Re: Ethics and Morality

The Low Golden Willow (
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 13:27:22 -0700 (PDT)

On Oct 6, 10:13pm, John K Clark wrote, responding to Greg Burch:

I think both Delmar England and John Clark have totally missed the point
of the first part of Greg's post. That, or they're refusing to follow
his flexible use of "objective". He acknowledged that there isn't some
Platonic realm of Objective Morals, or anything on the level of the
presumed laws of physics. He also said that such a result is not very
interesting. Practically, most people do want to live; practically,
most people do want to live in societies; practically, most people who
live in societies do want those societies to work well; and so
observationally most people should follow certain rules in their

This isn't "objective" in the sense of physics, or "objective" in the
sense of "Ayn Rand derived this from a tautology", but it is objective
instead of subjective in the sense that if you want certain things which
almost everyone does in fact want then you can't behave arbitrarily in
all aspects of your life, unless you're far more powerful than them.

There's nothing in the laws of physics which codes for life but
practically, chemicals got stirred around; practically, one of them was
self-replicating; observationally, life happened.

} just practical matters to take into consideration consider if you want to
} build a society that works in a certain way, I don't see why they deserve the
} lofty title "Objective Morality" any more than a table listing the amount of

I don't think everyone thinks objective morality is such a lofty term.
Objectively, if you want to live then you should look both ways when crossing
a street. Normally we leave off the if clause because nearly everyone
does want to live, or at least they don't want to die by being hit by a
random car. And no one cares, except in esoteric philosophical
discussions like this one.

I'd like to note for the record that I used to side with Rich Artym,
arch-subjectivist, until I realized this was all much ado about nothing.
Rich and I were talking philosophical absolutes; Greg Burch was talking
pragmatic engineering for nearly universal goals.

} Yet another problem, if "Objective Morality" really is objective then there
} should be some evidence of it in the non human world but we see none. If you

No, because morality only applies to beings which can (1) affect each
other and (2) communicate with each other. And then the form of
morality depends on how they can affect each other. Asteroids don't
communicate and sheep can't hurt wolves much.

Speaking of wolves, you're wrong. We do see something like morality in
the non-human world, and wolves among each other are the canonical

There isn't an objective morality keeping a Power from using us as
feedstock. But if there are multiple Powers, and they hang around each
other for a while, we can predict the range of their behaviors. That's
objective morality.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Although its rudimentary ego could neither receive nor transmit thought,
it knew that it was a fontema, that it must roll and roll and roll,
endlessly, that by virtue of determined rolling its species would
continue and would increase. -- one of those Lensmen books.