Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Obviously wrong philosophies

Various political, philosophical and moral theories have struck me as bunk. People advocating them seem to know this, too. We can pretend to believe them for the sake of argument, but we all know that they're not true.

So I thought I'd collect them together here.


Conservatism: there's not much to it. See my previous post. Not so much wrong as incomplete and ineffective.

Natural-rights libertarianism

Nonsense on stilts. Rights-based theories of morality are as wrong as other theories of morality (see below).

Freedom as the highest political goal

"Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." Lord Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877).


The Social Contract

It's not a contract, because no one ever agreed to it. It's not a contract because it isn't fixed; no one knows what it is (because it isn't written down) and it seems to change over time. (Some people call it a "social compact" to distinguish it from a contract.)

In fact, it's bunk. There is no social contract. It doesn't exist. It's a myth required to justify various ideologies.

Objective morality

I have no problem with the idea that some things can just be true. Why does the gravitational constant have the value it does? It just does.

But the idea that morality exists, that things can be right or wrong, good and bad, is bunk.

My claim is not moral relativism; I am not claiming that different people's moral beliefs are all equally true. I am claiming that they are all equally false.

Moral facts could exist in various different ways. The universe could be dualistic, with moral facts existing as Platonic forms. The universe could be monistic, with moral facts existing out there as atoms or patterns. They could be in the mind of God, in which case to know moral facts would be to know the mind of God. There is no reason to suppose that moral facts could not change over time.

We have as much reason to believe in the existence of moral facts as we have to believe in the existence of God.

If moral facts existed, we have no way whatsoever of discovering what they are. There is no way to measure them. We might presume that a list of moral facts could not contain a contradiction, so we could reject a given person's list of moral facts if it contained a contradiction. But we would have no reason whatever to accept a list of moral facts as true just because it did not contain contradictions.

Because we could no more know moral facts if they existed than we could know the mind of God if he existed, there is no way they could affect our daily lives.

Often, when trying to argue against the view that there is no objective morality, people talk about the consequences of such a view. "Surely it would be terrible if everyone thought so?" "How can you live with such a view?" But the supposed consequences of a view have nothing to do with whether it is true or not. People want it to be true, but that does not make it true.

People talking about morality sound to me like people discussing whether animals go to heaven. "I believe that animals have souls and go to heaven." "Do you really? I believe that only pets have souls and go to heaven". No one can possibly have anything more to say on the subject than anyone else.

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