Re: MD Intellectual Art (Dynamic Morality)

From: Valence (
Date: Tue Apr 01 2003 - 03:32:26 BST

  • Next message: Valence: "Re: MD Burden of Proof"

    Hey Platt,
    I don't think that you and I really need to get into this whole "absolutes"
    debate again, so I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet...

    > How do you guys explain the following?
    > PIRSIG
    > But what's not so obvious is that, given a value-centered Metaphysics of
    > Quality, it is absolutely, scientifically moral for a doctor to prefer the
    > patient. This is not just an arbitrary social convention that should apply
    > to some doctors but not to all doctors, or to some cultures but not all
    > cultures. It's true for all people at all times, now and forever, a moral
    > pattern of reality as real as H20. We're at last dealing with morals on
    > the basis of reason. (13)
    > Looks like a moral absolute to me. :-)

    Context is everything....

    PIRSIG (LILA ch13 p183)
    In general, given a choice of two courses to follow and all other things
    being equal, that choice which is more Dynamic, that is, at a higher level
    of evolution, is more moral. An example of this is the statement that,
    "It's more moral for a doctor to kill a germ than to allow the germ to kill
    his patient....

    In context, we can see that the alleged "moral absolute" is actually an
    example of the general rule that given a choice of two courses to follow and
    *all other things being equal*, that choice which is at a higher level of
    evolution is more moral. The "all other things being equal" is crucial to
    understanding the example of the doctor and the germ because without that
    little phrase, we really would have a 'moral absolute'. The 'all other
    things being equal' qualifier lets us know that the example only applies
    under certain circumstances by warning us that other factors could upset the
    application of the rule. It's not really difficult to think of an example
    of such a situation, here's a variation of an old one the utilitarians liked
    to throw at Kant:

    Imagine that a man is being killed by a germ which his doctor knows how to
    kill. However, the germ that is killing him a unique entity that can be
    synthetically processed into a cure for a major plague that is threatening
    the continued existence of society. To extract enough of the germ to make
    the cure-all, the doctor must let the germ thrive far past the point at
    which the man can no longer be cured. That is, to save society, the doctor
    must let the germ kill the patient.

    Do you think Pirsig's "moral absolute" applies in such a scenario?

    take care

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