20 Feb 2009

Bostrom, "Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up," 7 Structure of the Argument, and Further Supporting Reasons

Do we want to explore a new world of human possibilities?

Nick Bostrom

"Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up"

VII. Structure of the Argument, and Further Supporting Reasons

[Bostrom first reviews what he has so far said.]
Bostrom has so far shown that we already pursue increased capacities. So we can infer that posthuman levels would be even more worthwhile.

We are disposed to value certain things. But this disposition should be conditioned. A "dispositional theory of value" would say that something is valuable to us only if we are
a) perfectly rational
b) perfectly well-informed, and
c) perfectly acquainted with the thing being evaluated.

But those who desire posthuman enhancements can only do so because they are not yet perfectly rational. For they want improved cognitive capacities. And they are not perfectly well-informed on the technology, because it is not yet developed. And also for that reason they are also not perfectly acquainted with it. Hence it could be that were these conditions so, one would not desire a posthuman lifestyle.

Some might defeat Bostrom's argument by saying that for example those who are 90 make mistakes in their reasoning, especially when wanting longer lives. Bostrom rests with his prior argumentations as his defense.

There are other ways to come to Bostrom's conclusions. We might introspectively search our souls with the question: do we want longer more enjoyable lives? Or, we might consider our favorite value theory, and see if posthuman pursuits would aid in those values.

Also, there is a greater "space" of possibilities for life in posthumanity. Our current range of possibilities is far more limited. So how can we say that our current options are all the worthwhile ways to live?

Bostrom offers an analogy. Imagine a tribe that never went outside its small valley. Then, one member goes beyond and sees all the wonderful possibilities outside their limited world. This outside world is the world that we now live in, and which we value. So certainly by analogy we can say that the better posthuman world is more worthwhile.

Nick Bostrom. "Why I Want to be a Posthuman When I Grow Up." Forthcoming in Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity, eds. Bert Gordijn and Ruth Chadwick (Springer), 2007.
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