Re: Subjective Morality

Samael (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 16:07:51 -0000

-----Original Message-----
From: Billy Brown <>
>Its unavoidable, once you look at the problem from a certain perspective.
>Once you decide to look and see if there is an objective morality, you have
>(broadly speaking) three possible results:
>1. You find external, objectively verifiable proof that some particular
>moral system is correct. Then you're pretty much stuck with following it.
>2. You find external, objectively verifiable proof that there is no such
>moral system. You can do anything you like, and it doesn't mean anything.
>3. You find that you can't tell for sure if such a system exists or not.
>This is where most humans give up, because the problem seems intractable.
>However, in our current age the correct response would seem to be: "If I
>can't figure it out, I need to improve my ability to figure things out and
>then come back to the problem." With IE already on the horizon, it begins
>to make sense to think in terms of preparing to search for a real answer
>instead of just contemplating our navels.

This would seem reasonable, if it were not for the fact that it searching for morals logically is like asking a computer for the meaning of life (an idea which Douglas Adams quite successfully took the piss out of in Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy). The problem is that we don't know what the question means.

Asking what is moral effectively boils down to asking "What should I do in situation X?". The answer is that the question is meaningless. A syntacticalyl similar question that is meaningful is "What should I do in situation X do achieve Y." If you do not know where you are going, you cannot ask for directions. (Aaaah! Too much Zen! Must resist!).

The main problem with most philosophical enquiry at a low/uneducated level is incorrect usage of the word 'why'. Frequently if you rephrase the question without using 'why' in it, you realise that the answer is easier than it appears. For instance "Why are we here" can be rephrased as 'what sequence of events caused us to be here." which can be analysed scientifically, or it can be reduced to "What were the purpouses of the people in coming here?" which can also be solved through enquiry. Most of the problems that people have in philosophy simply come from asking questions which don't actually make sense.

But I digress.