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

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Mon Jan 31 2005 - 14:28:45 MST

Phil Goetz wrote:

>--- Jef Allbright <> wrote:
>>> Further, my key point, which I sometimes refer to as the "arrow of
>>> morality", is that there is a natural, physical trend toward
>>> greater objectivity as local systems interact to form larger
>>> systems. [Should have said moral systems - Jef]
>I'm trying to figure out what you mean by constructing
>an example. Do you mean, for instance, that
>more-complex organisms have more objective beliefs?
>So that the abstractions in the brain of a human are
>more objective than the abstractions in the brain
>of a spider? I would say that is false and the
>opposite is true.
Yes, I would agree with your interpretation as it highlights the
weakness in the stripped-down statement that I made above. You might
want to refer back to the somewhat more complete response that I made on
this subject a day or two earlier, but even that would benefit from
expansion to about ten pages. I'll try here to convey the essentials,
but it won't be rigorous or complete due to lack of time. This is a
train of thought I've been kicking around for a three or fours years,
but the seeds were sown much earlier. I do appreciate serious feedback
and criticism and intend to write a more complete description, time
permitting, over the next few months.

More specifically in response to your question above, I was responding
to Patrick and saying that local moral systems become more objective as
they interact with other local moral systems and form larger (meaning
more comprehensive in scope) moral systems that do tend to become more
objective as a result.

With respect to your question and example of the spider and the human,
my previous statement didn't apply because it was about moral systems
becoming more objective, and spiders don't have moral systems. I
apologize for leaving it incomplete and misleading.

I would agree with what I take as your point that a spider has little or
no subjectivity, while a human can model intricate fantasies far from
objective reality.

>Do you mean that objectivity increases as time goes
>on, so that a civilization gradually refines more
>and more objectively true beliefs?
Yes, this is in alignment with my key point, disregarding local min/max
bumps in the landscape.

>How does this principle apply to non-sentient systems?
Principles of synergetic advantage apply at all levels of complexity,
regardless of whether the system exploits a model of its own volition.

>Does it apply to weather patterns?
Interesting question. While weather patterns are cylic and recur, they
don't exhibit the characteristic of persistence that I suspect is
required for synergetic growth.

>- Phil

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