Re: "Objective" Morality

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Tue Aug 09 2005 - 00:55:40 MDT

--- Tennessee Leeuwenburg <>

> That's incorrect : Objective != Universal.
> Universal means that the same morality applies
> universally (i.e. for
> everyone) whereas Objective means that for any one
> person their
> morality is an objective fact.

To clarify, 'Universal Morality' is what I really
always meant. I think there's a set of moral
principles applicable to all sentients in the
multiverse at all times. This background set of
principles goes beyond mere 'Volition' (what sentients

The reason I keep banging on and on about this on list
to the point where I've annoyed people almost to
getting banned is because I'm certain I'm right.

I haven't been able to produce a completely coherent
proof yet. That's the only little problem ;)

Seriously, though, I would be absolutely astonished if
I was wrong about this. But if turns out that I *am*
wrong about this, after the Singularity you are all
quite welcome to get print-outs of all my SL4
postings, and stuff them down my throat one at a time
for being such an idiot.

I think Eliezer is simply confused. He's pissing
around in the dark without a clue. Poor fellow.
Brilliant? Yes. Right? No.

Ask yourselves:

Does the idea of general intelligence without
sentience (consciousness) *really* make sense to you?

Does the idea of a super-smart intelligence interested
only in tiling the universe with paper-clips *really*
make sense to you?

To my mind, these ideaas are obviously quite absurd.
Always were. Always have been. Only someone with
Autism or Aspergers could seriously give them

I point to the proven fact that there's a *unity* to
the universe, in the sense that scientific theories
from different subject areas have in the past always
*fitted together* in a coherent way.

As an example I point to the 4 physics forces:
Electromagnetism, Gravity, Weak Nuclear, Strong
Nuclear. Modern phsyics frameworks (for instance 'the
standard model') are succedded in 'unifying' the 4
forces into a single explanatory framework.

There is no reason by all facets of the mind should
not also be *integrated* (unified) into a single
explanatory framework also.

Take 'Values' on the one hand, and 'Intelligence'
(ability to make predictions on the other).

If it really were the case that you could have a
super-smart intelligence with any old value system,
that would mean that it would be impossible to
combinedValues and Intelligence into a single
explanatory framework. This goes against everything
we know about the fundamental *explanatory* unity of
the cosmos.

As an analogy, I point to physics again:
Electromagnetic and Weak Nuclear forces. Everyone
thought they were seperate, but then physics showed
that they were related: under certain conditions they
combine into a single force: the Electro-weak force.

And there is every reason for thinking that 'Values'
and 'Intelligence' are related in some way not yet
understand, so that a super-smart intelligence must
correlate with Friendliness as I've claimed. Again,
if this wasn't true science would unable to integrate
values and Intelligence into a single expalanatory
framework, which would run contrary to everything we
know about the fundamental unity of the cosmos.

Thoughts cannot float around free of brains. And
brains obey physical laws. So it's reasonable to
suppose that there are 'laws of thoughts' that apply
to all sentients. Such-and-such a thought has to
correlate with such-and-such a brain state (otherwise
functionalism would be false).

There are basic conditions that need to met for
'cognition' to occur in the first place. Pure
Self-awareness and ability to take action are not
themselves a part of the 'Volitional' level. Volition
is what sentients want, but self-awareness itself
comes from the basic laws underpinning cognition.

For instance, take the ability to detect 'spatial
patterns'. This pattern-recognition is only possible
of a certain meta-condition : namely that there is
some degree of *symmetry* in physical objects. So the
meta-principle *Symmetry* is a neccessery condition of
cognition. But for a mind which is self-aware it
*also* becomes a *value* - symmetry is valued because
it enables cognition to occur in the first place and
allows self-wareness to begin with.

This shows that there are meta-values which are
'neccessery conditions of cognition', and are not
themselves a part of the level of 'Individual
Volition', but go beyond this and constitute a sort of
'Universal Volition'.

As I said earlier, I think the foundation of values is
*not* individual (or even collective) Volition, but
*Self-Actualization* - becoming more aware of our true
nature. And our 'true nature' is the objective,
universal principles underpinning self-awareness and


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