Re: Moral Complexity, Moral Efficacy Was: Moo/Boo!
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 12:43:05 -0800 (PST)

(Sorry this is a bit long in coming. Bout of paper grading -- blech.)
On Thu, 19 Feb 1998, Peter C. McCluskey wrote:

[lots of deleted stuff about the need for complex strategies for coping
with the modern world, all of which is agreeable to me, then:]

> Would you care to propose a one or two sentence rule which is simple to
> follow and which will probably prevent you from being stepped on by a
> Power?

Here are a few one-sentence suggestions (in descending order of personal
1. Be a Power myself.
2. Facilitate the proliferation of competing Powers.
3. Undertake memetic engineering to spread some such injunction as
"respect diversity," "respect rights," "abhor unecessary suffering," etc.
4. Befriend the right Powers.
5. Lay low.

> I thought surely that accusing you of stereotyping people would provoke
> you to clarify your reasoning, but I'm more confused than before about
> why you think intolerance is associated with the goal of simplicity.

I said that whenever I hear someone claim that simplicity is important to
a proper moral outlook, I think of purity, closemindedness, intolerance.
You thought that this would be because I associated the value of
simplicity with a lack of education. Again, I don't think this is so. I
just think the word "simplicity" (whenever it takes on an ethical
register) sets off different associations for me than it does for you.
If I had any stereotypical figures in mind here they would be evangelical
Christians of the fag-hating Darwin-bashing kind or flamebreathing Randian
objectivists. Neither of these figures are necessarily uneducated in my
view, tho' both seem to think that ethical truths are plainer and simpler
by far than I do. I don't know that this clarifies my reasoning
particularly, but surely it will make you less confused (were you really?)
about where I'm coming from. Best, Dale