This is Scott Forschler's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Scott Forschler's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Scott Forschler
Recent Activity
Jussi, I think a comparison with empirical perceptions might help here. Now this is the kind of analogy intuitionists, the naïve realists of morality, often use to support their views; but I think taken seriously enough, the analogy undermines their position, as follows. It is very tempting to say that perceiving someone’s pain and knowing that I can help simply gives me a reason to help, and no further explanation could possibly be required; just as my looking at a red tomato gives me an excellent reason to think “that is red.” But as psychologists and now neurologists have discovered, there’s a lot of complicated processing going on behind that empirical judgment. Likewise there may be a lot of complicated processing behind the judgment “I should help.” And of course, none of us this means that the person who sees the person in pain and helps in response, but knows nothing of constructivism (or any other moral theory for that matter) isn’t doing just the right thing, or would be helped any by knowing it; any more than I need to understand neurology to help me correctly judge “that is red.” Likewise (as I think you clearly understand), it is not the avoidance of a contradiction in the will, or a disintegration of personality, which constitutes the reason for helping; rather the pain is the reason. These other factors merely explain why the pain must be such a reason. So perhaps the oddness of what constructivists, or other moral theorists who offer explanations of moral reasoning, can be defused simply by distinguishing between X's being a reason to Y and the explanation for why X is a reason to Y. Why, though, do we need the constructivist explanation? I could simply appeal to human curiosity abot how things work, but there are more practical reasons as well. Understanding how empirical perceptions form help explain perceptual illusions, and can help us avoid them. There are of course both moral illusions, and people who try to manipulate us into adopting some “moral” view which would be convenient for them if we adopted it. If they get to appeal to “X just seems right, doesn’t it” (especially when it kind of does, but we have some suspicions...), then it’s harder to argue against them. But once we understand there’s a deeper level of explanation to go to, we have a better chance of understanding our real moral duty in hard cases.
Toggle Commented Aug 28, 2009 on Korsgaard on Moral Realism at PEA Soup