Predicting how “good vs evil” will continue to evolve Part 2: Intro to the Morality Map

This is the second part of a 3 part series. You can read the other parts here;

Part 1: Two types of morality

Part 2: Introducing the Morality Map

Part 3: Shape of things to come

Given what we uncovered in Part 1, I thought it would be interesting to create a potential solution space of morality based on different societies’ views on two moralities discussed.

To start with, here is a blank chart that shows the solution space that exists for societal morality. With two axes that correspond to the different moralities discussed.

A few caveats while reading the graph

As a next step, let’s see if we can fill out the four corners to give us guideposts of what is possible.

The following archetypes emerge:

A (bottom-left): kleptocratic morality-heavy system: This seems like it would be one of the worst places on the map. Unfortunately, it is also the type of society that has been most prevalent throughout human history.

This corner is categorized by a ruling elite that is very fearful of losing their status & will do anything to keep power within themselves. While there are many ways for the ruling elite to get their way (e.g., threat of punishment, reward for allegiance etc.), a morality-based propaganda machine is a very effective tool in the elite arsenal.

It is tough to ward of physical attacks by the elites, but even harder to do so with attacks on one’s moral make-up.

Of all the corners drawn — this is one with historic precedence behind it. The other corners are still a theoretical construct (more helpful in our understanding than representing a potential reality).

B (bottom-right): Activism gone wild: The first of our purely theoretical spaces on the map.

This corner is perfect for citizens whose empathy & connection with the outside world is especially strong — i.e., they can easily empathize and feel the pain of others.

What makes this corner paradoxical is that it is uncommon to have so much empathy for others while also being quite insecure about surviving and thriving (often symptomized as being stressed out by some major catastrophe that is always just around the corner).

I’m sure you can think of some activists you know who are like this. People for whom exploitation of a very specific type is unbearable & an attack on their own personhood.

In its extreme form (bottom right corner), an entire society that behaved like this would be an overly bureaucratic place with a plethora of legal and moral norms aimed at protecting almost everything there is to protect.

Sounds like a rule-based nightmare but at least their hearts would be in the right place.

C (top-left): bastion of libertarianism: The second of our theoretical spaces, this is where (I suspect) many libertarians would feel right at home.

Again, a bit of a paradox because on the one hand the inhabitants of this corner do not have any moral hangups related to original sin morality as they feel secure in their ability to survive — it is thus natural they prioritize personal freedom & expression over all other things.

On the other, they also only care about themselves & their tribes. I.e., freedom for non-similar people doesn’t really occupy their minds much. In other words, non-similar people’s suffering takes a back seat to their (or their tribes’) personal freedoms

D (top-right): Society of enlightened saints — The final corner of our map. This again is a theoretical place — a society full of people who have faith in their ability to survive AND who feel a strong connection with the world.

This is the natural meeting point of the twin values of freedom & empathy. I’m not sure if societies will ever reach here, but (fortunately) it does seem to be where progress is constantly pushing us.

While these four archetypes represent the extremes, they are not realistic. Rather, highlighting the extremes can help us familiarize ourselves with the Morality Map.

Let’s now turn our attention to more realistic trajectories on this map. This is what we do in Part 3



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Vichar Mohio

Writing about topics I find interesting & original. Usually a mix of philosophy, evolutionary psychology & technology