Wednesday, October 24, 2012

comment on UPB page 125 appendix A

This is UPB in a nutshell. It should probably have been put somewhere earlier in the book. It doesn't really help me. There are 12 points, which summarize Molyneux's definitions and arguments. Except the conclusion is left out?

At this point, I can almost make an argument that I think restates Molyneux's ideas. I'm frustrated because I'm still not really sure that I am even close.

One thing has become very clear. Molyneux regards someone who uses language in the ordinary way, especially to argue for or against general propositions, to have affirmed some additional propositions simply by engaging in this activity. His best example of this depicts someone trying to argue that he himself, the person arguing, does not exist.

For me to argue that I do not exist, I must argue. To argue, I must exist. So however brilliant my argument for my own non-existence may be, it entails a contradiction, which indicates that at least one of my assumptions is wrong and my conclusion cannot follow from my argument. Since the contradiction arises from what I am doing rather than what I am saying, it is called a 'performative contradiction.'

Molyneux seems to believe that he has discovered a number of additional propositions implied by the activity of arguing, and he bases his argument largely on these.

Molyneux writes:
"Moral theories that are supported by logic and evidence are true. All other moral theories are false."

Is this the heart of UPB? Is this all he wants to say? Then, armed with his battery of performative contradictions, he can set about confirming or contradicting various moral theories.

I should review some of his critiques of various theories, to try to understand what sort of performative contradictions he is using and what it is about the defective theories  that he finds illogical or contrary to evidence.

One approach I remember, was that in his discussion of murder he took the approach that the only two rules that UPB would allow on ground of universality were "always kill" or "never kill," and he eliminated "always kill" by pointing out that it was impractical, failed the coma test, etc. What I still don't understand is why he expects us to be willing to consider only those 2 options.  He further confuses me by using "murder" instead of "kill", but this is begging the question, since the definition of 'murder' is "wrongful killing." (I saw this point on the internet, I wish I had a link to the original.)

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