Monday, October 17, 2005

Same Premise, Different Conclusion

If, in our attempt to refute the false conclusion of an argument, we accept its false premises, how can our own conclusion be sound? But that is precisely what Plato did when he gave the Western world the idea or form of universal goodness. His refutation of the sophists was on their terms, because they were the ones who rejected discrete custom on the grounds that varying and unnatural were synonymous qualifiers.


brainmarket said...

It would seem like custom in the form of development of religious and moral codes would be just one of many "natural" ways in which man has adaptated to his environment.

I have not read much on this subject (and when I say "this subject" I think I may be wandering back to the topics of other posts here), nor on any aspect of philosphy for that matter, but I think I recall Peter Singer (of "Animal Liberation" fame) bemoaning the paucity of true universal moral standards. Perhaps the torture of infants really is the ONLY act that would be condemned universally among humans.

Nature's Rebel said...

Your first remark is exactly what I am arguing. What has troubled people since the ancient Greeks is that religious and moral codes have varied so much as to make them irrelevant. That then leads into your point about Singer and the remark I made elsewhere that we are addicted to universal morality as an ideal, even if we can't find it in reality. How do we reconcile accepting the naturalness of varying and even conflicting codes among different peoples (which might in theory even permit or encourage the torture of infants) with the belief that morality has to be universal in order to be real? I will keep coming back to this theme over and over. I find it to be one of the keys to understanding our current ethical condition.