Jef Allbright wrote:


peterdjones wrote:

Moral and natural laws.


An investigation of natural laws, and, in parallel, a defence of ethical objectivism.The objectivity, to at least some extent, of science will be assumed; the sceptic may differ, but there is no convincing some people).

<snip>

As ethical objectivism is a work-in-progress there are many variants, and a considerable literature discussing which is the correct one.

I agree with the thrust of this post and I think there are a few key
concepts which can further clarify thinking on this subject:

(1) Although moral assessment is inherently subjective--being relative
to internal values--all rational agents share some values in common due
to sharing a common evolutionary heritage or even more fundamentally,
being subject to the same physical laws of the universe.

(2) From the point of view of any subjective agent, what is "good" is
what is assessed to promote the agent's values into the future.

(3) From the point of view of any subjective agent, what is "better" is
what is assessed as "good" over increasing scope.

(4) From the point of view of any subjective agent, what is increasingly
"right" or moral, is decision-making assessed as promoting increasingly
shared values over increasing scope of agents and interactions.

From the foregoing it can be seen that while there can be no objective
morality, nor any absolute morality, it is reasonable to expect
increasing agreement on the relative morality of actions within an
expanding context.  Further, similar to the entropic arrow of time, we
can conceive of an arrow of morality corresponding to the ratcheting
forward of an increasingly broad context of shared values (survivors of
coevolutionary competition) promoted via awareness of increasingly
effective principles of interaction (scientific knowledge of what works,
extracted from regularities in the environment.)

Further, from this theory of metaethics we can derive a practical system
of social decision-making based on (1) increasing fine-grained knowledge
of shared values, and (2) application of increasingly effective
principles, selected with regard to models of probable outcomes in a
Rawlsian mode of broad rather than narrow self-interest.

I apologize for the extremely terse and sparse nature of this outline,
but I wanted to contribute these keystones despite lacking the time to
provide expanded background, examples, justifications, or
clarifications.  I hope that these seeds of thought may contribute to a
flourishing garden both on and offlist.

- Jef

Well said!  I agree almost completely - I'm a little uncertain about (3) and (4) above 
and the meaning of "scope".  Together with the qualifications of Peter Jones 
regarding the lack of universal agreement on even the best supported theories of science, 
you have provided a good outline of the development of ethics in a way parallel with the 
scientific development of knowledge.

There's a good paper on the relation facts and values by Oliver Curry which 
bears on many of the above points:

http://human-nature.com/ep/downloads/ep04234247.pdf

Brent Meeker


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