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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pragmatic Ethical Systems

continued from previous post..

My foe believes that self-interest is either bad or not good, and thus any ethical system based on self interest is bad.

1) Self-interest is good from the solipsist-materialist perspective

2) Game theory is a mathematical aspect of the natural universe

3) Self-interest can be used as the basis of a pragmatic, naturalistic ethical system

Now, if you oppose self-interest on religious grounds, you will obviously not agree with the pragmatic, naturalistic ethical system.. call it Hobbes' Social Contract, though Von Mises would be more accurate a representative.

However, you can't deny that in the absence of a religion to contradict it, self-interest tells you how to behave in a community, which is the definition of an ethical system.

Since self-interest is relative, the same ethical system applies to everyone, but it has to be stated very precisely. Negative rights such as life, liberty and property could be the basis of such a system, but it would not be a statement that "Murder is wrong and should be punished." It would be the statement, "Anyone who commits murder should be killed to protect me. I'll carry out the execution and take the shoes off his corpse." Or "I should not murder because I'll be executed." Or "I should not kill anyone because it's a waste of time."

"I enjoy killing people, so I'll do it until I get caught." This is rational, to a certain point, though it would be more rational to seek psychiatric help, and rationality ~= good. But practically, the society that results from such reasoning is the same as one in which murder is intrinsically bad. At what point can we draw a line between calling something a sin and merely illegal?

I think it's a fallacy to deny naturalistic ethics because they don't contain good and evil in the same way as Christian morality.


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