RE: Encouraging a Positive Transcension

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Feb 14 2004 - 13:15:19 MST

Hmmm... so you are positing the ethical principle that "ethical systems that
posit goals and lead to their successful achievement" are good, whereas
"ethical systems that posit goals and do not lead to their successful
achievement" are bad.

I sympathize with this feeling of yours, but I'm not sure I agree with it,
and I'm quite sure it doesn't have any absolute value.

For instance, in many cases I might prefer

-- a system that posits a grand goal but fails to achieve it, but achieves
other excellent things along the way


-- a system that posits a mediocre goal and achieves it successfully

In short, I don't consider self-contradictoriness or
partial-self-defeatingness to *necessarily* be a fatal flaw in an ethical
system. Although I agree that generally these things should be avoided.

-- Ben G

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Mikko
> Särelä
> Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2004 2:01 AM
> To:
> Subject: RE: Encouraging a Positive Transcension
> On Fri, 13 Feb 2004, Ben Goertzel wrote:
> > Well, I don't think all ethical systems are equivalent.
> However, I think
> > there are many different ethical and meta-ethical systems that are
> > equivalently good from the point of view of reason. Reason
> merely judges
> > whether an ethical or meta-ethical system is CONSISTENT or not.
> It makes no
> > judgment beyond that. And I think there are many different consistent
> > ethical and meta-ethical systems.
> I agree with you on the importance of consistency, but disagree that it is
> the only way of judging ethical system by reason.
> Human action consists of goals and the means used to get to those goals.
> Consistency of the internal system of human action means that our goals
> and our means are not contradictory as such. In addition to that we can
> also judge the ethical system by asking whether some of the goals or means
> used to reach them, impede the person from reaching his goals (because how
> the universe works).
> In other words, logically consistent, but self defeating moral system is a
> bad moral system according to my criteria.
> --
> Mikko Särelä
> Emperor Bonaparte: "Where does God fit into your system?"
> Pièrre Simon Laplace: "Sire, I have no need for that hypothesis."

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