Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rules of a Moral Life?

Here are a few rules for what might be a moral life, for those who can or are willing to comprehend them.

One should knowingly, do no harm to another.
One should avoid doing anything that may harm another later.
If one must do harm to another, one should make every effort to minimise that harm.
Self harm should be discouraged, because it indirectly harms others.
A lack of foresight is harmful.
To violate these rules is to loose the protection of them.

Unfortunately to apply these rules get complex incredibly quickly and requires a massive amount of thought.


Nathan said...

Not sure I like the way the last one is phrased. It's almost like you're saying that if someone doesn't follow your rules you don't have to follow the rules towards them? Given no one is perfect, and many people may not agree with the exact details (eg some may value acting naturally / spontaneously over foresight), suddenly the rules only apply to a small set of people. I get where it's going, you want a way to protect people from another person who might cause them harm, and in doing so you may end up harming to decrease overall harm. But you still want to try and minimize harm as per rule 2, rather than suspending all rights.
Does that make much sense? It just seems judgemental - 'if you don't play by my rules I'm not going to be nice to you'

EONsim said...

Yeah you got it exactly Nathan.

The last point is trying to add a rule into the set that stops them being exploited. As in if a society followed these rules, those who deliberately reject them and attempt to exploit them may find that they are no longer covered by them.

I'm probably putting a bit more internal emphasis on the violate bit. By violate I mean those who are aware of the rules and deliberately reject them and attempt to exploit them.

However it is still a nasty hack, really to try and make them self enforcing. As it conflicts with the previous ones by applying limitations to who you have to take into account.

I guess a mix of 2 and 3 would be a better option. That if someone is trying to exploit you and the only way you can see to stop them does some harm then use the method that does the least harm to them while still achieving the objective of stopping them.

Also I wouldn't restrict this just to humans or animals it makes most sense to apply it to all interactions with everything.

Christina said...

These remind me of Asimov's rules for robots :D

I'm not sure about the self-harming one. For me I don't see self-harm primarily as something that harms others (even though I guess it does indirectly), but as a way of dealing with really messed up stuff. It's usually something a person'll do because there's no healthy way of dealing with the stuff, or because they're not aware of a healthy way, or don't have access to one.

So rather than an act of malicious intent, it's a desperate measure. It's something that can (eventually) be replaced with healthier behaviour, rather than being punished or having the rules withheld from them, which would probably only make it worse.