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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2013 > Jan > Jan 21

Re: Artificial Intelligence

From: John Donaldson <john.donaldson.nul>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:26:11 +0000
Archived: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 11:28:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence

>From: Ray Dickenson <r.dickenson.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 17:48:59 -0000
>Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence

>>From: John Donaldson <John.Donaldson.nul>
>>To: "post.nul" <post.nul>
>>Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2013 16:09:27 +0000
>>Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence

>>>From: Ray Dickenson <r.dickenson.nul>
>>>To: <post.nul>
>>>Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2013 15:17:59 -0000
>>>Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence

>>>>From: John Donaldson <John.Donaldson.nul>
>>>>To: <post.nul>
>>>>Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2013 22:26:32 +0000
>>>>Subject: Re: Artificial Intelligence


>>>Nope, as you can see my position is that 'morality' +/or
>>>'ethics' are evolutionary outcomes which have developed
>>>(because they work) to increase a species chances of
>>>survival. It's as simple as that.


>>As our thread has already covered, the only argument you offered
>>previously was that it is possible to explain the appearance of
>>moral behaviour in the human species by appeal to evolutionary
>>forces. I responded by pointing out that explaining the
>appearance of moral behaviour in humans by appeal to evolutionary
>forces does not in any count against the claim that there are
>moral facts.


>Hello John,

>I can see where some get that idea: that 'moral facts' might
>exist, maybe in the same way that some mathematicions believe
>that all mathematical truths exist in a Platonic world on a
>different plane to our earthly one. That's precisely why I can't
>consider the concept: it's untestable, like all similar
>'theological' or abstract theories.

Metaphysical claims might not be testable in the manner of
experimental, empirical science, but that doesn't make them
obviously un-assessable. The claims of mathematics are not
testable in the manner of experimental, empirical science, yet
the claims of mathematics *are* obviously assessable. The
history of philosophy is full of debates about the viability of
metaphysical claims, with major figures on both sides. David
Hume, who is widely regarded as the greatest philosopher ever to
have written in English, really didn't like metaphysics:

"When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what
havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume of
divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, Does
it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?
No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter
of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it
can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."

Whether or not you agree with Hume, there is a debate to be had.
Fair enough. In contemporary philosophy, though, metaphysics is
popular again for two main reasons:

(1) the arguments marshalled against it by empiricists like Hume
and more recently the logical positivists (Neurath, Carnap,
Bergmann and co.), and others, are believed to have failed. The
debate is complex, some details here:

Thomas Uebel, "Vienna Circle", in Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition:


Stephen P. Schwartz, A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy: from
Russell to Rawls, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

A scholarly review of the latter can be found here:


(2) Metaphysics simply seems indispensable. It seems true that the
following things exist: objects, properties, time, space, matter,
causation. These are prime examples of metaphysical entities. There are
different understandings we can put forward as to the nature of each of
these things, to consider and compare those understandings is to engage
in metaphysics. It's that simple. We can, of course, ask questions like
"how do we gain knowledge of the ultimate nature of these entities?" and
"to what extent does metaphysics overlap with theoretical physics?" and
so on. But, crucially, to ask those questions is to ask questions that
are *metaphysical* par excellence. "Stepping outside" of metaphysical
discourse such that one can dispense with it seems to be impossible.

For more on (1) and (2), see:


But anyway, you're assuming that moral realism can be true only
if there is a realm of facts which exists in some kind of
Platonic heaven. That is false. There are all sorts of ways to
be a moral realist. You can think, for example, that moral facts
reduce to some natural facts: facts about social contracts, or
pain and pleasure, or informed rational preferences, and so on,
and so on. Now, of course, there is a great deal of debate about
such naturalistic options but options they are. For more on this
point see:


>However I can test - or at least ensure compatability with
>researched biological, archeological and historical facts -
>actual concrete evolutionary outcomes. The researched facts and
>their high correlation with what we know know of human 'morals' -
>and outcomes spread over recorded history - are listed under
>various headings in the 'Altruist Survivor' pages.

>So, purely pragmatically we can say there's a very high
>probability that 'morals' are an evolutionary asset, and that
>each species has (slightly) different basic morals, to aid
>survival of that species.

>However, AR Wallace pointed out "The separate species of which
>the organic world consists being parts of a whole, we must
>suppose some dependence of each upon all".

>Which implies the existence of hard evolutionary (survival)
>reasons for the additional, more complex 'morality' of
>responsibility for all species on the planet. And that does seem
>to be grasped by some forward-thinking folk these days.

Again, without addressing the specific arguments of moral
realists, to point to evolutionary explanations for the fixation
of moral behavioural traits in the human population simply
doesn't address the point at issue.

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