Re: deconstructing Derrida & 3rd culture

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Wed Mar 01 2000 - 14:48:45 MST

> Dan replied:
> >True enough, but we'll never HAVE a magic wand like this. The prediction
> >would surely affect my way of thinking about ethics, so the prediction
> >would have to not only model my thoughts on the matter but its own effects
> >on my thoughts on the matter.
> Of course. This is what economists do with "game theory", and philosophers
> do with "reflective equilibrium". But I don't see why this is a criticism
> of the evol-psych approach. Why is it so hard to imagine that once we
> understand in more detail where our ethical feelings come from and how
> pliable they are that we could reach an equilibrium where we are at peace
> with and accept those feelings, and the limited degree we have bent them?

As I mentioned earlier, I don't criticize evol-psych as an approach to
psych, but as an answer to ethics. Many of these thinkers seem to think
that by doing sociobiology or evol-psych or cog sci or whatever they can
sidestep the problem of ethics, as Darin implied, in much the same way
that we sidestep the philosophy of mind.

I could definitely hear some kind of an argument that a sound brain theory
will have an impact on my ethical theory (though I could also hear a
counterargument; the claim isn't obviously right to me), but that places
the argument firmly *within* ethics. Again, not a problem if you've got
your head on tight, but too much of the so-called "third culture" turns up
their nose at this kind of discussion.

> >Not to mention problems like Newcomb's
> >Paradox, etc. This problem gets harder still if I never die, friggin'
> >impossible if I ever make it to some Omega point, etc.
> I don't understand the relevance of these considerations.

These considerations were meant to hint at what will make it so difficult
to predict my ethical choices in the manner you described. But you
already knew that.

> >And, if that didn't convince you, on a practical level this problem is
> >harder than trying to predict the high/lows in temperature and when it
> >will rain from now until my death (if ever) based solely on a few weather
> >vanes in Paraguay.
> Why must ethics be so prone to a "butterfly effect"?

Ethics needn't be; predicting my ethical beliefs based on my current
beliefs probably is, especially if I live a long time, if I'll change my
beliefs on the basis of the prediction, etc.

> Must it really be something that we feel compelled to change whenever
> we seem to be reaching an equilibrium?

Some days I'm a cynic. ;)


      -unless you love someone-
    -nothing else makes any sense-
           e.e. cummings

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