Moral Uncertainty

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Moral Uncertainty

Postby Todrael » Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:09 pm

It seems people are overconfident about their moral beliefs. But how should one reason and act if one acknowledges that one is uncertain about morality – not just applied ethics but fundamental moral issues? if you don't know which moral theory is correct?

Philosopher Nick Bostrom discusses moral uncertainty and proposes a parliamentary system to solve the problem.

As discussed in the book Secular Wholeness, a fully functioning and easy to read ethical system is one of the major benefits of religion. The author deals with how to make your own system of ethics, but I found it lacking in the sense that it does not provide terminal values other than the standard, arbitrary, "pick what you want."

Aside from the ability to predict the future (chains of causality - consequences for one's actions), it's been my thinking that the greatest problem of modern day ethics is a lack of discussion around terminal values and how to assign them. Bostrom proposes weighting these values based on their internal feelings and percent of rightness. This seems like a hack that won't work in practice, certainly not for anything that can be applied by normal people. I'm not going to simulate a parliament of ethical values to decide on the rightness of eating ice cream.

But these types of problems are fundamental to determining humanity's future progress, if progress is even a term that makes sense. I don't know what the solution is, but I know that Bostrom is wrong. Hopefully he can come up with something better, after working through the details and realizing "parliament" is a terrible model.
Lorendel Ebonmist
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Re: Moral Uncertainty

Postby Lorendel Ebonmist » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:27 pm

I agree with you there.

Morality isnt something you can layout in plan for everyone to follow.
It's something that comes from within one's own consciousness and awareness.
The human race's mindset and worldview is not, never was, nor ever will be a stamped out pattern of "rightness".

Good people are Good Bad people are Bad, this is less a question of "progress" than it is evolution.
Good begots Good Bad begets Bad.

Many people are so concerned about looking "right" in the eyes of their peers, of what is acceptable to society, and the people who determine what that is, whoever THEY are; that they miss the single most important guidance tool in leading the life they WANT to lead, and that is simply follow your heart.
teflor the ranger
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Location: Waterdeep

Re: Moral Uncertainty

Postby teflor the ranger » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:13 pm

One important thing to remember about systems of morals granted within a religion is that they change over time. I tend to think of religions as democratic system by which a loosely associated identity group defines their morals.

I also think that it's a pitfall of philosophers and ethicists to focus so much on determining systems, beliefs, and decisions from a purely individualistic perspective - it makes me think that they're all mildly autistic - why not include the opinions and beliefs of others when making your own determination of what's right and wrong?

You're given two eyes in order to get a deeper wealth of information from your vision. Why not use two brains to make decisions?

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