Re: ESSAY: 'Debunking 'Hippy dippy moral philosophy'

From: Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Jun 16 2004 - 12:38:21 MDT

Randall Randall wrote:
> Is it your contention, then, that if an objective morality
> exists, it will necessarily have nothing to do with any
> current human morality? That, supposing the existence of
> morality which has physical consequences like, say, gravity,
> humans will turn out to have no ability to measure the
> morality of an action?

For myself, it is my contention that humans would be the ones who decide
that XYZ is an "objective morality", and this would be decided on the basis
of those forces that determine our decisions *right now* - patterns already
in our brain, that got there via social and genetic processes. The causal
explanation of why humans regarded XYZ as an "objective morality" would end
up being phrased in terms other than XYZ. We already know how humans got
to be the way they are; an objective morality wasn't part of it. An
objectively existing optimization process, evolution, did the job.
Evolution constructed psychologies whose reaction to evolution, when we
found out about it, was a strict spandrel of existing adaptations. We
looked at the objective morality that produced us, and said, "Yuck, how
immoral." Why wouldn't that happen to any other objective morality we ran
across, if it took no notice of love and life and laughter? This, I think,
is the same sentiment expressed by John K Clark's objection - though I may
have misunderstood him.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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