Submitted by fortin1984 t3_11dcq42 in Futurology

Humanity faces complex, often interrelated challenges and threats, ranging from climate change, poverty, inequality, crime, and biological, chemical, physical and cyber disasters, to severe civil and military conflicts and even nuclear war. These issues have caused and will continue to cause immense suffering to individuals, families, communities and societies around the world and could ultimately drive humanity to extinction.

Thus, the question becomes more and more important whether a universal ethics/basic law, which all people know and are obliged to respect, and a global moral education based on it, could improve the future of people and all of humanity.

I believe that a universal ethics/basic law for all people and a global moral education would 1) provide a common moral language that facilitates intercultural, interethnic and interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution, 2) help address and reverse the root causes of our existential threats such as clima change, wars and crime, 3) guide individuals and societies in their decisión-making processes, and 4) promote a sense of global citizenship and shared responsibility. ‘Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world’ (Nelson Mandela).

Discovering a rational basis for a global ethics, which has a universal normative force, but assumes cultural, ethnic and religious/ideological differences, and setting up this ethics and implementing it in the school curricula and the constitutional law of all countries, however, is not easy. Although it is possible, according to

By establishing a culture of peace, justice and sustainability through education and law, I believe we could create a better world for ourselves and for future generations.



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SmilingGengar t1_ja8ly53 wrote

The problem here is that there are irreconcilable divisions among people with regards to the ontological foundations for what is considered good. Some people derive their ethics from an essentialist or teleological understanding of the world, while another subset of people believes ethics is derived from measurement of utility, and other believes ethics are nothing more than expressions of personal preferences (emotivism), etc. If we cannot even agree on what makes something ethical in the first place, then I doubt we would be able to establish an effective universal curriculum to teach what is ethical.

That said, maybe an alternate way to approach this proposal would be to simply create a council comprised of moral philosophers representing each ethical perspective. Nations would submit ethical issues that would be accepted or denied by the council. If accepted into the docket, members would simply write opinions on ethical issues submitted by nations. The opinions would be non-binding, but nations would be obligated as part of submitting the request to provide a response to the opinion in terms of how they plan to action on recommendations.


gobbo t1_ja90xct wrote

And yet, some laws are trending toward universal without enforcement by a monopoly on violence. There's a global alignment under way, which is hopeful considering that we are struggling with planning alignment strategies for impending AGI.

For instance, the elimination of slavery proceeds, with a few holdouts like prison systems and regressive states. Incest rules and age of consent rules are becoming more standard. Fraud rules and awareness of conflicts of interest are becoming increasingly prevalent.

These are arguably the international effects of humanism riding the coattails of trade, and wars being won by democratic governments, but there's also a zeitgeist related to the growth of universal education, I think.


SmilingGengar t1_ja9gr1x wrote

I cannot deny that there is an upward trend towards universal alignment on some goods. The tricky part is making sure we don't equate universal agreement on what is good with what is good and so ought to be universally agreed to. If we reduce universal morality to just consensus without clearly defining what the good is, we could see universal agreement around things that may not actually be good in the future, especially if there is a reversal of democratization, access to education, and higher standards of living that contribute to certain goods being adopted over others.


gobbo t1_ja9s9n4 wrote

Yep, any ethics that doesn't involve reflexivity and rigorous questioning is likely to go off the rails.


so_much_mirrors t1_ja9gh1o wrote

The idea sounds wonderful, however i feel that such a body would be an embodiment for a totalitarist scarecrow - "anything that doesn't comply to our best nation's sacred tradition is a rotten progressive effort to eradicate our identity"... Eastern eu (and seemingly uk) governments get a wonderful piece of the vote pie with this rethoric, only the boogeymen are progressive and mostly reasonable EU institutions. Enough to say that lawful and peaceful foreign institutions make the best beating boy, as they by default do not fight back..


WEFederation t1_ja7vjmf wrote

I think the first step is to create a economic model and monetary policy that encourages cooperation rather than zero sum mechanics.


Actaeus86 t1_ja7x6x7 wrote

Well it will never happen. What is a sensible law in China is not sensible in Italy, or Brazil. Same thing with ethics and cultural norms. Humans are childish. Half the world will say no to a good law just because X country suggested it. I personally don’t want to live under a universal one world government even if it was possible, which it isn’t.


Feerlez_Leeder101 t1_ja80ga5 wrote

You trying to get everyone on earth to believe the same thing? Yeah that's been tried before.


peadith t1_ja85a8w wrote

Not the way it can be done now. What if you can get everyone to know the same thing instead? That's what is starting to happen. There will always be the opt-out plan, but the stakes will be high. Belief when you can know instead (also called ignorance) is largely an animal flaw that won't hold machines back.


JamesManhattan t1_ja8gnji wrote

Exactly, I just wait until A.I. reads the phrase online that "Humans are a virus" and then agrees, and finds a way to purge the planet of the virus.


peadith t1_ja8heg5 wrote

I don't think there's so much of a chance for the kind of eradication a lot of people seem to fear, but the fear exposes the truth.


Feerlez_Leeder101 t1_ja8q41k wrote

Its like trying to keep all the organisms on earth from continuing to speciate. Entropy will not allow it.


MasteroChieftan t1_ja8hp0u wrote

Thought experiment - If we can accept endless brutal violence against us by the anti-social for no reason, can we not accept limited brutal violence against the anti-social, by us, for the purpose of making a more peaceful and sustainable society?


JoeRuckus319 t1_ja8k1is wrote

It only took 2 hours and 45 minutes to go from "We should all agree on a common ethic for peace" to "we should kill everyone who disagrees."
Honestly, I expected it to come faster.


MasteroChieftan t1_ja8l2q3 wrote

"We should all agree" is a nice sentiment. But that's all it is. You can't even get people to agree that a pandemic is worth being socially cautious.

The bad guys write the rule book. It sucks and I hate violence. But violence is a tool.

Every society employs force to get its people to confirm to its laws and ways.


Feerlez_Leeder101 t1_ja8kndz wrote

One is faccism the other is communism.


MasteroChieftan t1_ja8l7vd wrote

Employing force on a serial killer is not fascism or communism.


Feerlez_Leeder101 t1_ja8sd2i wrote

When did anyone mention serial killers? Is that your biggest concern about humanity at large? The serial killers? Alright, fine, we'll lock them all up for ya, like they already are. Now the question remains, what about all of the rest? And who gets to define "antisocial"? Do we just kill anyone anytime they do anything wrong like a eugenic meritocracy?


MasteroChieftan t1_ja8xglx wrote

Nope. Just the purest example of my point that we assert our will violently on people who're anti-social.

Who gets to define anti-social? Hopefully someone kind and pragmatic who also has empathy.


DxLaughRiot t1_ja8qrdj wrote

Study philosophy - people have been trying to come up with an objective theory of ethics for thousands of years unsuccessfully. We’re not going to suddenly stumble upon one now, especially in a day in age where people can’t even agree that vaccines during a pandemic are “ethically required”.

Just look at how two supposedly objective ethical systems like utilitarianism and deontology try to answer simple ethical questions like trolly car problems. Despite both supposedly being rooted in objectivity they come up with very different answers to the same ethical dilemmas.

I get that you want to say “education is the answer”, but that just opens up new ethical questions to answer. Who defines what education is “needed”, how does science even play a role in ethics, what happens when there isn’t scientific consensus, etc.


gobbo t1_ja92bh9 wrote

You might be weighting unevenly important ethical questions as falsely equivalent.

Sure, the trolly problem is a great way to emphasize a certain framework, but it's an outlier in practice, as it's useful for certain designs like safety devices or predictive measures.

However the baseline of behaviour regulation around basic legal frameworks is perhaps less sensitive to these variables and more easily fit into a roughly acceptable set of global standards and norms.

An example might be child sexual abuse proscriptions. It doesn't really matter much if your culture is authoritarian about family relations, that's a line we can likely agree should never be crossed.


DxLaughRiot t1_ja9ar9s wrote

I use trolly problems as an example because it’s un-nuanced, straightforward, and still yields huge differences in supposedly objective systems of ethics. If objective systems can’t agree on something as basic as that - whether the scenario is common in real life or not - how are we supposed to find objectively ethical solutions for even the most slightly nuanced questions in the world?

Even your “we should all agree sexually abusing children is bad” has issues with it. On the surface, yeah no duh people shouldn’t sexually abuse children, but start digging even a little bit and you start to see cracks in the statement. What constitutes a “child”? What constitutes “abuse”? Ancient Greek philosophers had sex with young boys as young as 13 on the regular and thought it was ethical as long as both consented. Was that child abuse? Age of consent in Germany is 14 - in parts of Japan it’s 20. Whose legal framework is correct and why?

If the basis of your ethics is “legal consensus” you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to consolidate a global ethical framework.


gobbo t1_ja9c5mh wrote

I am pretty sure this is an excellent example of "perfect is the enemy of good".

Sometimes you just have to get shit done and compromises are necessary. Again, alignment is not necessarily about lining things up perfectly.


DxLaughRiot t1_ja9dh5c wrote

I’m trying to say we can’t even figure out perfect something as simple as “don’t sexually abuse children”. That was supposed to be easy!

More what I’m trying to say is it’s naive to think that with as messy and complicated life is that anyone will ever agree on a universal moral framework. Humanity has tried to for millennia, and typically what happens when people try to trot out their new super awesome objective morality is that people go to war over whether it’s right or not.


gobbo t1_ja9rky6 wrote

I'm saying

"Pay attention to trends. What you state as impossible is happening incrementally despite the protests of theory."

cf. xeno's paradox; theories limited by excessive parameters will fail.

Also: maybe the universality doesn't need to be as totalizing as you assume for a global ethics platform to succeed. We aren't talking about total consensus; as hominids we are wired to have some kind of minority opposition to keep evolving. In practical terms a consensus can be 'good enough'--how you decide where to draw the lines is an interesting but necessarily drawn out discussion.


UniversalMomentum t1_ja7v6sw wrote

I think for that to be practical you need a lot of robotic automation to raise the standard of living and reduce the need for humans to compete against each other just to survive so much. Otherwise what you're saying is pretty much what the UN is already trying to do, but with no where near enough resources to make it happen.

We need to lure the global population into such a plan, so we need something to lure them with and something like robotic automation lowering the cost of all commodities and labor is the most plan I can think up to help reduce greed and give people less reasons to fight each other constantly. Otherwise there is literal constant benefit to screwing each other over and the more desperate your situation the bigger the incentive. Kind of like when we imagine a world where food runs out and law and order falls rapidly with it. That's the kind of wild asset of humanity we are dealing with, so we need a way to stabilize their living conditions so they act more sane and predictable vs desperate and lawless as we commonly see anytime living conditions deteriorate.


Test19s t1_ja8h5jy wrote

The problem boils down to how scarce resources really are. If there’s only so much stuff we can mine without destabilizing or ruining our own homes, then robots become competition for resources rather than expansion.


wizard-of-love t1_ja910ii wrote

We already have The Declaration of Human Rights. How about that gets enforced?


chaosenhanced t1_ja8gdfh wrote

Laws are only as effective as the ability to enforce them. I do not support a global government with any means to enforce even these "basic" laws.


royalblue1982 t1_ja8jar8 wrote

The truth is that we don't have enough unity among even the 'developed' world to establish such standards right now. And global capitalism doesn't really want any framework for which it would be forced to conform to.

How can the 'free world' call for certain rights when they are not even being protected in its leading members. A large section of Americans believe that racism doesn't exist, 38% of Japan's LGBT community has been harassed or assaulted at some point, Italy has a quasi-Fascist Prime Minister.


cronedog t1_ja8zrl2 wrote

>1) provide a common moral language that facilitates intercultural, interethnic and interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution,

Why do you think this will help? Most societies and cultures frown upon murder, theft and assault, that doesn't stop them from occurring. Also, many cultures and faiths are incompatible.


riggrip t1_ja8uwwc wrote

I believe the Illuminati are already working on this one.


dandle t1_ja96f9l wrote

Our innate drive to punish violators of norms, including fairness, is unfortunately undone by the tendency that far too many have toward pursuing a maxi-max strategy.


Josh12345_ t1_ja96qpx wrote

How will the cultural, religious and political differences be reconciled though?


fortin1984 OP t1_jaauoyx wrote

It is explained in the linked article of the post.


BmanGorilla t1_ja9ght3 wrote

Whether you’re into religion or not… I’m pretty that’s what the Ten Commandments were supposed to be. They do seem to cover everything, so I’d be cool with starting there. Not murdering or robbing each other seems like it would really help out in a lot of places.


IcebergSlimFast t1_jaa1brn wrote

Hard pass on the first four commandments, which are completely irrelevant to any non-religious person.

They don’t even get around to the not murdering part until number six, which frankly seems a bit late for something so obviously basic and important. Not to mention, the commandments on their own don’t even provide any guidance on when killing is okay vs not. And as anyone who’s ever even skimmed through the Old Testament is well aware, there are so many relatively minor crimes deserving punishment by death that there may as well be a big, fat asterisk on that one.

In conclusion: not a very helpful place to start searching for universal morality.


StomachReasonable459 t1_ja9myx5 wrote

Yeah, I guess that'd work; if we were like the Borg collective or something. But that's the problem with the world: everybody's got different ideas about what they want out of life.....


xsnyder t1_ja9qdoi wrote

This would require a worldwide government with the ability to enforce these laws everywhere, I am 100% against a single planetary government, and I know tons of other people are as well.

Most countries already have laws for what you suggest here.


HenryZero9-A t1_ja9skvi wrote

This would only work once you destroy every single religion on Earth, which is bad...and then take away every single firearm from every single American.
Tyranny is tyranny. That's all this "idea" reads as. Mao had some of these very same thoughts. Maybe check the path of histories greatest murderers first before you start espousing the same ideologies and "ideas"...


NVincarnate t1_jaagolm wrote

Universally mandating peace sounds like a recipe for failure.

The core problem with world peace is that every culture is different and disagrees on what is ethically correct. The drinking age is different everywhere.

Trying to generalize universal rules over everyone everywhere seems like a waste of time.

Use technology to improve quality of living and access to basic rights (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.) and see how quickly crime rates drop. Employing a universal law to control everyone in a certain direction while still allowing people to be homeless will never work or change anything.


Smellthiel t1_jaarutc wrote

defining what is good is impossible without imposing what you think is good onto others which just creates more discourse and callous. the reason laws are as ambiguous and non choosy as they are is because you can only follow things that are neither good nor bad. even as i am writing this i am becoming irritated and animus towards you and i don't even know you.

The fact is that you cannot create an ethical code or law because what 8 billion people consider good or bad differs from every single person on this earth. There is no such thing as universal ethics nor is there such a thing as common morals. This would create more division and more global hatred than if you just let people do whatever they wanted regardless of ethics or morals.


fortin1984 OP t1_jab1k67 wrote

After reading the first 48 comments I highly recommend reading the linked article.


vorpal_potato t1_jadqte0 wrote

I read it and the author doesn't seem to have actually understood any of the issues. What even is "personal dignity", and how can anyone claim with a straight face that it's universal and self-evident? Hell, you can't even translate the Latin word "dignitas" to the closely-related English word "dignity" without giving a few sentences of explanation about the cultural differences in meaning. You'd run into even more trouble if you look at cultures that aren't related so closely.

And he sure does like to call things "universal and self-evident", even when this is trivially false. For example, one thing he describes this way is the principle that "State, religious, economic and other office holders are in [each human being's] service." This is not at all an obvious idea, nor one that all cultures would agree with. People in various times and places would tell you that government office-holders have power due to the Divine Right of Kings, or the Mandate of Heaven, or would simply describe governments as bandits who have settled down in place. You could come up with similar counterexamples for the statement about religious and economic office-holders.

I could go on, but if the paper fails such basic sanity-checking I don't see much point.


fugupinkeye t1_ja9vhq3 wrote

Considering half the people in my country lose their minds every other election when the other side wins, can you imagine our leaders also mandating your ethics?