Re: Ethical theories

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Sun Feb 01 2004 - 07:31:46 MST

Philip Sutton wrote:
> So the objective is a kind of mutual adjustment so that the system as
> a whole is adjusted to optimise for a set of the parts of the system.

Yes, sort of. If we all understand the rules of the game we are playing,
then we can each adjust our playing for the good of the team, and thereby,
the good of ourselves. (The rules of the meta-game are available to us as
natural law, the way the universe appears to work.)

> But there is also a thread of our thinking, on this list, where we
> seem to be subscribing to a sense of creation or progress where the
> parts of the system are the vehicles for the unfolding of the system
> as a whole to achieve a greater state. But how can parts of the
> system judge what is
> a better condition for the system as a whole - especially in the
> distant future which has yet to evolve?
> Are we playing around with two drivers?
> - an urge to create a social system where all sentient beings with
> sufficient reflective power are expected to optimise their own lives
> in ways that are not at the expense of the other beings that are given
> moral regard

As Ben stated, and I agree, a useful ethical theory may not be able to give
us the specific answers, such as the desired social system that you
mentioned, but it may help us understand the process of moving toward the
desired goals.

> - an urge to contribute to the unfolding of a more wonderful
> universe....... (but what constitutes a more wonderful universe would
> most likely be rather different for different beings)

The nature of the non-linear dynamics of complex systems (including social
systems) is that we can't predict what it's going to be like very far in the
future. But we can learn the science of dealing with complex systems on a
more local level and thus reduce the amount of thrashing.

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