Moral objectivity

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by SuperWatto, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    [image=http://carstenknoch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Derek-Parfit-On-What-Matters.jpg]
    On What Matters is a major work in moral philosophy. It is the long-awaited follow-up to Derek Parfit's 1984 book Reasons and Persons, one of the landmarks of twentieth-century philosophy. Parfit now presents a powerful new treatment of reasons, rationality, and normativity, and a critical examination of three systematic moral theories - Kant's ethics, contractualism, and consequentialism - leading to his own ground-breaking synthetic conclusion. Along the way he discusses a wide range of moral issues, such as the significance of consent, treating people as a means rather than an end, and free will and responsibility. On What Matters is already the most-discussed work in moral philosophy: its publication is likely to establish it as a modern classic which everyone working on moral philosophy will have to read, and which many others will turn to for stimulation and illumination.

    Parfit?s big idea is that the rules whose universal acceptance everyone could rationally will, which are also the rules that no one could reasonably reject, are in fact the rules whose universal acceptance would make things have the best consequences, impartially considered. Rule-consequentialism is thus argued to be the upshot of the best forms of Kantian and contractualist ethics.

    So, Parfit argues that personal opinion is not always just personal. Wanting something is not always selfish - for instance, wanting to do something for charity is for the greater good, and that's something nobody could reasonably object to.

    But they could!

    After all, isn't "what nobody could reasonably object to", in the end... restrictive? For one thing, I'm not sure the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement would agree that helping charity is always a good idea.

    Also, morals change. I could say slavery is bad. Nobody would reasonably object. But they wouldn't always have agreed...

    Now, theories in this book have been making the rounds in the philosophical community for a decade before finetuning and publication. It should be impossible for an amateur like me to rip them apart in mere days. So... anybody got anything smart?

  2. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I hate to be that guy :p , but could this fit in with my thread?

    Or do you want a different, more philosophical focus?
  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    I'd just like to have a good debate about what I posted, doesn't matter where.
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Determining morality is a social activity. There's no need for morality in a universe of one person. In a universe of two or more people, morality is a negotiated settlement. I don't see the need, or a plausible opportunity, for a universal standard of justifiability and reasonableness. We can look at behaviors and poll whether people widely accept them as moral or reject them as immoral. That's all we can do. From an evolutionary standpoint, people are highly motivated to justify their own behavior to others. It's one of the key reasons we do language, so we can explain our actions to other people. It's the accretion of tried and true plausible justifications over time that builds a foundation for broad societal morality.
  5. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    Objective morality exists, and Aristotle probably got it right. Human flourishing can occur even in a universe of one person. ;)
  6. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    While determining morality is a social activity, it is not merely a social activity.

    Morality is also determined individually ie you ask yourself what is good for me and what is bad for me. You wouldn't cease to ask yourself those questions just because there wasn't anyone else around.

    Only in a universe without consequences would the need for morality cease to exist.

    Isn't that what the law is?

    Taking a poll is always a bad idea.


  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Laws are regional and constantly shifting, so hardly universal.