Re: virus: Normativity

Eric Boyd (
Fri, 27 Jun 1997 00:26:46 -0500

KMO wrote:

> 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
> memetics.

Hmmm. You are right that a line "in theory" can be drawn between
memetics the "science" and memetics the "normative theory" I think it's
a fairly small line, though.


1) Memetics tells us that ideas will spread better if they are more
clearly stated. Clean langauge, simple vocabulary, and at least some
lip service to the gramatics conventions of the day...

That is the science

2) One wants ones meme's to spread

This is the normative step. Anyone want to argue with it?

Conclusion: 3) One should speak clearly.

All I'm saying is that while memetics is *not* a normative theory, the
actual act of turning it into one is usually "transparent", i.e. assumed
becuase it's so *obvious*.

> 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***
> propagate.

I don't think any decision needs to be made. Like the Church of
Freethought, I think the very act of saying that there are no
particualar meme's we would like to advance is well and good. All we
need to push is *ways of thinking *about* meme's* Rationality, thought
tools. "To travel is better than to arrive". Any definite answer to
any particualar question is always open for re-evaluation. The *way*
that one gets answers is *more*important* than the answers themselves.
Cast off the Chains of "Truth"! Freethought!

Of course, I don't have any control over the CoV or over the Church of
Freethought, so all this is just my position...