Ethics and Morality

John K Clark (
Wed, 8 Oct 1997 09:01:43 -0700 (PDT)


On Tue, 07 Oct 1997 "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> Wrote:

>objective morality wouldn't be a force pervading the Universe for
>Good, just an objective method of labeling events "good" or "evil".

Then even if you succeeded in your task all you would have done is provide
an objective definition for the words "good" and "evil", but no reason why
you should do good and avoid evil and thus no reason to favor one definition
over another. Dreaming up objective definitions is no great trick, that's why
I said "an" objective definition not "the" objective definition. For example,
"good is white and bad is black", that's about as objective as you can get
but because, as you say, "white" is not a force pervading the Universe there
is no urgency in only doing white (or good) things in my daily life.

>Does the existence of "objective cardinality" cause there to be more
>of things?

Yes. You're talking about "things" so I must assume you're talking about
finite numbers because there is no proof there is an infinite number of any
thing. If two finite sets could be put into a one to one correspondence and
yet one set have more members than another then logic would not work in this
alternate universe and the phrase "more of things" becomes gibberish.

>If you went to an alternate Universe where numbers did not exist,
>how would things be the slightest bit different?

But I couldn't go there because then there would have to be at least 2
universes and 2 does not exist, the only thing that does is the null set.

+>>Alternate conversation:
+>>Obviously "Objective Reality" isn't being defined as what causes the
+>>neural events that I experience as belief, but in some different way.

+> Obviously, and for that very reason it's equally obvious to me that
+> whatever "Objective Reality" is defined to be it should have no interest
+> to you.

Quite correct, if you were to define "Objective Reality" in such a way that
the neural events in my brain were not part of it then I would have no
interest in "Objective Reality".

>Just because you can't think of something [Objective Morality]
>doesn't mean it isn't there.

That's certainly true, but in the case of objective morality I don't even
want to try to look for it because I can't see any puzzle it could solve if I
found it. Again, that doesn't prove such puzzles are nonexistent but there
are plenty of very difficult problems that I already know for a fact to exist
and life is short.

>My ethical imperatives are all interim solutions and are presented
>as such. Wouldn't the Universe be a much nicer place if everyone
>else did the same?

Your ideas about what is ethical and what is not are similar to my own
(except for your belief that a crack neighborhood is as bad as the Holocaust),
and yes, I think that if most people behaved as we do then the Universe would
be a much nicer place, but other people have a different opinions and may not
even want to live in a nicer place.

John K Clark

Version: 2.6.i