Identity and Trans-Temporal Self[?]-Coercion
by Alexander Chislenko

Do You Have a Right to Sell Yourself into Slavery?

I saw a number of debates on this issue and most likely missed many more. Hope the following points contribute something new.

In my understanding, all sides of this debate argue over what a person can be allowed to do to his or herself.

I agree that I do not have to consider WHATEVER-MY-BODY-WITH-ALL- ITS-CONTENTS-MAY-EVER-TRANSFORM-INTO *as myself*. However, I may identify with the successive consciousnesses inhabiting the successive states of my current body to *a certain degree*.

If this degree is *high*, the traditional view of Trans-Temporal Self stays relevant. I may call tomorrow's me 'myself' and will claim a right to swap resources between Me-now and Me-then freely (e.g., lend/borrow money, sign contracts or figure out whether to wash dishes or see a movie today or tomorrow). In this case, however, I-now would protect Me-then and won't, e.g., sell him for torturous experiments for a scoop of ice-cream.

However, I-now may identify with Me-then to a very *small* extent, or not at all, depending on the time span between Now and Then, expected personal transformations, my habitual planning span, my culture, current mood, etc. This is the case when I-now can choose to abuse Him-then. (Him isn't Me anymore!). I will not pay *my* money to provide His [cryonic sus]pension, but I will gladly look for pleasure that He will have to pay for. He isn't me, and I'll gladly abuse him as I would any other stranger I manage to get power over.

It seems that in this case I have as much right to sell my future self into slavery as I have to enslave anybody else. This seems to be a clear case of trans-temporal coercion.

Readiness to betray one's future interests for the sake of current pleasures presents a good litmus test for such identity split.

It seems clear then, that any true libertarian should be against such behavior and should attempt to protect Future Folks from forced obligations and other situations they may feel horrified to find themselves in.

It isn't easy however to protect yet-nonexisting people from the current folks. So far, this protection has been being provided by the evolutionary and social pressure. This protection may be gradually weakening though, as the pressures relax and rapid personal change and shortening prognostic horizons weaken the feeling of contiguous life-time identity.

In an absolutely free society of immortal rapidly transforming beings 'self'-abuse may be quite popular.

So there may be a growing need for the Identity Enforcement Police.

Sasha, who has no pension plan and doesn't care.


Alexander Chislenko as of 09/29/94
(Later updated by a few other people with the same name).
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