virus: Virus Ethics (sins and virtues)

David McFadzean (
Thu, 16 Nov 1995 12:50:19 -0700

The arguments we have been having recently over moral issues such as welfare
and capital punishment are perhaps due to the lack of an ethical framework
on which to base our positions. Virus must provide such a framework in order
to succeed as a religion. One of the more virulent memes in western culture
is the idea of virtues and sins. Though obviously not complete, they do
provide a basis for further discussion. So here for the first time in print:
Virtues and Sins according to Virus. [Thanks to Deron Stewart for comments
on an earlier version.]

--- The 3 Virian Virtues ---

No other system of thought in history has proven more effective. If truth is
the goal, rationality is the way. A good Virion will endeavor to hold a
consistent set of beliefs and act in accordance with those beliefs. Think
critically, act rationally.

If anything, the ability to see from another's perspective is what sets humans
apart from the rest of the animals. It is the basis of many of the qualities
that we hold in highest regard: kindness, charity, mercy, welfare, forgiveness.
Far from being irrational, empathy confers a distinct advantage in any social
situation. It provides a foundation for promises, contracts, and deals. To a
large extent it is the glue that binds society.

Vision is the name I give to the quality of possessing a perspective that goes
well beyond the individual in terms of space and time. All too often people make
perfectly rational decisions which turn out to be <bad> because they were framed
with too limited a scope. They fail to consider the real consequences (meaning)
of their actions.

--- The 3 <something> Sins ---
(we need a good descriptor here for some alliteration)

Through some twist of fate western society has come to regard faith as a virtue.
To hold an idea as true despite all evidence to the contrary is an abdication
of reason. Convictions are the end of knowledge, not the beginning; they are the
enemy of truth more than lies.

There can be no logical argument against apathy. If you don't care about
anything then that is pretty much the end of the story. If you don't care about
leading a meaningless life, then surely apathy is the key.

Our beliefs are expressed through our behaviour, most explicitly through speech
acts (e.g. "It's going to rain tomorrow."), but they also underlay every action
we commit. When our actions reflect inconsistent beliefs we are guilty of
hypocrisy. Although unavoidable to some extent (there is simply not enough time
to consciously check each action and its consequences against every belief
before executing it), every effort should be made to avoid major
because they undermine our values, goals and plans. Often hypocrisy goes
unnoticed because the connections between beliefs and actions are subtle. How
many of us would denounce animal testing yet at the same time not think twice
about taking medicine? That is why we must constantly examine and re-evaluate
our behaviour and the beliefs it reflects.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Merak Projects Ltd.