The Dangers of Overthinking

Russell Blackford walks us through some of the - to my mind at least - sillier debates in mainstream utilitarian thought on healthy life extension. The punchline: "When we look at what we actually value, there is no need to adopt any paradoxical theory such as the total view. Think of it like this. The future society with life extension technology, as depicted in Singer's scenario, will not contain people whom we should feel sorry for. Nor need it be a society that lacks complexity or creativity, even it is smaller in its space-time population than the alternative society without life extension technology. The people who live in this society will be glad to do so, and glad of the enhanced lives that life extension technology will enable them to have. In short, no important value should lead us to try to avert such a society - all we need to do is abandon total-view utilitarianism, which gives a crude and unhelpful picture of what actually underlies our moral thinking." People, life and individual choice, in other words, not airy and overconstructed principles, and not regulation of the many by the few. Too many have died for a slavish devotion to that in the past few hundred years.


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