Michael Goldhaber on Wed, 1 Oct 1997 22:18:11 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> re: the user is the content - A response to Stahlman on morality

A response to Stahlman on morality
Michael H. Goldhaber
September 30,1997

Mark Stahlman wrote:
>  I tend to think
>that the dividing line will be turn out to be between the Realists and the
>Utopians.  And, the main issue dividing them will not be crypto-law or
>e-voting or universal access to the Net; it will be about the moral
>implications of human genetic cloning.
>The Utopians wish to replace humanity with a better engineered "product."
>They will sell their efforts to "improve" humanity by talking about longer
>life, less disease, less violence and better behavior.  The Realists know
>that this is lie.  That's why they oppose each other.

The notion that genetic engineering might produce non-human humans ignores
that humanness is a quality that arrives not genetically but through
acculturation. The Taliban were not cloned; nor were the Nazis and others
who worked in the death camps,not to mention economists who care only about
the market, philosophers who find it impossible to distinguish a "zombie"
from a real person, brutal cops, dead-handed school administrators,
thousands of business executives who see their workers only as
profit-producers, plunderers of the environment, teen-agers who murder for
material gain and then brag openly about  it,  and numerous others in every
country whose humanness is less than we might hope.

Not one of these people were cloned, not one.

Few of them have much to do with computers, either.

Thus "realism" suggests that cloning is not the issue; technology per se is
probably not the issue either. How we develop concern for one another and
raise our young (cloned or uncloned) is. The deep problem we face is that
we no longer know how to educate young people for the society we have (in
part) created (assuming we ever did know). There are no formulae for this.
It takes sensitivity and involvement that we are increasingly loathe to
devote to such unformed beings, and perhaps the trajectory we have chosen
for technology has something to do with this unwillingness. Simply put, our
attention is scarce, and it is attracted elsewhere, mostly through the
media, the Internet, etc.

"Morality," sadly enough, is itself a formula, a meaningless incantation
unless invested with content that  must continually be striven for anew.
How do we come to value sufficently the reflection we must engage in if we
are to retain our own humanity? Can colloquy on the Internet aid in that?


Michael H. Goldhaber
Ph/FAX 510 -482-9855

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