Re: "Morality?" - Composite Reply

Eric Watt Forste (
Wed, 08 Oct 1997 12:40:16 -0700

Eliezer Yudkowsky writes:
> As far as I can tell, in our Universe - which is a very unintuitive
> place - things seem to be set up so that derived qualities can
> appear from nowhere.

Yes. Although mass/energy is conserved, information is not.
Values and knowledges are clearly more like information than
they are like mass/energy. Although now we're hunkered down
next to Aristotle, staring the form vs. substance dichotomy in
the face again.

I have to recommend Paul M. Churchland's essay on moral realism,
which is the last chapter of his book A NEUROCOMPUTATIONAL

>From a game-theoretic point of view, one tentative morality that
I rather like is the imperative to seek out and engage in
positive-sum games, while avoiding zero-sum and negative-sum
games. But even here there are metaphysical problems: is a
positive-sum game possible? (I think so.) What is it that
increases in the operation of a positive-sum game?

That imperative recast in biological terms is "Prefer symbiosis
to parasitism." I suspect that the biological phenomena of
symbiosis and parasitism might be most clearly defined in terms
of game theory, but I haven't run across anyone who has done
this yet. (I haven't been looking very hard yet either.)

Symbiosis is an instance of an ongoing positive-sum
game among a group of organisms or populations.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd