poly: Hayek and evolved morality

From: Damien R. Sullivan <phoenix@ugcs.caltech.edu>
Date: Tue Apr 21 1998 - 13:54:19 PDT

Reading Friedrich Hayek is a lot of fun. One thing he pointed out, relative
to the past discussion, is that we have a concept without its own word. Well,
we have many such concepts, but this one is "things which are the product of
human action, but not human design". We have 'natural' and 'artificial', and
neither works. Is language natural because no one designed it, or artificial
because humans made it? (Is technology artificial because we make it, or
natural because we evolved to use tools?)

So I object to 'natural law' because I associate that with a basic law of the
universe, like physics, and I find no basis for any moral equivalent. But the
tendency is to assume that the only alternative is arbitrarily chosen law or
morality. Some of us stumble toward 'evolved law' -- general rules which make
society work, found by the differential success of societies, and neither
'real' like physics nor wholly subjective or relative to values -- but the
lack of a good term of phrase may hamper the idea. Hayek resorts to classical
Greek -- _cosmos_ for an order independent of human will, _taxis_ for
deliberate arrangements.

There is still some value dependence. If you value life, the freedom to
pursue arbitrary ends, and general prosperity, you pick liberalism
(classical.) If you value life and some idea of "social justice", where
people's fates aren't partially determined by luck, you value socialism.
Scientific analysis comes in checking the consistency of, say, socialism with
other values, such as freedom or prosperity. Hayek argues that such criticism
is possible and shows that the latter set of values is inconsistent, but I
won't get into that now.

But everyone does value life, so while pure cause and effect knowledge can't
be used to generate 'ought', once we do have some agreed value then further
values can be critically examined for consistency.

-xx- GCU Mangyn of Chaos X-)

> I don't understand why you would be afraid of Jame, though, she is quite
> the honorable person.
"Er, the Destruction aspect of the One True God is using Jame as a
drinking straw to blow bubbles into the soda pop of creation; this
would scare me lots and lots. :)" -- Neelakantan Krishnaswami
Received on Tue Apr 21 21:11:16 1998

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