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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hume's Guillotine from a Theological Perspective

I've been debating someone on the validity of "natural rights"- that is, intrinsic, inalienable human rights derived from natural principles.

Although the other party hasn't really addressed my reasoning, he (or possibly she) does make a pretty good conservation-of-energy-style argument. This type of argument is one where you don't need to know the details of a perpetual motion machine to know it doesn't work.

Essentially, it's something called Hume's Guillotine: There is no valid way to go from a description of what is to what ought to be.

I disagree. If God created a good universe, which it seems he must have by definition, then what is and what ought to be are the same. The only exception is free will, which lets us depart from what ought to be... but the universe is good and we can therefore determine what is good by studying it. I suppose that not everyone believes in free will. Have fun with that.

If you don't believe in God, then your ethical system has to be based on natural principles anyway.


Blogger Duke of Earl said...

If I may.
If creation is under a curse, and from early Genesis we would have to say that it is, then we cannot automatically assume that what is is what it ought to be.

12:51 AM  

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