It depends on what absolute you are claiming. It is absolutely wrong to murder, but not all killing is murder (for instance). My absolutism does not deny that situations can be messy and complicated, it simply claims that there is always an answer to moral questions, even if the answer is occasionally hard to figure out. I don't claim that the answer is always easy, but I do claim that it always exists.

You know what this makes me think about? The problem in computer science known as the

*halting problem* -- which in turn is related to algorithmic

correctness. The question is, "Given a known algorithm and a known set of inputs, will the algorithm end and spit out an answer, or will it run forever?"

Mr. Tweedy, correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to discern morality as a form of algebra. Given a set of inputs, there is always a consistent transformation possible which returns a morally correct answer. This algebra, while it may be non-trivial at times, is complete and computable with the resources available to us. Some part of our minds can be treated as moral

Turing machines, processing what we see in the world and telling us the moral thing to do -- which we may or may not actually do, because we have other competing incentives beyond our moral calculators.

Is this a fair characterization of your position?

If it is, and if the analogy to formal logic is fully applicable, then I have to question your faith. Alan Turing formally proved in 1936 that there is no general answer to the halting problem. You cannot come up with an process that will work on

*every* algorithm and prove whether or not it will end and give you an answer; much less prove that that answer was correct. Sure, you can come up with trivial cases -- I could write a one-line program that will always end and return "5," and another that will always be an infinite loop -- but it is not possible to write code that can look at

*any* code you ever give it and say "Yes, this program will always return an answer" or "There are cases in which this program will keep spinning."

This was the first of the great problems in computer science that was proven to be undecidable. Since then many others have come to light -- usually proven undecidable because they can be reduced to a form of the halting problem.

My question for you, Mr. Tweedy, is this. Given that formal logic -- which is rigorous, knowable, and can be communicated without ambiguity -- has problems in it which are known to be undecidable, and problems for which it is impossible to determine whether an answer is even possible... Why do you feel that moral problems always halt? What is your proof of this?

I will not at this time ask you to address the even bigger question, which is "Given a postulate that moral problems always return an answer, how do you prove the correctness of that answer?" That would be a little unfair, and I'm throwing this thread too far aside already. I'm just wondering if you can offer a convincing argument in defense of your assertion that an answer is always returned.