[lit-ideas] Re: SoS-Chapter 2, Moral Frameworks

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2006 17:07:35 -0700

Mike Geary wrote:

I read Taylor, at least in the first 2 chapters, as saying that modern human beings find identity in their value systems -- that, in fact, all human beings do and always have done so and can not escape doing so. Everyone thinks their value system is better than those that [contradict] it or emphasize that other values as more desirable. Everyone thinks their value system promotes the good, otherwise they wouldn't adhere to it.

Not to put the knock on inner city gangs but do the Crips and the Bloods think that they're 'promoting the good'? (Socrates argument against akrasia might be relevant here: nobody does wrong under that description; those who do wrong think that what they're doing is good, although they happen to be mistaken.) My more cynical question would be, in what sense do gang members think that theyre promoting the good (except for other gang members)? And if that's all it is, what does 'promoting the good' amount to? How narrowly can this be parsed? If it turns out that the good is just whatever I (the family; the gang; the people on the East Side) happen to prize, then 'good' would need a little subscript every time it was used 'good/RP,' 'good/MG,' etc., and if this is how it is isn't the very idea of good lost? We might as well talk about what I like and what Mike likes and what Crips like, and stop talking about 'good' entirely, except when evaluating things that have a use like knives or judging things according to a standard as at a dog show.

Taylor acknowledges that value systems vary from culture to culture and to some degree between individuals within cultures, and sometimes even within the same individual at various times. I would think that the value systems of a scientist vs. a metaphysician would most be at variance only when it comes to epistemology, the scientist valuing deduction less highly than induction and from that some variances in social goals might follow. But surely each of their identities are so enmeshed in valuing intellectual activity that they would be almost identical.

Right, although it might be that scientists value induction and metaphysicians deduction (what they want are a priori truths). But this seems to show that to determine which differences we can ignore, or think we can, in determining which 'frames' (unhelpful word) are the same and which different, requires a further frame through which to view scientists and metaphysicians and their 'frames.' Is there some Martian point of view?

Robert Paul
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