I know I know forgive me please
There is a difference, I'll be posting it Friday. I've got an exam tomorrow and it still needs some finishing touches. This project got a bit out of hand, the complete train of thought is about 4 pages long to explain properly, so a post is more appropriate than a comment. I'd like to hear your opinion on it, if you are willing :)
Dear lord no. I've almost finished the post, I'll be uploading it this weekend or something (with graphs :) ), but below is my one paragraph version of it. Please refrain for a whole two days from forming a definitive opinion, until I can present my case fully.
Morality is a real effect on the distribution of utility functions within a society. It has a singular direction that is a consequence of conflicting utility functions of all people in society. Imagine making a frequency distribution of utility functions (for the moment it doesn't really matter what is on the x-axis). Now the tails of this distribution will conflict (assuming for the simplest case where the average opinion is neutral). That is people will want to change the behaviour/utility functions of other people. Because people have a stronger tendency to loss aversion than to pleasure gain there will be a net effect towards compromise (also due to the nash equilibrium). This means that on average utility functions will converge towards a "social norm". So far I have not seen one society which does not have some set of social norms. This means that in every society there is a tendency to make people conform to a standard. This may not seem important at first but consider the alternative, a group of people who will go to unlimited lengths to get what they want because they only consider themselves to be important. Note that even North Korea, ISIS, Jonestown and the Nazis didn't go that far. Even in those societies (which are generally considered evil) the net effect of the social norm was still better than complete ultra-anarchy. This is not superpessimistic about human nature, it is however superoptimistic about human society. So in each society there is a tendency to force people to reduce loss (or to step out of economic terms: suffering). In some societies this tendency is admittedly very small, in some it is very large. Why I included moral relativism in my list is that, based on this knowledge, it is false to say all societies are equally moral. Clearly some societies have larger groups of conflicting utility functions than others. More peaceful societies are using this terminology, more moral. The only assumption that I personally make is that I deem more moral societies good and less moral societies bad. (If that sentence seems tautological, try reading the paragraph with all the words moral replace with smurf or something. Or wait till Friday, if you are still interested :) )
So note that I have not used should, ought, must, good and evil in this entire paragraph. It is merely a description of reality. So when I said "people will kill you", I did not mean, people will retaliate every time, I did not mean that a particular case of retaliation is morality. I mean that the average action of retaliation teaches people to avoid it. People experience this as "having a conscience", but that is just fancy words for being conditioned, ala Pavlov.
Short answer, people will kill you. The long answer is about 2.5 sheets by now. Maybe I'll post it :). Hopefully that won't go as disastrously, with people getting pissed off, as this one.
The point is we have to make certain assumptions to get anything done. Without them we can't have science, we can't have ethics. We'd be all alone with our own thoughts. This is the same problem Descartes struggled with as well. He had so effectively doubted everything that he concluded that he could only know one thing with 100% certainty, that is, that he existed. All other possibilities are merely probable and require certain assumptions. I therefore hold that it is inconsistent to be relativistic about morality but not about empiricism (and by extension most of rationality).
I apparently still do not entirely get the commenting system here. Apologies.
Neither do I :) But the possibility exists, we just assume it doesn't.
If you disbelieve in empiricism and jump of a building you may die. If all of reality actually is a simulation, there is no telling what will happen.
But can't the same be said for rationality and science? As Descartes showed a "demon" could continuously trick us with a fake reality, or we could be in the matrix for all we know. For rationality to work we have to assume that empiricism holds true. Why couldn't the same be true for ethics? I think that if science can have its empiricism axiom, ethics can have its suffering axiom.
That actually is a very good idea, thanks :) I'd would become impossible for anyone to read unless they got their hands on a introductory statistics book of course. But some explanatory text should be able to fix that. Do you have particular items that you think should be removed? I am only human, there is bound to be a mistake or two on such a large list.