Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Brent Meeker writes:

[Mark Peaty]
>> 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.)

[Stathis Papaioannou]
> What if the ratcheting forward of shared values is at odds with > evolutionary expediency, i.e. there is some unethical policy that > improves the fitness of the species? To avoid such a dilemna you would > have define as ethical everything improves the fitness of the species, > and I'm not sure you want to do that.

If your species doesn't define as unethical that which is contrary to continuation of the species, your species won't be around to long. Our problem is that cultural evolution has been so rapid compared to biological evolution that some of our hardwired values are not so good for continuation of our (and many other) species. I don't think ethics is a matter of definitions; that's like trying to fly by settling on a definition of "airplane". But looking at the long run survival of the species might produce some good ethical rules; particularly if we could predict the future consequences clearly.

If slavery could be scientifically shown to promote the well-being of the species as a whole does that mean we should have slavery? Does it mean that slavery is good?

Note that I didn't say "promote the well-being"; I said "contrary to the 
continuation".  If the species could not continue without slavery, then there are two possible 
futures.  In one of them there's a species that thinks slavery is OK - in the other there is no 
opinion on the subject.

Of course "slavery" implies the coercive use of our fellow members of society 
against their desires.  So it logically entails that at least those enslaved will not be 
pleased with their situation.  But note that in ancient times one had an absolute right 
to one's life - including selling oneself into slavery, or contracting to be a slave for 
a certain time.  So someone (maybe a radical libertarian) might argue that you should be 
able to risk your own enslavement in exchange for some gain desirable to you.

Brent Meeker

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