent-seekers. Otherwise, if they can pay for themselves, they cause positive economic externalities (or else they wouldn’t be able to afford their existence). Or am I missing something?

        As far as I can tell, positive externalities aren’t relevant to paying for their existence. Theoretically, their existence must increase the total utility (barring negative externalities). So, their existence doesn’t come wholly at the expense of the existing individuals but does come partly at their expense.

      • Hedonic Treader

        “Ems create a Malthusian crunch. In general, additional ems lower the living conditions of other individuals.”

        Only if they are rent-seekers. Otherwise, if they can pay for themselves, they cause positive economic externalities (or else they wouldn’t be able to afford their existence). Or am I missing something?

      • IMASBA

        “Only if they are rent-seekers. Otherwise, if they can pay for themselves, they cause positive economic externalities (or else they wouldn’t be able to afford their existence). Or am I missing something?”

        Yeah, you’re missing the fact that a) Robin admits to the Malthusian crunch and doesn’t speak of any test to determine the marginal value of a new EM, b) EM society will be resource starved and will already be so large that new individuals will barely (if at all) speed up technological progress, so rent-seeking and displacement of others will be the only way for new EMs to gather wealth.

      • Hedonic Treader

        One more thing: If you think ems shouldn’t exist because they live short, brutish lives, you may also think wild animals shouldn’t exist because they live short, brutish lives. But in the future, who or what replaces wild animals? If you want to prevent their suffering, replacing them with a civilization of digital minds who suffer less because of hedonic enhancement is one strategy that may end up with less total suffering (assuming space colonization doesn’t happen).

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

        Most ems might value their own existence positively.

        Most people consider their own continued existence a terminal value. (Myself, I think that attitude’s irrational and try to eschew it.) But do people really value their own coming to exist? I’m not sure, but in any event, I don’t think it’s a strong prejudice. Christianity teaches its followers to thank God for our existence, which tells me that wanting to have come to exist isn’t simply natural. We’re also taught to love our parents because they brought us into existence, but in practice we don’t praise parents for having children when the children’s conditions of life are below the norm. I think that’s probably the most telling evidence.

        Some people think the world has too many people already. Are they dissuaded by the thought that, were there were fewer people, they themselves might be among the nonexisting?

        Here’s a speculation of a psychological kind: We usually evaluate our immediate satisfaction in near mode (or perhaps we do only when we’re unhappy, which is the main time we reflect on the subject), and near-mode is incapable of conceiving of our own nonexistence. A near-mode evaluation simply places “us” in a new environment.

        Note on your debate with IMASBA: It may be cheating to imagine that you can tune ems hedonically, as Robin’s premise is that the ability to copy minds will precede the ability to engineer them. You can’t just add engineering changes to what’s copied and assume it’s feasible.

      • Hedonic Treader

        Having ems implies having the technology to map and simulate brains as software. With this technology, it isn’t hard to change synaptic strengths in simulated brain areas of choice. You can even restore old states from backup if you run into reduced functionality problems. It is hard to see how life could not be worth living from the perspective of individuals who can control their own pain and enhance their own pleasures in such a way. Unless it’s banned or something like that.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

        With this technology, it isn’t hard to change synaptic strengths in simulated brain areas of choice.

        If that’s so—I have no idea—then you can create heaven on earth, and of course you can then justify anything that supports it. But this implication would probably support a reductio argument against the mind-transfer technology being feasible.

        I any event, it’s not Robin’s position inasmuch as it would mean that the future, not the present, is dream time.

  • arch1

    Robin,
    a) Precisely because people are biased towards their own existence, your thought experiment seems rigged *against* rights requiring lower-than-historical population density growth. But b) when considering optimal strategic approaches one shouldn’t constrain critical parameters w/o rationale, and c) population density growth is a critical parameter here. So, d) this a priori cutoff should I think be justified or removed.

  • Francisco Pizzaro

    Don’t we kind of need to know a lot more about the mechanics of potential EMS existence before we can begin arguing over their rights?

    • IMASBA

      It’s better to do this a good while before they exist because right now no one has strong financial/racist/religious motivations against EM (and AI in general) rights yet, so the debate is not yet mired by bigotry and crafty (for example Koch brothers-funded) disinformation campaigns. We can have debates to decide EM rights taking into account multiple probable versions of the mechanics and then when the day comes implement the corresponding bill of EM rights.

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

    The topic of “antinatalism” has entered the discussion, and although it seems at first a red herring, at a subtler level there may be something like this involved in this discussion—only because of a statistical relationship Steve Sailer reported. According to Sailer, liberalism vs. conservativism or being a Democrat versus a Republican correlates .8 with fertility. (I think this applies to district predominance rather than individuals.) Conservative Republicans are more fertile. Sailer implies that a fundamental divide on natalism and antinatalism distinguishes these coalitions.

    Although the natalism controversy (if it can be called that) isn’t directly relevant here, it may be relevant to the signaling involved. Em enthusiasm may signal pronatalist conservatism. Another way Robin engages in very subtle signaling.

    • IMASBA

      I doubt there are many antinatalist democrats (or antinatalist people in general), just a lot of people who do not believe in “go forth and multiply” because they want to preserve the Earth for their older selfs and their moderately numbered descendants.

      “Em enthusiasm may signal pronatalist conservatism. Another way Robin engages in very subtle signaling.”

      Robin has only two children, if he’s talking the talk, like you say he is, he doesn’t seem to be walking the walk, then again, that’s not exactly unheard of in people who signal conservative ideals… I think he’s mostly a closeted anarcho-capitalist.

      And I think I’ve reached my quotum for a while.

    • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

      Bryan Caplan is the only anarchist among the GMU lunch crew. He is also a practicing pro-natalist. I could have sworn someone was arguing on another thread here that liberals are utilitarian while conservatives are deontologists (Hanson is more utilitarian than Caplan). I would say a minority of W.E.I.R.D people advocate utilitarianism, and conservatives are more similar to the modal human. Caplan also believes in “common sense”, privileging his own priors for no good reason. This is also unfortunately common. His “common sense” view that ems wouldn’t be conscious leads him to disagree with Hanson on that front.

      I believe Sailer identifies as a Catholic, though not a particularly religious one and has advocated the use of birth control in some circumstances. He seems to regard the Protestantizing of American Catholics as a good thing.

      Explicit anti-natalists are a small minority. The one I first heard of is Chip Smith, the “Hoover Hog”, who is basically a libertarian (though more focused on things like free speech than economic policy). Francois Tremblay, who has made up a kind of anti-natalist award, is a former an-cap who now identifies as an anarcho-socialist with disdain for his former fellow-travelers.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com/ Stephen Diamond

        I could have sworn someone was arguing on another thread here that liberals are utilitarian while conservatives are deontologists

        But conditional on their being utilitarians, liberals are averaging utilitarians and libertarians are summation utilitiarians. (Perhaps I’m generalizing from too small a number.) Summation utilitarianism blocs with Christian deontology in favoring pronatalism; averaging utilitarianism is neutral on birth.

      • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

        That makes more sense. I’m not a utilitarian, but if I were I’d be a summation utilitarian. If X is good, it seems logical that 2X is twice as good. And summation utilitarianism avoids any divide by zero problems. Summation utilitarianism also better matches what we’d expect an evolutionary algorithm to produce.

  • tetrisd

    I agree that a specific list of em rights is inappropriate at this juncture when we have no idea what rights the ems would want or need.

    We can, however, move up a level of abstraction and perhaps agree that ems may be deserving of certain rights. What rights? Animal cruelty laws would be a good starting point. California Penal Code sec. 597(a), for example, generally prohibits causing an animal “needless suffering.” I bet we could agree that ems should have the same right when they are capable of suffering. If they suffer from being shut off then, at least prima facie, they would have a right not to be shut off unless there was some compelling justification for doing so.