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

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Mon Jan 31 2005 - 22:04:09 MST

 --- 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.

*Sigh* I could argue about this until I was blue in
the face. Unfortunately there isn't the time - I
really must be taking my leave from SL4 soon because
I've been spending way too much time on-line.

Just briefly: I strongly disagree with you. Now if
you just think carefully about what you say below
(which I *do* actually agree with!) you will see that
you are contradicting yourself. What you say below
actually *implies* a Universal Morality.

You say that values are 'necessarily subjective'.
>From whose frame of reference? Once a goal has been
chosen, all the sub-goals which follow can be
objectively determined (in theory). But why should we
draw a distinction between 'meta-goal' and
'sub-goals'? Even meta-goals do not appear out of
thin air. They come from physical objects (our
brains). What looks likes a meta-goal from one frame
of reference, can actually appear to be *just another
sub-goal* from another frame of reference. So if you
agree that the sub-goals can be objectively determined
once the meta-goal is given, then agree that there is
no real basis for distinguishing meta-goals from
sub-goals, you'll see that there can indeed be an
Objective morality.

What perhaps you hung up on is the fear that a
Universal Morality implies uniformity. Not so! It's
not an either/or. There can exist 'Local' values
right along side 'Universal Values'. I agree that
there are Local Moralities (values true only for some
particular group like 'humans' or 'Europeans' or
'residents of the city of London'). But these local
values do not contradict the Universal values. There
would exist a core of values that everyone should hold
in common (The Universal values), and then a great
diversity of other values on top (the Local values).
That's why I many times on SL4 have repeated the
formula: Universal Morality x Local (or Personal)

> Overview:
> Just as with the thermodynamic "arrow of time",
> there is an analogous
> "arrow of morality" by which that which works (and
> is therefore seen as
> good) within local contexts will tend in the
> direction of that which
> works within a larger context as the local contexts
> combine to form
> larger contexts of interaction. This is a true
> relationship between
> physics and morality.

I agree, but if you think about what you saying here
you'll see that it implies a Universal Morality. If
we imagine intelligence and life eventually spreading
out across the universe until all the life forms meet
up and the whole universe is full of intelligence (aka
the Omega Point limit) then the context will have
become Universal. Since as you agree there has to be
some values which will work for the enlarged context
(otherwise sentients will never be able to get along)
it follows that when the context has enlarged to
include the whole universe there has to be a Universal

> That which works (survives and grows) is considered
> good at any given
> sub-context. Differences in perception over what
> works (what is good)
> are due to differences in local contexts, but in the
> increasingly bigger
> picture these converge.

Right. And if they converge then they are becoming
increasingly objective. It follows that even at the
local level they cannot have been *totally*
non-Universal. Even at the local value there will
still be *some* values that will be survive all the
way to the Universal context. So even at the local
level, values will be mixture of Local Morality and
Universal Morality. Again, my formula

Universal Values x Local Values
It's not an either/or. Both Local and Universal
values are always present.


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