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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Can you derive Ought from Is?

Sean Carroll says nonsense


Thai said...


Thai said...

I obviously agree with Carrol

I do think common values are necessary however for society to function

Dr John said...

I would agree with his premise that there is a right and wrong way to promote "human flourishing" if you will. The problem is that given a tremendous number of economic, climate, geographic, resource and cultural variables it is not always clear as to what the best way to promote that is.

I find his proposition of attempting to settle this by riding on the back of the science wagon wholly unconvincing. On some very limited level, this is at first certainly appealing and even seems plausible. Why can we not study these things and in the end come up with answers as we do with any scientific endeavor? The most obvious problem is that the scientific approach leads us to new "truths" about the world.We are supposed to start off not knowing what the answer will be.

He seems to want to go backwards. He knows the answer and wants to use a misguided application of "science" to tell him what he already knows. This reminds me of the grossly misguided attempts by psychiatry to find a biologic marker for homosexuality. If they found a gene for it 30 years ago it would have proved it was a "disease". If they found one today it would be used to prove it is nothing more than "genetic variation". Psychiatry is a microcosm of the kind of flawed thinking he expresses.

When the host asks him if he will re-evaluate his thinking on "love" if it is found that the scan of a man who demands his daughter be wrapped in a burka is the same as a man like him who loves his daughter in a traditional western enlightened manor, he back pedals and starts stammering about delusions as if this really is just a mental illness and people can be deluded as to what real love is. Such a deluded state he implies is sickness.

I have no doubt there is a right and wrong way to live. The golden rule works quite nicely. I do not need science to reveal this to me. Those who do are not interested in what science could even tell them on this issue, which is not much.

Thai said...


I get very very nervous when people use the name of science to "answer" moral judgments the already know the result they are looking for.

While I would certainly expend tremendous amounts of societal resources to stop a father from killing his daughter simply because she was rapped, Harris never once asks what the moral logic of such an act might mean to this particular murderous parent.

And while such moral absolutism is as valid an approach as any other from some kind of absolute space-time reference, it is interesting Harris makes such as comment just minutes after also noting that sacrificing one's queen in the game of chess can make sense on occasion.

People like Harris scare me. To quote Bob Dylan: "sometimes Satan comes as a man of means"

I agree with Harris's point re: common rules as they clearly must exist. I certainly see how not all structures works with all others, but I strongly disagree with him when he pushes the lie that science can answer these questions for us.

Dr John said...

"There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him.'
Frederick Douglas

I do not know why this concept has escaped so many on this earth for most of human history. Is there something inherent in us which compels humans towards this end? I must suspect so.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits

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