Transhumanist Virtue Ethics: Desirable Innate Preferences Determined by Reason

Natural rights don’t exist, except in the human mind. They are a way for a social species to maintain social cohesion. But, as useful as natural rights may be in deciding how to organize society, they are not fundamental; instead, they are derivative of what humans, in general, desire.

For this analysis, I will use the term preference to mean the end in which a person seeks to fulfill. This doesn’t say anything about how one will go about fulfilling these ends. The ends I’ll talk about are going to be very general. And although the preference is something sought after, there may be more desirable preferences than others. Desirability is determined by flourishing, which here I define broadly as those things that achieve a person’s physical, moral, mental, and emotional potential.

There are general human preferences. Simple ones include food, water, sleep, and sex; more complex ones include purpose; community, and happiness. Some of these preferences, when fulfilled, bring about less desirable outcomes while others bring about more desirable outcomes. For instance, while fulfilling a preference for food, one might end up eating unhealthy foods or eating too much food; while fulfilling a preference for sex, one may neglect their preference for community (eg by having one-night-stands). As such, the way in which one is best able to fulfill these preferences is determined by the flourishing it bestows on the individual. Fulfilling preferences that increase, or at least maintain, a level of personal flourishing is more desirable than fulfilling preferences that decrease personal flourishing.

The desirable outcomes of personal flourishing can only be determined with human reason. Without the use of reason, preferences that decrease personal flourishing will be fulfilled as often as those that increase personal flourishing. For instance, one may find purpose and community in a racist cult, but by using reason, one can determine that this decreases general human flourishing, which will ultimately decrease one’s own personal flourishing by sewing the seeds of societal dissolution.

Flourishing, as I stated above, is the achievement of a person’s physical, moral, mental, and emotional potential. This potential is determined by the physical, moral, mental, and emotional capacity of the person. Therefore, in order to increase personal flourishing, it ought to be a preference that physical, moral, mental, and emotional capacity be expanded. The best way to non-synthetically expand these mental modalities is through gaining knowledge and wisdom, by practicing virtue, and by continually achieving desirable preferences. These mental modalities can be much further expanded by synthetically merging with our technology. This means that there is a desirable preference for transhumans and superintelligent AI with greatly expanded capacities for personal flourishing compared to non-synthetic humans.