Bruno Marchal writes:

> >> Not in any normative sense. But once we bet on a theory (like comp),
> >> then we get mathematical tools which can provide general explanation 
> >> of
> >> what is bad, and also explain why such definition cannot be normative,
> >> making the bad/good distinctions an ideal goal for complex 
> >> sufficiently
> >> self-sustaining machines societies.
> >
> > What if they're Nazi machines?
> In "Conscience and M├ęcanisme", well actually in this list too (a long 
> time ago) I have proposed a simple recursive axiomatic of "conscience" 
> (moral consciousness or moral superiority, or moral goodness).
> 1) A machine is said to be good if the machine is not bad.
> 2) And there exist to kind of bad machines: those who asserts they are 
> good and those who asserts their are bad.
> Given that the main assertion of the nazi is that they are good (see 
> mein kampf) , it follows they are bad.
> Better to fight or run away from such nazi machines ...

Who says the Nazis are wrong when they assert they are good? They said 
some paranoid things which can be shown to be false, and if their claim to be 
good is based on these assertions then it can be shown that they are not good, 
but suppose for the sake of argument that they do not say anything illogical 
or not in accordance with the empirical facts. This is my point: the Nazis 
say that it is a good thing to kill certain groups of people and all you could 
do is 
disagree with them, call them names, run away.

> > I am touched by your confidence that the rational will lead to the 
> > good,
> > and I wish it were so, but it isn't and it never has been.
> G* proves that rationality lead to the good. Like Plotinus I hope 
> and/or bet that rationality lead to the good. It is my faith, if you 
> want.
> But G* proves also that any machine believing strongly or just 
> asserting (without interrogation mark) that rationality leads to the 
> good will be irrational and will be lead to the bad.
> G* is full of "true propositions" which when asserted, proved, or 
> institutionalized, become false. (cf BDt -> ~Dt)
> This, imo, explains many confusions and even many suffering when lobian 
> machines try to argue on those matter and forget the interrogation 
> mark. With comp there is a sense to say that we are at best "divine 
> hypotheses", and God will "rightly" abandon us the day "we" take for 
> granted that we are His/Her/It  *last* word. This could really be a 
> sort of cosmic fatal error for "us", but a chance for more humble 
> different divine hypothesis (spider? bacteria? ...).
> More on the ground, I do believe "democracy" is a progress, and that we 
> are making some ethical progress on this planet, albeit slowly. In 
> particular if a "random "child is thirsty then the probability that he 
> will drink water is bigger in a democracy than in a non democracy. And 
> that is good, no?. Democracy is even a meta-progress in the non 
> normative comp sense. It does not tell us what is good or wrong, on the 
> contrary, it shows us a way to doubt political ideas by letting us try 
> different political programs and revising them (by democracy I mean 
> only repeated "honest" elections). But of course democracy does not 
> *necessarily* lead to the good.

Just in that last sentence is the assumption that there is some other basis for 
the good than what the majority decides to say it is. For example, if 51% of 
population decided to kill the other 49% and take all their possessions, 
you would not think that was good. This means that your idea of what is good is 
somehow better than the decisision of the majority, and you only favour 
because you think it is more likely to come up with laws in accordance with 
ethical principles than most other forms of government. Isn't that a little 

> >  I would only be
> > a little less frightened of a rational murderous regime than of an 
> > irrational
> > one.
> That remark is related with many conceptual difficulties including the 
> free will question (like your use of the term "gratuitous" which is the 
> only weakness I see in your axiom for "bad" above). To be short I will 
> just ask you how could a murder be irrational? It seems to me that a 
> murder without ratio can only be a sort of accident, or a non sense 
> (like a really gratuitous act perhaps).
> I would be frightened to be killed in *any* situation, but in any case 
> I would prefer to know the ratio. If the killer is just insane, this is 
> equivalent as bad luck (like to be killed by a natural catastrophe). If 
> the killer is a sadist, I would prefer the killer acknowledging it 
> (instead of inventing pretext or confusing lies). If the killer is a 
> racist, then it will hurt me morally much more (bad ratio, promise of 
> many other victims, etc.), if the killer decides to kill me for 
> ideological ratio, well it is like racism (bad ratio).
> As doctor you probably know that victim who survive some natural 
> disaster recover quite more easily, for equivalent 3-wounds, than 
> victims who have been the target of purposefully human organized 
> disaster.

That's true, but I could just say I don't care. People who eat meat don't care 
that they are consuming sentient beings. They might tell themselves that 
animals are not sentient thus saving the axiom "killing sentient beings is 
but for the most part they conveniently adjust the axiom to "killing sentient 
beings is wrong, except when they taste good". If that's what they want to say 
and you disagree, all you can do is call them names. 

Stathis Papaioannou
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