Re: Objective morality and goal systems Re: FAI (aka 'Reality Hacking') - A list of all my proposed guesses (aka 'hacks')

From: Randall Randall (
Date: Mon Jan 31 2005 - 16:05:15 MST

On Jan 30, 2005, at 11:47 PM, Thomas Buckner wrote:
> --- Randall Randall <>
> wrote:
>> If they're really "wrestling with
>> the Big Questions", then they appear to be
>> regrettably getting the Big Answers mostly
>> wrong!
> I know, I know, but I gave in to the siren call
> of a clever turn of phrase...

For shame! Or...something. :)

> I assert, however, that no oughts could exist if
> the actor were the only individual. A social
> vacuum is an ethical/moral vacuum. Indeed, no
> human could stay sane alone for really
> significant periods of time. Solitary creatures
> (many of which are carnivores) are rather alien
> to us, and the most intelligent animals are
> social; complete solitude is incompatible with
> what we call ethical or moral values. Nothing a
> spider can do is right or wrong, while an ant has
> a clear role it must play in a successful colony.

I don't believe that solitary creatures seem very
alien. Cats are almost as popular as dogs, and
are far less social, generally.

In any case: It is clear that "oughts" stem from
a goal; you can't have an "ought" without a goal
to strive toward. An individual can have a goal,
and therefore can have actions which he ought to
perform. It is not at all clear to me that a
collection of individuals can be said to have a
goal, except by verifying that all individuals
within the collection have that goal. Ants, as
Phil Goetz has remarked, are not really individuals,
mostly (there may be some species of ant which does
not follow the queen/worker model for all I know).

> If either side consistently cheats or resorts to
> violence, a downward spiral ensues, perhaps to
> civil war. The hive is rent asunder because the
> ants could not restrain themselves.

I disagree very much with your equation of ant
colonies and political systems, but SL4 is probably
not the right venue for that discussion. :)

> The cause and effect might be regarded as
> objective, but that is not really the same as
> 'objective morality.'
[snip scientist/objective observer]
> You see, the idea that there is an objective
> morality IMHO depends on an outside observer who
> judges. William Blake used to call him Old
> Nobodaddy.

Right now, my position is that while I can't argue
conclusively for an objective morality, there is
non-conclusive evidence that such a thing may exist
(game theory, for example). If it does, there will
be some ultimate goal which it concerns. Where I
part with Geddes in this is that I think it's a
mistake to prematurely guess at what that goal might
be, if it exists. But since reaching a goal depends
on one's existence, I believe that there would be
provisionally moral actions to be taken (at least
survival and growth) even for the sole individual in
existence or in a large area. This whole house of
cards depends strongly on the idea that some later,
presumably more intelligent being will find out what
the objective ultimate goal is.

Randall Randall <>
"And no practical definition of freedom would be complete
  without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it
  is the freedom upon which all the others are based."
  - Terry Pratchett, _Going Postal_

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