Morality As Wishes

Moral philosophy is often phrased as answering the question, “What should we do?”, and answers it with rules or heuristics for action, or standards by which actions should be judged moral or immoral. But framing the question this was conflates moral considerations with contingencies like what one is capable of doing, and what actions will lead to what consequences, questions that are more appropriately the domain of empirical science. “Is a person capable of X?” or “Will action X lead to result Y?” are not moral questions: people can agree on answers to them without agreeing on fundamental questions of values or the nature of the Good. Similarly, “Does action X fall within the meaning of proscribed action Z?” is separate from the questions of whether or not the proscriptions themselves are moral or immoral.

Instead, we could frame moral philosophy in terms of what one should wish for. By “wish” here, I don’t mean mere desire, but the kind of activated desire that one finds in stories of wish-granting magic: when you present a genie with you wish, the desired outcome is immediately realized (assume all genies in this post are acting in good faith and not monkey’s-paw style tricksters). Of course, we do not typically encounter genies, so the magical version of a wish is only an intuition pump. But we can think of our actions as ourselves attempting to grant our wishes. We wish not to be hungry, so we eat, or work to make money to be able to eat, or refrain from spending money on trifles so we’ll be able to afford to eat.

But wishing is not the same as wanting: we may want someone to die, and still believe it wrong to wish on a magic lamp that someone should die. Wants are facts about ourselves that we don’t control; we may modify them over time, but only indirectly.

Framing morality this way excises the contingencies, leaving a purer version of moral questions. An example may help to clarify how this changes moral reasoning.

Consider animal suffering. If we ask, Should we make animals suffer? We are immediately flooded with empirical contingencies: what actions make animals suffer? What are downstream consequences of avoiding animal suffering? Can we or someone else continue to survive or thrive without animals suffering? Can animals themselves survive without suffering?

If instead we ask, Should we wish for animals to suffer? Here the contingencies don’t matter. Even if we might wish from some other outcome that is incompatible with the elimination of animal suffering, that is not the same as wishing for animals to suffer. We can consistently hold that it is wrong to wish for animal to suffer and acceptable to wish for a world that is contingent upon animal suffering.

This may not be compatible with the classical distinction between schools of philosophy, e.g. consequentialists may still say that what one should wish for depends on the contingencies of what maximizes utility. I welcome thoughts on how/whether that would resolve any conflicts among them or make any of them moot.

Wishes are wants (end), and you can have a competing governing want that none of your wants consequently violates self=other. If a wish/want violates self=other, your (be) governing want kicks in (do) to overrule the violating want so it does not result in consequences that violate self=other.

How we should be, what we should do, the ultimate end (want/wish), is self=other (treat the other as self).


Glad you’re back.

I’ve always warned and lovingly taught people how to make a wish the sells neither your soul or the genies soul.

“I wish to get everything I want when I want it at the expense of no being.”

That’s when you hit the limit of power.

Wishing is about determining life’s limit if you make the right wish.

Ichthus, I disagree that wishes (in the asking-a-genie sense) are wants. It seems to be a consistent moral position to hold that it’s acceptable to want someone to die but unacceptable to wish for them to die. What we want is beyond our (direct, immediate) control, and so it is amoral; what we ask a genie to effectuate is an act of agency, for which moral blame can be ascribed.

In practice, because we don’t live in a world of wish-granting genies, there may not be much difference, but the distinction matters. We might consider all of our willful actions to be wishes upon very low-powered genies, e.g. putting a coin in a slot as a way of wishing for a bag of chips.

Ecmandu, I think the above calls your wish into question, though I’m not sure because the caveat is so broad. I’m not sure how much is left over after taking it into account.

It’s very similar to prayer in that it reveals intention.

Someone may pray to bowl a 300.

Some may pray that their child gets cured of a disease.

Clearly prayer doesn’t work. Or if it does work, you have to have the correct context.

Prayer and Gambling is a good analogy. We’re pattern seeking animals and people have brilliant ways of trying to seek patterns where there are none and it keeps them hooked on thing like god or video lottery, even though they always lose.

Religions warn against gambling, why? Because it disproves their religion.

It’s even worse if someone makes a righteous prayer…

“God, please make everyone wealthy in mind, body, spirit”

It doesn’t occur.

Religion had to evolve because of this problem, thus, the lord works in mysterious ways…. Thou shall not test the lord, your god…. Etc…

I think that your distinction between a mere desire/wish (want) and an activated desire/wish (want) is a similar distinction between an activated desire/wish (want) and an acted upon desire/wish (want). For example, in the case of wishing via a genie, you become the genie’s accomplice, but you do not become the direct murderer. Still, you’re involved in a murder that was conceived in your mind and the mere wish (want/desire) before it was activated by you and acted upon by the genie (or yourself) was still a murderous wish.

In the original post, you bring in natural law theory in terms of a consequence you did not intend. That’s a side issue, isn’t it? If you didn’t intend it, you didn’t want, desire, or wish it. It wasn’t even an intrusive want/wish/desire.

If you have an intrusive want — a want you don’t want, because you want a higher (in alignment with self=other) want — that is not YOUR want … you can remove it like a teratoma and remain you, rather than allowing it to control you like in Stephen King’s “The Dark Half” (while we’re entertaining the genie concept). Blaming an act on an intrusive want is done in bad faith as far as one is aware/empowered, because you wouldn’t have acted on it unless you took ownership of it.

How do you remove an intrusive want? Refocus to the higher want/YES! that caused you to label it intrusive/NO!. You won’t always succeed. Forgive yourself, regroup, and start over.

Guilt is the dissonance of saying/doing yes to a no.

This is merely indicating the difference between wants (desire) and intentions (will).

Yes that has some moral relevance. But morality itself cannot be reduced to this mere distinction.

Moral behaviours are common among social species.
Man is the one species that encoded them - wrote them out.

This fact points to a utility, that requires no god, and no willful agency to impose them.
They become innate…and unless some mutation corrupts their effect they remain predictable, e.g., sympathy, tolerance, cooperation, love, reciprocity, restriction on in-group violence etc.
Moral behaviours offer an advantage.

Ethics are another matter.
Here man adds to these encoded innate moral behaviours his own addendums to make more complex, numerous social systems possible.
Now god, and the rule of law, must be employed to discipline individuals to these ethical extensions of innate moral behaviours, e.g., adultery, paedophilia.
Anything that contradicts group welfare is deemed immoral, or unethical.

Moral behaviour evolved to discipline individuals to the collective welfare, promoting group health and cohesion.
In manmade systems ethics do the same in relation to a collective ideal.

Why did morality evolve?
Because without it cooperative reproductive and survival strategies would be impossible.
Over time such behaviours, and the necessary demeanours, were naturally selected into species.

Actions, behaviours are immoral or unethical, not because god or some powerful group decided it.
They are unethical and immoral because they diminish a group’s health, efficiency and effectiveness - meaning it diminishes a group’s survivability and its ability to replenish its organic resources: inability to replenish those lost to predation, diseases, and natural temporal attritions.

Many moral and ethical rules run across all social systems and cultures.

We never find a culture that considers homosexuality a virtue and heterosexuality an immoral vice.
We never come across a moral system that considers incest and rape a virtue.
There is no ethical system that makes bestiality the highest of all virtues.
Such ethical systems would collapse.
In fact, we see degeneracy and immorality in times of systemic and Empire collapse, like the one currently occurring to the US and its vassal states.
No system can endure the demographic impact of human degeneracy.

So, moral behaviours did not emerge from nowhere, and nothing, nor did a god or some men invent them…they evolved; they were naturally selected.


No, Ecmandu. What determines life’s limits are our actions - being proactive and seeking/going after what it is we want until at some point we either succeed/achieve what it is we wanted or we fail. That is the point at which we have determined life’s limits as far as our own lives are concerned… success or failure.

That is not to say that we should look on it as a limitation or a failure. At some point, it may be discovered that that failure was actually the best thing for us.

The only thing “wishing” does is tell us what it is we want or think we want but until we make that move toward it it is no more than like blowing on a dandelion and watching as it is dispersed into the air.

And remembering what you wished for is as important element of determining the source of that intuition, as most wishes occur as thrown away scraps in a bottle, to see

Lest we fallback as into a morality play.

Existence isn’t perfect.

Are you seriously going to declare that whatever happens (happened) to people was for the best.

Existence has a limit. I found the limit.

Everyone has no choice but to violate the pleasurable exclusive access problem.

That sends everyone who’s not in hell already to hell.

Existence itself is blasphemy.

I’m not going to waste my life apologizing for it.

I’m going to use my life for the first time in existence to have purpose.

So of course we assume you are going to share that special purpose with everyone, or else you’re committing exclusive access.

Some gibberish I noted before coffee or even the wee hours of morning…


abstract wants don’t automatically make reality (subset outside mere/abstract want) happen

you have to MAKE IT happen

insight inspired by how the coffee keeps getting less the more I merely want it to get more, because without planning, wanting uses up instead of multiplies

If you want in one hand, and shit in the other which do you think fills up first?

Shit or get off the pot.

Such is life.

folks working on gain of function don’t want to merely regain/restore/multiply what was lost… they want to more than merely unlock the universe’s embedded capabilities… they want to make new (not go back, and not inevitably forward) in the transcend-ense … not by accident (like most scientific advances), but on purpose—apart from the Grand /Not/-Mere-Anticipator-but-Already-Whereor.

You’re cracking Ichthus.

I’m not trying to crack you.

I’m stating the truth.

Jesus never solved the pleasurable exclusive access problem.

That’s left to all of us; some more than others.

Jesus is in the job of conversion.

I have no interest in that job.

Life is going to do it to all of you.

The question is about harm reduction until the problem is solved.

That’s why I call you retarded. It’s actually protecting you. Assert your competence and you might just be looking at hell forever.

I’m holding hell back to the best of my ability.

I’ll tell you something else Ichthus. I have an entire cosmos on my mind. I even contemplate all the dreams people have when they sleep.

Who are you to judge me?

I’ll let you be my first judge.

ok. make it happen, bucko.

I have no choice.

I already defined love to you.

Love is when you have no choice.

There are so many people who only derive joy out of consent violation…

It’s an impossible job I’ve been given.

Every successful person has made the impossible reality.

I just happen to take it to the limits of structural reality itself.

I already know where you’re all going.

You don’t want to go there.

I’ve been trained by every spirit in the all of existence.

Look at my spirit. If anyone’s hurt, I’m hurt. I don’t want to hurt anymore.

The pleasurable exclusive access problem is violated everyday by everyone; this violation is hell bound.

That’s why I ask people not to get in my way.

You think I want to fuck a girl? Is that what you think this is? All going to hell.

That hurts me.

So you can’t make it happen because you have no choice.

Whatever weirdo.

Bet you can make those piano keys do something.