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Old 01-17-2020, 01:25 AM
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Jim B. is offline
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Politics and 'Questionable Metaphysical Assumptions'?


There is this excellent book I once read, and have to tell you all about. Utilitarianism For and Against by J.J.C. Smart & Bernard Williams. Yeah, I got it about 20 years ago. In a college bookstore, in fact. I think the two authors are dead now.

Anyways, in it, Smart tries to justify the ethical doctrine of utilitarianism, on meta-ethically nihilistic grounds. (Williams is apparently also a nihilist, I think. But he writes the rebuttal.) Anyways, in one point in the treatise, Smart says a lot of moral theories can be debunked by the fact they rest on 'questionable metaphysical assumptions'. I think he means religion and God.

Now I have to tell you, I still believe in God, but not much else. I don't for example believe in an afterlife anymore. But in my heart of hearts, I think I am a natural law theorist, when it comes to the subject of meta-ethics. I just tend to think there isa higher order to things. And right and wrong is inherent in all of this. (Modern philosophers to hold the same theory as I do are called ethical realists, I think.) But Smart does make an interesting point. If nihilism and atheism are right, then a lot of what is going on in this world is baseless and misguided. In Saudi Arabia they will chop off your arm for stealing a loaf of bread becauseit is 'Allah's will'. Even in this country, there is a lot of that kind of stuff going on. Christian fundamentalists supportTrump, because they want more 'religious freedom', like the right to discriminate against gays and unwed mothers. And they further want original intent judges appointed (ironically for much the same reason).

Are they all wrong? And if they are, what is the solution? Communists want to enforce atheism by rule of law and conquest. But that may be too strong. So what is the solution then, to the problem J.J.C.Smart proposes (assuming it's correct)?

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Last edited by Jim B.; 01-17-2020 at 01:26 AM. Reason: Typo.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:40 AM
Velocity is online now
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If atheism and nihilism are true, then, yes, a great deal of religious stuff is unnecessary or pointless. No reason not to have full access to abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, etc. Those things only make sense banning 1) if you believe in a God and 2) believe that following that God means having to ban such things.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:54 PM
Crane is offline
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Most religion is non-sense if your definition is derived by asking each religion to describe all of the others and compile the result. The only commonality might be that reality encompasses an omnipotent, omniscient being but probably does not resolve whether that being interacts with individual humans.

So, religion has not and does not offer solutions. Which leaves us with the need for a secular government and strict separation of church and state. (It's an epiphany I had in the shower this morning). Folks can believe what they wish but they are not allowed to impose their beliefs on anyone else.
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Old 01-18-2020, 01:42 AM
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I'll carve a god for you to worship. Be sure to send me us tithes. I'll pray for you to the carved godling. More tithes ==> more prayers ==> more blessings. Any god that doesn't work for you should be discarded. Jehovah answers prayers, but mostly NO. That's not cost-effective. Worship gods offering a guaranteed return. Berkshire-Hathaway probably qualifies.
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