Re: Subject: Re: A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 18 Nov 1999 17:12:26 -0800 (PST)

>> [Axelrod] discovered
>> that the best way to do that is often to play nice; that does
>> nothing to support whether "playing nice" is or isn't a worthy
>> goal in its own right.

> The worthiness of "playing nice" relates to how it effectively promotes
> any population that practices it. From an evolutionary standpoint,
> populations that play nice succeed (reproduce and thrive) more than
> populations that do not play nice.

You're making the further unstated assumption that the success of a population is good; i.e., you are defining moral worth as equivalent to success of the species. That's as good a desire as any, but there's certainly nothing more fundamentally "right" about success than any other human desire. There _is_ something unique about one goal that might make it a good premise on which to base ethical arguments: the continued existence of the ethical actor. Individual survival (of the entity exercising moral choice--whatever its physical form) is unique in that it is the only goal that is a necessary condition of all other possible goals. Taking it as a premise can lead to some useful conclusions, but alas, I don't think it is fruitful enough to produce ethical systems as complete as we want. Species survival might well be a richer source of ethical premises, but I'm not yet convinced that there's real value in it.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
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