Re: ESSAY: Forward Moral Nihilism

From: David Picon Alvarez (
Date: Fri May 12 2006 - 19:58:53 MDT

From: <>
> Crockners Rules
Nice to know. Same apply to me.

> I've been lurking for a while, and the one thing that has really struck me
> that whilst a (largely commendable) near worship of rationality exists on
> SL4 list, this has a huge blindspot. Everyone cleaves nearly
> to wider societies superstitious moralism.

I think you are mistaken. There's quite a variety of opinions on the matter
of ethics and morality on the list, from those who believe there is an
objective morality, to those who, like you, believe that there's nothing

> 1. Compassion, gene driven animal emotion - evolved to further cooperation
> between people - thus increasing chances of survival.

Check. Note though that increasing chances of survival is not teleological
as much as consequential. Id est, compassion and the like appear, to the
right extent and in the right forms, to have survival value. Perhaps you
should consider that for a bit.

> 2. Social conformity - again a gene driven animal instinct.

Partly gene-driven, probably. Social comformity might also derive from
culture or reasoned stances.

> 3. Societal brainwashing.

I'm not sure I see a disjunction between categories 2 and 3.

> Morality is completely artificial. Right and Wrong either do not exist, or
> don't matter other than in the qualia that they cause the person who
> he is acting wrongly/rightly - depending on your exact definition of

You're assuming qualia matter. That's an interesting yet controversial
Also completely artificial is an improperly phrased criticism, even if I
think I know what you mean. Mathematics is, or might be anyway, completely
artificial. The sciences are completely artificial. Language is completely
artificial. I'd say these things matter. Artificial is not a signifier of
worth. More importantly, as you point out above, morality has pretty clear
genetic bases, which are not artificial (unless evolution is an artificer).

> It could be argued that in some cases, acting morally benefits he/she who
> so due to reciprocity - but this is only in some cases and this course of
> action could be entirely derived from self-interest by moral nihilists.

How so? A moral nihilist does not believe that any action is preferrable to
any other action in terms of moral content. Why would a moral nihilist argue
for cooperative constructive behaviour that benefits individuals?
Self-interest is as artificial (far more) than evolved morality.

> Obviously, the first 2 points are a part of us - so suspending ones
> concerning morality in everyday life may well lead to a happier more
> fulfilling human life. However, once radical transhuman technologies
> this will no-longer be nescissarilly true.

It depends on what ways people choose to self-modify. I would argue that
some form of ethos is going to have to be kept, unless we want to have
serious trouble in the mid term. It would probably be a lot cleaner in terms
of referential transparency and such than evolved morality, though.

> As such, when considering/planning posthumanity we should reject
> morality and embrace moral nihilism. This is as the potential gain of
> posthumanity (and acting entirely rationally when planning/considering
it - to
> ensure the best outcome) far outweighs the positive qualia felt by being
> compassionate when considering posthumanity.

This is the imo most misguided part of your post. You've just used a should.
Aren't you shooting yourself in the foot?
Also, I don't clearly see why moral nihilism is a necessary condition for
post-humanity. (And playing the nihilist's advocate, why we should care
about the gains (gains? stop the value judgements right there!) of


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