Brent Meeker writes (quoting SP):

> >>> There are several differences between the axioms of ethics and aesthetics 
> >>> on 
> >>> the one hand and those of logic, mathematics and science on the other. 
> >>> One is 
> >>> that you can bet that any sentient species would arrive at exactly the 
> >>> same rules 
> >>> of arithmetic and chemistry, but might have completely bizarre, or at 
> >>> least very 
> >>> different, notions of ethics and aesthetics. 
> >> If this hypothetical species arose by evolution in competition with other 
> >> species, then I think they would necessarily share basic values with us:  
> >> They would have language and a desire to be accepted within a tribe.  So 
> >> they would generally value truth in statements - though not absolutely.  
> >> They would consider it good to reproduce and they would consider their 
> >> death and the death of any relatives as bad, particularly before they had 
> >> reproduced.  Although Hume said you can't get "ought" from "is", Darwinian 
> >> evolution implies that certain "oughts" will be almost universal.
> > 
> > I don't know about that. The female praying mantis eats the male's head 
> > after mating. 
> > Is that a good way to behave? How would you explain your view to an 
> > intelligent race 
> > evolved from praying mantids (I had to look the plural up)?
> They would agree with it.  Obviously the male preying mantis thinks it very 
> important to reproduce - even a great risk to his life.  It's good for the 
> female to eat the male just as it it is good for her to eat other insects.  
> However, I don't think an intelligent race can evolve without being social - 
> certainly nothing like our kind of intelligence.  I think social competition 
> within the species is the primary driver of natural selection for "higher" 
> intellectual functions.

But is head-eating a good thing? A group of male mantids might get together to 
an anti-head-eating movement, arguing that it is barbaric and no longer 
necessary even 
though it has always been the way and is probably genetically programmed. The 
-head-eating majority would probably vehemently disagree. Everyone agrees on 
the facts, 
everyone is able to reason, but there are still two conflincting views on what 
is "good".

> >>> Another is that matters of ethics and 
> >>> aesthetics are not really third person communicable: an alien species may 
> >>> have 
> >>> notions about these that can only be understood by someone with their 
> >>> psychology. 
> >>> This is because ethics and aesthetics at a fundamental level involve 
> >>> emotion, whereas 
> >>> science and logic do not. 
> >> I don't think there are completely emotion free thoughts, nor can there 
> >> be, in an intelligent being.  The force of logic is a kind of feeling.  
> >> People feel discomfort if they realize they are holding two contrary 
> >> propositions.  Any artificial intelligence would need artificial 
> >> aesthetics.  A mathematician who showed no judgement about which theorems 
> >> to prove, and so proved things like 287+1=288, would be considered an 
> >> idiot.  Mathematicians are famous for their aesthetic valuation of proofs.
> > 
> > Yes, but with ethical statements the emotion is essential to its truth 
> > value. Star Trek's Mr. 
> > Spock (if he truly did lack all emotions) could honestly say he does not 
> > know why it is bad to 
> > cause suffering, or why Bach's music is beautiful. But he would be able to 
> > understand 
> > mathematical theorems regardless of whether he appreciated them 
> > aesthetically.
> But he wouldn't care whether propositions of mathematics were true or false.  
> He even wouldn't care that he held contrary ideas.  And in that case he 
> couldn't choose this act over that.  In other words he'd be completely 
> disfunctional.  That's why I think emotion, in the general sense of having 
> values, is essential to intelligence (even low level intelligence).

It depends on how far you stretch the term "emotion". My body puts great effort 
into staying 
alive even when I am unconscious. You could say that it "wants" to stay alive, 
"choosing" one 
course of action over another in order to achieve this. But this seems quite 
different to what 
I mean by these terms when I am awake. It doesn't seem such a big deal to turn 
off life support 
once someone is brain dead even though the intact parts of his physiology are 
trying to keep his body functioning.

Stathis Papaioannou
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