Saturday, December 31, 2016

Refining Welfarism & Moral Fallibilism




Refining Welfarism & Moral Fallibilism

A Renewed Look At Interests And Judgments






Semi poetic opener:


"Ask not what we can do for goodness, ask what goodness can do for us"


But more contentiously:


"Ask not what victimizers can do for rightness, ask what rightness can do for victims"


Now soak in the reversal:


"Ask not what goodness can do for us, ask what we can do for goodness"


And the corollary:


     "Ask not what rightness can do for victims, ask what victimizers can do for rightness"



The first set of quotes is foundationally suitable. That is to say; when reason-giving and explication bottoms out, as all things do, the initial set of quotes can be declared superior to the inverted set. The ideal analyzer has permission to declare them as superior even if the only way to get there is by fiat. No doubt, fiat is analytically icky, but it is rarely taken to be an invalidator of virtues like intellectual honesty. Do we arrive at intellectual honesty through something other than fiat? If so, what exactly? How might we prove to someone that they ought to value intellectual honesty over its competition?

You might think that a truth-seeker proclaiming the superiority of intellectual honesty –– and with it the inferiority of intellectual dishonesty –– is disanalogous to my proclaiming the initial set of quotes as superior to the inverted set. But what makes these proclamations disanalogous? Empiricism? Come now. It can't be that. The call to science is itself a non-empirical endeavour. Denial of this manifests in the circularity of a truth-seeker applying evidence to dissuade someone against their apathy or hostility towards evidence.

When it comes to intellectual honesty, the only real competitor is intellectual dishonesty. Value the former, disvalue the latter. Simple as. The fiat, however icky, is left standing. The verdict stands tall despite its offputtingly unempirical [evaluative] origin. So it is with the above quotes, notably the first set. The only competition in town, after all, is the second set of quotes. The reversals. And they seem rather backwards, for goodness and rightness aren't persons or relational entities that can be harmed/benefitted in the first place. They are communicational tools, they are doxastic tools, and tools of all stripes should not be aggrandised as Something More.