Posted by Michael Dickens on August 21, 2009
Similar to my post on the Political Compass, I am going to write about my opinion on the Moral Matrix. See my post on the Political Compass for an overview of my potential biases. One thing I like about the Moral Matrix is that it gives explanations for each question and answer.
Q: About God (whatever ‘God’ means for you.).
A: Religion should not exist.
Justification: Religion in its modern form (last millennium or so) has done great harm with things like the Crusades and the Inquisition. Any potential fulfillment out of religion can just as easily come from a different source. Of course, so can war, but we don’t need any more excuses to start wars.
Q: About ethnic groups.
A: All ethnic groups are equal.
Justification: This one was tricky, since it is not evolutionarily possible for all ethnic groups to be the same. But the explanation read “All ethnic groups are equally capable”, which I agree with.
Q: About cultures.
A: Some cultures are better than others.
Justification: This one was interesting as well. I was tempted to select “The better cultures should win”, i.e. ” ‘Successful’ cultures are superior and should be able to dominate less ‘successful’ ones.” But if you read The Selfish Gene, you’ll learn that the best cultures don’t always win: the stable ones do. And I believe that some cultures are more morally sound than others.
Q: About countries.
A: We are all citizens of the world.
Justification: National borders are essentially arbitrary. I believe that the best (though definitely not most stable) system for each individual is worldwide cooperation. As self-aware beings, it may be possible for humans to see beyond the selfish (i.e. stable) personal desires and understand that long-term sacrifices and cooperation are best for everyone.
Q: About lifestyles.
A: ‘Traditional’ lifestyles should be encouraged.
Justification: Apparently I get to define what ‘traditional’ lifestyles are, so I define them as lifestyles that are the most productive for society.
Q: About men and women.
A: Men and women are different, but equal.
Justification: The differences are concrete and real, but they are both necessary elements for a strong whole.
Q: About Nature.
A: Nature does not belong to us, we belong to Nature.
Justification: I do not like the wording of this answer, but I agree with it more than any of the other answers. Not all of nature is worth preserving except for selfish reasons, but certain species within nature are worthy of preservation. Beings capable of suffering should have their suffering minimized, and self-aware beings should not be harmed.
Q: About success.
A: Success is finding your inner self.
Justification: In the end, making yourself happy is the most important goal for success. Making a difference with other people is important as well, but due to our evolutionary roots, personal satisfaction frequently encompasses that.
Q: About business.
A: We should sanction businesses who don’t play by the rules.
Justification: Businesses are for the most part private and should not be interfered with, but should not be allowed to infringe upon the rights of others.
Q: About professional employment and advancement.
A: Work and discipline should pay off.
Justification: This works best with inherently selfish humans, while at the same time being productive.
Q: About education.
A: Everyone should have the opportunity to receive a great education.
Justification: This is the most fair to everyone.
Q: About health care.
A: You should get the health care you are ready to pay for.
Justification: Everyone has access to health care, but this prevents exploitation by the unemployed.
Q: About financial responsibility.
A: It should first be an individual responsibility.
Justification: Social safety nets are useful for when someone hits some bad luck, but for the most part people should be responsible for their own finances.
Q: About charity.
A: It should be an individual responsibility.
Justification: If charity is mandatory, then it is not charity.
Q: About domestic security (protection from crime).
A: We should have the right to defend ourselves.
Justification: The police are more effective than individuals at domestic security, but individuals should be able to defend themselves if necessary. The right to self-defense is a fundamental one that directly corresponds with the right to liberty.
Q: About respect of the Law.
A: We should eliminate the causes of crime.
Justification: It seems to me that punishment is completely pointless. There should still be a justice system in place in case a crime is committed, but the source of crimes should be eliminated as that will make society as a whole more healthy.