Re: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2006 15:59:57 +0100

Le 16-déc.-06, à 03:49, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
> Bruno Marchal writes:
>> Le 15-déc.-06, à 02:04, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
>>> Who says the Nazis are wrong when they assert they are good?
>> I was not saying that they were wrong. I was saying that they were
>> bad.
>> Who says this? All self-referentially correct machine sufficnetly
>> rich
>> to prove elementary theorems in arithmetic.
>> For showing this it is just enough to accept that the notion of
>> "goodness" is of a type having greater or equal complexity that the
>> notion of consistency or truth (which is intuitively reasonable).
>> To sum up: a lobian machine saying "I am true" is false. (note that
>> saying "I am provable" makes it true by ... Lob's theorem itself!).
>> A lobian machine asserting "I am consistent" is inconsistent (Godel)
>> A lobian machine asserting "I am intelligent" is stupid,
>> A lobian machine asserting "I am stupid" is ... stupid too (beginners
>> are often wrong on this).
>> A lobian machine asserting "I am good" is bad,
>> A lobian machine asserting "I am bad" is bad (too!)
>> A lobian machine asserting "I am virtuous" provably lacks virtue.
>> (provably, not probably)
>> Apparently self-referentially correct lobian machine are enough wise
>> for never attributing to themselves any "moral" quality. They cannot
>> judge their own defect in the matter.
> This doesn't help us decide what is good or bad though.
Indeed. Take it as a good or a bad news (!). With comp there is no
theory capable of deciding what is good and what is bad. Never. It is
the reason why I say that the comp theory of bad/true is not normative.
Like in math we can still apply the theory once we agree on minimal
notion of good and bad, through atomic example on the kind: drinking
water when thirsty is good, Eating sands when thirsty is bad, etc.
> "Good" and "bad"
> are just placeholders, like x and y.
In third person communication.
I *guess* everyone knows the 1-difference (between things like drinking
water and eating sands for example).
"Good" is when you say or feel something like "whaooh", and bad is when
you say something like "Ouch!".
>>> We could look at a particular incident where capital punishment was
>>> proposed, let's say
>>> for murder. Everyone might agree on the facts of the crime and the
>>> effects of executing
>>> the perpetrator, but still strongly disagree about whether it is
>>> right
>>> or wrong. So of course
>>> the capital punishment debate does involve rational discussion and
>>> maybe some people will
>>> switch sides if appropriate evidence is presented, but in the end you
>>> will have a situation
>>> where there is just disagreement on an axiom.
>> Again this shows that good/bad is not different from true/false, even
>> just in arithmetic.
> Why is the consensus on arithmetic so much greater than the consensus
> on ethics
> and aesthetics?
Because ethics and aesthetics modalities are of an higher order than
arithmetic which can be considered as deeper and/or simpler.
Classical arithmetical truth obeys classical logic which is the most
efficient for describing platonia. Good and bad is related with the
infinite self mirroring of an infinity of universal machines: it is
infinitely more tricky, and in particular neither classical ethics nor
aesthetics should be expected to follow classical logic.
>> Recall the admittedly counterintuitive truth (admitting the
>> consistency
>> of Peano Arithmetic): the new theory obtained by adding to Peano
>> arithmetic the statement that Peano arithmetic is inconsistent, is a
>> consistent theory (albeit probably not "reasonable", but what does
>> that
>> mean?).
>> The elementary atoms of good and bad are related to what we have
>> "learned" since life begun, like drinking water is good, self-burning
>> is bad, or any elementary pleasure/pain qualia in company of some
>> amount of self-referential correctness.
> You can describe what is pleasant, what is more likely to lead to you
> continuing
> to live, what is more likely to lead to the survival of the species,
> what is more likely
> to lead to happy lives for most people: I have no problem with that.
> You can also
> define "good" as that which is more likely to bring these things
> about: that's how
> I define it personally.
NIce. This would mean we agree after all.
> However, although there may be no disagreement on whether
> depriving a proportion of the population of food will make them
> unhappy, even on
> whether it will bring about the destruction of the species, someone
> who thinks differently
> to me could still say that the starvation policy is "good".
Not if that someone is wise. Someone wise will explain the advantages,
compares them to what you ask (so that he will listen too you). He/She
will never use the word "good". If he believes his idea is good, he
will explain it. Only demagogs say "my idea are goods", or "I am with
the truth". Why not "God phones me and asks me to tell you that ...".
> For example, he could say that
> starvation is "noble" in a way which outweighs harm to the individual
> or the species,
> and that anyone who opposes the policy is actually doing terrible harm
> whilst honestly
> believing he is doing good.
At least he tries to explain something. I am not convinced. (So I hope
he is "just" a politics and not a tyrant).
> You would call the starvation advocate crazy, irrational,
> barbaric, and he would call you crazy, irrational and barbaric.
It could be. (Most probably: it would be). But those are first person
feelings, and if he tries to impose his idea I will try to say "OUCH"
and leave.
> However, neither of you
> is wrong about the facts and neither of you is making any errors in
> logic. And both
> "crazy" and "barbaric" necessarily have an element of cultural
> appropriateness in their
> definition.
I have no problem with that.
>>>> But of course democracy does not
>>>> *necessarily* lead to the good.
>>> Just in that last sentence is the assumption that there is some other
>>> basis for
>>> the good than what the majority decides to say it is.
>> Yes, precisely. But because good/bad cannot be normative or even
>> defined, democracy works well in giving to the majority a way to
>> revise
>> opinions after four years. "majority" by itself has nothing per se
>> related to "good".
> From Wikipedia:
> "In philosophy, normative is usually contrasted with positive,
> descriptive or explanatory when describing types of theories, beliefs,
> or statements. Descriptive (or constative) statements are falsifiable
> statements that attempt to describe reality. Normative statements, on
> the other hand, affirm how things should or ought to be, how to value
> them, which things are good or bad, which actions are right or wrong.
I don' t see why you recall that definition of "normative". I mean that
I was using it in that sense. Church thesis provides a vaccine against
any normative theory of good, and even of "absolutely true". But it
preserves the full sense of those words, albeit non normatively. I
would say this is why mechanism guarantees a solid notion of internal
free will (based on self-ignorance reflection).
>> (BTW I do not favors any form of direct democracy, because by
>> controlling media you can make any majority decide what you want).
>> Majority is wrong in general, but through democracy the majority can
>> be
>> less and less wrong (a little bit like science).
> Monarchists and fascists don't think so. Are they mistaken in their
> reasoning or
> their facts?
This is even more difficult given that it depends on historical
contingent facts. A theory of ethics could say that with such and such
hypothesis then a wise monarch could be 2/3 times better for the
average subjects than a rotten democracy of such or such type would be.
I think also about the work of Condorcet showing, with clear definition
of individual satisfaction, that it is impossible to satisfy everybody
by any electoral procedure. About fundamental things, ethics, like
Proclus theology, works negatively. The good is not this, nor that,
still less this or that ...
>>> For example, if 51% of the
>>> population decided to kill the other 49% and take all their
>>> possessions, presumably
>>> you would not think that was good.
>> That is a sort of civil war.
>>> This means that your idea of what is good is
>>> somehow better than the decisision of the majority, and you only
>>> favour democracy
>>> because you think it is more likely to come up with laws in
>>> accordance
>>> with your
>>> ethical principles than most other forms of government. Isn't that a
>>> little arrogant?
>> Not at all. Democracy has just a better chance to *converge* on
>> solutions acceptable by a majority, notably by making it possible to
>> take into account opinion of minorities, but also to take account
>> people's changes of mind. Democracy per se is not ethical, it is
>> meta-ethical. I am not saying that this or that is good or bad, just
>> that such things are hard to decide and that the advantage of
>> democracy
>> is that, whatever is good or bad, working democratic systems can give
>> a
>> way for changing your mind (after 4 years, say) on difficult social or
>> ethical questions.
>> In a tyranny someone thinks at your place, and if you don't belong to
>> the right club, you have not even any hope for a change. When you
>> feel
>> something is bad for you, it is arguable that the mere possibility of
>> change is a good.
> Tyrants may aknowledge all this and still say that their way is "good".
Only tyrant say that their way is "good".
The origin of the "bad" is when a lobian machine decided to use the
word "good" (in practice, not when theorizing interrogatively about
>> You say (to Brent):
>>> But is head-eating a good thing? A group of male mantids might get
>>> together to form
>>> an anti-head-eating movement, arguing that it is barbaric and no
>>> longer necessary even
>>> though it has always been the way and is probably genetically
>>> programmed. The pro-
>>> -head-eating majority would probably vehemently disagree. Everyone
>>> agrees on the facts,
>>> everyone is able to reason, but there are still two conflincting
>>> views
>>> on what is "good".
>> Like they are still many conflicting views on what is "true", "real"
>> etc.
>> This does not mean we cannot progress on such notions. We can can have
>> less and less conflicting view of what is true. I can expect the same
>> for "good".
>> Both with "true" and "good" I don't expect we can converge on a final
>> complete theory capable of deciding all assertions, quite the
>> contrary:
>> theories like bodies are vehicle of thought. Democratic system are
>> more
>> efficient to explore the political landscape and thus more efficient
>> in
>> probability to satisfy "soul's natural attraction" toward the "good".
> The soul's natural attraction towards the good might be compared to
> the body's
> natural attraction to keep dry.
> You might predict that every society would use
> umbrellas of some sort.
> If a society did not use umbrellas, that would be surprising.
> If they did not use them because they did not believe that rain is wet
> or because
> they believed that God in his mercy would make the raindrops miss
> them, then they
> would be *wrong*.
> If they did not use them because they didn't want to despite the
> discomfort that getting wet causes them then they would be strange and
> foolish, but
> they would not be *wrong*.
> There is a fundamental difference.
? OK. (I don't see the point).
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Received on Sat Dec 16 2006 - 10:01:05 PST

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