@tom – I don’t think it’s possible to make such a fine value judgement of the outcome. At most, we can only describe the situation as it is. It’s good that in the long term, slavery was abolished. It’s regrettable that this came at the cost of 750,000 lives. Each loss is regrettable. Was each loss necessary? That’s probably something we can evaluate morally. Obviously, an unnecessary death is a bad thing. Is it worth losing lives in order to abolish slavery? Probably, since many more lives are saved in the process.
“On this framework you can build just about the entire edifice of morality.”
– I should reconsider this. It’s cooperation and interdependence that is responsible for the evolution of human morality in both its small group and large group incarnations. This framework that Jesus described is the basis of present day, everyday ethics, including human rights. Very often, the large-group morality of culture and religion can directly contradict the basic rules of human ethics, leading good people to do bad things.