Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We Have Only Scratched The Surface

I was just reading Russell Blackford's review of Harris's "The Moral Landscape" as well as a Charles Pigden piece in Philosophy Now on Hume's is-ought gap (analytically valid vs. logically valid arguments) and realized we have only just begun to delve into the depths of moral philosophy. I can't decide at the moment if that's exciting or depressing.

Here's a quote from Blackford which gets to the crux of the my deductive problem:

"However, Harris reaches these conclusions only by offering what strikes me as a highly implausible and ultimately unsustainable account of the phenomenon of morality. That account does not seem necessary to reach his practical conclusions, or at least something very like them, but I fear that he’ll convince some readers otherwise. We can live with a more sophisticated view of morality than the one Harris offers while getting to a similar place in the end.

The problem lies in his insistence that moral judgments, such as “Lying in circumstances C is morally wrong,” are straightforwardly and determinately true or false in the same way as factual statements, such as “My breakfast mug contains coffee,” appear to be. We may tend to think of both kinds of statements in the same way, and it may be unsettling to realize that morality isn’t quite like that. If, however, as I’m convinced, it’s not, then we’d better try to get understand how and why it’s not, and whether there are any important practical implications. Unfortunately, Harris is impatient with all this, and often resorts to outright scorn in rejecting considerations that don’t fit with his position."

What worries me about religion is it offers easy, ready-made answers to complex problems. What keeps me awake at night is I don't have any answers. 

1 comment:

  1. I hope you're not losing too much sleep, because we have at least as many respectable answers as they have. And we have a more promising way of looking for the answers we don't have, as Sam says.