virus: Normativity

Wed, 25 Jun 1997 23:23:10 -0700

Eric asked what memetics can tell us about how and what we ***should***
communicate. The answer is, "Nothing." Memetics isn't a normative
theory. Memetics no more tells us what we ***should*** do than does
physics or statistics. Memetics is a tool that can be combined with a
variety of goals, motivations, and guiding moral principals, and the
conclusions we reach concerning what we ***should*** do after looking at
a situation through the lens of memetics will vary greatly depending
upon which normative theory we select to use in conjunction with

Prof Tim had some great things to say about how he used to leave a wake
of shattered worldviews, but now he finds himself exercising increasing
caution and choosing his crusades with care. Is it a knowledge of
memetics that motivated this new reserve, or is it the accumulated
wisdom that comes from seeing backfire after backfire and reassessing
the value of being compassionate as compared to the value of being

An alternate form of the question that may be worth examining is, what
normative theory should Church of the Virus adherents adopt for use with
memetics in reaching decissions about which memes we ***should***

Take care. -KMO