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Old 04-24-2007, 02:26 AM   #17
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I see think I understand the direction you investigating in trying to determine how a person will choose to act given his predisposition and various social factors. That goal is a bit different than what I seeking with this thread which was to determine an objective definition for morality independent of the individual and his society.

@Spider AL:
1. Does your equation tell us anything about morality that hasn't already been elucidated in longhand by the major moral philosophers of history?
Oh probably not... but the syntax is concise and with the goal of eliminating all ambiguity in the terms. When you say m(x) and I say m(x) I know we're talking about the exactly the same thing for example.
More importantly, COULD it tell us anything new about morality in the future?
Well I'll admit the goal of mine was less lofty than that. Rather than discover something new about morality, I wanted to gather the known factors of morality and relate them in a form of shorthand. I figured having a formula such as that would be an easy reference guide. At least on paper, if not in practice.

I understand what you mean by loss. I tried to cheat it into the D(x) factor assuming death as being the maximum distress for an individual:
Originally Posted by tk102
...especially since organ donation would likely result in his death (assumed to be the maximum distress for an organism)...
I believe that was the only negative impact you cited that didn't fall under D(x). "Violations of established rights" I believe would qualify as psychological distress. I'm open to suggestions though of how better to define m(x) in terms of physical distress, psychological distress, death. Maybe each of those get their own variable instead of being lumped under D(x).

I'm glad you took issue with Ky. It bothered me too. Seemed quite anthrocentric, but at the same time I am surprised you wouldn't kill a mosquito. If I saw one biting my son, I wouldn't hesitate even without the risk of disease.

But getting back, you are suggesting that in order to be remain objective, we simplify the equation:

D(x) := ∑ δxyKy : (y ∈ P)


D(x) := ∑ δxy : (y ∈ P)

That is quite a conservative view, considering the suffering of a mosquito is equivalent is on par to the suffering of a human. It's not unheard of though -- Jainism follows this belief precisely. Plus it is does eliminate the rather troublesome Ky value.

But why does Ky trouble us? As you suggested with your alien scenario, what appears to an advanced alien as moral may appear to us as cruel and immoral. If we assume the universe has a fixed number of species within it, it is possible there does exist a scale of complexity that could be objectively defined. By inference then, the seemingly subjective Ky would in fact be an objective value. So in that case, perhaps it is true that Khuman << Kalien. Oh yeah, that's why it troubles us.

TK, I wonder why you'd want my input?
Because of the lightbulb.

I still haven't figured out how to represent a categorical imperative into this set of equations. Anyone have any suggestions?
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