From: Jef Allbright (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Jun 08 2006 - 20:04:24 MDT
On 6/8/06, Mark Waser <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> The first thing that is necessary is to define your goals. It is my
> contention that there is no good and no bad (or evil) except in the context
> of a goal
It seems to me it would be better to say that there is no absolute or
objective good-bad because evaluation of goodness is necessarily
relative to the subjective values of some agency.
Goals are not prerequisite to an assessment of goodness, but values
are. Values are the reference, the standard of comparision by which
an assessment may be made. Values may be somewhat transparent as are
those which are instinctive or those which are culturally
indoctrinated, or values may be relatively visible within the
awareness of the agent. Let me know if you require specific examples
to elucidate or support this claim.
> and that those who believe that there is some absolute morality
> out there have been fooled by the unconscious assumption of the most common
> human goals.
I can think of other reasons why people could be mistaken on this
point, but this may be nit-picking.
> Thus, the first three axioms:
> Axiom 1. Volition actualization/wish fulfillment is good
> Axiom 2. Each separate/individual volition/wish is of equal value
> Axiom 3. There is no other inherent good
At this point I would like to propose a somewhat different metaethical
foundation that I think may be useful, providing at least some
contrast, if not clarity, in the ensuing discussion.
1. Goodness is always assessed relative to the values of a subjective agency.
2. Any agency will assess as increasingly good those actions which
increasingly promote its values into the future.
3. "Good" actions will be assessed as increasingly moral as they are
seen to work over increasing scope of agency, types of interaction and
The practical implications of this reasoning are that increasing
awareness of (1) what works (increasingly objective
scientific/instrumental knowledge), applied to increasing awareness of
(2) our increasingly shared subjective values, leads to increasingly
effective social decision-making that is seen as increasingly good
Therefore, we can and should rationally agree to promote the common
good via a framework supporting increasing awareness of (1) and (2)
Mark, I'm looking forward to your thoughts (so far) as we proceed
toward increased understanding of the "goodness" that underlies all
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