Saturday, August 12, 2017

Daniel Little — Moral progress and critical realism

Critical realists share a rejection of the fact-value distinction as a fundamental criterion of scientific rationality -- and rightly so (link). They believe that social research and theorizing involve value commitments all the way down. Further, they commonly believe that good social science should lead to improvement in the world and in our system of moral judgments.
So far, so good. But some critical realists think that this points to "moral realism" as well as scientific realism. Moral realism maintains that there are objective and timeless answers to the questions, what is justice? what should we do? what rights do people have? Moral realists hold that the moral facts are out there and waiting for discovery; there is a domain of "moral facts" that ultimately goes beyond the limits of rational disagreement.
This impulse towards moral realism is a problem. Moral realism and scientific realism are not analogous. There is no philosophical or theological method that will resolve moral questions into an unquestionable foundation or set of universal moral truths. Neither Kantianism, nor Aristotelianism, nor utilitarianism, nor traditional religious systems have the capacity to establish universal and unquestionable moral conclusions. The impulse towards moral realism has the perilous possibility of morphing into a dogmatic view of morality that substitutes one's own convictions for eternal moral truths. In my view, this is farfetched and ultimately implies an unreflective dogmatism about values. Fortunately there is a better and more modest position available that drives from the same pragmatist origins that are inspiring other advances in critical realism....
Understanding Society
Moral progress and critical realism
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

1 comment:

jrbarch said...

For me, Mind always goes around and around, trying to solve these problems of ” .. what is justice? what should we do? what rights do people have? - with concrete thought (because that is its nature). But mind should try to understand just what it is that drives these thoughts and the longing for their solution, in the first place.

It is hard for people who use the mind as a tool all day long, to understand: - mind needs to be trained to be still. It is a matter of consciousness; not thought.

When the human being is conscious of the self within, all of these problems are resolved. The self is Being: - it has its aspects and attributes. The most important of these are described as love-wisdom, active intelligence, will. Justice is an attribute of being first; then it guides the personality and mind in expression. The self is sovereign: - it knows exactly what to do and what its sovereign rights are.

The nature of the self is clarity; its feeling is peace; its activity is evolutionary and revolutionary. It is a bridge to the personality below, and what is above.

When the mind is still, and the self arises within, the heart will be full of happiness. Upon the still screen of the mind, the self will download, paint, what you need to know. We need to learn this additional power of the mind as a receiver of self-knowledge, a witness, which can then be anchored in the brain and the personality. The scientists and social philosophers would all enjoy such knowledge. They would also realise what a dark place, is the world without it.