Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Conversation Topic 05: The Relevance of Moral Theory

I am away from my blog for a couple of weeks. This is an experiment in posting some conversation topics while I am gone.

The two questions to answer relevant to the statement below is are:

• Is it true?

• Is it important?

(5) If your moral theory requires that people be well versed in all aspects of the theory and to adopt it in order to do the right thing or be a good person, then there is something dreadfully wrong with one's moral theory.


Emu Sam said...

Some people seem to require a moral theory to be primarily prescriptive - that is, it should tell people what to do in all situations. Such a theory would require at least instinctive understanding at a very deep level to be useful in all situations. People who require prescription would call a primarily descriptive theory a social theory instead of a moral theory.

So, it is true in the most common usage of moral theory I encounter - that used on this blog. And since I should know you're using that particular definition, I shouldn't quibble over definitions unless we are talking about how to communicate better.

If people are arguing over something, then it's important to them and to those they affect to any great degree. If many people are arguing, then it probably becomes exponentially more important.

What if people weren't arguing, and we were trying to decide if they should? (5) does seem like an important hypothesis to test if, for instance, we wanted to produce a more moral society by teaching morals in schools. If (5) were false, it may indicate that such an addition to a curriculum would have less effect.

Eneasz said...

Hi. My two cents:

It is my experience that almost all moral "theories" are this way. I agree that makes them dreadfully flawed.

So I find the proposition true.

I also consider this important because, due to the overwhelming number of moral "theories" that are presented this way, most people believe that a moral theory is something that requires people to be well-versed in and adopted. And I think this dilutes and destroys the concept of theory, as it relates to morality. It contributes vastly to the feeling of subjectivism, that morality is what you adopt, and not an explanation of how humans interact. I'm not sure we, as a species, can advance much farther than we currently are until we recognize that a moral theory should be descriptive before it is proscriptive.

And this is a large part of why I think DU/Desirism is revolutionary and closer to correct than any other moral theory so far.