Re: Ethics and Morality

Freespeak (
Sun, 05 Oct 1997 15:43:21 -0700

At 09:37 PM 10/4/97 -0500, "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> wrote:
>them in the leg, which is the really strange part - that the foundation of
>Universe depends on numbers which we call "imaginary".
I doubt this. I think it's more likely that our
numbers constitute our attempt to *describe* the

>Human evolution is against complex numbers. They form no part of the human
>mind. They are foreign to us, external to our selves, our goals, and our
>natures, external to the regularities which forged the reality we now call
>Real Life. And yet the true laws, the Laws of Physics, tick on regardless.
>We were not consulted, and our opinions have no effect on What Is.
I suspect that what you call "true laws, the Laws
of Physics," constitute more or less useful opinions
-- again, attempts to *describe*.

>This, I believe, holds true of ethics. Right and wrong are objective facts,
>and not facts which we or *any* volitional agent were consulted about.
I think "right and wrong" constitute *descriptions*,
possibly with a reliability that can sometimes be
estimated quite accurately, that certain behaviors
can be predicted to produce certain consequences.

They could be regarded as heuristics or rules of
thumb. As we develop and evolve we improve them.

All our ideas, concepts, words, numbers, and other
symbols *and their meanings* are our creations. We
hope they reflect or represent aspects of reality
in a useful manner.

>What we are evolved to regard as "right" is as irrelevant as the numbers we
>evolved to see as "real". True right and wrong are outside of our opinions
>and unaffected by them. And nobody knows what right and wrong truly are,
>INCLUDING me! When asked an ethical question, we are in the same position as
>a Newtonian physicist asked the true nature of time. We can't possibly
get it
>right; we must simply avoid all questions of "true natures" and go with the
>best guess we can make.
>Anyway, that's why I keep on having trouble in discussing this with the
>members of this List. You keep on talking about evolution, and about what
>think. But that's irrelevant. You and I can no more affect right and wrong
>that way than we can flatten the Earth. Humans were not consulted here.

If you argue that what others think or say
about "right and wrong" is irrelevant, then
-- unless you have superior ability to think
and say -- it seems to me that you have to
also conclude that whatever you think or say
about "right and wrong" is equally irrelevant.

Surely, your notion that, "Right and wrong are
objective facts..." is just what you think and

Frederick Mann
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