Adam_M

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The Moral Void

What I'm wondering, in other words is this: Is our reluctance to carry out an act that we may have judged to be morally justifiable a symptom that the decision-making software we think we're running is not the software we're actually running?

The Moral Void

Doesn't the use of the word 'how' in the question "If "yes", how inherently right would it have to be, for how many babies?" presuppose that the person answering the question believes that the 'inherent rightness' of an act is measurable on some kind of graduated scale? If that's the case, wouldn't assigning a particular 'inherent rightness' to an act be, by definition, the result of a several calculations?

What I mean is, if you've 'finished' calculating, and have determined that killing the babies is a morally justifiable (and/or necessary) act, and there is a residual unwillingness in your psyche to actually perform the act, isn't that just a sign that you haven't finished your calculations yet, and that what you thought of as your moral decision-making framework is in fact incomplete?

Then we'd be talking about the interaction of two competing moral frameworks...but from a larger perspective, the framework you used to calculate the original 'inherent rightness' of the act is a complicated process that could arguably be broken down conceptually into competing sub-frameworks.

So maybe what we're actually dealing with, as we ponder this conundrum, is the issue of 'how do we detect when we've finished running our moral decision-making software?'

In the aftermath of Robin's post it seems clear that its main problem is that he was theorizing about potential causes of the dearth of female interest in this blog from a constrained perspective, which resulted in a set of candidate theories that some readers found to be far too short.

Given how often each of us forgets how constrained our perspective on some topics can seem to others, I find it interesting how much discussion his post has generated. One might expect the discussion to include, perhaps, a brief outline of some of the feminist perspectives that he neglected, followed by the contribution of some other candidate theories extrapolated therefrom, followed by a discussion of the revised set of candidate theories.

Instead, the discussion seems to be stumbling slowly and awkwardly in that direction, weighted down by unnecessary shock and outrage that, as others have mentioned, calls to mind Eliezer's post "Politics is the Mind Killer".

This shock and outrage seems to stem from the expectation that Robin ought to have done more homework before posting his thoughts. Keeping in mind the length of his post, and that it was speculative in nature, how much homework should he have done? An hour? 100 hours?

May I suggest that one of the greatest advantages of blogs over more regimented mediums of thought-exchange, is that a person can share their ideas on a subject without investing the kind of time they otherwise might if they were publishing in a journal, and quickly receive valuable feedback, such as Angel's.

Under ideal circumstances, that feedback is analyzed as dispassionately and as objectively as possible, while our egos gather dust on the shelf. However, we should keep in mind that we all reach instinctively for that shelf when we feel threatened, and calibrate the tone of our comments accordingly. The resulting discussion, I believe, will be more fruitful for all.