Re: Objective standards of conduct [was Re: Dyson (Was: Paths to Uploading)]

Samael (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 17:39:55 -0000

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>...and we like these things because of our evolutionary heritage. It's not
>a matter of personal whim at all, but an objectively verifiable nexus of
>instinctual responses. In humans, of course, these instincts are usually
>regularized by the application of reason, resulting in codes of conduct
>whose relative wisdom can be ascertained by observing the results with
>reference to our biological imperatives, i.e. objectively. Thus, we have
>both an objective basis for formulating ethical standards and an objective
>means of verifiying the worth (workability) of a given standard.

So if it's a biological imperative it's "right". Boy is your life going to be odd! Oh and you're still going to have to work out which bits of the way people are is defined by genetics and which bit is cultural.

>>>I'd feel distinctly uneasy around anyone who actually believes that not
>>>conking me over the head to take my watch is just an arbitrary personal
>>I felt the same way for a while. [...] When nothing nasty happens and
>>people continue acting in a reasonable way, the feeling goes away.
>You're begging the question of _why_ people continue to act in a
>"reasonable" way. (Note that you've just vitiated your own argument, since
>if it's reasonable, then it's not arbitrary, i.e. not subjective.)

Sorry, replace the word reasonable with 'polite', that's what I meant (reasonable behaviour over here in England is a euphemism for polite behaviour)

>The fact of the evolution of life provides profound insight into why we
>consistently, as a species, choose certain values and reject other things
>as "evil". As such, I consider it the only firm basis for ethical theory.
>Sort of the "missing link" in the natural law tradition.

Evolution only show what is necessary for survival, which mostly appears to be the ability to bop your neighbour over the head and steal his country as rapidly as possible, while shaggin as many of his women as possible.

I don't recall any natural societies of any species in which animals refrain from stealing from each other when each others backs are turned, or from indulging ion all sorts of conduct which would seem to be anti-libertarian.