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stoneunhinged
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I'm an advocate of natural law. The problem is that it takes much more serious deliberation to determine a truly persuasive basis for determining right from wrong than most people are willing or capable of performing. The second problem is that serious deliberators will still disagree on many things. These two problems incline less thoughtful people--and those corrupted by modern philosophy--to assume that there is no rational, universal basis for right and wrong.

I am convinced that if any of you were to sit with me in a bar for an hour or two, I could persuade you that something like natural law exists. But if I fail, you have to buy the beer.
Thom Bliss
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LobowolfXXX is right. If there is no right or wrong then there would be no right answer to the question "is there right or wrong?"

Stony, I'm glad somebody is advocating for natural law. But I thought natural law theory was a part of modern philosophy. Perhaps by "modern philosophy" you mean logical positivism (which, I think, hasn't been in vogue among philosophers for quite sometime but still has a pernicious influence outside philosophy, and also perhaps inside).

Did you hear the one about the goal-setting specialist, overly-influenced by the logical positivists, who got lost while hiking and nearly froze to death?
After he was rescued, somebody suggested that next time he should take some matches, or a lighter, so he could start a fire to keep warm.
He replied, "Oh, I had some matches," he said, "but it would have made no sense to have started a fire. I didn't have a thermometer, and without a thermometer, there was no objective way to measure the results."

Thom
stoneunhinged
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Thom, natural law is as old as Aristotle. By "modern philosophy" I do mean logical positivism, but I also mean a lot of other influences from Wittgenstein to Heidegger. If we were to generalize, in modern times there seems to have been a trend to make philosophy as precise as science--as in, "prove it or it isn't true." But something could be true even if we couldn't prove it. "Proof" is the disease of modern philosophy.

If I were to say, "Fish swim", that would be a normal and acceptable statement. Socrates, having fun with us, would point out that some fish swim--although his entire point would be that most fish swim. And that would be helpful to discussions about what might be true and what might be false.

Someone like Wittgenstein would ask us to parse the words "fish" and "swim"; and someone like Heidegger would ask us to question what the "being" of "fish" is, and what the "being" of "swim" is, and would confuse us to the point that we don't know anything about anything anymore. Philosophy becomes misdirection. Magicians should be experts at philosophy, I think. Or the other way around.

"Proof" is the problem, as always. And I truly respect that. Still, we can revert back to the original question and ask this: does the existence of right or wrong depend on our ability to prove what is right or wrong?

And we are back at square one.

My suggestion is this: we cannot "prove", in the scientific sense of the word "prove", the existence of right and wrong. But "proof" in this case is a false goal. We can certainly make reasonable, rational determinations regarding what a majority of human beings consider to be "painful" (damaging) or "pleasurable" (pleasurable), and then we are on our way to building a code of ethics.

But I'm approaching 50, and I know that very, very, very few people agree with me these days. So I'm not arguing for the sake of agreement, but for making my point.
LobowolfXXX
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Quote:
On 2012-01-13 12:07, stoneunhinged wrote:
Thom, natural law is as old as Aristotle. By "modern philosophy" I do mean logical positivism, but I also mean a lot of other influences from Wittgenstein to Heidegger. If we were to generalize, in modern times there seems to have been a trend to make philosophy as precise as science--as in, "prove it or it isn't true." But something could be true even if we couldn't prove it. "Proof" is the disease of modern philosophy.

If I were to say, "Fish swim", that would be a normal and acceptable statement. Socrates, having fun with us, would point out that some fish swim--although his entire point would be that most fish swim. And that would be helpful to discussions about what might be true and what might be false.

Someone like Wittgenstein would ask us to parse the words "fish" and "swim"; and someone like Heidegger would ask us to question what the "being" of "fish" is, and what the "being" of "swim" is, and would confuse us to the point that we don't know anything about anything anymore. Philosophy becomes misdirection. Magicians should be experts at philosophy, I think. Or the other way around.

"Proof" is the problem, as always. And I truly respect that. Still, we can revert back to the original question and ask this: does the existence of right or wrong depend on our ability to prove what is right or wrong?

And we are back at square one.

My suggestion is this: we cannot "prove", in the scientific sense of the word "prove", the existence of right and wrong. But "proof" in this case is a false goal. We can certainly make reasonable, rational determinations regarding what a majority of human beings consider to be "painful" (damaging) or "pleasurable" (pleasurable), and then we are on our way to building a code of ethics.

But I'm approaching 50, and I know that very, very, very few people agree with me these days. So I'm not arguing for the sake of agreement, but for making my point.


Stone, I agree with your last two posts almost entirely. They also hit on something that lurks around many of these discussions usually without being recognized - the distinction between "truth" and "knowledge." The fact that something might be "unknowable" (in the logical positivist sense, with some sort of proof or verification) in no way means that it isn't true. I repeatedly see people make the leap from the premise that something is uncertain to the conclusion that it is incorrect. So the extent to which I would possibly disagree would be to characterize logical positivism as "corrupting," in that I think that most of the "damage" is simply in failing to recognize its limitations.

On the other hand, I do agree with you regarding natural law, and further agree with you (and disagree with the logical positivists) that it can be quite useful to rationally discuss/debate things that cannot be proven. Because (as every lawyer knows), one can still persuade even when one cannot prove.

I'm happy to be one of the very (etc.) few people who agree with you.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
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