Sunday, January 25, 2009

A few calmly considered thoughts about evidence and ethics

One must separate the motivations of people's good behaviors from the logic which entails those behaviors. If one wishes those good behaviors to continue - and here I am using 'good' in the ethical sense - then a reinforcement of those motivating reasons itself is good, no matter the evidential value of those reasons.

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason -- and here I am using 'wrong' in the evidential sense of 'bad reasoning' - is by far the normal activity of people everywhere across this world and thru its history. Indeed, this is the essence of Religion.

Certain kinds of people want others to do the right thing for the right reason (the former 'right' being ethical, the latter 'right' being evidential), but these people live in a fantasy world of idealistic optimism (perhaps a kind of religion in itself); consequently, they are continually disappointed with those around them. Although introducing better evidence and teaching critical thinking skills is desirable when appropriate, a realist about human nature recognizes the social prudence of reinforcing motivations which allow such good behaviors to continue unabated. This is the essence of Pragmatism.


[image] Max Oppenheimer Die Schachpartie 1885-1954

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