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nshepperd comments on The curse of identity - Less Wrong

125 Post author: Kaj_Sotala 17 November 2011 07:28PM

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Comment author: nshepperd 19 November 2011 05:04:50AM 3 points [-]

The motivation to "do good" isn't a primary motive. How could it be? From where might it come ?

Built in, like all other drives?

Comment author: [deleted] 19 November 2011 06:02:08AM 2 points [-]

What's built in, plausibly, are specific drives (to comfort a crying baby, to take a clear example) whose gratification overlaps what we're inclined to call good. But these specific drives don't congeal into a drive to do ethical good: "good" isn't a natural property.

Now, you could say that "doing good" is just a "far" view of gratifying these specific drives. But I don't think that's the way it's used when someone sets out to "do good," that is, when they're making "near" choices.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 November 2011 09:49:38PM 0 points [-]

I would tend to take the position that to "do good" is simply to take actions that satisfy (in the sense of maximizing or satisficing output utility, or some approximation thereof) some fixed function of likely great complexity, which we refer to by the handle "morality."

Obviously, we only take those actions because of our luck (in a moral sense) in having evolved to be motivated by such a function. And we are strongly motivated by other things as well. But I don't think it's reasonable to state that because we are motivated, therefore we are not motivated by morality. Of course, you might call me a moral realist, though I don't believe that morality is written in the stars.