Maybe the most provocative speaker (although not so much, maybe, to BIG THINK readers) at our conference at Berry next Friday and Saturday will be RONALD BAILEY--the libertarian proponent of liberation biology. Here's a fascinating interview with Mr. Bailey. A taste:
On the possibility of physical immortality, there are a lot of people on both sides who oppose that. The people on the Left are afraid that the rich people will get these technologies first, and the poor people will be left to hang, and that’s wrong, and the people on the Right fear that extra-longevity would break down their sense of hierarchy, the normal order of the world.
Bailey's own view is that people on the Left and Right worry too much in a way that inhibits the progress of human liberty and human dignity. The technologies will be much more widely available than concerned Leftists think. And we might add that wasn't Marx himself all about the abolition of natural scarcity? The main scarcity nature sticks us with is scarcity of time.
People on the Right are worried that a life detached from natural order will be undigified. Hierarchy based on scarcity is what gives us personal significance and causes us to pursue excellence. But does nature really treat us in a dignified way? Nature is callously and cruelly indifferent to particular persons. Don't win have to win our dignity against nature--replacing impersonal natural necessity with free human choice? Who has more options than someone with physical immortality? No libertarian, we can say at least, could be satisfied with anything less than libertarian biology.
Bailey knows how to argue with the best of them, and I guarantee you'll walk away thinking that he couldn't be completely wrong (and he might actually be pretty right).
I'm not sure there is an adequate argument for choosing against physical immortality if it's really possible. But I've already explained why I deeply doubt that it is. Here's a reminder on conference details. See you at the world's largest campus!