This is the third and final reply to Kip’s response to my original post to him Why Consider all Desires that exist? (My first reply was Why Consider others when you don’t need to? and my second reply was All desires versus affected desires)
Kip complains that
Apart from your list of reasons why a group might not consider the desires of another group, you just assert [them].As I said
The many answers bulleted above all fail as rational and empirical justifications for Group A’s practises.
Now I was implying that items on this bulleted list were based on fallacious reasoning. It is true I just asserted that in my original post, so here I will answer Kip’s challenge now.
The bullets I wrote are re-listed here, with an immediate off the cuff example of the type of fallacies I had in mind when I wrote this list:
- we do not need to consider their desires
- their desires cannot influence us, so we do not need to concern ourselves of those desires
- that is the way we always do (did) it
- we are stronger and can get a way with it
- we are more and can get away with it
- we have the law on our side
- we have God on our side
- their desires are not worthy of moral consideration
Begging the Question
Now the above is just a set of illustrative responses to Kip’s reasonable question. It is not mean to be exhaustive or accurate, just indicative of why I stated the bulleted list in the first place.
Further I am not denying that there can be some legitimate justifications, and already provided one in the original post, over the asbestos example. That was over a lack of present day knowledge that no reasonable person who took due care and precautions could, at that time, have known about. (Indeed, to criticise past decisions and moralities on this basis is another fallacy - hindsight bias). If and when there are such “moral” arguments, we can check to see if they are legitimate or not. Most, in my experience, are not.
Group A may have very many prudential reasons for ignoring the desires of Group B -- or perhaps they just don't have any prudential reasons to consider the desires of Group B. In other words, none of their desires will be fulfilled by considering the desires of Group B. Or, perhaps even, more of their desires will be thwarted by considering the desires of Group B.
When it comes to prudence, all the above listed bullets, with the examples of the type of fallacies they exhibit, come into play. Prudentially there is no reason not to use such rhetoric and sophistry to defend ones positions, especially to one’s peers who are looking for justification, any justification, in keeping the status quo.
This happens all the time and not just in issues of morality. Regardless, however prudentially rational it is to make those justifications, they are still theoretically irrational justifications.
Further whether the prudential defenders of such fallacies, (in cases only where it is clear they are fallacies, if you wish) accept these rational criticisms or not, that would be insufficient to make them change their desires. You cannot use reason to change desires only beliefs, and, only then, provided their desire to believe does not overwhelm desires for truth and reason, which these all too often do.
That, of course, is why we have the social forces of commendation and condemnation, honours and disgrace, rewards and penalties and so on, we have these to operate on modifying malleable desires (not just desires with moral implications but any and all). And Desirism serves as a check to ensure that what is promoted and inhibited is theoretically rationally grounded.
By having such rationally and empirically justified social forces coherently and consistently applied, these serve to change the desires people have, so there is no prudential sacrifice required, indeed the idea of sacrifice and making a decision between prudential and moral concerns would be meaningless. That is, in such an environment there would be no substantive difference between their prudential and moral values. This is an ideal and may never be fully achievable but it is a feasible target to aim at and is far better than what we have now.