Re: "Objective" Morality

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Tue Aug 09 2005 - 23:02:30 MDT

--- Marcello Mathias Herreshoff
<> wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 09, 2005 at 06:55:40PM +1200, Marc
> Geddes wrote:
> >
> > --- Tennessee Leeuwenburg <>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > 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
> > want).
> Yes, I realize now that I did gloss over a few of
> the differences between
> Objective and Universal Morality, but my argument
> makes both of these
> concepts meaningless anyway.
> As Tennessee Leeuwenburg seems to define them,
> objective morality is the
> claim by some person that their personal morality is
> an objective fact,
> whereas universal morality claims that there some
> morality out there which
> applies universally.
> If you meant something else by either of these
> terms, feel free to clarify.
> How does one find out whether a morality is
> "applying universally." I
> already showed that no experiment will do the trick.
> Thus that is
> meaningless too, as there is no way to find out
> which morality is universal.

Rubbish. Plenty of physics concepts are supposed to
'apply universally'. That doesn't stop us assigning
rational probabilities to supposed 'universals' on the
basis of finite evidence. Rationality is a process of
assessing competing *explanations* to see which works
best. To treat Universal Morality scientifically we
would simply form multiple hypotheses about sentient
behaviour and use 'inference to the best explanation'
to cut down the space of probability by selecting the
hypothesis with the best explanatory power, just as we
do for every other branch of science.

> Physics isn't Psychology.

Are you sure? Objective Idealism treats physics as a
form of cognition you know. How can something be said
to exist at all if it wasn't being *interpreted* by
some sort of cognitive proccess? Everything you know
about the world requires a mental model to be
comprehended you realize?

> The Laws of the Universe are simple and pretty as
> far as we can tell.
> The human brain is a hodge podge of layered complex
> function adaptations, most
> of which are set up to deal with medium sized things
> for medium length times
> on the plains of Africa. Given that the brain was
> made by a blind watch
> maker who cares far less about consistency than even
> Microsoft, what makes
> you expect there to be underlying principles?

Did I mention the *human* mind specifically ? No. I
was talking about *sentient minds in general*.

Abstract out all the arbitrary hodge podge features of
the human brain and look *only* at the *neccessery*
features - the general properties of the brain
required for rationality and self-awareness. Since
brains run on physical laws, there should be general
principles that apply to all sentients.

> > 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.
> Again, human values and human intelligence are not
> fundamental principles.
> They are the products of complex functional
> adaptations.

Again, did I mention *human* values and *human*
intelligence specifically. No. I was talking about
Values and Intelligence *in general*.

Consciousness, Values and Intelligence *are*
fundamental properties of the cosmos that need to be
explained. Humans are not the only beings that can be
conscious, have intelligence and have values.

And as I pointed out above, if you abstract out all
the hodge-podge features, you'd be left with the
general features common to all sentients. You can't
just throw brains together willy-nilly. There are
common physical principles required for brains to work
at all.

> If you are not defining Universal as all of
> humanity, which would make it
> Collective, what or who do you even mean by it? If
> you are postulating a
> deity, it might really be time for somebody to call
> the list sniper.

I never mentioned a deity. Read what I say. I
clearly defined 'Universal' as something held in
common *by all logically possible sentients*. This is
clearly different from a Collective. See the

Collective: Something defined by reference to all
*currently* existing sentients in some context

Universal: Something deifned by reference to all
*logically possible* sentients.

> > 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
> > cognition.
> So I get Enlightened when I become truly aware of
> the hodge podge that is
> the human brain? I seriously doubt it. If we
> really about knew all the
> kludges and piled up lies that the brain uses to
> accomplish its evolutionary
> business would we really be all that happy? On the
> contrary, I suspect it
> would offend our moral sensibilities, and make us
> want to move out of our
> wetware and become truly decent people.
> -=+Marcello Mathias Herreshoff

Again, read what I say! I said you get enlightened
by learning about your *true* nature, not every part
of your nature. I defined your *true* nature to be
only that small part of yourself which is *universal*
- i.e common to all logically possible sentients.

Again, ignore all the kludges and hodge-potch features
of your mind. These are not part of your true nature
as I have defined it here.

Which parts of your mind enable you to be self-aware,
to reason and to be altruistic? *These* are your true
nature. All the other evolutionary kludges are just fluff.

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THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,  
  For, put them side by side,  
The one the other will include  
  With ease, and you beside. 
-Emily Dickinson
'The brain is wider than the sky'
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