Vegans NZ – Moral Responsibility

Vegans New Zealand

Did anyone else experience massive moral responsibility while transitioning to veganism?
Is this normal and if so, how did you find the balance?

For me – taking as many steps backwards in abstract space as possible, and creating a view of the incentive structures present in the systemic landscape of our time:
Wrote this yesterday which is on a slightly different topic, but gives a good feel for the context

[followed by]

Hi Steven,

It is not a simple context.
Moral responsibility is an interesting concept.
We all have some version of it at some level.
Being able to create other contexts, to create new perspectives, is one way out of the problem.

I have been in the enquiry of what might be required to live a very long time for over 40 years. In that time I investigated many different perspectives.

That post I linked to looks at an uncommon perspective on evolution, and an uncommon set of perspectives on the nature of determinism.
It is about the incentive structures that underlie morality.

[followed by]

Hi Steven,
At what level “where”?
Evolutionary (mimetic, cultural)?
Games theory?
Systems theory?

[followed by]

Hi Steven,

Human morality is a huge topic.

In my understanding it has many facets.
It seems clear to me that there are deep underpinnings of morality in our genetics, in the way our brains function, that derive from the sorts of attendant strategies that are required to stabilise cooperation between individuals to prevent cheats from dominating and destroying cooperative societies.
This seems to apply to many aspects of our emotional systems, to aspects of jealousy, and to our sense of injustice (in as far as those things have genetic influences).

At the next level, it seems that the same sort of arguments apply, but at the level of culture in its widest sense.
This applies to the sorts of distinctions we have in language and to the sorts of explanatory stories that we have in culture, all within a “games theoretical framework” of required stabilising strategies to prevent cheats from taking over cooperatives.

For many individuals the stories themselves dominate, rather than the framework behind the stories.
For me, the stories themselves are only of minor interest, what is much more interesting is the strategic framework that incentivises the sorts of stories people like and repeat.

Thus from a games theory perspective, morality appears to be a suite of strategies in story form that promote cooperative social life.

From a wider evolutionary perspective, it is part of a context that sees all major advances in the complexity of living systems as being characterised by the emergence of new levels of cooperative systems (with their attendant strategies).

This can be viewed in a wider context of strategy spaces more generally, and the effects of different sorts of complexity on cooperative and competitive strategic systems. I rather like David Snowden’s Cynefin framework for dealing with different sorts of complexity, as it simplifies a vast topic down to 4 effective heuristic strategies for response. If you want greater detail, Stephen Wolfram’s work points to infinite classes of complexity.

So that is a very brief introduction to a topic I could write on for days, but need to get some sleep, as have an early start and a very busy day tomorrow – if you’re still interested, I can write more then.


[followed by]

Hi Steven,

How does one want to define “simple”?

In a very real sense, it all depends upon the sort of overlap one has in understanding of what the terms “good”, “rationality”, “intuitionism”, and “moral” might mean – the sort of semantic and conceptual networks one attaches to each term, and to a good first order approximation, we align perfectly. And I strongly suspect some extreme variance in the depths of those networks, and not many people have the time or inclination to dig very far.

[followed by]

Hi Steven,
True to a degree. Some like Feynman, Wolfram, Axelrod, Russell, Dawkins, Snowden, etc have done some amazing work. Lots of other noise in there though.

[followed by]

Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins is the evolutionist famous for his classic 1976 work “The Selfish Gene” which is still arguably one of the best works on the subject.
Richard Feynman, physicist/mathematician – amazing mind.
Stephen Wolfram – polymmath, designer of automated systems for the exploration of algorithm space, complexity and chaos guru.
David Snowden, complexity theorist, developer of the Cynefin framework for the management of complexity.
Robert Axelrod – one of the founders of Games theory and renowned for his work on the strategic conditions necessary for the emergence of stable cooperative systems.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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