[ExI] Universal timeless principles

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Mon Oct 5 16:09:46 UTC 2015

On Sun, Oct 4, 2015 at 7:13 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 3 October 2015 at 11:03, Anders Sandberg  wrote:
> > On 2015-10-02 17:12, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> >> Anders says above that we have discovered universal timeless principles.
> >> I'd like to know what they are and who proposed them, because that's
> >> chutzpah of the highest order.  Oh boy - let's discuss that one.
> >
> >
> > Here is one: a thing is identical to itself. (1)
> > Here is another one: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity
> > and rights." (2)
> > Here is a third one: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can,
> at
> > the same time, will that it should become a universal law." (3)
> >
> <big snip>
> >
> > [ Do I believe in timeless principles? Kind of. There are statements in
> > physics that are invariant of translations, rotations, Lorenz boosts and
> > other transformations, and of course math remains math. Whether physics
> and
> > math are "out there" or just in minds is hard to tell (I lean towards
> that
> > at least physics is out there in some form), but clearly any minds that
> know
> > some subset of correct, invariant physics and math can derive other
> correct
> > conclusions from it. And other minds with the same information can make
> the
> > same derivations and reach the same conclusions - no matter when or
> where.
> > So there are knowable principles in these domains every sufficiently
> > informed and smart mind would know. Things get iffy with values, since
> they
> > might be far more linked to the entities experiencing them, but clearly
> we
> > can do analyse game theory and make statements like "If agent A is
> trying to
> > optimize X, agent B optimizes Y, and X and Y do not interact, then they
> can
> > get more of X and Y by cooperating". So I think we can get pretty close
> to
> > universal principles in this framework, even if it turns out that they
> > merely reside inside minds knowing about the outside world. ]
> >
> Physics and Science change over time. Until we know everything change
> will continue.
> Before the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, science thought
> it had found universal principles.
> Re philosophical principles, if even philosophers can't agree among
> themselves can they really be called universal timeless principles?
> Certainly all the followers of various holy books and ethical systems
> will not agree with the suggested universal principles. The search for
> universal principles may not be successful but it is useful in
> providing some sort of guidance in human affairs.
> Though humans being what they are, they can always find reasons to
> make exceptions to applying their favourite universal principle. As
> the saying goes, 'Every man has his price'. (Not always money, of
> course).
> BillK

​I probably should not even attempt to discuss number 1.  How can a thing
be compared to itself unless it is two things?  Never mind.

Re "out there" - Would the universe exist if there were no people to
observe it?  This has to be the silliest question because it cannot be

I am going to try for one:  Assume that the human race is worth keeping.
(Yeah, I know, some days.......).  Then it follows that whatever is good
for it is good (unless you figure that that means unlimited population
growth).  Just unpack 'good' and you have what is moral.  Haha.  Maybe sort
of circular?  Consequentialist anyway.  ("Do you think we should just
attempt to change their minds by bombing them back to the Stone Age?"  "I
dunno.  Let's try it.  Could work out."

Philosophers could not even agree on the value of philosophy, I think.  And
just why do they know any more about anything than the rest of us do?  I
know - they have a diploma, like the Straw Man in the Wizard of Oz.

Authoritarians are afraid of letting people make their own decisions, and
libertarians are afraid of letting others make their decisions for them.
When will this ever end?  Ha.  Put some sort of social contract in place
and let people tinker with it forever - that is just exactly what we have
done and I can't think of a better way. Our system in the USA at least
gives the appearance of letting hoi polloi have a say in their laws.  As
Churchill said......

A final solution:  program our genes with powerful instincts so that we
simply cannot do anything antihuman.  Take away free will, if you will.  If
you never had it, you'll never miss it.

bill w    ​

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