Re: Science and Philosophy

Brian Manning Delaney (
Fri, 10 Sep 1999 12:20:13 -0700

Dan Fabulich wrote:
> On Thu, 9 Sep 1999, Brian Manning Delaney wrote:

>> -What's ethical?
>> - [Your answer here.]
>> ---------------------------------------
>> Actually, I imagine your answer would be very
>> long, and don't expect you to give it. But I've
>> found that most answers to that question come
>> back to utility. So there's still a circle, but
>> just a slightly more complicated one.

> Well, frankly, yes, my answer would be quite long. :)
> However, as regards ethics, it is certainly
> wrong, ethically speaking, to conclude that
> ethics is a circular/pointless endeavor.

No argument from me in the slightest on that one.


> Of course, this proof doesn't tell you which
> theory of ethics is actually correct, but it
> does at least show that the project is not
> hopeless.

Yes. I meant the question "What's ethical?" as a general question, and thus not one simply about which action is ethical from within a particular theory. (Your proof doesn't apply to all theories.)

Again, my experience with philosophers from within the pragmatist or utilitarian traditions is that their answers to the question -- which answers would require justifying a "system," not answering the question from within a system -- end up being circular.

Not that philosophers from other traditions have clearly solved the problem either, of course....

(ergo: let's keep thinking; NOT [simply]: party on, dude.)


Brian Manning Delaney