There are only two sides, and you are on one or the other of them

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.

— Donald J. Trump

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the involvement of President of the United States in the evil of racism. The counter-protesters in Charlottesville lapsed into evil, to be sure. Meeting violence with violence, they handed their adversaries a huge victory. But their error does not make them the moral equivalent of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen. Seizing on their error to construct such an equivalence, as Donald Trump has done, is positively obscene. “Grab them by the pussy” pales in comparison.

264 thoughts on “There are only two sides, and you are on one or the other of them

  1. walto,

    Sorry–I wrote that before I’d read your big (and interesting) subsequent post regarding cooperation. I see you do give that pride of place.

  2. walto: Of course, then we’ve got ‘conducive to cooperation’ as a sort of foundational good.

    Depending exactly on what one means by “foundational good,” yes. I don’t want to take “conducive to cooperation” as a brute Given, “self-evident by the light of reason” or what have you. But sure, I do think that conduciveness to world-responsive cooperation is, if you will, the final end of ethical (and also of epistemic) norms.

    walto,

    Sorry–I wrote that before I’d read your big (and interesting) subsequent post regarding cooperation. I see you do give that pride of place.

    Yes, my agenda is to explain why cooperation is a final end for beings like us, how cooperation can be thwarted, and how best to resolve situations in which cooperation has been thwarted.

    Again, what’s driving all this is the underlying thought that for finite cognitive agents like us, with all sorts of built-in parameters — what Nietzsche would call “perspectives” — the only route that we have towards more objective knowledge involves cooperation.

  3. Kantian Naturalist: My point was that it’s muddled to try and put the necessary point in terms of “what is inside the mind” and “what is outside the mind,” because minds aren’t buckets. A mind isn’t the kind of thing that has a boundary, with some things inside of it and other things outside of it, like putting water in a bucket.

    You’re going to get some people here very upset with talk like that.

  4. Mung,

    Apparently emergence can create all kinds of metaphysical entities.

    All you have to do is combine a bunch of physics, and suddenly you get non-physics.

  5. Kantian Naturalist: But sure, I do think that conduciveness to world-responsive cooperation is, if you will, the final end of ethical (and also of epistemic) norms.

    I’d agree with that, for what little my opinion is worth. At present, I think that Kant’s Categorical Imperative is the closest we can come to a coherent idea of objective-morality.

  6. If I really felt a burning need for a comprehensive metaphysics that ties together everything that I think is true or likely to be true, emergentism would not be a bad way for me to go. But I don’t, so it isn’t.

  7. Kantian Naturalist:
    If I really felt a burning need for a comprehensive metaphysics that ties together everything that I think is true or likely to be true, emergentism would not be a bad way for me to go. But I don’t, so it isn’t.

    And if one accepted such a premise, and were asked, “How can physics make non-physics” the answer would be- “Who knows, it just does.”?

  8. phoodoo: And if one accepted such a premise, and were asked, “How can physics make non-physics” the answer would be- “Who knows, it just does.”?

    It works for religious metaphysics

  9. Mung,

    You’re going to get some people here very upset with talk like that.

    I think I can just about cope. One can still, surely, distinguish the mind of an individual human from the mind of God? If one claims one can’t – everything is part of one big Mind, as certain sects might have it – then it’s me who starts to think ‘incoherent’. I’m not sure one is even obliged to accept the non-bounded nature of minds. I’m pretty sure mine is bounded by my skull. Whack me with a baseball bat and see what happens to it. I’d soon stop fretting about what I ‘should’ do.

  10. phoodoo: And if one accepted such a premise, and were asked, “How can physics make non-physics” the answer would be- “Who knows, it just does.”?

    But then theists can’t complain, as that is basically the way they think God is the sustainer and creator of everything.

    How can God sustain and create everything? Who knows, he just can…

  11. phoodoo: And if one accepted such a premise, and were asked, “How can physics make non-physics” the answer would be- “Who knows, it just does.”?

    Maybe. I don’t know.

    I think I understand the objection to emergentism here. The objection is that emergentism violates the principle of sufficient reason. The lack of an explanation as to precisely why it is that X emerges from Y is thought to be a problem with the whole account.

    I myself think of the PSR as a rule of inquiry rather than a description of reality. It says, in effect, “don’t rest content with a description, but always look for an explanation!”

    That said, I worry that emergentism — and also reductionism, for that matter — simply move far too quickly in their attempts to turn the water of science into the wine of metaphysics. When it comes to philosophy of science, I’m more interested in understanding scientific practice than in speculating about results or discoveries. I’m more interested in understanding what physicists do than I am in what physics says. Developing metaphysics based on what scientists do seems far more productive than armchair speculation.

  12. If we are defining objective as something that is universal amongst humans, then I think that it is fair to say that our sense of morality is objective. That is, our deeply held feelings that certain things are right and others are wrong is objective. We all have these feelings. And our deeply held conviction that others should have the same understanding of right and wrong as we do is also objective. We all have the same convictions. And it would not be difficult to rationalize how this sense of morality could evolve.

    But there is absolutely no evidence that the specifics of what constitutes these rights and wrongs is objective. Even for something like killing another human being, different people make exceptions for different reasons.

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