This post is a follow up to A Brief Introduction to Desire Fulfillment, as promised, just it was not a day later :-) Sorry about that, I have been busy moving but plan to update my blog more regularly from now on.
The underlying theme of this blog is to identify, reduce and prevent double standards, this being one of the main problems I see across all societies. There are two aspects to this, the first is the direct effect it has on different segments of a society's citizens, which is a residue of discrimination and worse, that has existed throughout human history. The second aspect is that fighting these double standards that still exist absorbs a huge amount of time of bloggers and opinion makers, time that could be better spent on dealing with all the other real-world challenges that are not so easily - theoretically - fixable.
Now this is an ethical stance and is this a problem? One can take a single issue, as a particularist, and look for any sound and valid justification for the proposed or actual double standard, where each situation and it relevant arguments can stand on its own. The common connection between these situations is that the arguments are, hopefully, logical and empirical and intended, if successful, to debunk any false justifications for such standards. Still it is another step to recommend or prescribe what is to be done. Based on the lack of justification for such standards, is it just my opinion that this should be changed or can one do better than that? Surely if the argument for such double standards - existing or new ones - are false, then it is unethical to make them, and those who do are to be condemned? Following Hare, such an ethical judgment is universally prescriptive so that, arguably, a double standard is, by definition, immoral and the reasoning behind condemning these is entirely logical. The ethical imperative is therefore - at this point of discussion - "don't endorse double standards without sound and valid justification".
The Problem with Enlightenment 2.0
I have also been reviewing the Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0 lecture series and noticed that even with, or because of, the than many different disciplines represented there, there still is much confusion and dispute over ethics and values and how this relates to Enlightenment thinking in the 21st century. Now I have not finished reviewing that series, which I plan to, but even so, it is clear, based on audience questions - including the future speakers I have not yet reviewed - that there is no real consensus on these issues, certainly at least given the otherwise mostly empirical focus of this lecture series. What I started writing yesterday will not resolve those types of issues at that level - yet.
As a naturalist, specifically for our purposes here only a methodological one, I have wondered about an equivalent empirical basis to ethics to that of science. This would be an approach that would best - in terms of eliminate errors and minimize mistakes - and provide an epistemologically objective analysis of the facts. The main barrier to this has been Hume's Is-ought problem and, as a consequence of this, science is only descriptive not prescriptive. If this is so , then we can still be left the (non-moral) facts of the matter and logic as as in Universal Prescriptivism in order to proceed anyway. However I wonder if we can do better than that. Another objection to such an approach is primarily from Moral Relativism , specifically Normative Relativism - that one cannot judge other societies by one's own standards, that there is no "privileged" standard to judge others, that such an approach is absolutist and dogmatic and so on and so forth. There are many issues here but if it were the case that there is, in fact, some form of moral objectivity then these emotive objections fail. More relevantly these are objections to a straw man for the any solution that I am looking for that is compatible with methodological naturalism. There is much here that will be explored in future posts.
Anyway in my searching I have looked at and discarded many approaches, the ones that did appeal, included R.M. Hare's Universal Prescriptivism, J. L. Mackie's error theory and James Griffin's Informed Desire Fulfillment - all can be considered within the broad framework of Preference Satisfaction. Still I had issues with all of these that did not compel me over a simpler Proscriptive Golden Rule and Sophisticated Tit-for-Tat approach. However the conjunction of reviewing the Enlightenment 2.0 series together with critically examining Alonzo Fyfe's Desire Utilitarianism - who also was the catalyst in my choosing to review the Enlightenment 2.0 itself - has led me to take this further step as in my last post.
Well my time is almost up for this post. I wanted to note that I attempted to write the previous post without using any of the typical moral terminology - "moral speak" as I call it. There were no "good", "bad", "oughts" and so on. I did not quite succeed as there are "recommend" and, arguably, "interest". "Encourage" and "discourage" are of course prescriptive to but not usually considered part of "moral speak". Anyway I will explore this ethically natural and moral realist approach in future posts both writing, quite deliberately, to a non-technical audience, as well as dealing with some of the more technical issues. This deliberate approach is reflective of another stance in this blog, translated here that if one needs to study moral philosophy in order to be ethical we are all in a lot of trouble!
Blogged with the Flock Browser