Re: Measuring(quantifying) morality?

From: Jef Allbright (
Date: Tue Aug 15 2006 - 09:00:20 MDT

On 8/15/06, Patrick Crenshaw <> wrote:
> I've done some thinking about this.
> The first conclusion I came to is that the morality of an action has
> to do with the amount that it changes the integral of some Value
> function over all space at t=infinity. If you give me any moral
> system, I can give you a Value function like this that would describe
> it.

I can appreciate what you're intuiting here, but have you considered
the importance of context? Real moral decisions are always made under
conditions of relative uncertainty. As the context of awareness of
the extended consequences increases, so will there be increasing
agreement as to the morality (goodness) of an action, until with
complete objectivity (unattainable) there would be no moral issue at
all since the most effective choice of action would be obvious. Also
have you considered that real moral decisions must increasingly
discount the future due to increasing uncertainty and thus decreasing
control over extended consequences?

This also leads to why effective moral decision-making must be based
on best-known principles of what works, rather than directly on
desired outcomes.

BTW, it's often useful to consider trends that approach infinity, but
useless to talk about conditions "at infinity".

> The second thing is that for morality to be objective (and I think
> that it is; the idea that morality is just up in the air seems to me
> like people just aren't trying hard enough) the Value function must be
> a physically measurable quantity.

Consider that outcomes can certainly be measured against expectations
but that ultimately the question of perceived goodness is assessed by
agents within a limited (subjective) context.

> Next there is the idea that the Value of an object is in tow parts:
> the intrinsic Value, and the derived Value. The intrinsic value is is
> just the Value of the matter in the object existing and being in that
> particular configuration.

What is the value of a gram of gold to an investor, a jeweler, a
lonely dying man?
What was the value of the physical object called the Declaration of
Independence to the American colonies, to the British?
Again, value is always dependent on context (subjective.)

- Jef

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