Re: Ethics (was FAI (aka 'Reality Hacking'))

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Sun Jan 30 2005 - 19:28:47 MST

Patrick Crenshaw wrote:

>On Sun, 30 Jan 2005 08:04:25 -0800, Jef Allbright <> wrote:
>>What morality is not:
>>"Objective" morality is unrealistic since moral choices depend on
>>values, which are necessarily subjective. "Universal" morality is
>>unrealistic, because at the universal level of context, there are no
>>subjective values - the universe does not care. Let's also make the
>>point that there is no inherent moral good in what is natural - the
>>Naturalistic Fallacy.
>Actually, I don't agree that values are necessarily subjective. One
>can imagine a value function which can be integrated over a volume to
>give the inherent value of everything in that volume. Then add to that
>value the change in value that everything in that volume causes in the
>rest of the universe at t=infinity. Something like:
>total_value(v, t1) = intrinsic_value(v,t1) + derived_value(v,t1)
>derived_value(v,t1) = intrinsic_value_if_v_at_t1_exists(all space,
>t=infinity) - intrinsic_value_if_v_at_t1_did_not_exist(all space,
>intrinsic_value(v,t1) is a physical value that can be evaluated, but
>the terms in derived_value(v,t1) must be determined using inference.
>These quantities are more knowable than it might seem because the
>effect that a change has on the universe as a whole decays with time.
>Or something.
Patrick, I'm afraid you and I were referring to quite different
concepts. I was referring to subjective value as meaning the perceived
importance of possible outcomes with respect to moral choices. It's a
question of how to calibrate the importance of an outcome in terms
personally relevant to a particular individual or group. For example,
the moral issue of a mother's right to abort a fetus during the first
trimester. In this case, the subjective importance of the outcomes is
determined to a huge extent by a an individual's religious beliefs and
social environment which form their values.

It appears that you were thinking of "subjective" as meaning "less than
objective", and "values" in the sense of an assigned or calculated
numerical quantity. To continue with the example above, we can
certainly measure, estimate or infer the number of aborted fetuses and
the physical, social, economic consequences of various policies, but the
measured quantities will not be a measurement of the moral outrage felt
by some who equate it with murder, nor the much lesser concern of those
who see it as not a loss of sentient life, but as a sad event to be
avoided rather than corrected after the fact.

Did I understand your words correctly?

- Jef

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