Saturday, October 13, 2012

Comment on UPB page 38 and 39

The guts of this page contain 3 principles Molyneux wishes to establish.
1) Morality is a valid concept.
2) Moral rules must be consistent for all mankind.
3) The validity of a moral theory is judged by its consistency.

1 seems vague to me. Valid by what criteria? What does it mean for a concept to be valid or invalid? I know generally what the difference between a valid drivers license and an invalid one.

2 is clear. 3 seems to imply 1, and clarify it. What does 1 add that is not provided by 3? Perhaps I have not read enough Ayn Rand.

Do moral rules exist? He answers 'no'? By which he means that they can be violated, they do not limit behavior generally, but limit the behavior of those committed to pursuit of certain goals.

What is Molyneux's purpose in including these 3 principles? What attack does he forsee that calls for this defense? "Moral rules must be consistent for all mankind" seems to say it all, but could benefit from some support.

At the bottom of page 39: "Thus any valid scientific theory must be (a) universal, (b) logical, (c) empirically verifiable, (d) reproducible and (e) as simple as possible.
"The methodology for judging and proving a moral theory is exactly the same as the methodology for judging and proving any other  theory."

Has Molyneux established either of these statements? It seems that the latter statement is what he cares about, so he means to say moral theories should be (a) universal, (b) logical, etc. This approach makes sense if we consider moral theory as an instance of the broader class of scientific theories. Perhaps he has tried to establish that somewhere in here or previously?

Quantum theory was not always logical. Some cosmology is not yet empirically verifiable, though it might develop in that direction. These are quibbles, but they should probably be dealt with.

1 comment:

David Burns said...

Morality does not exist like gravity, it is true like "2 + 2 = 4".