Re: Defining Right and Wrong

From: Michael Roy Ames (
Date: Tue Nov 26 2002 - 11:18:31 MST

Dear Gordon,

You wrote:
> 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. [snip] 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.

In the context you have given, I would agree that human morality is not
arbitary. Groups of humans (and pre-humans) competed and the more
successful groups prospered, the less successful dimished. I would
characterise this as Human Evolved Morality (HEM). Although HEM is still
involved in many aspects of society and human interaction, IMO it nolonger
determines the success of the genepool, and hasn't for some time. Should we
then discard HEM as mere baggage? Perhaps not, because right now it is all
we have. We are in the process of taking over our own evolution, and that
includes the evolution of our morality. I am certainly dead set against
letting 'survival of the fittest' determine were we will go from here,
because offensive capability has far outstripped defensive. In this
situation it is the most ruthless, or the most rapacious that will win the
game - or perhaps lose it for us all. One of the purposes of creating FAI
is to restore the offensive/defensive balance by bringing in greater
intelligence as a player. Now the question may be asked (I asked it ;) do
we give FAI our current HEM and nothing else? Will this lead to the optimum
results? Will this give good results at all? Sure, HEM may be a good
start, but what comes after? And how do we know its better?

(Note: These questions are not rhetorical... I really am searching for

> 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.

I can't see very far either. How about we build a Morality Detector? ;>

Michael Roy Ames

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