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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Philosophy is not an infallible guide to moral conduct

"But philosophy itself in its results may yield opportunity to self-excusing egoism. The formulae in which it expresses conceptions of moral ends and virtues must always be liable to prove misleading, in the absence of that living interest in a practically true ideal which can alone elicit their higher significance." -- T.H. Green, Prolegomena to Ethics, p. 291

1 comment:

  1. Gene: this is why I am an ethical intuitionist. If it seems as though something is wrong, it probably is. If we get an argument that seems ridiculous - like Peter Singer's suggestion that if you don't impoverish yourself and your family to the point of nearly dying to fund relief to third world countries, you are immoral - should be discarded if they conflict with more reasonable and established intuitions, such as "it is okay to spend money on yourself, even though you might be obligated to give some money to charity." Of course, it is par the course for philosophers to reject such "simple minded" ideas, because it would make their job of obfuscation - I mean, "philosophy" - irrelevant. We must pretend that we have little to no clue as to what is right or wrong. Then, when we use all of this theoretical framework (which itself is based on intuitions), we can bash folks over the head who disagree with us as stupid, un-enlightened, and ignorant. Sorry for the rant. I'm just tired of philosophers pretending that they don't know, by and large, what is right or wrong - but they somehow *do* know that the abstract theories they peddle as a sort of religion are true.

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