Monday, December 20, 2010

Reflection on Naturalistic Ethics

David P. Barash's article Two Cheers for Nature is a very thought-provoking piece. Here are a few of my thoughts on it:

1) Good for him for overturning the Rousseuean fetishization of nature as good.

2) The is-ought distinction is much more complex than being a mere fallacy. Not all ises result in oughts, to be sure, but all oughts must come from some is.

3) He is wrong that life is a zero-sum game. Or, more precisely, he is wrong that it is merely a zero-sum game. There are many positive-sum games (and some negative-sum games). In fact, that might be a good way of defining the good -- anything that results in a positive-sum game. Another way of putting this is Alexander Argyros' formulation of ethics as the good being anything that results in greater complexity and the bad being anything that reduces complexity (negative-sum).

4) His reflections on tragic ethics reminds me of Frederick Turner's reflections on them. Perhaps zero-sum ethics are tragic ethics?
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