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Hedonistic Theories – Philosophy Home Page

Posted: September 18, 2016 at 8:14 am

Abstract: The refinement of hedonism as an ethical theory involves several surprising and important distinctions. Several counter-examples to hedonism are discussed.

I. Hedonistic theories are one possible answer to the question of “What is intrinsic goodness?”

Similar theories might involve enjoyment, satisfaction, happiness, as concepts substituted for pleasure. A major problem of hedonism is getting clear as of what pleasure and pain consist. Are pleasures events, properties, states, or some other kind of entity?

II. The hedonistic position can be substantially refined.

Some persons have mistakenly taken this distinction to mean that “Therefore, you can’t generalize about what actions should be done because they would differ for different people; hence, ethics is relative.”

Think about how this statement is logically related to C.L. Kleinke’s observation in his book Self-Perception that “What distinguishes emotions such as anger, fear, love, elation, anxiety, and disgust is not what is going on inside the body but rather what is happening in the outside environment.” (C.L. Kleinke, Self-Perception (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1978), 2.)

III. The hedonist doesn’t seek pleasure constantlya constant indulgence of appetites makes people miserable in the long run.

When hungry, seek food; when poor, seek money; when restless, seek physical activity. We don’t seek pleasure in these situations. As John Stuart Mill stated, “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness along the way.”

IV. John Hospers proposes three counter-examples to hedonism.

Recommended Sources

Hedonism:A discussion of hedonism from the Stanford Encyclopedia with some emphasis relating to egoism and utilitarianism by Andrew Moore.

Hedonism: An outline of some basic concepts hedonistic philosophy with brief mention of Epicurus, Bentham, Mill, and Freud from the Wikipedia.

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Alan Watt On Eugenics & Charles Galton Darwin’s "The Next …

Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm

This is Alan Watt’s RBN broadcast from November 19, 2008:

mp3 – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… transcript – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co…

Nov. 19, 2008 Alan Watt “Cutting Through The Matrix” LIVE on RBN:

Class Arrogance and Darwinian Agenda: “Eugenics, Bioethics, Genome Titles Charmin’, Creation of Master Breed by Charles Galton Darwin, To ‘The Next Million Years,’ Raise Glass, Toast, ‘We’ll Still Be Controllers,’ The Elite do Boast, Darwin’s Hereditary is All Rather Murky, Inbred with Wedgwood, Galton and Huxley, John Maynard Keynes and Others Since Then, Producing a Breed of Superior Men, Who’ll Rule O’er a World, a Purpose-Made Race, Once They’ve Killed Off the Old Man, Bloody Disgrace”

(BOOK: “The Next Million Years” by Charles Galton Darwin.)

Topics discussed: The Matrix – Eugenics, Intermarriage, Elite – Britain, Class Distinction, India, Caste System – Charles Darwin – Royal Society – Inbreeding for Traits – Galton – Forced Sterilization. C.G. Darwin – Huxley Family, Aldous, Julian, Thomas – Malthus, Poorhouses – Inbred “Clones”. Keynes, New Economic System – UNESCO – Germany, Natzis – “Master Breed” – Plato’s “Republic” – Rulers, Technocrats, Parallel Government – Survival Capabilities, Domestication. Population Control – Use of Hormones, Drugs – Synthetic Estrogen, Male Infertility – Passing on Information – Materialism. Human Genome Project – Willing Fools – Genetics, Enhancement. Zarathustrian Technique, Priests, Distortion of Perception – Downloaded Conclusions – Control of Mind – Personal Integrity.

Topics of show covered in following links:

“Charles Galton Darwin” Wikipedia (wikipedia.org) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_…

“Order of the British Empire” Wikipedia (wikipedia.org) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of…

“The Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program” (genome.gov) – http://www.genome.gov/ELSI/

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See also Alan Watt: The Neo-Eugenics War On Humanity – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQbvcx… transcript – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co…

Alan Watt’s RBN broadcast from November 20, 2008:

mp3 – http://cuttingthrough.jenkness.com/CT… transcript – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DanzW…

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Alan Watt also discusses Charles Galton Darwin’s book “The Next Million Years” in his RBN broadcasts from February 3, 4 and 6, 2009:

Feb. 3, 2009 mp3 – http://cuttingthrough.jenkness.com/CT… transcript – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoW74Z…

Feb. 4, 2009 mp3 – http://cuttingthrough.jenkness.com/CT… transcript – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbxFyB…

Feb. 6, 2009 mp3 – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.us… transcript – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6ylKN…

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For more free downloadable audios by Alan Watt see – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co…

If you gain anything at all from these audios, then please consider making a donation to Alan Watt – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co…

Watt also has a few items for sale on his website:

Books – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… DVDs – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co… CDs – http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.co…

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Alan Watt On Eugenics & Charles Galton Darwin’s "The Next …

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Futurism | ATKINSON+CO

Posted: at 2:29 pm

Inspired by the drawings of Antonio SantElia, these visualisations were created to show hisvast imaginary monolithic structures placed in a London setting 100 years later. Below are a few lines from the Wikipedia article describing his life and career.

Antonio SantElia was born inComo,Lombardy. A builder by training, he opened adesignoffice inMilanin 1912 and became involved with theFuturistmovement. Between 1912 and 1914, influenced by industrial cities of theUnited Statesand the architectsRenzo Picasso,Otto WagnerandAdolf Loos, he began a series of design drawings for a futuristCitt Nuova(New City) that was conceived as a symbol of a new age.

Many of these drawings were displayed at the only exhibition of theNuove Tendenzegroup (of which he was a member) exhibition in May/June 1914 at the Famiglia Artistica gallery. Today, some of these drawings are on permanent display at Comos art gallery (Pinacoteca).

ThemanifestoFuturist Architecturewas published in August 1914, supposedly by SantElia, though this is subject to debate. In it the author stated that the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials.His vision was for a highly industrialised andmechanizedcity of the future, which he saw not as a mass of individual buildings but a vast, multi-level, interconnected and integrated urbanconurbationdesigned around the life of the city. His extremely influential designs featured vast monolithicskyscraperbuildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that embodied the sheer excitement of modern architecture and technology. Even in this excitement for technology and modernity, in SantElias monumentalism, however, can be found elements ofArt NouveauarchitectGiuseppe Sommaruga.

Anationalistas well as anirredentist, SantElia joined the Italian army as Italy enteredWorld War Iin 1915. He was killed during theEighth Battle of the Isonzo, nearGorizia. Most of his designs were never built, but his futurist vision has influenced many architects, artists and designers.

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List of Micronations

Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:17 am

List of Physical Micronations

This page documents micronational entities which are reliably known to have projected one or more aspects of their operations into the corporeal world. This might involve any of the following:

claiming, but not holding legal title to or occupying a defined physical territory on Earth, or on other planets or asteroids.

claiming and holding legal title to but not occupying, a defined physical territory on Earth.

claiming, holding legal title to and physically occupying a defined physical territory on Earth.

producing original stamps, coins, banknotes, flags, medals, regalia etc in commercial quantities, via commercial processes, either for commercial sale or for specific publicly-documented internal purposes.

creating and maintaining group-specific monuments, buildings and structures.

conducting publicly-documented, group-specific activities (such as inaugurations, commemorations, media briefings, meetings of principals and social gatherings) – in person.

Name (short form)

Name (long form)

Active

n/a

Rural property near Cooma + private residence in Sydney suburb of Narrabeen + various other properties in New South Wales.

n/a

Active

Austenasia

Bahoudii

Active

+61 2 4871 2483

Leif Elggren

Defunct

n/a

Little Scotland

Defunct

n/a

n/a

Mark Pedley

Pearlasia Pedley

Richard McDonald

n/a

n/a

(also known as Kingdom of Lindisfaras)

n/a

Joseph “Little Joe” Rigoli

Rua Sacadura Cabral,

301GamboaCentro,

Rio de JaneiroRJ CEP 20.221-160

Brazil

Active

n/a

Rainbow Creek

Reunion

Active

Active

n/a

Michael Bates

Johannes Seiger

Derwin Mak

Alan Caum

State of Freedom

Defunct

(King John)

(King Louis)

n/a

Twochairs

Defunct

West Antarctica

Robert Taylor

Defunct

To be included in this list, a micronation must be able to demonstrate that it has been in existence for a minimum of 12 months. Micronations whose members publicly advocate the prosecution of acts of criminality will not be listed.

Website link:

If the micronation is active or inactive, a link to its website is provided.

If the micronation is defunct, a link is provided to the following: (i) an archived version of the micronation’s website – or if that does not exist, (ii) the relevant Wikipedia article about the micronation – or if that does not exist, (iii) a report about the micronation published by a reliable print media source.

Email:

If the micronation lists an email address on its website, it is linked with an .

If the micronation has no published email address, and only allows form-based communication via its website, no email address is listed.

Primary contact:

For active micronations, the primary contact is the founder or current leader – whichever is most relevant.

For inactive or defunct micronations, the primary contact is the founder or last known leader.

The name of the primary contact is their actual legal name; false names, pseudonymous identities and assumed styles and titularies are not listed.

If the primary contact has a known publicly-listed telephone number, it is listed below their name.

If the primary contact is known to be deceased, the entry is marked with a

Where information is uncertain or unknown, it is marked with a ?

Contact location:

The contact location is the primary contact’s most recent known primary place of residence.

Where information is uncertain or unknown, it is marked with a ?

Physical territory claimed:

If the micronation maintains claims over one or more pieces of physical geography on Earth or on planets, planetoids, natural satellites, asteroids or other heavenly bodies elsewhere in the universe, the entry is marked with a .

If the micronation does not maintain any such claim, the entry is marked with a .

Physical territory owned / occupied / controlled:

If the micronation maintains claims over one or more pieces of physical geography on Earth or on planets, planetoids, natural satellites, asteroids or other heavenly bodies elsewhere in the universe and shows credible evidence that it, or one or more of its members physically owns, occupies and otherwise exercises control over the territory in question, the entry is marked with a .

If the micronation does not physically own, occupy and otherwise exercise control over the territory which it claims, the entry is marked with a .

If the micronation physically owns, occupies and controls part of the territory it claims, the entry is marked with a if the area under its control is less than or equal to 50% of the claim, and if it is 51% or greater of the claim.

Status:

Active = the micronation’s website has been updated within the previous 12 months, or offline activity is credibly known to have occurred.

Inactive = there is no credible evidence of online or offline activity by the micronation in the previous 12 months, but its domain and website remain registered and publicly accessible, and there is a credible reason to believe that this indicates a willingness or intent on the part of those involved to revive the project at some future juncture.

Defunct = the micronation has entirely ceased to exist. There is no credible evidence of online or offline activity of any sort in the previous 12 months, and no credible reason to assume this is likely to change. Alternatively, those involved in creating or maintaining it have announced the termination of the project, are credibly known to be no longer involved, or are no longer contactable. If the micronation possessed a website, that site may still be publicly accessible by default (ie without the need for human intervention) – but it is more likely than not to now only be accessible via third party archives, or not at all.

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Space exploration New World Encyclopedia

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

Space exploration is the physical exploration of outer space, by both human spaceflights and robotic spacecraft. Although the observation of objects in space (that is, astronomy) predates reliable recorded history, space exploration became a practical possibility only after the development of large, liquid-fueled rocket engines during the early twentieth century. Common rationales for exploring space include advancing scientific research, uniting different nations, and ensuring the future survival of humanity.

Space exploration has often been used as a proxy competition for geopolitical rivalries, particularly the Cold War. The early era of space exploration was driven by a space race between the Soviet Union and the United States. The launch of the first human-made object to orbit the Earth, the USSR’s Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, and the first Moon landing by the American Apollo 11 craft on July 20, 1969, are often taken as the boundaries for this initial period. After the first 20 years of exploration, focus shifted from one-off flights to renewable hardware, such as the Space Shuttle program, and from competition to cooperation, as with the International Space Station. From the 1990s onward, private interests began promoting space tourism. Larger government programs have advocated manned missions to the Moon and possibly Mars sometime after 2010.

Space exploration programs have received various criticisms, on cost or safety grounds, but there are many advocates as well, and public opinion in many countries is usually supportive of these programs. In any case, space missions have resulted in a variety of important discoveries, including the effects of low gravity on humans, the presence of Van Allen belts around the Earth, images of the far side of the Moon, and the absence of intelligent life on Mars. Current discussions revolve around the possibility of space colonizationthat is, the establishment of human settlements on extraterrestrial objects.

The first successful orbital launch was of the Soviet unmanned Sputnik 1 (Satellite I) mission on October 4, 1957. The satellite weighed about 83 kg (184 pounds), and is believed to have orbited Earth at a height of about 250 km (150 miles). It had two radio transmitters (20 and 40 MHz), which emitted “beeps” that could be heard by any radio around the globe. Analysis of the radio signals was used to gather information about the electron density of the ionosphere, while temperature and pressure data was encoded in the duration of radio beeps. The results indicated that the satellite was not punctured by a meteoroid. Sputnik 1 was launched by an R-7 rocket. It incinerated upon re-entry on January 3, 1958.

This success led to an escalation of the American space program, which unsuccessfully attempted to launch Vanguard 1 into orbit two months later. On January 31, 1958, the U.S. successfully orbited Explorer 1 on a Juno rocket. In the meantime, the Soviet dog Laika became the first animal in orbit on November 3, 1957.

The first human spaceflight was Vostok 1 (Sunrise 1) , carrying 27 year old cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. The spacecraft completed one orbit around the globe, lasting about 1 hour and 48 minutes. Gagarin’s flight was a demonstration of the advanced Soviet space program, and it opened an entirely new era in space exploration: Manned space flights.

The U.S. launched its first man into space within a month of Gagarin’s flight, with the first Mercury flight by Alan Shepard. Orbital flight was achieved by the United States when John Glenn’s Mercury-Atlas 6 orbited the Earth on February 20, 1962.

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, orbited the Earth 48 times aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963.

China launched its first taikonaut into space 42 years later, with the flight of Colonel Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 (Spaceboat 5) spacecraft.

The dream of stepping into the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere was driven by rocket technology. The German V2 was the first rocket to travel into space, overcoming the problems of thrust and material failure. During the final days of World War II, this technology was obtained by both the Americans and Soviets as were its designers. The initial driving force for further development of the technology was a weapons race for inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to be used as long-range carriers for fast nuclear weapon delivery. In 1961, when the USSR launched the first man into space, the U.S. declared itself to be in a “Space Race” with Russia.

Other key people included:

The earliest discoveries included the fact that humans could survive in zero gravity. Once the Russians had progressed to flights that were longer than a few hours, space adaptation syndrome appeared; where the sickness and disorientation due to the removal of gravity caused physical symptoms.

In space stations, the effects of zero gravity on bones and skeletal muscles has become more evident, where the human body becomes progressively more optimized for zero-gravity to the extent that return to the Earth becomes problematic and humans become progressively more adapted to the weightless environment.

Americans were the first to discover the existence of the Van Allen belts around the Earth. These belts contain radiation trapped by the Earth’s magnetic fields, which currently prevent habitable space stations from being placed above 1,000 km.

Russians were the first to take pictures of the far side of the moon, which had never been visible to humans. It was discovered that the far side was somewhat different, more heavily cratered.

U.S. Apollo missions returned rocks from the Moon, supporting the theory that the Moon was once part of the Earth.

Contrary to fanciful early reports from astronomers viewing Mars, no canals, and certainly no advanced lifeforms are present on the surface of that planet, but the presence of microscopic organisms has not been ruled out.

Space colonization, also called space settlement or space humanization, implies the permanent, autonomous (self-sufficient) human habitation of locations beyond Earth, especially on natural satellites such as the Moon or planets such as Mars. It would rely on significant amounts of In-Situ Resource Utilization.

Many past and current concepts for the continued exploration and colonization of space focus on a return to the Moon as a “stepping stone” to the other planets, especially Mars. Traditional concepts also called for the construction of orbital shipyards for the construction of inter-planetary vessels. Unfortunately, such concepts were prohibitively expensive, with estimated costs of $450 billion or more.

During the 1990s, however, aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin developed the “Mars Direct” plan, emphasizing the utilization of Martian resources. In his widely acclaimed book Mars Direct, Zubrin explained how human beings could be sent to Mars within 10 years, using existing or foreseeable technologies, at a cost of between 20-30 billion dollars.

Other efforts have included the Ansari X Prize, which offered a 10 million dollar prize to any private, non-government organization that could develop a spacecraft capable of launching three human beings into space, returning them safely to Earth, and repeating the feat within 2 weeks. The X-prize was a resounding success with the launch of Space Ship One, which was developed from scratch for only 25 million dollars, a tiny fraction of the cost of a single space shuttle launch. This development was accompanied by other prize incentives, and plans for routine space tourist flights.

Although only the United States, Soviet Union/Russian, and Chinese space programs have launched humans into orbit, a number of other countries have space agencies that design and launch satellites, conduct space research and coordinate national astronaut programs.

Did you know?

Critics of space exploration usually point out the costs, limitations, and risks of human spaceflight. It is more expensive to perform certain tasks in space by humans rather than by robots or other machines. People need large spacecraft that contain provisions such as a hermetic and temperature-controlled cabin, production of breathable air, food and drink storage, waste disposal, communications systems, and safety features such as crew escape systems and medical facilities. There is also the question of the security of the spacecraft as whole; losing a robot is nowhere near as tragic as human loss, so overall safety of non-human missions is not as much of an issue.

All the extra costs have to be weighed against the benefits of having humans aboard. Some critics argue that those few instances where human intervention is essential do not justify the enormous extra costs of having humans aboard. However, others argue that many tasks can be more effectively accomplished by human beings.

Some, including the late physicist and Nobel prize winner Richard Feynman, have contended that space missions have not achieved any major scientific breakthroughs. However, others have argued that, besides the large (and otherwise unavailable) amount of planetary data returned by spacecraft, there have been many indirect scientific achievements, including development of the modern computer, lasers, and so forth.

The results of research carried out by space exploration agencies, such as NASA, is one of the reasons supporters justify government expenses. Some even claim that space exploration is a necessity to humankind and that staying in its home planet will lead humanity to oblivion. Some of the reasons are lack of natural resources, comets, nuclear war, and worldwide epidemic. Stephen Hawking, renowned British theoretical physicist, said that “I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars.”[1]

Some critics contend that in light of the huge distances in space, human space travel will involve no more than visiting earth’s closest neighbors in the Solar System, barring any actualization of the theoretical concept of faster-than-light travel. Even such limited travel would consume large amounts of money and require complex spacecraft accommodating only a handful of people. Supporters of human space travel state that this is irrelevant, because its real value lies in providing a focal point for national prestige, patriotism, and international cooperation. They suggest the Clinton administration’s close cooperation with Russia on the International Space Station (ISS) gave Russia something to take pride in, becoming a stabilizing factor in post-communist Russia. From this point of view, the ISS was a justifiable cash outlay.

Some people also have moral objections to the huge costs of space travel, and say that even a fraction of the space travel budget would make a huge difference in fighting disease and hunger in the world. However, compared to much more costly endeavors, like military actions, space exploration itself receives a very small percentage of total government spending (nearly always under 0.5 percent), and space-exploration advocates frequently point out that long-term benefits could outweigh short-term costs. In addition, the successful launches of Space Ship One, a privately constructed, reusable space plane developed for only $25 million, has diminished the impact of cost-based criticisms.

Overall, the public remains largely supportive of both manned and unmanned space exploration. According to an Associated Press Poll conducted in July 2003, 71 percent of U.S. citizens agreed with the statement that the space program is “a good investment,” compared to 21 percent who did not.[2] NASA has produced a series of Public Service Announcement videos supporting the concept of space exploration.[3]

This is not to say that space exploration advocates do not criticize existing programs. Some supporters of space explorations, such as Robert Zubrin, have criticized on-orbit assembly of spacecraft as unnecessary and expensive, and argue for a direct approach for human exploration, such as Mars Direct.

Twenty-first century space advocates continue to work towards more advanced spacecraft, rotating space stations, lunar bases, and colonies on Mars. Some of these visions may come true, though significant obstacles remain.

All links retrieved October 14, 2015.

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Darwinism – New World Encyclopedia

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Darwinism is a term that is generally considered synonymous with the theory of natural selection. This theory, which was developed by Charles Darwin, holds that natural selection is the directive or creative force of evolution.

The term “Darwinism” also has been applied to the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin in general, rather than just the theory of natural selection. It may also refer specifically to the role of Charles Darwin as opposed to others in the history of evolutionary thoughtparticularly contrasting Darwin’s results with those of earlier theories, such as Lamarckism, or with more modern versions, such as the modern evolutionary synthesis.

According to Ernst Mayr (1991), how the term “Darwinism” has been and is used depends on who is using it and the time period. On the other hand, Harvard evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, himself a popular writer on evolution, maintains that although the popular literature often equates Darwinism with evolution itself, the scientific community generally agrees that the term “should be restricted to the worldview encompassed by the theory of natural selection” (Gould 1982). That is, the term should be limited to the philosophical concept of Darwin’s theory regarding the mechanism for evolutionary change.

Since the time of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859), Darwinism has confronted challenges from both the scientific and religious communities. Among persistent scientific challenges are the lack of evidences for natural selection as the causal agent of macroevolutionary change; the issue of whether evidences on the microevolutionary level can be extrapolated to the macroevolutionary level; and the surprisingly rapid rate of speciation and prolonged stasis seen in the fossil record (see macroevolution). For religious adherents, the central role accorded “chance” in the evolution of new designs via natural selection is not proved and runs counter to the concept of a creator God. (See Challenges to Darwinism.)

The theory of natural selection is one of two major evolutionary theories advanced by Darwin, the other being the theory of descent with modification. The theory of descent with modification deals with the pattern of evolution: groups of organisms are related with one another, sharing common ancestors from which they have descended. The theory of natural selection (or “theory of modification through natural selection”) deals with the process or mechanism of evolution: how the evolutionary change occurred in order to arrive at the pattern.

Natural selection is the mechanism whereby populations of individuals with favorable traits reproduce more than individuals that lack such beneficial traits, and populations of individuals with deleterious traits reproduce less than individuals without such harmful traits. Over time, this results in a trend toward individuals with traits more conducive to their survival and reproduction. According to this theory, natural selection is the directive or creative force of evolution, creating new species and new designs, rather than just a force for weeding out unfit organisms.

In a modern definition of the term, a Darwinian process requires the following schema:

If the entity or organism survives to reproduce, the process restarts. Sometimes, in stricter formulations, it is required that variation and selection act on different entities, variation on the replicator (genotype) and selection on the interactor (phenotype).

Darwinism asserts that in any system given these conditions, by whatever means, evolution is likely to occur. That is, over time, the entities will accumulate complex traits that favor their reproduction. This is called Universal Darwinism, a term coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1972 book Selfish Gene.

Some scientists, including Darwin, maintain that natural selection only works on the level of the organism. Others, such as Gould, believe in hierarchical levels of selectionthat natural selection can work both on individuals or groups of individuals, such that some populations or species may have favorable traits that promote their survival and reproduction over other species or populations. Richard Dawkins maintained that natural selection worked on the level of the gene, although this has been generally discredited in scientific circles.

On the microevolutionary level (change within species), there are evidences that natural selection can produce evolutionary change. For example, changes in gene frequencies can be observed in populations of fruit flies exposed to selective pressures in the laboratory environment. Likewise, systematic changes in various phenotypes within a species, such as color changes in moths, can be observed in field studies. However, evidence that natural selection is the directive force of change in terms of the origination of new designs (such as the development of feathers) or major transitions between higher taxa (such as the evolution of land-dwelling vertebrates from fish) is not observable. Evidence for such macroevolutionary change is limited to extrapolation from changes on the microevolutionary level. A number of top evolutionists, including Gould, challenge the validity of making such extrapolations.

In Darwin’s day, there was no rigid definition of the term “Darwinism,” and it was used by proponents and opponents of Darwin’s biological theory alike to mean whatever they wanted it to in a larger context. In the nineteenth-century context in which Darwin’s Origin of Species was first received, “Darwinism” came to stand for an entire range of evolutionary (and often revolutionary) philosophies about both biology and society.

One of the more prominent approaches was that summed up in the phrase “survival of the fittest” by the philosopher Herbert Spencer. This was later taken to be emblematic of Darwinism, even though Spencer’s own understanding of evolution was more Lamarckian than Darwinian, and predated the publication of Darwin’s theory.

What we now call “Social Darwinism” was, in its day, synonymous with one use of the word “Darwinism”the application of Darwinian principles of “struggle” to society, usually in support of anti-philanthropic political agendas. Another interpretation, one notably favored by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, was that Darwinism implied that natural selection was apparently no longer working on “civilized” people, thus it was possible for “inferior” strains of people (who would normally be filtered out of the gene pool) to overwhelm the “superior” strains, and corrective measures would have to be undertakenthe foundation of eugenics.

Many of the ideas called “Darwinism” had only a rough resemblance to the theory of Charles Darwin. For example, Ernst Haeckel developed what was known as Darwinisms in Germany; though it should be noted that his ideas was not centered around natural selection at all.

To distinguish themselves from the very loose meaning of Darwinism prevalent in the nineteenth century, those who advocated evolution by natural selection after the death of Darwin became known as neo-Darwinists. The term “neo-Darwinism” itself was coined by George John Romanes in 1896 to designate the Darwinism proposed by August Weismann and Alfred Russel Wallace, in which the exclusivity of natural selection was promoted and the inheritance of acquired characteristics (Larmarckism) was rejected (Mayr 2001; Gould 2002). At that time, near the end of the nineteenth century, there was a strong debate between the neo-Larmarckians and the neo-Darwinians.

The term neo-Darwinism was not terribly
popular in the scientific community until after the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s, when the term became synonymous with the synthesis. The modern meaning of neo-Darwinism is not “genealogically linked” to the earlier definition (Gould 2002).

It is felt by some that the term “Darwinism” is sometimes used by creationists as a somewhat derogatory term for “evolutionary biology,” in that casting of evolution as an “ism”a doctrine or beliefstrengthens calls for “equal time” for other beliefs, such as creationism or intelligent design. However, top evolutionary scientists, such as Gould and Mayr, have used the term repeatedly, without any derogatory connotations.

In addition to the difficulty of getting evidence for natural selection being the causal agent of change on macroevolutionary levels, as noted above, there are fundamental challenges to the theory of natural selection itself. These come from both the scientific and religious communities.

Such challenges to the theory of natural selection are not a new development. Unlike the theory of descent with modification, which was accepted by the scientific community during Darwin’s time and for which substantial evidences have been marshaled, the theory of natural selection was not widely accepted until the mid-1900s and remains controversial even today.

In some cases, key arguments against natural selection being the main or sole agent of evolutionary change come from evolutionary scientists. One concern for example, is whether the origin of new designs and evolutionary trends (macroevolution) can be explained adequately as an extrapolation of changes in gene frequencies within populations (microevolution) (Luria, Gould, and Singer 1981). (See macroevolution for an overview of such critiques, including complications relating to the rate of observed macroevolutionary changes.)

Symbiogenesis, the theory that holds that evolutionary change is initiated by a long-term symbiosis of dissimilar organisms, offers a scientific challenge to the source of variation and reduces the primacy of natural selection as the agent of major evolutionary change. Margulis and Sagan (2002) hold that random mutation is greatly overemphasized as the source of hereditary variation in standard Neo-Darwinistic doctrine. Rather, they maintain, the major source of transmitted variation actually comes from the acquisition of genomesin other words, entire sets of genes, in the form of whole organisms, are acquired and incorporated by other organisms. This long-term biological fusion of organisms, beginning as symbiosis, is held to be the agent of species evolution.

Historically, the strongest opposition to Darwinism, in the sense of being a synonym for the theory of natural selection, has come from those advocating religious viewpoints. In essence, the chance component involved in the creation of new designs, which is inherent in the theory of natural selection, runs counter to the concept of a Supreme Being who has designed and created humans and all phyla. Chance (stochastic processes, randomness) is centrally involved in the theory of natural selection. As noted by eminent evolutionist Ernst Mayr (2001, pp. 120, 228, 281), chance plays an important role in two steps. First, the production of genetic variation “is almost exclusively a chance phenomena.” Secondly, chance plays an important role even in “the process of the elimination of less fit individuals,” and particularly during periods of mass extinction.

This element of chance counters the view that the development of new evolutionary designs, including humans, was a progressive, purposeful creation by a Creator God. Rather than the end result, according to the theory of natural selection, human beings were an accident, the end of a long, chance-filled process involving adaptations to local environments. There is no higher purpose, no progressive development, just materialistic forces at work. The observed harmony in the world becomes an artifact of such adaptations of organisms to each other and to the local environment. Such views are squarely at odds with many religious interpretations.

A key point of contention between the worldview is, therefore, the issue of variabilityits origin and selection. For a Darwinist, random genetic mutation provides a mechanism of introducing novel variability, and natural selection acts on the variability. For those believing in a creator God, the introduced variability is not random, but directed by the Creator, although natural selection may act on the variability, more in the manner of removing unfit organisms than in any creative role. Some role may also be accorded differential selection, such as mass extinctions. Neither of these worldviewsrandom variation and the purposeless, non-progressive role of natural selection, or purposeful, progressive variationare conclusively proved or unproved by scientific methodology, and both are theoretically possible.

There are some scientists who feel that the importance accorded to genes in natural selection may be overstated. According to Jonathan Wells, genetic expression in developing embryos is impacted by morphology as well, such as membranes and cytoskeletal structure. DNA is seen as providing the means for coding of the proteins, but not necessarily the development of the embryo, the instructions of which must reside elsewhere. It is possible that the importance of sexual reproduction and genetic recombination in introducing variability also may be understated.

The history of conflict between Darwinism and religion often has been exacerbated by confusion and dogmatism on both sides. Evolutionary arguments often are set up against the straw man of a dogmatic, biblical fundamentalism in which God created each species separately and the earth is only 6,000 years old. Thus, an either-or dichotomy is created, in which one believes either in the theory of natural selection or an earth only thousands of years old. However, young-earth creationism is only a small subset of the diversity of religious belief, and theistic, teleological explanations of the origin of species may be much more sophisticated and aligned with scientific findings. On the other hand, evolutionary adherents have sometimes presented an equally dogmatic front, refusing to acknowledge well thought out challenges to the theory of natural selection, or allowing for the possibility of alternative, theistic presentations.

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Mind Uploading FAQs

Posted: June 30, 2016 at 3:35 am

What is ‘mind uploading’ (MU)? What is a ‘substrate-independent mind’ (SIM)? And what is ‘whole brain emulation’ (WBE)?

As described in the Wikipedia entry for mind uploading (MU),

‘mind uploading (sometimes called “mind copying” or “mind transfer”) is the hypothetical process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and “self”) from a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software-based artificial neural network.’

Mind uploading implies a process by which, from a subjective perspective, a person’s conscious experience (sense of ‘self’ or ‘personal identity’) continues, despite his or her neural functionality ceasing in the originating biological brain and subsequently occurring via brain-like processes in some other system (ostensibly some sort of computer). The concept of mind uploading therefore relies on the stance that all experience (sensory perception, conscious introspection, learning and memory, etc.) is an emergent function of neural-like processes. The biological brain is in that sense a device or machine, and as such utilizes functions which can be confidently replicated by properly arranged alternate systems, including nonbiological systems (once again, by this we imply something akin to a conventional computer).

A crucial component of mind uploading is that the process does not merely transfer or duplicate neurological or cognitive functions. Rather, it implies that a person’s subjective experience (their identity) also comes to be associated with the emergent functionality arising from the activity of the new brain-like substrate. This concept is referred to as preserving personal identity in the new substrate. Recent work has addressed the question of whether the particulars of the method used to achieve mind uploading would lead to different outcomes (Wiley & Koene, The Fallacy of Favoring Gradual Replacement Mind Uploading Over Scan-and-Copy)

The concept of mind uploading, in its full meaning, has been used in science fiction at least since the mid 1950s (e.g. Frederick Pohl, The Tunnel Under the World; Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars), and has also been used as a tool for thought experiments in philosophy. Mind uploading became a topic of considered scientific interest in the mid 1990s (e.g. the Mind Uploading Research Group).

A substrate-independent mind (SIM) is the method-agnostic term for the concept of a mind that can operate on many different types of underlying functional processing substrates, e.g. a biological brain, a special ‘neuromorphic’ device, software executed in a digital computer, etc. SIM is the desired result, the goal or objective of efforts to achieve mind uploading. The objective is to be able to sustain person-specific functions of mind and experience in many different operational substrates. A mind is then considered substrate-independent in a manner analogous to a programmer’s understanding of platform-independent computer code, which can be compiled to run on many different computing platforms.

Whole brain emulation (WBE) is the principal method proposed by which to accomplish SIM for mind uploading and many other purposes (e.g. general brain research, research into clinical neural prostheses, research into artificial general intelligence, etc). In academic research, the shorter term ‘brain emulation’ is sometimes used, and terms such as ‘whole-brain activity mapping’ are used to describe data acquisition tools developed and used in closely related fields of neuroscience. Whole brain emulation uses high resolution data about specific brain structure (e.g. the connectome) and specific brain activity (e.g. electrophysiology).

The term ’emulation’ is used, specifically, to underline the distinction when compared with investigative simulations carried out in computational neuroscience. Simulations are generally built to study system or mechanism principles derived and abstracted through the study of brain function in many animal or human subjects. While the principles learned there are important for WBE, the emulation aims to match the characteristics of mental function specific to an individual brain. When a smaller piece of a brain is emulated this is also known as a neural prostheses or neuroprosthetic (e.g. Berger et al and the hippocampal neural prosthesis).

Whole brain emulation can therefore also be thought of as applying neural prostheses to all parts of a person’s brain. Emulation, as a means to match a whole collection of target characteristics of a processing platform is also a well-known term in computing, where an emulator enables one computer system to behave like another one (e.g. emulating the old Commodore 64 on a modern computer). In engineering, the reverse engineering of a system for purposes such as emulation is known as system identification (as applied, for example, by Berger et al for the hippocampal prosthesis).

The site minduploading.org is dedicated to interest in the broader concept and goal of mind uploading. The site aims to serve general public and specialists alike, providing news, answers to questions and background information.

The minduploading.org site is closely affiliated with carboncopies.org, the non-profit organization operating as a nexus for activity and interest in the objective of substrate-independent minds (SIM). Carboncopies.org explains fundamental concepts of SIM and maintains the research roadmap and network. A Facebook carboncopies group carries on public discussions with contributed posts and updates about topical events and news.

The research site wholebrainemulation.org links to activities, labs and contacts in the fields of connectome research (e.g. high-throughput microscopy), neural prosthetics, neural interfacing, large-scale computational neuroscience and more.

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Golden Rule – New World Encyclopedia

Posted: June 28, 2016 at 2:56 am

The Golden Rule is a cross-cultural ethical precept found in virtually all the religions of the world. Also known as the “Ethic of Reciprocity,” the Golden Rule can be rendered in either positive or negative formulations: most expressions take a passive form, as expressed by the Jewish sage Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow neighbor. This is the whole Law, all the rest is commentary” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a). In Christianity, however, the principle is expressed affirmatively by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (Gospel of Matthew 7:12). This principle has for centuries been known in English as the Golden Rule in recognition of its high value and importance in both ethical living and reflection.

Arising as it does in nearly all cultures, the ethic of reciprocity is a principle that can readily be used in handling conflicts and promoting greater harmony and unity. Given the modern global trend of political, social, and economic integration and globalization, the Golden Rule of ethics may become even more relevant in the years ahead to foster inter-cultural and interreligious understanding.

Philosophers disagree about the nature of the Golden Rule: some have classified it as a form of deontological ethics (from the Greek deon, meaning “obligation”) whereby decisions are made primarily by considering one’s duties and the rights of others. Deontology posits the existence of a priori moral obligations suggesting that people ought to live by a set of permanently defined principles that do not change merely as a result of a change in circumstances. However, other philosophers have argued that most religious understandings of the Golden Rule imply its use as a virtue toward greater mutual respect for one’s neighbor rather than as a deontological formulation. They argue that the Golden Rule depends on everyone’s ability to accept and respect differences because even religious teachings vary. Thus, many philosophers, such as Karl Popper, have suggested that the Golden Rule can be best understood in term of what it is not (through the via negativa):

First, they note that the Golden Rule should not be confused with revenge, an eye for an eye, tit for tat, retributive justice or the law of retaliation. A key element of the ethic of reciprocity is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with due consideration. The Golden Rule should also not be confused with another major ethical principle, often known as Wiccan Rede, or liberty principle, which is an ethical prohibition against aggression. This rule is also an ethical rule of “license” or “right,” that is people can do anything they like as long as it does not harm others. This rule does not compel one to help the other in need. On the other hand, “the golden rule is a good standard which is further improved by doing unto others, wherever possible, as they want to be done by.”[1]

Lastly, the Golden Rule of ethics should not be confused with a “rule” in the semantic or logical sense. A logical loophole in the positive form of Golden “Rule” is that it would require a masochist to harm others, even without their consent, if that is what the masochist would wish for themselves. This loophole can be addressed by invoking a supplementary rule, which is sometimes called the Silver Rule. This states, “treat others in the way that they wish to be treated.” However, the Silver Rule may create another logical loophole. In a situation where an individual’s background or belief may offend the sentiment of the majority (such as homosexuality or blasphemy), the silver rule may imply ethical majority rule if the Golden Rule is enforced as if it were a law.

Under ethic of reciprocity, a person of atheist persuasion may have a (legal) right to insult religion under the right of freedom of expression but, as a personal choice, may refrain to do so in public out of respect to the sensitivity of the other. Conversely, a person of religious persuasion may refrain from taking action against such public display out of respect to the sensitivity of other about the right of freedom of speech. Conversely, the lack of mutual respect might mean that each side might deliberately violate the golden rule as a provocation (to assert one’s right) or as intimidation (to prevent other from making offense).

This understanding is crucial because it shows how to apply the golden rule. In 1963, John F. Kennedy ordered Alabama National Guardsmen to help admit two clearly qualified “Negro” students to the University of Alabama. In his speech that evening Kennedy appealed to every American:

Stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents throughout America…If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who will represent him, …. then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? …. The heart of the question is …. whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.[2]

It could be argued that the ethics of reciprocity may replace all other moral principles, or at least that it is superior to them. Though this guiding rule may not explicitly tell one which actions or treatments are right or wrong, it can provide one with moral coherenceit is a consistency principle. One’s actions are to be consistent with mutual love and respect to other fellow humans.

A survey of the religious scriptures of the world reveals striking congruence among their respective articulations of the Golden Rule of ethics. Not only do the scriptures reveal that the Golden Rule is an ancient precept, but they also show that there is almost unanimous agreement among the religions that this principle ought to govern human affairs. Virtually all of the world’s religions offer formulations of the Golden Rule somewhere in their scriptures, and they speak in unison on this principle. Consequently, the Golden Rule has been one of the key operating ideas that has governed human ethics and interaction over thousands of years. Specific examples and formulations of the Golden Rule from the religious scriptures of the world are found below:

In Buddhism, the first of the Five Precepts (Panca-sila) of Buddhism is to abstain from destruction of life. The justification of the precept is given in chapter ten of the Dhammapada, which states:

Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill. Everyone fears punishment; everyone loves life, as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill.

According to the second of Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, egoism (desire, craving or attachment) is rooted in ignorance and is considered as the cause of all suffering. Consequently, kindness, compassion and equanimity are regarded as the untainted aspect of human nature.

Even though the Golden Rule is a widely accepted religious ethic, Martin Forward writes that the Golden Rule is itself not beyond criticism. His critique of the Golden Rule is worth repeating in full. He writes:

Two serious criticisms can be leveled against [the Golden Rule]. First of all, although the Golden Rule makes sense as an aspiration, it is much more problematic when it is used as a foundation for practical living or philosophical reflection. For example: sh
ould we unfailingly pardon murderers on the grounds that, if we stood in their shoes, we should ourselves wish to be pardoned? Many goodly and godly people would have problems with such a proposal, even though it is a logical application of the Golden Rule. At the very least, then, it would be helpful to specify what sort of a rule the Golden Rule actually is, rather than assuming that it is an unqualified asset to ethical living in a pluralistic world. Furthermore, it is not usually seen as the heart of religion by faithful people, but simply as the obvious starting point for a religious and humane vision of life. Take the famous story in Judaism recorded in the Talmud: Shabbat 31:

Forward’s argument continues:

Even assuming that the Golden Rule could be developed into a more nuanced pattern of behaving well in todays world, there would still be issues for religious people to deal with. For whilst moral behavior is an important dimension of religion, it does not exhaust its meaning. There is a tendency for religious people in the West to play down or even despise doctrine, but this is surely a passing fancy. It is important for religious people in every culture to inquire after the nature of transcendence: its attitude towards humans and the created order; and the demands that it makes. People cannot sensibly describe what is demanded of them as important, without describing the source that wills it and enables it to be lived out. Besides, the world would be a safer place if people challenged paranoid and wicked visions of God (or however ultimate reality is defined) with truer and more generous ones, rather than if they abandoned the naming and defining of God to fearful and sociopath persons (From the Inter-religious Dialogue article in The Encyclopedia of General Knowledge).

In other words, Forward warns religious adherents not to be satisfied with merely the Golden Rule of ethics that can be interpreted and used as a form of religious and ethical relativism, but to ponder the deeper religious impulses that lead to the conviction of the Golden Rule in the first place, such as the idea of love in Christianity.

Due to its widespread acceptance in the world’s cultures, it has been suggested that the Golden Rule may be related to innate aspects of human nature. In fact, the principle of reciprocity has been mathematically proved to be the most mutually beneficial means of resolving conflict (as in the Prisoner’s Dilemma).[3] As it has touchstones in virtually all cultures, the ethic of reciprocity provides a universally comprehensible tool for handling conflictual situations. However, the logical and ethical objections presented above make the viability of this principle as a Kantian categorical imperative doubtful. In a world where sociopathy and religious zealotry exist, it is not always feasible to base one’s actions upon the perceived desires of others. Further, the Golden Rule, in modernity, has lost some of its persuasive power, after being diluted into a bland, secular precept through cloying e-mail forwards and newspaper cartoons. As Forward argues, perhaps the Golden Rule must be approached in its original religious context, as this context provides an ethical and metaphysical grounding for a belief in the ultimate power of human goodness.

Regardless of the above objections, modern trends of political, social, and economic globalization necessitate the development of understandable, codifiable and universally-accepted ethical guidelines. For this purpose, we (as a species) could certainly do worse than to rely upon the age-old, heuristic principle spelled out in the Golden Rule.

All links retrieved December 19, 2013.

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ThinkBeyond.us | What Is Transhumanism?

Posted: June 26, 2016 at 10:51 am

transhumanism, n.

trans hu man ism

an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Wikipedia

That’s the definition of “transhumanism” the Web offers up. It’s true in a sort of reductionist sense, but I’m not sure it’s a terribly useful definition.

If I were to define transhumanism, I’d say that it’s an idea whose premise is that human nature is not some fixed quantity, forever unalterable; it’s something that is a consequence of our biology and our environment, and it can be changed. Furthermore, advances in technology and in our understanding of biology, chemistry, and physics, give us the power to change it as we wish–to take evolution from a blind, undirected process to a process that we can make choices about. It’s predicated on the idea that we can, if we so desire, choose what it means to be human.

A great deal of conventional thought has always held on to the idea that “human nature” is something that’s a fundamental part of who we are, forever unalterable. Certain aspects of the human condition, from mortality to aggression, from disease to territoriality, have always been thought of as fixtures of the human condition; no matter how our society changes, no matter what we learn, these things have been assumed to be an immutable part of us.

Transhumanist thought holds that this isn’t so. We are physical entities, whose nature comes from an extraordinarily complex dance of biochemical processes happening in our bodies. The way we respond to stress, the way we behave, the way our bodies suffer gradually increasing debility, all these things are the consequence of the physical processes happening inside our bodies and brains.

And they can change. Improved diet has made us qualitatively different from our neolithic ancestors–taller, longer-lived. Thousands of generations living in large numbers have made us more able to function in complex social environments; we have, in a sense, domesticated ourselves.

Right now, advances in biotechnology offer to revolutionize our view of who we are. What if aging and death were no longer inevitable? What if we could invent ways to repair genetic disorders? What if the human brain, which is a physical organ, could be modeled inside a computer? What if we could develop techniques to make our brains operate more efficiently? These sound like science fiction to a lot of people, but every single one of them is the subject of active research in labs around the world right now.

Transhumanism is a highly rationalist idea. It rejects the notion that human beings are corrupt, doomed to suffer and die as a result of a fall from grace. Rather, it postulates that the things that make us who we are are knowable and comprehensible; that the state of being human is a fit subject for scientific inquiry; and that as we learn more about ourselves, our ability to shape who we are increases.

The implications of these ideas are deeply profound. Transhumanist philosophy is built from the notion that things like indefinite lifespan, brain modeling, and improvement of human physical and intellectual capacity are both possible and desirable. Transhumanism, therefore, is profoundly optimistic.

It is not, however, Utopian. Like all new technologies, these things all have potential consequences whose outlines we can’t see clearly yet. Therefore, transhumanism tends to be concerned not only with the possibility of biomedical technology but also its ethics; the study of transhumanism is, in large part, the study of bioethics. Who controls the direction of new, disruptive biomedical technology? What does it mean to be a “person;” is an artificial intelligence a person? How should new biomedical technology be introduced into society? How can it be made available democratically, to everyone who wishes it? What role is available to people who for whatever reason don’t choose to benefit from new advances in medical understanding?

At its core, transhumanism is deeply pragmatic. Since it seems likely that biotechnology is going to improve over time whether we think about the implications of it or not, transhumanists think about things like bioethics, immortality, and the nature of consciousness in concrete, real-world terms, rather than as philosophical exercises. One of the things I most like about transhumanism is its drive to ask questions like “How can we maximize the benefit of what we are learning while maintaining human agency, dignity, and the right to choose?” Transhumanists are invited to be skeptical about everything, including the premises of transhumanism. It is quite likely that whatever views of the future we dream up will be flawed, as most prognostication tends to be. But by getting into the habit of examining these ideas now, and of considering the moral and ethical dimensions of our accelerating understanding of biology, we can at least train ourselves to get into the habit of asking the right questions as new breakthroughs come.

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Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide – All sides

Posted: June 25, 2016 at 11:01 am

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A root cause for the desire to commit suicide is often depression. This can often be controlled with medication. If you are depressed, I strongly recommend that you seek medical help to see if your depression can be lifted.

Another cause of suicidal ideation is often intolerable levels of pain associated with a terminal illness, like cancer. Many physicians are reluctant to prescribe high levels of some pain killers out of fear that the person will become addicted to them. If you are suffering from pain in spite of medication, try insisting on better levels or types of pain killers. Recruit friends and family to intercede with your physician if you can.

If you feel overwhelmed and lack an effective support system of friends and family, consider tapping into the services of a crisis hotline. These are called by various names: distress centers, crisis centers, suicide prevention centers, etc. Their telephone numbers can often be found in the first page(s) of your telephone directory. If you cannot find a number for a center in your area, try phoning directory assistance at 4-1-1.

In the United States, you can call 1-800-273-TALK. See: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They will direct you to a crisis center in your area.

U.S. Crisis Center map

Crisis centers/distress centers/ etc are often confidential services that you can phone up at any time of the day or night for support. You can usually remain anonymous.

Wikipedia lists suicide crisis lines for many countries from Australia to the United States at: https://en.wikipedia.org/ Although these lines are often called “suicide prevention lines” or “crisis lines.” most of the people calling are not suicidal, not in crisis, but are in distress. So, don’t be reluctant to call them because you are not suicidal or in crisis.

Sponsored link.

Throughout North America, committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide is no longer a criminal offense. However, helping another person commit suicide is generally considered a criminal act. A few exceptions are:

There were four failed ballot initiatives between 1991 and 2000:

Between 1994 and 2016, there have been in excess of 75 legislative bills to legalize PAS in at least 21 states. Almost all failed to become law. 4

The author of this section is approaching his 80th birthday and is in good health. To him, end of life issues have taken on a personal aspect. Being an Agnostic, he doubts the existence of an afterlife. He does not fear death. He does not fear being dead. However, he has considerable fear about the process of dying, For many people in North America is an agonizingly painful and lengthy process during which time one’s enjoyment of life often drops to zero and becomes negative without any hope that it will return to positive territory. Fortunately for him, he lives in Canada which — like all other developed countries except for the U.S. — has universal health care. So he will receive competent medical attention. Unfortunately, pain management is often as poorly managed in Canada as it is in the U.S. He regards suicide as a civil right and would prefer that he have access to a means of suicide if life becomes unbearable. He thus strongly supports legalizing physician assisted suicide.

He is critical of PAS laws that have been passed to date because they generally give access to assisted dying only to terminally ill people who are expected to die in the near future of natural causes. They do not do anything for people who experience chronic, overwhelming pain with no hope of relief for years.

He has attempted to remain impartial, objective and fair while writing these essays.

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