Re: ESSAY: Forward Moral Nihilism

Date: Sat May 13 2006 - 05:27:14 MDT

Quoting David Picon Alvarez <>:

> 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
> is
> > that whilst a (largely commendable) near worship of rationality exists on
> the
> > SL4 list, this has a huge blindspot. Everyone cleaves nearly
> unquestioningly
> > 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
> there.

Huh, has someone already presented my argument?

> > 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.

I have. In the posthuman world cooperation will be far less (and perhaps not
at all) nescissary for survival. Either because of the enormous power
differentials which will exist between posthuman entities or because (an IMO
favourable) sysop would make it unnessicssary - a choice instead of a
> > 2. Social conformity - again a gene driven animal instinct.
> Partly gene-driven, probably. Social comformity might also derive from
> culture or reasoned stances.

Perhaps, the former would be my third point, the latter i believe to be rare
and where it does exist something addopted on a case by case basis with the
motivation of self interest, as opposed to an assumption underlying life.
> > 3. Societal brainwashing.
> I'm not sure I see a disjunction between categories 2 and 3.

2 is what people do naturally - coppying peer of their own volition. 3 is what
schools/parents drum repeatedly into children.

> > 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
> believes
> > he is acting wrongly/rightly - depending on your exact definition of
> terms.
> You're assuming qualia matter. That's an interesting yet controversial
> point.
> 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).

Just making the point that morality is nothing more than a social construct -
IMO better trancended in the posthuman era.

> > It could be argued that in some cases, acting morally benefits he/she who
> does
> > 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?

Because it would benefit him/her.

> Self-interest is as artificial (far more) than evolved morality.

Eh? Morality is not evolved, it is a social construct. Beoing natural is not
my ultimate objective, the best way i can see is self-interest, with suspended
disbelief and indulging compassion/social conformity when one rationally
belives that this serves self interest.

> > Obviously, the first 2 points are a part of us - so suspending ones
> disbelief
> > concerning morality in everyday life may well lead to a happier more
> > fulfilling human life. However, once radical transhuman technologies
> arrive,
> > 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.

'Keeping some form of ethos' ensures a sub-optimal posthumanity.

> > As such, when considering/planning posthumanity we should reject
> traditional
> > 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?

Bah, semantics. I consider it preferable that people share/hear my views and
used part of moral language to expalin them. I say that this course of action
would be preferable in terms of achieving the optimum posthuman qualia.

> 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
> post-humanity.)

Its not nescissary - just makes it better. There are several different
definitions of nihlist. The one I go by is 'someone who accepts no doctrine,
however widespread, not supported by proof' - in this case absolute morality.
I want gains because I (will) like them.

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