Re: virus: Reinventing the Justice meme

Fri, 12 Jul 1996 19:49:17 +0000

David McFadzean wrote:

>I seem to be retreating further and further from by original assertions...

Happens to me all the time.

>Still, I'm not ready to give up on the concept altogether. It seems
>like the Justice meme provides the basis for social collaboration
>between parties who do happen to be infected by it. The reasoning
>goes something like this: I believe you have made a good decision
>by trusting me enough to enter a contract with me. Since I am infected
>by Justice, I will do my best to control matters to the extent I
>can so that the outcome of the decision is beneficial to you,
>because to do otherwise would be to allow an injustice.
>My question is: Does this line of argument derive morality from
>justice, or is it begging the question?

I don't know what question you might be begging.

Communities of entities which act in accord with the dictates of justice
(i.e. a community which is thoroughly permiated with the justice
meme-complex) are likely to exhibit a high degree of cooperative effort,
and this is likely to improve the average lot of indivual memebers of that
society. In a community of like-minded individuals, valuing justice (or
more to the point, acting AS IF one values justice) is viable survival
strategy. This is an amoral perspective. They only "shoulds" in arguments
for justice like the those above are prudential (as opposed to normative)

I know that Reed has already responded to your post, but I haven't yet read
his post closely enough the comment on it in detail. I believe he mentions
that we can't derive an 'ought' from an 'is.' I agree. You can
demonstrate through various means that adopting a given idea results in
cooperation and enhanced prospects for individual and group well-being.
Given that serving some meme facilitates your ends, you SHOULD adopt and
disseminate that meme. This is a prudential "should." Unless you are a
Utilitarian of some stripe, that "should" carries no moral force.

Having said all that, I value justice for its own sake. I would rather
live in a community of people who genuinely valued justice than in a
society of rational egoists who behaved as if they valued justice. Even if
I were at some disadvantage in the society that genuinely valued justice,
I'd take that over the situation of living in a society that pays lip
service to justice while seeking to maximize the advantages of a select few
at the expense of the ignorant and the easily manipulated.

For those of you interested in some serious tail-chasing, submit a
definition of justice and we'll reenact Plato's Republic.

Take care, all.

"Natural Selection is extremely effective but not very efficient. The
waste at every level is so tremendous that it would stagger even the
Pentagon. The God who devised this system is hardly the Protestant God of
waste not/want not."
-David Hull

You will propagate the C memetic-complex. Resistance is futile.