Can Morality Mean Something Other Than Absolutist Morality?

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In explaining my Empowerment Ethics so far, I have talked about how my own philosophical thinking about morality did not start by assuming morality was true and valid and legitimately binding and then trying deliberately to rationalize it. Instead I put morality into philosophical doubt and saw whether it could be defended and derived from some external criteria outside of properly moral considerations themselves. Over time I thought it could. I’ll articulate my reasons for thinking so as I continue to go.

But before we go much further it is important to specify what I mean by the terms “morality” and “objectivity” when I use the terms. Different people mean different things by the term. I find there are a lot of people who agree with me in substance about a great many issues with respect to my theory of the nature of ethics and morality and yet refuse to say something like that there can be “objective morality”.

There are several reasons for this. Some people insist that the meaning of morality must be understood to mean an absolute and unchangeable set of rules that are universally binding on all people at all times. Some people are even inclined to think that it must override all consequentialist thinking about personal or even social benefits whatsoever. Morality must say “thou shalt” in an unequivocal way. And part and parcel with this view is the idea that we must all have some absolute reason to obey it. Others might further add that for morality to be true, the moral injunctions commonly thought to comprise it at present must be correct. And for morality to be objective or true it must be absolutely objectively true, absolutely objectively compelling, and maybe even the most commonly referenced moral rules (against murder, lying, and theft, for examples) must be absolute.

This is an extremely rigid view I am sketching out. Not everyone sees morality this way. And I am going to argue that it is irrational to hold moralities to such criteria in order to be either called moralities or to be seen as objective and true. Along the way, a number of posts will make these arguments.

Let me for now, spell out the most compelling reason I found not to define morality in such a way.

For one thing, this is a particular account of what idealized morality might be like. It is a particular set of answers to the deeper questions about morality. The deepest, most fundamental, and distinct question characteristic of morality, as far as I can see, is “Why must I ever do things that I do not want to do?” Are there any kinds of rules or practices or judgments that I must adhere to and do so even when I do not want to?

From a practical standpoint, this is the crux question. The only true and meaningful and decisive moral skepticism is this question. People tell other people to do things they do not want to do. Things that go against their feelings, wants, desires, preferences, goals, etc. And in reply the question is, “Why must I?”

Or sometimes it’s not one person telling another what they must do. It is a conflict within oneself. There is a rational notion or a feeling that one must do something mixed competing against other sides of oneself. Why must one follow the order and not that which conflicts with it?

Written By: Dan Fincke
continue to source article at secularite.com

43 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by ibelson1:

      Typical philospher spending as many words as possible to say absolutely nothing. He sets out with a goal to define morality and absolutism then does neither. What a waste of words.

      I agree. I think it’s stuff like this that give philosophy a bad name. Although I don’t think all philosophy is like that, but unfortunately I agree most of it is. Bertrand Russel for example or Wittgenstein, Daniel Dennett, or Chomsky are all IMO examples of philosophy that is substantive. I may not agree with them but the things they say are always coherent enough to be discussed. This posting seems to me to belong in the pseudoscience topic, it reminds me of postmodern jargon, there isn’t even anything substantive to argue about. Which is too bad because I love to argue about philosophical questions.

  1. In reply to #1 by ibelson1:

    Typical philospher spending as many words as possible to say absolutely nothing. He sets out with a goal to define morality and absolutism then does neither. What a waste of words.

    Tend to agree- surely he’s comparing religious @$&@!! morality with ‘everyday’ morality? Who cares, really.

  2. Morality is simply a code of ethics constructed by one group of humans to govern the behavior of the multitudes…….but we are not all from the same group of humans….some morals may differ in other cultures….and some morals may even clash with other cultures morals….many people are below the comprehension of morals and many more understand them and choose which ones to abide by and which ones to ignore….it takes a ‘special kind of person’ who creates the codes of morals for others to live by and sneakily adheres to none of those morals that he prescribes…in a very morally corrupt kind of way….we all know who I’m talking about now dont we…..

    • In reply to #6 by Light Wave:

      Morality is simply a code of ethics constructed by one group of humans to govern the behavior of the multitudes…….but we are not all from the same group of humans….some morals may differ in other cultures….and some morals may even clash with other cultures morals….many people are below the…

      So that sounds like Moral Relativism. If that is true then the moral code of the various “groups of humans” are all equivalent. In fact it almost sounds as if you are saying that morality consists of obeying whatever rules the dominant group defines, so in Saudi Arabia it’s immoral for a woman not to wear a Burqa for example.

      I don’t agree with that btw. It’s one of the few things I agree with Sam Harris about.

      it takes a ‘special kind of person’ who creates the codes of morals for others to live by and sneakily adheres to none of those morals that he prescribes…in a very morally corrupt kind of way….we all know who I’m talking about now dont we…..

      I’m guessing that what you are implying is that only theists do this and no we don’t all know that to be true. If you look at the hypocrisy of the Soviet ruling class for example, they clearly defined moral rules about working for the good of the people, etc. and turned around and lived as luxuriously as some of the wealthiest capitalists. So while I agree that religious people often can be hypocrites I don’t think they are by any means the only ones.

      • In reply to #7 by Red Dog:
        >
        >

        So that sounds like Moral Relativism. If that is true then the moral code of the various “groups of humans” are all equivalent. In fact it almost sounds as if you are saying that morality consists of obeying whatever rules the dominant group defines, so in Saudi Arabia it’s immoral for a woman not to wear a Burqa for example.

        Morality has a limited scope. Historically, it only work within a limited scope due to geographical, cultural, resource and or political confines. There is no such thing as universal morality existing & it would never naturally exist because it does not make any evolutionary or practical sense to impose or expect “moral” behaviours from people you’ll never meet.

        Universal morality can be created, however, but it will be artificial and has to be designed. It needs to involve every member of the group that will subscribe to the moral rules. There is no use sitting on a pedestal decrying women being forced to wear burka because those who complains are not even part of their society. At best, they will only be coerced by “Western Powers” to stop doing what they do momentarily, but they don’t understand “why” they shouldn’t do it. Those group don’t even ask if it’s even feasible for these people to not follow their traditional laws which their society is based on. Americans can’t even convince the banning of capital punishment in every states, for goodness sake.

        • In reply to #8 by adiroth:

          Morality has a limited scope. Historically, it only work within a limited scope due to geographical, cultural, resource and or political confines.

          So then you are a moral relativist and you believe it is moral to follow Sharia law when in a Muslim country?

          There is no such thing as universal morality existing & it would never naturally exist because it does not make any evolutionary or practical sense to impose or expect “moral” behaviours from people you’ll never meet.

          So you think we should get our morality from evolution? Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris both disagree with you. Dawkins says so in the intro to The Selfish Gene and Harris in the intro to The Moral Landscape. As Harris says if we use evolution for our moral compass than rape would be moral. There is a name for your position in philosophy it’s called the Naturalistic Fallacy, the idea that because something is “natural” it is therefor moral.

          • In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

            So then you are a moral relativist and you believe it is moral to follow Sharia law when in a Muslim country?

            You need to know where does the morals come from. They’re just an emergent property that rose out of a series of convoluted rules that’s particular to certain geographical or cultural location. It’s easy to think of Sharia Law being evil when you’re living in a developed country, but try think in the stead of those people who are actually living in one of those countries.

            If you take out the Sharia Law, what would happen? There’s obviously going to be a power vacuum and the rule of the only law they’ve known for perhaps their whole life will crumble. Let’s be realistic, if Sharia law suddenly disappears, they won’t develop democracy out of the blue, the first alternative to authoritarianism is lawlessness. That’s why warlords always appear when states fail.

            Given the current situation of most Sharia Law countries, I would say “YES” it is objectively immoral if we yank Sharia law away from under their feet. It’s going to cost lives and create chaos. There is no dialogue there. There is not pathway to democracy, and doing that is the same as sending a man into a collapsing mine to dig for gold. Admittedly, some will survive, but do you have the right decide how others should manage the risk they have to face?

            So you think we should get our morality from evolution? Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris both disagree with you. Dawkins says so in the intro to The Selfish Gene and Harris in the intro to The Moral Landscape. As Harris says if we use evolution for our moral compass than rape would be moral. There is a name for your position in philosophy it’s called the Naturalistic Fallacy, the idea that because something is “natural” it is therefor moral.

            Looks like you haven’t finished reading my second paragraph. I am saying exactly what you’re saying. There is no such thing as universal moral in nature, so universal morality will be something that needs to be created and it cannot be created by just a group of first world elites telling everybody else what to do. Have these people actually ever reach out to ask those people they criticise to join them in a dialogue? I think hardly any ever do that. That’s why it becomes a clash of civilisation rather than a group of global citizens trying to solve an obvious problems.

            By the way, if you haven’t noticed, we think alike but our opinions diverge. That’s most likely because we have different assumptions. Given an idealised scenario where a better alternative to Sharia Law is easily available, sure, yank away. But the current political situation is too complex for that.

          • In reply to #11 by adiroth:

            In reply to #10 by Red Dog:

            Why does Sharia need to be “yanked away”, any more than the divine right of kings was? Some will reject it explicitly, risking persecution, and over time it can be weakened (though staying the same as it ever was according to religious authorities). Why should it be acceptable, even if it’s necessary for pragmatic reasons (or if, unthinkably for some, it is the will of the people in those countries)? I agree it cannot be removed by external force, but it’s quite possible by persuasion, education, economic development and reform. That’s how it happened here. It is not good enough to say “well, that’s how they do things over there”. Would you apply that kind of fatalistic reasoning to fundamentalist Christians? To serial killers, rapists or racists, all of which there is evidence are often acting on innate urges? “it’s how they are, we just have to accept it” is a wicked cop-out.

            universal morality will be something that needs to be created and it cannot be created by just a group of first world elites telling everybody else what to do.

            Well, I agree with you there, up to a point. But they are more well resourced, which has practical implications for how well they do it. They certainly have their own (sometimes wilful) blind spots and dogmas. Ordinary people benefit from (good, broad, critical-thinking oriented, not rote) education in terms of developing a moral system. They are not in a sacred state of nature, then corrupted by society. They often have bigoted and incorrect (or garbled) beliefs, along with useful insights. Nor are they in sin awaiting sanctification. They do have more of an idea of how the world actually works (not in a physical, but political sense) than most elites, having to live it themselves. Morality cannot be passed up from the holy masses any more than it can be handed down by the sainted elites.

          • In reply to #16 by PERSON:

            I agree it cannot be removed by external force, but it’s quite possible by persuasion, education, economic development and reform. That’s how it happened here. It is not good enough to say “well, that’s how they do things over there”. Would you apply that kind of fatalistic reasoning to fundamentalist Christians? To serial killers, rapists or racists, all of which there is evidence are often acting on innate urges? “it’s how they are, we just have to accept it” is a wicked cop-out.

            It’s all a matter of degree and timing isn’t it? Fundamentally, we don’t disagree on the principle of things, we just disagree on the policy and implementation. A lot of people are suffering under countries with Sharia law and fundamentalist Christian Uganda are persecuting gays like nobody’s business. But at the same time, those organisations are providing essential services the population can’t do without. Don’t fall into the trap of dichotomy where either everything needs to be done now or never be done. Changing moral paradigm is hard work, it’s not something that can be done overnight.

            Well, I agree with you there, up to a point. But they are more well resourced, which has practical implications for how well they do it. They certainly have their own (sometimes wilful) blind spots and dogmas. Ordinary people benefit from (good, broad, critical-thinking oriented, not rote) education in terms of developing a moral system. They are not in a sacred state of nature, then corrupted by society. They often have bigoted and incorrect (or garbled) beliefs, along with useful insights. Nor are they in sin awaiting sanctification.

            I think the overabundance of resources is part of the problem. Most countries under theocratic rules are underdeveloped countries. The gap in resources is so large it’s impossible to for the less fortunate to see things the way the rich do. Bill Gates could afford to donate 95% of his wealth to charity, can anyone else reading this do the same? Even with 5% of his wealth Gates can let his family live much more comfortably than many of us can ever imagine. I don’t think you can spare as much, let alone most of the population in less developed countries. At the same time, being high and mighty while negotiating can come off as very condescending.

          • In reply to #11 by adiroth:

            It’s easy to think of Sharia Law being evil when you’re living in a developed country, but try think in the stead of those people who are actually living in one of those countries.

            The implication in your remark is that Sharia law only applies in undeveloped countries. A little research will show you that actually it applies in some of the worlds most developed counties. But of course if you are going to define developed as meaning ‘not using Sharia law’ then I cannot hope to win that argument.

            Perhaps it would be better to talk about religious law rather than specifically Sharia law. I think you are probably aware that there are those in the US (for example) that have declared that they wish to implement Christian law if they are ever given the chance. Naturally most of us would see that as a giant leap backwards but the point I’m making is that religious law does not have to mean third world.

            Universal morality will be something that needs to be created and it cannot be created by just a group of first world elites telling everybody else what to do.

            Of course that is what the US is doing, telling everyone how to behave. To rework an old not the nine o’clock news joke, “American foreign policy can be explained by having missed out for the crusades, they want to really get involved this time.”. But is American morality really the best, I think I’d draw the same conclusions, that the first world should not necessarily be the ones to dictate to everyone else how they should behave.

            It is my opinion that morality in the US (and most first world countries) is driven by capitalism. It might be unpleasant to think that theists morality is derived from a fear of retribution from their deity, but we are unlikely to disprove their deities any time soon so they are likely to continue to behave (at least no worse than they are now). However marketing driven morals appear to allow the abhorrent treatment of workers (for example) until such time as the customers catch wind of it and stop buying the product. At which time the next most moral competitor takes over until they are found out. At least it can be argued that no theist is likely to introduce toxic substances into baby foods as a filler.

            So I seriously doubt that the first world should have much of a say in the moral absolutes.

          • In reply to #11 by adiroth:
            Hi adiroth,

            You need to know where does the morals come from.

            From people.

            They’re just an emergent property that rose out of a series of convoluted rules that’s particular to certain geographical or cultural location.

            I can see that the evidence points to the first rules that people tried to make coming from their everyday needs. But surely we’ve grown beyond that? The whole point of discussion about laws, traditions and social mores is that we have learned over the millennia that they need to change?

            It’s easy to think of Sharia Law being evil when you’re living in a developed country, but try think in the stead of those people who are actually living in one of those countries.

            I don’t see how it would be difficult to see that Sharia law is a bad law in, say, Saudi Arabia. I live in a country. I don’t like some of the laws. I campaign to change the laws of the land I live in. I still don’t get where you’re coming from?

            If you take out the Sharia Law, what would happen?

            Things would get better. They did for every country that has done it. Look at the ‘Stans’.

            There’s obviously going to be a power vacuum and the rule of the only law they’ve known for perhaps their whole life will crumble.

            Your confusing law with government.

            Let’s be realistic, if Sharia law suddenly disappears, they …

            Who they?

            … won’t develop democracy out of the blue, the first alternative to authoritarianism is lawlessness.

            Why? I see no logic in that argument. I see no evidence that people who want to overthrow old laws autmaticaly want anarchy.

            Given the current situation of most Sharia Law countries, I would say “YES” it is objectively immoral if we yank Sharia law away from under their feet. It’s going to cost lives and create chaos. There is no dialogue there.

            That’s true only of a minority that feels disenfranchised. Ome people have lost the power that they used to have over other people (for no good reason).

            Why should we simply not support the people who want change?

            There is not pathway to democracy …

            If that were true, there would be no democracies.

            Peace.

          • In reply to #26 by Stephen of Wimbledon:
            >

            I can see that the evidence points to the first rules that people tried to make coming from their everyday needs. But surely we’ve grown beyond that? The whole point of discussion about laws, traditions and social mores is that we have learned over the millennia that they need to change?

            Sure, law change all the time. It’s only a matter of whether there is enough will in the society to bear the initial cost of change. Either through peaceful means because of existing

            I don’t see how it would be difficult to see that Sharia law is a bad law in, say, Saudi Arabia. I live in a country. I don’t like some of the laws. I campaign to change the laws of the land I live in. I still don’t get where you’re coming from?

            You don’t get it because you’re mistaking that we disagreement in everything when we actually agree in principle, but not in implementation. The cost of change is usually quite big. Unless there’s strong enough backing to prevent drawn out conflict, there will be civil wars. Campaigning doesn’t do much unless the resolve is backed by real power.

            Things would get better. They did for every country that has done it. Look at the ‘Stans’.

            Through Soviet revolution? It is a great price, wouldn’t you say?

            Your confusing law with government.

            Government operate on law. If you take away the law and there’s no substitute, there there is no legitimacy and the government is useless. In that situation, only the military would retain power because might makes right.

            Why? I see no logic in that argument. I see no evidence that people who want to overthrow old laws autmaticaly want anarchy.

            Wow, now you’re twisting what I’m saying. The alternative is anarchy because history have shown that when authoritarian regimes fall, chaos will start, not by the choice of the meek majority, but the opportunist few.

            That’s true only of a minority that feels disenfranchised. Ome people have lost the power that they used to have over other people (for no good reason).

            You mean innocent people don’t become the collateral of civil wars?

            Why should we simply not support the people who want change?
            Red herring. I never said that.

            There is not pathway to democracy
            If that were true, there would be no democracies.

            All right, let me clarify this one. Obviously, I was referring to those places where Sharia law has no opposition and does not allow for opposition. When alternatives are not easily available, anarchy will reign until a party with enough political will, but most likely force, takes over.

          • In reply to #31 by adiroth:

            Hi adiroth,

            I can see that the evidence points to the first rules that people tried to make coming from their everyday needs. But surely we’ve grown beyond that? The whole point of discussion about laws, traditions and social mores is that we have learned over the millennia that they need to change?

            Sure, law change all the time. It’s only a matter of whether there is enough will in the society to bear the initial cost of change. Either through peaceful means because of existing

            Why would there not be enough will to change a bad law? If it was really bad, the people who first saw that it was bad could show that to everyone else.

            Change always comes with costs. But surely, change happens whether we like it or not?

            Does Sharia change? My Muslim friends seem to think that this is not true – that Sharia is a tradition hundreds of years old that is sold on the basis that it doesn’t change -that it is somehow immune to time?

            I don’t see how it would be difficult to see that Sharia law is a bad law in, say, Saudi Arabia. I live in a country. I don’t like some of the laws. I campaign to change the laws of the land I live in. I still don’t get where you’re coming from?

            You don’t get it because you’re mistaking that we disagreement in everything when we actually agree in principle …

            I’m sure we don’t disagree on everything. Which principle are we discussing? Sorry, I’m a bit lost on this point.

            The cost of change is usually quite big.

            Why? I see no reason to believe that is true. Please teach me.

            Unless there’s strong enough backing to prevent drawn out conflict, there will be civil wars.

            I don’t see that. I see countries where political factions fight with words, but decisions are made without harming people. In English the word conflict can mean both tough discussion or violent disagreement.

            Many countries solve difficult issues about changing laws without civil wars. You appear to be saying that a country that has Sharia cannot move away from Sharia without violence? Why is violence necessary? What does that say about Sharia?

            What does that say about people who support Sharia?

            Campaigning doesn’t do much unless the resolve is backed by real power.

            That is not true in a democracy. Real change happens without so-called strong leaders, or military intervention, or toppling the government.

            if you take out the Sharia Law, what would happen?

            Things would get better. They did for every country that has done it. Look at the ‘Stans’.

            Through Soviet revolution? It is a great price, wouldn’t you say?

            Sorry adiroth, I wasn’t being clear. While you’re partially right – many of the ‘Stan’s’ have suffered through a period of socialism, and some have now developed into rotten States, it still seems clear to me that all the peoples that used to live with Sharia are better off in those countries – even the one’s with dictators.

            Your confusing law with government.

            Government operate on law.

            I’m not sure what you mean? There are good governments and bad governments. Good government is made of people who must obey the law. Bad governments make laws and than say that they, the people in government, do not have to obey the law. In my country some members of the Parliament were recently sent to jail for lying about the money they claimed for expenses. All the three biggest political parties had crooks.

            Good government is made of four parts:

            • The part that makes laws – like a Parliament

            • The part that applies the laws – usually Courts

            • The part that collects the taxes and spends the taxes – the bureaucrats

            • People

            The people in the Parliament may make laws – but that doesn’t mean they can then disobey them. The bureaucrats may decide where the money is to be spent and some, like Generals, may spend that money on soldiers. But bureaucrats too can only do what they do within the law.

            if you take away the law and there’s no substitute …

            I have already asked you about this adiroth. Why would people want anarchy? Very few people think anarchy is a good idea. Nearly everyone wants different laws, not no laws. When people talk about taking away Sharia, they mean replace Sharia.

            If you take away the law and there’s no legitimacy …

            If you replace one set of laws, and it is the will of the majority of the people … that must be the greatest legitimacy that any government can have – no?

            Might makes right.

            Right in what way?

            … you’re twisting what I’m saying.

            Sorry adiroth, I’m just trying to understand. If I twisted something you said, it was just an accident.

            The alternative is anarchy because history have shown that when authoritarian regimes fall, chaos will start, not by the choice of the meek majority, but the opportunist few.

            When a totalitarian regime changes, very often, the only people who can do anything about it are a minority who were close to the old power. That does not mean that the majority are weak. Syria and Egypt have just proved exactly that.

            Given the current situation of most Sharia Law countries, I would say “YES” it is objectively immoral if we yank Sharia law away from under their feet. It’s going to cost lives and create chaos. There is no dialogue there.

            That’s true only of a minority that feels disenfranchised. Once people have lost the power that they used to have over other people (for no good reason).

            You mean innocent people don’t become the collateral of civil wars?

            You seem to be saying that the people in charge of countries with Sharia will only give up that power if violently removed?

            If what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt you, what can we do?

            Sharia is so ugly, so inhuman, so unjust, so foolish, so backward that I am forced to decide – even though I detest violence and I want to reduce human suffering – that I must help those who live under it to escape. What you have just said has made me stronger. Objectively, it is the right decision.

            There is not pathway to democracy.

            If that were true, there would be no democracies.

            All right, let me clarify this one. Obviously, I was referring to those places where Sharia law has no opposition and does not allow for opposition. When alternatives are not easily available, anarchy will reign until a party with enough political will, but most likely force, takes over.

            The countries that used to be ruled by Catholic Church law used to say exactly the same things. You remember the Catholics; Inquisitions, Crusades, countries where it was illegal not to go to Church on Sundays …

            I look at that history, and I say: Costly though it will be, in the end it may be the only way …

            That does not make me happy. It makes me determined.

            Peace.

          • In reply to #39 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

            Why would there not be enough will to change a bad law? If it was really bad, the people who first saw that it was bad could show that to everyone else.
            Change always comes with costs. But surely, change happens whether we like it or not?
            Does Sharia change? My Muslim friends seem to think that this is not true – that Sharia is a tradition hundreds of years old that is sold on the basis that it doesn’t change -that it is somehow immune to time?

            This is getting out of hand, It’s getting too tedious to explain everything one by one now. In this part, you’ve answered part of your own question. There’s not enough backing and confidence to change the law. The law against gay marriage for example, is unfair, but it’s just not getting passed universally and progress is quite slow because there’s just not enough political will to pass it despite popular support and there are interest groups fighting to prevent the LGBT group from having that right. In some countries, the opposition is backed by a military dictatorship too.

            I don’t see that. I see countries where political factions fight with words, but decisions are made without harming people. In English the word conflict can mean both tough discussion or violent disagreement.
            Many countries solve difficult issues about changing laws without civil wars. You appear to be saying that a country that has Sharia cannot move away from Sharia without violence? Why is violence necessary? What does that say about Sharia?
            What does that say about people who support Sharia?

            It says that they live in a dictatorship. Get your head out of the ground, not everyone in the world is nice. The saying that the path to hell is paved with good intentions apply here. It is completely possible for them to think that keeping Sharia law is more important to save the souls of Muslims from the eternal suffering of hell rather than transient worldly pain.

            That is not true in a democracy. Real change happens without so-called strong leaders, or military intervention, or toppling the government.

            Sure, find a democracy where Sharia law is universally applied.

            Sorry adiroth, I wasn’t being clear. While you’re partially right – many of the ‘Stan’s’ have suffered through a period of socialism, and some have now developed into rotten States, it still seems clear to me that all the peoples that used to live with Sharia are better off in those countries – even the one’s with dictators.

            That’s your personal opinion as an outsider. Go to Saudi Arabia and go to a regular mid-income Muslim family and ask them if they can easily decide that their neighbours should die to change a law they don’t really care about. It’s easy for you to say because you’re not the one who has to suffer the consequences. Gee, how old are you anyway? Have you ever experienced loss in the family?

            The people in the Parliament may make laws – but that doesn’t mean they can then disobey them. The bureaucrats may decide where the money is to be spent and some, like Generals, may spend that money on soldiers. But bureaucrats too can only do what they do within the law.

            So you’re making my point.

            I have already asked you about this adiroth. Why would people want anarchy? Very few people think anarchy is a good idea. Nearly everyone wants different laws, not no laws. When people talk about taking away Sharia, they mean replace Sharia.

            Again, you’re under the illusion that people have the luxury of choice all the time. People can want whatever they want, but it’s the one who’s the most organised or the one with the most power will reign supreme. Like Egypt for example, it has returned to military dictatorship because they still hold overwhelming amount of power. If we look at Afghanistan, then we have our classical case of power vacuum where it went to hell after the US invasion because there is not an entity with the legitimate monopoly on force (that’s the definition of a failed state BTW). If we look at countries where Sharia law is applied, like Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, do you think they can organise a demoratic government quikly enough if their Sharia law disappears? Those incumbent won’t even suffer the existence of a challenge to their government.

            When a totalitarian regime changes, very often, the only people who can do anything about it are a minority who were close to the old power. That does not mean that the majority are weak. Syria and Egypt have just proved exactly that.

            Egypt have returned to military dictatorship and the Syrian rebels are being bombed with chemical weapons and they couldn’t even garner the support of US to punish the Assad regime for his violation of WMD laws. The Syrian rebels were also part of the military before breaking off and right now they’re propped up by foreign interests. You have just proved the opposite with your examples.

            If what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt you, what can we do?

            Unfortunately, I can’t give you a clear answer. You seem to have some good ideas yourself, but I think it’s always useful to think who are you fighting for, for those who suffer under an evil law or your disgust for it.

            Sharia is so ugly, so inhuman, so unjust, so foolish, so backward that I am forced to decide – even though I detest violence and I want to reduce human suffering – that I must help those who live under it to escape.

            Saving people is a great thing, just don’t be let down too much by people who doesn’t want to save others because it will reduce their own living standard.

      • In reply to #7 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #6 by Light Wave:

        Morality is simply a code of ethics constructed by one group of humans to govern the behavior of the multitudes…….but we are not all from the same group of humans….some morals may differ in other cultures….and some morals may even clash with other cultures mora…

        Is that what it is….Relativism ??? I had no clue….cheers for the ‘label’ ….Its just what I naturally thought and actually Your guess of what I implied was not exactly balanced – Russian Leaders acted very corrupt just like a religion in that regard with their moral codes for everyone else and erm…have you noticed Putin’s cozy new position with the church lately…..I was Inferring to all organisations who think they have the superior right to dictate morals and especially those who then lie and cheat the system supposedly set up for everyone….they see themselves as above everyone….but their corruption and deciet surely proves that they are in fact below everyones’s standards of morality…try getting an aboriginal in remote australia to give a shit about western morals – Okay so dont muder or steal or rape etc etc…there are a few universal ‘moral’ aims…but very different interpretations or is just the american one that you think should count ?

  3. The last time there was a post by the author, I wrote:

    What a curious way to begin an essay — by suspending a definition of the main idea in your argument.

    It appears that he, Dan Fincke, has outdone himself, again. To be fair, I only got about half-way down this particular post, before giving up. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t understand what this guy is trying (or not trying) to say.

  4. Instead I put morality into philosophical doubt and saw whether it could be defended and derived from some external criteria outside of properly moral considerations themselves.

    This looks like Hume’s is-ought problem. This is important in moral philosophy and ethics.

    Over time I thought it could.

    Therefore this is a big deal,

    I’ll articulate my reasons for thinking so as I continue to go.

    and we’d want to read these.

    But before we go much further it is important to specify what I mean by the terms “morality” and “objectivity” when I use the terms. Different people mean different things by the term.

    True

    I find there are a lot of people who agree with me in substance about a great many issues with respect to my theory of the nature of ethics and morality and yet refuse to say something like that there can be “objective morality”.

    He appears to be setting us up to learn that such people are confused about what objectivity means / can mean.

    There are several reasons for this. Some people insist that the meaning of morality must be understood to mean an absolute and unchangeable set of rules that are universally binding on all people at all times. Some people are even inclined to think that it must override all consequentialist thinking about personal or even social benefits whatsoever. Morality must say “thou shalt” in an unequivocal way. And part and parcel with this view is the idea that we must all have some absolute reason to obey it. Others might further add that for morality to be true, the moral injunctions commonly thought to comprise it at present must be correct. And for morality to be objective or true it must be absolutely objectively true, absolutely objectively compelling, and maybe even the most commonly referenced moral rules (against murder, lying, and theft, for examples) must be absolute.

    Yes, it definitely looks like he wants to talk about confusion surrounding objectivity.

    This is an extremely rigid view I am sketching out. Not everyone sees morality this way. And I am going to argue that it is irrational to hold moralities to such criteria in order to be either called moralities or to be seen as objective and true.

    Yes, that’s definitely where we are headed.

    —-//—-

    I’ll stop here. It looks like there is plenty to discuss, or not. I agree that the last two posts could have used some editing before going online.

  5. The answer to the question is probably No. Morality derives from two sources, one of which is more ‘absolutist’ than the other. The first is instinctive, a product of evolution, a set of rules deriving from and designed to control feelings and passions which can damage our survival chances if not properly managed. We know these rules because they are universal and never really change. The prohibition on incest is one of them. The seven deadly sins mentioned in the Bible could probably be said to encompass these ‘absolutist’ no-no’s.

    Then there are rules which derive from culture and differ depending on geography, climate, economic systems, the preferences of ruling elites etc. Most of us alive today have witnessed very fundamental changes in societal values such as attitudes to homosexuality and belief in the supernatural. There was a time in the country I grew up in where the latter could not even be questioned.

    A vast amount of human resources are expended on morality – defining and administering rules of conduct.

    • In reply to #14 by Dubhlinneach:

      rules which derive from culture and differ depending on geography, climate, economic systems, the preferences of ruling elites etc

      That’s a description of the rules as they are and not as they ought to be. How they ought to be, is what constitutes universal morality. An interdependent economic system has developed throughout the world. Why shouldn’t globalization apply to morality as well as economics?

      • In reply to #15 by aldous:

        That’s a description of the rules as they are and not as they ought to be. How they ought to be, is what constitutes universal morality. An interdependent economic system has developed throughout the world. Why shouldn’t globalization apply to morality as well as economics?

        I agree. A globalised morality should be created, but like economy, we need to engage the other party for that to happen.

        • In reply to #17 by adiroth:

          A globalised morality should be created, but like economy, we need to engage the other party for that to happen.

          The world economy has developed as a matter of self-interest and because the technological means to do it were available. A universal morality, as opposed to tribal moralities, develops in the same way. The notion of self-interest has to be underlined because of the corrupting religious emphasis on otherworldly motives.

    • In reply to #14 by Dubhlinneach:

      Minor point: the seven deadly sins became known by medieval convention, not the bible explicitly (remember that most people couldn’t read it), though they are derived from Proverbs 6:16-19 and Galatians 5:19-21.

  6. It does seem a vaguely waffly sort of piece, really, which doesn’t say anything much.

    But the burning question for me is, if you do a PhD in actual philosophy, are you a PhPhD?

    There’s a supplementary question if you also specialise in acidity and alkalinity but perhaps we won’t go there.

  7. This is the second (or third?) article we have had from Dr Dan Fincke and still he has said nothing by way of his gratuitous verbiage. So much for his empowerment ethics. He needs to find the power to construct a hypothesis and present it, but he sounds too much like a postmodernist for any hope of that.

    • In reply to #20 by Cairsley:

      This is the second (or third?) article we have had from Dr Dan Fincke and still he has said nothing by way of his gratuitous verbiage. So much for his empowerment ethics. He needs to find the power to construct a hypothesis and present it, but he sounds too much like a postmodernist for any hope of…

      Perhaps, but postmodernism is just pure gibberish e.g. feminism’s strength coalesces and then breaks over the jagged rocks pushed up between them by the movement of Marxists on one side and anarcho-capitalism on the other.

      Whereas this is just poorly worded in many places e.g.

      Some people insist that the meaning of morality must be understood to mean an absolute and unchangeable set of rules that are universally binding on all people at all times.

      Why wouldn’t ya just write something like: Some people insist morality must be defined as an absolute and unchangeable set of rules that are binding on all people for all time.

      Both of his posts have been filled with annoyances like that which have made them difficult to read. But I’m still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

      • In reply to #33 by Sean_W:

        Both of his posts have been filled with annoyances like that which have made them difficult to read.

        But neither of his articles actually ends up saying anything, despite all the convoluted attitudinizing about one thing versus another in both of them. This more than anything else has led one or two others also to remark on the postmodernist quality of the writing. The entry in Wikipedia on Postmodernism actually gives quite a good overview (along with links to many related subjects) of the cultural movement involving deconstructionism, poststructuralism and postmodernism that spanned the twentieth century. Many here may agree with your assessment of postmodernism as gibberish, and, although you are prepared to give Dr Dan Fincke the benefit of the doubt for now, they may already have reason to suspect that his writing falls into the same category.

  8. Well, I don’t often agree with Red Dog but this guff shouldn’t be under the science heading – move it to pseudoscience please. Finke isn’t quit as good at the BS as is Deepak Chopra but he is getting there.

  9. In reply to aldous. 9.16 a.m. who wrote:

    “That’s a description of the rules as they are and not as they ought to be. How they ought to be, is what constitutes universal morality.”

    Yes but is that not the point that the author is trying to make – where does the ‘ought’ come from? A very large part of it is a product of culture, defined and codified by various authorities, political, legal, religious and changes with time and fashion. The more fundamental ‘oughts’ and ‘must nots’ are a product of evolution, have been codified ex-post facto and change only very slowly. That is my view anyway.

    “An interdependent economic system has developed throughout the world. Why shouldn’t globalization apply to morality as well as economics?”

    It probably will in time but globalisation is a very recent phenomenon. Only a few hundred years ago, most people rarely travelled more than ten miles from where they were born.

  10. In reply to NUMBER 17 by adiroth. A globalised morality should be created: Perhaps all the people of the earth should link arms and start singing Kum Ba Yah?? Sam Harris hit the nail on the head when he said “There are millions – maybe hundreds of millions – of Muslims who would be willing to die before they would allow your version of compassion to gain a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula (Letter To a Christian Nation, Page 86).

    • In reply to #25 by Bob Springsteen:

      Perhaps all the people of the earth should link arms and start singing Kum Ba Yah??

      That’s the idea that morality is sentimental nonsense which is a reaction to the silliness of religion-based morality. There are completely hard-headed reasons why it makes sense to have reliable, universal social rules. Corruption, to take an example of customary behaviour, is a deadweight on economic development. It is rational to root it out. Education and employment for women is beneficial to all and religious taboos are worth breaking to bring rewards that everybody can appreciate.

  11. In reply to #11 by adiroth:

    You need to know where does the morals come from. They’re just an emergent property that rose out of a series of convoluted rules that’s particular to certain geographical or cultural location. It’s easy to think of Sharia Law being evil when you’re living in a developed country, but try think in the stead of those people who are actually living in one of those countries…. If you take out the Sharia Law, what would happen? There’s obviously going to be a power vacuum and the rule of the only law they’ve known for perhaps their whole life will crumble. Let’s be realistic, if Sharia law suddenly disappears, they won’t develop democracy out of the blue, the first alternative to authoritarianism is lawlessness. That’s why warlords always appear when states fail.

    First, to be clear I agree that the idea that the US should go and start overthrowing governments to replace Sharia law with democracy is wrong. Mainly because as far as I know no nation in recorded history has ever launched a war for altruistic reasons, They all claim to be going to war for justice, etc but it’s always a rationalization after the fact. Even Sadam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait claimed it was in the name of Arab Nationalism. No country can impose democracy on another and no country ever really has even tried. At times (e.g., Japan after WWII) democracy was a result but it had little to do with the US love for democracy and much more to do with the plans of US leaders to make Asia into a region they could dominate. And the “democracy” in Iraq was an afterthought and the current government is not much less tyrannical than Sadam Hussein. The real difference, the difference that matters, isn’t how democratic they are but that Sadam wouldn’t play ball with the US and the government we installed would.

    But I find your assumption that somehow Muslims will descend to anarchy without Sharia law as facile and bigoted as the usual rantings from the other side about how all Muslims are fundamentalist crazies who just want to blow themselves up. The idea that Muslims don’t want democracy is just propoganda and ignorance of history.

    Read the book Devil’s Game: How the US Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam by Robert Dreyfus. After WWII there was a huge uprising of democracy and secularism in the middle east. Iran, Egypt, and other nations had fledgling democracies that were secular not Islamic. IT WAS THE US that destroyed these movements and it was the US that funded and encouraged fundamentalist Islam to be as powerful as it is today.Look at the history of groups like The Islamic Brotherhood or Al Queda and many others. They all got their initial funding and support from the CIA and the US state department.

    It wasn’t some inherent backwardness of the people, the majority of the people embraced democracy. But the problem was as they embraced democracy they also embraced nationalism. The emerging democracies wanted to have more control of their oil and other natural resources. That just wouldn’t fly so the US over threw the democracies and encouraged tyrants and fundamentalist Islam (which was at the time opposed to the democracies because they were secular) in their place.

    And your ignorance of history isn’t just going back to the fifties. The Arab Spring shows that Muslims are willing to risk prison, torture, and death to bring democracy to their nations. Actually, the commitment of the people of Egypt for example makes the majority of people in the US who can barely get off their butts to vote look pale in comparison. Of course the Arab Spring is far from perfect, no revolution ever is, The French Revolution had terrible crimes and although it’s not mentioned much in US history classes even the American Revolution had plenty of vicious retaliation against the people who had sided with the British.

  12. In reply to #30 by Red Dog:

    But I find your assumption that somehow Muslims will descend to anarchy without Sharia law as facile and bigoted as the usual rantings from the other side about how all Muslims are fundamentalist crazies who just want to blow themselves up. The idea that Muslims don’t want democracy is just propoganda and ignorance of history.

    Hold on there. I’ve never connected the descent to anarchy to the Muslim variable. Is that a Freudian slip RD? Any authoritarian government collapsing will cause power vacuum. The same would happen if North Korea falls suddenly. Also, where have I ever said that Muslims don’t want democracy? I think you’re the one that’s exhibiting the symptoms of outgroup homogeneity effect. There are good people out there and bad people. All I am doing is to point out that when the boat is sinking, the first thing the bad will do is to rob the good and steal their spot on the life-boat.

    It wasn’t some inherent backwardness of the people, the majority of the people embraced democracy. But the problem was as they embraced democracy they also embraced nationalism. The emerging democracies wanted to have more control of their oil and other natural resources. That just wouldn’t fly so the US over threw the democracies and encouraged tyrants and fundamentalist Islam (which was at the time opposed to the democracies because they were secular) in their place.

    I have no disagreement with this statement.

    And your ignorance of history isn’t just going back to the fifties. The Arab Spring shows that Muslims are willing to risk prison, torture, and death to bring democracy to their nations. Actually, the commitment of the people of Egypt for example makes the majority of people in the US who can barely get off their butts to vote look pale in comparison. Of course the Arab Spring is far from perfect, no revolution ever is, The French Revolution had terrible crimes and although it’s not mentioned much in US history classes even the American Revolution had plenty of vicious retaliation against the people who had sided with the British.

    Hold on, how did the discussion turn to the nature of the Arabs? It’s almost as if you’re the one morally judging them. I was just talking facts. In the event where any authoritarian government falls there will be power vacuum, and with it comes chaos. Chaos is very easy to create, arm less than 0.5% of the population with weapons and you’ll have a civil war. Also, these people are the only ones who has the right to decide the cause worth sacrificing for. We can’t sit here and dictate their priorities, because they’re the ones who’re effected the most. Some are brave and many are just normal folks, when there’s war, they will find refuge elsewhere. Are they cowards? I don’t think so. But the fact is, they’re the easiest target for authoritarian regimes when the latter feels threatened in any way.

  13. Lately even Dennett is becoming a bit boring. Did you read his response to sam harris Free Will?I couldn’t finish. Why must he write a reply bigger than The book? I get his idea, dan dennett free will is an high order explanation based on evolution. Sam harris free will his based on physics.

  14. I like Sam Harris’s definition of morality….
    A moral action is one that increases the level of well being in a given population of sentient organisms.
    An immoral action is one the decreases the general well being of sentient organisms.
    Obviously these actions would vary according to different environments and contexts so the idea of a “absolute” set of rules is about as possible as the idea that the universe, the earth, the economies, the politics, etc will stay exactly as it is right now for ever.

    • In reply to #37 by Catfish:

      A moral action is one that increases the level of well being in a given population of sentient organisms. An immoral action is one the decreases the general well being of sentient organisms.

      At the top of the UN Human Development list is Norway and at the bottom Niger. That would suggest the Norway is the most moral country in the world and Niger the least.

      • In reply to #38 by aldous:

        In reply to #37 by Catfish:

        A moral action is one that increases the level of well being in a given population of sentient organisms. An immoral action is one the decreases the general well being of sentient organisms.

        At the top of the UN Human Development list is Norway and at the bottom Niger.That would suggest the Norway is the most moral >country in the world and Niger the least.

        Sounds about right to me in absolute terms (ie. according the current UN Human Development Index) but we should also have another rating for Moral Progress for countries that have made significant progress to higher levels of well being. So if a country like Niger started educating people away from first century babble (i.e Islam) that would rate highly on the Morality Progress Meter even though they are a still along way behind Norway. Reducing religion and superstitions is always a moral thing to do because the only way we can reliably improve “well being” is by a more accurate understanding of reality (eg. improved medicine, farming, etc) . So any religion that is not based on reality (cannot think of any that are) is inherently immoral.

  15. I disagree Cairsley. But I don’t blame anyone who couldn’t get through them. They are difficult to read and that can’t be attributed entirely to the fact that some philosophy is just tough going. The writing could be better. There are places where the reasoning doesn’t seem to support his case.

    But discussing that requires arguing and I’ve always understood postmodernist trash to be something so unintelligible as to be meaningless and therefore not subject to reasoned argument.

    I dug a little deeper to satisfy myself that it’s not complete postmodernist gibberish: (I’m not arguing with his position)

    In explaining my Empowerment Ethics so far, I have talked about how my own philosophical thinking about morality did not start by assuming morality was true and valid and legitimately binding and then trying deliberately to rationalize it. Instead I put morality into philosophical doubt and saw whether it could be defended and derived from some external criteria outside of properly moral considerations themselves.

    This is Hume’s is-ought problem. You need a moral premise to deduce a moral conclusion.

    Over time I thought it could.

    Because of the is-ought problem this is a bold -in the philosopher’s sense- “owl-eyed and enthusiastic” claim.

    But before we go much further it is important to specify what I mean by the terms “morality” and “objectivity” when I use the terms.

    We always want to define our terms, especially if our usage is different or we suspect our audience is not familiar with their use in a particular field.

    Different people mean different things by the term. I find there are a lot of people who agree with me in substance about a great many issues with respect to my theory of the nature of ethics and morality and yet refuse to say something like that there can be “objective morality”.

    Apparently he believes a lot of people would probably accept that objective morality is possible were it not for their confused understanding of the term “objective” especially as it is applied to morality. (A point Harris also makes)

    There are several reasons for this. Some people insist that the meaning of morality must be understood to mean an absolute and unchangeable set of rules that are universally binding on all people at all times. Some people are even inclined to think that it must override all consequentialist thinking about personal or even social benefits whatsoever. Morality must say “thou shalt” in an unequivocal way. And part and parcel with this view is the idea that we must all have some absolute reason to obey it. Others might further add that for morality to be true, the moral injunctions commonly thought to comprise it at present must be correct. And for morality to be objective or true it must be absolutely objectively true, absolutely objectively compelling, and maybe even the most commonly referenced moral rules (against murder, lying, and theft, for examples) must be absolute.

    Now he tells us what he believes is the nature of peoples confusion about objectivity as it relates to morality. Many people believe an objective morality must also be absolute, binding for all people through all time, and indifferent to our well-being i.e. something is right or wrong whether or not it leads to harmful consequences.

    This is an extremely rigid view I am sketching out. Not everyone sees morality this way. And I am going to argue that it is irrational to hold moralities to such criteria in order to be either called moralities or to be seen as objective and true. Along the way, a number of posts will make these arguments.

    Okay, sadly he’s not necessarily going to explain all the reasons why he thinks an objective morality is possible in this post. (Note- I’m not really sad. I think others have already done it.)

    Let me for now, spell out the most compelling reason I found not to define morality in such a way.

    Argh! -it’s the writing what’s done it!

    For one thing, this is a particular account of what idealized morality might be like. It is a particular set of answers to the deeper questions about morality. The deepest, most fundamental, and distinct question characteristic of morality, as far as I can see, is “Why must I ever do things that I do not want to do?” Are there any kinds of rules or practices or judgments that I must adhere to and do so even when I do not want to?

    From a practical standpoint, this is the crux question. The only true and meaningful and decisive moral skepticism is this question. People tell other people to do things they do not want to do. Things that go against their feelings, wants, desires, preferences, goals, etc. And in reply the question is, “Why must I?” Or sometimes it’s not one person telling another what they must do. It is a conflict within oneself. There is a rational notion or a feeling that one must do something mixed competing against other sides of oneself. Why must one follow the order and not that which conflicts with it?

    He’s told us why he thinks many people err concerning the possibility of objective morality, and now he is talking more about what exactly it is that can be considered objective about morality. I would expect him to tell us there are rational reasons for deciding on a moral course of action, and that such action is objectively better than the alternatives.

    Are there criteria that can determine which of the “must” statements that we make that go against our preferences are really things we must do and which ones are not? If so, then in the only real sense that matters, morality is real.

    Although I don’t recall him mentioning it before he’s addressing another objection people have to an objective morality; it’s not real, you can’t put it under a microscope.

    Let me hasten to add that I do not think all of the ethical life should be conceived of in the negative terms of “saying no” to our feelings and desires. From the broader perspective I think of ethics, distinct from morality, as being about how to live a good life and includes much more than the restraints on selfish behavior. And unless a morality ultimately leads to good lives, I won’t endorse it. And I am averse to the teaching of morality that is done primarily in terms of “thou shalts” and overemphasizes the importance of self-denial to the point of denigrating and dismissing the importance of our feelings and desires and even ourselves.

    Okay, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    But all that is a matter of my substantive overall views on ethics. At this point, I’m just trying to isolate the specifically moral area of thought and life. The word moral is most definitively used for those obligations we will have to obey even when we don’t want to. And the question is answered numerous ways so at this stage of the inquiry, I’m not going to bake my own answer into the question itself.

    Yes, what is it that is to be considered objective?

    The absolutist account of morality with which I started the post is not the only way to conceive of morality. It is merely an overambitious attempt to answer the “why must I?” question. It seems to have several reasons it is so appealing to so many. For one thing, it tries to invalidate any doubt. If the answer to the must question requires difficult scrutiny case by case, then people might try to quibble and rationalize and avoid their obligations. It’s much simpler to convince them there is an absolute must.
    Absolutist musts are also often backed up with threats of absolute punishment if people deviate. They’re often connected to the idea of inescapable divine retribution. If an omniscient, omnipotent moral enforcer exists then they seem to assume that everyone has a good reason to obey morality. Implicitly they seem to recognize a deeper logical relationship between someone’s well-being and their rational interests. Why would the threat of hell put morality on firm ground if it wasn’t rational for people to not want to suffer?
    Absolutists can’t switch over and say that absolute morality is binding because people’s risk aversion just does make them good when they believe in hell. All the absolutism and hell preaching of centuries hasn’t stopped even hell-believers from being immoral by their own internalized moral standards. If absolutist morality has a merit for its hell doctrine it cannot be in its absolute effectiveness in actually compelling obedience. It has to be in its absolute rational incentive to obey. But then it is acknowledging a deeper relationship that supports it–a rational connection whereby doing what enhances one’s own well being or thriving is the only rational thing to do. So, it would then be puzzling for absolutists to argue that no one who doesn’t believe in absolutist standards can ever find reasons to do moral things compelling against their feelings. So long as they can find ways that their ultimate well being or thriving involve doing the moral thing, they can find rational reasons to do the moral thing.

    Morality can be rational. I think he’s making a stronger claim but I only want to point out the gist of what I think he’s saying. I don’t want to argue it. (Many moral theories emphasize this point whether they accept an objective -in any sense- morality or not.)

    So, even the absolutist implicitly seems to accept a deeper truth about the theoretically rational persuasiveness of deeper, more rational, long term, macro-level interests over short term feelings. So long as such truer interests are theoretically possible, at least some moral appeals of why you must do what you don’t feel like are possible. Since these can easily be conceived in many cases that do not require absolutism in order to make them work, more than moral absolutism can underpin at least some morality as really compelling.

    I wish he wouldn’t write like that.

    –//–

    This time I really am stopping here. I think the problem is one of style and not necessarily substance, though in a sense that problem is probably here too because he may not be writing this out in the most useful way possible. I don’ t think it’s postmodernists garbage.

    As for not saying anything at all? I don’t think that’s true.

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