Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Moral Samscape

March again. Just like last year. But Marchog means knight or horseman. At least I think it does, I may be being laughed at in Patagonia. But I can't hear them! Now we all know that moon-faced Mongols are the best horsemans. However, there are four famous horsemans in the yurtless world too. And one has just fallen off! After years of being clever and funny, SamIam Harris-Eyebrow has finally built his marvellous mechanical magical mouse-abacus and emerged from his Buddha-bat-cave to bring us Nirvana. Nawrte boysbach Iesu Mawr. They say in Trawsfynydd-yr-wyddfa you can't judge a book by it's cover. 'Healthy eating' by Elvis Preseli. 'Perpetual Motion Machines' by A. Kentuckyfarmer. 'On Liberty' by Colonel Hannibal Gadaffi. Etc. So with the aid of little Ethan Emmanuel Jones bach, I down-stole the audio llyfr off and had it straight from the horseman's mouth. Which is still working. Please be up-sitting for SamIam Harris-Eyebrow!

SH:- Thankyou Richard. For this opportoonity to respond to my critics in Wales, England.

REJ:- Croeso. Use this spade if you like -

SH:- Hiiiiii Hoooooo!!! We dig dig dig dig -

REJ:- Hmmmm. I think so. Now SamIam, you've not been well for a while now recently, and I must congratulate you on becoming a doctorate of the future Neurosciences -

SH:- I do philosophy too -

REJ:- Yes you did. Indeed. Sense now SamIam, Richard here, why do you think everyone has noticed your book is rubbish? even stupid diawl-twp people? -

SH:- Well Richard, I don't think they have read it. They've probably just seen my ridiculous TED talks and embarassing slide-shows on The Science Network -

REJ:- Or just not bothered at all. Because they thought of it when they were 6 -

SH:- Yes. Or just not bothered at all, which is a shame because it means smart people won't read it. I wrote this book, for smart people, as I live in a television with lots of coloured alerts -

REJ:- Keep going -

SH:- There is a danger, Richard, the television said, of us waking up in a world where the only people with moral certainty are people who get it from a voice in a whirlwind -

REJ:- Ooooh! What does a voice in a whirlwind sound like? -

SH:- Sandy, I think.

REJ:- How sandy? -

SH:- Quite sandy. And a bit muffled by a bin bag -

REJ:- Or a beard -

SH:- Beards, yes. But how to convince someone that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen? It can't be done -

REJ:- I'm with you. Er...

SH:- Can you imagine the worst possible universe?

REJ:- No, I'm afraid I can't -

SH:- Well, can you imagine the worst possible rugby team? Every other rugby team would be better -

REJ:- Careful now Sammy boy -

SH:- It seems to me, that morality is reducable to the well-being of conscious creatures. Can you imagine a universe of just rocks? -


REJ:- You don't mind if I drink do you?

SH:- Lets see....*click!....whir!....ding!* No, go ahead. Neuroscience of the future tells us rocks are not conscious creatures. If I threw acid in a schoolgirl's face -

REJ:- Oooh! that's illegal here! Please don't be doing anything like that - you'll have Emrys the heddlu round as soon as the unmanned police station relays the message to Llandrindod and the doughnuts hit the road -

SH:- Throwing acid in schoolgirl's faces is sub-optimal for their conscious well-being. Now a lot of people I have met have told me, piously paraparroting Hume, that you can't get nought from is. But I think I can -

REJ:- I think you may have managed it -

SH:- Imagine if we discovered a tribe today, in a jungle with biting insects -

REJ:- Oooh! Do you think we will? It's not been on the newyddion -

SH:- It's on the imaginary newyddion, later today -

REJ:- I haven't got digital. Sioned said -

SH:- And the tribe has a custom of plucking out one eye from every thirteenth child, perhaps saying 'He who has one eye saves on glasses' or something -

REJ:- Good God man! They're nutters! Glasses are cheap. You can get them on the NHS -

SH:- Not in this jungle Richard, and there are biting insects too. And machetes. Imagine if you were forced to rape and kill your child. While insects were biting you -

REJ:- Market forces would render the monocular savings negligible. Supply and demand. If however, every child's eye was plucked out -

SH:- It seems to me, that you only have to grant me this one philosophical presupposition:- that if things were better, they would be better.

REJ:- No, too deep for me, Samster. I have a five year old child with me though -

SH:- Imagine if the five year old child -

REJ:- You don't mind if I smoke this reefer do you?

SH:- Just a mo, *click!....whir!....ding!* I'm afraid I do -

REJ:- Well never mind. *click!!....inhale!*

SH:- Now it's important to remember what I don't mean. I don't mean that zero-sum moral problems can be solved. I don't mean that intractable moral problems can be solved. I don't mean that any moral problems can be solved. But what I do mean is that all the moral problems that can't be solved, can be solved in principle. I just need a few extra cogs -

REJ:- Well then you're onto something after all. And to think Sioned said you had gone messiah-bananas. And just done it because you were jealous of religous people and their absolute morality. And that you were too dull to notice right and wrong is known universally by non-socio/psychopaths as sure as up from down. And that your silly abacus couldn't even do an abortion date. Or a war that might affect an abortion date. And that it was the cleverest and most deeply thought out net-zero book in history. And that you had obviously overreached and gone -

SH:- I can do them in principle. In the future.

REJ:- But we can try now. With made-up data. You can't do diddly -

SH:- I can do diddly in the future. In principle. With just a few extra cogs and a time-machine, and -

REJ:- Nawrte Sam. Your book was building up nicely to a concluding chapter. 'The future of happiness'. But you ran out of skill. I remember when super Shane was hareing down the touchline and -

SH:- I just want every conscious creature to flourish! to self-actualise! Even juggled bears! Is that too much to reduce to insanity? In principle? Is it? Well is it? I don't think so. And that is why I wrote this book. Do you like my pacing? -

REJ:- Yes. A constipated caged tiger is endearing. But back to your fluffing the last chapter -

SH:- Was it my diction?

REJ:- No, I enjoyed both tones. If you remember Blackburn's criticism of you, criticism #376, he said that neuro-scientifically identical brains were not the same if one was living in a fool's paradise. That's because he's as stupid as you.

SH:- He must be clever -

REJ:- Yes. Now if you want to have x billion conscious creatures at maximal flourishing, then you need only have x billion realities. The 'suffering' is done by zombie-minds and every non-body wins. If you say you don't want to live in a virtual reality then I don't know what you mean. And neither do you.

SH:- That's my line -

REJ:- Follow your line, Sam, follow your line. The well-being of conscious creatures. Reducable to neuroscience. Follow your line.


  1. Brilliant, yes, isn't it?

  2. Of course it's brilliant - even if, like me, you haven't read the book. It's educational too because it leads through humour into deeper thinking, and further reading.

  3. A public service, Dick bach. And ultimately a kindness to Sam he is. The sooner this book dies a neglected lonely death the more moral all round, I think. Knowing my particular harmability (my disabling fear of Geordies and the letter W) as he must, and using the observation satellites around her-indoors and the mad axeman two doors along, Sam's Moral Weather Super Computer should be able to process this to tell me if its alright to push that fat kid off the roof onto "Chopper" Eugene mere hours after he whacks the dozy tart. This is useless, of course, without far more satellites. That fat kid has to go and I'll need the excuse pre-emptively, not post facto.

  4. I want to record 'The Bendi and Rimmer tapes'; an unexpurgated romp through modern morality while pissed. It should be this generations' 'Derek and Clive Live' :)