171 days until classes start.
With respect to finishing the long paper, "Morality from the Ground Up," I am on page 31 of 37 in editing. I am in good shape to meet my objective of having this paper formatted and posted by the end of this weekend - even though I will be ROBBED of a whole hour with this daylight savings time absurdity.
At which point I will begin the paper, "Racism and the Immorality of Moral Sentamentalism". Technically, the class syllabus says that the papers are due on May 11.
On this issue of the dispute between rationalism and sentimentalism, I have had a question about the use of "atresia" or "amoralist" as an argument in this debate.
The idea is that it is conceptually possible for somebody to hold that an action is wrong and not be at all moved to perform that action. Is this true or false? Philosophers often refer to David Hume's "sensible knave" - the person who judges that he can obtain some benefit through an immoral act (e.g., murder), who knows murder is immoral, but who feels no reluctance to murder.
Something that I always see clouding this discussion is the possibility of a person who simply has a desire to do the right thing.
Somebody with such a desire will always be moved to do what he judges to be the right thing, but this does not imply that he looks at what he is moved to do to determine what he judges to be right.
Consider, for example, a person with a desire to please God. Such a person will always be moved to do that which he believes would please God. However, this does not imply that he uses what he is moved to do to determine what pleases God. This may be a very common practice. That is to say, we may discover that people look to their own motivation to determine the best interpretation of scripture and, through that, to determine what God commands. Yet, regardless of how widespread this practice is, it still would not follow that what God commands is necessarily that which one discovers one is motivated to do.
In other words, it is not just the conceptual possibility of the sensible knave that the internalist has to worry about. The internalist also has to worry about the possibility of the true moral externalist - the person who has a desire to do the right thing (and, thus, is always moved to do what he thinks is right), but who judges what is the right thing to do from an external source. The moral internalist has to deal with the conceptual possibility of the pious who is always motivated to obey God, but does not look to his motivation to determine what God wants. He must deny the conceptual possibility of the act utilitarian who has a desire to do that which is right, and judges what is right according to what maximizes utility.
Imagining the sensible knave may be quite difficult in a community where people generally do have a desire to do the right thing (or an aversion to doing that which is wrong). However, I do not find it nearly as difficult to imagine the truly devout individual or the sincere act-utilitarian who has a desire to do the right thing (or an aversion to doing that which is wrong), but who looks at something other than their own motivation to decide what the right (or wrong) thing is.
It does not help to point out that the morality of doing what is right is determined by sentiment - the desire to do what is right - because it has no content. A person who has a desire to do that which is right without knowing what is right is like a person looking for a kalmot without knowing what a kalmot is. It does this person no good to define "kalmot" in terms of what the agent is looking for.
Thursday, March 09, 2017
171 days until classes start.
Posted by Alonzo Fyfe at 10:18 AM