Re: Moral Complexity, Moral Efficacy Was: Moo/Boo!

Peter C. McCluskey (
Sat, 28 Feb 1998 08:05:11 -0800 ( writes:
>> 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.

The effectiveness of #3 is unclear. I suspect it needs to be significantly
more complex to have a reasonable chance of working.
As for the others, I sure wish I knew a simple way to follow them.

>> 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

Ok, I was wrong to guess that your stereotyping was based on education
level assumptions.
I think you have an innacurate stereotype of Christian extremists.
You may be partly right about Randians. They clearly value simplicity
in moral rules, and their intolerance may be provoked by a need to hide
from themselves the differences between the simple rules the claim are
adequate and the somewhat more complex rules they actually obey.

[I'm about go offline for a week's vacation, so it will be while before
I respond. Your last reply in the "Respect for Animals, Respect for People"
appears to be just a repetition of the ideas I thought I had already answered,
so I probably won't respond further to that.]

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