Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Do all people seek the good?

I was flipping back through the first few chapters of Moral Landscape to prepare for today's class, and found this quote. It's everything I was trying to say in our last class (re: all people wanting good but being deluded as to what it is) only more articulate.

"I am arguing that everyone also has an intuitive “morality,” but much of our intuitive morality is clearly wrong (with respect to the goal of maximizing personal and collective well-being). And only genuine moral experts would have a deep understanding of the causes and conditions of human and animal well-being.17 Yes, we must have a goal to define what counts as “right” or “wrong” when speaking about physics or morality, but this criterion visits us equally in both domains. And yes, I think it is quite clear that members of the Taliban are seeking well-being in this world (as well as hoping for it in the next). But their religious beliefs have led them to create a culture that is almost perfectly hostile to human flourishing. Whatever they think they want out of life—like keeping all women and girls subjugated and illiterate—they simply do not understand how much better life would be for them if they had different priorities."

ETA: Actually, now that I'm looking at it, that whole section that follows articulates a lot of what I have clumsily been trying to point out this semester. That's the bad thing about reading super smart people, you always get jealous you couldn't have said it that way. But I think Sam does an excellent job of addressing the fact that science really can't give itself any grounding or justify itself scientifically, while also making the excellent and to some very obvious argument that it's enormously useful regardless of that deficiency. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm still a little unclear on the deficiency in question. Those who don't already subscribe to an evidence-based worldview are resistant to the appeal of evidence, but whose deficiency is that?

    Alternatively, of course, we could say that those who don't already subscribe to faith are resistant to its appeal as well. Always a question of whose ox we're goring.