Essay on “Criticisms of Conventional Morality”
1. What is your conscience? It is not only being aware but being aware that you are aware. It also includes a sense of the relationship between the mind and the world.
Could it be no more than the collection of prejudices that you were taught growing up?
It is also an awareness of the self as self-existing. Why do you trust your conscience? Descartes said it best, “I think therefore I am” everything else is a product of thought maybe even existence itself. That is where trust lays who better to trust than yourself?
Is it only because doing so “has brought you sustenance and honors” as Nietzsche suggests? No, it is because it is born of reason and it is from a purely philosophical perspective a construct of the mind and self.
2. Kant claims that the moral law – his categorical imperative – is to act only according to those maxims or principles of action that one could will to be a universal law of nature. That is, only act in ways that you would want everyone to act. What are Nietzsche’s criticisms of this idea?
Nietzsche refused to believe that values and morals carry a priori value.
3. Nietzsche maintains that every action is unique. What does he mean by this? All actions cannot be waited on a single value scale without considering all the variables in order to make a moral judgment. E.g. Killing is wrong but what about in self-defense?
How does this claim contribute to his critique of Kant?
It means that two moralities then are born the noble Good/Bad and the ignoble Good/Evil.
4. Nietzsche recommends that we create our own values and our own moral laws. How can we accomplish these things?
By adopting the age old saying doing unto others as you would unto yourself.
5. According to Nietzsche, different moral codes are designed to achieve difference purposes, that is, different practical aims. Is there any reason, then, to think that there is a moral code that is uniquely true?
Yes there are universal values that transcend all social and cognitive constructs if not then we would have no morality and society would break down.
6. Nietzsche claims to have “discovered two basic types” of morality. What are they?
The noble Good/Bad and the ignoble Good/Evil.
How do they differ from each other?
Ignoble values are reversal born out of resentment of the former created by the strong .e.g. the wealthy say wealth is good while the poor say it is a vice.
7. According to which type or morality does one have duties only to one’s peers? Respect is the morality for one’s peers.
Do you think this kind of moral code underwrites nationalism and patriotism?
No it is a created human cognitive construct that is a mechanism for collective protection and progress.
8. What does Nietzsche see as the difference between good versus bad and good versus evil?
He never gave an alternative to Kant.
9. Nietzsche claims that there are no moral facts whatsoever, that morality is merely symptomatology. What can he mean by this?
Morality doesn’t exist and that proving, providing or promoting a value means it is a value just a construct. He denies some values have an intrinsic value
Morality is a symptom of what? Civilization which is loss of freedom for we stop being like a bird of prey and have to be civil to each other thus civilization is the ultimate product.
Appearance and Reality
1. Russell says that in daily life we sometimes make certain assumptions that we later recognize as mistaken. Can you think of an example of a belief you were quite sure of, that you later found out was false?
My parents were infallible and all knowing.
2. What do you think Russell means when he says to view the world as a painter?
The painter creates his world through his five senses and his perception. A philosopher? A wise one who uses reason.
3. Russell says that the table in front of him isn’t brown all over. Why not? It is a question of perception and epytimology he may name it by a color not accepted as being called brown what point is Russell making by pointing out this simple fact? What I see and you see are two different things due to perception.
4. Isn’t the shape of the table always the same? No where would you have to be to view the table as a rectangle? From one end at a specific angle
5. How do Russell’s examples suggest a difference between appearance and reality?
One is perception born of the mind one is born of the physical world of fixed laws of physics.
The Will to believe
1. James argues that we do not have volitional control over our beliefs, that we cannot, just by willing it, believe that Abraham Lincoln’s existence is a myth, for example. Is he right? No he is wrong we can have reason to use to destroy false information as well as science e.g. everybody knows Columbus didn’t discover America simply because he was lost thought he was India and found the ameri-indians there before him
If he is right, then are we really responsible in any sense for our beliefs? We are responsible and a distinction must be made between belief and conviction. There is such a thing as wrong conviction and right belief
2 Why does Hames write that “our faith is someone else’s faith, and in the greatest matters this is most the case”? Do you agree with him? Yes. It is interesting that the god of the conquered e.g. looks exactly like the conquer. It is a wonder that black Africa was conquered by Europeans and their god now looks like a European Jesus. Spanish conquistadors or British colonialist,
3. James maintains that as rational thinkers our goal is to gain truth and avoid error. Yet it is challenging to pursue this goal when the evidence is mixed and inconclusive. James thinks that when the evidence for and against some proposition X is inconclusive, we have three choices: (1) we can withhold belief and continue to amass evidence for and against until we can make a more informed decision, (2) we can go ahead and believe X anyway, or (3) we can go ahead and disbelieve X anyway. What would Clifford recommend we do in such a case?
I have my own solution first proposed by the Muslim scholar and theologian Ibn Sina known as Avores. Double truth. Where both can be true.
4. James thinks that the strategy of withholding belief when faced with conflicting evidence amounts to accepting this risk averse strategy: better to miss our on some truths rather than add more errors. He argues that a more risk positive strategy is equally rational, thought: better to add more errors rather than miss our on some truths. Which approach sounds more reasonable to you?
Better to add errors so that they maybe eliminated and there in lies the wisdom because error brings truth and truth easily falls to error.
5. James is concerned with whether we should have very high standards for belief or lower our standards and be willing to believe on shakier evidence. What do you think about this issue in a legal setting?
Never in a legal setting because innocent people will be robbed of their lives and time.
6. High standards means that we would convict on very compelling evidence (thus seldom convicting the innocent, but at the same time setting guilty people free against whom we had little evidence). Lower standards means that we would be willing to convict on weaker evidence (thus mistakenly convicting more innocent people, but also convicting more guilty people). Is it better to (1) let some guilty go free rather than convict more innocents, or (2) convict more innocents rather than let more guilty go free?
Better let guilty go free why what goes around comes around. The society has to change to chastise the guilty. E.g. everybody shuns them.
6. What should we do if we have no evidence for or against a claim at all? Should we withhold belief in such a case? yes