RE: Is furthering your own goals always good? Judged by whom, and for what purpose?

From: Peter Voss (
Date: Wed Dec 14 2005 - 09:50:33 MST

I don't think it hard to show that, in general, better knowledge (knowledge
that more accurately describes reality) improves chances of achieving one's
goals. Such knowledge includes facts about 'the world', knowledge about how
to achieve goals, and even knowledge about what facts to ignore in making a

Peter Voss

-----Original Message-----
From: Behalf Of Jef Allbright

Thanks Peter. That's my point for step one of this line of thought,
which seems to be alien enough that it's amazingly difficult to
achieve general understanding.

Step two is something like the following:

(1) Can we agree that increasing knowledge (of the
objective/scientific/instrumental kind) tends to increase the
capability of any agent to achieve its (subjective) goals, therefore
increasing objective knowledge of how things work is necessarilly good
(from the point of view of any subjective agent?)

This is similar to the popular question "Is scientific progress
inherently good?", but the significant difference here is I am
carefully specifying the question (for the moment) in terms of
individual, subjective good, since, as we agreed earlier, "good" in
itself is meaningless.

- Jef

On 12/14/05, Peter Voss <> wrote:
> People use 'good' and 'bad' in fundamentally different ways - to mean:
> a) Good in itself (an invalid concept as far as I'm concerned - 'good' is
> basically an adjective, not noun)
> b) good to achieve a specified goal, seen as desirable by a specified
> entity.
> See 'Good and Bad' in
> This also covers 'what morality is about'.
> From: []On Behalf Of Jef
> ....
> The key question I was trying to put forth in this discussion is
> whether we could all agree that for any agent, that which promotes the
> agent's goals would necessarily be seen as good from the point of view
> of that agent. I think this is an important first step to
> understanding what "morality" is really about, and it's amazing to me
> how difficult it is to get anyone to address this and subsequent
> questions in this line of thought in (what seems to me) a simple and
> logical manner.

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