April 30, 2010
Today's post is just a quickie. A friend of mine said that he would read more often if I posted shorter posts. I used to post shorter posts more frequently. There is a "Quickies" category on the sidebar, but if you notice it's been spared attention for about 4 months now.
I was reading a paper titled Atheist Foundation of Ethics written by John B. Hodges:
If there WERE any Cosmic Parent, it would not need human messengers; it could speak directly to whomever it wished. If a divine being wants me to do something, they should tell me, not you. If they have a message for all humankind, they could write it on the face of the Moon, in letters five miles wide. Any alleged "revelation" DELIVERED BY HUMAN BEINGS is presumptively fraudulent.
It's ironic that the Bible describes a God much like the one Hodges proffers as plausible, that is, a God that can and does share divine Will with individuals (cf. John 14:16). However, I thought that the really interesting part was that last bit about "any alleged 'revelation.'"
Let's say hypothetically that God did reveal something to one of us, perhaps even Hodges. It would certainly be within reason to expect the person experiencing this revelation to share it with others. So I object to any sort of categorical disqualification of a revelation from other human beings. It could very well be that somebody else saw or experienced something far beyond that which my limited mind can comprehend. To judge them as "presumptively fraudulent" beforehand seems to me, well.. presumptive.
April 27, 2010
Today’s post covers the Introduction and Chapter 1 of The Atheist Afterlife, by David Staume. In a nutshell, the book aims to demonstrate the plausibility of, well.. an atheist afterlife (as if you needed my review to tell you that, right?).
As stated, my initial reactions about the book are largely positive. Overall, I’d say the author takes the road less traveled, and tends towards conservatively stated beliefs and secure premises. I guess when one is used to online (a)theist discussions, those virtues tend to stand out more. As an example of some statements I appreciated or agreed with,
April 19, 2010
I thought I should take a quick break from discussing the method to clarify my position on desirism. I'm not angry or irritated or anything like that, neither is this any sort of a "point fingers" post. I just want to clarify where I'm at concerning desirism [which is pretty much right where I've always been]. Else, we might have more misunderstanding, when I'd really rather just get a good discussion going.
In general, I'll argue that it's counterproductive to think in black-and-white terms of being "for" or "against" a given theory. In any given field, theories are more like "dynamic knowledge" than neatly-packaged, easily-reducible entities, and people often have mixed attitudes about them. It is both possible and common for an individual to support one or more of a theory's tenets, while maintaining reservations concerning others. Other times people feel they may have something valid to contribute. That's exactly the case with my attitude towards Alonzo Fyfe's desirism. Recently at CSA, Alonzo Fyfe wrote,
We discussed the method and some preliminary objections here. I think the best way to illustrate the method’s strengths and weaknesses would be to just dive in and play around with it.
It is my opinion that any moral theory worthy of being considered “the best” should be able to guide both isolated individuals and interactive groups towards the “moral good” at any given time. So, I’ll begin by considering the effects of any particular desire on the affected desires of an isolated individual, in order to specifically determine whether or not the particular desire tends to fulfill or thwart other desires. My hypothesis was that if desirism’s definition of good is sufficient, the numbers should line up with our moral intuitions most of the time.
April 13, 2010
We’ve been discussing the moral theory called desire utilitarianism or desirism lately, and unfortunately, I’ve noticed a tendency towards oversimplified evaluations that lack correspondence to real-world ethical scenarios.
For example, we might debate whether the desire to exterminate a minority is good or bad, according to the theory of desirism. Presuming we agree the desire to exterminate another human being thwarts their desires, proponents of “extermination is bad” might point to this fact and attempt to affix an across-the-board value of “bad” to that desire. Other people dream up all sorts of wild and fanciful “what if” scenarios that purport to disprove the theory: “if extraterrestrials with horrible taste in music threaten to exterminate us unless we worship Milli Vanilli, then worshiping Milli Vanilli is good.”
If only it were that easy.
April 11, 2010
In the thread that followed the Introduction, we discussed,
I'd say more than enough has transpired to warrant a second post, and I'd like to discuss:
April 10, 2010
My version of the analysis: We need to evaluate the desire to torture (or exterminate etc.) some group. We compare the presence of the desire to its absence. If it is present and fulfilled what is this causal desire’s material and physical affects on other desires? The other desires are those that are affected by making the target of the causal desire true, that is to bring about any state of affairs where the proposition expressed by the causal desire is made true. These are the affected desires. What is the affect on them? The desire not be tortured or not to feel pain or an aversion to torture or pain is directly thwarted. If this causal desire is absent, then the affected desires are not thwarted. Therefore it is a directly desire-thwarting desire.
I apologize to those eager to discuss Staume's book; I assure you that I'm eager as well. It's just that I felt my response to faithlessgod was relevant enough to merit being transplanted over here. It's pretty clear to me that his argument has non-trivial problems, but as always, let me know if you think I've missed something, or, if you think faithlessgod's desirism differs significantly from Fyfe's.
April 5, 2010
As with the last set of notes, today's post should be read as a supplement to the series, containing reflections, concerns and open questions. As such, it should not be taken as a formal presentation of arguments either for or against desirism.
Luke has an index of Fyfe's writings on desirism here, and an index of faithlessgod's writings on desirism here. Luke also has what he calls The Ultimate Desirism FAQ here. Luke also conducts interviews with Fyfe in CPD003 and CPD005.
Luke gives us the core principles of desirism in his words, which you may or may not find helpful: