RE: Collective Volition fascinating but I'm not convinced ;)

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Thu Jun 03 2004 - 00:41:26 MDT

 --- Ben Goertzel <> wrote: >

> To me, the concept of Objective Morality is an
> obvious oxymoron.
> Obviously there is not, and can never be, an
> "objective morality." The
> whole idea of morality is to impose some value
> system, some criterion
> regarding how things "should be." But objectivity
> is about how things
> ARE not about how they should be. The very nature
> of should-ness
> implies diversity, as opposed to singularity (in the
> sense of
> singular-ness).

I can't agree with you Ben. The idea that ARE and
'should be' are seperate is Humean dogma (I regard it
as a mistake comparable to Cartesian dualism). Please
read the (brief) essay I posted: 'Debunking Hippy
Dippy Moral Philosophy'.

Of course I agree with you that diversity is to be
highly valued. But I don't see Objective Morality as
being incompatible with diversity. The Objective
Morality might be in the form of a very general set of
imperatives, which allows for many different specific
manifestations. All I mean by Objective Morality is
that at a suitably high level of abtraction, there are
objective answers to moral questions: some degree of
moral restriction does not imply a singular solution,
any more than restricting attention to the class
'beautiful woman' implies that all these woman would
have to be identical.

> I do think however that some moral systems are more
> "universe-friendly"
> than others, in the sense that they have some prayer
> of actually guiding
> the dynamics of real parts of the universe.

But as far as I can tell, this is equivalent to
postulating objective morality. At a high enough
level of asbtraction you are saying that there is an
objective standard for distinguishing classes of moral
systems. I agree.

> I am not sure whether Eliezer's "collective
> volition" moral system is
> really workable (i.e. universe-friendly) or not.

I'm SURE it's not workable. ;)

> The "joy, growth and choice" moral system that I
> proposed a while back
> is at least *slightly* universe-friendly. At least,
> in the domain of
> humans and slightly-trans-human beings, it can be
> applied in a useful
> way. However, I'm not so sure it's
> universe-friendly in a grander
> sense, because the very concepts of "joy", "growth"
> and "choice" are
> part of the human nexus of concepts and feelings,
> and probably don't
> mean that much to profoundly nonhuman beings (at
> least, not enough that
> they would want these concepts to guide their lives
> and actions). Thus,
> Singularity-wise, I tend to view any moral system as
> something that's
> going to help launch the Singularity beyond human
> comprehension -- but
> only a little bit beyond human comprehension ...
> Once things get too far
> beyond human comprehension, then human-created moral
> systems probably
> aren't going to be very relevant.

Some of the things that humans value could be a
lower-order manifestation of a higher-order morality.
For instance things like love and laughter could be
'sublimated' to a higher level of abstraction, with
analogous terms in the definition of objective

> The closest thing there could be to an objective
> morality is some set of
> rules or principles regarding which moral systems
> tend to be more
> universe-friendly than others -- either in our
> universe in particular,
> or as a function of the universe in question. This
> is a very
> interesting area for speculation and investigation.
> -- Ben G

Right. That IS equivalent to postulating objective

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