Well, to put it briefly, as I say in the blog’s banner, I argue for the right-to-die, and against the religious obstruction of that right, so anything which impinges on the issue, even indirectly, is of importance to me. That’s why disputing scientism seems to me to be important, because it implicitly defines away all other forms of inquiry which do not satisfy the canonical rules of scientific inquiry and decision. And that includes morality.
Jon Jermey raises an interesting question in response to Eric.
Eric, once again I think the ball is in your court: what, exactly, is the difference between a moral decision and a plain old ordinary decision? I’ve been asking this of various people for several years now, and I still haven’t got a plausible answer. Here are some of the suggestions that have been put up, and why they don’t work:
“A moral decision is one that affects other people.” — but all my decisions affect other people in some way. “A moral decision potentially has great consequences for many people.” — so does the decision to build a sewerage works or an opera house, but these are not normally regarded as moral decisions. And this definition would rule out pretty much all of my decisions straight away. “A moral decision is when you do what I want you to against your own inclinations” — comment superfluous, surely. “A moral decision is when you do what God says.” — ditto.
My personal favourite at the moment is — “A moral decision is one that makes you feel guilty, no matter what you choose.” — but I don’t think it has the rigour to stand up in debate.
So again, just as you need to define ‘science’ in order to explain what you’re objecting to about it, I think you have to tell us what a ‘moral decision’ is in order to explain how these differ from the plain old everyday decisions we can make effectively with reason and logic.
I think J.J. dismisses the first answer much too quickly. I think it’s basically right. He too is right that all our decisions affect other people in some way, but many of those decisions affect other people (and/or animals and/or the environment as a whole) in ways too tiny to measure or take into consideration. If I decide to turn north instead of south while taking a walk, the ways that decision affects people or the environment are too small to detect. If on the other hand I decide not to walk to the grocery store but to drive [never mind for the moment that I don’t have a car], that makes a detectable difference, and is worth taking into consideration.
Morality is about taking externals into account – other people; animals; the ecosystem we all depend on. It rests on the awareness that the self is not all there is. It’s a corrective to pure selfishness. Many purely “selfish” decisions don’t count as morally selfish because they aren’t zero sum. If I go out for a walk to admire the sunset, nobody is worse off because I do, even though I’m the only one who enjoys that particular walk. If I build a viewing tower that blocks other people’s view of the sunset, those people are worse off. (And the decision to build a sewerage works or an opera house should of course be normally regarded as moral as well as other things. Of course it should.)