Alex says “Philosopher Galen Strawson defends my most absurd belief,” namely: My future life or experience doesn’t belong to me in such a way that it’s something that can be taken away from me. … You can’t harm [people] simply by bringing about their painless and unforeseen death.
Isn't the argument here an argument by analogy?
good to make one exist who would not otherwise exist, assuming this new person can pay for itself over its lifetime, and assuming there are not large negative externalities (whereby this new person hurts others)
That's a questionable assumption. Everyone hurts others by degrading the environment, etc.
I'm reminded of religious folks who think that people without a connection to God are missing a part of themselves and had a "God-shaped hole". Though I'm an atheist, I don't think they're that wrong for the modal human.
It seems that the preference part for "reading stuff on the internet" is taking over larger and larger portions of my brain. I've dropped playing videogames, watching tv, reading fiction and other competing interests. I've never been that interested in sex or good food to begin with. This weekend I tried actually reconnecting with old friends and doing normal activities in the sun rather than my usual wastes of time. Terrible bad luck ensued on the return home, souring me on similar deviations from my standard activities in the future.
It seems to me that this business of creating alternate selves or new preference patterns is subject to Bastiat's point about "what is seen vs. what is not seen": When you choose to use resources (such as time and attention) to cultivate a self that is passionately interested in haute cuisine, you are preventing the use of those resources to cultivate a self that is passionately interested in soccer, or playing the commodities market, or collecting classic pulp aviation magazines, or to cultivate one of the selves that you already have. There's a need to have an internal market on which the rates of return from those different cultivations can be compared. But I think that inner market is what the "sense of self" is supposed to provide. Or, to put it in Aleister Crowley's terms, you need to know your True Will.
On the other hand, a lot of people don't seem to have a fully integrated True Will; they have separate preference patterns that impose external costs on each other. There are even things people do whose effects seem to include hampering the operation of the internal market, such as drinking to the point of intoxication.
Unlike Robert Koslover, I found your alter analogies more convincing. They are conceivably whole persons, while preference parts don't.
As illustration I quote your OP:
Now if my other parts felt a strong altruism [emphasis mine] toward a new part, they might accept less for themselves to pay for it.
Now, won't you consider altruism a preference part as well? If preference parts in general have altruism preference parts... doesn't this lead to an infinite regress?
I agree that preference parts are valuable, but they are not a unit/locus of experience, unlike humans or alters.
I thought the research on alters had shown that they were far from being full independent shared personalities? Reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... , I am reminded quite strongly of the recovered-memories/Satanist hysteria. Maybe you should switch your 'real' example to http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... patients...
Despite the similarities, I find this "preference parts" version of arguing that multiple lives (actually, aspects of our overall selves) have values worth preserving (or even expanding) makes far more sense than the prior arguments in favor of preserving "alters." But perhaps I feel that way simply because alters are considered abnormal, while preference-parts are not.