Entropy ethics

In hmolscience, entropy ethics is any of a number of views on how to live ethically based on entropy or the second law of thermodynamics.

In 1909, German physical chemist and radical atheist Wilhelm Ostwald, in his "Monistic Sunday Sermons", and related writings, was outlining an energetic imperative, with possible hues of entropy argument.

In 1971, George Miller, in his
Energetics, Kinetics, and Life, devoted a section to entropy and ethics, on what seems to be American physicist Robert Lindsay’s logic of the thermodynamic imperative. [1]

In 1977, American chemist Henry Bent discussed a second law based type of ethics, reasoning that instead of national energy policy advice urging people to conserve energy (whereas in Bent’s view energy is always conserved, according to the first law), what people do need is a “personal entropy ethic”. [2] In addition, over the course of the year, Bent went around American conducting entropy ethics workshops, discussing with students the commandment “thou shalt not unnecessarily create entropy”, among other topics. [3]
Entropy ethics (Reddit philosophy)
A 2015 Reddit philosophy thread (Ѻ), citing this article, on a discussion of Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? (Ѻ), citing and debating “entropy ethics” (this Hmolpedia article) and employing the "entropy only applies" argument, alongside one of Piero Scaruffi’s (Ѻ) webpages (Ѻ) on biology, i.e. a “self-organizing life as negative entropy” double ontic opening argument; wherein one poster sees entropy ethics as “reduction ad Hitlerum” (see also: atheism atrocities fallacy).

In 1985, American educator Dick Hammond published The Human System: from Entropy to Ethics, a book on the teaching of ethics in public schools based on the second law. In the 2005 fourth printing, Hammond states that the book arose from a wish by his mentor Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine who wanted entropy ethics to be taught to children all over the planet. [4] In short, Hammond argues that in the past religion functioned as an unquestionable guide for how to live ethically. In Christianity, for instance, the simplified rule was: act good and go to heaven, act bad and go to hell. In short, religions, according Hammond, “tell people how they ought to feel about each other, and offer some right and wrong behaviors in the realm of interpersonal relationships.” Yet, after religion was expelled from public school teaching, a trend that began in the early 19th century, tracing generally to the 1802 views on the separation of church and state by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, a void on the teaching of ethics was created. On this matter, Hammond states:

“[After] religions [were expelled] form public schools, out went instructions in ethics too, creating a void that we now have: what the entropy ethic can do for education is help fill that void.”

Whereas, in the past, according to Hammond, teenage students would "blindly follow the supernatural dogmatic system of belief", the issue now is to find a modern foundational basis of ethics. Hammond belives that such a foundation can be found in the nonequilibrium thermodynamics works of Prigogine.

In 2007, Angelo Letizia argued that ethics are used by humanity as a “bulwark against entropy.” [5]

1. Miller, George T. (1971). Energetics, Kinetics, and Life: an Ecological Approach (section 12-4: Entropy and Ethics: The Thermodynamic Imperative, pg. 328). Wadsworth Pub. Co.
2. Bent, Henry A. (1977). “Entropy and the Energy Crisis”, The Science Teacher, May, pgs 25-30.
3. NSF Chautaugua-Type Short Courses for College Teachers (Washington, D.C.: Office of Science Education, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fall, 1977.
4. Hammond, Dick K. (2005). The Human System from Entropy to Ethics. (pg. vii). Publisher: Dick Hammond.
5. Letizia, Angelo. (2007). The Battle for Existence (pg. 68). LuLu.com.
Further reading
● Massoudi, Mehrdad. (2016). “A Possible Ethical Imperative Based on the Entropy Law” (Ѻ), Entropy, Nov 3.

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