Re: Measuring(quantifying) morality?

From: Patrick Crenshaw (
Date: Tue Aug 15 2006 - 14:26:32 MDT

On 8/15/06, Jef Allbright <> wrote:
> On 8/15/06, Patrick Crenshaw <> wrote:
> > I've done some thinking about this.
> >
> > The first conclusion I came to is that the morality of an action has
> > to do with the amount that it changes the integral of some Value
> > function over all space at t=infinity. If you give me any moral
> > system, I can give you a Value function like this that would describe
> > it.
> I can appreciate what you're intuiting here, but have you considered
> the importance of context? Real moral decisions are always made under
> conditions of relative uncertainty. As the context of awareness of
> the extended consequences increases, so will there be increasing
> agreement as to the morality (goodness) of an action, until with
> complete objectivity (unattainable) there would be no moral issue at
> all since the most effective choice of action would be obvious. Also
> have you considered that real moral decisions must increasingly
> discount the future due to increasing uncertainty and thus decreasing
> control over extended consequences?
> This also leads to why effective moral decision-making must be based
> on best-known principles of what works, rather than directly on
> desired outcomes.

I didn't feel like making the email a million times longer than it
was, so I didn't go into any of this, but I agree that uncertainty
must be taken into account. I just took the idea that inference would
have to be used as a given.

> > Next there is the idea that the Value of an object is in tow parts:
> > the intrinsic Value, and the derived Value. The intrinsic value is is
> > just the Value of the matter in the object existing and being in that
> > particular configuration.
> What is the value of a gram of gold to an investor, a jeweler, a
> lonely dying man?
> What was the value of the physical object called the Declaration of
> Independence to the American colonies, to the British?
> Again, value is always dependent on context (subjective.)

The intrinsic Value of a particular gram of gold is always the same,
but its derived Value depends on its effect on other things. Obviously
this would mean that it would have different total Values depending
upon where it is and what is around it, but the value that different
people will put on it in the same context has to do with the *people*
being subjective, not the total Value of the gram of gold.


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