The foundations of morality

Several of my notes assert that it is “natural” to value a nearby person more than a distant one, and a human being more than an animal or an alien. Thus I measure utility with a weight function w(x,t,s) (s=species) that decays as x/t/s move away from here/now/human. Hence my resolution of Pascal’s wager and my rejection of a key assumption of Effective Altruism.

A philosopher may object: what kind of an argument is this? What in the world does “natural” mean?

My answer is that objective moral truths do not exist. If they did, then indeed, it would be hard to see how my own place, time and species could be special. But in fact, we cannot justify moral feelings, we can only explain them, and natural selection is a big part of the explanation. That’s what “natural” means.

[20 November 2022]