Re: Arrow of morality

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Sat Jan 03 2004 - 13:09:11 MST

Perry E. Metzger wrote:
> "Jef Allbright" <> writes:
>> I'm not talking about concensus morality here. In fact it is
>> certain that the moral advice of a higher intelligence would not be
>> widely accepted if communicated directly, but humans will be
>> persuaded by the indirect, but tangible fruits of following its
>> direction.
> What if there are no answers that yield obviously superior results for
> society? There is no answer, for example, to the meat question -- and
> yet there is great rage among some about killing and eating
> animals. Many thorny moral questions have no objective answer, which
> is why they are thorny in the first place.

As you clearly state, there are no simple answers to what we call "moral"
questions. These issues are context-dependent and the terminology we
customarily use confuses by presuming absolutes that can't be attained.
Discussion and understanding would be improved if we all talked in terms of
goals and utility.

My point in presenting the "arrow of morality" concept is to find out
whether we can agree that with increasing wisdom (intelligence and
knowledge) comes increasing morality. If we agree on this, then we can work
together intentionally to improve our part of the universe.

The statement "morality is subjective" often carries the implication that it
is therefore meaningless to compare or evaluate the relative morality of
various actions. This strikes me as very similar to the post-modernist view
that reality is ultimately subjective and all points of view are therefore
of equal value. This is a dangerous meme because it leads to poor decision
making and leads one to bump into the sharp edges of reality rather harshly
(whether one realizes it or not.)

I'm not implying that you espouse the po-mo point of view -- far from it. I
would suggest, however, that it may be more useful to say "morality is
context-dependent" than to say "morality is subjective".

- Jef

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