Of Morality and Mandelbrot [Pope Francis Bookclub]


In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.This week, in my Pope Francis reading, I found his description of… for lack of a better word, the discretion of higher truths a little confusing: Truth has great value, but it lacks immediate clout, whereas power coerces.  Paradoxically … [Read more...]

One last look at sight

This post is part of a series on morality and mathematics.  If you're not into timeless conceptions of physics, you should probably check out the other posts first.I’m swear at some point I’m going to finish up with the sight metaphor and get back to some of the posts I had planned, but in the comments of one of yesterday’s posts, Hendy brought up one idea I really want to address.Hendy said: Essentially, we seem to have honed in on what humans value and made systems that support those a … [Read more...]

Empirics, Morality, and Rational Ignorance

Time for another go round of responses to comments on the last two posts in my current series on math and morality:Hendy wrote: So turn this to morality. What if smoking pot was permissible starting tomorrow. A large number of people would now take part in it while many others would consider to hold it wrong. Are their internal sensors faulty? Repeat this with abortion, nation-wide permissibility of gay marriage, etc. Some would immediately partake and others would still hold that it was … [Read more...]

Optimized and Arbitrary (part 2)

This post is part of a series on math and morality. You can see all previous posts in this sequence at the indexLooks like it’s time for a clarification for yesterday’s post.I think David B. is oversimplifying when he says: If a lot of offspring get genes for cooperation and together they are hard-wired build an equilibrium better for all (i.e. what morality does), that would in fact out compete another population without those genes.  I think it’s important to remember that two … [Read more...]

Math and Morality Index

In August of 2010, I wrote a series of posts on the relationship between math and morality."From Dreams I Proceed to Facts" -- an introduction to my views on math and metaphysics by way of Flatland Hail to the Cylinder God -- being able to make negative definitions of God is essential As sure as I am of anything -- how does evidence for morality compare to evidence for causality, or the reality of sight Tangled Up in Blue -- a discussion of the tension between societal norms and the … [Read more...]

Optimized and Arbitrary

This is one of a series of posts about math and morality.  I'll be getting back to the series soon, but I'm currently pausing to answer some of the questions that have been accumulating.In comments on "On What Evidence?" Crowhill and Charles got into a disagreement about human morality and evolution that I exerpt below.Crowhill: Does there have to be some sort of "objective morality" for a dog to know how he's supposed to behave towards other dogs? Isn't it entirely possible that dogs … [Read more...]

On what evidence?

This post is part of a series of responses to the comments on my ongoing series on math and morality.  You can check out previous posts in this series here.So having spent one post answering questions using my sight metaphor, I’m going to move away from it in this round of answers. (Remember, as George Box said, “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.”).Eitan said: [M]orality is clearly quite different than EVERYTHING else we know. If there were objective values, they w … [Read more...]