Re: The Fundamental Theorem of Morality

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Mar 01 2004 - 13:25:26 MST

On Mar 1, 2004, at 8:58 AM, Metaqualia wrote:

> It seems that morality means different things to different people.
> So, for a moment, I invite you to stop thinking about morality with
> all its
> cultural and semantic burden and just think about reality without
> words.

That morality seems to mean different things to different people may
largely be an artifact of different people having relatively imprecise
and weak methods of justifying moral standards. This in part reflects
the multi-faceted origin of morality in evolved creatures such as
ourselves, in part reflects various limitations of our philosophical
acumen, and in part comes from it being a generally slippery subject.
But it does not in my view justify more or less writing off morality as
such as devoid of real meaning.

Why on earth would I consider any situation without it context? How
exactly am I to think without the use of words and the concepts that
they label? What does such "thinking" look like?

> Pick your favourite victim.
> Take North Korean prisoners. Their guilt by association system has
> thrown in
> labor camps entire families, people come out at age 20 and reveal
> having
> spent their entire childhood in a labor camp treated like trash, seeing
> their relatives beaten to death.
> Now, tell me what is the REAL reason why this shouldn't happen.
> Is it because it is a system that won't be accepted?
> Is it because it limits growth of patterns in the universe?
> If not why is it?

It should not happen because it is a maltreatment of human being such
as ourselves and a waste of human lives and potential. Maltreatment
means that it is treatment contrary to the needs of human beings for
optimal live and well-being.

I am nonplussed that it have some significance to the entire universe
in order for it to be judged immoral.

To answer any question about morality you need to say what morality is.
  In main part it is a set of standards for how sentient beings treat
one another. It leads to consideration of what are generally optimal
ways of treating one another. This leads to questions about the nature
of the entities whose interaction we are attempting to generally
optimize and what their "good" consists of. It is within the context
of our answers, even approximate ones, to these questions that morality
can be meaningfully discussed and moral judgments meaningfully made.

- samantha

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