Meta-morality is morality turned back on itself. Morality says what’s good or bad, or what’s right or wrong. Meta-morality says what morals are good or bad (also see: ethics).

I’ve been thinking about some meta-morals that might just be universal (or nearly so):

Good morals:
1. Are useful. They tell you something about the world. They contain information.
2. Are transferable. Morals are memes. To work well, then need to work for more than just you.
3. Are non-contradictory. Within a moral system, the morals should work well together, even re-enforce each other.
4. Are “smooth.” An approximation of the moral should be better than no moral at all.

Since meta-morals are really morals themselves, I would expect them to apply to themselves. Therefore, I would expect 1-4 to be useful (they help us judge whether a moral is good or not), transferable (other people would accept them as true), non-contradictory, and even my approximation (best guess) above should be better than nothing. All of these tests appear to be true to me, so for now I judge them as being good meta-morals. (Note: Meta-Moral 1 is used to bootstrap the whole process. This may be Utilitarianism.)

Open questions:
* Do morals exist outside of human societies?
* Are there a finite number of meta-morals required to create a useful moral system?
* Can the meta-morals be formalized?

One Response to “Meta-morality”

  1. a broken thought » Blog Archive » Right, Wrong, and the Law Says:

    […] my continuing effort to understand morality, I’ve done some thinking about the relationship between morals and laws. Far too often people […]

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