Re: Measuring (quantifying) morality?

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri Aug 25 2006 - 13:25:17 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> It is therefore
> rather entertaining, if not thigh-slapping, to see you making a joke
> that dubs those who pant after morality as morons. Thud. Apologies to
> everyone for the appallingly heavy-handed exegesis.

But Damien, just because human cognition creates the reference frame
within which it is wrong to kill babies regardless of what anyone thinks
of it - as Gordon Worley put it, "Morality is objective within a given
frame of reference" - doesn't mean that there is no morality. Obviously
I don't think that. I am quite happy to live in a cognitively created
reference frame that says that killing babies is wrong, since, according
to my reference frame, it is wrong regardless of what anyone thinks of it.

But a lot of moral *discussion* is moronic, which, if the joke needs a
sting, provides it. In other words the joke is orthogonal to whether
morality is believed to be subjective or objective, and relies simply on
the listener agreeing that many specific arguments about morality have
been stupid, with nontrivial frequency. I could have made that joke in
1996 and it would have been the same joke.

Exegesis complete.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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