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Comment: Kinda makes your head hurt . . .

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Kinda makes your head hurt . . .

Rule followers DO possess an ethical philosophy: their philosophy asserts that "the good" consists of obedience to their chosen Authority's commands. Granted, that is a philosophy most characteristic of children and slaves, but it IS a philosophy by which many people choose to live. More rigorous thinkers may despise or pity them -- but who can say that such a choice is "wrong?" Wrong, by what standard? Everyone gets to choose their own standard, regardless of what anyone else may think of it, and according to THAT standard, they are clearly "right." One may try to persuade them to a more rational or rewarding philosophy, but in the final analysis, each person gets to make his own choice -- even those who try to shift the burden onto some "Authority!" That IS a choice, after all. Kinda makes your head hurt, doesn't it?

A person who alters his "preferred" behavior because of fear of punishment demonstrates a moral preference for avoiding pain and/or other negative consequences which result from annoying other people. That's called "rationality," and it's commonly believed to be a virtue. One need not treat other people decently because one loves them; one may treat them decently simply because one doesn't want to make enemies. So?

I believe I understand your analogy between morality and economics. Just as economic actions have costs and benefits, so do moral actions, and thus one might design a moral system that would optimize moral benefits while minimizing costs . . . the problem would be convincing people that such a system is preferable to the one they already use. Next time a Seventh Day Adventist or Hare Krishna acolyte rings your doorbell on a Sunday morning, try it out on them, see how it works. And good luck, Mr. Phelps!

I do sympathize with your intention here. Take a look at my "Personal Statement" for my take on the central problem of ethics. Clearly we're both interested in the same subject. But are we headed in the same direction, do you think?

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose