Re: Subjective Morality

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 18:20:51 -0800 (PST)

> How did you determine that is your best course? What exactly
> is wrong with a rational, functional, utilitarian morality?

"Rational", "functional", and "utilitarian" are value judgments as well, so there might be something very "wrong" with them, or there might not be. Or there might be no way to judge.

Our epistemologies have improved over the years to the point where many of us are quite willing to express confidence in and make a personal /commitment/ to the "reality" of propositions about the world. I plant crops, confident the Sun will rise tomorrow to nourish them; I treat my infection with antibiotics rather than leeches; I refrain from filling my gas tank with milk, confident that my understanding of combustion justifies that decision. We further have confidence that any two sufficiently intelligent beings will reach the same conclusions about nature; we call this "objective reality".

Is there any reason to suspect that our moral philosophies will not also continue to improve as our natural philosophies have? Is there some barrier that will prevent future intelligences from having as much confidence in their choice of action as I have now in my descriptions of nature? Is there some reason that two intelligences /cannot/ of necessity reach the same moral conclusion about the same circumstances? Might it not be the case that our moral epistemologies will evolve to the point where I can bet my life that any other intelligent being will reach the same moral conclusion as I, just as I would bet it on eir reaching the same physical conclusion as I? I would call that state of affairs "objective morality".

Objective reality is a powerful concept that allows humans to do miraculous things, like building bridges that don't collapse and cars that run. I do not yet have confidence that there exists an objective morality, but the potential it would hold for allowing us to do even more miraculous things demands that I seek it, for the same reason I must seek objective reality. Just because I can't see it is no reason to abandon the search. Until then, I also see value in behaving /as if/ there is such a thing, and making a personal commitment to behaving in a manner consistent with my current best guess as to what it is, because I have no better moral epistemology to use...yet.

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