Re: MD Intellectual Art (Dynamic Morality)

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Fri Apr 04 2003 - 14:34:54 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "Re: MD Burden of Proof"

    Hey Rick:

    > 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...

    Whenever I see self-refuting statements, I'll point them out for what they
    > PLATT
    > > 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. :-)
    > RICK
    > Context is everything....

    Ah, good old situational ethics. There are no universal moral laws.
    > 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....
    > RICK
    > 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?
    An unlikely scenario. Suppose the patient is Gandhi? The Pope?

    Focusing on the phrase "all other things being equal" reflects your
    situational ethics stance which in my book the MoQ rejects by laying
    out a specific moral hierarchy.


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