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← Science can answer moral questions

SilentMike's Avatar Jump to comment 84 by SilentMike

53. Comment #471424 by prolibertas

I actually answered the point you make in my original post. Even if individual choice advances well-being, surely the mere illusion of choice can advance it more, as the person that is fooled into thinking they have choice can be prevented from making the wrong decisions.

55. Comment #471431 by nother person

Hmmm... why? Do you think there is some 'objective morality' that exists apart from human minds?

No. The only reality is physical reality. Morality has to do with values. Humans decide to define X as a moral "right" and Y as moral "wrong". The universe doesn't care.

62. Comment #471443 by stanleygarden
50 Comment #471407 by RightWingAtheist

"I don't believe that Peter Singer is any more of a moral authority than the pope, just because he calls himself a biophysicist".


If you had to leave your children under the care and guidance of someone, you wouldn't care if it was The Pope, Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins or Sarah Palin??? Because this is exactly what came across from your ..rather silly statement.

I have several comments. First, You are replying to something I said not something RightWingAtheist said. Second, the spelling correction led me astray. Peter Singer is not a biophysicist but a bioethicist. I should read more carefully before approving. Third, your point is without merit. The fact that I would leave A with my children rather than B does not imply that A is a moral authority. I would rather leave children with an experienced sitter or parent over someone who is not. It has very little to do with that person's moral authority as perceived by me.

67. Comment #471460 by Jos Gibbons
Philosophers call that a felicific calculus. It is not a necessary component of consequentialist ethics.

That may well be. But if this is not the way then another method must be purposed.

Moral experts can outshine criminals... [etc]

I don't know about criminals and I don't know exactly what Sam Harris advocates. I'm finding issue with the presentation of his way of thinking. It is probably true that Sam Harris does not personally condone of some of the things I mentioned as possible consequences of his assertions. My point is precisely that a moral expert and a moral person are not the same thing. Knowing facts about morality and being moral are two different things. A "moral expert" can also be a criminal, and if he is then he would be judged as a criminal, and all his fancy degrees won't be much good.

1. Moral facts also say more nuanced things, such as “X is better than Y when Z happens”.

That's actually no better. Just more complex. Something like "If X is the desirable outcome than Y is preferable to Z as a course of action" is a fact about morality if X is an outcome deemed desirable due to some external ethical value. Another example is "X causes moral discomfort in most adult humans (or in most adult humans in modern developed countries)". This is a simple "fact about morality" that describes human moral tendancies.

2. Singer is not an authority

Agreed. He is not an authority and his ideas should be judged on their merit. The other part of that statement is a matter of opinion.

Tue, 23 Mar 2010 12:36:00 UTC | #451385