[extropy-chat] consequentialism/deontologism discussion

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Thu Apr 26 10:26:16 UTC 2007

On 4/26/07, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:

That said, I believe we are in fact on the cusp of extending our moral
> decision-making beyond the blind evolutionary preferences of our
> biology and culture, and on the verge of applying an intensional
> process of collaborative decision-making, promoting an increasing
> context of shared values into the future we create.  This framework,
> representing (1) awareness of our fine-grained values and (2)
> awareness of methods of effective interaction, will effectively
> amplify "wisdom" based on evolving human values beyond the moral
> capacity of any human individual of today.

Are the fine-grained values the same as those determined by biology and

By "increasing context of shared values" do you mean something like a lowest
common denominator, or an averaging out of values?

What if there is just an irreducible conflict in values, such as between
those who think women should "dress modestly" and those who think women
should dress however they please (this issue is often assumed to be based on
religious or anti-egalitarian considerations, but consider the prudishness
of the Russian and Chinese communists)?

(These are basic questions, I realise, so feel free to refer me to the list
archive if you have already answered them).

In contrast to your assumption of hedonistic pleasure as the ultimate
> "good", I see Growth, in terms of our shared values that work, as a
> more fundamental good, and would point out that such Growth provides
> the robust infrastructure for ongoing pleasure.

With regard to Utilitarian views of morality and ethics, I would point
> out the unavoidability of unintended and unanticipated consequences
> and suggest that it in the bigger picture we can promote our values
> more effectively by implementing principles of best known methods
> rather than by directly seeking to maximize utility as currently
> conceived.

It would be a very concrete and short-sighted utilitarian who regards
immediate sensual pleasure as the only criterion for ethical behaviour.
Pleasure can be deferred, and it can take the form of eg. joy in altruistic
service. You just need to expand the scope of the utility to include the
bigger picture.

Stathis Papaioannou
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