Monday, August 21, 2017

Robust moral realism and acts done from duty

I have been trying to develop the idea by using the Kantian idea of acts done from duty.  Whether or not no moral action has any moral worth unless it is done from duty, it is at least intuitively true that if morality is to have any real influence on human conduct, it has to be possible for our actions to be actions done because it is our duty. Something like this needs to be true on significant occasions in our lives: If I had not been wrong to steal money, I would have stolen it." But if naturalism is true, it seems as if this never happens, and since Wielenberg says that these moral facts have no causal power, he seems to accept this implication of naturalism.

Of course, he might argue that even as a naturalist, he can say that people do some things because they believe it to be their duty. But then, can they also say that we can believe that something is our duty because it is our duty?

Paraphrasing Lewis:

Even if moral truths do exist, what have they got to do with the actual occurrence of moral choice as a psychological event? If it is an event it must be caused. It must in fact be simply one link in a causal chain which stretched back to the beginning and forward to the end of time. How could such a trifle as lack of moral grounds prevent the choice's occurrence and how could the existence of moral grounds promote it?

Turns out I thought of this three years ago. when I was in a rehab center recovering from a car accident.

http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-reply-to-wielenberg-on-naturalistic.html


2 comments:

oozzielionel said...

The strength of any sense of duty depends on to whom the duty is due. If the duty is one's self, that duty is easily displaced by some other self interest, "To thine own self be true." If the duty is to family, that duty can be i competition to duty to some other cause or person. A man's duty to his parents can be displaced by his duty to his spouse or children. If the duty is to one's country, that duty can be challenged by political forces. Duty to God would tend to be the strongest but only if the faith is real and devoted.

Stardusty Psyche said...

OP "Of course, he might argue that even as a naturalist, he can say that people do some things because they believe it to be their duty. But then, can they also say that we can believe that something is our duty because it is our duty?"
--Not with any demonstrated reference for what "is" your duty. They can speculate that some sort of real duty reference source somehow really exists, and further speculate that our personal sense of duty is somehow derived from this speculated source that is asserted to define with certainty what duty really is. That amounts to nothing more than conjecture built upon idle speculation.

"Even if moral truths do exist"
--They don't. If you disagree, please name a few, heck, name just one.

"forward to the end of time"
--Why do you suppose time must end? Maybe you are just waxing poetic here and I am being a bit too much of a persnickety literalist.

" How could such a trifle as lack of moral grounds prevent the choice's occurrence and how could the existence of moral grounds promote it?"
--So many perplexing questions... Things make consistent sense on naturalism. Morality is just a personal emotion, an evolved sensibility that tends to drive social animals to behave sociably.