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Transdimensional Justice Monster

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From Wikipedia, 2108 C.E.:

For the band, see Transdimensional Justice Monster (band).

The phrase “transdimensional justice monster” refers to an as-yet-hypothetical device for ensuring that a newly-created universe is ethical. Interest in the development of a functional TJM has increased in recent megaseconds, largely due to rumors that the moratorium on the creation of gladiator universes may be extended to market universes.

Gladiator universes, such as the universe underlying our own base reality,* are universes in which sentient beings with non-identical goals exist and compete, whose ultimate mechanism for distribution of utility between beings is the use of force. Research into the ancient problem of welfare comparison between sentient beings has produced several conceptions of non-gladiator interpersonal justice; the TJM is merely a continuation of this endeavor.

Market universes attempt to resolve the problem of distributing scarce resources among sentient beings by requiring mutual consent for transfers. Markets may be seen as an early human attempt to simulate the TJM; this hypothesis is supported by the reification of the market in the figurative term “the invisible hand.”

Recently, so-called Rawls universes have been proposed as a more ethical alternative to market universes. To create a Rawls universe, a universe creator would be required to enter his own universe and live out his life inside it, but would be assigned randomly to a body within this newly-created universe. Critics argue that this does not ensure justice, as requiring a universe creator to be born into a single life in his universe fails to ensure that he adequately internalize the aggregate risk faced by his entire created population over all its generations. In addition, the particular values of the universe creator are unlikely to adequately predict the values of new beings in new universes.

The TJM avoids the problems of market universes and Rawls universes alike. A transdimensional justice monster envelops and, in a sense, becomes all the experiencing beings in a given universe at once. While the TJM feels the happiness and pain of all its sub-beings, it also retains the capacity to experience their loneliness and alienation as they each experience it. Since the TJM experiences everything that its sub-beings do, when the TJM makes a transfer of utility between its sub-beings, this transfer is by its nature just. The TJM even ensures intertemporal justice, because by being transdimensional, it can adjust utility between beings alive at different times throughout the life of the universe.

The TJM gives a population of experiencing beings an important characteristic of a single individual: the ability to fairly distribute hardship and pleasure among its members. A single individual might do this by transferring weight from one foot to another and adjusting itself until its position is comfortable. A TJM may do this in much the same manner – by transferring utility-bearing items or services from one sub-being to another, or even by allowing a miserable sub-being to die.

In practice, this last option (causing miserable sub-beings to die) has proven the greatest barrier to producing a functional TJM. No universe simulation equipped with a TJM has yet resulted in a universe with any sentient beings left alive. However, universe creation enthusiasts are hopeful that this problem can be resolved, and a sustainable, just universe can be created in which all experiencing beings achieve a standard of utility above death-desiring misery.


* As our base universe arose through stochastic processes, it is not affected by the moratorium.

Named for the 20th century American philosopher John Rawls, who proposed an influential model for distributive justice. Rawls utilized the concepts of the original position and the veil of ignorance to imagine a society genuinely based on the consent of its members. Putative features of this hypothetical purely-consensual society could then ethically be applied to actual universes to make them more just. The modern conception of the Rawls universe represents, at best, a caricature of Rawls’ method. In a true Rawls universe, all potential beings would need to consent to be part of the universe prior to its creation, blind to their particular future situation.

Written by Sister Y

February 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm