RE: virus: Cow

TheHermit (
Thu, 27 May 1999 18:49:51 -0500

Prof Tim

What is morality. How do you measure it. Playing pomo word games may give you a hard-on, but it doesn't advance the discussion.

FYI, my statement was not constructed or presented as a syllogism and as such, cannot be an "incorrect syllogism" no matter how incorrect the statement was (but you didn't demonstrate or claim that so I won't address it). Your making assertions about my statement as a syllogism doesn't advance anything but the notion of you dressed in rusty armor, sitting on an emaciated donkey and tilting at straw men.

Ethical systems do exist (are described) and as many as can be imagined can be constructed. Unlike morals, they can be reconciled and compared. The measure for an individual is how well they adhere to the ethical system they profess. The measure of ethical systems themselves can be measured by their genetic viability and their utility to their adherents.

Your thermal analogy not only fails, it doesn't even get off the starting blocks. If you liken Brownian motion to morality, by implication you are asserting that all moral systems are measurable in the same terms (temperature) irrespective of their cause (molecule type). I am prepared to bet that if you were to explain the "morality" of Tamerlane (or Timur Lenk), Plato, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther, Stalin and Pat Robertson in the same terms, that you would get a temperature doing it. I suspect you would have extreme difficulty reconciling their differing moral platforms no matter how similar the end result might appear to be (or not depending on your references). Measuring their behavior relative to their own professed ethics is not at all difficult, and evaluating their ethical systems in terms of utility is also viable.

Temperature is not "imaginary" - if you are exposed to enough Calories for long enough you will be "burnt" (i.e. your tissues will be damaged, and even if you are not a witch, you will burn :-) ). Temperature is an average energy value contained by a system and is calculable, not a myth at all. Show me the person burnt by a moral system. Show me your "morality thermometer". Explain to me the laws which govern the workings of your "moral molecules". Don't just hide behind false analogies and unsubstantiated sorties.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf
> Of Tim Rhodes
> Sent: Thursday, May 27, 1999 5:50 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: virus: Cow
> TheHermit wrote:
> >Morality can only exist with an external reference. Otherwise
> >you are simply playing with references, and as each person's
> >"morality" is equally valid, the word is meaningless.
> FYI--this is an incorrect syllogism.
> As an analogy: Just because the rate at which ever molecule
> in a solution
> moves is different (while being "equally valid") it does not
> preclude the
> solution from having an overall temperature. Neither does it turn the
> concept of 'temperature' into a "myth" as a result.
> >As there are no external references, the concept of morality is
> >only a convenient myth;
> As mythic as the concept of "room temperature". (But I bet
> you still have a
> thermostat on the wall, don't you?)
> -Prof. Tim