Re: Defining Right and Wrong

From: Michael Roy Ames (
Date: Sun Nov 24 2002 - 01:18:36 MST

Billy Brown,

You wrote:

> But really, most systems of ethics are attempts to
> solve a global optimization problem that could be
> loosely described as "for all significant entities,
> maximize the extent to which each entity acheives
> positive outcomes while minimizing negative
> outcomes".

I wish that this were true, but I suspect that it is not. For the
systems of ethics that have *lasted* your statement is true - the
other systems didn't optimize well enough, and died. Your loose
description is a good start... now we just have to fill in all those
pesky definitions for words like 'significant', 'positive/negative'
and 'outcomes' ;)

> Now, this omniscient super-thinker is obviously impractical, but we
can view
> real ethical systems as attempts to approximate its performance in
the real
> world.

Yes indeed. This is the ticket.

Michael Roy Ames

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