Re: Defining Right and Wrong

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Tue Nov 26 2002 - 07:45:51 MST

On Monday, November 25, 2002, at 08:53 PM, Michael Roy Ames wrote:

> The data is definitely very, very important. Also important is how
> that data is compiled, and used. It would seem an utter waste if the
> data were great, but FAI got stuck with the 'lowest common
> denominator' for everything. Do we want a FAI to have 'average'
> morals, or the best available? As soon as you start asking questions
> like this, and really try to figure it out how it would work...
> morality starts to look awfully arbitrary. And so: here I am, asking
> the question: is there a way to make them less arbitrary?

Morality is not arbitrary. We didn't evolve some certain set of limits
on behavior for the hell of it. Each one provided an advantage in
differential reproduction, spreading as our ancestors with a particular
moral out reproduced other humans. For example, humans who thought it
was wrong to betray one's own tribe (and we know this is a deeply
rooted moral; betraying the tribe has shown up regularly as the High
Sin) reproduced better than those who thought it was okay to betray
your own tribe for personal gain.* Each moral had to be an adaption to
a problem that humans faced that allowed those humans with the moral to
reproduce better than other tribes.

Universal Morality looks arbitrary to us. If it's there for some
reason, it doesn't seem to be inside the Universe, but maybe I'm just
being shortsighted.

*This is a fictitious example. Many animals display this behavior
which indicates that they have this moral, too. So it actually
developed long ago when some mammalian or reptilian ancestor started
living in kin groups.

Gordon Worley                          "Man will become better when                 you show him what he is like."                                --Anton Chekhov
PGP:  0xBBD3B003

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