Arrow of morality - Draft outline available online

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2005 - 09:23:38 MST

Recent list discussion has inspired me to formalize a train of thought
that has taken shape over several years.

For anyone interested, the book in development can be found online at
the following URL, where it is possible to attach comments and criticisms:


 From the draft introduction:

This book presents a view of our place in the universe and where we may
be going with it.

A thread we will see running through all of this is that from our
position in the overall scheme of things, some of our experience makes
sense only from a subjective point of view, and some requires adoption
of an objective point of view. In either case, we are not fully
subjective or objective, and this comes down to the fact that "we" don't
actually exist as popularly conceived.

We will explore the idea that there appears to be one encompassing
reality, within which all the pieces fit, but from our necessarily
subjective and limited point of view, apparent contradiction and paradox
are inevitable.

We'll take a look at what appears to be a universal "ratchet effect",
that the universe tends to produce systems with increasing complexity,
based on natural selection of what works.

We'll look at morality, essentially how we determine right and wrong,
and suggest that as physical systems within the physical universe, we
are inextricably part of the universal process that favors systems that
work. Within any subjective context, "good" is what works and leads to

We'll broaden our understanding of subjective/objective points of view
to see that these can be seen more generally as nested scopes of
context, and that as the context increases it becomes a more accurate
model of reality, and thus a better approximation of what works and is
thus considered good.

Extrapolating from the foregoing, we speculate on the prospect of a
rational framework for moral decision making in the absence of complete
information, based on general principles of "what works" at all scales
of organization, including scales beyond our own capability to comprehend.

- Jef

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:50 MDT