Re: Ethics as Science

Date: Fri Mar 10 2000 - 06:53:13 MST

I'm very far behind in my correspondence and I know that Robin has said he
has to drop out of this discussion for work reasons. I've had time to only
read this interesting thread quickly and so make only this one comment from
the peanut gallery: I don't see Robin's points addressing the fundamental
"is-ought" gap that I think Dan is talking about. To me, it's one thing (and
a very important and good thing) to come up with increasingly accurate
descriptive and predictive models of behavior, and quite another to develop
PRESCRIPTIVE systems of analysis. As I've written here before, I do not see
any fundamental inconsistency between scientific materialism and
"determinism" on the one hand and the notion that sentient beings are moral
actors capable of making (and required to make) moral choices. In brutal
summary, my reconciliation of these two notions derives from complexity
theory: above a certain level of complexity, mental systems cannot be
accurately enough modeled in practical terms to completely predict their
behavior, requiring such systems to employ generalizing heuristics that map
satisfactorily onto a traditional notion of the realm of "ethics".

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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