Re: ESSAY: 'Debunking 'Hippy dippy moral philosophy'

From: Randall Randall (
Date: Mon Jun 21 2004 - 16:36:15 MDT

On Jun 16, 2004, at 2:38 PM, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:
> Randall Randall wrote:
>> Is it your contention, then, that if an objective morality
>> exists, it will necessarily have nothing to do with any
>> current human morality? That, supposing the existence of
>> morality which has physical consequences like, say, gravity,
>> humans will turn out to have no ability to measure the
>> morality of an action?
> For myself, it is my contention that humans would be the ones who
> decide that XYZ is an "objective morality", and this would be decided
> on the basis of those forces that determine our decisions *right now*
> - patterns already in our brain, that got there via social and genetic
> processes. The causal explanation of why humans regarded XYZ as an
> "objective morality" would end up being phrased in terms other than
> XYZ. We already know how humans got to be the way they are; an
> objective morality wasn't part of it.

Unless natural selection features in objective morality (if and
when we discover such).

> An objectively existing optimization process, evolution, did the job.
> Evolution constructed psychologies whose reaction to evolution, when
> we found out about it, was a strict spandrel of existing adaptations.
> We looked at the objective morality that produced us, and said, "Yuck,
> how immoral." Why wouldn't that happen to any other objective
> morality we ran across, if it took no notice of love and life and
> laughter? This, I think, is the same sentiment expressed by John K
> Clark's objection - though I may have misunderstood him.

Love and life and laughter are currently expressed in matter in
our universe. If there is an objective morality, it could be
that is has nothing to say about them, but until we have evidence
of that, I'd prefer not to try to defend such a thing.

In any case, the fact that some or many humans say "Yuck, how
immoral" about something, whether it's puma/antelope relations,
dumping oil in the ocean, or the mechanics of procreation, doesn't
mean it's immoral. It can't, since you can find those on both
sides of such questions. It may be that some of the things that
humans say "Yuck, how immoral" about *are* immoral, but consensus
is not necessarily the way to determine that, any more than
consensus would have been a good way to determine the distance
to the Indies heading west from Spain, or the value of PI.

Randall Randall <>
Property law should use #'EQ , not #'EQUAL .

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