..THE LESSER GOOD

..Undergoing reconstruction (AUG - NOV, 2002)


.....Modern Casuistry

* Do morals exist? (And what are we obliged to about it?)

...* Just what are ethical theories theories of?

......* The Good: As good as they say it is? (And what of The Bad? Is it the opposite of The Good -- or much worse?)

.........* Are you or your loved ones living under ethical obligations you aren't even aware of?

............* Do you suffer from a nagging suspicion that Utilitarianism is completely useless?

...............* Do beach bullies kick sand in your face in flagrant refutation of the Catagorical Imperative?

..................* Are you weary of doing the wrong thing and being forgiven for it, rather than findimg out beforehand what you should've done in the first place?

.....................* Could the post-Modernists be wrong in rejecting the traditional claim that the bivalent concept of "Right" and "Wrong"is really right?

........................* Are you mad as hell your cretinous neighbors and their evil spawn are protected under the government's new "multicultural enclave act"?

...........................* Have you ever secretly wished you could be evil for about two hours and then go right back to being good again?

Can we lead ethical lives? Should we? Can our understanding and practice of ethics be rational? Should it be? Can moral dilemmas be resolved by employing rational methods and factual data, or are inspiration, tradition, mysticism, soul-searching and those little voices in your head kibitzing all day long enough to do the job?

Consider the following selected sample of general principles of rational problem solving:

......* Decision-making is based on reasons one has for the choice one makes.

......* Reasons are claims capable of being supported or undermined by facts and/or argument.

......* Reasons are publically expressible notions, unlike untranslated inspiration, feelings, visions, and other "private" phenomenological experiences. Thus, if one has reasons for doing X, one can explain these reasons to others, who can then evaluate and accept or reject these reasons -- for reasons of their own.

......* It is meaningful to claim that some reasons for doing X are better than other reasons for doing X, or for not doing X at all.

......* If you have made the decision to achieve X, and if doing Y will get you X, then it is rational to do Y, other things being equal.

......* One can (and frequently does) find general common patterns in similar individual situations, making it possible to formulate general methods and rules for dealing with situations "of the same kind".

......* If one lacks sufficient knowledge, or has made past mistakes in one's judgment regarding one's general decision-making, the lack of knowledge or presence of mistakes is detectable and correctable.

......* If there is a truth (or falsehood) of the matter regarding claims made about the actual world, then rational decision-making is an effective means of discovering this truth or falsehood. The principles of rational decision-making also provide a (rational) reason for changing one's theories of the world to more closely match the observations made of the world.

Just ask yourself how many of these "rational" principles you can honestly reject when trying to work out the solution to a problem that really matters to you -- and what life would be like if you did?

This site is offered as a public glimpse into the cyber-ethics lab / workshop in which I am currently conducting philosophical experiments on the nature and properties of rationally grounded ethical and moral systems. Over time, I hope to come up with interesting and relevent questions about the nature and practice of ethics and morality, the objects of moral discourse, the investigative tools most useful in analyzing these objects, the nature of practical ethics, as well as some rational (see above) and fruitful answers to those questions. -- Robert David Boyle


2002 by Robert David Boyle rdb1953@earthlink.net


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