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 Mar 1999

Is MoQ more ethical than SOM? Why?

Replace '=' with new Quantonic font

(18Aug1999 edit PDR)

Is MoQ more ethical than SOM?

To start, allow us to bottom-line Pirsig's answer(s) from Lila,

"The Metaphysics of Quality says that if moral judgments are essentially assertions of value and if value is the fundamental ground-stuff of the world, then moral judgments are the fundamental ground-stuff of the world. It says that even at the most fundamental level of the universe, static patterns of value and moral judgment are identical. The 'Laws of Nature' are moral laws." Page 156 of 410, Lila. And, "When inorganic patterns of reality create life the Metaphysics of Quality postulates that they've done so because it's 'better' and that this definition of 'betterness'—this beginning response to Dynamic Quality—is an elementary unit of ethics upon which all right and wrong can be based." Page 157 of 410, Lila.

Students of Quantonics, please note Pirsig's "...upon which all right and wrong can be based." He did n¤t say, "right or wrong!" Here, his use of and is a use of Value as an included~middle. Pirsig's "and," here is quantum~superpositive (substitute right and wrong in that graphic for truth and uncertainty). It is n¤t dialectically conjoint! Pirsig is breaking Hume's Law by showing us that right and wrong can subjectively, qualitatively bridge fact and Value when we view "and" quantumly (QELRed as "amd") as superposing pure DQ, pure waves of change phase~mixing one another with and as evolvings of SQ: DQvSQ! Doug - 24Jun2008.

We know that Pirsig's MoQ defines reality as Dynamic Quality v Static Quality,
R = DQvSQ or

(Now we know an Aristotelian 'equals' assumes R, DQ, and SQ are classical objects. Classical objects are stable. They do not change stochastically.
MoQ reality is like quantum reality which changes stochastically.)


(We replace '=' with a non-Aristotelian stochastic symbol, i.e.,
a Quantonic-equal sign,
and assume R, DQ, and SQ are stochastic quantons or quantum objects!)

In words, MoQ reality is DQ in interrelationships with SQ.

When DQ creates SQ, SQ becomes reality's moral judgment. When DQ changes SQ, the changed SQ becomes reality's newest, revised moral judgment. SQ's beginning response to DQ at each unit of change is ethical behavior. SQ v DQ, for each (quantum) unit of ethical behavior Values the interrelationship preconditions (as residuals) from its previous unit of ethical behavior and chooses, ethically, a next ethical unit of behavior.

If all you want is a short, sweet, purely MoQ answer — that's it. However, if you want to see how SOM does it, and an example of SOM's naïveté in asserting anthropocentric ethical principles, proceed.

If you look in a dictionary for a definition of ethic or ethics you will see something like this:

  1. "a. A set of principles of right conduct. b. A theory or a system of moral values.
  2. ethics The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
  3. ethics The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language,
Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.

If we look in our encyclopedia we find this on ethics:

"ethics (èth´îk), in philosophy, the study and evaluation of human conduct in the light of moral principles, which may be viewed as the individual's standard of conduct or as a body of social obligations and duties. Theories of conscience have ascribed the moral awareness of right and wrong to divine will; to an innate sense (e.g., J.J. ROUSSEAU); or to the set of values derived from individual experience (e.g., LOCKE and MILL). Idealists such as PLATO have contended that there is an absolute good to which human activities aspire. Moral codes have frequently been based on religious absolutes, but KANT's categorical imperative attempted to set up an ethical criterion independent of theological consideration. The source of an ethical criterion has been variously equated with religion, the state (e.g., HEGEL and MARX), or the good of the individual or a group (as in the HEDONISM of EPICURUS; HOBBES; and the UTILITARIANISM of BENTHAM). Modern ethical theories include the instrumentalism of John DEWEY, for whom morality is relative to individual experience; and the intuitionism of G.E. MOORE, who postulated an immediate awareness of the morally good. More recently, Alasdair MacIntyre has cautioned against unbridled individualism and drawn on ARISTOTLE's notion of moral virtue as the mean between extremes, and Thomas Nagel has held that reason supersedes desire in moral decision making and that it is rational to choose altruism over narrow self-interest."

The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia is licensed from Columbia University Press.
Copyright © 1995 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

As a student of MoQ, you must remember definitions like those above are written in SOM formal language using SOM formal definitions. SOM defines each word in terms of SOM's conventional philosophical foundation. SOM's foundation affects basally how we think. We will see many outcomes of those basal affects below in our example of a contrived set of SOM ethics (Resnik's Principles of Ethics).

As a reminder then, let us review some differences between MoQ's and SOM's philosophical foundations.

ITEM MoQ vis-à-vis SOM
1. Value over truth Truth over value
2. Change is absolute Truth is absolute
3. Both global and local value over global or local truth Global truth over global or local value
4. Global cohesion/interrelationships Global control/consensus (Borg!)
5. Reality is both unknown and known Reality is both objective and known 
6. Value over Principles Principles over Value
7. Excellence is good and local duty first Right is truth and duty to group first
8. Change is intrinsic ethical behavior Reason is innate ethical behavior
9. Actuality is intrinsic ethical judgment Truth is innate ethical judgment

If one considers our partial list of comparisons above, one may choose to distill our nine concepts. Using this author's perspective, we may distill both SOM and MoQ to one-liners:

  • SOM distills to: A monolithic, global, totalitarian cathedral of control.
  • MoQ distills to: An open and cohesive bazaar of networked local autonomies.

Now we have some foundation, and we may continue our discussion of our March, 1999 Quantonic Question, "Is MoQ more ethical than SOM?" And, "Why?"



 Mar 1999,


Is MoQ more ethical than SOM? Why?


Look at SOM first. SOM philosophy tells us communal ethics — one set of ethical principles — fits all sentients and may be determined absolutely, for all time.

Then look at MoQ. MoQ philosophy tells us each locally autonomous entity may choose its own local ethics, and realize those ethics will evolve over time.

We think it is remarkably clear MoQ is more ethical than SOM. Why? For one thing, SOM assumes ethics may be assessed and established based on dialectic, i.e., rational thought - SOM logic. SOM confuses morality and politics with truth and thus uses logical dialectic to discuss them.

MoQ sees morality and politics as rhetorical issues, whose ethics (goodness) may be assessed, but not whose truthfulness may be assessed. Elsewhere on this site, we disclose abundantly SOM logic's many ills. Also, SOM assumes logically and rationally a monolithic control group (state, church, union, corporation, etc.) may reasonably decide and impose codes of ethics for all its members.

MoQ assumes ethics begin with both individual excellence and network cooperation. MoQ assumes a network of individuals striving and evolving toward personal excellence and concomitant holistic excellence of its local network. MoQ assumes Value excellence is more ethical than a few members of a group deciding objective, global ethics for all.

Garn LeBaron recently allowed us to publish his paper, The Ethics of Euthanasia, on our Quantonics web site. You may want to see particularly, a portion of his paper where he uses Pirsigean MoQ Ethics as a candidate solution for ethical considerations surrounding an issue of euthanasia.

Also, recently we found an example which illustrates our concerns about SOM's approach to ethics. A professor at a university in Michigan, USA decided to teach students about ethics. He chose philosopher and ethicist David Resnik's set of Principles and Ethics to teach to his class.

Allow us, for our own local purposes here, to assume Resnik's underlying de facto philosophy is classical SOM, or one of SOM's ISM derivatives. Assuming his SOM legacy, we can construct a straw man of Resnik's Principles of Ethics, and we can look at each of his principles and feign SOM logic and rational thought to restate his principles and perhaps expose what he may be saying.

According to Resnik,

one should - Resnik's Principles of Ethics Resnik's Apparent SOM Assumptions.
  "not harm others needlessly (the non-maleficence principle);
  • harm - one may assess a level of harm for all, or individually
  • need - one may assess a level of need for all, or individually
  "promote the welfare of others (the beneficence principle);
  • promote - one may distinguish promotion versus demotion for all, or individually
  • welfare - one may assess a level of welfare for all, or individually
  "allow rational people the right to self-determination (the principle of autonomy);
  • rational - one knows what is rational versus not, and may assess individual or group rationality
  • people - one knows ethics apply to people
               - one may distinguish rational people
  • right - one may assess what is right (i.e., true) for all, or individually
  • autonomy - one may assess all others' levels of autonomy and achievement of self-determination
  "treat equals as equal (the formal principle of justice);
  • equal(s) - one may assess a level of equality for all, or individually
  • justice - one may assess a level of justice based on equality for all, or individually (i.e., law based on SOM truth)
  "distribute goods on the basis of need or merit (the material principle of justice)."
  • distribute - one may assess who, what, where, when, why, and how goods may be distributed
  • merit - one may assess a level of merit for all, or individually

If you are a SOMite, and assuming Resnik is of a classical persuasion, the above principles and their SOM assumptions appear entirely reasonable, even noble. Resnik, in his (we presume) SOM realm, appears noble and enlightened. He is saying that you may apply his Principles of Ethics to your daily life and work decisions to successfully adhere and guarantee an ethical path.

But with a little MoQ morphing of your mental mush, and a few well-directed questions, one may see naïve ludicrousness in Resnik's Principles of Ethics. OK, let us just ask some simple questions:

1. For each SOM assumption listed above, what happens when you replace 'one' with 'who' and change each assumption into a question? Now, list your answers.
2. Does it matter who 'who' is? Is 'who' divine, mortal, individual, a group?
3. Does it matter what cultural context 'who' is in?
4. Do 'who's' assessments apply to all cultures? All people?
5. Do 'who's' assessments apply to just people, or all living things, all things, or things universal or divine?
6. Who decides?

Here we see one of SOM's great weaknesses. SOM assumes one global truth in one global context. How else could Resnik write down such a list of principles? Clearly, SOM manifests intrinsic ineptness dealing with multiple contexts. Why? SOM assumes reality is a single context. That is how SOMites garner Babel like Resnik's "principles."

If you are a student at a university, is this a level of education you want to pay for? Do you want to attend a university where its administration claims objective rationality? Does it make you wonder how universities assess Quality? That is Pirsig's BIG question. He told us, almost four decades ago, our Western educational system has a problem — a basic problem of philosophy. Apparently we still do.

As an observant and persistent reader, you might say, "Well SOM is not our only Western philosophy today." To wit, we agree. Another major Western philosophy today is cultural relativism. Cultural relativism (CR) tells you your ethics may be whatever you want them to be. Your ethics are up to you, independent of your network and interrelationships within your network. If that is what you want, go for it.

From our own MoQ perspective neither SOM nor CR are acceptable philosophically ethical foundations for our entry into Western culture's third millennium. We need something better, and we propose Pirsig's MoQ or something like it.

But guess what, reader? Does this Babel stop? Does it decline? Nope! We just see more and more of it. Our most recent 19Nov99 issue of AAAS' Science journal just arrived. Their editorial, A Hippocratic Oath for Scientists, is by Sir Joseph Rotblat. Rotblat is calling for Resnikian ethics too. He quotes a pledge by USA's Student Pugwash Group,

"I promise to work for a better world, where science and technology are used in socially responsible ways. I will not use my education for any purpose intended to harm human beings or the environment. Throughout my career, I will consider the ethical implications of my work before I take action. While the demands placed upon me may be great, I sign this declaration because I recognize individual responsibility is the first step on the path to peace." (Our color and italics.)

Repeating our queries above, who decides what is "socially responsible?" Who decides what is "harm?" Is it ethical to harm animals? Is it ethical to abort fetuses? Does it "...harm humans..." to insist they all abide a single ethical system? Who decides what are "ethical implications?" Does this mean people in a good old USA can decide what is ethical for all nations? Does one ethical system fit all? Can we make our whole globe adhere one social/ethical system? Is universe next? Are we going to impose our ethics on Alpha Centaurians? What about ethical diversity? Are Rotblat and Resnik saying we do not want ethical diversity? Apparently. Isn't that equivalent to saying one ethical 'God' fits all? If not, please explain... Would they deny fellow humans their ethical freedom? Probably Resnik would. Rotblat too.

(To really put Rotblat in a proper perspective, consider he is a 'Sir,' he is emeritus professor of physics(!) at University of London, and a 1995 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.)

It amazes us to see inane SOM Boole like this published in an exemplary science journal.

So now we have another example of how...

SOM's anthropocentric ethics are inane static Babel. CR's anthropocentric ethics are sheer chaos.

MoQ's ethics not only are better than SOM's; they are better than CR's too! MoQ's ethics are reality's most highly evolving ecomixture of DQvSQ. MoQ offers a DQ-SQ ethical-reality dance, i.e.,


evolving simultaneously both cohesively and autonomously, ubiquitously, continuously, and omnivalently.

Thanks for reading,




Definition - Innate: Here, we mean a classical concept as axiomatic to a philosophy. A concept is designed in, anthropocentrically, as philosophical genetic code. (SOM appeals to humanism and anthropocentrism.)

Definition - Intrinsic: Here, we mean a comcept/meme as natural, part of an underlying reality which its philosophy attempts to describe. (MoQ appeals to an undifferentiated (quantum isocohesive) isoflux isocontinuum, a nonactuality, a nonapparent nonphysical space (e.g., Vacuum Energy Space, Quantum Vacuum Flux, Zero Point Flux/Energy, etc.), something greater than itself.)


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©Quantonics, Inc., 1999-2026 Rev. 15Sep2014  PDR — Created 15Apr1999  PDR
(8May2000 rev - Revised 'Intrinsic' definition to a more quantum definition.)
(8Mar2001 rev - Add link to our new MoQ, CR, & SOM comparison table.)
(29Mar2001 rev - Update page bottom def's of 'innate' and 'intrinsic' for heuristic and Quantonic lingual currency.)
(13Nov2001 rev - Add Philosophical Capability and SOM Box links.)
(15Jan2002 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker. Reformat top of page title.)
(8May2002 rev - Link top of page 'MoQ' and 'SOM' to acronyms. Reformat some colors.)
(8May2002 rev - Link 1st occurrence of 'Aristotelian' to our Aristotle Connection.)
(8May2002 rev - Link 1st occurrence of 'quanton' to our Quanton Primer.)
(7Feb2004 rev - Add cell padding.)
(1Jan2006 rev - Adjust colors.)
(6Apr2007 rev - Adjust format. Fix a typo.)
(11Jul2007 rev - Correct a misspelling of 'mal[i]ficent' to 'maleficient.' Thanks to observant reader...)
(24Jun2008 rev - Reformat page. Add red text paragraph update near page top.)
(15Sep2014 rev - Adjust colors. Make page current. Add 'Quantonics Equal Sign' anchor.)