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

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2005 - 20:41:50 MST

--- Sebastian Hagen <>
> Timothy Ferris once said that,
> > without embracing teleology, it can be said
> that
> > our universe looks pretty much they way it
> would
> > had it been carefully designed for maximum
> > creativity, self-expression, and play (I
> can't
> > find the exact quote).
> On what data is that conclusion based?
I dunno. You'd have to ask Ferris.
> I can't help but think that the paraphrased
> Timothy Ferris just wanted
> to elevate their (perceived) subjective
> highest-level goals to a state
> of objective ethics/morals.
> Sebastian Hagen
You're probably right; any universe that could
not support a fair amount of
creativity/self-expression/play presumably could
not support intelligent life at all; I don't
think the cosmos itself has an objective
morality. But it has room for choices, and it's
not really that difficult to see that some of
them are conducive to a complex, vibrant society
and others are not. One can sort many choices
neatly into the first category (good for complex,
vibrant society) or the second (bad for complex,
vibrant society), and the first category includes
a lot of what I would call ethical behavior,
while the second includes much I would call
unethical. Category one includes truth-telling,
nonviolent resolution of disputes, equal rights
under the law, tolerance of dissent, and so
forth. Their opposites (lying, violence,
discrimination, repression) can also be found,
but just look at the societies where these are
most rampant. They're a mess! The most corrupt,
violent societies also tend to be less creative
places with bad economies and poor living
conditions. One can say, "Well, but those
societies still manage to get by," but in the
longer run that may not be true at all. Consider
Easter Island after the trees ran out, descending
into dictatorships and internecine warfare. One
needn't assert that 'moral values are objective
and universal' to stipulate that many of them are
widespread because those groups which neglect
them have a way of killing themselves off.

Tom Buckner

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