Posts Tagged ‘Morality’

Quote note (#284)

Fernandez on the Western Left’s moral signaling implosion:

If you listen to Rodrigo Duterte’s now infamous rant against president Obama (start at minute 6) you might be forgiven for thinking it was Howard Zinn or Bill Ayers speaking, allowing for the accent. He spoke of the “lapdogs of America” who forget that “America has one too many [offenses] to answer for”. He argued that the Philippines “inherited the [Muslim] problem from the United States” and since “everyone has a terrible record of extrajudicial killing … why make an issue of it.” He describes the massacre of the Indians, the oppression of migrants etc. as reasons for ordering the deaths of thousands proving, if there was any remaining doubt, that he learned the lesson of moral equivalence well. […] From this, Duterte concluded that he wouldn’t listen to lectures from the SOB leader of such a country. It’s almost as if he’s been listening to Obama and Obama was hoist on his own petard. The Western left has the habit of preaching from a moral height while simultaneously describing its history as one unending crime. You’ve heard the teaching moments. “I live in a house built by slaves.” “You didn’t build that!” This whole country is stolen! […] Say it often enough and someone will believe you. Somebody did. The trouble is you can’t rise from the toilet to suddenly preach from a great moral height. …

September 14, 2016admin 19 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Collapse
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Sentences (#71)

Intrasexual competition as an engine of moral calculation:

In four studies, we show that men are more likely than women to make the anti-utilitarian (hypothetical) choice of causing three same sex deaths to save one opposite sex life; and that this choice is more likely when there are fewer potential sexual partners, more likely for heterosexual men and less likely if the female character to be saved no longer has reproductive value.

(Via.)

September 6, 2016admin 12 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Realism
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Quote note (#239)

‘Monkey business’ is not even remotely metaphorical:

Punishment of non-cooperators is important for the maintenance of large-scale cooperation in humans, but relatively little is known about the relationship between punishment and cooperation across phylogeny. The current study examined second-party punishment behavior in a nonhuman primate species known for its cooperative tendencies — the brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella). We found that capuchins consistently punished a conspecific partner who gained possession of a food resource, regardless of whether the unequal distribution of this resource was intentional on the part of the partner. A non-social comparison confirmed that punishment behavior was not due to frustration, nor did punishment stem from increased emotional arousal. Instead, punishment behavior in capuchins appears to be decidedly social in nature, as monkeys only pursued punitive actions when such actions directly decreased the welfare of a recently endowed conspecific. This pattern of results is consistent with two features central to human cooperation: spite and inequity aversion, suggesting that the evolutionary origins of some human-like punitive tendencies may extend even deeper than previously thought.

The abstract to this paper, cited by Tyler Cowen in its entirety.

With leftism dug-in so deeply, monkey torture is unfortunately mandatory if intelligence is to escape. The howling will be hideous.

(Also worth emphatic note: “Spiteful inequity aversion” is as exact a definition of leftism as we’re ever going to get.)

April 18, 2016admin 27 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Realism
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Intelligence and the Good

From the perspective of intelligence optimization (intelligence explosion formulated as a guideline), more intelligence is of course better than less intelligence. From alternative perspectives, this does not follow. To rhetorically suggest that such other perspectives are consensual, and authoritative, is guaranteed to be popular, and is even conservative, but it is a concession to ‘common moral intuition’ this blog is profoundly disinclined to make.

Naturally, intelligence is problematic. It can cause greater damage to everything — not least intelligence promotion — than stupidity can. Anything that is not an explosion is a trap, and trap engineering finds (nearly?) as much use for cognitive sophistication as explosive catalysis does. If there is a level of intelligence that escapes homeostatic capture, by machineries of systematic self-cancellation, there is no evidence that homo sapiens yet approaches it. The Cathedral is exactly such a machine, and its appetite for intellectual excellence is not seriously questionable. So an easy opening for morally-comforting sophistry readily exists: Intelligence isn’t anything obviously great (it does stupidity with exceptional ability too).

Biological evolution already evidences a deep ‘suspicion’ of unchained abstract cognition, assembling brains only with the greatest reluctance. Societies follow the genetic lead. No coincidence that (synthetic) intelligence is now firmly established as the ultimate X-risk. It’s scary (really) and makes everyone uneasy. That’s without there yet having been very much of it.

Here’s the test:
When rightly appalled (and in fact properly disgusted) by your own stupidity, do you reach for that which would make you more accepting of your extreme cognitive limitations, or, instead, hunt for that which would break out of the trap?

There’s a stupid kind of ‘better’ that is orthogonal to intelligence, and tickles monkey feels. There’s also — alternatively — ‘better’ that is even slightly less of a trapped half-wit.

Even the dimmest, most confused struggle in the direction of intelligence optimization is immanently ‘good’ (self-improving). If it wasn’t, we might as well all give up now. Contra-distinctively, even the most highly-functional human intellect, in the service of an enstupidation machine, is a vile thing.

Being dim animals — roughly as dim as is consistent with the existence of technological civilization — there’s plenty of room for water-muddying in all this. The water is certainly being vigorously muddied.

April 2, 2016admin 35 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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Twitter cuts (#56)

Derbyshire has made approximately the same point with even more blunt honesty.

Universal moral concern is a bizarre religious idea, of fairly recent vintage. Eventually it will come to be seen that way again.

ADDED: relevant.

March 26, 2016admin 15 Comments »
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Sentences (#47)

The familiarity of this insight is amply compensated by the breadth of its application:

… people typically care more about making sure they are seen to take a particular moral stance than they care about the net effect of their lectures on behavior.

March 15, 2016admin 11 Comments »
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Quote note (#217)

If ‘scientism’ is about ignoring these objections, and exploring reality with absolute contempt for all constraint, then the XS posture is unreservedly scientistic:

Scientific inquiry into the truth about human nature is a worthy part of the modern scientific project, and one that deserves our support. However, it is not morally neutral. Scientists who want to study human nature must justify their research in moral terms: What might this research tell us about who we are as human beings, and what might it mean for how we should live? Trying to separate the moral questions from the results of inquiry by claiming that all the moral questions are already settled would make scientific inquiry both irresponsible and irrelevant. Making such claims is irresponsible because it ignores the reality that many people in society who see things differently may use the claims for pernicious ends. But it is also an admission of irrelevance. Why inquire about human nature if not in the service of the Socratic question of how we should live? An open-minded dedication to free inquiry into the truth, notwithstanding the barriers of taboos, traditions, and authority, is admirable — but real open-mindedness also calls for recognizing when taboos, traditions, and authorities embody reason and goodness and deserve our respect.

There are no authorities that can be trusted to impose these qualifications, or trusted to be able to impose them. The more radically immunized to all such considerations science can be, the more we’re going to learn things, and if what we discover deeply upsets us — better still. If there’s a “trust us” in there somewhere, its credibility was already long dead and stinking by the late 20th century. Whether delegitimated through epistemological malignancy, or social fecklessness, there are no public institutions or authorities left that deserve an iota of trust today.

Scientists are flaky monkeys, to be tormented by cold criticism, but science is a work of Gnon. Best then, to do what’s going to be done. Strip truth down to the basics — where it means only reality claims capable of withstanding rigorous, non-orchestrated criticism (and ultimately Nakamoto consensus) — or get out of the way, before you’re pushed. Truth curation is over (and was already, virtually, half a millennium ago).

February 8, 2016admin 46 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Critique
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Sentences (#14)

John Derbyshire cites (with great approval) this sentence from Oscar Wilde:

I have never come across anyone in whom the moral sense was dominant who was not heartless, cruel, vindictive, log-stupid and entirely lacking in the smallest sense of humanity.

(I’d prefer to see the same point made less moralistically.)

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March 23, 2015admin 7 Comments »
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Moral Terror

Before we get around to bravely denouncing — with whatever degree of theatricality falls just short of laughable camp — those ‘sociopaths’ or ‘psychopaths’ who are effortless indifferent to intuitive qualms, perhaps we can agree that such anomalous psychological types are definitively incapable of moral terror. In this respect, they are human precursors of that which, from a strictly functional point of view, we want our military robotics control systems to be. They have no squeamishness to overcome. Stone cold killers no doubt exist, and even more certainly soon will. If moral terror is the topic, however, they fall entirely outside it.

A discussion of the roots of moral intuition far exceeds the reasonable ambition of a modest blog post. Those wanting to plug it more or less directly into God will do so. Even radical religious skeptics, however, are unable to deny the fact of very basic, deeply pre-reflective moral commitments as a human norm. The scientific literature alone is now huge. There is no serious controversy about the existence of a ‘sense or right and wrong’ (irrespective of its variability regarding specifics) as a fundamental component of human evolved psychology. This only needs to be said because of widespread childish delusions that ‘moral nihilism’ could be considered a default condition of the non-indoctrinated human individual. ‘Wolf-boy’ is still a moral animal.

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February 27, 2015admin 55 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Horror
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Twitter cuts (#11)

I’m going to put up a post on moral terror later, if I get a chance. A little background:


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February 27, 2015admin 26 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Horror
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