Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Bedlamite's Own Ethics I: Humanism

No evolution post this week because I have no idea what to write, and probably no game theory post because I realized I need to do more research into mixed strategy. Instead, you get some pure philosophy!
The following material is flagged Yellow Level. It contains material that is disputed by some experts but accepted by others. Caution is advised when deciding whether you personally choose to believe it.
One of the problems that many people face is how to decide right and wrong in difficult situations. Many people want to do what is right, but how does one go about finding out what is right? For that matter, how can "right" be defined?

A number of people might claim that "right" stems from the dictates of some divine form. But, even if the divine source of those dictates could be proven, how does one determine that the deity's will is "right"? One could easily imagine a Gnostic-type Demiurge, an evil deity that gives evil commands. A standard cop-out is to claim that the deity, for one reason or another, must be good, but this returns to the original question: if the deity is good because that is its nature, there must be some definition of "good" beyond the deity; while if the deity is good because it defines good, then "good" is meaningless; a Demiurge could define "good" in an utterly evil way.

One solution is to say that "right" and "wrong" are purely human inventions. The universe does not possess such traits, except as far as humans (and possibly other sapiences) place them upon it. This does not, of course, mean that such terms are pointless; a toaster or a computer is a human invention, but is still useful. Similarly, "right" and "wrong" are useful terms for both individuals and society, and when clearly defined even more so.

Of course, a human invention must serve human goals. And morality more so: a morality invented by humans that opposes human interests has failed. So, whatever morality is, it must support the goals of humans or sapiences in general, and concordance with nature or the whims of a deity must be incedental.

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