Sunday, July 6, 2014

UPB Comment, page 28-30

Page 28: According to UPB, a valid theory is logically consistent and empirically testable. 

Page 29: Moral propositions claim that human beings should act in a particular manner, or avoid acting in a particular manner. 
Page 30: A personal preference is what?
A universal preference, is what is objectively required, or necessary, assuming a particular goal. If I want to live, I do not have to like jazz, but I must eat. “Eating” remains a preference – I do not have to eat, in the same way that I have to obey gravity – but “eating” is a universal, objective, and binding requirement for staying alive, since it relies on biological facts that cannot be wished away. Isn't all human action goal oriented? Life is a universal goal? Is this the same as universally preferable?
Ethics as a discipline can be defined as any theory regarding preferable human behaviour that is universal, objective, consistent – and binding. Where does this come from?
Page 32: If you want to live, it is universally preferable that you refrain from eating a handful of arsenic."   it is universally preferable that your theories be both internally consistent and empirically verifiable. “Universally preferable,” then, translates to “objectively required,” but we will retain the word “preferable” to differentiate between optional human absolutes and non-optional physical absolutes such as gravity.
One adopts a goal, then a causal relationship exists between the goal and the means of achieving it. Sometimes the means is unique, sometimes many means are equally preferable. Why talk about preference or preferability at all?
Similarly, if ethical theories can be at all valid, then they must at least be both internally and externally consistent. In other words, an ethical theory that contradicts itself cannot be valid – and an ethical theory that contradicts empirical evidence and near-universal preferences also cannot be valid.
What does that mean? How can an ethical theory contradict empirical evidence, since it is not a factual claim? Feasibility? What are near-universal preferences?

Thus in ethics, just as in science, mathematics, engineering and all other disciplines that compare theories to reality, valid theories must be both logically consistent and empirically verifiable

Social Contract, Holocaust, chattel slavery, North Korea

Is there anything in the idea of the social contact that should have protected Jews from the Holocaust?  If not, what is it worth? If we must trump the social contract with other principles of justice, why not just stick to the principles of justice and forget the social contract?
Does North Korea have a social contract? How can the people of North Korea request a renegotiation?
Did chattel slavery somehow violate the social contract? If so, why didn't anyone notice at the time?
Why should this philosophy-flavored pacifier satisfy anyone?

Comment on UPB page 49

Certain preconditions must exist, or be accepted, in order for ethical judgments or theories to have any validity or applicability. Clearly, choice and personal responsibility must both be accepted as axioms. If a rock comes bouncing down a hill and crashes into your car, we do not hold the rock morally responsible, since it has no consciousness, cannot choose, and therefore cannot possess personal responsibility. If the rock dislodged simply as a result of time and geology, then no one is responsible for the resulting harm to your car. If, however, you saw me push the rock out of its position, you would not blame the rock, but rather me. To add a further complication, if it turns out that I dislodged the rock because another man forced me to at gunpoint, you would be far more likely to blame the gun-toting initiator of the situation rather than me. 
Should we count situations of coercion as exceptions to moral principles, or violations, for the purpose of enforcement or self-defense?