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Tasilo Von Heydebrandt und der Lasa
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Like a lot of other people, and as a professor, I was concerned about McBrayer's observation that children are being taught to discount moral facticity. But, as again like a lot of folks, I am dismayed by the weak arguments offered to buttress this idea. It is one thing to say that moral relativism is unworkable; it is another to say that this proposition necessarily entails that there are moral facts of a substantiality equivalent to matter, energy and the other properties of external reality. Humans both recognize what acts and beliefs serve them, and the general form that such beliefs may take. Moral "facts" such as these are more like generalities, but they are valid, if they are not "real" in the sense of external reality. Consider, for example, the Golden Ratio. For not reasons that are not completely understood, many people find that employment of the Golden Ratio in the architecture of buildings produces structures that are pleasing to observers. A number of theories have been proffered about why this is so, but what is important is that while the Golden Ratio has been precisely calculated (and is thus reliably knowable in this sense), buildings built with it are not ineluctably beautiful, nor are those without it irretrievably ugly. It is one of a possibly unlimited number of factors or qualities that are "good," and contribute to the overall aesthetic good. Morality, although unlike aesthetics in some ways, is similar to it in that both describe qualities of generality of real objects (in the case of morality, the words and actions of people) that are never precisely delimitable, inarguably one thing and yet about which there is wide assent. Unlike aesthetics, however, moral "facts" are or should be stable. The Beatles might go in and out of style, but killing another person without adequate justification is not similarly the product of fad (or shouldn't be). In a sense, there is less at stake in aesthetic arguments; it is rarely a matter of life and death which painting by Rembrandt is the most beautiful. However, lacking a moral compass CAN be a matter of life and death. If people view it merely as a bandwagon view, or the view of elites, or just a view that makes one popular, then amorality is the eventual result. We must never confuse quantification with ascertainment.
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Mar 3, 2015