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Part of the EmergentDemocracy discussion.

Democracy and Morality

David above muses as to ways "the various ways a democracy might be structured so that the decisions of the democracy as a whole will be smarter than the decisions that would be made if the wisest and best person living there were a benevolent dictator." On reflection, I don't think this is ever going to happen; I don't think it's possible, even theoretically. I don't think democracy is superior to governance by fiat of the wisest and best because it produces better or more efficient results, I believe that democracy is preferable because it is ethically and morally the more tenable position. This clearly takes us into areas of mores and values that are beyond debate, which I think explains some of the early hostility to ED: one either agrees with the preceding sentence or one does not, and no amount of "practical" argument is likely to sway someone for whom it does not ring true. -- AdamGreenfield

I agree in that democracy has the stronger moral position; I don't know why mores and values should be excempt from debate however. It all depends on the kind of debate. -- AlexSchroeder

Alex, I don't think debate has ever persuaded anyone from a deeply-felt moral position. These are things which tend to be inaccessible to logic and/or argumentation, and since any one of us has a limited amount of energy and life time to allocate, probably better to spend it where you can get some traction. -- AdamGreenfield

And yet, moral values change over time, society changes, fashion changes. I don't think these changes are random. People talk; they exchange opinions via newspapers and TV, blogs and gossip, by meeting in public spaces. "Debate" does not necessarily mean a confrontational face-to-face discussion with the aim of somebody changing their deeply-felt moral position. Perhaps "public debate" is a better term to use. I think that it is important to stand up to your values, explain your values, listen to other people do the same, argue and be argued with. If we don't do this, then society will be pulled appart by centrifugal forces. We need to reassert our common ground, our common values. We need to talk, because if we don't talk to each other, all we're left with is punching our respective noses. -- AlexSchroeder