Arguable Evil

I believe that good things are rationally good.  I think that if something is good then we can explain its goodness, and that the only method that we have to discern what things (states/actions) are good is rational thought.  What we analyze with rational thought is experience, so feelings are an important component – they are a part of the experiential data that we must factor into our rational reflection.

One of the counter-arguments that has been posed to me on this topic is ‘what if there are rational arguments for why we should do bad things?’  The example that was given to me was ‘what if a white supremacist, pointing out statistically lower education levels of immigrants, were to argue that white people should be favored for higher level management positions.’  Now, there are of course flaws with this argument (not to reflect poorly on my conversation partner, since it was just an illustrative example made up on the spot), but I am committed to saying that if someone could present a strong argument that it would be good (in some sense) to bar immigrants from upper management then the correct course of action would be to seriously consider their proposal.  It may also not be an entirely satisfactory answer if I say that since I think all good things are rational that if it is the best argument then we should probably consider it as good.  Torture is probably a better illustrative example.  There are some good arguments for torture, but there are many people who believe that torture is always wrong.

The best response that I have is that this attitude seems to me to be a dogmatic attitude.  As such it becomes like all the other dogmatic arguments: arbitrary and unable to progress.  I am committed to the belief that I should never discount an argument on general principles.

Thank you for reading, let me know what you think,

Ryan Workman

via Blogger


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