Re: SOC: Tractatus Theopoliticus (was: Is vs. Ought)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sat, 27 Nov 1999 18:06:42 -0600

Damien Broderick wrote:
> >the more I think
> >about it, the more I wonder if I'm asking the right questions.
> Not before time, Grasshopper.

...but rest assured that I still know, as I've known for the last five years, that everyone else's views on this subject are shot through with logical flaws. I can't ever recall someone saying to me: "You know, I don't claim to know the ultimate answers on this subject, but your answers are obviously wrong because..." Everyone who says I'm wrong claims to know all they need to know about morality. Even you, Damien.

Where's the courage to build a philosophy based on discovering morality, instead of claiming to have it? Where is the spirit of science? Where is the quest for truth?

> It seems to me that your ambition of finding an `objective or external
> morality' is based on a bafflingly simple error. You are seeking a
> teleological answer in a non-teleological cosmic substrate.

To me the question is not "Do goals exist?" but "Can goals exist?" If the cosmic substrate can construct cognitive events as ontological matter (qualia), can it construct teleologies? The question deserves investigation.


PS: Actually, I dimly recall that Mitchell Porter challenged my 1996 claim that "the Powers would be ethical" on the grounds that my conception of ethics was anthropomorphic, a conclusion I later came to myself.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way