Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Character Matters

So, we want to use science to enhance character?!?!? Secondhand Smoke blog reports on two efforts in the wake of recent riots in the UK and rants:
Everything, but give religious training, no doubt. How’s this for an approach? Teach the Golden Rule, which promotes ethical and moral societies regardless of whether one has faith. Teach “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” also known as karma, aka, “what goes around, comes around.” Teach that there are certain things that can be divided into right and wrong. Set standards and expect them to be followed. Teach empathy and love of neighbor. Extol charity and pattern humility. Back it up with proper discipline instead of political correctness. Make sure there are real consequences for misbehavior. Stop sexualizing the young. (You know, the reasons why many secular parents send their kids to Catholic schools.) Don’t play musical families and fathers stay involved with children. In short, engage in the kind of socialization and maintenance of the social fabrics that were considered the norm until the so-called “experts” botched things up.
Here is what really bothers me. Let us assume for a moment that through a combination of drug and genetic therapy we could induce character change in an individual. Any such technology would, of necessity run both ways. So not only could we make "better" character, we could make "worse" character. But who is to say what is better and what is worse. In time of war would not a certain ruthlessness and disregard for human life be considered an asset? But after the war would not people so engineered become disposable? - They certainly would not be acceptable in decent society.

I could come up with dozens of misuse examples, but scifi writers have done that for me. The real point is that without God in the mix, we don't really know what is better or worse character - only utilitarian, and even then it will end up confused. Particularly when character has no value because it can be obtained in a pill.

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