What Kant meant by the is/ought divide


Cripes on toast. John Loftus moved to FtB recently. His blog is live now — has been for a few days in fact. I even helped him migrate Debunking Christianity from its old Blogspot host, and in doing so, only managed to get the first 150 megs of his blog before Blogspot crapped out on the download. And that was the biggest export I managed to squeeze out of Google’s servers, in fact. Evidently there’s a script processing limit that I was hitting repeatedly. No wonder — the largest I managed to grab was an order of magnitude larger than anything else I’d helped migrate into FtB up to this point. I am a very tiny fish in a very large pond, swimming with some whales, pretending that I’m just as important.

Loftus posted this video by QualiaSoup, a Youtube philosopher whom I absolutely adore and have linked a number of times in the past, so I’m nicking it for some easy and brainy content.

So Kant really wanted people to understand that we can’t assume the goodness of an action as inherent to the action rather than as our preference for the action making it good. He was saying our preferences — our subjective opinions about certain cases — make that which we think is good, good.

Interestingly, this reflects on an argument Daniel Fincke and I had some time ago about the use of the term “subjective morality” as opposed to “objective morality”. And the video elucidates my ideas about morality far better than I think I ever could. Subjectivity isn’t necessarily loose-weave and differing from person to person. One can build a subjective framework by which we can judge actions based on that framework in an objective manner. If we build principles, like “protect one another”, and judge actions based on those principles, despite the fact that the principles were created subjectively, the actual moral duties stemming from those principles are objective. And those duties are subjective as regards our knowledge.

Comments

  1. sinned34 says

    I am a very tiny fish in a very large pond, swimming with some whales, pretending that I’m just as important.

    Of course you are! Why do you think I spend time posting here instead of on Pharyngula or Bad Astronmy (or Evil Is Underrated, lately)? I have a job, brew beer, play hockey & video games, and even have a sex life, so I don’t have enough spare time to dedicate myself to lowering the quality of the discourse in threads of hundreds of comments. It’s much easier to kill off all discussion here.

    Oh, and interesting video. That’s whatever you were talking about for you!

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