Re: Ethics

Scott Badger (
Tue, 7 Jul 1998 22:49:03 -0500

On July 6th, 1998 Dan Fabulich wrote:

>On Sun, 5 Jul 1998, Scott Badger wrote:
>> I do completely agree with you that ethical standards are subjective and
>> fluidic (real word?).
>OK, I've got to butt in here. Philosophically speaking, you're making a
>rather lofty presumption which you have not at all defended. There are a
>large body of philosophers who claim that we can rationally determine what
>we ought to do, and thereby solve the problem of ethics. I find this
>position rather strong, since it seems to me that one cannot rationally
>disprove this, except possibly by showing how rationality cannot be used
>to make choices, an absurd claim.
>Have you uncovered something that rational moral philosophers haven't?

I subsequently requested some examples of rational ethics and was directed to your earlier posts which I read and enjoyed. Thanks. You concluded that your preferred ethical standard is utilitarianism which you described as;

>"The right action is that which is most likely to maximize the total
well-being and total number of all people.<

The second half of that standard is nicely objective and may be easily measured and appears to be in agreement with Bradley Felton's hypothesis;

> Actually, there is one objective metric available, one which we are
currently being judged against, and which our ancestors have all been held accountable to: reproductive success. This is the only bedrock that I know of upon which to build a rational ethics. <

I generally agree with Bradley. Behaviors which provided a practical balance between the survival of self and the survival of others probably had the strongest adaptive value and had much to do with what most people currently believe they *should* do.

It's the first part of your statement that still makes me wince. Your opinion of what my well-being may or may not be is no more than that. . .an opinion...purely subjective which was the point I was clumsily trying to make earlier. Maybe I don't understand what you mean by rationally derived. Do you mean rules of mathematical logic must be followed?

Scott B.