Re: FAI (aka 'Reality Hacking') - A list of all my proposed guesses (aka 'hacks')

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Sun Jan 30 2005 - 05:43:17 MST

--- "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>

> Phil Goetz wrote:
> >
> > It seems to me that "morality" inherently has
> to be
> > something that goes AGAINST natural
> inclinations
> > rather than something that is in tune with
> them.
> > At least, "morality" as commonly used is
> associated
> > with concepts like "self-control",
> "discipline",
> > "self-denial", and so on. The term "morals"
> are
> > used only for those rules we follow that we
> are
> > tempted to break. People don't call you
> moral
> > for eating your breakfast, or sleeping, even
> though
> > those are essential steps in accomplishing
> anything.
> > It has to run partly against the grain to be
> "moral".
> If that is how you define morality, then I want
> no part of morality, except
> insofar as it may be my natural inclination to
> be moral.
> See also: Raymond Smullyan, "The Tao is
> Silent".
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

That is precisely what many people mean by
morality, and as I have said before, I *hate* the
word 'morality' because it has been abused to the
point of meaninglessness and employed as a club
to enforce conformity.
'Ethics', on the other hand, is a word which
still has reasonably clear edges and conveys the
same ideas. Some of the distinctions I can see
which make it preferable:

Professional moralists (is to) professional
ethicists as professional wrestling (is to)
wrestling with the Big Questions.
Ethics clearly implies relation to others;
actions are ethical or not because of the effect
on others.
Morality is widely used in a way that implies
isolation; moralists assign moral value to
actions that don't affect bystanders.

'Morality' means ten things to ten different
people. Recall the engineer who spoke of nested
trees of requrements where every single word was
explained to n levels if that's what it took to
nail it down solid. Who has done that with
'morality'? One could define 'ethics' with a far
shallower tree and still cover every angle that

I cannot sufficiently express my contempt for the
word 'morality'. To see it used, over and over,
in what is supposed to be a discussion of
superior rigor and clarity, makes me want to claw
my eyes out.

Tom Buckner

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