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Evolution and Eugenics


(Lodewijk Andre de la Porte) #1

Eugenics is important because without evolution you have devolution. Entropy at work, causing humanity to derail. We’d like there to be no natural selection, but we must resolve to introduce a pleasant manner of artificial selection instead.

Partial gene splicing is even more humane - a “three parents” approach, the father, the mother, and the ideal. Through embryo selection you may still produce a child probably closer to optimal, rather than probably further from optimal, even with inferior parents. Gene injection is also an option - but it’s more risky. The optimal, ideal geneset is the “third parent”.

Note: I do not advise upon the actual ideal. I proposed some things, and included beauty because it seems an indicator for many things (beauty correlates with being build properly, mentally, internally, externally, all correlate). I’m not talking about nazi practices like forced abortion/sterilisation, selection for arbitrary qualities, etc. I’m talking about preventing the growth of degenerate humans, sickly humans, humans that cannot naturally give birth, etc.

To avoid “Idiocracy”

Instrument of the Cosmos forged by Metafire
Bourgeois transhumanism and the disconnect with the current world trends toward authoritarianism

evolution is something that always happened without our interference. and entropy is just an observation about something that always happened, as well - with or without our interference. and what you talk about is social darwinism .

what causes humanity to derail? what is meant by natural selection? send a civilized human being into the desert or somewhere else in the wild and he probably wouldn´t survive a day although the natives live there for thousands of years. could we call that natural selection and the native a higher form of our species?

so, a future humanity wouldn´t want someone like me, because i am sickly…
you haven´t answered my question about the model. what i want to tell you was, that the “qualities” you mentioned are not less arbitrary than any “quality” a human made up in his mind. what position do you want to take up: are the civilized humans naturally selected or are they already degenerated, compensating natural selection?
my position is: humans create cultures. and you can call that a natural process or not. that doesn´t matter. and what we became because of our cultural interference with our mind is to an unknown degree arbitrary. and we could not know how big the amount of change is and what remains genuin at all. so it could be, that the civilization transformed humans into yorkshireterriers ( this should be a picture for the amount of cultural change!) that couldn´t survive a day in the environment, their ancestors live. and yorkshireterriers have a completely different mind set and value system than wolves. they might consider canned food and dog chocolate as healthy, worm attack, fleas and ticks as sickly ( and might come up with a solution of genetically altered individuals that cannot be infected with parasites anymore) and looking sweet and tricking their master to give them what they want as intelligence, hunting as barbaric and having a ribbon on their forehead as beauty. so if yorkshireterriers will become the ruler of dogworld we could call that evolution, and if they will go extinct it will be evolution as well!

humanity will have a real big problem if we will go on to justify our actions with our strange idea of evolution and dawinism. some nice thoughts of a great philosopher:

Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy addressed the question of artificial selection, yet Nietzsche’s principles did not concur with Darwinian theories of natural selection. Nietzsche’s point of view on sickness and health, in particular, opposed him to the concept of biological adaptation as forged by Spencer’s “fitness”. Nietzsche criticized Haeckel, Spencer, and Darwin, sometimes under the same banner by maintaining that in specific cases, sickness was necessary and even helpful.[21] Thus, he wrote:
Wherever progress is to ensue, deviating natures are of greatest importance. Every progress of the whole must be preceded by a partial weakening. The strongest natures retain the type, the weaker ones help to advance it. Something similar also happens in the individual. There is rarely a degeneration, a truncation, or even a vice or any physical or moral loss without an advantage somewhere else. In a warlike and restless clan, for example, the sicklier man may have occasion to be alone, and may therefore become quieter and wiser; the one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man will see deeper inwardly, and certainly hear better. To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to me to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race


we have to realize, that humanity will not progress with the help of genes but with memes. because that is what already happened to us: we became different due to our different cultures WE developed and not “nature” developed for us…and we don´t have a model to decide what is weak and what is strong, what is intelligent and what is not, because we already changed and our specific memes that differ so much from genuin perceptions and interpretations, are forming our values and mindsets. so the only first step into progress has to be to become conscious about ourselves and our memes.

i don´t know that movie but i looked up the plot in wikipedia and watched some videos on you tube and i think i get the picture. you can use that world full of idiots for the same purpose i used my yorkshireterriers. those idiots have their memes and ideas and values and if you give them the power to create “the perfect human being” according to their mindset, they will create the perfect idiot. because they don´t have a comparison, a model beside themselves. the movie introduces a kind of comparison/model with the frozen man. but what would happen if some archeologists will discover a frozen man for us next year? and what if this man is as puzzled and disturbed about what we have become just like the one in the movie? and how could we find out what the best values and memes are?

(Michael Hrenka) #3

As to the topic of evolution: I think that we will sooner than later approach a future in which the principle of selection will be superseded by the principle of dynamic adaptation. If human lifespans will become unlimited, they will have a lot of time to change and adapt. Adaptation is generally unpleasant, because it implies that one has not been sufficiently good before, and that one needs to change, but it generally beats dying – by a long stretch.

This dynamic adaptation will be applied to our genes and our memes likewise. We will be able to change any part of our body-mind-complexes, at will, but not without good reason. We will change those parts which are problematic and keep us from reaching higher levels of whatever we want to achieve. This development will come with the clear effect that some people will optimize themselves very much for their very peculiar concepts of “whatever they want to achieve”. That’s perhaps not bad, because it increases the general level of diversity within the biosphere, which generally makes it more resilient. The alternative would be too great standardization, which could end up with everyone having the same critical weaknesses.

By the way: Humans have gone though a process of self-domestication that probably resulted in significantly reduced average intelligence for individuals. Still, humanity has become more successful than ever, because what counts for mankind is collective intelligence and capability, rather than “feral” individual intelligence. We already live in “Idiocracy”, but it may be fallacious to see that as a bad thing. On the other hand – we probably won’t be able to solve many of the hard problems we are faced with as mankind, if we don’t significantly increase the average level of intelligence. So, take what I’ve written with a grain of salt.

(Professor J. Moriarty) #4

Why transhumanists advocate human enhancement as ethical rather than pre-WWII eugenics?

Eugenics in the narrow sense refers to the pre-WWII movement in Europe and the United States to involuntarily sterilize the “genetically unfit” and encourage breeding of the genetically advantaged. These ideas are entirely contrary to the tolerant humanistic and scientific tenets of transhumanism. In addition to condemning the coercion involved in such policies, transhumanists strongly reject the racialist and classist assumptions on which they were based, along with the notion that eugenic improvements could be accomplished in a practically meaningful timeframe through selective human breeding.

Transhumanists uphold the principles of bodily autonomy and procreative liberty. Parents must be allowed to choose for themselves whether to reproduce, how to reproduce, and what technological methods they use in their reproduction. The use of genetic medicine or embryonic screening to increase the probability of a healthy, happy, and multiply talented child is a responsible and justifiable application of parental reproductive freedom.

Beyond this, one can argue that parents have a moral responsibility to make use of these methods, assuming they are safe and effective. Just as it would be wrong for parents to fail in their duty to procure the best available medical care for their sick child, it would be wrong not to take reasonable precautions to ensure that a child-to-be will be as healthy as possible. This, however, is a moral judgment that is best left to individual conscience rather than imposed by law. Only in extreme and unusual cases might state infringement of procreative liberty be justified. If, for example, a would-be parent wished to undertake a genetic modification that would be clearly harmful to the child or would drastically curtail its options in life, then this prospective parent should be prevented by law from doing so. This case is analogous to the state taking custody of a child in situations of gross parental neglect or child abuse.

This defense of procreative liberty is compatible with the view that states and charities can subsidize public health, prenatal care, genetic counseling, contraception, abortion, and genetic therapies so that parents can make free and informed reproductive decisions that result in fewer disabilities in the next generation. Some disability activists would call these policies eugenic, but society may have a legitimate interest in whether children are born healthy or disabled, leading it to subsidize the birth of healthy children, without actually outlawing or imposing particular genetic modifications.

When discussing the morality of genetic enhancements, it is useful to be aware of the distinction between enhancements that are intrinsically beneficial to the child or society on the one hand, and, on the other, enhancements that provide a merely positional advantage to the child. For example, health, cognitive abilities, and emotional well-being are valued by most people for their own sake. It is simply nice to be healthy, happy and to be able to think well, quite independently of any other advantages that come from possessing these attributes. By contrast, traits such as attractiveness, athletic prowess, height, and assertiveness seem to confer benefits that are mostly positional, i.e. they benefit a person by making her more competitive (e.g. in sports or as a potential mate), at the expense of those with whom she will compete, who suffer a corresponding disadvantage from her enhancement. Enhancements that have only positional advantages ought to be de-emphasized, while enhancements that create net benefits ought to be encouraged.

It is sometimes claimed that the use of germinal choice technologies would lead to an undesirable uniformity of the population. Some degree of uniformity is desirable and expected if we are able to make everyone congenitally healthy, strong, intelligent, and attractive. Few would argue that we should preserve cystic fibrosis because of its contribution to diversity. But other kinds of diversity are sure to flourish in a society with germinal choice, especially once adults are able to adapt their own bodies according to their own aesthetic tastes. Presumably most Asian parents will still choose to have children with Asian features, and if some parents choose genes that encourage athleticism, others may choose genes that correlate with musical ability.

It is unlikely that germ-line genetic enhancements will ever have a large impact on the world. It will take a minimum of forty or fifty years for the requisite technologies to be developed, tested, and widely applied and for a significant number of enhanced individuals to be born and reach adulthood. Before this happens, more powerful and direct methods for individuals to enhance themselves will probably be available, based on nanomedicine, artificial intelligence, uploading, or somatic gene therapy. (Traditional eugenics, based on selecting who is allowed to reproduce, would have even less prospect of avoiding preemptive obsolescence, as it would take many generations to deliver its purported improvements.)

(Michael Hrenka) #5

The evil @Moriarty has appropriated that last post from If you are not an evil super genius, you are not allowed to do that. You aren’t even allowed to do that, if you are one, but you can get away with that easier.



nice text you picked up. it is eloquent and contains the most important positions concerning eugenics. but since i know that this text is not from you, i will reply to every transhumanist who agrees with the content.

try this:

whenever you are sick let your parents cure you.
let your parents decide what haircut you will have and let them choose your clothing.
and now be a good transhumanist and let them decide what abilities you should have (some people might be surprised how many parents don´t want their child to be intelligent because they want a “normal” child!) and what job and what you should do with your life, because they will know when you are happy.

if that feels right to you ( then nobody would be able to cure you, but this is a different topic) then ok, go on and allow this to be done to unborn children in a much more severe way than described.

the only way to go to use our knowledge about our genes is in the hands of medical science. and even this is not without ethical problems. the text above states that enhancements should be left to individual conscience, left to parents wishes, and be in the interest of society. where are the only competent persons mentioned who could decide about other peoples health?
we should focus on healing and curing people with modern protheses and the best technology available, develop a sufficient healthcare system and support longevity research.

there is no justification for eugenics and all critics of it are in the stronger position. because it is racist to let parents (or society) decide how a child should look like, and what abilities it should have. there is no way to demand morphological freedom while excluding all unborn from that freedom. and there is no way to demand negative liberty while allowing parents to interfere. “liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question: ‘What is the area within which the subject—a person or group of persons—is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons’.” ( wikipedia, negative liberty)
and critics are right when they fear uniformity: children will be transformed to fit in, because a happy child means that it makes it´s parents happy (or was it the other way round? ) and we have a “great” solution - in the best interests of society - to avoid any rebellion against a system. so no matter if we will live in idiocracy or in yorkshireterrierworld, nobody would complain anymore because every child will be genetically enhanced to fit in the best possible. and those empires could be stable a thousand years and more and never change. in that way we will cheat evolution and the taste of old people will rule more than ever before!
even the disability rights activists are right. if our ancestors would have been able to eliminate all gene- related disorders there would be no stephen hawking for us; his work, his genius and passion for space lost to the culture dish and the parents wish, to have a normal child.
and last but not least amon twyman disproved his own assertions with the moral philosophy of transhumanism:
“In other words, communities should be free to determine their own fate, but only insofar as they grant the same right to their members, which at minimum means granting the right to free exit.” ( * : amon twyman, the moral philosophy of transhumanism)

everybody should be free to determine his own fate but with eugenics as described, we will grant parents and society the right to determine the fate of children due to their taste. unfortunately human beings in their early stages of life could not exercise the right to free exit, even if granted…now then it is their misfortune? not if we respect their negative liberty: “Restrictions on negative liberty are imposed by a person, not by natural causes or incapacity.” ( wikipedia , negative liberty)

following the moral philosophy of transhumanism it is my obligation due to the entry principle, to reject eugenics and parent-induced enhancements and oppose every advocate of it, for he “cannot be considered Transhumanist” (*):

“In other words, the Entry Principle means that you cannot involve yourself in the situation in any way which would effectively deny others the Exit Principle and their Negative Liberty.” (*)

(João Luz) #7

Well, I think that we should probably start another topic, since this one has clearly drifted away from its topic.

Anyway, I feel the need to share my thoughts on this Transhumanism and Eugenics issue.

I actually already suspected that Moriarty had copied his reply from somewhere else, he does that all the time, but I decided to give him a like anyway since I agreed with almost everything the author of the text wrote.

zanthia, you also made a very good job at explaining why you’re against human germline genetic engineering from a moral transhumanist prespective, however, I see a number of logical flaws in your reasoning:

  1. You seem to overestimate the influence that genes have on a person’s abilities and characteristics. Research has clearly shown that while genetics does have a siginifficant influence, upbringing and the person’s life experience actually take predominance in many, if not most, situations. Genetic engineering won’t allow parents to completely “design” their children any time soon.

  2. I sincerely fail to understand your claim that complete ramdomness and the tyrany of Mendelian inheritance would be in any way preffereble as a way of determining un unborn child’s genetic characteristics to the conscious will of the child’s parents. Nature doesn’t give children any more right to choose who they are than a system of germiline genetic engineering. I don’t think that the concept of “Negative Liberty” makes any sense at all, especially if we analyse it from a transhumanist prespective. Nature can be as harmful to our human liberty as other humans, and I don’t think we should give “natural” violations of liberty any prefferencial treatment just because they are “natural”. I think that, by making this argument, you unconsciously applied the naturalistic fallacy, which has allways been one of Transhumanism’s greatest enemies.

  3. While it’s true that many parents will want a “normal” child, current social tendencies seem to suggest an increasing appreciation for positive diversity, our civilization appears to be moving forward in this aspect, so, I think that we should give people the benifit of the doubt. Even if I’m wrong and genetic engineering leads to a generation of super-normal humans, a large portion of those humans will probably grow disgusted with normality and they will strive to become less normal and they will definitly want their children to be exceptional as well.

  4. You seem to ignore the fact that, when human genetic engineering becomes common, we will either already have technologies that allow the augmentation of adults or those technologies will be appearing very soon. I don’t agree with the author(s) of Moriarty’s post when he says that uploading and AI will be here sooner, than genetic engineering, but I do believe that cybernetic neural and physicall augmentation will arrive in no time. So, it’s incorrect to say that there will be no way of “reversing” the effects of germilne genetic engineering.

Concluding, I think that human germline genetic engineering will not take any freedom away from any anyone, people will have as much control over the characterstics that they were assigned at birth as they have now: none at all. The difference is that those characteristics will actually be chosen by someone who loves them, and not by natural determinism and absolute randomness.

As Moriarty- or whoever wrote his post- said, human germline genetic engineering won’t be an “eugenic” procedure but a new and ethically reasonable form of human enhancement.


lol, moriarty definitely has to work on his image.

true. very good arguments. i am on your side. this supports my demand for the focus on memes instead of genes, that i stated earlier.

also true with one important exception: nature has no will, ( so there is no “tyrany of Mendelian inheritance” ), no intention and is not considered as a person who could violate negative liberty. parents could violate negative liberty. and this is the thought i want to convey. to me the definition of violence depends ( among others) on the distinction of purpose and accident, so not everything that causes harm could be considered as violence.

then we will have a bigger problem: the negative liberty is to my knowledge a basic element of the ethics for transhumanism. but i am open for suggestions and probably you are right and transhumanism needs a different ethical fundament than negative liberty.

what is your position concerning evolution? i don´t think that it is enough to give people the benefit of the doubt and grant laypeople the power to transform humanity due to their wishes. isn´t it a crucial demand of transhumanists, to involve science when it comes to anything important concerning the development of humanity?[quote=“Joao_Luz, post:12, topic:1098”]
So, it’s incorrect to say that there will be no way of “reversing” the effects of germilne genetic engineering.

granted, if you are right with your prognosis, the freedom would be greater. but it doesn´t really fit to what you stated in point 1. "Genetic engineering won’t allow parents to completely “design” their children any time soon. "
but assumed you are right, we will have a special war at hand, with children reversing what their parents done to them. and it has no significant influence on my basic argument: that parents are laypeople and they shouldn´t be allowed to violate negative liberty, and they shouldn´t even have the right to coerce their children to a haircut they like.

great truth. i think many people would agree with that. but could we assume that it is possible for any human being to love a zygote? i don´t think so. what people could love is the idea of what the human being in his earliest stages of life could become for them. and eugenics give people the hope to take an active part and influence what they will become. so could eugenics be the hope for greater love?

(João Luz) #9

OK, I may have misused the word “Tyranny”, since it normally applies to a violation of Liberty inflicted by a human ruler, but I still think that nature, despite having no will, can in fact violate people’s liberty.

I define liberty as the hability to do what one truly wants without being influenced by any external forces other than those who define his or her own “free will”.

Weather those forces are “natural” or unleahsed by humans is, in my opinion, irrelevant to this regard.

Allow me to explain my position through a simples thought experiment:

Imagine a cell which automatically locks itself whenever a human being is detected on the inside.

Now, suppose that a man is put in there by a policeman. Is that man free? I think we would both agree that he isn’t. He was put there against his will and even have a way of getting out.

But now imagine that another man is thrown into that very same cell as a result of some sort of accident. Let’s imagine that the was pushed by a dog or something like that. Is this man any more free than the first one?

If we follow my definition, he isn’t. They are equally there against their will and they are both equally unable to do what they want. The second man is just as much free as the first one.

But if we follow your definition of liberty, which assumes that coercion by natural or mechanistic forces doesn’t violate one’s liberty, then the second man is a lot more free than the first one. Does this make sense?

I don’t think it does. The two man are in the exact same situation, why should they not be considered to be equally free?

I hadn’t read Amon’s article yet, but I can tell you that he’s probably the first person to ever propose negative liberty as the basis for transhumanist ethics. I had never heard anyone saying that before. I’m going to need sometime to analyze his thoughts in greater detail, but I don’t see myself agreeing with him. Anyway, maybe we should start separate a topic on transhumanist ethics so that we can freely discuss that.

What exactly are you afraid of, devolution? There are many ways we could regulate genetic engineering in order to prevent something like that, there’s no need to ban the practice.

I don’t see any contradiction between my points. Changes made by genetic engineering would be signifficant but not determinant, that was point 1. And those significant changes could be removed by the modified person later in her life.

(Professor J. Moriarty) #10

(Professor J. Moriarty) #11

Does it matter who wrote it?

I, we, Gaia.

#12 is not my definition but a definition of negative liberty ( which seem to be the basis for transhumanist ethics and i agreed to you that it might not be sufficient and we could search for a new ethical foundation) is among others part of my definition of violence, yes.[quote=“zanthia, post:8, topic:1118”]
to me the definition of violence depends ( among others) on the distinction of purpose and accident, so not everything that causes harm could be considered as violence.
and yes, i would feel much different if someone throws me purposely into prison or if it was an accident. you are right, that one consequence is the same: being in prison. but many other consequences will be different. and i will have at minimum three different situations:

  1. by accident: i would feel like an idiot, if it was my fault. i would have the hope that someone would find me and free me, because i don´t belong there. i would wait and would be glad when somebody will come and i could explain my situation.
  2. i am guilty: if i know the system and trust it to be just i will be concerned with my guilt, primarily. i would know that nobody would free me till the end of the prison term. and i have to adapt to my new situation.
  3. i am innocent: the worst case would be if i was thrown in prison, in an arbitrary violent and unjust system, that is completely unknown to me. i would live in constant fear that i will be tortured or killed.

negative liberty is a good idea to start with. it would take much effort to find something else. but negative liberty is not without problems when it comes to demands of transhumanists. comparing the right of morphological freedom to the right of procreative liberty of parents: it remains completely unclear, how the negative liberty of the unborn weighs less than the positive liberty of parents. if we accept the case that positive liberty of some could violate the negative liberty of others, we have to explain how we could justify that. and the only way to go - without destroying the power of negative liberty - would be on thin ice: we have to separate living beings into valuable and less valuable beings. but if we do that we would open up the old horror cabinet and full range of racism, speciescism, and hierarchies we already had in the past and unfortunately enough of it remaining in present. and i cannot accept such a development as new, better, futurist, transhuman or utopian because it will be ancient and dystopian.

then we have to think about regulations first, although we already have the develoment with “the practice”. practices and regulations should be justified. preferably with good ethics on their ground. i am not afraid of devolution. i am afraid of memes and values we will use to justify our actions. but i could ask the same question: what are you afraid of, if humanity would decide that genetic modifications will be limited to medical indications, and the job to decide who will be allowed to live and who not, will fall into the hand of professionals and not parents? what is so scaring to forbid that we look after eyecolors, gender, height and other arbitrary “qualities” and forbid to let parents choose: “yes, the one with the blue eyes, please, the one with the brown eyes may die!”?[quote=“Joao_Luz, post:9, topic:1118”]
I don’t see any contradiction between my points. Changes made by genetic engineering would be signifficant but not determinant, that was point 1. And those significant changes could be removed by the modified person later in her life.

besides the fact that it is completely improbable, that genetic modifications could be reversed later in life ( and if some, it would not be without operations and complications ) it sounds strange to me that you first stated that genetic modifications would not allow “designing” people any time soon, but later enhancements would have big reversing potential and they will come very soon.
but i think you are right and active designing of people will not come soon, but what we have to deal with is the selection of people who may live and who may not. so maybe we should refer to the PGD, first. but if we will ever be able to transform ourselves easily and change how we like, ethics will be much different and many deliberations that we need now will be irrelevant.

(João Luz) #13

You might feel differently, but that wouldn’t mean that you would be any more or less free. Liberty is all about the ability to act, and both men only have one course of “action” they can take: to stand by and wait for new developments.

It’s not because one feels terrified and the other feels stupid that they diferently free. In fact, we could modify the scenario so that none of the men would know how they got to be in the cell. Would that also change things, in your opinion?

And, doesn’t your line of reasoning imply that the first man doesn’t need to be set free because his “negative liberty” was never violated?

I had actually never heard the term “negative liberty” before you mentioned it for this discussion. For me Liberty was just Liberty, no need to add any words before it, and it still is. I don’t think that this concept makes any sense at all. Impositions made by nature limit human actions even more than impositions made by humans. And, for me, the whole point of Transhumnism, is to set humanity free from those impositions.

The free man is the man who is not in irons, nor imprisoned in a gaol, nor terrorized like a slave by the fear of punishment … it is not lack of freedom, not to fly like an eagle or swim like a whale.


This is one of the quotes in the wikipedia article on negative freedom. Isn’t it the most anti-transhumanist thing one could possibly say? Isn’t our objective to allow humans to fly like eagles or swim like whales? That has been my conviction ever since I started identifying myself as a transhumanist and I never saw anyone inside the movement disagree with me in this regard.

That’s why I’m surprised that Amon Twyman used such a retrograde philosophical concept as a basis for transhumanist morality. Negative liberty is something that only appears to make sense in pre-modern political theory. I frankly don’t see how it would be fit to guide the radical transformations to the human species that our movement proposes, especially considering that it isn’t even fit to properly guide our modern lives.

OK, I think we’ll need to clear this up before we adress your other points. As I said before, I think that genes have a signifficant but not determinant role in the definition of a person’s characteristics.

When I say that parent’s won’t be able to “design” their children any time soon I mean that they wouldn’t be able to say “My son will be, brave, kind, very good at football and his favourite colour will be orange”, not that they won’t be able to decide things such as physical appearence and basic intelligence.

Now, let’s look at the things in which genes probably play only a minor role:

  • Personality

  • Political, Philosophical and Social beliefs

  • Abilities and knownledge

  • Tastes and preferences

  • Sympahties for other huamans

Genes are clearly not very important for these things, since they all present a high degree of flexibility that would not be allowed by genetic determinism, and these things do seem to be the most important ones to achieve success and happiness in any human society.

Now, let’s look at hings in which genes play a major role:

  • Physical appearence

  • Physical capacity

  • Basic Inteligence

  • Metabolism and other “invisible” biological characteristics

Now, these things are obviously important as well, especially considering that, despite many of them also being influenceble by other factors, all of them moderately influence the characteristics of the first group.

I think that people would benifit from changes in these kind of things and I do believe that, if for some reason they don’t like these changes- just like they might not like some traits of their unaltered selfs- there will plenty of ways of reversing them through other technologies. Nanotechnology will probably play the most significant role.

OK, now we are talking about real Eugenics, the genocidal 19th century ideology that, as I too believe, shouldn’t be a part of transhumanism. I think that not allowing a person to reproduce because that person is considered (for some reason, probably a racist one) inferior is babaric and shouldn’t be consired by 21st century thinkers.

Now, if you are talking about the selection of the most “desireble” embryos and the disposal of the rest, then this is an issue for a completely different debate: the abortion debate, in which I, quite frankly, never managed to adopt a clear position.

Anyway, I think that these two eugenic concepts have nothing to do with what modern genetic engineering proposes: which is simply injecting CRISPRs or other vector in a living embryo and simply change it’s genes. We are not talking about killing anyone here.

I’m afraid of the following:

  • Delay of human enhancement in case other technologies fail to be developed first.

  • Perpetuation of unnecessary suffering (being ugly and being stupid are not diseases, but they are still very harmful traits for a person to have, and they could be eliminated with genetic engineering).

  • Loss of the biological substrate. Most transhumanists defend that humans should all just forget about their organic bodies and simply upload. I think that this would be a mistake because our organic body possesses a lot of complexity and there are many ways to explore that complexity in order to achieve the transhuman goal of living a better life than the one nature provides us. I’m afraid that, whithout genetic engineering, transhumans will have to turn their backs on organic life and that way we’ll probably lose important opportunities.


no. that might apply to other animals who have no imaginative power and abilities of abstract thinking ( although in some situations even other animals could differentiate) or which could not be informed about their situation. to anticipate how long an unfree situation will last makes a huge difference to a situation of which you have no information. if the inability to act would suffice to feel unfree, everybody who uses the elevator would feel like someone in prison. ( and this might only be the case with people who have phobias). and it makes a huge difference to know the cause.
but i will repeat my position:
i talked about violence, you talked about freedom. and if we could not use negative liberty, we need a a new foundation.
transhumanism is a philosophy and political movement. it is a way of thinking. how could we demand politically morphological freedom? how could we just claim that something is the right thing to do?
just to say: " i am free and i want all what is possible" would not suffice and would not convince anybody. because we rely on others as long as we live in a community. i could not demand: “hey community, i want wings and a chip for a better brain, and you have to fulfill my wish!” ( ok, i could do that but i can´t expect to be taken serious.). i could not demand a positive liberty like that. but what has to be taken serious is, when i say: “hey community, i know someone who could give me wings and a chip for a better brain. i want it and the person wants to give it to me and you, community have no right to stop me from changing my body how i want, because my body belongs to me. and you have no right to punish me for transforming my body, when i am already transformed.” with that i would claim, that my negative liberty is not to be violated. and as i understand amon twymans " moralphilosophy of transhumanism" i could go a step further and say: “but if you do, if you try to stop me and threaten to punish me, i could leave you and live in a different community that will not violate my negative liberty”. this is enough to end paternalistic restrictions.
and imho this is a very good idea to start with. to find something better will be a challenge.[quote=“Joao_Luz, post:13, topic:1118”]
And, doesn’t your line of reasoning imply that the first man doesn’t need to be set free because his “negative liberty” was never violated?

no. the citation from wikipedia implys that “negative liberty” lies in the realm of human actions, which is the core of ethics. i could not demand that my fellow human beings should stop the rain because i want sunshine or that they should eliminate all mosquitos and that never a rock would block my way, etc. but i could demand, that my fellow human beings are not the forces, standing in my way and preventing me to from achieving my goals (as far as i am not somebody who blocks others by doing so, because everybody has the right to claim the same.)

it would be a case of “denial of assistance” not to free an innocent man. could we call that ethical?
here might be another interesting idea of what we could demand and what not.

(Professor J. Moriarty) #15

(João Luz) #16

They shouldn’t feel like they are in prison, but, as a matter of fact, when someone is stuck in an elevator he is as free as someone in prison, even if it’s just for a short time. Temporary restrictions of freedom can be good when they serve a purpose, but they still are restrictions of freedom.

Using feelings as a criteria for evaluating how free a person is compromises our ability to use liberty as an objective moral criterion.

OK, so, we’re now looking for a principle, or a set of principles that can justify transhumanism with grounds on a solid ethical philosophy, right? That’s pure ethics, which makes it a lot harder than discussing what position we should on issues A and B.

One of the main problems that people find in this sort of debate, is that they can’t agree on where ethics should come from. Throughout the course of human history, we seem to have differentiated right from wrong based on instinct, emotions and cultural values signifficantly more often than we did based on objective reasoning. This method hasn’t been a total disaster, as humanity managed to evolve and reach the modern age nevertheless, but, as our world becomes increasingly globalized and people and regions become more interdependent, I think it becomes pretty clear that we must strieve to find ethical theories that we can all agree on if we just try to think rationally.

So, what should this therories be based on? As I’ve said in my reply to another topic in this forum, the only thing that we all agree with are basic human values . These values are those that are so intrinsic to human psychology, that our existance as sentient and rational beings would stop making sense to us if we, for some reason, rejected them. So, what values are those? I can only think of 3:

  1. Existance

  2. Happiness

  3. Compassion

In other word, if there is anything we can say that is true about everyone in the world is that:

  1. We all want to preserve our existance

  2. We all want to be happy

  3. We all want other people to be happy

From this point forward, the pursuit of a terminal ethical philosophy should pursue in a way that is analogous to the pursuit of truth in science and mathematics. We should articulate basic human values to create ethical principles and than we should articulate those principles to create more principles, but, in the end, it all must come down to basic human values.

We should also note that very few principles would be completely universal. In some situations, breaking an important principle should be considered morally correct, as long as it ultimately leads to the upholding of basic human values.

This is my personal approach to morality and, althought having problems in certain situations (such as, when basic human values seem to conflict with each other), I think it’s a very solid foundation for my endorsement of transhumanism.

By freeing myself and others from the limitations of nature, I will be upholding all three basic human values. I will be preserving my existance by extending by lifespan, I will make myself happier by increasing my ability to pursue my objectives, and I will be providing that option to other people, thereby making them happier.

It’s a very simple line of thought, and some people may find it dangerous that I don’t make clear right away what are the things that we can’t do, so, here are my thoughts on that:

There is nothing that people shouldn’t be able to do to themselves, as long as they can find ways to do the things they want whithout harming anyway else.

As for what people shouldn’t be able to do to beings who don’t yet have the ability to choose, there should be some restrictions, but those restrictions should be limited to things that will undoubtably, or at least very probably, cause extreme unhappiness for that person in the future and to things that will compromise that person’s ability to decide what to do with her life.

(Lodewijk Andre de la Porte) #17

Look, Zanthia, it’s simple:

Do you want a child that is better, or worse?

I’d say better. And better means you perform genetic manipulation on it.

Your arguments are against making better humans, because worse humans can be fun too. I didn’t bloody say worse humans are worthless. I said, for goodness’ sake, let’s make better humans whenever we can!

Unborn children can’t tell us what they think is better, so we take the next best person to be responsible and make these decisions: THE PARENTS. We can give them outer boundaries if ethics dictates that we should (e.g: no funny deformations just for the sake of entertainment).

Some of your arguments depend on “if it is natural/random it is better” - and you just omit the entire courtship process from your consideration, appeal to the naturalistic fallacy, and then say “SO LET’S MAKE WORSE BABIES BECAUSE AT LEAST THEY’RE THEMSELVES”.

Let me just ask you this, if anyone told you you are better than you would be without help, would you feel bad about having gotten help?


great, then we will not have a problem with everything transhumanism wants and we could just ignore criticism, even when it comes from intellectuals. why accusing transhumanists of being nazis? it is simple: they just are! the others are only too stupid to see, how simple everything is. ( i want to get rid of such accusations but statements like yours sabotage this effort)

the question is: do you want a deeper discussion with details and conflicts and controversies and the hard search for wisdom and the best possible ethical viewpoint, or do you want to just simplify your worldview because it is easier to comprehend? if you are seriously interested in dialogue and growth, you should specify what you mean with “better”. the hardest question might be: “better for what purspose?” better to fit in our society, better to cope with our destructive capitalism, better to please ones parents? brave new world…
i want better people in general. i want them to be conscious about their own motives, i want them to be brave to face their own emotions, i want them to be wise and empathic, i want them to be aware of their actions and the consequences, i want them to be ethical and i want them to be great in their ambitions and i want them to have a beautiful soul. and i would hate my parents deeply, when they would tell me that my brother had to die because he had the wrong sex, the wrong eyecolors, the wrong physical strength, outer appearance, or whatever. and i would deeply hate them in the moment i become aware of the fact that they had formed me due to their wishes so that it was easier for them, to love me. i would question that kind of love and i would accuse them to be their pet.
the way, i wish people would become better than they are now could never be achieved with genetic enhancements. the only thing, what genetic science could be good for is for medical reasons. not for arbitrary wishes and ephemerally values, contemporary fashion and questionable goals.
the rest of your outburst i could only comment with : wtf?

(João Luz) #19

I try not to be as agressive as Zeus in my interventions, but I do think that he made some valid points.

It is simple. The reason why other people don’t see it is not because they are stupid but because they, like you, are stuck to a series of psico-social and cultural misconceptions that make them cringe whenever they hear anything about transhumanism. They make some points that sound good at first, but a careful analysis reveal that those points are ultimately based on the naturalistic fallacy and the only reason why they sound good is because they appeal to people’s emotions.

Pretty much every radical ideology is called nazi or communist by someone in this day and age. It’s an easy way to dismiss people who think differently. As a matter of fact, I think that these allegations of transhumanism being somehow akin to nazism come off as pretty ironic when we consider that social darwinism, one of the most widely known examples of the naturalistic fallacy, was the actual basis for the ideology nazism. Naturalists are the nazis, not we.

It’s important that we understand the difference between reasonable simplification and greedy reductionism. It’s useful and legitimate to put things in simple terms in order to eliminate from our discussion any signs of the psico-social and cultural misconceptions that I mentioned before as well as to ensure that an arguments strength lies in its true rational content and not in it’s capacity to generate an emotional response in people.

That is a valid point. I define better children as children that are more capable of making themselves and the others happy in life, thus upholding basic human values.

A smarter (either generally or in some more specific way) and more physically capable child would definitly be better than a less intelligent and physically weaker child.

Of course that parents would be as generalistic as that, and they would modify their children to fit their personal preferences, either in important issues such as those or in trivial ones such as eye colour. Cruel and obnoxious modifications could be easily forbidden by the law without forbidding the whole of genetic modification, while the legitimate modifications, even the ones made by prefference of the parents, should be allowed because they would increase diversity and boost the human enhancement industry.

Again, I don’t know what you are talking about, but it isn’t genetic engineering. It sounds more like a bunch of abortions done at the same time, which, as I said, is an issue for another debate.

In the genetic engineering that I think everyone defends in this forum, no one would have to die. What would actually happen is that your brother would have had his sex, eye colour or whatever changed before he was born because your parents thought they preffered it that way.

I don’t want to sound cold (I know I do most of the times) but those are nothing but your own personal emotions. You build most your comments in a way that makes people cringe, and it’s effective, I’ll grant you that, but it’s not a valid way of philosophical debate.

I would put things in a very different way. I would say that my parents had modified me in the way that they saw as more likely to make succeed in life and, yes, they had made a few modifications just because they themselves preffered me that way, but that didn’t mean that they wouldn’t love me if I had been born another way. It only meant that I would have been born exactly has they wanted me to be and, if that made them happy, I would be happy for them as well. One way or another, I obviously wouldn’t have had the chance to choose my own characteristics before I was born, so, why on Earth should I be angry at my parents for having done that, even if part of it had been for their own sake?

As I can see I don’t share your feelings, so, do you think you have the right to impose on me a morality that is based on them?

While it’s true that most people in the west feel the way you do, more than 80% being against the use of genetic engineering to make “designer babies”, the statistics totally shift in east asian countries such as China. There are whole nations of people that overwhelmingly reject your thesis, and those people don’t share the psico-social and cultural preconceptions that lie behind your cringe feelings.

That’s why ethics should not be be based on personal and subjective emotions but on hard and objective facts. If you you don’t start a philosophical discussion by stating things that everyone can agree with, you have no legitimacy to expect people to be converted to your position.


naturalistic fallacy or cultural misconceptions? is it the same?
how could we be sure that our ideas of what are “better” features of humans are not also based on cultural misconceptions and naturalistic fallacy? “intelligence”, “strength”, “physically capable” etc.
i always heard about those features as if they are unquestionable axioms.

"Moore argues it would be fallacious to explain that which is good reductively in terms of natural properties such as “pleasant” or “desirable”. "

and now everybody from zeus to amon twyman and you argues for desirable (?) human features which i should just swallow as …what…right, rational ? “good” , “pleasant”, “desirable”, “better”…better than what?

this sounds pleasant and desirable. you are a human with emotions, i suppose…what are your basics for your arguments? your emotions? do you feel that “making others happy” is a value? or do you have a “more solid” ground for that values than your emotions? a better ground than the naturalistic fallacy that declare good values as those which are pleasant and desirable? if you accusing me of naturalistic fallacy, then you have to prove, that all values and features you listed to justify eugenics are mere rationality without human emotionality.
what are basic human values and why are they basic human values? you said:

this is a good idea but what is the difference between “appeal to people’s emotions” and “intrinsic to human psychology” ?

“boost the human enhancement industry” <—is this a basic human value or something you feel that might be pleasant and desirable? and if you consider “naturalistic fallacy” as a fault, that should be avoided, then why do you choose in your next step the legitimation for parents to act concerning the naturalistic fallacy and decide emotionally about our next generation how they should become according to what parents find desirable and pleasant?

again, i talk about the PGD[quote=“zanthia, post:12, topic:1118”]
but i think you are right and active designing of people will not come soon, but what we have to deal with is the selection of people who may live and who may not. so maybe we should refer to the PGD, first.

the current form we already do eugenics

before i want to go to clean up the mess with the compensation of arbitrary laws out of trial and error and already created sorrow, i want to have a clear ethical ground. it should be in this order. and what about “obnoxious”? something that does not appeal to peoples emotions…if you consider this as solid ground, you have a problem with naturalistic fallacy as well. [quote=“Joao_Luz, post:19, topic:1118”]
What would actually happen is that your brother would have had his sex, eye colour or whatever changed before he was born because your parents thought they preffered it that way.

but in that case i will take amon twymans well deliberated position of negative liberty: to let someone be as he is able to be!

it was an answer to zeus question, and he asked me, personally:[quote=“ZeUs, post:17, topic:1118”]
Let me just ask you this, if anyone told you you are better than you would be without help, would you feel bad about having gotten help?

first, you stated that my philosophical deliberations are based on my emotions, then you concluded that this is not valid ( i suppose you mean philosophical arguments should be based on rationality and not on feelings. ) so in your opinion good arguments should not be based on feelings. then why should i now consider your statement above as relevant : that i should respect how you feel (that you have different feelings about the topic than i) about eugenics ?

with “they” you include me, i suppose. i recognise that you made an effort to convince me and your post is rhetorically adept, but a careful analysis to prove that my deliberations are based on the naturalistic fallacy, is missing.

to avoid any further misunderstandings, i will try to sort out my statements and clean them from my emotions.

  1. a justification for my freedom, to change my body :

a) i am the owner of my body
b) i am able to decide and to express my wishes
c) if there are technological possibilities to change my body, there is no justification for other people to stop me to make use of them, as far as the changes don´t violate the negative liberty of others.

a) when does the ownership of my own body begin?
b) what if i am unconscious or in a state where i could not decide and express my wishes? is there a cause that could end my freedom?
c) is a zygote part of my body that i am allowed to change or is it a new body that has to be respected as rightholder of its own negative liberty?

to solve problems a) and c) we need more deliberations and it becomes complicated. for problem b) we have a model:
if an unconscious patient is brought into the emergency room, interference with his body is allowed based on ethical values :

  • to help others when help is needed
  • to help others when you have the capabilities to help
  • to help in that way how you could imagine that the patient would wish how you helped him if he was conscious and could express his wishes and to do the best you can.

without that model, no physician would be allowed to interfere with someone else´s body, so we could conclude that this is a useful model. this model does not violate negative liberty, because wounded patients could not be left to be as they are because they are alone on their own not be able to maintain what they are when they are wounded and going to die. "In Berlin’s words, “liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question: ‘What is the area within which the subject—a person or group of persons—is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons’.” " (wikipedia, negative liberty)

so we have a limit for the idea of “non- interference” with someones body, that does not violate negative liberty. and we find the model for it in the realm of medical ethics.

when we now want to change a zygote - and we skip the topic “PGD” because you want to discuss the different case of actively changing a single zygote:

-we could do that almost without violating negative liberty when we apply the model described above. if we have the capabilities to cure diseases on the genetic level and to heal disabilities we could justify our interference with the statement, that medical doctors have a duty to help and to heal in the best way they are capable of even if they are confronted with unconscious persons who could not express their wishes. so it is not justifiable to withhold this kind of help from a zygote. to me, this is a good position to justify and to demand a form of eugenics. although disability activists could argue, that a zygote of a deaf or a blind child could be “left to be without interference” i see a good chance that this conflict could be solved.

but this is the limit of my wisdom. with all other forms of interferences the ethical problems become very complex with much consequences that are anything else but simple.
for example if we try to solve problem 1. a):

  • if human life should not begin with a zygote, then what could be the beginning?
    sentience ( is a zygote not setient? do we have proof?), consciousness, qualia, cognitive abilities, own wishes/will, abilities to express a will, a form of language, the ability to live outside a uterus ( natural or artificial), etc…

or problem 1. c):

  • what belongs to my body?
    my germ cells, a zygote, a clone, every lineal descendant?

whatever line we will draw, we will be confronted with many new problems:

  • what about comatose people ( they could not express their will, have no ability to live without help)
  • what about cryopreservated people ( no will, no conscience, no sentience, no qualia, no abilities to live without help…nothing but organic material)
  • what about embryos and babies: could we use them as spare parts storage for organs?
  • what about clones? would my clone be “my body” and i could do with her whatever i want? where to draw the line when we allow parents to design their baby, on what ground could we forbid, that people surgically alter and enhance their clone?
  • what if a genetically “baby design” fails? should parents be allowed to surgically alter their babies for compensation?
  • if parents are allowed to genetically enhance their unborn, on what ground could we forbid that they surgically alter their offspring? at what age should a child be allowed to demand his own negative liberty?