RE: META:Something about moral sense.

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sat Sep 06 2003 - 11:03:20 MDT

Alexander writes

> Want to bring to your attention the point of view
> that may be more practical and productive.

I conjecture that in daily life all our theorizing results in very little effective
behavioral differences anyway. But! Indeed what you have to say could
impact people's thinking about the emergence and design of AI, I gather.

> It is a sight on [view of] moral categories as on a game.

This really, really brings memes and results arising from game theory
into play. Have you read any of the literature about the theory of games and
its relation to morals? E.g., Harsanyi (who I have not read) and Binmore
"Playing Fair" which I have---there is evidently a huge literature on the subject.

> That [it] is accepted that sensations [of]
> the fan on a football match [are]
> essentially similar to sensations of the juryman.

It is understood that the responsible juryman attempts to add more into
his verdict than merely sentiments in favor of the person he
sympathizes with. Whether or not on logical grounds the law has
been broken is supposed to be a large part of his thinking.

> Not under the form but under the contents.
> It seems that moral values have
> independent value which does not give in
> to the rational analysis.

I would say yes.

> The same can be told about game.

I would say no.

> But also we have cautions. The moral category is not reduced
> to the game.

Correct, IMO

> This caution is based on the lowest level on an instinct to survive.

And (theory of games) to propagate.

> We may consider 10 precepts as rules of the game. But we have no
> opportunities to change them.

There are other precepts besides the ten commandments that I submit
do change some people's behavior.

Isn't it commonly accepted that our memes can change our behavior?
That parents, for example, can drill into you things like "honesty is the best
policy", or "just say no to drugs", and it *can* affect behavior? Is it not
also true that for some religious people, their acceptance of Jesus Christ
into their hearts really does improve their ability to reciprocate with others
and even to be apparently very altruistic to others? I am asking because
all this is remains most unsettled with me!

> P.S. Please do not think that above given
> meditation for final belief of the author.
> Question of morals - a thing very thin.
> Critically investigating it
> is very hard to not get
> in a trap of denying of morals.

I enthusiastically agree! Morals can *not* be reduced to game theory so
far as I know (and have believed since 1995 after having read "The Origins
of Virtue" by Matt Ridley). And yet, whether we ought to call a certain
subject of "altruistic" behavior that arises in some people at some times
"genuine altruism" is something I am actively pursuing.

I do appreciate that perhaps you mean more along the lines of "morality" as
pursuit of an reasoning set of axioms or principles on which to logically
base moral behavior. The latter does not interest me at this time.

Thanks for your post,
Lee Corbin

P.S. My apologies to SL4. Sorry that for some damned reason,
the #$!?!$# font cannot be changed to plain-text for this message
in my email client when I reply to this particular message.

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