Re: Subject: Re: A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies

J. R. Molloy (
Thu, 18 Nov 1999 14:41:28 -0800

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote,
>He discovered
>that the best way to do that is often to play nice; that does
>nothing to support whether "playing nice" is or isn't a worthy
>goal in its own right.

The worthiness of "playing nice" relates to how it effectively promotes any population that practices it. From an evolutionary standpoint, populations that play nice succeed (reproduce and thrive) more than populations that do not play nice.

> "A scientific approach to making decisions together with other
> people, acting in the public sphere would, I imagine, eliminate
> biases which interfere with obtaining the most successful decisions."
>He imagines, indeed, because that statement is so utterly 180-
>degrees opposite of reality that its consequences can only exist
>in his imagination.

Not quite, because to the degree people do eliminate biases by relying on a scientific approach to making decisions, they succeed more than people who make decisions based on personal biases.

> We can confidently reason that this premise
>will not lead us to rational conclusions about ethics.

Only if we allow our confidence to exceed our imagination.

> Premises
>more in tune with reality are likely to lead to better results.

Exactly. That explains the scientific link of moralism to biology (as per Richard Dawkins' essays on the subject).

>Those premises most useful for ethical reasoning are those about
>human desires: not lofty, theoretical, ideological desires like
>peace and progress, but simple ones like food and sex that we can
>observe the reality of directly. What other realistic base can
>there be?

Certainly not what we "ought" to do versus what we "can" do, because (obviously) we don't _want_ to do everything that we _can_ do.

Science still provides the most complete answers to the questions humans pose for themselves.


--J. R.