Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Society for the Protection of Possible Future People

Adam Ozimek at Modeled Behavior applies the successive-selves metaphysics suggested by neuroscience (examined in detail in, among others, Jennifer Radden's 1996 book Divided Minds and Successive Selves: Ethical Issues in Disorders of Identity and Personality) to the issue of suicide. He argues:
If one seriously considers the future self as a separate self, it seems to me a serious challenge the Szaszian idea that mental illness is just extreme preferences and that suicide should be respected and allowed as a legitimate exercise of choice; if our future selves are separate selves, then suicide is murder. [Emphasis mine.]

TGGP disagrees on the ground that our present selves and future selves have such united interests that they should be thought of as a single entity. Practically speaking, "If suicide is murder, then spending in the present is theft from a future self, sex is rape and a boxing match is battery," says TGGP.

This is certainly the reason that "successive selves" thinking will never catch on, true as it may be. Then we couldn’t lock people up for rapes and murders for long periods of time. (How do you punish a past self?) The entire justification for contract enforcement is destroyed.

But I think there's a deeper reason that the suicide/murder analogy fails. I respond:

My future self is not anything other than a possibility. It’s a possible self. Even accepting the successive-selves view, suicide is no more murder than is abortion or contraception.

There’s a distinction between protecting the "right" of merely possible people to come into existence on the one hand, and protecting the interests of future people provided they come into existence on the other (as we do when we consider, e.g., environmental protection, budget deficits, etc.).

7 comments:

  1. Hey Sister Y.. just want to say thanks for all your articles. I especially like your articles on Limits to Human Happiness. You seem to have a good mind for philosophical analysis. It is also interesting to note you are female, and (maybe I'm wrong) but there seems to be fewer women in the antinatalist/antiprocreation cause. You probably have seen some of my postings already. I wrote some on Jim's blog on antinatalim.blogspot.com. Also have my own unedited, ungrammatical rant on anti-procreationmovement.blogspot.com. Question: How can we promote our position to others besides internet blogs? Also, I have some objections which you've probably encountered before.. But need help in rebuttals. Thank you!

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  2. People should have a right to come out of the existence painlessly. Like a pill or something.

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  3. I also have my own blog to help the antinatalist cause, only is in portuguese since it is my language, and I figured we do not need other blogs in english since you guys are already doing a god-damn great job.

    I also should be translanting good texts in english to put on my blog, so I probably use one of yours, with the attached credits of course.

    Let´s spread the truth.
    Cheers

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