[lit-ideas] Re: Malt, Coffee & Chuck Taylor (longish)

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 06:20:13 -0700 (PDT)

> WALTER: And conversely. If a maxim is not
> universalizable, then the
> intention to universalize it is an intention that
> seeks an impossibility.

*I don't think that this is true. I guess that by "a
universalizable maxim," Walter means something like a
maxim that can be logically demonstrated to be
universally valid. (I'm not sure what he means by "the
intention to universalize," but if he means no more
than the people can't want to universalize what they
don't want to universalize, then this is trivially
true.) But there is no practical reason that a maxim
that cannot be demonstrated to be universally valid
should not nevertheless become universally accepted.
Most great moral teachers did not think that they
needed to logically demonstrate that their maxims were
universally valid.

A problem that I have with the Kantian precept that
one should only act on a maxim that one would intend
to become a general law, i.e. to be universalized, is
that it supposes rational and benevolent moral agents
at the outset. I doubt that a hardened thief would be
impressed by the argument that he should not steal
because it would be bad for the society if everyone
were to do so. The answer might well be in the lines:
"So what ?" The precept might have value to ethical
philosophers in their search for the 'good', but for
the purposes of practical moral teaching it is little
use I suspect. (I realize that this might be deemed an
empirical, and thus not a properly philosophical


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