RE: computer pain

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 00:06:04 +1100

John Mikes writes:

> Stathis,
> your 'augmentded' ethical maxim is excellent, I could add some more 'except foe'-s to it.
> (lower class, cast, or wealth, - language, - gender, etc.)
> The last par, however, is prone to a more serious remark of mine:
> topics like you sampled are culture related prejudicial beief-items. Research cannot
> solve them, because research is also ADJUSTED TO THE CULTURE it serves.
> A valid medeval research on the number of angels on a pin-tip would not hold in
> today's belief-topic of curved space. (Curved angels?)
> Merrrry Christmas to you, too
> John

I think the culture-independence test is actually a good test for whether something truly is
part of "science". How to build a nuclear bomb is culture-independent - it won't work if you
decide to use U-328 just because there is more of it available where you live, for example.
But whether and how to use the finished weapon is not a question that science can answer,
although of course it is a question that scientists should ask and apply their own culture-
-dependent values to.

And a merry Christmas to you too, John

Stathis Papaionnou

> On 12/21/06, Stathis Papaioannou <<>> wrote:
> Peter Jones writes:
> > > Perhaps none of the participants in this thread really disagree. Let me see if I
> > > can summarise:
> > >
> > > Individuals and societies have arrived at ethical beliefs for a reason, whether that be
> > > evolution, what their parents taught them, or what it says in a book believed to be divinely
> > > inspired. Perhaps all of these reasons can be subsumed under "evolution" if that term can
> > > be extended beyond genetics to include all the ideas, beliefs, customs etc. that help a
> > > society to survive and propagate itself. Now, we can take this and formalise it in some way
> > > so that we can discuss ethical questions rationally:
> > >
> > > Murder is bad because it reduces the net happiness in society - Utilitarianism
> > >
> > > Murder is bed because it breaks the sixth commandment - Judaism and Christianity
> > > (interesting that this only no. 6 on a list of 10: God knows his priorities)
> > >
> > > Ethics then becomes objective, given the rules. The meta-ethical explanation of evolution,
> > > broadly understood, as generating the various ethical systems is also objective. However,
> > > it is possible for someone at the bottom of the heap to go over the head of utilitarianism,
> > > evolution, even God and say:
> > >
> > > "Why should murder be bad? I don't care about the greatest good for the greatest number,
> > > I don't care if the species dies out, and I think God is a bastard and will shout it from hell if
> > > sends me there for killing people for fun and profit. This is my own personal ethical belief,
> > > and you can't tell me I'm wrong!
> > >
> > > And the psychopath is right: no-one can actually fault him on a point of fact or a point of
> > > logic.
> >
> > The psychopath is wrong. He doesn't want to be murdered, but
> > he wants to murder. His "ethical rule" is therefore inconsistent and
> > not
> > really ethical at all.
> Who says his ethical rule is inconsistent? If he made the claim "do unto others as you would have
> others do unto you" he would be inconsistent, but he makes no such claim. Billions of people have
> lived and died in societies where it is perfectly ethical and acceptable to kill inferior races or inferior
> species. If they accept some version of the edict you have just elevated to a self-evident truth it
> would be "do unto others as you would have them do unto you, unless they are foreigners, or taste
> good to eat, or worship different gods". Perfectly consistent, even if horrible.
> > > In the *final* analysis, ethical beliefs are not a matter of fact or logic, and if it seems
> > > that they are then there is a hidden assumption somewhere.
> >
> > Everything starts with assumptions. The questions is whether they
> > are correct. A lunatic could try defining 2+2=5 as valid, but
> > he will soon run into inconsistencies. That is why we reject
> > 2+2=5. Ethical rules must apply to everybody as a matter of
> > definition. Definitions supply correct assumptions.
> So you think arguments about such matters as abortion, capital punishment and what sort of
> social welfare system we should have are just like arguments about mathematics or geology,
> and with enough research there should be universal agreement?
> Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Sat Dec 23 2006 - 08:06:23 PST

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