Since it seems the Overcoming Bias posters are either unwilling or unable to examine the concept of morality more closely, I’ll link to Wikipedia’s discussion of the concept.

The first sense is useless as a tool for understanding.  The set of all possible codes of conduct is complete and inconsistent, and being in possession of any particular code chosen at random is arbitrary.

The second sense, however, is somewhat more useful.  It’s not clear such a universal morality exists at all – but if it does, it must possess certain properties, given that rational entities are supposed to agree as to its nature.  It follows that the code itself would need to be derivable from basic principles, principles that are in common to all things within the universe.  Y’know, mathematics, that conceptual branch of physics.

What a shame that humanity has never developed a field of inquiry dedicated to the objective evaluation of different courses of action.  It sure would come in useful when trying to understand what behavioral guidelines founded upon universal principles would be like.


3 Responses to “Morality”

  1. Nick Tarleton Says:

    Game theory guides you in getting what you want, and provides general heuristics useful for many values of “what you want” (although, if I understand the No Free Lunch theorems correctly, it can’t provide any heuristics useful for ALL values), but without a preexisting set of preferences it’ll never give you anything close to a complete morality.

  2. melendwyr Says:

    I think evolution provides the justification for sets of preferences. Only preferences with certain kinds of consequences persist.

    Bees could be made that built septagonal cells, tigers could cooperate, and wolves could be loners… but they wouldn’t stay that way for long. Those strategies aren’t stable. They fall out of the world and into oblivion.

  3. I think melen pretty much hit it. I think algorithms that have persisted up to our present moment seemed to have benefitted from a combination of 2 factors: (1) they persistence maximized better than other algorithms, or (2) they were randomly luckier. That’s about it. As a subjective conscious entity, I value a hodgepodge of things that were probably selected for genetically and memetically. But I aspire to value the persistence of my subjective conscious experience above all else. But poke me in the right part of the brain and no doubt I value something else entirely.

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