From: Jef Allbright (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Feb 14 2004 - 14:01:40 MST
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 think I'll jump in here for a moment.
Systems of thought are consistent only within a given context. No system of
thought can be said to be absolutely consistent (Godel, Hume,...) but we
observe with nested levels of context that overall consistency increases
with increasing scope. A god's-eye view (encompassing time and space) would
be the most consistent but can only be approached, never achieved even in
theory. As life becomes increasingly more complex, more capable, and more
aware, I think life becomes more consistent in its actions. In my opinion,
there's no avoiding this kind of "progress".
That being said, future states of any significant complexity can not be
predicted, but can be influenced (at least from our point of view) by our
choices and actions. In other words, in any practical sense, we create our
future out of the randomness that is always present at the edges of the
system that comprises Self as it interacts with the unknown Other.
It seems to me that a workable meta-ethics could be based on an
understanding of the dynamics of complex systems as they apply to phenomena
at the atomic, molecular, cellular, organism, social, global, ...) level,
combined with our present set of evolved human values, with the goal of
maximizing consistency as we continue to grow.
Before you think the foregoing is hopelessly circular, remember I'm talking
about *nested* levels of context, with the goal of increasing consistency.
It's not circular. It's recursive, with the end never quite in sight, and
that is a concept still unfamiliar and uncomfortable to many humans, but
it's the way nature works. Ultimately, I think it's unavoidable. So the
better we understand and act in harmony with this process, the less pain
(more joy) we will experience, and that is the essence of our current
popular understanding of goodness or morality.
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